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S outher n C ross

September 4 to September 10, 2013

Priests run the parish and the marathon

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Twin priests: We could have been aborted

Fr Rolheiser on ‘Have you been saved?’

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Archbishop: Church needs the media STAFF REPORTER

T Drama pupils from Holy Rosary School, Edenvale High and Jeppe Boys in Johannesburg are putting in a great deal of rehearsal time throughout the next few weeks to stage Macbeth Afrika. The play is an African take on William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It will run from September 25-27 at Holy Rosary’s newly finished state-of-the-art Bishop Shanahan multipurpose hall in Edenvale, with a gala performance on September 28. Contact Deidre on (011) 457 0900 or

SA bishop: Pope told me to publish his letter to me BY CLAIRE MATHIESON


HEN a local bishop received a letter from Pope Francis, he didn’t think the pope would remember it—until the Holy Father asked him about it when they met in Rio. In his response to a letter written by Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of Ingwavuma, KwaZulu-Natal, Pope Francis said he carries the people of the faith in foreign lands in his heart. “Please, tell them I think of them and that I encourage them to give themselves to Jesus, who will never fail them, and who will give them the necessary strength to face life with hope and love,” the pope wrote the bishop. The story of how Bishop Ponce de León received a personal letter from the pope started in May. “I asked the nuncio if Pope Francis would really get the letter if I’d write it,” he recalled. Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, the apostolic nuncio, said he was sure the pope would indeed get the letter. “So I wrote to him in the most informal way you can imagine,” Bishop Ponce de León told The Southern Cross. The bishop, who is Argentinian, said he and the pope knew each other “a bit”. “We’ve met a couple of times. I was born in Argentina and a couple of years' ago I went to see him thinking it would be the last time—it was time for him to retire.” Of course the archbishop of Buenos Aires did not retire, but became pope in March.

Pope Francis greets Bishop José Luis Ponce de León of Ingwavuma, KwaZulu-Natal, in this screenshot from Brazil’s TV2000. In the letter “I just shared with him stories of people in Southern Africa who told me what they felt or did when he was elected. I felt it would be good for him to know what happened around here when he was elected.” A month later the bishop received a phone call. The pope had replied and sent a letter which the nunciature forwarded via e-mail as Bishop Ponce de León was travelling. “It really was him!” the bishop said. “It was lovely to get a letter from the pope which starts: ‘Dear brother’.” Pope Francis told Bishop Ponce de León to keep giving of his best, “especially with priests: listen to them, support and advise them as a father, a friend and a brother. Make Continued on page 3

HERE may be a conflict between the message which the Church wants to deliver and the message which media want to disseminate, according to Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria, but that must not preclude cooperation. The Church offers virtue, faith and principles, while the media need stories which are short, simple and striking. But there is a way for the Church and media to work together, the archbishop told a gathering of Catholic journalists in Johannesburg. “The Church, in short, deals with revelation of truth in Christ. The press deals with everyday facts,” said Archbishop Slattery said. The Catholic journalists gathered in Johannesburg for a meeting convened by the office of communication of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It was the first in a series of planned meetings in South African centres. “Preaching and statements do not impact people so much as individual contact. The audience of today are more than consumers, they want to engage in dialogue with the Church,” said Archbishop Slattery. The archbishop, who is the spokesman for the bishops’ conference, said media today make new demands on the Church. “The Church shares faith, an inner experience, something of the beauty of God. It opens people to grace, to the interior experience of God. For the press this is not sufficiently concrete,” he said. The press seeks the tangible and is not interested in doctrinal discussion. “The Church wishes to proclaim the Gospel and emphasises continuity. The press deals with news, new things. The Church wishes to promote unity and is apprehensive of dissent. Press barons realise that circulation is boosted by struggle and dissent,” he said. But the challenges with the Church and media go beyond content issues. Fr Mathibela Sebothoma, spokesman for the archdiocese of Pretoria, said that the churches “need to deal with issues with which people are concerned”. He noted that the Catholic Church often reacts slowly and is reactive rather than proactive. “We need personal relationships with journalists, especially Catholics working in the secular press,” Fr Sebothoma said.


rchbishop Slattery told the media workers that the laity plays an important role in delivering the Church’s message. “The laity is of absolute importance for the future communication of the Church,” he said. Communication through the social media needs a new language appropriate to its audience. This language must be conversational,

Archbishop William Slattery (Photo: Mathibela Sebothoma) interactive and participative. Participants in the meeting spoke of involving the laity, especially parish councils, in communication within the Church. “The new media demands not only texts and words but also images, sounds and witness. It’s not enough to tell the story—we must now show the story; show how we celebrate, how we serve the people, how we are graced by God,” Archbishop Slattery said. “The Church has been commanded to communicate. Jesus sent us to go and teach, the Church was founded to evangelise. The new media offers new means of evangelisation since it is an encounter with believing persons which leads to faith,” he said. The archbishop acknowledged Catholics in journalism and their “heroic” response. “Catholics in the media should contribute to the betterment of the human person. We should communicate in a way that will make people more spiritually mature, more aware of the dignity of their humanity, more responsible and more open to others, in particular to the neediest and the weak,” Archbishop Slattery said. He said Catholic journalists will be concerned that the Church’s information is in the service of the common good. “Society and people have a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice and solidarity,” Archbishop Slattery said. Fr S’milo Mngadi, the secretary of the bishops’ communication office, emphasised that the Church was very appreciative of those who for years have produced excellent media, such as The Southern Cross, Worldwide, Trefoil, Grace & Truth, diocesan newsletters, and so on, as well the broadcasts of Radio Veritas. Fr Mngadi said these Catholic media outlets need support and greater generosity and finance to continue and expand their work.

SOUTHERN CROSS HOLY LAND YOUTH PILGRIMAGE 5 - 14 July 2014 Led by Fr SAMMY MABUSELA (SA national youth chaplain) Accompanied by Claire Mathieson of The Southern Cross


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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Buoyant Botswana joins world CLC STAFF REPORTER


HREE South Africans have travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, to meet others representing the global Christian Life Community (CLC). Sixty-two countries were represented and the South African delegates were Malesabe Makgothi from Gauteng, Kaye Henrick from Eastern Cape, and Fr Graham Pugin SJ, the national spiritual guide. The CLC is a community of lay people who live out their baptismal commitment to spreading the kingdom of God in all aspects of daily life: family, work, and social and political aspects. “Our community life is expressed through our communal Ignatian spirituality and our regular meetings where we share our experiences and get support and encouragement in growing awareness of God’s intervention in our lives. It is a way of life that is grounded in spiritual growth in the Ignatian tradition, community and apostolic initiatives,” said Ms Henrick. She said having the assembly in

was an air of joy and gratitude as communities shared, with a variety of symbols, banners and posters,” Ms Henrick said. “There were a number of presentations and discussion sessions addressing the frontiers that we need to embrace. “We were reminded many times that we share this call with Christian and Catholic people and that our CLC way of life gives us the tools to do this. Family life is not a new frontier, but the challenges faced by families in the light of the changed world we live in is new.” The delegates celebrated the Eucharist daily in the chapel of Notre Dame du Mont, on a hill overlooking Beirut. “What celebrations of joy they were, as each day’s liturgy was organised by a different group. There is no doubt that the Africa region was the most colourful and joyous, although Latin America was a close runner up.” n For more information about the Christian Life Community contact Kaye Henrick on

Beirut, hosted by the CLC Middle East was in itself an expression of community, and the sense of being one world community was very strong. “We heard heartrending stories from members from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt on the suffering they have endured in their ongoing conflicts, and also how their small communities have given them the strength to carry on.” A major highlight for the delegates was presenting CLC Botswana to the world community and witnessing them being accepted as a full member. “CLC South Africa has been mentoring and journeying with the community in Botswana for a number of years and now they are a fully fledged member,” said Ms Henrick. CLC celebrated 450 years of the founding of the Marian sodalities to which it traces its origins. “Part of our proceedings was to really celebrate this wonderful history. Some of the national communities are able to trace a continuous line from those sodalities in the 1500s through to today. There

Jubilant CLC members from Africa, including newly admitted Botswana, celebrate at the movement’s Beirut meeting.

Sodality of the Children of Mary revitalised in Queenstown STAFF REPORTER


Members of the newly re-established Sodality of the Children of Mary with Bishop Dabula Anthony Mpako of Queenstown.

OR many years, the Solidality of the Children of Mary has been active in Queenstown in Cofimvaba, where the Precious Blood Sisters run the well-known St James High school for girls. “Under the dynamic leadership of Sr Celine Nxopo CPS, a group of Catholic girls joined the sodality, with such good results that the idea came up to revitalise that sodality on diocesan level,” Fr Edward Tratsaert SAC of St Theresa’s Mission told The Southern Cross. The sodality was formally welcomed to the diocese when the Church celebrated the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 18. “A huge crowd of youngsters, coming from a little bit of everywhere in the diocese, could witness in a packed cathedral how Bishop Dabula Anthony Mpako

presided over the investiture of the new candidates by blessing their uniforms and their flag,” said Fr Tratsaert. During his sermon, the bishop stressed the importance of the youth in the Church and also the necessity of excellent examples which can give the right direction and motivation to that youth, and “what a better example of Christian, dedicated, committed and joyous life, completely rooted in God, can we find besides Mary, the Mother of God?” The bishop said the answer was clear: “It is Mary who shows us how to live in such a way that we become again really what God wanted from the very beginning, namely His own image and likeness”. Fr Tratsaert said the service was “marvellous”, as young voices filled the cathedral with Marian hymns and songs and a procession during

the offertory brought some African flavour to the liturgy. “The spontaneity of our youngsters proved that the Church still has a nice and hopeful future,” said Fr Tratsaert, adding that even the poor weather did not dampen the spirit of the day with an impromptu choir competition starting in the parish hall after Mass. “Everybody was joyful and happy.” An elated bishop congratulated the members of the sodality. After thanking the bishop, Sr Nxopo appealed to the youth, especially the boys, to join the Children of Mary. Fr Tratsaert said there was only one boy and “for sure he does not want to remain the only one!” “The sodality is now again open for all our young people in the diocese, and I am sure that in the very near future, some echoes will raise in certain parishes saying: ‘We also want to join!’ ”

Forty more statues arrive STAFF REPORTER


ORTY more statues of Our Lady of Fatima have arrived in South Africa from Portugal for distribution to parishes that successfully applied for their donation. The donations, made by a Portuguese businessman who wishes to remain anonymous, have been made with a view to spreading devotion and prayer to Our Lady of Fatima and the rosary.

The offer for the limited number of statues was made through reports in The Southern Cross. The donor said that he had received more requests than he could meet, even after increasing the number of statues he would donate to more than 50. The 40 statues are being delivered to the chancery of the diocese in which the awarded parish is located, and must be collected from there.

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013



Move to promote maths Education for Life looks STAFF REPORTER

ahead to new challenges


T Mary’s Development and Care Centre (SMDCC) and the South African Numeracy Chair Project of Rhodes University hosted a family maths games event in Grahamstown. “Over 100 parents, grandparents and extended family members of the children at the SMDCC competed in a range of mathematics challenges including building three-dimensional structures, solving mathematical problems, completing tangram and magic square puzzles and solving spatial problems on tablets which even captured the attention of babies,” said event organiser Mellony Graven. The South African Numeracy chair at Rhodes is part of the FirstRand Foundation Mathematics Chairs Initiative and is one of five such around South Africa. Three are in mathematics education: Wits, Rhodes and NMMU, and two in numeracy education: Wits and Rhodes. “The chairs are generously funded by the FirstRand Foundation, Anglo American, Rand Merchant Bank, the Department of Science and Technology and are administered by the National Research Foundation,” said Ms Graven. The chairs will receive funding for a five-year period dependant on the achievement of objectives and subject to available


But Education for Life has not rested. Sr Sibisi has already planned OLLOWING the successful the programme’s next phase. “We 10-year anniversary celebration have planned to give facilitation of the national youth pro- skills to our youth coordinators gramme Education who are assisting For Life, coordinapre-school learntor Sr Victoria Sibisi ers.” Furthermore, FCSCJ is looking to youth leaders will the future of the be trained in Sepprogramme and tember with peace how it will coneducation traintinue to make a difing. ference in young “All youth people’s lives, espeworkers are comcially rural youth. ing together trySr Sibisi said the ing to find new August event, ideas how to which brought make things hapyouth from all over pen at the diocese the country to Duror parish level. ban, was the first of This time we its kind. “It is good don’t want to to take a risk someleave aside our times,” she told pre-schools,” said The Southern Cross. Sr Sibisi. The event Sr Sibisi said Education for Life coordinator Sr brought together she was grateful Victoria Sibisi plans ahead for the youth coordinafor the support the tors, youth chap- programme’s next decade programme has lains, religious seen over the past sisters and bishops to the archdio- decade. She admits there are many cese of Durban to celebrate the pro- challenges in working with rural gramme’s achievement. The youth but is optimistic going forcoordinator said she knew it had ward into the next decade. “We been a success when “joy was evi- have challenges but together we dent on the faces of the youth”. can make a difference.”

F Families solve problems at different maths stations at a family maths games event in Grahamstown. funding. Ms Graven said the aim of the chair is to improve the quality of teaching of in-service teachers at the primary school level, improve learner performance in primary schools, research sustainable and practical solutions to the challenges of improving numeracy in schools, and to provide leadership in numeracy education and increase dialogue around solutions for the mathematics education crisis. Grades 8-10 volunteers from St Andrews’ College and Kingswood helped to explain and score each mathematical station. “Parents commented that they loved solving the problems and that

they felt they had a second chance at enjoying and learning mathematics,” said Ms Graven. After the competition the families were taught various games to help their learners develop basic fluency including mental maths games and dice games. Families were given 6-sided and 12-sided dice to continue these games at home. “The turnout and enthusiasm for this wonderful community event was fantastic and the SMDCC and the South African Numeracy Chair Project plan to have more of these events aimed to get families talking and enjoying maths together,” said Ms Graven.

Pope’s letter to SA bishop Continued from page 1 them feel your human and spiritual support.” Shortly after, Bishop Ponce de León met the pope during World Youth Day. “When we met at the cathedral in Rio I reminded him who I was and he just asked me: ‘Have you received my letter?’” In his letter, written in Spanish, the pope reminded the bishop, who is also the apostolic administrator of Manzini, Swaziland, that pastoral work is not easy, but “we are not alone”. “God’s grace leads, supports and encourages us; it also consoles us when it is necessary, opening new ways to get

More than 70 volunteers of Catholicare, the social outreach initiative of Milnerton/Brooklyn parish in Cape Town, took part for the second year in the One to One fun day for the cognitively impaired at the Good Hope Centre. “A great deal of effort and time went into the preparations, and parishioners were extremely generous and donated about 3 000 prizes,” said Catholicare’s Clarissa Witten. “Among the prizes were beautifully knitted toys and other hand-crafted items which we could see took a lot of time and love to make.” Seen here are (from left) Janene Mostert, Lisa Mustapha, Viola Hunter, Melissa Peckett, Lucy Chanda, Zea Diergaardt, Chipo Kunaka and Vivienne Matthews.

to people’s hearts through the Gospel’s light, which is really what can clear up doubts, awake consciences and encourage the ones who are feeling beaten.” The pope thanked the bishop for his prayers. “Please, keep doing that since I need it more than ever, in order to accomplish my mission with certainty and humility. “Ask everybody to join you in your prayer, since the pope without the saints’ and loyal people’s prayer can hardly accomplish anything.” Bishop Ponce de León said Pope Francis is sending personal letters in “very nice paper, I must say!”

Loreto School Queenswood, an Independent Catholic School, wishes to make the following appointments with effect from 1 January 2014.


the successful applicant must meet the following criteria:

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The school reserves the right not to proceed with filling this post. An application will not in itself entitle the applicant to an interview or appointment and failure to meet the minimum requirements of the advertised post will result in applicants automatically disqualifying themselves from consideration Only those candidates who are short-listed for the position will be notified.


The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Vatican orders a change to text of baptismal rites

Catholic faith blooms in Chinese apple farmers M BY TOM MCGREGOR



O emphasise that the sacrament of baptism formally brings a person into the Church of God and not just into a local Christian community, the Vatican has ordered a slight change of wording in the baptismal rite. At the beginning of the rite, instead of saying, “the Christian community welcomes you with great joy”, the officiating minister will say: “The Church of God welcomes you with great joy”. “Baptism is the sacrament of faith in which people are incorporated into the one Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him,” said the decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The decree was published in the latest issue of Notitiae, the congregation’s newsletter. Signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, congregation secretary, the decree said the change to the wording in Latin and all local languages was approved on January 28 by Pope Benedict XVI; the pope resigned a month later. The new wording, the decree said, better emphasises Catholic doctrine that through baptism a person is incorporated into the

A girl receives the sacrament of baptism. The Vatican has made a small change in the wording of the baptismal rite to shift the emphasis from acceptance into the community to the Church. (Photo: CNS) universal Church and not just into a parish. Although the rest of the formula remains the same, by beginning with an affirmation of the entire Church welcoming the one about to be baptised, the minister also makes clear that the sacrament is being administered in the name of the Church and not just in the name of the local community. Before the change, the approved English text read: “The Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Saviour by the sign of his cross.”—CNS

ANY rural villages in the Shaanxi province of China do not have a Catholic parish, and some with churches struggle with sparse attendance. But the village of Fufengxian, near the town of Baoji, has a population that is more than 80% baptised Catholics. When villagers are not tending to their apple orchards, they can be found attending Mass or praying at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic church. They call themselves “China’s Hometown of Apple Catholics”. The official population of Fufengxian stands at a mere 300, but many young adults have migrated to the big cities, so most of those who remain are elderly farmers and young children. About 90 villagers live there permanently, while more than 70 residents are parishioners. The church was established in 1986, as the Chinese Catholic Church was emerging from decades of communist repression. The parish currently is served by three priests and three sisters from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Sr Ma Wang-ge said the nuns had received medical training so they could open up a small medical clinic with a pharmacy in the village. They have taught many local children how to read by tutoring them and organising Catholic catechism classes. Although the Chinese govern-

Children gather with parish priests for a photo on the steps of Sacred Heart of Jesus church in the village of Fufengxian, in China's Shaanxi province. The Catholic parish was marking its 17th anniversary in a region known for its apple groves. (Photo: CNS) ment has been accused of persecuting some religions, including Catholics, Sr Ma said Fufengxian has not had any problems with Beijing. “We are just a village of farmers and all of us work hard to make a living,” she said. “We are not a threat to Beijing, since we prefer a stable life just like our government does, so officials do not interfere with our parish.” She said farmers prefer a daily routine for their work, and the same goes for their spiritual activities. Mass is celebrated at 19:00 on Saturdays and 6:00 on Sundays, and the parish offers a weekday prayer service at 19:00.

“It is always crowded at these times,” she said. “The villagers come with sincere faith in their hearts.” One thing they pray for is that diplomatic relations be established between the Vatican and China. “Everybody in our church, as well as Catholics in China, we all hope and pray that the pope could come visit our nation. Oh, what a wonderful day that would be for Chinese Catholics,” Sr Ma said. “If Pope Francis comes to China, the farmers in our parish would love to greet him and give him a basket of our delicious apples.”—CNS

Benedict XVI aide debunks ‘mystic’ message story A BY CINDY WOODEN

RCHBISHOP Georg Gänswein, retired Pope Benedict XVI’s longtime personal secretary, said a story about the pope resigning after a “mystical experience” was completely invented. “It was invented from alpha to omega,” the archbishop said in an interview on Italy’s Canale 5 television news. “There is nothing true in the article.” In a mid-August report, the Italian Catholic news agency Zenit reported that someone who had

visited Pope Benedict “a few weeks ago” had asked him why he resigned. “God told me to,” the retired pope was quoted as responding before “immediately clarifying that it was not any kind of apparition of phenomenon of that kind, but rather ‘a mystical experience’ in which the Lord gave rise in his heart to an ‘absolute desire’ to remain alone with him in prayer”. When Pope Benedict announced his resignation in February, he said he had done so after intense prayer and that he intended to live the rest

of his life praying and studying. Some Vatican officials and Vatican watchers were surprised by Zenit’s report of Pope Benedict telling an anonymous visitor that his decision was the result of some form of extraordinary “mystical experience” rather than a decision made after long and careful thought and deep prayer. Catholics traditionally would consider that kind of intense prayer a “mystical experience”, although not something extraordinary. Explaining his decision to resign to a group of cardinals on February


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11, Pope Benedict had said: “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.” He also told the cardinals that he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to serving the Church through his prayers. Since stepping down on February 28, retired Pope Benedict has led a very quiet life, far from the public eye, although he did accept Pope Francis’ invitation to be present on July 5 for the dedication of a statue in the Vatican Gardens. Living in a remodelled monastery in the Vatican Gardens, along with Archbishop Gänswein and four consecrated laywomen, he occasionally welcomes visitors, especially friends,

Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Georg Gänswein, at the last papal audience before the pope announced his retirement in February. (Photo: Paul Haring, CNS) former students and small groups accompanying former students. The meetings are private and rarely reported in the news.—CNS

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Muslims rallied to protect church under attack Dozens of WYD pilgrims seek asylum in Brazil BY LISE ALVES


ORE than 50 pilgrims who attended World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro are seeking asylum in Brazil. Aline Thuller, Caritas’ coordinator for refugees in the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, said the archdiocese received approximately 40 asylum requests from pilgrims from Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Congo. Ms Thuller said two parishes in Rio are providing housing for these asylum seekers. The archdiocese of São Paulo reported that at least 12 pilgrims, including five Pakistani nationals, who attended World Youth Day have approached the archdiocese to ask for help in staying in the country. Larissa Leite, who works for

Caritas in São Paulo, said the five Pakistanis stated they felt a strong religious persecution in their home country and wished to remain in Brazil. As with all who seek asylum in Brazil, the pilgrims will have their cases analysed by the National Committee for Refugees, an agency of the Justice ministry. “As soon as they apply for asylum status, we are able to help them get work permits, national registry numbers and provide them with Portuguese classes while they wait for their case to be reviewed,” said Ms Thuller. Almost 3 million people attended World Youth Day in Rio July 23-28. The event was the first international trip for Pope Francis, who has strongly declared his support for genuine asylum-seekers.— CNS



HURCHES and other Christian properties around Egypt had already been looted, so when Catholics in Berba were tipped off that their southern village could be next, they acted fast. They and other Christian leaders got on their phones and called their Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues who all had the same message: “They were told, ‘Don’t be afraid, we will guard your churches,’ and that is what happened,” said Sr Darlene DeMong, a Canadian member of the Congregation of Notre Dame de Sion who has worked and lived in Egypt since 1978. She was in Berba at the time. When she and two other sisters left the parish convent to stay with village families, “groups of [Muslim] village men showed up to guard it” Sr DeMong said. The men positioned themselves in front of the Catholic church and its development centre, as well as in front of Berba’s other Christian facilities, Sr DeMong said. “The day went by peacefully and

Catholic newspaper’s struggle to call God ‘Allah’ goes on


HE Malaysian government has won the right to continue its appeal against a court ruling that allowed nonMuslims—including a Malay-language Catholic newspaper—to use the word Allah. In a case that has sparked nationwide debate over which religion has exclusive rights to the word Allah, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the government’s efforts to ban the use of the word in Christian publications will continue. The next hearing is scheduled for September 10, reported, an Asian Church news portal. Christians argue that “Allah” is the only word for God in the Malay language. The case dates back to a dispute over the re-registration of the publishing licence for The Herald, a national Catholic weekly, following criticism from the home ministry over political articles that appeared in its pages. In 2009, the Malay edition of The Herald received an injunction to cease publication. The Herald and the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur successfully sued for the right to continue, but the government then lodged an appeal against the high court ruling, which stated that Muslims did not have exclusive ownership of the word Allah. The 2009 ruling spurred acts of vandalism against Christian


ALLS for an Olympic boycott because of a Russian law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” have become “highly politicised”, said an official of the Russian bishops’ conference. Mgr Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, said the Catholic Church would not be adopting an official stance on either the boycott or the law. “It’s hard to predict whether homosexual athletes and fans will face problems at the Olympics—these are issues connected with the life of society in Russia,” Mgr Kovalevsky said. “As a Church, we try to help every Catholic, and everyone

we returned home about 6 pm, but the men stayed outside our house and in front of the church and the development centre all night, and we had no problems, Alhamdulilah,” said Sr DeMong, using the Arabic word for “praise be to God”. The nun said that the parish priest in Berba, about 240km south of Cairo, made special note of what

the village’s Muslims had done to protect their Christian neighbours. “He thanked them, and they could hear it through the sound system.” About 10-15% of Egypt’s 82 million people are Christian, most of them Coptic Orthodox. Egypt has 200 000-300 000 Catholics, most of them of the Eastern Coptic rite.— CNS



Educational requirements: • A recognised 4-year teaching qualification. • 3 years relevant teaching experience. • Must be willing to be actively involved in extra-mural activities Muslim demonstrators display a banner that reads, “Save the word Allah”, outside Malaysia’s court of appeal in Putrajaya. In a case that has sparked nationwide debate over which religion has exclusive rights to the word Allah, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal ruled unanimously that the government’s efforts to ban the use of the word in Christian publications will continue. Allah is the Arabic word for God. (Photo: Bazuki Muhammad, CNS) churches and death threats against the presiding judge in the case. The same year, the government seized shipments of Malay Christian Bibles that contained the word Allah. An agreement signed in 2011 enabled the impounded Bibles to be released, but prosecutors said that had no bearing on the Herald’s case because it did not specifically grant rights to the use of the word Allah. In a statement to the media, the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur addressed the war of words that

has surrounded The Herald’s court case. “The Catholic Church is gravely concerned by the recent statements made by individuals and organisations with regard to the use of the word ‘Allah’,” said the statement, issued by Fr Jestus Pereira, the archdiocesan chancellor. “Many of these statements are stoking racial sentiments and creating religious tension in our country,” he said, urging citizens to “allow the judicial process to take its course”.—CNS

Church: No position on Olympic boycott BY JONATHAN LuXMOORE

A woman lights candles at the Coptic Orthodox church of the Virgin Mary in the Maadi suburb of Cairo. Amid reports of churches being attacked in Egypt by Islamic extremists, there were also cases in which Musllims gathered to protect Christian targets. (Photo: Dana Smillie, CNS)

wishing to become a Catholic, along the path of holiness, as well as to be socialised and fulfill their calling in the world,” he added. Mgr Kovalevsky said homosexuality was a marginal issue in Russian society. “There are very few homosexuals in our Catholic communities, and we direct our pastoral work at individuals, not groups. But we don’t exclude homosexual people either,” he said. Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics from February 7-23, 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Western politicians and gay rights organisations have called for a boycott to protest against a law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”.

The law implies that athletes and fans could face arrest if identifying openly as gays and lesbians. The Russian government has assured the International Olympic Committee, whose charter prohibits discrimination, that the law would not affect athletes and spectators at the Sochi Olympics. Mgr Kovalevsky said that Russia’s million-member Catholic Church has a parish in Sochi that will offer pastoral services to Catholic participants at the Olympics. However, the Church is not planning special initiatives in the resort city, where an Orthodox basilica is being built for the Olympics as part of a “spiritualeducational complex”.—CNS

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Editor: Günther Simmermacher

Using the media


DDRESSING Catholic journalists in Johannesburg, Archbishop William Slattery pin-pointed the reason why the Church finds it so difficult to get its message covered in the secular media. “The Church wishes to proclaim the Gospel and emphasises continuity. The press deals with news, new things. The Church wishes to promote unity and is apprehensive of dissent. Press barons realise that circulation is boosted by struggle and dissent,” he said. Part of the reason why the Catholic Church more often than not gets bad press—aside from the times when the bad press is actually merited—resides in the secular media’s need to present news as drama. The old adage, “if it bleeds, it leads”, has assumed a position of almost absolute primacy in modern news coverage. The media’s need to accentuate shock value was particularly stark in its coverage of the recent unrest in Egypt. If one was exposed to an exclusive diet of US and British news coverage, one might have believed that the whole country was on fire. What most viewers did not see was the solidarity which many Egyptian Muslims showed their Christian neighbours, or the desperation of local tourism workers who receive little income from working in their perfectly safe areas because the international media has, by selective and partial reporting, scared off visiting tourists. Never let it be claimed that journalists are always just passive observers. How the media cover the news can shape the narrative of what they are describing. As consumers of news, we share in the responsibility for the distorted picture of reality. Few of us want news that covers the ordinary. We expect our news to deliver drama, discord and death, and most media comply with that expectation, and in turn feed the demand. Few publications have the option to be free from these demands. Perhaps one reason why you are reading The Southern Cross is that it does offer a relief from the relentless din of bad and alarming news, and instead offers hope. Objectivity in the media has always been a myth, but the advent of so-called citizen journal-

ism, especially on the Internet through blogs, videos, podcasts and so on, gradually diminishes journalistic accountability. The freedoms available to that brand of amateur media—especially from the boardrooms of media conglomerates, agenda-driven publishers and commercial interests—has created welcome potential for the exposure of scandal and injustice. But it has also given rise to a regrettable dilution of journalistic standards. Too often agendas are pursued with the aid of unfiltered opinion and distortion by people who are answerable to no-one. Lack of training and resources may mean that a story is not be told in all its complexities. Unlike traditional media— print and broadcast—there is no editorial control in much of citizen journalism, and little incentive to be accountable to readership or peers. Where in the past readers of newspapers had a fair idea of how much trust they could invest in a newspaper, based on the publication’s past record, consumers of news on the Internet often have no record of experience to which they can refer. Traditional media, especially print publications, are feeling the pinch of a changing culture of media consumption, one that emphasises the soundbite, videoclip and instant reaction over the printed word. No doubt the industry must continue to remodel itself in order to remain relevant. Traditional journalists will need to collaborate with interested non-professionals as a way of disseminating news and views. In many ways, The Southern Cross has been doing this for many years, preceding the age of the Internet, by accepting and encouraging unsolicited news contributions from the community it serves. It is a model which the Catholic Church can fruitfully apply to the secular press. Bishops and other Church leaders can offer leadership by writing opinion articles of broad interest for daily newspapers and their websites, as well as by cultivating good relations with editors. Archbishop Slattery told the media workers: “Society and people have a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice and solidarity.” Catholics have their part to play in facilitating that right.

Join South Africa’s national Catholic weekly and Catholic radio station on a pilgrimage to the ceremony of the

Canonisation of Bl Popes John Paul II & John XXIII led by Fr Emil Blaser OP

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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.

Evolution shared with religion AM curious to know why millions The reality of Christianity is that Ihuman of Christians do not accept that we it slots in perfectly with the idea of beings and chimpanzees evolution. The author(s) of Genesis shared a common ancestor approximately 7 million years ago. Chimps have stayed pretty much the same whereas we humans have mushroomed into quite clever creatures. The fact of the matter is that God can do anything, any way that he deems fit to do so. Right now, throughout the universe, God may have an array of “happenings” going on, which are totally oblivious to us. Perhaps the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in the process of being set up in South Africa and Australia, will one day pick up signs of other civilisations that inhabit the universe, or perhaps even in our galaxy.

Mass behaviour


E often read letters in The Southern Cross expressing concern about irreverent behaviour before and during, Holy Mass. There are a number of actions which should be taken to remedy this, but the major one must be the withdrawal of the temporary permission of allowing Holy Communion to be received in the hand. Unless this is done, we will not even begin to eliminate the “disrespect, irreverence and undignified behaviour at Communion” so strongly condemned by Fr Ralph de Hahn in an earlier letter to The Southern Cross (August 7). The centuries-old and permanent manner of receiving Communion on the tongue, while kneeling, is the Church’s liturgical norm. Fr de Hahn’s plea is that the Southern African bishops be requested “to seriously consider asking pastors and people to revert back to receiving the sacred species on the tongue alone”. The bishop, as the supreme head in his diocese, answerable to the pope alone, can make the change by his own authority. But it is desirable that this change be effected in all dioceses, requiring action from the bishops’ conference. We should follow the example given to us by Pope Bendedict XVI, who distributed Communion to the faithful, only on the tongue, while they were kneeling. Franko Sokolic, Cape Town

Bishops’ book


ANICE Thaysen in her letter on the bishops’ book God: Love, Life and Sex (August 21) refers to the “many extraordinary and hardly credible statements they [the bishops] make”. One may hope that in response to her, the bishops will be big enough to admit that perhaps they

GOD BLESS AFRICA Guard our people, guide our leaders and give us peace. Luke 11:1-13


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had a brilliant insight into the split between chimpanzees and proto humans. The Garden of Eden was a place for complacent creatures, not inquisitive creatures. The Genesis story depicts God as becoming angry when Eve and Adam “sinned”, but perhaps it was jealousy that motivated God to cast them out of Eden. After all, God was in control and had been for millions of years, and here were two miniscule (compared to giant dinosaurs) creatures manifesting signs of God-like intelligence. It is evident that God (God can be cruel) could not cut his ties comhave erred in their publication. Paraphrasing what Fr Christopher Clohessy said in his critique, celibate bishops who possibly are not best qualified to deal with the subject “could perhaps wisely rewrite the book. They could then argue and prove their points after consulting widely with lay theologians and better qualified professionals—male and female”. We are living in different times and particularly against a background of really bad behaviour within the Church itself. If bishops want to be heard, what they have to say needs to be relevant and stand up to challenge. Is the failure of relevance today not the major cause of dwindling church attendance and failure to attract candidates to the priesthood? Michael Bouchier, Stanford

Get balance right


ANY diseases and illnesses are brought about because of stress in our lives. Stress is seen in work situations, family life and even when we are stuck in traffic or exposed to the crime and violence around us. Stress is also found in losses, retrenchments, financial burdens, unforgiveness and so on. The list is long and we all face these things in our lives. Medication helps us to cope at times, health products keep us healthy, but what about the option of relying on the one who knows us 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

pletely with these two-legged, bipedal creatures. After all, God loves all of his creation. He promised them that one day he would send his son to lead them back to their Creator. The quest had already begun with the Greeks, with their pantheon of gods who had been given human form. A number of their gods, Orpheus for one, displayed characteristics of divinity in human form. But ultimately the mantle of “Son of God” would fall on the shoulders of a “homegrown” boy, as was prophesied in Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.” Patrick Dacey, Johannesburg more intimately than we know ourselves: Our Lord and our God. When we know that we can turn to God in our times of need, we feel a weight being lifted from our shoulders. I find that when we have a balance of a healthy diet, exercise and a healthy spiritual life, we can rest assured that the rest of our lives will seem smoother, in spite of our daily challenges. It is getting that balance that is challenging. Time might be against us to do the things we need to do, to ensure our wellbeing. But when we decide to make time to meditate on the Scriptures in the morning, before we rush off to start our day, we will find that the rest of our day will go a lot smoother. This becomes a process to progress. Having experienced this in my life, I can truly say that our faith and grace can sustain us in all situations. Meditation is taking time out to place yourself in a quiet and still place, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In this peace and quiet we give time and space for ourselves, to pray for our intentions, and to find deep peace within ourselves. This is as important a routine as bathing and brushing your teeth. One cannot do without it. It's benefit? Mental health. And a healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand. Trusting and relying on God has seen me through the most strenuous times of my life, for it has enabled me to know that I am only human, and I need to be strengthened by God to do the impossible, because he can. At times we struggle to do things in our own strength, and feel we cannot carry on or cope. Knowing that the Scriptures are the truth, one can go through life in the hopes of renewed strength to face each day. Catherine de Valence, Cape Town


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The heritage of Catholic families Toni Rowland W HAT is our heritage as Catholic families? Is it our family background with all its cultural aspects regarding dress, practices and spirituality, food and language or is it the catechism, possibly translated into a local language, or celebrations such as those I experienced twice in the last month? The first was the ordination of Bishop Zolile Mpambani, who, referring to his childhood days as a herdboy, described himself as the new shepherd in Kokstad diocese. His coat of arms contains some symbols of his family background, mountains, sheep, aloes and the significance they have for ministry and the Church. It was a colourful occasion with many of the thousands present displaying their traditional dress while others wore sodality uniforms or casual wear. The liturgy was traditional but with cultural touches. The other occasion of a cultural celebration which I participated in was Pretoria’s annual archdiocesan pilgrimage of the Assumption of Our Lady. Each year thousands of people progress—not process—into the remote North West Province village of Jonathan where the life-size statue of the Assumption donated by the Assumption Sisters has pride of place. There is a small church, but the truly eye-catching statue, based on a 17th century Italian painting, is displayed in a glass case and is the focal point of the celebration. Women’s sodalities were most prominent in the congregation and there was a fairly good sprinkling of men, some children—but no sign of traditional dress. It was an inspiring day, the liturgy and singing were very good and enthusiastic. There was an opportunity for confession and for private counselling while different sodalities led the praying of the rosary. The healing service with personal healing prayer was greatly valued. It was a very

meaningful spiritual experience. Although Women’s Month was acknowledged, on a family-friendly scale, it rated fairly low. Someone even remarked, a little cynically, that as the youth had their celebration the previous week, that week they were left at home to do as they please. The celebration was really about the “big” Church, not about the “little” domestic church. The archbishop’s closing words also highlighted this for me. He told the people to teach catechism, come to church, visit the sick and the imprisoned, get involved in projects. Those are very important tasks, but what about growing your family, making your family your No 1 church project? Maybe then the out-of-hand drinking, Satanism, sexual immorality and other ills that were also raised as concerns could be prevented more effectively, as a by-product of growing a family’s spirituality. Maybe in September, Heritage Month,

Family Friendly

parishes and families will be looking at their cultural and spiritual heritage. Or maybe next year, being the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, there could be a stronger family focus at such an occasion. Or maybe another more family-friendly event could bring whole families together, or as many members as possible, recognising that different religions are not uncommon in families. In 2014 there will, I hope, be much more emphasis on families as units, looked at holistically as that is the direction in which the government is pushing too. We, as the Church, should not fragment our ministry by keeping evangelisation, liturgy, justice and peace and development separate from family life. All these aspects impact on families; even families that are doing well need ongoing formation.


romoting the vision is the work of the SACBC Family Life Desk, and it’s built into the MARFAM publications I so often refer too. Other family movements may have a more specific focus on marriage, or hurting relationships, but they too can adopt the broader vision. The Family Desk is small and I am getting a little long in the tooth and am anxiously considering the need for a succession plan. Are there any readers out there, culturally sensitive and willing to put their passion for healthy families as the basis of our future Church and society into practice? Let me hear from you at trowland@

Archbishop William Slattery and priests lead celebrations at the shrine of Our Lady of the Assumption in Jonathan, North West.

God is the designer of family life Evans K M Chama M.Afr ANY consider it a right to have access to legal abortion or to contract same-sex marriage. Appeal is made to law makers to give legal recognition to such claimed rights. And law makers are giving in to such pressure, but often for political expediency. What is astonishing is the excessive reliance on such parliamentary law, more than on any other, as if it were the most supreme and only standard of human conduct. For sure we must respect our laws, especially those that enhance our dignity. However, we should watch out for an attitude of pretending to be the absolute master over what is good or bad, often accompanied by systematic refusal to submit to the law of God. Such illusory freedom leads to serious erosion of the moral fibre of our society. Some norms that were once sacred and the mainstay of human conduct have now been crushed to the ground, rendered banal, and left optional for whoever still wants to deem them important. Should decisions on matters regarding marriage and family be left to the popular cry on the street or to the majority voice of parliamentarians to whom nothing seems to count save political gain? Are we not concerned about this evident launch of society into a systematic atheism where a human person not only weans himself from any divine discipline but also goes on to turn himself into his own idol? Adam and Even did it, but they ended up naked.

Our human dignity issues from, and therefore is inseparably connected to, our relation with God. And it is through observing the law of God regarding all aspects of our life that we can maintain this dignity. In the family, man and woman constitute the first form of communion between persons, according to God the creator who saw it wise that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). Thus, the Church says in the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes: “The family…is born of the intimate communion of life and love founded on the marriage between one man and one woman” (48). So, naturally, family is a divine institution.


amily is vital for a healthy person and for a healthy society, for it is the ideal environment where one is born and grows. In the family one learns to be human. However, such development is impossible for someone brought up in a family that refuses to submit itself to the discipline that is proper to human beings. Similarly, when we tamper with family, the foundation of society, we undermine all of society—and the consequences are just too enormous to disregard. Family is founded on the marriage relationship between man and woman established by God. Marriage is not a fruit of mere human initiative. It is therefore presumptuous for any state to arbitrary legislate on marriage and family in a manner that disregards those characteristics which

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define marriage and family, such as fidelity, life-long commitment and respect for life. Matrimony depends not even on the whims of spouses. It is the responsibility of the entire society to safeguard marriage and family with laws, attitudes and behaviours befitting humans according to the will of God the author. Respect for life is another incontestable responsibility of family as expressed in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The family founded on marriage is truly the sanctuary of life where life can be received and nurtured” (231). Thus, responsible parenthood calls to participate in God’s work of creation in a manner that respects life. However, though in its objective truth marriage is ordered to the procreation and education of children, it still exists even without children. The challenge of family today falls on Christians. It’s not the pro-life demonstrations on streets that will safeguard the sacredness of family, but rather a style of life that is prophetic and exemplary, capable of provoking questions and admiration in others. Such inspiration will come certainly not from parliament but from the law of God as taught by the Church.

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013

Anthony Gathambiri IMC


Point of Reflection

Care for the divorced and remarried


N his flight to Rome from Rio de Janeiro in July, Pope Francis commented on the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics with regard to Holy Communion. “I think this is the time to show mercy,” the pope said. “The Church is a mother and in the Church we need to be merciful toward everyone. We shouldn’t wait for the wounded to come to us, we need to go out and search for them.” He pointed out that divorcees may receive Communion, if they are not remarried. On the question of remarried divorcees, he said that it’s a pastoral issue that needs to be revisited. With the rising cases of divorce in Africa, we cannot bury our heads in the sand. We have our divorcees everywhere. Some are our mothers and fathers, our sisters and brothers, our own children and friends. Divorce represents a spiritual crisis which can’t be ignored by any faith community that is open to the signs of the times. We have a huge responsibility to help wounded divorcees rediscover their esteem and open clean chapters of forgiveness. Some people are divorced against their will. Judging or condemning them deepens their yawning wounds. It is painful when divorced Catholics are told that they are unworthy of assuming some responsibilities in the parish, or to approach some sacraments. Some have left the Church with bitterness; because they cannot endure any longer the pain their fellow Catholics have caused them. Divorcees look for somebody who can walk alongside them. They migrate across the denominational borders in search of pastors and communities that won’t condemn or marginalise them. In divorce, children are the most affected persons. One way of walking alongside divorcees is through supporting their kids by showing them warmth and giving them a welcome. The gospel of Luke warns: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (16:18). For this reason, the Church excludes them from receiving the Eucharist. What pastoral help can we offer people in that difficult situation? The parish community can help by reassuring them that they are loved and not outside the Church. Involving them in some responsibilities is a way of telling them that they are important. By offering spiritual direction, their priest can explain that even when they don’t receive Communion, they are in communion with Christ when they worship together with the Body of Christ, and the Word is another way of meeting God in the Eucharistic celebration. And, of course, a priest can explain the importance of spiritual communion. Those who have remarried after a divorce should be treated as brothers and sisters in the Church. Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio said that “divorcees and the remarried Catholics should not consider themselves or be considered as separated from the Church”.

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Members of Justice and Peace from Pretoria archdiocese ready to embark on their ministry.

Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani was ordained as bishop of Kokstad at Kokstad College rugby grounds by Archbishops William Slattery of Pretoria (seen above laying hands on the new bishop) and Stephen Brislin of Cape Town and Bishop Michael Wüstenberg of Aliwal, the new bishop’s home diocese.

Send your photos to pics@ scross.

Six children were baptised and 18 candidates received first Holy Communion at St Francis of Assisi parish in Rust-ter-vaal, Johannesburg. The Mass was concelebrated by parish priest Fr Justin Inandjo SMA and Fr Sebastian Roussow OMI.

St Joseph’s the Worker parish in Chatty, Port Elizabeth, attended an annual youth rally in Somerset East, Port Elizabeth. (Back from left) Clint Weldschidt, Reagan Stride, Aiden Brandt, Kenan Damons, Russel Williams, (front) Carry Pietersen, Crystal Damons, Shelley Paulsen, Nadine Jacobs and Patricia Gajjar.

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Confirmation candidates from St John Bosco parish in Westridge, Cape Town, are pictured with Fr Pat Lonergan and Archbishop Stephen Brislin. Fr Lonergan died soon after.


Pilgrimage to Poland & Medjugorje led by Fr Victor Phalana 4-18 May 2014 Pilgrimage of Grace to Israel and Italy 30 Aug-12 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage to Poland led by Fr Stanislaw Jagodzinski 3-17 June 2014 Pilgrimage to Israel led by Fr Jerome Nyathi 29 June-9 July 2014 Pilgrimage to Italy & Medjugorje led by Fr Sammy Mabusela 31 Aug-13 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage of Thanksgiving to Italy & Medjugorje led by Fr Maselwane 7-20 Sep 2014 Pilgrimage to Medjugorje led by Fr Donovan Wheatley 21 Sep-9 Oct 2014 Pilgrimage to Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Lourdes, Paris & Nevers 28 Sep-11 Oct 2014 Pilgrimage of Healing to Lourdes for Disabled pilgrims and families led by Fr Emil Blaser 11-19 Oct 2014 Contact: Tel: 012 342 0179/072637 0508 (Michelle) E-Mail:

St Henry’s Marist College student Rosland Forbay and her sister Rene went to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. The two Durban girls were excited to see hundreds of thousands of Catholic youth coming together to learn how to respond to the challenge to make Jesus Christ relevant to their peers. They were part of the almost three million-strong crowd which descended on Copacabana beach to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis.

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The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013



Running more than just the parish Becoming a priest means running a lot. These priests took that to mean something quite different and today can be seen running along the country’s roads and trails, keeping fit. CLAIRE MATHIESON learns more.


ATHER Mbulelo Qumntu started running while in the seminary in 1999 with his friends. What was first a means to de-stress, running soon became more “serious, meaningful and purposeful during our theological training”. The seminarians started running races around Pretoria which gave the future priests “motivation and discipline”. “The effects and fruits of our running were easily identified as we had healthy bodies, mentalities and spirits. These fitted well with the seminary programme which had a goal of producing holistic priests,” Fr Qumntu told The Southern Cross. The staff at St John Vianney Seminary provided a great source of support and inspiration for men completing the marathons But once the runners left the seminary and were placed in parishes, the reality of running a parish and running marathons proved to be quite different. Today, Fr Qumntu is based at All Saints cathedral in Mthatha where the joys of the ministry crept in and the “dynamic pastoral life threw me from pillar to post”. The camaraderie that was built in the seminary run-

Fr Mark James running the Comrades in 2012. (From left) Frs Thembalethu Mana, Mbulelo Qumntu Mthatha and Bekithemba Tungo, lining up for this year’s Comrades Marathon in Durban. Fr Russell Pollitt (right) with Graham Wilson during the AfricaX trail-race. ning was a thing of the past. But leaving the seminary did not mean leaving the sport. Fr Qumntu said it took time to get back on the road but the running friends Frs Bekithemba Tungo from Eshowe diocese and Thembalethu Mana from Port Elizabeth had a score to settle: the Comrades Marathon. The priests no longer shared the same corridors; motivation to get on the road would now be a solo effort. “It meant that one had to dig deep into his self-motivation, discipline and efficacy,” said Fr Qumntu. Another challenge was the issue of time. “Pastoral responsibilities can be unpredictable in the sense that parishioners expect the priest to be on call right round the clock.”

Clothing, running shoes, travel expenses and race entries were further challenges for the priest from Mthatha—a diocese with no marathons. Fr Qumtu said it was thanks to the generosity of friends and parishioners that he was able to achieve these physical feats. The sport has also motivated Fr Qumtu in other spheres of his life. “Another importance of keeping fit is the fact that the priest is seen actively and dramatically preaching the gospel of healthy living. My parishioners envy me when they see me out in the cold early in the morning running. They approach me for tips and motivation. The bond, he said, helps him in reaching his parishioners.

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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.



s Christians we believe that our bodies are sacred and so we should take care of them. It is good for priests to try and live a balanced lifestyle—this includes exercise!” said Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, a keen runner from Johannesburg. “I also think that physical exercise is important for the mind and the spirit, and if priests are going to minister in a healthy way to people’s minds and spirits then physical exercise is important. Life is about learning balance and I think that this is part of it.” Fr Pollitt said during formation one is encouraged to live a balanced life—rest, study, ministry, social and exercise—but this can soon be forgotten amongst the stress and busy lifestyles we lead today. He said modern technology has not helped encourage us to be active and many of us live sedentary lives. It’s just another reason to exercise. “I enjoy the running. [It’s a] time to think, clear the head, and socialise with others from the club I belong to. It’s also great just to get out and see the world around and smell the early morning smells! It gives me space and sometimes helps me cope with frustrations and irritations.” The Jesuit admits that finding time to exercise inbetween pastoral duties is not easy. “But I also know that I was more effective and happier when I did carve out some time for exercise. I felt much better. The times I allowed it to slip I got irritated more easily and became short with people.” Fr Pollitt has used his running to help raise funds for his parish. For the past two years, the running Jesuit has tackled some of the Western Cape’s most gruelling mountains in a trail race called AfricaX where runners cover 90km over mountains and hills in three days. “There is a freedom and complete peace I find in the bush and on the trails like AfricaX. For hours my thoughts and reflections on life, love, God, meaning and purpose are processed in a setting no camera can capture. The deafening silence, the sand crunching below running shoes, the call of the birds, the rivers and streams and the wind blowing the heads of the pine plantations up above and the sea breaking in the distance is the perfect setting for a ‘soul moment’.” But as much as a personal journey running is, it is also a social sport and often crossing a finish line is a team effort. “The support and camaraderie when you think you may not actually make the last few exhausting kilometres is amazing. There is another side of humanity one sees in this endurance test. Strangers meet, come together, exchange stories and support each other as they try to conquer the power of nature and their own physical and psychological limitations.” For Fr Pollitt, there are a number of parallels between trail-running and the spiritual life. “Both require huge commitment, both require long hard climbs in shaded valleys that offer little view. Both reach their high points and offer amazing in-

sights and views of the world below. Both never finish on the top but lead us back down into the valleys and towns where life is busy and bustling. Both leave us consoled when we reach the finish line every day but also point to the next stage, the next day, which will have challenges of its own and perhaps steeper ascents and descents as the day and life unfold.”


ominican Father Mark James might not have always been a priest but he was always sports mad. Coming from a family that encouraged sports, he played football, cricket, hockey and tennis. It was in the early 1980s when at Wits University that the future priest took to the road and in 1988—when at St Joseph’s Scholasticate in Cedara— running became a way of life for the priest. Fr James ran his first Comrades in 1989. “It was a down-run”—when runners start in Pietermaritzburg and end in Durban—“and I swore I would never do it again, but I was back the following year doing my best time of 8 hours 55 minutes”. Over the years, Fr James has finished eight Comrades after ten starts. “Running for me is personal time,” Fr James told The Southern Cross, adding that it is often difficult to find the time to train with others due to the responsibilities of being a priest. “It is a drawback at times because training with a running mate helps to keep one disciplined. The companionship assists one to stick to one’s training schedule too,” he said. “I find that religious life and ministerial life have their own rhythms. It is difficult to coordinate this with finding time to train as well as run races.” In order to run the Comrades, one must complete a qualifying marathon within a certain time. Most races take place on Sunday mornings—a time when most priests are saying Sunday Mass. Fr James said it is with careful planning and the odd Saturday race that he has been able to get his qualifiers in. The Dominican believes it is important for priests to keep themselves in shape. “Ministry is a stressful task in today’s world. Exercise is a healthy de-stressor. When I am fit, I find that I can deal with challenges more easily.” However, Fr James knows how difficult it is to exercise when stressed. “Exercising is usually the last thing you feel like doing. You would prefer rather to plonk oneself in front of the TV with some comfort food and relax.” He adds the drawback is that it is difficult to get back on the road after picking up a few extra kilograms. Keeping up with running is not easy. Fr James took an eight-year break after losing enthusiasm and dealing with a challenging ministry where he travelled often. Three years ago, he got back on the road—not only running but also cycling. “I realise now how much I have missed the joy of being on the road and feeling fit and experiencing the runner’s high.”


The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013


Twin priests were saved from abortion In 1984 doctors advised a mother in Chile to abort her “deformed” foetus. She refused—and years later her twin sons were both ordained to the priesthood.


WIN brothers in Chile say that their mother’s determination in protecting them from abortion despite the advice of doctors helped to foster their vocations to the priesthood. “How can I not defend the God of life?” asked Fr Paulo Lizama. “This event strengthened my vocation and gave it a specific vitality, and therefore, I was able to give myself existentially to what I believe,” he said. “I am convinced of what I believe, of what I am and of what I speak, clearly by the grace of God.” Fr Paulo and his identical twin brother, Fr Felipe, were born in the Chilean town of Lagunillas de Casablanca. Before discovering her pregnancy, their mother, Rosa Silva, had exposed herself to X-rays while performing her duties as a paramedic. Because of this, after confirming the pregnancy, her doctor conducted ultrasounds and informed her that he had seen “something strange” in the image. “The baby has three arms and its feet are sort of entangled. It also has two heads,” he told her. Although abortion for “therapeutic” reasons was legal at the time in Chile and doctors told her that her life was in danger, Mrs Silva opposed the idea and said she would accept whatever God would send her. “The Lord worked and produced a twin pregnancy. I don’t know if the doctors were wrong or what,” Fr Felipe said. “I always think with special af-

Frs Paulo (left) and Felipe Lizama, who are identical twins, concelebrate Mass after being ordained together as Catholic priests in Chile. When their mother was pregnant with them, she was advised to have an abortion for health reasons. (Photo: CNA) fection and tenderness of the heart of my mother who gave her life for me, for us,” Fr Paolo added. The two brothers were born on September 10, 1984. Felipe was born first, and when the placenta would not detach, doctors suggested scraping her womb. Mrs Silva refused, however, saying she felt another baby was coming out. Paulo was born 17 minutes later. “This last detail is very significant for me,” Fr Paulo said. “The doctors inserted instruments to remove the placenta because it wouldn’t come out. My mother

knew that I was there. I was late, but I came out.” Had doctors scraped his mother’s womb, he would likely have been “gravely injured”.


he twins learned about the circumstances of their birth when they were in the sixth year of seminary formation. “It was surely the wisdom of my mother and her heart that allowed us to learn of such an amazing event at the right time,” Fr Paulo said. He reflected that while he had al-

ways thought his priestly vocation came during adolescence, he later realised that God was working in his life from the beginning, thanks to the “yes” of his mother. Although they grew up in a Catholic home, the Lizama brothers drifted away from the faith and stopped attending Mass. However, their parents’ separation and divorce led them back to the Church, and they received the sacrament of confirmation. At the time, Fr Paulo said, he lacked conviction in his faith but was attracted by the Blessed Sacra-

ment, Gregorian chant, and the silent reverence of prayer. Fr Felipe said he was drawn to God through a priest, Fr Reinaldo Osorio, who would later become his formation director at the seminary. “God was calling me. I realised that it was in God and in the things of God that I was happy, there was no doubt: I wanted to be a priest,” he recalled. Despite being close, the two brothers did not talk about their vocations with each other. “I don’t know who felt the call first,” Fr Paulo said. “I think God did things the right way in order to safeguard the freedom of our response.” In March 2003, they both entered the seminary. While it was difficult for the family to accept the brothers’ decision at first, their mother told them after the first year of formation that she was at peace, realising that they were happy. The twins were ordained priests on April 28, 2012, and celebrated their first Mass together at Our Lady of Mercies in Lagunillas. Now, just over a year after their ordination, Fr Felipe serves at the parish of St Martin of Tours in Quillota, and Fr Paulo at the parish of the Assumption of Mary in Achupallas. “God doesn’t mess around with us. He wants us to be happy, and the priesthood is a beautiful vocation and that makes us completely happy,” Fr Felipe said. Following Jesus is not easy, but it is beautiful, added Fr Paulo. “Jesus, the Church and the world need us,” he explained. “But they don’t need just any young person: they need young people empowered by the truth of God, so that their very lives convey life, their smiles convey hope, their faces convey faith and their actions convey love.”—CNA


Applications are invited for the following post


We accommodate small Conferences, Retreats and workshops

We are 5mins from Howick Falls, 10min from Midmar Dam, 20 mins from Pietermaritzburg. Contact veronica 083 784 7455, Email Regrettable due to stolen telephone cables, we do not have a landline anymore.

A group of readers is preparing audio tapes of excerpts from The Southern Cross for interested people who are blind, sight-impaired, unable to hold a newspaper or illiterate.

Anyone wanting to receive tapes as part of this service, available for an annual subscription fee of only R50, may contact Mr Len Pothier, 8 the Spinney Retirement village, Main Rd, Hout Bay, 7806 or phone 021-790 1317.

The Post Office will deliver and return tapes without charge. Should you know of any interested blind or otherwise reading-impaired person, please inform them of this service.

MONASTERY RETREAT HOUSE PO Box 11095, Mariannhill 3624


Weekend Retreat. Theme: Life is A Banquet – Even With A Crust. ‘The jar of flour shall not give out nor the flask of oil fail’, by Fr Pierre Lavoipierre


8-day Directed Retreats by Fr Urs Fischer and Br Crispin Graham.

DECEMBER 24 - JANUARy 1, 2014


2014 JANUARy 2 - FEBRUARy 1

Spiritual Exercises according to St ignatius of Loyola. Thirty days of prayer and meditation. Led by Fr Urs Fischer

Personally guided retreats may be arranged at any time throughout the year to suit individual need. Reception: Fr Urs Fischer Fax

For Bookings:

Cellphones: 083 963 3848 083 544 1504 082 730 7180 Email:

031 700 2155 031 700 2890 031 700 2738

Fr Urs Fischer Bro Crispin Mrs N Qupa

Catholic Schools’ Office: Cape Town

The Catholic Schools’ Office in Cape Town is the administrative and working arm of the Catholic Schools’ Board, servicing the needs of the Catholic schools in the Western and Southern Cape.

Due to the retirement of the present incumbent, the Catholic Schools’ Board invites applications for the post of Director, which becomes vacant from 1 January 2014.

the Board is seeking to appoint a suitably-qualified and motivated person who will:  be a practising Catholic and will understand, identify with and contribute to the Catholic ethos and values of our schools;  be a qualified and experienced teacher with recent school management experience;  be qualified and experienced in the area of Catholic Religious Education;  have the necessary expertise and knowledge of educational developments, especially in the area of Catholic Education;  have energy, perseverance and a creative approach to dealing with challenges;  have the capacity to work both in a team and independently;  demonstrate proven leadership, interpersonal and organisational skills. The post will be demanding, challenging and exciting. The successful applicant will need a valid driver’s license, and be willing to travel and visit schools throughout the Western Cape Province. Competency in English and another language of the Western Cape is a recommendation. Applications should be submitted to:the Chairperson: Catholic Schools’ Board, P.O. Box 19018, Wynberg, 7824 Or Email: The application should include a full CV and the names of three contactable referees, one of whom should be your parish priest. Closing date for applications: 23 September 2013

The Board reserves the right not to proceed with the filling of this post. An application will not in itself entitle the applicant to an interview or appointment, and failure to meet the minimum requirements of the advertised post will result in applicants automatically disqualifying themselves from consideration.

No faxed applications accepted. Candidates not contacted shall consider their application unsuccessful.

The Southern Cross, September 4 to September 10, 2013



ATHER Mick Crowley MSC, who died on August 17 in Ireland aged 79, had a lethal laugh – he could disarm just about anyone no matter how upset or angry they were. If the laugh didn’t quite work, his smile with the bluest of Irish eyes would do the trick. He could harness people’s talents to get something done. People found it difficult to resist his call for a helping hand. In his 45 years of active service in the archdiocese of Cape Town, Fr Crowley ministered to all inspired by the Gospel of social justice and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. He showed loving kindness to the people he served and they in turn loved everything about him—his generosity of spirit, his spontaneity, his voice of hope in a sea of misery, and his humour. Through his influential association with Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD), he supported the Church’s option for the poor and encouraged others to do the same. Fr Crowley understood the bigger picture of ministry in the context of apartheid and its devastating impact on a society obsessed by race and fragmented by racism. In his autobiography, To Cape Town and Back, the story of the Sacred Heart Missionaries in apartheid South Africa, he writes on the dangers facing a newcomer to the country: “We were warned to be aware of the venomous cobra, the spitting rinkhals and the sluggish puff adder, but no one warned us of the real snake in the grass— apartheid—that piece of social engineering euphemistically referred to as separate development.” As he was to find out, with the rest of the world, where there was segregation there was no development; and where there was development there was no segregation. Fr Crowley’s book also serves as a tribute to the many missionaries, men and women, from numerous religious communities, who came to South Africa to evangelise, to teach and to heal—to those who served as formators, who got

Lumko Missiological Centre going. He writes of Ave Maria Pastoral and Development Centre near Mooketsie as a lighthouse that came closest to the ideal of making the vision of Vatican II a reality. It was here, too, that his confrere Bishop Hugh Slattery supported workshops that helped Church workers to see the value of using social communications in their response to HIV/Aids.


ichael Crowley was born on January 9, 1934 at Leap in the diocese of Cork and Ross. He made his first profession in 1953 and his final profession on September 21, 1956. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 24, 1958 and arrived in South Africa aboard the mailship Athlone Castle the following year, along with his classmates of seven years: Frs Dick Broderick, Eamon Donohue and Colm Mulligan. Fr Crowley began his early ministry in 1960 in the diocese of Tzaneen, studying Sotho at St Scholastica mission, followed by a short stay at Ofcolaco mission. He was then appointed to Our Lady of Peace parish at Makhodo (formerly Louis Trichardt). In 1965 he went to Corpus Christi College, London, to study catechetics. He returned to the diocese in 1966 to become director of the newly opened Catechist Training Centre at Dwars River. In 1974 he moved to Cape Town to do a degree in social science at the University of Cape Town. He chose studies that would bring him

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Liturgical Calendar Year C Weekdays Cycle Year 1

Sunday, September 8, 23rd Sunday Wisdom 9:13-18, Psalm 90:3-6, 12-13, 14-17, Philemon 1:9-10, 12-17, Luke 14:25-33 Monday, September 9, St Peter Claver Colossians 1:24, 2:3, Psalm 62:6-7, 9, Luke 6:6-11 Tuesday, September 10 Colossians 2:6-15, Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, Luke 6:12-19 Wednesday, September 11 Colossians 3:1-11, Psalm 145:2-3, 10-13, Luke 6:20-26 Thursday, September 12, Holy Name of the BVM Sirach 24:17-21, Luke 1:46-50, 53-54, Luke 1:26-38 Friday, September 13, St John Chrysostom 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14, Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 11, Luke 6:39-42 Saturday, September 14, Exaltation of the Holy Cross Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 78:1-2, 34-38, Philippians 2:6-11, John 3:13-17 Sunday, September 15, 24th Sunday Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14, Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 17, 19, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-32 or 15:1-10

closer to the economic and psychosocial distress experienced by grassroots communities in their daily life. During the following 30 years Fr Crowley served in several ministries: assistant to Fr Tom Nicholson MSC at St Pius X, Plumstead; parish priest at St Anthony’s, Hout Bay; 20 years as parish priest at St Joseph’s, Goodwood; director of catechesis; confessor to the Carmel convent; spiritual director to St Vincent de Paul; and part-time social worker at the Child Welfare Society. Catechist Paul Harvey recalls Fr Crowley’s enriching ministry to the Goodwood community, his efforts to support and sustain faith life at Our Lady of the Rosary, Ruyterwacht, and his quick wit to correct misbehaviour. “We really missed him when he left,” he said. Fr Crowley also contributed to the growth of CWD, serving as chair from 1979-94. Integral to his own view of Church and society was his belief in the bishops’ Pastoral Plan to develop communities that would serve humanity in the spirit of Christ. Fr Crowley appreciated the enterprising spirit and vision of CWD coordinator Peter Templeton and backed his efforts to develop the agency into a dynamic and professional organisation that would build bridges into the various communities of the Cape Flats and pioneer new initiatives and interventions. Along the way, CWD became a lifeline of compassion and solidarity to communities struggling with hardship, displacement and humiliation under apartheid. Fr Crowley left South Africa in 2004 to do pastoral work at Myross Wood House, County Cork in Ireland, and to complete his work To Cape Town and Back. He was active until his health began to fail through diabetes. He was admitted to Bantry Hospital several weeks ago before his death there. The Requiem was held at the parish church in Leap, County Cork, on August 19, followed by his burial in the adjoining cemetery, alongside his late parents James and Ellen Crowley. n Sydney Duval served on the management board of CWD under Fr Mick Crowley.

Our bishops’ anniversaries This week we congratulate: September 6: Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria on his 70th birthday September 6: Bishop Dabula Mpako of Queenstown on his 54th birthday.


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FERNANDES—Dearest Narcizo beloved husband, father and grandfather left us on 6/9/2002. We thank you Lord for an amazing kind, gentle loving and giving soul. Always giving to all without counting the costs. Your memory will live on in our hearts forever. We miss you lots. Your loving wife Maureen, children and grandchildren. RIP till we are all together again. MULHOLLAND—Our very dear friend Cora left us on 6/9/2012. Daily remembered and fondly missed by Maureen and family. We know you and Narcizo are enjoying the crosswords and the view from up there. RIP dear friend. NORTON—in loving memory of our darling father, John Robert Norton, who died in September 1986, now joined by his greatly beloved wife, Lilian Clara. We shall always love and remember them with immense pride as well as enduring gratitude for the wonderful parents that they were to us. Their loving daughters Lucy and Marianne.


ABORTION is murder— Silence on this issue is not golden, it’s yellow! Avoid ‘Pro-abortion’ politicians. CAMPS BAY Catholic Church requires an Organist for the 9 am Mass. Please contact Seumas Reynolds on 021 510 5078 O\H 083 269 4278. NOTHING is politically right if it is morally wrong. Abortion is evil. Value life! THE CATHOLIC Chaplaincy of The university of Cape Town, Kolbe House, consists of a CATHOLIC CENTRE where students may gather for Mass on Sundays, various other spiritual and social events and choir practice. The Chaplain also provides counseling from his office

there. It also consists of a RESIDENCE for students, consisting of 19 rooms, 17 of which are singles and two doubles. The doubles have ensuite ablution and toilet facilities. Rooms are cleaned weekly and toilets daily. Students cater for themselves in a well equipped kitchen and shops are no more than 150 metres away. The CHAPLAINCY is set in a garden environment within walking distance of the main university campuses and of the shuttle service to Medical School. It has a perimeter fence and each room has its own security arrangements, mainly burglar bars and trellidors. Prices for single rooms are R37 000 per annum and doubles 80% of this amount per person. Qualified and experienced Wardens live on the property. Contact: Email contact is preferred, net otherwise speak to or SMS Jock at 082 308 0080 or Karen at 082 773 2484.


HOLY ST JUDE, apostle

and martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor of all who invoke you, special patron in time of need. To you I have recourse from the depth of my heart and humbly beg you to come to my assistance. Help me now in my urgent need and grant my petitions. In return I promise to make your name known and

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DVD surround sound system for a charitable home in Cape Town area. Phone Gail at 076 352 3809 (o/h)

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Website: 24th Sunday: September 15 Readings: Exodus 32: 7-11, 13-14, Psalm 51: 3-4, 12-13, 17, 19, 1Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-32


HAT do you do about serious sin? Well, if you are God, it appears, you forgive it, at times to the immense annoyance of the onlookers. That seems to be the message of next Sunday’s readings. The first reading is the aftermath of that terrible story of the Golden Calf, when the Israelites, with Aaron as their accomplice, had got bored with waiting for Moses up the mountain, and had constructed a “new god” for themselves, an idol of which (unbelievably) they proclaimed: “Here is your God, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” God therefore orders Moses to go back down the mountain, “because your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have turned corrupt”. So God is proposing to destroy them all (“leave me alone, for my anger to blaze against them”), and simply to concentrate on Moses: “I’ll make you a great nation.” Moses, however, and all credit to him, stands up to God, and reminds him that they are “your people, whom you brought out from the land of Egypt”, that he does not want the Egyptians to accuse God of genocide, and asks God to remember the ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the promise that he had made to them. Then, quite remarkably, “God repented of

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Sunday Reflections

the evil which he said he would do to his people”. Obviously God cannot “repent”; see, however, what this text is saying about our God, that we are dealing with one who takes our sinfulness very seriously indeed, but will not destroy us. And that can be rather shocking. The psalm is the song put on David’s lips after he repented of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, and shows the same confidence in a God who is, rather shockingly, prepared to forgive: “Have mercy on me, God, in accordance with your steadfast love, in accordance with your great mercy, wash away my transgression.” The singer recognises the need for a change of heart, not in God, but in himself: “Create for me a pure heart, O God, and create a new spirit within me—don’t send me away from your presence, don’t take your holy spirit from me.”

And what we should be noticing above all is the poet’s assumption is that God is instinctively forgiving, no matter how serious our offence. That is what Paul realises in the second reading, from 1 Timothy, as he expresses his gratitude “to the one who empowered me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he regarded me as faithful, setting me [aside] for service”, for, as he now sees it, he had sinned gravely: “Formerly a blasphemer, and a persecutor and a violent aggressor—but I was mercied, because I had acted unknowingly, out of lack of faith.” That rather odd-sounding word “mercied” is used also in the Sermon on the Mount: “Congratulations to the merciful, for they shall be mercied.” That is what God does, as Paul continues: “The grace of our Lord overflowed with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The heart of the matter is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am Number One—and that is why I was mercied.” So it is all about God’s shocking tendency to forgive serious sin. That is what the gospel for next Sunday celebrates. It starts with all the wrong people flocking to Jesus: “All the tax-collectors and sinners.” You might ask yourself what is the equiva-

Have you been saved? T

HE famed and feisty psychologist Fritz Perls was once asked by a wellmeaning Christian if he was saved. He responded by saying: “I am still trying to figure out how to be spent!” His retort echoes a line from St Teresa of Avila which states that once we reach the highest mansion of maturity we are left with only one question: How can I be helpful? Both Perls and St Teresa are right, and their insight is a needed challenge. We too easily and too frequently get the wrong focus apposite both Christian discipleship and human maturity. The real question in our lives, at least during our adult years, shouldn’t be: What must I do to go to heaven? Or, what must I do to avoid going to hell? Not that concerns about our own salvation are unimportant or that heaven and hell are unreal; the point is rather that our deepest motivation has to be to do things for others and not for ourselves. For the main part, our own salvation will take care of itself if we focus on the needs of others. Granted, both Scripture and what’s best in human wisdom do say that we may not be so overly-focused on helping others that we neglect our own needs, but both also make it clear, as does the Prayer of St Francis, that taking care of ourselves is paradoxical and we who receive what we need for our own lives are saved primarily by giving it away to others. And so our primary concern shouldn’t be with the question: Am I saved? Or even with the question: Have I found Jesus as


Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI

Final Reflection

my personal Saviour? Again, this needs qualification: a personal and affective relationship with Jesus is not, for any Christian, an unimportant or negotiable thing. Indeed in the gospels, particularly in John, a deep, affective, personal relationship to Jesus is the central component within Christian discipleship and is an end in itself. We don’t, at the end of the day, develop a relationship with Jesus so that we have the energy and proper compass out of which to minister to others, though that is very much part of it. Rather we develop an intimate relationship with Jesus because that is an end in itself, the ultimate reason we become Christian. In affirming that, the traditions of Evangelical Christians and of Catholic devotional practice are both correct. Nothing trumps a personal, affective relationship with Jesus and outside of that connection we aren’t in fact real disciples of Christ. However Jesus himself mitigates any fundamentalism or one-sided devotional understanding of this by linking intimacy to him with the other half of the great commandment: “Love God, and love neighbour”.

Simply put, we show our love for God, our intimacy with Jesus, by laying down our lives for our neighbour. Christian discipleship is never only about Jesus and me, even as it is always still about Jesus and me. A priest friend of mine who teaches at a secular university was once asked by one of his students: “Father, have you met Jesus Christ?” His answer doubtless reflected some fatigue: “Yes,” he replied, “I have met Jesus Christ, and it messed up my whole life! There are days when I wish I hadn’t met him!” What his answer, in its irreverence, correctly highlights is that meeting Jesus implies a lot more than a private, romantic, affective and safe encounter with him, and that meeting Jesus is more than having a private feeling in the soul that we are loved by and secure with God. A non-negotiable part of meeting Jesus means being sent out, and not just alone on some private spiritual quest or individualised ministry. It means being called into community, into a church, and then sent out with others, “in pairs”, to, as Nikos Kazantzakis poetically puts it, “walk in Christ’s bloody footsteps”—that is, to walk inside of mess and failure, misunderstanding and crucifixion, confusion and tiredness, darkness and God’s seeming silence, wondering sometimes if you will indeed find a stone upon which to lay your head. Intimacy with Jesus mostly doesn’t look like intimacy in a Hollywood film or like intimacy as defined in the manuals of privatised spirituality. It looks more like the intimacy that Jesus experienced with his Father as he walked resolutely towards Jerusalem, against the advice of his intimate circle, swallowing hard, knowing what awaited him there. The Jesuit Volunteer Corps summarise their discipleship in these words: “Ruined for life!” That wonderfully grasps both the intimacy and what it means. Teresa of Avila suggests that we’re mature in following Christ if our questions and concerns no longer have a self-focus: Am I saved? Have I met Jesus Christ? Do I love Jesus enough? These questions remain, and they remain valid; but they’re not meant to be our main focus. Our real question needs to be: How can I be helpful? Perls simply puts it more graphically: How can I be spent? During our adult lives that trumps the question: Have I been saved?

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lent in our society: “Child-abusers and corrupt officials,” for example. There is no one so evil that our God cannot forgive them. The Pharisees and scribes were, not unreasonably, profoundly upset that Jesus “gives hospitality to these terrible people—and he eats with them!” To eat with someone was to establish a profound bond with them in that culture, and the Pharisees were trying to set up a table-fellowship so pure that the Messiah would be able to come and dine with them. No wonder they were shocked. So Jesus tells them three stories about people losing things and then rediscovering them, and throwing a party to celebrate. There is the lost sheep (and that is absurd, abandoning ninety-nine to go and look for the dim-witted wanderer), which the shepherd rediscovers, and then invites everyone in for a party; then there is the lost coin, when a woman who loses a single drachma, searches the house and finds it, and invites her girlfriends in for a party, on which she certainly spent far more than the value of the missing coin. Finally there is the appalling story of the ungrateful sons; the younger virtually dismisses his father as dead: “Give me the money now, while I can enjoy it,” and the elder brother seethes with resentment that he has not had special treatment. The father’s behaviour is deeply shocking, and we should read this gospel several times over in the coming week in order to experience the shock.

Southern Crossword #566

aCrOSS 5. Kind of bishop giving support (4) 7. Unlimited power of God (10) 8. French priest (4) 10. Cistercian who lures animals? (8) 11. Office of Benedictine superior (6) 12. Let time pass, please (6) 14. Save from sin (6) 16. Sewing thread (6) 17. Troll ate one who gives you your portion (8) 19. Settles the bill (4) 21. Government by bishops (10) 22. ... is given to us (Is 9) (1,3)

DOWN 1. Goya changes to Hindu discipline (4) 2. Educated (8) 3. Not cheap (6) 4. Give an account (6) 5. Above one spinner (4) 6. So try icons for council of cardinals (10) 9. Chapter and verse in this form (5,5) 13. He’s uncanonically in the papacy (8) 15. Short exam to leave college (6) 16. Position of assistant priest (6) 20. Also yapping for the hidden bean (4)

Solutions on page 11



T the beginning of the homily, the priest told the congregation: “All those who want to go to heaven, stand up.” The whole congregation rose. “And if you want to follow Satan into hell, remain standing.” As one, the whole congregation sat down. Just as Father was about to continue, he heard giggling at the back. He asked: “What’s so funny over there?” “Well,” replied one of the wags at the back, “you’re the only one still standing.” Send us your favourite Catholic joke, preferably clean and brief, to The Southern Cross, Church Chuckle, PO Box 2372, Cape Town, 8000.


4 September - 10 September, 2013

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