The mission of the church in the context of women living with HIV and AIDS : a case study of St. Alois Catholic rural mission station, Gweru diocese - Zimbabwe.
This research is designed to investigate the role and mission of the Church in response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. A case study of St Alois Catholic Rural Mission Station has been used for the investigation of the research. The research focuses on women who are living with HIV and AIDS. A good number of African women theologians and scholars, as well as some male theologians, have explored the implications of HIV and AIDS. They have highlighted the impact of inequitable gender relations on women’s vulnerability to HIV. This research is built on the evidence that has been exposed by the theologians in the area of HIV and AIDS. The research findings affirm and portray a reflection of the reality of suffering that is being encountered by women living with HIV and AIDS. Until appropriate measures are put in place to address the pandemic, the Church will always remain challenged to respond to the theological challenges presented by the HIV epidemic. The research draws the attention of St Alois Catholic Rural Mission Station to the urgent need of responding to the devastating consequences of HIV and AIDS for women and their families. The study suggests three key biblical insights that should be a motive for the Church to be engaged in the pandemic. These are: the Exodus event that reveals the justice of God for the poor people; the mission of the prophets, a mission for the poor; and the mission of Jesus. Central to these key insights is the liberation of the poor and the oppressed. The mission of the Church therefore cannot be understood outside God’s mission Missio Dei, a mission that has the poor as its central focus. In this research, the Church is encouraged to redefine its mission by recognising the plight of the poor and creating situations that aim to eradicate the oppression of women, and provide empowerment opportunities that can transform their lives. Liberation Theology and Asset-Based Community Development are used as frameworks or tools that attempt to answer the research problem: How can the Catholic Church of St Alois Rural Mission exercise its pastoral mission in addressing the challenges that are faced by women living with HIV and AIDS?