18 Notes & Comments

posted Mar 1, 2018, 7:16 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 1, 2018, 7:16 PM ]

Raise awareness on the Rights of girls and women

Virginia Saldanha

The Annual Economic Survey presented by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India said that the country has 21 million unwanted girls and 63 million "never born". It can be said Indian parents "prefer a male child." Despite the ban, tests for determining the sex of the unborn child are still prevalent. Every year, two million girls "disappear" through abortion, diseases and malnutrition.

"Right now, in every way, the woman is viewed as second class, and therefore devalued. If we want to reverse the trend of preference for the male child and aborting, neglecting or abandoning the girl child, we need to do a lot of work on changing our attitudes towards girls/women. We have to examine the cultural and traditional practices that devalue and do violence to the girl child; to demolish all the myths surrounding the girl child which spell doom for the female foetus/infant/child; to train our girls to grow up to be confident and self-reliant," said Saldanha, former secretary at the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Women's Desk.

"Why is a boy child preferred to a girl child?" she asked. The reasons given were: the boy looks after the parents in their old age, the boy carries on the family name, boys do their parents proud by their success and achievements, girls need a dowry. Though many of the reasons might have been true in the past, reality today has proved differently, but the discrimination continues, according to Saldanha.

"We have many instances when girls return home to care for their parents, or do a breathless relay between their marital home and their natal home to nurse sick parents. Girls are doing as well (and sometimes better) than boys are, in their careers. Yet, the belief that boys are more valuable than girls continues," she said.


Focus on the beauty of faith


The newspapers are full of the death of Billy Graham, the American evangelist. His transformative message, preached to millions of people around the globe for over 75 years, was a profound yet simple one: that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and Our Lord, and we need to hand over our lives to Him. On hearing him, millions did just that. A humble man, he did indeed, as Kipling puts it in his famous poem, "walk with kings" (including an enduring friendship with Elizabeth II), without losing "the common touch."

I have been thinking of Billy Graham, having recently read To Light a Fire on the Earth by Bishop Robert Barron in conversation with the journalist John L. Allen Jr (Image Books). The book's sub-title is Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age. When Graham started out as an eloquent Christian preacher in the post-War period, the western world was not as secular as today. Barron is very conscious of the fact that he is proclaiming the Gospel to a post-Christian audience.

As he makes it clear, his task is also different from the great Catholic TV communicator of the 1950s and 1960s: the late Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. Describing Sheen as "arguably one of the best natural preachers the Church in America ever produced," Barron is well aware that times have changed, and that for educated Westerners, "Religion is backward, benighted, superstitious and dangerous, because of the primitive hatred and prejudices it unleashes."


Have we forgotten Syria?


The war in Syria is by no means over. The Assad regime is dealing with the last remaining rebel enclave near Damascus, Eastern Ghouta. This enclave, with a population of over 300,000 people, is slowly being reduced by starvation and indiscriminate bombing.

These were the same methods used to reduce other rebel-held territories such as Eastern Aleppo. The outlook for people in Eastern Ghouta does not look good. But even though Mr Assad may win the war in Eastern Ghouta, it is unlikely that he will ever be able to re-assert full control over the whole of Syria, given the fact that his army, even with his foreign allies, is simply not big enough to do so.

The truth is that Mr Assad is still in power, thanks to two things. The first is the failure of the West to intervene decisively against him. The second thing that has helped him is the military assistance from Russia, Hizbollah and Iran. If these allies were to desert him, he would not last long.

At the close of last year, Iran seemed to be on the brink of revolution, a real revolution which would have undone the one that overthrew the Shah. The widespread protests, which now seem to have stopped, were sparked by economic discontent and the rise in the cost of basic foodstuff—a familiar phenomenon in the history of revolutions. The people were also protesting about the way the regime was spending lots of money propping up Assad, and interfering in Yemen and Lebanon, while not looking after its own people.


ESV-CE Bible - St Michael Church, Mahim responds…

Sandra Lobo

His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, after releasing the English Standard Version Catholic Edition of the Bible (ESV-CE) during the 30th Plenary Assembly of the CCBI, at Bangalore on February 4, 2018, stated: "The ESV-CE will be of valuable help to the people of our country and the biblical apostolate. It is the Indian Church's contribution to the universal Church."

In response to a circular by Bishop J. Susaimanickam, the Chairman of the CCBI Commission for the Bible, requesting the rectors of formation houses to replace all existing Bible translations with the ESV-CE, the Bible Cell of our parish, in coordination with our Parish Priest Fr Simon Borges and the Clergy team, made available copies of the ESV-CE to our parishioners at a discounted rate of Rs 200/- (the original rate is Rs 350/-) on Sunday, February 25. A Bible Exhibition was also organised in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Bible Committee; our parishioners were informed about What, Who, When, Where and Why the Bible was written. Fr Walter D'Souza, Director of the Archdiocesan Bible Committee, through an inspiring session further helped our parishioners embark on a 'Journey through the Word of God'. As we grow from children to adults, we need to upgrade ourselves from the 'milk stage' of reading simplified texts like that of the 'Good News' (meant for children) to the 'meat stage' of reading richer texts like the 'RSV' (text closer to the original Hebrew text), the latest being the 'English Standard Version'. He went on to explain with examples that everything that the Church has done has its base in the Word of God. We need to discover the truth ourselves through regular committed Bible Study. Fr Walter concluded with the emphatic statement that the Bible has many human authors, yet it has one divine author: The Holy Spirit. 'All Scripture is inspired by God.' (2Tim 3:16)