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Distinguished visitors, honourable representatives and dear friends,

Even though I cannot be with you in person today, this does not diminish the warmth of
the welcome I extend to each of you as Superior of the Jesuit Province which is hosting you. So I ask Fr. Agide Galli, the superior of the Jesuit community at Lomé, to greet you in my own name and that
of the West African Province.

I am happy to welcome you, Mrs. Yamina Chakkar, Country Programme Adviser for Togo and Benin, UNAIDS, and Mr. Calle Almedal, Senior Adviser, Partnerships
Unit, UNAIDS Geneva, as you represent the world’s awareness of our tragedy in Africa and its best organised response.

I am happy to welcome you students of the IMCS-Pax Romana and your
chaplain Fr. Étienne Triaille, S.J. I am glad that you have chosen to hold your conference in Togo one of the ten countries of the West African Province. Your task is of the utmost importance. Indeed,
even though the number of HIV-infected people is staggering, the shame and stigma associated with AIDS impels many to deny its impact on their lives and to ignore the imperative to modify their
behaviour, thus undermining efforts to prevent its spread. So MIEC has rightly chosen to struggle against the social stigma and marginalisation which multiply the sufferings of those with AIDS and which
make the pandemic ever more dangerous.

I am happy to welcome the new African Jesuit AIDS Network and its co-ordinator Fr. Michael Czerny, S.J. I rejoice, as one of the ten Major
Superiors in Africa who decided last June to strengthen the effort against AIDS in setting up a common and shared work. We Provincials hope that, on the basis of what is already being done in the 25
countries where there are Jesuits, we can strengthen, develop and multiply appropriate responses to HIV/AIDS.

Most of all I am happy to welcome all three together – dear Catholic
University students who must attack the AIDS challenge head-on if Africa is to have a future ; the important international Agency UNAIDS which must co-ordinate the best efforts; and the African Jesuit
AIDS Network (AJAN) which today is publicly launched among you. This collaboration is a most hopeful sign, a pledge of our seriousness, a promise of fruitfulness. The West African Province is ready to
join you in learning about AIDS and in taking up the battle as best we can, but you see how much we count on each one’s help.

Finally, I am happy to greet you on Human Rights Day. Not
only because this occasion puts the focus on your common effort to defend and promote human dignity however it is threatened by HIV/AIDS. But also because Human rights reminds us of the Son of Man,
Jesus Christ, who took on himself all the sin of the world to redeem us, to liberate us from the fear of death so as to live fully and in service of our brothers and sisters in need.

May our Lord bless your conference, and please count on our prayers during these two weeks and in the future, too. With my earnest prayer and warm fraternal regards,

R.P. Jean-Roger
Pascal NDOMBI, S.J.


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