Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Congratulations to Trinidad and Tobago on 50 years independence - From Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI, sends Independence greetings to the people of Trinidad and Tobago on the occasion of 50 years independence from the England.

The message which was received by Port of Spain Archbishop Joseph Harris states:

"To His Excellency Dr George Maxwell Richards,
President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain.

"I am pleased to send cordial greetings to Your Excellency
and to all your fellow citizens
on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the nation's Independence Day.
Invoking Almighty God's abundant blessings upon your country,

"I pray that the people of Trinidad and Tobago
will continue to promote the common good in a spirit of peace,
justice, and solidarity."

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Churches in Guyana to oppose same-sex bill

Christian Church leaders in Guyana are opposing any moves by government to legalise same-sex relations.

A motion is currently before Guyana’s Parliament calling for a Special Select Committee to be established to determine the attitude of Guyanese of any changes in the legislative provisions and criminal code regarding consensual adult same-sex relationships and discrimination, perceived or real, against lesbians, gays, bi-sexual and transgender persons.

Representatives of the Guyana Evangelical Fellowship, the Georgetown Ministers Fellowship and the Guyana Council of Churches, of which the Catholic Church is a member, held a joint press conference on August 9 at which Desmond Rogers read a statement on behalf of those present in which homosexuality was described as an offence to religion. “It is evident that homosexuality is an offense to religion, morality and public convenience. It is an offense to religion and this is affirmed especially, but not solely, by the Christian and other religious communities of Guyana. It is an offense to morality, since it is wrong, both in contravention of religious principles and natural order and function”, the statement said.

The representatives of the Christian community who make up about 57 per cent of the population also beseeched Members of Parliament not to legalise same-sex relations. “As the servants of the living God, we implore you, Honorable Members of the Tenth Parliament of Guyana, not to pursue the decriminalisation of homosexuality. We are conscious of the political and economic pressure that you may experience or are experiencing and as such encourage you to: (i) preserve the sovereignty of our nation and (ii) preserve the integrity of family life which continues to be the bedrock of our society. We call upon all Guyana to roundly reject any move to legalise homosexuality,” the statement said.

The group plans to send copies of the full statement to members of Parliament and plans to hold their own public engagements and consultations across the country on the issue. They have already held two public seminars on homosexuality. The social networks are also being mobilised. A signature campaign and even a move to the United Nations are also being contemplated. - Catholic Standard

Catholics and Condoms

I came across an article by Mr Peter Laurie on the Barbados Newspaper web site "NATIONNEWS.COM". In his article Mr Laurie tells of the Catholic Church discussing the matter of contraceptives at the highest level in 1963:

In 1963, because of the popularity of the “pill”, John established a small commission to study birth control. After John’s death in 1963, his successor Paul VI vastly expanded the commission.

After three years of exhaustive examination and discussion, the commission in 1966 concluded by large majority – 30 of 35 lay members, 15 of 19 theologians, and nine of 15 bishops – that the ban on artificial contraception should be lifted and it should be left to married couples, inspired by Christian values, to determine what method of contraception to use. They argued that it was not each sexual act that had to be open to procreation but marriage in its entirety. They reasoned that the distinction between avoiding pregnancy in ways conforming to natural physiological processes and using an artificial intervention was not meaningful, since humans have always used medical technology to bring nature under their control.

The report was leaked to the Press and raised huge expectations among Catholics worldwide that the Vatican would lift the ban.

But a minority faction advised Paul that to support the commission would be admitting the Vatican had been in error: its authority would be irreparably undermined.

Paul heeded their advice, rejected the report, and in 1968 issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), reaffirming the traditional position.

Mr Laurie adds some stuff in there but basically tells the truth of what happened. From the website I came across an excerpt from "The Gift of Female Fertility: Church Teaching on Contraception" that tells about the begining of the movement for contraceptives:

Much of the theological debate surrounding contraception often takes place in a breathtaking vacuum of historical ignorance. While the story of explosive dissent over contraception has been told many times, it is usually framed in parochially Catholic terms: Pope John XXIII convened a commission to study birth control, and its advisory report to Pope Paul VI was leaked in 1967. The majority of the commission voted to change the Church’s teaching on contraception, making its case in the Majority Report, as well as in a rebuttal to the commission’s minority paper (the Majority Rebuttal). The Pope rejected the majority’s recommendations and issued Humanae Vitae (“On Human Life”) in 1968, which reaffirmed traditional teaching but unleashed a firestorm of protest and dissent.(9)

The larger historical context is missing from this account: why was there such a revolution in elite and public opinion about birth control, and what ignited it? The Catholic debate would not have been possible if it weren’t for the widespread reexamination of the morality of birth control that began to be debated in America in the 1920s.

In order to understand this history of contraception, necessary for a critical appraisal of the now-dominant contraceptive ideology, one must understand Margaret Sanger (1879~1966), the American birth-control pioneer. Sanger was a committed neo-Malthusian.

The neo-Malthusian movement followed the now-discredited population theories of Thomas Malthus (1766~1834). Malthus had erroneously argued that population growth would inevitably outpace food production. The “neo” part of the movement involved promoting population control not through sexual abstinence, for which Malthus had argued, but through contraception. Neo-Malthusians were also eugenicists.

Eugenics is the belief that some people (the “unfit”) are genetically inferior and should not perpetuate their “subpar” genes by having children. Opinion varies about who counts as “unfit”: for example, the Nazis insisted that Jews were unfit, while others (such as Sanger) never evinced anti-Semitism. But all eugenicists agree on three categories of “unfitness”: the poor, the physically disabled, and the mentally or intellectually disabled.

Neo-Malthusians tied together Malthus’s population control with eugenics. One of the neo-Malthusian eugenic slogans was “quality, not quantity”--that is, eugenic quality, not population quantity.

Sanger developed a worldview that I call the “ideology of control,” which promoted three types of control: birth control, population control, and eugenic control. All of these were put in service of Sanger’s other passion, an untrammeled pursuit of sexual pleasure. Sanger insisted that women would be liberated through a free-ranging sex life coincident with eugenically limited reproduction. She was not the only, or even the first, person to link these concerns, but she was the most important because she institutionalized them in her powerful organization. She founded America’s first birth-control clinic in 1916, the earliest incarnation of the organization now called the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The same Pauline website notes that "Margaret Sanger and the dominant culture give one answer to the question of what is bad for us: female fertility. By contrast, the Church argues that it is not the female body that oppresses women and girls, but rather that deformed desire is at the heart of all sin--and thus all oppression."

"If deformed desire is bad for us, healed desire, put in the service of self-giving love, is good for us. How do we develop such love? Periodic abstinence involved in natural family planning heals desire in a way that contraception cannot. Desire is in itself not immoral; by nature, we are creatures who physically desire, because we have bodies with senses that detect what is pleasurable. But desire must be fully human: it has to be directed by our intelligence and freedom. Some training of sexual desire is necessary in order that it find its right place."

So there are opposing views, even in the Catholic church - forty years ago, and today.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Eid Mubarack to my muslim friends

L'observatore Romano published an article entited "message at the end of Ramadan
Educating young people for justice and peace"

For the end of Ramadan, the Muslim season for fasting and worship, on the feast of 'Id al-Fitr 1433 H. / 2011 A.D., Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, Secretary, sent a message in 31 different languages to the Muslim community on the theme: "Educating young Christians and Muslims for justice and peace". The following is the English text of the message.

Dear Muslim friends,
1. The celebration of 'Id al-Fitr, which concludes the month of Ramadan, accords us at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue the joy of presenting to you warm greetings.
We rejoice with you for this privileged time which gives you the opportunity to deepen obedience to God, by fasting and other pious practices, a value equally dear to us.
This is why, this year, it seemed opportune to us to focus our common reflection on the education of young Christians and Muslims for justice and peace, that are inseparable from truth and freedom.

2. If the task of education is entrusted to the whole of society, as you know, it is first and foremost, and in a particular way, the work of parents and, with them, of families, schools and universities, not forgetting about those responsible for religious, cultural, social, and economic life, and the world of communication. It is an enterprise which is both beautiful and difficult: to help children and young people to discover and to develop the resources with which the Creator has endowed them with and to build responsible human relationships. Referring to the task of educators, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI recently affirmed: "For this reason, today more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts.... A witness is someone who first lives the life that he proposes to others. (Message for World Day of Peace" 2012). Besides, let us also remember that the young themselves are responsible as well for their own education and for their formation for justice and peace.

3. Justice is determined first of all by the identity of the human person, considered in his or her entirety; it cannot be reduced to its commutative and distributive dimension. We must not forget that the common good cannot be achieved without solidarity and fraternal love! For believers, genuine justice, lived in the friendship with God, deepens all other relationships: with oneself, with others and with the whole of creation. Furthermore, they profess that justice has its origin in the fact that all men are created by God and are called to become one, single family. Such a vision of things, with full respect for reason and openness to transcendence, urges all men and women of good will, inviting them to harmonize rights and duties.

4. In the tormented world of ours, educating the young for peace becomes increasingly urgent. To engage ourselves in an adequate manner, the true nature of peace must be understood: that it is not limited to the mere absence of war, or to a balance between opposing forces, but is at one and the same time a gift from God and a human endeavour to be pursued without ceasing. It is a fruit of justice and an effect of charity. It is important that believers are always active in the communities they belong to: by practising compassion, solidarity, collaboration and fraternity, they can effectively contribute towards addressing the great challenges of today: harmonious growth, integral development, prevention and resolution of conflicts, to name just a few.

5. To conclude, we wish to encourage young Muslim and Christian readers of this Message to cultivate truth and freedom, in order to be genuine heralds of justice and peace and builders of a culture which respects the dignity and the rights of every citizen. We invite them to have patience and tenacity necessary for realizing these ideals, never resorting to doubtful compromises, deceptive short-cuts or to means which show little respect for the human person. Only men and women sincerely convinced of these exigencies will be able to build societies where justice and peace will become realities.

May God fill with serenity and hope, the hearts, families and communities of those who nurture the desire of being 'instruments of peace'!
Happy Feast to you all!
From the Vatican, 3 August 2012

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Caribbean Catholic Visits Moruga and the Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer

ON August 1st, I went to Moruga. It is a district on the Southern coast of the isle of Trinidad. Here Columbus' men landed and Columbus named the island on August 1st 1498. So the people living here do an annual re-enactment of Columbus' landing. This year (2012) they unveiled a statue of Columbus.

About Moruga: The main villages within the Moruga district (heading south from Princes Town) are Indian Walk, Fifth Company, Preau (St Mary's), Cachipe, Rock River, Basse Terre, Bois Jean Jean, Grand Chemin, La Lune and Marac, with the last three communities located on the coast. Basse Terre has the largest population and Grand Chemin is the location of the major government buildings such as the local police station, library and public health facility.

Princes Town was originally founded as the Amerindian Mission of Savana Grande, the town was renamed after the 1880 visit by Queen Victoria's grandsons, Prince Albert and Prince George (later King George V). The Princes each planted a poui tree at the Anglican church in the area, which still survives to this day.

Fifth Company Village was settled by Freed African Slaves who fought for the British in the American war of 1812. Read more about the village at the end of this post.

The drive through Princes town to Moruga was scenic and beautiful. The rolling hills were such a sight. After driving for 90 minutes from the Capital (port of Spain, I was tired and so when I saw the sea, the church and a Statue of Saint Peter, I was so happy. (Image Below).

What a magnificent Statue it is.

The Church is over 100 years old. It was built on the beach and was constructed with Sea Sand.

The Church is called "The Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer". Vincent Ferrer,(23 January 1350 – 5 April 1419) was a Valencian Dominican friar, who gained acclaim as a missionary and a logician. He was canonized by Pope Calixtus III on 3 June 1455.

The Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer only one of the many Catholic Churches in the district. It and the Presbytery are located in the village of Crand Chem. Other villages in the area also have catholic churches which are served by the area Parish Priest - La Lune (St Monica), Marac (St. Martin), Basseterre (St Anthony)
Santa Maria and Rock River (St. Mary).

This is the Cornerstone of the Church.

And what is a Catholic Church without the Virgin?

You can barely see the beautiful painting on the ceiling of the tower. This was painted by the Michael Angelo of Moruga, school teacher Eric Lewis.

And how pretty is the inside of this church?

On the right of the photo is Father Baskar Jayasaleen. This very nice priest an ethnic Tamil. This ethnic group is native to Pondichery, Tamil Nadu, India and the north-eastern region of Sri Lanka. So he has come to Trinidad from very far away to follow missionary life. Perhaps then, it is no wonder that He and his assistant priest Fr Karuna Kumar, are priests of the order "Missionaries of Saint Francis De Sales"

On the way out of Moruga we came across this tiny munitions bunker.

The Sign says it all.

FIFTH COMPANY VILLAGE: According to Wikipedia: Fifth Company Village, was settled in 1816 by the fifth of six companies of Black American soldiers. These were ex-slaves who had helped the British fight during the American war of 1812, and therefore when the British lost the war they could not remain in that country. The British Secretary of State for the Colonies approved the sending of six companies to be settled in Trinidad. The Governor of Trinidad, Sir Ralph Woodford, decided the best place to settle them was in the thickly forested area near to a former Spanish mission to the natives called La Misión de Savana Grande (later to be known as Princes Town).

The soldiers and their women and children numbered 574 persons. They were disillusioned on their arrival to find that they were in a wilderness instead of being in fine homes as they were promised. They never forgave Woodford for the deception but had to set out busily to establish homes for themselves. The hard-working black American soldiers transformed the area into plantations of cocoa, coffee, and sugar-cane.

There six company villages (1st Company, 2nd Comapny, etc).

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Columbus landing re-enacted by Moruga villagers - Trinidad 2012 #1

I saw three ships come sailing in.... it is a little known fact, that the three ships Columbus sailed on his third exploratory voyage were named: Santa María de Guía, the Vaqueños, and the Correo.

The following is taken from Classic
The Life of Christopher Columbus by Edward Everett Hale

On the thirty-first of July, they made land, which proved to be the cape now known as Galeota, the southeastern cape of the island of Trinidad. The country was as green at this season as the orchards of Valencia in March. Passing five leagues farther on, he lands to refit his vessels and take on board wood and water. The next day a large canoe from the east, with twenty-four men, well armed, appeared.

The Admiral wished to communicate with them, but they refused, although he showed them basins and other things which he thought would attract them. Failing in this effort, he directed some of the boys of the crew to dance and play a tambourine on the poop of the ship. But this conciliatory measure had as little success as the other. The natives strung their bows, took up their shields and began to shoot the dancers. Columbus stopped the entertainment, therefore, and ordered some balls shot at them, upon which they left him. With the other vessel they opened more friendly communication, but when the pilot went to Columbus and asked leave to land with them, they went off, nor were any of them or theirs seen again.

On his arrival at Punta de Icacocos, at the southern point of Trinidad, he observes the very strong currents which are always noticed by voyagers, running with as much fury as the Guadalquiver in time of flood. In the night a terrible wave came from the south, "a hill as high as a ship," so that even in writing of it he feels fear. But no misfortune came from it.

Sailing the next day, he found the water comparatively fresh. He is, in fact, in the current produced by the great river Orinoco, which affects, in a remarkable way, all the tide-flow of those seas. Sailing north, he passes different points of the Island of Trinidad, and makes out the Punta de la Pena and the mainland. He still observes the freshness of the water and the severity of the currents.

Columbus landing re-enacted by Moruga villagers - Trinidad 2012 #2

The Spaniards land and overpower the natives.
The Parish Priest blesses the Island of Trinidad.

Columbus landing re-enacted by Moruga villagers - Trinidad 2012 #3

The Statue of Columbus is unveiled.