58

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

November  – 2007

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Africa: Church Groups Gear Up for Week of Action for Better Trade

Churches and church-related organizations world-wide, along with other religious and community groups, are highlighting current trade practices that are inflicting misery on millions of poor people and advocating for changes in national and international arenas. Trade Week of Action, Oct. 14-21 consisted of hunger strikes and pickets to worship and high-profile seminars. Southern African churches and civil society organizations organized prayers, pickets, radio talk shows, a seminar and a statement on debt cancellation and food security. "Trade which does not eradicate poverty, enhance equality and care for the environment is not worth promoting," said Kenyan-born Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). "When trade, as it does today, sends the majority of people into grinding poverty, increasing hunger and loss of livelihoods, while a few enjoy excessive wealth, then as churches we need to intensify our advocacy work." The Trade Week of Action coincides with World Food Day (October 16), the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), and the Joint Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (October 19-21). The Global Week of Action Against Debt is also taking place this week, meaning millions will be campaigning against unjust economic policies around the globe. (allafrica.com)

Argentina: Latin American Women Rise in Nation Long Dominated by Men

The election last year of Michelle Bachelet to Chile's presidency and the victory of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina's presidential balloting are the most visible examples of the trend. Women are considered possible successors to the top spot elsewhere in South America. In Paraguay, former education minister Blanca Ovelar is a top candidate to represent the long-ruling Colorado Party in April's presidential race. In Brazil, presidential chief of staff Dilma Rousseff has emerged as a possible front-runner for the presidency in 2010. They follow women who were elected president in the 1990s, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro in Nicaragua and Mireya Moscoso Rodriguez in Panama. Women also make up more than a quarter of the Cabinet ministers in the region and more than a fifth of lower-chamber legislators in Costa Rica, Cuba, Argentina, Peru, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico, double the regional rate in 1990. By comparison, only 16 percent of the U.S. Congress is female. Fourteen countries in Latin America have passed quota laws requiring that as many as 40 percent of the candidates for political posts be women. Similar laws require that women fill a minimum number of union leadership posts and even executive-branch positions.(http://seattletimes.nwsource.com)

Chile, Santiago: The Church and Pro-Life Groups Mobilise Against Government Fines on Pharmacies Refusing to Stock Abortion Pill: Fines Attack Life and Freedom

The Chilean ministry of health has fined three chains of pharmacy shops 33 million pesos for refusing to stock an abortion pill. Up to now Chile's principal laboratories refused to produce the pill which had to be imported, but five months ago the pill was made available in the country and the ministry says pharmacies which refuse to stock it will pay a double fine and risk being forced to close down. Bishop Fernando Chomali, Auxiliary of Santiago and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said in an article "The intolerance of the tolerant"', "the government fines pharmacies which refuse to stock the product on the grounds that the latter violate the people's right to have access to the product. However, when used the pill violates even more fundamental rights " the right to life of the unborn child, protected by the Constitution; the right of pharmacies, by virtue of the principle of autonomy, to decide not to sell a product clearly harmful to health, and lastly the right to be adequately informed of the real effect of the pill. Moreover, Bishop Cromali affirms, "to oblige material and formal collaboration to sell a product harmful to health is clearly an act contrary to reason and contrary to the law ", and therefore "constitutes not only an abuse of power and a product of a mistaken concept of democracy, it is also an act of intolerance in the name of tolerance." (Agenzia Fides)

Ecuador, Quito: Cardinal Martino Urges Values-based Democracy

A democracy without values, including the effort to fight poverty, is actually harmful to society, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Cardinal Renato Martino said that Saturday in Quito, at the inauguration of a conference on the social responsibilities of the governing class in light of Catholic social doctrine and in the context of Latin America’s political landscape. The prelate is on a 12-day tour of Latin America, including stops in Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina, to present the major themes of the Church's social teachings. During his discourse, the president of the Vatican dicastery said that authentic democracy is not only the result of following the rules, but rather the fruit of convictions about the values that inspire democratic procedures. The cardinal spoke of what he called a "democracy of Pilate, which in a more or less visible way, treats the question of truth with sceptical irony" and a "democracy of Nero or Barabbas, which puts truth up for vote, entrusting it to the cries of a leaderless group." Cardinal Martino affirmed that the Church calls everyone to a non-violent commitment in the fight against poverty, "without fuelling ephemeral messianisms and popular demagogies, by making impossible promises." (Zenit.org)

London: Womens' Conference Assailed for Pro-Abortion Tilt

The global conference Women Deliver failed in its objective of finding ways to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, reported various participating humanitarian organizations dedicated to the woman, family and the protection of life. Several organizations expressed their dismay at the end of the Oct. 18-20 conference in a letter sent to the conference organizing committee. The conference brought together some 1,800 participants, including health care professionals, high-level officials from 35 countries and U.N. representatives. According to the letter, "Regrettably, the conference agenda was so preoccupied with promoting the ideology and practice of abortion that the genuine health care needs of women and children were virtually ignored in the plenary sessions and overwhelmed in the panel discussions." The letter's signatories noted that numerous U.N. reports, such as "The World's Women 2005: Progress in Statistics," "have concluded that accurate data about maternal mortality, including abortion, are not available, especially for the developing world. Therefore, the presentation of unsubstantiated and unreliable data on illegal abortion as fact can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to mislead the conferees and the international community." The letter concludes with a call to "the conference partners to focus on basic health care, skilled attendants and emergency obstetrics, which have been the key to decreasing maternal mortality in the developed world, instead of exploiting the tragedy of maternal mortality to promote abortion rights." (Zenit.org)

Mexico: Politics in the Americas and the Roman Catholic Church

The Council for America’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, which includes many Latin American hierarchs of the Roman Catholic Church, met at the Vatican on October 9 and 10. And one of the harshest concerns voiced by Bishops this October was over the growth of neo-Marxism and its influence in Latin America. “From the social point of view a current is continuing to develop, an often neo-Marxist line that causes imbalance in international relations and in the internal reality of countries, and it seeks to ignore the Catholic Church and not consider it as a partner in social dialogue.” There were proposals to permit the Church to participate in Mexico’s political debate, with lay advocates arguing that members of the clergy should be allowed freedom of expression in political affairs. As well, demands were initiated for reforms that would allow public schools to offer religious education. And there are others. All of which mushroomed into a lobbying campaign for legal reforms, namely to amend Articles 3, 24 and 130 of the Constitution that respectively deal with the right to preschool, primary and secondary education (primary and secondary being compulsory); freedom of religion; and the “historic principle of separation of the State and the churches….” A spokesperson for the Federal District’s Human Rights Commission warns that the intent of the Catholic Church, to participate directly in Mexican politics, is “a risk for the lay state, and involves the creation of a denominational state that threatens Mexico’s incipient democracy.”

New York: Black Ministers to Tackle Issue of HIV/AIDS

In what organizers call a historic gathering of African-American clergy, dozens of ministers from across the USA will gather here today with medical professionals and lawmakers to map a plan to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic sweeping the black community. The two-day meeting, convened by the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, will bring together some of the nation's most prominent pastors and representatives of the National Medical Association, Congressional Black Caucus and other organizations. "Since the movement of the '60s, we haven't seen a gathering of African-American clergy persons like this around a specific issue," says the Rev. Calvin Butts III, senior pastor of Harlem's historic Abyssinian Baptist Church, who is co-chairing the meeting with Bishop T.D. Jakes of Dallas. "At that time, it was civil rights and human rights. Now it's a major health crisis which is impacting our community." Although African-Americans make up only 13.5 per cent of the U.S. population, blacks were 49 per cent of the new HIV diagnoses in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some religious leaders and AIDS activists say that many black churches have not done enough to address the crisis. (www.usatoday.com)

Pakistan: Catholics and Muslims Dine Together in Church for the End Ramadan

In a move to promote harmony and understanding between the nation’s religious communities, Faisalabad’s Council for Inter-religious dialogue hosted Muslim leaders and faithful in the cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, offering them an iftar, (a bequest with which Ramadan fasting is ended ndr). Among the banquets’ guests, which took place on October 11th last, was Sufi Masood Ahmad Lassani, a well known Muslim scholar, and the bishop of the diocese Msgr. Joseph Coutts. Speaking to AsiaNews, the bishop explained: “in order to bring harmony in society we have to seek out and reach out to all people of good will, like Ahmad Lassani”. These are the people, the prelate adds, “Who give us courage to carry on work on peace and harmony knowing that there are so many peace loving Muslims of good will who want to work with us. Perhaps meeting more often we will be able to have a more concrete impact”. (Asianews.it)

Portugal: Volunteer Mission Day Promoted by 51 NGOs

"Communicating 2015” is the slogan of Volunteer Mission Day which was celebrated on Sunday 28 October in Aveiro, Portugal organized by an association of 51 of Portuguese NGOs active in the field of co-operation and volunteer work, including the Foundation for the Evangelization of Cultures and the Missionaries of Boa Nova. The Day began on Saturday with the inauguration of an exhibition of artistic photographs which reflected 10 years of Volunteer Mission activity. On Sunday 28, at the auditorium of the Aveiro Port Authorities, there was conferences on "cyber-mission" and technology to support mission. This was followed by a Celebration of the Eucharist and in the afternoon, the launching of the 2008 Agenda. Volunteer Mission Day is open to those who have been on mission or are preparing to go on mission soon, as well members of the civil society who wish to join the cause for Volunteer Mission Service. (Agenzia Fides)

Portugal, Fatima: Christianity is the Heart of Europe: Cardinal Erdo

"Without the Church, Europe would not have a heart," Cardinal Peter Erdo proclaimed as he spoke on October 4 at a meeting of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (COMECE). Cardinal Erdo, the Archbishop of Budapest and president of COMECE, said that Christians have "much work to do in building up a common European home." Echoing a theme that has frequently been sounded by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, he said that the Christian heritage forms the common culture of Europe, and thus the most reliable foundation on which European unity can be built. Speaking in Fatima, Portugal, where COMECE is meeting this week, the Hungarian cardinal said that Europe will be strengthened by an "active and visible" Christian witness-- which will also have the effect of strengthening families and community life. (CWNews.com)

South Africa: Church Pledges Action on Clerical Sex Abuse Claim

The Catholic Church has invited a man claiming to have been sexually molested by a deceased bishop to seek audience with a competent Church authority. The Church said it noted with great sadness the alleged child sexual abuse of Mario D'Offisi by the late Bishop Reginald Orsmond of Johannesburg during their time together at Boys Town in the 1960's. He said Bishop Orsmond was a larger-than-life character in the lives of so many people and it was unfortunate that allegations of sexual abuse had come years after his death. "In accordance to our commitment to pastoral care of those who perceive themselves as victims, we invite Mr D'Offizi and all others who feel that they are victims of abuse by Catholic Clergy and Religious to share their story with a competent church authority so that swift and compassionate action can be taken." Fr. Townsend said the allegations would hurt many people, but hoped justice would be done. "All will be hurt due to these allegations. We all hope that whatever processes are undertaken, justice may be served to the benefit of all affected by this. (allafrica.com)

USA: Church Short on U.S.- Born Ministers

In Catholic churches nationwide, immigrants are being counted on to take on a job fewer Americans have been willing to do. The church is experiencing a shortage of American-born men entering the priesthood and is relying on its global reach to fill the gap. That means Mass in some cases is more likely to be said by a native of Asia or Africa than the United States. According to a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, a quarter of seminarians in theologates, 761 in all, in 2006-07 are from countries other than the United States. This number has increased from last year’s 23 per cent. The center also reported 83 foreign countries are represented by the seminarians, with 63 per cent of them preparing to be ordained for a diocese in the United States. Seminarians from religious orders make up 29 per cent of the foreign-born seminarians. The most current research by the center reveals about 7,000 international priests have worked in the United States since 1985, with an estimated 5,500 now on the job. They have arrived from Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland, India and other nations throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. “Without them it would be impossible to manage, especially with the number of Catholics there are,” Goodrum said. (www.thefacts.com)

USA, Berkeley, California: Theologian Advocates Dialogue, Cultural Respect, Fresh Thinking

Peter Phan, a popular and sometimes controversial figure who brings an Asian cultural perspective to Catholic thought, described the growth of Catholicism in the developing world and the importance of local culture among people embracing the Catholic faith in Africa and Asia. Georgetown University theologian Father Phan told a conference in Berkeley Oct. 6-7 The Curia, the Church’s central administrative and judicial body in Rome, should resist fighting the trend, Phan said. It must share ecclesiastical authority with bishops on the periphery and embrace their non-European roots as vital to the Church’s global mission, he said. “Power relations cannot be ignored in global Christianity simply because we say we are a religious institution,” Phan said. “The task is to try to make the voices of the global South heard by the ecclesiastical core.” The Church must be a “house of love rather than a house of fear” and the West must not impose its cultural norms on the East, said Phan. He said that he is advocating mutuality, not conflict. In a follow-up interview with Catholic San Francisco he said he is not challenging the Church’s core principles of papal primacy and papal infallibility. (www.catholic.org)

USA, Pittsburgh: Latino Catholics Prepare to Celebrate Patron Saints Linked to Their Cultures

The community will honor Our Lord of the Miracles which is dear to the Peruvian people, on Sunday, Oct. 14, with a noon Mass and procession at St. Regis in Pittsburgh’s South Oakland neighborhood. Father Daniele Vallecorsa, pastor of St. Regis and chaplain to the diocese’s Latino Catholic Community, will officiate. Last month, the community’s Venezuelan Catholics celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Coromoto (Nuestra Senora de Coromoto), and the year will end with the most revered feast day of Latino Catholics, Our Lady of Guadalupe, on Dec. 12. The many Latin American titles for Mary are becoming more well known in this country as the Latino population continues to increase. In acknowledging that growth, the U.S. bishops six years ago approved including 15 Marian feast days from Latin American countries into the U.S. Spanish-language Sacramentary. They are awaiting Vatican confirmation. Father Vallecorsa said of the bishops’ decision that “part of it is the universality of the church’s calendar and part of it was due at least in part to Pope John Paul II’s view to not just see a North America or a South America but to see it as the church of the Americas.” Each country regards Mary as a national patroness under her particular title for that culture. (www.pittsburghcatholic.org)

Vatican City: Catholics Should No Longer Support Amnesty International

The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is encouraging Catholics to withdraw support from Amnesty International since the groups no longer defends the right to life. Cardinal Renato Martino told the National Catholic Register that the recent decision by the human rights group to promote abortion "rights" is a betrayal of its identity. "By pushing for the decriminalization of abortion as part of their platform, Amnesty International has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights," he said. "If AI is no longer willing to stand up for the most basic human right -- the right to life -- then the very integrity of the organization is called into question." Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benson as a defender and promoter of the inalienable rights of the human person. Now it has joined other international organizations, such as the United Nations Children's Fund, in promoting a so-called right to abortion, at least in certain cases. (Zenit.org)

Vatican City: Vatican Archive Yields Templar Secrets

The Knights Templar, a military order of the Roman Catholic Church, are back in the news again, almost 700 years after they were suppressed by papal edict. Now the Vatican has decided to shed some new light on this often obscure period of late medieval history. To the delight not only of scholars but also of Templar buffs around the world, who have been captivated by Dan Brown's stories, they are publishing facsimile reproductions of the original account in Latin of the investigation and trial into the alleged misdeeds of the Knights Templar. It took place in Rome between 1307 and 1312. The document, known as the Chinon parchment, shows that Pope Clement V found the Templars not guilty of heresy, but guilty of other lesser infractions of Church law. Nonetheless he ordered the disbandment of the order. The Vatican's Secret Archives, one of the world's great repositories of historical documents, is selling a limited edition of 800 numbered copies of the Chinon parchment. It is printed on synthetic parchment, comes complete with a reproduction of the original papal wax seal, and is packaged in a soft leather case together with a scholarly commentary. Each copy will cost just over 5,900 euros ($8,000; £3,925). (news.bbc.co.uk/)

II. BOOKS

Ahner, Gene, Business Ethics: Making a Life, Not Just a Living, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007

This makes the business people understand their work as an integral form of human development as well as an authentic Christian vocation. Business is not ethical if it is not good business.

Buono, P. Giuseppe and Pelosi, Patrizia, Bioetica – Religioni – Missioni, La Bioetica a servizio delle missioni, Bologna: EMI Publisher, 2007. (Italian)

The two words bio-ethics and mission are inseparable. This neither provides a theological manuel nor what is allowed or not, but provides the tool for realizing that love is the foundation for true progress for humanity.

O’Neill, Maura, Mending A Torn World: Women in Interreligious Dialogue, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007.

This book is not just an interfaith dialogue but one that does bring ‘hope for the future’ – a future that holds the promise of women’s voices from all faiths raised together.

New Books Released from Ishvani Kendra in October 2007

Stanislaus, L. SVD, and Joseph, Jose SVD, Communication as Mission, eds., Delhi: Ishvani Kendra / ISPCK, 2007.

Stanislaus, L. SVD, and Joseph, Jose SVD, Migration and Mission in India, eds., Delhi: Ishvani Kendra / ISPCK, 2007.

Ignatius, I. SVD, Religious Language and Historising Method, Delhi: Ishvani Kendra / ISPCK, 2007

D’Mello, Edward SVD, (comp), Ishvani Ka Sathi, Delhi: ISPCK / Ishvani Kendra, 2007. (Hindi)

Lazar Thanuzraj Stanislaus, SVD (Director)

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