Women can be parish in-charge: Cardinal Gracias

October 24, 2019 Matters India


Cardinal Oswald

By Christopher White

Rome, October 24, 2019: Catholic bishops are not fully utilizing Church law to maximize the role of women in decision making capacities, Cardinal Oswald Gracias said on October 23.

While acknowledging that women are unable to hear confession, say Mass, or administer confirmation, “she can do practically everything else,” said Gracias. “Women can even be in charge of a parish according to Church law.”

The cardinal’s remarks came during a press briefing as the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon nears its final conclusion this week, where the role of women in the Church has been a repeated theme as the Church considers how to better respond to the pastoral needs of the Amazon region.

“We must use all of this,” Cardinal Gracias added, noting that Pope Francis “very [much] wants decentralization,” and for bishops to enact changes where they can already do so without the permission of the Holy See.

In addition to being the archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Gracias serves on Pope Francis’s Council of Cardinal Advisers.

The role of women in the Church dominated much of the press conference with several of the other representatives from the Amazon speaking for the need for concrete and tangible action, while steering clear of addressing the question of women’s ordination to the diaconate, which is anticipated to be addressed in some form in the Synod’s final document.

Bishop Ricardo Ernesto Centellas Guzmán of Potosí, Bolivia, who heads the country’s bishops’ conference, also called for a change in “mindset” when it comes to women in the Church.

“We all have to change our mentality to make sure participation of women becomes authentic and that is equitable and fair,” he said.

At present, he said the role of women who are involved in decision-making power is “very low,” adding that in some places it is “almost invisible.”

“Things must change by starting with the smaller things,” he said, noting that work in the parish level and local communities is the place to start. He specifically called out pastoral councils that only give women consultation status, without any real decision making abilities.

A walking Church, he said, included “walking together and deciding together,” adding “otherwise we will be limping together, not walking.”

Sister Roselei Bertoldo, a nun from Brazil who works in human trafficking, echoed his words, telling reporters that the structure of the Church is often focused on men when it comes to questions of authority.

“We want to become the protagonist in this process,” she said. “We will not keep silent. We want space, and we will start building a space.”

Also a part of the discussion on October 23 was the theme of inculturation and how to best adapt the practices of the faith to the Amazon region in a specific way that is mindful of local customs and traditions.

Inculturation, said Cardinal Gracias, “flows from the Incarnation. Our Lord became incarnated.”

Historically, he said when discussion of inculturation has been raised, the focus has been on questions of liturgy, which he deemed to be a “mistake” in its singular scope.

He argued for the need for greater consideration of question of inculturation when it comes to priestly formation, seminaries, and their staffs.

The Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is set to conclude with a Mass on October 27.

On October 26, the bishops will vote on the final document, which on October 23, Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, said would not be the end result of the Synod, but rather a “tool” that “everyone can use to take steps forward.”

Source: cruxnow.com

Kerala nun elevated to sainthood

Pope Francis canonises Mariam Thresia along with three others; she
was beatified by Pope John Paul in 2000


People gather at shrine of Mother Mariam (right) on Sunday

Indian nun Mariam Thresia and four others were declared Saints by Pope Francis at a grand ceremony at
the Vatican City on Sunday.
Mariam Thresia, who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family in Thrissur in May1914,
was raised to the highest position within the centuries-old institution during the ceremony at the St Peter’s
The nun from Kerala was canonised along with English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Swiss laywoman
Marguerite Bays, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes and Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini. “Today we give
thanks to the Lord for our new Saints,” Pope Francis told the gathering.
Huge portraits of the five new Saints were hung from Saint Peter’s Basilica during the ceremony, which
was attended by tens of thousands of devotees. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan led
the Indian delegation at the ceremony. The event was also attended by Prince Charles.
Noting that three of the new saints canonised on Sunday were religious women, the pope said, they show
“us that the consecrated life is a journey of love to the existential peripheries of the world”.
Mariam Thresia was called during the first half of her life simply Thresia, the name given to her at baptism
on May 3,1876. Since1904, she wanted to be called Mariam Thresia as she believed that she was asked to
add ‘Mariam’ to her name by the Blessed Virgin Mary in a vision. It was as Mariam Thresia that she was
professed in 1914, the founder and first member of the Congregation of the Holy Family.
“In imitation of Jesus, she helped the poor, nursed the sick, visited and comforted the lonely people of her
parish. She was also blessed with the stigmata but kept it secret to avoid attention. She received several
mystical gifts like prophecy, healing, an aura of light, sweet odour and frequently had ecstasies and
levitations. Her entire existence was tormented by demons and she offered her sufferings for the remission
of the sins of the world,” the Vatican News said.
Sister Thresia died on June 8, 1926 at the age of 50 and was declared Blessed by Pope Saint John Paul II
on April 9, 2000.



Vatican may try priests on charges related to sex abuse at pre-seminary

Formally requesting indictment against the two priests required the personal intervention of the pope.

Vatican City:  The Vatican City State prosecuting attorney requested an indictment against two priests on charges related to the sexual abuse of boys at a minor seminary located at the Vatican.

Following an investigation that began in November 2017, the Vatican prosecuting attorney issued notices Sept. 16 and Sept. 17 requesting that Father Gabriele Martinelli be tried for sexual abuse allegedly committed in the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary and that Father Enrico Radice, former rector of the seminary, be tried for aiding and abetting the abuse, the Vatican press office announced Sept. 17.

The alleged abuse occurred prior to 2012, the statement said.

Formally requesting the indictment against the two required the personal intervention of Pope Francis, the statement said, because at the time the crimes allegedly occurred, Vatican law required the victim himself to make the accusation within one year of the crime’s occurrence.

The request for the indictments “was possible by virtue of a specific provision made by the Holy Father July 29,” the Vatican statement said.

The pre-seminary is run by Diocese of Como, Italy, but located inside the Vatican. Boys in middle school and high school live there, serve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and attend a Catholic school in Rome while considering applying to a seminary when they are older.

Reports of abuse began circulating in 2013 and were investigated by seminary staff and the Diocese of Como, the Vatican had said in November when it opened its own criminal investigation following media reports and a book that repeated the allegations.

In his book, “Original Sin,” the Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose books based on leaked Vatican documents were at the heart of two other Vatican trials, had written about one student sexually abusing another at the seminary.

The Italian television program “Le Iene” followed up with a program featuring an interview with a young Polish man, identified only as 21-year-old Kamil, who said he arrived at the pre-seminary at age 13, wanting to be an altar server for the pope. He said he was thinking only vaguely of becoming a priest one day.

Kamil claimed another student, one given responsibility by the rector for determining the liturgical roles of all the students at papal Masses, regularly sexually abused his roommate.

Kamil said the older student would come into their room at night, get into bed with his roommate and abuse him. The alleged abuser was ordained to the priesthood in June 2017, “Le Iene” reported.

Father Martinelli, 26, now a priest of the Diocese of Como, allegedly is the older seminarian. Italian authorities have been conducting their own investigation of him.

Source: CNS

Priest bailed amid anti-Christian campaign in Jharkhand

But catechist still in jail as thousands demand arrests for attack on Jesuit college.

Thousands of tribal Christians march Sept. 16 through the town of Sahibganj, Jharkhand state, demanding the arrest of vandals who attacked a Jesuit-run college Sept. 3. (Photos supplied).


Bhopal:  A court in Jharkhand state, eastern India, has granted bail to a Catholic priest, as some 3,000 mostly tribal people staged a protest demanding the arrest of vandals who attacked a church-run college.

Father V.J. Binoy and catechist Munna Hansda of Bhagalpur Diocese were arrested Sept. 7, in their Rajadah mission area of Godda district, accused of land-grabbing and engaging in forced religious conversions.

Father Binoy was admitted to a hospital immediately after his release Sept. 16 after complaining of nausea and general weakness, said Father N. M. Thomas, vicar general of Bhagalpur Diocese, to which the priest and catechist belong.

A mob of some 500 suspected Hindu hardliners vandalized the Jesuit-run St. John Berchmans College Sept. 3 and a hostel for tribal students attached to it in the town of Sahibganj.

The attackers were armed “with wooden sticks, iron rods, pipes, knives, pistols, bricks and stones,” said the college secretary, Father Thomas Kuzhively. “The irony is that almost a fortnight after the attack no action has been taken against the accused.”

The bigger, ‘anti-Christian’ picture

The targeting of Christians is part of a larger plan to tarnish missions in the villages that attract poor and illiterate people seeking education and healthcare, Christian leaders say.

Father Thomas said the case against Father Binoy and the catechist were “absolutely baseless but part of a plan.”

He said an anti-Christian campaign had been going on in the state since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power locally and nationally in 2014. The government is accused of supporting the Hindu groups orchestrating violence against Christians.

Father Thomas said lawyers of the diocese were “in the process” of getting the catechist out on bail. “We hope he will be out shortly,” he told ucanews.com.

Two others also face charges

Two villagers — village head Rameshwar Thakur, Hindu and Charlis Hansda, a Catholic — have been accused of the same offenses but have reportedly absconded.

The four have been accused of violating the state’s stringent anti-conversion law, which prohibits religious conversion through allurement or force and without informing government authorities.

They are also charged with several violations of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal intimidation of villagers, injuring or defiling places of worship, and deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of others.

They have also been accused of grabbing protected tribal land in violation of state laws that restrain a tribal person from selling his land to non-tribals.

Tribal people constitute 16 percent of the 32 million people in Jharkhand. The state has about 1.5 million Christians or 4.3 percent of the population, almost double the 2.3 percent figure for India as a whole.

Source: UCAN

An Indian journalist’s struggle for a free media

Ravish Kumar wins Magsaysay Award for his efforts to preserve and promote critical, socially responsible journalism.

India:  In the age of instant information via social media, an Indian journalist has been working to create a “space for ethical journalism” in the so-called mainstream media.

For his “people-centered reporting,” Ravish Kumar of India’s New Delhi Television Network has been named one of this year’s recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, “Asia’s Nobel Prize.”

Raised in Jitwarpur, a village in Bihar, northeast India, Kumar pursued his early interest in history and public affairs through postgraduate studies in history at Delhi University.

In 1996, he joined New Delhi Television Network, one of India’s leading TV networks and worked his way up from a field reporter.

After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel — NDTV India — targeting the country’s 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show, “Prime Time.”

Today, as NDTV India’s managing editor, Kumar is one of India’s most influential television journalists.

With “Prime Time,” Kumar was able to provide a voice to people whose opinions about issues are often ignored.

Through the years, he has interacted easily with people, especially the poor, generating unique stories that he also uploads on social media.

All the while, the television host insists on the “professional values of sober, balanced, and fact-based reporting.”

Kumar’s kind of journalism, however, brought in critics, and even “haters.” He has received death threats and has been harassed by extremist groups and politicians.

Threats to media

Being a journalist in India today is not easy.

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index released by the group Reporters Without Borders notes that Indian journalists are being attacked online as well as in the field.

It noted that all those who dare to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist ideology are branded “anti-Indian scum who must be purged.”

Kumar said the report only validates claims that the media in Asia “is in very bad shape.”

He said big corporations and governments have connived to “ideologically transform and radicalize” newsrooms into “an extended arm for propaganda.”

He said television is being used as a venue to propagate hate.

“The community is completely divided and the media is indulging in spreading hatred,” he added.

India’s media have always faced challenges in the past, “but they never propagated divisive policies,” said the journalist.

“Now, this has become legitimate. This has become a reference point of media ‘deteriorism,'” he said. “This is very saddening.”

No space for good journalism

Kumar said corporate houses, which own most news services in India, have become propaganda machines of the government.

“They are sacking good journalists who are not writing propaganda,” he said.

There are more than 800 television news channels in India with about 900 private satellite television stations operating, half of which devote their time to news coverage.

Added to these are 17,000 newspaper titles with a circulation of more than 400 million. As of March 2019, there were 560 million internet users in India, the second largest number in the world after China.

Kumar said whatever is going on in media space is controlled by big businesses with “very less space left for real journalism.”

He said that in the past news channels that broadcast racism did not get advertising. “Now, the more racist you are, the more advertisements you get,” he said.

“There is ample space to say anything that suits the government but there is less space for truth-telling,” he said.

‘People-centered journalism’

Media watchdogs have been warning against increasing violence committed against journalists in India. Journalists who openly criticized the government lost their jobs.

Kumar said there are many good journalists in India but their influence in mainstream media has shrunk in recent years. “Today, they are on Twitter,” said Kumar.

“They spend their time on social media to criticize and question everything,” he said because good journalists receive no support and are even attacked.

He warned that the media industry will not survive “unless we reform mainstream media.”

Kumar said there is still hope and a lot of reasons for journalists to continue but they should strive to create a “space for journalism that puts service to the people at its center.”

He said journalists have a duty to tell the public that the media has been hijacked by people in power.

In awarding Kumar the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the award panel body recognized his “unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards.”

Source: UCAN

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