In the year of our fiftieth founding anniversary, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines affirms its commitment to be a channel for united witness and common action, by being in solidarity with the people in the struggle for justice, peace and integrity of creation. With this, comes our unwavering support and commitment to journey with our brothers and sisters living with HIV and AIDS in their quest for healing and wholeness – which is God’s Divine will of an abundant life for all.
Today, with this community gathered here to observe the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, we remember our brothers and sisters who have died due to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). We acknowledge their grief and pain, the stigma and discrimination cast upon them by their immediate community, society and the world. We are repentant and also call others to repent for our misjudgements, strong condemnation and marginalization towards people living with HIV and AIDS.
As we remember them, we take inspiration from the Scriptures: “ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). We continue to affirm that people living with HIV and AIDS have the right to partake in that glorious promise of God.
When one is made to suffer, discriminated against, stigmatized, abused and marginalized because of his or her HIV or AIDS status, life in its fullness can never be realized. When one is denied access to health and medical services, be informed and educated, be treated and dealt with privately and in confidentiality, one is far from experiencing life in its fullness. When one is denied a rightful place and space in a society where he or she belongs, life in its fullness can never be achieved.
May our gathering today be our collective affirmation and witness that we commit ourselves to open wide our hearts and doors so that our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV and AIDS may experience life in all its fullness.
REV. FR. REX RB. REYES, JR.