Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 02 - January 14 - January 20, 2017

01 Cover

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 12, 2017, 10:33 PM ]

03 Index

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 8:20 AM ]

04 Official

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 8:18 AM ]

05 Engagements

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 8:17 AM ]

07 Editorial - Reconciliation and the Reformation Anniversary

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:07 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 13, 2017, 5:52 AM ]

2017 is the 500th anniversary of the key event in the reformation movements that marked the life of the Western Church over several centuries. This event has been a controversial theme in the history of inter-church relations. The Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity has worked hard to produce a shared understanding of the commemoration. Given the fact that the history of the Reformation was marked by painful division, this is a very remarkable achievement.

It was in the context of the anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany (ACK), invited by the World Council of Churches, took up the work of creating the resources for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. A committee of ten members, representing different churches, met three times in 2014-2015 to develop the necessary texts. A particular emphasis was placed on the preparation of the ecumenical worship service for the Week.

The churches in Germany agreed that the way to commemorate ecumenically this Reformation event should be with a Christusfest – a Celebration of Christ. If the emphasis were to be placed on Jesus Christ and His work of reconciliation as the centre of Christian faith, then all the ecumenical partners—Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Mennonite and others—could participate in the anniversary festivities.

From this agreement and the wider ecumenical context emerges the strong theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: "Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us" (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). Its important report, 'From Conflict to Communion', recognises that both traditions approach this anniversary in an ecumenical age, with the achievements of fifty years of dialogue behind them, and with new understandings of their own history and theology separating that which is polemical from the theological insights of the Reformation.

It became clear that the material for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents: on the one hand, there should be a celebration of God's love and grace, the 'justification of humanity through grace alone', reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther's Reformation. On the other hand, the materials should also recognise the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, openly name the guilt, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation.

Ultimately, it was Pope Francis' 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium ('The Joy of the Gospel') which provided the theme for this year, when it used the quote: "The Love of Christ Compels Us" (Paragraph 9). With this scripture verse (2 Cor 5:14), taken in the context of the entire fifth chapter of the second letter to the Corinthians, the German committee formulated the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017.

This biblical text emphasises that reconciliation is a gift from God, intended for the entire Creation. "God was reconciling the world (kosmos) to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us." (v. 19) As a result of God's action, the person who has been reconciled in Christ is called in turn to proclaim this reconciliation in word and deed: "The love of Christ compels us." (v. 14, NIV) "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (v. 20) The text stresses that this reconciliation is not without sacrifice. Jesus gives His life; He died for all. The ambassadors of reconciliation are called, in His name, to give their lives similarly. They no longer live for themselves; they live for Him who died for them.

(Excerpts of the text from the International version of the text of the Week of Prayer 2017, published by the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity)

08 Promoting Vocations - Cardinal Seán O'malley, OFM Cap - Archbishop of Boston

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:06 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 8:06 AM ]

Jesus has described Himself as the Vine and called His disciples the branches. Without the Eucharist, we are cut off from the source and are spiritually adrift. There was a time when a religious culture and strong family ties sustained people in their beliefs, but in today's world, when the believer is cut off from the worshiping community, he or she is spiritually at risk.

We must be convinced that Jesus' command to celebrate the Eucharist ("Do this in memory of Me") contains an implicit obligation to reach out to those Catholics who, for whatever reason, are no longer part of a worshipping community by inviting and welcoming them to our Eucharistic communities.

The same command – "Do this in memory of me" – also obliges us to promote priestly vocations, so that the Eucharist can be celebrated. In Christ's plan for the Church, it is the priesthood that allows the Eucharist to be celebrated everywhere and at all times. The priesthood is not a human invention,

but a gift from God, by which God continues to give Himself to His people throughout history.


10 A Relevant Ecumenical Spirituality for Nation Building - Fr Gilbert de Lima

posted Jan 11, 2017, 8:04 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 8:04 AM ]

Pope Francis marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation by travelling to secular Sweden in 2016, and encouraging Catholics and Lutherans to forgive the "errors" of the past and forge greater unity, including sharing in the Eucharist. He presided over an ecumenical event at the Malmo arena, Sweden on Monday, October 31, 2016. In the second and more informal gathering to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Pope Francis and Lutheran leaders moved to a large stadium in Malmo for testimonies and common pledges on the environment and justice. In his address, Pope Francis gave thanks for the joint commemoration and for the "new atmosphere of understanding" between the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Catholic Church. "I share your concern about abuses harming our planet, our common home and causing grave effects on the climate," he told Pranita Biswasi (an Indian and one of four persons who gave their testimony on that occasion), adding that "the greatest impact is on those who are most vulnerable and needy. As we say in my country, in the end, it's the poor who pay the price for the big party!" Pope Francis went on to thank "all those governments that assist refugees, displaced persons and asylum-seekers. For us Christians, it is a priority to go out and meet the outcasts and the marginalised of our world, and to make felt the tender and merciful love of God, who rejects no one and accepts everyone." He concluded by adding an off-the-cuff comment again, saying that "Christians today are called to lead a revolution of tenderness." He thus highlighted in his inimitable manner, a 'spirituality of engagement'.


12 Healing the Rift (1517 - 2017) - Bishop Agnelo Gracias

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:13 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 7:13 AM ]

October 31, 1517 – that was the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in Germany, raising concerns about what he saw as abuses in the Church of his time. It was an act which sparked off the second division in the Christian world. The first division took place in 1054, when there was a split between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The second split took place in 1517 between the Catholic Church and the Reformed Churches. This painful division had catastrophic effects. It led to fierce wars between Catholics and 'Protestants'.

At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed for the unity of His disciples (John 17:20-24) The unity of His disciples was foremost in His thoughts, as He neared the end of his life. It is as if Jesus foresaw the divisions that would take place. These divisions have been a stumbling block especially for evangelisation. Looking at divided Christendom, one could, indeed, ask: "Is Christ divided?" (1 Cor 1:13)

Over the last five decades, various initiatives have been undertaken to heal the rift between Christians. There have been a number of Dialogues. Theological agreement has been reached on a number of issues. Even on the main theological issue that divided Catholics from Protestants—the issue of Justification—there has been an Agreement between Catholics and Lutherans. And on October 31, 2016, Pope Francis and the President of the World Lutheran Federation, Bishop Mounib Younan embraced each other. They signed a Joint Statement in which Catholics and Lutherans pledged to pursue their dialogue in order to remove the remaining obstacles that hinder them from reaching full unity. The Joint Statement affirms: "Today, we hear God's command to set aside all conflict. We recognise that we are freed by grace to move towards the communion to which God continually calls us."


13 Protect Migrant Children - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 7:12 AM ]

On January 9, 2017, in an address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps from 181 countries accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis said, "Children and young people are the future; it is for them that we work and build. They cannot be selfishly overlooked or forgotten… I consider it a priority to protect children, whose innocence is often violated by exploitation, clandestine and slave labour, prostitution or the abuse of adults, criminals and dealers in death." "I think of the young people affected by the brutal conflict in Syria, deprived of the joys of childhood and youth, such as the ability to play games and to attend school." His message was loud and clear: a necessary step for security and peace everywhere is to invest in children, and particularly those who are directly affected by the numerous wars and conflicts of our time.

Pope Francis has been consistent in his focus on the painful reality of migrant children. On January 15, 2017, the Catholic Church will once again observe the 'World Day of Migrants and Refugees' and in a hard-hitting message for the day on 'Child Migrants, the Vulnerable and the Voiceless', Pope Francis writes, "I feel compelled to draw attention to the reality of child migrants, especially the ones who are alone. In doing so, I ask everyone to take care of the young, who in a threefold way are defenceless: they are children, they are foreigners, and they have no means to protect themselves. I ask everyone to help those who, for various reasons, are forced to live far from their homeland and are separated from their families."


15 FAQs on BMC Corporators - Willie Shirsat

posted Jan 11, 2017, 7:10 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 7:10 AM ]

In a recently held meeting of the core committee of the NGO 'Church in the City', we decided to create more awareness on the forthcoming BMC ELECTIONS. In this context, we must have the right perspective of what it is to be a BMC Councillor (Nagar Sevak in Marathi), which specifies clearly the concept that one who is at service of the community is the local corporator.

About Municipal Corporations in India

The urban local government which works for the development of any Metropolitan City with a population of more than one million is known as a Municipal Corporation in India. The members of the Municipal Corporation are directly elected by the people, and are called Councillors.

Who are the members of a Municipal Corporation?

The Municipal Corporation consists of a Committee which includes a Mayor with Councillors. The Corporation provides necessary community services to the Metropolitan Cities, and are formed under the Corporation Act of 1835 of Panchayati Raj system. The Mayor heads the Municipal Corporation. The Corporation remains under the charge of the Municipal Commissioner.

Who conducts Municipal Corporation Elections?

The elections to the Municipal Corporation are conducted under the guidance, direction, superintendence and control of the State Election Commission. The Corporation falls under the State government's jurisdiction.

Qualification for contesting Municipal Corporation elections

A person can contest elections for Municipal Corporation if he/she fulfils the following criteria: must be a citizen of India; must have attained the age of 21 years; name is registered in the Electoral Roll of a ward; is not earlier disqualified for contesting Municipal Corporation elections; must not be an employee of any Municipal Corporation in India.


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