OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Catholic Mission support for victims of terrorism in Sri Lanka

Fides EN - www.fides.org - lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:47
Sydney - "I recently returned from one of the most difficult journeys of my priestly life: I visited the survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, innocent people whose lives were torn to pieces. It has been months since that terrible day and a lot has been done to help those in need, but there is still so much to do. The difficult situation of these people moved me and prompted me to write, asking for the help of the members of our Catholic community". This is the letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, that Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, Australian section of the Pontifical Mission Societies, addressed to all the Australian faithful, asking to support the victims of the attacks that last April 21, Easter Day 2019, hit three churches and some hotels in the area of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka.
"One of the moments that moved me most was the encounter with the survivors of the massacres: for example, Thilina, a 34-year-old woman who probably will need treatment for the rest of her life due to the head injury reported on April 21. Then I met many children who had lost one or both parents", says Fr. Lucas.
To support the families affected, Catholic Mission has launched a fundraiser, which will finance scholarships for orphaned children and also a post-trauma counseling program, dedicated to those who still cannot psychologically overcome the shock of the attacks.
Fr. Lucas exolains: "The diocese of Colombo has made many efforts to help survivors overcome the trauma. A program called ‘On the Road of Peace’ is already active, which consists of group therapy sessions among people who have recently experienced experiences of strong violence and others who have overcome equally difficult moments and now live happily. This serves to give hope to those who saw the Easter massacre with their own eyes".
The April 21 attacks were attributed to the "National Thowheeth Jama'ath", a local terrorist group, and caused 253 deaths. In addition to four accommodation facilities, three Christian places of worship were affected: the sanctuary of St. Anthony in Kotahena, the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo and the church of Sion in Batticaloa. In the park of the church of St. Sebastian a memorial chapel was built in honor of the victims, with funds donated by Catholics from around the world.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Pakistani Church inaugurates "The Year of Youth"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:19
Lahore - The Catholic Church in Pakistan inaugurates the Year of Youth: with a celebration held on November 16 in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Lahore, the Bishops of Pakistan announced the event before an assembly of over a thousand faithful, especially young people, who came from all the dioceses of Pakistan.
Bishop Samson Shukardin, Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Hyderabad and chosen as Coordinator for the Year of Youth, during the mass, concelebrated by all the Bishops, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, Archbishop Christophe El Kassis, said: "The Year of Youth in Pakistan is a time when the Church strengthens young people, committed to the development of young people in the educational, professional and spiritual fields, so that everyone lives with dignity. It will be a time to listen to them, to listen to the challenges they face in the modern era and to help them grow".
The Bishop encouraged priests, religious, nuns, catechists and lay people to actively take the initiative to meet young people and create opportunities to improve their skills and talents. He then said: "We must also work to reach young people who are far from faith, especially those with various types of addictions such as drugs, to listen to them and help them get out of such addictions".
After the Eucharistic celebration, a ceremony was held to declare the solemn opening of the Year of Youth. Cardinal Joseph Coutts, together with the Apostolic Nuncio and other Bishops, lit the candle of the Year of Youth.
Pope Francis also sent his cordial greetings and assured his prayers for young people in Pakistan. The Apostolic Nuncio Christophe El Kassis read the message in which Pope Francis says "pray so that in the coming months young people will grow in a prayerful union with the Risen Jesus, in the knowledge and love of the Catholic faith and in the zealous service of their brothers". In this way, putting their youth and gifts at the service of the Lord and Church, they will increasingly become "witnesses to the Gospel wherever they are", notes the Pope, entrusting the youth of Pakistan and their families to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.
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AMERICA/CHILE - "Come, Lord Jesus": Bishops’ message of hope, December 8 day of prayer for Chile

Fides EN - www.fides.org - lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:06
Lo Canas - At the conclusion of the Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Chile , the Bishops published a message addressed "to the faithful and to the communities of the Catholic Church in Chile" entitled "Come, Lord Jesus" , in which they express hope for the agreements reached in view of a new Constitution, and invite everyone to participate in the debate and announce a day of prayer for Chile on December 8th.
"We appreciate the step taken by the government and political sectors in an agreement to progress towards a new Constitution - write the Bishops in the text sent to Agenzia Fides -. It is a generous gesture that gives us hope. We hope that the new social pact will be consolidated in such a way as to open roads that will really help us to overcome the differences among brothers".
Recalling the protests and the popular discontent clearly manifested in the last month, in the face of inequalities and abuses on relevant topics such as health, environment, wages, pensions, basic services and excessive debt, the Bishops note that "there have been authorities, leaders, businessmen and political and social leaders who have not lived up to the service and responsibilities ... We too, in the Church, have disappointed many Chileans, being a cause of scandal and pain".
The statement recalls the recent pronouncements of the Bishops' Conference on the situation of the country, on the recognition of the right claims and on the condemnation of all forms of violence, reiterating the pain for the dead, the wounded, the destruction of buildings, including places of worship. "We are seriously concerned about the feeling of uncertainty and fear, the anguish of many people for not knowing what will happen tomorrow", they continue, thanking the communities, priests, religious and laity for their commitment to accompany "our people in these difficult times", offering support to those who suffer the most today", hoping that "our Church will continue to be a bridge of unity and peace, a house of protection and a common table in times of pain".
Urging to "trust in the Lord who comes", the Bishops call to intensify "four expressions of our faith at a national level, as part of our response to the situation in the country". The first is "the untiring prayer for peace and justice founded on truth and charity", with an invitation to live throughout the country a great day of prayer for Chile on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, "in which we will consecrate the country to the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary in all our Eucharistic celebrations". They then urge to increase prayer for our people and to "do penance for our personal and social sins that have contributed to injustice and violence".
They, furthermore, invite to participate in every instance of civil society "for the process of a new Constitution and for a new social pact, in a climate of respect and civil friendship". All are then called to "serve, announce and denounce in the style of Jesus", offering comfort and solidarity to the poorest and most vulnerable. Finally, the fourth commitment: "The continuity of our discernment process for ecclesial renewal, opening our hearts to the signs of the times that strongly challenge us, in order to discover what God wants for Chile and for the Church at the service of all" .
The message concludes by reiterating that "only justice leads us to peace" and asking the Lord to bless the country and all its inhabitants, making them instruments of his peace and his love, to "build a great nation of brothers, where everyone has bread, respect and joy".
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AFRICA/KENYA - Appointment of the Bishop of Eldoret

Fides EN - www.fides.org - lun, 18/11/2019 - 10:11
Vatican City - On November 16, the Holy Father appointed His Exc. Mgr. Dominic Kimengich, currently Bishop of Lodwar, as Bishop of the Diocese of Eldoret .
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/CAMEROON - World Day of the Poor, the Carmelites: "Closeness to the most needy is a priority for the Church"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 16/11/2019 - 11:43
Yaoundé - "Currently the problem of poverty in Cameroon has worsened: there is hunger, food is lacking, prices are high due to the high rate of inflation and people find it hard to get what they need. Many families cannot even cover health costs and pay school fees. It has become difficult for them to even get a meal a day". This is what Father Jerome Paluku, Secretary for Missionary Cooperation of the Discalced Carmelite Order, tells Agenzia Fides with regards to the situation that the majority of the population in the African country are facing.
In the parish of Nkoabang situated in Bitotol, a district south-east of the capital, Yaoundé, the Carmelites have been operating for over 20 years: "Our charism - he explains - is precisely that of announcement and also of solidarity, especially towards the weak, the poor, and the abandoned. We try to understand what their needs are and help them as much as possible". Just as a sign of closeness towards the most vulnerable, on Sunday 17 November, on the occasion of the third "World Day of the Poor", established by Pope Francis, special initiatives were organized in the parish of Nkoabang for people in need: "Our confreres periodically visit the many sick people in the neighborhood, bringing them, in addition to the Sacraments, also food, basic necessities and medicines".
"The hope of the afflicted will never perish" is the theme proposed this year by the Pope to all Catholics and people of good will: "Our missions in support of the Cameroonian population in Nkoabang - reports father Jerome – were carried out thanks to the collaboration of the Spanish NGO Manus Unidas, and to date they are also financed with the proceeds that derive from the activity of a farm that raises hens and pigs, and from the cultivation of palm trees". "In Nkolbisson, a suburb in the north of the capital, where our seminar is located, wells have been built to bring drinking water", he adds. The missionaries also guarantee free treatment for the sick thanks to the leper colony managed by the Carmelite nuns in the town of Douala, south of the country on the Atlantic coast. "It is a sign of closeness for these people - continues the secretary - to give them a smile and the hope of a better life".
The challenges that Cameroon has to face to improve the living conditions of its population are still many: poverty is still at 37.5%, in the scale of the Human Development Index drawn up by the United Nations it is ranked 153rd out of 187 countries. Famines, climate change and an inflation rate that is still quite high have made the predominantly agricultural economy even more unstable. "The situation - confirms Fr. Paluku - has worsened due to malnutrition and affects mainly children and the elderly, the most physically vulnerable people and often fall ill with malaria", he underlines. But even the poor are ready for solidarity: "The Cameroonian people - he concludes - are very willing to share: the little they have in favor of those in need".

Link correlati :Watch the video-interview on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - "The «portico» of the Church of Pope Francis": Cardinal Filoni at the San Damaso University

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 16/11/2019 - 09:38
Madrid - "Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis called the whole Church, which lived a moment of immobility, to a momentum and a renewed zeal in evangelization, taking into account the ecological reality, of peoples and their cultures". This was underlined yesterday, November 15, by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who took the floor during the XII Academic Day organized by the Universidad San Damaso - Faculty of Canon Law, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Madrid, of the Ecclesiastical Court and of the School of Legal Practice.
"The «portico» of the Church of Pope Francis. Vision and missionary dimension "was the theme of the Cardinal's report, who underlined how the Pope's intention is to "change a mentality, a certain «culture» of the Church, so that this passes from a sedentary, structured and quiet reality to a perspective of "Church that goes forth", in "mission in the world" ... In this context, every ecclesial activity, including the juridical, theological or simply pastoral activity, has a missionary relevance".
One must imagine entering a building that symbolically corresponds to the pontificate of Pope Francis, Cardinal Filoni explained: "Once through the door, we find ourselves facing a large courtyard, where men and women of our time stand and meet without distinction of language, race and multiple interests. This atrium opens three porches. On the first there is the incipit of a programmatic document of the pontificate of Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium, on the second that of the Canticle of the Creatures of Francis of Assisi, Laudato Sì, on the third that of the Letter on human fraternity for peace and common coexistence".
The context of the first porch essentially concerns the Church, underlined Cardinal Filoni, not the structure of the Church, but "to encounter and bring Jesus Christ to all, source of true joy". Evangelii gaudium intends to introduce the missionary transformation of the Church, "a Church that the Pope sees as a mother with an open heart, who makes her own the crises and challenges of today's world, without exclusions or selfish temptations, away from sterile and worldly controversies, which generate lacerations if not internal wars". This document, he continued, "does not end in a simple portico, but opens a path that concerns the life of the Church, her mission, her role in the world".
Since the Church of Christ is on a mission in the world, we therefore understand a second portico, on which the words Laudato Sì are engraved, "the incipit of the encyclical letter with which Pope Francis calls all Christians and those who are animated by good will, to hear the cry of the earth and the poor of the world".
The third portico concerns inter-religious dialogue, and the guide is constituted by the document "On human fraternity for world peace and living together" signed on 4 February 2019 by the Pontiff and the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyeb, at the end of the World Conference on Human Fraternity. "What the Pope particularly cares about - Cardinal Filoni said - are the relationships between religions due to too many conflicts, as well as too many intolerances and proselytism as a form of hoarding of consciences! The document, wanted by the head of the Catholic Church and by the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, has a significant historical, moral, cultural and social value, all the more because it took place in the presence of representatives of all the major religious confessions participating in the aforementioned Conference, in which they appealed to dialogue, understanding, acceptance of others and peaceful coexistence among human beings".


Link correlati :FuIl text of the Cardinal's speech, in Spanish
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Appointment of the Bishop of Aliwal

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 12:36
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed the rev. Joseph Kizito of the clergy of the same seat, currently Vicar General and Parish Priest of Aliwal North Cathedral Parish, as Bishop of the Diocese of Aliwal .
The new Bishop was born on 2 July 1967 in Kampala . He studied Philosophy at the St. Augustine’s Major Seminary, Rome , and Theology in St. John Vianney, Pretoria . He was ordained a priest on 27 September 1997, incardinated in the Diocese of Aliwal. He held the following offices: 1997-1998: Parochial Vicar of St. Francis Xavier Parish; 1998-2003: parish priest of St. Augustine's Parish in Dordrecht; 2003-2013: parish priest of Sterkspruit Catholic Church; since 2008: Vicar General of the Diocese of Aliwal; since 2013: parish priest of Aliwal Cathedral.
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AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Strengthening of police and army controls on the activities of the Catholic Church

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 12:31
Masaya - "The world sees and knows that there is no freedom of worship in Nicaragua!" says Father Edwin Roman, parish priest of San Miguel parish of Masaya, who cannot enter the church because is blocked by police and army members. Videos circulating on Social Media denounce the ultimately even stronger repression against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua by law enforcement. "We just want to celebrate a Eucharist", says Father Edwin Roman in a video, addressing the more than 30 agents who surrounded the church yesterday afternoon.
The mass, planned in particular to give comfort to mothers and relatives of political prisoners, was then celebrated without most of the family members, who were denied access and who remained outside. Only a small group, who had arrived early, managed to enter the church.
It is not the first time that the police follow or prevent the normal activities of the Catholic Church in the city of Masaya. The monthly meeting of the priests took place on November 12, but the venue of the meeting since the early hours of the morning was surrounded by policemen who prevented some of them from entering.
Father Edwin recently, speaking on television , recalled a reality: "The attacks that the Church is experiencing today exceed the attacks of those who were victims in the 1980s during the civil war in our country. In the 1980s there was the dictatorship of Somoza, this instead is a dictatorship against unarmed people".
Through Twitter, Father Roman showed the messages with the death threats he received in recent days, including one recalling the assassination of Archbishop Romero: "What happened to Mgr. Oscar Arnulfo Romero in El Salvador, must happen to you, a bullet is waiting you ...".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Lebanese crisis, the initiatives of Patriarch Rai to exorcise the ghosts of the past

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 12:04
Beirut - After the start of protest demonstrations that have shaken Lebanon since October 17, there is the prayer of the Holy Rosary in the church of the Maronite patriarchal see of Berkè every day, at five in the afternoon to invoke the gift of peace for Lebanon. The Marian prayer - to which yesterday, Thursday 14 November, an hour of Eucharistic adoration was added - is broadcast live from the Nursat television network throughout the Country, and is followed via social networks by the Lebanese spread all over the world.
The suggestion to pray every day for peace came from Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, who since the beginning of the crisis has called political leaders to listen to the legitimate requests that come from the people, and at the same time moves to stem all the drifts that could push the Land of the Cedars towards the nightmares of the past, those that had devastated the nation in the long and bloody years of the civil war.
In recent days, many have seen the ghosts of the past reappear on the horizon, especially when some groups of protesters engaged in organizing road blocks raised walls and barriers along some transit routes, precisely in places where during the civil war check points and barrier lines were located that dismantled the different areas of the Country on a sectarian basis,.
Especially the barrier created in the Nahr el Kalb tunnel, along the road that leads from Beirut to Jounieh, was impressive, from protesters with their faces covered to show leaflets with the face of Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir , in an area inhabited predominantly by Christians. That place is well known in the Lebanese collective memory, because there was a barrier that cut in two the Lebanese territory on the waterfront during the civil war. The image of the tunnel completely closed with piles of earth during the war has returned to being viral on social media, and many have read the new block built by protesters there as an expression of the typical language of the "mentality of militias", which threatens to resume the Country's scene, weakened by the economic crisis and political paralysis.
Yesterday, Patriarch Rai received Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, the party founded by former General President Michel Aoun and currently allied with Hezbollah's Shiite party in the patriarchal see. According to Lebanese television channel LBCI, the Maronite Patriarch also contacted the leaders of other Christian political formations, including the leaders of the Kataeb Party and Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces, to remind them of the danger of a return to the past. The news of contacts between the Patriarch and Christian political leaders has been denied by sources close to the two parties, but there have been no official denials from the Maronite Patriarchate. Meanwhile, after the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, contacts between Shiite and Sunni parties have been confirmed to verify the margins of consensus around the Sunni figure Mohammad Safadi as the new Premier, to give life to an "emergency government". In the past, Safadi, of the "Future" Sunni Party; he had held the posts of minister of the economy and finance minister in previous governments led by Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora and Saad Hariri himself
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AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - The violence of "nameless armed groups" paralyzes the North of the country

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 11:37
Pemba - There is no peace for the north of Mozambique. After months of attacks on villages which caused the death of many people and many were wounded, raids were carried out on the main roads, blocking the social and economic life of the entire region. "The journey from Pemba airport to the district of Mocimboa da Praia was desolating. In addition to the devastation caused by the cyclone Iday, there is also the destruction caused by the militiamen. Entire villages are abandoned by the inhabitants who, out of fear, do not dare to return", says Sister Mariaelena Aceti, General Councilor of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery, to Agenzia Fides, who has just returned to Italy from a visit to the local communities of her own congregation.
The militants have adopted a particularly violent strategy. They do not just terrorize peasants, they coldbloodedly kill them. But who are these militiamen? the religious points out: "Nobody knows exactly. They are said to be local youth. There is talk of members of jihadist movements. Certainly there are also foreigners: Tanzanians or Mozambicans who have been to Tanzania and have returned. For this reason security forces have strengthened border controls".
In July, Mgr. Luiz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of the diocese of Pemba, wrote an "Open
letter to the People of Cape Delgado", talking about this situation forgotten by the world. The prelate launched an appeal to the people: "Let us not resign ourselves to violence and let us not get tired of asking for justice and peace". The Bishop observes: "Like ghosts, the rebels appear and disappear without being seen, leaving only remains of disasters behind them. But we know that ghosts do not exist. It is a piece of sheet that hides something or someone. We have to remove this sheet to unmask those who hide behind".
"The suspicion - continues Sister Mariaelena - is that, behind these attacks, economic interests are hidden for the exploitation of natural resources. This region is rich in precious stones , precious wood and especially oil. There is fear that human trafficking of organs and illicit substances are carried out. Mgr. Luiz asked for precise and clear investigations".
In reality, the police were deployed en masse just before the October 15 elections, but failed to stop the attacks. The words of Mgr. Luiz have been defined as "defeatists" by supporters and by the press close to president Filipe Nyussi.
"The situation - concludes Sister Mariaelena - is very sad and worrying.
The entrances and exits of Mocimboa da Praia are allowed only to convoys escorted by soldiers. Circulation is limited. People are afraid. The same religious fear for their safety. And this happens in the silence of the great mass media".
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AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Sunday 17th day of prayer for Colombia: everyone is needed to look to the future with hope

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 11:36
Bogotà - In view of the national strike called for on November 21, the Colombian Bishops recall in a statement that "mobilizations are a democratic right when they are the expression of freedom and responsibility of citizens", they therefore urge "to prevent that the mobilization of citizens degenerates into aggression, looting, acts of vandalism and death" and invite people to pray for their homeland this Sunday, November 17th, in all the parishes of the Country.
In the statement sent to Fides, the Bishops recall first of all the exhortation of Pope Francis, during his visit to the Country two years ago, to "not diminish the efforts to build the unity of the nation" and to "favor the culture of meeting ", and underline:" The tiredness and the discontent that these city demonstrations express, reveal the serious problems that have not been overcome and whose origin is corruption, social inequality, unemployment and the impossibility for large sectors of the population to access basic food, health and education services".
The mobilizations are a democratic right, as long as they have the common good as their objective" and do not lend themselves to personal interests or to groups, or to support ideologies or goals foreign to the life of our communities". The Bishops call for demonstrations to be prevented from degenerating into acts of violence "which more often than not hit the poorest" and "fuel the circle of violence that we have sorely experienced for so many years and that delegitimize any protest and brings only new and more serious evils".
The Catholic Church "reaffirms that the path to overcoming social problems and the integral development of our country, passes through listening and dialogue, with the participation of all the protagonists of society. The solution depends on everyone, it is necessary to build, without delay, a common project for the country". The Bishops therefore urge government and civil society leaders "to implement initiatives that make our country a home and a home for all". "Colombia needs everyone's participation to open up to the future with hope - they underline -. The Catholic Church wants to be the first to accompany processes along the lines of integral development and peaceful coexistence".
Finally, the Bishops invite "all Catholics and people of good will to pray for our homeland" this Sunday, November 17, when World Day for the Poor is celebrated. The statement is signed by the President, the Vice President and the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia with the date of November 14, 2019.
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ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Atyrau Apostolic Administration turns 20, following in the footsteps of Blessed Bukovinsky

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 15/11/2019 - 11:36
Atyrau - "During the Last Supper, our Lord gave us the commandment of love: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" . If we want to be witnesses of Jesus in the world, we must do nothing but follow these words daily. They should become a guideline for all the actions we take in the Church. We want to be faithful to these words: this is how our Church, renewed daily by the Eucharist, can be a true sign of justice, freedom, peace and love". This was confirmed by a message sent to Agenzia Fides, signed by Mgr. Dariusz Buras and Fr. Lukasz Niemec, respectively Apostolic Administrator and Vicar General of Atyrau, in Kazakhstan. The letter comes on the occasion of the celebrations for the twentieth anniversary of the Apostolic Administration of Atyrau, established by John Paul II on 7 July 1999.
"We started the celebrations for this important anniversary - reads the letter sent to Fides - last July 7th. Since that day, we have embarked on a spiritual journey, accompanied by the figure of Father Vladislav Bukovinsky, the apostle of Kazakhstan proclaimed blessed in 2016. He was a prisoner in this country during the communist period. After his release he had the opportunity to return to his homeland in Poland, but remained in Karaganda to serve the local Catholics. Although the Blessed only passed once in our territory, precisely in the city of Aktobe, for us he remains an example, and this is why we are dedicating each month to one of his virtues". On November 9, a solemn mass was also celebrated at the church of Atyrau, which included all the bishops of Kazakhstan, some members of other Churches in Central Asia and local parishioners.
The Administrator and the Vicar report: "In these 20 years we have lived very important moments, for example those related to the opening of Churches or pastoral centers. Over the years, in cities like Atyrau, Kulsary, Uralsk, Aktobe and Khromtau, we rejoiced because the Lord gave visible signs to his Church, giving rise to places where people could gather to hear the Word, be together and live the sacraments". Other occasions of joy were the two priestly ordinations of 2017 and 2019: "Father Ruslan Mursaitov was the first local priest of the Apostolic Administration of Atyrau. This year God gave us a second priest, Filipino father Patrick Napal".
Currently the apostolic administration of Atyrau is composed of 6 parishes located in 4 regions of western Kazakhstan and led by 15 priests and 7 nuns: "The number of parishioners is constantly evolving. There are about 500 local Catholics present in western Kazakhstan, to which are added the many foreigners who come to work in this area and participate in the life of the Church", they conclude.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Andrew Kim Dae-geon, a universal saint: Unesco patronage at the Jubilee

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 14/11/2019 - 12:51
Paris - Unesco recognized the patronage at the bicentenary celebrations for the birth of Andrew Kim Dae-geon , first Korean priest and martyr. As Agenzia Fides learns, during the 40th General Conference of UNESCO held today in Paris, there are Korean civil authorities and Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, at the head of the Korean diocese of Daejeon, representing the Korean Church at the ceremony.
At the annual meeting last October, the Korean Bishops announced the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint Andrew Kim Dae-geon , the first Korean Catholic priest, beheaded in Seoul on 16 September 1846, during the wave of persecutions launched by the Joseon dynasty. Saint Andrew is one of the 103 Korean martyrs canonized on 6 May 1984 by St. John Paul II.
In a joint question, the Korean civil authorities and the Catholic Church have asked the patronage of UNESCO for the important jubilee event, and the UN body has confirmed its support.
Bishop Lazzaro You says to Agenzia Fides: "This is an important recognition because Andrew Kim Dae-geon becomes a sign of unity and fraternity at different levels: for Korean society, divided between rich and poor, or polarized for political issues; for Korea as a whole, on its path of rapprochement and reconciliation between North and South, which has recently slowed down: for the whole of humanity, marked by conflict and tension, Andrew Kim is truly a universal example, not only of apostolate and holiness, but also of promoting the values of equality, justice, dignity and human rights, culture, education, reconciliation, fruitful exchange between different cultures".
In the Diocese of Daejeon, there is a shrine dedicated to the saint, who was ordained a priest in Shanghai and, once back in Korea, was killed "in odium fidei" along with his companions. Mgr.You remarks that "his example is a light for the faithful in Korea, who today are invited to take seriously the encounter with Christ and to put into practice the evangelical values, which are universal values, for the good of humanity".
The saint, recalls Mgr. Lazzaro, "was also a bridge between East and West as he knew how to speak and write in Latin, French and Chinese, and he left several works written in those languages. He was the first Korean ever, to study Western culture and languages and with his work, he contributed to broadening mutual understanding between the West and the East".
"Today - concludes the Bishop - what keeps the spiritual, moral, cultural, pastoral and social action alive are the six thousand Korean priests engaged alongside the poor, sick and vulnerable throughout the world". The celebrations for the Jubilee of the birth of Andrew Kim will begin in Korea in 2020 and will continue in 2021. Projects are also planned, in the name of the saint, in other countries of the world.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Cardinal Suharyo: the Pope appeals to peaceful coexistence, Indonesian Catholics at the forefront

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 14/11/2019 - 12:30
Jakarta - "It was Pope Francis who urged us Indonesian Bishops to deepen the Document on human fraternity, spread in Abu Dhabi, and to put it into practice, looking at Indonesia as a modern country, where religious minorities can live peacefully with the majority of Muslims, in a social climate of respect, tolerance, fraternity": this is what Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo, Archbishop of Jakarta and President of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference, says to Agenzia Fides at the conclusion of the annual assembly of Bishops of the archipelago, held in Bandung from 4 to 14 November.
The Cardinal, noting that "our Indonesian Muslim friends have seriously studied that document", explained the final message of the assembly, recalling the challenge of religious extremism, and, in this context, the challenge of interreligious dialogue and of coexistence, in the most inhabited Muslim country in the world, where over 80 million moderate Muslims adhere to the "Nahdlatul Ulama" organization and another 60 million to "Muhammadiyah".
The Cardinal reiterates that "the Indonesian Catholic Church is being tested and called to promote fraternal brotherhood and peace, as advocated by the Abu Dhabi Declaration. This fraternal spirit must be based on the values of humanity that must be internalized on a personal and social level, and then translated into society and human relations".
The Cardinal, at the end of an assembly of the episcopate in which the text of the Abu Dhabi Declaration was deepened, notes that "each diocese should promote the content and the message of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, in every way, including the one that passes through social media", hoping that "priests and religious have the courage to 'go forth', and come into contact with communities of other religious confessions", to help build human brotherhood in the nation, in Asia, in the world.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - A political solution is urgent: the Bishops call for dialogue

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 14/11/2019 - 12:11
Lilongwe - Malawi, called "the warm heart of Africa", finds itself caught up in political turmoil. The general elections last May, which saw incumbent President Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party declared the winner by the Electoral Commission of Malawi , continue to be object of strong disputes. The two opposition leaders, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party and former vice president Saulos Klaus Chilima of the United Transformation Movement , rejected the results and have turned to the Constitutional Court. Since then the whole country has been involved in acts of violence, protests, looting and destruction .
On 27 October, the Church of Malawi called a "Day of national prayer for peace, unity and reconciliation" in which the Bishops asked in a heartfelt way to re-start dialogue between all political actors on issues of national interest . And an awareness-raising and prayer campaign continues, hoping for a peaceful confrontation between the leaders, oriented to the good of the nation.
"We Catholics of all eight dioceses in the country have prayed and we continue to do so, inviting the leaders of all political parties to find a political solution", said the president of the Bishops' Conference of Malawi, Mgr. Luke Thomas Msusa, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides.
"Unanimously, we Catholic bishops implore the ruling party to allow the leadership of the opposition party to engage in fruitful dialogue on matters of national interest. What Malawi urgently needs is a political solution. This is why all of us Catholics ask for dialogue", concludes Mgr. Msusa.
The Holy Father underlined the importance of prayers that lead to the conversion of hearts and to reconciliation, at the service of peace and social harmony.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - San Francisco de Valdivia Temple desecrated

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 14/11/2019 - 11:47
Valdivia - Sorrow for the profanation and damage caused to the church of San Francisco, heritage of southern Chile and Valdivia, were expressed by Mgr. Nelson R. Huaiquimil, Vicar General of the Chilean diocese of Valdivia. In a statement he writes: "We are deeply saddened by the destruction that the Temple of San Francisco de Valdivia has suffered, we know that the most important thing in every situation is always the people, and five Dehonian brothers, consecrated persons at the service of the community live there. They are fine, but they are experiencing a natural state of helplessness and pain. It pains us that they entered the Temple and the Blessed Sacrament was desecrated, the sacred images, the furnishings destroyed and general damage to this heritage, which belongs to all the Valdivians" was carried out.
The political and social crisis that Chile is going through is accompanied by violent and uncontrolled demonstrations that also target places of worship . The Bishops expressed their sorrow "for the attack on the churches and places of prayer without respect for God and for those who believe in him", recalling that "the churches and other places of worship are sacred" .
The Vicar general of Valdivia shares the legitimate search for justice and peace undertaken by so many Chileans throughout the country. Finally he invites everyone "to join in prayer and in the search for good, to pray for all those who have suffered violence and who cause different forms of violence", urging them to look at each other "not as enemies, but as those who are able to build together the human family that we all expect".
On the night of Monday 12 November, a group of violent people broke into the "María Auxiliadora" Shrine in Talca, destroying the sacred images, damaging the benches and profaning the tabernacle. On Tuesday, November 12, the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, Mgr. Galo Fernández, presided over the Mass of restoration, concelebrated by Salesian priests and other priests of the diocese.
Father Pedro Pablo Cuello, director of the Salesians in Talca, informed before the mass that the damages have not yet been quantified, and added: "The message I want to give to all the inhabitants of Talca, to young people, to adults and to children it is that we must work for peace, it is everyone's work, we must all work for it".
In the homily the Bishop said that "it is not the material loss of a number of benches, nor the destruction in itself of the plaster images that represent the Lord, Saints, that have hurt us. We are wounded by being witnesses of the violence we suffer in our homeland, from the disagreement among Chileans". He then urged: "Anger, violence, do not build, destroy. It does not only destroy material goods, but the most precious thing, it destroys the coexistence among brothers".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - National dialogue and the end of violence, because "Chile cannot wait!"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 13/11/2019 - 13:24
Santiago - The Episcopal Conference of Chile calls for national dialogue without exclusions and to end all forms of violence. In a message published on 12 November, as conclusion of the 119th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference held in these days in Cañas, the Bishops published the message with the meaningful title: "Chile cannot wait!".
"For the sake of our country, let us end violence! Faced with reports of violations of human rights, of deaths, injuries, vandalism, looting, destruction of public and private infrastructures, we strongly insist that all types of violence cease".
The video presentation of the message, sent to Fides, states: "Respect and dialogue are an urgency today! In the current scenario, in which the nation has been invited to a broad reflection on a new Constitution, a national dialogue is essential without exclusions, which includes not only the political protagonists, but also all men and women of good will, must involve movements and social and labor organizations, following the legitimate institutional channel.
Justice and respect for institutions are the essential condition for coexistence and the reconstruction of the social fabric", underlines the document.
"Chile cannot wait! We must all do our best to break down the walls that separate us and build bridges that allow us to meet and build a social pact that will lead us to a future with more justice, peace and dignity", concludes the document.
The situation in Chile is degenerating into uncontrolled violence in some cities: yesterday in Talca a government office and the church of Mary Help of Christians were set on fire, where they burned sacred images, musical instruments and church stalls. Last weekend the church of La Asuncion in Santiago was ransacked.
President Piñera has proposed three agreements to resolve the crisis as soon as possible . Yesterday a general strike and some demonstrations ended with acts of gratuitous violence against government offices and private properties in several Chilean cities.
The Catholic Church has been working for some time at different levels to face this crisis, suggesting a Christian solution to it , but unfortunately there is no willingness to listen.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Seminar on integral development begins today with the participation of the Holy See

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 13/11/2019 - 13:17
Abidjan - "Integral human development, the path to peace". This is the theme of the Seminar which begins today, November 13th, and ends on November 15th, organized in Abidjan by the Embassy of the Ivory Coast at the Holy See, in collaboration with the Vatican, to complete the tireless efforts of peace undertaken by Ivorian authorities, external partners and civil and religious organizations in the Country.
An important initiative especially on the eve of the presidential and political elections of 2020, which will attract the attention of the entire population. The organizers intend, through the Seminar, to highlight integral human development as "the ultimate goal, to restore man's dignity and freedom".
It is in this same perspective that the Ivorian Head of State, Alassane Ouattara, addressing his fellow citizens on December 31, 2018, announced the establishment of a "government social program" with the aim of strengthening social action to provide state support to the population, in particular the most vulnerable.
There is therefore a convergence of opinions of the highest Ivorian and Vatican authorities in giving Man, a central place in development systems, through viable models of social integration for a more stable and peaceful society, more humanized and united.
The Seminar is therefore an opportunity for the participants to compare experiences and mutual reflections, in the diversity of the activity and research sectors, around the current problems of development and solidarity, establishing a fruitful dialogue.
Mgr. Bruno-Marie Duffé, Secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for the Service of integral human development, will hold the main report on the theme "The importance and challenges of integral human development, for the future of peace" The seminar will end with a Mass for peace in the Ivory Coast, on Friday 15 November, on the occasion of the 23rd national day for peace in the Country.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PALESTINE - Bethlehem, pilgrims increase. Opening hours at nativity Church has been extended

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 13/11/2019 - 13:05
Bethlehem - The increase of pilgrims and tourists to Bethlehem continues, the Palestinian city where Jesus was born, and also for this reason the Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs in Palestine announced on Monday 11 November that it has decided to extend the opening hours of the holy site by an extra 3 hours, from 5 am until 8 pm, in preparation for Advent and Christmas. Ramzy Khoury, President of the Committee, pointed out that these efforts are being carried out in response to the increase in the numbers of pilgrims and tourists, both locally and those coming from far afield, visiting Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity. This increase in numbers, especially to the Church of Nativity, has resulted in long queues of people who have to wait from 45 minutes to 2 hours to get a glimpse of the Grotto, where according to tradition baby Jesus was born. To add to that, the church has been undergoing restoration since 2012. Restoration works are still expected to continue until next year.
Bethlehem and East Jerusalem governorates "are the main holy destinations for tourists coming to Palestine" reads a press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, published on World Tourism Day last September.
In the first half of 2019, tourist and Holy Sites in the West Bank had received 1,726,560 visits, an increase of 17% compared to the same period of 2018. The statistical data confirm Bethlehem as a favorite destination for pilgrims, especially during Advent and the time of Christmas.
The constant increase of pilgrims and tourists to the Holy Land, recorded in recent years, represents a very important objective data, especially if one takes into account the social, sectarian and geopolitical conflicts that continue to torment the Middle Eastern area .
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Ruteng

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 13/11/2019 - 12:51
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed Rev.do Siprianus Hormat, of the clergy of Ruteng, currently Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, as Bishop of the Diocese of Ruteng .
Rev.do Siprianus Hormat was born on 16 July 1965 in Cibal, in the Diocese of Ruteng. He entered the Pius XII Diocesan Minor Seminary of Kisol, then continued his philosophical and theological studies in the Philosophical-Theological Studentate of Ledalero, residing at the St. Petrus Inter-diocesan Major Seminary in Ritapiret. He was ordained a priest on 8 October 1995, for the Diocese of Ruteng.
Since his ordination he has served the following ministries: Parochial Vicar of the Parish of San Vitale in Cewonikit and Director of the Diocesan Commission for Youth Ministry ; Formator in the Major Seminary of Ritapiret ; Assistant in the Parish of San Pasquale in Jakarta, attending English language courses at the same time ; Studies in Moral Theology at the Alphonsianum and Course for Formators at the Pontifical Gregorian University ; Formator and lecturer in the Major Seminary of Ritapiret; lecturer at the Diocesan Pastoral Institute of Ruteng ; Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Seminaries and the Indonesian Biblical Association in Jakarta ; President of the National Priestly Association ; since 2016, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Conference .
Catégories: From the church

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