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April 3 to April 9, 2013

Easter season: A time to fix our lives

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reg no. 1920/002058/06

Nobel winner on pope’s role in ‘dirty war’

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The ‘Mass of the possessed daughter’

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Zim bishops see a ‘second chance’ By CLaIre MaTHIeSon


a print of Pope Francis is seen for sale at a religious goods shop near the vatican in rome. (Photo: Lauren Colegrove, CnS)

Traders quick to cash in on the new pope By Lauren CoLegrove


EW papal merchandise made its debut soon after the words “Habemus papam” rang through St Peter’s Square on March 13. The next morning, photos of the smiling Pope Francis—hastily printed and attached to simple rosaries—could be found near the Vatican, and the papal items grew more creative as time went on. Vendors lining the street in front of St Peter’s Square offer items ranging from pencils to candles with the pope’s image on them, and customers could find magnets of “Papa Francesco” nestled between pictures of retired Pope Benedict XVI and “I love Roma” bracelets. The smell of ink from newly printed postcards with quotes by Pope Francis permeated the shops, and pilgrims sorted through bins of religious medals with images of the pope’s face, looking for the perfect reminder of this historic time in Rome. During the conclave, some online religious stores offered customers the option of pre-ordering images of the new pope, either as a formal portrait or “as he arrives on the balcony at St Peter’s basilica and greets the crowds below, most likely with arms raised in greeting and rejoicing”. Buttons, key chains and desk plaques were recommended to those who wanted to display the new

pope in their homes and offices. Phone case covers, pillows and bumper stickers with pictures of the pope also are making their way into online stores. Items relevant to the popes, especially those who go on to become saints, have always been highly sought after. In the Middle Ages, the practice of simony, which included the selling of papal relics, reached an all-time high, to the point that it was condemned as heresy. According to Church law, relics should never be sold, but an offering can be made to cover processing. In 2006, the website of the diocese of Rome offered small pieces of Bl John Paul II’s cassock on a holy card as part of the campaign to beatify him, asking for a contribution to help cover costs of shipping and handling but not requiring it. Recently, novelties related to the pope have taken a secular turn. For R250, people interested in papal scents can buy the “Pope’s Cologne”, a cologne “made from the private formula of Pope Pius IX” which is said to smell like citrus and violets. A brewery in Berlin created “Papst Bier” (Pope beer) to commemorate Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 visit to Germany—and bakeries have already started creating cookies with Pope Francis’ images printed in food-colouring.— CNS

RAIN drain, a decline in agricultural and manufacturing productivity, an increase in corruption and a flight of foreign investment all contributed to the woes of Zimbabwe, which has only recently started to recover, the bishops of Zimbabwe said in a pastoral letter. The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) called for a peaceful environment in the run up to the elections, which may take place as early as before the end of June. They will be the first elections held under the new constitution which was approved in a referendum in March. “It is our sincere hope that the new dispensation will enable the holding of free and fair elections in 2013,” they said, adding that the poll will be as important in determining the country's destiny as the 1980 vote that brought President Robert Mugabe to power. “Zimbabwe has held several elections since independence, which in most cases proved controversial. [We] hope that the elections in 2013 will be free and fair, to enable the rehabilitation of the country into the international community,” the bishops said. “Free and fair elections should be possible with a new constitution and the necessary reforms in place. 2013 offers Zimbabwe a second chance,” they said in the pastoral letter which also encouraged citizens to choose a leader who respects human rights. “We long for a day when Zimbabweans can begin to live their normal lives again as brothers and sisters and not primarily as political and politicking creatures. We need to move beyond the ailments of the past decade that includes partisan governance, corruption, economic meltdown, mass emigration, HIV and Aids and new sicknesses, hate speech, tribal and ethnic divisions,” the bishops said. They noted that 15 years after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe was a shining light on the African continent, making strides in almost all spheres of life. “It was a country full of promise and indeed the envy of most of the countries in Africa south of the Sahara. Zimbabweans enjoyed a great sense of patriotism and earned a great deal of respect from their peers on the continent and the world at large.” However, by the time the country celebrated its silver jubilee, Zimbabwe was a nation divided, traumatised and impoverished by a political, economic and social crisis.


ather Grant Emmanuel, associate secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference was part of the delegation that travelled to Zimbabwe to observe last month’s referendum. “Our experience was very positive and we are very hopeful the same will be seen when elections do take place,” he said. Fr Emmanuel commended the organisation of the referendum with plenty of polling stations country wide. However, he noted, voter turnout was very poor. “There are going to be challenges in the next elections,” he said, citing the apprehensive and wary nature of locals in former political hot spots. Despite memories of violence around previous elections, the Zimbabwean bishops encouraged citizens to boldly move forward. “The Church has been empowering com-

a Zimbabwean election official in Harare counts ballot papers after the close of voting on a constitutional referendum on March 16. general elections, expected later this year, will be as important in determining the country’s destiny as the vote that brought President Mugabe to power in 1980, Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops said. (Photo: Philimon Bulawayo, reuters/CnS) munities with peace-building capacities as a way of healing the wounded from the June 2008 elections and also as a way of preventing a recurrence of violence. This will have to be an ongoing exercise. Communities have been hurt over many years and it will take years to heal and cultivate a culture of peace,” said Bishop Angel Floro of Gokwe, ZCBC president. “More concerted efforts continue to be made towards comprehensive national healing and reconciliation but this has been limited owing to a non-conducive environment and new instances of violence,” he said. In their pastoral letter, the bishops have reminded Zimbabwean leaders that an electoral process that aspires to be technically free and fair must be based on a moral integrity that alone makes freedom and fairness a reality. “Without such moral integrity, an electoral process will lack authenticity and credibility, becoming a source of violence, controversy and ostracisation”. Bishop Floro said individual Christians can make their own decisions as to which party comes closest to the Christian ethos and their aspirations in this life and vote accordingly.


he bishops called for all campaigns to be conducted peacefully. They acknowledge the right to campaign as important because “it helps voters to judge which political party will best serve their interests”. People should, therefore, be free to attend political party meetings of their choice. It is not a crime to belong to any political party, the pastoral letter said. “We implore government to make the Code of Conduct compulsory for all contesting political parties. Political parties that contest in the forthcoming elections should have equal access to state media coverage.” The bishops encouraged citizens to vote for accountable leaders with human dignity and good leadership qualities who will not forget their people once voted into position. “Lack of accountability and transparency has seen our country land into the deep pit of corruption. A government that is only accountable to itself is not democratic,” the bishops said. Fr Emmanuel said Zimbabwe’s Catholic Church is one of two key role players in voter education and monitoring. South African Church-based organisations are heavily involved in trying to make a difference in Zimbabwe.


The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


The kind of leadership needed in SA By CLaIre MaTHIeSon


HAT has gone wrong in our country? What happened to the spirit of sharing, of tolerance, and our beautiful constitution?” These were questions asked by Fr Smangaliso Mkhatshwa in a lecture on aspects of political leadership, hosted by Catholic organisations the Goedgedacht Forum and the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office. Fr Mkhatshwa said one of the problems of leadership in the country was “Africa’s big man syndrome” where leaders “occupy positions in society which are out of proportion for what they were meant to do”. The former Tshwane mayor said corruption is rampant and not at all in the interests of society. “Our leaders are more inter-

ested in reaching family and friends and not the society they serve.” Professor Steven Friedman said while this was true, “South Africa has a fixation with leadership, and this leads us away from democratic values”. Prof Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg, spoke about the definition of democracy. “It’s a simple idea that every adult has an equal right to an equal say.” This suggests, he said, that we should have no leaders at all. Responsibility should instead be distributed and shared. “Democracy is about responsibility and service and not leadership.” The professor said in order for responsibility to be shared, institutions need to be developed. These include parliament and the judici-

ary. “The health of democracy in a country depends on the health of institutions, not the leaders. “The issue in the country today is not how we get good leaders but how we empower our citizens.” Prof Friedman said it is how we empower the average man on the street and give voices to those who cannot afford the time or the money to be heard. He said it is only once we empowered our institutions and our citizens to hold others to account that we will have a healthy democracy. It is not solely dependent on those in leadership roles “We need to stop complaining about the quality of our leadership and instead ask what it is a symptom of. What do we do about building a strong democracy? We need to ask questions dealing with racial di-

vision and inequalities,” said Prof Friedman. “We are preoccupied with leadership and this takes us away from these vital questions— answers to which would improve our democracy.” Fr Mkhatshwa spoke of the United Democratic Front of which he was a founding member in 1983. “This party brought together a spectrum of people. Our values brought us together,” he said. The priest spoke of the “frank, open and robust debate” common among members, the spirit of trust and dedication between comrades, and basic respect found at all levels. “This was a culture of leadership where it was taken for granted that if you wanted to be a leader you also had to be a hard worker.” Many members, including Fr Mkhatshwa, would in 1994 become

members of parliament. “We brought democracy to the street. People worked together. “We want leaders who will make sure everything we do is in accordance with our beautiful constitution,” he said. Fr Mkhatshwa, who was known for his anti-apartheid activism for which he was banned for five years in 1977, noted that education in the country was critical for democracy. He served as deputy minister of education from 1996 to 1999. “Our education system is a form of injustice,” he said. “We need respect and accountability and to be guided by our constitution in evaluating our leaders.” He said it was important to recognise the context in which people live; making sure of a shared vision and values that underscore that vision.

Catholic Business Network call By CLaIre MaTHIeSon

S The Denis Hurley Peace Institute, in collaboration with IMBISa and the Catholic Church Justice and Peace department in Zimbabwe, deployed 320 local observers and six South african observers, including two bishops, to observe the Zimbabwean referendum on a new constitution. The six South african observers covered 53 voting centres and recorded no incidences of any kind. Turnout was low as most people had not seen the new constitution and therefore could not make an informed decision. In those centres where the observers attended the counting, the result was a resounding “yes” for the new constitution. “Zimbabwe can be complemented on producing a well-run referendum. This should bode well for a presidential and general elections expected in July or august. at that time the Denis Hurley Peace Institute intends to deploy, in collaboration with IMBISa, a much larger international observer mission,” said director Fr Seán o’Leary. (From left) Fr o’Leary; Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha; Fr victor Phalana, vicar-general of Pretoria; archbishop alex Thomas of Bulawayo; Fr grant emmanuel, associate secretary-general of the Southern african Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Bishop João rodrigues of Tzaneen and Danisa Khumalo.

TARTED in August 2012, the Catholic Business Network in Cape Town is looking to grow its membership, and welcomes new business men and women to get involved. The initiative was formed by businessmen Sinclair Broadhurst and Vic Barra, who is also the supreme knight of the Knights of Da Gama in South Africa. The network is also supported by Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town. “The network is made up of approximately fifteen business people, all Catholics, who endeavour to support and promote each other’s professional and business undertakings. These business people include business owners, supply chain managers, sales managers, trainers and several artisans,” said Mr Barra. Various businesses are represented which comprise the glass, aluminium,

printing, mining, wine, bottling, piping and hospitality industries. Mr Barra said the group works under the statement “God is with us” which “encourages us to operate within the ethos of Christian morals, ethics and values.” Members of the Catholic Business Network strive to genuinely support one another, and offer quality and competitive products and services. Mr Barra added that members subscribe to working honestly and ethically in all dealings and that “success comes with caring and trusting in God”. The group meets at the Cape Town Italian Club regularly every fortnight and welcomes new members. Often these meetings are also attended by local priests who support this project. n For further information please contact Mr Broadhurst on 083 300 6747 or Mr Barra on 083 308 4014.

We accommodate small Conferences, Retreats and workshops

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archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, president of the Southern african Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and Fr Peter-John Pearson, archdiocesan vicargeneral and director of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison office, attended the inauguration of Pope Francis in the vatican.

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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013



Brother honoured by school By CLaIre MaTHIeSon


T David’s Marist College, in Inanda, Johannesburg, has named a new wing after the late Br Anthony Docherty, a teacher and former principal of the school. The wing was opened in a special service, attended by learners, guests and dignitaries, and presided over by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg. “The development of the Br Anthony Wing started as a concept approximately four years ago, initially comprising six classrooms to answer the need for more teaching venues in the high school. A team of staff then set to work to consider the educational opportunities which this new development could offer,” said Ashleigh Knowles of St David’s. The team researched how to best use the available space and how to enhance innovative teaching methodologies. The completed Br Anthony Wing classrooms can be combined or divided to allow for open plan learning.

“We are immensely proud of our new Br Anthony Wing. While education centres on relationships between pupils and teachers, our new facilities provide the capacity for this relationship to be explored more fully. With our whole campus now wireless, we will be able to maximise the benefits of technology in our classrooms,” said Ms Knowles, adding that the open plan learning area was being used for the iPad pilot programme being run in Grade 8. But beyond the technological possibilities the new wing offers, the building will also serve as a motivation. “We feel that naming this block after Br Anthony Doherty is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the service of God and to the upliftment of others.” The Scottish-born brother arrived in South Africa in 1948 where he worked in Observatory and Rondebosch in Cape Town, before moving to Post Elizabeth and finally to St David’s, first as a teacher and then principal for 15 years. But the turning point in Br Do-

herty’s life came in 1977 when the Marist Brothers decided on a “twostream” policy of traditional schools as well as undertaking a new initiative for the poor. “After scouting out various neglected areas in our land, the brothers decided to work in the then-homeland of Bophuthatswana at Slough,” said Ms Knowles. Br Docherty was one of the pioneers of this outreach. “The area was basically a dumping ground for Tswana people who had been evicted from areas designated as white. Br Docherty worked with great passion and compassion in the mission at Slough and surrounding villages. He used his great gift of working with local people and by the time he could no longer continue working at Slough, no fewer than 15 new schools, 200 classrooms, nine clinics, a school for handicapped children, 12 agricultural gardens and many sewing groups were in place in the Moshaweng Valley of Bophuthatswana, not to mention the

tons and tons of maize meal, tinned food and clothing that he managed to procure from NGOs, the Marist schools in Johannesburg, and particularly from overseas donors whom he won over through true Scottish blood!” said Ms Knowles. Not only did the local people benefit from such infrastructure, but Br Anthony also found funds to have many local women trained as nurses or health care workers in those clinics. Br Docherty was also known for his years spent working with the people at Vrygrond and Langa on the Cape Flats, as well as in KwaZulu-Natal, where he helped with the renovation of several of the diocesan mission schools on the South Coast. Br Docherty died in October 2010, just short of his 82nd birthday. “[His memory] will serve as inspiration to the St David’s boys who are privileged enough to use this space and be part of the legacy of this wonderful Marist brother,” said Ms Knowles.

The late Br anthony Docherty

Youth leaders’ conference a hit By CLaIre MaTHIeSon


HE second annual South African Catholic Youth Leaders’ Conference, which took place in Cape Town, has been hailed as an “inspirational and joyful” experience by youth leaders from all around the country. “One of the most encouraging things about the conference was being able to share the faith with so many other leaders from all over Southern Africa—it was a testament to the fact that God is moving in our Church in South Africa and young people are living their belief in Christ,” said organiser Steven Edwards. Attendees travelled from Kimberly, Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban, with two members of the Eritrean and Ethiopian community in Rustenburg present, as well as two Life Teen members from Uganda. Speakers included Randy Raus, president of Life Teen, the worldwide Catholic movement based in the US; Stephen Lenahan, the youth minister at

a picnic supper and social time were held on Blouberg beach on Saturday night at the South african Catholic youth Leaders’ Conference the cathedral in Atlanta, Georgia; and Fr Charles Prince, youth chaplain for Cape Town. “Christ’s joy was present throughout the weekend and I’m confident that that joy is going to overflow into the lives of the young people who these leaders lead in their parishes,” said Mr Edwards.

There was also a positive response from the leaders that attended. One participant said a highlight was “being able to see so many young youth leaders who are excited about Jesus and his Church. It is so inspiring to know that there are so many people trying to lead teens to Christ.” Another said

the “participation by all the leaders made the conference come alive” and “the speakers and those behind the scenes really made a difference in my life and how I interact with teens and young adult Catholics”. “I really appreciate the things I’ve learnt during the conference, specifically the parts focused on relational ministry as it is something many people, including myself, have overlooked either as a whole or partially. “The new perspective on this topic will greatly aid in my ability to draw teens to open up and thereafter be more involved in their faith,” said Steven Layne. Talks covered how to lead teens into deeper prayer, how to disciple them and lead them to Christ rather than just ourselves, as well as how we can be more authentic witnesses of the faith. “Overall, it was very inspiring, practical and relevant for youth leaders in South Africa,” said Mr Edwards.


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Southern Cross sales at the parish of the resurrection in Bryanston, Johannesburg, have once again surged, thanks to the hard work by newspaper sellers and great interest from the parish priest. according to Kathy de villiers, the parish secretary, this is largely due to parish priest Fr Michael Fitzpatrick, who pushes the paper from the pulpit. “We place a notice in our weekly bulletin mentioning a specific article of interest,” Mrs De villiers said, adding that Fr Fitzpatrick “is happy about the fact that for the past few weeks we have had an increased order”. (From left) Southern Cross sellers andy Mcnally, edwin owelle and Fritz Broens.

Sr Theresa Byrne with some of the children who received new school uniforms at the beginning of the school year. The aids project in Modjadiskloof, diocese of Tzaneen, is supported with funding from the global Fund through the SaCBC aids office.

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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


Syrian refugees ‘longing for a smile’ By Doreen aBI raaD


HE scent of cinnamon from freshly prepared bowls of custard filled a communal kitchen at the Syriac Centre in Ajaltoun, Lebanon, before the daily meal preparations began. Reem checked on a casserole in the oven, while Marina filled cups with water from a kettle. “In this floor we are like a whole family: cleaning, working, cooking, chatting together,” said Rosemaria as she chopped tomatoes. The women share a common bond as Christian refugees who face an uncertain future after fleeing the civil war in Syria. St Gabriel Syriac Orthodox church houses the centre, which houses about 150 refugees in this mountain village 30km north of Beirut. As the women worked, they shared stories of lives turned upside down. They asked to be identified by pseudonyms to protect family members still in Syria. Rosemaria’s son was enrolled in a university in Damascus until October when a bomb hit close to where he was living, sending pieces of shrapnel into his apartment window. He returned home to Hassake after that close call. But before long, people were kidnapped and held for ransom. Some of the missing turned up dead. So the family left, riding the bus to Damascus for 22 hours, then taking a taxi to Lebanon. Rosemaria said when she asked the bus operator if the journey was safe, “he told me, ‘God only knows’. So I brought my Bible with me for the trip and my aunt carried her Blessed Mother statue—the most important things.” “We sold our house at a small price just to escape and took only whatever we could gather,” she said. Marina, a mother of three girls, is from Qamishli. One daughter, 12, a top student in her class who never wanted to miss a day of school, was particularly affected by the fighting, she said. “When the windows in her school were blown out, my daughter said to me, ‘It makes no difference. Every day we are getting threatened, so let’s die’,” Marina re-

called. “I told her, we should fear nothing, because only what is God’s will will be done. I wasn’t afraid for me, but for my daughters and husband,” she said. Like other refugees in Lebanon, Marina and her family faced a new set of challenges. They arrived too late in the school year for the girls to enrol in classes. Besides, most schools are overwhelmed with refugees. “It’s so hard, because every day my 15-year-old daughter is crying to go to school. I try to convince her that her life is better here; at least now there are no kidnappings and killing, and we can stay in a place that is safe,” Marina said. Rosemaria said she worries about her sons finishing university, which is free in Syria at government-run institutions. Her husband, who worked as a schoolteacher, sat quietly at a small kitchen table, playing solitaire. Every so often he stood up from his chair and paced. “He has a master’s degree,” she said of her husband. “And he’s a poet and a writer.” That prompted him to take out his wallet to show photos of the couple in earlier days, when no lines of worry etched their faces.


aughter erupted, prompting Reem to acknowledge the reality the three families share. “We are longing for a smile,” she said. “We miss smiling and laughing, because everything is sad and heavy. I forget for a minute. Then, anytime I smile or laugh I feel guilty afterward, because I remember my family who are still there.” George, a middle-aged father of three who managed a transportation company, passed the kitchen and joined the conversation. “We don’t want to talk politics, but it’s a fact the Christians are being targeted,” he said. “First of all, the revolution was to put in democracy and freedom. But it appeared very quickly that those who are working on the ground as opposition are not opposition. They are Jabhat al-Nasra, a branch of al-Qaeda. “They are beheading anyone who has ideas contrary to theirs, even moderate Muslims. They are kidnapping, and they are demand-

ing ransoms,” he said. Reem’s brother, Youssef, 25, showed up with a laptop with videos and photos of how life once was. “We had religious freedom in Syria. No [Christian] home was without a cross on its door. Now [in Syria] we are hiding our Christianity. One way or another, we are targeted,” he said. Closing the laptop, Youssef listed concerns: Refugees have no jobs, and Lebanon’s unemployment is high, money is running out and life in Lebanon is far more expensive than in Syria. Even local cellphone calls cost R3,25 a minute in Lebanon compared to about R10 for 20 minutes in Syria.


ike other refugees, Youssef hopes to start a new life in another country. While a few of the families at St Gabriel have received visas to European countries in recent months, those opportunities appear to be drying up. Youssef’s application to Belgium was denied because he is single and priority is being given to families. Yet families also are being denied visas, he said. Many of the refugees are considering picking up and leaving yet again, believing their chances to emigrate to Europe would be better in Turkey. Meanwhile, waves of refugees continue to flow into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon had reached 1 million, equal to onequarter of the country’s population, and that Lebanon lacked the “physical, human or geographical capabilities to provide the appropriate assistance”. St Gabriel parish also needs help. Although it is receiving assistance from Caritas Lebanon and Caritas Germany, non-government organisations and private donors, much more help is needed, said Tony Boulos, who directs the centre providing outreach to refugees. “Every day I dream that all their problems are solved,” Mr Boulos says. “They are like my family.”— CNS

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a Syrian refugee woman, who asked not to be identified, is pictured in the room where she lives in the Syriac Centre of St gabriel Syriac orthodox church in ajaltoun, Lebanon. When violence escalated in her hometown of Qamishli, she fled, carrying with her a statue of Mary, which she keeps in her room. The Syrian refugee population hit the 1 million mark in early March. More than three times that number are considered to be displaced in the country. (Photo: Dalia Khamissy, CnS)

Convert baptised by Benedict XVI leaves Church again


PROMINENT Egyptian-born Italian citizen baptised into the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict XVI after being raised in a Muslim family has announced that his journey with Catholicism had ended with the resignation of the pope who baptised him. “The factor more than any other that has led me from the Church is religious relativism and particularly giving legitimacy to Islam as a true religion,” Magdi Cristiano Allam wrote in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale. Mr Allam, a journalist-turnedpolitician who promotes tighter immigration laws and a ban on constructing new mosques, was received into the Catholic Church by Pope Benedict at the Easter Vigil in St Peter’s basilica in 2008. As he had done in an open letter to Pope Benedict shortly after

joining the Church, Mr Allam in his farewell article denounced Islam as “an intrinsically violent ideology”. Mr Allam wrote that choosing to leave the Catholic Church was a long, difficult decision. The resignation of Pope Benedict and election of Pope Francis marked “an unexpected acceleration in the maturation of this decision”. “I believe in the Jesus whom I have loved since childhood,” said Mr Allam, who attended Catholic schools in Cairo as a child before moving to Italy as a young adult. “I will continue to believe in Jesus, whom I have always loved, and to proudly identify myself within Christianity, which is the civilization that most closely draws men to God,” he said.—CNS

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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013



Nobel winner: Pope worked quietly during ‘dirty war’ By CaroL gLaTZ


OPE Francis preferred carrying out “a silent diplomacy” in helping victims versus leading a more public outcry during Argentina’s “dirty war”, said an Argentine Nobel Peace Prize laureate. “The pope had nothing to do with the dictatorship... he was not an accomplice,” Adolfo Pérez Esquivel told journalists after a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. While the Vatican released no details about the meeting, Mr Pérez, 81, said that he and the pope spoke about the so-called “dirty war” period “in general terms” during their 30-minute encounter. Mr Pérez, who won the 1980

Nobel Peace Prize for his work on human rights during the 1976-83 dictatorship, said the future pope, then-Jesuit Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, “was not among the bishops who were in the front line of the defence of human rights because he preferred a silent diplomacy to ask about the missing, about the oppressed”. He said leaders and members of the Catholic Church reacted and behaved differently during the period as regards to either collaborating or resisting the regime. “There were bishops who were accomplices with the dictatorship, but not Bergoglio,” he said. Fr Bergoglio was head of the Jesuit province in the country from 1973-79, the height of the clandestine war that saw as many as 30 000 Argentines kidnapped, tor-

argentine nobel Peace Prize laureate adolfo Pérez esquivel speaks with media after a private meeting with Pope Francis at the vatican. (Photo: remo Casilli, reuters/CnS) tured, murdered or disappeared, never to be seen again. He then served as rector of Colegio Maximo and a parish priest in the diocese of San Miguel until leaving for Germany to complete his doctoral

thesis in 1986. Some claims had been made that Pope Francis played either a direct role in the kidnappings of two Jesuit priests during the country’s murderous military dictatorship or that he failed to protect the two young priests—Frs Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics—from kidnapping by Argentina’s military junta in 1976. Both priests were later freed. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi SJ has said that “this was never a concrete or credible accusation”, adding that the future pope had been “questioned by an Argentine court as someone aware of the situation but never as a defendant. He has, in documented form, denied any accusations”. “Instead, there have been many declarations demonstrating how

much (the future Pope Francis) did to protect many persons at the time of the military dictatorship,” the spokesman said. Fr Jalics has recently emphasised that he and the late Fr Yorio had never been denounced by the future pope to the military junta. Mr Pérez made a public statement on his website, saying the pope “was not directly complicit” with the regime. He said the pope “did not have ties with the dictatorship”, even though he might have “lacked the courage to stand with us in our struggle for human rights”. After his meeting with the pope, Mr Pérez told reporters “there is no proof” of the pope’s complicity with the regime “because he was never an accomplice, of this I am sure”.—CNS

Papal security ready for scrums Pope’s sister: He picked slums over braais By CaroL gLaTZ


OPE Francis’ style of breaking away from his security detail and diving towards the crowds means his protectors have had to do a quick rewrite of strategy, sometimes on the spot. Concern and urgency were visibly etched on the face of the head of the Vatican police, Domenico Giani, after the pope celebrated Mass in the Vatican’s church of St Anne. Mr Giani swiftly shouted out fresh commands for undercover guards and police to regroup as Pope Francis made a beeline towards a large cheering crowd pressing against a barricade outside the entrance into Vatican City. This came after the pope personally greeted, often hugging, each of the approximately 200 members of the congregation right after Mass. The pope has preferred to walk short distances within Vatican City instead of taking a waiting sedan and has also eschewed a multi-car security escort for longer trips, preferring just one vehicle to get him to his destination. He had no qualms about stopping the open-


air popemobile mid-ride during his inauguration to climb out, kiss and bless a disabled adult in the throng. The new papal approach “is perfectly fine; it’s his way of doing things”, said Corporal Urs Breitenmoser of the Swiss Guard. “We are worried if there is more contact with people, because that means there’s a greater possibility something can happen,” he said, but “we have to fully adapt ourselves” to what the pope wants. Security will in no way try to prevent him from greeting people. Pope Pius XII began the practice of having “audiences outside” among the general public, Cpl Breitenmoser said. Since then, the men guarding the pope, both in uniform and undercover, have had to develop “a system that’s worked for years” of being able to provide discreet yet diligent protection, he said. “It’s wonderful to be able to experience up close” the pope meeting and interacting with the people even though “it makes us a little nervous, which is normal”, he said.—CNS

By CaroL gLaTZ


VEN though Pope Francis is very close to his family, he would often skip their barbecues to spend Sundays or holidays in Buenos Aires’ slums, the pope’s sister said. “That’s the way he is: totally devoted to the mission of a priest; he is the pastor of the least,” said Maria Elena Bergoglio. The youngest of five, Ms Bergoglio, 65, is the pope’s only surviving sibling, said a report in the Italian Catholic newspaper, Avvenire. She told the newspaper that said she and her brother are extremely close, which she attributes to their parents’ emphasis on the “the value of love”. “We’ve always had a very close relationship despite the 12-year age difference. I was the youngest and Jorge always pampered and protected me,” she said of her brother. “Every time I had a problem, I’d go running to him, and he was always there.” Even though his ministry and duties as Jesuit provincial and then as archbishop of Buenos Aires kept her brother busy and often pre-

Maria elena Bergoglio, receives letters to her brother from children in Buenos aires. (Photo: Carolina Camps, reuters/CnS) vented him from visiting, the two siblings always spoke by phone every week, she said. His priority was the neediest in his archdiocese, which meant he often spent Sundays or holidays in the city’s slums, instead of attending the family asado, or barbecue. She said she named her first-born son Jorge, “in honour of my special brother”, who also was moved to be asked to be the child’s godfather. The pope’s nephew, Jorge, 37, told the paper that his uncle “is someone who is very open, we talk about everything, long talks”. Ms Bergoglio said the media has

been reporting on her brother’s love of tango, opera and football, but very few people know he is an excellent cook. “He makes fantastic stuffed calamari; it’s his favourite dish,” she said. She said she and her family stayed home in Ituzaingó, near Buenos Aires, to watch the pope’s inaugural Mass on television out of respect for his public request that Argentines give to the poor the money they would have spent on airfare. “We are near him in prayer,” she said. Her house was still busy with phone calls and visitors, and occasional motorists would still drive by, honking their horns, shouting “Viva el papa”, Avvenire reported. Maria Elena and her husband painted the gate to the house yellow and white in honour of the election.. She said she spoke to her brother the day after he was elected pope. “I wasn’t able to say a thing and he wasn’t either” because they were so overwhelmed with emotion, she said. “He just kept repeating, ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine, pray for me.’”—CNS

Souther n Cross on Pilgrimage 2014


in July 2014



and Holy Land Trek author Günther Simmermacher Join The Southern Cross and the Archbishop of Cape Town (right) on a special pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Meet with local Christians before travelling to Italy to see the Pope in Rome and to pray at the places of Padre Pio.

HOLY LAND: Jerusalem (with via Dolorosa, church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary’s tomb). Bethlehem. nazareth. Cana (with an opportunity to renew marriage vows). Mount of Beatitudes. Capernaum. Boatride on the Sea of galilee. Mount Tabor. Jordan river Baptismal Site. ein Kerem. Dead Sea. and much more.

ITALY: rome with PAPAL AUDIENCE, the four major basilicas (including Mass in St Peter’s), catacombs, ancient sites. Monte Cassino. Sites associated with Padre Pio (giovanni rotondo, Pietrelcina)

ISTANBUL: as a bonus, enjoy a day of sightseeing in the capital of Turkey, the ancient Constantinople. Both pilgrimages will be accompanied by licensed local guides on luxury tour buses and accommodated in 3-star hotels or better.


A special pilgrimage designed specifically for young Catholics from 16-36, with Fr Sammy Mabusela, national youth chaplain, as spiritual director. The programme includes all the important holy sites, outdoor Masses, hikes in the footsteps of Jesus, encounters with local Christians and peace activists of other faiths, and much more. A time of faith, friends and fun

HOLY LAND: Jerusalem (with via Dolorosa, church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mary’s tomb). Bethlehem. nazareth (with visit to a recreation of 1st century life). Cana. Mount of Beatitudes. Capernaum. Boatride on the Sea of galilee. Mount Tabor. Jordan river Baptismal Site. ein Kerem. Dead Sea. and much more.

CAIRO: as a bonus, enjoy a visit to Cairo with the pyramids, sphinx and a nile Cruise.

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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


Editor: Günther Simmermacher

Church and the media


HILE the Church rejoices at the ways in which Pope Francis reveals himself to be a pontiff not of grandeur but total humility, two media storms in March threatened to stain the good cheer. Almost instantly after Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio’s election, media reports “revealed” what was alleged to be his collusion with the military junta whose murderous regime ruled Argentina from 1976-1983. The key allegation concerned the then-Fr Bergoglio’s failure to protect two politically engaged Jesuits, who were detained and tortured. It appears that the future Pope Francis in fact did intervene on behalf of these two priests (and many others) and secured their release from a regime that was not in the habit of asking religious leaders for permission before detaining and murdering clergy, including a bishop. One of the priests, Fr Francisco Jalics, has gone on record as saying that it is “wrong to claim that our capture was initiated by Fr Bergoglio”. More slanderous were reports which linked Fr Bergoglio to actions and omissions with which he had nothing to do, creating a perception that the newly-elected pope had a record of virtually throwing political detainees out of helicopters. These things tend to stick, especially in the age of social media where agendas and ignorance often trump the truth. We saw this previously, when Pope Benedict’s involuntary membership of the Hitler Youth and the German army was presented as “evidence” of a Nazi past. Once such impressions take hold, they are difficult to shake off. As Catholics we must challenge untrue statements by respectfully citing the facts. Such defence needs no reference to the agendas of others, even if they plainly exist. It was counter-productive when the Vatican issued a statement which topped its sober refutation of the allegations made against Pope Francis with an unnecessary allusion to ideological opposition. Likewise, there is little to be gained from ascribing a sinister plot to the BBC interview in which Cardinal Wilfrid Napier argued the point that paedophiles might require psychological treat-

ment instead of incarceration. The interview took an unexpected twist when a discussion on Pope Francis turned to the subject of sexual abuse. Clearly neither interviewer Stephen Nolan nor Cardinal Napier were prepared for it. In the event, Cardinal Napier did not express himself clearly, perhaps taking for granted that the interviewer (and his audience) were in possession of the insights which many in the Church have acquired over years of studying the phenomenon of sexual abuse. The media picked up the story and presented it, not always without glee, in the way in which they had understood it: that Cardinal Napier was suggesting that those who sexually abuse children should not be prosecuted (of course, the cardinal did not intend to imply this). Crucially, most media reports neglected to include the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s policy on sexual abuse, which is on the record. It is an extraordinary omission which suggests, at best, a certain level of editorial negligence. It is too simple, however, to just blame the media for the bad press. Sometimes the media merit censure, sometimes the problem is of the Church’s own making; often both currents collide. The media tends to be deficient in its coverage of the Church, lacking reporters who know the religious beat. In South Africa that applies to virtually every secular newspaper, signifying a deplorable professional neglect. Most Church leaders are not instructed in communications through the media. It is therefore necessary that professional Catholic communicators be engaged in the formulation of a coherent media strategy, and provide training to selected spokespersons. The SACBC has recently instituted an advisory body to that effect. It must be hoped that its work will be encouraged and ultimately put into practice. But the laity must play a role, too, in ways which our guest columnist this week describes. Catholics must be ready to correct false statements about the Church—calmly, respectfully and from a position of knowledge about the Church, her structures and her teachings.

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.

Church hypocrisy on child abuse ARDINAL Roger Mahony’s sen- versial views, the resurrection being timents on child abuse (March one of them. Fr Schillebeeckx C 13) highlight the hypocrisy of the (1915-2010) was a leading adviser “governing body” of the Church, whoever they may be. Hopefully our new pope, Francis, will guide the Church back to authentic Christianity. In an era when child abuse by various members of the clergy was being perpetrated, Belgian theologian Fr Edward Schillebeeckx was being investigated for his contro-

to the Dutch bishops, especially during the four sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Fr Schillebeeckx was a forwardthinking person and it is quite evident his writings were meant to be for the benefit of Christians of all denominations. “I do not begrudge any believer the right to describe and live out his


Catholics in Zimbabwe and South Africa. There must be some reason but, for the life of me, I cannot think of it. Can anybody? Mike Maidment, Kloof, KZN

Mugabe and pope

S a practising Catholic for more than seven decades I have an appreciation of the powerfully good influence the Church has had on my life, and the lives of many. The failings of human weakness, and less than perfect judgment are, admittedly, evident and depressing but, thank God, they are rare. Sometimes decisions are seemingly inscrutable, but nonetheless soundly intentioned. There must therefore be a logical explanation for the Vatican permitting Robert Mugabe to enter Rome, and to facilitate crossing Italian soil to do so, despite the European travel ban on him. Even to be given the opportunity to shake the hand of Pope Francis! Is this a rare case of poor judgment? I know that one cannot judge another person’s spiritual state, but the Church is very mindful of signs and symbols. It uses them in many ways, including the administration of the sacraments. Many years ago Pope John Paul II visited Lesotho but was forced to land briefly, and contrary to his wishes, at Jan Smuts Airport because of bad weather over Maseru. He alighted from the aircraft but did not kiss the ground as was his custom when visiting foreign continents. In later years John Paul II did visit South Africa but only after the government had changed hands. All may not agree with the pope’s thumbs down during his first arrival in South Africa, but many others would. A powerful sign indeed. Mr Mugabe is no democrat, having “led” Zimbabwe for 30 years. His track record of alleged mass murder, suppression of the opposition, rigged elections, and grandscale corruption and self-enrichment is there for all to see. If there had been oil in the soil of Zimbabwe, the West would have “rescued” the population and relieved them of tyranny. Why then did the Vatican so publicly welcome the man, to the disgust of many—especially

Changing mores


S Catholics we understand and accept that from time to time the learned men of our Catholic faith deem it necessary to make changes. However, there are times when one asks “why”? The Nicene Creed changed back to the old version, and “consubstantial” is back. Why? When the missal replaced our old prayer books we were instructed that the best bible was the Jerusalem Bible because all the readings in the “new” Missal were taken from that bible. At a time when this country (along with the rest of the world) is feeling the effects of a seriously challenged economy, bearing in mind that 60% of our people are unemployed and in serious need of assistance, we have a new missal. The cost: R250. Why? The artwork in the new missal may be beautiful but the artistic interpretation is not only historically (and archaeologically) incorrect, it also sadly denies the birthright of the Holy Family and others. They were Jews, and Middle Eastern people of the Mediterranean, for the most part people with dark hair, skin and eyes. They were not African. The learned seem to assume that African people are not able to grasp the facts of biblical ancestry and must opinions expressed in The Southern Cross, especially in Letters to the editor, do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or staff of the newspaper, or of the Catholic hierarchy. The letters page in particular is a forum in which readers may exchange opinions on matters of debate. Letters must not be understood to necessarily reflect the teachings, disciplines or policies of the Church accurately. Letters can be sent to PO Box 2372, Cape Town 8000 or or faxed to 021 465-3850

belief in accordance to old models of experience, culture and ideas,” Fr Schillebeecks once said, “but this attitude isolates the Church’s faith from any future and divests it of any real missionary power.” I find it absurd that a man of Fr Schillebeeckx’s stature was “under investigation” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at a time when senior priests such as Cardinal Mahony were covering up serious moral misdeeds that were occurring in the Church. Patrick Dacey, Johannesburg

for some reason be appeased. Why? June Jansen, St Francis Bay

Vocation wrongs


UR parents, the faithful, are always asked to pray for vocations. And when they let go of their kids who hear Christ’s call, the Church seems to go out of its way to chase away the same vocations. For a number of times in just three years I have witnessed great young men enter the seminary with a faithful spirit only to get chucked out. Perhaps in some cases that is necessary, but to most who experience such, it is just uncalled for. It has become very easy for a bishop to decide to expel his seminarian because he is said to be a drunkard or a homosexual by his rector. Does a calling not go beyond that? If a bishop or a religious superior sends a candidate away because he drinks alcohol, is homosexual (or is accused of being such), is understood to be too much of a “township boy”, can’t play soccer or is understood to be unhappy because he does not eat large portions of food, then who are these young men being thrown to? Whether a diocese or an institution, he sees a home within that institution, brothers in the people working within that institution and a father who would do anything to nurture his vocations, in the form of a bishop or religious superior. No parent chucks away his son for another parent. They journey together in the journey of life. Unfortunately in the Church of South Africa this has become only a dream and a nightmare to many great guys. And the very same guys who have given their lives for the Church are left to fend for themselves and pick up the pieces on their own. It is a sad reality, and something needs to be done. Name withheld


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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


Today’s seven deadly sins


PATHY, cruelty, duplicity, hypocrisy, false morality, abuse of power and cultivated ignorance— these are said to be the seven deadly sins of our era. Apathy is one of the most resented attitudes by God. Revelation 3:16 says: “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God loathes insipidness; it is the attitude that destroys values of humanity. The 18th century Irish philosopher Edmund Burke counselled us: “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” The Rev Martin Luther Jr went further in saying, in the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. The apathy of believers before evil is a grave sin before the eyes of the Lord. Cruelty in our world takes different forms; against one another, against a different community, against a different tribe, against a different race or ethnic group, against different nationality, against the poor, and so on. I liked how Pope Francis, in his inaugural Mass homily, looked at the different heads of states gathered before him and said: “Tragically, in every period of history there are ‘Herods’ who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women… Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world.” Duplicity, that is deceitful in speech or conduct, goes together with

hypocrisy. It is something not only limited to politicians but those who hold economic powers of the world also. Unfortunately duplicity often visits the gates of the Church too. This is why for many the election of Francis, with his simplicity of language and integrity of action, is seen as the real Spring of the Church. As the Church we need to take out the plank in our own eye so we may see better the speck in the world’s eye.


alse morality is something we see most in action or advocate groups and some civil organisation of our times. For example, I am always extremely surprised to hear people talk about promoting women’s rights when advocating for abortion. It is strange to me that the “Culture of Death”, as Pope John Paul II put it, is encouraged on the basis of promoting women rights. This is the tragic irony of our times that is consequential to adopting false morality. Abuse of power is something we see almost every day in our governments also. It is most insidious when those trusted with the stewardship of our democracy through its institutions use the entrusted power against those who gave it to them, as seen in the recent unspeakable police brutality. It is also an indictment against the way we live how women and children are raped and brutally killed in our country. There is a deep spreading decay in our moral fibre that can be arrested only if we, as communities, take a stand, as we did during the 1980s. We need to reclaim

How we must react to media


HE last few weeks saw the international media focus on events in the Catholic Church. We have watched as some of the world’s biggest broadcast corporations struggled to understand how the Church operates and how its structures are often very different from the political systems that the media is more accustomed to covering. Some media reported on the conclave with fascinated interest and covered Pope Francis’ election with the same respect that they would accord to any world leader. Other segments of the media were vitriolic in their coverage which was marked by a clear agenda to identify some form of scandal. One British publication could not resist stating that Pope Francis’ election “risked running into immediate controversy” for allegedly having “connived in the abduction of two Jesuit priests by the [Argentinean] military junta” during this country’s military dictatorship. That allegation has long been discredited. Another controversy surrounded an interview by BBC radio with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, in which the archbishop of Durban was interpreted as saying that he thought abuse by paedophiles was not a crime. Interviewer Stephen Nolan used his skills as a hard-hitting journalist to force Cardinal Napier into a corner in which everything he said was likely to be misinterpreted. Mr Nolan did not give the cardinal an immediate chance to clarify his position. Of all the South African Sunday newspapers, only the Sunday Independent gave Cardinal Napier the right to respond. The other papers merely reproduced the story that had been reported by the British media. Even more disappointing was the hasty judgement given by political commentator Justice Malala, who on his Sunday programme on eNCA declared that he was “ashamed to be a Catholic” in light of Cardinal Napier’s comments, and named

Pope Francis greets a participant during his audience for journalists on March 16. him his “loser of the week”. Did Mr Malala conducted the same rigorous research into this story as he would on other hard-hitting political issues, or did he allow himself to be carried away by media hype?


gainst the background of stories like these, which cyclically make their way into the media, what is our response as Catholics? Do we accept the reporting we see at face value without questioning the role that media bias may play in these stories? Or do we blindly attack the media and accuse it of hating our Church? I don’t think either response is particularly helpful. Instead, our main response should be to speak the truth with love. And we can speak truthfully only if we are firmly rooted in the Church’s teachings and can respond without fear and without ambiguity when we are questioned about our faith and the life of the Church. A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to a late night talk show on a South African commercial radio station during which the presenter asked about the role of women in the Church. I sensed that this presenter was genuinely interested in this issue and was open to conversation. Unfortunately a Catholic caller, al-

Mphuthumi Ntabeni

Pushing the Boundaries

our communities and our streets from the rampart criminal elements. The churches were at the forefront of the arrest of this spread of decay under apartheid, and so should they be today. Media is the source of modern cultivated ignorance. In our era of Internet intellectualism everyone presumes himself or herself an expert because they have read untested articles in the Web. You find them speaking in jargon terminology that, when dissected, actually obfuscate more than it explains. You also see the cultivated ignorance in famous modern atheist who have no qualms in basing their intellectual lives in criticising the Church but hardly ever consult first hand what the Church actually says on the given topics (take, for instance, the canard that the Catholic Church opposes science). Scripture says God gives us shepherds suited to the needs of our times. Hence, to those able to read the signs, it came as no surprise to be given Pope Francis by the Holy Spirit, the Lord ever creating and making things new. Our times, not just the Church, are in need of shepherd with deep sense of humility whose eye is focused on the crucified Christ; focused on the simplicity of God that confounds the world by drawing redeeming goodness even out of the deepest sin know to men, that of killing God in this world.

Sarah-Leah Pimentel

Point of Debate

though doubtless well-meaning, was unable to provide meaningful explanations and became very defensive when the presenter asked further questions. This example points to a deeply-entrenched problem among many Catholics: we do not really know our faith. Incidents such as these do not help us to speak with a credible voice. We need to understand that the media has a powerful influence on forming public perceptions on any given topic. We—laity, religious or clergy—need to be able to speak clearly and in unison about the issues that affect our Church and its role in society. In his 2011 apostolic exhortation to the Church in Africa, Africae Munus, Pope Benedict XVI said that “the contribution of Christians in Africa will be decisive only if their understanding of the faith shapes their understanding of the world”. As Catholics, we are called to know our faith and to interpret the events of our times through the eyes of faith. In a world that is becoming increasingly antagonistic to religion, we will increasingly be called to speak boldly about our faith to others. Those of us who hold position of influence—both in the Church and in society—have an additional responsibility to speak truth to power, to stand up for what is true in the face of strong opposition from the powers of this world. Benedict XVI reminds us of the words of St Paul: that we are “‘ambassadors of Christ’ (2 Cor 5:20) in the public sphere, in the heart of the world”. So perhaps the best contribution that each of us can make to our Church during this Year of Faith is to re-acquaint ourselves with the teachings of the Church and deepen our understanding and knowledge of the Church’s mission for the world. n Sarah-Leah Pimentel is a media analyst.


Samuel Francis IMC

Point of evangelisation

Why we must give our parishes money


ROWING up under the shadows and watchful care of my parents, I always found joy in attending Sunday celebrations. Not exactly because I understood what was going on but because on Sunday we’d put on our best clothes and carry with us some coins for the offerings. There was no going to church without monetary offering. It had become part of us that we associated it with Mass. It was not much but those little coins were as important to me as the Mass was to others. I didn’t know what the money was for and I didn’t want to know either, I just wanted to give like everybody else was giving. However, I was told that it was an offering to God, I didn’t care much what God was going to do with it anyway. Many of us grew up knowing that coins were meant for church offertory while notes for our personal needs, many people have not shifted their paradigm yet. But what exactly is the place of money in ministry? The saying goes that God made man, man made money and money made man mad. St Paul’s first letter to Timothy opines that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Lately the Bible has become a tool for business. Many preachers quote the Bible to assert their claim that the faithful must give generously to their churches in order to secure prosperity. Some preachers have even set up ATM machines within their worship environs to help achieve that goal! God’s love is trumped by material prosperity.


atholic priests, on the other hand, seem to shy away from the topic of money. They are reticent to ask the faithful for money. They do not find it easy. Yet, ministry needs funding to thrive and the Catholic Church’s many charitable endeavours require money. Seeking funds is a natural and inescapable part of Christian ministry. Part of this ministry is always mindfulness of the poor. Why do Catholic priests, unlike pastors in evangelical churches, find it so hard to ask for money? Part of the reason is in our history. When missionaries came to evangelise Africa, they did not only bring the Gospel and built churches, hospitals and schools, but they also provided us with food, shelter and clothing. As a result, we thought that it is the Church’s duty to take care of the needs of her faithful. The early missionaries had support base from their countries and they did not need so much the financial support from the locals. This is no longer the case. Funders are diminishing and many parishes are no longer in the hands of western missionaries but of local priests, many of whom are from very humble backgrounds. The time has come for the local Church to support her own ministry without relying so much on unpredictable external financial support. Of course, the Church’s generosity requires good stewardship, accountability and administration. One does not take the freely offered gifts for ministry lightly. Jesus emphasised the importance of preachers being supported materially by those who benefit from their preaching (Lk 10:7). If someone works to bring you the Word of God and to help supply your spiritual and sacramental needs, then you should contribute to take care of their material needs. It is a principle that is emphasised repeatedly in the scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Even so has the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel” (I Cor 9:14). Let us reflect on how best we can contribute towards evangelisation, both now and in future.

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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


a pilgrimage to the Holy Land was organised by St Martin de Porres parish in gelvandale, Port elizabeth, under the guidance of Fr Davis Mekkattukulam CMI (front left). Pilgrims are pictured at the church of the nativity in Bethlehem.

Fr aquilin Mpanza celebrated Palm Sunday with the blessing of the palms at Holy Trinity Church in nkandla, KwaZulu-natal. (Photo: Sydney Duval).

The multicultural parish of St Peter’s in South Beach, Durban, held a procession on Palm Sunday with over 200 parishioners commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jersusalem. The procession, lasting over two hours, was led by parish priest Fr Sifiso ndlovu (inset). (Photos: emmanuel Many Bakuli.)

Members of the parish pastoral councils of Lynnwood and Zwavelpoort church in Pretoria celebrated Mgr Marc de Mûelenaere's 70th birthday, 45 years in the priesthood and 20 years as priest at Lynnwood parish.

PRINCIPAL Pre-primary learners at Marist Brothers Linmeyer in Johannesburg spoilt their teacher with chocolates and flowers on St valentine’s Day.


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The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9 2013


Easter time: turn your life around The Easter holidays are over and the Easter eggs have been eaten. But the Easter season is still going on until Pentecost. It is a time for radical change, writes FR RAYMOND MANGWALA OMI.


HAT does one do after Easter? Pick up the shattered pieces and go on with life, go fishing, continue with the story of life from where it had been interrupted or learn to walk in faith? The 40 days of Lent are over, Easter has been celebrated—what next? Christ has suffered, died and is risen. We have sung alleluia; what more is there to be done? Like the first disciples, do we wander about aimlessly, or maybe we are too anxious to go back to business as usual? What does the Church in the liturgy do? The liturgy of the Church celebrates Easter for eight days during the Easter Octave, but the Eastertide goes on until Pentecost Sunday, a period of 50 days. It is not by chance that the Church takes this long to celebrate the transforming events of the Paschal mystery. This mystery is at the heart of our Christian faith and so it requires time for the human spirit to come to terms with so great a mystery. Time is also required to translate it into lived experience. In the resurrection Jesus is not simply given his old body back so that the story can continue in the

fairytale format of “and they lived happily thereafter”. At the resurrection a radical transformation took place. The old self truly died. The man Jesus really died! And yet now he lives again. God raised him from the dead. How can this be? Let us go back to the beginning. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, the women came to the tomb and saw that the stone which had been at the entrance to the tomb had been rolled away. Of him they see nothing. They go running to the disciples with the news: “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb!” Peter and the beloved disciple also come. They too do not see the Lord. “Until this moment they had failed to understand the teaching of Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (Jn 20:1-9). Their eyes were downcast. They could not imagine what rising from the death meant. In the evening of the same day, the first day of the week, Jesus himself came and stood among them. The risen Lord comes to meet the frightened disciples. He comes to them through locked doors and opens their eyes. They had to wait for him to come. The resurrection was not their doing. When he comes he offers them peace, wellbeing—a peace which comes from having overcome death. Like the first disciples, we too are invited during Eastertide to lift up our heads and to have our eyes opened. The risen Lord is among us. There is new life all around us! In the dark of night healing has been taking place, enemies have begun to speak to each other and so on.

Three women at Christ’s empty tomb and his appearance to Mary Magdalene are depicted in a 14th-century painting from austria. (Photo: art resource, new york) These are all signs of the resurrection. They need time. In the 40 days between Easter Sunday and the Ascension of the Lord, the Church reflects on the various ways in which the risen Lord comes to meet his disciples: behind locked doors, by the Sea of Galilee, on the road to Emmaus. We are invited to behold the transforming power of the resurrec-

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tion. The community is transformed from being a small group of frightened men and women into courageous witnesses willing to give up their lives for the faith. Indeed, once they have encountered the risen Lord the disciples are transformed. This is a new experience which will require time to get used to. After 40 days the Lord ascends to

his heavenly home. The disciples are invited to let go of what they had, the past, to let it bless them and strengthen them. For, unless he goes back to the Father, from whence he came, they cannot receive the Spirit who will enable them to live each day with hope. At Pentecost, the Spirit is given to the gathered community to enable it to live the new life of Easter. For those who have to face the loss of a loved one, it is the Spirit who enables them to believe that there is life beyond death. To each is given the Spirit according to need and to all is given the Spirit according to grace. And so the time after Easter is a privileged time. It is a radically new time. It is time to share with others our experience of the risen Lord. It is time to realise that though we have walked amid trials and temptations and have died, we are alive. It is time to come to terms with our changed reality, to let go of the past and to welcome the new. Often we find it hard to celebrate the new life of Easter because we cling to the past. Our wounds still hurt, the scars are visible, we don’t know what to do without them. Transformation, however, can only take place when we open our clenched hands and let go of the fear. Jesus, the risen one, has shown us how to do it. He did not cling to his earthly life. Now it is our turn. We have to do the same so as to rise again. In answer to the question: what do we do after Easter—we make our Paschal journey! n Fr Mangwala is the dean of studies at St Joseph’s Theological Institute in Cedara, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Prayer of Parents to St Joseph for the Children O Glorious St Joseph,

to you God committed the care of His only begotten Son amid the many dangers of this world.

We come to you and ask you to take under your special protection the children God has given us born and unborn.

Through holy baptism they become children of God and members of His Holy Church.

We consecrate them to you today, that through this consecration they may become your foster children.

Guard them, guide their steps in life, form their hearts after the hearts of Jesus and Mary.

St Joseph, who felt the tribulation and worry of a parent when the

Child Jesus was lost, protect our dear children for time and eternity.

May you be their father and counsellor. Let them, like Jesus, grow in age as well as in wisdom and grace before God and men.

Preserve them from the corruption of this world and give us the grace one day to be united with them in heaven forever.



The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013


The Mass of the possessed daughter One day at Mass, FR PATRICK NOONAN OFM was confronted with a woman who seemed to be demonically possessed. But was she?


N every diocese in South Africa today, tucked away deep in the underbelly, far from the diocesan authorities lies an upsurge in what the common man and woman calls “satanism”. In recent months even Gauteng’s Education Department has asked the churches to assist in identifying the strange phenomenon of floor grovelling students claiming that “I am queen of the devil worshippers” or that they have been told to kill a member of their families in order to achieve some goal or status. The following is a less dramatic but still strange incident that happened in a township church, rather than in a school classroom It was a normal bright, vibrant African Mass. We were 45 minutes into the celebration. Even the latecomers had arrived and settled in their places. The long, sung Credo had just begun as I detected a disturbance coming from the side of the church where it opens into the hall. Probably just someone a bit overcome with the heat, people would handle it, I thought. They normally do. I chose to look calm, priestly and in control as the chairman of the parish pastoral council approached with a serious look on his face. Head close to mine, he whispered that there was a woman possessed in the church. Demons or devils in church, I thought, dismissively. Sounds like a contradiction. “For us men and our salvation” sang the choir, not missing a note. The chairman expected me to do something. There was no escaping the challenge, no dodging the issue. What next? To tell the messenger from the

community to sit down because these phenomena don’t exist would be like telling him that the earth is flat and that if you keep walking in the same direction you would fall off into black space. Before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger reflected on the devil: “When one asks if the devil is a person, it would be best to answer that he is a non-person…of disintegration, the destruction of the personal being, and for this reason he presents himself without a face; his greatest strength is to avoid being recognised. It is true that this ‘between’ (one who divides, separates) is a real power, or to put it better, a group of powers.” The PPC chairman was still bending low beside me and awaiting my answer. “For us and for our salvation; he was crucified under Pontius Pilate…” the choir sang in perfect unison, knowingly raising the decibels to muffle the now fearful screaming not ten metres away. I had to make a decision fast. Simultaneously, I was trying to interpret and decide on the messenger’s use of the word “possessed”. Did the chairman know the difference between epilepsy, schizophrenia and other mental disturbances that might be at play in this person? He had not told me that the woman was showing signs of possible possession with displays of abnormal strength or was speaking or understanding previously unknown languages. But there was no time to test whether the victim had knowledge of hidden things.


thought back. Yes, there had been some local cases of disturbed people with unusual behaviour and talking in strange languages. The PPC chairman certainly would have been familiar with some parishioner’s “having a spirit of the ancestors”. But evil spirits? Demons? “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son…” continued the choir, proclaiming the truths of the faith—

a priest holds a crucifix which he uses in performing an exorcism. In his article, Franciscan Father Patrick noonan tells of his experience with a young woman who seemed to be possessed by a demon. (Photo: Don Feria, CnS)

devils or no devils—in the immediate vicinity. I needed to act before they finished singing the Creed. If I took the chairman at his word he was inviting me to perform an exorcism during Mass. An exorcism during Mass. What drama the congregation were in for! The primeval battle between good and evil played out at Sunday Mass. That is unheard of. I never knew of the devil or devils coming to Mass voluntarily— they would know it could initiate their own expulsion or exorcism. But not so fast. In Mark 1 Jesus expels an unclean spirit in the synagogue! But exorcism demands a thorough investigation, an examination of the mental health of the victim—and the permission of the diocesan bishop. These things are very rare, few and far between. But perhaps it was a question not of exorcism but of deliverance only. Deliverance! Yes, a quick decision had to be made, one that would least disrupt our celebration of the Mass. A new thought: was the demon world trying to disrupt the Mass? Some

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years earlier I had come across satanic literature with the instructions to smash by every means possible all Christian communities at their core. Was this one of those occasions? I reasoned urgently that this was God’s Mass, that God is in charge. I would follow divine and cultural promptings, do what was expected of me, a priest.


asked the chairman to tell a server to fetch the holy water and to call me when he arrived at the sick person in the hall. My coordinating instincts were suddenly in full swing. Coordinating an impromptu service within a service during the “We believe” prayer. “We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church…” It was reaching the final crescendo… and time was running out. Beckoned by a server, and distracted now by whatever was interrupting our Mass, I walked with a new-found courage and determination down the centre aisle and into the hall. I advanced in the direction of the victim, who was being held on a chair by five people. I came up behind her and signalled to the “minders” not to tell her it’s me. I knew that, according to collected evidence, a real personal demon was likely to recognise and remonstrate angrily at a priest’s presence with holy water. I squarely plonked my hand on her bare head, commanded in the name of Jesus that any evil beings leave her, and then blessed her in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She jumped briefly, but they grabbed her firmly while I poured holy water on her head. I marched back to the altar, arriving just as the choir sang the concluding “Amen” to the profession of faith. Apparently the daughter quieted down after the dousing with holy water. They normally do. And that, I thought, was the end of that. Nobody came to tell me what happened afterwards. People are so used to these phenomena that they don’t need a second mention. A week later still nobody had mentioned the incident. The matter was closed and seemed about to be forgotten. Then one morning at Mass I asked someone to fetch the mother and daughter to come and talk to me. For some stilllingering reason I thought I should dig a little deeper. A week later the mother brought her. After my questioning about the health of her daughter, she told me her daughter was being treated for a mental condition. Ah, that was it, I thought. A pure and simple mental case. Problem solved. But in the back of my mind I was still wondering whether

there was some other intrusion in this person’s life. Perhaps I sensed it in the mother’s body language. Something peculiar, of another realm. I gave the mother a basic spiritual recipe for use at home, to test and squeeze out any dark influences that might be using the situation for wrong purposes. I told her to start a regime of prayer in the house, pray the rosary, use blessed water (incense too is recommended, I understand), get a bible and a blessed crucifix. All just precautionary stuff, based on experience. About two months later the mother was back to the church for a chat about how things were going. She had nothing, she thought, worthy of reporting to me. But I decided to probe a little this time, to be more focused. Sometimes people don’t make any distinctions between the natural, the supernatural, the preternatural, the normal, the abnormal and the paranormal. I asked some detailed questions about her experiences at home and at the church that Sunday. The mother, in a quiet, worried tone of voice, told me that before the church disturbance her daughter had been openly suicidal, had had a craving to stay in a graveyard, had wished to kill someone, had attempted to eat from a dustbin, had vomited or spewed water regularly as if from a hosepipe. She had run away terrified when a CD with hymns or prayers, especially the Our Father, was played. It normally took two women and three men to restrain her on these occasions. Prayers made her, or a spirit in her, cry profusely. Also, in this state, on the morning of the incident she had to be removed from the church before Mass when the choir began to practise their hymns. Calming down she returned to the church for Mass later.


y eyes opened at this information. The situation had become more sinister. The mother told me almost as an afterthought that strange voices had spoken from her daughter on previous occasions during prayer in the home. This was something completely new in her experience and, I might add, most uncommon in local cultures. What had happened behind the curtain separating the church from the hall on that Sunday morning was not at all what I had presumed. It was frightening and shocking to those who witnessed it. For more than an hour—during the remainder of the Mass—the five parishioners had held the young woman on a chair while she raged and struggled. As they prayed, she struggled more powerfully. One of the handlers, a nurse, suggested that the girl be brought to the hospital, quickly. The Western scientific approach. But there was no agreement on going to the hospital. Then a teacher grabbed her handbag, produced her prayer book, and prayed over the victim “A Prayer of Deliverance from Satanic Bondages”. The victim immediately became ragingly furious. Now they heard a deep guttural, aggressive male voice issuing from the young woman: “Leave me alone, so that I can go; I’m defeated. You have called all these people; I don’t want them.” And later: “I didn’t come to play with you here. Just leave me alone. You are hurting me.” The parishioners had held on bravely. These troubled voices had been repeated regularly until the Mass ended and she was taken home, quiet and exhausted. My probing of the mother continued; she was a devout Catholic who used to work in a house of religious sisters. continued on page 11

The Southern Cross, april 3 to april 9, 2013

The Mass of the possessed daughter continued from Page 10 She said that periodic prayer had continued at home, and that at one time the voice of the male personality in the daughter had once again exclaimed: “I want to get out of you. I want to go into another one.” Finally a weak, sad male voice admitted: “I left you on the 7th of November.” This further confused the mother and those present. Could a “demon” return briefly to report its departure? Or was it obliged to report its departure to those who were praying for its eviction, using our earthly time-scale? On a day not long before this, two parishioners had gone to the home to pray for the victim and the usual commotion was gone through again, but with less fury than before. The frenzy was followed by fainting, lying still on the ground, frothing. But this time it was different. Then it stopped. The young woman had woken up in dismay and asked: “Where am I coming from?”, not remembering what had gone before. According to the mother the

“illness” had gone into decline— or the “demon” had begun to lose its grip on the daughter—on the day when the church altercation took place. That had been the beginning of the end. Peoples’ prayer seemed to have brought the expulsion to a final conclusion. Today the young women appears to be normal and has returned to work. So was it a mental illness such as multiple personality disorder? Or was it an evil spirit or spirits (male and female had been reported) finding refuge in, manipulating or exploiting a mentally disturbed person? Are these necessarily different? What happened here was not a new phenomenon. Certainly, on the side of the community, these were committed, loving lay people confronting what may have been a demon or evil spirit, and doing a mini-exorcism (or was it simply a deliverance?) as if it was their normal Christian duty, like flower arranging. They knew nothing about formal deliverance and less about exorcism. They discerned off the cuff

Community Calendar

To place your event, call Claire Allen at 021 465 5007 or e-mail (publication subject to space)

CAPE TOWN: Mimosa Shrine, Bellville (Place of pilgrimage for the Year of Faith): April 4: 7.30pm rosary. April 7: Feast of Divine Mercy, Braai 12pm 2.00pm, 3.00pm Mass of Divine Mercy. April 13: 9.00-10.00am Holy hour and Benediction, confessions available April 25: Feast of St Mark, 7.00pm rosary, 7.30pm Holy Mass. Tel: 076 323 8043 Padre Pio: Holy hour 3.30 pm every 3rd Sunday of the month at Holy redeemer parish in Bergvliet. Helpers of God’s Precious Infants meet the

last Saturday of the month except in December, starting with Mass at 9:30 am at the Sacred Heart church in Somerset road, Cape Town. Mass is followed by a vigil and procession to Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Bree Street. For information contact Colette Thomas on 083 412 4836 or 021 593 9875 or Br Daniel Manuel on 083 544 3375 NELSPRUIT: Adoration of the blessed sacrament 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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what the matter was and took the action they knew best. It’s called faith in action. They also knew they were supported by the epistle of James 4:7: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” They did just that. It seems that demons or nasty spirits are found in all cultures, are highly adaptable, and are intrinsically evil, as shown by this affair. Further, as our evidence again shows, they hate to be discovered, and they diminish and disintegrate when confronted by Christian solidarity and caring love. So much for unplanned, unpredictable and mighty strange liturgies from the margins! Was the PPC chairman right after all? But what if it’s not true? Some theologians believe that “human personality is incommunicable—that it cannot be shared or ‘possessed’ by any other being, whether human, demonic, or even by God himself”. You be the judge. n Fr Noonan is the author of They’re Burning the Churches, now in its third edition. He serves in the archdiocese of Johannesburg.

Liturgical Calendar Year C Weekdays Cycle Year 1 Sunday, April 7, Feast of the Divine Mercy Acts 5:12-16, Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24, Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19, John 20:19-31, John 20:1-9 Monday, April 08, Annunciation of the Lord Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10, Psalm 40:7-11, Hebrews 10:410, Luke 1:26-38 Tuesday, April 09 Acts 4:32-37, Psalm 93:1-2, 5, John 3:7-15 Wednesday, April 10 Acts 5:17-26, Psalm 34:2-9, John 3:16-21 Thursday, April 11, St Stanislaus Acts 5:27-33, Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-20, John 3:31-36 Friday, April 12 Acts 5:34-42, Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14, John 6:1-15 Saturday, April 13 Acts 6:1-7, Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19, John 6:16-21 Sunday, April 14 Acts 5:27-32, 40-41, Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13, Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19


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POHL—emmanuel edward. Born 6/1/1927 passed away March 16, 2013. Deeply mourned by his wife Billie, children emmanuel and gail, Sharon, Lance and Marilyn and grandchildren. god be with you. rest in peace.


not golden, it’s yellow! avoid ‘Pro-abortion’ politicians. HOUSE-SITTER/ PET-LOVER: Based at Benoni Parish, will travel/with references. Phone Therèse 076 206 0627. NOTHING is politically right if it is morally wrong. abortion is evil. value life! REBINDING of altar Missals and other books. visit www.langeberg or phone 084 530 5234.


HOLY ST JUDE, apostle and martyr, great in KALIE—JoSePH JoHn. In Loving memory of my dear husband Joe, who passed away april 7, 2012. gone but not forgotten. Fondly remembered by his loving wife Cecily and brother Peter. KALIE—JoSePH JoHn. one year has passed and we all miss you dearly. We lost a father with a heart of gold, how much we miss you. you helped us along. If we follow your footsteps we will never go wrong. you will always be loved and never forgotten. From your loving daughter Marion, son-in-law Declan, grandchildren Damion and StaceyLee.


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 YOU, o eternal Trinity, are a deep sea into

Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 544. ACROSS: 1 Ezra, 3 Assemble, 9 Teacher, 10 Ingle, 11 Unscriptural, 13 Elisha, 15 Be seen, 17 Misadventure, 20 Ailed, 21 Nascent, 22 Absentee, 23 Idle. DOWN: 1 Enthused, 2 Reaps, 4 Seraph, 5 Epicureanism, 6 Big name, 7 Ever, 8 Churchwarden, 12 Ungentle, 14 Icicles, 16 Avenue, 18 Up-end, 19 Cana.

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OUR LADY OF FATIMA. o MoST Holy virgin Mary, who chose to appear on the Sierra de aire, in the Cova de Iria, to three young shepherds to reveal the treasures of grace held in the recitation of the rosary, impress upon our souls a fervent love for this devotion. By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption, may we learn how to use the teachings which lie therein and obtain the graces we ask in this prayer. For the glory of god and the redeeming of our souls. amen. ABORTION is murder— Silence on this issue is

which, the more I enter, the more I find. and the more I find, the more I seek. o abyss, o eternal godhead, o sea profound, what more could you give me than yourself? Prayer of awe—St Catherine of Siena.


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3rd Sunday of Easter: April 14 Readings: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41, Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13, Revelation 5:11-14, John 21:1-19

God’s purpose for our lives


Nicholas King SJ

NE of the many elements in our celebration of Easter should be the astonished realisation that God’s purposes work out in the most unlikely circumstances. There is a hint of this in each of the readings for next Sunday. The first reading, as always in this season, is from Acts. The setting is that the Sadducees, fearful for their ecclesial spoils, have arrested all the apostles and put them in prison; but God is not to be thwarted, and so the apostles are set free by an angel, and instructed to go and preach in the Temple (the very locus of the Sadducees’ power). The attendants find the prison empty, and then tell the Sanhedrin that the missing prisoners are standing in the Temple and preaching to the people. So, once more, they are hauled before the council, and asked to explain themselves: “Look! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching—and you’re wanting to lay this man’s blood on us!” Peter’s response is remarkable, for one who had been recently so utterly terrified: “We have to obey God, rather than human beings. The God of our ancestors has raised Jesus from the dead, whom you laid hands on, and hung on a tree. God has made him Leader and Saviour, and raised him to his right hand.” Then Peter makes the audacious claim that “we are witnesses of these facts, as is the Holy Spirit, whom

Sunday reflections

God has given to those who obey him”. God’s purposes, we see, will be fulfilled. The psalm for next Sunday is well aware of this, as the poet sings, enthusiastically, “I shall exalt you, Lord, for you have drawn me up” (the metaphor is that of a bucket in a well), “and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. The Lord has lifted my life up from Sheol”. Then, as so often, he turns to his peers and tells them how to respond: “Sing to the Lord, you faithful ones, and praise his holy name.” There is real confidence here in what God can do, and has done: “You changed my mourning-rites into a dance: Lord my God, I shall give you thanks forever.” In the second reading, the Book of Revelation invites us into the heavenly liturgy, where we can see what is going on around God’s throne, with millions and thousands singing their refrain: “Worthy is the Slain Lamb [Jesus, of course] to accept power and wealth and wis-

dom and strength and honour and glory and blessing.” And “the four living creatures were saying ‘Amen’; and the elders fell down and worshipped”. The book is aimed at those who are enduring persecution, and the glimpse of what is going on in God’s court is meant to give them courage, and the certainty that God is not going to let them down. The gospel is the lovely story that comes at the end of John’s gospel. It starts with Simon Peter returning to his ancient profession of fishing, apparently as a sign that the Resurrection has after all not changed very much in his life. The reader, however, is told in advance that this is going to be the setting for another Resurrection appearance by Jesus, so we know that the fishing will not be the end of the story, for God is at work. We then get a list of the seven who are together with Peter: Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, plus two others; but the return to the good old days is a failure: “All that night, they caught nothing.” Things change with daylight, however, and Jesus is there (but unrecognised), and calling to them from the shore, asking for something to eat (which he never gets, as so often in this gospel). When told that they have nothing, he gives

God redeems, not rescues us ‘B

EFORE you get serious about Jesus, first consider how good you are going to look on wood.” That’s a line from the US Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan that rightly warns us that faith in Jesus and the resurrection won’t save us from humiliation, pain, and death in this life. Faith isn’t meant to do that. Jesus doesn’t grant special exemptions to his friends, no more than God granted special exemptions to Jesus. We see this everywhere in the gospels, though most clearly in Jesus’ resurrection. To understand this, it’s helpful to compare Jesus’ resurrection to what Jesus himself does in raising Lazarus from the dead. The Lazarus story begs a lot of questions. John tells us the story. He begins by pointing out that Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, were very close friends of Jesus. Hence, we are understandably taken aback by Jesus’ seeming lack of response to Lazarus’ illness and the request to come and heal him. Here’s the story: Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus that “the man you love is ill” with the implied request that Jesus should come and heal him. But Jesus’ reaction is curious. He doesn’t rush off immediately to try to heal his close friend. Instead he remains where he is for two days longer while his friend dies. Then, after Lazarus has died, he sets off to visit him. As he approaches the village where Lazarus has died, he is met by Martha and then, later, by Mary. Each, in turn, asks him the question:


Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI

Final reflection

“Why?” Why, since you loved this man, did you not come to save him from death? Indeed, Mary’s question implies even more: “Why?” Why is it that God invariably seems absent when bad things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God rescue his loved ones and save them from pain and death? Jesus doesn’t offer any theoretical apologia in response. Instead he asks where they have laid the body, lets them take him there, sees the burial site, weeps in sorrow, and then raises his dead friend back to life. So why did he let him die in the first place? The story begs that question: Why? Why didn’t Jesus rush down to save Lazarus since he loved him? The answer to that question teaches a very important lesson about Jesus, God, and faith, namely, that God is not a God who ordinarily rescues us, but is rather a God who redeems us. God doesn’t ordinarily intervene to save us from humiliation, pain, and death; rather he redeems humiliation, pain, and death after the fact. Simply put, Jesus treats Lazarus exactly the same way as God, the Father, treats Jesus: Jesus is deeply and intimately loved

by his Father and yet his Father doesn’t rescue him from humiliation, pain, and death. In his lowest hour, when he is humiliated, suffering, and dying on the cross, Jesus is jeered by the crowd with the challenge: “If God is your father, let him rescue you!” But there’s no rescue. Instead Jesus dies inside the humiliation and pain. God raises him up only after his death. This is one of the key revelations inside the resurrection: We have a redeeming— not a rescuing—God. Indeed, the story of the raising of Lazarus in John’s Gospel was meant to answer a burning question inside the first generation of Christians. They had known Jesus in the flesh, had been intimate friends with him, had seen him heal people and raise people from the dead, so why was he letting them die? Why wasn’t Jesus rescuing them? It took the early Christians some time to grasp that Jesus doesn’t ordinarily give special exemptions to his friends, no more than God gave special exemptions to Jesus. So, like us, they struggled with the fact that someone can have a deep, genuine faith, be deeply loved by God, and still have to suffer humiliation, pain, and death like everyone else. God didn’t spare Jesus from suffering and death, and Jesus doesn’t spare us from them. That is one of the key revelations inside the resurrection and is the one we perhaps most misunderstand. We are forever predicating our faith on, and preaching, a rescuing God, a God who promises special exemptions to those of genuine faith: Have a genuine faith in Jesus, and you will be spared from life’s humiliations and pains! Have a genuine faith in Jesus, and prosperity will come your way! Believe in the resurrection, and rainbows will surround your life! Would it were so! But Jesus never promised us rescue, exemptions, immunity from cancer, or escape from death. He promised rather that, in the end, there will be redemption, vindication, immunity from suffering, and eternal life. But that’s in the end; meantime, in the early and intermediate chapters of our lives, there will be the same kinds of humiliation, pain, and death that everyone else suffers. The death and resurrection of Jesus reveal a redeeming, not a rescuing, God.

them instructions about where to fish, with the inevitable result, so that “they scarcely had strength to drag the nets”. At this point recognition takes place, and the Beloved Disciple has the perception to say “It’s the Lord!”. This in turn has its (slightly bizarre) effect on Peter, who puts his clothes on in order to leap into the water! The others, more rationally, follow on in the boat. What follows shows Jesus utterly in charge, for breakfast is cooking, though the disciples are too timid to ask whether it’s really him. Then Peter is summoned for what might be a rather embarrassing conversation, since it is not long since he three times denied that he had ever heard of Jesus; now Jesus three times asks him the question “Do you love me?”, and gives him the task of “feed my sheep”. So God’s purpose is still at work, even through very sinful human beings; and then Peter is brought face to face with how he is going to die: “When you grow old, you will stretch out your hand, and someone else is going to put clothes on you and take you where you do not wish to go.” After that we hear the invitation that is there for all of us (for God’s purposes are never frustrated): “Follow me.” Are you going to respond, this Easter week?

Southern Crossword #544

ACROSS 1. He read out the Book of the Law (Neh 8) (4) 3. Gather for the Eucharist (8) 9. She is head of her classroom (7) 10. Fire in home in glen, I see (5) 11. Such readings are not from the Bible (12) 13. Angel I shall find shielding the prophet (6) 15. How justice must be rightly done (2,4) 17. A mishap that could lead to death (12) 20. Was afflicted by twisted ideal (5) 21. Scan ten, coming into being (7) 22. He does not attend (8) 23. Devil finds work for such hands (4)

DOWN 1. Showed religious zeal and shut Dene up (8) 2. Gathers what you sow (5) 4. Use Raphael to find another angel (6) 5. Philosophy of pleasure only (12) 6. Large title for VIP (3,4) 7. Always (4) 8. Parish official who works in the jail? (12) 12. Not mild but rough (8) 14. They may hang around in the frost (7) 16. A tree-lined meeting place? (6) 18. Turn upside down (2-3) 19. The place of wine into water (4) Solutions on page 11



WOMAN had just returned to her home from an evening of Mass, when she was startled by an intruder. She caught the man in the act of robbing her home of its valuables and yelled: “Stop! Acts 2:38!” (Repent and be Baptised, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.) The burglar stopped in his tracks. The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done. As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar: “Why did you just stand there? “All the old lady did was yell a scripture to you.” “Scripture?” replied the burglar. “She said she had an axe and two 38s!” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, Po Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.

The Southern Cross - 130403  

3 April - 9 April, 2013

The Southern Cross - 130403  

3 April - 9 April, 2013