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ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

January 2005

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Africa: Pope Calls for Second Synod of African Bishops

Ten years after the 1994 Synod for Africa, His Holiness Pope John Paul II plans to call such an assembly. He announced this, without elaboration, while addressing Catholic bishops from Africa and Europe who were concluding their meeting in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, November 13, 2004. “Considering the wishes of the post-synodal council which express the desires of the African pastors,” he said, “I take advantage of this occasion to announce that I have the intention of calling a second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I entrust this project to your prayer, as I invite all to ask Our Lord for the great gift of community and of peace for the beloved land of Africa.” (Vatican Info Service)

Bangladesh: A Catholic Given South Asian Award for Promoting Human Rights

A Bangladeshi Catholic laywoman has won a Nepal-based international award for her promotion of the human rights of women, children and tribal people in her country. Rosaline Costa received the Prakash Kaphley International Solidarity Award on Jan. 7 at the Birendra Convention Hall in Kathmandu. Costa has long worked with Hotline Bangladesh, a human rights initiative of the Bangladesh Catholic bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace. The biennial Kaphley award was established during the South Asian Peoples' Conference held in New Delhi in 1997. It was instituted in memory of Nepalese human rights activist Prakash Kaphley, who died in a plane crash in 1992. "She works in the office seven days a week, usually from seven in the morning until after eight in the evening," said Father Timm, an American missioner in Bangladesh who has worked together with Costa in promoting human rights for the past 19 years. (UCAN)

Brazil: World Social Forum 2005

50,000 people die every single day due to poverty or poverty-related causes in this world of plenty. Their bones in the dirty graveyards tell thousands of tales of deprivation and deceit; stories of broken promises, stories of charred dreams, and stories of empty stomachs. There are at least 1 billion people who have such stories to tell you and me. They are in our own neighborhoods. Even by conservative estimates, 800 million people go to bed hungry. 30,000 children die every single day before they reach the age of five -- just because they do not have enough food or medicine. Every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation. They are made to die. At the same time the world spends $ 1 trillion a year to make bombs and guns and to prepare for war. This is obscene. This is criminal, and this is sin. Is this the kind of world we want to live in? asked John Samuel in his keynote address at the World Social Forum 2005. (www.infochangeindia.org)

Brunei: Apostolic Vicariate Established in Brunei

John Paul II established the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei and appointed as its first Bishop, Cornelius Sim, a US-educated cleric who’s been Apostolic Prefect in the Southeast Asian sultanate. The Pope established the Apostolic Prefecture of Brunei in 1997. The Vicariate encompasses the sultanate’s territory that has some 347,000 inhabitants, the Vatican press office said in its announcement. The state religion of Brunei is (Sunni) Islam. Other religions, in particular Buddhism and Christianity, are accepted “with a certain flexibility, although there is a tendency to ignore them or to make every sign of their presence disappear”, the Holy See added. “The government wants to create a Muslim society; thought is being given to introducing the Shariah (Islamic law) in the year 2010”. Catholics in the sultanate number 16,000, including 3,000 who are recognized as citizens, the Vatican said. “To them are added some 15,000 Filipino workers. The rest of the Christians, most of whom are Anglican, number 3,500”. Brunei has three parishes, four priests, two nuns and two seminarians. In addition there are 84 catechists. (Zenit).

England (Leeds): European Bishops Eye Ways to Re-evangelize Continent

Catholic leaders from 34 European countries met for the first time in England to discuss the role of Christianity in Europe. The event – a four-day assembly of the Council of the Bishop’s Conferences of Europe (CCEE) at Leeds – has been the largest gathering of senior Catholic Bishops in Britain since the Synod of Whitby in 664, more than 1,300 year ago. The main issues discussed by the meeting included Christianity’s significance in Europe today; ecumenism; the Churches and the European Constitution; a third Ecumenical Assembly; cooperation between Bishops’ Conferences; and CCEE projects, particularly in the areas of evangelization and pastoral strategy. (Zenit)

Germany (Konigstein: Bengali Children’s Bible Available to Millions in India and Bangladesh

The largest single project of Aid to the Church in Need (CAN), “God speaks to His Children”, a bible for children, has been published in Bengali. 100,000 copies of the book are currently in print and will be distributed among Bengali-speaking Catholics, the native tongue of more than 68 million inhabitants of the Indian state of West Bengal in Eastern India. Bengali is also the only official language of Bangladesh, which has more than 130 million inhabitants, among whom are approximately 265,000 Catholics. The volume has already been translated into more than 140 languages. Over 40 million copies have been distributed around the world. (Zenit)

India: Catholic Painter Seeks to Disprove ‘The Da Vinci Code’

Painter Francis Kodankandath, 44, staged eight of his original works October 25 – November 8 in Mumbai to disprove controversial claims made in the best-selling novel The da Vinci Code. His “Decoding da Vinci” exhibit drew hundreds. To disprove novelist Dan Brown’s claims e.g. that Mary Magdalene was in the Last Supper scene, pregnant with Jesus’ child, Kodankadath recreated da Vinci’s paintings. In “The Last Supper”, he deciphered the Grail, Brown’s symbol of Mary Magdalene, by identifying a perfect circle around the figure of Jesus and an hourglass-like contour within it. According to the painter, the circle stands for the bread Jesus broke, and the hourglass for the chalice. Paul Koli, secretary of the Indian Christian Art Association, said Kodankadath’s “reinterpretation of da Vinci’s painting is a thought-provoking work and it merits deeper discussion among painters.” (UCAN)

India (Konakuppam): Hindu Rituals Color Marian Devotion In Southern Shrine

Some pilgrims come to the local Marian shrine with sandalwood paste smeared on their shaven heads, some clad in saffron, the color of renunciation in the Hindu tradition. In the common kitchen, pilgrims cook "pongal," a mixture of rice and brown sugar, in earthen pots. The traditional harvest treat is offered to the Blessed Mother, called Periyanayagi Annai (Tamil for great princess and mother), depicted as a South Indian lady wearing a silk sari and jewels. About 100,000 Christian and Hindu pilgrims come to the shrine in Tamil Nadu state, the most popular time being the shrine's annual 10-day feast for the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal, in mid-January. This year's festival began on Jan. 14. The shrine in Konakuppam village, 2,330 kilometers south of New Delhi, features a "unique mix" of Hindu and Christian rituals, said a continuation of the "excellent attempt in inculturation" started by Father an 18-century Italian missioner. Constantine Joseph Beschi, Jesuit, who worked in the area now under Pondicherry-Cuddalore archdiocese, built a church here in 1714 and placed in it a 10-foot wooden statue of the Blessed Mother he designed in the South Indian style. The statue, which was made in Manila, he called Periyanayagi Annai. (UCAN)

India (Kochi): Some Oppose New Sacramental Changes In Syro-Malabar Church

Some newly introduced sacramental changes in the Syro-Malabar Church (SMC) are being met with opposition from priests and churchgoers, who say they do not understand the need for revision. Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who heads the Oriental-rite Catholic Church based in the southern Indian state of Kerala, promulgated the changes in five of the seven Sacraments in a Jan. 3 communique to all 26 SMC dioceses. The revisions, approved by Pope John Paul II, change procedures for administering Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation. The revisions took effect on Jan. 6. Soon after the changes were promulgated, some priests criticized them openly in the media. said, adding that his association has asked Cardinal Vithayathil to annul the promulgation. (UCAN)

Italy: Church Re-launches Media Mission

Aware of the influence of the media on popular thinking, and of the need to evangelize using modern means, the Italian Bishops wrote a new document on social communication and evangelization entitled “Communication and Mission”. The Bishops point out the risk of oligopoly in the media, both in its political hue – because “the role and control of the media has become decisive for the country’s equilibrium and for the development of democracy” – as well as in its social hue – because investments require advertising, and the latter an audience. The result is a lowering of programs, communication increasingly characterized by “the increase of violence, vulgarity and pornography, and of continuous attacks on intelligence and the human body,” the document stresses. (Zenit)

Japan (Tokyo): Christians Need to be Evangelized

Studies of Japanese college students’ attitude toward religion, conducted at Kokugakuin University in 1990-1992 and 1995-2001, show a drop in the number of religious adherents after the Aum Shinrikyo sarin attack of 1995. Instead of analyzing carefully the educational deficit and danger of pseudo-religious culture that enabled Japan to breed so many fanatical sects, the Japanese have been content to see their courts liberally hand out the death sentence. The above mentioned studies also show that young Japanese bellieve much more in ‘spirits’ than in Buddhism, Shinto, or Christianity, contrary to the classical perception of the Japanese as either indifferent to religion or as combining a plurality of religious traditions. Evangelization of these young people cannot be content with traditional pastoral frameworks of thought or with lofty interreligious reflection. It needs to address their concrete life situation. (The Japan Mission Journal)

Philippines (Manila): Political and Economic Reform, Cooperation Cited As Challenges in Year Ahead

A difficult year lies ahead for Filipinos unless the government implements substantial economic and political reform and the private sector cooperates with local governments to reduce poverty, according to social scientists, Church leaders and government economists. Rosario Bella Guzman, executive director of IBON Foundation, told a forum Jan. 13 that the government had failed to address economic problems, despite President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's acknowledgement last Aug. 23 that the country was in a state of "fiscal crisis" due to growing government debt. IBON Foundation, a private research group co-founded by a Good Shepherd sister, seeks to popularize socioeconomic issues and promote alternative economic policies. The forum held at the Philippine Social Science Center in Quezon City, drew 250 students, educators, priests, nuns and others, some working in the Philippines with the Columban Fathers and Urban Missionaries Revenue measures the government proposed after the declaration of the fiscal crisis have been criticized as likely to provoke greater social unrest. (UCAN)

Rome: A Book of Interviews with Cardinals Surprises Its Author

After interviewing 111 of the cardinals who could vote for a new pope in a conclave, the Vatican correspondent for Italian Radio and Television had words of praise. "The cardinals are a monument to John Paul II's greatness," said RAI journalist Giuseppe De Carli. "Country by country, continent by continent, we have realized that the cardinals are as great as the Pope," he said. "This is the amazing discovery we have made." De Carli and his team still aim to interview nine more elector-cardinals. In an interview with ZENIT, De Carli says that he hopes to soon complete these interviews. The Vatican-watcher has just published a selection of 23 interviews in a book entitled "Allow Me, Eminence" Other cardinals interviewed in the book, subtitled "The Church and the World According to Pope Wojtyla's Cardinals." In order to explain what he discovered in these interviews, the book's author says that the cardinals "not only have a most intense bond with the Successor of Peter, but are also similar to him." De Carli explains: "The Pope's was an adult vocation; at least half of the cardinals had adult vocations: There are former trade unionists, economists, lawyers.

Rome: Caritas Collects $63 Million to Aid South East Asia

Caritas Internationalis has collected over $63 million worldwide to assist the populations of South East Asia scourged by the recent tsunami. "The funds collected by the Caritas network are being sent directly to the Caritas of the affected countries, as requested, to finance emergency works," stated Caritas Internationalis in a report sent to ZENIT. According to international relief agency, the U.S. Catholic Relief Service has given $25 million, the most of any one Caritas agency. the Caritas international network -- made up of 162 national Caritas agencies worldwide -- has decided to aid the four countries where the human and material damage has been greatest: Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. (Zenit.org).

Vatican: Number of Catholics Rises by 15 Million, Diocesan Priests Increase; Religious Decrease.

The 2005 Pontifical Yearbook reveals that there are 1.086 billion Catholics in the world, 15 million more than last year. Half of all Catholics live in the Americas. The data of the volume -- presented by the members of the Central Office of Church Statistics to John Paul II, despite his bout of flu -- give a statistical picture of Catholicism. "The number of baptized faithful has increased, from 1.071 billion in 2002 to 1.086 billion in the year 2003." "In Africa, an increase of 4.5% of the faithful has been recorded, in Europe there has been, practically speaking, a situation of stability. Note must be taken of significant increases in Asia (up 2.2%), Oceania (up 1.3%) and America (up 1.2%)," the Vatican note explained. "A reading of the data on the distribution of Catholics in the diverse geographical areas reveals that America embraces 49.8% of Catholics worldwide, while Europe has 25.8%. Lower percentages are found in Africa (13.2%), Asia (10.4%) and Oceania (0.8%)," it added. In 2003, the statement said, priests totaled "405,450, of whom 268,041 were members of the diocesan clergy and 137,409 of the religious clergy; in 2002 they numbered 405,058 divided in 267,334 diocesan priests and 137,724 religious priests. The largest number of seminarians is found in the Americas: 37,191. Asia follows with 27,931, Europe with 24,387, Africa with 21,909 and Oceania with 955. (Zenit)

II. TSUNAMI - AFTERMATH

India (Nagercoil): Bishop giving confidence by visiting people by boat: Leon Tharmaraj, Bishop of Kottar in the hardest-hit state of Tamil Nadu, travelled by boat along India’s eastern coast to encourage local fishermen to go back to sea to fish after the tsunami. This way he was able to visit communities in Kanyakumari district in order to “instill confidence and courage in the minds of the fishermen after they lost their livelihood.” The diocese of Kottar has 44 parishes along the coast and is home to about 100,000 directly employed in the fishing industry, mostly Catholic. Bishop Tharmaraj and his team of priests left Cape Comorin on the southernmost tip of India to visit Arokiapuram village in the Bay of Bengal passing through other coastal parishes before ending his tour in Thengipattinam Parish in the Arabian Sea. Hundreds of parishioners greeted him during the journey. (AsiaNews/Sar News)

India (Karinkal): The tsunami has roused a wave of compassion and empathy in Karinkal. Even those who lost everything are volunteering to help the needy, this according to Sister Geia, a missioner of the Immaculata in Karinkal, in Tamil Nadu (India hardest-hit state). The sisters are part of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME). In Karinkal, they provide nursing and health care assistance to the injured, vaccination to the displaced and help and comfort to residents in outlying tsunami-affected villages. In fact, the missionary sisters run the only hospital left untouched by the big ocean surge. (AsiaNews)

Meanwhile the death toll from the Asian tsunami rose close to 280,000, making it the sixth-worst natural disaster in recorded history. The worst natural disaster was the 1887 flooding of the Yellow River, which took 1 million lives.

Indonesia: Tsunami caused damage worth $ 675 million to Indonesia’s environment

The recent Indian Ocean tsunami caused extensive damage to Indonesia’s coastal environment, resulting in losses of $ 675 million to natural habitats and important ecosystem functions, says the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This is in addition to the massive loss of life caused by the December 26 earthquake and tsunami, whose count continues to rise, one month after the disaster. In Aceh and northern Sumatra, 25,000 hectares of mangroves, some 32,000 hectares of previously existing coral reefs, and 120 hectares of sea grass beds have been damaged, according to a new report which features key contributions from the UNEP. The economic loss is valued at $ 118.2 million, $ 332.4 million and $ 2.3 million, respectively. (www.infochangeindia.org)

Taiwan: Signature Campaign for Prayer to Tsunami Victims

Here in the Campus Ministry of Fu Jen Catholic University, we had organized a one week signature campaign for prayer to Tsunami victims. We asked students to sign in a scroll and give them a purple ribbon to signify that they are inn solidarity with the Asian countries hit by the tsunami. We were able to gather about six very long scrolls with about 10,000 signatures on them. We put the scrolls in the Chapel and had an inter-religious prayer for 40 minutes. It was a very meaningful experience of prayer for everyone. Protestants, Taoists, Buddhists and Catholics together in praying for their other Asian sisters/brothers. It was very moving to hear students where they could put their monetary contributions while signing the scroll. Thus, we also put a box for them to drop whatever they can put. Taiwan Church has also collected a sizable amount. Taiwan and Hong Kong artists had joined efforts for a telethon concert.

III. INFORMATION

Source Book for Inculturation

A Team of experts had been working on a project to publish a Source Book for Inculturation for nearly two years. All the papers and most of the other material which will go into the book are now in the hands of the Executive Secretary who is giving it the finishing touch as general Editor. The book will be published by the Claretian Publications, Bangalore, India.

Third Asia-Oceania Biblical Congress

The Bible Desk of the FABC-OE will hold the Third Asia-Oceania Biblical Congress, co-sponsored by the Catholic Biblical Federation, with the theme: God’s Word: Living Hopoe and Lasting Peace. It will be held at the Mariapolis Centre in Tagaytay City, Philippines on February 14-18, 2005. This Congress will also be our Region’s preparation for the international Biblical Congress to be held in Rome in September 2005, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Word of God, Dei Verbum.

The FABC-OSC Fifth Bishops’ Institute for Social Communication (BISCOM V) was held in Bali, Indonesia from 22-27 November, 2004 to study and discuss on Communication for Inter-religious Dialogue.

IV. BOOKS

Panikkar, Raimon, Christophany: The Fullness of Man, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2004.

The author offers a Christology for the new millennium that charts mystical, not a prophetic course. He wants to free Christianity from its Western captivity, yet remains deeply liturgical in his sensibility and indebted to patristic tradition.

Schumacher, Michele M., ed., Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism, Cambridge: William B, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004.

This book shows how anthropology rooted in Scripture and the philosophy of Aquinas can overcome the dichotomies between humanity, sexual difference, and personhood. The authors articulate an integral philosophical and theological understanding of persons that moves beyond patriarchy on the one hand and traditional feminism on the other.

Papesh, Michael L., Clerical Culture: Contradiction and Transformation, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2004.

The author describes he origin and contemporary formation of the clerical culture as well as major contradictions in which today’s clerical culture is trapped. To transcend these crises, the author calls for a spiritual approach to cultural transformation through leadership: in holiness, in love and in justice.

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)