Though Catholics represent only 1.6 percent of the population, India is so big that this works out to a sizeable Catholic community of 17.6 million. The Church is divided into three rites: Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, and the Latin rite. The Syro-Malabar rite has an estimated four million adherents, the Syro-Malankara about 500,000, and the rest belong to the Latin Rite.
In many ways, Indian Catholicism is thriving. The Church is growing at a rate ahead of overall population growth, and by 2050 there could be almost 30 million Catholics, which would place India among the twenty largest Catholic nations on earth, roughly on a par with Germany in terms of its Catholic population. Outside its traditional base in the south, Catholicism is also expanding in the northeast. In the state of Arunachal Pradesh on the eastern border with China, where Catholicism arrived barely 25 years ago, there are today 180,000 Catholics out of a total population of 800,000.
A noteworthy point about Catholic demography in India is the disproportionate share of Dalits, or untouchables. Estimates are that somewhere between 60 and 75 percent of Indian Catholics are Dalits, who often see Christianity as a means of protesting the caste system and of affiliating with a social network to buffer its effects.
Catholicism enjoys wide respect across India for its network of schools, hospitals and social service centers. When Mother Teresa died in 1997, the Indian government afforded her a state funeral, only the second private citizen after Mahatmas Gandhi to receive the honor. Her casket was born by the same military carriage which carried Gandhi’s remains in 1948.
Yet the Catholic community in India also faces steep challenges, among them the rise of aggressive Hindu nationalism. Radical Hindu movements often claim that Christians engage in duplicitous missionary practices in an effort to “Christianize” India. Though by most accounts the Hindu nationalists represent a tiny fraction of the population, they have the capacity to create tremendous grief.
Organized radical groups today sometimes move into Christian villages, preaching a gospel of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, and urge people to take part in “reconversion” ceremonies. These groups also routinely stage counter-festivals during Christmas celebrations. Fear of a Christian takeover is pervasive; in 2001, when Italian-born Sonia Gandhi ran in national elections, one national newspaper carried the headline, “Sonia – Vulnerable to Vatican blackmail!”
Sometimes, as in the recent case of Orissa, these tensions turn violent. In 2006, for example, Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore and two priests were attacked by a mob in Jalahally, 10 miles south of Bangalore. The three clerics had come to inspect the same after St. Thomas Church and St. Claret School in Jalhally had been sacked by Hindu nationalists. Members of Catholic religious orders are also exposed. In April 1995, nationalists cracked the skulls of two nuns in a convent on the outskirts of New Delhi; another mob broke into a residence of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Angels and beat the five sisters, along with their maid, using iron rods.
As the Catholic population continues to swell in India, and as India emerges as global superpower, these challenges are likely to occupy a growing share of time and attention in Rome and around the Catholic world.
In particular, American Catholic leaders may increasingly find themselves pressed to persuade the United States government to take a more activist role in defending religious freedom in India, just as they have in recent years in China. If so, Catholic leaders may be on a collision course with emerging U.S. political and economic calculations.
India with as many Catholics as Germany - interesting.
Of course, in terms of all Christians , India is already the 7th largest Christian nation in the world and will have risen to #5 by 2025 with 107 million Christians and 137 million Christians by 2050. If true, Catholics will make about 29% of the Christians of India in 2050.
And to put it all in perspective: It is estimated that by 2050, non-Hispanic "white" Christians will only make up 1/5 of the world's Christians.
"In effect, Jesus' whole mission was aimed at giving the Spirit of God to men and baptizing them in the 'bath' of regeneration," the Pope said. "This was realized through his glorification, that is, through his death and resurrection: Then the Spirit of God was poured out in a super-abundant way, like a waterfall able to purify every heart, to extinguish the flames of evil and ignite the fire of divine love in the world.
"The Acts of the Apostles present Pentecost as a fulfillment of such a promise and therefore as the crowning moment of Jesus' whole mission. After his resurrection, he himself ordered his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, because, he said, 'In a short time you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit'; and he added: 'You will have the power of the Holy Spirit, who will descend upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Galilee and Samaria unto the ends of the earth.'"
Benedict XVI said that Pentecost is thus, "in a special way, the baptism of the Church who undertakes her universal mission beginning from the streets of Jerusalem with prodigious preaching in the different languages of humanity." "In this baptism of the Holy Spirit," the Pope continued, "the personal and communal dimensions -- the 'I' of the disciple and the 'we' of the Church -- are inseparable. The Spirit consecrates the person and at the same time makes him a living member of the mystical body of Christ, participant in the mission to witness to his love."
This consecration and insertion into the mystical body of Christ, "is actualized through the sacraments of Christian initiation: baptism and confirmation," he said.
"In my message for World Youth Day 2008, I invited young people to rediscover the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and, therefore, the importance of these sacraments," the Holy Father added. "Today I would like to extend this invitation to everyone: Let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us be aware again of our baptism and of our confirmation, sources of grace that are always present."
There's the internet as spiritual agora (as Mark Shea calls it):
"Well, major religious traditions, all of them have websites. Then you get new age religions, so lots of pagan websites and you get lots of witch websites and so on. Then you also get lots of religious healing sites, sects and cults are on the internet. There also very productive websites, such as interface dialogue discussions between faith tradition. So it can be a space where there is a lot of diversity and tolerance.
And then a fascinating question that receives a pretty limp answer that would be phrased more cautiously in the much more religious American context, I think.
Is it that religion is changing? Or is it just taking on a new form of communication?
"This is a very good question and it’s one of THE questions – does the internet change the nature of religion and religious practice?
I think the answer to that has to be yes. I mean, first of all, there’s the question of the internet itself. It is a kind of mysterious technology. It’s a form of virtual or cyber space – we can’t see it. It isn’t magic – so how does it happen that we can connect up with people that live so far away from us in less than a second? So there’s a question about whether the internet itself is a kind of religious experience and may encourage people to believe in something that doesn’t exist. Then there’s another question about whether people can have religious experiences on the internet using some of the sites."
Dr. McPhillips is pretty obviously more familiar with "non-traditional" religions like internet only Jedi faith:
"What I know about is the New Age sites and I think they’re using them for a lot of different things. You can set up your own website for starters and you can advertise yourself and your religious preferences. But I think for information, to join a group, to do healing practices and also to have fun. You can access things like an Ouija board, so the black arts are there as well. I mean some religious groups only have an existence on the internet and there I’m particularly thinking about Jedi Religion. Now I don’t know if you recall but in the early 2000s (2001 Census) 70 000 Australian nominated Jedi religion as their religious practice and it was a phenomenon that also happened in other Western countries like Britain. From that developed a number of internet sites on Jedi religion so you can actually join a group and become a Jedi Master or practice some of the more esoteric practices associated with Jediism."
And this startlingly hostile phrase from the interviewer:
"In what has been termed by some as the Big Prey Out, over 60 000 Aussies from outside of Sydney will join double that from all over the world in this years World Youth Day."
I googled "Big Prey Out" and got almost no results so its not exactly a household phrase even in Australia. So "some" must be the interviewer's circle of friends.
And finally a description of the digital prayer wall by Jim Hanna, the WYD spokesman:
"The other thing that I think most people are finding very innovative is an idea we got when U2 were out here the last time, where you could text your phone number to a particular number and you could see your name come up on the big screen at the event. Well what we want to do is do that in a Catholic sort of way. Often people want other people to pray for something, some intention or other, it could be world peace, it could be freedom from hunger, it could be for a sick relative, it could even be for their footy team to win – and Lord knows I’ve been doing a lot of praying for my team! They had a win last week so that’s good – it does work everyone! So what we’re doing is a Digital Prayer Wall where you can text your prayer to a particular number and it will come up on the screen where a couple of hundred people are gathered. It’s great to know that at least some of the people in that crowd would all being praying for that same intention. It gives people a sense of warmth and reassurance. So that’ll be a first and hopefully that will be something that continues on to the next WYD."
What strikes me is the difference in tone and language from what would be in such an interview in the US. There's almost no obviously religious language and its all so vague. Is there little or no popular religious culture that one can tap into?
If not, you can see why Cardinal Pell is so controversial. In the US, he'd be conservative. in Australia, he's an earthquake.
There has been much talk in Australia this past week about the fact that registration for WYD is falling seriously short of the numbers expected - and the very substantial financial losses involved. Luxury hotels had reserved thousands of rooms and almost none have been taken. How might this be affected by the economic downturn, oil prices, etc?
The WYD coordinators projected 250,000 pilgrims but right now only 123,000 have signed up and only 30,000 of those are Australian. Almost as many Americans have signed up as have Australians so far. WYD organizers insist that many young people sign up late and that they still expect to make their 250,000 target.
Only 30,000 Australians registered so far? Now that I find startling.
There are about 5 million Catholics in Australia but recent national surveys show that only 13 - 15% attend Mass once a month (which is the criteria for "practicing" in Australia). so 750,000 practicing Catholics. And 30,000 Aussie pilgrims so far,
I'm going to continue to watch this whole situation. Australia is the least historically Catholic and least religiously observant country that has hosted a World Youth Day. How will that affect the impact?
In Colorado, they are still talking about the profound impact that Denver's World Youth Day has had. But do we have a sense of the long term impact in Toronto, for instance? Anyone know?
"Christ’s entire mission is summed up in this: to baptise us in the Holy Spirit, to free us from the slavery of death and ‘to open heaven to us’, that is, access to the true and full life that will be ‘a plunging ever anew into the vastness of being, in which we are simply overwhelmed with joy’. "
(Spe Salvi, 12).” Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus Reflection, L’Osservatore Romano, 16/01/08).
"One story Fr Elias tells is of a woman troubled with some mental problem who came to see one of the priests he taught (having already tried the Buddhists, Fortune Tellers and so on). He didn’t know what to do but he laid his hands on her and said an Our Father. The woman was instantly healed and she asked, “Who healed me?” “Jesus,” said the priest, and then he told her about him. She was later baptised and became a powerful evangelical voice in the parish. Whenever she came across people who were sick or disturbed she told them that Jesus would heal them if they keep his word. She has apparently brought some 200 to faith this way. And the parish priest says that his parish is now “on fire”."
Read the whole article. It gives a good overview of the complexity of the Church's situation in China.
Planted my wildflower bed early this morning before going to Mass. Spent several hours raking up leaves, hauling mulch, and whacking mystery plants that must go.
Revising Making Disciples yet again - not a huge revision but the usual pre-event tweaks. And we are finishing up a total overhaul of our Called & Gifted teacher training for June.
Most interestingly, Fr. Mike and I will be spending two days this week in a informal gathering with leaders of two graduate schools of theology and another national/international ministry exploring the possibility of collaboration between our four organizations. Your prayers for this meeting on Wednesday and Thursday would be greatly appreciated as we explore what God might have for us.
The meeting is happening in my house so I need to clean! (The domestic aspects of life have been getting minimal attention for a long time, I'm afraid. )
On the spur of the moment, I did a Google video search under the world "Pentecost". The first video up was this:
The experience of an Eskimo Anglican parish in Alaska in 1999.
What struck me and added a sense of authenticity to it is that the word that several witnesses used of the impact was "humbling" and the desire to ask for purity and cleansing of the heart. Be sure and watch to the end.
(And before you even go there - no, I am not trying to make the case that this is what Catholic Masses should be like.)
I'm just wondering at the mysterious and wonderful way God works with people. If he filled Cornelius with the Holy Spirit before he was baptized, surely he can visit a small group of Anglican Eskimos in a surprising way.
The humble heart is one that God loves to dwell in. What, I wonder, has been the long term fruit, because that is always the test.
The embed html does not seem to work - so go here:
I have written before about Steve Bigari, a businessman/entrepreneur in Colorado Springs who is working to end poverty among the working poor. Here's a YouTube movie that gives a brief story about America's Family
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;?there are different forms of service but the same Lord;?there are different workings but the same God ?who produces all of them in everyone.?To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit?is given for some benefit.??As a body is one though it has many parts,?and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,?so also Christ. I Cor 12:4-7, 12
Steve is using his gifts to build up the body of our society. God bless you, Mr. Bigari!
"The title references Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Ecclesia in America in which he writes that all church goals and ministries must be rooted in a "fresh encounter with Jesus Christ." Unless there is in each person a deep encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, the efforts of the faithful, however well-intentioned, will not bear fruit.
Even in Southern California, where Catholic parishes are vital and vibrant, says Cardinal Mahony, there is still an ongoing concern that many people feel they lack a transformative, personal encounter with Christ.
Evangelization is the primary mission of Christ and of the Church. As such, delegates to the archdiocesan Synod (concluded in 2003) endorsed "Evangelization and 'the New Evangelization'" as the first pastoral initiative to govern all planning and activities in this Archdiocese for the coming years.
To this end, the Synod and the pastoral letter on evangelization identify three levels of evangelization. "First, evangelization entails allowing one's own heart to be seized and saturated by the Gospel, responding to the call to lifelong conversion to Christ by the gift of the Spirit.
"Second, evangelization requires reaching out to others to proclaim in word and deed the Reign of God.
"Third, evangelization demands that the values of the Reign of God, a reign of truth, holiness, justice, love and peace, permeate each and every culture, transforming every sphere of life."
"New evangelization" signifies efforts to re-evangelize under-catechized, inactive and alienated Catholics as well as efforts by active Catholics to allow Christ "to touch the unconverted corners of our lives."
I can feel the cynical reactions of some readers from here - and I have some of my own. As we begin working more and more with dioceses, it is becoming clear how much more complicated it is to really accomplish something at the diocesan level than at the parish level. And for many reasons - not just the usual suspects that get bandied around St. Blog's so readily.
Part of it is that Bishops and diocesan staff aren't implementers. They can prevent things from happening by not giving permission but it is much tougher to make something new happen. Diocesan leaders, even and especially a Bishop, are very dependent upon the good will and cooperation of the real implementers who are at the parish level.
Bishops can order. They can mandate - but it still won't be done well and fruitfully without the enthusiastic cooperation of pastors and parish leaders. Who are already up to their eyeballs in a thousand other commitments even if they would normally be interested.
So Pastoral letters are good. They encourage and give the official seal of approval to various critical initiatives like evangelization. But making evangelization actually happen? We'll see.
Just returned from a little meander through the garden (latte in hand, naturlich)
May. Daffodils I planted last fall in bloom. Tulips I planted last fall about to burst into glory. Perennials that I planted last year coming back with vigor in the bed on top the stone wall that Fr. Mike and my army of clerical slaves built. Aspens and the trees we planted last year breaking into leaf. Grass we laid last summer greening up. Cool, sunny morning and fresh snow on the mountains.
The gardener's reward at long last. And from here, it all looks so natural and effortless.
As the first soft light of another Rocky mountain dawn fills the sky, I'm considering whether or not it is time for my daily home-made latte. (We grind our own beans. Can't help it - I'm from Seattle. The mothership. Latteland.)
Which reminds me that I want to make sure that you know about Mystic Monk Coffee which supports an up and coming Carmelite men's monastery in Wyoming.
Fair Trade Ethiopian? De-caf Chocolate Mint? Mystic chant? Have a prayer request? The real monks of the Carmel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary can help you. They have a definite ease with the new technology and a sense of humor. (They solemnly inform the reader that monks discovered coffee)
As they put it:
"Catholics must learn solidarity and the monks hope that Mystic Monk Coffee will help in this endeavor. To think that catholic money spent every day on coffee could go to a catholic cause through a catholic coffee. The monks have 40 young men discerning a vocation. Wy can't catholic coffee money go to support catholic vocations? Thus the monks hope that this catholic coffee Mystic Monk Coffee will help them continue to flourish through Catholics choosing to use their catholic coffee dollar for Christ and his catholic church.
Every catholic monastery has its own manual labor, a way to support itself by its own hands. Then it usually sells what it makes as its monastery gift item. Coffee is unique in that Catholics everywhere drink coffee daily. So this is a monastery gift for every day of the year. Catholics should find this as another way to integrate the church into their daily lives, through catholic coffee. Every morning as they sip their coffee, why not think of the church and say a morning offering to Christ? The reality that this catholic coffee could help catholic culture is true. Catholics need a culture to sink their roots in and Mystic Monk Coffee hopes to be a big part of this endeavor with the monastery gifts of a catholic coffee."