JANUARY 18, 2009, Vol 59, No 2

This article looks at the history of the Church’s social teachings and explains how the Church helps Catholics respond to relevant social issues of the day.

IN RECENT years, several Church leaders around the world, including Archbishop Nicholas Chia, have called the Catholic Social Teachings one of the best kept secrets of the Church. Why is this so? After all, our social teachings which tell how Catholics should relate to our fellow men, emanate from the Bible. Jesus had asked all of us “to love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Well, the challenge is how do we realise and live this commandment of Jesus, especially in today’s society?

Some 850 Cambodian children are running around with "happy feet" because a group of young adults from Singapore provided them with footwear for Christmas.

WHEN CLOSE FRIENDS Deborah Chew and Grace Chia went to Siem Reap for a vacation in June 2007, they brought along some slippers to give to children at a village they visited. Seeing that the majority of the children went around without footwear, Ms Chew and Ms Chia were saddened that they didn’t bring enough slippers for all. It was then that they decided to do more.
RECENTLY I WAS able to verify once again that there are disasters far more devastating than the Wall Street type, and that there are also more important recoveries. There is, in fact, genuine hope out there and "change we can believe in" – especially the kind that happens one person, and one heart at a time.

"They are giving of themselves to bring about peace in our society and the world. They live the life of poverty and are detached, showing by way of example, not to be materialistic. Through their vow of chastity, they show that things of the world are not to be counted, and instead consecrate themselves to God and to others. Their vow of obedience shows that they are not egoistic, but do things for the Lord." – Archbishop Nicholas Chia, praising golden jubilarians Sisters Anna Ong, Mary Siluvainathan and Mary Tan, and silver jubilarian Sister Theresa Seow

As more than 130 countries celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the Vatican also turned its gaze toward the heavens

VATICAN CITY – The International Year of Astronomy, which began Jan 1, was established by the United Nations to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first use of the telescope to observe the cosmos.
The Vatican also is celebrating the star-studded jubilee year, as the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Observatory and other Vatican offices participate in several special initiatives.

FOR MANY YOUNG BOYS, the prospect of playing for what is arguably the greatest football club in the world is what dreams are made of, and for Manchester United defender John O’Shea, the dream came true.

The former altar boy from the parish of Ferrybank, in Co Waterford, took time out from his busy training schedule recently to chat with The Universe.

O’Shea has never shied away from his Catholic upbringing in Ireland and he can regularly be seen attending Mass at the parish of St. Joseph’s in Sale, Cheshire.

TWELVE VERBUM DEI Missionaries from Singapore and a group from Sydney went on an eight-day mission trip to Tagaytay City, Philippines recently.

There, they helped farming families plant lettuce and clear pineapple ?elds in the mornings; and in the afternoons they went to squatter areas to teach English, Art, Mathematics and Hygiene to children (photo), and distributed snacks to them.

Cyclone Nargis killed more than 170,000 people and left many more homeless. Among the survivors were some children whom a team from Family Life Society counselled and recently revisted.

AS I ENTERED the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sisters’ house in a village in Myanmar, I saw a young girl decorating trees with drawings done by children during a four-day workshop.

A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Jan 6A Palestinian medic carries the body of a girl killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Jan 6VATICAN CITY – As the assault by Israel on Gaza continued, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, called for an immediate cease-?re to allow the wounded and their physicians to reach the region’s hospitals.

“Caritas calls for action from the United States, the European Union and the international community to press for an immediate cease-?re to enable the sick and wounded to be treated,” said the cardinal.

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian Catholic newspaper The Herald has threatened legal action against Malaysia’s government after being told to stop publishing its Malay language edition in a row over its use of the word “Allah”, according to news agency AFP.
The Herald, circulated among the country’s 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the word “Allah” as a translation for “God”, with authorities saying “Allah” should be used only by Muslims.

SINGAPORE – Jesuit Father Charles Sim will be going to Sydney to complete his ?nal phase of Jesuit formation, and thereafter to study for a Ph.D in the U.S.

His position as President of Family Life Society (FLS), a position he has held since 2005.  The President of FLS has yet to be appointed by Archbishop Nicolas Chia. Bernard Yu was recently appointed Honorary Executive Director of FLS. Mr Yu is married with four children and sees his work at FLS as a mission rather than a job. He was recently appointed Honorary Executive Director of FLS.

SINGAPORE – For John Seah who is in his 50s, working in a company full of Protestants eager to question him on his faith, apologetics – the art of explaining his Catholic faith – is an almost daily affair.

As such, he was very glad that the two-day intensive camp organised by the Apostolate for Catholic Truth (ACT), a lay organisation comprising lay people who are eager to explain and defend Catholic teaching, was both “well presented and well researched”.

SINGAPORE – Several youths preparing for their stint in National Service (NS) had the opportunity to voice their anxieties and to seek the advice of Catholics who had gone through the process.

The session was organised by Captain Paul Lee, a full-time staff from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and a member of the Catholic Military Apostolate. It was held at Church of St. Ignatius.

The small-group session enabled the pre-enlistees to share their concerns regarding NS and to freely interact with the facilitators.

SINGAPORE – Church of St. Stephen parish priest Father John Khoo welcomes Dr Fatimah Lateef (Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC and Adviser to Geylang Serai Inter-Racial and Religious Con?dence Circle) to a Christmas Pageant and Midnight Mass (photo). Accompanying Dr Lateef were 20 members of the circle.

SINGAPORE – The 2009 red packets for Chinese New Year produced by the China Catholic Communication (Zhonglian Centre) have a picture of ?ve loaves (pineapple tarts) and two ?shes on the cover to depict the parable of the ?ve loaves and two ?shes.

SINGAPORE – Youth choirs from four parishes combined their talents to produce the concert titled “Juventus” at the Victoria Concert Hall on Dec 19. In addition to entertaining and uplifting the audience, among whom was Archbishop Nicholas Chia, the concert provided an opportunity for the youth to forge friendships, share experiences and gain exposure to different types of sacred music.
During the jubilee celebrations of four Canossian sisters on Jan 1, Archbishop Nicholas Chia praised golden jubilarians Sisters Anna Ong, Mary Siluvainathan and Mary Tan, and silver jubilarian Sister Theresa Seow for giving of themselves, through the consecrated life, to bring about peace in our society and the world.