Book on Church Public Relations Released

October 31, 2011 by  
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Book On Church Public Relations Authored By Fr. Anand Muttungal

Fr. Anand Muttungal

Madhya Pradesh, October 19, 2011: Probably the first Indian Book on Church Public Relations authored by Fr. Anand Muttungal was released at a function organized at Pastoral Centre in Bhopal. The book was released by Madhya Pradesh Regional Catholic Bishops Council Chairman, Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio and National President of Conference of Diocesan Priests of India, Fr. Dr. Francis Scaria. 

Speaking on the occasion Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio praising the efforts of the author said, “This book is milestone in the special ministry of Public Relations in the Catholic Church. It has dealt with many aspects Public Relations in relation to Catholic Church and its ministries.” Fr. Dr. Francis Scaria said, “ It is a very creative attempt to conscientize and educate people on how to spread the Gospel through public relations in an increasingly communally polarized world.”

The book is said to be the first book on Church Public Relations written by a Church personal in the Country. It is around two hundred and sixty pages.  It provides techniques to become a good public communicator, writing complaints officials, dealing with people in solving problems, functioning of the Indian administrative system, different issues related to media and how to deal with them and the troubles to Church and its personal, how priests, nuns and Bishops can use public relations to spread the message of Christ. It also deals with public relations in relation to various institutions and services offered by the Church.  The book is published by the Media Publishing House, New Delhi. It provides techniques to deal with various problems related to religious organizations, social, political, administrative, legal matters, legally challenging the media etc. It is of 265 pages and the cost is 240/

The author of the book Fr. Anand Muttungal said, “ the book has dealt with various aspects of the Public Relations from the point of Missiology. Church P R is the systematic way of relationship building for the sake of mission. And every section of the missionaries has something worth reading in the book. I wish that all those involved in the mission read and take advantage of the book.” There are other books by the same author, such as 
 
“Application of the Special Constitutional Provisions on Minority Schools” written by Fr. Anand Muttungal : This book is both in English and Hindi. It provides Special Constitutional Rights for Minorities in India and different Court judgments and its applications for the Minority run educational institutions. This book can be used to create awareness among the parents-teachers, officials, leaders and activists. In Madhya Pradesh we are offering it to all above mentioned persons as gifts.  It is a hand book containing 50 pages. The cost is Rs. 50/- only.

“Is Conversion A Grace From God Or A Punishment By Law” written by Fr. Anand Muttungal: It provides all the Anti-conversion Laws existing in the Country and its applications and implications in the missions. Various judgments of Courts and opinions of  Judges and experts too are added. It also suggests ways to carry out Conversions as per the Indian Law. It can be used by all those involved in the missions. The book is of 152 pages costing Rs. 130/-

For copies contact:

Mr. A Francis                                                                                         
In-charge of Publications,
VK Institute for Human Research and Development
Seva Sadan, Tulsi Nagar , Bhopal 462003, M.P
09201515517, serveindiamp@yahoo.com

Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh Appeals to Commemorate Last Sunday of August as “Indian Christian Martyrs’ Day”

August 12, 2011 by  
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Archbishop Leo Cornelio, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Archbishop Leo Cornelio

Bhopal : Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh (MPIMS),has appealed to all Christian community members to remember the Christian Martyrs on 28th August. Richard D’Silca , Media in-charge, said “It was a decision taken by the MPIM in a two days “Isai Mahasangam 2008”(Christian Lay Leaders Conference) held in Bhopal in October 2008. 

In 2010 the Archbishop of Bhopal, Dr. Leo Cornelio has supported the idea of organizing a prayer meeting and blood donation to commemorate the Indian Christian Martyrs.”

Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh has asked all its district units to commemorate the Indian Christian Martyrs Day by organizing blood donation camps and prayers. It also expects people to take part in large numbers. In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, IMS is organizing the blood donation camp along with Red Cross.

Mr. Kurishinkal Josy , President IMS  , said , “the great sacrifice done by the Christians of Orissa has to be remembered by the people of  India. We will commemorate 25th August as Indian Christian Martyrs Day all over Madhya Pradesh.” MPIMS will remember it as a day to remember all those Christians since St. Thomas, the apostle, who were killed while serving the Lord.”

Adding to this Mrs. Sheela Shantiago, the women wing president, said that along with martyrs we will also specially remember those heroic women who faced rape, molestation and insults for the sake of faith, their sacrifice is not less than martyrdom.”  

Richard D’Silva , Media In-charge, said ,We have started and E-mail campaign to appeal all the Church leaders and people of good will  to celebrate it with prayer, fasting, blood donation camps etc. He also urged the Church leaders and organizations  to declare 25th August as Indian Christian Martyrs Day. He said that if this date is not suitable any other date can be fixed but their great sacrifice to strengthen the faith of Christians has to be remembered.”

MPIM has decided to write to all Church leaders and organizations to promote this day as Indian Christian Martyrs Day. We will celebrate this day from now on. We will also remember and honour all those living persons too who suffered during the violence.

Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh Appeals to Commemorate Last Sunday of August as “Indian Christian Martyrs’ Day”

August 12, 2011 by  
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Bhopal : Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh (MPIMS),has appealed to all Christian community members to remember the Christian Martyrs on 28th August. Richard D’Silca , Media in-charge, said “It was a decision taken by the MPIM in a two days “Isai Mahasangam 2008”(Christian Lay Leaders Conference) held in Bhopal in October 2008. 

In 2010 the Archbishop of Bhopal, Dr. Leo Cornelio has supported the idea of organizing a prayer meeting and blood donation to commemorate the Indian Christian Martyrs.”

Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh has asked all its district units to commemorate the Indian Christian Martyrs Day by organizing blood donation camps and prayers. It also expects people to take part in large numbers. In Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, IMS is organizing the blood donation camp along with Red Cross.

Mr. Kurishinkal Josy , President IMS  , said , “the great sacrifice done by the Christians of Orissa has to be remembered by the people of  India. We will commemorate 25th August as Indian Christian Martyrs Day all over Madhya Pradesh.” MPIMS will remember it as a day to remember all those Christians since St. Thomas, the apostle, who were killed while serving the Lord.”

Adding to this Mrs. Sheela Shantiago, the women wing president, said that along with martyrs we will also specially remember those heroic women who faced rape, molestation and insults for the sake of faith, their sacrifice is not less than martyrdom.”

Richard D’Silva , Media In-charge, said ,We have started and E-mail campaign to appeal all the Church leaders and people of good will  to celebrate it with prayer, fasting, blood donation camps etc. He also urged the Church leaders and organizations  to declare 25th August as Indian Christian Martyrs Day. He said that if this date is not suitable any other date can be fixed but their great sacrifice to strengthen the faith of Christians has to be remembered.”

MPIM has decided to write to all Church leaders and organizations to promote this day as Indian Christian Martyrs Day. We will celebrate this day from now on. We will also remember and honour all those living persons too who suffered during the violence.

Khandwa Diocese and Christian Communities Submit Memorandum to the President of India

July 26, 2011 by  
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The Khandwa diocese in Madhya Pradesh

The Khandwa diocese in Madhya Pradesh

It is in solidarity with the Hunger Strike that began on 25th July 2011 in Delhi, Christians at Khandwa district held a peace rally to demand scheduled caste status for Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims.  The rally started at 1.30 p.m. on 25th July 2011 at the center of Khandwa town, Kevalram Petrol Pump circle and reached the Collectorate at 3.00 p.m.  About 500 lay people, pastors, priests, religious, and youth participated in the peace rally.  On behalf of all the Christian communities, the bishop of Khandwa Diocese, Most. Rev. A.A.S. Durairaj submitted the memorandum to our Honorable President of India through the District Collector.     We hope and pray that our peace rally, hunger struggles, and other peaceful efforts may impel the Union Government to take appropriate steps to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the Schedule Caste list and uphold the principles of Secularism and Freedom of Religion.

Leader lauds Christian education

July 12, 2011 by  
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Minority community leaders handing over a memorandum to former chief minister Digvijay Singh

Minority community leaders handing over a memorandum to former chief minister Digvijay Singh

July 8, 2011 : Congress leader Digvijay Singh has praised Christians in Madhya Pradesh for providing quality education in the state and urged the Muslim community to do the same.

More than 95 percent of Christians are educated and everyone must learn from them, he told guests at a Muslim education society function yesterday in the state capital Bhopal.

The former state chief minister said Muslims, like Christians, must provide quality education so that they can improve their quality of life.

Singh, who held the top government post in the state for over a decade, also pledged his support to the minority community in their endeavors to protect their rights. “I will be with you in your fight,” he told them.

Meanwhile, Father Anand Muttungal, the Catholic Church’s spokesman in Madhya Pradesh, was congratulated by the Muslim gathering for his contributions in protecting the rights of minorities.

Recently, he has been dealing with what the Church says is state interference in the administration of Catholic run educational institutions.

Former chairman of the State Minority Commission and state president of the Muslim Education Society, Ibrahim Qureshi lauded the priest for his “fearless fight to restore the rights of minorities.”

Father Muttungal in his address said Muslims should also focus on providing quality education of a general nature rather than concentrating on religious education.

“Unless minorities unite and fight for their rights they will be ignored, no matter how legitimate their grievances are,” he said.

At the end of the function Digvijay Singh was given a document asking for his help on several rights issues plaguing state minority groups.

He promised to take them up with the federal government.

– ucan

Church-run school suffers intimidation

July 9, 2011 by  
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Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP)A Church-run school in Madhya Pradesh is being intimidated by the student wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (People’s Party) for denying admission to a student, its administrators say. School manager, Father John Victor, said yesterday that Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists are trying to force St. Jude’s Higher Secondary School to admit a Grade 5 student. The school in Khargone, in Khandwa diocese in the central Indian state is presently operating under police protection. “The activists have been causing problems for the past week. We always consider transfer cases, but unfortunately all Grade 5 places are full,” Father Victor said.

He said the trouble began after we refused a girl whose father came to the school seeking her admission with a reference from a political figure. The young activists then tried creating a disturbance on the school campus. They tried again on Tuesday and on Wednesday when the National Students Union of India, the student wing of the Congress party, also joined the ABVP and staged a demonstration outside the school. They said the school was not flying the national flag and did not have a portrait of the Hindu goddess of knowledge Saraswati, Father Victor said.

Police later dispersed the protesters, who vowed to intensify their efforts if the girl is still denied admission. Local authorities and the police are offering protection to the school’s students and property, according to Father Victor. Several Christian schools in Madhya Pradesh say they are being harassed and victimized on some pretext or another. On Wednesday the state high court agreed to hear a case brought by the Church which alleges the state government is trying to interfere in the running of their schools.

– ucan

Church schools complain of harassment

June 30, 2011 by  
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The Christian delegation headed by Archbishop Leo Cornelio with Education minister Archana Chitnis in Bhopal

The Christian delegation headed by Archbishop Leo Cornelio with Education minister Archana Chitnis in Bhopal

The Madhya Pradesh government is using a federal law to harass Christian schools, some Church leaders in the central state allege.

“Our schools have been constantly harassed and victimized in the name of the Right to Education Act,” said Father Anand Muttungal, spokesman for the Catholic Church in the state.

The new law is meant to provide for free and compulsory education to poor people.

However, government officials in the state now demand admission in Christian schools “in total violation of the law” since it came into force, the priest alleged.

“They not only use pressure tactics for out-of- turn admissions but also try to interfere with the daily administration of our schools,” he added.

Father P. J. Johny, principal of St. Joseph’s Co-Ed School in Bhopal, the state capital, finds the government officials’ interference “really disturbing.”

According to him, the law has become handy for officials to arm twist Christian schools. “As the new session has just begun, people use all kinds of pressure tactics to get admission for their children,” he said.

He said he received a letter from the top government official in Bhopal demanding admission for a third grader under the new law. “It is quite worrying,” the priest said.
Father Muttungal cited another case where the district education officer sought admission for a student under the new law. “Several such cases are pouring in from Christian schools across the state,” he added.

The new law stipulates that every school should set aside 25 percent of places for poor children in the first grade.

Father Muttungal said he would consult lawyers to take up the matter in court to stop “undue interference”.

– ucan

An Open Letter to Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

June 24, 2011 by  
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Fr. Anand Muttungal

Fr. Anand Muttungal

24 June, 2011

To
The Hon’ble Chief Minister
Government of Madhya Pradesh
Syamala Hills, Bhopal

Sub: “Building communal harmony in the State and safe guarding spirit of the Constitution of India.”

Sir,

I wish to thank you for the efforts you have made to build communal harmony in the state from time to time. You have also set a fine example of communal harmony in the state by organizing religious festivals of all major religions in the Chief Minister’s official residence. However, I would like to make a few suggestions to you that will further help in strengthening your efforts to building up peace and communal harmony in the state and adhering to the Article 51A (e) of the Fundamental Duties enshrined  in the constitution of India. You may also recall that many occasions you have reaffirmed your firm commitment to communal harmony as describing it as the cornerstone for peace and harmony in the state. I have full faith in your commitment for peace and ability to translate it into reality as Chief Minister of the state.

Context of the Letter:  Each State Government in the Country is bound to uphold the constitution of India through its words and deeds. However, it has been noticed that one religion got predominance over other religions when it came to naming different government schemes under your stewardship.  Without any bias or malafide intention, I would like to draw your kind attention to the names of some of the flagship programmes of your government launched for the welfare of the people such as Ladli Laxmi Yojana, Balram Tal Yojana , Kapildhara Yojana , Vikramaditya Nishulk Shiksha Yojana , Anna Prashan and Surya Namaskar interalia etc. Nevertheless, I would like to add that in my brief study into the naming of flagship programmes of your government, made me to wonder how barring one religion all other religions in the state got ignored. Moreover, in Bhoomi Pujan/inauguration for government construction/programme barring one religion all other religions in the state are totally ignored or not represented, this I feel as blatant violation of the secular fabric of the constitution.

I also would like to take this opportunity to draw your kind attention into some of the provisions in the constitution of India that unmistakably underlines its secular characteristics in letter and spirit.

1. The preamble of Constitution of India clearly states that “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC…”

I quote from the objectives described in the preamble of the Constitution “The word secular implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance making it amply clear that there is no official state religion in the country. One has, thus, the right to preach, practice and propagate any religion he/she chooses. The government shall not favour or discriminate against any religion. It must treat all religions with equal respect. All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in the eyes of law.” The Supreme Court in S.R Bommai v. Union of India held that secularism was an integral part of the basic structure of the constitution.

Therefore, there is no ambiguity that all religions are equal before the law and promoting one religion is constitutionally void by any democratically elected government.

2. Article 28,(1&3) Freedom as to attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions

(1) No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.

The Constitution of India does not permit religious instruction such as the Surya Namaskar, Bhojan Mantra,  introduction of Gita Sar (Content of Gita) and other sacraments of Hindu religion in the academic which curriculum violates the basic principal of Constitution. The Baghwat Gita is a Hindu holy scripture.

(3) No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.

Religious instruction about the tenets of one religion will prove to be against the basic principle of Secularism enshrined in the Constitution other than as a subject to introduce the children about a religion. It will not be out of contest to mention that your government brought compulsory practices of Surya Namaskar and Bhojan Mantra in school. When minority communities knocked at the doors of the court, you made it optional even then, it violates the secular fabrics of the constitution, as a section of the students is forced to practice their religious belief in a school totally or partially funded by the tax payers money. Giving insight into what is Surya Namaskar, Bhojan Mantra,  Gita Sar and teaching sacraments of Hindu religion in school is part of the academic curriculum, but making students to practice it in the premises of a school, needs re-consideration.

It will not be inappropriate to mention here that this kind of practice in the schools will gradually lead to religious division in the minds of children and communal disharmony as well. 

 3. Article 27 Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion

No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes, the proceeds of which are specifically appropriated in payment of expenses for the promotion or maintenance of any particular religion or religious denomination.

It would be better to bring to your notice that the state is not collecting any tax for the purpose of teaching any religion but spending the tax payers’ money in religious education, Bhoomi Pujan, running religious matters of a particular religion too is using the money of the tax payers who are from different religions.

4. Article 15 Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.

The state promoting one religion is discrimination against believers of other religions. So it is always at the greater interest of the state to have basic values of all religions taught rather than promoting one religion through government schemes and education.

Appeal

1. Introduce good teachings of all religions as a subject in the academic curriculum instead of a particular religion. It will indeed help to promote harmony and peace.

2. It would be at the best interest of all religious communities to give equal chance to all the religions when it comes to christening government schemes/programmes one after another, if at all the government wants to continue with this practice. However, it would be better to avoid involving religion and religious names in the government programmes.

3. It would be nice to introduce an all religious prayer in inauguration, foundation stone laying ceremonies etc. in government programmes or programmes that utilizes tax payers money instead of the current practice of reciting the prayers from one religion, to uphold the secular values of the constitution, if at all the government wishes to have religious prayer. However, it would be more appropriate to evolve a purely secular form of inauguration/foundation laying ceremony.

I request you to take appropriate steps to uphold the secular credentials of the constitution for a prosperous future of Madhya Pradesh.

Thank you

Awaiting for your early reply,

For the Catholic Council of Bishops, M.P
Fr. Anand Muttungal

*Christian complain against BJP state president in MP *Christians attacked and threatened in Jharkhand

June 17, 2011 by  
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Christian complain against BJP state president in MP

Christian complain against BJP state president in MP

Bhopal, 16, June, 2011: Christian leaders from the Isai Mahasangh launched a complaint with   Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer P.C. Meena against Prabath Jha, B J P State President, for his alleged inflammatory remarks made against he Christian community with reference to Jabera by-election to M.P Assembly. The congress candidate in the Jabera constituency, Dr. Tanaya Solomon is a Christian and daughter of demised MLA from this constituency Ratnesh Solomon. Before leaving for his election campaign in Jabera constituency  in a press conference held in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh, he said, “Christian missionaries are involved in forceful conversions in Jabera. He asked people to retaliate to the conversions. Also asked the Government ot probe against the alleged conversions reported by the BJP candidate Dashrath Singh Lodhi.” He said that the are mass conversions going on the jabera area. Isai Mahasangh state public relations officer John Antony said, “the chief electoral officer Shri. P C Meena assured us that he will be looking into the matter. And he is of the know of the incident and action will be taken accordingly.”

Fr. Anand Muttungal, coordinator of the organization, said, “ the BJP has used its communal agenda to divide the community on the communal lines. It is not he first time the issue of conversion coming up during the election, whenever there is a candidate from the community or there is a noticeable number of Christians, the issue of conversion is taken as a political agenda to divide the votes showing Christians as the demons. It is a clear violation of model code of conduct” State treasurer of the IMS, Roy John Thatta, said that it is first time Christians have raised their voice against the allegations of conversion during the election time with chief electoral officer. “Our concern is the future of Christian community and its security because the provocative speeches can negatively motivate fundamental groups to resort to violence in the state against Christians.” Said Jerry Paul State Secretary of IMS. The delegation included the Richard James, Mathew Abraham and other state office bearers.

 

Christians attacked and threatened in Jharkhand

 

Jharkhand, 28 May, 2011 (Compass Direct): Several Christians came under attack in Jharkhand state, India, in recent weeks. On May 28, Hindu militants beat the members of five Christian families in Palamu district. A week prior, a group of Hindu militants threatened to beat Pastor Sanjay Choudary of the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society if he did not stop leading worship meetings. He and his congregation then filed a complaint, leading the police to visit with them on May 28. Immediately after the police left, the enraged militants appeared and started beating people. One woman suffered internal injuries, and another believer was still missing at last report. The Christians have reportedly fled their homes. In a similar incident, Hindu militants in Karivadhi village are threatening to severely beat three families of new Christian converts if they do not return to Hinduism. These Christians have also fled the area and are now in hiding.

Prayer Points: Pray these Christians will look to the God of truth as their righteous refuge and tower of strength (Psalm 31:1-5). Pray they will be living witnesses to the love and hope of Christ, even to their persecutors. Ask God to work in the hearts of those who attack Christians in India, leading them to the path of repentance and peace.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio: BJP Govt Uses RTE to Interfere

May 30, 2011 by  
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Archbishop Leo CornelioThe Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh says state government interference is forcing it to go to the High Court to protect its right to run its own educational institutions. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal is accusing the state government of “misusing” a new education law to “interfere” with the running of Christian schools in the state. The federal government last year introduced the Right to Education Act to provide free and compulsory education for children between six and 14 years old. The act became law on April 1, 2010, but will be implemented for the new academic year beginning in July. Now the state government is using it as a tool to harass Christian educational institutions, he says.

“Representatives of the district education officers are telling us who should be given admission and are insisting they be part of the decision-making apparatus in our schools,” the prelate said recently. This, the prelate said, violates Article 30 of the constitution and several court orders that grant functional freedom to minority schools. According to the prelate, Article 30 outlines the right to admit students, appoint staff, take disciplinary action against staff members, constitute a governing body and set a reasonable fee structure.

Archbishop Cornelio said a state government circular, issued in March, regarding implementation of the Right to Education Act in Madhya Pradesh deliberately ignored the rights of minority institutions and demonstrated it is trying to take over the administration of Christian schools. “We are being forced to go to the court to save our educational institutions. Our petition will also challenge the circular and seek a stay on its implementation as it is infringing upon on our right to provide quality education,” he said. “Government officials are also opposed to giving admission to economically-disadvantaged Christians in the 25 percent quota for poor children,” he added.

– ucan

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