Issues Vol. 168‎ > ‎

Vol. 168 No. 33 - August 19 - August 25, 2017

01 Cover

posted Aug 16, 2017, 10:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 17, 2017, 11:58 PM ]


03 Index

posted Aug 16, 2017, 10:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 10:03 AM ]


04 Official

posted Aug 16, 2017, 10:01 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 10:02 AM ]


05 Engagements

posted Aug 16, 2017, 10:00 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 10:01 AM ]


07 Editorial - Catastrophic Confrontation

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:53 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 17, 2017, 11:59 PM ]

It would not be the first time a world leader has started a foreign conflict to distract from problems at home, that could lead to an imminent nuclear catastrophic confrontation that could turn global.

Trump stands on one side of the North Korean confrontation. The US President's erratic outbursts, and in particular, his boasts about America's unmatched military might, give real cause for concern. The other side is frightening, too, but for different reasons. The actions of Kim Jong-un's regime are irresponsible, escalatory and reckless. The worst fears of successive US leaders have come true: North Korea has joined the global nuclear "club". And there is no putting this evil genie back in the bottle.

Pragmatic recognition of this incontrovertible, albeit regrettable, fact – that North Korea, like the US, is a nuclear power with offensive as well as defensive capabilities – is now the only sensible place from which to start rebuilding an internationally agreed strategy for lasting peace in the Korean peninsula. It is no use threatening Armageddon. Peace cannot be attained by military means. Nor is there any point in the US trying to go it alone in terms of sanctions, isolation of the regime and other non-military methods.

One of the hard lessons of the 21st century world, which Trump has not begun to grasp, but many other Americans are beginning to, is that the US can no longer expect to have things all its own way. China is the key player in the North Korean dispute. Ignore Beijing at your peril. If Trump were to do so, the various unfortunate outcomes could include an escalation of tensions in the South China Sea, and heighten friction with Japan and South Korea, and damaging global trade and financial market strains.

The telephone conversation between Xi Jinping, China's President, and Trump was significant in this context. Xi called for restraint and emphasised the diplomatic path. If Trump truly wants Beijing's help in pressurising North Korea, as he says, then he has no rational choice but to heed Xi's advice. Unconfirmed reports from New York suggest a back-channel diplomatic route to Pyongyang has been reactivated. If so, this is long overdue. But any renewed talks will get nowhere, unless the US drops its unrealistic precondition that North Korea unilaterally abandons its nuclear arsenal. As China says, denuclearisation of the entire peninsula must be the ultimate aim. That means both North Korean and US nukes.

The US would also be wise to consider other relevant factors. One is North Korea's powerful folk memory of American war-making during the (still technically unfinished) Korean War, when more than a million civilians died. Why, they might ask, has Washington never signed a peace treaty? It is perhaps unsurprising that regime propaganda falls on fertile ground. Given their history, many North Koreans may fear American-led military "liberation" more than repression at the hands of their government.

Another under-discussed factor is global nuclear disarmament. In short, this is something the US expects other countries to do, but not itself. The US has never honoured its legally binding commitment under the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty to work towards the elimination of its nuclear arsenal. Instead, it has enhanced and expanded it. It is unrealistic to demand North Korea do something the world's great powers, plus non-signatory nuclear states refuse to do themselves.

Trump should heed Xi's advice and that of Germany's Angela Merkel, speaking for Europe, by calling a halt to the name-calling and foolish threats, and offering a goodwill token – by cancelling this month's unnecessarily provocative military exercises. If Trump does not, the grown-ups in Washington must call him to heel. For the sake of all the Korean peoples and the wider world, it is time to end the talk of war, and relaunch a process of diplomatic negotiation under UN auspices.

Courtesy: The Guardian
(Extracts from www.guardian.com)

08 Let Dignity be respected and Rights upheld - Sr Grace Rodrigues, fdcc

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:51 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:52 AM ]

Every person has dignity and value. One of the ways that we recognise the fundamental worth of every person is by acknowledging and respecting their human rights. These human rights are the same for all people everywhere, be it men or women, young or old, rich or poor, regardless of our background or where we live, what we think or what we believe. This is what makes human rights 'universal'.

Article 14 of the Constitution of India states that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law, or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. It contains the principle of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "All are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection of law."

But what do we hear and what do we see in daily life – on television and in newspapers? There is a constant violence, harassment and atrocities against Dalits and the poor. Can we say all are equal before the law, and are entitled without discrimination to equal protection? Such inhuman activities are a shame to our nation. Even though there is a law to handle such cases—the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act—it is hardly implemented.

The drafting of the Constitution of India by Dr B.R. Ambedkar brought a certain sense of unity among the Dalits, and they began fighting for their rights. The Indian Constitution has banned the practice of untouchablity under Article 17. The notion of untouchability may have gone, but the atrocities against the Dalits still continue. The incident of flogging of youth by gaurakshaks in Una, Gujarat awakened the Dalits, as well as other leaders, to fight for the dignity and rights of Dalits. Such incidents have brought to light the various atrocities faced by Dalits in day to day life.

India is the only nation in the world to have passed laws that protect one animal. If there is a law against gav hatya, then what about the protection of human beings? Article 21 of our Constitution says no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty. Is this right freely enjoyed by the people of today's India?

In response to all the atrocities, on August 1, 2016 (Times of India) at Sabarmati rally, Dalits vowed not to handle carcasses, and thus to free themselves from the shackles of the centuries old practice of disposing animal carcasses and cleaning the underground drains by going down manholes.

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09 Let my Country Awake @70! - Fr Cedric Prakash sj

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:50 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:50 AM ]

Exactly seventy years ago, it was freedom at midnight for millions of Indians, as the country made her 'tryst with destiny' and awoke to a new dawn! India has certainly made rapid strides in several fields these past years(thanks to our freedom fighters, the members of the Constituent Assembly and many others); however, if one looks back at various happenings in the country, one cannot help but conclude that as a nation, even at the 'mature' age of seventy, we still have to awake!

In recent weeks, we have witnessed several glaring examples of how corruption, communalism, casteism and criminalisation of politics have seized the nation with a stranglehold. The elections to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat was a blatant act of corruption by the current political dispensation, to buy MLAs from the Opposition at mind-boggling amounts; the son of the BJP chief of Haryana literally thought that he could get away with stalking a girl, due to his political clout; Medha Patkar was arrested in the midst of her hunger strike on behalf of the oustees of the Narmada Dam; India's new President and Vice-President are steeped in the ideology of the RSS; over 70 children in Uttar Pradesh died due to lack of oxygen in a hospital. All this and more, as efforts are made to plunge the country into abysmal depths.

On August 9, the 75th anniversary of the 'Quit India Movement' brought to mind the selfless sacrifices of Mahatma Gandhi and the other freedom fighters, who ultimately ensured that India won her freedom in 1947. It is a historical fact that the Hindu Mahasabha, the RSS and their ilk refused to take part in the freedom struggle; very ironically, it is they who today control the destinies of the country, they wax eloquent about the freedom struggle, and since untruth is their forte, they even take "credit" for it, which in actuality, they deeply resented!

The Constituent Assembly, in November 1949, gave to the country a path-breaking and sacrosanct Constitution. Enshrined in the Preamble are the core values of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, whilst simultaneously guaranteeing the sovereignty, the secular and socialist nature of the country. Thanks to the visionary leadership of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, this was 'the idea of India': which like a beautiful tapestry would preserve, protect and promote pluralism, and respect the rights and freedom of every citizen. 

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11 When War is OK - Fr Joshan Rodrigues

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:49 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:49 AM ]

Major Anup Joseph is one of my schoolmates and an Officer in the Indian Army. He received the Kirti Chakra, the second-highest peacetime gallantry award from the President in 2013, for killing three foreign militants in a daring operation in Kashmir. None of us in school had ever imagined that he would be in the Army one day, and killing terrorists. But there you have it. If I remember correctly, we met one day after Mass in church, when I was still in the seminary, and he had come home on leave for a few days from the Army Training College. We were discussing how life was in the Army, when he turned around and asked me, "So what does the Church say on this? How many people am I allowed to kill per day on the battlefield?" It was a question more in jest, and I was no expert on the Church's teaching on these issues. But I told him without batting an eyelid, "If they are shooting at you, you shoot back!"

Two events recently got me thinking about war. One was a visit to the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier of the US Navy which has seen many years of active combat, and which is now harboured as a Museum alongside the Hudson River in New York. I was extremely thrilled to go aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time. And all the real jets displayed on the flight deck took my breath away. There was also an exhibition on the USS Intrepid's role during the Vietnam War. The war was a failed campaign, with a tremendous loss of American lives and resources. The US had to face huge protests, especially at home from its citizens who were against the US involvement in the war. Vietnam was in a similar situation like we have North and South Korea today, and I think few people would doubt that the US would enter the war, if the North were to attack the South.

Eventually, the US had to withdraw; Vietnam was unified under communist rule, and many years later, the debate is still out if the US should have gone to war. Interestingly, we don't hear anything much about Vietnam in the news today. Life seems to be normal there even under communism.

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12 Faith, Hope and the forlorn 'Charity' - Janbal Dharmaraj

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:47 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:48 AM ]

Come September 5, our inboxes will attract messages on the joy of giving. The world will observe International Day of Charity. Charity is one of the much spoken about topics, especially in our Church circles. Sometimes, it is good to revisit the core ideas of this Christian virtue: a subject that never gets irrelevant and outdated.

The Prevailing Apathy

St Josemaria Escriva, a 20th century Spaniard priest, hit the nail on the head, while exposing the modern-day puerile approach to charity: "Usually, people are not very generous with their money. Human beings are usually generous with abundant talks, noisy enthusiasm, promises and plans. But at the moment of sacrifice, very few come forward to lend a hand.

And if they do, it would be an exchange for a dance, a raffle, a movie, a show, or an announcement and subscription list in the newspapers. It's a sad state of affairs, but it has its exceptions."

Today, the cries of the poor do not penetrate our soundproofed living rooms. The 'soul-sick' consumerist society is insulated by its comfort. The well-heeled have long succumbed to a blanket theory that all poor are dishonest and undeserving. Such speculations are often bred during their ostentatious high tea sessions at leisure clubs. In addition, the new-fangled individualistic approach to life is now assuaging the whims of the working middle class.

Today, the esoteric proposal for building a 'distributism' system of economics will not even stand a chance for discussion, leave alone sincere consideration.

Scriptural View

The Scriptures exhort us to selfless giving. St James takes a strong stand against mere words of comfort that do not accompany actions. "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?" (James 2:15-16) Blarney may succeed in winning the fleeting acclaims of mortals, but cannot conceal our nonchalance towards the good God who cares for the destitute. Altruism is an integral part of the Catholic lifestyle. It is a yardstick to personally measure our faith in action.

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14 Seven Surprising Things about St Pius X - John B. Manos, Esq.

posted Aug 16, 2017, 9:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 16, 2017, 9:46 AM ]

We love him for so many things, especially his clarity in preaching on the Blessed Mother, the emphasis on the Blessed Sacrament especially as "the shortest and safest path to Heaven". We've collected some facts about his life that you might find surprising. 

Read on, and be surprised that this staunch defender of the faith and true fatherly guide was very much an ordinary guy who shunned many of the trappings of elitism appurtenant to the office of Pope. Among other things, a lot of the criticism levied against Pope Francis, such as making accommodation for the homeless, dining with the ordinary people, or wandering off to talk to the street people in Rome, were in fact activities started by Pope Pius X.

1. His parents were Polish

Pope Pius X was born in Italy to parents who had immigrated to Italy after the Prussian occupation. They were granted political asylum. Jan Krawiec, from Wielkopolska, was a tailor, and in order to blend in to Italy, changed his name to Giovanni Battista Sarto. 'Sarto' means 'tailor' in Italy, so Giuseppe chose the name because it represented what he was. Years later, he and his wife gave birth to Giuseppe, who we now know as Pope Pius X. They were poor. His father died when he was very young however, and his mother had to raise him and his sisters and brothers with her sewing and farming.

2. He opened the Vatican to refugees and the homeless

Over 100 years ago, after a great earthquake hit Italy, in Messina, Pius X opened the Apostolic Palace for the refugees and homeless to take shelter. Some time ago, there was a moderate scandal when Pope Francis decided to provide space for local homeless people to take refuge in the Vatican.

3. He changed Papal dining to be with his friends

He was, in many ways, beloved for being an ordinary guy who rose to the Papal throne. We have no one to blame, but our beloved Pius X, who broke the mold on papal dining habits. Lately, we've seen the news reports on Pope Francis doing the same, even going to the cafetaria to eat with the workers and public. Great scandal was incurred among the elite, when Pope Pius X ceased dining alone, and started inviting his friends and people he met to eat with him.

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