Our Minister General, Michael Perry OFM, has written this message to mark World AIDS Day which takes place 1 December each year.
Rome – December 1, 2016
My dear brothers of the Order, members of the Franciscan movement, and friends of Franciscans,
May the Lord give you peace!
In celebrating the day world of the HIV-AIDS on December 1, we commemorate so many countless men and women that have died because of this disease and we renew our commitment to put end to new HIV infections. According to the “2015 AIDS figures”, prepared by UNAIDS, the world has stopped and reversed the spread of HIV. It has achieved a reduction of the epidemic. New HIV infections and deaths related with AIDS have decreased ostensibly from the maximum point of the epidemic. Now we want to take matters a step further: let’s put end to the epidemic by 2030.
The reduction of the epidemic is a sign that feeds and increases our hope. The Franciscan brothers and sisters are called to continue working and promoting efforts that lead us to the desired goal of ending HIV infections, particularly in the children of our time. To contribute to this cause, that unites men and women of good will, we can begin by informing ourselves, then by promoting prevention, understanding, inclusion and empathy with those who suffer from this disease.
In the diverse presences of the order there are communities that for over 20 years have been working faithfully and devoutly in this field; I am grateful for their sensitivity and the commitment.
Also, I want to continue encouraging the whole Order to together offer our commitment of prayer for all those who live with HIV-AIDS or are affected by it. Let us pray together in our friaries, our pastoral communities and with the whole Franciscan family. I also want to encourage to the brothers to continue offering our services to all the infirm through health centers and pastoral service, and to transform our friaries, parishes and study centers into places of human and spiritual welcome. Our commitment must be oriented towards giving hope and to overcoming the stigma and the exclusion that in many occasions is a result of the ignorance facing this disease.
We are pleased, because this year the Welcome Center of Santa Clara in Thailand has been registered and recognized by the Government under the Foundation “Pax et Bonum”. Remember that this Center was born the year 1993 as a Franciscan response to embrace the terminally ill and dying victims of the AIDS. Those patients are men and women ranging in age between 25 and 60 years of age. The Center of Santa Clara, offers them care in a clean and decent environment. Equally, we must support planning efforts for the fight against the HIV-AIDS led to out by the international community that seeks to develop new strategies of commitment, especially for advances in the prevention and treatment in children; we must seek the welfare of future generations, not only in the field of biomedical services, but also with spiritual, social and emotional support.
We are challenged to unite our voice and commitment to religious communities and organizations related to the care of the life of children living with HIV-AIDS, their parents and their families. We join them to counteract the fear and the trends towards stigma and discrimination. We join with them in promoting a sex education that helps the prevention of the transmission of the disease in conformity with the doctrine of the Catholic Church and our Franciscan values.
PRAYER FOR THE SICK WITH HIV-AIDS
O God, our father, hear our prayer for those who are afflicted with AIDS, for those who are in danger of death. Grant them the consolation of your presence; let them see your face and find strength in you who are the source of life.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer for those who just learn that they are infected with the HIV virus but are not yet sick. Remind them that they still have a life before them. Help them find in you the life, the truth and the way.
Spirit Holy of God, listen to our prayers for those who care for people with AIDS. Give them the certainty of the presence of the Father and the love of Jesus. Grant them your comfort and give them your peace.
Father, we ask that everyone listen to your call in these circumstances, a call for repentance, a call for caring for others. Help us so can nurture a responsible way of life, not thinking only in ourselves, but also in those who are around us. With pray for scientists and the medical doctors help them find a remedy for AIDS. Guide us so can give your consolation to those who have need of assistance. Fill our hearts with compassion for those sick of HIV-AIDS so they may have the certainty that the Church will care for them. Guide us so that we know how to help those who are in need. We ask all of this confident that your mercy for us is immense.
God of mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.