Author Avatar



Share post:

Editor’s Note:
The first AJAN Assembly took place in Nairobi on the
weekend of 26-28 September. The participants were: Fr. Provincial
Fratern Masawe SJ (East Africa), Mário Almeida SJ (Mozambique), Gerard
Andriantiana SJ (Madagascar), Florentino Badial SJ (Burundi), Papy
Clement (Zimbabwe), Augustine Enabulele SJ (Nigeria), Jean-Baptiste
Ganza SJ (Rwanda), Ludwig Van Heucke SJ (Kenya), David Hollenbach SJ
(USA), François Kanyamanza SJ (D.R.Congo), Michael J Kelly SJ (Zambia),
Serge Lorougnon SJ (Côte d’Ivoire), Douglas Manyere SJ (Zimbabwe),
Paterne Mombe SJ (C.African Rep.), Andrew Mtamira SJ (Zambia), Edoth
Mukasa SJ (D.R.Congo), Séverin Mukoko SJ (D.R.Congo), Francis G Munyoro
SJ (Zimbabwe, Kisito Nantoïallah SJ (Chad), Peter Norden SJ (Australia),
Ted Rogers SJ (Zimbabwe), Laurent Soukou Koffi SJ (Benin), Octave
Ugirashebuja SJ (Rwanda) and Gerry Whelan SJ (Kenya); and AJAN staff:
Michael Czerny SJ, Sr. Marie-Noëlle Munengela, ODN, and Elphège Quenum
SJ. As a summary of its work, the Assembly sent the following Letter and
Recommendations to the Major Superiors
and Jesuits of the African Assistancy.


Dear Brothers in Christ,

At the conclusion of the 13th International Conference
on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) and of the
first African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) Assembly, both held here in
Nairobi towards the end of September [2003], we want to share with you
the needs and aspirations, griefs and anxieties that people across
Africa are experiencing in this world with AIDS.

Following the example of St. Ignatius, our prayer and
our efforts begin by considering the place, and here it is to see
alarming and ever-growing numbers of men, women and children — the
heart of our communities and the hope of the future — infected with HIV
and AIDS and succumbing daily to death in the 27 countries in Africa
where there are Jesuits. During our days together the Lord has graced us
with a deep-felt grasp of this terrible situation with its suffering,
its complexity, its daunting proportions and — mirroring the paradox of
the Cross and Resurrection — its signs of life and hope.

The AIDS pandemic is a complex crisis entailing enormous
suffering, daunting challenges and also, paradoxically, grace-filled
opportunities. Specifically for us Jesuits, it calls on us to discern in
a new way how we can carry out our mission — the service of faith and
the promotion of justice in dialogue with cultures and religion (GC 32
and 34) — in a newly faithful, radical and creative way.

The tragedy that we confront is immense. Responding to
it calls for vast resources and efforts. Provinces, regions and
individual Jesuits have made very generous commitments. In ever growing
sensitivity to the urging of the Spirit, we are becoming more deeply
aware of the challenge that responding to HIV/AIDS poses for every
African Jesuit. We recognise with joy that so many of our Jesuit
brothers have been missioned to accompany our people through this
terrible crisis.

But the response is still far from adequate. We cannot
yet affirm that we have fully engaged with this central priority of our
times, or that responding to HIV/AIDS imbues all of our ministries as
the incarnation — in today’s circumstances of the disease — of our
preferential option for the poor.

In a similar time of crisis, St. Ignatius responded by
taking care of the lepers and the prostitutes in Rome. In this critical
moment of our history, we too are called to act. Dear Brothers in the
Lord, tearfully and urgently, we humbly suggest that this is our moment
of kairos, this is the moment for decision. Let us allow the Spirit to
act in us.

In this moment, then, our response to the devastating
HIV/AIDS epidemic should take concrete form in our parishes, schools,
apostolic works, and formation programmes, by attention to the many
dimensions of prevention, care for the infected and affected, responding
to orphan needs, and engaging in the typically Jesuit response of
rigorous theological and sociological reflection on the disease and its
impacts. True to our Jesuit charism, we should seek in this area to
build men and women for others who will take up leadership in HIV/AIDS
ministries in the Church and throughout society. Above all, we should
place ourselves wholly at the disposal of the Church, our dioceses, and
our Bishops, supporting and stimulating our fellow priests and religious
and galvanising a total response by the people of God to combat the
enemy that is in our midst.

With a view to accomplishing these tasks, and those that
are enumerated in the AJAN recommendations that accompany this letter,
we call on every one of our Brothers throughout Africa and Madagascar to
ask themselves what they have done for Christ in the persons of those
with HIV and AIDS, what they are now doing, and what they would wish to
do for Christ present and challenging us in this situation.

Specifically, we call on all our Jesuit Brothers to
integrate the struggle against the AIDS pandemic into all of their
apostolates and to imbue every one of their ministries with this
preferential option for responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

We also call on the Provincials and Regional Superiors
of Africa and Madagascar to mission at least one or two companions in
each Province or Region to take up this very urgent ministry full-time
and to ensure that they are provided with the resources needed for the
accomplishment of their tasks.

The time is grave. The situation is alarming. Each
moment lost means greater inroads by the virus. Let us arise, then, and
with the help of God let us bend all our Jesuit resources to putting an
end to this terrible epidemic of HIV and AIDS.


I. Priorities for the Society

  1. Our HIV/AIDS ministries should be at the service,
    directly or indirectly, of the Church, our dioceses, and the
    Bishops, through cooperation, support and formation for our fellow
    apostolic workers (priests, religious and lay collaborators).

  2. The Society should help form Christian men and women
    to take up the leadership of HIV/AIDS ministries in their respective
    communities. Such formation would include the HIV/AIDS field itself,
    the theology and spirituality of the epidemic, managing human and
    material resources (staff, volunteers, finances), communications,
    and advocacy.

  3. The Society should place special focus on:

    • Programmes for youth, and

    • Programmes for orphans and vulnerable children.

  4. The Society should vigorously promote competent
    theological, spiritual and sociological reflection on HIV/AIDS,
    including its economic and cultural aspects (further details appear

  5. The Society should commit itself to fighting
    strenuously against stigma and discrimination and to ensuring the
    protection of the human rights of those infected or affected by the

  6. The Society in Africa should do everything it can to
    ensure access to anti-retroviral treatment on the part of every
    person in need of such treatment.

  7. The Society should mainstream HIV/AIDS in houses and
    works of formation and work out strategies for promoting the
    interest of young Jesuits and involving them in HIV/AIDS apostolates.

  8. The Society should work out an HIV/AIDS policy
    regarding its own members, Jesuit works and Jesuit employees,
    collaborators and colleagues.

  9. To promote work with those who are infected or most
    immediately affected by the disease and epidemic, and also to
    maintain its contact with the realities of the HIV/AIDS situation,
    members of the Society should engage in or be connected with
    specific HIV/AIDS and/or orphan projects (further details appear

II. Research and Reflection

  1. There is need for ethical and social analysis on
    issues that occur at the different levels within which HIV/AIDS is
    embedded. These include:

    • Access to services and resources

    • Poverty and inequality

    • Cultural values and social change

    • Gender and sexuality

    • The family

    • Human rights, security, and access to justice

    • The role and responsibility of governments

    • Relationships between developed and developing

  2. There is need to document Church and Society
    HIV/AIDS-related practices and initiatives in each country, as well
    as best practices in the fields of prevention, care and support.

  3. There is a great need and special place for
    Church-related reflection in such areas as biblical and moral
    theology, spirituality, ecclesiology, and pastoral theology.

III. HIV/AIDS and Orphans Projects

  1. There is need for extensive advocacy and for
    pressure to be placed on developed and developing countries so that
    they live up to the commitments they made in the United Nations
    General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS, 2001) and in
    Global Fund undertakings.

  2. Efforts should be made to establish strong
    partnerships with other groups and organisations tackling HIV and

  3. All our Jesuit projects and initiatives should seek
    to strengthen civil society, through participation in coalitions and

  4. Jesuit projects and initiatives should make special
    efforts to ensure the full and real participation of people living
    with HIV or AIDS (PLWHAs).

  5. We should monitor and pressure States and
    state-agents to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right of
    full access to quality healthcare to the maximum of their resources.

IV. The Jesuit Approach

  1. HIV/AIDS should become more visible as THE issue
    that cuts across every apostolate in Africa: parishes, education,
    work for refugees, justice and peace, and retreat ministry.

  2. Place more personnel in HIV/AIDS apostolates and
    allocate them sufficient financial resources.

  3. Carry out an evaluation of the Jesuit AIDS projects
    underway in Africa and find out how effective each programme is and
    where help is most needed.

  4. When considering resources, initiatives and
    volunteers from abroad, be alert to the usual asymmetry in
    relationships and strive for equality and preparedness on the part
    of the African partner.

  5. Tap into and contribute to the international body of
    experience, knowledge and best practices.

  6. Develop AJAN guidelines for the support of projects.

  7. Develop AJAN-initiated activities that respond to
    AJAN’s own understanding of its objectives and programmes and avoid
    the danger of donor-driven interventions.

Nairobi, Sunday, 28th September 2003

"Our Prayer is Always Full of Hope"
Framework for the Response of a University to HIV/AIDS

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *