AMERICA/BRAZIL - Appeal by Alianza Interreligiosa: Responsibility and solidarity in the face of the pandemic

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 28/03/2020 - 12:54
Sao Paulo - "We ask all the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, as some are already doing very effectively, to adopt responsibly and decisively the necessary measures to protect the lives of all people, mainly of the most vulnerable people, and make the maximum effort to combat this global public health pandemic". This is the appeal launched by the "Alianza Interreligiosa por la Agenda 2030", which is part of the Latin American Episcopal Council,released by Prensa Celam.
The text recognizes "the remarkable gestures of solidarity among the governments of the region" and encourages them "to strengthen regional organizations in order to face the challenges of this pandemic in the best and decisive way", hoping "that the scientific community will soon find the necessary medicines against the virus". They therefore call for strengthening the multilateral efforts of the United Nations "to face this crisis with global solidarity, overcoming the temptation of nationalist isolations".
The Alianza Interreligiosa por la Agenda 2030 was born in 2014 with the aim of coordinating the commitment of communities and religious organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, to address issues such as justice, peace, the integrity of creation, discrimination, exclusion, poverty, in view of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals indicated by the United Nations.
In its message, sent to Fides, Alianza recognizes the considerable efforts of the medical and paramedical staff, of the police, of volunteers and solidarity organizations "who take care in particular of the very vulnerable populations, like families in extreme poverty, the elderly, indigenous people and migrants". They therefore ask "the governments of the region to guarantee the food and economic security of these populations, to preserve social rights, especially labor rights", so that the economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, does not have further serious repercussions on people in conditions of extreme poverty.
"There is no doubt that this is the moment when we must put our values of responsibility, brotherhood and solidarity into practice", they write in the final part, and in the same sense we must prepare to respond to possible scenarios after the pandemic, to ensure the livelihood of the most vulnerable, and certainly poorest, populations due to the containment measures of the virus.
The statement ends by inviting to promote a day of common prayer, in the various communities of faith, to ask Almighty God to put an end to this evil, and strengthen us "in our commitment to continue to face the fight against this pandemic with solidarity and commitment".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Comboni Missionaries: "We must strengthen an atmosphere of democracy and peace"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 28/03/2020 - 12:47
Awasa - "Ethiopia is making great strides, but still experiencing severe economic and social difficulties". This was reported to Agenzia Fides by Father Pedro Pablo Hernandez, a Comboni missionary of Mexican origin who has been working in the Apostolic Vicariate of Awasa for twenty years. In the past two years, with regards to the political field, the African nation has made a great turning point thanks to the election of Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed in 2018. "The Prime Minister - explains Father Pedro - was greeted with enthusiasm by the population for his kind and open way of establishing relationships. It was not easy for him to bring forth his plans, both for the great objective difficulties and for the strong internal opposition, but the situation has significantly improved, especially in the field of human rights, freedom of press and the democratic system. The Country is slowly recovering its own identity", observes the religious.
Despite the progress made, difficulties persist. "Today there is still an atmosphere of uncertainty and social instability", explains Fr. Hernandez. Moreover, over time, tensions of an ethnic nature have increased due to frictions between the various religious communities. "As a Catholic Church - notes the Comboni priest - we try to carry out an interreligious dialogue with other confessions to try to build true and lasting peace". In this area, the Comboni missionaries have been present for 35 years in the mountains of southeastern Ethiopia, among the Guyi, a group belonging to the Oromo ethnic group, the most numerous race in southeastern Ethiopia. "Here we find the small mission of Killenso - reports the missionary - from here two other missions were born, Soddu Abala and Haroo Waato, which are constantly growing".
In 2008, the religious community of Killenso, in line with the Institute's guidelines, decided to promote pastoral care in Adoola, the most important city in the region, 35 kilometers from the mission, where the Catholic Church was almost non-existent. "The invitation from families from different places around the city to open new pastoral centers and the inadequate living conditions of most of the students - reports Father Pedro - led us to carry out the following projects: obtain land at the center of the city, create a training program for new catechists for the construction of new communities and build a public library".
In fact, the result of this pastoral work is the presence of 16 new Christian communities in the area. The construction of a church in 2016 is the material expression of the formation work. As for the field of education, a library has been opened which has over 4,000 books and can accommodate up to 120 students.
Even in the economic field, difficulties continue. Drought and inflation plague the Country. Food shortage is very serious and although encouraging signs of development can be seen, the gap between rich and poor continues to increase, especially in rural areas: about 30% of Ethiopians live in conditions of extreme poverty. "In the whole Vicariate - reports the Comboni Missionary - there are shortages of schools, hospitals, clinics. The population still depends on humanitarian aid. Catholic secretariats of all dioceses do commendable work to meet the needs of the population". Parliamentary elections will take place in Ethiopia in August 2020: "We must rebuild and strengthen a climate of democracy and peace - concludes Fr. Hernandez - working alongside and with people, so that they become more and more protagonist of their future".
According to the most recent national census, Christians in Ethiopia represent 62.8% of the total population, with the largest group of them among the Ethiopian Orthodox , followed by Protestants and Catholics with just 0.7%. The remaining 33.9% are Muslim.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Fr. Pedro Hernandez on Agenzia Fides Youtube website
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Resignation of the Archbishop of Merauke

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 28/03/2020 - 12:32
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Merauke, Indonesia, presented by Archbishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra, M.S.C.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/RWANDA - Covid-19: situation under control, but the problem of water scarcity remains

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 28/03/2020 - 12:29
Kigali - "In just over a week, until yesterday evening, we have reached 40 infections due to COVID 19 in Rwanda", says to Agenzia Fides Omar Fiordalisio, representative of The Movement for the Fight against Hunger in the World in Rwanda. "The main problem here is washing your hands, often we do not have water especially in rural areas in the Country, where fortunately, however, the virus has not yet arrived, but also in Kigali".
"In the capital - continues Omar - there are infections, because of people who come from outside. We are in contact with the government so that NGOs follow the given guidelines. You cannot travel from district to district, you work from home, hospitals are active and with a task force ready to intervene in case of need. Specifically, the Movement had to stop the construction of the aqueduct".
"The aqueducts - he continues - bring clean water to many families and in these days one can see how important water is for our personal hygiene, so as not to contract diseases. For the moment everything seems quite under control. Everybody is at home, construction sites and many companies have closed, there is a lot of control on the streets. If the situation worsens it would be a catastrophe due to the precariousness of the local health systems". MLFM is an NGO born in Lodi, one of the places most affected by the virus in Italy, engaged for over 30 years in Rwanda in the construction of aqueducts.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA - Boko Haram hits hard in Nigeria, Chad and threatens northern Cameroon

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 28/03/2020 - 12:28
Abuja - In the midst of a coronavirus emergency that has also reached western Africa, the Countries of the region are confronted by the upsurge of Boko Haram which in a series of attacks between Nigeria and Chad has killed at least 150 soldiers in the last few days.
The most serious attack dates back to March 24 when at least 92 Chadian soldiers were killed in the most deadly attack to date ever carried out by Boko Haram terrorists, Boma peninsula in the Lac province, which borders Niger and Nigeria.
The assault lasted at least seven hours and the reinforcements sent to help were also hit. According to reports, 24 army vehicles were destroyed, including armored vehicles and Boko Haram's men took away the weapons stolen by the military.
The previous day, March 23, the jihadists had killed at least 50 Nigerian soldiers in an ambush near the village of Goneri in northern Yobe state.
Even in northern Cameroon on the border with Nigeria in recent months, hundreds of families have been forced to flee their homes due to the renewed violence of Boko Haram. Hidoua, Gochi, Mandaka, Tourou, Kolofata ... the list of places attacked since December 2019 continues to grow. On almost every occasion, fires, looting, kidnappings and murders by jihadists have been reported.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MALI - Appointment of the Bishop of Mopti

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 13:19
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed His Exc. Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Tiama, currently Bishop of Sikasso, as Bishop of the Diocese of Mopti .
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Cardinal D'Rozario: "Let us collaborate with the government to overcome the coronavirus pandemic"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 13:16
Dhaka - Being faithful collaborators of the government to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. This is what Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka has asked the faithful, who in a video message sent to Fides said: "Beloved faithful, we are facing outbreaks of coronavirus. Let us stay home and think about others. We are going through a difficult time. In this situation, a question may arise: why this coronavirus pandemic?".
The Cardinal, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh , says: "We are not just human beings. We believe in Christ. So, in the most difficult times, we try to be children of God. The government is giving us guidelines in this difficult coronavirus situation. I humbly ask all the faithful: let us follow the guidelines that the government and the Church give us".
The CBCB published a notice in the Catholic weekly "Pratibeshi", reiterating the necessary precautions and informing that Holy Week liturgies could take place online this year. Some parishes have already started offering mass on Facebook live. Priests celebrate in church, since the government has ordered not to gather in public.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a speech to the nation that the government was ready to face any "difficult situation" in view of the global coronavirus pandemic and asked all citizens to help control the coronavirus, following the guidelines given. Hasina reiterated the invitation to "stay home" and addressing every Bengali said: "Mindfulness and personal responsibility will protect you, your family and the people". Preventing the spread of the infection is now the "top priority", he explained
In Bangladesh, five people have died and 44 people have been infected. The government has urged the population to stay home until April 4th.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - The 4 activists of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient kidnapped in Baghdad on 20 January released

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 12:44
Baghdad - French authorities on Thursday 26 March said four aid workers of French Christian non-governmental organization SOS Chrétiens d’Orient were released. The four were missing since January 20. The President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron - as we read in the text disclosed by the Elysée - «welcomes the release of our three nationals Antoine Brochon, Julien Dittmar, Alexandre Goodarzy and Iraqi Tariq Mattoka, all employees of the NGO SOS Chrétiens d 'Orient'. In the official statement, it is stressed that "the French authorities did everything in their power to get the four released and expressed its thanks to the Iraqi authorities for their help in this matter.
The SOS Chrétiens d'Orient Association, at the announcement of the release, also thanked the French and Iraqi authorities, and expressed its congratulations and thanks through its official channels, also "for the incredible movement of prayers and solidarity" following the news of the kidnapping.
The official statements issued by the Elysée and by the Association itself do not currently add details regarding the authors and the methods of the kidnapping, nor do they even report details about how the release took place.
The four militants of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient, as previously reported by Fides , disappeared on January 20. They were in Baghdad to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities. For security reasons and to protect the men’s safety, their names had not been made public. In a press release issued on social networks on Friday 24 January, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient reported that it had lost contact with its four employees since the previous Tuesday, and that it had reported the disappearance of the four to French and Iraqi authorities. The French NGO stressed that the four missing employees were experienced people and had always carried out their initiatives in full compliance with safety standards continuously updated to respond to new emerging pitfalls in that region.
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient has its headquarters in Paris, and presents itself as an organization dedicated to supporting the Christian communities of the East, also through the financing of social and educational projects. Currently, the organization is present with "permanent missions" operating in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. The founders of the association, formed in 2013, are Charles de Meyer and Benjamin Blanchard, former collaborator of the Front National Marie-Christine Arnautu MEP. The director of the Organization's initiatives, François-Xavier Gicquel, was also an old Front National militant. According to data reported in 2019 by Le Figaro étudiant, since the beginning of its activities the Association has sent about 1500 employees and volunteers to carry out their projects in the Middle East. In February 2017, the organization was recognized as a "national defense partner" by the French Ministry of Defense.
France had announced the withdrawal of its soldiers from Iraq on Wednesday 25 March, where several hundred French soldiers were participating in the training of Iraqi security forces, as part of the operations carried out by the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition. French authorities had motivated the withdrawal of French soldiers from Iraq with the need to concentrate resources and energies on the front of the emergency represented by the coronavirus pandemic.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - Covid-19: "What will happen will be catastrophic", testimony of a missionary

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 12:15
Port au Prince - "It is enough to see what is happening on the street, what will happen will be catastrophic, since the population lives its day-to-day life and does not have the essential tools to deal with this virus"; these are the words of Redemptorist missionary Father Renold Antoine CSsR, regional Superior who lives in Haiti, in his letter sent to Fides.
"The evil that nobody wanted has arrived in the country . The state has already confirmed 8 positive people. Since March 19 the President has declared a state of health emergency across the country. At the same time, some decisions have been made to stop the spread of the virus, one of which is to close churches until further notice. The priests celebrate without faithful and we broadcast live through social networks", continues Father Renold, describing the reality of the country in the face of the first contagions of coronavirus. "Unfortunately this is only the beginning of something that, as we see in all countries, is involving the whole population and unfortunately there are many deaths. It is enough to see how the life of the population unfolds on the street, every day. There is no clean water nowhere to wash your hands as required, there is no electricity in the houses and there are not even hospitals. Many people live on the streets. As Redemptorists we offer our help not only spiritual, but also materially, by placing water tanks in some spaces so that people can at least wash their hands. We also share food with the poorest", continues Father Renold.
In the end he asks for a prayer for the missionaries and for the little ones: "May the Lord have mercy on the Country and its people because we do not have a health infrastructure to face a similar crisis!"
Haiti, the among the poorest countries in America, tackles the health emergency of coronavirus with very few resources. In fact, Haiti lives in a "permanent" health emergency, because there is no de facto national health system. The real health centers are the clinics of NGOs and the Church.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Fight against coronavirus: follow government guidelines "for the good of all"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 11:55
Lomè - The Togolese government has closed schools, cities, borders and airports as preventive measures for the spread of Covid-19. The first case was confirmed at the beginning of March 2020. The response of the Bishops of the Country was immediate, giving precise indications to all the faithful. In a message sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops invite the entire population "to scrupulously follow the guidelines of the health authorities and the measures that will be taken to prevent and combat the Coronavirus" and appeal "to everyone's sense of responsibility and civilization for the good of all".
Catholic schools and universities, in compliance with government recommendations, have suspended all activities and closed their doors. Seminaries are closed until further notice. All masses are suspended while the first indications for Holy Week are: the Chrism Mass will be broadcast live on radio by the Catholic broadcaster in each diocese, and a delegation of 40 priests from the diaconates will concelebrate with the Bishop. The practice of giving the sacraments is temporarily suspended, except for the sacrament of confession in which the distance of one meter between the penitent and the priest will be respected. The Way of the Cross on Fridays of Lent takes place in families or in small groups of Christians, respecting the government's recommendations.

Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Mgr. Angelo Moreschi, Apostolic Vicar of Gambella has died due to Covid-19: a life for the mission in Africa

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 11:50
Brescia - The Apostolic Vicar of Gambella , Mgr. Angelo Moreschi, SDB, died in the night between 24 and 25 March, in Brescia , due to the coronavirus infection. He was a guest at the Salesian institute of Nave, his hometown, due to health problems that had forced him to leave his beloved African missions, to which he always hoped to be able to return. Unfortunately, the situation worsened in recent days due to the coronavirus, and his hospitalization was necessary, where he died.
"His love and service for the poor and for social justice are a lasting legacy and inspiration for all of us", says to Fides Abba Joseph Mullugeta, priest of the Apostolic Vicariate of Gambella. His missionary adventure in Ethiopia began in Dilla, where he arrived in 1983 and where the Salesians began the mission founded in 1973 by the Comboni Missionaries. Many new initiatives were promoted: a secondary school, vocational school, an orphanage. In addition, Father Angelo developed a large agricultural project. "However, his greatest commitment was the pastoral one, as a parish priest", underlines the priest, recalling that he built numerous chapels especially in the surroundings and in the mountainous area, which increased the number of catechumens and the faithful.
In 2000 he was appointed the first apostolic Prefect of Gambella, and nine years later apostolic Vicar. "Since his arrival in Gambella, he devoted all his time and all his energies to serving the population of Gambella, without distinction of race, religion, culture and age. He dedicated his whole life to the mission. This allowed the Catholic Church to establish a good number of parishes and chapels in the region. He worked hard in pastoral and social development programs", recalls Abba Joseph Mullugeta, who then quotes the then Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr. Silvano Maria Tomasi:" The arrival of Father Moreschi marked the transformation of the Catholic Church in Gambella, according to a precise methodology: impulse to agriculture and food production, village development and first evangelization". A social priority was then to develop projects to ensure water for the population. "We thank him - concludes the priest - for his service to the holy people of God and for his fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, rest in peace!"
Angelo Moreschi was born in Nave on June 13, 1952. He made his first religious vows among the Salesians on September 1, 1974, his perpetual vows in Cremisan , on August 15, 1980. He was ordained a priest on October 2, 1982 in Brescia. He left as a missionary for Ethiopia in 1983, he was parish priest and Director in Dilla, Provincial Councilor for the then Salesian Vice Province of Africa Ethiopia-Eritrea. On November 16, 2000 he was appointed the first Apostolic Prefect of Gambella. On December 5, 2009 the Prefecture was elevated to Vicariate and he was appointed first Apostolic Vicar of Gambella, received episcopal consecration on January 31, 2010.
Ans Salesian Agency recalls that in during his mission Mgr. Moreschi continued to embody the Salesian preference for the little ones, accompanying them with a practical spirit and strong apostolic zeal. On his visits to the villages he arrived with a battered off-road vehicle - or by motorboat, in the communities along the Baro river, when the streets were flooded - and immediately began to distribute multivitamin biscuits to malnourished children.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERA - Streets deserted and Masses broadcast on TV: Nigerian Christians in the face of the coronavirus

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 11:36
Lagos - "The authorities of the State of Lagos, as well as of other Nigerian States in which the spread of coronavirus is more threatening , have imposed the closure of schools and markets and encourage the whole population to stay at home and follow strict hygiene rules. The situation in Nigeria, however, varies between different states. Here gatherings of more than 20 people are banned and, consequently, masses with people have been suspended. We regularly broadcast mass from the cathedral through TV and are active with social media": this is how Mgr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos comments the situation in an interview with Agenzia Fides.
At the moment there is no national strategy even though the Nigerian federal health system is starting to equip themselves. The Archbishop notes: "The central government is gradually reacting. The first move was to close the borders and we believe it is a fair measure, then public disinfestation and sanitation is being carried out. We believe it is important to increase the ability to carry out tests and find better logistic solutions for those in quarantine. Good news comes from the private sector which is providing support to the State both with tests and by providing reception places for those infected. People seem to be becoming more aware of the risks hour by hour. Here, for example, the streets have been deserted for days".
In the meantime, surveillance on the streets by law enforcement agencies has begun, which in some cases have entered the places of prayer. "Fortunately - the prelate continues - there have been no intimidating attitudes, it seems that the police have been behaving well. We hope to continue like this, because people are already very nervous and stressed by the situation".
The faithful understand the situation and act accordingly. The location and indications of the Nigerian Church differ from area to area. The statement by Archbishop Obinna of Owerri caused a stir, who recently declared "We will continue continue to observe the traditional handshake of peace during Masses and continue giving Holy Communion to worshippers on their tongues. "Sometimes there are or misleading opinions. The declarations of the Archbishop of Owerri, I believe, are due to the fact that in his area the infections were probably few or absent. We, however, are already very careful and faithfully follow all the precautions and measures imposed by the authorities".
With 155 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and looks with terror at the spread of the coronavirus on the continent. The infected in Africa continue to grow: the most affected nation is undoubtedly. In Nigeria, there are just over 50 cases, 30 of them in the state of Lagos, and the alarm is starting to spread.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - "United with the Pope in prayer for humanity!"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 27/03/2020 - 11:18
Santiago - The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile joins the invitation that Pope Francis addressed "to unite our voices to heaven" and to pray worldwide" with the prayer that the Lord himself taught us", imploring God to stop this coronavirus pandemic. "We invite you to join the Pope - they write in their message sent to Fides - in the prayer he will preside in St. Peter’s Square, without the faithful, on Friday 27 at 2 pm in Chile through the live broadcast from the Vatican that we will offer through www.iglesia.cl to pray together with our universal Pastor from our homes, computers, cell phones, radio and TV stations in our dioceses. In a special way, we invite priests, deacons, men and women religious and lay pastoral workers to promote this prayer in their networks of contact with the members of their communities. United with the Pope in prayer for humanity!"
Social Pastoral Care - Caritas of the Diocese of Santa Maria de Los Angeles and the Office for Human Mobility express the deepest closeness to the suffering and pain of thousands of families around the world following the pandemic. "In this context - they write - we join the universal prayer that the Church today addresses to the Heavenly Father, asking for mercy and strength to face this difficult situation. We are aware that this scenario affects all of us, but above all the most vulnerable, due to the economic, health and uncertainty consequences of an uncertain future ".
In the same way Caritas and the office for human mobility show solidarity "to all our foreign brothers and sisters residing in our city who also have to face the distance from their homeland and from their family and friends, know that their needs, our worries and pains are also ours and we work to give some relief ". Faced with this complex situation, they invite all Christians and people of good will "to live this difficult moment as an opportunity to grow in fraternity and solidarity, to take care of each other, respecting the preventive measures indicated by the authorities".
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/HOLY LAND - COVID-19: the Holy Sepulcher closed, but liturgies continue to take place inside

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 13:21
Jerusalem - As part of the measures taken to combat the infection of the coronavirus epidemic, the Israeli authorities also ordered the closure of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem on Wednesday 25 March. The decision to close the Christian place of worship was communicated during a meeting between representatives of the Israeli police force and representatives of the Churches who share the management of the Holy Sepulcher. During the closure, the communities that traditionally reside inside the Basilica will continue to celebrate the liturgies that mark the day in the place of worship, and will ensure that "prayers inside the basilica" continue "with greater intensity". This is a time to under take "a prayer for the sick, for health workers forced to exhausting shifts, for those who assist the elderly and vulnerable, for priests and for all those who offer their lives to help others".
This is what was said in a statement released on Thursday 26 March by the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, and the two Patriarchs of Jerusalem, Greek Orthodox Theofilos III and Armenian apostolic Nourhan Manougian, who are at the head of the three ecclesial groups responsible for the shared management of the Holy Sepulcher, according to the codified rules of the so-called "Status Quo". The same press release highlights that the celebrations "will continue regularly", even if the number of participants authorized to enter the basilica only during the liturgies, "will be limited to a few people", in order to avoid the risk of spreading the infection.
In Israel there are more than two thousand infected and some deaths due to the coronavirus, while thousands are put in solitary confinement.
Last March 21, in a previous joint communiqué, the same heads of ecclesial realities who share the management of the Holy Sepulcher, confirmed their intention to guard the treasure of the uninterrupted flow of prayers that rise to the sky from the Basilica, "also in these sad times when pilgrims cannot reach Jerusalem and the local faithful are forced to stay in their homes".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Coronavirus: in the face of the suspension of Masses, a parish priest in the streets with the Blessed Sacrament

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 12:12
Abidjan - "In these dark times of confinement I thought that Jesus Christ cannot be confined, I decided that your parish priest should pass with the Holy Sacrament in the parish territory", said parish priest Fr. Eric Norbert Abekan parish of the Holy Family of Riviera 2 in the archdiocese of Abidjan.
On Sunday 22 March, while Masses did not take place in most of the parishes in the Ivory Coast, Fr. Abekan organized an unprecedented procession with the Blessed Sacrament on the streets of its parish territory.
Standing in an open-roof car, holding the Blessed Sacrament in his hand, he walked the streets of the parish territory to meet the faithful who had stayed home because of the Coronavirus.
Accompanied by his vicars who kept a good distance, Fr. Abekan addressed a message of hope and comfort: "Do not be afraid, follow the guidelines of the government".
An iniziative welcomed by local residents. In front of the entrance of each house, one or two inhabitants could be seen kneeling to greet the Blessed Sacrament.
As Fr. Abekan, many other priests have taken similar initiatives: Masses broadcast online through parish websites and social networks.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - A Bishop: "Facing fear with a generous heart", to contain the impact of COVID-19

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 11:59
Tombura - "The health authorities of our Country urge us to stop all activities, close institutions, places of worship and schools. As people of faith we are called to face the fear of this moment, for the crisis linked to the coronavirus epidemic, with courage and with a generous heart". This is how Mgr. Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the diocese of Tombura-Yambio, addressed the priests and faithful of the diocese. In South Sudan, no coronavirus pandemic cases have yet been reported but preventive measures are already in place. The Ministry of Health has announced the closure of all other airports in the Country, with the prohibition of international flights, the closure of borders. Only commercial buses, food trucks and fuel tanks will be admitted.
"The churches - the Bishop informs in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - will remain open as a sign of peace and hope, children and the elderly will have to stay at home, mass liturgical celebrations will be suspended, adults who want to enter the church to pray will have to wash their hands at the entrance and keep a distance of one meter from the others. "In the letter the Bishop invites everyone to strictly follow the indications and reports: "All local radio stations in the diocese will offer daily liturgical service".
Mgr. Hiiboro invites everyone to work closely with local government authorities to strengthen preventive measures against COVID-19 and to serve for the common good, giving priority to the most vulnerable of the diocese.
Although important, the measures adopted do not address the complex reality in the Country already battered by hunger, poverty and disease. The government should ensure that travel restrictions do not stop humanitarian aid. Humanitarian organizations, the Church points out, must continue to have unlimited access to needy populations.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Connection and compassion: Caritas at the forefront in the fight against the coronavirus

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 11:43
New Delhi – Curbing the panic, helping the weakest, building trust: these are the action plans put in place by Carits India, at the forefront in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in India. This is what Fr. Paul Moonjely, executive director of Caritas India says to Agenzia Fides, remarking that, in this critical phase, the Catholic organization "is ready to express compassion and solidarity, according to its mission".
Caritas India has set up an emergency task force. While India is experiencing the lockdown imposed by the government "there is a strong need to promote and build trust and support peace in order to drive fear away", notes the Director, illustrating the guidelines that move the action of the Caritas volunteers, on the whole national territory: being informed, being prepared, being cautious, being connected, being compassionate.
Caritas shared and supported the creation of "a virtual platform to generate awareness on COVID-19", he says. Secondly, it promoted specific training to "provide operators with the knowledge and skills required for the preventive and protective measures of COVID-19". Third step, "attention is paid to preventive measures and false news circulating through different means".
It then tries to "stay in touch with needy communities and collaborate with other religious and civil organizations". Finally "to be compassionate means to be in solidarity with the suffering humanity and to promote peace and harmony to prevent the violence that derives from discrimination".
"In times of emergency - notes the Director -, migrants and the poor become the most vulnerable. COVID-19 has forced thousands of migrant workers to return to their city without any future security, sometimes leaving them in limbo and at risk". Caritas is taking care of them, "to protect migrants and the poor who are often discriminated against or marginalized by communities".

Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The White Fathers: with the arrival of Covid-19, risks of epidemic and famine

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 11:28
Bukavu - "The spread of the coronavirus is not dramatic, but we cannot underestimate it. We must put in place all possible precautions to avoid being infected and to help the population not to become infected". This is how Alberto Rovelli, a white father, a missionary in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu, describes the situation of the epidemic in the DR Congo. "At the moment - he continues - the infected seem to be still few. Authorities speak of a hundred cases in Kinshasa. Here in Bukavu there are probably no more than forty people affected by the virus and no victims. However, it is difficult to say how many other cases there are in the rest of the Country, which is very vast and in which there is no widespread healthcare network".
The President of DR Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, decreed "the state of emergency" during a television message which he held on Tuesday, announcing the isolation of the capital Kinshasa . During the television message he announced the ban on anyone to reach the provinces from the capital and vice versa, with the aim of "isolating Kinshasa which turns out to be the outbreak of the pandemic".
In Bukavu, the White Fathers run a philosophy formation center with numerous students. As a precaution, they suspended lessons, but invited the students not to leave the facility. "Our house - explains Father Alberto - is a bit isolated from the city and for this reason it is perhaps a little more protected from the infection. The students would certainly risk more if they returned to their families. In order to keep them busy we have organized English courses and engage them in manual jobs. We asked them not to go to visit friends and relatives and not to receive visits here in the community".
The missionaries also reduced their outings to a minimum. They leave the community only to go and buy food. Pastoral activity has also slowed down. Father Alberto continues: "We have followed the indications of our Bishops. Sunday mass and funerals have been suspended. Scheduled marriages are still celebrated, but no more than ten people are accepted. Those not scheduled have been postponed until a later date".
Father Alberto and his confreres fear the spread of the virus, but even more the possible lack of food: "Fear is already doing serious damage. Food prices have risen significantly. A few trucks of flour still arrive from Rwanda, but when the supplies end how will families get food? I received a call from a mother who told me that she no longer has anything to eat and has no money to buy food for her children. The risk is that the virus leads to famine that could prove even more lethal than the virus itself".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA - A map to reach the Amazon in a realistic way, where poverty and inequalities favor Covid 19

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 11:10
Bogotà - "The idea of offering a map responds to the work that the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network has been carrying out for years: helping to understand the complexity of the Amazonian reality, its great diversity and those situations that damage and affect it most", assures Father Mauricio López, executive secretary of the Network. For this reason REPAM has developed an updated information system with the largest database of information on the Amazonian reality from an ecclesial point of view.
In the note sent to Fides, it reads: "As we develop the maps, we study the relationships of very specific areas and analyze the information that we receive, after the Synod, we see that the results, and also the type of information are different. This phase reflects a certain imbalance in the final results. And this applies to both the regions and the ecclesiastical jurisdiction".
These words invite you to reread the Amazon under a new presentation of the reality. The same can be read in the introduction of the Map, published online: "In this document you will find multiple opportunities to understand the reality, so the context will be a potential indispensable tool for every activity and pastoral planning, to create projects, but above all to respond to situations asking for our effective response".
Unfortunately, as Father Mauricio López mentions, this global health emergency confirms that the Amazon is also a victim of Covid-19, and the map updates this scourge almost every day in the Amazon as well. "Nobody is exempt from the possibility of contagion, but we have structural situations of profound diversity, poverty and inequality that make it practically impossible to adequately accompany the most vulnerable people and communities. These Amazonian peoples - says the secretary of REPAM -, on the one hand, cannot stop carrying out their daily activities because they depend on them to survive every day, to face the poverty situation in which they live and, on the other hand, there are no adequate conditions for health infrastructures. For decades, these peoples have been excluded from the possibility of adequate development and this now, in the face of the current pandemic, prevents them from being able to face the situation".

Link correlati :Map of REPAM:
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - 14 Xaverian Missionaries have died in a month

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 26/03/2020 - 11:01
Parma - The 11 priests and the 3 religious of the Xaverian Missionaries who died in less than a month spent many years of their lives in mission land, announcing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in four continents. Twelve of them lived in the mother house, in Parma, for medical treatment or only for compulsory rest, given the age and life spent for the most part between the privations and difficulties of the missions.
Parma is located in the northern area of Italy where the coronavirus has spread rapidly. The diocese has lost 6 priests. Although there is no certain evidence that the Xaverians who died had contracted the coronavirus, Father Rosario Giannattasio, superior of the Xaverians of Italy, stressed that this is certainly a much higher mortality , it is therefore inevitable to think of a connection with the coronavirus, also because an employee of the residence was tested positive for the virus.
In the various fields of the missionary apostolate, the Xaverians who died in these weeks were not spared, as can be seen by scrolling through their biographical notes. From the teaching and formation of young people to the management of the economy, from the parish pastoral care to the assistance of migrants, from the design of buildings to tailoring and cooking, passing through a thousand other tasks and duties that are part of the daily life of a community, small or large. Once back in Italy, often emptied of physical strength and tried by disease, they continued to give their passionate witness in missionary animation, in the priestly pastoral care and in reception. Some of them have even resumed the mission path, even in old age. Without a doubt they embodied the desire of their founder, San Guido Maria Conforti, who thus wrote: "The Missionary is the most beautiful and sublime personification of the ideal life. He contemplated in spirit Jesus Christ who points out to the Apostles the world to be conquered by the Gospel, not with the force of arms, but with persuasion and love and he was enraptured". We remember them by citing their period of missionary service.
Fr. Piergiorgio Betti, 83 years old, was a missionary in Congo from 1973 to 1983. Died in the mother house on March 23.
Fr. Gerardo Caglioni, 73, was a missionary in Mexico and Sierra Leone . Died in the mother house on March 22nd.
Fr. Stefano Coronose, 88 years old, was a missionary in Indonesia from the late 60s to the mid 80s. Died in the mother house on March 21.
Fr. Pilade Giuseppe Rossini, 84, missionary in Sierra Leone from the sixties to 1998, with three intervals in Italy. Died in the hospital Seriate on March 19.
Brother Giuseppe Scintu, 85 years old, missionary in Congo from 1968 to 1975. Died in the mother house on March 19th.
Brother Luigi Isaia Masseroni, 90 years old, missionary in Brazil from 1956 to 1967. Died in the mother house on March 18th.
Brother Guglielmo Saderi, 88 years old, missionary in Congo from 1961 to 2010, alternating periods of service in Italy. Died in the mother house on March 18.
Father Giuseppe Rizzi, 77 years old, missionary in Burundi and Congo from 1977 to 2010. Died in the mother house on March 15th.
Father Piermario Tassi, 90 years old, missionary in Congo from 1962 to 1996. Died on March 15 in the mother house.
Fr. Vittorio Ferrari, 88 years old, missionary in Japan from 1961 to 1974, died in the mother house on March 14th.
Fr. Nicola Adriano Masi, 92 years old, missionary in Brazil from 1976 to 2010. Died in the mother house on March 12th.
Fr. Enrico di Nicolò, 80 years old, dedicated his life to teaching and the priestly ministry. Died while visiting family members on March 11.
Fr. Corrado Stradiotto, 86 years old, missionary in Indonesia from 1967 to 1975. Died in the mother house on March 7th.
Fr. Pietro Zoni, 85 years old, from 1970 to 2013 was a missionary in Burundi, the United States and Cameroon. Died in the mother house on February 29.
The Xaverian Missionaries, born with the sole purpose of announcing the Gospel to those who still do not know it, are 819 present in over 150 communities in Europe, Africa, Asia and America. Their founder, San Guido Maria Conforti , born in Ravadese , entered the seminary at the age of 11, but an illness delayed his priestly ordination until 1888. A very young priest, he was conferred the assignment of "Director of the Pious Work of the Propagation of the Faith". Not being able to follow, for health reasons, the missionary vocation to which he felt called, in 1895 he founded the Pious Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions with the sole and exclusive purpose of evangelization of non-Christians. In 1899 he sent the first two missionaries to China, followed over the years by many others.
In 1902, at 37 years of age, he was called by Pope Leo XIII at the head of the Archdiocese of Ravenna. After two years in which he spent all his energy for the good of the diocese, he was forced to resign for health reasons. He then returned to his Institute where he devoted himself to the formation of his missionary students. Pope Pius X entrusted him the Diocese of Parma. For over 24 years he was a tireless good shepherd, also doing his utmost for the proclamation of the Gospel to non-Christians. In 1916 he collaborated in the foundation of the Missionary Union of the Clergy, the current Pontifical Missionary Union, of which he was the first president for ten years. In 1928 he went to China, visiting the Christian communities and the territories entrusted to his missionary family. On November 5, 1931 he died in Parma. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 17, 1996 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23, 2011.
Link correlati :Video message from the Superior General of the Xaverians, Fr. Fernando Garcia, on the situation
Catégories: From the church

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