Harare Zimbabwe


The Editorial

Greetings to all of you our readers. Welcome to the long-awaited fourth edition of the Dare: Holy Trinity College Theological Journal. After a year’s absence, the Dare has finally made a comeback. Thank you for your patience. As elders would do while sitting around a fire, we once again and in our own right, meet around the academic fires, to warm our minds with and theologize on current and pertinent issues. In this edition we focus on an issue that risks being easily laid to rest and ignored in academic circles; HIV/AIDS. Due to over-familiarity with the issue - an inevitable familiarity borne out of an environment saturated with messages about HIV/AIDS in all forms of media, theologians and academicians are easily tempted to label the topic ‘insipid’. On the contrary, the staff and students of Holy Trinity College still find HIV/AIDS a topical issue that provides fodder for theological reflection, thanks to Fr Robert Igo OSB to whom the credit for our revived interest in this subject goes. At the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year, Fr Robert, a renowned speaker and specialist on HIV/AIDS issues, led the staff and students of Holy Trinity College in an inspiring and educative three-day seminar entitled “HIV/AIDS: A Christian and Pastoral Response”. In the wake of this seminar, the editorial board of the Holy Trinity College Theological Journal (DARE) decided to promote continued theological reflections on this theme through writing. Thus, this edition entitled “HIV/AIDS: Refocusing Our Theology for a Well-founded Hope” is a fruit of that continued interest in and reflection on the subject. We are therefore greatly indebted to our contributors who have approached this topic from different perspectives.

To open the floor is the rector, Fr Mutizamhepo O.Carm who not only fills us on the recent developments in and around the college but captures well the essence of that seminar led by Fr Robert. The rector’s article is followed by a reflection on HIV/AIDS and the pastoral care of the sick by Br Pat Mullins O.Carm. As he approaches the AIDS issue from a historical perspective, Br Pat reminds us that it is not only the AIDS sufferers who need to be cared for. The carers of AIDS patients equally need that care hence the reality of the ‘infected and the affected’ that need to be taken into account.

Some time last year, the world woke up to bombardments by media claims that Pope Benedict XVI had given Catholics a go-ahead to use condoms for prevention from contracting HIV/AIDS. The Catholic populace questioned the truth of these claims which clearly contradicted the Church’s long standing moral tradition. To help us clarify these claims is Fr Thomas Nairn OFM. In his article Fr Tom examines what the Pope actually said and the reactions it attracted, before proposing that the issue will be better understood as an issue of pastoral theology than fundamentally and exclusively an issue of dogmatic or moral theology. Fr Sylvester Kansimbi CSSp comes in next with reflections on HIV/AIDS from his pastoral experiences. He argues that because of the negative effects of the pandemic, especially the stigma it creates in the AIDS patients, HIV/AIDS still remains a top priority in the mission of the Church both within and to itself as an afflicted Body of Christ and to the world at large.

In a demonstration of the adage that says ‘experience is the best teacher’ Joseph Nkata CSSp presents a reflection borne out of a concrete experience of working with HIV/AIDS patients. He concludes that it is only when one has understood the meaning and demands of the gospel designation ‘My Neighbour’ (Lk 10.29) that one can have an ‘encounter’ with the AIDS patients and begin to minister to them in a meaningful way. Around the fire, Gilbert Chongo CSSp exploits the wealth of Vatican II as he reflects on the HIV/AIDS issue in the light of Gaudium et Spes. He is of the opinion that in the spirit of Gaudium et Spes, we can be effective ministers of hope and joy to those living with AIDS. One of the challenges that theologians and the Church at large encounter in the face of HIV/AIDS is to develop a relevant theology that helps both the infected and the affected parties to find meaning in suffering. Fr Casper Mukabva CSsR not only challenges us to do so but he actually does that in his article HIV/AIDS: Finding God in the midst of human suffering. In a powerful poem The Glance, Munyaradzi Mushuku draws us into the sad, gloomy and mentally-excruciating world of an AIDS patient. Playing the advocate through poetry, Munyaradzi sets free the often suppressed voice of the sufferer and makes us feel, probably for the first time, the shoes of an AIDS patient. By letting us know how the stigma we create torments the AIDS patients, he makes us see the evil of that stigma that we often inflict these patients with. Kenneth Macharaga CSsR caps it all in a lighter moment with jokes that will help us to relax after a session of serious reflections on the pertinent and complex issues around HIV/AIDS.

Onward Murape OFM