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Anglicans and the United Nations

Posted on: December 2, 2003 2:08 PM
Related Categories: USA

The following letter was presented to the UN secretary general on World AIDS Day (1 December 2003) at his office in New York:

1 December 2003

His Excellency Mr Kofi Annan
Secretary General
The United Nations

Dear Mr Secretary General,

On the occasion of World AIDS Day, I am delighted to know that you have agreed to meet our Anglican Observer at the United Nations, Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa Matalavea, in order to hear from her something of the important work she does at the United Nations on behalf of the 75 million-member Anglican Communion.

The continuing engagement of the churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion with the HIV/AIDS pandemic is one of the top priorities for the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The Primates of the Anglican Communion, meeting in Brazil in May 2003, made the stark admission that the "Body of Christ has AIDS". The Primates determined to engage more deeply in combating HIV/AIDS, and particularly in challenging cultures and traditions which stifle the humanity of women and deprive them of equal rights. They agreed that the greatest challenge was to nurture and equip our children to protect themselves from HIV, so that we can fulfil the vision of building a "generation without AIDS".

To that end, the twelve Provinces of the Anglican Communion in Africa which make up the Council of the Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) have adopted the All Africa Anglican Planning Framework to address the AIDS pandemic. This framework singles out prevention, pastoral care, counselling, HIV care, death and dying as the Church's core areas of intervention. The Anglican Communion does not believe that AIDS is a punishment from God, for God does not visit death and disease upon his people. It is rather an effect of "our broken humanity", reminding us of our call to respect the dignity of every human being.

In a Pastoral Letter following their May 2003 meeting, the Primates of the Anglican Communion reminded us that Christ calls us into community as friends so that we might befriend others in His name. In that spirit, the Anglican Communion has resolved to build on what has already been achieved in the fight against AIDS, and to strengthen its efforts, prayers and support for all who are living with, and dying from, the effects of HIV/AIDS.

Our UN Observer and my Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mark Pellew, will join the New York community tonight, in our Cathedral of St John the Divine, in prayer and determination that one day our world will be free from this devastating disease.

Yours sincerely,


John L. Peterson
Secretary General
Anglican Communion Office