Issues Vol. 168 >
Vol. 167 No. 52 - December 31, 2016 - January 06, 2017
The Roman pontiff said that building a world of peace requires a "willingness to face conflict head on, to resolve it and to make it part of a new process of choosing solidarity and building friendships." He added that "it is a challenge to build up society, communities and businesses by acting as peacemakers. It is to show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment or seek to win at any cost."
The Pope said that active non-violence is a way of showing that unity is truly more powerful and more fruitful than conflict. While differences will sometimes lead to difficulties, he called people to face them constructively and non-violently, so that tension and opposition can turn into diversified and life-giving unity, preserving what is valid and useful on both sides.
His message (that was sent to heads of state around the world) invited everyone "to banish violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to become non-violent people and to build non-violent communities that care for our common home.” It is in the family that people can learn how to communicate, be generous and caring, and resolve conflicts "not by force, but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.” From within the family, "the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society," he said.
"This ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence can never be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue," he said. The Pope pleaded for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons, and called with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.
"To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing His teaching about non-violence, and follow His practice of tackling evil with love and truth," he explained. In fact, an important 'manual' for peacemaking, he pointed out, "is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where He presented the Beatitudes."
"Applying the Beatitudes, which outlines how to be blessed, good and authentic, is also a programme and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives," the Pope said.
"The politics of non-violence," he elaborated, also "begins with each individual, who will never miss an opportunity to offer a kind word, smile or simple gesture that sows peace and friendship."
"When victims of violence resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of non-violent peacemaking in the tradition of those who struggled actively and non-violently for change, such as St Teresa of Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and the thousands of women in Liberia who helped end their nation’s civil war," wrote Pope Francis.
Many religious traditions contribute by promoting compassion and non-violence and protecting victims of injustice, and for that reason, he emphatically reaffirmed that "no religion is terrorist, and the name of God can never be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy, not war!"
He prayed: "In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may non-violence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.”
(Compiled from the Pope's Message on the 50th World Day of Peace 2017)
Tourism continues to be accepted and pursued as a solution to mitigate poverty around the world. Countries, especially those in the developing world, see tourism as a tool for sustainable development The United Nations (UN) General Assembly has approved the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The resolution, adopted on December 4, recognises "the importance of international tourism, and particularly of the designation of an international year of sustainable tourism for development, in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world."
"The declaration by the UN of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is a unique opportunity to advance the contribution of the tourism sector to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, social and environmental, while raising awareness of the true dimensions of a sector which is often undervalued," said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. "As the lead UN agency for this initiative, UNWTO is very much looking forward to proceeding with the organisation and implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with Governments, relevant organisations of the UN system, other international and regional organisations and all other relevant stakeholders," he added.
Violence continues to throttle several parts of the world. In the past weeks, there have been bombings in Istanbul, Turkey and in the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt; the escalation of violence in Aleppo, Syria – these are just some of the violent acts that have resulted in several deaths and many injuries. In some places, violence has become a way of life, highly institutionalised; little children grow up on stories of war, of how the ‘enemy’ needs to be dealt with. For several across the globe, there seems to be nothing to hope for: one act of violence spawns another, for retaliation and revenge. Most are oblivious of the truth that ‘eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind.
Pope Francis, in a style which is characteristic of his papacy, has once again sent out a powerful message to the world. It is a message for the Fiftieth World Day of Peace which will be celebrated on January 1, 2017; entitled ‘Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,’ he emphatically states in this message that, "violence is not the cure for our broken world." He calls for a new style of politics built on peace and nonviolence, and at the same time for disarmament, the eradication of nuclear weapons and an end to domestic violence and abuse against women and children.
His message is addressed to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders; in wishing all peace, Pope Francis says, "I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our deepest dignity and make active nonviolence our way of life." Though Catholic in expression, the message clearly transcends the narrow confines of any religion, as he proposes an agenda "to banish violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to build nonviolent communities that care for our common home."
The Nuns of the Benedictine Monastery, Shanti Nilaya at Bangalore, celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Mother Teresita’s monastic profession, on May 31, 2016 with religious splendour.
Mother Teresita was the Abbess from 1993 to 2013, having pioneered its development; she has been responsible for the ongoing spiritual formation of innumerable women and men.
Five foundations have been laid at various parts of India, enriching the spirituality of the Church through the Benedictine way of life.
The monastery was adorned tastefully with red and gold floral arrangements. The serene and tranquil ambience of the monastery broke into mirthful song and celebration, as May 31 unfolded in magnificent splendour. Archbishop Bernard Moras concelebrated Mass with approximately 30 priests. The Secretary of the Bishop, the Chancellor, the Procurator and other priests working in the Bishop’s House made it a point to be present, to congratulate Mother on her dedicated years of service in the monastery. A number of priests and religious Sisters from various religious houses honoured Mother Teresita with their love and presence. Her family was present to enliven the Mass with vibrant music and a lively participation in the liturgy. Mother followed the ritual of the Golden Jubilee, reading her chart and singing the Suscipe beautifully. After solemn celebration of Holy Mass, the congregation, comprising her religious friends, family, oblates and those who have served the monastery in various capacities, bonded over a delicious breakfast. At the reception, she cut a magnificent cake decked with vibrant candles made at the monastery. The entire day was extremely joyful. It culminated with a variety entertainment programme staged by the Sisters and Mother’s family in the evening.
Mother Teresita has led the austere life of a Benedictine nun with patience, prudence and deep love for her religious vows and the monastic way of life, in imitation of St Benedict.
Fruitfulness is a paramount concept all through the Old Testament, and Jesus, in His many parables on the reign of God, repeatedly draws comparison with fruitfulness: “the mustard seed, that smallest of all seeds…” The most telling and convincing image is the one of the vine and the branches, which shows how fruitfulness depends completely on the connection between the grapevines and the stem (Jn 15:1-17).
We think we understand. It seems so obvious. To bear fruit means: to be productive, to bring to fruition, to achieve, to make a profit. The other side of the coin also makes sense to us: a branch that does not bear fruit is unproductive, hence unprofitable, and therefore must be discarded. We thus interpret the biblical message in the spirit of an achievement society and miss the point. It is a challenge for us to understand what Scripture has to say in this regard.
The world we live in is permeated with a drive to accomplish and to achieve. That bug is transmitted to us in the very air we breathe. Even in old age, this obsession with achievement does not let us off the hook. The accomplishments are the norm for valuing ourselves and others.
Unfortunately, in the Church and in religious life, this unhealthy attitude is not less, but perhaps even more prevalent than elsewhere.
In fact, this achievement mentality is so insidious that I want to cite some examples:
• Many people complain about the vast amount of work, the number of appointments and phone calls, the stack of mail, and so forth that they must contend with. The complaint sounds a little like disguised self-glorification.
• Many a sister and brother retiring from office has said to me, “Father, I still want to be of some service.” Laudable as this desire may be, an underlying message sometimes can be overheard: “I still want to count for something.”
• People have a tendency to develop a daily workload or ritual which is somewhat beyond their strength.
Ordained Priest: April 18, 1998
Born to Eternal Life: December 6, 2016
(English translation of the Marathi Homily given by Fr Joseph Borges at the Funeral Mass of Fr Bonaventure Pereira, Church of Our Lady of Bethelehem, Dongri, Bhayandar, on December 7, 2016)
It was December 6, 2016. I had just finished some work, and my mobile phone rang. Fr Peter D’Cunha, the Parish Priest of Our Lady of Bethlehem Church, Dongri was on the line. The earth-shaking news of the sad and sudden demise of Fr Bonaventure Pereira (fondly known as Fr Bona) shattered me to the core of my being. I rushed to Divine Mercy Church, Bhayandar. There lay my intimate friend and classmate, lifeless and yet so fresh. The sight left me in a pensive mood in the midst of all the arrangements for the next day’s funeral. As our Dean, Fr Anselm Gonsalves, was sealing Fr Bona’s room at Divine Mercy Church, my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. I thought of the tomb of Jesus which was found empty on the third day. Fr Bona’s room is also empty today - a sign of the vacuum that has been created in the Archdiocese of Bombay by his sudden departure, a vacuum which is irreplaceable.
We are in the season of Advent. On the first Sunday of Advent, Jesus told us that no one knows the day or the hour of the coming of the Son of Man. Similarly, no one could imagine that death would come like a thief, and would steal from us a very intimate and dear friend. December 6 was the feast of St. Nicholas. Fr Bonaventure’s brother’s name is Nicholas. He is also a priest of the Archdiocese of Bombay: Fr Nicholas Pereira. Even Fr Nicholas would not have imagined that on such a day, his brother will be taken away from him, his family and from the Church at large.
Fr Bonaventure was a very talented sportsman, especially a good cricketer, beautiful singer and a versatile musician. In his name are hidden two virtues of his life: ‘Bona’ means good, and venture means adventurous. Bona was full of goodness. This goodness shone through his smiling face and readiness to help. Fr Bona was a man for the poor and the marginalised. He was at home with them and always expressed his concern for their well-being. The people of Dharavi Island have lost a great supporter with his death. He would not care for himself when it came to help the people or the priests. Till the last day, he was on his toes to help the priests in their needs. His courage could be seen in his readiness to take up challenges. He had completed the renovation of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Palli. Now he was busy with the building of the Church of Divine Mercy, Bhayandar.
Fr Bona’s unexpected exit from the stage of life has underlined various hard facts of life. Death is inevitable but certain, and yet no one knows when he or she is going to die. I wonder what is left behind after the death of a person: memories, thoughts, love and inspiration. St Therese of Lisieux says, "I am not dying; I am entering into life." Shakespeare confessed on the verge of death that all the darkness had faded away; the poet Keats would look at death as full flowering of life; for Kahlil Gibran, life and death is one single reality. The mystery of death is hidden in the heart of life.
Edited by Jesu Pudumai Doss, Sahayadas Fernando And Maria Charles Antonysamy (Pages 283- Price Rs. 360)
Education in India is in crisis. With abysmally low rates of literacy (more than 1/4th of all Indians do not have basic literacy skills) and crass commercialisation of education, this book of 13 articles written by Salesian scholars, is a timely warning of what is to come, and wide ranging solutions to the different problems that arise.
From a detailed analysis of the Right to Education Act (RTE) and its legal and social ramifications to the need for a strong backbone of good primary education, to formulating a wide framework for empowering education and discussing the new methodology of education in the digital age, the book is a must read for those engaged in the education of the young.
Since India will soon be one of the youngest countries in the world, the book critically analyses and appraises the shortfalls of Government schools, especially in rural areas, and private institutions that do not provide quality education.
Globalisation further skews the balance in this Information Age in favour of the rich and the powerful, who have the means to access advanced technologies, bringing in its train all the problems that arise with widespread use of the internet. Technology not only becomes a medium of education, but also a medium that attracts the young to the use of unwanted information and abusive technologies, resulting in early exposure to what is undesirable.
If India is to reap the demographic dividend, it has to make quality education accessible to all, if not all its young. While skills development and employable students are important to nation building, moral values and the all round education of body, mind and heart are key to producing good citizens in the 21st century.
The all round erosion of moral values has also affected education which is why the five I's of Ian Gough – industrialisation, interests, institutions, ideas and the international environment are developed in one of the articles and their practical application to the situation.
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