India's radical Hindus' threat to Christians
With the election of Narendra Modi of the Hindu "Bharatiya Janata Party" (BJP) as prime minister of India the country's secular constitution has come under threat, according to Father Ajay Kumar Singh, a human rights activist in Kandhamal District in the East Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa).
He warned of the growing influence of radical Hindu forces on the Indian subcontinent: "Especially under threat is the Christian minority because it is rejected by extremists as alien and because the Christian message is threat to the caste system."
According to Father Kumar Singh, who is associated with the "Odisha Forum for Social Action", the BJP aims to establish a state religion which excludes the lower castes and all minorities.
"They even want to impose only one language, Sanskrit, even though hundreds of languages are spoken in India." He added that the strength of the BJP and the movement it represents has become the strongest political force in India, taking many observers, including Church leaders and their flocks, by surprise.
"It is important for us to understand what is happening. As a Church we must think way beyond the bounds of the individual dioceses; we must act regionally and nationally in order to find responses to this challenge."
Since May 2014, there have been more than 600 attacks on Christians and other religious minorities, according to Jesuits in Social Action (JESA).
"The first 100 days of the new government [of Prime Minister Narendra Modi] have seen a crescendo of hate speeches against Muslims and Christians. Their identity is mocked, their citizenship questioned, their faith ridiculed."
Aid to the Church in Need
Cardinal Dolan: reaffirm marriage teaching
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, a participant in the Synod of Bishops, said in an interview that "we want to be as clear and as compelling as possible in reaffirming the Church's timeless teaching on marriage and family, without scaring people off, and without seeming to marginalise."
"So how can we, with those unable to live up to the Church's lofty, noble teaching on the marriage and the family ... How can we continue to affirm what God has taught and told us about marriage, without marginalising them? How can we do that in a way that would still invite them to reconsider what God has taught us? ...
"I think we take our cues from the Holy Father, from Pope Francis, who says, 'Look, what you are saying is that you are a sinner. Well, if you are a sinner, nice to meet you, because so am I. And why don't you come and join another group, a big group of sinners who are trying their best?' For conversion of heart, depending on God's grace and mercy, and slowly, gradually, trying to conform our lives to what Jesus and the Church have taught. It's an ongoing process, isn't it? None of us is completely there. We might make progress in one area, then we fall back. That's why we have the Sacrament of Penance, isn't it?'"
Zenit News Agency
African families face different problems
African prelates speaking at the Synod of Bishops reminded their colleagues that their primary concerns about pastoral care for families do not match those of bishops in affluent Western countries.
The Catholic faith is spreading rapidly in Africa and the faithful believe that after generations of learning from European missionaries, their communities now have something to teach the West. Some prelates have voiced their exasperation at Western attempts to change traditional African moral standards. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria, complained:
"We get international organisations, countries, and groups that entice us to deviate from our cultural practices and traditions and even our religious beliefs because they think that their views should be ours, their opinions and their concept of life, should be ours."
At the same time, African bishops face severe challenges in coping with the influence of pagan cultures and the deleterious effects of poverty on family life.
Catholic World News