The CSF and Church bodies back Justice Kurian Joseph

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Chief Justice of India H L DattuKochi, April 7, 2015: The Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) supported Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph, who had opposed the decision of holding a conference of judges on Good Friday.

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu had called a conference of the judges on Good Friday.

The KCBC is a common platform of Catholic Bishops in Kerala. Justice Joseph is a member Syro-Malabar Church, which is one of the three Catholic denominations in Kerala.

“By writing to the Prime Minister against holding judges’ conference on Good Friday, Justice Kurian Joseph has upheld the impartiality of the judiciary and secularism. It is not true to construe that Justice Joseph did not participate in the meeting on the ground that he is a Christian faithful and due to his personal inconvenience,” Fr Varghese Kallikkattu, KCBC secretary, said.

“When it comes to religious issues, we cannot say that the central government and the Prime Minister were adopting impartial stand. It was unfortunate that minority communities are facing discrimination. When such an approach is adopted towards the Christians, others would get a feeling that Christian celebrations and rituals are insignificant. Such an approach is an insult to the Christians,” said Fr Kallikkattu.

Another Church body, the Kerala Region of Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC), said conducting a judges’ conference on Good Fridayinfringed upon the minority rights.

It said the Christian community was “deeply hurt by the act of those at the supreme echelons of the judiciary, ignoring the secular values enshrined in the Constitution.”

– indian express

Attack on Kerala church: Police make no headway

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kerala christiansThrissur, April 8, 2015: Kerala police is yet to make any headway into the case of unidentified people setting afire two bikes and a car parked in front of a Pentecostal Church at Kaniyambal in Kunnamkulam last month.

Police had questioned all the functionaries of pro-Hindu organizations in the locality, but all of them denied any links with miscreants, Circle Inspector of Police in Kunnamkulam Krishna Das told the Indian Express newspaper.

The pastor of the church said that last year some persons had asked him to stop conducting vacation Bible class at the church.

The March 26 attack was just ahead of this years vacation Bible classes. Those who had threatened the pastor last year were not local people and they did not reveal their identity, the newspaper said quoting sources.

State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, who visited the church recently said that if the local police did not make any headway in the investigation, the case would be handed over to the Crime Branch.

He also said that the attempt by some people to cause communal hatred in a place like Kunnamkulam known for religious diversity and communal harmony need to be condemned.

CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishan, who had visited the church on April 1, had said that the ruling UDF Government was going soft on the alleged atrocities committed by Sangh outfits.

– new indian express

Hand chopping case: court reserves verdict

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

t j josephKochi, April 8, 2015: A court in Kochi on Monday reserved its verdict on the case of alleged Islamic fanatics chopping off the right hand of former college professor T.J. Joseph, saying more explanation is required from the accused.

The announcement of the verdict has been postponed.

Joseph, who was teaching at Newman’s College in Thodupuzha was attacked near his house in Muvattupuzha on July 4, 2010 by Popular Front activists who claimed the professor had included a question that insulted the Prophet in an examination.

Six main accused in the case, including the first accused, are still absconding.

The National Investigation Agency said in its charge sheet that the accused attempted to murder the professor with preparations akin to a terrorist strike. They had thrown a country-made bomb at the Joseph’s car to keep passers-by at bay and tried to kill the professor, who was accompanied by his wife.

The Kerala Police had named 54 activists of the Popular Front and the SDPI in its original chargesheet. The NIA took over the investigation on March 9, 2011, making it the first case the national agency investigated in Kerala.

The agency collected evidence against 37 accused but failed to find the main accused, Savad, who chopped off Joseph’s hand at wrist, and M.K. Nasar, the mastermind of the attack.

A chargesheet has been submitted against 31 accused. The trial was held in camera considering the sensitive nature of the case. The NIA produced 306 witnesses before the court.

Joseph’s wife Salomi, a key witness in the case, committed suicide even as her husband was fighting a legal battle to get his job back. The college management suspended him after the question paper stirred a controversy.

The NIA charge sheet says the accused were trying to disturb communal harmony and inciting their community members to violence. They acted like terrorists who conducts trial and imposes punishment on their own.

– manoramaonline

Islam’s growth rate outpacing Christianity’s: Pew study

April 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Islamic YouthInternational, April 8, 2015: Youthfulness and fertility are two factors that will help Islam come close to becoming the world’s dominant religion in just a few short decades.?

That prediction is the heart of a new study by the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life. ?

“Between 2010 and 2050, the world’s total population is expected to rise to 9.3 billion, a 35 percent increase,” the study says.

“Over that same period, Muslims — a comparatively youthful population with high fertility rates — are projected to increase by 73 percent.

The number of Christians also is projected to rise, but more slowly, at about the same rate (35 percent) as the global population overall.”?

That means that by mid-century, there may be 2.92 billion Christians on the planet Earth, as opposed to the 2.17 billion there are now, and 2.76 billion Muslims, over a billion more than there are now. ?

The closing gap between the two religions is more dramatic when considered according to the percentage of the world’s population.

While the percentage of Earth’s inhabitants who follow Christ is expected to remain fairly constant, at the 31.4 percent it is now, the percentage of Muslims will shoot up from its current 23.2 percent to 29.7 percent.?

Muslims and Christians are the two leading groups in fertility, the report says: “Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3.1 children per woman — well above replacement level (2.1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population. Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman.”?

The fact that 34 percent of Muslims in the world are under the age of 15 also helps ensure that Islam will grow faster than other religions. The share of Christians under that age is about the same as the world average, 27 percent. ?

The Pew study also projects that religious conversion will benefit Islam over the next three and a half decades, while Christianity will suffer a net loss due to religious switching.

Acknowledging that “conversion patters are complex and varied,” Pew predicts a net gain of 3.2 million Muslims and a loss of 66 million Christians.?Some of the other conclusions of the Pew study include:

Atheists, agnostics and other people who do not affiliate with any religion — though increasing in countries such as the United States and France — will make up a declining share of the world’s total population.

In Europe, Muslims will make up 10 percent of the overall population.

India will retain a Hindu majority but also will have the largest Muslim population of any country in the world, surpassing Indonesia.

In the United States, Christians will decline from more than three-quarters of the population in 2010 to two-thirds in 2050, and Judaism will no longer be the largest non-Christian religion. Muslims will be more numerous in the U.S. than people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion.

Four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

– aleteia

Pope prays for end to persecution in Easter Sunday address

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

pray for the persecutedVatican City, April 6, 2015: Pope Francis prayed for the students massacred by Islamist militants at Garissa University in Kenya during his Easter Sunday address, asking for an end to the persecution of Christians.

Francis, after saying Mass for thousands of people in a rainy St. Peter`s Square, delivered a mostly sombre and grim “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

Attacks on Christians in Africa and the Middle East have been the grim backdrop of all Holy Week ceremonies leading up to Easter.

“We ask Jesus, the victor over death, to lighten the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted for his name, and of all those who suffer injustice as a result of ongoing conflicts and violence – and there are many,” he said.

The pope spoke as churches in Kenya, where al Shabaab gunmen massacred nearly 150 people, singling out Christians for point-blank executions, turned to armed guards to protect their congregations on the most important day of the Christian liturgical year.

“May constant prayer rise up from all people of goodwill for those who lost their lives – I think in particular of the young people who were killed last Thursday at Garissa University College in Kenya – for all who have been kidnapped, and for those forced to abandon their homes and their dear ones.”

The 78-year-old Argentine pope, celebrating the third Easter of his pontificate, spoke from the central balcony of St Peter`s Basilica after saying a Mass below for tens of thousands of people wearing plastic ponchos and holding umbrellas against the driving rain.

Calling for peace in Libya, where last February Islamic State militants beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, the pope called for an end to “the present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence”.

He prayed for peace in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, where Boko Haram Islamist militants have also targeted Christian churches.

“We ask for peace and freedom for the many men and women subjected to old and new forms of enslavement on the part of criminal individuals and groups,” he said.

“Peace and liberty for the victims of drug dealers, who are often allied with the powers who ought to defend peace and harmony in the human family. And we ask peace for this world subjected to arms dealers, who make their money from the blood of men and women” he said.

Just about the only positive part in the pope`s address was a reference to the deal reached in Switzerland last week between Iran and the international community on a framework for a nuclear accord.

“In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world,” he said.

– zee news

The Wahhabi threat to Southeast Asia

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

The Wahhabi threatMalaysia, March 30, 2015: When I joined the foreign ministry in 1972, a major foreign policy concern in the region was that Southeast Asian nations would soon fall like dominoes to militant communism supported and abetted by the People’s Republic of China. Fortunately, the dominoes held.

Today, the old domino theory may well be applicable to a new danger: Islamic extremism.

Violent jihadi groups drawing inspiration and support from Al-Qaeda and ISIS have sprouted in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Armed attacks, suicide bombers, beheadings and violence against innocent civilians have made the news.

Young Southeast Asian Muslims are also gravitating to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq to join some of the most violent and extremist jihadi groups. The Jakarta Globe, for example, recently reported that more than 500 Indonesians have joined the ranks of ISIS. Militants from Indonesia and Malaysia fighting in Syria have reportedly even formed a military unit for Malay-speaking ISIS fighters — Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyyah (Malay Archipelago Unit for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and have participated in suicide missions.

According to some experts, jihadi groups in the region are using the Syrian war to create a pool of combat-trained and indoctrinated recruits for eventual deployment at home. Local security forces have responded by rounding up ISIS militants and sympathizers.

Just as worrying, religious extremism is now reaching alarming levels within Muslim societies with profound political and security implications for the entire region.

Once moderate Malaysia, for example, is awash in an acrimonious and polarizing debate about the imposition of sharia law that could drive the country to the brink of chaos. Muslims and others who speak out against sharia are threatened, intimidated and harassed. The inspector-general of police, no less, has warned that even questioning sharia law might provoke an ISIS attack! The very fact that a constitutionally secular and democratic nation like Malaysia is even having a discussion about amputating limbs, beheading, stoning, and even crucifixion is mind-boggling, and telling.

While militant groups and hot-button issues like sharia law have understandably drawn significant attention, more fundamental questions about the causes of Islamic extremism in the region have not been adequately examined. Why is the culture of intolerance, hate and violence that permeates so much of the Middle East now being manifested in Southeast Asia? What has caused this rising tide of Islamic extremism that is now threatening to overwhelm the region’s fragile democracies, stymieing nation-building agendas and fraying already tenuous inter-communal relationships?

The Wahhabi factor

Clearly, this growing extremism is not happening in a vacuum and neither are its roots entirely home grown. Security experts increasingly point to the Wahhabi ideology that is being aggressively exported by Saudi Arabia as the single biggest cause of extremism in the region.

Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia, is an exceptionally virulent, narrow and militant interpretation of Islam based on the teachings of an austere 18th-century preacher and scholar, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792). Over time, it has morphed into an all-encompassing politico-religious theology that considers all other faith groups deviant, has no tolerance for other cultures, no respect for human rights, no love for democracy and an abiding distaste of Western values. It is harsh, puritanical, unforgiving and violent.

The ultimate goal of Wahhabism is one global community with one creed (Wahhabism) ruled by one Khalifah (ruler), presumably the House of Saud. It makes for a grand strategy not just for hegemony in the Middle East but for global domination.

Over the last few decades, Saudi Arabia has spent more than US$100 billion exporting Wahhabism to all corners of the globe. Thousands of mosques, seminaries, universities, schools and community centers have been built, while thousands of preachers, teachers and activists have been educated, trained and dispatched across the world along with Wahhabi-approved textbooks and other literature.

The Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has such a stranglehold on Sunni religious discourse that its views now predominate. The House of Saud has also deftly used its unique position within Islam as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to leverage strategic influence, respect and power over the global Islamic community.

The Saudi-based, Saudi-funded Muslim World League (MWL), founded in 1962, is one of the principal channels of Wahhabi infiltration, influence and control. It actively promotes Wahhabi doctrines, theology and practices on a global scale. The MWL has more than 56 offices and centers on five continents. No surprise, therefore, that Wahhabism has emerged as a major, if entirely negative, force in the world today.

Wahhabism also provides the theological underpinning for almost every violent jihadi group, is behind much of the impetus to replace secular democratic institutions with fundamentalist Islamic ones and is the main driving force behind the radicalization of young Muslims.

Unquestionably, the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has become the greatest single threat to peace and stability in the world today.

And it is now casting a long shadow over Southeast Asia as decades of Wahhabi infiltration, indoctrination and influence come to boil.

Southeast Asia: the next battleground?

Most of Southeast Asia’s radical groups — certainly groups like Jemmah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf, Laskar Jihad, Kumpulun Mujahidin Malaysia and Jemmah Salafiyah — have ties to the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus as did the 9/11 terrorists. Saudi organizations like the International Islamic Relief Organization (once headed by Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law) have been implicated in funding a number of these jihadi groups as well, prompting the US treasury department to declare some of its branches terrorist entities.

Over the years, Saudi Arabia has also built up a significant cadre of Wahhabi-trained academics, preachers and teachers across the region. Many of them are now in the forefront of movements and lobby groups agitating for greater Islamization, demanding the imposition of sharia law, pushing for stricter controls on other faiths, and working behind the scenes to influence official policy and shape public opinion. What is unfolding is nothing less than the gradual “Saudization” of Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian governments have clearly been far too complacent and have failed to adequately respond to the mushrooming Wahhabi threat both from without and from within. They appear to be in a state of denial about the magnitude of the problem, responding with half-hearted measures to address the more immediate threat posed by militant groups while leaving the Saudi-Wahhabi infrastructure of extremism intact. They are too intimidated by Saudi Arabia’s religious credentials and too mesmerized by its wealth for their own good.

Worse still, negligence has often been compounded by complicity with some political leaders exploiting religion for their own purposes. It is no secret, for example, that in Malaysia a dangerous political game is being played with the sharia issue despite the enormous damage it is doing. And in Brunei, the sultan has sought to out-maneuver the Islamists, as well as consolidate his own position, by pre-emptively declaring an Islamic state replete with sharia law and restrictions on other religious groups. Only time will tell whether such a strategy will assuage the extremists or merely feed their appetite.

There is now a real danger that unless Southeast Asian governments act quickly and decisively, the region could end up a zone of violence, instability and stagnation instead of the vibrant and stable community they have spent many years developing.

Here are some urgent steps that should be considered in addition to security measures against jihadi groups:

Begin an honest conversation with the Saudis about the damage that Wahhabism is doing to their societies.

Work with the international community to identify and dismantle the entire infrastructure of extremism (the institutions, the organizations and groups, the schools and madrasas, the funding, the dissemination of extremist literature).

Reaffirm commitment to pluralism and democracy, and aggressively incorporate its values into the political, educational, social and legal fabric of society.

Urgent action now might just give the many Muslim moderates in the region — like the Group of 25, Sisters in Islam and the Islamic Renaissance Front in Malaysia — the space and the time they need to reclaim the middle ground and reassert the essentially moderate, peaceful and tolerant nature of their faith before the dominoes fall to the extremists.

Dennis Ignatius is a retired Malaysian diplomat. He served in London, Beijing and Washington and was ambassador to Chile and Argentina, and High Commissioner to Canada.

– the malaysian insider

Srinagar: Pastor Paul Augustine released on bail

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

JailedJammu & Kashmir, April 02, 2015: Pastor Paul Augustine, GCIC Coordinator in Jammu & Kashmir, who was arrested along with 3 other members of his congregation after the Worship Service on Sunday, 29-03-2015, have been released on bail on 01-04-2015, Wednesday evening, after detaining them in the police lock up for four days. In the midst of the Holy Week schedule, Pastor Paul has to keep running now for a permanent bail for his church members as well as for himself.

As reported earlier, Pastor Paul Augustine was conducting his Sunday morning worship service on 29-03-2015 at the regular church allotted for Christians to have their prayer services at the Recruit Training Centre of the CRPF at Humama in Srinagar.

On that day, the worship service though scheduled for 8.30 a.m. was delayed a bit due to the heavy rains in the Kashmir Valley and the service actually began at about 9 in the morning. Though he has a total congregation of about 100 believers, only about 40 were present on that Sunday morning. A friend of his, one Bro. Philip from Udampur was also present in the church along with a guest of his. Also, some Muslim friends were present in the church.

Pastor Paul was preaching on the Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd….“and then noticed some Muslim Maulvis peeping through the windows near the door. As soon as the worship service was over, some of the Muslims along with the Maulvis gathered outside the church and caught hold of the Muslims who were present in the church and began to beat them and then took them to the Humama Chowk and also began shouting and forcing them to say that “Father Paul was converting them Christianity”. In the meantime a huge crowd gathered at the Chowk.

Pastor Paul told them that they could verify the facts and settle the issue at the police station instead of having a fight in the middle of the road at the Humama Chowk. When they went to the police station on the Humama Airport Road, Srinagar, the Muslims complained against Pastor Paul that he was luring Muslims to become Christians. Based on their complaint Pastor Paul was arrested along with three other believers and detained in the police station on charges under RPC – 153/a and 295/A. It is also learnt that the Maulvis were threatening the Muslims who were present in the church to bear witness against Pastor Paul Augustine that he was forcing them to become Christians. Please pray for him.

– newsman

Detention of VHP activists ‘anti-Hindu’: Togadia

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

VHP activistChandigarh, April 6, 2015: Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia on Sunday lashed out at the West Bengal government over the detention of VHP activists there, and termed the action “anti-Hindu”.

The Hindutva leader told media persons here that the detention of nearly 500 VHP activists ahead of his visit to West Bengal was a clear attempt to muzzle the voice of Hindus.

“The act is dictatorial, anti-Hindu and anti-democratic. We will raise our voice and no one can stop us from doing that. The voice of Hindus cannot be muzzled,” he said.

He said the VHP will continue to raise its voice over the social media.

Citing fears of communal tension and law and order issues, the West Bengal government had banned Togadia’s entry into the state. He was to address a rally in Raiganj town.

Togadia demanded that illegal Bangladeshi migrants living in India should be immediately sent back.

He also said the government should effectively implement the two-child norm for everyone in the country.

– ians

Diocese of Mangalore: School, catechism & solar panels for mission in Africa

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

The Mangalore-Africa projectMangalore, March 31, 2015: Spiritual Guidance, Education and Development: This is the mission of four Indian priests among tribal Kituri, in Tanzania. Originally from the Diocese of Mangalore (Karnataka), working in Africa since 2012, they are part of a project promoted by their bishop, Msgr. Aloysius Paul D’Souza, to mark the 125th anniversary of the diocese. “On this occasion – said the prelate to AsiaNews – we thought it was high time for us to share the faith with those who need it most. So we decided to go to Africa. “

The choice fell on a remote area of ​​the diocese of Same, where the population – partly Catholic – had no water, no electricity, nor a priest for spiritual assistance. The priests are Fr. Alwyn M. J. D’Souza, superior of the mission and responsible for youth formation and public relations; Fr. Hillary Lobo, pastor of Kifaru; Fr. Ronald Pinto, director of the educational apostolate; Fr. Victor Machado, director of social-cultural care and development.

Msgr. D’Souza told AsiaNews: “We have now established the parish of Kifaru and four stations. Every Sunday our priests are in different communities to celebrate Mass and to teach catechism. In Tanzania, the government places no restrictions, so we can teach our religion. ”

The Mangalore-Africa project started with the construction of a boys secondary school, which today is also the college. “Things are going very well – said the prelate – there are 150 students enrolled and school staff consists of 12 people. One of the priests is the headmaster. From this year, two sisters of the diocese of Mangalore have joined the staff. The institute also teaches catechism, to all students, not just Christians. ”

Alongside the work of the new evangelization, said Msgr. D’Souza, “we have also initiated a development program. When we arrived, the area was without electricity and water. Over time we have installed solar panels among 700 families to light their homes. Now the most urgent need is to give them water, so they do not have to travel so far to get it”.

In just two and a half years the mission has grown, but there is still a lot to do. “We always lookto the integral development of the population – said the Bishop of Mangalore – we are about to open a kindergarten for the children of the area. Our project is to start from the bottom and allow these people access to education from an early age. Then we are planning to help these people to create self-help groups, to learn how to organize themselves together, and to promote the empowerment of women. ”

“The response of the population – he notes – has been very good. They were a bit ‘excluded, no one wanted to go there, there was no priest in the area, so when we arrived we were greeted with joy. They collaborate a lot with us. “

According to Msgr. D’Souza, the Mangalore-Africa project “can be considered a model for the Indian Church. Our diocese is the first in the country to have started a mission in a foreign country. We are trying to follow what  Pius XII said in his encyclical Fidei Donum “.

– asianews

A minute with God

April 6, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

My name is God. You hardly have time for me. I love you and will always bless you. I am
always with you. I need you to spend 30 secs. of your time with Me today.

Don’t pray, just praise.

Praise

Why do we feel  sleepy in prayer, but stay awake through a 3 hour movie?
Why are we so  bored when we look at the HOLY BOOK but find it easy to read other books?

Read me

Why are prayers  getting smaller, but bars and clubs are expanding?
Why is it so  easy to worship a celebrity, but very difficult to engage with God?

God has no BLACKBERRY but he’s my favorite contact.

He is not on  FACEBOOK but he is my best friend.

He is not on  TWITTER but I still follow Him, and even without the INTERNET

God online

I am always  connected to him.
He is not on gmail but he’s always online.

– fwd: menino martis

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