JANUARY 30, 2011, Vol 61, No 2

World Day of Peace is commemorated on Jan 1. And it does not go unnoticed by our pope. In his new year message, he chose the theme, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.

God has given us the earth and all that is natural and good, we are told. Yet, we are now facing threats – “numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development”.

If we truly believe in a God who sent his Son, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, then we must not fail to understand that the ominous threats of our environmental crises also signal a crisis in our Christian theology.

As the book, Care for Creation (Delio, et al) tells us:

“Christians are in a crisis of the Word of God. ...We have lost a Christian theology that adequately conveys the idea that creation is God speaking to us.”

Are we aware that each time we flip a switch, turn on a car engine, buckle up in an airplane seat, we are releasing gases that heat up the planet? Our lifestyle decisions, ranging from the type of house we buy, how we travel, to what we eat, have what is known as “carbon consequences”.
I am saddened by the news of Fr William Lim, parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who suffered a heart attack on the morning of Jan 3 while jogging. My heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the family and parishioners.

A number of priests have passed on due to heart attacks and cancers at a relatively young age. With the start of the new year, priests, Religious brothers and nuns should undergo a full medical check-up to ensure their well being to carry out God’s work in the Catholic community.

The benefits of a full health check will safeguard the individual, and any medical issues can be arrested and appropriate measures taken to give God’s servants a healthy lifestyle. n

Bennie Cheok, Singapore
I refer to the article, Parish Comes Up with Dress Code (CN, Jan 16).

The Catholic Church is a universal Church with an established hierarchy that sets out the role of the clergy and other matters such as how Church laws are formulated and administered. This hierarchy of structured processes makes the Catholic Church strong and different from all other religions – unlike, for example, independent Protestant Churches that operate on their own. This is the reason why Catholic rites in different countries are all similar.

It therefore confounds me that the Church of St Anthony can come up with its own rules regarding dress code that forbids certain dressing. If the Catholic Church had wanted to come up with such rules it would have done so long ago.

In fact, long ago there was a rule that required ladies to wear a veil over their heads during Mass. And this rule was applied across the entire Catholic Church, not just at one or two parishes.

At the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, posters have been put up to show what it deems as “inappropriate dressing”. This is fine if it was just a guideline or advisory. But no. Church wardens actively police this advisory and parishioners who do not comply are told off.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Catholic News for the attention paid towards the Neocatechumenal Way, (Japan’s Bishops Want Neocatechumenal Way To Stop Work, CN Jan 16).

However the Holy See has replied to the situation as reported in this ZENIT article (Jan 7):

The Neocatechumenal Way will not be suspended in Japan for five years, as was previously announced by the country’s episcopal conference, reports the lay movement.

According to a spokesman of the movement, Alvaro de Juana, this decision was communicated recently in writing by the Vatican Secretariat of State to the Neocatechumenal Way founders: Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Mario Pezzi.

De Juana informed ZENIT that the letter came after Benedict XVI presided at a Dec 13 meeting with a representation of several Japanese bishops, among them the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Leo Ikenaga of Osaka, to address some aspects of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan.
(Left) A woman farming in Southern Sudan. The head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says that if the situation for African growers was allowed to improve, they would not need to buy genetically modified seeds. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – If farmers in Africa had greater access to fertile, arable land safe from armed conflict and pollutants, they would not need genetically modified crops to produce food, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Making growers reliant on proprietary, genetically modified seeds smacks of “the usual game of economic dependence” which in turn “stands out like a new form of slavery”, said Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The Ghanaian cardinal’s comments came in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Jan 5.

It is “a scandal” that nearly one billion people suffer from hunger, Cardinal Turkson said, especially since there is more than enough food to feed the whole world.

Crops and livestock are destroyed because of strict trade restraints or in order to keep food prices high and, in wealthier countries, edible food “is thrown in the garbage”.

“All it would take is a little bit more solidarity and much less egoism” and there would be enough food to nourish even twice the current world population, he said.

The cardinal said high-tech agricultural practices and techniques are all but useless in areas of conflict and areas that are ravaged by the exploitation of natural resources.

“In searching for and extracting petroleum, gold or precious minerals present under African soil, multinationals cause enormous damage: they excavate large pits and irreparably devastate fields and forests,” he said. Whether such areas would ever be arable again is uncertain “even if one relied on genetically engineered plants”.

Cardinal Turkson said some multinational companies are actively engaged in trying to persuade bishops in Africa to support greater use of genetically modified organisms.