Justice Kolse Patil and The CSF questions Anna’s secular, casteist & class credentials

December 27, 2011 by  
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Justice Kolse Patil

Justice Kolse Patil

Mumbai, December 27, 2011: What is his take on BJP, Modi, Yeddyurappa, Nitish Kumar, Minorities, Backwards…
Hazare must clarify why he is only targetting Congress, Sonia & Rahul Gandhi. The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF) calls upon Anna Hazare to clarify his stand on the various criticisms levied against him and his team members, besides urging him to keep religion out his campaign. The latest allegations being that of Anna was secretary with Hindutva idealogue, Nanaji Deshmukh and that the saffron brigade was behind the success of his campaign. These charges coming after the alleged improprieties against Kiran Bedi and Arun Kejriwal have dented his credibility, especially since Anna Hazare is on record to having said that he had no links with the RSS or the Sangh Parivar, while they claimed repeatedly to have backed him. “We are completely in favour of an corruption free India, but this is no means to achieve it. Rather what initially seemed to be a noble objective, is now suspected to have political motives and working towards the detriment of the cause. A half-baked and rushed Lokpal bill, just to meet Anna Hazare’s deadline is no panacea to the evil of corruption, which will not disappear, the day the bill is passed. The Parliament must be allowed to freely debate the bill and its supremacy must not be diluted”, said Joseph Dias, the CSF general secretary. “It is also necessary that Anna Hazare clears himself of various accusations, such as that besides being an RSS agent in 1983, he was also an “Army deserter” since the 1965 war between India and Pakistan”, Dias added.
 
Why is Anna silent on these issues?

The CSF demands to know what is Anna Hazare’s stand on Hindutva and parties like the BJP, who use people like Sadhvi Rithambara, Colonel Purohit, Ramdev Baba, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, to consolidate Hindu votes against the minorities? “For us communalism is equally important, along with other issues like Irom Sharmila’s fast, about which Anna Hazare has said nothing about. Besides, he has praised Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar, while not demonstrating against attacks on minorities in BJP ruled states like Gujarat or corrupt former CM, Yeddyurappa’s Karnataka (also famed for corruption) or on the BIADA land scam of the Nitish Government in Bihar that led to the Forbesganj firing. The protest itself portrays has Anna Hazare as a demi-god and should anything untoward happen to him, anarchy would rule, which is perhaps what the opposition wants and the people need to guard against. Parliament has been rendered impotent, as extra-constitutional forces take control. There is no space for non-Anna protestors against corruption and such absolute power can corrupt absolutely”, said Joseph Dias.
 
Justice Kolse Patil, former judge of the Bombay High Court in a message to The CSF says that “the country is being destabilised by communal, casteist and class forces, which have been active since the Mahavir and Gautam Buddha period. As they only were the literate in the country, their work was suppressed and destroyed. The low castes and poor were exploited. Now these very brahminical and capitalist forces want to destroy the Constitution  under the pretext of the movement against corruption. How much does Anna Hazare know is the issue? And who is to prevent the Lokpal from being corrupt? We don’t even spare our Gods from being corrupted. We need to protect our new generations from such forces, inimical to the country”.
 
A search on the internet points out that a cardiologist from Pune, Abhijit Vaidya, a founder of Arogya Sena, a non-governmental agency active in public health, disaster management and social campaigns – claimed that he was informed by the close associates of Anna Hazare during a fast in Ralegan-Siddhi, that he was given glucose and electrolyte solutions during a fast. Hazare and his associates refused to comment on the allegation. The government of Maharashtra instituted a Commission of Inquiry under Justice PB Sawant in September 2003 to enquire into allegations of corruption against several people, including four ministers in the state as well as the “Hind Swaraj Trust” headed by Hazare. The Commission submitted its report on 22 February 2005 in which it indicted the Hind Swaraj Trust for corrupt practice of spending Rs. 2.20 lakhs of its funds on the birthday celebrations of Hazare.

Let us think today about all the Christians who give their life for their faith, says pope

December 27, 2011 by  
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BeslanVatican City, December 26, 2011: “Let us think about all the Christians persecuted in the world who give their life for their faith. The pope does not forget. May God fill them with courage and strength; may the Virgin Mary support them.” In the day the Catholic Church remembers Saint Stephen, the “perfect martyr” and a “man of prayer and evangelisation”, a day after attacks in Nigeria cost the lives of at least 39 people, Benedict XVI dedicated an Angelus to the martyrs, mixing past and present.

“Innocent blood” was spilled again on Christmas day, a day that “elicits in us, even more strongly, a prayer to God to stop violence and death and bring about justice and peace.”

“It is with deep sadness that I heard the news about the attacks on the day of Jesus’ birthday,” the pope said after the Marian prayer, “which have brought grief and sorrow to some Nigerian churches. I wish to express my sincere and warm sympathy to Christians and all those hit by this absurd act. I urge everyone to pray to the Lord on behalf of the many victims. I appeal to every group to help re-establish security and calm. Let me repeat here and now, violence leads only to pain, destruction and death. Respect, reconciliation and love are the way to achieve peace.”

As Benedict XVI’s thoughts focused on the martyrs, he remembered the first martyr, Saint Steven, and all those “who even today in various parts of the world bear witness to the faith amid persecution”. After the Angelus, he greeted in French, English, German, Spanish and Polish the 20,000-strong crowd that had gathered in Saint Peter’s Square.

Before the Marian prayer, the pope had also mentioned the first martyr, and all the deacons involved in evangelisation. Quoting from the Acts of the Apostles, he said, “Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people (6:8).”

Speaking about Saint Stephen, “Saint Gregory of Nyssa said, “He was an honest man and full of spirit. A good soul, he fed the poor and silenced the enemies of truth with the liberty of his words and the strength of the Holy Spirit (Sermo in Sanctum Stephanum II: GNO X, 1, Leiden 1990, 98). A man of prayer and evangelisation, Stephen, whose name means ‘crown’, received the gift of martyrdom from God.”

“As in ancient times, adhering with sincerity to the Gospel today may require sacrificing one’s life,” the pope said. “’Many Christians around the world are exposed to persecution and sometimes to martyrdom. However, the Lord reminds us that “whoever endures to the end will be saved (Mt, 10:22). Holy Mary, Queen of martyrs, our plea goes to you to preserve goodwill, especially towards those who hinder us. Especially, let us place the deacons of the Church in the hands of divine mercy, so that they ‘feel themselves called to cooperate, in accordance with their specific mission, in this task of evangelization’ (cfr Exhort. ap. postsin. Verbum Domini, 94).”

Nigeria leaders rapped after Islamists attack churches

December 27, 2011 by  
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Nigeria LeadersNigeria, December 26, 2011: Nigeria lacks competent leaders to tackle its security problems, a former military ruler said on Monday, following Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches by Islamist militants that killed more than two dozen people.

Muhammadu Buhari, a northerner who lost the last presidential election in April to incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, said in a statement in a Nigerian daily that the government was slow to respond and had shown indifference to the bombings.

The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across Africa’s most populous country, claimed responsibility for three church bombings, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian houses of worship.

Security forces also blamed the sect for two explosions in the north and fear is growing that Boko Haram is trying to ignite a sectarian civil war in a country split evenly between Christians and Muslims who for the most part co-exist in peace.

“How on earth would the Vatican and the British authorities speak before the Nigerian government on attacks within Nigeria that have led to the deaths of our citizens?” Buhari said in the statement published by Punch newspaper.

“This is clearly a failure of leadership at a time the government needs to assure the people of the capacity to guarantee the safety of lives and property,” Buhari said.

He said the government needed to do more than spend more on security to deal with the problem.

Jonathan, a Christian from the south who is struggling to contain the threat of Islamist militancy, called the attacks “unfortunate” but said Boko Haram would “not be (around) forever. It will end one day.”

Pope Benedict on Monday condemned the attacks as an “absurd gesture” and prayed that “the hands of the violent be stopped.”

The pope, speaking from his window overlooking St Peter’s Square in Rome, said such violence brought only pain, destruction and death.

Coordinated Attacks

The attacks, which came a few days after clashes between security forces and Boko Haram killed at least 68 people, show evidence of increasing coordination and strategy by the group that could ring alarm bells in Nigeria and Western capitals.

St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madala, a satellite town about 40 km (25 miles) from the centre of the capital Abuja, was packed when the first blast exploded just outside after Christmas mass.

A few hours later, blasts were reported at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church in the central, ethnically and religiously mixed town of Jos, and at a church in Gadaka in the northern state of Yobe. Residents said many were wounded in Gadaka, but there were no immediate further details.

A suicide bomber killed four officials at the State Security Service in one of the other attacks in the northeastern town of Damaturu, police said. Residents heard two loud explosions and gunfire in the town.

A Reuters reporter at the church near Abuja saw the front roof had been destroyed, as had several houses nearby. Five burnt out cars were still smoldering. There were scenes of chaos, as shocked residents stared at the wreckage in disbelief.

“Mass just ended and people were rushing out of the church and suddenly I heard a loud sound: ‘Gbam!’ Cars were in flames and bodies littered everywhere,” Nnana Nwachukwu told Reuters.

Father Christopher Barde, Assistant priest of the church, said: “The officials who counted told me they have picked up 27 bodies so far.” Police cordoned off the area around the church. Thousands of furious youths set up burning road blocks on the highway from Abuja leading to Nigeria’s largely Muslim north.

Police and the military tried to disperse them by firing live rounds into the air with tear gas.

“We are so angry!” shouted Kingsley Ukpabi, as a queue of hooting vehicles lined up behind his flaming barrage.

Violence Spreads

Boko Haram – which in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria means “Western education is sinful” – is loosely modeled on the Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

Its low level insurgency used to be largely confined to northeastern Nigeria, but it has struck several parts of the north, centre and Abuja this year.

Last Christmas Eve, a series of bomb blasts around Jos killed 32 people, and other people died in attacks on two churches in the northeast.

At the church near Abuja, a wounded man whose legs were almost shattered to pieces by the blast was loaded onto a stretcher near an ambulance by security services.

“I’ll survive,” he said in a hushed voice.

The blast in Jos, a tinderbox of ethnic and sectarian tensions where deadly clashes between Muslims and Christians have occurred, was accompanied by a shooting spree by militants, who exchanged fire with local police, said Charles Ezeocha, special task force spokesman for Jos.

“We lost one policeman and we have made four arrests. I think we can use them to get more information and work on that,” he said. Police found four other explosive devices in Jos, which they deactivated, he added.

The White House condemned “this senseless violence and tragic loss of life on Christmas Day.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attacks and expressed his condolences “to the people of Nigeria and to the bereaved families.”

“The Secretary-General calls once again for an end to all acts of sectarian violence in the country and reiterates his firm conviction that no objective sought can justify this resort to violence,” a statement released by his office said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Lagos, Tife Owolabi and Buhari Bello in Jos, Mike Oboh in Kano, a correspondent in Maiduguri and Philip Pullella in Vatican City; Writing by Tim Cocks andBate Felix; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

– reuters

Newspaper evangelism makes inroads for hope in Nepal

December 27, 2011 by  
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AMG NepalNepal, December 13, 2011: Christians are approximately four percent of the population. 

Recent upheaval in the country has been disruptive for ministries, especially in light of changed penal codes, and failed efforts to draft a new Constitution.

However, AMG International has found one way to present the hope of truth to people, in spite of what chaos might be wreaking havoc in Nepal: Newspaper evangelism.

This method is particularly effective in predominantly Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries. A newspaper enters many homes where Christians might never be allowed to enter. By placing Gospel messages as paid advertisements in local newspapers around the world, the ministry can give the good news of the Gospel to hundreds of thousands of people who may have no other opportunity to learn about Christ.

In other countries, where such ads would not be allowed, AMG often places a more general message such as: “Would you like to know real peace?” or “Are you lonely? Let us tell you about a friend who will never leave you.”

To those who respond to the ads, AMG’s team sends a Bible and Bible correspondence courses. They also encourage respondents to begin attending church and to continue to study the Bible.

AMG’s ad appeared in a magazine with a circulation of 45,000 copies. There were 775 responses over a seven-month period, and through the correspondence and follow up, 233 people made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. More than half of those are now engaged in further Bible study.

People are the same everywhere. They all occasionally suffer from loneliness, anger, fear, and grief. In countries where the love of Christ is not known, these hurting people need a friend who will guide them to Christ and comfort them and give eternal hope. This is the goal of newspaper evangelism and the follow-up ministry.

– mnn

Kalyan diocese Pune carol singers attacked brutally

December 27, 2011 by  
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Pune Carol SingersPune, December 17, 2011: An eparchy of Kalyan Syrian rite parish in Pune had its Carol singing group attacked on 17 December, 2011 as they moved from house to house. A complaint was registered with the Hadapsar police station in the area. The carol singing group was attacked and inhumanly beaten up by a small group of youngsters. The attackers used hockey sticks and cricket bats. They pushed them on ground and kicked them brutally on chest, stomach and other parts of the body. They broke the hands of two of parishners, who had to be operated in the hospital. There was a possibility of even murder, if the other members of the group had not blocked the attackers. In spite of continued pleas from the women and children in the group, the attackers did not heed, but only threatened them. The Christians now pray that the attackers are treated strictly according to the provisions of the law, so that such instances are not repeated in the future. We forgive the attackers but condemn such actions, which causes untold misery for the victims and also vitiates the atmosphere and social fabric, which needs to be dealt with effectively.

– fr. francis eluvathingal

Muslims get OBC quota & dissatisfied. CSF asks – Anyone bothered about Indian Christians? *Parties divided over minority quota

December 27, 2011 by  
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Muslim Groups TermNew Delhi, December 23, 2011: Muslim groups term 4.5% sub- quota for minorities, a “joke” and “completely insufficient” It’s not only the Left and Samajwadi parties, which have criticized the quota of 4.5 % within the existing OBC quota of 27% , on the pretext of it being “most inadequate” and “tokenism,” even the Muslim civil society organizations, are less than impressed by the latest move of the Congress led UPA government. organisations like Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, All India Ulema Mashaikh Board (AIUMB) and All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, have strongly criticized the 4.5% quota within quota for all minorities, terming it as “joke” and cheating. They repeatedly called for at least 10 % reservation for Muslims as per recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Commission.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday evening cleared the proposal to carve out a sub-quota within the OBC quota. The move, which comes ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, will pave the way for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions for minorities as defined in section 2 (C) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.

Its important to mention here that initially the minority affairs ministry had proposed 8.4% sub-quota, including 6% for Muslims as per formulated by the Ranganath Mishra Commission. It was rejected by the Cabinet which cut it down to 4.5% on the lines of Mandal commission. The sub-quota will be notified by an executive order effective from January 1, 2012. All minorities included in the central list of OBCs will get reservation under this sub-quota.

“This is nothing and a complete cheating. It’s an election stunt which the electorate will certainly see through.” This was how Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan, working President of the All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat (AIMMM) reacted to the 4.5% quota for minorities. Referring to the Sachar and Ranganath Mishra Committees, Dr. Khan argued that these were the commissions appointed by the UPA only, which highlighted the acute backwardness of the Muslim community and had also recommended at least 10% reservation for Muslims.

After the recommendations of those commissions, the step to give just 4.5% reservation to all minorities, was a sham and not a sincere gesture by the Congress led UPA, added the working president of Mushawarat, which is an umbrella body of several Muslim organisations and sects including Shias, Sunnis and Barelwis.

Jamat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), another organization with an intellectual clout among Indian Muslims termed 4.5% quota within quota as “nothing more than a joke and an election stunt.” Like (AIMMM), JIH also demanded at least 10% reservation for Muslims.

The latest quota within quota of 4.5% is mainly targeted at wooing the two dozen castes belonging to Muslim community. Muslims form 18% of the state’s 200 million people and hold the key in nearly a fifth of its assembly constituencies. Importantly 21 of the 90 minority concentration districts come from the prominent state of the Hindi heartland.

Muslims comprise over 13% of India’s billion-strong population, but as highlighted by the Sachar Committee, they are under-represented in government jobs, bureaucracy and the police. A third of the population also lives below the poverty line.

The Congress party in its 2009 election manifesto had promised reservation to backward Muslims. Several Indian states including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar among others, have already implemented similar quotas for minorities.

Another reason why Muslim groups have criticized this sub-quota of 4.5%, is because around 35 Other Backward Castes from Muslim community, already manage to get around 2-3% reservation under the overall 27% quota for the OBCs. So if the UPA government has clubbed the minority community with other relatively well off minority communities like Sikhs, Parsis and Christians, it hasn’t done any good to the Muslims. In fact one view among Muslim intellectual is that after the 4.5% sub-quota, Muslims will have to compete with much developed communities and that too within the limited sub-quota of 4.5% only.

Dr. Ayub of Peace Party who pursue backward politics and has backward communities as his vote bank in Eastern UP, was quick to suspend Congress’ attempts to woo backward Muslim votes as “nothing more than a political joke” and an “election stunt.” Talking to TwoCircles.net Ayub said that, ” Muslim electorate are not fools and they will soon see through the manipulative intention of this 4.5% which is just a pittance and won’t be of any good to them.”

On the positive side, politicians like Asaduddin Owaisi of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, who cautiously welcomed this move, point to the fact that earlier Muslim OBCs had to fight with more than hundred OBCs for their share in 27%; whereas now they have got 4.5% in which Muslims will be competing with just 2-3 communities.

The demand of Muslim political players, like Owaisi and Dr. Ayub, who either criticized or appreciated the sub-quota, was that just 4.5% wont do any good for the socio-economic backwardness of Muslims. If at all the UPA government is serious, it has to include the Muslim converts from Scheduled Caste origins into the SC list, which will enable them to get not only socio-economic privileges but political reservation as well.

All India Ulema Mashaikh Board (AIUMB), an organisation of Barelwi Muslims with a sizeable numbers of followers in Uttar Pradesh, rejected the 4.5% reservation for minorities, saying the community need what the Ranganath Mishra Commission recommended- at least 10% of reservation. Babar Ashraf of the AIUMB told TwoCircles.net that the quota within quota for all minorities, will backfire the Congress party, if it considered the Muslim community a “fool.”

Contrary to most of the Muslim groups, Dr. Manzoor Alam, General Secretary of Milli Council, was a bit restrained in castigating the UPA, saying that even though the Muslims were shocked at just 4.5% sub-quota for minorities, they hoped that this will be the first step of the much larger reservation for Muslims in future. Prominent steps which Dr. Alam wanted the UPA to take, were deletion of the 1950 presidential order which bars Muslim converts belonging to the Scheduled Caste community from getting SC status and at least 10% reservation for Muslims as recommended by the Ranganath Mishra Commission.

“If the UPA doesn’t take these two very important steps, Muslims will regard just 4.5% quota within quota as an election stunt,” Dr. Alam finally added.

– tcn

Parties divided over minority quota

 

Naqvi Mukthar AbbaNew Delhi, December 23, 2011: The Congress and Lok Janshakti Party Friday welcomed the government’s decision for a 4.5 percent reservation for minorities, but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dubbed it as a poll stunt and the Communist Party of India of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Samajwadi Party termed the measure inadequate.

The quota decision, taken at a cabinet meeting Thursday, has been hailed by Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh as fulfillment of an election promise.

The party, which is making a detemined effort to unseat the Mayawati government in the state, is expected to highlight the quota decision to woo the Muslims during its campaign for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in Uttar Pradesh, supported the minorities quota decision and rejected the opposition’s allegation that it was a poll stunt.

He said reservation was otherwise not proving beneficial for minorities.

“They have been given a fixed quota so that the backward Muslims will get 4.5 percent out of the 27 percent reserved for backward castes. Earlier, they were left out of the benefits of quota…It was a poll promise which we have fulfilled,” Singh said.

The BJP dubbed the move as a pre-poll stunt and said the party rejected the idea of religion-based reservation.

“There is a decision for a quota within quota, which is wrong,” BJP leader Ananth Kumar told reporters.

“We are against a religion-based quota. The backward castes should get social justice and such religion based quota in not right for social equality,” he said.

Another BJP leader, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the move would divide people on basis of caste and religion.

“This step is a cheating with our constitution. The kind of step this government has taken, they want to cause a civil war in the country in the name of caste and religion,” Naqvi said.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav termed the government’s move “a betrayal” and demanded that reservation should be given in accordance with population of Muslims in the state.

“It is betrayal. It should be 18 percent,” Yadav said, while also indicating that OBC reservation should be increased.

CPI-M leader Prakash Karat said the decision of the cabinet to provide 4.5 per cent reservation for minorities within the OBC quota was inadequate.

He said the decision would not yield any major benefits to minority communities.

“It is inadequate. The Ranganath Mishra Commission report had recommended 10 percent reservation for Muslims and 5 percent for other minorities based on the socially and economically backward criteria,” he said.

LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, however, welcomed the decision.

“It is not appeasement. It should have been done earlier. Even if it has been done in view of elections (in Uttar Pradesh), it is good. We should welcome it,” he said.

– thaindian

‘A true religion can’t be sectarian or divisive’

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Bishop ThomasPune, December 25, 2011: Bishop Thomas Dabre, who took over the reigns of the 125-year-old Pune Diocese two-and-a-half years ago, is an exponent of inter-religious dialogue. He completed his doctorate on ‘The God experience of Tukaram’ and taught at the city-based Jnana Deep Vidyapeeth for many years, till he was appointed as an auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai in 1990. As the head of the Pune Diocese, he symbolically leads various social service centres run by the Catholic Church in Pune, Satara, Solapur and Sangli districts, and Kolhapur city.  He spoke to Camil Parkhe about the need for communal harmony in the backdrop of Christmas.

What have been your priorities after taking over as Pune Bishop?

We feel that faith must flow into service and therefore, we have tried to increase our network of schools and colleges. Our diocese will soon open a new English school in Miraj and some new school buildings have also been planned. There are a sizeable number of educational institutions run by the Church in the city and district. The Church’s schools educate children belonging to all faiths; in fact, a majority of the students in our schools are non-Christians. We try to provide quality education and also imbibe moral and spiritual values among children. These schools also ensure that there is no discrimination among students. Society has indeed appreciated the role of the Church’s educational institutions.

How were you drawn to the issue of inter-faith dialogue and harmony?

My mother-tongue is Marathi and I was brought up in Vasai, in a locality that had a majority of non-Christian families. I was influenced by their lifestyle, social and religious traditions. I feel we should work towards communal harmony and peace, and it should be our top priority. Recently, the Diocese had invited a high-powered Vatican delegate to the city for a three-day inter-faith meet, attended by well-known representatives of Hinduism and other religions. Harmony among the people of various religions is required to ensure prevalence of equality, justice and peace in society. We believe that the unity and integrity of our nation depends on inter-religious and communal harmony. All our achievements and fruits of prosperity will be  reduced to ashes if there is no communal peace.

As a priest, I feel that Jesus Christ is not for Christians alone; he wants to work for the benefit of all religious communities. That is why all our educational, social, medical and charitable activities are open to members of all religions. A true religion cannot be sectarian and divisive; it is universal and that is why we have to be very serious about inter-religious harmony.

What is the role of the Indian Catholic Church in the world church?

The Indian Catholic Church is playing a significant role in the universal Catholic Church. Many Indian clergymen and nuns occupy vital positions in the church hierarchy and some of them even hold the highest posts, like the superior general or mother general of their respective religious congregations. For example, Fr Sebastian Vazhakala, the father general and co-founder along with Mother Teresa, of the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative Brothers, is based at the organisation’s headquarters in Rome. There are many Indian priests and nuns working in the USA, Europe and other parts of the world. In the past, India used to receive a large number of missionaries from European countries and now there is a reverse trend as Indian priests and nuns belonging to various congregations are called to serve in different parts of the world.

Tell us something about your recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI?

It is mandatory  for all Catholic Bishops to meet the Pope individually and in groups once in five years. It is called an ad limina visit. There are 175 Bishops in India and the group-wise visits to the Vatican were arranged this year. I was among a group of 35 Bishops who met Pope Benedict XVI in September. The pontiff addressed us in a group and later also met us individually. During the individual  meeting, we present a report on various activities of our respective Diocese to the Pope, who is the the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Thus, the ad limina visit helps the Pope to meet each and every head of the Diocese in any corner of the world and know their issues and problems. Our meeting with the Pope – group and individual sessions – lasted nearly two hours. The Pope has appreciated the Indian Church’s work, especially in the field of education. This was my first interaction with Pope Benedict since he took over the reigns in April 2005, although I had two ad limina sessions with Pope John II .

What are your impressions of the two pontiffs?

I found Pope John Paul II a very contemplative person. In his later years, he liked to listen to the views of those he was meeting and spoke little. Pope Benedict is scholarly and very articulate in expressing his views. With a long administrative experience as a Vatican official, he knows the issues of the churches all over the world.

– camil parkhe, sakal times

Christians by numbers around the world

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The Pew ForumRome, December 23, 2011: Christians account for almost a third of the world’s population. This was one of the findings in a report published Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The data from the 2010 survey of more than 200 countries found that worldwide, there are 2.18 billion Christians, nearly a third of the estimated global population at that time of 6.9 billion.

The report looked at what has changed in the past century. Since 1910 the number of Christians nearly quadrupled, from about 600 million to more than 2 billion. In that time, however, world population rose sharply, from around 1.8 billion in 1910 to 6.9 billion. So, the percentage of Christians dipped a bit, going from 35% to 32%.

Christians, nevertheless, remain the world’s largest religious group. Muslims, according to previous studies by the Pew group, account for a bit under a quarter of the world’s population.

The survey found that almost half, 48%, of Christians live in the 10 countries with the largest number of Christians. Three of the top 10 countries are in the Americas — the United States, Brazil and Mexico. Two are in Europe — Russia and Germany. Two are in the Asia-Pacific region — the Philippines and China. And three are in sub-Saharan Africa — Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.

In spite of so many being in a small number of countries, Christians are still a majority of the population in 158 countries and territories, about two-thirds of all the countries and territories in the world.

Distribution shift

The spread of countries reflects a major shift in where Christians are to be found. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe. A century later only 26% of Christians live in Europe. More than a third are now found in the Americas, 37%. While just under a quarter, 24%, live in sub-Saharan Africa. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 13%.

Taking Europe and the Americas together these two still make up a majority of Christians, with 63%. That is, however, a notable decline from the 1910 level of 93%. In both regions the numbers of Christians have dropped. In 1910, 95% of Europe’s population was Christian, but by 2010 it was only 76%. In the Americas over the same period it went from 96% to 86%.

This decline contrasts with the dramatic change in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1910 only 9% were Christians, but a century later the Christian faith had exploded, making up 63% of the population.

While the overall numbers in Asia and the Pacific are still low, the percentage more than doubled, from 3% to 7%.

The Middle East and North Africa are the regions with the lowest number of Christians. They account for only about 4% of the population, or around 13 million people.

In fact, the report pointed out, there are more Christians in Indonesia, which has a Muslim majority, than there are in all the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

And the changes in Africa mean that Nigeria now has more than twice as many Protestants as Germany, where the Protestant Reformation originated.

Church groups

There are 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide, according to the report. This means they account for half of the global Christian population.

Brazil is the country with the largest number of Catholics, at 134 million. This means there are more Catholics in Brazil than in Italy, France and Spain combined.

Catholics are a majority of the population in 67 countries. The Americas accounts for 48% of the global number, with almost 40% in Latin America alone. Europe comes second with 24% of the world’s Catholics, while sub-Saharan Africa makes up 16% and the Asia-Pacific region has 12%.

The broad definition of Protestants the report uses means they number 801 million worldwide, or 37% of the global Christian population. Protestants form a majority of the total population in 49 countries.

Despite the European origins of the Protestant churches the survey found that only two of the 10 countries with the largest Protestant populations are European.

The country with the largest number of Protestants is the United States, with about 160 million, making up 20% of the worldwide total. Nigeria comes second, with nearly 60 million Protestants, and China is in third place with approximately 58 million.

China, in fact, has the world’s seventh-largest Christian population, which the report estimated at 67 million. The report acknowledged the difficulty of obtaining reliable data on religion in China, but according to its results, in Asia only the Philippines, with 87 million, has more Christians.

There are about 260 million Orthodox Christians, the study found, which accounts for 12% of the global Christian population.

Russia is home to the largest group of Orthodox with 39% of them. Ethiopia has the second-largest population, 13.4% of the global number. While Constantinople is the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Turkey’s Orthodox population is small, at about 180,000. Despite Ethiopia’s large numbers Europe remains the center of Orthodox Christianity, with 77% of the global numbers.

The report gives a more precise idea of what observers have been commenting on in recent years regarding the shift of Christianity to the Global South. The rapid growth of Christians in Africa and China will likely continue, with significant implications for Christianity.

– zenith

Christians Assaulted and Arrested in Karnataka *Fear grips Kandhamal – 4th Tense Christmas as Christians forced by strike call *Pastor and believers arrested in Madhya Pradesh

December 26, 2011 by  
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KandhamalKarnataka, December 26, 2011: On Christmas day, while Christians across the world were celebrating the Christmas, in Suratkal, Mangalore, a believer invited some 20 – 25 Hindu friends to his house for Christmas dinner. FCCO informs that it learnt, some anti Christian, Hindu fundamentalists attacked them with knife, swords, etc. In the attack one person broke his backbone and one was severely beaten, necessitating hospitalisation.

Earlier, ten Christians, including six women were arrested on Friday evening, 16 December, 2011 in Jalahalli, a village in Bhadravathi, Shimoga District of Karnataka after they were falsely accused of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. The group of believers were repeatedly invited to have a prayer meeting in a new convert Venkatesh’s home, and while at the prayer meeting, they were attacked by a mob allegedly belonging to the Hindu fundamentalists groups, who threatened them and also injured some of the believers.
 
The Christian have been identified as Pastor Sagar Guntur, elders Prabhudas, Solomon Babu, Alwyn and Salomi, Deborah and Jaya. One Christian identified as George was declared as absconding by the police. The lawyers for the Christians informed that the Christians were taken into police custody and eight Christians were later released on bail.

– efi
 

Fear grips Kandhamal – 4th Tense Christmas as Christians forced by strike call

 

Kandhmal, December 26, 2011: Many Kandhmal Christians those who work within and outside the district did not prefer to go home for Christmas as the Sangh Parivar outfits were allowed a rally and bandh on 26th of December 2011. Fearing that they  would not make it back to their offices on 26th December, as they would be caught in the bandh strike, they opted for no celebration of Christmas for yet another year. Secondly, most of the Christians do not own transport – four wheelers or two wheelers. Parivar fundamentalists ensured over time, that the personal transport of most Christians,  were burnt down or dismantled and parts were taken. Thus during the strike-bandh, with no government/public transport buses also not plying, Christians were left with not alternative but, depend on local private transportation. This too was not an option as almost all such transport is owned by those who affiliated or who yield to the dictates of Sangh Parivar. The fundamentalists sent notices to these owners not to operate in Kandhamal on the days coinciding with Christmas. Thus, it has had an adverse impact on the mobility of Christians, who most of the times have to travel as much as at least ten kilometers to reach their Churches for Christmas celebration.
 
The bandh-call given by Sangh Parivar from 24th to 27th December in Kandhamal district is similar to calls since 2007, coinciding with the Christmas season. It is thus clear that the reasons for bandh-calls are intended to create obstacles and disturb the religious observation of Christmas, besides browbeating and terrorizing the Christians in the area. Last year the reason was to remember/protest the murder of ‘Hindus’ during violence, this year to demand the punishment for fake-caste certificate holders. Such issues are remembered not through out the year and have only one objective – provoke Christians. The bandh call had its harvests in 2007 and 2008 by facilitating large scale anti-Christian violence, when the district administration utterly failed to take any measure to protect the lives, properties of thousands of people. This time too, no proactive measures have been taken by the authorities, despite appealing at least three times to the district collector. 
 
– fr. ajay singh, jugal kishore ranjit, bipracharan nayak and others

Pastor and believers arrested in Madhya Pradesh 

 

Madhya Pradesh, December 26, 2011: A pastor of the Indian Pentecostal Church, identified as Titus and few other Christians were arrested after being charged under Section 3 and 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act after a complaint was registered against them by local villagers in the Sendwa in Badhwani District of Madhya Pradesh on December 2, 2011. While they were in the police station about 20 men from radical a Hindu organisation barged into the police station demanding arrest of the pastor. Pastor Titus and the other Christians were released, after bail was posted by local Christians on their behalf. The police also seized the vehicle they were using along with some CDs and Bibles.

– efi

One solitary life *CHRISTmas or Xmas..?

December 26, 2011 by  
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One Solitary LifeThe impact of Jesus on the world has been more than any other, in the most challenging situation. We need to learn from HIM

One Solitary Life He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Twenty centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life – HIS
 
– fwd: Augie & Gina David

CHRISTmas or Xmas..?

 

CHRISTmas or Xmas..?Christmas brings thrill & excitement to young & old because it’s a festival of Joy, Light, Peace, Hope and Glad tidings. Christmas reminds us of the greatest gift God has given to mankind when He sent His One and Only Son, His nearest and dearest to this world to suffer and die for my sins, your sins and sins of the whole world. In II Corinthians 9:15 we read – “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.” Yes Indescribable gift! Can we describe the personality of Jesus Christ..? He has such a great personality that it requires hundreds of names and titles to describe Him! That’s why when He was born, He was give a very special name – “JESUS” (Luke 1:31) which means – He shall deliver mankind from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He was given 5 star title 750 years before His birth in Isaiah 9:6 – Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of peace…GREATEST GIFT: Our Loving Father has given you and me the greatest Gift, ie His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16) in spite of knowing the fact that, one day He would be crushed on the Cross of Calvary. In response to this wonderful gift, we should ask a very important question like King David, who asked in Psalm 116:12, “What shall I render in return to the Lord for His great Love and sacrifice..? I am sure every believer would ask this vital question if he or she will personalise the statement recorded in Isaiah 53:5 by confessing – “He was wounded for My (our)transgressions and He was bruised for My (our) iniquities…”CHRIST WAS BORN ON A MISSION:  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God came down to this planet earth on a mission, not to establish a religion or a kingdom but to establish a relationship (Colossians 1:22) that was broken, when man committed sin. This He accomplished when He died as a supreme sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary where He bought us for a price, not with the corruptible things as silver and gold but with His precious blood (I Peter 1:18). We’ve the privilege and joy of worshipping the Risen Christ (John 11:25) because on the Cross, He did not say – “I AM finished!” But He said – “It Is Finished!” (John 19:30) there by accomplished His Mission.THE BIG QUESTION: King David, after tasting and experiencing Lord’s love, (Psalm 34:8) asked a very vital question –“O Lord, what shall I give unto Thee in return for Thy great Love and Sacrifice..?” (Psalm 116:12). This Christmas, as you look at the cradle of Baby Jesus, you can also see the shadow of the Cross there! And if you focus your eyes on that old rugged Cross where Jesus Christ was bruised and battered (Isaiah 53:10), you and I will be constrained to ask the question – O my Saviour, what shall I give in return to your great love and sacrifice so unique and amazing  that you’ve demonstrated on the Cross of Calvary while I was yet a sinner..? (Romans 5:8).WHAT’S OUR RESPONSE? This Christmas, if you and I want to celebrate the festival meaningfully, we have to respond as exhorted by St.Paul in Romans 12:1-3 where we read –“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service…”  Yes! Apart from giving our tithes and offerings to our Church and missions generously and cheerfully (II Cor 9:7), let’s surrender ourselves to Him Who loves us by placing Him in the Centre of our physical and spiritual lives. And since we are passing through this world but once, let’s pray that our good Lord will fill us with His spirit to be His Ambassadors in this world (II Cor 5:20).Dearly beloved, Now the Big Question!? Are you going to celebrate the Birthday of CHRIST of CHRISTmas or a mere Xmas..? By the way you may ask, what’s Xmas? You may be knowing, it’s –

 

 

X-austing preperations, X-tensive shopping,
X-travagant gifts, X-citing parties,
X-cessive feasting, X-alting Santa but..
X-cluding CHRIST!

 
Come let’s join hands and celebrate CHRISTMAS meaningfully by inviting CHRIST into our Hearts & Homes.

 

– fwd: dr. stafford cripps

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