Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 14 • APR 07 - 13, 2018

01 Cover

posted Apr 5, 2018, 10:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 6, 2018, 12:19 AM ]

03 Index

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:58 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 10:02 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:55 AM ]

05 Editorial - Live Life Lovingly

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 6, 2018, 12:20 AM ]

Love’ is an often overused, misused, misunderstood word, which has, somehow, turned intrinsic to our daily conversations – ranging from the marvellous to the mundane – not necessarily in its true meaning, but often as an exaggeration of something we appreciate or like, be it persons or things.

If only we truly understood what love encompasses, we would realise that it is not just another word. Love has the power to transform perceptions, attitudes, behaviour; it transcends age, gender, and even species! Yes, love is powerful indeed.

The Christian concept of love is defined by God’s love for us which is the highest and the purest form. When this love is reciprocal – loving God through one another and all of Creation – we manifest God’s presence in the world.

In Matthew 22: 37-40, one learns this about life’s purpose. “And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

Today, more than ever, we need to heed Jesus’ words. In a world increasingly governed by greed and selfishness, by individualism and power, by the culture of death, there is the very real absence of love. We are in the Season of Easter, and having been made aware of Christ’s love – He laid down His very life for us – we must be open to the understanding that love is altruistic. When we love like this, we are able to embrace everyone, and that includes those who are marginalised, different, even the unlovable and the enemy. What good is it if we love only those who will love us in return? Even the ungodly do as much! Love, then, is the cornerstone of our existence.

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of India on passive euthanasia poses a challenge to this Christian understanding of love, which must necessarily include care and compassion for the ailing and elderly persons at the end of life. Those in favour of passive euthanasia claim that the decision to remove life-support systems or to "pull the plug" for terminally ill patients is morally justifiable, on the grounds that it is a caring and compassionate choice, and also a fundamental right. The taking of life is never a moral act. Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person, which includes nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth and basic medication, cannot be legitimately interrupted. For Christ’s followers, suffering has significant value: each one of us, in our suffering, can become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ – a suffering that had its roots in love. This means that we do not terminate life to terminate suffering. Rather, we must lovingly accompany the journey of those who suffer.

When we love like this, we begin to see God in all things, and not only those like us. Our love will extend to all of Creation and all that God has provided in our common home. We embrace life not just for ourselves, but for all – from the moment life is conceived till its natural end.

St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 13:1-7), has given us this time-tested understanding: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

We were brought into being by God’s love for us. When we accept and share His all-encompassing love, we are vibrantly alive, and will, in turn, nurture all life with love.

Barthol Barretto, Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay & Ecclesiastical Advisor, Diocesan Human Life Committee

06 Catholic Teaching on Euthanasia - Bishop Gerald John Mathias

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:40 AM ]

On March 9, 2018, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Kumar Misra passed a ruling legalising passive euthanasia and sanctioning living wills. This ruling will have serious repercussions and adverse impacts on the poor and vulnerable in India. Euthanasia is not just a legal issue, but primarily a moral issue. Often, the judiciary and legislature do not take into account the morality of an action that is under consideration, but legislate or rule purely on the basis of utilitarian principles and human considerations e.g. Laws on abortion, same-sex unions, euthanasia, etc. The Supreme Court has not legalised active euthanasia, but only passive euthanasia. But we must look into the moral aspect of this important Supreme Court judgment legalising passive euthanasia, and see what our moral obligations are as taught by the Magisterium of the Church.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its Declaration on Euthanasia defines Euthanasia as "an action or an omission which of itself or by intention causes death, in order that all suffering may in this way be eliminated."

Active euthanasia involves the direct killing of a terminally ill patient by administering some lethal drug or injection. Passive euthanasia, on the other hand, is when the patient is allowed to die by the withdrawal of all medical treatment, even normal food and water. The end result in both active and passive euthanasia is the same – death of the patient. This intended death is morally culpable, whether it is achieved by commission or omission.

The Vatican document quoted above states firmly that "nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a foetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for the act of killing, either for himself or herself, or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action. For it is a question of violation of the divine law, an offence against the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity."


07 ENABLE THE DISABLED with the Power of Love - Ninette Lobo

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:39 AM ]

The disability rights sector recently suffered a loss with the demise of activist Javed Abidi. All his life, Abidi, a wheelchair-bound differently-abled individual himself, had championed for provisions to ensure equitable accessibility and employment for the disabled community in the country. His efforts had been instrumental in the enactment of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Bill in 2016.

In a country of 1.32 million, approximately 2.6 crore individuals suffer from some kind of disability. This accounts for 2.2% of the country's population, of which approximately 58% are males and the remaining female (Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, n.d.) These statistics make one wonder why a country with a population this huge, has only a handful of names like Abidi's who are concerned about the rights of the differently abled.

But if lessons were to be taken from the Holy Bible, each one of us has the ability to make the world a better place for the differently abled population. We need not be activists, just active human beings who can operationalise Christianity's message of 'loving thy neighbour'.

Christianity, through the Holy Book, conveys the Creator's messages on showing love, respect, sacrifice and selfless service to all of God's children. The Bible shares the Lord's views on treating fellow brethren fairly and equally, without exploitation. Leviticus admonishes us, "Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the Lord." (Pryor, 2015)

Matthew 15:29-31 tells us about the divine assistance the Lord gave to His subjects. The Bible exhorts that we should offer selfless service in its own right, without expectations of being repaid. We should take inspiration to be of assistance to those with disabilities, who therefore are unable to assist themselves.

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then He went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to Him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at His feet; and He healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking; the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. (Pryor, 2015)


10 TRUE LOVE conquers all - Dr Jeanette Pinto

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:36 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:37 AM ]

Rita was the fifth child born in the Peters household; five other children came after her. With pro-life parents and a total of six brothers and three sisters, Rita soon found herself apprenticed at well-known confectioners. There, Rita met John Ferns, one of her fellow apprentices; their friendship grew to love, and when she was twenty-one, they were married.

The most beautiful form of love on earth is the love between man and woman, in which two people give of themselves to each other forever. All human love is an image of divine love. Love is the inmost being of the Triune God. In God, there is a continual exchange and perpetual self-giving. Through the overflowing of divine love, we participate in the eternal love of God. The more a person loves, the more he resembles God. Love should not only influence the whole life of a person, but it is realised with particular depth and symbolism, when a man and woman love one another in marriage and become "one flesh." (Gen 2:24)

Over time, Rita and John opened their own little confectionery shop. They had five children of their own, and amidst life's struggles, they clung to each other living a chaste love. Why should any married couple live a chaste love? Because it defends itself against all the internal and external forces that might destroy it. That person is chaste who has consciously accepted his sexuality and integrated well into his personality. Chastity and continence is not the same thing. Someone who has an active sex life in marriage must be chaste, too. A person acts chastely when his bodily activity is the expression of dependable, faithful love.

Chastity must not be confused with prudishness. A person who lives chastely is not the plaything of his lusts, but rather lives his sexuality deliberately, motivated by love. The Catholic Church advocates a holistic-ecological approach to sexuality. This includes sexual pleasure, which is something good and beautiful, personal love and fruitfulness, which means openness to having children. It is the understanding of the Catholic Church that these three aspects of sexuality belong together.


12 Shocking Truths about DIVINE MERCY! - Josephine Fernandes

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:35 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:35 AM ]

In the year 1996, as I stepped out of St Mary's Church, Dubai, I was handed a picture of Jesus; someone was distributing these two-fold booklets. It was the first time that I had seen this particular image of Jesus—the two rays (red and a pale one) emerged from the heart of Jesus. Later, as I went through the details in the booklet, I learned that this was the Divine Mercy image of Jesus which St Faustina was asked to paint, as stated in her diary. I was very much impressed with all that was written about this image and the many graces that were attached to those who believed in the Divine Mercy, and venerate this image of Jesus. It was the greatest refuge for sinners, it said, no matter how great or hardened the sinner was. The Divine Mercy novena was also published in the two-fold booklet. Until then, the feast of the Divine Mercy was not officially established.

My interest was greatly aroused in this image of the Divine Mercy and all that was written about it. I soon started praying the Divine Mercy Novena, and greatly desired to know more about it. To my great surprise, within a short time, I was gifted the diary of St Faustina - 'Divine Mercy in my soul'. This was the greatest treat for me, as I greatly desired to know more about God's Mercy. As I read this diary, cover to cover, I discovered many shocking truths about God's Mercy, which many of us may not be aware of. I was overwhelmed by all that Jesus spoke to Faustina about His Mercy.

I will share just a few of the shocking truths, as there are too many in her diary to be accommodated here. "My heart overflows with great mercy for souls, especially for poor sinners. If only they could understand that I am the best of Fathers to them. I desire to bestow my graces upon souls, but they do not want to accept them. They have time for everything, but they have no time to come to me for graces." (367) Through these words, I could sense a pleading tone of Jesus. Jesus wants to pour out His many graces upon us, but we are so engrossed with the things of this world, that we have no time to go to Jesus to receive these graces. Here, I could sense the same tone of Jesus when He laments over Jerusalem, "How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing." (Mt 23:37) The Jewish stiff-necked people were not willing to accept Jesus, when He first came to them, but now He has come to us once again through His Divine Mercy as a merciful Saviour, and now He's lamenting over us, pleading with us to come back to Him, and we are also turning a deaf ear to His merciful call.


14 How silence helps the flow of Divine Mercy - Janina Gomes

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:33 AM ]

All the noise in the world and within our troubled selves does not allow the free flow of divine mercy that flows naturally like the river or comes down like the soft snow and rain. The moment people say something we do not like or make hurtful remarks, we want to retort back and give tit for tat. Sometimes, I find that maintaining a peaceful silence can prevent us from saying what will bring a chain reaction, when we cannot improve upon our silence.

For those who are obsessed with what others do and say, keeping the mind still is a problem. Divine Mercy opens doors for us into the beyond. We experience God as merciful when we are not driven by the need to be vindictive and revengeful. Almost like a compulsion, people trade insults and mire others and themselves deeper into a situation where nobody wins.

In the past, we had a more fearful image of God as someone who will extract the last pound of flesh. For some, it is as if God were an ogre waiting to punish us, and keeping a list of the wrong we did in our lives. Jesus' coming changed all that. He was kind and compassionate unto death, even death on a Cross.

The open doors of heaven are symbolic of a reality in our lives. When, like in our Eastern tradition, we allow things to flow, the bad moments pass away. We find we are simply accepted as we are. We do not need alibis for our goodness. The very fact that God accepts us removes all pressure to make it to heaven.

Rituals help, but only if we interiorise them. We could go on preaching and sermonising, as if we know the answers to everything. God looks straight into our beings and our hearts. He is a just judge, but allows His mercy to flow freely into us, when we have not built impenetrable walls of division and hatred.

Love, unconditional love, is God's signature tune. Otherwise, few would have made it through the narrow gate. The way to perdition is wide, but at every opportunity God gives us a second chance. We can choose again, we can change direction, we can grow in surrender and grow in grace.

Mercy is nothing but the grace of God. For those who cannot switch off when it is necessary to, getting caught up in a kind of volley of revenge, leading to further revenge, seems the way many live their lives. Mercy comes through grace, God's grace. Just walking into a church where the doors of mercy are open is not meant to be a mechanical or magical exercise. It requires a change of disposition and a change of heart.


15 ACCOMPANYING LIFE: New responsibilities in a technological age - Dr Pascoal Carvalho

posted Apr 5, 2018, 9:31 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 9:32 AM ]

We must always, anyway and anywhere be pro-life," Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President, Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV), stated, while presenting the first general assembly of the renewed PAV. The members of PAV include a mix of clergy and laity, and also featuring a number of non-Catholics, including other Christians, followers of other religions, and non-believers.

The Pontifical Academy for Life held at the Vatican in October 2017 its first general assembly after Pope Francis' overhaul of its membership, emphasising its intention to broaden the meaning of the term "life" to include the complete arc of human existence, as well as topics such as the environment, technology and immigration.

"It is obvious that being 'pro-life' means, even for the Academy, to rethink the semantic value of the term life, which cannot be reduced to a perspective that is uniquely bio-ethical," said the Italian Archbishop Paglia.

Keeping with tradition, during the General Assembly, the Academy hosted a Congress, called 'Accompanying Life: New responsibilities in a technological age', on accompanying human life in the digital era, particularly with regard to the medical field. Stressing the connection between human life and technology, the Academy takes up and enlarges the theme originally announced, re-entering it into the contemporary cultural context, within which the present ethical challenges and the Christian proposals which the Catholic Church continuously safeguards and proclaims should be included. PAV explored both the benefits and limits of new technology, and what those mean for the Church and the world today.

Pope Francis, whilst receiving the participants in audience, emphasised that it is urgent to intensify the study and exchange views on the effects of such evolution of society in a technological sense to articulate an anthropological synthesis able to face this epochal challenge.


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