God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

20.10.2009 vatican meeting

A real experience. Joachim and myself arrived in time at the papal council’s seat close to St. Pieter’s. Last Friday we were told by email that Bishop Jose will be out for another meeting and that Monsignor Jean Marie, undersecretary will be available to discuss the matters with us. After 1 hour of waiting I enquire and find out, that the undersecretary has not arrived yet. When he arrived we quickly discover that we need somebody to translate from English into Italian as he is francophone. To organise that it takes another hour – at 11 we finally are sitting together to discuss matters, not a very good start into good business.

The first point is quickly resolved. The press text to be published in the council’s magazine about the cape2cape is in some points not completely adherent with the teaching of the magisterium, so we are told and I take the text to have a second look and promise to re-submit. I will spend one of the next evenings to do so…
Then we discuss a planed project where we wish the involvement of the Holy Sea, the council and the pope. We agree to submit a written proposal and meet again in May next year.

The last point is the question of HIV positive priests, religious, clergy and I explain our project, our pastoral aims. This is met with a serious discussion and the recognition that there is surely a tricky but important task ahead, which has not been started in the church yet. We discuss possible steps forward, which I will take to our project group and I promise to send a report back to Bishop Jose and again: May would be a good time to discuss this further, maybe even with other departments of the Vatican.

The two hours waiting was a difficult time, specially for Joachim, who is simply not used to be treated like this. In all fairness I must say that both representatives of the council apologised profoundly at the end for letting us wait so long. I attributed the wait rather in a not very good preparation and hand over for the meeting – and I make it very clear at the end of the meeting that my way from Cape Town to Rome is not just for fun but that I mean serious business and we are really interested in engaging in meaningful discussions and solutions which will be beneficial for all concerned.

I had the impression that at the end we might have a good starting point for a further engagement and possible cooperation in one matter and starting a process of serious consideration for the matter regarding HIV positive clergy. I don’t want to go into detail about the way forward regarding the POZ initiative as I think it should first concern the project group in Cape Town and I will report back to them. But I can tell without telling too much that our planed strategy seems to fit in very nicely to bring the process forward.

Back to Wolfsburg were I will stay the next two days discussing cooperation with Joachim Franz and his team – and after an almost sleepless night in Rome I will now sleep this evening very tight. The flights with Swiss Air have been rather nightmares than pleasures – but flying hasn’t been a pleasure for a long time…

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