Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
Barcelona (Spain): Dominican Sisters Clarify They Will Stay in Iraq
The Dominican Sisters of the Presentation will stay in Iraq, explained Sister Nuria Gaza to ZENIT, clarifying recent reports that said they were leaving Mosul. Sister Gaza, who has lived in Iraq and now coordinates from Barcelona the aid to communities in that country, said “our sisters will never leave Iraq” because they are Iraqis and believe they have a mission in their land, not only toward Christians but toward the whole population.” The community of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation in Mosul has been deactivated because of threats, but it has not been closed, Sister Gaza said. “The young religious have gone to the north, to their families’ villages, and they go to Mosul every now and then to look after the house, accompanied by a man of the family,” said Sister Gaza. She had spoken over the phone with one of the women religious in Iraq. The Mosul community is one of seven the religious congregation has in Iraq. They have a university residence in Mosul run by young religious. (Zenit.org)
Geneva: Christian Leaders Urge Politicians: After Tsunami, Heed Climate
Two world church officials have urged political leaders to heed the danger that climate change could pose in triggering disasters after the killer tsunami that left a massive death toll in south and south-east Asia. There is no direct link between climate change and the tsunami, but the rise of sea levels due to climate change could pose as great a risk to low-lying areas as the massive sea waves, the church officials warned. “This is a time for humanity to try to see how global efforts can try to overcome a tragedy that has happened on a scale like this,” World Council of Churches’ general secretary, the Rev.Sam Kobia, told Ecumenical News International on Thursday. “We need to learn a few lessons of humanity,” he said. (ENI)
Geneva: Zimbabwe Pastors Take HIV Tests in Stand Against Prejudice
Twenty-seven Zimbabwean pastors from various Christian denominations have undergone a voluntary HIV test in a move aimed at removing stigma in the church against people living with HIV/AIDS. The pastors from churches in the townships of Tafara and Mabvuku in Harare became the biggest group of church leaders ever to take an HIV test in Zimbabwe. “Very often pastors are accused of preaching what they do not practise but now we have decided to lead by example,” the Rev. Lindani Dube, chairman of the Mabvuku-Tafara Pastors’ Fraternity, told journalists after the group of pastors went through counselling and testing on 27 November at a centre run by the Zimbabwe Aids Prevention Services Organization. “The pastors who have undergone the test are now empowered to deal with matters relating to HIV such as the sigma attached to carriers of the virus,” Dube said, “They can stand and speak from an informed point of view and can assist members overcome fear whenever they want to go for voluntary counselling and testing.” He added, “We are positive that a lot of church members will take a cue from their pastors and opt to know their HIG status.”(ENI)
INDIA: Christians Attacked in Rajasthan, Threats Against Bible Gatherings Continue Hindu militants have attacked young people traveling to a Christian Bible institute in Rajasthan state. On Feb. 19, about 250 Christians from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh came to attend classes at Emmanuel Bible Institute in Rajasthan's Kota town, 500 kilometers southwest of New Delhi. As they got off the train at about 4:30 a.m., some 200 slogan-shouting members of Hindu organizations reportedly surrounded them and roughed them up before taking them to a local police station. Railway police then confined the group, mostly tribal youth from Andhra Pradesh's Anantpur district, at the railway station until they put the Christians on a train back to their state that night. Bishop Samuel Thomas, president of Emmanuel Ministries International, said eight people sustained serious injuries in what he characterized as a "violent and unprovoked attack." The Hindu activists, who apparently had prior information about the Christian group's arrival, had been waiting at the rail station. Hindu organizations alleged that Emmanuel Ministries brought the youth to help convert tribal people in Rajasthan, a charge the Christian group denies. (UCAN)
Hales Corners, Widowers Who Are Seminarians Meet Regularly to Support One Another
Every month, a group of widowers gets together for a social outing such as a baseball game or a trip out of town. They say the monthly gatherings help them remember their wives and to support each other in their new lives…as seminarians preparing for the priesthood. Known informally as the Sacred Heart School of Theology’s widowers’ club, the group consists of 15 men from around the country who attend Sacred Heart’s national seminary. The Hales Corners seminary, operated by the Priests of the Sacred Heart, specializes in second-career vocations. (CNS)
Johannesberg: South Africa’s Tutu and Mbeki in Row After ANC called him ‘Sycophantic’
The former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu has become embroiled in an angry row with South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki over this charge that the ruling African National Congress party has become “sycophantic”. Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace laureate, complained in the annual Nelson Mandela lecture that 10 years after the ANC came to power, the culture of vigorous debate in the anti-apartheid movement had given way to an “uncritical”, sycophantic, obsequious conformity.” Tutu called for strong debate on various contentious issues including HIV/AIDS, black economic empowerment, affirmative action, transformation in sport, racism, xenophobia, violence against women and children, and Mbeki’s stated policy of quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe. The South African media interpreted it as an implicit rebuke of Mbeki’s failure to condemn Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Tutu said, “Surely human rights violations must be condemned as such whatever the struggle credentials of the perpetrator.” (ENI)
London: Apathy Marks British Approach to Religion, Survey Finds
A dramatic fall in religious belief over a generation has emerged from a major survey in Britain, with less than half of respondents expressing belief in God compared with more than three-quarters in 1968. “The national mood appears to be one of benign indifference,” noted Anthony Kig, a professor at Essex University, and the polling specialist of the Daily Telegraph, which published the poll by the YouGov research company. “Most people give the impression of regarding religion almost as a consumer good, one to be consumed by those who happen to have a taste for it,” king wrote in the newspaper after the survey found 44 percent of respondents expressed a belief in God compared with 77 percent in 1968. (ENI)
Lusaka: Zambian Clergy Note Increasing Islamic Influence in the Country
Some prominent church leaders in Zambia have expressed concern at what they see as increasing Islamic influence in the country because of Muslim groups providing food, clothes and other basic needs especially in poverty-stricken rural areas. “Many people flock to them because of their generosity in their almsgiving practice to the needy just as Christians are expected to do,” said the Rev.Baldwin Kandinda, the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa leader in Zambia. “But we in the Christian church, we seem not to be addressing this issue very much.” About half of Zambai’s 10 million people are Christians, and Muslims are estimated to account for about 1 per cent. Bishop Peter Ndhlovu of the Bible Gospel Church in Africa noted that some Zambian boys and girls were now wearing traditional Muslim garb and headscarves.” We are treading on the dangerous ground where we are seeing the sprawling of mosques, Muslim schools and orphanages all over the compounds around Lusaka,” said Ndhlovu. (ENI)
Lusaka: Some Zambian Clergy Hot Under the Collar About Islam
A war of words has erupted between some Christian clergy and Muslims in Zambia, a country that was declared a “Christian nation” in 1992 by its then President Frederick Chiluba, but which has a tradition of religious tolerance. Some Christian leaders have said Islamic proselytizers are taking advantage of Zambia’s dire poverty by giving gifts to woo people into becoming Muslims, which they see as unfair. Still, other church clerics have said that Islam is not a threat to Christianity. A United Church of Zambia Bishop in Eastern Province, Alex Mwalilino, was reported in the weekly National Mirror newspaper in December complaining that Islamic influence had penetrated the province because of the material support Muslims were offering to poor villages. Bishop Mwalilin was supported by Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa president, the Rev. Baldwin Kandinda, who said: “Many people flock to them [Muslims] because of their generosity in alms-giving to the needy.” But the Islamic Council of Zambia secretary general, Abubakr-Allan Rwabongo, urged the bishop to apologize to the Muslim community. (ENI)
Manila: Economists, Bishops at Odds Over Philippine Population and Poverty
Some of the Philippines’ top economists say the stance of the Roman Catholic Church on family planning is “too complicated and cumbersome” for the nation’s 86 million people, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. The Catholic Church has yet to officially respond to the 17 economists from the University of the Philippines who presented a 22-page paper, “Population and Poverty: The Real Score”, at a media briefing on 1 December, challenging the church to rethink its family planning and birth control policies. But speaking in his personal capacity, Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz took the economists to task, urging them to instead scrutinize how the government spends the citizens’ taxes and how it serves them. The economists had cited statistics showing that smaller families have better chances of sending their children to school and of taking better care of their health, and said poverty could be reduced through small families. “People are the wealth of a country. It is mismanagement of the national economy that makes them poor,” said Cruz, a former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. (ENI)
Nairobi/Bangkok: AIDS Calls for Holistic Response, Says HIV-Positive Anglican Cleric
Twelve years ago Canon Gideon Byamugisha, an Anglican priest from Uganda, stunned his fellow clerics and parishioners when he revealed his HIV-positive status. Now he travels the world, serving as a global role model and urging churches in Africa to help develop the right attitudes, skills, services and supportive environment to roll back the pandemic. Byamugisha is believed to have been the first religious leader in Africa to make public his HIV-positive status when in 1992 he announced he had the virus. It was a time when churches were consumed by denial about the phenomenon. Today, living on anit-retroviral drugs, Byamugisha campaigns for greater understanding about the pandemic and a more active response to those living with the virus. He has seen churches move away from denial towards acceptance. And he believes that as institutions that speak the people’s language, faith communities are cost effective in this task and usually make an impact. (ENI)
U.N.: The Fizzling Population Bomb
World population growth continues to slow down, with a projected figure of 9.1 billion in 2050, up from today's 6.5 billion. The latest forecasts were published Feb. 24 by the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In a study, "World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision," the U.N. agency foresees that almost all growth will take place in the less developed regions, where the actual population of 5.3 billion is expected to reach 7.8 billion in 2050. By contrast, the population of the more developed regions will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion. In fact, the report calculates that currently 95% of population growth is taking place in the developing world. The Population Division sets out a number of forecasts for the future. According to the medium variant, which is held to be the most probable, by 2050 the population of the more developed countries as a whole would be declining slowly by about 1 million persons a year and that of the developing world would be adding 35 million annually. But, the report adds, estimates of future population growth depend on how fertility rates develop. The current fertility rate stands at 2.65 children per woman. This is about half the level of 50 years ago. And over the next half-century, in the medium variant, global fertility is projected to decline further to 2.05 children per woman. Adding half a child to this would result in a world population of 10.6 billion in 2050. And a rate of half a child less would lead to a population of 7.6 billion by mid-century. (Zenit)
USA: New Catholics Featured in Easter Television Special
This Easter Sunday promises good Catholic programming with the broadcast of a moving one-hour special on the adult spiritual journey. “Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism” will introduce viewers to some people who became Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in the Archdiocese of Seattle last year. The documentary follows people through the year long program of adult education and initiation into the Catholic community, culminating with their baptism by immersion at the Easter Vigil. It was taped on location at Seattle’s St.James Cathedral. The reasons these people chose to join the Catholic Church are varied, says Helen Oesterle, RCIA program director at St.James. (CAN)
Vatican City: Joint Working Group Between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches
“The future of ecumenism demands a return to the spiritual roots of the movement,” stated the Joint Working Group (JWG) between the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (WCC) at its meeting in the Orthodox Academy of Crete, Kolympari, Greece, 6-13 May 2004. Formed in 1965 following the Second Vatican Council, the JWG is charged with initiating, evaluating and sustaining the many forms of collaboration between the two parent bodies. Its members, most of whom are involved in pastoral and ecumenical ministries in different regions, are appointed by the World Council and the Holy See following each Assembly of the WCC. Led by the co-moderators, Archbishop Mario Conti (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow, Scotland) and Bishop Jonas Jonson (Lutheran Bishop of Strangnas, Sweden), this was the fifth and final meeting of the group appointed after the Eighth Assembly of the WCC in 1998. (Information Service)
Vatican City: Notification on the Book, Jesus Symbol of God
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, after careful study has judged that the book Jesus Symbol of God (Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 1999), by Father Roger, Haight, S.J., contains serious doctrinal errors regarding certain fundamental truths of faith. It was therefore decided to publish the Notification in its regard, which concludes the relevant procedure for doctrinal examination. The Notification reads, “As a consequence, until such time as his positions are corrected to be in complete conformity with the doctrine of the Church, the Author may not teach Catholic theology." (Zenit.org)
The board of directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America has expressed “profound distress” at the Vatican action condemning the book and banning Haight from teaching Catholic theology. (CNS)
Warsaw: Polish Lutherans Say ‘Some’ Women can Lead Services
Poland’s Lutheran Church, which does not ordain women as pastors, has told other European Protestant churches that female pastors from these churches can lead services in Poland following a statement that was seen refuting such a case. “Of course, women pastors from abroad can participate in and lead our services – the only issues are practical ones,” Marcin Brzoska, spokesman for the 90,000 member Lutheran church told Ecumenical News International, noting that in some cases language criteria would have to be met. (ENI)
Many Jesus Youth programmes have been taking place throughout the world in the past couple of months. The Jesus Youth of America hosted their first National Conference “Jesus Youth 2004’ at New Jersey from 26th – 29th December, 2004, where 587 young people from numerous status across the US participated. Three major JY Youth Conventions ‘Sunrise 2004’, ‘Golgotha 2004’ and ‘Revival’ were also held in Rajasthan, Nagpur and Delhi respectively during the month of November. A total of over 1500 youth participated in all the three programmes.
Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Athens
WCC, will hold a Conference on World Mission and Evangelism in Athens, Greece, from 9-16 May 2005 and the theme is “Come Holy Spirit, Heal and Reconcile: Called in Christ to be Reconciling and Healing Communities.”
CCA General Assembly Speakers
A number of excellent speakers have been invited to speak at the Christian Conference of Asia’s Twelfth General Assembly, which is to be held from 31 March to 6 April, 2005 in Chiang Mai Thailand.
The Holy Father’s Apostolic Letter entitled Rapid Development was promulgated on 24 January, 2005. It considers the challenges that the technology and communications pose to the Church which must make good use of these powerful means to continue her mission effectively.
Mohan Doss, SVD, Christ in the Spirit: Contemporary Spirit Christologies, New Delhi: ISPCK, 2005.
The author presents the complete picture of present-day Spirit Christology. Contemporary theological contributions on Spirit Christology are grouped into two models: Relativising Model and Integral Model. The presentation in both the models is comprehensive, careful and precise.
Victor Machado, ed., Society and Church: Challenges to Theologizing in India Today, Bangalore: Bharmaram Publications, 2004.
This volume focuses its attention on the journey a theologian is called upon to undertake, along which he/she is confronted with challenges, which make the going tough but keep him/her realize that he/she is a person of the Church and for the Church.
Joseph Eambil, The Eucharist, The Holy Spirit, and the Church, New Delhi: Intercultural Publications, 2004.
The author focuses on the pneumatological and ecclesiological dimensions of the Eucharist and succinctly depicts how the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, acts in three simultaneous ways in order to create the sacrament of the Eucharist.
L.Stanislaus, SVD, ed., How to Make Our Institutions Centers of Good News, Varanasi: CCBI Commission for Proclamation, 2005.
This is a small booklet which contains the proceedings of the Seminar which was organized by Catholic Conference of Bishops in India at Ishvani Kendra in August, 2004. The papers and the Conclusions have some valuable insights on the theme.
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