Podcast "Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS & the Catholic Church" Premieres World AIDS Day, December 1
America Media will launch Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church, a
six-episode podcast series, on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2019. Reported by journalist Michael O’Loughlin, who has covered the Catholic Church and LGBT issues for more than a decade, the series explores both the lights and the shadows in the history of the Catholic Church’s response to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. You can click this link to subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts. Alternatively, you can listen to the trailer on the show the landing page. Listen to an interview with Michael O'Loughlin on NPR Weekend Edition here.
The 1980s was a harrowing decade for LGBT people everywhere. If you were gay and also Catholic, it was often even more challenging. In 1986 a Vatican department released a letter which described homosexuality as “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” The letter caused a great deal of suffering among people who were already grappling with the largest, most devastating public
health crisis in a generation. Yet while the church continued to uphold traditional teaching on human sexuality, pushing back against the frontiers of the sexual revolution in the public debate, it also responded in an unprecedented way to the suffering on the ground during the AIDS crisis.
At the community level, the gay community and the church, which managed a vast healthcare network and wielded immense political influence, began to work together. Many of the stories from that complicated time have gone unreported until now.
“For those of us who are too young to remember, the scope of that suffering can be difficult to comprehend,” O’Loughlin wrote in a story for America magazine on the secret history of Catholic caregivers during the epidemic. “More than a few Catholic priests, sisters and brothers, and laypeople confronted the stigma by responding pastorally to the H.I.V. and AIDS epidemic.”
Plague captures the stories of ordinary people responding to suffering in extraordinary fashion, as O’Loughlin talks with those who worked on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis, those whose lives were upended by it, and those who believe there are still lessons from that time going unheeded.
The first episode will premiere on World AIDS Day, Sunday, December 1, with subsequent episodes released weekly.