God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

04.04.2010 Desmond Tutu: In Africa a step back on Human Rights

Source:  http://www.thebody.com/content/art56014.html?ic=700100

Hate has no place in the house of God.

No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity. It is time to stand up for another wrong.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

Uganda’s Parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi. These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen, and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said “Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.” Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

“But they are sinners,” I can hear the preachers and politicians say. “They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished.” My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?

The wave of hate that is underway must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.

Desmond Tutu is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. His editorial is reprinted courtesy of the Desmond Tutu Foundation.

This article was provided by Black AIDS Institute.

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

17.03.2010 Abuse and no end..

Meanwhile one has to get used as a Catholic priest to justify the pure being in such a profession – where ever I go, the questions of abuse and many more are mounting. And surfing the news on the net – one never can escape a new story. I almost feel that we are living in a time of hysteria. Yes, there have been abuse cases in the past – and yes, there have been many stories of covering up and ignoring the facts and leaving victims in the dark.

But does that really mean that all priests are preying on kids? Or does it mean, as the right wingers in our church claim, that only homosexual priests did do these kind of things? Does it really mean that everybody within the church has now to repeat again and again how awful it was and how wrong? Does it really mean that our pastoral work with kids are at a dead-end because there is a pretty good chance that somebody will read something fundamentally wrong into our doing? Does celibacy really foster the appetite for sex with children?

As much as I feel sorry for the past, I can’t see that this kind of hysteria we are facing in the moment can solve any problem. Emotions are important to let out, but to change a situation we have to reflect in a complete different way.

To do this, our church can assist in doing the following: Don’t cover up any more and learn to deal honest with abuse. As more than 95% of abuse is done within families and the circle of friends, we don’t have to hide with our small numbers – we have to face every single case in a serious way.

Another aspect: We as a church have to stop drawing a connection between homosexuality and the abuse of children – there is no connection and I am aware it is nice to use even this situation to justify certain moral theological aspects of the teaching, but it is wrong. Sciences and research show otherwise, so please no more theological politics with this grave situation. This applies specially for those in the utmost right corner of the church, people, who seems to have no sense of shame to abuse an abuse situation to save their church ideology.

We as a church have to think constructive: How can we restore a trust which enables us to work with children and youth without general suspicion. I guess it will be a long way until this is achieved.

But for all including bishops and clergy applies: no hysteria. I am quite impressed with the approach of Bishop Stephan Ackermann, who seems to understand, that only serious reflection can bring us forward in a positive and beneficial way. And I agree with him, that the discussion of celibacy is not directly connected with the abuse cases. Of course this does not mean that we have within the church also to have a debate about this requirement for priesthood in our days – but for that there is another place and time in the moment.

Filed under: Reflection, , , , ,

01.02.2010 News which grabbed my attention this early morning

There are some news which grabbed my attention this morning:

The first is from Berlin where the rector of the Berlin  Canisius-Kolleg gave a press conference about the abuse of minors, which happened in the college in the seventies. Amongst his thoughtful assessment he also said: “The church is suffering of homophobie.” He elaborated that the church keeps quiet about homosexuality in its own rank and the clergy with this inclination is permanently unsure whether there are accepted within the church hierarchy when they deal honestly with their sexuality. I think this is right – we all have to deal with sexuality – and only when we can do it in an honest way, then my assessment is, that most cases of abuse of minors could be avoided. In my view we as a church are guilty of not confronting this topic in a reasonable way many times.

The second news this morning is also from the church and deals with a talk, Archbishop Marx from Munich gave in Davos,where he supported the idea of controlling the banks better after the disaster last year. I think he is right, but that is for still to little to late. Maybe the article I read gave not all he said, but I guess, we have to learn many more lessons from the last recession and as far as I can see, we do ignore most of these but instead touch up some spots and go ahead as usual – until the next crash. It seems that the politicians nor the churches are able really  and hard and honest to reflect on major changes in our economical and political system to avoid disaster and to come to a just system of an economic system, which also has a social component. The fact that every politicans is eager to be re-elected in a short time of office means that most of them have no guts to really go for reform.
The system of Hartz IV in Germany, the unbelievable ignorance of politicians in Germany when it comes to the reform of health care show as examples the impotence of current politics.

The third news of this morning is about the Iraq war and its consequences. It is reported that the advisers to President Bush, who gave green light for the legal implementation of torture as an offical tool for the military and the CIA will not be prosecuted. It is a shame that the masterminds of the implementation of torture are going free while normal people face the full force of the law when convicted of minor things. We are not equal before the law. The same applies by the way for Georg W Bush and Tony Blair who, would they have lived and acted as an African head of states would face the Criminal Court in De Haag for war crimes – starting a war without legal grounds. As European or US American, they are standing above the international law. It is indeed a joke that we fail to implement our own ethical principals to ourselves while insisting they are applied to others.

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

25.09.2009 Makwan. A letter from Paradise

On Facebook I am part of the cause: “save the iranian gays Hamzeh and Loghman from being executed
On the cause side one can see the youtube clip: Makwan, a letter from Paradise – which shows the hanging of a gay person in Iran and brings to live the life of a person who’s only guilt it was to love a man as a man. It is touching, shocking, moving, going to heart.  It is unbelievable that there are still countries where people are executed because of their sexual preference.  And religion is the cause for the death sentence.

I makes me aware of how powerful religion can be, that it can be a cause of life or death, a blessing or a curse for another person with a different ethical view and living condition. And it makes me so much more cautious about how I judge and talk about other people. Also in our Christian believe system is homosexuality intransic evil as I have read in one church paper. Working in the fields of HIV and AIDS, the gay issue is of course very often attached to it, specially when somebody is coming from Europe. Here in South Africa, the virus has no “gay” connotation, many women and heterosexual persons are infected. Nevertheless, when it comes to the history of the virus in the 80′, it was in the gay clubs of North America were the virus was prevalent and spread.

So sexual orientation is on the agenda again and again, when dealing with my portfolio. For me personally, I don’t think, that the sexual preference does not matter and I guess, that for God it also does not play a role – whether somebody has a good heart, develops his or her talents, is doing good, is a blessing for others – that might be rather criteria in his or her eyes. Well, I guess, even “his” or “her” means a limitation to God. But unfortunately our language needs a gender to express itself.  Having in the moment the big discussion about our South African female runner, it shows clearly how careful we should be with gender determination anyway.

Anyway, this film-clip about Makwan, yes, I would say Makwan has touched my heart and my soul this eve, and I will never ever forget what I have seen – and will be always in my mind, as a person, as a Christian, as a priest.

Filed under: Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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