Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 19 • MAY 12 - 18, 2018

01 Cover

posted May 9, 2018, 11:43 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:44 AM ]

03 Index

posted May 9, 2018, 11:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:41 AM ]

04 Engagements

posted May 9, 2018, 11:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:40 AM ]

05 Editorial - Ascension - A new Presence

posted May 9, 2018, 11:33 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:34 AM ]

An authentic scripture-based understanding of Ascension warrants that we should never speak of Easter as Jesus coming back from the dead. This is not because we do not believe in the Resurrection, but because the word 'back' would convey that Jesus returned once again to His earthly life, and not to the reality of His going forward to a new glorious life – a new Creation.

This is not just a trivial play with words, but fundamental to our understanding of the Resurrection, and therefore of our own salvation in Christ. The first point to remember is that Jesus' risen life is not the same as the pre-Resurrection life, what Saint Paul calls the life we now live in the flesh. The appearances of the risen Christ to His disciples indicate that there is something different about Jesus. Unrecognisable and then recognisable. 'None of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord' (John 21:12).

He still had on His body the marks of His Passion – the holes in His hands, His feet, His side. That is the second point to remember: Jesus' Resurrection does not undo His crucifixion; it completes it. This is part of why we shouldn't say He came back to life, as if the Resurrection wiped away the crucifixion. This is especially important for us, because we have to realise that resurrection lies on the other side of crucifixion for us also: only when we nail to the cross our vanities, our follies and our wickedness will we enter into the life of the risen Christ. Only when we can say, "I have died with Christ, buried my sins in the tomb, and now it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me" will we have gone forward into the new Creation that Christ has inaugurated for us and for the whole cosmos.

Such a relisation helps us to understand the significance of the Ascension. It is a celebration of Jesus' presence with us, not His disappearance. Of course, this is precisely what the Gospel tells us: "I am with you always, to the end of the age.” He is with us in our minds, with us in our hearts. He is with us in spirit, indeed. But in the Spirit, and that means not 'rather than in the body.' Far from being less real, less bodily than when He was with His disciples in Galilee and in Jerusalem, His presence with us now is more real and more bodily.

There is something mysterious about the risen body – it seems to be eminently tangible, and yet can pass through locked doors. How He is present is for the time being, a mystery and we only have some clues. One of these, is the Eucharist, for here Christ is truly, bodily, really present at every Mass, in every tabernacle. Another is what Saint Paul tells us, explaining His other form of presence, which is the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ – "the fullness of Him who fills all in all."

This means that wherever the Church is present, preaching the Gospel as He commanded, bringing the love and mercy of God shown to us on the Cross, into the darkness of people's lives, there indeed Christ is to be found. We are members of that body, that authentic, powerful presence of Christ, when we leave behind our sins and move forward into new life. In the gift of the Eucharist, we have a foretaste of the fullness of the Resurrection life, when we turn from our sins and back to God, and allow the life of Christ to make itself felt in and through our loving presence in the world.

Fr Richard Ounsworth a scripture scholar at Blackfriars, Oxford.

06 “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32) Fake news & journalism for peace - Pope Francis

posted May 9, 2018, 11:28 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:28 AM ]

The following is the Vatican-provided text of the Holy Father’s message for the 52nd World Communications Day. This year, World Communications Day will be celebrated on May 13, the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord: 

Communication is part of God's plan for us and an essential way to experience fellowship. Made in the image and likeness of our Creator, we are able to express and share all that is true, good, and beautiful. We are able to describe our own experiences and the world around us, and thus to create historical memory and the understanding of events. But when we yield to our own pride and selfishness, we can also distort the way we use our ability to communicate. This can be seen from the earliest times, in the biblical stories of Cain and Abel and the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen 4:4-16; 11:1-9). The capacity to twist the truth is symptomatic of our condition, both as individuals and communities. On the other hand, when we are faithful to God's plan, communication becomes an effective expression of our responsible search for truth and our pursuit of goodness.

In today's fast-changing world of communications and digital systems, we are witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as "fake news". This calls for reflection, which is why I have decided to return in this World Communications Day Message to the issue of truth, which was raised time and time again by my predecessors, beginning with Pope Paul VI, whose 1972 Message took as its theme: "Social Communications at the Service of Truth". In this way, I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news and to rediscovering the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth. 

1. What is "fake" about fake news?

The term "fake news" has been the object of great discussion and debate. In general, it refers to the spreading of disinformation online or in the traditional media. It has to do with false information based on non-existent or distorted data meant to deceive and manipulate the reader. Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests.

The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to its ability to mimic real news, to seem plausible. Secondly, this false but believable news is "captious", inasmuch as it grasps people's attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration. The ability to spread such fake news often relies on a manipulative use of the social networks and the way they function. Untrue stories can spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage.


08 A call to Communicate Hope and Trust - Msgr Pedro C Quitorio

posted May 9, 2018, 11:24 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:24 AM ]

In His message for World Communications Day last year,Pope Francis said,"when Jesus ascended into heaven, He entrusted His Church with the great and dignified responsibility of spreading His Word - the good news and making it accessible to everyone."In addition to signalling the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus' Ascension reminds us of the beginning of the Church's mission and the assistance of His Spirit, 'who gives strength to announce the Good News in the world communicating Hope and Trust.'

In the face of a fast-changing media landscape that is characterised by the proliferation of fake news, massive and indiscriminate social media utilisation, and the tabloidisation of news. Less and less consumers are buying into the traditional media mill. Similarly the proclamation of the Gospel and the spreading of Good News are painfully undergoing a 'legitimacy crisis.'

It is in the context of the growing trend in fake news, the Pope's communication message emphasises a pastoral direction that is substantially innovative – constructive communication of positive news. The Pope's 'constructive forms of communication',unlike the current reportage that mainly hovers around negative and conflict-based stories, aims to gain a more comprehensive portrayal of the issues at hand and gives more context to news stories in order to help media consumers create a realistic view of the world.

Deeper than constructive journalism is the mind-set that is, at heart, good news. The Pope says: "I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never glamorise evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time story line that are, at heart, "good news."


09 It can’t be the first of April every day! - Fr. Nigel Barrett

posted May 9, 2018, 11:23 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:23 AM ]

(Fake News and How to Spot It)

"Oh, my gosh! Is this really true?"
"This is unbelievable!"
"Did he (or she) really say this?"

These thoughts may have crossed your mind when reading a certain article or post, or on coming across certain pictures or while watching videos on social media platforms, or even at times, on mainline news portals. We are shocked, disturbed and confused. We really don't know what to believe! Could it be real? Or could it be fake?

Fake news has been in existence for a very long time, and has always been clothed with the garment of pseudo-authenticity with an underlying agenda. With the advent of the digital age and social media, fake news has taken on a life of its own, as it spreads even more rapidly. This is why the ability to expose a fake is so very essential today.

So, what is 'Fake News'? Fake news has rapidly become a catch-all term to discredit all kinds of stories. It can be defined as those news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes. Sometimes, these stories may be propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or may be designed as "click bait" written for economic incentives (the writer profits from the number of people who click on the story). In recent years, fake news stories have proliferated via social media, in part because they are so easily and quickly shared online, and because, somewhere along the line, it has been forwarded by someone you know and trust.

How, then, do we decipher what is true and what is false, and arrest the spread of fake news?

First, let us situate ourselves: India, as a country, has participated and contributed to the digital revolution in a very big way. More and more people are connected via their smartphones, and the digital revolution has swept through both urban and rural areas – the length and breadth of our country. Standing at the crossroads as we face the future, we seem to be leaving democracy behind. It would be pertinent to list here the four pillars of the democratic state: the Judiciary, Executive, Legislature and Media, where media ensures transparency in the working of the first three.

Media has the power to make us aware of various social, political and economic activities around us. It is expected to be the mirror which shows us the bare truth and harsh realities of life. Unfortunately, media seems to have abandoned this role.


11 God in a Giga-Byte: Are we guilty of Phone Worship? - Eddy D'Sa

posted May 9, 2018, 11:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:21 AM ]

I remember the day I got my first smartphone. Upgrading from a "dumb phone," I was dazzled. Crisp and clear pictures. E-mail and calendar in one place. Ready access to Twitter, Facebook, and any search engine I wanted. In the words of the ad, I could now "move at the speed of instantly." But as months went by, I realised my smartphone was not a neutral tool that would leave my life unaffected. My days started to change, sometimes drastically. It began with the e-mail. I started checking it almost obsessively. Wake up, turn over, and check e-mail. Get coffee, check e-mail. Then came social media. I could now post pictures directly to Facebook. Yet, rarely did I consider whether my 300 "friends" needed to see my weekend adventures. Twitter became my news source. My thoughts started to fragment into smaller and smaller pieces. Oddly enough, even though I now held in my hand the key to unparalleled productivity, at the end of the workday, I felt a new level of exhaustion. It got so out-of-hand that I finally turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of a print newspaper. It was life-changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins. I was just less anxious and less addicted. And I'm embarrassed about how much free time I had — I managed to read half a dozen books, took up a hobby, and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father.

We have spent much of the past few years discovering that the digitisation of news is ruining how we collectively process information. Technology allows us to burrow into echo chambers, exacerbating misinformation and polarisation and softening up society for propaganda. With artificial intelligence making audio and video as easy to fake as text, we're entering a hall-of-mirrors dystopia, what some are calling an "information apocalypse." The sociality of digital media is of visibility without touchability. We erect transparent glass chambers and post updates of what remains unseen. And we're all looking to the government and to Facebook for a fix. But don't you and I also have a part to play? Most of all, I realised my personal role as a consumer of news in our broken digital news environment.

Lev Everson, ex-CEO of Twitter says: "Today's media is broken and social media is the most broken, manipulative, aggressive, disinformative, non-user selective, disruptive and addictive, and a worse health risk than obesity for kids and young adults. For those of you who are ecology-conscious and environment-concerned, it would be pertinent to note research findings by McMaster University, Canada which state: "If trends continue, ICT will account for 14% of the worldwide carbon footprint by 2020." For every action of yours on that little gadget, there are networks and data-centres making it happen, and they consume a lot of energy to make that happen. The Journal of Cleaner Production: "The most damaging devices to the environment are smartphones. 85% of their emission impact comes from their production; they have a short life which drives further production of "newer" models and an extraordinary amount of waste." Disconcerting?


13 Retreat for the differently abled - Fr. George Kannathanam

posted May 9, 2018, 11:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:19 AM ]

For the first time ever, a family retreat was organised for the families of the differently abled in Bangalore to provide them internal strength in dealing with their life situations and to create a network of support systems among them. 62 persons (who came from fifteen families) spent two days sharing their life with families with a similar predicament, supported by 25 volunteers. 35 of them were children with disabilities and their siblings.

On April 28 and 29, the Engage Disability network, in partnership with the Archdiocesan Commission for the Differently Abled, conducted a family retreat at Paalana Bhavana, the Bangalore Archdiocese's Pastoral Centre. Engage Disability is a national movement to strengthen the Christian response to disability.

The Bangalore Engage Disability hub comprising of Good Sam Foundation, proVISION ASIA, World Vision, CMAI, AIM India, Project Vision and United Theological College partnered together to bring families on a common platform to give them a time of respite and care. Volunteers from East Parade Malayalam Church and St Patrick's Church helped care for persons with disabilities, while their parents and siblings had a wonderful time to relax and enjoy the company of fellow people with disabilities.

The theme for the retreat was 'Arise and Shine', encouraging the families to take their light and shine into the world. Various sessions were conducted to encourage and walk alongside people touched by disability. On the final day, we celebrated the holy Mass with Fr Arokiaswamy.

Sessions by eminent persons threw light on how the families can cope with their challenging life situations. The group discussions focused on how they could mutually support one another in their life journey.

According to Mr David from Good Samaritan group, "All of us went out feeling different about ourselves from when we came in." The family retreat created a sense of belongingness, and that they are not alone.

Mr Mathew, one of the resource persons, said, "The heroic life stories of the differently abled persons has touched me. I thank God for learning new lessons of life through them."


14 Music Review

posted May 9, 2018, 11:15 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 9, 2018, 11:15 AM ]

'Ann' outstanding jazzy night in Bandra

For Jazz lovers, it was a special treat to hear the internationally acclaimed Jazz Artiste from America, Ann Hampton Callaway. The Multi-Platinum songwriter and actress had a radiant glow and smile on her face that set up a mesmerising evening for delightful audiences who enjoyed a jazzy night of songs and laughter till the end of the show. Ann, along with her Jazz ensemble, performed live on April 19, 2018 at the newly renovated Sheila G. Raheja (Rang Mandir) auditorium in Bandra.

Introducing the line-up for the evening was the ever popular model-cum-actor and Bandra Boy, Denzil Smith. The Jazz Ensemble, comprising of internationally renowned Ted Rosenthal on piano, Gianluca Liberatore on upright acoustic bass and Aron Nyiro on drums started off with an instrumental melody which set the rhythm of the night.

Stepping on stage in a shimmering black outfit, Ann made many heads turn during her opening act of the evening, as she sang 'From This Moment On'.

From then onwards, there was no turning back for her, as she smoothly set off with jazz melodies like 'I'm too White to Sing the Blues Blues' from the album 'Blues In The Night'. A little bit of 'Tenderly' filled the air with her version from the Sarah Vaughan Project, while 'A Night in Tunisia' pepped up the evening with a Brazilian mix of tunes.


1-10 of 15