Tag Archives: 2018-09

For Tabung Harapan

Kuala Lumpur – Most Reverend Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur and members of the Archdiocesan Finance Committee presented a cheque amounting to RM1, 148,386.10 for Tabung Harapan to YB Lim Guan Eng, Minister of Finance at Putrajaya on 21st September 2018. His Grace presented the cheque on behalf of the Catholic Church in Malaysia. The money was raised during a weekend collection in most of the churches throughout Malaysia.


Archbishop Chaput shares theological critique of youth synod prep document


– Archbishop Charles Chaput offered Friday on First Things a critique by a theologian of the working document for the upcoming Synod on Youth, which highlights five principal theological difficulties in the document.

The synod will be held Oct. 3-28 at the Vatican. Archbishop Chaput is one of five representatives who were chosen by the US bishops’ conference to attend the meeting.

In addition, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark; though Tobin has elected not to attend, citing pastoral obligations in his local Church amid the sexual abuse crisis.

The Archbishop of Philadelphia wrote Sept. 21 that in recent months he has “received scores of emails and letters from laypeople, clergy, theologians, and other scholars, young and old, with their thoughts regarding the October synod of bishops in Rome focused on young people.”

“Nearly all” of those “note the importance of the subject matter”, “praise the synod’s intent”, and “raise concerns of one sort or another about the synod’s timing and possible content,” he wrote.

Archbishop Chaput shared the text of a critique of the instrumentum laboris, which he received “from a respected North American theologian.”

He noted it “is one person’s analysis; others may disagree. But it is substantive enough to warrant much wider consideration and discussion as bishop-delegates prepare to engage the synod’s theme.”

The theologian identified five principal problems with the text of the instrumentum laboris for the youth synod: naturalism, an inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority, a partial theological anthropology, a relativistic conception of vocation, and an impoverished understanding of Christian joy.

The author said the document “displays a pervasive focus on socio-cultural elements, to the exclusion of deeper religious and moral issues,” and expresses a desire to examine reality through the faith and experience of the Church, while “regrettably fail[ing] to do so.”

Four examples of this naturalism are given. One of them is the discussion in section 144, where “there is much discussion about what young people want; little about how these wants must be transformed by grace in a life that conforms to God’s will for their lives.”

“After pages of analysis of their material conditions, the IL offers no guidance on how these material concerns might be elevated and oriented toward their supernatural end … the majority of the document painstakingly catalogues the varied socio-economic and cultural realities of young adults while offering no meaningful reflection on spiritual, existential, or moral concerns. The reader may easily conclude that the latter are of no importance to the Church,” the theologian wrote.

The theologian next discussed the document’s “inadequate grasp of the Church’s spiritual authority,” saying that “the entire document is premised on the belief that the principal role of the magisterial Church is ‘listening.’”

By its emphasis on listening and dialogue, the instrumentum laboris suggests that “the Church does not possess the truth but must take its place alongside other voices,” the author wrote. “Those who have held the role of teacher and preacher in the Church must replace their authority with dialogue.”

This misunderstanding of the Church’s teaching authority results in a “conflation of the baptismal and sacramental priesthood”, the theologian wrote, and it also “presents a pastoral problem”: “the Church as mother and teacher cannot through negligence or cowardice forfeit this necessary role of setting limits and directing (Cf. §178). In this regard §171, which points to the motherhood of the Church, does not go far enough. It offers only a listening and accompanying role while eliminating that of teaching.”

Third, the theologian discussed the “partial theological anthropology” of the instrumentum laboris, which they said “fails to make any mention of the will” in its discussion of the human person.

“It is the will that is fundamentally directed toward the good,” the author notes. “The theological consequence of this glaring omission is extraordinarily important, since the seat of the moral life resides in the will and not in the vicissitudes of the affect.”

Then is discussed the “relativistic conception of vocation” in the document, which gives the impression “that vocation concerns the individual’s search for private meaning and truth.”

An example of this problem is section 139, which “gives the impression that the Church cannot propose the (singular) truth to people and that they must decide for themselves. The role of the Church consists only in accompaniment. This false humility risks diminishing the legitimate contributions that the Church can and ought to make.”

The last principal difficulty of the instrumentum laboris is its impoverished understanding of Christian joy, according to the theologian.

Spirituality and the moral life “are reduced to the affective dimension, clearest in §130, evidenced by a sentimentalist conception of ‘joy.’”

According to the theologian, the document presents joy as “a purely affective state, a happy emotion …  Despite its constant reference to ‘joy,’ nowhere does the IL describe it as the fruit of the theological virtue of charity. Nor is charity characterized as the proper ordering of love, putting God first and then ordering all other loves with reference to God.”

Consequent upon this understanding of joy is a lack of “any theology of the Cross” in the instrumentum laboris.

“Christian joy is not antithetical to suffering, which is a necessary component of a cruciform life,” the theologian writes. “The document gives the impression that the true Christian will be ‘happy’ at all times, in the colloquial sense. It further implies the error that the spiritual life itself will always result in felt (affective) joy.”

“The pastoral problem that results from this comes to the fore most clearly in §137: Is it the role of the Church to make youth “feel loved by him [God]” or to aid them in knowing they are loved regardless of how they might feel?”

The theologian added that there are other serious theological concerns in the document, noting, “a false understanding of the conscience and its role in the moral life; a false dichotomy proposed between truth and freedom; false equivalence between dialogue with LGBT youth and ecumenical dialogue; and an insufficient treatment of the abuse scandal.”- CNA/EWTN News

Pope in the Baltic States: being close to the tabernacle, the Lord and the people

Pope Francis met priests, consecrated men and women and seminarians in Kaunas Cathedral. He spoke about “groaning” for the thirst of God and listening to the groaning of people. Being sad in one’s vocation is a “disease”, which turns the consecrated into hardened and fruitless bachelors and spinsters. The consecrated must be fathers and mothers of mercy. “If you do so, when you will be old, you will have a beautiful smile and bright eyes”.
 23 Sept 2018

Kaunas  – Pope Francis met with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in Kaunas Cathedral.

In his address, he said that priests and consecrated people must be close to the Lord, worship before the tabernacle and in prayer, and be close to the people, so that they are not full of “sadness” nor become “bureaucrats” or “clerics of the state”. He urged nuns to avoid chatting but be instead like “icons of Mother Church and Mother Mary”.

He urged all to have “hearts of mercy”, in Lithuania of all places because it is a “land where Jesus revealed himself as a merciful Jesus”, where St Faustina Kowalska, initiator of the devotion to the merciful Jesus, lived for a long time.

The pontiff read almost all of his prepared speech, stressing the importance of “groaning” and the “daily dialogue with the Lord through prayer and adoration” along with the “groaning” that can “come from our contemplation of the world around us”.

“Perhaps,” he noted, “our ‘prosperous society’ keeps us sated, surrounded by services and material objects; we end up ‘stuffed’ with everything and filled by nothing. Perhaps it keeps us distracted and entertained, but not fulfilled. As men and women of special consecration, we can never afford to lose that inward groaning, that restlessness of heart that finds its rest in the Lord alone.”

The pope urged older priests, who have experienced persecution, and young priests, seemingly weaker, to communicate with each other to become more mature in “constancy”.

“And you, the young, when you meet with little frustrations that can discourage you and make you want to turn in on yourselves, seeking activities and pastimes at odds with your consecration, go back to your roots and consider the path taken by your elders.”

Then, speaking without notes through simultaneous translation, he said: “I see there are young people here”. After repeating the previous sentence, he added: “I repeat [and he said the previous sentence again] . . . It is better that you take another path than live in mediocrity. This is for young people. You still have time and the door is open.”

Still speaking impromptu, Francis spoke of “sad priests and consecrated persons”, suffering from an “illness” because “they are not in love with the Lord”.

“When you find yourself sad, stop and look for a wise priest or a wise nun. Not wise because they graduated from a university. Wise because they were able to move forward in love. Go and ask for their advice. When this sadness begins, we can foretell that, if it has not healed in time, it will turn you into hardened bachelors and spinsters, men and women who are not fruitful. The devil sows this sadness.”

The pope urged those present not to live like “bureaucrats” or “businessmen”. “Following Jesus is not the life of a bureaucrat: it is the life of the Lord’s love and of the apostolic zeal of people. Here’s a caricature for you. What does a bureaucratic priest do? He has a schedule, opens the office, does the job, closes the office, and people are on the outside, staying away.”

“Dear brothers and sisters, if you do not want to be bureaucrats, I will tell you a word [to heed]: closeness, proximity, closeness to the tabernacle, to your lord, and proximity to the people. But Father, people are not coming! Go out and meet them! But kids do not come nowadays! So, come up with something to help them. The Lord wants you as shepherds of the people and not as clerics of the state.”

Francis asked the priests to be a sign of the merciful Jesus, especially in the confessional.

Turning to the nuns, he said: “Many times we see good nuns, chatting, chatting. But ask that last one [one of the consecrated victims of communist persecution] if she had time to chat in prison. Please be mothers because you are icons of the Church and of Our Lady. Every person who sees you, sees Mother Church and Mother Mary. And Mother Church is not a spinster. Mother Church does not chat: she loves, serves, grows.”

Almost to sum up what he said, the Holy Father ended stressing “Closeness to the tabernacle and to prayer and with others. [Do your] Priestly service and consecrated life, not as bureaucrats, but as fathers and mothers of mercy. If you do so, when you will be old, you will have a beautiful smile and bright eyes, because you will have the soul of mercy, tenderness, love, fatherhood and motherhood. And pray for this poor bishop.”- AsiaNews/Vatican News


CFC – HOLD’s 9th Echo Women’s Conference

A section of the over 200 participants in the Women’s Conference 

KOTA KINABALU – The Couples for Christ (CFC) – Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) organized the 9th HOLD echo Women’s Conference at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Centre on 16 September 2018.

An echo conference is a yearly initiative organized by the local CFC HOLD members who had attended the HOLD Icons (International Conferences) in the Philippines. The main objective is to share the same inputs they received in the conference, adapting it to the local context, making it beneficial to all the CFC Sabah Chapter who could not make it to the Icon. The CFC-HOLD have been organizing this echo conference since 2010, inviting participation not only among the members of CFC Sabah Chapter but also extending the invitation to other women in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

The conference room was packed with more than 200 participants mostly from CFC-Hold members and CFC support groups and other interested individuals. It started with the recitation of the rosary at 7:00am, followed by Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Paul Loh, the CFC Spiritual advisor. The conference proper started at 9:30am, intertwining all the talks with life testimonies given by some selected HOLD members as well as creative presentations making the message more appealing and easily understood.

The theme for this year, on Fiery Wings, aimed to create enthusiasm to discover, through the talks, what it really means. The Conference was divided into five sessions, each facilitated by a different speaker.  Interestingly, all the speakers quoted from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy to support their points.

Women’s Conference Speakers L-R (Maribel Oferina Chu, Karen Sigawal, Anne Labadin, Wendy Chin & Rosa Java)

The first session, entitled The Gift, was presented by Rosa Java. She highlighted the precious gift of the Holy Spirit given to each baptized Catholic during baptism and confirmation. She challenged the participants to reflect on whether the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit is being put to good use in their lives and ministries. Unfamiliarity with the gift of the Spirit, ignorant of His power to change and transform individuals to the image and likeness of God, selfishness, keeping the gift to oneself, failing to use the gift for the common good, and inconsistency in their spiritual growth are some of the reasons why the power of the Holy Spirit is not unleashed in the lives of Christians. In 2 Tim 1:6, which the speaker quoted, Paul exhorted the young Timothy to rekindle the “gift that is within.” This is also the call for all, rekindling the gift and keeping it aflame will allow the Lord to accomplish His work and purpose that He has entrusted to each one.

The second session on The Solemn Charge was presented by Karen Sigawal. In 2 Tim 4:1-2a, Paul gave Timothy the solemn charge, an obligation, to proclaim the Word and made it clear that it was a responsibility to be taken seriously. Likewise, the speaker in her talk reminded the participants about the challenge as women and how they should respond to this solemn charge. She quoted Pope Paul VI who said there is much urgency for women to be proclaimers of the Gospel in every situation and circumstances, in the various roles they play in society: as students, teachers, mothers, healers and leaders. In fulfilling the solemn charge the speaker exhorted the participants to imitate the five wise virgins who always had their oil lamps filled and lit, always ready to seize every opportunity to answer the call for mission.

In the third session Wendy Chin talked about the Daunting Task of being proclaimers of the Word and the undaunted Spirit each one must possess in order to be able to pursue the mission. In 2 Tim 4:2b, Paul gave Timothy a solemn charge to proclaim the Word and fulfil his obligation to be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, to convince, reprimand and encourage all through practice and teaching. She said that the work of an evangelizer is never easy. It requires passion, dedication, total commitment to make Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation known and embraced. A challenging mission indeed that makes one shrink in fear and trembling with anxiety at times, but there is nothing to be afraid of because the Holy Spirit will enabled us to do the impossible.

In the fourth session, The Time Has Come, the presenter Maribel Oferina Chu also based her talk on the second letter of Paul to Timothy 4: 3-5, where St. Paul warned Timothy of the challenges that he could face in proclaiming the Good News.  The speaker exhorted the members to do reality check on the various challenges that the present day evangelizers are facing too.  “People will not tolerate sound doctrine …”, the speaker mentioned how many people have transgressed the 10 commandments, how modernization has allowed for same sex attraction or union, propagation of the LGBT lifestyle, in vitro fertilization, immodesty in dressing and in conduct. In all these challenges, St. Paul reminds us that in order to surmount the modern day challenges, it is important to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to be self-possessed under all circumstances, to put up with hardship and enable us to perform the work of evangelists.

In the last session, Anne Labadin presented the topic on Fiery Wings. She described in detail who the Holy Spirit is: the giver of life, the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Unity, the Witness, the Paraclate and how the third Person of the Trinity has powerfully changed Christian lives.  Anne pointed out the many instances in Scripture where the Holy Spirit manifested His presence, His glory and his power through fire. She said, “We have been baptized with the same fire of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 3:11) However, because of personal problems, problems in community, unfaithfulness to God, or becoming victims of lies, gossip and the like, the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit has been quenched, diminishing the ardour of faith. In order not to lose the gift of the Holy Spirit in oneself, the speaker reminded the participants of the duties they need to do: Immersing oneself in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, attending the Sacraments, the Eucharist, Confession, devotion to Mother Mary and the saints, faithfulness in attending household teaching, and following the example of St. Paul in bearing the marks of Jesus on his body (cf. Gal 6:17). We are also reminded to help others to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit by reaching out to them through prayer and encouragement and accompanying them in what they are going through.

The conference ended at 5:00pm with a Praise Fest, making the participants leaving the conference hall spirit filled with uplifting messages from the sessions, ready to soar high with the fiery wings of the Holy Spirit to carry out their mission. – kkdiocese.net

Malaysian Catechetical Commission Meeting 2018

SIBU – There were many catechetical issues discussed in the recent Malaysian Catechetical Commission (MCC) Meeting held at the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Sibu, Sarawak from Monday 27th August to Thursday 30th August 2018.

Fr Alvin Ho SJ, Chairman of MCC led the meeting.  Twenty delegates from all arch/dioceses including the delegates from Brunei Vicariate attended this meeting. There were 10 priests including Most Revd Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese and Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau Diocese, and 10 Religious Sisters and lay leaders. The Diocese of Melaka-Johor apologized for not being able to send any delegates to this year’s meeting.

The Catechetical Commission plays a very crucial role in the church as it is the pulse and the very life of the church. One of the many activities of the Catechetical Ministry is to prepare our young Catholics for the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation and also spiritually prepare our children and teenagers to meet the challenges of the world. Without the dedication of the catechists in teaching and sharing the Catholic Faith, these students would not be well prepared and become strong in their faith. Therefore it is crucial that  formation of catechists to enable them to properly care for their students be given priority.

The meeting discussed numerous topics related to the Catechetical Ministry at the arch/diocesan level as well as at the national level:

  • The topic on formation and training for all those involved in catechesis especially for catechists to deliver effective lessons is one of the many topics that were discussed which included formation and training for catechists and/or facilitators of Christian Adult Initiation (CIA) team, Joyful Weekend Gathering (JWG) / Religious Education (RE) Classes, conducting Communion Service in the absence of priests, and becoming sponsors/godparents of candidates for the reception of sacraments. We also discussed how On-line Courses could help to update the Catechists.
  • Materials and catechetical books for JWG / RE need to be updated and improved by preparing supplementary materials to replace the existing ones. The meeting also discussed the necessity to have sufficient resources for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to respond to the needs of the candidates in all the arch/dioceses. We also had a discussion on Rites of RCIA.
  • The theme for 2019 Catechetical Sunday is “Christ, Our Mission” (Phil 1:21). A reflection paper for this theme would be prepared by Most Revd Julian Leow; together with this reflection paper, various suggestions of activities for this celebration would be distributed to each arch/diocese by November 2018. The theme chosen is in line with the Church’s focus on Mission and Evangelisation.
  • There was also a discussion on the management of the National Catechetical Office (NCO) in Kuala Lumpur. At this interim period, Dr Stephen Selvaraju was entrusted with monitoring the staff employed by Malaysia Catechetical Commission (MCC) for NCO.
  • All the eight arch/dioceses and the Vicariate of Brunei reported on their catechetical events, activities, programmes and plans.
  • At the end of the four-day meeting, the members elected a team of office bearers for the term 2019-2021. The result of this election is as follows:

Chairman                    :           Fr Nicholas Stephen (Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese)

Vice Chairman           :           Fr Mark Michael (Penang Diocese)

Secretary                     :           Mr Frederick Empanga (Miri Diocese)

Vice Secretary             :           Ms Stephanie Ng (Kuching Archdiocese)

The outgoing Episcopal President of the Malaysia Catechetical Commission, Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese, thanked all the MCC members for their tireless service, cooperation and friendship built throughout the term, led by Fr Alvin Ho SJ. His Lordship also heartily welcomed the incoming Episcopal President, Most Revd Julian Leow and hoped that the usual close cooperation amongst the newly elected office bearers would continue. His Lordship also congratulated the newly elected office bearers and encouraged them to serve with joy.

The outgoing MCC chairman, Fr Alvin Ho SJ, thanked all the MCC members for their cooperation given to him during his tenure as the chairman and he congratulated the newly elected office bearers.

The newly elected chairman, Fr Nicholas Stephen expressed his gratitude for the trust given to him by all the MCC members to chair the Commission for the next three years; he hoped that with cooperation of all the MCC members, together they could implement all that would be planned.

Most Revd Julian Leow, the incoming Episcopal President, thanked the outgoing office bearers for their tireless service. His Grace emphasized on the importance of catechetical ministry in a world where faithful, especially the younger generations, are being challenged by the worldly standard and secularism. Many young people who migrated to the West Malaysia compromised their Catholic Faith due to the shallowness of their faith.

Therefore, the archbishop said that there was a dire need to have ongoing continuous catechetical formation and training for catechists. His Grace emphasized that parents have to live up to their responsibility and to play their role effectively as the first catechists of their children, instead of fully relying on the catechists in the weekly Religious Education Classes. There was also a need to publish spiritual books and share the resources on-line for the catechists and parents to refer to.

The archbishop also acknowledged and appreciated the RE catechists for their time and energy. His Grace also encouraged all the catechists to continue with the good work and to engage in catechesis more creatively and effectively.

His Grace thanked all the delegates for their active participation in the meeting. The next MCC Meeting will be on 5th to 8th August 2019, and will be hosted by the Diocese of Penang.Sr Dariah Ajap, FSIC, MCC Member



Fr Jerry Rosario on the clerical sex abuse scandal

KOTA KINABALU – Among other topics discussed by Fr Jerry Rosario SJ at the interview with Catholic Sabah on 8 September 2018,  he admitted that the recent clerical sex abuse in the US Church and the shielding and snuffing out of evidence by the Church leaders have greatly saddened him.

Though grieved by the deplorable state of the Church’s affairs, he sees light in the dark tunnel.  “I pray it is a transitional phase and we would encounter the light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added “I thank God for a certain amount of openness and transparency that is coming into today’s Church.”

He philosophized “In the past, these scandals would have been swept under the carpet.  Today we are living in a modernized world, with full availability of media.  The Church is today beckoned “to own up in order to grow up”.

It is plausible for victims of any sexual harassment or assault to get justice that is due to them, said Fr Jerry.

As I see, continued the lawyer-priest, Pope Francis is doing his best to not only call for ecclesiastical court for internal investigation, but also keeping the Church open to civil external investigation.  This is seen to be a position of readiness to do justice to the victims.

To the ordained and consecrated, priests, seminarians, religious men and women,  Fr Jerry comments “If any clergy or seminarian, or those under formation for vowed life, find difficulty to live a celibate life, they should be helped to discern their vocation, and should be encouraged to give up their priestly or consecrated life for the sake of a married life, which is, for Catholics, a sacramental life. – Catholic Sabah



Pope: True freedom is not being a slave to one’s sins

Sin is “slavery of one’s ego”: “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on — are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them.” “Today it takes courage to get married”.

VATICAN CITY –  Sin, which is “slavery to one’s ego”, is what binds us more than anything else, because it forces us to look only at ourselves and makes us incapable of loving, which is true freedom. The day of rest as a memory of liberation was at the center of the reflection that Pope Francis addressed today to the participants in the general audience.

In fact, at the 30 thousand people present in St Peter’s Square, he spoke of the “day of rest, the prophecy of liberation”, inspired by the fact that in Deuteronomy, unlike Exodus, the reason for repose is not the blessing of creation, but the end of slavery. “On this day the slave must rest just like the master, to celebrate the memory of the Easter of liberation”.

In reality, the Pope continued, “there are so many types of slavery exist, be they interior or exterior.  There are the external constrictions such as oppressions, lives kidnapped by violence and by other types of injustice. Then there are the interior prisons, which are, for example, psychological blockages, complexes, limitations of character and others.”  History instead has offered us example of people who still succeeded in living this interior freedom despite exterior obstacles, “for example, of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or of Cardinal Van Thuan, who transformed dark oppressions into places of light. There are as well persons marked by great interior fragilities that, however, know the rest of mercy and are able to transmit it. God’s mercy liberates us”.

“So, what is true freedom? Does it consist, perhaps, in the freedom of choice?  This is certainly a part of freedom, and we commit ourselves so that it’s assured to every man and woman (Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 73). However, we know well that to be able to do what one wants isn’t enough to be truly free, and not even happy. True freedom is much more. In fact, there is a slavery that chains more than a prison, more than a panic crisis, more than an imposition of any kind: the slavery of one’s ego”.

“The ego can become a tormentor that tortures man wherever he is and procures for him the most profound oppression, that which is called “sin,” which isn’t the trivial violation of a code, but failure of the existence and condition of slaves”.

Francis then pointed out how “the greedy, the lustful, the avaricious, the irascible, the envious, the slothful, the arrogant — and so on —  are slaves of their vices, which tyrannize and torment them. There is no truce for the greedy, because the throat is the hypocrisy of the stomach, which is full but which makes us think that it’s empty. The hypocritical stomach makes us greedy. We are slaves of a hypocritical stomach. There is no truce for the greedy and the lustful that must live of pleasure; the anxiety of possession destroys the greedy, always piling up money, hurting others; the fire of wrath and the worm of envy ruins relationships. Writers say that envy makes the body and soul yellow, as when a person has hepatitis: he/she becomes yellow. The envious have a yellow soul, because they can never have the freshness of the health of the soul. Envy destroys”.

The real slave, concluded the Pope “is he that knows not rest? Who is incapable of loving! And all these vices, these sins, this egoism distance us from love and make us incapable of loving. We are slaves of ourselves and we can’t love, because love is always towards others”.

“The Third Commandment, which invites to celebrate liberation in rest, is for us Christians a prophesy of the Lord Jesus, who breaks the interior slavery of sin to render man capable of loving. True love is true freedom: it detaches from possession, rebuilds relationships, is able to welcome and value one’s neighbour, transforms every effort into joyful gift and renders one capable of communion. Love renders one free even in prison, even if one is weak and limited”.

Finally, in the greeting to the Italian faithful, Francis described the newlyweds as “brave” because, he said, “today it takes courage to marry”.Asia News


Barefoot priest facilitates Sabah clergy annual retreat

KOTA KINABALU – Arch/bishops, clergy and deacons from the three arch/dioceses of Sabah were given a rare treat for their mid-year retreat with a barefoot priest from Tamil Nadhu, India as their retreat master at Bundu Tuhan retreat centre from 10-14 September 2018.

Natives going barefoot are not rare in the villages, but to have one barefoot Catholic priest walking and ministering amongst his peers, albeit from overseas, is a rare occurrence.  Fr Jerry Rosario  has earned his accolade as the “barefoot priest” internationally not because of his personal gratification but because he has willingly and lovingly accepted to live like this – embracing poverty and extending solidarity with the marginalized.

Fr Jerry Rosario SJ has just two sets of shirts and slacks, walks barefooted, sleeps on a mat and travels only through public transport.  Short distances he covers through his bicycle.  No TV, no mobile phone, no computer.  No bank account, no wrist-watch even.  He is a living legend.  To his credit, he has written 76 books and numerous articles. (Foreword by Fr Antony Pancras in Perspectives, Possibilities, Practicalities of Leadership in the Light of the Life of Jesus)

This being his fifth retreat for Malaysian clergy, the Jesuit priest, who is also a professor, lawyer and social activist, finds Sabah unique and declares that he has put his “heart and soul” in facilitating the retreat exercises for the Sabah clergy.

Given the traditions, the clergy have got into a certain comfort zone.  “Nothing wrong about it” he was quick to add, “but when comforts and conveniences consume the life of the ordained and consecrated, they need to be looked into,” underlined Fr Jerry.

He invited them to respond to this concern in a pragmatic way – to say ‘no’ in their personal life, to be ready to go beyond themselves to “make a difference”, to be at the service of the people of God, particularly the least and the poorest.

To concretize their response, Fr Jerry suggested that they make an analysis of society crossing the boundary of Christianity, to read the signs of times in terms of socio, economics, political, cultural, religious and ideological systems of the State, based on which they should monitor the pastoral responses in order to make their ministries relevantized and radicalized.

Taking the opportunity of the presence of the social activist priest in the State, Catholic Sabah invited Fr Jerry to speak about the minorities aspect shared by Malaysian and Indian Christians.

“Each time that I visit Malaysia, I could vibrate with the Malaysian Church and Society because of the various similarities that exist between India and Malaysia,” said Fr Jerry.

He threw the spotlight on two related issues; a certain amount of “majority complex” happens in any country (religion, culture, language) and creates tension for the minorities.  However, attempts to understand should be made so that response could be made.  For example, certain dialogues (religious, cultural, inter-lingual, etc) between majorities and minorities be freely done in view of a new future where all can live in harmony.

Meanwhile, the emerging and young generations should be encouraged to “think out of the box” in order to enter into a Malaysian Church and Society based on a culture of solidarity.

Secondly, “If you inwardly look into Malaysia or India, we are not going to solve any problems.  We need to widen our horizon of vision in broadening Asia, if not the world at large,” said Fr Jerry, drawing from his sociological inspirations when looking at the bigger picture, the problems within the smaller confine will diminish.

Moving on to the Christian commitment in the political arena, Fr Jerry, founder-director of the Manitham movement in India for political analysis and action,  sees it as two-fold: religion and politics.  He said “In order to be an authentic and matured Christian, one should not be churchy.  In other word, we need to be launching out to bring into politics the values of the Gospel of Jesus – justice, freedom and love.” (In the political language, these values are highlighted as equality, liberty and fraternity.)

He added “If we keep away from politics saying that ‘that is unjust’, it would amount to sin of omission.  God’s kingdom has to be ushered in the totality of society.”

Since we have a new government and lots of expectation on the part of the people, the Malaysian Church can render its service in three ways: 1) It can continue to conscientize people at large, as well as the government, that the policies and programs must respond to the needs of people who are at the periphery of Malaysia; 2) As and when the government does well, the Malaysian Church should extend its appreciation, thereby accelerating the process of progress.  Likewise, when the government does a disservice, the Church must not hesitate to raise its voice in protest; and 3) The Malaysian Church can organize workshops and seminars at both parish and diocesan levels focusing on the political commitment of our Christian faith.

Fr Jerry has also spoken extensively, as well as written, on the fast-emerging concern of eco-protection and eco-promotion.  In total agreement and support of Pope Francis’ contribution to this eco-call in his apostolic encyclical “Laudato Si’”, the green activist said “We need to promote Nature, preserve Nature, and protect Nature because God sustains our life through Nature, through Creation.”

He offered three suggestions to live Creation Justice in our life: 1) To begin with, we should stop throwing away anything that could be reused; 2) We need to learn to recycle the materials that we use on daily basis; and 3) We need to replant whenever we have to cut a plant so as to maintain the balance in Creation.  Imbalance means injustice.  We need to plant justice.”

As he strives to respond to God beckoning him to be His Co-Missioner and entering into a new covenant with humanity and Creation, he has taken the lowest step in the ladder of the Indian caste system, that is to live in solidarity with the poorest of the poor and those who are side-lined in society, the Dalits or the ‘untouchables’.  They are not permitted to wear shoes in public places, hence Fr Jerry’s philosophy of going barefoot to be in solidarity with them is in order to labour with them for their integral development.

In the context of Malaysia, the Church can be more and more one of simplicity, spontaneity and sensitivity, and as such be in solidarity with the poorest of the poor who are the migrants, the internally displaced, the uneducated, the unemployed, the vulnerable elderly, the widowed, the orphaned, and the natives.

The Vision Statements of the Sabah dioceses emphasize on “communion of communities”.  In order to concretize that, we first need to be in communion with the abovementioned “poorest of the poor” or the marginalized sections.  This would then snowball into the other sections of the community.  Fr Jerry believes that preferential option for a priority service to the poorest of the poor is the need of the hour. – Catholic Sabah



When is a Catholic not a Catholic?

THE President of the Philippines, in a profanity-laden message, has declared he is no longer a Catholic. He claims to have been abused by a Jesuit as a teenager, and while that allegation can no longer be met with outraged disbelief, only God knows whether it is true.

Nobody with any knowledge of history will doubt that those who perceive themselves as ex-Catholics are by far the most severe critics of the Church. One can think of excusable reasons for this, but drawing broad conclusions from the extreme criticisms of ex-Catholics is a little like assuming objectivity in a man who has divorced his wife. If we look back on our own relationships from a more mature perspective, we will usually find that defects in our own perceptions and personalities made a significant contribution to our contempt for those we thought insufferable.

Men and women who truly cannot emotionally and intellectually separate the divine character of the Church from the sins of her members must either be damaged (to a degree which mitigates guilt) or suffer from a dramatically reduced spiritual self-awareness (which in most cases will be at least partially guilty).

Awareness of our own sinfulness and guilt arises not only from the action of the Holy Spirit but from simple self-reflection. This awareness is not only essential to spiritual growth but a prime factor in helping us to distinguish the Divine and human aspects of the Church. But for any Catholic who foolishly seeks to flee the Church, the question remains: How does a Catholic cease to be a Catholic?

Surprisingly, this has no simple theological answer, except the answer that ceasing to be a Catholic is not absolutely possible. In the same way, it is impossible for a member of the Church to cease in an absolute sense to be a member of the Church. It is true that in descriptive terms we can cease to be Catholic when we knowingly embrace heresy, reject the Church, or incur excommunication. But even in these apparently decisive cases we remain baptized. Baptism impresses something that we describe, for want of better language, as “an indelible mark” on the soul. That mark is the mark of membership in the Church. That mark, in every case whatsoever, is the mark of a Catholic.

So the most fundamental answer is that we cannot really cease to be Catholic, though we can sever what we might call our voluntary connection with the Church and/or severely damage our relationship with her. The Church by her own authority can recognize that damage through a decree of excommunication, even if we did not consciously intend that result. But excommunication simply eliminates access to the sacraments and other engraced ministries of the Church. It does not make one a non-Catholic; nor does it remove the excommunicated person from the Church’s jurisdiction. – Jeff Mirus @ catholicculture.org

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