Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
July / 2006
Belgium: Priest Faces Jail for ‘Islamic Invasion’ Warning
A popular priest in Belgium is facing jail for speaking about an Islamic “invasion” of Europe during a television interview. Fr. Samuel Charles Clement Boniface of the Church of St. Anthony of Padova in Charleroi, Belgium has been charged with incitement to racial hatred because of a remark he made in a television interview 2002 in which he warned viewers about the demographic crisis facing Europe. Père Samuel’s – as the priest is widely known – said: “Every thoroughly Islamized Muslim child born in Europe is a time bomb for western children in the future. The latter will be persecuted when they became a minority.” He claimed that Islam in Europe was the Nazism of tomorrow. (The Catholic Herald)
Bolivia, La Paz: Ban Sought against Religious Classes
Bolivia's education minister on Monday called for legislation that would bar religious education from the country's classrooms, including those in Roman Catholic schools. Education Minister Feliz Patzi said at an assembly on education reform that the government aims to make education secular in Bolivia, where Catholicism has been the official religion since the country's founding in 1825. (Google.com)
Colombo: Catholic Youths, Children Join Buddhists in Celebrating Religious Festival
Catholic youths and children in north-central Sri Lanka supported Buddhists in their celebration of the Poson festival recently. The festival, Poson Poya, commemorates the arrival of Buddhism, which tradition says was brought to the island more than 2,000 years ago by Venerable Mahinda Thero, son of Emperor Asoka of India. Sinhalese Buddhists today form nearly 70 percent of Sri Lanka's population. Tamil Hindus form another 15 percent. Muslims, considered an ethnic group as well as a religious community, account for 8 percent and Christians, a mixed community that includes Sinhalese and Tamils, form about 7 percent. Poson Poya, a national holiday, fell on June 11 this year. Sri Lankan Buddhists typically organize pilgrimages to sacred worship places beginning the day before the festival and ending the day after it. St. Joseph's Parish in Medawchchiya, Anuradhapura diocese, organized an activity in which Catholic children from Lakrivi, the parish children's association, climbed Mihintale mountain, sacred to Buddhists, with Buddhist children who also are members of the society. (UCAN)
India, Kottayam: Suicides In Kerala Convents Indicate Underlying Problems, Church People Say
Another Catholic nun has committed suicide in Kerala, and Church people in the southern Indian state see part of the problem as lying within convent life. "Some situations drive nuns to suicide," says Montfort Brother Varghese Theckenath, president of the Conference of Religious India (CRI), the national association of Catholic Religious. "We are honest to admit the problem and we have to sort it out," he told UCA News. Kerala generates the most male and female Religious in India. Brother Theckenath says the state has 33,226 nuns. The CRI Directory (2006) says that there are 102,810 nuns and 7,216 novices. According to Joseph Pulikunnel, a Catholic lay leader who edits Osanna (Hosanna) magazine, Kerala has recorded 15 cases of suicide among nuns in the past 12 years. The latest was Clarist Sister Lisa, whose body was found on June 23 in the guestroom of her convent near Kottayam. The police found a suicide note that cited disappointment in life as the reason the 34-year-old nun took the extreme step. An autopsy showed no wounds on her body. Police official P.B. Vijayan said Sister Lisa consumed poison, and investigators reported finding traces of pesticide in Sister Lisa's room. (UCAN)
India, Chennai: Protestant Churches Celebrate 300 Years of Presence in India
Protestant Churches marking 300 years of service in India have committed themselves to witnessing to Christ more than ever before by working for social justice and improving interreligious dialogue. Pastor K. Rajarathnam, executive secretary of the celebration committee, asserts that Protestant Churches in India realize "we need to concentrate more on quality than quantity, and witnessing more than preaching." An international consultation on Postmodern Challenges to Christian Mission was part of the tercentenary celebration, that took place in July. The programs included a seminar on the contributions of a German Lutheran missioner, Reverend Bartholomaus Ziegenralg, to society. The missioner began the Lutheran Church in India after he landed on July 9, 1706, in Tranquebar port of Tamil Nadu, now a southern Indian state. Tranquebar, a Danish colony from 1620 to 1845, got its name from the Dutch rendering of the Tamil name Tarangampadi, "the place where waves sing." (UCAN)
Latin America: Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga Expresses Concern
Latin America is a continent of hope, which is inhabited by one big Catholic community. We call our continent 'Catholic' because its majority has been baptized. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper catechization and religious education not all those who were baptized have the possibility to grow in faith. Our biggest challenge is to make this 'baptized' continent a truly Catholic continent. Every year millions of Catholics in Latin America join sects. In the 1980s the alarming statistics said that within one hour 400 Catholics joined pseudo-Christian, esoteric and African sects, leaving the Catholic Church. Today it is estimated that there are almost 150 million Pentecostals in Latin America.
Madrid, Spain: Few Young Spaniards Say They Are Catholic
Fewer than half of young people in Spain consider themselves Catholic, a steep drop from a decade ago, says a new study. The Santa Maria Foundation presented the study entitled “Spanish Youth 2005” which analyzes various aspects of the younger generation. The report found, among other things, that “10 years ago, 77 per cent of young people considered themselves Catholic; today for the first time in history, they do not reach 50 per cent. The report attribute this phenomenon to the fact that “young people do not find attractive models of religiosity.” Other causes mentioned by the report are “the growing secularization of society, political changes in a clearly secularist direction, and the mistrust that the Church arouses among young people.” Young people’s greatest criticisms of the Church are “its excessive wealth, its interference in politics and its conservatism in sexual matters,” explains the report. Only 10 per cent of young people say they are committed Catholics. (Zenit)
Miami Gardens, Fla.: Clash between Islam, West Called Inevitable Unless Both Sides Change
Jihad and Suicide bombers, Bin Laden and terrorism. That image of Islam, prevalent in the West, may not be representative of the majority of Muslims in the world. But neither is it a false image, says Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, an expert on Christian-Muslim relations who currently serves as head of the Melkite Diocese of Newton, and spiritual leader of all Melkite Catholics in the United States. While visiting the Melkite communities in Miami and Delray Beach in March, he spoke at St.Thomas University on the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and Christianity. Archbishop Bustros was born in Lebanon, studied in Jerusalem and was head of the Lebanese Archdiocese of Baalbeck from 1988 to 2004. He said the current conflict is not about religion but about “the different forms of structuring society and the relationship of religion to the state. (CNS)
Philippines, Muntinlupa City: Celebrations of Mass in Shopping Malls Spur Diocesan Review
A prayer room with glass windows could not hold the crowd for Sunday Mass in a mall just south of Manila. On that Sunday in June, about 300 people spilled onto the corridor around the packed room. They peered through the glass to follow the liturgy under the watchful eyes of bald mannequins clad in designer underwear at a nearby shop. As bells tinkled, eyes followed the round white host Father Jerico Habunal raised before men, women and children, who bowed their heads in silence. They were attending the 6 p.m. liturgy, the last of four Masses that day at Festival Supermall in Muntinlupa, one of three cities served by the diocese of Paranaque, just south of Manila. Most large shopping malls and centers in Metro Manila have rooms or chapels where Masses are celebrated regularly. In Paranaque diocese, only one of seven large malls does not host Masses, because it is near a church. Canon law directs that Mass be celebrated in a "sacred place," though a "decent" place other than a church may be used if necessary (canon 932). Paranaque priests who favor shopping-mall Masses say the liturgies are part of a "new evangelization" and make the Eucharist accessible. Others, however, have voiced concern about preserving the meaning and sanctity of the Mass. For some, guarding against fraud is also an issue. (UCAN)
South Africa Must Not Sideline Churches – NGO
Churches play a pivotal role in providing communities with spiritual and moral support, yet in most cases they are sidelined in policy and decision making processes, says Reverend Teboho Klaas of the South African Council of Churches. Rev Klaas, who's also national director of the HIV and AIDS Programme in SACC, said there was a general feeling among churches that they were not being regarded as a serious stakeholder in dealing with the plight of orphans and vulnerable children. He was addressing the conference on orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS (OVC). In this regard, Rev Klaas called for more interaction between government departments and churches. He said lack of cooperation could be as a result that some churches were still stigmatizing HIV and AIDS. However, he said many churches had come up with more creative interventions as means of compassion and care especially for vulnerable children. Among other things he cited mobilizing food parcels, clothes and encouraging foster parenting among its members. (Nozipho Dlamini)
St. Paul, Minn.: Catholic Universities across U.S. Grappling with Identity Questions
The University of St.Thomas has been embroiled for several months in a dispute over whether unmarried partners on its faculty should be allowed to travel together and share a room when they lead student trips. On campus and on editorial pages, the well-publicized debate has revolved around what’s more important: St. Thomas’ right to uphold moral policies based on its identity as a Catholic institution, or its effort to treat all people with tolerance and without discrimination. It’s a shake-up which the St.Paul institution hasn’t faced with such intensity until now. But St.Thomas is not alone. Around the country, spurred by a variety of challenges, Catholic universities are grappling with just what it means to have a Catholic identity in the 21st century. At Boston College, for example, a newly formed abortion-rights group recently clashed with university officials who tried to cancel a panel discussion featuring abortion-rights supporters, whose views are in opposition to Catholic doctrine. (CNS)
Switzerland: Swiss Bishops Decry Use of “Medicine Babies”
The Swiss Bishops’ Conference has called the practice of creating babies solely for medicinal purposes a “shocking” and unacceptable development in eugenics. In a message of the bioethics commission of the Episcopal conference, released on 7 June, the bishops refer to Switzerland’s first “medicine baby” born in Geneva in January 2005, as “shocking eugenics, enveloped in good sentiments.” The baby girl was conceived through artificial insemination, and was selected in a Brussels laboratory to become a compatible donor of bone marrow for her 6-year-old brother. “Although it is not prudent to criticize the subjective intention of the parents who have suffered and rejoiced with the cure of their son, it must be recognized that the technique of ‘medicine babies’ constitutes a worrying form of eugenics,” stated the document. “For this ‘medicine baby’ girl to be born, Mrs. Hilde van de Velde’s Brussels laboratory deliberately produced 20 to 30 human embryos for the purpose of selecting them,” the bishops said. “One of them had the good fortune to survive. But the rest were eliminated and destroyed as vulgar mechandise.” (Zenit)
Thailand, Lamsai: Franciscan Presence Grows From AIDS Hospice Roots
The Franciscans in Thailand may be few, but they are credited with pioneering caring for AIDS patients just outside Bangkok. The Franciscan friars, all foreign missioners, are based in Lamsai in Lam Lukka district of Pathum Thani province, about 35 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. They have been running a hospice for people. UCA News recently spoke with Father M.V. Johnson, president of the Franciscan Foundation of Thailand. According to the 36-year-old Indian friar, the hospice was originally meant to be a place for terminally ill people to die with serenity. Now, however, better medical treatment allows people to live longer, so the hospice is challenged to provide care and accompaniment to AIDS patients who recover from life-threatening illnesses. In this interview, Father Johnson speaks of this challenge as well as the "international" nature of the friars in Thailand, the retreat center they run as an expression of their contemplative nature, a small parish and minor seminary they run elsewhere, and the missionary nature of their work. (UCAN)
Vatican City: “Women Bishops Would Destroy Unity”, says Cardinal Kasper
A Vatican cardinal has warned the Church of England that a move to ordain women as bishops would destroy any chance of full unity with the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said that if the Church of England adopted such a resolution the “shared partaking of one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance.” (CNS)
Washington: African Archbishop Rebuked For Seeking Change to Celibacy Rule
Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, whose 2001 marriage to a Korean acupuncturist capped a long series of controversial actions, announced July 12 in Washington that he wants to change the Roman Catholic discipline on celibacy and "reconcile" an estimated 150,000 married priests worldwide with the church to allow them to resume priestly ministry. Archbishop Milingo's announcement drew a sharp rebuke from church officials on both sides of the Atlantic. "The Holy See has not yet received precise news about the aim of (the) visit to the United States of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, former archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia," said a July 13 statement from the Vatican press office. "In any case, if the declarations that have been attributed to him about ecclesiastical celibacy turn out to be true, the only possibility would be to deplore them (the declarations), given the fact that the discipline of the church in this regard is quite clear," it said. (CNS)
New Zealand, Auckland: News Show Boycotted in New Zealand after ‘South Park’ episode Airs on “Bloody Mary”
More than 2,400 Catholics from around New Zealand have made a public commitment to boycott an evening news programme after a partner station aired a controversial episode of “South Park”. The “Bloody Mary” episode, which depicts a menstruating statue of Mary, aired on C4, a youth-targeted music channel and partner station of TV3, one of two networks in the country. Both TV3 and C4 are owned by Canada’s CanWest. The Catholics boycotted the news on TV3 to express their disapproval. They list the names of those who made a commitment to boycott the news, plus a brief explanation of their reasoning are published in newspapers. (CNS)
Philippines, Kidapawan City: Slain Activists Remembered for Love, Devotion and Service
A priest commemorating slain activists George and Maricel Vigo singled out the "power of love" as the couple's legacy to their threatened Church in the southern Philippines. "The power of hatred can shock and scare many, but the power of the kind of love that George and Macel (Maricel) shared will grow beyond death," said Father Peter Geremia, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) priest who directs Kidapawan's Tribal Filipino Program. (UCAN)
Vatican City: Pope Appoints Italian Jesuit as New Director of Vatican Press Office
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Father Federico Lombardi as the new director of the Holy See's press office, making the Italian Jesuit the public face of the Vatican to the world.
Latin America: Economic Data
The recent data concerning the economic situation in Latin America: Increase of GNP (gross national product), in 2004 it was 6%, in 2005 – 4.3% and the prognosis for this year is 4%. But at the same time the World Bank informs that 10% of the richest people take 48% of the GNP whereas 10% of the poorest get only 1.6%; the poor constitute 43% of Latin America's population and 18.6% live in extreme poverty. (Sunday Catholic Weekly, Google.com)
In one year, in May 2007, the Fifth General Conference of CELAM is being held in Aparecida, Brazil. Benedict XVI is coming for this event. (Sunday Catholic Weekly Google.com)
Pamplany Augustine, Rehumanizing the Human: Interdisciplinary Essays on Human Person in Context, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2006.
The socio-cultural hermeneutic of the human context, its scientific appropriation, and the Indian reflection constitute the major orientations of this contextual volume.
Wiseman James A., Spirituality and Mysticism, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.
This book gives a fine contribution at a time when the study of spirituality must have balance, precision, depth, breadth and acuity.
Shorter Aylward, Cross and Flag in Africa: The “White Fathers” during the Colonial Scramble (1892-1914), Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.
This volume gives the extra ordinary details of the dimensions of mission concerning blacks and whites. Cross and Flag is required reading for historians of Christianity in Africa.
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