God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

Sometimes I have to pinch myself…

Driving from Somerville in New Jersey to Washington DC for a meeting I suddenly have to pinch myself and to tell me: “Yes, it’s me driving here on US American soil to meetings in NY, NJ and DC.”. coming from a small little town in the South West of Germany I never thought that my life will turn into being a wanderer between worlds, a person trying to bridge worlds way apart. That this would bring me around the world, having the chance to meet people from all walks of life and background.
It is a blessing and looking back I wonder how it all came together. Living abroad would have been no option for me in the earlier days – living in Africa not really on my mind. Becoming next to a priest an activist was also not really on the plan for the future and still – until this day all this makes sense to me in way I don’t understand. Contradiction? Yes, maybe, well, I want to say that I have no clue where it will end and why all this has become my life, but deep inside me there is the certain conviction and feeling that all does make sense and will reveal itself at a certain point in time. And knowing all my week sides I seldom admit, I have to say that the apostle Paul is completely right in saying that God has chosen the weak for his work. And it is nice to know that he has to deal with it – not only me or anybody else in that position.

Sitting now after a 5 hour drive two blocks away from the White House I will meet representatives of a Catholic NGO who are more into life issues, but they are willing to talk and even partner with HOPE Cape Town and me for the greater good of the people concerned. It is for me great to see that labels of “conservative” and “progressive” simply not stick and don’t have a meaning when it comes to support “the next, the neighbour, the one suffering, the one having no chance because born in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Especially in these times of religion often seen as a divide it is exactly the right time to show that the opposite is not only possible but feasible and practical. So I am very excited to see what the next two days will bring to me.

And then back to the people representing already officially HOPE Cape Town in New Jersey. Again, it is wonderful to see how somebody who has headed the social services of  a county and surely he would deserve a relaxed retirement is willing to dedicate time and energy that fellow South Africans can have hope and a future. It is indeed a long way to connect the dots, the people and the cause, but it is worth every mile along the way. HOPE Cape Town and the USA – a new chapter of fundraising is beginning to emerge and it will add more goodwill and good people to those already working hard to support HOPE Cape Town. It is great to know that HOPE Cape Town is more than the 36 employees, but a network of fine people around the world.


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

A real Easter for the church?

Watching closely the first days of the new pope and the reaction of the church officials it is amazing or shocking to see how quick people change the tune and the approach to their ministry. Performing last week still like electors in the medieval time they now preach about poverty and a new direction in the church. Not that I am not in favor of this direction; I have been my whole life advocating that the church must be there where the reality of life meets our faith. What astonishes me is how fast people can turn around and run in the opposite direction. “Faehnlein im Wind” (Going with the wind all times) ?  – or is there really a deep sense emerging that the church served itself the most in the last years and that next to the gospel and sometimes even above came the career and pomp and glory for those in positions. The power of the powerless were marginalized and often forgotten. Whoever went to Rome to attend an audience: it was the triumphed church, almost like a medieval theater performance and instead of embrace one saw mostly the raised finger to exhort the faithful – a teaching church spelling out the “do and do not” Maybe all this shows that the church also suffers a from the danger of relativism and that centralism can distract from the core  message of the gospel: Looking always to Rome means no time no time to look for those next to oneself in the local church.

It seems that the Catholic world breath a sight of relief after this election of Pope Francis and that somehow change is in the air – and I am well aware that the theology of Pope Frances is also sound conservative, but does it really matter when we are dealing with a world where the poor  and marginalized are the those to whom the gospel should bring liberty, justice and a new sense of life.  “The numbers of people living below the poverty datum line are staggering. 3 billion people live on less than US$2 per day. 1.4 billion People live on less than US$1.25/day – and such people in economic terms have become a definition of those who live under the conditions of “extreme global poverty.” An estimated 30,000 children die each day due to poverty  – that is 18 children a minute; a child every 3 seconds.  2.6 billion people around the world do not have access to adequate sanitation and about 885 million people do not have access to clean water. Every day, 4, 100 children die from severe diarrhea – as a result of poor sanitation and hygiene. Approximately 600 million children live in extreme poverty. Nearly 11,700 people die every day from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Nearly two-thirds of these people are living in sub-Saharan Africa.” ( from an email of the Jesuit Institute perspectives on the Jesuit Pope – 28th March 2013 ).

Maybe it is time to forget the words progressive and conservative and all the intern church battles – and focus together, each of us in his or her own way of that what counts: to bring the unconditional love of God to every corner of this world – in our life and presence. Maybe it happened really a change of heart in all those now switching from a church which ruled to a church which serves the people. Maybe it is like in the times of the good Pope Johan XXIII: the windows of the church are suddenly open and the wind of the Holy Spirit can blow like the Southeastern in Cape Town everything away which had the danger to darken the face of the church for the last years. Whatever it may be: it is certainly a time to enjoy as a Catholic and to feel the energy when 1.2 billion sense and experience together a time of spiritual and factual renewal. And that this is all happening during lent, the Holy Week and Easter makes it even more powerful.


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

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