Secular NGOs fight communalism *Glorious Easter Concert

March 28, 2012 by  
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Madhya Pradesh, March 24, 2012: Rashtriya Secular Forum (RSF), held two days meeting at NITTTR Mani Memorial Hall, Bhopal, which roped in forty two Non- Governmental organizations working for Dalits, Women and Minorities. They have decided to fight violence let out against the weaker sections. Isai Mahasangh and People’s Research are the main partners which collaborated with RSF to organize the meeting.

Forum Convener L S Herdenia said, “In the recent times incidents of rapes, violence against Women, Minorities and Dalits have increased in Madhya Pradesh. We have decided to make a core team to take up issues related to them. We have created a helpline to extend support to people who are facing troubles.”

The meeting was addressed by former senior Government officers including Director General of Police SK Dillan, Man Daima IPS, Bageerath Prasad IAS, M N Buch IAS and secular activists, Ram Puniyani, Irfan Engineer, John Antony, Yogesh Diwan,  Deepak Butt, representing faith based organization, Fr. Anand Muttungal and Dr. Mubarak presented their views along with them Dalit Rights Activist Adv. Milind, women right activists Sandhya Shaily, Dr. NB Ruhi, Safiya Akhtar etc too spoke on the occasion.

Fr. Anand Muttungal said, “Isai Mahasangh has asked the RSF to organize a state wide conference on the issue of religious conversion and the accusation of forced conversion, we will also be inviting the fundamental organizations too. We will definitely expose the political agenda of these organizations. In Madhya Pradesh fundamental organizations are hand-in-glove with the police to tarnish the image of the Christian community of forced conversion. It is to be noted that they disrupt the prayer meeting and arrest people accusing attempt to convert people into Christianity.”

The organizers said that we have decided to launch a state core committee to monitor and help the organizations working for the rights of minorities, women and Dalits. We have brought them together under one platform. We will also associating many organizations in the coming days.

We will talk to political parties with secular ideologies to come together to face the communal political organizations and their allied organizations. We will also be launching a state wide campaign to make the Central Government to bring the Communal Violence Controlling Bill which was promised in the 2004 elections by the Congress Party. The meeting also decided to hold meetings in all divisional head quarters and district head quarters.

One of the main organizers Deepak Butt said, “Like previous times as the election comes near more violence will be taking place in Madhya Pradesh. We are getting ready to make people aware of the evil designs of communal forces which is against women, dalits and minorities.

It is the first time the secular organizations are coming together under one platform.

– john anthony

Glorious Easter Concerts Services


Glorious is a 65 member choir operating in and around Bangalore for the last 21 years. They have presented over 1000 concerts and have performed all over South India and also by invitation at the National Centre for Performing Arts –Tata Theatre, Mumbai. More than 1000 members have passed through the doors of Glorious who are now scattered across the globe. Glorious is privileged to announce


The Potter’s hand
Holy Saturday, 7th April, 2012, 6.30pm
In St Joseph’s Girls’ High School Hall, St John’s Road, Bangalore

Lead Me To The Rock
Easter Sunday, 8st April, 2012, 6.00pm 
In Koramangala Methodist Church

 – fwd: bg koshi

Kandhamal eyewitness kidnapped. Advocates & police intervene *Gujarat HC restores Christian’s marriage license

March 28, 2012 by  
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Orissa, March 28, 2012: Mr. Saira Nayak uncle of the informant was kidnapped by the accused after depositing the evident before Fast Tract Court II on 27th March 2012.

The Case had been posted for Evidence in (FTC-2) Phulbani and trial was going on. The Case is bearing No. ST-16/12, GR-148/2008, G.Udayagiri P.S case no- 57/08. The Case is between Mr. Keshab Nayak (State) Vs Susant Pradhan (Ex-Samaranch of Badimunda Panchat) & 27 others members.  It is the house burning   case of village Mahaguda, under G. Udayagiri Police Station. The offence charged against accused U/s 147/148/427/379/295/436/506/149 IPC.

There were five public witnesses (PW) who examined in this case. Primarily 1.Keshab Nayak 2.Tanuja Nayak 3.Deepak Nayak 4.Philmina Nayak  and  5.Sasira Nayak deposited the evidence before the  court.

After the deposition and cross examination  the witnesses  were waiting to get their  T.A & D.A (BATA) from the court the   accused persons threatened to the informant  and charged them  why did they said before the court. On their way back they will be killed.  The accused also gave threat that when they will be back to home they will face serious consequences.

After some times at about 3.00 P.M Mr. Saira Nayak, uncle of the informant from was kidnapped from court premise.  Hearing the incident the matter was reported to the Additional District Judge (ADJFTC-2)
but it was no use, the judge said wait.

At that time all the witnesses were feeling insecurity, worried & fear due to delay of the assurance. Finding no way the informant reported the matter in written   to the Police In charge, Town Thana, Phulbani.

After the intervention of the Advocates and Police, Kandhamal town the witness Sasira Nayak was found out and rescued. Due to threat of life, the informant and his uncle did not want go for the case. However, the police left the free to the hijacker.

The continuous support in the grass root level is need of the hour.

– fwd: adv. dibyasingh pasrichha

Gujarat High Court restored the marriage license of a Christian


Gujarat, March 27, 2012: The Gujarat High Court, in a significant judgment, restored the marriage license of a Christian, which had been revoked by the Narendra Modi government after they had invoked the Freedom of Religion Act 2003 to enforce the same. Justice S.R. Brahmbhatt’s order in the case will have wide ranging ramifications and will also serve as a precedent.

Many Christian activists have complained that that the Gujarat government was using the Freedom of Religion Act to prevent conversions arising out of inter-religious marriages. The state chapter of the All India Christian Council (aicc) assisted the petitioner, Subashchandra Parmar of Nadiad, Kheda District, in his legal battle against the order of the State of Gujarat, through its law secretary. The aicc welcomes Justice Brahmbhatt’s order since it implies that Christians can get married with persons of their choice, without faith restrictions.

The petitioner, Mr. Subashchandra Parmar, was appointed as Marriage Registrar in 1999 by the government of Gujarat as a licensee under the Indian Christian Marriage (ICM) Act 1872. In discharge of his duty, in 2009 he performed the marriage ceremony between a Christian, Mr. Pinakin Macwan and Ms. Vishrutiben Shukla, in the presence of Kailashben Shukla, the girl’s mother who signed the registrar as witness. Ms. Vishruti was married to the Christian having not changed her faith nor having converted to Christianity, as is permitted under Section 4 of the ICM Act.

After more than a year of the marriage being solemnized, in October 2010, Anilkumar Sukhla, the girl’s father, under rather mysterious circumstances, approached the government to declare the marriage as null and void, as the girl had not converted. He claimed this was required under the infamous Freedom of Religion Act 2003, which seeks to “regulate” conversions. In 2011, the government not only cancelled Subashchandra Parmar’s license to conduct marriages, through M. J. Parashar, the deputy law secretary’s order, but also launched criminal proceedings against him.

Mr. Samson Christian, aicc national secretary said “The draconian anti-conversion law in Gujarat is even more persecuting, compared to the other six states, where such legislation curbing religious liberty, have been passed. Unlike in other states, in Gujarat, under the Freedom of Religion Act 2003, one has to give a month’s notice and seek permission to convert from one faith to another. Our experience has shown that the moment an application is made, Hindutva forces come down heavily on the person and the family concerned, forcing them to reconsider their decision or face the consequences.” He pointed out that in other states, mere intimation of conversion was sufficient, while in Gujarat, this was not so.

In the case where Mr. Subashchandra Parmar solemnized the marriage, it was under the ICM Act, where it is possible for one to get married without converting and hence the petition challenged the government order and demanded for the restoration of the marriage registrar’s license. Justice Brahmbhatt, in his order, noted that the government should have made proper investigations before cancelling the license. There was also no proof that Ms. Vishrutiben Shukla was converted against her will. Further, the judge noted that the show cause notice by the government was without jurisdiction and also without proper application of mind by the concerned authority. “The petitioner was unnecessarily compelled to come to the court, as cancelling his license is not justified at all,” Justice Brahmbhatt added.

Finally, in the judgment in favour of Mr. Subashchandra Parmar, the judge quashed the government order and set it aside; reviving the license and no cost to the petitioner was awarded. Mr. Samson Christian of the aicc said that the NGO would now move for quashing the FIR filed against the petitioner in the criminal case, which is now pending. The aicc would also work towards getting the month’s notice removed from the Freedom of Religion Act and is considering legal opinion in the matter.

Staying connected with your teen

March 28, 2012 by  
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Communicating  with youngsters gets more challenging as they get older. Here are some suggestions to improve your relationship with your teenager. You will discover even more meaningful ways to maintain and deepen the bond  with your teen.

A Compliment a Day
Give teens just one compliment each day for one month and then record any differences in your relationship with them. Without exception, these “compliment prescriptions” always result in an improved relationship by  the end of the month. The compliments should not be forced (fake) and do not have to be on a grand scale. Comments like  “Your hair looks great that way”, “ I like the way you have rearranged your room,  it really reflects your personality”  will really work wonders. 
Don’t dismiss your teen’s broken heart
Don’t treat your teen’s broken heart in a dismissive manner  with  mundane clichés like it’s no big deal,  “There are plenty of fish in the sea”,   “He/she didn’t deserve you anyway” or  What can you know about being in love at 15?” Remember,   when you were a teen how you felt when you got dumped by your first love? Empathize your teen, be understanding and give a shoulder to lean on!

Memories strike a Chord
Surprise your teen with a scrapbook of pictures that you’ve taken of him/her, from babyhood to his/her present age. If you have them, include a few pictures of you and him/her together.  It strikes a immediate chord that will help building a strong bonding.  
Go on a “date”
Ask your teen if you could share a regular “date” with him every couple of weeks (or every week if he/she is game), where the two of you go out for lunch or to see a movie. What’s most important is your expressing a desire to do something  or spending more time with him/her.

Involve your teen

Get your teen involved in family decisions such as what colour to paint the house, which car to purchase, which vacation spots to visit, etc,. that makes the teen feel being wanted  and cared for at home.

Volunteer together

Establish a family volunteer tradition, where you both volunteer together at least once a month at places like a family shelter, children’s hospital or nursing home.

Don’t shut them out

If a family member is sick, encourage your teen to spend time with him/her.  They might be scared or hesitant initially to visit them.  But they  do not want to be shut out from seeing family members whom they have loved all their lives.  Give them realistic picture of  what to expect and accompany them if you sense they need your presence.

Appreciation counts

Write your teen occasional notes of appreciation, gratitude  and love, and leave them in sealed envelopes on his/her pillow.  It is sure to make a lot of difference in their attitude towards you.

More than words

Use a picture of your teen or one of you and your teen as your computer’s screensaver. Consider what that might signify to him/her. Every time you or he/she uses the computer, there he/she is. It’s another version of keeping a picture of her in your wallet, but with much more visible impact. 
Tips to stay connected

Communication and understanding are crucial to every facet of a parent-child relationship. Here are some helpful hints on how to cultivate respect from your kids:

•  Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them. Respect and ask their opinions.
•  Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.
•  Set limits on their behaviour based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.
•  Continually tell them and make it know that you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.
– christabel frank

As we mature, we become like Jesus

March 28, 2012 by  
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Live Like JesusWe shall become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ’s full stature. (Ephesians 4:13 TEV)

Discipleship is the process of conforming to Christ; your journey will last a lifetime.

Every day God wants you to become a little more like him:
“You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you.” (Colossians 3:10a NCV)

Today we’re obsessed with speed, but God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness.

We want the quick fix, the shortcut, the on-the-spot solution.

We want a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly resolve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pains.

But real maturity is never the result of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving.

Growth is gradual.

The Bible says, “Our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.” (2Corinthians 3:18b Msg)

People often build their identity around their defects.

We say, “It’s just like me to be …” and “It’s just the way I am.”

The unconscious worry is that if I let go of my habit, my hurt, or my hang-up, who will I be?

This fear can definitely slow down your growth.

Habits take time to develop.

Remember that your character is the sum total of your habits.

You can’t claim to be kind unless you are habitually kind — you show kindness without even thinking about it.

You can’t claim to have integrity unless it is your habit to always be honest.

A husband who is faithful to his wife most of the time is not faithful at all!

Your habits define your character.

There is only one way to develop the habits of Christlike character:

You must practice them — and that takes time!

There are no instant habits.

Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things.

Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW)

Indian Chaplaincy’s Celebrations of Holy Week – 2012 in the Holy Land *The church is not a political party but…

March 28, 2012 by  
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Venue: JERUSALEM: Shrine of Palms, Bethpage to Basilica of the Agony, Gethsemane 

8.15  am     Arrival to the Shrine of Palms, Bet-phage  
8.45  am     Reading of the Gospel
9.00  am     Blessing of the Palms by His Paternity V.Rev. Fr.Custos of the Holy Land 
              Followed by the Solemn Procession towards Mount of Olives Palm Sunday Routes

Entering the Basilica of Agony through the main entrance. 
10.00 am     Holy Eucharist of the Passion in the Basilica of the Agony, Gethsemane, Jerusalem
12.00 am     Conclusion of the Celebrations

PARTICIPANTS:  More than 1000 from Haifa, Tel Aviv, Herzylia,  Nof Yam, Jerusalem

7.00 pm     Celebration of the Paschal Meal of our Lord Jesus Christ,
            The ceremony of the Washing of the feet and sharing of the bread
8.30 pm     Solemn   Procession of the Blessed Sacrament & Adoration

06.04.2012  GOOD  FRIDAY
9.30 am     Arrival to Cenacle, Mount Zion
9.45 am     Introducing the Passion of our Lord: 
                      Pre-experience of the passion in the Last Supper       
10.00am   Way of the Cross: Meditation on the Stations of the Cross
            First Station Caenaculam  
            II.  Galli Canthu
            III. Entrance of the City of David
            IV.  Eastern Wall Corner
            V.   Monument of Absalom
10.30 am    Other stations in and around the Kedron Valley, Gethsemane, Jerusalem
11.00 am    Celebration of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ  in Konkani
12.30 pm    Veneration of the Crucifix  
                Liturgy of the WORD OF GOD
        Liturgy of BAPTISM AND BAPTISM OF INFANTS: Aaron & Gloria 
               Liturgy of the EUCHARIST & Communion
Joy of the Glorious Resurrection of our L.J.C. : SHARING OF GREETINGS AND SWEETS            

10.00 am   Solemn Mass at St.Joseph’s Latin Parish Hall in Haifa
Malayalam Speaking Faithful

Palm Saturday
9.00  am  Solemn Procession with Palms from Bethfage 
10.00 am Mass at  Gethsemane Garden

Holy Thursday:
In the evening celebrations of Paschal Meal of the Lord at St.Peter’s  Church, Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv

Holy Friday:
10.30am   Celebration of the Passion of the Lord  at Gethsemane Garden
1.00pm    Way of the Cross at Via Dolorosa

Holy Saturday:
10.00am   Celebration of the Pascha  at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate Church at  4th Station, Jerusalem(Oriental Rite)
9.00 pm   Easter Vigil at St.Peter’s Church   Old Jaffa, Tel Aviv (Latin Rite)

– fr. jayaseelan ofm

The church is not a political party but…


Vatican City, 24 March 2012: Yesterday morning, before boarding his flight for Mexico, Benedict XVI was greeted at Rome’s Fiumicino airport by Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy. Later, during the course of the journey, the Holy Father participated in the traditional in-flight press conference with the more than seventy journalists accompanying him on the plane. He answered questions on a wide range of subjects, from drug trafficking and violence in Mexico to the social situation in Cuba and new evangelisation on the Latin American continent.

The Pope noted that his journey was taking him in the footsteps of John Paul II, who had made five visits to Mexico and one to Cuba, and that he hoped to continue the work begun by his predecessor. “I share the joys and hopes, but also the suffering and difficulties” of the Mexican people, he said. “I am going to bring encouragement but also to learn, to bring comfort in faith, hope and love; a commitment to goodness and to the struggle against evil. Let us hope that the Lord will help us”.

A Mexican journalist pointed out that great social inequalities persist in Latin America and that the at times the Catholic Church is not sufficiently encouraged to intervene in this field. “The Church must of course ask if she does enough for social justice on that great continent”, the Pope replied. “It is a question of conscience which we must always pose ourselves. … What must the Church do? What can she not do? What must she not do? The Church is not a political power, she is not a party but a moral entity, a moral power. … I reiterate what I have already said. The Church’s first concern is to educate minds in both individual and public ethics, thus creating the necessary sense of responsibility. Here perhaps there are some shortcomings. In Latin America, as elsewhere, no small number of Catholics show a kind of schizophrenia between individual and public morals. … We must educate people to overcome this schizophrenia, educate them not only in … individual morality, but also in public morality. This we must seek to do with the social doctrine of the Church because, of course, such public morality must be a reasonable morality, shared and shareable by non believers.

Another journalist recalled the words used by John Paul II on his trip to Cuba, “may Cuba open to the world and, and may the world open to Cuba”, and noted that many defenders of human rights had spoken out in anticipation of Benedict XVI’s visit to the island.

The Pope reiterated the continuity of his ideas with the words of John Paul II “which are still highly relevant”. The visit marked, he said, “the beginning of a journey of collaboration and constructive dialogue, a long journey which requires patience but which is moving forward. It is clear today that Marxist ideology as it was conceived no longer responds to reality. … In order to build a new society new models must be discovered, patiently and constructively. In this process, which requires patience but also firmness, we wish to make our contribution in a spirit of dialogue, in order to avoid traumas and facilitate the way to a fraternal and just society for all people. Obviously, the Church is always on the side of freedom, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion. … The faithful can also contribute to the progress of this journey”.

Finally the Holy Father responded to a question about new evangelisation in Latin America, in the light of the Aparecida Conference.

“The path of new evangelisation began with Vatican Council II. This was the fundamental intention of Blessed John XXIII, it was also emphasised by John Paul II and its importance in a world undergoing such great changes has become even more evident. The Gospel must be expressed in new ways. … There is a condition which exists throughout the world: secularisation, the absence of God, the difficulty of seeing Him as a reality which concerns us. … It is today, in the context of modern day rationality, that we can rediscover God as a fundamental guide for life, the fundamental hope for life, the foundation of the values upon which our society rests. … I think it is very important to announce a God Who responds to our reason. … However, we also have to take account of concrete reality. It is important to bear in mind that, in Latin America as a whole, religion is a question not of reason but of the heart. … Yet this intuition of the heart must be linked to the rationality of faith, and to the profundity of faith that goes beyond reason. We must not lose the heart, but unite heart and reason, … only in this way is the human being complete”.

– vis

Al Qaeda says it killed American teacher in Yemen

March 27, 2012 by  
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Family of Slain American Christian Teacher, Joel Shrum, Returns from YemenYemen, March 22, 2012: Al Qaeda’s Yemenbranch said Thursday that it killed an American teacher because he was trying to spread Christianity in the mainly Muslim Arab nation.

Joel Shrum, a 29-year-old native of Mount Joy, Pa., was gunned down on Sunday in the central city of Taiz, where he was living with his wife and two sons. He was studying Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.

The claim of responsibility, which was posted on a militant website, came as the terror network increasingly has sought to exploit the political turmoil in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.

“It was God’s gift for the mujahedeen to kill the American Joel Shrum who was actively proselytizing under the cover of teaching in Taiz,” said the statement by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the terror network’sYemen branch formally is known.

The slain teacher worked at the International Training and Development Center, which was established in the 1970s and is one of the oldest foreign language institutes in Yemen.

A text message that circulated by mobile phone in Yemen after his killing said “holy warriors” had killed “a senior missionary” in Taiz, the country’s second most populous city after the capital, Sanaa.

Mr. Shrum’s parents, who reside in Harrisburg, Pa., said he went toYemen in 2009 to learn Arabic, not to proselytize, and became passionate about teaching business skills to Yemenis.

A colleague at the language center, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said Mr. Shrum used to encourage Yemenis to stay true to their Islamic faith and did not try to convert people to Christianity.

He said Mr. Shrum not only taught Yemenis English but often would buy students books and assist them in learning computer skills.

Hundreds of youth activists and other protesters marched Tuesday through Taiz demanding justice for the Shrum killing. They carried photos of Mr. Shrum as they marched through the city’s streets, chanting, “Yemen is not a place for terrorism! We love you, Joel!”

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it would not allow Christian proselytizing to continue in Yemen and threatened to attack other U.S. citizens and interests if the United States does not stop aiding Israel, viewed as an enemy by most Arab nations.

“The United States, its infidel subjects and interests, are legitimate targets for our jihad until it ends its war against Islam and Muslims, starting with its aid for Jews in Palestine and recurring crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.”

The statement’s authenticity could not be verified, but it was issued by al-Fajr, the media arm of al Qaeda, and posted on a website that routinely carries militant statements.

Al Qaeda and other militant groups are active in Yemen, located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen has suffered a breakdown of security during a yearlong uprising that eventually led to the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh last month after 33 years of authoritarian rule.

Since stepping down, Mr. Saleh has been accused by the opposition of meddling in the country’s affairs. They also accuse his loyalists in top security positions of allowing and at times possibly encouraging militant attacks as a means of eroding the capabilities of the new national unity government.

– ap

Mother Teresa nuns call on Maoists to free Italians *Take-up issue of Pak minorities

March 27, 2012 by  
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Abducted ItaliansOrissa, March 21, 2012: The rebel leader Sabyasachi Panda proposes the release of one of the two hostages, provided that the government meets some of the 13 requests. Authority: we can not accommodate every point. Controversy between the Head of Government of Orissa and the central government. Arrest warrants issued for 26 Maoist guerrillas.

The Sisters of Mother Teresa in Kandhamal are asking for the release of two kidnapped Italians in Orissa: “We, the Missionaries of Charity, committed to serving the poorest of the poor in Kandhamal, we ask you, our dear brothers and sisters that the two Italian tourists hostages, be released unconditionally. Their families and friends are suffering terribly. God bless you”. This is the message of Sister M. Suma, regional superior of the Missionaries of Charity, launched through AsiaNews. Meanwhile, the local Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda has offered the release of one of the two hostages, provided that the government fulfills at least some of the 13 requests. The government responded by saying that it can not satisfy all the points. The proposal is contained in an audio tape delivered to CNN-Ibn and confirmed by AsiaNews sources. The message does not specify which of the two Italians, Paolo Bosusco or Claudio Colangelo, could be released.

Meanwhile, Naveen Patnaik, chief minister of Orissa, has accused the central government of doing nothing to free the hostages. “The Foreign Minister Krishna – Patnaik said – shows no urgency in resolving the case. He has not even responded to my initial request for intervention, when the abduction took place.”

P Chidambaram, Minister of the Interior, responded to the accusations: “If these statements are true, I’m very sorry. I called Patnaik in person Sunday, March 18, and made no request of the central government. I do not think that the chief minister of a State should make such statements. ”

Negotiations are moving forward. This morning the government of Orissa issued an arrest warrant for Sabyasachi and 26 other rebel Maoists. Yesterday evening, the rebel group has moved the date of the ultimatum, perhaps March 24. Speaking to AsiaNews R.P. Patil, District Collector of Kandhamal, does not explicitly confirm the day, “because I still can not provide further details,” but is “confident that we will have more time to free the hostages, because the rebels have opened negotiations. We are dealing with this at a state level and trust in the three mediators. ”

Yesterday Naveen Patnaik has confirmed the names of three persons who will act as negotiators for the State: A Behera, Secretary of the Interior, PK Jena, Secretary of the Department of Panchayati Raj, SK Sarangi, Secretary of the Department of Development.

– asianews

Take-up issue of persecution of minorities in Pakistan


BJP Leader Murli Manohar JoshiPakistan, March 25, 2012: Most parts of Pakistan are witnessing gross violation of human rights against religious minorities which is fuelling their migration, BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi on Saturday alleged, demanding India must raise the issue on the international fora. “Most parts of Pakistan are witnessing gross violation of human rights resulting in large scale migration of religious minorities, many of them Hindus.

“It is surprising that our government, which has been so sensitive about issues concerning the religious minorities within the country and other parts of the world, has been keeping silent with regard to the happenings in the neighbouring country,” Joshi told reporters here.

We request the government to raise the issue on international fora besides taking up the matter with Pakistan and make all possible efforts towards putting a check on human rights violation in that country, he said.

Korean citizens accused of forceful conversion in Madhya Pradesh *Woman chased out from home for her faith in Christ

March 27, 2012 by  
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AccusedMadhya Pradesh, March 23, 2012: On March 15 in Jabalpur, police detained eight Christians after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against them of luring people to convert to Christianity in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

According to information reaching EFI, the Hindu extremists Dharma Sena accused Korean citizens of luring people to convert to Christianity, of distributing pamphlets with objectionable materials in it, and took them to Adhartal police station.

The extremists’ leader Arvind Baba in his complaint wrote that the Koreans were offering huge money to people and other facilities to convert them to Christianity. The Christians were detained in the police station.

The Koreans denied the accusations. After Police investigated the matter, the Christians were released without any charges.

– efi

Woman chased out from home for her faith in Christ


Madhya Pradesh, March 23, 2012: On Feb 28 in Tuthuly, Kanker, Madhya Pradesh, a Christian woman, Satwantin Mandari was chased out from her home and village because of her faith in Christ.

According to our correspondent, Dasrath Mandari forced his wife to leave home and their village after alleged Hindu extremists threatened him that they would ostracize the whole family if his wife continued to believe in Christ.

On the same night, after Satwantini Mandari refused to denounce Christ, her husband along with the extremists drove her out from her home and from the village. The community strictly prohibited her from returning home unless and until she returned to Hinduism.

The homeless Christian is staying with Pastor Paduram and his family in Kanker. Kindly pray for her.

– efi

Memory of Msgr Oscor Romero honoured *ESG gets UN Water Award – Conserving Bangalore’s Lakes

March 27, 2012 by  
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The book was published by the Embassy of The Republic of El SalvadorNew Delhi, March 25, 2012: The Justice and Peace Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, along with the Embassy of The Republic of El Salvador and the Archdiocese of Delhi, organised the Observance of 32nd Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Msgr Oscar Romero, on 23 March 2012. The function was marked by a concelebrated Holy Mass led by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Nuncio to India. In his brief homily, the Nuncio said that Archbishop Romero was a prophetic witness to radical faith in Jesus. The Holy Mass was followed by a Way of the Cross with Romero at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gole Dak Khana, New Delhi, from 6.00 pm. More than 800 people attended these services.

Later, at 7.15 pm, a book consisting of talks and presentations made during a similar observance last year was released at the CJM School Auditorium. The book was published by the Embassy of The Republic of El Salvador. Welcoming the audience, Archbishop Vincent Concessao pointed out that the life and the martyrdom of Archbishop had a special relevance to the India of today which finds a large section of its people trapped in poverty. The highlight of the observance was the premier show of the most recent documentary film: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero, directed by the El Salvadorian Director Everardo Gonzalez. The documentary portrayed Archbishop Oscar Romero as a defender of human rights, a prophet of justice and an apostle of peace.

In the pic above is seen (L-R) Fr. Charles Irudayam of CBCI Justice, Peace & Dev Comm, with the Nuncio, Archbishop Vincent and the Ambassador, The Republic of El Salvador

– antony arulraj

ESG gets UN Water Award – Conserving Bangalore’s Lakes


UN Water Award Environment Support Group (ESG) has been awarded the 2012 UN-Water “Water for Life” Best Practices Award in a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Rome on 22 March 2012, World Water Day.

ESG was given the Category 1 “Best Water Management Practices” Award for its initiative: “Protection of Bangalore Lakes for Posterity – Setting a Legal Precedent for Conservation of Lakes as Commons”. This multi-year multi-pronged effort based on appropriate interventions involving local governance bodies, under the direction supervision of the Judiciary, is considered by the UN as an “outstanding contribution towards the conservation of waterbodies in Bangalore, India, and its demonstrable and tangible impact on the food and water security of urban, peri-urban and rural communities in the region”.

The Category 2 ‘Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices’ award was given to Soluciones Simples Que Salvan Vidas (Sodis) of Bolivia for developing a “communication strategy for social and behavior change through the promotion of innovative practices based on participatory approach to community-based empowerment and awareness raising, specially among vulnerable groups, to address key challenges related to hygiene, water and sanitation and the adequate use of services in four municipalities of the Department of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and its outstanding contribution”.

 World Water Day
According to the United Nations, the basic purpose of these awards is to “promote efforts to fulfill international commitments made on water and water-related issues by 2015 through recognition of outstanding best practices that can ensure the long-term sustainable management of water resources and contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.” In 2012, special focus is given to the topic “Water and Food Security”.

The Secretariat of the United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) and the UN World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), which coordinated this programme, received a total of 28 applications for its 2012 edition: 22 for category 1 ‘Best water management practices’, 6 for category 2 ‘Best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices’. Geographical distribution of applications is as follows: Africa 29%, Asia 32%, Europe 7%, Latin America and the Caribbean 32%.

The special award ceremony was preceded by addresses by Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Mr. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General World Meterological Organisation (WMO, Chair UN-Water), Mr. Loïc Fauchon, President World Water Council (WWC) and Mr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). His Excellency Mr. Corrado Clini, Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea (Italy) and Her Excellency Mrs. Edna Molewa, Minister for Water, South Africa and Chair of the African Ministers Council of Water (AMCOW) graced the occasion. This was followed by a special statement and musical performance by FAO Goodwill Ambassador Anggun.

Mr. Jeronimo Blasco Jauregui, City Councilor in-charge of Culture, Education, Environment and Citizen’s Participation of Zaragoza, Spain and Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) handed the awards to Mr. Leo F. Saldanha, Coordinator/Trustee of ESG and to Ms. Elsa Sanchez Montano, Executive Director of SODIS.

More details about the award can be accessed at:

The award ceremony can be accessed at:

– leo f. saldanha

Kudankulam: NCCI urges Chief Minister of Tamilnadu for a responsible solution *The Church in Arabia: I saw people crying with tears of joy

March 27, 2012 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-lead, Persecution, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on Kudankulam: NCCI urges Chief Minister of Tamilnadu for a responsible solution *The Church in Arabia: I saw people crying with tears of joy

23 March 2012

Dr. J. Jayalalitha,
Chief Minister,
St. George’s Fort, Chennai

Honourable Chief Minister of Tamilnadu,

Greetings from the National Council of Churches in India!

The National Council of Churches in India, the apex body of the Indian Protestant and Orthodox Church traditions of 13 million Indians express its anguish about your press statement and the decision of your government to deploy large contingents of paramilitary and police forces in the vicinity of Idinthakarai protest site and the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.

The world perceives you as a popularly elected Chief Minister and a political leader who is Pro-people and who gives due regard to the people and peoples’ voice considering them as important constituents of just-democracy and just-governance. And you have set a role model to other States when you passed a cabinet resolution demanding the Central Government puts on hold the  commissioning of any project until the people say ‘yes’ to the  commissioning.

While the struggling communities see you as the only beacon of hope,  your decision to give the go-ahead to the power plant has made the people more vulnerable than ever since their  30 years of struggle and has created restlessness and hopelessness among the women, men, young, children and old of Radhapuram region.

We have been informed that implementation and execution of Sec 144 by the State authority has caused road blockades, thereby creating a situation in which the people of Radhapuram are starving for food and suffering because of inaccessibility to essential commodities. Even little children are subjected to suffering for want of milk, water and other necessities.


•  We the NCCI would urge you to reconsider using the law and order methodology. Such activities do not lead to a lasting solution. Therefore we advise you and your government to go for a mutually respectful dialogue with the objective and spirit of seeking a responsible solution.
•  We, the NCCI expressing our distress over the deployment of thousands of armed policemen in the vicinity and plead with you to lift Sec. 144 without any delay and make the vicinity tension free and a zone of peace.
•  We the NCCI are very much concerned about the safety and well-being of our Children, Sisters and Brothers. As the head of the Government of Tamilnadu, you can protect the vulnerable people of the State. Let nothing undermine the dignity, health, life, and peace of the people. 
•  We the NCCI would like to bring to your notice that some State Governments have put on hold the commissioning of proposed Nuclear Power Plant Projects considering sentiments of the peoples in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Chutka in Madhya Pradesh, Gorakhpur in Fatehabad District in Haryana, Haripur in West Bengal and so on. Your ‘go-ahead’ action for the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant seem to portray you as an anti-people political leader. Therefore, we request you to be pro-people and to act in accordance with the wish of the people of that locality.   
•  We the NCCI, therefore exhort the Tamil Nadu Government to respond wisely and compassionately thereby leading the State on the path of environmental and social justice.

Roger Gaikwad

The Church in Arabia: I saw people crying with tears of joy


Bishop HinderItaly, March 23, 2012: Bishop Paul Hinder is a 69-year-old Capuchin prelate from Switzerland. He lives in Abu Dhabi, and as the vicar apostolic of Southern Arabia, is responsible for the largest Catholic territory in the world – one covering some 3 million square kilometers (1.16 square miles), in which there are approximately 2 million Christians.

Mark Riedemann for Where God Weeps in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need spoke with the bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia.

Q: What countries are we talking about when we’re speaking of the Arab states?

Bishop Hinder: These six countries would be the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar. Then there is another Apostolic Vicariate in Kuwait, which is also a part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Q: It is often said that there are very few, if any, Christians in these areas. Can you tell us a little bit about the Christian presence in these Arab states?

Bishop Hinder: In a sense, it is true that we have no local Christians, but we have many Christians, especially Catholics, migrants from all over the world especially from the Philippines and India. Most of them would be there for a relatively short time although there are quite a lot of people who have been there for 30 to 40 years. All need temporary permits to live there. And of course the public worship is limited.

Q: So there is freedom of worship but no freedom of religion?

Bishop Hinder: The freedom of religion in the sense of the human right is not given, at least not fully given because there is no question that a Muslim citizen could become a Catholic, Christian, or change, in any way, his religion; but we are free, at least in some countries, to practice our own faith.

Q: …but for example, evangelization is not possible?

Bishop Hinder: Evangelization in a sense of mission work towards the adults, especially among the Muslims, is not allowed. It is strictly forbidden.

Q: How are the relations of the Christians with the Muslim community?

Bishop Hinder: I would say it is more a ‘living beside’ than ‘living with’ because of the civil situation or the social situation of the people who are living there. Christians are there doing their job. They are migrants among other migrants. In some countries, they are a large majority of the population and they have, I would say, a professional relationship with the Muslims, but in ordinary life they preferably have relationships with their own people or within their own religion.

Q: So there is very little interaction?

Bishop Hinder: I would say there is generally little interaction except for those who have to interact professionally.

Q: We are speaking of migrant workers while in other countries of the Middle East, there are Arab Christians, who are natives of the land?

Bishop Hinder: Exactly. There is a big difference between these two realities. It has surely to do that our people, including me, normally do not speak Arabic or not well. I have been planted there and I did not expect that. That is why interaction is not so easy, especially with the religious leaders. An imam in any one of the countries does not necessarily speak English and there is immediately a problem of translation … of the language …

Q: You mentioned that you were planted there. Was it a shock for you when you were asked to go to Arabia?

Bishop Hinder: I was shocked when I knew for the first time that I was a serious candidate for this in Abu Dhabi; that was a difficult time. At the moment of my appointment it was no longer a surprise.

Q: If I may be presumptuous, why did they decide on you?

Bishop Hinder: It was John Paul II who appointed me… but I think one of the reasons was surely this: I was a member, at the time, of the General Council of the Capuchin Order, which was in charge of the Arabian mission, as we used to call it at least in the past. Within the General Council I was also in charge of the Capuchins of the Middle East, so I had a slight idea of the realities. Then it should be normally a European to facilitate travel within the different countries; for someone from the Philippines, for example, or India, it might be more difficult to travel than for me. Then surely at the end of the list was the fact that I was a Swiss citizen, which in this situation could have been a positive thing — the experience of a multicultural country or at least multilingual country.

Q: What was the greatest cultural challenge that you had to overcome?

Bishop Hinder: It was precisely the language. I was quite familiar with, of course German, Italian and French. English was not my language and to be obliged practically from one day to another to speak, to write in English was a heavy burden in the beginning. I never during my lifetime had to speak and preach as often as I do now. So it was really a challenge and it still is because you never have the same freedom as you have in your mother tongue or at least in a language that you are familiar with since one’s youth.

Q: Your Excellency you have achieved a sort of historic breakthrough in the sense that you have helped and worked toward an introduction of the first Catholic Church in Qatar. Can you tell us how this came about?

Bishop Hinder: The merits are not mine. I think this is due a lot to my predecessor, Bishop Giovanni Bernardo Gremoli, who did a marvellous work for the past 29 years; practically all the existing churches in the different countries were renovated or built by him. Then to the people who there in Qatar who worked hard to achieve this; the local Catholics, some ambassadors who have worked for many, many years to prepare the ground until it was possible. I now harvest the fruits from the people who have planted the seeds before.

Q: What sign of hope is the construction of a church that can contain approximately 2,700 faithful?

Bishop Hinder: We have to remember that there were churches here as early as the 1939 in Bahrain and in the late 60s or 70s in the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. And this is not speaking about the very first church in the peninsula, in Aden, where the mission first started in the 19thcentury. But it is extraordinary for Qatar because the situation is similar to what we have in Saudi Arabia. It is a sign of hope for the Christians living in that country. I remember that day; it was emotional and I saw people crying with tears of joy to finally see their church; let’s say a living room for their faith, and that is something very important as a point of visible reference, where people can gather and celebrate without being at risk. It also shows the openness and generosity of the emir, and also a sign that they would like to be more open, tolerant and to be aware of the realities of the country. There are hundreds of thousands of migrants in the state of Qatar. We do not know the number of Christians, but Catholics number around 200,000. The Filipino population alone is close to that and there are many from India. For them it is something extraordinary — to have this point of reference where they can go, although for many it is still a problem to get to the church but for those in the capitol, Doha, it is a success.

Q: A lot of conversation has been devoted to how to reconcile and how to move forward together with the Muslim community. One proposal is the encouragement of the separation of faith and state. Is this a possibility?

Bishop Hinder: I would like to make a comparison. Jesus Christ didn’t come and found a state. He didn’t come with military forces. He didn’t come with a social or political project. That came 300 years later in the Christian world when the emperor Constantine opened the possibilities. In the first 300 years, Christians did not exist as a political force, while the birth of Islam is very closely connected to a political and military project. I don’t think it will be easy to overcome this, which is so connected to the beginning of Islam. I don’t say that it is impossible because, I think, that even in the Koran there are elements that can be interpreted for the development of more tolerance regarding other religions; unfortunately there are also other texts, especially in the traditional Islamic doctrine, where we have very heavy stumbling blocks towards these developments. Fortunately, within the Muslim world there are many working towards this but I think it will take time.

Q: Working in the direction of moderation and cooperation?

Bishop Hinder: Yes, Let us take Turkey as an example, which is secular state, but it is not easy for the Christians there because the mentality is marked by a Muslim or Islamic foundation.

Q: What is your hope for the Catholic Church in the Gulf of Arabia?

Bishop Hinder: My hope is that we, Catholics, will not live in fear. I hope for more tolerance. We do not really hide in most countries. We do not really have a problem for example in Dubai. If someone hangs a rosary with the cross in the front mirror of a car it is not a concern.

Q: Is it possible?

Bishop Hinder: Yes, it is not a problem in some countries, but that is not a Christian life because we do everything at a minimum. We should be freer in organizing to live our Christian life in a better way. We just have the minimum in offering the catechism for the children, the minimum Masses and the charitable work in private. As soon as you would like to have a few schools, that becomes difficult because regulations become more demanding. We hope to have a freer space to organize and develop and to have organization or associations, for example like hospitals. Why not? It is not possible now. Immediately if you want to work in an institution you face the Sharia law. You need a local sponsor and the sponsor legally has to own 51%. So you have many limitations, which makes it difficult especially for institutions like the Church. We are not the only ones suffering; every institution faces similar problems. Only for us, it is especially problematic concerning the employees because they demand that a certain percent of the employees have to be locals and the locals are not Christians — so you can see the consequences that we have to face.

– mark riedemann

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