The Passion to Heal: A Theological Pastoral Approach to HIV/AIDS
The global pandemic of HIV/AIDS is the most significant challenge of our time. The ongoing conversation between religion and science comes to a critical juncture in this pandemic. The global community has not yet found a vaccine or cure for this virulent virus, which will likely claim five million more lives in the coming year. The global statistics challenge even the most sophisticated imagination, with projections in the tens of millions of people dead, orphaned children, and many more living in various stages of incapacitation or diminished lives. There is a common prophetic religious imperative among Western faith communities that urgently requires both science and religion to respond. Both disciplines define their scope and purpose as universal, and the global pandemic provides a significant challenge to that universal claim. Regardless of the many differences among the nations and peoples challenged by this pandemic, there is a common moral foundation to which the Western religious and scientific traditions must respond. Religion and science cannot deny their respective social responsibilities by claiming the role of neutral bystander. There are several critical ethical choices to be made in response to the pandemic, and the disciplines of religion and science are critical in formulating those choices.
Keywords: Abraham J. Heschel; biblical prophetic imperative; ethical challenges; global HIV/AIDS pandemic; pastoral theological responses to global HIV/AIDS; prophetic responsibility; religion-science conversations
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Director of Jewish Studies at St. Cloud State University
Publication date: 2004-06-01