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ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

April 2 / 2005

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Boston (Massachusetts): Foot Washing on Holy Thursday to Include Women

Archbishop Sean O’Malley has decided that this year he will wash the feet of women and men during the Mass on Holy Thursday. The Archbishop angered some Catholic women last year by only washing the feet of men, the Boston Globe said. The Archbishop consulted with Vatican officials about the Holy Thursday practice, the newspaper said. The Vatican responded that although the “liturgical requirement is that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual,” he could make whatever decision he thought was best for Boston, said Ann Carter, a spokeswoman for the archbishop. The rubrics for Holy Thursday, written in Latin, clearly state that the priest washes the feet of men, “viri,” in order to recall Christ’s action toward his apostles. Any modification of this rite requires permission from the Holy See. (Zenit.org)

Cape Town: Zimbabwe Clergy Bribed to Keep Silent says Catholic Archbishop

Many clergy in Zimbabwe have been bribed into silence about human rights violations in Zimbabwe by the government of President Robert Mugabe, says the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube. The Archbishop, who is visiting South Africa said the church was divided by Mugabe “who used a strategy to buy certain churches and individual ministers and bishops”. In his own Catholic Church four of the bishops were critical of the administration while four were not. A similar situation applied to the Anglican church in his country, he said. Ncube noted on 28 February that initiatives by the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane, to appeal to Mugabe to talk to the opposition in his country had failed. He said many priests and pastors had been bribed – in return for their silence on human rights atrocities and government misdemeanors by being offered farms confiscated from white farmers. He, himself, had been offered a farm but had declined to take it. (ENI)

China: New Art of Evangelization

New works of beauty that speak the message of the Gospel are being installed in the windows of Shanghai’s 98 year old Gothic style St.Ignatius Cathedral. Local artist, Wo Ye, daughter of high ranking Party members and a convert to Catholicism, has taken on the huge task of completing the church’s 921 stained-glass windows. After studying religious art in Milan’s instituto Beato Angelico, Wo was asked by the bishop to restore the windows in the diocese’s cathedral, which had been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Assisting her are three young Chinese religious Sisters, who learned the skill on the job. The work will encompass 300 square meters of stained glass in both Chinese and Western styles. (SE)

Geneva: WCC United with World Bank, IMF in Poverty Fight, Not on Method

The World Council of Churches, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are all committed to eradicating poverty but they have sharp differences in understanding and resolving it, the general secretary of the WCC, Dr.Samuel Kobia said on 15 February. “The World Bank’s mission statement calls ‘for a world free of poverty’s through growth. The IMF is committed to poverty alleviation through financial stability and growth”, said Kobia in Geneva. “The World Council of Churches has always emphasized that poverty eradication can be achieved only by addressing injustice and inequality and the roots of this lie in the present unjust economic order.” Kobia noted that, “The final paper on Common Ground and Differences and the joint statement indicate that the World Bank and IMF will not shift from the concept of growth as the panacea to alleviate poverty. They claim that they are not mandated, nor do they have the expertise, to promote human rights which in their understanding is the task of the UN.”(ENI)

Geneva: World Churches Back Steps to Save Pacific from Submersion

World Church leaders heard from their counterparts in the Pacific that climate change for them is not theoretical, it is a matter of life and death. Responding to rising sea levels threatening to permanently submerge hundreds of Pacific Islands, the World Council of Churches Central Committee, endorsed steps to reverse disastrous effects of global warming. “We are just small dots in the vast Pacific Ocean,” said Selai Cati, a member of the Kiribati Protestant Church, during a presentation by the council’s 18 member churches in the Pacific. “Now is the time for us to become more visible or we will disappear.” She noted: “This (global warming and resulting climate change) is not a theoretical issue. For us it’s a matter of life and death. How much more can we adapt?” The Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which became international law on 16 February, is “a milestone”, Cati said, “but there are continued threats to the survival of our region that must be addressed.” The Pacific churches’ presentation also included discussion of the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the region and the continuing toll on Pacific islanders from 50 years of nuclear testing in the region by France, the United States and Great Britain. (ENI)

India: Anandpur (Orissa) - Hindu Activists Block Highway to Protest Conversion Activities of Missionary in Orissa

Angered by the alleged religious conversion activities of a Catholic businessman in a village in Orissa, hundreds of Hindu activists took to the streets and blocked the Anandpur-Bhadrak State highway for more than four hours, March 12. Reports reaching Bhubaneshwar, the State capital, said Mr. Prasanna Giri of Hatadihi Block in Anandpur was charged by the Bajrang Dal with converting the villagers to Christianity. They also accused him of distributing booklets on Jesus Christ and Christianity, with the support of fellow missionaries in the area. When the Bajrang Dal activists took out a protest rally against Mr. Giri, a small time businessman, the police swung into action and arrested two Bajrang Dal activists, Alok Sethi and Surendra Jena, on charges of taking out an illegal procession and staging a demonstration. The local MLA, Mr. Gourahari Nayak, tried to intervene and secure the release of the duo but his requests were ignored by the police, the reports said. (SAR News)

Korea: Seoul Archdiocese Launches Pastoral Council for Participatory Church

Seoul archdiocese has formed a pastoral council to foster communications among the archbishop, religious and laity to help the archdiocese develop as a Church of the people. Priests in archdiocesan offices and the archdiocesan synod implementation committee had recommended the council be formed. Its function is to communicate the Catholic community’s various pastoral concerns and opinions to the archbishop. The archbishop stressed he would especially like to listen to religious and laypeople through the council, pointing out that he has so far listened mainly to priests in the archdiocesan office. (UCAN)

Malaysia: TV ADS Against Violence

The NGO coalition “Peace Malaysia” runs a series of TV advertisements in Malaysia denouncing violence in the name of religion as un-Islamic. (UCAN)

Mongolia: Finding God Through Art

Painter and sculptor, Enkhtuvshin, 38, is one of 226 baptized Catholics in the young Mongolian Church. He has produced numerous status and pictures that adorn the three parish churches in Ulaanbaatar. Recently, after finishing a door relief in a Moscow church, Enkhtuvshin opened an exhibition that was featured on Mongolian national television. He was among the first 14 Mongolian Catholics baptized on Easter Sunday in 1994. “I used to make art for art’s sake,” Enkhtuvshin says, “I was trying to make art about God. Now, God and I make art together.” (UCAN)

Notre Dame, Ind.: Nun Ordered to Halt Gay Ministry Speaks at ‘Queer Film Festival’

Loretto Sister Jeannine Gramick was a featured speaker at the “Queer Film Festival” at the University of Notre Dame in February, despite the fact that she was censured by the Vatican in 1999 and ordered to cease all ministry to homosexuals. Additionally, a 2004 documentary film about Sister Gramick’s encounters with the Vatican was shown at the festival, even though she also has been told not to write or speak about the Church’s disciplining of her. In the film, “In Good Conscience,” Sister Gramick contends that homosexuality is an “innate instinct,” and that a “be, but don’t do” theology is unacceptable. The Church teaches that homosexual orientation is a disorder but not sinful, but that homosexual acts are always sinful. (CNS)

Philippines: Unity in God’s Word Manifested in the National Bible Week Celebrations

Filipinos, regardless of their religious persuasion, joined together to celebrate God’s Word during the National Bible Week, which started on January 24. The National Bible Week was spearheaded by the Philippine Bible Society, a non-stock, inter-confessional organization committed to the widest possible distribution of the Holy Scriptures in the country. The celebration was mandated by Presidential Proclamation Nos. 44 an 1067 signed by former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos respectively. This year’s celebration has a theme: “God’s Word: Foundation for Unity and Transformation.” (FABC Newsletter)

Thailand: Local Church Tackles Domestic Violence

Wife-beating is common among Thais, even Catholics, says Sopee Suksamran, a Church worker of the Catholic Bishops’ Commission for the Family. His commission conducts Family Renewal Seminars to help couples in the country’s 10 dioceses communicate and deal with marital issues and problems. Sopee said diocesan family commissions are organizing workshops on the family in schools or parishes, in accordance wit Thai bishops focus on the family for the remaining five years of their 2000-2010 National Pastoral Plan. The bishops’ declared 2004 the Year of the Family. The 2004 plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference also had a family theme. Redemptorist Father Phairot Somgnam admits that most religious and priests are not qualified to deal with family problems. “People look to us as their answer,” he said, “but all we have is our presence.” One way the Church can help curb domestic violence is through its marriage instruction programme for young Catholics planning to marry, Father Phairot said. He explained that in such sessions, the priest has to convey Church teaching on marriage and promote gender equality. (UCAN News)

Taiwan: Aboriginal Churches Opens Library to Quiet Children

The Holy Light Church of the Tayal Presbytery has opened a library in its newly rented 3-floor facility where children can stay while their parents are attending prayer services. Tayal Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church is a multi-ethnic church consisting of Taroko, Tayal and Bunum Aborigines as well as few Han people. (TCN)

Tokyo: Religions Mark Kyoto Accord to Stem Global Climate Change

An interfaith service in Kyoto Cathedral was one of many events to mark the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement signed in 1997 in the Japanese city that bears its name and which aims to slow global warming. “It will start with blowing a conch-shell horn and include silent prayers after representatives of different religions in the region ring a bell before marching to Yasaka Shinto Shrine,” said the Rev.Yukio Saeki, president of the interfaith group and chairman of the Kyoto Christian Council. The Kyoto accord is intended to stem rising temperatures that many scientists say will cause more storms droughts and floods and raise world sea levels. It requires developed countries to reduce their output of heat-trapping gases produced by industry, cars and power plants. More than 140 nations have signed the accord but not Australia, China, India, Saudi Arabia and the United States who fear it could damage economic growth. (ENI)

II. MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS

Contributions to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reached an all-time high in 2004 at US$ 326 million (provisional), exceeding for the first time the 1996 record of $300 million. A total of 166 countries contributed to UNFPA in 2004; the top six donors were the Netherlands, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Japan, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. “This remarkable level of support from Governments demonstrates their commitment to reproductive health and rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality”, said UNFPA Executive Director Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid. “These priorities were agreed upon at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and these investments are absolutely essential to save lives and reduce poverty in line with the Millennium Development Goals”, she added. (Population Headliners)

III. BOOKS

Min, Anselm, The Solidarity of Others in a Divided Word: A Postmodern Theology After Postmodernism, New York: T & T Clark, 2004.

Through a sympathetic critique of postmodernism, Anselm Min offers a new kind of postmodern theology that seeks to offer the solidarity of others in liberating praxis.

Morisy, Ann, Journeying Out: A New Approach to Christian Mission, London: Morehouse, 2004.

This book provides a transformational theory of action which supports community ministry. It demonstrates just how much society needs the churches.

Swamikannu, S., ed., Power, Truth, Money: A Postmodern Reading, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2004.

The collection of articles in this book put forward from different perspective the way in which truth, power and money are related.

Swedish, M and Dennis, M, Like Grains of Wheat: A Spirituality of Solidarity, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2004.

This is a book of hope, resilience, and life with authentic meaning. It is also what Christianity could be if only we would live it.

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)