God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

02.01.2010 Afterthoughts..

The first decade of the new century or better millenium is gone – and when people had dreams about things going better in this world after the cold war ended – we all have been dead wrong. Civil wars continue – the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians reached a new sort of brutality and we saw war crimes on both sides of the fence. 9/11 marked an area of confusion about we really can declare a “war of terror” – President Bush and his alike introduced torture again as a means of interrogation in a democracy – an unlawful war in Iraq produced chaos and a killing spree and the war in Afghanistan is also not what we have been promised.

Bankers have nothing learned out of the credit crunch and the financial turmoil and politics tried to gain upper hand – without a lot of success – we are drifting into the next turmoil for sure. Sarkozy in Paris, Berlusconi in Italy – the sort of politicians we get are at least questionable in my view. Copenhagen was a disaster – and the EU is growing in a way which might not be practical on a long-term run. Meanwhile we have to fight for our civil rights in Europe which seems to be taken away step by step. We urgently need a discussion on what is the purpose of a state.

Our church also did not show itself from the best side – children abuse was and is a big topic and Pope Benedict XVI also did not miss out some deeds of irritation be it his lecture in Regensburg, his like for the old traditions in liturgy and other matters as well his approach towards the Pius-Brotherhood.

My personal way was in the last year also in turmoil. Ignorance, jealousy, breach of promise and the likes should not be part of the principles for action within the church.  But staffing policy is not easy and not every department head and desk officer has the skills for human resource management or interpersonal skills. The virtue of dealing with criticism is also not that often found in the culture of the church. But I can say that I am not bitter and I am happy that I have overcome this testing of my vocation – it was at breaking point.

All this does not sound very exciting – but as so often: there are thousands of events, encounters, moments of joy, happiness, fulfillment – and all those moments give a good balance and a solid base to go into the new decade, even in my personal life with the resolution to remain a human and to “fight” for a human world – into a God made himself a human being, as we Christians believe.

My belief that at the end, it will all come together despite all human attempts to derail the lives of human fellows – and I am sure there will be a justice in a way at the end of our life, which is perfect but so different from what we call justice with our little human mind. I am looking forward to whatever is left from my personal life and to try to live it to the fullest.

Everybody who was with me, supported me, showed me his/her love, affection, trusted that I can assist him/her, prayed for me, just was part of my life: Thanks you and thank God for you!!

Happy New Year 🙂

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20.10.2009 Hans Kueng – and “Das Lied der Deutschen”

Residing in Fallersleben in the house, where August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben wrote his “Das Lied der Deutschen” which is today the text of the National Anthem of Germany. So a real historic place to be and I like it more and more reading his life story: He studied theology while having interest in the old history, I did study theology also and was actually interested to study archaeology and Egyptology. Prussia kicked him out being suspected to have to democratic thoughts – Nachtigall ick hoer Dir trapsen..:-)) – he had great friends supporting him and backing him up. The nice thing is that his story has a happy end and he is rehabilitated before he is died in 1874.

Thinking of rehabilitation my mind directly recalls Hans Kueng, who wrote me an email after hearing of me terminating the duties as a chaplain of the German speaking Catholic Community. I have learned to know Hans Kueng in 1999 as a visitor to our community and we both participated in the Parliament of the World Religions. At that time we also concelebrated and I must say that I have very very seldom experienced a more pius priest in the best sense of the word as him. And my wish is the same like that of Mr. Erwin Teufel, previous premier of Baden-Wuerttemberg: That Hans Kueng will be rehabilitated within the official Catholic Church. He more than deserves that, the Catholic Church actually owes it to him.  Much more than any of those Pius brothers who think they are owning the truth. Sure, Hans Kueng is critical to many aspects of the church and I am too, but that does not make us less faithful or less part of the Catholic Church. In contrary: I strongly believe that only with honest critics we can find our way through the times. And my experience is that honest criticism brought me personally always a step further in life. There are anyhow too many people only saying what one wants to hear.

What for thoughts while having breakfast in this historic house…

Filed under: Reflection, , , , , , , , ,

21.08.2009 Judging people…

With the elevation of the Pius brotherhood through Benedikt XVI into the public eye we all can see and sense a new dawn of those, who are living in the past of the RC church and have refused to develop their faith. This in itself isn’t worrying. If people feel fine with the good old days and they want to keep them until they die – why not, if they apply it only to themselves. The danger is that with all the discussion now in the public forum, the old pictures from judgement, from evil, hell and condemnation, from a God acting like a policeman or a bookkeeper emerge again and that is the scary part. Reading about a priest in Austria starting to scare First Communion kids with hell and eternal condemnation – such teaching is surely encouraged through all the debate about the Pius brotherhood.

To spell it out again and again – and you can ask my community in Cape Town, they know it meanwhile and dream of it and can memorize it: God is love – unconditional love – and nothing ever can make us say that somebody has fallen out of the grace and mercy of God. Nobody! All those nevertheless doing it, denying that God is so much greater than all our thinking and understanding.

And this non judgemental unconditional love applies especially when it comes to such tricky topics like HIV and AIDS. There are no innocent babies and no not so innocent adults. There are only brothers and sisters with a certain condition. Point. No “Moralin”, no “Gardinenpredigt” – just acknowledgement, embracing of the condition and then the question, how to deal with it in a way beneficial to the person and his or her environment. Changing the stigma to a tool of compassion and mercy, self-knowledge and maturity.

I guess, if there is anything people living with the virus need besides good treatment and good friends it is people fighting like hell the stigma in our societies, fighting the travel bans, the discrimination, the human rights violations and fighting those who point fingers. And I have learned in my life: The more hostile people point fingers, the more they have to hide…

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22.07.2009 Pius brotherhood

With amazement I am reading today the statement of Alfonso de Galaretta, one of the according to the Roman Catholic Church unlawful ordained bishops. His statement echoes the unbelievable arrogance and ignorance, with which the Pius brotherhood still maintains to be the guardian of the Roman Catholic Church and that there is no salvation outside this church. He further claims that the excommunication was indeed never valid – the only reason to ask for the lifting was to get public opinion right.
It is indeed a more and more dangerous game, our church is getting into in engaging with those, who never excepted that being a church means always to be on a way towards more understanding of God. Nothing is set in stone when it comes to God,  we always must be open to discover more and more the magnificent scope of his love, his plans, his grace and his mercy.
The debate with the Pius brother leads in the wrong direction – it gives right wingers and people with a tendency to religious fascism a platform to advertise themselves and to disturb the development of our church. Unity is important, I agree, and I am sure for most people involved in the lifting of the excommunication there was a good intention. But it turns out to  be counterproductive for the life of the church, it damages our reputation and it will lead to deeper rifts between the fractions. It shows that good intention not always produce a positive result.

Lets hope that there will be a stop sign to all of that – and if a couple of hundred thousand believe that only their faith will bring them to salvation and that they have to convert the Jews – let them live and die in their believe – also they will fall into the merciful hand of God.

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