The Catolic Secular Forum

Tirupati: Evangelist Sudhir arrested

Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007.

In a swift move, the Tirupati Urban Police arrested Mondithoka Sudhir, founder director of the Hyderabad-based Emmanuel Baptist Ministry of India (IBMI), from his Puterala residence in Vissannapet Mandal of Krishna district in the early hours of Thursday. He has been remanded to judicial custody.

For the record, Sudhir’s blasphemous video on Lord Venkateswara, shot during the Samaikyandhra agitation in September 2013, had gone viral. Pretending as gullible devotees, Sudhir and his team members surrendered a copy of The Bible and other missionary material to the security staff at Alipiri check point before proceeding to Tirumala along with a video camera.

Based on a complaint lodged by advocate Samanchi Srinivas, who is also the BJP district general secretary, and following a hue and cry from various quarters, police swung into action and registered a case (Crime No.100/14 at Tirumala Two Town Police Station). A similar case was registered at Alipiri Police Station based on a complaint by the TTD Assistant Vigilance and Security Officer.

Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007. Police also seized his laptop, which was used to upload the video, and his four-wheeler on which he travelled to Tirumala. A manhunt has been launched to nab his younger brother Sukumar and pastors David, Joseph and Yesu Ratnam for complicity in the offence.

Speaking to the media, Sudhir confessed to the offence and termed it as “unfortunate”. A postgraduate from Acharya Nagarjuna University, he said his intention was to spread the message and not merely to raise funds from foreign missionaries. While indicating that it was his first “negative attempt” to portray a faith in bad light, Sudhir also promised that it would be his last.

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Prayer for the Persecuted

COMMITMENT TO EGYPT’S NEW CONSTITUTION QUESTIONED AFTER ‘BLASPHEMY’ CHARGE

Kerolos Shouky Attallah, is accused of violating Article 98F of the Egyptian Penal Code for “liking” a Facebook page of Christian converts known as the Knights of the Cross. On January 14 and 15 of this year, a referendum was passed on a new constitution in Egypt. According to supporters, it ensures the basic rights of free speech and belief for Egyptians, but the existence of a blasphemy law in Egypt, is a violation of Egypt’s new constitution, which was supposed to take effect on January 18. Pray Egypt will commit to its new constitution. Pray all accusations and charges against Attallah are dismissed. Pray our merciful God will continue guiding and protecting our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

ARKANSAS CONGRESSMAN INTRODUCES BILL TO GRANT MERIAM PERMANENT LEGAL STATUS IN THE U.S.

United States, June 10, 2014: In the latest development on Capitol Hill regarding the case of Meriam Ibrahim, Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton has introduced a bill that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States. Meriam was sentenced to death by hanging last month in Khartoum, Sudan, after refusing to give up her Christian faith. She is currently imprisoned with her 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya in Khartoum. Cotton stated, “I am disappointed by the Obama administration’s inaction and urge them to grant Meriam permanent legal status.” Pray the Obama Administration will act on behalf of Meriam Ibrahim and her family. Pray for the passage of legislation that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States. Pray for Meriam’s speedy and safe release.

BOKO HARAM ABDUCTS AT LEAST 20 WOMEN FROM FULANI VILLAGE NEAR CHIBOK

Nigeria, June 09, 2014: Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 20 young women in Nigeria, near Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken two months ago, local officials said. The suspected militants came into the village in broad daylight on Saturday, heavily armed and wearing military uniforms. The location of the women is still unknown and the kidnappers have not made contact with their families. Pray all the kidnapped women and girls are safely returned to their families. Pray those who persecute God’s children, seek salvation in Christ Jesus. Pray for the victory of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

BJP VICE CHAIRMAN CALLS ON NEPAL TO IMMEDIATELY AND COMPLETELY BAN RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS

Nepal, June 09, 2014: According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), BJP vice chairman Bhagat Singh Koshiyari called for a legal ban on conversions during his visit to Nepal. The timing of the call is sensitive as Nepal’s Constituent Assembly is in the process of drafting a new constitution. “Mr Koshiyari’s comments are of concern. They appear to be an attempt to persuade Nepal not to include freedom of religion in the new constitution and laws of Nepal,” said CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas. Pray Nepal will disregard the request of Koshiyari and stand for their people. Pray the new constitution will include freedom of religion and allow our brothers and sisters to worship and share God’s word. Pray Nepal will receive the Word of our God and be saved in Christ’s name.

NORTH KOREA UNLEASHES CRACKDOWN ON CHRISTIANITY

North Korea continues to detain or repatriate its citizens with ties to the church in China. According to Daily NK, “personnel from a number of state organs, including the State Security Department, General Reconnaissance Bureau and diplomatic corps, have received additional orders on the matter.”  One of the victims, South Korean missionary Kim Jung Wook, is currently serving a life sentence for “anti-state crimes.” Pray the enemy of of our Almighty God will not be successful in bringing persecution and injustice to Christians in North Korea. Pray for the release of all imprisoned Christians in North Korea. Pray for the renewing of strength and comfort of our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

KYRGYZSTAN PASTOR KEPT FROM BROTHER’S FUNERAL BY LOCAL IMAM

Kyrgyzstan, June 06, 2014: In the village of Zherge-Tal, Imam Arstan stopped Protestant pastor Kapar Yusup uuly Abdukayimov from participating in the burial procession of his deceased 51-year old brother Japar Abdukayimov. “Imam Arstan insulted me with all kinds of unrepeatable words, calling me a traitor, and told people at the procession this will happen to anyone who leaves Islam and accepts Christianity or other religions,” Pastor Yusup uuly told Forum 18.  Numerous Kyrgyz Christians in recent years were not allowed to be buried in their local villages, and several were buried in other cemeteries used by Russian Orthodox. Pray that in future cases like these, Christians will be able to bury their loved ones in their own villages. Pray for the comfort of our Lord to come upon Pastor Yusup and his family through these dark times. Pray Imam Arstan will receive the true Word of God and be saved.

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SC stays Veerappan aides’ hanging for 6 Weeks

Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.

“In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.

“As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue” until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.
“This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and T R Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae,” the bench said.

Veerappan’s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.

Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13 and they are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.

A TADA court in Mysore had in 2001 sentenced them to life term which was enhanced to death sentence by the apex court.

Gang leader Veerappan was killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004.

The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on April 19, 2012.

The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.

The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.

The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.

Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.

“Nine years delay in disposal of the petitioners’ mercy petitions has given them a right to approach this Court or the High Court to seek a commutation of the sentence of death,” the petition said.

On the last date of hearing, the court gave Narain the liberty to amend and rectify the petition after objections were raised on its maintainability by Attorney General G E Vahanvati who was asked to assist the court.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the four convicts, had said their execution should be stayed as another apex court bench had reserved its order on a plea for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Gonsalves had referred to the petitions filed by the two condemned prisoners, Bhullar and Das, on whose plea for commutation of capital punishment to life term on the ground of delay, the apex court reserved its verdict in April last year.

The bench earlier had said that hearing this matter may also have a bearing on the petitions filed by the death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case against the rejection of their mercy petition.

The apex court had on May 1 last year had decided to adjudicate itself the pleas of Rajiv Gandhi killers — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan alias Arivu — against their death penalty due to the delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the President.

The Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

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Cardinal Toppo: The faith of India’s Christians a model for the world

In his message for the 64th Republic Day (26 January), the Archbishop of Ranchi reflects on the role of the Church for the future of India. The country can defeat violence, corruption, poverty, hunger and discrimination if it accepts the peace of God as the universal experience of love and justice. The Indian people must live “consistent lives ” in the faith.

India can become a model for the world only if its people and Christians live a life consistent with the faith. This is the reflection of Card. Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi (Jharkand) and former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), on the occasion of the 64th Republic Day (on 26 January). The cardinal – the first cardinal of tribal origin – notes that these celebrations fall in the context of the Year of Faith, the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, when the pope emphasized the importance of the new evangelization. To respond to India’s problems – violence, corruption, hunger and malnutrition – Card. Toppo invites Christians to conversion and Indians to follow the teachings of Gandhi.

The Church in India has to play an important role in shaping the future of our beloved country. This is our responsibility.  We have to rediscover the Beauty of the Truth, and in this context, our national emblem has the words, ‘Satyameva Jayate Truth Alone Triumphs.

It is significant that our celebrations of  our 64th Republic Day is in the  context  of this Year of Faith, New Evangelisation, 50th Anniversary of Second Vatican Council -and also the Holy Father’s World Day of Peace Message, Blessed are the Peace Makes – as instruments gifted to the Church to fulfil our obligation to the Church in the world.

The Church is a sign of sacrament of salvation..India can become a model for the world, when we live coherent lives of faith, which  means a deep coherence between knowing our Catholic teaching with our minds, truly believing it in our hearts, practicing it with our lives and passing it along to our family and friends. This is our faith, and each of us have a responsibility to fulfil.It is through coherent lives of faith in which we share the responsibility in our efforts to transform the world in and around us.

Corruption and violence may take the form of a crime against humanity itself and they are corroding our nation’s character – the New Delhi rape case is a challenge to our conscience. . It is vital and urgent, for a transformation from a culture of Corruption and violence to a culture of justice and peace.

The Pope Benedict XVI Message for World Day of Peace, – “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” reminds  us that God’s peace is the universal experience of justice and love.

Pope Benedict’s message addresses the personal and structural evils of greed, inequality and violence. The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi understood that violence was linked to poverty and injustice.

The Church has to be the light of the world, and as Christians, even as a minority of (2.3%) as per census 2011, we have to live our vocation through witness of our lives.  Regrettably too often, we live our faith with spiritual inertnia, tepidness, routine.  This Year of Faith is a time of Grace to rediscover the original purity of faith which we received in Baptism.

The beauty of Christ, has to be visible in the lives of Christians, the testimony of life will attract people to Christ, the way of beauty is about the culture in the broadest sense of the word. It is therefore, about how we live our lives in every aspect.  Each of us are called to bear witness to the world of the beauty of Christ

There can be no peace without justice and development; Pope Paul VI had already stated that development is another name for peace. Peace is the prerequisite for development, human rights, and Justice especially in the face of growing marginalisation of weaker sections like tribals, women and dalits.   It is only in peace and through peace can respect for human dignity and its inalienable rights be guaranteed.

Hunger and malnourishment are serious problem, a result of poverty in general. Our country has seen over a quarter of a million farmers’ suicides between 1995 and 2010.  Over a third of India’s population lives below the poverty line and about half the country’s 350 million children are chronically malnourished.  Gandhi concept of development is Sarvodaya through Antyodaya, implying the welfare of all through the weakest of the society

The Holy Father writes, “Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love- in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others  Love for God and Love for Neighbour are inextricably intertwined.  Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationships, urging us to have sensibility, or sensitivity for other.

As we Indians celebrate our 64th Republic Day, may we citizens of this great Republic India, take to heart Pope Benedict  message, “Blessed are the Peace makers, be committed to the truth that “Evil is in fact overcome by good.”

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”

God Bless India !

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Catholic groups succeed in getting Shiv Sena banner off

That unity is strength was demonstrated yet again, when community groups took umbrage to reportedly a hoarding that was put up outside Holy Cross Church in Lower Parel, Mumbai warning of “Shiv Sena Style” tactics, if the pre-primary school admission policy was not changed. The hoarding condemned  the school for admitting students in accordance with the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the Shiv Sena urged preference to locals, in disregard to reservations, which the school was following. The hoarding continued to remain outside the church compound despite much media attention.

However, the concerted insistence by community groups, which represented the case with the Additional and Deputy Commissioners of Police ensured the hoarding was taken off. This according to The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias was necessary because the local police inspector took no action, despite repeated complaints. ‘ The hoarding was objectionable because it demanded that the school violate the provisions of the RTE Act and incited the public if it did not do so. It also threatened the school of an agitation (andolan), if it failed to fall in line ‘, he said.

Judith Monteiro, an activist of the nearby parish, who assisted the school in the admission process said that since many complaints were given to the police, they ought to have acted promptly, but did not do so. Agnelo Fernandes of the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum (MCYF) hit out against the Shiv Sena and said it was trying to target the school which was protected as minority institution and only doing its duty. Adv. Joe Sodderof the Catholics for the Preservation of the Faith (CPF) said that such threats and attacks on the community would not be taken lying down and the community needs to rise against it. Archie Sodder of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) urged the Shiv Sena to reserve a quota for the East Indian Christians and Kolis, who were sons of the soil in Mumbai and demonstrate the party’s concern.

The CSF aims to bring all Christian denominations together and deal with such emergencies, as more such provocations can be expected. Fr Constancio Noronha, manager of the school and Parish Priest of the Church which runs it thanked the community groups for their support. We will keep you informed of developments on this front and will seek your assistance, as the admission process continues. The groups have also urged the Archdiocesan Board of Education to consider collective action as a protest against such threats.

EARLIER REPORT: SHIV SENA THREATENS LOWER PAREL SCHOOL FOR FOLLOWING RTE RULES

Members of the Shiv Sena have put up a banner outside the Holy Cross School, Lower Parel, threatening to launch a ‘Sena-style’ protest.

Mumbai, February 14, 2013: The school, run by the local  has been following the Right to Education (RTE) rules that mandate a 25% quota for children from economically  weak families. Since the institution is run by a religious minority, the school is also entitled to reserve 50% of its seats for Catholics. However, the local Shiv Sena have objected to this, saying that first preference should be given to those students living in the neighbourhood, who have been unable to apply because of these quotas. The school, currently in the process of deciding admissions to its kindergarten section, has lodged a complaint with the NM Joshi police station.

Father Constancio Noronha, school manager, in a letter to the police, said, “This is to bring to your immediate and urgent notice that a banner with orange flags has been put up outside our church and school gate threatening us regarding our junior KG admission process. …The banner has caused fear among our children and people. There is also fear of damage to our school property. Could you kindly take necessary action and grant us the necessary protection so as to prevent loss to lives and property?”

The school has distributed 500 forms for 60 seats in the open category and 1,000 forms for 60 seats in the RTE category. It also has 120 seats reserved for minority students.

The Sena wants applications to be accepted uniformly. “Locals within a one-kilometer radius of the school should get first preference,” said Nana Ambole, a local Sena leader whose name appears on the banner.

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India: Day of thanks for Benedict XVI and his Pontificate

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, has launched a special day on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, to honour of the pope. In these eight years, the Holy Father has repeatedly identified the challenges facing India and Asia: a dialogue between cultures and religions, secularization, globalization and implementation of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Mumbai, February 14, 2013: February 22 next, Christians from all over India will spend the day with Benedict XVI and his pontificate. The initiative is being launched by Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), who chose the feast of the Chair of St. Peter to express the deep gratitude of the Church in India to the Holy Father. That day, at 18:30, every Christian institution, convent and monastery will dedicate an hour of adoration to the pope.

In these eight years of his pontificate, Benedict XVI addressed on several occassions and in different ways issues dear to India and Asia. For example in the encyclicals Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi and Caritas in Veritate, which identify some of the most significant challenges of the continent. “In addition to the dialogue between cultures, with the poor and with other religions – said the cardinal, who is secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) – Benedict XVI stressed the need to implement the Church’s social doctrine to the realities of today : the economy, globalization, the gap between rich and poor, ecology, fundamentalism. ” Thus, he stressed, “development is at the heart of human actions, and globalization and progress can serve humanity.”

The pope’s attention to the Asian world was manifested not only through his documents. “Asia – noted Card. Gracias – is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, and the repeated attempts of Benedict XVI to communicate with Muslims was a really important challenge. With intellectual clarity and academic brilliance he has created the basis to understand their differences and call for a united front against secularization. ”

The archbishop of Mumbai, says “the last two days of world peace” were fundamental.  In 2011, “Religious freedom, the path of peace,” the pope said that “religious freedom is an authentic weapon for peace that can change the world and make it better.” In his message for 2012, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Benedict XVI said that “peace is not merely the absence of war,” but more importantly, reiterates Indian cardinal, “it is the universal experience of justice and love, which contrasts with the personal and structural evils of greed, inequality and violence. ”

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