God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

The knives are out at home…

It seems the knives are out in the Catholic church especially of my country of birth and in Europe – everybody wants dialogue but it seems that every fraction is fighting seemingly assuming that their position is the right way into a bright future of the RC church. The permission of the “old tridentine mass” as the extraordinary mass and the remarks of the pope regarding the condom use in the book of Mr Seewald – mixed with the abuse cases, the attempt to change the text of the mass to make it more “latin like” – from outside it looks frightening – fulled by irresponsible essays and news of so-called “catholic” websites in German language lacking every inch of the ethos of Catholicism and using a language rather be found in the times of the thirties of the last century in Germany. The just published declaration of theologian in Germany calling for a review of celibacy, women ordination and viri probati shows that since the II Vatican Council, nothing really has moved in these fields – binding our energy for matters which should have been resolved a long time ago.

If we really want to tackle the issues of the people and the faithful of our times, we have to stop fighting but first of all listening to each other. What energy is burned to hold up a certain ideology in our church or a so-called “tradition” – anxiety instead of freedom, attack and defence instead of listening to God’s good spirit.
And obviously this has also consequences for the topic, this blog is reflecting about. How much energy some put in to defend “Humanae Vitae” in a way which simply made it impossible within the church to develop an answer to the question: protection of life. And as Benedict XVI dared to speak his theological mind not saying anything new – for days the newspaper were full of comments and the Vatican had to issue three statements to interpret the interview of the pope in the right light. And now Vatican sources tell us that there is a new word on HIV/AIDS to expect, looking at it from a Christian perspective.  I hover between hope and despair waiting for this new paper.

I really would like to see a stop on all this navel gazing – how we can serve the people and make their life meaningful, that is the only question we should ask ourselves as members of or church, how we can open ourselves up to God’s spirit without always killing the breeze out of anxiety, stubbornness and a picture of God, which in reality is already outdated when we put it together. Then whoever and where ever God is, I believe that he/she is much more than we ever can think of. And for that, I am indeed grateful.

Serving in the field of HIV/AIDS would mean then to look anew at what sexuality constitutes, what sciences are telling us, how we have developed in the last 100 years. And from there to see how we can create a meaningful and responsible context for sexual activities which also matches the realities of us humans. Seeing how many young people world-wide are still dying we also have to reflect more on what life and death means and how we can learn to speak of a meaningful life, even if it is short. We have to put our view of a “successful” life on the test bench. HIV and AIDS has also to do with evolution, with a virus meeting a new host and being not able to co-exist in a way, other bacteria are living with us since ages.  The questions of justice and peace are also still not solved and I am sure the topic HIV and AIDS with all consequences could contribute immensely towards those questions.

So much to do… to reflect … to get down to business …

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Vatican Clarifies Pope’s Condom Remarks

The Vatican clarified Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks about condoms by reiterating they could sometimes be used to prevent the spread of disease but not to prevent pregnancy, The New York Times reports. The recent statement, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was issued to clear up the possible misinterpretations and manipulations of the pope’s comments as permission for widespread condom use, which goes against the church’s stance against birth control. This was the Vatican’s third clarification on the pope’s condom comments, which were welcomed by AIDS activists when they appeared last month in a book.

To read the Times article, click here.

Source: http://www.poz.com/rssredir/articles/Pope_condoms_clarification_1_19635.shtml

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, , , , , , , , ,

25.10.2009 Ignorance and the sensus fidei

The following interview from Cardinal Napier (Durban) was given to the the Vatic an newsletter, several news station report:

Cardinal says media has ignored work of African bishops’ synod

Three weeks of intensive discussion among African bishops about the challenges they face in their poor and often war-torn countries have been largely ignored by the media, a South African cardinal said. Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban and a co-president of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, also has complained that news about Africa in newspapers and on television in the rest of the world is usually bad news, and that positive stories are rarely reported. The Vatican’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, asked Cardinal Napier Oct. 23 whether sufficient attention had been given to the synod; he replied, “Absolutely not. It’s been very little.” Some Catholic newspapers and radio stations across Africa covered the synod, which was to close Oct. 25, but “as far as the rest of the media is concerned, I don’t think they are doing much,” the cardinal said. “Spiritual or religious things are not reported, unless they are controversial,” he said. “In that case,” he added, “they are sure to be published!” The 275 members of the synod have discussed a vast array of topics regarding the church’s work in Africa, including economic injustice, war, hunger, Christian-Islamic dialogue, family life, environmental exploitation and the particular plight of women, just to name a few. Even before the Vatican newspaper interview, Cardinal Napier had taken a gentle swipe at the media for ignoring the positive aspects of the continent while emphasizing disasters and tragedies. “Africa is much more,” he told journalists Oct. 14. “It embodies values and abilities that can offer spiritual richness, even to the rest of the world.” He admitted in the L’Osservatore interview that the bishops themselves during the synod presented the difficulties faced in Africa, often dramatically. “We are trying to describe the African reality, and unfortunately it must be said that in many parts there are serious problems,” he said. But, the cardinal said, “there are also positive realities,” like the reconciliation processes in Rwanda, Burundi and South Africa. “We should ask the media to announce good news as well,” he said. An example of good news that most media outlets would tend to ignore, he said, “is the growth and deepening of the faith there.”

In this interview he also complained that the church is only judged in the fields of HIV and AIDS in terms of the condom issue, leaving out the great work the church is doing otherwise in this field. I agree with the cardinal. But for me, this shows how sensitive and critical this issue is for the public and that since 1968 this issue has not been resolved within our own church. The “sensus fidelium”, necessary for the churches’s speaking about truth as one criteria, has even 40 years later refused to embrace the well-known encyclica in its entireness. We as the church can try to ignore this matter of fact, but it will not go away. It will bite us until we confront ourselves as church with this reality.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Reflection, , , , , , , , , ,

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