Episcopalians in Uganda Focus on AIDS

The Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) held a national gathering where church institutions held discussions and shared experiences about the fight against AIDS.

The two day event, which ended on March 4, was a preparatory conference for the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AECEA), which will bring together 150 bishops from 8 countries. The Wednesday and Thursday event gathered pastoral coordinators, health workers, Members of Parliament, health ministry officials and the public.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Uganda, His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre was the chief guest of the Pre-AMECEA conference.

In his role of ambassador, Archbishop Pierre said that a high political commitment and forthright acknowledgment of the seriousness of the AIDS epidemic and its victims would be the only lasting solution to fighting the battle against the disease in Uganda.

In a report from the UEC to the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA), it mentions that the Archbishop reminded audience that in 1993, the Pope had encouraged the Bishops of Uganda in their efforts for healthcare, education, development, and particularly HIV/AIDS.

However, the Apostolic Nuncio said that many had misunderstood the Church's position on total abstinence in regards to matters of reproductive health.

"At times, this is not fully understood, quite often criticized ... but it would be a big injustice to accuse the Church" superficially, he said. "... The Church chooses the way of the humble and silent service to the people, and may restrain from making public pronouncements so often void of effective commitment," he added.

A U.N. agency recently predicted that infections of AIDS could kill 80 million Africans by 2025. Currently there are 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa.

The AMECEA will meet from June 3-11 to discuss HIV/AIDS in the territory.