Rome priests: Pope said ordaining ‘married men is in my diary’

February 27, 2015 by  
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married priestRome, February 23, 2015:Pope Francis has reportedly suggested that he may be open to the idea of married men being ordained priests in the Catholic Church, saying that the issue “is in his diary,” reports The Tablet.

Francis was quoted by priests from the Diocese of Rome who met him at the Vatican on Thursday. The Bishop of Rome traditionally meets the priests of his diocese during Lent.

The Pope addressed them on the theme of homiletics and then took questions.

Francis reportedly told the priests that last week he celebrated Mass with five priests who were marking the golden anniversary of their ordination, and that five priests who had left the priesthood to marry were also present.

According to the Italian bishops’ paper, L’Avvenire, the Pope addressed the issue of married priests. A priest and theologian who supports the ordination of married men, Giovanni Cereti, recalled the case of the Eastern Churches, where married men can be ordained priests, unlike in the Latin Rite. In his reply Francis reportedly said “the issue is in my diary.”

Another priest who was there told an American news agency recalled Francis’ words as: “I would not store this question in an archive”.

The Holy See press office has released eight minutes of audio from the two-hour meeting, but no official summary or transcription..

– cns

Karnataka: Catholic prayer hall vandalised

February 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

A church in Mangalore in Karnataka was vandalisedMangalore, February 25, 2015: A Catholic prayer hall on the outskirts of Karnataka’s coastal city of Mangaluru was vandalised by stone-throwing miscreants, police said Wednesday. A state minister said some anti-social elements were trying to “create insecurity and panic in society”.

“The incident seems to have occurred late Tuesday or in the early hours of Wednesday, resulting in the St. Josep Vaz prayer hall’s window panes being damaged. It is a case of mischief,” Mangaluru police commissioner S. Mururgan told IANS here, about 350 km from Bengaluru.

A case has been registered against unidentified persons on a complaint filed by the parish priest.

Clarifying that the incident was not an attack on the make-shift church, the police chief said statues of Mother Mary and Infant Jesus were intact and no damage was caused to the prayer hall or any objects inside it.

“We have set up a team to investigate the case and identify the suspects, who damaged the window panes under the cover of darkness,” Murugan said.

The prayer hall, adjacent to a cemetery, is located 15 km away from the city in a sparsely populated area.

“We have directed the pastor to fix lights around the prayer hall and engage a watchman to secure the place,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Minister U.T. Khader told IANS the church was attacked here by some “anti-social elements”.

The minister, who visited the site in the morning, said he hoped that the culprits will be nabbed soon.

“Some anti-social elements threw a stone and damaged the glass of a statue to create insecurity and panic in society,” Khader told IANS.

The minister said the site was littered with cigarette butts that indicated that the group might have been small.

He said police were looking for the culprits and citizens have also joined the operation.

“It is between good society and bad society. All 90 percent of the good society will join against them,” he said.

Khader said the church, located beside a graveyard in an isolated place, is 250 years old and was renovated some 10-15 years ago.

– ians

Odisha: First monument to the martyrs of anti-Christian pogroms erected

February 27, 2015 by  
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monument to the martyrs of anti-Christian pogromsBhubaneswar, February 23, 2015: Christian residents in the village of Tiangia (Odisha) have erected the first monument to honour seven martyrs, victims of anti-Christian pogroms in Kandhamal in 2008. Mgr John Barwa SVD, archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, blessed the memorial plaque on 13 February, in the presence of priests and hundreds of faithful.

“These seven martyrs,” said the prelate, “are pillars of testimony for the people of Kandhamal and beyond. We thank God for giving us such men, who sacrificed their precious lives for the love of Jesus. Rather than give up their faith, they clang to Christ with passion. For us, they are a source of inspiration and hope.”

The seven martyrs, all from Tiangia, are: Fr Bernard Digal (died 28 October 2008), Trinath Digal (25 August 2008), Bikram Nayak (25 August 2008), Parikhit Nayak (27 August 2008), Darasantha Pradhan (25 August 2008), Dibyasing Digal (25 August 2008), and Dinabandhu Pradhan (27 August 2008).

On 23 August 2008, a Maoist group killed Hindu leader Saraswati Laxanananda in his ashram, in Kandhamal District, a fact the group readily admitted.

However, the followers of the radical Hindu cleric blamed Christians, whom he had criticised for a long time because of their social involvement with tribals and Dalits (outcaste) and had accused – along with bishops, priests and nuns – of proselytising.

In Kandhamal, Hindu extremists unleashed the most violent persecution against the Christian minority that India had ever seen.

Overall, the pogrom forced 55,000 Christians to flee, with 5,600 houses and 415 villages raided and set on fire.

According to government figures, 38 people were killed and two women raped. Scores of people were injured and permanently maimed.

The Church and social activists reported instead the destruction of almost 300 churches, plus convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities. At least 91 people died, 38 immediately, 41 from injuries sustained in the violence, and 12 in police action.

“These seven martyrs gave their precious life to bear witness to their faith and die for Christ during the massacre of Kandhamal,” Fr Manoj Kumar Nayak told AsiaNews.

“The memorial is our little tribute,” the social activist added. “We hope that their life of faith and their testimony will not be lost, but rather inspire others to live in a heroic way.”

– asianews

5000 to visit St Antony’s feast in Kachchatheevu

February 27, 2015 by  
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st antonyColombo, February 23, 2015:  Over 5000 pilgrims from India and Sri Lanka are expected to attend the feast of St.Anthony’s church in Kachchatheevu island on March 1.

The Sri Lanka Navy will provide all facilities and security for the visiting pilgrims.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader the Navy spokesman Commander Indika Silva said that the Navy will provide fresh water, medical facilities, sanitary facilities and security for the visiting pilgrims.

Last year over 3000 pilgrims from India visited the shrine while over 2000 attended from Sri Lanka as well. Commander Silva also stated that accommodation will be provided for the VIP’s and clergy by the Navy and ferry services from Kurikadduwan to Kachchathivu will also be provided by the Navy for government officials.

Kachchatheevu is a tiny uninhabited island of 285.2 acres with not even a drop of drinking water, located ten miles northeast of Rameswaram.

– the sunday leader

Vatican: Italy step up security over threat posed by Islamic militants

February 27, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Italian policemen stand guard near the VaticanVatican City, February 19, 2015: Security at the Vatican and across Italy has been stepped up because of a perceived heightened risk of attacks by Islamist militants, officials said Wednesday.

A day after the Italian cabinet approved new security measures because of fears of a terrorist spillover from the chaos engulfing Libya, the head of the Vatican’s Swiss Guard confirmed additional precautions had been taken to ensure the safety of Pope Francis.

“What happened in Paris with the Charlie Hebdo attacks could also happen at the Vatican. We are ready to intervene to ensure Francis is protected,” Christoph Graf told Italian daily Il Giornale.

“We have asked all the Swiss guards to be more attentive and to carefully monitor the movement of people,” he added, stressing that it was up to the intelligence services to provide detailed information on any potential threat.

Graf acknowledged that Francis’s people-friendly style did not make his job easy.

“He does not like having security too close to him. We have to respect that and keep our distance,” he said.

The Italian government’s security committee on Tuesday placed the country on a heightened state of alert and rubber-stamped a decision taken last week to increase the number of soldiers on anti-terror “safe streets” duties from 3,000 to 4,800.

Expo 2015 on hit list

Italian media reported Wednesday that the site of the upcoming Expo 2015 world fair in Milan, the foreign ministry in Rome, the Vatican and synagogues across the country had been identified as prime potential targets for Islamist militants.

“The risk of an attack by a lone wolf or an unbalanced person is concrete,” said Felice Casson, a senator and secretary of the Copasir parliamentary committee that oversees Italy’s secret services.

“The more successful attacks in other countries are, the greater the risk of someone trying to emulate them in Italy,” he told La Republicca.

The paper said special security had been ordered for some of Italy’s leading journalists and for prominent Italian Jews. Restrictions on government ministers using official planes for private trips have been eased.

Italy has been swept by alarmist rumors in recent days since the posting of a video showing the Islamic State group’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, which is a former Italian colony.

The tape includes a warning that Libya could be used as a platform for attacks on Italy and that IS fighters were “at the south of Rome.”

IS warnings

Some opposition figures in Italy have called for all naval search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean to be suspended because of a much-touted risk of terrorists using refugee boats as a way of getting into Italy to stage so-called lone-wolf attacks.

The government admits it can’t rule out that happening but says screening measures are in place to combat the risk, and that it has yet to find any evidence of IS attempting this.

The government has also had to contend with a widely-circulated claim that up to 200,000 African migrants in Libya are about to embark or be ordered on to ships for Italy.

Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, has been the principal promoter of this claim, for which no reliable evidence has so far emerged.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday that there was an “evident risk” of IS loyalists teaming up with battle-hardened militia fighters in Libya and warned the world time was running out to stabilize the country.

Italy wants world powers to focus all their efforts on getting the warring parties in Libya to unite and squeeze out IS.

If a ceasefire can be established, Rome says it is ready to lead a peacekeeping operation that would also be charged with de-arming a country awash with weapons and providing secure conditions for reconstruction of the conflict-scarred state.

– afp/ucan

Dominicans keep hope alive among Iraqi Christian community

February 27, 2015 by  
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dominicans in iraqIraq, February 23, 2015: The continuing presence of courageous men and women religious in Iraq is an important sign of hope amid the suffering of the Christian population there, according to a report by two Dominican leaders who recently visited the country, reports Vatican Radio.

The mid-January visit to Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan region. was at the invitation of the Dominican brothers and sisters in Iraq who often feel forgotten as they struggle to support Christians threatened by the daily violence of the so-called Islamic State militants.

More than 100,000 mainly Christian and Yazidi people fled to Erbil and the surrounding region as the militants captured the city of Mosul last June, threatening and killing those who would not convert to Islam.

Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Dominican order, explained why the West must take responsibility and do all it can to help end the conflict that is devastating the region. He added that one of the things the visit to Iraq made clear was the way that Western intervention in the country, together with suffernig and increasing inequality” has helped to fuel the conflict in the region.

He said that at the present time it’s impossible to imagine any dialogue with the so-called Islamic State, but there are many Muslims they met in Baghdad who long for dialogue and constructive engagement with the West. He noted that the Dominicans established the Baghdad Academy of Human Sciences to provide just such a place of dialogue and debate: of the 5.000 students enrolled in the academy, up to 80% are Muslims.

– cns

How will You help fulfill the great commission?

February 27, 2015 by  
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“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

jesus ascension

You have a mission; we all do.
When we become a part of God’s family, our mission is given to us by God himself:
to help others join that family, too.
Since God loves everyone, there is no one in the entire world he doesn’t want to be in his family.

jesus in the family

Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

When Jesus tells the Church to go to “all nations,”
he isn’t talking about countries; he’s talking about people groups.
He tells us to go to every people group and make disciples.

make disciples

Today, there are 13,000 people groups in the world;
6,350 of those people groups have churches among them,
but less than 2 percent of the population is Christian.
Christianity has spread to every major language group in the world.

Yet there are 3,800 people groups that,
2,000 years after Jesus’ death on the cross,
still have no church in their language. Why?

We simply don’t care enough.
We’re too busy with our own lives to care about people who are dying spiritually.
Instead of telling those 3,800 people groups about the love of Jesus,
we tell them by default to “go to Hell.”

Certainly, it’s a huge task. God’s mission is global.
But it’s not mission impossible; it’s mission inevitable.
The Great Commission will be fulfilled. It’s a certainty.

In fact, the Bible gives us a picture of its fulfillment in Revelation 7:9:
“There before me was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, tribe, people and language,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”


One day there will be people from every language group in the world standing before the throne of Jesus.
The only question for us is this:
Will our generation be the ones to do it?
Or will we give up our responsibility and pass it on to someone else?

Will another generation be the ones
who get the privilege of fulfilling God’s great mission
that he created the whole universe for in the first place?

– fwd: v c mathews

Modi’s secular pitch can give BJP a new face

February 22, 2015 by  
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religious freedomIndia, February 21, 2015: The saffron brotherhood is apparently coming to terms with India’s pluralism – and the constitution.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s observation that his government will act against any religious group inciting violence shows he has realized, albeit belatedly, that he cannot afford to maintain his “dangerous silence”, to quote the New York Times, on the intimidation of minorities by Hindu groups affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

During his prolonged silence, he may have presumed that his backstage counsels of restraint will be accepted by groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which have a long history of fomenting communal trouble.

That the VHP has chosen to give a contrary interpretation to Modi’s speech other than what is generally supposed, by saying that the prime minister was only cautioning the Christians, shows that it remains unrepentant.

However, when the prime minister saw that his quietness was being interpreted as either weakness or acquiescence, he decided to speak out in unambiguous terms.

Moreover, by reiterating the constitutional rights about the propagation of religions and of conversions, the prime minister has turned his back on one of the most provocative of antics conjured up by the saffronties in the name of the minorities returning to their “original” faith of Hinduism via a contrived ‘ghar wapsi’ or home-coming ceremony.

It is not Modi alone who has recognized the norms of personal liberty. The RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, too, has ticked off BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj for calling upon Hindu women to bear four children each. Hindu mothers are not baby-producing factories, Bhagwat has said.

However, this advice goes against the old saffron campaign cautioning against a demographic shift in favour of the minorities with Bhagwat’s predecessor, the late K.S. Sudarshan, asking Hindus to have more children.

What these deviations from the standard saffron line suggest is that the BJP may soon have a new face. The fact that it will bear a close resemblance to the “pseudo-secular” demeanours of the Congress and other non-BJP parties may be a cause of worry to the Hindutva camp, but the rest of the country cannot but welcome such a change.

It is not impossible that the latest electoral drubbing in Delhi has reminded the BJP that the people voted for it not to implement the anti-minority saffron agenda but to revive the economy which had ground to a halt under the Manmohan Singh government.

If Modi persists with his tough line against the trouble-makers of his own party and the RSS affiliates, there will be a new beginning for India in terms of both communal harmony and economic progress.

Such an initiation is likely to take the country towards the direction favoured by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who told the Jaipur literature festival last year that he wanted a “pro-market, pro-business party that does not depend on religious politics and does not prioritize one religious community over all the others”.

The BJP has a fair chance of becoming such a party if it can marginalize its loony fringe like Britain’s Labour party once did.

Now that the Congress has shown signs of pursuing a left-of-centre path since the “right-wing space does not belong to us”, as party general secretary Digvijay Singh has said, there is every possibility of a straightforward confrontation between the BJP and parties like the Biju Janata Dal and the AIADMK on one side and the Congress, the communists, the DMK and the caste-based parties of the Hindi belt on the other.

In that case, the political and economic scene will have much greater clarity compared to the present when Modi’s neo-liberal policies are opposed not only by the Congress, the communists and others but also by neo-fascistic elements of the Hindutva lobby.

Whether Modi will win or lose cannot be said for certain at present since he will be taking on elements that have an entrenched interest in opposing right-wing policies for varying reasons.

While the Congress opposes them because it does not want to abandon the Nehruvian concept of establishing a “socialistic pattern of society”, as a 1955 resolution adopted by the party said, the communists see the pro-market approach as a surrender to American neo-imperialism.

To the RSS, capitalism is the extension of a Western model of the economy and an accompanying governing style based on individualism and consumerism which can undermine the nation’s tradition-bound and abstemious heritage.

On the other hand, parties like the DMK, the casteist outfits of the Hindi heartland, the Trinamool Congress and others favour a controlled economy since, they believe, it will enable them to fill the public sector units with their party rank and file without any thought about efficiency and competitiveness.

In this Utopian, anti-American and self-serving world in which there is a curious meeting of minds between the Left and the Right, Modi remains virtually the only one among the top leaders who has recognized the need to shed the fetishes of the past and enter the present globalized economy.

He also seemingly has the tenacity of purpose to overcome the obstacles in his path such as those posed by the Hindutva Gestapo. If he succeeds, the BJP will have broken free from the shackles of the RSS.

– ians

No Govt proposal for anti-conversion law: Naidu

February 22, 2015 by  
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religion conversionNew Delhi, February 20, 2015: Clearing the government’s position on the controversial ‘ghar wapsi’ events organised by various Hindu groups, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu Thursday said “if religion conversion is wrong, than re-conversion is also wrong”.

In an interview to HeadLines Today channel, the minister said ‘ghar wapsi’ programmes by various organisations might have angered people, but the central government was not responsible for those programmes as the state governments concerned must take care if there was any problem.

“If people convert on their own, than it’s alright,” he said.

Naidu also said there was no proposal by the government to bring in an anti-conversion law.

He accused some parties of playing vote-bank politics on the issue.

Asked whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi was late in reassuring the Christian community on the issue of attacks on churches and other institutions, Naidu said the prime minister was not expected to speak every time something somewhere goes wrong.

“There are authorities, ministers who have been addressing the issues concerned. Why would he (Modi) speak on everything,” he asked, adding that the attacks on churches were already condemned by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

– ians

Bengaluru: Indian United Christian Forum welcomes PM Modi’s statement

February 22, 2015 by  
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Modi's statement on freedom of faithPrime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the national seminar on Challenges to religious life in India at the Vigyan Bhavan-New Delhi at a function to celebrate the elevation to sainthood of two great saints of Kerala – Saint Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Saint Euphresia has been warmly welcomed by the delightful community.

The Office bearers of ICUF who were privileged to be a part of the august occasion do also welcome the statement of the hon’ble Prime Minister, which mainly centered at four important aspects 1) Religious freedom 2) Religious Intolerance 3) Equal respect for all religions and 4) Intolerance of violence in the name of Religion such as:

1)   “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence”.

2)   “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly”.

3)   “Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions. India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian”.

4)   We cannot accept violence against any religion on any pretext and I strongly condemn such violence. My government will act strongly in this regard.

Mr.Modi’s assurance to the Christian community or remarks in support of freedom of religion may have come in the wake of a string of attacks on churches in the capital or after US President Obama had raised eyebrows when he said that independence icon Mahatma Gandhi would have been “shocked” by the religious attacks in India.

Yet, the Catholic Church in India and well meaning Christian’s outside have warmly welcomed, acknowledged and are relieved from the Prime Minister’s sincere and heartfelt assurance.   “We are relieved that he sent out such a strong message and also feel that the Prime Minister has spoken from his heart and he meant what he has said” said his Grace. Anil Couto, the Archbishop of Delhi.

The European Union on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on religious freedom and said that his remarks were “entirely in line with the Indian constitution”, Ambassador Joao Cravinho, said that Modi’s remarks were “upholding the basic principles of freedom of religion, were very welcome and unremarkable”. He also said Modi’s remarks are “entirely in line with the Indian constitution, and it is not surprising he made the remarks”.

While Father Savarimuthu Sankar, the spokesman for Delhi’s Bishop, welcomed the prime minister’s comments, he also indicated they were long overdue, which is also true.

Without casting any aspersions about the statistics being released relating to large number of theft cases in Other Religious Places in Delhi, we also condemn those incidences and demand that the Law of the nation should ensure protection to every Religious Sentiment and Places of Worship.

There are some amongst the Christian community who see the Prime Minister’s statement as directed against the fringe elements of the Sangh Pariwar, after the BJP’s resounding defeat in Delhi and in the context of rising criticism that the Union Government has not been acting firmly against fringe elements of the amorphous Sanghparivar,  while there are some such as the VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain, who says the sermon of religious tolerance by the Prime Minister is actually aimed at “Christians who have been attacking Hindus”.

We feel the statement of the Prime Minister should be taken as a comforting assurance to the Christians and a clear warning to fringe elements not only in the Sangha Pariwar but to the fringe elements in the Christian community also (if any) who attempt to disturb the harmonious fabric of this country. We condemn the statement of the Opposition leader P.C.Chacko that the PM needs to offer similar assurances to parliament, is very unfortunate and uncalled for.

– indian united christian forum press release

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