God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

It’s not only shameful, it hurts…

Having celebrated the Eucharist in the Diocese of Harrisburg and having worked with a colleague for some years serving in this diocese the reading of the 40th Statewide Investigation of the Grand Jury on child abuse in the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania makes one wanting to throw up. Putting aside the sensational headlines it makes me wonder how any superior or Bishop can cover up for somebody molesting a child in hospital or leaving a priest in a parish even if he asks for help. This is all beyond my comprehension.
Yes, the Roman Catholic Church has changed and merciless fires priests proofed to have molested children sexually – and yes, a cardinal has recently resigned from being part of this illustrious circle of earls of the church. But is that really enough? Having made John-Paul II a saint while knowing that he indeed also covered up or at least ignored makes a rigorous clear-cut with the past even more difficult. The whole question of who becomes a bishop and if piety Rome style and absolute obedience without interference of own conscience as it has been for many years under the previous two popes has to be looked at again. This system is still partly in place even Pope Francis has taken steps to change this.
In the real world, a complete overhaul of leadership would be the way to go – but that will not happen. The question of power and the inability to go further than paying lip-service to change  as the church never errs somehow (but can develop painstakingly slow).
Germany, Ireland and now again USA – some Asian churches haven’t even started looking seriously into abuse allegations – nor many East European churches. There is more to come and every time there will be the feeling of shame and hurt.

But there is another question: kicking people out of church after having protected them for longer time and leaving it up for society to prevent further damage – is this really fair to all concerned? We as a church have to do more than re-writing the rules of child protection. We have to confront mistakes in the system which are rooted much deeper in how church is working. We also have to confront e.g. the question of sexuality and power in the church. We shouldn’t wait to update ourselves with the newest academic discourse on sexuality like we have waited hundred of years to acknowledge Galileo Galilei was right. Time is of essence as developments are much faster now than 100 years ago. The famous word of Gorbachev “who comes to late will be punished by life”applies – but in our case innocent lives are punished for the failures of those in power.

I was told yesterday that 3 victims of those abused in Pennsylvania have committed suicide by now – and I can’t imagine the pain and horror other victims and their families now go through again while listening to the news and reading newspapers. It is not only shameful, it deeply hurts….

The redacted interim report is found here to read: Interim Redacted Report

Filed under: Catholic Church, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , ,

Bringing Africa to the US…

Amish family riding in a traditional Amish bug...

Amish family riding in a traditional Amish buggy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lancaster, the last stop on my way to Spring Grove PA. There in the Catholic parish of Sacred Heart I am supposed to preach the weekend. But how bring the situation of Africa to the rural area of Pennsylvania? I must admit I am not quite sure how that will work out and whether I find the right words to beam South African reality to Amish county. People, who I have never met before will have the chance of a “sermon-length” to learn about the work HOPE Cape Town is doing – a weekend encounter which hopefully strives a bond of understanding between Mfuleni, Wallacedene and Spring Grove.
Yes, the world has become a village – but still one wonders how to bridge the gap in a way, people really understand the plight of their fellow brothers and sisters in another corner of the world. Against my usual procedure I did not prepare a sermon because I think to take this chance I must get a sense on how to communicate with this community and I hope the luncheon with Fr Paul and Fr Tom this noon time will help me with this exciting challenge.
When I woke up this morning I thought to myself how strange it is that a person from rural Germany, the “Eifel” happens to be the messenger for a South African project in rural Pennsylvania, where most are offspring from German settlers. Indeed, the word of “citizen of the world” comes to mind – the global village beams us from the comfort of a limited home turf into such a global citizen situation one or the other way.
Let’s hope that those attending the services this weekend are touched by the stories of those living in the Western Cape and that this a start of a continuous relationship between the two worlds. That would be the ideal outcome. But even if this is only a once off encounter, to learn about others living in another corner of the world can only widen the horizon of those listening.

Filed under: Catholic Church, HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
more info www.hopegala.de and admin@hopecapetown.com

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018

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