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www.scross.co.za

April 4 to April 10, 2012

How the Church embraced Judaism

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Fr Rolheiser: Sometimes fear can be holy

The Editor and staff of The Southern Cross wish all readers, advertisers, Associates, supporters, contributors and friends a blessed Easter filled with the hope and joy of our Risen Lord.

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No 4770

Why Easter is still credible

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Tlhagale: Africa’s Church ‘a mirror for Europe’ BY CLAIRE MATHIESON

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A man prays next to a giant Easter egg outside St James church in Medjugorje, BosniaHerzegovina. Easter Sunday falls on April 8 this year. (Photo: Adam Tanner, Reuters/CNS)

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FRICA is a “mirror for Europe”, the archbishop of Johannesburg told a meeting of African and European bishops in Rome. The text of Archbishop Buti Tlhagale’s speech, titled “The African Contribution to the Church in Europe”, was released by the archdiocese of Johannesburg in late March. Archbishop Tlhagale said that due to the growth of Christianity on the continent, “Christian Africa is...the living yardstick of the successes of the evangelising mission of the European Church. The African Church offers the European Church a measure against which the latter can evaluate her missionary efforts during the past hundred years. Africa is the mirror against which Europe assesses her own commitment, generosity, perseverance, credibility and fidelity to missio ad gentes.” And now, he noted, the African Church is increasingly evangelising in Europe. “The African Church is being called upon by the European Church in her hour of need,” the archbishop told his audience. It was the missionaries from Europe who planted the seed of faith on the African soil and through their personal example, nurtured vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, he said and “today the African Church is being invited to cooperate with the European Church to reach out towards those who no longer practise their faith”. Noting that Africa’s Church still requires external aid, Archbishop Tlhagale stressed the need for self-sufficiency, “to become...a Church that drinks from her own wells”. “While acknowledging with gratitude the legendary generosity of the missionaries, the African Church is resolute to claim ownership of the Church and to become a dependable steward of the goods of the Church,” he said. The Church in Africa is also continuously working towards the goals of Africae Munus, Pope Benedict’s apostolic exhortation that followed the Synod of Bishops on Africa in 2010. These aims include an inner-purification, self-evangelisation and education in the faith. “The Church is also committed to selfpropagation as she harnesses vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. Posi-

tions of leadership, challenges notwithstanding, have by and large been assumed by indigenous clergy and indigenous religious,” Archbishop Tlhagale said. The archbishop attributed much of the continents spiritual growth to the “difficult but sterling work of the missionary societies in the areas of education, health, development and other social services which were enhanced by funding and the expertise offered by international non-governmental organisations”. These functions now have by and large been taken over by the national governments of the various African countries, he added. Archbishop Tlhagale said among the current goals of the African Church was the effort to widen and deepen faith by subscribing to an increase in the variety of devotions, spiritualities and liturgical forms. He said there was a need for both the European and African Church to complement each other’s partiality in order to become a genuinely Catholic family. “The African Church has been encouraged to preserve and develop her own traditions in consultation with the magisterium. It was the Synod Fathers themselves who considered inculturation an urgent priority in the life of the African Church.” However, the archbishop noted that the inculturation project had regrettably not taken off, “suggesting perhaps that it is not a priority after all”. Archbishop Tlhagale paid homage to the saints the continent had produced. “They give honour to the African Church. They point to an admirable level of Christian maturity in some parts of the continent. Not only are they a gift to the African Church, they are also a gift to the universal Church.” The archbishop called the continent’s saints “perhaps the greatest contribution of the African Church”, because they are evidence of a successful missionary endeavour. In spite of the failures and hardships encountered, they offer a paradigm for Christians that a life of virtue is indeed possible and desirable. Today both “the African and European Church can venerate and call upon the African saints as a source of grace from God just as they do with all the saints of the Church”, he said.

Chinese bishop, priest taken for brainwashing

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OADJUTOR Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, China, and his chancellor, Fr Paul Jiang Sunian, were taken into custody by government officials in midMarch to attend “learning classes”, sources told the Asian Church news agency UCA News. Bishop Shao, 49, was appointed by the Holy See to lead Wenzhou’s unregistered, or underground, Catholic community in 2007 and is not recognised by the government. If Bishop Shao and Fr Jiang are what the government calls “intelligent enough in their learning”, they will be allowed back soon; if not, they will be detained longer, local Church sources quoted government officials as saying.

“This implies their release depends on whether they accept the government’s religious policies,” one of the sources said. Sources also said a few of Wenzhou diocese’s 17 underground priests were summoned to meet with religious officials. Some were told to remain behind while others were allowed to return home the same day, the sources added. Though no official reasons have been given, the sources said they suspect the recent events may be linked to the secret episcopal ordination in Tianshui diocese in Gansu province last year. Government officials are investigating who was involved in the ordination, they said. In January, Bishop John Wang Ruowang of Tianshui was taken away for “learning

classes” at an undisclosed location. A Church observer, who asked not to be named, said China’s religious policy is “moving backward”. The spate of detentions of underground clergy since last fall was the result of a conscious government decision, he noted. Patrick Poon, a member of Hong Kong’s diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, said that Catholic priests and other church workers were especially vulnerable to detention without charge under new revisions to China’s Criminal Procedure Law. “Police tend to confine them in detention centres, guesthouses or force them to take the so-called learning class for a prolonged period of time without giving any reason,” he said.—CNS

A worker arranges flowers in a church in Kunming, China. Lately underground clergy in China have been detained for “learning classes”. (Photo: Reuters/CNS)


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LOCAL

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

Home for pregnant girls opens in Brakpan BY CLAIRE MATHIESON

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Robina Rafferty, chair of the London-based Denis Hurley Association, presents a cheque for R100 000 to Cardinal Wilfrid Napier for the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban. Among the patrons of the Hurley Association are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster and Bishop David Konstant, retired of Leeds. (Photo: Kudzai Taruona.)

NEW home for pregnant teenagers will soon serve the Brakpan community in the archdiocese of Johannesburg. Communications coordinator Kim George of the Culture of Life Apostolate (CoLA) said that the Divine Mercy House will provide a realistic alternative for teenage mothers experiencing a pregnancy crisis. “In our home, they will be able to have their babies in a safe and caring environment. We will then also assist them in offering the baby for adoption should they so wish”. Ms George said the establishment of the Culture of Life Apostolate follows a request from Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg to assist him in addressing the culture of abortion practically.

“The pregnancy crisis homes are that practical solution and, together with our education programme, we hope to save some of the unborn children who would otherwise fall victim to abortion,” she said. CoLA plans to open a second home on the West Rand in Mogale City later in the year which will focus on the needs of older pregnant women, while Divine Mercy House in Brakpan will exclusively serve teenagers in crisis. “Divine Mercy House will be a safe haven for young women faced with an unplanned pregnancy and its concomitant difficulties and consequences,” Ms George added. Ms George said the home will offer pre- and post-birth counselling, guide and support to the girls and help “them in decisions they make for their futures”.

She added the home will also provide skills-training while the pregnant mothers are in the homes to better equip them once their babies are born and they move on to second phase housing. “In essence, we want to restore their dignity as human beings and empower them to become independent and self sufficient individuals.” The Sisters of Charity will be responsible for the running of both the homes. Ms George said the homes are hoped to eventually be able to employ permanent staff, but the CoLA is currently appealing to the Brakpan community at large to get involved. n For more information about the new home in Brakpan contact Kim George on 072 091 9040 or 082 295 9896.

Fête brings benefactors and residents together STAFF REPORTER

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ITTLE Eden, the Johannesburg based home for intellectually disabled children, held their annual fête to raise funds for the home’s biggest fundraising event of the year. “Our fête was a success with a good turnout and the visitors were great sports in dressing up for the theme ‘Little Italy’—there was

white, red and green everywhere. Some even showed up in their Italian soccer gear—ready to fit right into the day's theme and activities,” said Hanneli Esterhuysen, the home’s publicist. This year’s theme was chosen in honour of Little Eden’s late founder, Italian born Domitilla Rota-Hyams, who established the home when she saw the great need for the support and therapy of

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intellectually disabled children and their families in the Edenvale area. Mrs Rota-Hyams was also the home’s longest-serving volunteer until she died in January 2011. Ms Esterhuysen said the day was an opportunity for the home’s friends and benefactors to spend time with the children and their families. She said it was also an opportunity to say thank you for all the donations, time and effort from each person who helped in some way to make the day posNOAH OLD sible. AGE HOMES “It is also a communiWe can use your old ty event as people have clothing, bric-a-brac, been coming to it for furniture and books for over 40 years and everyour shop which is one knows about it.” opening soon. She said not everyone Help us to create an is able to look beyond avenue to generate much many of the residents’ needed funds for our work profound disabilities and with the elderly. distorted speech, and to Contact Ian Veary on 021 connect with the person 447 6334 inside. www.noah.org.za These people are important she said, and

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Gontse, a Little Eden resident, enjoys the home’s annual fête. the home relies on their volunteers, but also on donations. Ms Esterhuysen said one can support the home in any way— getting physically involved or by making a donation but beyond the contribution, “what you're actually

giving these children is respect,” something they don’t always get. Ms Esterhuysen said the day was an opportunity for all involved in the home to have fun but also show the residents how respected they were.

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LOCAL

New young leadership for Dominican order BY CLAIRE MATHIESON

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EW leadership has been appointed for the Dominican order in South Africa as the provincial chapter elected Fr Sikhosiphi Mgoza OP as provincial superior for the next four years. The election took place at the La Verna retreat centre on the Vaal dam where discussions concentrated on the state of the order in Southern Africa and on the study, community life, formation, apostolate, government and finances of the Southern African vicariate, said Fr Emil Blaser OP. “This time of reflection concluded with a joyous day of celebration in which three young men were clothed in the habit of the order as sign of their entry into the novitiate. These were Brs Wilbroad Mulenga, Evans Zulu and Mbongiseni Nyathi. Brs Neil Mitchell, Godfrey Chikaura, Kelvin Banda and Isaac Mutelo made their first vows, pledging their lives to God, the order and the Church for three years,” Fr Blaser said. The master of the Order of Preachers, Br Bruno Cadore, then confirmed the election. “The elected vicar-general, Fr Sikhosiphi Mgoza, then made his profession of faith before the brothers assembled at the chapter. Assisting him are the core leadership group, known as diffinitors, brothers Stan Muyebe, Thomas Chuma, Lewis Tsuro and Brian Ndabaningi Mhlanga.” Fr Blaser said the election was a great moment in the life of the

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

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SA Redemptorists celebrate 100 years BY SEAN WALES CSsR

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Dominican Father Sikhosiphi Mgoza takes the lead as provincial superior of the order for the next four years. order in Southern Africa. “The torch of the vibrant proclamation of the Gospel in ever new ways, kindled by St Dominic 800 years ago, has been handed to a leadership consisting of ‘millennial Dominicans’, ordained or professed from the year 2000 until now”. The new leadership have taken the theme “new wine in new wineskins” as part of their discernment for the chapter. “The church in Southern Africa is now blessed with a vibrant young Dominican leadership, a sign of hope and expectation for us all,” said Fr Blaser.

HE superior general of the worldwide Redemptorist Congregation, Fr Michael Brehl, visited his confreres in Cape Town for the first of a number of events celebrating this year’s centenary of the arrival of the first Redemptorists in South Africa. ln 1912, responding to a request of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, the superior general of the time sent from England the first three Redemptorists: Frs Creagh, Burke and Kirk. The newly-arrived priests established The Monastery in Pretoria, and then commenced the work dreamed of by the order’s founder, St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), of himself working for the evangelisation of the people of the Cape of Good Hope and beyond. In South Africa Redemptorists today comprise 26 members, including Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, living in six communities around the country. The provincial superior in South Africa, Fr Larry Kaufmann, said he would like to see the centenary celebration as a “pastoral” one. He has offered every parish formerly run by the Redemptorists to have a preached Triduum, “so as to celebrate our centenary by doing what we like doing best: preaching”. These parishes include Silverton and Eersterust in Pretoria, Vereeniging, Port Shepstone,

Fr Michael Brehl, superior general of the Redemptorist Fathers, concelebrates a jubilee Mass at St Mary’s church in Retreat, Cape Town, with Redemptorist Fathers Larry Kaufmann, Juventius Andrade, Anthony Padua and Fr Wandile Dingiswayo. and Grassy Park and Steenberg in Cape Town, as well as the entire Rustenburg diocese. Fr Brehl presided over a Mass at St Mary’s church in Retreat, Cape Town, to launch the centenary celebrations. Another solemn Mass is planned when all Redemptorists in South Africa will gather at the

Monastery church in Bergvliet, Cape Town, on the Sunday after Easter. That Mass will be presided over by Archbishop Joseph Tobin, former Redemptorist superior general and now secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.


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The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

INTERNATIONAL

In Mexico, Cuba pope linked social change to faith revival BY FRANCIS X ROCCA

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ISITING Latin America for the second time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict offered a message of hope for social progress rooted in a revival of Catholic faith. The overriding message of the pope’s public statements during his three days in Mexico was that this troubled country, and the region in general, cannot solve their problems—which include poverty, inequality, corruption and violence—by following the prescriptions of secular ideologies. Instead, the pope said, peace and justice in this world require a divinely inspired change in the human heart. “When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us,” the pope said in his homily during an outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park. “We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author.” Echoing his earlier critiques of liberation theology, a Marxist-influenced movement that found prominent supporters among Latin American Catholics during the 1970s and ’80s, Pope Benedict told reporters accompanying him on the plane from Rome that the “Church is not a political power, it is not a party...it is a moral reality, a moral power”. Yet the pope made it clear that he was not encouraging believers to withdraw into a private kind of piety uninvolved with worldly affairs. “The first job of the Church is to

educate consciences, both in individual ethics and public ethics.” Christian hope, the pope told an audience that included Mexican President Felipe Calderon, does not merely console the faithful with the promise of personal immortality. The theological virtue of hope inspires Catholics to “transform the present structures and events that are less than satisfactory and seem immovable or insurmountable, while also helping those who do not see meaning or a future in life”. The practical expression of this inspiration, the pope said, is the Church’s extensive charitable activities, which help “those who suffer from hunger, lack shelter, or are in need in some way in their life”.

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hat point seemed particularly relevant to the second half of Pope Benedict’s Latin America visit, to Cuba, where he was to mark the 400th anniversary of the country’s Virgin of Charity of El Cobre. Catholic charities in Cuba have become notably active in recent years, sometimes in cooperation with agencies of the state. After half a century of communist government and decades of official atheism there, Pope Benedict could hardly find more powerful evidence for the inadequacy of secular solutions than the Church’s growing role in caring for Cuba’s poor. Celebrating an outdoor Mass on his first day in Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the struggles of the country’s Catholics after half a century of communism and described human freedom as a necessity for both salvation and social justice.

Addressing a crowd of 200 000, including Cuban President Raul Castro, at the papal Mass in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba, the pope described human freedom as a necessity for both salvation and social justice. Though now more tolerant of religious practice than in earlier decades, the communist state continues to prevent the construction of new churches and strictly limits Catholic access to state media. In a possible allusion to reports that the regime had prevented political opponents from attending the Mass, Pope Benedict extended his customary mention of those absent for reasons of age or health to include people who, “for other motives, are not able to join us.” The pope painted a dire picture of a society without faith. “When God is set aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man,” he said. “Apart from God, we are alienated from ourselves and are hurled into the void.” Despite his challenges to Cuban society, Pope Benedict concluded his homily by repeating an earlier call for patience with the Catholic Church’s policy of dialogue and cooperation with the communist regime, a process initiated by Blessed John Paul II during his 1998 visit to Cuba. “May we accept with patience and faith whatever opposition may come,” the pope said. “Armed with peace, forgiveness and understanding ... strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity, and which better reflects the goodness of God.”—CNS

Pope Benedict wears a sombrero as he rides through the crowd in the popemobile before celebrating Mass in Silao, Mexico. (Photo: Tomas Bravo, Reuters/CNS)

Pope Benedict arrives in the popemobile at Antonio Maceo Revolution Square in Santiago de Cuba for an outdoor papal Mass. (Right) A young man waves Cuba’s flag before the papal Mass. (Photos: Paul Haring, CNS)

The faithful came from afar to see the pope in Mexico and Cuba BY FRANCIS X ROCCA

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PEAKING in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, which was a stronghold of the 1920s Cristero Rebellion against an anti-clerical national regime, Pope Benedict recited the invocation that served as the Cristeros’ rallying cry: “Long live Christ the King and Mary of Guadalupe.” But reaffirming his message of

nonviolence, the pope prayed that Mary’s influence would “promote fraternity, setting aside futile acts of revenge and banishing all divisive hatred.” The Vatican said 640 000 people attended the Mass. Some Mexicans took long trips just to see Pope Benedict on his first trip to the country since being elected in 2005. An army of vendors hawked

water, coffee and tamales along the route in addition to Vatican flags and photos of Pope Benedict and his predecessor, Bl John Paul II, who, with his five visits, became one of the most beloved figures in an officially secular country. In Cuba, many wore white Tshirts welcoming the pope as the “pilgrim of charity”—the Cuba leg was dedicated to Our Lady of Char-

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ity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patroness. A 30-year-old woman in a baseball cap who identified herself only as Xichel said she and about 100 others travelled some 250km from Camaguey. “I came to see the pope because I am Catholic and he is the successor of Peter, who was the first pope,” she said, adding that she saw Bl John Paul II in Camaguey in 1998. But not everything was devout

at the Santiago de Cuba Mass. After the first reading, hundreds of people began leaving the Mass. Unlike large-scale papal Masses in other cities, this one had no Jumbotron screens and, to many, the pope looked like a small figure on the distant altar. Many who had been praying and singing seemed not to focus on the homily and began chatting or moving about.— CNS


INTERNATIONAL

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

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Stem-cell research debate ‘rests on human values’ BY ANDY TELLI

the embryo has. And there are only a few ways of thinking about this, with most of them coming out in favour of the embryo having full human rights.” Abortion touches the debate over embryonic stem-cell research because many ask how society can object to the destruction of an embryo for research if it already allows parents to destroy embryos because they don’t want them, she explained. “Many people want to reduce the debate to the obligation to relieve human suffering,” Dr Condic said. That pits the human zygote against the human patient. “The human patient always wins.” But, Dr Condic said, “you do not have to check your obligation to relieve human suffering to oppose embryonic stem-cell research.” Embryonic stem-cell research still faces difficult problems, Dr Condic said. Embryonic stem cells are unstable and often convert to cancer cells, she said. Embryonic stem cells frequently become lethal tumours and they are “foreign” tissue that when

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HE ethics of embryonic stem-cell research can’t be discussed in isolation, according to Dr Maureen Condic, a neurobiology researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine and a senior fellow at the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person. The discussion touches on the value of human life and intersects with the issue of abortion, said Dr Condic in an address to law students on the ethics of embryonic stem-cell research in Nashville, Tennessee. US law is based on the idea that all humans have intrinsic value, she said, but many people in modern society believe humans accrue value gradually as they develop and become more easily recognisable as a human being. “The value of human beings becomes negotiable,” Dr Condic said. “If the debate can be turned away from the false notion that we don’t know whether an embryo is a human being—we do—then I think we could talk more freely about what ‘value’

A biological manufacturing analyst holds a cryovial inside the “clean room” in a Florida facility. In an address, an expert on stem-cell research pointed out the dangers of embryonic stem cells against the alternative of adult stem cells. (Photo: Tim Boyles, Catholic Health Association) introduced into the body are attacked by the immune system. To avoid rejection, scientists would have to create personalised stem cells through cloning, Dr

Condic said. To cure only one disease, Parkinson’s, between 60 million and 1,7 billion eggs would have to be harvested to make enough

Dutch Church shocked by castration claims BY JONATHAN LUXMOORE

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HE Dutch Church has pledged to fully cooperate with investigations into reported claims that Catholic institutions castrated boys and young men in their care to rid them of homosexuality. Bert Elbertse, spokesman for the Dutch Catholic bishops’ conference, said the bishops found the reports “shocking and appalling” and that they “condemn and regret such practices in the strongest possible terms”. “Our church has been badly damaged by accusations of sexual abuse. The fact that people were unsurprised by these latest claims suggests our image couldn’t get any worse,” he said. Mr Elbertse’s comments followed a report by the NRC

Handelsblad daily that as many as 11 boys were castrated at church-run schools and psychiatric institutions in the 1950s after being suspected of homosexuality. “We knew there were castrations in the 1950s and 1960s, but we didn’t know the Church had any connection,” Mr Elbertse said. “Although the initial public reactions to this newspaper report were very negative, many people are now asking whether the use of castration had more to do with health care at the time than with the Church.” Security and Justice minister Ivo Opstelten described the castration claims as “very serious and shocking”, and said he would investigate the role of the

Netherlands government at the time. Dutch elected officials have demanded a new investigation into the claims by the Rotterdam-based newspaper, which said castration also was used on boys as a punishment for reporting abuse by Catholic staffers at the institutions. Guid Klabbers, chairman of a Dutch association of clerical abuse victims, questioned the commission’s response and suggested it had failed to uncover all abuses. “We’ve had many grave rape cases, but this is even worse. It’s a case of extreme abuse of power and perverse pleasure in wielding power,” Mr Klabbers told Radio Netherlands Worldwide.—CNS

patient-matched stem cells through cloning, she added. Harvesting human eggs can be a painful process that can lead to ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, which can require hospitalisation and can result in infertility and, in extreme cases, death, Dr Condic said. “Why are we entering into a field of research with such catastrophic consequences for women’s health?” Research using stem cells harvested from adult humans offers the most potential for treating humans in the short term, Dr Condic said. Society has a moral obligation to spend limited public funds in the most promising areas of research, Dr Condic said. But money spent on embryonic stemcell research can’t be used for other areas of research that are more promising, she said. “The culture of science is hard to change,” Dr Condic said. “I keep talking and providing incontrovertible evidence, but in the end, scientists are just as free as anyone else to have unconsidered and unfounded opinions.”— CNS

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US Christians protest for religious freedom

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OME 55 000 people gathered in front of US courthouses, state capitols and historic sites to support religious freedom and protest a federal mandate they say violates that freedom by requiring most religious employers to provide no-cost contraceptive coverage even it is contrary to their beliefs. All of the events in 143 cities were part of a “Stand Up for

Religious Freedom” rally organised by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a ProLife Society. In Washington, a rally was held in front of the Washington headquarters of the US Department of Health and Human Services. The Rev Patrick Mahoney, a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church who is director of the Christian Defense Coali-

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tion, opened it with a prayer. “We are here not with clenched fists but in humility before God,” he said, urging the crowd of about 2 000 to kneel on the paved area in front of the building. “We are here because the faith community cannot be silent when it comes to human rights and we will never comply with an unjust order that violates our faith.”—CNS

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6

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Editor: Günther Simmermacher

Guest editorial by Sr Alison Munro OP

Alleluia, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead

‘A

nd there, coming to meet them was Jesus. ‘Greetings,’ he said. And the women came up to him and falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers and sisters that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there’” (Mt 28: 9-11). At Easter we celebrate with great joy God’s immense love for humankind. The God who became human as a tiny helpless baby is the same Jesus who died a shameful death on the cross, and who rose on the third day. Because he lives, the first born from the dead, we live. Death has been conquered and has no power over us because Jesus has shown us the way to live, the way to his Father. Reading the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, we are struck by the juxtaposition of fear and a lack of understanding on the part of the disciples on the one hand, and on the other of the sheer joy of their recognising that Jesus, who had died, has indeed risen. Our lives too so often reflect this same contradiction when we fail to understand and embrace our calling as Christians, the invitation to a sharing in the paschal mystery, a sharing in the passion and the resurrection of Jesus. The mission of the risen Jesus and his disciples, and we are his disciples now, extends from Galilee to the ends of the world. We are called to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and to be a sign of contradiction in world torn apart by war and violence, by greed and corruption, by gender inequities, sexism and racism, by poverty and joblessness, by threats to the sustainability of our pIanet.

The debates about the Big Bang theory and the origins of life on Earth make us stand still in awe at the immensity of the universes of which we are part, and at our insignificance in the grand scheme of creation. When the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope is built, possibly in South Africa, scientists hope to be able to understand ever more of the history of the universe and its origins. And yet, because ultimately we are those whose life on earth Jesus shared and for whom he died, like Paul, all we as Christians want “is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death” (Phil 3: 10). Our faith tells us it is not we who live, but Christ who lives in us, the same Christ who will die no more. If there is no resurrection, Christ has died in vain. Like the disciples to whom Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus we recognise Jesus in the breaking of the bread every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Through our own faithful witness to our faith in the power of God to conquer death and to bring all who believe to eternal life, the work of salvation continues. “God raised him on high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, and on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2 911). Lord, we believe that you are risen, that you live in us, and that you call us continue your mission on earth. Grant us the grace to respond with courage and generosity.

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.

The children aren’t to blame LEBANA WA Majahe of Johan- cipline, the Christian example that M nesburg (March 14) refers to was set, and the religious freedom the state of our Catholic schools. I he had in practising his own. would like to agree and disagree with the opinion stated in the letter. Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me and do not stop them; because it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Mt 19:14). Jesus welcomed all children and did not discriminate against any of them. We should follow his example. Policy states that no child should be turned away or discriminated against at schools for any reason, be it cultural, social, religious or racial. My Muslim dentist attended St Joseph’s Marist College in Cape Town and speaks fondly of his time spent there. He quoted the high dis-

Worrying concerns

I

AM sorry that Mlebana wa Majahe’s recent experience of Catholic schooling (March 14) did not live up to expectations. The concerns the letter expresses are worrying as we do see religious education as a central dimension of the identity of Catholic education. Over the last 26 years, we have strived to develop religious education in our schools. Through “signs of God’s presence” and other approaches schools reflect on their Catholic identity and address any shortcomings. Mark Potterton, Director: Catholic Institute of Education, Johannesburg

Crisis in DRC

T

HE current post-election crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is complex. Although this crisis sucked in our cardinal and a few politically strongly opinionated priests in the capital city of Kinshasa, it is far from being a crisis involving the government and Catholics, as your article “Politics behind Jo’burg murder of cardinal’s nephew?” (March 14) suggests through generalisations. The murder of a young innocent Congolese man in Johannesburg sent shock waves through the entire Congolese community, irrespective of his relationship to the cardinal. To report on rumours or speculations from a single source, trying to link this murder to the crisis in the DRC while the law enforcement authorities in South Africa have not yet concluded their investigations, is wrong. Politics in the DRC has divided communities along regional, ethnic and tribal lines. There was, and there is still, a potential danger that these divisions will creep into the Church.

One can never ever lay blame of the state of our Catholic schools at the feet of little innocent children. These children were put under the care and guidance of adults and they only act upon the consistant boundaries and examples that these adults set. It is unfortunate and sad that not many of our teachers and those on the management teams and governing bodies at schools are Catholics. I am a teacher and have been trying unsuccessfully for many years to be employed at one of our Catholic schools in Cape Town. I often wonder why not because I have so much to offer. I am highly qualified and experienced, and I am currently

Rumours and baseless speculations are rife in some sections of the Congolese community. Publishing these as news does not contribute to building the unity that is so much needed in our community at present. Jean-Claude Ilunga, Johannesburg

No new readings?

I

REFER to the letter by Fr Wojciech Szypula and Sr Judy Coyle (March 21) which I found very interesting. I am however of the opinion that it may actually not happen after all. The Catholic Truth Society in England published their 3rd editions of the Sunday and Weekday missals last year. The books are beautifully presented and the Mass parts are as per the new translation; however the readings are exactly the same as in the 2nd editions. I wrote to them and enquired why they had not been changed, and they responded that they were a number of years away from changing the translations of the readings. I then wrote to the United States Catholic Bishop’s Conference’s Department of Liturgy and they also confirmed that although they have also published the 3rd edition of their missal, their readings are also the same as before and that they are also a number of years away from changing them. One wonders if they ever will change and I wonder why we in South Africa have been so quick to 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.

studying my master in education. Another reason for the state of our Catholic schools is the constant change in the system of education, the high volume of administration and amount of work for teachers, lack of good resource materials and the fact that relgious education was taken out of our schools. I know that our Catholic schools still keep the distinct character of our Catholic ethos, but how is this implemented by non-Catholic teachers? I have heard of nonCatholic teachers at a certain Catholic school in Cape Town taking down the crucifixes! As a Church we should support our Catholic schools and pray that God will send the right people to continue and extend our Catholic faith and the Gospel values of Jesus Christ in our schools. Charmaine Reynolds, Cape Town institute the change. Are these readings in fact going to be changed? Publication of our 3rd edition was promised in July 2011 and then by the start of Lent in 2012 and have still not been forthcoming. Have we perhaps been too ambitious with something we actually can’t deliver or are not going to deliver? Rob Herring, Weltevredenpark

Life is sacred

H

UMAN life is a gift that comes from God. It is a sacred trust which must be presented in all stages of existence, from the moment of conception in the mother’s womb to the grave. Murder and abortion therefore are serious crimes because we are not the giver nor the author of life. There is no justification in taking other’s lives if you are not the author of that life. God’s fifth commandment, “You shall not kill” (Ex 20:20), must be received with gratitude, love, and temperance for it serves to protect human life. Nowdays, murder and abortion is a daily business, at every hour and every second. Securalisation, the need for unnecessary pleasure (such as pre-marital sex, which often leads to abortion), and the need for money and luxuries (which often leads to the death of innocent people) have become the centre of today’s life. But God says: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed. For God made man in his own image.” I call on all people who go for abortion and murder to reflect upon their lives: if someone had done the same with their life, what would their story be today? As Cardinal Humbert Medeiros said: “God is the giver and the sustainer and taker of life.” Emmanuel Mphatso Suntheni OSB, Inkamana Abbey, Vryheid


PERSPECTIVES

How the Church embraced Judaism

P

REJUDICES—such as racism, sexism and homophobia, to name but three—die hard, not least those that seem to have religious approval. Sometimes shameful experience combines with courageous visionaries to jolt us out of complacency and force us to think again. For Catholics this was the case with anti-Semitism. The murder of six million Jews by the Nazis was the shameful experience. Though there were notable exceptions, European Christians mainly turned a blind eye to murder. Jewish and Christian historians like Daniel Goldhagen and James Carroll have documented this—and see in such complicity centuries of Christian anti-Semitic attitudes based upon a twisted misreading of Scripture, reference to the “perfidious Jews” in liturgy (including the Easter services), popular legends depicting Jews as sacrificing Christian babies (the “blood libel”) and stereotypes of Jews as usurers in literature. A superficial reading of the Gospels— particularly John and Matthew—can create this impression, unless one remembers that the authors are themselves Jews (who see Jesus as the Messiah) engaged in a theological dispute with first-century Jewish scholars who regarded the Christian position as unorthodox. Moreover, as contemporary scholars agree, the real “Christ killers” were the Romans and their puppet rulers in Palestine—who unfortunately remained the authorities under whom the early Christians had to live.

The lesson in all this: It is much easier to blame a small minority than the guys with all the weapons. Sadly this (morally dubious) pragmatism became popular dogma. Over the centuries dogma became public policy, with Jews suffering discrimination and even persecution at the hands of many Christian European rulers. Nazism, one might say, merely took Christian prejudice to its brutal, illogical conclusion. Thankfully, there were Christians of heroic conscience who rejected such a line. Even under Nazism, thousands of Christians risked their lives to rescue Jews. At the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem they are commemorated as the “Righteous Gentiles”. Among them is stout Italian peasant, a Vatican diplomat to Turkey during World War II who helped rescue thousands of Jews: today we call him Blessed John XXIII, pope of Vatican II. (And let us not forget that his great critic, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, who opposed most of what John desired at the Council, was another anti-fascist who helped Italian Jews during the war). Together with Cardinal Augustin Bea and others, Pope John wanted a radical change of attitudes of Catholics towards Jews. The opportunity came at the Second Vatican Council in the document Nostra Aetate (1965), on non-Christian religions. In the context of declaring that truth could be found in all great religions, that Christians in some way can see in other faiths Christ’s presence, the Catholic Church formally condemned Christian

Rabbi Michael Melchior looks on as Pope John Paul II prays at the Western Wall, the holy site of Judaism, in Jerusalem on March 26, 2000. Since Vatican II, relations between Judaism and Catholicism have improved dramatically.

Anthony Egan SJ

A Church of Hope and Joy

anti-Semitism. While some wanted a separate decree on Judaism and Christian-Jewish relations, many bishops felt that such a text would be a bad idea. It would be read by Muslims as an endorsement of the State of Israel, and could stir up Muslim hostility to Christians. Then as now, it was difficult in many minds to distinguish Judaism (the faith) from Zionism (a secular political ideology), being Jewish from being an Israeli. What Nostra Aetate did do, however, was to condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms. The Jews as a people or nation, it stated, were not guilty of Christ’s murder. A proper reading of Scripture showed moreover the immense debt the Christian faith had to its elder sibling. Today Christian and Jewish scholars study the whole Bible together—and Jewish New Testament scholars help us see the distinctive Jewishness of Jesus and his disciples! In this they help us carry out that other great injunction of Vatican II: to get back to a deeper knowledge of Scripture. All the classic slanders and blood libels were rejected as nonsense too. They had contributed to persecutions in which the Church had been complicit, if not actively pursuing, for centuries. Such attitudes and behaviour had to stop. Most dramatically, the Council saw to it that anti-Semitic references and prayers for the conversion of the Jews were removed from all liturgical texts. Even when and where Tridentine liturgy is used today, it is not supposed to include sections that contain prejudiced and racist references to Jews or Judaism. To those who see the Church as unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, the implicit acceptance that we had been wrong and had sinned may seem unbearable and unbelievable. Could the Church really have erred? For me, the answer is obvious: Yes, we erred terribly. Yet, we should note too that not all Christians erred all the time. There were Christians—a minority no doubt caught between an indifferent, complacent majority and the ideologues—who rejected prejudice, who were ashamed of anti-Jewish persecutions and who tried to resist it. In this we can say that the Jew of Nazareth, our Risen Lord, preserved his Church from falling into error.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son

A

N online friend, let’s call him Joseph, clarified the nature of the God of Catholics when he commented that God is not in the genre of being. In the words of St Thomas Aquinas, God is “ipsum esse subsistens”, the very act of “to-be” itself. A being has in itself potentiality and cannot initiate its own movement (for example, the Big Bang requires a Banger), but has to be moved; in causality then God becomes the first cause. Human “beings”, and indeed all things in the genre of “being”, participate in “being” in a limited way. My friend Joseph quoted Etienne Gilson who said that “our intellect can only grasp that which has a quiddity [the essence of an object, literally its “whatness”] participating in being. But the quiddity of God is being itself.” Thus God transcends the intellect. God’s essence is intellect (ipsum intelligere), and in God also to-be and act are the very essence of existence . We said we believe in God who created heavens and earth, and in his only begotten son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is clear about the fact that Jesus Christ is a mystery that cannot be disassociated with the Mystery of God. The Church’s tradition, though accepting this, still does its best to soften the mystery in our eager minds; after all to be alive is to be in the drive for Life and Christ is Life. The early doctrine of Christianity is mostly written by Saul who changed his

name to Paul after an encounter with the risen Christ. What is most striking in St Paul’s teaching is the assertion that Life is Christ (Phil 1:21). Vatican II’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes is consistent with St Paul: “Christ is himself the cause of the justice and peace we seek. He is the author of peace, the Prince of Peace reconciling all people with God (78). In Christ can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of humanity and of all human history (10); he is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilisation, the centre of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings (45). Only in Christ can the human mystery take on light (22). He entered the world's history as a perfect human, taking that history up into himself and summarising it (38).” In short, Christ is not only just goodness but the very Life by which all exist.

T

he geopaleontologist Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin tried to put this assertion in a language the evolutionist might understand. He tried to reconcile the hypothesis of evolution with faith by claiming that species (including our own) evolve throughout geological time. He argues that a personal God is the divine Centre of an on going evolving creation (in sharp contrast to viewing the entire universe as a completed event that happened only about 6 000 years ago) For Teilhard, the ongoing evolution of our species is moving toward an Omega

Mphuthumi Ntabeni

Reflection on the Apostles Creed – Pt 3

point as the end-goal or divine destiny of human evolution on this planet. He maintains that God-Omega is one, personal, actual and transcendent. He claims that the human layer of consciousness, engulfing our earth, is becoming a collective brain and heart that will, in the future as a single mind of persons, be immersed in God-Omega. He said the end-goal of evolution is a final creative synthesis of humankind with the universal God-Omega. Of course, for Christians Christ is the alpha and omega through which all things were created and find life. Naturalists believe there’s no purpose, no meaningfulness, no free will in this “blind, deterministic universe”. To them what they call “fermions and bosons” is our universe, and then we die without meaning. Yet, according to the Gospel, Jesus Christ reveals God’s meaning about life. And that meaning is transfigured in Christ’s resurrected body where life overcame death—that is, it overcame meaninglessness. To confess or invoke Jesus as Lord is to believe in his divinity: “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit’” (1 Cor 12:3).

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

7

Michael Shackleton

Open Door

What to do when Precious Blood is spilt At a Mass at which Communion was given under both kinds, a fair amount of the Precious Blood was spilt on the floor. An extraordinary minister of Communion wiped it up with a cloth. After Mass I asked what she had done with the cloth soaked in the blood of Christ. She said she had put it in with the washing. When I reminded her it was the Precious Blood, she told me to mind my own business. How would theologians view this matter? Worshipper

T

HE bread and wine consecrated at Mass become the Body and Blood of Christ. This is a mysterious change and it is not a visible one. The Church traditionally calls this change “transubstantiation” because the substance of the bread and wine at Mass become the substance of the Body and Blood of Our Lord. This substantial change takes place, leaving the external appearances intact. For this reason, the Church takes a very serious stand on how ministers handle the eucharistic bread and wine. Extraordinary ministers of Communion are schooled in this and are trained to appreciate that what they handle is not bread and wine but the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is surprising, then, that a minister would wipe up spilled Precious Blood with a purificator or other cloth and then consign it in its saturated state to the laundry basket. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: “If any Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy” (280). The sacrarium is a basin with a drain that goes directly into the earth. It is usual when mopping up any spillage on the floor, to absorb some of it with a cloth and squeeze the cloth out into a bucket. This continues until the floor is clean, even if a damp spot remains, and water is then rubbed over it to clean it even more thoroughly. It is the same in the case you mention. The liquid and water are squeezed into the bucket and the result is poured down the sacrarium. The cloth used for this purpose must be washed in water until there is no sign of the stain, and the water poured into the sacrarium. The cloth may only then be put into the laundry basket.

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.

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Extracts from our Annual Report

2,519,826

CAPITAL EXPENSES

1,052,668

5,206,455

2,236,612

3,135,425

1,958,216

HIV/AIDS Prevention Education

Care and direct support to Orphans and Vulnerable Learners

Leadership Development and Regional Structures support

Thabiso Skills Institute – Skills Training Support office

School Improvement Programmes

922,039 496,793

Workshops fees

4,193,347

Membership fees

Local Grants

16,718,692

2

4

19

The assessment shows that properly trained, mentored and supported teachers can play an important role in helping young people understand and address some of the challenges they face. However, more work needs to be done to generate and sustain the buy-in and commitment of other key stakeholders in the school community – educators, the school management, parents and local service providers – in order to build and strengthen viable networks of care for learners.

The current HIV/AIDS and Gender Education Project ended in September 2011.This five-year project was concluded with a participatory evaluation. This project involved the following activities: • 271 workshops to develop HIV/AIDS policies and action plans • 181 sexual harassment workshops • 179 life skills training workshops • 15 Interactive teaching methodology workshops • 27 workshops with teachers on teaching sexuality education • a peer education programme in three KwaZulu-Natal schools • 76 child abuse workshops with teachers from targeted schools • 84 workshops to examine the issue of gender violence and masculinity.

HIV/AIDS and Gender Education

For the past nine years the CIE has worked through the Education Access Project (EAP) to enable orphans and vulnerable children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS, to access education by assisting parents and schools with up to 75% of each learner’s school fees. Each learner’s sense of safety, self worth and selfrespect is recognised as important for their overall well-being, so allowances have been granted for food, uniforms, transport to and from school, participation in class outings and other educational activities. This enables each learner to feel ‘the same’ as his or her peers and therefore to focus on the school work at hand. There were 424 direct recipients in this programme, and other special needs and projects were also funded. Together with other CIE access projects, R4.1 million has been disbursed to schools.

Education Access Project

In response to the many pressures, the organisation has explored different ways to address its sustainability. A number of studies have been commissioned and, in their wake, significant restructuring has been implemented. A separate investment agency was established, pooling the reserves of the CIE and other Catholic structures, but it has so far not produced the results many had hoped for. The CIE faces challenges in funding its operations in 2012. These challenges mainly arise from our dependence on donor funding. Less than 10% of our funding is generated from levies, donations for our services from bishops, and sales of services and resources. The impact of the global recession is being felt by South African corporates, and this has negatively impacted on their corporate school fundraising Coporate Social Investment (CSI) budgets.

Our funding situation

052-250-NPO

Bank details: Catholic Institute of Education, Nedbank Current Account 1980294968, Booysens Branch 198005

Contribute to our work

glance

At a

Civil society, the community sector involved in a huge range of societal needs, is being more and more hamstrung because of the current funding climate which threatens even their continued existence. The entire NGO and community non-profit organisational sector is facing very great financial constraints. Staffs have been retrenched. Recently, a hospice in-patient unit in the North West Province had to close down. Who will suffer most? The ‘little ones’ who should be at the centre of a nation’s concern. This reality has increasingly affected the mission of the Catholic Institute of Education over the past two years. The CIE Board has engaged with this issue with great concern, because there comes a time when reduction in CIE staff actually inhibits its capacity to deliver vitally important programmes. Hence the title of this CIE report: “Huge needs, limited means”. Catholic school statistics The needs in terms of 346 schools transforming education in the country are indeed 173 300 children: “huge”. We want to play a 92 477 girls 80 823 boys constructive role at CIE in 7 565 teachers responding to the current 2 675 non-teaching staff education crisis, and we Race of children: have much to offer. But there is only so much that 92% Black 8% White we can deliver with our 88.3% Matric pass rate “limited means”. 27% of children are Catholic Bishop Kevin Dowling C.Ss.R.

Safe and Sound Regional Managers, as well as Pastoral Care and HIV/AIDS staff, have assisted in evaluating 32 boarding schools during the Safe and Sound Project. Boarding school staff have been assisted in implementing standards for boarding schools using Safe and Sound. Evaluations have been carried out together with boarding staff. The boarding schools were rated during the evaluation and owners have received reports. Serious concerns were raised in some schools. These varied from poor accommodation to lack of recreation. The Pastoral Care coordinator and field worker reported to the owners in detail.

Chairperson’s Report

Health and Well-being

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

75

22,330,872 contribution

International Grants

%

Projects financed by:

170,828

2,583,823

Skills Projects

16,139

OVERHEADS

Schools Upgrading Project

2,555,748

895,132

Religious and Values Education

www.cie.org.za

PO Box 2083, Southdale, 2135

e-mail: info@cie.org.za

Tel: 011 433 1888 Fax: 011 680 9628

Catholic Institute of Education

Still creating futures

responsibilities towards their schools.

Impact: Owners are better able to fulfil their

7 Network coherence and support O

Impact: Principals and school leaders are better able to evaluate school performance and fulfil their obligation of accountability.

6 Quality promotion O

Impact: Life Orientation teachers are better informed and have the necessary skills to implement new strategies.

5 Teacher and school development O

and the wellbeing of children is ensured.

Impact: School environments are caring and safe,

4 Health and wellbeing O

policy developments in the country.

Impact: Owners and schools are informed on

3 Leadership and governance O

Impact: Owners and schools are informed on policy developments in the country.

2 Policy and advocacy O

Impact: Schools celebrate their identity and foster the religious development of all involved.

1 Catholic identity and religious education O

There are seven goals in our plan for 2011-2013:

The CIE promotes and supports quality education for the common good through the spiritual, intellectual and professional formation of leaders and teachers in Catholic schools.

Policy, Communication, International and Local Network Liaison Unit

22,330,872

Catholic Institute of Education

R

2011

Financial Summary

Huge Needs Limited Means

Annual Report 2011

Catholic Institute of Education

Our Mission

Nearly 90% of CIE’s expenditure went directly to programmes – thank your for your steadfast support

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FAITH

The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

Is Easter still credible? In an age of increasing despair, Fr RAYMOND M MWANGALA OMI explains why and how Easter is still relevant, and why the resurrection of Christ must be at the centre of Christian life.

E

ASTER is the season of hope. The resurrection of Jesus Christ brought new hope to a world disfigured by the effects of sin. But hope is dwindling. Reasons for despair abound. Hope seems to be becoming a scarce commodity. The hope and confidence that once characterised many cultures have all but disappeared. Yet, Christians continue to believe that Christ is risen and that he brings humanity the fullness of life. Is this mere wishful thinking, misguided optimism or real Christian hope? What is the reason for the hope that should characterise Christians? There are certainly many reasons why the 21st century should be called “the century of despair”. The world, both globally and locally, has witnessed many events that have all but dashed the hopefulness and optimism of previous ages. In South Africa, for example, the promises and aspirations generated during the struggle against apartheid have been overtaken by corruption, poverty and a general sense of lawlessness. The recent service delivery protests are but one sign of this. One need not think hard to come up with woes afflicting our society and which are the causes of the lack of hope among many. On the global and international scene the financial and economic crisis of 2008 signalled the failure of free-market capitalism. The revolutionary protests in North Africa and parts of the Arab world are another sign of people’s frustrations with political leadership. In the postmodern world noth-

ing seems certain any more. To hope for a better future seems unrealistic, maybe even irresponsible. Is hope still possible and realistic in such a context? Is the Easter joy and hope credible? The South African theologian Fr Albert Nolan OP thinks so. And he is not the only one. His recent book, Hope In an Age of Despair, clearly and strongly argues that Christian hope—not to be confused with optimism—is not only possible, but is what is required and called for from Christians, especially in times such as ours. However, it is not enough to have hope; Christians and theologians must provide reasons for the hope that is in them (1 Pt 3:15). Fr Nolan’s book brings together the author’s long-held conviction that hope is possible and necessary in the midst of darkness and despair. For Fr Nolan, the foundation of hope is God. Hope is not based on visible signs, but rather on the firm trust and conviction that God is part of human history and is bringing about a new reality, commonly called the Kingdom of God. This is happening here and now, even in the midst of discouraging signs. Christian hope is hope against hope. And so, it makes sense for Christians to hope; yes, even to hope for a better and transformed future.

F

or Christians, the mystery of suffering, death and resurrection lies at the heart of the faith. It is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Paschal Mystery, which is the central mystery and foundation of Christianity. However, even if this is said to be so, the resurrection of Jesus is one of the most misunderstood and even ignored mysteries within Christian theology and spirituality. In fact, in most theology books the resurrection generally appears as an embarrassment. Some, however, argue that the fact of the resurrection is simply taken for granted. But as Fr Anthony Kelly CSsR has convincingly shown in The Resurrection Effect: Transforming Christian Life and Thought (2008), doing so only opens the mystery to misunder-

standing and renders theology and Christian life meaningless or ideological. The “resurrection of the crucified Jesus [is] the focal event affecting all Christian life and thought”. But then, how is this singular event to be understood and made the starting point and the summit to which all theology and Christian praxis should be directed? This is what Fr Kelly set out to explain in his book. He explores the resurrection event from a phenomenological perspective and proposes how it should be the determining event of faith and theology. The key, according to him, is to focus first on the event as a given, to let it speak for itself, before it can become part of systematic reflection.

U

sing the phenomenological approach he concludes that the resurrection of Jesus is a “saturated phenomenon” or “mystery”. By this he means that it is an event that contains meaning far more than the human mind can imagine or comprehend. In fact, the phenomenon of the resurrection is a datum, a given which re-orients human experience and knowing. And so, for Christians, our lives cannot but be directed by the resurrection. It must be at the centre of all we are and do. The empty tomb is an indicator of the radical reality of the resurrection. It stands as a historical witness to the fact of the resurrection and also grounds the mystery to a particular event. Jesus, the one who was killed, no longer lies dead in the tomb. Fr Kelly points out that the empty tomb serves as a historical marker for the transcendent mystery, a historical mystery whose meaning extends far beyond the historical. This is not to say that the tomb is proof, as understood today, of the resurrection. The only real proof to the resurrection is the life of believers—but without the fact of the empty tomb it would be easy to reduce the resurrection to only a spiritual or psychological event. For Christians, contact with the

9

The resurrection of Christ is pictured in a mosaic at St John Vianney seminary in Pretoria. (Photo: Fr Chris Townsend) crucified and risen Christ, becoming a disciple involves a process of dying and rising, of passing over with Christ, a movement of decentring the self in order to re-centre the self in Christ. In other words, the meaning of the resurrection can only be found by one who enters into the same experience that Christ underwent. This process takes place at different levels of Christian existence: ethical, sacramental and eschatological. Each individual and each generation has to seek out its own particular points of contact with the risen Christ if the resurrection is to remain relevant and meaningful. For example, for the poor experiencing the crushing prospects of the future this point of contact with the risen Christ might be in solidarity in working for justice. Work for justice, therefore, becomes a sign of hope. Hope for a better future, not just here on earth, but certainly beginning here on earth is what must sustain belief in the risen Christ for such people, for the life of hope finds its primary symbolism and structure in the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. The resurrection is the source of Christian hope because believers no longer live in a world closed to the full extent of God’s grace and

mercy. They live under open heavens of divine communication. The resurrection is not a dim and distant future reality which will happen on “the last day”; it is a reality already in the present. Its fulfilment, however, only happens at the parousia, at the second coming of Christ. But before the second coming of Christ, Christians must continue in hope, journeying on in this valley of tears, knowing that even though the gift of eternal life has conquered death, death, however, is not abolished. Finally, rhetoric of resurrection must not be allowed to cover over the fact of the historical existence of so much pain, suffering and death in the world. These negative realities challenge Christians to keep the Cross and Resurrection together in creative tension. The pain of the world demands a praxis of liberation. Until Christ comes again, therefore, we must continue to live in hope. And, unless the resurrection happened, hope would at best be a repressive optimism. The resurrection is indeed the reason why Christians continue to hope—even in the midst of adversity. n Fr Raymond M Mwangala OMI teaches at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal.

PILGRIMAGES 2012

l

Holy Land - September 2012 l - September 2012 l

l Medjugorje

Call Elna at 082 9750034 e-mail: elna@holysites.co.za Website: www.holysites.co.za

The Parish of Our Lady of Loreto The Parish of Our Lady of Loreto is hosting a concelebrated Holy Mass for the whole Eastern Deanery of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg for the feast of the Divine Mercy. Confesions will be heard from 13:30 prior to Holy Mass at 15:00. A procession honouring Jesus Our Divine Mercy, and St Faustina willl follow the Mass.

An open invitation is extended to all to join in this celebration which takes place on April 15 at the Parish situated on the corner of Miller and Protea streets in Kempton Park. Enquiries may be addressed to the secretary Ms Michette Burt on 011 970 1985.

CASA SERENA The retirement home with the Italian flair. 7A Marais Road, Bedfordview. Provides full board and lodging, medical services and transport. Senior citizens wishing to retire in this beautiful Home, please phone 011 284 2917 www.casaserena.co.za


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The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

CHURCH

After 50 years, Vatican II must be better understood Almost 50 years after it began, the Second Vatican Council still is widely misunderstood, according to US theologian Alan Schreck. BETH GRIFFIN reports.

T

HE 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council later this year is an opportunity to revisit the clear teaching of its documents and reject distortions and false interpretations that have gained traction in the Catholic Church, according to a council scholar. Alan Schreck, professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, spoke on “Vatican II: World Church or Church of the Little Flock?” in an address in Garrison, New York. Vatican II is still a sure compass for the Church today, Prof Schreck said, and each pope since the council reaffirmed its teachings as “God’s teachings in our time”. Nonetheless, he said, there has been tumult as the postconciliar Church sought to understand what the council meant and how to implement it. Prof Schreck said extreme responses vary from those who

thought the council did not go far enough to create a democratic Church, to those who thought it wrought too many changes and opened the door to secularism and modernist heresy. “The documents of Vatican II are among the great unread documents of our time,” said Prof Schreck, a theologian, author and scholar of the council. “People are not sure what it said. A lot of things that are blamed on Vatican II are not in the documents.” Vatican II consisted of four sessions, each approximately three months long, in the years 1962-65. Although the Catholic Church was clearly present worldwide long before Vatican II, Prof Schreck said the council promoted a concept of “World Church”, which he described as a mentality that redefined ecumenism. “Rather than expect all Christians to simply return to the Catholic Church, there’s more of an attitude of reconciliation and reunion, where the Catholic Church joins with other Christians seeking that unity for which Christ prayed,” he said. “In the relationship of the Church to other religions, there is a focus on what we have in common and what causes we can promote to overcome the obstacles that divide us,” he added. “World Church

teaches respect for other paths to God.” Prof Schreck said some people misinterpreted the new understanding of ecumenism as a rebuke to evangelisation. “None of the documents of Vatican II put limits on whom we preach the Gospel to. Our Gospel is for all people,” he said. Prof Schreck said distortions of the council teaching dismissed anything European or Western as being intrinsically paternalistic, colonial or oppressive. He said this is akin to a teenager rebelling against a white, middle-class upbringing because that is what the teen knows. “Being open to all includes respecting one’s own history and cultural heritage,” he said. One significant misinterpretation of the documents held that nonChristians would win salvation solely through the goodness and truth of their religions and not through Jesus Christ, Prof Schreck said. “People asked, ‘If non-Christians can be saved, why preach the Gospel?’ It’s little wonder that Catholics rejected this false universalism. “In the name of being a World Church, people began to see things in the documents that were not there,” he said. The magisterium of the Church responded by “underscoring that Jesus is the Saviour of the world”.

Bishops fill St Peter's basilica as Pope Paul VI presides over a meeting of the Second Vatican Council. (Photo: CNS, Catholic Press ) This does not exclude non-Christians and non-believers from salvation, he added, but affirms that Jesus is the source of saving grace. “If they are saved, it’s by the grace of Christ, even if they do not know him.” “The concept of World Church as portrayed by the Second Vatican Council is a Church that is truly Catholic, truly universal, reaching out to include all people through the proclamation of the Gospel, willing to adapt the practice of the faith to other cultures besides Western ones, respecting all people, defending human life and dignity, even those who do not yet believe in Christ or who consider themselves enemies of the Church and Christ,” Prof Schreck said. He said the rights and dignity of all people were articulated in the council documents. These were reflected in the growing voice of non-European bishops within the Church and the option of celebrating liturgy in the vernacular, with music that reflects the richness of individual cultures. They also were included in the council’s focus on the Church’s mission to care for the poor and afflict-

ed, as Jesus did. Prof Schreck said it is a false interpretation to think the Church is called only to fight injustice. In contrast to the World Church, Prof Schreck said Vatican II documents also include an image of the people of God as a little flock who may appear as a small, illegal, persecuted minority. “With the rise of secularism and irreligion, the Catholic Church may appear as a small flock, yet it is most surely a seed of hope and salvation for the whole human race,” he said. “To follow Vatican II faithfully is to experience what it means to be a minority, the Church of the little flock. It would be an easy mistake for Catholics to retreat and withdraw, but that is not in keeping with Vatican II’s call for engagement with the culture. Prof Schreck said contemporary Catholics can access the teachings of Vatican II by discussing the council documents in study groups with reliable guides or by concentrating on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “If you read the whole catechism, you have Vatican II,” he said.—CNS

“The more a soul trusts, the more graces it will receive.” (Diary, 1578)

THE DIVINE MERCY PARISH, WALKERVILLE WILL BE CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF

THE DIVINE MERCY ON SUNDAY 15th APRIL, 2012 EVERYONE IS INVITED!

HOLY MASS AT 3:00PM CONFESSIONS 9:00AM - 2:30PM The Lord Jesus told Sister Faustina: “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of my Mercy.” (Diary, 1109)

“Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment.” (Diary, 300)

Jesus, I trust in You

ENQUIRIES :

FR. STAN EDITH RONA

083 468 6985 082 495 2879 083 450 6300


The Southern Cross, April 4 to April 10, 2012

CLASSIFIEDS

Deacon Dick Croucher

D

EACON Dick Croucher of Cape Town died on February 17 after a battle with cancer. He was 80. Deacon Croucher served Goodwood parish, and was a leading figure in the Cape Town marriage tribunal and in the Apostleship of the Sea. Shortly after I arrived in Cape Town in Sepember 1964, Cardinal Owen McCann asked that a branch of the Apostleship of the Sea be established, which is the Church’s mission to seafarers. The first secretary to be elected was the young Dick Croucher, who visited the ships in the harbour with greast enthusiasm. He was very popular among the other members, and was eventually elected chairman, succeeding Norman Freeman. He was then ordained in 1987 and continued to serve as chairman until 2011. His final official function being the blessing of a

new seamen’s centre in Saldanha on the West Coast. He served at the Cape Town interdiocesan marriage tribunal as a tribunal’s administrator, with his own office in the chancery. He showed great ability in interviewing witnesses, and was eventually appointed a judge. He continued with his work until his last illness. As deacon in Goodwood, he was also involved in hospital visits. In this work he showed his usual dedication and efficency. Deacon Croucher married fairly young, but he and his wife Muriel, to their great disappointment, did not have any children. However, they gave a good example of a happy marriage until she died some years ago. During his last illness, he put up a great fight against the cancer that was killing him. He knew he was going to die, but he was happy to leave it to God to decide the time.

Community Calendar

To place your event, call Lara Moses at 021 465 5007 or e-mail l.moses@scross.co.za, (publication subject to space) BETHLEHEM: 082 892 4502 Shrine of Our Lady of DURBAN: Bethlehem at Tsheseng, St Anthony’s, Durban Maluti mountains; ThursCentral: Tuesday 09:00 days 09:30, Mass, then Mass with novena to St exposition of the Blessed Anthony. First Friday Sacrament. 058 721 0532. 17:30 Mass. Mercy noveCAPE TOWN: na prayers. Tel: 031 309 3496. Third annual Good Friday procession to St JOHANNESBURG: Mary’s cathedral, starting Rosary at Marie Stopes April 6 from Immaculate clinic, Peter Place, SandConception church in ton. First Saturday of every Parow, at 09:30am. To join month, 10:30-12:00. Also contact Dino on Gandhi Square, Main Rd. 0718619401 or Ursulla on Third Saturday of every 0826708229. month, 10:30-12:00. Tel: Fundraiser Car Boot Sale Joan 011 782-4331 and Morning Market at St PRETORIA: Brendan's Corvette Rd cnr First Saturday: Devotion Longboat Rd Sunvalley, to Divine Mercy. St Martin last Saturday of every de Porres, Sunnyside, month 7am-1pm Maggi16:30. Tel Shirley-Anne Mae 021 782 9263 or 012 361 4545.

Kolping Guest House & Conference facility

Births • First Communion • Confirmation • Engagement/Marriage • Wedding anniversary • Ordination jubilee • Congratulations • Deaths • In memoriam • Thanks • Prayers • Accommodation • Holiday Accommodation • Personal • Services • Employment • Property • Others Please include payment (R1,15 a word) with small advertisements for promptest publication.

DEATH

On February 17, he swallowed a small portion of the host, with great difficulty, after morning Mass, and died at 14:00. His funeral Mass was concelebrated St Joseph’s church in Goodwood, Cape Town, by Archbishop Stephen Brislin with retired Archbishop Lawrence Henry and priests and deacons of the archdiocese of Cape Town. Fr Desmond Curran

Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO #491. ACROSS: 5 Elms, 7 Enlightens, 8 Afar, 10 Famously, 11 Pauser, 12 Thread, 14 Arisen, 16 Sign in, 17 Sculptor, 19 Olga, 21 Colonnades, 22 Rely. DOWN: 1 Hera, 2 Diarists, 3 Shofar, 4 Helmet, 5 Esau, 6 Misleading, 9 Fratricide, 13 Regional, 15 Nettle, 16 Strong, 18 Lucy.

Liturgical Calendar Year B Sunday, April 8, Resurrection of the Lord Acts 10: 34, 37-43, Psalm 118: 1-2, 16-17, 22-23, Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5: 6-8, John 20: 1-9 or Mark 16: 1-7 Monday, April 9, Octave of Easter Acts 2:14, 22-33, Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11, Matthew 28:8-15 Tuesday, April 10, Octave of Easter Acts 2:36-41, Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22, John 20:1118 Wednesday, April 11, Octave of Easter Acts 3:1-10, Psalm 105:1-4, 6-9, Luke 24:13-35 Thursday, April 12, Octave of Easter Acts 3:11-26, Psalm 8:2, 5-9, Luke 24:35-48 Friday, April 13, Octave of Easter Acts 4:1-12, Psalm 118:1-2, 4, 22-27, John 21:1-14 Saturday, April 14, Octave of Easter Acts 4:13-21, Psalm 118:1, 14-21, Mark 16:9-15 Sunday, April 15, Second Sunday of Easter Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24, 1 John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31

CARER with nursing experience looking for a five day week job to care for frail and bedridden persons. 021 797 4073. LOOK AT santuario-fa tima.pt. Show your friends.

VAN SCHOOR— Marchelle, age 49. Wife of Lawrence and mother of Lance and Machay. Passed away peacefully on 21/3/2012 after a long courageous fight with cancer. Talking about you is easy, we do it every day, but missing you is a heartache that will never go away. Mourned by Lawrence, Lance, Machay and van Schoor family. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways not ours and his will be done.

PERSONAL

ABORTION is murder— Speak out on this issue. ABORTION WARNING: ‘The Pill’ can abort, undetected, soon after conception (a medical fact). See website: www.humanlife.org /abortion_does_the_pill.php CALLING ALL LORETO SEA POINT Old Girls. I am arranging a reunion sometime in September 2012. Seeking any LOGs out there. Please contact Maureen to join the celebrations. Email: mau reen44@telkomsa.net Cell: 0795170067 especially the class of 1962 for our 50th

PRAYERS

St Michael the Archangel, defend me from battle; Be my safeguard against the malice and snares of the negative seen or unseen energy force. Rebuke the negative energy forces oh God I humbly beseech you, and do thou oh prince of the heavenly host, by the Divine Power of God thrust into the darkness, all the negative seen and unseen energy forces, and all of the ugly spirits who wander about the world seeking the ruination of souls. In Jesus Christ's name I pray, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit One Godforever and ever. Amen

ACCOMMODATION

COOLOCK HOUSE, Melville: South Coast KZN overlooking Indian Ocean. Beach five minutes walk. Quiet holiday, Retreat and Conference Centre. Contact 039 684 6358, email coolock@intekom.co.za

ACCOMMODATION OFFERED

CAPE TOWN, Cape Peninsula: Beautiful homes to buy or rent. Maggi-Mae 082 892 4502, AIDA Cape Lifestyle Homes, 021 782 9263 maggimae@aida capelifestyle.co.za

HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION

KRUGER PARK VIVA SAFARIS (Member of SATSA)

SCHEDULED DAILY SAFARIS TO KRUGER PARK Fly-in and overland tours. See www.vivasafaris.com

Viva Safaris is engaged with 4 projects aimed at the upliftment of the Acornhoek community, including the COMBONI MISSIONARIES’ OUTSTATION

Reservations:

reunion. All other years are most welcome. Yours sincerely, Maureen Fernandes (née Lynam)

CAN YOU be silent on abortion and walk with God? Matthew 7:21 See www.180movie.com

Situated in a tranquil garden in the centre of Durbanville, Cape Town, with pool and braai facilities, we offer both tastefully decorated B&B and S/C as well as a full English breakfast and dinner by arrangement. Conference and wheelchair facilities available, within walking distance of shops, restaurants, banks and close proximity to Catholic church, tennis courts, golf course and wine routes. 7 Biccard Street, Durbanville, 7550 Tel: +27 21 976 8758 Fax: +27 21 976 9839 guesthouse@kolpingsa.co.za www.kolpingguesthouse.co.za

www.volunteersafaris.co.za

11

St Gerard's Holy Tours An 11 day experience that will change your life!! 2013 Pilgrimages to Holy Lands/Cairo (Rome option available)

Apologies but all 2012 Pilgrimages are fully booked!! All travel, visa, insurance, etc, will be arranged for you.

April 2013 May 2013 June 2013

Father Xico with partially completed church building

082 450 9930 Trevor 082 444 7654 Piero 082 506 9641 Anthony

Sept 2013

Holy Redeemer - Bergvliet Cpt Spiritual Leader Fr Tyrone Sam C.Ss.R.

St James - Kalk Bay Cpt

Spiritual Leader Fr Mark Pothier

Holy Cross & Holy Rosary

Parishes - Soweto Spiritual Leader Fr Manana

St Claires - Elsies River Cpt

Spiritual Leader Fr Babychan MSFS

CAPE TOWN: Fully equipped self-catering, 2 bedroom apartment with parking, in Strandfontein @R400 or R480 (low/high season) (4 persons per night ) Info: Paul 021 393 2503, 083 553 9856, vivilla@telkomsa.net

BALLITO: Up-market penthouse on beach, self-catering, for Easter. 084 790 6562.

BETTY'S BAY: (Western Cape) Holiday home sleeps six, three bathrooms, close to beach, R800/night. 021 794 4293 marialouise@ mweb.co.za

FISH HOEK: Self-catering accommodation, sleeps 4. Secure parking. Tel: 021 785 1247.

GORDON’S BAY: Beautiful en-suite rooms available at

To advertise in this space call Elizabeth Hutton 021 465 5007 or e-mail advertis

reasonable rates. Magnificent views, breakfast on request. Tel: 082 774 7140. bzhive@telkomsa.net KNYSNA: Self-catering accommodation for 2 in Old Belvidere with wonderful Lagoon views. 044 387 1052. KZN SOUTH COAST: Honeywood: Luxury chalets & The Cellar boutique restaurant. 7 x 4-sleeper luxury chalets. Quiet urban forest retreat opposite Sea Park Catholic Church. Ideal for retreats & holidays www.honeywoodsa.co.za honeywood@honey woodsa.co.za Tel 039 695 1036 Fax 086 585 0746. LONDON: Protea House: Underground 3min, Piccadilly 20min. Close to River Thames. Self-catering. Single per night R300, twin R480. Phone Peter 021 851 5200. MARIANELLA: Guest House, Simon’s Town: “Come experience the peace and beauty of God with us.” Fully equipped with amazing sea views. Secure parking, ideal for rest and relaxation. Special rates for pensioners and clergy. Tel: Malcolm Salida 082 784 5675 or mjsalida@ mweb.co.za SEDGEFIELD: Beautiful self-catering garden flat sleeps four, two bedrooms, open-plan lounge, kitchen, fully equipped. 5min walk to lagoon. Contact 082 900 6282. STRAND: Beachfront flat to let. Stunning views, fully equipped. Garage, one bedroom, sleeps 3-4. R450 p/night for 2 people-low season. Phone Brenda 082

PH 021 447 4727

PO Box 2372, CAPE TOWN, 8000 Tel: 465 5007 Fax: (021) 465 3850 822(021) 0607

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2nd Sunday of Easter: April 15 Readings: Acts 4:32-35, Psalm 118:2-4, 16-18, 22-24, 1 John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31

N

EXT Sunday is the second Sunday of Easter, and as always on the octave of Easter Day the gospel reading is that climactic moment of John’s Gospel, when we gaze in astonishment as Doubting Thomas first brutally rejects any possibility of resurrection, and then, going way beyond the evidence, comes to a very profound faith in what God has done in Jesus, and what that says about Jesus, that he is indeed “Lord and God”. But what is this faith of ours, at whose heart lies the cheering and baffling doctrine of the Resurrection? In part it involves us growing together as Christians, as the first reading indicates: “The crowd of believers was of one heart and one mind, and no one said that any of their possessions was private to them—it was all held in common.” (They were communists, in other words, those early Christians!) But their faith also led to other tangible evidence: “great power” and “giving witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus...great grace”. Then Luke once more emphasises their “communism”: “No one was in need among them, for whoever owned estates or houses, sold them and brought the proceeds, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they

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‘My Lord and my God’ Nicholas King SJ

Sunday Reflections

distributed to all according as they had need.” It is an impressive living-out of the doctrine of the Resurrection, and we might wish that all Christians followed their example. Above all, our task is to sing with the psalm for next Sunday, “for his steadfast love is forever”, praising “the Lord’s right hand which does power. I shall not die, but I shall live, and proclaim the Lord’s deeds”. That, above all, is what we are to be doing in this Easter season. Then we are invited to reflect, on that telling image of the “stone the builders rejected [which] turned into the cornerstone”, a quotation which Christians have learnt to apply to the Resurrection. We conclude with the great melody, “this is the day that the Lord has made—let us rejoice and be glad in it”. That is our Easter faith. For the author of 1 John, in the second

reading, which we shall be following all the way through the Easter season, our Resurrection faith has two essential elements. First, it is a set of beliefs about Jesus, that he is the Messiah of God, and born of God; and second it expresses itself in love of God, and love of our fellow-Christians. And living out that faith is, John tells us, “the victory that is victorious over the world, our faith”. The victory is not an easy one, however, but comes “through both water and blood”, testified to by the Spirit of Truth. We can only dimly follow the details of this argument, but the gist is clear: our faith is guaranteed by God. The gospel for next Sunday, as always on the second Sunday of Easter, charts a move from unfaith to faith. It starts with the disciples, who already have the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection, clearly not believing a word of it, since they have “the doors locked, for fear of the Judeans”. Into this fearful unbelief steps Jesus, with his wounds, and his message of peace and the Spirit, and the mission to undo sins. So they now come into faith of a kind (though we notice that the doors are still locked a week later!), and taunt Thomas with the fact that they have seen the Lord and he has not;

Holy fear is healthy N

OT all fear is created equal, at least not religiously. There’s a fear that’s healthy and good, a sign of maturity and love. There’s also a fear that’s bad, that blocks maturity and love. But this needs explanation. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about fear inside of religious circles, especially around the scriptural passage that says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Too often texts like these, as well as religion in general, have been used to instill an unhealthy fear inside of people in the name of God. We need to live in “holy fear”, but holy fear is a very particular kind of fear that should not be confused with fear as we normally understand it. What is “holy fear”? What kind of fear is healthy? What kind of fear triggers wisdom? Holy fear is love’s fear, namely the kind of fear that is inspired by love. It’s a fear based upon reverence and respect for a person or a thing we love. When we genuinely love another person we will live inside of a healthy anxiety, a worry that our actions should never grossly disappoint, disrespect, or violate the other person. We live in holy fear when we are anxious not to betray a trust or disrespect someone. But this is very different from being afraid of somebody or being afraid of being punished.

Conrad

Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI

Final Reflection

Bad power and bad authority intimidate and make others afraid of them. God is never that kind of power or authority. God entered our world as a helpless infant and God’s power still takes that same modality. Babies don’t intimidate, even as they inspire holy fear. We watch our words and our actions around babies not because they threaten us, but rather because their very helplessness and innocence inspire an anxiety in us that makes us want to be at our best around them. The gospels are meant to inspire that kind of fear. God is Love, a benevolent power, a gracious authority, not someone to be feared. Indeed God is the last person we need to fear. Jesus came to rid us of fear. Virtually every theophany in scripture (an instance where God appears) begins with the words: “Do not be afraid!” What frightens us does not come from God. In the Jewish scriptures, the Christian Old Testament, King David is revealed as the person who best grasped this. Among all the figures in the Old Testament, including Moses and the

great prophets, David is depicted as the figure that best exemplified what it means to walk on this earth in the image and likeness of God, even though at a point he grossly abuses that trust. Despite his great sin, it is to David, not to Moses or the prophets, to whom Jesus attributes his lineage. David is the Christ-figure in the Old Testament. He walked in holy fear of God, and never in an unhealthy fear. To cite just one salient example: The Book of Kings recounts an incident where David is, one day, returning from battle with his soldiers. His troops are hungry. The only available food is the bread in the temple. David asks for that and is told that it is only to be consumed by the priests in sacred ritual. He answers the priest to this effect: “I’m the King, placed here by God to act responsibly in his name. We don’t ordinarily ask for the temple bread, but this is an exception, a matter of urgency, the soldiers need food, and God would want us to responsibly do this.” And so he took the temple bread and gave it to his soldiers. In the Gospels, Jesus praises this action by David and asks us to imitate it, telling us that we are not made for the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath is made for us. David understood what is meant by that. He had discerned that God is not so much a law to be obeyed as a gracious presence under which we are asked to creatively live. He feared God, but as one fears someone in love, with a “holy fear”, not a blind, legalistic one. A young mother once shared this story with me: Her six year-old had just started school. She had taught him to kneel by his bed each night before going to sleep and recite a number of night prayers. One night, shortly after starting school, he hopped into bed without first kneeling in prayer. Surprised by this, she challenged him with the words: “Don’t you pray anymore?” His reply: “No, I don’t. My teacher at school told us that we are not supposed to pray. She said that we’re supposed to talk to God…and tonight I’m tired and have nothing to say!” Like King David, he too had discerned what it really means to be God’s child and how God is not so much a law to be obeyed as a gracious presence who desires a mutually loving relationship, one of holy fear.

he reacts in the familiar way of unbelief, demanding a rather crude proof, “unless...I throw my finger into the mark of his nails, and throw my hand into his side, no way am I going to believe”. After eight days he gets his wish, and Jesus quotes the brutal demand back at him: “Bring your finger here...”, to which Thomas, as we applaud, goes way beyond the evidence and simply brings the gospel to a climax with that astonishing Easter proclamation of faith, “My Lord and my God”. There are however two more things to say about this Resurrection belief. The first is that “those who have not seen and yet have believed” are congratulated (that is us, of course). The second is that the evangelist frankly admits that he has been quite selective in what he has written in the story (“Jesus did many other signs...”). The whole gospel has been put down on paper, “in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name”. The decisive moment for formulating this belief is the Resurrection that we are joyfully celebrating during these weeks. For the early Christians, that changed everything; for on the one hand, as they phrased it, “God raised Jesus from the dead”; and on the other hand that said something about who Jesus was. Who was Jesus, and what is your Resurrection faith, this week?

Southern Crossword #491

ACROSS 5. Trees, initially elders, limes, maples and sage (4) 7. Imparts knowledge with brilliance (10) 8. From a distance (4) 10. This way, you are renowned (8) 11. A super change makes you a halter (6) 12. Fibre keeping story’s plot together (6) 14. Having been raised, is near (6) 16. Write your name to show that you’re here (4,2) 17. He could be Michelangelo (8) 19. You'll find her among cool gables (4) 21. Sad O’Connel finds them in the cloister (10) 22. Depend (4

DOWN 1. Wife of Zeus (4) 2. Samuel Pepys is in good company with them (8) 3. Jewish ceremonial horn (6) 4. Salvation is your... (Eph 6) (6) 5. Son of Rebecca (Gn 25) (4) 6. Guiding wrongly into error (10) 9. Sin of Cain (10) 13. Kind of district for kind of religious superior (8) 15. Grasp it to do unpleasant task (6) 16. Out of it came what is sweet (Jg 14) (6) 18. Martyr with feast day in December (4) Solutions on page 11

CHURCH CHUCKLE

A

YOUNG curate complained to the parish priest: “Father, there are bats in the church and I can’t find any way to get rid of them.” The parish priest counselled, “Let’s call the bishop, he’ll be able to help.” “But how?” asked the curate. “Well,” said the parish priest, “he’ll confirm them; we’ll never see them after that!” 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 - 120404  

4 April - 10 April, 2012

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