the Examiner Articles

Pope’s Message for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly 2024

Dear brothers and sisters,

God never abandons His children, never. Even when our age advances and our powers decline, when our hair grows white and our role in society lessens, when our lives become less productive and can risk appearing useless. God does not regard appearances (cf. 1 Sam 16:7); He does not disdain to choose those who, to many people, may seem irrelevant. God discards no stone; indeed, the "oldest" are the firm foundation on which "new" stones can rest, in order to join in erecting a spiritual edifice (cf. 1 Peter 2:5).

Sacred Scripture, as a whole, is a story of the Lord's faithful love. It offers us the comforting certainty that God constantly shows us His mercy, always, at every stage of life, in whatever situation we find ourselves, even in our betrayals. The Psalms are filled with the wonder of the human heart before God who cares for us, despite our insignificance (cf. Ps 144:3-4); they assure us that God has fashioned each one of us from our mother's womb (cf. Ps 139:13); and that even in hell, He will not abandon our life (cf. Ps 16:10). We can be certain, then, that He will be close to us also in old age, all the more because, in the Bible, growing old is a sign of blessing.

At the same time, in the Psalms we also find this heartfelt plea to the Lord: "In my old age, do not abandon me" (cf. Ps 71:9). Words that are strong, even crude. They make us think of the extreme suffering of Jesus, who cried out on the Cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46).

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Care for the Elderly in a Globalised World

Lavoisier Fernandes

My octogenarian parents came from quite a different age. Unlike my parents, a few of that generation migrated to British India and Africa. Post-colonial migration generally consisted of migrating to the city, which was a few kilometres away from the village or to a major city in India in search of work, and some chose to settle there in order to provide their children a better life and an education. Furthermore, it was common for one spouse to support their family by working in the Gulf or on certain maritime jobs. Because permanent international migration was prohibited by not so favourable legislations, this kind of temporary movement was only undertaken for employment.

Growing up in the city in my native state of Goa as a millennial, I watched my parents have steady jobs that did not pay well; they saved for the future without having to worry about taking out loans or mortgages, and generally lived within their means, without worrying about guaranteed pensions free from market swings. Compared to today's 24x7 work culture, their professions included less travel for work; they were essentially classic "9 to 5" jobs with a healthy work-life balance that included family prayer life. I also grew up seeing my dad accomplish his Christian duty of caring for his father, my grandfather. The affection and kinship between generations was fostered and strengthened by my grandmother's regular trips from the village and vice versa.

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Honouring  your Father and Mother

Fr Sandeep Sonawane

Honouring our parents is not just a moral obligation, but a divine commandment deeply rooted in religious teachings across various scriptures. From the Old Testament's Ten Commandments to the teachings in the New Testament, reverence towards parents is emphasised as a fundamental principle of a righteous life. In this essay, we explore the biblical foundations, practical implications, and contemporary relevance of honouring one's parents.

 Biblical Foundations of Honouring Parents

Old Testament Perspective: The commandment to honour one's parents originates from the Old Testament, specifically the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12). It is explicitly linked to a promise of longevity and prosperity in the land granted by God. Honour in this context involves personal respect and obedience, distinguishing it from mere material or symbolic gestures of respect. In ancient Hebrew culture, honouring parents was considered a privilege and a duty, indicative of one's reverence for God Himself (Leviticus 19:3). The position and authority of parents within the family structure were sacrosanct, symbolising God's authority over His people.

New Testament Perspective: The New Testament reinforces the commandment to honour parents, integrating it with Christian ethics. The apostle Paul exhorts children to obey and honour their parents, framing it as a natural extension of living in righteousness and harmony (Ephesians 6:1-3). This teaching underscores the continuity of respect across generations, and highlights the spiritual benefits of honouring one's parents.

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Apostle to the Apostles

Fr Manuel Murzello SDB

Mary Magdalene and Her Relevance to Women in India Today

 July is a month filled with significant religious observances, starting with the Solemnity of St Thomas, the patron saint of India, and including the memorials of St James and St Alphonsa Muttathupadathi. However, one feast that particularly stands out is that of Mary Magdalene on July 22. During my visit to the Holy Land in 2015, I had the privilege of exploring Magdala, the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. This experience deepened my appreciation of the scriptures, especially those referencing Mary Magdalene, making my prayers more heartfelt and meaningful.

A few years ago, the feast of Mary Magdalene was celebrated merely as a memorial. However, recognising her pivotal role as the first witness to Christ's Resurrection and as a "true and authentic evangeliser," Pope Francis elevated her memorial to a feast in 2016. Pope Francis highlighted Christ's mercy towards Mary Magdalene, who was often exploited and despised by self-righteous individuals. He also emphasised her profound love for Christ and how much she was cherished by Him.

Mary Magdalene is one of the most frequently mentioned women in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. She was present during key moments in Jesus' life – His Passion, Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection. Often regarded as the first witness to the Resurrection of Jesus, she is aptly termed the 'Apostle to the Apostles'.

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Criminalising 'Conversions'

Fr Cedric Prakash SJ

On July 1, 2024, Justice Rohit Ranjan Agarwal of the Allahabad High Court, in a bizarre comment, said, "If this process (religious conversion) is allowed to be carried out, the majority population of this country would be in minority one day, and such religious congregation should be immediately stopped where the conversion is taking place and changing religion of citizen of India." (sic) The single-judge bench was hearing the bail plea of one Kailash, booked under Section 3/5(1) of the U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021.

He added that it is against the Constitutional mandate of Article 25 of the Constitution which does not provide for religious conversion. It only provides freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. The Court also noted that in several cases, unlawful activity of conversion of people of SC/ST and other castes, including economically poor persons, into Christianity is being done at a rampant pace throughout the State of Uttar Pradesh. The Court, on expected lines, denied bail to the accused.

Exactly a week later, on July 9, the same Justice Agarwal sang the exact same tune, denying bail to yet another accused in a case of alleged 'illegal conversion'. He observed that the right to freedom of conscience and religion cannot be constituted as the right to convert others! He once again categorically stated that, "The Constitution confers on each individual the fundamental right to profess, practise and propagate his religion. However, the individual right to freedom of conscience and religion cannot be extended to construe a collective right to proselytise; the right to religious freedom belongs equally to the person converting and the individual sought to be converted."

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New Instrumentum Laboris focuses on Synodality in action

Hannah Brockhaus

The guiding document for the final part of the Synod on Synodality, published on July 9, focuses on how to implement some of the Synod's aims while laying aside some of the more controversial topics from last year's gathering, such as women's admission to the diaconate.

"Without tangible changes, the vision of a Synodal Church will not be credible," the Instrumentum Laboris (working tool) says.

The six sections of the roughly 30-page document will be the subject of prayer, conversation, and discernment by participants in the second session of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held throughout the month of October in Rome.

Instead of focusing on questions and "convergences," as in last year's Instrumentum Laboris, "it is now necessary that ... a consensus can be reached," said an FAQ page from Synod organisers, also released July 9, answering a question about why the structure was different from last year's Instrumentum Laboris.

The guiding document for the first session of the Synod on Synodality in 2023 covered such hot-button topics as women deacons, priestly celibacy, and LGBTQ outreach.

By contrast, this year's text mostly avoids these subjects, while offering concrete proposals for instituting a listening and accompaniment ministry, greater lay involvement in parish economics and finances, and more powerful Parish Councils. "It is difficult to imagine a more effective way to promote a synodal Church than the participation of all in decision-making and taking processes," it states.

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Challenges to Healthcare in War settings

Dr Nancy Angeline

War is a catastrophe, in defiance of the commandment of Love. St Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologiae says that the only ethical way to engage in war is to have rightful intentions and a just cause (S. Th. II-II.40.1). Pope Francis, recently, has clarified that while some wars may have been considered "just" in the past, today's conflicts invariably lead to the suffering of innocents, and hence they are intrinsically unjust. "Wars are always unjust, since it is the people of God who pay. Our hearts cannot but weep before the children and women killed, along with all the victims of war. War is never the way. The Spirit that unites us asks us as shepherds to help the peoples who suffer from war." (Pope Francis, Video Conference with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, March 16, 2022).

Globally, wars are being waged in about 20 places at the present time, notably in Myanmar, Israel-Gaza, Russia-Ukraine, Sudan and Afghanistan. Most of these wars show no indication of ending in the near future. The World Health Organization highlights that Peace is the most significant factor for achieving the goal of "Health for All," and the health sector can play a crucial role in preserving and promoting peace. In the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, peace is mentioned as the first of the fundamental requisites for health.

During wars, besides loss of lives and physical disablement, there is disruption of health systems, breakdown of essential medical supply chain, collapse of the social and economic milieu, displacement of healthcare personnel, epidemic outbreaks and malnutrition. Due to the nature of conflict and displacement, there is a rise in diseases such as cholera, measles, meningitis, hepatitis, preventable maternal deaths, infant deaths, under-5 deaths, mental health issues, sexual violence, and chronic diseases, placing a significant burden on the fragile healthcare system.

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