A major Catholic Church sponsored conference on HIV/AIDS pandemic opened in Nairobi, Kenya today-June 22, with a call for the church in Africa to intensify her concern over the scourge. In his address, the president of SECAM-Symposium of Episcopal conferences in Africa and Madagascar, the organisers of the conference, Archbishop John Onaiyekan, who is also the head of Abuja archdiocese in Nigeria, said SECAM should do everything possible to coordinate, promote and encourage an effective organic pastoral solidarity in the church family of God in Africa. He observed that the HIV/AIDS has been much an African tragedy, stressing that "we only need to look at the global statistics".. And if that was so, advised the Nigerian Catholic primate, there must be some form of an African response, a SECAM response, from point of view the church. He explained that the objective of the Nairobi, Kenya conference, being attended by church leaders-bishops, priests, nuns and lay people and organizations involved in the HIV/AIDS work in Africa, was to obtain concrete information from the grassroots. The 60 participants will deliberate on the theme: Implementation of the SECAM's HIV/AIDS Action Plan: Exchange of Pastoral Experiences on the Fighting HIV/AIDS and Way forward, in the next three-days-June 22-24. The conference is being held at the Catholic university of Eastern Africa, situated at Langata, few kilometres from the Kenyan capital. The official opening of the three-day was witnessed by the vice- president of SECAM, Archbishop Francisco Silota from Mozambique, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, Archbishop John Njue, the head of the metropolitan archdiocese of Nairobi, His Grace Ndingi Mwana"aNzeki and the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, His Excellency Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin. Some of the major Catholic organizations attending the conference include: Misereor, Catholic relief services, secours Catholique, CAFOD and Caritas internationallis. The hoped-for outcomes of the conference are: a framework of specific actions for SECAM, to guide the implementation of the HIV/AIDS Action Plan, commitment of international partners to support SECAM in the implementation of the Action Plan and awareness, ownership, adoption and committed responsibility at all levels for the SECAM HIV/AIDS Action Plan at all levels.
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