God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Nepal and the gender debate

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Messe-83.JPG

Photo via WikiCommons/Sigismund von Dobschütz

While we in Europe and Africa the discussion on gender issues are heating up and churches and some other quarters of society clearly deny any suggestions that gender might be more diverse or partly also a product of society, some countries take realities and sciences into account. I was always thrilled to see that in my beloved Thailand the “katoi” was known as the third gender. And now the Himalayan country Nepal joins such support for transgender citizens.

Currently, Nepal is one of only eight countries that officially recognize third gender citizens, next to Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Thailand. However, despite first including third gender people on a census as far back as 2011, the Himalayan nation of 26.5 million recently marked an important milestone, issuing its first third gender passport.

According to “Human Rights Watch”, Monica Shahi made history when she received her passport with the designation O for “other,” rather than M (Male) or F (Female). Despite recognition of third gender persons, only a handful of the above listed countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, have issued corresponding passports.

It is indeed a step in the right direction – God’s creation is much more diverse as visible on first sight and I really believe that God has great humor and he enjoys to spice up creation and evolution with lots of colors, shapes and diverse beings. And whatever it is, sex, looks, handicaps – it all carries a divine message we are asked to receive, read and cherish one or the other way. God does not make mistakes – but humans are very much tempted to do so in prescribing God how to run his ongoing creation. Ecology and environment, nature and creation are top on the list since Pope Francis was elected to be the “St. Peter of our times”. In his encyclical “Laudato Si”  he combined bible and theology with scientific knowledge in a way no other writing of a pope has done before and it is only consequent to develop this combination of two ways of discovering God in all those other fields where we need answers to questions of today’s world and society. This also might mean and will mean robust debate, careful listening to each others positions, and surely being open to be surprised again and again how God works in mysterious ways. And one is for sure: faith and sciences as two ways of getting to know God and they can never really contradict each other – they always will support each other even if it takes time for us humans to understand and acknowledge it.

 

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

07.07.2009 Questions…

During the last 8 years working closely with people being infected and affected, one starts thinking what all this is fitting in in our faith system. Is HIV or AIDS only to be seen as a medical condition? Or as a social or moral failure to bring people towards a proper behaviour – what ever that might mean? In the beginning of the AIDS pandemic, I heard from some church leaders that HIV and AIDS are punishment for bad behaviour.. Or is the virus simple another sign of evolution – the daily struggle of nature to survive?

Are there indeed the “poor AIDS babies” and the adults “who are somehow bearing the stigma of misbehaving”?  Are there good or bad people living with the virus?

What does it mean to our theology of creation, our picture of God? What does it mean to the moral teaching of my Roman-Catholic church? Are we able to develop a theology of AIDS and turning the stigma into a charisma?

What does work in this field do with a priest, thorn apart between dogma, teaching and real life situations. The church is mater and magister, so told me a bishop last year in Rome. “Where I am working, we represent more the magisterium, where you working, you represent more the mother” Rightly said, but what does it mean in consequence?

I don’t have answers – but I am on a journey to find out..

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

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