Archive of March 8, 2014

Catechesis in Mongolia educates laity for evangelization

Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Mar 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new catechesis program of the Church in Mongolia is promoting holistic formation of the human person as part of the evangelization of the central Asian nation.

“The course … is meant to form catechists with a working knowledge of the Scriptures, as well as the Church and its mission,” Fr. Giorgio Marengo of the Consolata Missionaries, told CNA March 5.

The Prefecture Apostolic of Ulaanbaatar, which serves the entire country, has recently established a two-year long course in catechetical formation, giving a fundamental formation in theology and the life of the Church.

The formation program began in September; Fr. Marengo said it began with Christ’s life and the significance of the Paschal mystery, and is currently discussing the sacraments.

More than 30 future catechesists, most of whom are in their 20s, are participating in the monthly program of formation, and they will become certified catechists in the prefecture once they have completed their formation.

Catechists play an important role in the evangelical mission of the Church, particularly in mission areas such as those served by prefectures.

Nearly 40 percent of Mongolians are non-religious; a little over half the population is Buddhist; and Christianity, Islam, and shamanism have mere footholds among the people.

The nation of 2.9 million has some 1,200 Catholics, 870 of whom are native Mongolians.

Mongolia’s prefecture apostolic had five diocesan priests in 2010; it is also served by 12 religious congregations and fidei donum priests – those of other dioceses who are on loan to the prefecture; in total, there are more than 50 missionaries serving in the country.

Among the religious congregations is Fr. Marengo’s Consolata Missionaries. They have been in Mongolia for 10 years, serving in the capital Ulan Bator and in Arvaikheeer, on the edge of the Gobi desert.

The first modern mission to Mongolia was in 1922 and was entrusted to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But under a communist government, religious expression was soon thereafter suppressed, until 1992.

In 2002, the Ulaanbaatar mission was elevated to the present prefecture apostolic. The mission's superior, Fr. Wenceslao Padilla, a priest of the Immaculate Heart congregation, was appointed prefect, and was consecrated a bishop the following year.

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Malaysian ministry bans use of term 'Allah' by non-Muslims

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Home Ministry of Malaysia has banned the use of the word “Allah” in a children’s comic book, continuing disputes over non-Muslims’ ability to use the word.

An issue of the children’s comic book Ultraman referring to the super hero as “respected as Allah or elder” by other heroes, contains  “elements that may threaten public order,” the Malaysian Home Ministry said in a March 7 statement.

“If the matter isn’t curbed, it could damage Muslim’s children faith by equating Allah with Ultraman,” the Home Ministry continued.

The government stated that the series itself is not banned, but the Malay-language issue that uses the world was prohibited, with a maximum jail sentence of three years for anyone caught distributing the book.

The ban comes amid a continuing dispute in the Malaysian legal system over non-Muslim’s right to use “Allah” to refer to God. “Allah” is the Malay language equivalent of the English word “god,” and is a loanword from Arabic. Malay is the official language of the country, and Malaysians of all religions use the word; not just Muslims.

The term “Allah” is used around the world by Arab Christians, and has been included in the Malaysian version of the Bible for 400 years.

Muslims comprise about 60 percent of the Malaysian 30-million-person population, while Christians comprise slightly under 10 percent of the population. While the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of religion, Islam is the established religion.

In October 2013, a Malaysian Court ruled against a Catholic newspaper for using “Allah” to refer to God, saying that the term belonged specifically to Muslims, and use by Christians may tempt some Muslims to convert to Christianity.

The court's verdict “violates the right to religious freedom and freedom of expression enshrined in the (Malaysian) constitution,” said Fr. Lawrence Andrew, editor of The Herald, the newspaper which the suit regarded.

“It is a retrograde step in the development of law in relation to the fundamental liberty of religious minorities,” he added.

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Pope chooses global leadership for Vatican economic office

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope has announced the names of eight cardinals and seven lay experts from around the world chosen to serve in the newly-created Vatican Council for the Economy.

“The members appointed to the Council are from various geographical areas, reflecting, as requested by the motu proprio Fidelis dispensator et prudens, the universality of the Church,” explained Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J, director of Holy See’s Press office, in a statement released on March 8.

The Council for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell, was created by Pope Francis Feb. 24 in order to provide oversight, evaluation, and advice on Vatican economic affairs: its membership includes representation from Europe, Asia, and North and South America in addition to Australia.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany, has been chosen as the Coordinator of the Council for the Economy. Along with Cardinal Pell, he also serves on the council of eight cardinals set up by Pope Francis in 2013 to offer consideration and advice on the governing structures of the Church and possible reforms of the curia.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who has served as the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston since 2006, was the only American to be appointed to the Council.

He is joined by joined by Cardinals Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban, South Africa; Rivera Carrera of Mexico City, Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima; Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux; John Tong Hon of Hong Kong; and Agostino Vallini of Rome.

Today's press release explained, “Cardinals Cipriani Thorne, Napier, Rivera Carrera, Hong Ton, and Vallini, along with Cardinal Pell, new Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, were previously all members of the Council for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See (Council of 15), which has ceased to exist.”

The council’s lay membership includes experts in financial matters from various parts of the globe, including Europe, Canada, and Singapore.

Fr. Lombardi described the new council’s constitution as “ a key step towards the consolidation of the current management structures of the Holy See, with the aim of improving coordination and oversight of economic and administrative matters.”

The first meeting for the council is scheduled for May, although prepatory work will begin immediately.The Pope has announced the names of eight cardinals and seven lay experts from around the world chosen to serve in the newly-created Vatican Council for the Economy.

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Religious urged by Pope Francis to avoid 'theoretical poverty'

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Saturday sent a message to participants in an international symposium on the religious life, encouraging them to live their vows in an authentic manner.

“What is not helpful is a theoretical poverty, but the poverty that is learnt by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, in the poor, in the sick, in children,” he said.

The pontiff gave his remarks to the March 8 gathering entitled “The Management of Church Goods of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and of the Societies of Apostolic Life at the Service of Humanity and the Mission of the Church.” The two-day symposium held at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University considered how orders and other religious institutes could use their properties for the greater good.

“This poverty is loving solidarity, sharing and charity, and is expressed in sobriety, in the pursuit of justice and joy of the essential, in order to guard yourselves against material idols that obscure the true meaning of life,” the Pope reflected in his comments.

Those in religious life “are always a prophetic voice and vivid testimony to the innovation that is Christ, conforming to him, who became poor, enriching us with his poverty,” he said.

“Be again today, for the Church and for the world, the outposts of attention to all the poor and to all those in misery, material, moral, and spiritual, as (those) overcoming all selfishness in the logic of the gospel that teaches us to trust in the providence of God.”

Pope Francis described modern culture as “characterized by significant changes and progress in many areas” and yet many times still having “an economy of exclusion.”

“In the face of uncertainty in which the majority of men women live, as well as in the face of the spiritual and moral frailty of so many people, especially young people, as a Christian community we feel challenged,” he acknowledged.

Yet those in religious life should be active witnesses of the “logic of the gift,” having given their lives entirely to Christ and the Church.

“It is necessary to be vigilant in ensuring that the goods of Institutes are administered with caution and transparency, that they are protected and preserved, combining the charismatic-spiritual dimension with the economic dimension of efficiency,” he noted.

Pope Francis then went on to quote Paul VI, who said, “We note with vigilant attention as in a period like our own, entirely absorbed in the conquest, in possession, in the enjoyment of economic goods, is felt in the public opinion inside and outside of the Church, a desire, almost a need, to see the poverty of the Gospel and there one wants to better recognize where the Gospel is preached, is represented.”

The Pope closed his message by expressing his gratitude to those who had established the symposium and his hope “that it will bear fruit.”

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