Prayer by Sir Francis Drake : Turn back to Jesus Christ

September 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.


Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

The Stars

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.



China: World leader in exporting tools of torture

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Tools of TortureChina, September 23, 2014: Electric-shock stun batons, metal-spiked truncheons and rigid restraint chairs. These are just some of the products sold by more than 130 Chinese companies in several Asian and African nations, “in intrinsically cruel” tools of torture that represent a good chunk of the exports of the sector. The complaint comes from Amnesty International, in a report published today which charges Beijing with helping the torture trade to prosper worldwide.

Some tools sold by Chinese industries, says the group, “while some of the exports are no doubt used in legitimate law enforcement operations, China has also exported equipment that has inhumane effects, or poses a substantial risk of fuelling human rights violations by foreign law enforcement agencies”. The largest importers are countries such as Senegal, Egypt, Ghana, Cambodia and Nepal; one company that sells restraint chairs and batons has business relations with more than 40 African nations.

According to Amnesty, 10 years ago there were only 28 Chinese companies operating in the sector, today there are more than 130. Patrick Wilcken, a researcher into trade and human rights, charges: ” China’s flawed export system has allowed the trade in torture and repression to prosper. China should “fundamentally reform its trade regulations to end the irresponsible transfer of law enforcement equipment to agencies who will likely use it to violate human rights”.

In November 2013, the Chinese Supreme People’s Court banned the use of torture in prisons or labor camps in the country. However, as denounced by human rights activists, the practice has never disappeared: each year there are “hundreds” of cases of physical abuse committed against detainees and those who are arrested throughout China.

– asianews

For Card Gracias, leaders of all religions should work for the Indian people

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Card GraciasMumbai, September 22, 2014: “We religious leaders must work together in the service of humanity, and for the growth of the nation. Let us forget our divisions. We have so much in common and need to search for goodness,” said Card Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, to representatives of nine different religious and spiritual traditions, all present at the ‘Meeting of Diverse Spiritual Traditions in India,’ which ended yesterday in New Delhi.

Spiritual leaders from the three major currents in Hinduism – Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism – as well as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Baha’ism, Sikhism and Jainism gathered for the two-day event (20-21 September) organised by the Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

“In his visit to the Redipuglia military shrine, Pope Francis focused on three urgent issues: violence and war; poverty and the need for economic justice and human solidarity as a necessary dimension of human dignity; and the environment and climate change,” Card Gracias said.

“Such issues,” he explained, “are getting worse because of our selfishness and lack of inner values. As brothers and sisters, we must bring peace, success and values ​​to all. We must forget violence because it brings neither peace nor joy.”

For his part, in his opening address to the meeting, the Dalai Lama said, “India is an illustrious example of human values and religious harmony.

In this country, “Positive human values and ethical principles have been cultivated for thousands of years,” he noted. “It is the only country where all major religions live together, not only in modern times but over a thousand years”.

In his view, people themselves cause conflicts around the world; hence, it is they who must end them in lieu of seeking divine intervention.

Any killing in the name of religion is condemnable and there is no justification for fights over faith, he added.

– asianews

Missionary month in India, PMS director: Every Christian must proclaim the Gospel

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Fr. Faustine L. LoboBangalore, September 22, 2014: Reviving the commitment to witness and proclaim the Gospel, according to the conciliar decree “Ad Gentes”, a true “manual for missions.” With this in mind, Indian Catholics are preparing for the month of October, which the universal Church dedicates to missions. This was emphasized by Fr. Faustine L. Lobo, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in India, who adds that it is important to use “every Sunday in October” to “enlighten the faithful” on evangelization and the missionary role of every Christian.

World Missions Sunday 2014 is scheduled for Sunday, October 19, reports the priest and the faithful “must be prepared” to the fullest; it is essential to “instill the missionary zeal in all,” he adds. “The day should be an occasion – says Fr. Faustine – to promote mission and responsibility of every Christian to be missionary.”

The contribution that each can offer, he states, must be the result of the need to “feel part of a missionary activity”. The clergy, religious and lay faithful must have the satisfaction of being part of the “missionary efforts” around the world.

This year, the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council Decree “Ad Gentes”, the document signed by Pope Paul VI which outlines the guidelines to missions and proclaiming the Gospel. “I feel that priests should do much more to teach people the basics of Ad Gentes – said Fr. Faustine – so that everyone can fully understand their responsibilities in terms of mission.”

According to the Indian priest there is need for proper animation to create zeal for mission among the people, well planned strategy and the use of different methods that can  help in this direction. The need of missions calls for a “better contribution”. “The spirit of this call – said the PMS director in  India – is to motivate each Catholic to give their support to missions, so that everyone can participate in the proclamation of Christ.”

– asianews

5 Trucks laden with meat for foreign export charred in Aurangabad

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

5 Trucks laden with meat charred in AurangabadAurangabad, September 22, 2014: A week after Union Minister Menaka Gandhi raised issue of exporting of meat to foreign country and claimed that money earned through such export is going into terrorism, 5 trucks laden with meat which were meant for foreign export have been charred by a group of unknown men on Aurangabad-Nashik highway in Maharashtra.

The incidence occurred on the bridge over Deku River near Garaj village on Aurangabad-Nashik highway road in Maharashtra when a group of unknown men who were waiting for the trucks on the bridge stopped trucks, thrashed drivers & cleaners and set ablaze all the five trucks by dousing them with kerosene, petrol and diesel. The incidence occurred at about 30 KM from Aurangabad.

It appears to be a meticulously planned act as the group had chosen the spot in advance and had stored fuel required for burning trucks near the bridge. The group knew that trucks were being used for exporting slaughtered meat from Aurangabad and had kept a watch on its route.

Reportedly the trucks were carrying beef towards Vaijapur from a slaughter house situated at Padegaon near Aurangabad in the early morning of Saturday, when the incident occurred. The flame rising due to burning of trucks was seen from couple of kilometer distance by the people of Garaj village.

The sudden burning of trucks on highway terrorized people in the vicinity causing tension and closure of traffic for some time. Rural police Superintendent of Police Anil Kumbare rushed to the spot with his team after receiving the news and increased police presence so as to ease traffic and maintain calm in the area. He had to call in State Reserved Police (SRP) for controlling the situation.

Such incidences have increased this month in the state when people alleges trucks to be delivering cow flesh and burns them and insist police to arrest drivers. On 13th September enraged people had set fire to a truck carrying alleged cow flesh in Ahmednagar district and couple of days before an irate mob set fire to a truck, for transporting what they alleged was cow flesh, near Vinchur in Nashik district, after which a bandh was observed in Lasalgaon and Vinchur to protest against alleged slaughter of cows.

Advocate A. Wakil from Aurangabad told, “The act of burning of trucks by people on the suspicion of transport of cow flesh is totally illegal. (If people have such suspicion then) they should complain about it to police who will investigate and charge driver, cleaner or people involved in transporting of cow flesh under sections of Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976”.

“In such incidences of beating of drivers and burning of vehicles, police should first arrest people responsible for beating and burning before arresting drivers and cleaners. (Because) everyone has to follow the law and no one can overlook established legal procedures”, he added.

– tcn

New Persian Bible translation launched

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

New Persian Bible translationIran, September 23, 2014: A new translation of the Bible into modern Persian, which was launched in London on Monday, marks a significant moment for Christianity in Iran.

According to a news release from Elam Ministries, the organization behind the translation, at the time of the Islamic revolution in 1979 there were no more than 500 Christians from a Muslim background in the country. Now Iran is thought to have one of the fastest-growing congregations in the world.

“A very conservative estimate puts the number of Christians in Iran at 100,000,” David Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries said in a press release.

“The generally-accepted estimate is 370,000. Some believe there are 700,000, some over a million. Operation World puts the annual growth rate at 19.7 per cent. If that is the case, Iran will very soon have one million Christian believers.”

“Though the [launch] event will be a joyful one, we are sad it is happening outside Iran,” Yeghnazar said.

“This event proves the world wide church will always bring the Scriptures to people, however ‘closed’ a country is meant to be. Rather than try and stop the inevitable — especially in our digital age — it would be much wiser if the Iranian government gave Christians the freedom promised in their constitution and let the Bible in Persian be printed legally inside Iran.”

– assist news service

Pope tells representatives of religions that religious freedom is bulwark against all forms of totalitarianism

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Pope with representatives of religionsAlbania, September 21, 2014: Religious freedom, which Albania regained after the period of Communist dictatorship, is good not only for believers, but for society as a whole, including non-believers,  a bulwark against all forms of totalitarianism, said Pope Francis today when around 4 pm he met with representatives of the country’s six major religions and Christian denominations.

Representatives from the Muslim, Bektashi (Sufi), Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical and Jewish communities attended a meeting with the pope, his entourage and the president of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference, Mgr Angelo Massafra, bishop of Scutari-Pult.

In his address, the pontiff talked about Albania’s violent and atheist past. “When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated. You know well how much pain comes from the denial of freedom of conscience and of religious freedom, and how from such a wound comes a humanity that is impoverished because it lacks hope and ideals to guide it.”

Appreciating the religious freedom that is enjoyed today in the country, the Pope pointed out that “religious freedom is not a right which can be guaranteed solely by existing legislation, although laws are necessary. Rather religious freedom is a shared space, an atmosphere of respect and cooperation that must be built with everyone’s participation, even those who have no religious convictions.”

In this regard, he quoted from a speech Pope John Paul II gave during his visit to Albania in ’93. “Religious freedom,” the late pontiff said, “is not only a precious gift from the Lord for those who have faith: it is a gift for each person, because it is the basic guarantee of every other expression of freedom […]. Only faith reminds us that, if we have one Creator, we are therefore all brothers and sisters. Religious freedom is a safeguard against all forms of totalitarianism and contributes decisively to human fraternity.”

Two attitudes are needed to promote religious freedom. “The first attitude is that of regarding every man and woman, even those of different religious traditions, not as rivals, less still enemies, but rather as brothers and sisters. When a person is secure of his or her own beliefs, there is no need to impose or put pressure on others: there is a conviction that truth has its own power of attraction.”

“The second attitude which fosters the promotion of religious freedom is the work done in service of the common good. Whenever adherence to a specific religious tradition gives birth to service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there too exists an authentic and mature living out of religious freedom. This presents itself not only as a space in which to legitimately defend one’s autonomy, but also as a potential that enriches the human family as it advances. The more men and women are at the service of others, the greater their freedom!
Let us look around us: there are so many poor and needy people, so many societies that try to find a more inclusive way of social justice and path of economic development!”

Towards the end, Pope Francis spoke off the cuff to emphasise how dialogue between religions is only possible starting from one’s own identity, against all forms of relativism. He said that we should not hide one’s identity, nor “pretend to have another one, or a mask . . . That would be relativism. One’s own identity is offered to another to walk together, far from hypocrisy.”

“Dear friends,” he said in concluding, “I encourage you to maintain and develop the tradition of good relations among the various religious communities in Albania, and to be united in serving your beloved homeland. Continue to be a sign for your country, and beyond, that good relations and fruitful cooperation are truly possible among men and women of different religions. And pray also for me. May God bless you all.”

– asianews

A tale of two conquerors

September 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three!
One lived and died for self; one died for you and me.
The Greek died on a throne; Christ died on a cross;
One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss.
One led vast armies forth, the other walked alone;
One shed a whole world’s blood; the other gave His own.

One won the world in life and lost it all in death;
The other lost His life, to win a whole world’s faith.

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three.
One died in Babylon, and one on Calvary.
AlexanderOne gained all for himself; and one Himself gave.
One died to conquer, and one the world to save.

The one made himself God; and God made Himself less;
The one lived but to blast; the other but to bless.

When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords;
But Jesus died to live forever, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three!
The Greek made all men slaves; Christ made all men free!
CrossOne built a throne on blood; the other built on love.
The one was born of earth; the other from above.

One conquered all the earth, to lose all earth and heaven;
The other gave up all, that all to Him be given.
Christ is Risen from the DeadThe Greek forever died; Christ forever lives!
He loses all who gets, and wins all things who gives!

– fwd: samuel machado

As IS spokesman call on supporters to kill all unbelievers, Pax Christi stands with Iraqi Christians

September 23, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Iraqi ChristiansIraq, September 22, 2014: “If you can kill a disbelieving American or European – especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever [. . .] including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him,” said Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, an Islamic State spokesman.

In its latest media posting yesterday, a 42-minute audio speech mixing international politics and religion, the Islamist group called on supporters to continue the jihad and kill infidels and unbelievers “in any way” and to attack as “civilians.”

Meanwhile, Iraqi Christians as well as others, Shias, Kurds, Turkmens and even Sunnis received expressions of solidarity and closeness from Europe in the face of Islamist madness. Pax Christi, a Catholic peace movement, urged the international community not to forget Iraq and help the local church in dealing with refugees and displaced persons.

Al-Adnani, a spokesman for the terrorist group that seized large portions of Iraq and Syria, and founded a caliphate where Sharia is enforce, has warned the soldiers of the Islamic State will lead the attack.

“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted,” he said.

Calling US President Barack Obama a coward, “a mule of the Jews and cowardly”, he urged Sunnis not to join the coalition and provide neither men nor means. Instead, “Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military,” he told supporters and fighters.

Responding to condemnations by Muslim religious authorities, he said, “there is no sin for [a Muslim] in spilling it.” Using terms dear to al Qaeda propaganda, Adnani gave instructions on how to kill without military equipment.

“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him,” the IS spokesman said. This way, anyone can be a tool of jihad, not only activists but also simple sympathisers.

Islamic extremists have said that they will target France and its citizens, following the decision of the French president to join the coalition and the air campaign. In fact, French planes have hit one of the first objectives, an Islamic State logistical centre in north-eastern Iraq.

In France, the Church has expresses one of the latest show of solidarity for Iraq’s Christian minority. “We have no right to forget Iraq,” said a statement signed by Mgr Marc Stenger, bishop of Troyes and president of Pax Christi.

The prelate noted that thanks to extensive media coverage of events, the French public was made aware of the plight of Christian refugees and other minorities. However, “we must continue to remain vigilant to support persecuted minorities who stayed [. . .] and welcome” the exiles.

The president of Pax Christi, an international Catholic organisation founded in France in 1945, reiterated the message of “Christian hope” issued on several occasions by Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael I Louis Sako, this despite his country’s tragic reality.

Such a message contains no “empty words”, the prelate said. But it must be translated into “concrete actions”, including the creation of “capable Christian organisations” that can “analyse situations and consequences” as well as propose “plans for the future.”

“It is the duty of Pax Christi and other groups to provide support to these organisations,” Mgr Stenger explained.

Thus, the prelate wants to see an inventory of displaced families and their losses so that they can benefit from adequate compensation. They must also be given a chance to meet the challenge of education and avoid the danger of a generation without an education.

Lastly, the prelate warns that military action is not enough to defeat the Islamists. “We must build” and to do this it is even more necessary to “support Iraq” and its future. “The peace and future of the whole world are at stake.”

– asianews

Pope’s advisers start first draft toward document overhauling Vatican

September 23, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

New apostolic constitutionVatican, September 17, 2014: Pope Francis’ international Council of Cardinals has begun creating the first draft of a new apostolic constitution that would implement a major reform of the Vatican bureaucracy.

The so-called C9, a papally appointed group of nine cardinal members, held its sixth meeting Sept 15-17 with Pope Francis at the Vatican to help advise him on the reform of the Vatican’s organization and church governance.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Sept. 17 that the series of discussions have now begun a more “concrete” phase with “putting ink on paper” in the form of a draft for the introduction to a new constitution.

“It may be assumed that, with the next two meetings of the council — Dec. 9-11, 2014, and Feb. 9-11, 2015 — the draft constitution will reach an advanced stage of preparation, making it possible for the pope to proceed with further consultations,” the priest said in a written statement.

In a first step toward reorganizing the Roman Curia, Pope Francis created the Secretariat for the Economy in February as a way to begin universal oversight and standards for all of the Vatican’s financial assets and activities.

Father Lombardi told reporters that the cardinals’ discussions concerning financial issues have concluded, and that they now resumed looking at the different pontifical councils of the curia, as part of a bigger strategy of finding the most effective and efficient way to reorganize the large bureaucracy.

In their three days of talks and study, the nine cardinals “focused on two principle hotspots,” the Vatican spokesman said in his written statement.

The first topic included the laity, the family, “the role of women in society and the church, youth, childhood, or matters related to lay associations and movements and so on,” he wrote.

The second topic combined the issues of “justice and peace, charity, migrants and refugees, health, and the protection of life and ecology, especially human ecology,” the written statement said.

The way the different issues were divided into two major areas seemed to lend credence to some news reports predicting the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family would be merged into one new congregation, and that the pontifical councils for Justice and Peace, Cor Unum and Migrants and Travelers could be combined, since their areas of focus are closely related and often overlap.

Pope Francis would make the final decisions, Father Lombardi said, based on input from the Council of Cardinals and regular talks with the heads of the curia, other cardinals and bishops.

The Vatican spokesman said the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors will meet Oct. 4-5, and any announcements or clarifications concerning new members and the group’s statutes would be made around that time.

Since its inception in July, the Commission on Vatican media was set to hold its first meeting Sept. 22-24 in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope lives.

The 11-member body has been asked to review and recommend ways Vatican communications structures could be streamlined and modernized.

The commission president is British Lord (Chris) Patten, former governor of Hong Kong, former chairman of the BBC Trust and former chancellor of the University of Oxford. The commission secretary is Irish Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

– cns

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