Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

June  / 2005


Buenos Aires: Labour Exploited in Rich Nations Too, Says Cardinal

A Vatican official, decrying the exploitation of workers in the world, warned of subtle practices in developed societies that empty labour activity of its human content. Cardinal Renato Martino delivered that message Friday when he opened Argentina's Social Week in the city of Mar del Plata. The theme of the week is "Training for Work, an Instrument for the Future." The cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke on the need "For a Humanism of Work at the Planetary Level." The cardinal's address reflected the social doctrine of the Church, which stresses that the real wealth of work lies in human capacities, in intelligence and in people's creativity, reported the pontifical council. Cardinal Martino warned against the danger of making work only a commodity, a danger that exists even in the most economically advanced societies. (Zenit)

India: Indian Christians Feel Targeted by Rajasthan's Anti-Conversion Bill

Christians are expressing anguish over the draconian provisions. The anti-conversion bill was passed despite a boycott by opposition parties in the legislature of Rajasthan state ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Secular human rights activists joined Christians and Muslims at a meeting in the state capital Jaipur on 8 April to denounce the bill the day after it was passed. They fear it could be misused to hound religious minorities especially Christians who have been facing harassment at the hands of Hindu fundamentalists. "Everyone was unanimous that this bill has an ulterior motive," Roman Catholic Bishop Oswald Lewis of Jaipur, who attended the meeting, told Ecumenical News International on 10 April. (ENI)

India, New Delhi: India Responds to Pope's Comments on Religious Freedom

The Indian government on Friday responded to some comments Pope Benedict XVI made on laws that allegedly restrict religious freedom in India. In a statement India reiterated its constitutional "freedom of conscience" and the citizen's right to freely "profess, practice and propagate" a religion of choice. India's response came after the Holy Father noted the "disturbing signs of religious intolerance" that have "troubled some regions" of India. Such incidents included the "reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom," the Pope said. These moves should be "firmly rejected as not only unconstitutional, but also as contrary to the highest ideals of India's founding fathers, who believed in a nation of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance between different religions and ethnic groups," the Holy Father had said. Pope Benedict made these comments in a written speech delivered on May 18 at a function in which he received the letters of credence of the new Indian ambassador to the Holy See, Amitava Tripathi. (ICNS)

India: Has Highest AIDS Deaths in the World

The UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic was released last month. One fact went unnoticed in the report: the figure of estimated AIDS deaths in India was over 4 lakh in 2005. This is the highest in the world. Here are the details from the Report: In 2005, South Africa, where everyone thinks has the highest AIDS deaths reported an estimated figure of about 3.2 lakh deaths out of the fatal disease. But the figure from India in the same period was over 4 lakh, the highest globally. The report had also highlighted that India led the HIV/AIDS table with 5.7 million people living with the disease for the first time. South Africa is second in the list with 5.5 million. (The Asian Age, June 1, 2006)

Korea: Archdiocese Removes Way of the Cross Paintings Commemorating 1980 Uprising

Way of the Cross paintings depicting Jesus as a victim of military brutality during the Gwangju uprising in 1980 were removed from a church by Kwangju archdiocese without a "clear explanation", according to the artist. Antonio Hong Sung-dam told UCA News that in April 2005, an archdiocesan preparation committee for the 25th anniversary of the uprising commissioned him to create a painting for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross as part of the commemoration. After one week's work, the 51-year-old lay artist said, the paintings were placed in Nam-dong Church on May 12, 2006. However, the artist continued, the parish priest told him the very next day that Archbishop Andrew Choi Chang-mou of Kwangju had ordered their removal "before one more faithful sees them." Hong reported the priest as telling him that the archbishop said the paintings "lacked universality as sacred images." Speaking June 1, the artist added that he had not received any further explanation. (UCAN)

Lima: Evangelical Pastor Enters Peru Election to 'Change Politics'

A left-wing ex-president, a nationalist ex-army officer, and a female ex-lawmaker are the front-runners in the race to become Peru's next president. But a 71-year old evangelical pastor who is also competing is optimistic that there will be surprises when the ballot papers are counted. "We are called to be the salt and the light and so we must be involved in politics where there are many dark shadows and much need for change," Pastor Humberto Lay told Ecumenical News International in an interview three days before the 9 April election. Lay is one of 20 candidates vying for Peru�s presidency in the election and the only evangelical to enter the race. (ENI)

London: British Priest Who Can't Forgive London Bombers, Abandons Pulpit

An Anglican priest who has stepped down from her parish duties because she can't forgive those who carried out the July bombings on London's transport system which resulted in the death of more than 50 people including her daughter, has stirred a strong debate on the capacity for absolution. "Can I forgive them for what they did? No, I cannot. And I don't wish to," said the Rev. Julie Nicholson, vicar of St. Aidan with St.George Church in Bristol, western England in an interview carried on BBC television on 7 March. Her 24-year-old daughter Jenny was among those killed. "I believe that there are some things in life which are unforgivable by the human spirit," said Nicholson. "We are all faced with choice and those four human beings on that day chose to do what they did." The vicar said she felt "unable to stand behind the altar and celebrate the Communion and lead people in words of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness". (ENI)

Manila: Philippines' 'Green' Cardinal Apologies to Planet

Manila's Roman Catholic Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales was given a red hat in March when Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal, but for many of his faithful the colour of his headgear should be green due to his advocacy for the environment. "Human acquisitiveness and avarice threaten the supply and availability of resources destined also for future generations," Rosales said at a 22 April Earth Day celebration held at garbage dumpsite that has been turned into a housing resettlement site in Manila. There, he apologized for the people's "sins" against nature. Made a cardinal on 24 March, Rosales has been long known for his advocacy against logging and large-scale mining projects, and for support for reforestation and garbage management campaigns. (ENI)

Nairobi: If You Want to Pray Repent, Kenyan Religious Leaders Tell Politicians

Church leaders in Kenya say politicians have abandoned God and are calling on them to repent and take action to deal with problems such as corruption besetting the East African country. Nationwide inter-denominational prayers were held at the weekend in response to an appeal by President Mwai Kibaki to reflect in prayer about problems and tragedies that have hit the country in recent years. "As a country, we should seek God's forgiveness for the many instances we have sinned by way of hating one another and even killing one another," the president told an interfaith prayer service conducted by the country's top Christian and Muslim clerics at the grounds of Nairobi's Kenyatta International Conference Centre. Kibaki called the inter-denominational prayers following the death of 14 people including six members of parliament in a plane crash in Marsabit in northern Kenya, where there is a violent conflict linked to cattle rustling. (ENI)

New York: Heterosexual Tops Polls for California Episcopal Bishop

Episcopalians in California have elected Mark Andrus from the diocese of Alabama, a heterosexual male, as their next diocesan bishop, from a field of seven candidates for the position that included two openly gay men and a lesbian. There had been concern that the selection of one of the homosexual candidates could have deepened a rift both within the Episcopal Church in the United States and with other members of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Andrus, aged 49, led seven candidates for the position, in a 6 May election held in San Francisco to find a successor to Bishop William Swing who is retiring after 27 years. Married, with two children, Andrus got 72 per cent of the vote from clergy and 55 per cent of the vote among church laity. The rift within Anglicanism was caused by the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as the bishop of New Hampshire, and is likely to be of concern in June during the denomination�s General Convention in Columbus, Ohio. (ENI)

Tajikistan, Dushanbe: Catholic Mothers Learn Natural Family Planning, Hope to Share with Others

The women used to squabble when they discussed family planning issues at St. Joseph's Parish in Dushanbe. Now their weekly meetings are held separately, one for Catholic women who are more mature in the faith, and another for new Catholics and other women. Discussing natural family planning methods and informing Tajik mothers about the harms of abortion and contraception is the aim of these Catholic mothers who meet every week in the parish. One member, Katerina Starinina, told UCA News that the separate meetings of the two groups of Catholic women started on May 4. Before that, "we used to hold meetings together with Protestants and members of other religions," she said, but the Catholic women found that participants "were arguing with each other more than discussing Catholic values." Group leaders therefore decided to separate the more mature Catholics from those who are new in the faith. "It was what we needed. Now our meetings take place in an atmosphere of peace and understanding," said Starinina, a mother of three. (UCAN)

Vatican City: Holy See Halts Investigation of Legionary Founder

The Holy See won't continue with a canonical investigation into accusations against Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ and has invited him to renounce all public ministry. A communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office said that "since 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has received accusations, which were already made public in part," against Father Maciel, "for offenses reserved to the exclusive competency of the dicastery." "In 2002, Father Maciel published a statement to deny the accusations and to express his disgust for the offenses against him by former Legionaries of Christ," the statement said. "In 2005, for reasons of advanced age, Reverend Maciel retired from the office of Superior General of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ." (Renovacao)

Vatican City: Orthodox Express Concern About Dropping 'Patriarch of the West' Title

The bishops of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople have expressed concern over Pope Benedict XVI's decision to drop "Patriarch of the West" from his official titles in the Vatican yearbook. In a June 8 statement, the chief secretary of the Orthodox bishops' synod said dropping "Patriarch of the West" while retaining the titles "Vicar of Jesus Christ" and "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church" is "perceived as implying a universal jurisdiction of the bishops of Rome over the entire church, which is something the Orthodox have never accepted." The statement was issued after synod members discussed the change during their early June meeting. The Vatican said in March that Pope Benedict dropped the title in the 2006 edition of the Annuario Pontificio because it was theologically imprecise and historically obsolete. (CNS)

Zimbabwe, Bulawayo: Church Leader's Vision of New Dawn for Zimbabwe Cheered

For a visitor to the country, or the consumer of news reports, the numbers in Zimbabwe are staggering and depressing, whether they relate to the economy, inflation, or HIV infection. But some Christians in the southern African country, which this week celebrated 26 years of Independence, still believe there is reason of hope. On a recent weekend, when the funeral of liberation struggle hero James Chikerema was carried live on national television, workers in an old-age home in the eastern city of Mutate were shown on state TV striking in a protest against a monthly wage of 1.8 million Zimbabwe dollars (US $18). Chikerema was a cousin of President Robert Mugabe and raised at the same Roman Catholic mission but his criticism of the Zimbabwean leader was said to have denied him a burial at Heroes Acre, a resting spot for those in the ruling party's faithful who fought for liberation. "It is not everybody who qualifies to be buried at the Heroes," said Mugabe in a statement in the government-run Herald newspaper. (ENI)


India, Ahmedabad: France Awards Indian Jesuit for Human Rights Work

The French government has honored Indian Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash with its highest civilian award for his works to defend human rights. French Ambassador in India Dominique Girard in a letter said French President Jacques Chirac has conferred the "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" on the priest. The letter addressed to the Jesuit priest said with the award France acknowledges the priest's "lifetime commitment to the defence and the promotion of Human Rights in India." Father Prakash has been championing the cause of Human Rights in Gujarat and in other parts of India. In the wake of a Hindu-Muslims riot in 2002, he has testified before the US Commission for International Religious Freedom in Washington. (ICNS)

India, Mumbai: Indian Cardinal Appointed Head of Vatican's Propaganda Fide

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Indian Cardinal Ivan Dias as head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Cardinal Dias will be prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, formerly known as Propaganda Fide. Italian Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe was the head of the congregation until now. The 69-year old Cardinal, a native of Mumbai, worked in the Vatican and on Vatican diplomatic assignments in several nations before he took charge as Archbishop of Bombay in 1997. (ICNS)


Evers George, The Churches in Asia, Delhi: ISPCK, 2005.

In most countries in Asia, the Catholic Churches are small minorities within their culturally and religiously pluralistic societies. The present overview of the developments of Asian Catholic Churches is set against the background of the general socio-economic, political, cultural and religious trends in the various Asian societies.

Monteiro Evelyn and Antoinette Gutzler, ed., Ecclesia of Women in Asia, Delhi: ISPCK, 2005.

This book is a collection of papers of the conference of Ecclesia of Women in Asia. The papers are rich in experienced-based content, committed to the Asian heritage and relevant to the present times.

Mattam Joseph and Joseph Valiamangalam, ed., Emerging Indian Missiology Context and Concept, Delhi, FOIM/ISPCK, 2006.

The church continues to manifest its creativity in the Spirit and becomes truly Catholic in different geographic areas and at different epochs of human history. This volume challenges us to be very sensitive to the context.


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