Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Radical Pope, Traditional Values

Radical Pope, Traditional Values
MONTREAL — In less than a year in office, Pope Francis has certainly stirred things up. Eschewing the papal palace to live in a simple apartment, and mingling with ordinary people in St. Peter’s Square rather than staying cloistered with cardinals in the Curia, the pope, recently named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, appears to offer a sharp contrast to his recent predecessors.
Many of the pope’s statements have been highly arresting: He has attacked the “idolatry of money” and called unchecked capitalism “a new tyranny.” His trenchant critique of trickle-down economics has earned the ire of conservative commentators like the radio host Rush Limbaugh, who termed as “Marxist” the pope’s exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” published in November. The pope’s response was swift and unapologetic.
“Marxist ideology is wrong,” he told the Italian newspaper La Stampa. “But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended. There is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the church.”
Francis looks like a radical break with the past, but he is right: He represents an essential continuity in the Roman Catholic Church’s mission.

In Victorian times, Pope Leo XIII (in office, 1878-1903) was also denounced as a “socialist” when, in 1891, he issued the Catholic Church’s first formal statement on economic and social issues. In “Rerum Novarum,” he called for a living wage, opposed child labor and (a little belatedly) supported the idea of trade unions. Leo’s strong defense of private property in the same letter did not seem to win over critics.
Even Pius XII (1939-58) — one of the least-loved popes, thanks to the Vatican’s ambiguous wartime role — insisted that when fighting unjust social conditions, “Charity is not enough, for in the first place there must be justice.” In the late 1940s, it was a future pope (John XXIII, 1958-63) who, as the Vatican’s ambassador to France, helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
The statements of Pope Francis have certainly been more spirited than we have heard for a while — complete with exclamation marks, extremely rare in papal documents — and he has found new images to drive his points home. Poor people, he said recently, have been waiting a long time for the rich man’s glass to overflow. Instead, all that seems to happen is that the glass keeps getting larger.
In many ways, though, he has simply been putting a personal stamp on traditional Catholic social teaching. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure,” he asked, “but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
Francis’ economic opinions may appear naïve to those more worried about productivity trends and price-earnings ratios than the 10,000 children who die every day from hunger. But his passion and purpose are timely. Last year, the World Bank reported that the number of extreme poor (those making less than $1.25 a day) had dropped in every region of the world, including Africa, but that the number of those living on less than $2 per day — 2.5 billion people, or 43 percent of the population of the developing world — had hardly budged in 30 years. In other words, improvements in public welfare have barely kept pace with population growth, and there is still much to be done to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.
The educational role of the church in the developing world has been powerful and often controversial. “All we want is a labor force,” a colonial governor lamented to missionaries in Madagascar a century ago, “and you’re turning them into human beings.”
The most visible arm of the church’s social mission is a network of humanitarian and development agencies known as Caritas (Latin for “charity”), which is the largest private organization of its kind after the International Committee of the Red Cross. Its total budget, $3 billion, is barely as much as the World Bank lends to large countries like Turkey or Brazil in a single year, but its reach and impact are unmatched.
In some African countries, as much as half of basic education and health services are provided by the church. Catholic hospitals and clinics around the world distribute about a third of all the antiretroviral drugs received by people living with H.I.V. and AIDS, and in India, where Catholics are no more than 2 percent of the population, the church is the second-largest care provider in this area after the government.
As a result of its work in basic health and education — and despite its obtuse views on birth control — in the last 50 years the church has probably lifted more people out of poverty than any other civic institution in history.
Until the election of Pope Francis, that mission seemed under threat as priests, religious and lay people raised in the reforming spirit of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) were retiring or dying off. At the same time, many younger clergy members were emphasizing evangelization and personal salvation,emphasizing the church’s message rather than just its outreach. In the opening hours of his papacy, Francis seemed to echo this complaint.
“We can build many things, but if we do not witness to Jesus Christ then it doesn’t matter,” he told the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel during his first Mass as pope. “We might become a philanthropic NGO, but we wouldn’t be the church.”
Since then, Francis has stressed that serving the poor and promoting social justice are central to the church’s identity and mission.
As the first pope from the developing world, Francis may help divert international concern about poverty away from imaginary geographical groupings like “north” and “south.” Being the leader of the largest and most influential faith community on earth, he can help reinforce the idea that every country, region and community is capable of taking steps to improve its citizens’ lives.
Pope Francis has renewed the hope of Catholic activists that faith and charity can go hand in hand.

Robert Calderisi is a former director of the World Bank and the author of “Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development.”
NY Times

Fr Rocky D'Silva passes away from this life to a better life.


Fr.Rocky D’Silva, Vicar General of the Arch Diocese of Gandhinagar met with an accident just outside of his residence at Pethapur and died ( 30 Dec 2013). His body has been taken to Apollo Hospital for postmortem. He had tea with the Archbishop in the evening and left the house. As he was going out of the house a truck came and hit him.  Kindly pray for bereaved family fo Fr.Rocky D’Silva and for the Arch diocese.

The funeral of Fr.Rocky D’Silva, Vicar General of the Arch Diocese of Gandhinagar will be held at 4.00 p.m on 02 Jan 2014       at Sector 8 Gandhinagar (Cathedral).

Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jesus was hostile to Religion

Can you be too religious?
When considering this question, note that Jesus himself was hostile to religiosity – and that fundamentalists suffer from a lack of faith
o    Giles Fraser
o    theguardian.com, Tuesday 24 December 2013 09.00 GMT

Actually, I seriously dislike the words religion and religious. First, there is no such thing as generic religiosity. There are Christians and Jews and Muslims and Hindus. No one practises religion, as such. And second, precisely because the word "religion" describes the common outward format through which these very different belief systems express themselves, it cannot describe each in its specificity. This is particularly tricky when it comes to Christianity, because at its heart is a figure who was thoroughly suspicious and condemnatory of religion. "Jesus came to abolish religion," says the Washington-based poet and evangelist Jefferson Bethke. His YouTube poem Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus received 16 million views within two weeks of it being released.He's right: the New Testament must be one of the most thoroughly anti-religious books ever written. It makes Richard Dawkins look very tame fare indeed.

Jesus spent much of his time laying into the pious and the holy and lambasting the religious professionals of his day. And this was not because he was anti-Jewish – as some superficial readings of his anti-Pharisee, anti-Sadducee, anti-Temple polemics would have it – but precisely because, as a Jew himself, he came out of that very Jewish prophetic tradition of fierce hostility to religiosity. Here, for instance, is the prophet Isaiah on feisty form.

The multitude of your sacrifices – what are they to me? says the Lord.
I have more than enough of
 burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me. New moons, sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
This is the sort of theology to which Jesus looked for inspiration. And partly, it was this uncompromising anti-religiosity that got him nailed to a cross.
You may think I am being slippery with the word "religion". So let's take, for instance, the French sociologist Emile Durkheim's influential definition of religion as that which divides up the world into the sacred and the profane. But here again, the Jesus stories have him as thoroughly anti-religious, not least in those narratives that surround his birth. For the idea that God might be found not in the spiritually antiseptic space of some sacred temple, but in the smelly cow shed out the back, is about ashostile an idea to religion as one can possibly imagine. When it comes to Christianity, just being a little bit religious is being too religious. Religion is a pejorative term. So the answer is yes.

Of course, I'd say you cannot be too Christian. That's a different kettle of fish. And if "being too Christian" makes you think of Christian fundamentalists, I'd want to insist that they are simply not Christian enough. Indeed, that it's their lack of faith that makes them cling to a bogus form of certainty and literalism. Mostly, Christian fundamentalists worship a book. They like the safety of having pat answers. But this is just another form of idolatry of which the Hebrew scriptures regularly warn. Worshipping a book and worshipping God are two totally different things. Falling down before a baby, with all the inversion of power that this implies, takes courage not intellectual suicide. It is about the world being turned upside-down, the mighty (including the religious mighty) being cast down and the weak being held up. It is about placing something other than oneself at the centre of the world. And no, I don't think there can be too much of this.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

FILMDARSHAN : Film Appreciation for youth.


Greetings from Gurjarvani.

'FILMDARSHAN'  A Film Appreciation Workshop for Youth is organized for three days at Xavier's Campus, on January, 17th evening to 19th evening For more information please see the POSTER

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pope Francis

 Arasakumar Rayappan <arayappan@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,

It is beautiful and wonderful! The Holy Spirit is really in him and is working through him! The depth of the wisdom and courage our pope is showing in taking the church to its roots is something fantastic. What the Vatican II has not achieved in the last 50 years he seems to try to achieve all alone. My only fear is his safety and security. Will the conservatives, the traditionalists, the power mongers, ... all those who really do not really take the Gospel values of love and service seriously, and want only to rule and control in the name of Jesus allow him to take his dreams to their logical conclusion? The humble, simple, visionary pope needs our support, cooperation, and above all fervent and constant prayers. Let us also pray for those humble saintly people who lack courage to question the meaningless traditions and structures that we have created!

Read the article below and our visionary pope's Apostolic Exhortation please. I am attaching it. As soon as fine and make a summary of it I shall send to you.


Pope Francis: No more business as usual

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Pope Francis on Tuesday called for big changes in the Roman Catholic Church  including at the very top  – saying the church needs to rethink rules and customs that are no longer widely understood or effective for evangelizing.
"I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security," the Pope said in a major new statement.
"I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures," Francis added.
The Pope's address, called an "apostolic exhortation," is part mission statement, part pep talk for the world's 1.5 billion Catholics. Francis' bold language and sweeping call for change are likely to surprise even those who've grown accustomed to his unconventional papacy.
"Not everyone will like this document," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author in New York. "For it poses a fierce challenge to the status quo."
And it's not just a verbal challenge, the Pope said on Tuesday.
"I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences."
Since his election in March, Pope Francis, the first pontiff to hail from Latin America, has made headlines by decrying the iniquities of modern capitalism, embracing the poor and people with disabilities and reaching out to gays and lesbians.
At the same time, the 77-year-old pontiff has sought to awaken a spirit of joy and compassion in the church, scolding Catholic "sourpusses" who hunt down rule-breakers and calling out a "tomb psychology" that "slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum."
"An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!" the Pope said.
Officially known in Latin as "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), the 85-page statement released on Tuesday is the first official document written entirely by Pope Francis. (An earlier document was co-written by Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.)
Although Francis sprinkles the statement with citations of previous popes and Catholic luminaries like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, the new pontiff makes a bold call for the church to rethink even long-held traditions.
"In her ongoing discernment, the Church can also come to see that certain customs not directly connected to the heart of the Gospel, even some which have deep historical roots, are no longer properly understood and appreciated," the Pope said.
"Some of these customs may be beautiful, but they no longer serve as means of communicating the Gospel.We should not be afraid to re-examine them. At the same time, the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives."
Such statements mark a sharp break from Benedict XVI, a more tradition-bound pope who focused on cleaning up cobwebs of unorthodoxy in the church.
By contrast, in "Evangelii" Francis repeats his calls for Catholics to stop "obsessing" about culture war issues and to focus more on spreading the Gospel, especially to the poor and marginalized.
The outside world, particularly its economic inequalities, didn't escape Francis' notice either.
In a section of "Evangelii" entitled "some challenges to today's world," he sharply criticized what he called an "idolatry of money" and "the inequality that spawns violence."
The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."
“Meanwhile,” Francis said, “the excluded are still waiting.”
But the bulk of Francis' statement addresses the church, which, he said, should not be afraid to "get its shoes soiled by the mud of the street."
The Pope also hinted that he wants to see an end to the so-called "wafer wars," in which Catholic politicians who support abortion rights are denied Holy Communion. His comments could also be taken as another sign that he plans to reform church rules that prevent divorced Catholics from receiving the Eucharist.
"Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason," Francis said.
"The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."
Even so, Francis reiterated the church's stand against abortion, defending it against critics who call such arguments "ideological, obscurantist and conservative."
"Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question," Francis said.
The Pope also reiterated previous rejections on ordaining women, saying the topic is "not open for discussion."
But that doesn't mean the church values men more than women, he said.
"We need to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church," the Pope said.
Francis also said he expects other parts of the church to change, and called on Catholics to be unafraid of trying new things.
"More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving."
Francis didn't mention specific reforms, but he suggested that it could include changes at the very top of the church.
"Since I am called to put into practice what I ask of others, I too must think about a conversion of the papacy," he said.
The church's centralization, where all roads lead to Rome, and the "we've always done it this way" type of thinking have hindered Catholics' ability to minister to local people in far-flung places, Francis suggested.
"I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities," the Pope said.
Martin, the Jesuit priest and author, said he could not recall ever "reading a papal document that was so thought-provoking, surprising and invigorating."
"The document’s main message is that Catholics should be unafraid of new ways of proclaiming the Gospel and new ways of thinking about the church."

Why I love Pope Francis!

Pope Francis' is now the most discussed name on the English language internet.

He’s a mega-celebrity of a different kind of order. While others are famous for corruption, their physic, big shows or their supposed good looks, Pope Francis seems to be uber-famous for the best of reasons. He’s the supreme leader of a 1.2 billion member religion, yet he goes out of his way to embrace a man with a disfigured face. He personally calls up an unwed mother and offers to baptize her child. When the world seems to be on the brink of war, he organizes and leads a world day of prayer for peace - and it works.

Francis Parmar - New Provincial of Gujarat Jesuits, India

News Updates:

Fr.Francis Parmar S.j has been appointed as the New Provincial of Gujarat Jesuit province, on 30 November 2013 by the Superior General of Jesuit order, Rev. Fr. Adolfo Nicolas from Rome. He will assume charge  a little later.

Inline image 1
Fr.Francis Parmar was born in Nadiad, Gujarat on 02-12-1950. He began his initial training in the Jesuit order at Mt Abu, Rajasthan. After finishing his theological studies at Vidya Jyoti, Delhi, he was ordained a priest on 05-05-1979.
Having completed his B.A in Gujarati-Sanskrit at Gujarat University, he studied for M.A in Socio-Linguistics at the University of George Town, Washington D.C. He had also done Masters in pastoral theology at Vidya Jyoti, Delhi. All through out his life in the Society of Jesus, he has held very many responsible posts such as Juniorate in-charge, Rector of the formation houses, Dean of the theologate and Principal of two colleges. He was twice elected as the Procurator of Gujarat and he took part in the meetings of the procurators of the Society of Jesus in 1999 and in 2012. The Gujarat Jesuit Province is really blessed in having the first local Jesuit to lead the province as the New Jesuit Provincial of Gujarat. The Gujarat Jesuit Parivar extends best wishes and prayers for a fruitful service in his new responsibility.
With best wishes and in Union of Prayers,
Socius- Gujarat Province
Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

For More news: Click the link given below