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Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Priest challenges African bishops over HIV/Aids
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 A priest working for Caritas Internationalis, has criticised Catholic bishops in Africa for their failure to implement contents of the many documents they have published on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in recent years. In his presentation on the response of the Catholic Church in Africa to the pandemic of HIV/AIDS: Teaching, service and pastoral care, Father Robert Vitillo, special advisor on HIV/AIDS told a church-run conference in Nairobi: "In the last twenty years, the Catholic Church in Africa has published 80 statements/communiqués on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, yet the contents of the documents are yet to reach the faithful at the parish levels." "A big challenge lies ahead of the Catholic church in Africa as to how best to have this information implemented and disseminated down to the parish levels," stressed Fr Vitillo. Each national Episcopal conference on the African continent should be obliged to ensure that this information reached the most needy faithful at the lowest administrational levels of the Church, he pointed out. The priest said felt strongly that the church has somehow not managed to pastorally take care of the many victims of this dreadful disease. The conference, on the theme: Implementation of SECAM's ­Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar-HIV/AIDS Action Plan: Exchange of Pastoral Experiences on Fighting HIV/AIDS and Way Forward, was organized by SECAM, at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa from June 22-24. Fr Vitillo pointed out that there is still much hesitation in the Church to offer pastoral care to those living and dying with HIV/AIDS. He recommended that Church representatives need to speak openly about HIV/AIDS from the pulpit and in other preaching. The priest also said he felt strongly that church leaders need to develop prayer, liturgies, anointing services, memorial services, rituals and symbols that are meaningful. One of the major deliberations at the conference was on SECAM's document-Action Plan, adopted by the SECAM bishops at their assembly, held at Dakar, Senegal in November 2003. The delegates are expected to come out with recommendations as how best the SECAM should go about in implementing the contents of the document-Action Plan.
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