Goa, December 01, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) has strongly condemned the adamant attitude of government for refusing to re-schedule the closing date of IFFI which is clashing with the Feast of St. Francis Xavier thus playing with the sentiments of the people. We have faxed letters to the Prime Minister of India, Mr Manmohan Singh and the Chairperson of UPA, Sonia Gandhi stated Juino De Souza, President of GCWU.
We have written stating that it is the bounden duty of every government to protect the religious rights of its people and specially of the minority community that is guaranteed under our constitution and it is regretted that the Minister of Information & Broadcasting, (Smt) Ambika Soni and the Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Digambar Kamat are hurting the religious sentiments of not only the Catholic community but entire goan community by holding the closing ceremony of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) currently underway at Goa on the 3rd December 2011 that is coinciding with the feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of Goa which is a public holiday declared in his memory.
The letter further states that on this day lakhs devotees of all faiths converge at Old Goa to pay their respects, homage and offer prayers and devotion in honour St Francis Xavier. It is therefore a gross violation of religious rights for the government to have IFFI closing ceremony sponsored by the Central government on this holiday with gala dinners and fireworks and is an insult and attack on the religious sentiments of the people who believe in St. Francis Xavier and whose relics are preserved in the BASILICA BOM JESUS for all to venerate.
There is an uproar at Goa with people staging agitations, dharnas and black flag protests during IFFI which is showing the Congress led government in Goa in poor light. The BJP has also addressed the issue calling the Congress party communal.
The people are furious that the Congress government instead of taking responsibility and applying the right correctives are instead giving lame excuses and making incorrect statements by placing blame on extraneous bodies such as the International film Committee and the Film Federation of India who have no role to play in changing the closing date of IFFI, thus taking the people for a ride.
We have brought to their notice that all the people are asking is to advance the closing ceremony from 3rd. December to 2nd December 2011 which is no big deal. Let the people be free to focus on the Feast of St. Francis Xavier with any diversion and which is their right. I shall thank you on behalf of ‘The Goan Catholic Welfare Union’ to kindly use your good offices and intervene in this religious matter urgently so as to avoid the clashing of IFFI closing date with that of the feast of St. Francis Xavier.
Copies of the letter have been sent to the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister, A. K. Anthony, Minister of Information, Smt Ambika Soni and the Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.
Protestors against holding IFFI on feast of St. Francis Xavier
Goa, December 03, 2011: The Goan Catholic Welfare Union (GCWU) and leaders of NGO’s namely the Pillerne Citizens Forum, Villagers Group of Goa, Porvorim Residents Welfare Association (PRWA), Goemchea Rakhondarancho Awaz (GRA), Saligao Citizens Committee and other lay persons staged a protest dharna chanting slogans condemning the government’s adamant and challenging attitude in going ahead with IFFI closing ceremony followeded with gala dinners, wine and fireworks on the sacred feast day of St. Francis Xavier by ignoring the sentiments of the people.
The participants were carrying a long black banner and holding placards with captions such as IFFI-Digambar Kamat stop the sacrilege, Respect the rights and sentiments of the people, D’ont destroy goan culture, etc. They paid rich tribute to St Francis Xavier while holding his portrait and singing hyms and praises to the great patron saint in konkani. Goehcho sahib amkam zai, amkam zai, they chanted. Ek do, ek do, IFFI ko fek do.
Addressing the demonstration, Juino De Souza President GCWU said that it is the question of attack on the religious rights and sentiments of the people. IFFI is a distraction and diversion and we have come here directly from Old Goa after hearing the first mass at 5.30 am to show our solidarity with the large section of goans whose sentiments have been hurt with an unjust decision and government will pay the price in the ensuing elections.
Speaking on the occasion Fr. Antonio Rodrigues a senior priest and scholar said today is a great feast of Goa and our goan culture has been destroyed. This is the time when all of us should united to defeat those who are out to wipe out Goa.
Joao Phillip Pereira a social activist said that people are not fools to be deceived by false excuses of vested interests who seem to have no respect for St. Francis Xavier who died on the 3rd December and his death anniversary is celebrated with prayers and devotion.
Yatish Naik lawyer and activist said St Francis Xavier is not only respected by Catholics, but by people of all faiths who flock to Goa to venerate and pay homage to the patron saint and we do not require IFFI that is costing over 100 crores to the goans.
Floriano Lobo of GRA stated that IFFI is not wanted by any other state and hence was pushed into Goa during the Parrikar regime. St Xavier is our protector and he will work a a miracle to help goans get rid of IFFI forever.
Joe Carneiro, Joaquim Rodrigues, William Pinto, Hermie Caldeira, George Mascaranhas, Roque Dias, Alex D’Souza, Merwyn D’Souza, Bosco Souza, Prakash Bandodkar, Rex D’Souza and others also expressed their feelings.
- juino desouza
The program ‘Jeevasamridhi’ is aimed at promoting big families and will felicitate 5,000 families across 30 dioceses in the state.
The program was inaugurated by Major Archbishop Mar George Alencherry at the Chavara Cultural Centre in Kochi on Monday.
Members of large families from across Ernakulam and nearby areas were felicitated at the function.
Public meetings have been arranged in seven regions in Kerala.
Couples who have completed 40 years of marital life and who have five or more children will be felicitated by the church along with couples who got married after 1990 and have four children.
Directors of family apostolate who have been instrumental in promoting family life and its values will also be presented with citations during the programme.
The next phase of ‘Jeevasamridhi’ will be the felicitation of large families in other religions in association with the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council’s Ecumenical and Dialogue Commission, said Fr. Jose Kottayil, program director.
- times of india
Kerala, November 8, 2011: The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church will not issue any official directive to its flock on voting in the coming by election to Piravom Assembly seat.
The Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II told media persons on Tuesday that the Church did not directly involve itself in politics.
“In spite of the fact that the Church has serious differences of opinion with the United Democratic Front government in the State on the issue of denial of justice [to it] in the church row, the Church has decided not to issue any official directive with regard to the ensuing elections,” he said.
However, it remains a fact that the Church is deeply wounded over the way the conflict over church property with the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church is handled by the government, he said.
The Catholicos said “the members of the Church have the right to react democratically to express their sentiments.”
He said the state government not only had failed to ensure justice in the Kolencherry church issue but had also taken a stance which openly supported the Jacobite Church in all the recent issues.
“The assurance given to the Orthodox Church on the Kolencherry issue has been blatantly breached.”
He said six rounds of tripartite talks have failed to break the stalemate due to the “hardening of stance” by the Jacobite Church.
Cardinal releases book on religious conversion in a multi-religious context – An outlook on civil and canon laws
This book deals with the problem of Religious conversion in a multi-religious context. The majority of the modern democratic States ensure their citizens the basic right to change religion. ‘Right to the conversion’ means either right to convert oneself or right to convert others. Both these aspects are the essential part of religious freedom. However, right to convert others is always controversial, although it is inherent in the freedom to practise and propagate a religion, and even inherent in the freedom of word, expression, information and association. The Catholic Church never encourages conversion by force. The canon 748 § 2 of its Code of Canon law states clearly that there should not be any constraint of any sort in the propagation of the catholic faith and the reception of new faithful. However, the missionary activities of the Catholic Church are largely misunderstood and often criticised. The author has tried to explore why the right to religious conversion is often misunderstood in India as well as in many parts of the world. He has analysed elaborately the Indian context, the Indian Constitution and the laws promulgated to control the religious conversion and tried for solutions to avoid the misunderstanding between the religions.
About the Author:
Dr. Sahayaraj Lourdusamy is the member of the High Council of AIDOP commission of Paris (Agence international diplomatie et opinion publique) and he is the Research scholar of the Asian Department of Canon law and Culture of the Faculty of Canon law, Catholic Institute of Paris. He has authored 7 books in Tamil, English and French. At present he is the Judicial Vicar of the diocese of Thanjavur, Secretary of the diocesan Commission for Social Communications and Editor of Vailankanni Calling and Vailankanni Kuraloli.
Kerala, October 18, 2011: Major Archbishop George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Church along with some of its members met Pope Benedict XVI at Rome yesterday.
The pope termed the visit of the prelate and members of second largest Eastern Catholic Church a ‘significant one’.
Noting that life for Christians has been complicated by sectarian mistrust and violence, he said “but I would urge you to continue to work with people of all religions to maintain peace and harmony…”
He said within the Church itself, there are encouraging signs of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life which will “help you to maintain your pastoral outreach”.
The pontiff said “your predecessor, late Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, has left a legacy upon which you and your brother Bishops will surely wish to build.”
He encouraged them to continue the good work in fostering vocations among young men and women.
In this regard, he mentioned the two holy patrons of the Rite, Saint Alphonsa Muttathupadathu and Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara.
Pope Benedict also spoke of the ongoing challenges in the formation of the clergy and religious, in Christian family life and in the pastoral care of the faithful.
The pope asked them to be mindful of the essential need for cooperation with Catholic Bishops and pastors of other rites.
- ucan, vatican radio
Kerala, 3 July 2011: The decreasing number of missionary vocations has become a crucial challenge for the Syro-Malabar Church, Major Archbishop George Alencherry said. In his first pastoral letter to all churches in Kerala on St. Thomas’ Day, the Major Archbishop said that lack of interest in Church vocations indicate the degeneration of faith in the family. Our Church by her very nature is missionary, sent to impart the message of life. As an individual Church, the Syro-Malabar Church also has the same nature and mission. So decreasing vocations worry me,” he said.
The degeneration of faith in families, lack of prayer life, fewer children, negative criticisms regarding priests and the religious, and the fear of obstacles faced by the missionaries, among other things, are factors in the decline, the Major Archbishop said in his four-page pastoral letter. He said the future of mission work depends on how effectively these concerns can be dealt with and exhorted the faithful to encourage children to respect missionaries and promote direct interaction with them, as well as donating generously to mission activities. Fr. Paul Thelakat, spokesman for the Syro-Malabar Church, said that the quality of vocations is also an issue.
“It’s a genuine concern of the church. Though the exact figures are not available, the fact remains now that youngsters are not much interested in joining the clergy. We are planning some positive steps to arrest the trend,” he said. Saint Thomas, the apostle to India, sowed the seeds of the Church when he arrived at Kodungallur, an ancient port called Muziris in the southern state, in AD 52. The saint was martyred at Mylapore near Chennai in AD 72. The church celebrates the dukrana feast in memory of his martyrdom.