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Washington: Most Americans think highly of Pope Francis, who has won praise for speaking out on global warming and urging his church to show more compassion toward sinners, says a poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University survey was released as the reform-minded pontiff prepares to visit the United States from September 22-27, after a stop in Cuba.

Sixty-six per cent of those polled have a favorable or very favorable opinion of the Argentine-born pope, the survey found.

Among Catholic Americans, the support was even greater at 88 per cent.

Among Americans in general, 43 per cent said they think the pope is leading the Roman Catholic church in the right direction, compared to 21 per cent who say he is not. Among Catholics 70 per cent say he is leading the church in the right direction.

Thirty-five per cent said they did not know, or had no answer to the question.

The poll conducted last month surveyed 1,829 American adults and had a margin of error of 2.3 percentage points.

During his stay in America, Pope Francis is to visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, where he will be received by President Barack Obama and address a joint session of the US Congress.

Francis has won plaudits for defending the environment, denouncing income inequality and showing concern for the poor, NDTV reported.

He also has said, famously, that he is not in a position to judge gays, although he has retained the official church position that homosexuality is wrong.

~Source:Matters India : September 3, 2015 Story By: mattersindia.com

7 Sep 2015 - 09:22

New Delhi: An artery road in downtown Delhi on Sunday became a human sea as thousands of Christians staged a peaceful sit-in to demand peace, justice and protection for religious minority groups in the country.

More than 8,000 people, who filled the street leading to the Parliament House, alleged that “despite being a tiny 2.3 percent of the Indian population” Christians faced a systematic targeting by communal forces.

A memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that the demonstration was part of a series of protests by Christians since 2014 to express “our collective frustration, deep sorrow and mounting anguish at the government’s cynicism and apathy to stop the targeted violence against us.”

The demonstrators urged the premier to keep his promise made at a Christian meeting in New Delhi in February that he would uphold the country’s secular character and curb “’violence against any religion.” The demonstrators wanted him translate that promise on the ground level.

The protest, organized by the Delhi Pastors Action Team, noted that unchecked hate has resulted in frequent violence against Christians throughout the country. “Nuns, sometimes as old as 70 years, are being raped in gross contempt of law and humanity,” the protesters said in a press statement. Church clergy, buildings and institutions are being attacked with impunity and generally justice has either not been forthcoming or has been explained away, it added.

Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) and one of main organizers of the rally, asserted that Christians are Indians who have all the rights to stay in the country and the government has a duty to protect them. “Although Christians belong to various denominations they are one in faith in Jesus Christ,” he added.

According to partial list available EFI’s Religious Liberty Commission; India witnessed 147 incidents of violence and hate against Christians in 2014. Such incidents crossed the 100 mark in the eight months of this year, it added.

The press note said some Christian pastor were beaten up recently in Nihal Vihar are of Delhi. “The impunity with which it was carried out in the presence of the police is a glaring example of the casual attitude with which even the law enforcement agencies have started to look at the cases of hate crimes against the Christian community,” it added.

Description: Catholic nuns at the sit-in

Catholic nuns at the sit-in

In the last of week of August, at least five incidents were reported from Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and, Uttar Pradesh. “Christian praying even in their own homes, in private worship, are no longer safe as they are being targeted by right wing extremists apparently drunk on political power and support.”

Retired Church of North India Bishop Karam Masih of Delhi said the demonstration was “a fight for justice. We have witnessed atrocities on a peaceful community. The central government seems to make the minorities weaker,” he told the people who sat on Parliament Street braving hot afternoon sun.

Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi said the concerted effort of Christians is to build up a fraternal and peaceful community and that their works in health, education and social fields are expressions of God’s love. “This is what God expects of us by being salt and light in the world,” the prelate said.

Reverend Vijayesh Lal of the Evangelical Fellowship of India regretted Christians “falsely implicated in the name of conversion” and asserted that their service is not for conversion but “an inspiration of the divine love channelized in various ways.”

Ajit Pal from the Good News Church regretted that Christians faced hundreds of incidents of violence within one year of the new federal government. “We are sad that our government has disowned us. Our children are beaten, women are tortured and pastors are put behind bars unconstitutionally in different parts of the country,” he noted.

The demonstrators raised slogans saying they are “proud Indians” while being proud of “our Christian faith.”

People of other religions also addressed the demonstrators.

Kamal Faruqui, a progressive Muslim, regretted that hundreds of thousands have benefited from the service of Christians but hardly anyone supports them when they face repeated attacks. “There is a move to destroy the secular fabric of India,” he said and added that in the past 15 months the country witnessed 400 attacks on Muslims and 200 on Christians.

Prashant Bhushan, a leading Supreme Court lawyer, called on people of all religions to jointly fight a sectarian mindset in the country. “We are proud of our cultural and geographical diversity and religious pluralism. And at the same time we have equal constitutional rights,” the Hindu leader added.

He regretted a move by certain group to polarize people on religious lines so that they can rule the country in what he said was the revival of the British policy of divide and rule.

Reports by civil society groups have recorded at least 43 deaths in over 600 cases of violence, 194 targeting Christians and the rest Muslims, between May 26, 2014 and May 13, 2015. “This is a worrisome trend for minorities in India,” the press note said.

~Source: Matters India  <31 Aug 2015>

7 Sep 2015 - 09:11

Bhubaneswar: The survivors of Kandhamal communal violence of 2008 have requested Indian President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee to ensure peace and justice in the volatile district of Odisha state in eastern India.

In an August 31 letter, the members of the “Kandhamal Nyaya Shanti O Sadbhabana Samaj” (Justice and Peace for Kandhamal Survivors Platform) pleaded the president’s “kind perusal and appropriate, necessary and urgent action” on their memorandum.

After seven years of Kandhamal communal violence in 2008, the victims have been suffering from various socio-economic constrains and psychological trauma. There is a serious dissatisfaction among the affected communities. .

Anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal began in 1969 and there were several attacks after that. The first major attack in Kattingia village was in 1984. Nineteen churches were burnt in 1986-1987 in different parts of the district and further the atrocities in different stages and places continued unabatedly, the letter said.

The anti-Christian violence in 2007-2008, claimed a total of more than 90 lives, including disabled and elderly persons, children, men and women. The communal frenzy engulfed more than 600 villages.

At least 6,500 houses were looted and burnt, 56,000 people were made homeless, and 350 churches and worship places were razed and gutted. The violence also led to loot and destruction of 35 schools, philanthropic institutions including leprosy homes, tuberculosis sanatoriums and dozens of non-profit organizations.

More than 10,000 children became school dropouts because of displacement and insecurity while thousands were pushed to unhygienic relief camps for nearly three years, the memorandum said.

It also regretted that most culprits in the communal violence cases were acquitted because of what it said was shoddy investigation by the police and intimidation of the witnesses in the court premises.

“This miniscule conviction rate has led to a stage that people are losing faith in the justice delivery system. Therefore, we demand a judicial enquiry by a panel of sitting judges from the Supreme Court of India, into all 3,330 complaints lodged in police stations.”

The memorandum also demanded reopening of 302 First Information Reports that the police closed claiming lack of evidence.

“We also demand proper assessments of charge sheets in 518 cases to secure justice for the survivors of communal violence,” said Adikand Singh, a social worker associated with Justice and Peace for Kandhamal Survivors Platform.

He further alleged that the anti-Christian minority violence was “engineered, directed, instigated and operationalized by the fundamentalist outfits and groups backed by some political parties. Therefore we demand judicial enquiry into their involvement in the communal violence.”

Source: Matters India <Sep 2, 2015>

7 Sep 2015 - 09:00

25/08/2015 17:58

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(Vatican Radio) In Germany, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) said on Tuesday (25th August) there had been outrage among the nation's population to a suspected arson attack against a school gymnasium in Nauen near Berlin which was intended as a temporary shelter for asylum seekers.

The blaze followed protests against asylum seekers by far-right demonstrators in the area.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier condemned violent protests by far-right activists against an asylum shelter in the eastern town of Heidenau, near Dresden, at the weekend.

Stefan Kessler is the Policy Officer for the Jesuit Refugee Service in Germany and he spoke to Susy Hodges about JRS’ reaction to this latest suspected arson attack.

Listen to the interview with Stefan Kessler: 

http://media02.radiovaticana.va/audio/audio2/mp3/00491511.mp3

Kessler said the suspected arson attack near Berlin had been condemned by Germany’s leading politicians and had caused “outrage” in the general public.  He said JRS has been very “vocal” in advocating for all asylum seekers and those in need of protection to be given access to proper asylum procedures.  Asylum seekers, he continued, have the right to be “treated with respect and the right to a fair and proper asylum procedure” and said he hoped Chancellor Merkel would deliver that message during her visit to the town of Heidenau near Dresden and not just repeat her earlier condemnation of the zenophobic attacks.   

Sources: Vatican Radio/Jesuit Refugee Service


 

26 Aug 2015 - 11:48

04/08/2015 09:00

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(Vatican Radio)  United States President Barack Obama announced plans on Monday to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions over the next 15 years by nearly one third.

In his address, Mr. Obama made reference to Pope Francis’ moral authority on climate issues, as made clear in his Encyclical Laudato si’, saying “taking a stand against climate change is a moral obligation”.

 

 

 

 

 

A plume of steam from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire - AP

Listen to Devin Watkins' report:

http://media02.radiovaticana.va/audio/audio2/mp3/00488872.mp3

President Obama took aim on Monday at the level of emissions produced by American power plants.

He unveiled the Clean Power Plan which wants coal-fired power stations to reduce emissions by 32 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

Speaking on Monday, Mr. Obama outlined what the carbon cuts would mean in real terms.  "With this Clean Power Plan, by 2030, carbon pollution from our power plants will be 32 percent lower than it was a decade ago.  The nerdier way to say that is that we will be keeping 870 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of our atmosphere."

The plan also intends to promote cleaner, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar generated power.

Currently, roughly a third of US energy is provided by coal-fired power plants. 

President Obama also stressed the health benefits of cleaner air.  "Over the past three decades, nationwide asthma rates have more than doubled.  Climate change puts those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.  As one of America’s governors has said, 'We’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.'"

The Clean Power Plan is widely seen as the cornerstone of President Obama’s desire to secure a global treaty at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December, an event which Pope Francis’ recently-released Encyclical Laudato si’ also seeks to influence.

Source: Vatican Radio


 

26 Aug 2015 - 11:35

Pope Francis announces a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” - REUTERS

10/08/2015 11:35

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has decided to set up a “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which will be celebrated on September 1st annually.

He made the announcement in a letter to the heads of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

 

 

Listen to Lydia O’Kane's report

http://media02.radiovaticana.va/audio/audio2/mp3/00489654.mp3

Below in English is Pope Francis' letter announcing the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” 

 

To my Venerable Brothers

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Cardinal Kurt KOCH, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

Sharing with my beloved brother the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew his concerns for the future of creation (cfr Encylical Letter. Laudato Si, 7-9) and taking up the suggestion by his representative, the Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum who took part in the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato Si on the care of our common home, I wish to inform you that I have decided to set up also in the Catholic Church, the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which, beginning this year, will be celebrated on the 1st of September, as the Orthodox Church has done for some time now.   

As Christians we wish to offer our contribution towards overcoming the ecological crisis which humanity is living through.  Therefore, first of all we must draw from our rich spiritual heritage the reasons which feed our passion for the care of creation, always remembering that for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for us, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.” (ibid., 216).   The ecological crisis therefore calls us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them.” (ibid., 217).  Thus, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”(ibid).

The annual World Day of prayer for the Care of Creation offers to individual believers and to the community a precious opportunity to renew our personal participation in this vocation as custodians of creation, raising to God our thanks for the marvellous works that He has entrusted to our care, invoking his help for the protection of creation and his mercy for the sins committed against the world in which we live.  The celebration of the Day on the same date as the Orthodox Church will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our orthodox brothers.   We live in a time where all Christians are faced with identical and important challenges and we must give common replies to these in order to appear more credible and effective.  Therefore it is my hope that this Day can involve, in some way, other Churches and ecclesial Communities and be celebrated in union with the initiatives that the World Council of Churches is promoting on this issue.

Cardinal Turkson, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace,  I asking you to inform the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences, as well as the national and international Organizations involved in environmental issues about the establishment of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, so that in union with the needs and the local situation , this celebration can be rightly marked with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful.  For this reason, it will be the task of this Dicastery, in collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences to set up relevant initiatives to promote and illustrate this Day, so that this annual celebration becomes a powerful moment of prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate life styles.  

Cardinal Koch, as President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, I’m asking you to make the necessary contacts with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and with the other ecumenical organisations so that this World Day can become the sign of a path along all believers in Christ walk together.  It will also be your Dicastery’s task to take care of the coordination with similar initiatives set up by the World Council of Churches. 

Whilst I look forward to the widest possible cooperation for the best start and development of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, I invoke the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of St. Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation.  I support this pledge along with my Apostolic Blessing which I impart with all my heart to you, my dear Cardinals, and to all those who collaborate in your ministry.  

 

From the Vatican, 6th August 2015

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Source: Vatican Radio

26 Aug 2015 - 11:27

The government is, however, silent on how much time would the process take.

Posted on August 21, 2015, 8:28 AM

 

New Delhi: 

The federal government yesteray said changes to a century-old divorce act governing Christians could be made only in consultation with state governments, and not before necessary initiatives come from a sizable section of the community.

A case challenging a clause in the law is pending before the court. The clause says a two-year separation period is mandatory for Christian couples wanting divorce by mutual consent. The government responded favoring doing away with the clause.

In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the federal law ministry said any decision to amend the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 under which Christians move the court for divorce, has to be preceded by consultation with the state governments. It would then be introduced in the Parliament.

The government is, however, silent on how much time would the process take.

The government also clarified that it “does not interfere with the personal laws of the minority communities unless the necessary initiatives for such changes come from a sizeable section of such communities”.

The Centre gave its affidavit in response to a petition in the SC that wants the separation period to be reduced to one year.

According to the petitioner, Albert Anthony the provision in the Indian Divorce Act, 1869 which prescribes a minimum two-year period of separation for Christian couples is discriminatory.

He said the personal laws governing divorce for couples of other religion has limited this period to just a year. The petitioner stated the provision discriminated against the Christian community from Hindus, Parsis and those who get married under the Special Marriage Act as they can file a divorce suit within a year of living separately.

Asking the government for its stand, a bench headed by Justice Vikramjit Sen had termed the issue raised by Anthony as valid.

Though the Kerala and Karnataka high courts have read down the section, the ruling is applicable to the two states only. Anthony said the respective high courts have held that divorce can be sought within a year of separation.

However, Christians residing in other states are unable to take benefit of the verdicts, he said.

Source: Hindustan Times


21 Aug 2015 - 08:08
Police inactivity encourages further crimes, bishop declares.
Parish priest Father Nitish Jacob inspecting the collection box with other
parish leaders (UCAN Photo by Saji Thomas)

 

Bhopal: 

A parish church in India's Madhya Pradesh state has been robbed, prompting Church leaders to accuse state authorities of allowing criminals to commit crimes against Christians with impunity.
 

Thieves used the cover of darkness to break into St. Joseph Church in Ganj Basoda in Sagar diocese Aug. 13 and steal an unspecified amount of cash from the collection box, parish officials said.

“This is the third theft or attempted theft from this church” in less than a year, parish priest Nitish Jacob told ucanews.com on Aug. 16.

The first was on Dec. 3 when thieves entered the presbytery and stole about 100,000 rupees (US$1,500).

A second attempt took place on Feb. 15, but was foiled when people inside presbytery woke up, he said.

Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar bemoaned what he said was a complete lack of police action in trying to stop attacks on Christians in the state, which encourages criminals to commit further acts.

"They [the police] are inactive, and don’t take any action when churches are attacked. They don’t take seriously our complaints. What can we do? It is the duty of the police to investigate and take action against the culprits," he told ucanews.com.

Christians have faced a series of attacks since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in the state in December 2003, Church leaders say.

Local police chief R K Bansaldenied denied accusations that the police were doing nothing. He told ucanews.com that his men were investigating the latest case with the help of CCTV footage.

The footage shows the suspect stayed on the premises for almost one hour, he said.

Although the images are unclear, police believe “the robber is a local person who is aware of the workings of the Church," the officer said.

Bishop Chirayath and other Christian leaders say there have been at least 100 attacks on Christians since the BJP came to power 12 years ago, with more than 20 occurring in the last six months.

Not one prosecution has taken place, they say.

"The Church has been continuously denied justice even after proper complaints to the authorities about assaults, attacks and other illegal cases leveled against it and its members, but to date there isn’t a single example in which the administration has acted properly to boost the trust and confidence of the people," State Bishops' Council spokesperson Father Maria Stephen said.

"Since we believe in the rule of law, we are going to meet the district collector [the highest government authority in the district]. We will also approach the courts for protection and safety, if need be," he said.

Source: UCAN   

Posted on August 17, 2015, 8:02 PM

19 Aug 2015 - 09:05

Jesuit Madurai Province

Offers

1. DISCERNMENT FOR DECISION MAKING

THROUGH THE DYNAMICS OF THE SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

A programme based on the need to understand one’s legitimate self-interest of one’s total dedication to Christ : Individuals will be assisted to concentrate on understanding the rules of the Discernment of Spirits through the Spiritual

Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Inner dynamics of key mediations for firm decision making - personal and communitarian discernment for decision making will be covered.

 

Resource Person: Rev. Fr. Dr. Pavulraj, SJ, Gregorian University, Rome.

Date : 15 - 16 August 2015 (9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.)

Course fee : Rs. 1000 (Board & Lodge) for residentials;  Rs. 500  for day scholars

Venue : Dhyana Ashram, 25 Mada Church Road, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu

Tel: 044-2493 4414 / 2495 2210

 

2. PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN RETREATS

Do you find yourself at the same juncture in spite of a number of retreats?

Do you struggle with the same issues over and over again?

 

This course will offer understanding and insights about your psychological stagnation at various levels on the spiritual way, with possibilities for a breakthrough. Further, you will begin to recognise how psychological wounds unconsciously impact the quest for spirituality. Finally, it is by entering into the healing of one’s psyche that the Divine Spirit is experienced and lived out - proportionate to one’s healing processes.

 

Resource Person : Rev. Fr. Dr. Dudley Mendonca, SJ, Maryland University, USA

(Former Director of Sadhana Institute, Lonavla, Pune).

Date : 26 -30 September 2015 (9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m.)

Course fee : `Rs. 2500 (Board and lodge) for residentials; Rs. 1500 for day scholars

Venue : Dhyana Ashram, 25 Mada Church Road, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu

Tel: 044-2493 4414 / 2495 2210

Please contact:

Coordinator: Spirituality & Dialogue Commission, Fr. M. Devadhas, SJ

E-mail: devadhasm@gmail.com, Mobile: 94875 80952


 

19 Aug 2015 - 08:06

National workshop on Peace and Harmony

INDIA: Delhi -

 

The Department of Tribal Studies (Centre for Research, Training and Action for Socio-Economic Development and Human Rights) organized a two-day Workshop on Peace and Harmony for the state representatives of the project Social Healing through Holistic Development at the Indian Social Institute on 29-30 June. Thirty-four representatives from eight states who have been associated with the project and Indian Social Institute for the last several years participated in the workshop. The objectives of the workshop were: (1) to learn from the experiences of the past three phases of the project; (2) to understand the importance of peace and harmony in schools and villages in the challenging multi socio-cultural, religious and caste and ethnic context, (3) to prepare a complete programme for the 4th phase of the project, and (4) to promote and strengthen co-operation between different states in the target area. As a way forward, the next phase of the project aims to prepare 5,000 student and youth leaders for peace and harmony through 320 Peace and Harmony Match in 8 states.

 

Courtesy: Jesuits Around the World 

Vol. XIX, No. 13 July 23, 2015

 


26 Jul 2015 - 20:33

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