ACCRA DECEMBER 4, 2015 (CISA) – The Bishops of Africa have issued a pastoral letter ahead of the Jubilee of Mercy, calling for people to “exercise charity and mercy as they seek to help persons to “recover and restore relationships strained by the presence of HIV and AIDS in our communities.”
“One of the tenets of our faith as Christians, is the fundamental belief that life is sacred from conception to death. Life remains sacred in all its forms and conditions of our existence, including illness. In fact, it is when, due to the fragility of the mortal nature of life, we have the sick among us that we are called upon to offer the greatest solidarity in defense of the sacredness of life,” said the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) on World AIDS Day (1 December), in a statement sent to CISA.
“In this African Year of Reconciliation, we pray for healing among families and local communities who may have experiences strains in relationships as a consequence of the presence of HIV and AIDS among,” they added.
The Bishops noted that the family as a whole not only the individual members, is affected by HIV and AIDS in profound and tragic ways, thus putting pressure on the fundamental characteristic of the African family system.
“Family is the strong emotional ties that bind members together and promote sharing and mutual dependence. ln addition, stigmatization has led many families to hide the truth about the illness or cause of death of family members with HIV and AIDS. lt also leads to serious feelings of being neglected, both in the home and community, thus becoming another root cause responsible for the spread of HlV,” they said.
The bishops call upon all faith communities to exercise charity and mercy as they seek to help persons to recover and restore relationships strained by the presence of HIV and AIDS in communities.
“In view of the Papal declaration of the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy, we wish to intensify the promotion of compassion in our responses to the challenges of HIV and AIDS in local parishes and Catholic-inspired organizations,” they said.