Christian forum complains of VHP “pressure”

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

VHPRaipur, November 26, 2014: The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) has accused the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) of “pressuring and threatening” the Catholic Diocese of Bastar to accept the demands of putting Hindu Goddess Saraswati’s picture in Catholic schools of Bastar and allowing non-Christian students to call Catholic teachers “Pracharya” instead of “Father”.

The Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur (Bastar) allegedly held a joint press conference with representatives of the VHP in Bastar on Sunday and issued a statement giving its “acceptance” to the VHP’s demands.

“The Diocese and his people were pressurised and threatened to sign the statement, which says that Saraswati’s picture will be put in every Catholic school of Bastar and ‘Father’ can be called ‘Pracharya’ or ‘Up-pracharya’. This is a clear violation of our fundamental right to religion, which the Constitution provides us. Neither the VHP nor any of our own Diocese has the right to violate our fundamental rights,” Arun Pannalal, CCF president told The Hindu.

“There is a decision-making system in our Church and any such decision has to go through a series of committees from town level to national level. The final decision is taken by the national body, which can issue statements on behalf of the community. The Jagdalpur Diocese is not authorised to take any such decisions or issue any statement,” claimed the CCF chief.

However, the spokesperson of Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur, Abraham Kannampala, denied being “threatened or pressured” into accepting VHP’s demands.

“We gave an in-principle acceptance to VHP’s demands. But our decision will have to be endorsed by the Bishop, who is the final authority,” said Mr.Kannampala.

According to Father Dominic Emanuel, former Delhi Archdiocese spokesperson, the Christian community is “certainly not [going] along” with the decision of Jagdalpur Diocese.

“The Jagdalpur diocese may not be simply under physical pressure, but does he have a choice? He has to stay in Bastar and run schools there. We don’t know what kind of pressure he has faced and what will be the consequences if he goes back on his word,” said Father Emanuel.

Both Father Emanuel and Mr.Pannalal claimed that the whole “drama” was an attempt by the VHP to “frighten” the minority community.

However, the VHP denied the allegations levelled by the Christian bodies.

“The Jagdalpur Catholic body had invited us for the meeting. We just proposed our demands and they accepted them. The allegations against us are baseless. They (CCF) want to disturb the peaceful atmosphere here,” VHP Bastar district president Mr.Suresh Yadav told The Hindu.

The CCF president informed that the body will take a legal route against the demands imposed by the VHP.

– the hindu

Goan artists bridged Christianity and Hinduism: Archbishop Filipe Neri

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Indian Christian Art ExhibitionOld Goa, November 26, 2014: Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao, who opened the Indian Christian Art Exhibition on the premises of Se Cathedral in Old Goa yesterday, said Goan artists helped bridge Christianity and eastern religions.

“This inter-religious dialogue was actively promoted by the likes of Angelo da Fonseca and Angela Trindade, both from Goa through their art, a bridge of understanding between Christianity and eastern, particularly, Indian religions,” the archbishop said according to a report in the Times of India.

The exhibition highlights the images created by the late Goan artists Angelo da Fonseca and Angela Trindade, apart from Alfred Thomas, Sr Genevieve SMMI and Sr Claire SMMI.

The exhibition is conducted by Art-i, Christian Artists’ Forum, Art-i established by the Office for Social Communications, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Delhi.

Fr Dominic Alvares SFX welcoming the archbishop and the dignitaries, said that the Indian Christian Artists’ Forum has found a great patron in Ferrao in promoting the Indian images of Christ and the Goa archdiocese should lead other dioceses of India in promoting Indian Christian Art.

The co-ordinator of Indian Christian Artists’ Forum, Art-i, Fr Paul Kattukaran presented an Indian image of Christ “My Guru” done by the late Goan artist Angelo da Fonseca as a token of inculturating Christian faith in India.

The exhibition will be open from 9am to 7pm everyday till the last day of the Exposition of the Sacred Relics of Saint Francis Xavier; January 4, 2015.

– ucan

Nepal prevents Indian Prime Minister Modi from speaking at a temple, says no Hindu propaganda

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Ram Janaki TempleKathmandu, November 25, 2014: The Indian government this morning confirmed the cancellation of a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to one of the most famous Hindu temples in South Asia, the Ramjanaki, in Nepal.

The decision was taken after a group of 22 Nepali political parties officially protested against what they call “religious propaganda” by the Indian Prime Minister.

Modi will still visit Kathmandu, but only tomorrow (26 November), and will only attend the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit.

According to the original plan, Modi was to visit the temple today, decked out for the occasion, where he was expected to speak to Nepali and Indian Hindus.

A special procession from the Indian temple in Ajodhya – already at the centre of bloody violence against the local Muslim community – had arrived overnight to celebrate the speech by the Indian Prime Minister, who heads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Narendra Modi is not only the Prime Minister of India, but is also the head of a clearly Hindu party,” said Ramchandra Jha, Maoist leader who led the protest politics. “We asked the governments of Nepal and India to cancel this meeting and proposed that Modi speak at another, secular venue. We fought for years to have a secular federal republic.”

According to Maoist party president Pushpa Kamal Dahal, “there are many conspiracies against Nepal’s secular state that are trying to interfere with our new Republican Constitution. The battle won for a secular government is threatened; we must safeguard it, and ensure that our country does not again have a state religion.”

– asianews

Debate: Should US Presidents call Islam a ‘Religion of Peace?’

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

IslamMiami, November 21, 2014: Two former George W. Bush administration officials, Elliot Abrams and Michael Gerson, debated Monday whether it is appropriate for presidents to call Islam a religion of peace.

“What is authentic Islam? Is ISIS an authentic form of Islam, or is it not? I think it’s very important that the United States government shut-up about that question,” Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, declared at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum.

It used to annoy me enormously when President [George W.] Bush, for whom I was working, would say, ‘Islam is a religion of peace,'” continued Abrams, who served as deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser.

Abrams was speaking on a panel, “Religious Conflict and the Future of the Middle East,” with Shadi Hamid, a fellow with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

The “real response” to Bush, and later President Barack Obama, declaring the Islam is a religion of peace, he said, should be “where is their theology degree from?”

“For American government officials to be telling Muslims, ‘I know real Islam’ … is ridiculous,” he added. “… It would be an outrage about Judaism and Christianity as well. … For government officials who are 99 percent Christians to be trying to find what is authentic in Islam seems to me to be a fool’s errand.”

Abrams’ comments came during the question and answer session and were not part of his prepared remarks. The whole session lasted about three hours and he made similar remarks later in the session in response to another reporter’s question.

When presidents say Islam is a religion of peace, “the average American thinks this is crap,” he said, because the average American reasons that “the only people doing the beheadings are Muslims, so don’t tell me it’s all wonderful.”

It would be better, Abrams continued, for political leaders to ask, “is there something in Islam that has led some Muslims to behave in a way we consider to be terrible? And what’s the debate within Islam?” Because, “that’s a real description of a real problem,” but, “saying ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ isn’t [realistic].”

After those remarks, Gerson asked for the floor to offer a different point of view.

“We do praise Christianity as a religion of peace on Christmas, we do praise Judaism as a religion of courage on Hanukah and other things. We praise Islam. And every president from now on will praise Islam on religious holidays because their are millions of peaceful citizens who hold this view,” he said.

Gerson was a speechwriter for Bush and may have helped craft the statements that Abrams found objectionable. He now works as a columnist for The Washington Post.

Presidential statements about Islam as a peaceful religion is not only proper due to the many peaceful Muslims who are American citizens, Gerson continued, it is also “theologically sophisticated” because presidents should promote the cause of those who hold values consistent with democratic governance, and this is not unique to Islam.

“Every religious tradition,” he said, “has forces of tribalism and violence in its history, background and theology; and, every religious tradition has sources of respect for the other. And you emphasize, as a political leader, one at the expense of the other in the cause of democracy.

“That is a great American tradition that we have done with every religious tradition that comes to the United States — include them as part of a natural enterprise and praise them for their strongly held religious views, and emphasize those portions that are most compatible with those ideals.”

Abrams countered that Islam is different due to its relationship to terrorists. By calling Islam a “religion of peace” after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Abrams said, Bush was “basically lying about the problem,” because, … the terrorists “view themselves as good Muslims.”

“How is that exclusively a problem with Islam?” Gerson responded, then mentioned other religious groups, such as Christians in Nigeria, who commit violence in the name of their faith.

Part of the role of political leaders, Gerson reiterated, is to acknowledge the parts of every religious tradition that “encourage respect for the other.”

Abrams conceded Gerson’s point but maintained that presidents are not doing that when they call Islam a religion of peace because the presidential statements lack the nuance of Gerson’s argument.

“I think you’re being much more sophisticated than the political statements that have been made, which are blanket statements that say, ‘this has nothing to do with Islam,'” he told Gerson.

“Well, it does have something to do with Islam … even if it is a perversion of it, it has something to do with it, and the sophistication of that statement I think would be interesting to hear from a political leader, but we have not had that.”

A similar debate between actor Ben Affleck and comedian Bill Maher recently gained national attention. Affleck accused Maher of being “gross,” “disgusting” and “racist” for claiming that most Muslims are unsupportive of Democratic norms.

That debate, however, saw both sides paint Islam with broad brushes. The Faith Angle Forum panel, on the other hand, highlighted the complicatedness of the religion and politics issues within Islam and especially in the Middle East.

“It was nice to see Ben Affleck defend Muslims,” said Hamid, an American Muslim, during his prepared remarks. “It was well intentioned and a lot of us were cheering him on because no one defends Muslims in the public sphere. At the same time, Ben Affleck’s analysis was a bit superficial. … I do think Islam is distinctive in how it relates to politics but I don’t think that is necessarily good or bad, I think it just is.”

– christian post

Christians, Muslims unite for justice over couple burned and killed

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Protesters against killing of Shahzad Masih and his wife ShamaLahore, November 20, 2014: In the two weeks since a Christian couple was killed by a Muslim mob in Pakistan, local leaders from both religions have come together repeatedly to call for justice in the matter, and an end to the misuse of blasphemy allegations.

On Nov. 4, Shahzad Masih and his wife Shama were reportedly killed and their bodies burned by a mob after they were accused of desecrating the Quran. The couple lived in Kot Radha Kishan, a city located nearly 40 miles southwest of Lahore.

The couple worked at a brick kiln, and it has been reported that the kiln owner noticed Shama burning some belongings of her recently-deceased father-in-law, and charged that some pages she burnt were from the Quran – he then detained them. They owed him money, and he refused to release them without being paid.

It was then announced from local mosques that the couple had desecrated the Quran, and a mob forced their way into the room where the Masihs were held, and beat them. Reports vary as to whether or not the couple’s bodies were thrown into the kiln before or after their deaths.

The incident has led to calls for better justice and increased solidarity throughout Pakistan.

On Nov. 18, a group of Muslim and Christian scholars and religious leaders met with Mohammad Sarwar, governor of Punjab, the province in which Kot Radha Kishan is located, “to express our deep shock on this barbaric act of burning alive, the fears of Pakistani Christian religious minority and our reservation on the follow up of this heinous crime,” according to a report by Fr. James Channan, O.P., director of the Peace Center Lahore.

The meeting “was also to listen to the point of view of the government of Pakistan and what strategy it has adopted to deal with such a crime and would justice be ever done?”

Fr. Channan was joined at the meeting by Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, chairman of the Pakistan Ulama Council, and two Anglican bishops.

Sarwar condemned the killing, Fr. Channan reported, and “said that the case of Radha Kishn is a test case for the government of Pakistan. We want that all those who are involved in this heinous crime must be given exemplary punishment so that no one else dares to commit such a crime in (the) future. Our government will make sure that all the criminals are brought to justice.”

Robert Azriah, the Anglican bishop of Raiwind, said that it was unfortunate that the government had failed to punish the perpetrators of such acts in the past, saying that had those criminals been punished then such incidents would not have taken place.

“The miscreants must be punished and all those who misuse these laws must be given exemplary punishment so that no other person dares to misuse these laws,” Fr. Channan reported him saying.

The Dominican also noted that Tahir Ashrafi lamented that in the past, “no one was punished who attacked Christian villages and colonies. That is big question for me … if they were penalized then this incident would have not taken place.”

“He said we are with our fellow Christian citizens and we lament and mourn with them. He said that a group of 100 Ulama went to the site of the crime and condoled our Christian brothers and sisters. We are with you and will raise voice so that justice is done to you.”

The Pakistan Ulama Council had already, on Nov. 12, demanded “that judicial inquiry should be conducted into the Kot Radha Kishan tragedy and the culprits must be brought to justice.”

On Nov. 18, the kiln owner and more than five other suspects in the case of the Masihs were jailed on judicial remand, according to the Daily Times, based in Lahore.

The previous day, relatives of the Masih’s said at a press conference that they were being pressured to withdraw the case against those who are believed responsible for their deaths, with both threats and promises of land and money.

Sajid Ishaq, chairman of the Pakistan Interfaith League, said “We want the government to relocate the family to a safer place to protect them from the people pressuring them,” according to The Express Tribune.

On Nov. 13, the Peace Center Lahore, United Religious Initiative, and the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Forum of Minhaj ul Quran organized a peaceful protest march in Lahore over the Masihs’ tragedy.

Minhaj ul Quran reported that its secretary general, Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, “said that those who have perpetrated this horrible crime are not only enemies of Islam but also of humanity” and “that the purpose of this interfaith prayer and protest is to give message to the peace-loving people of the world that they should play their individual and collective role for establishment of peace.”

In addition, the Pakistani bishops’ conference and the Major Superiors Leadership Conference of Pakistan on Nov. 12 sent joint letters to several government officials, and to the U.N. Council on Human Rights in Islamabad, demanding that the government take action to protect minorities in the wake of the Masihs’ case.

The matter “is a grim reminder that intolerance in the name of religion in Pakistan has escalated beyond the rule of law,” read the text of the letter, which was made available to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

“The situation has now reached beyond the application of laws for justice, to where crowds and police are repeatedly setting precedents for street justice … such incidents reflect lack of governance.”

The letter, signed by Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi and Fr. Pascal Paulus, O.P., presented six demands to the Pakistani government, including that all those involved in the crime or inciting the violence be dealt with according to law, that clerics responsible for inciting violence through mosque loudspeakers be held accountable; that the government “take immediate measures to stop the misuse of the Blasphemy laws”; and that mob violence be curtailed by “training and sensitizing its police force and hold them accountable in future for any negligence on their part.”

Pakistan’s state religion is Islam, and around 97 percent of the population is Muslim. The nation has adopted blasphemy laws which impose strict punishment on those who desecrate the Quran or who defame or insult Muhammad.

The blasphemy laws are said to be often used to settle scores or to persecute minorities; while non-Muslims constitute only 3 percent of the Pakistani population, 14 percent of blasphemy cases have been levied against them.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom’s 2013 report cited “chronic” sectarian and religiously motivated violence in the country, as well as the Pakistan government perpetrating and tolerating “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.”

– cna / ewtn

Faith in the time of annexation: A tough choice for Crimea’s Church

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Fr. Bohdan Kosteskiy of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church ministers to the faithful in CrimeaUkraine, November 04, 2014: Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, religious groups there – aside from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) – are facing persecution, and restrictions on their ministry.

Religious communities in Crimea face an uncertain legal framework – they are unsure of what laws must be observed. Catholics, Ukrainian Orthodox of the Kyiv Patriarchate, and Muslims are all facing persecution from local authorities, and anticipate that they may have to go underground next year.

“The so-called ‘Crimean government’ issued a new law under which all religious organizations, by the end of the year, must go through a process of re-registration,” explained the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych, Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at an Oct. 23 press conference.

“The requirements are very complicated. But even if we fulfilled all the requirements, no-one would be able to guarantee the existence of our Greek Catholic community in Crimea any longer.”

It is thus possible that in January 2015 the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church will find itself outside the law, with its parishes and other property subject to confiscation.

On Feb. 13 – barely more than a month before Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine on March 18 –  the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church had expanded its presence on the peninsula, establishing a new exarchate dedicated to the territory.

Today, the Archiepiscopal Exarchate of Crimea has five parishes, with Divine Liturgy celebrated at each of them. For political reasons, a bishop has yet to be appointed for the exarchate; but its administrators have exchanged married priests on the peninsula for monks, because the risk to priests with families is doubly dangerous.

Among the Ukrainian Greek Catholic priests continuing to serve in Crimea is Fr. Bohdan Kosteskiy. He celebrates Divine Liturgy in Ukrainian, and says he can’t abandon his believers now, because “the priest is a sign of hope for them.”

In September, Fr. Kosteskiy was detained, along with a group of his parishioners, by “unknown police forces.” They were released after a few days in captivity. He was also briefly detained in March, three days before Crimea’s official annexation, by pro-Russian forces.

While the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was preparing for expansion in Crimea up until the peninsula’s annexation, construction on its new parishes in Yalta and other Crimean cities has been halted.

The legal uncertainty accompanying the process of re-registration makes continued ministry difficult for the Church.

“The re-registering means accepting the annexation of Crimea as a legal fact; but to ignore this process would place the community outsidethe law, and be the actual start of an underground sector,” commented Alexander Dobroyer, director of the European Institute of Social Communications, in an interview with CNA.

Dobroyer said the situation is further complicated by the lack of Ukrainian Greek Catholic bishops in Russia — such parishes there are currently under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Church. He added that “if these communities are registered in Crimea, then there will be a chance to do the same in Moscow.”

The sociologist, who studied at the Catholic University of Lublin, suggested that “on behalf of the needs of the pastor, they could just register and serve the people; but on the side of politics, that could give the Russian media the possibility of manipulating information, ultimately stating that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has indeed recognized the annexation” of Crimea.

Until lately, nine Roman Catholic priests worked in Crimea, but two were recently forced to leave the peninsula. Like the Ukrainian Greek Catholics, the Roman Catholics in Crimea have halted plans for the construction of new parishes.

“We do not recognize the annexation of Crimea, because the Church is outside of politics,” Bishop Bronislaw Bernacki of Odessa-Simferopol told CNA.

“There are processes that do not depend on us; but we must re-register our communities under the new Russian legislation in order to stay among our people. This puts deep fear in us.”

Among the Roman Catholic priests exiled from Crimea was Fr. Dmytro Andriychun, a Dominican.

“In Soviet Union it was the same system,” Bishop Bernacki said. “The special police call Fr.Dmytro for a conversation, and try to collaborate him. He said, ‘I am a priest, so I can’t collaborate with any government.’”

Bishop Bernacki continued, saying that “the Russian government doesn’t grant visas for priests, especially Polish priests. This could create a major problem with staffing. We actually can’t prepare for the future now; we don’t know what will come next.”

Bishop Jacek Pyl, who is Auxiliary Bishop of Odessa-Simferopol and is based in Simferopol, told Aid to the Church in Need in September that “although … Crimea is under Russian rule, the Catholic Church can still exercise its ministry but we do not know how our future is going to look.”

Alongside Catholics, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyiv Patriarchate) is also facing persecution by the Russian government in Crimea. It has lost control of six of its 15 parishes in the territory, according to a report of the Council for Europe. The home of the Church’s Bishop of Simferopol and Crimea, Klyment Kushch, was burned down.

“The UOC-Kiyv Patriarchate is in the most uncertain situation, as they have no canonical status within the Orthodox world,” explained Dobroyer.

The Kyiv Patriarchate was established in 1995 when a Russian Orthodox bishop in Ukraine, Filaret, attempted to distance his Church from the Russian Orthodox. The move led to the presence of two separate Ukrainian Orthodox hierarchies, one aligned with Moscow and one independent.

And like Christians not aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, Muslims have also been persecuted in Russian-administered Crimea.

“Since March 18 young Muslims, Crimean Tatars, have disappeared there,” Said Ismagilov, a mufti and head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Ukraine, told CNA.

“Some of them were found dead with signs of torture. We don’t know who is responsible for it, but this is too many young victims.”

Tatars are an indigenous ethnic group of Crimea, most of whom are Muslim; they constitute around 15 percent of the population. Most boycotted the vote which led to Russia’s annexation of their homeland, and wished to remain part of Ukraine.

Ismagilov said that the mass disappearance of young Muslims is a sign of the beginning of religious persecution.

In Yevpatoria, mosques, as well as Muslims’ homes, have been raided by Crimean police looking for “extremist” literature: Russia has a list of such banned literature, which is legal in Ukraine.

“The problem is that it is not only modern literature, but fundamental books of Muslim theology,” Ismagilov commented. “Even the second-most important book after the Quran – the ‘Sahih al-Bukhari’, a collection of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad – is also prohibited; but every Muslim mosque keep this in a private library.”

“In fact the (prohibited) books are just an excuse for the control of Muslims, and an attempt to determine their loyalty to Russia’s actions,” the mufti charged.

“Persecution of Muslims in Russia has long been a problem,” Ismagilov said. “In more than twenty years of independence, Ukraine has never had such problems. I’m afraid that in Crimea, Russia will manipulate religious sentiments.”

An Oct. 27 report of the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights indicated abuses committed by Crimean authorities against both ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars.

Crimea is a southern peninsula of Ukraine where nearly 60 percent of the population are ethnic Russians, and more than 50 percent of the population speak Russian as their first language. The territory was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 under the Soviet Union.

It was annexed by Russia in March, in a move unrecognized by Ukraine and the West, following political unrest in Ukraine.

The month prior, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was ousted by protests, and an interim government more favorable to western nations was installed.

Ukraine held elections Oct. 26 which strongly reaffirmed the pro-western protests of early 2014 and rejected far-right nationalists. The political parties led by president Petro Poroshenko and prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk both won the largest number of seats in Ukraine’s parliament, while the party of fomer president Victor Yanukovych won fewer than 10 percent.

However, the elections did not include Crimea – annexed by Russia – or the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, in far-eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists have declared independence and are holding their own polls.

The separatists’ elections will not be recognized by Ukraine, the EU, or the US, though Russia has already given them support.

Since fighting began in the separatist regions in April, more than 3,700 people have been killed.

– cna/ewtn news

Laughter is the closest thing to God’s grace

November 26, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

A person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room,
Is indeed blessed.

A day without laughter,
Is a day wasted.

Laughter is the sun that drives winter,
From the human face.


The most wasted of all days  is one without laughter.

To jealousy,
Nothing is more frightful, Than laughter.

If love is the treasure,
Laughter is the key.

The human race has really one effective weapon,
And that is laughter.

Laughter brings out the child in all of us.


Laughter is an instant vocation

Laughter is the closest thing,
To God’s grace.

Laughter is a tranquilizer,
With no side effects.

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.


Laughter is the brush that  sweeps away the cobwebs from the heart.

Laughter is like
Inner jogging.

Laughter is a temple of happiness

There is nothing more beautiful than laughter lines



– fwd: blossom noronha

North Carolina: 16 Judges quit following state’s legalization of gay marriage

November 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Same-sex marriage LegalizedNorth Carolina, November 22, 2014: Sixteen North Carolina judges have either resigned or retired after gay marriage became legal in the state last month when a judge ruled that an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

In October, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn of Asheville struck down the ban and ruled the amendment unconstitutional in response to a Charlotte-based lawsuit.

Reports from the administrative office of the courts note that “between the ruling on Oct. 10 and the end of the month, 16 magistrates left their jobs, but the state wouldn’t release why they left,” Time Warner Cable News-Charlotte reports.

The cable network added that it’s “been able to determine that at least 10 of the 16 magistrates who left last month, did so because they will not perform same-sex marriages.”

“The number of North Carolina magistrates who have resigned or retired early because of their opposition to performing same-sex marriages is higher than previously reported,” TWC-Charlotte reports, adding that the judges are now required by law to perform same-sex marriages. … “The court system reports there are 672 magistrates across the state, so only about 1.5 percent have left because of the same-sex marriage ruling.”

In May 2012, North Carolina voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative that added an amendment to their state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The New York Times reported in 2012 that the amendment passed by a margin of more than 20 percentage points with 500,000 people voting early, which was a “record for a primary in the state.”

North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has said his administration is “moving forward with the execution of the court’s ruling [lifting the ban on gay marriage] and will continue to do so unless otherwise notified by the courts,” according to the CharlotteObserver.

Judges quitting over the striking down of the gay marriage ban is not the only example of resistance or stated opposition to the court decision. A few North Carolina counties have passed resolutions in support of the former ban and have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

Despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a wave of appeals in October, many believe that with the Sixth Circuit’s recent upholding of multiple state level amendments banning gay marriage, the Court will have to rule on the issue.

– christian post

Latest on Hindutva hate agenda

November 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

World Hindu CongressNew Delhi, November 23, 2014: ‘Malicious 5’: Marxism, Macaulayism, Missionaries, Materialism and Muslim extremism are five biggest enemies of the Hindu society, claims a pamphlet distributed at the three-day World Hindu Congress 2014 that concluded here on Sunday.

The pamphlet – a single page, two-side printed document titled ‘Thought Paper’ – published purportedly by ‘Progressive Foundation’ is full of oft-repeated rhetoric in most abusive terms to describe the ‘Malicious 5’ or simply ‘M5’ – the “five fingered fist of the demon Mayasur.”

The pamphlet – has a copy of it obtained from a media personnel who covered the event – was distributed on Saturday during a session on education at the conference held between November 21-23.

This fist of the demon is introduced as “a combination of five sinister anti-Hindutva forces,” which is “weakening the very source of Dharma” and “continuously weakening Hindu society for centuries now.”

Describing that the M5 disguises themselves in various forms, it says, “Sometimes an evil finger attacks Hindu society with guerrilla warfare in the form of Maoists; at the same time other finger attacks Hindus openly in the form of Jihadists,” and further adds: “With two fingers in action another finger attacks on cultural front in the form of ‘Kiss of Love’.”

The pamphlet – it could not be immediately established whether ‘Progressive Foundation’ is yet another saffron-front organization – then goes on to describe the M5, as the Hindutva organizations perceive it:

Marxism for them thus is “the thumb of the demon’s claw,” that has given birth to “multiple bastard offspring like Communists, Socialists, Liberals, Maoists, Anarchists and all other forms Leftists.” Hindutva forces’ main grudge against Leftists is that they have “infiltrated and have taken over major Indian systems like Education, Journalism, and Environment, etc.” and that they have “ridiculed every hero, every period, every episode and every precedent in which Hindus can take pride.”

The pamphlet also holds Marxists guilty of always aligning with Muslims and supporting their cause. “The same Leftists whitewashes blood thirsty Islamic History, its despicable despots and condones their crimes,” it writes, adding, “Leftists have created heinous perception in which Muslim is always secular and Hindu is always communal.”

According to the same pamphlet, the last M of the “malicious 5” is the “poisonous fruit of Islam”. “Islam aims for Muslims to be brainwashed, blackmailed, frightened and forced into the fold of Jihadism,” it says, adding, “On the other hand it toils hard to neutralise, paralyse and blacken Hindu society so that the road for forward march of Islam is clear.”

It goes on to argue that all available platforms are being used to “defeat the emergence of Hindu nationalism … by harping on India’s multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-language, multi-national and multi-cultural character.” The pamphlet then declares that the fight with Islam will be “one of the longest in the history,” and that “Crazy ideas like Islam can be reformed are a fallacy”.

Similar words have been used in the pamphlet to describe missionaries who are making “bold bid” to make a “safer haven” for Christians in the East; Westernised Indians derided as Macaulayists, after Lord Macaulay, who introduced the Western education system in India, and Materialists, who “wickedly pit individual against its own society’s value system.”

The three days long first World Hindu Congress 2014 was organised by the World Hindu Foundation, in which over 1,500 delegates from 40 countries participated. The convention was sponsored by several leading companies.

Besides, several RSS, VHP and leaders of other Sangh organisations, many BJP leaders and ministers also spoke on the occasion. Several educationists, scientists and experts from different fields were also invited to speak during the over 45 sessions. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal spoke on the inaugural day expressing pride over a ‘swabhimani’ (proud) Hindu coming back to the reins of power in Delhi after 800 years after Prithviraj Chauhan.

– tcn

Church marks 500 years in Myanmar. Cardinal Ossie is Papal rep.

November 25, 2014 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

cardinal oswald gracias in myanmarMyanmar, November 23, 2014: Thousands of Catholics arrived in Yangon on Friday for the start of a three-day celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Catholicism in Myanmar.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, attended the opening ceremony of the celebration at St Mary’s Cathedral in Yangon on behalf of Pope Francis, bearing with him the good tidings and love of the pontiff to the people of Myanmar.

“Today is not just a day of great joy and festivities but one of reflection on what we can do or not do, how much more we can dedicate ourselves to the Gospel, how we can transform society and how we can better serve the people of Myanmar,” Cardinal Gracias said.

In his welcome speech for the Indian cardinal, Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon celebrated the endurance of the Myanmar Church amid difficult times.

“Poverty and persecution — even death — have met our people, but never did our people flinch from witnessing to their faith,” Archbishop Bo said.

“The faith that was cemented with tears and blood unites us today from every corner of Myanmar.”

Christianity remains a small minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar. Catholics number about 750,000 out of a population estimated at just over 50 million, according to a controversial census conducted this year.

The Church has grown significantly in the years since General Ne Win seized control of the country and initiated his disastrous Burmese Way to Socialism, which saw the expulsion of missionaries and the near-complete isolation of the country.

Now, Myanmar is exporting priests and Religious to other countries, Archbishop Bo told in an interview at his residence ahead of Friday’s festivities.

“Since the government announced its program of reform in 2011, many other [Religious] orders have shown up in Myanmar, as it’s such a fertile ground for novices. So there is a lot of competition,” Archbishop Bo said.

He added that Myanmar currently has 300 seminarians preparing for the priesthood, and that the Church has seen considerable growth, particularly in rural areas, in recent years.

“In Myanmar, typical of developing countries, you will get whole villages of 10 to 20 people joining [the Church] all at once. The headman makes a decision to join, and everyone else follows,” he said.

Archbishop Bo added that he hoped Pope Francis would schedule a visit to Myanmar some time next year as part of his focus on Asia. The pontiff visited South Korea in August for World Youth Day and will make Apostolic trips to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January next year.

The Church’s commemoration comes at a pivotal time in the history of the country, as Myanmar’s quasi-civilian government struggles to follow through with its transition to democratic reform after decades of military rule.

The Church has a significant role to play in that transition, said Father Maurice Nyunt Wai, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar.

“What we need today is to be involved in nation-building, the peace process and national reconciliation. The Church must be a voice for the voiceless, and it must stand for the people of marginalized [communities],” he told on Friday.

A national ceasefire with Myanmar’s armed ethnic groups have been a central part of the government’s reform process, but it has been marred by ongoing violence in many of the country’s ethnic states.

Most recently, the Myanmar military on Wednesday shelled an officer training academy in Kachin state near the Chinese border, killing 23 cadets — just days after a state visit by US President Barack Obama, during which he warned that the country’s progress toward reform was not irreversible.

Bauk Naw, a catechist from Banmaw diocese in Kachin state, said the Church has played a vital role in caring for displaced Kachin communities uprooted by intermittent fighting over the last two years in Myanmar’s northeast.

He was one of about 4,000 Kachin who traveled to Yangon to mark the Church’s 500-year-long history in Myanmar.

The three days of celebration will culminate with an event at a Yangon football stadium on Sunday, attended by Papal Nuncio Adolfo Tito Yllana of the Philippines.

– ucanews

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