Archives October 2021

Vatican II and Justice in the World

Dr. Paul Hwang – Director of ALL Forum

Gaudium et Spes and Justice in the World

In this year we celebrate the 50 th anniversary of publication of the Justice in the world , the final document of the 2 nd World Bishops’ Synod in 1971. As we have seen often in this section of the newsletter, the document was not born out of nothing. It has had much to do with and been much influenced by Vatican II especially Gaudium et Spes or Joy and Hope (1965), one of the most important documents of the first world pastoral council. Indeed, before the Vatican II documents, it could find its trace in the Mother an Teacher (1961), or Mater et Magistra, and Peace in the World (1963) or Pacem et Terris , the both encyclicals written by Pope John 23. It was Gaudium et Spes which clearly provided the idea of the just economy order in the world (no. 85) for the first time among the Church’s official documents.

We could find a more integrated perspective on Catholic Social teachings when it comes to relation of justice, peace and equality. Firstly, it shows a close connection between justice and peace issues by stating “In order to build up peace above all the causes of discord among men, especially injustice, which foment wars must be rooted out.”(no. 83, and no. 84-87). Secondly, from the perspective of justice, equality, and human dignity, it suggests ‘genuine human development’ as follows: “To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination.” (no.66)

Action for Justice as Constitutive Dimension of the Gospel

These paragraphs in Gaudium et Spes mentioned right above and the encyclical Populorum Pregresio or On the Development of Peoples (1967) written by Pope Paul XI, which succeeded the spirit of the former, directly influenced the Church’s perception of justice and peace as if it is just one concept. Similarly, the document Justice in the World raised the issue of justice in earnest by proclaiming that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.” (no.6, stress added.) It also insisted that “Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one’s neighbor.” (no.34).

Church Renewal or Reform in the Document

One of most important paragraphs in relation to Church renewal after Vatican II in Catholic Social Teachings was stated in the Justice in the world by stating “While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, she recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and life style found within the Church herself.” (no. 40). No Church document mentioned justice within the Church as seen in the document. It goes on to point out “We also urge that women should have their own share of responsibility and participation in the community life of society and likewise of the Church. We propose that this matter be subjected to a serious study employing adequate means: for instance, a mixed commission of men and women, religious and lay people, of differing situations and competence.” (no. 42-43) It also recognized and stressed just wage and important role in the Church for lay people: “Those who serve the Church by their labor, including priests and religious, should receive a sufficient livelihood and enjoy that social security which is customary in their region. Lay people should be given fair wages and a system for promotion. We reiterate the recommendations that lay people should exercise more important functions with regard to Church property and should share in its administration.”(no. 41) In this sense the document surely is one of the champions for Church renewal in many aspects.

Becoming A Just Church

Becoming A Just Church

By Neilan D’souza

Dear Readers, in this month of October ALL Forum would like to draw your attention towards an impressive and noteworthy document ‘Justice in the World’ which was produced as the out come of the Second General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1971. This synod at the time focused on two important themes: “The Ministerial Priesthood” and “Justice in the World”.

The document “Justice in the World” provides strong emphasis on Catholic Social Teachings and it denotes the mission of the Church within the Christ-life and the need for the Church’s greater involvement in the world. What is interesting here is how this document carefully dives into many aspects of the current issues in the world and brings out many perspectives and stances of the Church on various matters. It also shows support and encourages solidarity on many aspects. Structurally the document is broken down with the following sections 1.Justice and World Society, 2. The Gospel Message and the Mission of the Church, 3. The Practice of Justice, 4. A Word of Hope.

What is compelling is that the bishops during this synod turn a critical eye to the Church, hoping to clean house; they state that the practice of justice must first begin within one’s home. The bishops advocate for: greater care of the lay workers; that women must be given a greater role, with the help of a mixed commission on the matter; “freedom of expression and thought”; fairer and faster juridical procedures; and the greater involvement of “the members of the Church” within the entire structure of the Church (Chapter 3). The Church’s witness, in the bishops’ estimation, also touches on temporal possessions for prophetic witness for the poor and consuming lifestyles.

The key message that we need to learn from this marvelous document is that  “Christian love of neighbour and justice cannot be separated” and that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.”

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Justice in the World next month in November we invite you to read this transformative document “Justice in the World” so that we may deeper understand our Church, its active role in society and its mission for the liberation of everyone from every oppressive system and situation.

IMCS Pax Romana Asia Pacific is organising a workshop on “Caste, Untouchability and Discrimination”

IMCS Pax Romana Asia Pacific is organising a workshop on “Caste, Untouchability and Discrimination”

IMCS Pax Romana Asia Pacific will be organising a “Continued Learning and Action Program(CLAP)” workshop on “Caste, Untouchability and Discrimination”.

The Workshop will take place on 4 consecutive Fridays in October (October 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th) at 7. 30 PM, Manila/KL/HK time. 

The medium of instruction during the workshop will be English and will be held online using the Zoom platform. If you are interested to join, kindly register soon by 6th of October 2021. Click the button to fill the registration form.

ALL Forum Online Course Updates

ALL Forum Online Course Updates

Asian Lay Leaders Forum was successfully able to complete 2 batches of its online course on the major documents of Pope Francis – Laudato Si in September, exclusively for Vietnamese and Pakistani participants.

Participants from both countries have expressed positive comments and feed back after joining us in the online course and have been contributing to us their experience and views with written and visual reflections as you can see them mentioned in the first section of the E-Newsletter.

We hope to continue to amplify the reach by doing many more batches of the online course. In this month of October we already have scheduled sessions for both Vietnam and Pakistan on another Major Document of Pope Francis which is Gaudete et Exsultate. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel and browse there to view all our recorded sessions.

The Emerging Worldview of the 21st Century and its Impact on Ecclesiology

The Emerging Worldview of the 21st Century and its Impact on Ecclesiology

By Diamuid O’Murchu

The coming to be of a world Church precisely as such does not mean just a quantitative increase in the previous Church , but rather contains a theological break in Church history that still lacks conceptual clarity and can scarcely be compared with anything except the transition from Jewish to Gentile Christianity— Rahner 1979, 726-727

What is the New Cosmology?

The new cosmology is so named to counteract the more mechanistic world view that prevailed from the 16 till the 19t century CE. The new departure is marked by Einstein’s theories of relativity and the development of quantum physics in the opening decades of the 20% century. However, it is not entirely new, as it reclaims several features of the cosmology that prevailed in the high Middle Ages (influencing St. Thomas Aquinas, among many others), traces of which can be found in several ancient oriental traditions of China and India.

The following are considered to be the key features of the New Cosmology, sometimes named the New Story (especially by one of its best know proponents, the late Fr. Tomas Berry CP [Berry 1999:2006; 20097)

1. Aliveness: Organicity characterises everything in creation. Aliveness did not begin with organic creatures nor does it manifest in a superior expression in any one strand of life, human or otherwise. Aliveness belongs first and foremost to the evolving universe, bestowed on all creatures we know through the mediation of our earthiness. Humans are alive because the earth to which we belong is alive, and the earth has inherited its aliveness from the living evolving universe.(More in Barrow 2011;’ Davies 2006)

Challenge to the Church: All the major religions, including Christianity, attribute liveness primarily to God, and secondarily to God’s primary creatures on earth, namely humans. Humans are deemed to be superior to all other life forms. Moreover, Christianity, for much of its history, encouraged humans to remain as separate as possible from the earth and the wider creation, on the understanding that too close a connection with the material creation could prove to be a serious barrier to obtaining salvation in a world beyond. The dualistic split between the sacred and secular is at the root of Christianity’s one-sided understanding of what it means to be alive.

2. Symbiogenesis is a concept developed by the micro-biologist, Lynn Margulis (1998) to denote the relational, cooperative interaction through which everything in the universe comes into being, grows and flourishes. Contrary to the atomistic view of classical science, and the separation through which modern humans self-define themselves, nothing in the universe makes sense in isolation. Everything needs everything else to thrive and flourish.

Challenge for the Church: Despite belief in a Trinitarian God, understood today as a nexus of deep relational meaning, Christianity has always favoured differentiation and distinction. atomism and dualism, over against relational, interactive ways of perceiving and understanding. Consistently, the emphasis has been on how Christianity differs from everything else, rather than seeking out and celebrating the commonalities that can Inspire and empower.

3. Interdependence follows logically. No one species has dominion over all others. Our human becoming is dependent on all the other creatures with whom we share the living earth, but also dependent on the creative energies we have inherited from eons long past. Judy Cannato (2006, 65) provides a vivid description of this interdependence:

The water in your body contains primordial hydrogen formed in the first seconds of the Big Bang. The carbon atoms that formed you came together after the explosion of a supernova. The concentration of salt in your body matches the concentration of salt in the ancient seas. Your cells are direct descendants of unicellular organisms that developed billions of years ago. You see because chlorophyll molecules mutated, so that like plant leaves, your eyes can capture the light from the sun. And in your mother’s womb your tiny body repeated the whole process of multi-cellular life on earth, beginning with a single cell, and then developing greater and greater complexity.

Challenge to the Church: Heavily aligned with patriarchal top down order and structure, the Church tends to emphasise the independent uniqueness of those who hold the power, to be clearly distinguished from those who don’t. For much of Christian history the people of God were treated as passive recipients of a wisdom which belonged in its fullness to those at the top. Instead of striving for mutuality and interdependence, something closer to the parent-child relationship defined the Church’s way of operating in the world.

4. Paradox is the word we use to captivate the integration of cosmic polarities – life and death, creativity and destruction, light and darkness — observable throughout the entire universe. While our inherited consciousness tends to split these polarities into binary dualistic opposites, the New Cosmology seeks to reclaim the more fundamental unity of the bothrand rather than the either- or. This material is foundational to our cosmic understanding of the dark and destructive forces at work in creation, all of which are essential to the creative potential of cosmos and Earth planet alike. Human suffering needs to be understood afresh within this paradoxical context, a challenge largely unknown to the human species at this time.

Challenge to the Church: All meaningless suffering is understood to be derived from a foundational flawed condition, known as Original Sin. The flaw begins with humans and adversely affects everything else throughout the entire spectrum of cosmic creation. This set of perceptions is quite primitive, narrowly anthropocentric, and tends to exacerbate rather than reduce the meaningless suffering in the world. There is gross confusion between the flaw and the paradox, resulting in a range of redemptive theories, the shortcomings of which have been extensively documented in recent times. (cf. Brock & Parker 2008; Heim 2006).

5. Revelation – in inherited Christian thought – describes God’s manifestation of divine meaning exclusively through the Christian scriptures. On the other hand, the New Cosmology acknowledges that God has been fully at work in creation for billions of years — before scriptures or religions ever evolved; it proposes that revelation needs to be predicated on universal life embracing its entire trajectory of 13.7 billion years. God reveals the God-self primarily through the universal creation as an evolving unfolding emergence. Each religion, therefore, may be viewed as a particular cultural and time conditioned articulation of the foundational revelation which belongs primarily to creation itself.

Challenge to the Church: The Church’s official theological horizons are far too narrow, with revelation applying almost exclusively to the human realm, and in the Christian context to a narrow historical time frame, culminating with the death of the last apostle. All elegance of God at work in the larger creation is either ignored or subverted, a stance that is likely to alienate many believers in an age where millions are more consciously aware of the larger context, and of the urgent ecological and environmental issues confronting humanity today.

6. Story. The creation we know is not merely an accumulation of scientific facts, but rather a story that is being told spanning infinite spacetime, a universe which in all probability has neither beginning nor end. Scientific fact certainly illuminates the mystery, and in recent times particularly it has enhanced human awareness and our understanding of the vast and complex “multiverse” to which we belong, and without which our lives have no meaning. We, humans, belong to the story. We did not invent it, although today its materialisation into greater consciousness is happening at a more accelerated pace thanks to human reflexive thought. We have a unique gift to bring to the universe (as do all other creatures) but we do so indebted to the universal source from which we have received everything we cherish as earthlings. Contemporary renditions of this story include Dowd (2009), Primack & Abrams (2006), Swimme & Berry (1992).

Challenge to the Church: How does the Church reclaim the power of story? In the Gospels, Jesus unravels and illuminates deep truth in the power of story (parables – and the miracle narratives as parables-in-action — more in O’Murchu 2011, 74-93). In the history of the Church doctrine and dogma subverted the power of story, with its potential for dialogue, discovery, process, and emergent sense of truth, congruent with the evolutionary nature of life itself.

Mission Theology in the Vatican II Era Gift and Task for the Local Churches of Asia

Mission Theology in the Vatican II Era Gift and Task for the Local Churches of Asia

By James H. Kroeger, M.M

AN INTEGRAL VIEW OF EVANGELIZATION.

Evangelization, for many Catholics, is a generally unfamiliar and relatively new term. The Second Vatican Council and recent popes have placed evangelization at the center of the Church’s identity and mission. Today the Church sees that the “principal elements” of mission and evangelization are: (a) presence and witness of life; (b) commitment to social development and human liberation; (c) interreligious dialogue; (d) explicit Gospel proclamation and catechesis; and, (e) prayer, contemplation, and liturgical life. In a word, the one evangelizing mission of the Church is comprised of several component elements and authentic forms. This integral or holistic view has served the Church well over the past decades. Viewing evangelization through five of its principal elements results in clarity, insight, and proper integration. This is the Catholic vision of evangelization.

CHURCH’S MISSIONARY NATURE.

Vatican II forcefully declared: “The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature. For it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she takes her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father” (AG 2). Christians believe in a Trinitarian God, who is not  just the founder of a missionary community, the Church, but a God who is inherently missionary. The missio Dei was already operative before the Church came into existence. This theology locates mission at the very center of what the Church is and what she is called to be and to do.

Pope Paul VI asserts that missionary evangelization is the “vocation proper to the Church.” He continues: “We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” Evangelizing lies at “her deepest identity.” She “exists in order to evangelize.” She “is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being” (EN 14-15). The emphasis is clear: the Church is mission; she does not only do some activities that foster mission. The theologian Emil Brunner captured the Church’s missionary identity well: ““The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.”

MISSIONARY RESPONSIBILITY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.

At the time of Vatican II, ecclesiology had a clear universalist emphasis; the Council facilitated a renewed awakening of the importance of the local Church. This has resulted in a richer understanding of the full missionary responsibility of the local Christian community. Vatican II asserted that the Church of Christ is fully present “in all legitimate local congregations” (LG 26); thus, as the Roman document Dialogue and Mission (14) asserts: “Every local church is responsible for the totality of mission.”

Probably some of the best pastoral-mission theology on the local Church is to be found in the documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). The Asian bishops assert: “The primary focus of our task of evangelization then, at this time in our history, is the building up of a truly local Church” (FABC I: 9). “For the Asian Churches, the decisive new phenomenon — will be the emergence of genuine Christian communities in Asia—Asian in their way of thinking, praying, living, communicating their own Christ-experience to others:–. If the Asian Churches do not discover their own identity, they will have no future” (ACMC 14). Asia’s bishops have consistently promoted a “new way of being Church” and that “the acting subject of mission is the local Church living and acting in communion with the universal Church” (FABC V: 8.0; 3.3.1). In all of this, FABC and its vision of Church become “‘Asia’s continuing Vatican II.”

LAITY’S FULL PARTICIPATION IN THE CHURCH’S MISSION.

One could assert that the Church’s mission of evangelization is too important to be left to the clergy and religious alone; thus, in Vatican II one finds a renewed emphasis on the missionary nature of the entire Church. Every baptized member of the Church is equally an evangelizer, whether layperson, ordained, or religious. An integral vision of evangelization engages the entire Church (from top to bottom; especially, all the local Churches), all states of life (lay, religious, ordained, married, single), all apostolic activities and forms of witness (the five principal elements).

It must be noted that this emphasis on everyone’s call to mission is not superficially based on the desire to have “more workers for the job.” A profound and beautiful theology of Christian baptism and identity underlies this emphasis. Christifideles Laici (33) speaks of the laity’s missionary responsibility: “The lay faithful, precisely because they are members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel; they are prepared for this work by the sacraments of Christian initiation and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Laity are full-fledged evangelizers; mission is both their right and duty within the Church; they are not missionary due to some kind of “delegation of mission” coming from a priest or even a bishop.

“By the grace and call of Baptism and Confirmation, all lay people are missionaries” (EA 45). This wave of renewal is still not fully recognized; it offers great potential for the Church.

Two Touching Images from Evangelii Gaudium

Two Touching Images from Evangelii Gaudium

By Teresa Cao Le Huyen

I would like to thank the Organising Committee of ALL Forum for preparing and sharing this helpful program to Vietnamese Youth, especially to me. In my opinion, this program is indispensable. I immediately registered when I received the course’s invitation, one of the reasons is that the course objectives are my current interest. I believe that everybody thinks the same way.

Regarding the presentation on the previous day, about the Evangelii Gaudium Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis – The Joy of the Gospel, there are two pictures that really touched me . The picture of the Church and the other about the economy of exclusion.

The first image of Pope Francis saying that “I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center; which that ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures (n.49). I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security, poor Church for the poor”

When I read the words, I realized that a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because of protecting the poor, because of protecting love, is full of the Holy Spirit and brings to the earth great vitality. This is Jesus Christ on the cross. When I think of this picture, I ask myself: What does Church mean to me? Who is Church? Let us go forth, but who? Leaders in Church, or just for Priests and laity? Some ideas were raised in my mind that from the time when I was baptized, I became a part of the Church, I belong to the Church and the Church is me. When Pope Francis mentioned the Church, it does not mean the entire board of leaders but everyone. It is me and everyone around me. I was called to care about others much more than I do myself, in order to contribute to the development of  the social community. The Church would be more vivid and the World would be lit up if each of us could give more, go forth to offer.

The second image is about the economy of exclusion. “Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”. (no.53)”

This point has raised the very true problem of today’s world, happening in daily life. Humans are so self-centered, self-interested and self-serving so those excluded become the outcast. And I realized that the form of exclusion is getting more and more sophisticated in many respects. Those excluded are not only the poors who sit on the street, begging or selling lottery tickets but also even healthy, rich people in schools, in town, or at home are being discarded in some ways. Someone is being excluded in others’ thoughts, their opinions are ignored in the working environment, someone’s life seems not to exist in the community. I asked myself many times, in my community and my life environment, who is being excluded? Who am I ignoring? What kind of rejection? Could it be exploitation, boycott, outcast, results- oriented than people-oriented? Ignoring by the cold eyes, by the rude words? The picture of excluded people is so pathetic, and it is more pathetic for the one who are excluding others. Human hearts are getting colder and colder, emotionless and even more emotionless.

Through this session, I had a much deeper understanding of my identity – a Christian and by living my life as the ultimate expression of who I really am – let go forth, then, let go forth to offer everyone the life of Jesus Christ, knowing God, show love and respect to others.

I appreciated it a lot. May God bless and reward everybody in ALL Forum.

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

THE CHURCH AS AN EMERGENCY HOSPITAL

By Eliza Halim

Our beloved country Indonesia is currently facing the Covid-19 pandemic. Confirmed cases are increasing every day. This requires adequate health facilities, but hospitals in Indonesia are full of Covid-19 patients. This makes the government take various ways to overcome this problem. The government created  emergency or field hospitals for Covid-19. The first emergency hospital to operate was Wisma Atlet (Athlete’s House) Kemayoran. Apart from Wisma Athletes, several emergency hospitals were also prepared. Starting from the central government, local government and assistance from the private sector. The Athletes’ House was adapted in only four days to become a Covid-19 Emergency Hospital[3].

Even though it was built briefly, the Athlete’s House has all the adequate quality and facilities. In addition, 25 state owned companies supply medical equipment for this emergency hospital.

With the second wave of covid 19 (May 2021) the Indonesian government is using several more places such as the Pondok Gede Hajj Dormitory which began operating on July 10, 2021 to receive a booming Covid-19 patients, which according to some sources the number has now jumped to 10x in DKI and 5x in Bali [4]

We see this in our country, Indonesia, how about the situation in other countries? The New York Times and reported by AFP, Tuesday (7/4/2020): A large cathedral in New York, United States was converted to become an emergency hospital during the corona virus pandemic. The move comes as the state struggles with a crisis that has killed thousands of people.[2]

The Pope’s offer to see the Church as a field or emergency hospital actually loosens rigid institutional ecclesiastical barriers, so that they can resonate with people living today [1]

This unusual picture of the church actually offers a new and fresh perspective on the Church. There are at least four new perspectives that Pope Francis offers through the new ecclesiology [1]

First, the Church as an emergency hospital shows the aspect of flexibility to move true to its name emphasizing mobility. The second shows that the Church must be among the wounded. Three, that the visible churches need to reveal its identity so that it can be easily found by those who are suffering. Fourth, to empower citizens. The emergency hospital is a kind of pit stop, a temporary stop so that the injured can be treated, but after receiving adequate treatment, they will resume their struggle in solidarity with many survivors who share the same direction of struggle. This means that the ultimate goal of service is empowerment.[1]

Even though Pope Francis has made this appeal since September 30, 2013 in an interview with Antonio Spadaro, it is still very relevant to the current situation where the second Covid-19 pandemic is occurring in Indonesia. This vision was emphasized by Pope Francis in the Evangelii Gaudium document. He said, “A community that evangelizes engages with the words and actions of people’s everyday lives. This community bridges the distance, is willing to serve itself if necessary, and embraces human life, by touching the humanity of Christ who suffers in each other” (EG 24). A louder phrase emerges in this passage, “I prefer a church that is bruised, hurt and dirty because it has been out on the streets than a church that is sick of shutting itself in and comfortable clinging to its own security. I don’t want an ambitious Church to be at the center and end up caught in the trap of obsessions and procedures” (EG 49).

The church that is mentioned here is that we are all faithful Catholics, who are expected in a situation like this, to be among people who are suffering and in need of our help. We must not just focus on our personal affairs, but we also have to look at the situation around us, what we can do to help those who are suffering, especially the people who live below the poverty line.

Within our Catholic community there is no cooperation in helping and easing the burden of residents suffering from Covid-19, both Catholics and non-Catholics. We who are able to work together to collect funds to be donated to people in need and those who live around us, need to be provided with support and prayers to the sufferers. We must be steadfast, patient and surrender all our life problems to Jesus our Savior.

There are also Catholics in our neighborhood, who go around giving rice wraps in markets for the poor, and there are also Catholics who go around providing food and dry goods such as biscuits and other essentials as well as money to “ manusia gerobak” (a poor family who lives in a carriage).

Hopefully the Covid-19 pandemic will end soon so that the life of in Indonesian returns to normal and we all can live normally as before the pandemic.

Sources:

[1]5221_bambang_rohani__05_66_2019

[2]news.detik.com.internasional.internasional

[3]Republika.co.id/berita/qqf51n456/

[4]merdeka.com/peristiwa/satgas-sebut-kasus-aktif-covid-di-jakarta-naik-10-kali-lipat-sejak-18-mei-2021.html