God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Sick and tired of violence

Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Ukraine, Yemen, Palestine and Israel – the news of violence, war and terror is a permanent feature on all news channels and I realize fatigue is setting in watching and zipping to all those channels with news seemingly to be for years the same.
Paris, Bamako – lock down in Brussels – and waiting for the next hit – around the world travel warning from the US and the discussions about sacrificing our freedoms fought for over long periods seems to head into a new direction of Orwell’s 1984 and even moreSouth Africa – #feesmustfall of the students means meanwhile arson, violence, destruction – almost hundred attempted murders per day in South Africa, from which are half successful. The taxi mafia continues to rule the streets and create havoc – service delivery protests can’t be without violence and damage anymore and whoever wants to take a drive on the national road N2 between Cape Town and Somerset West must be on the watch out – even police officers are not exempt falling victim of violence.
Coming back to the big world again – happy bombing from France – revenge for Paris, together with Russia and David Cameron can’t wait to extend his military reach in the Middle East – together with the continues and relentless extra-legal killings via drones – another permanent of this year’s news – especially when collateral damage means that unfortunately innocent people are killed too.
And as this would not be enough blood shed the state sponsored killings in the USA and Saudi-Arabia, but also not to forget in Indonesia and in other places seems to pick up again – another example that the capacity of governments and people to exercise respect for the sanctity of life degrades in the moment.

I must admit that I am in the moment sick and tired of all the violence on so many levels. Trying to get into the spirit of Advent as a Christian even worsens the situation as it becomes painfully clear how much we are away from the hope of Advent as the preparation of welcoming somebody in the world we see as the Prince of Peace and the messenger of unconditional love to all creation.
It seems that the new lonely caller in the wilderness we hear from in the bible changed his name from John the Baptist to Pope Francis amongst some other religious leaders . His travel this week to the war-thorn region of the Central African Republic with all the unknown and the danger would be a sign, that there might be other ways to answer violence and brutality than with weapons and violence.

But would that also be possible with ISIS or Daesh? Is there another way than throwing bombs?

I am convinced that bombings are not the answer, but that there are other strategies more promising to end this evil:
For example to acknowledge that there is a steady stream of unhappy Europeans following the call of ISIS and if we really want to root out such extremism we have to start in the suburbs of Paris, of Brussels, of Hamburg, of all the major cities in the USA. We have indeed to battle for the minds and the hearts of those feeling that they are not part of our society. Secondly let’s stop fulling the war in this region with selling weapons to “rebels” and other those, in the moment seemingly on the right side of history – in Afghanistan and Iraq history has thought us that the right side of history can quickly turn into the wrong one – ask the CIA which actually made Bin-Laden the person he became later on. Or Saddam Hussein, who was bolstered first to fight the revolution in Iran before falling out with the USA. Do we never learn out of mistakes?
Bombing, killing, extra-juridical killing by drones – it all creates an environment where people from ISIS will indeed flock together and new terrorists and suicide bombers are created on a daily base. The sad story of Israel and Palestine shows how the devils circle of violence never stops until somebody breaks it. And I am convinced to stop ISIS to gain more territory and cutting them off from the oil trade or trade of antiques will dry them out – cut them of the honor to connect them with  religion or Islam by getting the Umma to simply distance themselves – I am quite sure it will help to make this self-proclaimed caliphate a footnote of history in short time.

And let’s recognize and acknowledge that the wealth of Europe has its base in the exploitation of the African continent and the European colonies worldwide – and that they owe the people in Africa, in South America and where ever all the empires stretched for longer or shorter periods of time. Lots of country borders have been drawn on paper and without looking at situation. Lots of governments and dictators came into power because – at that time –   they either belonged to the anti-communist quarters or the other way around. We still haven’t worked it through – and we still are tempted to continue to make the same mistakes again and again. European governments judge not fairly but whatever suits best the Western World – they don’t have the focus on uplifting the people worldwide but what gives them more profit and fosters the lifestyle, Europe and North America wants to keep as long as possible. Let’s be honest: the conviction that we have to develop a new world order, a new way of dealing with each other is still in the infancy of the conscience of human civilization. We have conquered the technology but the rest lacks behind.

Advent – new beginning – may the feeling of being sick and tired of violence turn into a new approach of making the world a more peaceful place on all levels of life – a life to be called to live to the fullest.

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Another mission…

European Union Headquarters - Brussels, Belgium

European Union Headquarters – Brussels, Belgium (Photo credit: Sailing “Footprints: Real to Reel” (Ronn ashore))

After one week in Cape Town sitting in a plane again, this time to Brussels in Belgium. I was offered the opportunity to meet those relevant people in the EU (European Union) dealing with African and South African affairs. It will be a big challenge for me to understand and digest in a couple of days the mechanism of EU-African relationship. But as HOPE Cape Town is a joint venture between European and African people, I strongly believe to see the bigger picture is an important step to understand the synergies behind single projects. And the question of funding is for me in the moment only second best – it is really first to make my homework and understand the principles of political and economic ties and so have a background image for further investigation into EU funding for Africa. I feel like a student again 🙂 and I am very grateful for the organizers to give me this opportunity.

Generally I believe in networking and sharing to reach the goal of ongoing support for those in need – in the case of HOPE Cape Town the need to deal with HIV and AIDS in their mainly anyhow devastated lives of poverty, unemployment, little education and almost no light at the end of the tunnel. South Africa is going through a challenging time with Madiba, the moral conscience of South Africa in his last chapter of life and politicians in place who seem to have subscribed to corruption and attending to everything gaining them wealth but ignoring mostly the plight of the people. That might be a harsh judgement but I strongly believe that South Africa deserves better. Maybe the looming farewell from Nelson Mandela will serve as a reminder about the dreams and hopes after 1994 and ignite the longing and yearning to reach this dream of a real rainbow nation where poverty, corruption, crime, unemployment is seriously tackled by people in power who care deeply about the future of all South Africans.

HOPE Cape Town is working only in one little sector of health within all the areas of human life. But as it needs all mosaic pieces to create the final picture, the organization is willing to contribute whatever is necessary to make the vision of a prosper and thriving South Africa possible. One drop in the big ocean – right so – but let’s join all drops to accumulate into a stream taking us forward.

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

Sic tacuisses: AIDS = Justice – Belgian Catholic Archbishop of Brussels claims

The Catholic Church in Belgium has been battered by scandals and missteps over the past year, and now its new leader, the conservative Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Brussels, has sparked a fresh controversy with comments declaring that people afflicted with AIDS are receiving “a sort of immanent justice” for their sexual practices.
Léonard, who Pope Benedict XVI appointed this year to replace a much-loved liberal, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, compared the suffering of AIDS victims to human-caused degradation of the environment, for which people themselves then pay the price.
“Maybe human love also responds when she is treated badly, without the need of a transcendent source,” Léonard said in a just-published book of interviews he gave to two Belgian journalists over the past few years. “Badly handling physical nature causes it to treat us badly in turn, and badly dealing with the deeper nature of human love will ultimately always lead to catastrophes on all levels.”

The reaction against Léonard’s comments has been swift and sharp.

Belgian parliamentarians have called the archbishop’s statements “disgusting” and “stupid,” and some are calling for the government to re-examine the favorable tax status of the Catholic Church, which receives hefty government subsidies.
Even conservative Christian Democratic party leaders expressed outrage. Léonard’s words “strike me speechless. For Jesus there were no justified illnesses,” said parliamentarian Mia De Schamphelaere, according to a National Catholic Reporter story.
Such official condemnation comes at a difficult time for the Belgian church, which is engaged in a tug-of-war with government investigators who have seized documents in a probe of clergy abuse of children going back decades.
Léonard’s comments are also not winning him or the institutional church many points with Catholics themselves, who are increasingly indifferent to their religion, as is the case in many European countries.
The clergy scandals have shocked Belgians, with revelations of at least 475 victims over the decades, 13 of whom committed suicide. The reports brought down the country’s longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, and even tarnished the legacy of Cardinal Danneels, whose negotiations with an abuse victim were surreptitiously recorded and released, portraying him in a harsh light.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, , , , , , , ,

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
9 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2019

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 18th, 2019
90 days to go.

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