Issues Vol. 63‎ > ‎

Vol. 63 No. 07 • FEB 16 - 22, 2019

01 Cover

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:27 AM ]

03 Index

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:27 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:27 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:25 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:44 PM ]

05 Editorial - All Eyes on the Summit

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:24 AM ]

From February 21 to 24, 2019, Catholic and secular media will have their eyes pinned on Rome, as Presidents from Episcopal Conferences around the world gather in the Vatican to collectively confront the most pressing problem facing the Catholic Church today – the scandal of clerical sexual abuse. The summit will gather together some 180 officials, including the heads of bishops' conferences, members of Vatican departments, members of religious orders, and victims themselves. The summit is being seen as a high stakes event for Pope Francis' pontificate.

On November 23 of last year, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Oswald Gracias – who also serves on the C9 Council of Cardinal advisors – would be one of the organisers of the summit. Cardinal Oswald Gracias is the only non-Western member of the Organising Committee. He, along with Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and German Jesuit Fr Hans Zollner have put in the spadework to prepare for the summit, and it will largely fall on them to ensure that the Holy Father's objectives for this worldwide meeting are met. Cardinal Gracias' selection on the Organising Committee demonstrates the faith the Holy Father reposes in him. He is well-renowned as one of the foremost canonical experts and his contribution to the summit will be invaluable.

Aboard the Papal plane returning from Panama, where he presided over the World Youth Day, Pope Francis said that his expectations for the summit were threefold: to offer a "catechesis" to bishops' conferences that would make the "drama of children who've been abused" comprehensible, to teach bishops how to respond when facing an allegation of abuse by a member of the clergy, and to hopefully set up guidelines or "protocols" on how Church leaders should handle abuse cases. He has however warned that there should not be "exaggerated" expectations from the summit, since a single meeting will not eradicate the problem of abuse permanently. "This is a human problem that is everywhere. If we resolve the issue within the Church, we may be able to help solve it in society, in families. But firstly, we need to become conscious of it, have the protocols, and move forward," he said.

Cardinal Gracias has himself taken the protection of minors very seriously in the Archdiocese of Bombay. The Child Protection Policy has been implemented in the Archdiocese since July 16, 2015. The policy has been implemented in all schools under the patronage of the Archdiocesan Board of Education. In clergy meetings, His Eminence has firmly stated a zero-tolerance policy regarding child abuse in all parishes and Church-run institutions. As President of India's bishops' conference, Cardinal Gracias has helped formulate guidelines at the national level for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults.

At the international level, though, the meeting is expected to be contentious. For one, many Bishops see this as a primarily Western problem, and hence are opposed to Rome coming out with universal guidelines which will apply to all Local Churches. Divisions among Church leaders were apparent during October's Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome, with many prelates from Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Italy resisting efforts to publicly proclaim a commitment to "zero tolerance." Secondly, many survivors of abuse and activists critical of the Vatican's pace of reforms, have said that this is the Vatican's "last chance" to be taken seriously. They are expecting the summit to result in concrete guidelines for Church leaders who deal with abuse cases. They are also looking forward to a clear accountability policy for bishops and a culture of transparency within the Church in dealing with sexual abuse cases.

It is important to remember that the Church has been working relentlessly to eradicate this crisis for the last 16 years, especially since the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Stringent reforms and swift action have ensured that in many countries, the Church is now one of the safest places for young people. It has gone further than any other institution to ensure those mistakes can never be repeated. Still, the Vatican wants to weed out the problem from its roots. Cardinal Gracias has said that the Committee is "committed to achieving specific outcomes from this meeting that reflect the mind of Pope Francis. It cannot be cosmetic." (with inputs from Crux)

Fr Joshan Rodrigues is on the Editorial board of The Examiner.

06 Never Again: The Legacy of Clerical Sex Abuse - Austin Ivereigh & Kathryn Lopez

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:23 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:23 AM ]

The sexual abuse of minors by priests in the 1970s-80s, the silence of Church authorities at the time, and the fallout since — in terms of disparaging media coverage and endless lawsuits — add up to one of the greatest crises in Church history, a scandal that never seems to be over. Not only are there thousands of survivors of abuse who have been left shattered, but ordinary Catholics, including the clergy, who are left shaking their heads at the avalanche of clerical scandals that have swept away the moral ground from under the feet of the Catholic Church.

Media focus has been intense, incessant and unforgiving. Many Catholics feel that the Church has been singled out in ways that amount to a kind of persecution, and they point to the distortions and myths that the coverage has created. On the other hand, the relentless focus is understandable. Given the Western media's overzealous sympathy for victims and the desire to hold institutions accountable, clerical sex abuse was never going to be given an easy ride. It is an unconscious tribute to the Church that it would be held to a higher standard. The media's coverage of the clergy sex abuse crisis can be seen, then, as an example of Christian values unconsciously retained by Western Journalism, and being used to judge the Church, which on this issue seems to have forgotten them.

Yet, the coverage has left the world with a distorted picture—that the Catholic priesthood shelters high numbers of abusers, or that the Church is somehow behind the curve of the rest of society on the issue—neither of which is true. The story of the Church's ongoing conversion and transformation, and its remarkable achievements in dealing with this issue have gone largely unreported.


07 Why a celebrity surrogate baby should not be celebrated - Fr Joshan Rodrigues

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:21 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:22 AM ]

Children cannot be ‘manufactured’ using technological breakthroughs.

The Indian media announced to the world a few weeks ago that yet another baby had been born to a celebrity using surrogacy. In this case, the celebrity is not married (and doesn't intend to in the foreseeable future, according to industry tabloids and journals). An online search reveals that a number of Bollywood celebrities have opted for surrogacy in recent times to fulfil their desire for a child. Some of them intend to be single parents to their children by opting not to get married.

So what is 'Surrogacy'?

When a couple wants a baby, but is unable to have a child, because either or both partners are medically unfit to conceive, another woman is chosen to bear their child through a clinical process.

Surrogacy is basically 'renting a womb'. This very simplistic definition is more accurate, because surrogacy today is not just used by married couples as a way to bear children, but also by same-sex couples, single persons, as well as live-in couples.

India was one of the few countries in the world where commercial surrogacy was legal; the surrogate mother could be legally paid for her services. This made India a favourite destination for foreigners from across the world, in whose countries surrogacy was banned or limited to altruistic surrogacy, meaning that only a close relative or friend of the couple could offer to be the surrogate mother, and she could not be 'paid' for doing so. It's ironical that in a country in which one cannot buy and sell human organs, babies can be manufactured for a price.


09 The Throne of Truth - D. D. Emmons

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:20 AM ]

The feast of the Chair of St Peter is held on February 22 each year.

The "chair" symbolises the authority of St Peter and his successors who have served the Church of Jesus Christ as the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). As a matter of fact, in Rome's St Peter's Basilica, there is a chair, enshrined in the sumptuous Altar of the Chair of St Peter by the great architect Bernini, but it is a symbol representing the 2,000-year-old papacy and unity the Pope continues to bring to Catholics around the world. Without such unity, the Church would splinter into numerous sects and divisions.


So, every year on February 22, the Church celebrates the continuing role of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, beginning with St Peter. The use of the term 'chair' in the feast day comes from the Latin term 'cathedra', meaning the seat of government. But how did such a feast day ever get started? We need to go back to the time of Jesus for the answer.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks the Twelve Apostles, "Who do you say that I am?" (16:15). The only response Jesus acknowledged was that of Peter, who said that Jesus was the son of the living God. Jesus in turn said to Peter, "Blessed art you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father" (v. 17). Peter's answer is inspired by God, and from that point, Peter is singled out from among the apostles to be the rock of Christ's Church on earth. According to Jesus, the Church will be so rock solid that "the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it" (v. 18).

Later, following the Resurrection, Jesus confirms Peter's primacy over the other apostles, as well as authority over His Church. He gives Peter the keys to the kingdom, telling him: to "Feed my lambs… Feed my sheep" (see Jn 21:15-17). This authority, this responsibility given to Peter, is meant to be passed on to each of his successors. Jesus did not intend for the Church to end with Peter.


11 Tackling Depression: An Apostolate-in-waiting - Noel D’Silva

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:15 AM ]

Will Somebody Help Me?

A cry that is heard many a time.

She is huddled up, head resting in her cupped hands. Padma is just 25, a successful bank officer. Yet, she seems to have lost hope or whatever. She has all but retreated into herself. In rare moments of sharing, she confesses that she does not understand what is happening to her. Maybe it is the work climate. Maybe it is the fact that her 'boyfriend' has given up on her. Maybe it is the coming and going of a skin ailment that she thinks will ultimately disfigure her. She does admit that 'dark thoughts' do cross her mind.

Can Padma be helped to come out of her depressive moods?

Then there was Desmond. An intelligent, ambitious and well-liked young man he was. He had just finished his B.Sc. with Computer Science as his special subject. However, his doting parents wanted him to join the medical profession. Long and sometimes heated arguments took place. Desmond pleaded with his parents to understand that he was not made to be a medical doctor; the sight of blood would make him puke, and he just could not, would not be a doctor. For some days, Desmond's parents sensed that something radically wrong was taking place in the life of their son. They ran helter-skelter, searching for advice, a counsellor, anyone who could be of help to their son and themselves. And then it happened. They found a note scribbled: "Nobody understood me."

Are there identifiable symptoms of this ailment that is more often than not pushed under the carpet? Some of them can be listed, such as: a loss of self-confidence and self-esteem; a feeling of overwhelming sadness most of the time; negative thoughts about oneself, life and the future; a lack of interest in companionship, and a pervading consciousness of guilt.

It is very important that the symptoms of depression be acknowledged, especially when a near and dear one shows signs of this affliction. It is also imperative that immediate steps be taken to address this life-threatening condition. As a caregiver, one can be more understanding, supportive and caring. One should listen, listen and listen with great empathy, and encourage the sufferer to speak up and share. If, in the course of the sharing, hints come up on suicide, immediately inform a psychiatrist.


13 St Thomas Academy celebrates Fifty Years - Sr Romana Fernandes PSOL

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:14 AM ]

The 50th anniversary celebrations of St Thomas Academy, Goregaon West began on June 27, 2018, with Bishop Agnelo Gracias presiding over a solemn Eucharistic celebration. A PowerPoint presentation highlighted the milestones, as our school walked down memory lane, remembering the great stalwarts—former Managers, Principals, Staff members who tirelessly strove to lift St Thomas Academy to great heights. The founder, late Fr Antonio D'Souza's vision and inspiration led to the setting up of St Thomas Academy. He was ably assisted by Sr Angeline Machado, scc who took great interest to further the goal and make it a reality. The Poor Sisters of Our Lady took over the school in the year 1982, and continue to bring laurels to the school.

The theme for the Golden Jubilee year was Spirited Tireless Achievers. Through the year, the school hosted various competitions at the Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary level, inviting neighbouring schools from Malad, Goregaon and Andheri to showcase their talents and skills in these events.

The month of January 2019 saw the school staging a musical The King and I, bringing the Jubilee celebrations to a close. The two-day performance - with a cast of 415 students, under the capable direction of Mr Joey Mendonca, supported by Nellita Goes, choreographed by Mahesh Gole and Andy, with stage, sound and light effects enhanced by an LED screen under the supervision of Mr John Reegan, an ex-student of the school - was an outstanding success. The Pre-primary and Primary students did marvellously well with a prayer dance, Jubilee song, welcome song and other dances, bringing the total number of participating students to 700. One of the highlights of the programme was the annual School Report, creative and diverse and far from ordinary.

The synopsis of the musical apprised us that learning is truly life! We are educated and can be independent in thought, word and action, deserving of a fulfilling and respectful position in the court and country. On January 29, 2019, the Chief Guest, Bishop Bosco Penha witnessed the musical; he extolled the performance of the students, and stated that it was an apt theme that the school took up—that all education is transformative and learning is life. In his message, he exhorted the students to cultivate moments of silence and prayer, and to have a desire to reach out to the poor and needy. The former Managers, Principals, teachers and support staff were felicitated with flowers and mementos - a gesture of appreciation and recognition for their selfless service. The school magazine was released on this occasion by Bishop Bosco.


14 Notes & Comments

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:11 AM ]

27th World Day of the Sick: Be the Salt of the Earth

Indian Catholic Matters / Asianews

Invoking Saint Teresa of Kolkata, Pope Francis' special envoy to the 27th World Day of the Sick, held this year in Kolkata, Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario of Bangladesh said the purpose of faith was to assuage the sufferings of the sick, poor, the neglected through physical and spiritual nourishment.

Delivering the presidential address on the theme - 'Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give' - at Xavier's College auditorium on Saturday, February 9, Cardinal D'Rozario highlighted the challenges before the Christian community and urged them to show love for the poor and suffering through acts of mercy, which the Saint of Kolkata showed to the world through her loving care.

Quoting Pope Francis, the Cardinal said, "Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defence of human life, of those unborn and those abandoned and discarded…" In his message, Cardinal D'Rozario said the Holy Father recalled the words spoken by Jesus when sending forth His apostles to spread the Gospel, so that His Kingdom might grow through acts of gratuitous love. "You received without payment; give without payment" (Mt 10:8).


4 best tips for engaged couples before the wedding day

Remembering the second Sunday of February as World Marriage Day, there are countless courses preparing young couples for marriage. Yet, in the hustle of marriage planning and organisation, there are also essential elements to remember before saying 'I do.'

Fr Maurizio Botta, from the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri, helps couples realise that while photos and venue may be important, they can never compare to preparing for the adventure of a lifetime with their best friend.


He says many couples who arrive at the altar don't know what they are even doing there. They don't understand the sacrament, or what is required of them for the rest of their life. "So I want the bride and groom to be aware when they hear the various rituals in the liturgy (on the wedding day). I want them to already know what will be said and be supremely aware of it." He goes so far to say if a marriage preparation course is done "properly," couples will naturally drop out, because of the expectations of sacrificial love set on both people.

Find the right course

From online courses and weekend retreats to psychological compatibility quizzes, finding the right course is important. "I believe that every couple should put in a little bit of effort to find where they are thirsty, where they can find nourishment and can be challenged. It can be a book, an audio message or something on the internet, a catechesis. It can be a particular place, like a monastery. But, in my opinion, every couple should have a place of nourishment once a month." Fr Maurizio says the beginning of any vocation, whether it's religious life or marriage, is the most difficult. That's why in his pre-marriage courses, he also continues monthly meetings for the first year of marriage, so that the couples can be reminded of the same truths about love and sacrifice.


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