AFRICA/IVORY COAST- The celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Congregation of the Children of Charity have concluded

Fides EN - - il y a 5 heures 16 min
Abidjan – On Sunday 8 December 2019 the celebrations for the first centenary of the Congregation of the Sons of Charity and the 57 years of their presence in the Ivory Coast ended with a mass in the parish of the Immaculate Conception of Abobo Clouétcha, in the archdiocese of Abidjan. The celebrations opened on June 16th 2018 in the parish of Saint Antoine de Padoue in the port of Abidjan Treichville.
During the homily on December 8, His Exc. Mgr. Alexis Touably Youlo, Bishop of Agboville, praised the work of the Congregation of the Sons of Charity, all over the world and in particular in the Ivory Coast, in favor of workers, seafarers, the poor... "100 years of service for the glory of God and for the promotion of man, especially among the poorest, the Sons of Charity have become close to all those who are the privileged ones of God. May the Lord bless their apostolate and after the path already taken, may they can go beyond the actions already carried out", said Archbishop Alexis Touably.
The Congregation of the Sons of Charity was founded in Paris on December 25, 1918 by Father Jean-Émile Anizan for the evangelization of the working class. It has been present in the Ivory Coast, since 1962.
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ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Cardinal Tagle, gift of the Church in the Philippines to the universal Church

Fides EN - - il y a 5 heures 29 min
Manila - Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle is "a great gift from the Church of the Philippines to the universal Church", said Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, commenting to Fides the appointment of the Archbishop of Manila as new Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Nuncio, who concelebrated with Cardinal Tagle the Mass for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in the Cathedral of Manila, noted: "What I appreciate about the Filipino people is that they always smile even if they suffer in their hearts. The Cardinal now smiles, but we know that his heart is broken, because he will have to leave the Archdiocese". Caccia added: "Mary said her yes to God. The Cardinal said his yes to God's call, which came through the Pope. Each of us must say yes, because God knows what is good for each of us. I would like our yes to be like the yes of Mary, who recognized God's will for her life, source of true happiness".
"Today - the Nuncio continued - the Church in the Philippines entrusts and gives Cardinal Tagle to the universal Church: to him the task of taking care not only of the community of a diocese, but of the whole world, for the work of evangelization. We offer the most beautiful gift we have had. We give with an open heart, even if our heart is suffering a little, but we give with joy", remarked Mgr. Caccia.
"The Cardinal knows the extent of the responsibility entrusted to him. And, like Mary Immaculate, he trusts the Lord by saying: Here I am, I am only a servant of the Lord, be done according to Your word", he concluded.
After the official announcement of the appointment, many faithful in the Archdiocese of Manila expressed their sadness at the Cardinal's imminent departure and promised to accompany him, in his new service, with prayer. The faithful consider the appointment of Tagle as a "mission that goes beyond borders, to serve the Lord". "We pray that the Lord will continue to enlighten and protect our beloved Cardinal Tagle on his journey to a world mission, to bring the Good News as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples", says to Fides Christine Regnim, a Catholic secular of the Archdiocese of Manila.
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AFRICA/NIGERIA - Two priests kidnapped on December 6 released

Fides EN - - il y a 6 heures 5 min
Abuja - Two Nigerian priests who had been kidnapped on December 6 while on their way to a wedding have been released. Fr. Joseph Nweke and Fr. Felix Efobi, of the Diocese of Awka, were on their way from the State of Anambra to Akure, the capital of the State of Ondo, when they were blocked by some armed strangers on the Benin-Owo highway.
The priests were part of a motorcade of wedding guests when the bandits blocked only their cars and then dragged them out of the cars to take them to an unknown destination.
According to witnesses, the bandits "just kidnapped the priests and left the others".
The kidnappers then demanded a ransom of 100 million Naira, but within a few days they released the priests.
According to the news sent to Fides the two priests were released along the road on the evening of 10 December. A priest from Owo went to get them. No ransom would have been paid for their release.
The kidnappings of priests and religious in southern Nigeria have been a plague for years. In the State of Enugu alone, 9 priests have so far been kidnapped this year .
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AMERICA/CHILE - "For a fair and worthy Chile": meeting on the challenges of evangelization in the current situation

Fides EN - - il y a 6 heures 13 min
Valparaiso - The Pastoral office of the diocese of Valparaiso and Caritas Valparaíso, have promoted a "Diocesan dialogue meeting for a fair and worthy Chile", which will be held on Saturday, December 14, at the San Pedro Nolasco College, in Valparaíso. "For almost 50 days, Chile has been experiencing what has been defined as a major social crisis or epidemic, characterized by the rise of a series of requests concerning greater social justice, equity, dignity and effective participation", underlines the letter of invitation, sent to Fides. Therefore it is recalled that in the final message of the 119th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Chile, the Bishops invited to an "active participation in the dialogues, in the councils and in all the instances of civil society, which helps to express opinions and proposals for the process of a new Constitution and a new social pact, in a climate of respect and civil friendship. Our faith can greatly illuminate the moment in which we live" .
In this meeting on December 14, explains the communiqué, "the signs of the times will be analyzed, with particular emphasis on the current crisis that the country is experiencing, and will seek, through dialogue and in the perspective of the Social Doctrine of the Church, to recognize the challenges for the evangelizing action of the diocesan Church and the pastoral responses to be promoted regarding our social service and solidarity".
The invitation to participate is addressed to those who work in the field of social ministry, but is open to all people of good will, committed to the good of the country, who belong to parishes, to the world of education, to lay movements and social organizations.
"Many pastoral workers, religious, consecrated persons and priests, have expressed the importance of a broad socio-pastoral dialogue on the current moment in which our country and our diocese live, and have also recognized that together with the prayer for peace - which is the fruit of justice - a space of meaningful meeting is necessary and therefore to raise a clear and strong voice as Church, according to our identity and our principles".
On this occasion the proposal of the "Community dialogue meetings for a fair and worthy Chile" will be presented, a diocesan initiative that will be promoted by Caritas Valparaíso so that parishes, Catholic schools and other pastoral groups "Participation in social and political life is one of the highest forms of charity and strengthening of democracy". (Agenzia Fides, 12/12/2019
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ASIA/INDONESIA - Vocations increase: new Camillian priest in Flores

Fides EN - - il y a 6 heures 25 min
Maumere - The island of Flores recently celebrated the ordination of the first Camillian priest. After ten years of presence in Indonesia, the Ministers of the Sick also have their first priest. We are speaking of Father Mensianus Aman, ordained priest along with six young Carmelites by Bishop Mgr. Edwaldus Martinus Sedu in the parish of Maulo, part of the diocese of Maumere, on the island of Flores. The news was given to Agenzia Fides by Father Luigi Galvani, pioneer of the Camillian mission of Flores.
"Father Aman - says Fr. Galvani - comes from a peasant family in the mountainous area of the island of Flores and has a brother priest of the Institute of Verbites, a missionary for several years in Chile. After completing his studies in philosophy and theology in the country, in preparation for the his priesthood he attended pastoral courses in Manila. With his ordination the Camillians of Indonesia will begin to dream of being able to count on other candidates for priesthood every year".
In the two houses of formation of Maumere and Ruteng there are currently 7 priests, 15 young religious, 6 novices, 42 students of philosophy and 24 new candidates including two young people from Pakistan and one from East Timor.
Fr. Luigi explains: "Indonesia, which remains the most populous Muslim country in the world, is becoming a promising oasis of religious and priestly vocations. In fact, the continuous opening of new religious communities and seminaries is the clear testimony of this favorable moment. On the island of Java, for example, the Theological Faculty of Jakarta houses about 300 students, in Jogjakarta there are 330 and in Malang another 320. On the island of Timor, in Kupang the Theological Study has about 300 seminarians. But above all in Maumere, on the island of Flores, one is impressed to see the largest philosophical and theological Seminary of the Catholic Church in the world, led by the Divine Word missionaries, with more than a thousand seminarians".
"If in the past decades Indonesia had been a destination country of evangelization, now it is giving back this gift to the nations with the sending of its missionaries" - the Camillian further specifies. "In fact, several dozen Indonesian missionaries from various religious institutes, with the Verbites in the front row, reach other countries of the world each year to carry out pastoral and missionary service. This also seems to be the future goal of the Indonesian Camillians who, in addition to the task of preparing 'new workers for the Lord's vineyard', propose to spread the evangelical message and the charism of love of St. Camillus inside and outside the country".
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AMERICA/ARGENTINA - First speech by new President Fernández: "We must get out of this situation with solidarity"

Fides EN - - il y a 6 heures 33 min
Buenos Aires - The new President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, recalled several expressions of Pope Francis in his first speech before the Legislative Assembly. The leader of the Frente de Todos, who won the elections, accompanied by Cristina Fernández as vice president, used the formula "for God, Fatherland and the holy Gospels" when he swore as president.
In his first message as President, according to Aica news agency, Fernández referred to the Pope as "dear Pope Francis" and used some of his usual expressions: "waste culture", "marginalized and excluded", "the last", "inclusion and equity", "common house", among others. In the same way, he anticipated that the ministry of the environmental area will be inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sì, which he defined "ethical and ecological magna charter at a universal level".
"The marginalized and excluded from our homeland, those affected by the culture of waste, not only need a piece of bread. They must be part and be guests of the same table, of the great table of a nation that must be our common home", the new President underlined.
Referring to the situation in the country, Alberto Fernández highlighted that "in a context of extreme gravity, of emergency, we must understand that there is no possibility of asking for sacrifices to those who are hungry, you cannot ask for sacrifices to those who cannot reach the end of the month. We must get out of this situation with solidarity". He then continued: "If we can stop hatred, we can stop the decline of Argentina. First and foremost liberation as a country is to guarantee that hatred has no power over our spirits.
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ASIA/LEBANON - Food banks in parishes, free medical services: the resilience of the Lebanese in the face of the crisis

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 13:11
Beirut - "Brother, if you have no money, do not be ashamed and do not leave your family without food. Please come in and take what you need: coffee, spices, cereals, because God cares about you and me", This message , exhibited by Mr. Abd Bitari in the shop window of his grocery store in Nabatieh, in southern Lebanon , has become the symbol of the spirit of resilience of the Lebanese population in front of the political economic emergency that is devastating the country, expressed in innumerable spontaneous initiatives of concrete solidarity for the benefit of those who suffer most from the effects of the crisis.
What also contributes to the wave of spontaneous solidarity initiatives was the emotion aroused throughout the country by the case of a family man from the city of Arsal, with his wife suffering from cancer, who took his own life after falling into debt and was not able to put together a thousand Lebanese pounds that his daughter had asked him before going to school.
The resilience of the Lebanese is expressed in different ways. There are those who offer methane for heating, those who have no money to buy it, doctors and lawyers guarantee free assistance to those who need it most, food banks and pharmaceutical companies that collect food and medicine to redistribute them to families in desperate need.
The parish of St. John the Baptist in Beirut has inaugurated, near a hospital, a "mobile refrigerator". The economic emergency also conditions and characterizes the initiatives of the parishes and Christian schools that are preparing to celebrate the feast of Christmas. In the parish of San Maroun in Haret Sakher, near Harissa, the youth of the parish collect food and medicines to help families in difficulty. The pastoral council has taken the decision to reduce the expenses for Christmas celebrations and to allocate everything to help those most in need. A special committee was set up to coordinate the parish's charity interventions.
The weeks of demonstrations and roadblocks have caused the closure of many schools for long weeks, increasing the crisis factors of many educational institutes promoted by the Churches. To recover the class hours, schools will remain open also on Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, the Notre-Dame de Jamhour College, led by Father Charbel Batour, issued a statement to suggest everyone to allocate the resources traditionally destined to buy gifts for Christmas to charitable works.
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ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Cardinal Tagle: "Announcing the Gospel means communicating the presence and compassion of Christ with life"

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 12:54
Manila - "The Holy Father sent me a message informing me of the new responsibility entrusted to me: I am grateful to him for the trust he has in me. I entrust my new service to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary": says Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, newly-appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Cardinal intervened on 10 December in Manila at the inauguration of the "Veritas Institute of Social Communication", launched under the auspices of the Office for Social Communications within the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences . On the sidelines of the meeting, the Cardinal, despite his sadness to say goodbye to the population of the Archdiocese of Manila, which he led until today, he expressed his joy and reported: "I received messages from all over the world: from Africa, the Middle East, from Asian countries like Japan and Cambodia and from many other nations. This shows me that among the faithful there is enthusiasm for the work of evangelization".
Cardinal Tagle spoke of "communication and evangelization in the digital age". "Our common mission, in the sphere of communication and every area of life, is to go and proclaim the Good News. Go and proclaim the God who speaks, communicates and listens", he said. In the work of evangelization and, in particular, in the work of social communication, the Cardinal wanted to emphasize, it is necessary to "increasingly involve young people and women". The first "know the digital world better than us and can give us wonderful advice"; women, he recalled, "have a natural predisposition to interpersonal communication: let us also learn from them", he urged, above all referring to the "spirituality of listening". "Our part for evangelization - he said - is listening to God and listening to each other with patience, interest and attention. This is a necessary first step in evangelization".
On the pastoral challenges of evangelization in the digital age, he noted: "Living in the time of artificial intelligence, we Christians are called to develop other types or forms of intelligence, such as relational intelligence, which encourages a person to generate trust and safety".
Noting the need for the Church in Asia and for the universal Church of Christians ready to "give an account of the hope that is in them" and that they can be "witnesses and heralds of the Gospel", the Cardinal concluded: "Every Christian is called to communicate, with his life, the presence and compassion of Christ".
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AFRICA/NIGERIA - Archbishop Kaigama to politicians: "Be close to the people to understand their needs"

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 12:38
Abuja - "You are avoiding contact with the people whose needs or sufferings you do not understand", denounced His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, during the ceremony as he takes over the Archdiocese of Abuja on December 5 .
"The tendency for leaders to surround themselves with weapon-wielding security personnel or trained security dogs and becoming inaccessible and insensitive to the needs of the ordinary people must be avoided and they should ensure that the poor, the children, the teenagers, the youths, the widows, the orphans, those in the periphery are not deprived of social amenities or unjustly treated", said the Archbishop who also denounced how some leaders are tucked away in air-conditioned offices or travelling in jets or helicopters to avoid the deplorable roads that are left unmaintained for years or just simply poorly built.
Mgr. Kaigama wanted in particular to draw the attention of political leaders to the condition of young people, who represent the majority of the population of the Archdiocese and of all Nigeria. "I will pray with them and dialogue on how our youth can be better helped. I will continue to stress the need to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians and to provide jobs for our teeming youth used by ethnic, religious and political bigots for violence, cultism and other anti-social practices", he stressed.
Mgr. Kaigama also condemned how some religious leaders preach prosperity and flaunt wealth in the midst of poverty affecting a huge population of Nigerians. "It is not possible to see my position as the Archbishop of Abuja in terms of worldly elevation or promotion and even to compare it with the position of a powerful and affluent Senator or Minister. My duty is spiritual and pastoral", he added.
Archbishop Kaigama expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, for the messages of goodwill as he takes over the Archdiocese of Abuja.
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AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Prayer and service for peace: priestly ordination in the diocese of Tombura-Yambio

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 12:04
Tombura-Yambio - "My dear deacons, you have been chosen to spread love and holiness, to save God's people and forgive sins. From this moment on, your commitment is to bring others closer to God", said Mgr. Eduardo Hiiboro, bishop of the diocese of Tombura-Yambio, on the occasion of the priestly ordination of five deacons celebrated on December 9 in the parish of St Mary Mother of God in Yambio.
During the homily the bishop stressed the particular circumstance in which it took place. In fact, on the same day the diocese celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the ordination and the closing of the First Synod . In the tradition of the Catholic Church, in fact, the feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th, but this year the celebration took place on Monday 9 December.
"The Church ordains you priests to serve its people. Go and bring more and more souls to Christ. Stay with your Christians, walk with them", says Mgr. Hiiboro. The deacons were ordained at the end of their pastoral journey in various parishes of the diocese.
"We have chosen to live in this place, it is therefore a commitment for all of us to continue praying for peace", said Bishop Hiiboro as he blessed the faithful to whom he recalled that the Advent season is a waiting period to which one must prepare oneself both in the depths of the heart and in behaviour. The bishop invited the faithful to continue praying for peace in South Sudan and urged the government and opposition leaders to work together to bring lasting peace to the country.
With reference to the recent closure of the First Diocesan Synod, Father Raphael Diko, pastoral coordinator of the diocese and director of the Synod, thanked all the delegates, priests and religious for their contribution as well as all the Christians who came together to promote their success.
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AMERICA/MEXICO - 10 million pilgrims are expected from all over the world for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 11:32
Mexico City - Everything is ready to celebrate the 488th anniversary of the apparitions of Santa Maria of Guadalupe al Tepeyac. According to data released by the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City and by the government of the capital, tomorrow, December 12, an influx of about 10 million pilgrims from all over the world is expected. According to the same source, this is the place of Marian pilgrimage that gathers more people each year, about 20 million.
The note sent to Fides mentions the comparison with the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, which receives about 18 million. Last year the forecasts were similar, about 10 million were expected on December 12, instead 12 million came.
The Mexico City administration has ordered the deployment of 3,100 police officers for this day, while reception centers are full, parishes and Catholic schools have also prepared camping tents to welcome pilgrims who do not find where to sleep. The Archdiocese has 17,000 volunteers to guide pilgrim groups. Even the police of neighboring states have helped to avoid heavy traffic, close roads and highways, to allow groups of pilgrims to travel more easily to the Basilica.
Beyond data and logistics, the Mexican and American people celebrate this great celebration of the "Morenita del Tepeyac" as a profound expression of Latin American devotion to the Virgin Mary that appeared to Juan Diego, a Mexican native symbol of the poor faithful.
Last Sunday, December 8th, the Archbishop of the capital, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, had invited the Mexican community to respect the lives of women following the example of Juan Diego.
"We can live happily being Catholic, but this is not enough, just look at our society, there are meaningless murders, murders only because of being a woman. All this must be condemned and every case denounced. The rights of women must be defended because they were created like men, in the image and likeness of God", said the Cardinal. "When a man abuses a woman, he degrades himself", he concluded.
The editorial of the archdiocese's weekly paper follows the same line, and criticizes the proposal to separate men from women on the capital's transport, to avoid sexual harassment or violence against women. "If in society it is necessary to separate men from women on public transport, this is a sign of an illness", the Archdiocese complained.
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AMERICA - 12 December: Continental Day of Prayer for Peace, entrusted to Our Lady of Guadalupe

Fides EN - - mer, 11/12/2019 - 11:12
Bogotà - The Latin American Episcopal Council invites the Bishops' Conferences, ecclesial organizations, religious communities, apostolic movements and the entire people of God to join the "Continental Day of Prayer for Peace" of 12 December, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, entrusting to her maternal intercession the pains and joys of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. "The goal is to unite in prayer with a common intention for all the countries of the continent: to obtain peace" explains Celam in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, suggesting the prayer of the Holy Rosary, participation in a liturgy of the Word or a Eucharist, or dedicate a period of time in the day to pray for this intention.
Celam also invites to "share a photo or video of this moment of the meeting through prayer and share it on social networks using the hashtag # AméricaLatinaRezaPorLaPaz". It also invites to share "from where you join to pray for peace on the continent and how you celebrated the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe in your country". Finally, the CELAM statement recalls that "the message of the Virgin of Guadalupe is that of the harmony of all peoples in a single civilization of love and dedication to God, and in the event of Guadalupe, Mary makes the inculturation of the Gospel perfect, she is our model of disciple and missionary to whom we entrust the destiny of our peoples".
The Episcopal Conference of Paraguay joins the prayer day on December 12th. In a message to the people of God, inviting them to prayer, it recalls: "Together, as brothers, let us ask the Lord Jesus, who said: "I leave with you; my peace I give to you" , which makes us "instrument of his peace" for this intention, we also ask the Lord, through this community gesture, that the brothers who live in anguish can find, through dialogue, the harmony that the population needs to rebuild bonds of love and of unity among the various sectors of society, in which peace, justice and social equity are first and foremost".
The Episcopal Conference of Colombia also joins the Continental Day of Prayer for Peace, confirmed the director of communications of the Colombian Episcopate, Father Jaime Marenco, explaining that the goal of the "Pray for Colombia" initiative is to strengthen people in the necessity and importance of imploring the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the construction of peace and justice for the country.
On 12 December, on the occasion of the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, at 6 pm, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in the Vatican Basilica in which representatives of the different Latin American countries will take part.
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VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni, outgoing Prefect of "Propaganda Fide", will be in office until mid-January: "I saw the beautiful face of the local Churches"

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 15:33
Vatican City - Cardinal Fernando Filoni, outgoing Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will remain in office until mid-January, when elected Prefect, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle is set to take up his new Vatican post. In the appointment received by Cardinal Filoni, Pope Francis also appointed him Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, recognizing that "he generously dedicated all his energy in the fields entrusted to him by the Supreme Pontiffs".
The Congregation of "Propaganda Fide" has meanwhile sent a message of good wishes, rejoicing in the appointment, offering "heartfelt congratulations" and a warm welcome to Cardinal Tagle. The Pope "entrusts the work of evangelization in the world to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide in order to support young churches so that the announcement of Christ may have priority in every pastoral activity", remarked Cardinal Filoni.
Cardinal Filoni also told Agenzia Fides: "In recent years I had the opportunity to meet, both in the Congregation and in various countries, in about 50 pastoral trips to Asia, Africa, Latin America, Oceania, the beautiful face of local churches . I saw the commitment to translate the Gospel into the needs of the multitude of faithful of every culture and language, entrusted to the care of the Congregation. The help and support of Bishops, priests, men and women religious, catechists, has been and is fundamental in this missionary work. I appreciated all its richness, ranging from spiritual formation, to moral education, to intellectual and scholastic formation, and very concrete social assistance to people in situations of migration, persecution, violence and discrimination. It is a work that we entrust and give back to God, who is the author".
Furthermore, he continued, "the commitment to the higher formation of priests, seminarians and women religious, through the various Colleges in Rome, and everywhere, in Seminaries or religious institutions must remain tireless; just as it is essential to update and train Seminary professors to ensure an ever better quality of teaching. Equally important is the formation of those responsible for the Seminaries, Rectors and Vice Rectors, on whom the correct approach of priestly and religious life depends. The Congregation of Propaganda Fide organizes and supports this commitment".
The Cardinal concludes: "I am grateful to all those who have collaborated and continue to collaborate in this precious service. I would like to highlight with gratitude the great generosity of benefactors, of those who love missions and support them, both through prayer and through financial support. I believe that each of them, like every Christian, should feel part of this missionary work and feel the intimate gratitude because, through each of us, God carries out his mission and builds his Kingdom".

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ASIA/LEBANON - The "Kairos Project" of the Middle East Council of Churches takes shape

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 13:47
Beirut - The project "KAIROS Middle East: towards a global Church pact" takes shape, designed by the Middle East Council of Churches, as a tool for global reflection on the condition of Churches and Christian communities in the current Middle Eastern context. From 6 to 8 December, at the initiative of the MECC Department of Theology and Ecumenical Issues, 25 experts in theology and geopolitics from Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and Jordan gathered to draw up the guidelines of the path, which will be presented in its complete form and its possible developments at the next General Assembly of MECC, scheduled for September 2020. Experts and consultants gathered at the Bethania center in Harissa, and coordinated by Father Gabi Hashem , drafted a working document aimed at expressing a theological and spiritual approach to the situations and events that Christians in the Middle East are facing, focusing the attention on the contribution that ecclesial realities are called to offer in public space.
During the work, Professor Souraya Bechealany, Secretary General of MECC, reiterated the importance and intent of the "path" undertaken to foster realistic and at the same time prophetic discernment about the condition and role of Christians in the region. Father Gabi Hashem instead insisted on the need to start from the predilection for the poor to guide ecclesial practices also in the Middle East.
On September 2nd, a MECC delegation led by Professor Souraya Bechealany had a meeting with Pope Francis , in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican City. On that occasion , the project "KAIROS Middle East: towards a global Church pact" was also presented to the Bishop of Rome. On that occasion, the Pope blessed MECC and its initiatives, and had also invited the members of the Council to focus their choices and their action around the experience of synodality, to be recognized as an expression of the dynamics moved and nurtured in the ecclesial body from the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Middle East Council of Churches, founded in 1974 in Nicosia and currently based in Beirut, aims to facilitate the convergence of Middle Eastern Christian communities on topics of common interest and to favor the overcoming of contrasts of a confessional nature.
Professor Souraya Bechealany, a Maronite Christian, teaches theology at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth. Souraya was elected general secretary of MECC in January 2018, and together with her collaborators she undertook a process of restructuring the departments of the ecclesial body.
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AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Launch of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Xaverian presence in Sierra Leone

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 12:28
Freetown - From December 2 to 4, all the Xaverians of the Sierra Leone district gathered in the house of Makeni for their annual Assembly. "The central theme dealt with during the meeting was the COSUMA Africa document, which we addressed in a spirit of research to rediscover our missionary ad gentes charism in the context of Sierra Leone", says Fr. Gerardo Caglioni.
"On 3 December, the feast of St. Francis Xavier, our Patron Saint, we organized a special Eucharistic celebration presided by the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Makeni, Mgr. Natale Paganelli, with the participation of some diocesan priests and some men and women religious who work in the city of Makeni. "With this celebration the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of our presence in Sierra Leone, which will end on World Mission Sunday 2020, began. The celebration took place in the parish of St. Guido Conforti, situated a few hundred meters from our religious house", he concludes.
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AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Mgr. Baez celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception with the Nicaraguan community of Miami

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 11:55
Miami - Mgr. Silvio José Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, who currently resides in the Vatican, was invited by the parish of Sant'Agata in Miami to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, 8 December. He was welcomed by hundreds of Nicaraguans who live there and maintain their religious customs unchanged. The feast of the "Purissima", as the Immaculate Conception is called in Nicaragua, in fact is very much felt and is celebrated with devotion and great celebration throughout the country. For this reason the Nicaraguan community that lives in Miami had the presence of the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, to live with him this event of faith that binds the Nicaraguans wherever they are in the world, as reported in the note sent to Fides.
In the celebration, we prayed in a special way for this suffering country, and Mgr. Baez asked President Ortega, the Vice President, his wife Rosario Murillo, to lower the tone of the aggressive language they use, and to remember that "nobody lives in eternity. They ask themselves what legacy they want to leave behind. It is important to find meaning in one's life, to be able to say in the end: it was worth living and people remember me not with hatred or resentment, but with gratitude - said Mgr. Báez - "I think it is time to think in this way. No one is eternal, even power ends. No power is eternal, but as the Psalm alone says 'the Lord has always existed and lives forever'."
The parish of Sant'Agata in Miami is located very close to a neighborhood called "little Managua" due to the large number of Nicaraguans who live there and visit the place. After Mass, Mgr. Baez met the Central American community and commented that "what happens to the Church in Nicaragua is the same thing that happens to the Catholic Church in the history of humanity".
"The important thing is that we Christians do not experience these moments as victims, nor with revenge, hatred or resentment - underlined the Bishop -. We live them as an opportunity to give witness to Jesus Christ. We live them as a moment that strengthens us in faith and helps us to grow in trust in the Lord so as not to diminish our ministry of the truth of peace and justice".
Then Mgr. Baez reminded those present that no one gives credibility to what Ortega said about the Bishops, on 19 July 2018: "the Church with the coup bishops, are hiding terrorists in churches". "I have been in Europe for seven months, and nobody has believed in that story of the Church that wants the coup d'etat, of the terrorist priests, of the churches that gave shelter to those who were killing the people" Baez.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - A 3-day sit-in organized by lay Catholics against corruption and violence in the eastern part of the Country

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 11:36
Kinshasa - "We are determined to continue the crusade for the consolidation of the rule of law", says a message sent to Fides by the Committee of Lay Coordination , an organization of lay Catholics, very active in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in particular in the archdiocese of Kinshasa, with which "the population was invited to three days of mobilization for the respect, defense and promotion of justice". The CLC organized a large sit-in, Thursday 5, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 December, in front of the Palace of Justice, in Piazza Indipendenza.
Through the sit-in, the CLC wanted to express the indignation of the population for corruption, impunity and the impotence of justice and the growing insecurity in the eastern part of the Country. During a demonstration held in October 2019, the CLC had asked for the resignation of constitutional judges who "fancifully" validated, invalidated and revalidated the results of the 2018 elections, and the suspension, as a precaution, of all those involved in a case of misappropriation of $ 15 million of public money.
"Having noticed that the expected signals are slowly coming and that at the same time the massacres of civilian populations have undergone an acceleration never touched in the northern and southern Kivu provinces, we have decided to move on to concrete actions. That is why we have just organized a big uninterrupted 3-day sit-in in front of the Palace of Justice. The objective is to obtain the resignation of the corrupt constitutional judges, the restitution of the 15 million dollars disappeared from the coffers of the State and the end of violence in Beni", said Professor Isidore Ndaywel, coordinator of the CLC on December 7.
Thousands of Catholics and members of citizen movements participated in the sit-in and the CLC said they were satisfied with the outcome of the peaceful protest, because the message passed that those with government responsibilities are not above the judgment of the population. In particular, officials of the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs were visibly contested by sit-in participants held a few meters from their headquarters. The CLC and its allies reassure that if the authorities do not respond to their requests, other similar events will be organized in January.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/GUATEMALA - Lasallian missionary brother James Alfred Miller beatified, "martyr for education"

Fides EN - - mar, 10/12/2019 - 11:07
Huehuetenango - "A martyr, an excellent educator and evangelical defender of the poor and oppressed, who became one of us and for us gave his life": this is how Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, Bishop of David , representing Pope Francis, described Brother James Alfred Miller, of the Lasallian Christian Brothers school, during the beatification celebrations that he presided over Saturday 7 December, in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, in the place of his martyrdom.
James Miller was born on September 21, 1944 in Ellis, a small town in Wisconsin, in the north of the United States. Outgoing, simple and enthusiastic, full of energy, tireless, in the Pacelli High School of Stevens Point, headed by the Lasallian Christian Brothers, his vocation matured. He joined the Lasallians in 1959, professed his religious vows in 1969, and wanted to go on a mission. Destined for Nicaragua, he remained there until 1980, giving proof to his abilities, also appreciated by the civil authorities. When President Somoza was dismissed, they called him back to the United States. At the beginning of 1981, his superiors agreed to his request to return to the mission, but they assigned him to Guatemala, in the city of Huehuetenango, at the Casa Indígena La Salle, a school for only those born in rural areas, very poor, of which he became Deputy Director. On the afternoon of February 13, 1982, while the children were preparing for the carnival party the next day, Brother James was fixing a lamppost outside the building. He had started, when three people arrived from a corner of the street. One of them shot him in the throat, chest and right side. He died immediately, and the killers heve never been found. Brother James Miller was beatified with a celebration on the soccer fields of the same school he once served in an impoverished pocket of rural Guatemala.
"The beatification of Brother James Miller is a source of great joy for the Brothers, collaborators, students and all members of the Lasallian Family - wrote in his message for the occasion Br. Robert Schieler, superior general -. His assassination was a useless attempt to extinguish the light of Christ and calls us to remember all the others - catechists, peasants, pastoral workers - whose life was shortened, because they tried to awaken people to the intrinsic dignity of daughters and children of God. Brother James worked hard for the well-being of the young people entrusted to his care, especially young indigenous people at risk".
"Catholic education belongs to the evangelizing mission of the Church" underlined Cardinal Lacunza Maestrojuán during the homily of the beatification, highlighting that the project and work of Blessed Miller "is a point of reference, both for the Lasallian community and for all Christian educators". "Hermano Santiago - as he was known -, through his pastoral work for indigenous peoples and the poorest of the poor, was aware of their dignity, their rights and their responsibilities, challenged the authoritarian and offensive system of those who thought only of themselves".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - New massacres in North Kivu bring the number of victims, since October 30, to 141.

Fides EN - - lun, 09/12/2019 - 13:33
Kinshasa - More dead and wounded due in the assaults of the ADF/NALU militiamen in the territory of Beni, in North Kivu . According to the NGO of CEPADHO civil society, on December 5, fourteen civilians were killed in Kolikoko and another ten in Mantumbi, in two ADF attacks.
The first attack was that of Kolikoko, in the district of Mabasele, in the rural municipality of Oicha around 4 am. According to local civil society, three men were killed on the Oicha-Maliki road, right in front of the hand-washing device created in the fight against the Ebola epidemic. The ADF militiamen cut the head of one victim and the hands of the others. One Bible was imbued with the blood of another victim.
The second attack took place a little further west, in the village of Mantumbi, around 2 pm. Ten civilians were killed, CEPADHO fears that the final toll is much higher, because there are still people missing.
According to CEPADHO, with these latest massacres, there are 141 civilian victims of the ADF assaults in this area, in retaliation for the vast offensive launched by the Congolese army since October 30th.
The massacres have provoked strong protests from the local population, which asks the national army and the forces of the UN mission in the DRC to take concrete initiatives to protect civilians.
On a political level, on November 26th, a declaration signed by some parliamentarians deplored the fact that the military operations started on October 30 against the ADF were not accompanied by preventive actions to protect the civilian population in case of reprisals.
The declaration also complains about the lack of a clear identification of the enemy and the absence of a serious inquiry into the allegations of complicity on behalf of some members of the national army and the Congolese national police, stressing the need to alternate officers serving in the Beni region for a long time, with the risk that they become accomplices of armed groups active in the area.
On 2 December the Bishops of Kivu decreed the suspension for one day of ecclesial activities to protest the massacres of civilians .
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - New repression against the Church: the Bishop of Esteli denounces "the pain of a people"

Fides EN - - lun, 09/12/2019 - 13:23
Esteli - On the day of the most heartfelt Marian feast in the Central American country, the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Church once again denounced the harsh repression against the suffering people and the persecution against the Church itself. This time it was Mgr. Abelardo Mata, Bishop of Esteli, who met journalists at the end of the Mass for the Immaculate Conception who informed about the latest events in his diocese.
First of all, the Bishop himself had to intervene to free Fr. Ramón Alcides Peña Silva, parish priest of the church of Jicaro, who had been arrested by the police on Saturday 7 December, around 7 pm, while he was returning from a celebration in the church of Nueva Segovia.
The priest, according to Fides sources, was detained for 12 hours on charges of "disturbing public order", while, according to the words written by the priest himself on social media, he had only gone to celebrate mass.
Mgr. Mata then referred to the large presence of the police around the cathedral of Esteli, with the intention of intimidating the faithful.
The priests are by the side of the suffering people of Nicaragua every day. The government is afraid that the people will express themselves, because they know that they do not agree with the proposed programs.
"Together with the peasants, young people are addressing all Nicaraguan citizens a strong call to their conscience, personal and social conscience" concluded Mgr. Mata.
Catégories: From the church