Institute of Missiology and Communications
Pune – India
June  – 2010


India: A Tragic Air Crash in Mangalore

Fr. Babu Joseph SVD, Spokesperson of CBCI, said that the tragedy at the Mangalore airport on 22nd May 2010, Saturday morning in which 163 people died is most shocking and disturbing for the Church in India and for the whole nation. “Our heartfelt condolences go to the families and relatives of the victims. We earnestly pray for the departed souls of the innocent people who lost their lives in the plane crash. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) is deeply pained at the tragic incident and shares the anguish of all those who have suffered. Bishops from all over the country offer their prayers for the recovery of survivors,” he said (cbcipro@vsnl.net).

India: Solar Power brings Light to Leprosy Patients' Lives

Solar power has become a blessing for leprosy patients in central India. “Now, there is light in our homes and our lives,” says Supal Apsingh, a long-time resident of Harsh Nagar (City of Joy), a community of leprosy patients, in Sendhwa village in Khandwa diocese, Madhya Pradesh. Some 75 of 92 houses in the enclave now use solar power because of the efforts of Sr. Julia Thundathil.

“We are happy because we can now sit together and share stories and ideas for longer periods at night, which was not possible before,” Apsingh added. Another resident, Jagdish Lodhia, thanked the Church for helping them experience “the luxury of electricity in our huts.” He also said that he was touched by Church people’s concern for those rejected by others in society. The Augustinian sisters have looked after these residents since 1985. However, the community came into existence some 40 years ago when some leprosy patients began living together and sharing their earning from begging. Some Christian lay people helped develop the community before sisters came (ucanews.com).

Pakistan: Christian Centre a Refuge for Orphans

Jessinta Fernandez lost both her parents by the time she was seven. However, she was able to continue her education and is now a teacher, thanks to the Daughters of the Cross Sisters. Fernandez was one of more than 500 Catholic girls from broken families, or who had at least one deceased parent, who received care at the sisters’ Providence Home in Karachi archdiocese. The sisters and staff provide the girls with a homely environment, support their education, and in some cases, like Fernandez’s, even helped them get married. She now teaches at a Catholic school, brings gifts to the girls at the home during her monthly visits and helps to raise funds for the facility (ucanews.com).

Sri Lanka: Tamil, Sinhalese Youths strengthen Ties

A group of young Tamil Catholics have travelled to the south of the country in a bid to build better relations with Christian Sinhalese following three decades of civil war. Some 60 Tamil Catholic technical college students from Aripp in Mannar travelled 200 kilometres to Maggona in Colombo archdiocese on the four day trip to meet Sinhalese communities and youth. The May 9-12 trip of 20 girls and 40 boys was organized by Oblate priests from the Centre for Society and Religion. The youths said the trip was a chance to build harmony and rebuild a new community in Sri Lanka, especially among Christians who share a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural background.

Tamils make up 12.5% of the country’s population. “The Sinhalese community welcomed us warmly, listened to our problems and treated us like family members. It was a great opportunity for the young people to discuss problems such as ethnic discrimination,” said Fr. Marisal Gabriel Arulpragasan who accompanied the Tamils. He urged Church and civil organizations to promote more of these programs for young Sinhalese and Tamils. Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne recently said Sri Lanka plans to set up a reconciliation commission to foster ethnic unity. He said the government hoped the panel will ensure that the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils did not return to warfare (ucanews.com).

India: Sr. Rani Maria’s Martyrdom is a Blessing and a Gift

"Sr. Rani Maria was rewarded by God" and became a "martyr". This "is a gift", said Sr. Selmy Paul, Rani Maria’s sister. Sister Rani Maria was killed on 25 February 1995 in a contract killed by a farmer who did not know her. He boarded the bus on which she was travelling and stabbed her to death. Sr. Selmy is ten years younger than her sister. Her parents had five girls and two boys. Rani was the second eldest and she was the sixth. Both joined the Clarist Franciscan Congregation. Her sister took her vows in 1974; she did in 1984. "When I was brought to her coffin, seeing her dead body, I was overcome with grief and sadness. I was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and the sight of my beloved sister brought floods of tears and I began to fight with God," she said.

In 2002, the Provincial Superior and the Bishop of Indore granted Sr. Selmy permission to visit the assassin in prison. She described her experience in these words, “After all the necessary paperwork was done, I, accompanied by Swami Sachidanand, a CMI priest, travelled to Indore Jail. During the trip, I was anxious about how he would react. When the he saw me he wept and fell prostrate at my feet. Trembling and weeping, he begged for forgiveness. It was a moment of grace. At that time, I could not think; I could not even remember my sister’s dead body and her murder, nothing. God gave complete and total grace. Meeting this man, who was so repentant, was very emotional for me. I shed tears of love and forgiveness. God gave me grace so that I could forgive him from my heart, and accept him as a brother. That 21st August 2002 is forever marked in my memory: the faithfulness and tenderness of God and the joy of forgiveness."

Sr. Selmy added, "The following year, on the anniversary of her death, my mother visited Samandar Singh in prison. She too forgave him and kissed his hands, the hands ‘that made blood gush forth from my daughter and sent her to heaven.’ She welcomed him as a son, and on the next anniversary of her death, my brothers and sister too embraced him as a brother. Forgiveness is a grace. In 2007, Samandar Singh came to our ancestral home in Kerala and met my ailing father. By the grace of God, my father too welcomed him as a son. He died soon after in peace" (asianews.it)

India: Living Biblically

Studying the Bible is transforming the lives of Christians in north-east India and leading to practical action, said Fr. Thomas Manjaly, Bible professor at the Oriens Theological College, Shillong. He says, "The Bible occupies a very important place in the life of the Church in north-east India – one main reason being the large Protestant influence in the region." More than 70% of the inhabitants of Meghalaya are Christian, and according to Fr. Manjaly up to 60% of the Christians in north-east India are Protestants. "They have a developed Bible culture which has come into the Catholic communities, which is a very positive thing," he said. He went on to describe how Catholic families honour the Bible by putting it in a special place in their homes, where it becomes the centre of a quasi-shrine. Fr Manjaly described how this "enthronement" of the Bible is performed by a local community leader, a catechist, or a religious sister who visits the family (ucanews.com).

Myanmar: Teachers learn to cope in Remote Mission Posts

The hardships and challenges of working in remote mission schools was the focus of an annual refresher course for volunteer teachers in northern Myanmar recently. “Our main priority in this course is to give volunteer teachers good grounding to be able to help poor children living in remote areas where there are no government schools,” said John Lahpai Yaw Htung, a course organiser. The education commission of Myitkyina diocese has been organising annual month long refresher courses in association with the Karuna Myitkyina Social Services since 2008. This year’s course is being held at the St. Columban Minor Seminary in the compound of St. Columban’s Cathedral, Myitkyina from April 9-9 May, 2010. 31 male and 32 female volunteer teachers attended the course. The participants learnt faith formation, youth and drug issues, development concepts, teaching methods with a more child focused approach, how to deal with children and parents and general knowledge (ucanews.com).

India: ‘Church must put People Ahead of Institutions’

The Church should re-examine the way it works from a human rights perspective, says Montfort Brother Varghese Theckenath, who works among victims of sectarian violence in India. He said that the Church failed in its mission in Orissa, Eastern India, in light of the anti-Christian violence that erupted in 2008. The riots killed some 90 people and displaced more than 50,000 others, mostly Christians. He is coordinating legal aid to victims provided by some 40 lawyers, all members of the Conference of Religious India. He says that the Church must dare to speak up for human rights, be politically involved, and put people ahead of its own institutions (ucanews.com).

India: Maoist Violence ‘Challenges’ Churches on Peacemaking

A senior Indian Church official has called all churches in his country to address increasing Maoist violence, as well as the strong-arm response to it by the State. “The situation is getting worse, and more and more incidents of violence are reported. We should not remain silent spectators to this increasing violence,” said the Rev. Asir Ebenezer, acting general secretary of the National Council of Churches in India. P. Chidambaram, India’s home affairs minister, declared on 3rd April that his government had little option but to go all out against the Maoists in the wake of widespread violence. Earlier, the rebels had laid siege to a district in West Bengal state. The areas worst affected by Maoist violence include impoverished tribal regions in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal states, where the Maoist groups, who revere the Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, challenge the India’s legal system (ENI).

Indonesia: Churches stand up for Indonesian values

A Protestant leader has called on all Churches in his communion to help protect and develop Indonesia’s founding principles of a pluralistic society. The national ideology, Pancasila (five principles), enshrined in the 1945 constitution, calls for belief in one God, a just and civilized society, national unity, consensus-led democracy and justice for all. “Churches in Indonesia must take part in creating a Pancasila-based society which consistently implements the five principles for the sake of all people as well as the nation,” Rev. Andreas A. Ye-wangoe, chairman of the Communion of Protestant Churches (PGI) told about 200 Protestant pastors at a May 10 meeting in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. Churches in Indonesia must help create a civilized society by initiating efforts to build good relations with all parts of society. “A pioneering Church is one of the missions of the communion,” he said (ucanews.com).

Sri Lanka: Prime Minister and Archbishop discuss Communal Harmony

The newly appointed Sri Lankan prime minister has called on the Colombo archbishop to ask for Church support in building harmony among all communities in the country. After the April 29 meeting at the archbishop’s house, Prime Minister Disanayaka Mudiyanselage Jayaratne said that Sri Lankan society currently suffers from violence, killings and theft. He had therefore asked for the support of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith to educate people on moral values. Mudiyanselage, who is also the religious affairs minister, said he wants clergy of all religions to work together to create a disciplined society rich in moral and spiritual values. Archbishop Ranjith, who is also head of the Sri Lankan bishops’ conference, said that the Church respects the government chosen by the people in the April 8 parliamentary election. “As religious leaders, we give our support to building a just society and developing the country.”

Sri Lanka's newly appointed resettlement minister, Milroy Fernando, a Catholic told media recently the government plans to resettle all people displaced by the civil war within six months (ucanews.com).

Global: Women Religious Leaders to gather in Rome

Some 800 women religious leaders will gather in Rome to assess the lives of their communities and to recommit them in efforts to seek justice and hope in the wider world. They will gather under the auspices of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). The theme of their general assembly, which meets every few years, is an examination of the mystical and the prophetic aspects of religious life.

The UISG represents some 600,000 women religious. The assembly began on May 7 and will draw together hundreds of religious superiors, including 465 from Europe; 67 from Asia; 102 from Africa; 152 from the Americas and 15 from Oceania. The UISG is an outgrowth of the Second Vatican Council. It is a canonically approved organisation of Superior Generals of institutes of Catholic women religious and is intended to provide an international forum in which women religious leaders can share experiences, exchange information, and set directions for their work. The theme for this year’s general assembly is "drinking from the fountain that springs forth and flows…although it is night." The words are taken from the writings of St. John of the Cross.

In 2001, at the outset of the new millennium, the UISG, working through a general assembly, issued what has since been viewed as a foundational declaration, pledging religious congregations around the world to "work in solidarity with one another" in order to address "the abuse and sexual exploitation of women and children with particular attention to the trafficking of women." The 2001 declaration proclaimed "solidarity with the poorest countries" of the world and pledged to work with those nations for the cancellation of the international debt.

The international women religious group meets at a time that U.S. women religious are facing two Vatican investigations, one by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and one by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. The former congregation is involved in a three-year study, officially called an Apostolic Visitation, of U.S. religious communities; the latter is examining the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella organization that represents 95% of all the U.S. women religious congregations (ncronline.org).

India: Time for a Bigger Role for Women Religious

Holy Spirit Sister Helen Saldanha, the leader of Streevani, or the voice of women has called for women Religious to play a greater role in Church and society. She organised lawyer sisters as a forum, and encouraged them to work for the victims of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in the Kandhamal district of Orissa. Her organisation, formed in 1982, runs several other programmes for women. It also researches issues concerning women to help them in their multiple roles in the family, workplace, community and the Church. Sr. Helen, speaking on the role of women Religious in building peace, says, “We can come together in groups for those who are disturbed and tell that we women are the worst victims of any violence. Our role in building peace is to become a catalyst, to speak about and be non-violent in our approach. We can also build solidarity groups to help peace in society” (ucanews.com).

El Salvador: President apologises as World remembers Romero

For several decades Christians throughout the world have commemorated the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero as he celebrated mass during a time of bloody civil conflict that caused some 75,000 deaths in his country. This year, however, marked a major milestone as the president of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes formally apologised for the assassination of Romero, saying the cleric was a “victim of illegal violence”. After a marksman shot Romero on 24 March 1980 he became an even more revered figure, particularly among progressive church members. He was an outspoken critic of human rights abuses committed by the U. S. supported Salvadoran military. Immediately before his death, Romero had pleaded with soldiers to end their killing. Previous Salvadoran governments had not accepted the findings of a 1993 United Nations study that found that Romero’s assassination had been ordered by the late Roberto D’ Abuisson, who founded the Nationalist Republican Alliance, or Arena party. Arena ruled El Salvador from 1989 until 2009 (ENI).


India: Catholic Archbishop joins Trissur Pooram

The biggest temple festival in Kerala is a “secular celebration” for all people including Christians and Muslims, says the Catholic Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur. “This annual temple festival,” he said, “is essentially a festival for all and is secular in character.” He added: “People from all religions join to celebrate it. It binds all people. Even as a child, I used to participate in it.” The archbishop visited the temple grounds to offer his prayers for the smooth running of this year’s festival, known as Trissur Pooram (ucanews.com).

Thailand: Religious of Jesus and Mary start Presence in Thailand

Three Indian sisters of the Religious of Jesus and Mary congregation, Srs. Mark, Madeleine and Ursula, arrived in Thailand on April 26 to start a new community. Bishop Pibul Visitnonthachai of Nakhon Sawan invited them of the congregation’s Pune Province to teach English at the diocese-run St. Nicholas School in Phitsanulok and to start a community in his diocese. They are staying in a house provided by the bishop in Phitsanulok to learn Thai language in order to educate children especially girls, as per their charism. They are now present in France, India, Spain, Mexico and the United States (ucanews.com).

India: Archbishop Pennacchio appointed Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal

Abp. Salvatore Pennacchio has been appointed Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal on May 8, 2010. He succeeds Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana. He served in the Apostolic Nunciature in Panama, Ethiopia, Australia, Turkey, Egypt, Yugoslavia and Ireland. He speaks English, French and Spanish (cbcisite.com).

Iraq: Being a Priest in Iraq Today

"The Role and Identity of the Priest in Iraq Today” was the theme of a recent meeting organized by the Babel College for Philosophy and Theology, the Chaldean Seminary in Ankawa, Erbil. The seminar, which lasted for three days, was attended by 170 people including bishops, priests, and laity, as well as seminarians. Opening the sessions was Cardinal Emmanuel Delly III, Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, promoter of the initiative, who explained how the meeting intended to provide useful tools for analysis and new pastoral suggestions to Iraqi priests, during the Year for Priests proclaimed by Benedict XVI. The key issue was that of the ministerial priesthood, examined in a human, spiritual, theological, and biblical sense, and all lived within the reality of Iraq today, which has among its most pressing challenges to face: violence, forced emigration of Christians, and the critical security conditions of Christian communities (fides.org).

India: Church hails Curbs on Truth Drug-Grillings

A Church official in Kerala, South India, has welcomed the Supreme Court banning crime investigators using drugs to interrogate suspects without their consent. Church activists had deplored such investigation in 2008 when police used narco-analysis on two priests and a nun accused of murdering a nun. The court on May 5 ruled that narco-analysis, polygraph and brain mapping without consent are “unwarranted intrusion into the personal liberty of the accused” and that such methods are unconstitutional. The constitution says none should be compelled to witness against oneself and protects an individual’s choice to be silent and that drug-induced tests violate this principle. The ruling came following a batch of petitions to the court. The Church was not party to the petitions. However, the ruling has “upheld human values and saved the innocent,” said Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church (UCAN).

Myanmar: Christian Leaders in Myanmar gather to strengthen Unity

Representatives from different Christian denominations in Myanmar got together for a two-day retreat to better understand each other and help solve problems their congregations face. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) and the Myanmar Council of Churches, a grouping of Protestant Churches jointly organised the event attended by about 120 pastors, priests, bishops, layleaders and Church workers. “It's time for us to be one,” Fr. Joseph Thein Aung, Vicar General of the Lashio diocese, said. Pastor U. Kyaw Nyunt from Judson Church said that such an event helps foster close relations and solve problems not only among the Churches but also with the authorities (UCAN).

India: Church Merger aims to help Indian Christians

A historic merger of Reformed Churches scheduled in the United States will help unite major non-Catholic churches in India, says the official leading the merger. The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) will merge in June in Michigan to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). Six Indian churches–the Church of South India, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church of India, Evangelical Church of Maraland, The Church of Christ and Reformed Presbyterian Church in North East India–will be a part of the alliance (ucanews.com).

India: Water 'Evangelizes' in Drought-hit Area

A Catholic diocese in a drought-hit central Indian area has set up three kiosks to provide drinking water to passers-by, a service its bishop says helps the Church reach out to people. “We are sharing God’s gift with the needy,” Bp. Devprasad Ganawa SVD of Jhabua said about the service in tribal dominated Jhabua district. As daytime temperatures crossed 40 degrees Celsius in Madhya Pradesh state, public water sources have dried up. The state government has declared Jhabua and several other districts as drought-hit. The Church-run kiosks at the side of roads are open to all. The bishop said that the service helps the Church "reach out to more people" in the state, which has a law restricting the preaching of Christianity. "Service is more effective than preaching, and through this service people will come to know about us and our faith," he said. About 650 mostly tribal people visit the town daily for business, and many drink water from the kiosk (ucanews.com).

India: Hindus join Thousands Grieving for German Sister

Some 20,000 people, hundreds of them Hindus, joined the funeral services of a German sister, who worked for orphans in Kerala, southern India. Sister Willigard Kultz, known as the “mother of orphans,” was buried May 9 in Kannur district. The 79-year-old nun died of cancer. “Truly she was the mother of orphans. She dramatically changed the lives of poor people around her,” said Fr. Devassy Earathara, VG of Kannur diocese. Sr. Kultz once headed her Deena Sevan Sabha (servants of the poor) congregation, based in the diocese’s Pattuvam parish, after its founder Mother Petra’s death in 1975. The nun’s body, following her last wish, was buried in a cemetery where hundreds of orphan children are buried (ucanews.com).

India: Mother Teresa’s centennial

"There is enthusiasm and joy among the people of Kolkata, who are getting ready to celebrate the centennial birth of the Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity. The city in which the Blessed worked almost her entire life will host a series of initiatives to remember her and her teachings," said Eugene Gonsalves, president of the Catholic Association of Bengal. He said, "We are full of joy with the idea of celebrating the centennial of our beloved Mother as she is called." Celebrations will take place between 17 August and 13 September (asianews.it).

India: First Cathedral and Asia’s Largest Statue of Christ Unveiled in Arunachal Pradesh

Asia's biggest statue of Jesus Christ was unveiled in Miao in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh along with the opening of the first Cathedral in the state on 2nd May 2010. During the dedication ceremony, the newly erected two- storeyed Cathedral was blessed by Cardinal Toppo. About twelve thousand people from different parts of Arunachal Pradesh, besides Christians from the neighbouring states thronged to the Cathedral. The colossal statue of Jesus Christ was unveiled by the State's Finance Minister Setong Sena. The statue measures over 12 meters and stands at the forefront of the Cathedral (pkgsdb@gmail.com).

India: Priest Honoured by Maharashtra CM for curing Leprosy

Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan felicitated social activist Fr. Christudas for curing thousands of leprosy patients. He has treated over 50,000 leprosy patients in Bihar’s Sundarpur village, for which he was given the ‘The Week - Man of the Year 2009’ award in Mumbai. The Kerala-based "The Week" had selected Fr. Christudas of Bettiah diocese for its last year’s recognition. The 72-year-old priest’s Little Flower Centre is in Sunderpur village in Raxaul town on the India-Nepal border, an area known for large number of colonies for this socially segregated people (ccbi.in).


The Ex-President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s Speech in Hyderabad.

Why is the media here so negative? Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements? We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse acknowledge them--- Why?

We are the first in milk production. We are number one in Remote Sensing Satellites. We are the second largest producer of wheat. We are the second largest producer of rice. Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news. In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE?

Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign TVs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology. Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation.

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance. Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours. YOU say that our government is inefficient. YOU say that our laws are too old. YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage. YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke. The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination. YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits. YOU say, say and say.. What do YOU do about it?

Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name - YOURS. Give him a face - YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity... In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU?

YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs. 650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.' YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son. Take your two bucks and get lost.' YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand. Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ? We are still talking of the same YOU.

YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay, Mr. Tinaikar , had a point to make. 'Rich people's dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,' he said. 'And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels? In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility.

We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms. We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.

This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, and girl child! And others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? 'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.' So who's going to change the system? What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbour’s, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU.

When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr. Clean to come along and work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away. Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Past is Experience, Present is Experiments and Future is Expectations! Use your Experience in your Experiments to achieve your Expectations!! Thank you, Dr. Abdul Kalaam (cher_thom@hotmail.com).


‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ by Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman is a card carrying atheist and when an atheist takes upon the task of writing on faith related issues it raises legitimate suspicion. And this is the first disconnect that a reader will notice in ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’. Ever since Dan Brown’s ‘Da Vinci Code’ became a runaway success, authors with appetite for making a fast buck haven’t left any opportunity to write fiction on real historical persons or institutions.

‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’, is not only categorised genre of fiction but the back cover of the book has ‘This is a Story’ written on it in large letters. The misleading part of the book is that while it is fiction it is based entirely on the authentic Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, who across 20 centuries has had billions of followers. One is therefore not surprised that Pullman has been receiving hate mails from Christians around the world.

That the book is not based on any historical facts is proved right on page 12 when Pullman employing his imagination lets the mother of Jesus, Mary, have twins - Jesus and Christ. According to Pullman Christ in Greek means ‘messiah’. That is inaccurate. Christ comes from the Greek word ‘Khristos’ which means ‘the anointed one’ and is the title given to Jesus - as in Jesus the Christ - and is actually the translation of the Hebrew word ‘messiah’.

Pullman paints Christ as a schemer and manipulator who was entrusted the job of keeping a record of what Jesus spoke and did, including the miracles, by a stranger, introduced by Pullman on Page 57. Till the end of the book, though, he neither assigns the stranger a name nor reveals his identity. Both Christ and the reader are kept in suspense about this stranger.

What Pullman inadvertently reveals to the reader is that the one really manipulating the written, and according to the Christian faith, inspired texts by the four evangelists who had the experience of living with Jesus, is he himself. Pullman projects into the characters of the twin brother ‘Christ’ and ‘the stranger’, his own prejudices against the hierarchical structure of the Church. He makes those working for the poor and the oppressed appear as misled by the crooked designs of Christ and ‘the Stranger’ who wanted to use Jesus’ name for their own purpose.

During the whole course of the book Pullman keeps oscillating between the real texts of the Gospels and his imagination, a technique successfully employed earlier by Dan Brown which, unless the reader is well versed with the scriptures or history, is designed to mislead the unsuspecting readers.

Pullman indicates he is interested in retrieving truth out of history and mentions it often as in page 99, “There is time, and there is what is beyond time. History belongs to time but truth belongs to what is beyond time. In writing of things as they should have been, you are letting truth into history”. He keeps reverting to the idea of history and truth. Pullman should have perhaps used ideas from German philosophers Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamar (who floated the idea of ‘fusion of horizons’), the Frenchman Paul Ricœurand others on hermeneutics, if he really was interested in extricating truth from history.

Pullman should have either stuck to writing fiction without using real historical persons as mentioned in the Bible or he should have been faithful to the texts of the Gospels. After all hundreds of thousands of researched books and articles have been written on Jesus Christ and Christianity, often differing from one another but then they stick to one genre.

Apart from inserting his own interpretations of events from the life of Jesus into the narrative, he goes to the ridiculous extent of making Christ the one who betrayed Jesus into the hands of the enemy - a role assigned to Judas in the Gospels. On the positive side one must admit that Pullman is a good fiction writer. The one part which reads well in the book is the monologue that Pullman imagines Jesus has with God in the Garden before he is arrested and taken for trial.

In these times when the publishing industry hasn’t entirely shaken off the lingering legacy of recession, Penguin has grabbed an opportunity to make money through Pullman’s fiction. This is clear not only from the cover page design but also from the layout, which seems to have been designed only to add extra pages. The actual text could have been easily contained in 150 pages. Well, authors and publishers- and not just the IPL- have a right to make a fast buck even if the means used are what the writer might be criticising in others (Reviewed by Fr. Dominic Emmanuel SVD: cibdelhi@gmail.com)


Daughrity, Dyron B.: The Changing World of Christianity: The Global History of a Borderless Religion, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2010, pp. 290. ISBN 978-1-4331-0452-7 (pbk) (available at Amazon.com for USD $25.16, or Rs. 1120/-).

Christianity has changed. Formerly it was known as the religion of Europe and North America. It is now a religion of the Global South: Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, Christianity has never been merely a Western phenomenon—it has always been a borderless religion. Indeed, in six of the world’s eight cultural blocks, Christianity is the largest faith. With convenient maps, helpful statistics, and concise histories of each of the world’s major cultural blocks. This book is a dynamic guide for understanding Christianity’s new ethos, which provides a clear and encyclopaedic look at Christianity.

Pushparajan, A. and X. D. Selvaraj: Laity in the Church. Identity and Mission in India Today, Bangalore: Indian Theological Association (www.itanet.in), 2010, pp.244. ISBN 81-7086-544-1 (pbk) Rs. 190/-

The three revolutionary windows of the Second Vatican Council are ‘Dialogue with Word’, ‘Dialogue with the Religions of the World’ and ‘Dialogue with Laity’. The sensus fidelium (sense of faith) as the Fathers of the Church figured out is the core and crux of “People of God”. This discernment of the Council brought the laity right into the mainstream of the Church and its mission; thus the laity is ennobled in its identity and mission. Hence, the laity is the promise right in the hub of the world that God’s saving action is experienced and celebrated. This volume looks deep into the theological basis, the spirituality, and the missional witness of the laity in the present world of media, market, and knowledge and of wide range of concerns of ecology, poverty, violence, human rights, women empowerment and social justice.

Parappally, J. and Kalliath, A.: Theology of Economics in the Globalised World. Indian Approaches, Bangalore: Indian Theological Association (www.itanet.in), 2010, pp. 250. ISBN 81-7086-546-8 (pbk) Rs.190/-

For centuries, the Church’s God-talk remained almost dissociated from socio-cultural and economic realities of the world, especially the suffering of the poor. In the present Globalised Neo-liberal world the dynamic of oppressive economics is invincible, invisible and labyrinthine and is foraying into every layer of life unaware, be it politics, culture, religion, gender justice, human rights or ecology. We need new hermeneutics and innovative praxes to take on the onslaught of the ‘Market’ which breeds on greed. ITA 2009 analysed and critiqued the market values and neo-liberal economics in the light of the Gospel options and priorities, and called for a Christian life which is responsive and responsible to the exploitation of the people at the margins, and thus to make our faith intelligible, prophetic, creative and credible.



Dr. Joy Thomas, SVD (Director)

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