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Fr Stan Swamy SJ (Stanislaus Lourduswamy), 83 years old is a well-known human rights activist. He was arrested and detained on the 8 October by the National Investigation Agency of India. They accused Fr Stan Swamy SJ of having links with terrorist organisations.  Read more about Fr. Swami Worldwide, the Catholic community and social rights activists are calling for Fr Stan Swamy’s immediate release. Many protests have already taken place in major cities across India, including Ranchi, in the state of Jharkhand where Fr Stan Swamy SJ has spent the last five decades fighting for the rights of Dalits and Adivasi people. Also in Rome and different European Countries there have been protest actions against this intervention of the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA). As of 14 October 2020, almost 100 representatives of human rights and grassroots organisations and other supporters of Father Swamy are on hunger strike to draw attention to his situation. Various petitions for the release of Father Swamy on change.org already had over 50,000 signatures as of 15.10.2020. Germany On Thursday, 15 October, the German Jesuit Province and its international aid agency jesuits worldwide wrote a letter to the German Foreign Office in which they call on Foreign Minister Heiko Maaß to lobby the Indian government for Father Swamy. Jan Roser SJ, Provincial of the German Jesuits, explains: "It seems obvious to us that the Indian state is taking the opportunity to intimidate him and others because of their opposition to state repression and discrimination against minorities and their rights. Father Swamy's work included documenting abuses of power and arbitrariness against indigenous youth, those wrongly arrested and those held in prison. For example, he initiated public interest litigation in favour of 3000 indigenous prisoners. In the letter to the Foreign Minister, Jan Roser SJ clarifies: "Human rights defenders must be sure that their work is respected and protected. Also and especially in a large and complex state such as India, where there has been increased oppression and violence against non-Hindus and minorities since Prime Minister Modi's BJP party came to power and the increasingly unbridled agitation of Hindu nationalists. It is necessary to support those who continue to work for human rights and peaceful coexistence among the many peoples and groups in the Indian Union". United Kingdom Jesuit Priests and their lay associates working for the Jesuits in Britain protested on October 22 outside the High Commission of India. The protest was organised by Jesuit Missions in London. Fr Damian Howard SJ, the Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain, attempted to hand in a letter to the Indian High Commissioner, Ms Gaitri Issar Kumar, calling upon the Indian government to guarantee Fr Stan Swamy’s well-being and to obtain his release him from prison. Fr Howard said: “Fr Swamy is a fellow Jesuit who has given his life to solidarity with a group of marginalised people. Now he is the one who is suffering and it is our duty to stand in solidarity with him.” The High Commission refused to meet anyone from the delegation nor to accept the letter in person. The letter was later posted to the High Commissioner after the protest took place. Update on Fr. Stan Swamy by Fr Xavier Jeyaraj (SJES, Rome) - 29 October  Update en Español - Update en Français  
Each year during the month of September, the Christian family unites to celebrate the Season of Creation, a worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. This year’s theme Jubilee for the Earth presents an invitation to consider the integral relationship between rest for the earth and ecological, social, and political ways of living. Britain Jesuit Missions has organised a number of ways that you can get involved and help to create a sustainable legacy for future generations. This includes web reflections from around the world, including Fr James Martin SJ and Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, as well as a webinar with Amazon activist, Leah Casimero.  Check out the Season of Creation website here Portugal Ponto SJ, portal of the Jesuits in Portugal, launched an initiative in their social networks to mark the Season of Creation. Every day, a thought is made available online, calling for the mobilization of people in the care of the common home. The challenges, expressed in a short sentence, invite to reflection, action, contemplation, prayer, thanksgiving, information and to savor the gifts of Creation. Also to mark this special time, Ponto SJ offers an online retreat in association with “Rede Cuidar da Casa Comum”, to be done individually, with hints of prayer and reflection inspired by the seven verbs: to give thanks, to reflect, to be informed, to act, to contemplate, to pray and to savor. This proposal will be put into practice between 28 September and 4 October. The meditations, signed by a young laywoman, are broadcast in podcast and last for one minute daily.
In response to news of the death of a child who attempted to travel across the English Channel to seek safety, Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK said: “This is terrible news. He was just a child. What an awful way to die. In amongst the news coverage, we must remember that he was someone’s son, brother, and friend. We pray for all who loved him and who will grieve for him.  “This terrible tragedy tells us again that governments have to act. We have systematically closed down the safe managed routes for people to travel to claim asylum. In doing so, we force people into ever more perilous journeys, with the inevitable consequence that someone will lose their life.” According to the Independent, the 16-year-old Sudanese boy’s body washed up on a French beach, after he drowned in the English Channel while trying to reach the UK. French authorities announced the death with “immense sadness”.
In a special report, BBC2's Newsnight Fr Dominic Robinson of Farm Street Church talked about the crisis facing unemployed and homeless people after the pandemic. Speaking from the Central London Catholic Churches’ refreshment hub in Trafalgar Square, Fr Dominic said: "We are seeing more and more people who have lost their jobs in all sorts of places, a lot from the hospitality sector. This is a crisis that isn't going to go away." Sarah Teather, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, which is continuing to distribute emergency food parcels to the homeless appealed to the government to lift its ban on funding to support people with irregular immigration status: "I want the No Recourse to Public Funds restrictions lifted in order to ensure that individuals are kept safe and that wider public health is protected." They are among those campaigning to have No Recourse To Public Funds restrictions lifted so that people who need emergency housing in the pandemic can be housed safely, regardless of their immigration status. As Cardinal Nichols explained in his interview in the same section of the programme: “We need to respond to that humanity in front of us, recognising the innate dignity of each person and not simply consign them into an abyss.”
When I celebrated mass publicly for the first time in almost four months on Tuesday 7th July, which happened to be my 47th anniversary of priesthood, I did something for the very first time at mass in those 47 years of priesting – wore a visor to give out communion. Liverpool Archdiocese has been meticulous in laying down practical rules and regulations to enable mass to be celebrated during the covid-19 era. The aim is to provide as secure a situation as possible to maintain high standards of mutual health and safety. Each parish had to fill in a risk assessment, and be approved, before public worship could re-start after lockdown of churches way back in March. Clearly, there has to be a sufficient number of stewards to welcome and oversee, to clean the church before and after, to maintain a two metre space between worshippers, to create a one-way system, to see to it that all have masks, and to ensure that everyone has hands sanitised before and after mass. This affects certain aspects of celebrating mass, as a “new normal” has to be introduced. There is no sign of peace, and individuals coming up to receive holy communion have to have their sacred space maintained, and communion may only be received in the hand. The priest has to sanitise his hands before and after communion, and wear a visor whilst distributing communion. And, should there be touch accidentally between priest and communicant, the priest has to stop and re-sanitise before approaching the next communicant. Here in Liverpool we are asked to give out communion at the very end of mass, after the final blessing. When a few churches were able to open for private prayer in mid-June we here at SFX were among them, and, after suitable risk assessment and practical measures, decided to have a quiet Holy Hour at lunch time on Mondays and Thursdays, at the time when we would usually be celebrating mass. When we began public masses again on Monday 6th July, here at SFX in Liverpool we asked to have masses for the moment on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 12 noon. Provided we can get enough stewards, we hope fairly soon to have mass at 12 noon on Saturdays, and in due course hopefully also at 10.15 on Sundays. Blog by Fr Denis Blackledge SJ, priest at St Francis Xavier Church in Liverpool
Fr Chris Corbally, 74, is a British Jesuit originally from London but has worked at the Vatican Observatory since 1983. He has just had an asteroid named after him. The asteroid, designated 119248 Corbally, measures approximately 1 mile across in size and was discovered in 2001 by Roy Tucker, a retired senior engineer who had worked closely with Vatican astronomers. Fr Corbally has a wide range of research interests spanning decades. These include multiple star systems, stellar spectral classification, activity in solar-type stars, galactic structure and star formation regions and telescope technology. His current research focuses on the characteristics of human sentience in the context of evolution. Naming an asteroid requires approval from a committee of the International Astronomical Union. Of this honour, Fr Corbally said: “I’m not a kind of asteroid guy. For me it came as a complete surprise. That’s why it’s kind of nice.” To read about this story in more detail, click on The Dialog article here. For a list of asteroids named for Jesuits click here.