Christian becomes telangana’s Deputy Chief Minister

June 24, 2014 by  
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Thatikonda RajaiahIndia, June 23, 2014: Thatikonda Rajaiah, a Catholic by faith, has taken charge as the Deputy Chief Minister of the new formed state of Telangana in Southern India. He is also the Minister of Health and Education.

The Bishops of the Episcopal Council of Andhra Pradesh sent him a congratulatory message, assuring him of support through prayer.

T Rajaiah belongs to the Dalit community. He was educated in the Catholic Mission of Telangana by the PIME fathers. Rajaiah has paid great attention to social problems, the marginalized, religious minorities in his political commitment.

The Council of Bishops had earlier sent a Memorandum to the government of the new state. The document reminded that “the Church in Telangana, although a minority, contributes to 25% of social services in education, health and social services, particularly for the poorest and the weakest”.

The Memorandum also asked to cancel discrimination that the Dalit Christians suffer; to continue to subsidize the educational institutions run by the Church; to remove the ban on spreading one’s religion and guaranteeing freedom of religion, and to take steps to prevent communal violence.

The Bishops also invited the executive of the new state to financially support the efforts that the Church carries out in providing relief for the sick, street children, the homeless, the unemployed, the disabled, drug addicts and inattending to the prison pastoral, the rights of children and women’s empowerment.

– agenzia fides

Sr. Mary Vas, CFMFS recipient of the pro – ecclesia et pontifice medal. Highest medal awarded to laity and the religious by the papacy.

June 24, 2014 by  
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Sr. MaryMumbai, June 21, 2014: The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (Latin: For the Church and the Pope) medal is an award of the Roman Catholic Church. It is also known as the “Cross of Honor”. The medal was instituted by Pope Leo XIII (July 17, 1888. “Quod Singulari”) in memory of his golden sacerdotal jubilee.

It is currently given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and the religious. It is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity and the religious by the Papacy.

On Saturday June 21 2014, a Mass of thanksgiving was celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio and concelebrated by Rev. Msgr. Romanus Mbena, Rev. Msgr. Marco Sprizzi, Rev. Fr. Dr. Charles Vas, (Brother of Sr. Mary Vas and Director of Sangeet Abhinay Academy, Mumbai) and Rev. Fr. Royal Anthony (Education Director Catholic Diocese of Bareilly) at the Chapel of the Nunciature New Delhi.

During the year the Nuncio petitioned the Holy See to bestow upon Sr. Mary the Papal Honor, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, “In recognition of her effective and distinguished service to the Nunciature, New Delhi, India”.  By the act of decree and medal, “The Holy See has recognized her extraordinary service to the Church and her generosity of mind and heart in sharing her many gifts and talents to the nunciature for 23 long years”.

The current version of the medal is awarded in golden.  The obverse depicts the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  On the left arm of the cross is the inscription pro Ecclesia (For the Church), on the right arm of the cross is Et Pontifice (And Pope).  At the point of the bottom arm of the cross is the coat of arms of the reigning pope His Holiness Pope Francis I.  At the points of the other arms are the small Greek crosses.

Sr. Mary Vas, with her maiden name Cecilia, was born at Omzoor, in the diocese of Mangalore in December 1935.  She is the daughter of Late Mr. Jacob Vas and Late Mrs. Seraphine Pereira Vas.  She comes from a family of 5 children – 3 girls and 2 boys.  Amongst them, three are religious viz. Rev. Fr. Charles Vas SVD, Mumbai, Sr. Mary Vas CFMFS, Delhi and Late Sr. Josephine Vas PDDM.  Amongst the other two, one is a teacher viz. Mrs. Stella D’Souza, Mangalore and the youngest one is a renowned Lawyer of the Bombay High Court viz. Mr. Pius Vas, Mumbai. After completing her High School studies in Mangalore, Sr. Mary joined CFMFS in Delhi in 1955.  She went to Italy in 1981 and studied Music for six years and stayed there for another three years. On returning to India she joined the Nunciature in February 1991 and has given her service for a long period of 23 years.

Sister Mary remarked that she was quite surprised when she received the news of the award.  She thanked the Nuncio for the same.  She owed her gratitude to the sisters of the congregation who have always walked with her and especially her parents and family members for all that they mean to her.

The other distinguished guests present for the function included Mr. Pius Vas (Advocate, Bombay High Court), his son Mr. Jason Vas (Solicitor), the niece and nephew of Sr. Mary viz.  Ms. Emmy Vas and Mr. Sunil D’Souza respectively.  Also present were Mrs. Shanti D’Souza, Mrs. Lucy and Mr. Peter Gabriel with their respective families.  Also present for the occasion were other Sisters of the Community of Sr. Mary, her Provincial Sr. Ivy and Superior Sr. Lincy.

Mr. Pius Vas, the youngest brother of Sr. Mary spoke during the felicitation programme and expressed his gratitude to the Holy See and the Nuncio and heartfelt wishes to Sr. Mary.  He recollected the humble beginnings of the family and beautifully expressed as to how the parish from where the family began viz. Holy Family Church has become a reality in the life of the Vas Family, all because of the good works and pious life led by their parents.  The speech was so touching that it made the whole atmosphere in the library of the Nunciature very emotional.

– rons bantwal

Indian IB against Greepeace: A threat to national economy?

June 24, 2014 by  
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GreenpeaceMumbai, June 12, 2014: Greenpeace India and NGOs in the country are “a threat to national economic security, with a negative impact on economic development”, an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report said. Dated June 3rd, the 21 page document has been submitted to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The IB’s report picks on foreign-funded NGOs, with allegations of “stir up protests against nuclear and coal plants”.

The environmental group replied immediately. “We have a legitimate right to express our views in what is after all the world’s largest democracy,” the organization noted in an official statement. “We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth.”

The IB’s report criticize Greenpeace and NGO’s supported demonstrations against nuclear and coal plants. The environmental group support renewable energy and is against destroying India’s forests to access the coal underneath.

AsiaNews spoke to Jesuit Fr. Prakash Louis sj, Director of Indian Social Institute (Bangalore). “There are many more serious issues that the IB should have been concerned about”, he said, “especially the safety and security of the citizens of this country.”

Fr Louis, former Director at Patna Jesuit Educational Organisation, was also Director of Jesuit Refugee Service South Asia and worked in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan: “In the same manner the present government should have invested its time and resources in seeing, observing and understanding the fundamental issues that affect the citizens of the country. Moreover, it should have tried to respond to the needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable.”

Fr. Louis is the author of the book “Rights of the Minorities in India”. Talking about the new government, he explains to AsiaNews: “The citizens of this country believed to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s promises made during the election campaign. I mean controlling the spiraling price rise, open up avenues for labour for the rural masses, check the violence done to women, concentrate on quality education for those who are deprive of this, revamp agriculture, ensure the rights and dignity of the Dalits, Tribals, minorities, women and children, address the aspirations of the youth who wanted change in governance. Though some priorities have been spelt out, nothing much in terms of hopeful signs has been made.”

In the light of this, the IB’s report “sets suspicion in the minds of the people, instead of more positive and development oriented programs”, fr. Louis added. “If this line of action is pursued it would lead to clamping on the liberty of the citizens for free expression and free movements and right to form and be associated with organizations. Thus both fundamental and constitutional rights would be violated. Further, the poor and the marginalized who benefit from the works of the NGOs would be deprived of that support.” (NC)

– asianews

Sudan: Woman sentenced to death for apostasy freed

June 24, 2014 by  
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Meriam after her releaseJohannesburg, June 24, 2014: A Christian woman in Sudan sentenced to death last month for apostasy – or renunciation of her faith – was released on Monday after her conviction was overturned by Khartoum’s appeal court, according to her lawyer.

The appeal court on Monday ordered Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s release after hearing her appeal, according to Sudan’s official news agency, SUNA. Her lawyer, Mohamed Mustafa Elnour, said she had been released, Reuters news service reported.

Ibrahim, 27, recently gave birth to her second child in Omdurman’s women’s prison from her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American Christian from South Sudan. She was jailed in February with her first child, Martin, after a family member reported her to the authorities over her marriage to a non-Muslim.

A court convicted Ibrahim last month and sentenced her to death by hanging for apostasy, even though she insisted she had been raised a Christian by her Ethiopian Christian mother and had never been a Muslim. The court also ruled her 2011 marriage to Wani invalid and sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery.

The conviction and sentences were condemned by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Western governments including the United States and Britain, with calls for Sudan to guarantee freedom of religion.

In Sudan, abandoning Islam to convert to Christianity or another faith is an offence punishable by death under the country’s 1991 penal code. The court gave Ibrahim a chance to renounce her Christianity in order to avoid the death sentence, but she refused to do so.

According to Ibrahim, her father was a Muslim but played no role in her upbringing after leaving the family when she was six. But in Sudan, children are supposed to be brought up in their father’s faith. In her initial court hearing, Ibrahim’s lawyers presented witnesses who testified that she was a regular churchgoer.

Conditions in the women’s prison were harsh, with reports that Ibrahim was in chains in her cell. She gave birth to her second child in the jail’s hospital wing.

Mr Elnour, her attorney, told Reuters that she had been sent to a safe location after her release in fear for her safety.

“Her family had been threatened before, and we are worried that someone might try to harm her,” he said.

Ibrahim’s second child, a daughter, was born shortly after the death penalty was handed down. The court ruled that she would be allowed to care for the baby for two years, then the death penalty would be carried out.

– sydney morning herald

Barnabas Edit: Any hope of return for Syria & Iraq’s Christians?

June 23, 2014 by  
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Iraq, Syria, June 20, 2014: I recently returned from a short visit to Syria, where I had the great privilege of being able to worship with Syrian Christians at a special church event. Despite suffering the ravages and deprivation of war for over three years, there was a vibrancy, a hope and joy, which were almost tangible, in their praise.

christians in syriaAnd who could need hope and joy more than Syrian Christians in 2014? Their country was formerly stable and secure, a place of refuge for Christians fleeing anti-Christian violence in other countries of the region, a place where Christians were respected as equals by the Muslim majority in a way that is probably unique in the 21st century. But since 2010 at least 160,000 people have been killed in the civil war and some six or seven million people have left their homes and are either refugees in neighbouring countries or internally displaced within Syria. Amongst them are many Christians.

Islamist rebels have focused their violence especially on the Christians, their church buildingsand their church leaders. Where possible they have imposed sharia law locally. The inventive gruesomeness and cruelty of some of the killings seem deliberately designed to intimidate the Christian community. Lest there should be any doubt that Syria’s two million Christians are no longer wanted there, many have been offered a four-fold choice by the rebels: convert to Islam, pay the traditional  Islamic jizya tax (a sign of non-Muslim submission as second-class citizens), leave, or be killed. It is small wonder that hundreds of thousands have left their homes. Leaving their jobs behind them, they soon use up their savings, and become effectively destitute.

Even the Christian village of Maarat Saydnaya, which I visited, was safe only because its men set up check-points and defended it. Like all Christian communities, it was a rebel target. Just ten miles away lies the ancient Christian village of Maaloula, famous for the fact that its people have continued to speak a version of Aramaic, the language of Jesus, as their mother-tongue. Last year the village was attacked by Islamist rebels, and its churches and their holy items were deliberately desecrated. People were killed, nuns were kidnapped, and virtually the whole population fled.

Strife in SyriaI asked many of the Syrian Christians how they saw the future. Hoping against hope, some clung to the idea that things could return to how they had been. “When we go back,” said one couple from Aleppo several times as they described the plans they had for returning home from Lebanon and getting on with their lives again one day in Syria’s largest city. Yet Aleppo, which vies with Damascus for the title of the longest continuously inhabited city in the world, has been virtually destroyed by rebel mortars, and hundreds of thousands of its people, including many Christians, are living under medieval-style siege conditions, desperately short of food, water, fuel and everything needed for daily life. Hospitals and doctors have been particularly targeted. Over recent weeks, the Christian areas have been particularly heavily mortared, leading to increasing casualties. Out of a Christian population of over 400,000, there are now only about 150,000. Almost anyone who can escape has gone.

Homs’s old city has been one of the most sustained targets of the rebels, with nearly all the Christians being forced to flee, bar those who were held as a human shield. In recent weeks, because of a treaty between the rebels and government forces, over 7,000 Christian families returned to Homs.  Sadly, they have discovered that their homes have been looted and wrecked. They now find themselves homeless, penniless and without any means of surviving. Each day the Archbishop of Homs is providing a midday meal for them in a destroyed church building.

Unless God intervenes with a miracle in answer to His people’s prayers, I do not think thatSyria can ever return to how it was before the “Arab Spring”. When peace does eventually come, it can surely only be in the context of a new political settlement and the drawing of some new national boundaries. But where will the Christians be in this scenario? Although more numerous than the Druze, they are scattered across the country. There are concentrations of Christians in Aleppo, in Wadi al-Nasara (the Valley of the Christians) near to Homs, in Hassake and Qamishli on the Turkish border, and in the capital Damascus. Christians will have to live as a minority within each of the emerging new political entities.

Syrian Christians fear futureThe conflict in Syria is not just a civil war with two sides pitted against each other. Rather, it has become a complex sectarian and inter-communal, ethnic and ideological war, where the battle lines are constantly changing. There are Kurds in the north, al-Qaeda and Islamist rebels in the north and east, and Syrian government forces in the centre, south and coastal regions, and even within these areas conflict reigns. Internationally, there is little sign of a peace settlement. Militarily, government forces have not only held their own but are now re-taking territory. Al-Qaeda and the Islamists continue to control their areas and the moderate forces backed by the West are unable to make any progress. Nearby countries are also divided, with Saudi Arabia supporting the moderates, Qatar the Islamists, Turkey allowing all pro-rebel forces to cross its border into Syria, and Iraq, Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanonsupporting the Syrian government. A Shia-Sunni conflict is becoming increasingly intense and could lead to a regional war.

IraqThis has become an even greater threat with the rapid advance of the Islamic State of Iraqand the Levant (ISIS) in Iraq over the last week, and the subsequent call to arms by senior Shia clerics in the country, not to mention the possible intervention of Iran. ISIS now controls vast swathes of territory in western and central Iraq as well as eastern Syria, and the militants have literally bulldozed through a sand berm frontier on the border to unite their territory in the two countries.

They are imposing strict sharia rules in the areas under their control, including harsh penalties such as limb amputation and crucifixion for criminals, and demands that all women cover themselves up and leave their homes only if necessary.

As in Syria, it is the Christians who are most acutely affected by this crisis in Iraq. Christian villages around Mosul have been occupied and destroyed, churches looted and burned. Once again, Christians are being driven from their homes, and it is feared that this time, they may never be able to return. An upsurge in anti-Christian violence in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion forced hundreds of thousands to flee the country. Soon there may be very few left.

Syria was previously a place of refuge for Iraqi Christians, but that is clearly not an option for them now. What has been happening in Syria over the last three or so years has many parallels with what happened in Iraq following the removal of Saddam Hussein, when Islamic militants were unleashed to wreak sectarian carnage, with the country’s minority Christian community being an easy and unprotected target.

Christians in the region are suffering intensely, and there is no end in sight. But their faith endures and where there is faith, there is hope. As an Arab Christian doctor said to me last year, “When I look at the situation now I am filled with despair, but when I look back at history with the eyes of faith and see how God has kept His Church despite the persecution, wars and violence, I have hope.”

– dr patrick sookhdeo

Hindus pressure police to arrest 40 Christians in Nepal

June 23, 2014 by  
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Nepal, June 18, 2014: Around 40 church leaders and members were arrested in Nepal, accused of forcibly converting Hindus, in an ominous threat to religious freedom in the country.

Nepal ChristiansThey were detained in Boudha on Friday (13 June) by police, who were pressured by Hindus to take action against the Christians.

A Hindu crowd gathered outside the jail and threatened a riot if the Christians were freed.

Most of the detainees were nevertheless released, but eight leaders were held in custody until Sunday (15 June).

On Saturday (14 June), a pastor in nearby Mulpani was threatened.

A Barnabas contact in Nepal said that Hindus are looking for arguments with Christians and trying to attack them, having been encouraged by their counterparts in India.

In a visit to Nepal from 30 May to 1 June, the vice president of India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won the country’s general election last month, urged senior Nepali leaders to outlaw religious conversion immediately.

Bhagat Singh Koshiyari spoke to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Maoist party chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, claiming that Western countries had been promoting proselytism in Nepal since it became a secular state in 2006. He called for religious conversion, particularly from Hinduism to Christianity, to be stopped, describing it as “illegal”.

Nepal ChristiansThe election of the BJP in India sparked alarm among its Christian minority. The party had already introduced “anti-conversion” laws in a number of states, which are regularly used as a pretext by Hindu extremists to attack Christians – whom they falsely accuse of converting people by force – and also to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism.

The party’s attempt to influence Nepal’s leaders to follow a similar path is extremely disconcerting, especially at a time when the Constituent Assembly is in the process of drafting a long-awaited new constitution. Christians are concerned that their rights and freedoms will not be upheld as Parliament comes under increasing pressure to restore the Hindu monarchy.

Hindu extremists in Nepal feel threatened by the fast growth of the country’s Church.

– barnabas team

5 thoughts to keep you going…

June 23, 2014 by  
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Life is like a flute* Your happiness is within you , just remove all your worries-

* Life is like a flute. It may have many holes , but if u work on it carefully , it can play magical melodies

Be in someone's prayers* Health is the greatest gift. Contentment the greatest wealth. Faithfulness the greatest relationship

* Adjustment with the right people is always better than argument with wrong people

* Two places most valuable in the world

1. The nicest place is to be in someone’s thoughts and

2. The safest place is to be in someone’s prayers

– fwd: blossom noronha

Keep Going


Mangalore: Bajrang Dal leader files complaint against U R Ananthamurthy

June 23, 2014 by  
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Mangalore, June 21, 2014: Puneet Kottary, Dakshina Kannada district Suraksha Pramukh of Bajrang Dal, has filed a complaint in Bunder police station here, against Jnanpith awardee and celebrated Kannada writer, U R Ananthamurthy, and publishing house, Vasantha Prakashana Bangalore.

U R AnanthamurthyThe complaint alleges that Ananthamurthy, in his book, ‘Bettale Puje Yaake Maadabaaradu’, had branded the Kola of Panjurli Daiva as theatrical act, besides claiming to have pissed on the rock form representing Panjurli Daiva. The complainant has said that these acts have hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

The complaint has sought initiation of legal steps against the above accused, besides placing a ban on the sale, circulation, and distribution of the said book.

The police have received the complaint and filed first information report.

In the meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishat said that of late, there have been increasing incidents of hurting religious sentiments and beliefs of Hindus by deriding Hindu gods, Daivas, Naga etc. Warning those indulging these things that Hindus will not tolerate these things, it has asked them to immediately stop such activities.

In a joint statement, provincial convener of Bajrang Dal, Sharan Pumpwell, and working president of Vishwa Hindu Parishat, M B Puranik, have said that using the religious belief systems of Hindus like Daivas in processions, plays, cinema and other stages, or insulting or deriding such things should not be resorted to. They said that they have already approached Censor Board, heads of theatre groups and printing companies and various government departments to take steps to ensure that Hindu gods and Daivas are not shown in poor light in tele serials, internet, caricatures, short stories, novels, dailies and other publications.

– daijiworld

WB: Christian convert couple hacked to death

June 23, 2014 by  
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West Bengal, June 19, 2014: One person has been detained in connection with the incident.

Masked MenA Christian couple was hacked to death and their 12-year-old daughter’s eye gouged out by masked assailants in Kalimpong sub division of West Bengal’s Darjeeling district, police said Thursday.

The incident at the Geetdubling slum in remote Budhwar area, about two hours drive from Kalimpong town, Tuesday-Wednesday midnight, has left the young girl fighting in a serious condition first at Kalimpong Hospital, and now at north Bengal Medical College and Hospital. Her left eye has been severely affected after being slashed with a sharp weapon.

The couple’s four-year-old younger daughter escaped the assailants by fleeing from home.

One person has been detained in connection with the incident, said Darjeeling’s Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Chaturvedi

Kalimpong Additional Superintendent of Police Anjali Singh said the husband Dominik Bhutia worked with a cable operator.

Locals saw the victims lying in a pool of blood in their house Thursday morning and informed police. The bodies have been sent for post mortem.

Chaturvedi said the Tibetan couple had converted to Christianity. He hoped the case would be solved soon.

Himalayan Buddhist Association general secretary and Tibetan Support Group’s north east India core committee convenor Sonam Londrup Lama has condemned the incident and demaned exemplary punishment of the culprits.

Various other organisations in Kalimpong have also raised their voice against the attack.

– ians

Madhya Pradesh Pastor brutalized by police and anti conversion charges clamped

June 23, 2014 by  
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Madhya Pradesh, June 19, 2014: Pastor Bhikanlal Dhurvey a Gond Tribal 28 years is serving the Lord for the past 8 years in a place called Gandhi Nagar among the Gond tribals in Bhopal .Gandhi Nagar is 8 kilometers from Bhopal Railway station and 1 kilometers from the Bhopal Airport.

Madhya Pradesh PoliceAround 15 men and woman from Gond tribals are coming for fellowship.

A man named Khilyan from their Gond tribe who is alleged to be a drunkard and a thief is believed to be closely associated with the Bajrangis namely Pawan Singh Dhakad and Chandra Prakash

Khilyan collaborated with of the Bajrangis filed a false case against Bhikanlal at the Gandhi Nagar police station,alleging that he is involved in converting the Gond Tribals to Christianity by alluring them with money.

On the 19.04.2014 Police SP and TI came to Khilyan’s place and abused him and then the SP Slapped Pastor and instructed his subordinates to break down his Prayer centre a small facility built with the help of many especially by a Malayalee Brother Kuruvilla .

A police constable came to his place on the 21.04.2014 and took the report and also gave Bhikanlal a document of the police station. Yesterday a police constable came and gave Bhikanlal a piece of paper mentioning the names of the Gond tribals who are having fellowshipwith him.

A case as per Madhya Pradesh anti conversion act is clamped on Pastor. He is summoned to report at the police stationon the 30th of this month June 2014. Pastor Sam Mathew GCIC Coordinator of Madhya Pradesh intervened and contacted the TI Gandhi Nagar Police Station and he was asked to meet the officer personally. Pastor Sam Mathew along with Bhikanlal is planning to go and meet theTI (Town Inspector) Please Pray.

Pastor is married to Anita Dhurvey( 26 ) and blessed with daughters Priyanka (8) SonAnkit 7 years old.


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