Catholic church is “best” in protecting human rights in Nepal

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

NepalNepal, July 23, 2014: The Catholic Church and Catholic organisations are the safest and most respectable groups in Nepal in the field of human rights, this according to activists and representatives of various religions who spoke to AsiaNews, responding to accusations – in other parts of the world – of abuse by some priests.

“In our country there are many cases of human rights violations, but none involves Catholics or their institutions,” activist and National Human Rights Commission member Subodh Pyakurel told AsiaNews. “Indeed, according to our data they are the most reliable for children and women.”

“We cannot speak for priests in other countries,” said Biswanath Upadhya, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and former president of the Supreme Court, “but those who work with us are a model for Nepali society.”

“We believe in the good seeds planted by Christians,” said Nazrul Hussein, Muslim representative on the Interreligious Council of Nepal. “As minorities we work together and Catholics are the best in promoting the human rights of children and women.”

- asianews

Great piano master and a little star

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

This is a wonderful story to remind us how God works in our lives.

concertWishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her.

Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.

Kid PlayingIn horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato.

Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience.

The audience was mesmerized.

That’s the way it is with God.

What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy.

God plays with usWe try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music.

But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful.

Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Feel His loving arms around you.

Know that His strong hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.

” Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called “. And He’ll always be there to love and guide you on to great things.

- fwd: valliamannill mathews

Meriam Ibrahim faces challenges from Muslim family

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Daniel and the childrenSudan, July 22, 2014: Meriam Ibrahim’s ordeal continues as her Muslim family pursues legal action in an effort to stop her from leaving Sudan after she was cleared of apostasy and adultery.

On Friday (18 July), the family filed a second lawsuit against the Christian mother of two, seeking to annul her marriage to joint US and South Sudanese citizen Daniel Wani. If successful, the couple’s two young children, Martin and Maya, would no longer be recognised as Daniel’s.

The family had lodged a first lawsuit, seeking to prove the biological link between Meriam and her Muslim father, earlier last week but this was inexplicably dropped. It was thought that the way may then be opened for Meriam, Daniel and the children to leave for the United States – until the second lawsuit was submitted two days later. This is scheduled to be heard on 4 August.

Meriam’s Muslim relatives are also trying to challenge the Court of Appeal’s ruling last month that quashed her death sentence for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery.

The Supreme Court is yet to decide, however, whether the family’s appeal will be accepted. Under Sudanese law, an Appeal Court ruling can be contested by an interested party but the Supreme Court determines whether the party has the necessary legal standing to do so. If the family’s appeal is accepted, the Supreme Court will review the Appeal Court decision in a process that could take up to three months.

Following her acquittal on 23 June, Meriam was released from Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison along with Martin and Maya, who were locked up with her, and reunited with Daniel. But the following day, they were detained at Khartoum airport as they tried to leave the country, accused of possessing false travel documents.

They were released on bail on 26 June but the case has not been dropped. Meriam, Daniel and the children have since been staying at the US embassy in Khartoum and are not allowed to the leave the country.

Under the strict application of sharia law in Sudan, Meriam has been regarded as a Muslim because she was born to a Muslim father, even though he left the family when she was six and her mother raised her as a Christian. She was considered to have left Islam – committed apostasy – even though she never practised it and has maintained her Christian faith throughout. Meriam was also considered to have committed adultery because, under sharia, a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man.

- barnabas team

Goa BJP makes minorities feel insecure: MLA

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Rama sena GoaPorvorim, July 24, 2014: An independent member of Goa legislative member says state BJP government’s language has changed since the BJP came to power at the Centre and minorities in Goa are feeling insecure as more are applying for Portuguese passport.

Fatorda independent MLA Vijai Sardesai said on Tuesday that among things that worry minorities is the soft stance of the state towards Ram Sene chief Pramod Mutalik’s planned entry into Goa, The Times of India reported.

During a discussion in the legislative assembly, Sardesai said accused BJP of moving in directions that make minorities feel insecure.

A sign of more people feeling insecure in the state should be seen more applying for Portuguese passports. He said he has learnt that daily about 47 Goans are applying for Portuguese passports.

He also accused BJP of “double talk.” While the party proclaims it is against moral policing, the BJP mahila wing rails against pub culture in Goa.

“They say this is Portuguese culture, by which, they blame the minorities. This language has started only after the BJP came to power at the Centre. This double talk will ruin tourism. This double talk will result in a self-goal,” Sardesai said.

Sardesai also accused the BJP government of invoking the special marriage act just to facilitate the marriage of one girl but in the process, diluting the very definition of Goan-ness. Sardesai said that this had diluted the unique uniform civil code of Goa and wondered why the government was hankering after special status for the state.

He also wanted to know why BJP was silent when its central leader Subramaniam Swamy wrongly accused the Church of being against HIV infected children.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, however, interrupted Sardesai saying he could rake up all these issues when he spoke on the demands but that he could not do so when he was speaking on the budget.

- toi

Peace and religious harmony in India, “the goal” of Christians and Jains

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Christian and JainMumbai, July 22, 2014: A fruitful conversation, aimed to strengthen the relationship between the Christian and Jain communities, with a mutual commitment to work for peace and religious harmony in India. This is how Msgr. Felix Anthony Machado, Archbishop of Vasai, describes his meeting with Swasti Shri Bhattaraka Charukeerti Swamiji, leader of the institutions of Jain Digambaras tradition in Moodabidri, a town 35 km north of Mangalore (Karnataka).

At the invitation of the bhattaraka (“Supreme Leader”) on 17 July, the prelate visited the religious center as chairman of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

Archbishop Machado tells AsiaNews: “Swasti Shri Bhattaraka Charukeerti Swamiji welcomed me warmly and graciously to the 14th Century, Jain Math.  This was my first visit to this historical Jain Maht.   I was moved by his simplicity, Swamji is very keen on Inter Religious Dialogue, World Peace and Harmony in India and in the world .”

The two religious leaders also discussed the possibility of organizing a gathering of all religions in Moodbidri, in preparation for the World Meeting of Religions to be held in Chicago in 2015.

Also known as Jain Kashi, the religious center of Moodabidri is considered sacred by the Jains, but is also popular with members of other faiths for its historical and architectural importance. Over the years, the city has become a place of pilgrimage for the Jain community not only for its many temples (Basadi), but also because it preserves the most ancient and sacred scriptures of this religion, the Dhawalas.

- asianews

Forebodings of great violence

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Parveen TogadiaIndia, July 23, 2014: The violent energies unleashed by communal politics before, during and after the elections have led to social tension that might erupt into great violence any moment. These violent energies have not yet spent themselves as is evident from reports of stray communal violence in the country.

The utterances of two known provocateurs – Parveen Togadia and Ashok Singhal – in the recent days are a cause of concern. If the government at the Centre is at all serious about maintaining law and order it should restrain these two people. I know that as these two are diehard Sangh men the Sangh government would not touch them. Yet, one has the fond hope that the government would act to control the damage for its own credibility.

On July 19 in Jammu Togadia bragged in his familiar style that Muslims would be taught a lesson if they tried to “set fire to Hanuman’s tail”. In his highly toxic rhetoric he told Muslims via a press conference: “You might have forgotten Gujarat 2002 where a lot of your people were killed, but you must remember Muzaffarnagar (killings of last year).”

This speech of Togadia shows that the killings of Gujarat 2002 and Muzaffarnagar are taken as a matter of pride, a badge of honour, by the Sangh, not a cause of shame and disgrace. Secondly, that these massacres were the handiwork and proud “achievement” of the Sangh. They are proud of their deeds and declare it publicly, confident in the knowledge that law cannot touch them. The law is helpless.

Ashok Singhal (a VHP leader like Togadia) too is proud of his acts like Babri Masjid demolition and killings of Gujarat 2002. After the worst killings in Gujarat were over, Singhal announced quietly that “the experiment in the Gujarat laboratory has succeeded.” That meant both the Godhra train attack and subsequent killings of Muslim were pre-planned, organised and orchestrated. It was an “experiment in the lab” that had succeeded.

This time round Singhal declared in Delhi on July 17 that the minorities would not survive in India for too long if they did not learn to respect “Hindu sentiments”. One must ask what exactly those sentiments were. He asserted that the recent elections had proven that elections could be very well won even without the support of Muslims.

If one puts these statements in the backdrop of the ongoing tensions in the country one can take them as forebodings of great communal violence in days ahead. This is not a pleasant prospect as we know law does not exist for these trouble-makers. They were not brought to account in the UPA regime. Certainly, nobody is going to ask them to explain their conduct in NDA regime.

Now, the question is what can be done to stem the tide of lawlessness. It is for the liberal, left and centrist leadership to answer. The community leadership should also sit together to see whether they could do something about it.

- tcn

Jaljeera, mocktails replace colas as hoteliers protest Israeli bombings in Gaza

July 24, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Muslim BoycottMumbai, July 19, 2014: Over a hundred hoteliers across the city are boycotting American soft drinks as ‘United States is supporting Israelis in the conflict’.

Extending their support to the Palestinians, over 270 of whom have been killed in the ongoing Israeli bombing attacks in Gaza, more than a hundred hoteliers in various parts of the city are boycotting cola drinks, including Pepsi and Coca Cola.

The hoteliers have taken the step against the American products, because “America is supporting the Israelis in the conflict”, they said.

While several prominent hotels including Shalimar, Baghdadi and Noor Mohammadi Hotel at Bhendi Bazaar, and Persian Durbar at Byculla, stopped selling cola drinks four to five days ago, other smaller hotels have stopped purchasing fresh stock. The move is backed by hoteliers from Colaba to Behram Baug in Jogeshwari, and Bhendi Bazar to Kurla, Mumbra and other areas.

With Ramzan in progress, people in the Muslim-dominated areas are resorting to mocktails, juices and jaljeera as alternatives.

On July 16, more than a hundred members of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association met at Shalimar Hotel to discuss the issue. “We have taken a collective decision to boycott these products as a silent protest to the bombings that are killing so many innocent people, including children. We will continue this protest until the bombings are stopped,” said Omaer Sheikh, managing director of Shalimar.

Terming it as ‘a peaceful protest’, the hoteliers said the purpose is to convey their disapproval of the indiscriminate bombings of hospitals, mosques and villages in Gaza to the Israeli government.

“United States is supporting the Israelis, so in protest we decided to stop selling American cola drinks five days ago. It is horrible to see the way the Israelis are bombing innocent civilians. We cannot do too much, but this is our way of protesting,” said Rashid Hakim, owner of Noor Mohammadi restaurant.

Some small restaurants have stopped replenishing supplies. “We completely stopped purchasing new stock three days ago. Though we don’t know much about the issue, we are protesting against the violence by the Israelis,” said Mushtaq Motiwala, owner of Ali Bhai Seekhwala, arestaurant in Pydhonie.

In 2001, a similar two-month protest against the killing of innocents by US bombings in Afghanistan had been undertaken by hundreds of Muslim and non-Muslim hoteliers in the city. Identifying Coca Cola and Pepsi as symbols of American consumerism, the boycott had alarmed cola companies at that time.

- mumbai mirror

Appeal to boycott Israeli Products gaining momentum

Hoteliers BoycottMumbai, July 22, 2014: After the call to boycott Israeli Products by the leaders and hoteliers in Mumbai, thousands of citizens in Mira Road, Mumbai took a pledge to boycott Israeli products on Sunday.

Sunday being the deadliest day in the latest round of conflict between Israel and Hamas whereby both sides reported maximum causalities with 87 Palestinians and 18 Israeli Soldiers are reported to be killed.

Agitating against the Israeli attack on Gaza that has killed more than 500 people, most of whom are reported to be innocent civilians- children and women; Jamaat-e-Islami Hind along with other organisations has held different programmes throughout Maharashtra.

Abdul Qadeer, President of JIH, Mira Road unit said, “We undertook a signature campaign at 4 prominent places namely Mira Road Station, Shams Masjid, Hyderi chowk and N H School Corner.” We organised an awareness campaign about the ongoing conflicts, ask them to boycott the Israeli products and requested them to buy Indian Products instead.

A signature campaign was run to petition the United Nations to pass a resolution against Israel, condemning the brutality of the Zionist power. The petition urges the UNO to convene a special session condemning Israel, lifting blockade of Gaza, to constitute a committee to evaluate the loss of lives of innocent men and infrastructure.

Thousands of citizens responded positively. They pledged to boycott the Israeli products and signed the memorandum.

Jamaat-e-Islami Hind also held different programmes in Jalna, Nanded, Akola, Aurangabad, Pune, Mumbra for the awareness of the locals about the issue.

- tcn

SC’s remark on government aid to Kandhamal churches

July 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

kandhamal churches devastatedNew Delhi, July 16, 2014: The Supreme Court today ruled that churches damaged during the Kandhamal riots in December 2007 were not entitled to any compensation as they get sufficient funds from foreign countries.

“You know Mr Gonzalves, most of the churches get funds from foreign governments. So it is not proper for you to ask for chairs in the church or church bells,” Justice H.L. Dattu, heading a three-judge bench, told Colin Gonzalves, who appeared for the riot victims.

Gonzalves had appealed that not only victims but many churches damaged during the riots were not awarded compensation.

The senior counsel argued that as the churches were damaged by rioters, the state, Odisha, should compensate.

On this, the bench said: “Those cases, we will ask you to go to civil courts. In cases of death, we will take care of the compensation.”

The bench also dismissed the counsel’s appeal that the families of those who died of diarrhoea, cholera and snakebites in relief camps should be given compensation.

“Please don’t make such pleas. You can’t ask anything. You can ask for the moon, not the sun. You have to be reasonable. The state of Odisha is also not that prosperous…,” Justice Dattu said, before adjourning the matter till July 23.

- the telegraph

Church vandalized in Uttar Pradesh

July 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Church vandalizedBulandshahr, July 18, 2014: Two people, reportedly members of Bajrang Dal, were arrested accused of vandalizing a church in Sehkari Nagar village in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh.

Bajarang Dal area coordinator Hemant Singh and another person have been arrested following a complaint filed by parish priest Father RC Paul, PTI reported.

The incident happened on Monday afternoon, according to Senior Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Kumar.

Scores of Bajrang Dal activists staged a protest outside the residence of the SSP here late last night demanding release of those arrested in the case.

Kumar said an FIR was lodged on the complaint of the priest of the church. “Hemant Singh and one other person were arrested. Eight unknown persons too have been named in the FIR,” he said.

The church at Sehkari Nagar village has been in existence since 1991.

Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh is about 90 km from Delhi.

Meanwhile, Hemant Singh alleged that that church was luring poor Hindus to convert to Christianity.

- ucan

Graham’s Grandson: Why has America soured toward Evangelicals?

July 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

EvangelicalAmerica, July 18, 2014: The negative view held by Non-Evangelicals about Evangelicals, as reflected in a recent poll, is because believers have lost sight of the Gospel’s core message, said Billy Graham’s grandson and Florida pastor Tullian Tchividjian.

“The core message of the Christian faith has been lost in the public sector because what we are primarily known for is our political ideology or opinion,” Tchividjian told The Christian Post.

Over the last 30 years, the Religious Right has replaced Christianity’s foremost message of the Gospel with that of a political movement, argued the current pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

“We’re well known for saying things, ‘We exist to reclaim America for Jesus,’ and stuff like that and in the process what has been lost, is the message which I trumpet in [my book] One Way Love, which is God’s inexhaustible grace for exhausted sinners like you and me,” said Tchividjian.

Tchividjian’s claims came in response to a new Pew Research study poll which suggests that only 30 percent of non-Evangelical Americans feel warmly about this religious group. The survey, which measures the country’s religious groups’ feelings towards one another, also showed that 42 percent of non-Evangelical Americans gave responses in the “middle” towards this group, while the sentiments of 27 percent could be described as cold.

“Specifically the reason why Evangelicals in America are unliked by non-Evangelicals is because we’ve branded ourselves as a political movement. It’s not like Christians don’t have opinions about what’s going in our world and what’s happening in our culture; I think that we do, I do, we all do, but when the primary message that the world hears from us is, “We need to fix the world…We need to stamp out all of the bad stuff,” they don’t hear the message that Jesus has entrusted in us,” continued Tchividjian.

What is the message Tchividjian believes that Evangelicals ought to be sharing?

“In Luke 4, Jesus about says himself, “I have come to set the captives free. I’ve come to liberate the oppressed. I have come to save broken people,” said Tchividjian.

For Christians who claimed that their negative image was a consequence of them speaking an unpopular truth, Tchividjian cautioned against automatically arriving at this conclusion.

“If people are going to stumble over what we say, it’s going to be because we’re called to speak the Gospel which Paul says is a stumbling block. But I can’t go out there and be a jerk and align myself with a political party or a candidate and get crucified on either the right or the left and just say “I’m just a martyr for the truth.” No, you’re not even speaking the truth that God has called you to speak first and foremost.”

Tchividjian also noted that it was problematic that not all Evangelicals felt positively towards those who did not share their faith. Pew’s study revealed that while white Evangelicals rated one another on average an 82 (with zero the coldest and 100 the highest,) only Jews and Catholics received a score over 60. Buddhists were scored a 39, Hindus a 38, Atheists a 25, and Muslims a 30.

“Where there is a lack of love for others on the other side of the aisle, there in that moment we are not accurately representing the Christian faith,” said Tchividjian.

Tchividjian suggested that Evangelicals wishing to positively respond to the negative feedback of the survey might emulate his grandfather.

“He has told me that the biggest mistakes he made early on his ministry, in the ’50s and early ’60s, was speaking too much about cultural and political issues at his evangelistic crusades. He says that’s one of his big regrets from his early years in ministry,” said Tchividjian.

The turning point for Graham came after the Watergate scandal, noted Tchividjian.

“He had sort of had, an a-hah moment when he realized ‘I have particular calling as an evangelist and that is to preach the Gospel to human beings, regardless of whether they’re red, yellow, black, white, rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, gay, straight, didn’t matter. My job is to preach the Gospel to humans.’”

After his realization, Graham “stopped endorsing particular candidates publicly because he knew the moment he endorsed the candidate of one particular party that the people on the other side of the aisle wouldn’t listen to what he had to say. He wanted very much to be a bridge builder and the way he did that was to stay above the fray and sticking to his calling.”

- cp

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