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Philosophy vs. Scientific vs. Faith-Please Help
May 9, 1999

Father Rod: Perhaps you can provide some help to me with this. BACKGROUND: I'm a 38 yr. old man,(HIV -), my wife is HIV + from an affair during a marital separation 2 years ago. I am Roman Catholic and have an older brother who is a RC priest. I was raised in a practicing Catholic family. HERE IS MY PROBLEM: I tend to combine philosophy/science/faith all together in my thinking, and in doing so, I become very confused/disenchanted on religious issues. I cannot relate my thinking to family, including my brother, because they think it is nonsense, and frankly, there sick of hearing me. I can't blame them, but I also can't help it; I consider myself well-versed, and it is just my nature. I could overwhelm you with my questions, but for everyones sake, let met present to you 1 question that is bothering me, and maybe you can help me with it. QUESTION: It is now established that HIV came from a virus that is carried by chimps. It was most likely transmitted to humans through the consumption of the monkeys. This virus,we know, causes no harm to primates, but is deadly to humans. Now-(1) During Creation, did God intentionally implant this virus, knowing what the consequences of transmission to humans would be?-if so, what would be the purpose of such act. (2) or is this virus just a biological by-product of the primate that God had no direct control over-If that is so, there goes the belief of AN ALL-POWERFUL,ALL-KNOWING,GOD That is in total control of things. Hence, you can probably see why my family is sick of trying to explain things to me-perhas you may be getting a chuckle from this question, also. Please try to help me understand and what I need to do to separate my scienctific mind from my "Oh Ye Of Little Faith" mind. God Bless

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend, Thank you for your letter---I have been unable to respond earlier because of travel. The questions which you pose have resulted in countless and complex responses which can be confusing and wearisome to recount. However, your questions are not silly but go to the heart of what has troubled people of faith for centuries---how does a good God permit bad things to happen. Unforttunately with the AIDS pandemic, some people have chosen to place God in the role of judge who inflicts AIDS to teach a lesson or respond to immorality or infidelity. This is captured in the sentiment that "AIDS is a punishment from God". Others may try to distance God from the pandemic altogether and look for cause and responses in science and human history. In this case God is seen as a distant and uninvolved observer who seems to rule by neglect. I believe that God is all knowing and that God knows that in creating humankind God has created people for good, for life, for living in peace and with respect and all sorts of other reasons which Jesus particularly spoke about in his preaching. That is why, even with the pain, infidelity, loss and distress brought about in HIV/AIDS, God is involved in all the good, compassionate responses which individuals and institutions, including communites of faith, have shown. God is also in the pain insofar as God suffers in and with each person infected and affected--much like God did in the sufferings of Jesus. Our God, in other words, is directly involved in this pandemic--not as agent of cause or disinterested observer, but rather as loving spirit and compassionate friend especially through the ministry of so many caring people. I hope my reflection helps you in your search to reach out with understanding, compassion and care in our world living with HIV/AIDS. Blessings and peace, Fr. Rod

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