God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

25.05.2010 A long way…

This morning meeting with the Archbishop of Cape Town regarding our working group on “pastoral work for HIV positive priests and religious”.  We awaiting a letter from the SACBC on our request for support and I hope, this letter will arrive in time for the next meeting, so that we can consider it and then our way forward. Before today, bishops we have spoken to have had a very supportive attitude, telling us, that nobody could reject pastoral work for those infected within the church. One bishop even offered to be the patron for the project. The indication today was that this attitude might have changed during the discussion amongst the bishops. So we are awaiting the letter with great anticipation, specially after all the willingness of the authorities within the Vatican to tackle this problem pro-active. Ecclesia siemper reformanda – we are at a defining moment within our church seeing all the scandals in Europe and else in the world – there is always hope – as the title of this block also clearly states.
I am sure there is always a way forward.. in an email, a colleague of mine mentioned my “gnadenlose Hoffnung” – my merciless hope.. – a very interesting expression. 🙂

Otherwise a day to catch up with all the emails lying in the mail box and lots of contacts with the HOPE Cape Town office – running an organisation means lots of small nitty gritties.. from banking problems to missing keys… it is real life….

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


The ash cloud is approaching, but Frankfurt Airport promised to be a good boy and be open until midnight. That should do the trick to bring us out. This morning a talk for 150 students of the Gesamtschule Stromberg and I once again realise how far away the real world is for those kids, or better: how well protected they are not to know the realities of life in all its facets.

Then back to Frankfurt to check in the luggage and go quick to town for a last shopping. A sms telling me, that a friend of mine got a heart attack and is lying in hospital, another phone call from South Africa telling me, that a person I know from Rotary has been found dead floating in his swimming pool with 42 – and some last-minute chaos regarding the Ball of HOPE… I feel it is time to get back home.

Now sitting at the airport and trying to sort out all the emails of the last three days.. there was no time to really read and answer every of those and now it looks like work down a hug pile of emails from around the world.

So what is the result of the trip?

Many talks, new connections and the renewal of old connections with sponsors and donors of HOPE Cape Town. Quite a lot of invitation to give talks or preach – a donation from the Kolping family Muenster – Sarmsheim, a couple of new HOPE Cape Town fans and supporters – re-connecting with those who are faithful sponsors the whole years and finally a big step regarding our new project for HIV positive priests and religious.

This trip was full of wonderful experience, little sleep, some flu in between but when Fr. Wim and I will write our final report and outline future steps, I am sure that it is to the benefit of HOPE Cape Town, Justice & Peace Cape Town and the joined venture we persue. Thanks to all and everybody who made this trip worth the efforts – thanks for all cooperation in Wolfsburg, Rome, Munich and Muenster-Sarmsheim as well as Stromberg.

And of course I am always grateful that LH grants me the pleasure of flying with them.. those encounters at the counters have been a real inspiration – in the best and in the worst way possible.. alternating…  as usual. 🙂

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

11.02.2010 What a mixed day…

Sometimes one is sitting till late in the office until the mind is not able to take on more. And one feels so full and mixed up with the day that sleep will not come easy. In the morning an excellent meeting with the nuncio for South Africa and Sr. Margaret from Nazareth House. Topic was the POZ initiative caring for priests and clergy being HIV positive. And while I tried to prepare for the Sunday sermons for coming weekend and the joint councils meeting of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry tomorrow, again and again requests and problems popped up and filled every little gap between tasks I had to complete today. I would call it a crazy day.

It was also a day of realisation how different people take a situation, how different they experience realities, how difficult it can be to communicate and to make oneself understandable. how exhausting it is not to flip out confronted with the attitudes of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I am not sure how often I used the word “Ohm” today, observing my breath according to good old Buddhist teaching. 🙂

But today is also the day, Nelson Mandela walked free, it is a day to remember and to celebrate somehow.Without him, the miracle of a peaceful transformation would not have been possible; and seeing the old wise man sitting in parliament this eve, I thought how important it is to have him still around as the conscience of South Africa today. Lets hope for a long life…

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

26.01.2010 Milnerton

IT is almost midnight and I just come back from the horse race auction at the Milnerton town hall, organised by the Men’s Society of the Catholic parish Milnerton / Brooklyn. As always a big thanks to Brian Sharkey and his team and the horse-race community for all their efforts to race funds for HOPE Cape Town and also for an evening full of excitement through auctions and the bids. It feels great to have such supporters.

It was a long day, also with a meeting of the POZ team in Mannenberg, where we discussed what kind of theological substance we bring to our cause. When we want to bring the quest of HIV positive clergy to the bishops, there must be some theological thinking done beforehand. It was a very constructive meeting and I have the feeling that we are going our path slowly, but surely and that we develop in a way appropriate to the tricky topic. I am glad to have such great colleagues working with me on this.

So in total a good day, lots of new appointments and meeting requests came their way – the next two weeks are surely not boring.

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

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