God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

The world in which we live..

NBC Nightly News broadcast

NBC Nightly News broadcast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure that is common experience but I was always interested in putting my work and my immediate surroundings into the context of what happens around the world. And sometimes I feel overwhelmed from all the bad news coming via different news channels. But they touch me somehow and influence me in a way I am not sure I can define in a proper way.
Looking around me there is the big scandal of espionage – who ever thought Facebook is not safe now knows that there seems to be all stops pulled to gain access to all emails and chats. I never thought, that internet is safe, but knowing that there is a systematic approach to bend the law and obviously dismiss the freedom and privacy of ordinary citizens under the pretext of security brings this knowledge to a new level and is depressing.
Yesterday the pope visited the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa and urged help for desperate migrants who risk their lives getting there – I am impressed and a bit proud that humanity and a joyful approach to our faith is visible in our leadership. And it feels good that there is a sense of openness again within our church; there is a sense of being allowed to speak out freely and without fear – what a blessing.
Syria – how often have I experienced the hospitality of Syrian people and Egypt where a colleague of mine is stationed – the travesty of politics in both cases shows how little respect our political systems have when it comes to the Arabic spring and it’s people concerned.
From Europe there comes the news that two more people seems to have lost their infection after a bone-marrow transplant, these are some good news from overseas. Here in South Africa we watch with horror the ugly Mandela soap opera – where the fight about the inheritance already has begun before the great statement has even closed his eyes.

We cannot escape the world we live in, and I sometimes wonder, what kind of influence this world has in all the needy township communities, where also news and soap operas impact on the minds and hearts of people. How does it affect the people seeing the madness of the big world and of course of their small world – the glitter of high society life mirrored in South African but also US soap operas but also the obvious corruption of their politicians, the wealth of the few who made it out of poverty and now play big shots in politics and society without being too much concerned about the well-being of their fellow citizens.

Working as a priest and working with people living with the HI virus means working in a micro – environment. It is work on the very personal level of society. But I cannot help but continue to wonder how much the bigger scenario interacts with this very personal level and how the overwhelming flood of information through all kinds of media makes life and touching each others lives more difficult and challenging.

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

SABC3 – Who is the new pope?

Copyright: Espresso Show 2013 – YouTube channel

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Preparing for Europe

south africa

south africa (Photo credit: rafiq s)

 

 

As always this time of the year I am preparing to leave Cape Town and fly to Germany for an extended period of time. For four weeks I will travel to and between Munich, Frankfurt, Dresden, Berlin, Trier, but also Vienna and London and other cities. It is a very hectic schedule, but I try to bundle as much as possible into my agenda to make the long flight worthwhile and to use the time as efficient as possible. The HOPE Gala in Dresden will be the highlight of the trip, followed by the Festive AIDS Gala in Berlin. But besides all glamor the trip is about HOPE Cape Town and about people. It is also about being an ambassador for the situation in South Africa. We are going through a tough time here in country – mine strikes, burning trucks, strikers killing people who want to work; all the news about violence and intimidation is surely not good news and paints a rather grim picture of South African society. In fights within the ANC, the ruling party, but also corruption, wildcat strikes, violence, high unemployment and the lack of political leadership brings the country to the brink of chaos and unlawfulness. It feels a bit like the wild west when watching the news. But as always there are also rays of hope and a great potential. All this makes it even more important that the relationship between South Africa and European countries is strong and based on honest and correct information, which in return fosters the means to support the new South Africa in a beneficial way. I hope that my travel contributes not only to the well-being to HOPE Cape Town Association& Trust but also gives a bit towards a better future for this beloved country.

 

 

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , ,

… what an insight…

Coming closer to the World AIDS Conference, you can read in all Catholic and specially more right-wing Catholic articles about the conference that the expert of Caritas Internationalis, Msgr Robert Vitillo proclaimed that condoms don’t solve the problem of AIDS.  I am amazed and it reminds me lots of sermons I have heard in my life where questions are asked or statements are attacked which nobody really ever had in mind. So I am not sure what drives the media to repeat in sensational ways a statement nobody is anyhow interested in or has ever claimed to be the only solution to the pandemic. Well, it might be that there is the intention to show that the anti-condom Catholic teaching is at the end the right point of view when it comes to AIDS. And it seems that repeating this “insight” makes it one day coming true…
The battle against the pandemic needs all tools we have at hands and when we will look back at the pandemic once the tide is turned we as the church will feel ashamed for rejecting one of the most important tools for “here and now” to prevent new infections. And we might even laugh to see how important that little bit of rubber was, so much so that moral theologian could get into trouble because of it. And I am sure God might laugh too…  –  but we all in the church have to take responsibility for those having followed the rules of the church and got into deadly trouble as a consequence. Life is precious and we are not allowed to bargain with it as cost for a teaching which we all know can and will and has changed over times.

Filed under: General, HIV Prevention, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

28.08.2010 A brief visit…

.. to the National conference of people living with HIV in Bielefeld. I have the honour to be part of a podium discussion about pictures, used in media about people living with the virus. Interesting two hours.. What kind of pictures are dominant? How do people perceive those pictures? How different are the pictures in South Africa and in Germany? How much of the pictures, real or virtual (e.g. by writing about HIV) from Europe filters through to Africa? The positive gay couple in the “big brother container”, the Nadja court proceedings, the dying African people, the big eyes of suffering kids, the report about bare backing on TV.. so many different ways to portray people living with the virus…
New AIDS and old AIDS, meaning: chronic disease (and all is normal) against death sentence (before HAART treatment) – what is the reality of people living with the virus and how to translate it via media into the public domain?

So many questions – and certainly a diversity of answers – important questions and important answers. An important discussion…

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

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