Gandhi-Merton pilgrimage to promote non-violence
Methodists and Catholics mend historical rift
Reconciliation is at heart of ecumenical vision
New venture for Franciscans
Holy Shroud exhibition opens in Jerusalem
I had a dream
Proud service
Jesuit conference to explore faith challenges


Gandhi-Merton pilgrimage to promote non-violence

LOUISVILLE (RNS): Mahatma Gandhi launched his first campaign of non-violent direct action in South Africa on September 11, 1906.  To commemorate its centenary a five-day “Gandhi-Merton Pilgrimage for Peace and Non-Violence,” will be held in Kentucky, USA, this September.

The pilgrimage – aimed at drawing attention to the urgent need to find non-violent solutions to conflicts throughout the world -- will be led by noted peace activist Fr John Dear, SJ, and Phil Cousineau, awarding winning author of The Art of Pilgrimage.

Fifty pilgrims, representing the world’s great religions who are committed to non-violent work for peace and justice, will begin their journey on September 7, with a retreat at the Hindu Temple of Kentucky led by Fr Dear. They will spend the night at the Abbey of Gethsemani and begin their journey from Thomas Merton’s hermitage on September 8.

The pilgrimage will conclude on September 11 in Louisville, at a site where, on March 18, 1958, Merton had the famous realisation of his connectedness to and responsibility for all of humanity. That realisation symbolically marked the beginning of Merton’s work for peace and justice, work that earned him the title of “Conscience of the Peace Movement” in the 1960’s.

The pilgrimage is being organised by Interfaith Paths to Peace, an independent non-profit group in Louisville, Kentucky, whose mission is to bring together people of a variety of religious backgrounds for activities that foster deep dialogue. 


Methodists and Catholics mend historical rift

SEOUL (Reuters): Greater harmony among Christians, a key goal of Pope Benedict's papacy, took a step forward on Sunday when Methodist churches joined a landmark agreement that has brought Catholics and Lutherans closer together.

The World Methodist Council, which represents about 70 million believers, signed on to the 1999 agreement resolving the main theological dispute that led to the 16th-century Protestant Reformation and the splitting of western Christianity.

The move will have little practical effect for church-going Methodists, a denomination that split from Anglicanism.

Benedict is also seeking more cooperation with the Orthodox churches, the eastern Christians who split from Rome in the 11th century, and will visit their Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul in November.

"We welcome this agreement with great joy... It is our deep hope that in the near future we shall also be able to enter into closer relationships with Lutherans and the Roman Catholic Church," the World Methodist Council said in a statement.

"Today is one of the most significant dates in the history of our churches," Walter Kasper, Vatican cardinal in charge of the 1.1 billion-strong Catholic Church's relations with other Christian churches, said in Seoul.

Methodist leaders unanimously passed the resolution to join the Catholic-Lutheran agreement last week during a global conference in Seoul.

"The three parties commit themselves to strive together for the deepening of their common understanding of justification in theological study, teaching and preaching," the statement said.

by Kang Shinhye, reported by Swissinfo


Reconciliation is at heart of ecumenical vision

SEOUL:   Reconciliation is at the heart of the ecumenical vision, and can be a source of unity among churches and cultures, the World Council of Churches General Secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, has affirmed at an international Methodist gathering in Korea.

"It is because of God's reconciling work in Jesus Christ that unity is possible among Christians, among churches, among peoples of different cultures," Dr Kobia said in Claiming a Common Future, his keynote address to the 19th World Methodist Conference meeting in Seoul.

Referring to the WCC's long involvement in the search for peace and reconciliation, whether in post-war Europe, the divided Korean peninsula, South Africa or the Middle East, Dr Kobia quoted Nelson Mandela who, speaking to the WCC Assembly in 1998, said that "the most precious gift the church could offer the world today would be to enable the people to gain greater capacity for reconciliation".

Emphasising that the ecumenical movement is at a "turning point" in its history, Dr Kobia underlined the need for all churches to look to a common ecumenical future.

"The basic concerns and commitments remain those that inspired the women and men who brought the WCC to birth: commitment to Christian unity in faith and spirit, mission and evangelism, education and formation in discipleship, social action for justice and peace, dialogue with the contemporary world," he said.

The World Methodist Conference meets every five years and brings together more than 500 representatives of Methodist churches from more than 130 countries. Dr Kobia, a minister of the Methodist Church of Kenya, is the third general secretary of the WCC to come from the Methodist tradition.


New venture for Franciscans

BANGKOK: An assembly of Franciscan leaders has unanimously agreed to strengthen the work of the Franciscan NGO - Franciscans International - by opening an office of the NGO in Bangkok, regional headquarters of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific.  A full Asia Pacific office is likely to be functioning within three years.

Franciscans International is the only common ministry of the Franciscan family. The decision to open the office is seen as an important, new inter-Franciscan endeavor at the international level.

(media release and Franciscans International)


Holy Shroud exhibition opens in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (Zenit):  The Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem has opened a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Shroud of Turin.  The inauguration and blessing of the exhibition entitled "Who Is the Man of the Holy Shroud?" was presided over by Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine.

Highlights of the exhibition include a digitalised copy of the Holy Shroud exactly as it is in Turin, and a bronze sculpture by Italian sculptor Luigi Mattei, who has reconstructed in three dimensions the body of the man of the Holy Shroud. The sculpture shows for the first time the whole body imprinted on the linen.

The main objective of the exhibition, according to the institute, is to help those who pass through Jerusalem to reflect on and to appreciate the sufferings of Christ as stated in the Gospels and as they appear on the Holy Shroud.  The exhibition is open Mondays - Saturdays, from 9:30am - 12:30pm and from 4 - 8pm.


I had a dream: (that) the music of Palestrina and Gregory the Great had come back

ROMA:  The concert conducted in the Sistine Chapel at the end of June by maestro Domenico Bartolucci, in Benedict XVI’s honor and with his attendance, has certainly marked a turning point in the dispute over the role that music has, and will have, in the Catholic liturgy.

But for now, it is a merely symbolic turning point.

The new direction has been indicated with authority. “An authentic renewal of sacred music can only come follow in the pathway of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony,” Benedict XVI said on that occasion. This is a pope whose “great love for the liturgy, and thus for sacred music, is known to all”, Bartolucci emphasised in his greeting of introduction.

But the goal still seems a long way off. Bartolucci, in his nineties, is a first-rate witness to the misfortunes that have plagued sacred music over the past half century. An outstanding interpreter of Gregorian chant and of the polyphony of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, he is at the same time the victim of their near annihilation.

(full report, I had a dream by Sandro Magister)


Proud service

SYDNEY:  The St Vincent de Paul Society, one of the largest charitable organisations operating in Australia, has proudly celebrated 125 years of continuous service since the foundation of the first Vinnies conference in NSW.    

In 1881, the St Vincent de Paul Society comprised just four conferences, one diocese and 85 members who visited an average of 41 families per week.  Today, the St Vincent de Paul Society in  NSW/ACT comprises 559 conferences, 270 Vinnies centres, covering 11 dioceses and 65  regions and involving 21,000 dedicated members and volunteers who assist approximately 4215 people in need each  week.   

From early beginnings in Paris, the society’s then President-General, Adolphe Baudon requested that Irish Scot Charles Gordon O’Neill travel to Australia to work with the Marist Fathers to establish conferences of the St Vincent de Paul Society in key Australian cities.  O’Neill, a former New Zealand parliamentarian, talented engineer and architect, and one of the Society’s most fervent organisers, successfully established the first conference at St Patrick’s Church Hill on July 24, 1881.

The 125th anniversary was celebrated last Sunday with a commemorative Mass at St Patrick’s Church Hill, The Rocks, Sydney.


Jesuit conference to explore faith challenges

MELBOURNE:  More than 70 international Jesuits will meet at the Australian Catholic University (ACU National) to discuss challenges to those who preach the faith, missionary work, the importance of social justice and the idea of finding God in all things. The conference will also explore the role which music and art can play in teaching the faith.

Evangelization and Culture in a Jesuit Light, from July 28-30, will be co-hosted by the Jesuit Theological College, the Melbourne College of Divinity and ACU at the ACU Melbourne Campus, Fitzroy.




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