There was no column yesterday, April 16, as you know, and that was because a plethora of commitments simply erased time to write from my daily schedule. And the rest of this week will be a carbon copy of last week when I was on the go from dawn to dusk. I’ll do what I can, when I can. Yesterday on Facebook, however, I did publish a Vatican note about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 91st birthday! Here is a link: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-04/pope-benedict-birthday-16-april-2018.html#play


The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations says women must be integrated into all peacekeeping work in order to prevent sexual violence in conflicts.  By Philippa Hitchen (Vaticanmedia)

Women’ voices must be integrated into all aspects of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict operations. That was the message of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York on Monday during a Security Council debate on Women, Peace and Security.

Addressing the discussion that focused on how to eradicate sexual violence in conflict, Archbishop Auza noted that at international level a strong framework has been developed to facilitate women’s increased role in peace and security. (photo:vaticanmedia)

But he stressed that far too often, women continue to suffer from sexual violence, both in wars and in post-conflict situations. He stressed that survivors must be supported and governments must step up efforts to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.

Speaking of three areas of action, the Vatican delegate said greater resources must be dedicated to conflict prevention, ensuring that women are able to participate fully in this process.

Secondly, he said that the prevention of sexual violence and protection of women’s rights must be an integral part of all peacekeeping missions and operations.

Thirdly, the archbishop called for stepped up efforts to prevent violence against women in post-conflict situations that often remain chaotic, lawless and dangerous.

He stressed that the international community should support post-conflict countries to promote education, as well as social and economic development.

Archbishop Auza noted that the Catholic Church has a long history of providing women and girls with access to quality education. He said women continue to make up the majority of students in Catholic-run institutions, such as Bethlehem University, where almost 80 percent of students are young Palestinian women.

Without the input and skills of women, the archbishop concluded, neither a comprehensive understanding of the causes of conflicts, nor effective solutions to end them, will ever be achieved.


The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in a statement signed Sunday by the Secretary General, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas has said that it is hard to be unmoved by what has happened in Kathua, Unnao, or in any part of the nation where women are raped and murdered. (vatiannews)
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has expressed deep pain and anguish at the incidents against women in Kathua, Unnao and other places in the country:

We are not a soulless nation. If we were, then the outpouring of anger as we have seen it across the nation would not have been manifest. Our nation has a soul, a heart and a mind. A soul to respond to these unspeakable crimes committed against women, a heart that reaches out in empathy and solidarity and a mind that does not fall for hate games played by those who wish to pollute the sacred secular fibre of the nation.

It is hard to be unmoved by what has happened in Kathua, how brutally an eight year child was assaulted, molested and cruelly murdered or in Unnao, or in any part of the nation where women are raped and murdered. What has made the incidents in Kathua and Unnao even more deplorable is the justification by certain sections of society; the very people who should uphold the rule of law have either become the alleged perpetrators or the defenders of the indefensible. There is no justification for rape; none what so ever and every voice of sanity must speak out in one voice against such crimes.

In a way, humanity was thrown out of the window in Kathua and Unnao and replaced by the darkest side of human behaviour. The repeated targeting of women and children as a tool or agenda for personal, religious or political gain is nothing less than a crime against humanity and it is here that we look for the voices of sanity, in the pillars of democracy to speak out boldly and immediately; for when this is not done it gives a boost to actions of the perpetrators of such crimes. If justice is then delayed is justice denied and injustice not called out in time is injustice encouraged.

The eight-year old girl in Kathua and the twenty-year old maiden from Unnao and every woman is our daughter, our sister, our mother. Their religion or caste does not in any way make them belong less to us.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India stands firmly with the victims of these and every horrific crime committed in our nation. We condemn strongly these dastardly incidents or elements that have committed or supported such acts which have brought great shame on our nation.

Ours is a nation that has produced great women leaders, social reformers, politicians and women who walk the corridors of power and yet our women are subjected daily to the most unspeakable crimes. This must stop now and the Catholic Church in India wishes to lend its voice and resolve in speaking up against such barbaric acts of violence against women.

Let us remember what Swami Vivekananda told us: “Can you better the condition of your women? Then there will be hope for your well-being. Otherwise you will remain as backward as you are now.”

May the Almighty grant us wisdom and enlightenment and may we as one people stand up and oppose crime and injustice in all its forms.

God bless our women, God bless each and every Indian. God bless our Country.
Jai Hind

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX
Secretary General Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India