Pubdate: Sun, 20 Jul 2014
Source: Independent on Sunday (Malta)
Copyright: 2014, Standard Publications Ltd
Author: Mario Attard
Page: 24


While in Malta the political sector of the country is greatly engaged 
in the debate as to whether or not drugs should be decriminalised, it 
would be wise to propose the Church's view on the subject.

As we all know, if the Church simply ignores her golden input she 
would be betraying one of her main roles in the world, namely that of 
forming people's consciences. In order that this great ideal is 
lovingly realised, I shall be offering Pope Francis' teaching on the matter.

When addressing the 31st International Drug Enforcement Conference, 
which was held at the Vatican on 20 June, the Holy Father said that 
drugs are a serious and complex "evil" that plagues our society.

Thus, they are to be combated absolutely and resolutely. The Bishop 
of Rome emphasised that we, as Christians, are inherently called to 
help the needy, including people who have become prey to "the spiral 
of drugs". The Pope said: "The scourge of drugs continues to rage in 
impressive shapes and sizes, powered by an ugly market that crosses 
national and continental boundaries. In this way, there is a growing 
danger for young people and teenagers".

Furthermore, Pope Francis said that, on encountering this reality, as 
Christians we are duty-bound to give a helping hand to those who are 
battling this ferocious plague. He said that "the Church, faithful to 
the command of Jesus to go wherever there is a human being, thirsty, 
hungry, in prison, has not abandoned those who have fallen into the 
spiral of drugs, but with its creative love goes out to meet them... 
takes them by the hand, through the work of many workers and 
volunteers so they could rediscover their dignity, helping to 
resurrect those resources, those talents that the drugs had buried, 
but that could not be deleted, since every man is created in the 
image and likeness of God."

The victims of drug addiction always lose, which is why the Pope 
emphatically stressed: "Let me say very clearly: no one wins with 
drugs! Drugs are an evil, and with evils there can be no failure or 

The Pope admitted that users are frequently those who are struggling 
to deal with problems and hopelessness. An example of hopelessness is 
the 75 million people who are currently unemployed in Europe. 
Irrespective of life challenges, Pope Francis strongly encouraged a 
zero tolerance to drugs. "You still must say no to all drugs". 
Nevertheless when you abstain from drugs, you are affirming and 
welcoming life. He said: "You can say yes to life, yes to love, yes 
to others, yes to education, yes to sports, yes at work, yes to more 
job opportunities."

Even if we Christians are obliged by our Christian vocation to show 
our solidarity with the victims of the drugs spiral, the priority to 
be worked on is prevention. The Pope gave practical examples of how 
prevention can be viewed: "Job opportunities, education, sports, a 
healthy life: this is the way of drug prevention. If you say 'yes' to 
these, then there is no place for drugs, there is no place for 
alcohol abuse and other addictions."

In his concluding speech, Pope Francis expressed the hope that the 
goals discussed at the meeting, namely "to coordinate antidrug 
policies, to share relevant information and to develop an operational 
strategy aimed at combating drug trafficking" are attained. The Holy 
Father encouraged participants to persevere with their sterling work 
of helping those "eager to escape the dependency on drugs". He urged 
them to "commit themselves to rebuilding their lives [since this is] 
an incentive to look ahead with confidence."

Pope Francis' providential intervention in the 31st International 
Drug Enforcement Conference shows the Church's unrelenting mission to 
proclaim that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human 
being is the foundation of a moral vision for our society. In so 
doing the Church upholds the belief that every person is precious. 
People are more important than things and the measure of every 
institution is whether it weakens or strengthens the life and dignity 
of the human being. After all, is not God capable of turning broken 
pieces into masterpieces?

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap SAN GWANN
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom