AMERICA/ARGENTINA - 500 years since the first mass: "May our life regain meaning, desire, enthusiasm in order to put it at the service of the poorest"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 03/04/2020 - 12:41
Río Gallegos - On the 500th anniversary of the first Mass in Argentine territory, in 1520, in the current city of Puerto San Julián, Santa Cruz, the Bishop of Rio Gallegos, Mgr. Jorge García Cuerva, celebrated on 1st April in the seat of the Bishopric a mass of thanksgiving without the presence of the faithful. The measures adopted to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in fact forced the cancellation of the events planned for some time for this jubilee .
Pope Francis sent a letter to express his closeness. Although due to the pandemic these days, humanity seems to walk "with a sad face" like the disciples of Emmaus, the Pope wrote, God is always among us in the sacrament of the Eucharist and encourages us to walk. "The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist which, silently and discreetly, has accompanied us for over 500 years - writes the Pope -, is the sacrament of the covenant that God wanted to seal with his people, with our people: He is in among us, supporting the journey. This certainty that we have inherited from our parents and grandparents is the spiritual reserve that has accompanied, shaped and forged the soul of our nation and hope that will also shape the future of our children and grandchildren".
In his homily, the Bishop took his cue from the Gospel passage of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes: "Jesus saw a large multitude that came to him and saw them in need and hungry". In this period of pandemic, he said, "the needs of our people seem to multiply and, therefore, the temptation to look the other way may arise". For this reason, he recalled that "our gaze is a reflection of the mercy of Jesus, who continues to choose sinners, the discarded of our society".
In the face of the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of many people due to the pandemic, the Bishop invited to ask oneself "What can we do?". "We can offer what little we have … Who among us does not have his 'five loaves and two fish'? We all have them! "And he added:" If we are willing to put them in the hands of the Lord, they will be enough for there to be a little more love, peace, justice and joy in the world. God is able to multiply our small gestures of solidarity".
Referring to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first Mass, Mgr. García Cuerva commented that "this April 1st we were suppose to be in San Julián and live three days of meeting and celebration, many of whom came from all over the diocese and from other parts of the country and from abroad". Then he underlined: "500 years after that endeavor, we ask the Lord Eucharist for our life to regain meaning, desire, enthusiasm and put it at the service of the poorest brothers, so that the desire of Jesus can become reality; the civilization of love, in the logic of fraternity, in the logic of giving, of meeting in diversity; because nobody saves himself alone, as the Pope told us, we are all in the same boat, in the middle of the storm, rowing together; then we all sit at his table, the table of the Eucharist, the table of the Bread of Life".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - The Church invites to practice charity with the most vulnerable and publishes a vademecum for priests

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 03/04/2020 - 12:24
Xalapa - The Catholic Church in Mexico has launched an urgent appeal to the population to practice charity and support the most vulnerable, because in the face of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, the economic crisis affects those who live day by day.
Fr. José Manuel Suazo Reyes, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa, stressed that for the quarantine during which citizens must not leave their homes, teconomy affects self-employed workers who earn something only when they work. "In these times, we try to strengthen actions of charity, because there are many people who live day by day and surely these people are the ones who will suffer the greatest impact, the consequences of this situation", he underlined. And he added that the crisis will not only be for health, but will also be economic, so "we must share, practice charity with the most vulnerable, with the most needy".
Because of this situation, "Caritas" will supply groceries to needy families, food for people living on the street and medicines, the priest said. "Caritas will continue to provide essential services, to the poorest people, because there are many poor people", he specified.
Mexico is one of the Latin American countries that postponed taking measures against the health emergency compared to other countries, so there are now contagion points in different parts of the nation. The Mexican Bishops' Conference has published a vademecum on the role of the priest during the Covid-19 emergency. It is a sort of vademecum on the exercise of the priesthood in the health emergency of the coronavirus. "The priest must be a great bridge of union between God and his children", reads the introduction of the text.
"This is not the time to relax in our spiritual life, we must not allow ourselves to lower our guard against this great risk of contagion; let us be careful to know how to take care of ourselves and how to be good shepherds of the whole Christian community that God has entrusted us". These are the main recommendations of the Mexican Bishops in the document "The priest in the face of the great Covid-19 challenge".
Responsibility, prayer, solidarity, service and prudence are the titles of each part of the document, which motivates pastoral action in this emergency situation, illustrating some elements of health prevention.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - "From pain we build unity": call of Bishops to civil society, parties, government, in the face of the pandemic

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 03/04/2020 - 11:42
Quito - "The families of Ecuador are experiencing moments of distress, pain, uncertainty ... for the proliferation of the Covid 19 pandemic in our country, a situation that requires urgent and adequate attention from all and each of us", writes the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador, in the note entitled "From pain we build unity", sent to Agenzia Fides.
According to the news gathered by Fides, the situation is dramatic. In Ecuador, 2,758 infections were recorded with 98 deaths, out of a population of 16 million inhabitants. People die at home and nobody takes away the bodies for fear of contagion. Many bodies are abandoned on the street.
In the text, the Bishops ask civil society to "strengthen unity and solidarity, to respond, with concrete actions, to the needs of people, who love life and see their brothers and sisters in a situation of high risk". Therefore from parties, movements, social and economic organizations, the Bishops "demand, in the name of God and our people suffering for the effects of Covid 19, to leave aside special interests", and underline: "political truce is imperative and national unity is imperative". Finally, the national government must provide everything necessary, such as infrastructures, medicines, health teams, "to assist, promptly and efficiently, the needs of the people infected by Covid 19".
In the end they invite us to look to Christ Jesus, "who suffers his martyrdom and his cross in every person infected by Covid 19, and who opens the way to life and resurrection", urging us to "face this crisis together in such a way that the desire of Jesus, "that they be one" is realized here and now". They conclude by invoking Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, to intercede with her beloved Son "for our dear Ecuadorian homeland and for all the countries in the whole world".
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Aborigines: quarantine as a time for reflection accompanied by John Paul II

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 03/04/2020 - 11:17
Sydney - Take advantage of the period of social isolation, aimed at containing the emergence of the Coronavirus in order to be inspired by the words that John Paul II addressed to the Aborigines and the islanders of the Strait of Torres in 1986, because "his message at the time sounded revolutionary, but in current circumstances it gives us hope and strength and the awareness of being a united nation against a common threat". This is the invitation, contained in a note, sent to Agenzia Fides, which the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Torres Strait addresses to its community.
In his 1986 message, John Paul II invited Aboriginal Catholics to put themselves in an attitude of "reconciliation" to make their contribution to the growth of the nation: "Only in this way you will give your best contribution to all the brothers and sisters in this great nation. You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. The church herself in Australia will not be fully the church wanted by Jesus until you have made your contribution to his life and until this contribution has been received with joy by others". This contribution, according to the Polish Pontiff, bears the imprint of the Holy Spirit: "During all this time the Spirit of God has been with you. Your 'dreaming' is your way of touching the mystery of the Spirit of God in you and in creation. You must continue to strive to reach God, and persist in this attitude in your life".
In this period of emergency, the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and the Strait of Torres is carrying out a service of assistance to the most needy, offering kits of personal effects for hospital stays and support via Skype for older people. A "mailing list" service has also been activated which provides updates and useful information regarding the covid-19 emergency. In this regard, the note reads: "We try to support our communities by sharing useful information to deal with this crisis. We are not expert doctors, but we suggest everyone to follow the guidelines set by the government and medical authorities. For our part, we pray that all our communities are safe: priests, families and communities are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult and challenging period".
The National Catholic Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Strait of Torres is the highest consultative body of the Australian Bishops on issues relating to native communities, which include over 130,000 Catholics. Among the activities within the Council's competence there is the sacramental journey and pastoral care, charitable support for the poor and assistance to the sick and prisoners.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/CHINA - Covid-19 emergency, help arrives at the Vatican and a letter from Chinese Catholics: "Holy Father, take care of yourself"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 03/04/2020 - 11:10
Beijing - "Holy Father, during the epidemic, may you also have your person at heart. Do it for us, 1.3 billion Catholics around the world. Please take care of yourself too!". This is the recommendation that Chinese Catholics address to Pope Francis from the bottom of their hearts. An open letter addressed to the Bishop of Rome and published today on Xinde Press website, the widest platform for Chinese Catholic communication. "The same recommendation" reads the letter "we would like to extend to those who administer Casa Santa Marta and its secretaries: may theytake care of the Pope, in this difficult period, and watch over the safety distances when he has to meet visitors. And if he must necessarily receive someone or participate in events with other people, we hope very much that the Pope will also wear a mask".
In the words of the letter addressed to the Pope one perceives the loving concern of those who also care about the health of a person they love so much, at a time when danger is incumbent on everyone. As a gesture of faith and communion, countless Chinese Catholics remained awake or woke up on purpose in the middle of the night to follow via internet the extraordinary act of prayer in times of epidemic presided over by Pope Francis on Friday 27 March in St. Peter's Square . A large number of them are following the Pope's spiritual suggestions every day to live their own Lenten spiritual journey in this time devastated by the global health emergency.
The aid collected with the coordination of Jinde Charity - as well as those sent by other communities and private citizens - are arriving in Italy and in the Vatican with the logistical support of the Italian embassy in Beijing and the Italian Foreign Ministry, which has made it possible to coordinate and organize the air transport of the collected aid. On March 28, the second shipment of aid sent by Chinese Catholics arrived at Malpensa airport , for a total value of 450 thousand euros. Through the Vatican Pharmacy, the aid was sorted to the Office of the pastoral care of the Vicariate of Rome . Large quantities of the same health devices were sorted to the Diocese of Macerata, to the Gemelli Hospital of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, to the field hospital of the National Alpine Association. The first shipment of medical devices shipped thanks to the collections of Chinese Catholics had arrived in Italy two weeks ago, in which case the protective equipment had been taken over and redistributed by Caritas Ambrosiana, in the territory of the archdiocese of Milan and in Lombardy, epicenter of the pandemic. Now the third shipment is ready to leave Beijing with the first available direct flights to Italy.
Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Pope Francis has publicly shown his closeness to the Chinese population heavily affected by the virus also with direct references expressed at the end of the Wednesday general audience or after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus. As confirmed by Mgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, quoted by Xinde Press, "through Jinde Charity, Pope Francis donated 200,000 euros unconditionally to China for prevention/epidemic projects and assistance for the elderly, to express his love for the Chinese people".
Chinese Catholics are living this emergency with a great sense of faith, comforted by the gestures and words of the Pope who calls everyone to prayer and fraternal solidarity. In addition to Italy, aid from Chinese Catholics and Protestants also arrived in South Korea and Spain, also provoking free gestures of gratitude from people affected by this spontaneous charity movement. Don Giovanni Battista Sun, President of the "Li Madou" Study Center of the diocese of Macerata, stressed that the emergency that Italy is going through, the Country of the Jesuit Matteo Ricci from Macerata, had aroused concern in all Chinese, Catholic and non-Catholic. And a Chinese scholar wanted to send 10 thousand Yuan to Jinde Charity asking to use it to send aid to the population of Macerata. The Amity Foundation, the Chinese Protestant Christian Foundation renowned for printing hundreds of millions of Chinese-language Bibles, is collaborating with Chinese Catholics to help countries most affected by Covid-19 such as Italy, Spain and Germany "in the name of all Chinese Christians". "Christian charity", says Father John Baptist Zhang, at the head of Jinde Charity, to Fides "is borderless, and especially now it is urgent to look at the sufferings of the whole human family with the spirit of Christian charity, as faith and the magisterium of all the Popes teach us".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/MONGOLIA - Appointment of the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 13:13
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed Father Giorgio Marengo, IMC, currently regional councilor of Asia, Superior for Mongolia and parish priest of Mary Mother of Mercy in Arvaiheer, as Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar , assigning him the titular see of Castra Severiana
Fr. Giorgio Marengo, I.M.C., was born on June 7, 1974 in Cuneo, Italy. From 1993 to 1995 he studied Philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy and from 1995 to 1998 Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University . From 2000 to 2006 he completed further studies at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, obtaining his Licentiate and Doctorate in Missionology. He was ordained a priest on May 26, 2001.
Since his priestly ordination he has held the following roles: Pastoral Ministry in Mongolia in Arvaiheer ; since 2003: Assigned to the Mission in Mongolia ; since 2016: Regional Councilor for Asia, Superior for Mongolia and parish priest of Mary Mother of Mercy in Arvaiheer.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Elevation of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kontagora to Diocese and appointment of the first Bishop

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 13:08
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis elevated the Apostolic Vicariate of Kontangora to Diocese, with the same denomination and territorial configuration, making it suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Kaduna. The Pope has appointed His Exc. Mgr. Bulus Dauwa Yohanna, currently Apostolic Vicar of the same see, as first Bishop of the Diocese of Kontagora.
The Diocese of Kontagora with an area of 46,000 sq km is located in north-central Nigeria and includes the States of Niger and Kebbi. The Apostolic Vicariate was led by the Fathers of the Society of African Missions . The seat of the new Diocese is the same, as well as the Cathedral , the residence of the Bishop and chancellery.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/CAMBODIA - Covid-19, Catholics nurture faith with "spiritual communion"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 13:04
Phnom Penh - As Holy Week approaches, Catholics in Cambodia continue to stay at home, given the Covid-19 emergency and, given the suspension of religious services following the epidemic, nurture their faith with "spiritual communion".
The Cambodian government has also banned all public meetings, has imposed the closure of businesses and closed schools, imposing a "community quarantine". There are over a thousand infections in the country, with 17 deaths.
The leaders of Cambodia's Catholic communities have invited the faithful to stay home and participate in religious activities via online streaming. As Fides learns, many lay Catholics are promoting their faith through prayers, reading the Bible, parying the Rosary and other forms of devotion at home. "We are in an emergency situation. Since we are told to stay home, we cannot do anything other than carry out some domestic worship activities and maintain our faith and trust. We are in spiritual communion with our Priests and with other members of the community", says 23-year-old Catholic social worker Hun Sophea. "We continue to pray intensively for these extraordinary times to end soon", she added.
Another lay person, Kim Chea, tells Fides: "Like everyone else, we are blocked at home, but above all many poor people are affected. Furthermore, it is so bad that we cannot attend masses, especially during Holy Week. Depending on the situation, we are united with the universal church and pray hard that the world will overcome this pandemic with the grace of God".
According to Catholic lay woman Khieu Yi, "we pray the family rosary and recite morning and evening prayers. Now is the time to value our faith more than before".
With the lockdown, the woman said, "the poor are seriously affected, as thousands of people in Cambodia live by the day".
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Lebanese San Charbel "co-patron" of a large trade fair and exhibition center in the Italian city of Milan for Covid-19 patients

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 12:46
Milan - Lebanese Saint Charbel, together with the Lombard San Riccardo Pampuri, will be co-patron of the new hospital set up in record time in the building of a large trade fair and exhibition center in the Italian city of Milan to host patients affected by the coronavirus epidemic. On Monday, March 30, during the blessing rite of the new health facility, the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini, entrusted "this place of care and hope to the intercession of the saint doctor Friar Riccardo Pampuri and the holy Lebanese thaumaturge Friar Charbel Makhluf". Archbishop Delpini also addressed "Mary, mother of the sick, our prayer to obtain the divine blessing on this hospital, on those who designed and set it up, on the sick who will be welcomed there and on those who will do their utmost to serve".
Riccardo Pampuri the young doctor from Trivolzio who entered the Fatebenefratelli family, is a dear and familiar saint for many Lombard Catholics. And Lebanese priest Assaad Saad, at the head of the church of Santa Maria della Sanità in via Durini, entrusted to the Maronite community, reports to Agenzia Fides that "even before the pandemic many sick people came to Milan from southern Italy for cancer treatment. They asked to venerate the saint's relics before entering the hospital".
The mortal remains of San Charbel, a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order, are venerated in Lebanon in the monastery of San Marone in Annaya, kept in a cedar urn. Countless healings, bodily and spiritually, of Christian and Muslim people are connected to the intercession of Saint Charbel, in Lebanon and throughout the world. The prodigious phenomena began to occur post mortem among those who prayed around the monk's tomb, which at that time oozed blood mixed with water. "The pandemic crisis is global", remarked Father Assaad - and perhaps the facto f having both Lebanese Charbel and Lombard Pampuri as patrons of the new hospital for coronavirus patients suggests that there is a universal horizon also in the intercession of saints, much need now".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - Covid-19: no case of infection, but preventive measures in the archdiocese of Blantyre

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 12:14
Blantyre - "Here in Blantyre, so far, there has been no case of infection verified and it would be a great grace if there were none in the future", writes to Agenzia Fides missionary Anna Tomasi of the Franciscans Auxiliary Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception who deal in particular with health, education, assistance in prisons.
"However, the coronavirus emergency - remarks the religious - is on everyone's lips here too. Covid-19 has changed the Missionary Childhood programs of our Archdiocese in Blantyre. A meeting of all the children was scheduled on March 29 and 30 in the parish of Phalombe, together with our Archbishop, Mgr. Thomas Luke Msusa, to visit the sick of the diocesan hospital 'Holy Family' and bring gifts, especially to the children. This initiative had to be canceled with great regret on behalf of the children who were already looking forward to the joy of a journey and their charitable service together with the Archbishop, who is always present at their gatherings".
"Since 20 March the government has given the order to close all schools, universities and colleges - continues Anna, engaged in Malawi for 17 years with the F.A.L.M.I. community. Malawians returning from other countries go directly into quarantine and entry to non-residents is prohibited".
The nun continues: "As for normal life, the only differences are that in front of all the shops, offices, banks, churches there are buckets with a tap and soap to wash your hands. You can still gather in parishes, but in groups of less than 100 people. While to encourage the participation of the most faithful in the Holy Masses the number can increase".
Sister Anna also says that in prisons they have forbidden entry to groups, but the relatives of the detainees go to bring food, respecting hand washing and distance. The government is also proceeding with the release of a number of detainees. 200 were released yesterday 1 April from the prison of Chichiri. We pray for everyone and we trust that this pandemic will end soon and give us the joy of resuming normal life with a new mind and heart", concludes the missionary.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Prevention is better than cure: Caritas's commitment to fight coronavirus

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 11:55
Karachi : "Prevention is better than cure. At this stage it is very important to share accurate and authentic information with people, to avoid the circulation of rumors and false information. Caritas Pakistan is continuing to sensitize people on measures necessary to be adopted so as not to be infected by coronavirus", says Amjad Gulzar, Executive Secretary of Caritas Pakistan to Agenzia Fides. The organization, reports Gulzar, "is promoting the guidelines offered by the World Health Organization and the government of Pakistan and promoting an information and awareness campaign especially in the communities and villages of rural areas and more distant from cities".
After the total lockdown imposed in the country, Caritas is now using mass media as a tool to promote people's awareness of the necessary measures to be taken in the pandemic. In the days leading up to the lockdown, training seminars were also organized in different provinces, while thousands of posters and leaflets were distributed in various cities of Pakistan to inform about the disease.
Mansha Noor, Caritas executive Secretary of the archdiocese of Karachi told Fides: "We are working to protect people from this disease to help them protect themselves, their loved ones and the community. We are also convincing people to follow the instructions to stay safe. Our volunteers trained in the archdiocese of Karachi will play a vital role in avoiding panic, in following the instructions to reduce the spread of covid-19". Noor continues: "We encourage people to wash their hands, take care of their hygiene and use alcohol-based disinfectants, to wear masks", all instructions also contained in a video message created and distributed by Caritas Karachi.
In other Pakistani dioceses as well, the awareness campaign for Caritas volunteers continues, aimed above all at the poorest sections of the population, who are the most exposed and vulnerable to contagion.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/GUINEA BISSAU - The Church makes its structures available to combat COVID-19

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 11:37
Bissau - The Catholic Church of Guinea-Bissau is ready to make its health facilities available to national authorities in the context of the fight against COVID-19. This is what emerged from yesterday's meeting, April 1 held in the Diocesan Curia of Bissau between the Secretary General of Caritas Guinea-Bissau and a government delegation, composed of the ministers of health, economy and the coordinator of the inter-ministerial commission.
Ms Maria de Fátima Gomes, Secretary General of Caritas Guinea Bissau, said that His Exc. Mgr. Camnate Na Bissign, Bishop of Bissau, offered the support of the Church and thanked the government for the trust.
"The government can be sure that we will cooperate in case of need, through our hospitals where we already have an emergency plan", said the head of Caritas.
Regarding the uncertainties related to the increase or not of cases of infection in the Country, the General Secretary of Caritas Guinea says that precautions have already been taken, which necessarily include the "stock" of medicines and basic foods to possibly support families in need.
"Caritas is preparing help for the most needy families in case the situation gets worse, and we will do it through surveys that will be carried out through our structures in the parishes and we will take the government's request seriously because the role of the church is to serve", she said.
It should be stressed that support will also be extended to the various health centers in the Country.
Caritas Guinea-Bissau conducted a national awareness campaign through its parish structures, distributed posters on how to prevent coronavirus and offered bleach to the most needy.
Meanwhile, Guinea-Bissau health authorities announced on April 1 that the number of coronavirus-infected people in the Country has increased to nine, based on test results obtained in the past 24 hours. The new patient, who joins the eight already known cases, is a 23-year-old Guinean citizen who returned from Senegal where he is studying on March 10.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Religious congregations and dioceses provide homes and spaces for coronavirus patients

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 11:23
Santiago - "Chile and the world are experiencing a serious health reality. The global spread of Covid-19 has caused a painful number of victims and highlighted the needs and shortcomings of the various health systems. This is a problem that affects everyone and everyone can contribute so that this virus, which affects many brothers and sisters, does not continue to expand. We invite female and male congregations who have retreat houses and who believe they can make them available to the State, to send the list to the Ministry of Health and will be contacted to discuss the conditions of use". This is the request that Father Héctor Campos, OFM Cap., President of Conferre and Sister Sara Romero MSsR, Executive Secretary, addressed to the Superiors of religious institutes, to members of the executive council, to coordinators of Chilean departments, commissions and diocesan centers.
According to the news sent to Fides, the Episcopal Conference will establish dialogue with the mayors and provincial directors of Health. According to the Ministry of Health, 2,738 positive coronavirus cases and 12 deaths were recorded on March 30 in Chile. In response to Conferre's appeal, the congregations that have made their homes available for the treatment of patients with Covid 19, in various Chilean locations, are: Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Clerics of San Viatore, Company of Jesus, Mercedari Missionaries, Congregation of the Sacred Hearts, Salesian Congregation, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Marist Brothers, Friars Minor .
The Archbishopric of Santiago has added 15 new ecclesial spaces to face the health crisis and to welcome the sick and people who live on the streets. To the four houses already offered to the authorities last week, the Archbishopric added two of its institutional buildings and thirteen parish infrastructures, to collaborate with the government in the prevention and control of the crisis caused by the pandemic.
With an online blessing prayer, the Archbishop of Santiago, Mgr. Celestino Aós, also inaugurated the "We are with you" telephone service and video calls which wants to listen and accompany people in the perspective of faith - not just Christians - who are going through difficult times because of the emergency caused by the coronavirus.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Missionary Childhood: family prayer to stop the pandemic

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 02/04/2020 - 11:06
Leticia - Sister Celina Mota Sánchez, diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Apostolic Vicariate of Leticia, Colombia, explains to Fides the pastoral and humanitarian initiatives taken since the government's provisions for the pandemic have been in place due to Covid-19. She is in the city of Leticia, where she is under quarantine in the house of the Vincentian nuns.
Sister Celina underlines an important thing: as a Church everyone has moine forces to support the faithful from a spiritual point of view, "together with priests, men and women religious, parents, teachers and children of missionary childhood and adolescence, family prayer has intensified with the children of the MCA since the news of the pandemic. The mysteries of the Holy Rosary are sent to them in audio, so that families pray the Holy Rosary every day. The prayer of the blood of Christ and drawings are also sent, so that children can color them and always have God in mind, have a means of personal communication with him".
The priests - the religious continues - broadcast the Eucharistic celebrations in the churches from a police radio station, at 7 am, every day. The parish priest of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace sends the Gospel in audio every day through WhatsApp so that people can listen to it and meditate as a family. "Thanks to the police, controls have been intensified, because this is a border territory where foreigners come and go, but now the situation is under control, and border have been closed. So far there is no positive case of covid-19".
The testimony of the religious is just one of many that show how the Church in Colombia is experiencing this situation of crisis together with the population.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo tests positive for coronavirus; cases are increasing in Africa

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 13:35
Ouagadougou - Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Cardinal himself announced it through a note from the Vicar General, Fr. Alfred Ouédraogo "We want to inform you that we received the results of the test from the Archbishop. The test is positive and His Eminence has been transferred to the former Les Genêts clinic", says the note. "The Cardinal asked to forward the information to the people of God. He asked to remain united in prayer for him, for all the other sick people and for those who take care of them", he added.
Cardinal Ouédraogo had been tested on the night of March 27-28 before going into self-isolation pending the results. Previously also His Exc. Mgr. Séraphin François Rouamba, Archbishop emeritus of Koupèla, had tested positive for Covid-19.
Burkina Faso has the largest documented coronavirus outbreak in West Africa, with 261 documented cases as of March 31, 32 recovered and 14 died. On March 18, the local Episcopal Conference adopted all the necessary measures to contain the coronavirus, according to what established by the civil authorities, suspending, in the whole national territory, all the celebrations and pastoral activities, urging the use of the media for the broadcast of Masses and other religious services.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Africa are: South Africa 1,353; Algeria 716; Egypt 710; Morocco 617; Tunisia 394: Burkina Faso 261; Cameroon 209; Ivory Coast 179; Senegal 175; Ghana 161; Mauritius 143; Nigeria 139; DRC 109.
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Appeal from Christian associations and communities: Opening of "health corridors" for Iran and the urgent need to stop sanctions

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 13:16
Rome – The creation of a "health aid corridor" to bring essential medicines and medical supplies to Iran to combat the Coronavirus epidemic; immediate suspension of the economic sanctions affecting the Country, to allow the supply of all the goods useful to stem the health emergency: are the requests contained in an appeal signed in Italy by associations, Christian communities, individual personalities of culture and acronyms engaged in the protection of rights and humanitarian relief initiatives.
The appeal is addressed in particular "to the States least affected by the emergency", and is addressed for information to the Supreme Guide of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, to the President of the European Parliament Davide Sassoli and to the Head of the Italian State, President Sergio Mattarella. "It is well known that Iran, one of the Countries most affected by coronavirus", reads the text of the appeal sent to Agenzia Fides, "is unable to receive the essential medical aid to contain the epidemic, as they are still blocked by international sanctions".
The appeal stresses that access to medicines, medical equipment and treatment "is a fundamental human right enshrined in the United Nations Charter", and that "the International Court of Justice has established that all sanctions that violate the humanitarian activity must be suspended, and the free access of States to safeguards and resources designed to avert health crises and natural disasters must be authorized ". Everyone is asked for "proof of humanity, civilization, brotherhood and even intelligence", also considering the fact that "the epidemic in progress in Iran poses a serious threat not only to the Iranian people, but to all peoples of the region and for all humanity, which cannot be considered risk-free until the Iranian problem is resolved". The pandemic crisis, in fact, is making it clear to everyone that as long as only one outbreak remains active, "nobody will be able to consider themselves safe from the epidemic. It is therefore the moment to implement a strong solidarity and an active brotherhood among peoples".
The appeal is signed by the representatives of European Women For Human Rights. Among others, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, the Religions for Peace association, Cipax , the Romanian Fraternity led by Fr Luigi Verdi, the International Association Karol Wojtyla, the Islamic theologian Shahrzad Houshmand Zadeh, Professor Gianfranco Pasquino, the writer Paolo Rumiz, the Tevere Institute, the President of the UCID Catholic Union of Business Leaders) Gianluca Galletti, the writer and photographer Monika Bulay have joined the appeal.
In mid-March the letter that Iranian Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad had addressed to Pope Francis was made known, asking him to intervene to ensure that sanctions against Iran were lifted, especially that concerning medical care.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA - On Easter Sunday the consecration of Latin America to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to invoke the end of the pandemic

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:42
Mexico City - The Presidency of the Latin American Episcopal Council , together with the Bishops of Mexico, on Easter Sunday, April 12, will celebrate at 12 noon , the Act of consecration of Latin America and the Caribbean to Our Lady of Guadalupe, "to invoke the end of the pandemic". As the President of CELAM, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, Archbishop of Trujillo, writes, "the present moment requires us, as Pastors, to see and listen to the afflictions of our peoples, to instill hope by looking at our Mother of Heaven". He therefore invites all the countries of the continent to join, through the media, the celebration to be held in the Mexican National Basilica. At noon on April 12, the bells of all the churches of Latin America and the Caribbean will ring, which will mark the beginning of the prayer of the missionary Rosary, offered for the health of the people of the five continents, followed by the resurrection Easter Mass which will conclude with the act of consecration to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
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ASIA/INDIA - Hospitals and Christian doctors at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:36
New Delhi - "Over 1,000 hospitals and 60,000 beds guaranteed by Christian institutes, hospitals and clinics are ready and equipped to provide medical care to Covid-19 patients. Christian communities in India are strongly and traditionally engaged in social works in the field of education, health care and assistance to the poor and needy": this is what Redemptorist Father Mathew Abraham, president of the Christian Coalition for Health and general director of the Catholic Health Association of India reports to Agenzia Fides .
Father Mathew Abraham expressed the coalition's full solidarity with the government to address the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that "Christians will work in the best possible way for the health and well-being of the nation's people in order to combat the pandemic" .
For days, Christian hospitals have re-organized their wards, staff, and health care equipment to address the challenges posed by the disease, and "are already working with local government health officials in this effort against this pandemic". In particular, those situated in remote areas "are preparing handmade masks or plastic coveralls as protective equipment for their health workers", it notes.
The coalition unites the health networks managed by various Christian denominations in India, and also makes use of the work of over 1,000 female doctor and about 50,000 Catholic nurse nuns.
A month ago, the Coalition launched an online "Help Desk" at its headquarters in Hyderabad to assist people under stress due to the coronavirus crisis, available on the website or www.coronacare.life.

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AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Resignation of the Archbishop of Bloemfontein and appointment of the new Archbishop

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:23
Vatican City - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bloemfontein , presented by His Exc .Mgr. Jabulani Adatus Nxumalo, O.M.I.
At the same time he appointed Archbishop of the same Metropolitan See His Exc. Mgr. Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.J., currently Bishop of the Diocese of Kokstad.
His Exc. Mgr. Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.I., was born on February 20, 1957, in Umlamli in the diocese of Aliwal. He made his religious profession in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on January 28, 1982. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the St. Joseph Major Seminary, in Cedara. He was ordained a priest on April 25, 1987.
Since his ordination he has carried out the following roles: 1987-1990: Parish vicar in the parish of Sterkspruit; 1990-1993: parish priest in Burgerdorp; 1994-1997: Master of the pre-novitiate of the S.C.I Province; 1998-2003: General Councilor for Africa and Madagascar of the Central Government of his Institute, in Rome; 2004-2005: Sabbatical Year; 2005-2010: Master of the pre-novitiate, Local Superior of the Community in Bethulie and Director of the Dehonian House, in Scottsville ; 2011-2013: Ministry in the parish of Sterkspruit, in the diocese of Aliwal; From February to May 2013: Provincial Superior in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of South Africa.
Appointed Bishop of Kokstad on May 6, 2013, he received the Episcopal Consecration on August 3. He holds the Office for formation, life and apostolate of the laity within the Episcopal Conference of Southern Africa.
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AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "Hope and support" of the Episcopate for the one-month humanitarian truce of ELN

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:10
Bogota - "A hope of relief for the Colombian people, especially for those who suffer the consequences of the armed conflict more severely": with these words the Bishops of Colombia accepted the announcement of a one-month unilateral ceasefire, from April 1, of the National Liberation Army , for humanitarian reasons related to the pandemic.
In this hour of trial and great suffering for all Colombians, the Bishops call on "all illegal armed organizations to stop all attacks, acts of violence, kidnappings, threats and extortions, including verbal violence".
"We join the urgent appeal of Pope Francis and the appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations saying that the current health and social emergency requires stopping the dynamics of violence, in order to encourage humanitarian aid and the care of those who are in the most serious conditions of vulnerability. We extend this request for violence to end in families, since they are the first space in which the peace of society is cultivated".
In the declaration sent to Agenzia Fides, signed by the President, Vice-President and Secretary General of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, considering the current situation, we invite you to adopt the necessary changes for the common good, to overcome the difficulties "with responsibility , dialogue and unity of the nation". The Bishops conclude by expressing encouragement and support to the national government, so that it continues to work in order to create "spaces and scenarios for dialogue to continue the process of reconciliation, unity and peace in the country, with the support and commitment of all citizens".
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