Since I picked up the topic “HIV and AIDS” in the context of being a priest, life became more difficult. Touching and questioning the moral teaching did not go well with the authorities and even being outspoken about it and publishing my concerns, experiences and questions lead in late nineties to the fact, that I could not be a chaplain to a German-speaking Catholic Community anymore. obedience hurrying ahead and being scared of the mighty Vatican – induced with some jealousy at times brought an end to it – and let me to pick up the pieces and – being lucky – brought me to the position I am now in. And I honestly cannot complain as it gives me all opportunities to work in my beloved South Africa and with and amongst those less fortune.
But I have the feeling that the atmosphere in my church is changing. The unfortunate attempt of Benedict XVI to get the Pius XII Society on board, the permission to more mass services of the old order as the exceptional rule brought warfare into the church – instead of achieving more peace and stability within the church, we are in a constant battle between Latin and mother tongue, between a salvation only within the RC church and a Holy Spirit who is able to work where he wants to work. The attempt of the Vatican to be inclusive – at least for those living in the past and refusing to come out and face modern life – is for a normal priest dealing with everyday’s sorrows and plights a situation not asked for and making the pastoral work more difficult. Reading the pamphlets and attacks of right wingers in the church on mainly European websites make me feel sick and tired. The church has come a long way in its tradition and in its way to comfort and proclaim the love of God to those living today. Tradition is a way, not a status quo. I am not sure what drives the Vatican, the pope and others to bring the church in turbulent waters without any need or necessity. But they should be aware that in doing so they make the life of priests not easier, they divide energy into directions without any need or positive outcome and they force us to focus on topics put to rest a long time ago.
The way of the church is forward, God calls us to a future, not back into the past and I hope and pray that this storm of arguments, attacks and unwarranted battle is over soon. And that we can concentrate again on a liturgy which has a meaning to most people of God, a way forward answering the questions of today’s faithful in a way understandable for them. Let those hanging on to old traditions be as they are – God does not mind diversity and if they think that salvation only happens within their church – so it be.. They are then happy and we can continue to serve the people without having an extra battle field within the church.