VATICAN - Cardinal Tagle: "The language of evangelization is that of charity"

Fides EN - - ven, 26/06/2020 - 10:39
Rome - To announce the Gospel today, the language best understood by humanity is that of charity, not of the great theological explanations. For this reason, the Vincentian religious have a particular role, that linked to charism: St. Vincent de 'Paoli and St. Luisa Di marillac , were "a powerful sign of this language". This is what Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said, addressing the Vincentians, in a recent visit to the Congregation of the Mission. As Fides learns, accepting the invitation of the Superior General, Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, the Cardinal met the members of the General Curia in Rome on June 17.
Speaking with the religious, the Cardinal underlined three specific and important tasks still today: to be inspirers of charity towards other people; engage in a charity that "forms a community"; continue the service of promoting active charity in the formation of the clergy .
Referring to the "new evangelization" the Prefect of Propaganda Fide remarked a sort of ambiguity of this expression , as in some it aroused enthusiasm, in others surprise, given that "evangelization is always new: if anything, it is up to us to rediscover its perennial novelty". "The current challenge, he said - lies in discerning how we can present the Gospel, which is always the same, in a changing world".
One aspect that emerged from the debate was that of an excessive intellectual, if not academic, emphasis on theological formation throughout the history of the Church, while the intellectual aspect should be only one aspect of a more integral formation. Even that of discipleship is an essential aspect: it must be rediscovered urgently if we want to prevent theological formation from falling into ideologisms, as has often happened, the Cardinal stressed.
The last question touched during the meeting was related to the care of the common home, with reference to the encyclical Laudato Sì. The Cardinal reported the words of Pope Francis, for whom the encyclical is not an ecological document, but a document of the social doctrine of the Church. There is still an inadequate interest in these matters, even among priests and bishops, while there are similarities with the campaigns of ecological movements, with which there is also a considerable difference: where Christians speak of "protection and safeguard of Creation" and of a work of God, for them it is simply a matter of "nature" or environment.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Alarm for the health situation and social indiscipline in Chocò

Fides EN - - ven, 26/06/2020 - 10:32
Chocò - As part of the patronal feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Patroness of the diocese of Quibdó, Mgr. Juan Carlos Barreto Barreto, strongly denounced the precariousness of the health system and social indiscipline in the department of Chocó in times of the pandemic. The reflection was expressed during the Eucharist celebrated on Saturday 20 June in a moment of prayer lived also in the dioceses of Istimina-Tadó and Apartadó.
In this circumstance, the Bishop of Quibdó said: "We unite to implore the Immaculate Heart of Mary to help us in this difficult moment that Chocó is going through due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are close to 1,000 cases of infected people in the department and 35 people have already died. Our health system is collapsing, unfortunately the institutional weakness for prevention and detention has not been efficient and social indiscipline aggravates the situation".
Taking inspiration from the reading of the day, from the evangelist Saint Luca, the Bishop proposed a reflection that touched on four topics: personal care, health system, mental health and spiritual health.
In Colombia the celebrations for the Sacred Heart of Jesus and for the Immaculate Heart of Mary are deeply felt and involve a large part of the population. In the face of the collapse of the health system, generated by the spread of the coronavirus in this region, the Catholic Church and organizations of the local population have urgently appealed to the international community for the necessary support to overcome this dramatic moment. . Regarding Covid, Colombia has registered 77,115 cases and more than 2,500 deaths.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA - The appeal to ceasefire for the Covid-19 crisis has not been received in Africa

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 14:01
Rome - The clarion call for a ceasefire amid COVID-19 crisis in areas of armed conflicts by world leaders including the Holy Father and the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, have been disregarded in Africa, various Church leaders have testified.
Hostilities have not ceased for example in the English-speaking secessionist areas of Cameroon, as testified by His Exc. Mgr. Andrew Nkea Fuanya, Archbishop of Bamenda, who reported that the secessionist leaders who had agreed to sign a general ceasefire, "in fact don’t actually have much influence on those fighting on the ground".
The Central African nation with 80 percent French speakers and 20 percent English speakers has been experiencing armed conflicts since 2016. The peaceful protest of the inhabitants who feel marginalized by the central government has transformed into a low intensity armed struggle. Despite some attempts of mediation, the conflict has not yet been resolved.
In neighboring Nigeria, despite the “principal danger” of famine that COVID-19 pandemic poses to the poorest of the people, "we are still still at the mercy of sporadic terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, especially in the northeast of the country", said His Exc. Mgr. Ignatius Ayu Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja.
Recently, local media reported the killing of at least 11 people as a result of violence between the Tungwa and Utsua-Daa communities. The Clergy of Jalingo Diocese issued a collective statement on June 17 calling on all parties in the conflict to "give peace a chance" and save the State from violence.
In the Central African Republic , Bishop Bertrand Guy Richard Appora-Ngalanibé of Bambari diocese said that the armed groups plaguing the landlocked nation have clearly not received the message about the ceasefire. "Sadly, in some areas of the Central African Republic, the armed groups are engaged in strategic battles aimed at extending their supremacy and continuing to pillage the natural resources of the country", he said.
Mgr. Guy Richard, however, expressed optimism in the ongoing interfaith initiatives on COVID-19 sensitization program saying, “With the support of our Protestant and Muslim brethren, gathered under the Interfaith Platform of Religions in Bambari, we are striving to carry out awareness-raising campaigns on this pandemic, since many people still don’t appreciate its extent or its danger".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/LESOTHO - The Church in Lesotho, despite the conditions imposed by Covid-19, its evangelizing mission continues

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 13:46
Maseru - "To date Lesotho has seen just seventeen confirmed cases of COVID-19 making it the lowest country in the Southern African Region. So far, only 2130 persons have been tested in a national population of 2.1 million. At the time of compiling this report no fatalities had been reported", says Fr. Hosea Chale, a priest from the small southern African Country.
A number of challenges have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Country. "In the first place - says Fr. Chale - the geographical location of the country which is completely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa. South Africa has so far recorded the highest number of cases in the continent, about one hundred thousand cases. Many Basotho live and work in South Africa and as a result Lesotho remains at a high risk of infection. The lockdown in March in neighbouring South Africa saw many Basotho return home. Some of these returnees used illegal entry points into the country and as such evaded screening at the official points of entry. Not being tested means that they cannot be tracked should they be positive and this places some risks to the local communities".
"In the intervening period the Lesotho Catholic Church has been active in raising awareness around the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to engage in behaviour that may slow its growth", emphasizes Fr. Chale. "Among the noteworthy activities may be mentioned social distancing, with churches ceasing to conduct public liturgical celebrations since the 29th of March. The faithful have gone without the assistance of the sacraments for a while now nor have we seen any retreats or workshops and other gatherings. This has presented an unprecedented challenge to the Church and society of Lesotho", says Fr. Chale. "As a result of the lockdown and social distancing imposed by the State and welcomed by the church, livelihoods have been disturbed. This has affected the missionary work of the Church which depends on the Church communities themselves. Moreover, the charity work of the Church, so important during this period, is terribly hampered as material resources are not as available as before", explains the priest.
However, Fr Chale says that finally "there are good news on the horizon as it has been announced that Church services will resume on the fifth of July with certain conditions". Among these conditions include a limit to the number of people attending a service at any given time, ensuring the recommended distance between persons in the church building, limiting the service to one hour. Priests have been encouraged to hold as many services as possible. This is as long as the number allows for the recommended social distancing. Other noteworthy activities include the washing of hands with soap and water or an alcohol based sanitizer at the entrance of the Church building and the disinfection of the Church building prior to and after a service. Moreover, all attendees are expected to wear the mask, including the priest, and allowing the reception of Holy Communion only by hand. Finally, in order to assist this process, a register of those present at the Church will always be signed so as to enable contact tracing in the event of someone tests positive to the virus. "The Church in Lesotho, despite the adverse conditions visited upon it by the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to respond to the great mission of Jesus that ‘all may have life and have it to the full ", concludes Fr. Chale.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SUDAN - Covid-19, lockdown extended in Khartoum: the government meets the needs of street sellers

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 13:31
Khartoum - The Sudan Security and Defense Council has further extended a lockdown in the state of Khartoum to June 29, in response to the recommendations of its Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies. The decision was made following statements by the Sudanese Ministry of Health, which reported 280 new coronavirus cases, including 10 deaths bringing the total number of cases in the country to 8,020, and deaths to 487.
Due to this extension, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development has distributed ATM cards to support vulnerable groups and 5,000 cards for medical expenses to support vulnerable families, in particular for every poor working woman affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.
As Fides learns, in an interview with "Radio Dabanga's" Kandaka programme, Awadiya Kuku, head of the Women Food and Beverage Sellers Union, said that "in Khartoum there are about 42,000 women working in this sector and that the Association was originally set up to support the weaker segments of society". She also added that the government has decided to legalize this work. Stalls will be placed at specific points in Khartoum, with all the hygiene rules specifically required.
"This project for all women and men sellers is ready and will be implemented after the lockdown is lifted. All vendors will have well health-equipped stalls at agreed sales points. Sugar, tea, paper cups and other items will be distributed to them in an orderly and organised manner". Kuku thanked Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok for the vehicle he provided to her, and the permission to move through the city during curfew hours, to help her meet the needs of the tea sellers and distribute the cards.
Kuku herself became a roadside tea seller when her family moved to Khartoum in 1979, and has since been involved in promoting economic opportunities for women working in the informal sector. In 1989, she founded the Women's Food and Tea Sellers' Cooperative, and in 2013, she organised the Women's Multi-Purpose Cooperative for Khartoum State. In her role as Chair of those organisations, Mahmoud has organised more than 8,000 women who depend on selling tea and other informal sector work to survive. In 2016, Kuku received the US Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award at the US Embassy in Khartoum in acknowledgement of her work.
A 2016 study by economic expert Dr Hassan Abdelati found that 88.6 per cent of the tea sellers in Khartoum are either displaced or migrants from rural areas.
In the study, Dr Abdelati asserts that the tea sellers' sector is growing because of inflation, war, difficult economic conditions, illiteracy, and poor education standards among the women.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - Aid to the dioceses of Bangladesh thanks to the PMS Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 13:11
Vatican City - Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the diocese of Barishal in Bangladesh, which includes 11 civil districts, has worked to help the population to stop the infection, both through its dispensaries, with the help of doctors who offered services and medicines. The poor are the ones who suffer most from the consequences of isolation: most of the population in fact lives by day jobs. Even small farmers cannot transport their products and sell them for minimal livelihood. Since schools are closed, teachers and school staff have not received wages for months, also putting their families in financial crisis. The diocese is trying to help as many as it can, by providing food aid also to indigenous peoples, who are discriminated against in the distribution of state aid but who in turn need urgent help.
The diocese of Barishal is one of the numerous dioceses in the world to which the Emergency Fund established by Pope Francis at the Pontifical Mission Societies has sent aid to support the churches of mission countries in the face of the Covid-19 emergency .
Always in Bangladesh, in response to requests received from the Bishops, the Fund was also able to help several other ecclesiastical circumscriptions which we mention below. Most of the territories entrusted to the Missionary Dicastery present extremely precarious economic, social and health situations, which the Covid-19 pandemic is further exacerbating, thus hampering the work of evangelization and human promotion.
Bangladesh is fully implementing missionary cooperation among the Churches. In fact, the PMS National Director, Fr. Rodon Hadima, organized the fundraising in the country to contribute to the Covid Fund established by the Pope at the PMS and has already sent two contributions. Therefore, while the dioceses of Bangladesh are asking for help to deal with the situation, at the same time the Catholics in Bangladesh shared what they have and thus contributed to the support of the other Churches in the rest of the world.
The majority of the faithful of the diocese of Rajshahi, in Bangladesh, are made up of tribal Adivasis, illiterate, poor and marginalized. Most work day by day in the land of landowners, and when they do not work, the whole family has no food. With the closure of schools, teachers have also been unemployed for months, as they have no state subsidies. The diocese is trying to alleviate the difficulties of all these families, but also the diocese itself is poor and its financial resources are very limited.
In the diocese of Mymensingh the Covid situation is quite serious, at least a thousand people have been found positive, but the figure is underestimated. The majority of the population is indigenous, almost all of them earn their living with small, occasional jobs that they can no longer work due to confinement. Lack of food for them and their families exposes them to disease and despair.
Even in the diocese of Sylhet people are very poor and simple, they do not understand the seriousness of the situation caused by the virus. The Church is committed to education and health, serving the poor and handicapped, for the respect of their rights. Following isolation, there is a serious lack of food, from which the elderly and children suffer the most, including street children assisted by the Church, who are now truly hungry. A similar situation is recorded in the diocese of Khulna, where most Christians are poor and socially excluded. The Church is engaged in the distribution of food to alleviate the situation of many families who have no other aid.
The Archdiocese of Chattogram extends over a very large territory, where most of the population is poor. The severe lack of priests and pastoral workers has always been an obstacle to evangelization. Missionaries manage to visit communities not more than once a year. Faith is nourished and kept alive thanks to the work of the catechists and the animators of prayer, who are prepared to animate catechism meetings, follow the catechumens and guide the spiritual moments, managing to frequently visit the communities. Financial support is particularly necessary for them right now so that they can purchase sanitary protection material from Covid-19.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Covid-19: Filipino churches support and assist 4,5 million families

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 12:17
Manila - Christian Churches in the Philippines, and among them the Catholic Church, have supported and helped 4.5 million families with basic necessities and other forms of support, since March 15, when all activities were "blocked" to stem the spread of the coronavirus. As Fides learns from the "Forum of Philippine faith-based organizations" , an ecumenical network spread in Christian dioceses and churches, Churches and organizations linked to them have so far distributed financial assistance and basic necessities to people for a total of 30 million dollars, according to data collected until June 18. The three major Councils - the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines , the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches - formed the Forum as a mutual cooperation body.
"Faith-based groups in various churches have always been close to the poorest. During this pandemic, churches have combined efforts and resources to help those in need", said to Fides Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Filipino Catholic Bishops. "The health crisis caused by the Covid-19 outbreak challenges all Christians and churches to find ways to act and make a contribution to dealing with humanitarian crises", he said.
Ecclesial authorities are encouraging people to get involved in volunteering, various aid programs and also to explore ways to raise funds between people and communities. Protestant Bishop Noel Pantoja, at the head of the relief and development services of that Church, said: "All the Christian communities in the country have a responsibility to respond to people's real needs, despite the lockdown. In these difficult times, the missionary work of the Churches must continue with sacrifice and commitment".
Minnie Anne Mata-Calub of the NCCP recalled that "non-governmental organizations, Christian groups and other humanitarian associations linked to the Christian world have always helped people. Sometimes, the government does not recognize their contribution, but this contribution is clear to all who have benefited from it. In this crisis it is necessary that Churches and the government work side by side for the common good".
"In this situation, all resources must be used with care and intelligence", said Jing Rey Henderson, head of communications of Caritas Philippines, noting that this is the goal of close collaboration among Churches of different denominations. "In times of crisis, vulnerable people, in particular communities affected by the disaster and affected by poverty, must be able to receive the necessary support for daily livelihood, to overcome the difficult moment, to rise again and return to hope".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Pancasila must not become ordinary state law: the reservations of civil society

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 11:58
Yoyakarta - "I think that any effort to strengthen Pancasila and to promote the ideology of the State must be supported. But, in light of the current public reactions from parts of society, I fear that any transformation of the current proposal into law would cause friction within Indonesia. External inputs and repercussions must be considered before further elaboration or possible promulgation of the law". This is how Jesuit Father Baskara T. Waraya, professor of history at Sanata Dharma University, Catholic university of Yogyakarta, comments to Agenzia Fides the legislative project that in recent days has been at the center of a lively debate, raised by a bill that aims to regulate the values of the Pancasila ideology and the functions of the Control Agency , chaired by former president Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Now Pancasila, the "charter of five principles" at the base of the nation , should be subject to a reform which, in transforming it into State law, aims to strengthen it. Some sectors of the Muslim world have contested it, arguing that the bill flattens the role of religion and that the absence of the famous 1966 decree - which banned the Communist Party - would be "an open door to communism". Proponents instead say that the law would put small extremist groups - right or left, religious or secular - in difficulty, which oppose the development of democracy in Indonesia. At the same time, human rights protection organizations have also expressed reservations: they fear a tightening on freedom of expression. In the end, the debate in Parliament fell through and for the time being the project has been frozen. "I believe - comments Fr. Baskara - that there was no adequate study and discussion in Parliament on the project, nor sufficient public debate, except perhaps in some circles, and perhaps also because of the coronavirus. Precisely because of the pandemic, the moment was not carefully chosen because both the government and the people are now concerned above all about the economic and social impact of the virus".
Pancasila, the "charter of five principles", the philosophical and ideological basis of Indonesia, was celebrated all over the country on June 1st by all political and religious realities. At Sanata Dharma, the only Jesuit university among Catholic universities, an artistic performance, which lasted over an hour and a half was filmed and posted on Youtube where it had over 53 thousand views. It is one of the many signs that the Indonesian Catholic world gave in the historical anniversary of the birth of Pancasila in 1945: Father Gregorius Subanar, another Jesuit who teaches "Culture and Religion", recalls that Sanata Dharma, "born in 1955 - ten years after independence - was visited by Sukarno, the creator of Pancasila, in 1961, on the eve of the Second Vatican Council".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/JORDAN - The American University of Madaba donates 25 thousand euros to the fund set up by the Jordanian government for the Covid-19 emergency

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 11:26
Madaba - The American University of Madaba , AUM has donated 20,000 Jordanian Dinars to the fund set up by the Government of Jordan to deal with the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences on the whole national territory. Professor Nabil Ayoub, President of the University, in some considerations disseminated by the national media, underlined that the entire university community intends to contribute with this initiative to the health and social effects of the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The fund had been set up in March by Jordanian Prime Minister, Omar Al-Razzaz, to collect donations on the national territory and all over the world and to finance initiatives implemented by the government to contain the negative effects of the pandemic on the health and social fabric of Jordan.
The American University of Madaba is a university affiliated to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, whose foundation stone had been blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on 9 May 2009, and which had been inaugurated on May 30, 2013 in the presence of King Abdallah II. At the end of 2014, the Holy See had to intervene to deal with administrative and financial problems that had marked the construction and launch of the academic institution. An ad hoc commission, established by the Secretariat of State, had in turn entrusted to a local administration committee, chaired by Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, at that time Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan, the task of "following and coordinating closely, up to July 2015, the work of the University".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - "House arrest and quarantine elsewhere": Archbishop Juarez's request for detainees in the face of Covid-19

Fides EN - - jeu, 25/06/2020 - 11:12
Sucre - "I want to express my deep concern about the events that are happening due to the coronavirus and how the number of people affected, suspected and infected is growing, especially in the San Roque penitentiary": this is how the letter by Mgr. Jesús Juárez, Archbishop emeritus of Sucre begins, asking for urgent measures to be taken against all those at risk, and to improve assistance to those deprived of their freedom.
"I ask that detainees awaiting trial for minor crimes be given substitute measures, such as house arrest. Similarly, an urgent measure must be taken towards all those suspected of having the virus and for those who have been tested positive for Covid-19 and do not require hospitalization. They should be brought to another location to be properly treated and put under quarantine", continues the letter sent to Fides.
Mgr. Jesús Juárez concludes with a thank you: "I support the efforts made to assign a doctor 24 hours a day and provide medicines. The psychological support that those deprived of their freedom need is essential".
Bolivia, despite quarantine and government measures, has experienced several outbreaks of Covid-19, according to data from the local press. The Church, which has always assisted prisoners with organized penitentiary pastoral care, has been blocked in efforts to be able to do something for this sector of the population.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - Resignation of the Bishop of Lashio and successor

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 12:48
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Lashio , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Philip Lasap Za Hawng. He is succeeded by His Exc. Mgr. Lucas Jeimphaung Dau Ze, S.D.B., currently Coadjutor Bishop of the same Diocese.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - Covid-19, Phase 2: registration of the faithful online to participate in Masses

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 12:41
Singapore - The Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore has been working very closely with government authorities throughout this COVID-19 situation. "After the announcement of Phase 2 of the reopening of the country, we understand the buildup of excitement from our fellow Catholics who yearn to once again receive the Sacraments", said a note from the Archdiocese of Singapore, sent to Agenzia Fides. The Archdiocese is coordinating with the authorities in preparing the churches on the ground for the gradual resumption of Masses and other religious activities. The churches will progressively open throughout July on a small scale and following strict guidelines. Those who intend to attend mass or do other activities will have to register online in advance and only a limited number of faithful will be allowed access, respecting the distance. The decision was made by Archbishop William Goh and his advisors, knowing that many Catholics move from one church to another and this church ‘hopping’ presents a risk of spreading COVID-19 across multiple churches.
To this end, the Archdiocese has developed a special "Mass Attendance Registration System", within a new portal,, that presents the entire life of the Church and is also available as an App on the mobile phone. The system aims to ensure that the Catholic Church of Singapore keeps families and communities safe. "We are all waiting for the resumption of masses with the government protocol, but we must be patient in facing this difficult season together", Maria Goretti Lim, a Catholic from Singapore told Fides.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MALI - Cardinal Zerbo: Catholic sentinels and mediators among violence and conflict

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 12:22
Bamako - "In the midst of this difficult situation, we religious are sentinels and act as mediators to encourage dialogue and a return to calm". In the chaos in Mali, overwhelmed by post-election political tensions, outbreaks of conflict in various areas and long-standing issue of jihadism that continues to be very active throughout the Sahel, the voice of the Cardinal of Bamako, Mgr. Zerbo, in the interview with Agenzia Fides, stands out for clarity and determination. The elections of 29 March left a Country in a state of strong political instability from which it is difficult to get out: the leader of the opposition, Soumaïla Cissè, was kidnapped two days before and is still in the hands of the kidnappers, while the population, very suspicious as well as dissatisfied with the policies of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in office since 2013, is calling for his resignation with mass demonstrations.
Cardinal Zerbo explains to Fides: "The political situation is quite serious. The problem at the moment is figuring out whether to hold new elections or leave everything as it is and try to find an agreement. I think it is essential to do everything to make the two groups talk, they must dialogue with each other and prevent further unrest. We have set up a group of religious, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders in order to put pressure on the government and create conditions for dialogue. We meet regularly and try to speak directly with the protagonists. I believe that the religious have two main tasks. On the one hand, as Ezekiel says, to behave like sentinels, not spies: when there is a threat we must warn and try to solve the problem before it explodes, it is a very big responsibility and if there are so many problems it means that the sentinels did not carry out their job well. Then we must be intercessors and when there is hostility between two groups, families or people, we have to mediate in truth. It is also essential to always keep prayer alive for the Country and for the protagonists so that God converts the heart. Now, it can be said, that the heart of many is of stone, it is up to us to make it flesh. Religions here seek a common line to promote peace".
UNHCR raises the alarm in the whole of Sahel for the resurgence of armed clashes and the consequent wave of exoduses of tens of thousands of civilians. In the Mopti area, in the center of the Country, further clashes have occurred recently with the death of many people. The killing, announced by France, of Abdelmalek Droukdal, historical leader of the terrorists in action in the area, will hopefully ease the pounding advance of the jihadist groups, but the tension, on various fronts, remains very high.
The Cardinal notes: "A real conflict is taking place in our Country. It would be important to understand what interests are behind it, because people, beyond more or less serious disputes, have always tried to live together peacefully and solve problems in a traditional way, without resorting to weapons. Now, however, weapons have invaded Mali. There is a lot of confusion and it is not clear what kind of war is going on. Our intention is to talk to the parties in conflict, my fellow citizens have lived together for centuries, we cannot accept that they are now at war. With repeated meetings we try to encourage dialogue".
The number of refugees has doubled since 2018. To date, 210,000 internally displaced persons, and already 73,000 Malians forced to flee from January to the end of May this year. "The population runs away from conflict because, in addition to the danger of weapons, markets are empty and there is difficulty to move. The Church is active through Caritas, we are a minority and we do not have much, but we share what we have. We also asked Caritas Internationalis to come to our rescue", concludes Cardinal Zerbo.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Rape is repulsive, reprehensible and dehumanizing" says Mgr. Kaigama in the face of the increase in sexual crimes

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 11:46
Abuja - "The increasing cases of the heinous crime of rape are frightening. The rape culture is as repulsive and reprehensible as it is dehumanizing", Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama of Abuja said Sunday, June 21. "Rape inflicts life-long untold psychological trauma on the victims. Rape is not only a grievously sinful act, but also a very barbaric and criminal act". "We hope that the perpetrators of such heinous crimes will face the full wrath of the law and hopefully, they will be reformed and delivered of the bad spirit that leads them to commit such horrible sexual crimes", he added.
"The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful", said Mgr. Kaigama who called on Nigerians, especially "Christians to help restore our sick world that has lost the sense of sin".
Rape cases against women in Africa’s most populous country have been on the increase in recent weeks, leading to a number of Nigerian protesters taking to the streets and using social media under #WeAreTired to demand for urgent action and justice for victims.
Between May 28 and June 1, two college students, Uwaila Vera Omozuwa and Barakat Bello were raped and killed in separate incidents.
"The rape and deaths of these girls are not random incidents, but are the culmination of unhealthy cultural practices", the Women Against Rape group in Nigeria said in a petition presented to parliament.
Many Nigerians criticize the judicial system which, according to them, makes it difficult to convict men accused of rape and instead overturns infamous accusations about the victims of sexual violence. In In Nigeria, some victims and their families, fear stigma, extortion by the police and lack of trust in the judicial process, and therefore choose not to report cases to the authorities.
In 2019 in the federal capital Abuja, some women who were arrested during a police raid, accused officers of raping them. Data on the number of reported cases are very limited, but a national survey on violence against children in Nigeria, conducted in 2014, found that one in four women experienced sexual violence in childhood.
Governors in the 36 states of Nigeria have also declared a state of emergency over rape and other gender-based violence against women and children in the West African country.
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - New evangelization: "Kerygma Program" presented

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 11:11
Port Moresby - "We must strengthen our Catholic faith and prepare lay people, priests and religious to be new evangelizers", said Father Victor Roche svd, Secretary of the Commission for New Evangelization, at a meeting held on 22nd June at the St. Josephs parish of Boroko, on the "new evangelization", presenting the "Kerygma Program", a path that intends to involve dioceses, parishes, associations, local communities, in a renewed announcement of the Word of God.
In his intervention sent to Agenzia Fides, Fr. Victor, who is also the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, focused in particular on the definition of "new evangelization". The Secretary General underlined the need for renewed ardor, new methods and expressions that can feed the new evangelization. "We can ask ourselves: what can we do to make a difference", said Fr. Victor after presenting the "Kerygma Program, coordinated plan for the "new evangelization", which will be examined and discussed during the annual General Assembly of Bishops, for approval, before it is shared with the dioceses.
Among the participants, over a hundred people, included: Mgr. Otto Separy, bishop of Bereina and of the Commission for evangelization, and his deputy, Mgr. Rolando Santos, bishop of Alotau-Sideia, who together with the laity, members of the Association of Catholic Professionals, seminarians and parishioners of St. Josephs addressed issues on the pastoral aspects and perspectives of the Catholic Church, the challenges and possible paths.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Municipal elections: "Good politics is at the service of life and peace"

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 10:53
Brasilia - In this year 2020, if there are no changes in the electoral calendar, elections will be held to choose mayors and councilors in the 5570 Brazilian municipalities. South Region 2 of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has prepared a booklet with some guidelines for Catholics. The booklet is intended for voters and candidates, reflection groups, parishes and communities. With the title "Christians and elections", the booklet has as its theme "Good politics is at the service of life and peace".
"The purpose of the booklet is to contribute to the formation of a healthy political conscience, to motivate to participate in the political process and to provide criteria in terms of guiding in municipal elections", informs the Southern Region 2 of the CNBB. The booklet was prepared by a group of experts in the areas of constitutional law, electoral law, philosophy, sociology, history and culture, faith and politics.
Divided into three parts, the booklet deals with current issues such as the culture of polarization, fake news, changes in electoral legislation. It has an easy language with basic indications on the universe of politics, from a Catholic Church point of view, which does not identify with any ideology or political party.
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AMERICA/MEXICO - Bishops appeal to authorities for the violation of human rights in the community of San Mateo del Mar

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 10:45
Tehuantepec - "With deep concern" Mgr. Crispín Ojeda Martínez, Bishop of the diocese of Tehuantepéc, and Mgr. Arturo Lona Reyes, Bishop Emeritus and President of the Human Rights Center "Tepeyac" AC, addressed the President of Mexico , the Governor of the state of Oaxaca and the Government Minister, asking for their intervention for events that "deeply damage an indigenous community". The ancestral and current abandonment by the various levels of government "has resulted in a serious violation of their human rights: the right to life, integrity and personal security, development, full access to economic, social and cultural rights, to the right to peace".
In their letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops recall that the right to peace of the Ikots indigenous community of San Mateo del Mar has been violated. On May 3, the municipal agent of the Huaztlán del Río municipal agency was killed and it is not known whether justice has been sought. An assembly was called on June 21 in the community of Huaztlán del Río, but an attack by an armed group followed, followed by acts of violence, which caused deaths and injuries.
"As defenders of human rights - the two Bishops write -, we are concerned about the violence that exists in the indigenous community of San Mateo del Mar, but above all about the fact that there may be actors outside the community who encourage violence among brothers. We are concerned that even when we know that the problem that the brothers in San Mateo del Mar are experiencing is at high risk for life, security and peace, the interventions of federal and state governments do not prevent the violence that resulted in death, injury and personal injury".
The Bishops then submit a series of requests to the major authorities of the Mexican state: to guarantee the support and assistance measures established by law to the relatives of the dead. Psychological and medical assistance to orphaned children and adolescents. Medical assistance for the injured in specialized centers. Women who are victims of violence are treated in accordance with the provisions of the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. To carry out appropriate criminal and administrative investigations, so that the events that have occurred do not go unpunished. Finally, they ask that "a process of peace and reconciliation begins which guarantees the internal pacification of the community, as well as of neighboring populations".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Mission of the Brothers of the Holy Cross in the field of education: a contribution to the common good

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 10:31
Dhaka - In Bangladesh, the Brothers of the Holy Cross manage some of the best educational institutes and are very popular among people of non-Christian faith. The population has the utmost respect for their schools: it is one of the main fruits of the mission of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, present in the area of the Gulf of Bengal since 1953, well before the independence of Bangladesh. The religious celebrate the 200th anniversary of the foundation of their institute in 2020 and there will also be celebrations in the country of South Asia: "We are respected by people of all religious faiths for our commitment in the field of education. We preach the Good News with our work, which contributes to the common good", says Br. Subal Lawrence Rozario, 48-year-old Provincial of the Congregation of the Brothers of the Holy Cross in Bangladesh, to Agenzia Fides.
The Provincial reports the mission carried out in the country: "We are promoters of a work of dialogue with society. We have over 25,000 students in 25 schools. Priests can simply give a sermon in church, but most of our students are non-Christians, therefore we can talk to them. We can reach them and weave a relationship with them like a living Bible".
Education is the main pastoral activity. Priority is given to strengthening human virtues in the educational path. "We provide education to children from marginalized communities in remote areas. In addition to academic education, we teach students the values, discipline, dignity and all those values that make an honest, mature, virtuous, complete person. Therefore our approach is highly appreciated here", says Br. Subal.
The Provincial mentions Brother Andre Bessette, Canadian religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross proclaimed a saint by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. "God chose him and called him. He carried out his humble job as a caretaker in the college of Notre-Dame in Montréal. In the eyes of God, we are all precious. In the Church, the Brothers carry out many small works, even in silence, in hiding and in humility. Br. André is an example for all of us, because we live holiness in everyday life".
The celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Congregation, despite the Covid-19 emergency, aim to celebrate and make the congregation more known: "We plan to visit several parishes and share the life of religious brothers so that people can get to know us better and know more about us".
The work of the Brothers of the Holy Cross in Bangladesh has generated an adequate number of vocations to religious life and today in Bangladesh there are 109 Brothers: "In the past - continues Br. Rozario - we had many foreign Brothers, who came here as missionaries. But now we have, thank God, several young Bangladeshis who choose the religious vocation in our congregation. We are sending Brothers abroad as missionaries. Currently two brothers are studying in Canada and, after they finish their studies, they will undertake the missionary adventure", he concludes.
The Congregation of the Holy Cross derives from the union of two distinct institutes in France: the Brothers of Saint Joseph of Ruillé-sur-Loir, founded in 1820 by Jacques-Francois Dujarié for primary education; and the auxiliaries of the diocesan clergy, founded in 1835 by Basile Moreau for the preaching of popular missions in the rural parishes of the diocese of Le Mans and higher education.
Today the Congregation is active and present in Europe , in the Americas , in Africa and in Asia
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Archbishop Vargas: "A policy of indecision generates a debt with many wounds and painful consequences, not only for the indigenous world"

Fides EN - - mer, 24/06/2020 - 10:11
Temuco - Mgr. Héctor Vargas Bastidas, Bishop of Temuco and President of the Indigenous Pastoral Care of the Chilean Episcopal Conference , in an interview published in the Diario Austral of the city of Temuco on Sunday 21 June, refers to the announcements and promises made to the indigenous world without carrying them out, in preparation for the celebration of the National Day of Indigenous Peoples, on June 24th.
In 2015, President Michelle Bachelet asked Mgr. Vargas about the difficult task of leading the commission for Araucania, an indigenous territory in the Latin American country. The Commission had managed to come up with a very concrete plan involving the Mapuche world in the political, religious, economic and social fields. In this interview, Mgr. Vargas recalls that precisely in proximity of the deadline to define an agreement between the government and indigenous peoples, there are still some unfinished points.
"It seems to me that throughout history the relationship with these peoples has not been able to meet the needs of this enormous challenge. A hesitant path is perhaps the result of a policy of indecision, which generates a debt with many wounds and painful consequences, not only for the indigenous world", said Mgr. Vargas.
"It is noteworthy that Presidents Bachelet and Piñera have publicly asked these peoples for forgiveness on behalf of the State. However, there has been little real progress on substantive issues, rather than specific measures, which create confusion because the promises the State has made often remain without significant effects", denounces the Bishop of Temuco.
The Prelate concludes with an attitude of hope: "Particular progress is needed in the real political will, to define solutions and honor commitments".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Wave of refugees in the northern province, caused by violence and destruction

Fides EN - - mar, 23/06/2020 - 13:09
Nampula - "People are terrified and run away from villages. There are now only two thousand in Namialo, more than 300 here in Nampula. They flee the violence and destruction that has been shaking the northern province of Cabo Delgado for several months. The situation is delicate". This is how Arlain Pierre, a Scalabrinian missionary in Nampula, describes the delicate political, military and social situation of Northern Mozambique to Fides.
"No one knows who the perpetrators of these attacks are", continues Father Arlain. They have proclaimed themselves Jihadist militiamen belonging to the Islamic State. Some analysts have said they are a pawn in a struggle for control of the oil wells that the region is rich in. Hard to say what the truth is. The thesis according to which they are militiamen and linked to drug trafficking has currently spread. Thesis that could come close to reality because the North of Mozambique could become a strategic area for the traffic of drugs from Central Asia".
Faced with the first attacks, the State reacted mildly. The military and policemen responded as best they could, but were often overwhelmed. "Now - continues the missionary - President Filipe Nyusi has recognized the emergency and has sent some military reinforcement departments. There has been talk of the presence of Russian mercenaries and South African soldiers, personally I have not seen foreign soldiers passing through our territory. But I do not feel like ruling out that there are foreign fighters. The same president asked for help from neighboring countries speaking of this threat as a common danger".
Refugees arrive in the province of Nampula in difficult conditions. Many escaped the violence and fled home with what little they could take away. They therefore lack everything. "The community of Nampula - observed Father Arlain - has mobilized. 300 people were welcomed in the parish of the Holy Cross, run by the Comboni Missionaries. Others were hosted by families who live in the city, but are originally from Cabo Delgado. Internally displaced people really need everything. Even medical assistance because they have suffered serious psychological trauma".
Even in the population of Nampula there is fear. "This area - concludes the Scalabrinian - was one of the centers of the very long civil war that fought in Mozambique in the 1980s and early 1990s. The memory of the fighting and privations is still alive. So there is a fear that the new violence will also come here and involve the local population. Nobody wants to sink into a new conflict".
Catégories: From the church