God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

The knives are out at home…

It seems the knives are out in the Catholic church especially of my country of birth and in Europe – everybody wants dialogue but it seems that every fraction is fighting seemingly assuming that their position is the right way into a bright future of the RC church. The permission of the “old tridentine mass” as the extraordinary mass and the remarks of the pope regarding the condom use in the book of Mr Seewald – mixed with the abuse cases, the attempt to change the text of the mass to make it more “latin like” – from outside it looks frightening – fulled by irresponsible essays and news of so-called “catholic” websites in German language lacking every inch of the ethos of Catholicism and using a language rather be found in the times of the thirties of the last century in Germany. The just published declaration of theologian in Germany calling for a review of celibacy, women ordination and viri probati shows that since the II Vatican Council, nothing really has moved in these fields – binding our energy for matters which should have been resolved a long time ago.

If we really want to tackle the issues of the people and the faithful of our times, we have to stop fighting but first of all listening to each other. What energy is burned to hold up a certain ideology in our church or a so-called “tradition” – anxiety instead of freedom, attack and defence instead of listening to God’s good spirit.
And obviously this has also consequences for the topic, this blog is reflecting about. How much energy some put in to defend “Humanae Vitae” in a way which simply made it impossible within the church to develop an answer to the question: protection of life. And as Benedict XVI dared to speak his theological mind not saying anything new – for days the newspaper were full of comments and the Vatican had to issue three statements to interpret the interview of the pope in the right light. And now Vatican sources tell us that there is a new word on HIV/AIDS to expect, looking at it from a Christian perspective.  I hover between hope and despair waiting for this new paper.

I really would like to see a stop on all this navel gazing – how we can serve the people and make their life meaningful, that is the only question we should ask ourselves as members of or church, how we can open ourselves up to God’s spirit without always killing the breeze out of anxiety, stubbornness and a picture of God, which in reality is already outdated when we put it together. Then whoever and where ever God is, I believe that he/she is much more than we ever can think of. And for that, I am indeed grateful.

Serving in the field of HIV/AIDS would mean then to look anew at what sexuality constitutes, what sciences are telling us, how we have developed in the last 100 years. And from there to see how we can create a meaningful and responsible context for sexual activities which also matches the realities of us humans. Seeing how many young people world-wide are still dying we also have to reflect more on what life and death means and how we can learn to speak of a meaningful life, even if it is short. We have to put our view of a “successful” life on the test bench. HIV and AIDS has also to do with evolution, with a virus meeting a new host and being not able to co-exist in a way, other bacteria are living with us since ages.  The questions of justice and peace are also still not solved and I am sure the topic HIV and AIDS with all consequences could contribute immensely towards those questions.

So much to do… to reflect … to get down to business …

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

POZ magazine: Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga: Celibacy Is OK, Free Condoms at Concerts

While in the United Kingdom to promote M·A·C Cosmetics’ latest Viva Glam campaign, which funds HIV/AIDS prevention and support programs for women and girls, pop superstar Lady Gaga said she is practicing celibacy at the moment, and she encouraged anyone not ready for sex to do the same, MTV News reports.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this—don’t have sex,” said Gaga, 24. “I’m single right now, and I’ve chosen to be single because I don’t have the time to get to know anybody. So it’s OK not to have sex, it’s OK to get to know people. I’m celibate, celibacy’s fine.”

The “Telephone” singer added, “You don’t have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you’re not ready, don’t do it. And if you are ready, there are free condoms given away at my concerts when you’re leaving!”

According to the article, Gaga was inspired to take this stance on celibacy in response to the rise in HIV infections among women worldwide. The World Health Organization reported last year that HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women ages 15 to 44.

“This is a disease that affects everyone, not just the gay community,” said Gaga, who stressed that it’s a growing concern among women.

Original Post: http://www.poz.com/rssredir/articles/LadyGaga_celibacy_condoms_1_18277.shtml

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Society and living environment, , , ,

17.03.2010 Abuse and no end..

Meanwhile one has to get used as a Catholic priest to justify the pure being in such a profession – where ever I go, the questions of abuse and many more are mounting. And surfing the news on the net – one never can escape a new story. I almost feel that we are living in a time of hysteria. Yes, there have been abuse cases in the past – and yes, there have been many stories of covering up and ignoring the facts and leaving victims in the dark.

But does that really mean that all priests are preying on kids? Or does it mean, as the right wingers in our church claim, that only homosexual priests did do these kind of things? Does it really mean that everybody within the church has now to repeat again and again how awful it was and how wrong? Does it really mean that our pastoral work with kids are at a dead-end because there is a pretty good chance that somebody will read something fundamentally wrong into our doing? Does celibacy really foster the appetite for sex with children?

As much as I feel sorry for the past, I can’t see that this kind of hysteria we are facing in the moment can solve any problem. Emotions are important to let out, but to change a situation we have to reflect in a complete different way.

To do this, our church can assist in doing the following: Don’t cover up any more and learn to deal honest with abuse. As more than 95% of abuse is done within families and the circle of friends, we don’t have to hide with our small numbers – we have to face every single case in a serious way.

Another aspect: We as a church have to stop drawing a connection between homosexuality and the abuse of children – there is no connection and I am aware it is nice to use even this situation to justify certain moral theological aspects of the teaching, but it is wrong. Sciences and research show otherwise, so please no more theological politics with this grave situation. This applies specially for those in the utmost right corner of the church, people, who seems to have no sense of shame to abuse an abuse situation to save their church ideology.

We as a church have to think constructive: How can we restore a trust which enables us to work with children and youth without general suspicion. I guess it will be a long way until this is achieved.

But for all including bishops and clergy applies: no hysteria. I am quite impressed with the approach of Bishop Stephan Ackermann, who seems to understand, that only serious reflection can bring us forward in a positive and beneficial way. And I agree with him, that the discussion of celibacy is not directly connected with the abuse cases. Of course this does not mean that we have within the church also to have a debate about this requirement for priesthood in our days – but for that there is another place and time in the moment.

Filed under: Reflection, , , , ,

01.08.2009 Can a priest or religious be hiv positiv?

Dealing with HIV and AIDS on an ongoing base, it is interesting to note, that in our church we are always doing something for others, for those who are belonging to the flock, so to speak. But what is with those of us, the priests, the religious, the seminarians, those, preparing themselves for ordination – how do they cope with their infection? Isn’t it like having a double stigma – for seemingly having done something not allowed and this in the field of sexuality – forbidden for those who live celibacy.

Have you ever thought about those of the clergy being not able to disclose because the parishioners, or the bishop, or the fellow clergymen would reject and discriminate against such a person? Having a whole generation of youngsters born HIV positive – how if they receive a calling? Some seminaries or bishops require a medical certificate – being HIV positive excludes them for being trained to be a priest. How many orders don’t take brothers when they are infected? Does God not call people with the virus?

HOPE Cape Town and the Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Cape Town want to tackle these questions and to reach out to those who are infected and working in the fields of the Catholic Church. We are in the beginning to set up a network of pastoral care, of networking which should reach far beyond South Africa.

So if you know about somebody, make him or her aware of this offer. I will continue to report on the progress of this initiative – confidentiality is guaranteed and on the website there are the emails of different persons to contact.

Let’s brake the silence about HIV and priests and religious in our own church and let this stigma be turned into a charisma for the person concerned and for the community, he or she is working in. And let us convene the unconditional love of God to all of those, who are serving in the Catholic Church with the virus and all, what comes with it.

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

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