53

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

June  – 2007

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Brazil, Aparecida: Pope - Church has “Irresistible Missionary Power”

The Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences was the chief reason for the journey of Benedict XVI to Brazil. Benedict XVI recalled, that the past has always seen the participation of popes: a message by Pius XII in 1955, for the first meeting, and the presence of Paul VI and John Paul II in others. First of all, the Pope reiterated the fact that “it is faith that has made America the ‘Continent of Hope’. Not a political ideology, not a social movement, not an economic system: faith in the God who is Love—who took flesh, died and rose in Jesus Christ—is the authentic basis for this hope which has brought forth such a magnificent harvest from the time of the first evangelization until today.” The Pope said that “Animated and mobilized” by the love of Christ, the Church “releases an irresistible missionary power, the power of holiness”. But “seeing it with the eyes of faith, contemplating it and yearning for it, must not serve as an excuse for avoiding the historical reality in which the Church lives as she shares the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially those who are poor or afflicted.” (Asianews.it)

Brazil: Cardinal Confirms Plans to Revive Latin Mass

Addressing a conference of Latin American bishops in Brazil last week, Vatican Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos has confirmed that Pope Benedict plans to loosen restrictions on the celebration of the old Latin Mass. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the Vatican commission, Ecclesia Dei, said that Benedict wanted to give all Catholics greater access to the so-called Tridentine Mass because of a "new and renewed interest" in the rite, NC Times reports. Benedict is also acting in a bid to reach out to an ultraconservative schismatic group, the Society of St Pius X, and bring it back into the Vatican's fold, Castrillon Hoyos said Wednesday, according to a copy of his speech posted on the meeting's website. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos stressed that Benedict's plans to revive the Tridentine rite did not represent a "step backward, of a regression to times before the reforms." Rather, it is an offer to the faithful to have greater access to what he said was a "treasure" of the Church. (www.cathnews.com)

Brazil, Aparecida: North American, European Bishops Discuss Immigration, Secularization

In addresses to the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, the leaders of the Bishops' Conferences of the United States, Canada and Europe highlighted similarities among their regions and pledged their prayers and support. Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’, recalled that many of the first American parishes were built with "assistance and solidarity from countries such as Mexico, Cuba and Argentina." Bishop Skylstad discussed joint efforts between the Catholic Church in the United States and its Latin American counterparts in recent years, such as collaboration on immigration issues, a new translation of the Bible and a Latin American youth encounter. Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, noted the problems that Central and Eastern Europe share with Latin America, such as secularization, environmental destruction and increasing poverty resulting from free-market economic policies. Noting that Europe's population is aging, Cardinal Erdo said that many Europeans look to Latin America, a young region, with hope and respect for its "strong ancestral religious values." (CNS)

Brazil, Aparecida: Pope Calls Latin America as “Continent of Hope”

Pope Benedict XVI called Latin America the "Continent of Hope" in an open-air mass at Brazil's most holy shrine Sunday and urged the region's bishops to be zealous missionaries to reverse Catholicism's declining influence in the region. As hundreds of choir members sang hymns and the faithful waved flags from all corners of South America, the German-born pope said the bishops must be "courageous and effective" to ensure the future strength of the Church. "This is the faith that has made Latin America the 'Continent of Hope,"' Benedict told the crowd of nearly 150,000 gathered outside the mammoth basilica of Aparecida. Benedict said the Church was not a political ideology or a social system, an apparent reference to his vehement opposition to the liberation theology movement in Latin America that he moved to crush while he was a cardinal working for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Liberation theology, which is based on a Marxist analysis of society, holds that criticizing the oppression of the poor and marginalized should be central to Christian theology, and that the Christian faith should be reinterpreted specifically to deliver oppressed people from injustice. But Benedict insisted that the Church shares the concerns of all people, "especially those who are poor or afflicted." That is a key issue in Brazil, where the divide between rich and poor is among the worst in the world. (CBNNews.com)

Brazil, Aparecida: Latin American Challenge: Bishops' Plans Must Be Creative, Courageous

The sweeping scope of Pope Benedict XVI's speech opening a major meeting of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean left the prelates free to address the banes and blessings of the modern world. The question is whether the pastoral guidelines they are crafting will enable the church to confront the region's challenges prophetically, with creativity and courage. The first draft of the document that will be one legacy of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean is an encouraging, though disorganized, step in that direction. Distributed to the bishops May 24, it is still rough and is expected to undergo three more revisions. The bishops are grappling with the fundamental question of how to inspire Catholics to take ownership of their faith, seek a personal conversion that leads them to follow Jesus, and live out that commitment in the church and the world. The church leaders must candidly examine trends in both society and the church that lead some Catholics to join evangelical groups while a much larger number remain Catholic in name only. The outcome should be pastoral guidelines for Catholics navigating amid the uncertainties of a region marked by explosive urban growth, uncontrolled environmental damage and wildly unequal income distribution that leaves nearly half the region's population without a decent livelihood, spurring massive migration. At 86 pages, the draft is far from the "brief and agile" document that one bishop promised. (CNS)

Chicago: Church-ownership a Miracle for Mall

The front side of the Forest Park Mall could belong to any shopping center on Roosevelt Road. Behind a stucco facade, customers hunt for groceries at Ultra Foods, shower curtains at Kmart, phones at a US Cellular store. But enter the mall and follow the beat of a gospel band, and you'll find yourself in a 3,500-seat sanctuary where worshipers from the Living Word Christian Center are clapping and singing hallelujahs. Rev. Bill Winston preaches while cameras project his image on giant video screens. This is the landlord's side of the building. Combining Bible and business acumen, Living Word has transformed what was once an eyesore listed on a Web site called Deadmalls.com into a thriving if unusual hybrid: half mega-church, half shopping mall. Since the nondenominational Church bought the dying mall in 1998, Living Word has more than doubled to 15,000 members while creating a facility divided between a state-of-the-art worship center and the Church's commercial subsidiary at 7600 W. Roosevelt Rd. Living Word has established a business school, a broadcast media center, a Christian bookstore, a kindergarten-through-8th-grade academy and its own clothing stores selling business apparel. (chicagotribune.com)

China, Beijing: Toxic Environment – Soil with Heavy Metals and Cancerous Fish

Shanghai will use mobile testing units to analyze food within 30 minutes. The announcement given yesterday by Beijing shows the government wants to win back the trust of national and overseas consumers. But the polluted environment is poisoning cultivation and fish and there have been frequent cases of toxic poisoning, even fatal ones. Li Jie, deputy director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Supervision Institute, said the mobile units “can tell the safety of most food products within 30 minutes” with tests carried out immediately on meat and vegetables even in markets. But they will be operational only at the end of 2007. Meanwhile, Beijing has ordered blanket testing on foods like wheat gluten and rice protein, ingredients which were discovered by the United States to contain melamine. And it has banned the export of melamine and other additives used to make food seem more nutritious. But the problem is across the board. In April, China’s Ministry of Land and Resources admitted that more than one-tenth of farming land was poisoned by pollution and that each year approximately 12 million tons of grain were contaminated by heavy metals and had to be destroyed (with losses of more than 20 billion Yuan, 2.54 billion dollars). The state news agency, Xinhua, said about 25 million acres of farmland was contaminated, another 5 million acres were watered by contaminated water, and about 330,000 acres were covered with solid waste. (Asianews.it)

India, New Delhi: Christians March Through New Delhi Seeking Action Against Violence

Approximately 1,000 Christians marched on May 29 through the streets of New Delhi seeking federal action against increasing anti-Christian violence in the country. National-level Catholic and Protestant groups jointly organized the rally, which ended with a public meeting. Several leaders lamented the federal government's inaction toward attacks on Christian groups. At the New Delhi rally, people carried placards and banners which read "Violence does not bring peace," "Let Christians live and serve," "India carries the imprint of Christian services" and "Christians are only 2.5 percent of the population, why target us?" According to John Dayal, a rally organizer, Christian leaders have recorded at least 80 attacks on Christians nationwide since January. Most occurred in states ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but some reports came from states ruled by the secular Congress party. "It is not enough" for the federal government to say law and order is a state concern "while remaining mute spectators to violence against Christians," Dayal told the gathering. The Catholic activist is president of the All India Catholic Union. (UCAN)

Indonesia, Jakarta: President Asks Catholic Church to Participate in National Development

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on the Catholic Church in Indonesia to develop the nation and its culture through harmony and tolerance. "As Indonesian citizens, Catholics should participate in developing the nation and the country," the president urged in his address at the formal celebration for the 200th anniversary of Jakarta Archdiocese. About 7,000 Catholics of the Archdiocese attended the five-hour celebration on May 26 at Istora Sport Hall. Titled The More Faithful to the Lord, the More Loyal to the Society and the Nation, The celebration began with a Mass led by Jesuit Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja of Jakarta. The president said Indonesian Catholics have the same rights and obligations to develop the nation as the country's other believers. He asked all Indonesians to face social change and transformation by building a culture of peace and eliminating behavior that is not constructive or ethical. Instead, Indonesians must "develop supportive behavior, respect others and maintain a critical attitude and concern." They need to be ready and willing to work hard and master knowledge while also building harmony, the president continued. (UCAN)

Islamabad: Christians Threatened – Convert to Islam or Die

Convert to Islam within 10 days and shut down all the country’s Churches. The ultimatum was delivered in a threatening letter that Muslim fundamentalists sent to Christian communities in Charsadda and Mardan, in northern Pakistan. If their orders are not obeyed, “all Christians will be executed”. The letter was sent on 7 May to local Churches, who immediately took it to the police. Feroz Shah, district inspector of Charsadda, said he had investigated the matter. For him, it’s a “joke”, and so “there is no need to make any arrests”, he added, “Christians are safe and well protected” in the area. Mgr. Anthony Lobo, bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, does not share the inspector’s view. He told AsiaNews: “This letter is not a joke, but a threat that needs to be taken seriously. It has left the Christian community of Pakistan very frightened. We have already appealed to higher powers in the country to ask for help and we will continue to do so.” The bishop said it was important “to understand that even jokes, if aimed at minorities, could become reality. Even if this letter is the work of an isolated madman, it’s possible that he may commit some atrocity against Christians.” (Asianews.it)

Philippines: Priest Elected Province Governor in Philippines

Welcoming the election of Fr Eddie Panlilio as governor of the Pampanga province near Manila, Philippines Bishops Conference head, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo describes the priest's electoral victory as an "exception" to the rule against clerical political involvement. Archbishop Lagdameo said Father Eddie Panlilio, 53, who was elected governor of Pampanga province, is "starting a new history" in his province as the first Catholic priest elected to public office in the Philippines. The province is 60 kilometers northwest of Manila, UCA News reports. "My congratulations with sympathy go to Father Ed, whom his folks in Pampanga will learn to call 'Among Gov' (priest governor)," he said in his statement a day after the priest was proclaimed winner in a close race. Father Panlilio faces a "new playing field for which he was not trained in the seminary," the prelate said, and this "political field" has "embedded, ingrained and systematic political problems" such as illegal gambling. However, the national Church leader also pointed out, Father Panlilio's election is an "exception" and "we (bishops) want to keep it that way." (www.cathnews.com)

Rome: Beggars Targeting the G-8 – Learning From the City's Poor

With summer just around the corner, the streets of Rome are increasingly packed with pilgrims--and the city's poor. The sheer number of beggars who take up regular posts outside churches, tourist spots and universities makes it impossible to ignore their often-distressing presence. For Deacon Kim Schreck, a fourth-year seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, encountering the poor is at the very heart of the Roman experience and a significant part of his formation. "There's a rub to it," he said. "You can't ignore the problem. I realized early on that I could either learn to love the poor or become bitter and hard in the end. Anyone who lives here faces this, but no one wants to hear that. There is no excuse for any Christian not to be generous, even if it's just giving someone a smile." The actual number of homeless is hard to estimate. In the 2001 Roman census, people without papers or fixed addresses were deemed nonexistent. Sant'Egidio estimates, however, that there are about 7,000 homeless in the city. The actual order of the world is determined by the reality of the rich and the poor, and not on geographical lines, says Archbishop John Onaiyekan from Abuja, Nigeria. Archbishop Onaiyekan is one of 11 bishops who traveled to Rome last week to meet Benedict XVI as part of their tour to visit world leaders prior to the G-8 summit in Germany this June. The G-8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. The prelates, together with Caritas Italy and International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, are lobbying governments to keep promises made in previous summits to increase aid to poor and developing nations. (Zenit.org)

II. NEWS

India, Mangalore: UCAN Interview – ‘My Faith Sustains Me In Politics’

Compromising one's values will not advance one's political life much, according to Oscar Fernandes, a successful Catholic politician in India. The 66-year-old federal minister from Mangalore, in the southern state of Karnataka, says his Catholic faith has sustained him during his 35 years in politics. During that time, he also has guided his Congress party as its national general secretary for some years. Recently, he shared with UCA News how he lives his Catholic faith as an Indian politician. (UCAN)

Vatican: Pope’s Message for the 2007 World Mission Day

This year’s theme is “All the Churches for all the World.” In remembering the Encyclical ‘Fidei Donum,’ Benedict XVI urges established Churches, wearied by a shrinking clergy, and young Churches, tried by inadequate means, to engage in the ‘missio ad gentes.’ The missionary commitment is the Church’s “primary service” to transform today’s humanity. (zenith.org)

III. BOOKS

Engelke, Mathew and Tomlinson, Matt (ed.), The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity, New York: Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2006.

This volume offers fresh insights on a classic topic and drawing attention to meaning in a new way.

Groody, Daniel G., Globalization, Spirituality, and Justice: Navigating a Path to Peace, New York: Maryknoll, Orbis Books, 2007.

This book leavens the daunting and often chilling statistics that describe the contemporary world with the hope-filled vision of Catholic social teaching and a life-sustaining spiritual praxis.

Painadath, S., and Fernando, Leonard, (ed.), Co-Worker for Your Joy: Festschrift in honour of George Gispert-Sauch, Delhi: Vidyajyoti College and ISPCK, 2006.

This book is published in honour of Gispert-Sauch who has delved into such depths of both Christian and Indian traditions that he is convinced that Christian theology can be done only through dialoguing with the culture and traditions of India.

Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)

ISHVANI KENDRA
P.B. 3003, Off Nagar Road, Sainikwadi
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.