PHILADELPHIA — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said the city’s plan to create a safe drug injection site now that it has the legal go-ahead to do so “is simply the latest dose of despair offered by a confused and suffering culture.”
The culture “refuses to understand the true nature of both addiction and those who are enslaved by it,” he wrote Oct. 25 in his weekly column in CatholicPhilly.com, the archdiocesan news outlet.
On Oct. 2, U.S. District Court Judge Gerald McHugh ruled in favor of the plan by the Philadelphia nonprofit group Safehouse to open a safe injection site, where people can use their own illegal drugs under medical supervision, saying it does not violate the federal Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. Department of Justice had filed a legal challenge to block the facility.
Philadelphia would be the first U.S. city to open a safe injection site. It is modeled after a facility that has operated in Vancouver, British Columbia, since 2003. Many other U.S. cities are planning to follow Philadelphia and Vancouver in opening their own sites.
“Supporters claim such sites offer a humane response to the agony of those trapped in substance abuse,” Chaput wrote, but “as those in recovery often say, truth is the first casualty of addiction.”
“Safe injection sites show how facts can be disregarded to serve politicized public health policy, misguided compassion and flawed data,” he said, adding that they “oversimplify addiction, reducing their clients to one-dimensional creatures who must be anesthetized lest they realize their true condition and seek real recovery.”
God “did not create us to ingest illicit drugs, even in ‘supervised’ settings,” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes that church teaching clear, he said. The archbishop said there is a lack of “solid, rigorous research on safe injection sites,” and he also pointed to the human misery caused worldwide by drugs and addiction and the exploitation of people by dangerous drug cartels.
“The profound human misery of even one individual in addiction cannot justify safe injection sites,” he said, adding that “an array of reliable recovery options” for addiction already exist, “among them medical treatment, abstinence, counseling, support groups and above all the love of Christ.”
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