22

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

November 2004

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Asia: ‘Building Communities of Peace for All’

After a five-year focus on ‘A Time for Fullness of Life for All’ (2000-2005), the Christian Conference of Asia begins another five-year focus (2005-2010) on ‘Building Communities of Peace for All’, starting at the 12th General Assembly on 31 March – 6 April 2005. The sharing of the good news of God’s will for fullness of life for all will certainly continue to be at the core of the life and the ministry of the Christian Conference of Asia. But the theme ‘Building Communities of Peace for All’ reflects a call and commitment to a task and a vision in the context of Asia’s religious and ethnic diversity and ongoing quest for communal harmony. Hence, living in Asia can no longer be romantically conceived of as becoming one community but living together as many diverse communities that are held together by the same vision of peace for all.

Bangkok: Enrich Rest of Christianity, Kobia Urges Asian Churches

Asian Churches should take a new responsibility in unifying churches, but need to avoid superficial Christianity, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev.Samuel, Kobia has said at a gathering in Korea. The leader of the world’s largest grouping of churches, in addressing more than 200 participants at an ecumenical forum in Seoul, on 23rd August paid tribute to the dynamic growth of Christianity in Asia. He called on Asian churches to take new responsibility in the global ecumenical movement. The centre of gravity of Christianity has made a fundamental shift to the “global South”, including Asia, said Kobia. But he warned against what he called “superficial Christianity” that does not meet the spiritual yearning of people today. The WCC had called for a renewal of ecumenical spirituality which “rejoices in the continuity of things of the spirit with action for justice and peace”. (ENI)

Beijing: Evangelization Outreach

Although far from any town the Catholic community in Xin Jiang, Shan XI province, is very active. In view of mission, the parish priest divided the surrounding villages into three zones for itinerant evangelization, and the method is proving successful. Over recent years, more than a hundred people have embraced the faith and many lapsed Catholics have discovered the joy of practicing the faith. According to Faith Catholic bulletin published in He Bei, the priest responsible for this area, Rev. Niu Guang Xing, plans ahead to ensure fruitful mission. When farmers have less work Fr.Niu Guang Xing and the team of Sister and Catechists go around the villages visiting the local Catholics and sharing the faith with others. This team work is proving most successful: in remote villages Catholics are finding their way back to practicing the faith and many non-Christians are embracing faith in Christ for the first time. (World Mission)

China: Eight Underground Priests and Two Seminarians Arrested

Eight priests and two seminarians of the underground Catholic Church in China were arrested on August 6, in Hebei province while attending a religious retreat, the US-based Cardinal Kung Foundation reported. Among those arrested in Sujiazhuang village were Fr.Huo Junlong, the Administrator of Baoding Diocese in Hebei;

Fr. Zhang Zhenquian of Baoding and Fr.Huang of Sujiazhuang. The names of the others arrested were not immediately known. About 20 police vehicles and a large number of security policemen surrounded Sujiazhuang and conducted a house-to-house search to arrest the priests and seminarians. Those seized are now detained in the Baoding Security Bureau. Nine out of the ten religious arrested this time belong to the Baoding Diocese. (Zenit)

Congo, Kinshasa: Africa Urged to be a Protagonist in Evangelization

Local Churches in Africa should send priests to other dioceses on the continent and even to Europe, suggested an International Missiology Congress held in Congo. The recent “Tertio Millenio” Congress has as its theme “The Future of the ‘Ad Gentes’ Missionary Activity of the Church.” It was organized by the Congolese Bishops’ Conference with the sponsorship of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. To facilitate the exchange of priests, the Congress recommended in its final message, “the creation of a common and inter-African center of missionary preparation and collaboration among the regional Churches to coordinate the exchange of persons and objectives.” (Zenit)

Geneva: De-westernize Theology, WCC Leader urges before Catholic Academics

European theology needs to be “de-westernized” to adapt to a global shift of Christianity to the Southern Hemisphere, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev.Sam Kobia, has told a gathering of Roman Catholic theologians. “Is it not high time to leave behind the destructive pride of the dominant global culture that has its origins in the colonizing drive to conquer and subdue the world?” Kobia said in a speech presented 31 August to the Fifth International Congress of the European Society for Catholic Theology, holding a session at the WCC’s Geneva headquarters. “The dominant position of European powers determined their world view – including the assumption that the spread of European civilization would go hand in hand with the spread of Christianity. It is sad to say that the Churches and their mission were in many ways part and parcel of this reality”. Kobia, the first African to lead the WCC, asked: “Can theologians break out of the captivity of a dominant culture and embrace the diverse contributions from other regions of the world?” (ENI)

Geneva: US ‘Intoxication with Power’ makes it unloved, says Lutheran Leader

Most citizens of the United States want to be known as generous, peace-loving people, who cherish freedom and are committed to democracy; yet that is not how they are seen through the eyes of the world, the global leader of millions of Lutherans has said. Bishop Mark S.Hanson, an American who is the president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), a grouping of churches representing more than 60 million Lutherans worldwide, said he had learned from his travels that unfortunately the United States was “viewed as a nation intoxicated with power”. Hanson said, “We are seen as preoccupied with the expansion of our globalized economy rather than as standing in solidarity with those in poverty,” said Hanson. “We are judged as acting not with humility but with arrogance by refusing to sign the Kyoto Accords [on the emission of gases], disregarding the Geneva Conventions and resisting being part of the United Nations coordinated HIV/AIDS programme,” he said. (ENI)

India: Two Years Christian Telecasting on ‘Jain TV’

Jain TV is a free-to-air channel, despite pressures to pay for airtime, the producers managed to stay with JAIN channel banking on the demand from viewers to keep the Christian program on-air. In the past two years, Voice of Christianity anchorman, Fr.Dominic Emmanuel SVD, interviewed many Church leaders, including Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil and Asia’s first tribal Cardinal Telesphore Toppo. The 107th episode on July 4 was an interview with the most famous Protestant Bollywood comedian Johnny Lever. To-date, the program has covered themes like Christian contribution to nation-building through education, health, and social services. (SAR News)

India, Kerala: Orthodox Church Desecrated, Bishop says it was to provoke Christians

Some unidentified persons broke into the St.Thomas Mar Thoma Church at Patoor in Thiruvananthapuram, the Kerala capital, and set the altar (Madbaha) on fire, September 29 late evening. The curtain (thronose) and two chairs inside the church were completely gutted. Nothing was stolen from the Church. The miscreants had broken into the church through a window, police said. The fire was first noticed by the parish priest, Rev.Thomas George, and the sacristan, who came for preparing the altar for a retreat about 8 p.m. “I alerted the police and the trustees about the incident and we feel this is an act done to disrupt communal harmony” the priest told. After inspecting the Church, the city police commissioner said “a detailed investigation” would be initiated to trace the culprits.” The incident took place hardly a kilometer from the State Secretariat in this capital city. (SAR News)

India: Nuncio Says Ordination of Ethnic Garo Bishop Shows Church’s Vitality

The ordination of the first ethnic Garo bishop in northeastern India shows the church’s vitality and growth in the region, a Vatican official said. About 25,000 people, including 13 bishops and 150 priests, attending the Oct. 3 Episcopal ordination of Father Andrew R.Marak as coadjutor bishop of the Tura Diocese, reported UCA News, an Asian Church news agency based in Thailand. Rhythmic dances with the sounds of wooden Garo drums and songs punctuated the ceremony led by Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, apostolic nuncio to India. Archbishop Lopez lauded the Garo people for the ordination and said, “It is you that the Church wants to honour.” He said the ordination was “a proof of your vitality, energy and strength as a Catholic community.” The Tura Diocese covers half of Meghalaya, one of three Christian-majority states in northeastern India. (CNS)

India, New Delhi: Indian Christians Decry ‘Coerced’ Conversions to Hinduism

Christian groups have condemned Orissa state in eastern India for failing to stop the much publicized reconversion of Christians to Hinduism, flouting a state law that restricts conversions from one religion to another. The government did nothing to stop it,” said the Rev.P.R.Parichcha, president of the Orissa chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC). Parichcha was speaking to Ecumenical News International on 22nd September from the Orissa capital Bhubaneswar after 100 Christians were reconverted to Hinduism in the remote village of Sarat. Dozens of activists from the pro-Hindu VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council) organized the reconversion ceremony led by Hindu priests on 19 September, in what was seen as an open flouting of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, which bans conversions without prior permission from the government. The law is seen by local churches as a tool to halt conversions to Christianity. However, the Orissa government was “acting as if the anti-conversion law does not apply to Hindus”, Parichcha asserted. (ENI)

Indonesia: Bible Quotes Via Mobile Phones

The Liturgy Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia launched a religious SMS (short messaging system) service in February to mark the 40th anniversary of “Sancrosanctum Concilium” (Constitutional on the Sacred Liturgy), the first document of the Second Vatican Council issued in December 1963. In cooperation with PT Inforkom, a Jakarta-based cellular phone service provider, the commission transmits daily Bible quotes at 1,000 rupiah (US $ 0.11) per message. Plans are underway to transmit inspiring and reflective words from the saints and Church documents. (UCAN)

Jordan, Amman: Mideast Demands Solid Formation for Christians

The Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem emphasized the importance of educating and forming Christians in the Mideast, particularly in the Holy Land, to help them deal with their highly complex environment. Patriarch Michel Sabbah made that point at the recent chapter of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, held in Amman. “The societies to which you must proclaim the World are two: on one hand, the diverse Arab and Muslim societies in Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, and on the other, the Jewish Israeli society,” the Patriarch said. “In all these societies we are and you are called to proclaim the Word of God” through prayer, charitable works and education, “both in the schools as well as in the parish,” he said. The faithful must be educated to love and edify their societies, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem said. (Zenit)

Taiwan, Tao Yuan: Taiwan Prisoners Evangelized

The Chinese Catholic Ministry Association and the Tao Yuan Women’s Prison jointly organized an evangelization assembly in May at that prison. During the event, Chang Min-hsiung, former head of the Bamboo Union, one of the two most infamous crime syndicates in Taiwan, told 400 women inmates that he joined the gang 18 years ago, and eventually led 200 gang members and acquired more than 100 million New Taiwan dollars (US $ 3 million), but “I felt empty within my soul.” Both Chang, now a lecturer in a nursing school, and Doctor Wang Man-tang, a terminal cancer patient, testified that God is the only meaning in life. (UCAN)

Thailand: Tourism Needs Evangelizing Action

Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, delivered the message at the 6th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism saying that “tourism’s contribution to the social and economic development of countries is unquestionable. However, the difficulties raised along the way and the errors committed are also evident. For this reason, tourism, as a part of all human reality, needs the Church’s constant evangelizing action and God’s healing grace.” (World Mission)

Thailand and Sri Lanka: Film of Buddha Protested

The Thai Parliament as well as Thailand’s Buddhist Affairs department on September 8 expressed outrage over the film “Hollywood Buddha”, whose advertisement shows a man sitting on the head of a Buddha statue. On September 13, monks of the “Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya” (national conference of Buddhist monks) marched to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo and held a sit-in for 15 minutes to demand a ban on the film. Some Sri Lankas Catholics have supported the Buddhist monks’ protest of the film. (UCAN)

Vietnam: “Cyber” Catechesis

Despite a law (effective November 15) banning religious instruction, and government measures to stop access to Catholic websites, a catechist in Ho Chi Minh City continues using the Internet to share his faith with others. The catechist, who is a telephone company employee, sends an email every week to about 200 people containing homilies by the Pope, Gospel reflections, prayers, Church news and articles on family issues. Addresses are encouraged to forward the email to their relatives and friends to spread the message of Christ. (CN)

Warsaw: Islamic Theologian Urges Christians: ‘Don’t Harden Against Muslims’

A prominent Muslim theologian has urged Christians not to “harden themselves” against Muslim issues and has called on militants in Iraq to release their hostages and explain their grievances in a “civilized” manner. “My message is clear – release your hostages immediately!” said Imam Abduljalil Sajid, chairman of Britain’s Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony. “Far from helping their cause, this is giving a bad name to Islam and Muslim.” The 68-year-old theologian was speaking after a visit in September to Iraq by a British Muslim delegation seeking to save the life of British hostage Kenneth Bigley, the 62-year-old Briton, whose two US fellow-hostages had already been beheaded. “If they discuss their grievances in a civilized, dignified way, there’ll be people who listen – but not with these horrible acts, which are unacceptable not just to Muslims but to all human beings,” Sajid said. (ENI)

II. NEW DOCUMENT

Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine of the Holy Father John Paul II to the bishops, clergy and faithful for the year of the Eucharist, October 2004 – October 2005, was issued on 7 October, 2004.

III. BOOKS

Vekathanam Mathew, Indian Christology: Perspectives and Challenges, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2004.

This work discusses the mystery of Christ in the context of Indian Anthropology, especially of the Vedanta with special emphasis on the Christological contributions of some of the prominent Indian thinkers, both Christian and non-Christian. The book is a contribution towards the developing Indian Christology, drawing attention to its various perspectives and implied challenges.

Lakeland Paul, The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church, New York and London: Continuum, 2003.

The author gives a blueprint of the future of the church liberating the Catholic imagination to see the life and imagination to see the life and mission of the church with fresh eyes. The author goes back to the basics of our faith to provide the theological underpinnings of our mission and ministry for lay Catholics and then charts a path to a rich and full Catholicism that has the potential to transform.

De Wit, Hans (et.al.) eds., Through the Eyes of Another: Intercultural Reading of the Bible, Amsterdam: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 2004.

This book documents three-year research study centered on the story of the encounter of Jesus with a Samaritan woman. It is a special testimony to the fascinating nature of intercultural Bible reading and its potential contribution to the life of faith communities and to the work of the church agencies and scholars.

Thompson, Magdala, ed., Full of Hope: Critical Social Perspectives on Theology, New York: Paulis Press, 2003.

The authors show that true equality spills over into all aspects of our lives especially in the struggle against racism, poverty, and the environment. Drawing on scripture, Church history, official church documents, and modern research in a variety of fields, the contributors evaluate the current climate of gender relations and express their hope for a future of equality between women and men in the home, in schools in the church, and in the society at large.

ISHVANI KENDRA
P.B. 3003, Pune – 411014 – INDIA
Ph : (0091) - 020 – 27033820; 27033507

E-mail: ishvani@dataone.in
Website:
www.ishvanikendra.org

Please forward this Mission Scan to any of your friends and acquaintances.
Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)