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Blessed Anuarite Nengapeta is a young Sister of the Holy
Family d’Isiro-Wamba and a midwife who was murdered
resisting the sexual demands of a rebel leader in the Congo
in 1964. St. Aloysius Gonzaga is a young Jesuit who
selflessly gave his life caring for victims of the deadly
plague in Rome in 1591. We entrust the African Jesuit AIDS
Network to their prayer and protection.


UNIVERSITY CHAPLAINS MOBILISE

Jesuit chaplains at institutions of higher education in
Africa came together for the first time in Debre Zeit,
Ethiopia, from May 6 to 12 for a reflection on their common
mission. Organised by the chaplain of the International
Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) in Africa, Étienne
Triaille SJ, the meeting brought together Jesuit chaplains
from fourteen African countries (out of a total 25 working
in 18 countries). Their objective was to exchange about the
mission of the Society of Jesus in educational contexts and
to offer each other mutual support in their various
activities. The participants, in the light of the 34th
General Congregation, recognized that a Jesuit university
chaplaincy “must be outstanding in its human, social,
spiritual and moral formation, as well as for its pastoral
attention to its students and to the different groups of
people who work in it or are related to it” (Decree 17, n.
11). Working as chaplains in that spirit, Jesuits try to
offer spiritual, intellectual and human support to the
students as well as to the academic and administrative staff
members.

In the university milieu, catechetical formation and
overcoming ethnic divisions, poverty and corruption
represent big challenges and call for a more informed
involvement of the Society. But the reality of AIDS, which
affects the youth most acutely, presents the major
challenge. A university chaplaincy is an ideal place for
undertaking pastoral action to raise awareness, offer care,
and struggle against stigma and discrimination. The basic
question is: what responses can Jesuits offer to people who
are infected or affected in a university setting?

Counselling, organising young people to show solidarity and
carry out more effective action, setting up structures of
support, are some of the different actions launched until
now. Their impact is measured by what behaviour and
information the students acquire. But an adequate response
to the material needs of infected and affected students has
yet to be found. Having shared some very moving experiences,
the chaplains saw the need to face this challenge of AIDS by
putting their action and information more in common. They
agreed to work in concert via information-sharing and, where
there has been hesitation, to initiate action. The
participants also felt the need to raise awareness among
members of their student communities; once introduced to the
issue and having become more open, these young people can in
turn become effective themselves in the struggle against
AIDS. In their respective universities, the chaplains will
support the IMCS-Africa campaign to encourage students to
take voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) in order to
know their personal HIV status.

Contact: Étienne Triaille SJ triailleet@yahoo.fr


LISTENING IN SENEGAL

Fr André Gagnon has been pastor of St Peter Claver parish in
Tambacounda, Senegal, since 2001. Amongst many different
parish activities, he is also confronted by the reality of
HIV and AIDS. With the young parishioners he is undertaking
a modest but significant programme of awareness raising and
offering spiritual accompaniment for those infected. “As
parish priest at St Peter Claver,” he said, “I am
principally in contact with the youth who are raising
question about HIV or with people who already have AIDS and
are getting ready for death.” A pastoral effort of HIV
prevention takes place twice a year. Awareness-raising is
done with audiocassettes, films and skits that stimulate
very lively debates. The young people then become agents of
awareness themselves, doing peer-to-peer ministry among
other youth in very different life situations.

Accompaniment of those infected aims essentially at helping
them and their families to face their situation squarely.
“In three years,” ventured the Jesuit pastor, “I have
accompanied ten people until their death, as well as their
families.” But after death is when most of the work is
needed and represents the greatest difficulties, especially
for the orphans. They are not always well-received by the
rest of the family, out of fear of the disease.

To carry out this specific ministry well, Fr Gagnon enrolled
in ongoing formation in Dakar, participating in several
sessions on AIDS and religious life last year. The big
difficulty is that the disease is still taboo and requires a
more vigorous effort of raising awareness and sharing
information.

Contact: André Gagnon SJ gagnonsj@yahoo.fr


RESEARCH VISITORS

In addition to medical, pastoral and social work on HIV and
AIDS, there is also need for research and reflection. This
is what young Jesuits are coming to AJAN House in Nairobi
from May until August to do. Emmanuel Bueya SJ from D.R.
Congo is graduating from Hekima College and preparing for
diaconate ministry at the parish of Christ the King in
Bukavu, eastern DRC. Considering the socio-political impact
of HIV/AIDS upon a war-torn city, Emmanuel was looking at
different pastoral approaches that might be used, especially
with young people, and focused on sexuality and
discrimination. John Stys SJ, a second-year philosophy
student from the New England Province in the USA, is doing a
thesis on the ethics of AIDS health care. At AJAN his
research is into the accessibility of anti-retroviral drugs
and other medications that could be useful in Africa.
Paterne Mombe SJ from the Central African Republic was an
AJAN Intern last year (see AJANews 8 and 9, August and
September 2003); he did research into the medical and
nutritional treatment of HIV/AIDS. Now he is readying this
work for publication. His manual for managing HIV and AIDS
in Africa is called “Rays of Hope” and is being published by
Paulines Publications — more details to come in the July
AJANews.


ETHICS IN TIMES OF AIDS

“Human dignity must be recognized and protected in the
person infected by HIV/AIDS.”

The project “Parlons-SIDA” (“Let’s talk about AIDS”) at
Christ the King parish in Kisangani, eastern DR Congo,
organised a series of information and awareness raising. On
29 May 2004 a conference on ethics and AIDS was presented by
Rigobert Kyungu SJ, curate at the parish, and is summarised
here:

To speak about ethics in the struggle against AIDS, is to
make a plea for moral behaviour while addressing every
person — whether physical, juridical or moral — and every
conscience, so that the ethical component in this struggle
never be forgotten. The role of ethics in our society is to
guarantee correct moral behaviour on the part of members of
this same society. Some moral principles are universally
recognized and deserve to be observed in the work against
AIDS, particularly in a context of conflict like Kisangani.
Respect: The Universal Declaration of Humans Rights
constitutes one source of ethical reflection for our time.
This declaration recognizes that every person has the right
to respect. It is a question of respecting the dignity of
man. The struggle against AIDS must keep this principle
sacred. Thus the AIDS patient is not less human because
victim of this plague. He keeps all his human prerogatives,
just like everyone else. If malaria does not reduce the
dignity of someone who has it, the same should hold true for
someone who suffers from AIDS.

Truth: Suffering, misery and other consequences of the war
in eastern DR Congo are used as an alibi for untruth or
lying. Should moral conscience let itself be corrupted on
this point? Do our obligations and other promises have to
change because we are threatened with suffering and misery?
Is there not a way of living in coherence and in truth, no
matter what the situation? Indeed, in the name of the
struggle against AIDS, many organizations are set up, but
for other purposes.

Charity: Every ethical action must aim at charity, that is,
good action for the benefit of an other. That is called
philanthropy or, in religion, charity. One should focus on
the beneficiary of our action, when we commit ourselves to
struggle against AIDS. Nowadays they say that AIDS does not
only involve death, it also generates money. Does one have
to go after money at the cost of the voiceless and the
innocent? To do the work of charity is to recognise the
intrinsic value of the other, whoever he is. Charity
requires forgetting oneself, sacrifice and abnegation.
Commitment: By commitment I mean the will to work. Many
people waiver around here. Everyone is looking for an easy
life. This leads to a culture of begging; our hands are
always reaching for a handout. What we need is a determined
and lasting commitment.

Conclusion: Many other ethical principles such as love,
justice, equality and the preferential option for the poor
could be developed in order to understand better the
importance of the ethical component for our society in these
times of AIDS. It is up to each one to apply these
principles according to the kind of work that he is doing
and according to his specific field of interest or research.
But moral behaviour can never make light of an other,
whoever he is. Today a patient’s face says to me: “Never
forget that you are a moral being; never forget your
conscience; never forget me.”

78ENG
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