60

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

January  – 2008

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Austria: Churches Team up for European Soccer Championship

Churches in Austria have launched an evangelisation programme for the Euro 2008 football championships, which the country is hosting jointly with neighbouring Switzerland in June. "These soccer events will offer young people from various countries a chance to meet," said Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Austria. "Christians intend to enjoy them as much as other sports fans. By getting involved in Euro 2008, the churches will seek to reveal Christ to people." The cardinal made the remarks in a pastoral letter to local Catholics as preparations continued for the tournament being organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which is to be shared by the two Alpine countries in eight cities, to decide the top soccer team in Europe. (ENI)

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro: Vatican Tells Brazilian Bishop: End Hunger Strike

The Vatican has directed a Brazilian bishop to end a hunger strike that he began to dramatize his opposition to a developmental project on the Sao Francisco River, the CNA news service reports. Bishop Luis Flavio Cappio, who has abstained from food since November 27, revealed that he had received a message from the Vatican through that apostolic nuncio in Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri. Bishop Cappio did not say whether or not he planned to follow the Vatican directive. Bishop Cappio, who has now lost more than 10 pounds during the hunger strike, said last week that he planned to continue fasting despite a court decision that delayed the development project on the Sao Francisco. The Brazilian bishop said that he expected the government to appeal the court judgment and continue with the development. The Vatican message urging an end to the hunger strike is the second such plea that Bishop Cappio has received from Rome. In October 2005 the Congregation for Bishops ordered him to end a similar hunger strike, protesting an earlier plan for development on the Sao Francisco. On that previous occasion, the bishop broke his fast when the government promised to reconsider the project, making the Vatican directive unnecessary. (www.cwnews.com)

Britain: More Catholics than Anglicans

Catholics have overtaken Anglicans as Britain's most dominant religious group, reflecting great waves of migration from Catholic countries. More people are now attending Mass every Sunday than are worshipping with the Church of England, confirming that the established church has lost its spot as the most popular Christian denomination after more than four centuries of unrivalled influence following the Reformation. The figures show that attendance at the Church of England's Sunday services has dropped by 20 per cent since 2000. A survey of 37,000 churches to be published in the new year shows that the average number of people going to Mass each Sunday last year stood at 861,000 compared with 852,000 Anglicans worshipping. The rise of Catholicism has been bolstered by an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa. It is part of the changing face of churchgoing across Britain that has also seen a boom in the growth of Pentecostal churches, which have surpassed the Methodist Church as the third-largest Christian denomination. To combat the declining interest in traditional religion, the Anglican Church has introduced radical forms of evangelism that include nightclub chaplains, a floating church on a barge and even internet congregations. (www.smh.com.au)

China: A Fine of US $100,000 for a Second Child

An "exemplary" fine is imposed on a public official and entrepreneur. The government wants to hit rich people who violate an increasingly criticized law. Whilst peasants must endure forced abortion and pay with house demolitions for breaking the law, the rich can entertain mistresses. Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) A former member of a government advisory body in Xiaochang County (Hubei) has been ordered to pay 765,500 yuan (US$ 100,000) in fines for flouting the one-child policy. Li Shaoqing, who is also the chairman of a county cement company, had been dumped from the Xiaochang County Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top government advisory body in the area, because he fathered a second child in 2006. The fines imposed on Mr. Li are believed to be the highest ever since the controversial law was introduced in 1979. The broad social changes have led to relaxation of the one-child policy and a jump in the number of violations among the rich and famous, who often take advantage of lax enforcement to pay their way out of trouble when they are found to have more than one child, setting off protests against the inequality in the application of the law. In 2006 1,678 officials, celebrities and rich people in Hubei alone were found to be in violation of the law. For this reason Beijing is trying to impose exemplary fines and tough disciplinary sanctions. The law has also come in for criticism because it is leading to the aging of the population as a one-child generation will soon have to take on the burden of an elderly population. The government continues instead to praise the population control measure as a way to guarantee the country's economic development. (www.asianews.it)

France, Lourdes: Cardinal Dias opens Jubilee Year in Lourdes

A special Mass in Lourdes to mark the opening of Jubilee Year to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was presided by Cardinal Ivan Dias prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. “The battle between God and his enemy is ever fiercer - said Cardinal Dias - even more than in the times of Bernadette. The world is being swallowed in a terrible abyss of secularism which wants to create a world without God”. (Agenzia Fides)

Hong Kong: Chinese Monk who said Peace Rosary for 75 Years Dies, Aged 110

Trappist priest, the Rev. Nicholas Kao Se-Tsien, Hong Kong's oldest man, who recited the Rosary devotion 15 times a day for world peace every day from 1932, has died at the age of 110. Father Kao was a member of the Trappist monastic community in Hong Kong, and he was believed to be the oldest Chinese priest in the world. His superior, Dom Anastasius Li, said Kao died peacefully in his sleep on 11 December in Hong Kong, having been well prepared for his last day. The Roman Catholic priest witnessed turbulent changes in China from the day he was born on 15 January 1897, in Fujian province, when the country was ruled by the imperial Qing Dynasty, which lasted from 1644 to 1911. He was baptised in 1915, four years after the Republic of China had been founded. (ENI)

India, Gujarat: Catholic Nun, Priests, Students Attacked in Kawant

Two Salesian priests and a nun, along with a group of students were attacked by communal elements in Kawant, Gujarat on Wednesday, Dec. 19. At around 8 pm Salesian priest father Monty Rodrigues, Damien Sladen, Brother Ramesh Durairaj, Dominican sister Manju along with a group of students from Don Bosco Kawant were staging a social awareness play at Baidiya village in Kawant Taluka, Gujarat. Mid-way through the play, some communal elements disrupted the programme and demanded that the group leave the village. Sensing further trouble, the awareness programme was immediately halted. The group started returning to Kawant. However, on the way back, they were stopped by a large group of persons and were badly assaulted. In the attack, Fr. Damien Sladen and Br. Ramesh Durairaj were seriously injured. Several of the students, including some girls also sustained injuries. Attempt was made to disrobe Sr. Manju. Only Fr. Monty Rodrigues managed to escape and return to Kawant, where he alerted the police. Initially, the police refused to file the First Information report. However, on insistence, a police complaint has been lodged. Br. Ramesh and Fr. Damien, along with two other of the most seriously injured boys, have been rushed to Baroda for medical attention. The Salesians of Don Bosco have been working in Kawant for the past twenty five years. The educational and social development activities launched by them have been greatly appreciated by the local people. (www.cbcisite.com)

India: Retreat Centers Welcome Bishops' Decision to Check Retreat Activities in Kerala

Some retreat preachers in Kerala have welcomed a plan of regional bishops to develop guidelines to make sure charismatic retreat centres do not deviate from Catholic teachings. At the end of the annual meeting of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, held Dec. 12-13, an official announced the bishops' plan to issue guidelines that would impact all Catholic retreat centres in Kerala within three months. Many of Kerala's approximately 1,000 Catholic retreat centres operate without the knowledge of Church authorities and their preaching sometimes deviates from authentic Catholic teachings. The state has about 6 million Christians in a population of 31 million. Father Paul Thelakat, the Syro-Malabar Church spokesperson and a retreat preacher, said the bishops worry that some charismatic centres are "sowing the seeds of Pentecostalism" among Catholics. "There is a feeling" several centres preach "a health-and-wealth Gospel" that promotes a "consumer spirituality" and in many cases deviates from authentic Catholic teachings, he said. Such preaching sometimes denies "rationality in faith matters, giving undue stress to wonders and healings, leading to superstitions," and sometimes such preachers interpret Scripture out of context, he pointed out. Thomas Devaprasad, a journalist-turned-charismatic leader, told UCA News "strict control" would "kill the spirit of charismatic movement." He said he welcomes the plan, but the guidelines should be "positive, not negative." (UCAN)

India, Ahmedabad: Christians Receive Gujarat Election Results with Dismay

Anguish Christians in Gujarat State say they expect harsher days ahead after a pro-Hindu party won almost two-thirds of the seats in the recent legislative assembly election, retaining its grip on power. Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people's party) was sworn in as the state's chief minister for a third consecutive term. The BJP is considered the political arm of groups that want to make India a Hindu theocratic state. The election results dismayed Christians. Jesuit Father Xavier Manjooran bemoaned Gujarat "seems to have sold itself to Hindutva and majority communalism." Father Stanny Jebamalai, said, "Modi's coming back to power has increased uncertainty among Christians and minorities," he also predicts violence against Christians will escalate. It would be "very bad" if Modi avenges minorities for voting en bloc against him, he added. Father Jebamalai agreed that Sonia Gandhi's election campaign created anti-minority sentiments among Hindus. "Modi's anti-minority rhetoric went much deeper into the Hindu voters," he added. Father Cedric Prakash says the people's verdict must be respected, but he does not expect anything good to happen for Christians or the poor under Modi. "We won't stop our struggle for truth, for justice, for human rights of poor, marginalized and deprived classes" whatever the consequences, asserted the Jesuit priest. (UCAN)

India, Bhubaneswar: Christians in India's Orissa State Demand Protection After Killings

Christian groups and churches are demanding urgent protection, saying they have been hounded by Hindu extremists in Indian's eastern state of Orissa, with reports of nine people being killed in attacks since Christmas. "Christians are brutally attacked by the fundamentalists and law and order is fully missing especially in Kandhamal where the fundamentalists have taken charge of the whole district," said Christian groups and churches in an appeal to India's National Human Rights Commission. (ENI)

Indonesia, Nusa Dua: Archbishop of Canterbury Urges 'Moral Vision' on Climate Change

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in a message to participants at United Nations climate change talks in Indonesia has said a clear moral vision is needed to deal with the challenge of global warming. "Ultimately the control of climate change, is the welfare of everybody," Williams said in a 10-minute video statement relayed to an 11 December ecumenical meeting during talks being held at Nusa Dua on the Indonesian island of Bali. (ENI)

Indonesia, Bali: “Climate change could cause new conflicts. It is necessary to intervene to maintain peace in the world ” – Fears Expressed at UN Conference in Bali

Participants at the UN climate change Conference in Bali is (3 to 14 December) included political leaders, representatives of international organisations, numerous members of civil societies from all over the world as well as members of Catholic commissions for Justice, Peace and Environment Protection, intellectuals theologians, missionaries and experts. (Agenzia Fides)

Malaysia: Catholic Weekly Told to Drop Use of 'Allah' in Order to Renew Publishing Permit

A Catholic weekly newspaper in Malaysia has been told to drop the use of the word Allah in its Malay-language section if it wants to renew its publishing permit, a senior government official said Dec. 21. Herald, published by Malaysia's Catholic Church, has translated the word God as Allah but it is erroneous because Allah refers to the Muslim God, said Che Din Yusoff, a senior official at the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit. Christians cannot use the word Allah. It is only applicable to Muslims. Allah is only for the Muslim god. This is a design to confuse the Muslim people, Che Din told The Associated Press. The weekly should instead, use the word Tuhan, which is the general term for God, he said. Herald, which has a circulation of 12,000 copies for members, publishes reports in four languages – English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Father Lawrence Andrew, its editor, said the weekly's use of the word Allah was not intended to offend Muslims. We follow the Bible. The Malay-language Bible uses Allah for God and Tuhan for Lord. In our prayers and in church during Malay mass, we use the word Allah, he told AP. This is not something new. The word Allah has been used in Malaysia for a long time. There is no confusion, he said. (Associated Press) – www.ucanews.com

Moscow: Opus Dei has Opened its First Centre in Russia

According to Itar-Tass news agency José Antonio Senovilla García, who is in charge of the new centre in Moscow, told Efe news agency he was "more than happy to be in Moscow" and that one of the things he noticed most in Russia was a tangible "thirst for God". (Agenzia Fides)

Rome: Internet Boom in Brazil

Misna new agency says between October 2006 and October 2007 ‘domestic’ access to the Internet in Brazil increased by 43,7% to include 30 million people, as according to Ibope/Net Ratings. In Brazil the Internet is used in 16% of the homes of 187 millions of Brazilians; more in general – schools, libraries, 'internet cafè' work places – total 39 million users, 21% more than a year ago. In October 20 million Brazilians were connected to the web, 1 per cent less than the record reached in September. For connection time – average 23 hours 12 minutes a month for every domestic user – Brazil overtakes countries like France (19 hours and 27 minutes) United States (19.19) and Japan (18.21). (Agenzia Fides)

Sri Lanka: Catholics Must be Reconcilers to the Conflict

Archbishop of Colombo Oswald Gomis has challenged Sri Lankan Catholics to promote reconciliation among all the people and races in the island nation, The Sunday Times reports. Archbishop Gomis noted that Christmas was arriving even amid dark clouds of war. "As we sing and rejoice in some parts of the country there is bitter suffering and agony in others," he said. The archbishop noted the sometimes life-threatening disruptions many Sri Lankans face. He said there were thousands homeless, children deprived of education, and people displaced from work. Though these afflictions should not prevent Catholics from celebrating Christmas, the feast must not be "just the celebration of a birth." Instead, Christmas should be "a renewal of our commitment to Jesus Christ and to His mission on earth." The mission of Jesus, Archbishop Gomis said, was reconciliation: "to reconcile God and man and man with man. Jesus showed that all of us, regardless of color, creed, or caste, are brothers and sisters. This means that "love should be the guiding principle of all human beings." The archbishop said this love was best embodied in the Crucifixion, where Christ laid down His life not only for His friends but also His enemies. Christians, he said, cannot forget their role to reconcile people where there is strife and dissension. (CNA)

USA, Los Angeles: Hoping Each Vigil for a Victim is his Last

A minister's pledge to honor those slain in homicides is difficult to keep as the deaths continue to mount. The Rev. Howard Dotson begins each candlelight vigil saying he "hopes and prays this is the last one." But sometimes, as one vigil ends, he must announce plans for another. The vigils are a product of Dotson's pledge to hold a prayerful ceremony for each homicide victim in the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division. Dotson has held 11 vigils in the last three months. They are usually held at dusk on the heavily pedestrian sidewalks of the MacArthur Park and Pico-Union areas. Only a few days before each vigil, at the same spot or one nearby, the scene had been violent and bloody. But where there were once victims and attackers, Dotson brings clergy members, family and friends of the deceased, social workers, police officers and a guitarist. "We cannot sit idly by," he said. The pledge was prompted by the death of Luis Angel Garcia, who was shot in a stroller at his mother's side near 6th Street and Burlington Avenue in September. He was 23 days old. (www.latimes.com)

Vatican City: Christ Gives Catholics Duty to Evangelize

Catholics have a duty to evangelize, since the ultimate fulfillment of the human person is found in accepting God's revelation as proclaimed by the Church, clarified the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In a document released today, called "Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization," the doctrinal congregation said it aimed to clarify "a growing confusion" about the Church's missionary mandate. The document notes that some people think an attempt to convince another person about a religious matter is a violation of freedom. It added that others see no need to promote conversion to Christ because it is possible for people to be saved without formal incorporation in the Church. The Vatican congregation thus gave an examination of the issue, taking into account the anthropological, ecclesiological and ecumenical implications of evangelization. The Vatican press office released a summary of the document today. (Zenith.org)

Warsaw: Polish Church in Clash with New Government about IVF Treatment

The Roman Catholic Church in Poland has criticised government plans to subsidise in vitro fertilisation from the State budget, in the church's first public conflict with the country's new government. "This isn't a church matter - it's a matter for humanity," Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the Polish primate, was quoted as saying by the Catholic information agency (KAI). "But we defend life in its natural process. If we're calling infertility a disease today, we shouldn't be fighting it in ways which will generate more diseases." (ENI)

Washington DC: Bishops’ Doctrine Committee Corrects Theologians Relativist Book

The Doctrine Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has examined a work of theologian Father Peter C.Phan, "Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue." Father Phan, a priest of the Diocese of Dallas, Texas, is a professor in Georgetown University's Department of Theology. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked the American bishops' Doctrine Committee to evaluate the book. The committee asked Father Phan to clarify points of concern over a period of two years. The committee's evaluation was presented in a document titled "Clarifications Required by the Book 'Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interfaith Dialogue'." The committee said that Father Phan's book uses "certain terms in an equivocal manner" that "opens the text up to significant ambiguity." It added that "a fair reading of the book could leave readers in considerable confusion as to the proper understanding of the uniqueness of Christ." The committee focused on three areas of theological concern: Jesus Christ as the unique and universal Savior of all humankind; the salvific significance of non-Christian religions; and the Church as the unique and universal instrument of salvation. In his book, Father Phan had qualified the uniqueness of Christ, saying that terms referring to Christ as "unique" "absolute" and "universal" "should be removed and replaced by other, theologically more adequate equivalents." (CNA)

II. BOOKS

Arun, C. Joe, Interculturation of Religion: Critical Perspectives on Robert de Nobili’s mission in India, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2007.

The central discussion of the volume about the relationship between culture and religion is very relevant to the mission in India.

Cleary, Michael, The Jesus Prayer Rosary, Norwich, UK: Canterbury Press, 2007. (It is obtainable from Amazon.com)

A complete resource for praying privately or in groups, this will open up the riches of Eastern and Catholic spirituality for all.

Julian, Baiju, Catholic Conditions to Bioethics: Reflections on Evangelium Vitae

This volume explores the Church’s growing awareness towards the bio-ethics and this has to be open to the transendent.

Kochupurackal, Sebastian, Eco-Mission: A Paradigm Shift in Missiology, Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, 2007.

It atttempts to state that achieving harmonious society requires a harmonious relationship with nature.

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.