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ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

April  / 2005

HAPPY EASTER!

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Asia: Christian Conference of Asia to Mark 50th Anniversary in 2007

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) has invited artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, writers and other interested people to contact its organization about how they could contribute to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2007. The jubilee theme is Building communities of peace for all. The CCA traces its beginnings to a conference held in March 1957 in Prapat, on the banks of Lake Toba on Indonesia's Sumatra Island. The Prapat participants recommended that an Eastern Asia Christian Conference be constituted as an organ of continuing cooperation among the churches and Christian councils in the region. (CCA website)

Berlin: Pro-Life Week

“Entrusted to us from the beginning: life starts before birth”. This is the theme of a Pro-Life Week to be held in Germany from 29 April to 6 May. The initiative organized by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Council of the German Lutheran Church is one series in a programme launched in 2005 with the title “Children are a source of Blessing and Hope for Life” which will conclude in 2007. Pro-Life Week will be celebrated all over the country with various initiatives in parishes, organizations and Catholic and Lutheran joint work groups. (Fides Service)

Brussels: Striving to Consolidate Dialogue between Cultures and Religions in the European Union

A three day Plenary meeting of the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community opened on 23 March in Brussels, Belgium. Among the topics for discussion how to consolidate inter-cultural and interreligious dialogue in Europe in the light of recent events. The Bishops will examine the present situation with a view to adopting an action plan in order to reinforce intercultural and inter-religious dialogue at the European level. This action plan will then be presented to the Austrian EU Presidency. In addition the Bishops will consult on a declaration for publication on 9 May 2006 as part of their contribution to the reflection period on the future of the European Union. (Fides Service)

China, Tianjin: Over 300 take part in Spring Catechesis Course in Tian Jin Diocese

Over 300 Catholics accompanied by 30 catechists enrolled for a Spring Course in Catechesis at Xi Kai cathedral in the diocese of Tianjin in mainland China. At the opening of the course parish priest Fr. Zhang Liang and catechists welcomed catechumens and newly baptized Catholics anxious to consolidate their new faith and long time Catholics who intend to deepen their Christian formation. Lay catechist Mr. Liu presented the four months programme. Besides the catechesis course the cathedral offers various activities of catechesis in different sectors for all age groups. (Fides Service)

China: Chinese ‘Underground’ Church Leaders have Mixed Views on Cardinal Zen Fostering Reconciliation

Some “underground” mainland China Church leaders say they hope the new Chinese cardinal can help reconcile underground and “open” Church communities, while others say he faces a tough task ahead. A priest from the underground community in Zhejiang province, southeastern China, said he regards the elevation of Bishop Zen as a Neo-Matteo Ricci journey. An underground priest in Inner Mongolia, northwestern China, said on 8 March that Cardinal-elect Zen dares to tell the truth and uphold justice. Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, said that all his priests and lay people cheered when the pope named Bishop Zen a cardinal. They felt it showed the pope’s concern for the Church in China. He feels the Shanghai-born prelate could play a positive role in China-Holy See relations. (UCAN)

Colombo, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Monk Brings Buddhists and Christians Together Symbolically and Literally

First-time visitors to Sri Veluwanaramaya Buddhist Temple near Colombo, Sri Lanka might be surprised to see that the temple flags have Christian crosses on them along side Buddhist symbols. The temple and the Church are located in Negombo, known in Church circles as “Little Rome” because of the number of Catholic churches. Detailing local interreligious efforts, the monk said some Catholics are invited to the monthly temple council meetings, and his temple committee has Catholics as members. Local Buddhist and Christian children participate in joint celebrations of Christmas and other Church feasts, as well as Vesak, which commemorates Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Having the cross together with the dharma chakraya, the Buddhist wheel symbol, on his temple flags is only one of several outward manifestations of engagement on inter-religious dialogue. (UCAN)

India, Kochi: Court Allows Nuns, Priests to Become Lawyers

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ruled that Catholic nuns and priests who have law degrees are eligible to enroll as lawyers as their religious vocation should not be considered as a profession. The verdict from the division bench of the High Court came after a single judge bench upheld two months back the Kerala state bar council’s decision that denied permission to a Catholic nun to enroll as a lawyer. The council had argued that its rules do not permit people in other professions to enroll as lawyers. It said priests and nuns are engaged in religious activities and cannot become advocates. (ICNS)

Israel: Church Leaders Protest the attack on Nazareth Basilica

While Israeli leaders attempted to emphasize that a 3 March attack at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, was carried out by a troubled family with no political agenda, Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah said the attack could not be separated from the atmosphere that incites such attacks against Arab targets. Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulous Marcuzzo of Jerusalem and Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour of Akko, Israel, calmed the tempers of the massive number of youths who had gathered outside the Basilica immediately after the attack. Following the attack, police recommended boistering security at the basilica by installing closed-circuit television cameras and posting guards at the entrance. (CNS)

Japan: Gallup Poll Shows More People Claim Christian Faith in Japan

The latest Gallup poll revealed a much higher percentage of Christians in Japan compared to previous surveys, including a surprising high number of teens who claimed to follow the Christian faith. Findings from one of the most extensive surveys of the country ever taken showed a Christian population of 6 percent. The survey also showed the number of Buddhist and Shinto followers had declined. Of the 30 percent of adults who claimed to have a religion, 75 percent considered themselves Buddhists, 19 percent Shintoists and 12 percent Christians, according to the Gallup Organization. Of the 20 percent of Japanese youth who professed to have a religion, 60 percent identified themselves with Buddhism and 36 percent with Christianity. Within an estimated population of 127.4 million in Japan, academics estimate that 20 to 30 percent of adults actively practice a faith. (Christian Post)

Khartoum: UN High Commission for Refugees Suspends Repatriation Operations to Southern Sudan Because of Violence

Following armed attacks in southern Sudan the UN High Commission for Refugees UNHCR has decided to suspend repatriation of refugees from Central African Republic, Uganda and Democratic Congo to areas of southern Sudan. The Director of UNHCR operations in Sudan Jean-Marie Fakhouri arrived in Juba and will visit the region in the next few days. The fighting last weekend in Yambio followed an attack a week ago on the UNHCR compound at Yei. On Wednesday March 15 two armed men broke into the compound killing one of the security guards employed by the Agency and injuring another. A UNHCR operator was also wounded. Today, after 21 years of civil war ended with a peace agreement signed 14 months ago, besides 4 million internally displaced persons Sudan still has 350,000 refugees in neighbouring countries. (Fides Service)

Korea: Bishop Welcomes Government Plan on Abolishing Death Penalty in Korea

The President of the Korean Bishops’ Committee for Justice and Peace has welcomed a government decision to reconsider its position on the death penalty. Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san of Incheon said, “We fully support and welcome the government’s position to do ‘in-depth research on the abolition of the death penalty.’” He described the decision as a great turn around, considering that the government used to oppose the call of religious groups and NGOs for its abolition. The Ministry of Justice plans to assist the National Assembly in deliberations on a bill submitted in 2004 that calls for the abolition of the death penalty and its replacement with life imprisonment without parole or commutation. (UCAN)

Korea: Cardinal Cheong Says He will Do His 'Utmost' to Host Next WYD in Korea

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul said he will do everything possible to have Korea host the next international World Youth Day (WYD) celebration, which he called one of the biggest events organized by the Catholic Church. In an interview with Chosun Ilbo, the new cardinal said: If South Korea manages to host World Youth Day, we would naturally invite the pope to come to visit our entire country. The international WYD celebration has been held almost every other year, moving from continent to continent. Last August, more than 1 million youth from around the world attended the event in Cologne, Germany. The next one is fixed for 2008 in Sydney, Australia. The event was only held once in Asia, in Manila in January 1995. (AsiaNews)

Papua New Guinea: Filipino Monsignor Named Nuncio to Papua New Guinea, Elevated to Archbishop

Pope Benedict XVI on April 1 appointed Philippine Monsignor Francisco Montecillo Padilla, former counselor at the Apostolic Nunctiature in Australia, as apostolic nuncio to Papua New Guinea, elevating him to the rank of archbishop. Archbishop-elect Padilla was born in Cebu City on Sept. 17, 1953. He was ordained a priest on Oct. 21, 1976, and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1985. Since then he has served in India, Japan and Australia. (Holy See's Bulletin)

Philippines: Arroyo Says: No divorce, Abortion Laws

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo says that moves to legalize divorce and abortion will not succeed in the Philippines as long as she is president. Last Thursday she vowed her opposition to these as a ‘birthday gift’ to Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, Chair of the Bishops’ Commission on Family Life, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. Speaking in Kapampangan on the archbishop’s 69th birthday, Arroyo said: “We are taking measures to strengthen the Filipino family. Perhaps this will be the best birthday gift I can offer you.” She called him a “very important adviser to me in the population policy of our government”. (Zenit)

Rome: Society for African Missions Convokes General Assembly

“This year will be the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Society for African Missions. The General Assembly to be held a few months after the celebration of the event will be a special moment in our history; we are proud of what our members have achieved; we look to the future and search together for ways to carry forward and achieve the vision of our Founder and fulfil our mission” said Fr. Kieran O’Reilly, Superior General of the Society for African Missions when he announced a SMA general assembly 16 April 2006 to 12 May 2007. The task of the assembly will include: reserve the Society’s heritage: verify the Society’s life and activity in order to renew its energy to continue the mission; plan for the future; elect a new Superior General and his Council. (Fides Service)

Rome: Schools Could Teach Islam

“If a public school has a significant number of Muslim students, there is no reason why those students should not have a weekly course on Islam while Catholic students are in catechism class,” said Cardinal Renato Martino. In the face of the Islamic organization’s request, some Italian law makers have said the classes should only be allowed once Muslim countries guarantee freedom of worship and religious education to their Christian minorities. But Cardinal Martino said, “a true democracy does not uphold civil rights only to the degree that they are guaranteed in other countries. Europe – Italy – has arrived at such a degree of democracy and respect for the other that they cannot take a step back,” he said. Therefore, if there are persons of another religion in the Italian reality, their cultural and religious identities must be respected. (CNS)

Vatican City: Cardinals Open to Reconcile with Lefebvre Followers

The general attitude at a meeting Benedict XVI held with cardinals this week was to seek reconciliation with the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Archbishop Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X, contested publicly some of the key elements of the Second Vatican Council. Pope John Paul II stated in an 1988 the apostolic letter “Ecclesia Dei” that the “illegitimate” ordination of four bishops within the society by Archbishop Lefebvre was a “schismatic act.” “The meeting unfolded in an atmosphere of love of the Church and the desire to arrive at perfect communion,” a Vatican communiqué reported afterward.” “Aware of the difficulties, the willingness was expressed to advance gradually and in reasonable times.” (Zenit)

Vietnam, Ho chi Minh City: Seminaries are Overcrowded

The church in Vietnam needs new facilities and better trained teachers to accommodate the increasing number of candidates to the priesthood, according to the archbishop of Thanh-Pho Ho chi Minh. In Hanoi, St. Joseph’s Major Seminary supplies priests to eight northern dioceses. Currently, it has 235 students but not enough space for all of them to live. The Holy See and Vietnam do not have diplomatic relations, but for some time have been following a path of rapproachement. About 6 million of Vietnam’s 83 million inhabitants are Catholic. (Zenit)

Zambia: Foreign Investment Fuels Islam

There is a strong Islamic influence due to foreign investment in the region of northern Zambia, says a Polish missionary working in the Kasama Diocese. Father Andrzej Halemba explained: “Over the past 10 years, an aggressive presence of Islam has been built up in Zambia, a country that is Christian according to its constitution. “In our diocese, which borders Tanzania and is home to the Mambwe and Lungu people, this has caused a lot of problems for the Christians. Muslim-run companies, for instance, offer jobs to non-Muslims only under the condition of converting to Islam.” Pointing to the shrinking number of Christians in the Zambian-Tanganyika Lake area, Father Halemba stated: “Ten years ago, some 70% of the people in the region were Christian. Today, about 30% are Catholic and 20% to 25% Protestant. (Zenit)

II. NEWS

Bangladesh, Dhaka: Christian Association Leads Rally Calling for Easter Public Holiday

The Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) and other Christian forums and groups held a rally and formed a human chain on April 8 in Dhaka to demand that Easter Sunday be made a public holiday. (UCAN)

India, Chuhari: Catholics’ Lent Helps Poor Hindus Celebrate Festivals in Eastern India

Pargat Mahara is too poor to feed himself, but the elderly Hindu man can feast to celebrate the birth of his god Lord Ram thanks to a Lenten practice Catholics follow in his village. (UCAN)

Indonesia: People of Various Faiths Donate Money, Materials for Ordination of First Bishop of Maumere

Catholics and people of other faiths in the new diocese of Maumere are contributing in cash and kind to the episcopal ordination of Father Vincentius Sensi, its first bishop, on April 23. (UCAN)

Philippines, Bacolod City: Bishops Suspicious of ‘People’s Initiative’ to Amend Constitution

“Fake” and “deceptive” are words a bishop has used to describe a “people’s initiative” to amend the Philippine Constitution, while the president of the bishops’ conference called for vigilance. (UCAN)

III. BOOKS

James R. Krabill, Walter Sawatsky, and Charles E. Van Engen, Evangelical, Ecumenical, and Anabaptist Missiologies in Conversation, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006

The authors and contributors are dedicated to understanding the role of all Christians in world mission, and to overcoming the acrimony among evangelical and ecumenical Protestants.

James A. Wiseman, Spirituality and Mysticism, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.

The book introduces the history of spirituality and mysticism and their meaning and importance to our own age.

Kenneth Fernando, Rediscovering Christ in Asia, Delhi: ISPCK, 2005.

The book discovers how we can know about and present the Christian faith to friends of other faiths, in ways that will be intelligible and non-threatening to them, in categories that are familiar to them.

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)