NOVEMBER 06, 2011, Vol 61, No 22

By Tom Sheridan

NOW, as we enter the second decade after 9/11, we seem little closer to the peace our prayers at Mass call us to. Or to the Prince of Peace who is the central focus of our faith.

I’m not naive. I understand human conflict sometimes calls for a justified armed response. While defence can be right, neither should war be humanity’s default position. Too often, even when the definition of war is fuzzy, we experience an “unpeace” – or however you want to define the state of being belligerent towards others of your own species.

There’s too much unpeace today. Some are armed: Iraq and Afghanistan and various African nations. Some are simmering disputes: India and Pakistan, the two Koreas. Some aren’t exactly war but explosions of violence in the name of religion: Israel, Palestinians and others, and Islamic terrorists against Western society.

There’s more: economic unpeace, ethnic unpeace, political unpeace.

It’s a paradox of faith: worshipping a God of peace while accepting a god of war. But how does faith ask us to respond to war and warlike actions in our midst?
FOR I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me" (Matthew 25:35-36).

For many of us, this passage comes immediately to mind when we reflect on Christian charity. It describes very explicitly the way Christians should manifest our love for those in need of help. It states tangible actions that we can take to care for others and to love others. Indeed, it is a practical guide for our acts of charity.

In my work with charitable organisations in Singapore and abroad, I have met or worked alongside many dedicated people of various faiths who spend time and energy caring for the poor, those in need and those who are disadvantaged or marginalised in society.
Parents are often befuddled with their children being engrossed with the Internet. They cannot fathom the interest behind the constant need to share what they are doing on a minute by minute basis with the rest of the world, or the urge to harvest virtual crops or create fantastical food ideas. Or worse, parents are appalled by the seeming ease with which adults might pose as youths in online games, and their warnings to their children fall on deaf ears.

In reality, the youth gets a myriad of positive strokes from interacting with friends in cyber space. Be it in the form of a "like" on Facebook, or comments on their wall, or even "@" mentions in their friends' tweets. These social interactions online create a sense of camaraderie and gives youths a sense of belonging with their friends, and in the process, gives youth the much needed attention and empathy on what goes on in their lives.
Pope Benedict XVI arrives for a Vatican conference to promote the new evangelisation on Oct 15. He announced the special year to participants the next day. CNS photo

The special year, lasting from Oct 11, 2012 to Nov 24, 2013, aims to renew missionary zeal in the Church

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has announced a special “Year of Faith” to help Catholics appreciate the gift of faith, deepen their relationship with God and strengthen their commitment to sharing faith with others.

Celebrating Mass on Oct 16 with participants in a Vatican conference on new evangelisation, the pope said the Year of Faith would give “renewed energy to the mission of the whole Church to lead men and women out of the desert they often are in and toward the place of life: friendship with Christ who gives us fullness of life”.
VATICAN CITY – A new Vatican document is calling for the gradual creation of a world political authority with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development”.

The document says the current global financial crisis has revealed “selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale”. A supranational authority, it says, is needed to place the common good at the centre of international economic activity.

The 41-page text, prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was released on Oct 24. It is titled Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.