OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The commitment of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate for the promotion of women

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 13/02/2020 - 11:01
Port Moresby - The Daughters of Mary Immaculate Sisters are seriously committed to promoting the life of women in Port Moresby. Over the past year, women religious have carried out projects to improve women's skills in various sectors, creating self-help groups that take care of women's needs on a human, social and spiritual level. "To foster and instill a healthy relationship with God, we want to inspire women and children to pray the rosary every day with their families and to pray regularly", say the nuns. To this end, in recent months, the DMI have involved women in the pastoral ministry of communities, distributing rosaries and statues to these groups, blessed by the Archbishop of Port Moresby, Cardinal John Ribat MSC. "We try to encourage and prepare families to meet Christ Jesus", reads the note sent to Agenzia Fides.
Alongside the spiritual accompaniment, there is a lack of material aid: on January 28, Archbishop Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, donated 6 10kg bags of rice. The nuns purchased another fifty to distribute to the thirty self-help groups in the areas of Korobosea, Kaugere, Kogeva, Sabama and Joyce Bay.
Currently, the religious are raising funds to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, seen as an opportunity to reaffirm the profound and inalienable dignity of every woman. This involvement also leads women to improve their role in families.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Publication of "Querida Amazonia" on the anniversary of the murder of Sister Dorothy

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 12:57
Parà - Five years ago, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the violent death of Sister Dorothy Stang, the Bishop of the Prelature of Alto Xingu-Tucuna and President of the Indigenous Missionary Council , Archbishop Erwin Krautler, during the Eucharistic celebration, recalled: "When we buried the body of Sister Dorothy in February 2005, we did not bury it, but sowed it. She is a seed that will bear many fruits". By providential coincidence, on the anniversary of the death of the American missionary who had dedicated her life to the peoples of the Amazon, on February 12, the post-synodal apostolic exhortation "Querida Amazonia" was published, the result of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region of the Amazon: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology held in Rome from 6 to 27 October 2019.
Fides received from A12 agency of the Redemptorists of Brazil, a report on the importance of this historical memory. "A12 commemorates the 15th anniversary of the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang. A woman who paid with her life for her struggle for the poorest and most forgotten".
The brutal murder of Sister Dorothy, a religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame, took place on Saturday 12 February 2005, in Anapú, in the south-west area of the State of Parà . Sister Dorothy, an American missionary, 73, had worked for more than 20 years in the Pastoral Commission of the Earth , firmly and passionately accompanying the life and struggle of field workers, especially in the Trans Amazonian region of the State of Para. Due to her denunciation of the violent action of the "fazendeiros e grileiros", Sister Dorothy had received death threats since 1999.
She taught the most needy to fight for their rights, founded dozens of schools, taught the role of each governmental body and how each worker could pursue his or her rights. In recognition of her work in favor of the poorest, the religious, who had acquired the Brazilian nationality, had received in 2004 the title of "citizen of Parà". Also in 2004 she was awarded the "José Carlos Castro" prize of the Brazilian Bar Association, for her commitment in defense of human rights .
In April 2019, the CPT in the last edition of its annual report "Conflitos no Campo Brasil 2018", now in its 34th publication, recorded 1,489 conflicts in 2018, compared to 1,431 in 2017, which represents an increase of 3.9%. Most of these conflicts, according to Antônio Canuto, a journalist and CPT collaborator, are concentrated in the Amazon region. Overall, about 1 million people are involved, an increase of 35% compared to 2017, when 708,520 people were involved.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - After the 33rd Security Summit, "a political conscience in love with democracy" is expected

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 12:46
Addis Ababa - Will there be concrete actions for the well-being of African populations or will it be a routine event as always? This is the question that many Africans are asking at the end of the 33rd Summit that the African Heads of State and Government have just concluded in Addis Ababa on the demanding theme: "Silencing weapons to create conditions conducive to the development of the Africa". "So far, security summits in Africa have followed and multiplied with poor results". This is the comment by Fr. Donald Zagore, theologian of the Society for African Missions, on the drama of African precariousness.
"The African populations, in particular those of sub-Saharan Africa, in addition to being plagued by extreme poverty, live in terror of not being able to see the beginning of the day due to the violence that prevails in all forms, djihadism, terrorism, dictatorship".
"The response to the security crisis in Africa, even before being military, must be political", underlines Zagore. "The security crisis in Africa originates in the establishment and consolidation of anti-democratic, totalitarian and dictatorial political regimes. Many of our politicians use violence and terror as a means of government. Entire populations are massacred only to protect mere political interests".
Father Zagore concludes by saying: "Our continent today needs a political conscience in love with democracy, capable of concrete actions. Poverty and security are two interdependent realities. We cannot talk about development without having first taken up the security challenge and vice versa. Africa's development essentially passes through its security and through political action that truly sees the common good".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SENEGAL - Caritas Senegal: More than 7 million people in food crisis in the Sahel region

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 12:32
Dakar – More than 7 million people are affected by food insecurity in the Sahel region. This was stated by Caritas Senegal, which held its 56th Plenary Assembly in Ziguinchor, from 8 to 9 February.
The final press release of the assembly, sent to Agenzia Fides, recalls that "the meeting takes place in the regional context characterized by the deterioration of the security situation and by the extension of food insecurity, in particular in the Sahel where 7.2 millions people are concerned".
The President of Caritas Senegal, His Exc. Mgr. Jean Pierre Bassene, Bishop of Kolda and Apostolic Administrator of Tambacounda, underlined that "the food crisis in the region must be placed in a context of complex vulnerability which also exposes communities to other related risks, the spread of the coronavirus epidemic and the resumption of the Ebola virus epidemic in the Great Lakes region".
Proper management of water resources was one of the central themes of the Assembly's work, as demonstrated by the three reports entitled "Problems and challenges of access and management of water resources for food security: theological and biblical approach"; "the 9th Dakar World Water Forum 2021", "Access and management of water for food safety".
Among the topics examined by the participants: integrated management of water resources; fears aroused by the exploitation of the water table by hotels, industries and residences in the area; the creation of a special police task force will be set up in order to avoid drilling without prior authorization. The next Plenary Assembly of Caritas Senegal will be held in February 2021 in Dakar.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "Happiness and sadness together", after the cancellation of the accusations against the bishops

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 11:51
Manila - "I am both happy and sad", said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, at the head of the diocese of Caloocan, north of Manila, to Agenzia Fides, who welcomed the prosecutors decision to drop "sedition" charges against four Catholic Bishops. The Department of Justice have exonerated four Filipino bishops charged with plotting to overthrow President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration, included in a group of 36 activists, lawyers, religious. By many observers, the move had been described as intimidation to silence critics towards the government.
"I am happy that the criminal charges of sedition, incitement to sedition, obstruction of justice and cyber slander brought against me and my brother bishops have been rejected by the college of prosecutors, who carried out the preliminary investigations", said Mgr. David.
"On the other hand, I am sad that prosecutors found probable cause to indict the two priests, Fr. Albert Alejo SJ and Fr. Flavie Villanueva SVD, and other church leaders. I still hope and pray that the charges against them will also be dismissed soon by the courts", he said.
The Department determined that the bishops showed no intention of committing "sedition" and that the complaints filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group lack evidence. The accused Bishops were Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and Bishop Teodoro Bacani, retired prelate of Novaliches. Charges against Father Robert Reyes and La Salle Brother Armin Luistro were also dismissed.
Charges were, however, filed against Jesuit priest Albert Alejo and Divine Word priest Flaviano Villanueva and nine others for their involvement in the alleged plot to oust the president Duterte. All the activists, religious and lawyers involved have repeatedly said that they will not participate in any action with violent or illegal means. Even the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines had been working in defense of the accused, stating that the accusations were "beyond belief", noting that those accusations were intended to scare and silence the Bishops.
President Duterte in recent years has come into conflict with the Catholic Church above all for the issue of the "war on drugs" and for the violations of human rights, repeatedly denounced by NGOs and also present in a recent report by the NGO "Amnesty International", released on January 30th. "The families of the victims - Amnesty notes - have not obtained justice for their loved ones, due to the enormous obstacles existing in filing complaints against the perpetrators, including the fear of retaliation. Nor was any significant responsibility for the killings identified at a national level".
According to official data, in Duterte's "war on drugs", over 6,000 people have been killed in police operations, while human rights groups estimate the existence of another 25,000 victims of murders carried out by "vigilante squads", all unpunished.
A recent investigation by the Philippine online news site "Rappler" found that the government has so far followed a compliant attitude, leaving the cases of such killings unresolved, due to systematic shortcomings of the judicial system and the lack of commitment or complicity of the forces. police.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Antonio de Jesùs Mascorro Tristàn, MG

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 11:05
Vatican City - On November 21, 2019 Card. Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev. Fr. Antonio de Jesùs Mascorro Tristàn, MG as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Mexico for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born on 1 July 1966 in Armadillo de los Infante, San Luis Potosi, and entered the seminary of the Missionaries of Guadalupe in 1993, after having obtained his graphic design licentiate. He studied philosophy at the Intercontinental University , Spirituality and Pastoral Care in Tilapa, theology at Hekima College in Nairobi, Kenya. He entered as a Missionary of Guadalupe in 2001 in Nairobi, where he was also ordained a deacon in the same year. He was ordained a priest on April 6, 2002 in Armadillo de los Infante.
Since his ordination he has been Formator and Vice-Rector of the major Seminary in Mexico City, in charge of the minor Seminary in Guadalajara, in charge of the formation center in Africa, in Nairobi, parish priest of San Pietro parish, in the Masai area of the diocese of Ngong, Kenya. He was also the first Counselor of the mission of Kenya and member of the Reflection Commission on the Mission ad Gentes . He returned to Mexico in August 2018, where since then he has been part of the Formation Team and is Vice-Rector of the Major Seminary.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - The «great missionary proclamation» of Querida Amazonia

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 10:31
Rome - The Church «is called to journey alongside the people of the Amazon region» and to develop a Church with an «Amazonian face». But «for this incarnation of the Church and the Gospel to be possible, the great missionary proclamation must continue to resound». This is what Pope Francis wrote in paragraph 61 of his new Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia , the magisterial text inspired by the work of the Synod which took place in Rome between 6 and 27 October and which ended with a text entitled The Amazon: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology.

The new pontifical Exhortation, published today, bears the date of February 2, 2020. In the magisterial text there are many ideas and intense passages full of suggestions regarding the missionary vocation of the Church, and its distinctive features, which make it incomparable compared to all the forms of propaganda and ideological indoctrination.
«Recognizing the many problems and needs that cry out from the heart of the Amazon region», writes Pope Francis in paragraph 62 "we can respond beginning with organizations, technical resources, opportunities for discussion and political programmes: all these can be part of the solution. Yet as Christians, we cannot set aside the call to faith that we have received from the Gospel. In our desire to struggle side by side with everyone, we are not ashamed of Jesus Christ. Those who have encountered him, those who live as his friends and identify with his message, must inevitably speak of him and bring to others his offer of new life: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” ». An authentic option for the poor and the abandoned, which «motivates us to liberate them from material poverty and to defend their rights», - the Pope points out - also involves «inviting them to a friendship with the Lord that can elevate and dignify them. How sad it would be», adds the Bishop of Rome, «if they were to receive from us a body of teachings or a moral code, but not the great message of salvation, the missionary appeal that speaks to the heart and gives meaning to everything else in life. Nor can we be content with a social message. If we devote our lives to their service, to working for the justice and dignity that they deserve, we cannot conceal the fact that we do so because we see Christ in them and because we acknowledge the immense dignity that they have received from God, the Father who loves them with boundless love».
In paragraph 64, citing the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis recalls that the announcement of the Gospel is also reserved as a precious gift to the men and women of the Amazon, above all «that first proclamation, the kerygma, which is “the principal proclamation, the one which we must hear again and again in different ways, the one which we must announce one way or another”». Without that impassioned proclamation - the Pope acknowledges - «every ecclesial structure would become just another NGO and we would not follow the command given us by Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” ».
The most surprising effect of the proclamation of the Gospel, «when it leads to a personal encounter with the Lord - writes the Pope in paragraph 65 - is fraternal charity». Indeed "The kerygma and fraternal charity constitute the great synthesis of the whole content of the Gospel, to be proclaimed unceasingly in the Amazon region. That is what shaped the lives of the great evangelizers of Latin America, like Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo or Saint Joseph of Anchieta».
Several passages of Querida Amazonia focus on the criteria and dynamics that make the processes of inculturation of the Gospel precious and indispensable also in the Amazon region. Inculturation - Pope Francis recalls in paragraph 66 also citing his recent "Letter to the Itinerant People of God in Germany" - «rejects nothing of the goodness that already exists in Amazonian cultures, but brings it to fulfilment in the light of the Gospel. Nor does she scorn the richness of Christian wisdom handed down through the centuries, presuming to ignore the history in which God has worked in many ways. For the Church has a varied face, “not only in terms of space… but also of time”. Here we see the authentic Tradition of the Church, which is not a static deposit or a museum piece, but the root of a constantly growing tree. This millennial Tradition bears witness to God’s work in the midst of his people and “is called to keep the flame alive rather than to guard its ashes”».
The authentic inculturation of the Gospel in different historical and cultural contexts - underlines the Pope, again recalling the Evangelii Gaudium - involves «a double movement. On the one hand, a dynamic of fertilization that allows one to express the Gospel in a place, since “when a community welcomes the announcement of salvation, the Holy Spirit fertilizes its culture with the transforming force of the Gospel”. On the other hand, the Church herself undergoes a process of reception that enriches her with the fruits of what the Spirit has already mysteriously sown in that culture. In this way, «the Holy Spirit adorns the Church, showing her new aspects of revelation and giving her a new face”».
The Pope further stresses, citing the exhortation Evangelii gaudium, «Christianity does not have simply one cultural Expression» and "we would not do justice to the logic of the incarnation if we thought of Christianity as monocultural and monotonous». Thinking also and not only of the Amazon, the Successor of Peter recalls that «there is a risk that evangelizers who come to a particular area may think that they must not only communicate the Gospel but also the culture in which they grew up, failing to realize that it is not essential «to impose a specific cultural form, no matter how beautiful or ancient it may be». What is needed is courageous openness to the novelty of the Spirit, who is always able to create something new with the inexhaustible riches of Jesus Christ».
In the Amazon, this also means recognizing the «great riches from the pre-Columbian cultures», such as openness to the action of God, a sense of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, and we should esteem «the indigenous mysticism that sees the interconnection and interdependence of the whole of creation, the mysticism of gratuitousness that loves life as a gift, the mysticism of a sacred wonder before nature and all its forms of life. At the same time - adds the Pope - we are called to turn this relationship with God present in the cosmos into an increasingly personal relationship with a “Thou” who sustains our lives and wants to give them a meaning, a “Thou” who knows us and loves us». Pope Francis recognizes that in the Amazon this inculturation, Given the situation of poverty and neglect experienced by so many inhabitants», must «necessarily have a markedly social cast». At the same time - adds the Pope also the inculturation of the Gospel in the Amazon region must «better integrate the social and the spiritual, so that the poor do not have to look outside the Church for a spirituality
that responds to their deepest yearnings» . The Bishop of Rome also suggests recognizing and treasuring «certain features of popular Catholicism that, perhaps originally introduced by pastoral workers, are now something that the people have made their own, even changing their meaning and handing them down from generation to generation».
According to the Pope, we must not be quick to describe as superstition or paganism «certain religious practices that arise spontaneously from the life of peoples. Rather, we ought to know how to distinguish the wheat growing alongside the tares, for “popular piety can enable us to see how the faith, once received, becomes embodied in a culture and is constantly passed on». . The Pope adds in paragraph 79 that «It is possible to take up an indigenous symbol in some way, without necessarily considering it as idolatry. A myth charged with spiritual meaning can be used to advantage and not always considered a pagan error». For this - the Pope underlines – A missionary of souls will try to discover the legitimate needs and concerns that seek an outlet in at times imperfect, partial or mistaken religious expressions, and will attempt to respond to them with an inculturated spirituality».
In the passages of Querida Amazonia in which the scarcity of priests operating in the Amazonian territories is taken into consideration, the Pope among other indications also exhorts "the Bishops, especially those in Latin America, not only to promote prayer for priestly vocations, but also to be more generous in encouraging those who display a missionary vocation to opt for the Amazon region».
In some paragraphs in the introductory section, Pope Francis also encourages that amid the grave excesses of the colonization of the
Amazon region, so full of “contradictions and suffering many missionaries came to bring the «Gospel leaving their homes and leading an austere and demanding life alongside those who were most defenceless. We know that not all of them were exemplary - the Pope recalls, also citing the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod - yet the work of those who remained faithful to the Gospel also inspired a legislation like the Laws of the Indies, which defended the dignity of the indigenous peoples from violence against their peoples and territories. Since it was often the priests who protected the indigenous peoples from their plunderers and abusers, the missionaries recounted that “they begged insistently that we not abandon them and they extorted from us the promise that we would return”» .
At the same time - the Pope acknowledges - since we cannot deny that the wheat was mixed with the tares, and that the missionaries did not always take the side of the oppressed: «I express my shame and once more - adds Pope Francis, quoting his speech at the meeting with popular movements on July 9, 2015, during his apostolic trip to Bolivia - I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offenses of the Church herself, but for the crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America, as well as for the terrible crimes that followed throughout the history of the Amazon region» .
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/MICRONESIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Caroline Islands and successor

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 10:24
Vatican City - On 2 January 2020, the Holy Father accepted the renunciation of the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Caroline Islands , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Amando Samo. He is succeeded by His Exc. Mgr. Julio Angkel, currently Coadjutor Bishop of the same Diocese.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Inter-ethnic clashes: the Church prays for the victims and calls for peace

Fides EN - www.fides.org - mer, 12/02/2020 - 10:19
Almaty - "We pray for all those who have suffered, for those who still suffer, for the deceased and hospitalized. We pray and hope that the spirit of reconciliation among the inhabitants of these populations can be renewed". This is the comment released to Agenzia Fides by Mgr. José Luís Mumbiela Sierra, Bishop of the Diocese of Almaty and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan, on the inter-ethnic clashes between Kazakhs and Dungans, which have shaken Kazakh society in recent days, with the consequent impact of social and political tensions still present.
The violence took place in the Zambyl region, in the southeastern part of the country, on the border with Kyrgyzstan in the night between 7 and 8 February, and resulted in 10 deaths and 170 injured, in addition to the destruction of 25 private houses, 31 shops and 41 cars. The Kazakh Minister of Information and Communications, Dauren Abayev, announced that the accidents were apparently caused by a banal confrontation that took place in the village of Masanci, linked to episodes of daily life.
According to the police version, one of the villagers did not stop when the traffic police shouted halt. Chased by the agents, he allegedly called neighbors and relatives who attacked the policemen. The conflict then widened causing casualties and injuries. According to other local sources, some Dungans apparently attacked an 80-year-old Kazakh elder, with the retaliation of Kazakh men against the population of Dungan-dominated villages.
The clashes then affected several villages, with a prevalent Dungan population. The Kazakh government sent soldiers to the scene that seized rudimentary weapons, while the judiciary launched criminal proceedings with the hypothesis of a crime involving mass unrest, murder, resistance to public officials.
The Dungan population represents 90% of residents in the area, while the Kazakhs and the Russians are both 5% of the society.
Tolerance between religions and ethnic groups is one of the fundamental points of the Kazakh national identity. In the country there is a sort of "superposition" of two cults: a public one, linked to loyalty to the state, and a private one, closely related to religion and ethnicity. This approach is linked to a policy that has proved far-sighted: immediately after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the economic crisis and the deterioration of state institutions could have triggered an inter-ethnic conflict of enormous proportions. Kazakhstan has managed to avert this scenario by imposing a social model that sees its milestone in recognizing the pivotal role of the State.
The Dungans, a population of Chinese ethnicity and Muslim religion, arrived in Central Asia in the late 19th century to escape persecution by the Chinese authorities. According to official data provided by the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, currently, out of a population of 17 million, 70% are Muslims, 26% Christians, 1% of whom are of Catholic faith.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - Education for girls from poor families: religious women in the front line

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 08/02/2020 - 19:41
Dar es Salaam - In Tanzania, studying is still a privilege. Although education is formally promoted by public authorities, it is difficult for boys and girls to attend regular school courses. Among the problems limiting access is that of the scarce presence of schools in the rural areas of the African country. Since 2005, the Tanzanian government has taken important steps to increase access to secondary education, committing itself to building new secondary schools.
However, in some remote areas of the country, students have to travel up to 25 kilometers to reach the school, not to mention that more and more people stop their studies due to the high costs of transportation, uniforms and books. According to World Bank data, less than a third of girls reach lower secondary school education. 30% of the Tanzanian population is illiterate .
Girls from the poorest families are those who suffer the most and who, once they reach 18 years of age, are often forced to marry and therefore stop going to school. Added to this is the tough selection made by educational institutions that impose severe exams to move from primary school to lower secondary school and then from this to upper secondary school.
In this context, the work carried out by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, who for some years have opened the St. Joseph Chambery Center in Songea, takes on a particular meaning. "Born as a hostel – explains to Agenzia Fides Sister Marielena Aceti, general councilor of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph – it has become a structure that offers reception and assistance to vulnerable young people who come from particularly poor families. The sisters help them to complete their studies. Over time the institution has acquired great credibility both at a regional and national level. It is no coincidence that the Tanzanian authorities have officially recognized it as a charitable work".
In recent months, the hostel has become a non-profit entity. This will make it easier to work with the country's schools, educational and social organizations.
In the meantime, however, the results are excellent. "In 2019 - concluded Sister Mariaelena - 14 girls completed their studies and all with excellent results. They received many awards for the grades achieved. All will continue their studies at university. The goal is to be able to make them serious professionals capable of helping their country and their communities as doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers".
Many communities of religious and lay people in Italy and in other countries also participate in this effort, raising funds that allow girls to study. "It is also thanks to donations - Sister Mariaelena concludes - that we can continue to support this structure. We like to think that a red thread of solidarity unites our country with Tanzania".
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - The commitment of Churches and missionaries against "human traffickers", in the name of Santa Marta

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 08/02/2020 - 19:01
Vatican City - Missionaries and consecrated persons are at the forefront: the phenomenon of human trafficking, with its tragic and ruinous impact on often poor and destitute communities, at all latitudes, sees the commitment of Churches in Asia, Africa, America and Oceania that help save victims and exploited people and denounce injustices, criminals, traffickers and help build more just and fraternal societies.
In Africa, the various Bishops' Conferences are invited to create a special office that deals with human trafficking, as recommended by the second African Santa Marta regional conference held in Nairobi last fall. The "Santa Marta" group is a global alliance of police chiefs, Bishops and religious communities who work, in collaboration with civil society, in the fight against human trafficking, which Pope Francis well defined as "a crime against humanity". The group recommended the various Bishops' Conferences to work together with the police authorities, the judiciary, the immigration department and the police forces in order to tackle the sad phenomenon of human trafficking. Philip Anyolo, Archbishop of Kisumu and President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya, hopes for "the creation of effective partnerships and collaborations with the aim of cutting the umbilical cord of human trafficking and slavery today". "It should be remembered - said Cardinal Vincent Gerard Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Santa Mart group - that human trafficking is an extremely profitable criminal activity and those who carry it out have no limits both in their desire for profit and in their insensitive indifference to people's dignity. They must be stopped and the victims saved, loved and supported".
In South Asia the phenomenon is quite alarming. As reported to Fides, in Bangladesh the presence of criminal organizations has been ascertained that hire local traffickers to look for young women, often in tribal communities and kidnap them from their families even with the deception or prospect of a prosperous and happy life abroad.
The testimony of Ranjita Das, a 28-year-old Catholic, proves this alarming phenomenon: she was returning home from school with her three-year-old daughter. Two women with their burqa stopped her and told her that she would most probably receive a government-funded house-building plan. They offered her some food, but the woman lost consciousness: on waking up she found herself in an unknown place, inside a locked room controlled by the Muslim Athur Rahman Hasan. In the past, the man had often presented himself to the village, falsely declaring himself as a member of the local government willing to help families in need. Bangladesh - says a message from the local Church sent to Agenzia Fides - is one of the areas of Asia where the phenomenon of human trafficking is strong. According to official figures, about 50,000 Bangladeshi girls are kidnapped and brought to India or pass through India every year. Police reports say gangs of human traffickers in Libya and Iran kidnap Bangladeshi women looking for work abroad and hold them hostage. Above all, poor and needy people become victims of human trafficking.
"Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must combine our efforts to stop this crime, which has become increasingly aggressive, and threatens not only individuals, but the founding values of society", said to Agenzia Fides Kim Rattana, Executive Director of Caritas Cambodia and representative of the anti-trafficking task force of the Mekong sub-region. "Our mission is to work for the elimination of human trafficking, the promotion of human dignity, global solidarity and the empowerment of people in the Greater Mekong region", he says, noting that "the phenomenon is increasingly complex". "There is an urgent need to raise public awareness of trafficking issues through exhibitions, video sharing, conferences, interreligious prayers, marches, web messages", hopes Rattana, who brought the topic at the center of the "National inter-confessional forum of Cambodia", which includes members of the national government and religious organizations. Public and private bodies, lay organizations and various religious communities in the Southeast Asian nation have committed themselves to fighting trafficking and ending "modern slavery", said Chou Bun Eng, vice president of the National Commission for the fight against human trafficking. In recent years, a common effort and a path of interreligious dialogue to combat trafficking has been promoted. Cambodia, Caritas recalls, is a transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Cambodian adults and children migrate to other countries in the region and to the Middle East for work; many are subjected to forced labor or end up in slavery in activities related to agriculture, construction, industry and domestic servitude.
"Illegal activities such as human trafficking operations on foreigners are becoming dramatically normal", say in a joint message sent to Fides, Caritas and the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, in Oceania. The Church has declared her intent to collaborate with the police forces already involved in this sector, inviting to adequately study the phenomenon through a multidisciplinary approach, to understand the problem, the causes, the processes and the criminal groups involved. Human trafficking in Papua New Guinea is a very complex problem: according to a recent report published by the local newspaper "Post Courier", several foreign multinationals carry out activities not foreseen in their licenses and even contrary to the laws of Papua. The local Church calls for greater cooperation, defense and awareness raising on human trafficking.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - In prayer and on the march against human trafficking

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 08/02/2020 - 18:20
Rome - There will be numerous missionaries, priests, religious, nuns and lay people who have come from all continents, at the prayer vigil that is to be held in the Basilica of Sant'Antonio al Laterano, in Rome, on February 8 at 6: 30 pm, on the occasion of the VI World Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking, which is celebrated on 8 February. During the vigil, presided over by Cardinal Michael Czerny SJ, Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, those present will pray according to the intention of Pope Francis for the month of February; "We pray that the cries of our migrant brothers and sisters, victims of criminal human smuggling and human trafficking, may be heard and considered". During the meeting, animated mainly by young people, testimonies on trafficking by people committed to fighting the phenomenon of exploitation will be shared which, in the world, keeps 40 million people in slavery.
"Together against trafficking" is the invitation "to join forces to overcome the challenge of exploitation and human trafficking", says the International Committee of World Day, coordinated by "Talitha Kum", the network of consecrated life against trafficking.
The work was carried out in partnership with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Integral Human Development Service, Caritas Internationalis, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, Anti-Trafficking Working Group and the Jesuit Refugees Service.
The date chosen, February 8, refers to the day on which the liturgical memory of Saint Bakhita, a nun of Sudanese origin, who became a universal symbol of the Church's commitment against slavery, is remembered.
The following day, 9 February, an awareness-raising march is also planned, which starts from Castel Sant'Angelo and will end in St. Peter's Square at 12 noon, to participate in the Angelus prayer with Pope Francis. It was the Pope himself who launched the first edition of the World Day in 2015, encouraging "those who are committed to helping men, women and children enslaved, exploited, to be the voice of these our brothers and sisters, humiliated in their dignity".
The hashtag #PrayAgainstTrafficking, on the social network "Twitter", intends to promote the importance of prayer and common action against human trafficking. Each person who shares this spirit will be able to share photos, thoughts and most significant moments of the different celebrations that will take place all over the world.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - A missionary: "To bring the Gospel of Christ into society"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 08/02/2020 - 17:55
Dhaka - "The Church in Bangladesh is called to give greater emphasis and responsibility to lay Catholics, trying to make understood that the apostolate is not only the ecclesial service, in the context of parishes or movements, but is also and especially that in society, in structures related to politics, the world of work, the family and in the context of dialogue with young people, in all those other realities where it is urgent to bring the Gospel of Christ". This is what Fabrizio Calegari, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions , said in an interview with Agenzia Fides, summarizing the challenges of the Bengali Catholic community. "With a spirit of service - he underlines - it is necessary to try to increase mainly the spiritual life of the faithful called to witness Christ in the dear areas of society".
More than fifty different ethnic groups coexist in the Asian country, more than half of these continue to practice Aboriginal traditions and animist cults, while a part of those indigenous communities has accepted the message of the Gospel. "Among these groups - notes the priest - most of the evangelizing activity of our missionaries takes place: every year we welcome many new baptized". Father Calegari worked in two PIME hostels in the diocese of Dinajpur which host children belonging to tribal minorities from poor families for twenty years, offering them human and professional formation: "In Bangladesh - he observes - thousands of young people, boys and girls, students, workers and unemployed are truly left to themselves, and no one takes care of them".
The PIME missionaries are in particular close to this part of the Indian subcontinent - ex Eastern Pakistan - the first three missionaries destined for Bengal, Albino Parietti, Luigi Limana and Antonio Marietti, accompanied by the catechist Giovanni Sesana, land in Calcutta at the beginning of June 1855 and on June 17 they arrive in Berhampur, sent by the Apostolic Vicar of the Bengali capital, on which they depend. "In 1910 - continues Father Calegari’s story - the mission begins among the indigenous population of the Santal. Other missionaries in those years dedicated themselves to the assistance of lepers".
Currently the communities of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions are located in the dioceses of Dhaka, Dinajpur and Rajshahi. Dialogue with Islam, the apostolate and human promotion among the Santal natives are still the priorities of that missionary community in Bangladesh. Among the privileged channels for evangelization, Father Calegari highlights how education and work in schools play a fundamental role: "Our apostolate - he reports - passes through education: in this way we reach most of our faithful. We have many primary, junior and college schools, attended by 80% non-Catholic students. With educational works, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus also learn to know and appreciate Christ".
Recalling that all the baptized are "missionary disciples", the missionary reports, one focuses today on the formation of the laity, called to give testimony of the Gospel in the structures of society.
Bangladesh is the fourth most populous Muslim nation in the world. About 90% of the 160 million inhabitants are Muslims, about 8% Hindus. There are about 600,000 Christians, 400,000 of whom are Catholics.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Fr. Calegari on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Safeguarding creation and social responsibility among the objectives of Caritas in the new year

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 08/02/2020 - 17:27
Almaty - "A new year has began: for Caritas Kazakhstan it is a new beginning made up of many challenges, many emotions, new initiatives and old and new friends. We thank all those who joined us in 2019 and hope that they can continue to accompany us on this journey". This is the message with which the director of Caritas Kazakhstan, Fr. Guido Trezzani, talks about the organization's objectives for 2020. In a note sent to Agenzia Fides, the missionary explains that the issue of safeguarding Creation will be of great importance: "The events of the past few months have placed ecology at the center of world priorities. This is not the context to deepen a discussion on the 'Greta phenomenon', but what is certain is that when the volume of slogans is lowered, everyone is left with a question: 'what can I do in practice?'. In this perspective, it was very important for us at Caritas Kazakhstan to take part in the conference organized in Bangkok last December by Caritas Asia and based on the open questions that the Pope launched in the encyclical 'Laudato sì. For a reality like ours, which move its first steps towards such vast problems, it was a unique opportunity to listen to the experiences and results obtained by other organizations of the Confederation and to find inspiration for our present and future projects".
The issue of citizens' social responsibility will also accompany another Caritas project, in collaboration with the clothing brand 'Zara': "At first glance, one might think that the world of fashion is very far from social concerns. Fortunately, however, there are circumstances that break stereotypes. Contacts with 'Zara' began with simple telephone conversations to clarify the purposes and details of a possible collaboration with Caritas Kazakhstan. The project that emerged was to place used clothing collection boxes in three stores in Almaty: Caritas volunteers would then distribute these garments to needy families in the area. In addition to the intrinsic value of the project, there is also a symbolic one: the deepening, through concrete initiatives, of the sense of social responsibility on behalf of all citizens", concluded Fr. Trezzani.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - "Give this Country a chance": Nuncio's appeal to participants in the Dialogue Conference

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 31/01/2020 - 13:19
Port au Prince - "As I said last December 17 at the opening of the seminar that was held here, it is through dialogue among protagonists that a satisfactory solution can emerge to get out of the crisis. It is a matter of general interest that requires the overcoming of partisan interests", said His Exc. Mgr. Eugene M. Nugent, Apostolic Nuncio in Haiti, at the opening of the proceedings of the Dialogue Conference for Haiti
The Nuncio stressed the need for "a real brave and healthy compromise" to make Haiti become "a politically stable nation", "a condition sine qua non for sustainable development, where the necessary reforms can finally be undertaken".
"Several attempts have been made to end the crisis and numerous proposals have been made for its resolution, which indicates the willingness of both sides to overcome this long period of instability. This is the approach that the Holy See encourages, without prejudice, without partisan interest, but guided only by the search for peace, according to its vocation", added Mgr. Nugent.
"I therefore hope that this conference, which begins today, is not another of many, but thanks to the will of all the participants, it will be the one that will allow the nation to hope for better days, in socio-political terms. This is a desire and also a prayer. In the name of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, please give this country a chance, because as St. John Paul II said during his visit to Haiti: "Something must change" here. And you have a heavy and noble responsibility", urged the Nuncio.
The international community is by your side to support any inclusive, concerted and consensual initiative" concluded Mgr. Nugent.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Religious leaders are committed to contributing to national pacification

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 31/01/2020 - 13:11
Kinshasa - "Positive progress has been made but serious problems remain that if they are not dealt with responsibly, the change that the Congolese people manifested vigorously will remain a vain slogan", says the statement of the Platform of Religious Confessions in the Republic Democratic of Congo, published on the occasion of the first anniversary of the presidency of current Head of State Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi.
In the statement entitled "Le prophète avertit le peuple" the leaders of the main religious confessions of the DRC recognize "some progress that occurred after the elections, in particular the relaxation of the political climate in general with concrete acts such as the return of political exiles, the release of political prisoners, freedom of demonstrations; the sensitivity of authorities towards the difficulties of the population, the revitalization of diplomatic relations with different countries; positive developments in the dissemination of free education; the progress of our armed forces in the eastern part of the Country, especially in North and South Kivu and in Ituri".
However, religious leaders stress the main challenges the country faces: the deterioration of the economy; persistence of corruption; the exploitation of justice; the misappropriation of public funds; porous boundaries; the persistence of insecurity, particularly in the eastern part of the Country; the expansion of urban banditry; illegal exploitation of natural resources.
"We appeal to the moderation of language and sense of responsibility of all socio-political actors" say the religious leaders who announce the intention to meet the leaders of state institutions "in order to share our vision and give our contribution to the advent of a prosperous Congo".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - At the service of vulnerable people: pastoral challenges on the border between Colombia and Venezuela

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 31/01/2020 - 12:44
Cucuta - Manifesting the Holy Father's concern for border situations, sharing the Church's charitable activities in favor of the most vulnerable people in that context is the objective of the meeting organized by the Department for the Service of Integral Human Development and the Migrants and Refugees Section at the diocese of Cucuta, border with Venezuela. "Caridad en la frontera" is the theme of the meeting taking place from 30 to 31 January 2020.
"Our meeting here in Cúcuta, organized together with the Migrants and Refugees section and in close collaboration with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, wishes to make a concrete contribution to analyze the needs and adequately coordinate the help of the ecclesial network in favor of all the victims of the humanitarian crisis", reads a note from Cardinal Peter KA Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery.
"We are not an NGO: our mission goes beyond mere assistance", underlined the Cardinal in his message during the opening of the meeting. "The field of action of the Dicastery promotes the integral development of man in the light of the Gospel. In particular, our Dicastery is responsible for migration, the needy, the sick and the excluded, the unemployed and victims of any form of slavery and torture. These vulnerable people are those whom the Dicastery is called to serve. The international community does not seem to be able to provide adequate solutions to this immense 'ocean of pain' - says Cardinal Turkson. Together with neighboring countries, representatives of the local episcopates and of ecclesial institutions and religious congregations, the Apostolic Nunciatures, numerous Catholic charitable organizations and NGOs also work at the forefront".
The Prefect of the Dicastery explains the intention to establish "a platform, an information sharing service, through which to obtain a more unified picture of the Church's charitable action in the context of the emergency, identifying concrete guidelines for future interventions, useful for mitigating the humanitarian impact of the crisis. We have seen that this model, which was welcomed by the actors involved in the Middle East, managed to create and consolidate a solidarity network".
The Venezuelan crisis is one of the most serious in recent decades and has reached dramatic levels. According to the latest UNHCR and IOM estimates, the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Latin America and the Caribbean is about 4.5 million, of whom over one million in Colombia, 500,000 in Peru and the rest in neighboring countries with Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, the United States of America and Spain.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Patriarch: Trump's "Plan" for the Holy Land is "a sign of war and hatred"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 31/01/2020 - 11:44
Bkerkè - Calling U.S. President Donald Trump’s Peace-to-Prosperity plan a “unilateral initiative,” church leaders in the Holy Land said it did not give “dignity and rights” to the Palestinians. US President Donald Trump called the plan the "deal of the century" and will "create more tensions and probably more violence and bloodshed", which risks "destroying" the Holy Land where Jesus Christ was born. This is what Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites said on January 30, in the reflections with which he accompanied the recitation of the rosary which has been taking place in the church of the Maronite patriarchal see of Berkè since last October, to invoke the gift of peace for Lebanon. The Primate of the Maronite Church invited everyone to pray for the Holy Land, "where the Savior Jesus Christ was born, where the Most Holy Trinity was revealed, where the Church was established, and from where the Holy Gospel was announced to the whole world". It is not possible - the Patriarch remarked - to accept "that this land is destroyed "for the intentions and choices "of a person who has decided to put aside history". Jews, Christians and Muslims coexist in the Holy Land - added the Maronite Cardinal - "as God willed. And this land cannot bear this political decision taken by the Administration or by the President of the United States". The Patriarch concluded his reflection by imploring God to spare the peoples possible sufferings caused "by this plan wanted by the US President", and by remembering that there can be no peace when injustice and arrogance prevails.
In recent days, strong criticisms of the US "Peace for Prosperity" plan launched by Trump had already been voiced by various church realities and bodies, including the Patriarchs and heads of the Churches of Jerusalem, the Lutheran World Federation, the Assembly of ordinary Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of England and Wales.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "Oratio imperata" to ask God for protection from the coronovirus outbreak

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 31/01/2020 - 09:50
Manila - "God our Father we come to You in our need to ask Your protection against the N-coronavirus that has claimed lives and has affected many. We pray for Your grace for the people tasked with studying the nature and cause of this virus and its disease and of stemming the tide of its transmission. Guide the hands and minds of medical experts that they may minister to the sick with competence and compassion and of those governments and private agencies that must find cure and solution to this epidemic": these are the words of the "Oratio Imperata", the prayer to be offered in Masses during weekdays and Sundays, after the Holy Communion in all the Catholic churches in the Philippines, beginning Sunday February 2, feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The prayer was approved and issued by the Filipino Bishops who, at the conclusion of the recent assembly, wanted to ask the people of God for a special invocation to the Almighty, while fears are growing in the world for the spread of the coronovirus. There has been one confirmed case in the Philippines. "We pray for those afflicted. May they be restored to health soon. Grant us the grace to work for the good of all and to help those in need", continues the prayer.
The Philippine government has issued a series of measures and advice to be implemented in social life – to wash your hands often, wear appropriate masks - even the Catholic Church has issued some directives. In fact, the faithful are advised "to follow the health recommendations of experts in order to prevent the spread of the disease" and parishes are invited to observe specific practices during the liturgy: Holy Communion is to be received by hand; Check and change regularly the Holy Water from Holy Water Fonts; install protective cloth on the grills of confessionals; avoid holding hands during the singing/praying of the “Our Father” and from shaking of hands during the Sign of Peace.
The coronovirus, which originated in Wuhan province in China, has so far infected over 7,000 people in China and other countries, and has already killed 213 people in mainland China.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - "The Word that illuminates and nourishes us together with the bread of the Eucharist"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 30/01/2020 - 13:02
Kolowaré - "God sends his Word which enters our hearts. This Word invites us to meet others and listen to their existence, find time to talk, recognize, with contemplative eyes, the presence and action of God in their lives ..." On January 26 the faithful celebrated the "Sunday of the Word of God" in the village of Kolowarè.
Father Silvano Galli, priest of the Society for African Missions, told Fides how the population approached this moment strongly desired by Pope Francis. "On Sunday, January 26 we prepared the altar of our church with two tables and in front of us we placed a large Bible surrounded by decorations and lights as well as a large candle to symbolize that it is this Word that illuminates and nourishes together with the bread of the Eucharist".
"In addition - adds the missionary - on the last Sunday of January, World Day of leprosy patients is also celebrated and, every year, here in Kolowaré we celebrate together with our patients. In the homily I wanted to put them at the center of attention and remember all those who have always taken care of them so far: the nuns of Our Lady of the Apostles who have been taking care of them since 1944. In 1958 there were 800, now most of the old people have died, and there are about thirty of them left", concludes Fr. Galli.
Catégories: From the church