God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

24.01.2010 Life

Life is precious – and I just finished watching the movie “Death Man Walking” – highlighting again how important and valued life is. I always think that when Christianity and our faith has one important value, then it is the uphold of the sanctity of life.  And sanctity of life means a lot:
We should make sure that babies are indeed welcome, when perceived. The value of life rests in itself – not the work, not the deeds, not the strength nor anything else really can take away this value. And we are not allowed to take lives – be it by a person or by a state.
Giving life priority is the motor for all advocacy for life – also treatment for illness belongs under that category. Being healthy is important, but we Christians maintain that life is precious even if handicapped. Because everybody is a son or a daughter of God and so my brother or my sister, loved unconditionally.

But the importance of life does not only count for human being – the way we treat animals, pets, the nature is also part of cherishing life. For me, all and everything created on earth has a soul because it is part of God’s good creation. The whole creation is steeped with God’s good spirit. The way we use some of the things – that is the concerning part I guess.

Dignity of life means also respect – the way we deal with other people is for me also part of life advocacy. If one meets a person who cherishes life, one directly feels the respect he shows towards him- or herself, but also others around him. Advocacy for life and respect go hand in hand – therefore is my conclusion that people, who militant try to protect life as we see often in the right corner of churches and faith-based organisations, have a deficit in the appreciation of life in general. Far fetched? Well, that’s only my opinion.

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

22.09.2009 more fundamental questions…

In the last days I described my stance on mandatory testing and the pre-testing counseling. Having now more time to dedicate my energy towards the HIV/AIDS portfolio, there are more topics I feel are necessary to persue in the coming months and years. I have spoken already about the need to end the stigmatization within the health sector itself.  On the political front I can forsee to look more intensive into the question of travel freedom of people living with the virus. The ban to visit certain countries or the ban to get a work permit if you are HIV positive as you can find it in Australia, Singapore and many other countries is not only a sign of a lack of maturity of politicians in the respective countries but also a clear violation of human rights. I am aware that the UN, but also the German “AIDS Hilfe” is dealing with the issue, but we should all join hands and start to pressurize political systems allowing such violations of dignity and human rights.
In some of the blogs I mention the work with HIV positive priests and religious as well as seminarians. This is indeed a very tricky question and I hope that in October, when I am in Rom to meet together with Joachim Franz with the papal council for health care workers, to get this council on board to have a hard look how we deal with HIV and AIDS in our own ranks. Is the refusal to take a HIV positive person into e.g. monkhood or a seminary not a sign of fear and immaturity of the church? Are we as a church really allowed to deal with infected people in refusing them to follow their vocation? I am sure that God does not mind the status of a person. So we also shouldn’t mind the HIV status of a person. What kind of AIDS policies are regulating the life of the church and their institutions? Do we advocate the acceptation of people living with the virus only for the area outside the church? Tough questions, but we owe it the greater love of God to check our own balances on those questions and see whether they add up.

The ethical question of ceasing treatment if somebody does not adhere at all – also a tricky question. I mentioned the criminal law as a tool of prevention, which I find absolutely unreasonable in the way it is administered in most countries, specially also here in Africa.

Those are some of the questions in my mind, where I would like to contribute towards a solution which ends the madness of stigmatization and discrimination, which forces governments and churches to act reasonable and always upholding the dignity and human rights of every person.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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