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ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

November / 2005

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Beijing: Bans Internet Religious Information

Beijing announced new rules aimed at tightening controls over news posted on the internet in order to “protect the interests of the state”. News criticizing the state’s religious policies or preaching cultist or superstitious beliefs are banned. The announcement did not however give any date as to when the rules would come into effect. Mainland authorities already strictly control the media and use technology to filter and monitor internet content considered politically sensitive or pornographic. (Asia News)

France, Lyon: Revival of Living Rosary Around the World

Msgr Gilbert Garcera, PMS National Director of Philippines initiated the revival of praying the mission rosary by coordinating with the National Directors of Continental Representations. This was done during the annual Superior Council meeting held in Lyon, France. Praying the mission rosary reminds our responsibility of sharing the Good News with other nations. The said rosary is in five colours represented in each of the decades. The colour symbolism in the rosary is a gentle reminder on which to focus the prayer intention. The first decade (green colour) is dedicated to the people of Africa; the second decade (red colour) if for America; the third decade (white colour) is for Europe; the fourth decade (blue colour) is for the islands in the Pacific, and the fifth decade (yellow colour) is for Asia. (Asia News)

Germany: Protestants, Catholics in Germany Mark 450 Years of Peace Accord

Germany’s Protestant and Roman Catholic churches have jointly marked the 450th anniversary of the Peace of Augsburg, which for the first time gave official recognition to Lutheranism alongside Roman Catholicism. The agreement was intended to end fighting between supporters of the papacy and followers of Martin Luther, whose disenchantment with Rome set in train the events of the Protestant Reformation. The leader of Germany’s Roman Catholic, Cardinal Karl Lehmann described the Augsburg settlement as an appeal for the unity of the church, and said there was no alternative to the “path of ecumenism”. German President Horst Köhler urged a dialogue between religions and cultures to promote peace and stability. “Peace can be preserved only if we learn to be prepared to live with differences,” he said. (ENI)

Hong Kong: First Centre for Catholic Studies in Public University Inaugurated

The Centre for Catholic Studies, the first centre to promote Catholic teachings and research which come under the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was inaugurated Nov. 3. According to the Centre director Professor Lai Pan-Chiu, the Centre will invite foreign scholars under Catholic studies to do research, teaching and give public lectures. As students of the Catholic Centre would not necessarily be catholic, any Centre would treat topics related to Catholic students in a more “scientific”, “academic” and even “critical” way, he explained. According to Father Choy, the presence within the university of research, institutions have Buddhism, Daoism (Taoism) and Protestantism, as well as numerous academic depts., would allow direct exchanges between Catholicism and other religions and schools of thought. (UCAN)

India,Gujarat: Convert Preparations are on for massive kumbh mela celebrations in Dangs

The Gujarat Government and the Sangh Parivar are making large-scale preparations on the sly to celebrate the Kumbh Mela at Surbir in Dangs district in February 2006. According to local people, millions of rupees have been spent to build a temple on a hillock at Subir and provide other facilities in preparation for the mela and for re-conversion of local tribals who have embraced Christianity. Preparations are also afoot to bring about 50,000 sadhus from outside the district who will go to tribal villages and stay there and prepare the tribals for re-conversion. The tribals staying close to Subir temple have been told not to cultivate their land this season as they would be given grains. Their land would be required for the mela celebrations. The Hindutva propaganda is going on in full swing to convince the tribals that Ram and Sita stayed in Dangs district and Sabri (Dalit) woman is no other than one of their ancestors. “The missionaries working in Dangs are concerned but not worried about the development”, said a Jesuit priest who works in the area. (SAR News)

India, Delhi: Global Conference on Child Labour Hears About Abuse First Hand

Children from across the globe described histories of torture and abuse at the global conference on Child Labour held in New Delhi. More than 200 child labourers and their advocates from 30 countries attended the second Children’s World Congress on Child Labour and Education that addressed child labour, education, poverty, peace and security. According to estimates presented at the congress, about 246 million children labour around the world, 179 million of them in jobs that “endanger the child’s physical, mental or moral well-being”. Of 9.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 in Nepal, 2.6 million are said to be labourers. The congress adopted a declaration that urged international organizations to increase their support to programmes aimed at eradicating child labour, reducing poverty and achieving universal, free and high-quality education for all children. The activists also resolved to strengthen their network around the world to fight child labour. (UCAN)

Indonesia: Opened – First Marian Shrine

The long awaited grand opening of the Marian Shrine of Annai Velangkanni finally took place on 1 October, 2005, in Medan, the capital city of North Sumatra, Indonesia. It has been four years since the construction works of the shrine began. Thanks to the unceasing intercession of Blessed Mary, Our Lady of Good Health, known as Annai Velangkanni and the generous contributions of the devotees from Asian countries like Singapore, India, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia in particular, Fr. James Bharataputra, SJ has erected a marvelous building, a thing of beauty that will be a joy for ever. It is the only Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Health as an official place of pilgrimage outside of India.

Indonesia, Jakarta: Christians, Muslims Protest Forced Closure of Christian Workship Houses

Hundreds of people who rallied peacefully in downtown Jakarta to protest the recent closure of Christian worship venues asked the government to guarantee religious freedom and not inhibit it. A number of these worship houses were closed in July and August in West Java by Muslims under the banner of the Anti-Apostasy Movement. In opposition to this about 2,000 people – Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Church members as well as Muslims – marched three kilometers on 3 September from Hotel Indonesia Boulevard to the National Monument. Former President Abdurrahman Wahid took part in the rally riding in a wheelchair. Wahid said he regretted that in the present era of reform there are still many people who do not comprehend the paradigm of “Unity in Diversity”, Indonesia’s motto. (UCAN)

Jerusalem: Discovery of Relics at Holy Site May Fuel Tensions in Jerusalem

Archaeological finds have been unveiled in an underground tunnel near a disputed Jerusalem holy site in a move that may rile Palestinians who rioted when another part of the archaeological site was opened almost a decade ago. The archaeological finds are in an ancient tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount. The latest finds unveiled by archaeologists on 27 September include a Jewish ritual bath dating from the time of King Herod’s Temple, about two thousand years ago, as well as a wall that archaeologists said dated from the period of King Solomon’s temple, which was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians. The tunnel winds under Jerusalem’s Old City, starting near the Western Wall, the retaining wall of Herod’s temple compound, and ending in the Muslim Quarter. The Temple Mount shrine is one of the most sensitive issues at the heart of the Middle East conflict and is often the scene of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. (ENI)

Jerusalem: Israeli President to Meet Pope Benedict in November

Israel’s President Moshe Katsav will become the first Israeli head of state to meet the Pope during an official visit to the Vatican set for November that will highlight reconciliation efforts between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish people after centuries of hostility. The foreign ministry said Katsav will hold the meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on 17 November during a week-long visit to Italy. Israeli officials and Jewish leaders have been guests at the Vatican and met the current Pope and his predecessors but this will be the first such visit by an Israeli president, who holds a largely symbolic role in the country. Israeli officials said Katsav and the Pope will discuss programmes to improve cooperation between Israel and the Vatican as well as intensify interfaith dialogue between Jews and Catholics. In addition, Katsav will ask the Pope to intensify the Vatican’s involvement in fighting anti-Semitism throughout the world as-well-as to allow researchers access to documents in the Vatican’s archives. (ENI)

London: Archbishop Urges Britain to Back Sudan Peace Process

Cardinal Gabriel Wako, the Roman Catholic archbishop in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, is urging the British government to support the peace process in his country following the formation of a government of national unity. An estimated two million people died during a decades-long civil war in Sudan before a peace deal was clinched in Nairobi in January, paving the way for the formation of the government of national unity announced this month by President Omar el-Bashir. The civil war pitted the predominantly Arab and Muslim north against the south where Christianity and traditional religions are predominant. This conflict worsened following the imposition of Islamic Shariah law in 1983 by the government in Khartoum. The peace agreement does not touch on a separate conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region. Sudan was ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt from 1899 until achieving independence at the beginning of 1956. (ENI)

Nairobi: Missionary Group Distressed at Arrest of Belgian Priest in Rwanda

The Missionaries of Africa, or the White Fathers as they are known, have expressed distress at charges brought against the Rev.Guy Theunis, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest, whom Rwandan authorities have arrested, accusing him of inciting genocide when he served in the country in 1994. Rwandan State Security authorities arrested Theunis, aged 60, in the departure hall of the international airport in Kigali, as he was departing for Belgium after leading a non-violence training session for members of the White Fathers working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1994, Theunis had left Rwanda in one of the last planes evacuating Belgian nationals. He is accused of reprinting an article from Kangura, considered an extremist Rwanda magazine, in Dialogue, a church-backed magazine he edited. He is also accused of sending faxes in April 1994, which he co-signed, in which he is alleged to have propagated false information on the events in Rwanda at that time, where an estimated 800000 people were killed in 100 days. A number of Catholic priests have been prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania, charged with activities relating to the genocide. (ENI)

Seoul: Evangelizing Youth at Cyber-Cafés

How to share the Good News with young people of the third millennium, in this era of new technology? How to make a place of alienation like the internet become a channel of evangelization? How to use IT to build communication among people physically distant? These questions which Korean Salesian Fr. Stephen Yang is trying to answer all this ‘Cyber-café’ opened five years ago. It is proving to be a great success and draws over 5,000 frequent visitors, Christians and non-Christians many of whom have found their way to Christ. ANS Salesian bulletin says the priest’s cyber-space Chong Jin Am is at the address http//café.daum.net/ggreen. Fr. Stephen aims to promote Catholic presence in Korea’s cyber-space where there are all sorts of messages and to encourage contact among parishes and beyond: Chong Jin Am encourages sharing of experience. Christian witness and prayer; it also organizes activities, which are not on line: actions of solidarity, helping the needy in collaboration with Catholic institutions. (FIDES)

USA, Washington: Young Adult Catholics Find New Paths

Young adult Catholics are discussing theology at bars, volunteering at homeless shelters and food kitchens, getting together for Eucharistic adoration or to discuss Catholic classics; attending retreats or simply hanging out together. A survey conducted by the US Bishops’ Subcommittee on Youth and Young Adults from May to June of this year found that the Church’s outreach to young adults spans a variety of activities and that the most popular programs included retreats, Theology on Tap programs, leadership training and social activities. (CNS)

Vatican City: Meeting Between Benedict XI and Hans Kung

On September 24, a discussion took place between His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and Professor Hans Kung of Tubingen, Germany. The discussion concentrated on two subjects that have lately had particular importance in Hans Kung’s work: the question of ‘Weltethos’ (world ethics) and the dialogue between the reason of the natural sciences and the reason of Christian faith. Professor Kung emphasized that his project of ‘Weltethos’ is by no means an abstract intellectual construct, rather it throws light on the moral values around which the great religious of the world converge, despite all their differences, and which may be considered as valid criteria – given their convincing rationality – by secular reason. The Pope reaffirmed his agreement with Professor Kung’s attempt to revive the dialogue between faith and the natural sciences, and to assert the reasonableness of the need for ‘Gottesfrage’ (the question of God) to scientific thought. For his part, Professor Kung expressed his praise for the Pope’s efforts in favour of dialogue between religions and towards meeting the different social groups of the modern world. (VIS)

Warsaw: Russian Bishop Urges Catholic-Orthodox Pact to Fight Secularism

A Russian Orthodox bishop has appealed for a European Roman Catholic-Orthodox alliance to combat what he described as secularism, liberalism and relativism. “Europe has so rapidly de-Christianized that urgent action is needed to save it from losing its centuries-old Christian identity,” said Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna and Austria, the Russian church’s representative to the European Union). He said the alliance should bring together representatives of Europe’s Roman Catholic bishops’ conferences and self-governing Orthodox churches, and seek a “common position on all major social and ethical issues,” including the family, sex and bioethics. (ENI)

Zambia: Launches Four New Stamps in Honour of Jesuits

The Zambia Postal Services Corporation has launched four new stamps to mark the centenary of the Jesuits’ presence in Zambia. One stamp pictures Ignatius, while another depicts Fr.Joseph Moreu, a French Jesuit who in 1905 established Chikuni Mission in the Southern Province of Zambia. The third picture Fr. Jules Torrend, who accompanied Fr. Moreau to Chikuni and then established Kasisi Mission near the present-day Lusaka International Airport. The fourth stamp pictures the late Bishop Paul Lungu who joined the Jesuits in 1969. (Jivan)

II. INFORMATION

Rare Hebrew Manuscripts From Vatican on View in Israel

In honor of the Israel Museum’s 40th anniversary, the Vatican Library has loaned four illuminated Hebrew manuscripts from its collection, which have never been shown to the public in Israel. Among them is a richly illustrated 15th century manuscript of the Mishnah Torah, the text of which was written in the 12th century by the Rambam, Maimonides. (Zenit)

Vatican Radio in Southern Asia Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Service

Vatican Radio marks the 40th anniversary of its service to spread the Gospel in Asia at the service of the Pope and the peoples of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Vatican Radio broadcasts to an average audience of 20,000 regular listeners and publishes a monthly bulletin in English, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam circulated in more than 100,000 copies. It also has a web page where listeners can download programmes. Subjects covered by programmes of information and formation include religion and spirituality as well as social and moral issues. It succeeds in sowing the seeds of peace and justice in Asia. (FIDES)

New Website for Christian-Muslim Interaction
                              www.answers-to-muslims.com

III. BOOKS

Robert J.Kisala (ed.), Urbanization and Mission: In Asia and the Pacific, Manila: Philippines, Logos Publications Inc., 2005.

The book is a collection of some of the papers delivered at a symposium held on the title of the same book. Urbanization will necessarily affect all aspects of Christian Mission. Urbanization is accompanied by rapid social change, with important implications for the religious life of the people.

Paul F.Knitter, (ed.), The Myth of Religious Superiority: A Multifaith Exploration, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2005

Leading exponents of the idea that all religions are a refraction of a truth no single tradition can exclusively reveal. This is discussed by various scholars taking the next step in interreligious interchange: the development of the multifaith and pluralistic theology of religions.

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)