God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

06.12.2009 Tiger Woods or skeletons are always to find…

I am amazed to read again and again stories about Tiger Wood, the golfer who is falling in the moment apart – at least when you believe the newspapers and all those, who have known always..  I personally find his story in the moment rather tragic – because I believe that everybody is a human being and only a human one – everybody has skeletons in his hidden cellar – some are lucky, other are less fortune and it is revealed still at lifetimes. It seems that the longing of people for “the hero”, the model who is superhuman – with no mistakes and no errors of judgement. Looking into politics, sports but also the church, how can one judge this often so overwhelming outcry, if a person of the public is caught red-handed in an affair or similar.

I have the impression that specially those, who are lucky for not being discovered yet are those who point fingers the most and the most vehement. And I also have the impression that one mistake or even a line of mistakes makes a whole life achievement invalid. Suddenly, the whole person is bad or not worthy to be on a pedestal Well, we, the audience, the spectators are puting people on the pedestal and we make people think that they deserve being up above us. It reminds me the “Hosianna” and “Crucify him” – the same screamers only days apart. We have not learned since 2000 years.

I believe that all life is trial and error, is achievement and failure – and that the last judgement is for God, nobody else. Life is always a struggle and nobody wins all battles in life. Or, as we Christians say: We are all saints and sinners at the same time.

I was attending the ordination to the diaconate today of Dominic – and obviously this is a moment where one reflects on all the promises done in this very moment of ordination, of all the goodwill , every ordained person has at the begin of his ministry. But life is long and many challenges are lying ahead. And also here I strongly believe one should never forget that also clergy is made of humans.  How often is such a “holy man” put on a pedestal in a community – whether he wants or not. I admit, some even like it – get used to it.. but every community or parish has also the duty to keep their priest on the carpet… And some helping hands after failure.

Reading about Tiger Woods the golfer and attending the ordination – I am more than ever convinced that more mercy – but also more privacy is deserved by each and everybody.

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

22.11.2009 4 weeks and already he is gone again

Exactly four weeks has my successor as the new chaplain to the German-speaking Catholic Community lived in Cape Town before leaving again. Living behind “burglar bars” was not his dream, a mugging added to the anxiety. It is a pity as once again it has been proven that the transfer of priests is not a chess game or goes according to files from the human resource department. For me it was sad to see that an obvious wrong transfer knows only losers: the person who was transferred, the community who was looking forward to have another priest and obviously also the Kath. Auslandssekretariat, which has shown that they ignored the realities of the persons and communities concerned.

I wish my successor, who is now back in Germany awaiting his new assignment, all the best. Thanks God the pastoral community council found a retired German priest who is able to supply for the rest of the year. And for me amazing to see how people now take more ownership and responsibility to maintain a certain level of service until a new chaplain will arrive somewhere next year. Nevertheless, after 12,5 years of building up a community, it is somehow frustrating to see how careless my previous headquarters puts at risk the work of many years.

As mentioned yesterday in my blog, my last “spiritual seminarian” will be ordained deacon on the 6.12. This is the first time that I will be at Nazareth House again and meet with the German-speaking Catholic Community. I have to attend this event after years of accompanying Dominik towards priesthood. His diaconate will be the first step of ordination, end of next year should then follow the ordination to the priesthood.

Finally a good start into the week also for HOPE Cape Town. We will get new offices at pharmacology in February next year. Then all senior staff will work in close proximity at the University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg Campus and also I will occupy an office there. But we still have to search for a new team secretary for the G7 Ithemba Ward. Also for February  next year – if you know a reliable person with secretarial knowledge and a lot of human values and a peoples person – let me know.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

01.08.2009 Can a priest or religious be hiv positiv?

Dealing with HIV and AIDS on an ongoing base, it is interesting to note, that in our church we are always doing something for others, for those who are belonging to the flock, so to speak. But what is with those of us, the priests, the religious, the seminarians, those, preparing themselves for ordination – how do they cope with their infection? Isn’t it like having a double stigma – for seemingly having done something not allowed and this in the field of sexuality – forbidden for those who live celibacy.

Have you ever thought about those of the clergy being not able to disclose because the parishioners, or the bishop, or the fellow clergymen would reject and discriminate against such a person? Having a whole generation of youngsters born HIV positive – how if they receive a calling? Some seminaries or bishops require a medical certificate – being HIV positive excludes them for being trained to be a priest. How many orders don’t take brothers when they are infected? Does God not call people with the virus?

HOPE Cape Town and the Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Cape Town want to tackle these questions and to reach out to those who are infected and working in the fields of the Catholic Church. We are in the beginning to set up a network of pastoral care, of networking which should reach far beyond South Africa.

So if you know about somebody, make him or her aware of this offer. I will continue to report on the progress of this initiative – confidentiality is guaranteed and on the website there are the emails of different persons to contact.

Let’s brake the silence about HIV and priests and religious in our own church and let this stigma be turned into a charisma for the person concerned and for the community, he or she is working in. And let us convene the unconditional love of God to all of those, who are serving in the Catholic Church with the virus and all, what comes with it.

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

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