Grandmother from Christian ethnic group raped by Burmese troops in church *Pastor fined for praying for sick man cleared on appeal in Kazakhstan

May 31, 2012 by  
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Burma, May 28, 2012: A grandmother from a predominantly Christian ethnic group was gang-raped and tortured by Burmese soldiers as she took shelter in a church when troops invaded her village.

The 48-year-old woman was hiding alone in the building in Luk Pi village, Chipwi township, near the Kachin-China border, on 1 May after most of the other villagers had fled.

Around ten Burmese soldiers beat her with rifle butts, stabbed her with knives, stripped and gang-raped her over a period of three days.

After the troops left on 4 May, the grandmother of 12 was found semi-conscious by some villagers and taken to hospital. She survived the ordeal and was reunited with her family but has been left deeply traumatised and mentally disturbed. 

A villager who witnessed the savage assault was captured by the troops, tied up in the church compound, kicked and stabbed. He was also taken to hospital.

“Rape with impunity”
The Burmese military has been using sexual violence as a weapon of war throughout its offensive in Kachin state, which started in June 2011.  

The husband of one victim brought a case against the military to the Supreme Court in the capital Naypyidaw, which recently dismissed all charges against them. Sumlut Roi Ji was raped repeatedly over a number of days before she disappeared in October last year.

Moon Nay Li from the Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) said:

The message from the Naypyidaw Supreme Court is clear: the Burmese military can rape and kill ethnic women with impunity.

KWAT has been documenting rape cases among the Kachin throughout the conflict. During the first three months of the offensive, 32 women and girls in eight townships were raped; 13 of them were killed. In February, KWAT reported that the total number of rape cases had increased to 60.

In one incident, the mother of a three-week-old baby was raped and killed in a village near Bhamo. In another, a 39-year-old woman and her 17-year-old daughter were gang raped and killed by military troops.

– barnabas team

Pastor fined for praying for sick man cleared on appeal in Kazakhstan


Kazakhstan, May 29, 2012: A pastor in Kazakhstan who was given a heavy fine after he prayed for the healing of a sick man who visited his church has been acquitted on appeal.

Yerzhan Ushanov, leader of New Life Protestant Church in Taraz, was found guilty on 5 September 2011 of “causing severe damage to health due to negligence”. He was ordered to pay a fine and court costs totalling 201,560 Tenge (£870; US$1,365), a huge sum in Kazakhstan.

The pastor appealed and, on 24 April, the Supreme Court acquitted him, stating that it had reached its verdict “due to the absence of elements of crime in his actions”.

The case against Pastor Ushanov had been initiated by the National Security Committee (KNB) secret police. A KNB officer said that they had received a complaint from the wife of Aleksandr Kireev, the man for whom the church leader had prayed.

The initial court session heard that he had used “methods of psycho-therapeutic and medico-psychological influence on people with non-medical goals, which could lead to harm to the psychological health of individuals who have taken part in the given seances”. 

It was claimed that Mr Kireev had suffered headaches and memory lapses, had become “unsure of himself”, and had lost eight kilogrammes in weight.

Psychiatrists who were asked by the KNB to examine Mr Kireev diagnosed that he was suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and claimed that this was a direct result of attending Pastor Ushanov’s church.

The pastor strongly denied this and insisted that Mr Kireev “did not suffer at all” from his prayers. He said that the KNB had been closely scrutinising him and his church since at least 2009.   

The case against Pastor Ushanov mirrored that of another Protestant church leader in the same region. Vissa Kim, pastor of Grace Light of Love Protestant Church, was fined in April 2010 for harming a woman’s health by praying for her. The Supreme Court subsequently overturned his conviction and cancelled the fine.

Against the grain
The positive outcomes in these two cases go against the grain in Kazakhstan, where Christians have been coming under mounting pressure as a result of restrictive new laws that came into force in October 2011.  

All religious groups were required to re-register with the state. Baptist churches, which refuse on principle to do this, have been subjected to frequent raids.

Individual Baptists are also being targeted. On 27 May, Vasily Stakhnev was fined 161,800 Tenge (£698; US$1,096) for distributing religious literature in a case that he said was “fabricated” by the police. It appears that Vasily’s neighbours were pressured to write false testimonies against him.  

– barnabas team

Patna Jesuits to work for justice *Nuns go online to boost community

May 31, 2012 by  
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Bihar, May 30, 2012: The Jesuits are celebrating the province’s golden jubilee.

Jesuits of Patna province have decided to rededicate themselves to work for a just society where all sections of people regardless of caste and creed find their rightful place.

On the occasion of the province’s golden jubilee, Father Joy Karayampuram, provincial, said the occasion called for “inner renewal and re-dedication at the personal, communitarian and province levels toward a just society.”

The province held a combined celebration for the triple events, its jubilee, Bihar’s centenary and the platinum jubilee of the Church’s mission among the dalit of Bihar at Navjyoti Niketan, Patna yesterday.

Fr. P Susai Raj of the provincial curia said the movement of dalit in the Church is a social movement. It began with the first baptism on February 2, 1937 at Pro-Cathedral, Patna.

“We are celebrating the gospel partnership we cherish with the dioceses, inter-religious congregations of women and men and the Church in Bihar, he said in his opening address.

Archbishop William D’Souza of Patna lauded the contributions of the Jesuits in the fields of pastoral, evangelization, spiritual, education, ecology, and social action ministries.

The Jesuit prelate said “the unique feature of Patna Archdiocese is the strong bond, through healthy critique and common sharing of mission, among the diocesan clergy and the Patna Jesuits”.

As a symbol of that partnership, Fr. Karayampuram felicitated prominent priests of the archdiocese and provincials of Religious congregations in Bihar.

The senior fathers, brothers and sisters handed over to the young members, both, men and women, the vision of the Church in the form of a burning lamp as a symbolic gesture of commissioning and assigning young people for mission.

Around 130 women and men religious and clergy attended the celebration.

To mark the occasion, the Archbishop released a souvenir along with the books, ‘Role of Catechists in forming Dalit churches of Bihar’, written by Patrick John.

Fr. Karaympuram released the book, ‘Symphony of Life’, written by Patna Jesuits, scholastics and other women religious.


Nuns go online to boost community


Rawalpindi, May 30, 2012: Catholics near Islamabad are going public – at least on the internet.

The Daughters of St Paul, in Rawalpindi, have launched a website to encourage youth participation, despite community worries about drawing attention in the predominantly Muslim country.

“They were afraid of exposure and showing the face of Christ in a Muslim country,” said Sister Athens Angeles, the community superior. “But we are already the last of 51 countries where the Pauline family is running local websites.”

The website offers information about upcoming Church events as well as links to Facebook posts about the outreach programs, meetings and publications of the congregation which is running three book centers in the country.

“It is purely for vocation and has no business dimension,” Sr Angeles said.

The site was created by youth leader and student Sonish Akmal in just two days, after the order worked on the project for three years. “We waited till Pentecost to highlight the additional feature of viewing the site in different languages,” she said.

Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra launched the site over the weekend to the applause of more than 100 priests, nuns and lay leaders. He then lauded the nuns for setting a great example on the correct use of the internet.

“It will help in building relations by offering choices and preferences even when not speaking directly of religious content,” he said.


Jayalalithaa government needs to change its act *An open letter to Mamata Bannerji

May 31, 2012 by  
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Tamil Nadu, May 25, 2012: Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK government has, obviously, a lot to achieve in the coming years, if it wants to win another term.

On May 16, when the Jayalalithaa government completed one year in office, newspapers carried full-page advertisements proclaiming its achievements.

However, the ads did not appear in the dailies owned by the bigwigs of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), traditional rival of Jayalalitha’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.

The ads listed the freebies the government distributed to the poor during the past year: 20 kg rice to ration card holders, 4 gm gold for ‘thirumangalyam’ (wedding pendant worn by the bride) and 25,000 rupees to about 85,000 poor educated women to meet their marriage expenses, mixier – grinders and electric fans to about 160,000 poor families, free milk cows and goats or sheep, free laptop computers to 12th standard and college students. The list went on.

Jayalalithaa did well to understand that her party received such an overwhelming mandate not because the people in the state loved her party, but because they were determined to get rid of the DMK rule and saw her party as the only alternative.

What made the people of Tamil Nadu so angry with the DMK rule was the widespread corruption at every level of the administration, the importance given to the large family of former Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, freedom given to the ministers and party bigwigs to do what they wanted, the land and properties that were forcibly taken away from their rightful owners and the criminal negligence that led to unprecedented power cuts in the state.

This made Jayalalithaa initiate legal proceedings against the DMK party men accused of land grabbing, which was widely acclaimed in the state.

An astounding 34,703 complaints were received and 1,299 men have been arrested for alleged land grabbing. She has also established 25 special courts to try the land- grab cases.

The other initiatives that have been welcomed include the Vision Document that was issued recently.

The ‘Vision Tamil Nadu 2023’ speaks of plans that will result in 11 percent economic growth for the state. It hopes to generate investments worth 15,000 trillion rupees (US$273 trillion) that will be spent on development of infrastructure.

A long time before the state elections Jayalalithaa revealed her displeasure against the new secretariat building the DMK government built at a cost of 10 billion rupees. Soon after assuming power, she announced it would be turned into a multi super specialty hospital and medical college.

Although her critics said she did it to spite the former government, it did not evoke many negative comments, as most people felt the building that had a peculiar design was too costly.

On the other hand, her move to turn the much-appreciated Anna Library, also constructed by the DMK government, into a children’s hospital caused widespread heartburn.

A case that seeks to thwart the government’s prejudiced move and maintain it as a library is now in the Madras High Court, which has already stayed plans to make changes in the library.

Of the two incidents that have drawn widespread criticism in the one-year rule of the AIADMK, the first was the government’s efforts to stop implementing the uniform syllabus in the state’s schools announced by the previous government.

When the High Court asked the government not to meddle with children’s education and so to implement the measure, Jayalalithaa went to the Supreme Court which eventually confirmed the High Court‘s order.

The second incident was the police firing that killed six dalit youth in Paramakudi. Human rights groups blamed the police for the way it dealt with the youth who had gathered for an important dalit function and went to the extent of alleging that caste prejudices were behind the needless firing.

The unprecedented power cuts continue in the state, causing economic hardships and public protests.

There seems to be no resolve to curb corruption that was the major reason for DMK’s downfall. The opposition parties keep saying they are not allowed to voice their views freely at the state legislative assembly.

Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK government has, obviously, a lot to achieve in the coming years, if it wants to win another term.

– m.a. joe antony, sj

An open letter to Mamata Bannerji


West Bengal, May 28, 2012: But too few people in the state would take your claims too seriously, because what we see is quite the opposite.

Dear Mamata-di,

Hearty congratulations on the successful completion of your first year as the chief minister of West Bengal. All public places played songs composed specially for the occasion and they still ring in our ears.

No one can miss the 300 billboards across the Kolkata cityscape, proclaiming your achievements. Much of what has been given in numerous bullet-points is quite revealing and gives the impression yours has been no mean achievement for a first-timer.

As you always claimed, you had achieved in nine months what your unworthy predecessors, the communists, could not do during the 34 years of their reign. You have claimed several times that you have completed 95 percent of your pre-election promises.

But too few people in the state would take your claims too seriously, because what we see is quite the opposite.

However, it is only fair that we note your positive contributions to Bengal in the past one year.

You are a street-fighter par excellence. No one else could ever think of overthrowing the colossal Communist Party of India (Marxists) from Bengal. You had said you would throw out the communists from the state and you did it emphatically.

You have inculcated the fighting spirit in your party people also. However, while trying to imitate you, they create more problems for the state.

The people of Bengal are really proud of you, a fighter, who is able to challenge even the federal government when it tries to bring in laws that go against the common good of the nation.

You had given a lot of hope to us, the people of Bengal, for a situation when we would experience resurgence as our region witnessed in the early nineteenth century that eventually led to the country’s freedom.

However, the majority of people now are disillusioned with the way you go about governing the state.

Your good will and dreams alone would not result in a ‘sonar bangla’ (golden Bengal). We need a good administrator.

Today Bengal is paying for your lack of administrative acumen.

Let us admit, you were never an administrator of a state before. Some people had questioned your administrative skills when you were the federal railway minister before you came to Bengal.

It is unfortunate that you took it for granted that every street fighter could be a good administrator. Your predecessors, despite all their short comings, were able to keep their party members under control.

You claim to have amicably solved two vexing problems of Bengal: the rise of Maoism in Lalgarh area and the Gorkha in the Darjeeling Hills.

What you have done in both these cases was to give temporary relief, not solve the problems once and for all.

What is required is to heal the roots; then we can say the plants are healthy. Until you take impartial bold steps the Maoist and Gorkha problems will continue to disturb your sleep.

Believe it or not, while trying to address these two problems, you seemed to be in a hurry to wind up the issue and give cosmetic facelift to the structures which need to be rebuilt with the cooperation of the people concerned slowly and consciously.

You were actually not working on viable means to solve those issues. You approached them more to prove that you were a far superior leader and administrator than your predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

More and more industrialists, who had earlier planned to pitch their tents here in Bengal are today backing out.

Infosys’ dream project in Bengal has come under the purview of your Land Acquisition Act, making it almost impossible for them to get the land they require to put up their industries. Industrialists now say Bengal is not industry-friendly.

Farmers, for whose land you fought at Nandigram and Singur, have not received anything from your comprehensive plan.

The law and order situation in the state is no better. There are more incidents of violence and killing in the state now than a little more than a year ago.

Women in Kolkata feel unsafe after dusk. The classical case was a rape attempt on a woman in downtown Park Street. You refused to admit that such a crime was possible, and even questioned the victim’s character. Unfortunately your own police officers admitted the rape attempt, and you had to lose face.

You are holding the health ministry, but the state has witnessed more cradle deaths in government-run hospitals than ever before.

The arrest of a professor who circulated on email a cartoon on you revealed to all how silly you could be.

You were happy when the media followed you wherever you went in the first month of your rule, but when they began to question you actions, you began charging them. Are you frightened of criticism?

About six months after you took charge, and when problems began to mount, someone remarked that your honeymoon period was over.

I wish you had taken time to settle issues and problems instead of rushing over them.

But the people of Bengal are patient and still hope things can change.

A few days ago you said one needs to learn from one’s mistakes. We hope you would begin to admit at least your mistakes. But learn not only from your mistakes, but those of your predecessors.

However, if you plan to learn everything by making mistakes, then the state may have to pay heavily for it.

Yours sincerely,

A Kolkatan
Julian S Das


Five thousand Christians, Muslims and Hindus defend Mannar bishop against “vile” accusations *Dalai Lama: The teaching of Christ is a treasure for humanity

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Sri Lanka, May 28, 2012: Sri Lanka’s Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, a Muslim, accuses Mgr Rayappu Joseph of stirring the Tamil community against Muslims in his region. People from across the country come together to demand an official apology. “No one defends our rights like the bishops,” Muslims and Hindus say.

More than 5,000 people, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, lay people, members of the clergy and  Senior and junior Tamil politicians, gathered yesterday at the Cathedral of St Sebastian in Mannar to show their support and express their solidarity with Mgr Rayappu Joseph, bishop of Mannar (Northern Province), against the “vile comments” of the Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.

In a recent statement in parliament, the minister accused the bishop of stirring the Tamil population in his region against Muslims. He even compared the bishop to the Ven Innamaluwe Sumangala Nayak Thero, a Buddhist monk from the Golden Temple in Dambulla, who in late April backed a group of Buddhists who attacked a mosque.

With people coming from around Sri Lanka, rally participants stressed the “extraordinary courage” Mgr Joseph puts in everything he does. At the end of the meeting, people appealed to the minister to apologise to the prelate.

“The minister, a Muslim, should be condemned for his statement,” said Makkal Caddar, a retired imam. “We appreciate what the bishop is doing for all the people of Mannar.”

Similarly, for Sister Jacintha, a nun with the Sisters of Charity that represented  the Trincomalee & Batticaloa Diocese, the minister’s remarks “undermine harmony in the population.”

“We admire what Mgr Joseph does,” said Mano Iankaran Sharma, a Hindu. “His dedication is incredible. He works on behalf of each one of us, Tamil, Sinhalese, Catholics, Hindus or Muslims. I have never seen a Hindu priest do the same.”


Dalai Lama: The teaching of Christ is a treasure for humanity


Vienna, May 30, 2012: The Buddhist leader in Vienna for a series of political and religious meetings asks the Archbishop to visit the Cathedral of Saint Stephen: “Religions teach peace, we must practice it in all aspects of life.” Cardinal’s thanks for Nobel Laureates’ visit.

“Thousands of millions of people have found huge benefit in the teachings of Jesus Christ, which allowed them to live their lives to the full. This is a treasure for mankind.” With these words, the Dalai Lama thanked the Catholic archbishop of Vienna, Card. Christoph Schönborn, who accompanied him to St. Stephen’s Cathedral on the final day of his trip to Austria.

The Buddhist leader, who has travelled to Europe for a series of political meetings and meetings of prayer and teaching, has long insisted on visiting the church: “Since 1975 I have taken the pledge, as part of my battle to promote religious harmony, of going on pilgrimage to the places of worship of the places where I am. Christ’s teaching has deeply affected me and the atmosphere that I breathed in Lourdes and Fatima, to give just one example, was a ‘ inspiration. ”

The two religious figures spoke at length about the various aspects of monastic life. The Dalai Lama has stressed the importance of silence in the lives of some Catholic monks, which they have in common with those of other religious: “All religions convey the message of love and compassion. The religious conflicts, like those in Ireland and in Muslim communities , is a contradiction. ”

For his part, Card. Schönborn thanked the Dalai Lama: “For us it is a great joy to receive your visit. You have shown great love for our nation and I hope that we too have reciprocated that love. You spoke of  your commitment to live in harmony: I am a Dominican monk, and you too are a monk. I believe we have many points in common in our religious life.”


Will Modi be BJP’s prime ministerial candidate? *Law needed to safeguard Church properties

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New Delhi, May 27, 2012: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appears to have emerged as a front-runner in the faction-ridden Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its prime ministerial candidate.

Although the BJP doesn’t say so, political pundits say this much is easy to infer after the just concluded national executive meet in Mumbai.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari, who is known to enjoy the backing of RSS, had to bow to Modi to ensure his attendance in Mumbai by forcing out his bete noire, Sanjay Joshi, from the national executive.

And from the speeches that followed, including Modi’s own as well as his body language, it was apparent he has eclipsed the old guard.

Political analyst G.V.L. Narasimha Rao says the writing on the wall is clear.

“His selection (as PM candidate) appears certain. There is no doubt. The signal in Mumbai is very clear. I don’t see any hurdle. He has mass appeal among the current leaders and is the most favoured candidate,” Rao, also an advisor to the party, told IANS.

“Come December (Gujarat election), the BJP will have to announce his name. It’s just a matter of time,” he added.

Agreed N. Bhaskar Rao, founder and chairman of the Centre for Media Studies: “We can’t deny the Modi phenomena. He has been perceived as one who takes tough decisions, stands by them and delivers what he promises. It is apparent he will be the future of BJP.”

Time magazine’s decision to feature Modi on its March 26 issue has been repeatedly touted by the BJP and Modi supporters as another indication of his growing appeal.

Modi aides say that Gujarat turned into a state with one of the highest GDP growth rates of over 10 percent.

His annual “Vibrant Gujarat” summits attract the biggest names in business resulting in MoUs.

His supporters say he has ensured a good business climate in Gujarat.

In comparison, there is no one of stature in the BJP. Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is politically dead. The veteran L.K. Advani does not seem to command the aura that he did earlier.

Modi is reported to have asked for a post in the parliamentary board of the BJP and is said to be eyeing a key position in the national leadership.

But Modi’s path to prime ministerial hopeful won’t be easy. The biggest stumbling block is the 2002 Gujarat communal violence, an event that has forced the US to deny diplomatic visa.

Even the Time magazine caption noted: “Modi means business but can he lead India.”

And while Modi is on excellent terms with his AIADMK leader and his Tamil Nadu counterpart J. Jayalalithaa, not every chief minister, including those who are BJP allies, are enamoured of him.

This is why, says Nisar Ul Haq of the political science department at the Jamia Millia Islamia here, that Modi does not have a chance to grow nationally.

He said within the party there was resentment against Modi — in Gujarat and elsewhere — and the ghost of 2002 will haunt him.

“I don’t think there is any question of him becoming the prime ministerial candidate. He (Modi) doesn’t have national appeal. The ghost of Godhra will never go away,” Haq told IANS.

In any case, the Lok Sabha ballot is two years away. “Things can change drastically. Winds can blow in Congress favour,” he added.

But Narasimha Rao feels the old guard in the party will fall in line.

The Congress is keeping away from the Modi story vis-a-vis 2014.

“It is an internal matter of BJP. But the people of the country will decide who is secular and who is not,” Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi told IANS.

– kavita bajeli-datt, ians

Law needed to safeguard Church properties


Bangalore, May 24, 2012: The challenges some mainstream Indian Churches face today come not from outside, but from within.

A senior Church leader wants the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) to remove from its membership Churches found indulging in corruption.

“I do not know how many Churches will be left in the NCCI if such a decision is adopted,” remarked Bishop Taranath Sagar, who moderated the recent NCCI assembly where the demand was made.

The Methodist prelate’s response spoke volumes of the current state of affairs in many Churches in India.

The challenges some mainstream Indian Churches face today come not from outside, but from within.

Misappropriation of funds and illegal and unauthorized sale and lease of church properties, without accountability, responsibility or transparency, plague them.

Churches are one of the richest land owners in India in terms of real estate running into billions of rupees.

These land and properties were bequeathed by foreign missionaries, who led a life of simplicity, devotion and commitment, to create and develop such assets for future generations and for their mission and charitable work.

But today, those assets seem to be being squandered by at least a few Church authorities for their personal and selfish financial interests.

A growing body of people in the Churches and outside is now convinced that some bishops, priests and officials strike deals with land sharks and mafia, causing huge loss to the churches and to the community.

Their excuse is that such sale is to raise money used for mission work. However, vested interests in the churches corner a large portion of the money as cuts, commissions and favors.

In this light, it is only with sadness and concern that one can read about the plan of the Latin Church in Kerala to lease out part of its prime property to a private builder for a resort and shopping mall.

Are the lay people in the Church doing anything about it? According to a media report of May 9, Church officials have come to an agreement with the builder who is a member of the Church.

If churches need to raise funds, the easiest way is to sell church land. After all, the land came to them easy and without any pain or suffering.

So, where is question of any qualms or pain coming in the way of the Church leadership when they decide to sell it? The missionaries who left the land for future generations would never have imagined that what they built and preserved will be misused to such an extent that it will be all gone completely.

Court cases against bishops and Church officials involved in land scams are increasing day by day. Many such scams have come under media attention, creating a negative impression about the churches in the general public.

There are allegedly corrupt bishops in the Church of South India (CSI) who are facing cases in courts for their involvement in alleged shady deals on church properties.

There are reports of a series of cases, two of them criminal investigations, against a CSI bishop in Kerala for his role in alienating prime church properties.

Such commercialization of lands belonging to the CSI has helped generate massive illegal profits for corrupt bishops and their supporters. The land mafia in cities allegedly plays a big role in Church elections by helping the corrupt to get into power and positions.

M G Devasahayam, convener of the Joint Christian Action Council formed last year to protect the Church properties, points out that a Church trust in Chennai that initially had 105 acres of land was left with only 12 acres by 1995.

The Church is a community of believers, a movement of people consisting of mostly middle and lower middle class. They do not question or challenge the Church authorities, especially bishops, lest they invite God’s wrath.

They are interested only in their personal welfare with least concern for justice issues and this helps the Church leaders to have their way.

Are rampant corruption and greed destroying the Church foundations and making it devoid of any Christian values and principles?

Some people now begin to view it that way. Small groups of concerned Christians are organizing themselves to highlight the problems and fight this malaise in different parts of the country. Such groups need to be encouraged and sustained to build an Indian Church free of corruption and scandals.

The Indian churches, both Catholic and Protestant, have thousands of millions of rupees worth of landed properties, which are not under the regulatory control of any law.

The Christians in the pew have no say in the management of these assets. It is high time they demanded a law to protect their properties and assets, and to administer them legally as done by the Muslim Wakf and Sikh Gurudwara Acts, enacted under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

Christians are the only major religious community in India that has no legislation to safeguard the assets that belong to the entire community.

Influential national Church bodies such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indian and the NCCI must take the lead in convincing the country’s political leaders and the parliament to pass legislation to safeguard the interests of Christians in the country.

The Church properties and assets belong to a wider Christian community in the country and not to a handful of present-day selfish leaders and profiteers in the churches.


The names and titles of the Holy Spirit

May 30, 2012 by  
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The Holy Spirit is known by many names and titles, most of which denote some function or aspect of His ministry.

Below are some of the names and descriptions the Bible uses for the Holy Spirit:

Author of Scripture:
(2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible is inspired, literally “God-breathed,” by the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity.

The Spirit moved the authors of all 66 books to record exactly what He breathed into their hearts and minds. As a ship is moved through the water by wind in its sails, so the biblical writers were borne along by the Spirit’s impulse.

Comforter / Counselor / Advocate:
(Isaiah 11:2; John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7)

All three words are translations of the Greek parakletos, from which we get “Paraclete,” another name for the Spirit.

When Jesus went away, His disciples were greatly distressed because they had lost His comforting presence. But He promised to send the Spirit to comfort, console, and guide those who belong to Christ.

The Spirit also “bears witness” with our spirits that we belong to Him and thereby assures us of salvation.

Convicter of Sin:
(John 16:7-11)

The Spirit applies the truths of God to men’s own minds in order to convince them by fair and sufficient arguments that they are sinners.

He does this through the conviction in our hearts that we are not worthy to stand before a holy God, that we need His righteousness, and that judgment is certain and will come to all men one day. Those who deny these truths rebel against the conviction of the Spirit.

Deposit / Seal / Earnest:
(2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal on His people, His claim on us as His very own.

The gift of the Spirit to believers is a down payment on our heavenly inheritance, which Christ has promised us and secured for us at the cross. It is because the Spirit has sealed us that we are assured of our salvation.

No one can break the seal of God.

(John 16:13)

Just as the Spirit guided the writers of Scripture to record truth, so does He promise to guide believers to know and understand that truth.

God’s truth is “foolishness” to the world, because it is “spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who belong to Christ have the indwelling Spirit who guides us into all we need to know in regard to spiritual matters.

Those who do not belong to Christ have no “interpreter” to guide them to know and understand God’s Word.

Indweller of Believers:
(Romans 8:9-11; Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 6:19)

The Holy Spirit resides in the hearts of God’s people, and that indwelling is the distinguishing characteristic of the regenerated person.

From within believers, He directs, guides, comforts, and influences us, as well as producing in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He provides the intimate connection between God and His children. All true believers in Christ have the Spirit residing in their hearts.

(Romans 8:26)

One of the most encouraging and comforting aspects of the Holy Spirit is His ministry of intercession on behalf of those He inhabits.

Because we often don’t know what or how to pray when we approach God, the Spirit intercedes and prays for us. He interprets our “groanings,” so that when we are oppressed and overwhelmed by trials and the cares of life, He comes alongside to lend assistance as He sustains us before the throne of grace.

Revealer / Spirit of Truth:
(John 14:17; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-16)

Jesus promised that, after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit would come to “guide you into all truth.”

Because of the Spirit in our hearts, we are able to understand truth, especially in spiritual matters, in a way that non-Christians cannot. In fact, the truth the Spirit reveals to us is “foolishness” to them, and they cannot understand it. But we have the mind of Christ in the Person of His Spirit within us.

Spirit of God / the Lord / Christ:
(Matthew 3:16; 2 Corinthians 3:17; 1 Peter 1:11)

These names remind us that the Spirit of God is indeed part of the triune godhead and that He is just as much God as the Father and the Son.

He is first revealed to us at the creation, when He was “hovering over the waters,” denoting His part in creation, along with that of Jesus who “made all things” (John 1:1-3). We see this same Trinity of God again at Jesus’ baptism, when the Spirit descends on Jesus and the voice of the Father is heard.

Spirit of Life:
(Romans 8:2)

The phrase “Spirit of life” means the Holy Spirit is the one who produces or gives life, not that He initiates salvation, but rather that He imparts newness of life.

When we receive eternal life through Christ, the Spirit provides the spiritual food that is the sustenance of the spiritual life. Here again, we see the triune God at work. We are saved by the Father through the work of the Son, and that salvation is sustained by the Holy Spirit.

(John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13)

Jesus promised that the Spirit would teach His disciples “all things” and bring to their remembrance the things He said while He was with them.

The writers of the New Testament were moved by the Spirit to remember and understand the instructions Jesus gave for the building and organizing of the Church, the doctrines regarding Himself, the directives for holy living, and the revelation of things to come.

(Romans 8:16; Hebrews 2:4; 10:15)

The Spirit is called “witness” because He verifies and testifies to the fact that we are children of God, that Jesus and the disciples who performed miracles were sent by God, and that the books of the Bible are divinely inspired.

Further, by giving the gifts of the Spirit to believers, He witnesses to us and the world that we belong to God.

– fwd: samuel machado

Survey: Almost half of Russians believe that the church is under attack

May 30, 2012 by  
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Russia, May 29, 2012: A study of the Vtsiom center reveals that 46% of Russians believe that the Church in need of protection. 53% of respondents were in favor of initiatives such as the day in defense of the faith.

Almost half of Russians are convinced that the Orthodox Church in need of protection, after the Pussy Riot event, incidents of desecration of icons and media scandals that have targeted Patriarch Kirill. This was revealed by a survey carried out by the Vtsiom center, in late April in 46 regions and republics of the Russian Federation. As reported by the Interfax news agency, 46% of respondents believed that the Russian Orthodox Church is under attack. The research shows that most respondents (52%) were Orthodox Christians and the elderly (56%). 37% of respondents believe that the Church does not need this protection, 58% of them are declared themselves non-believer.

The survey also shows that 53% of Russians approved of Kirill’s initiative to convene, in late April, a day in defence of the faith: a prayer rally in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow that brought together thousands of the faithful . Only 9% are opposed to such initiatives (among them 18% are Muslims and 15% non-believers), while another 28% said they were indifferent.


Pak: Pastor who cites Qur’an in sermon is accused of blasphemy

May 30, 2012 by  
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Pakistan, May 29, 2012: Local Christians save Rev Irfan Gill after his life was threatened. He could still face the law under the ‘black law’. Village imam wants him to retract and apologise in public. Many Protestant ministers are reckless, says Catholic priest; they “put the lives of innocent people in danger.”

A Protestant clergyman cited passages from the Qur’an as he delivered his sermon during a recent service in a Punjab village. This angered the local Muslim leader who wants the pastor to stand trial for blasphemy. Local Christians now fear that they too might experience the wrath of the Muslim community.

In the village in Data Zedka (Punjab), tensions are still high. Rev Irfan Gill, a Protestant clergyman from Lahore, has received death threats and a complaint by the head of the local mosque, Maulana Hafeez Tariq, has been filed against him. The latter even tried to attack him with the assistance of a group of local Muslims. 

The local Christian community had invited Rev Gill to a prayer meeting. During his sermon, the clergyman quoted passages from the Qur’an to explain the errors and misunderstandings that underline today’s interreligious violence. Outraged by such references, the imam called on the pastor to retract his statement and make a public apology.

Local Christians were able to get the reverend away, saving him from a dangerous situation. However, a blasphemy accusation still hangs over his head. Attempts by Christian elders and human rights activists to mediate failed. Maulana Hafeez Tariq wants a public apology.

For Fr Munir John, a Catholic priest from the Diocese of Sialkot, the pastor is partly to blame. Many Protestant preachers are carried away when they speak and anger people.

For Fr Munir, Rev Gill “should come back and apologise” rather “than put the lives of innocent people in danger.”

“It is not the first time that a Protestant clergyman endangers the innocent,” he explained. “Their small denominations and street churches can become easy targets.”

Bombay archdiocese to focus laity relations *Govt to challenge minority sub-quota court order

May 30, 2012 by  
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Mumbai, May 29, 2012: The archdiocese is seeking feedback on its programs from the people to better reach the masses.

The Archdiocese of Bombay is planning a consultation to seek ways to improve its relations with the laity.

“We need to see if we are able to reach out to people the way we want to and check how we can reach them better if they have problems,” said Fr. Gilbert de Lima, coordinator of the working committee of the consultation.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay has called for the consultation which is expected to be held Nov. 14-16 at the St. Pius Seminary in Goregaon.

Fr. De Lima said the archdiocese has asked Nirmala Niketan to reach out to the community for a feedback. “Once their report is prepared, the Church will seek more data from priests,” he added.

The consultation meets once every ten years.

The consultation aims to guage the services of the Church and to seek feedback to take corrective measures and better reach the masses.

The first consultation was held in 1980 for mostly priests. Later the lay people were included for a holistic approach.

In 2001, the archiocese extended its program through several activities that focused on family, youth and the marginalized sections.

In 2006, it organized a mid-term consultation to introduce youth councils.

Commenting on the consultation, Conrad Saldanha, a member of the working committee and a laity said, “This whole consultation provides us time for reflection and renewal. Relationship is heart of life and so we need to address it.”


Govt to challenge minority sub-quota court order


New Delhi, May 30, 2012: The government would take a call on the issue next week after consulting the Attorney General.

The federal government today said it will challenge the Andhra Pradesh High Court order striking down its 4.5 percent sub-quota to minorities within Other Backward Classes (OBC) reservation in Supreme Court.

“We will file a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court against the order,” Minister for Law and Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid told reporters here.

Khurshid said that the government would take a call on the issue next week after consulting the Attorney General.

The Andhra Pradesh high court had observed yesterday that no evidence was shown to it to justify the classification of these religious minorities as a homogeneous group or as more backward classes deserving some special treatment.

Khurshid, however, said that “We have made reservation on a share of backward classes.”

“Religion cannot be the only criteria for giving reservation to a community. Minority is not just a religion, it is also linquistic,” he argued.

The minister said that the government did not include any new caste from the minorities in the OBC list but did it entirely on the basis of the Mandal Commission, which had suggested 27 per cent reservation for OBCs.

Meanwhile, the All India Majlis-e-Itehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) today requested the Centre to go for an appeal in the Supreme Court and obtain a stay on the ruling.

“Reservations are needed for Muslims’ uplift and it’s the responsibility of the government to extend reservations to ensure that minority students do not lose opportunities both in academics and jobs”, party chief Asaduddin Owaisi told a press conference in Hyderabad today.

He pointed out that literacy rate among Muslims was 59 percent, below the national average of 65 per cent.

However, the dropout rate of Muslim students at the school level was high. “Of 100 students graduating in India, only three are Muslims.”


Franciscan Provincial Superior: No Buddhist has ever attacked an Indian Christian *NC promises to uplift dalit Christians

May 30, 2012 by  
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Karnataka, May 28, 2012: False claims circulating web for months about a Buddhist extremists attack on 20 Catholic churches and death against threats missionaries. Fr. Babu Jose Pamplany, of the Franciscan Province of St. Thomas the Apostle (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala), denies rumours categorically: “It is all false. And with the Buddhists we have always had a very good relationship”

“The news is completely false: no Buddhist in India has ever attacked any Catholic community”: Fr. Babu Jose Pamplany, provincial superior of the Franciscans for India, categorically denies a news story circulating on the internet, which has concerned about Catholic communities around the world. According to this false report, in some unspecified date “Buddhist extremists” would have set fire to 20 churches, threatened to destroy another 200 in the province of Olisabang; announced the massacre of 200 missionaries.

“I also received similar information by mail – says Fr. Pamplany to AsiaNews – but I can confirm that this is a hoax. First, there is no Olisabang province in India. Then, the mail names a supposed provincial superior: not me. I want to specify it, because in our country we Christians have always had excellent relations with the Buddhists. It is unfair that they are painted in this way. ”

The first Franciscans (Dutch) arrived in India in 1948 and founded the first house in Bangalore. From here, were then created three different regions: the Province of St. Thomas the Apostle, which includes Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, the Custody dedicated to Mary Mother of God, with the States of Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, and the Foundation of St. Francis of Assisi, with the Assam and other north-eastern states.


NC promises to uplift dalit Christians


Jammu and Kashmir, May 30, 2012: The dalit demands included extending to them Schedule Caste status, sanitation of their localities and identifying land for their shelters.

The National Conference, which leads the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, has assured Christian dalits in the state to look into their demands.

Provincial president of National Conference (NC) Rattan Lal Gupta yesterday said that the demands raised by Christian Dalit Association (CDA) would be discussed with the concerned authorities and whatever possible will be done.

The dalit demands included extending to them Schedule Caste status, sanitation of their localities and identifying land for their shelters.

Addressing the CDA meeting at Kot Bhalwal, Gupta said that “NC is a party of farmers, laborers, the poor and the down trodden and has an emotional relation with dali.s”

He said the coalition government headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is committed to uplift the down trodden and various schemes have been launched for the purpose.

Gupta added that pensions for widows, old age and physically challenged, scholarship to poor children and financial aid have been enhanced in view of price rise.

– statetimes

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