God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Observations on the racism question

Much is spoken and written about racism in South Africa and I don’t want to repeat all the wise or not so wise words put into the public domain. So just some observations and questions from my side concerning South Africa:

I notice that the racist card is used politically to destroy and harm the political competitor and to badmouth people. I also notice that the pure motion #ZumaMustFall is suddenly a question of race even if this is clearly a sole question of political leadership. Zuma can be white, black, pink or green – a perceived corrupt and incompetent politician remains the same independent of skin color.  The notion of the ANCYL to put even the #FeesMustFall on a racist note shows even more the absurdity of using the racist card as most students protesting are indeed black students. On a positive note it shows clearly the emptiness in this case of political motivated talk.
Without a proper definition of “racism” and a proper use of the word this debate is only emotional but not substantial. In the light of a disaster scenario in the education sector of South Africa one can obviously not expect this real debate to happen.

I have asked myself what it means for a country when the tweet of an unknown and not socially relevant person like Sparrow can bring up the worst emotions in a whole nation. Does it not indicate the brokenness of a wounded society yearning for healing. And does such a society not need healing instead of stirring the pot, does it not need wise leadership instead of corruption as a principle of government?

I also have questions about BEE – does it really serve the majority of previous disadvantaged in the country? Seeing the education system almost in shatters – is it not that only proper education brings equality and not putting people in places where they either can enrich themselves or they are simply not competent enough to fulfill a job? BEE can turn easily into discrimination, into feelings of entitlement and the loss of needed capacity and skills. It sounds nice to preach about revolution – but the kids of the revolution are always future victims, look into history.

Our president plays the race card as well, stating that he is attacked because he is black and uneducated – and let’s be honest: it needs skills to guide a nation of wounded ones, it needs special skills to know about the economics and to be a politician of statue in our world so globally interlinked. But this is not at all a question of skin color.
I also note with concern that the opposition party of the DA is now starting to run with the racist card, announcing to look for more black skin color to fill the upper ranks.  Not to forget the EFF claiming the whites stole the land without recognizing that history is much more complicated and that before the white and black man there where the Koi and San people living here. Life and history is always grey – and the debate about racism, about history, about who we are, where we are at in this moment in time and where we want to be demands honesty from all sides.

Maybe it is wishful thinking but I hope and pray that South Africa finds its way back to a sort of rainbow nation as dreamed by Nelson Mandela, because seeing the state of affair in the moment, his scenario is by far the better one than what we have in the moment. But to achieve this we need honest, non-corrupt, dedicated, service orientated leaders and the skin color should not matter at all. And we need the majority of the society educated and willing to grasp anew the dream of a new South Africa.

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

Going to hell…

We at HOPE Cape Town have people of all faith working for us and it has been for me not a problem at all as I believe doing good deeds bring people together. I am actually always interested in questions of Interfaith and this week, two events were taking place regarding this topic. The AGM of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative was held at St. Marks in Cape Town and it was wonderful to see how the representatives of different religions were eager to work together. I am thrilled to continue working on the board of this fine organization contributing towards peace and understanding in the mother city.
The other event took place at Herzlia Secondary School in Cape Town where I was invited to be part of a panel, discussing with students from different schools about the importance of religion for young people in the 21st century. Quite a strong debate and I learned amongst others that I – unfortunately – will go to hell. How comes?
In one of the group discussions there was the question of friendship between a Muslim and a Christian and after lot of debate, I was told by one of the students that indeed friendship can be developed between a Christian and a Muslim, but that the friendship between two Muslims are always have a more intense meaning. The word “brotherhood” was used to describe this more intimate friendship. I also learned from my young discussion partner that a Muslim has the duty to bring the Christian onto the right path – meaning: the right religion and that he should never give up till the end. Which triggered my question: And what happens if I die without converting? He was very sorry – and one could see it in his facial expression, but he told me, that unfortunately I have to go to hell then.
I found that discussion amazing, because normally at such occasions we try to be nice to each other and avoid touchy subjects like “going to hell”. The honesty of this student made me think how much is still to learn from each other and to accept where there remain differences. But I am lucky, I don’t have to be sorry for my Muslim friends, because in my Christian heaven there is space for everyone – even those who call God “Allah”. And for the rest, I strongly believe that the mercy of God will do the rest. So no worries, but the acknowledgement, that the work of an Interfaith Council is very important. Then there are more questions than just the future of unrepentant Christians – another discussion group got on me about my interpretation of “Adam and Eve” …. but that we leave for another blog. 🙂

But I am grateful for such evenings of discussions with young people and I appreciate their frankness and honesty. We need such robust exchanges to know, who we are and what we stand for in our faith.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

05.11.2009 Theological conflicts are possible

Theological conflicts are possible, so Pope Benedict XVI in his sermon yesterday and he acknowledged, while theology wants to spark love towards God, there can be a different approach which can lead to conflict and dispute.

I am happy to hear such sentences, as I always have the feeling that the culture of debate is very underdeveloped in our church. Anxiety is a permanent threat accompanying hierarchical systems because everybody is anxious not to draw negative attention of superiors and even destroy the changes to climb up the career ladder.

The pope took the example of Bernhard de Clairvaux and Pierre Abelard who argued heavily in the 12th century about the secret of the revelation. He emphasised that the common grounds of both have been their intention to keep up the love, truth and faith which should be a basic rule to assume when two theologian argue with each other.

Lets hope that this all applies also for the topic of HIV and AIDS within the church.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, 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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