Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
April / 2007
China: Beijing Publishes the Names of Over 6 Thousand Industrial Polluters
A list of the nation’s worst polluters has been published on a public office website on the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa) website: 3.592 guilty of air pollution and 3.115 polluters of water. China is the country worst affected by acid rain caused by sulphur dioxide and by 2009, it could overtake the United States as the world’s greatest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, the worst among green house gases. (AsiaNews)
Harare: Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishops Attack Mugabe's Rule
Zimbabwe's Catholic bishops have accused President Robert Mugabe and his officials of running a bad and corrupt government and called for radical political reforms to avoid a revolt in the southern African state. In a pastoral letter posted on Church notice boards during the Easter weekend, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said economic hardship and political repression had led to widespread anger, leaving the nation "in extreme danger". "The reasons for the anger are many, among them bad governance and corruption," they said in their strongest attack on Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party in years. The Catholic Church is the biggest Christian denomination in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is a Catholic and attends Church regularly. The bishops also condemned the violent March 11 crackdown on anti-Mugabe activists, which forced the country's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and others to seek medical treatment for injuries they say they sustained in police custody. (news.scotsman.com)
Kuala Lumpur: Non Muslims Pray Together for Return to Full Religious Freedom
For the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia and other non Muslim religious groups, recent court cases forcing non Muslims to appear before the Sharia Court are tantamount to suppression of religious freedom and an insult to human dignity. They run askance of the country’s constitution which stipulates instead that only Muslims come under its jurisdiction. As a way of protest against the threats to religious freedom, the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism launched a week-long, nation-wide prayer campaign staggered over a 14-day period between March 31 and April 13. Each group begins and ends according to its own schedule. In its press release, the Council announced that a brief statement will be made at the special prayer meetings explaining the fears that have motivated the various communities to joint together in prayer for “the return to religious freedom as enshrined in the constitution.” The Council’s chairman, Chee Peck Kiat, said that the “Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no believer should be subject to the laws of another religion.” (AsiaNews)
Manila Filipino Bishops Celebrating Easter on ‘YouTube’
In addition to churches, Filipino bishops celebrated Easter this year on YouTube. They inaugurated in fact their own YouTube video blog last week by posting Church teachings and reflections on the essence of Holy Week for the benefit of Filipinos, especially the young, around the world, thus heeding the call of the late Pope John Paul II to make the most of the Internet to spread the Gospel. “The launching was timed for Holy Week, it being the most appropriate time to issue short catechesis on the liturgical significance of the celebrations that have been most misunderstood,” said Mgr. Pedro Quitorio III, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and director of its Media Office. The first CBCP video blogs feature Quitorio in a Holy Week series where he discusses various Easter traditions, such as the Washing of the Feet, Visits to Churches and the Veneration of the Cross. The “CBCP’s YouTube account is intended for the young faithful today who are more inclined to listen to the latest technology rather than the age-old-sermon,” he said. “It seemed a good way to reach our target audience.” (AsiaNews)
Mexico: Liberal Mexican Catholic Group Announces Support for Legalized Abortion
A liberal Latin American Roman Catholic group published a paid ad defending abortion in national Mexican newspapers, a day after several thousand people summoned by Mexico's Catholic Church protested against a proposal to legalize the procedure. "The decision to interrupt a pregnancy is a serious ethical dilemma," the non-governmental organization, Catholics for the Right to Choose, wrote in the ad. "Women who resort to this option don't do it with joy in their hearts; they do it as a last resort after considering all of the consequences, and they make the decision responsibly, according to their conscience." Mexico's largest leftist party, the Democratic Revolution Party, supported by smaller opposition forces, has proposed a law both in the Mexico City legislature and in the national Congress that would legalize abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. Current law allows abortion only if the woman's life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest. Led by Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera, several thousand anti-abortion protesters marched through the streets Sunday to oppose the measure. (latimes.com)
Moscow: Joint Easter in Russia, Faithful from the Two Sister Churches Celebrate in Joy
In an atmosphere of unity and joy Christians celebrated Easter in Russia. Unlike most other years, Catholics and Orthodox observed the event on the same day this year. “We were fortunate to celebrate the festivity together,” said one Moscow Catholic. “The atmosphere in the streets was great and it gave a chance to sincerely show that we can be together in spite of our differences.” Local media treatment of the Easter Tridum was quite thorough, including live coverage. Still in interviews some of the faithful said they had hoped that the networks could have had more documentaries or public affairs shows dealing with issues relating to Christ or His Passion. In addition to better relations between believers, the Sister Churches showed also positive signs at the leadership level. Fr Igor Vyzhanov, secretary of the External Relations Department at Moscow’s Russian Orthodox Patriarchate, attended the vigil mass celebrated by Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, head of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow. (AsiaNews)
New Delhi: Despite Greater Literacy Christians Face More Unemployment and Job Discrimination
Despite a higher literacy rate Indian Christians are more likely to be unemployed than the national average, this according to a study by the government’s National Sample Survey Organization for 2004-2005. The survey indicated that in rural areas, the unemployment rate was higher among the Christians (4.4 per cent) as compared to Hindus (1.5 per cent) or Muslims (2.3 per cent). However, Christians also had the lowest illiteracy rate for both rural (20 per cent for men and 31 per cent women) and urban areas (6 per cent for men and 11 per cent for women). Except for rural women, the proportion of literates among the Hindus was higher as compared to Muslims. The worker/population ratio or WPR (i.e. the proportion of people employed) among men in rural areas was highest among Christians (56 per cent), followed by Hindus (55 per cent) and Muslims (50 per cent). For women, the ratio was 36 per cent for Christians, 34 per cent for Hindus and 18 per cent for Muslims. The WPR among men in urban areas was highest for Hindus at 56 per cent followed by Muslims (53 per cent) and Christians (51 per cent). In case of women, the WPR was highest for Christians at 24 per cent, followed by Hindus (17 per cent) and Muslims (12 per cent). The survey also showed that nearly 49 per cent of Muslim households in urban areas were self-employed as against 36 per cent for Hindu households and 27 per cent for Christians. The survey covered 7,999 villages and 124,680 sample households. (AsiaNews)
New Delhi: Indian Missionaries in 160 Countries
According to the 2006 CRI Directory, there are 121,552 religious men and women in 321 Religious Congregations in the Indian Church. According to the latest survey, conducted in 2005, about 15 per cent of the Indian Religious are actively involved in various mission activities in different parts of the world today. Indian missionaries are present in Europe 54 per cent, Africa 19 per cent, America 17 per cent, Asia 8 per cent, and Pacific 2 per cent. The major presence of the missionaries is found in the eight counties: Italy 24 per cent; Germany 18 per cent; USA 9 per cent; Kenya 3 per cent; South Africa 3 per cent; France 3 per cent; Philippines 2 per cent; and UK 1 per cent. The significant ministries are pastoral, social educational and health: 28 per cent engaged in pastoral Ministries; 26 per cent are involved in health ministries; 18 per cent religious are students or under formation; 13 per cent are engaged in social ministries; 8 per cent are in education ministry; 7 per cent are involved in various other ministries such as administration, formation, mission centers, etc. The global economy and its impact on Indian missionary movement is a matter to be studied. (Religious India)
Nigeria ABUJA, It’s Catholicism Future – Strong Parish Life, Vocations Mark African Church
Catholicism in sub-Saharan Africa grew by 6,708 per cent in the 20th century, from 1.9 million to 130 million. Christianity is still on the march in Nigeria, moving from just 4 per cent of the population in 1900 to, by some counts, a slight majority today. In the historically Muslim city of Kaduna in northern Nigeria, for example, signs of the Christian presence are now ubiquitous; it’s hard to travel more than 50 feet without seeing a banner announcing a revival, and even local businesses carry names such as the “Jesus Saves Aluminum Company” or the “Power of the Holy Ghost Beauty Salon.” By 2050, Nigeria is expected to be the ninth largest Catholic country in the world, with 47 million faithful, more than traditional European Catholic powerhouses, such as Spain and Poland. These realities have convinced many observers that Africa is the future of Catholicism in the 21st century. If so, the $64,000 question is: What kind of future? A week in early March spent talking to Nigerians up and down the country, as well as to foreigners with long experience in the country, suggests the following profile: - Booming vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Bigard Memorial Seminary in southeastern Nigeria, with an enrollment of more than 1,000, is said to be the largest Catholic seminary in the world. At the same time, Nigerians are being baptized even faster than they’re being ordained, so there’s no “priest surplus.” Strong parishes, with a tremendous sense of grass-roots ownership and commitment can hold a bright future. (catholic.org)
Philippines, Quezon City: Young Indonesian Priest Shot Dead in Northern Philippines
A young Indonesian Divine Word priest on mission in the northern Philippines was shot and killed while preparing for Palm Sunday Mass on April 1. Father Fransiskus Madhu was gunned down at 5:30 p.m. in Mabungtot Elementary School in Lubuagan, Kalinga province, reported Father Jerome Adriatico, superior of the Philippine Northern Province of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Masses are held in the public school because there is no church in that community about 320 kilometers north of Manila. The slain priest's superior spoke with UCA News April 2 while en route to Lubuagan. He said Bishop Prudencio Andaya of Tabuk had confirmed reports of Father Madhu's death. As of April 2, no clear motive had been established. The 30-year-old priest from Ende, on the predominantly Catholic Indonesian island of Flores, was shot in the lower abdomen "for no reason at all," Father Adriatico told UCA News. "There was no provocation; there was no altercation." (UCAN)
Seoul: Dialogue Affirmed as Key to Mission, but not without Proclamation
Speakers from Asia and the Holy See stressed dialogue and inculturation as twin pillars of evangelization at a conference here, but said these tools must remain subordinate to proclamation of the Gospel. "Each Church faces the challenge to make the Gospel (an) integral part of her culture and life. In order to succeed, an open dialogue is needed in the framework of the Church's universal heritage and tradition. However, dialogue cannot be separated from proclamation," Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig told 350 priests, Religious and laypeople at the March 23 conference. The archbishop, apostolic nuncio to Korea, delivered the keynote address for the event, held at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul. The conference, with the theme Evangelization of Asia: Its Past, Present and Future, was organized by Daegu archdiocese's The Catholic Times to mark the weekly's 80th anniversary on April 1. (UCAN)
South Africa: Bishop Defies Vatican on Condoms
“It was the women who got to him,” he said. It was because of the women that he just couldn't go on as he had. Kevin Dowling, the Roman Catholic bishop of the diocese of Rustenberg, confided this unrepentantly. "My passion is for the women," he said. "I'm in that corner." There are so many women here with stories of pain. Dowling heard them, and he did what he knew was the right thing: distributed condoms. It could have cost him his job and the community that has become his life. It hasn't - not yet. But he won't keep quiet, no matter how closely Rome watches, and so that risk is ever present. Freedom Park is a vast, sun-baked sprawl of 5,000 shacks made of salvaged scraps of tin propped up cheek by jowl. It has no electricity, no water and the streets turn to impenetrable ooze in the rain. It was given its optimistic name with the end of apartheid in 1994, but freedom has in many ways proved elusive: This is just one of a half-dozen squatter camps that are home to 100,000 people near South Africa's border with Botswana. The Vatican forbids the use of condoms in any circumstance; it says the sole way to protect oneself from AIDS is abstinence and fidelity in marriage. Dowling says that doctrine has no relevance in Freedom Park. "Abstinence before marriage and faithfulness in a marriage is beyond the realm of possibility here," he said. "The issue is to protect life. That must be our fundamental goal." (www.knoxnews.com)
UK: Abolition of Slave Trade
March 25, 2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the first act of parliament sponsored by William Wilberforce in the United Kingdom, which eventually led to the abolition of the slave trade. The 200th anniversary is significant because it is a landmark in the consciousness of world citizens. It is a date many would want to remember for good because it marked the beginning of the end of a trade that dehumanized humanity. Unfortunately even today, slavery still exists in one form or the other, and while the late Chief Moshood Abiola led a campaign to force the western world to pay reparation to the Africans for their past misdeeds today it will seem that Africans themselves are guilty of the modern slave trade. (virtueonline.org)
UK: British PM Expresses Regret for African Slave Trade
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed Britain's "regret" for its role in the African slave trade, abolished 200 years ago. In a video statement on the 200th anniversary of Britain's abolition of the trade Sunday, Mr. Blair said his country regrets the "unbearable suffering" the slave trade caused Africans and Africa as a whole. The statement - which aired in Britain and in Ghana during commemorations there - fell short of demands for a formal apology. Earlier Sunday, the Church of England's first black archbishop, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, said Britain should formally apologize for its role in the slave trade. Speaking on British television (BBC), the Ugandan-born cleric said an informal apology earlier this month by Prime Minister Tony Blair should be taken a step further. On Saturday, Archbishop Sentamu led thousands of people in a march in London, with some marchers wearing yokes and chains. Leaders said the march was a way Anglicans could try to heal historic injustice inflicted in the name of the church. Last year, the Church of England officially apologized for its role in the slave trade in British colonies and the archbishops asked people to reflect on the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. (VOA News)
Warsaw: Polish Nuns ‘Proved Toucher’ Than Priests Against Secret Police
Poland’s Roman Catholic nuns withstood pressure from the communist-era secret police far more robustly than male clergy, some new research shows. “It’s obviously hard to make comparisons,” said Jolanta Olech, president of Poland’s Conference of Superiors of Female Religious Orders. “But the documentation shows nuns proved much tougher than priests. We can certainly say that, in this very difficult situation, the sisters passed the test.” The Ursuline order nun was speaking as investigations continued into the Polish church’s infiltration by the communist-era secret police called the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB), following the 7 January resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw. Olech told Ecumenical News International the SB made “determined efforts” to find agents among Poland’s 27,000 nuns. She noted, however, that interior ministry files suggested no more than 30 were recruited nationwide during the 1980’s, a hundred times fewer than in the case of Roman Catholic priests. (ENI)
Osborne, Kenan B., Orders and Ministry, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2006.
The author explores the history and theology of ministry starting from the premise that the ministry of Jesus is the paradigm for all Christian ministries.
Bonk, Jonathan J., Missions and Money, Revised and Expanded, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2006.
In this revised edition of Missions and Money, Bonk offers new reflections in the lights of a changed situation, now marked by increasing number of short-term missioners from Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Skreslet, Stanley H., Picturing Christian Witness: New Testament Images of Disciples in Mission, Michigan/Cambridge: Grand Rapids, 2006.
This book is very good resource material for classes on mission and biblical studies.
Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)
Please forward this Mission Scan to any of your friends and acquaintances.