Katolsk nødhelpsarbeid må være katolsk – del 2

Jeg skrev for akkurat en måned siden om at Vatikanet ikke har tillatt lederen av Caritas International å kunne gjenvelges for en ny periode. Jeg har også lest at Vatikanet burde ha håndtert dette bedre; konsultert med Caritas bedre om dette problemet i forkant etc. – og det kan det sikkert være noe i. I dag leser jeg at George Weigel om spørsmålet i First Thing, og fokuserer på de ideologiske problemene i denne saken. Konfliken har oppstått, skriver han, fordi:

…. it will be because the INGO (International non-governmental organizations) world is dominated by an unbending “progressive” orthodoxy on development and health care questions that sits poorly with Catholic understandings of how people are empowered to break out of the cycle of poverty. INGO shibboleths are also in sharp conflict with Catholic understandings of the best way to fight the AIDS plague in Africa and other poverty-stricken parts of the world. There is very little public evidence that Caritas International, under Ms. Knight’s leadership, challenged the rigidities in INGO thinking that are a real-world obstacle to empowering the poor and to driving down the incidence of HIV/AIDS. A case in point was her address to a “Catholic Networking Session” at the 2010 International AIDS Conference in Vienna.

There, Ms. Knight asked. “Is there a uniquely Catholic approach to the global HIV pandemic? And if so, what is it?” Her first answer: “I fear that there may be people here in Vienna this week who would answer that it is one characterized by dogma, hypocrisy, moralizing, and condemnation.” …. did Ms. Knight challenge this caricature? Not really. The best she could manage was to lament that Catholic AIDS workers (the largest group of non-governmental care-providers for people suffering from AIDS) “are still dogged by these criticisms.”

Nor, in answering her own question, did Leslie-Anne Knight say what she might have said, which is this: “Yes, there is a uniquely Catholic approach to the global HIV pandemic. It is an approach that takes seriously the dignity of the human person, which includes the capacity of men and women to change patterns of behavior that put themselves, …. And it is an approach that refuses to burn incense at the altar of the false god latex, where the real votaries of rigid dogma are to be found among those for whom condoms are instruments of salvation.”

Ms. Knight, I hardly need add, said none of this. To the contrary: she put the authority of her position behind a reiteration of the poverty/stigma/low-educational-levels mythology. Which is to say, she reinforced the rigidities that are the true obstacles to the “development innovation and collaboration” for which she called.

I don’t mean to suggest that Ms. Knight is singularly wrong-headed. What she said (and didn’t say) in Vienna expressed what is quite likely the consensus among many Caritas International-affiliated agencies. These agencies have absorbed from the INGO atmosphere in which they work, and from the governments and international agencies on whose funding they have come to depend, the approach to development and AIDS that shaped Ms. Knight’s speech and rendered it strangely anemic in its Catholic identity.

That identity is what the Holy See is determined to reassert in global Catholic development and health care efforts. As the drama of that re-set unfolds, support for the Vatican’s efforts by the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services would be in order.

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