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Southern Africa: New Book about Catholic responses to AIDS

A new book has been published about the way the Catholic Church has dealt with AIDS over the past 30 years. Catholic Responses to AIDS in Southern Africa is the fruit of collaboration between the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) AIDS Office and St Joseph’s Theological Institute in South Africa. The book was launched recently during the plenary session of the bishops of the SACBC in Manzini, Swaziland, and in several centres in South Africa.

The book looks at the work of the Church over the past 30 years, outlining programs to address home-based care of the sick and the dying, antiretroviral treatment that helped turn the tide, prevention and the care of orphans and vulnerable children.

Cardinal Wilfred Napier’s paper takes a critical look at the response of an urban diocese to the pandemic, Bishop Kevin Dowling’s details that of a rural diocese. Fr Michael Czerny SJ, the founding director of AJAN, examines the Church’s global handling of the pandemic. And Fr Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ writes about the African response to AIDS: about AJAN, about African theologians and about the region’s concerns.

Different papers examine the theology of sin in the context of AIDS; the tricky question for the Catholic Church regarding the use of condoms; the issue of whether or not there should be HIV testing for candidates to seminaries and religious life; how a particular theological institute has addressed the issue of AIDS; AIDS as a theme in spiritual direction; and AIDS and interreligious dialogue. The book brings together the work of AIDS activists and theologians, and makes details of the Church’s response available to a wider public.

The papers were originally presented at a theological conference held at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in January 2013.

The book costs 100 rand, plus postage and packing, from the SACBC AIDS Office. Please contact Sr Alison Munro at amunro@sacbc.org.za. Available also at the Paulines bookshops in Johannesburg and Durban, the Catholic Bookshop in Cape Town and from Mariannhill Mission Press.

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