Cardinal rebukes 500 priests for going to the press with call to resist change to church teaching

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Synod on the FamilyEngland, March 24, 2015: Cardinal Vincent Nichols has rebuked the almost 500 priests in England and Wales who have signed a letter resisting any change to church teaching at the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family in October, saying that discussions between priests and bishops ahead of the gathering are “not best conducted through the press”.

Almost 500 priests in England and Wales have signed a letter calling on the Vatican’s next Synod on the Family to proclaim the Church’s “unchanging” moral teaching and resist any move allowing Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The 461 priests endorsed a letter, reported earlier this month by The Tablet and published in the Catholic Herald, that was initiated by a group of a dozen conservative-minded clergy. The 12 had circulated a letter and a covering note to priests in England and Wales. The note invited priests to sign the letter that was composed for publication in the press.

The letter expresses fidelity to the Church’s traditional doctrines of marriage and sexuality, and affirms the traditional discipline “regarding the reception of the sacraments” (which bars Communion for the divorced and remarried).

The covering note to the letter contended that the media’s reporting of the 2014 synod had left a “distorted sense” that the Church’s moral teaching could be changed.

The letter with 461 signatories appeared on the Catholic Herald website on Tuesday. One signatory, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Catholic Herald there “has been a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior Churchmen”.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Nichols issued a statement saying every priest in England and Wales has been asked to reflect on the synod discussion and that their pastoral experience and concern are of “great importance”. He added, however, that the “dialogue between a priest and his bishop, is not best conducted through the press.”

The number of signatories to the letter totals around 12 per cent of priests in England and Wales. There are currently around 3,000 active diocesan priests and 1,000 religious priests. The signatories include religious but do not say whether priests are retired or not. There are around 800 retired clergy.

The 12 priests who initiated the letter include the Dominican theologian Fr Aidan Nichols, who in a letter to The Tablet this week writes: “[The] nuptial relation between husband and wife embodies in sacramental form the bond between Christ and his Church-Bride. How, then, in the lifetime of a still recognised spouse can a household with a second (or third, etc.) partner present itself, in a “domestic church’ manner, at the Table of the Lord?”

Other priests supporting the letter are: Fr Julian Large, provost of the London Oratory, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke of St Patrick’s, Soho Square in London, Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Margate, Kent; Mgr Edwin Barnes, former Church of England bishop and a priest of the ordinariate; Mgr Gordon Read, chancellor of the Diocese of Brentwood; Fr Andrew Pinsent, research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford; Fr John Saward, a theologian who is priest-in-charge of an Oxford parish; Fr Robert Billing, spokesman for the Diocese of Lancaster, Fr Roger Nesbitt, parish priest of St Bede’s in Clapham, south London, where the old rite is regularly celebrated, and Fr Neil Brett of the Diocese of Brentwood.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who attended the last synod and will be at the next one in October, has said divorced and remarried people could be readmitted to Communion under certain conditions.

– the tablet

Christian school gets threat letters

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Christian school in west bengalKolkata, March 26, 2015: A Christian school Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal has received letters threatening to set it ablaze if the nun, who heads the institute, does not leave, reports said on Wednesday.

Reports say that the school has received four letters, which threaten to set on fire a nearby church too.

The West Bengal administration has made elaborate security arrangements for the missionary school.

Security was beefed up after the nun filed a police complaint on Sunday, Zee news reported.

The latest episode has come to the fore days after a school in Ranaghat was attacked and a 71-year-old nun was gang-raped.

While the attacks on Christian institutions continue in various parts of the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said everything will be done to ensure their security.

There were several attacks o Christian churches in the past month. A church was allegedly vandalised in Haryana in the last fortnight.

In Jabalpur, a cathedral premises and a Catholic school where people had gathered for a religious convention were vandalised allegedly by Hindu activists on March 20.

A catholic church in New Panvel was attacked in the wee hours of Saturday.

Also, in the last few months, several churches and a school have been allegedly vandalised in Delhi, prompting Christian groups to demand protection for their institutions and action against those involved in such acts.

– zee news

Rector murder case

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Rector murder caseKarnataka, March 24, 2015: The High Court of Karnataka  rejected the bail applications yesterday (24/3/2015) of Fr. William Patrick, Fr. Ellias Daniel and Altar Boy Peter in the Rector murder case of Fr. K.J. Thomas of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary . March 31  makes the second anniversary of the gruesome and bloody murder of the Priest appointed by Rome to head the prestigious institution.

The High Court of Karnataka observed that a prima-facie  case has been made out and that the accused being influential and well funded are likely to interfere with the investigation.

Two other accused  Francis and Swamy are absconding. After the murder Vatican expressed shock and anguish and instructed its Apostolic Nuncio H.E. Salvatore Pennacchio  to take up the case with the  Government of India.

The case was personally investigated by  the  Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr. V.S. D’Souza under the supervision  of Inspector General of Police  Mr. Pranab Mohanti, IPS currently IG in CID.

The accused have been well funded by a small group of pro-Kannada priests led by one Fr. Chesara. “ During the investigation volumes of call details were analyzed and hundreds of people were questioned,” then Director General of Police Mr L.R. Pachuau had said.

The 62 year old Fr Kochupuryil J Thomas was born on May 13, 1951 at Ettumanoor near Kottayam in Kerala. After his high school studies in his native place, he joined the Diocese of Ooty as a minor seminarian due to the fraternal and vocational influence of his uncle, who is a priest still alive.  He did his major seminary studies and had formation at St. Peter’s Pontifical  Seminary/Institute in Bangalore.

Karnataka Kannada Dharmagurugala Balaga ( Forum of Kannada Priests)  led by its President Fr. Chesara  have collected funds and have approached political leaders of both the Congress and the BJP to defend the accused.  He has demanded that the Bangalore Archbishop Dr. Bernard Moras  also be  subjected to interrogation  for hisRole.   He wanted an independent and effective impartial CBI enquiry in the case.

“We strongly and vehemently deny the false, fabricated, conspired and framed charges against the priests”,  Fr. Chesara said and expressed the “total displeasure and heartfelt pain about twisting and turning the brutal murder of the Rector into an instrument to put down four decades of intensive struggle by the Kannada Christians for just rights in the Archdiocese of Karnataka.”   Fr. Chesara has attacked the Home Minister Mr K.J. George as an outsider who is interfering in Kannada matters. He also said that the Archbishop has been targeting the innocent Catholics with ulterior motives of victimization.

The Catholic community is restive over the delay in making further arrests and in filing the final charge-sheet. “They want justice for the departed soul,” said  CSF Chairman, Justice M.F. Saldanha. How long will this investigation take ?  Why can’t the Bangalore Police Commissioner Mr M.N. Reddi speed it up ? ”

– press report

Jharkhand Christian schools targeted

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Jharkhand Christian schoolsJharkhand, March 26, 2015: Officials of Christian schools in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad say district officials accused them for faulting rules of Right to Education (RTE) Act, and threatened action without considering their rights as minority institutions.

As many as 48 principals from higher secondary schools in the district, including catholic schools, were summoned on Wednesday to the meeting at the deputy commissioner’s office by Dhanbad superintendent of education (DSE) Bankey Behari.

But representative of De Nobili group of schools Father Gerald D’Souza and Margaret Mary principal of Carmel School in Dhanbad alleged the officials singled them out and targeted them, accusing them of faulting in the implementaion of the RTE.

“The DSE asked me to leave the hall as I am not a principal but a representative of the eight De Nobili schools. I was called rule flouter by Manoj Mishra, secretary of Jharkhand Abhibhavak Manch,” D’Souza said.

Dhanbad’s additional collector B.P.L. Das chaired the meeting that was attended by Behari and members of Jharkhand Abhibhavak Manch.

Das asked all schools to abide by the RTE Act and submit action-taken reports furnishing all information by March 31. He gave schools time to implement all rules till April 15 and warned of action in case of any complaint.

Sister Margaret Mary said the Supreme Court has allowed certain privileges to Christian minority schools in implementing the RTE, which aims to help government to provide free education all children.

“We (Christian minority institutions) cannot be forced to abide by rules blindly,” she said.

Refuting the allegations, additional collector Das said: “No one was insulted. We only asked all the schools to adhere to the RTE Act,” the Telegraph reported.

– ucan

China court sentences pastor to one year for protesting church demolitions

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

China court sentences pastor to one year for protesting church demolitionsHong Kong, March 25, 2015: A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced a Protestant pastor to one year behind bars, the first prison term handed down by authorities in Zhejiang province following a demolition campaign targeting hundreds of churches.

Pastor Huang Yizi was found guilty of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” after he and a group of Christians tried unsuccessfully to protect the cross of Salvation Church from police in July last year.

About 600 supporters of the pastor crowded outside the Pingyang County courthouse until the trial concluded yesterday evening as many complained authorities had filled the court with officials so that only six friends and family members could attend.

“We must appeal, the entire trial is a violation of [legal] procedure,” defense lawyer Zhang Kai told US-based Christian rights group China Aid.

Pastor Huang of Fenwo Church was detained in August, a month after baton-wielding police forced their way past Christians at Salvation Church during the height of a provincial campaign in which 400 crosses were removed and 35 churches destroyed in Zhejiang.

During the police operation at Salvation Church, more than a dozen Christians were hospitalized including three people who reportedly suffered fractured skulls.

Prosecutors originally charged Pastor Huang with assaulting state officials but later altered the charges to disturbing public order.

“The culprit who hit people until they were seriously wounded is still at large while Pastor Huang — who seeks justice — is sentenced to prison. There is no justice,” one elderly Christian said outside the courtroom yesterday.

“Those who created false cases must be held accountable. This is the common aspiration of the million faithful in Wenzhou.”

Pastor Huang’s wife missed yesterday’s trial in order to travel to Beijing to petition the central government over the case.

The Communist Party yesterday issued guidelines it said would see greater public and central government oversight over provincial and city authorities after years of abuse of power, but these are not expected to be fully implemented until the end of next year.

In January, Pastor Huang’s defense filed three counter suits including wrongful detention but the court refused to accept them without justifying its decision.

In another of the three denied by the court, the pastor claimed that the Public Security Bureau and local government told him he would be released if he dismissed his lawyers, which is a violation of Chinese law.

Huang followed their request in December but then rehired his legal team after authorities failed to release him.

“Through arbitrary arrests, baseless prosecution and illegal procedures throughout this trial, this case shows once again the worsening situation of religious freedom and rule of law in China,” said Pastor Bob Fu, president of China Aid.

“We call upon China’s higher authorities to overturn this unjust decision and free Pastor Huang immediately.”

Courts in Zhejiang are scheduled to hear a number of other cases of people who tried to stand in the way of the provincial government’s church demolition campaign, which reportedly ended in December.

A court in Wenzhou’s Yongjia County on Wednesday was due to hear the cases of three Christians arrested during the demolition of Sanjiang Church, the largest in the city until it was turn down by authorities in April last year.

– ucan

Lahore: Masked gunmen fire on police at catholic church

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Masked gunmen fire on police at catholic churchLahore, March 25, 2015: Unidentified gunmen on Tuesday opened fire on policemen guarding a Catholic Church in the southern Pakistani city of Lahore, police officials said.

Asif Khan, a local township police officer, confirmed the attack, which took place outside St Peter’s Catholic Church and High School day.

“Two masked men riding a motorbike fired on policemen, who were deployed outside the church,” Khan told “Police retaliated, after which the assailants sped away.”

Two passersby were injured in the crossfire but no other injuries were reported, Asif said, adding that police had obtained CCTV footage from the Church and have launched an investigation.

According to local media reports, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has directed police to submit a report of the incident.

Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, said he was aware of the incident and that no Church or school staff were injured in the attack.

Sardar Mushtaq Gill, a Christian rights activist and lawyer, condemned the attack.

“It is unbelievable how militants fired at the church guards and managed to flee,” said Gill. “We urge the government to beef up security at churches.”

He added that twin suicide bombings by the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction in the Youhanabad neighborhood of Lahore earlier this month had created a sense of fear and insecurity among the Christian minority community.

The bombings, which left 14 dead and more than 70 others inured, also sparked riots in which two men thought to be associated with the bombers were beaten to death — a rare example of violence on the part of Christians in Pakistan.

– ucan

When I say I am a Christian

March 26, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

When I say that ‘I am a Christian’….
I am not shouting that ‘I am clean living.
I’m whispering ‘I was lost, but now I’m found and forgiven.’


When I say ‘I am a Christian’….
I don’t speak of this with pride.
I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say ‘I am a Christian’….
I’m not trying to be strong.
I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.

When I say ‘I am a Christian’ ….
I’m not bragging of success.
I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

When I say ‘I am a Christian’….
I’m not claiming to be perfect.
My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.


When I say ‘I am a Christian’ ….
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

When I say ‘I am a Christian’….
I’m not holier than thou,
I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace, somehow!

– fwd: menino martis

Over 12,000 Maharashtra Police posts vacant

March 21, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

maharashtra policeMumbai, March 14, 2015: Maharashtra has a staggering 12,115 police posts ranging from constables to additional director-general of police lying vacant, an RTI query revealed here on Saturday.

Of these, the highest number – 2,708 vacancies – are of police sub-inspector (PSI) rank, a critical backbone of the entire police department supporting investigations and maintaining law and order, said activist Anil Galgali.

The state has 219,986 police posts, of which 12,115 are vacant for various reasons.

Against the requirement of 9,659 posts of PSI, 6,951 are filled up, with a shortfall of 2,708.

Of 25 posts of additional director-general of police, three are vacant. Of the 47 posts of special inspector general of police (IGP), eight are vacant.

Similarly, seven out of 38 posts of deputy IGP, including two vacancies for two sanctioned posts of deputy IGP (technical), are not filled up.

At the superintendent of police (SP) and deputy commissioner of police level, out of the 265 sanctioned posts 30 are vacant, while there are 209 vacancies for the post deputy SP or ACP (unarmed) out of the 686 posts, he added.

In the armed category of deputy SP or ACP, there are 50 vacancies out of 87 posts, for assistant police inspector posts – 471 unfilled out of 4,447, for assistant sub-inspector there are 1,030 vacant out of 18,804, while for the post of police constables 2,323 out of 42,964 are vacant and constables 4,101 out of 96,240 are vacant.

The categories of police sub-inspector of motor transport of marine IInd Class and First Class Master Engine Driver are run with only 11 out of the total 270 posts, PSI Motor Transport 54 vacant out of 109 posts and at many times the current employees work under inhuman conditional due to severe pressures, Galgali said.

Following the replies from Public Information Officer P.K. Ghuge of the Maharashtra DGP office, Galgali brought it to the notice of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is holding the home portfolio.

He urged Fadnavis to take measures to immediately fill up the large number of vacancies at various levels to relieve the unwarranted stress and pressures on the police force.
“In fact, such constant pressures and difficult working conditions have resulted in various health conditions for the police force, resulting in suicides, heart attacks and other issues in recent years,” Galgali said.

– tcn


Christian Protest of Candle-lit Rally of Warangal

March 21, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Candle-lit Rally of WarangalWest Bengal, March 18, 2015: A loudly silent protest rally against the atrocities committed against Christians all over India especially the Catholic nun of 72 years in West Bengal and the constant attacks on churches and institutions was led by Bishop Udumala Bala. About 600 Catholics and Protestant Christians went on a Dharna in the heart of Warangal city. A good number of priests and nuns participated along with laity expressing solidarity and anguish and demanded justice for victims.

In a strong worded speech, Bishop Udumala Bala condemned the heinous acts committed by some anti-social and anti-Christian elements against the innocent and peace loving Christians across the nation. He voiced out his anguish and demanded safety of the Church personnel. The bishop opined that these crimes seemed to have an organized strategy to intimidate Christians. He expressed his deep sentiments of solidarity with those who are persecuted including the aged and ailing nun who was raped in West Bengal and expressed  surprise that there were no arrests made even after 5 days. His anxiety for the safety of the Christians in the face of various religious fundamentalists was clear and loud.

Under the guise of nationalism the way the government is handling the situation is causing fear among Christians. He condemned all these barbaric acts and encouraged the gathering to be fearless to serve the nation in the name of Christ, who told not only  to show the other cheek when one strikes on the one, but also questioned when a soldier struck him in front of high priest.

Brief but strong messages of solidarity and the need for Unity among all the Christians were delivered by a few priests, nuns, protestant pastors and lay young woman and men.

As a fitting climax of the protest dharna, all the members marched in procession on the main streets for 30 minutes with lighted candles, placards & banners and singing hymns of forgiveness and justice. All the participants lauded the daring call of Bishop Dr. Udumala Bala to protest in unison as one Church of Christ.

Electronic and print media covered this protest dharna and rally and gave wide publicity.

– warangal diocese


Massive dharna in Ahmedabad

March 21, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

DharnaAhmedabad, March 20, 2015: It was a sea of humanity which Ahmedabad has rarely witnessed in recent times.  They came from all over – young and old, poor and rich from the slums and from the villages, ordinary people and those who belong to the cream of society. There were Hindus and Muslims, Jains and Buddhists, Parsis and Christians; some of them were also agnostics and atheists. They represented a whole cross section of society.

Inspite of their differences, they were together with one voice: ‘Enough is Enough!’ ‘Stop the Attacks on women, minorities, adivasis, dalits, farmers, poor and other vulnerable sections!’  ‘Protect & Promote Constitutional Rights!’ Speaker after speaker voiced their concern about what is happening in the country today. A handout distributed at the Dharna highlighted in particular the frequency of the attacks on women and minorities:

“What is happening to the women in India is indeed shocking; a highly patriarchal mindset with great gender insensitivity naturally provokes and even legitimises inhuman acts. Almost daily, we read about assaults, molestations and rapes of women. A normal society will never be able to accept the brutal rape of a six year old girl child in Ahmedabad or the barbaric gang-rape of a seventy-two year old nun in West Bengal. Yogi Adityanath’s men telling Hindus to rape dead Muslim women is sick to the core! Women today from all walks of life feel more and more insecure.

The attacks on minorities take place today with frightening regularity. Ministers of the Central Government and Members of Parliament make the most derogatory remarks against Christians and Muslims; they do so with impunity and immunity. Attacks on Christian institutions, Church personnel and the desecration of what is sacred to the Christians seem to happen all the time. Minorities are systematically denigrated with a highly placed politician even going on record to say that ‘Mosques and Churches are mere buildings’; besides, the divisive ‘ghar wapsi’ programmes; the insidious remarks to make ‘Gita’ as the country’s national book; the attempts to take away the ‘secular’ dimension from the Constitution are all areas of concern for large sections of India’s population.”

Among the several eminent speakers which spoke were Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes sj of Gandhinagar, Bishop Silvans Christian of the CNI, Gujarat, Bishop Thomas Macwan of Ahmedabad, Fr. Francis Parmar, the Provincial Superior of the Gujarat Jesuits, Mr. Girish Patel, Senior Counsel, Gujarat High Court and doyen of the Human Rights Movement of Gujarat, Mr Gautam Thakker of the PUCL, Sr Nirmala Pricipal of  the Convent of Jesus and Mary Baroda, women activists Ms. Sophia Khan , Meenakshi Joshi, Sara Baltiwala and Ms. Sheba George.

At the end of the programme, the general feeling of the massive crowd was one of great satisfaction of the way they had broad-canvassed the issues that face the common person today and they were convinced that civil society all over needs to come out in larger numbers in order to safeguard the rights and freedom of every single citizen of the country.

The dharna was organised by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR) and supported by several like-minded individuals and groups which include Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), ANHAD, SANCHETNA, SAHR WARU, Darshan, INSAF, Ahmedabad Women Action Group (AWAG), SAFAR, Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM)

– cedric prakash sj


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