June 2011 -- “We pause to mark the thirty years we have been fighting HIV/AIDS.” said President Barack Obama. “As we remember people in our own lives we have lost and stand by those living with HIV/AIDS, we must also rededicate ourselves to finally ending this pandemic – in this country and around the world.”
People living with HIV and AIDS
Maryknoll missioners have worked in ministries focused on persons living with HIV and AIDS since the early 1980s, before the extent of the pandemic would be known, long before the loss of millions of lives from AIDS. In the ensuing years, Maryknollers have accompanied people dying of AIDS, worked with children orphaned by AIDS, supported women and girl children who are at risk of violence or sexual abuse, and witnessed the direct impact of debt, trade issues and poverty on societies being decimated by AIDS.
World AIDS Day is December 1 -- Join the 24-hour vigil to pray for those living with HIV and AIDS and for those whose lives were cut short due to HIV or AIDS. Add your name here; the vigil will begin at 12 AM Eastern Standard Time (U.S.) on December 1.
Listen to Maryknoll Fr. Rick Bauer, who has worked in AIDS ministry for many years, on Vatican Radio: Click here for the link.
“AIDS has by far many more profound repercussions of a moral, social, economic, juridical and structural nature, not only on individual families and in neighborhood communities, but also on nations and on the entire community of peoples.” Pope John Paul II to a Vatican AIDS conference, 1989
Catholic social teaching makes reference to “the equal dignity of each human person in one human family; the call to equity in sharing resources; the call to overcome exclusions, discrimination...; the priority of the poor and vulnerable in a call to solidarity...”. In a world of HIV and AIDS, our serious response to Catholic social teachings is shaped by the following realities:
- In some countries, HIV and AIDS has caused life expectancy to drop by more than 25 years.
- Families of HIV and AIDS victims are often left in abject poverty, discriminated against, unable to find work or shelter.
- In many countries, lack of access to essential drugs and life-prolonging medicines (available in wealthy nations) means that one’s children will be orphans, and often means that grandparents will raise grandchildren.
- The financial drain of HIV and AIDS leads to debt burdens that negatively affect a country’s ability to feed and educate its people.
- Cultural practices combined with HIV and AIDS lead to increased violence against women and girl children.
The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns invites you to participate in the education and advocacy efforts on HIV and AIDS, in particular promoting:
- 100 percent cancellation of impoverished countries’ debt without conditions
- Annulment of illegitimate debt
- An increase in appropriations for global health programming, specifically HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria
- An increase and consistent commitment to funding the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- The promise that the U.S. will commit to promote trade agreements that prioritize a country’s right to protect public health and provide access to essential medicines and AIDS drugs (known as the Doha Agreement)
Maryknoll Sister Veronica Schweyen describes how God has chosen each of us and we can put our trust in God.
The following reflection was prepared by Susan Gunn, and can be found in A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Readings for Year B, available from Orbis Books.
The following reflection was prepared by Deacon Matt Dulka, who works for the Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers Mission Education and Promotions department. It was originally published in A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the readings for Year B.
Along with her family, Joanne Miya serves with the Maryknoll in Tanzania. Her reflection, published here, is also found in A Maryknoll Liturgical Year: Reflections on the Readings for Year B, available from Orbis Books.
The following reflection on the readings for World AIDS Day, December 1, was prepared by Susan Weissert, a former lay missioner who coordinated the Maryknoll AIDS Task Force.
After working as a nurse in the Philippines for many years, Sr. Mary Grenough now lives and works in Myanmar.
Sr. Roni Schweyen writes this week's reflection, drawing on her years of mission work in Tanzania.