ADDIS ABABA, May 13, 2003 ( – Patriarch Abune Paulos of Ethiopia’s 30 million-strong Orthodox Church has courageously defended the Orthodox teaching on fighting AIDS with abstinence and fidelity.  In an interview with UN Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) Patriarch Paulos said “The change of behaviour is one of the key things to deal with, especially with this AIDS problem because it is of a personal choice.”  When asked by IRIN “Would you advocate the use of condoms?,” he responded “No. I have one choice only. From childhood until adolescence, when they are ready to get married, everyone stays sanctified, virginal, disciplined,” he said.  Concluding that after marriage the couple must remain faithful “till death do they part.”  Asked: “Do you disagree with the UN which does advocate using condoms?”, the patriarch responded by sidestepping the question.  “I only teach my own way. I would not like to be an obstacle to anyone,” he said.  The interview then presented the common slander against the Christian method of the approach to AIDS.  “What is your response to criticism that the church advocates using Holy Water to treat AIDS?,” asked IRIN.  Patriarch Paulos responded that “It is not the church which advocates that Holy Water is a medicine so you have to come and drink Holy Water and forget anything else. No, it is the victim who has come believing and drunk the Holy Water and went back to the doctor and found himself to be clean – he is the one proclaiming this. It is not the church which is asking people to drink Holy Water. The church’s teaching is to believe in God, to follow the rule of God and to trust in God – so that God could cure them. That is not a sin.”  See the IRIN interview:


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