A letter from Bishop of Belgaum to Christian business persons from Maharashtra

February 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Church, India, Karnataka, Maharashtra, newsletter-india

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Bishop Peter Machado of BelgaumKarnataka, February 20, 2012: The bishop of Belgaum in a letter to Christian business persons suggests three small projects for them to consider. Some of them which he had in mind are :

1. A Housing Colony for the NRIs: Belgaum with its salubrious climate and evergreen environment has beautiful landscapes to offer for Christian businessmen wanting to invest in real estate. The lands are still affordable and being on the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka (politics apart!), you can still have best of both states.

2. A housing colony for the poor: Something in line with the corporate social responsibility. I am looking forward someone to help me in a housing colony for the poor in Belgaum. As the city is growing and private space is shrinking, many of the Catholics in Belgaum city are sandwiched in chawls and rented places. On the outskirts lands are still available with accessible routs to the city where I could plan out a colony for the poor.

3. Old vehicles to be used as school buses: As I am a firm believer that all developments comes with good education, we do have good educational institutions in the different towns of our Diocese in Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri etc. But transport and eventual accessibility of these schools to the villagers and rural folks is difficult, unless we have some sort of school bus service. I cannot afford new buses. But if any of our Christian companies are getting rid of their old ones, our Diocese would be a good place for them to find a better purpose.

Peter Machado
Bishop of Belgaum

Pray for The CSF *Cardinal asks priests to bridge rich-poor gap *Burma troops ‘Kill, Torture’ Christian Kachins

February 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Burma, Church, India, Maharashtra, newsletter-lead, Persecution

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Please Pray: We are calling The CSF intercessors and well-wishers to pray in a very special way, as we are experiencing attacks from the evil one, especially as we take on fundamentalism of a different kind. The idea being to put obstacles in our way of positive community development. In true Christian spirit, we forgive our enemies and let the LORD be the Judge. Your prayers, we believe will help. God bless – Joseph Dias

Cardinal asks priests to bridge rich-poor gap


Cardinal asks priests to bridge rich-poor gapMaharashtra, February 16, 2012: Cardinal Oswald gracias regretted that the country’s progress has benefited only the rich.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, head of the Catholic Church in India, has urged priests to make a “conscious option” for the poor.

“We have two “Indias” and the priests should build a bridge between the two,” the cardinal said at the Mass that started the annual meeting of the Conference of the Diocesan Priests of India.

The cardinal, who is the archbishop of Bombay, regretted that the country’s progress has benefited only the rich who have “everything” while the poor continue to live in inhuman condition with no access to education and minimum facilities.

“We can make a difference to them. We have to make a conscious option for the poor,” he added.

The February 14-16 annual meeting has chosen the theme, “New Evangelization: Its Meaning, Relevance and Ways of Doing in India.”

A week earlier, Cardinal Gracias had led the Indian bishops’ search for ways to help the Church contribute to the creation of a better India.

“Go back committed with good ideas to change India,” he encouraged the priests, who met in Mumbai.

He commended the priests for working together and helping each other. He contrasted it with outside scenario of bomb attacks, explosions and violence.

“Terrorism is an expression of dissatisfaction” over the unethical exploitation of the poor in the name of progress.

He asserted that the world needs priests to build “a kingdom of justice, peace and equality” in society.

The Church leader urged the priests to imbibe the example of the dedicated, selfless and courageous apostles to build a better India.

The cardinal urged priests to take the laity into confidence in evangelization works.

“We should be conscious that the laity is also the Church,” he reminded the priests. “The laity is our strength. We should not see them as problems, but as opportunities. We must empower them,” he added.

– cj verghese

Burma troops ‘Kill, Torture’ Christian Kachins despite ceasefire pledge


Burma troops 'Kill, Torture' ChristianBurma, February 13, 2012: Burmese troops kill or torture civilians and destroy churches and even entire villages of the predominantly Christian Kachin minority despite pledges from Burma’s nominally civilian government that it seeks ceasefire agreements with ethnic groups, investigators said Sunday, February 12.

In a report obtained by BosNewsLife, rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said it recorded “grave human rights abuses” during a three week visit to the Rangoon and Kachin State on the China-Burma border.

The report was released Sunday, February 12, as Burma marks the 65th anniversary of the Panglong Agreement in which Burma’s government pledged, for instance, “full autonomy in internal administration for the frontier areas” in principle, including the creation of a Kachin State by the Constituent Assembly.

As Burma, also known as Myanmar, began observing the agreement with what is known as “Union Day”, CSW cautioned that while “a window of opportunity for change…after decades of oppression and conflict may have now opened,” the situation in Kachin and northern Shan States illustrate that “there is still a very long way to go”.

CSW’s East Asia Team Leader, Benedict Rogers, told BosNewsLife that the stories his team recorded from Kachin people “was among the worst” they ever heard. “A very high proportion of the people we interviewed had family members killed by the Burma Army. These were unarmed civilians, in their paddy fields or homes, who were not engaged in armed combat in any form.”

“Grave Concern”

He added that the “accounts of torture and other abuses are a cause for very grave concern, and the humanitarian challenges facing the internally displaced people require an urgent and sustained response from the international community.”

It was not immediately clear whether the troops had received direct orders from the government to carry out the alleged abuses and there was no immediate comment from authorities.

CSW said it was in Kachin State when the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) held a first round of peace talks with the Burma’s government.

Minority groups within Burma, including the Kachins, have been fighting for more rights and independence from what they view as military dictatorship for decades.

Last week a ceasefire agreement between the army and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) was the seventh such accord between the government and ethnic rebel groups since former military junta leader and now President Thein Sein made a public call for peace talks with separatists late last year.

Disputed Elections

The ceasefire, one of 11 being sought by the government which came to power in 2010 in disputed elections is seen as aimed at strengthening Burma’s case for getting Western sanctions lifted.

Along with freeing political prisoners and holding fair by-elections in April, the United States and European Union have made peace with ethnic militias a pre-requisite for a review of their embargoes.

Negotiations with the KIO’s military wing, the powerful Kachin Independence Army (KIA). have been derailed however by persistent fighting that aid groups say has displaced as many as 50,000 people.

The tensions underscore the high political, economic and diplomatic stakes at play in the region, analysts say.

Kachin State is central to the energy interests of both Burma and China, hosting crucial hydropower dams and twin pipelines that will transport oil and natural gas to supply southwestern Yunnan province.

Christianity Crackdown?

Yet, Christian rights investigators have also linked the reported crackdown on Kachins and other predominantly Christian ethnic groups to opposition among Burmese officials about Christianity.

“There has been a series of attacks against the mainly Christian Kachin people in Burma. At the end of November soldiers fired mortar shells against civilians and burnt down homes,” said rights watchdog Release International in a recent statement.

“In a separate incident, ten people, including seven children, were killed after an explosion rocked a Christian-run orphanage. The blast took place shortly after evening prayers. Sixteen children were injured, including two sons and a grandson of the Christian couple who run the orphanage,” the group said about the late November incidents.

Authorities reportedly detained the couple in charge of the orphanage, Dayawng Tang Gun and his wife Ja Dim, alleging they had made the bombs. “Residents suspect it was actually government officials who planted the explosives,” Release International explained.

CSW’s Rogers said violent incidents overshadow “clear signs of change in Burma, such as the release of significant numbers of political prisoners and the decision by [Nobel Peace Prize winner] Aung San Suu Kyi and [her] National League for Democracy (NLD) to contest parliamentary by-elections, which we should welcome and encourage.”

Government Reforms

He said that as Burma’s Union Day is observed Sunday, February 12, his group has urge the government “to build on the reforms made so far by introducing institutional and legislative reforms required to lead the country to genuine change.”

Rogers added that reforms should include “amendments to the constitution, repeal or amendment of unjust laws, and a sincere effort to begin a political process that results in a mutually acceptable political solution for all the people of Burma.”

He said the Panglong agreement “was based on equal rights for all the ethnic nationalities, a degree of autonomy, and respect for ethnic identity, within the Union of Burma.”

President Thein Sein should “recapture that spirit today, and we call on the international community to develop a balanced response, recognizing and encouraging progress while maintaining pressure for real change,” Rogers added.

– worthynews

Mumbai Canossian Inter-Faith meet on Republic Day

January 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Church, India, Maharashtra, newsletter-india, Republic Day

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Mumbai, January 26, 2012: The Canossian Sisters of Mumbai Region organised on Republic Day a grand celebration with the coming together of People of All Faiths, comprising parents and students of all their institutions across the city and also neighbouring Vasai diocese. The inter-faith programme was organised with the assistance of Fr. SM Michael and Fr. Aniceto Pereira, who was the moderator and crystalised very effectively the essence of the unity in diversity, as brought out by the speakers. Joseph Dias, the general secretary of The CSF represented the Christian viewpoint, which was much appreciated by the speakers of all other religions.
The work of Sr. Rose D’souza and her band of sisters – Monica, Fatima, Priscilla, Elma, Vailankanni, Connie, Philo Joseph, Dolly, Philo George, Meena, etc – was much appreciated by the Provincial Superior, Maggie Mathew and the guests, who were assembled. The Canossa primary students had a prayer dance, which was followed by the lighting of the lamp, by way of inauguration. The youth of Manickpur out up a skit on the state of the nation, with it scams, corruption, et al.

Republic Day

The theme of the inter-faith meet being “Peace, Harmony & Brotherhood”, Joseph Dias quoted the following scriptures:
* Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” – Luke 2:14

* Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. – Matthew 5:9

* “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. – Luke 6:27

* And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. – James 3:18
* Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. – 1 Peter 3:11

* If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18

* Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14

* Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. – 2 Corinthians 13:11
* Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no greater commandment than this. – Matthew 22:37-39

* But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:35
* Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:7-8
Joseph Dias concluded with –
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. . .And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – excerpts from – 1 Corinthians 13:4-13
The CSF general secretary pointed out that The Second Vatican Council states that salvation includes others who acknowledge the same creator and the repeated Holy Fathers encouraged inter-faith dialogue, especially begining with the 1986 Peace Prayer in Assisi called Pope John Paul II, which the current Pope Benedict XVI has more vigorously followed up with representatives of all world religions. He drew the attention of the audience to The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which had as it objectives the following:  to promote mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Catholics and the followers of others religious traditions; to encourage the study of religions; to promote the formation of persons dedicated to dialogue.

The meeting ended with a resolution and pledge taken by the house to fight communalism and protect the unity, integrity and independence of India. A dance by the Snehasadan girls and singing the national anthem concluded the session, with plants being given to the guests, who were happy with the eco-friendly token gesture.

– canossian sisters

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.


Hundreds attend Syro Malankara convention

November 1, 2011 by  
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Syro Malankara Catholic Church was inaugurated in Mumbai on October 25 by Maharashtra governor K SankaranarayananMaharashtra, October 28, 2011: The 12th biennial convention of the Syro Malankara Catholic Church was inaugurated in Mumbai on October 25 by Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan.

The convention of ETRI Malakarities at St Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church was attended by 1500 delegates from 45 parishes across India.

Thomas Mar Titus, Marthoma Bishop of Mumbai, Geeverghese Mar Coorilos, Syrian Orthodox Bishop of Mumbai, Abraham Mar Julios, Bishop of Muvattupuzha, Cardinal Oswald Gracious, Archbishop of Mumbai were among those who graced the occasion.

– daijiworld

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