God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Challenging times

Times are moving fast and arriving in Dresden attending the 11th HOPE Gala it is time to reflect on all what is happening in the world around us.
In South Africa, times are getting more and more tough – students are trying to force the state into submission of free education with turmoil, violence and militant language – not seeing that their initially good cause is meanwhile compromised for many reasons. President Zuma survived another non-confidence vote as the ANC is still not ready to acknowledge the magnitude of corruption and damage done to the country.
In the USA a womanizer and liar with a very limited world view is elected president via a system which assembles only a shadow of democracy. In Germany right-wing thoughts are popular again and the populist AfD seems to win the hearts and minds of more and more people.
Black and white, simple solutions, believing in simple answers, following a gut feeling of fear and anxiety seems to govern most people in this global village. And the systems holding societies together are fading away in the challenges of today; the vast amount of information available at any given time seems to be so indigestible to most global village inhabitants so that they seek refuge in those mentioned simple answers.
Churches seemed to be too much self-absorbed to have the time to really take note and actively work against this trend of time – when you look to the USA, most Catholic Bishops were so occupied with certain topics that the social Catholic teaching faded away in the judgements given before the elections.

Well, life turns in circles and therefore there is always hope that the wheels are turning again and reason will prevail. There is no need to get lost in desperation, but this is a time to watchfully and carefully observe the situation and to actively try to correct the turns of society and their leadership into a direction towards humanity, charity, tolerance and compassion at heart.

The HOPE Gala in Dresden shows me that people still care, that people still go the extra mile to assist and help and reach out to people far away; those living on the margins of the wealthy  spots in our global village. There is hope as events like this are happening not only in Dresden but also for many good causes around the globe. As long as there are some lights in the darkness of todays social and political developments, as long as there are people not giving up on trying to better all lives instead only their own ones – as long as there is resistance to let go those unfortunate living in the wrong places or born at the wrong times there is a reason to fight for a global village which is compassionate about everybody equally.

I guess we also have to learn to strive a balance between information flows possible and the ability of people to digest those info. Again we have to learn that human minds and brains and hearts have a limited capacity of in-take. And that fear and anxiety are bad advisers when it comes to develop our future as a human family.

As always life goes on and there is light at the end of the tunnel – faith, love and hope remain as the bible tells us rightly.

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

Who am I to judge – a developing story

“The history of homosexuals in our society is a very bad history because we have done a lot to marginalize them. It is not so long ago and so as church and as society we have to say sorry,”, so the German Cardinal Marx somehow in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting and it seems the walls of the fortress Catholic church seems to coming down. Even worse Pope Francis re-affirms his “Marxist Cardinal”, as he jokey called him and the tremors can be felt on twitter and in statements all over the Catholic world. Cardinal Napier fears for the worst according to his twitter account and even revokes God’s help on this subject. Also in the USA bishops feel either called to testify to the effect that Catholic wording has contributed to the hate and discrimination of LGBTI people while others see no harm in calling their brothers and sisters “intrinsic evil”. It seems Orlando has taken off the gloves in the Catholic church when it comes to the question of same-sex love and its consequences in life.
This is in principle good so because it opens up a debate and reflection on a seemingly hot potato clerics were not even allowed to whisper loud in the times of Pope Benedict XVI without risking to be reprimanded heavily.  The rifts, the different opinions, the soul-searching can now start in earnest – and as with most things in our days society has been in the lead while the church tries to catch up with matters important for those not falling in the “hetero” category.
I guess if we agree that we all are on our way to understand God’s good creation, if we agree that listening to each others stories without judgement or prejudice would be the order of today then Orlando might become a turning point in the relationship between the biggest faith communities and the LGBTI community in this world. A tragedy turned into a blessing for those at the margins of our church longing to be fully accepted in their God-given way of love and commitment. The teaching of the church always has developed – from how we saw slavery till the judgement on democracy, freedom of religion and so many more – because our knowledge and insight developed. Even in the bible we see this development from a God of war and killing fields slowly being recognized as a God of peace and love and understanding. We as church are always on the way, we always have to listen, to discern – and maybe the biggest sin of a faith community can be to be so anxious of new insights or more closeness to God and his children that there is simply a refusal to walk forward.

Moses, Abraham and all the prophets called the chosen people again and again out of all safety zones to conquer the promised land. All those stories also tell us of failure, of turning back to the seemingly “good old days” , telling us of penance, of God’s willingness to forgive and to continue the alliance between God and mankind.

Let’s remember that the concept of homosexuality is a very modern and new one. No Jew of the Old Testament nor Jesus did know about it. So let’s start to discern, lets start to look anew at what is God telling us – let’s listen to voices like Pope Francis and Cardinal Marx and dare to dream of the people of God including all in his love without labeling some as “intrinsic evil”.

Working in the fields of the HIV pandemic which indeed has hit the LGBTI community the hardest the influence of faith of the lives of people is clearly to be seen. The religious views of Ronald Reagan contributed heavily to the ignorance government showed in the USA when HIV emerged because it was just killing gays. With proper unbiased action 32 million people would not have to suffer today and millions would still be alive. Faith can change the world for better or for worse.

Filed under: Catholic Church, HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gratefulness and compassion

Sometimes it is time to sit down and simply reflect on the work one is doing day by day – holding in, letting the world stand still for a moment. For me such a moment was after hearing about the Erawan Shrine bombing in Bangkok, one of my favorite places in Bangkok to go and sit for hours and just doing it: sitting there, observing, praying, just “being” in the presence. In our world it seems that even such places are not protected anymore from the madness of sick human minds, and adding the cruelty and abuse of Islam by ISIS, the streams of refugees running away from civil war and dictatorship and corruption, exploitation and diminished chances of living their human rights in Africa it seems that the world is upside down in the moment. And we easily forget that there is also a counter stream, a stream of goodness, a stream of unsung heroes of humanity, decency and compassion.
And we only have to look into our own lives to acknowledge this goodness. Where would we be without the kindness of others, of parents, family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers, yes, when I look at my work with HOPE Cape Town –  sometimes completely strangers who just support what one is doing, a touch of humanity flowing from one to another without having the chance to meet the person in person.
Dresden in Germany is in the moment often in the news for all the wrong reasons – protests showing little signs of humanity but rather ignorance and hostility against refugees. But for me it is countered by all those actions making those running for their lives made feel welcome and of course not to forget the HOPE Gala in Dresden. For 10 years there are people caring for those less fortune in South Africa with incredible efforts, tons of love and compassion. For 10 years people from all over Germany flock to Dresden to enjoy an evening of entertainment and joy and doing good at the same time. It is up to me to choose what I want to see, what stream I want to follow, what I want to support, to cherish, to be grateful for… And I am sure if more and more I see the good in people, more and more I appreciate the bond of goodness and compassion, and more and more I can develop my own compassion and in return strengthen those strengthening me. Does it make sense? Yeap, for me it does and it is the only way to change the world for the better- against all odds.

Filed under: Reflection, , , , , , , , ,

13.02.2010 Haiti…

4 weeks are gone in Haiti – and seeing some video clips and photos I am not sure we really understand what is going on there and how desperate people must feel having lost everything. All modern technology could not help to prevent this disaster and the first attempts of help, coordinated by the US has been – I almost would have said naturally – with lots of enthusiasm but also the typical sense of “we know it all”.  Haiti was a broken state and nature has proven to be able to add to the misery. I am not sure how so-called industrialised countries can coop with such a natural force, but hurricane “Katharina” has shown that they do not better, even worse as the expectations of the people are much higher.

Sometimes I ask myself how much compassion a person can show in our times or when the constant flood of misery through TV news, online news etc simply provokes a stop of such feelings because people are exhausted or getting used to it. I guess the same is to ask when one lives in a developing country and sees poverty and tragedy every day. It is in a certain sense true that one gets used to a situation – and when I go with visitors into a township, then I see rather the improvements since my last visit (if there are any) than the poverty. And it needs the art of a sort of balance of different feelings, being touched, but also accepting certain conditions for the time being as not changeable by oneself.

After almost 13 years South Africa, I am still sitting in the evenings after a day “out there” and reflect how I would feel living in a shack or without work or without mony depending on other people’s handout. I tell myself that this thoughts are useless because obviously alone the way I think is surely different as I would have thought if I would have been in that situation since birth. Sounds philosophically? Yes, I believe so, but in simple words: My realties would be a totally different ones grown up under different circumstances.

Nevertheless, alone that I am reflecting shows me, that I have not lost the sense of compassion and a sense that there is in front of my doorstep lots of injustice. I know that having founded HOPE Cape Town together with others helps people, but often I wish I could do so much more in less time. And then creeps in the feeling of being powerless.  Well, then there is only one thing to do: to believe my own sermons telling that nobody is powerless and that we are all called to change and better the world.  🙂

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

16.01.2010 Ode an … BKK :-)

My holidays are coming to an end – and once again I feel sad to leave Thailand – and sometimes I ask myself why I am so fond of this country and especially of Bangkok, the capital.

Maybe because Bangkok is in so many ways a symbol for me: an unbelievable moloch which can swallow you without warning. Bangkok is crazy, mad, silent, noisy, dirty, clean – there is surely no characteristic not found in this city.
Thai smiles – I love them and have learned in many years, that one smile can have so many meanings – what seems to be the same is in reality so divers, so full of different reasons behind one expression. A welcome smile, a loving smile, a killer smile, a sorry smile – it is not easy at first to read it correctly.
Bangkok is for me a city which is always different as it seems, one can never believe, what one sees, because there is always a surprise behind the corner. My Thai friends are incredible loving, chaotic, charming, unorganised, full of surprises as well.
Nothing seems to be impossible in this city – it is the master city of deception, of illusion, of anything you can think about.
It is a marriage between blank modernism and the believes of the ancestors. Worshipping the old deities and the modern times – making the best out of a day, sanook, filing the disaster for tomorrow to enjoy today.

Bangkok is a city to learn about life, about love, about fantasy, about death, about karma, about compassion – you name it – and you will find it.

Is Bangkok perfect? Nope, not at all – and in this perfect imperfection lies the miracle and the fasination of the city of the angel. Maybe that is the real reason for feeling home: city of the angel – I never though about it… :-)))))))

Filed under: General, Reflection, Uncategorized, , , , , ,

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
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Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
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