May 13, 2002
Presidential elections in March reconfirmed Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, as leader of Zimbabwe. According to Fidelis Mukonori SJ, the new provincial of Zimbabwe, "the strong electoral mandate for two political parties indicates the need to work together for the good of the nation. Political maturity requires political compromise, which is a sign of strength, not of weakness."
Balanced information about Zimbabwe's situation is totally missing from the media, he says. Violence during the electoral campaign by both parties is diminishing.
"Legitimacy is important, but so is confidence building," says Fr Mukonori. The president, not recognized by many Western countries, is under strong diplomatic pressure to set up a broad-based government of national unity.
Having appealed to young people to eschew violence and resist political manipulation during the electoral campaign, the Jesuits are inviting everyone to adopt a mature outlook in a spirit of reconciliation. Silveira House, established by the Jesuits in 1964 as an NGO center for development, aims to empower people through leadership courses, civic training, peace building, and conflict resolution. [Source: Headlines]
Fr Jacques Dupuis SJ, a Belgian theologian and leading figure in interreligious dialogue who was based in India for much of his career, said the events of September 11 make the development of understanding among religions "even more pressing" than in the past.
Religion should be a factor for peace, but it can be used to foster conflict and war, he said during an April lecture at St Joseph's Church in New York's Greenwich Village.
Fr Dupuis, quoting Swiss theologian Fr Hans Kung, said there can be no peace among nations without peace among religions. But he added to that expression, saying there could be no peace among religions without dialogue.
He urged religious groups to continue to examine their theological language, noting that language that expresses an exclusive attitude prevents the deepening of mutual understanding.
The priest said the goal of interreligious dialogue is not the conversion of adherents of one religion to another religion but the "conversion of each of the partners to God," which requires that participants maintain both the integrity of their own faith and an openness to the faith of others. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Americans must lead efforts to understand others in the world, speakers said at a symposium during Atlas Week at Saint Louis University on the implications of the terrorist attacks of September 11. Atlas Week is designed as a way to recognize the university's global dimension.
Fr John Padberg SJ, director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources, said that individually and collectively Americans must reach out to others. Catholics in particular have that duty since their church "is universal too in outreach and concern," he said.
Fr Padberg noted that the Society of Jesus has had an international dimension since its start. Today, he said, there are 20,000 Jesuits working in some 100 countries, often "where no international company will go."
Fr Francis Clooney SJ, a Boston College theology professor, said that people can learn from cultural differences. World peace is not going to be achieved quickly, he added. "We must be prepared to give our life for this. We have to look around us in the world and begin to say, 'Here are the things I'm going to do to make the world a better place.'"
Fr Lawrence Biondi SJ, president of Saint Louis University, said that since September 11 Americans have "begun to understand just how small our world is and that we are part of a larger community that can accept us or attack us for what we believe." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
"Labone has experienced some rough security problems of late causing the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to evacuate its staff. At the moment, though, calm has been restored and there is no real fighting. The Lord's Resistance Army is in the mountains behind Labone and for the moment is not coming down to attack us. CRS is back on the scene and have beefed up security around their compound. We are benefiting from this because we are neighboring them," reports Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Labone, a remote part of Southern Sudan, near the Sudan-Uganda border.
Currently, although there is no military activity in Labone, the Uganda People's Defense Force often pass through the area. JRS first established its presence in Labone in December 2000, responding to a request by UNICEF to support education in the area. Currently, JRS supports four primary schools there with a total of 3,200 pupils.
Recently JRS helped set up the first secondary school in the area with 120 students. The schools are initiatives of the local populations, mainly built from locally available material. JRS assists by buying books and chalkboards and recruiting and training some of the teachers. JRS is trying to get ten nursery schools up and running and then adult literacy courses. At the moment there is a staff of four JRS personnel and three local workers. [Source: JRS Dispatches]
Pope John Paul II cleared the way for the canonization of four new saints, including a Jesuit.
The miracles attributed to the intercession of the Jesuit priest and three nuns already beatified clear the way for the Vatican to schedule the dates for their canonizations. The four are:
[Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Illegal peoples' courts are likely to dish out rough justice in post-independence East Timor, unless the legal system is built into a more effective instrument of justice, according to Fr Edi Mulyono, of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
Fr Edi Mulyono said the much-vaunted repatriation of refugees from West Timor has not yet properly fulfilled its key aim of reconciliation. He said in some areas of East Timor, returning refugees who opposed independence now outnumbered those who stayed behind after the 1999 referendum.
He said reconciliation would be hard to achieve in the long term unless there is some form of justice, although he hoped those convicted would get reduced sentences as a goodwill gesture.
JRS has been involved with aid work in West Timor's refugee camps. It was instrumental in setting up some of the local-level meetings which led to repatriation of several people in recent months. Former guerilla chief Xanana Gusmao, now East Timor's president-elect, has been personally involved in those meetings.
Mr Gusmao has repeatedly stressed the need for forgiveness if East Timor is to avoid repeating the violence of its past. He has called for amnesties, but after some form of justice. [Source: JRS]
A prospective ABC-TV drama 'The Calling' has a pious plot about a seminarian engaged in a personal search for God, but a twist likely to trouble the bishops: the church is extraneous and even a hurdle in the spiritual quest.
Meanwhile over at CBS, Sylvester Stallone has developed a pilot called Father Lefty, about a handsome, unconventional Miami priest who ministers to street kids. Father Lefty is likely to address pedophilia if the show goes ahead. "We can't just ignore it," said executive producer Cynthia Cidre. [Source: New York Times]
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship has appointed Sydney's Archbishop George Pell as chairman of its new 12-member committee for "reviewing translations of liturgical books into English."
The congregation said the committee, which held its inaugural meeting last week at the Vatican, included bishops from nine different countries in order to reflect "the breadth and the diversity of the cultures in which the English language is spoken." The committee has been given a Latin name -- Vox Clara.
As Vox Clara began its initial meeting, Pope John Paul II said the committee would help the Vatican's liturgy office "in assuring that the texts of the Roman rite are accurately translated in accordance with the norms of the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam". That document, issued last year, set new, more literal, criteria for translating liturgical books from Latin into national languages. Many liturgists claim the instruction was spearheaded by traditionalists who opposed the translations prepared since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). Opponents of ICEL have protested against the group's use of inclusive language.
Archbishop Pell challenged the use of inclusive language in the first English translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He and other influential prelates urged the Vatican to reject the original English text that was prepared under the supervision of Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston, who had endorsed the use of inclusive language. As a result of the protests the English version of the catechism was delayed by nearly two years and was finally published in 1994. [Source: The Tablet]
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