Archbishop Romero remembered in Delhi

March 26, 2014 by  
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Mass at Sacred Heart CathedralNew Delhi, March 26, 2014: Diplomats and officials joined Catholics in New Delhi Cathedral to remember Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador as a champion of justice and peace on the 34 anniversary of his assassination.

At the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Archbishop Emeritus Vincent Concessao invited the congregation to emulate the example of the archbishop’s heroic life and faith.

In a milieu of exploitation, oppression and violent repression that was orchestrated by the rich and the powerful, Archbishop Romero led a life of solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable, and advocated justice and non-violence, said Archbishop Concessao.

He lauded Archbishop Romero’s appeal to the El Salvadorian armed forces to give precedence to the law of God over their superiors’ orders to kill.

The mass and gathering on March 24 commemorated the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s assassination. The Romero day observance was organized by that the Office for Justice Peace and Development of the Catholic bishops, along with the El Salvadorian Embassy in New Delhi. They have organized such a day since 2011.

El Salvadorian ambassador to India Gigermo Rubio welcomed the gathering including diplomats from various other embassies.

Fr Charles Irudayam, secretary of the CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development, recalled that Archbishop was assassinated because he was a prophetic witness to Gospel values.

He hoped that the commemoration of Archbishop Romero’s martyrdom would foster in the people a passionate commitment to the cause of justice.

In 1997 he was bestowed made a Servant of God, opening a cause for his beatification and canonization.

– cbci office for jpd

Communist party: Modi, a Nazi who lies to the people

March 26, 2014 by  
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Jacobite Church head praises ModiNew Delhi, March 25, 2014: The so-called Gujarat model of economic development free of ethnic and religious tensions is a “big lie”, a mantra of Nazi propaganda by Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), this according to two promiment members of Communist Party of India (CPI-Marxist), Brinda Karat, the first woman elected to the Politburo, and Arun Mehta, CPM secretary in Gujarat.

The two CPI-M leaders spoke yesterday at the launch of two booklets based on National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data.

Titled Defeat BJP Defend Secularism and No To The Gujarat Model, the two studies try to explain how the election campaign by three-time Gujarat Chief Minister Modi and current BJP prime ministerial candidate rests on groundless claims.

NSSO data show that, contrary to widespread belief, the state’s much vaunted wealth and development do not exist.

“The so-called Gujarat model is based on cheap labour and its exploitation, very low expenditure on consumption, very high malnutrition, very high school dropout rates and very low expenditure on education and healthcare,” Brinda Karat explained.

In fact, on the issue of development, she noted that according to NSSO records, 90 per cent of people in rural areas of Gujarat spent only 75 rupees (US$ 1.25) per day on food and essentials.

The state’s dropout rate was as high as 58 per cent, whilst the employment rate grew by 0.4 per cent, far less than the national average.

In other words, for her, “The so-called Gujarat model is only for the corporates and not the people”.

For his part, Arun Mehta demolished one of Modi’s propaganda myths, namely that everyone has power all day long across the state.

In reality, “In rural Gujarat, power supply is not [available] for more than six hours,” he said, and “121,000 applications for power connection” have been “pending for five years”.

– asianews

Delhi Christians see AAP an alternative

March 26, 2014 by  
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Arvind KejriwalNew Delhi, March 25, 2014: Some sections of Christians in Delhi region are now looking at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as an alternative to Congress to voice their concerns in the national parliament.

Christians, a miniscule minority who traditionally supported the Congress party, have approached AAP for a meeting with senior party leaders and national convener Arvind Kejriwal to discuss issues and understand the party’s view on the minority community.

Pastor M M Singh of the New Cavalry Church in South Extension met party volunteers at Kejriwal’s Tilak Lane residence last Tuesday. Pastor Singh believes the former Delhi chief minister is a “good human being” and “wants to change the society” by removing “corruption” and “fighting against corrupt people”.

“I have spoken to other pastors in Delhi and all of us want to hold prayers for Kejriwal so that he has power of God to fight and succeed in the polls,” he said.

Pastor Singh says they are open to supporting Kejriwal. Most Christians believe they’ve been taken for a ride by the ruling Congress-led UPA government as their long pending demand for providing Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians has not been met.

And, they see the BJP as a non-secular party.

Father Dominic Emmanuel, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, says the community is now more conscious about politics and ready to explore other alternatives like newer regional parties.

“In churches we never tell followers to vote for a specific candidate or party. We tell them they should vote for someone who is secular, believes in freedom of religion, is open to social change and does not impose forced conversion,” said Father Emmanuel, hinting that AAP could be such an option.

AAP leaders are individually reaching out to all communities to garner support ahead of polls. The party has given Lok Sabha tickets to a sizeable number of Muslims but not many Christians have applied for the same.

“We are a secular party and many religious communities have approached us and pledged to support AAP in the polls for they want change and we are giving them an alternative,” said an AAP leader.

– new indian express

Legal hurdles over Catholico’s trip to Damascus cleared

March 26, 2014 by  
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Patriarch Ignatius ZakkaKochi, March 25, 2014: Legal hurdles have been cleared for Catholicos Baselios Thomas I’s trip to Damascus to attend the funeral services of Ignatius Zakka- I, the supreme head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, who passed away last week.

The trip had been put in trouble after the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Kolenchery, rejected the application to release the passport of the prelate, against whom there the court had earlier issued an arrest warrant. The passport of the Catholicos was surrendered following the arrest warrant issued against him by the court on petitions alleging fund misappropriation.

“The passport has been released on Monday following an application. The Catholicos will leave for Damascus as early as possible,” said Church authorities. Patriarch Zakka I died in Germany on Friday and the funeral is scheduled to be held in Damascus on Friday.

As per the protocol of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Catholicos Baselios Thomas I holds highest office after the patriarch. Therefore he is the prelate who is to preside over the funeral and the election of new patriarch thereafter. A 40-member delegation comprising priests, bishops and laymen will accompany the Catholicos.

– new indian express


Pope Francis expresses sorrow for the death of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas

Vatican, March 23, 2014: Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolences to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antionch and all the East upon the death of Patriarch Ignatius Zakka Iwas who passed away in a German hospital on March 21, at the age of 80.
In his message, the Pope describes the Patriarch as “an outstanding spiritual leader who corageously led his people through very difficult times”.

Please find below the full text of the Pope’s message:
To the Locum Tenens Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East
With deep sorrow I have learned of the passing of His Holiness Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, father and chief pastor of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, and I hasten to express to you, to the Bishops, clergy and lay faithful, my personal condolences and the prayerful closeness of all Catholics at this time of deeply-felt loss. The whole Christian world has lost one of its outstanding spiritual leaders, courageous and wise in leading people through very difficult times.

Following his election ad Patriarch in 1980 His Holiness was an engaged witness of the successive violent conflicts that have brought untold death and suffering to the Middle East, especially to Iraq and most recently Syria. His Holiness was a man of dialogue and peace with regard to the followers of all religious traditions. In particular I give heartfelt thanks to God for his constant work to improve relations among Christians and, from the time he attended the Second Vatican Council as an observer, for his extraordinary contribution to strengthening communion between Syrian Orthodox Christians and the Catholic faithful.

May the Almighty receive him into his kingdom and grant him eternal rest, and may the memory of his long and devoted service to the Church live on as a challenge and a stimulus to all.


Small Story. Big Moral

March 25, 2014 by  
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shopOnce a boy went to a shop with his mother. The shop keeper looked at the small cute child and showed him a bottle with sweets and said ‘ Dear Child.. you can take the sweets… ‘ but the child didn’t take them.

The shop keeper was surprised… such a small child he is and why was he not taking the sweets from the bottle.

Again he said ‘ Child take some sweets… ‘ Now the child’s mother also heard it and said… ‘ son take the sweets… ‘. Yet he didn’t take any sweets.

sweetsThe shopkeeper seeing the child not taking the sweets, he himself took the sweets and gave them to the child.

The child was happy to get two hands full of sweets. When returned home, mother asked child, ‘ Why didn’t you take the sweets, when the shop keeper told you to.

Can you guess the response?
Child replied – ‘ Mom! my hands are very small and if I took the sweets, I could only take few. But now you see, when the shopkeeper uncle gave them to me with his big hands, see how many more sweets I got!
When we take we may get little, but when God gives…
HE gives us much beyond our expectations…. more than what we can hold….

The Lord says – I have come to give you life and life in all its abundance – an overflowing cup of blessings.




– fwd: valliamannil mathews

N. Nigeria: 100 killed in attacks on 3 Christian villages

March 25, 2014 by  
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nigeriaAfrica, March 18, 2014: At least 119 people were killed in attacks on three Christian villages in Kaduna state, NorthernNigeria; the villages were razed to the ground as hundreds of homes and some churches were set ablaze.

The onslaught by scores of ethnic Fulani Muslim herdsmen armed with guns and machetes started on Friday night (14 March) and continued into the early hours of Saturday.

Gideon Bughu (45), a survivor from Ugwar Sankwai village, told Nigerian newspaper Sunday Vanguard:

They fired into homes. As women and children scampered to escape, they were shot and later cut with machetes. They then set our homes on fire. If you stayed inside, you were burnt. If you run out, they shoot at you.

The official death toll stood at 119 on Sunday (16 March), but local sources suggested it could be as high as 200.

Only a handful of properties in Ugwar Sankwai and the other two targeted villages, Ungwar Gata and Chenshyi, were left standing. Residents said that they suspected chemical substances were used in the attacks.

The violence displaced hundreds of people, many of whom are sheltering in a primary school. The farming communities’ food supplies were looted.

Christians in Kaduna state have come under repeated attack in recent months. At the end of January, a Christian family of seven was murdered, and in November, at least 11 people werekilled in a suicide bombing at a church inside a military barracks.

Kaduna Governor Mukhtar Yero said:
This ugly situation is unacceptable, and we will step up efforts to improve surveillance and curtail future occurrence. We pray that God would expose the people that are causing this problem. We pray that God would touch their hearts to stop such dastardly acts or destroy their evil machinations.

Fulani Muslim herdsmen are also attacking Christians elsewhere in Nigeria. Earlier this month, at least 16 were killed in a raid on a number of villages in Plateau state in the Middle Belt. Musa Gunduma Dang lost his entire family – wife, four children, mother and three other relatives – and his home, which was set ablaze, in the attack. Around 200 houses as well as churche

– barnabas team

Iran: Christians arrested at picnic – UN rights report

March 25, 2014 by  
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Dr Ahmed ShaheedIran, March 18, 2014: Eight Iranian Christians were rounded up during a social picnic and subjected to interrogation, as a new UN report raised “serious concern” about the state of human rights in the country.

Amin Khaki, Hossein Barunzadeh, Hossein Etemadifar, Rahman Bahman, Mohammad Bahrami, Saiede Rahimi, Fatemeh Bagheri and Amineh Moalla were arrested near the city of Shush-e-Daniel on 5 March.

They were taken away, blindfolded and interrogated for several hours by armed intelligence and security agents. Most of the group was subsequently released, but three, Amin Khaki, Hossein Barunzadeh and Rahman Bahman, were held.

The arrests came as Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, released his latest report. At a press conference in Geneva on 14 March, Dr Shaheed said:

I report with deep regret that despite overtures and announcements emanating from the newly elected Iranian government, and perhaps even in spite of modest attempts to take steps towards reform, the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic ofIran remains of serious concern.

The report says that as of January, at least 49 Christians were detained in Iran, and that in 2013 alone, at least 42 Christians were arrested, 35 of whom were convicted for participation in “house churches”, association with churches outside Iran, perceived or real evangelical activity, and other standard Christian activities; they were sentenced to between one and ten years’ imprisonment. Christians most commonly prosecuted are converts from Islam or those who evangelise or minister to Iranian Muslims.

Dr Shaheed called for the unconditional release of individuals imprisoned for exercising peacefully their rights to expression, association, assembly, belief and religion.

The report is critical of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s proposed charter of citizens’ rights, which it says fails to address laws and policies that discriminate against religious minorities and insufficiently addresses discrimination against women; it also fails to address the use of cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment, including flogging, hanging, stoning and amputation, and concerns about the use of capital punishment.

The draft charter is problematic because it frames rights within the context of the country’s existing legal framework, which, the report says, has been “a source of concern for the United Nations human rights machinery for decades”.

The election of the so-called “moderate” President Rouhani in June 2013 was hailed with optimism and expectations of change. He had promised to uphold justice and civil rights and to release political prisoners; 80 were set free ahead of his address at the UN General Assembly in September, but hundreds continue to languish in jail.

Despite the lack of significant progress in Iran, Dr Shaheed, who has asked for talks with the Iranian government, expressed confidence that improvements were possible:

The road ahead is long and bumpy, but with cooperation and determination, I believe that real change can still occur.

– barnabas team

Discrimination in India: Christians are 6 percent of the prison population

March 25, 2014 by  
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DiscriminationMumbai, March 21, 2014: The high number of prison inmates from socio-religious minorities “is due to the attitude of some states, which target the most vulnerable sections of society,” said Arun Ferreira, an activist for Christian Dalits and tribals, who spoke to AsiaNews following the release of the 2012 Prison Statistics report by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB).

According to the report, Muslims, who are 13.4 per cent of India’s population, represented 28.02 per cent of the prison population in 2012. Christians are in the same situation. Nationally, they are 2.3 per cent of the population but they constitute 6 per cent of the prison population.

For the activist, “We get these percentages because Dalits, Tribals, Muslims and Christians are often the victims of loopholes and sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Ferreira should know. He personally experience what it means to be behind bars. Accused of being a Naxalite (Maoist) guerrilla, he was arrested in May 2007 in Nagpur (Maharashtra) and indicted on 11 charges, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

During his detention, he was tortured and interrogated twice after being treated with a “truth serum,” a psychoactive drug that is now illegal. After four years and eight months in jail, he was released on bail.

“My experience in prison is that every state tends to target minorities, showing some of its specific features,” Ferreira told AsiaNews.

“In states where Hinduism is strong, like Orissa (where the effects of anti-Christian pogroms still linger), many innocent Christians have been arrested and thrown in prison, falsely accused of being Naxalites. However, the same thing happened in Gujarat after the 2002 riots.”

“In Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which are also under strong Hindu influence, the authorities have overtly attacked the Christian community, treating its members as the ‘criminal’ element in the Dalit and Tribal groups.”

All too often, Christians fall into the clutches of the justice system on false evidence because they back causes that embarrass the authorities.

“In Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, some tribal Christians were arrested on false accusations of terrorism,” Ferreira noted, “when in fact the problem was their struggle against large-scale mining projects that required huge tracts of land to be expropriated.”

The same is true for Tamil Nadu, where Christians have been charged with ‘subversion’ for opposing the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

“Sadly, neither the government nor the NCRB recognise political prisoners as a separate category, so there are no statistics about it.”

– asianews

MP: Operation Mobilization (OM) Evangelists Arrested

March 25, 2014 by  
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persecution in madya pradeshMadya Pradesh, March 24, 2014: On Saturday evening, 22-03-2014, two Evangelists, Bro. Sonjit and Bro. Simson from Operation Mobilization (OM), were showing a Jesus movie in a believer’s house in the city of Morena, Morena District, Madhya Pradesh, where a few Christians had gathered for a prayer meeting.

The Hindu fundamentalists who came to know about the prayer meeting lodged a complaint at the Morena Police Station, alleging that some Christians were forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.

The police immediately visited the house and arrested the two evangelists, Bro. Sonjit and Bro. Samson and took them to the police station. After detaining them in the police station for a couple hours and conducting a proper investigation they found that the two evangelists were innocent and so they released them at about 10.00 p.m. Please pray for them.


Church college reinstates lecturer whose hand was chopped off

March 25, 2014 by  
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T J JosephKochi, March 24, 2014: The Newman College in Thodupuzha, run by Kothamangalam diocese in Kerala, has decided to reinstate lecturer T J Joseph on humanitarian grounds before the date of his retirement on March 31.

The move comes after his distressed wife committed suicide after the college reportedly informed Joseph that it will not reinstate him. If the fails to reinstate Joseph, he will miss much of his retirement benefits.

Joseph was dismissed from the college after his hand was chopped off by Muslim extremists in July 2010.

Without a job, Joseph’s family was pushed into dire financial straits and unable to take it any longer his wife Salomi committed suicide on Wednesday.

The order to reinstate Joseph, issued within three days of her death, states that it will be “subject to the approval of the Government and MG University”.

Joseph said he was sad that his wife wasn’t there to share this happy development with him.

– toi

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