God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Travelling in Covid-19 times

Queuing for an antigen test is an almost daily exercise

“Yes, a valid antigen test has to be provided every 48 hours”, so the receptionist when I tried to check into my next hotel. “But” he continued, my 24-hour-old test from another province does not count. And no, no room without this test – and obviously I should consider myself lucky that after an 8-hour drive there is still almost an hour to go before the testing centre in town closes its doors and I have to sleep in my car… Lucky me!

Breakfast – well officially business travellers are allowed to have buffet in the breakfast room and tourists not, but I get explained that it is easier to deny everybody the breakfast room – then they don’t have to ask who is falling under which category. Makes sense – and you can pick up your paper back at reception- whatever is in you eat…

Federalism means every province or “Bundesland” does make its own little rules – what is allowed in one city is not allowed in another city; one learns as one goes along. This applies also for the antigen testing: in one city it can only be done via throat swap, the next insists of nasal exploration – and here, where I am currently, both must be done. Not to forget that every testing station has its own system of catching data – and they don’t talk to each other – app spaces are getting tight on the cell-phone.

But besides all this I should be lucky to travel – even I have to admit that it is at times difficult to understand the reaction of my fellow Germans – frustrated by months after months of lockdown, bad weather and closed shops and restaurants. This is changing now: I can vouch that the outside restaurant facilities can be used as a new main attraction – mainly by appointment and with a fresh 24-hour antigen test – and I can tell you: sitting in the rain under a sun umbrella, water slowly congregating where you sit or creeping slowly on head or shoulders is fun – especially if you add wind and cold to it. Yes, Germany has changed….

What frightens me most is hearing about policing each other, neighbours calling the police if you have too many visitors and the divide between those, who obey religiously and those opposing the measures as “Querdenkers” or alike. It almost feels like my travel in the USA during Trump times – a deep divide with no room for the middle ground.

I honestly don’t know exactly what to make out of it – and if there are really lessons to be learned for the future. Most people talk about those lessons – but somehow I have the feeling that everybody is simply yearning for the good old times which ended in March 2020 with the first lock-downs.

Like in South Africa, also in Europe democracy took a hit and the easiness to degree new rules and control citizens is in itself worth a reflection. I guess we all realised how quick in current times liberties can be revoked; hard fought for rights can disappear overnight and how vulnerable our systems are: economically and democratically.

Suddenly, the yellow vaccine passport becomes the new ticket to freedom of movement – and as it is with the so-called “South African mutant” hysteria can cut off people indefinite or put restrictions on them which are neither reasonable nor conductive to human rights and business between countries. There is so much needing more consideration and less anxiety; there is so much which needs adherence to reason and not assumptions.

A last observation is that certainly those who have less in this world are again the losers of the pandemic – inequality remains rampant and the run of the first world towards vaccines while fending off those outside is a clear indication that human mankind continues to fall short to understand, that in some questions and challenges we are all in together as humans.

Filed under: General, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , ,

24.09.2009 Bishops worried

German Bishops are worried about the increasing numbers of people leaving formally the church, so I read in the news today. And I wonder how the bishops discuss that matter. Do they, as people usually do, search for the blame by the people leaving or do they start soul searching with themselves to find out, what is going wrong in our days. The right-wing Pius brotherhood has a simple solution: Only the way back to the good old times will prevent more people leaving the church – not sure how they really can think like that.  One must be very ignorant to the reality of today and totally living in the past with closed eyes to come to that conclusion. I am sure our bishops are different – and if they really would go out and ask the people why they are leaving the church, one answer will come up more frequently in my opinion:

That church is losing its relevance for the people of our days, that the sermons in church do not match the living circumstances in our days, the announcements of episcopal nature are not matched with how people experiencing church and the representatives of the church in their daily lives. Sunday sermons are followed by Monday blues – power games instead of servants of the faithful – people feel hurt and alienated from us clergy. Obviously we never can generalize it – but in this context the personal experience, the personal encounter is the decisive test for a single faithful. Mess it up and you have lost a soul, so to speak. And there is still the scandal of sexual abuse, the loss of moral stance through the encyclical “humanae vitae”, the dealing with the  Pius brotherhood – so many topics were my church in our days cannot gain points on the score card.

As we accompany people through the times, I guess we always have to reflect on our attitude as professional staff of the church, we always have to ask what is coming first, God’s message of love or church discipline. We might make general rules in the church, but we always have to see the individual standing before God. Not more and not less…

If we do so, maybe people still will leave the church, be it because they found other ways of finding God, may it that the path of the church community is not fast enough for the individual, may it that they even don’t need a church institution anymore because of their direct contact possibilities with God. Whatever it might be – our goal as the Catholic Church should be to serve all good people to be able to connect to God. And when we look into the field of HIV and AIDS, there is even more the need just to bring home the love of God, the unconditional love of God.  Forget about judgement, forget about exclusion – just embrace the person as he or she is – he or she deserves it because he or she is a brother or sister of me and a son or a daughter of God. Embrace the person, make him or her feel home and loved and wanted…

Filed under: Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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  • RT @DeanMacpherson: Mbeki really putting the boot into Cyril over EWC. Interesting timing of this letter surfacing. Clearly he must believe… - 4 hours ago

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