S outher n C ross
July 27 to August 2, 2016
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Migrant’s journey from car guard to doctor
Is this small church SA’s ‘Sistine Chapel’?
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With God on the football pitch
Poster of SA’s patron feast This month, on August 15, the Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption. This is also South Africa’s patronal feast, placing the country under the protection of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven. Particularly during this time of local elections and social and economic turmoil, we need the protection of Our Lady. That is why we have reproduced in poster format in the present edition this beautiful painting of the Assumption by the Italian baroque artist Guido Reni from 1617. May it remind us to prayerfully implore Our Lady’s protection for our beloved land whenever we look at it.
Fr Jean Yammine (in red vestment) holds relics of St Charbel Makhlouf during a procession on the Lebanese saint’s feast day at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite church in Mulbarton, Johannesburg. Participating in the procession were the Knights of Da Gama Council 2. St Charbel was a Maronite monk and priest from Lebanon who lived from 1828-98. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1977. The history of the Maronites—an Eastern rite of the Catholic Church—in South Africa goes back to the late 19th century, when the first immigrants arrived in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. The first Maronite priest to be sent to South Africa, Fr Emmanuel El-Fadle, arrived in 1905. He perished on his journey home in 1909 on board of the SS Waratah, which sank without a trace off the coast of East London. (Photo: Alexis Santana Callea)
Sisters stuck on road met a bunch of Good Samaritans STAFF REPORTER
EING stranded on an Eastern Cape road, a group of three sisters received the help of several Good Samaritans. The three Assumption Sisters stood helpless on the road between Butterworth and East London after their car broke down. They had just attended a retreat in Durban and were returning to their convent in Port Alfred. They remembered the priest of Butterworth’s Christ the King parish, in Queenstown diocese, as Fr Sonwabiso Zilindile, and gave him a call for help. In Jesus’ parable the priest is on the other side of the road—in this case he was on the other side of the country, said Assumption Sister Laurentia. “We contacted Fr Zilindile thinking he was still in Butterworth, only to discover he was at that time out of town.” The priest, currently pastor of St Thomas More parish in Tsomo in Queenstown diocese,
was not going to let physical distance stop him from helping the sisters. “He went to endless trouble phoning competent parishioners he knew in Butterworth to help us.” As a result of Fr Zilindile’s canvassing for help the manager of a local Caltex garage, whom Sr Laurentia identified as Shadji, came to the sisters’ aid by working on repairing the car until late in the evening. “Meanwhile his wife Anita provided us with a meal, and fellow parishioners Elmer and Satish arranged comfortable accommodation for us for the night,” Sr Laurentia said. “All the kindness we received was due to the untiring efforts and generosity of Fr Zilindile who did not rest until he was assured that the car was repaired and we were safely on our way again to Port Alfred,” she said. “Fr Zilindile and his friends from Christ the King parish in Butterworth exemplified the Good Samaritan story in a very real way for us,” Sr Laurentia said.
Why the local elections matter BY MAnDLA ZIBI
ATHOLICS have a social responsibility to vote in the August 3 local government elections in order to choose leaders for the “common good” and to promote justice, according to the bishop who chairs the Justice and Peace Commission at the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. “Although I do sympathise with those who have become disillusioned with the current political culture of our country, I urge them to come out and vote next month,” Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley told The Southern Cross. “Yes, it is so sad to see people whom we respected and of whom we expected so much now are interested only in lining their individual pockets, but that is no reason to say ‘I will not vote’,” the bishop said. “So many died in South Africa for the right to vote. Although I cannot tell people whom to vote for, I would say: ‘Have a dialogue with yourself, look at the position of the different parties on the issues and decide honestly, with your conscience, which one accords with the values of the Church’,” he advised. Mike Pothier, head of research of the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office (CPLO) warned that it is pointless and misleading to make generalisations about the state of municipal government in South Africa. “Someone whose refuse is not collected, or whose streets are full of potholes, or who cannot get a response from their councillor, will perceive municipal performance as bad—no matter that other indicators, such as the number of councils that receive clean audits, are improving,” he said in a CPLO position paper. “Likewise, some councils that have come
Election posters hang on a pole outside St Mary’s cathedral in Cape Town. South Africans vote in the local elections on August 3. under scrutiny for alleged corruption or mismanagement nevertheless seem able to provide their residents with a decent standard of services,” he pointed out. Based on a Government Performance Index developed by Good Governance Africa (GGA), of the 20 best-performing local municipalities, 15 are in the Western Cape (eight Democratic Alliance-controlled, four African National Congress-controlled, and three Continued on page 2
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Your car guard could be a doctor STAFF REPORTER
Cardinal Wilfrid napier and Bishop Barry Wood show their support for the “The Family Walk” on August 7 in Durban. (Photo: Sian R Photography)
Walk to highlight family problems STAFF REPORTER
tion, divorce, single-parent households, lack of communication, suicide, absent fathers, misuse of monies, gossip and teenage mothers. “All these crosses facing family life have become a great strain on the family,” Ms Daniels said. “Families are the foundation of our society; we need to walk together as a community, fighting back with the ‘weapon’ of prayer.” The aim is to walk through ten roads in Sydenham, Durban. In each road there will be a mass prayer said and balloons let off to signify each of the matters identified above. n For more info contact Wendy Daniels on 083 292-0444
AVING hosted the “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” event to stop violence against women and children for the past six years, the St Anne’s Catholic Women’s League in Durban is now introducing a family walk. Taking place on Sunday August 7 at 12:00 at Barnes Road Grounds, the theme this year is “Families”. “Families are God’s greatest masterpiece and they are under attack,” said spokeswoman Wendy Daniels. “Together we can make a difference by uniting families, one step at a time.” At the walk there will be a focus on abuse, drug and alcohol addic-
HE car guard into whose hands you drop your spare change while avoiding eyecontact might be a highly-skilled academic. When Elvis Banboye Kidzeru arrived in South Africa as a migrant from Cameroon, he first worked as a car guard. In June he was capped with a Ph.D in Clinical Science & Immunology from the University of Cape Town. Dr Kidzeru, a parishioner of St Patrick’s church in Mowbray, Cape Town, wrote his doctoral thesis on “The impact of myeloid-derived suppressor cells on vaccine immunogenicity in HIV-infected and uninfected mothers and their infants”. Before coming to South Africa in 2010 he had obtained his honours in laboratory medicine from the University of Buea in Cameroon. He first worked for a while as a car guard. “It’s a story not uncommon to various immigrants from African countries who are equipped with a tertiary qualification but temporarily do unskilled labour to make ends meet,” noted Mowbray‘s parish priest, Fr Brian Gelant. In 2011 Dr Kidzeru joined the Division of Immunology at UCT.
HIS year marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order by St Dominic in 1216. All over the world this remarkable event is being celebrated. Dominican priests, brothers and sisters of various local Dominican congregations from all parts of KwaZulu-Natal—Montebello, Oakford, Newcastle—will converge on Fatima Convent in Durban North
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His interests lie in the vaccine responses of South African infants, including those that are born to HIV-infected women. According to the graduation ceremony programme, the ultimate aim of his research is “to design interventions to improve and better understand the health of infants and it could inform the design of a neonatal HIV vaccine”.
In his parish Dr Kidzeru is a reader and a member of the Rosary Group and parish choir. “Despite the challenges Elvis faced in South Africa he admirably forged ahead and obtained his PhD qualification. He is indeed a source of inspiration to parishioners, especially to the young students in the parish,” Fr Gelant said.
Durban to mark Dominicans’ 800th jubilee
Prison Care and Support Network
Study after study has demonstrated that education, particularly higher education, is one of the most effective ways to break cycles of poverty, incarceration and re-incarceration because higher education creates inroads of advanced education in communities that suffer from a chronic lack of access.
Dr Elvis Kidzeru (centre) is seen with (from left) Hilary Bama, Solomon Mbulle (both representing the Cameroonian community), Fr Brian Gelant, and Blasius Fortah.
on August 9 for a special celebration beginning at 9:00. Lay Dominicans as well as friends and associates of the Dominican family are invited to take part in this celebration, which will include new films and information about the life of St Dominic and the founding of the order; Archbishop Hurley’s special link with the Dominicans; Mass in Fatima parish Church with the Monte-
bello Sisters’ Choir. Tea and coffee will be offered on arrival, and a luncheon will be served in the convent courtyard. Memorabilia will be on sale. n For further information or to RSVP before August 2, contact Sr Dominique Bernon OP on 031-5644366 or e-mail email@example.com. Look out for next week’s Southern Cross feature on Archbishop Denis Hurley’s life-long relationship with the Dominicans.
SA gears up for local elections Continued from page 1 coalitions), three are in the Northern Cape (two coalitions and one ANC controlled), and two are in the Free State (both ANC-controlled). The bottom-ranked 20 are split between the Eastern Cape (12), KwaZulu-Natal (6), and one each in Limpopo and the North West. All of these are ANC-controlled, and all of them are in areas which previously fell under the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda or KwaZulu “homelands”. He noted the widespread dissatisfaction and even anger among residents countrywide. “Levels of protest, including violent incidents, burning of infrastructure, and blockading of roads, have been on the increase recently. And such outbursts are by no means limited to the worst-performing municipalities; quite a few of the top 20 have experienced militant protest as well,” he said. Mr Pothier observed that some commentators have argued that these elections are the most significant since 1994 and that this time round a few significant shifts could take place. “Firstly, the opposition could take control of one, possibly two, metros apart from Cape Town; secondly, some metros and a number of district and local municipalities, could be run by coalitions; thirdly, the prospect exists that the Economic Freedom Front could win control of a municipality here and there,
The CPLO’s Mike Pothier, in whose analysis the AnC might lose one or two metros in the August 3 local elections. which would give it its first taste of governing; and fourthly, the ANC could experience a sharp decline in overall support,” he noted. Although local government elections should be about roads, streetlights, refuse-removal and the like, this is not the case in South Africa. For the opposition, Nkandla is an issue; so are “Guptagate” and “Nenegate” and other perceived instances of maladministration at national or presidential level. “Likewise, the narrative of the DA as a party of the rich, seeking to protect white interests, plays itself out as much in local campaigning as it does in the run-up to our national elections. At
street level, there is very little to distinguish this election from the national election of two years ago,” Mr Pothier said. There are 278 municipalities in South Africa. Of these, eight are metropolitan, 44 are district, and 226 are local. At present, the ANC controls all of the metropolitan municipalities except Cape Town, where the DA is in the majority, and the ANC also dominates the district municipalities with 38 out of the 44. The DA controls four district municipalities in the Western Cape, and the ANC is in coalition with the National Freedom Party in two districts in KwaZulu-Natal. When it comes to local municipalities, the DA controls 16 (only two of which, Midvaal in Gauteng and Baviaans in the Eastern Cape, are outside the Western Cape); the Inkatha Freedom Party five; and the National Freedom Party two. Coalitions of two or more parties run eight local municipalities, six of which are in the Western Cape; and eight local councils are currently under direct management by their respective provinces, due to dysfunction or political impasse. Of these, four are in North-West Province, two in KwaZulu-Natal, and one each in the Eastern and Western Cape. The remaining 187 local municipalities are under the control of the ANC.
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Aids: We’re not done yet BY MAnDLA ZIBI & BROnWEn DACHS
N Aids-activist priest has criticised talk of ending the pandemic by 2030, noting that access to life-saving medication remains unequal. “We speak about ending ‘the pandemic’, but what does it mean? About 6,3 million South Africans are infected, and many of them do not know their status,” Fr Stefan Hippler, co-founder of HOPE Cape Town, told The Southern Cross after attending the 2016 International Aids Conference in Durban. “When Durban first hosted the conference in 2000 we were in a situation of despair and hopelessness. 16 years later we can celebrate achievements like 3 million South Africans on treatment and a mother-to-child transmission rate under 4%,” Fr Hippler said. However, the country still has a long way to go, he warned. For Fr Hippler, one of the pressing issues now is equal access to treatment for various marginalised groups in society. Participants at the conference pointed out that
HIV-infection is spreading in what they call “key” populations‚ meaning groups of marginalised people—including sex workers‚ injecting drug users and gay men—who are often denied access to services and medication. The priest also noted the effect of gender inequality as a major driver of new infections in South Africa: 300 new infections per day in the female 15-24 age group. “Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced that the threshold for treatment will fall away and everybody infected will be treated. That means in theory 3.2 million new antiretroviral therapy patients. How the fragile health system will cope with such an influx remains to be seen,” Fr Hippler noted. For NGOs like HOPE Cape Town, he said, this means a real challenge to assist government, and better communication between the role players. Accompanying the Aids conference, Catholic roleplayers met for three days to assess the way forward in the battle against the scourge in Africa.
Jesuit Father Anthony Egan speaks at a panel discussion during a meeting coinciding with the International AIDS Conference in Durban. (Photo: Paul Jeffrey/CnS)
he meeting, organised by Caritas Internationalis and other Catholic groups, featured among speakers Mgr Robert Vitillo, special adviser on HIV and health to Caritas Internationalis; Sr Alison
Munro OP, director of the Aids Office for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Archbishop Peter Wells, papal nuncio to South Africa; Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg; Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban; and Fr Anthony Egan SJ of the Jesuit Institute. The gathering drew participants mostly from African countries. The combination of antiretroviral drugs and their dosages are different for adults and children, Mgr Vitillo told the meeting. Diagnostic tests for children are more expensive than those for adults and often are unavailable, he added. While the provision of treatment for children “is not a highprofit area for pharmaceutical companies, it is crucial to save lives”, Mgr Vitillo said. Church officials are in talks with major pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies to try to persuade them to develop and make available the necessary tests and life-saving drugs, he confirmed. Discrimination and stigma attached to Aids “are still very significant problems” in South Africa,
said Bishop Dowling. Because of fear of rejection by their families and communities, many people refuse testing “until it is too late and they can’t be saved”, he said, adding that it is mostly men who seek diagnosis when it is too late for life-saving treatment. “Terrible suffering” is also caused through some “pastors saying that Aids is God’s punishment” for immoral behaviour, Bishop Dowling lamented. Fr Egan, a theologian and lecturer in medical ethics at the faculty of Health Science at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, felt that we need to reflect on what it means to be involved in Aids ministry instead of simply responding to people’s immediate needs. “We need to move away from seeing ourselves as people working in the field of Aids who happen to be Catholic” to a more sophisticated theology of conscience that enables a “deeper understanding of social ethics, including why the Church needs to respond” to the pandemic, Fr Egan said.
Women’s group presents 67+3 blankets for Mandela Day BY MAnDLA ZIBI
Parishioners of Strandfontein in Cape Town with some of the blankets they made for the “67 Blankets for Mandela” project.
EN women handed over 70 blankets to the “67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day” initiative held every 18 July to celebrate Mandela Day. The donation by the parishioners of St Philip’s church in Strandfontein, Cape Town, was part of a number of projects with which the Kolping Family group is involved. “The Kolping Family movement seeks to empower and up-skill communities in order to help create jobs,” said group coordinator Avril Baatjes. “We have been meeting once a week for the past seven years to knit for various causes. Each year we choose a new beneficiary and this year the blankets were donated to the ‘67 Blankets
New PE centre a one-stop library and repository STAFF REPORTER
NEW Catholic Resource Centre was launched in Port Elizabeth—and one of its first actions was to announce a cooperation with The Southern Cross. The centre known by its acronym CRC, combines the roles of archives, library and repository, adding technology to enable Christian communities to acquire knowledge and ongoing faith formation. Port Elizabeth Catholics have access to the centre to use its library, research the archives, browse the Internet or buy Catholic merchandise from books to crucifixes to coals and candles—and, of course, The Southern Cross. The library and repository will be looked after by Denise Steenkamp. The CRC takes over the function of the old Cathedral Bookshop, on whose premises it is located. The centre will also serve as a depot for parish’s parcels of The Southern Cross. Due to inefficient postal services the delivery of the newspaper was unpredictable. The allocations for parishes in the area will now be couriered to the CRC for dispersement. The launch was preceded by an Open Day during which PE Catholics could find out more about the centre. At the launch, Bishop Vincent Zungu and diocesan financial administrator Alberto Trobec welcomed dignitaries including Prof Garth Abraham, president of St Augustine College; Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, director of the Jesuit Institute; and Fr John Baldovin SJ from Boston College in the US who is lecturing the Winter Theology in South Africa this year. The launch brought to fruition an idea 30- years
Bishop Vincent Zungu cuts the ribbon of the St Michael’s library which forms part of PE’s new Catholic Resource Centre in the making, starting with the late Bishop Michael Coleman. Over the past few months the project was driven by Mike Lenaghan who did the planning and monitoring, bringing his vast experience and numerous contacts to bear. Bishop Zungu described the CRC, as the “hearth” of his diocese. The centre is structured on the foundations of the diocese’s extensive library of religious books, which will now be made more accessible to the wider public through dissemination of information through the Internet. The inclusion of the diocesan archive is intended to make local historical information more accessible to the people whom it was designed to serve. The CRC website will be launching in August. n For information phone Denise Steenkamp on 041373-1686
for Mandela’ initiative,” she said. Founded by actress Carolyn Steyn, “67 Blankets for Mandela Day” is a non-profit organisation which has collected thousands of hand-made blankets for beneficiaries around the country. On April 22 this year, the group set a world record for the world's largest blanket. Thousands of blankets from as far afield as Asia, the United States and Australia, as well as blankets hand-made by South African prisoners—a total of over 20 tonnes—were stitched and combined at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre in Paarl‚ Western Cape. According to Ms Baatjies, in previous years the Strandfontein women have supported St Luke's Hospice, Groote Schuur Hospital,
Old Age homes, Nine Miles Surfing Club and others. “At St Luke’s we donated 60 blankets. At Groote Schuur we donated knitted caps and booties for premature babies. With the 9 Mile Surfing Project we teach underprivileged kids how to surf. We knitted beanies, gloves and scarves for them,” said Ms Baatjies. The group also organises the “Christmas in July” event at Nazareth House, a local orphanage and old age home. “We provide entertainment and gifts for our senior citizens and try to ease their discomfort in their advanced years. We just want to inspire people to give, and there is nothing more joyous than to see the difference you can make in someone’s life,” said Ms Baatjies.
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
UN examines solutions for ‘scourge of trafficking’ O
A man walks near the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Havana, Cuba. A sub-committee of the US congress has held a hearing to scrutinise human rights in Cuba and US-Cuban relations after the countries resumed ties. (Photo: Tyler Orsburn/CnS)
Neocat Way co-founder dies
ARMEN Hernandez, cofounder of the Neocatechumenal Way, died on July 19 in Madrid, Spain. She was 85 years old. Ms Hernandez, along with Kiko Argüello and Fr Mario Pezzi, made up the international team responsible for the ecclesial movement, which focuses on post-baptismal adult formation. It is estimated that the movement contains about a million members, in some 40 000 parish-based communities around the world. Over the last year and a half, Ms Hernandez had suffered deteriorating health, although she was never diagnosed with a specific disease. She was last seen publically on March 18 at an audience that Pope Francis granted missionary families
NE of the goals of an event at the United Nations on human trafficking was “to make real the faces of the nearly 2 million children and youth who are presently being trafficked”, said the Vatican’s UN nuncio. Another was for participants to discuss “what’s working, what’s not working and what needs to be done to free them, help them recover, and prevent other young people from suffering as they have”, said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who heads the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission at the UN. He made the comments in his opening remarks at the event, titled “Eliminating the Trafficking of Children and Youth.” It was sponsored by the Vatican UN mission along with the NGO Committee to Stop Trafficking in Persons, the Salesian Missions, the
Greek Orthodox archdiocese and ECPAT-USA, an organisation that advocates for federal and state legislation that prevents exploitation of children. Speakers called for greater awareness and stronger policies to combat the roots of human trafficking among children and youth. They also discussed the best methods to combat what they say is a growing scourge of children and youth who are trafficked for sex or work. The Catholic Church has long fought against human trafficking in its teaching and in its work “on the ground”, said Archbishop Auza. “The Second Vatican Council, St John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI all spoke out passionately and forcefully against the infamy of human trafficking and the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture that encourages this systematic exploita-
tion of human dignity and rights,” he said. Pope Francis has taken the Church’s action and advocacy to another level, according to the archbishop, who pointed out that the pontiff has repeatedly denounced trafficking in his writings, including exhortations, speeches and letters. “While human trafficking always exploits the vulnerable, the trafficking of children and youth exploits those most vulnerable of all,” Archbishop Auza said. Yu Ping Chan, programme management officer of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, described the forms human trafficking takes, including sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of victims’ organs to sell to black marketers for transplantation.—CNS
Catholic commercials hit the movies BY PETER FInnEY JR
Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of the neocatechumenal Way. (Photo: Emanuela De Meo/CnS) of the Neocatechumenal Way. The Holy Father also spoke to her by phone on July 1, during an audience with Mr Argüello and Fr Pezzi.—CNA
HEY represent a captive audience—the hundreds of people inside a cinema waiting for the big screen to light up with the film they paid good money to see. Now the archdiocese of New Orleans, perhaps in a bow to Star Trek and Pope Francis’ evangelising message of encounter, will boldly go where no diocese has gone before. The archdiocese is sponsoring a
15-second, pre-movie commercial that invites people to think positively about the “fellowship, purpose and service” offered by the local Catholic Church. “This idea actually was born out of the archdiocesan synod’s goals and priorities,” said Sarah McDonald, archdiocesan director of communications. “We’re trying to reach beyond the people we talk to on a regular basis and issue an invitation to those who may not be familiar with the Church or who have stopped attending Mass to take another look.” There are two versions of the commercial—quick hits designed to be inviting and not proselytising. Each features the code words of fellowship, purpose and service.
Each ends with a quick message from New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond as he stands with a group of young adults: “All are welcome!” and “Come join us!” The commercials will run in every major cinema within the metropolitan New Orleans area for the next 12 months. Ms McDonald said she does not know of any other dioceses across the US that have produced premovie spots. She said the commercials likely will run before some movies that the Church would never endorse, but “if one person is there to see a movie that we would not support morally, but that person’s heart is changed, then that will be an accomplishment”. — CNS
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BY CAROL GLATZ
HE Church—from individual parishes to the Vatican—needs to collaborate with highly skilled specialists if it wants to get serious about evangelisation, said a Canadian media, design and marketing entrepreneur. While Church leaders should turn increasingly to lay experts, lay Catholics should “step up a lot more in our parishes and our dioceses”, offering their expertise, Matthew Harvey Sanders said. The 34-year-old is the founder and managing director of Longbeard Creative, a web and graphic-design company that works with non-profits. In Rome he explained to Church leaders the benefits of allocating resources to digital tools and innovative outreach. Many secular brands, products and services are successfully using today’s tools and marketing strategies to capture people’s attention, Mr Sanders said. “If you imagine yourself in Times Square [in New York City], there are hundreds of conversations going on around you, you look up and there are all these screens, bombarding you with information and advertising, selling you a lifestyle,” he said. But “if you ask someone in Times Square, ‘Where’s Jesus in this mix?’ Maybe, ‘Ah, it was that guy on the soapbox, right? Who’s talking about the fact I’m going to hell’” he said. The Catholic Church does not have to lose its Gospel message or its Christian identity, he said, while it takes advantage of the many insights and skills available in the secular world. But it does have to compete
Matthew Harvey Sanders, design and marketing entrepreneur. (Photo: Robert Duncan/CnS) with a very crowded market, making it “an enormous undertaking that’s going to require a lot of collaboration,” he added. If one looks at the Church’s message, gifts and teachings, “the Church has a great product, one that people really need. The fact is most people are so busy and distracted they don’t even know they need the product,” Mr Sanders said. Major franchises, for example the Star Wars movies, spend nearly as much on marketing their work as they do on creating it, Mr Sanders said. As a result, “you don’t need to explain to anybody what Star Wars is”. As a result, “there should be no wonder why we have such a hard time getting people’s imaginations or why people ask themselves on a consistent basis why the Church’s message is relevant to me,” he said. Mr Sanders said the Church’s success in spreading the Gospel has been based on its “very strong grassroots involvement”— its willingness and ability to engage with different people in effective ways.—CNS
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Priest to manage religious Bishops: Industry centre at the Rio Olympics must help poor A P BY LISE ALVES
REPARING for the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on August 5, Fr Leandro Lenin Tavares was putting the final touches on what he hopes will be a very successful spiritual mission: coordinating the interreligious centre for athletes at the Olympic Village. “We hope that the centre will encourage harmony and unity among different countries and among different religions,” Fr Tavares said. He said the centre would be open from 7 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, until August 24 for Olympic athletes and their delegations and in September for Paralympic athletes and delegations. The centre will have five meeting rooms, each occupied by one of the five faiths chosen by the International Olympic Committee: Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. The Catholic Church will represent the Christian faith. The centre will host not only group meetings and Masses but also will offer individual guidance to those who seek religious support. In the Catholic space, Masses will be held in Spanish, Portuguese and English on a daily basis, but Fr Tavares said there would be priests who speak also French and Italian, for individual or group support. He said some delegations have chosen to bring with them their own religious leader, and that they
MID Malawi’s booming industry in mineral extraction, the country’s Catholic bishops and NGO partners hope corporations will help the wider community to benefit. “The role of uplifting poor masses is beyond government alone,” Martin Chiphwanya, an official with the Malawi bishops’ conference, told a workshop for civil society organisations in Lilongwe, the nation’s capital. He said civil society organisations have a role to engage business firms, “especially those whose activities impact on the environment such as mining firms”, so that they will view corporate social responsibility “as an important component of maintaining good rapport in communities”, he said. “It is important that companies should attend to the interests and issues of the wider community by taking into account issues of corporate social responsibility,” added Mr Chiphwanya, who is acting director of the Malawi bishops’ Justice & Peace Commission. Mineral products, primarily uranium and thorium ore, and
An aerial view of Rio de Janeiro shows the Christ the Redeemer statue with Maracana stadium in the background. (Photo: Ricardo Moraes, Reuters/CnS) will also be able to use the interreligious centre for their spiritual needs. “The German delegation, for example, is expected to bring its own chaplain,” said the priest who participated in a similar centre at the 2015 Toronto Pan-American Games. Fr Tavares said although he understands the criticism the centre’s organisers recently received from leaders of other religions that were not included in the centre, the Olympic Committee made the
choices based on overall religious representation of the athletes competing. “Athletes who seek these types of services come not only for spiritual guidance, but to find emotional balance before they compete. I hope they will all find the support they seek” and, during the competition, reflect “the harmony and unity they will see in here.”—CNS
precious metals account for 2,8% of the value of Malawi’s exports, or about R600 million. Daniel Kamanga, who facilitated the workshop, said that at present there are no legal provisions or policy regulating companies’ corporate social responsibility activities in Malawi. This means these activities are rarely done in consultation with the communities and some activities do not reflect the needs of the people. There is no “community ownership” of these development activities, and corporate investors appear to be more into marketing activities and media coverage. Another J&P commission official, Success Joel Sikwese, said civil society organisations are now demanding more action from government to incorporate corporate social responsibility into anticipated legislation. The workshop was organised by the J&P commission as part of the Tonse Tipindule mining governance project, which is funded by national and international Christian and Muslim groups.—CNA
Meeting to study faith and sport BY ELISE HARRIS
LONGSIDE other global institutions such as the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee, German-based insurance company Allianz has partnered with the Vatican for a sports conference aimed at exploring the benefits of faith and sport, and to put these into action. The partnership between the Vatican and Allianz, a European financial service company with headquarters in Munich, centres on an October 5-7 conference titled “Sport at the Service of Humanity”. Set to take place in the Vatican, the conference will draw 150 leaders from the world of sport, faith, business and civil society to establish the principles for “a new movement” in sports. Leaders will discuss “how sport and faith working together can improve and enhance the lives of those who most need it in many different walks of life”, said a press release from the Pontifical Council for Culture. Leaders and organisers share one common conviction: “that sport helps people become their best selves, and that a healthy sporting culture helps build strong communities”, said Christopher
FIFA Women’s World Cup football winners, the USA, hoist the trophy after defeating Japan 5-2 in the final. (Photo: Michael Chow/CnS) Altieri, a spokesman for the conference. The conference seeks to give “robust expression to that vision” by bringing together athletes from all levels of sport alongside leaders from different faith, business, political, academic, policy and cultural communities, Dr Altieri said. The conference is designed to encourage participants to share best practices which can then be presented to the broader public “in a helpful manner: to help build a sporting culture that is capable of responding to the needs of today’s society”, he said. The Pontifical Council for Culture, which conceived the idea for
the conference, is engaging with various leaders around the world to ensure their participation. Among those whose presence is already confirmed are UN secretarygeneral Ban Ki-Moon and Thomas Back, president of the International Olympic Committee. Mgr Melchor Sanchez de Toca, undersecretary for the Council for Culture, said that “this is the first time that there has been such a high level meeting in the Vatican on sports and faith”. Stressing that this will not be a one-off event, he said that “the idea is to create a movement that will resonate with everyone, regardless of faith, culture and geography”.—CNA
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Pope marries young deaf couple in residence chapel
OPE Francis married a young deaf couple in the chapel of his residence at the Vatican. Teodoro Pisciottani and Paulina Szczepanska, the daughter of a Vatican employee, were married at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae. Pope Francis does not often preside over wedding ceremonies—his most recent was a wedding of 20 couples in St
Peter’s basilica in 2014 that was televised on Vatican TV. The private wedding in July was reported on a regional online news site, ondanews.it, for Salerno, Italy. Pisciottani is from Salerno. The couple have been active in cultural initiatives for the deaf community in Padova, northern Italy, including a version of Big Brother for the deaf.—CNS
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BY MANDLA ZIBI
ARDINAL Wilfrid Napier represented other religious leaders in Durban recently at an anti-drug addiction event organised by Durban University of Technology (DUT) and supported by the Denis Hurley Centre. As part of the internationally acclaimed “Support Don’t Punish” initiative, speakers and artists challenged society to look at creative ways of responding to drug addiction. Cardinal Napier spoke powerfully of the need to liberate people from drugs not by treating them as criminals, but by treating them as human beings. “A large number of drug users attended and they were motivated by the presence at the meeting of so many organisations, including the police, who wanted to help them,” said Raymond Perrier, head of the Denis Hurley Centre, and one of The Southern Cross’s columnists. “It was touching to see the cardinal spend time speaking one-to-one with drug users, many of whom are sleeping on the streets. “The ease with which Cardinal Napier engaged with people facing personal difficulties was very moving. As one of the placards held by a drug user said: ‘We are Human,’ so the cardinal really affirmed this statement,” Mr Perrier observed. Also present at the event were two other speakers: Razeen Dada, a local businessman and the current Mr India South Africa, and Dr Jairam Reddy, chair of the DUT council and a great supporter of the Denis Hurley Centre. Prof Monique Marks of the Urban Futures Centre at the DUT city campus was the organising brain behind the event. “‘Support don’t Punish’ is a worldwide campaign which explores new ways of fighting the scourge of drugs and drug addiction,” a statement on the campaign’s website reads. “The programme seeks to promote the case for drug policy reform, and to challenge existing laws and policies which prevent access to interventions which reduce harm to addicts. “For over half a century there has been a global consensus that drugs should be eliminated through punishment and repression.
A huge sculpture of butterflies, symbolising an Aids-free generation, has been created by hundreds of KwaZulu-Natal teenagers and will be unveiled this weekend at the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban in time for a global Aids conference later this month. Delegates will include the famous actor and health educator Pieter-Dirk Uys, seen here at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival promoting the DHC’s butterfly project. The sculpture is open for viewing at the DHC until the end of July after which mini-sculptures will be sent back to churches and community groups whose teenagers helped to create it. For more information and photos, see Denis Hurley Centre on Facebook. (Photo: Illa Thompson)
Bethlehem mosaics restored BY JUDITH SUDILOVSKY
Cardinal Wifrid Napier represented the Catholic Church’s support for a Durban meeting backing an international initiative on drug addiction. “But this ‘consensus’ has been ripped apart at the seams. Progressively more countries realise repression and punishment have failed. It’s time for change,” the statement noted. The campaign, which boasts a growing international following from drug-addiction experts and activists, was launched in 2013 and now has a presence in 100 cities worldwide. It includes the annual global day of action, as well as an interactive photo project—an online photo petition with more than 7 000 supporters from around the world. For international drug policy, 2016 has already been a big year, as witnessed by a UN general assembly special session on drugs in April, and a UN high-level meeting on HIV/Aids earlier in June.
N Italian team has completed restoration of Crusader-era mosaics in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The work involved removing the layers of centuries-worth of soot and dirt—a result of the smoke of candles lit by pilgrims coming to venerate the site traditionally believed to be the birthplace of Jesus—from about 1,55 million tiny mosaic pieces that were reviewed and restored. “I think all the churches want to save this church because here Jesus was born,” said Giammarco Piacenti, CEO of the Piacenti restoration centre. It is important for all Christianity. For my professional life, this occasion is incredible.” Only 1 400 square feet of mosaics remain from the original 21 528 square feet that adorned the wall, he noted. The others were destroyed by rain leaking through the roof. Made of stone, mother of pearl, and glass and gold leaf, the mosaics portray scenes in the life of Jesus and the Church, including the disbelief of Thomas, the Ascension and Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. Mr Piacenti said the mosaic of the disbelief of Thomas shows the date 1155 and the
A worker from the Piacenti restoration centre works on a mosaic in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, West Bank. (Photo: Debbie Hill/CNS) names Ephraim and Basilius, presumably artisans who created the work. Some pieces of the mosaics remain missing and will not be replaced, he said, based on the theory of restoration that there should be a minimum of intervention on any piece. The next stage of the project will include restoration of the church’s 50 pillars and the church floor and the mosaics underneath.—CNS
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Speak the language of love
Editor: Günther Simmermacher
HEN South Africans go to the polls on August 3 to elect their municipal governments, more will be at stake than which local politicians and community leaders are voted into positions of influence. This municipal election is also a national referendum by proxy on the presidency of Jacob Zuma. The maths are quite simple: If the governing African National Congress loses a significant share from the national results of the 2014 election and fails to hold on to former strongholds, then Mr Zuma’s position will be increasingly untenable, with electoral failure coming on top of “Nkandla-gate” and an excess of political scandal. If the ANC holds its national share more or less steady— around 58% would seem a reasonable threshold—and holds the hotly-contested urban centres, then this will be seen as an endorsement of Mr Zuma’s leadership, and the president’s opponents within the party are likely to hold their fire. For the voters, this complicates matters. An ANC supporter might want to see the back of Mr Zuma, but would not want to entrust local governance to opposition candidates. This reveals the inherent weakness of South Africa’s political system: many voters see the ANC as their only realistic political option, regardless of its performance, because of its history as a liberation movement and in absence of alternatives that are seen as credible. More than that, because the ANC faces no electoral threat nationally, it is seen by many as virtually synonymous with the state. When frustration with governance is met with protest, almost invariably the targets for the lit matches are state property. In the absence of an opposition that is seen as plausible, people will burn schools and public transport in protest against the ANC. Yet they still vote for the party they are protesting against because the other parties might serve them even worse. But the political landscape is shifting. The Democratic Alliance now poses an electoral threat in metros like Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth), and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters provide a political outlet for those who are angry at the ANC and see the DA as part of the problem. This local election will provide us with clues for the future allignment of South African politics,
also in the ways coalitions may be formed, where these become necessary. This is one reason why these elections are so important. The other reason why they are significant is obvious: we are asked to elect the people who are tasked with providing essential services to the people. And this imposes on us, the voters, a great responsibility. In their pastoral letter, the bishops of Southern Africa counselled us: “Elections are a time to think about the kind of society we would like to live in and the kind of leaders we need.” Our task is to identify which parties and which candidates are best qualified to represent our needs and those of our fellow citizens on a local level. If the incumbents have done a good job and served with ethical integrity, we may invest in them a mandate to continue their service. If they haven’t, we ought to turf them out of office. In the election of ward councillors—the people whose task it is to represent our interests and needs on council level—we should not tie ourselves to party solidarities, but choose the best man or woman available. We must be informed in awarding candidates and parties our votes. One party is not necessarily the best option simply because it opposes another party, or because its leader speaks well or loudly. We must interrogate their policies and, if they are incumbents, their performance. And we must exercise our votes to serve the common good. As Catholics we are called to extend our concerns not only to parochial issues, such as the maintenance of the local infrastructure, but the needs of the poor. The bishops said: “We need mayors and councillors who have genuine concern for the economic and other hardships that our citizens are enduring.” So if a party has a record that fails to serve the poor, keeps breaking promises, has too cosy relationships with big business or property developers, nominates candidates who lack integrity or competence, or is otherwise indifferent to the poor, then such a party fails the need identified by our bishops. On August 3 the adult citizens of South Africa are given a serious task which must not be taken lightly. As we go to the polling stations on Wednesday, as we must, our mind has to be clear about why we make our crosses next to the candidate and party of our choice.
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HE descent of the Holy Spirit and his workings in my life has taught me the language he imparts to us all and the language we can all communicate in and also comprehend: the language of love. How wonderful that the Holy Spirit fills our hearts with the warmth of his presence which, if we allow it, mirrors his graces to all we meet. He teaches us the language of love, so that when we sit next to each other in church, we reach over to hug the stranger beside us or just smile warmly. His love allows us to pause amid our busy strides, to look upon the
face of hunger and to compassionately and without judgment be the hand of Christ. His love allows us to humble ourselves in our church duties; at the workplace or in social obligations and not want glory for ourselves, but to remain content in obscurity and to even wholeheartedly welcome it. His love allows us to love those who hurt us so unbearably but sadly often don’t even realise the pain they cause us. The Holy Spirit enables us to speak the universal language when we don’t ignore people who communicate with us, even if we don’t
ness (2 Samuel 91-13), with some translations even adding “until they exceeded themselves”. I thank the Lord for those passages in scripture in regard to this subject, and the inspiration they have given me to unite my Cross in life, with the Lord’s Passion, for his will and not mine be done. Name withheld, Johannesburg
Bisexual in a happy marriage
OPE Francis is a unique inspiration with the words of clarification, loving affirmation and encouragement he constantly gives to those of us (at least 10% of any given population, it is said) with a same-sex or bisexual orientation. The pope also understands, along with official Catholic teaching, that this condition is not selfchosen and that such sexually orientated persons are capable of achieving great sainthood just like anyone else. Indeed this orientation can be compared to left-handedness. It is also common knowledge that many such individuals (including myself, may I humbly add) are often gifted with considerable creativity, as witnessed through history. I wish to thank from the heart parishes such as the Jesuit parish of the Holy Trinity in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, for their group— often amid much ignorance and criticism from fellow Catholics, by the way—that comes together in love to build up and affirm fellow parishioners with such a Cross. The Bible stresses that it is not good for man to live alone and in answer to my need for love and a family, the Lord has greatly gifted me with a loving wife who knows of my bisexuality. I am totally faithful to her, I may I add, and we have been given the gift of children. Scripture approves and even praises multiple variants in human relationships. Indeed, it exhibits a positive view of same-sex love (without genital expression) at notable moments in biblical history. • Ruth, a direct ancestor of Christ, is a great example, with her extraordinary pledge to Naomi. • In 1 Samuel we read that Jonathan became deeply attracted to David. David asserted that Jonathan’s love for him was “more wonderful than the love of a woman”. They met in secret, we read, and embraced and shamelessly upon separation, with David remembering their intense physical passion and great emotional tender-
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Simple act of mercy
WAS greatly saddened to read of Fr Xolisile Kondlo’s death. Perhaps it is now up to Catholics as a group to honour his memory and further his organ donor ministry by joining the Organ Donor Foundation (ODF). At Betty’s Bay parish, prior to his death, we discussed his condition and the merciful work of the ODF, and some of our congregation signed up. There were some questions about age, but apparently this is not a factor. Signing up is very easy at www.odf.org.za. In this Year of Mercy, let us together help Fr Kondlo by “putting our bodies where our mouths are”—and all it will cost is a few minutes of your time. Geoff Harris, Betty’s Bay, W.C.
The dark side of organ donation
ECENT articles on the need for organ donors should stir the heart of every person who values life. The Catholic Church in her teaching does call upon the believer to always be charitable to our neighbour, even to the point of sacrificing our lives for the sake of the other animated by love, charity and truth. But there is an underside to organ transplants. Greedy unethical physicians, hospitals and intermediaries who seek to enrich themselves by the desperation of well-off patients who are low down on waiting lists, have increased the illegal trading and harvesting of organs around the globe. The teaching of the Catholic Church on organ donation warns that it is not morally acceptable if the donors or those who legitimately speak for them have not given their explicit consent. It is furthermore morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons (CCC 2296). While it sounds rather noble to advertise by means of a Living Will to our family members and personal physician that we are in favour of offering our organs for transplant in the event that we are “brain dead” or by any other medical description “known” by a physician that suggests that we are incapacitated and “unviable”. But this may lead to euthanasia by stealth for the purposes of organ harvesting. A Living Will can be dangerous and provide legal approval to stop and withhold future life-saving treatment based on untested medical information.
agree with their viewpoints. If we speak the language of love, powered by the Holy Spirit, we can never be misunderstood. There are no ambiguities; no catchy phrases are necessary. His love gives us the grace to accept with joy our lot in life and even though the sharp pains of sorrows pierce our hearts to cling on to the hope of having our hearts desires granted if we but trust and have faith. We must clothe our hearts with love and pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to love as Our Lord does! That he will help us to speak the universal language, which requires just the occasional use of words—the language of love. Rosemary Govender, Pietermaritzburg Church teaching suggests that vital organs can be removed only after the death of someone who has been determined as “dead”. It must be cautioned however that some rogue ethicists have come up with a variety of bioethical descriptions of death which negates our traditional understanding of being dead. It is necessary for the suffering patient to discuss and even appoint a person who understands and agrees with the Church teaching and respects the sanctity of life. This appointed person may act on your behalf, but at no time must they have the authority to make a decision that may directly cause the end of your life. The acting impartial agent for the patient must enquire about a POLST (Physician’s Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) document that will state the end-of-life wishes of the patient and ensures a patient’s wishes are followed. Moral medical experts warn patients to refuse to answer POLST questions that can be used by medical staff to apply undue pressure on the vulnerable patient that may bring about the withholding of medical care in the future. It is also necessary to seek an unbiased second opinion when in doubt. Physicians and carers who unquestionably approve of abortion, surrogacy, euthanasia and the death penalty have lost their moral compass and are no friend of life and are likely candidates for the application of death by stealth. Henry R Sylvester, Cape Town
Keep holy days holy
N August 15, the Universal Church celebrates the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady. Except South African Catholics— who have Our Lady Assumed into Heaven as their national patroness—won’t. Our bishops have deemed it impractical from a pastoral and logistical perspective to keep the feast on its proper day and arranged that we just keep the feast on the nearest Sunday. Surely, considering the multiple crises and challenges our country and its people have, Our Lady’s intercession is needed now more than ever, and special observance of this feast would be appropriate. The bishops’ view that greater numbers at Mass on a Sunday will add value, with respect, does not hold up. For most people, this will become “just another Sunday”. Observing the feast on the actual day, in union with the Church worldwide, and the Church through the ages; making a special effort to attend Mass or some form of liturgy during the week—all of this would give far greater prominence to the feast for us ordinary Catholics! Dear Bishops, please reconsider the transferral of our holy days, which has hurt, saddened and dismayed so many. You have not responded to our concerns and our hurt, you never consulted us concerning a matter directly affecting our spiritual welfare, and you have not seriously addressed the alternatives proposed to you. Nicholas Mitchell, Port Elizabeth
With God on the pitch A T the press conference after he had led Portugal to the European Championship in France this month, coach Fernando Santos paid a lovely tribute to Christ and the Blessed Virgin. “I want to thank above all my best friend and his mother for making me so humble, for having allowed me to illuminate his name, because all that I do is for his glory,” the Portuguese coach told the assembled journalists, after having highlighted the support of his family. His captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, also thanked God for his team’s success— twice. In the Anglophone world we are rather used to the media treating public displays of faith with suspicion, if not mocking scorn. England striker Daniel Sturridge, a committed Christian who prays on the pitch, often attracts comments of ridicule, especially if he misses good chances. His captain in the national team, Wayne Rooney, is a Catholic. When his team prepared for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa he was photographed wearing a rosary around the neck. That made front-page news in Britain! Rooney hasn’t talked much about his faith since then, perhaps mindful that Britain does not “do God”. That certainly isn’t the case in Portugal, Spain, Italy or Latin America, where football players are open and demonstrative about their faith. It is common to see players from those regions—and also from places such as Croatia and Poland— crossing themselves before, during and after matches. Some, like Brazil’s Oscar or Mexico’s Javier Hernandez, even kneel in prayer before games. Barcelona’s Argentinian star Lionel Messi, the world’s second-best player, has described meeting Pope Francis as one of
his life’s highlights. A practising Catholic, he reportedly made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. German players, it is fair to say, aren’t as demonstrative. And after recent reports showed just how much the Christian churches are in decline there, one might think that this creeping lack of faith applies also to the players. But apparently that is not so. Of the team that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, most have some measure of religion.
he most visible example of that is midfielder Mesut Özil, a practising Muslim of Turkish heritage who prays on the pitch (Sami Khedira, who is halfTunisian, also practises Islam). But Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal in the final, is an active Christian who posts religious messages on his Twitter account. And the now-retired captain, Philipp Lahm, is a Protestant who is engaged in ecumenical activities. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is a Catholic who continues to support his home parish by funding projects for destitute children and youth development. Defender Mats Hummels also professes his Catholic faith publicly. Now retired striker Miroslav Klose, the
A Fernando Santos wallpaper with his tribute to Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, on The Southern Cross’ website (go to www.scross.co.za/category/wallpapers)
Point of Faith
record holder for most-ever World Cup goals, has described himself as a devout Catholic for whom the faith forms the pillar of family life. Fellow striker Lukas Podolski—who, like Klose, was born in Poland—is also Catholic, and a particular fan of St John Paul II. Another striker, Mario Gomez, makes regular pilgrimages with his family to a Marian shrine on the Bussen mountain in southern Germany. Attacking player Thomas Müller and coach Joachim Löw both were even altar servers when they were younger. Though neither is a devout Catholic today, both have said that they see the faith and Church as playing an important positive role in society. I don’t know what church Jerome Boateng belongs to, but he has several Christian tattoos, including one of the Blessed Virgin on his left arm and the cross on the right. It would be silly to argue, of course, that teams with many players of faith have an advantage over those whose squads are lacking in religious beliefs. In international football, it is talent, coaching and infrastructure (as well as a bit of luck) that determines success. But I’ll leave you with this thought: other than Germany and England, all World Cups have been won by countries with a strong Catholic majority: Spain, Italy, France, Argentina, Uruguay and, of course, Brazil. And when Germany won the trophy in 1954 and 1974, most players came from Catholic backgrounds (I don’t know about 1990, but most of the 2014 team were practising Christians). So one might wonder whether England could reach at last a semi-final—if only they had some faith...
Where are the men in our churches? Fr Chris I Townsend N one of the parishes I previously served in, in preparation for the celebration of the washing of the feet on Holy Thursday, we couldn’t find 12 men, as used to be required by rubrics for that part of the liturgy. There just weren’t 12… Men in the church in some parts are a rarity. I thank God that the parish I serve in now has a much better gender balance, but this has not always been the case in my experience and ministry. I also can’t remember this as something I particularly noticed when I was growing up—the men were around. The actor Tim Plewman was wellknown for his very clever stage production called Defending the Caveman, a humorous look at the real difficulties of inter-gender communication. Where are the men? What are we doing, or not doing, to having to ask what has happened to them, in our churches and societies? This year I have been struck particularly by the plight of the Older White Man. Before you start reporting me to some Chapter 9 institution, hear me out. We’re not talking about the wealthy here. We’re talking about the men who have worked and been on the Border and tried to raise a family and who are now at retirement age, with little or nothing to show for it. In the area in which I work, we had six suicides early this year—all in this age-group. Suicides out of despair. As a Church and a broad society, our bruising narrative about land and privilege and return and restitution often forgets that all sides have winners and losers. And sometimes the winners are actually the losers. One of the interesting common denom-
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Pray with the Pope
Can we trust sports? General Intention: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
E certainly need to pray for professional sportsmen and women at the moment. Many sports have been so corrupted by the “root of all evil” that one hardly takes any of their results seriously any more. Apart from causing the cancer of corruption, money empties all the fun out of sport. How can one enjoy a match, either as a player or a spectator, when you know that the outcome is already fixed? Or how can you even enjoy the action if you know that certain moves have already been carefully choreographed by crooked bookmakers? We need to ask some serious questions about the nature of sport before we consider whether it can be made an instrument of God’s peace. A fundamental one is whether sport can be made into a commodity and, as it were, traded on the market. Isn’t genuine sport’s true function precisely to lift us out of the mundane world of making a living? When we look at children’s games we see the true nature of sport which is a kind of ecstasy in the sheer delight and pleasure of play. Children don’t play in order to get rewarded; the play is its own reward. Even winning is unimportant. Hence I would argue that when sport becomes just about earning a huge salary and big bonuses, it is no longer true sport. It becomes a means of employment, which is fine, but it should not be glorified with the name “sport”. And given the ridiculous sums of money involved in so-called “professional” sports these days, it’s no surprise that sport has moved from being a joy to being a job to being a criminal activity. What a day it was when Hansie Cronjé joined the ranks of the criminal confraternity. All of which raises the question of whether anything which is money-maximising can make a contribution to peace? Can corrupt FIFA bring the nations of the world together in harmonious cooperation? Can the Tour de France cycling race? If so it is only by the grace of God. We pray that in sport today, as the old saying goes, “Where sin abounds, grace may more abound”.
In his column, Fr Chris Townsend ponders the decreasing number of men in church, and how to get them back. inators to the recent suicides was that many of the men had spent time on the Border, that defining experience for so many white South African men. This is something that we as South Africans—of all hues and persuasions—need to face. The extraordinary violence and the burden of guilt and shame that even perceived “righteous” conflict brings. So we begin to build up a profile of a sad and lost generation who had early and formative experiences of trauma, violence, abuse—physical, mental, sexual, substance, military so-called discipline and the unbelievable violence associated with it. And that was not just the white male… We are moving into a generation free of war and military—we are indeed a privileged country, if one discounts the violence of the Crime War. But we have not moved into a space that favours the “laying down of arms”. A number of recent experiences has shown this to me: from the racist-rants sagas, to the permissible divisive election-
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eering, to how we perpetuate apartheid in so many different ways. So what does this have to do with the Church and a parish and how we deal with men? I don’t think that we can tackle the depth of our rage and violence as a society until we find a way to face, reconcile and heal the extraordinary violence that we engrain and perpetuate in our South African psyche—the collective one, the emerging one. This is a huge task for the Church, to actually do the reconciliation work that is 20 years overdue and much neglected. We can do this only if we are engaged with the “Other Half”, the men who are steeped in cultures of violence. If we don’t have them in the Church, we have to make the Church reach out to them. We cannot wait for them to come to us, for most will come only feet first in a box. We, as a whole Church, need to seek out the men of violence and alienation in their often confused and protective spaces and bring them out of their caves, our caves, our man caves. This will not be done by anyone other than the brave spouses, sisters, mothers who have memory of a different man. And by the men themselves. And by their children who know and choose a different narrative and future.
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Living the Gospel Missionary Intention: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbour. COLLEAGUE recently argued that there are interesting similarities between the Catholic Church and the governing party in South Africa. He meant this in the sense that people continue to vote for the governing party despite its corruption and abuse of power. They do so out of a sense of loyalty in the same way many Catholics continue practising despite the manifest scandals in the Church—paedophile priests, the abuse of funds and the corruption of power. People remain in the Church because it is and always has been a Church of sinners. In fact, it exists to do the Lord’s work of calling sinners to repentance and conversion. It is not a coterie of the perfect. However, the conversion that Jesus seeks in the individual members has to be reflected in the whole body. It is precisely because the Lord calls individual sinful Christians—you and me—to conversion that the institutional Church needs to be semper reformanda, always in the process of reform. This requires all the members to be open to the metanoia or radical change of direction that the Gospel demands. And at the same time the leadership of the Church has to initiate those institutional changes that will enable a collective metanoia. Individual Christians therefore strive to live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbour while the leadership strives to create those spiritual, pastoral and canonical conditions within which the ordinary member can flourish and grow in Christ. When we see the leadership humbly striving to do this, as I believe we are seeing it in the case of Pope Francis, then we feel more comfortable belonging to a Church of sinners. May he feel the support of our prayers in his reforming efforts.
S outher n C ross
The Assumption of the Virgin Mary, by Guido Reni (1617)
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Pope keeps promise on laity, women Recent key appointments in the Vatican curia suggest that Pope Francis is true to his promise to give laity and women a greater role in running the Church, as ELISE HARRIS explains.
EVERAL recent appointments by Pope Francis to Vatican departments show that his reform of the Roman curia is in tune with what he’s said from the beginning about his vision for the Church. When we look at what Francis has preached about since practically his first day in office, three biggies come to mind: a Church that is less clerical, has a stronger lay involvement, and a greater presence of women. With his decision this month to appoint several lay persons to important Vatican posts, Pope Francis has made good on his intentions. He has appointed American journalist Greg Burke as the new director for the Holy See Press Office, with Spanish journalist Paloma García Ovejero as his number two. After the retirement of what’s considered to be the “old guard”, the new appointments represent a shift from traditional standards. While previously there has typically been a priest and an Italian in the mix, now it’s two laypeople in charge, both of whom are nonItalians. Also worthy of note is that the pope scored more points with the laity by nominating German professor Markus Schächter, Spanish psychologist Leticia Soberón Mainero and US pro-life advocate Kim Daniels to the Secretariat for Communications. The appointments are significant because while laity have always been named as consultors to pontifical councils and congregations, these three laypeople were appointed members. Under Pope John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor
Pope Francis is keeping his promise to appoint laity and women to top Vatican posts. (Photo: Paul Haring/CnS) bonus—which regulates and defines responsibilities, duties and the composition of the offices of the Roman curia— membership to councils and congregations was exclusive to cardinals and bishops.
s Ms García Ovejero put it shortly after her appointment was announced, the pope’s decision to appoint her and Mr Burke was “coherent with what he preached from the beginning”. Ms García Ovejera, the first woman to ever be appointed to the position of vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, said that to have two laypersons working in a man-woman duo for the press office was “a logical choice”. Pope Francis, she said, “is coherent with his words and with his vision of the Church. A Church that goes out, a Church that’s not clerical, which all of us feel a part of and feel responsible in announcing the Gospel. The mission
is to announce the Gospel.” Getting rid of the notion that the Church, and the Vatican in particular, is divided into the classes of commoners versus a higher “spiritual elite” has been a priority for Francis even during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires. In a 2011 interview with an Argentinian Catholic news agency, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio warned against the temptation of priests to “clericalise the laity” and to “infect them with our own disease” without realising it. This is an idea he has pushed with full force since the beginning of his pontificate. In his first major event after being elected as Successor of Peter in 2013, Pope Francis told a group of Argentine youth during World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero that he hoped “for a mess...that the Church takes to the streets. That we defend ourselves from comfort, that we defend our-
selves from clericalism.” “We’d do well to recall that the Church is not an elite [group of] priests, of consecrated people, of bishops but all of us make up the faithful and Holy People of God,” he said in a recent letter to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, explaining that it’s “illogical and even impossible for us as pastors to believe that we have the monopoly on solutions for the numerous challenges thrown up by contemporary life”. Given his recent appointments, Francis is following through and letting his words become actions by allowing the laity to have more space in decision-making posts in the Vatican. Coupled with Francis’ desire to suppress a clericalist attitude has been his great push to have a stronger, louder lay voice within the Church. In the 2011 interview with the Argentine agency, the future pope said that the reform that’s needed in the Church is “neither to clericalise nor ask to be clericalised”, but to encourage laypeople to embrace their role, evangelising in everyday life within their families, workplaces, schools and neighbourhoods. During the October 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family, Pope Francis announced his decision to establish a new Vatican department dedicated to Laity, Family and Life, set to go into effect on September 1, 2016. He made it clear that the members would include not only consecrated persons, but also laypeople, both men and women, who work in different fields from around the world. He has said on previous occasions that a department dedicated to the topics of family and the laity could be headed by either a married couple or a lay individual.
is decision to put two laypeople in charge of the Holy See Press Office, then, shows that he means what he says, and that as his reform continues to move forward, he won’t be shy in breaking away from traditional structural compositions. The fact that Ms García Ovejero
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is the first woman—and a laywoman, for that matter—to ever be appointed as deputy spokesperson for the Holy See is a prime example of what Pope Francis has asked for several times in calling for a more “incisive” feminine presence in the Church. He first garnered headlines for the phrase in a 2014 address when he said that “I hope that more spaces are widened for a feminine presence in the Church that is more widespread and incisive”. He widened that space mere months later with the September 2014 appointment of four women to the International Theological Commission. Women now comprise 16% of the commission’s members, which is a greater representation than they’ve ever had before. In April of that year Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, revealed that his department was looking for another secretary after the former had been reassigned. He recalled that in a conversation with Pope Francis, the pontiff gave the green light for the position to be filled by a woman. However, the position remains empty as the office prepares to merge with several others to form a larger dicastery as part of the ongoing reform. In a 2015 address to the Pontifical Council for Culture, Francis said that women “know how to incarnate the tender face of God, his mercy, which translates into availability to give time more than to occupy spaces, to welcome instead of excluding”. While Pope Francis has often said that his reform won’t be a quick process, but will rather be carried out over a period of several years, we’re already starting to get a clearer picture of what the process will look like. And if this past month is any indication, we can see Francis’ vision beginning to unfold, showing a Church that truly “goes out” and is open to the “newness” of the Holy Spirit. As a man who follows through on what he says, Pope Francis, we can see, is doing what he was elected to do.—CNA
The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Is this PE church SA’s ‘Sistine Chapel’? A small church in Port Elizabeth may come the closest South Africa has to the famous Sistine Chapel, thanks to the art of a remarkable priest, as Fr SEAn COLLInS CSsR explains.
HE coloured township of Bethelsdorp in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth boasts not only an historic Protestant mission station founded by Dutch missionary Jan van der Kemp in 1850—it also has the beloved little Catholic church of St Rita’s, Those who visit St Rita’s are always be fascinated by and caught up in the array of bright colour murals and extraordinary devotional decorations throughout the church, from end to end. These artworks are testimony to the ingenuity and zeal of a very talented and devoted former pastor of this parish, Fr Jeff Goodwin. Fr Goodwin, who stayed and ministered at the parish for eight years until his death in 1987, once said: “If this had been a smart church, I wouldn’t have started painting on the walls.” Remarkably, Fr Godwin never had any formal training in art. Not much is documented about Fr Geoffrey Hastings Goodwin, who would have turned 85 on August 2. Born in Blantyre, Malawi, of enterprising Church of England parents who eventually settled in Port Alfred, Geoffrey was schooled at St George’s in Salisbury (now Harare). He trained as a bank clerk, and also did farming in Marandellas, where he befriended the renowned botanical artist Lady Tredgold, a devout Catholic. “I put off entering the Church, and drew back from the brink several times,” he once recalled. Having converted to Catholicism, he eventually entered St John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria and was ordained in Grahamstown on July 7, 1968. A very private, gentle person, he practised poverty, wearing a simple white cassock and plain sandals. He shaved his head but allowed his beard to grown unhindered. Living an ascetic life, Fr Goodwin was wittily dubbed “The Catholic Ayatollah”—the priest quipped he wasn’t sure if it was for his long beard or for his own Catholic conservatism. He hitched to visit his family living at Port Alfred and often in fine weather swam to the islands in the bay. One time a visiting priest was
Fr Jeff Goodwin, whose art adorns the walls of St Rita’s church in Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth. The priest died in 1987 at only 56. invited to take a swim with him, and found to his chagrin on their return that their lunch was just a boiled egg. There was nothing else in the larder other than boiled eggs which were Fr Goodwin’s meals for the week. He had a sense of humour. In his letter to the bishop requesting extensions to St Rita’s church, necessary because of overcrowding, he suggests a good time for the bishop’s visit to discuss the matter, would be at a time other than Sunday morning Mass. This, he said, was because parishioners were eager to get home to “worship at the altar of Sunday dinner. And that god is a very demanding one.” Before he came to Bethelsdorp he served in Bedford, King Williams Town and St James. He had already begun his artistic endeavours: the St James jubilee booklet says that his stone creations adorn the front of the presbytery.
form, one that was not very uplifting for the spirit. When he was assigned to St Rita’s by Bishop John Murphy in 1979, Fr Goodwin sought to improve the church’s appearance. While living in radical poverty in the cramped space precariously attached to the church, Fr Goodwin lavished the house of God with every uplifting hue of colour and grandeur as was within his means to do, beginning with a paintbrush, but also using scissors, glue, blow torch, and carpet needles and thread. He completed all the four walls of the church and even some of the ceiling with embellishments of gospel scenes, angels, saints, and the sacraments—dimly set onto the windows—before the Lord took him to his eternal reward in November 1987, aged 56. While the ever-growing parish has transferred to a bigger church—St Joseph the Worker in Chatty—St Rita’s hosts the Saturday evening Mass—and the congregants’ eyes will always fall on the treasure of holy artwork to remind them of the things of heaven. Fr Goodwin did not see himself as much of an artist. Talking of his murals, he once opined: “It’s like Michaelangelo in reverse—and not particularly good.” Those who behold his art might beg to differ. He gave many of his creations away. Two icon-like paintings were donated after Fr Goodwin’s death to the Port Elizabeth diocesan archives. They are sacramental, biblical and theological in content. His paintings—Pantocrator icons with accompanying biblical messages—were a way of teaching the people through reflection on the symbols they represented.
Murals and paintings depicting scenes of the gospel and saints created by the late Fr Jeff Goodwin cover the walls and part of the ceiling of St Rita’s church in Bethelsdorp, Port Elizabeth. Above is a depiction of the Last Supper; below is Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the crowds welcome him with their cries of “Hosanna”. (All photos: Fr Sean Collins CSsR)
he church of St Rita’s was originally a house generously donated by its owner, Mrs Foorlee, for a Mass centre. It was opened by Bishop James Colbert of Port Elizabeth in 1948, with Mass offered there twice a month. From 1968 the Group Areas Act saw a huge influx of people to the Northern Areas, dispossessed of their previous homes in Fairview and other parts of Port Elizabeth. Soon a thousand Catholics were coming to Mass in those parts, and St Rita’s became a parish, among others in the Northern Areas. Several priests enlarged the “house church” to accommodate growing congregations, and so it assumed an incongruous size and
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Left: Fr Goodwin’s representation of Doubting Thomas verifying Christ’s crucifixion wounds; (centre) the raising of Lazarus at Bethany; and (right) a dramatic vision of the Last Judgment in Port Elizabeth’s St Rita’s church.
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The Southern Cross, July 27 to August 2, 2016
Flash, Bang, Wallop! I N our modern world, communication and technology have become vital and essential, something which has become an integral part of our lives. Attempting to successfully embrace this, I have a laptop, an iPad and an iPhone—and I must admit that I derive a great deal of pleasure from all three. Yet the other day I had a shock when my phone rang. I had installed profile photos to my contacts so that I had a “visual” when one of those contacts called me. On this particular occasion, I was horrified to see a grotesque parody of my younger daughter appear on the screen. But the reason for this was quite simple. My younger son, the joker of the family, had “photo-boothed” the picture of my daughter, effectively changing and distorting her features! Of course, I had no idea whatsoever that he’d done this… In fact, due to today’s modern technology, it seems that many of us have become photographers, using digital cameras and mobile phones along with selfie-sticks. I have often pondered about how wonderful it would have been if there had been cameras
Point of Faith
at the time Jesus lived among us! Can you imagine some of the wonderful images the disciples could have captured of our Lord? On August 6 the Church celebrates the great feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. We are told that while his countenance was transfigured, Moses and Elijah appeared in his company, causing Peter to enthusiastically suggest making tents for all three of them. I have no difficulty in imagining that if Peter had a camera at that time, he would have been snapping this amazing scene for all it was worth! Today we are free to enjoy technology and photography to our heart’s content. But in relation to the Lord, we have no need of a computer, digital camera or mobile phone. And the reason for this is simple. If our enthusiasm is as great as Peter’s, we have no need of a “visual” of the Lord. Why? Because we have the great gift of faith; and with the eyes of faith we know that the Lord is al-
Liturgical Calendar Year C – Weekdays Cycle Year 2 Sunday July 31 Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23, Psalms 90:3-6, 12-14, 17, Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11, Luke 12:13-21 Monday August 1, St Alphonsus Liguori Jeremiah 28:1-17, Psalms 119:29, 43, 79-80, 95, 102, Matthew 14:13-21 Tuesday August 2, Ss Eusebius of Vercelli and Peter Julian Eymard Jeremiah 30, 1-2.12-15.18-22, Psalms 102, 1621.29.22-23, Matthew 14, 22-36 Wednesday August 3 Jeremiah 31:1-7, Jeremiah 31:10-13, Matthew 15:21-28 Thursday August 4, St John Vianney Jeremiah 31:31-34, Psalms 51:12-15, 18-19, Matthew 16:13-23 Friday August 5, Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major Nahum 2:1,3; 3:1-3, 6-7,Deuteronomy 32:35-36, 39, 41, Matthew 16:24-28 Saturday August 6, Transfiguration of the Lord Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Psalms 97:1-2, 5-6, 9, Luke 9:28-36 Sunday August 7 Wisdom 18:6-9, Psalms 33:1, 12, 18-22, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 12:32-48
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The Transfiguration by Raphael ways beside us… So let us see our faith through the lens of joy and know that due to his great love and grace our picture of the Lord can never be distorted. It is pure gift—strong, true and loving, like God himself. 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.
Word of the Week
Extreme unction: A sacrament given to a person who is ill or in danger of dying. It is intended to strengthen the person’s soul and help their love be pure so they may enter into heaven. It is done through prayer and the anointing of oil. This is also known as Anointing of the Sick or the Sacrament of the Sick.
Our bishops’ anniversaries This week we congratulate: August 3: Bishop Zolile Peter Mpambani of Kokstad on the 3rd anniversary of his episcopal ordination August 6: Bishop Pius Mlungisi Dlungwane of Mariannhill, on the 16th anniversary of his episcopal ordination as auxilliary bishop of Mariannhill.
is a constant reminder to us Lovingly remembered and always in our thoughts. Fondly missed by your daughter, Gloria, son-in-law, Ruben and grandchildren, Randall, Grant, nadine and Robert.
CINAPEN—In loving memory of the late Mark Cinapen. April 28, 1968 –July 29, 2014. Heaven the treasury of everlasting joy. Forever in our hearts. Always loving always loved. Until we meet again. Sadly missed by his Daughters Aneesa, nazeera, mum Catherine Brother Monty, Sisters Martha, Claire, nieces and nephew. DICKESON—John. Jan 29, 1934 - Jul 30, 2010. Gone but not forgotten by your wife Maureen, Patricia, Deirdre ,Camilla, Ciara, Mickayla. DICKESON—Ciaran. Apr 12, 1965 - Aug 1, 1992. Still missed. Mom, Patricia, Deirdre, Camilla, Ciara and Mickayla. DU PlESSIS—Dion 31 May 1975 to 27 July 2007. A Thousand Ages In Thy Sight Are Like The Evening Gone Short As the Watch That Ends The night Before The Rising Sun Forever loved and sorely missed. Paige, Mom, Dad, neil and Charlotte. O’DONOGHUE—Brendan. Passed away July 30, 2013. Always in our thoughts and prayers. MHDSRIP. norma, children and grandchildren. PARIS—In loving memory of Mary Louisa Paris who passed away on 3rd August 2004. Your love for the faith
ST JUDE, holy Apostle, faithful servant, friend of Jesus, you are honoured and petitioned by the universal Church, as patron of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases. I thank you for listening to my prayers and granting your intercession. In this broken world we have many trials, difficulties, and temptations, thank you for prayers asked and answered for me in God’s presence. St. Jude, implore God that my prayers continued to be answered in His way that is best for me and my family. May God give me the grace to see His purpose in all things. Amen. (Petesan)
GRATEFUl thanks to St Jude for prayers and petitions answered. I thank you for everything. MB.
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Southern CrossWord solutions SOLUTIONS TO 717. ACROSS: 1 Term, 3 Apostasy, 9 Booklet, 10 Natal, 11 Resting place, 13 Andrew, 15 Chosen, 17 Parsimonious, 20 Dagga, 21 Unended, 22 Lets sing, 23 Bred. DOWN: 1 Tiberias, 2 Roots, 4 Potage, 5 Single-handed, 6 Attacks, 7 Yule, 8 Albigensians, 12 One-sided, 14 Draught, 16 Impugn, 18 Order, 19 Idol.
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19th Sunday: August 7 Readings: Wisdom 18:6-9, Psalm 33: 1, 12, 18-20, 22, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19, Luke 12:32-48
E need the grace to see what God is up to, and to want what God wants. That is the message of next Sunday’s
readings. The first reading, written for Jews in Egypt, to encourage them that God is on their side in a hostile culture, reflects on the night of the Exodus, when “our ancestors rejoiced, secure and certain about the oaths in which they had put their promise, and your people expected salvation for the just and destruction of their enemies”. God was always on their side, even when things seemed at their worst. That is the tone of the psalm for next Sunday: “Rejoice, you who are just, in the Lord”, and “Happy the people whose God is the Lord, the people he has chosen as his heritage”, and a reminder that “the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, who hope in his steadfast love, to deliver their lives from death”. The key thing is to hope in God. In the second reading, we have the first of several weeks looking at the last part of the difficult but rewarding Letter to the Hebrews.
S outher n C ross
Burden from on high is our gift Here our unknown author is emphasising the certainty of the hope that sustains us, “the proof of things that we cannot see”. The word he uses for it is “faith”, and he offers examples of people who had faith, such as Abraham, who “was expecting the city with foundations, whose artisan and creator is God”. And Sarah, Abraham’s wife, is likewise offered as an example for this faith; and the author comments that “people who speak like this make it clear that they are looking for a homeland…reaching out for a better one, the heavenly one”. Abraham even trusted God when he was tested and asked to sacrifice Isaac, “his only son”. And how was he able to do this? Because “he reckoned that God was able to raise up even from the dead”. This is the God that we are dealing with, in both Old and New Testaments. In the Gospel, there is encouragement simply to trust in what God is offering, “because your Father’s good pleasure is to give you the kingdom”.
If that is the case, then we do not have to spend too much time worrying about our possessions: “Sell your possessions, and give alms.” The point is—and this matters for Luke’s audience, who seem to have been quite well-to-do—that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be”. The test for us is that we should “be like people waiting for their Lord, when he comes back from the wedding, to open to him when he comes and knocks”. So the exhortation here is to stay awake— “Congratulations to those slaves whom the Lord finds awake when he comes”—and a very improbable outcome is predicted: “Amen I am telling you, he will gird himself and make them lie down, and he will come and serve them.” The point to remember is that “at the hour when you are not expecting, the Son of Man is coming”. At that point, Peter, as so often, intervenes, as a kind of mouthpiece for the rest: “Lord—are you telling this parable just for us, or for everybody?”
Does God get angry at you? T
Conrad Election Special
HERE’S a haunting text in the Book of Revelation where poetic image, for all its beauty, can be dangerously misleading. The author there writes: “So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and cut the earth’s vintage. He threw it into the great winepress of God’s fury.” A fierce angel cleansing the world! God in a boiling anger! What’s to be understood by that? Like so many other things in scripture, this is to be taken seriously, but not literally. Clearly the text, as other texts in scripture which speak of God’s jealousy, anger and vengeance, has something important to teach, but, like those other texts which have God jealous and angry, it can be dangerously misunderstood. What it doesn’t teach is that God gets angry, that God is sometimes furious with us, and that God wreaks havoc on the planet because of sin. What it does teach is that the chickens always come home to roost, that our actions have consequences, that sin wreaks havoc on the planet and on our own souls, driving us to anger, self-hatred, and lack of self-forgiveness, and that this feels as if God is angry and punishing us. God doesn’t get angry, pure and simple. God is not a creature, another existent among others, a being like us. God’s ways are not our ways. This has been affirmed from Isaiah through 2 000 years of Christian tradition.
Fr Ron Rolheiser OMI
We cannot project our way of being, thinking and loving unto God. And nowhere is this truer than when we imagine God as getting angry. Mercy, love and forgiveness are not attributes of God the way they are for us. They constitute God’s nature. God doesn’t get angry like we do. Scripture and Christian tradition do, of course, speak of God as getting “angry”, but that, as Christian theology clearly teaches, is anthropomorphism—a projection of human thought and feeling into God. In saying things such as “God is angry with us” or “God is punishing us for our sins”, we are not, in essence, saying how God feels about us but rather how we, at that moment, feel about God and how we feel about ourselves and our own actions. For example, when St Paul tells us that when we sin, we feel “the wrath of God” he is not telling us that God gets angry with us when we sin. Rather we get angry at ourselves when we sin. The concept of God’s wrath is a metaphor, illustrated, for example, by a
hangover: If someone is immoderate in his or her use of alcohol, God doesn’t get displeased and give that person a headache. The wrath issues from the act itself: Excessive alcohol dehydrates the brain, causing a headache. The pain is not from God, though it feels like divine punishment, like God’s fury at our irresponsibility. But this is a projection on our part—anthropomorphism. We flatter ourselves, and do God no favours, when we say that we offend God and that God gets angry with us. God is not just the ground of our being, our Creator, the Unmoved Mover. God is too a person who loves us individually and passionately, and so it is natural to imagine that God sometimes gets angry, natural to project our own limits unto God. But God’s love and mercy infinitely dwarfs our own thoughts and feelings and limited capacities to actualise love in our lives. Imagine, for example, a loving grandparent picking up his or her newborn grandchild: Is there anything which that newborn can do to offend that grandparent? God’s maturity, understanding and love infinitely dwarf that of any grandparent. How is God to be offended? Yet, still, isn’t the language of God’s anger a vital part of our tradition, our scriptures, our prayers, our psalms, and our liturgy? They all speak of us as offending God and as God getting angry. Are these simply to be written off? No. They teach an important truth, even as they must be called for what they are: anthropomorphisms. They are meant to challenge the soul the way indigestion challenges the body. God doesn’t punish us for eating the wrong things or for overeating. Our own biology does and, in doing so, it sends us a nasty signal that we’ve been doing something wrong. Metaphorically speaking, indigestion comes at you like a vengeful angel and throws you into the great winepress of biological fury. God doesn’t hate us when we do something wrong, but we hate ourselves; God doesn’t wreak vengeance on us when we sin, but we beat ourselves up whenever we do; and God never withholds forgiveness from us, no matter what we’ve done, but we find it very difficult to forgive ourselves for our own transgressions. There is indeed an angelic razor and a winepress of God’s fury, but those are names for the experience of discontent and self-hatred inside of us whenever we are unfaithful. They have nothing to do with God’s nature.
Pregnant? Need Help?
Nicholas King SJ
It is not clear how enlightened he might have been by Jesus’ response: “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom the Lord will appoint over his servants, to give them their measure of grain at the right time?” Once again the essential thing is to be doing what we are supposed to be doing: “Congratulations to that slave whom when the Lord comes he will find acting in this way”, even if this is followed up by a most implausible suggestion: “Truly I’m telling you: he will put you over all his possessions”, and a rather more likely idea for the fate of any slave who fails to do what is expected, but instead “begins to beat the slaves and slave-girls and to eat and drink and get drunk…he will cut him in two!” The point of all this is simply this: what God wants of us is serious, because it is that which will lead to our greatest happiness. It is not to be regarded as a terrible imposition, but as a gift and a privilege from on high.
Southern Crossword #717
1. Name the fixed period at school (4) 3. Say a stop can be made to leaving the faith (8) 9. Little religious tract (7) 10. Place of birth in old Province (5) 11. Grave situation? (7,5) 13. Warden may become a saint (6) 15. Picked out (6) 17. Roman soup is, I find out, stingy (12) 20. Local cannabis (5) 21. Having come to no conclusion (7) 22. Permits the choir to perform (4,4) 23. Well brought up (4) Solutions on page 11
1. Place from which the other boats came (Jn 6) (8) 2. They are carrots and turnips (5) 4. Got pea soup blended (6) 5. How you play cards all by yourself (6-6) 6. Assaults (7) 7. The tide carrying the Christmas spirit (4) 8. A blessing in a broken lot of heretics (12) 12. Snide ode is unbalanced (3-5) 14. Did Pentecost’s mighty wind cause a cold breeze? (7) 16. Little demon turns gun around to disagree (6) 18. In which there is a tidy nun (5) 19. Some candid old image of a false god (4)
HE Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five- and sixyear-olds. After explaining the commandment to “honour your father and your mother”, she asked: “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” Without missing a beat, one little boy answered: “You shall not kill...”
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