25 November 2004

Zambia: HIV Hasn't Spared Clergy - Archbishop Malango

Lusaka — THE clergy have not been spared by HIV and AIDS, Anglican Central Africa Archbishop Bernard Malango has said.

Officiating at the Anglican Church's strategic planning workshop on HIV/AIDS under the theme 'Generation Born Without AIDS', Archbishop Malango said the Church had not been spared by HIV as some clergy were dying from the disease.

"Unfortunately, with the advent of HIV and AIDS, the Church has suffered immensely by loss of clergy and laity," he said.

Archbishop Malango said the pandemic had impacted negatively on the Church's financial resource base as well as loss of talents and trained personnel.

"The Church has also seen the loss of income of tithe as those contributing significantly have died or are dying," he said.

Archbishop Malango said the Church continued to suffer the burden of increased number of orphans and vulnerable people as a result the pandemic, thereby affecting the Church's already constrained financial resources.

And Lusaka Bishop David Njovu said the Church would continue to preach the message of abstinence among its members.

He said the Church did not condemn those who advocated condom use, but did not support the supply of condoms to the youth.

"We are not condemning those who are advocating for the use of the condom, just as long as they do don't distribute them to the young children," Bishop Njovu said. "And to those who are married and one is infected, they should use a condom to prevent infecting of the partner."

Bishop Njovu said it was important to address stigma and discrimination for people to have the confidence to share their experiences.

"We do not stigmatise or discriminate in our congregation. We keep secrets, so people trust us wherever we are," he said.

Bishop Njovu said the Anglican Communion pledged its commitment to ensuring that future generations could live in a world free from AIDS by breaking the silence on HIV, educating itself on HIV issues, and addressing poverty, conflict and gender inequalities.

And health minister Dr Brian Chituwo said the government would continue to advocate the use of condoms because it served people of different beliefs.

"As government we are leaders of Christians, non-believers and other faiths, so we have no choice but to provide leadership for our people," Dr Chituwo said. "Human beings go astray, and it would even be a Christian to go astray."

He said much as it was important for the Church to talk about the mitigating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it was equally important to look at ways of preventing the further spread of the virus.

The workshop is being attended by bishops and national diocesan HIV co-ordinators from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia, and would focus on the Church's role and strategies for the next five years.

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