Category Archives: Catholic Church

TIME mag reporter at Vatican II to speak on the human face of the Council

Mr Robert Blair Kaiser

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) — As immediate preparation for the Year of Faith (11 October 2012 to 24 November 2013) Fr Gaston Roberge of St Xavier’s College and SIGNIS India is coordinating lecture tour of award winning TIME magazine reporter of the Vatican II. The three-week programme has Mr Robert Blair Kaiser present the “Human Face of the Council.”

Kaiser’s first India visit marks 50th anniversary of Vatican II Ecumenical Council and kicks off in Kolkata (15th September) with a felicitation programme at St Xavier’s College. In keeping with the Council’s invitation to be more “open to people of other faiths and religion” Kaiser will address inter-religious groups around Kolkata.

Arriving in Kolkata on 13th September from Phoenix, Arizona, Kaiser is expected to travel to Darjeeling, Guwahati, Shillong, Mumbai, Pune, Krishnagar, and New Delhi till 4th October.

“Mr. Kaiser is perhaps the single person who knows best what the Council was about and what message it heralded to the Church and to the world,” says Fr Roberge stating “there is a need to recreate the church not so much in the spirit of the commandments (to be observed for sure) as in that of the Beatitudes that invite us to go beyond commandments.”

“I think this is a great way to start preparations for the Year of Faith,” wrote Signis India president Sunil Lucas in a letter dated 11 August sent to 12 Signis India regions.

Author of five books on Church and burning issues, 81-year old Kaiser speaks with passion and heartfelt concern. His most recent book is entitled: A Church in Search of Itself: Benedict XVI and the Battle for the Future.

Kaiser’s “The Politics of Sex and Religion,” tells the story of how the people of God, not the pope, changed Church teaching on responsible parenthood. His narrative speaks about the papal birth control commission of the 1960s, and its surprising aftermath. The e-version of the book is available free:


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Kolkata archbishop gets first communion coffee table book

L to R: CM Paul, Abp D'Souza & Fr Tony

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata yesterday (22 April) received a copy of the much talked about book for first communion catechesis at a gathering for Young Christian Students at the archbishops house. Senior-most YCS animator in Kolkata from 1970s Salesian Fr K.K. Antony of Don Bosco School Liluah, presented the book to archbishop.

Brought out by director of Tej Prasarani publications Matunga, Salesian Fr Joaquim Fernandes and his team the book has 120 full colour pages filled with illustrations laced with crisp and racy narration of the life of Jesus for children. The artwork, all original painting for this book has been painted by a Hindu artist Mr Ganesh Sonsurkar while Mr Kevin Jairaj did the intrinsic designing and the layouts.

Entitled JESUS the prince of peace, “the hardcover oversized book is intended to sit on a coffee table or similar surface in an area where the family members sit and guests are entertained,” says Fr. Fernandes.

Though the opening inner page of the book has a dedication to the proud owner of the book (the first communicant), “the book is a sure fire to inspire conversation or alleviating boredom while acting as an occasional catechist,” Fr Fernandes assures.

He added, “any one who loves and cherishes his or her Catholic faith will be proud to own a copy of the book and be inspired by it.”

An Easter 2012 release, the book contains besides the life of Jesus, new revised prayers at Mass, illustration of the parts of the Holy Rosary as well as the four mysteries, with phrase by phrase illustration for the Hail Mary.

Other prayers illustrated in the book include the sign of the cross; Hail, holy Queen; short acts of faith, hope, charity and contrition; as well as a short grace before and after meals.

The daily prayers of angelus or regina caeli follows with detailed question answer description of each of the seven sacraments, with the seven steps to make confession.

Among the section on pious Catholic practices are listed and illustrated all 14 stations of the cross in one single page making it ideal for making a quick way of the cross in your sitting room.

The ten commandments are followed by the five forms of prayer, five precepts of the Church, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, seven corporal works of mercy, seven spiritual works of mercy and the twelve fruits of the holy Spirit and concludes with the eight beatitudes of Jesus.

The song section features 19 most popular Biblical action songs for kids, followed by an overview of the Church year (liturgical calendar) explaining through graphic illustration the liturgical cycle.

The pictorial book concludes with a two page advertisement for two CDs of action songs for children: Power to the children (20 songs) and Walking with Jesus containing 23 action songs for children to play and pray.

The opening pages of the book carry endorsements by the president of the catholic Bishops Conference of India cardinal Oswald Gracious archbishop of Mumbai, chairman of CBCI Office of Social Communications Bishop Chacko Thottumurickal SVD and director of diocesan Catechetical Centre Mumbai Fr Terence Murray.

Plans for other language editions of the book are under study.

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Kolkata Artist Holds Solo Exhibition of Mother Teresa Paintings

Artist Singh & Abp D'Souza with MC Sisters

KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – An artist and long time Mother Teresa associate organized week-long solo exhibition of paintings inspired by the saint of the gutters and Nobel laureate to mark her 101st birth anniversary. The exhibition held at Abanindranath Tagore Gallery of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata started on Blessed Teresa’s beatification anniversary 19 October (2003) and concluded on 24 October. Each evening, city artists like Usha Uthup and others turned up to pay their homage. Sumit Roy who has a collection of some 30 original compositions on Mother Teresa both in English and Bengali languages performed at the gallery each evening.

Kolkata based Ritu Singh documents Mother Teresa’s selfless work for the poorest of the poor through her 45 paintings executed over a period of almost 50 years.

Though the entire exhibition is shraddhanjali for Mother Teresa, one of her paintings has an offering of flowers at Mother’s feet as the saint enters Singh’s home.

Viewers at the gallery are awestruck to see Mother Teresa in a series of 12 paintings depicting the zodiac signs. Singh is quick to tell its significance, “Mother is universal and for all people.”

One of the paintings has Mother Teresa amidst clouds to signify that she is leaving the world and going to heaven.

Another painting Prarthana (prayer) which captures Mother in a meditative mood and wearing a crown of thorns is a symphony in white and grey. Singh explains, “it is symbolic to show that she was surrounded by agony.”

One of the paintings (Come Be My Light) was presented to Pope John Paul II at theVatican on October 19, 2003, on the occasion of Mother’s beatification.

Another painting shows the transformation of Mother Teresa from a stern sister running a school to an ever-smiling mother.

Still another painting depicts a young Mother Teresa taking handloom saris from the Leper Colony in Titagarh, Kolkata. “All the saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity sisters are hand-woven by the inmates of this colony,” says artist Singh.

All paintings are done in mixed media — ink, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and thin oil and make portraits of Mother come with a glaze finish.

As Singh took around Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D’Souza ofCalcuttathrough her paintings that were on display, she talked about her special bond she shared with Mother. “I grew up with Mother right from when I was a nine-year-old. It is a special mother-daughter relationship. Every day in my life with the Mother was like a miracle,” she added.

“My mum would often accompany Mother Teresa to slums and I would be left behind at the Mother House, under the supervision of the sisters. I was always looked upon as Mother’s daughter. As I waited for my own mom to return, I would sketch Mother and the sisters. That’s how I developed a passion for art and later took it up as a profession.”

Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan unveiled Singh’s three panel “Mother’s Inspiration” paintings at MC Mother House, 10 September 2011. Mother Teresa claimed she received the divine call during a train journey toDarjeelingin 1946. Known as the ‘call within a call’, these visions subsequently inspired Mother to quit Loreto Sisters and form Missionaries of Charity.

Singh says explaining the paintings “this is my artistic interpretation – the first painting of the series has Mother standing in a slum with the poor stretching out their hands seeking her help. The second sees her praying as Mary blesses the poor. In the third, Mother is depicted as a child with Mary behind her and Jesus looking down on his children.

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Unfinished Task of Laity in the Church

KANPUR, (C.M. Paul) – Former president of the All India Catholic Union has published a new book on the task of the laity in the Church entitled: AN UNFINISHED SYMPHONY.

“By God’s Grace, my fourth book has just been published by Media House, Delhi(the publishers of Indian Currents). The title is “An Unfinished Symphony”. It is over 300 pages,” says author Chhotebhai of Kanpur.

The book has five parts. The first is futuristic, a vision of what the church and society should be.

The second addresses various Christian concerns, in the light of sacred scripture and Vatican II teachings. Among the topics discussed are – the structure of the church, lay participation, tithing, family planning, divorce, and the dignity of work.

Part three tackles Current Affairs, including Anna Hazare’s movement, the end of the world, burning issues like suicide, homosexuality, adultery and so on. It also debunks the false claims about the origin of the universe by Stephen Hawking, and the cunning lies of “The Da Vinci Code”.

Part four has eulogies of eminent persons; and part five consists of papers presented on evangelisation, education, Parish Councils and Catholic Associations.

It concludes with a kaleidoscopic analysis of the image of Christians inIndia. It is specifically meant for the laity, with special emphasis on the role of the All India Catholic Union and its affiliated Catholic Associations.

The book is available at Media House, 375-A Pocket – 2, Mayur Vihar Phase I, Delhi– 110091. (Email:; Phone Nos 011-43042096; 09971407120).
The cover price is Rs. 270.

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Chief Minister Apologises to Cardinal for Mumbai Cross Demolitions

Cross demolished in Mumbai, 4 March 2011.

MUMBAI – Thousands of Catholics led by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop and President, Catholic Bishops Conference of India prayed at Cross Maidan, and then protested at a rally against the demolition of 3 Crosses, one believed to be in existence since 1936 in Byculla-Mazagaon area of the city. This despite the chief minister and the municipal commissioner giving Christians a 15 day time frame to produce documentation on the crosses.
Cardinal Gracias informed that the Chief Minister had called him and apologised for the acts of desecration, even as yet another Cross was demolished and since notices were pasted on the Crosses themselves. Cardinal said he was hurt, embarrassed and angry at the developments and would meet the state Chief Minister on the issue. He said that such disrespectful behaviour by the municipal corporation was shocking and had given the BMC a bad name internationally, as it was not expected from Mumbai.
Bishop Percival Fernandez said he shared the strong sentiments and concern of the Cardinal at the developments in the metropolis.
“Various state governments are demolishing religious structures, following a Supreme Court directive, which seems giving a communal colour to the demolition drive, with Christians being selectively targetted”, said Joseph Dias, general secretary, The CSF, which organised the protest. He added that there was no political will to deal with the issue and there was a strong possibility of it being a ploy to polarize votes on communal lines before the municipal polls due in a year. He also pointed out that the behaviour of the municipal and police officers, who did not spare women, children and senior citizens, gave the impression that communal Hindutva forces had infiltrated these administrative areas too, besides the bureaucracy.
Joseph Dias said that “the West Bengal government had filed an affidavit that action to remove them may have adverse impact on law and order situation and hurt the religious sentiments of the people. No State government has given any time bound framework to manage the structures. From the affidavits, it appears that none of the state secretaries have taken solid measures to abide by the Supreme Court order.Only states of UP, MP, Assam, Punjab and Gujarat have filed their affidavits.
Further, Delhi had reported at 52 only reported the least of such objectionable religious structures. Sikkim, Mizoram and Nagaland had no such religious structures in public places.”
The CSF called for a policy from the Union and State Governments, after seeking SC clarifications and announced as part of their future plans, an inter-religious rally at Azad Maidan – if the State Government did not act on its demands.

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Controversy: Faith of a Woman with head and heart in the right place

Dr Lesley Anne Knight

ROME –  Two weeks after Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the Caritas Internationalis (CI) president, informed Caritas member charities that Dr Lesley-Anne Knight had been blocked by the Vatican from running for a second term as CI secretary general, Dr Knight delivered an impassioned defence of the Catholic identity of Caritas to a gathering in Edmonton, Canada. Those present included Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton. The speech is a long one – 3,000 words. Here is a summary. Pl click on the link below to read the full text.
But whatever local expressions of devotion form part of the celebration, I know that the heart of the Mass remains the same. Wherever I may be in the world, through the Eucharist, I know that I share in a communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
As Benedict XVI puts it: “I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians.”
The Eucharist also makes me think of the wider symbolism of breaking bread, of sharing food and drink with others. Even when we encounter language difficulties and unfamiliar customs, there is something about sitting down to share a meal or a drink with people that makes us realise we are indeed part of one human family.
I have experienced this many times. And when that food and drink is offered by people living in the favelas of Sao Paulo; in a refugee camp in Darfur; or a flooded village in India; it is always a humbling experience.
Pope Benedict says: “Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn.” But he adds: “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented.”
If we see the world as one human family, how can we bear to see our brothers and sisters suffering? How can we tolerate the fact that one billion of them live in extreme poverty? That 30,000 people die every day from malnutrition and preventable diseases.
I am sometimes asked why, as a Catholic organisation, we deliver aid to people of other faiths, such as Muslims and Buddhists. My answer is that we help people not because they are Catholics, but because we are Catholics. The Church that I believe in is catholic. Our ‘concrete practice of love’, which we also know as caritas or charity, must therefore be ‘all-embracing’.
This was what the Good Samaritan experienced when he saw the injured man lying at the side of the road.
When you have been to places like Darfur and spoken to Muslim women who have seen their husbands killed and then been raped by militiamen; when you have met the survivors of a devastating earthquake in Pakistan; when you have talked to Buddhists in Sri Lanka who lost loved ones in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the country’s bitter civil war; then there can be no question of ignoring the suffering of these people. In the words of Pope Benedict the “heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly.”
I grew up amidst the evil that is racism. I was born in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, and as a little girl I used to wonder why there were no black children at my school. We used to pass them in the car as they walked to their schools and I used to wonder why their schools were so run down and scruffy, why they didn’t have school uniforms, and why they had no shoes on.
Later, when I went to university in Cape Town, I encountered racism in the extreme form of South African apartheid. Everything labelled – entrances, even park benches – for either Blacks or Whites. From the impeccably kept grounds of Cape Town University I could look across the bay to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. I was lucky enough to escape from the oppressive atmosphere of apartheid South Africa, but when I left, Nelson Mandela still had another 15 years to serve in prison.
Experiences like these left a profound impression on me and convinced me that there can be no place for prejudice and discrimination in the Catholic Church that I believe in.
When I went to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake, I was working as International Director of CAFOD, our Caritas member organisation for England and Wales. I was accompanied on the visit by the chairman of our board Bishop John Rawsthorne. After a terrifying journey in the back of a jeep, following a tortuous road up into the mountains, we arrived at the small village where CAFOD was working with Caritas Pakistan, distributing tents and blankets and setting up a clinic. During the visit, Bishop John met the local imam, who found it difficult to comprehend why a Christian bishop should come all the way from England to visit this isolated village. He was nevertheless pleased to see him. And here, amidst the devastation, I witnessed a brief, precious moment of compassion, empathy and solidarity between these two men.
These sort of encounters are repeated over and over again during the course of our work, and I am convinced that each one sows a small seed of peace and understanding in a world that often appears to be under threat from religious fundamentalism and extremism.
Our work in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sudan, Burma and Sri Lanka has to be conducted with great discretion and sensitivity. We can only work in these countries by maintaining the strictest standards of integrity. Pope Benedict explicitly states that charity should never be used as means of proselytism.” (DCE, 31a) “Those who practise charity in the Church’s name will never seek to impose the Church’s faith upon others,” he says. But that does not mean that through our actions we do not witness to God’s love for humanity.
One of my favourite stories on the theme of sharing food originates from the Far East and describes visions of heaven and hell. The vision of hell is of a beautiful marble banqueting hall in which there is a long table laden with delicious food. The inhabitants of hell are seated on both sides of the table and are given chopsticks with which to eat the food. But the chopsticks are a metre long and they are unable to get the food to their mouths.
In the vision of heaven we see exactly the same scene – except that in heaven each person is using their long chopsticks to feed the person on the other side of the table.
Posted by Ms Lesley-Anne Knight, head of Caritas Internationalis, 3 March 2011, 9:00


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Karnataka Bishops to Hold Dharna Feb 18 to voice grievances

Abp Moras addressing Press Confernece, 17 Feb.

BANGALORE – For the first time in the history of Karnataka 18 Bishops of various churches will hold a dharna, 18 Feb, to express grievances of the Christian community and to voice their demands, including a CBI inquiry into attacks on Christian communities and places of worship in Karnatka.
Talking to reporters, 17 Feb, Archbishop of Bangalore and president of Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops’ Council Bernard Moras said the community has rejected the findings of the Justice B K Somasekhara Commission, that probed attacks on churches in parts of Karnataka in 2008.
“We want the state government with all its force at its command to reject the one-sided, totally unjust and biased report and demand that the entire series of attacks must be entrusted to CBI for a comprehensive probe,” he said.
It was surprising even after confirming the attacks, the commission failed to identify the culprits, he said.
“We also demand that over 150 cases lodged against Christian youth and women must be unconditionally withdrawn forthwith and adequate and just compensation or restitution must be done to individuals and institutions that were attacked and subjected to great loss,” he said.
Their demand also included that the culprits in attacks be identified.
Condemning the report, he said despite the fact that the community had served and contributed significantly to the state “our voice is not heard”, he said.
“We demand that we be allowed our constitutional right of being able to practice our religion,” the Bishop said.
They would submit a memorandum to the Governor H R Bhardwaj enlisting their demands after the dharna, he said.
He said he had earlier met Bhardwaj over the issue and he had expressed “sadness” that culprits had not been identified.
The Bishop said he had personally sought an appointment with the Chief Minister which had not been granted.
However, he said he had written a letter to the Chief Minister expressing the community’s feeling on the issue.
Priests, pastors, nuns and community members in Bangalore and surrounding areas would also hold a meeting-cum-protest rally to voice their grievances on February 21.
He also said a statue in a shrine was damaged by unidentified persons in Hennur, 17 Feb. “The culprits should be identified”, he said.

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