Indian Palm Saturday celebrations in the Holy Land

March 25, 2013 by  
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Plam Saturday in the holy land

Israel, March 24, 2013: The Indian diaspora in Israel undertook a march from the Shrine of Palms, at Bethfage, where our Lord Jesus Christ  mounted on a donkey made a solemn entry in to Jerusalem. The walk continued to the Basilica of All Nations, Gethsemane, which is at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The palms & olive branches were blessed by V. Rev. Fr. Artemio Vitores  OFM, who is also  the Vice Custos of  the Holy Land.

It was a march which towards the Mount of Olives, taking the traditional route that Jesus took while hundreds of pilgrims recalled the simple lifestyle Jesus-loving nature of the villagers, along the way during the time of Jesus… They honoured their Messiah in the best possible way two thousand years ago..
Christians of Indian origin along with others praised the Lord of Lords with singing, dancing, clapping, shouting, waving olive branches and palms, playing drums and cymbals. They greeted the passer-byes with shouts of Peace! and Hosanna!, while praying for peace to be upon Jerusalem…. The procession then entered the Basilica of Agony to celebrate the Holy Eucharist of the Passion of our Lord in three different languages.

We have read  from your posts about your Good Friday ‘s Enacted Stations of the Cross and Walking Pilgrimage in Bombay.  While, wishing you a very fruitful, experiential and evangelical witnes, we assure you of our prayers.

– jay ofm

Special courts for Muslim youth soon. Christians too please?

March 25, 2013 by  
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Muslim youthsNew Delhi, March 23, 2013: Special courts would be set up soon for Muslim youth accused of various offences, including terror-related charges, Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan said here Saturday.

He said that his ministry had written to the home ministry in February asking “cases against Muslim youth who have been arrested should be reviewed. We had also specified that special courts should be made for them”.

Khan added: “The home minister has replied today (Saturday) saying that his ministry strongly supports the proposal for special courts for the expeditious trial of these Muslim youth. The home minister has promised that special courts will soon be made to hear cases against them.”

He added that the home ministry “knows keeping innocents (Muslims) in custody is a serious offence. The government is committed to take strong action against officers found responsible in all such cases and will ensure that such incidents do happen.”

Khan said the government would soon introduce a bill on equal opportunity commission on the recommendations of thee Sachar Committee.

“Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) has been approved by the Group of Ministers (GoM) in the cabinet. There was an issue whether the EOC should implement it for everyone or specifically for the minorities. The GoM has decided it should be only minorities-related. Based on this recommendation we going to introduce a bill, which has been send for the concurrence to the law ministry,” he added.

Stating that the ministry was making efforts to expand scholarships for minority students, the minister said about Rs.1,249.57 crore had been released to support education of over 67 lakh such students. Khan said that under the “Leadership Development of Minority Women”, about 36,950 women have been trained in 12 states at an expense of Rs.10.45 crore in 2013.

– ians

Romero Day Observance

March 25, 2013 by  
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Romero Observance

New Delhi, March 23, 2013: The Office for Justice, Peace and Development (OJPD-CBCI) organised an event to honour the memory of the modern-day prophet of Justice Archbishop Romero of El Salvador to mark the 33rd anniversary of his martyrdom.

The highlight of the event that took place at Yusuf Sadan, near Sacred Heart Cathedral Church, was the screening of the film Monsignor: The Last Journey of Oscar Romero. Produced in 2011 by the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame an 88-minute-long documentary film featured testimonies of people who had known the martyred Archbishop, videos and photographs of his special moments. Inaugurating the event, Fr. Charles Irudayam, the Secretary of the CBCI Office for Justice and Peace said that the event was organised in continuation of a good practice that began in 2011 with the collaboration of the Embassy of the Republic of El Salvador at New Delhi, so that the memory of Archbishop Romero would inspire and enable the Christian faithful in India to lead a life of evangelical commitment to the cause of justice.

The event was attended by a large number of women religious, priests, and lay people notable among whom were Ms Angela Zamora Rivas and Ms Miriam Zamora Rivas, sisters of Dr Ruben Ignacio Zamora Rivas, the former El Salvadoran Ambassador to India. Ms Angela Zamora said that she was excited to see the kind of respect and reverence that Archbishop commands among the Indians. Two other dignitaries who graced the function were Mr Vladimiro P Villalta Novoa, Minister Counsellor at El Salvadoran embassy in New Delhi, and Barrister Mr Tom Beazly who is Counsel to the Queen of England. Mr Tom said watching the film was a stunning experience for him, and added that he was edified by the prophetic witness of Archbishop Romero who was ‘not a revolutionary’.

Mr Vijayan, a well-know human rights defender and Director of Delhi Forum said that Romero  is an inspiration to all human rights defenders; he suggested that the film be dubbed in Hindi so that many more could come to know about Romero and his legacy.

It may be remembered that in the 1970s, as El Salvador moved irrevocably closer to civil war, Archbishop Oscar Romero was known as the voice of the poor, the disenfranchised, and the disappeared. Appointed Archbishop in 1977, Monsignor Oscar Romero worked tirelessly for peace, justice and human rights while in constant personal peril. Using the power of the pulpit to denounce official corruption, he inspired millions with his nationally broadcast sermons, until 24th March 1980 when he was shot dead at the altar.

Archbishop Romero’s contribution to human rights protection has been acknowledged by the United Nations General Assembly, which, on 21 December 2010, proclaimed 24 March as the International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. By proposing this day, the UN urged the world to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and to promote the importance of the right to truth and justice; to pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all; and to recognize, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador.

– charles irudayam

Good Friday: 26th Annual Way of The Cross Dramatised

March 25, 2013 by  
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Prayers from The Indian Chaplaincy of the Holy Land for Good Friday Stations of the Cross

Mumbai: The Live Musical Drama Acted Out on the Streets – Pass the word on…

Good Friday: Walking Pilgrimage Starts from Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz West – 10.30 am

Every Station is Musical with Sing-a-Along
Experience the First Good Friday in a small way
Pray, Fast and Suffer – a bit. Out of your comfort zone.
Witness, Evangelize & Proclaim the Suffering & Death of Jesus

The 26th Annual Good Friday Dramatic Stations of the Cross Walking Pilgrimage along from Sacred Heart Church, Santacruz West along the streets of Santacruz to Kalina and concluding near St. Charles School, Vakola. More info below. Do get in touch for support and assistance.

Blessings & Respect,

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Dias

Good Friday


The non-flying Falcon…….

March 23, 2013 by  
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Peregrine FalconsOnce there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons from Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be trained.

Months passed and one day the head falconer informed the king that though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had arrived.

The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having tried everything else, the king thought to himself, “May be I need someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of this problem.” So he cried out to his court, “Go and get a farmer.”In the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high above the palace gardens. He said to his court, “Bring me the doer of this miracle.”

The court quickly located the farmer, who came and stood before the king. The king asked him, “How did you make the falcon fly?”

Peregrine FalconsWith head bowed, the farmer said to the king, ” It was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird was sitting.”

We are all made to fly  to realize our incredible potential as human beings. But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to the things that are familiar to us. The possibilities are endless, but for most of us, they remain undiscovered. We conform to the familiar, the comfortable, the mundane. So for the most part, our lives are mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and fulfilling. So let us learn to destroy the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to the glory of flight.

– fwd: antoinette

Egypt religious police: latest move towards Islamic state

March 23, 2013 by  
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The Arab Spring has not brought about the freedom promisedEgypt, March 14, 2013: The announcement of a religious police force to uphold Muslim morals in Egypt is the latest chilling sign of the country’s move towards becoming an Islamic state.The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, an informal group, shares its name with the much-feared religious police (“mutawaah”) in Saudi Arabia, though it insists it will operate differently.

At a press conference last week, the committee’s founder, Hisham el-Ashri, said:We have absolutely no relationship with the ‘morality’ committees in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Somalia or Nigeria. We will only offer advice to those who want to listen. We shall have no business with people who refuse to listen to us.

One may question why the group chose the same name as the Saudi mutawaah if it genuinely is of a different character. And though el-Ashri has tried to make the committee sound benign and respectable, insisting that it will not use violence, it has sparked alarm in Egyptian civil society. Opponents fear that the Islamists will abuse their position and force people, especially women, to, as one Egyptian activist put it, “act in stupid conservative ways”.There are concerns also for the country’s minority Christian community, who could be subjected to the indiscriminate enforcement of sharia law. El-Ashri stated bluntly in a television interview, “There is no such thing as a Christian religion”.


People’s fears appear to be well-founded. Although the committee officially announced itself only last week, vigilante Salafist gangs have been operating as self-appointed morality police in Egypt for some months. These men have claimed to be part of a Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice; they reportedly wear white cloaks and carry canes to beat violators.There have been a number of reports of their raiding shops and harassing staff and customers. Shop owners were told not to sell “indecent” clothing, barbers no longer to shave men’s beards; customers were ordered to cover up and were threatened with severe punishment if they did not comply.At Christmas, the Salafists destroyed Christmas trees and decorations in shopping centres, declaring that celebrating the Christian festival was “haram” (forbidden).

Opponents fear the imposition of the veil on womenThe behaviour of these Islamic morality enforcers is highly reminiscent of their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, who ruthlessly apply the regime’s hardline interpretation of what is forbidden and permitted under sharia. Their duties include preventing a man and woman who are not married or related from being alone together, calling people to prayer and ensuring women wear the veil.The enforcement of sharia law in such an aggressive manner seems a far cry from the calls for freedom that characterised the “Arab Spring”. Yet to some extent it is even happening in Tunisia, where that tumultuous movement began at the end of 2010.There, a self-appointed “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice” was given legal status by the government around a year ago. And as in Egypt, there have been reports of Salafists verbally and physically attacking women not dressed in a manner deemed sufficiently modest.


Since the revolution, Egypt has been moving steadily forward along the road towards the establishment of an Islamic state. The success of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party in the general election and subsequent victory of their presidential candidate, Mohammad Morsi, paved the way.The Islamists were able to use their political dominance to push through a new constitution at the end of last year that gives Muslim clerics a role in ensuring that legislation complies with sharia law.

The tentacles of sharia are gradually tightening their grip on Egyptian society with stifling consequences, especially for Christians.Last month, two Christian boys were convicted of “showing contempt for Islam” for allegedly desecrating pages of the Quran. Nabil Farag and Mina Risq were aged just 9 and 10 at the time of the alleged incident on 30 September 2012. They were accused of tearing up and urinating on pages of the Quran in the village of Ezbat Marco. The youngsters were found guilty despite evidence being produced in court that they are illiterate and therefore not able to identify Quranic text.Thankfully Nabil and Mina were not penalised by the court; they were remanded to the custody of their parents. But this conviction is likely to cast a dark cloud over their young lives as Egypt becomes increasingly Islamised. They may face discrimination or even violence for having this crime against their names. And the case sends a clear and disturbing message to Christians that not even the most vulnerable and innocent in their community will be protected against criminal proceedings, even after only the most insubstantial accusation of a perceived offence against Islam.

Their place in the country is becoming more and more precarious. During a recent interview, Dr Mahmoud Shu’ban, a professor at Al Azhar University, the country’s most authoritative Islamic centre, said that Egyptian Christians will have to pay the jizya. This is a humiliating tax imposed on Christians and Jews in Islamic states that “buys” them a level of protection to practise their faith within certain restrictions.Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

It is a truly distressing and dangerous time for Christians in Egypt as their homeland turns inexorably into an Islamic state. Islamists who gained power in the wake of the Arab Spring have tried to deny that this is their ultimate agenda, but it is becoming increasingly apparent where the country is heading. Secular liberal opponents of these developments in Egypt, of whom there are many, must take a strong stance before the freedoms that they cried out for in the revolution are swallowed up by sharia.

– barnabas team

Nigerian suicide bombers target Christians; at least 41 dead

March 23, 2013 by  
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At least 41 people were killed in a suicide bomb attack at a bus station in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in Kano, Northern Nigeria.

Kano has been the site of previous Boko Haram attacksNigeria, March 21, 2013: Two suicide bombers rammed a car packed with explosives into the station in Sabon Gari at around 5pm on Monday (18 March). It set off a series of explosions, and the blast engulfed five buses, leaving a trail of carnage.

The initial death toll was given by police as 22, but a rescue official later said that 20 bodies had been taken to one hospital and 21 to another. It may rise further, as around 65 people were wounded in the attack.

Sabon Gari is a Christian enclave in a predominantly Muslim commercial centre. It is home to many Christians from the South, and the bus station is primarily used by passengers heading in that direction.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it bears the hallmark of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has been waging a violent campaign against Christians and other targets in Northern Nigeria.

The Christian Association of Nigeria said on Tuesday (19 March) that recent attacks “were a signpost of the intended extermination of Christians and Christianity from northern Nigeria”.

– barnabus team

Bishops demand Easter holiday. The CSF memo to PM & FM too

March 23, 2013 by  
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Tax offices due to stay open over Easter weekend.

EasterNew Delhi, March 21, 2013: India’s Catholic bishops have demanded that the government observes Sunday March 31 as the Easter holiday.

The federal government earlier this week directed income tax department offices to open over both days of the Easter weekend, as March 31 is the deadline for tax returns for the past financial year to be filed.

Returns filed after the closing date may attract a penalty.

Archbishop Albert D’Souza, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said the bishops expect the government to “do whatever possible to avoid hurting the religious sentiments of the community in India.”

He described Easter as “the most important and the central feast of the Christian religion” and added that income tax department may have “a specific reason to declare a working day on Easter, but the Christian community in India has more specific reason to request the government to defer the last day of filing the returns.”

Federal governments in the past have rescheduled government examinations that fell on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. “We hope that the same propriety will be shown in this case also,” Archbishop D’Souza said.

Talking to, deputy secretary general Father Joseph Chinnayan pointed out that there is still more than a week left until Easter. “We should wait for the government’s response and not rush to a conclusion,” he said.

– ucanews

Jacobites launch protest against Kerala government

March 23, 2013 by  
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Nearly 30 Jacobite bishops and over a hundred clergymen from across the state began a sit-in.

Jacobite bishopsKerala, March 18, 2013: Bishops and clergymen from the Jacobite group of the Malankara Church protested against the atrocities on them by the police and failure to reopen churches that were closed to them.

Nearly 30 Jacobite bishops and over a hundred clergymen from across the state began a sit-in yesterday over the issues.

Jacobite Episcopal Synod secretary Joseph Mar Gregorios said the government’s approach to was biased and it was up to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to prove that he was not influenced by the ‘machinations’ of the Orthodox group to which he belonged.

He said that the recent police action on Jacobites, including women and children at several places in the State, making even a funeral a riot spot, was proof of this.

The churches that were closed following disputes between the two groups should be opened to Jacobites, he said.

He alleged that if government had the will to ensure the rule of law, it could actually settle the issue in 24 hours.

However, the discussions held with the government were far from satisfactory, he added.

The group’s Central Europe Metropolitan Kuriakose Mar Theophilose and others also addressed the protest.

Prominent persons of the group, who said their stance had received support from the Catholic Church, the Indian Union Muslim League, the Nair Service Society, and the SNDP added that they were open to discussions with any of these groups as mediators as well.


– the hindu

Christian villagers beaten in Orissa

March 23, 2013 by  
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Orissa MapOrissa, March 21, 2013: Christian villagers in Orissa state, India, were abused and tortured by police, who barged into their homes in the middle of the night.The incident in Phatachanchara village in Ganjam district happened on 15 February. Around 60 police officers surrounded the village at 2.30am and then forced entry to the Christians’ homes. One of them stepped on the hand of a four-year-old boy, causing a fracture.

Hearing the commotion, Pastor Jahaya Mandal came forward, and the police started to interrogate him about his ministry. Church deacon Korneil Roita was called for, and he was subsequently tied to a tree and beaten severely. Other Christians were also tied to trees and physically assaulted. When one of them shouted, “O God, O Jesus, Alleluia, Alleluia,” the police officers were enraged and began beating the Christians even more brutally, causing severe injuries.

At 6.30am, the police led six Christians, including the pastor and deacon, into the jungle with their hands tied. They were forced to walk barefoot over thorny and rocky ground for four kilometers, which caused their feet to bleed. After a short rest, the Christians were then taken to another village 12 kilometers from their own, where they were left in a very bad state.Christians in India are vulnerable to violent attacks, usually at the hands of Hindu extremists. While the police often fail to intervene and apprehend the offenders, they are rarely the perpetrators of violence against Christians.

In a separate incident, a young Christian preacher and musician, Mark Sapdi, was shot outside a Christian convention at Philadelphia Church in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh on 19 January. He was sitting under a tree with some friends when he felt something like a stone hit his waist.Mark was in pain but did not initially realise that he had been shot. He was feverish for the next two or three days, but the pain gradually subsided. It later returned much more severely, and he went to hospital, where an x-ray revealed a bullet near his hip bone. Mark underwent surgery to remove the bullet, which was from an AK 47 gun.


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