God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

13.05.2010 Finally Muenchen…

Last day in Rome and meeting with the Papal Council for Justice & Peace – a very intense and meaningful talk and we leave with the impression that it was more than good and just to approach this council for our work with HIV positive priests and religious. A lot to think about and a lot of planing ahead.
After visiting the church used by the prayer circle of St. Egidio in Rome and reminding us of all the modern martyrs we get to the airport to fly to Munich.

Our first meeting is with Prof. Beckmann from the TU Munich and we discuss certain aspects of common work lying ahead between the TU and HOPE Cape Town. Then after 10 pm we arrive at our hotel and we are left with a last drink while preparing for our first meeting tomorrow. A long day draws to an end and the 2nd ecumenical church day is waiting for us.

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

11.05.2010 Wolfsburg – Rome

First station on our tour to Europe is Wolfsburg to attend a working session of the World AIDS Awareness Campaign II.   A day later we are already in Rome and today we had an appointment with the secretary of the Papal Council for Health Care Workers, Bishop Jose Rotrado, on the topic of “POZ – pastoral care for HIV positive priests and religious”. When we arrive at his office – to our surprise – our first meeting is with His Excellency, the President of the Papal Council, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski himself. Fluently in German and English we have the chance to discuss with him the relevant topics before seeing Bishop Jose Retrado and discussing with him in detail the next steps and possibilities.

In the afternoon then visit of St. Peters and other “must see” places in Rome – the Manenberg parishioners are waiting for some pictures of the trip their parish priest is doing. Late afternoon/evening then reflection of the morning meetings and preparations for the next meeting  with the secretary of the Papal Council for Justice & Peace, whom we will see tomorrow.

Filed under: General, Networking, , , , , ,

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…

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

19.10.2009 will they listen?

At 9 am today we will have the meeting with the papal council for the health care workers, which also deals with the topic of HIV and AIDS.  Coming closer to the meeting I am really excited, thrilled and a bit anxious how they will receive our POZ proposal working with HIV positive clergy. Open support?? silent support?? No support?? More talks needed? Are they the right partners for such an endeavor?  We will see…

I am glad that Joachim is with me,  it also gives us the opportunity to discuss the topic “sports and church” in the field of HIV and AIDS.

Joachim Franz and Stefan Hippler

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

18.10.2009 Rome ….

Flying to Rome always sounds like a great trip, and indeed the city is amazing. History, past and present times are melting together in a way which triggers interest in the past history of human mankind. I surely could live in Rome for a while.

But only 16 hours will bring me to Rome, one meeting with the papal council of the health care workers – a council dealing also with HIV and AIDS. We, Joachim Franz and I will meet with the secretary, Bishop Jose and continue our discussion from last November. It is for me vital to introduce during the talk also our project dealing with HIV positive clergy – and it will be very interesting for me to see how they see the subject. Ideal would be to join forces on this tricky issue, but I am not sure they are really wanting to put such a topic on any official agenda. So I will see… but I hope for support and understanding,especially in the African context, but also internationally. There is no reason to put the head into the sand and to ignore an obvious problem within the church.

Bishop Jose, secretary of the papal council and Fr Stefan

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

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