God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

18.10.2009 Rome ….

Flying to Rome always sounds like a great trip, and indeed the city is amazing. History, past and present times are melting together in a way which triggers interest in the past history of human mankind. I surely could live in Rome for a while.

But only 16 hours will bring me to Rome, one meeting with the papal council of the health care workers – a council dealing also with HIV and AIDS. We, Joachim Franz and I will meet with the secretary, Bishop Jose and continue our discussion from last November. It is for me vital to introduce during the talk also our project dealing with HIV positive clergy – and it will be very interesting for me to see how they see the subject. Ideal would be to join forces on this tricky issue, but I am not sure they are really wanting to put such a topic on any official agenda. So I will see… but I hope for support and understanding,especially in the African context, but also internationally. There is no reason to put the head into the sand and to ignore an obvious problem within the church.

Bishop Jose, secretary of the papal council and Fr Stefan

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

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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