All India Catholic Union

Founded in 1919, Registered under Societies Registration Act 1860
Representating the Catholic Laity of India through 120 Diocesan Units Nationwide

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Zonal Rink Football tournament

The Vikhroli Unit of The Bombay Catholic Sabha organised a Zonal Rink Football tournament on Sunday, 25th March, 2018 at the Ravindra Mhatre grounds, Vikhroli East. Thirteen teams from the Community participated in this event. The average attendance on the ground was in the region of 450 to 500 persons. The purpose of organizing this tournament is to encourage n inculcate a competitive spirit and fair play in the game. We are grateful and owe our sincere thanks to our sponsors n benefactors for their support n encouragement in order to make this event a reality . We thank the under mentioned persons for gracing the event with their presence for which we are grateful. 1. Mrs. Janet Dsouza General Secretary, All Indian Mahila Congress 2. Mr. Lawrence Dsouza Ex. Vice President BCS. 3. Mr. Raphael Dsouza President AICU. 4. Senior inspector of Police Mr. Sanjay More from Vikhroli Police Station. 5. Mr. Bona Misquitta Thane Deanery Councillor . 6. Mr. Ivan Lemos Executive Committe member . 7. Mr. Felix Aranha Executive Committee member 8. Mrs. Pauline Serro Vice Chairperson Mulund unit 9. Mrs. Manisha Rahate NCP corporator 10. Mr. Upendre Sawant Shiv Sena Corporator 11. Mr. Jayant Dandekar MNS Ward President 12. Mr. Prashant Das NCP Taluka President. The Winners were awarded a cash prize together with an attractive trophy and gold medals. The Runners up were awarded cash prize along with a trophy n Silver medals. The third Place were awarded cash prize a trophy n Bronze medals. In addition Trophies of appreciation and mementos were awarded to various categories - Outstanding Player of the tournament , best Goalkeeper , up Coming players. We owe our thanks and gratitude to our main sponsors M/s. Godrej Industries, The Model Cooperative Bank and Aaron travels.

UN marks International Day of Happiness

Every year on March 20, the United Nations invites each person of any age, plus every classroom, business and government to join in celebrating the International Day of Happiness. Happiness and well-being The UN General Assembly, in a resolution document on July 12, 2012, declared the annual observance recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world and the importance of their recognition in public policy objectives. The resolution also recognized the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples. Happiness report On the occasion of World Happiness day, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network publishes the World Happiness Report which contains rankings of national happiness and analysis of the data from various perspectives. The main focus of this year’s report, in addition to its usual ranking of the levels and changes in happiness around the world, is on migrationwithin and between countries. Finland the happiest Finland came out on top in the happiness scale. It was followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. All the top countries tend to have high values for all six of the key variables that have been found to support well-being: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Finland topped both the rankings, with the happiest immigrants, and the happiest population in general. Worst performers Burundi, that has had problems of civil wars, coup attempts, poverty and security, took over from the Central African Republic as the unhappiest place in the world. Surprisingly, five other nations, viz. Rwanda, Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and the Central African Republic – rank below Syria in the happiness report.

UN chief on Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations chief has called on people worldwide to think about how they can better promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for diversity. “It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on the eve of the March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Much remains to be done In a speech to the General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, he noted that while there has been progress since the Declaration’s adoption 70 years ago – for example, in the advancement of the rights of women, children, indigenous people and persons with disabilities – there is still far to go in ending discriminatory attitudes, actions and practices. He cited the case of the “egregious treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar,” anti-Semitismand anti-Muslim hatred. The 21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the 69 people killed during a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, on that day in 1960. The UN General Assembly proclaimed the international day in 1966 to increase its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. Growing intolerance Guterres expressed concern over issues such as gender inequality, “alarming rise” in xenophobia, racism and intolerance, and a resurgence in far-right political parties and neo-Nazi viewpoints. Refugees and migrants, he noted, are also being denied their rights, apart from being falsely vilified as threats to the societies they seek to join. Hate mongers The Secretary-General urged all to “eliminate messages of hatred – the concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’; the false attitude that we can accept some and reject and exclude others simply for how they look, where they worship or who they love.” The UN Secy-Gen urged all to "stand up to leaders who spread their toxic vison of racial superiority — especially when they couch it in sanitized language to denigrate migrants and foreigners." He spoke abut the urgency to protect young people from these forces of intolerance and division. "We cannot allow extremist ideologies to become normalized and legitimized in our societies," Guterres added.

Cardinal Gracias meets Modi on anti-Christian violence, papal visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broken his silence over growing violence against Christians in the country, assuring he will look into the matter. PM’s assurance "I'm the prime minister for all Indians, irrespective of caste and creed, and if there is any issue you can come directly to me and we can look at it," Modi assured Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, who met him at the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi on March 20. Speaking to the media after the meeting, the cardinal who is president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) cited Modi as saying his first priority was the welfare of the people and the eradication of poverty. The president of India’s Catholic bishops drew the attention of the prime minister to “sporadic attacks on minority institutions and personnel in different parts of the country,” such as the recent attack and vandalism on a Catholic hospital in Ujjain. He told the premier that a strong message from him that such acts of violence will harm the country will help not only allay the fears of the affected community but discourage “misguided people from creating mischiefs.” “We are a small community but our contribution to nation building is between 15 to 20 percent,” the cardinal told the prime minister. Cordial meeting MattersIndia reported Cardinal Gracias describing the meeting as “open, cordial and frank” that helped the two leaders know each other better. The prime minister assured the cardinal his doors were always open for him and that he could meet him whenever he wanted on any issue. CBCI deputy secretary general, Monsignor Joseph Chinnayyan who accompanied the cardinal, said it was a one-to-one session with the prime minister. “This was the first time a Church leader has such meeting with the prime minister. Normally, we meet the prime minister or the president in groups,” MattersIndia reported. Cardinal Gracias is also the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) and a member of the Council of Cardinals (C9), the group of nine cardinals chosen by Pope Francis to advise him on his reform efforts. Papal visit not in sight During his encounter with Modi, the 73-year old cardinal also made another attempt at a possible visit by Pope Francis to the country. "I told the prime minister about the great love and acceptance of the Pope among the people in the world, also in India, and having him in India will benefit the country,” Cardinal Gracias told journalists. Modi listened "attentively" but did not make any commitment to invite the pontiff. "I reminded the prime minister of the Church's contribution in the fields of education, health and social issues and that it would like to do so in future and be part of nation building," said Cardinal Gracias. "Although we [Catholics] are a small minority group, some 2 percent of the population in the country, for centuries the Church has been at the forefront of education and health and serving the poor." Pope’s desire to visit India Pope Francis had first expressed a desire to visit India two years ago. During his flight back from a trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan on Oct 2, 2016, he said he would "almost certainly" visit India and Bangladesh in 2017. On February 7, 2017, three Indian cardinals, including Cardinal Gracias, had met Modi in New Delhi, to discuss the possibility of a papal visit. Indian Christians felt optimistic when a bishops’ press release following the meeting said, “ the government holds a favorable attitude toward the Pope's visit to India.” However, despite efforts by India’s bishops, the 2017 visit never materialized because of foot-dragging by the government that is led by the pro-Hindu BharatiyaJanataPatry (BJP). In an interview to National Catholic Reporter on June 15, 2017, Cardinal Gracias said, "I am beginning to lose hope about 2017."

Christian body celebrates 25 years in Delhi

New Delhi:Celebrating the life of peace, unity and renewing their faith, an ecumenical movement organization, Tangkhul Christian Fellowship Delhi (TCFD) marked the 25th years of Silver Jubilee celebration at the St. Xavier's Senior Secondary School recently here. TCFD strives to develop closer relationships and better understanding between several Christian denominations while establishing home away from home. Speakers from various faiths enlightened the community and stressed on the theme of the 25th anniversary, 'United in Christ' and 'United in Witness". As part of the Silver Jubilee celebration, a documented booklet history of the fellowship was released by Archbishop Emeritus Vincent M. Concessao of Delhi, who is the Co-Convener of United Christian Prayer for India. Since its inception in 1993, the fellowship has overcome several hurdles while executing the ideology of ecumenism among the community. Events and festivals of the north-eastern region often bring them together to enrich their growth together socially and spiritually, hence standing out with their culture in the hub of multi-cultural society like Delhi. "The objective of this fellowship is to have a common platform for the Tangkhul Christians living in and around Delhi and NCR. Also, it aims to show respect for one another, to have more tolerant society among the community in Delhi and we also believe in the ecumenical movement in the church institution," said TCFD Chairman, WorsoZimik. During the cultural event, one of the first well-known all girls band from Northeast, 'Minute of Decay' enthralled the audience. A choreography staged by the University Evangelical Fellowship Delhi team showcased their performance about life's problems and obstacles with the absence of unity in the society. "This is a very important occasion for us because this is not only for the celebration in itself but the introspection of the past that we had vouched to safeguard for 25 years. When we were in Delhi in 1993, we were about 300 of us and most of us were students. And, we thought we should have one community fellowship, a fellowship for the Tangkhul Christians," added TCFD, Board of Advisors Chairman, DrReisangVashum. The TCFD platform not only ensures spiritual growth of the community but also enhances to improve the social upbringing of the people in the modern society. At the same time, such event propagates the essence of togetherness and promotes national integrity in broader manner.

Christians in Jammu village resist ‘gharwapasi’, allege boycott

Nowshera:Since the death of a woman who was allegedly forcibly converted to Christianity triggered violence here in January, nearly 45 Christian families of this village and neighbouring ones in Rajouri district of Jammu have converted to Hinduism — in a process that local BJP MLA RavinderRaina calls “gharwapasi”. The four Christian families in Sehyal that refused to convert, and are now being guarded by a police post and 17 personnel, have alleged social boycott — with their shops being targeted and their children reportedly unable to give exams or report to work, for fear of being attacked. Denying there is any boycott,Raina blames those “converting poor people through force and deceit”. “I had arranged a meeting and now all the villagers are living together amicably. Everything is okay now… All those who converted have returned ‘home’,” he says. Additional Superintendent of Police, Nowshera, MasterPopsy too denies any member of the minority community at Sehyal is facing any ostracisation. “We have deployed police force to ensure law and order,” he adds. However, Priya, 18, and her elder brother Kala Ram say they are scared to leave home. Priya is afraid to travel to her school at Bajabain, 8 km away since people in the area are hostile to them. “I did not even collect my roll number slip from school to appear in the Class 12 exams.” Kala Ram, who fears Priya may be “abducted on way to school”, says he hasn’t plied his auto between BeriPattan and Sunderbani, earning Rs 200-300 daily, for days. “No one in the village talks to us,” he says. Kala Ram and Priya are the youngest children of Baldev Raj and Beero Devi. Of their five other children, one is in the CRPF. Trouble erupted on January 15 following the death of a newlywed, Seema Devi. Tempers rose when her husband Rinku Kumar sought to perform Seema’s last rites as per Christian religion. Thousands of villagers gathered from nearby Kangri, Bajabain and other areas and set ablaze a prayer hall used by Christians to hold Sunday prayers. The prayer hall had been opened in two shops owned by Baldev’s family. The mob then seized control of Seema’s body and cremated it forcibly, in the process setting ablaze two other shops owned by Baldev and his family, which stood adjacent. Agricultural appliances, including a tractor, kept in the shops were destroyed. Police registered a case of arson. But while no one has been arrested so far for it, Rinku was held by police on a complaint from Seema’s parents, alleging cheating and forcible conversion of their daughter to Christianity. A predominantly Hindu village of around 300 households, Sehyal has seen 40-50 Vasith families convert to Christianity over the past decade. After the violence in January, community elders at Sehyal and Kangri asked the families to go to Hardwar and take a dip in the Ganga and perform yagna to convert, with the warning that they would be ostracised otherwise. All the families except the four returned to the community. Jaggar Singh, 45, of Nimke village, who is among those who have reconverted to Vasith, says they did so out of fear, after community leaders threatened social boycott. “They said we had become impure, we would have to be purified,” Jaggar says, adding they were taken to a temple in Janipur area. Jaggar adds that even after this temple visit, “our boycott continues”. Kala Ram says his family is determined to hold out despite the pressure. “We want to know our fault. It is our right to profess the religion of our choice,” he says.

Church people welcome jail term for lynching

Bhopal:An Indian court has jailed 11 people for life for lynching a Muslim man suspected of possessing beef in a landmark case that church leaders say will help to check increasing violence against religious minorities. It is the first time a court has punished perpetrators of cow-related violence in the country, according to Persecution Relief director Shibu Thomas. A fast-track court in Ramgarh district of eastern Jharkhand state on March 21 sentenced the men belonging to a group of Hindu cow vigilantes after finding them guilty of beating to death Muslim meat trader Asgar Ansari on June 29 last year. The conviction "is a reassurance to all those victims of cow vigilantes and other anti-minority attackers that rule of law exists in the country and it will take its own course," said Thomas. Thomas, whose organization documents anti-Christian violence and helps victims of persecution, said cow vigilantes have created havoc with their unchecked action to protect cows, which are revered by orthodox Hindus. "This judgment is a landmark," he said. "It is not the judiciary alone. The police department also deserves special appreciation. The case could not have resulted in punishment without the impartial and genuine investigation and filing charges of the police." Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega said the judgment will work as a deterrent against violent Hindu groups in Jharkhand state attacking religious minorities, particularly Christians. He said a general feeling existed among many people that cow vigilantes operated with the tacit support of the state administration including police. "But this order has proved beyond doubt that if investigators work genuinely, there can be more convictions in similar cases," the bishop said. Cow vigilantism gained widespread attention when Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched for allegedly possessing beef in his home in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, in September 2015. Laboratory tests proved the meat was not beef. Since the pro-Hindu BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, such incidents have increased with no government official condemning them. Since May 2015, at least 12 people have been killed over the issue. At least 25 Indians have been killed in cow-related violence since 2010 and 21 of them were Muslims, according to a recent report by IndiaSpend, a data website. At least 139 people were also injured in these attacks. More than half of the attacks were based on rumors, it said. The attacks included mob lynching, murder and attempted murder, harassment, assault and gang rape. In two attacks, victims were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others they were hanged. Hindu attacks against Christians have also increased since the BJP came to power, with 736 reported attacks in 2017, up from 348 in 2016, said Persecution Relief

Archbishop Moras to flag-off inter-denomination run on Mar 24

Bengaluru:Archbishop Bernard Moras, administrator of Bengaluru archdiocese, will flag off the second edition of Salvation Run, a faith-based sporting initiative conceptualized to unite Christians from all denominations. The church heads of various Christian denominations and eminent personalities will be present for the event to be held at 6:30 am on March 24, at St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral in Frazer town in Bengaluru. The Salvation Run (5k Run and 3K Walk) is organized by New Life Sports and Fitness Academy and promoted under the leadership of All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights. About 1,500 people are expected to participate in the event, said Elvis Joseph, the head of the organizing committee. This unique initiative marks the Holy Week leading towards crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, thereby bringing salvation to the world. Salvation Run will be an inter-church sporting initiative empowering lives through the sport of running, disciplining oneself with a strong gospel foundation, healthy lifestyle and a purposeful living, observed the organizers. The run has been the brainchild of Elvis Joseph, a former state athlete and sports management professional, who initiated the first Christian run bringing leaders from across all churches and denominations. The initiative to endorse and engage in a faith-motivated sports and healthy lifestyle, apart from creating a thrill of competition, brings out a sense of community and fellowship that comes from participation. Elvis firmly believes that “This is the need of the hour for Christian believers to learn how to achieve their highest potential in all areas of life with consistency of practice in faith and obedience through mentoring by the Word of God. The purpose of Salvation Run focuses on promoting and educating to endure good health and to "Run the Race Set before us”. There is a purpose behind everything, and the creation of the human body is no different. Thus regular exercise, proper diet, getting enough rest and appropriate social activities will benefit physically, mentally and spiritually.”

Church groups oppose Kerala communists' liquor policy

Kochi:Church groups in India are up in arms over the liberalized liquor policy of Kerala's communist-led government, which they say looks for revenue without considering the adverse impact of alcoholism on society. The Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council and other church bodies plan protests demanding the withdrawal of the policy, which comes into effect on April 2 after being approved on March 14. The policy will allow unbridled sales of liquor that could create addiction among people, turning hundreds of poor workers and youths into alcoholics and pushing their families to poverty and breakups, church leaders fear. The church in Kerala will "observe April 2 as a black day. Protest meetings will be held at all parishes and 31 diocese centers in the state because it is moral issue," said Bishop RemigioseInchananiyil of Thamarassery, who heads the anti-liquor committee of the regional bishops' conference. Kerala's left-wing coalition government that came to power in May 2016 abandoned the previous government's policy of seeking total prohibition of alcohol. The Congress-led government started in 2014 a policy of closing down 10 percent of alcohol outlets every year to phase out alcohol sales by 2023. The communist-led government opened all the closed outlets including bars, while they have also found ways to open more bars in most villages, Bishop Inchananiyil said. Citing a Supreme Court directive that stated that village bodies that house more than 10,000 people can be considered townships, the government plans to issue licenses to open bars and beer parlors in most parts of Kerala, critics say. Only 12 of the 942 village bodies have fewer than 10,000 people. "The government is trying to spoil the future of the youth and families in Kerala. Our protests are not meant for any particular community. Both Muslim and Hindu communities have extended their support to our anti-liquor campaign," Bishop Inchananiyil said. Anti-liquor committee secretary Father Jacob Vellamaruthunkal told that the church's campaign is a social cause. "It is for the welfare of the entire state. Consumption of alcohol is a social sin and it has to be weeded out," he said. The government claims its alcohol policy aims to attract tourists but its intentions are to increase revenue from alcohol, critics say. Alcohol is taxed at more than 200 percent in Kerala. Alcohol sales, both wholesale and retail, belong to a state monopoly done through Kerala State Beverages Corporation, which was the largest revenue earner for the state government in 2014. In 2014, the corporation recorded a profit of US$22 million and it increased to US$23 million in 2015 but fell to US$5.7 million in 2016. "The profit fell because of several reasons including tax and pricing issues," said corporation financial manager V.G. Shaji. "But sales have not decreased in all these years." Published documents show that sales have been increasing every year since the corporation was founded in 1984, growing 100 percent or more every five years. It sold liquor worth US$1.84 billion in 2016, compared to US$498 million in 2006. State Excise Minister T.P. Ramakrishnan told media on March 18 that the government's policy is to encourage abstinence from alcohol but not impose prohibition. However, the government is ready to talk to any group, including the church, to allay their fears, he said. "No one needs to have any concern. Our policy on liquor is to follow the policy of abstinence and not head towards prohibition ... that's what we have said in our election manifesto," he said. Father Vellamaruthunkal said the church has no plan to hold talks with government on the issue. "However, our doors are always open to talks," he told.

Modi holds off again on inviting Pope Francis to India

New Delhi:Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to be non-committal on inviting Pope Francis to the country despite requests from church leaders as sporadic violence and intimidation against Christians continue across India. Less than a year after the Vatican gave up in frustration on a planned visit by the pontiff to the world's second most populous country in 2018, turning instead toward strife-torn Myanmar and Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Cardinal Oswald Gracias failed to get agreement for a papal tour from the leader of the Hindu-centric BharatiyaJanata Party in a rare meeting with Modi on March 20. "I told the prime minister about the great love and acceptance of the pope among the people in the world, also in India, and having him in India will benefit the country," Cardinal Gracias told media after the meeting. He added that Modi had listened "attentively" but did not make any commitment to inviting the pontiff to India. Observers suggested that Modi would be unlikely to invite the pope — a diplomatic necessity as the Vatican is a sovereign state — before the April 2019 general election. "I reminded the prime minister of the church's contribution in the fields of education, health and social issues and that it would like to do so in future and be part of nation building," said Cardinal Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay. "Although we [Catholics] are a small minority group, some 2 percent of the population in the country, for centuries the church has been at the forefront of education and health and serving the poor." Cardinal Gracias, who is also president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, said he also drew Modi's attention to the situation facing minority communities in India, including a recent attack on a Catholic hospital and nuns in Ujjain. He said Modi responded very positively and said: "I'm the prime minister for all Indians, irrespective of caste and creed, and if there is any issue you can come directly to me and we can look at it." But the main focus of Indian media in terms of the church is now the land controversy concerning Cardinal George Alencherry of Ernakulam-Angamaly, who together with some of his staff has been charged over suspect land deals. "The entire church is with Cardinal Alencherry but we respect the law and so will let the judiciary decide," said Cardinal Gracias, a canon law expert. Cardinal Alencherry and his team have been accused of selling prime land at undervalued prices, causing losses to the archdiocese. As head of the church, he is the titular owner of all church land in the archdiocese. The controversy has raised the prospect of a special Kerala land act, which was put on ice after being written about a decade ago by the late V.R. Krishna Iyer, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India and a member of the Law Reform Commission. "I am not in favor of the land act proposed in the Kerala church because we have more than enough internal law to check corruption, everything is audited from time to time and there is transparency," said Cardinal Gracias. "I am afraid if the land act comes, it could be misused and will do more harm to the church than good."

Pope's message for WYD: Do not be afraid!

Pope Francis’ message for the 33rd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at diocesan level on Palm Sunday, March 25th, focuses on helping young people to overcome their fears and discern their true vocation By PhilippaHitchen In the message, published by the Vatican on Thursday, the Pope notes that the forthcoming celebration marks another step in preparation for the international World Youth Day which is due to take place in Panama in January 2019. It also precedes the Synod of Bishops on the theme of youth which is scheduled for October this year, highlighting the importance of young people in the life of the whole Church. Name your fears Reflecting on the words of the Angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid!”, spoken to Mary in St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis asks young people to name their own fears. Today, he says, there are many youngsters who continuously photo-shop their images or hide behind false identities, in an attempt to adapt to artificial and unattainable standards. The uncertainty of the jobs market, a sense of inadequacy and a lack of emotional security are other fears which afflict young people, he says. Importance of discernment In moments when doubts and fears flood our hearts, the Pope continues, discernment is vital so that we don’t waste energy being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. The Bible doesn’t ignore the human experience of fear, he says, noting how Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, the apostles and even Jesus himself experienced fear and anguish. The phrase “Do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times in the Bible, the Pope says, “as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year”. Don't hide behind screens Pope Francis says discernment should not just be an individual effort at introspection, but also means opening ourselves up to God and to others who can guide us through their own experience. Authentic Christians, he insists, are not afraid to open themselves to others and he urges young people not to close themselves up in a dark room “in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone”. Do you accept the challenge? Just as the Angel calls Mary by name, the Pope continues, so each one of us is called personally by God. Through God’s grace, we can take courage, despite all the doubts, difficulties and temptations that crop up along our way. If we allow ourselves to be touched by Mary’s example, he says, we too can learn to love God and to dedicate ourselves to the weakest and poorest among us. Dear young people, the Pope concludes, as WYD in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves with joy and enthusiasm. “WYD is for the courageous!” “Do you accept the challenge?”

Church Should Foster Mercy and Compassion: Cardinal Oswald Gracias

Mumbai 15March, 2018: The Catholic Church in India should foster mercy and compassion urged His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI) and the Archbishop of Bombay. The Cardinal was inaugurating the Bishops’ Joint Reflection Programme inSarvodaya, Mumbai on 13 March, 2018 and addressing 31 Bishops from different dioceses of India who are participating in the programme. Observing the fifth anniversary of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francis on 13 March, Cardinal Oswald remarked that “Pope Francis is a Pope of mercy, who draws people to the sacrament of reconciliation. Pope Francis is a Pope of the peripheries, who has a compassionate heart for the poor, and love and concern for the neglected and suffering.” A thanksgiving Holy Mass was celebrated to mark the Papal anniversary. His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias,the main celebrant, the Apostolic Nuncio GiambattistaDiquattro, the Bishops,and the other concelebrants, prayed for the Universal Church and the Pope. The Bishops also held a half-hour Eucharistic adoration to mark the day. The Bishops’ Joint Reflection programme is organised by the CCBI for the Bishops in two batches. First batch from 12 to 17 March and the second batch from 2 to 7 July, 2018 at Sarvodaya, Mumbai. His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, His Excellency GiambattistaDiquattro, Archbishop George Antonysamy, Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto, Archbishop Felix Machado, Bishop John Rodrigues, Fr. Thomas Reddy SJ, Fr. Paul Moonjely, Fr. Anthony Charanghat, Fr. Nigel Barret, Mr. Roger Pereira, Mr.ConradSaldanha and Dr. M. Kandasami animated the reflection programme conducted for the Bishops. The Bishops received inputs on the following topics: Role of Papal Representative in our Country,Bishop’s Relationship with Priests, Religious and Laity, Formation of Seminarians, Priests and Lay People,Office Management: Archives and Documentation, Caritas India and Preparing Project for Funding Agencies,Conflict Management and Problem SolvingSkills, Media Management; Public Relations and Press Conference, Ecumenism,Relations with Other Religionsand Episcopal Ministry According toPope Francis. The Bishops also went on a pilgrimageto Mount Mary Basilica, Bandra and recitedthe holy rosary and dedicated thedioceses in India to the patronage of theBlessed Virgin Mary of the Mount. The prelates also participated in the novenato Our Lady of Perpetual SuccouratSt. Michael’s Church, Mahim. TheRector and parish community in Mahimaccorded the Bishops a traditional welcome. The Apostolic Nuncio blessedthe thousands of the devotees gatheredat the Mahim shrine with the EucharisticBenediction. The Bishops celebrated the Holy Mass atthe Holy Name Cathedral, Mumbai andprayed for the Church in India and for theArchdiocese of Bombay. His ExcellencyGiambattistaDiquattro was the main celebrantat the Eucharist. His EminenceOswald Cardinal Gracias welcomed theApostolic Nuncio and prelates to theArchdiocese of Bombay. The Bishops Joint Reflection programme was organised by the CCBI at the suggestion of the 29 Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India,held in 2017 at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

Dams in India did more harm than good, says UN Water report

New Delhi: Sounding a warning that over five billion people across the globe may run into water shortage, a United Nations report has pointed out that dams in India have done more harm than good to the cause of water security. Suggesting natural solutions to handle the water crisis, the UN World Water Development Report, 2018, notes that large-scale water development projects have led to major impacts like human displacement, and achieved only limited food security -- one of the main objectives of such projects. The report lays emphasis on the importance of "nature-based solutions" to meet the crisis, and calls for ancestral and indigenous solutions. "The World Commission on Dams country study on India concluded that a century or more of large-scale water development had resulted in major social and ecological impacts, including substantial human displacement, soil erosion and widespread waterlogging while, contrary to stated objectives, achieving only limited food security benefits," the report states. With India being world's largest extractor of ground water, followed by the US, China, Iran and Pakistan -- together accounting for 67 per cent of total abstractions worldwide, the report stated that even the water-rich high flood-prone regions like Gangetic basins are facing groundwater depletion. Water withdrawals for irrigation purposes have been identified as the primary driver of groundwater depletion worldwide, according to the report. About 800 cubic-km water is extracted globally for irrigation. "Even though large-scale groundwater recharge programmes have been operating in India for decades, the focus has been on water-scarce areas, with no real emphasis on flood risk management. Highly flood-prone basins such as the Ganges are now showing clear signs of groundwater depletion," the report says. Warning conflicts over water, the report stresses that global food production by 2050 has to double to feed an estimated nine billion population. Currently, almost 800 million people are hungry across the world. "Currently, an estimated 3.6 billion people (nearly half the global population) live in areas that are potentially water-scarce at least one month per year. This population could increase to some 4.8 to 5.7 billion by 2050," it says. "The stakes are high," it says, pointing out that with two-thirds of forests and wetland lost globally, "soil is eroding and deteriorating in quality". Since the 1990s, water pollution has worsened in almost all rivers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. "We also know that water scarcity can lead to civil unrest, mass migration, and even to conflicts within and between countries." Pushing for watershed and water harvesting projects on a larger scale, the report acknowledges India's efforts to generate awareness among communities on "ancestral survival systems", which talk of ancient ways to ensure water security. The report also hails the success of solution presented by NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh -- led by India's Waterman Rajendra Singh -- which is credited to have brought water back to 1,000 drought-stricken villages in Rajasthan. Through small-scale water harvesting structures in Rajasthan, the NGO successfully revived five rivers, recharged ground water level by six meters and increased agriculture production by 20 to 80 per cent. "These solutions can also contribute to other aspects of sustainable development, from ensuring food security and reducing disaster risk to building sustainable urban settlements and boosting decent work," the report notes.

Rights for minorities be also given to majority community: VHP

New Delhi: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Tuesday attacked the Congress government in Karnataka for promoting minoritism by recommending religious minority status for the Lingayat community and said all rights given to the minorities in the country should also be given to the members of the majority community. "Minoritism is dangerous for the country. Karnataka Congress is trying to cut out Lingayat community from Hindu religion just before the elections as it wants to divide the people for votes," said VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain. The Karnataka cabinet had on Monday granted the long-demanded status of a separate religion to Lingayat community that forms 17 per cent of the state's population. Lingayats are followers of 12th-century social reformer Basavanna and his teachings. "We stand for same rights for all citizens in the country. In India, no one is a minority or a majority. Every citizen is a child of Mother India," Jain said in a press statement. "VHP is of the opinion that all rights meant for minorities should also be given to the members of majority community," he added. The VHP leader said the Congress is reflecting its "conspiratory mindset" again, as it did a similar thing with the Jain community before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. "But, Congress lost the elections despite its divisionary politics. It will lose again," he said. Jain said minoritism is against the Constitution and the Supreme Court has warned against it several times. The apex court had, in fact, made the National Minorities Commission responsible to wipe out minoritism from the country, he added. "While the minority commission is silent on the issue, Rahul Gandhi is dreaming of another division of the country for elections," the leader of right-wing pro-Hindutvaorganisation said.

Church in India opposes death penalty for child rape

Bhopal: Haryana has become the third Indian state in four months to make a law stipulating capital punishment for raping minor girls in a bid to contain the increasing sexual violation of children, but church leaders oppose the move. The state's legislative house passed the law on March 15, imposing the death penalty on anyone convicted of raping a girl aged 12 or below. It came a week after the western state of Rajasthan passed a similar law, while Madhya Pradesh introduced one in December. Haryana Chief Minister ManoharLalKhattar said the law "will act as a strong deterrence" to check cases of rape in the state, which has an increasing trend of crimes against women. "The Catholic Church is opposed to the death penalty," said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal in the capital of Madhya Pradesh state. He said such a blanket law would not be an effective deterrent as rape happens for various reasons. Indian society generally is not so open to issues of sex as in the West and "sheer curiosity and other ignorance lead a weak person to prowl on little girls" and commit rape, said Archbishop Cornelio. He said the first step is to make "people educated and civilized, not to make laws to kill them. Sex education should start in schools and families, and that should help society to see sex not as taboo and a fact of life. That will help us be more open in society to deal with issues of sex. I am worried about the life and safety of victims of rape as there is all possibility that the accused will eliminate victims to destroy the evidence." Under the previous law, the maximum punishment for rape was seven years in jail, which legislators in Haryana agreed was not enough to check violence against women. Local media reports showed that crimes against women including rape of minors have been increasing in the state in the past year to an average of 3.3 cases a day. Madhya Pradesh introduced the death penalty in December after a National Crime Records Bureau report said the state had 4,882 rapes in 2016 or an average of 14 a day. The federal report said India recorded 38,947 rape cases in 2016 and about 8,000 of the victims were children below the age of 12. The data painted a grim picture, with details showing that 520 victims were children below the age of six, 1,596 were aged six to 12 and 6,091 were aged 12 to 16. Victims included all age groups as 57 were aged above 60, the report showed. However, the death penalty is not a solution to rape, said Sister Carole Geeta, a rights activist and lawyer working in Rajasthan. The Mission Sisters of Ajmeer nun said such "harsh punishment does not serve any good to society" as generally rapists of minor girls are first-time offenders and not habitual offenders. When someone commits such a heinous crime for the first time, he should get a chance to reform himself and with this law the "right of a rapist to transform his life is lost," she told "I do agree that there should be hard punishment, but not capital punishment." Father Stanley Kozhichira, the national president of Catholic media organization Signis India, told that "rape is the result of the attitude of people and therefore it is important to take corrective measures." "Unless we change our approach toward our fellow brothers and sisters, a harsh law cannot bring about much change," he added.

BCS Vikhroli Unit at the service of agitating farmers

The Bombay Catholic Sabha Vikhroli unit members along with Mr. Robert Dsouza VP , Father Simon Lopes Ex. Spiritual Director of BCS Vikhroli Unit n now Principal of St. Xavier school bhandup, volunteers and youth of our parish more than 50 in all helped in distributing biscuits n 10000 water packets for farmers who r on protest walk from Nasik onwards at Vikhroli Eastern Express highway junction . The decision to provide some help to the farmers was taken on sunday morning and within a hour or so we arranged for the tables, chairs, biscuits and water. We ere standing from 1.30 pm on a very hot sunday, the farmers reached vikhroli around 4.45 pm . Our members were very happy to welcome them . Many of them were looking tired, their feet with wounds no slippers . It was very very sad to see these farmers both young, old alongwith many women walrking all the way from Nasik to Mumbai. The Bombay Catholic Sabha Vikhroli unit supports the farmers agitation to get their demands and request the state government to solve their long standing demands