AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Bishops are "Pastors and administrators of God's delicate vineyard"

Fides EN - - jeu, 07/11/2019 - 12:15
Juba - "As Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan we consider the protection of minors a priority and we are committed to working for the prevention of all forms of abuse, atrocities and violence against children. I am glad that, among the many topics, the protection of minors was chosen during this plenary session": said Mgr. Edward Hiiboro, Bishop of Tombura-Yambo and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan, at the conclusion of a recent seminar organized in Juba by the Association of Bishops of the Episcopal Conferences of East Africa , which involved the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan on the establishment of a special Department for the protection of minors.
In addition to the issue of child protection, Bishop Hiiboro indicated that the Plenary Assembly was "for the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan an opportunity to connect primarily with God, the source of their lives; secondly, to reinforce each other as Pastors and administrators of God's delicate vineyard; and to meditate on their mission towards the people of God in the two countries.
The Bishops of both countries, despite the difficulties they are facing, have taken a stand and wanted to act to protect, identify and stop any abuse against children and against the most vulnerable people. "The meeting started with the recommendations of Pope Francis", said the AMECEA child protection official George Thuku, who shared with the bishops the policies and guidelines and priorities set by some of the Bishops' Conferences in the region.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Bishops: "Need to overcome the various forms of violence and build social friendship"

Fides EN - - jeu, 07/11/2019 - 12:05
Pilar - "We ask God to help us so that the democratic path is translated into a dignified life, integral development, work for all, access to health and quality education": this is what the Bishops of Argentina say in a message entitled "The strengthening of our nation", which they published while their Plenary Assembly is taking place in the city of Pilar. From November 4 to 9, in fact, the Argentine Episcopate is gathered to address various issues related to the social and pastoral reality, including the prevention of sexual abuse in the Church, the Marian Congress next year, the elaboration of the Argentine catechism, the Synod for the Amazon, economic reform.
After the elections on October 27th, which declared the victory of the Peronist candidate, Alberto Fernandez, who obtained 48.10%, while outgoing Liberal President Mauricio Macri did not go beyond 40.37%, the Bishops in their message sent to Fides, reiterate that "at the beginning of a new period of our democracy, for which we have irreversibly opted, we want to walk with the Argentines to consolidate it more every day".
"The Homeland asks everyone - they continue - renewed effort to sincere dialogue and to seek consensus in order to generate a higher synthesis. The greatness of our leadership will manifest itself in this attempt if it is also able to incorporate the efforts and research of the poorest".
The Bishops then emphasize the crime of corruption and reiterate that the real strengthening of democracy will not be possible "without a firm ethical option at the different levels of social life, without a true division of the powers of the State and a daily and generous participation of every Argentine". Finally, they urge, as responsible citizens, "to form a people that, beyond the discrepancies, maintain stable references consistent with a common project", this presupposes "a renewed commitment to overcome the various forms of violence and to build social friendship".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/GABON - Appointment of the Rector of the Saint Augustin Major Seminary in Libreville

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 13:45
Vatican City - On July 30, 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev . Yves-Edgard Pambou, of the diocesan clergy of Mouila as Rector of the "Saint Augustin" interdiocesan Major Seminary in the Archdiocese of Libreville, Gabon.
The new Rector was born on September 18, 1971 in Tchibanga and was ordained a priest on June 8, 2008. In 1994 he entered the Saint Augustin Major Seminary in Libreville, he studied philosophy at the Spiritan Daniel Brottier international Major Seminary. After a year of pastoral work, from 1998 to 2001 he studied theology at the UCAC in Yaoundé, Cameroon. From 2004 to 2009 he studied in Rome, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he obtained his doctorate in Church History. He was assistant parish priest and parish priest, vicar general of the diocese of Mouila, professor at the Faculty of Theology of the UCAC, as well as private secretary and delegate of the rector, member of GRFCAC .
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Theatrical work and music to announce the Christian message

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 13:38
Barisal - "In the district of Barisal, in central-southern Bangladesh, people traditionally love singing and music. In this area there are various theatrical works of religious nature and theme. The theatrical work of biblical content today is an important tool for us to announce the Christian message and is a valid aid for the work of evangelization". This was stated to Agenzia Fides by Father Anol Terence D'Costa, Secretary of the Commission for Social Communications in the diocese of Barishal, talking about a recent seminar organized on the spot for priests, religious and above all lay people, in which the point was made on the activities of evangelization through theatrical performances and music.
"We have noticed that people go to the theater more than Mass. Therefore, we have taken the initiative to better organize this service as a form of missionary work", explained Father Anol. Today in the diocese, theatrical and musical works on the life of Jesus, Mary and the lives of saints are very popular and attract many young people. Actors and musicians are mostly lay volunteers and this commitment was also highly appreciated by the Bengali Bishops.
Father Anol says: "We have launched an appeal to recruit directors, singers and actors and now there is a committee that deals with creating new scripts and plays".
Ruben Dewri, a 32-year-old Catholic and young singer, tells Fides: "Singing is in our blood. We love to sing and so we preach the Word of God with songs. Faithful Christians and non-Christians come to enjoy our show".
As Father Anol explains, the Commission for social communications, in this way, "seeks to respond to the mission of promoting the Good News of Christ through the means of social communication; to stimulate, develop and reawaken consciences; to inspire and form the Church staff to use the media".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - The nun who walks death row inmates to the gallow

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 13:24
Singapore - Bringing mercy and compassion and the love of Christ among the prisoners on death row: this is the mission of Sister Gerarda Fernandez, 81, who worked with the prisons in Singapore as a death-row counsellor for more than 40 years until 2017. In that time, she "walked with" 18 inmates on death row, up until their executions. To the utmost surprise of the local Church, the Catholic nun, a native of Singapore, was included on the annual list drawn up by the BBC among the 100 most influential women in the world.
Sister Gerarda, born in 1938, tells Fides: "I come from a family where faith and music were important. We sang and played various musical instruments; Our meetings and Sunday liturgies were dedicated to prayer in music. Three of my siblings today are consecrated".
In 40 years spent visiting prisoners in prison, the moment she calls "special" was that of being close to prisoners on death row in Changi prison in Singapore. "God's love for us goes beyond all understanding: this is the message we leave them", she says.
Speaking of her work, she notes: "All the people on death row have opposed God's plans and destroyed their young lives. But, thanks to the mercy of Jesus, God makes himself present and changes this last phase of their life. Many of them lived the miracle of conversion and transformation of their heart. The Good Shepherd found his sheep. I had the privilege of being with them in the last moments of their earthly life".
"The call of God to walk alongside vulnerable people reminds me every day that God loved us first", and gives them "healing and forgiveness through his love". A murderer, before the execution, told her: "Do not worry sister. I know that God loves me. Tomorrow morning I will see him face to face".
The nun says she "detests the death penalty which is cruel, inhuman and violates the right to life". "Every life is always precious, even when punishment is required. Punishment and justice must always include re-education and mercy. We join many voices all over the world by appealing to our leaders to look for alternatives to the death penalty", she says. Today, she says with satisfaction, "our prayer was heard: there is a review of the death penalty in Singapore and several prisoners on death row received a suspension from their death sentence".
And she concludes with a sentence from the foundress of her religious institute, the Sisters of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Sister Maria Eufrasia: "A person is more precious than the whole world".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/PANAMA - Bishops: "listening, respect and dialogue are needed to build the homeland"

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 12:30
Panama City - An appeal to citizens and authorities so that "mutual respect, attentive listening, dialogue, wisdom and tolerance prevail as ways to find national consensus on such a delicate and important issue as constitutional reforms" was launched by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Panama at the beginning of the month of the homeland.
In the statement, sent to Fides, the Bishops note that the climate of tension and violence in recent days, which caused injuries and damage, arouses "great concern for the inhabitants of this country", and although "the fundamental right to protest on national and vital issues for the country is not negotiable", no less important is that everything happens without violence and respect", so that the voice of the people is not distorted".
"The constitutional reforms require the full participation of all sectors of the country, without the exclusion of anyone - reiterate the Bishops -, so we must ensure that this is possible through a serious, agile and transparent mechanism, in which all contributions can be registered, to reach a national consensus. Panama deserves a constitution that responds to the challenges of today's world, without prejudice to the values and ethical and moral principles that have sustained it throughout its history".
The reforms that the government of Panama wants to implement, modify 40 articles of the Constitution, and touch on fundamental issues such as health, education and the environment. According to the population, the changes could cause an increase in discrimination, as well as favoring impunity and corruption. This gave rise to popular protests and clashes, which had begun several weeks ago. In Panama, in fact, there is great discontent with a distribution of wealth that privileges only a restricted class of people who are opposed by crowds of poor and marginalized.
The Bishops' statement concludes by underlining the urgent need to "restore the hope lost due to injustice, corruption and exclusion" and in order to achieve this goal everyone must "sow visible and tangible signs that give rise to credibility and trust in Panama".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - CIMI: the natives can no longer move safely in their territories

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 12:12
Brasilia - "The Indigenous Missionary Council , with indignation and sadness, accuses and blames the State and the Brazilian government for the cowardly assassination of Paulo Paulino Guajajara, which occurred on the evening of Friday November 1st within the indigenous territory Arariboia in Maranhão. The native was 26 years old and leaves his wife and child": this is the communiqué sent to Fides by CIMI. Paulino Guajajara and Laércio Souza Silva had left the village of Lagoa Comprida, north of the indigenous land, 100 km from the municipality of Amarante, to go hunting. In the woods they were surprised by five armed woodcutters, the report said.
The men, with weapons in their hands, asked Paulino and Laercio to deliver bows and arrows, traditional instruments used for hunting. Guajajara had little chance of defense.
Members of the civil police of Amarante went by helicopter to pick Paulino's body and take him to his community for the funeral. A first police report speaks of an ambush.
The region of the village of Lagoa Comprida has been regularly invaded by loggers for many years. In 2007 the native Tomé Guajajara was assassinated in that very area. The following year, in 2008, the loggers invaded the village of Cabeceira, shooting the natives.
The Arariboia indigenous territory has officially been recognized and registered since 1990 with 413 thousand hectares. Here about 6 thousand indigenous Guajajara, or Tenetehar, and Awá-Guajá live.
CIMI has denounced the increase of the invasions of the indigenous territories, following the encouragement of those who oppose the regularization of the territories registered by the Federal Constitution. Today it is not an exaggeration to say that the natives can no longer move safely in their territories.
CIMI in addition to requesting an investigation into the tragic fact, denounces those who have encouraged and allowed the invasions of indigenous lands, associated with attacks, murders, threats, revolts, arson.
CIMI considers the current government guilty of not having respected the Federal Constitution in defense of the indigenous territories.
The document is signed by the General Secretariat of CIMI, with the date November 2, 2019. From January to September 2019, the Commission against Violence against Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, counted 160 cases of invasions in 153 indigenous territories in 19 Brazilian states.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - "No to corruption": Bishops launch six-month anti-corruption campaign

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 11:32
Nairobi - "Corruption is a rot of the heart". The Bishops of Kenya launch their six-month anti-corruption companion.
As part of the fight against corruption, among other things, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided to prohibit donations in cash and to accept only those made electronically in order to track donors and avoid compromises with money of dubious origin.
Presented at the beginning of October at the National Shrine of Subukia, the campaign entitled "Let us break the chain of corruption" focuses on an educational and prayer activity. For the occasion, a prayer was written that reads: "Father in heaven, You always provide for all your creatures, so that they may live as you have always willed. You have blessed our country Kenya with rich human and natural resources to be used in honour and glory and for the well being of every Kenyan.
We are deeply sorrowful for the wrong use of these your gifts and blessings through the act of corruption, as a result of which many of our people are hungry, sick, homeless and displaced, ignorant and defenceless. Father, You alone can heal us of this sickness which leads to death.
We humbly beg you, touch our lives and those of our leaders so that we may realise the evil of corruption and work hard to eliminate it. For any citizen who has acquired anything through corrupt means, Lord, give him or her, the spirit of courage to make a restitution and come back to you.
Raise up for us God-fearing citizens and leaders who care for us and who will lead us in the path of peace, justice, prosperity, progress and above all, Love".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Faith and prayer at the conclusion of the Month of the Rosary and Missionary Month in the small community of Kolowaré

Fides EN - - mer, 06/11/2019 - 09:41
Kolowaré - "One had to be present to be immersed in the prayerful atmosphere, imbued with faith, of that moment. The Missionary Month and Rosary Month of October 2019 represented a time of intense prayer, a time of grace", said Father Silvano Galli, a priest of the Society for African Missions in Togo, to Agenzia Fides.
"On October 1st, in our mission of Kolowarè, we began the Missionary Month and Month of the Rosary in front of Mary cave. For the first day, the five base communities all met in front of the cave and in the following days each community prayed in their respective neighborhood", says the missionary".
"The conclusion of the celebrations was even more solemn and impressive than the opening. There was a vast assembly of faithful in front of the cave. Each believer carried two candles. The prayer was animated by the Blue Army, a prayer group linked to Fatima. At the end, everyone lit a candle and started a series of songs for Mary.
Every year we celebrate a ceremony to remember the dead. After the communion, a basin full of sand is placed in front of the altar. The catechist proclaims the name of the deceased who died since the beginning of the year. At the end of the prayer, the faithful then went to the two cemeteries of the village to bless the graves and pray for all those who rest there".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Bishops to politicians: "Remember Pope Francis’ appeal for peace"

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 13:48
Juba - "It is our hope that our political leaders, in South Sudan, both in government and opposition, most of whom are Christians, will keep in mind the appeal and the ‘extraordinary gesture’ of the Holy Father begging them to bring peace to their brethren in South Sudan", say the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan, in their message read at the end of the Mass on 1 November in all the churches of South Sudan.
On April 11, at the conclusion of the spiritual retreat, at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican, of the political leaders of South Sudan , Pope Francis knelt before them launching an appeal for the future of the new State that was to be born on May 12, kissing the feet of the President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the designated Vice-Presidents, including Riek Machar and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior .
However, the formation of the new government of national unity has been postponed several times: now the deadline is 12 November, but President Salva Kiir has hinted at the formation of an executive without the presence of Riek Machar. If this were the case, we strongly fear the resumption of a civil war, in a Country that is at a standstill due to the dramatic consequences of the conflict that broke out in December 2013, to which are added the damage caused by the floods that affected vast areas of South Sudan .
In their message, the Bishops state: "We have seen the wounds and misery of our people in the IPD camps inside our countries and refugee camps in the neighboring countries. We feel and share the unbearable economic conditions of our people in Sudan and South Sudan".
In the document, sent to Agenzia Fides, it is emphasized that the roots of the conflict are to be found in the lust for power and wealth, which in turn uses ethnic and tribal divisions to push people to fight against each other. The Bishops conclude with an appeal to unity to cope together with adversity and share meagre resources in favor of all.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Assembly of Bishops: Youth Triennium and Year of the Word of God, for a Church in missionary outreach

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 13:41
Luque - The conclusion of the Youth Triennium, the commitment to be "a Church that goes forth" according to the desire of Pope Francis, the Year of the Word of God: these are the main themes touched by the Bishop of Villarrica, Mgr. Adalberto Martínez Flores, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Paraguay, in his opening address for the Plenary Assembly of the Episcopate.
The ordinary Plenary Assembly n.223 is being held in Luque, a city in the metropolitan area of the capital Asunción, from 4 to 8 November, according to information sent to Agenzia Fides, and will consider various issues related to the social and ecclesial reality of the country. The agenda also includes the report of the Archbishop of Asunción, Mgr. Edmundo Valenzuela, on the Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, in which he participated, and that of Mgr. Pierre Jubinville, Bishop of San Pedro, for the three years dedicated to young people.
Saturday, November 30th, with the pilgrimage of young people to Caacupé, the youth triennium will close . "It was a moment of grace - said the President of the Bishops’ Conference in his opening address to the Assembly - which has already begun to bear fruit in terms of raising awareness of the challenges that young people pose to the Church's pastoral action, opening new paths for closer accompaniment, facing their needs and their dreams and their hopes of being good citizens and true missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, to promote a Church that goes forth, at the service of a new society, shaped by the values of Gospel".
In this regard, Mgr. Martínez Flores urged the Bishops and ordained ministers to be attentive "to the contribution of the lay faithful, in general, and of young people in particular", inviting "to walk towards a Synodal Church". "As Pastors of this particular Church in Paraguay - he said -, we accompany the Holy Father's dream of being a missionary Church, capable of listening to and accompanying the cry of the poor, who raise their cry for a dignified and full life, with our pastoral structures and priorities, with all the means at our disposal".
Mgr. Adalberto Martínez Flores then highlighted the commitment of the Church of Paraguay for next year: "The Word of God is the source, the means and the privileged instrument for the pastoral service for our people. Therefore, all the actions of the Church in 2020 will be oriented and guided by the Word of God".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Desecrated tombs of killed protesters; the Church calls for peace, justice and respect for all

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 13:03
Managua - "We must respect tombs, because a saint rests there. For us here they are saints, here we have buried them and here we come to pray for them": said the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, on Sunday, November 3, inviting us not to continue to profane the tombs of protesters opposed to the government of President Daniel Ortega.
The tomb of one of the young people killed in one of the many protests against Ortega was profaned on the day of the commemoration of all the dead, Saturday 2 November. The family of Josué Mojica, killed on 8 July 2018 in Carazo , at the age of 18, published photographs and videos of the damage caused to the tomb. The boy's relatives, expressed their impotence and indignation to journalists. "What do they gain from damaging a tomb? They have already killed him, leave him alone", said one of his aunts.
The "Madres de Abril" Association, which brings together the relatives of the victims, such as the National Blue and White Opposition Unit, strongly condemned the continuing profanation of tombs of other young people. They also asked the authorities to investigate what happened on the day of the celebration of the dead.
Yesterday, November 4, the Archdiocese of Managua sent Fides a message of the Justice and Peace Commission for the closure of the Extraordinary Missionary Month, in which it invites the ecclesial community to be a messenger and promoter of peace and justice. "The objective of mission is to prepare people to receive Christ, his values and his way of living the building of the Kingdom, that is to say, living justice, forgiveness, love, service, but is this the society we are building?", reads the document.
"The current social, political and economic crisis exacerbates society on the verge of poverty, where the other has no value, has lost the right to live with dignity. There is no work, no education, no health service ... the economic and tax policy imposed, is not a response to the economic recession that the country is experiencing", reports the document. "Thus a nation cannot be built, with fear and pressure. An environment of trust, justice, freedom of expression must be created", concludes the text.
Since April 2018 Nicaragua has been experiencing a socio-political crisis that has caused more than 300 deaths , according to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights , the number of political prisoners exceeds 700, to which is added a high number of young people and families who had to flee the country due to harsh repression .
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA - Pastoral care based on the legacy of African Saints

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 12:48
Kara - In Africa today "it is necessary that African Saints occupy a fundamental place in programs of evangelization in general, and in particular of catechesis, so that they are better known by the Africans themselves, in order to continuously inspire their actions". This is what Ivorian theologian Fr. Donald Zagore, priest of the Society for African Missions wrote to Agenzia Fides, recalling the experience of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, Saint Josephine Bakhita of Sudan, Blessed Marie Clementine Anuarite of former Zaire, Blessed Ghebre-Micheal of Ethiopia. "Africa is really present in Paradise. These African Saints are the tangible expression of the spiritual vitality of the African continent, but they are very often unknown and therefore cut off from the concrete life of the population", he notes. "Our Saints - he says - must have a concrete impact on the life of our people. Saints can and must play an important role in the renewal of the African continent. Their model of virtue, exemplarity, integrity and faith - the theologian concludes - remains a fundamental legacy to shape the conscience and action of our African Christians in all areas of life, especially in those socio-political contexts strongly marked by violence, hatred, division and corruption".
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni: "The Pope thanks everyone for the "great work" carried out in the Extraordinary Missionary Month"

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 12:45
Rome - "At the end of the liturgical celebration presided over by Pope Francis, on the occasion of World Mission Sunday, October 20, the Holy Father, referring to the Extraordinary Missionary Month that was in progress, told me: 'Thank you for all the work you have done'. And it was a thank you obviously addressed to all, which embraces all the national directions of the Pontifical Mission Societies". This is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said in his opening address to the restricted Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies, currently underway at the International Center for Missionary Animation .
The Extraordinary Missionary Month, announced by Pope Francis for October 2019, was celebrated worldwide in Catholic communities, dioceses, parishes, associations, ecclesial groups. The central theme was "Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on mission in the world". The objective of the Extraordinary Missionary Month was to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter "Maximum Illud", but also - remarked Cardinal Filoni - "to rekindle the ardor for mission".
The celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month was deliberately entrusted to the local Churches, in the five continents, that promoted prayers, liturgies, testimonies, in a widespread manner. To give an account of the missionary ferment throughout the world, Fides published a Dossier which contains the most significant news on the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Peace, dignity and justice for victims of extrajudicial killings: appeal by three priests

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 12:35
Manila - Restoring peace, human dignity and justice for the victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines: is the appeal launched by three Catholic priests who recently led a demonstration and celebrated a mass in Manila. As Agenzia Fides learns, the three: Jesuit Fr. Albert Alejo, Fr. Flavie Villanueva and Fr. Robert Reyes organized a prayer vigil in memory of the innocent people killed during the "war against drugs" launched by the government of Rodrigo Duterte, which claimed about 30,000 victims in two years.
In the homily, Fr. Alejo urged the Filipinos to "talk about the injustices that occur in the country": "If the living are silent, how can the dead speak? Not only do we feel empathy for them, but we promise to fight and continue the lives of those who were killed. We will return honor to truth", he said. The victims of the executions, he said, "are not just numbers or statistics, because injustice is also killing the truth, faith and hope of the Filipinos, "invoking" respect for the "rule of law in the country, ignored today by the state institutions themselves".
The three priests were subjected to threats of violence in the past due to criticism of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, along with many other Church leaders in the Philippines and other human rights activists.
Thousands of poor drug addicts in the urban suburbs were killed in the Philippines in the "anti-drug campaign". Human rights organizations accuse the police of systematic cover-ups and summary executions which are estimated to have reached 30 thousand.
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - The Church in prayer for the gift of rain

Fides EN - - mar, 05/11/2019 - 12:25
Sydney - The Catholic Church in Australia is dedicating the month of November as a time to pray for those affected by crippling drought conditions that is affecting certain areas of the country. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the current drought is the worst in 100 years or more, with most parts of Australia’s eastern states declared to be in drought. At the invitation of the Australian Bishops' Conference, parishes, schools, families and other Catholic communities across the country are being encouraged to participate in the National Prayer Campaign for Drought.
In this regard, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Columba Macbeth-Green, of the Paolini Fathers, Bishop of Wilcannia-Forbes explains: "Those people living where there is plentiful, or at least enough, water do not seem aware of how much suffering the drought is causing only adds to the hardship of those in drought-affected communities: The Church across Australia—lay people, religious, priests and bishops alike—needs to stand in solidarity with those suffering most acutely, offering prayers and practical support to those in most need".
The Bishop, at the head of a diocese that covers almost half of New South Wales, including some of the areas most affected by drought in the country, notes: "The month of prayer is an additional response to the local work being done in affected communities. Some of our Catholic ministries, along with other faith-based, charitable and government organisations, are doing remarkable work, supporting people with material needs, offering financial support and responding to people’s psychological and spiritual needs. But in a Catholic context, prayer must be a part of our response".
Even the Bible, explains the Bishop, presents stories in which rain represents God’s gift to the people who are suffering: "In times of drought like we are experiencing now, we should pray for God’s gift of rain, which will have the power to quench our arid lands and also lift many people’s fallen spirits", he concluded.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - The Church reaffirms commitment to justice, truth and the common good

Fides EN - - lun, 04/11/2019 - 13:03
La Paz - With the declaration "Understanding and peace, with truth and justice", the Bolivian Bishops' Conference expresses its deep concern about the current situation in the country, calls for an end to the violence among Bolivians and encourages dialogue between the parties to resolve the conflict.
"We ask to listen to the people to maintain democracy, the only system that can guarantee freedom, the common good and development", the Bishops write in the document, sent to Fides, which is dated October 31st. "We consider that a complete, agreed and binding official revision could be the basis for definitive dialogue" the text continues, which explains: "Complete because it considers all the stages of the electoral process and not just the final vote; agreed because it welcomes the opinion of all those involved, and binding because everyone is committed to accepting the results".
The Bishops condemn violence and invitations to confrontations of any kind, between authorities and citizens, and conclude by inviting them to pray for peace in a moment when the country has a particular need for peace and justice.
In a subsequent statement, dated November 2, the General Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference categorically denies the accusations of the Minister of the Presidency, Juan Ramón Quintana, that the Church is responsible for promoting accusations of fraud during the last elections, defining them as "totally false and lacking any foundation", reiterating that the Bolivian Church" is at the service of justice, truth and the common good".
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the mission of the Organization of American States , Arturo Espinosa, has announced his resignation from the office, and immediately the OAS has informed that the work of verification of the electoral process and the calculation of the votes will go ahead with the thirty OSA technicians who will have a new coordinator as soon as possible. Last week Espinosa published a very critical article on the Bolivian elections and on Morales, above all on the extension of his presidential mandate.
The diplomat arrived in La Paz on Thursday 31 October, together with the team of technicians sent by the OAS, to investigate the alleged electoral fraud, denounced by the opposition, on the 20 October elections. Following the election of the electoral result by the Supreme Electoral Court , with the victory of outgoing president Morales, days of strong protests followed and violent clashes between the supporters of Morales and those of Mesa, which caused 2 deaths.

Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - The Pope and mission: “Without Jesus we can do nothing”

Fides EN - - lun, 04/11/2019 - 12:29
At the end of the Extraordinary Missionary Month, we are providing a few extracts from the book-length interview of Gianni Valente from Fides News Agency with Pope Francis, in which the Pope emphasizes that “Either the Church evangelizes or she is not Church”. The book, published by Libreria Edictrice Vaticana and Edizioni San Paolo will be available in bookstores as of November 5th.

Rome - “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus”. Thus begins the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, published by Pope Francis in November 2013, eight months after the Conclave during which he was elected Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter. That programmatic text of his pontificate invited everyone to re-harmonize every action, reflection and ecclesial initiative with “the proclamation of the Gospel in today's world”. Six years later, the Holy Father called for an Extraordinary Missionary Month to be held in October 2019, and at the same time convened the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome dedicated to the Amazon Region, with the intention of suggesting new paths for the proclamation of the Gospel in the "green lung", martyred by predatory exploitation that violates and inflicts wounds “on our brothers sisters, and on sister earth” .
During this period, Pope Francis has included in his public discourses insistent references to the specific nature of the Church’s mission in the world. For example, the Holy Father has repeated numerous times that evangelization is not “proselytism”, and that the Church grows “by attraction” and by “witness” – a host of expressions all of which are oriented toward suggesting by association what is the dynamism of each apostolic work, and what its source can be.
Pope Francis speaks about all this, and much more, in the book-length interview entitled Without Him We Can Do Nothing”: a Conversation about Being Missionaries in Today’s World. Fides Agency provides a preview of some excerpts.

Holy Father, you said that as a young man you wanted to go to Japan as a missionary. Can we say then that the Pope never became missionary?
I don’t know. I joined the Jesuits because I was struck by their missionary vocation, of always going to the frontiers. At the time I could not go to Japan. But I have always felt that to proclaim Jesus and His Gospel always involves a certain outgoingness and being on the move.

You always repeat: "A Church that is on the move". Many have picked up this expression, and sometimes it seems to have become a hackneyed slogan, used by a growing number of people who spend their time lecturing the Church on what she should or should not be.
"A Church on the move" is not a fashionable expression that I invented. It is Jesus’ command, who in the Gospel of Mark asks His followers to go into the whole world and preach the Gospel “to every creature”. The Church is either on the move or she is not Church. Either she evangelizes or she is not Church. If the Church is not on the move, she decays, she becomes something else.

What does a Church that does not evangelize and is not in movement become?
It becomes a spiritual association, a multinational that launches ethical and religious initiatives and messages. There is nothing wrong with that, but that is not the Church. This is the risk of any static organization in the Church. We end up taming Christ. You no longer bear witness to what Christ does, but speak on behalf of a certain idea of Christ. An idea that you have appropriated and domesticated. You organize things, you become the little manager of ecclesial life, where everything happens according to an established plan, to be followed only according to instruction. But the encounter with Christ never happens. The encounter that touched your heart at the beginning doesn’t happen anymore.

Is mission itself an antidote to all this? Is the will and effort to “go out” on mission enough to avoid these distortions?
The mission, the "Church on the move", is not a program, an intention to be carried out by sheer force of will. It is Christ who makes the Church go out of herself. In the mission of evangelization, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and brings you. And when you get there, you realize that He is already there, and is waiting for you. The Spirit of the Lord arrived first. He has already prepared the path for you, and is already at work.

In a meeting with the Pontifical Missionary Societies, you suggested that they read the Acts of the Apostles, as a habitual text to pray over. Why is it a narrative of the beginnings, rather than a “modern” strategic missionary manual?
The protagonist of the Acts of the Apostles is not the apostles. The protagonist is the Holy Spirit. The apostles are the first to recognize Him and testify to Him. When they communicate the decisions established by the Council of Jerusalem to the community in Antioch, they write: “We have decided, the Holy Spirit and us”. They realistically acknowledge that it was the Lord who daily added to their number “those who were saved”, rather than the persuasive efforts of men.

And is it the same today as it was back then? Has nothing changed?
The experience of the apostles is like a paradigm that is always valid. Just think of how things happen spontaneously in the Acts of the Apostles, without coercion. It is a human story, in which the disciples always arrive afterwards, they always arrive after the Holy Spirit has already acted. He prepares and works on hearts. He upsets their plans. It is he who accompanies them, guides them and comforts them in all the circumstances they find themselves living. When problems and persecutions come, the Holy Spirit works there too in an even more surprising way with His comfort, His consolations, as happens after the first martyrdom, that of Saint Stephen.

What happens next?
A time of persecution begins, and many disciples flee Jerusalem, going to Judea and Samaria. And there, while they are dispersed and fugitive, they begin to evangelize, though they are alone and without the Apostles who remained in Jerusalem. They are baptized and the Holy Spirit gives them apostolic courage. There we see for the first time that baptism is enough to become evangelizers. That’s what mission is. Mission is His work. There’s no point in getting agitated. There’s no need for us to get organized, no need to scream, no need for gimmicks or stratagems. All we need to do is ask to be able to repeat the experience today that makes us say, “We have decided, the Holy Spirit and us”.

And without this experience, what do the calls for missionary mobilization mean?
Without the Spirit, wanting to do mission becomes something else. It becomes, I would say, a plan to conquer, the pretext that we are conquering something. A religious, or perhaps an ideological conquest, perhaps carried out even with good intentions. But it’s another thing.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, you often repeat that the Church grows by attraction. What do you mean? Who attracts? Who is attracted?
Jesus says it in the Gospel of John, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself”. And in the same Gospel, he also says: "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him”. The Church has always recognized that this is the proper form of every movement that brings us closer to Jesus and the Gospel. It is not a conviction, a rationalization, it’s not taking a position; not a pressure, or a constraint. It is always an attraction. The Prophet Jeremiah already said “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped”. And this applies to the apostles, to the missionaries, and to their work.

How does what you have just described take place?
The Lord's mandate to go out and evangelize comes from within, by falling in love, by loving attraction. One does not follow Christ, and even less become an evangelizer, because of a decision made sitting around a table, or by one’s own activism. Even missionary thrust can be fruitful only if it takes place within this attraction, and transmits it to others.

What is the meaning of these words with respect to the mission and the proclamation of the Gospel?
It means that if you have been attracted by Christ, if you move and do things because you are attracted by Christ, others will notice it without effort. There is no need to prove it, let alone flaunt it. Instead, anyone who thinks he or she is the protagonist or manager of the mission, with all the best intentions and declarations of purpose, often ends up attracting no one.

In the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii gaudium, you recognize that all this can give us a certain vertigo. It is like those who dive into the ocean not knowing what to except. What did you want to suggest with this image? Do these words also concern mission?
Mission is not a tried and tested company plan. Neither is it a public spectacle organized to flaunt how many people are associated with it thanks to our marketing. The Holy Spirit works as He wills, when He wills and where He wills. And this can cause a certain vertigo.
Yet the high point of freedom rests precisely in this letting oneself be carried by the Spirit, renouncing the need to calculate and control everything. This is precisely how we imitate Christ Himself, who in the mystery of His Resurrection learned to rest in the tenderness of the Father’s embrace.

Mission’s mysterious fruitfulness does not consist in our intentions, in our methods, in our impulses and in our initiatives, but rests precisely in this vertigo: the vertigo we perceive when we hear Jesus’ words: “without me you can do nothing”.
You also often repeat that the Church grows “by witnessing”. What are you trying to suggest by insisting on this?
The fact that attraction makes us witnesses. This witness testifies to what the work of Christ and His Spirit have really accomplished in our life. After His Resurrection, it is Christ himself who reveals Himself to the apostles. It is He who makes them witnesses. In addition, this witness is not self-serving. We are witnesses to the Lord’s works.

Something else you repeat often, in this case in a negative sense: the Church does not grow through proselytizing, and the mission of the Church is not proselytism. Why do you insist on this so much? Is it to maintain good relations with other Churches and dialogue with other religious traditions?
The problem with proselytism is not only the fact that it contradicts the ecumenical journey and interreligious dialogue. There is proselytism wherever there is the idea of making the Church grow by putting less emphasis on this attraction on the part of Christ and the work of the Spirit, focusing everything on any type of "wise discourse". Therefore, proselytism first of all cuts out Christ Himself and the Holy Spirit from the mission, even when we claim to speak and act nominally in Christ’s name. Proselytism is always violent by nature, even when it is hidden or exercised with white gloves. It does not tolerate the freedom and graciousness with which faith can be transmitted from person to person by grace. This is why proselytism is not only something of the past, of bygone colonialist times, or conversions forced or bought with the promise of material advantages. Proselytism can also exist today even in parishes, communities, movements, religious congregations.

So what does it mean to evangelize?
To evangelize means delivering Christ's own testimony in simple and precise words, like the apostles did. But there is no need to invent persuasive discourses. The proclamation of the Gospel can even be whispered, but it always passes through the overwhelming power of the scandal of the cross. And it has always followed the path indicated in the letter of the Apostle Peter, which consists in simply "providing reasons" of one’s hope to others, a hope that remains a scandal and foolishness in the eyes of the world.

How do we recognize a Christian "missionary"?
A distinctive feature is that of acting as facilitators, and not as controllers of the faith. Facilitating, making easy, without us placing obstacles to Jesus' desire to embrace everyone, to heal everyone, to save everyone, not being selective, not imposing "pastoral tariffs", not playing the part of the guard at the door controlling who has the right to enter. I remember parish priests and communities in Buenos Aires who set up many initiatives to facilitate access to baptism. In the last few years, they realized the number was growing of those not being baptized for various reasons, even sociological ones, and they wanted to remind everyone that being baptized is something simple, that everyone can request it, for themselves and for their own children. The path taken by those parish priests and those communities had one objective: not to add burdens, not to make claims, to remove any cultural, psychological or practical difficulties that could push people to postpone or drop the intention to baptize their own children.

In America, at the beginning of evangelization, missionaries discussed who was "worthy" to receive baptism. How did those disputes end?
Pope Paul III rejected the theories of those who claimed that the Indians were by nature "incapable" of accepting the Gospel and confirmed the choice of those who facilitated their baptism. They seem to be things of the past, yet even now there are circles and sectors that present themselves as ilustrados [enlightened], and even sequester the proclamation of the Gospel through their distorted reasoning that divide the world between "civilized" and "barbaric". What irritates them and makes them angry is the idea that the Lord might have a predilection for many cabecitas negras [a derogatory term]. They consider a large part of the human family as if they were a lower class entity, unable to achieve decent levels in spiritual and intellectual life according to their standards. On this basis, contempt can develop for people considered to be second rate. All this also emerged during the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon.

Some tend to drive a wedge between the transparent proclamation of the faith and social work. They say that we must not reduce mission to a type of social activity. Is that a legitimate concern?
Everything that is within the scope of the Beatitudes and the works of mercy is in agreement with mission, is already proclamation, is already mission. The Church is not an NGO, the Church is something else. But the Church is also a field hospital, where everyone is welcome, as they are, where everyone’s wounds are healed. And this is part of her mission. Everything depends on the love that moves the heart of those who do things. If a missionary helps dig a well in Mozambique because he is aware that those he baptizes and evangelizes need it, how can it be said that that work is separate from evangelization?

Today what are the new focusses and sensitivities to put into practice in the processes aimed at making evangelization fruitful in the various social and cultural contexts?
Christianity does not embrace only one cultural model. As John Paul II acknowledged, “while remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, Christianity will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root”. The Holy Spirit embellishes the Church, with the new languages of persons and communities that embrace the Gospel. Thus the Church, taking up the values of different cultures, becomes “sponsa ornate monilibus suis”, “the bride bedecked with her jewels”, of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks. It is true that some cultures have been closely linked to the preaching of the Gospel and to the development of Christian thought. But in the period we are living, it becomes even more urgent to bear in mind that the revealed message is not identified with a particular culture. And when meeting new cultures, or cultures that have not accepted the Christian proclamation, we must not try to impose a determined cultural form together with the evangelical proposition. Today, in missionary work as well, it is even more important not to carry heavy baggage.

Mission and martyrdom. You have often recalled the intimate bond uniting these two realities.
In Christian life the reality of martyrdom and evangelization both have the same origin, the same source: when the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit gives strength, courage and consolation. Martyrdom is the maximum expression of the recognition of and the testimony rendered to Christ, which represents the fulfillment of mission, of apostolic work. I always think of the Coptic brothers slaughtered in Libya, who quietly uttered Jesus’ name while they were being beheaded. I think of Saint Mother Teresa’s Sisters murdered in Yemen, while they were taking care of Muslim patients in a home for disabled elderly people. The sisters were wearing work aprons over their religious habits when they were killed. They are all victors, not "victims". And their martyrdom, to the point of the shedding of blood, illuminates the martyrdom that everyone can suffer in everyday life, with the witness rendered to Christ every day. It’s what can be observed when visiting old missionaries in their nursing homes. They are often battered by the life they have had. A missionary told me that many of them lose their memories and no longer remember anything about the good they did. "But it does not matter", he told me, "because the Lord remembers it very well".

Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/PUERTO RICO - Celebration in the diocese of Caguas for the beginning of the diocesan synod and the journey towards CAM 6

Fides EN - - lun, 04/11/2019 - 11:42
Caguas - The diocese of Caguas in Puerto Rico yesterday celebrated its 55th anniversary with the beginning of the first stage of the diocesan synod and the diocesan journey towards CAM 6 , Puerto Rico 2023. The Bishop of Caguas, Mgr. Eusebio Ramos, opened the diocesan synod with a decree read by the diocesan Chancellor, Father Ángel Molina, during Sunday Mass. At the end of the Mass there was a procession of fire and candles, chosen as symbols of CAM 6, together with the flag delivered to each diocese.
The national launch of the Sixth American Missionary Congress Puerto Rico 2023, took place on October 19, at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. The Executive Committee, formed by the Presidential Committee and the Coordinators of the Commissions and by the delegate of the Diocese of Ponce, seat of CAM 6, held the first meeting on October 28, for the organization of the continental event. Each Commission has a vital role, at a strategic and service level, in the journey of the Church of Puerto Rico and the American continent towards 2023.
According to information sent to Fides from the PMS of Puerto Rico, the CAM 6 organizational structure is already in motion. On 19 October, hundreds of people from all over the island enthusiastically participated in the launch of CAM 6, which took place with a very rich program, which initially included the message of Mgr. Daniel Fernández Torres, Bishop of Arecibo and National Director of the PMS. Therefore Fr. José Orlando Camacho, General Coordinator of CAM 6, and Fr. Carlos Manuel, Coordinator of the office in Ponce, informed about the organization and the commitments of the Committees. Mgr. Ghaleb Moussa Abdallah Bader, Apostolic Delegate for Puerto Rico, then addressed a brief speech to the people of God, before the Mass concelebrated by all the Bishops. Photos and videos on social media testify the enthusiasm and commitment of hundreds of faithful already involved in the preparation of CAM 6.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - National Mission Congress; "A very successful event of great importance for the Church in Nigeria", says the Director of the PMS

Fides EN - - lun, 04/11/2019 - 11:27
Abuja - "The Congress was a very successful one, in comparison to the third one, in terms of attendance and active participation by the cross section of the faithful of the Church in Nigeria", said Fr. George 'Segun Ajana, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Nigeria, at the end of the Fourth National Mission Congress held from 22 to 27 October at the Bishop Kelly Pastoral Center, in Benin City, capital of the State of Edo .
The Congress, which was attended by 350 delegates from the 9 Ecclesiastical Provinces of Nigeria, with the theme "Baptized and sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in Nigeria", which resumed that of the Extraordinary Missionary Month. The last day of the congress was in fact dedicated to the closing of the Extraordinary Missionary Month. The closing ceremony was attended by 2,500 faithful from the host archdiocese.
On this occasion the life and virtues of Vivian Ogun, the young girl who refused to be defiled by the criminals who kidnapped her. She was one of the 25 people identified as people of exemplary Christian life for the Extraordinary Mission Month, was brought to the attention of the faithful.
"Of particular interest was the number of the members of the Church’s hierarchy, present at the congress and the increase in the number of lay faithful participants. The determination and resilience of the participants at enhancing evangelization in the country and ad extra was very encouraging and a clear indication that the Church in Nigeria is progressing gradually in her missionary apostolate, even in the face of persecution and other challenges", stressed Fr. George. "For the Church in Nigeria, the light at the end of the tunnel, in the context of her evangelization apostolate is very bright and encouraging", concludes the National Director of the PMS.
Catégories: From the church