79

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

September  – 2009

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Argentina: Archbishop Stresses Supernatural Dimension of Priesthood

Archbishop Hector Aguer of la Plata, Argentina encouraged the faithful to focus on the supernatural dimension of the priesthood in response to a culture that only sees the priest as "a person devoted in generic terms to the service of others." During his weekly radio programme, the archbishop said the Year for Priests is an occasion for emphasizing the religious and supernatural dimension of the priesthood amidst the influence of today’s culture which leads people to see the priest as "simply a person devoted in generic terms to the service of others, as an agent of social promotion," and not as a man of God (catholicnewsagency.com).

Asia: From Daejeon to Manila

The Asian Bishops’ Meeting 1970 in Manila was the origin of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences. Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, General Secretary of the FABC based his report on this historical happening in Manila and the first Plenary Assembly 1974 in Taipei which stressed the need and importance for a local Church, "Incarnate in a people, a Church indigenous and inculturated." Since then the Church in Asia has been guided, the archbishop believed, by key principles: like co-responsibility, participation, committed engagement in mission with its constitutive dimension of social transformation, contextualization, authenticity and credibility." Gathered in Taipei 35 years ago in 1974 at their First Plenary Assembly the Asian Bishops articulated what today remains as the overarching pastoral vision and direction of the Church in Asia. It was a vision of renewed Church in a mission of integral evangelization. Its locus is the continent of Asia with a distinctive three-fold characteristic:

In this Asian context the Asian Bishops envisioned the mode of mission as dialogue, in fact, a three-fold dialogue: dialogue with the cultures of Asia, dialogue with the religions of Asia, dialogue with the peoples of Asia, particularly the poor (fabc.org).

Asia: Churches in Asia Renew their Commitment to Indigenous Peoples

To protect indigenous peoples, affirming the dignity of the persons concerned, promote social development and safeguard against discrimination arising from unchecked globalization. These concerns and objectives of the Church in Asia were the focus of a meeting organized by the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences that took place in Pattaya, Thailand. In his latest encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI "calls for the protection and safeguarding of the local populations and their identity" and denounces "the unjust economic policies that affect them, harming the young nations and their traditional cultures” (asianews.it).

India: Crowds Celebrate Saint Alphonsa’s Feast Day

The feast of St. Alphonsa attracted about 100,000 pilgrims; more people this year than last year as the popularity of the sister’s tomb as a pilgrimage site continues to grow rapidly. About 500,000 people offered prayers to St. Alphonsa for the nine days leading to her feast day on July 28. This year was the saint’s first feast day celebration since she became the first Indian woman to be canonized on October 12, 2008. Saint Alphonsa, born in 1910, joined the Franciscan Clarist convent and made her final vows in 1936. She was a school-teacher for years and suffered illness for the last 10 years of her life. She died in Bharananganam in 1946 at the age of 36. Pope John Paul II had beatified her in Kerala on February 8, 1986 (ucanews.com).

India: Five Sentenced to Prison in Orissa Violence Case

Church leaders have welcomed the prison sentences, a fast-track court has handed to five people it convicted of taking part in anti-Christian violence last year in Orissa state. "It is a good development. It will go a long way in meting out justice to our people," Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar told UCA News on July 28, a day after the court announced its decision. He added that Christians in the riot-hit villages are still living in fear, because they saw people who perpetrated and led the violence moving around freely. Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesperson for Delhi archdiocese, said the court decision is "of course welcome, but the cases should be considered more seriously." Instigators of violence "should be punished severely so that it would be a lesson to themselves and others who spread sectarian hatred" (www.ucanews.com).

II. STATEMENT OF THE NATIONAL SEMINAR ON, “CHRISTIAN FAITH IN A WORLD OF SCIENCE: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES”

The National Seminar on “Christian Faith in a World of Science: Challenges and Opportunities” was organized at Ishvani Kendra, Pune, on August 18-20, 2009, by Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India - Committee for Science, Religion and Society (CBCI-CSRS) and Indian Institute of Science and Religion (IISR), Pune. There were 82 participants, including 10 archbishops and bishops, many religious superiors and scientists. Two representatives from the Pontifical Council for Culture also participated in this seminar.

The purpose of the Seminar was to conscientise the Church leaders to understand and respond creatively and constructively to the innovative scientific ideas and impressive technological breakthroughs which are transforming the way we live, the way we think and the way we act. Science is fast becoming a worldview shaping our value systems and rewriting our meaning system. The Seminar deliberated on religious, moral, social and personal implications of the challenges and opportunities posed by science.

Modern science is very much linked to Christianity, as is evident from the fact that most of the founders of modern science were practicing Christians. The participants realized the importance of continuing and nourishing this great tradition. Although the popular perception still persists that science and religion are at loggerheads with each other, it was the unanimous view of the participants that scientific findings and religious beliefs can complement and support each other since both are part of the human quest for truth.

It was also highlighted that the impact of science and technology today on believers, particularly on the youth, is very strong, and therefore the Church needs to be further awakened to the problems this situation poses. The pace with which the developments in science and technology are taking place is staggering, and the Church needs to keep pace with them. Any failure in this regard results in the widening of the gulf between the moral teachings of the Church and the practice of the Christians leading to an erosion of confidence in the Church leadership and the distancing of the Youth from the Church.

The participants appreciated the positive initiatives already taken by the universal Church, particularly by Vatican II and the recent Popes, in engaging in constructive and creative dialogue between Christian faith and the emerging scientific world. In the light of recent developments in science and technology, there is a need to update the Christian worldview, while remaining faithful to the Church.

Both the Council and the Popes have left no doubt about the need for a creative and constructive dialogue between modern science and the Catholic Church. In the words of Pope John Paul II, “The truth of the matter is that the Church and the scientific community will inevitably interact; their options do not include isolation.” He looks upon both science and Catholicism as mutually respecting and respectful partners with something substantial to contribute to each other and to humanity: “We (science and the Church) need each other to be what we must be, what we are called to be,” He believes that “Science can purify religion from error and superstition; religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes. Each can draw the other into a wider world, a world in which both can flourish.” Similar sentiments are expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his latest Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, which, with its theme of the integral human development in Charity and truth, affirms that “Development needs above all to be truly integral.”

Christianity has a sacred responsibility to critique and guide scientific progress towards integral human development, concern for the poor, upholding of human dignity and preserving Nature, while remaining attentive to the latest findings of science. The participants strongly recommend the following:

  1. Training of personnel: Each Diocese and each Province of Religious Congregations train at least one person to give leadership in the area of Science-Religion Dialogue.
  2. Laity involvement: Recognize the expertise of the laity in the field of science and technology and promote their active involvement and collaboration.
  3. Organizing seminars: Make special efforts to organize diocesan and regional seminars periodically on this theme.
  4. Priestly formation: Introduce a one-credit course on Science and Religion in all the formation houses and seminaries.

III. NEWS

India: Church mourns Kunjettan’s Death

The Church in India is mourning the death of a layperson, who, along with some priests, founded what has been billed as Asia’s largest lay organization. Pallattukunnel Chemmalamattom Abraham, also known as P.C. Abraham and popularly known as Kunjettan (little brother), died on August 11 in Kerala, Southern India, nine days after he was involved in a road accident. Kunjettan was 84 and survived by his wife and seven children. Abraham had inspired thousands of young people to become missioners working in India and abroad. He had founded Cherupushpa (little flower) Mission League 63 years ago. The league has some 1.7 million members and about 41,500 of its former members are now sisters and priests serving the Church throughout the world. Among them are 37 bishops. Three of Abraham’s four daughters are nuns (ucanews.com).

India: Santwana: A Gift to the Church

"Santwana, the lay movement of India is a gift to the Church and it is a very special gift to the Delhi Archdiocese during its Golden Jubilee Year", said Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi while blessing the new house of Santwana in Burari, Delhi, on Sunday 26th July 2009. Santwana is a lay movement, a community of disciples committed to strive together to follow the Lord in the path of love – Prem Marg – to build the Kingdom of God through prayer and proclamation of the Word of God. To spread this mission of Prem Marg (Path of Love), Santwana has been conducting training programmes in direct proclamation, lay leadership training, correspondence courses for the seekers of faith by running Catholic Enquiry Centre and many other ministries of sharing God’s love.

India: Feast of St. Anne brings Joy again at Tihar Jail

It has now become customary for members of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese to have the celebration of the feast of St. Ann and Joachim at Tihar Jail with the inmates. Initiated by Sr. Inigo five years ago, this year too the Eucharistic celebration was presided over by His Grace Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao. Out of nearly 1800 prisoners in jail No. 4, around 80 inmates along with 35 sisters and priests participated in the celebrations. The centre of attraction of the whole gathering was fundamental questions related to life followed by a delicious meal prepared by the inmates themselves.

India: PM urged to intervene over Investigators 'Vulgar' Remarks about Sister

A Left-wing member of Parliament, Brinda Karat, has demanded the Prime Minister's Office take action against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over its "vulgar" description of a virginity test on a religious sister. Eight New Delhi-based women's groups including the Indian Catholic bishops' women's commission have called for a sit-in demonstration on July 29 to protest against virginity tests on women. Karat says the "objectionable" description of the test on her "invites criminal action" under laws dealing with atrocities against women and obscenity (ucanews.com).

Vatican: Pope Light-heartedly wonders what his Guardian Angel was doing

Pope Benedict XVI said the Vatican and Italian police who watched over him while he was on vacation in the Italian Alps were like "guardian angels, discreet and efficient." But he was not quite so sure what his own guardian angel was up to. "Unfortunately, my guardian angel -- certainly following orders from above -- did not prevent my accident," he said, referring to the fact that he tripped in the dark on July 17 and broke his wrist (catholicnews.com).

Pune: Ishvani Kendra Programmes for 2010

110: Personal Growth and Transformation for Mission,
210: Led by the Word: A Biblical Course for Transforming Mission,
310: Overseas Mission Orientation,
410: The Art and Techniques of Digital Film-Making,
510: Leadership for Superiors,
610: Laity Formation,
710: Leadership for Pastoral Management,
810: Retreat for Bishops and Priests,
910: Psychological Dynamics at Mid-Life and
1010: Empowering Skills in Formation (ishvani@dataone.in).

IV. BOOKS

Mathew, P. J., Know Your Rights, Vadodara: Nyay Darshan, pp. 327. (Rs. 50/-)

This book, written in a question and answer format, contains some of the laws related to the legal rights of common men, women and children. Originally, they were published in the form of pamphelets to spread legal literacy. Here they are compiled and published in a book form. It will enable the readers to affirm and assert their legal rights effectively in order to develop themselves as well as our country.

Kunnumpuram, Kurien, (ed.), World Peace: An Impossible Dream? Mumbai: Better Yourself Books, 2007, pp. 364. (Rs.195/-)

We live in a world marred by discord, dissension, hatred, violence and war. Faced with this painful situation, can we really hope for peace? Is humanity capable of ushering in an era of peace on earth? And if it is capable of doing so, what resources are available to it for establishing peace. What contribution can different traditions and different disciplines make towards peace in our world? This volume offers you some plausible answers to such questions and goes on to take a close look at the socio-political dimensions of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Correa, Msgr. Francis, Mother Church in Mother India: Growth of the Catholic Church in India, Mumbai: St. Pauls, 2008, pp. 182. (Rs. 90/-)

This informative book on the history of the Church in India, guides the reader through the lanes of history and unveils the various stages of the development of Christianity in our country. As the intertwining of ecclesiastical, political and socio-economic history of our land gently unfolds, the reader will be filled with gratitude and awe in recognizing the hand of the Holy Spirit guiding the growth of the Church through the centuries.

Wilfred, Felix, Margins: Site of Asian Theologies, Delhi: ISPCK, 2008, pp.368.(Rs.325/-)

Love and the poor are the two eyes of Christianity. If today’s margins are where we find these fundamental Christian realities, where else could Asian theologies begin? At the margins there is sharing of more worlds than one. Asian theologies are theologies of relationships with neighbours, with cultures and religious traditions. Theologians from the margins free us from a narrow understanding of Christian faith. They raise questions and issues that are neglected by the centres of power and by dominant theologies. The present book is an exploration into the emergence of Asian theologies from the margins and their implication for Christian engagement and praxis.

Dr. Joy Thomas, 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

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