55

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

August  – 2007

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Bogota,Colombia: Colombian Leaders Reject Claims that Archbishop Helped Paramilitaries

A right-wing paramilitary leader's declaration that the assassinated Colombian archbishop secretly helped to lead the outlawed paramilitary organization, has triggered objections from Church and political leaders. Diego Fernando Murillo, a feared paramilitary leader known as "Don Berna," testified in court July 17 that another paramilitary leader had told him the late Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino of Cali was one of the six secret leaders of the paramilitaries blamed for many of the worst massacres committed during Colombia's four-decade civil war. The Church has derived this allegation. Bishop Marulanda said he'd "always understood that (Archbishop Duarte) had a strong opposition to all of the outlaw groups." (CNS)

Bolivia: Aymara Indian Methodist Bishop becomes a Bolivian Ambassador

Methodist Bishop Eugenio Poma, an indigenous Aymara Indian from Bolivia, has become his country's ambassador to Denmark reports Ecumenical News International (www.eni.ch). "This is an important contribution to Bolivia and demonstrates our commitment as the people of God to continue contributing to and serving the country," the current head of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia, Bishop Carlos Poma, was quoted as saying by the Latin American and Caribbean news service ALC. After serving as bishop of the Methodist Church in Bolivia, Eugenio Poma worked from 1995 to 2003 at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches as programme executive for indigenous peoples' issues. He was then based in the Bolivian capital La Paz as coordinator of the indigenous peoples' programme of the WCC and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). (ekklesia.co.uk)

California, Long Beach: Illegal Immigrants Find Refuge in Holy Places

Five immigration agents rapped on Liliana's front door one morning in May. "We've come for you," she recalls them saying. Liliana, a 29-year-old factory worker from Mexico who crossed the border illegally in 1998, begged and pleaded. "What about my children?" she asked. "I have a baby. I'm nursing." The agents softened when they heard Pablito crying, she says, and gave her a reprieve. They ordered her to report to a detention center five days later to be sent back to Mexico. Instead, Liliana hid at the home of a Catholic deacon. Last month she emerged from hiding and took up residence at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, which has pledged to protect her from deportation. St. Luke's and Liliana are central characters in the New Sanctuary Movement, a small but growing coalition of Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship that is challenging the immigration system, despite legal risk, as the nation debates how to deal with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA. (www.usatoday.com)

Florida: Churches Doing More to Fight HIV/AIDS

A simple, five-second swab inside the cheek might make a life-or-death difference in the fight against HIV and AIDS. The Rev. Michael Mitchell hopes to get authorization soon to make the HIV test available free at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Holly Hill, where he is pastor. Once approved it will be the only certified HIV testing site in a local church, at a time when some are trying to get Churches more involved in the fight against the virus. "The main reason, for me, is I had two cousins who died of AIDS," Mitchell said. "That's why it's important for me to get the word out, not just to black people, but to all people, on the importance of being tested." HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for black men and women ages 25 to 44 in Florida. Nearly half of HIV/AIDS victims in Florida are black people, even though they make up only about 14 per cent of the state's population. The Rev. Kelvin Bodley of Fairness Ministries helped organize a conference at the Wyndham Orlando Resort that began Saturday and continues through Tuesday to get churches more involved. (www.news-journalonline.com)

Germany, Cologne: German Protestant Gathering Wants to Help Dialogue with Islam

Leaders of Germany’s biggest Protestant gathering say they intend to persevere in promoting Christian-Islamic dialogue in their country where recent tensions between Protestants and Muslims have been perceived by some in their faiths. The question of Protestant-Muslim relations emerged as a major issue at the once-every-two years Protestant convention called the Kirchentag, meeting this year in Cologne.

Hamburg: Reiki - Many Sceptical of Healing Hand Treatment Practiced in Europe

A person with a toothache usually touches his cheek where he feels the pain, while someone with a bellyache instinctively soothes it by putting a hand on his tummy. Just about everyone would agree that laying a hand on a part of the body that's not well can have a calming effect. This is a principle of Reiki, an esoteric treatment originating in Japan that has spread through western Europe bringing controversy along with it. "Reiki is a Japanese word for life energy," said Reiki instructor Wolfgang Niedermeyer of Bielefeld. When someone undergoes a Reiki treatment, energy from the practitioner is transferred to his patient. This is how, according to the theory, people depleted of energy can fill their tanks and get on the right course. Many critics, however, consider the controversial treatment pseudo science. According to German law, the only healing treatments allowed in Germany are those conducted by doctors and practitioners of holistic medicine. Even the Lutheran Church in Germany has joined the discussion over Reiki, warning people to stay away from "unrealistic promises about cures, especially when urgently needed medical care is not carried out because of it." Author Oliver Klatt of Berlin is convinced that it is authentic, saying it "releases stress, enlivens people and can promote the healing process." Despite his deep reservations, Hertel said Reiki has a good side. "When you want to relax, Reiki is among the most widely spread practices," he said. Laying hands on someone could provide comfort or have a relieving effect. But he added, "One should not expect anything else from Reiki." (www.earthtimes.org)

India, Ahmedabad: Catholic Nuns, NGOs Support Woman's Semi- nude Protest

Catholic nuns and women activists have supported a Hindu woman who staged a unique protest against domestic violence in a western Indian town. Pooja Chauhan, 22, shocked people of Rajkot on July 4 when she took to the streets in her undergarments. She later told reporters she resorted to such an act because she could no longer endure ill treatment from her husband and in-laws. Chauhan demanded the arrest of her husband and his parents, who she says tormented her physically and mentally for bearing a girl child and not bringing sufficient dowry. Soon after her protest, police arrested her husband and his parents. Some Catholic nuns and women activists in Gujarat told UCA News the incident indicated failure on the part of the police to save women from domestic violence and society's indifference. "It was sheer helplessness" that led Chauhan to take such a step, said Sister Grace of Navjivan (new life) Trust, a Church NGO based in Rajkot. The nun was among representatives of a dozen NGOs working for women that met Chauhan and offered support after the protest. (UCAN)

Ireland, Dublin: Irish Archbishop Calls for Summit to Address New Culture of Violence

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has called on the Irish government to hold a community summit to address what he called "the revolting new culture of violence" in Irish society. "The levels of violence and the repetitions of killings are reaching levels which are truly close to an emergency for our society," Archbishop Martin said July 15 during a Mass in Dublin. "I appeal to the government to convoke a summit of a wide range of leaders in society – not just those involved in the important work of law enforcement -- but of all those in society who are in a position to forge a new national consensus to address the roots of this violence. (CNS)

Korea, Incheon: Farmers Plead for Support During Farmers' Sunday Masses

South Korean farmers are using the pulpit to garner support for organic farming and farmlands affected by the influx of inexpensive, imported agricultural products. "Although organic products at Woori-nong Saligi (save our farmland) markets are relatively expensive, please buy them," Angelus Seo Jung-hong pleaded during the Farmers' Sunday Mass. Seo, who cultivates rice, beans, corn and potatoes, explained that Korean bishops in 1995 designated the third Sunday of July as Farmers' Sunday to help all Catholics appreciate their country's rural heritage. This came a year after the bishops launched the Woori-nong Saligi movement to revive farming communities in rural parishes by fostering solidarity between them and urban communities that consume their agricultural products. In his talk after the Gospel, the farmer highlighted the important role mothers can play in sustaining local farms. Mothers are the ones who buy food for their family, so the power to resuscitate local farms lies with them, he said. (UCAN)

Latin America: Catholic Church Renews 'Option for the Poor'

Pope Benedict XVI authorised the release of the Aparecida document, approved by the bishops' conference held in May in the Brazilian city of the same name. The latest statistics from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) indicate that 205 million people live below the poverty line in this region, of whom 79 million are indigent (extremely poor). The 136-page document, divided in three sections and 10 chapters, gives an overview of the regional situation and expresses particular concern about problems such as drug addiction and drug trafficking, violence which mainly targets the poorest sectors and raises crime indices, and the dual marginalization experienced by low-income women, indigenous people and Afro-descendants. In the Aparecida document, the bishops urge every local church to strengthen the Social Pastorates, so that their presence might be felt in the midst of "the new realities of exclusion and marginalization experienced by the most vulnerable groups." The "preferential option for the poor" is the basis of Liberation Theology, whose proponents' involvement in the struggles of the poor and marginalized sectors of the Latin American population often brought them into conflict with a more conservative Catholic Church hierarchy in the past. Globalisation, the bishops say, has led to the emergence of "new faces of the poor" and excluded, among whom they mention immigrants, victims of violence, human trafficking and kidnappings, displaced persons and refugees, the "disappeared," people with HIV/AIDS, those who live on city streets, miners and landless peasants. (www.ipsnews.net)

Malta: Struggles with Migrants

Patrol vessel P- 61 cuts through the waves off the Maltese coast, while overhead a helicopter from the German federal police flies past. But this is not a real border patrol of Malta's territorial waters: instead, it is a show of political support for the tiny island state. The number of African migrants arriving in Malta has more than tripled: from 502 in 2003, to 1,780 last year. Most of them are there by mistake. They wanted to get to Italy but were blown off course or were rescued at sea. They do not want to be in Malta and Malta does not particularly want them. Josie Muscat, calls the arrival of so many migrants "an invasion". "Where does Malta's responsibility end?" he asks. "When we get 100,000? When we get 200,000? When will Europe or anybody in the world lift a finger and say, 'I'm going to help Malta, because Malta can take no more'?" The backlash is not just political. There were arson attacks last year against Church groups and journalists who publicly supported the migrants. Seven cars belonging to the Jesuit Refugee Service were set on fire. The head of the JRS, Father Paul Pace, admits the attacks have had a chilling effect. "(At first) you feel supported; there is a lot of solidarity. Then you realize you are dealing with persons who probably have less limits than you would have expected in a democratic society," he says. (news.bbc.co.uk)

Singapore: Malaysian Court Tells Convert to Christianity: Stay Muslim

A Malaysian woman who converted to Christianity might be jailed for apostasy, or the rejection of her religion, after the Muslim-majority country’s highest court ruled that she does not have a constitutional right to convert from Islam to another religion. The landmark ruling tested Malaysia’s claims to offer freedom of religion to its diverse population which is 60 per cent Muslim but also includes Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and other faiths. Islam is Malaysia’s official religion. (ENI)

Tokyo: Pope Approves Beatification of 188 Japanese Martyrs

Pope Benedict XVI has approved the beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs who were persecuted under the Tokugawa Shogunate government in the 17th century, the (Roman) Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan says. They include lay people, both male and female, adults and children, as well as members of religious orders and priests, and are part of more than 320 official beatifications worldwide announced on 1 June, the Catholic bishops said in a statement the same day. (ENI)

Uganda: Museveni to Travel to Tanzania, Kenya By Road

President Yoweri Museveni is travelling to parts of Kenya and Tanzania by road this weekend as a gesture to show that East Africa is now "borderless". This is the first time the President travels to both countries by road. The journey is expected to cover about 3,000 kilometres. Daily Monitor has learnt that while in Kenya, Mr Museveni will visit Kisumu town and several industrial establishments within the province. He will then proceed to Mwanza in Tanzania. From Mwanza, the President will travel to the Kagera region and particularly visit the northern Tanzania Bukoba diocese in Kashozi Kagera region where he will lay a wreath on the grave of the late Laurean Cardinal Rugambwa. Bishop Rugambwa in 1960 became the first African Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He died in Dar-es-Salaam in 1997 at the age of 85. (allafrica.com) According to sources in State House, Mr. Museveni will also travel to former president Julius Nyerere's birthplace at Butiama in northern Tanzania.

Vatican: Wider Use of Latin Mass Likely, Vatican Officials Say

Pope Benedict XVI has signed a document that would allow more Churches to adopt the old Latin Mass that largely faded from use during the 1960s, when the groundbreaking Second Vatican Council opened the door to worship in the local vernacular, Vatican officials say. Catholic experts agree that the debate is not merely about ritual, but about the legacy of the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965. Some Catholic traditionalists regard the introduction of the modern liturgy as the start of what they see as the Church’s slide since Vatican II and hope that the Tridentine Mass will rejuvenate the faith. Church liberals fear that if the pope undermines the modern Mass, it may lead to the reversal of other Vatican II reforms, like more open relationships with other faiths. (nytimes.com)

Vatican City: Second African Synod Confirmed for 2009

Benedict XVI has called the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops to be held in the Vatican in October 2009. According to a statement released by the Vatican press office, the synod’s theme will be: "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You Are the Salt of the Earth. ... You Are the Light of the World.'" The first assembly of African Bishops took place in Rome in 1994, and was the basis for Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa." In 2004, John Paul announced his intention to convoke a second African synod, citing new challenges and unparalleled growth in the African church. Benedict XVI confirmed the decision after his election. According to a report based on documents analyzed by the German Bishops' Conference, the number of Catholics in Africa grew from 1.9 million in 1900 to 130 million in 2000. (zenith.org)

Vatican: Pope Kicks Off Year of St. Paul Will Have Ecumenical Dimension

Pope Benedict XVI has declared June 2008 – June 2009 the year of St. Paul in celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth. The Pope decreed the year in a vespers celebration held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Holy Father explained during his homily: "This 'Pauline Year' will take place in a special way in Rome, where for 2,000 years under the papal altar of this basilica, lies the tomb that according to experts and undisputed tradition has conserved the remains of the apostle Paul." The Pontiff said: "In the papal basilica and Benedictine abbey attached to it, there can take place a series of liturgical, cultural and ecumenical events, as well as various pastoral and social initiatives, all of them inspired by Pauline spirituality.

Vatican: Pope Reaches Out to China’s Leaders

China’s rulers are adament not to give a favourable response to the extraordinary letter of Pope Benedict XVI pleading for the unification of China’s underground Catholic Churches – some of which recognize the authority of the Vatican – and the government – approved official Churches. The pope is effectively conceding the main point of the half-century-old split. The pope still insists on the right of the Vatican to appoint bishops. China’s government, however, does not permit it and has persecuted underground Churches loyal to Rome while supporting Churches that accept the government’s direction. “I trust that an accord can be reached with the government so as to resolve certain questions regarding the choice of candidates for the episcopate,” Benedict wrote on June 30. This could revive a condition the Church once had to observe in parts of Europe, – a requirement that the government approve certain Church decrees, notably the appointment of bishops. China has about 12 million Catholics among 1.2 billion residents, most of them worshiping in underground Churches subject to police raids, imprisonment and other punishments since shortly after the Communist takeover of China. Persecution has eased somewhat recently. (http://news.bostonherald.com)

Zimbabwe: Archbishop Ncube Says Stronger Nations Should Invade

Pius Ncube, the outspoken Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo is making headlines in the western press over reports that he is 'calling on Britain to invade Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe from power.' There has been mixed reactions to the Archbishop's words. Some say the statements are damaging for the Archbishop and that they play into Mugabe's hands while others say it's a statement of frustration that shows how desperate things are in the country. They say the Archbishop is one of the few leaders who see the suffering at first hand and is brave enough to speak his mind. He said if the worse comes to the worst stronger nations should not just stand around and let people die when a government goes against its own people. He gave the example of Former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic who started killing his own people. He said it was justified for Europe to go in and protect the innocent. On the BBC Today programme, he also gave the example of Rwanda, where 800,000 people were murdered while the world looked on.

II. NEWS

China: The New Bishop of Beijing is Elected

It’s Father Joseph Li Shan, a pastor who has demonstrated independence from the Patriotic Association. He is the first new bishop since Benedict XVI’s letter. Chosen by an “independent” procedure and not appointed by the Pope, despite this his name was among those with Rome’s approval. The “community” of the Beijing diocese has chosen him. His election will be confirmed by the “Council of bishops”, taking over the post left vacant by the death of Michele Fu Tieshan, Patriotic Archbishop of Beijing, who died on April 20th. (AsiaNews)

India: Kerala Bishops Declare 2008 as Year of The Word of God

In view of the Bishops' Synod on the Word of God which is scheduled to be held October 2008, the Catholic Church in Kerala will observe 2008 as the Year of the Word of God.

Vatican: Roman Missal

Vatican Information Service issued Benedict XVI's apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum," issued "motu proprio," on one's own initiative, concerning the use of the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962.

Vatican City: vaticanstate.va Navigating the World's Smallest Country

Seven weeks after Pope Benedict XVI praised Vatican civil servants for their work in "our little state, from the most visible to the most hidden," the state unveiled its own Web site. The site – www.vaticanstate.va – is linked to and works closely with the Vatican's main Web site, www.vatican.va, but provides more information about the offices that help run the state, as opposed to the Church. (CNS)

III. BOOKS

Abraham, K.C., Transforming Vision: Theological – Methodological Paradigm Shifts, Tiruvalla: Christava Sahitya Samithi, 2006.

Those who seek to get themselves equipped with the theological – methodological paradigm shifts of contemporary ecumenical theology will find this book valuable.

Dias, Saturnino Mario, Telling the Story of Jesus in Asia: A Celebration of Faith and Life, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2006.

This book contains the proceedings of the First Asian Mission Congress which was held in 2006 in Thailand. The theme of the celebration was Telling the Story of Jesus in Asia.

Illathuparampil, Mathew, The Contemporary Theologians: Context and Contributions, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2006.

This is an informative and challenging book which contains the theologians led by the spirit and orientation of the Second Vatican Council, the encounter of the Gospel with the cultures, religions and the contemporary world.

Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)

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