God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

04.11.2009 Positive clergy

At the end of my stay in Germany I have had a meeting with a representative of the Archdiocese of Munich to discuss with him several matters. One was my request to the Archbishop of Munich to support my work in the fields of HIV/AIDS when it comes to priests, religious, clergy being positive. It is a tricky question but a very important one: how we deal with those amongst us, who are HIV positive.

I will visit in the near future some South African bishops as well to discuss this topic and to try to bring it to Rome. “It will raise some eyebrows”, so a member of the papal council for health care worker in Rome, but he also sees it as necessary to face this question. For me it has to do with justice within the church – all what we proclaim outside how to deal with people being HIV positive we must apply within the church. A long way to go, but all starts with the first mile. And I am grateful to all who are part of this new project.

www.hopecapetown.com/poz

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

22.09.2009 more fundamental questions…

In the last days I described my stance on mandatory testing and the pre-testing counseling. Having now more time to dedicate my energy towards the HIV/AIDS portfolio, there are more topics I feel are necessary to persue in the coming months and years. I have spoken already about the need to end the stigmatization within the health sector itself.  On the political front I can forsee to look more intensive into the question of travel freedom of people living with the virus. The ban to visit certain countries or the ban to get a work permit if you are HIV positive as you can find it in Australia, Singapore and many other countries is not only a sign of a lack of maturity of politicians in the respective countries but also a clear violation of human rights. I am aware that the UN, but also the German “AIDS Hilfe” is dealing with the issue, but we should all join hands and start to pressurize political systems allowing such violations of dignity and human rights.
In some of the blogs I mention the work with HIV positive priests and religious as well as seminarians. This is indeed a very tricky question and I hope that in October, when I am in Rom to meet together with Joachim Franz with the papal council for health care workers, to get this council on board to have a hard look how we deal with HIV and AIDS in our own ranks. Is the refusal to take a HIV positive person into e.g. monkhood or a seminary not a sign of fear and immaturity of the church? Are we as a church really allowed to deal with infected people in refusing them to follow their vocation? I am sure that God does not mind the status of a person. So we also shouldn’t mind the HIV status of a person. What kind of AIDS policies are regulating the life of the church and their institutions? Do we advocate the acceptation of people living with the virus only for the area outside the church? Tough questions, but we owe it the greater love of God to check our own balances on those questions and see whether they add up.

The ethical question of ceasing treatment if somebody does not adhere at all – also a tricky question. I mentioned the criminal law as a tool of prevention, which I find absolutely unreasonable in the way it is administered in most countries, specially also here in Africa.

Those are some of the questions in my mind, where I would like to contribute towards a solution which ends the madness of stigmatization and discrimination, which forces governments and churches to act reasonable and always upholding the dignity and human rights of every person.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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