the Examiner Articles
Building the Future with our Migrant Brethren
Fr Glasten Gonsalves
St Teresa of Avila said, "Life is like a night spent in an uncomfortable inn." Indeed, we are all pilgrims on a spiritual journey. During this journey, we can either choose to move towards or away from each other. Today’s fast-moving world is characterised by advancements in technology, adventures in space, innovative inventions and extraordinary discoveries. However, this is just one side of the world; there is another side which we choose not to see or deliberately ignore. We are all caught up in a competition to succeed at any cost. In the midst of this reality, we forget that all of us are ultimately journeying together towards a common home. Therefore, we need to hit the brakes, introspect, and evaluate our journey. We forget that we are not in a race. We are all comrades on the same journey; and no one should be left behind.
An Inclusive Church is the echo of the synodal Church, wherein we are invited not to compete, but to complement. We are called to open our eyes to see and hear the cries of those who live on the periphery of society; in this case, our migrant brothers and sisters.
In India, we have an increase of inter-state migration. The 2011 Census enumerated 450 million internal migrants, based on place of last residence, or 37 per cent of the total population. The Economic Survey 2017 estimated that an average of 5-6 million Indians migrated annually between 2001 and 2011, leading to an inter-state migrant population of “about 60 million” and an inter-district migrant population “as high as 80 million” (Government of India 2017a).
Serving with Love for an Inclusive Church
People move constantly in today's globalised world. It could be internal - moving within a state, country or continent, or external migration - moving to a different state, country or continent. Migration erodes traditional boundaries between cultures, ethnic groups and languages, and adds to diversity, cultural and economic richness. It is also perceived by many as a challenge or even a threat, as the migrants often face various difficulties. Pope Francis has been very vocal and emphatic in creating awareness about the plight of migrants and refugees. His message for the 108th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (Sept. 25, 2022) is “Building the Future with Migrants and Refugees”. He states that the presence of migrants and refugees represents a great challenge, but at the same time, it is an immense opportunity for the cultural and spiritual growth of the hosts. The presence of Catholic migrants in our midst can energise the ecclesial life of the communities that welcome them. His four keywords are - Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate. He insists that we uphold the human rights and dignity of migrants and ensure social and economic justice.
The Archdiocese of Bombay, under the aegis of Cardinal Oswald Gracias, launched the Commission for Migrants on September 26, 2021. He appointed Fr Glasten Gonsalves the Secretary of the Commission. The sustainable approaches of the AMC are Humanitarian Assistance, Social Security, Spiritual Formation, Pastoral Involvement, Networking & Collaboration, and Capacity Building & Research with the hope that under the Commission, the Archdiocese will be able to attend more effectively to the migrants’ spiritual needs, give them greater visibility and acknowledgment in our churches, SCCs and educational institutions.
Two Saints and One Society
Dr Jeanette Pinto
Not many Christians would have heard of Saint Antoine-Frédéric Ozanam, but most have heard of Saint Vincent de Paul, and the Society connected with him. Two saints and one Society! Is there some connection between the two? Perhaps a peep into their lives will reveal more.
Frederic Ozanam was born in 1813, the fifth child of Jean and Marie Ozanam. Of the 14 children born to Frederic's parents, only three survived into adulthood. His older brother, Alphonse, became a priest and a younger brother, Charles, a doctor. A sister Elizabeth to whom he was devoted, died at the age of nineteen, when he was seven years old. His family was of Jewish origin settled in the region around Lyon, France for many centuries.
Frederic Ozanam was a French literary scholar, lawyer, journalist, and importantly, an equal rights advocate. After his schooling at Lyons, his father sent him to Paris to study Law at the famous Sorbonne. He acquired degrees - Bachelor of Law, Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Law. He was admitted to the Bar in Lyon in 1837. He also obtained the degree of Doctor of Letters with his thesis on Dante. He was on the University of Paris faculty, and appointed professor of Commercial Law at Lyon at the age of 27. He was also a highly successful lecturer on German literature. In June 1841, he married Amelie Soulacroix, daughter of the Rector of the University of Lyon, and the couple had a daughter Marie.
At the University, Ozanam met some French Catholics who were interested in the uplift of society; at that time, there was stark poverty everywhere in Paris. These friends focused their attention on the social teachings of the Gospel, and amidst heated arguments, debated the role of the Church. One voice issued a challenge with questions like "What is your Church doing now? What is she doing for the poor of Paris? Show us your works, and we will believe you." This shook Ozanam, and was the turning point; the result was that in May 1833, Ozanam and some young men founded the Charitable Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
The Archangels: Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
"The Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being." (from a homily by Pope Benedict XVI, given on September 29, 2007, feast of the three Archangels)
We are celebrating the Feast of the three Archangels who are mentioned by name in Scripture: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. But what is an Angel? Sacred Scripture and the Church's tradition enable us to discern two aspects.
On one hand, an Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word "El", which means "God". God is inscribed in their names, in their nature.
Their true nature is existing in His sight and for Him. In this very way, the second aspect that characterises Angels is also explained: they are God's messengers. They bring God to men, they open heaven, and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man.
Like an angel to others
Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf. In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another - angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God.
If the ancient Church called Bishops "Angels" of their Church, she meant precisely this: Bishops themselves must be men of God, they must live oriented to God. "Multum orat pro populo" (Let them say many prayers for the people) - the Breviary of the Church says of holy Bishops.
A Walk down History Lane
Leroy Santos visits the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum at St Pius X College, Goregaon and comes away deeply impressed…
I should have known what to expect, when our daughter Chelsea (who is on the Curatorial Team of the City Palace Museum, Udaipur, Rajasthan) lined up a visit to the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum, given the touted stature of the place. Yet, nothing could adequately prepare me for what I was to witness, both in terms of religious objects and artefacts, as well as the attention to detail and the manner of presentation. Almost hidden away in a nook of the balcony section of the Seminary auditorium, this was an experience to remember as the expertly curated collection of religious objects of worship and veneration took us down not one, but two historical paths – of our faith firstly, thanks to some artefacts in the collection, and secondly, of the Church in Mumbai, thanks again to other artefacts and a beautifully laid out timeline that would stand comparison to any international museum or historical place.
The collections themselves are works of art – monstrances that greet you as you enter, regal in their appearance, and intricately crafted with a million messages, vestments, some of which are still commissioned for use, crosses, altars, personal objects of worship, chalices, church furniture, mitres and more. The silence of the place and the still air increases the aura that pervades the place, and I am tempted to spring out my cellphone to take a photograph of some of the objects.
We have reached the far end of the museum, and a thought crosses my mind: this small? “There’s more!” comes the voice of Joynel Fernandes, the ever smiling Asst Director, as if reading my mind. We push open the door, and behold… the inner sanctum of the Museum. A life-size wooden statue of our Lord resting in death greets us, immaculately laid out in a glass edifice replete with underlying mirrors to facilitate a multi-dimensional view. After the still air, the air conditioning that greets you comes as a pleasant and invigorating surprise. “We have to keep the temperature and humidity levels balanced,” explains Joynel, “as it helps preserve the artefacts to an extent.”
The One True Faith
At school, we were taught that Catholicism was the one true faith, and that those who followed other faiths might not attain eternal salvation. This extreme position was somehow softened or rationalised by the concept of “baptism of desire”, whereby those who followed a moral life according to their conscience were in effect “baptised” and therefore entitled to salvation. The “one true faith” were words that greatly troubled me, and it was only when I happened to discuss this with friends in my first year of college that my discomfort increased exponentially. “You mean to say that if I am not a Catholic, I cannot be saved?” protested Kirit, an outraged Hindu friend. “What nonsense, Michael!” This sharp retort made me determined to examine this question more deeply. Though much water has flowed under the bridge since then, the determination to share my thoughts and the satisfaction derived from comforting research have resulted in my penning this article.
I am indebted to Alice Camille for much of the material that follows. If one had to identify one moral question most vital to address in the 21st century, it would be this: today we inhabit a global community that is drawing ever more closely together. It’s like the world got shrink-wrapped in a single generation, and we are all breathing the same remarkably limited and interdependent air now.
Theologians at the Second Vatican Council saw this new reality on the horizon, and recognised that the Church had to re-examine and clarify its inter-faith stance. In the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate, 1965), it formally opened the issue to further exploration.
Note: A “declaration” isn’t the same thing as a “Dogmatic Constitution,” of which the same Council produced a few. Constitutions are fairly finished documents, not to be tampered with in their essence. Declarations blaze a trail, or at least mark the trail ahead, but welcome refinement and progress.
Rethinking Tourism in India
International tourist arrivals at the start of this year were double the level recorded in 2021. In some regions, arrivals are already at, or even above, pre-pandemic levels. The lifting of the remaining travel restrictions, along with rising consumer confidence, will be important drivers for the sector's recovery, bringing hope and opportunity to many millions of people around the world.
World Tourism Day (Sept. 27) will be celebrated as the shift towards tourism being recognised as a crucial pillar of development and progress is well underway. May 2022 marked the first time the United Nations General Assembly held a special debate on tourism, illustrating the historic relevance of the sector. Tourism is now on the agenda of governments and of international organisations in every global region. At the same time, destinations and businesses are proactively adapting to meet challenges and responsibilities, as illustrated by the wave of signatories to the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, spearheaded by UNWTO. The theme "Rethinking Tourism" will reflect this. It aims to inspire the debate around rethinking tourism for development, including through education and jobs, and tourism's impact on the planet and opportunities to grow more sustainably.
For its 42nd edition, World Tourism Day will be hosted by Indonesia, in Bali, a destination at the forefront of reimagining tourism as a pillar of sustainable development. Tourism's International Observance Day will put people at the centre of key discussions. Where is tourism going? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there? The one-day celebration will bring together stakeholders from every part of tourism's uniquely broad value chain – from political and private sector leaders to community representatives, and youth and indigenous ambassadors. The event will develop around a multi-stakeholder panel discussion on "Rethinking Tourism as a Key Element of Recovery", as well as a discussion on "The Tourism We Want", led by local representatives from across Bali's tourism sector. UNWTO's Member States will be invited to amplify the celebrations and key messages, while UNWTO will also promote the event and its central theme of rethinking tourism through its channels and partners.