God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

25.10.2009 Ignorance and the sensus fidei

The following interview from Cardinal Napier (Durban) was given to the the Vatic an newsletter, several news station report:

Cardinal says media has ignored work of African bishops’ synod

Three weeks of intensive discussion among African bishops about the challenges they face in their poor and often war-torn countries have been largely ignored by the media, a South African cardinal said. Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban and a co-president of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, also has complained that news about Africa in newspapers and on television in the rest of the world is usually bad news, and that positive stories are rarely reported. The Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, asked Cardinal Napier Oct. 23 whether sufficient attention had been given to the synod; he replied, “Absolutely not. It’s been very little.” Some Catholic newspapers and radio stations across Africa covered the synod, which was to close Oct. 25, but “as far as the rest of the media is concerned, I don’t think they are doing much,” the cardinal said. “Spiritual or religious things are not reported, unless they are controversial,” he said. “In that case,” he added, “they are sure to be published!” The 275 members of the synod have discussed a vast array of topics regarding the church’s work in Africa, including economic injustice, war, hunger, Christian-Islamic dialogue, family life, environmental exploitation and the particular plight of women, just to name a few. Even before the Vatican newspaper interview, Cardinal Napier had taken a gentle swipe at the media for ignoring the positive aspects of the continent while emphasizing disasters and tragedies. “Africa is much more,” he told journalists Oct. 14. “It embodies values and abilities that can offer spiritual richness, even to the rest of the world.” He admitted in the L’Osservatore interview that the bishops themselves during the synod presented the difficulties faced in Africa, often dramatically. “We are trying to describe the African reality, and unfortunately it must be said that in many parts there are serious problems,” he said. But, the cardinal said, “there are also positive realities,” like the reconciliation processes in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa. “We should ask the media to announce good news as well,” he said. An example of good news that most media outlets would tend to ignore, he said, “is the growth and deepening of the faith there.”

In this interview he also complained that the church is only judged in the fields of HIV and AIDS in terms of the condom issue, leaving out the great work the church is doing otherwise in this field. I agree with the cardinal. But for me, this shows how sensitive and critical this issue is for the public and that since 1968 this issue has not been resolved within our own church. The “sensus fidelium”, necessary for the churches’s speaking about truth as one criteria, has even 40 years later refused to embrace the well-known encyclica in its entireness. We as the church can try to ignore this matter of fact, but it will not go away. It will bite us until we confront ourselves as church with this reality.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Reflection, , , , , , , , , ,

HIV, Development and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and social development in Africa has its challenges. You will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa, about politics and whatever triggers my interest. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me. Blogging means to initiate thoughts and discussions and for the writer to formulate what is loosely running around in the heart and mind in need of being sorted and spoken out.

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