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Awaiting punishment
Jul 25, 2000

Dear Fr.DeMartini,

Please take a minute to listen. I am a 33 yr old(devout catholic-losing my faith) male who has lived with the same woman for almost 4 yrs. We recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world (15mo.ago). Before I met the mother of my child I engaged in some risky behavior. My partner tested-hiv neg early her pregnancy but we continued to have sex. I was not tested. I have been having some ARS's in the past 8mo's. and so has my partner. First and foremost I can not find the courage or strength to get tested even though I beg God and the blessed Mother every Sunday@mass to help me. I feel an extreme amount of guilt not only for my risky behavior but for my entire life. I was rebellious as a child and treated my parents very poorly. I still lose my temper with my parents in a manner that I should not, I do love them very much. I also never got married and continue to live in sin. But most important of all, I had thoughts about encouraging my partner to have an abortion during her pregnancy. I hate to say this but if I am hiv+ due to my own stupidity, how could I have allowed a child to come into this world to suffer, How can I live with that? As you can see I have not been a very good Christian and I am not afraid to face whatever punishment that is sent to me but please pray that my daughter does not have to suffer for my sins. I am so afraid I can hardly think straight but my fear is not for me it is for her. Please help me find my way. I find myself awaiting the news of my punishment almost 24/7.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your honesty and for this opportunity to reach out to you in your anger, fear and pain. I want to begin by congratulating you and your partner on welcoming your first child into your relationship. I hope and pray that the faithfulness you have been living with your partner for the past four years will continue. Remember that you can always bring your relationship to the Church and have the blessing of your marriage which you did not choose a few years ago. In that way you can let go of your guilt and fear of punishment and also bring your child to be baptized in the Church.

You have indicated that you and your partner have been having ARS's recently -- I assume this means AIDS-related symptoms. The only person who can determine this is a medical professional. You have a choice here to move through the anger in which you keep punishing yourself and possibly creating hurt for your partner and daughter. Taking an HIV antibody test will first of all answer the question that torments you about your HIV status but also give you a chance to take care of yourself for the sake of your daughter and the woman you love. God is not a vengeful God who enjoys seeing you suffer this way -- God constantly invites us into the light of truth and to healing our hurts. However, God gives us free will to accept the love and forgiveness or to keep staying in our personal hell of anger and fear. Please accept my encouragement and God's hand and get the information that you need about your health. Also, I hope that you have been able to share these fears with your wife so that you can support each other in this time. Finally, abortion is not an answer to the risks you took and the shame you feel -- it would be selfish to deprive this life and love from coming into the world and it would, I fear, compound your grief and your anger at yourself. I will pray for you and your family. Please stay in touch. Fr. Rod



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