Issues Vol. 63‎ > ‎

Vol. 63 No. 09 • MAR 02 - 08, 2019

01 Cover

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:49 AM ]

03 Index

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:48 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:48 AM ]

04 Official

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:47 AM ]

06 Engagements

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:44 AM ]

07 Editorial - Cardinal Gracias calls for collegial response to the scourge of sexual abuse

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:36 AM ]

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay called for the “entire Church” to “act decisively to prevent abuse from occurring in the future, and to do whatever possible to foster healing for victims.” He said the way to address the crisis must involve the “regional, national, local-diocesan, and even parochial levels,” where all must work together to create binding measures and decisions. Cardinal Gracias addressed the Summit of Presidents of National Bishops Conferences on February 22 at the Vatican.

“No bishop should say to himself, ‘I face these problems and challenges alone,’” Cardinal Gracias underscored, speaking of the concepts of collegiality and synodality. “Because we belong to the college of bishops in union with the Holy Father, we all share accountability and responsibility. Collegiality is an essential context for addressing wounds of abuse inflicted on victims, and on the Church at large.”

Cardinal Gracias cited a passage from Lumen Gentium - Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which teaches that individual bishops are “obliged by Christ's institution and command to be solicitous for the whole Church.” He also noted that further development of “intercultural competences” and intercultural communication will help with effective decision making.

Cardinal Gracias pointed out that a culture of silence among bishops, unwilling to admit to mistakes and to engage other bishops in open conversation and point out “problematic behaviour” has contributed to the abuse crisis. He encouraged the cultivation of a culture of fraternal correction, where bishops are able to correct each other, without offending the other, while also recognising “criticism from a brother as an opportunity to better fulfil our tasks.”

He also called for better communication between bishops' conferences and Rome. “We can always only take responsibility for something insofar as we are allowed to do so, and the more responsibility we are granted, the better we can serve our own flock,” he said.

Cardinal Gracias highlighted three main themes for his brother bishops to reflect on: justice, healing and pilgrimage.

“The sexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable people not only breaks divine and ecclesiastical law, it is also public criminal behaviour,” he said. Although the Church is not an agent of the state, he said, the Church recognises the legitimate authority of civil law and the state, and cooperates with civil authorities to bring justice to survivors. This is only possible if bishops and local Churches can work together to build an appropriate relationship with the state.

Healing for victims requires “clear, transparent, and consistent communication” from the Church as well, Gracias said, beginning with “a respectful outreach and an honest acknowledgement of their pain and hurt.” “Although this would seem to be obvious, it has not always been communicated,” he said. “Ignoring or minimising what victims have experienced only exacerbates their pain and delays their healing. Within a collegial Church, we can summon each other to attentiveness and cospassion that enable us to make this outreach and acknowledgement.”

Once the hurt has been acknowledged, the Church can offer to help victims heal with the help of “professional counselling to support groups of peers” or other means, and can then implement measures to prevent abuse in the future. “Our Holy Father has wisely and correctly said that abuse is a human problem. It is not, of course, limited to the Church. In fact, it is a pervasive and sad reality across all sectors of life. Out of this particularly challenging moment in the life of the Church, we – again in a collegial context – can draw on and develop resources which can be of great service to a larger world.”

Finally, the cardinal reflected on the pilgrim nature of the Church, noting that “we know that we have not yet arrived at our destination,” and “we are a community that is called to continuous repentance and continuous discernment.” “We must repent – and do so together, collegially – because, along the way, we have failed. We need to seek pardon. We must also be in a process of continuous discernment. In other words, together or collegially, we need to watch, wait, observe, and discover the direction that God is giving us in the circumstances of our lives,” said Cardinal Gracias.

Catholic News Agency

08 Balance for Better - March 8 is International Women's Day. - Sr Ananda Amritmahal, rscj

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:34 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:34 AM ]

I googled the term 'Gender Balance' and found an unbelievable 36,400,000 entries! Needless to say, I didn't look through all of them, but even a cursory glance at some of the titles seemed to indicate a growing awareness of the urgent need for gender balance, and a growing conviction that such a balanced perspective in every area of human activity would in fact contribute to heightened effectivity, better performance, a healthier and more sustainable environment, and greater justice and peace at all levels. To quote Michelle Obama, "No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens."

That women bring in a different perspective is undeniable. This has been shown time and again, when women have been allowed to participate in the making of public policy. Village panchayats show a clear shift in priorities when there is a majority of women in the group, or when the sarpanch is a woman. Access to clean water, healthcare and education received greater emphasis in such villages, than more commercial enterprises. Women's perspective on preserving the environment, too, is one that recognises the integral connectedness of all life, and seeks to preserve a balance between use and conservation of our finite natural resources.

The Grameen Bank movement started by Muhammad Yunus in the late 1970s caught the attention of the world, since it focused on empowering village women through small loans to enable them to set up small entrepreneurial enterprises. It was particularly indicative that this movement, as also the micro-finance initiatives undertaken by banks, found that women made more reliable creditors than men; the small-scale businesses frequently proved to be profitable, and the loans were usually faithfully repaid. Even when the women defaulted, the money was more likely to have been spent on the nurture and upkeep of family, especially children, than on anti-social activities like drinking, gambling etc.

A spate of films like 'Bend It Like Beckham', 'Chak de India' and 'Dangal' turned the spotlight on women in the sports world. Representation of women in the sports world, institutional and governmental support of their activities, and adequate coverage of their performance in the media are all on the increase (witness the 2016 Olympics when the only two medals won by Indians were claimed by women athletes!), but there is still a long way to go.


09 RENEWING the Sacrament of Penance - Bishop Bosco Penha

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:33 AM ]

This article is a complement to the one which I wrote in The Examiner at the beginning of Advent 2018 on Confession. It is on the same theme, highlighting the historical background of the Sacrament of Penance, and its implications for a renewal of the sacrament.

It is quite common to hear people say that they get nothing out of confession, and today, there is no doubt that the number of confessions has considerably declined – which, to me, seems to be a pity. Has the Sacrament of Penance failed us? Or has it perhaps never been tried? Have we honestly done our best when we received this sacrament, or has it been one of the many "formalities" in our lives? If one attends a college course without really studying at all, it is no wonder that one ends the course almost as ignorant as when one began it (degrees nowadays are hardly a guarantee of knowledge acquired). If one rushes through Europe in twenty-one days ("ten countries in 21 days" as the advertisements go) without any preparation or any reading in advance on the history and landmarks of these countries, it is not surprising that all one comes back with, is a whirl of sights and sounds, but little real knowledge of these countries. So also with the Sacrament of Penance; one may have gone to a hundred confessions, but was even one of them satisfactorily made? It is high time that we really and seriously assess our approach to this beautiful and powerful sacrament, because, otherwise, we are missing out on a big source of power and peace in our lives.

A Glance at History

Only naïve children would believe that the magician who recites "abracadabra" over a piece of paper and produces chocolates, really brings forth those delicious edibles from that ordinary paper. Every effect must be proportionate to its cause. So chocolates can only come from the right blend of cocoa, milk, nuts, etc. But in the Sacrament of Penance, this "abracadabra" mentality is pretty widespread. In this case, the magical words are the "recitation of my sins, according to their exact species and number." Whether love, power, strength can come from such a mere recitation of words is a question that hardly ever crosses our minds. How has this attitude come about?


11 Yeh Dil Maange Less - Fr Austin Norris

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:31 AM ]

Yeh Dil maange more…" We grew up on this slogan, and we were taught to seek more, and become more. Surprisingly, even as Christians, we swallowed this—hook, line and sinker. And we hardly batted an eyelid, when we were confronted with the Gospel value of "If any one wants to come with me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mt 16:24).

Lent helps to refocus our attention on "Less is More." The whole "green movement" is a step in the right direction, and the concept of the smaller carbon-footprint is a truth worth thinking about and actively practising. I was quite struck by the sharing of an OLCM team member at one of our Parish Council Training sessions, when he confessed that "he was happy with five sets of clothing, and no more." The matter-of-factness with which he said that impressed me, that simple living is indeed possible.

This possibility is achievable, when one is converted to, and convinced of, the adage that "less is more". The subliminal message of the Gospels, that runs through the ministry and personal lifestyle of Jesus Christ, stands out as a benchmark of this revolution. From being born in a stable to being a refugee in Egypt; from being an itinerant rabbi to "having no place to lay his head"; from fasting and praying for forty days and nights to going without food; from accepting help on his way of the Cross to being buried in a borrowed grave – all points to the freedom that one can be and become, with the barest minimum in life.

The fundamental choice, based on Jesus' faith and trust in the Father God, is what makes the difference. There are examples galore of those who lived by the "less is more" principle. Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind immediately. His dhoti as a preferred form of clothing stands as a testament of his inner freedom and commitment to the 'harijan' – the poor of God.

St Mother Teresa of Kolkata conjures up an image of the blue-bordered white saree as a symbol of poverty and commitment to the poorest of the poor. An MC nun's possessions include: three saris (one to wear, one to wash, one to mend), a pair of sandals, flour sack underclothes (used to be), a crucifix and rosary… They never wear anything but sandals on their feet.


12 The Grain of 'RICE' that yielded a rich Harvest - Christopher Mendonca

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:30 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:30 AM ]

A tribute and farewell to the Christian Brothers’ Community at Dadar

In an age where the speed of travel is measured in nano-seconds across the internet highway, one yearns for the relief that milestones provide, even if for a second. At a time when institutions tend to fossilize themselves into buildings that create a nostalgia for times gone by, Divine Providence sometimes steps in to create an oasis in the vast desert of technological progress which is slowly eroding our sense of the humane. In a subtle way, "The Golden Years" – a celebration of 50 years of the Christian Brothers in Dadar — proved to be a reminder that celebrations must always be about people who have touched your lives; that the worth of an institution is to be measured not so much by its architecture that speaks of an age gone by, but by the living stones that transform it into a Temple of Learning.

The choice dish on the menu for the Farewell Dinner was Steak. One was spoiled for choice, as it was served Rare, Medium and Well Done, all rolled into one. It is indeed Rare to eschew glamour, to stay away from trying to let the present bask in glory by photo-shopping its past image. It is a happy Medium that is able to balance the rubrics of the ritual and propriety, with the spontaneity and genuineness that comes straight from the heart. It is a job Well Done, when one is able to leave with one's heart touched to the core, a sense of belonging. One goes away with a feeling of satisfaction that amidst the changes that descend upon us, there is an enduring presence. We experience not discrete events, but rather perceive ourselves as part of an ongoing continuum shaped by the values that transcend time and place.

All this was effectively showcased, as the Christian Brothers who had, at some time or other, been part of the Salvation School Community, together with the teachers and ex-teachers, collectively wrestled with what their "leaving a familiar shore" might mean. The sharing of insights and experiences overflowed into a farewell celebration on Sunday, February 17. It was an evening of shared values. Very different from recalling rituals that often define an institution, this was a stepping back into the stream to let ourselves be refreshed. 1967/68 marked a defining moment in the history of the Christian Brothers in India. Beginning with Bombay on the West Coast of India, they would henceforth leave the security of their prestigious institutions, and choose to exercise their mission with the poorest of the poor. Salvation School would be the flagship of this enterprise. We were taken back in history to the raison d'ệtre of the Parish School, started by (then) Fr George Fernandes for the poor boys of the parish. This dream had begun to realise itself in a sort of marathon; 26 years had gone by and there were many false starts, ups and downs. Just when all seemed exhausted, ready only to prod along wearily, the Christian Brothers came in, and provided a much needed second wind. It was to change the face of Dadar irretrievably. Blessed Edmund Rice, their founder, would only smile in approval.


14 The 'Pope Francis Effect' on Jesuits' Priorities - Fr (Dr) John Rose, SJ

posted Feb 28, 2019, 10:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 28, 2019, 10:28 AM ]

The visit of Arturo Marcelino Sosa Abascal, SJ, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to Mumbai, Vasai and Talasari from March 2-5, 2019 will highlight four priorities that he wants Jesuits to take up. The four were confirmed by Pope Francis, and they constitute Universal Apostolic Priorities (UAPs) that Jesuits will commit themselves to over the next ten years. Pope Francis was glad that the UAPs, a ten-page document, were the result of a journey of "dynamic discernment", and not made in a "library or laboratory", and "are in harmony with the present priorities of the Church, as expressed through the ordinary Magisterium of the Pope, of the synods and of the episcopal conferences, above all since 'Evangelium Gaudium,' - the programmatic document for his pontificate published in November 2013."

The Four UAPs are: 1. Promoting Discernment though the use of the Spiritual Exercises; 2. Walking with the Excluded; 3. Journeying with Youth; 4. Caring for the Common Home, the Universe. Each of the world's 15,536 Jesuits, each Jesuit Community spread around in 120 countries, as well as their colleagues in the Mission, are asked to discern how to implement these priorities in their respective areas of work. Each Jesuit Province and Conference of Provincials will implement these preferences in concrete and practical terms. The comments and tweets on Internet confirm that the UAPs are the direct result of the 'Pope Francis effect.'

Responding to these UAPs, the Mumbai Jesuit provincial, Arun D'Souza, SJ, says,"The UAPs are a powerful affirmation of our own Province priorities of 'Fostering Spirituality' and 'Working with the Youth.' The Mumbai Province of the Jesuits is thus energised to make its priorities real through its varied ministries. The UAPs bear the hallmark of the first Jesuit Pope whose desire is to accompany people as they grow into a mature discerning faith, and in the city and districts, we are already engaged in promoting burial in a shroud, using herbal remedies, offering literacy curricula to the children of forced migrants and people in the slums, and conducting MAGIS youth programmes and eco-spirituality retreats. Besides, our institutions have a preferential option for the marginalised and low-income communities. But there is always more we can do, and these priorities call us to prayer and action."

Fr Sosa's Dutch predecessor, Peter Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, in 2003, had prioritised ministries in China and Africa, the intellectual apostolate, the Roman Common Houses and among migrants and refugees, and these had the approval of Pope John Paul II. In Oct. 2016, during the 36th General Congregation, the Jesuits asked Fr Sosa to review the preferences and update their specific content, and to develop plans and programmes that could be evaluated. On Feb. 19, 2019, while releasing the UAPs, the Venezuelan-born Fr Sosa noted that 'the novelty' in the process of coming out with these UAPs was that "it involved all Jesuits worldwide and those working with them in apostolic works, including lay women and men, as well as women and men religious from other congregations who cooperate with us in apostolic works." Fr Sosa emphatically affirms that the UAPs are not just our ideas, but they are a mission given by the Church through Pope Francis to the Society of Jesus.


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