Kerala leadership conference

December 16, 2011 by  
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KCMCKerala, December 14, 2011: Leadership is the only thing that makes a difference between a successful organisation and otherwise.

It was really an inspiring and recharging experience for everyone to spend a day with Rev Dr Joy James SJ – The dean of Loyola college Thiruvanathapuram.

He is a well versed in Pro-social programmers. He collaborated with different governments in developing manifold social projects for the empowering of women and the needy one.

He has proved his authority in this field through various innovating studies and projects like Kudumbasree which is a powerful women movement for the growth of women in society.

He introduced group activities to plan out programmers for CRI units in favor of various social issues where the religious can contribute much to the welfare of the less privileged groups or to any relevant are of the society.

He helped the groups to identify the social issues to be addressed- areas like Health work, Education, social action, and Dalit community.

The workshop, team work, and concrete training for developing programmes helped every participant to move with a motive in life for the needy to have a self awareness- which will lead to attitude and action.

Fr George Puramadathil CFIC presented his insights on Dalit Christian welfare. Fr Mathai Kadavil OIC spoke on mission and youth animation.

All unit secretaries presented annual reports and accounts. The meeting also passed a resolution to construct a new dam at Mullaperiyar.

Admiring the commitment and sacrifice of Sr Valsa John the group felt that the work must go on.

In his welcome speech, RevDr Francis Kodiyan MCBS, KCMS president highlighted the fundamental principles Christian leadership.

In his inaugural address, Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath, President KCBC, exhorted every one present to be united with Jesus as we read in Gospel, ‘I am the vine and you are the branches .remain in me” Jn 15, 1-10.

He underlined the need for a deeper relationship with our leader Jesus Christ by presenting the figure of the Good shepherd in Jn.10:11.

The Kerala Conference of Major Superiors (KCMS) has convened the leadership conference for the all Kerala CRI unit executives on 9-11December at Assisi Shanthi Kendra, Karukutty.

– sr. nitya

CHRISTmas – The birthday of Santa Claus? by Bishop Franco Mulakkal

December 15, 2011 by  
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Birth JesusNew Delhi, December 14, 2011: First of all let me thank Rev. Fr. Babu Joseph who invited me to a give a message for this gathering organized by the staff of the CBCI and the Caritas in Delhi. I humbly consider it as a privilege to say a few words on this occasion. In my Christmas message, I would like to be in line with the Holy Father Benedict XVI who recently said in one of the parishes in the diocese of Rome that during the advent we should focus on Christ the Lord who enters our lives and brings us light and joy, without being distracted by the lights. He also mentioned that we must give things their correct value and fix our inner gaze on Christ.

We are gathered here in the capital and the CBCI being the nerve centre of the Church in India, if I could say so, I think there is a need to feel a kind of sense of responsibility. Let us ask a few questions like, has Christmas become Xmas like ex-minister?: – meaning Christmas without Jesus – Has Jesus been replaced with Santa Claus, thus strategically defeating the occasion itself? Has the preparation for the Christmas tree taken the place of the preparation for the Christmas Eucharist?

Why I say this is because some of the beautiful words of the past like “missionary”, “conversion” etc lost its original meaning and today they have become the hated vocabularies that people avoid. Will that happen to the Holy Name of Jesus? Of course, with a good intention, in order to promote communal harmony, and facilitate inter-religious dialogue there seems to be an emerging trend even at the highest levels to avoid taking the name “Jesus” and replacing it with words like “God, Lord, Ishwar, Bhagwan” etc. with a decent rider that for us these all mean the same thing. In the end, even the use of the name of Jesus might end up as an undesirable practice.

First I thought it was my feeling but later I realized that there are many who share the same feeling. Moreover, surprisingly the number of people thinking that Christmas is the birthday of Santa Claus is on the increase. I don’t know whether we can do something to stop all these dilutions and erosions of reality. Dear friends, certainly, I do not want to be a prophet of doom on a beautiful day like this and therefore I firmly hope and humbly pray that I am wrong. But let me reiterate what Holy Father said, “we should focus on Christ the Lord who enters our lives and brings us light and joy, without being distracted by the lights.” How can we in the CBCI bring Jesus Christ into the focus – not his message, please – that is only a natural consequence! How to preach Jesus Christ and not about Christian values – that is again is only a natural consequence – How to bring the focus on to Jesus Christ in all our missionary activities?

Therefore, Let us be proud of Jesus – Let us be proud of His birth. Because, there is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. (Acts 412) You know, that’s why in that cold night the angels told the fear stricken shepherds, “Today in the city of David a saviour has been born for you”. (Lk 211)- Yes, dear all, a Savior is born for us too and we too are celebrating Christmas, the birth of Jesus’. Let our celebration too “bring Glory to God in the highest and peace to all on whom rests his favour”. (Lk 214). Once again I wish you all a very happy Christmas –

– franco mulakkal

CCI: No Progress without helping the down trodden

December 5, 2011 by  
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Leaders Vow to WorKochi, November 24, 2011:  Church leaders vowed today to work for a more progressive and vibrant India. “We have to work toward lifting up the downtrodden [dalits, tribals and the poor] for the nation’s development,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias in his opening address to the 11th general session of Catholic Council of India (CCI) in Kerala.

Cardinal Gracias, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops’Conference of India and archbishop of Mumbai, said “there canbe no progress without peace and without justice and forgiveness there can be no peace.” Noting that one of the major hurdles to development is corruption, he appealed for the eradication of the “scourge” from society. Church’s Role for a Better India is the theme of the four-day meeting which began today in Kochi, the southern state’s commercial hub.
Major Archbishop George Alencherry, head of the Syro Malabar Church, said globalization and consumerism have widened the gap between rich and poor. “The poor and the dalits are exploited and unless we address this issue, the country cannot progress,” he told the 150-strong gathering of bishops, priests, nuns and laity. He appealed for the Church to build bridges with other faiths in order to help speed up efforts for development and progress. During the four-day meeting, CCI members will share their experiences, reflections and suggestions on vital Church and national issues and decide on common action in which to carry out Christ’s mission. The biennial meeting comes ahead of the General Body Meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, which this year has the same theme.

– ucan

Dalai Lama offers key to happiness

December 3, 2011 by  
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Dalai LamaWest Bengal, December 2, 2011: Long-term happiness comes from a sense of service to others’ well-being and everyone has the potential to be like Blessed Teresa, according to the Dalai Lama.

In a lecture on Blessed Teresa in Kolkata yesterday, he said a genuine sense of concern for others and “warm heartedness” comes not from prayer but through “analysis and removal of negative feelings allowing no room for lies or cheating.”

Therefore it is essential that all major religions emphasize self-discipline, forgiveness, love, compassion and well-being of others, especially for the poor and downtrodden.

Noting that Blessed Teresa practiced and implemented what Jesus Christ taught, he said everyone has the same potential.

Dalai Lama said he has visited Missionaries of Charity centers and was very impressed by the sisters’ work.

“Although Mother Teresa was not physically there, her spirit was very much alive,” he told the gathering.

Calling himself a “son of the soil”, he said since 1959 he had made India his home which taught him religious harmony.

West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayan, addressing the gathering, said: “Humanity craves for peace and the world is fortunate to have such great apostles like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther-King, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.

“We are rich to still have the Dalai Lama with us,” Narayan said.

Responding to China’s objection to his visit, the Dalai Lama said: “It is a routine thing. Anywhere in the world I go to deliver a lecture, I receive this kind of special blessing from the Chinese.”

The lecture was organized by Missionaries of Charity co-worker, Sunita Kumar, a renowned artist, and her husband, former tennis player Naresh Kumar.

MC Superior General Sister Prema was the chief guest.

– ucan

IFFI clash with St. Xavier feast: GCWU petitions Sonia Gandhi *Protesters condemn government

December 3, 2011 by  
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Feast of St Francis Xavier GoaGoa, December 01, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) has strongly condemned the adamant attitude of government for refusing to re-schedule the closing date of IFFI which is clashing with the Feast of St. Francis Xavier thus playing with the sentiments of the people. We have faxed letters to the Prime Minister of India, Mr Manmohan Singh and the Chairperson of UPA, Sonia Gandhi stated Juino De Souza, President of GCWU.

We have written stating that it is the bounden duty of every government to protect the religious rights of its people and specially of the minority community that is guaranteed under our constitution and it is regretted that the Minister of Information & Broadcasting, (Smt) Ambika Soni and the Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Digambar Kamat are hurting the religious sentiments of not only the Catholic community but entire goan community by holding the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) currently underway at Goa on the 3rd December 2011 that is coinciding with the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Goa which is a public holiday declared in his memory.

The letter further states that on this day lakhs devotees of all faiths converge at Old Goa to pay their respects, homage and offer prayers and devotion in honour St Francis Xavier. It is therefore a gross violation of religious rights for the government to have IFFI closing ceremony sponsored by the Central government on this holiday with gala dinners and fireworks and is an insult and attack on the religious sentiments of the people who believe in St. Francis Xavier and whose relics are preserved in the BASILICA BOM JESUS for all to venerate.

There is an uproar at Goa with people staging agitations, dharnas and black flag protests during IFFI which is showing the Congress led government in Goa in poor light. The BJP has also addressed the issue  calling the Congress party communal.

The people are furious that the Congress government instead of taking responsibility and applying the right correctives are instead giving lame excuses and making incorrect statements by placing blame on extraneous bodies such as the International film Committee and the Film Federation of India who have no role to play in changing the closing date of IFFI, thus taking the people for a ride.

We have brought to their notice that all the people are asking is to advance the closing ceremony from 3rd. December to 2nd December 2011 which is no big deal. Let the people be free to focus on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier with any diversion and which is their right.  I shall thank you on behalf of ‘The Goan Catholic Welfare Union’ to kindly use your good offices and intervene in this religious matter urgently so as to avoid the clashing of IFFI closing date with that of the feast of St. Francis Xavier.

Copies of the letter have been sent to the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, A. K. Anthony, Minister of Information, Smt Ambika Soni and the Senior  BJP leader L.K. Advani.

Protestors against holding IFFI on feast of St. Francis Xavier

Goan Catholic Welfare UnionGoa, December 03, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) and leaders of NGO’s namely the Pillerne Citizens Forum, Villagers Group of Goa, Porvorim Residents Welfare Association (PRWA), Goemchea Rakhondarancho Awaz (GRA), Saligao Citizens Committee and other lay persons staged a protest dharna chanting slogans condemning the government’s adamant and challenging attitude in going ahead with IFFI closing ceremony followeded with gala dinners, wine and fireworks on the sacred feast day of St. Francis Xavier by ignoring the sentiments of the people.

The participants were carrying a long black banner and holding placards with captions such as IFFI-Digambar Kamat stop the sacrilege,  Respect the rights and sentiments of the people, D’ont destroy goan culture, etc. They paid rich tribute to St Francis Xavier while holding his portrait and singing hyms and praises to the great patron saint in konkani.  Goehcho sahib amkam zai, amkam zai, they chanted. Ek do, ek do,  IFFI ko fek do.  

Addressing the demonstration, Juino De Souza President GCWU said that it is the question of attack on the religious rights and sentiments of the people. IFFI is a distraction and diversion and we have come here directly from Old Goa after hearing the first mass at 5.30 am to show our solidarity with the large section of goans whose sentiments have been hurt with an unjust decision and government will pay the price in the ensuing elections.

Speaking on the occasion Fr. Antonio Rodrigues a senior priest and scholar said today is a great feast of Goa and our goan culture has been destroyed. This is the time when all of us should united to defeat those who are out to wipe out Goa.

Joao Phillip Pereira a social activist said that people are not fools to be deceived by false excuses of vested interests who seem to have no respect for St. Francis Xavier who died on the 3rd December and his death anniversary is celebrated with prayers and devotion. 

Yatish Naik lawyer and activist said St Francis Xavier is not only respected by Catholics, but by people of all faiths who flock to Goa to venerate and pay homage to the patron saint and we do not require IFFI that is costing over 100 crores to the goans. 

Floriano Lobo of GRA stated that IFFI is not wanted by any other state and hence was pushed into Goa during the Parrikar regime. St Xavier is our protector and he will work a a miracle to help goans get rid of IFFI forever.

Joe Carneiro, Joaquim Rodrigues, William Pinto, Hermie Caldeira, George Mascaranhas, Roque Dias,  Alex D’Souza, Merwyn D’Souza, Bosco Souza, Prakash Bandodkar, Rex D’Souza and others also expressed their feelings. 
– juino desouza

Church program to felicitate big families

November 15, 2011 by  
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Church program to felicitate big familiesKerala, November 15, 2011: The Catholic Church in Kerala has launched a state-wide program to felicitate families with five or four children.

The program ‘Jeevasamridhi’ is aimed at promoting big families and will felicitate 5,000 families across 30 dioceses in the state.

The program was inaugurated by Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry at the Chavara Cultural Centre in Kochi on Monday.

Members of large families from across Ernakulam and nearby areas were felicitated at the function.

Public meetings have been arranged in seven regions in Kerala.

Couples who have completed 40 years of marital life and who have five or more children will be felicitated by the church along with couples who got married after 1990 and have four children.

Directors of family apostolate who have been instrumental in promoting family life and its values will also be presented with citations during the programme.

The next phase of ‘Jeevasamridhi’ will be the felicitation of large families in other religions in association with the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council’s Ecumenical and Dialogue Commission, said Fr. Jose Kottayil, program director.

– times of india

Cardinal releases book on religious conversion in a multi-religious context – An outlook on civil and canon laws

November 12, 2011 by  
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Cardinal Releases bookThis book deals with the problem of Religious conversion in a multi-religious context. The majority of the modern democratic States ensure their citizens the basic right to change religion.  ‘Right to the conversion’ means either right to convert oneself or right to convert others.  Both these aspects are the essential part of religious freedom. However, right to convert others is always controversial, although it is inherent in the freedom to practise and propagate a religion, and even inherent in the freedom of word, expression, information and association. The Catholic Church never encourages conversion by force. The canon 748 § 2 of its Code of Canon law states clearly that there should not be any constraint of any sort in the propagation of the catholic faith and the reception of new faithful. However, the missionary activities of the Catholic Church are largely misunderstood and often criticised. The author has tried to explore why the right to religious conversion is often misunderstood in India as well as in many parts of the world. He has analysed elaborately the Indian context, the Indian Constitution and the laws promulgated to control the religious conversion and tried for solutions to avoid the misunderstanding between the religions.

About the Author:

Dr. Sahayaraj Lourdusamy is the member of the High Council of AIDOP commission of Paris (Agence international diplomatie et opinion publique) and he is the Research scholar of the Asian Department of Canon law and Culture of the Faculty of Canon law, Catholic Institute of Paris. He has authored 7 books in Tamil, English and French. At present he is the Judicial Vicar of the diocese of Thanjavur, Secretary of the diocesan Commission for Social Communications and Editor of Vailankanni Calling and Vailankanni Kuraloli.

Missionary vocations face decline

July 6, 2011 by  
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Archbishop George Alencherry

Archbishop George Alencherry

Kerala, 3 July 2011: The decreasing number of missionary vocations has become a crucial challenge for the Syro-Malabar Church, Major Archbishop George Alencherry said. In his first pastoral letter to all churches in Kerala on St. Thomas’ Day, the Major Archbishop said that lack of interest in Church vocations indicate the degeneration of faith in the family. Our Church by her very nature is missionary, sent to impart the message of life. As an individual Church, the Syro-Malabar Church also has the same nature and mission. So decreasing vocations worry me,” he said.

The degeneration of faith in families, lack of prayer life, fewer children, negative criticisms regarding priests and the religious, and the fear of obstacles faced by the missionaries, among other things, are factors in the decline, the Major Archbishop said in his four-page pastoral letter. He said the future of mission work depends on how effectively these concerns can be dealt with and exhorted the faithful to encourage children to respect missionaries and promote direct interaction with them, as well as donating generously to mission activities. Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, said that the quality of vocations is also an issue.

“It’s a genuine concern of the church. Though the exact figures are not available, the fact remains now that youngsters are not much interested in joining the clergy. We are planning some positive steps to arrest the trend,” he said. Saint Thomas, the apostle to India, sowed the seeds of the Church when he arrived at Kodungallur, an ancient port called Muziris in the southern state, in AD 52. The saint was martyred at Mylapore near Chennai in AD 72. The church celebrates the dukrana feast in memory of his martyrdom.

– ucan