Maro 09 2001, category: Misc, by: Yaelle

February 1994
National Catholic Reporter, Posted March 9, 2001

Strictly Confidential


I have prepared this report after much profound reflection and with a deep sense of urgency since the subjects involved touch the very core of the Church’s mission and ministry. In the course of my religious life over the past 40 years and of my pastoral and professional experience as a medical missionary I have been called upon to offer both an individual response and to coordinate community based responses to many human tragedies. From the perspective of such past experiences I feel compelled to call attention to and appeal for a response to the tragic situations which I am attempting to present below.

General Background

The past six years have provided me with the opportunity of visiting many countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. These visits were undertaken as part of my role as AIDS Coordinator for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) which serves as lead agency for HIV/AIDS programmes within the Confederation of Caritas Internationalis (CI). The purpose of my work was to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among Church personnel, especially those involved in the socio-pastoral field. My activities included the facilitation of seminars and workshops on HIV/AIDS; offering consultation on development and planning of Church-sponsored HIV/AIDS services; seeking resources within the Caritas network to support such programs in the developing world.

The majority of these visits and activities have been undertaken together with Father Robert J. Vitillo, Director of Programmes at Caritas Internationalis, who shares the concerns set out in this report.

At the 1987 Caritas Internationalis General Assembly, HIV/AIDS was identified as a priority theme for reflection and action among member organisations of the Confederation. From that time the CI Secretary General, Mr. Gerhard Meier, asked CAFOD, the Caritas national member organization for England and Wales, to assume responsibility for the coordination of Caritas’ AIDS-related activities. This same Secretary General also appointed an expert Working Group on HIV/AIDS with representation from every region of the world. Caritas Internationalis has sponsored educational and awareness-raising seminars at regional, national and local levels for Church leaders and other health and social service professionals. Within the Caritas network several million U.S. dollars are raised each year to support HIV/AIDS services programs in Africa, Latin America, Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East and Asia and Oceania. The projects include expansion of medical and social service facilities for people with AIDS; supply of food, transportation for mobile home care teams; residences for homeless persons with AIDS; development-oriented orphan care programs. Caritas has been especially effective in promoting North/South and South/South experience exchange and networking among AIDS service providers.

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