India: Day of thanks for Benedict XVI and his Pontificate

February 18, 2013 by  
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Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, has launched a special day on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, to honour of the pope. In these eight years, the Holy Father has repeatedly identified the challenges facing India and Asia: a dialogue between cultures and religions, secularization, globalization and implementation of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

A day of thanks for Pope Benedict XVI and his PontificateMumbai, February 14, 2013: February 22 next, Christians from all over India will spend the day with Benedict XVI and his pontificate. The initiative is being launched by Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), who chose the feast of the Chair of St. Peter to express the deep gratitude of the Church in India to the Holy Father. That day, at 18:30, every Christian institution, convent and monastery will dedicate an hour of adoration to the pope.

In these eight years of his pontificate, Benedict XVI addressed on several occassions and in different ways issues dear to India and Asia. For example in the encyclicals Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi and Caritas in Veritate, which identify some of the most significant challenges of the continent. “In addition to the dialogue between cultures, with the poor and with other religions – said the cardinal, who is secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) – Benedict XVI stressed the need to implement the Church’s social doctrine to the realities of today : the economy, globalization, the gap between rich and poor, ecology, fundamentalism. ” Thus, he stressed, “development is at the heart of human actions, and globalization and progress can serve humanity.”

The pope’s attention to the Asian world was manifested not only through his documents. “Asia – noted Card. Gracias – is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, and the repeated attempts of Benedict XVI to communicate with Muslims was a really important challenge. With intellectual clarity and academic brilliance he has created the basis to understand their differences and call for a united front against secularization. ”

The archbishop of Mumbai, says “the last two days of world peace” were fundamental.  In 2011, “Religious freedom, the path of peace,” the pope said that “religious freedom is an authentic weapon for peace that can change the world and make it better.” In his message for 2012, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Benedict XVI said that “peace is not merely the absence of war,” but more importantly, reiterates Indian cardinal, “it is the universal experience of justice and love, which contrasts with the personal and structural evils of greed, inequality and violence. ”

– asianews

Catholic groups succeed in getting Shiv Sena banner off

February 17, 2013 by  
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Shiv Sena bannerMumbai, February 16, 2013: That unity is strength was demonstrated yet again, when community groups took umbrage to reportedly a hoarding that was put up outside Holy Cross Church in Lower Parel, Mumbai warning of “Shiv Sena Style” tactics, if the pre-primary school admission policy was not changed. The hoarding condemned  the school for admitting students in accordance with the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the Shiv Sena urged preference to locals, in disregard to reservations, which the school was following. The hoarding continued to remain outside the church compound despite much media attention.

However, concerted insistence by community groups, which represented the case with the Additional and Deputy Commissioners of Police ensured the hoarding was taken off. This according to The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias was necessary because the local police inspector took no action, despite repeated complaints. ‘ The hoarding was objectionable because it demanded that the school violate the provisions of the RTE Act and incited the public, if it did not do so. It also threatened the school of an agitation (andolan), if it failed to fall in line ‘, he said.

Judith Monteiro, an activist of the near-by parish, who assisted the school in the admission process said that since many complaints were given to the police, they ought to have acted promptly, but did not do so. Agnelo Fernandes of the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum (MCYF) hit out against the Shiv Sena and said it was trying to target the school which was protected as minority institution and only doing its duty. Adv. Joe Sodder of the Catholics for the Preservation of the Faith (CPF) said that such threats and attacks on the community would not be taken lying down and the community needs to rise against it. Archie Sodder of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) urged the Shiv Sena to reserve a quota for the East Indian Christians and Kolis, who were sons of the soil in Mumbai and demonstrate the party’s concern.

The CSF aims to bring all Christian denominations together and deal with such emergencies, as more such provocations can be expected. Fr Constancio Noronha, manager of the school and Parish Priest of the Church which runs it thanked the community groups for their support. We will keep you informed of developments on this front and will seek your assistance, as the admission process continues. The groups have also urged the Archdiocesan Board of Education to consider collective action as a protest against such threats.

– press release

Earlier Report: Shiv Sena threatens Lower Parel school for following RTE rules

Members of the Shiv Sena have put up a banner outside the Holy Cross School, Lower Parel, threatening to launch a ‘Sena-style’ protest.

Mumbai, February 14, 2013: The school, run by the local  has been following the Right to Education (RTE) rules that mandate a 25% quota for children from economically  weak families. Since the institution is run by a religious minority, the school is also entitled to reserve 50% of its seats for Catholics. However, the local Shiv Sena have objected to this, saying that first preference should be given to those students living in the neighbourhood, who have been unable to apply because of these quotas. The school, currently in the process of deciding admissions to its kindergarten section, has lodged a complaint with the NM Joshi police station.

Father Constancio Noronha, school manager, in a letter to the police, said, “This is to bring to your immediate and urgent notice that a banner with orange flags has been put up outside our church and school gate threatening us regarding our junior KG admission process. …The banner has caused fear among our children and people. There is also fear of damage to our school property. Could you kindly take necessary action and grant us the necessary protection so as to prevent loss to lives and property?”

The school has distributed 500 forms for 60 seats in the open category and 1,000 forms for 60 seats in the RTE category. It also has 120 seats reserved for minority students.

The Sena wants applications to be accepted uniformly. “Locals within a one-kilometer radius of the school should get first preference,” said Nana Ambole, a local Sena leader whose name appears on the banner.

– hindustan times

Tamse, Palghar Christian tribals attacked again

January 16, 2013 by  
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Palghar Christian tribals attacked againMaharashtra, January 15, 2013: Mobile Phone Gospel Music Provokes Assault. Christian adivasis (tribals) attacked again. The CSF gets police to register FIR against 8 accused

Severe persecution for tribal Christians continues, especially in the Rural Thane district of Maharashtra. An indication of this is had from the fact that only a day earlier, The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias got the Tamse (Palghar) Sunday Worship restarted midst strong police protection. The next day, the non-Christian adivasis took exception to Gospel music being played over a mobile speaker-phone. Sister Pallavi Punjari, a believer was listening to spiritual songs on her mobile, with speakers on, when non-Christians objected to it, saying it should not be within their hearing range.

Using the incident as an excuse, a mob of about 200 non-Christian adivasi women brutally assaulted her, along with other women believers like Janki Bhoir and Nandini Jadhav, who tried to rescue her. The non-believers did not even spare a 12 year old child, Neelam Bhoir in the fracas.

On receiving complaints from the believers, The CSF complained to the police, who rushed to the village and were witness to the abuses and threats that were being heaped on the Christian villagers. The matter going out of hand, Joseph Dias urged to the police to book the culprits, who were taking law into their hands. The Manor police then registered an FIR complaint against the 8 non-Christian women, who had mercilessly beat up the believers.

The CSF is keeping a watch on the situation and requests your prayers and support in getting the situation back to normal soon. Those hurt have taken basic medicare, but there is need to ensure that the material needs of the believers are met. There is also need to give the Christian adivasis – Bibles, training, education, musical instruments and a place to pray. This will help build and strengthen their faith and also spread the Good News to the neighbouring villages.

Muslim Professionals participate in the Inclusive Development Conclave

January 16, 2013 by  
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Muslim Professionals participate in the Inclusive Development ConclaveMaharashtra, January 14, 2013: Mumbai: Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) was one of the exclusive invitees from the Social Sector participating in a round table brainstorming on the “Indian Inclusive Development at the turn of the 21st century” at JP Naik Bhavan, ICSSR, Mumbai University.

AMP is an ‘intellectual organization’ of Muslim professionals, and volunteers for the overall development of not just the Muslim Community in India but also the Indian society at large and is spread across 12 states and 50 cities.

This discussion was jointly organized by Center for Research and Debates in Development Policy (CRDDP), New Delhi and the US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC.The event was coordinated by Dr. Abdul Shaban, of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), Mumbai and it was presided over by Prof. B.L. Mungekar (MP – RajyaSabha).

This round table was for brainstorm through providing a framework and highlighting the facts in the most simplified manner possible, so as to facilitate a debate for strategizing policy engagement. A case was also be made during the discussion regarding the need to have independent debating platforms in major States of India where regional issues can be articulated and policy papers prepared.

Syed Najeeb, Head PR & Communications, AMP represented the organization at this significant event which also had high-ranking bureaucrats, political dignitaries and other members from the Social Sector.

The sessions included discussions on:

‘A Policy Framework for Inclusive Development: A Post –Sachar perspective’ – by Prof. AbusalehShariff (Phd.) (Professor, US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC and Member Secretary Sachar Committee);

‘Need for Equal Opportunity’ – by Prof. RakeshBasant (Professor, IIM-Ahmedabad);

‘Need for Non-Profit Institutions Essential to promote Inclusive Development in India’ – by Prof. Rasheed Ahmed (President, US-India Policy Institute, Washington DC);

‘Reforms at Grassroots – Key for Social and economic prosperity of communities’ – by Prod.JeemolUnni (Director – IRMA);

‘Programs & policies – What it takes to succeed’ – by Mr.Syed Zameer Pasha, I. A. S (Rtd.) (Executive Director – Center for Research and Debates in Development Policy);

‘Role of Academic Institutions in Policy Process for Inclusive Development’ – by Prof. Abdul Shaban (Professor, TISS, Mumbai)

Some of the other participants-dignitaries who shared their reflections were Dr Asghar Ali Engineer (Renowned Social Activist); Nawab Malik (MLA, NCP & Former Minister); PA Inamdar (President, Maharashtra Cosmopolitan Education Society, Pune); and Amin Patel (MLA, Indian National Congress).

– tcn

Cardinal Gracias: Easter strengthens faith, favours inter-faith dialogue

April 14, 2012 by  
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Mumbai, April 12, 2012: The freely and informed baptism some people underwent on the eve of Easter shows that the Church is alive, that Jesus is alive and that Christianity is alive. Jesus’ message is always alive and always brings peace and joy. Every Christian has drawn strength from the historic event of the Resurrection, which is above all an invitation to deepen our faith and not to fear proclaiming and spread the message.

For Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, reliving the historic event of the Resurrection strengthens Christians’ faith. In a multicultural and multi-religious nation like India, it also favours dialogue with other faiths based on trust and love and without fear. In his meditation, he stresses how this Easter has taken on a special significance because it marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the diocese, a year devoted entirely to the “living liturgy”.

The Easter message is one of joy and confidence, deepening of faith, deepening of charity, deepening of hope. Our faith is deepened now that the Lord is risen. Our faith is the Gospel message. Our faith in everything that Jesus said. The resurrection is the confirmation of Jesus and speaks of hope.

It is not just an empty dream that we are hoping for but Jesus has come himself and told us the meaning of life, death and after life, and hope that all our efforts are a success and charity in the sense of Jesus. By redeeming us, he has shown that we are one family and we must spread joy, love, and his peace everywhere. That is a message for the Church, the diocese, the entire country, year of the faith and understanding of the faith.

We pray that Easter renews our zeal and our mission to make considerable efforts to spread our understanding and our knowledge and living of the faith with a confident hope that Jesus is our saviour and our friend.

This guarantee of the Resurrection, of Life that overcomes death, enables us to life our life of love and charity and enables us to understand and live the faith.

This year, we celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the creation of the Archdiocese of Bombay. At the start of the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, 8 September 2011, in the Archdiocese of Bombay, we began a full year dedicated to the Liturgy, a year of “Living Liturgy”, a liturgy that is vibrant and fully participative, a liturgy that leads to living its message in grace. Hence, for us Easter fills us with great hope that our Liturgies become truly living, truly vibrant, participative, meaningful, filled with grace and an occasion for encountering the Risen Lord. May our Liturgies also become truly life giving, having an impact on our individual lives, and our parishes, so that all of us in the Archdiocese truly witness Christ more and more in the way we live and act. Mother Mary lived the liturgy. May she assist us to live it fully ourselves.

Easter graces will also guide our Consultation 2012, which will be part of the 125th Anniversary of the Archdiocese of Bombay. It is appropriate that we use this occasion for a spiritual-pastoral renewal.

India is a multi cultural and multi religious country. Easter strengthens our faith and enables us to engage with people of other cultures and faiths to build sound bridges across cultural divides. A person cannot engage in dialogue unless he is deep in his own faith. He cannot really enter into dialogue of understanding. He cannot really appreciate another faith when he is not really secure in his own faith. Certainly, Easter strengthens our interreligious dialogue because we do it with confidence and love. We do it in appreciation and without any fear in our hearts, loved and appreciated.

With that in mind, I think that this would give a greater joy, in the sense that there is no need to be frightened anymore, no need of being afraid. We would love and appreciate that God has told us that there are lot of truth in other faiths. For this reason, we appreciate its value and try to carry the message of Jesus, which spreads love, peace and joy, confident that Jesus is in our hearts.

The Church is renewed with new baptisms on Easter vigil. The free and informed choice by individuals is evidence that the church is alive, that Jesus is alive, that Christianity is alive. That is the meaning of any new baptism.

The message of Jesus is always alive; it gives peace and joy. The historic event of the Resurrection has strengthened every Christian. In history, the resurrection is meant to strengthen us, give us a deeper understanding, and remove negative emotions like discouragement and diffidence. It is especially a call to deepen our faith so we have no fear to proclaim and spread the message.

– asianews

Pak: Temple committee chairman kidnapped *Mumbai: St Mary’s moves court against school education director’s order

April 10, 2012 by  
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Pakistan, April 09, 2012: The chairman of the committee that manages the famous Hinglaj Mata temple in Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan has been kidnapped just two days before the beginning of the shrine’s annual pilgrimage, according to a media report on Monday.

Maharaj Ganga Ram Motiyani was abducted at Lasbela in Balochistan by two men in police uniform.

His followers organised a protest outside the Karachi Press Club yesterday and demanded that the government take steps for his recovery.

“Motiyani’s kidnapping appears to be a conspiracy against Hindus since he was kidnapped two days before the gathering.

“He has not been kidnapped for ransom because he is a poor man,” Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, patron of the Pakistan Hindu Council and a former member of the Sindh Assembly, was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune daily.

Thousands of Hindus, including yatris from India, travel to the cave temple of Hinglaj Mata for a pilgrimage in April.

According to a Hindu myth, Lord Vishnu cut the body of Sati with his flaming disc into 50 pieces, which fell to the earth. Sati’s head fell at Hinglaj.

Hindu leader Chandar Turshani said two men in police uniform arrived at Motiyani’s shop at 8.30 pm and said a senior police official wanted to meet him.

“We contacted the area police station within half an hour but he was not there,” Turshani said.

“When we spoke to Motiyani on his phone, he said that he was being taken to meet a major,” Turshani alleged.

Motiyani’s family lost contact with him after an hour.

“The provincial and district governments have assured us that he will be rescued but we are clueless about why Motiyani was taken and what condition he is in,” said Turshani.

The Hindus of Sindh and Balochistan provinces have recently complained of forced conversions and the kidnapping has added to their insecurity.

Hindus are largely seen as wealthy merchants in Sindh and are considered “fair game” for kidnappers as they do not have the traditional backing of tribal groups, the report said.

Earlier abductions have triggered protests but Motiyani’s case has “hit a nerve”, the report added.

A Hindu group from Hinglaj organised yesterday’s protest in Karachi and leaders said that though the Constitution provides rights to all citizens without discrimination, theHindus of Pakistan were still seeking equality.

“Our problems are getting worse by the day. (Another Hindu) Asha Kumari has been missing for 41 days from Jacobabad (in Sindh),” said Vankwani.

He added that despite orders from the Supreme Court, nothing had been done to trace her.

“One should question whether Hindus are free citizens of Pakistan? Are we given free religious rights?” said Mangla Sharma, chairperson of the Pakistan Hindu Welfare Association.

– zeenews

Mumbai: St Mary’s moves court against school education director’s order


Maharashtra, April 09, 2012: The management of St. Mary’s school, Mazgaon has moved court against the order passed by the Director of School Education asking the school to refund Rs 1.45 crore collected from parents. According to the order, passed on February 28, the school was directed to refund the amount to parents within a month’s time or face disciplinary action.

“We have moved court against the order passed by the Director of School Education. It would not be appropriate to say anything about the case now,” said Father Baptist Pinto, principal, St Mary’s school.

The education department de-recognised the school on May 24, 2011, over charges of illegal collection of Rs 1.45 crore and for manipulating exam results, besides other offences. The school challenged the order in the Bombay High Court. Later, responding to an appeal filed by the school, the authority stayed the de-recognition process for the current academic year. However, it put a condition that the school should refund an amount of Rs 1,45,70,881 to parents.

“We cannot take any action against the school now, as they have moved court. We will have to wait for the court’s order. However, we will not let go the matter. Parents of the school were exploited and the school cannot get away with it. We will submit to the court all the documents proving financial irregularities in the school,” said Balasaheb Mane, education inspector, South Zone.

According to the education department, it was found that the school had been collecting money from students towards fines and funds like teachers’ benefit fund, primary teachers’ gratuity fund, etc. The school also collected lifetime membership fees for Parent-Teachers Association from parents.

To support its case further the education department had sought a detailed report on an investigation done by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW).

– indianexpress

Good Friday Musings: Mumbai & East Delhi – The CSF Impact *Kandhamal Catholic priest attacked

April 7, 2012 by  
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Here’s wishing you and your loved ones the power of the Risen Lord, this Easter….
Your prayers keep us going and the LORD blesses us with success.

bro. joe dias & Team CSF, ICAN and our families

Some photographs of The CSF Calvary Drama Live can be seen at –

Good Friday Musings. Mumbai and East Delhi – The CSF Impact


The CSF had an eventful silver jubilee observation of the Good Friday service, which was well-covered by all national dailies – details of which follow in the next email. Suffice it to say that we prayed publicly for you – our collaborators and well-wishers. And we are sure God heard our prayers, thanking HIM for your partnership with The CSF to better the lot of HIS people. In lighter vein, it was a delight to see politicians competing with each other, to be seen among the Christians, who are otherwise ignored.
August Kranti Maidan: Here we only want to share with you, how politicians, authorities and fundamentalists take Christians for granted simply because we accept our fate and don’t fight back. Most of the time, even our Christian politicians, are nowhere on the scene, though they turn up to take the credit. In Mumbai, it happened at the August Kranti Maidan, where a bureaucrat denied permission for the Good Friday worship, which was opposed by The CSF and later joined by others to get the decision reversed. Here we also had some “Christian” politicians jumping on the publicity bandwagon.
East Delhi: Similarly in the heart of the capital – East Delhi, we had the Deputy Commissioner of Police initially refused permission for administrative reasons, to conduct the Live Stations of the Cross on the streets, even though the community has been conducting it for the last almost 15 years. There was panic on Maundy Thursday and advocate Jenis Francis sent SOS text and email messages, which The CSF decided to act immediately on. We sent a fax, sms and email almost instantaneously, asking the Commissioner of Police to correct the situation and within minutes, the permission was granted.
Praise God. To HIM be the glory, as HE in His infinite mercy uses The CSF as an instrument to get things done. The pictures that appear here are those of the Live Stations of the Cross, which was held on Good Friday in East Delhi and was well attended. In fact, the parishners were so  impressed at the speed and efficacy of our intervention, that they have called for a CSF chapter to be opened in the national capital, which we are actively considering.

Kandhamal Catholic priest attacked


Orissa, April 06, 2012: Sukananda is a small village about 4 kilometers north of Gudayagiri at Khandamal. The Catholic parish at Sukananda is about 100 years old. The church priest’s residence is adjacent to the convent of missionaries of charity. This church was badly ransacked and destroyed during the communal violence of 2008. A grotto stands on the hill behind the church. Rev Sisisrkant Sabhanayak is the parish priest since 2010.

On 29.03.12, Manoj, S/o Mr. Rabindra Nayak of village Sukananda and others began to dig up the way to the grotto. Rev. Sisisrkant told them not to do so and they agreed. But again on 30.03.12, they came with JCB machines and began to dig and remove mud from the road which leads to the grotto. Rev. Sisisrkant again requested them to not to dig up the way to the grotto. At this Manoj and others abused the priest with filthy language and one Deepak Nayak caught hold of Rev. Sisisrkant’s throat, kicked him and threaten to kill him. On 4th April, when the priest was on his way to Gudayagiri, Manoj Nayak again caught hold of priest’s throat and pushed him. On 6th April, Rabindra Nayak came and threatened to kill priest.


Mumbai: Perceiving the educational horizons *UN Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings and AFSPA

April 7, 2012 by  
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Maharashtra, April 07, 2012: Students as well as parents are invited to sessions promoting higher education among Christians, especially those in Mumbai.

The aim is to show that umpteen possibilities are available for our catholic community which is not being utilized well enough by our community. Even finance matters which look beyond our means can be tackled.

The objective is so that youth can get into the top layer of the city’s employment market… But for all this , one needs to have the right information & thus make the right choice.

Distinguished panelist representing the various catholic professional & technical institutes will address your queries. The venues and timing are as below

On Sun April 15th 2012
Venue: Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Nr. Vidyavihar Station, Kurla West.
Time: 10 am – 12 noon

On Sun April 15th 2012
Venue: St Francis Institute of Technology, Borivili West.
Time: 5 pm – 7 pm.

The programe is organized by: Association of Catholic Christian Minority Institutions (ACCMI)
RSVP email:
only: Fr Felix D’Souza 9820831665 Mr Lavy A D’Costa: 9819377556

UN Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings and AFSPA


India, April 07, 2012: The strong words of the UN Rapporteur, Christof Heyns on both the extra-judical killings and recommending for repealing and revoking AFSPA by the Indian Government is to be welcomed. In a civilian democratic government set up, such a law should not have been enacted at all and yet our representative civilian governments, both at the Centre and States, should take recourse to should a law in dealing with armed resistance in the North East and Kashmir is both ironical and smacks of ‘colonial’ attitude towards peoples of these two regions, viz. north & north east.

Despite repeated appeals for revoking this draconian military law by all sections of society and the 12th year fasting by Irom Sharmila all fall on deaf ears in the corridors of power both at the States (except Kashmir) and Centre. The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) way back in August, 2004 had sent letters of appeal to India’s PM to revoke this AFSPA but not even acknowledged receipt.

The Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission had recommended that this law be repealed as already there are many Indian laws and sections in the Indian Penal Code which can deal with such issues but that too, is lying in cold storage and since, has not seen the light of day, like many of those who have become victims of such a law which allows the military, para-military and local police to arrest without charge any one suspected of being an ‘underground’, supporter and sympathiser of ‘underground’ movements, even to the extent of executing ‘extreme action.’

It is obvious that the military wing would not want such power to be taken away and the perks that go with it. So also, the para-military and State police since it bestows on them immense power and authority to silence dissent and protest in the name of ‘security’ and ‘national sovereignty’. And the civilian governments listen to these ringside voices who play centre-stage in such matters rather than to the innocent peoples who become victims of AFSPA.

Well, it would be advisable for the Govt. of India to revoke this military law before the UNHRC makes strong resolution against its continued enforcement in the north and north east regions of the country. If India can side with the US against Sri Lanka, next it will be completely isolated in the global arena with regard to AFSPA. Why call for human rights observation to others when you yourself are trampling the human rights and dignity of the same people you govern on their behalf?

– rev. dr. p.b.m. basaiawmoit, vice president, ncci

Silver Jubilee of Annual Good Friday Walking Pilgrimage *UN concerned at India’s extrajudicial executions

April 4, 2012 by  
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Maharashtra, April 4, 2012: Thousands on 6th April will attend the annual enactment of the Calvary drama on the streets of Khar (W), starting from Sacred Heart Church at 10.30 am and going all the way through Santacruz East, upto Kalina and back to Vakola at around 3 pm for the final crucifixion and resurrection scenes. However, more important than the numbers is the prayer, fasting, penance and witnessing of devotees along the way. Do be part of it, if you are in Mumbai and be blessed. Never, when I started this devotion 25 years ago, did I believe, it would go through for so long… Thank the LORD for His mercies. Praise God with me and our collaborators, who will pray for each and every one of you this Good Friday.
– joseph dias

UN concerned at India’s extrajudicial executions


India, April 02, 2012: The United Nations last week warned India against the growing trend of impunity in cases of extrajudicial executions and the treatment of religious minorities, dalits and adivasis.

“There are complaints of use of excessive force by the police against unarmed demonstrators and protestors, with scant adherence to the principles of proportionality and necessity. Problems are further aggravated by statutory immunities that restrict accountability,” expressed a UN Special Rapporteur on Friday.

Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on March 30, 2012 concluded a 12-day fact-finding mission, during when he visited five states and met with government officials, police officers and human rights activists.

In his report, Heyns expressed concern over a range of issues that include custodial deaths; enactment of AFSPA in the North East and Jammu & Kashmir; the execution of death penalty across India; the insurgency; organised crime; and communal organisations opposed to secularism, plurality and equality.

Other areas of concern relate to the prevalence of communal violence, and, in some areas, the killing of witches, as well as dowry and “honour” killings, and the plight of dalits and adivasis.

“I have heard evidence regarding a number of instances where inter-community violence has occurred, resulting in large-scale loss of life. In particular I have met with a large number of people who lost relatives during the Gujarat killings of Muslims in 2002 and the Kandhamal killings of Christians in 2007-08, during which between 1200 – 2500 people and between 50 and 100 people, respectively, were reportedly killed,” Heyns stated in his report.

“The phenomenon of mass and targeted communal violence clearly poses a significant threat to the right to life, also because it sets into motion a cycle of violence that stretches over the years. One of the problems here is that the role of the police and other agencies of the state in these situations could involve bias against minorities.”

Heyns proposed a number of provisional steps to be taken to address these concerns. In the first place, he called for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry, consisting of respected lawyers and other community leaders, to further investigate all aspects of extrajudicial executions.

“Institutions such as the National Human Rights Commission should establish to what extent the guidelines they provide on matters such as the use of lethal force by the police are in fact observed, as opposed to providing empty promises in practice,” underscored the Special Rapporteur, recommending the immediate repeal of the laws providing for the immunity from prosecution of the police and the armed forces, and in particular the repeal of AFSPA.

On the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Heyns said it had no role to play in a democracy and should be scrapped. “The repeal of this law will not only bring domestic law more in line with international standards, but also send out a powerful message that instead of a military approach the government is committed to respect for the right to life of all people of the country,” he said.

Heyns also noted that India should ratify a number of international treaties, including the Convention Against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance.

He further urged India to host missions by other United Nations independent experts, in particular those related to torture, enforced disappearances and counter-terrorism measures.

The UN Special Rapporteur’s recommendations will be meanwhile submitted as a comprehensive report to the Human Rights Council at a future session in 2013.

– christiantoday

Married deacon for Poona diocese *Odisha religious leaders call for good governance

March 17, 2012 by  
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OrdinationMaharashtra, March 14, 2012: Roy D’ Monte will be ordained as a married deacon on April 23.

Poona diocese will soon have a married deacon.

Roy D’ Monte, an administrator at Loyola High School, will be ordained as a married deacon on April 23.

After the ordination, D’Monte would require the right to celebrate religious functions and administer sacraments, except for mass and confession.

“I fell in love with God several years ago and have been involved in a variety of activities at Our Lady Consoler of the Afflicted Church at Pimpri,” D’Monte said.

He is supported by his family in this new initiative. His wife Juliet is a Sunday school moderator in the church, and daughters Renita and Ramona are also actively involved in various youth activities of the church.

He had sent his application first in 1993 to the then Bishop Valerian D’Souza but could not be selected as there were several criteria that he had to fulfill like completing studies in theology and philosophy.

Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona said there is a need for priests in the diocese as it oversees parishes in Pune, Satara, Solapur, Sangli, Kolhapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra.

“There is enthusiasm and willingness among married people in the church to take on responsibilities and the Vatican too has allowed the ordination of permanent married deacons,” the prelate said.

The bishop said that they have not accepted all applications and do not allow anybody to become a married deacon as there are several criteria that have to be met.

Bishop Dabre said that, “there is sacrifice involved here specially as he is a married man. For a year, D’Monte was sent to different parishes and we wanted to gauge whether people would accept him.”

Fr. Anthony Charanghat, spokesperson of the Mumbai archdiocese, said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India had sanctioned the ordination of married deacons in 1983.

At present, there are 10 married deacons in the country, all in Mumbai archdiocese.

Poona has 100,000 Catholic population.

– indian express

Odisha religious leaders call for good governance


Odisha religious leaders call for good governanceOrissa, March 14, 2012: 92 leaders of religious congregations came together for two days in Jharsuguda and opted for a paradigm shift in governance.

The unprecedented meeting was attended by Major Superiors and a large number of Local Superiors of communities across the state.

Conducted by a National Team of CRI the Consultation was organized by the Regional Conference of religious.

“Our feudal and patriarchal system of governance which expresses itself as a command and control system is irrelevant for our times” they said while analyzing the present day practices.

They felt that Good Governance in religious congregations can set an example and call for a priority in the governance of the state.

Good Governance can reduce the corruption which is rampant in the day to day administration of the society reducing the effectiveness of all welfare activities in the state.

They expressed the need to come together oftener for tackling common problems with new structures and greater social capital.

Sr. Agnes, the Regional president of CRI, spoke of the paradoxes we are faced with and expressed the need to discern the fast changing society as well as the urgency to move forward with courage and conviction.

Fr. Telespore Toppo SVD who gave the keynote address for the consultation exhorted the large gathering of superiors to think big for a better Odisha. We can work together and be more effective he felt.

The consultation is part of a national initiative by the CRI being organized in all the 13 Regions of the country.

Fr. Susanto Dighal, the Regional Executive Secretary of Odisha expressed confidence that the Religious of the state will make big things happen for a better future for religious effectiveness.

– cri

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