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Stewardship and Trusteesh
  By A.J. Philip  
  I ACCOMPANIED Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his visit to South Africa on the occasi  
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Letter to Metropolitan
  By Rev A.P. Jacob and five other priests  
  Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan Most Rev. Dr. Philipose Mar Chrysostom Mar  
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Back to infancy -- they n
  By Shaheen Chander  
  ENJOYING a relaxed weekend, I was checking updates on the Facebook page. I came across a b  
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No sex please, we are Asian
  By Michael Kelly  
  SOME years ago there was a very successful British comedy with the arresting title "No Sex Please We're British". The title was a play on the legendry shyness of the subject in 19th Century Victorian England. The reality of course was otherwise and that is the point of the title.

For many Asian families it is still taboo to discuss sex in public or even in private and many local Catholic Churches around the Continent have worked hard to introduce sex education courses with a Catholic perspective for young people to supplement the content of existing teaching materials.

When they do, they are well thought out and focus on teenagers' physiological and psychological changes as a starting point in developing a proper attitude to sex.

Discussing sex and its illegal exercise is rattling the Church worldwide. And Churches in Asia are not immune to this. Recent months have seen a spate of events of sexual abuse come to the surface across Asia, bringing on the exercise or hastening the development of sexual abuse protocols.

Bishops in India (whose protocol is nearing completion) and the Philippines (where an "in principle" protocol has been operating for some years) have gone some way to addressing the issues involved. But if international experience is anything to go by - and repeatedly it has been shown to be the case -- these tentative steps need to be bolstered.

In India, a Religious Brother has been jailed for sexual abuse of a minor. In the Philippines, a candidate for the priesthood from the United States was ordained despite a prior conviction for sexual abuse.

Philippine bishops approved "in principle" guidelines on how to deal with the sexual misconduct by priests in 2003.

The protocol deals with criminal and non-criminal matters, including sexual harassment, sexual abuse and exploitation, and misconduct with females or males.

In India, with 164 dioceses, the Indian Church's guidelines to protect children from abusive priests and Church workers are likely to be finalized" by the end of this month (April 2010) when senior officials of the bishops' conference meet with Religious.

Brother Mani Mekkunnel, national secretary of the Conference of Religious India (CRI), an association of the Religious Major Superiors, says the document has been in preparation for the past four years and was not prompted by the recent controversy over clerical sex abuse cases in India, Europe and the Americas.

The issue is a global one for the Church and the Vatican has been under extraordinary pressure in the last few months over it, with the Pope personally accused of being deceitful and obstructionist on the matter for up to three decades.

Last week, Paul Mees, a Melbourne barrister and academic, wrote an arresting article in Crikey, the impious and irreverent daily email newsletter published on the net from Australia. Under the provocative title, "Here's a Crazy Idea: What if the Pope is innocent?" Mess is at his forensic best in addressing the question.

The article is a brave piece that deserves extensive circulation because in it he presumes the Pope's innocence until guilt is proven and he argues persuasively that there is no evidential basis for conviction of any deceit or attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Mees' interest is in the facts. He believes the current mess the Vatican finds itself in is lamentable and in need of remedy. But such organizational disarray and failure to be open and transparent in public communication is not a criminal offence.

Public Relations can be fixed. It will be a major step for the Vatican to seek the advice and professional services of a qualified lay resource -- a PR Company -- in this area, one that is not hand picked because it is already inside the Vatican culture but because its objectivity and professional competence are beyond doubt.

Even if such a PR turn around were effected, most people looking at the Vatican's spectacularly inept performance in recent months know the question goes deeper than image. It goes to the way the Vatican operates. The central question is, can the operations of the Vatican (a General Head Quarters that assumes central control of all things Catholic) which is however, uncoordinated, apparently obstructionist to those seeking the truth, slow to respond to the world's questions, slow to admit failure, slow to consult people who might be able to help them be fixed without major and substantial change?

It's certainly back to basics for the Vatican now. The Council whose 50th anniversary is in 2012 -- Vatican II -- had a strategic notion of how this sort of governance issue might be addressed: through what it called collegiality, a form of consultative and participatory governance and administration that is the antithesis of the opaque processes of the Vatican now.

However, since the idea was presented in the 1960s and ways on implementing it were suggested, it has been thwarted at GHQ. Power and initiative rest resolutely in Roman hands. And now not just theologians and Vatican commentators but the whole world see where that leaves governance in the Church: chaotic and besieged.(Ucanews)
Father Michael Kelly SJ is executive director of UCA News since January 1, 2009. He has worked in radio and TV production since 1982 and as a journalist in Australia and Asia for various publications, religious and secular.
Abide with me
  By P.P. Job  
  AT my son John's funeral, friends from the Indian military band played Henry F Lyte's song 'Abide With Me', when his casket was being lowered into the ground. Mahatma Gandhi used to sing this song daily before going to bed. His close friend Rev CF Andrews might have taught him the hymn. At our orphanage -- the Michael Job Centre -- the young girls sing this song everyday at 9 pm.

Although songwriter Lyte (1793-1847) battled tuberculosis all his life, he was known as a man strong in spirit and faith. It was this Anglican pastor who coined the famous line: "It is better to wear out than to rust out."

During the last years of his life, Lyte's health worsened and he decided to settle down in a warmer place in Italy. For his last sermon to his parishioners at Lower Brixham, England, on September 4, 1847, it is said that he was so sick that he had to crawl to the pulpit. However, his final words made a deep impact on the people, when he proclaimed, "It is my desire to induce you to prepare for the solemn hour, which must come to all, by a timely appreciation and dependence on the death of Christ."

Lyte's inspiration for writing 'Abide With Me' came shortly before his final sermon, while reading from the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 24, where Lord Jesus Christ appeared to two of his disciples during their seven-mile walk from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus on that first Easter evening. How the hearts of those discouraged disciples must have burned when they realized that they were in the company of the risen, eternal Son of God!

"But they constrained Him, saying, abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them." (Luke 24: 29)

Hymn writer Avis Christiansen once wrote, "Yes, life is like the Emmaus road, and we tread it not alone. For beside us walks the Son of God, to uphold and keep His own. And our hearts within us thrill with joy at His words of love and grace, and the glorious hope that when day is done, we shall see His blessed face."

Relive the thrill expressed by the two Emmaus disciples when their spiritual eyes were opened and they realized that they were in the presence of their risen Lord.

William H Monk (1823-1889) gave the tune and notes for this amazing song:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see --
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's pow'r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
The writer is a well-known evangelist
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