Pope Francis on Saturday encouraged greater coordination of anti-drug and anti-addiction policies through networks of solidarity and nearness to the victims affected by these pathologies. He was speaking to some 450 participants in the international conference in the Vatican on the theme, “Drugs and Addictions: an Obstacle to Integral Human Development”.
The conference, which took place from 29 November to 1 December, examined issues such as addictions to drugs, gambling, sex, pornography and trafficking. Mr Darren Butler of the Irish Bishops’ Drugs Initiative was a participant at the conference which was sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Pope Francis noted that that the “worrying phenomenon of drugs and old and new addictions” is derived from a “secularized cultural climate, marked by consumer capitalism, self-sufficiency, loss of values, existential emptiness, precariousness of ties and relationships.”
Drug addiction, he said, is an open wound in our society, whose victims are ensnared into exchanging their freedom for slavery. He thus called for combating the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide, and urged governments to courageously undertake the fight against those who “deal in death”.
Young people and others, the Pope observed, are lured into a bondage hard to escape, resulting in the loss of meaning in life and sometimes in the loss of life itself.
In this situation, the Church feels the urgency of putting the human person back at the centre of the socio-economic-cultural discourse; a humanism founded on the “Gospel of Mercy”. This calls for a truly effective pastoral action in order to alleviate, care for and heal the immense suffering caused by various forms of addiction, the Pope said,
The Holy Father said the Catholic Church is working with civil, national and international institutions and various educational agencies, to combat the spread of addictions through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration projects in order restore dignity to those who have lost it. This calls for a combined effort among groups and agencies to implement social programmes aimed at health, family support and education.
The Pope backed the desire of the conference for better coordination of anti-drugs and anti-addiction policies through networks of solidarity and closeness to those suffering from these pathologies.