Catholic Aids support group becomes charity

Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support (CAPS), a network of Catholics throughout Britain and Ireland, was registered as a charitable trust on 3 February 2003 by the UK's Charity Commission.

The Charity Commission is a government body responsible for the approval and monitoring of charitable, not-for-profit activities in Britain. CAPS Trustees have appointed Roy Parr as their first Chairperson, Anne Gayer as Treasurer. Other Trustees include Robert Loftus, Father Bernard Lynch SMA, and Stephen Portlock SJ. The CAPS Board has also appointed Martin Pendergast as Executive Secretary.

The new charity has supporters in all parts of Britain and Ireland. It aims to be a voice with and for people living with HIV/AIDS in the Church, and a Catholic voice in the HIV/AIDS world. It will produce information literature on a range of issues of concern to Catholics faced with the challenges of HIV, occasional newsletters, and other relevant publications.

CAPS will seek partnership with other faith and community based HIV agencies in holding seminars, developing joint activities and projects. CAPS also provides general HIV awareness sessions, as well as specific training, for other Catholic organisations, religious communities, parishes and schools. It will develop particular pastoral and sacramental support for Catholics living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. This already happens with a now regular Mass for World AIDS Day in Central London. Names recorded in the Catholic AIDS Memorial Book are remembered in prayers at a monthly Mass in London's, Soho.

CAPS is also planning a Mass of Anointing for the early Summer. CAPS Chair, Roy Parr, said: "We are delighted to have finally gained charitable status. This marks a new opportunity for Catholics to engage with all people of good will in the fight against HIV and AIDS. If we act as if HIV has gone away, then it never will. Our newspapers show us, every day, that this global catastrophe is marching onwards and upwards. If it has the will, the Catholic Church can be a major player not only in care and support, but in promoting life rather than death, through prevention."

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