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ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

September  – 2008

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Asia: Creative Models of Evangelization in Asia

The final statement of the consultation at Hua Hin in Thailand on Creative Models of Evangelization in Asia contains five main parts: ‘Stories to Inspire’ describing the dynamics of the consultation; ‘Crossing Boundaries’ which gives a theological background to the mission work of the Church in Asia; ‘Challenging Situations’ briefly outlining the context upon which mission is done in Asia; ‘Boundless Opportunities’ listing the possibilities for mission to flourish; and ‘Urgent Responses’ which recommends for mission -- (1) Prayer and God-experience, (2) Sensitivity to Asian Cultures, and (3) Small Christian Communities and New Movements. For creative mission, interactive programmes via cyber-media, sign language with the deaf, networking, and a central data-pool of basic information on evangelistic initiatives are also recommended. The consultation was organized by the FABC-Office of Evangelization (FABC.Org).

India: Evangelization through Voice Mail

Evangelization has gone mobile and subscribers can now listen to the Word of God on voice mail. This innovative idea has come up based on the fact that a mobile phone has become a highly personal medium giving constant company to a good number of people. Keeping the nature of this personal medium in mind, the Director of Media Commission of the Archdiocese of Delhi, Fr. John Paul Herman SVD first started preparing the content based on the Word of God in text form for the use of SMS for a private service provider company, ‘LiveM’ (CCBI, Vol. XVIX/2).

India: The Word of God in the Mission of the Church

During the Fifth South Asian Workshop of the Catholic Biblical Federation, held in Mumbai, India, Fr. Lucien Legrand MEP, held a talk in light of the Lineamenta of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. Fr. Legrand’s analysis of the text of the Lineamenta or Guidelines, with special regard to the third chapter, reflects on the present context of the Asian continent. He concluded his talk by saying, “We hope that the responses made to the Lineamenta and the sharing of the Bishops at the Roman Synod will enlarge the perspectives accordingly and present a message relevant to a world in search of reconciliation, justice and peace” (Dei Verbum, No.86/87, 1-2/2008).

India: The Cultural Dimension of Conversion

His Grace, Thomas Menamparampil SDB, Archbishop of Guwahati, India says, “I generally prefer to speak of ‘cultures in the context of sharing the Gospel’ than merely of ‘Inculturation’, which seems to mean all things to all people. However, it has become an accepted word, and we are compelled to use it with the possibility of diverse understanding. To be precise, we are enculturated into a culture after birth, and acculturated to another culture by adoption. Inculturation is something different. It is not merely the insertion of a few aratis and dances into liturgy, or insistence on the 12 or 20 point programme we have in mind, but a perspective we take which influences our entire way of understanding, thinking, ‘behaving’; it is a deep insight about a community’s ways of living, relating, organizing and celebrating. It is a way of responding to the Spirit of God who is alive and active in cultures” (Omnis Terra, n.388/XLII, 2008).

Indonesia: Bishop calls Catholics to Dialogue with Muslims

The new bishop of Bandung has urged Catholics, a tiny minority in his diocese southeast of Jakarta, to pursue interpersonal encounters and dialogue with Muslims and people of other religions. Bishop Johannes Pujasumarta, made this call after his ordination and installation as bishop of the diocese, where Muslims form 96.5% of the 25.7 million local population and Catholics 0.4%. Bishop Pujasumarta said, "We need to make inter-personal encounters and develop dialogue with other believers, so that together we can see a new heaven and a new earth" (ucanews.com).

Italy: Iraqi PM and Pope discuss Interreligious Dialogue

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit Iraq as a way to help support peacemaking efforts in the conflict-torn nation. He said that Pope Benedict welcomed the invitation. After taking part in a 20-minute, closed-door meeting with the pope at the papal summer residence, al-Maliki told reporters that the Pope's “visit would represent support for the efforts of love and peace in Iraq.” He also added, “The Pope understands the situation in Iraq and is aware that bad people exist in all religions, whether Christian or Muslim … Iraq does not want to see discrimination against any religion, including the minority Christian population” (catholicnews.com).

India: Being tortured for Christ

Fr. Thomas Chellen, undergoing treatment at Bhubaneswar in the state of Orrisa in India, said he was grateful to be alive after a mob nearly set him on fire. "They had poured kerosene on my head, and one held a matchbox in his hands to light the fire. But thanks to divine providence, in the end, they did not do that. Fr. Chellen said mobs started attacking Christian centers in Kandhamal, the district in Orissa where the murder of a Hindu leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, by Maoist extremists took place. Fr. Chellen said of his ordeal as “being tortured for Christ" (Catholic-news.com).

Another missionary whom the mob tried to lock in the house and burn, Fr. Edward Sequeira SVD now recuperating in a hospital in Mumbai, said “I am safe in the hands of God”. When people come and tell him, “we are praying for you” he says, “Do not pray for me, I am in the safe hands of God, you go and work for the rights of the minorities”. Fr. Edward believes that God has saved him miraculously and He has a purpose for him, while Rajani Majhi, 19 years of age, a student and a helper at the orphanage whose ‘voice in distress’ still resounds in Fr. Edward’s ears, “Father, they are going to burn me”. He heard this cry as he was losing his consciousness. Rajani was burnt alive. Fr. Edward came to know about it only two days later. Rajani was a Hindu girl (Reported by Fr. Edwin Vas SVD, his classmate, after visiting him).

India: CBCI submits Memorandum to Prime Minister

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India submitted the following request to Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on August 28, 2008:

“We are sad to note that Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Lakshman-ananda Saraswati and five others were murdered on Saturday, August 23, 2008 allegedly by a Maoist group in Kandhamal Dist of Orissa. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and the Church leaders in Orissa and other parts of the country have condemned the killing of Swami Saraswati and his associates in the Ashram. We have also appealed for peace and harmony in the State.

However, we are extremely sorry to find that some organizations have pointed finger at the Christian community in Orissa for the alleged murder of the Swami and his associates. Consequently, there have been unprovoked attacks on Christians and their institutions in Kandhamal and surrounding areas. We are pained and shocked at the merciless killings and unabated violence against the Christians all over the State of Orissa. While the Christian leaders have condemned the heinous crime perpetrated on Swami … and his associates …, the killings of and atrocities against Christians are the evil designs of the fanatic fundamentalists. They are still continuing the violence and the State Government has failed to protect the Christians and other innocent people. The Christians in the State are living in continual tension and great fear. The law and order machinery is not at their rescue and they are living in pathetic conditions for the last four days. The houses, churches and prayer halls have to be rebuilt and a sense of security has to be restored in the hearts of Christians and other affected people. This is the greatest disaster in the history of a Christian community in India and more so in Orissa. OUR FEAR:

In view of the facts stated above we demand the following:

  1. That a CBI enquiry be ordered for proper and impartial investigation for justice.
  2. That Central Para-Military Forces/Army be deployed in adequate strength at all the affected and sensitive places to prevent any further recurrences as the local police has not been able to control the situation.
  3. That impartial and proper assessment of the property damage caused to various Churches, Christian institutions, individuals and other establishments be made and given adequate compensation as early as possible in view of proper rehabilitation.
  4. That adequate compensation be given to the families of the deceased and inured persons.
  5. That the culprits responsible for creating communal disharmony and damage caused to the people and properties should be severely dealt with and those Government officials found wanting or negligent in their duties be taken to task.
  6. That a law be enacted after the manner of SC Atrocities (Prevention) Act, in order to restrain such heinous communal crimes which have become so common in India.”

India: Prime Minister Directs Officials in Orissa to Take Steps to Restore Peace

The federal government of India is in touch with the state government of Orissa, "Every effort would be made to restore normalcy," government press statement said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke with Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and "requested him to take immediate steps" to restore peace in the state. The prime minister also advised Patnaik to provide "immediate relief to the affected people, particularly children," the statement added. Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, said: "Christians hiding in the forest don't have anything to eat…One priest called me and said they were hiding in the jungle for the past three days.” Catholic schools across India remained closed on August 29 as religious, dioceses and other groups demanded and prayed for peace in Orissa state, where anti-Christian violence continues (ucanews).

India: A Day of Prayer and Fasting in Solidarity with Victims in Orissa

Most Rev. Valerian D’Souza, Bishop of Poona, in his letter dated 27 August 2008, to Pastoral Clergy and the Heads of Institutions in his diocese declared, “Sunday, September 7, 2008, as a Day of Prayer and Fasting.” And said, “in all our Dioceses, our Churches, parish communities and all Church institutions and organizations will hold prayer services and memorial gatherings on this day, highlighting the need for our solidarity with all the victims and prayer for all our Missionaries in India, who are facing most trying and difficult times for the sake of the Gospel”(punedioc@vsnl.com).

India: Chief Minister orders Investigation into Murder of a Priest

Fr. Thomas Pandippally CMI was brutally killed on August 16, 2008. Arch-bishop M. Joji of Hyderabad held a meeting with Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was shocked to learn about the merciless massacre of Fr. Thomas and immediately ordered for a meeting to decide on the measures to be taken to make a thorough enquiry into the incident. He agreed to the demand for making a comprehensive investigation into the killings of ten pastors and numerous attacks on the Christians in the State by the communal groups (apchurches@gmail.com).

II. NEWS

China: Plant to print One Million Bibles Monthly

The Amity Printing Company of Nanjing in China now has the capacity to print one million Bibles a month. “The new printing plant marks a new milestone for the Bible printing ministry of the Church in China,” Qiu Zhonghui, the chairperson of the printing company said (ENI). Times of India reported, "Chinese Catholics, Muslims and Buddhists openly practice their officially sanctioned religions, but the Communist regime keeps a tight rein on spirituality, as it does on every other aspect of life in China" (24 Aug. 2008, p.14).

India: Sisters of Charity of Nazareth to Meet Mission Challenges

The 54th General Assembly of the SCN international Congregation held in Bangalore, India resolved to work among teenagers and youth who face disorientation in new environments as well as threats such as drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and drafted a mission statement to implement their plan. The congregation felt the need to replace traditional ministries with flexible and contextualized ones (ucanews).

India: Liturgical Identity of the Syro-Malabar Church

Mar Joseph Powathil, Archbishop Emeritus of Changanacherry in Kerala, India, explaining the liturgical identity said, “A sui iuris Church manifests itself in liturgy. Liturgy is the faith celebrated. It is the manifestation if the Church par excellence and the liturgical assembly is the locus where the Church is concretely realized. It has been rightly said that the Eucharist makes the Church present and it manifests her as a visible sign of communion in Christ. Hence every Church has to be faithful to its faith-tradition and its authentic expression which is the liturgy” (Christian Orient, XXIX/2).

India: Buddham Sharanam Gachami

On the 2552nd Birth Anniversary of ‘Lord Buddha’ heads of different religions got together to have a inter-faith dialogue. On 20 May 2008 Buddhists of Ambassa area thought of celebrating feast of Buddha Purnima (birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha) in different way. They invited few heads of religions to share their faith in common (SVD News ING, Vol. 3/2).

Italy: Focolare Elects New President

The Catholic lay Focolare movement elected a new president, the first after the death of its founder in March. Maria Voce, an Italian was elected Monday at the movement’s General Assembly (Zenit.org).

Australia: Madrid to host 2011 Youth Day

At the end of the 23rd World Youth Day, Benedict XVI told the young people that he would see them again in Madrid in 2011, announcing the location for the 24th World Youth Day (Zenit.org).

III. BOOKS (Few copies of the following books are still available at Ishvani Kendra)

1. Kavunkal, Jacob, and F. Hrangkhuma, eds., Bible and Mission in India Today.

This is the Ist volume in the FOIM (Fellowship of Indian Missiologists) series published in 1993. FOIM in general and the present book in particular aims at promoting missiology in Indian context by discussing issues that are specific to India (Rs. 96/-).

2. Kavunkal, Jacob, and F. Hrangkhuma, eds., Christ and Cultures

The authors of the IInd volume of the FOIM series (1994), experts in their own fields, have made a praiseworthy effort to throw light upon the relevance and importance of socio-cultural integration of the Church’s missionary approach, attitudes and activity (Rs. 75/-).

3. Mattam, Joseph, and Kim, Sebastian, eds., Dimensions of Mission in India

In this IIIrd volume of the FOIM series (1995), there are challenges for everyone: the traditionalists as well as the progressives will find something appealing to them. The attempt to carry out the will of the Lord to “make disciples of all nations”, is a challenging task, and new ways and approaches which respect the whole of creation are yet to be found (Rs. 80/-).

4. Mattam, Joseph, and Kim, Sebastian, eds., Mission and Conversion: A Reappraisal

This IVth volume of the FOIM series (1996), provides valuable resource materials and stimulation for all students and teachers in Missiology. It represents our humble reflection on the past and a serious examination of the problem of conversion and baptism with a sincere desire to participate in God’s mission in India (Rs. 85/-).

5. Mattam, Joseph, and Kim, Sebastian, eds., Mission Trends Today: Historical and Theological Perspectives.

Reflection on mission is a rather recent phenomenon in the Churches. Today one is convinced of the need for regular reflection on mission to make it more and more suited to the people and their need. We hope this Vth volume of the FOIM series (1997), will help the readers to deepen their love for the mission entrusted to the Church by her Lord and recommit themselves to carry on proclaiming the Good News Rs. 85/-).

6. Mattam, Joseph, and Marak, Krickwin C., eds., Blossoms from the East: Contribution of the Indian Church to World Mission.

There have been various attempts over the centuries to inculturate the gospel in India. In more recent times, there have been significant contributions to inculturation, indigenous theology and to a new approach to mission in India. In the VIth volume (1998) in the FOIM series, the authors hope the insights from the past will give impetus to the on-going search for a more meaningful expression of the faith in the culture and thought pattern of our country and people (Rs. 90/-).

7. Hrangkhuma, F. and Thoms, Joy, eds., Christ Among the Tribals.

Christ Among the Tribals is the XI Volume of the FOIM publications (2007). It represents one of the contextual missiological issues discussed from various perspectives, covering various areas of history, concerns and contextual issues. It begins with an overview of Christianity among the tribals in India and ends with primal religions and Jesus Christ at the global level (Rs. 200/-).

Dr. Joy Thomas, SVD (Director)

ISHVANI KENDRA
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