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December 1 to December 7, 2010

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Catholic education: It’s precious

What pope told the new cardinals

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no 4704

Immersion in the Bible Page 9

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Pope’s condom comment is ‘not revolutionary’ By John ThaViS & STaFF REPoRTERS

to Aids carries grave risks, mainly by promoting the idea that condoms guarantee “safe sex.” In that sense, the pope said on his flight to Cameroon in March 2009 that rather than solve the issue of HIV/Aids, condoms “increase the problem”. He encouraged campaigns to promote responsible sexuality instead. When that episode was raised by Mr Seewald in the book, the pope seemed to bristle. “The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement,” he said. He said he felt “provoked” by the question, because the Church does so much to care for Aids patients. “I had the chance to visit one of these wards and to speak with the patients. That was the real answer: The Church does more than anyone else because she does not speak from the tribunal of the newspapers, but helps her brothers and sisters where they are actually suffering.”

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OPE Benedict’s statement that the use of condoms may be a sign of moral responsibility in some specific situations when the intention is to reduce the risk of Aids is “nothing new or revolutionary”, according to a South African-based priest and expert on HIV/Aids. The pope addressed the issue in the book-length interview, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, which was published on November 23. In the book, the pope repeated what he said during a trip to Africa last year: that “we cannot solve the problem [of Aids] by distributing condoms”. Focusing exclusively on condoms damages human sexuality, making it “banal” and turning it into a kind of “drug”, he said. But the pope went on to say that in particular cases—he mentioned prostitutes— condom use may be justified as a first step towards taking moral responsibility for one’s actions. Media reports presented the pope’s statement as an about-turn and a revolution in Church teachings. Fr Stefan Hippler, a German priest working in Aids ministry in Cape Town and author of the German-language book Gott Afrika Aids (God Africa Aids), said that the media had misunderstood the significance of what the pope was saying. “There is nothing really new or revolutionary about the comments. Pope Benedict is speaking as a theologian, summing up what moral theology might reveal when applied to, for example, a prostitute using condoms,” the co-founder of the Aids project HOPE Cape Town said. “The only news is that here a pope dares to speak his academic mind publicly—and that might be a crack in the wall of a Church view regarding condom use which is seen by many as out of touch with the world.” The pope’s remarks underscored a distinction made previously by other Church experts: that the Church’s teaching against condoms as a form of birth control is different from its position on condom use in disease prevention. The comments seemed destined to open a new chapter in the Church’s internal debate on that issue. “Obviously as somebody working in the field of HIV/Aids, I welcome the thoughts of the pope,” Fr Hippler said.

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ister Alison Munro of the Aids Office of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) declined to comment directly on the pope’s comments, but said that the office and its partner organisations “provide correct and accurate information on the Church’s teaching regarding abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage. Correct and accurate information about the use of condoms is also provided—that they are a means of prevention of HIV transmission if used correctly by people who engage in sexual practices that may be unsafe.” She added: “People are encouraged to make their own decisions about condom use according to their conscience.” In the interview with German journalist Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict said that the Church “of course does not regard [con-

I The rector-major of the Salesian of Don Bisco order worldwide, Fr Pascual Chavez was dressed up as a Swazi chief or prince when he visited Swaziland, where he met with Bishop louis Mncamiso ndlovu of Manzini (right). (Photo courtesy of Francois Dufour SDB)

doms] as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality”. It was the first time Pope Benedict—or any pope—has said publicly that condom use may be acceptable in some cases. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ said that the pope was not “reforming or changing” the Church’s teaching on sexual responsibility, but rather considering an “exceptional situation” in which sexual activity places a person’s life at risk. While the pope was not morally justifying disordered sexual activity, he was saying that use of a condom to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease may be an act of moral responsibility. Fr Lombardi said it would be an exaggera-

tion to call the pope’s comments “revolutionary”, but he said they offered a courageous and important contribution to a longdebated question. For years, in fact, Vatican officials and theologians have studied the morality of condom use to reduce the risk of Aids. The Vatican has never proclaimed a “ban” on condom use in Aids prevention; on the contrary, some Vatican theologians and officials have argued that for married couples in which one partner is HIV-infected, use of condoms could be a moral responsibility. The SACBC in their 2001 pastoral letter “A Message of Hope” suggested that within marriage couples may use appropriate means to prevent the transmission of the virus. More generally, however, Vatican theologians and officials have argued that promotion of condoms as the only or best answer

An end to bath salts and perfumes By Cian Molloy

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IVING a Christmas present to the teacher is a primary school tradition in Ireland and throughout the world, but there are only so many packets of bath salts, bottles of perfume and boxes of chocolate that one educator can use. This year in Ireland, children and parents are being given an alternative. Parents can log onto www.crosscare.ie and make an online donation to Crosscare, the social services arm of the Dublin archdiocese. They or their children can print a specially designed “Thank You Teacher” certificate to express their appreciation.

Crosscare senior manager Michael McDonagh said: “It’s estimated that families in Ireland could spend over a quarter of a million euros (R9,5 million) in gifts for teachers this Christmas—a lot of which end up in the bottom of the wardrobe or in the charity shop. Now parents and kids can buy a special present for their teacher at Christmas—a helping hand to those most in need.” Mr McDonagh said that the idea came from a group of teachers working as volunteers for the charity, which runs services for homeless people, operates a food bank for those on low incomes and provides support for children in foster care.—CNS

n the book, the pope criticised the “fixation” on condoms in Aids prevention, but without categorically ruling out their use. “As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen,” he said. Theologians who advise the Vatican have underlined that it makes little sense to apply the Church’s teaching against contraception to sexual acts outside of marriage, since those acts are already considered immoral. In a 2006 interview with Catholic News Service, Mgr Angel Rodriguez Luno, a moral theologian at Rome’s Holy Cross University and a consultor to the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, said that “if unmarried persons do not abstain from sexual relations, or if spouses are not mutually faithful, these are sexual acts which are immoral in themselves, whether or not a condom is used”. In that context, he said, the condom is not the issue for the Church. “As for immoral acts, the Church says only that one should abstain from them. The Church does not have a doctrine on the various ways to carry out immoral acts,” said Mgr Rodriguez. Some theological experts have said that the life-and-death consequences of Aids may make condom use a “lesser evil” that can be tolerated, even in particular marital situations. On the other hand, some Vatican officials have argued that widespread distribution and use of condoms may encourage promiscuous sexual activity, which itself is a factor in the spread of Aids. In 2006, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, then head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, announced that his council had handed in a 200-page study on condoms in Aids prevention, for further development by the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation. That raised the possibility of a Vatican pronouncement on the subject. But sources told Catholic News Service last year that any action on the report has been put on hold, in part because there was not unanimity of opinion, and in part because of fear that the nuances involved would only invite confusion in the media and among Catholics. n See also page 5


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LOCAL

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

Circumcision debate grows Exhibition highlights By ClaiRE MaThiESon

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IRCUMCISION has seen much debate over the past few months with traditional leaders, medical practitioners and the Church voicing their opinions on the traditional practice of many South African cultures. Lois Law, a researcher for the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (a body of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference), said the challenge is to remain faithful to traditional cultural practices while at the same time ensuring the health and well-being of the initiates. The practice of circumcision is part of the initiation process from boyhood to manhood. It is seen to integrate the male child into society according to cultural norms and practices. Initiation is practised by the Xhosa, Pondo, Sotho, Shangaan and Tsongo cultural groups of South Africa. Zulus discontinued initiate circumcision in the 19th century due to militarisation practices. According to the South African Medical Journal, the traditional ritual of initiation and circumcision “was about preparing youngsters for the challenges of manhood in the rural and pastoral world where they lived”. “Circumcisions were performed by experienced operators [practitioners] and overseen by traditional sages who served as teachers and sources of wisdom to the youths. The traditional practice was much like modern military training: hard, but intended to nurture. Importantly, the community, through its traditional leaders and healers—not individual entrepreneurs—set up and supervised the circumcision schools.” The debate now is a result of the high number of deaths in the country. Ninety initiates died during last year’s circumcision season and at the beginning of July this year the Eastern Cape Department of Health reported 49 deaths while more than a hundred had been admitted to hospital, twenty of whom were in a critical condition. Ms Law

noted calls for increased regulation and supervision of initiation schools. “However, some traditional leaders regard this as interference with the practice of traditional cultural customs.” Traditional Affairs minister Sicelo Shiceka has called for the regulation of initiation schools. He has also demanded greater accountability on the part of traditional leaders. The practice is seen by many cultures as vital for the positioning of a man in the community. In her research, Ms Law has found that a boy can only be regarded as a man in the community once he has completed all the stages of the initiation process, saying “circumcision is an irreversible sign of the social maturity of the initiate”. Ms Law noted that “recent years have seen increasing opposition to the practice of elective infant circumcision, on the grounds that it is dangerous, unnecessary and compromises the health and corporal integrity of male infants”.

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ut another side of the debate was support for circumcision in light of studies conducted since the late 1980s that have shown “a strikingly positive relationship between those parts of Africa which have high rates of HIV/Aids and those that have low rates of male circumcision”, Ms Law said. Consequently, there have been increasing calls, supported by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini, for the reintroduction of the practice of ritualised circumcision among the Zulus in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. Ms Law said the regions statistics were a driving force behind the initiative since more than one in seven people are HIV positive with around 350 new infections, and more than 320 deaths from Aids-related illnesses, each day in KwaZulu-Natal. “In an effort to pilot the reintroduction of circumcision, more than 200 men and boys took part in the first government-supported circumcision camp in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Government has announced that it will scale up medical male circumcision as part of the comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, the intention being to circumcise two million men within the next five years.” The regulations have received negative feedback from circumcision schools who believe tradition should not be interfered with. The Catholic Church has also shown support for the practice. The Southern Cross reported in August that St Mary’s Hospital in Mariannhill, in a joint venture with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, the US government and the Centre for Disease Control opened a clinic dedicated to reducing the number of HIV/Aids infected in the area. The Medical Male Circumcision Clinic in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal, was opened after seeing a need for male circumcision due to the growing number of registered patients coming in for circumcision at the hospital. Meanwhile, the South African Medical Association has said in a statement that there was “no medical justification for the routine circumcision of infants from a medical point of view, and there was no medical justification for routine circumcision in males and children”. The sentiment is shared by medical authorities in Britain, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, who agree that there is no medical case for routine circumcision. Despite this, facilities such as St Mary’s Circumcision Clinic encouraged mothers to circumcise their new born sons as it could contribute to the reduction in Aids cases over the next few years. Ms Law said the practice was bound to receive further debate, but said this simply “emphasises the need for a contextual approach that honours the customs and traditions of the past, takes into account the realities of the present, and prepares young men to assume the responsibilities and challenges of the future”.

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xenephobia, abuse By ClaiRE MaThiESon

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HE Scalabrini Centre in Cape Town, a migrant welfare and development organisation, is participating in the national movement of 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence through two exhibitions in the city. Communications coordinator, Daniela Cohen said the centre, which provides support to both migrant and local communities of Cape Town, upholds human rights as a basic need and gets involved in movements where possible. “Given the crucial role women play in shaping a vibrant and strong society, the call to 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is vital and requires mass support.” Organisers of the event say that dealing with violent experiences within a creative therapeutic space is key to that healing. In 2009, French art therapist Sylvie Groschatau-Philips gave refugees and displaced women from Zimbabwe, Congo and Rwanda the opportunity to “express and

interrogate their experiences through art”. These pieces will be on display as part of the “Tangible Invisible” exhibition which showcases the artworks that give “insight into the circumstancse of displaced women”, Ms Cohen said. “Unite as One” is another exhibition that will be on show. The exhibition came after fears of new xenophobic attacks emerged during and after the World Cup. According to Ms Cohen, in the urgency to speak out against xenophobia and intolerance against others, four organisations—The Scalabrini Centre, Sonke Gender Justice, Black Sash and Passop— partnered to created the counter movement Unite as One, “focusing on humanity, peaceand unity”. Ms Cohen said the Unite as One exhibition gives insight into the anti-xenophobic campaign and captures images of how the message of unity was spread throughout South Africa. Both exhibitions run to December 5 at the Central Library of Cape Town.

Fr Pascual Chavez (pictured), the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, officially blessed a new wing at the Bosco youth Centre in Johannesburg. The wing consists of double en-suite rooms and can be used as a conference facility. The priest visited Southern africa for a meeting of all Salesian provincials of africa. at the meeting 1 250 priest and brothers represented 42 african countries. in addition to attending the meeting, Fr Chavel preached at a week-long retreat.


LOCAL

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

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Catholic education ‘a precious gift’ Healthcare in the spotlight By ClaiRE MaThiESon

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HE importance of Catholic education was highlighted at Cape Town’s Springfield Convent School in a speech delivered by a former pupil at the annual prize-giving ceremony. Architect, lecturer and past Fullbright Scholar Claire Abrahamse addressed the school for girls about being holders of a very “precious and empowering prize”: the gift of a Catholic education. Ms Abrahamse said the true value of her Catholic education was revealed only later, during her almost eleven years of tertiary studies. “I can look back and recognise that my Springfield education has created a vast array of opportunities for me through the self-discipline, values and the worldview that were imparted to me during my 12 years here.” The former Springfield Convent pupil said one of the most important lessons imparted to her through her Catholic education was that of attitude. It is this attitude that she attributes to being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the United States between 2007 and 2009. “For me there was only one option: to study architecture and urbanism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston—rated the top technical University and overall fifth ranked in the world by World University Rankings 2010. According to Ms Abrahamse, 44% of the MIT student body is made up of foreign students,

exposing her to viewpoints and approaches of young architects from six continents. “I was absolutely delighted that all of us, from such diverse cultures, religions and corners of the globe, had a common and developing understanding of good design and the key global and social issues it could address,” she said. She noted that many of her peers had, at some stage, received a Catholic education. “No matter their cultural or religious backgrounds, friends from sub-continental Asia and Europe had often attended Catholic Schools, while North and particularly South Americans had often attended Catholic universities for their undergraduate studies.” Ms Abrahamse said this observation was shared by many including her academic advisor who, after teaching at MIT for some 35 years had come to believe that Catholics were without doubt doing something right when it came to education. After doing some research, Ms Abrahamse found a vast body of work documenting Catholic schools as being “streets ahead when it comes to educating urban children and young adults, and have been for many decades”. The research gave reasons for this success: Catholic schools stick to a content-rich core curriculum that isn’t easily swayed by untested trends in education; that Catholic schools place emphasis on character as well as academics; and that Catholic schools build social capital

through creating strong ties to parents, parishioners and their neighbourhoods. “While I agree with these points, none really resonated with my own feelings about Catholic education, and so I had to go back and reflect on my experiences,” said Ms Abrahamse. She found her Catholic education had more than equipped her for the challenges of tertiary education and “the real world”. In addition, there was a sense of confidence present in all former Springfield girls “I believe that this ability to thrive in new environments, take on responsibilities and assume leadership positions so soon after leaving school is directly related to the examples of commitment we received from our teachers and the Springfield Sisters. “Springfield pupils have, for 139 years, been the privileged benefactors of the tremendous sacrifices of women and men who have shaped their lives according to what they believe. And one of their key beliefs has always been the value of educating women,” she said. Ms Abrahamse said the education she received delivered consistent values, surrounded her with people who live virtues, developed self-discipline and provided rigorous academic training. “It has taught us to respect the dignity of all people, to have compassionate concern for those who lack basic human needs, and to reach out to the global as well as the local community.”

By ClaiRE MaThiESon

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S part of its Caring Schools Programme, the Catholic Institution of Education (CIE) has been dedicated to pastoral care in some of the country’s poorest schools. The programme has seen 2 000 learners in 30 rural areas receive health screening. According to the CIE website (www.cie.org.za), pastoral care is “the caring response of people within the school community for each other”. Vivien Byrne of the CIE Development Office said the initiative came after 18 schools in South Africa’s poorest areas were surveyed in 2009 to assess the extent and efficacy of healthcare available to them. “All of the schools surveyed indicated that available services were far from adequate and that they would benefit significantly from supplementary health screening.” The programme was developed by the Pastoral Care team at the CIE in collaboration with the national and provincial Departments of Health, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Basic Education. The process involved an eye and ear test, a general visual examination and checking learners for deficiencies. An average of 75 children was screened each day by volunteer professional nurses, assisted by CIE staff. According to Ms Byrne, the screen-

ings not only assisted by picking up primary healthcare problems for individual learners, but also “allowed a number of broader issues to be identified at schools regarding matters of ethos and resource utilisation”. Other factors seen as problematic included the state of the environment, hygiene, signs of neglect, poor conditions in hospitals and the distances some children had to walk to get to school. “A major concern for the Department of Health was the need for follow-up screenings with the necessary treatment, care and support that the vulnerable learner requires.” Ms Byrne said the CIE has undertaken to remain in contact with schools that have undergone screening. “The first phase of the programme has been exciting and very well received. The CIE is negotiating with the Department of Education’s Health Promotion Unit to extend this type of work to more schools throughout South Africa in the near future.” The CIE believes that all Catholic schools should have a Pastoral Care Committee as it “integrates the academic, social and religious dimensions of the school curriculum to promote the development of the whole person”. Ms Byrne said the unit and regional managers are following up with schools to ensure that the children referred to clinics have received treatment.

FOR THE RECORD: In our feature article, “Willing to get involved in the messiness of life” (November 24), we incorrectly stated that St Joseph’s Care and Support Trust at Sizanani Village has 10 258 patients in its Aids care. The correct figure is 3 787. The trust was founded in 1999 by Elisabeth Schilling and is situated at Sizanani Village, which was established by Fr Karl Kuppelwieser. We regret the error.

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Br Mothusi Boatile oMi was ordained a priest this month by Bishop Valentine Seane of Gaborone at St Peter’s Catholic church’s Gabane. Fr Boatile is the first oblate from Botswana since the oblates from lesotho arrived in the country in 1992. Fr completed his studies in philosophy and theology in lesotho and has a master’s degree in the Sesotho language.

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INTERNATIONAL

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

Anglicans to cross in Jan By SiMon CalDWEll

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HE first personal ordinariate for former Anglicans will be established in England in early January, the English and Welsh Catholic bishops have announced. It will include five former Anglican bishops, who announced their resignations in November, and an unspecified number of clergy and laity divided into about 30 groups, the bishops told a news conference. The ordinariate will be formed by a decree and Pope Benedict will appoint the ordinary at about the same time, they said. The structure, which will resemble a military diocese, will be the first to be created since the pope issued his 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus. The ordinariate will allow groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while retaining much of their distinctive patrimony— including married priests—as well as their liturgical practices. The three serving Anglican bishops, whose resignations come into

effect on December 31, will be ordained Catholic priests in January, and the two retired bishops will be ordained as priests before Lent, said Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster, the bishops’ liaison officer for the ordinariate and the highest-ranking former Anglican priest in England and Wales. Clergy and laity will undergo formation and instruction so they can be received into the Catholic Church during Holy Week. Those Anglican pastors who wish to become Catholic priests in the new structure will be ordained and incardinated into the ordinariate at Pentecost, Bishop Hopes explained. He said the priests would first undergo a rigorous 12-week course overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “After their ordination, we expect the clergy to continue their studies for some time so they can really get their feet under the table of the Catholic Church,” he added. Bishop Hopes refused to tell the

exact number of people who will initially make up the ordinariate, though sources close to the bishops said that they are likely to include about 50 clerics and hundreds of laypeople. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the bishops’ conference, told the news conference the five bishops are the only Anglicans who have publicly stated their desire to join the ordinariate. He said he did not “feel guilty” that some Anglican parishes might be left without pastors, a point raised by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, the Anglican leader, on Vatican Radio. Archbishop Nichols said Pope Benedict had offered the ordinariate only in response to repeated requests from Anglicans for corporate reception. “It is out of respect for that imperative of conscience that all this takes place,” he said. “This is not a process of rivalry and competition between our churches. Indeed, we believe that

People stand near wooden crosses surrounded by paper flowers in a former cotton field in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Close to 6 500 people have been killed in Juarez alone since 2008 as US-Mexico border violence has escalated and forced tens of thousands of people to flee the city and 10 000 businesses to close. (Photo: Gael Gonzalez, Reuters/CnS) mutual strength is very important. “We have a shared mission, we have a shared task. We are not in competition in the task of trying to bring the Gospel to our society,” he said.

Archbishop Nichols said the problem of finding church buildings for the ordinariate could be solved in the first instance by encouraging sharing churches with local Catholic parishes.—CNS

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OUNG educated Christian Palestinians would rather stay in their country than emigrate, if given the proper opportunities, according to results of a study commissioned by the Catholic Aid Coordination Committee, a consortium of Christian organisations in Jerusalem. Sami El-Yousef, Jerusalem regional director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, a member of the consortium, said young people have a deep connection to the land and are looking to the Church and Church organisations to find a way to help them remain in the country by providing adequate job opportunities and help with education and housing. The youth also expressed a strong religious commitment to their Christian faith and a keen sense of pride in their religion, Mr El-Yousef said.

In general, Mr El-Yousef said, there were overlapping principles between the assessment study and the final conclusions of the synod, including the need to encourage Christians to better integrate into society. One such action to aid in this process could be to provide loans to families so they can purchase homes in mixed neighbourhoods rather than building more Christian housing projects, he said. According to the study, the expectations of the community are much higher than what the Church and its organisations can provide. “The Christian population expects the church to take a role in their daily lives, including health care, education and housing, which seems a bit exaggerated,” said El-Yousef. “[Political] rule in the West Bank may shift, but the constant in their lives is the Church and they look to it for support. This

is a challenge for Catholic aid organisations.” The study included all centres of Christian populations, including outlying villages as well as larger urban centres and the Gaza Strip. It focused on the issues of youth, the elderly, women and labourers and also included separate interviews with 19 prominent Christians. Many of the elderly interviewed expressed a sense of emptiness in their lives as the traditional cohesiveness of Palestinian extended families, which in the past have cared for their elderly relatives, has loosened, leaving no one at home to look after the grandparents. The study found that in Gaza, the Israeli blockade combined with Hamas rule have given many Christians a sense of alienation from the greater church community, from Gaza society in general and from the world at large.—CNS

Woman’s death sentence highlights discrimination By SaRah DElanEy

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OPE Benedict has voiced his care and support for a 37year-old Christian woman who was sentenced to death in Pakistan after being convicted on charges of blasphemy. “I express my spiritual closeness to Aasia Bibi and her family and ask that she soon regain her full liberty,” the pope said at the regular weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. Mrs Bibi (pictured) was convicted on November 14 by a Pakistani court for an alleged offence to the Islamic prophet Mohammed. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has since stayed the execution. The pope said he prayed “for all those who find themselves in similar situations” as Mrs Bibi and asked “that their human dignity and fundamental rights are fully respected”. Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Pak-

istani Bishops Conference, told Vatican Radio that “the death sentence has shocked the civil society here”, which he added, “is very active”. Vatican Radio said that the charges against Mrs Bibi had been lodged following an argument with some Muslim women. Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, reported that Mrs Bibi’s family had appealed to the high court in Lahore, Pakistan, hoping to overturn the sentence determined by a lower court in the district of Nankana Sahib. Avvenire said that it was the first time a woman had been sentenced to death under the blasphemy law. Bishop Rufin Anthony of Isalamabad-Rawalpindi told the missionary news service AsiaNews that “the law is abused and manipulated for petty reasons and it is time to repeal it to make Pakistan a modern country”. Avvenire quoted Faisalabad Bishop Joseph Coutts as saying

that in asking for the abrogation of the law against blasphemy “we don’t want to encourage disrespectful acts towards the prophet”. But, he said, “we deplore its application when used to hurt an adversary or an enemy”. Nobody has ever been executed under the blasphemy law, because sentences usually are overturned on appeal, but at least ten people are reported to have been murdered while on trial.—CNS

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INTERNATIONAL

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

5

Pope to cardinals: True authority means service By CinDy WooDEn

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OPE Benedict created 24 new cardinals and called them to be strong in spreading and defending the faith and promoting peace and tranquility within the Church. The new cardinals from 13 countries formally professed their Catholic faith and fidelity to the pope. After the oath, all but one of the new cardinals knelt before the pope to receive a red biretta, a three-cornered hat, which the pope said “signifies that you must be ready to act with strength, to the point of shedding blood, to increase the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquility of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of the holy Roman Church”. Cardinal Antonios Naguib, the Catholic Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, received a new patriarch’s hat with a thin red

trim added to the traditional black veil. The pope also assigned the new cardinals a “titular church” in Rome, making them members of the Rome diocesan clergy, which is what the Church’s first cardinals were. The consistory to create new cardinals took the form of a prayer service in St Peter’s basilica. With the exception of the pope’s homily and the prayers of the faithful, the service was in Latin. It was the first papal service featuring the new director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, Mgr Massimo Palombella, and the musical innovations included a brass section and the Psalm sung by a trio. Outside the basilica a storm was approaching and as Pope Benedict announced the name of the new Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, the applause for him was accompanied by a roll of thunder. In his homily, Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict arrives for a consistory in St Peter’s basilica to create 24 new cardinals. (Photo: Paul haring, CnS) said he chose as cardinals “pastors who govern important diocesan communities with zeal,

prelates in charge of dicasteries of the Roman curia or who have served the Church and the Holy

See with exemplary fidelity”. Pope Benedict told the new cardinals they must recognise that becoming “unique and precious” collaborators in the papal mission to serve the Church is not an honour they can take credit for, but is a vocation to which they are called. Jesus’ teaching that authority means humble service is a message that continues to be valid for the Church, “especially for those who have the task of guiding the people of God”, the pope said. “It is not the logic of domination, of power according to human criteria, but the logic of bowing down to wash feet, the logic of service, the logic of the Cross, which is at the basis of every exercise of authority.” At the end of the service, the College of Cardinals numbered a record 203 members, with 121 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.—CNS

In new book, pope addresses sex abuse and resignation By John ThaViS

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OPE Benedict’s book-length interview is certain to spark global attention, and not only for his comments suggesting that condom use might be acceptable in some circumstances (see page 1). In the 219-page book Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, the German pontiff spoke candidly on the clerical sex abuse scandal, relations with Islam, papal resignation and the “threatening catastrophe” facing humanity. The wide-ranging interview was conducted by German writer Peter Seewald, who posed questions in six one-hour sessions this year. The book was released on November 23 at the Vatican. The book reveals a less formal side of the pope, as he responds simply and directly on topics as diverse as the joy of sex and the ban on burqas. Much of the conversation focuses on the pope’s call for a global “examination of conscience” in the face of econom-

ic disparity, environmental disasters and moral slippage. The pope repeatedly emphasised that the Church’s role in a largely broken world is not to impose a “burden” of moral rules but to open the doors to God. An entire chapter and parts of others were dedicated to the clerical sex abuse scandal. The pope called it “a great crisis” that left him “stunned by how wretched the Church is, by how much her members fail to follow Christ”. “It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame,” he said. He expressed optimism about the Church’s recovery from the scandal, but he also said he understands why some Catholics, particularly victims, have responded by leaving the Church in protest. “It is difficult for them to keep believing that the Church is a source of good, that she communi-

cates the light of Christ, that she helps people in life—I can understand that.” The pope said media coverage of the abuse scandal was partly motivated by a desire to discredit the Church. But he added that the Church must be “grateful for every disclosure” and said the media could not have reported in this way “had there not been evil in the Church”. The pope pointed to the Church’s new rules and policies on sex abuse, but he appeared to acknowledge that more might have been done. He noted that in 2002, the Vatican and US bishops established strict norms to curb sex abuse in US dioceses. “Would it have been Rome’s duty, then, to say to all the countries expressly: Find out whether you are in the same situation? Maybe we should have done that.” Asked if he considered resigning in the face of such burdens as the sex abuse crisis, he responded: “When the danger is great one must not run away. For that rea-

son, now is certainly not the time to resign.” But he added that if a pope is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of the papacy, he has a right and perhaps an obligation to resign. The pope spoke candidly of his age and health, saying his schedule of meetings and trips “really overtaxes an 83-year-old man”. “I trust that our dear Lord will give me as much strength as I need to be able to do what is necessary. But I also notice that my forces are diminishing,” he said. The pope laughed when Mr Seewald suggested that he looked good enough to be a fitness trainer, and said he has to conserve energy during his busy days. Asked whether he uses an exercise bicycle a doctor had given him, the pope replied: “No, I don’t get to it at all—and don’t need it at the moment, thank God.” He said he spends his free time reading, praying and sometimes watching DVDs—typically with religious themes—with members

of the papal household. Much of the book dealt with the pope’s strategy for presenting the Church’s message in a largely sceptical world. The essential problem today, he said, is that the prevailing model of economic and social progress that leaves out God, and thus omits the ethical aspect. Impending climactic disaster actually provides an opportunity to evangelise and promote moral decisions, he said. The problem, though, is that populations and countries seem unwilling to make sacrifices—which is where the Church can make a difference. It is urgent to “bring the question about God back into the center”, he said. “The important thing today is to see that God exists, that God matters to us and that he answers us.” He said the Church can do this only if its own members live the faith in their daily lives. He said that simple task should be the priority today, rather than embarking on major initiatives like a third Vatican Council.—CNS

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6

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Editor: Günther Simmermacher

A consistent pope

S

INCE Pope Benedict was elected to the papacy in April 2005, he has often perplexed those who had fixed expectations of his pontificate. There can be no mistake that on the spectrum of Catholic thought, Pope Benedict can be located on the conservative side of things, certainly on matters such as liturgy, bioethics and the family. But those who expected the former Joseph Ratzinger to clear out the Church of socalled dissenters (a loaded term which inappropriate overuse has rendered almost meaningless) have been disappointed by a pope who is not unwilling to listen, within certain limits, to those who differ with him. Those who expected Pope Benedict to be a doctrinaire hardliner, sternly inflexible and defensive on “progressive” issues, will have encountered a pope whose application of nuances sometimes broadens Catholic discourse in unexpected ways. The secular media has shown itself to be baffled by these nuances, finding it difficult to make sense of Pope Benedict when he fails to conform to the public stereotype they created in the first place. The pope’s recent comment on condoms—the use of which, he said in a book-length interview with journalist Peter Seewald, can be justified under certain circumstances as a means of preventing HIV infection—was one of those times when Pope Benedict played against that stereotype. The secular media, which increasingly employ the services of journalists unacquainted with the religious milieu, were perplexed, headlining the condom story with terms such as “conversion” and “aboutturn”, as though Pope Benedict had previously ruled out the use of condoms under any circumstance. The pope may have helped create that image himself when on his way to Cameroon in March 2009 he made a brief comment that was critical of the promotion of condoms in HIV/Aids prevention. The comment was incomplete and set the pope up for a hysterical reaction among his critics, who

accused him of saying things he had, in fact, not said. The pope’s very qualified endorsement of condom-use in the Seewald interview does not contradict his 2009 statement. Then he talked about condoms as a strategy; in the interview he referred to particular circumstances before reaffirming his 2009 statement. It can be said that in 2009, he spoke as a pastor, and in 2010 as a theologian. There is nothing in what the pope said that can be described as a “conversion” (other than his willingness to state his view publicly, which in itself is significant). What he said is entirely consistent with Church teaching and grounded in moral theology. The pope’s statement, even though it is a private opinion that Catholics are free to disagree with, will require of some Catholics a mind-shift. Those who fling about terms such as “pro-condom bishops” in dismissive reference to members of the hierarchy who have long said much of what the pope now has publicly stated, will have to consider whether, for the sake of consistency, they will likewise label Pope Benedict a “pro-condom pontiff”. Of course, the condom issue was just a small part of the Seewald interview. In it, the pope also addressed the abuse crisis in the Church candidly, acknowledging mistakes the hierarchy has made along the way, and expressing his horror at the crimes that were committed. In doing so, Pope Benedict validated critical selfexamination. He also affirmed that the forthright assessment of the abuse scandal, internally and externally, and the media reports on the subject are not intrinsically anti-Catholic or anti-clerical. Pope Benedict also spoke with empathy about abuse survivors who had left the Church, again negating a persistent stereotype. Pope Benedict may surprise and even confuse some people, critics and admirers alike. Closer inspection, however, reveals a man of predictable consistency, genuine openness and sometimes an unexpected tolerance for alternative viewpoints.

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.

Fair complaint procedures

O

N an on-going basis many Catholics seem to be having very bad experiences with the actions and attitudes of those in positions of responsibility in the Church. While the issues of paedophilia seems to have resulted in the setting up of structures to deal with the problems concerned, paedophilia is far from being the only problem in the Church. When serious issues arise people will try to refer them to Church authorities—but the result is often highly unsatisfactory. The type of complaints that I have encountered include illicit relationships with women, including young girls, firing church employees without notice or proper procedure, misuse of Church funds, and violent outbursts and punitive sanctions against parishioners and members of the public.

Dream of beauty

W

E are in the midst of celebrating the 50th anniversary (Golden Jubilee) of Johannesburg’s cathedral of Christ the King. My late father was baptised in the old Kerk Street, procathedral in 1904, as I was in 1941. I was married in the present cathedral in 1965 and vividly remember the visit of Cardinal Montini of Milan to the cathedral in 1962, on which visit he also laid the foundation stone of the church of Regina Mundi in Moroka. The following year he would be elected Pope Paul VI. In 1985, the year of our cathedral’s silver anniversary, Michael Bruce and I gave suggestions to mark that celebration as invited by Mgr Tony Kelly, the administrator at that time. My ambitious suggestion for a mosaic of Christos Pantocrator, or Christ the King in Majesty, to cover the north wall of the sanctury, has been a life-long dream. The cost, of course, especially today, would be prohibitive. I even went to see the artist, the late Arnoldo Baldinelli, at the time who said he would love to do it if he were invited and if he had a sponsor. The faithful accomplished wonders with the glorious rose windows of Chartres and Notre Dame de Paris in the middle ages. Why not today? I suppose one can only dream. John Lee, Johannesburg

Relying on one’s own conscience

C

ONGRATULATIONS to The Southern Cross for accepting the advertisement with Bish-

Apart from that, other areas of concern are the failure of many priests to exercise any form of pastoral care and responsibility such as giving direction and encouragement to parish sodalities and maintaining good relationships with parishioners by talking to them in a respectful and sensitive manner or visiting them. Unfortunately, just as in the case of complaints about paedophilia, these are often badly handled. The local bishop might not always reply to complaints, even pass correspondence marked confidential to the priest in question. The priest concerned might then take retaliatory action by ostracising the complainant and forcing them out of any position they may have in the parish. This serves as a deterrant to anyone making further complaints and the abusive actions that caused the complaint continue op Dowling’s address to the laity on June 1. Congratulations also to the good bishop for saying “from the top” what so many of us feel. I felt his remarks were balanced and honest and lucid. I think that the Southern African bishops reply (also in the advertisement) was lacklustre, tepid and dodged the issue. The vexed question of relying on one’s conscience has been around for a long time, certainly at least from the time of St Thomas Acquinas. The Church has been quick to reiterate the definition of what is demanded of a conscience that makes an important decision, usually in conflict with what or is being taught or suggested by “the Church authorities”. I am sure that anyone in the position of making such a decision, knows perfectly well what is required of him/her and think the repeated definition is simply begging the question. Even Fr Ratzinger, as he was then, did not need to present it. There will, I am sure, always be those of us at the bottom level who seriously think about matters that concern us all, and we also know that Archbishop Denis Hurley was disturbed at the cavalier treatment of so many of the policies of Vatican II. We are called the People of God, and we can’t help wondering when we will be treated as mature and responsible people. Carmen Smith, Cape Town

The voting Body of Christ

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OUTH Africa since 1994 has become a democracy with a Constitution that is deemed to one of the best in the world. It is also recognised that the Catholic Church prior to 1994 played a piv-

unabated causing discord in the parish. What is necessary is for every diocese to have a standing commission or committee to deal with complaints and to set up procedurtes so that these are fairly and speedily resolved. The contact details of this commission should be widely publicised, so that people know who to approach. Apart from that, there should be thorough and credible reviews of the pastoral ministry of every priest by the diocese or the religious congregation or order he belongs to. In addition the parish council should be given the duty to take up any irregularities with the priest and when needed report these to the diocese. What I am suggesting is no more than what reputable businesses and governments have tried to intitute. Surely the Church can at least do as much as secular society? Frank Bompas, Johannesburg otal role in bringing down the system of apartheid. Many vulnerable victims and previous disadvantaged communities were supported by the Catholic Church during apartheid. South Africa, a country free from domination of a small minority, has over the past 16 years developed a strong system of government. The Constitution of 1996 entrenches this system of government; however this infant system of government is in need of support and direction. The South African Catholic Church would do well through its Justice and Peace to ensure that the constitutional democracy is implemented as intended by the Constitution. The clergy played their role prior to 1994, therefore post-1994 must belong to the laity—the voting Body of Christ. The voting Body of Christ, the laity, needs to engage through the efforts of Justice and Peace in their respective parishes by understanding the intentions and purpose of the South African constitution and whether these intentions and purposes are implemented for the good of all South Africans. The laity needs to be guided by the teaching of Christ when engaging the South African democracy through the South African Constitution. Allan Sauls, Johannesburg

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.


PERSPECTIVES

Preparing for the endgame Bishop Hubert Bucher T HE original and deeper meaning of Advent is to serve as a reminder of Christ’s Second Coming—to remind us, year after year, about the “end times”. “Think of the fig tree, and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near” (Lk 21:29-33). The Old Testament book of Daniel describes the prophet’s nightly visions. In one of these he saw a terrible beast. Together with other frightening beasts, this beast terrorised and killed many people on earth (7:2-14). But then Daniel had another vision, in which that fearful beast was killed and its associates were deprived of their power. Finally, he saw in another vision, “coming on the clouds of heaven, one like a son of man. He came to him who had condemned the fearful beast to death, and glory and kingship was conferred on him, and men and women from all peoples, nations and languages became his servants” (13f). Jesus identified himself with the one who will come on the clouds of heaven, and before whom every human being will have to appear at the end of the world to be judged, as we profess in the Nicene Creed: “He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” The reminder about the “last things” is not meant to frighten us, but to awaken our realism. We are all on the way to our exit from this life on earth, which will happen at the hour of our death. Advent encourages and urges us to accept and live with this reality, without fear. However, this is only possible if we strive to live holy lives, that is, living in accordance with God’s will, as Jesus told his disciples: “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). It is no coincidence that we start the month of November—at the end of which we enter the season of Advent—

with the feast of All Saints. The message of the feast of All Saints is very simple and clear: No saint has fallen from heaven. All saints were men and women like you and me. Each of them had some, or many, good gifts, but each of them had also their shadow sides. Like ourselves, all of them had to struggle against sin, but they learnt to put their trust completely in God’s power to help them change and become holy. This is our calling since the day when we received the sacrament of Baptism. We are called to join the huge crowd of people which another visionary—this time of the New Testament—saw, and about which we read in the last book of the Bible, St John’s Book of Revelation. Our celebration of the Holy Eucharist is full of references to this liturgy which takes place in heaven, and which the writer of the Book of Revelation saw in his vision: “I saw a great multitude, which no one could count” (7:9f).

A

t each solemn celebration of the Eucharist we incense the altar, just as John saw the altar in the heavenly Jerusalem incensed, and it is said in the Book of Revelation that the incense represents the prayers of the faithful. On the altar in heaven, John sees “a lamb that seems to have been slain”, yet it is alive and receives worship and praise from the vast multitude of souls that have been saved through its death. We easily recognise in that lamb our Lord Jesus, who was slain on the cross for our sins and to whom, just before receiving him in Holy Communion, we call: “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us and give us peace.” Before this, at the end of the praise hymn which is called the Preface, we say or sing in each holy Mass: “Holy, holy, holy…”, again taking our cue from the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation was a great source of consolation and strength for the followers of Christ during the persecution which they had to

Preserve the good things

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RESERVE me... What immediately comes to mind on seeing these words? They are certainly biblical, and many of the psalms are in that vein. Some people, possibly older and more religious, might also use them instead of swear words. The Knights of Da Gama in their campaign for reverence of the Holy Name of Jesus would approve too. I still remember one bumper sticker that really tickled my funnybone years ago. It said: “Preserve wildlife, pickle a squirrel.” Cruel, of course, but clever. From my usual perspective of family friendliness, I have been pleased to work in a programme called Family Preservation. It is a movement, a philosophy, an approach and also a vision for social living not just for family life. The vision and a programme are being promoted by the Family Directorate of the government’s Department of Social Development as the underlying vision for welfare and service delivery to families across the board. The principle of “safety first” must also apply, and if there is a real danger to a child’s life, he or she has to be removed from the family, but I buy wholeheartedly into the conviction that families should be kept together whenever possible, even in times of crisis. The work, then, of the social worker or other professionals and their support team—which is most often where our parish family ministers could come in—is to assess the needs, and together with the

Reflections on advent

endure throughout the Roman empire in the first three centuries. It gave them the promise that their suffering was not in vain: just like Jesus rose from the dead after his death on the cross, every one who takes up his or her cross and follows Jesus in bearing the hardships of this life, will be saved and admitted to join the saints in heaven. The Book of Revelation ends with the words in the Aramaic language “Marana tha!” They are addressed to Jesus, and mean: “Come, Lord Jesus!” When we gather in our homes around the Advent wreath, and each time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, let us make this call of the early Christians, our ancestors in the faith, our own: “Come, Lord Jesus! Help me not to be afraid of death, but rather to look forward to it as the gate to life everlasting. Help us to look forward to the end of the world as we experience it today, a world filled with so much beauty and goodness, but also filled with so much hatred, war and destruction, unfaithfulness, lies and deception, violence, corruption, pain and tears. “Come, Lord Jesus, help us to be salt of the earth and light of the world, messengers of the New World which you are going inaugurate on the Last Day; a world unspoilt by sin, a world which will begin and never end when you will come on the clouds of heaven, and take with you into your Father’s House, all those who believed in you and were faithful in following you until the end of their lives.” n Bishop Hubert Bucher is the retired bishop of Bethlehem in the Free State. This is the second of his three-part series of reflections on Advent.

Toni Rowland

family make a developmental plan which includes building on their strengths, teaching skills, communicating or “family conferencing”. This is all under the guidance of the programme facilitator, but from our nonprofessional perspective, conferencing is much the same as Family Hour as promoted by the bishops’ Family Life Desk and the Marriage and Family Ministry (MARFAM) in our programmes and publications. Remember the 2010 slogan, “The family that prays and plays together stays together”—or the family that walks and talks together, or earns and learn together has a potential for more effective functioning and learning the skills of life. MARFAM’s latest publication, Pray As You Go, very specifically promotes the idea of spending time talking, listening, sharing, praying and deciding on action around a number of different issues that could be relevant to a family. The technique used is that of a common faith sharing method, and so any relevant issue for a family can be used. It is not specifically an Advent programme, but at this time of the year I wonder what those relevant issues could possibly be. How will we spend our holidays, with or without going away? What can we do about Christmas presents if we really can’t afford the kind of gifts the children would love and might expect? Will the Christmas parties we attend be dry or drunken? What plans are in place should there be a crisis in our family over the

Family Friendly

holiday season? Another workshop I attended recently highlighted for me how ill-prepared I and my family are for dealing with a crisis. Do we have emergency telephone numbers handy? Do we have a will and instructions to deal with any eventualities in case of an accident or worse? Do people know where to find them? In sharing with one another in our families on such issues we should bring in “What would Jesus do?” Beyond praying, “Preserve me O God”, or pickling whatever leftovers there are so as to save the morsels, or keep the memories alive for posterity, what else is there? I do have a wish, a hope and a prayer for all families during the month ahead. In the words of the blessing from the Book of Numbers: “May the Lord protect you and keep you. May he let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May he bring you his peace.” I think that is what preservation in the deepest sense is all about, but it’s not only up to God. Paul told the Ephesians that we must do our best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by the way we treat one another with humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance. A tall order maybe for this time of the year, but one that deserves to be preserved.

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The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

7

Michael Shackleton open Door

To beat the devil Pope Paul VI suspended the priest’s tonsure. Did he suspend the exorcism practices as well? If so, why then does an official office of chief exorcist exist in the Vatican? T M Rosa OPE Paul did not suspend the clerical tonsure but abolished it in 1972 along with clerical minor orders. In the rite of tonsure, the candidate had his hair shaved off either wholly or partly to show that he was about to enter the clerical state. Today a man becomes a cleric when he is ordained a deacon. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines exorcism as the act of driving out or warding off demons or evil spirits from persons, places or things which are believed to be possessed or infested by them, or are liable to become victims or instruments of their malice. The Church’s liturgical rite of exorcism, dating from the year 1614, was revised under Pope John Paul II only in 1998. It reasserts the Church’s traditional belief in demons and diabolical possession and declares that the Church, having the authority of Christ, continues to pray that individuals will be freed from the snares of the devil. Exorcists frequently have to fast and pray fervently before attempting the rite. They are reminded that they have the spiritual authority over Satan which Christ confided in his Church. The rite is performed by a priest having the mandate of his bishop to do so, and whose holiness of life is manifest. It principally entails prayers asking for God’s help followed by stern commands addressed to the evil spirit, ordering him to leave the possessed person alone. The priest lays his hand on and sprinkles the person with holy water. The Vatican’s chief exorcist has to be a priest who actively performs exorcisms and who keeps in contact with bishops who have reported exorcisms to the Congregation for Divine Worship. The present chief exorcist is Fr Gabriele Amorth who is reputed to have said that the devil is more afraid of him than he is of the devil. Nowadays there are not many cases when the rite is used. Perhaps this is due to the requirement that those suspected of diabolical possession must first voluntarily undergo psychiatric assessment. The local bishop will usually consult suitable practitioners to ascertain whether they can diagnose a disordered state in terms of their symtomatology. When they cannot readily do so, the bishop may decide on exorcism.

P

n Send your queries to Open Door, Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000; or e-mail: opendoor@scross.co.za; or fax (021) 465 3850. Anonymity can be preserved by arrangement, but questions must be signed, and may be edited for clarity. Only published questions will be answered.

Pray that AFRICA may draw closer to the heart of CHRIST

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COMMUNITY

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

youth from St augustine church in Virginia in kroonstad diocese, Free State, at the launch of their youth movement. (Submitted by Jeffery ndlaze)

Since 1996, each of the five Marist schools in the country—St Joseph’s Marist College in Cape Town, St henry’s Marist Brothers College in Durban, St David’s Marist inanda, Marist Brothers’ linmeyer and Sacred heart College, all in Johannesburg—have been sending two representatives on a pilgrimage to italy and France to provide opportunities to achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of the Marist charism, the Church and the faith as a whole. Pictured are this year’s pilgrims. a group of teenagers who form part of the loveMatters team journeyed to the Bosco youth Centre for a programme that deals with behaviour management, promotes the commitment of abstinence before marriage and fidelity within it. (Submitted by nhlanhla Mdlalose)

Bishop Barry Wood (centre back), auxilliary in Durban, presided over the confirmation of St anthony’s parish youths: keelen Snyders, Ryan Jackson, Rory Stevens and Brandon Smith. Pictured with Bishop Woods and the youths is parish priest Fr noel Mchenry SPS and Fr Mick Madegan SPS. (Photo: Richard Moodley)

CAPUCHIN SISTERS RETREAT HOUSE We are blessed to have this House of prayer to share the contemplative silence and solitude that are our riches as Poor Clares. Retreatants have the opportunity to: Attend Eucharist with the Sisters Spend time in personal prayer and reflection Experience the peace, simplicity and joy of a Franciscan holy place Experience the support and the prayers of the Capuchin Poor Clare Sisters Take time for rest and renewal TO MAKE RESERVATION OR FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Sr. Leonissa (028) 514-1319 e-mail: capuchin@telkomsa.net

Children of St Philip church in Strandfontein, Cape Town prepare for their first confession. (Submitted by ilza Muller)

The Catholic Women’s league (CWD) in kuils River, Cape Town, hosted a Breast Cancer awareness and Fundraising Day at St ninian’s church. Pictured are surgeon Dr karin Baatjes and CWD chairwoman Colleen Gray.

a great gift for Sa Catholics abroad Get Southern Africa’s national Catholic newspaper to South African Catholics living overseas every week by giving them this Christmas a subscription to

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A Christmas gift that will last the whole year! To subscribe, go to www.scross.co.za/subscribe or e-mail Avril at subsicrptions@scross.co.za or telephone (021) 465-5007

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FOCUS

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

9

Immersion in the Bible by roleplaying Studying the Bible can be a fullfilling experience. CLAIRE MATHIESON speaks to a coordinator of the Bibliolog course that helps followers understand the Bible through roleplay.

B

IBLE study can take on many forms and a new way of studying Scripture is gaining in popularity in Europe—and now in South Africa. Visiting South Africa, German spiritual author Andrea Schwarz said the Bibliolog method of Bible study is “mushrooming” across Europe. Bibliolog encourages role play to further understand the Bible, said Ms Schwarz who is the coordinator and trainer for Bibliolog in South Africa. She describes the new form of Bible study as a way to look at the Bible “as a participant”. “Bibliolog is a unique way of engaging with texts from the Holy Scripture. It resembles the Jewish ‘midrash’, and aims to invite participants to engage with the ‘white fire’, that is, the unwritten contents that are hidden in the actual text, also called ‘black fire’.” Ms Schwarz said Bible readers are usually familiar with the various scriptural narratives in the Bible, but what most people are lacking, she said, is the consideration of that which is not written. “Bibliolog encourages people to fill the gaps in between what is said and what is not said.” The course was initially developed by the North-American Jewish scholar Peter Pitzele. By 1999 the approach had made its way to Europe, where a network facilitates training and supervision. Ms Schwarz first brought the approach to South Africa in 2008. So far the movement has been particularly popular with a mature audience and with the youth who enjoy the freedom of self-interpretation and not being told what to think, Ms Schwarz said.

The most recent training took place during November in Mariannhill, KwaZuluNatal. “This training was a kind of a jubilee—it was already the tenth course which took place in South Africa, with 83 [participants] in total,” said Ms Schwarz. Among them was Bishop Pius Mlungisi Dlungwane of Mariannhill who wanted to experience a Bibliolog in an advanced form. Course trainees came from throughout South Africa, including Vryheid, Pietermaritzburg, Johannesburg and the area around Mariannhill. They were also from various backgrounds. Ms Schwarz said one of the benefits of Bibliolog was its accessibility. “Participants don’t need to be well studied or even be able to read. It can also be held anywhere.” However, she stressed the importance of official training. “Bibliolog looks simple, but is fairly complex to be taught.” The course leaders need to be officially trained and certified so as to conform to Catholic ethos. According to Ms Schwarz, Bibliolog is offered by a trained facilitator who sets the scene of a chosen biblical text. “At a specific point the leader invites members of the group to take on the role of a scriptural character and respond to prepared questions, thus tapping into the participants’ unique and spiritual reaction to said text.” The course is designed so that no set answers are expected, but all responses are considered “acceptable, welcomed and significant. It reinforces that the Bible has something to say to everybody, in whatever life situation they find themselves”. Bibliolog is aimed at encouraging participants to consider the Bible at a deeper level, thus enabling them to gain a new understanding of an old story by slowing it down to give different possibilities of understanding. The organisers have been particular about who can host a Bibliolog, stating the importance of proper training to ensure religious correctness. Anyone can attend a Bibliolog but only those officially trained and certified may host one.

November’s trainees are the country’s most recent graduates and are certified to host Bibliologs in their communities. Some of the participants will be using the adult catechism classes, some who are teachers were excited to incorporate Bibliolog into religious instruction in schools and the Sisters of the Precious Blood who attended will be using Bibliolog in their outreach. Until recently, Ms Schwarz was the only trainer of trainers in the country. Recently, Precious Blood Sister Ulrike Diekmann has started preparation as a South African trainer. Ms Schwarz described this development as “new and really exciting: there are Bibliolog trainers trained for South Africa who will be able to teach Bibliolog in 2011”. A second trainer in training is Pastor Georg Meyer, a Protestant minister of Durban. Ms Schwarz said this was another positive attribute of Bibliolog: it connects the different Christian confessions.

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hile the course has been offered in South Africa for only two years, there are already plans for the year ahead. An advanced training course is scheduled to take place in February, during which the “mother” of Bibliolog in Germany, Professor Uta Pohl-Patalong, will direct the workshop. Prof Pohl-Patalong developed and structured the course in Germany. The South African course follows that structure. Up until now, the majority of training has been done in KwaZulu-Natal. Following a large number of requests, Bibliolog training will be offered in several areas of Southern Africa. Meetings and strategies are planned with participants from different dioceses, institutions and organisations (also in Mozambique and Zimbabwe). The course is suitable for large and small groups including Bible sharing classes, confirmation classes and can even be incorporated into Mass and prayer services, Ms Schwarz said. The course continues to be reviewed and adjusted for the Southern African context making it a highly suitable option for alternative Bible study.

De La Salle Holy Cross College is a Catholic Independent Day school for girls and boys from Grade R to Grade 12 and committed to the ideals of a Gospel inspired education in the traditions of the Holy Cross and De La Salle Congregations.

APPLICATIONS ARE INVITED FOR THE POST OF

School Counsellor The incumbent will be expected to have ● the requisite academic and professional qualifications ● a strong commitment to the objectives and ethos of Catholic Christian education ● experience of leadership and management preferably in a Catholic educational environment ● a successful teaching record and involvement in extramural activities ● a high level of interpersonal and communicative skills ● a good understanding of current educational practice ● A SACE registration ● South African Citizenship The successful candidate will be responsible for the following: ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Individual counselling of learners Group therapy Family support Teaching certain Life Orientation topics Assisting teachers with Learner development Educational assessments and/or referrals Other duties that are specific to the school’s requirements

Applications should be addressed to the Principal and should include certified copies of all relevant qualifications as well as a motivation and names of two contactable references. Applications should reach the College on or before 15 December 2010, e-mailed to principal@dlsh.gp.school.za The College reserves the right not to proceed with filling the post. An application will not in itself entitle the applicant to an interview or appointment and failure to meet the requirements of the post will result in the applicants automatically disqualifying themselves for consideration. Faxed applications are not acceptable.

andrea Schwarz hands over a certificate to a successful graduate at the most recent Bibliolog training session. Certified participants will be able to incorporate the role-playing education method into conventional Bible study.

Candidates not contacted by 15 January 2011 should consider their application unsuccessful.


10

The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

PILGRIMAGE

The Christian exodus O

UR sojourn in the Judaean desert lasted all of a morning, all potential hardship alleviated by travelling in an airconditioned bus equipped with a fridge storing bottles of mineral water, sold on a trust system. Spare a thought for the pilgrims who preceded our generation of luxury coach travellers, suffering dehydration as they dodged hostile infidels. Many found their death in the wilderness through which the camel-haired John the Baptist walked, sustained only by locusts and wild honey. One such pilgrim was the great author Mark Twain, whose acerbic account of his 1867 journey of Europe and the Holy Land, Innocents Abroad, was my companion during September’s Southern Cross Passion pilgrimage. At one point in the narrative, Twain’s group of American travellers are crossing the desert. Although accompanied by Arab guards, they are alarmed when they spot what they believe to be a band of those marauding Bedouins of whom so much was talked about. Happily, these were no Bedouins, but just an advance squad of Arab guards. High on adrenaline, the men in the party discuss what they might have done in case of a Bedouin attack. One says that he was prepared to die while looking his attacker straight in the eye and fighting

Günther Simmermacher The Pilgrim’s Trek him, not yielding an inch. Another was going to seize the infidel’s bayonet and… Well, Twain refrains from giving us all the gory details. The next vanquisher was going to scalp his attackers. Finally, a man remains silent to the question. “His orbs gleamed with a deadly light, but his lips moved not,” Twain wrote. “Anxiety grew, and he was questioned. If he had got a Bedouin, what would he have done with him—shot him? He smiled a smile of grim contempt and shook his head. Would he have stabbed him? Another shake. Would he have quartered him— flayed him? More shakes. Oh! horror what would he have done?” “‘Eat him!’ Such was the awful sentence that thundered from his lips. What was grammar to a desperado like that?” No Bedouins ever attacked Twain’s party, nor had any of these desert nomads the intention of doing so. Arab guards would spread scare stories about supposed Bedouin robbers, and occasionally stage an attack, so as to compel travellers to engage their services.

Southern Cross pilgrim Colin Francis of Johannesburg with a Palestinian policeman in Bethlehem.

Our guide, George Stephan, had no cause to protect us from anything more perilous than pushy street vendors (in fact, it was a task your faithful correspondent discharged much of the time, with firmness and tact, so as not to cause altercations with the locals).

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eorge is a Palestinian Christian, member of a minority in the Holy Land that is suffering injustices from both militant Muslims and the state of Israel. As we began our pilgrimage, George had declared that he would not address matters of politics. He didn’t need to: in the Holy Land, the politics speak for themselves. In the West Bank we had seen cars with green numberplates which are not allowed to cross the border into Israel. The area is littered with Israeli checkpoints, usually near settlements which are being built in contravention of international law, on territory that is not Israel’s. The Israeli security barrier—a 650km long assembly of walls and fences—is built deep into West Bank territory, often cutting off farmer from land, worker from workplace, family from family. There are those who believe that the so-called security barrier in fact represents the borders which Israel will propose if and when there will be a peace settlement. It would represent a most brazen act of land theft. Our next destination illustrated the iniquitous nature of the security barrier. Bethlehem—the birthplace of Christ and traditionally a Christian city—is surrounded by a 8m high concrete wall (more than twice the height of the Berlin Wall), with prison-like watchtowers. Israel says the wall is necessary for its security. The total number of suicide bombers who came from Bethlehem: zero. Israelis call the wall the hafrada (separation) barrier; Palestinians call it jidar al-fasl al-unsuri—the racial segregation wall; or “apartheid wall”. The checkpoint is about as inviting as once were the border crossings to East Germany. Give or take the occasional instance of mild harassment, pilgrims have no problem getting out of Bethlehem. But whether residents may exit their city is at the arbitrary discretion of pimply Israeli soldiers. Some days they are allowed

Bethlehem street scene, with the 8m high wall in the background. in 1948, three quarters of Bethlehem’s population was Christian; today they make up just 20%. (Photos: Günther Simmermacher) through, after long queuing; other days they are not. As a consequence, many locals have lost their jobs in nearby East Jerusalem, because there is no guarantee that they can get to work. Bethlehem used to have a Christian majority, but no longer. The followers of Christ have emigrated. In 1948, they made up 75% of the population; now the figure stands at about 20%. In a 2006 poll, some 78% of Bethlehem’s Christians attributed emigration by their co-religionists to the Israeli travel restrictions. Indeed,our guide George had no need to talk about politics. It was all around us.

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e spent the night in Bethlehem, in the 5-star Jacir Palace Hotel. Built in 1910, it once was an opulent family residence, then a British-run prison and then a school. After supper, a small group of us went on the town for a cup of coffee, at an establishment that a charming CatholicPalestinian staffer at the hotel recommended as a popular local hangout. The 20-minute walk took us to the wall, with the watchtower looming over us. Around the corner we came to speak to a young Christian man, Elias, who was excited to learn that we were from South Africa. He had previously lived in Johannesburg. Like most young Palestinians in Bethlehem,

he would not have looked out of place in Jo’burg. He said he loves Bethlehem; as we looked at the nearby wall, it seemed redundant to ask him about politics. The people of Bethlehem are remarkably friendly. On our way, locals greeted us effusively. One man stopped his car, inviting us to take a lift with him, insisting that he was not going to charge us. Perhaps the fact that here were visitors who not only spent the night in their city, but also “dared” to walk in it at night was something of a welcome novelty. Still, nobody other than the attentive waiting staff took notice of us at the fashionable café. All patrons—since the place sold alcohol, presumably mostly Christians—had their eyes firmly fixed on the big screen which showed not some sporting event, but a flamboyantly acted TV drama. At the far end of the restaurant was a birthday party for a young woman, her pink birthday cake half-eaten. The party was silent, absorbed by the drama on the TV. There was utter normality in an abnormal condition. On our way back to the hotel, we came to the wall again. A structure of aggression that holds captive the people of the town in which the Prince of Peace was born… n This is the sixth part in Günther Simmermacher’s series on The Southern Cross’ Passion Pilgrimage in September.

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The Southern Cross, December 1 to December 7, 2010

Drug company greed puts kids at risk By RiTa FiTCh

Catholic schools, hospitals, medical Clinical evidence does not supassociations, media and parishes to port the practice of prescribing HE Catholic Church may be become informed and help children pharmaceutical drugs as a first the only organisation that can and families discover alternatives to response to behavioural or psychicounter the corporate greed psychiatric medications as well as atric issues, he said, not only fuelling the over-prescribing of help them have real input when disbecause of the drugs’ questionable harmful psychiatric drugs to chil- cussing the risks and benefits of long-term effectiveness, but also for dren and young people, according such medication. the risk of serious health conseDr Barry Duncan, a clinical psycholDr Duncan spoke on “The Ques- quences, dependence and disability. ogist and director of the US Heart tion of the Use of Psychiatric Phar“The belief in the power of and Soul of Change Project. maceuticals in Paediatrics” during chemistry over church, community, Flawed methodologies in the conference, and about his findresearch and a drastic minimisation ings in a separate meeting with Car- social and psychological process— of actual risks make the cited effi- dinal Ennio Antonelli, president of fuelled by unprecedented promociency and safety of these drugs the Pontifical Council for the Fami- tion from the drug industry that targets all players in health care— untrustworthy, he told a meeting of ly. forms the basis of pharmacology’s the Pontifical Council for Health He told the conference that the growing centrality in treatment, Care Ministry. United States leads the world in the Clinical trial evidence on psychi- number of psychiatric prescriptions research, training and practice.” “Children have no voice, and atric drugs is often skewed by con- to young people and that the trend they rely on adult judgments and flicts of interests, particularly when to resort to antipsychotics before or trials are funded by the drug indus- in lieu of social and behavioural decisions for their well-being.” Families, pastoral workers, paeditry or when the studies are conduct- therapy is on the rise in Europe. atricians and health professionals ed by people who are paid consulMost disturbing, he said, is that tants of the company under review, poor children are most likely to be “need access to accurate data—to Dr Duncan said. put on psychiatric drugs, and are the truth untainted by corporate influence,” Dr Duncan said.—CNS Because of the Church’s broad also “vulnerable networking capabilities and interna- to dangerous tional influence, it “may be the only drugs used as power on earth that can counter the interventions of forces of corporate greed that have control rather no moral or ethical conscience”. than therapy.” he DECEMBER—THE PRIZE, A GIFT He called on religious orders, said. Introduction: It is not only in sports that one wins prizes. St Paul speaks of life as a race with a prize at the end too. So while we look forward to the prize, the reward and the gift of eternal life, we are also entirows parish in Kensington ATHER Danilo and later in Heidelberg, tled to enjoy the game. Family life is potentially one of the most joyful games, if also one of the Simoni, Order of the Meyerton and Nigel. most difficult tasks in life but the prize and the gift Servants of Mary, Those who knew Fr of joy can be celebrated in a special way at Christpassed away November 9, Simoni, know the deep mastime. in Monte Berico Vicenza love he had for the Lord, Do we engage in sport just for winning a prize or aged 87. his devotion to the youth for the joy of it? What have you been doing to win Affectionately known and to bringing them the prize? as Br Di, he was born on closer to the Church. He Dec 1—World Aids Day—The issue of HIV/Aids October 23, 1923, and also had a special devohas been with us for some 20 years now, a whole was ordained a priest at St tion to Our Lady. generation of people. Have we taken it seriously John Lateran Basilica in Wherever Fr Simoni enough? Have we just been playing games? The Rome on December 17, was stationed, he set up prize to be coveted and won is the gift of life, a life 1949. He was buried at many young adult formafree from infection. What motivates and inspires us Follina, the town in tion and prayer groups to work for this? which he grew up. and for this he will always Dec 5—2nd Sunday of Advent—Baptism with the Before leaving South be remembered as a very Holy Spirit and fire. The Spirit of Jesus, a spirit of truth and integrity, of faithfulness and justice is a Africa, about 12 years ago, special and deeply loved gift and a sign of the presence of God’s kingdom. As he served most of his person who will be we play the game and prepare for Christmas, it is a years at Our Lady of Sor- missed. time to review whether these qualities are lived out in our lives. This is a good time to plan and organise a reconciliation service in preparation for Christmas, giving the family an opportunity for review and make peace with one another. To place your event, call Claire Allen at 021 465 5007

T

Family Reflections

Fr Danilo Simoni

F

Community Calendar

or e-mail c.allen@scross.co.za (publication subject to space)

BETHlEHEM: Shrine of our lady of Bethlehem at Tsheseng, Maluti mountains; Thursdays 09:30, Mass, then exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 058 721 0532

CaPE ToWn: holy hour to pray for priests of the diocese, 2nd Saturday monthly at Villa Maria shrine kloof nek Rd 16:00-17:00. adoration Chapel, Corpus Christi Church, Wynberg: Mon-Thurs 6am to 12pm; FriSun 6am to 8pm. adorers welcome 021-761 3337 St Pio holy hour. June 20 at 15:30 at holy Redeemer, Bergvliet. Good Shepherd, Bothasig. Perpetual Eucharistic adora-

tion in our chapel. all hours. all welcome.

JoHannESBURG: 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 First Saturday of each month rosary prayed 10:30-12:00 outside Marie Stopes abortion clinic, Peter Place, Bryanston. Joan Beyrooti, 782 4331

PREToRIa: First Saturday: Devotion to Divine Mercy. St Martin de Porres, Sunnyside, 16:30. Tel Shirley-anne 012 361 4545.

Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO #421. ACROSS: 1 Errand, 4 Nimbus, 8 Job's Comforter, 10 Insurer, 11 Allow, 12 After, 14 Yeast, 18 Offer, 19 Wassail, 21 University rag, 22 Treats, 23 Cradle. DOWN: 1 Enjoin, 2 Robes of office, 3 Nicer, 5 Isolate, 6 Battle-scarred, 7 Shrewd, 8 Emirs, 13 Earnest, 15 Robust, 16 Twist, 17 Plague, 20 Sitar.

liturgical Calendar Sundays year a, weekday cycle 1

Sun December 5, 2nd Sunday of Advent: Is 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13,17; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12 Mon December, 6th, St Nicolas: Is 35:1-10; Ps 85:9-14; Lk 5:17-26 Tues December, 6th, St Ambrose: Is 40:1-11; Ps 96:13,10,13; Mt 18:12-14 Wed December, 8th, Immaculate Conception: Gn 3:915,20; Ps 98:1-4; Eph 1:3-6, 11-12; Lk 1:26-38 Thur December 9th, St John Diego: Is 41:13-20; Ps 145:1, 9-13; Mt 11:11-15 Fri December 10th, St Melchiades: Is 48:17-19; Ps 1:1-4, 6; Mt 11:16-19 Sat December 11th, St Damascus: Sir 48:1-4, 9-11; Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; Mt 17:10-13 Sun December 12th, 3rd Sunday of Advent: Is 35:1-6, 10; Ps 146:6-10; Jas 5: 7-10; Mt 11:2-11;

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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 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. TB

answered. Ca.. o ST MaRTha, i resort to thee and to thy petition and faith, i offer up to thee this light which i shall burn every Tuesday for nine Tuesdays. Comfort me in all my difficulties through the great favour thou did’st enjoy thy Saviour lodge in thy house. i beseech thee to have definite pity in regard to the favour i ask (mention favour). intercede for my family that we may always be provided for in all our necessities. i ask thee St Martha to overcome the dragon which thou did cast at thy feet. RG.

THankS MY beloved Mother Mary, many thanks for yet again coming to my aid. you never failed me, and i love and honour you. Manfred THankS to the holy Spirit, our Blessed lady, St anthony and St Jude for always helping me when i’m in need. PVE. GRaTEfUl thanks to the Sacred heart of Jesus, our Mother Mary and SS Joseph, anthony, Jude and Martin de Porres for prayers answered. RCP.

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3rd Sunday of Advent—(Dec 12), Readings: Isaiah 35: 1-6, 10, Psalm 146:6-10, James 5:7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

W

ITHOUT vision, the people perish. Next Sunday we shall be a little over halfway through the time of Advent (or “Coming”), and the readings invite us to go deeper into the vision that animates us at this time of the year. The first reading is directed in the first place towards the Israelites in exile in Babylon, inviting them to think that God might be recalling them home to Jerusalem (so for them “Advent” was to mean “going back where we belong”); now to get back there they had to cross a little matter of several thousand miles of inhospitable desert, and into their anxiety the poet-prophet whispers the vision of that desert coming alive: “It will exult, and the wilderness shall rejoice and bloom.” That stark and barren territory is going to look like the loveliest parts of the land from which they had been taken, half a century earlier: “The glory of the Lebanon...the splendour of Carmel and Sharon”; but that, he reminds them, is really none other than “the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God”. Then the vision goes deeper, and we hear what else is to happen, for the ritually

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Visions through the readings Nicholas King SJ Sunday Reflections impure are to be made clean: “The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unblocked” (there is a pun in the Hebrew here that we cannot possibly put into English), “then the lame will leap like a deer, the tongue of the dumb shall exult”. Best of all: “The Lord’s ransomed ones shall return, and go into Zion singing.” There is great joy here. The psalm is one of the great Halleluiahs with which the book of Psalms comes to an end. The vision here is a grasp of who God is, the One “who keeps faith forever, who does justice for the oppressed, provides food for the hungry, the Lord who sets prisoners free, the Lord who gives sight to the blind...protects the immigrant, supports the orphan and the widow”. The God who is

thus envisioned is a very different God. In the second reading, the question is how Christians are to cope with the delay in Jesus’ (second) coming, which may be good for us in this Advent time. James uses the farming imagery that you might expect of a Galilee peasant, and insists that “the Coming of the Lord has drawn near...the Judge is standing at the gates”, and tells them to consider the example of the prophets; this too is a vision. The gospel for next Sunday reveals that for the moment John the Baptist has lost sight of the vision, not surprisingly for one whom Herod has imprisoned. So he has forgotten all about that dialogue that he had held, back in the third chapter of the gospel, with Jesus at the time when John baptised Jesus (when he was saying that it was Jesus who should be baptising him), and now he is asking: “Are you the Coming One, or are we to expect another one?” Jesus replies in terms of the Hebrew vision of our first reading and the psalm: “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor are gospelled.” In other

Discipline, then and now M ONSIGNOR Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) was a member of an illustrious group of Catholic writers in the first half of the 20th century. He died in his early 40s, so he did not become as well known as some of his more famous peers such as Mgr Ronald Knox, Hilaire Belloc or GK Chesterton. Like Ronald Knox, Benson was the son of an Anglican bishop, but in this instance he managed to go one better than Knox, because his father was the archbishop of Canterbury, Edward Benson. His autobiography, Confessions of a Convert, which was originally published as a series of articles between 1906-07 in the American Catholic magazine Ave Maria, details his gradual progress into the Catholic Church. He describes the overbearing influence his father had on him during his early years and how stifling this was. However, despite—or perhaps because—of this influence, he found that he was not particularly impressed by Anglicanism. Something that has always appealed to me about Mgr Benson was his view of moaners and complainers. He once said: “I think that the insane desire one has sometimes to bang and kick grumblers and peevish persons is a Divine instinct.” My sentiments exactly, especially when it comes to intolerant, oversensitive political correctness. Which leads me into this tongue-in-

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Chris Moerdyk

The last Word cheek but sobering comparison, sent to me by a reader, on the difference between schooldays in 1957 and those in 2010. Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fight after school. 1957: A crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends. 2010: The police are called and arrest Johnny and Mark. They charge them with assault and both are expelled, even though Johnny started it. Both children attend anger management programmes for three months. School governors hold a meeting to implement bullying prevention programmes Scenario: Robbie won’t be still in class and disrupts the other pupils. 1957: Robbie is sent to the office and given six of the best by the principal. He goes back to class, sits still and behaves himself. 2010: Robbie is given huge doses of Ritalin because his parents are too busy with their careers to really care too much. Robbie gets tested for all sorts of psychological and physiological prob-

lems and is sent to remedial classes, which he also disrupts when his Ritalin and various other medicines run low. His parents and school don’t understand why in later years he becomes a drug addict and starts killing people. Scenario: Billy accidentally breaks a window in his neighbour’s car and his dad gives him a hiding with his belt. 1957: Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman. 2010: Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school. 1957: Mark gets a glass of water from the principal and takes the aspirin. 2010: The police are called, Mark is expelled from school for drug taking. His desk is searched for drugs and weapons. Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover fireworks from Guy Fawkes night, puts them in a paint tin and blows up a wasps’ nest. 1957: Wasps die. 2010: Police and the Anti-Terrorism Squad are called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism and the authorities investigate his parents. Siblings are removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny’s dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to travel by air again. Scenario: Johnny falls while running during morning break and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary, who hugs him to comfort him. 1957: Johnny feels better and goes on playing. 2010: Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. These are slight exaggerations, I suppose, but it does make a point. As did something that happened only a few years ago when all pupils of a Catholic school in South Africa voted among themselves on whether corporal punishment should be re-instated in an effort to curb bullying and general lack of discipline. Just over 90% of the pupils voted in favour. When I was at school at CBC Pretoria around about 1957, my classmates were given the wrong end of a particularly nasty leather strap on our backsides when we stepped out of line. It irks me to see great countries such as Britain becoming such nanny states. And we in South Africa are not all that far behind.

words, the vision has come true: God is indeed in our land. And Jesus adds a tailpiece, aimed at John in his prison, but we shall do well to meditate on it ourselves: “Congratulations to those who are not made to stumble by me.” It does not stop there, however, for Jesus draws the lesson about John the Baptist: John, all are agreed, was God’s messenger, but he was out there in the inhospitable desert, not in a palace, nor wearing comfortable clothes, but simply being God’s messenger, “who is to prepare your way ahead of you”. The vision has another, slightly baffling, element to it. Firstly, John is praised: “Among those born of women no one has arisen who is greater than John the Baptist.” Then, secondly, he is put in his place: “But the one who is of least significance in the Kingdom of the Heavens is greater than John.” Let us this week, apply the vision of our readings to the Coming One who is, even now, knocking at the door.

Southern Crossword #421

ACROSS 1. Short journey of delivery (6) 4. Halo in a cloud (6) 8. His counsel did not help the patient man (4,9) 10. Agent covering risk to the church (7) 11. Give leave (5) 12. Later (5) 14. It's not in unleavened dough (5) 18. Present at the altar (5) 19. Odd laws as I know for Twelfth Night (7) 21. College students arrange it for fun (10,3) 22. The doctor does it at rest (6) 23. From here life goes to the grave (6)

DOWN 1. Instruct to bring together? (6) 2. Bishop wears them ceremonially (5,2,6) 3. More pleasant (5) 5. Place in quarantine (7) 6. After the war, how the soldiers were marked (6-7) 7. Astute, like the serpent in Eden (6) 8. Arab rulers (5) 13. Nearest to being serious (7) 15. Healthy and strong (6) 16. Turn to the dance (5) 17. One of ten inflicting old Egyptians (6) 20. Was it around, the Indian lute hidden inside? (5)

Due to popular request, the solutions for this weeks crossword will be published on the classifieds page (turn to page 11)

CHURCH CHUCKLE

A

FAMOUS grande-dame, after converting to Catholicism and gathering converts from field and hedgerow, decided she wanted an audience with the pope. When she had been in private audience with His Holiness for some time, the chamberlain became anxious and peeped in to see the lady talking animatedly to His Holiness. The pope could be seen, slumped in his chair, his head in his hands. Eventually the pope’s voice floated through to the chamberlain: “But madame—I must tell you that I already am a Catholic.” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, Po Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.

The Southern Cross - 101201  

1 December - 7 December 2010

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