Indians at synod stress marriage issues


Cardinal Gracias said that Indians have traditionally maintained strong family ties but negative influences, including films, challenge that tradition.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Vatican City: While some countries face family issues such as divorce and polygamy, the synod’s Indian participants have voiced concern for interreligious marriages, which pose pastoral concerns across Asia, said Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay.

We have got this whole thing of mixed marriages, there are many marriages in India which are between (a) Catholic and somebody who is not baptized, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Buddhist, and that is what specifically came out of India,” Cardinal Gracias told Catholic News Agency.

While marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person would normally be invalid, the local ordinary can dispense from this impediment, and thus allow such a marriage to be validly contracted (canon 1086).

Cardinal Gracias, who is part of Pope Francis’ ‘council of cardinals’, explained that when faced with the difficult situations interreligious marriages can present, it’s always necessary to have a “positive pastoral approach” to the couples and families involved.

The cardinal was accompanied to the synod by Fr. Cajetan Menezes, who is director of the Bombay archdiocese’s Snehalaya Family Service Center.

Fr. Menezes has served as an auditor for the synod, and spoke to CNA Oct. 15 saying the topic of interreligious marriages was one of the three points he brought up when he addressed the synod fathers.

With the number of interreligious marriages on the rise across Asia, the priest said that it is an important issue, and one with which the Church needs to have a “very specific pastoral care.”

Although other countries might not share the pastoral difficulties caused by interreligious marriages, Fr. Menezes observed that “this is a big issue in Asia because we are a minority,” and cited India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Japan as countries with a high percentage of interreligious couples.

Fr. Menezes said that the synod’s emphasis on welcoming and inviting those who are far from the Church or who find themselves in situations that could be problematic is also a way of embracing those who have been ostracized because of interreligious challenges.

“I think it’s the first time I noticed (them) speaking a different (kind of) language, and I think that’s a very positive influence of Pope Francis, (who) is reaching out, welcoming, and also looking at not only those who are at the center, but at the periphery,” the priest said.

Returning to the situation in India, Cardinal Gracias said that Indians have traditionally maintained strong family ties but negative influences, including films challenge that tradition.

“I think that people are beginning to feel that this is not the best thing and we have got to try to reinforce the family,” he said. Noting that although a zero percent breakdown rate is impossible, he said: “It should not be 50 percent either.”?

However, he explained that much of a lasting family dynamic will depend on the preparation of the couple before marriage, as well as the process of accompanying them after the sacrament is contracted.

Source: Catholic news agency

Master plan demanded to protect Old Goa churches

Fatima Pereira, president of SOGAC, said these illegal activities have been going on for many years.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Old Goa that holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. File photo: Paul Noronha

Panaji:A group that fights mushrooming of illegal structures around world heritage churches of Old Goa has demanded a ‘Heritage Master Plan’ for the area since it is a recognized global heritage site, now facing a threat of losing its sheen.

The Save Old Goa Action Committee (SOGAC) that is spearheading the movement made the demand as the State is gearing for next month’s decennial Exposition of St. Xavier’s body at Bom Jesus Basilica Church at Old Goa.

Peter Viegas of SOGAC told The Hindu on Saturday that there are 14 ASI declared monuments, eight State protected sites and 18 unprotected sites. There could be some more undiscovered structures with historical importance in Old Goa since Kadambas, Adil Shah and Portuguese ruled the State for thousands of years.

The local people are agitating over growing cases of land shark-politician-builder nexus to grab the land and carry on illegal construction activities in and around the premises of the world heritage Churches.

Fatima Pereira, president of SOGAC, said these illegal activities have been going on for many years.

The activists say they have urged the government to initiate immediate steps to preserve and protect Old Goa from being swallowed by land sharks-builders-politicians nexus.

Articulating their concerns, they pointed out that recently 10 illegal migrant rented rooms and a shopping mall with many individual stalls have come up inside the Basilica compound by demolishing the compound wall at the western gate.

Several letters and representations have been made to the authority concerned such as Panchayat, ASI, Collector, Police and Director of Panchayat etc. from 2011 onwards.

Just as the government has formed a High Powered Exposition Committee with all the stake holders, SOGAC insists on a Heritage Master Plan.

Mr. Viegas expressed the need for formation of a regulatory authority for preservation of the world heritage structures through concerted effort of all stakeholders including the government, Archdiocese and non-governmental organisations.

Morover, the committee demanded demarcation of all State-protected monuments, and other sites and also sought demarcation of a 100-metre protected zone and 100-200 metre regulated zone for ASI and State-protected monuments.

Source: The Hindu




Dr. (Sr.) Mudita Sodder is regular contributor to SILENT VOICE;


English Proficiency Classes (EPC) is mandatory for all 1st and 2nd Year students of St Xavier’s College and St Xavier’s College of Management and Technology, Digha Ghat, Patna. When asked why, Dr (Fr) Nishaant S.J., the Principal of the college explained, “In order to explore the intersection of culturally responsive pedagogy and do justice and cater to the many vernacular medium students who join the colleges and have to listen to lectures in English, special English Proficiency Classes are held for those who score less than 80% in the Diagnostic Test. Those who score more than 80% are assigned to the Media Cell, where an expert trains them in creative writing and journalism.”


A streak of Xavierian enlightened madness this year began with a week-long Diwali Celebration from Thursday 16th October 2014. Instead of sombre sanity, St. Xavier’s Colleges decided to make EPC shine in the darkness even when the darkness does not comprehend it and the light of EPC flicker still against the withering winds, by teaching students English action songs and conducting English Language games in the canteen, thus using their kinaesthetic energy to create Garam Hava (sweat) keeping in line with the hot climate of Patna.


Another group of EPC students shut their eyes in deep meditation under ace guru, Fr Joe Kunnumpuram S.J, a counsellor, psychotherapist, healer, spiritual director, retreat giver, leadership-trainer and  Director of Atmadarshan, Patna who guided them into flights of fantasy helping them to introspect and at least feel their own warmth and goodness within and turn and see and understand that their deepest longings are not for power and pride nor for hate and violence but for peace and harmony, for forgiveness and love.


A riot of very creative and colourful activities, have been going on in every classroom, during EPC this week. Shivani of BCA Part I opined, “Deepavali the festival of Lights has already begun for me. My first year in college has been most exciting! I have learnt a lot of English and have gained much confidence in such a short time.” “I look forward to every English Proficiency Class wondering what novel technique the teacher will use to teach me English in an effective and creative way. I have never ever learnt English in such an interesting way before”, remarked Mukund Shivesh of BBA Part II.

Nishant Kumar a B.Com (Professional) Part II student said, “Ajay Sir is amazing! He keeps        us enthralled all through the English Proficiency Class. What’s more is the fact that he makes us do something in English in the class, gets each one to evaluate the same, collects our written responses at the end and then emails a very balanced and honest collective and individual feedback of those who have performed. His written comments are very endearing and helpful.”


“There is a lovely family spirit during EPC. We are only 32 students   in the class and the individual attention given to each of us and the sharing is very bonding. The Language Laboratory, phonetics, games, field trips and hands-on-experience is very bonding which makes the learning of English very enjoyable”, observes Alisha Ekka of BMC Part I.

Special English teachers are selected to take these English Proficiency Classes. They are trained with demonstration workshops, constant supervision and feedback, together with model lesson plans and guidelines. Teacher, student perspectives of academic achievements are examined by videotaping the oral performance of every student at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year in order to gauge the degree of culturally responsive caring and progress made thereby.

Dr (Sr) Mudita Sodder RSCJ co-ordinator of EPC at St Xavier Colleges commented, “If only we teachers/professors could connect and touch the lives of our students and make them a little more beautiful, joyful, lightsome and uplifting, then learning English or any other subject would be so much easier and fun. But then we teachers /professors would all need a little enlightened madness to try it out, yet knowing fully well that the alternative is only more of the same old, traditional, one-sided, boring lecture method of sombre sanity!  May this Diwali make us all a little Divana!

Dr (Sr) Mudita Menona Sodder RSCJ

17th October 2014

Patna, Bihar, India


Photo No 1 In the Canteen

Photo No 2 Meditation-Fr Joe S.J

Photo No 3 Depicting Sati in Art Form

Photo No 4 Using Kinaesthetic Energy

Photo No 5 Winners of the Talent Contest.



Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) has announced its annual Journalism Awards for 2014.  ICPA Awards are conferred every year on Christian journalists for their outstanding contributions to different fields of journalism.   Each of these national-level awards consists of Rs 10,000/- in cash, and a Citation. The prestigious awards in different categories are conferred on the recipients at the National Convention of Christian Journalists, held annually. This year, Thozhamai Illam, the Jesuit Retreat Centre, Kanya Kumari, will be the venue of the 2-day national convention scheduled to be held on 24th and 25th, October 2014. Most Rev. George Rajendran, sdb, Bishop of Thucklay, will preside over the award function.

 ICPA’s Fr Luis Carreno Award will be conferred on Reji Joseph, Chief Reporter of  Deepika (Kerala’s premier Catholic  Daily), a seasoned journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting. Reji has to his credit already over 50 national and state level awards for his special stories on fisher folk, orphaned children, neglected senior citizens, and the marginalized.  His reports, replete with Christian values and consistently promoting social justice and equality, have often prompted respective governments to take several corrective and remedial measures. The Award was constituted by the ICPA with the support of the Mumbai Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco in fond memory of Fr Luis Carreno, a Salesian missionary who worked in India for several years, himself a renowned Catholic author of his time.

Swami Devanand Chakkungal Award will be conferred on the Hindi Christian Fortnightly, Buland Prajathanthra (Strong Democracy) published from Delhi under the patronage of the Catholic Bishops of North India. Mrs Lucy Gabriel, the present Editor of the Fortnightly, will receive the Award on behalf of the publishers. Devanand Chakkungal Award for Hindi journalists/author or periodical was established in 2001 in memory of Fr Devanand Chakkungal, SVD, a well-known Hindi writer, and a passionate lover and promoter of Hindi Christian literature. ICPA has constituted the Award in association with the Indore Province of the Divine Word Missionaries to which Swami Chakkungal belonged.

SC/BC Special Award 2014, established in association with the CBCI Office for SC/BC, goes to Richard Joseph of Deepka/Rashtra Deepika, Trivandrum Bureau. Richard Joseph has been awarded the SC/BC Special Award taking into account his consistent journalistic efforts in promoting the cause of the people of Schedule Caste/ Backward Class origin. Of special significance is his series of reports published in Deepika about the children from the tribal settlement of Eeyakode in Kerala, who dropped out of schools, which went unnoticed by the education ministry for many years. His reports prompted the then State education minister to order immediate action, and get the children back to school.                      — Fr Alfonso Elengikal


Karnataka rejects report on Mangalore church attacks


A series of anti-Christian attacks happened in Mangalore within months after state’s first BJP government led by the B S Yeddyurappa came to power.

File photo.

Mangalore: The Karnataka State Cabinet on Thursday decided to reject the B K Somashekar Judicial Inquiry Commission report into the infamous series of church attacks in Mangalore.

Christian groups and leaders have been demanding rejection of this report with demonstrations and memoranda ever since it was submitted to the former BJP government. The groups demanding the rejection included Karnataka United Christians Forum for Human Rights, led by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore.

A series of anti-Christian attacks happened in Mangalore and other parts of coastal Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chikmaglur in 2008, within months after state’s first BJP government led by the B S Yeddyurappa came to power.

The present state cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah, took note of the contradictory findings in panel report submitted to the government.

It also directed the State Home Department to take action against the perpetrators of the attacks based on the nine-point recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Karnataka’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra, who briefed the reporters after the State Cabinet meeting, said when the report was submitted to the BJP government, he and other Congress leaders then in opposition, had termed the report as “politically motivated” attempt “to exonerate the Sangh Parivar outfits” like Bajrang Dal, Sri Ram Sene and even Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The NHRC had recommended compensation to the victims and also the churches and other places of worship belonging to the Christian minority community and taking steps to prevent recurrence of such violence.

The Hindu group attacked Christians accusing pastors of engaging in “forcible conversion” with support of the police and tacit approval of the adminstration.

NHRC wanted stringent action against the police officers who supported the attackers and even beaten up the arrested Christians in police custody.

To a specific question on the NHRC recommendations appeared to be “totally one-sided,” Jayachandra said: “NHRC is a statutory body. We have merely asked the Home Department to look into them and take appropriate action.”

Source: Daijiworld

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