God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

03.10.2010 Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon – and my last service as a supply priest for Belhar. I must admit that I have enjoyed going there the last Sundays and to experience one of the South African parishes – so different from the once in Germany. The question I have in mind is: how can the church remain relevant for the people in the next 20 years. Eying to Europe one can see how societies and with it churches develop and I am convinced that one can learn to prevent some of the “European developments’ for the local church.

Besides the church work, there will be also a decision on the future of the POZ initiative catering for priests and religious who are themselves HIV positive. After the Southern African Bishop’s Conference can in the moment not see any need to set up a special offer for those infected working in the church, there are consultations to see how one can overcome obstacles and offer a pastoral service, the members of the working group believe is necessary and essential. Turning stigma into a blessing is important and combined with a process of healing and self acceptance it would be an important service the church could offer their own employees. But of course it is a sensitive field and I feel that we have to do more convincing to get those responsible in the church hierarchy on board.

The coming week will see not only trips to Durban and Johannesburg, but also visitors connected to the Romantic Hotel Group in Europe, the farewell for Rainer, who will find his final resting place here in Cape Town, meetings for the HOPE Cape Town Trust and HOPE Cape Town Association and as usual lots for preparation work for all things lying ahead.

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , ,

15.09.2010 Talking about time

Talking about time as I did in the last blog – once again time is faster flying than I can keep up with it.
The weekend saw me serving the Catholic Community in Belhar with a very interesting family mass on the Sunday morning. Preparation for the HOPE Cape Town management meeting and a talk, given to readers of “Die Zeit” , a German weekly newspaper, who were on a trip through South Africa. It is always interesting for me to hear opinions and different perspectives to our situation here in South Africa and to learn a lot about how our country is perceived in the first world.
HOPE Cape Town Management meeting yesterday with lots to discuss at senior level. Such a project is developing also in a rapid way and we have to be creative to keep on going in a way serving the communities. From an afternoon with management then directly to Brooklyn Holy Cross Primary School where we celebrated the Feast of the Cross with the school community.
This morning POZ meeting: the working group trying to put up a pastoral care structure for HIV positive priests and religious is battling a bit with the concepts some people of the church hierarchy have. It is not easy to find a way to serve those infected and affected in a sensitive and meaningful way if there is so much fear and phobia within the church tackling the pandemic within our own ranks. Fr Wim and myself had meetings in Rome about the subject in May this year and we intended to be back with first positive steps in November this year, but unfortunately it will take more time. So I canceled yesterday the Rome leg of the trip end of next month in the hope, that next year sees more results.

Making progress in sensitive matters within our church can be quite an issue; and it is not that people would not see the urgency of matters, but the apprehensibility in some quarters of our church makes it at times very difficult. On the other hand: we know that we are as the church moving: slavery, human rights, democracy – the latter have been directly from hell some time ago but today we are the champions when it comes to advocate them for others.
I ask myself whether we are so much different from other organizations – and I guess: no.

Well: Never give up was one of the favorite songs of our first HOPE Community Health Workers and I think, that is a good motto for the days and weeks to come.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , ,

10.07.2010 Belhar….

Supplying mass in Belhar – a new community and as always interested to learn about the living situation in the suburbs or Cape Town.  Otherwise some preparation work for next week as my next trip looms to attend the World AIDS Conference in Vienna, followed by a brief stay in Germany.  Otherwise a very rainy day and of course – the second last day of the Soccer World Cup with Germany coming 3rd place. Well deserved.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, , , ,

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