Category: India

Priests Must Recover The “Lost Mysticism”

In a exclusive interview with AsiaNews, Archbishop Menamparampil explained: “When I speak of a mystic, I am not necessarily referring to a person who withdraws from the field of action, but one who moves into the thick of events to assist and save, to suggest and guide, to inspire and lead, to suffer and, if need be, lay down his or her life. In challenging times, we need, not pedestrian pragmatics who think ready-made solutions will spring from their ideological formulae like from a magician’s hat, but heroes and heroines who stir human hearts, hold out ideals, and hitch their wagons even beyond the stars. We need priests of this caliber. It is this kind of mystics that will give hope to those who seem to have lost all hope. Their contemplative starting points are often the slums, the hovels of the poor, places where the young are at risk, and conflict zones.” And speaking about India, where a reflection about the Year for Priests proclaimed by Benedict XVI is under way, he gave an example: “Amazingly, mystics transcend cultures and sectarian belief systems as Mother Teresa did. They quickly discover the common ground with people of other beliefs and try to build on it. They have an unexplainable ability to come on the wavelength of persons who are different. There is an inbuilt sense of self-confidence in them that enables them to reach out to those who differ from them most. They have developed their power of intuition that opens out new vistas to them. Could our priests be men of this category, deeply rooted in prayer but ready to confront the storms of life along with the rest of humanity? If they are, they will be needed in our country and in every other part of the world.” In India, he continued, “we are rightly anxious about the widening gap between the rich and poor. But any strategy that I would suggest to address this problem would be inclusive, fostering a sense of mutual belonging and interdependence. Any form of justice that I would propose would insist on being humane, concerned for the other, committed to the common good, with a holistic understanding of human and historic processes. Millions have died at the hands of people who wanted to make the ‘world flat’ by force.” Msgr. Menamparampil reminded: “Our Church is multicultural and multiethnic;” it “mirrors the Church Universal […] We may have in Guwahati people from 40 ethnic groups in the church on a festive occasion, and they interact as members of one family. This sort of relationship itself is a form of evangelization. When a human group as diverse as ours meets regularly on a Sunday and plans things together for the betterment of society, people can see that there is a faith-and-love-bond among the members.” Indeed, “people are more open than we often think. […] Cultural doors are opened only through cultural approaches, personal doors through personal approaches; not through cold, legal, dogmatic, and excessively

Leading The World In Women Religious

In Asia, India recorded an increase of 9,398 Women Religious during 2002-2007 while Vietnam added 2,545 more nuns. South Korea and the Philippines increased by about 500. Three Kerala-based congregations and Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were among those showing an upward trend in worldwide scenario.  Upward trend was noticed all across Africa: Tanzania and the Congo increased by around 1,500 while Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya and Angola added 500 to 800 more nuns. The Middle East and the Caribbean also have added more nuns. Women Religious have increased in 99 nations since 2000, according to the analysis. Unfortunately, their gains are not yet quite enough to offset the 4.6% decline among Women Religious worldwide during 2002-2007. Most losers are the Western nations. For example, Italy had 11,156 less nuns during 2002-2007. The United States came second, losing 10,454 nuns during the period. All together, there are about 750,000 Women Religious serving around the world, or approximately one nun for every 9,000 people. 

Violence Is A Wake-Up Call For Church

Attacks against Christians in several states, especially Orissa in eastern India, have prompted Indian bishops to establish a special committee to review “our evangelization methods,” the prelate noted in his biennial report to the CBCI’s 29th plenary. As many as 163 bishops from India’s 164 dioceses were present at the plenary that has chosen Youth for Peace and Harmony as its main theme. Some 40 Catholic youths also attended the event along with secretaries of CBCI commissions and centers. Archbishop Fernandes’ report asserted the “wanton” and “sacrilegious” attacks on Christians and their institutions were premeditated. “Even more villainous was the malicious damage” to human relations “with a systematic campaign” that tried to divide communities, he said. Added to this were the “apathy” to and “certain complicity” of local governments in anti-Christian violence, especially in Orissa, that encouraged the attackers, the prelate noted. However, the archbishop also highlighted some positive outcomes from the violence. He said Christians in India rallied behind their persecuted brethren offering material and psychological help. The archbishop saluted the victims who opted to die rather than give up their faith. He also commended people of other religions who defended Christians’ right to practice their faith in peace and freedom. Soon after the attacks, Church agencies rallied behind Orissa’s Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese to rescue and rehabilitate victims, the prelate said. The special committee, set up in the wake of the attacks, would study various challenges facing the Church in the country and advise the CBCI secretary general on appropriate actions. The Church in India found some relief from this gloom when the Vatican recognized Sister Alphonsa, “a nun unknown during life but acclaimed after death,” as India’s first female saint in 2008, the report said. Another recent milestone was the Indian Mission Congress in October 2009 where some 1,300 delegates from India’s various dioceses attended. In recent times, CBCI also undertook an exercise to reorganize its structure to accommodate India’s three ritual Churches that have separate episcopal conferences. Archbishop Fernandes explained this was done to avoid duplication of work and frittering away “the precious and limited resources of the Church.”    

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