God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

A real Easter for the church?

Watching closely the first days of the new pope and the reaction of the church officials it is amazing or shocking to see how quick people change the tune and the approach to their ministry. Performing last week still like electors in the medieval time they now preach about poverty and a new direction in the church. Not that I am not in favor of this direction; I have been my whole life advocating that the church must be there where the reality of life meets our faith. What astonishes me is how fast people can turn around and run in the opposite direction. “Faehnlein im Wind” (Going with the wind all times) ?  – or is there really a deep sense emerging that the church served itself the most in the last years and that next to the gospel and sometimes even above came the career and pomp and glory for those in positions. The power of the powerless were marginalized and often forgotten. Whoever went to Rome to attend an audience: it was the triumphed church, almost like a medieval theater performance and instead of embrace one saw mostly the raised finger to exhort the faithful – a teaching church spelling out the “do and do not” Maybe all this shows that the church also suffers a from the danger of relativism and that centralism can distract from the core  message of the gospel: Looking always to Rome means no time no time to look for those next to oneself in the local church.

It seems that the Catholic world breath a sight of relief after this election of Pope Francis and that somehow change is in the air – and I am well aware that the theology of Pope Frances is also sound conservative, but does it really matter when we are dealing with a world where the poor  and marginalized are the those to whom the gospel should bring liberty, justice and a new sense of life.  “The numbers of people living below the poverty datum line are staggering. 3 billion people live on less than US$2 per day. 1.4 billion People live on less than US$1.25/day – and such people in economic terms have become a definition of those who live under the conditions of “extreme global poverty.” An estimated 30,000 children die each day due to poverty  – that is 18 children a minute; a child every 3 seconds.  2.6 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate sanitation and about 885 million people do not have access to clean water. Every day, 4, 100 children die from severe diarrhea – as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene. Approximately 600 million children live in extreme poverty. Nearly 11,700 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly two-thirds of these people are living in sub-Saharan Africa.” ( from an email of the Jesuit Institute perspectives on the Jesuit Pope – 28th March 2013 ).

Maybe it is time to forget the words progressive and conservative and all the intern church battles – and focus together, each of us in his or her own way of that what counts: to bring the unconditional love of God to every corner of this world – in our life and presence. Maybe it happened really a change of heart in all those now switching from a church which ruled to a church which serves the people. Maybe it is like in the times of the good Pope Johan XXIII: the windows of the church are suddenly open and the wind of the Holy Spirit can blow like the Southeastern in Cape Town everything away which had the danger to darken the face of the church for the last years. Whatever it may be: it is certainly a time to enjoy as a Catholic and to feel the energy when 1.2 billion sense and experience together a time of spiritual and factual renewal. And that this is all happening during lent, the Holy Week and Easter makes it even more powerful.


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  1. The same happens with everything the pope says. When Pope Benedict spoke about how condoms may be the first step to preventing HIV, everyone gathered around their computers to try to explain why he never really said that or meant it the way it was said, and that they all agreed with him etc etc. Anything the pope says, people will find a way to agree.

    Don’t forget Pope Francis’ words at his Chrism Mass – “From the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people” and the ointment in John 12:3 – it’s not a case of either / or – it’s both the divine beauty of Catholic worship AND looking after the poor, the starving, the HIV-infected.

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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