Saturday, February 9, 2013

How Chinese culture and Catholicism blend

Kung hei fat choi!Chinese mother and child
As we celebrate the Chinese new year, it is good for us to reflect on our Catholic beliefs vis a vis our Chinese cultural heritage.
Superstitious beliefs are clearly incompatible with Christianity. They are against the very first commandment, “Thou shall have no other gods before Me,” because they ascribe to certain things or practices some kind of magic that brings to a person’s life good luck, charm, etc.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following:
[2110] The First Commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.
[2110] Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition.
The Chinese people being known for having many superstitious beliefs, we now raise the question: can a Chinese who is proud of his cultural heritage be a good Catholic?
The answer, of course, is yes. He only needs to be careful as to what aspects of his culture he will embrace. An important caution is for a Catholic Chinese to limit feng shui to what is practical. For example, keeping the house clean is certainly a good practice, as is placing items in areas that are safe for them and for the people inhabiting that space. He cannot, however, pin his hopes on feng shui and ascribe to it certain magical powers. After all, if a person has faith in God and entrusts himself to His divine providence, what need has he for feng shui and similar practices?
For insights on Catholicism and feng shui from the perspective of Chinese Catholic priests, check out theinterview with Fr. Jimmy Liao and the UCAN article cautioning Catholics.
Happy Year of the Lord, everyone!
(by JBAlcoreza, orginally posted at

Sorcery and Cults in Papua New Guinea - Let us pray for them

We are enemies of evil (Satanic cults, sorcery, witchcraft, etc.).
But we are also enemies of murders and violence, for it is also the same devil working behind them.

PNG woman tortured, burned alive in 'sorcery' case

A young mother accused of sorcery was stripped naked, doused with petrol and burned alive in front of a crowd including schoolchildren in Papua New Guinea, reports said on Thursday.
The woman, named by The National newspaper as Kepari Leniata, 20, was reportedly tortured with a branding iron and tied up, splashed with fuel and set alight on a pile of rubbish topped with car tyres.
According to the rival Post-Courier newspaper she was torched by villagers who claimed she killed a six-year-old boy through sorcery, with police outnumbered by onlookers and unable to intervene.
A fire truck that responded to the incident, which took place on Wednesday morning in Mount Hagen city in the Western Highlands, was also chased away.
According to the reports, which were accompanied by graphic front-page images of the woman's burning corpse, she admitted to killing the boy, who died after being hospitalised with stomach and chest pains on Tuesday.
Police said they were treating the torching as murder and preparing charges against those responsible.
There is a widespread belief in sorcery in the poverty-stricken Pacific nation where many people do not accept natural causes as an explanation for misfortune, illness, accidents or death.
In 1971, the country introduced a Sorcery Act to criminalise the practice. But PNG's law reform commission recently proposed to repeal it after a rise in attacks on people thought to practise black magic.
Local bishop David Piso said many innocent people had been killed.
"Sorcery and sorcery-related killings are growing and the government needs to come up with a law to stop such practice," Piso told The National.
The US embassy in the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby issued a statement strongly condemning the "brutal murder" of Leniata, who had an eight-month-old daughter, as evidence of "pervasive gender-based violence".
"We add our voice to those of Papua New Guinean religious and civil society leaders who have spoken out against the brutality inflicted upon Ms Leniata," the embassy said.
"There is no possible justification for this sort of violence. We hope that appropriate resources are devoted to identifying, prosecuting, and punishing those responsible for Ms Leniata's murder."
Police arrested dozens of people last year linked to an alleged cannibal cult accused of killing at least seven people, eating their brains raw and making soup from their penises.
There have been several other cases of witchcraft and cannibalism in PNG in recent years, with a man reportedly found eating his screaming, newborn son during a sorcery initiation ceremony in 2011.
In 2009, a young woman was stripped naked, gagged and burnt alive at the stake, also in Mount Hagen, in what was said to be a sorcery-related crime.