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Faith, HIV and heartbreaking stories
Feb 28, 2000

Dear Fr. DeMartini. I read the posting "His way of saving me" of 31 January and found the story heartbreaking and similar to mine in a way. I am a straight woman infected with HIV through a deception of another man. I did not pass the infection on to my partner, although I was already infected when I met him. I found out about my HIV not that long ago and he was incredibly lucky to have avoided the infection. In any case, what I am trying to understand is the following. I do not believe in God and I find the whole concept of faith amusing and totally alien to my perception of the world. I am sure if the man who had intentionally infected me with the virus were still alive (he died in agony long time ago), I would have had him put on trial and made the remainder of his pitiful life hell on earth, so that individuals who endanger other people's lives so casually could see right there and then that they are not getting away with it. To my opinion, it is easy to feel sorry for yourself and ask God to forgive you and "those who have sinned" but to make sure that you've done something decent to stop this evil is another matter. I do not think it should be a "God's business" to deal with it. I am not talking out of vengeance, I think it is a straight forward and sensible action to stop those creeps taking more lives before they die themselves. So, my point is: I guess, many intentionally infected Christians will stay put and search their souls for strength to forgive those who robbed them of many joys of life just because they felt like it, but I am so convinced that this is so wrong!! So passive, and SO WRONG! Thank you for your time.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend, Thank you for your very honest observations. I realize that you describe yourself as not believing in God and that the notion of faith is "amazing and totally alien" so I want to try to respond to your hurtful circumstances without using ideas of faith and God. I think that every person, no matter what their religion or spiritual beliefs is called to honesty with themselves and others and to a sense of respect for life and living things. There is no virtue in hiding one's pain and frustration and just keeping it inside as long as in speaking anger and pain a person does not resort to violence or vengeance. Truth can hurt and the truth also is that each of us has to take responsibility for our actions even as we experience the dishonesty of someone we may have trusted. Aside from forced rape or other violent ways of passing the virus, it is important to also face one's own anger at self which can be expressed as "If only I had known" or If only I wouldn't have desired him at that point" or.......I suggest that since this man has died you find a way to still communicate your anger---write him a letter or find a place where you can talk out loud to him or do whatever you can to express the hurt and frustration you feel so that it does not compromise your life and relationship now. As a person of faith, I will keep you in my prayers that you can live life with a sense of joy and promise even though someone once tries to rob those gifts from you. Peace, Fr. Rod



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