Source: Vatican Insider.
After years spent working on an idea for a new film on Cristóvão Ferreira, Martin Scorsese has finally started shooting: In Japan under Shogun rule, Ferreira was first a missionary, then an apostate and persecutor
He had talked about making the film for some time and now he has finally made it happen: at the end of September Martin Scorsese started shooting “Silence”, a film inspired by the homonymous Japanese novel by Shushako Endowhich is based on Portuguese Jesuit Cristóvão Ferreira. We are in 17th century Japan. After being tortured, Fereira turns his back on the Christian faith, partly in order to save other faithful who were arrested along with him. Soon, however, the Jesuit finds himself on a journey that resembles that of St. Paul. He begins to persecute his former fellow Jesuits. The two confreres whom superiors send to Rome to try to understand why the Gospel is not taking root in Japan, embark on similar dramatic paths.
A film director like Scorsese - most of whose films have explored the theme of the eternal clash between good and evil- couldn’t help being drawn in by a story like Ferreira’s. In fact it seems he started thinking about making a film about him 25 years ago. After endless postponements, changes in priorities, actors who were hired but then pulled out (Benicio del Toro being among the most famous of these), it’s finally lights, camera action! The film is going to be featuring big stars like Liam Neeson and Andrew Garfield and is due in cinemas at the end of 2015. Some are already saying it is lined up for the Oscars.
It is difficult to say whether the election of a Jesuit to the Throne of Peter gave Scorsese the final push to go ahead with making the film. Francis’ election as Pope sparked a renewed interest in the Order founded by Ignatius of Loyola. Holywood’s interest in the Society of Jesus’ escapades is not a new thing. Just think “Mission”, the 1986 film directed Roland Joffe, a dramatic reconstruction of the epic reducciones which took place in 18th century Latin America, or “Black Robe” in 1991. In this film Brian Moore runs throught he history of the Jesuit mission among Quebec’s Wyandot people, which ended in a bloodbath.
What makes “Silence” unique, is that it is not just a film “about” the Jesuits, it is also in some ways a film made “with” the Jesuits. One of the members of Scorsese’s team of consultants is Antoni Üçerler, an English Jesuit and Professor of Japanese History at Tokyo’s Sophia University and at the University of San Francisco, California. Kuangchi Program Service (Kps) a local Jesuit television production company will be helping produce the film, which is being shot in Taiwan.
Emilio Zanetti, a young Italian Jesuit who works at Kps, said “the film is being shot here rather than in Japan because government subsidies make it cheaper.” “Recently, directors uch as Ang Lee and Luc Besson have chosen Taiwan as their shooting location. In the case of “Silence” we are offering consultation on the history of the Society of Jesus and links to cinematography companies. Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo who have been working with Scorsese for years, asked for us to help them get in contact with religious and parishes in Taiwan.”
We ask Üçerler what the crux of Ferreira’s story is, in Endo’s book as well: “There are some differences between the historical reality and the book. But both are centered around the upheaval caused by the arrival of the Christians who entered a system of coded rules such as the ones established by the Shoguns: what frightened rulers the most, was the loyalty Christians felt toward a supernatural God who in a way transcended and disturbed a rigid hierarchical system. This faith undermined the basis of the entire social system of the time. Another aspect that emerges very clearly, is that even in the midst of the apostasy crisis, in the end there is an awareness that God is greater than any betrayal.”
Nearly 200 churches in the Maiduguri Diocese in north-eastern Nigeria have been destroyed or razed by Boko Haram insurgents since August, a diocesan official said.
Father Gideo Obasogie, director of social communications in the diocese, said in a statement released earlier this week that violence has affected 186 churches in 14 parishes in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Some parishes lost as many as 25 churches and worship sites, Father Obasogie said.
“As a Church, we are really going through a severe moment of persecution. Our ecclesiastical circumscription is facing a sharp disintegration,” the priest said.
The diocese attributed the violence to Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The organisation is in the fifth year of a violent campaign that has included bombings, attacks on churches, assassinations and abductions in an effort to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamist state.
The recent raids also have displaced local government officials, throwing the region into chaos as the insurgents have taken over government buildings. The violence has forced thousands of Catholics to flee the region and has delayed the start of the school year, Father Obasogie said.
“Our children have not yet been fed well or clothed; so resumption to school is practically out of our calculation,” the priest’s statement said.
“In our opinion, if thousands of Nigerian children can’t go to school … then their future is at stake, quite bleak. The health condition of our people is truly troubling in their displaced camps.”
The statement offered no solution to the crisis in the region, but said that the problems posed by the insurgent movement must begin to be addressed globally.
Remember and pray for the Christians of Nigeria who are facing such vicious persecution.
'Our Church is in danger': Catholics in Aleppo, Homs
Aleppo, Syria, Oct 9, 2014 / 03:26 pm (Aid to the Church in Need).- Sister Maria of Nazareth has committed herself to an extraordinary mission. The Argentine nun from the Institute of the Incarnate Word has been living in Aleppo, Syria, for the past two months.
She has been ministering to a traumatized Christian community in the former million-strong metropolis in the north of the country, which has suffered some of the worst violence of the three year-old civil war.
Previously based in the Gaza Strip, Sister Maria has seen her share of violence.
"Our task in this country is very special. We are constantly confronted with people’s suffering. The war is having a profoundly deleterious effect on human dignity. People are losing their loved ones, their freedom and their rights due to the violence. On top of this there is poverty and a lack of the most basic things, such as electricity and water," the young nun reports.
She lives in the compound of the Apostolic Vicariate of the Latin Rite in Aleppo, together with some fellow nuns. All of Syria’s Roman Catholics in Syria fall under the Vicariate.
“We work in a hostel for female students at the local university, which is operated by the Vicariate. We also take care of the sacristy and the liturgy in the cathedral,” Sister Maria reports. “On top of that, we look after the faithful who visit the cathedral. Our main task is to listen to the people who are suffering, offer them words of hope, and help them best we can to meet their most basic needs.”
“Certainly only the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ can bring about the miracle of sowing the seed of hope in these souls. But war is a terrible and cruel thing.”
Archbishop Jean-Abdo Arbach of Homs, Hama, and Yabrud knows this all too well.
The Melkite archbishop is coping with huge damage in his diocese, whose history goes back to the 4th century. Dozens of churches, some dating back to the local Church’s very beginnings, have been damaged or destroyed.
"Last February, an armed gang broke into the Church of Our Lady of Yabrud, a 4th century church. They destroyed the fittings in the church, smashed the crucifix, threw the icons on the floor and tore the pages out of the Gospel. Then the gang burned the altar," the archbishop recounts.
However, some churches were destroyed not by the rebels, but by the Syrian army, such as the Church of St. George in nearby Nabek, which crumbled under an army bombardment in November 2013.
Not only the infrastructure of the diocese is in terrible shape – it’s mainly the people of the region.
“To date our archdiocese has counted 96 martyrs. The fate of 26 people is uncertain,” the archbishop notes.
More than 1,800 families from his diocese have left their houses to seek safety elsewhere in Syria, or have fled to Lebanon.
"From my visits to the houses of the families and from the reports by my priests, it is clear that everyone has been hurt by the tragic events. We have begun to support about 600 families with monthly assistance,” says the prelate, explaining that Syria’s high inflation rate is causing the local community great difficulty: "The prices are shooting up while wages are stagnating."
Despite all the hardships, however, the archbishop affirms that there are no signs that people’s spiritual life is collapsing. On the contrary, he insists: “the crisis has triggered a major return to faith and prayer among those who have not left their villages. Though having to deal with fear and the constant threat of bombs, families are remaining loyal to their religious convictions.”
The local Church is doing what it can to continue its catechetical work to ensure that the faith is passed on to children and youth. “About 3,300 young people take part in our catechetical classes. Some 350 teachers are looking after them,” the archbishop reports.
Still, a number of Church facilities were those classes are held have been damaged in the fighting, and Archbishop Arbach relies on help from Catholic charities to find the means for repair and rebuilding initiatives.
"Our Church needs help of all kinds: spiritual, material, medical and psychological. The Church in this part of Syria will be in real danger if we don’t react quickly.”
Blood swept Lands and Seas of Blood, Tower of London, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies one for each of the British dead of the First World War will progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat.