The Pontifical Mission of Austria reaffirmed its commitment to supporting victims of AIDS in a declaration sent to Fides News agency on Monday. This year's letter from the mission casts light on the plight of orphaned children and promotes the objective of giving them dignity in life and in death.
"AIDS is a terrible scourge. Particularly with regard to orphans from AIDS. The challenge is not only medical care but above all we must try to give meaning to a life that is too often very brief for these children. The joy of life in these sick children teaches us the ultimate goal of our life: to love and be loved!" said Monsignor Leo-M. Maasburg, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Austria.
The intention of Missio Austria, as the Mission is also known, is to "attract attention primarily to the serious consequences of the pandemic in children, creating an awareness of the causes and contexts, to show real possibilities of solution." They added that they have been aiding in the psycho/social and spirituals treatments of AIDS victims, their widows and orphans for years.
Missio Austria is not without work. The letter included the statistic that 98% of deaths from AIDS occur in developing nations, where the pandemic has a greater grip and health care is scarcer. This is telling statistic for the reason behind this year's World AIDS Day theme, which is "Universal Access, Human Rights."
Missio Austria's magazine "Alle Welt" has published the testimony of a young Camillian priest named Father John Phuong Dinh Toai who works with AIDS orphans in Vietnam. He manages an orphanage for 60 children whose parents are sick, suffering or already dead. "We're almost the only ones that help mothers with AIDS and their children," Fr. Phuong said of the lack of care available in his region. He says that there are 300 more children now being cared for by their families who could be served.
"We try to make the children stay with their parents as long as possible."
The goal of his work and that of the people he collaborates with in caring for the children is to "give them a dignified life, but also a dignified death."
He does so by living out his greatest desire, which is " to serve people, to serve God and bring Christ to men."