Quilon, India, Sep 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Masked vandals attacked and desecrated a Catholic church in the Indian state of Kerala on September 4, according to a local bishop who has encouraged the faithful not to retaliate.
"We will act according to the law,” Bishop Stanley Roman of Quilon told Fides news agency. “We have reported the incident to the police, we are confident in the work of the police and hope that they can identify the culprits and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, Bishop Roman has urged parishioners of South Kerala's Church of Our Lady of Vailankanni “not to react, to endure violence and persecution with patience.”
Around 20 men broke into the church on Sunday evening and destroyed its altar, vestments, and confessionals. Local Catholics arrived but did not manage to stop the attackers, who forced the Catholics from the church and escaped.
The Bishop of Quilon, who visited the church after its desecration, said Christians in Kerala are “exposed to the growth of different religious extremism,” from both Hindu and Muslim groups.
“In the area there is a very lively and large Catholic community,” Bishop Roman said. “This is why we plan to build a larger church. Perhaps this project has alarmed the Hindu extremist groups that already, indirectly, seek to intimidate us.”
“We have had, in recent years, a growth of these Hindu extremist groups in Kerala and we begin to suffer the consequences. But it is also true that, consequently, small Islamic groups are proliferating. And all this could endanger (the) social peace and religious identity that has always characterized Kerala.”
Kerala is demographically unique among Indian states, with Christians – who represent less than 2.5 percent of India's overall population – making up more than 20 percent of its local population. Muslims account for another quarter of the people, while the remaining majority are Hindus.
Bishop Roman says the churches in Kerala “will continue our pastoral work, (spreading) the message of Christ through the joyful witness of the Gospel and serving others.”
India's small Catholic minority already plays a disproportionately large role in providing education, health care, and welfare services to the country of 1.18 billion people. This work has provoked animosity from some Hindu extremists who oppose Christian missionary efforts.
Mumbai's Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who visited Pope Benedict XVI with a delegation of Indian bishops on September 2, told Vatican Radio that he “would not be honest if I did not say that there is violence in parts of the country even today,” though he said the situation had improved in recent times.
Denver, Colo., Sep 6, 2011 (CNA) - Brian Caulfield, a CNA columnist and editor of the Fathers for Good website, has recalled his experience on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
In his column, Caulfield writes:
As a husband and a father, 9/11 is personal for me.
I grew up in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the World Trade Center. As a boy in the early 1970s, I watched the Twin Towers rise floor by floor, and took a certain pride in living near the two tallest buildings in the world at the time.
When terrorists flew planes into those buildings, it hit me in the gut and put my family at risk.
My wife and one-year-old son were in our apartment, six blocks from the towers, when the earth shook with the first explosion. I was at my desk at work that morning, having passed the Twin Towers on my way to the subway a few hours earlier. I remember making special note as the colors of dawn shone brilliantly on their steel-and-glass façade, against a flawless, clear sky.
It was the last time I would see the towers standing.
Caulfield's column can be read at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1760
Santiago, Chile, Sep 6, 2011 (CNA) - The president of the Chilean Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Ricardo Ezzati, encouraged Chileans to follow the example of service offered by the victims of a Sept. 2 plan crash. The group was traveling to the Juan Fernandez islands to help victims of the earthquake that struck Chile last year.
“Unbeknownst to some and plainly clear to others, they followed the path of Jesus, who came to give his life and said there is more joy in giving than in receiving,” Bishop Ezzati said during a Sept. 4 Mass.
The Chilean air force jet carrying 21 passengers crashed Sept. 2 after making two attempts to land in heavy winds on Robinson Crusoe Island in the Juan Fernandez archipelago.
Among those killed was Felipe Camiroaga, a popular television host in Chile, and Felipe Cubillos, a spokesman for a major relief organization that is helping the country rebuild from the earthquake and tsunami of February 2010.
May the example of these men and women, “who desired to work for a more beautiful, just and fraternal Chile, help us all to see that we can all contribute to building a beautiful and great country,” he said.
Their sacrifice “reminds us that the well-being of the country, the development of all is also the fruit of the commitment of all, of our making our lives a gift so that there can be more life, more peace and more solidarity,” the bishop said.
He offered his sympathy to the family members of the victims and invited the entire country “to turn toward heaven and see how the fatherly hand of God is upon our country, to caress us with his love, with his fatherly love, his love that brings consolation.”
Pope Benedict offered his condolences to Archbishop Ezzati, offering prayers for the deceased.
Vatican City, Sep 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A WikiLeaks release of leaked State Department cables has drawn criticism for exposing sensitive diplomatic information. However, the massive release did not reveal confidential Vatican phone numbers but contained information already available in the city state’s public directory.
A December 27, 2004 unclassified cable from the U.S. Embassy at the Vatican contained contact information for figures in the Vatican government. It included numbers for the papal office and residence and for the residence of then-Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The number for the papal office reaches the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, the office which maintains the Apostolic Palace and organizes events such as the general audiences. The phone number listed for the papal residence is in fact a direct line only to the Vatican’s telephone operators, who are religious sisters.
The 2004 phone number for Cardinal Sodano’s residence is still the same and a call to it reaches his secretary. He resigned as Secretariat of State in 2006 and is now Dean of the Colleges of Cardinals.
The BBC noted the release of the telephone numbers of “key figures at the Vatican” in a Sept. 2 report on worries the WikiLeaks cables could put sources at risk. However, the Vatican’s telephone directory lists the phone numbers of the same offices and residences. The directory can be purchased in a bookstore near St. Peter’s Square.
The State Department cable also listed the residences of then-Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo and then-Substitute for General Affairs Archbishop Leonardo Sandri.
Their home numbers have since changed. Calls made to their offices listed in the WikiLeaks cable go directly to a receptionist at the Secretariat of State.
WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange decided to release over 250,000 State Department cables in unredacted form on Aug. 30 after a journalist for the British newspaper The Guardian—a WikiLeaks media partner—published the password to the cables in his book. Previously, the watchdog organization and its major media partners had been redacting names of sensitive U.S. personnel and contacts.
According to The Guardian, the archive contained several thousand files marked “strictly protect”—an indication that U.S. officials thought sources could be endangered if the information was public.
Some files also name victims of sex offenses, victims of government persecution and the locations of sensitive government installations.
The Guardian, El Pais, New York Times and Der Spiegel in a joint statement said they “deplore” the decision to publish the unredacted cables.
"We cannot defend the needless publication of the complete data - indeed, we are united in condemning it,” the WikiLeaks partners said.
A December 2010 CNA analysis of preliminary cable data found that more than 800 involved the Vatican. Many of the cables concerned human rights and religious freedom issues, while more than 50 involved intelligence issues and another five involved national security concerns.
WikiLeaks has since released other diplomatic cables about the Catholic Church in countries like Cuba, Vietnam and Venezuela.