Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
March / 2007
Bangkok, Thailand: Jesuit Refugee Service Says Displaced Women Need Protection and Assistance
Many women refugees from various countries, from neighbouring Myanmar and Laos, but also from as far away as Sudan seek shelter in Thailand. Some are alone but many come with children seeking a better life and future. Many fall into the trap of the racket of prostitution and crime, and those who have the courage to report to the authorities are sent to centres for illegal immigrants where living conditions are awful. On the occasion of International Women’s Day March 8 this fact was reported by the Jesuit Refugee Service to call attention to the tragedy of women refugees especially in countries where there is no respect for individual rights and dignity. Various NGOs including JRS are in Thailand to provide women refugees with material, psychological and legal assistance to help them and insert themselves in society. Too often women are denied asylum, fundamental rights and equal opportunities. (Agenzia Fides)
Brazil: Belém do Pará: Marian Shrines
From 9-11 March one of Brazil’s two main Marian Shrines the Basilica of Our Lady of Nazareth in Belém do Pará hosted a Symposium of Marian Pastoral work. The Symposium, which brought together rectors of Shrines from all over Latin America, was part of preparations for CELAM 5 the General Conference of the Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conferences to be held in Brazil in May at Aparecida. The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Brazil Archbishop Angelo Geraldo Majella of São Salvatore dà Baia, underlined the importance of CELAM 5. (Fides Service)
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: The Fire of Revival
In 1906, when the Azusa Street Revival was bringing tongues-speaking, healing, prophesying ‘Pentecostalism back to the world’, mockers said it would be a flash in the pan, a momentary fad of misguided fanatics. But Pentecostalism, 100-plus years later, is now a fiery revival sweeping much of the planet from Africa to Asia to Latin America. This revival consists of more than 500 million Pentecostals and charismatics. And that makes it the world's fastest growing religious movement. Some Muslims and Mormons might dispute that, but there's no doubt that if this growth rate continues, Pentecostalism is set to become a dominant influence in many nations. Take Brazil, the world's largest Catholic country, where some 40 per cent of the people now describe themselves as Pentecostals, neo-Pentecostals, or charismatics, and thousands more come every week as the revival races on. Those in the midst of it say a major reason for this revival’s spreading is because each believer is armed to take the Gospel to his home, his neighborhood and his own particular marketplace. (CBNNews.com)
China: The Patriotic Association (PA) has launched a Violent Campaign Against Underground Catholics in Xiwanzi
This was denounced in an appeal from some faithful that reached AsiaNews. Prompted by the local authorities, the police are on a manhunt, with door-to-door searches for underground priests to make them inscribe to the PA. Believers who refuse to collaborate and to act as spies are arrested or left without work. Those with shops are forced to shut down. The auxiliary bishop of the diocese, Mgr Yao Liang, has been missing in police custody since 30 July. There are also 20 believers and two priests in prison. The appeal that reached AsiaNews ended with a plea: “Brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the Christian faith in China may be truly free!” The diocese of Xiwanzi (Hebei) is a diocese of the underground Church, with 15,000 members, around 260 km north of Beijing, nearly at the border with Inner Mongolia. On 28 July last, the faithful were getting ready for a pilgrimage to Mount Muozi, in Inner Mongolia, a tradition in place for 100 years. But for the first time, the police banned it and monitored all churches for 24 hours a day. On 30 July, the religious affairs office invited Mgr Yao Liang to Zhangjiakou (the centre of the district) to “discuss with him the restitution of some properties of the church” but instead they kidnapped him and held him in prison. “They deceived the bishop and so far we have heard nothing of him,” said the appeal. In Hebei, the region with the highest number of Catholics, a harsh campaign of repression against the unofficial church has been under way for years in a bid to force it to join the PA. (asianews.it)
India, Bangalore: Evangelization Convention Stresses Church's Missionary Thrust
A national convention on evangelization has stressed the need to make the Church in India less institutional and more missionary. The March 8-9 convention asserted that the Indian Church should emphasize more direct methods of evangelization such as "witnessing, involving with the needy, dialoguing with cultures, religions and the poor." The meeting's final statement calls for wider participation of Catholics to make Church activities "more vibrant, present and active." It calls for lay people to become the "good news themselves" and play a greater role in retelling the story of Jesus in various contexts, cultures and realities. Toward this, it wants every member of the Church to be part of a parish, community or diocesan dialogue center and to interact with people of other religions and cultures. The convention proposed that October be declared "mission month," with various evangelizing activities organized in each diocese. The statement calls on the Church in India to shift from "a maintenance module to a missionary module" to reach out to the masses. The Pontifical Mission Society (PMS) and the Commission of Proclamation of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) jointly organized the program in Bangalore. (UCAN)
Italy: Church-State Showdown: Italian Bill Proposes Rights for Unwed Couples
An Italian legislative proposal that would grant some legal rights to unwed couples – including same-sex partners – has set the stage for a major church-state showdown. On one side is a wide spectrum of Italian social and political forces, including many lay Catholics, who say the bill would end discrimination against unwed couples in areas of health care, pensions, housing and employment. On the other side is the Italian bishops’ conference, which has argued that the lay would undermine marriage and the traditional family. Some bishops have warned Catholic legislators that they are duty-bound to vote against the proposal. (CNS)
Manila: Around 10,000 Youth and Political and Cultural Personalities Participated in a Pro-life Rally
Ali Atienza, chairman of Manila’s Inner-City Development, led the rally and said: "Poor governance causes poverty. Good government is Pro-Life.” Pro-Life is also the rallying call of the Pro-Life Philippines. The president of this organization is Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, father of Ali. Towards evening, participants gathered in the sports complex and civic centre of San Andres and approved a manifesto to actively promote the activities of Pro-Life Philippines. The manifesto states that life is a blessing from God and each one should be safeguarded by avoiding pre-marital sex and fighting abortions and smoking, drugs and alcohol. The rally was attended by many university organizations. Youth for Life is a movement that promotes the value of life, often in collaboration with events organized by mayor Lito Atienza. Its activities include debates and screening films and performances. (asianews.it)
Manila: Philippine Churches Urged: Use 10 Commandments for Politics
Roman Catholic bishops, Protestant and Evangelical leaders have been told they can go beyond their call for honest, orderly and peaceful elections of Philippine officials in May by making the Ten Commandments a Christian guide to politics. An organized Catholic bishops’ ‘intervention’ looks to having the coming elections as clean and peaceful, wrote political columnist Adrian Cristobal in the Manila Bulletin newspaper. “But the bishops could go further. It’s rather strange that they have not made the Ten Commandments the guide for candidates who all proclaim themselves ‘pro-God, pro-poor, and pro-country’.” Catholic traditional Protestants and Evangelicals are cooperating to help educate voters for 14 May, when Filipinos will elect 12 senators, 212 lower house representatives, and hundreds of provincial governors and town mayors. (ENI)
Manila: Masses Transmitted Via Internet
The Catholic Charismatic Community of Edsa Shrine, the Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, in Quezon City plans to beam live Masses via the Internet in 2007. In February, the community will begin operations on their website at www.edsashrine.com The aim is to spread the Christian message to as wide an audience as possible. The Edsa Shrine was erected in 1988 as a living memory of Our Lady’s role in the 1986 peaceful revolution that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship. (CBCP MONITOR/OSC)
Pakistan, Faisalabad: Death Threats for Interfaith Programme
The Catholic bishop of Faisalabad and two Muslims, a scholar and a journalist, received death threats after attending an interfaith programme held in a local madrassah some months ago. A hitherto unknown extremist group calling itself the “Islamic Soldiers Front” claimed responsibility for threatening with letters and phone calls which branded the three men as “infidels”. Mgr Joseph Coutts, who heads the diocese of Faisalabad, said: “We are not going to be terrorized by such intimidations, we will continue our interfaith activities for social harmony and peace in the country.” Recent years have seen the development of positive relations between Christians and Muslims in Faisalabad, the third largest city of Pakistan. A great thanks to the leading role played by Mgr Coutts in the local committees in which there are many Muslims too. What’s more, NGOs are working together to promote dialogue and mutual respect. (asianews.it)
Rome: From Rome to Kolkata, A “Charity” Rosary Via Satellite
On the occasion of the 5th European University Day, which the Pope presided, there was a satellite link-up with young people in India, Hong Kong, Pakistan and the Philippines. For young Chinese, it was almost like a pastoral visit. A Rosary prayer as “a bridge for universal charity” linked two “world symbols of God’s love, the Pope and the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata,” Mgr Lucas Sirkar, archbishop of Kolkata, described to AsiaNews. Young Europeans as well as students from India, Hong Kong, Pakistan and the Philippines took part in the event via satellite. At the end of the Rosary, the Pope gave student representatives the Apostolic Exhortations Ecclesia in Europa and Ecclesia in Asia. The prayer meeting between Indian university students and the Pope was held in the crypt of the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity where the remains of the Blessed Teresa of Kolkata rest. (asianews.it)
Tanzania: African Church Leaders Urged to Take Action
African Christians ask their leaders to concentrate on political, social and health issues, not just on gays and lesbians. Anglican Christians in parts of Africa are calling on their leaders attending the 2007 Primates Meeting in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania this week, to concentrate on real issues and not spend so much time debating the rights of gay men and lesbian women. Those who criticize the amounts of time and energy spent debating gay issues say there should be a focus on the catastrophic spread of HIV/AIDS, widespread and pervasive poverty, severe drought, lack of governmental transparency and how the church can use its moral influence to remove despots from power. Prominent African Anglicans sympathetic to gays, such as the increasingly popular Archbishop of Cape Town, Mjongonkuku, and his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, are urging church leaders gathered in Dar es Salaam for six days, ending 19 February, to concentrate on poverty, HIV/AIDS, climate change and political oppression rather than gay issues that threaten to split the worldwide Anglican community of 75 million people. But one real issue the prelates will find impossible to sidestep is the leader of the Anglican community in Zimbabwe, the Bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, who has been accused by his own priests of terrorizing Christians and turning his diocese into a branch of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party. (IWPR)
Tokyo: Religious Freedom in Japan ‘in crisis’, Warns Catholic Priest
A Japanese Roman Catholic priest who sued Tokyo’s war shrine in August over its enshrinement of his war-dead Christian father alongside convicted war criminals, has warned that religious freedom in Japan is “in crisis”. “The Yasukuni Shrine is at the opposite side of the Gospel of peace. And the Gospel is now in crisis,” said the Rev.Toshihiko Nishiyama, referring to proposed changes to the Japanese Constitution by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The changes, Nishiyama asserted, are designed to limit religious freedom and to undermine the roots of democracy and pacifism. (ENI)
Uzbekistan, Tashkent: A Protestant Confined for 4 years “For His Sermons”
That’s the penalty inflicted on pastor Shestakov, detained since January; according to local sources he is “guilty” of having carried out many conversions. Police film and interrogate anyone who attends Church. The Andijan court yesterday condemned Protestant Pastor Dmitry Shestakov to 4 years confinement for his religious activities. Meanwhile across the country persecution of Christians is on the increase, they are registered, threatened and put on trial. Forum 18 agency reports that Shestakov was accused of “illegally organizing religious groups”, “inciting ethnic, racial or religious hatred” and “distributing materials containing ideas of religious extremism”. During the trial Shestakov was not assisted by his defence lawyer, taken ill, but by a state lawyer. National media repeatedly reported the pastor and his followers to be drug and alcohol addicts as well as religious fanatics. The location where Shestakov - in prison since January 21 – will spend his confinement term is unknown. The Pentecostal Church has been seeking registration for over 7 years, but it still has not been granted; for this reason its activities are judged “illegal”. Only the Islamic and Christian Orthodox faiths are permitted in the region, the protestant communions are still deemed illegal. (asianews.it)
Vatican City: Pope Warns that Family in Latin America is Showing Signs of Erosion
Pope Benedict XVI warned that the family in Latin America is showing signs of erosion, as evidenced by increasing divorce, cohabitation and adultery. He said the church should help resist legislative lobbies that are advancing an anti-family agenda in the region and undermining the institution of marriage. The pope, who will travel to Brazil to personally open the fifth general conference of the Latin American bishops, reviewed a long list of challenges to the church in Latin America. He said priority attention should be given to the family, which "shows signs of yielding under the pressure of lobbies which are capable of negatively influencing the legislative process." "Divorce and free unions are increasing, while adultery is looked upon with unjustifiable tolerance." He said the church needs to underline that marriage and the family are based on truths about the nature of man, and that the human community must be built upon the strong foundation of "faithful and stable conjugal love between a man and a woman." The pope said the church's strong social role in Latin America was one of its biggest assets and this is one reason why the people hold the church in high esteem. (CNS)
Vatican City: Vatican Notes Errors in Liberation Theologian Jon Sobrino's Work
“Works by Jesuit Father Jon Sobrino contain ‘notable discrepancies with the faith of the Church,’ ”states a notification published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The document signed by the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery, Cardinal William Levada, explains that these discrepancies affect central questions of Christianity. According to the Congregation, the discrepancies are related to the following themes: the divinity of Jesus Christ, the incarnation, the relationship between Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, the self-consciousness of Jesus and the salvific value of his death. Doctrinal Congregation focuses on two of his books.
Vatican, United Nations: Struggle for Gender Equality Should Not Ignore Differences, Says Vatican
In his March 8 UN address, Mgr Migliore explains that the tendency to blur differences between men and women does not help equality but rather undermines society and the family. The two sexes are complementary, not antithetical. The struggle for equality can be “authentic” if the “difference and the complementarity between men and women” is recognized. The tendency “to blur, if not entirely deny, the differences between men and women” in favour of the “the purely cultural dimension [. . .] has [an] impact on the stability of society and of families.” Mgr Migliore said that search for equality between men and women has had positive results but stressed that the overall “struggle for equality would not be authentic” if there was not a parallel recognition of their physical differences and roles, which lead to mutual respect. (asianews.it)
Vietnam, Quy Nhon: Vatican Delegation's Visit Strengthens Local Catholics' Faith
Catholics in the oldest diocese in central Vietnam warmly greeted a visiting Vatican delegation and expect the visit to strengthen their faith. During a working visit to Vietnam March 5 -11, the Holy See delegation led by Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Vatican undersecretary for relations with states, spent two days visiting Quy Nhon diocese. Monsignor Parolin was accompanied by Monsignor Luis Mariano Montemayor of the Vatican Secretariat of State and Vietnamese-born Monsignor Barnabe Nguyen Van Phuong of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Monsignor Phuong has been on every delegation from the Holy See to Vietnam since 1989. The diocese is the cradle of the Catholic Church in southern Vietnam. Foreign missioners introduced the Good News to local people as early as 1615. From the establishment of the first two dioceses of Dang Trong (Cochinchina) and Dang Ngoai (Tonkin) in 1659, the area of present-day Quy Nhon diocese was the headquarters of foreign missioners who evangelized in southern Vietnam. (UCAN)
The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed members of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue. Cardinals Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and many others are appointed to this Council. (Agenzia Fides)
Vatican City: Pope Pens Exhortation on the Eucharist "Sacrament of Charity"
Based on Work of 2005 Synod, Benedict XVI released his second major document, an apostolic exhortation that reflects the conclusions of the 2005 synod on the Eucharist on 13 March. At a press conference today, Cardinal Angelo Scola and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic presented the document, "Sacramentum Caritatis" (Sacrament of Charity). The document, dated Feb. 22, reflects the conclusions of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome from Oct. 2 to 23, 2005. Cardinal Scola, who was the relator general of the synodal assembly, said the title of the apostolic exhortation reaffirms "the Holy Father's insistence over these two years of his pontificate on the truth of love."
Oborji, Francis Anekwe, Concepts of Mission: The Evolution of Contemporary Missiology, Maryknoll: Orbis, 2006.
This is a book for theologians, missionaries, and Church leaders who want a trustworthy overview of the fundamentals of mission.
Amaladoss, Michael, We Believe: Understanding the Roots of Our Faith, Mumbai: St. Paul’s Society, 2005.
This book mainly clarifies many misconceptions of God and imparts better understanding of Jesus and the Holy Spirit and helps to deepen the readers’ understanding of the very roots of our Christian Faith.
Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)
Please forward this Mission Scan to any of your friends and acquaintances.