45

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

September  / 2006

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Africa: Dutch Catholic Bishop Urges Condom Use

A Dutch Catholic bishop Tiny Muskens has a remarkable message for the people of Uganda who he's visiting this week: the Vatican may be fiercely against the use of condoms, but Bishop Muskens believes it's ok to use them. According to him - it is permissible to opt for the lesser evil of condom use to prevent the greater evil of AIDS. One in ten Ugandans is currently infected with the HIV virus. The bishop is in the African country at the invitation of the organization, Stop Aids Now. Director Sjoera Dikkers explains from the Ugandan capital Kampala that the controversial message from the bishop has been well received.” Certainly by organizations who work in the field with people who are infected or could easily become infected. They feel buoyed up by a Dutch bishop who finally comes and says, 'ok, what you are doing is good work'."

Buenos Aires: Argentina Author Says Pastors Can’t Diagnose Depression

Cuban author Pastor Jorge A. Leon says neither churches nor their ministers are automatically qualified to diagnose depression. Pastor Leon, who has lived in Argentina for many years questioned an article published in the Sunday edition of La Nacion daily newspaper advocating religious training as an efficient way to help people who are depressed. The author of “Pastoral Psychology for all Christians” and another 15 books about the subject, Leon argues that depression is not a spiritual state but is an illness caused by various factors which has many forms that frequently even doctors are not willing to diagnose it and prefer to use the backing of a team. The Cuban pastor said that the rising of depression around the world is due to the situation of tension that currently exists, although he warned that factors that contribute to the increase of depression vary from one country to another. He conceded that faith can “help lower the level of depression in many cases” but faith is not a panacea. “Every attempt to substitute science with religion is a foolish pretension to go back in history to medieval times,” said Leon. The article in La Nacion quoted a doctor as saying that pastors and religiously trained people would be competent to diagnose depression among their faithful if they are trained in a community extension programme. (ENI)

Canada, Vancouver: Prepares Multi-Faith Centre for 2010 Winter Olympics

Plans have been unveiled for a 25 million Canadian dollar (US $22.3 million) multi-faith worship centre for the 2010 Winter Olympic athletes which will, after the games, serve Vancouver for years to come. The Interfaith Spiritual Society of British Columbia, representing Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and other faith communities, has announced plans for the project at the Athletes Village site near downtown Vancouver. Construction begins in 2007 and should be completed in 2009. Derek La Croix, president of the society, told Ecumenical News International, “Vancouver is becoming known as a city of peace and a city of sustainability.” He said: “We are hoping that it will be a sign of hope to all the world that we can cooperate – all spiritual faiths and traditions – and respect each other.” La Croix said the idea germinated in October 2004 during a visit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates the Dalai Lama and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Vancouver when people gathered for a retreat that promoted peace and understanding. La Croix said, “It will not be a place of proselytizing or conversion or anything like that.” (ENI)

Cape Town: South Africa Churches want Pretoria to Call Middle East Truth Commission

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has called on the government in Pretoria to help broker peace in the Middle East crisis by inviting representatives of warring groups – including the Israeli, Palestine and Lebanon leadership – to meet in South Africa to negotiate an end to hostilities in the region. “Such a peace initiative could address all affected areas in the Middle East as a result of Israel’s recent bombing raids into Lebanon, which have killed scores of innocent people and devastated neighbourhoods,” said SACC spokesperson Joe Mdhlela. “The SACC believes that South Africa’s TCR experience could be adapted and used to bring about reconciliation in the Middle East, and that South Africa should take a proactive role.” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up by South Africa’s national unity government after democratic elections in 1994 to help deal with what happened under apartheid. It heard from victims and perpetrators of atrocities and sat under Nobel Peace prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Other conflict areas like Northern Ireland and countries such as Chile has looked to it for ways to deal with festering divisions that need to be healed. (ENI)

Chicago: Islamic Conference Includes Workshop on Catholic-Muslim Dialogue

A workshop on a Catholic-Muslim dialogue about divine revelation was among the events featured at a gathering of more than 30,000 Muslims over the Labor Day weekend. They came to Chicago from across North America for the annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America at the Rosemont Convention Center. The society is the only Islamic organization in the world that has succeeded in bringing together such a diverse groups of Muslims: black, white, Shiite, Sunni, people who trace their origins to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The event, established in 1963, combines learning -- 120 workshops on a wide variety of mostly nonpolitical subjects -- with celebration in the form of evening entertainment. The Muslim Student Association offered a parallel program for high school and college students. One of the workshop sessions focused on a document by the Midwest Regional Dialogue of Catholics and Muslims titled "Revelation: Catholic and Muslim Perspectives." (CNS)

Chile: Chilean Church Criticizes Guidelines Authorizing Free Contraceptives

Chilean Catholic Church leaders have criticized government guidelines authorizing public health centers to distribute free contraceptives, including the morning-after pill, to minors older than 14 without parental consent. Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago has called the guidelines a "blow to marriage, the birthrate and the family." The Health Ministry resolution was announced Sept. 2 and immediately criticized by Catholics, the conservative opposition and the Christian Democratic Party, a member of the ruling coalition. Those opposed to the morning-after pill consider it equivalent to abortion. The guidelines makes the morning-after pill Postinor-2 available for free, but require a prescription after counseling in primary health centers. (CNS)

Colombia, Bogota: Colombia Sees First Legal Abortion After Court Legalized Some Abortions

The first legal abortion has taken place in Colombia since the South American nation's top court legalized it in some cases in May. The nation's Supreme Court weakened the country's pro-life law in May -- changing it from a complete ban on abortions to allowing them in cases of rape or incest of if the baby has severe physical deformities. The court also allowed abortions in very rare situations when it could be necessary to save the life of the mother. The abortion case involved an 11 year-old girl who became pregnant after her stepfather raped her. According to a BBC report, the girl's abortion wasn't automatic but had to go to the courts before it was authorized. The case made headlines in Colombia media for weeks before the abortion was done. The Catholic Church condemned the abortion and hundreds of pro-life advocates demonstrated outside the hospital where the abortion happened. In July, the bishops of Colombia said abortions should not be legal. The president of the Bishops' Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga pointed to statements of Pope Benedict XVI which declared that the value of human life is not negotiable. He said the Colombia high court's decision to legal abortion in some cases did not make it morally allowable. (LifeNews.com)

India: Christian Leaders Seek Quick Resolution to Controversy Over Hindu Temple Area

Temple Area Christian leaders in Andhra Pradesh say a controversy over alleged religious conversions near a Hindu temple needs quick resolution before it divides the two communities. Some Hindu groups in the southern Indian state have accused Christians of engaging in conversion-oriented activities around Tirumala (holy mountain), where India's most popular temple is located. Christian leaders say the allegation is tied to a three-decade-old proposal to make the temple area an independently administered unit within India, giving it a status similar to that of Vatican City. The temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, one of the names by which Vishnu, one of the three supreme gods of Hinduism, is known. In June a Hindu group, Tirumala Tirupati Samrakshana Samithi (TTSC, committee to protect Tirumala Tirupati), demanded that Christians end alleged conversion activities in areas around the temple. The demand was made at a meeting TTSC organized with some Hindu spiritual leaders and others who support a "Vatican status" for the Tirumala temple. Other proposals at that meeting included banning religious activities other than Hinduism in the area and employing only Hindus in the temple offices. Christian leaders say the latest move aims at ousting people of other religions, especially Christians, from the Tirumala area even though these people have lived there for decades. About 15-20 Christians work under Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the administrative board that manages the temple. Its rules stipulate that only Hindus can be board members, but do not prohibit employing people from other religions, explained Father Anthoniraj Thumma. (UCAN)

Jakarta, Indonesia: Archbishop asks Catholic Soldiers, Policemen to Work With Faith as Inspiration

The pastoral leader of Catholic members of the military and police has asked them to restore national pride by "living the life exemplified by Jesus." Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Semarang, who also heads the Catholic chaplaincy for the military and police, made the appeal in his first pastoral letter as head of the military ordinariate. He issued the letter on Aug. 17, the 61st anniversary of Indonesia's independence. In his letter Archbishop Suharyo said that despite having been independent for 61 years, Indonesia has not fulfilled the ideals of the state ideology of Pancasila (five principles) and the country's 1945 constitution. The five tenets of Pancasila, defined in the preamble to the constitution, are belief in one Supreme God, a just and civilized humanity, unity of Indonesia, democracy led by the wisdom of deliberations among representatives, and social justice for all people. The preamble to the constitution also says that Indonesia "shall be independent, united, sovereign, just and prosperous." The military and police, who play big roles in national life, have major responsibilities in fulfilling the ideals of independence, he wrote. As both citizens of the nation and true believers, "we are challenged to restore and even to develop pride in being members of the nation by living the life exemplified by Jesus," the Church leader said. (UCAN)

Korea: Church Needs to Pay More Attention to Overseas Mission Support

Catholics should assist overseas missions actively and regularly, suggests a priest who began a mission support group in his parish. "The local Church has been indifferent to supporting foreign missions," Father Primus Oh Nam-joo of told UCA News August 31. In order to help local Catholics, including parish priests, realize the importance of mission work, Father Oh launched the Support Group for Foreign Mission in early August at Allak Church in Pusan diocese <javascript:cromelesswinb ('f_map.asp?pname=&photo=ko_pusan_diocese.gif',0,0,150,480,'testb','yes')>. He earlier started another support group in Namsan Church in 2000, when he was its parish priest. The Allak Church group, which has 370 members, is collecting donations that will be sent to Korean nuns who work in Mongolia, Father Oh said. Namsan Church, also in Pusan diocese, has sent 13 million won (US$13,700) annually to Korean missioners in 22 foreign countries since 2000, according to Mathew Kang Ki-soo, head of the support group there. Donations are collected and sent each month to Korean missioners in the foreign country selected for that month. Kang told UCA News Aug. 31 that currently 280 members of the group donate more than 2,000 won each on a monthly basis. (UCAN)

Mexico: Church and Politics

The Mexico City Archdiocese condemned the protesters' recent disruption of Mass at the cathedral as an "aggression against the church." Lopez Obrador's Democratic Revolution Party is one of the most secular-oriented parties in Mexico and regularly questions church involvement in politics. But like the vast majority in Mexico, the party's members are mostly Catholics. Party leaders said members should be free to express their politics during church services and accused the National Action Party of trying to corner the political market on religion. "It seems to me that the doors of the temples should be open to all citizens, whatever their political preferences," Jesus Ortega, Lopez Obrador's campaign chief, said at an Aug. 20 press conference. "Some think they have a monopoly on the Catholic Church and that they have a monopoly on God." Democratic Revolution Party officials have criticized the National Action Party for prominently placing images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico's patron saint, around party headquarters during victory celebrations on election night. Calderon has been keeping a low profile as the electoral court weighs Lopez Obrador's legal challenges, and National Action Party officials did not return repeated calls requesting comment.

Moscow: Russian Orthodox Church Strengthens Ties with North Korea

A delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate has completed a visit to North Korea that included the consecration of a Russian Orthodox Church in the capital, Pyongyang. On 13 August Kirill consecrated the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity, built by “personal decree of North Korean leader Jim Jong-II”. The history of the Russian Orthodox Church’s mission to Korea stretches back to the late 19th century. In 1949 during the Korean War in which the then Soviet Union backed the North, the work of the mission was cut short by South Korean authorities, the Moscow Patriarchate’s press service reports. But it said a positive impression was made on Kim Jong-II by a visit to a Russian Orthodox church in Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East during a train journey across the country. This set the course for the mission’s revival. Following this: “He declared of his desire to build in Pyonyang an Orthodox church that would become ‘a symbol of the friendship of the Russian and Korean peoples”, the press service reported. At a reception at the Palace of People’s Culture, Kirill referred to the construction of the church as “God’s miracle, which was carried out by the hands of people, including the leader of the Korean People’s Democratic Republic Kim Jong-II. (ENI)

Moscow: Relations with Rome Improving, Says Russian Orthodox Leader

The Russian Orthodox Church leader in charge of inter-denominational contacts has said relations with the Roman Catholic Church have steadily improved since the ascent of Pope Benedict XVI. “After the election of Pope Benedict XVI our dialogue became more intensive,” Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily newspaper. “And that’s why I have a much more positive attitude to the level of Orthodox-Catholic relations than previously,” Kirill said in the interview published on 1 August, which covered topics including morality, President Vladimir Putins’s religious faith, and Islam in Russia. In the August interview, Metropolitan Kirill said the two churches had much in common in counteracting “the policy of pushing religion out of public life”. (ENI)

Namibia, Windhoek: Salvation Army to Return after 67 Years

The Salvation Army has announced that it is to return to Namibia in November after a 67-year absence from the formerly South African-administered territory. “We feel our caring ministry will make great contributions in such areas as caring for the homeless, the elderly and AIDS, sufferers with special emphasis on children orphaned by the epidemic,” Captain Barry Swartz, the army’s territorial secretary for Southern Africa, told Ecumenical News International by telephone from South Africa. The denomination, which uses military-style uniforms, flags and ranks to identify its members and its work is known for its humanitarian and social service work. Its roots go back to 1865 when William Booth, a London minister, gave up his pulpit to take his message into the streets to reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute. Noting dominance of the Lutheran church in the country, which commands the allegiance of at least 50 per cent of Namibia’s estimated 2 million people, Swartz said the Salvation Army was not returning to the country to compete but “to fill the gaps. Namibia has one of sub-Saharan Africa’s highest HIV rates and it is estimated that 150000 children have been orphaned by the pandemic. Swartz said the Salvation Army undertook a fact-finding mission to Namibia in June and had noted that many Salvationists had settled there, particularly from neighbouring Zimbabwe, which is experiencing an economic and political crisis. (ENI)

New York: Catholics Should Let Priests Marry, Zambian Archbishop Tells US Press

A Zambian Roman Catholic archbishop who garnered headlines in 2001 for his marriage to a Korean woman which he later renounced under pressure from the Vatican has launched a campaign seeking an end to his Church’s rules about celibacy. “The Church has nothing to lose by allowing priests the option to marry,” Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo said in a statement announcing the campaign. “Historically, out of holy marriages have come priests popes and loving servants of God and the Church.” In Rome, the Vatican press office said it would “deplore” Milingo’s statements if they proved to be true, “Church discipline on this matter being well known.” The archbishop was reported to have gone missing from his Rome apartment in June. He was joined at the Washington press conference by Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, an excommunicated priest and a founder of the African American Catholic Congregation, a US denomination. “Archbishop Milingo is not seeking to defy or divide the [Catholic] Church, but is acting out of deep love for the Church and concern for its future,” Stallings said. Milingo had long been considered a controversial figure within his church because of his healing ministry and exorcisms, conducted first in Zambia and later in Italy, after he had been moved by the Vatican to Rome in 1983. He was accused of witchcraft and going too far in mixing his African spirituality with Christianity. (ENI)

South African: Bishops Warn Against Ancestor Worship, Traditional Practices

The Catholic bishops of South Africa have warned against excessive reverence for ancestors, the Fides news service reports. The bishops said: "The belief that ancestors are endowed with supernatural powers borders on idolatry." "We notice with a measure of concern that many African Christians, during difficult moments in their lives, resort to practices of the traditional religion" the South African bishops said in a recent Pastoral Statement "Ancestor Religion and the Christian Faith." The bishops refer to practices which include "the intervention of ancestral spirits, the engagement of spirit-mediums, spirit-possession, consulting diviners about lost items and about the future, magical practices and identifying (smelling out) one's enemies, etc."? "What is even more disturbing," the bishops write, "is the fact that some priests and the religious (and lay people from other professions; teachers, doctors, nurses, etc.) have resorted to becoming diviner-healers." To answer the challenge posed by this reliance on traditional religious practices, the South African bishop issued their statement explicitly renouncing cultural elements that contradict the Gospel message, and reaffirming the significance of the ordained priesthood. "Priests act in the person of Christ and not in the persons of their ancestral spirits," the bishops remind the faithful. "They receive authority and power from the Church and not from undergoing a ritual to become a diviner-healer. The claim to a double source of power and authority confuses Christians and undermines the image of the priest because the one contradicts the other." (FIDES)

Sri Lanka: 300,000 Marian Devotees Gather to Pray for Peace

In conflict-torn Sri Lanka, 300,000 devotees from all over the country came to the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka to pray for the sick, as they do every year, but also for lasting peace. The basilica, which is just north of Colombo, observes an annual day for the sick on the last Sunday of August, which fell on Aug. 27 this year. "There is no peace in our country. But every year we gather like this and pray for peace. We believe that our mother Mary will grant us peace," A.H. Samarasinghe, 55, told UCA News. He came with his family to the basilica four days before the observance from Thoduwawa Parish in Chilaw diocese about 125 kilometers north of Colombo. Under the theme of Win Peace through Forgiveness, the solemn healing and prayer service started around 2 p.m. Over 300 priests and Religious from several dioceses also came and prayed with the lay devotees. Before adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the gathering implored the Blessed Mother to "give us peace," as they recited the "Prayer to Our Lady for Our Country." (UCAN)

Warsaw: Nazi-era Naval Vessel to be Turned into Floating Church in Croatia

A Roman Catholic monastery in Croatia has found use for a former German naval vessel by arranging to have it turned into a floating church. “It will be used as a sailing Church for the young, who will be able to travel the Adriatic, pray and meditate as part of church-sponsored religious cruises.” The DTM-219 landing ship was last used for transporting troops and tanks during the Second World War. Croatia’s defence ministry donated the vessel to the Salesian monastery near Sibenik, where it is to be refitted and adapted for its new sacral purposes at a local shipyard, Roman Catholics make up 88 per cent of the 4.5 million inhabitants of Croatia. (ENI)

II. BOOKS

Franz-Josef Eilers, Interreligious Dialogue as Communication, Manila: Logos (Divine Word) Publications, Inc., 2005.

The communication dimension of Interreligious Dialogue has never been specially addressed and studied. For this very reason this book contains the proceedings of the meeting by the FABC Office of Social Communication for the Bishops under the theme Interreligious Dialogue as Communication.

L. Stanislaus and John F.Gorski, Sharing Diversity in Missiological Research and Education: Issues of Theological Language and Intercultural Communication, Delhi: Ishvani Kendra / ISPCK, 2006.

This book contains the proceedings of the Second General Assembly of the International Association of Catholic Missiologists (IACM) which was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia from 30 September to 03 October, 2004.

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)