By John Waters
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development is to host a conference on addictions.
The conference entitled “Drugs and Addictions, an obstacle to Integral Human development” will take place from 29 November to 1 December inside the Vatican’s Synod Hall.
Presentations will be given on a number of subjects and areas of concern, especially addictions to drugs, gambling, sex and pornography as well as best practices for treatment and prevention.
When announcing the conference, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development quoted Pope Francis’ address to drug enforcement officers in 2015. The Pope described the spread of drugs as being driven by a “shameful market that crosses national and international borders.” The Dicastery went on to detail the alarming statistic that almost 5% of the world’s population have, at some point, taken drugs. Of those 5%, “29.6 million of those users suffer from drug disorders. This means that their drug taking is harmful to the point that they experience drug dependence and require treatment.”
Another cause for alarm is the fact that many drugs are now perceived by society as a form of leisure, recreational activity or even as a sign of wealth and status.
During the discussions and presentations the spotlight will also be on the implications of legalizing various substances. Noting that a number of countries have recently legalized Cannabis use, the conference organisers point out that this solution may, ultimately, cause further problems. “Internet addiction, pornography and sex addiction, as well as pathological gambling, or ludopathy, have for some time been a rampant scourge that further diversify addictions. The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”
Speakers at the conference will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo. There will also be representatives from the World Federation against Drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Carabinieri, one of Italy’s police forces.
On Friday 31 November, conference participants will take part in an evening Mass in St Peters Basillica. On 1 December the conference will conclude with an audience with Pope Francis.