Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 39 • SEP 29 - OCT 05, 2018

01 Cover

posted Sep 26, 2018, 11:05 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 27, 2018, 11:54 PM ]

03 Index

posted Sep 26, 2018, 11:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 11:04 AM ]

04 Official & Engagements

posted Sep 26, 2018, 11:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 11:01 AM ]

05 Editorial - Tourism and Digital Transformation

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:52 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 27, 2018, 11:54 PM ]

World Tourism Day is celebrated every year on September 27. The theme proposed for 2018 - 'Tourism & Digital Transformation' - focuses on the advances made in digital technology that have transformed our era and our behaviour by dramatically changing the way we live. There have been many changes due to the implementation of the new digital technologies which affect people's social life, their way of conceiving interpersonal relationships, work, health, communications, extending their "connection" everywhere. The latest trends show that about 50% of digital travellers are influenced and inspired by observing images and comments online, and that 70% consult videos and opinions of those who have already travelled to places, before deciding.

Therefore, this commemoration invites us to reflect on the contribution of technological progress not only to improve tourist products and services, but also because this progress is part of tourism's sustainable and responsible development, towards which the growth of the sector should be oriented. Digital innovation is therefore aimed at promoting inclusiveness, increasing the engagement of people and local communities and achieving an intelligent and equitable management of resources. The need for "sustainable tourism" should not be underestimated, since a number of well-known and more frequented tourist destinations experience the negative effects of a phenomenon, that runs contrary to a healthy and fair tourism, of so-called "over-tourism".

The Church has always paid particular attention to the pastoral care of tourism, leisure and holidays, as opportunities for recovery, to strengthen family and interpersonal ties, to reinvigorate the spirit, to enjoy the extraordinary beauty of Creation and to grow in our "integral humanity". "Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. (…) The entire material uni­verse speaks of God's love, His boundless affec­tion for us."

The use of digital equipment by the tourism sector's operators and users is a great opportunity to increase quality services that satisfy new demands, but also to educate people on the shared responsibility towards our "common home" in which we live, generating forms of innovation for the functional recovery of waste, recycling and creative reuse that helps protect the environment. If, however, "there is a tendency to believe that every increase in power means an increase of progress itself, an advance in security, usefulness, welfare and vigour; an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture, as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from tech­nological and economic power as such", we run the risk of an incorrect and annihilating use of human dignity itself, with harmful consequences.

In particular, this concerns the production and use of "data", especially personal data, which are generated within the "digital world" and the preponderant role of the algorithms that process the data and produce, in turn, additional data and information, at different levels, also available for those who intend to use it for purely commercial, propaganda or even manipulative purposes and strategies. When technological tools "become omnipresent, they do not favour the development of a capacity to live wisely, to think in depth, to love generously". "That is why the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth. (...) technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency."

A special thought goes out to the younger generations who make up the largest proportion of digital users. In the Instrumentum Laboris being prepared for the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Young People [7], n. 3 discusses how it is necessary to offer them paths for formation and anthropological education, so that they may live their "digital life" without separating online and offline behaviour, nor allowing themselves to be deceived by the virtual world that distorts the perception of reality and the loss of identity connected with an erroneous representation of the person. As Pope Francis reminds us: "It is not enough to be a passerby on the digital highways, simply 'connected'; connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved."

The hope that this Dicastery formulates for all, tourists and vacationers, is "that tourism will contribute to glorifying God, and to increasingly validating human dignity, mutual knowledge, spiritual brotherhood, refreshment of body and soul."

(The above is an extract of the message on the occasion of World Tourism Day.)

Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

06 Embracing Non-Violence - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:49 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:49 AM ]

Let us embrace non-violence in these times of violence! These times in which one has no qualms of conscience in aborting the unborn child or cheering for the death penalty to be given to the 'hardened' criminal; times in which child abuse is rampant, and one normally looks the other side when women are brutalised in the privacy of their homes and in the full glare of society; times in which a simple misunderstanding can lead to a murder or the accidental touch by another vehicle could lead to deadly road rage; times in which war and bloody conflicts are easily justified by those in power who control the destinies of ordinary people.

Let us embrace non-violence as an attitude! The attitude by which one looks at or perceives the 'other'; the attitude which is warm, welcoming and inclusive; the attitude which makes it irrelevant whether the nationality, race, religion, colour, gender, caste, ethnicity, ideology or whatever, is different; the attitude which is non-discriminatory and non-xenophobic; the attitude that we all belong to one human family, and what matters ultimately, is our common and shared humanity.

Let us embrace non-violence as a right! The right of every person everywhere in this world; the rights which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Constitutions of most countries in today's world; the rights of the other—to life, to believe in the religion of one's choice, to freedom of speech and expression; to eat and drink, to read and see what one wishes to—without fear or favour; the rights which are fundamental and inalienable; the denial of them is indeed violence!

Let us embrace non-violence with courage! The courage one needs to stand up against the fascists, the fanatics and the fundamentalists of today; the courage to take on the killers of Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmick, Narendra Dabholkar, M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, of other media persons, RTI activists, and human rights defenders; the courage to take on the molesters of the lady students in the Banaras Hindu University and those who suppress the voices of students elsewhere; the courage to expose the Sangh Parivar, and those who violently kill and crush others, be it those who eat beef or innocent children in the hospitals of UP. Mahatma Gandhi puts it succinctly, "Non-violence is not to be used ever as the shield of the coward. It is the weapon of the brave."


07 St Francis of Assisi: Prayer as a loving dialogue with God - Fr Michael Baptist Fernandes

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:45 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:45 AM ]

Praying has not been easy for anyone. And yet, the different Religions ask their followers to pray, and the New Testament continuously reminds us to pray unceasingly. Our Lord Himself taught us the 'Our Father', and all the generations of Christians before us have left behind thousands of prayer formulas valid and effective even today. We don't have to recite the prayers without praying them. St Francis of Assisi expressed that one needs to become what one prays. St Francis accepted prayer as the mysterious and placed at the deepest centre of his being. But he did experience difficulties to understand prayer and to pray meaningfully in communion with the Father in Heaven. But while reading about the life of St Francis, one can immediately notice that there was a deep desire, need and longing in his heart which was aching like an incurable wound inside him to communicate and dialogue with God.

Today, contemporary man is feeling the burden and disadvantage of the explosion of knowledge and impact of electronic communication, especially the social media. Today, we are suffering from the stress and strain and many other psychosomatic sicknesses, which were unknown to St Francis. Today, there are many TV gurus who speak of "the depth reality" and "inner dimensions" of "deeper level". So the craze and rush all over among men and women is to use the various existing forms of prayer, meditation and contemplation. St Francis felt the need, and his concern for prayer was of tremendous importance in that period in Assisi, Italy. He realised that without prayer and intimate union with the Lord, it was just impossible to be a disciple of the Lord and to proclaim His Word to a society with many emerging serious problems.

Today, the age of technology has drawn us into a torrent, which diverts our progress to interiority and draws us to exteriority. This torrent robs us of time for reflection and prevents us attainment of ourselves, of our very self. Whereas St Francis went along with the torrent of the Gospel and founded his meditation on the Word of God which drew him into interiority and communion with the Lord and the Creation. St Francis was able to lie more spontaneously in the prayer and meditation without having to exert himself, as deliberately as we have to do today. St Francis found inspiration for his prayer life in what he lived every day. He sought solitary places where he could converse with God more intimately. Wishing to find himself close to God, Francis would go into deserted churches, such as San Damiano, where he prayed so earnestly before the well-known Crucifix. And his personal prayer became so much part of him that, as Thomas Celano tells us, his whole life became prayer. Events, situations, people and Nature brought him ever close to God. "Whether he was walking or sitting, at home or abroad, whether he was working or resting, he was so fervently devoted to prayer that he seemed to have dedicated to it, not only his heart and soul, but all his efforts and his time."


08 You too will grow old! - Eddy D'Sa

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:44 AM ]

Yes, in spite of all the aches, pains and slowing down; "growing old" is still the better option as compared to the alternative! The motivational speakers all tell us that "age is just a number; it's all in the mind. It's all a question of mind over matter." But what they fail to realise is that very often, the matter has a mind of its own ! Let's be pragmatic; most of us are nowhere near those awesome beings, men and women who run around climbing Mount Everest in their nineties, and run marathons and sky dive when past a hundred years. Let's just look at the more mundane picture of stressful hardships faced daily by the elderly. Despite the arrival of a new generation of elderly people, old age is still accompanied by a series of hardships and anxieties, some of which are minor but disturbing, and some of which are very significant. Unfortunately, these are problems that the younger generation finds difficult to understand.

Let's begin with the seemingly "small stuff". Technical problems at home. Late in the evening, an elderly widow sits in her apartment in Bandra, and reads. It begins to grow dark outside, and the woman gets up to turn on the light. Nothing happens; It is not clear to her whether the problem is a general breakdown across her area, or in her apartment itself, and in the meantime, it's getting darker. The woman, who is inexperienced in such situations, calls up the electricity company only to be told that "there are no reports of blackouts in your area." The woman is in distress; what will she do now? Will the next-door neighbour be able to leave her home for a few minutes to help? Maybe she should call her daughter in Toronto or her son in Seattle? But what could he do? She recalls that the same son had previously referred her to another call centre which deals with electrical malfunctions. She gropes her way through the dark, and in the dim light, reads the phone number. A courteous agent answers her call, and politely ends the conversation: "Please wait patiently; we will do our best to help you." That's it. Now she has nothing left to do, but sit and wait. There's no light, no radio, no television, nothing to do until a "saviour" comes. A similar scenario can also occur as a result of other problems, such as a leaky faucet, a broken refrigerator, and so on.

Loss of balance. He usually feels safe while walking. He maintains proper posture, doesn't walk too fast, is careful near wet areas. However, surprisingly, he fell in his home; when he walked to his refrigerator, he suddenly slipped, but luckily, his hand was able to reach the back of the chair nearest him. At his age though, his hands aren't as strong as they once were; so he suddenly finds himself lying flat on the floor. 'How do I get up?' he asks himself, and immediately replies, 'Alone.'

A slight flu. He is overcome by a nagging weakness that doesn't go away even after two days, but "it happens from time to time at my age," he thinks. Then he feels his temperature rising, so he sits down with a dirty old thermometer in his mouth, and keeps time. Since he can't remember how long he needs to wait, and he isn't sure if he should wait for a beep, he decides to wait five minutes, then another five minutes. Then he takes the thermometer out of his mouth, puts on his glasses and looks at the number displayed. "A hundred point four degrees," he reads to himself. "Should I see a doctor? Should I take something to reduce the fever?" In the absence of medical advice or a person who takes his complaints seriously, he decides to go to sleep. "Maybe by morning, it'll pass ..."


10 Our Guardian Angels - Josephine Fernandes

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:42 AM ]

Angel of God, my guardian dear; to whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen!' We were all taught the 'Guardian angel prayer' from the time we were little children, and since then, it has become a prayer very dear to most of us. As children, we must have faithfully recited this prayer daily before going to bed, irrespective of whether we believed or not in angels, or even about having a guardian angel. But as adults, or even as young adults, we need to question certain truths about our faith, and one of these is about the presence of angels. Are angels truly present among us? Does each one of us have an angel to guard us? And the answer to this is certainly 'yes'; otherwise, Jesus would not have spoken of angels protecting us. Jesus said, "Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven." (Mt 18:10) Our scripture speaks much about the presence of angels and their role throughout the history of salvation. The CCC says about angels, 'The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of tradition." (CCC 328) We cannot call ourselves Catholic, if we do not believe in angels.

Our guardian angel is constantly seeking the face of God on our behalf. What a privilege God has blessed us with! But very often, we forget that we have a personal angel, and that he is there beside us to protect us from all evil. As we grow up, we forget about our dear guardian angel, and the Church in all her wisdom has marked a day on the Liturgical calendar to celebrate the feast of Guardian Angels. This is a reminder to us all, that each one of us has a guardian angel, as we need to pray to our guardian angel. How is the angel's form? We really don't know this, even though artists may use all their skill to depict an angel, but we will not know their form, unless we become like angels and see them when we go to heaven. The artists always depict angels with wings; they are shown as strong and able-bodied men with wings; in some pictures, we see them as little babies with wings. All we know about angels is that these are pure spirits, and hence they are in heaven, praising and worshipping God continually, and serving God by protecting us here on earth. 'As purely spiritual creatures, angels have intelligence and will; they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendour of their glory bears witness.' (CCC 330)


11 Redefining “Old Age” - Dr. Mrs. Elaine Ann Charles

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:40 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:41 AM ]

The process of ageing and of growing old is but an inevitable part of the cycle of life. The pace and manner in which it occurs varies from person to person, and is influenced largely by genetic factors, one's constitution, past life experiences and one's attitude to life and living, but it is inescapable. It is not age-related, and one person may be physically fit and mentally alert at 85, while another may be immobile and declining mentally, at 75.

Western literature arbitrarily defines 'old age' as people above the age of 65, because that is the age at which people normally retire in the western world. Some further subdivide old age into 'Young Old' (65 to 74),'Old' (75 to 84 years) and 'Old Old' (85+ years). But they are now beginning to think that even at 65+, many people today are still active, alert and healthy, and refuse to accept that they are old, and hence the subdivisions need to change, with perhaps 70 years being the starting point for determining old age. With advances in science and technology, longevity has increased, and people today are living longer life spans.

However, one thing is now very evident, and that is that the entire concept of "old age" has undergone a radical change and is being redefined today. We considered our parents old at 70, and today at 75+, we still consider ourselves considerably young. In fact, most older people say that they do not feel their age. I recently heard of a 97-year-old man going on a travel tour, and a 99-year-old lady daring to fly to Toronto to visit her daughter. They just do not consider themselves too old to travel. Today, mental alertness too continues to remain remarkably high. Queen Elizabeth of England (92), Mahathir Mohamad, PM of Malaysia (92) and Pope Francisco (81) are but a few of many such remarkable examples.

In the past, as soon as people retired from their jobs, they considered themselves ready to lead a quiet, retired life, and were quite content to live that way. Today, life begins at 60 for most people. Retirement brings with it a new-found freedom to do the things one always wanted to do, but could not do earlier, and a new phase of life begins. Age is no longer a barrier to do most things, and often, the fun and excitement begins at 60.

Geriatric psychiatrist Dr Marc Agronin, author of The End of Old Age and Living a more Purposeful and Productive Life contends that "it is time we stop looking at old age as a dreaded condition to which we must reluctantly submit, or a fearsome force we continually try to outrun or deny and use, instead a lifetime of accumulated skills and wisdom to make our own ageing better." He believes that older adults possess creativity, resilience and wisdom that can help them manoeuvre the challenges of ageing and use them to great advantage.

Dr Agronin is of the belief that as we grow older, we all encounter what are called 'Age Points' in our lives. It is a time when our initial ability to understand and cope with a situation is temporarily disrupted, because our previous life experiences have not yet taught us how to face or process it. An age point may begin with a crisis in the family, a financial trauma, the breakdown of a relationship, a sudden illness, the death of one's spouse, or even retirement. We feel momentarily paralysed and stunned, are uncertain what to do and how to regain our balance. But each time we resolve an age point, the experience turns us into more developed and capable ageing adults.


14 Notes & Comments

posted Sep 26, 2018, 10:37 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 26, 2018, 10:38 AM ]

Keep Pope out of petty politics: Malawi bishops

Malawi's bishops have urged the country's politicians to keep Pope Francis out of "petty politics".

The Sept. 13 statement from the bishops' conference came after Hophmally Makande, an official of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said those urging 79-year-old President Peter Mutharika to resign should also ask Pope Francis, who is 81, to step down.

In their statement, the bishops said: "We call upon all political leaders, those governing and those in the opposition, to desist from dragging the name of the Holy Father into petty party politics. The attack on the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is an attack on the whole Church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic."

Nearly 20 per cent of the southern African country's population is Catholic, the largest single religious group.

Senior officials of the ruling party failed to immediately condemn the statement, but a young party operative, Leonard Chibanga, chastised Makande on his Facebook page.

"As someone born Catholic, and his family is still Catholic, I find these remarks horrifying, stupid, uncalled for. I am surprised no one condemned him right there and then, considering that there were Catholics in attendance at the same podium," he wrote.

"Religion is a line you don't cross, regardless of how desperate you want to seek to appease the appointing authority…If you want to resuscitate your career, find other means, but this one is a no-go zone," he said.


Pope honours victims of Nazis, communists


Pope Francis paid homage to both the victims of the holocaust in Lithuania and those persecuted during the country's Soviet occupation, condemning the "spiritual sickness" of forgetting the lessons from the past.

"In this place of remembrance, Lord, we pray that your cry may keep us alert," Pope Francis said in the square before the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights in Vilnius, where not that long ago echoed the cries of the Lithuanian partisan being tortured by USSR officials.

"May that cry encourage us to not succumb to the fashions of the day, to simplistic slogans, or to efforts to diminish or take away from any person the dignity you have given them," he said.

Pope Francis was visiting Lithuania as one of the three stops in his pastoral visit to the Baltic States Sep. 22-25. The museum in Vilnius was once a KGB headquarters under the Soviet occupation of Lithuania (1944 - 1991). Today, it hosts a vast collection of items and papers documenting the suffering and trials undergone by those who opposed the totalitarian regime.

"Lithuanians and those from other nations paid in their own flesh the price of the thirst for absolute power on the part of those who sought complete domination," the Pope said.

"That your cry, Lord, may free us from the spiritual sickness that remains a constant temptation for us as a people: forgetfulness of the experiences and sufferings of those who have gone before us," he said. "Lord, grant that we may not be deaf to the plea of all those who cry out to heaven in our own day."

In the square, packed with a crowd of people attending the event, Pope Francis prayed that Lithuania may become "a beacon of hope" in the fight against injustice and an example of how to reconcile and harmonise diversity.


Revising Catholic education policy in India

Agenzia Fides

The Catholic Church in India is reviewing and updating its 'Teaching Policy', elaborated in its guidelines in 2007, in order to offer an increasingly better qualified service and an ever-increasing commitment in the field of education in the country, considered a precious instrument of evangelization: said Salesian Fr Joseph Manipadam, National Secretary of the CBCI Office for Education and Culture.

"We have reached the goal that we set ourselves ten years ago in the All India Catholic Education Policy 2007, and we are taking care of the revision and updating of the Catholic education policy. The 'All India Catholic Education Policy 2007' was drawn up very carefully, after many studies, reflections and discussions, in order to balance the guidelines of Catholic education with the Indian cultural, social and religious context.

"After drawing up the general guidelines, sufficient measures have been adopted to ensure their dissemination, so that Catholic educational institutions implement them in a systematic and coherent manner. In the last three years, the Indian Church has begun a study, evaluation and certification on the implementation of the guidelines, drawing up a graphic analysis of the results achieved in all the fourteen regions of India.


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