Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

March  / 2006


America: Fear of Poverty will Worsen

Nearly two-thirds of Americans fear that poverty will increase in the United States in 2006, says the latest Poverty Pulse survey by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Conducted among 1,131 members of the general adult population in December, the poll is the sixth yearly Poverty Pulse survey since 2000. Unlike the previous years, the December poll involved online questioning rather than telephone calls to gauge public opinion. Asked to name the single best way to permanently break the cycle of poverty in the United States, 28 per cent wanted living wages to low-income workers, 20 per cent responded better education for children, and 14 per cent said a better economy. Most people think that an increase in poverty will affect everyone. Asked to name the biggest social problem facing the U.S., the respondents ranked poverty third on the list, just below health care and racism. (Zenit)

Asia: Asian Mission Congress Takes Shape

In support for the Asian Mission Congress which will be held in Thailand from 16-22 October, 2006, the Comboni World Mission Magazine will publish a special issue September-October with statistics and reports on the Church concerns and mission in Asia. This publication will also serve as source for discussions during the Congress. There will be also special liturgical arrangements involving Asian cultures and mentalities. The Congress is organized jointly by the Thai Bishops’ Conference and the FABC Office of Evangelization in cooperation with other FABC offices and representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Asia. A special Asian Mission Prayer was finalized as a prayer for the Congress and beyond (UCAN)

Australia: Doctors Quit

At least 200 Catholic doctors have threatened to resign from the Australian medical associations that have endorsed the legal distribution of the abortion drug RU-486. “Not only does RU-486 always result in the death of an innocent human being, complications including maternal death make it totally unacceptable,” Dr.Terrence Kent, a spokesman for the Catholic physicians told the Courier-Mail.

Malawi, Blantyre: Shocked Malawi Churches Join to Rein in Domestic Violence

Disturbed at the rate of domestic violence underlined by the recent case of a wife having both arms chopped off by her husband, Church leaders in Malawi are joining hands across denominational lines to find ways to halt the scourge for their society. Leaders from the (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference of Malawi, the Malawi Council of Churches and the Evangelical Association of Malawi have met and agreed that gender-based violence is an issue the Church needs to take to the pulpit. (ENI)

Goa: Hindu Fundamentalists Desecrate Cross in Goa

Hindu fundamentalists broke a wayside cross in Cardona, a hamlet in Aldona, a well known tourist resort in the state of Goa. “The wayside cross was broken into four pieces and ‘Shri Pardesi’ (Mr. Foreigner) was boldly written across the cross,” said Fr. Loiola Pereira, director of the Diocesan Centre for Social Communications and official spokesman for Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao. Breaking the cross is far more serious: it offends the religious sensibilities of the Christian community. ‘Shri Pardesi’ written across the broken cross is even more revealing of their intent,” he lamented.

India, Bihar: Notre Dame Nun Gets Padma Shri Award

Notre Dame Sister Sudha Varghese was among 61 people chosen for the Padma Shri, a civilian award this year. The awards were announced on the occasion of India’s 57 Republic Day. Sister Varghese, a social worker from Bihar, is chosen for the fourth highest honour. The 52-year-old nun has worked among dalit (low caste) villages near Patna since the 1980’s. The schoolteacher-turned-activist nun is the founder president of the Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Party (all India women’s party) that was launched in January 2000. Her party fights for women’s equal participation in public life, for basic civic services, for environmental protection and for dalit Christians’ rights to government jobs. Sister Varghese is a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. She had also formed “Nari Gunjan”(women’s voice), a rural women’s group and self-help cooperative. (ICNS News)

India, Raipur, Chhattisgarh: Dalit Catholics Deserting Church

Missioners of Raipur Archdiocese in this Hindi belt have expressed deep concern over the Gada Dalits deserting the Catholic Church for fear of losing government benefits. “After some years, the Catholic Church in Fuljher area may disappear”, says Abraham Narayan, a senior Gada catechist from basna. The educated are joining the Protestant groups for employment reasons and the non-literate are becoming Hindus for fear of losing scholarships (made available under government reservations), he added. Though officially there are about 10,000 baptized Gadas in the seven parishes of the archdiocese, lately many have either turned indifferent to religious practices after the American Catholic Relief Services stopped aid, or have joined other Christian denominations for material benefits. (SAR News)

India, Varanasi: Quizzing Children on Religion

With an aim to facilitate acquiring of knowledge of different religions by school children and to inculcate in them a healthy attitude of respect towards and appreciation of all religions, Maitri Bhavan, an inter-religious dialogue centre in Varanasi, organized an Inter-Religious Quiz Competition on 30 Jan – Martyrs’ Day. Five school teams consisting of three members each vied with each other for top honours in this ‘first of its kind event in the city’. The Questionnaire was based on ten booklets in Hindi, supplied to them earlier, on ten religions namely, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Confucianism and Bahai religion. (M.Santiago)

Jerusalem: Dalai Lama Meets Israelis, But Palestinian Visit ‘Thwarted’

The Dalai Lama has met religious leaders during a visit to the Holy Land in which he carried a message of non-violence, religious tolerance and hope, but he was not able to carry that message over to Palestinians in Bethlehem. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists also urged Jewish and Muslim leaders to play a role in making peace between Israelis and Palestinians even if it meant talking to their most bitter enemies. “Any noble work is bound to have obstacles”, the Dalai Lama told religious leaders in a meeting on 19 February, “We need determination to pursue justice and truth.”(ENI)

Manila: Filipino Archbishop Vows to Speak Out Despite Arrest Threats

Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen in northern Philippines’ Dagupan province says he will continue to speak out despite arrests of government critics following a week-long state of emergency imposed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the end of February. “The most serious agenda as thrice already enjoined by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is the search for truth in the 2004 national elections,” Cruz said in a 6 March statement. He was referring to still unresolved allegations that Arroyo cheated in the 2004 presidential elections with the help from some military generals and electoral officials. (ENI)

Pennsylvania: Abortion and Depression

Interview with Theresa Burke of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries analyses the serious problem of a woman who goes through psychological stages in her relation with her unborn child as her pregnancy progresses – a factor often overlooked in the abortion debate. In her two-part interview with Zenit, Burke discusses the relationship between a woman and her unborn child, and the link between Abortion and Depression. This problem over a past abortion is an often hidden and ignored link that needs to be addressed, says a counselor who deals with post-abortion trauma. She explains how depression is a natural effect of abortion that may erupt years later. Rachel’s Vineyard organizes weekend retreats for those struggling with the emotional or spiritual pain of an abortion. (Zenit)

Philippines: Church Offers Shelter, Assistance in Wake of Tragic Landslide

Despite difficult conditions, Philippine parishioners remain hopeful as they help survivors and aid rescue efforts following a landslide in the central Philippines, Church officials say. On the morning of Feb. 20 the Office of Civil Defence-National Disaster Coordinating Council reported 415 survivors were pulled from the rubble in Guinsaugon village, about 625 kilometers southeast of Manila. The social welfare department reported that 1,324 people are being housed in three evacuation centers and 3,000 other families are being assisted outside the centers. Other people have reportedly moved in with relatives. (UCAN)

Porto Alegre: North and South Koreans Pray in Brazil for Unity

North and South Koreans have prayed together with world church leaders for the peaceful reunification of their divided country and are urging the World Council of Churches, the world’s largest grouping of Christian denominations, to give that process a boost. They prayed in the chapel of the Pontifical University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre during the WCC’s ninth assembly, the council’s highest governing body which meets once every seven years, taking place in 2006 for the first time in South America. (ENI)

Rome: Neocatechumenal Families: The New Missionaries

After Benedict XVI sent some 200 families of the Neocatechumenal Way on mission, the Way’s founder revealed that these apostles will take on the toughest evangelical tasks. In an interview with the Veritas news agency, Kiko Argüello explained that the families are destined for places where Christ is absent. “Families are sent to areas where the situation is one of total paganism. It is a mission of the purest ‘ad gentes’ type,” he said. “Some families go to cities of the former Communist regime where there still are no parishes, to European cities where there are extreme situations of degradation, where the Word of God has not reached,” he added. “We also send families to places in China; this is why they cannot say where they are going,” said Argüello. “But we also send them to many countries, above all in Latin America, where the sects are making inroads. (Zenit)

San Bernardino: California Diocese Holds Schism and Heresy Trial

A church tribunal in the San Bernardino Diocese reviewed evidence in mid-December to determine whether the Rev. Ned Reidy, a former Catholic priest who now pastors his own separate church, is guilty of heresy and schism. Father Howard Lincoln, diocesan spokesman, told Catholic News Service by phone that Rev. Reidy was automatically excommunicated when he left the Catholic Church, but he was never laicized. He remains a priest, although no longer in good standing. He said the diocese views the trial as “the most prudent course to take…as a means to officially clarify” Rev. Reidy’s status in the church, since he continues to live and exercise ministry in the area where he used to be a Catholic pastor. (CNS)

Scotland: Bishop Looks for Help from Polish Priests

Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen is visiting Poland to invite bishops to establish links which could lead to Polish priests coming to work in his far-flung Scottish diocese. “It is a diocese with a very small but scattered Catholic population. The percentage of Catholics is three per cent of the population but with the arrival of many people from Poland the Catholic population is increasing rapidly. The Scottish bishop said: “I have come to Poland because Polish Catholics need pastoral care. I also need priests for my own Catholics. I head that there are some priests from Poland who would be very happy to come and work in Scotland for a number of years.” Bishop Moran, 70, has already met with Archbishop Jozef Miroslaw Zycinski of Lublin. He is also expecting to meet Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow. (Zenit)

South Korea: A Programme Against Depression to Reduce Suicides

According to recent research, depression is believed to be the leading cause of suicide in Korea accounting for 80% of suicides. “The government – says a ministry official – has come up with the measures to combat the rising problem after research showed that 22.8 of every 100,000 people in South Kora committed suicide in 2004.” Although this number is the fourth largest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea recorded a 5.19 percent increase – the highest recorded annual suicide increase rate. One of the objectives is to establish a method of depression identification and prevention, starting from the very first symptoms. The authority aims to establish a system to identify signs at an early stage and prevent students from developing depression. In the last ten years in South Korea the number of people who have taken their own life has doubled. The Ministry hopes to lower the rate to 18.2 by 2010.

Tokoyo: Korean YMCA in Japan Marks Centennial as Part of ‘Diaspora’

A branch of a Christian youth organization, established for the Korean “Diaspora” in Tokyo which launched a campaign for Korean independence during Japan’s 35 years of colonial rule, is celebrating 100 years of existence. From 1910 to the end of the Second World War in 1945, Korea was colonized by Japan under a harsh system that imposed the language of the imperial power on Koreans and brought many of them to Japan as exploited labour and even greater hardship during the war years. (ENI)

Warsaw: Polish Priest Accuses Church of Failing to Face Secret Police Claims

A senior Roman Catholic priest in Poland who was harassed and beaten under communist rule has threatened to resign if church leaders fail to take action against fellow clergy who spied on Pope John Paul II for the secret police. “Krakow archdiocese priests resent these latest media statements, which are creating an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion, and casting a shadow over their work. The key criteria for resolving difficult issues like this are immutable truth, penance and forgiveness.” About 10 percent of Roman Catholic clergy are believed to have acted as informers in communist-ruled Poland. (ENI)


Bonn, Germany: The Silent Life is a hit in Germany

A three-hour documentary about the silent life of Carthusian monks is making a splash at the German box office. “Into Great Silence” is the brainchild of director Philip Gröning, who waited 17 years for the permission to film inside La Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, reported Deutsche Welle. In 2002 he joined the cloistered monks for several months to capture unprecedented images of life inside the monastery. The documentary, which the director says gives you the experience of living in the monastery, is currently playing to packed cinemas in Germany. (Zenit)

Pondicherry: People Throng Carmelite Convent to Meet Nun with Stigmata

Hundreds of people flocked to the Carmelite convent in Pondicherry, seeking the blessings of Sister Therese Margaret said to have suffered the Holy Stigmata. Sister Rosy, as she is popularly known, first suffered the passions of Jesus on Good Friday last year, it is said. She bled in the head from the agony of the crown of thorns, on the shoulders due to the cross and the agony of the thongs on her back and in the palms and feet. Since then, she experienced the sufferings from Thursday night till Saturday. Starting with swelling of the palms with bursting pain, the blood gushed out or oozed from the palms and feet on Friday during Mass or prayer time. (SAR News)


Koluthara, Varghese, Rightful Autonomy of Religious Institutes, Bangalore: Dharmaram Publications, 2005

This book represents a praiseworthy crowning of 3 years of specialization in Oriental Canon Law. The work is inspired by the need, relevance, exegetical scope and the richness, which according to Late Pope John Paul II, ought to justify and foster comparative juridical studies between CCEO and CIC.

Thomas, Moly, Christology in Context, New Delhi: Intercultural Publications, 2005.

The book is theology at its best – in service of the Church and the world. For the Church as for Christ KENOSIS means renouncing superiority in order to cooperate with all, in the service of all. This book both illumines and challenges, instructs and inspires.

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Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)