God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

26.12.2009 Construction work and St. Stephens Day

Sometimes one feels that the tolerance of South Africans go into the wrong direction. I woke this morning up to the noise of heavy hammers – the neighbour, reconstructing his house since months (and years) now seems to have the urgent need to get ready – even working over “The Day of Goodwill”. That was too much for my goodwill – and after some noisy arguments they stopped working for the day. At least I want to have the two Christmas Days in peace and quietness. The guy who ordered the construction was not available – seemingly did not want to be disturbed during the Christmas period … Now there is peace also in our neighbourhood again.
What a start into St. Stephen’s Day – the day of the patron of my name. He was the first martyr – and sometimes it seems to me, that even within the church some people see it as a good tradition to throw stones at others. Specially those sitting themselves in a glass house. Well, humans remain humans, even if they are Christians. This is always good to remember.
For me the St. Stephen’s Day is a reminder that we have to stick to our principles, even if the world around us turns around and sees it differently. There are convictions which should never be overturned – they remain the pillar of one’s life construction – and they turn to be the cause of life destruction if one let them slip and go. The crib and the martyr – more clear nobody can show how close joy and tragedy are lying together in everybody’s life. And when we tomorrow celebrate the feast of the Holy Family – it is the same pattern – the joy of the birth of the baby boy and the tragedy of the mother standing under a cross – two extremes are meeting in one families life. A realistic view – as we all experience the same in our lives. God’s solidarity with human mankind is complete.

Filed under: General, Reflection, Uncategorized, , ,

06.10.2009 event note 2…

Sometimes one is looking forward to something and then suddenly all is different. I was looking forward to the event I posted yesterday, giving a talk and then a discussion about HIV and AIDS as signs of the time with representatives of some church entities dealing with development issues like misereor, misso etc…. But I just got the note, that all of them don’t want to participate. So it will only be me and the audience on that very day and even if I don’t know any official reason for the non participation, I was given a hint I am still not the guy one is sitting with at the same table.

It is amazing to discover again and again that even the simple rule of engagement = talking with each other, finding common ground, being engaged with each other seems to be so difficult in my church. I must say that I do my work with great enthusiasm and –  obviously being touched by the all the pain and suffering and reality –  I am searching for ways, even theological ways to work through my experience and to find a theological answer assisting the people infected. And the main word is “searching”. I don’t have the answers, but I know that we only can find them in brainstorming together, all involved in this field.

Maybe I ask too much, maybe it is not normal to talk even to somebody not sharing his or her own conviction – I always learn from talking to such people. But maybe I am an exception and the rule is different. I must admit that it sometimes frustrates me when there is no dialogue because it is refused one sided. It is a pity and chance has been not used to understand each other. Some years ago I would have been frustrated about such a behavior but that phase in my life is gone. I cannot change other people, I only can change myself. So whomever I will talk to in Aachen, it will be good and meaningful. Therefore:

I am still  looking forward to engage with the students in Aachen and hope that we can produces new thoughts, exciting visions for a topic so serious like HIV and AIDS.

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

03.08.2009 the churches approach…and my attitude towards the debate

A lot is written and said about the approach of the RC church regarding HIV and AIDS, lots of praise and lots of criticism, depending where one is standing and how one experience the own situation and convictions. I am aware of all those discussions and obviously take part in it, often not making friends with my fellow brothers in Christ. But I guess however we debate the stance of the RC church, we should all taken seriously that all working in our church mean to foster life, provide guidance for living a life to the fullest. What I mean in saying so is, that we have to have a deep respect for each other when debating the right way forward. Nobody of us is owning the truth and even if we completely disagree about the others argument and position, we always should give the person the benefit of the doubt that he or she means to support life and to help people living it in a satisfying and dignified way.
I have sometimes the impression, that within our church, we have to learn this kind of respect before each other.

Only if we have this respect we are able to listen to each other, to learn from each other and to be challenged by each other. And specially the latter we all need – to be challenged, because only then we are able to sharpen our arguments and to get a clearer picture about our conviction.

For me, the toughest and sometimes even unfair challenges, which put me in corners I never have been in reality and I never wanted to be; these challenges and accusations have been helpful to look again and again how I can clarify my point of view and to knock away the weakness of my argumentation. For that I am indeed grateful.

Whether it is this blog or my work or all my personal encounters with people during the days and weeks – I want to keep that kind of respect, I want to assume that the other person also wants the best for human mankind and the fellow brother and sister. I admit: at times, it is awfully difficult to keep that respect, but it is necessary for dialog and a common way forward. And that is what at the end counts, that people find common grounds and move forward, maybe slower than I would wish for, but we are moving…

Lets debate, find common grounds and move forward in a way benefiting those we care for, we love and cherish and for our own sake and God’s unconditional love to everybody…

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

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