VATICAN - "Cordial meeting" between Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 21:07
Munich - Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, and Chinese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, met in Munich and had a talk yesterday afternoon, Friday 14 February, within the context of the Munich Security Conference 2020, the annual conference on global security policies that has been taking place every year in Munich since 1963. It was the first official meeting of this kind between a representative of the Holy See and a member of the government of the People's Republic of China.
"During the discussion, which took place in a cordial atmosphere", reports the press release issued by the Vatican Press Office late on Friday, February 14, "they discussed the contacts that have taken place between the two countries “which have developed positively over time". In particular, "the importance of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops, signed last 22 September was highlighted, and the “willingness to continue the institutional dialogue at the bilateral level to promote the life of the Catholic Church and the good of the Chinese people" .
The meeting also expressed common appreciation "for the efforts being made to eradicate the coronavirus epidemic as well as solidarity with the affected population". In addition, "greater international cooperation to foster peace in the world and considerations on intercultural dialogue and human rights were exchanged". Agenzia Fides, 15/2/2020)
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - Coronavirus: Masses and meetings suspended indefinitely in the Archdiocese of Singapore

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 20:51
Singapore - In the fight against the spread of the coronavirus , the Archdiocese of Singapore has decided to suspend the celebration of all Masses on Sunday and weekdays from February 15th until further notice. The Archdiocese - which includes 32 churches - has warned parish priests and lay communities that all other public events involving large numbers of people, such as faith formation meetings, retreats and seminars, should also be suspended. At the end of last month, the Archdiocese had already exempted those who were sick or had flu-like symptoms from attending Mass.
In a letter sent to Fides, the Archbishop of Singapore William Goh recalls that in recent weeks the local Church has been working to minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19 outbreaks in its institutions and among priests, inviting to measure people's temperature. However, this measure is not a fool-proof screening tool, as even asymptomatic people can be carriers of the infection.
The Archbishop underlines that the suspension of Masses does not mean that Catholics can feel exempted from the fulfillment of their main religious obligation, and adds that they can follow the broadcast of the Mass on YouTube or on the CatholicSG Radio mobile application. He therefore invites us to pray for this virus to be contained and eradicated, and also for those on the front lines - doctors and nurses - who are putting their health at the service of the sick.
For weddings and funerals, these are considered private services which means only invited guests can attend. Arrangements will have to be made with the parish priests, following all precautionary measures according to the Catholic Medical Guild.
Until February 14, 67 confirmed cases of Covid-19 had been registered in Singapore. Of these, 17 were discharged from the hospital while another 6 remain in the intensive care unit and are seriously ill.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/BURUNDI - Resignation of the Bishop of Bururi and appointment of successor

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 20:37
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Bururi, Burundi, presented by Bishop Venant Bacinoni.
The Pope has appointed as bishop of the same diocese the Reverend Salvator Niciteretse, of the clergy of Burundi, currently secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the Lay Apostolate.
The Reverend Salvator Niciteretse was born on 2 August 1958 in Rutwenzi, diocese of Bururi, and entered the minor seminary of Kanyosha . He obtained a humanistic diploma from the middle seminary of Bujumbura , and completed his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in the major seminary of Bujumbura , and in theology in the major seminary of Burasira . He was ordained a priest on 9 July 1989 for the diocese of Bururi.
Since priestly ordination he has held the following offices: parish vicar of Murago and parish priest of the same parish, and national chaplain of the Xaveri Movement ; parish priest of the Cathedral of Bururi and diocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies ; higher studies at the Pontifical Lateran University, where he was awarded a licentiate in pastoral theology and a doctorate in the social doctrine of the Church ; secretary of the Episcopal Commission for the Lay Apostolate, professor at the Major Seminary of Gitega and of Kiryama; and African representative at the International Forum of Catholic Action.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Another priest kidnapped in Nigeria

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 20:33
Abuja - "We are sure that he is alive, and since the incident, steps have been taken to ensure that Rev. Fr. Nicholas Oboh is released without any harm", said Fr. Osi Odenore, Chancellor of the Diocese of Uromi, in a press conference in which he denounced the kidnapping of Fr. Nicholas Oboh, who works in the diocese of Uromi, in the state of Edo, in southeastern Nigeria. Fr. Odenore said that the priest was kidnapped yesterday, February 14, but did not specify in which area the kidnapping took place. Fr. Odenore concluded his speech by asking for prayers for the rapid release of Fr. Oboh.
Kidnappings for extortion purposes have plagued several areas of Nigeria for some time. In adition to the kidnapping of Fr. Oboh, also several children were kidnapped at the same time in Umelu, in the state of Edo, when bandits attacked the village. After robbing the residents, the bandits fled with the four children. Despite paying a ransom, only one of them has so far been released.
Among the people kidnapped there are priests and men and women religious. The last in order of time are the four seminarians kidnapped from the major Seminary of the Good Shepherd of Kakau, in the State of Kaduna, in north-west Nigeria, by armed men on the night of January 8 . The youngest of these, Michael Nnadi , was killed while the other three were released .
At his funeral , His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of Sokoto, addressed harsh words against President Muhammadu Buhari, who had been elected on the promise to restore security in the Country. Mgr. Kukah contested not only the insecurity that reigns in Nigeria, but also the policies that have deepened the ethnic and religious divisions between North and South.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - The prayer of children is what pleases the Lord: Cardinal Tagle visits Bambino Gesù Hospital

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 20:19
Vatican City - The first official commitment of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle in Rome, after the appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, was the visit to the children hospitalized in Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome, on Friday February 14.
The occasion arose from the presentation of the book "Children are Hope" , a collection of drawings that children from all over the world gave to Pope Francis.
"It is a book that takes me back to my family roots, when in the evening we would always flip through the same images in simplicity and with such serenity", said the Cardinal to the children who he repeatedly invited to be happy and confident towards the future. "The Church has a future because there are children", stressed the Cardinal Prefect during the presentation of the book. "In Manila, the girls of the house for street children 'Bridge of life towards hope', which Pope Francis during his visit wanted to visit unexpectedly, when they learned of my departure for Rome, they organized a simple feast to greet me with songs dances, prayers and even many tears. They asked me to tell Pope Francis not to forget this house, to tell him that he remains in this house in the memory of the children. The girls promised that they will pray every day for me and I believe that the prayer of children without speculation, without too many words, with smiles and tears, is the prayer that pleases the Lord".
Cardinal Tagle, who before the meeting with journalists, visited the young patients hospitalized in the pediatric hospital accompanied by President Mariella Enoc, stayed with them and their family members and greeted the children and invited them to keep a ‘permanent smile on their faces’.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Father Pier Luigi Maccali: the thorns and flowers of a kidnapping

Fides EN - - sam, 15/02/2020 - 20:02
Niamey - "No information, no sign that will help us give a real name to what has happened and to glimpse the path to follow", writes Father Ceferino Cainelli, Provincial Superior of the Society for African Missions, since the kidnapping of Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli from the Bomoanga mission .
"The pain caused by the absence of Fr. Pier Luigi, after a year and five months of his kidnapping, is very much felt. The thorn continues to be present and hurts a lot", writes Fr. Cainelli, who adds that "in the meantime, beautiful flowers of solidarity and hope, of sharing and growth in faith have sprouted".
"One of these is offered by the Diocese of Crema which, since the kidnapping of Father Pier Luigi, gathers every month to show its 'patient and persistent hope' in faith, flower of light and faith, of perseverance in prayer, of prophetic communion, of the Church on the way.
"We missionaries of the SMA - concludes Fr. Cainelli - feel in deep communion with this diocese from which our confrere comes from. We sincerely thank his Bishop, Msgr. Daniele Gianotti, the Missionary Office and the whole Diocesan community, for having involved us every time in these moments of prayer, which encourage and console us, which make us grow as a Church, and that make us share the same mission and the same hope".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Aid to religious minorities and Dalits from the government of Orissa

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 12:51
Bhubaneswar - The government of the state of Orissa, led by Prime Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik, has allocated 16 million Indian rupees as a special contribution to religious and social institutions of Christian and Muslim religious minorities present in the State, also in order to create structures for the pilgrims of the community. As Fides learns, the funds will be paid by the "Special Problem Fund", a state fund dedicated to interventions in situations of particular need.
About 60 representatives of the Christian and Muslim community met with Prime Minister Naveen Patnaik on February 13, expressing "gratitude for the financial support for the development of minorities", said Mgr. Prasanna Pradhan, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhuabaneswar, on behalf of the Christian community of Orissa. Various Muslim and Christian institutes will benefit from it, including the community of Missionaries of Charity. "The Sisters of Mother Teresa are grateful to Naveen Patnaik for having named a road to Mother Teresa on September 4, 2016. In the name of our saint, we will continue to offer our contribution to humanity through service and charity to others", said Rangina Kerketta, Superior of the Missionaries of Charity in Bhubaneswar.
The government of Orissa has also issued another provision of the government that has set up a special Commission for the disadvantaged classes, an organization dedicated to the specific work of finding ways for the social, economic and cultural promotion of backward populations, the poor, the outcasts, Dalits who, according to official data, make up 54% of the total population of the state. The Commission will mainly promote the education and vocational training path among the poorest and weakest social groups in the state of Orissa.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Appointment of the Rector of the "Saints Peter and Paul" philosophical seminary in Ouagadougou

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 12:40
Vatican City - On 25 April 2019 Card. Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rector of the "Saints Peter and Paul" inter-diocesan major philosophical Seminary in the archdiocese of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the rev. Guy Mukasa Sanon, of the archdiocesan clergy of Bobo-Dioulasso.
The new Rector was born on 14 September 1968 in Toussiana and was ordained a priest in 1996. He went to the minor Seminary of Naxos , the "Saint Jean" major Seminary and the Koumi major Seminary. He holds a degree in Philosophy from the Université Catholique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest and a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters from the Catholic University of Leuven . After his priestly ordination he was parish vicar, parish priest of the Cathedral of Bobo-Dioulasso, formator at the minor Seminary of Naxos, professor and formator in the seminary of which he was appointed rector.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - New massacres in Ituri

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 12:31
Kinshasa - Massacres continue in general indifference in Ituri, in the province of North Kivu, in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, attributed to the ADF . According to reports and sent to Fides by the Center for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights , a local NGO for the defense of human rights, between 7 and 9 February several civilians were massacred,.
In particular, on February 7, 8 civilians were slaughtered by ADF men in the village of Sibe. On February 8, another 12 people were killed in a village, while another 3 in the village of Toko-Toko. On Sunday 9 February, terrorists attacked the village of Makeke where they killed 3 women and 4 men with machetes. One of the attackers was captured by the police. His companions then attacked the police post, and managed to free him. Another 9 civilians were captured and forced to bring plundered assets during the raid.
Following these incursions, the populations of the affected villages took refuge in the city of Beni. We are talking about 20,000 families for a total of more than 200,000 displaced people, some of whom have found shelter with family and friends, but the rest are forced to camp in makeshift shelters.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - The Church renews its commitment to dialogue for social harmony

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 12:02
Bangalore - The Church in India is committed and will continue to commit itself to promoting dialogue and social harmony, also and above all in the midst of conflicts or social and political crises: says Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India , opening the 34th plenary assembly of the conference, held every two years. The meeting of the Bishops, which takes place from 13 to 19 February in Bangalore, focuses on the theme "Dialogue, the way to truth and charity". "The Church has always been at the service of society", he recalled, stressing the need for dialogue which "is the tapestry of different cultures, languages and ethnic diversity" constitutive of India. The Catholic Church in India, at the start of a new decade, would move forward to a dialogue with all groups in society: this includes civic bodies, government and non-governmental organizations, religious communities, so as to "create a peaceful and harmonious environment for all to live as true citizens of the rich land, India", remarked the Cardinal. The Cardinal assured that the Church in India will continue to "live the gospel values of peace, joy and harmony and always work for the whole humankind".
"I place into the Lord’s hands this Plenary Assembly and pray that the fruits of the deliberations may inspire us to continue to build bridges, first by understanding the other person and then walking along with him/her, irrespective of his caste, creed, colour", he reiterated.
The Plenary Assembly of Bishops had focused on a similar theme 20 years ago: the Indian Church now wants to give new impetus and vitality to this theme, strengthening networks and institutions to improve dialogue, explained the Cardinal. "The Church in India was a pioneer in education, medical and health services besides social upliftment. The Church always stood as the light of the world and helped others as well to witness the same light and truth. The church is always identical with such lofty ideals", he said.
On the days of the meeting, the participants of the assembly discuss the central theme, in order to discover new ways to promote dialogue and unity within and outside the Christian community. Representatives of other religions are also invited to some assembly sessions to share their views and offer their views.
Bishop Joshua Mar Ignathios, vice president of the CBCI and interim secretary general, confirmed that "the Catholic Church in India firmly believes that dialogue with different groups, religions, ethnic and cultural entities including all civil, governmental and non-governmental bodies, is necessary to create a peaceful and harmonious environment so that we can all live as authentic citizens, custodians of inalienable dignity and rights".
CBCI has turned 75, and is one of the largest Bishops’ conferences in the world. It is made of 174 dioceses with over 200 active bishops and 64 retired bishops. Through its various commissions, the Conference organizes pastoral and social services to the faithful and to all Indian citizens, without any discrimination in the field of education, social assistance, health care, development.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - An "outgoing continent": Missiologists' Seminar, PMS continental assembly and launch of CAM 6

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 11:05
Mexico City - Three important events are taking place in Mexico City these days, which concern the pastoral and missionary conversion of the Church on the American continent in the perspective of Pope Francis' Evangelii Gaudium. The first, which begins today, is intended for missiologists. The continental Seminary of Missiologists is held from 14 to 16 February, which aims to trigger an academic reflection on the content and methodology of teaching theology and missiology in America. This space of study, reflection and discussion, under the title "Transforming oneself to Con-forming an Outgoing Church", will try to respond to the current challenges of the mission ad gentes, offering a contribution to the missionary maturation of the communities, pastors and continental institutions.
On Sunday 16 February, in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the celebration will take place for the official launch of the path towards the VI American Mission Congress , to be held in Puerto Rico in 2023. The Mass will be presided over by Archbishop His Exc. Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies . It will be concelebrated by numerous Bishops and priests, as well as by the National Directors of the PMS from all over America, who from February 17 to 20 will give life to the PMS Continental Assembly. Representatives from 23 American nations are expected to attend. In this context, particular attention will be given to the contribution of the PMS to the evangelization of young people, in the perspective of the recent Synod of Bishops on young people, and to the socio-political situation of each country in a missionary key.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/SYRIA - The Syrian Parliament recognizes and condemns the Armenian Genocide

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 10:52
Damascus - The Assembly of the Syrian people, in the session of Thursday 13 February, unanimously approved a resolution that recognizes as "Genocide" the historical tragedy of the massacres of Armenians perpetrated in the Anatolian Peninsula in the years 1915-1916. "Parliament" reports a statement released by official Syrian media "recognizes and condemns the Genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman state at the beginning of the 20th century".
With yesterday's vote, Syria becomes the first Arab Country to officially recognize and at the highest institutional levels the genocidal nature of the planned persecutions unleashed 105 years ago against the Armenian populations of the territories of present-day Turkey. The resolution of the Syrian People's Assembly comes after weeks of tensions between Ankara and Damascus, following the clashes between the military forces of its countries that took place in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, where the Syrian government army is besieging the last controlled areas by Islamist militias. Syria's recognition of the Armenian Genocide prompted Turkey's immediate official reaction: Hamy Aksoy, a spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry, published a very harsh declaration, in which the Syrian resolution condemning the Armenian "genocide" is labelled as "the image of hypocrisy of a regime that for years indulged all kinds of carnage towards its own people, including those against children; a regime that caused millions of its compatriots to flee and is renowned for its unscrupulousness in the use of chemical weapons".
On March 4, 2015, the Assembly of the Syrian people had already dedicated a "commemorative session" to the Armenian Genocide. The initiative, promoted in particular by Syrian Christian MP Maria Saadeh, had seen the involvement of the members of the Parliamentary Committees for foreign relations and the participation of the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Syria, Arshak Poladyan, who in his speech had recalled the reception received a hundred years earlier in Syria by Armenians fleeing the massacres planned by the Young Turks government.
Recently , an appeal to return to Syria and rebuild their homes devastated by the conflict was addressed by President Bashar Assad to the Syrian Armenians who fled the Country in the years of the conflict, finding refuge in Lebanon, in Armenia or other Middle Eastern and Western countries. The explicit return request addressed to Armenian refugees was expressed by the Syrian leader on the occasion of his meeting with Aram I, the Armenian apostolic Catholicos of the Grand House of Cilicia, received in Damascus by President Assad on Tuesday 14 May. On that occasion, the Syrian government media had also reported the praises addressed in that circumstance by Assad to the "patriotic spirit" of the Armenian Syrians, whom he called "exemplary citizens": the Syrian President had praised the contribution they offered to the defense of national unity in the face of the attempt to dismember the Country carried out by what Assad had defined as "terrorist barbarism". Assad had also compared the brutality he attributed to this "terrorist barbarism" with the ferocity of the massacres committed by the Ottomans against the Armenian people.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Let's free ourselves from indifference and media sensationalism, let's look at the distressing reality of the natives

Fides EN - - ven, 14/02/2020 - 10:38
Buenos Aires - An invitation to look, in the light of the newly published Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia, at "the distressing reality that indigenous and even Creole peoples of the Argentine Chaco live due to the malnutrition and death of children, the lack of drinking water and other scourges", was launched by the Episcopal Commission of Aboriginal Pastoral Care of the Argentine Episcopal Conference.
In the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, which bears today's date and is signed by Mgr Luis Scozzina, Bishop of Oran; Mgr. Juan José Chaparro, Bishop of Bariloche, and Mgr. Ángel José Macin, Bishop of Reconquista, the Bishops say: "We cannot give immediate responses to the social and health emergencies that many communities live, but to take on a merciful attitude that frees us from indifference and media sensationalism and be sympathetic towards the suffering of the most forgotten".
Quoting the words of Pope Francis in the Exhortation Querida Amazonia on the situation of Aboriginal peoples, the Episcopal Commission warns: "A society that is unable to take care of the most vulnerable children and groups runs serious risks of implosion and death. We cannot mortgage the future or let them steal our hope". In concluding the message, the Bishops reaffirm the need to listen to the cry of the indigenous communities, which challenges the Church and society, and calls to dialogue with civil society organizations, with the local, provincial and national government, in order to undertake concrete actions that modify the current tragic reality.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Elections, a light of hope for the country that must be nurtured and protected

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 13:27
Managua - Future elections, which have yet to be determined, open a constitutional and peaceful possibility of emerging from the current social, political and economic crisis that Nicaragua is experiencing: this is what the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua highlights in a message sent to Fides, which bears the date of 10 February. The event turns on a light of hope for the country, however this light is threatened by protagonism, personal or group ambitions, so the Commission calls on members of civil society to work as true citizens who love their homeland.
In order to succeed in this project, the Commission warns that freedom of expression must be re-established. This entails a "substantial electoral reform, the change of the electoral authorities and a broad national and international observation", reads the text of the Commission, which concludes as follows: "We are in solidarity with the pain of families who suffer for their political prisoners, disappeared, besieged, dead and exiled".
The Bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Mgr. Rolando Álvarez, has also asked Nicaraguan political parties to work together for an electoral reform that considers "fair and necessary" in the face of the presidential elections to be held next year. Archbishop Álvarez, in his homily last Sunday, said: "all political parties in Nicaragua have a historical debt with the people, and they have to pay it now. Because it is now that there is an opportunity to do it".
Human rights organizations have documented eight cases of torture in the past few days. The victims are young opponents of the government, attacked by alleged members of paramilitary groups and the police, which constitutes a serious violation of human rights.
Only now have supplies of press material from La Prensa newspaper been delivered, which had been held for 75 weeks, which has slowed down the free work of the media. The news generated positive reactions in organizations defending press freedom and human rights, as well as in media workers, who after experiencing the reduction of advertising and the shortage of supplies, faced the loss of their jobs.
According to Fides sources, the apostolic nuncio also intervened for the delivery of these supplies, necessary to be able to print one of the main newspapers in the country. In addition to the case of La Prensa, according to data from the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, between April and December 2018, at least 712 cases of violation of press freedom were recorded, including attacks, censorship, threats and even murders.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - Syriac Orthodox monk Sefer Bileçen indicted as "terrorist supporter"

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 13:12
Mardin - The Turkish authorities have formally charged Syriac Orthodox monk Sefer Bileçen for complicity with terrorist organizations and activities. The monk was arrested last January 9 by Turkish security forces on charges of offering help and coverage to PKK militants, the Kurdish worker party, which is banned and labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and army .
The indictment of the monk, made known by the Turkish authorities only on Saturday 8 February, had in fact already been formalized on 16 January last, when the religious had been allowed to leave prison with the obligation not to leave his residence.
Jon Koriel, president of the Assyrian Policy Institute , said: "We are deeply concerned by the unjustified accusations made against Father Sefer, and the damaging message his indictment sends to the rest of the Syriac community in Turkey. We call on Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him without precondition".
The groups that monitor the condition of the Christian communities in Turkey in recent years have seen an increasing number of arrests suffered by members of those communities on charges of connivance with the PKK.
Father Sefer Bileçen, priest of the Mor Yakup Monastery in Nusaybin , after his arrest had been brought before a judge of the local court on charges of flanking against "a terrorist organization". For him, the prison doors were immediately opened.
In the days following the arrest, Turkish media reported that investigations regarding the monk had started in September 2018, when cameras mounted on two drones of the Turkish security services had filmed two PKK militants entering the monastery of Mor Yakup. Since then, the monastery and in particular Sefer had been placed under surveillance by intelligence services. In September 2019, a PKK militant arrested by Turkish security forces had confessed to having visited Mor Yakup monastery several times to eat and drink. Other testimonies reported in the Turkish media also confirm that the alleged "complicity" contested by the Turkish authorities to the Syriac Orthodox monk was limited to the simple offering of food and drinks to people who said they were hungry and thirsty.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Opus Dei in the Ivory Coast are to begin

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 13:00
Abidjan - "Celebrating these 40 years means realizing the miracles that God can do. From the five lay people at the beginning of 1980, today there are about 500 faithful of Opus Dei in the Ivory Coast, including 13 priests and almost 900 among collaborators, cooperators and friends of Opus Dei", said the regional vicar of the prelature of Opus Dei in Ivory Coast, Fr. Abdoulaye Sissoko, at the press conference to present the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the presence of Opus Dei in the Country.
The celebrations begin on Sunday 16 February in the parish of Saint Jacques de Cocody les Plateaux, in the archdiocese of Abidjan. The solemn thanksgiving mass will take place on September 26, 2020 in the Cathedral of Saint Paul on the Abidjan Plateau.
Opus Dei is an institution of the Catholic Church, founded by Saint Josemaría Escrivá on October 2, 1928. Its full name is the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. The purpose of Opus Dei is to contribute to the evangelizing mission of the Church, helping people of all conditions to lead a coherent life with their faith in the ordinary circumstances of human existence, in particular through the sanctification of work.
In the Ivory Coast, the prelature of Opus Dei offers training activities in the cities of Abidjan, Bouaké and Yamoussoukro.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - A kidnapped Christian girl reunites with her family

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 12:49
Lahore – At present we can consider it a story with a happy ending, but it remains a rare case. Sneha, 14, a Christian girl from a family who lives in the "colony" of Bahar, Lahore, who had been kidnapped by a Muslim man, was rescued and is now with her family. As Fides learns, Sneha is Sabir Masih's youngest daughter and has two sisters and an older brother. She was a student at the "Franciscan Girls High School" and in the evening she also attended special courses to prepare for her final exams.
Sneha claimed that Zeeshan, a Muslim man, had insistently asked her to make friends with him on her way home, and she continuously rejected his invitation. On the evening of January 14, 2020, while Sneha was returning home, Zeeshan forced her to follow him with violence and pushed her into a vehicle where six men started hitting her. She was seized and led to an unknown place, where she was beaten and repeatedly raped. They then asked her to sign some blank sheets and, when the girl refused, they began to torture her. Those documents included a marriage certificate and a certificate of conversion to Islam. The kidnappers also threatened her: if she told her family what had happened, she would have had to face serious consequences and her sisters would have suffered the same violence.
Sneha's father, Sabir Masih, reported her disappearance to the police. After the complaint, a court of first instance gave the police the order to start investigations. After a few days of investigation, the police rescued Sneha on January 19, 2020 and returned her to her parents. But the kidnappers, who kept her segregated for five days, are on the loose and unpunished.
Some organizations that defend Christian rights in Pakistan, such as the "Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement" and other NGOs, are supporting Sneha's family by providing free legal assistance. Sabir Masih and his family, meanwhile, have received threats from the kidnappers who are pressuring the family to withdraw the complaint against them. Sabir Masih's family has been transferred to an unknown place.
As Nasir Saeed, director of the NGO "CLAAS" tells Fides, "cases of kidnapping of Christian and Hindu girls, forced conversion and forced marriage continue to occur with impunity. It is a social alarm. These are widespread episodes in Pakistan and have also been reported in national and international media, but the Pakistani government has failed to act to stop the kidnapping of Christian and Hindu minors".
Recently the Council of Islamic ideology has stigmatized and defined forced conversion as "non-Islamic". Last July, Prime Minister Imran Khan, condemning that practice, said that "there is no precedent in Islamic history to justify the forced conversion of other people". Christian and Hindu parliamentarians, such as Ramesh Kumar Vankwani and Naveed Amir Jeeva, have raised the issue several times in Parliament, calling for greater commitment from the police force and firm political action.
The Child Marriage Restraint Act, the law that prohibits marriages with minors, was passed only in Sindh province in 2014. In 2019, Senator Sherry Rehman presented a bill to the Senate to raise the minimum age for girls to marry to 18. Despite opposition from some Islamic parties , the measure was approved by a large majority. It was sent to the Lower House where it is still to be discussed.
In British India, before the "partition" between India and Pakistan, a law was passed in 1929 to ban marriages with girls: according to some lawyers, that "Child Marriage Restraint Act" is still apparently valid and applicable even in today's Pakistan.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/GUATEMALA - Bishops: "our permanent mission is to announce Jesus Christ"

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 12:00
Guatemala City - "Our main task as Bishops is to promote, guide and animate evangelization in our country, with the help of priests, consecrated persons and the many lay people to whom we express our thanks. This is our permanent mission: to announce Jesus Christ". This is what the Bishops of Guatemala reiterated in their message at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference, during which they were able to reflect on the activities of the past year and on future pastoral priorities.
In the document, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops express their joy at the announcement of the beatification of the martyrs of Quiché: 3 priests and 7 lay people, including a 12-year-old boy, killed in hatred of the faith between 1980 and 1991. "They were driven only by love for God and the poorest brothers, in a period of persecution of the Church and violence against the whole population", they underline.
The social and political life of Guatemala since the beginning of the year has been marked by the beginning of the work of the new authorities in various areas. "Despite the disappointments of the past and the skepticism aroused in the population, the hope of change always rises again", underline the Bishops, hoping that the priority of the new elected rulers "is the common good and an end to the harmful political practices related to corruption and to the absence of the state in the spaces that are its main responsibility". Their first commitment is therefore to "promote an inclusive society, with opportunities for all, that will give impetus to the integral human development of the population and avoid the waves of migrants who are forced to flee poverty".
Citing the suffering of migrants, the Bishops thank those who work to alleviate their suffering, hoping for the commitment of all Guatemalans to combat the causes of emigration, and underline the unwavering ability to create "job and development opportunities for the large number of young people who are an unquestionable wealth of our country". They therefore call on everyone to work for dialogue between the various sectors of society and to reach consensual agreements, leaving rigid positions and prejudices of the past aside.
Finally, the message of the Episcopal Conference hopes that the election of the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice and of the Courts of Appeal, as well as of the Supreme Electoral Court, will take place in compliance with the law, invoking the intercession of the martyrs and the maternal gaze of Mary, "Mother of the Prince of Peace and Mother of all peoples of the earth".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "The President has brought Nigeria to the brink" accuses the Bishop of Sokoto

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 11:48
Abuja - "No one could have imagined that in winning the Presidency, General Buhari would bring nepotism and clannishness into the military and the ancillary Security Agencies, that his government would be marked by supremacist and divisive policies that would push our country to the brink. This President displayed the greatest degree of insensitivity in managing our Country’s rich diversity", His Exc. Mgr. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah decried in his homily on February 11 during Michael Nnadi’s burial, the youngest, 18 years of age of the four seminarians kidnapped at Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna State, Northwest Nigeria, by armed men on the night of January 8 . The seminarian's body was found on February 1 along with that of another person who had been kidnapped by the bandits .
Mgr. Kukah recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on the basis of the promise to restore security in the Country but this did not happen and indeed even the citizens of northern Nigeria, where Buhari comes from, contest his policy. "Despite running the most nepotistic and narcissistic government in known history, the north still has the worst indices of poverty, insecurity, stunting, squalor and destitution", said the Bishop. "His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Kano are the two most powerful traditional and moral leaders in Islam today. None of them is happy and they have said so loud and clear. Traditional leaders from the north, who in 2015 believed that General Buhari had come to redeem the north, have now turned against the President", said Mgr. Kukah.
The Bishop also denounced the persecution of Christians in Nigeria by armed groups, primarily Boko Haram. "Are we to believe that simply because Boko Haram kills Muslims too, they wear no religious garb? Are we to deny the evidence before us, of kidnappers separating Muslims from infidels or compelling Christians to convert or die?".
Meanwhile, a few hours after President Buhari's visit to Maiduguri, the capital of the State of Borno, Boko Haram attacked the suburb of Jiddari Polo near the city. Buhari, who was disputed by the residents, had traveled to the capital of the State of Borno to offer condolences for the victims of the attack on Sunday 9 February against motorists stopped for a curfew along a road leading to Maiduguri near the village by Auno. About thirty people lost their lives, most of them burned in their vehicles set on fire by the jihadists.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/HONG KONG - Coronavirus: public Masses and Ash Wednesday liturgy suspended

Fides EN - - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 11:26
Hong Kong - In the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the diocese in Hong Kong has decided to suspend all public Masses for two weeks. "The next two weeks will be a crucial time to suppress the epidemic. The dioccese has decided to suspend all public Masses, on Sundays and weekdays for two weeks, including the liturgy of Ash Wednesday, from February 15 to 28. Some Church members may be disappointed. However, I hope that everyone can understand this is not an easy decision", wrote Cardinal John Tong, Apostolic Administrator of Hong Kong, in a message released on February 13, sent to Agenzia Fides.
The Cardinal invites everyone "not to panic", and to "deepen our trust in God and implement our Christian love for our neighbors and all people". "In addition to fulfilling our Mass obligation by participating in the Mass online, receiving Holy Communion spiritually, meditating on the Scriptures, or saying the Rosary, at home we can care more for the health of our family, especially the elderly and the children", explained Cardinal Tong.
The Church asks the faithful to "help one another, share anti-epidemic materials, live the Gospel virtues of faith, hope and love, and pray for each other". "Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother Mary, may the Lord listen to our prayers that the epidemic will soon disappear, and grant us good health and well-being", concludes the Cardinal in the letter.
Meanwhile, the government of Hong Kong has extended the suspension of schools until at least March 16. Schools have been closed since the Chinese New Year break began in late January. "We are listening to doctors. We will announce the date of the resumption of schools", said Minister of Education Kevin Yeung, reiterating strategies to prevent and control the epidemic.
Hong Kong currently has 50 confirmed coronavirus cases and is at the forefront of the global battle to contain the disease.
Catégories: From the church