Human life today is threatened from the womb to the
tomb. Right from the very beginning of life, there are powerful forces seeking
to snuff out life. As we go through life, there are many threats – one among
them is the deterioration of the environment. If the present trend continues,
our planet will no longer be a habitable home for us. Right at the end of a
person's life, there are voices clamouring for euthanasia.
It was on February 8, 1997 that Cardinal Simon Pimenta
of blessed memory announced the establishment of the Diocesan Human Life
Committee, a Pro-Life organisation in the Archdiocese of Bombay, to help preach
the 'Gospel of Life' and to oppose the Culture of Death in our city. The body
would have a pastoral dimension and direct its thrust toward parishes,
associations in the Church, and society at large for the promotion of a
Pro-Life culture in all its aspects.
The Diocesan Human Life Committee (DHLC) logo is the
symbol of a mango motif in green with a smaller white inverted motif within it.
The visual communication: a pregnant woman and her pre-born child. The colour
green is used to represent fertility, and the mango represents both mother and
The objectives of this organisation were: 1. To create
awareness of the beauty and purpose of Human Sexuality. 2. To promote a
value-based approach to Sex Education. 3 To collect information and build
documentation on life-related issues. 4. To promote respect for, and
understanding of, marriage and family life.
On the completion of 20 years of the Diocesan Human
Life Committee, the CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development, the CCBI
Commission for Theology and Doctrine, the Mumbai DHLC, the Mumbai Justice and
Peace Commission, and FIAMC Bio-Medical Ethics Centre, are jointly organising a
National Symposium on: A Call to Human Freedom and Justice in the Family and
Society: Ethical Concerns and Pastoral Approaches from Friday, October 21,
2016 (4 p.m.) to Sunday, October 23,
2016 (6 p.m.), at St Pius X College, Goregaon East, Mumbai.
The Symposium will study some fundamental ethical
human values—human rights, and in particular, the right to life, human dignity,
social justice, mercy and so on—from the viewpoint of the Church's moral
teaching. The speakers, who are experts in their fields, will highlight the
pastoral implications of the Church's doctrine. A wide gamut of topics related
to life are covered in the short span of two-and-a-half days. All those
involved in the family and healthcare apostolate and Social Workers will derive
much benefit from this Symposium.
Similar symposia have been organised in the past with
great success. Past symposia include Redeeming Globalisation, Celebrating 50
years of Vatican II: From Lumen Gentium to Lumen Fidei, the Gift
of Life and so on. Last year's symposium issued two Statements: one on
Surrogacy and one on Euthanasia, signed by more than 450 participants, which
were forwarded to the appropriate departments of the Government of India.
The Symposium will end on October 23, with a March
for Life at 4 p.m. from St Andrew Church, Bandra to the Basilica of Our
Lady of the Mount, Bandra. Thereby, we will re-live the March for Life that
took place 20 years ago. The March will be led by the Missionaries of Charity,
the Sisters of Saint Mother Teresa who was so committed to the cause of life.
All are welcome to participate in the March. It will be a beautiful way of
showing our commitment to the cause of life.
This is a National Symposium being organised in
Mumbai, at which representatives from every diocese will participate. For
registration and further details, contact Fr Stephen Fernandes, St Pius X
College, Aarey Road, Goregaon East, Mumbai 400 063 or e-mail:
email@example.com or call on Cell: + 9198203 32965.
Agnelo Gracias is an Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.
During Respect Life month (October), Catholics were called to renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family. They may demonstrate this commitment in a variety of ways—by participating in prayer services and educational conferences, engaging in public witness and advocacy, and helping to offer Church and community services to those in need.
The theme of the Respect Life Program is "Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty." Pope Benedict who often underlined this insight has often said: "The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life. If we want peace, let us defend life! This approach leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. The grandeur and the raison d'être of each person are found in God alone. The unconditional acknowledgement of the dignity of every human being, of each one of us, and of the sacredness of human life, is linked to the responsibility which we all have before God. We must combine our efforts, then, to develop a sound vision of the human person. Without this, it is impossible to build true peace. Pope Francis cautions that these links among faith, the inherent dignity and rights of human beings, and a just and peaceful society cannot be understood or maintained by delinking morality from religion
Pope Francis told doctors there are "some who hide behind alleged compassion to justify killing a patient."
In an address to the Medical Association of Spain and Latin America gathered in the Vatican's Clementine Hall on June 9, the Holy Father said that a physician is more identified by his "merciful attitude towards those who suffer", rather than his mere technical skills. The Pope remarked that compassion "is not pity; it is suffering with," calling it "the very soul of medicine."
He also thought it fitting during the Jubilee of Mercy to express his gratitude to health professionals who are the "true personification" of mercy.
Condemning euthanasia, the Holy Father remarked, "True compassion does not marginalise, humiliate or exclude, and doesn't celebrate the passing away of a patient. No, this is the triumph of selfishness of the 'culture of disposability' that rejects people who do not meet certain standards of health, beauty or utility."
The Pope borrowed a title for Christ employed by the Fathers of the Church: Christus Medicus (Christ the Doctor). He likened him to the Good Samaritan, mentioned in Luke 10, "who does not pass before the badly injured person by the wayside, but, moved by compassion, he heals and serves." He noted that "Christian medical tradition" has always been "inspired" by this parable.
At every one of her six apparitions in Fatima from May to October 1917, Our Lady specifically asked for the Rosary to be said every day, and as if to emphasise its importance even further, in her final apparition on October 13, 1917, she declared: "I am the Lady of the Rosary."
It was this aspect of her message on which she placed the greatest emphasis, and the reason for it was made clear by the declaration on the Rosary by St John Paul II when he first travelled to Fatima in 1982, and subsequently in the luminous teaching on the value and power of the Rosary in one's daily life as a Catholic, in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, issued on October 7, 2002.
The teaching in this document (which is easily readable) is an inspirational aid to understanding the meaning and relevance of praying the Rosary in one's daily life. Our Lady's words on the Rosary
May 13: "Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and an end to the war."
June 13: "I want you to pray the Rosary every day."
July 13: "I want you to continue to pray the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary, to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can help you."
1. ONLY GOD MATTERS (SOLO DIOS BASTA)
An attentive reading of St Teresa's collected books is sufficient to discover that entirely Teresa was in God and that God was totally in her. The Lord lovingly told her: "Look for you in Me."
All her life of prayer, all her spiritual experiences, all her writings and her new foundations of monasteries were a way to penetrate deeply into the heart of the Lord and be absorbed totally by God Himself.
If we want to simplify the life of Teresa in one word, that word is GOD, who embraced all her interior and exterior life, her dealings with men and women, and all the great dreams to reform not only the Carmelite monasteries, but the whole Church of Christ. Without God, there is no Teresa. (Life, 1-,30): "Without God, nothing is accomplished."
"Quien a Diostiene. Nada le falta: Sólo Dios basta." So Teresa lived in this world the plenitude of being, of knowing and of loving God. 2. WHO WAS GOD FOR TERESA?
For Teresa, God was a clear reality, God was real; in fact, the only reality that matters in this world. Since her childhood till her death, God was actually existing and very close to her.
Sister Asunta Nakade is a Japanese nun belonging to the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has lived in India at the Dilkhush Convent, Juhu, for the past 40 years. She will be leaving for Japan, her home country, for good, on October 21, 2016. We are grateful to her for her contribution to our country, India, especially to the Archdiocese of Bombay, and in particular, to the overall development of children with special needs.
She was born in Tokyo in 1937, to a Buddhist family, consisting of her parents and her brother. Her original name was Keiko. It was in 1949, while she was in Kobe, in the final year of primary school, that a mysterious encounter with the Catholic Church (in a way, an encounter with God Himself) took place. One evening, Keiko saw her neighbours going to church, and she followed them. It was a Catholic church, and at the chapel by the side, the right arm of St Francis Xavier (the holy relic) was placed. She saw a long queue of people going to the altar, one by one, to venerate the Holy Relic. Although she did not know anything about Catholicism (as it was the first time that she had entered a Catholic church), she would never forget the experience she had that day! Keiko was overwhelmed by holiness! Later, she believed that surely through St Francis Xavier, she received the gift of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Keiko was 13 years old, her father shifted her to another school, run by Franciscan sisters. It was a great surprise for her. She was once again overwhelmed by the holiness of the sisters. Deep down in her heart, she experienced heavenly joy and happiness. She started attending Sunday school to learn more about the Catholic faith. One of the sisters taught her Catechism, and thus began her faith formation. The experience of God’s presence in her heart was so strong, that she wanted to give herself completely to God, by joining a convent. She expressed her desire to her parents, but they could not comprehend it, as she was not yet baptised. She continued her faith formation, and she was baptised at the school chapel, on August 15, 1950 with three of her classmates. She took the name Asunta.
Celebrating 20 years of Diocesan Human Life Committee
Dr Jeanette Pinto
On the occasion of celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Diocesan Human Life Committee (1997-2017), we recall details of some of the programmes organised in the past 20 years.
The activities were Awareness programmes on all human life-related issues, training programmes on Natural Family Planning, organising seminars, talks, discussions and conferences. DHLC also offered counselling services. Soon there were publications, posters, leaflets, prayer booklets etc., followed by the well-known newsletter 'Jeevutsav - Celebrate Life' which was started in 1999 as a quarterly. Each issue had a theme and articles were contributed by various pro-lifers. Several programmes were organised in different parishes, and soon 'Pro-Life' became a catchword.
In the year 2000, the First 'Memorial to the Unborn Child' was set up at St Andrew Church cemetery, Bandra. It was blessed by Cardinal Ivan Dias during the 7th Asia-Pacific Conference held in Mumbai, India. Between 2003 and 2006, other memorials were set up at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Chembur; Our Lady of Salvation, Dadar; Sacred Heart Church, Andheri; St Michael Church, Mahim; St Anthony Church, Mankhurd; Sacred Heart Church, Santa Cruz; Our Lady of Egypt Church, Kalina; and Our Lady of the Sea Church, Uttan. To date, there are 11 such memorials in the Archdiocese.
XIC presents tribute to Saint Teresa of Kolkata
Susanne Rodrigues & Kashmeera Sambamurty (XIC Journalism students)
Xavier Institute of Communications (XIC) organised a tribute to our very own newest saint – Teresa of Kolkata on September 16, in St Xavier's College Hall. Students of all faiths from XIC and from the College BMM Class surely got inspired. "If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one." This quote by Mother Teresa inspired the theme for the programme: 'Service to the poorest of the poor'.
Students of XIC hailing from Bengal/Kolkata showcased their talents to put up this programme. Anchor Karishma Asoodani lined up a programme interspersed with speeches, poems and every possible art to showcase the magnanimity and saintliness of Mother Teresa, now raised to Saint Teresa.
Suchandra Banerjee and Kashmeera Sambamurty contributed further by their original compositions of emotional prose and poetry. The poetry was recited by Ritika Rampuria. Finally, how could XIC not produce a relevant video documentary in fond memory of Saint Teresa on an occasion like this? In spite of time constraints, Soham Hazra, Somak Sarkar and Satarupa Bose presented a short but meaningful documentary on the pathway to Canonisation of Saint Teresa, for our reflection. XIC staff, not to be outdone, enacted a simple skit on humane service, making us believe that to be a saint, one need not do great things; instead, like St Teresa, just perform small acts with great love!
The presence of Sr Tracy, Superior, and Sr Vimal of the 'Ashadaan' home run by the Missionaries of Charity, Byculla, made St Teresa alive for us. In her very touching speech, Sr Vimal challenged our students to keep alive St Teresa's spirit of reaching out to the poorest of the poor by being aware of these 'poor' in their very own classrooms, and among our immediate friends and family. Understanding the limitations of students, she encouraged service in every small way possible.
Minorities' Delegation meets HRD Minister: NEP
A delegation of Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and other Minorities organised by Mr Kamal Farooqui met Shri Prakash Javadekar, the Union Minister for Human Resources and Development at his office in New Delhi on September 29, 2016 regarding the New Educational Policy (NEP).
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary-General of CBCI, along with Fr Savarimuthu Y. Shankar, PRO of the Archdiocese of Delhi, were part of this delegation. In a meeting which lasted almost two hours, the Minister gave opportunity to every member of the delegation to express their opinions, suggestions and anxieties regarding the National Education Policy.
Bishop Theodore expressed the Church's points to the minister, the immense contribution made by the minorities, particularly the Christians, in nation building through education and healthcare. He also put forth the concerns of the Catholic Church about the Education Policy, and handed over the document prepared by the CBCI Office for Education and Culture. He also pointed out to the plight of the tribals and dalits and other marginalised sections, and urged the Minister that in the NEP, preferential treatment be reserved for these vulnerable sections of society, and that concerted efforts to empower them through education be made. He also requested the Minister to ensure that the NEP is not coloured by any one religion, but should reflect India's religious and cultural diversity.