God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

From Cruise-liner pastoral work back to African realities

Some gaps are difficult to cover – and after doing pastoral work for passengers on a cruise-liner going from Australia to Sri Lanka, I am now back in Cape Town to continue my work in the local Archdiocese of Cape Town. It was nice to be away for a while and it was interesting working on such a ship. What a meeting of worlds, what kind of dynamics. I seldom had so much fun preaching in the prayer services and Eucharistic celebrations – it felt like hearts met and a connection established which brought “my world” to these mainly elderly people who traveled the world without getting too much in contact with reality. One day Cambodia, one day Thailand, one day Aceh and so on – it seems to me a first smooth encounter and how much I would wish for a deeper encounter – but time don’t permit. On the other hand – having worked hard at home the passengers tried to conquer the world, to catch a glimpse of other cultures and living environments. And I am sure it changes their perception of the world, it these encounters are done in a sensitive way.

I was able to show the BR TV production “Hoffnung am Kap” and tears and big eyes gave witness how often it is forgotten: the plight of those less fortune then we are. It is not easy to realize that wealth and high living standard is only possible if others suffer or at least have little to live on. I am sure I found new friends for HOPE Cape Town and some people staying in touch with me and the work I am doing with all my colleagues.

The cruise has shown me again how big the gap is between North and South – and how much I am already more an African than an European. It is scary, it is amazing, but it remains my challenge to be a bridge between two worlds which at the end need each other.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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