EOC to Mobilize 500,000 Strong Clergy to Fight HIV/AIDS

Addis Ababa (ENA) The Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) is committed to mobilize its 500,000-strong clerical members to the fight against HIV/AIDS across the county, His Holiness the Patriarch has said.

His Holiness Abune Paulos told ENA yesterday that EOC' s clergy would be instrumental in educating followers of the church about the devastating effects of the pandemic on the lives of the Ethiopian peoples.

The Patriarch said the church could not sit idle at a time when thousands of Ethiopians were dying of HIV/AIDS and millions more are affected by the pandemic.

"When our people are facing such threat, I think it would be appropriate for the church to be involved in this kind of service," he emphasized and went on: "The committed clergy who have been serving the society in their own way could give positive advice and counseling services to the people. Since they (clergy) are trusted by the people, they will be that much effective."

EOC is already involved in HIV/AIDS prevention activities under way in the country, but it will consolidate its participation in the fight against the pandemic, Abune Paulos said.

According to the Patriarch, HIV/AIDS is a national crisis and, as the disease is the killer of the fittest, "it has to be stopped". He said unless the spread of the disease is controlled, it would have a devastating effect of the country's economic development.

The sexual behaviour of the youth has to be changed to contain the spread of the pandemic, he said, adding EOC will continue to play a significant role in this regard.

About 50 per cent of Ethiopia's estimated 60 million population are said to be Orthodox Christians.

Ethiopia has 2.5 million HIV infected people and 600,000 AIDS orphans, according to recent studies.