80

ISHVANI KENDRA
Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India

October  – 2009

I. REPORT AND DOCUMENTATION

Africa: Synod on Africa

The theme of the upcoming Synod, ‘The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice, and Peace’ is very pertinent and urgent. In light of his deep experience in Africa, where missionaries come from all over the world to preach the Gospel, there are various levels of wounds from the war, clashes, and conflicts, although the most highlighted by the mass media is those caused by the civil war that involve the countries rich in raw materials. The theme of the Synod harps on a passage from the Gospel of Matthew: "You are the salt of the earth...you are the light of the world" (Mt 5/13-14). It will be important to offer hope to the community, to those who suffer. The theme says it clearly: it is our responsibility to offer a concrete resolution, with guidelines and instruments and not only in words, to reconcile a continent that is truly ravaged by civil war and fratricide (fides.org).

Africa: Family is best for Orphans

Africa's orphans will experience a richer, more wholesome childhood if they are raised within a family rather than in a childcare institution, according to speakers at a conference on family-based care for children in Nairobi. "We need to heed the cry of a child's heart for an adult who will care for them and be crazy about them," said Monica Woodhouse, who runs the South African NGO, Give a Child a Family. According to the UN, there are more than 34 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa today, 11 million of whom lost parents to the AIDS pandemic. Traditionally, orphans in Africa are raised by the extended family, and while many families continue to take in orphaned relatives, conventional family structures are buckling under the pressure of caring for additional children; a 2006 study in Korogocho, a Nairobi slum, found that more than half the 436 people surveyed were caring for at least one child orphaned through HIV/AIDS. Too poor to cope, many families now reject these children, leading to a proliferation of institutional childcare facilities across the continent; in Uganda, for example, government statistics show that the number of children in orphanages nearly doubled between 1998 and 2001 (irinnews.org).

India: Minister Salutes Catholic Religious for Quality Education

India's education minister has praised Catholic Religious for bringing quality education to the country's poor and asked them to be partners in raising general teaching standards in the country. "We salute you for making quality education accessible to the poor and marginalized. We want more people like you," said federal Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal while opening the national assembly of the Conference of Religious (CRI) on September 28 in New Delhi. The CRI represents India's more than 125,000 Catholic Religious brothers, priests and nuns. Some 550 CRI members attended the September 27-October 2 leadership conference with the theme, "Harmonious India" (ucanews.com).

India: ‘Israelite’ History of the Lambadis of Karnataka

St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute, Bangalore awarded Doctorate in Theology to Fr. Varghese Chakkala SDB for his research in Missiology, on the life and culture of the gypsy tribe, Lambadis of Karnataka. In a unique and daring attempt, Fr. Varghese Chakkala SDB has done a Doctoral Research in Missiology, on the life and culture of the gypsy tribe, Lambadis of Karnataka. The thesis titled, “Evangelization is Liberation: with a special reference to the Evangelization among the Lambadis of Karnataka”, takes him deep into a largely unchartered territory of the life and ethos of this colourful tribe - the Lambadis. Seeing the close parallel between the nomadic history of the Lambadis and that of the Israelites beginning from the sojourner, Abraham and particularly in Exodus, the scholar unequivocally establishes that the Lambadis can attain their liberation in a true evangelization: one that leads them to liberation from political slavery, cultural hegemony, economic bondage, religious shackles and social misery. This 405 page Research Work is indeed an asset both to Missiology and Literature (donboscoindia.com).

India: Seminary Rectors to tackle Hindu Fundamentalism

The Association of Rectors of Major Seminaries of India (ARMS) plans to tackle the problem of Hindu fundamentalism. ARMS says that it is the biggest threat to the Church and India as a whole. Fr. Prasad Pinto, ARMS' newly elected president and rector of Ranchi's St. Albert's College, told that the rectors wanted to find a solution to growing sectarianism and attacks on religious minority groups, including Catholic priests working in remote areas in the country. “We want to prepare our future priests to face the problem before it catches them unawares. Seminaries can play a ‘great role’ in the fight against sectarianism as they prepare future priests who work among Christians and others alike,” he added. He noted that Christians cannot accept Hindu fundamentalist ideology if it discriminates, separates and divides people on the basis of religion. He stressed that Catholic priests should help people understand Hinduism's positive aspects and Hindu fundamentalism's negative teachings that threaten the nation.

Rectors from 53 of 141 major seminaries discussed how to bring about changes in seminary formation to respond effectively to various issues facing the Church and society, including sectarianism. Their September 25-28 meeting in Ranchi, eastern India, had as its theme: "Formation for Mission in Today's Context" (ucanews.com).

India: Archbishop’s Message on Ganesh Festival 2009

“It is feast time, once again, when our Hindu brothers and sisters - our fellow pilgrims on earth - honour their Lord Ganesh. It is an occasion when the fruits of earth - the fruit of human work - are laid at his feet. It is a moment of special joy, as they experience the visit of the deity to their homes. And no wonder this joy overflows in the exchange of greetings and goodies with their dear and near ones. We take particular note that Ganesh is venerated as an icon of wisdom, tenderness, compassion and prosperity. While sharing in the joy of our Hindu brethren, we also pray that those high qualities of human interaction be instilled in the members of the Goan community that they may serve to strengthen the fabric of tolerance, cooperation and mutual help, which have marked it for centuries. We will then be able to journey, side by side, as partners for the progress and prosperity of our beloved Goa, so as to build a Great India and sing praises to the glory of God” said Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão of Goa and Daman (dcscmgoa@gmail.com).

Korea: Dioceses Criticized for Failure to Empower Women

Women's concerns are still not being addressed directly through diocesan organizations even after two synods recommended this, Catholic women activists have said with concern. "In Seoul archdiocese there is no structure or channel to convey women's voice in a direct manner," Sister Elisabeth Choi Hae-young pointed out. The Korean provincial head of the Society of the Sacred Heart noted in a seminar that a pastoral letter issued after Seoul archdiocese's 2000-2003 synod called establishing an archdiocesan women's body "desirable." Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul issued the letter in September 2003, based on the synod's final proposals. Prior to that, Incheon diocese conducted a synod 1997-2000 after which Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san also issued a pastoral letter that recommended setting up a women's body in his diocese. Incheon also has failed to do this. None of the other four synods held in recent years by another archdiocese and three dioceses suggested establishing such bodies. The Church in South Korea comprises 15 archdioceses and dioceses, and one military ordinariate. The Committee for Women, established under the Committee for the Lay Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK), conducted the annual seminar. This year it had the theme: "Women and Communication in the Church." Half of the 80 participants at the Franciscan Education Center were women Religious (ucanews.com).

Mexico: Congress on Liberation Theology

The first International Congress on Liberation Theology was held from the 24 - 26 August 2009 in Mexico City. It was devoted to the writings of Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, the Jesuit killed exactly 20 years ago in El Salvador. Participants to the meeting were major Latin American experts of this theological stream and of the themes connected to it. Fr. Ellacuría joined the Society of Jesus in his home country of Spain in 1947. He was sent to El Salvador in 1948, and lived there until his death. The primary goal of Liberation theology is the liberation of the oppressed so they may "reach human wholeness". The political implications of his thinking found strong opposition in some religious circles and in Salvadorian political forces leading to his slaying in 1989 (sjweb.info).

Myanmar: ‘Living the Eucharist Involves Reaching Out to Others’

Myanmar Church leaders who attended the recent Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Plenary Assembly say its focus on the Eucharist helped them realize the need to reach out more to the wider community, especially those less privileged. As living the Eucharist is about "meeting Christ in our brothers and sisters, we must reach out to people who are facing financial or other difficulties instead of remaining comfortable in our own situations as bishops, priests and Religious," remarked Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon. "I became more aware of the need to care for poor people," the Salesian prelate said after he returned from the August 11-16 meeting, which had the theme "Living the Eucharist in Asia" (ucanews.com).

Nepal: South Asian Couples for Christ Meeting Inspires Nepalese Members

Leaders of the international Couples for Christ (CFC) lay group in Nepal say a recent regional meeting here was a great boost to their ministry. The September 18-19 "First CFC South Asia Regional Leaders' Conference" was very enriching, uplifting and a "bonding" experience, enthused Gyan Prakash Rai, CFC head in country the country. "This meeting helped our CFC leaders here in Nepal to learn a lot from the visiting leaders." The conference, held at Godavari, on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu, brought together 30 local CFC leaders and 17 foreign delegates. The latter included CFC leaders and members serving in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Philippines (ucanews.com).

Nepal: Homage to a Great Educator Fr. James Donnelly

"He has been my teacher and my icon", said Ranjeet Baral, one of the first students to speak about Fr. James Donnelly. Fr. Donnelly recently died in Nepal at age 80, 40 of which spent at the foot of Himalayan Mountains. Another student added: "Now that he left us I hope to be able to transmit to my children what I have learned from him." The funeral was held at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Kathmandu on August 17th; the church was filled with alumni, friends and brother Jesuits. He was born in Cincinnati in 1929 and went to Nepal as a young priest shortly after ordination. In addition to teaching English to young Nepalese students in the Jesuit run schools in Godavari and Jawalakhel, he also contributed to the country's 1970 National Education System Plan (sjweb.info).

Philippines: Society of the Divine Word marks One Hundred Years of Mission

Present in the Philippines since 15 August 1909 the Society of the Divine word is now the largest religious community in the country. For superiors the anniversary is an occasion to appreciate the fruits of their work and through the Word of God enrich the land of their mission. On August 15 the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) celebrated 100 years of mission in the Philippines. On the Feast of the Assumption 1909 the first two missionaries, Fr. Louis Beckert and Fr. Jhon Scheirmann, landed in the port of San Isidro. In the course of a century, the Filipino SVD community has become the largest congregation of men in the country. Its 460 members are located in three provinces that comprise the whole of the archipelago. In addition to helping the cities street children and the poor, the missionaries bring the Word of God to the indigenous people who still do not know the Gospel.

Fr. Antonio M. Pernia, superior general of the order, of Filipino origin, says that "with the centenary of the Society of the Divine Word, our three provinces have the privilege of collecting what the early missionaries had sown with great difficulties and sacrifice." He adds that "in order to continue to sow in good and bad circumstances, we must have the same generosity and wisdom of the early missionaries". The Society of the Divine Word was founded in 1875 by St. Arnold Janssen. After the first house opened in Steyl (Netherlands) the order has now spread to 67 countries and counts more than 6 thousand religious (asianews.it).

Vatican: Pakistani President discuss Religious Discrimination with the Pope

When Pope Benedict and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met on 1st October, they discussed the need "to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation" in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Zardari visited the Pope at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo near Rome at the end of the Pakistani president's official visit to Italy. The two talked in private for half an hour. Afterward, Zardari presented his delegation and then, accompanied by Shahbaz Bhatti, his Catholic federal minister for minority affairs, held talks with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, the Secretary for Relations with States. The Vatican statement said Pope Benedict and Vatican officials emphasized "the need to overcome all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation, with the aim of promoting respect for the rights of all citizens." Sources said Vatican officials stressed "the need" to repeal Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Church leaders have long charged that the blasphemy laws are being abused for personal gain and to harass non-Muslims. In his Vatican discussions and in earlier talks with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and top political leaders, the Pakistani president concurred on the need to ensure religious freedom, protect religious minorities and repeal the blasphemy laws. The Vatican, however, is not just concerned about the blasphemy laws and the way they are open to abuse. It is also troubled about discrimination in the Pakistani civil service and other areas of employment, and raised this issue during the discussions (ucanews.com).

II. THEME FOR 2010 WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS

"The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word" is the theme of the Pope's Message for the next World Day of Social Communications which is celebrated every year on 24 January, Feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron saint of journalists. The aim of the Message is "to invite priests in particular, during this Year for Priests and in the wake of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to consider the new communications media as a possible resource for their ministry at the service of the Word. Likewise, it aims to encourage them to face the challenges arising from the new digital culture. The new communications media, if adequately understood and exploited, can offer priests and all pastoral care workers a wealth of data which was difficult to access before, and facilitate forms of collaboration and increased communion that were previously unthinkable … If wisely used, with the help of experts in technology and the communications culture, the new media can become - for priests and for all pastoral care workers - a valid and effective instrument for authentic and profound evangelisation and communion" (VIS 090929).

India: "So even the Deaf hear the Good News"

Br. V.K. George has been engaged in work for the deaf in India for years. A religious of the Monfortana Family he is now secretary and treasurer of the Congregation of the Brothers of St. Gabriel for the north-east province. He lives in Guwahati in Assam state in one of 155 schools run by the family, nine of which are dedicated exclusively to the deaf. According to some statistics, people with hearing loss in India number around 60 million, almost 6% of the population. The numbers, however, do not do justice to the magnitude of the phenomenon that also affects the lives of families of the disabled. "Impotence" and "social exclusion" are two words that Br. George uses to describe the condition in which often not only the disabled live but also their relatives. For over thirty years Montfortian priest has dedicated them his time and his energies. He received his doctorate in Special Education at the University of Manila and has specialized in audiology at University College Dublin (asianews.it ).

Myanmar: Priests need Encouragement

Priests in Myanmar remain highly motivated in their pastoral ministry but are sometimes challenged by loneliness and lack of money, says a Church official in Myanmar. The Church remains grateful for prayers being said at Masses around the country for its clergy during the special Year for Priests, said Fr. Henry Eikhlein, 49, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Clergy in Myanmar. Catholic priests need encouragement given the challenges they face in terms of work-related travel and the lack of communications and finances especially in remote areas, he said. In the hilly regions, priests sometimes have to walk for three days to reach the villages of their parishioners, he pointed out. Yet, most priests here are very motivated in their mission and pastoral work (ucanews.com).

III. NEWS

India: Indian Mission Congress Anthem and Website Launched

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), said that the “Mission Congress is a celebration of the 2,000 history of the Church in India” as well as “a call to renew our journey of faith.” Bishop Bosco Penha released the Theme Song CD “Let Your Light Shine.” The theme song will be sung during the Prabhu Yesu Mahotsav that will be held at the St. Pius X College, Goregaon from October 14 - 18, 2009. Later, Bishop Bosco inaugurated the website www.indianmissioncongress.com. The website publishes news, pictures and loads of information related to the Indian Mission Congress (ucanews.com).

India : Jesuit’s Vice-Chancellor

People of various religions have welcomed a Jesuit priest’s appointment as vice-chancellor of a new university in Chaibasa, in eastern India’s Jharkhand state. Fr. Beni Ekka’s appointment as the first vice-chancellor of Kolhan University "is a matter of pride for Christians and others in Jharkhand," says Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo of Ranchi. "It is also a recognition of the Church's contribution in the field of education," the cardinal said (ucanews.com).

Nepal: FOIM Biannual Conference

The next FOIM Conference and Research Seminar is at Kathmandu from 11-14 October 2009. Theme of this Missiologists’ Conference is, “Mission in Asia” and the following papers will be presented:

  1. Antony Kalliath, “Theme Paper: Being Missional in Asia”
  2. Julian Saldanha, “Historical background of the Asian Churches”
  3. Acharya +Ernest W. Talibuddin, “The Call from Asia: A Missiological Adventure of the Anglican Church with Special Reference to Indian Sub-Continent”
  4. Jesuino Almeida, “Mission Today in Andamans”
  5. Joy Thomas, “Mission, Spirituality and Formation in Asia”
  6. Jacob Kavunkal, “Humanizing Life in Asia”
  7. B. L. Nongbri, "Nature and Pattern of Religious Conversion in Northeast India: A Socio-Historical Analysis"
  8. Pius Perumana, “Mission in Nepal”
  9. M. D. Thomas, “Mission as promoting Harmony in Social Life”
  10. J. Patmury, “Asia and the Many Religions: Need for Dialogue"
  11. Lalsangkima Pachuau, "Mission in Asia: 1910 - 2010"

USA: Apostolic Visitation Questionnaire sent to US Religious Orders

A questionnaire covering the life and operation of 341 congregations of women religious in the U.S. was sent on September 18th to congregational leaders. Distribution of the questionnaire opens the second phase of a comprehensive study of U.S. institutes of women religious announced in January and ordered by Cardinal Franc Rode as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Topics covered in the questionnaire include identity; governance; vocation promotion, admission and formation policies; spiritual life and common life; mission and ministry; and finances (catholicnews.com).

Vatican: Fr. Damian and Four Others to be Canonized

Pope Benedict will canonize five blesseds, including Fr. Damien de Veuster, a well-known Belgian missionary priest who cared for lepers in Hawaii on Sunday, October 11 in St. Peter's Square. The level of excitement in Hawaii has been quite high in the lead-up to Fr. Damian's canonization. Eleven lepers, who see the priest as their personal saint, and a group of Boy Scouts have made the voyage to the Vatican to be present for the ceremony at which the Church proclaims him a saint (catholicnewsagency.com).

IV. BOOKS

1. Kalloor, Scaria, Creative Transformation: A New Paradigm for Christology, Delhi: Media House, 2009, pp.335. (Rs.300/-)

Christian theology, from its very inception had to wrestle constantly with nagging questions that yielded seldom to easy solutions. The difficulty of understanding the person of Jesus Christ in the context of religious pluralism and modernism characterizes the main theological problematic of our age. The core of the question Creative Transformation tries to answer is: How are we to understand and interpret our faith in Jesus Christ in the context of a religiously pluralistic situation, and the advancement of modern science, in which we find ourselves today?

2. David, A. Maria, Beyond Boundaries: Hindu-Christian Relationship and Basic Christian Communities, Delhi: ISPCK, 2009, pp.281. (Rs. 250/-)

It is a vivid description of the historical, socio-cultural and religious settings of south Travancore, with reference to the Hindu-Christian relationship in India at present. An unbiased re-construction of the events related to Hindu-Christian conflicts in the southern most end of the Indian subcontinent which marked the beginning of Hindu-Christian polarization in recent times in India. Dr. David’s argument are empirically substantiated, his style lucid and his findings persuasive and fraught with prophetic challenges to those concerned with making the mission of the Church in India more effective and fruitful.

3. Nolan, Albert, Jesus Today: a Spirituality of Radical Freedom, Mumbai: St. Pauls, 2006, pp.258. (Rs.120/-)

In his classic work, Jesus before Christianity, Albert Nolan stressed the political context of Jesus’ mission. Now, in this long-awaited sequel, he focuses on the spirituality of Jesus and its relevance for us today. After surveying the signs of the times Nolan outlines the elements of Jesus’ spirituality and shows how these lessons might promote a greater communion with God and with all of God’s creation.

4. Pushparajan, A., Second Vatican Council on Dialogue, Bangalore: SFS Publications, 2009, pp.114. (Rs. 55/-)

The author of this book responds to this cry of our times. If we are not to head towards destruction we need dialogue and the building of bridges of friendship and we need the immense inspiration of Vatican II.

5. Hugh O’Shaughnessy & Edgar Venerando Ruiz Diaz, The Priest of Paraguay: Fernando Lugo and the Making of a Nation, London & NY: Zed Books, 2009, pp.176.

The story of a Roman Catholic bishop who resigned his bishopric to run in a presidential election was always going to be a fairly unique one. Even more so when, having won the election, he was welcomed by the Vatican as a legitimate president and sent a present by the Pope.

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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