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July 6 to July 12, 2016
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Is it People versus Politicians?
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Apparitions of Our Lady in Argentina
‘SA politicians fuel violence’ BY BRONWEN DACHS
Our Lady of Mercy in Durban’s catechism class visited the Denis Hurley Centre’s feeding programme in the inner city with gifts of cake and farm vegetables. As part of their catechism and Year of Mercy courses, they shared a meal with some of the city’s homeless, unemployed and refugees. (From left) Evan Raaths, 10, Abdul Hakkem and Jordan Durkin, 9, enjoy cake together. (Photo: Rogan Ward)
OUTH African Church leaders have urged an end to pre-election violence and criticised politicians for fuelling it. “We are disappointed that our political leaders have not been loud enough in their condemnation of recent factional violence and political assassinations,” said Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, chair of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Justice & Peace commission. At least three people have been killed in the Tshwane area around Pretoria, in riots triggered by the ANC’s choice of a mayoral candidate for municipal elections, scheduled for August 3. Shops have been looted and cars and buses set alight in violent protests over economic hardship. Politicians “are mobilising the young people in our communities, especially the unemployed youth, to engage in pre-election violence,” Bishop Gabuza said. He urged young South Africans “not to allow themselves to be used by politicians who show signs that their primary interest is greed for power and government tenders”. The SA Human Rights Commission warned that politically motivated murders and other acts of intimidation ahead of the polls are endangering citizens’ constitutional rights.
The commission’s statement came after arrests for the murders of two ANC members in KwaZulu-Natal, said to be politically motivated. South Africa’s political leaders have not “been vigorous enough in disciplining their candidates and members involved in disrupting campaign rallies of other parties and in creating no-go zones,” Bishop Gabuza said. “At the root of many social ills, including the current upsurge of pre-election violence, one finds greed and patronage politics.” This political culture must be stopped before it destroys the country and sends it “into a downward spiral from which it will struggle to recover,” the bishop said. The SA Council of Churches, of which the bishops’ conference is a member, asked clergy to intervene in politically divided communities before the elections. “The ugly scenes we have witnessed in Tshwane are totally out of place in the democratic culture of our country‚ and we condemn this in the strongest possible terms‚“ the Johannesburg-based council said. “Sinful greed leads to the killings of people who stand in the way” of a preferred election candidate or a corrupt business deal, it said. The council urged members to “intensify prayers and interventions in communities where peace must be restored‚ to maintain coexistence across political divisions”.—CNS
Benedict ‘feels protected’ by Francis BY JuNNO AROCHO EStEvES
N his first public address in almost a year, retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness “from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply”. “More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected,” Pope Benedict said. He also conveyed his hope that Pope Francis would continue to “lead us all on this path of divine mercy”. Pope Francis led a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s priestly ordination. The two were joined by the heads of Vatican offices and congregations and several guests, including a delegation
from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Those gathered gave Pope Benedict a standing ovation as he made his way into the Clementine Hall. A few minutes later, Pope Francis entered the hall and made a beeline for his predecessor. Pope Francis has made no secret of his admiration for the retired pontiff, often comparing him to a “wise grandfather at home”. Pope Francis praised Pope Benedict’s life of priestly service to the Church and recalled his writings on Simon Peter’s response to “Jesus’ definitive call: ‘Do you love me?’” “This is the hallmark dominating an entire life spent in priestly service and of the true theology that you have defined—not by chance—as ‘the search for the beloved’. It is this that you have always given witness to and
continue to give witness to today,” he said. When Pope Francis finished speaking, Pope Benedict clasped his hands together to signal his thanks to the pope. He rose to his feet and stretched out his arms to embrace Pope Francis. Pope Benedict vividly recalled his ordination 65 years ago, remembering a Greek word a priest ordained with him wrote on the remembrance card of his first Mass: “Eucharistomen” (“We give you thanks”). “I am convinced that this word, in its many dimensions, has already said everything that can be said in this moment,” the retired pope said. The word “eucharistomen,” he added, can bring everyone closer to that “new dimension” of thanksgiving given by Christ, who transformed the cross, sufferings and evils of the world “into grace and blessing”.—CNS
Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict embrace at the anniversary celebration of Pope Benedict’s 65th year of ordination as a priest. (Photo: CNS)
the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
New Ingwavuma bishop calls for truth on racism BY MAuRICIO LANgA
U De La Salle Holy Cross College High School in victory Park, Johannesburg, hosted its annual Night of the Stars. Learners displayed a diverse range of talents, including dancing, singing, acting, and traditional Highland piping and Irish dancing. “I would like to commend all those who participated and special thanks to Judy Werth, the evening’s co-ordinator, and all the other members of staff, who made this event possible,” said Debbie Harris, college principal. “We are very proud of our talented learners and it was a real pleasure to see them showcase their abilities.”
the Sacred Heart sodality had their night vigil and acceptance of new members in St Francis of Assisi parish in Eastwood, Pietermaritzburg. Sodality members are pictured with parish priest Fr Sanil Michael SCJ, Deacon Ronald knott and Deacon Balise SCJ.
LULATIONS and electrifying songs and dances characterised the episcopal ordination of Father Siegfried Mandla Jwara CMM in Mtubatuba. A crowd of about 5 500 of the faithful from the length and breadth of KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country arrived to witness the ordination of the first black bishop in Ingwavuma vicariate. Fr Jwara replaced Bishop José Luís Ponce de León, who is now the bishop of Manzini, Swaziland.
elivering the sermon, Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo of Eshowe described the new bishop as a humble servant who would lead the vicariate with distinction. “I have no doubt that God Almighty has given us a bishop who will be able to take the Ingwavuma vicariate to greater heights. We all know that Ingwavuma aspires to become a diocese. I hope that this will happen during Bishop Jwara’s term,” he said. However, for this to take place would entail a mutual commitment of the bishop and his priests. “You have to make the Church of Ingwavuma self-reliant. Not only in terms of money, but also human resources,” Bishop Kumalo said. He urged the people and priests of Ingwavuma to welcome the new bishop. “Please give him a warm welcome as the pope has said in his letter, “Welcome and collaborate well with your new shepherd’.” The bishop further said that the only reason the newly ordained bishop was prepared to accept the post of bishop of Ingwavuma was due to nothing else but the love of Jesus and his mission. “He has come to feed the lambs of Jesus, to tender and feed the sheep as Jesus asked Peter.” Bishop Kumalo went on to tell the people of Ingwavuma, lay and cleric alike, that they could make the new bishop’s ministry fruitful if they work with the bishop as people of God. “But you can also become obstacles when you choose to behave as if you were in the South African parliament rather than being a
Newly ordained Bishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara CMM of Ingwavuma meets worshippers after his ordination, followed by former Ingwavuma bishop José Luís Ponce de León, now bishop of Manzini. (Photo: Sydney Duval) community of believers energised by the Holy Spirit,” he said. Addressing the priests of Ingwavuma, Bishop Kumalo reminded them of their role and position in the Church: “You are close collaborators of this man, and that is essential if this vicariate is to develop. You are his hands, you are his feet, you are his ears.” He told newly ordained Bishop Jwara that he had been appointed in a challenging moment in the political and social situation in South Africa, where prophets were needed to tell the truth. “It is good that your motto is ‘The truth will set you free’ and this truth must be told,” Bishop Kumalo said. “We are in a time where even those who marched with us fighting apartheid say they need Church leaders to be with them but they must not criticise, they must only pray and read the Bible.” He also warned the newly ordained bishop of the political tension that prevails in Ingwavuma, saying that often when people don’t agree they don’t see one another as opponents but as enemies and that is why we see blood. “It is our duty to see how we educate our people so that they understand that actually we need opposition parties if we are going to develop,” he added.
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IFTEEN American children from Democracy Prep in Harlem, New York, are visiting Africa to learn how South African children are taught, their history, their culture, their daily struggles, their ways of life, and their hopes and dreams. They will “live life” in South Africa, eating our food, breathing our air, hearing accents from the many different languages that are spoken in our country. They will learn that we do not live in trees and lions do not roam our streets—contrary to the images on their
television screens. These children, who will travel halfway around the world, will be immersed in the “melting pot” of Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Johannesburg’s diverse student, teacher and alumni body as they participate in classes, tours to historical sites and activities. At Democracy Prep in New York, learners are taught to become active citizens in society—skills they will use when they host a sports programme with learners from Three2Six, a refugee educational project, and Observatory Girls school. A mixture of culturally diverse host families will fur-
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Furthermore, in this particular area there is still a lot of nyangas (healers or diviners), with people coming from as far as Johannesburg for umuthi. There are beliefs which have led some people to their graves. “A young woman in this area who was an albino died because people believe if you are an albino you are special for umuthi. This is all part of an ignorance we need to fight,” Bishop Kumalo said, adding that these evils can’t just be fought by Catholics but needed an ecumenical approach if they were to be successful.
eanwhile, in his address, newly ordained Bishop Jwara said that during the days of apartheid it had been difficult for black bishops to exercise their ministry, that white parents would refuse their children being confirmed by a black bishop. He mentioned the late first black bishop, Bonaventure Dlamini, who suffered much racism. He added that while the situation was now better, racism was still very much alive and that we still needed to work very hard to fight racism, tribalism and xenophobia. “I know that this is a very sensitive issue but let’s talk about it and the truth will set us free,” Bishop Jwara said.
St Charles hosts course on encyclical Laudato Si’
OR six consecutive Friday evenings, a group of 20 participants from different parishes and communities gathered at St Charles’ parish in Victory Park, Johannesburg, to unpack the riches of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. The course included a variety of components—video materials, exercises for personal reflection, group discussions, and paraliturgical celebrations. The purpose of the course was twofold: to raise awareness of environmental issues, and to explore community and individual contributions to the problem and its solution. In the penultimate session, John Clarke, a social worker and parishioner of St Charles, told the story of his involvement in the struggle of the amaPondo community on the Wild Coast to prevent the building of a toll road and the granting of a mining licence, both of which would impact harmfully on their ancestral lands. In the final session, participants offered a range of practical ideas to be presented to their parish councils or local communities.
the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Prisoners need our support and mercy BY MANDLA ZIBI
house,” Fr Arackathara said. “Some do not want to return to their old community for fear of falling into the old crime, gangs or drug culture,” he said.
ELEASING ex-prisoners and parolees into halfway houses before letting them loose in society can greatly reduce crime and overcrowding in prisons, says a priest who runs the prison ministry portfolio in the archdiocese of Cape Town. Fr Mathai Babychan Arackathara MSFS has been the diocesan prison chaplain for the last 14 years and is part of the Catholic Church’s Prison Care and Support Network, an initiative which ministers to the spiritual and emotional needs of offenders and their families during incarceration as well as after release. The network supports all offenders and their families, regardless of religion, race, gender or social status. Fr Arackathara said a typical day for a prison chaplain would be to offer Mass for Catholic inmates, hold ecumenical prayer sessions and Bible sharing, and spend time with those who need counselling. Many hours are spent simply listening to the stories of inmates who have no one else to listen to them, he said. As chaplain he also assists families of inmates through phone calls or visits, as they too go through the agony of the sentence along with their loved ones.
According to prison chaplain Fr Mathai Babychan Arackathara MSFS (right) the Church has a key role to play in serving prisoners in jail and after their release. (Photo: Yoan valat, CNS/EPA) which is quite alarming”. He is convinced halfway houses will bridge the gap between prison and the community by providing a healthy environment, spiritual and emotional support, and employment opportunities and skills development for ex-offenders. “Halfway houses could discourage ex-offenders from reoffending behaviour, helping them reintegrate into the community as dignified members of society,” Fr Arackathara said.
eaving prison presents a whole new set of challenges. The Catholic Parliamentary Office reports that the official estimate of the rate of recidivism or repeat offending in South Africa is around 47%, but according to Fr Arackathara “unofficial statistics show that the rate is actually nearly double that amount, around 80%,
“For many inmates, being released from prison is often an abrupt return to the community without the necessary support structures. For a long-term inmate this experience can be traumatic and challenging, even as they live out the newfound freedom.” Finding their way back home often proves to be a steep climb for many ex-offenders. Mainly, there is no welcome from their families since imprisonment carries a heavy social stigma.
Young people from St Joseph’s parish in Meadowlands, gauteng, attended a workshop on self-empowerment presented by the kolping Society of Johannesburg, aimed at aiding the participants themselves as well as the surrounding community.
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In some cases, it is the sheer economic burden of having another mouth to feed for families already struggling with poverty and scarce resources. “In others, relationships between offenders and their families are at their lowest because of unresolved emotional issues. Sometimes, offenders who have been imprisoned far from their homes become estranged from their families. Children have grown older, parents have died or relocated, and the world has changed. Worst of all, orphaned or fostered young ex-offenders may have no family to return to. “These are the painful realities ex-offenders have to face when they come out of prison and hence the need for a bridge: the halfway
common cry of ex-offenders is that society is reluctant to employ people who have been to jail and have a criminal record. Many prisoners improve their education as part of their rehabilitation process while in prison but when they come out they cannot find jobs. Although they have “paid their debt” to society, the rejection and stigma outside feels like being punished twice. No wonder they end up back in prison, Fr Arackathara said. “Those behind bars are deprived of freedom and go through a deep sense of hopelessness. “The Church is called to become a herald of God’s infinite compassion and forgiveness to all, the priest said. “The state alone cannot realise the objective of rehabilitation and reintegration without the assistance of the larger community, faithbased organisations and civil society. The Church, which is mandated by Christ, should carry on the mission of God by dispensing mercy and embracing those who have deviated into its fold. “In his papal bull Vultus Miserecordiae (The Face of Mercy), Pope Francis says the essence of God is mercy, and the central message of the Gospel is mercy itself,” said Fr Arackathara. “It’s our duty as Christians to listen to the cries of prisoners in their loneliness and enable them to experience hope, healing and comfort.”
the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Cardinal: Christianity is the religion of the future BY SARAH MAC DONALD
O A boy in Bogota, Colombia, shows his drawing which reads “Children celebrate peace” during an event to celebrate the signing of the ceasefire agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group after 30 years of civil war. (Photo: Leonardo Munoz, EPA/CNS)
Pope: We Christians should apologise to gays C ATHOLICS and other Christians not only must apologise to the gay community, they must ask forgiveness of God for ways they have discriminated against homosexual persons or fostered hostility toward them, Pope Francis said. “I think the Church not only must say it is sorry to the gay person it has offended, but also to the poor, to exploited women” and anyone whom the Church did not defend when it could, he told reporters. Spending close to an hour answering questions from reporters travelling with him, Pope Francis was asked to comment on remarks reportedly made a few days previously by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops' conference, that the Catholic Church must apologise to gay people for contributing to their marginalisation. At the mention of the massacre in early June at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Pope Francis closed his eyes as if in pain and shook his head in dismay. “The Church must say it is sorry for not having behaved as it should many times, many times—when I say the ‘Church’, I mean we Christians because the church is holy; we are the sinners,” the pope said. “We Christians must say we are sorry.” Changing what he had said in the past to the plural “we”, Pope Francis said that a gay person, “who has goodwill and is seeking God, who are we to judge him?”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear, he said. “They must not be discriminated against. They must be respected, pastorally accompanied.” The pope said people have a right to complain about certain gaypride demonstrations that purposefully offend the faith or sensitivities of others, but that is not what Cardinal Marx was talking about, he said. Pope Francis said when he was growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, part of a “closed Catholic culture,” good Catholics would not even enter the house of a person who was divorced. “The culture has changed and thanks be to God! “We Christians have much to apologise for and not just in this area,” he said, referring again to its treatment of homosexual persons. “Ask forgiveness and not just say we’re sorry. Forgive us, Lord.” Too often, he said, priests act as lords rather than fathers, “a priest who clubs people rather than embraces them and is good, consoles”. Pope Francis insisted there are many good priests in the world and “many Mother Teresas”, but people often do not see them because “holiness is modest”. Like any other community of human beings, the Catholic Church is made up of “good people and bad people”, he said. “The grain and the weeds—Jesus says the kingdom is that way. We should not be scandalised by that,” but pray that God makes the wheat grow more and the weeds less.—CNS
NE of Pope Francis’ top advisers said during a visit to Ireland that he believes the Christian faith is “the religion of the future” as he mapped out a role for the Church in increasingly complex pluralist societies. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising, Germany, a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and president of the German bishops’ conference, told a packed lecture hall that the Christian faith is not a religion dealing in “magic” things, referring to a 2000 speech by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedcit XVI. “It is an instrument for a better world and that must be shown, and so it is very important that the Church has a positive view of the modern world,” he said during an international conference on “The Church and the Challenge of Freedom” hosted by the Loyola Institute at Trinity College Dublin. The conference focused on the theme “The Role of the Church in a Pluralist Society: Good Riddance or Good Influence?” and attracted an audience from across Ireland. Cardinal Marx suggested the Church must provide formation to its members to deal with the com-
ROFESSING the same faith in the mercy of God, Catholics and Orthodox must do more to ensure mercy marks the way they treat each other, Pope Francis told a delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. “If, as Catholics and Orthodox, we wish to proclaim together the marvels of God’s mercy to the whole world, we cannot continue to harbour sentiments and attitudes of rivalry, mistrust and rancour,” the pope said. The delegation, led by Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, was in Rome to represent Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the pope’s celebration of the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, the patron saints of the church of Rome. Since 1969, the patriarchs have sent delegations to the Vatican for the feast and the popes have sent a delegation to Turkey each year for the feast of St Andrew, patron of the patriarchate.
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plex issues they encounter in pluralist societies today and in the future “without forgetting” their faith sources and principles. Talking about the place of the public Church and public theology, Cardinal Marx said that while there were episodes in history “when the Christian faith wasn’t on the right side”, he stressed that “in the future we want to be there in the development of a society
Catholic, Orthodox ‘unite through mercy’
ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, germany, speaks at the Church and Pluralism conference of the Loyola Institute at trinity College in Dublin. (Photo: Dermot Roantree, Irish Jesuit Communications/CNS)
which is based on values and responsible freedoms” rooted on the Church’s social doctrine and Christian anthropology. The cardinal said he believed the Church can be a protagonist in the development of pluralist societies and that its social doctrine was something through which “we can bring our voice in a public way to the development of society”. He said that Church teaching could help the economic world “think beyond capitalism” and challenge an outlook which assesses results only in economic terms. “What a disaster. I am not against the market economy but for thinking beyond this narrow view that all developments are considered only in relation to the exploitation of capital,” he said. Cardinal Marx, when asked about his views on same-sex civil unions, said: “We have our moral position on marriage and that is clear but the secular state has to regulate these partnerships and to bring them to a just position.” He added that the “history of homosexuals in our society is a very bad history because we have done a lot to marginalise them, and so as Church and as society we have to say, ‘Sorry’”.—CNS
Metropolitan Methodios is the Orthodox co-president of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation. Pope Francis used his presence at the Vatican as an opportunity to praise the “fruitful work” of the North American group. “Instituted more than 50 years ago, this consultation has proposed significant reflections on central theological issues for our Churches, thus fostering the development of excellent relations between Catholics and Orthodox on that continent,” the pope said. Pope Francis told the delegation that in proclaiming a Year of Mercy he wanted not only to encourage people to contemplate how merciful God is, but also to focus on ways to make the witness they give to God’s mercy more effective. “Divine mercy frees us of the burden of past conflicts and lets us be open to the future to which the Spirit is guiding us,” he said. St Peter, who had denied Jesus, and St Paul, who had persecuted
the early Christian community, both had powerful experiences of God’s forgiveness and great mercy, the pope said. They became “tireless evangelisers and fearless witnesses to the salvation offered by God in Christ to every man and woman”. With St Peter and St Paul, he said, Christians are united in their experience of being forgiven and receiving God’s mercy and grace. Before the split of the churches of the East and West in the 11th century, he said, the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople were united despite differences “in the liturgical sphere, in ecclesiastical discipline and also in the manner of formulating the one revealed truth”. “However,” the pope said, “beyond the concrete shapes that our Churches have taken on over time, there has always been the same experience of God’s infinite love for our smallness and frailty and the same calling to bear witness to this love before the world.”—CNS
SSPX head: Pope is encouraging error BY CINDY WOODEN
HE superior general of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X said Pope Francis, rather than denouncing errors in Catholic doctrine, has “encouraged” them. “The Society of St Pius X prays and does penance for the pope, that he might have the strength to proclaim Catholic faith and morals in their entirety,” said a statement. Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the society, issued the statement after a meeting of the group’s leaders. The society has been in talks with the Vatican in a search for a way to reintegrate it and its members fully into the life of the Catholic Church. Bishop Fellay met personally with Pope Francis in April, which seemed to signal that progress was being made. Talks with the group began under Pope John Paul II and
Bishop Bernard Fellay continued throughout the papacy of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI. Bishop Fellay said that “in the great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the Church, the proclamation of Catholic doctrine requires the denunciation of errors that have made their way into it and are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of pastors, including the pope himself”. The statement did not spec-
ify the “errors” it was referring to or how the society believes Pope Francis is encouraging them. While the society “has a right” to full canonical recognition, he said, its primary aim is to teach the fullness of Catholic faith, “which shows the only route to follow in this age of darkness in which the cult of man replaces the worship of God, in society as in the Church”. “The ‘restoration of all things in Christ’ intended by St Pius X, following St Paul (Eph 1:10), cannot happen without the support of a pope who concretely favours the return to sacred tradition,” the statement said. “While waiting for that blessed day, the Society of St Pius X intends to redouble its efforts to establish and to spread, with the means that divine providence gives to it, the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”—CNS
the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Armenia welcomes Pope Francis A
An image of Jesus is seen as Pope Francis and Catholicos karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, attend an ecumenical meeting and prayer for peace in Republic Square in Yerevan.
SOLID, sorrow-tested Christian faith gives believers the strength to overcome even the most horrific adversity, forgive one’s enemies and live in peace, Pope Francis said. Arriving in Armenia, Pope Francis went straight to the twin concerns of his three-day visit: Promoting Christian unity and honouring the determined survival of Armenian Christianity despite a historic massacre and decades of Soviet domination. The high profile of the pope’s ecumenical concern and the importance of faith in Armenian culture were highlighted by making the trip’s first official appointment a visit to the cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church at Etchmiadzin The arrival ceremony at the airport was defined as informal, but featured a review of the troops and a greeting by a young boy and a young girl, who offered Pope Francis
the traditional gifts of bread and salt. His entrance into Holy Etchmiadzin, as it commonly is known, was heralded with the pealing of church bells. As the pope and patriarch processed down the aisle between crowds of flag-waving faithful, a deacon led them, swinging an incense burner. For the first two events on the papal itinerary, the English translations of the speeches of the pope’s hosts—the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and the country’s president —repeatedly used the word “genocide” to describe the deaths of 1,5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1918. The pope’s prepared text for his speech in Italian used the Armenian term Metz Yeghern or its Italian equivalent, “the Great Evil”. However, when speaking, the pope added the Italian genocidio. Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister (Left) Pope Francis and Catholicos karekin II release doves from the khor virap monastery near Lusarat village in Armenia. In the background is Mount Ararat, believed to be where Noah’s Ark came to rest.
Nurettin Canikli told reporters that the pope’s statement was “very unfortunate” and said that in the pope’s words “it is possible to see all the reflections and traces of Crusader mentality”. Pope Francis, visiting the Orthodox cathedral at Etchmiadzin and addressing government officials later at the presidential palace, did not focus on the tragedy, but on the faith of the country’s 3 million people, the need for reconciliation and peace in the region, and the role of Christians in showing the world that faith is a power for the good of humanity. For both nights of his trip, Pope Francis was the houseguest of Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. “This sign of love eloquently bespeaks, better than any words can do, the meaning of friendship and fraternal charity,” the pope said.
(Below left) the faithful wait for the pope to arrive at Etchmiadzin in vagharshapat.
(Right) Pope Francis visits the tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan. the monument honours the estimaged 1,5 million Armenians killed by Ottoman turks in 1915-18.
(Below right) Pope Francis and Catholicos karekin II pour water on a tree in a model of Noah’s Ark during an ecumenical meeting in Yerevan.
(Below) A girl wears a traditional taras at the papal Mass in vartanants Square in gyumri.
English bishops condemn xenophobia after Brexit BY SIMON CALDWELL
ATHOLIC bishops condemned a sharp rise in xenophobic and racist attacks following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the “upsurge of racism, of hatred toward others is something we must not tolerate”. “We have to say this is simply not acceptable in a humane society, and it should never be provoked or promoted,” he said. The statement from Cardinal Nichols, president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, came a day after the National Police Chiefs’ Council revealed that 85 complaints of hate crime were received in the days after the day of the referendum on United Kingdom membership in the EU. The figure represented a 57% increase in such offences in a similar period just a month earlier. Xenophobic incidents included the vandalism of the buildings of a Polish social and cultural association in London and the verbal abuse of foreigners on a tram in Manchester, a film of which was sent to Channel 4 News. Far-right nationalists at a rally in Newcastle unfurled a banner that demanded: “Stop Immigration, Start Repatriation” and a German woman who has lived in Britain since the
1970s wept as she told LBC London radio that she was too scared to leave her house three days after dog excrement was thrown at her windows. She said: “My neighbours told me that they don’t want me living in this road and that they are not friends with foreigners. “My friend...has a grandson who is 7 and who was beaten up because he has a foreign grandmother,” she added. Britain has been a primary destination for many citizens of poorer EU countries, with annual net migration reaching 330 000 people a year. Many of the migrants to the UK are Catholics from Central Europe, Asia and Africa. Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth told CNS that, in his diocese, there were “huge numbers of immigrants from Poland, Kerala [India], the Philippines and Nigeria”. “I am extremely sad to think of violence against foreign people who are living here,” he said. “There is no justification whatsoever for that. “Many of these immigrants are already beloved members of our communities. They have contributed to local life and organisations,” he said. “Britain has always, through the centuries, been a country which has assimilated people from abroad, and they have taken on our values, and also they have made us proud because they have made a great success of it,” Bishop Egan said.—CNS
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the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
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Pontiffs of the present day
RMENIA is the latest land to receive a papal pastoral visit, as we report in this issue. Pope Francis’ intent was to promote Christian unity there and also to honour the survival of Armenian Christians after the historic massacre of 1915-1918 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Turkey has not denied that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were slaughtered in battles with their troops during World War I. They have refused to accept that this was a case of systematic genocide of Christians. Pope Francis, however, was not convinced. He departed from his prepared text, which had avoided any mention of genocide, and laid it on the line that the Ottoman Turks had indeed committed genocide. The Turkish response was that the pope showed traces of “a Crusader mentality”. The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, defended what the pope had said. He stressed that the pope is no Crusader and is not trying to organise wars or build walls: “He wants to build bridges.” Obviously, Francis plans to do so without compromising the record of history. This constructive side of the pope’s pastoral ministry is evident wherever he goes. In fact, the papacy has a heritage of bridge-building from the days when it assumed the mantle of the ancient Roman pontiffs, who were the men responsible for constructing bridges across the Tiber River in order to unite the otherwise geographically divided city of Rome. Francis’ refreshing openness to the truth and to members of all religious creeds and practices is gaining ground beyond the Vatican and papal visits outside. When the Islamic period of Ramadan ended last month, the Catholic church
of our Lady of the Visitation in Constantia, Cape Town, invited certain Muslims to break their fast with them, setting a highly significant precedent. There were reports of Jewish congregations of Temple Israel doing likewise elsewhere, and leaving many sceptics truly taken aback. Even if such demonstrations of bridge-building are sparse and limited, this new and encouraging spark of hope can possibly set off a warm and faith-filled venture into a brave new mentality of purposefully finding good in others of all religions and cultures. At the same time, the Church and people of good will cannot ignore the contrary forces that resist seeing any good in religions and cultures that are foreign to them and their way of life. The British people’s majority vote to leave the European Union is said to be strongly due to the resentment of the presence of immigrants and asylum seekers with languages and cultural habits that are deemed a threat to English and Englishness. British Prime Minister David Cameron, having started the ball rolling, may now be regretting the results that were not intended. At the moment, the UK is legally in but politically out of the EU. What lies ahead is likely to reveal a frantic effort on the part of the Europeans to preserve what they hold in common. In the 16th century King Henry VIII also made a farreaching break with Europe when he rejected the authority of the papacy. Christians are still trying to build again the bridges that were destroyed then. It is a sign of the times that all Christians, Muslims, Jews and well-intentioned people should now strive with more vigour to become the auxiliary pontiffs of the present day.
What’s happened to our society?
EVIN Murphy asks where the souls of the unborn go (June 8). The mercy of God and the tradition of the Church have a message: those babies are in heaven, infinitely happy; they have gone to join the company of the Holy Innocents. The worry is not about what happens to them, but what has happened to us and the society we have made to mar this beautiful world. Let us be concerned and pray rather for the mothers driven to the bitter extreme of procuring an abortion. To how many of them can we
Where are souls of unborn children?
evin Murphy’s letter (June 8) asks the following questions. 1. Where the souls of unborn infants go to after death. The answer here is surely “straight to heaven” as first, these infants were completely free of sin when they died and second, the destination of “limbo” instead of heaven for deceased but unbaptised infants appears to be no longer applicable. 2. Whether it is murder to abort a growing baby. The answer here is yes as irrefutable medical evidence shows that immediately on conception a miniscule human being is formed which is complete in every physical aspect, and to whom nothing but growth is added thereafter for the rest of his or her life. The letter also refers to the popular “pro-choice” argument that a woman may morally abort her embryo as it is merely a part of her own body and has no separate human identity. However, if this argument was valid, then, because of the above medical evidence, every pregnant woman would, on conception, become possessed of, as part of her body, inter alia, two noses, four arms and legs and half the time, a male’s reproductive organs in addition to her own! Damian McLeish, Johannesburg
RAVO to Fr Chris Townsend for his Pastor’s Notebook column, “Let’s talk language” (June 1), which calls for a review of the current English translation of the Roman missal. Writing very much as a “liturgy practitioner” who is confronted daily in using a Mass text Pope Benedict XVI forced on the Englishspeaking world in 2011, Fr Townsend hits the nail on the head in pointing out the Church’s fundamental error in the way it translates the Roman missal for speakers and readers and not for hearers.
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offer an alternative? Many of them conceived as the result of rape and face problems that, given their overwhelming fear and the encouragement society (read we) gives them, killing the baby seems an acceptable way out of their dilemma. Let us be concerned rather about the state of mind of the fathers who forced their seed upon defenceless victims. Let us be concerned too about the degenerate morals of this world that we have made, that allow oth-
Fr Townsend is also spot-on in recording that the current English translation became political, and that this has tragically detrimentally affected our liturgy and prayer. It is significant that England’s episcopal conference retained the Jerusalem Bible lectionary and did not adopt the Revised Standard Version lectionary as our Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference did. In any renewed debate on the current translation of the Roman missal, I hope the reasons for a literal translation from Latin into English are not again given more weight than the cogent and truly pastoral argument advanced by Fr Townsend. A more worthy replacement of the present English version is already available in ICEL’s revised translation that took 13 painstaking years to complete. Fr Kevin Reynolds, Pretoria
WAS quite shocked to see the article headlined “Pirate missals hit SA Church” (June 15) by Mandla Zibi. I do the buying for our church repository and have been getting the gilt-edged burgundy Sunday missal. My supplier imports them from the Paulines in Nigeria and it is a good-quality print and binding. The Southern Cross article makes out that any colour missal but dark green is “pirated”. However, if you look on the Paulines’ website (www.PaulinesAfrica.org) you will see that the burgundy Sunday missal pocket edition is identical to the “pirated” missal and what the Paulines themselves sell online. As far as I am aware, it is not illeOpinions 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 021 465-3850
Tony Wyllie & Co.
erwise law-abiding people to regard the gift of the ability to procreate as a pleasant pastime. Let us be concerned rather about the state of the education provided for the huge majority in our country that fails utterly to teach that we are responsible for our actions and their consequences. Most importantly, let us use our concerns as an incentive to prayer, not only at special times, but again and again through each day, every time we become aware of a problem in our own life or in the lives of those around us. Denis Barrett, Ekurhuleni
gal to import and sell this book. My biggest regret is that there is no other missal in competition to the Paulines’. The missals currently used in the USA and the UK do not use the Revised Standard Version translation for the 1st and 2nd readings—only for the Gospel. I miss the music, prayers before and after communion, and images used in previous missals. The “Sunday missal” has been used for many years—I would be very surprised to find that the Paulines in South Africa hold ownership of the “Sunday missal” brand as a registered trademark, as stated in the article. The Sunday missal from the Catholic Truth Society, Collins and Catholic Book Publishing Corporation are available online and there is no restriction to buying them. Ann Pearton, Johannesburg
Role of the family
DUCATION for all! That is the current cry sweeping the country. Disturbingly, educational facilities and properties are being destroyed. Maybe we are missing something more important than education at school. Are we forgetting the irreplaceable position of the family? The history of any thriving, educated society owes its quality to the stability of family life. A distinction must be made between education and schooling: one is the foundation of the other. The home is for education and the school for learning. It is not a good thing to pour in knowledge where there is no selfdiscipline, no conscience. For it is so easy for an “educated” child to become a master criminal, a brilliant thief and a corrupt politician. Have we not enough evidence of this in our own beloved country? True, the peoples of Africa need to be well-educated and be equipped to construct their future, but let us begin at the beginning. The family is far more important than a public school. EM Timmins, Cape Town
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The People versus the Politicians? F Raymond Perrier OR those who enjoy politics as a spectator sport, it’s a great year. For those who, like me, enjoy the sport but actually care about the result, it’s a roller coaster. We have had the extraordinarily divisive referendum on EU membership in the UK and its unexpected result; the imposition of deeply unpopular candidates by the ANC in the run-up to the August local elections; and the on going spectacle in the US of mainstream presidential candidates being challenged or even beaten by outsiders. Are there any patterns we can discern and does any of this impact us as Church? All three of these countries are committed to democracy—though they have different variants—and all three protest that the will of the people is paramount. By that logic, the behaviour of voters in each case could be seen as indicative of an assertion of democracy. The Republican leaders served up a menu of mainstream candidates, and the people chose someone entirely different. The Democratic leaders offered their party the most qualified person ever to run for president, and a good number of people wanted someone else. Leaders of every single mainstream party in the UK urged their supporters to vote to remain in the EU and yet 52% of the people did the opposite. ANC leaders have chosen council and mayoral candidates for their voters to endorse in the election and yet loyal ANC people have taken to the streets to show their anger. In a democracy it is certainly the right and the responsibility of the people to speak—and voting or protesting (preferably peacefully) is one of the key ways in which we do so. But democracy, as poetically described by Abraham Lincoln should be “the
government of the people, by the people, for the people”. Note that the end is not simply “rule” or “decision making” but “government”. And it is not just by the people but should be for the people. Thus, “the people” might want to vote for a party that promised no taxes and excellent services. Many deceitful politicians try this. But this would not be government—the wise application of resources. Nor would it ultimately be for the good of the people—since the country would be bankrupt pretty quickly. So I would suggest that as well as the responsibility of the people to speak, there is also a responsibility to listen. One of the things I find so astonishing about the outcome of the EU vote was that so many UK citizens—many of them educated, informed and intelligent—chose to ignore the consensus advice of most political leaders, the vast majority of business and union leaders, and almost all economists, scientists and pundits. It takes a great wilfulness to believe that they are all trying to deceive the electorate, or that they are all just plain wrong.
It seems from the current state of world politics that the electorate has lost confidence in political and economic leaders.
Faith and Society
adly, some voters seem to have prided themselves on their belligerence, asserting that the more the experts are agreed, the more they will defy them. Is that really the behaviour of responsible electors faced with a decision with huge political and economic consequences? In fact, Trump and Boris’s ascendancy seem to have benefited entirely from this strategy, even though they are no less a part of the very establishment they claim to be overthrowing: “Vote for me because I am the guy they are all warning you against and you can’t trust these so-called experts.” It is sad how readily all experts these days get described by the media as “socalled experts”. As if the very concept of an expert was now out-of-date. After all, in a world in which everyone can contribute their opinion to Wikipedia, or phone in to a radio station, or tell the world their thoughts on Facebook, what need do we have of experts? Why is it that, in politics and economics, experts and leaders in general have lost so much credibility that they are discounted as soon as they speak? I fear it is because they have spent so long speaking, that they have not been doing any listening. So while they are often right, they are not right all the time; and while they are often well informed, they can still be better informed. And when they do get it wrong, they almost never acknowledge this or apologise. Continued on page 11
Let’s pray for grandparents everywhere Toni Rowland A S goes the family, so goes the Church and the world. This favourite statement by Pope St John Paul II is as relevant now if not more so than 30 years ago at the time of Familiaris Consortio, the Apostolic Exhortation after the Synod on the Family in 1980 and more recently Amoris Laetitia. All aspects of family life are food for reflection. For some years I have focused on specific aspects month by month using a family year planner. This has allowed me to delve into aspects of family life and highlight them in articles and daily reflections. In July, because of the feast of Joachim and Ann, the grandparents of Jesus, we are given a chance to honour, thank and express concern for all grandparents. In this Year of Mercy, grandparents are seen as Witnesses of Mercy. We tend to think of them as old, but in many cases a woman may be co-parenting her teenage daughter’s baby together with children of her own and managing a career. This aspect of women’s roles in the family is explored as part of August’s family theme Men and Women of Mercy. This approach has exposed a weakness I perceive in Amoris Laetitia. Beautifully as it presents marriage and its spirituality throughout the document, I was disappointed at the rather frugal attention given to other aspects of family life even though they are mentioned. Figures given in a 2011 SA Institute of Race Relations analysis of the latest census indicated that just one third of our children will grow up in a family made up of both their biological parents, who may or may not be married.
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“...one grandad told me he prays for each of his 27 grandchildren by name every day”. The most common form of “family” is a single mother-headed home. Grandparents, mostly grandmothers, do care for many grandchildren, often as sole providers, using their pension and child grants. Grandmothers may share the childcare with their children, which can present its own issues. There are grannies who are happy, or merely content, or accepting, and others who find this burden quite irksome. Some grandparents, maybe those who are alone, want the freedom to live their own lives. When possible older grandparent couples love to travel to visit children who have moved away. Those who are media savvy may enjoy contact with children and grandchildren by email, or Facebook or Whatsapp. Others who are widowed, separated or divorced experience abandonment, loneliness and even abuse. The Church and spirituality can become a source of strength and support. Maybe the fact that churches—and sodalities too
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—are more packed with older people than younger ones is not only because of their more committed faith but also because of the social contact. A programme I have been promoting for a while is “a movement of prayer of grandparents for their grandchildren”. This was initiated when one granddad told me he prays for each of his 27 grandchildren by name every day. It is a simple movement that consists of an occasional meeting together of grandparents, to share photos and stories, share a scripture passage and a prayer. Daily prayer for grandparents can bring us in tune with their lives, their loves, their hopes and worries. Parishes could promote such a movement and on the Sunday nearest July 26 have a bumper grandparent celebration. We, grandparents young and old, need to feel loved, but we also need to feel understood. I have certainly come to discover, “growing old is not for wimps” especially when your body and your mind begin to lose a little of their sharpness here and there and your knees refuse to do their duty. All the same, Happy Grandparents’ Day! An info sheet on “A movement of prayer of grandparents for their grandchildren” can be downloaded from www.marfam.org.za under Liturgies, Prayers and Blessings.
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the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Point of Faith
Who is my neighbour?
HEN my husband and I were first married, we lived in a small terraced house. Although it was fairly sturdily built, we often felt as though the family who were living next door to us were sharing our lives and our space. It will not surprise you to hear that their two little girls could make a remarkable amount of noise at times—which we could hardly ignore. But they were a delightful family and the young mom became one of my closest friends and confidantes, so I considered myself lucky to have such lovely people as my close neighbours. The Gospel reading for Sunday, July 10 is taken from St Luke’s gospel and relates the well-known story of the Good Samaritan. In the parable Jesus is keen to emphasise the fact that the man who had been robbed and beaten by brigands is ignored and abandoned by both a priest and a Levite. However, his salvation comes from the most unlikely of sources—a Samaritan who is passing by. There can be little doubt that his listeners would have been amazed to have heard this, as the enmity between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and historical. Yet this is the point of the parable. Jesus wishes his listeners to understand that it is entirely possible to show love and compassion even to your worst enemy. In fact, this is precisely what he desires us to do—forgive our adversaries and treat them with the same love and care which we would give to our dearest friends. Jesus asks this question: “Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands’ hands?’ And he was correctly answered: “The one who took pity on him.” So for the first three years of my married life I lived next door to noisy neighbours, but this was relatively easy to deal with because they were loud but delightful. However, would I have shown the same tolerance and affection had they been otherwise, I have often wondered? Therefore our mission is clear. Whether our adversaries are those we associate with, work colleagues or actual house neighbours, we are called to follow the advice of the Lord, who exhorts us to be like the Samaritan man in the parable. Jesus is quite clear on this as he commands us to: “Do the same thing yourself.” n Julia Beacroft is a catechist and pastoral volunteer who lives in Torquay, England. Her first book, Sanctifying the Spirit, was recently published by Sancio Books.
the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Pupils from Assumption Convent School in Johannesburg were awarded certificates of recognition at the Portuguese Embassy in Pretoria by the Portuguese Ambassador of South Africa, Antonio Ricoca Freire for their leadership roles at Assumption Convent School. (From left) Nadia Sousa, Angelique gomes dos Santos, Ambassador Antonio Ricoca Freire, Oriana Pita Olival, Nicole da Silva and Nicole vieira.
About 60 parishioners and their friends celebrated the feast of St Anthony at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish in knysna with an Italian dinner. Fr Augustine Mekwa is pictured being served his lasagne meal by Felicity Frankland and Judy venter.
Youth at St John Bosco parish in Robertsham were confirmed by Archbishop Buti tlhagale of Johannesburg (centre). Parish priest Fr John thompson SDB (centre back) is pictured with confirmandi.
St Benedict's College participated in a prayer walk to Schoenstatt Shrine. the shrine has one of the official designated doors of mercy for the Year of Mercy. Once the group reached the shrine they passed through the doors and spent a short time in silent prayer. the Rosary was prayed on their way back to school. Sister school Assumption Convent joined the St Benedict's pupilss, staff and parents in the pilgrimage.
St Francis of Assisi parish in Yeoville, Johannesburg, welcomed new parish priest Fr Ernest kabungo CMM. He replaces Fr Johannes Silalahi. Chairperson of the PPC, Lenita Muya, welcomed Fr kabungo on behalf of the parish.
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khwezi Cele, a St Benedict’s College grade 8 pupil, was confirmed by Archbishop Buti thlagale in St Huberts church, in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Parish priest and OMI provincial Fr Ronald Cairns and chaplain Fr thabo Mothiba were in attendance.
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the Southern Cross, July 6 to July 12, 2016
Face-to-face with the Christian victims of ISIS When ELISE HARRIS visited refugee camps in Iraq, things were not quite as she thought they would be.
OAI Behnam Toubia pulls up his shirt, uncovering a thick, dark scar—probably 25cm long—that tears vertically down his large, round belly. With a cockeyed arm he points to three smaller scars that decorate the left side of his misshaped abdomen, marking the times he was shot when ISIS opened fire on his car last year. I stand in the dust surrounded by rows of boxy prefab trailers listening to his story. I focus on the scar marking where the bullet that landed just centimetres below his heart entered his thick body. My translator recounts the terrifying story of how Mr Toubia’s car burst into flames in the middle of the road he had been driving between Qaraqosh and the village of Shikhan when ISIS opened fire. He was pulled to safety by passers-by just in time. Now, having barely survived the ordeal, he says that “it was grace that saved me”. With a body marred by gruesome scars, he carries on. Mr Toubia had been a taxi driver in Qaraqosh—the former Christian capital of Iraq now in the clutches of ISIS after the militants stormed the city, lighting up the night sky with bombs and gunfire on August 6, 2014. Like the 120 000 others who fled with him, Mr Toubia heard late that night that ISIS was coming and crammed his family and a few belongings into his taxi and sped toward Erbil in stop-and-go traffic alongside the thousands of others who were headed to the same destination. Since then Mr Toubia has been among the 5 500 Christians, including more than 2 000 children, living in the city’s Aishty 2 camp for the displaced. He had attempted to continue working, driving people from one city to another for income, until his car was shot up by ISIS. Now, after losing his home, his livelihood, and with a body marred by gruesome scars, he tries to carry on, and says that he is “happy to be alive”. This is Erbil, Iraq—home to nearly 70 000 internally displaced people, most of them Christians. Mr Toubia's is just one among the many similar stories I came across when I spent six days in Iraq as part of a media delegation accompanying Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York on a pastoral visit to Erbil and Dohuk. The two cities are where the majority of those who fled their homes are now living in camps after ISIS swept across the Plains of Nineveh in the summer of 2014. We as a delegation spent our time visiting various schools, projects and camps set up for the hundreds of thousands of refugees—internally displaced persons (IDPs)—who left their homes, and in many cases their livelihoods, behind in one night. Most of them are Christians and Yazidis from Mosul and Qaraqosh. The trip was nothing like I had expected. There were moments when what I saw and heard took my breath. I smiled. I choked back tears. I found myself fidgety, nervous.
A city frozen in time
rbil itself is a city frozen in time. Only a few years ago it was on the fast track to becoming the next Qatar or Dubai of the Middle East: construction was booming and everywhere new buildings and condominiums were popping up in what was a promising upward economic tilt. However, after the rise of ISIS and the sharp fall of oil prices, the construction came to a screeching halt and building projects, highway re-
Internally displaced Christians at a refugee centre in Dawodiya, Iraq. the Christian refugees are hopeful that ISIS will be defeated soon and that they will return home. (Photos: Elise Harris/CNA). models and construction renovations were simply abandoned. Incomplete edifices, one of which was to be a large new shopping mall, are scattered throughout the city. As investors, homeowners and contractors suddenly found their pockets empty and their hands tied up in litigation, families fleeing from ISIS poured into the unfinished buildings and took refuge. Some have been living there ever since, while the majority have gone to one of the many camps that have been formed throughout Erbil. The stench of sewage wafts into rooms and coats the air. Once the grim reality set in that it would be more than just a few days or weeks before the people could go home, the Church acted swiftly and vigorously in setting up the camps. Most of them are overcrowded, with families packed into prefabricated trailers between 1-3 rooms each, at times housing eight people or more. The largest Christian camp in Erbil, called the Aishty camp, is located in the Christian suburb of Ain Qawa, and is divided into three smaller camps. Fardos, who lives in a squashed, two-room trailer in one of them, Aishty 1, with five other members of her family, including her mother and children, worries that the snakes and insects that creep into the trailer will get to her infant daughter. As I squeezed in with the family around their humble kitchen table, Fardos told me they all escaped from Qaraqosh on the day ISIS attacked. When they got to Erbil, they initially took refuge inside a church hall, where they slept on the floor along with 14 other families, numbering more than 100 people in total. There was barely enough room to walk between the people, and at night they couldn’t get up without disturbing the others. After moving into the camp, problems abounded. Bathrooms were few and hard to get to, there was little space inside their flimsy trailer, they had no water and “the room stunk a lot”.
killed after only a few weeks of fighting ISIS on the frontlines, and is referred to as one of “the martyrs”. His picture now hangs on the wall of his mother’s trailer with a rosary draped over it. Another story that made my stomach churn was that of Hazar Namir, a 32-year-old Yazidi woman born in Sinjar. Her husband and their three sons were all abducted by ISIS when the militants stormed the city on August 3, 2014. While Hazar and her younger sons managed to escape in November 2015, after more than a year in captivity, her husband remains in the hands of ISIS. What had they done to her? Did she know where her husband was? Did she have nightmares? As the rest of our delegation piled out of her tiny home, I lingered for a few moments and asked to take her picture. Once the men had left—I was one of only two women in the delegation—she lowered the black fabric covering the lower half of her face and flashed me a confident, yet reserved, almost bashful smile. As I smiled back and captured her flawless beauty in digital form, I couldn’t help but wonder why she felt so open with me—did she trust me? Why? How could her eyes still sparkle so brightly and familiarly when her family had experienced such terror and undergone so much suffering? What had they done to her? Did she know where her husband was? Did she have nightmares about what was happening to him, or what had happened to her and her sons? Does she feel safe? These are the questions that raced through my mind over and
over as I met with different families and spoke with different people, most of whom are desperate and confused. What most of the displaced want is to go back home. But with the situation showing precious little improvement, many have become fed up, and are thinking of going abroad. While hopes of returning might have been higher after the initial displacement in 2014, they have significantly diminished now that the situation has dragged on for almost two years. The future is no clearer than it was two years ago—if anything, it's foggier, especially for Christians. “If we were not believers, half of us would be suicidal,” said Ibrahim Shaba Lalo, the director of Ain Qawa’s Aishty 2 camp, when I asked about the mental state of the people living in the camps. For many hope is small and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, he said, explaining that many are thinking about leaving, fuelling growing concerns that within a few years Iraq will be empty of Christians if their land is not liberated. However, despite the growing sense of desperation among the people, I also found a surprising resilience and determination on the part of many to stay; to return to their land and their homes.
ISIS is ‘the world’s game’
parish priest in Alqosh, the only remaining Christian village on the Plain of Nineveh not captured by ISIS, told me as he sipped from a typical Iraqi glass teacup that in the time that has passed, “we have understood now that ISIS is a game”.
“It is the world’s game” in which it has become clear that certain nations want ISIS to stay, either for the economic benefit of selling them weapons, or to keep the war out of their own territory. Even if entire nations are crumbling in the process, it’s not a concern for those whose pockets are being lined, he said. Most locals I spoke with share the same anger and frustration, and pin the majority of the fault for funding ISIS on neighbouring Middle Eastern nations such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Despite their open sense of welcome and generosity towards me, most Iraqis do blame the United States for the rise of ISIS and for the chaos that has ensued since the end of the war started by the US and other Western states in 2003. There is a hopeful buzz in the community that within a year Mosul and Qaraqosh will be liberated and made livable soon after— yet a sceptical shadow of doubt still shrouds the hopes of many, who are frustrated that more action has not been taken at this point. Ecclesiastical leaders such as Archbishop Bashar Warda, Chaldean archbishop of Erbil, praised the recent decision of the US government to declare ISIS persecution of Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims a genocide, saying it “does justice to the victims”. While this is a step in the right direction, for many of the displaced such declarations by governments are too little, too late. They are thankful the world has finally decided to call a spade a spade—but for many one question hangs densely in the air: now what?—CNA
Students at the prefab school of the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena in Ankawa, Erbil.
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n our second day in Iraq our delegation took the long, bumpy road to Dohuk, which sits near the Iraqi border with Turkey, and near Mosul. The city is where the majority of the Yazidis fled and is the closest we came to ISIS territory. As we walked into the Dawodiya camp—which is about 60-70% Yazidi, followed by Christians and a few Muslims—the smell wasn’t obvious at first. The stench of sewage sets in after a few minutes. It comes in waves with a gust of the breeze that carries the scent of the murky water flowing in thin canals carved into the dirt pathways that snake through the camp for drainage. Suffering abounded in each of the “homes” we entered. My heart ached as I walked into the trailer of a grieving mother whose son, just one month after being married, joined the Kurdish army forces, known as the Peshmerga. He was
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Argentina’s place of Mary’s apparitions A series of Marian apparitions in Argentina have been approved by the local bishop, placing it on the same level as Lourdes, Fatima or Guadalupe
HAT began with glowing rosaries and the rediscovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Argentina has now been approved by the local bishop as a series of apparitions that are “of supernational origin” and worthy of belief. The designation is significant, recognising the messages of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas, which exhort peace and give dire warnings, a miracle researcher says. The apparition claims, first made in 1983, had been formally investigated since 1990. Now Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, about 200km from the capital, has officially approved them. “In my twelfth year of pastoring San Nicolas and, having followed with faith and responsibility the Marian events that I have known about since the very beginning, I have reached the decision to recognise them for my diocese,” Bishop Cardelli announced at a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas. “I recognise the supernatural nature of the happy events with which God through his beloved daughter, Jesus through his Most Holy Mother, the Holy Spirit through his beloved spouse, has desired to lovingly manifest himself in our diocese.” Michael O’Neil, a miracle researcher and author who runs the website MiracleHunter.com, said that the approval is significant. It means that the messages from the apparitions are not only approved for the faithful to read, but the bishop is
saying the events were in fact actual miraculous apparitions. “That puts it on a par with Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe,” Mr O’Neil said. The apparitions began after some rosaries in homes throughout San Nicolas began to glow without any explanation. A wife and mother named Gladys Quiroga de Motta saw these glowing rosaries and began to pray to the Virgin Mary. The Virgin appeared to her on September 25, 1983, wearing a blue gown and veil and carrying the infant Jesus. Her figure glowed with light. With only a Grade 4 education, Mrs de Motta had no great knowledge of the Bible or theology. She is a mother of two daughters and a grandmother. At various times, the Virgin Mary apparition referred the woman to Bible verses. One month after the first appearance, the apparition gave Gladys a white rosary and said: “Receive this rosary from my hands and keep it forever and ever. You are obedient; I am happy because of it. Rejoice, for God is with you.” One day the Virgin Mary asked Mrs de Motta to look for a statue that had been blessed by a pope and was forgotten in a church. Following the Virgin’s instructions, she found the statue on November 27, 1983 in the belfry of the diocesan cathedral. The statue in question was of the Mother of God holding the Child Jesus. It had been brought from Rome after it was blessed by Pope Leo XIII. Mrs de Motta has also reported receiving 68 visits and messages from Jesus. She shared the apparitions’ messages from the beginning, reporting them first to the parish priest on October 12, 1983—the day before the Virgin first spoke to her. Mrs de Motta has always remained at the disposal of the Church authorities. She now lives a life of great devotion, always keeping a low pro-
gladys de Motta, who says her apparitions of the Blessed virgin, which started almost 33 years ago, are still on-going.
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the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas in Argentina, and (right) the statue of Our Lady that was found in the belltower of the local cathedral. file. She reportedly received the stigmata on her wrists, feet, side and shoulder. There have been several documented healings related to the apparitions, including the healing of a boy with a brain tumour. Mrs de Motta has shared about 1 800 messages from the Virgin Mary, according to Mr O’Neil, the “miracle hunter”. Many focus on topics like peace, repentance, returning to the sacraments, and drawing people closer to Christ. But there are also messages in an apocalyptic theme, predicting great turmoil for humanity ahead. “So that’s the tricky part with all of this,” Mr O’Neil said. “It’s not as simple as some of the other apparitions that just draw people closer to Christ… there are some dire warnings as well.”
ather René Laurentin, an expert on Marian apparitions, recounted the apparitions’ messages in his book, An Appeal from Mary in Argentina. At one point, Mary said: “Many hearts do not accept my invitation to prayer and to conversion. That is why the work of the devil is growing and expanding.” The warnings said that mankind is “in the process of falling into a progressive self-destruction” and the Virgin Mary represents hope. “It is up to you to set your eyes and your heart on God,” she said. “I want to cure my children from this illness which is materialism; an illness which makes many suffer. I want to help them discover Christ, and I want to make it known to them that Christ prevails over everything,” Mary said in the apparition. She stressed the importance of prayer, especially the rosary. The apparition of Jesus report-
edly told Mrs de Motta in 1987: “If this generation will not listen to my mother, it will perish. I ask everyone to listen to her. Man’s conversion is necessary. “Today I warn the world, for the world is not aware: souls are in danger. Many are lost. Few will find salvation unless they accept me as their Saviour. My mother must be accepted. My mother must be heard in the totality of her messages. The world must discover the richness she brings to Christians. “The children of sin will grow up in sin if their unbelief increases. I want a renewal of the spirit, a detachment from death, and an attachment to life. I have chosen the heart of my mother, so that what I ask will be achieved. Souls will come to me through the means of her Immaculate Heart.” The diocese’s successive local bishops have discussed the apparitions several times. Bishop Domingo Salvador Castagna ordered the construction of a shrine as the Virgin had requested. Construction began in 1987 and the shrine was consecrated in 1990. That year, he approved the publication and dissemination of the messages of Our Lady of the Rosary in San Nicolas. Mr O’Neil said it is unique that the bishops have approved the apparition messages from 1983-90, even though the apparition is continuing today. “So we have an apparition where we have a living visionary, who’s approved as authentic by the bishops,” he said. “Usually they wait until the messages end or the visionary dies, but in this particular case they decided to go ahead with the approval.” Bishop Cardelli explained the process that led him to make his latest decision. He consulted ex-
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St Angela Merici founded the Ursulines in the 16th century, naming them after St Ursula, leader of a company of 4th century virgin martyrs.
perts and witnesses and was conscious of his duty to monitor or intervene in such apparition claims. He said that he judged the events according to two general criteria: “Positive and negative, and in both cases there were not, nor are there errors.” He said that he made his discernment using three specific criteria: “Were the events of natural origin? Could it be a work of the Enemy? Are they of supernatural origin? “The answers to these questions gave me the certainty that the fruits are real and positive and go beyond mere human action,” Bishop Cardelli said. The investigation also evaluates the visionary to confirm that they are of sound mind and moral character. Mr O’Neill said that the process for approving apparitions evaluates their messages to ensure there is nothing to contradict Scripture, tradition or the faith and morals of the Catholic Church. Apparitions are “private revelations” that do not add to the public revelation of sacred scripture. The declaration that an apparition is “worthy of belief” does not mean the faithful are obliged to believe the apparition or that it happened. Mr O’Neil said that there was no evidence that Pope Francis was involved in evaluating this apparition when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bishop Cardelli’s decree states that he recognised the apparition with “moral certitude, good intention and hope” and after fulfilling the Holy See’s suggested requirements for discernment. He said the decree is “seeking the greater glory of God and the good of our Church.”—CNA
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Fr Charles Richardson
ATHER Charles Richardson was born on December 9, 1929, and died on May 10. It is difficult for me to attempt to write this obituary of my brother. To the world, he was Fr Charles, but to me he was the big brother who left home when I was six years old and on his many visits, would clip me round the ear when I was cheeky! He and I would get on our bikes in later years and cycle round the snowy hills of the North of England, but he was still just Charlie to me. Following his other craze, which was football, he dragged me to see his favourite teams on numerous occasions. It came as a shock, when he passed away, to receive glowing eulogies from complete strangers in far flung corners of the world. To them, it seems, Fr Charles had meant something quite different. He was a spiritual support,
a guide and a friend. His sermons were legendary and his generosity limitless. Charlie did his National Service with the British Army when he was 18 years old and was sent to Nairobi for a year. It was here that he developed a love of Africa and its people which never left him. When he came back, he hankered for the religious life and tried the Cistercian order and the White Fathers before temporarily resigning himself to being a simple teacher for ten years in London. He then taught in Ghana for a year, before going to Rome for training as a priest. Following ordination, he was in the Plymouth diocese in England and then went to Chebukaka in Kenya for several years. Back at home we followed his bewildering progress from a further stint in Kenya to New Mex-
ico, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and finally South Africa. He was very proud to gain his South African citizenship in time to vote in the first truly democratic elections. Letters from him came from places like Kuils River, Hermanus and Woodstock and other areas. In Cape Town, Charlie seemed to be truly at home. As age took over, he retired to become chaplain of a De la Salle home near Liverpool and it is there that he died, surrounded by the Brothers to whom he had ministered for over ten years. Charlie was a rolling stone who wandered the world, making friends wherever he went. His temporal wanderings are over now, but I imagine his spirit still drifting around the celestial regions, swapping yarns with similar souls. May his soul rest in peace. Tony Richardson
Is now a time of the People versus the Politicians? Continued from page 7 In fact, some political parties seem to be convinced of their own infallibility. A very entertaining South African comedy called Wonderboy for President will be on general release soon. It depicts the ANC identifying, grooming and then launching a completely hopeless candidate onto a compliant electorate simply because they know they have the power to get away with it. But life imitates art and, as the film premiered at the recent Durban International Film Festival, the townships of Pretoria were burning with protests. Because people are not so silent any more. The “experts” in the ruling party who believe they know who is best placed to serve as a councillor or a mayor, assume that their expertise has not been undermined by high-profile lies, false promises, half-truths and corrupt practices. The candidates they are proposing may or not be better than the incumbents they are ousting, but many people on the ground have lost all confidence in the expertise or the integrity of the
leaders proposing the solutions. Political leaders have got so used to doing all the talking—and too often twisting the truth—that they failed to notice that people were not listening. At its extreme, people have stopped listening even when political leaders say things that are worth hearing. But, as GK Chesterton warned, when people stop believing in something they start believing in anything. So the vacuum created by the loss of credibility of one group is soon filled by another group which may be even less expert and even more malign. The Church is affected by the wider trends around us and so we have seen this loss of authority here as well. And in the same way that the loss of political authority is not without cause, the loss of ecclesial authority is also often understandable. When (in the US for example) there are too many bishops who have lied and covered up for abusive priests, it is not surprising that bishops in general have lost authority.
When there are too many priests who try to hide their inability to manage their communities or their buildings or their finances, the priesthood is bound to fall in people’s judgment. When there are too many pronouncements that repeat unproven or disproved theories (because the Church can’t lose face by admitting she was wrong), it is no wonder that people in the pews stop listening. We need a balance: those in authority need to advise us but they also need to temper their speaking with listening, and show humility and a willingness to learn. Those under authority need to listen but also not be afraid to speak out after reflection and proper consideration. There is a heavy burden of responsibility for leaders (elected and appointed) and an equally heavy responsibility for those who are led. But we have to get it right in politics, in economics and in the Church. If not, we and our children will have to live with the consequences.
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ALEXANDER—Ralph. In loving memory of my dearest beloved husband Ralph, our father and grandfather who passed away July 12, 2011. May his soul rest in peace. You’re constantly in our thoughts and embraced in our memory. Always fondly remembered by your wife Evelyn, children Blaise, Imelda, Mark, Celesta, Delia and Rowen, daughters-in-law Sandra and Mary-Ann, son-in-law Martin and grandchildren Blayke, Reece, Xavier and Cleeve and family. SHIELD—Agnes (Arnot). Passed away July 10, 2013. Still very sadly missed by her ever-loving husband Cyril and sons gavin, trevor and Brian and their families. thy Will be done. VAN REENEN. In loving memory of our brother-inlaw, our uncle, our nieces, our nephew and our cousins, Peter John (Snr), Natasha, Philothea, and Sebastian who passed away on the July 1,1986. Even though the years have rolled on you are always in our thoughts, our prayers and our conversations. Lovingly remembered by the Brown family, gloria, Ruben, Randall, grant, Nadine and Robert.
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FATHER, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all. By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May there be an end to division, strife and war.
Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 714. ACROSS: 1 Chants, 4 Levant, 9 Extraordinary, 10 Declare, 11 Apron, 12 Serfs, 14 Thine, 18 Racer, 19 Patient, 21 An eye for an eye, 22 Hikers, 23 Slated. DOWN: 1 Creeds, 2 Articled clerk, 3 Tiara, 5 Epitaph, 6 An arrangement, 7 Trying, 8 Pried, 13 Forbear, 15 Wreath, 16 Spoor, 17 Attend, 20 Trail.
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My past life, O God, to Your mercy, my present life to Your love my future life to Your providence.
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CAPE TOWN: Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. Mass on last Saturday of every month at 9:30 at Sacred Heart church in Somerset Road, Cape town. Followed by vigil at Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Bree Street. Contact Colette thomas on 083 412 4836 or 021 593 9875 or Br Daniel SCP on 078 739 2988. DURBAN: Holy Mass and Novena to St Anthony at St Anthony’s parish every tuesday at 9am. Holy Mass and Divine Mercy
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Year C – Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Sunday July 10 Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalms 69:14, 17, 3031, 33-34, 36-37, Colossians 1:15-20, Luke 10:25-37 Monday July 11, St Benedict Isaiah 1:10-17, Psalms 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23, Matthew 10:34--11:1 Tuesday July 12 Isaiah 7:1-9, Psalms 48:2-8, Matthew 11:20-24 Wednesday July 13, St Henry Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16, Psalms 94:5-10, 14-15, Matthew 11:25-27 Thursday July 14, St Camillus de Lellis Isaiah 26:7-9, 12, 16-19, Psalms 102:13-21, Matthew 11:28-30 Friday July 15, St Bonaventure Isaiah 38, 1-6.21-22.7-8, Response Isaiah 38, 1012.16, Matthew 12, 1-8 Saturday July 16, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Micah 2:1-5, Psalms 10:1-4, 7-8, 14, Matthew 12:14-21 Sunday July 17 Genesis 18:1-10, Psalms 15:2-5, Colossians 1:2428, Luke 10:38-42
May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen
O VIRGIN Mother, In the depths of your heart you pondered the life of the Son you brought into the world. give us your vision of Jesus and ask the Father to open our hearts, that we may always see His presence in our lives, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, bring us into the joy and peace of the kingdom, where Jesus is Lord forever and ever. Amen.
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16th Sunday: July 17 Readings: Genesis 18:20-32, Psalm 15:2-5, Colossians 1:24-28, Luke 10:38-42
S outher n C ross
Receive God’s hospitality
NE of the great metaphors for God is that of “hospitality”, something that we perhaps find very challenging indeed. In Sunday’s first reading Abraham, who is 99 years old and recently circumcised, provides a model of appropriate hospitality. The thing to notice is the speed with which he attends to the three visitors, who turn out to be the One God; like most Middle Easterners, he regards hospitality as a precious privilege, and guests as bringing honour to his house, so he rushes about for water and bread, and gets his wife to make cakes in a time calculated to make a microwave oven envious, while the calf is slaughtered and prepared. It is a powerful story, impressively told, and we admire the old man. Now it is true that at the end there comes a reward in the tail (or tale), in that his wife is promised a son; but at no point is that the heart of the story. What matters is hospitality to visitors; this is a divine attribute. The psalm asks a contemporary question: “Who can be an immigrant in your Tent, Lord? And who can dwell on your holy moun-
tain?” Then comes the answer: “The one who walks with perfection and does what is righteous, and speaks truth in their heart, and does not do evil to their neighbour, does not take a bribe against the innocent.” These are the people who will receive God’s hospitality; but, much more important, they are the ones who will instinctively give hospitality to others, and find that in doing so it is God whom they are entertaining. In the second reading we continue our gallop through Colossians. Here hospitality takes the form of Paul rejoicing “in my sufferings on your behalf, and filling up what is lacking in the tribulations of Christ in my flesh on behalf of his body, which is the Church”. Here the point is, presumably, that our discipleship involves a responsibility, even a painful one. Paul is stumbling as he tries to find the language to describe it, speaking of God making “known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ among you, the hope of glory”.
We can hardly follow this, but know that God’s generous hospitality to Greeks as well as Jews has given him a glimpse of the profound presence of Christ in his life. The Gospel for next Sunday is a wonderful story of hospitality that is not uncomplicated. Jesus is on his journey to Jerusalem (and we know death awaits him there). Luke tells us that “he entered a certain village”, and that “a woman named Martha gave him hospitality”. This is something of a surprise, for on the whole Jewish religious figures would have been cautious about the hospitality of women. And, as it turns out, there are two women involved, for Martha has a sister called Mary, who may remind us of that other Mary, who twice in Chapter 2 of this Gospel was described as having “kept all these things in her heart”. Mary’s hospitality we may call a hospitality of listening: “She sat at the feet of the Lord, and was listening to his message.” At that point, Martha’s hospitality is stretched to breaking-point, and she is “torn apart by much service” (not what service is supposed to do to
Unhealthy trend of Us First!
you), and “stood over him”, and addresses to the Lord some unmistakably aggressive remarks: “Lord—don’t you care that my sister has abandoned me alone to serve?” We notice that she gets the right form of address for Jesus, (“Lord”), but cannot bring herself to mention Mary’s name. Then we further notice that in her rage she has started to give Jesus orders (not what we are supposed to do): “Tell her therefore to help me.” Jesus’ response is beautiful, a hospitality in itself: “Martha, Martha”, he says, and the repetition of her name takes all the heat out of the situation: “You are concerned and agitated about many things, but there is need of one thing.” Then we hear his verdict, hospitable to both, and recognise its wisdom: “Mary has chosen the good portion—and it will not be taken away from her.” What is the invitation to hospitality that is coming to you this week?
Southern Crossword #714
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
Pope Francis visits the San Carlo Community, a Catholic-run drug rehabilitation centre on the outskirts of Rome. Fr Ron Rolheiser warns of the damage that the contemporary focus on self can bring. (Photo: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano) nations. For us, as nations, there is a certain immorality and immaturity in thinking first of all, and primarily, of our own interests, as opposed to thinking as citizens of the world, concerned for everyone’s good. And the truth of this is found not just in Jesus and the Gospels, but also in what’s highest and best in us. The very definition of being big-hearted is predicated on precisely rising above selfinterest and being willing to sacrifice our own interests for the good of others and the good of the larger community. The same is true for being big-minded. We are big-minded exactly to the extent that we are sensitive to the wider picture and can integrate into our thinking the needs, wounds, and ideologies of everyone, not just those of their own kind. That’s what it means to understand rather than simply be intelligent. When we are petty we cannot understand beyond our own needs, our own wounds, and our
AM a citizen, not of Athens or Greece, but of the world.” Socrates wrote those words more than twentyfour hundred years ago. Today, more than ever, these are words which we would need to appropriate because, more and more, our world and we ourselves are sinking into some unhealthy forms of tribalism where we are concerned primarily with taking care of our own. We see this everywhere today. We tend to think that this lives only in circles of extremism, but it is being advocated with an ever-intensifying moral fervour in virtually every place in the world. It sounds like this: America first! England first! My country first! My state first! My church first! My family first! Me first! More and more, we are making ourselves the priority and defining ourselves in ways that are not just against the Gospel but are also making us meaner in spirit and more miserly of heart. What’s to be said about this? First of all, it’s against the Gospel, against almost everything Jesus taught. If the Gospels are clear on anything, they are clear that all persons in this word are equal in the sight of God, that all persons in this world are our brothers and sisters, that we are asked to share the goods of this world fairly with everyone, especially the poor, and, most importantly, that we are not to put ourselves first, but are always to consider the needs of others before our own. All slogans that somehow put “me”, “us”, “my own”, “my group”, “my country” first, deny this. Moreover, this doesn’t just apply at the micro-level, where we graciously step back in politeness to let someone else enter the room before us, it applies, and especially so, to us as whole
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own ideologies. We know this too from experience. On our best days our hearts and minds are more open, more willing to embrace widely, more willing to accept differences, and more willing to sacrifice self-interest for the good of others. On our best days we are gracious, bighearted, and understanding, and, on those days, it’s unthinkable for us to say: Me first! We only put ourselves first and let our concerns trump our own goodness of heart on days when our frustrations, wounds, tiredness, and ideological infections overwhelm us. And even when we do revert to pettiness, part of us knows that this isn’t us at our best, but that we are more than what our actions betray at that moment. Below our wounds and ideological sicknesses, we remain riveted to the truth that we are, first, citizens of the world. A healthy heart still beats below our wounded, infected one. Sadly almost everything in our world today tempts us away for this. We are adult children of Rene Descartes, who helped shape the modern mind with his famous dictum: “I think, therefore, I am!” Our own headaches and heartaches are what’s most real to us and we accord reality and value to others primarily in relationship to our own subjectivity. That’s why we can so easily say: “Me first! My country first! My heartaches first!” But there can be no peace, no world community, no real brother and sisterhood, and no real church community, as long as we do not define ourselves as, first, citizens of the world and only second as members of our own tribe. Admittedly, we need to take care of our own families, our own countries, and our own selves. Justice asks that we also treat ourselves fairly. But, ultimately, the tension here is a false one, that is, the needs of others and our own needs are not in competition. Athens and the world are of one piece. We best serve our own when we serve others. We are most fair to ourselves when we are fair to others. Only by being good citizens of the world are we good citizens in our own countries. Putting ourselves first goes against the Gospel. It’s also poor strategy: Jesus tells us that, in the end, the first will be last.
1. Plain airs from the choir (6) 4. Net Val dropped in the Eastern Mediterranean (6) 9. This minister is not the usual one at Mass (13) 10. Show your hand to the customs official (7) 11. Do you wear it on the airfield? (5) 12. They laboured for feudal lords (5) 14. It’s yours, the old fashioned way (5) 18. One who competes is on track (5) 19. One who gets the treatment (7) 21. Jesus did not approve of such mutilation (Mt 5) (2,3,3,2,3) 22. Pilgrims on foot (6) 23. Strongly criticised how the roof was covered (6)
1. Systems of belief (6) 2. Trainee solicitor in the office (8,5) 3. It may go to the princess’s head (5) 5. Words inscribed in memoriam (7) 6. Come to this to settle the matter (2,11) 7. Tiresome magistrate is doing it (6) 8. Intruded, sounding like a deadly sin (5) 13. Refrain from, on behalf of the wild animal (7) 15. Grave flower ring (6) 16. Animal track (5) 17. Be present (6) 20. A track like 16 down (5)
Solutions on page 11
LDERLY Fred had been a faithful Catholic and was in the hospital, near death. The family called their priest to give him the last rites. As the priest stood next to the bed, Fred’s condition appeared to deteriorate, and he motioned frantically for something to write on. The priest lovingly handed him a pen and a piece of paper, and Fred used his last bit of energy to scribble a note, then he died. The priest thought it best not to look at the note at that time, so he placed it in his jacket pocket. At the funeral, as he was finishing the sermon, he said: “You know, Fred handed me a note just before he died. I haven’t looked at it, but knowing Fred, I’m sure there’s a word of inspiration there for us all.” He opened the note, and read: “Hey, you’re standing on my oxygen tube!”
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