Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

June - 2005


Australia: Vocations Flourish in Australia, after the Decline in the 90’s

Vocations are flourishing in the ‘newest of the continents’ after a drop in vocations in the mid 1990. ‘Today the number of students in seminaries continues to rise’, said the Australian Catholic Bishop’s Conference. This turn around had happened in all seminaries all over the country. Seminarians in all the dioceses of Australia are admitting ever higher number of students. This tendency is promising for the future of the Australian Church and society in the years ahead. Local Catholic sources say the increase in vocations is a fruit of renewed and intensified youth pastoral work which has been a priority for the Church in Australia in the last decade. (Fides)

Bolivia: Dialogue Urged in Bolivian Conflict Pope Makes Plea for Strife-torn Nation

Benedict XVI encourages responsibility and dialogue in resolving the social conflicts that have paralyzed Bolivia. Massive street protests and road blockades have brought the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, to a virtual standstill since May 16. The demonstrators are demanding nationalization of the oil industry, and a new constitution that would give indigenous people greater participation in society. Given the dramatic situation, Bolivian bishops offered to serve as mediators to establish an agenda and initiate dialogue between the authorities and political and labor leaders. This is the gravest crisis in Bolivia since 2003, when protests aggravated by an oil dispute left 56 people dead and forced the resignation of President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, (Zenit.org)

Canada, Montreal: Jean Vanier to Receive Prestigious Knights Award

Jean Vanier received the Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus April 2. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson was in Montreal to present the award to the founder of L’Arche at a banquet at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Knights from across North America were expected to fly in for the event. The Gaudium et Spes Award is the most prestigious honor of the Knights of Columbus, recognizing individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the Church. This is the first time a layperson is receiving the award. The first was conferred to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1992. Other recipients include United States Cardinals James Hickey and John O’Connor, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah. (CAN)

China: Catholics Look for Reconciliation as Sino-Japanese Relations Hit Low Point

Catholics in China and Japan hope self-reflection and mutual understanding can reconcile the two governments and their peoples following anti-Japan demonstrations in more than 20 Chinese cities. The furor surrounds a controversial Japanese textbook that protestors say glosses over Japanese wartime atrocities in Asia. Chinese Catholic students in Japan at the Jesuit China Center, a pastoral center for Chinese Catholics, said historical issues deeply affect China-Japan relations, so the problem could be solved only by mutual understanding, the university students added. On 5th April, the Japanese Education Department approved a history textbook that avoids the use of the word “invasion” in referring to Japanese military occupation of Asian countries in the first half of the 20th century. The textbook also refers to what the Chinese call the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, in which 300,000 civilians were reportedly slaughtered by Japanese troops, as the “Nanjing incident”, in which “many” Chinese were killed and injured. At the summit, Koizumi made a public apology for Japan’s post atrocities in Asia, while Beijing urged Japan to “match words with action”. Church people in China and Japan also called for mutual understanding and respect. (UCAN)

East Timor: Thousands Protest Government’s Move Making Religion Classes no Longer Compulsory

Protestors backed by the Catholic Church have demonstrated in Dili against a government move to make religion classes optional in Timor Leste (East Timor) schools. Some 2,000 Catholics, Protestants and Muslims protested 19 April for a return to the government’s former educational policy of religion being a compulsory school subject. The protesters carried images of the Blessed Mother and prayed the rosary led by Fr.Domingos Soares, spokesperson of Dili diocese. “We will continue until a solution is found for the future of Timor Leste,” the priest said. The crowd demanded Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri’s resignation for his government’s “dictatorial” policies regarding religion. (UCAN)

Geneva: Christianity’s Move to the South ‘Not Matched by Power Shift’

Churches are growing fastest in the southern hemisphere but power remains in the hands of the north, a global gathering of leaders from most Christian traditions has said after an 8-day meeting near Athens. “While the centres of power are still predominantly in the global North, it is in the South and the East that the Churches are growing most rapidly, as a result of faithful Christian mission and witness,” said a statement at a Conference on World Mission and Evangelization organized by the World Council of Churches. The statement noted that race, caste, gender and disability discrimination persist in churches. For the first time at a WCC mission conference there were full delegates from the Roman Catholic Church as well as from Evangelical and Pentecostal groups and churches, alongside the Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox Churches that belong to the WCC. The theme of the meeting was “Come, Holy Spirit, heal and reconcile”. The statement stated, “We have become conscious of our own tendency to reinforce barriers by excluding and marginalizing on grounds such as race, caste, gender, disability or by tolerating the continuation of oppressive practices within our own societies and our own churches.” (ENI)

Geneva: Religious Leaders Urge World Trade Organization, ‘Promote Fair Trade’

World Council of Churches general secretary the Rev.Samuel Kobia on 13 April went to the World Trade Organization and presented a petition signed by more than 180 religious leaders seeking to change the rules that govern international trade. ”We seek a world where global trade systems give priority to people who live in poverty,” said Kobia. The petition urged governments to change international rules and practices that govern trade to give priority to human rights and protection of the environment, and to the eradication of poverty. “The biblical standards for economic activity are justice and taking the side of the poor,” Kobia said. “This vision should not be reduced to mere equality of opportunity for all individuals to compete without hindrance.” The petition states, “We believe that trade must promote human well-being, sustainable communities and economic justice, and that governments must be able to set trade policies to safeguard the rights of all people, especially those living in poverty.” (ENI)

India, Mangalore: AIDS Patients Find Haven in Southern Indian Village

A program that Hindu villagers in Karnataka state run for people living with HIV/AIDS has impressed many Church people. The coastal village near Mangalore, a port town, hosts regular camps for people from outside who have been infected with HIV. Chitrapu's nearly 100 families are all Hindu, with the exception of a few Christian and Muslim families. On March 20, the village formed Gajani Foundation, run by representatives from the three religions, to provide social support to people suffering from HIV/AIDS. The village is in the territory of Mangalore diocese. After a recent visit to the village, Bishop Aloysius Paul D'Souza of Mangalore hailed it as "a role model for the entire world." Father William Martis told UCA News June 1 that the village has set "a new trend" among AIDS rehabilitation programs in India. An HIV-infected widow told UCA News that the moral support her network provides people like her is from their own "closed group." She identified social ostracism as the most painful side of HIV/AIDS, but said that "Chitrapu has removed that fear." (UCAN)

Jerusalem: Palestinians Urge Pope Benedict to Strengthen Christian-Muslim Ties

Palestinians who have seen Israeli leaders praise the new pontiff have urged Pope Benedict XVI to make the establishment of a Palestinian state and stronger Christian-Muslim ties priorities of his papacy. “The Palestinian cause is a humanitarian issue. The Pope needs to give this issue special attention and support it,” said Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, a top Palestinian Muslim cleric. I hope the new pope will help the Palestinian people in the Holy Land live in peace and in their own state,” said Gomana Handel, a Bethlehem resident. “We want peace for all people who live in this land.” (ENI)

Lahore (Pakistan): Muslim, Christian Poets Sing Hosannas to Pope John Paul II

Christian and Muslim poets from three nations sang poems appreciating the peace efforts of Pope John Paul II. Eighteen poets from Kasur (Pakistan), Rome and New York converged on Gulberg in Lahore, May 13, 2005 to participate in a poetry session organized in honour of the late Pope, by the National Catholic Literature Board, Pakistan. Renowned Muslim poet, Munir Nizai, read out several poems praising the “peacemaker Pope”. He especially thanked the print and electronic media for giving wide coverage to the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Meetings such as this will help us fulfil the dream of Pope John Paul II who was a great champion of dialogue and harmony among religions, said the NCLB executive secretary, Capuchin Father Francis Nadeem. (SAR)

Rio De Janeiro: Sects Seen as a Cultural Challenge in Latin America According to Cardinal Poupard

Sects are perhaps the most important "cultural challenge" facing the Church in Latin America, says a Vatican official Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Responses to the questionnaire on the state of faith and unbelief, the cardinal said, "showed the diminution in militant and theoretical atheism in the same measure as the growth of an 'a-confessionalism' or a 'light' form of Christian life." According to Cardinal Poupard, religious sects are the penultimate link in a chain that ends in indifference. That chain, he said, "begins with the absence of an answer through religious experience to the problem of the meaning of life." This phenomenon is due to "a compulsive search for transcendence," he said, "and rejection of any authority that does not justify itself by being emotionally close." According to the Vatican representative, the presence of religious sects is evidence of the need to recognize that many Catholics have not had contact "with the proclamation of Christ Savior, with the gratuitousness of love and the transcendence of God." According to Cardinal Poupard, culture is transmitted through historical categories, which "consciously or unconsciously respond to the desire for happiness." We must not fear in the face of these challenges, the cardinal added. "The beauty of Christ," he said, "makes us capable not only of expressing ourselves in the language of our contemporaries but of communicating the indestructible life for which man yearns." (Zenit)

Rome: Holy See: Youth Most at Risk with Pornography

The young, who are the most frequent users of television and the Internet, are also the most vulnerable to the threat of pornography, says a Vatican official. The report revealed that two-thirds of Italian boys ages 15 to 18 access printed or online pornographic material, and it warned that a growing number of minors are being exploited on pornographic Internet sites. Given the spread of pornography, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications published in 1989 a document entitled “Pornography and Violence in Social Communications: A Pastoral Response.” Eurispes, the Institute of Political, Economic and Social Studies is a non-profit institution working since 1982 in the field of formation and political, economic and social research. (Zenit)

Rome: Russian Orthodox Leader Calls for Radical Changes Under Next Pope

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has called for “radical” changes in Vatican policies towards Russia after a new Pope is elected by the Conclave of Cardinals. “I believe the Catholic side should show a readiness to take on the difficult job of radically changing its policies in Russia and other neighbouring countries,” said Russian Orthodox patriarch Alexei II. Relations with Orthodoxy in eastern Europe has also been tense because of the revival of Greek Catholic churches, which combine the eastern liturgy with loyalty to Rome and are called “Uniates” by Orthodox leaders. (ENI)

Seoul: Catholic Priest Receives Doctorate from Buddhist University

In South Korea inter-religious dialogue goes ahead also at the cultural and academic level, as it can be seen by the experience of Father Thomas Kwak Sang-hun of Seoul archdiocese, recently awarded a doctorate in Research in Buddhism at Dongguk Buddhist University where he discussed his thesis on “Comparison between mercy in early Buddhist writings and charity in the synoptic Gospels”. The event was welcomed by both the Buddhist and Catholic communities as a fruit and example of collaboration between the two religious communities. Fr.Thomas told Fides he is sure his studies will be concrete use for missionary activity: “Today we are missionaries through witness of life, with actions of genuine love of neighbour. Mercy and charity are effective means of mission”. (FIDES)

Taiwan: Pope Accepts Resignation of Young Bishop Who Suffered Work-Related Stress

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of 52-year-old Bishop James Liu Tan-kuei from the pastoral care of Hsinchu diocese, four months after the bishop's installation there in northwestern Taiwan. He was auxiliary bishop of Taipei at the time of his appointment to Hsinchu. Archbishop Cheng told UCA News June 3 that he already has met with the diocesan consulters and appointed Monsignor Peter Chang Yao-hsien, the chancellor, as vicar general to administer general diocesan affairs until a new bishop is named by the pope. There will be no other changes in Hsinchu diocese, added Archbishop Cheng, who is also apostolic administrator of Kinmen and Matsu, two outlying islands.

Vatican City: Benedict XVI Condemns Nazism and Atheist Communism

The Holy Father attended a showing of the film “Karol un uomo diventato Papa” (Karol, A Man Who Became Pope) which was screened in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of several thousand people. Based on a script written by Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, the film covers the life of John Paul II until his election as bishop of Rome. Benedict XVI indicated that the film contained scenes that, “in their crudity, give rise to an instinctive feeling of horror in viewers, bringing them to reflect on the depths of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul. At the same time, evoking such aberrations cannot but give rise to all right-thinking people to a commitment to do all they can to ensure that such acts of inhuman barbarity are never repeated again.” Pope Benedict XVI asked, can we not see “a providential Divine plan in the fact that on the Chair of Peter a Polish Pope was succeeded by a citizen of Germany, where the Nazi regime affirmed itself with particular virulence, before attacking its neighbours, in particular Poland?” The Pope stressed how “nothing can improve in the world, if evil is not overcome; and evil can be overcome only through forgiveness. May the shared and sincere condemnation of Nazism and of atheist Communism serve as a commitment for everyone in building reconciliation and peace on the basis of forgiveness.” (Zenit)

Vatican City: Formation of Priests Is Key for Africa, Says Pope Urges Bishops to Select and Prepare Them Well

Among the priorities for evangelization, Benedict XVI urges the bishops of southern Africa to pay special attention to the selection and formation of candidates to the priesthood. The Pontiff encouraged the pastors of southern Africa "to select conscientiously candidates for the priesthood." Embracing celibacy "Likewise these young men should be formed with great concern to guarantee that they are prepared for the many challenges they will face, helping them manifest in word and deed the peace and joy of our Lord and Savior," the Pope said. He continued: "A world filled with temptations needs priests who are totally dedicated to their mission. Bishops should assist them by ensuring that "this gift never becomes a burden but always remains life-giving," the Holy Father added. "One of the ways this can be achieved is by bringing ministers of word and sacrament together for continuing education, retreats and days of recollection." (Zenit.org)

Vatican City: New Pope Benedict says Church Unity will be his ‘Primary Task”

Newly elected Pope Benedict XVI has pledged to do all in his power to promote the unity of Churches and reach out to other religions. The Pope said his “primary task” would be “that of working – sparing no energies – to reconstitute the full and visible unity of all Christ’s followers”. He said he was “aware that showing good sentiments is not enough for this. Concrete acts that enter souls and move consciences are needed”. Benedict said he was “fully determined to cultivate any initiative that might seem appropriate to promote contacts and understanding with representatives of different churches and ecclesial communities. He pledged to “continue weaving an open and sincere dialogue” with people of other faiths or those simply looking for an answer to life’s fundamental questions. (ENI)


The Decree on Ecumenism Forty Years from its Promulgation

The 40th anniversary of the Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio of the Second Vatican Council fell on 21 November 2004. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity celebrated by convening an international conference on the theme: The Decree on Ecumenism Forty Years After the Second Vatican Council – Developments and Lasting Significance – Present Situation and Future Perspectives. The conference was attended by members and consultors of the Council, as well as by the fraternal delegates of various Churches, Ecclesial Communities and international organizations, Presidents of the Ecumenical Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences and the Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches, Co-Presidents of the Joint International Dialogue Commissions, and special guests.

Vatican Releases Book on Rites for Every Moment of Conclave

To ensure the right atmosphere for the election of a new pope, the Vatican has published a book of rites and prayers to accompany the cardinals as they enter the conclave, vote, elect a new pope and introduce him to the world. The “Ordo Rituum Conclavis” (Rites of the Conclave) prepared by Italian Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal master of liturgical ceremonies, was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1998, but not released until after the pope’s death. The 343 page book with prayers in Latin and an Italian translation begins by noting that the election of a pope “is prepared for and takes place with liturgical actions and constant prayer.” The “Ordo” contains an appendix of 241 pages of texts of Masses with a special focus on the Holy Spirit, the needs of the universal church, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Sts.Peter and Paul, patrons of the Diocese of Rome. (CNS)


Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West, Grand Rapids, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.

This book is an essential reading for everyone interested in Missions. The author, characteristically provides plenty of supporting information, in a highly readable form and with the freshness of perspective. All interested persons, including experts, will find the book eye-opening.

Peter C. Phan, ed., Being Religious Inter-religiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue, New York: Orbis Books, 2004.

This is an exciting book that both reassures and challenges. The author shows both the necessity and the opportunity of being Christian inter-religiously. It offers us a wealth of reflections on issues facing Roman Catholics and Asian Christians in the post modern ethos.

Michael A. Hayes, ed., Mission and Evangelization, New York: Burns and Oates, 2004

The Church is Mission. This mission and the work of evangelization are explored in this book by 8 Cardinals. They offer a clarification and understanding of the terms ‘mission’ and ‘evangelization’. They call also for clarity in a Christian world-view.

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Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)