AFRICA/NIGERIA - Fr. Oboh, Nigerian priest kidnapped last week, has been released

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 12:29
Abuja - Fr. Nicholas Oboh, Nigerian priest kidnapped last week in the south-western region of Nigeria, was released yesterday evening, February 18 . "I am pleased to inform you that our priest kidnapped last Thursday, Fr. Nicolas Oboh, has regained his freedom", said a spokesman for the diocese of Uromi in a message sent via WhatsApp on February 18. "He was released this evening", the spokesman said. "Many thanks for your prayers".
The kidnapping of Fr. Oboh is the latest in a series of kidnappings and killings in Nigeria of Catholics and members of other Christian denominations. Earlier this week, a group of Islamist militants set fire to some vehicles in Borno State, killed 30 people, including a pregnant mother and her baby. The attack also destroyed 18 vehicles full of food supplies for the region.
We also remember the four seminarians of the Good Shepherd major Seminary of Kakau, in the State of Kaduna, in north-west Nigeria who were kidnapped by armed men on the night of January 8 . The youngest of these, Michael Nnadi , was killed while the other three were freed , but one is in hospital in critical condition due to his injuries.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - The United Arab Emirates (with UNESCO patronage) finance the reconstruction of the church of St Thomas in Mosul

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 12:15
Mosul - The works of reconstruction and restoration of the church of St Thomas in Mosul will begin by April, devastated - but not completely destroyed - in the time when the Iraqi metropolis was under the control of the jihadists of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The reconstruction of the Christian place of worship, belonging to the Syriac Catholic Church, is also presented by local commentators as a sign of the rebirth of Mosul: UNESCO will support the restoration work, thanks above all to a substantial funding provided by the United Arab Emirates. The project is part of the "Revive the spirit of Mosul" initiative, launched in 2018 and aimed at raising funds to rebuild monuments and places of worship that symbolize the plural, multiethnic and multireligious identity of the North Iraqi city, and which have undergone serious damage during the jihadist occupation. The restoration program received $ 50 million in funding from the United Arab Emirates authorities.
During the jihadist occupation and in the conflict phases which ended in December 2017 with the Iraqi armed forces reconquering Mosul, the church of St Thomas had suffered serious damage to the external walls and the internal colonnade that separates the naves. The symbolic extent of the restoration of the church of St Thomas was highlighted in a UNESCO statement, which describes the Christian place of worship as an emblem of the history of Mosul, which in the past was a "crossroads of cultures and a peaceful refuge for various religious communities over the centuries". The church is located in the historical part of the city, on the eastern bank of the Tigris river, and was built in 1859.
After the years of the jihadist occupation of Mosul and more than a year and a half since its release, the church of St. Thomas, still full of rubble, hosted a "Mass for peace" on Thursday 28 February 2019 which also recorded the presence of Muslims and members of non-Christian minorities, in the sign of the desired reconciliation between the various components of the local population. The Eucharistic liturgy, as reported by Fides , was celebrated by Syrian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Moshi, and saw the participation of Chaldean Archbishop Najib Mikhail Moussa OP, together with several nuns, priests, representatives of civil society organizations and groups of Muslims, Yazudis, Shabaks, Kurds and Turkmen.
That Eucharistic liturgy represented an important step in the project supported by the Italian Association "Un Ponte Per ...", a project aimed at supporting initiatives and processes of reconciliation between the various components of the population and overcoming the wounds, resentments and suspicions left behind from the conflict.
In the context of the "revive the spirit of Mosul" initiative, restoration work has also already begun on the great mosque of al Nuri. On July 5, 2014, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi made his first speech after being proclaimed "Caliph" of the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, on Sunday 16 February, Najm al-Jubouri, governor of the Iraqi Province of Nineveh, reported that 79 Christian families have recently returned to their homes in the Nineveh Plain, from where they had had to flee in June 2014 in front of the advance of the jihadist militias of Daesh. Al Jubouri reiterated that the return of IDPs to their traditional settlement areas is a priority for Iraqi local authorities. Nonetheless, several researches and investigations into counter-exodus trials agree that the percentage of internally displaced persons who have returned to their homes in Mosul and Nineveh Province remains fairly low.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The diocese of Yopougon engages its priests to combat violence and sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable people

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 12:02
Abidjan – To engage one’s priests in the struggle of the universal Church against sexual abuse and in favor of the protection of minors and vulnerable people. This is the objective set by His Exc. Mgr. Jean Salomon Lézoutié, Bishop of Yopougon in the Ivory Coast, who organized a training course on the topic for diocesan priests and religious held on February 13.
The course was held at the Mons. Alexandre Chapoulie center, and was organized by the Center for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable People of the Catholic Missionary Institute . According to Fr. Donatien Lolo, Episcopal Vicar responsible for the diocesan clergy, the training course "invites us to double-up our vigilance and increase our precaution in accompanying children and even adults, because we must remember that we risk destroying lives with inappropriate and indelicate gestures and behaviors". He added that "training is a very effective means of preventing and combating these sad practices that disfigure the Church".
At the end of the course, following the "zero tolerance" logic of Pope Francis and the universal Church for the prevention and management in a transparent and rigorous way of cases of sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable people, the diocese of Yopougon has adopted some measures that include, among other things, the offer of a code of conduct to pastoral workers against sexual abuse and for the protection of minors and vulnerable people, drawn up by the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast whose validation is pending of approval by the Holy See. Signal offices will also be created in the coming days to support both the victim and the accused priest. Finally, training and awareness courses will be increased so that everyone is involved in this struggle.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA - The Bishops of the continent gathered to analyze particular situations and identify common lines of action

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 11:34
Tampa - Presiding over the morning prayer and then the Eucharist, the President of the Episcopal Council for Latin America , Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, Archbishop of Trujillo , kicked off the meeting of the Bishops of the Church in America yesterday. The event takes place at the Bethany spirituality center, in the city of Tampa - Florida , from 17 to 20 February.
This meeting, which began in 1967, has as its central themes the context of the Special Synod on the Amazon and the recent Apostolic Exhortation "Querida Amazonia", presented in videoconference by Mauricio López, secretary of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial network, REPAM. Another important topic is the reality of the indigenous communities in Canada and the pastoral challenges for the Church in that country, a topic that will be presented by Mgr. Raymond Poisson, Vice President of the Episcopal Conference of Canada.
José Horacio Gómez, President of the United States Bishops' Conference, presented the theme of evangelization in the American union with the challenge of accompanying an integrative pastoral care for immigrants and the strategies to be adopted to get closer to Catholics who always distance themselves more from the Church.
The first day ended with the presentation of the socio-political crisis experienced by some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, by Rodrigo Guerra, director of the Center for Advanced Social Research.
This meeting, which takes place every two years, is the only one that brings together the Presidency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops , the Episcopal Conference of Canada and the Latin American Episcopal Council to coordinate common lines of action at a continental level.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/MALAYSIA - Peace, love and faith: cornerstones of a harmonious society

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 11:22
Kuching - The Catholic Church in the state of Sarawak, part of Malaysian Borneo, is constantly committed to promoting interreligious harmony in society. As Fides learns, in recent days Archbishop Simon Poh and Don Felix Au of the diocese of Kuching, Sarawak, participated as delegates in the 12th annual multireligious Forum at the Islamic Information Center. Now in its 12th edition, the Forum represents an important opportunity for exchange and discussion to address issues and concerns existing in the various faith communities in Malaysia. This year the representatives of various religious communities in the region gathered to discuss a theme that saw them all involved: "Peace, love and faith: cornerstones of a harmonious society".
Don Felix Au explained the prospect of a Christian to those present and touched the importance of loving God and one’s neighbor, to bring the "fruit of love" which is peace. "Loving God is the first and greatest of all the commandments", he said. "The practical expression of loving God is closely connected with the other great commandment: loving one’s neighbor as yourself", stressed the priest. Don Au also referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan, applying it to the Malaysian context and hoping that every citizen "can be open, humble and respectful towards other brothers and sisters". "The goal of religious dialogue - he said - is not to 'get the best of a discussion' or convert the interlocutor, but to achieve together peace, understanding and greater mutual respect".
The leader Desmond Tan, representative of Taoism, shared his thought, emphasizing "the importance of creating harmony with nature", while Gurdial Singh, representing the Sikh religion said that "cultivating love in oneself and love for God are the keys to achieving peace". The Forum also welcomed the views of representatives of Baha'i faith and Wan Muhammad Mujahid Bin Wan Alwi, who spoke about the Islamic perspective.
The leaders present agreed that the atmosphere of understanding and unity, on a cultural and religious level, that is experienced in the states of Malaysian Borneo can be a good example for the society of peninsular Malaysia. It is also important that civil authorities promote integration policies and social practice in the management of religion and interethnic relations in the country, they said. An important aspect, in order to always protect interreligious harmony, is to identify and reveal whether some religious issues are manipulated by individuals with a personal agenda or in search of electoral consensus. Malaysian citizens are called to recognize these pitfalls and to keep up the level of tolerance, respect and trust towards other people, of different faith, culture or ethnicity, by continuing to seek mutual understanding to combat extremist and radical ideas. This was the final appeal launched by the delegates present.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country. Its population is made up of nearly 32 million people, of whom more than 60% are ethnic Maaya Muslims. Catholics represent 4% of the population.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - School for Down children: the mission of the nuns in Kabul

Fides EN - - mer, 19/02/2020 - 09:45
Kabul - "The work of the nuns in Kabul continues tirelessly. We know that in a few days the school year should start again after one month of delay. On returning from the winter holidays, in fact, the snow and cold had frozen the pipes for water supply, but now the problem seems to have been solved. Currently, our three nuns are in charge of educating about forty children with Down syndrome. Students are distributed in 4 classrooms, led by local teachers. Classes begin in the morning, around 8 am and end in the afternoon around 4 pm". This is what Father Matteo Sanavio, priest of the Congregation of Rogationist Fathers and contact person of the "Pro Bambini di Kabul" Association, tells Agenzia Fides. It was from the cry for help that the Guanellian, Fr. Giancarlo Pravettoni had the idea of creating an inter-congregational association that would respond to Wojtyla's appeal who, in the Christmas speech of 2001, launched an appeal to the world to save Afghan children.
"The nuns are supported in all by the Association, which lives almost exclusively on donations. Until last year, we had doubts that we could continue this service in 2020, but we organized collections and looked for new supporters. Providence never abandons us", explains Fr. Sanavio, who adds: "All in all, the situation is now fairly calm, we have no news of unrest in Kabul. The biggest problem remains that of guaranteeing a change among the nuns present in the school: in November there were two of them and the situation was rather precarious, but then we managed to guarantee the presence of three nuns again". In finding the nuns who come for a period of mission, there is a need for nuns who have a culture close to that of Afghanistan or who, at least, know the Arabic language. Above all, it is necessary to find nuns willing to spend two or three years of their life making great sacrifices, in precarious conditions.
In Afghanistan, where Islam is recognized as a State religion, the Catholic presence was admitted at the beginning of the twentieth century as simple spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul, with the first Barnabite priest. In 2002 the "Missio sui iuris" was created by John Paul II. Today the Catholic mission continues to have a base in the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to Barnabite father Giovanni Scalese. The Missionary Sisters of Charity are also operating in the Afghan capital.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - "Stop stealing in the north": Salta area plundered of wealth and the inhabitants abandoned in misery

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 13:38
Salta - "Stop stealing in the north" was the heartfelt request expressed by the rector of the Virgen de la Peña shrine, Father Fray Rubén Sica, OFM, in his homily last Sunday, February 16, referring to the situation of the inhabitants of the north, currently in a social and health emergency due to the death of children in the area, the floods that have destroyed hundreds of families in the San Martín department and the roadblocks of the National Route 34 due to the overflow of the small rivers in the area.
The Franciscan priest referred to the current difficult situation in the north, which adds to the chronic lack of essential services such as water and electricity. "We live in an area with a subtropical climate with heavy rains, but we certainly live in another province, because the reality is that we are not part of the Salta province that everyone knows", he complained.
"It seems incredible that a single rain has provoked all this: people evacuated, inhabited areas flooded. In the north if it rains or does not rain it is the same, because we do not have drinking water, energy is interrupted for hours and our hospitals are devastated. In order to go to the doctor we have to travel 400 kilometers to the capital, because there are no professionals here, and better not to mention the Chaco Salteño", said the Franciscan.
"How long will we have to live like this?" asked the priest, who continued: "This area has the resources of hydrocarbons, agriculture and timber. We are abandoned and there is no investment in this area".
The priest then turned to the authorities: "This area was rich in the period before the privatizations, but you impoverished it, with the aggravating factor that we cannot move to another place, because here we have work, home or simply our roots and our family history".
Due to the floods and consequent floods recorded in different locations in the province of Salta, Caritas Argentina has put in place its immediate assistance mechanisms in the face of climatic emergencies and the volunteer teams are working directly with the affected families.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Church of Congo in the hurricane of History

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 13:29
Kinshasa - Among the results produced by the three peaceful marches organized by the Lay Coordination Committee , from December 2017 to February 2018, "it seems to me that the most lasting and useful result has been achieved, thanks to civic education given in various parishes in the country, when thousands of young Congolese were able to make the supreme sacrifice to defend their human dignity and the common good of their Country". This is what Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop Emeritus of Kinshasa, says in the preface of the book "Congo in the hurricane of History. The struggle for the rule of law for women and men of faith and goodwill", by Professor Isidore Ndaywel The volume, published by L'Harmattan in 2019, was presented in Kinshasa on February 15.
In his book, historian Ndaywel, coordinator of the CLC, praises the "going beyond oneself" demonstrated by the many people looking for peaceful solutions to the turbulences that have marked the political scene of the DRC in past years. The author also notes the role played by religious denominations in the struggle for the rule of law in the DRC; role they have played for centuries and will continue to play for the fate of the Congolese people.
The choice of the release date of this work is as significant as its content. The book was launched on the market on the eve of the 38th anniversary of the Christian march against the then-dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko. "The CLC began with the 16, 1992 march. It was its first major mobilization, in which clerics and prominent civil society figures were actively involved", said one of the speakers, reviewing the book.
"Like the CLC, I dream of a life worthy of Congo, worthy of all Congolese, worthy of all Africa. Since Congo cannot afford to remain the Country of missed opportunities, it is therefore up to all its people to continue courageously their long march towards the rule of law for the development of social well-being", underlined Isidore Ndaywel.
The presentation of the book was attended by members of the movements of citizens, academic personalities, some political-administrative authorities and priests, as well as His Exc. Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, Apostolic Nuncio in the DRC. We also noticed the presence of the widow Rossy Mukendi, one of the best known martyrs of the peaceful marches organized by the CLC, from December 2017 to February 2018.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Security of life and property can no longer be guaranteed in Nigeria" denounces the Bishop of Awka

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 13:14
Abuja - "Human beings are being slaughtered regularly by terrorists who are suspected to have targeted the Christians. Security of life and property can no longer be guaranteed in Nigeria", said His Exc. Mgr. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, Bishop of Awka, State of Anambra, in southern Nigeria, who made a call for the establishment of local and state security organs to tackle security challenges in all parts of the Country. The Bishop stressed that there are discrepancies between the various local security apparatuses, and recalled how two priests of the Catholic Diocese of Awka were kidnapped in Ondo State and were rescued, using the Anambra State Government’s security apparatus. This State - he stressed - is relatively safe, compared to other States of the Federation.
According to Mgr. Ezeokafor the federal government should support the local security apparatus such as the Amotekun operation set up on January 9 this year by the governors of 6 States in southwestern Nigeria to coordinate the respective security organs.
That of Mgr. Ezeokafor is only the latest call of Catholic bishops who denounce violence, in particular against Christians, asking federal and local authorities to guarantee everyone's safety. At the funeral of the seminarian kidnapped and then killed in the state of Kaduna, in north-western Nigeria, His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, addressed harsh words against President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been elected on the promise to restore security in the country . Kukah contested not only the insecurity that reigns in Nigeria, but also the policies that have deepened the ethnic and religious divisions between North and South.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - The innocent seven of Kandhamal, witnesses of faith

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 12:52
Bangalore - They spoke of their experience and witnessed their faith in Christ before the Indian Bishops: the seven innocent men - involved in the story of the anti-Christian massacres that took place in 2008 in Kandhamal, in the Indian state of Orissa – who returned to freedom after an unjust 10-year detention, were invited to the 34th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of India , which brings together the Bishops of the three rites underway in Bangalore.
Christian journalist and activist Anto Akkara, who has visited Kandhamal 25 times, illustrated why seven innocent Christians - six of whom are illiterate, one with mental problems - were kept in prison. They were able to testify their profound faith, despite the difficulties and trials in years of unjust prison.
Akkara explained the conspiracy theory, put together around a desk before the murder of Hindu religious leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, shot dead in Kandhamal on August 23, 2008. The death of Saraswati, attributed to the Christians, was the pretext to launch the wave of violence against the baptized community. Seven innocents were unjustly sentenced to life imprisonment and imprisoned in 2008 for the alleged murder of Saraswati. The appeal process against the conviction has been ongoing before the Orissa High Court since 2015. After carefully investigating the case, with a field investigation, Akkara revealed the conspiracy in his investigative book "Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?", published in 2016, and in the same year launched an online signature campaign to request the release of the seven. The results of that investigation were presented in court. The seven were recently released on bail.
Akkara urged the Indian Bishops to take their situation to heart and to help them concretely, both materially and spiritually. "Faith must lead to action", he said.
After the presentation of the case, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the CBCI, led the prayer for the innocent shared by all the Bishops.
Over the past decade, the Archdiocese of Cuttack – Bhubaneswar which covers the territory of Kandhamal, Orissa, has remained close to the victims and has been the driving force in the legal proceedings, aimed at seeking justice.
Large-scale violence against Kandhamal Christians resulted in over 100 deaths, over 50,000 displaced. More than 40 women were sexually assaulted and around 12,000 children saw their schooling interrupted and denied the right to education. Over 8,000 houses were looted and burned, more than 300 churches demolished.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/COSTA RICA - Jubilee Year: "time to relaunch the commitment and hope that comes from the social dimension of Christian life"

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 12:26
Limon - An appeal to the authorities and the protagonists of society to unite "to find solutions to the suffering of many Costa Ricans, in particular in the fields of work, health, violence, especially against children and women, citizens' safety, education, housing, pensions, situations of poverty, inequality, in addition to the humanitarian challenges of immigration". This is what the Bishops of Costa Rica launched in the message published at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference held in Limon, which bears the date of February 13, 2020, the opening day of the Jubilee.
The Jubilee Year has been announced for the centenary of the creation of the ecclesiastical province of Costa Rica, from 13 February 2020 to 16 February 2021 , and the Bishops invite all Christians "to live intensely this time of grace", in the awareness that "the Church has contributed to giving life and developing our national identity, and its action is inseparable from the life of society and the history of the country".
This Jubilee and the celebration of the Bicentenary of Costa Rica's independence in 2021 "go together and it could not be otherwise - they write -, because we know the relevance and urgency of the dialogue between faith and the community and social dimension of culture. Therefore, as citizens and pastors, we echo the cry of a country that wants to continue moving forward on the path of social justice, the common good, human rights - whose essence is the dignity of the person - and the social peace of our people".
In the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops mention some of the "many and complex issues of national reality that concern Costa Ricans". Firstly, the urgency of national dialogue, because "we cannot continue on the path of division, controversy and mutual distrust. As a society, we must promote the centrality of common issues, in an environment of respect that favors a prudent and measured process of discernment, to face what really happens in the country".
In order to guarantee unity and social peace, it is therefore necessary to heal and strengthen the tax system: the Bishops have constantly denounced "the national problems facing a public administration trapped by an institutional tangle dragged on for years and which today shows its social and economic effects".
Another worrying topic is unemployment, which has reached the highest levels of the decade, despite government initiatives. "We see with pain the desperation of young people, women, immigrants, informal workers - say the Bishops -. In this jubilee year we are called to combine mercy and justice, because one of the serious difficulties of today is that precarious work, without workers' rights and poorly paid, has become normal employment, a lifeline for thousands of compatriots".
The last point concerns support for the rural world, because for the Bishops the country needs "a real agricultural policy that addresses poverty reflected in the social inequality, unemployment, poverty and basic needs of this sector; without forgetting a solidarity economy that improves the situation of farmers and artisanal fishermen".
Invoking the intercession of Our Lady of the Angels, Patroness of Costa Rica, and Saint Vincent de Paoli, Patron of the Diocese of Limón, the Bishops conclude their message by recalling that "the Jubilee Year is a time to revive the commitment and the hope that comes from the social dimension of Christian life "and asking the Lord, as a special grace, that "our Jubilee rekindles the solidarity of our people".
Pope Francis spiritually joined the opening of the Jubilee Year in Costa Rica with a Letter, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, in which he participates "in thanking the Lord, for all the fruits obtained in these 100 years and invites lay and consecrated persons to continue "their tireless evangelising activity, bringing the joy of the Gospel to everyone, especially the most needy and the most distant, and to give a true witness of Christian life in the various circles of society".

Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Evangelization through calligraphy

Fides EN - - mar, 18/02/2020 - 10:14
Karachi - Art and calligraphy can be a means of evangelization in Pakistan: Father Arthur Charles is convinced of this to the point that he has started placing banners with verses from the Bible, in beautiful writing, on the walls of Saint John Church in Karachi, where he is parish priest, as a means of spreading the Gospel. "One of the aims of this initiative - the priest explains to Agenzia Fides - is to bring the Good News of the Gospel closer to our people, but above all to the Muslim faithful, so that they know and appreciate Christ's message".
Two years ago the priest noted that right in front of the Church, there are Catholic schools where many students attend lessons. "There are children and young people not only Catholics or Christians of other confessions, but also of other religions, and a large majority are Muslim students. Every day their parents either come to accompany or pick their children up, and often spend a lot of time near the school, to wait for the children. So I came up with the idea of using the walls of our Church to evangelize through art and calligraphy", says Fr. Charles.
"You can read biblical passages, popular prayers such as the Our Father and the Ave Maria beautifully written with calligraphic skill, which also attracts passersby", he continues. "In this part of the world, the representation of sacred figures is not very widespread: we are trying to spread a culture of Christian art mainly through writing and calligraphy and it is very important to bring out a sense of beauty in the Church", says Fr. Arthur Charles.
Furthermore, on the front of the school building there is a large poster showing biblical verses and images, which is changed according to the liturgical time or to religious and social events.
The parish priest continues: "I remember what Pope Francis encouraged in the 'Evangelii gaudium': the use of arts in evangelization, especially based on the treasures of the past. One has to be bold and discover new signs and new symbols, to incarnate and communicate the Word in different forms of beauty".
The parish priest concludes: "Evangelization implies the effort to transform the culture of the community in which we live in order to create harmony with the Gospel. It is very important to reflect on the things that capture our heart. We can use words, but visual art is a very effective means of making God's message known".
"There is nothing like this in Karachi. For me and for many other people this is a completely new experience, which I really appreciate", says Haroon Iqbal, one of the Catholic faithful of the Church of St. John, to Fides. Anwar Arshad, grandfather of a child studying in high school, notes: "My children studied in this school. I come here to accompany them to school. I am very happy to read the verses from the Holy Bible and God’s Commandments. They help me understand the beauty of the Christian faith". "I come here and wait for my children. I read these writings that lead me to meditation. It's a wonderful idea", agrees Syed Iqbal Mehboob.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - The Bishop of Matagalpa presents an "ethical decalogue" for politicians; the release of all prisoners is still awaited

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 13:09
Matagalpa - The passage of the Gospel proclaimed during Masses last Sunday, the "discourse of the mountain" which deals with the subject of the fulfillment of the law, gave the cue to Msgr. Rolando José Alvarez Lagos, Bishop of Matagalpa, to present an ethical decalogue to politicians in the country to follow.
During the homily of the Mass celebrated in the Cathedral, Mgr. Alvarez, with the clear and direct style that characterizes him, said: "First: do not disqualify the other; second: do not criticize him in a destructive way; third: do not judge him in an incorrect way; fourth: respect his dignity; fifth: respect his privacy, his integrity and his family life; sixth: respect the opinions of the other; seventh: recognize that we all need each other; eighth: always look for points of consensus; ninth: consider Nicaragua as the greatest and main common good; tenth: overcome evil with good".
Nicaragua still lives in a situation of strong tension due to the lack of freedom in all senses. Not even the news of the upcoming elections has brought serenity to families who have a family member in prison without a real accusation. Nobody knows the exact number of political prisoners, but it is well known that there are many. As the note sent by a local Fides source informs, the news of the release, on February 13, of eight political prisoners by the Orteguista regime, certainly provoked satisfaction among the groups that ask for the release of prisoners of conscience, but the family members of prisoners continue to demand the unconditional release of all citizens who are detained in the country's various penitentiaries.
Brenda Gutiérrez, president of the Committee for the Liberation of Political Prisoners, told the local press that although no one should be thanked because freedom is a right, the intervention of the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, must be acknowledged who was the only one able to make himself heard by the couple who governs Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, his wife. Brenda Gutiérrez added: "It is a terrible situation. There is no freedom, it seems that we are kidnapped in our own country".
According to Alianza Civica there are still 61 political prisoners. Brenda Gutiérrez stressed that "although the Grand Coalition of the opposition is concerned about defining the electoral reform in view of the upcoming elections, we cannot forget those who suffer unjustly in prison".
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - The Pope asks for a year of missionary commitment to the priests candidates for the diplomatic service of the Holy See

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 12:36
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has asked to integrate a year of missionary commitment in a diocese of particular Churches in the training curriculums of the priests candidates for the diplomatic service of the Holy See, in order to train them in apostolic zeal to go to the border territories, outside of their diocese of origin. The Holy Father's letter to His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Marino, President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, was made known today by the Vatican Press Office with this request.
In order to face the growing challenges for the Church and for the world positively, "future diplomats of the Holy See must acquire, in addition to the solid priestly and pastoral formation, and the specific formation offered by this Academy, also a personal mission experience outside their own Diocese of origin, sharing with the missionary Churches a period of journey together with their community, participating in their daily evangelizing activity".
The Pope therefore asked Archbishop Marino "to enrich the academic training curriculum with a year dedicated entirely to missionary service in the particular Churches around the world", in close collaboration with the Secretariat of State and with the Pontifical Representatives. "The missionary experience that we want to promote - the Holy Father explains - will be useful not only to young academics, but also to the individual Churches with which they will collaborate and, I hope, will arouse in other priests of the universal Church the desire to make themselves available to carry out a period of missionary service outside their own Diocese".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - At least 24 dead in the attack against an evangelical church

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 12:25
Ouagadougou - Unidentified armed individuals attacked the Evangelical church in the village of Pansi, located not far from Sebba, in the province of Yahgha, in northern Burkina Faso, yesterday, Sunday 16 February, killing at least 24 people and injuring about ten.
The attack took place on Sunday morning when the faithful were gathered in the church for Sunday worship. The perpetrators arrived by motorbike and opened fire on the faithful, then they left with the pastor and other hostages.
On February 10, a jihadist group stormed the city of Sebba and kidnapped seven people in the house of a Protestant pastor. Three days later, five of them, including the pastor, were found dead while the other two, women, were found unharmed.
In addition to Catholic priests and Protestant pastors, several imams have also been murdered by jihadists in northern Burkina Faso since the attacks started four years ago. In October, the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Kaboré, made an appeal not to fall into the trap of confessional war .

Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - The Apostolic Nuncio: "To announce the Gospel of mercy in daily life"

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 12:20
Bangalore - The first mission of Bishops and faithful in India is "to announce and live the Gospel in situations of daily life": said Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, Apostolic Nuncio to India and Nepal, speaking at the 32nd plenary Assembly meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of India , which brings together the Latin Rite Bishops, taking place in Bangalore. "Christ's followers have a responsibility to promote the gospel values of mercy and compassion. Bishops in our country should encourage the faithful to deepen the values of the Gospel in their lives", said the Nuncio. Archbishop Diquattro presided over the opening mass of the CCBI Plenary Assembly. During Mass, special prayers were presented for people affected by coronavirus in China and in various parts of the world: everyone was asked to pray continuously for the speedy recovery of people affected by the virus and for the protection of God.
The assembly works were chaired by Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrão, Archbishop of Goa and Daman and President of the Conference. In his speech the Archbishop underlined the need to "continue contributing to the good of the nation even among the difficulties we are facing and to promote brotherhood and peace". The Archbishop called for "a society without any discrimination of caste, creed, language or ethnicity".
Among other speeches, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, asked the bishops to "promote the culture of life and brotherhood in India". The Cardinal expressed serious concern about the new pregnancy termination law, which allows abortion at any time up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. "Human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception. The Church firmly promotes the protection of the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death. Bishops have a responsibility to spread Christ's message about the dignity of all human life", he said.
The fundamental themes of the meeting were presented by Mgr. Anil Couto, Archbishop of Delhi and CCBI Secretary General, who presented the Conference's Annual Report, which touched on the challenges and pastoral issues regarding the Latin-rite Catholic Church in India, which includes 132 dioceses and 190 bishops.
The conference elected 26 bishops as delegates to participate in the "Golden Jubilee" of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences to be held in November 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/CAMEROON - "Ballot boxes almost completely deserted by voters", report observers of "Justice and Peace"

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 12:10
Yaoundé - Peaceful elections but almost entirely deserted by voters. This is what His Exc. Mgr. Abraham Kome, Bishop of Bafang, Apostolic Administrator of Bafia and President of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon reported in a press meeting in which he presented the evaluations of the electoral observers sent by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in the polling stations for the municipal and legislative elections of 9 February.
The "propensity to abstain was almost general", said Mgr. Kome who brought some examples: "in the Bissono gendarmerie in Sangmelima, there were 85 voters out of 310 registered; in Ngwui par Dschang, 50 voters out of 200 registered; in Batouri the abstention rate was 80.57%; in Bertoua, 70%". "The low turnout undoubtedly means that the basic law of the electoral code that governs the elections in Cameroon must be revised in order to arouse people's enthusiasm in the fulfillment of their civil duty", underline the Bishops in the statement presented by Mgr. Kome.
CENC deployed 262 observers who were deployed in 46 departments across 58 Countries. Mgr. Kome added that due to the insecurity in the North West and South West regions, the 17 CENC observers in these two regions were unable to do their job. An insecurity that "has prevented many citizens from exercising their civil rights", underline the Bishops.
In one of the two English-speaking regions, that of the North West, a massacre of civilians was committed, mostly women and children. The crime was perpetrated on the night of February 14-15 in Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw in the Donga-Mantung department. According to the UN, there are 22 victims, among whom there are 14 children, including 11 girls under the age of 5, a pregnant woman and two women. The secessionist rebels accused the Cameroonian army of being responsible for the massacre, but rejected the accusations.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - From the sanctuary of Guadalupe, Archbishop Dal Toso starts the preparation for the continental missionary event, CAM 6

Fides EN - - lun, 17/02/2020 - 11:45
Mexico City - With the solemn Mass presided yesterday in the Shrine of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, so important for the evangelization of the entire American continent, Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies , officially began the journey of preparation for the sixth American Mission Congress, CAM 6, which will be celebrated in Puerto Rico in 2023. A path that will engage all the dioceses of the continent, as he pointed out in the homily, "so that the missionary Congress is truly an ecclesial event, that is shared by all the Churches, by all Catholics on the continent", hoping that "missionary zeal can renew all the Churches, united in universal communion".
The celebration that marked the start of the journey towards CAM 6 was attended by bishops, numerous priests, men and women religious, and lay people, as well as the PMS national directors of the continent, who in these days will take part in their continental assembly and a large delegation from the Church of Puerto Rico, which will host CAM 6.
In his homily, the President of the PMS focused on the theme of wisdom, drawing inspiration from the Liturgy of the Word of the day. "We need a wisdom that illuminates, inspires, accompanies, perfections the missionary impulse, the true objective of CAM" he said recalling the book of Sirach. According to the words of Saint Paul, the wisdom preached by Christ "is not of this world", indeed it is in contrast with the wisdom of this world:" this is clearly manifested in Christ crucified and risen 'scandal for the Jews, folly for the Gentiles', as Paul writes a few verses before. This first proclamation of the Church, the heart of her message, is divine wisdom, because it is humanly inexplicable that life is born from death. As missionaries, even today we are called to present the mystery of Christ dead and risen, divine wisdom".
The Gospel of the day recounts the Sermon on the Mount, "apparently full of paradoxes, because it draws on a wisdom that is not human, but divine" continued the Archbishop, admonishing that "if our measure of things, people, facts of life and history is based exclusively on human justice, it means that we have not yet made divine wisdom our own".
"To be missionaries we must first of all immerse ourselves in this wisdom and make it our own, without fear of losing our 'too human' wisdom, otherwise everything remains in the dark", urged the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, who then stressed: "Preparing CAM means being illuminated by a wisdom that comes from above and is not ours; let us allow ourselves to be questioned without fear and without prejudice by this divine wisdom, without which all the ecological, human, social, ecclesial reality remains in the dark".
In the final part of the homily, Archbishop Dal Toso reiterated that "Christ, the eternal wisdom of the Father, sends us all, ad gentes, to the ends of the earth"; "The Church is the bearer of this wisdom and a missionary Church, as Pope Francis wishes, cannot fail to respond to this universal call"; "No one can be excluded from the knowledge and communion of life with God the Father, with his Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit".
The American continent received the Gospel "to make it its own, to internalize it and to give it" and "the missionary disciple is a disciple because he receives faith and is a missionary because he offers it", concluded the Archbishop, exhorting: "Let's open up to the whole world so that the whole world will find the key to the interpretation of life, of history, of the whole being, in the wisdom of Christ, in which everything has been created".

Link correlati :Full text of the Archbishop's homily, in Spanish
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Three hundred young people from Concepción on a mission to share their faith and their hope

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 21:23
Concepción - About 300 young people from the Chilean Archdiocese of Concepción carried out summer missions in various communities in January and February, in support of the pastoral action that takes place throughout the year. In this way they wanted to respond to what Pope Francis asked them in his Apostolic Exhortation "Christus vivit", where he encourages young people to be courageous missionaries: "Young people are called to be witnesses of the Gospel wherever they find themselves, by the way they live... Learn to swim against the tide, learn how to share Jesus and the faith he has given you" .
As the note of the Episcopal Conference sent to Fides informs, many rural and urban areas, such as the prison of Arauco or the Isla de Chiloé and the Isla de Santa María, have been touched by the enthusiasm and joy of the young missionaries, who did everything they could to give their testimony. In the days of the mission, the young people visited each house in the sector entrusted, organized several meetings with the local community, in an atmosphere of great fraternity and spiritual fervor, with the celebration of the Eucharist as the main moment of each day.
The vicar of the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Concepción, Father Víctor Álvarez, commented: "taking responsibility for their mission, in the Church and in the social context in which we live as a nation, the young people went to share their faith and their hope in every mission area". Each mission area could count on the support of some priests and religious women, engaged in the various sectors of pastoral care and in different places, thus strengthening the spiritual dimension and the encounter with Jesus Christ as the foundation of all that was accomplished in those days.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - New tools of discernment for animation, formation and missionary cooperation on the continent

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 21:15
Mexico City - The first Continental Formation Meeting for professors of Missionology and Ecclesiology is taking place in Mexico City, at the headquarters of the Pontifical Mission Societies , which from 14 to 16 February, professors in the subject, directors, coordinators and other members of the PMS from Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina, among other Latin American countries, gather together.
According to the information sent to Fides by the PMS of Mexico, which point out that the number of lay people involved in the Missio Ad Gentes in each country is considerable, the dynamic of this seminar are the workshops and round tables for dialogue theme-based, as preparation to a plenary meeting and to a final general contribution, in order to indicate new perspectives to push missionary work throughout Latin America.
Previously, always at the PMS headquarters in Mexico City, on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 February, a Commission met which, accompanied by the PMS Continental Coordinator, presented the conclusions of the research work carried out: a study of the Missionary Continental Congresses which have been held on the continent since 1977. The aim is to compile a report based on two guidelines: the methodology used in the various Mission Congresses and the priority of Missio Ad Gentes, as well as of course deepening the themes, contents, context of each Congress and other peculiar aspects.
The aim of this work is to offer discernment tools at the service of animation, formation and current missionary cooperation across the continent, highlighting errors, successes, challenges and opportunities raised. The participants in this meeting were: Fr. Ender Zapata, National Director of the PMS of Venezuela; Alexis Gil, National Director of the PMS of Colombia, Fr. Luís A. Nahuelanca, National Director of the PMS of Chile, a team from Puerto Rico and Fr. Leonardo Rodriguez, National Director of the PMS of Uruguay and Continental Coordinator of America's PMS.
Catégories: From the church