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November 3 to November 9, 2010 No 4700
Christians Blogs agog in Sudan at over ‘Catholic crossroads Simpsons’
Pilgrimage goes to Galilee
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Inside Chaplain turns to Facebook A Johannesburg-based prison chaplain has turned to Facebook to exercise his ministry more effectively.—Page 2
Vatican: Don’t hang Aziz The Vatican has appealed to Iraqi authorities not to execute Saddam Hussein’s deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, a Catholic, after he was sentenced to death.—Page 4
Quest for Mid-East peace The October Synod of Bishops for the Middle East appealed to Christians to remain in the region and managed to upset Israel.—Page 10
What’s the ‘kingdom of God’? In the Hearing the Good News series, Clifford Yeary explains Christ’s promise of the “kingdom of God”.—Page 9
What do you think? In their Letters to the Editor this week, readers discuss science in creation, a Latin phrase, road carnage, living wages, and faith and religion.—Page 8
This week’s editorial: The Church and Judaism
Next bishops’ synod turns to secular world BY JOHN THAVIS
OPE Benedict has chosen “new evangelisation” as the theme for the next world Synod of Bishops in 2012. The pope said the topic reflects a need to re-evangelise in countries where Christian faith and practice have declined, and where people “have even moved away from the Church”. Referring to the special Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in October, which focused on the pastoral challenges of the region, he said: “What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelisation for the Middle East as well. This was quite a widespread theme, especially in the countries where Christianity has ancient roots.” The pope said he chose the next synod topic, “The new evangelisation for the transmission of the Christian faith”, after consulting with the world’s episcopate. He recently created the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, and has made re-evangelising a main theme of his pontificate. Pope Benedict has presided over two world synods, one on the Eucharist and one on Scripture, as well as regional synods for Africa and the Middle East. He streamlined the format of these encounters to allow for more exchange of opinion, and has sometimes joined in the discussions. His apostolic letter on the synod on Scripture, held in 2008, is expected late this year.—CNS
The famous Aachen Cathedral Choir from Germany and the choir of Emmanuel cathedral in Durban joined forces to sing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” at the end of the “Cardinal’s Concert” in the Durban cathedral. The Aachen choir—known as Der Aachener Domchor—has been active for 1 200 years. It is the oldest boys’ choir in Germany and one of the oldest in the world. The choir performed in several venues in South Africa. Proceeds from the Durban event went towards Emmanuel cathedral’s Denis Hurley Centre. PHOTO: COSTAS CRITICOS
Church: What’s needed for better education BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
EPRESENTATIVES of the Catholic Church met with the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to discuss the challenges facing Catholic education and proposals for the improvement of the national education environment. Delegates included Bishops Edward Risi and Zithulele Mvemve, Catholic Institute of Education (CIE) director Mark Potterton, CIE deputy director Anne Baker, Sr Kathy Gaylor OP, chairwoman of the Catholic Schools Proprietors Association, and Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, associate secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC). The delegation delivered a document tabling the challenges currently facing schools for the minister to consider. Mr Potterton said the document discusses the issues around subsidies, rentals of private property for public schools and the challenges facing schools arising from the curriculum review documents currently before parliament. The document also includes proposals for improving education. “These proposals include, inter alia, the establishment of new schools for informal settlement dwellers and refugees, integrated teacher development programmes and the reconsideration of subsidy levels for marginal independent schools,” Mr Potterton said. The meeting affirmed the Church’s mission in Catholic schools to “serve and participate fully as a meaningful partner in the
From left: Bishop Zithulele Mvemve, Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, education minister Angie Motshekga, Sr Kathy Gaylor OP, Mark Potterton, Anne Baker, and Bishop Edward Risi. ongoing development of South African society”. Mr Potterton said the delegation represented a united call from both the education sector and the Church for society to re-evaluate the common perceptions of the teaching profession, and the urgent need to improve the status of teachers in the community. Mr Potterton said Catholic education has been distinguished by the commitment of its educators, who see “their teaching as a mission and true calling”. It was hoped the department would strive to encourage the same dedication. Sr Gaylor said that although the Church may not have financial resources at its disposal, “it brings a wealth of experience and skills to the table from which the education sector as a whole can benefit”. Poverty and HIV/Aids were specific issues
that the education department must address. The document said there is a need to find and provide “models for responding to the effects of HIV/Aids in our education system and for community-based care and support of children who live with and are affected by HIV/Aids”. Mr Potterton said the Catholic Schools’ Network is actively engaged in this struggle, but more department involvement is needed. He said the meeting included a discussion on the monitoring of schools. “Government has over time gathered sufficient data to monitor the performance of schools and can categorise them according to performance levels. We feel strongly that steadily performing schools should be acknowledged and given greater autonomy in managing their own affairs.” Mr Potterton said the argument that schools cannot be held accountable until they are properly resourced still needed to be addressed. In addition to highlighting issues, the delegation offered solutions which included better fund management, accountable leaders, honest school appraisals, regular subsidies and further investment in teachers. The delegation felt the experience and knowledge found in Catholic education could be highly beneficial and could be tested in pilot projects operated by the department. The CIE director pointed out that Catholic schools are not private initiatives but rather,”an expression of the reality of the Church”. Continued on page 2
The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
‘Spreding’ the friendship faith
Prison chaplain spreads his ministry through Facebook
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
HATEVER its mission, the Church needs to use all resources available. This is the message from Fr Jordan Ngondo, prison chaplain for the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in Johannesburg, who has taken his ministry to the social networking website Facebook for prisoners, their families, correctional services officials and civil society to interact. “I’ve taken this ministry to attract and create awareness on prison ministry, to communicate with people using current technological means,” said Fr Ngondo, who has been a permanent prison chaplain for 15 years. He said Facebook was not only a means to communicate with those in his ministry, but also with others who use the website. Fr Ngondo said he hopes to reach the youth because “there is a notable reduction in the number of youth congregants.” As a chaplain, Fr Ngondo is the link between the DCS and the Church. He also manages faith activities and rehabilitation programmes and ministers to DCS staff, prisoners, victims of crime and families of the victims. “I do a lot of counselling, debriefing sessions and death notification, and I minister to the emergency staff.” Fr Ngondo said that using Facebook is just another outlet for his ministries and an option for people to communicate with the Church. Facebook, Fr Ngondo said, is used by people from all walks of
Fr Jordan Ngondo, a prison chaplain from Johannesburg, wants God’s message to be spread through any means available. life, the young, the old and also priests. He added that the Church was not utilising the Internet to its fullest yet. Fr Ngondo said Facebook could serve as a platform for debating and discussing spiritual and moral social issues. “It’s a way to share thoughts and ideas and, in this way, it’s a means of education. I personally know of a prisoner who transformed his life through acquiring education. I have seen this man who was a criminal mastermind use his intellect to pursue his studies in law.” Fr Ngondo said such stories could be shared online and given as an example of positive rehabil-
itation, to benefit prisoners and civil society. He said there was a need for more involvement in prison ministries. “I am appealing to all the priests who have a prison in their parish to get involved.” He said volunteers did a lot of the work in the prisons. While their work was “splendid”, he said, the importance of involvement from priests and other religious cannot be underestimated. Fr Ngondo said he is trying to make it easier for all parties to communicate, and he hopes Facebook will be a valuable tool in his ministry.
ARISHIONERS of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rivonia, Johannesburg, have launched the Special Religious Development programme (Spred). The programme is designed to assist children, teenagers, young adults and adults with disability, learning disabilities or mental limitations. The programme’s Cherryl Brooke said that participants in Spred are called to learn more about and share their faith. “As faith is a journey, more can always be both learned and shared. This programme is a special catechesis, a programme using symbol and liturgy as a basis for a catechetical experience.” The programme was developed in the late 1950s from the “Vivre” method researched and written by Fr Jean Mesny of Lyon. According to Ms Brooke, this work was enhanced by research and refined by personnel in the Chicago diocesan cathechetical department. “The programme is educationally, psychologically as well as theologically sound,” she said. Each church that adopts the programme is given a basic outline from which a locally based programme evolves—ensuring maximum relevance to the local Church, she said. Rivonia parishioners are behind the programme in which groups of six “friends” and six trained volunteer helpers work in a one-to-one relationship. Ms Brooke said the programme helps people with developmental disabilities on their faith journey and enables “these people to take
Church and minister on education Continued from page 1 Mr Potterton said Catholic schools fulfil a service of public usefulness. “Our schools are not reserved for Catholics [only]. Catholic schools are open to all those who appreciate and share our vision.” The bishops thanked and welcomed Ms Motshekga’s frank assessment of the country’s education situation. “Her willingness to engage and listen is refreshing and her openness to partnership and working with others to improve the educa-
tion is also appreciated,” said Bishop Risi, head of the diocese of Keimoes-Upington. Ms Motshekga acknowledged the long and valuable contribution the Catholic Church has made to education in South Africa, and thanked the Church for its positive contribution. The Catholisc Church has been involved in education in South Africa since the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption opened the first Catholic school in 1849. In 1976, the Catholic Church
led the way in opening what were then private schools for white children, to all race groups. The CIE is supported by the SACBC in serving 355 Catholic schools in which 174543 students are educated. The delegation took a united stance, committing to work with Department of Education officials to further explore ways of working together in the future. The meeting sought a way forward for both Catholic schools and the education system in the country.
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Fr Stephen Tully, administrator of Emmanuel cathedral in Durban, stops at a fountain in Pamplona, Spain, during his 780km walk to Santiago de Compostela to raise funds for the Denis Hurley Centre. Fr Tully was due to return to Durban on November 2.
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their rightful place in the parish community”. The concept of friendship is fundamental to the programme as it is taken from the Jesus' words: “I call you friend.” Ms Brooke said the programme holds that there is nothing more precious than a true friend—“one who is there for us”, which is precisely why the programme was developed. Spred groups are formed according to chronological age, and sessions are held once every fortnight. Ms Brooke said volunteers must be committed to the programme because Spred is based on forming relationships with other people. “It is this faithfulness that speaks louder than words”. Spred is a network of services designed to assist persons with developmental disabilities and/or learning problems to become integrated into parish assemblies of worship through the process of education in faith, said Ms Brooke. One parishioner, Seja Tsanwani, said the programme had been a way to get involved in the community. “Spred for me is one of the most special ways of practising, affirming and celebrating the resurrection of Christ.” Ms Brooke said all volunteers were trained in the ongoing programme, which offers parishes the materials and training to support their learning-disabled members. “Inclusion in the life of the parish community, at all levels, is the goal of Spred.” For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 011 803 1229.
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The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
New rules worry Zim refugees BY BRONWEN DACHS
HE lives of unskilled Zimbabweans who have fled economic and political hardship may become more difficult with South Africa’s latest requirements to remain in the country, said priests who work with migrants. Mariannhill Father Danisa Khumalo, who coordinates the Johannesburg archdiocese’s ministry to Zimbabwean refugees, welcomed the South African government’s efforts to regularise the status of Zimbabweans in South Africa. However, he said, many Zimbabweans “are worried about getting their documents in time” to avoid deportation. The priest said he has seen people sleeping in the long queues outside Johannesburg’s Home Affairs offices. Ending its moratorium on deportations, the South African government has given Zimbabweans a deadline of December 31 to submit documentation seeking permission to work and live in the country. To avoid being sent home, they need to produce a passport, a letter from an employer or proof that they are studying in South Africa. “I see this as an opportunity” that Zimbabweans “should take up and use for their benefit”, Fr Khumalo said. Jesuit Refugee Service gave a “cautious welcome” to the new regulations after they were announced in September. In a statement, the agency said it was “pleased to see the South African government has recognised the necessity of providing assistance to vulnerable Zimbabweans” and that cross-border coop-
eration between the Zimbabwean and South African governments “promises a more effective and meaningful solution to migration flows between the two countries”. The Johannesburg archdiocese is disseminating information about the new rules, Fr Khumalo said, noting that its offices in Braamfontein posted the Home Affairs requirements on its notice board and also reassured people that “after December, asylum permits and refugee documents will still be valid”. Some people “are suspicious that this is a trick from the South African government to get rid of undocumented Zimbabweans”, Fr Khumalo said. They “are waiting to see if those who have submitted their papers will get the permits”. Despite a unity government formed in Zimbabwe in February 2009 by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, the influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa has not abated. “Many Zimbabweans acknowledge that some change has taken place, although it’s seen as window dressing by many,” Fr Khumalo said. “Many people think that it is not yet OK for them to go back to Zimbabwe as there are no employment opportunities there, and salaries are still ridiculously low” at about R1 000 monthly for most civil servants, he said. “Three-quarters of the people who come for assistance at our offices are unskilled, and their chances of getting jobs in Zimbabwe are slim,” Fr Khumalo said. “They are not prepared to go back home because here they get the
opportunity to do some [part-time] jobs, and with this they are able to sustain their families in Zimbabwe.”
HE Forced Migration Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand estimates that between one million and 1,5 million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa. About 200 000 Zimbabweans were deported in the year leading up to the April 2009 moratorium. Sacred Heart Father Frank Gallagher of Queen of Peace parish in Makhado in the diocese of Tzaneen fears the new regulations will lead to a cycle of deportations and desperate efforts to return. “Unless things change dramatically in Zimbabwe, people will do all they can to stay here, especially with Zimbabwean elections scheduled for next year and reports of intimidation,” Fr Gallagher said. Most of the approximately 100 Zimbabwean men in a shelter that Fr Gallagher runs are unskilled and “battle to find work” in South Africa. “They are stuck—they can’t go forward and they can’t go back,” he said, noting that the men, who are mostly 18-30, earn about R20 a day in short-term work they sometimes find, and they send that money home to their families. Fr Gallagher’s parish distributes soup and bread to Zimbabweans who sleep on a field at the side of the town’s main road that leads to Johannesburg. He also runs a home for boys who, unaccompanied by adults, crossed Zimbabwe’s border into South Africa. “If the deportations that the gov-
A Zimbabwean man waits outside a Department of Home Affairs refugee office in Cape Town. The amnesty for visa-free crossing into South Africa granted to Zimbabweans will expire at the end of this year, alarming immigrants who face mass deportations. PHOTO: MIKE HUTCHINGS, REUTERS/CNS
ernment is threatening to resume means that these boys are forced to go back to Zimbabwe, their education will be compromised and they will have nowhere to go,” Fr Gallagher said. The boys have been at school in Makhado since the start of the school year in January. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg—a member of the Solidarity Peace Trust, an ecumenical group of South Africans and Zimbabweans— said it would be “a major challenge for Home Affairs staff to complete all the work involved in producing the permits and other documents by the end of the year”. “The time involved is enormous
Bethlehem aims for ‘self-reliance’ and good governance BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
ETHLEHEM’S biannual diocesan pastoral council (DPC) meeting was held with the theme “Good Governance”. Fr Dikotsi Mofokeng said the participants, who met at the John Paul II Formation Centre in Bethlehem, included priests, religious and permanent deacons working in the diocese, as well as members of parish pastoral councils and parish financial councils
from throughout the diocese. Fr Mofokeng said the theme covered most of the essential issues in parish life, but focused especially on leadership. Young people, sodalities and movement representatives discussed problems and solutions with the aim of creating models of successful leadership and responsible stewardship for the nearly 70 000 Catholics in the region. Another broadly discussed issue was transparency and
accountability. The issue is not uncommon in civil society, but it was necessary for the “Church to be an example to others”. Fr Mofokeng said discussions were “successful” and have given the diocese specific direction for the rest of the year. “On the last day of the meeting, an occasion to raise funds for the running of the diocese was held for the first time ever in this gathering. To the surprise of the participants, the target of R80 000 was reached”.
The funds will be used for various projects in the diocese. At the end of the DPC, Bishop Jan de Groef of Bethlehem said the diocese is “really getting the principle of the ‘self-reliant Church’”. The diocese has taken on the call made at last year’s Second Synod of Bishops for Africa, which discussed how the Church on the continent could become a more effective agent of transformation and become selfsufficient.
because of the sheer numbers of people seeking documentation,” he said. There “seems to be tremendous confusion about what is required” among the people lining up outside Home Affairs offices in Rustenburg. But he commended the government on its efforts to regularise the status of Zimbabweans in the country. “People want to make their stay here legal and sustainable. It’s not as though they are here through a choice between two good situations,” Bishop Dowling said, adding that the problems in Zimbabwe are “horrendous”.—CNS
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The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
Vatican: Don’t hang Saddam’s Catholic sidekick
HE Holy See hopes the death penalty will not be carried out against former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, 74, said the Vatican spokesman. “The position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty is known,” spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said after the Iraqi high court sentenced Aziz to death by hanging. “Therefore, it is truly to be hoped that the sentence against Tariq Aziz will not be carried out,
precisely in order to favour reconciliation and the reconstruction of peace and justice in Iraq after the great suffering it has undergone.” Fr Lombardi said the Vatican might use diplomatic channels to intervene in the case. The court sentenced Aziz, a Catholic who also served as foreign minister for then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for persecution of Shiite religious parties. Aziz is currently in prison and in poor health. He has been con-
victed for his role in the 1992 execution of more than three dozen merchants found guilty of profiteering and for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq. Aziz has 30 days to appeal. His Jordan-based lawyer told The Associated Press they were consulting about their next moves. Aziz, who spoke English fluently, was often the face of Saddam’s regime in the 1990s and before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, when
he surrendered to US forces. In 1998, Aziz travelled to the Vatican and met with Pope John Paul II. Aziz told Rome reporters he gave the pope a letter from Saddam asking the Vatican’s help in lifting the UN-imposed sanctions on Iraq. Aziz met with the pope again in 2003, as the Vatican engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to prevent the US-led invasion. During that same visit to Italy, Aziz was invited by the Franciscan friars in Assisi, to pray at St Francis’
tomb. Many Italians complained that the Franciscans were being used by a man who since 1979 had been the No 2 official of a regime guilty of serious human rights abuses. In June 1992, when Iraqi officials refused to renew an agreement that would allow Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity to remain in Baghdad, Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid appealed to Aziz, and the nuns were allowed to stay.—CNS
In Jesus’ birthplace, there must be negotiations to fix a leaky roof BY JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
OOPERATION among the three Christian communities in Bethlehem’s ancient church of the Nativity has been “going smoothly” as a restoration survey of the building gets under way, said the secretary of the Status Quo Commission for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. “In the case of the Custody, we have accepted the role of the [Palestinian] government because it is necessary to do something about the basilica,” said Franciscan Father Athanasius Macora. “The work is being supervised by the Palestinian Authority with strict consideration of the Status Quo,” a 19thcentury agreement that regulates jurisdiction of and access to key Christian sites in Jerusalem for Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian communities. He noted that talks had been conducted among the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Orthodox church communities for more than a decade trying, with encouragement from the Palestinian Authority, to find a way to renovate the roof. However, in 2009, the Palestinian Authority decided to take a more active role and, in September, an agreement was signed with an Italian consortium to
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A pilgrim prays in the basilica of Nativity in Bethlehem. The ancient church needs repairs, which requires cooperation between the different denominations that occupy it and the Palestinian Authority. PHOTO: DEBBIE HILL, CNS
undertake a survey of the ancient building, he said. The survey, which is using sophisticated building scanners to accurately evaluate the building’s structural condition, began in September and is expected to be completed in this month, said Fr Macora. The main concern is the state of the roof, which is hundreds of years old, has been leaking,
and is made up of wood brought over from Venice in the 1480s, he said. The leaking has caused damaged to pillars and mosaics in the church. Over the centuries, piecemeal repairs have been made to the roof, the Franciscan said, and this will be the first comprehensive restoration on the church since it was completed in the fourth century. “Some of the repairs have not been very good and we need to use modern technology,” said Fr Macora. “After the survey is completed we will need to move to phase two and see what needs to be restored. As it stands now the main object is to do restoration of the roof.” During a visit to the site on October 26 by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority announced the plans for a major restoration of the church which is shared by the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches. The Palestinian Authority has said it expects the multi-year renovation project to cost millions of dollars and has appealed to governments abroad to help fund the project. The Palestinian tourism ministry said the restoration work would not hinder pilgrims visiting the holy site.—CNS
Pope backs ‘right to emigrate’ BY JOHN THAVIS
OPE Benedict has said the world has a responsibility to help refugees find places to live and work in safety, as part of its vocation to form “one family”, while a Vatican official noted that South Africa has almost as many refugee applicants as all of Europe combined. Welcoming refugees is an “imperative gesture of human solidarity”, the pope said in a message the 2011 World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on January 16 in most countries. “This means that those who are forced to leave their homes or their country will be helped to find a place where they may live in peace and safety, where they may work and take on the rights and duties that exist in the country that welcomes them,” the pope said. The pope chose “One Human Family” as the theme for next year’s commemoration. The human family is multiethnic and multicultural, the pope said, and everyone, including migrants and the local populations that welcome them, “have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches”. “It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded,” he said. The pope underlined that the increasing movement of peoples today is often motivated by conflict or discrimination. “For these people who flee
from violence or persecution, the international community has taken on precise commitments. Respect of their rights, as well as the legitimate concern for security and social coherence, foster a stable and harmonious existence.” The pope defended the “right to emigrate” as a fundamental right to leave one’s country and enter another country to look for better conditions of life. That implies responsibilities among immigrants and the host countries, he said. “States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host country, respecting its laws and its national identity,” he said.
t a news conference to present the papal message, a Vatican official said such integration does not mean mere assimilation into a kind of “melting pot”. Archbishop Antonio Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers, said that immigrants might undergo a “de-culturalisation” when they are expected to simply conform to the host culture. At the other end of the scale, immigrants who completely resist the host culture end up living in a kind of cultural ghetto, he said. The proper balance involves
“cultural synthesis”, in which cultural values are exchanged, benefiting both the immigrant community and the host country, he said. Archbishop Veglio related that when he was named to head the council for migrants in 2008, he noticed that its activities included pastoral outreach to Roma, or Gypsies. “I thought, ‘Oh, Lord, I have to defend the Gypsies?’ That was a stupid reaction. I didn’t realise this is a people of 12 million throughout Europe with their own history,” he said. He understands now that Gypsies cannot simply be assimilated into various European cultures, because they have one of their own. Fr Gabriele Bentoglio, undersecretary of the pontifical council, said there are about 15 million refugees in the world today, and about 27 million internally displaced persons. Many have acted with “courage” in leaving tragic circumstances in their homelands, he said. Fr Bentoglio said it’s a common misperception that only places like Europe or the United States are facing a large influx of immigrants. Last year, he said, South Africa had 220 000 people requesting refuge in the country—nearly equal to the total for all of Europe. He said many countries’ refusal and discrimination towards immigrants is in contradiction to the international agreements they have signed.— CNS
The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
‘Kidnapping brought me back to God’ BY ROSEMARY BERNTH
URVIVING six months as a hostage of Colombian rebels in 1997 turned Marino Restrepo back to his Catholic faith and made him understand that the extravagant lifestyle he had enjoyed before being kidnapped was wrong. “I was only interested in money, fame, pleasure and living in the fast lane,” he told a “Christ Our Life” Catholic conference in Des Moines, Iowa. “I thought I was a good guy because I was involved in charities, but I was committing a mortal sin because I was living away from God.” Mr Restrepo, who delivered a series of talks in South Africa last year, was kidnapped by members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) during a visit home at Christmas. He has credited his release to “a miracle”. Now a full-time missionary for the Church, he travels the world evangelising. Starting in the early 1980s, he spent almost 20 years touring internationally as an entertainer. Mr Restrepo said that faith is
more than just believing in a religion. “Our homework is to learn how to love, how to forgive and giving our possessions. Our heart will go where the treasure is. We need to be sure the real treasure is the Lord and our priorities are not earthly but heavenly.” He was one of several speakers who addressed thousands attending the conference, organised under the theme “From Doubt to Faith”. The gathering was aimed at enriching attendees’ “searching souls”. Another speaker, Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, retired prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said the conference promoted the ideal of putting Christ at the centre of everything. The cardinal said most Catholics “have remained babies or dwarves in matters of religious knowledge”, yet are experts in society. “They can navigate expertly on the Internet, but they are unfamiliar with the contours of the Catholic faith. Many young Catholics, and some not so young, can name all the footballers in the different leagues together with their
coaches. But they have quite a problem naming the 12 apostles.” One book in particular Cardinal Arinze suggested his listeners read is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he considers a guidebook for parents to teach their children about the faith. Cardinal Arinze also said time should be set aside for prayer because it helps with spiritual warfare. “In the battlefield that is our earthly pilgrimage, we need prayer in order to continue to win victory over the devil and our weaknesses.” He said attending Sunday Mass and receiving the Eucharist was also a strong weapon of faith. Matthew Kelly, an international Catholic speaker and author, told his conference audience that the Church is “a sleeping giant”. “We’ve forgotten our story. The early Christians lived differently, loved differently and worked differently. As modern Catholics, we seem to blend in.” Mr Kelly said Catholics today appear to be lost and compared the Catholic faith to a treasure map. “I think we’re failing to demonstrate the relevance of Catholicism
Blogs agog over ‘Catholic Simpsons’ BY SARAH DELANEY
HE people at the Vatican newspaper weigh in on any number of serious issues, but they are now being challenged in the blogosphere after they claimed that Homer Simpson is one of their own, even if he doesn’t know it. In an opinion piece perhaps intended to push some buttons, L’Osservatore Romano wrote: “Few know it, and he does his best to hide it, but it’s true: Homer J Simpson is Catholic.” That assertion predictably provoked some amused or sarcastic reactions on blogs and websites, including from the show’s executive producer, Al Jean. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said: “My first reaction is shock and awe, and I guess it makes up for me not going to church for 20 years.” But, he is quoted as saying, “we’ve pretty clearly shown that Homer is not Catholic. I really don’t think he could go without eating meat on Fridays—for even an hour.” The Washington Post titled a blog, “Is the Dope Catholic? The Vatican blesses the Simpsons”, and asked: “So is L’Osservatore Romano truly so passionate about The Simpsons that it is seeking a cartoon conversion? Or is this just a way to connect through pop culture?” The Vatican newspaper column, titled “Homer and Bart are Catholic”, referred to a ninepage scholarly analysis of the cartoon in the October 16 issue of the Italian Jesuit weekly La Civiltà Cattolica. That article asserted that the series “is one of the few television shows for kids in which the Christian faith, religion and questions about
The Simpsons, whom the Vatican newspaper called “Catholic”. PHOTO FROM FOX
God are recurring themes”. La Civiltà Cattolica pointed out that the Simpsons “say grace before meals, and in their way, believe in heaven”. However, the article’s author, Fr Francesco Occhetta SJ, said by telephone that L’Osservatore Romano had perhaps exaggerated. “That may be their interpretation, but we never said the Simpsons were Catholic.” Instead, Fr Occhetta said, the fact that the series often deals with religion, even irreverently, shows that Homer Simpson “is open to the question of faith and God”. The analysis in the magazine recalled a 2007 episode titled, “The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star”, in which Homer and his son Bart are attracted to Catholicism after meeting a priest (played by Liam Neeson) they could connect with. “In that episode, the Catholic Church comes out looking good,” Fr Occhetta said, although the depiction of a Catholic nun in the episode is based on an outdated, negative stereotype. The Simpsons regularly and distractedly attend a church, presided over by the often
Cause for prisoner cardinal opened
HE diocese of Rome has formally opened the sainthood process for Vietnamese Cardinal François Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in prison in communist Vietnam—nine of them in solitary confinement. After he was freed by authorities in 1988, Pope John Paul II named him vice-president of the Pontifical Council for Jus-
tice and Peace in 1994 and president of the council in 1998. He died in Rome in 2002, which is why the diocese formally opened his sainthood cause. In his 2007 encyclical on Christian hope, Pope Benedict called Cardinal Van Thuan an exemplary model of maintaining hope through prayer, even in a “situation of seemingly utter hopelessness”.—CNS
ridiculous Rev Lovejoy. Fr Occhetta said that while the show lampoons certain religious figures, it shows the Simpsons are a family of faith and open to Christianity. Producer Al Jean called the church “presbylutheran”. The show criticises “those who preach a Christian life but don’t live it”, Fr Occhetta said. He said it is in contrast to Walt Disney films where characters are only good or only bad. “In The Simpsons, that’s not how it is. Good and bad coexist in every person, just like real people”, which is why people keep watching, he said. Addressing the fact that some parents don’t think the show is appropriate for children, L’Osservatore wrote that despite some “dangers” in the long-running series, parents “don’t need to be afraid of letting their children watch the adventures of the little yellow people”. In fact, it said, watching episodes together could furnish the basis for conversations about family life, school, society and politics. And because the show is full of “sceptical realism”, young television watchers learn early on not to believe everything they see, the Vatican newspaper said. The latest essay is not the first example of attention to Homer Simpson’s spiritual essence in L’Osservatore Romano. In a comment on The Simpsons when the show celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2009, it said: “Simultaneously reflecting modern people’s indifference towards and great need for the sacred, Homer… finds his ultimate refuge in God”—even if he doesn’t always get his name right.—CNS
Hundreds of people pray for peace in Mexico during a Mass at the Macroplaza in downtown Monterrey. In the nearly four years since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched an unprecedented attack on Mexico’s drug kingpins, nearly 30 000 people have been killed. PHOTO: TOMAS BRAVO, REUTERS/CNS
in our modern life,” he said. “I think Catholicism is being rejected a lot because it’s old. It is old, but it’s like an old treasure map. A trea-
sure map is valuable if it leads to treasure. If you find a treasure map, you don’t throw it away because it’s old.”—CNS
The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
Youth from St Dominic’s church in Hillcrest in September enjoyed a spiritual and fun-filled weekend at Glenhaven Camp in Underberg, KwaZulu Natal. They were put through their paces in different adventurepacked exercises. SUBMITTED BY ROBYNN LOTT
The Bosco Youth Ministry Team attended Confirmation at St John the Apostle parish in Florida, Johannesburg. Pictured are members of the team with Archbishop Buti Thlgale of Johanneburg and some of the catechists from St John’s. SUBMITTED BY CLARENCE WATTS
First Communion candidates from Our Lady Help of Christians in Lansdowne, Cape Town, attend a retreat at Maryland Centre in Hanover Park. SUBMITTED BY VANESSA THOMAS
IN FOCUS Edited by Nadine Christians
CONGREGATION OF MARIANNHILL MISSIONARIES
Ora et Labora The Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, CMM, sprung from the Trappist Monastery of Mariannhill founded by Abbot Francis Pfanner in South Africa in 1882. We believe that: “Our missionary field is the Kingdom of God and that has not boundaries!” Faithful to the example of Abbot Francis Pfanner, the Mariannhill Brothers and Priests try to be of service to the local church through pastoral, social and development works. We make our contribution to the call for renewing, uplifting, developing and sustaining the human spirit, as our response to the signs and needs of the time. In our missionary life of Prayer and Work (Ora et Labora), we try to effectively proclaim the Good News to all people, especially to the poor and needy, so that there are “Better Fields, Better Houses, Better Hearts!” To know more about us contact: Director of Vocations PO Box 11363, Mariannhill, 3601 or PO Box 85, Umtata, 5099
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Members of the Salesian Youth Movement, which comprises youth from the Salesian parishes at Ennerdale, Lawley and Finetown in Johannesburg, met at St Francis de Sales parish in Lawley to participate in a Mass for students preparing for exams.
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The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
Sudan at the crossroads The mostly Christian South of Sudan is standing at a crossroads: in January its people are scheduled to vote on the option of secession from the mostly Muslim North. Fr VICTOR PHALANA of Pretoria visited the region, and heard about Catholic hopes and fears.
HE South of Sudan, populated predominantly by Christians in a mostly Muslim country, will decide in a referendum scheduled for January 21, 2011, whether to secede from Africa’s largest country. In September, I visited Sudan. I had an opportunity to concelebrate English Mass with the community of St Theresa’s in the southern capital of Juba, and attended the Arabic Mass. I interacted with the people and listened to some of their fears and concerns. I also met with the clergy of the archdiocese of Juba, some of whom had travelled long distances to be there. Our encounter was very rich and very fruitful. They are concerned about the situation of the Church in Sudan, especially the lack of leadership and coordination. At the moment, because of a lack of funds, seminarians are at home while attempts are being made to complete or to renovate the seminary. Parishes cannot maintain their priests because of poverty and unemployment. They did acknowledge the improvements that the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) had made. Road infrastructure, public service, water and electricity are being provided for the people. They believe that if the GOSS is given an opportunity to govern, it will bring changes and deliver services to the people with greater speed and urgency. But the priests fear a creeping culture of corruption among officials. Catholics in the region contin-
ue to attend Mass and support the Church, but the arrival of American-sponsored Pentecostal churches is a great concern, since these churches come to loot and to target the middle class and the rich for their tithes.
enerally the people of Sudan still believe in the contribution of the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations in their struggle for freedom, justice and peace. This legacy can never be erased. But with the advent of Pentecostal churches, people might forget their own responsibilities and look for quick wealth and cheap grace, the priests said. It came out very clearly during our discussions that the coming referendum—which is widely presumed to go in favour of independence—is the only solution to the problems in Sudan. A self-governing South Sudan, people believe, will bring religious freedom and halt what many feel is an agenda of the Islamisation of the whole of the Sudan. It will bring a culture of human rights. A united Sudan, as far as the priests I spoke with are concerned, will prolong their slavery. They will be able to enjoy their God-given resources: oil, minerals and agricultural products. With independence, they can manage their resources and come out of a prison of dependence, deprivation and poverty. At the moment, their wealth and resources are being exploited and enjoyed by their “masters” from the North. The greatest fear of the priests is that the referendum might be postponed. This, they believe, will be the cause of much frustration and disappointment. The referendum was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was signed five years ago and brought to an end the 21-year civil war that claimed more than two million lives and displaced about seven million people. Their fear of postponement is reasonable because the process of border demarcations has not been finalised, and the voter registration
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Women prepare a plot of land for planting vegetables as part of a group food security project in Yei, Southern Sudan. There is a fear that the referendum on independence scheduled for January 2011 will be postponed. PHOTO: PAUL JEFFREY, CNS
process has not yet started. During the United Nations’ Peace Day celebrations, attended by thousands of people, including the archbishop and his priests, we heard one of the leaders saying that the people of the South must go and register. “After registering,” he said, “go to vote and, when you do vote, remember that we have only one choice: separation!” People are living in fear. On the day of my departure, I witnessed troop movements. Battle tanks belonging to the Sudan People’s Liberatioin Army were being transported nearer to Juba. Anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers were transported to various points. People are afraid that if the South votes for a secession, the North might come and attack and start a new war. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Government of South Sudan are in agreement that no matter what, war is not an
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option. They intend to do everything in their power to avert war. The bishops’ conference has issued a pastoral letter, guiding their flock and the people of Sudan concerning the referendum. South Sudanese are concerned that the world’s attention is more on Darfur, in Western Sudan. The world has taken its eyes off South Sudan just as it is facing a very crucial time in its history. We must listen to the voice of the people of South Sudan and be interested in their cause. We need to lobby our governments to support the referendum and give moral and logistical support. We must also continue our material, spiritual and financial support to the people of South Sudan until they can rise up and enjoy their freedom. Support must also go to the process of interreligious dialogue taking place in the South, where Christians and Muslims are working together, trying to find a way
of peaceful coexistence in South Sudan. We might investigate starting an “Adopt-a-Priest” campaign. Most of the priests earn about R300 per month and find the living conditions unbearable. I have learnt a lot from my trip, and the testimonies of these priests and their humility have touched my heart. During the time of apartheid, the universal Church supported us. The pastoral letters of the Sudanese Bishops’ conference were read all over. Our bishops were invited to address our Catholic brothers and sisters all over the world. I returned to South Africa with a bit of malaria, but also with a sense of hope and anxiety for what will happen in the next three months. Read the pastoral letter “Message of Hope” issued by the Sudan Catholic BIshops’ Conference at www.amecea.org/Comm unique.pdf
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The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
LEADER PAGE The Editor reserves the right to shorten or edit published letters. Letters below 300 words receive preference. Pseudonyms are acceptable only under special circumstances and at the Editor’s discretion. Name and address of the writer must be supplied. No anonymous letter will be considered.
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Church and Judaism
HE history of persecution of Jews in the name of the Catholic Church is a most distressing chapter in our history. Popes created the first ghettos, and over almost two millennia much Christian preaching, including that by Catholics, fertilised the fields on which the poisonous fruits of pogroms and ultimately the Holocaust would be harvested. We may never forget that awful history. The Second Vatican Council in its document Nostra Aetate took a huge step in acknowledging that guilt and in healing the deep wounds, a process that continues today. In 2000, Pope John Paul II most unequivocally apologised to the Jewish people for the injustices perpetrated by Catholics against their ancestors—many of them recent. The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in October emphatically reasserted the Catholic condemnation of anti-Semitism and antiJudaism, acclaimed the Church’s desire of dialogue with Judaism, and affirmed the right of the state of Israel to exist at peace within its internationally recognised borders. However, the synod also condemned injustices suffered by people at the hands of Israel. It pointed, among others, to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, forced removals, and the so-called security wall and checkpoints which disempower Palestinians (including most of the region’s Christians) economically, socially and arguably politically. The synod also acknowledged the iniquitous acts committed by Palestinians, but clearly there is no equivalence in the weight of these acts, or in the respective positions of power. The Israeli reaction to the synod’s criticism—and a slice of controversial theology by an individual bishop—has been robust. Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon accused the synod of bishops of being “a forum for political attacks against Israel, in the best tradition of Arab propaganda”. Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious
affairs for the American Jewish Committee—who from his time as rabbi in South Africa should remember the cruelty of apartheid and recognise a semblance of that in the Middle East conflict—bemoaned that the bishops “chose to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict their first focus”, as if the trespasses of others serve as a mitigation. These criticisms are wide off the mark. Because of the tragic history of anti-Semitism, the Catholic Church’s relationship with Judaism must be grounded in humility and sensitivity. But it must not be predicated on keeping silent about injustices perpetrated by the state of Israel, less so when these injustices are visited upon Christians, as they are every day. Let it be clearly understood: criticism of Israel is not intrinsically anti-Semitic. Indeed, the Church’s criticism flows from a deep desire to see all people of the Holy Land live as neighbours in peace—an aspiration shared by all people of good will. But, one may ask, what is the nature of a relationship that is put in question when the Catholic Church exercises its teachings on justice and peace? Where is the equilibrium in a relationship in which only one partner is consistent in showing humility? The Church must speak out against injustices where she sees them, even and especially when these injustices are perpetrated by valued friends. Pope Pius XII is widely criticised for not having spoken out against the terror perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its allies against Europe’s Jews. Today, the Church is not being silent in the face of injustices perpetrated against the Palestinians in the Holy Land. The experience of Pius XII has taught the Church, thanks in great part to the reproach of Jews, that silence is not an option. It is our hope that more Jewish leaders will review the unjust actions of successive Israeli governments, and judge these through the objective values of justice which they demand for themselves, and become true agents for peace.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Something can’t come from nothing
URTHER to Michael Shackleton’s reply to J Quirk (October 13) regarding creation, the following thoughts come to mind. Man did not create the basic physical laws and principles (ie fundamental truths); he merely discovered what had already been created. Mankind does not invent things; mankind merely discovers and formulates what was originally there, that is, part of Creation. These laws could not have been products from the “Primeval Atom” explosion or the “Big Bang” or the “Eternal/Steady State” theory or “gravity concept” or whatever other theory is put forward as to how the world began. Physical occurrences such as these cannot produce elegant mathematical and scientific equations, laws/principles! These needed the God-given human brain of engineers and scientists to uncover and present to the world. If there is “nothing” to start with, it is impossible to create something out of it. Nothing is precisely that: nothing; no air, no chemicals, no time, no microbes,
no gases, no light, no solids, no anything! “In the beginning God created the heaven (the universe?) and the earth”. To do this out of “nothing” can only mean that he first created the original ingredients—perhaps hydrogen and helium atoms—out of nothing, to start the whole process of creation. One day science will probably get to understand how this could have been accomplished, but is unlikely to ever get to the definitive answer, as we would then “know the mind of God” (Ibid P193). How can gravity be nothing when it is itself dependent on matter and the separation distance of this matter; which “matter” could range from photons of energy to solid dust particles and/or thermodynamic effects; it is not even clear whether science has determined whether gravity can exist in isolation of anything else. If the force of gravity is present in this original void, then there is also a gravitational field present; this field is definitely not a “nothingness field”.
And for who else did Jesus die?
blocked all requests to adjust our speed limits in line with Australia and New Zealand, which would cut deaths on our roads in half overnight. In South Africa carnage is king. Where is the public outcry? Where is the outcry by the media? Richard Benson, Road Safety Action Campaign, Cape Town
IKE many others, I prefer the translation of “pro vobis et multis” to be “for you and for all”, rather than “for you and for many”, which sounds selective, as if Christ had died for many, but not for all. I think the problem is that Latin has no definite article, no equivalent of “the”. If “pro vobis et multis” were translated as “for you and the many”, it would not sound selective; it would imply “for you and all the others”. For me that would mean, “for you Christians and everybody else”. Monica Giles, Cape Town
Carnage is king
INCE 2003 the traffic authorities have blocked moves to cut the carnage on South African roads. Since 2003, some 100 000 people have died on our roads. According to the director of public prosecutions in Cape Town traffic, authorities stopped the naming and shaming of convicted drunk drivers in the media. Drunk drivers have since killed roughly 50 000 road users. The traffic authorities have
What’s a fair wage?
GET snide remarks from my children in Australia (and other parts of the world) about the exploitation in South Africa and hence our relatively low cost of living. Our Church has superb social teachings, but our priests seldom preach on the subject. I have read that the minimum wage in the clothing industry is R324 per week (or about R1 360 per month). Teachers seem to be complaining that they can’t come out on about R7 000 a month. No doubt this is a vexed subject with wide ramifications, but would anyone like to have a stab at telling us, for information sake, what is a cost-of-living wage in South Africa, or one below which one can be morally accused of exploitation? Dr Bernard Cole, Krugersdorp
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Mr Shackleton states that “…when certain principles or physical laws appear to be beyond what is immediately measurable, these can fall into the category of nothing.” How can an accepted physical law not be measurable in some way or other? If this were the case, then it would not be the law. Science makes a clear distinction between a universal law or theorem that is valid for all n cases, and those that are only valid between given limits less than n. History shows that rather than ”scientific opinion” not having “roots in faith”, scientific opinion and endeavour have frequently been triggered, developed out of, and based on the Christian faith. Many scientists and engineers are confirmed and committed Christians, and they have to keep an open unbiased mind, even if their work seems to be leading them in a non-creation/theological direction. In fact Catholic priests and monks were significant contributors to the advance of science; Johannes Kepler being just one of many examples. Gary Reabow, Hillcrest, KZN
Faith vs religion
IEWIET Vlok’s letter “Enough is enough” (October 20) is itself something of a travesty of the teachings of the Church. It infers that Catholics take vows at our confirmation; it goes against the call for charity in all things; and it judges others as being less than perfect—despite a clear injunction by Jesus not to judge. Mr Vlok is apparently confusing faith with religion. If our faith is in jeopardy by some “badmouthing or railing against the Church”, then it is not dependent on the Holy Spirit, who however surely is not redundant. In calling the religious leaders of his day hypocrites, Jesus could be accused of “bad-mouthing”! Matthew 23:23-32 is a prime example of Jesus railing against the same “upholders” of religion. Rosemary Gravenor, Durban Opinions expressed in The Southern Cross, especially in Letters to the Editor, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or staff of the newspaper, or of the Catholic hierarchy. The letters page in particular is a forum in which readers may exchange opinions on matters of debate. Letters must not be understood to necessarily reflect the teachings, disciplines or policies of the Church accurately.
The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 9, 2010
Clifford M Yeary
Hearing the Good News
God loser, bad loser
The ‘kingdom of God’
ECENTLY I did something quite unusual: I participated in a “Bosman weekend” in Groot Marico. I was mistakenly under the impression that everyone knows Herman Charles Bosman, but I discovered that many people are not aware of this talented writer who captured the soul of the Afrikaner people of the bushveld so well in his stories—written in English. Although he was only briefly stationed in Groot Marico, as a school teacher in the 1920s, he wrote with gentle, dig-in-the-ribs type humour and compassion, as if he had lived there for years and intimately knew the people and their ways. Listening to dramatisations of some of the stories was certainly a joy. A shared experience of the culture, food, jerepigo and mampoer added to the enjoyment. Other blessings of that weekend were making new like-minded friends, plus discovering the source, the “eye” of a river, the Groot Marico river. Although I had known a little of him, during the course of the weekend I became intrigued by Bosman—a man who was in reality not the gentle, compassionate person who comes across in the stories. He was, in fact, quite an unsavoury character, and somewhat of a con-man. Reprieved from a death sentence for shooting his step-brother, he served a prison sentence and had other clashes with the law. His life as a whole was no spectacular success. That was the aspect that intrigued me. How do we project ourselves to others, what image do we show to others and why? It’s one of the issues couples in a marriage preparation programme are asked to look into. Do we show our real selves to others, in particular to our future spouse, or do we hide elements they may not like? You’d think that in families we do show our true colours, and to a certain extent we can’t help but reveal ourselves. At the same time, we also learn to put on a mask, hide elements of ourselves to deal with hazards, or behaviour that gets us what we want. Sucking up to a parent, a step-parent or grandparent is a clear example. Becoming a pleaser, or a mother-hen, or deliberately being obstreperous happens too. Becoming a joker, or the life-andsoul of a party might hide insecurity. There are also people who seem to have a split personality, or people who appear to have no conscience and, while seeming to be most pleasant, are intrinsically dishonest and classified as anti-social. People are complex and can be very strange and difficult to understand, even to their parents who have seen them develop over a life-time. Parents on the whole do try their best to form their children into law-abiding, socially adept and well-functioning adults. Learning such things as being good losers or bad losers is a normal part of one’s upbringing. How we deal with life, in particular the losses we experience, is partly determined by our make-up, our upbringing, and the environment around us. Happy the person and the family that can deal with loss in an acceptable way. It is normal to experience anger, grief and a period of mourning for any loss before coming to acceptance of the reality. There is help available for those who find loss intolerable and get bogged down in the grieving phase. November’s family theme—“Good losers, bad losers”—is an opportunity to explore who we are and how we play the game of life. It is sad to think that HC Bosman—the creator of such characters as Oom Schalk Lourens, the archetype of bushveld Afrikaner, and Dominee Welthagen who through going into a trance in the pulpit caused his congregation to sing all 176 verses of psalm 119 from the morning service until dark—was technically a loser in life. And yet he lives on for most of us as a guru, a delightfully insightful man who continues after his early death to bring joy to many readers. Is he then a good or a bad loser, I wonder.
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Bishop Zithulele Mvemve and Fr Janito Joseph distribute Holy Communion during a Mass at the Dalmanutha site at Tabgha, near the reputed place of the feeding of the multitudes. PHOTO: GÜNTHER SIMMERMACHER
The morning St Peter got a new name and job
URVEYING the area around the Sea of Galilee, one need not try too hard to imagine what Jesus saw, even if the lake was bigger then. So as I watched the sun rise from my window in the comfortable Beatitudes Hotel—a pilgrims’ inn run by Italian Franciscan Sisters on the bluff that gives it its name—I might have imagined watching 1st-century fishermen going about their workday business. Near the shore at the foot of the mount, I might have seen one of them jump into the water, rapidly swimming towards the land to meet a man whom I had observed earlier making a fish braai for breakfast. That morning when Simon, son of Jonah, received his new name— Peter—he was standing on the deck of his fishing boat, plying his trade, oblivious to how much his life would soon change. He was probably stark naked, for we know from John that he hurriedly put on his outer garment the moment he spotted the risen Christ on the shore (21:7). That day, he and his companions were engaging in the cast-net method of fishing, as Mark tells us (1:16), which would have required Peter to frequently jump into the water to haul in the catch. By the time he was digesting the breakfast Christ had prepared for him and companions, Simon had a been given a new name and a new job: head of a missionary movement and, effectively, first pope. A small chapel built in 1933 over the remains of a 4th-century church and named after Peter’s Primacy marks the spot. The church’s alternative name—preferred by Protestants who don’t much like the idea of popes—is Mensa Christi (Christ’s table), after the rock on which Christ made the most famous and important breakfast in history. It was during that breakfast that Our Lord exhibited a finely tuned sense of irony by asking an increasingly annoyed Peter the same question three times: “Do you love me?” From the church one can walk to the shore, joining (in prayer) Peter and Jesus—the fisherman wearing drip-drying underwear and the resurrected Son of God—in their remarkable reunion as the other disciples try to get their now fish-laden barge on to land.
eter’s Primacy church is too small to accommodate large pilgrim groups for Mass, so the Franciscan custodians built an amphitheatre for that purpose. Mass there is quite lovely, with the sound of the lake’s waves lapping on to the stony shore. Lately a second outdoor chapel has been built, named after Pope John Paul II, who is depicted in a mosaic over the altar. It is covered by a canopy which lends the whole thing the atmosphere of a carport. Happily, we did not have Mass there, but at a most delightful place I had not been to before. Situated close
The Pilgrim’s Trek to the shore behind Tabgha’s church of the Loaves and Fishes, a stone’s throw away from Peter’s Primacy, the Dalmanutha site is beautifully appointed, away from the bustle of pilgrims and tourists. It is a place of affecting simplicity and beauty: a boulder serves as the altar, with the Sea of Galilee shimmering in the background, and tree logs provide seating for the congregants. It is a most pastoral oasis of tranquillity amid the rush of a pilgrimage. And so it would have been for our group, had the fervent singing nearby of a large group of Pentecostal Christians (six bus loads, by my count) not drowned out our placid choruses.
he Mass site is not the real Dalmanutha; that is, the place to which Jesus went after feeding the multitudes (probably to escape the attention of Herod Antipas, the murderer of John the Baptist). Nobody knows where the real Dalmanutha was; scholars speculate it might have been somewhere around Magdala. For our purposes, however, the Mass site is well named: here we may reflect on the effect of the miracle that is remembered in the magnificent Benedictine church of the Loaves and Fishes, a faithful recreation of a 3rd-century basilica that once stood there, and on the sacrifice that caritas may demand of us. In his homily, our spiritual director, Bishop Zithulele Patrick Mvemve of Klerksdorp, pointed out that Jesus’ concern and concrete action for the poor must inform our Christian approach today. As a good example of this, Bishop Mvemve recalled the motto of the Belgian Cardinal Joseph Cardjin (1882-1967), founder of the Young Christian Workers movement: “See. Judge. Act.” South Africans need not be told that poverty remains a massive problem in the world today. Much as we are being told that poverty is inevitable, we do have the means to feed everybody in the world. Jesus had the means to feed the hungry multitudes before him, even at the very real risk of drawing unwelcome attention to himself. The world has seen. It has judged. But will it ever act? Whichever way one chooses to interpret the gosppel account of the feeding of the multitudes, if there is one miracle of Jesus’ ministry that remains acutely relevant today, it is this one. This is the second part of Günther Simmermacher’s series on The Southern Cross’ Passion Pilgrimage in September. Next week: Capernaum and the Jordan river.
N the first chapter of Mark, after Jesus was baptised by John, he was tempted for 40 days in the wilderness. Immediately afterwards, he launched his ministry with these words: “This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (1:15). In Luke 4:43 Jesus claimed that announcing the Good News of the kingdom was the purpose for which he had been sent. What did Jesus mean by the kingdom of God? After his death and resurrection, his followers (including, eventually, Paul) also preached in his name, and they too called people to repent and believe the Gospel. But the Gospel Jesus’ followers preached was the Good News that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, that he had been put to death on a cross, and that he had risen from the dead (See Acts 3:13-15). The synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) tell us that Jesus began at some point to warn his disciples that he would be put to death and rise again on the third day (as in Mark 10:34). The Gospel he preached as part of his public ministry, however, seems to be centred on the Good News that the kingdom of God was “at hand”, that is, it was so close it could almost be touched. At times Jesus seemed to suggest that the kingdom of God had already begun (Mt 21:31; Lk 11:20; 17:20-21), while far more often he stressed its nearness. This is what is frequently described as the “now, but not yet” paradox of the nearness of the kingdom. Many of Jesus’ parables explore the mystery of the kingdom of God and the inestimable value of belonging to it, but they never quite tell us exactly what it is. Today, many Christians simply associate it with heaven. In fact, Matthew usually refers to the kingdom of God as “the kingdom of heaven”. But it still means something more in Matthew than that place where we hope to live with God after we die. Fr Donald Senior, a prominent scholar of Matthew’s gospel, tells us that Matthew’s preference for “kingdom of heaven” over “kingdom of God” resulted from a sensitivity to his Jewish Christian audience. They would have avoided direct frequent reference to the Almighty out of pious respect. But whether it is called the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven, what is being referred to in the gospels is the reign of God. Jesus was announcing the nearness of God’s rule in human affairs. Jesus proclaimed the nearness of the reign of God as Good News. Perhaps nothing else in the gospels explains the kingdom of God so simply or so well as the prayer Jesus taught his followers. “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (Mt 6:10). God reigns on earth when God’s will is done here with the same full and complete respect as occurs in heaven. Among Jews of his time, the coming of the reign of God meant that God would now be taking charge of world affairs. It would be an historical event, on this earth, when good and evil would be separated once and for all. Those who were found to be righteous would be welcomed into a life of permanent, peaceful abundance. The unrighteous would meet their doom. There would have been many who were either awaiting or dreading the coming of God’s reign. It is not surprising that both amazement and consternation greeted Jesus as he proclaimed the nearness of God’s reign through words and actions. While Jesus warned of the coming judgment, he urged sinners to join him in celebrating its approach. God’s reign meant forgiveness to all who asked. Jesus’ disciples were probably the most anxious of all for the kingdom of God, and they must have had high hopes of seeing Jesus anointed as God’s king in God’s kingdom. His death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit gave them a radically new understanding of Jesus as God’s anointed (the Messiah, or Christ), but to this day Christians must struggle with the call to make the nearness of God’s reign something that can be believed in by the poor, the sick, the sinner and the shunned.
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Middle East synod: What is needed for peace The October Synod of Bishops for the Middle East appealed to Christians to remain in the region, work towards greater understanding with those of other faiths, and managed to upset Israel, as CINDY WOODEN reports.
LOSING the two-week Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, Pope Benedict said: “We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace.” Peace is what will stop Christians from emigrating, he added. Synod members released a message to their own faithful, their government leaders, Catholics around the world, the international community and to all people of goodwill. The Vatican also released the 44 propositions adopted by synod members as recommendations for Pope Benedict to consider in writing his post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Although the bishops said the main point of the synod was to find pastoral responses to the challenges facing their people, they said the biggest challenges are caused by political and social injustice and war and conflict. “We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees,” they said in one of the strongest sentences in the message. They called for continued
Catholic-Jewish dialogue, condemned anti-Semitism and antiJudaism, and affirmed Israel’s right to live at peace within its “internationally recognised borders”. Although relations between Christians and Jews in the region are often coloured by Israeli-Palestinian tensions, the bishops said the Catholic Church affirms the Old Testament—the Hebrew Scriptures—is the word of God and that God’s promises to the Jewish people are still valid. However, “recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable. On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others.” Addressing the synod’s final news conference, US Melkite Bishop Cyrille Bustros said: “For us Christians, you can no longer speak of a land promised to the Jewish people”, because Christ’s coming into the world demonstrated that God’s chosen people are all people, and that their promised land would be the kingdom of God established throughout the world. The bishops’ point in criticising some people’s use of Scripture was intended to say “one cannot use the theme of the Promised Land to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the expatriation of Palestinians”, Bishop Bustros said. The statement by Bishop Bustros provoked an immediate reaction from Israel. In a statement, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, said the Vatican should distance itself from what the bishop said and that the remarks should not be allowed to jeopardise their relations. “We express our disappointment that this important synod has become a forum for political attacks against Israel, in the best tradition of Arab propaganda,” he said.
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In their message, the bishops expressed particular concern over the future of Jerusalem, particularly given Israeli “unilateral initiatives” that threaten the composition and demographic profile of the city through construction and buying up the property of Christians and other Arabs. They also offered words of support for the suffering Iraqi people, both Christians and Muslims, and for those forced to flee the country.
he synod members said they talked extensively about Christian-Muslim relations and about the fact that they both are long-standing citizens of the same countries and should be working together for the good of all. Christians must be given their full rights as citizens and the future peace and prosperity of the region require civil societies built “on the basis of citizenship, religious freedom and freedom of conscience”. Throughout the synod, members said that while religious freedom and freedom of worship are recognised in most of the region’s constitutions, freedom of conscience—particularly the freedom to change religious affiliation—is not respected in many places. Much of the synod’s discussion focused on the fact that many Christians are emigrating because of ongoing conflicts, a lack of security and equality and a lack of economic opportunities at home. They praised those who have remained despite hardship and thanked them for their contributions to church and society. While they did not call on emigrants to return home, they did ask them to consider it eventually and to think twice before selling their property in their homelands. Several bishops had told the synod that Christians selling off their property was turning previ-
A participant follows a prayer booklet in Syriac during morning prayer at a session of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. PHOTO: PAUL HARING, CNS ously Christian-Muslim neighbourhoods and towns into totally Muslim areas. One of the synod propositions pledged to set up micro-finance and other projects to help people retain their property and make it prosper. The synod members affirmed their commitment to efforts to promote full Christian unity and promised to strengthen cooperative efforts with other Christian churches in the region because unity is necessary for effectively sharing the Gospel. Jesuit Father David Neuhaus, the South African-born vicar for Hebrew- and Russian-speaking Catholics for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told the synod the divisions were principally among the leaders of the different churches, “but the more you get to the grassroots, the more those divisions disappear”. “When you walk through the streets of Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth, and you ask which group they belong to, the answer from Christians is ‘I am a Christian’, not ‘I am Roman Catholic or Greek Catholic or Maronite’,” he said. The bishops at the synod also recognised their own failures in not
promoting greater communion between Catholics of different rites, with other Christians and with the Jewish and Muslim majorities of their homelands. The propositions called for creation of a “commission of cooperation” between Church leaders of different rites, the sharing of material resources and establishment of a programme to share priests. They also echoed a repeated call in the synod for the pope to study ways to expand the jurisdiction of Eastern Catholic patriarchs to allow them greater power in providing for their faithful who live outside the traditional territory of their churches and to consider dropping restrictions on ordaining married men to the priesthood outside the traditional homeland of the particular Church. Maronite Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus told reporters: “The synod is not a medical prescription or a cure” for the problems Christians face in the Middle East, “it’s a journey that is just beginning” and will have to be implemented by the region’s Catholics.—CNS Contributing to the story were Sarah Delaney and Judith Sudilovsky.
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The Southern Cross, November 3 to November 09, 2010
Sr Mary Fergus McMorrow HC meant never seeing home and country again. She made her first vows on August 15, 1944, and arrived in South Africa 65 years ago, in October 1945. She trained as a teacher of commercial subjects and taught this throughout her teaching career in Holy Cross schools throughout South Africa and also in Windhoek, Namibia. She often cared for the boarders and assisted with sports. In her long teaching career, in many mission stations she must BETHLEHEM: have touched Shrine of Our Lady of Bethlehem at Tsheseng, Maluti mountains; the lives of Thursdays 09:30, Mass, then exposition of the Blessed Sacrathousands of ment. 058 721 0532 young people. CAPE TOWN: Past pupils remember her Cape Town Cathedral parish Film Festival. Nov 11: Sowing in cheerfulness, Tears (19:00); Called to Care (20:45). Nov 12: Tshimangadzo sense of (19:00); The Angel of Biscay (20:45), Nov 13: The Angel of Bishumour and cay (19:00); Sowing in Tears (20:45). At Nazareth House, Vredeher unobtruhoek. www.CatholicStudio.com sive kindnesses Holy Redeemer, Bergvliet, Padre Pio Prayer group, November 21 to those who 15:30. were less well Adoration Chapel, Corpus Christi Church, Wynberg: Mon-Thurs off. 6am to 12pm; Fri-Sun 6am to 8pm. Adorers welcome 021-761 She was very 3337 interested in people and had Good Shepherd, Bothasig. Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in our many friends chapel. All hours. All welcome. wherever she JOHANNESBURG: was stationed. She loved to First Friday Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 10:30. First Satkeep up to date urday: Devotions: Our Lady’s Cenacle, Adoration of the Blessed with local and Sacrament and Rosary, 15:00–16:00. Special devotion to Our
ISTER Mary Fergus (Catherine) McMorrow, who died on Septmber 8, was born on September 23, 1923, in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Her upbringing in home and school was deeply Catholic. At the age of 19, she responded to the Lord’s call to dedicate her life to him as a missionary sister. At that time, to become a Holy Cross missionary sister
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Blessed Lady for her priests. Our Lady of the Angels, Little Eden, Edenvale, 011 609 7246 First Saturday of each month rosary prayed 10:30-12:00 outside Marie Stopes abortion clinic, Peter Place, Bryanston. Joan Beyrooti, 011 782 4331 Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament: first Friday of the month at 09:20 followed by Holy Mass at 10:30. Holy Hour: first Saturday of each month at 15:00. At Our Lady of the Angels, Little Eden, Edenvale. Tel: 011 609 7246. KIMBERLEY: St Boniface High School celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2011. The St Boniface Past Student’s Union is currently preparing to celebrate this event. Past students are requested to contact the Union’s PRO and chairman of the board of governors, Mr Mosalashuping Morundi 073 768 3653 or at email@example.com for further information. PRETORIA: First Saturday: Devotion to Divine Mercy. St Martin de Porres, Sunnyside, 16:30. Shirley-Anne 012 361 4545 To place your event, call Claire Allen on 021 465 5007, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
world news and be the first to share news items with her community members. She was delighted when home leave for missionaries was introduced and always kept in close contact with her family in Ireland. After retiring from teaching in 1993, she was appointed community superior in Maitland, Cape Town. In January 2001, at the age of 78, she began a period of active retirement in a Holy Cross community and St Charles parish, Victory Park, Johannesburg. In her last few years she had health problems but was always faithful, right up to the last, with community and personal prayers. She had a great love for daily Mass and even shortly before her death, with great determination and her walking stick, was off to the nearby church to attend Mass. Sr Fergus was very honest and forthright, independent and warm-hearted. She was grateful for the smallest attempts to help her, and had a way of saying, “Thank you very, very much”. Sr Fergus died peacefully at Victory Park in the presence of the Sisters. Fr Ignatius Fidgeon OMI conducted her moving funeral service, in which Irish music mingled with African and English hymns. The burial took place in West Park cemetery.
Thoughts for the Week on the Family FAMILY CALENDAR 2010 FAMILY THEME: “Families Play the Game.” NOVEMBER – GOOD LOSER, BAD LOSER Introduction: It is in families from very early days, playing catch or hide-and-seek that children learn how to be good losers rather than bad losers. Parents may have to work hard with some children that sulk or throw tantrums, while others don’t want to try for fear of losing. Loss in life is inevitable and games and sport are some of the best way to learn the skills to cope with the big and little losses of life. How do you practice the skills of being a good loser? 7th All Saints. Saints must have been good losers in life to have become saints, but they might not have started out that way. Saints are not born, they become saints through the way they try to live good lives, being good and not bad losers. Share some stories of saints who you admire most.
Mass readings for the week Sundays year C, weekdays cycle 2
Sun October 31, 31th Sunday of the Year: Wis 11:22-12,2; Ps 145:1-2,8-11,13-14; 2 Thes 1:11-2,2 Lk 19:1-10 Mon November 1, feria: Phil 2:1-4, 8; Ps 131:1-3; Lk 14:12-14 Tue November 2, All Souls: Is 25:6-9; Ps 23:1-6; Rom 5:5-11; Jn 6:37-40 Wed November 3, St Martin de Porres: Phil 2:12-18; Ps 27:1,4,13-14; Lk 14:25-33 Thur November 4, St Charles Borromeo: Phil 3:3-8; Ps 105:2-7; Lk 15:1-10 Fri November 5, feria: Phil 3:17-4,1; Ps 112:1-5; Lk 16:1-8 Sat November 6, Al Saints of Africa: Phil 4:10-19; Ps 112:1-2,5-6,8-9; Lk 16:9-15 Sun November 7, All Saints, 32th Sunday of the Year: Rv 7:2-4,9-14; Ps 24:1-6; 1 Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12
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PRAYERS HOLY St Jude, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. RCP. HOLY SPIRIT you who makes me see everything. You showed me the way to reach my ideal. You who give me the divine gift to forgive and forget all that is done to me and you are in all the instincts of my life with me. I want to thank you for everything and confirm once more that I never want to be separated from you no matter how great the desires may be. I want to be with you and my loved ones in your perpetual glory. This prayer should be said on 3 consecutive days, after the 3rd day, the request will be granted, no matter how difficult it may be. Promise to publish the entire dialogue with the condition of having your request granted. Farrel. O MOST beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendour of Heaven, blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother. O Holy Mary Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth. I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succour me in my necessity. There is none who can withstand your power, O show me here, you are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee (3 times). Holy Mary, I place this cause in your hands. (3 times) Thank you for your mercy towards me and mine. Amen “Say this prayer for 3 consecutive days and then publish. Julie.
IN thanksgiving to the Sacred Heart, Our Lady, St Joseph, St Therese and St Martin for answering my cry for help. Margaret
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33rd Sunday—Year C (November 14th) Readings: Malachi 3:19-20, Psalm 98:5-9 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19
E are almost at the end of the year now, and that may be why a faint air of menace hangs over the readings for next Sunday. It is hard to be sure precisely what Malachi means in the first reading, but we can read it into our life and our time: “The Day is coming.” It is, it would appear, a somewhat challenging “day”, and “all arrogant people will be like stubble”. The prophet combines two metaphors: that of the after-harvest, “neither root nor stalk”, to describe what will happen to the wicked, and that of sunrise, a beautiful image to capture what God is going to do: “There shall rise upon you who reverence my name a sun of justice,” slightly spoiled by a third image, which is nonetheless very effective “and [there will be] healing in his wings”; that perceptibly moderates any alarm we may be feeling. The psalm is, as psalms so often are, more optimistic, inviting us to “play a tune to the Lord on the harp, and the sound of strings, on trumpets and the sound of the horn, make
Signs that the day is coming Fr Nicholas King SJ
Scriptural Reflections a noise before the King, the Lord”. Still there is the notion that God is coming, but this coming is one to be welcomed rather than to be frightened about. It is not just the orchestra that is to make music, but the whole of creation: “The sea and what fills it, the world and its inhabitants, the streams are to clap their hands together; the mountains are to rejoice.” And why? “Because he is coming to judge the earth; he will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with justice.” In the second reading, the menace comes from Paul, who is not above offering himself as a model, “we were not idle among you, nor did we eat food without payment”. He stresses
how hard he worked when he was with them, “not because we had no right, but to give you a model, for you to imitate us”. It seems that one or two of the Thessalonians have been so taken with the idea that the second coming might be “any day now” that they were lounging around with their feet up, doing nothing at all. Paul has no time for that attitude. In the gospel reading for next Sunday, the menace comes out of a clear sky. Some of Jesus’ disciples (Luke, with his accustomed charity, does not bother to identify them) have been acting as wide-eyed tourists, admiring the “beautiful stones and gift offerings with which the Temple was decorated”, and Jesus throws an abrupt bucket of cold water over their enthusiasm. “These things that you see—the days will come when not a stone will be left upon a stone that will not be destroyed.” So they want to know when it will happen (the usual human desire to control the action of God), and are simply told: “Don’t be led
astray—for many are going to come in my name, saying ‘I AM’...” Then Jesus tells them how it is going to be, and it sounds fairly alarming: “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” and he gives a cosmic weather forecast: “Great earthquakes ...plagues and famines...great and terrifying signs from heaven.” But this is not a spectator sport, for his hearers are warned that “before all this, they’ll lay their hands on you and hassle you, handing you over to synagogues and prisons”. They are not to panic, however: “Don’t practise in advance how to conduct your defence; I shall give you a mouth, and a wisdom that they won’t be able to resist or contradict, all those who oppose you.” They are warned of betrayal and hatred on the part of those close to them, and it all sounds pretty threatening, until we hear the final words: “And [yet] not a hair of your head is going to be destroyed—in your patience you are going to acquire your lives.” In the end, we are not to quail before the menace.
The great thurible swinger I
DID not know John van Castricum very well at school because he was a class ahead of me at CBC Pretoria in the 1950s. But I do remember him fondly and think of him every time I go to Benediction or attend a service in which a thurible is used. We were fellow altar servers at the parish of St Pius X in Waterkloof, Pretoria, and Sunday evening Benediction was
always well attended, a highlight of the parochial week. Being a senior acolyte, John was official thurifer, and for us juniors, to be given the privilege of carrying the incense “boat”, was an enormous honour. There was a time, however, when John somehow let the charcoal in the thurible go out, much to the annoyance of our parish priest, Mgr Mason, who suffered
St Pius X altar servers circa 1957. Of those Chris Moerdyk remembers are “King Thurifer” John van Castricum on the left. Next to him is Chris with the three Kirk brothers—Peter, Jimmy and Norman—in the centre, with Patrick Eaton to their left and Anthony Acton on the far right. Mgr Mason is the priest on the right. We hope that some of Mr Moerdyk’s classmates (such as Bishop Kevin Dowling and Fr Kevin Reynolds) might be able to identify the others—who might even read this and write in to us.
CONRAD GRANNY BARNS IS OUR OWN SPECIAL EDITION!
Southern Crossword #417
The Last Word quite considerably after having had a lung removed and made up for not being able to yell at us by glowering with terrifying intensity. Anyway, John van Castricum clearly decided that he needed to re-establish his reputation as senior thurifer and on the following Sunday he did something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Those were days, of course, when priests celebrated Mass and Benediction at the main altar with their backs to the congregation. That particular Sunday, I was relegated to lowest acolyte level. I was kneeling at the side of the altar, holding a heavy brass candlestick, trying as hard as I could not to set my cassock and cotta on fire. It was midway through the service when I became somewhat mesmerised by John swinging the thurible to and fro. I noticed a strange smile on his face and his body language literally screamed that something profound was about to happen. The thurible swung higher and higher until, at the end of each arc, it was pretty much horizontal. Smoke from an extra dollop of incense billowed into the church like Thomas the Tank Engine on steroids. Mgr Mason had his back to John, oblivious of the fact that a hush had fallen over the congregation. The arc increased beyond the horizontal and then, almost without warning, John gave an extra twist to his practised wrist and sent the thurible into a complete 360° loop. With almost awesome dexterity he held it back from another loop and quietly continued swinging it gently to and fro. The gasp from the congregation at his remarkable feat was hardly noticeable as every man, woman and child seemed to unanimously decide with enormous determination and restraint not to give the game away—mostly because John managed somehow to do what he did with dignity and decorum. Mgr Mason didn’t have a clue about what was happening behind his back. And when he did turn around, John van Castricum was nothing short of angelic, with his thurible smoking like a steam train— just the way the monsignor liked it.
ACROSS 4. Priest’s assistant (7) 8. Request for divine help (6) 9. Ring bells for this devotion (7) 10. The head on the coin (Mk 12) (6) 11. Empower (6) 12. Never brought to birth in iron boat (8) 18. Loose bet leads to extinction (8) 20. Light may appear at its end (6) 21. They can spin on a bicycle (6) 22. Square meals at press (7) 23. Fervent (6) 24. Religion of Society of Friends (7)
DOWN 1. Places I find specific (7) 2. He may attend the bride (7) 3. Leave (6) 5. Where the cloisters may be seen (8) 6. Margin of safety at sea? (6) 7. O, let us make your hair untidy (6) 13. Vain worshipper (8) 14. Respected deeply (7) 15. Tin dyes suggest compactness (7) 16. Writing desk for government office? (6) 17. Swiftly expose one’s true character (6) 19. The rest (6)
ACROSS: 1 Unveil, 4 Ganges, 9 Tickle to death, 10 Rotated, 11 Codes, 12 Moral, 14 Isaac, 18 Locum, 19 Hospice, 21 Wilfrid Napier, 22 Reside, 23 Friars. DOWN: 1 Upturn, 2 Vocation calls, 3 Inlet, 5 Abducts, 6 Grand basilica, 7 Schism, 8 Study, 13 Admired, 15 Flower, 16 Shady, 17 Hearts, 20 Stair.
N a discussion about whales, a teacher told her class that it was impossible for a whale to swallow a human as its throat was too small. One little girl said: “But Jonah was swallowed by a whale!” Irritated, the teacher said again that it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human. The little girl then said: “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.” “What if Jonah went to hell?” the teacher asked. The little girl replied: “Then you ask him.”
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