God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

22.01.2010 Friday eve…

Discussion with a lecturer from Munich about a photo exhibition during the World Cup 2010 featuring the lives of people here in South Africa. We discuss the possibility to feature in this exhibition also a HOPE community health worker or the HOPE doctor. An interesting way of having a look on the life of a person from HOPE Cape Town: through a camera which keeps moments in a life’s time to show the reality of daily routine, hardship and joy. I think it is a good idea and for HOPE Cape Town also interesting to get a photographic feed back  on the work we are doing through our front people: the HOPE community health workers.

Luncheon with a friend – always good just to let go and talk and consider and plan for going together to Germany and Italy in May – unfortunately business related. But still: it is interesting to see after so many years, that friendship can create synergies assisting the work within the Archdiocese of Cape Town. A very good feeling about it – and an outstanding service at the so-called family restaurant.

Office work, phone calls, preparations – a decent dinner with nice people – this day brought a good mix of everything and looking back at the week, which started in Bangkok and will end in Newlands – a diversity of experience within a week which makes one grateful. I hope for more such good weeks to come in the next time…

Filed under: Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

29.08.2009 Religious Leaders Absent in the Anti-AIDS Fight & the POZ initiative

The following article I found today on the website “the body” – and caught my attention:
Religious Leaders Absent in the Anti-AIDS Fight  August 21, 2009
Though they exert great influence in the communities in which they serve, religious leaders are not doing enough to fight HIV/AIDS, said experts at the recent ninth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bali, Indonesia. “Many religious groups and leaders are unwilling to address HIV/AIDS and make it a priority. Their commitment level is quite low, particularly when compared to the size of their budget and the amount of work they do,” said Donald Messer of the US-based Center of Church and Global AIDS. “We’ve been talking about HIV/AIDS and the religious groups’ response for three decades now. We’re still talking too much even now,” said Fiji’s Dominica Abo. The “most powerful contribution” religious leaders can make is addressing stigma, discrimination, and biases that put groups like women at high risk for the disease. The epidemics impact on women and children needs to be addressed from a faith-based perspective, said the Rev. Youngsook Charlene Kang of the United Methodist Church in the United States, noting that women account for nearly half of all infections worldwide. “We need to call on religious leaders to educate and create new pathways within our churches for parishioners to learn the role that faith communities can play.” Messer noted that many conservative Muslim and Christian groups continue to preach against contraceptives, including condoms, believing they promote promiscuity. “[Yet] when used directly and consistently, condoms are humanity’s best protection and weapon against HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Some religious leaders are more eager to preserve the purity or correctness of theological perspectives than their task to save human lives.”
I guess, that the POZ initiative of HOPE Cape Town and the Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Cape Town will make a difference and highlight, that we take the fight against stigma, discrimination and bias serious. By working with and for priests, religious and seminarians, who are living with the virus, we address the double stigma of being infected and being infected as a “sacred” person, so to speak.  In this sense we can see a double discrimination – and of course also the bias, as many church leaders do not acknowledge that the pandemic also is amongst us, the clergy.
I am personally thrilled that we got the permission from the local Archbishop of Cape Town to work in this field – and when I will visit the papal council for health care workers end of the year, I will address it and hope that they join hands to work for a transformation from stigma to charisma.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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