32

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

August / 2005

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Cairo: A Catholic Priest in Cairo supports the Pro-Family Demonstration in Spain

“As an Egyptian Christian I express solidarity with the organizers and participants at the pro-family demonstration in Madrid” Catholic Egyptian priest in Cairo Fr.Samir told Fides with regard to the June 18 pro-family demonstration in Madrid, organized by the Spanish Family Forum which has the full support of the Church and society in Spain. “We Christians in Egypt are a minority in a Muslim country. One characteristic which distinguish Christians from Muslims in Egypt is the indissolubility of matrimony, Fr.Samir told Fides. “Although the law in Egypt (Islamic) allows a husband to repudiate a wife, Catholics in Egypt do not divorce”. (FIDES)

China: Precious Contribution Offered by the Prado Institute for the Formation of Priests and Religious in China Underlined

“I think we and the Church in China are building a relationship of reciprocal trust, understanding and acceptance and ever deeper esteem” said Rev.Robert Daviaud. “For ten years we have offered a humble service of brotherhood, faith and evangelization. We are invited to national and regional seminaries in Xi An (Shaan Xi), Wu Han (Hu Bei) and He Bei, to help form spiritual directors and advise them on the best way to teach seminarians the faith. Prado Institute was founded in 1856 in Lyons by Blessed Chevrier. Today it has 1,250 associated diocesan priests who work in 50 different countries mainly in the field of formation and spiritual guidance in seminaries and parishes. (FIDES)

Cologne: 26,000 Homes Open Doors to World Youth Day

World Youth Day organizers reported that 80,000 lodging spaces in private homes are available for participants of the event. A housing campaign was launched last July in view of the 2005 World Youth Day, which will attract young people from all over the world to the German archdiocese, to meet with Pope Benedict XVI. Since the start of the campaign, 26,430 people have contacted the office to offer a total of 80,000 spaces in private homes for the participants. “This hospitality is fascinating: we thank all those who are opening the doors of their own homes,” said Hermann-Josef Johanns, manager of the WYD office. To date, 3,70,000 participants have registered for World Youth Day. (Zenit.org)

Colombo: Churches Hail Sri Lanka’s Pact with Rebels for Joint Tsunami Relief

Church leaders in Sri Lanka have welcomed an agreement between the government and Tamil rebels to allow international aid to reconstruct tsunami-hit areas under rebel control as an opportunity to unlock the stalled peace process. Senior government officials and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) signed a memorandum on 24 June to establish a “joint mechanism” despite protests from groups and parties representing the majority Sinhalese population. “This is another step for peace,” said the Rev.Jayasiri Peiris, general secretary of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka. Peiris noted that the president had convened a conference of 1500 senior Buddhist monks to support joint relief and rehabilitation work in the Tamil rebel-controlled areas from the US$3 billion international assistance pledged for tsunami reconstruction in Sri Lanka. (ENI)

Geneva: Religious Minorities look to Inter-Faith Dialogue

Inter-faith dialogue is ever more crucial especially for religious minorities, in an increasingly violent, intolerant and globalized world, says Bishop Samuel Azariah from Pakistan, where Christians account for less than 3% of the predominantly Muslim population. “As a religious minority, we did experience a backlash as a reaction to the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine,” said Azariah, who heads the Church of Pakistan in a country where Christians have experienced violent attacks in recent years. “We are often misunderstood due to our colonial origin, and we are considered as ‘representatives’ of the West.” Only a small fraction of individuals participate in dialogue with the Muslim majority in an equal relationship and with confidence,” said Azariah. “Therefore, the dialogue does not seep through to the grassroots level, and the common Christian remains in the same insecurity and fear.” Bishop Samuel, speaking for the Christian community in Pakistan, spoke of the need to “increase our capacity to listen and reduce our preaching”. He added, “We all need to recognize that the power of God is at work in all our communities.” (ENI)

Geneva: WCC Leader wants Geneva Centre to Promote Inter-Faith Links

The World Council of Churches has inaugurated a new Ecumenical Research Centre near Geneva that it hopes will help build bridges and promote understanding between the different religions and peoples of the world. “The world has become a global village, and the phenomenon of religious plurality can no longer be ignored,” said WCC general secretary the Rev.Samuel Kobia at the inauguration of the centre. “At a time when multi-faith living is increasingly becoming a reality in Europe and the rest of the world, it will be appropriate for this centre to include the participation of scholars and people of other faiths as well.” The new research centre is housed at the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute at the Bossey Chateau, in the Swiss countryside about 20 kilometers from Geneva. The library contains more than 130,000 books, periodicals, and thousands of unique archival documents, photos and videos covering the history of the ecumenical movement from the 19th century to the present. (ENI)

Hong Kong: Online School Offers New Option for Evangelizers

“Friends of Jesus’ Passover” (FOJP), an informal network of young people and overseas Chinese, opened the first online evangelization school for ethnic Chinese Christians on May 15, Pentecost Sunday, at St.Paul’s Convent School. Italian priest Fr. Giovanni Giampietro of the Pontifical Foreign Missions Institute (PIME), the force behind the initiative, officiated the ceremony with Fr.Dominic Chan Chi-Ming, vicar general of Hong Kong diocese. Fr. Giovanni said the school’s two-fold mission is to train Christians to do evangelical work and to preach the Gospel message to non-Catholics. The internet-based school took three years to set up and now has close to 600 ethnic Chinese students from 22 countries including Brunei, Canada, Malaysia and the United States. The program lasts two years. The first year is devoted to studying the Bible, Church documents, history of evangelization, situation of evangelization in Asia, Asian religions, liturgy and the media. The second year involves hands-on work either in the student’s country or somewhere in Asia. (UCAN)

India, Indore: Cause of Sr.Rani Maria: Notary Appointed

Bishop George M. Anathil, SVD of Indore has appointed Fr.Rajesh Abraham Anathil, the Notary for the diocesan inquiry concerning the martyrdom of the Servant of God Sr. Rani Maria Vattalil. After having received favourable reports from the Theological and Historical Commissions, appointed to go into the writings, life and activities of Sr.Rani Maria, Bishop Anathil declared the Cause officially opened on 29 June, 2005. The Bishop calls upon anyone who may have useful information regarding the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God, Rani Maria Vattalil, to bring such documents, materials or information to his attention.

Jerusalem: Lutheran Leader in Holy Land Urges Respect for Quran

The leader of the Lutheran Church in the Holy Land has urged greater tolerance between Jews, Muslims and Christians and for mutual respect for each religion’s holy sites and books. Bishop Munib Younan, the Palestinian head of the world’s only Arabic-speaking Lutheran Church, issued the statement following allegations about copies of the Quran being desecrated by US and Israeli jailers. Bishop Younan said: “No one has the right to desecrate the sacred writings of any religion for any purpose. To desecrate the Holy Place or Holy Book of one is a desecration for all. To violate any Holy Place is an assault on all people of Faith. To insult the teaching of any is to scorn the teachings of all three Monotheistic religions.” (ENI)

Madrid: “Families and Catholics in Spain have taken to the Streets and There is Talk of a World Campaign to Protect the Family”

“We can say that there are positive and negative aspects” Eduardo Hertfelder, President of the Spanish Institute for Family Policies IPF with regard to the present situation in Spain since amendments to the law introduced by the government to give homosexual unions the same status as marriage was passed by parliament. “The positive aspect is the reaction of the people. The pro-family demonstration on June 18 was a great success. Neither we nor the government expected such a united reaction. Families and Catholics in Spain have taken to the streets no longer afraid of feeling ashamed to be in public. The government thought it could make these reforms without meeting opposition but thank God there is reaction from society, movements and the Church. This law will change the constitution which up to now says every person has the right to life. Whereas the new law considers the mother’s right to abort more important than the unborn baby’s right to live. We are pressing the Popular Party to launch an appeal: it is the only one which can do so because it can rely on the 50 members of parliament necessary for appealing to the Constitutional Court”. (FIDES)

Malaysia: Poster Competition

A poster competition on the theme “The Communications Media: At the Service of Understanding Between Peoples” in conjunction with World Communication Day (WCD) 2005 was organized by Signis Malaysia. The aim is to increase creativity and artistic participation in WCD, and to create greater awareness that posters are effective media of communication. The organizers hoped to draw the best concepts and ideas in order to create a single, yet plural message that will capture the communication realities of Asia. (CN)

Manila: Philippine Catholic Bishops’ Soften Clamour for Arroyo to Quit

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has slowed the momentum of calls for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down over accusations of vote rigging and charges of illegal gambling payments that implicate her family. In a pastoral letter on 10 July the bishops said they would not join the clamour demanding the resignation of the embattled president. However, they advised the president to ponder what her opponents were demanding and how it related to good governance in the country. This predominantly Roman Catholic southeast Asian nation of 87 million had awaited the bishops’ position on the worst political crisis Arroyo has faced, especially after 10 of her cabinet members resigned last week and after influential groups called on her to step down. Arroyo thanked the bishops for their “guidance and wisdom”, hailed their moderation and temperance “at this time of national soul-searching”. Despite the bishops’ declaration, opposition leaders said they would press on with their campaign for the president to resign and asked that the bishops join the opposition call “in the coming days”. (ENI)

Nairobi: Kenyan Education Pioneer Who Began as Colonial Soldier Dies at 72

Dr.Geoffrey William Griffin, a Kenyan educationalist born to a British family and seen as a “father” to thousands of orphans in Kenya, died aged 72. Griffin served in the British army during Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising against colonial rule in the 1950s, but became disillusioned and in 1959 he founded a centre in three tin huts for boys orphaned during the conflict. The institute became one of Nairobi’s top schools, the Starehe Boys Centre, admitting poor boys from across Kenya. From the three tin huts, Griffin and two former Mau Mau activists, Joseph Gikubu and Geoffrey Geturo, started the centre with only seven street boys. By 2005, a total of 12,000 pupils had been educated at Starehe, which now enrolls 1,000 boys each year. Griffin lived to see the fulfillment this year of his ambition to found a similar institution for girls. “We thank God Griffin lived to witness the birth of the Starehe Girls Centre, which had been part of his dream for more than 40 years,” said Dr.Eddah Gachukia, a trustee of the girls school. (ENI)

Ohio: Divided US Court Continues 10 Commandments Display Struggle

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a Ten Commandments display inside Kentucky courthouses is unconstitutional and must be taken down while a Ten Commandments monument outside the Texas state Capitol can remain. The move signals a deeply split court on the issue of separation of Church and state and proves “the judges are agonizing over the issue the same way that people in society are,” according to one US specialist in constitutional law. In lower House of Representatives has a chaplain. US coinage includes the phrase “In God We Trust”, and the Supreme Court begins its sessions with the phrase, “God save this honourable court”. All of this is accepted, Schneider said, yet the First Amendment of the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” and the court has traditionally interpreted this to mean government actions must have a secular purpose, as argued in the Texas case. (ENI)

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

Eighteen poets from Kasur (Pakistan), Rome and New York converged in Gulberg, Lahore to participate in a poetry session organized by the Pakistan National Catholic Literature Board (NCLB) to honour the late Pope. Renowned Muslim poet, Munir Nizai, read out several poems praising the “peacemaker Pope. (SAR NEWS)

Philippines: Divine Word Fathers Starts FM Radio Station

The Divine Word Fathers in Cebu, southern Philippines revised the program format of their FM radio station on November 8, 2004 now featuring soft rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues music. “Word Broadcasting Corporation” housed in the society’s own University of San Carlos campus competes with 23 other FM radio stations operating in the province with roughly 2.3 million population. Inspite the competition, station manager Fr.Peter Coching, SVD says “our new rocking presence is slowly being felt in the broadcasting market environment.” Local advertisers have come in, since operations started late last year, he added.

Rome: Muslim Leader Backs Pope’s Plea to Terrorists

The president of the Muslim League in Italy described as “noble” Benedict XVI’s call to terrorists to give up violence. “God loves life, which he has created, not death. Stop, in the name of God!” the Holy Father exclaimed Sunday in his Angelus address. “Undoubtedly, it is a noble appeal, an appeal which we share,” Mario Scialoja said on Monday in statements on Vatican Radio. “Terrorism of Islam origin is a political plan. We, Muslims, cannot kill either in the name of God. God, as the Holy Father said precisely, loves life, not death,” stressed the Muslim leader. “Whoever invokes the name of God or religion, trying to hide behind religion to commit terrorist acts, in which innocent civilians lose their lives, blasphemes against his own religion and against the name of God,” he added (Zenit.org)

Korea, Seoul: Suicide Rate of Elderly Soars in Past Two Decades

Social changes, economic hardship and a minimal social welfare system have been blamed for driving increasing numbers of elderly South Koreans to suicide. The suicide rate among the elderly has surged by more than five times in the past 20 years, with the deaths accounting for 72.5 of every 100,000 deaths among those over 65 in 2003, according to the National Statistical Office. The global rate is 15 per 100,000. Social workers say older Koreans are falling foul of changing family structures as South Korea ha increasingly transformed from a society of extended families to nuclear families, with young people now less likely to take responsibility for their elderly parents. Older people living along are three times as likely to take their own lives as those living with others, and the breakdown of the extended family means increasing numbers of senior citizens are living alone. Aged men are 1.5 times as likely to commit suicide as women. (ASIA NEWS)

United States, Cincinnati: Study Bible Seeks to Reclaim African Heritage of Scriptures

As sales reach half a million, the Original African Heritage Study Bible is proving popular among black church-goers and stirring debate among biblical scholars in the United States. The text is that of the King James Version. But in contrast to traditional Bibles, it highlights and annotates the passages that refer to Africa or Africans. “We’re simply reclaiming our place in the Bible,” said the project’s general editor, the Rev.Cain Hope Felder, a New Testament scholar at the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC. The Bible includes maps showing Israel’s proximity to Africa and it has images of biblical characters – including Jesus and Mary – with dark skin and curly hair. The Study Bible defines Africa as including Egypt and what is now Israel and the Arab states. The Study Bible had proved popular, noted folder, especially among male African Americans in prison. He said, “We’ve gotten countless letters from prisoners explaining how this Bible has changed their lives.” (ENI)

II. INFORMATION

India, Gujarat: Gujarat Government Plants 84 Trees in Honour of Pope John Paul II

The Forest Department of Gujarat government is planting 84 trees in Honour of late Pope John Paul II. The move is part of the local tradition to plant trees in memory of departed Hindu religious heads. The 84 trees are said to represent the 84 years of the pope’s life on earth. (SAR NEWS)

Vatican: Pope Urges Wealthy Nations to Share Abundance with Poor Countries

Pope Benedict XVI urged the world’s wealthiest nations to share their abundance with poorer nations. “Our hearts cannot be at peace as long as we see our brothers and sisters suffering from a lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods” he said. The Pope’s comments came just a few days after the Group of Eight industrialized nations pledged to write off more than $40 billion of debt owed by the poorest nations. (CNS)

III. BOOKS

Samuel Hugh Moffett, A History of Christianity in Asia, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005.

Here’s the long awaited Vol.II of Professor Moffett. It makes available immense amounts of research in a readable engaging narrative. Through the four centuries that this volume treats, the author brings into dramatic relief, events that illustrate both the broad patterns and the vital details of the spread of Christianity.

Victoria Lee Erickson and Susan A. Farrell, Still Believing: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Women Affirm Their Faith, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005.

Women of three religious traditions affirm the power of faith to inform and illuminate. In these stories women show has faith structures their lives and how “Belonging” to a tradition remains meaningful.

Bradford E.Hinze and Irfan A. Omar, (ed.), Heirs of Abraham: The Future of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Relations, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005.

This volume shows that collaboration between Christianity, Judaism and Islam can work, that it is possible to foster mutual understanding and appreciation of the different traditions in practical ways. Readerswill learn much from this enlightened book.

Roy Lazar Anthonisamy and Peter Lang, Youth Violence and Pastoral Care Moderne Kulturen, Relationen, Band 4, Berlin: Bruxelles, New York Oxford, Wien, 2003.

With the help of pastoral reflection and an interdisciplinary approach, this book deals with the theory and practice of youth ministry in the context of violence and aggression among the youth.

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)