May 30 to June 5, 2012
Profile of Cardinal Schönborn
Book reviews: Christ in Rwanda, and Jesus’ world
Intimidation still rife in Zim BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
REE and fair elections in Zimbabwe, which have been mooted for as early as this year, will be impossible until political reform has been accomplished, Catholic Church commentators have warned. Jesuit Father Oskar Wermter of Harare said the feeling on the ground, in a highdensity area like Mbare where he lives and works as a parish priest, is one of fear. “People still remember the harassment and violence of 2008. They are afraid elections in 2012, before a new constitution has been introduced and new electoral laws been promulgated, might be as violent as in 2008. This feeling is fairly widespread. Even now there is low-level violence,” he said. The Church is working to help make a difference in the area. Fr Seán O'Leary, director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI) has a full-time worker on the ground working out of Bulawayo. The institute works through Matabeleland, a region in the west of the country. “We are in the process of identifying monitors both for the referendum on a new constitution and eventually elections,” said Fr O’Leary. He said elections are a process and not simply an event and the monitoring has to begin now. “However, the situation presently of low intensity state violence is not conducive for free and fair elections,” he added. Fr O’Leary said there are serious and urgent needs to address in Zimbabwe since the Global Peace Agreement (GPA, signed in 2009 has not been fully implemented and “in my view no referendum or election should be allowed to take place before the full implementation of the GPA”. He said the political partisan security sector; the manipulation of the poorer sector of society to commit acts of violence on behalf of the ruling party and the demilitarisation of key institutions like the judiciary, media and electoral commission needs to be addressed, he said. There needs to be “an end to selective application of the law in favour of the ruling party.”
“Needless to say that under such conditions there are no free and fair elections,” said Fr Wermter. “The electronic media are still 100 % under state/party control. So the conditions for the competing parties are very uneven, especially in the rural areas. Independent newspapers exist, but are too expensive for the majority. They do not reach the rural areas. Community radios try to get broadcasting licences. But so far not one such radio station has a licence.” Fr Wermter said that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF “does not want any positive development for which they cannot take credit and use it in the campaigning in their own favour”. Fr Wermter told The Southern Cross of party leaders, called “chefs”, who use the many unemployed young men in the area “to terrorise the population: they stopped the building of a service station and shopping centre by beating the construction workers up and threatening them—if they don’t stop, worse will happen to them,” the workers were told. According to Fr Wermter, the site in question was to be used as a flea market with the distribution of stands to traders dependent on party membership. “The party controls places like this.” Fr Wermter said locals are being forced to attend party meetings and “this will be worse once campaigning starts in earnest. So people are afraid.” Fr O’Leary said the role of the Church was essential as local churches have access on a weekly basis to a huge constituency where they can inform, educate and in doing so prepare people to make informed decisions around the referendum and elections. Fr Wermter agreed: “The Church must keep educating the people through Justice and Peace groups and activities, get people used to democratic behaviour by being democratic itself, on parish and diocesan level. The leadership must continue to speak about democratic principles and conditions for fair elections. “The Church must continue to insist on Continued on page 3
Cardinal decries post-spear racism STAFF REPORTER
ARDINAL Wilfrid Napier of Durban has called on President Zuma to redirect his leadership and adopt a new dialogue on reconciliation and dignity. “Let us all make every effort to be the South Africa we want to be and want to become,” he said. Cardinal Napier, spokesman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, made the statement in the aftermath to the “furore” over the painting “The Spear” by Brett Murray which he said “has exposed a number of fault lines in our South African civic discourse”. The cardinal said he was horrified with the tone and temperament of the language used around the painting. “We need honest, respectful and clear dialogue in South Africa—we have lived with enough violence in word and deed.” Cardinal Napier also said the call by the Nazareth Baptist Church (Shembe) for the stoning of the artist is “not in any way a position of the Catholic Community, or
indeed, I suspect, of the broader Christian Community”. The cardinal called the church’s call “tantamount to hate speech and is a very clear incitement to violence”. “Let the courts decide—this is why we have an independent judiciary and laws that are not arbitrary,” the cardinal said. Cardinal Napier also said he was concerned at the use of the language of race, which has “once again allowed us to default to the easy position of blame without having to make any effort to understand or to attempt a broader dialogue”. “Let me be clear. I don't like the painting, its graphic subject matter or the slur on the character of the president,” he said. “But simply reducing this incident to the level of race is a sad indicator that we have, once again, allowed the easy card to be played because it serves to deflect us from the real issues of national reconciliation and the building of a community that chooses the Highest Possible Good rather than the lowest and basest human instincts,” Cardinal Napier said.
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Was Christ’s blood shed for many or for all?
Special Catholic Education issue: June 6
Next week The Southern Cross will publish its annual 16-page CATHOLIC EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT. It will look at issues such as whether Catholic schools are still Catholic, where to send one’s children, what makes a good teacher, tertiary education, new initiatives, anti-bullying strategies, the role of sports in education and much more.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier and Rene van Zyl, principal of St Henry’s Marist College in Durban, are taken on a circuit of the college’s quad by “ricksha-man” William, as pupils look on. This formed part of a cultural element in an annual meeting of the senior management of South Africa’s Marist schools, three of which are in Johannesburg and one each in Durban and Cape Town. As KwaZulu-Natal was this year’s venue, the theme was “We are the People of the Sky”, taking its cue from the word Amazulu, which means “People of the Sky”.
Vatican backs health care for all
HE Vatican has praised efforts by governments to provide universal and affordable health care access and coverage, noting that policies based on the principles of equity, human rights and social justice ensure the best care for the most people. Governments also should recognise and support the work of nongovernmental organisations, including the Church, in their efforts to provide wider health care access “without obliging them to participate in activities they find morally abhorrent”, said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The archbishop made his comments to
senior government health care officials attending the World Health Organization’s annual World Health Assembly in Geneva. Archbishop Zimowski urged all 194 member states “to aim for affordable universal coverage and access for all citizens on the basis of equity and solidarity”. He reiterated Pope Benedict’s call for “real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all,” while adding that health care should never “disregard the moral rules that must govern it”, a veiled reference to a US government policy which would force Catholic employers to faciliate health care coverage for artificial contraceptives and sterilisation.
Pope: We’re on the winning team BY CINDY WOODEN
E are on the Lord’s team, the winning team,” Pope Benedict has told members of the College of Cardinals at the end of a luncheon he hosted to thank them for their friendship and support. At the end of the meal in the frescoed Sala Ducale of the Apostolic Palace, the pope told the cardinals that St Augustine once described history as “a battle between two loves”, love for oneself and love for God. The pope hosted the meal as a way to thank the cardinals for their best wishes and expressions of support on the occasions of his 85th birthday on April 16 and the seventh anniversary of his election on April 19.
“First of all, I want to thank the Lord for the many years he has given me; years with many days of joy, splendid times, but also dark nights. Looking back, I understand that even the nights were necessary and good, a reason to give thanks,” he said. Pope Benedict told the cardinals he knows the phrase “the church militant” is “a bit out of fashion” today, but it still reflects a truth about the place of a Christian in the world. “We see how evil wants to dominate the world,” and how it uses cruelty and violence, but also how it “masks itself with good and, precisely in this way, destroys the moral foundations of society”. The “church militant” is called “to struggle against evil”, the pope said.—CNS
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Catholic business ethics in SA business schools STAFF REPORTER
NE of the world’s leading experts in business ethics, Professor Al Gini, visited South Africa as guest of the Jesuit Institute. Prof Gini is the chair of Management at Loyola, the Jesuit University in Chicago, and for over 40 years has been an author, commentator, teacher and broadcaster on the subject of business ethics. He has even appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He gave public lectures at GIBS in Johannesburg and the UCT Graduate School of Business, the latter attended by Archbishop Stephen Brislin. He also held meetings with Professor Mervyn King, the expert on corporate governance, and with the heads of major South African banks. Prof Gini, who is an honorary citizen of South Africa, said: “South Africa is the proverbial test-
Professor Al Gini during his visit to South Africa, as a guest of the Jesuit Institute, giving a public lecture at UCT Graduate School of Business. ing ground—this is a place where business and ethics really must
work together.” Part of his programme was to run a workshop for graduates of the Jesuit Institute’s Spirited Leadership programme. The course is intended to help people to look at their own spiritual values in order to be more effective as a leader at work. Prof Gini endorsed the value of an approach which tackles ethics from the point of view of character and not just rules. He linked it with his book Why It’s Hard to be Good (Routledge, 2005). He also drew attention to the “essential truths” contained in the recent document from the Pontifical Council for Justice & Peace, “The Vocation of the Business Leader”. An interview between Prof Gini and Redi Tlhabi from 702/Cape Talk can be downloaded from www.jesuitinstitute.org.za. n For more information about Prof Gini’s visit to South Africa e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org Sr Marianne Graf has left the Maria Trost Diocesan Pastoral Centre in Lydenburg/Mashhishing, Witbank diocese, after 31 years and South Africa after 40 years of dedicated service. She is taking up a new appointment with her religious institute, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Graz, Austria. Many priests, religious and lay people attended a farewell function for Sr Marianne, who, according to Bishop Giuseppe Sandri of Witbank, “for so many years has warmly welcomed and cared for innumerable bishops, priests, brothers, sisters and lay people from different churches that came to Maria Trost for retreats, workshops and all kind of assemblies and meetings. We wish her God’s blessing for her future in Europe”.
Soul Food delivers food to the hungry of Johannesburg with the help of local businesses and local parishes.
Feeding the soul in JHB BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
N ecumenical non-profit organisation is keeping Johannesburg well fed with their donations of food for the hungry and food for the soul—and it is being supported by local parishes. Deacon Brent Chalmers of the Soul Provider Trust said the organisation’s project, called Soul Food, has seen great support from the sandwich-making events held each month at St Charles parish in Victory Park. “You have no idea of the difference that this makes in the lives of so many destitute orphans, widows and indigent people,” said Deacon Chalmers. The Soul Provider Trust is a “spiritual communication agency, committed to bringing love and understanding to the world according to God’s Word through the modern tools of mass communication”. Deacon Chalmers, a Benedictine for over 15 years, uses the network to provide guidance, advice and direction to its subscribers. “The sole purpose of the Soul Provider Trust is to make God visible in the world,” the deacon said. One part of the multi-faceted organisation is its dedication of charity. “The Gospel is ultimately about God rescuing the poor. Part of evangelisation is the movement
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to eliminate poverty.” Deacon Chalmers said the organisation finds it far more effective to “free ourselves from too much reliance on dogma and rely more upon human solidarity” and therefore the trust sees the combined efforts of the ecumenical community. The trust had its attention drawn to the enormous amount of perfectly edible food that is disposed of by hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, casinos and entertainment venues—most of which was paid for and discarded if not used. “It is easier and cheaper to dump it than to deliver it to where it is desperately needed,” Deacon Chalmers said. It was here that Soul Food was born. Today, the trust liaises with venues, collects the surplus food and delivers it to orphanages, shelters and feeding schemes as well as schools that have been identified as being needy. Soul Food currently supports 27 places of refuge, orphanages and shelters and feeds about 2500 people a day. With the added help of local parishes, the number continues to grow, Deacon Chalmers said. “Soul Food has started on a small scale in Johannesburg but aims to expand the project as our resources grow,” the deacon said. n For more information visit www.mysoulprovider.org
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Bishops want free and fair polls in Africa BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
EVERAL Southern Africa countries will see elections over the next year, and the region’s bishops are concerned with election violence, intimidation and reprisals. This was a concern voiced by the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) which brings together the Catholic bishops from nine countries—South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, São Tomé & Principe, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The bishops said that their concerns for the region increase as elections draw nearer. The Church is therefore called to observe
upcoming elections. The bishops said that it is the duty of all governments and political parties to create and maintain peace before, during and after the elections. They have called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to be active in ensuring that the SADC principles and guidelines on the conduct of elections are fully respected. The president of IMBISA, Bishop Frank Nubuasah of Francistown, Botswana, called on governments to guarantee certain conditions for the elections. Bishop Nubuasah said in a statement that these governments should “guarantee conditions that ensure elections are free, fair
and peaceful”. We have seen in our communities how violence and insecurity affect the everyday lives of ordinary people, denying them much needed development and the ability to lead fulfilled lives,” he said. Bishop Nubuasah called elections “a challenging time and as witnesses on the ground our hope is that our governments will respect these guidelines, so that the lives and dignity of each and every individual can be respected”. “The Church prays continuously for the region as we are called to act in solidarity and work towards the strengthening of democracy. We cannot afford to step backwards on the achievements we have made so far.”
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Zimbabwe poll concerns Continued from page 1 human rights and the dignity of all people as God’s children, especially women and children, the poor and the sick, and all underprivileged people. The continued presence in health care and education of the Church may possibly speaker more loudly than mere words,” said Fr Wermter. Fr O’Leary said there had been a marked improvement in the country since 2008. The economy, schools, hospitals and clinics were running a lot better, he said, “but there is still a long way to go”. “However, the political climate has not changed and as either a referendum and/or elections approach, the level of state vio-
lence will intensify to the point that, at the moment, it is hard to see how there can be a free and fair election or referendum, he said. “If the run up to either [poll] is not free and fair, then the event on the day cannot be called free and fair,” he said. Fr Wermter said if South Africa and Southern African Development Community (SADC) put “their foot down and send plenty of observers, perhaps the worst excesses can be prevented”. The DHPI will arrange a high level Catholic Church monitoring team from South Africa. The question is whether “will we be allowed to get into Zimbabwe by the government”, Fr O’Leary said.
Jo’burg parish supports employment in Mpumalanga BY CLAIRE MATHIESON
GROUP of volunteer mentors from St Martin de Porres parish in Craighall, Johannesburg, have dedicated their time to take a feeding scheme in a poor community one step further by developing a job creation organisation called Just My Job (JMJ). Founded by Neill and Cathy Wickham in 2007, the group works at Bongani mission in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, and assists vulnerable youth by providing skills training and business coaching.
JMJ assists the youth with sales and marketing development as well as administrative help—all provided by the Johannesburgbased volunteers. “JMJ provides dignity of work and university of life business and production skills,” Mrs Wickham said. She said the mission serves 12 villages where in excess of 1 000 children are fed. A survey conducted in the area revealed that of the nearly 500 000 people in the area, some 70% were unemployed. Those with employment were mainly in unskilled jobs in agricul-
ture or hospitality domestic services. “About 30% of the households were child-headed homes where there was no understanding of the world of work. Since our the feeding scheme catered for children up to 14 years of age, it begged the question of what support was there then for these youth,” Mrs Wickham said. It was then that the couple decided to try give the youth some hope and opportunity by way of becoming self employed. “We asked two of the field workers in the feeding scheme to
identify 12 children they thought would benefit from the opportunity to be trained in some skills development, in a university of life,” Mrs Wickham said. JMJ includes mentorship, training sessions to improve skills to produce craft products and also business skills that teach the youth how to earn a sustainable living. The two original fieldworkers are now village managers who oversee the youth, who are contractors to manufacturers. The youth are provided with work kits to make the chosen product as well as the compo-
nents, together with a costing sheet showing the price of each component and assembly instructions. “Once they have completed the order, they invoice their production and send the products for quality control and payment is received directly to their own banking account.” Production is done only against customer orders and comprises mostly craft products for occasions such as Easter, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Days, Christmas, and corporate gifting. n Contact 011 787 4330 or neill email@example.com for details.
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Cardinals: Vatican II docs have grades of authority BY CINDY WOODEN
HE documents of the Second Vatican Council possess different levels of authority and thus command different levels of acceptance by Catholics, including those who hope to restore their unity with the Church, said two retired Vatican officials. German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and Italian Archbishop Agostino Marchetto spoke to reporters after launching a book they wrote with Fr Nicola Bux, Pope Benedict XVI’s Keys for Interpreting Vatican II. The three scholars have written extensively on how the Second Vatican Council must be read in continuity with earlier Church teaching and have often criticised theologians, priests and other Catholics for reading too much novelty into the council. At the book presentation, Cardinal Brandmüller and Archbishop Marchetto responded to reporters’ questions about the Vatican’s ongoing discussions with the traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which has a history of criti-
cising the Second Vatican Council and rejecting some of its teachings. In the book, Cardinal Brandmüller said the SSPX and the Old Catholics who rejected the papal infallibility teaching of the First Vatican Council “have in common a rejection of the legitimate developments of the doctrine and life of the Church”. While the cardinal described the Old Catholics as having an “insignificant role” in global Christianity today, he said the vitality of the SSPX forces the Church “to demonstrate that their protests are unjustified. One can only hope this will happen.” Asked about the passage in the book, Cardinal Brandmüller told reporters: “We hope that the Holy Father’s attempt to reunify the Church succeeds.” One thing that must be kept in mind is the differing degree of acceptance and obedience Catholics owe to different types of Church teaching, which range from absolutely embracing the teaching in the creed to accepting the principles of Catholic social
teaching and trying to put them into practice in a variety of social and political situations, said the cardinal, who is the former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. “There is a huge difference between a great constitution,” like the Vatican II constitutions on the Church, the liturgy and divine revelation, “and simple declarations”, like the declarations on Christian education and the mass media. “Strangely enough, the two most controversial documents” for the SSPX—those on religious freedom and on relations with nonChristians—“do not have a binding doctrinal content, so one can dialogue about them,” the cardinal said. Of course, he added, all the council’s documents, including the two declarations, “must be taken seriously as expressions of the living magisterium”, the official teaching of the Church, which has developed even further under the pontificates of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Archbishop Marchetto, who
Pope Benedict waves as he arrives to lead an audience with Christian volunteers in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. (Photo: L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) retired in 2010 as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers so that he could dedicate himself full time to studying and writing about Vatican II, said all Catholics owe all the council documents “at least an adhesion of intellect and will”. The archbishop is not part of
the Vatican’s dialogue with the SSPX, but, he said, “there must be an acceptance of the council by those who want to be reunited with the Church.” “I don’t think the SSPX can say: ‘Well, we’ll set this or that document aside,’” Archbishop Marchetto said.—CNS
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book is ‘a criminal act’ T BY CINDY WOODEN
HE Italian television journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, who set off the “VatiLeaks” controversy by releasing private letters to Pope Benedict and between Vatican officials has published a large collection of leaked documents in a new book called Sua Santita (“Your Holiness”). In a statement, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ called the publication of the letters for commercial gain a “criminal act” and said the Vatican would take legal action. “The latest publication of documents of the Holy See and private documents of the Holy Father can no longer be considered a questionable—and objectively defamatory—journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the character of a criminal act,” he said. The spokesman said the publication of the letters violates the right to privacy and the “freedom of correspondence”. In the letters, which include accusations of corruption and financial mismanagement in the Vatican, and focus heavily on internal Italian Church matters or Vatican-Italian relations, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, is particu-
Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, who has described a book based on leaked Vatican documents ‘a criminal act’. (Photo: CNS) larly presented in an unfavourable light. Mr Nuzzi’s book immediately went to the Number 1 spot on the Italian best-selling books lists. Facsimiles of dozens of letters and notes are printed in the back of the book. But more than 100 others are quoted—in part or entirely—within the book’s chapters focusing on
“corruption” in the Vatican. Allegations include making donations in exchange for a personal meeting with the pope—among the reproductions is a copy of a cheque for 10 000 euro (R100 000)with a handwritten postscript saying, “When can we have a meeting to greet the Holy Father?” The book also includes allegations about what it describes as the thirst for power among curia officials, the influence of new religious orders and movements, and the way Church officials handle a variety of scandals around the globe. In late April, Pope Benedict appointed three retired cardinals to a commission to investigate the leaking of the letters. Fr Lombardi said: “The Holy See will continue to explore the different implications of these acts of violation of the privacy and dignity of the Holy Father—as a person and as the supreme authority of the Church and Vatican City State—and will take appropriate steps so that the authors of the theft, those who received stolen property and those who disclosed confidential information, using illegally obtained private documents for commercial use, answer for their acts before the law.”—CNS
Pope on why we call God ‘Father’ BY CINDY WOODEN
DDRESSING God as “Father” is an acknowledgement that God is the one who created, supports and guides humanity, Pope Benedict has said. “Maybe people today do not understand the beauty, greatness and deep consolation” that comes from recognising God as Father, “because the paternal figure is not sufficiently present today”, the pope said during his weekly general audience. Addressing an estimated 20 000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict continued a series of audience talks about prayer in the letters of St Paul. Focusing on St Paul’s assertion that it is the Holy Spirit that enables people to pray and
to address God as “Abba, Father”, the pope said, “the absence of one’s father or the lack of a father’s presence in a child’s life today is a big problem that always makes it difficult to understand fully what it means to say that God is our father.” From the beginning of Christianity, believers adopted Jesus’ form of addressing God as Father, especially in the Lord’s Prayer, the pope said. “Christianity is not a religion of fear, but of trust and love for the Father who loves us.” Pope Benedict acknowledged that “critics of religion have said that speaking of God as ‘father’ is simply a projection” of our own longings and desires, but the Gospel shows that the opposite is true,
because “Christ shows us who the Father is and what a true father is, so that we can understand and also learn what true fatherhood is.” Jesus demonstrated that God is love, he said, and when people pray to God as father, they enter into “a cycle of love” that offers them support, but also correction and guidance. The assertion that human beings are made in God’s image and likeness means that he is their father, the pope said. “A line in the Psalms always touches me when I pray it: ‘Your hands made me and fashioned me’,” he said. “Every one of us, every man and woman, is a miracle of God, desired by God and personally known by him,” he said.—CNS
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Syria’s Christians are being ‘pushed into an exodus’ BY DOREEN ABI RAAD
S Pilgrims attend the 98th Katholikentag (Catholic Assembly) in Mannheim, Germany. The four-day festival brought together Catholics from throughout Germany. Inscribed on the wooden depiction of the Blessed Virgin are the words “Mother of the Church”. (Photo: Alex Domanski, Reuters/CNS)
Methodists apologise for priest’s 1921 murder
ORE than 90 years after a Methodist clergyman killed a Catholic priest in Birmingham, Alabama, members of both churches gathered to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. “There is no statute of limitations on forgiveness,” said Passionist Father Alex Steinmiller during a service at Highlands United Methodist Church. The service focused on the August 11, 1921, murder of Fr James Edwin Coyle by the Rev Edwin Stephenson, who was angry with the priest for presiding over his daughter marrying a Puerto Rican man. At the service, Bishop William Willimon of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church called it “a national scandal” that Rev Stephenson was acquitted of the murder by a jury that included members of the Ku Klux Klan, who were influenced by both racist and anti-Catholic attitudes. The presiding judge, who denied an eyewitness to the murder an opportunity to testify, was also a Klansman. The Rev Mikah Hudson, senior
pastor of the Methodist church, led the congregation in a prayer of confession and reconciliation. “This night we ask forgiveness for the indifference of our beloved Methodist Church to the unjust death of Fr James Coyle, a servant of God among us, whose ministry was tragically ended,” he said. “Heal us, we pray, of dissension and hatred for brothers and sisters of other faiths. Reconcile us to those who we have wronged or who have wronged us. Embolden us to witness to the love of Jesus Christ by loving others as he loved us. Amen.” Ruth Stephenson, daughter of the killer, said in her grand jury testimony that she was baptised a Catholic without her parents’ knowledge at 18. Fr Coyle presided at her marriage to Pedro Gussman two hours before Rev Stephenson fatally shot him. Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, in a letter to Bishop Willimon, said he was “deeply moved by your courageous initiative to sponsor a repentance and reconciliation service regarding the tragic death of a dedicated and faithful priest.”—CNS
YRIA’S 2,5 million Christians are being pushed into an exodus from the country out of fear of chaos and crime, said Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus. In a report from the Melkite archdiocese of Homs, Syria, the patriarch urged the international community to “save Syria”. “Save Syria’s exemplary coexistence of Muslims and Christians,” Patriarch Laham said in the report. “To the ones who care, I cry out: ‘Save the presence of the Christians in Syria.’” Armed gangs are kidnapping Syrian people and demanding ransom, according to the report, “An Experience of Current Life in Syria”. Ransoms demanded are typically R16 000 to R330 000 for a Christian and R8 000 to R40 000 for a Muslim. The report recounted the May 11 attack on a Melkite priest in Qara, south-east of Damascus. Two armed tied up and assaulted the priest, throttling him slashing his head with a broken glass bottle before stealing his keys, computer and phone. “Such an incident was unthink-
Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus. (Photo: CNS) able only a few months ago. In Syria, Christians were formerly respected along with all minorities,” the report said. “We see that blind acts of violence are everywhere and we have nowhere to take refuge. The mutilations, bombings, and threats have a psychological aim: to bring the population to its knees. At every moment we are in total insecurity,” it said. “Today in Syria we can no
longer speak of a governmentopposition division. There is a third element: the criminals who roam freely, taking advantage of the situation. They hide behind the opposition and they exploit both the lack of armed forces and the absence of United Nations observers.” The report quoted Patriarch Laham as saying: “The Syrian government is tied up and swept away by the international politics. Without any serious investigation, they claim the government perpetrates massacres and bombs civilians. Meanwhile, the barbarous acts by the insurgents pass by without a word. “There is a legitimate government who must govern,” the patriarch said. “If it is destroyed, there will be nothing to replace it. “Unfortunately, we see that the international community aims to make the situation worse, divide Syria and provoke conflict. By arming and supporting forces that are out of control we are pushing the country towards more violence, terror and bloodshed.” “I address the international community: save Syria,” he said.— CNS
Irish ‘camino’ for Eucharistic Congress BY CIAN MOLLOY
NEW city centre “Camino”, or pilgrim walk, has been launched in Dublin as part of the celebrations surrounding the International Eucharistic Congress set for June 10-17. The walk, involving prayerful visits to seven of Dublin’s most historic Catholic and Anglican churches, is partly inspired by the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain and by the traditional Dublin devotion of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday. Unlike the pilgrimage across Spain to the burial place of St
James, which takes weeks to complete, the Dublin walk can be completed in about four hours. In typical Irish fashion, the Dublin pilgrimage has no set route; visitors can make their own path to the churches in any order desired. The pilgrim walk will operate from June 2-16. Participants will be given a “Pilgrim Passport” that can be stamped at each church. The seven churches involved: St James; Our Lady of Mount Carmel; John’s Lane; St Ann’s in Dawson Street; St Mary of the Angels; St Michan’s, Halston Street; and St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Opened in 1854, St James’ Church creates a link between the
Dublin’s Camino and Spain’s El Camino de Santiago because it stands near the site of St James’s Gate, where Irish pilgrims departed to journey through France and Spain in the Middle Ages. The site today is occupied by the St James’s Gate Brewery, home of Guinness, where a visitor centre offers refreshment to thirsty pilgrims. In keeping with the ecumenical nature of the congress, an Anglican church is included in the pilgrimage. St Ann’s in Dawson Street is a favourite of Dubliners of all faiths because of its lunchtime recitals and evening concerts.— CNS
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
LEADER PAGE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
Getting over the past
VEN after 18 years of democracy, issues of race continue to dominate our public discourse—and that can be healthy, provided it aims at redressing the injustices of the past and eliminating bigotry and resentment. We are, as recent events have shown, far from meeting the latter objective. Former President F W de Klerk, whose courage paved the way for a peaceful end to apartheid, made worldwide headline news this month when in an interview with cable news channel CNN he repudiated apartheid as “morally unjustifiable”, but, crucially, “in a qualified way”. As a minister in the apartheid cabinet under PW Botha from 1978-89, Mr de Klerk had a reputation as a conservative, a verkrampte advocate of apartheid, at least until the mid-1980s, by his own count. It does not diminish Mr de Klerk’s profound contribution to ask just what had taken him so long to find his moral compass. He has yet to acknowledge, without qualification, his role in facilitating and fostering a system which the Catholic Church, and other religious bodies, held to be “intrinsically evil” and blasphemous. Mr de Klerk’s evasion from fully assuming a personal responsibility is symptomatic of a general attitude among many of those who benefited from apartheid. They might acknowledge that apartheid was “bad”, but promptly propose that bygones ought to be bygones, suggesting that it is time to move on and the past be forgotten—even as the dismal effects of that past are everywhere to remind us of the grave injustices that were systematically visited upon the majority for many generations. It is exactly that casual approach of dealing with the past which represents an obstacle on the way to true reconciliation. White South Africans remain, by and large, reluctant to fully recognise that the policies which were implemented in their name—with the sustained and explicit consent of a significant majority—caused incalculable privations which continue to afflict most of the nation even today. This is not a question of issuing endless apologies, but one of developing a collective consciousness which unconditional-
ly accepts the past with a sense of awareness and unqualified contrition. A lesson in this can be learnt from the experience of West Germans who had to come to terms with their nation’s responsibility for the Holocaust. It took more than three decades before West German society openly and expansively dealt with that terrible chapter in its history, a process Germans call Vergangenheitsbewältigung (meaning “coming to terms with the past”). It affected not only those who were in some way complicit in the Holocaust, but even those born many years afterwards. Germans now have a collective understanding that, as a nation, they owe a moral debt to Jews. It does not preclude criticism of, for example, Israel’s policies, but it involves a consciousness that German history is tainted by the Holocaust, and that Germany bears a historical burden. Of course, South Africans will not be able to come to terms with the past when the K-word still has social currency. That it is still widely and thoughtlessly used was illustrated by the furore over its use on Twitter by model Jessica Leandra dos Santos, who in her defence said that she used the derogatory term in anger. Anger, like alcohol, has a way of revealing one’s true frame of mind. The K-word clearly resides comfortably in the consciousness of people like Ms dos Santos, who thought, presumably from her own experience, that its use was uncontroversial. South Africans would be fooling themselves if they believed that the model’s use of this most hurtful and hateful of words was an aberration. The poverty of South African discourse on racism was further revealed when fellow model Tshidi Thamana retaliated to Ms dos Santos’ tweet by calling for violence against whites. In the fallout she also blamed anger for her racist outburst. Both young women have apologised for their objectionable comments. Whatever the damage to their careers, they should be forgiven, with the hope that they—with all South Africans— may now become agents of change and true reconciliation.
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.
Put ‘end hunger’ plans into action N your Christmas issue last would have become part of the one Iparish December, I read about a large third of the world’s food produced in Kenya where the Sunday for human consumption which gets Mass used to last about three hours. Recently the priest noticed people fainting during the second half of the celebration. On enquiry he found out that it was due to hunger. So the Mass has been cut to an hour and a quarter. Parishioners used to stand around for a long time after Mass chatting; now they head straight for home, while they still have the strength to get there. This malnutrition is not because food is not available, but because the people have not got the money with which to pay the constantly rising prices. On the same day I read the article, one of our comfortably off, but not rich, Catholics told me about their Christmas lunch for the 12 members of the family: three starters, four kinds of meat to deal with various likes and dislikes, three different desserts—this despite the grumbling about food getting more and more expensive. I am sure that some of the left overs were used up later, but some
Music lives on
N reading the report “SA’s ‘sweetest’ organ turns 100” (April 11), what a joyful surprise I received to read that “F E Lee from Johannesburg [was] brought in specially to play the organ” for the organ’s inauguration in 1912. Frank Ernest Lee (pictured), who at that time was not a Catholic, was my maternal grandfather! He was organist at St Mary’s Anglican cathedral in Johannesburg. He was a very accomplished organist, having achieved his Associate of the Royal College of Organists at the age of 21. He made his debut at the Albert Hall in London, and came out to South Africa with his regiment from Lincoln, England, at the start of the Anglo-Boer War. My grandmother joined him later and they were married at St Cyprian’s church, Durban, on July 5, 1902. They eventually settled in East London and became converts to Catholicism. My grandfather preceded my grandmother into the Church around 1917 or so and my grandmother’s conversion came about after attending a parish mission in 1920. Her father was a vicar, and she
wasted every year (FAO report 2011). Two billion of the world’s people now spend 50%–70% of their income to keep alive. One billion experience varying degrees of hunger and malnutrition. This is because poorer countries are forced to open their markets, due to World Trade Organisation regulations, while richer countries protect their agricultural sector, and export their heavily subsidised food to developing countries. The failure of the World Food Summits from 1994–2006 to put possible solutions into practice has worsened the problem. We have recently again seen the selfish lack of concern of the world’s “haves” for the “have nots” at the COP17 conference in Durban. In his 1963 encyclical Pacem in terries, Pope John XXIII clearly taught us that “all people have the right to life, food”. Vatican II repeated the words of ancient Christian writers: “Feed the person dying of hunger, because if you have not fed him you have killed him” (Gaudium
priests. Shortly afterwards our archbishop officially informed us that we were in future not to meet on Catholic Church property. Since then we have been meeting monthly in a Methodist church hall. In spite of approaches on our part, the ban still stands. Were this not tragic, it would be laughable. Our group consists of thoughtful, mature, spiritual people who are pillars of the Church in their various parishes. Something is very wrong here. Surely the existence of God is a central belief, yet we are free to discuss God’s existence or nonexistence without fear. However we are actually forbidden to discuss other issues less important than God, such as the question of women priests! And because we deep-thinking, experienced, professional and academic people have done so, we are being punished like little children! Has the Church lost all sense of proportion? Brian Jacoby, Cape Town
was a very devout Anglican. She and my grandfather were blessed with four sons (Geoff, Eric, Charles and Bernard) and two daughters (Kathleen and Molly). My grandfather taught music and singing for many years and was choir master at the Immaculate Conception church in Albany Street, East London, until a severe stroke caused him to become bedridden about three years prior to his death, aged 73, in September, 1947. Music has always been part of our lives and it’s encouraging to see how this lives on in the younger members of our family. I unfortunately don’t know my grandfather’s age when the photograph was taken. Gillian Tweehuysen, Benoni
HANK you for your recent interesting and informative coverage of the question of atheism. Such discussion and sharing of divergent views helps lead to truth. However, if the topic had been about women priests, would you have been allowed to devote as much (if any) space to it? A year ago I met together with a group of fifty or so like-minded Catholic friends to prayerfully discuss various relevant theological issues that interest us, including the question of women
Holy Land - September 2012 l - September 2012 l
et spes 69). What can you and I do to help ensure that the underprivileged half of the world’s people, and the similar half of our own population, can enjoy their right to food? We can eat well, but less. This would ease the growing health hazard of obesity. We can eat food which takes less out of the soil and requires less water to produce (for example cut down on meat). We can feed hungry individuals at our gate or door, support feeding schemes, assist soup kitchens for street children or get involved in the St Vincent de Paul Society. But that is all the micro scene, local, within easy reach. What about the macro scene; the South African level, the world level? I would be grateful if Southern Cross readers would make sustainable suggestions about what the individual, or even groups of Catholics can do to address the food issue on national and global scales, so that more of our fellow human beings can enjoy their God-given “right to food”. In this way we would have something to offer to God and bring to people on World Food Day, October 16. Bonaventure Hinwood OFM, Pretoria
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Unity in Christian diversity
ATICAN II had a lot to say about the scandal of divided Christianity, indeed a whole decree (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1964) was written about ecumenism. And non-Catholics welcomed it enthusiastically. Yet we are still far from unity. Perhaps, let me suggest, the mystery of the Trinity can help us a bit. I say perhaps because the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most complex mysteries of the Christian faith, where a misplaced word or even a comma out of synch can lead one into the dread realm of heresy. In this way it’s not unlike ecumenism: pray and work together, even worship together, but don’t share Communion! Similarly, just as we seem to have resolved one theological difference, four others seem to arise. Trinitarian theology often distinguishes between what is called the immanent and economic Trinity. With the former, argue many theologians, we should say very little: here the inner nature of the Trinity is profound mystery that we can never really understand. Better then, particularly for those of us who are not systematic theologians, to focus on the economic Trinity. Here, we can say how God acts—Father, Son and Spirit share in creation, incarnation and redemption and always acting together in communion. For ecumenism, perhaps, we may be able to derive a few insights. Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants need to work together towards a unity in diversity. If the “goal” of ecumenism is uniformity— everyone becoming Roman Catholic or Orthodox or Protestant—the process towards Christian union is, I fear, doomed to fail. Too much history has happened, too much diversification and too many painful memories of mutual excommunication, loathing and persecution have occurred. Vatican II took bold first steps towards unity in diversity by abandoning terminologies of “heretics” (for Protestants) and “schismatics” (for Orthodox) in favour of “separated brethren”. They noted in particular that we had little theological disagreement with the
Orthodox. Where we disagreed was over the Orthodox understanding of the papacy. The Council noted that greater disagreement, to greater or lesser degrees, existed with the Protestant churches, most notably over interpretations of the Eucharist, church government and ministry. There has been both progress and backsliding since Vatican II. While there have been positive developments—over justification by faith for example—there have also been logjams, over the Eucharist and papal authority. Some of the newer evangelical churches have retained old “antipapist” prejudices, while many Catholics have tended to use the less welcoming term “ecclesial communities”, a term that suggests religious deficiency in Protestantism. None of this helps, particularly in a rapidly secularising world where the
“The Black Abbey Trinity”, a reproduction of an Irish statue dating from 1234. In his article Fr Egan suggests that the theology of the Holy Trinity is a little like ecumenism.
Christ crucified again and again He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried ISTORIANS tell us that the most humiliating and painful form of capital punishment in the Roman Empire was crucifixion. Those who were opposed to Christ didn’t just want him dead but also to humiliate him. Why? Because Christ was a scandal to their sense of themselves, their pride. The Holy Spirit, through the prophet Isaiah, long before Christ, said: “He will keep you safe. But to Israel and Judah he will be a stone that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.” God knew the Jews, instead of making him their refuge and strength, would resist his claims and appeals. God is often represented in the Scriptures as a rock, a firm defence, or place of safety, to those who trust in God. Often I wonder, why would God put “a trap and a snare” for his own people. Considering their history and beliefs, there’s no way the Jews were going to accept any human being calling himself God. That is blasphemy in Jewish religion. The Jewish messiah is not the “saviour”, an innocent, divine being who is sacrificed to save us from our sins. That’s a Christian belief. The Jewish term mashiach literally
means “the anointed one”, and refers to the ancient practice of anointing kings with oil when they took the throne. In Jewish belief, the mashiach is the one who will be anointed as king in the End of Days. God becoming man is a stumbling block to the Jewish faith, even if he is the eternal wisdom of God to us. St Augustine has the most satisfying answer why Christ became the stumbling block, not only to Jews, but also to the proud. Augustine speaks of humility as the very portal for knowing God and knowing one’s very self. His Confessions are about the contradistinctions between pride and humility. Over and above all else, he says, it is intellectual pride that cannot grasp the coming of God into the flesh, born in the form of a servant. Humility is a graceful acceptance of our own limits without collapsing into despair, shame, or impotent rage. Pride robs us of this developmental accomplishment, and is at the centre of the original sin. Humility marks the move from fantasy to reality, from omnipotence to competence. Humility is a gift of genuine life progression to maturity—when a 2-year-old can accept that they are not actually in charge of everything, or when an aged person accepts that they need to depend on others in a way they haven’t before. It
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A Church of Hope and Joy
temptation of all churches has been to withdraw into dogmatic or biblical fundamentalism. The idea, that adhering to rigid doctrinal, biblical or structural “authority” will stem the tide is, I would suggest, mistaken. The drive for absolute certainty that leads people into conservative religion offers only temporary comfort: denial is no long-term solution to having to face the reality of economic, political, social and cultural complexity. The danger is that many who take this option will, when faced by the fact it has not worked, reject religion completely. The alternative, what I speculatively call the Trinitarian Alternative, is to acknowledge and welcome unity in diversity. While each tradition celebrates its particular way of being Christian, it puts aside rivalries and lets go of past resentments so that it works in union to proclaim the Gospel, drawing upon the riches of each other’s traditions. Sometimes the churches would act in common, sometimes separately, but never against one another, while the theologians and leaders of the respective communions work to build greater theological and structural common ground. We can start by saying (as I think the Council Fathers were suggesting) that we are all members of “one holy, catholic and apostolic church”, all sharing in the classic formulas of the Creed and the common ecumenical councils of the first millennium. By analogy this might be seen as the “immanent Church”. How our different churches have interpreted the common sources and have developed differing practices can be seen as the “economic Church”. No matter how these things differ, we can see all Christians working with each other even when we do things differently or separately. A Trinitarian approach as I’ve suggested may not resolve all differences between Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants but at least it will reduce the hostility, arrogance and separation that currently wounds the Body of Christ.
Reflection on the Apostles Creed – Pt 4
is a key element of being at peace. Contrary to humiliation, humility gives a person their dignity and equilibrium back. It restores all that pride seeks to rob. Christian faith cannot be understood without seeing the humility of God. God’s divine condescension to man, to be among us in our scarred humanity, and man’s descent from his pride and vain spiritual imagination, meet in Christology. What does the weakness of an omnipotent God teach us? That God loves us enough to render even God’s omnipotence hapless against our sins. That is the lesson of Calvary. God does not prevent sin but redeems it. That’s the lesson of the cross. God loves us enough to allow the misuse of our free will to crucify God. Pride makes us brittle; hardens us away from humility. Unfortunately, our narcissistic age honours pride above humility, hence it is mostly unable to move beyond from the anger of resentment, jealousy, competition, and so on. Could it be that because the Jewish authorities and high priests shared the vices of our age that they were unable to Continued on page 11
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Was Christ’s blood shed for all or many? The English words of the consecration at Mass have been changed from “shed for you and for all” to “poured out for you and for many”. Why? Sheila Mentor
HE Roman Rite is the conventional way in which the Church in the city of Rome celebrated the Mass and sacraments from the earliest times. Rome, the seat of the successor of St Peter, was the principal bishopric in Christendom, and so all lands of Europe and elsewhere where Latin was understood, adopted the rite with ease. This is why it is also known as the Latin or Western rite. To this day, the approved text of the rite, known as the typical edition, is in Latin. Any translation for liturgical use in another language must agree with the precise sense of the original Latin before it can be approved in Rome. The pope, as bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church, sees it as his right and duty to keep a watchful eye on the way the Roman liturgy is practised in foreign parts. When the International Commission for English in the Liturgy sanctioned the English translation of the new order of the Mass in 1973, there was some concern in Rome about the text which was considered inexact as a direct version of the Latin original. Your query concerns the revised text approved in Rome in 2010 which is now in use. The phrase “poured out for you and for many” is deemed to be closer in meaning to the original Latin liturgical words “pro vobis et pro multis effundetur” than “shed for you and for all” (see Mt 26:28). The Latin word to pour out is effundere but, interestingly, it can also mean to shed, as in shed blood. The same word is found in Genesis 9:6 and Romans 3:15, translated in the Jerusalem Bible as “shed”. Yet in Acts 2:17-18 it is rendered as “pour out”. The Revised Standard Version puts Mt 26:28 into English as “shed”, whereas the Jerusalem Bible has “poured out”. Liturgists in Rome seemingly wanted to retain the image of pouring out, because the word can cover both the pouring out of Christ’s blood on Calvary and the pouring out of the contents of the chalice in holy communion. The preference for “many” over “all” is because in all texts, Greek, Latin and subsequent translations, “many” (not “all”) occurs in Mt 26:28 and in the official text of the Roman rite.
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The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Marist Brothers Linmeyer’s junior cricket team from Johannesburg took part in the annual St Martin’s Development Cricket Festival. On the first day they beat St Martin’s by two wickets. On the second day they beat The Hill by 90 runs during which Marcio de Sa, a Grade 8 learner, took six wickets. The third day saw Marist Brothers Linmeyer take on Redhill and, although this was a closely contested match, Marist Brothers Linmeyer won with Connor Tehini, a Grade 8 learner, scoring a six off the last ball. Marcio de Sa was awarded the trophy for best bowler of the festival and Marist Brothers Linmeyer ended the three-day festival as the only unbeaten team! (Front from left): Connor Tehini, Daniel Rietveldt, Mitchell Rose, Robert Reddiar, (middle row) Abin Abraham, Christopher Strydom, Langa Dlamini, Calvin Reis, Angelo Frazao,Yeshlin Govender, (back row) Rahul Oka (captain) Marcio de Sa, Mr Germishuys (coach) and Deelan Gulab. (Submitted by Tracy Edwards)
Some 66 members of the Catholic Men’s Union (St Joseph’s) met for a weekend at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre of Maria Trost in Lydenburg-Mashishing, Mpumalanga. They shared their commitment to God, the Church and society. Bishop Giuseppe Sandri of Witbank also attended and celebrated the Sunday Mass, invoking upon those in attendance and the members of their new executive the spirit to follow St Joseph’s example in making Jesus happy with their lives, and witnessing to him with their actions to their families and communities.
The RCIA group of Blessed Sacrament parish in Virginia, Durban North. (Submitted by Maggie Fuller) Hosea, the youth choir of Christ the King parish in Wentworth, Durban, led the parish in music for the Easter Vigil. They led the assembly amicably, proving that the youth do have something valuable to offer the Church. (Submitted by Jeandra Hufkie)
The archdiocese of Johannesburg held their Right to Life Mass and Prayer Walk with 2 000 - 3 000 Catholics joining Archbishop Buti Tlhagale in praying to stop abortion. Some 17 priests gathered on the altar to celebrate the Mass with the archbishop. Fr Shaun von Lillienfeld was the main celebrant. After the Mass the archbishop led the prayer walk to Constitution Hill where a memorandum stating the Church’s stance on abortion was handed over to the representative from the office of the MEC for Health. The atmosphere was a joyous one, showing Catholics united for life. Spectators along the route gave support to the praying procession. The event was organised by the Culture of Life Apostolate. To celebrate the Liturgical Family and Life month in May, the Culture of Life Apostolate opened two homes for girls and women in pregnancy crises, one in the East Rand and the other in the West Rand. (Submitted by Michelle Joseph)
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A Divine Mercy Mass was held at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Rivonia, Johannesburg, for the first time. The Divine Mercy prayer group (initiated by Nassey Simaan, third from right) is seen in front of the Divine Mercy banner. (Submitted by Lily Loo)
Nanda Wood received a blessing from Fr Abram Martijn for her 90th birthday celebrated at Ss Simon and Jude parish in Simon’s Town, Cape Town. (Submitted by Wilma Salida)
The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Cardinal often delivers the unexpected Often mentioned as a possible future pope, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has surprised many people in his struggle to keep the Austrian Church together, as JONATHAN LUXMOORE reports.
HEN discontented Austrian priests mark the first anniversary of their “Call to Disobedience” in June, it will highlight the difficulties facing Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna in holding his disparate Catholic community together. In the nearly 17 years since Cardinal Schönborn became the spiritual leader of the Vienna archdiocese, he has had to face organised dissent from clergy and laity seeking several Church reforms, including admitting women to the priesthood. Both supporters and critics agree the cardinal has responded in a pastoral spirit. “There’s no doubt he’s under strong pressure,” said Herman Bahr, treasurer of Austria’s Laity Initiative launched in 2009 as a “loyal opposition”. “He’s also a kind and generous man, who’s in too strong a position to be pulled by either side. Although he can’t tolerate open defiance, he clearly favours change himself,” Mr Bahr said. Mr Bahr’s comments came in reaction to a Holy Thursday homily by Pope Benedict criticising—without specifying the European coun-
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn at a news conference in Mariazell, Austria. try—a group of priests who issued a call to disobey certain aspects of Church teaching. In Austria, there’s little doubt that the pope was referring to the “Initiative of Parish Priests”. Paul Wuthe, spokesman for the Austrian bishops’ conference, predicted the dissenting priests would modify their stance after the pope’s intervention. However, Fr Hans Bendorp, a representative for the priests’ initiative, denied there would be any change in their stand. He said the priests planned to request an audience with the pope in response to the homily. “We’re taking responsibility for renewal in the Church,” Fr Bendorp said.
“Although our bishops can be sympathetic, they always give stereotypical answers and insist the issues we’re talking about can only be decided by the whole Church,” he added. Such polarisation has posed challenges for the 67-year-old Cardinal Schönborn, who studied at Regensburg, Germany, under then Fr Joseph Ratzinger after joining the Dominican order in 1963. Cardinal Schönborn was widely viewed as a papal candidate after Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005. Cardinal Schönborn’s career looked impressive when he succeeded Cardinal Hans Herman Groër in September 1995 following his resignation amid allegations of sexual abuse.
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hat element of critical loyalty may have helped Cardinal Schönborn respond to demands for change at home, which have surfaced repeatedly since 1995, with the most recent being the priests’ initiative urging women clergy, “priestless eucharistic liturgies” and Communion for non-Catholics and remarried divorcees. In a November 2011 statement, the Austrian bishops said the summons to disobedience had “triggered alarm and sadness,” and called on the priests to avoid demands which “contradict the Church’s identity and seriously risk its unity.” But some experts say the demands reflect anxieties about steadily falling numbers in the Church, which traditionally makes up 78% of Austria’s population of 8,1 million. This might explain why the pope’s Holy Thursday homily, though critical of the group for “disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s magisterium”, appeared conciliatory in tone. “We would like to believe the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures,” Pope Benedict said. “But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal?” he asked.
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In a website statement, the priests initiative said it could not “in good conscience” withdraw its call, adding that “disobedience to various existing strict Church rules and laws” had “for years been part of our life and work as priests”. “We are, however, aware that ‘disobedience’ can be understood as an offensive word,” noted the group, which claimed 405 priests, nearly a tenth of Austria’s 4 200 clergy, and 73 deacons as members. “Therefore we are willing to explain that we do not mean general disobedience for opposition’s sake, but the graduated obedience where we first owe obedience to God, then to our conscience, and lastly also to Church order.” Jesuit Father Paul Zulehner, one of Austria’s leading social scientists, cited survey evidence that twothirds of Austrian priests and lay Catholics now “broadly support” the priests’ initiative. He also defended Cardinal Schönborn’s readiness to talk with the group and pastoral approach to Catholics seeking to change Church doctrine. “Many of the best young and engaged priests are backing this campaign. Although there’s no Martin Luther-threatening-schism here, they’re showing a new way to reform the Church by switching from words to actions,” Fr Zulehner said. “But the cardinal points out that, on many issues, we’re all actually saying the same things. The themes and issues highlighted by the priests’ initiative are open, and we can and should be talking about them,” he said. Like other priests, Fr Zulehner was struck when Cardinal Schönborn overruled one of his parish rectors and approved the March 18 election of a 26-year-old Catholic living in a registered same-sex union to a parish council in Stützenhofen. Dr Wuthe, the Austrian bishops’ spokesman, agreed that the vast majority of Austrian Catholics had reacted positively to the unusual gesture, which had “explained the Church’s teaching” but also highlighted “respect for homosexuals in the Church”. “The cardinal said he’d asked himself what Jesus Christ would have decided in this situation,” Dr Wuthe said. “He’d concluded this person was in the right place, and was truly trying to live as a Christian according to the Gospel in his own circumstances.” It was, Dr Wuthe explained, a measure of the cardinal’s style, as well as of his capacity to follow his judgment, sometimes in unexpected directions.—CNS
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Appointed professor of dogmatics at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland in 1975, he joined the Vatican’s International Theological Commission five years later. He served as editorial secretary for the Catechism of the Catholic Church beginning in 1987. He belongs to several Vatican congregations and councils today and he also sits on the recently created Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation. The Austrian prelate, born the second of four children into a noble family, has not shied away from controversy either. In 1996, he said in an interview on Austrian television that a person with Aids might use a condom as a “lesser evil”, and in 2009 he criticised the lifting of an excommunication order on Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X. In January 2010, the cardinal apologised to a bishop in BosniaHerzegovina after preaching at the shrine of Medjugorje without his knowledge. Two months later his spokesman issued a clarification after he called for priestly celibacy to be re-examined in the light of recent abuse scandals.
Fr Urs Fischer Bro Crispin Mrs N Qupa
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The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
The Rwandan boy who saw Christ THE BOY WHO MET JESUS: Segatashya of Kibeho, by Immaculee Ilibagiza with Steve Erwin. Hay House. 2011. 216 pp. ISBN: 9781401935818 Reviewed by Nancy L Roberts OME sceptics might call the religious visions detailed by author Immaculee Ilibagiza in The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kibeho nothing but the hallmark hallucinations of temporal lobe epilepsy. Others will see them as direct manifestations of the divine in everyday life. In any case, this story of a poor, illiterate Rwandan shepherd boy’s spiritual journey is absorbing and sometimes inspiring. Segatashya came from a pagan family and never had the opportunity to attend school or church or read a Bible. On a summer day in 1982, under a shady tree, the
teenager experienced an apparition of Jesus. As he explained, “I saw him [Jesus] and he spoke to me. [...] He said he chose me as a sign to show people who don’t believe in him—like pagans and any other non-believers—that he is not forgetting them. He sees them, he cares about them, he loves them, and he hopes that they invite him into their hearts.” Eventually Segatashya set off on a profound spiritual mission. For eight years before he was murdered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, he travelled and bore witness to life’s purpose: to love Jesus and one’s fellow humans, to strive to reach heaven. Despite sometimes being beaten by those who doubted his sincerity, Segatashya seemed to retain his innate innocence. Ultimately the depth of his spiritual
wisdom convinced and comforted many of his critics. Ilibagiza has also written Our Lady of Kibeho (also with Steve Erwin), a book about the Marian visionaries whose experiences in the early 1980s made the town a famous pilgrimage site. Unlike their visions, however, Segatashya’s were not officially authenticated by the Catholic Church before his death. Ilibagiza recounts how Segatashya once appeared to her in a dream, advising her not to be overly concerned with this: “‘Isn’t telling my story more important than waiting for someone on earth to give my words a stamp of approval? Isn’t letting people know about the messages Jesus gave to me the most important thing in the world?’” Ilibagiza, who studied elec-
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tronic and mechanical engineering at the National University, lost most of her own family in the Rwandan genocide (her account of surviving the genocide, Left to Tell, was an international bestseller). She met Segatashya about a year before he died; her research sources also include extensive interviews with his younger sister, Christine. Ilibagiza’s tone throughout The Boy Who Met Jesus is reverent and respectful. She spends perhaps more time than needed in reflecting on her own feelings towards Segatashya. No matter how one regards supposed mystical apparitions such as this, the story is often engaging. After all, Segatashya represents our own primal yearning with the questions he poses directly to Jesus: Why were we
How archaeology reveals the world of Jesus JESUS AND HIS WORLD: The Archaeological Evidence, by Craig A Evans. Westminster John Knox Press. 2012. 208pp. ISBN: 9780664234133 Reviewed by Günther Simmermacher EW personalities of antiquity are as amply documented as Jesus of Nazareth. And yet, while we take for granted what is told about the life of, say, Alexander the Great, libraries of books are written to dispute the near contemporary literary data of Jesus’ life. So we have theories asserting that Jesus was an allegorical character based on pagan worship, or a composite of various would-be messiahs, or that he in fact had a wife and son. The resurrection narrative is explained away by theories suggesting that Jesus wasn’t really dead when he was laid into the tomb (the discredited “swoon theory”), that the postcrucifixion sightings were the result of mass hallucinations, that the Jesus myth was invented by power hungry charlatans (who clearly didn’t mind being killed on their way to dominion), or, one made most recently, that Jesus’ followers didn’t see the risen Christ but his image on his burial cloth, the Shroud of Turin. In Jesus and His World, Craig A Evans aims to correct a few selected theories by providing archaeological and literary evidence that supports what we know of Christ from the New Testament. Evans, a professor in Bible studies and theology, takes aim at assertions that Jesus was a follower of the Greek Cynics school of thought, that he didn’t teach in synagogues, that he was illiterate, that he wasn’t buried in a tomb, and that the remains of Jesus and his wife and son have been found. The thrust of the book is that archaeology keeps proving wrong those who tend to dispute much of Scripture. The book is set up as a work of apologetics. Evans refutes some assertions which have very little academic credibility
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created? Why must we suffer? Is there life after death? How do we get to heaven?—CNS
anyhow. But in his introduction he states a more pertinent purpose: to illuminate through archaeological and literary inquest the life and teachings of Jesus. Evans is at his best, then, when he provides the context of Jesus’ fatal clash with the Temple authorities, without being distracted by doing battle with negligible hypotheses. Drawing from ancient texts and excavated evidence, Evans proposes that the dispute that culminated in the crucifixion was not only theological in nature but also rooted in power, corruption and self-preservation.
ikewise, Evans is excellent when he describes life in first-century Nazareth and how the village related to the city of Sepphoris, which was just an hour’s walk away. The refutation of the idea, based on the proximity to Sepphoris, that Jesus was a Cynic—a Greek movement which one might describe, with a touch of flippancy, as the hippies of antiquity—is hardly necessary. As Evans acknowledges, it has no academic traction. But it works well as a device for framing the story of these two settlements, the village which became world famous and the now largely forgotten big city. In his chapter on synagogues, Evans addresses the self-evidently unsustainable notion that there were no such structures in Jesus’ time. In fact,
nine synagogues that predate the Great Revolt of 66-70AD have been excavated, at least partly, in the Holy Land alone. The elimination of a halfbaked theory seems redundant, but it provides the framework for a discourse on the nature of synagogues before the fall of the Temple (they were religious, educational and community centres rather than places of liturgical worship, and didn’t even need to be buildings). This gives Jesus’ reported activities, such as the incident in Nazareth’s synagogue or the exorcism in Capernaum, a context which many readers of Scripture might be unfamiliar with. In an appendix, Evans thoroughly demolishes the claim th at a tomb foun d below a house in East Talpiot, south of Jerusalem, contains the tomb of Jesus and his family, including his wife and son. The claim has absolutely no academic support, to put it charitably, yet it has yielded a book and a N ation al G eograp h ic documentary produced by filmmaker James Cameron. Leaving aside that the names on the ossuary—a stone box in which the bones of deceased people were interred—were common in the first century, it is unlikely that Jesus’ family would have been buried in an area where all other tombs were reserved for members of Jerusalem’s aristocratic and priestly classes. Jesus and His World is aimed at the general reader who will acquire new insights into the times in which Jesus lived— and, along the way, also learn about beheading techniques in medieval England. This book of trenchant archaeological apologetics answers some outlandish claims. It might have worked better, however, if it wasn’t predicated on combat with strawmen and easy targets, but instead take as its principal premise what Evans said he hoped to accomplish in the first place: to show how archaeology supports passages in the New Testament and sheds new light on their meaning. In meeting that objective, he succeeds.
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The Southern Cross, May 30 to June 5, 2012
Christ crucified again Continued from page 7 understand the humility of God in Christ? Is this the reason they were unable to find relief from God’s humility? Christ humiliated their pride because he exposed their hypocrisy. When people are humiliated, they become truly dangerous. Historians tell us that the settle-
ment of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, was so humiliating to the German people that it made them susceptible to a seductive con man who told them they were the master race. And from that the seeds of another world war were sowed. On the other hand, South Africans, through the symbolic
Liturgical Calendar Year B Weekdays Year 2
Sunday, June 3, Trinity Sunday Deuteronomy 4: 32-34, 39-40, Psalm 33: 4-6,9, 18-20, 22, Romans 8: 14-17, Matthew 28: 16-20 Monday, June 4, feria 2 Peter 1: 2-7, Psalm 91: 1-2, 14-16, Mark 12: 1-12 Tuesday, June 5, St Boniface 2 Peter 3: 12-15, 17-18, Psalm 90: 2-4, 10-14, 16, Mark 12: 13-17 Wednesday, June 6, feria 2 Timothy 1: 1-3, 6-12, Psalm 123: 1-2, Mark 12: 18-27 Thursday, June 7, feria 2 Timothy 2: 8-15, Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-10, 14, Mark 12: 2834 Friday, June 8, feria 2 Timothy 3: 10-17, Psalm 119: 157, 160-161, 165-166, 168, Mark 12:35-37 Saturday, June 9 feria 2 Timothy 4: 1-8, Psalms 71: 8-9, 14-17, 22, Mark 12: 38-44 Sunday, June 10, The Body and Blood of Christ Exodus 24: 3-8, Psalm116: 12-13, 15-18, Hebrews 9: 1115, Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26
CATHOLIC LITURGICAL ARTS
We are having a sale of a variety of Liturgical items. Elegant vestments, chalices, ciboriums, monstrances, candlesticks, censers and priests shirts, beautiful banners for all seasons and more. Sale ends 15th July 2012 Contact Theresa Tel/Fax 011 782 3135 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
gestures of humility that forged a saint (Nelson Mandela) for their needs, had enough humility, even if not sufficient, not to hang on to anger and resentment. And disaster was averted. The enemies of Christ choose to dwell on their shame and their shattered pride. By doing so they crucify God over and over again.
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO #500. ACROSS: 3 Preaching, 8 Open, 9 Sworn oath, 10 Simon's, 11 Smear, 14 Abner, 15 Yogi, 16 Elude, 18 Lens, 20 Teach, 21 Tobit, 24 Morrow, 25 Delirious, 26 Stun, 27 One-legged. DOWN: 1 Constable, 2 Permanent, 4 Rows, 5 Abram, 6 Hooray, 7 Note, 9 Snare, 11 Squat, 12 Roman Rite, 13 Right wing, 17 Ethos, 19 Social, 22 Icing, 23 Lean, 24 Muse.
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BETHLEHEM: Shrine of Our Lady of Bethlehem at Tsheseng, Maluti mountains; Thursdays 09:30, Mass, then exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. 058 721 0532.
DURBAN: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Our Christian Life by Mgr Paul Nadal, June 30 from 9:0016:00 at St Peter’s, 360 Mahatma Ghandi Road, Point. Call or fax 031 337 5676 or email firstname.lastname@example.org JOHANNESBURG: Rosary at Marie Stopes clinic, Peter Place, Sandton. First Saturday of every
month, 10:30-12:00. Also Gandhi Square, Main Rd. Third Saturday of every month, 10:30-12:00. Tel: Joan 011 782-4331 PRETORIA: First Saturday: Devotion to Divine Mercy. St Martin de Porres, Sunnyside, 16:30. Tel Shirley-Anne 012 361 4545. NELSPRUIT: Adoration of the blessed sacrement at St Peter’s parish. Every Tuesday from 8am to 4 45pm followed by Rosary/ Divine Mercy prayers, then a Mass/Communion service at 5 30pm.
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Visiting Jordan, The Holy Land and Constantinople (Istanbul) A spiritual and fascinating journey organised and led by Fr A. Ignatius Heer Cost from R22 285
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COWAN—John. Former reporter for The Southern Cross died on May 23 after a short illness at the age of 82. Fondly remembered by Günther Simmermacher, Pamela Davids, Michael Shackleton and the staff of The Southern Cross. May his soul rest in peace.
CULLEN—Gerty. Mom died in Port Alfred on June 4, 2009, aged 99. We won’t ever forget you and your love, Mom. We know that you are with the Lord that you loved so much. Pray for us. The Alberton Cullens. DENISON—David John. In loving memory of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, who died on June 3, 2006. His loving spirit is with us every day. MHDSRIP Lorraine and children. PARKERWOOD—Sheila Margeret June. 14/6/1941 – 31/5/2002. May Almighty God bless her. Remembered in our prayers always, because of her beautiful loving spirit. Sadly missed by her husband Tony and sons Vincent, Tony and John and friends. RAINS—Allan. In everlasting memory of Allan Woodrow Rains, who passed away two years ago 20/05/2010. Great men never die, their memory lives on forever. We know that death leaves us a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves us with memories no one can steal, still present in spirit. Deeply missed and always in our thoughts and prayers. Teresa, Cindy, Eon, Bradley, Nicky, Cloë, Chris and Hilton Rains.
ABORTION is murder Silence on this issue is not golden, it’s yellow. ABORTION WARNING: ‘The Pill’ can abort, swiftly and undetected. It clinically makes the womb inhospitable to, and reject those early ‘accidental’ conceptions (new lives) which sometimes occur while using it. (Medical facts stated in its pamphlet) CAN YOU be silent on abortion and walk with God? Matthew 7:21 See www.180movie.com CRUCIFIXES FOR AFRICA: Made in four complete sizes. Phone/Fax: 046 604 0401 for details and brochure.
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HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I
have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and publish this prayer. Amen. RCP.
GRATEFUL thanks to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Mother Mary and Ss Joseph, Anthony, Jude and Martin de Porres for prayers answered. RCP.
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 NEWLANDS: Cape Town: Just off Dean Street, very convenient for SACS and UCT. One studio apartment @ R4 000pm and one bedroom apartment @ R4 500pm. Secure on-site parking included. Tel. Williams 021 782 3364. TOWNHOUSE TO SHARE: Seeking Golden Girl. Our family are looking to source a companion and house mate for our elderly but independent mother living in a spacious fully furnished 3-bedroom townhouse in North Riding, Johannesburg. The ideal candidate will be clean living (65 to 80), preferably Christian, and benefit from living in a 200sqm home instead of a retirement village or similar. The rental of R4 800pm would include use of the spacious second bedroom and bathroom, open plan lounge, dining room, kitchen and small garden. Rates, taxes and electricity, plus DStv included. Should you meet these requirements and be interested in exploring the opportunity, please e-mail a short motivation to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kevin on 083 414 3232.
LONDON: Protea House: Single per night R300, twin R480. Self-catering, busses and underground nearby. Phone Peter 0044 208 7484834. BALLITO: Up-market penthouse on beach, self-catering. 084 790 6562. FISH HOEK: Self-catering accommodation, sleeps 4. Secure parking. Tel: 021 785 1247. GORDON’S BAY: Beautiful en-suite rooms available at reasonable rates. Magnificent views, breakfast on request. Tel: 082 774 7140. email@example.com 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
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www.honeywoodsa.co.za honeywood@honey woodsa.co.za Tel 039 695 1036 Fax 086 585 0746. 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 082 822 0607 STELLENBOSCH: Five simple private suites (2 beds, fridge, micro-wave). Countryside vineyard/forest/mountain walks; beach 20 minute drive. Affordable. Christian Brothers Tel 021 880 0242, cbcstel@gmail .com
PLETTENBERG BAY: Sat Chit Anand Interfaith Spiritual Retreat Centre. Make space in your life for Spirit. Enjoy a peaceful holiday with optional meditation, mass, theology classes, yoga. Interfaith chapel, library, and healing centre. Self-catering cottages. Priests stay free. See www.satchitanand.co.za for more info, Phone 044 533 0453 or email satchi email@example.com
Pray that AFRICA may draw closer to the HEART OF CHRIST 2 Chron 7:14 Matthew 7:7-12
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Corpus Christi: June 10 Readings: Exodus 24:3-8, Psalm 116: 1213, 15, 16-18, Hebrews 9:11-15, Mark 14:12-16, 22-26
EXT Sunday is the solemnity of the “Body and Blood of Christ”, a phrase which has, of course, several meanings. There is, first, the species that we receive at Communion, “under the appearance of bread and wine”; then, secondly, the sense of the Church as “body of Christ”, which is also present at this feast. Next Sunday’s readings, however, stress a third aspect of it, namely God’s costly generosity, which is given powerful expression under the telling symbol of blood. In the first reading , the people of God are out in the desert, and Moses has gone up the mountain to find out what God expects of them. Twice in the course of the reading they eagerly proclaim: “All the words which the Lord has spoken we shall do” (and we know that it will not be quite like that). So Moses writes down the words, and then there is a sacrifice, with shedding of blood; bulls are sacrificed, and half of their blood is put in bowls, presumably for God, while the other half is sprinkled on the people of God, who repeat their determination to do what they are supposed to do. God’s covenant is, we see, a costly one.
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Cost of Jesus’ sacrifice Nicholas King SJ
The p salm for next Sunday does not precisely speak of blood, but is well aware of the inequality between the psalmist and God: “How am I to make a return to the Lord for his benefits to me?”, then he tumbles to the (costly) answer: “I shall lift up the cup of my salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.” He contemplates the possibility of his own death, but decides that “the death of his beloved is too precious in the Lord’s eyes”, and simply reasserts his determination to be faithful to God: “I shall repay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” The second reading for the solemnity comes from the gifted theologian who wrote for us the Letter to the Hebrews. This extraordinary work is aimed at expressing the author’s certainty that
“Jesus is the real thing”; in our reading, he is using the metaphor of Jesus as the “great high priest”, and making a contrast between the old cult and the new. The old cult required (as in our first reading) “the blood of goats and bulls”, but what Jesus has done is achieved “once and for all” (a very important idea in this letter) “by his own blood”, which enabled his entrance into the sanctuary. Jesus’ blood does even more, the letter argues: “He offered himself spotless to God, and will purify our consciences from our dead deeds, to worship the living God.” Jesus dies, there is no getting away from it, but this costly generosity is “so that...those who are called may take part in the eternal inheritance”. The g ospel reading is a very appropriate one for this great feast. It starts with Jesus’ not very satisfactory disciples, who realise (rather late in the day) that it is Passover, and that something should be done about it. At the same time, though, the reader is aware that Jesus is going to die, and is anxious to protect him; but Jesus calmly gives instructions, and there is a prior arrangement (“a man carrying a pot of water”),
Praying in wild nature A
NUMBER of years ago, accompanied by an excellent Jesuit director, I did a 30-day retreat using the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. In the third week of that retreat there’s a meditation on Jesus’ agony in the garden. I did the meditation to the best of my abilities and met with my director to discuss the result. He wasn’t satisfied and asked me to repeat the exercise. I did, reported back to him, and found him again dissatisfied. I was at a loss to grasp exactly what he wanted me to achieve through that meditation, though obviously I was missing something. He kept trying to explain to me that Ignatius had a concept wherein one was supposed to take the material of a meditation and “apply it to the senses” and I was somehow not getting that part. Eventually he asked me this question: “When doing this meditation, have you been sitting comfortably inside an airconditioned chapel?” My answer was yes. “Well,” this wise Jesuit replied, “no wonder you aren’t able to properly apply this to your senses. How can you really feel what Jesus felt in his agony in the garden when you are sitting warm, snug, secure and comfortable in an air-conditioned room?” His advice was that I redo the exercise, but do it late in the evening, outside, in the dark, cold, subject to nature’s elements, and perhaps even a little afraid of what I might meet physically out there. He made a good point, not just for my struggle with this particular spiritual exercise, but also about one of the major
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
deficiencies within contemporary spirituality. Simply put: Our prayer and spiritual quests are not connected to nature enough. For all of our good intentions and hard work, we are too platonic, too much trying to have our souls transformed while our bodies sit warm, safe, and uninvolved. The physical elements of nature and our own bodies play too small a role in our efforts to grow spiritually. This is the major critique that Bill Plotkin, an important new voice in spirituality, makes of what he sees happening in much of Christian spirituality today. From our church programmes to what happens in our retreat centres to the spiritual quests people more deliberately pursue, Plotkin sees too little connection to nature, to the sun, to storms, to the wilderness, and to the desert that Jesus himself sought out. Plotkin, who doesn’t work out of an explicitly Christian perspective but is sympathetic to it, runs a wilderness centre out of which he directs people who are searching spiritually. One of the things that his centre offers is a wilderness quest. People are offered the option of going out into the
wilderness for some days alone, taking very little to protect themselves from what they might meet there. While sensible precautions are taken and prudence isn’t irresponsibly bracketed, the people doing these quests nonetheless often find themselves pretty vulnerable to the elements and battling a good amount of fear. And the quests are effective mainly because of that. Real transformation often happens and it is very much attributed to the battle that the one doing the quest had to wage in the face of fear and the physical elements. Plotkin’s book, Soulcraft, contains a number of powerful testimonies of people who share how what they experienced in the wilderness—real exposure and real fear—led to real transformation in their lives. For something to be real it has to be real! Jesus knew that and went on his own “wilderness quest”, 40 days alone in the desert where, as the gospels tell us, he did his own battle with “the wild beasts”. We read accounts in the gospels too of how he spent whole nights outside, alone, praying. It’s no accident that his struggle to give his life over, takes place in a garden and not in an air-conditioned church. Beautiful church buildings have power to transform, but so too do the sun, storms, the wilderness, and the desert. It’s good to seek out both places, and lately Christian spirituality has been too negligent of the latter. And it is not just the things in nature that batter us and cause us fear to which we need to expose ourselves. Nature also waters the earth. There are few things in life that can induce the joy we can experience by drinking in nature. As the Canticle of Daniel (3:57-88) so wonderfully celebrates it, many things in nature nurture the soul and fill it with life: the sun, the moon, the stars, winds, fire and heat, cold and chill, dew and rain, ice and snow, light and darkness, lightning and clouds, mountains and hills, seas and rivers, plants and animals. Each of these can trigger special memories and special joys, if we stay awake to them. We need to let nature touch more of our bodies and our souls, both for our spiritual health and for our health in general. For something to be real it has to be real!
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which means that Jesus has already sorted everything out. So then they come to the meal, the greatest and most joyous of the Jewish liturgical cycle, and you can imagine the gusto with which they come to it (for it is clear that they have not really taken aboard what Jesus has told them is going to happen), and then (although this part is missed out in our reading) he predicts that one of them who is eating with him (!) is going to betray him. Then comes what we call the “institution of the Eucharist”; we cannot get away from the fact that it is the “night before he died”, and we watch as they eat and drink “this is my body...this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many”, followed by Jesus’ mysterious words about not drinking wine again until he drinks it “new in the Kingdom of Heaven”. The reading ends with the most delicate possible reminder of the costliness of the situation, and the disciples’ failure to grasp the situation: “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” The reader knows, even if the hymnsinging disciples do not, what is going to happen there. God’s generosity is appallingly costly, and that is one of the themes that we shall be celebrating next Sunday.
Southern Crossword #500
3. Cheap ring from the pulpit (9) 8. Uncork and be frank (4) 9. Solemn promise that was cursed? (5,4) 10. It’s what belonged to St Peter before (6) 11. Kind of campaign to damage your name (5) 14. Saul’s army commander (2 Sam 2) (5) 15. One who practises Hindu spirituality (4) 16. Evade (5) 18. It lets light into the camera (4) 20. Cheat to impart knowledge (5) 21. Contralto bitterly hides book of the Bible (5) 24. The following day (6) 25. Ride, Louis, till the mind is wandering (9) 26. Nuts to daze you (4) 27. One who hops may be (3-6)
1. Policeman artist (9) 2. Repent, man, or it’s for ever (9) 4. Pulls the oars and quarrels (4) 5. Abraham’s first name (5) 6. Shout of joy (6) 7. Memorandum (4) 9. Earns a trap (5) 11. Crouch on land illegally? (5) 12. Liturgy on the banks of the Tiber (5,4) 13. A half-conservative bird may fly with it (5,4) 17. Those can show a characteristic spirit (5) 19. Parishioners’ kind of gathering (6) 22. Enhancing the wedding cake (5) 23. Skinny meat? (4) 24. Be absorbed in thought (4) Solutions on page 11
CHILD at a Christian school was studying the early days of Mormonism in his class. He wrote on his paper: “The early Mormons believed in having more than one wife. This is called polygamy. But we believe in having only one wife. This is called monotony.” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.