God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

22.04.2010 working group for HIV positive priests and religious

What has the working group for HIV positive priests and religious in mind?

We want to provide excellent and confidential service and pastoral care for Catholic priests, religious, deacons and seminarians, but open to other denominations – which includes:

    • Advice for priests, religious, deacons and seminarians regarding VCT for themselves and their communities
    • Confidential and non judgmental counseling (in person, by email, phone, letter)
    • General information about HIV and AIDS
    • Assistance in the work on AIDS policies in religious institutions, diocesan structures, church related business
    • Workshops for interested priests and religious
    • Networking for priests and religious infected or affected by the HI virus
    • Advocacy against stigma
    • Transforming the stigma of HIV into a meaningful tool of service to others in our churches
    • Working on a theology of HIV and AIDS
    • Cooperation with relevant authorities, especially with the papal council for health care workers

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Networking, Society and living environment, , , , , , ,

05.03.2010 Just some bits..

Today was quite a day.. in the morning it took me two hours to get a number within the headquarters of TELKOM to report my grievance. There is still – after 8 days – no progress on re-establishing the ADSL line. The PA of the person in charge promised to phone me back.. well, maybe tomorrow…

Caught by police having a cellphone in the hand… the fine is 500 Rand. But as it is almost usual in South Africa I got away with donating towards some chicken wings for the hungry police.. – much cheaper than the fine…

I had to go to a dentist – and landed in Fourways at a dental clinic. The dentist spoke an excellent German – he was from Namibia and as far as I could see and feel, he did an excellent job. After finishing – the dentist said: “We all belive in one God” – and scraped the payment.  What a nice surprise..

Talk with Archbishop Buthi about our POZ initiative regarding HIV positive priests and clergy. Once again after the nuncio and Archbishop Steven in Cape Town a positive talk and sometimes I really feel home in my church, because there is a basic understanding for the care of people, even if theological positions seems to be far away. But the pastoral care is a level, where we all can meet and stand our grounds.

In the evening visiting friends – why are so many robots out-of-order in Johannesburg?? To drive 2 km in 1 hour can make one very nervous. On the way back seen a very bad accident – the motorcyclist was still treated on the road.. May God be with him and may he survive – the bike certainly did not…

These are only some of the bits and pieces of today – small stories but also needed to be told…

Filed under: Reflection, , , , , , ,

16.02.2010 POZ and CAN

A whole series of meetings today, amongst others one with our working group looking into the pastoral care for HIV positive priests and religious. We discuss the way forward and how important it is to back up our pastoral efforts with a proper theological and psychological consideration. Obviously it is compassion driving us, but is this enough? When we want to engage bishops and convince them to support us, it would be good for us to have done our homework. Obviously we also have to look at the scale of what we can do and how we approach it. A very constructive meeting and surely a big step forward.

Afterwards meeting with the Catholic Aids Network in Welcome Estate. We are still waiting for our constitution as requested by the National Catholic Aids office and we discussed in length the way forward. The topic HIV and AIDS has indeed changed in the last years and for many church groups and initiatives, it is one aspect of their work amongst others. This is different from when CAN started, where the support groups were partly marginalised and worked very isolated, thus needing much more networking and moral support. We also aim to have a service around World Aids Day, not only as a memorial service for those, who have died already, but also as a sign of encouragement for those, who are still working in this field. And I am convinced we have not reached yet the peak – the PEFPAR funding is going to get less, and we still have to catch up for quite some wasted years here in South Africa; the adherence will be a topic and a problem in the years to come. Whoever thinks, that HIV and AIDS is dealt with – I think the opposite. We still have a way to go – and if we not take care of this way, we will have to pay a costly price.  Between political declarations of intent and reality is here in South Africa still a big gap ( I guess not only in South Africa)…

HOPE Cape Town, Catholic AIDS Network, the poz initiative for HIV positive priests and clergy  and all the other local initiatives will be needed still for a long time…

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , ,

18.01.2010 Back to work…

Who does not know the feeling at the end of a holiday to be thorn between liking to stay a bit longer but also the curiosity to get home and back to the daily routine of working, eating, sleeping and dreaming of the next holidays.
And I think I have enough to be excited about when coming home: HOPE Cape Town will get new offices under the wings of pharmacology and I will have my office there, much better than working from home. “Going to work” has its merit – coming home as well – combining both one sometimes does not know when one is at work or at leisure.

Travel to the 2nd ecumenical church days in Munich, Rome, several invitations to talks, working meetings with Joachim Franz and his team (www.wae.de), the Ball of HOPE, the HOPE Gala Dresden, the “Berliner AIDS Gala”, Blankenese and the Walzertal, the World AIDS Conference and not to forget the Soccer World Cup in South Africa are waiting – for latter I applied to be a volunteer and will have an interview coming week. Exciting times – and of course some holidays in between.
The 10th anniversary of the Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce in February is not forgotten on this list – as well as all the promised visits to each and every township clinic to visit all our HOPE Community Health Workers at their working place. Developing new projects and continuing the already running work of HOPE Cape Town has also its merits on the scale of excitement.

So yes, it is time to come home and to get going again and to see, how I can live in my new role as “present of faith”.
A new bishop in Cape Town, the work with POZ, the working group dealing with HIV positive clergy – also on this side is a lot to come. And I already agreed to supply in quite some parishes which means to get more insight and learn more about life in the different societies of Greater Cape Town.

Well, what can I say: Cape Town, I am coming..:-))

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

10.11.2009 A long day…

… draws to an end. And a day which was defined by meetings, two major meetings. The first with the group which calls itself “working group POZ” and is driving the process of the pastoral care for priests and religious living with the virus. I reported back from my meeting with the Papal Council for Health Care Workers and other meetings related to this work. And we discussed the way forward trying to involve the level of bishops into our work  as proposed by the councils representative. So we will approach some bishops in the next time to get their support – the first I will see tomorrow is Archbishop Lawrence P Henry, who gave with his blessings the starting point for this joined work between the “Justice & Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Cape Town” and HOPE Cape Town. It is a further step on a long way to bring the topic to the top of the church.

In the afternoon then first planing meeting and then management meeting of HOPE Cape Town. It is a productive time, a time to reflect and plan the necessary structures of HOPE Cape Town for the next time. What is running good, what has to be enhanced, what has to be corrected – how can we optimise the mechanism of work within HOPE Cape Town so that we deliver on our mission statement. But also the question where are our limits? What burden can we carry? Reports back, correspondence, requests – there is always so many things which waits for a decision or the next step ahead. At the end we all know that exciting times are lying ahead. Hopefully new and sufficient office space will be available still this year to accommodate the new working structures of HOPE Cape Town.  Kerstin, our future PA to chair and management has done her first 6 weeks and reports back. It is good to see how good she fits in and enjoys her work – and the HOPE Cape Town people enjoying working with her. It is always a blessing to see when people fit in nicely. Or our HOPE Cape Town doctor, who is with us already for 5 months, but it feels as she has been with us for some years.

I leave the meetings with the feeling that we are moving forward and that we are all willing to bring HOPE Cape Town to a new level of professionalism without losing the heart of the project. I feel encouraged that after months of soul-searching and pondering the right way we are now on this right way into a good future – for the sake of the people we try to assist. Thanks to everybody who contributed to todays productive meetings.

 

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

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