Monday, October 22, 2018

Polish Movie 'Kler' Stirs Up Debate in Poland

Polish-language movie 'Kler' (clergy or priest)
Image courtesy:

A recently released Polish-language film, Kler (cleric or priest), with the main theme of how some Catholic priests deal with money, power, and sexuality, has generated hot debate in Poland. Conservatives have slammed it for smearing the Church with negative stereotypes and giving a wrong image of the priesthood in Polish Catholic Church. Others have praised the film for portraying the truth. Some viewers told a news agency that Poland needed this moment of truth. 

Directed by Wojciech Smarzowski, an established Polish film-maker, the Kler portrays three priests -- the first one, an alcoholic priest, falls in love with a woman and encourages her to have an abortion, the second priest is accused by his parishioners to be a pedophile, and the third one is an archbishop, having connections with political higher-ups in Poland, lives a life of luxury, corruption, and blackmail. The film has been inspired by the biblical message, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matthew 7:15).  

Film Director Smarzowski said: "... I guess the most important factor is that I am not the only person in Poland who is disturbed by the fact that the Church is above the law... I consulted priests and former priests, who aided us at every stage of the production. They helped me with the script, the choice of locations, the costumes, the on-set work and, later, the editing process. Those who want change in the Church shared their experiences and other observations. They liked the film and considered it to be Christian, and they said it didn't insult the Christian faith...."

For more on the film, click on the following: 

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Quotation of the Week (October 21 - 27, 2018)

"Don't tell me we can't, just because we haven't." --Brent Butt (1966 -    : Canadian actor, comedian, writer, cartoonist)

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Canada Makes Recreational Use of Cannabis Legal

Cannabis (also called Marijuana)

Seeding of Cannabis plants
Photos courtesy:

Call it cannabis, or marijuana, pot, weed, drug, bud -- they usually mean the same. It was a prohibited item in Canada for the last 95 years. From today, October 17, 2018, cannabis is legal all over Canada, which, after Uruguay, is the second country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Previously, medical use of cannabis or marijuana was legal under strict conditions. Liberal Party's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took the initiative to legalize cannabis use for the recreational purpose like smoking of cigarettes. 

This is a drug -- it has its good effects if used properly, but it also has serious ill effects if used irresponsibly. In Canada, only adults are allowed to use it recreationally. 

Parents and guardians with children are wary of this new legalization. They are not much aware of the physical and mental effects of this drug on children, adolescents, and early youths. What about persons getting allergic to cannabis? If, what will happen and what to do, by chance, children eat edible cannabis sold in the form of brownies, candies, etc.? What will the real effect be on driving under cannabis influence? They don't know. They also don't know the effect it will have on criminal activities if persons are high on cannabis. What about home and condo owners not willing to rent out rooms to cannabis smokers? 

As the days go by, the Canadian government has to be vigilant and responsible on these matters. 

To learn more about the pros and cons of cannabis and its use, please click on the following:

Lessons from Cannabis Legalization in Colorado State, U.S.A.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Quotation of the Week (October 14 - 20, 2018)

"If bishops, clergy 
and religious lose the personal 
relationship with God to which we are all called, careerism, clericalism and ways of life at odds with the Gospel often result. This diminishes or quenches the flame of love and life in Christ that we must have in serving the People of God. We can become spiritual operators, or worse, perpetrators of serious harm to others." -- 
Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, 
Portland, Oregon, USA 
(Sept. 2018)

A quotation of Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon,
 on 'Bishops, clergy and Religious' relationship with God,' 
compiled by Jerome D'Costa

Above Design by Jerome D'Costa

(Updated on Oct. 15, 2018)

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 8, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Artwork by Andrea Mary D'Costa (Oct. 8, 2018)

The Thanksgiving Day is observed in Canada on the second Monday of October each year (in the U.S.A., it is observed on the fourth Thursday of each November). On this day, Canadians give thanks and celebrate the harvesting of different types of crops, and fruits and vegetables. They also share their celebratory meals with their relatives, friends, and neighbours. 

To know more, please read the following:

Bookmark and Share

Reactions of Members of the Catholic Laity and Clergy to Present Sexual Abuse Crisis

Reactions on the Recent
Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis Worldwide

The clergy sexual abuse cases that came to the limelight recently in a series of storms -- one more dreadful, shocking, and shameful than the next one. Some Catholics in the U.S. said, "How could this happen again?" Another person said, "Your faith is shaken." 

"I'm horrified," Ellen Ahmad told CNN of the Pennsylvania grand jury report. "It's so sad. As a Catholic, I'm ashamed."

In the U.S., some Catholic lay groups are demanding more responsibility to investigate clergy sexual abuse as the hierarchy has shamefully failed to address the crisis. 

Some big donors of the Catholic Church in the U.S. stopped their regular quota of donations. Some other wealthy Catholics decided to compile their "Red Hat Reports" on red-hatted American cardinals until the next papal conclave (election of the pope). In these reports, they will track which cardinals took appropriate measures on sex abuses and how many others failed to do so and why.

Some laypersons even started to sue the Vatican and certain U.S. dioceses on the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

For more on reactions, please read the following:

(Updated on Oct. 15, 2018)

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Quotation of the Week (October 7 - 13, 2018)

A quotation of Pope Francis on 'a bishop and a priest
who are for the people,' compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Design © Jerome D'Costa

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Father Richard J. Novak, C.S.C: A U.S. Missionary Killed In A Hindu-Muslim Riot In East Pakistan in 1964

A book on the life of U.S. Holy Cross missionary
Father Richard J. Novak, C.S.C. (1935-1964),
a professor at Notre Dame College, Dhaka 
Image courtesy:

Father Richard J. Novak, C.S.C. (1935-1964) was an American Congregation of Holy Cross missionary priest to the then East Pakistan (called Bangladesh after the independence from Pakistan in mid-December of 1971). On completion of his priestly studies in Le Mans, France, Dhaka's then-Archbishop Lawrence Leo Graner, C.S.C. ordained him there on June 29, 1961. 

In 1963, he went to East Pakistan as a missionary. After studying Bengali for a short time in Barisal, he began to teach Logic at Notre Dame College in Dhaka. From the beginning, he was deeply interested in the local people and their language and culture. 

"He was very friendly and likable and showed his unmistakable interest in people...He got around to more places than most of our men who have been there for many years. People everywhere still remember him. I used to worry about him, though, because it seemed to me that his liberal spirit was liable to get him into trouble sooner or later," wrote Father Richard Timm, C.S.C., a fellow missionary, and professor at Notre Dame College, on Feb. 6, 1966. 

 In early 1964, there was a Hindu-Muslim riot in India and Pakistan. In East Pakistan, the riot was severe in Hindu-populated Narayanganj and Khulna. Some Hindu riot victims were being treated at Holy Family Hospital in Dhaka. On January 15, Father Novak went to the hospital and wanted to extend his assistance. When a Hindu nurse-trainee at the hospital asked an American nun if there was anyone to help locate her father in Narayanganj where he worked at the Dhakeswari Cotton Mills, Father Novak was told of the request. Next day, on January 16, Father Novak, risking his life, bicycled 10 miles distance to Narayanganj and tried to cross the river on a ferry to reach the mills. On the boat, some Muslim youths attacked him and, on reaching the other side, killed him with lethal stabs and threw his corpse to the river. 

From that day news on his whereabouts was unknown in Dhaka for eight days. Then, some local Muslims from Narayanganj came to Dhaka and gave the Notre Dame College priests the terrible news. 

On the occasion of the remembrance of Father Novak in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, on January 27, 1964, Father Arnold A. Fell, C.S.C., wrote: "There is a sort of perfect unity in Father Richard's life in that, as far as we know, he also met death, like Christ, in the midst of the people he had come to help and succor. And from what we know he also met death on an errand of mercy, trying to help those who were threatened by the communal Hindu-Moslem riots that were raging in and around the fuller, deeper sense of the word, 'a martyr is one who dies giving witness to Christ.' In this full, deep sense Fathe Richard Novak died a martyr." 

For more on Father Richard J. Novak, please read the following:

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Endogamy Among Members of the Knanaya Christians of India

Thomas of Cana who led a migration of Syriac Christians
from the Middle East to India between 345 and 800 A.D.
Image courtesy:

The Knanaya, also known as the Tekkumbhagar or 'Southists', are an endogamous group in the St. Thomas Christian community of Kerala, India. 

Syrian merchant Thomas of Cana, in between 345 and 800 A.D., led a migration of a group of these Christians from the Middle East to India. They use a kind of Syriac (a variety of middle Aramaic) language, related to Palestinian Aramaic that Jesus Christ spoke in his time.  

There are about 300,000 Knanaya Christians in India and other countries including the USA. Majority of these people belong to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and the Malankara Churches. 

Traditionally, they engage into endogamous marriage -- the custom of marrying only in one's own community, clan, caste, or ethnic group (tribe). They refuse to marry anyone coming from a different group. 

To learn more, please click on the following:

Related Items:

Bookmark and Share

Monday, October 1, 2018

Pope Francis Asks Priests and Bishops To Be 'Smelly Shepherds', Not 'Wolves'

Pope Francis ordains 16 seminarians to the priesthood
in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Dec. 1, 2017
Photo courtesy: CNS

Pope Francis, immediately after being elected a pope on March 13, 2013, has been repeating his call for priests and bishops to be shepherds like Christ rather than 'wolves' that scatter or destroy sheep.

Pope Francis addressing the world's priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, March 28, 2018, said: “The priest who seldom goes out of himself … misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. … This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, lose heart and become, in a sense, collectors of antiquities or novelties — instead of being shepherds living with ‘the smell of the sheep.’ This is what I am asking you — be shepherds with the smell of sheep.”

 The Pope in his May 15, 2018 homily in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence at the Vatican, said: “A bishop is not a bishop for himself. He is for the people, and a priest is not a priest for himself. He is for the people: to serve, to nurture them, to shepherd them, who are his flock – in order to defend them from the wolves.”

According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Pope Francis repeated his prayers for bishops and priests who face temptation. “We are men and we are sinners.  We are tempted,” he said.

He cited St. Augustine’s commentaries on the prophet Ezekiel. Augustine warned against the temptations of wealth and vanity, when the bishop and priest “take from the people,” make deals and become “attached to money.”

He also added that "when a priest, a bishop goes after money, the people do not love him -- and that's a sign....he ends badly."

A bishop or priest on "the road to vanity" is one who "enters into the spirit of careerism -- and this hurts the Church very much," the Pope said. Such a man "ends up being ridiculous: he boasts, he is pleased to be seen, all powerful -- and the people do not like that!"

For more, please click on the following: 

Related Items:

(Updated on Oct. 4, 2018)

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Quotation of the Week (September 30 - October 6, 2018)

A quotation of Mark Twain on 'keeping and stopping learning,'
compiled by Jerome D'Costa
Photo (A panoramic view of the Kennedy Road from the 22nd-floor apartment 
of a building in Scarborough, Toronto: Aug. 20, 2018) © Jerome D'Costa

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Pope Francis Defrocks Chilean Priest Fernando Karadima For Sexual Abuse

Father Fernando Karadima on the court date 
on Nov. 11, 2015, in Santiago, Chile
Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Pope Francis in an unprecedented move has defrocked Father Fernando Karadima (88) of Chile who was previously in 2011 was found to be guilty by the Vatican of several counts of sexual abuse and sentenced to a life of 'penance and prayer.' 

Father Karadima was a charismatic, convincing, and fluent speaker with wide influence among both the Chilean hierarchy and laity. He was involved in numerous sexual abuses and was accused as early as 1984. Chilean Church authorities not only failed to take action but also helped cover up his grave sins and crimes. This is called participation in others' sins. The laity everywhere in the world is taught on this participation, but the members of the hierarchy rarely apply this to themselves. There was a time when even Pope Francis thought abuse victims were spreading calumnies against Father Karadima! 

After receiving a 2,300-page report on sexual abuse of a number of priests in Chile, Pope Francis called all Chilean bishops and cardinals to Rome to deal with this. All the bishops and cardinals then wanted to submit their resignations. The pope accepted only a few resignations. 

For more on Father Karadima and Chilean clergy's sexual abuses, please read the following: 

Related Items: 

(Updated on Sept. 30, 2018)

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 28, 2018

'Amar Praner Psalmgeet': A Bengali-Language Musical Notation Book and A CD on the Psalms of the Bible

Amar Praner Psalmgeet -- the first volume of the
Bengali-language musical notation book on the Psalms 

Amar Praner Psalmgeet -- the first CD
of Bengali-language songs on some selected Psalms
Dr. Bartholomeo Prottyush Shaha's Amar Praner Psalmgeet (My beloved psalms) is the first volume, covering 50 of the total of 150 Biblical psalms. The author of this Bengali-language book wrote the lyrics, based on the original psalms, and also produced their musical notations.

These psalms, popular among Bengali-speaking Catholics in Bangladesh and abroad, are used in the Holy Mass and other worship services. 

Dr. Bartholomeo Prottyush Shaha playing on the harmonium in Bangladesh
Dr. Shaha, hailing from Chittagong of Bangladesh, has been writing lyrics and music notations of various music genre since 1965. Many of his musical creations found a place in the Geetaboli, a Catholic book of songs, published by the Pratibeshi Prakashoni in Dhaka, Bangladesh. So far he has three musical notation books to his credit. 

He was involved with the YMCAs of Hong Kong and Geneva (Switzerland) holding executive positions. 

Bookmark and Share