AFRICA/BURUNDI - "President, give us peace among Burundians": Archbishop of Gitega at the inauguration of the newly-elected Head of State

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 11:33
Bujumbura - The President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye, has been sworn in, in the presence of the country's civil and religious authorities.
Before taking oath, the moderator of the ceremony, Brigadier General Gaspard Baratuza, invited the 8 Catholic Bishops and other representatives of religious denominations to reach the center of the stadium. After forming a circle, the President-elect knelt inside. In his prayer before the oath, the Archbishop of Gitega, His Exc. Mgr. Simon Ntamwana, invited the new President to turn page: "Always be ready to receive the wisdom of the Lord as Solomon" said Mgr. Ntamwana who insisted on the need to find peace. "Blessed are those who bring peace, because they will be called children of God! Understand that you are a son of God and as such must bring peace among Burundians, you know how much we need it...". "May the Lord enlighten you so that you can do good in Burundi, strengthen love among Burundians. Bring back to our country the refugees in the camps, bring back the intellectuals in exile so that they can take part in the development of our country, renew ties with the international community so they can help us develop".
The words of Archbishop of Gitega express the hopes of the Country's population shaken by years of instability after late President Pierre Nkurunziza modified the Constitution to obtain a third term .
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Covid-19: the renewal of residence visas for Catholic missionaries is difficult

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 11:20
Almaty - Missionary priests in Kazakhstan, as well as all foreigners present in the national territory, may experience problems to stay in the Central Asian country due to the new provisions on entry and stay, related to the spread of Covid-19. This is what Fr. Guido Trezzani, a missionary in Kazakhstan in the "Ark Village" community in Talgar, near Almaty, reports to Fides. The missionary today Director of Caritas Kazakhstan says: "There is a big question mark about our future presence in Kazakhstan: it is a fluid situation that changes every day, at the moment we have no certainties. We only know that the moratorium that allows the return to the countries of origin without administrative sanctions for all foreigners to whom the visa expired during the first emergency phase, or for those who were here thanks to the so-called 30-day regime, will end on 10 July. This is a rule that allowed citizens of 57 countries to visit Kazakhstan without a visa, up to a maximum of one month, and which has been suspended from May to 1 November 2020. Anyone with a visa expiring should return to their country of origin and ask for their renewal but, at the moment it seems that no Kazakh embassy in the world is granting the document. My visa, for example, will expire in early September and I will probably have to return to Italy pending the changes".
The recent increase in the number of infected people contributes to worsening the already confused bureaucratic situation. In fact, a month after the end of the national emergency, a new peak of Covid-19 cases led the Kazakh authorities to block and close activities in major cities - Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Karaganda - and other smaller areas.
"The situation seems to have worsened in the past few days. Our numbers are much lower than in other areas of the world but, with the increase in infections, we are going back. Already for this weekend, parks and shopping centers have been closed, while those over 65 have been forbidden to leave the house", notes Don Trezzani.
The new containment measures could also slow down the inauguration of a day center dedicated to children with Down syndrome, built by Caritas Kazakhstan in the city of Almaty and financed by local authorities. In this regard, the missionary explains: "At the beginning of the year we met with representatives of a department of city administration who we asked to support our work with disabled children. A few weeks ago we received confirmation of their funding until December 31st. We had to prepare documents, contracts and sanitation procedures in a few days. The scheduled date was June 18th. We will be a few days late, unless the situation worsens to the point of bringing the country to total closure again", he concludes.
In Kazakhstan the Catholic Church has 4 dioceses, for a total of 70 parishes. There are 91 priests present in the nation, including 61 diocesan and 30 religious. According to official data provided by the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the country's more than 17 million inhabitants, about 26% are Christians, and 1% of these are of Catholic faith.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - The Bishop of Zomba: "The Church has a central role in dealing with the pandemic"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 10:57
Zomba - "When Covid 19 arrived in Malawi, we found ourselves unprepared and frightened. So far God has saved us from many deaths compared to Europe and other parts of the world. To date, there are over 500 cases, the majority are attributable to people from abroad. The fear is that outbreaks of the virus may develop locally". This is what Mgr. George Desmond Tambala, Bishop of the diocese of Zomba reported in an interview with Agenzia Fides, talking about how the population is facing the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The health emergency in Malawi risks widening the gap between the countryside and the city. 85% of the population lives in rural areas, has no access to information and is not aware of the seriousness of the situation. "The impact of the virus on these people is potentially dangerous - says Fr. George - because it is more difficult to put social distancing into practice and to follow the sanitation guidelines". The situation in the city is different, where awareness campaigns and measures taken by companies have paid off. Anyone who enters banks, shops, petrol stations and other commercial establishments is invited to wash their hands. "However - continues the prelate - many have lost their jobs during this period and the pockets of poverty are likely to increase even in the city, thus feeding a spiral in which those who cannot afford the most basic prevention practices become easy prey for the virus and of contagion". Across the country schools and universities have been closed, gatherings with over 100 people have been banned. To ensure social distancing, public and private transport has limited access.
Furthermore, the living conditions of the poorest are of further concern. About three quarters of the population in Malawi, in fact, is engaged in informal jobs: "They are the people most exposed to contracting Covid-19" - underlines Mgr. Tambala. "These are mainly farmers and small traders who go to the market in the morning to sell their goods at retail". In this context, the diocese of Zomba immediately activated itself to contain the spread of coronavirus, establishing a dedicated task force, launching awareness and fundraising campaigns. "We want to ensure an important role in the fight against this epidemic - declares Fr. George - sharing with the faithful all information related to the disease and preventive measures, such as personal hygiene".
"The resumption of the Eucharistic celebration was welcomed with great joy by the faithful" - notes the bishop - and, on the challenges of the local Church, believes that "this time of pandemic can offer the opportunity to reflect on how we can adopt new ways of evangelization: we must ask ourselves how we can be more supportive, especially towards those who have serious financial problems due to job losses. We need to strengthen the faith at a family level - he concludes - and to be attentive towards the young who during this period have shown a great capacity to support efforts and make a valid contribution to stopping the infection".

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Bishop George Tambala on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Is the freedom of movement of goods worth more than that of people?

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 10:39
Brasilia - The Church in Brazil celebrates World Refugee Day with a series of programs and debates on the situation of people forced to leave their land and country that concludes the "Migrant's Week". "Where is your brother, your sister?", is the question that constitutes the theme of the 35th edition of Migrant's Week, celebrated in Brazil from 14 to 21 June, to promote acceptance, integration, defense of migrants' rights .
According to data released by the National Refugee Committee , in the 4th edition of the "Refúgio em Numbers" report, Brazil recognized, in 2018, only 1,086 refugees of different nationalities. Thus the country reaches the number of 11,231 people recognized as refugees by the Brazilian State. Of this total, Syrians represent 36% of the refugee population, followed by Congolese, 15%, and Angolans, 9%.
As highlighted by the information released by the Brazilian Bishops' Conference , 2018 was the year with the highest number of requests for recognition of refugee status, as a consequence of the increase in the flow of displacement of Venezuelans. Last year there were over 80,000 requests, including 61,681 from Venezuelans. Haiti, with 7 thousand requests. Followed by the Cubans , the Chinese and the Bengali . The states with the highest number of requests in 2018 are Roraima , Amazonas and San Paolo .
The Archbishop of Belo Horizonte and President of the CNBB, Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, in his message states that when looking at every migrant and refugee it is necessary to see a brother and sister who have come from another place with different habits and customs. Refugees, according to the Archbishop, integrate and form the family of humanity.
The President of the CNBB draws attention to the fact that freedom for the movement of goods is growing while the persecutions of migrants and refugees are multiplying: "Objects and goods are valued more than people. There is no solidarity for those who need to leave their countries because of misery, wars, religious persecutions and many other forms of violence".
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Scalabrinian Missionaries: unprecedented numbers of forced displacements, and there are still no answers

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 10:21
Rome - Today there are 70.8 million people in the world forced to flee, victims of conflicts, persecutions, violence or natural disasters. Of these 25.9 million are recognized refugees. Numbers whose complexity testify that "forced displacements have reached an unprecedented level and the answers are still not enough to offer solutions to people so that they can rebuild their lives". This is what Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of San Carlo Borromeo/Scalabrinians, said in a message sent to Fides on the occasion of the International Refugee Day on 20 June.
Pope Francis, Sister Neusa continues, reminds us that "Jesus is present in every refugee, forced to flee, as in the time of Herod, to save himself. In their faces we are called to recognize the face of Christ". "Three quarters of the refugees in the world and many migrants live in developing countries, where the structures responsible for health care are overloaded and, with the Covid-19 pandemic, have collapsed - continues the Superior General -. Many refugees live in overcrowded camps, makeshift shelters or reception centers where they cannot access health services, toilets or use drinking water. Many of them are in recognized or informal detention centers, in conditions of isolation, where hygiene is particularly worrying".
Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, at the head of a religious congregation that has been involved in the world of migration since its foundation, continues: "Migrants and refugees are disproportionately exposed to the vulnerability of exclusion, stigma and discrimination, especially when they are in an irregular situation. The thought of the Church focuses on the experience of Jesus, displaced and refugee together with his parents. "They are not numbers, but people, knowing their stories we will be able to understand them", the Pope wrote in his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. When refugee people become numbers, humanity becomes inhumanity", underlines Sister Neusa.
The Superior General concludes by asking, on behalf of the Scalabrinian Sisters for politics, for local, national and international leaders, "not to passively witness the destruction of many threatened lives. It is urgent to find appropriate solutions, human and worthy means to ensure that people do not endanger their lives and that of their families, resorting to unscrupulous traffickers or using fragile boats, trying to reach places where they can find security at various levels".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The Bishops: a look at those who have lost their bread, their roof and their jobs, even if they are migrants

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 10:13
Buenos Aires - The Episcopal Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People has expressed its desire to make visible the vulnerable situation of refugees and migrants, in a message for World Refugee Day which is celebrated on 20 June. The Bishops that make up this Commission have invited people, social associations, companies and the government sector to "look at this reality and to take measures in favor of this population, now and in the post-pandemic phase".
In relation to the period "after" the health crisis, they stressed that migrants and refugees "will need all our support, to rebuild a dignified life, especially in economic and working terms, especially for those who have lost their bread, their roof and job".
Argentina for many years, despite the unstable economic situation, has become the destination of many Bolivian workers and Paraguayan and Brazilian farmers. Currently migrants are a considerable number in Latin American and unfortunately they are also a vulnerable population. According to data from international agencies, there are approximately 2,300,000 migrants in Argentina, equivalent to almost 5% of the population of this country.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee": living with dignity as refugees in the time of the coronavirus

Fides EN - www.fides.org - sam, 20/06/2020 - 10:08
Vatican City - Victims of violence, fear and above all of an unfair system, in 2019, 33.4 million people in 145 countries were forced to leave their homes in addition to the hundreds of millions of refugees already present all over the world. In order not to forget this serious tragedy, the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated today, 20 June. 'Forced like Jesus Christ to flee' is the theme chosen by Pope Francis for this Day which will focus on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons .
"This day commemorates the role and responsibility we have towards our neighbor who has been uprooted from his home, his culture, his family and his environment and is experiencing a tragic as well as painful situation", says the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John. "For many around the world, these people do not have a face or a story - reads the note sent to Agenzia Fides. Refugees are just numbers or news to look briefly in the newspaper. We rarely worry about them or know the stories of unspeakable suffering, of immense and persistent pain and above all of dehumanization".
In his statement Aloysius recalls, among others, the many Rohingya refugees who left their homes in Myanmar and have moved to neighboring Bangladesh where, despite the willingness of the local government to receive them, they are extremely vulnerable, today even to the contagion of COVID 19 .
"The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us an important lesson: the need for global solidarity to combat any problem affecting humanity - he continues. This year, 2020, must lead us to a new way of responding to the refugee drama. As an international community, humanity has been able to organize itself against the pandemic. In the same way, there is an urgent need to welcome refugees with empathy and solidarity, face the root causes of the migratory phenomenon and develop a fair economic system that guarantees them equal opportunities".
"Our main objective - concludes the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis - is to cultivate brotherhood through the expression of care and love for the most vulnerable, and the refugees are among them. We ask our political leaders to make courageous decisions to protect refugees, in particular those who are victims of all kinds of abuse and violence in many places around the world today. They are humans, with values and rights, and it is the duty of all of us to receive them with open arms and make sure they live with dignity".
According to the UNHCR report in 2019, 70.8 million people worldwide were forced to flee their country. It is an unprecedented number of people fleeing conflicts, persecutions, dramatic climate change, natural disasters. Of these, about 25.9 million are refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. Every two seconds a person is forced to leave their home due to conflict or persecution. To these are added millions of stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to fundamental rights such as education, health, work and freedom of movement.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/JAMAICA - Appointment of the Bishop of Mandeville

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 14:10
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed as Bishop of the diocese of Mandeville, Jamaica, the Reverend John Derek Persaud, of the clergy of Georgetown, currently vicar general, vicar for the clergy and administrator of the cathedral.
The Reverend John Derek Persaud was born in Georgetown, Guyana, on 28 August 1956. He attended the Major Seminary of Saint John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs in Trinidad . He was awarded a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Urban University in Rome . He speaks English and Italian. He was ordained a priest on 14 July for the diocese of Georgetown.
Following ordination he served as assistant priest of the Cathedral of Georgetown and parish priest of the Holy Rosary parish . He carried out his studies in canon law at the PUU from 1997-1999, and then went on to serve as chancellor of his diocese , parish priest of the Ascension parish , administrator of the Cathedral and vicar general , judicial vicar of the metropolitan tribunal ; secretary general of the AEC , and since 2019, vicar general, vicar for the clergy of the diocese of Georgetown, administrator of the Cathedral and judge at the the East Antilles Tribunal.
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Resignation of the Archbishop of Rabaul and appointment of the new Archbishop

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 14:07
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, presented by Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, S.D.B.
The Pope has appointed Bishop Rochus Josef Tatamai of Kavieng as archbishop of the archdiocese of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Koranic education in Punjab universities compulsory: Christians disapprove

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 14:03
Lahore - "I ask the governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Sarwar, to review this decision and to work for inclusive, truly valuable education that promotes human rights and can be offered to students of all religions, in our educational institutions": this is what Fr. Abid Habib, OFM Cap, 64-year-old Catholic priest and Pakistani Capuchin friar, said in a message sent to Agenzia Fides, after the government of the Pakistani province of Punjab made the teaching of the Quran compulsory for all university students studying in the province. The friar expresses his dissent towards this provision, which has generated wide disapproval in minority religious communities , as well as in various organizations and platforms of Pakistani civil society and in the academic world.
Addressing the Vice Chancellors of Universities in the Province of Punjab in recent days, the Governor of Punjab, Chaudhry Sarwar, said: "The historic decision to teach the Quran, with its translation in Urdu, has been implemented. It will be a mandatory subject in all the universities of Punjab and, without studying it, no degree will be awarded to students; we will promote an amendment to the Constitution to make the teaching of the Holy Quran compulsory".
The notification issued by the Secretariat of the Governor of Punjab states: "A student will not be able to graduate unless he studies the Holy Quran with translation". And he continues: "In all universities of Punjab, the teaching material of the Holy Quran will be taught separately from the topic of Islamiat , already provided in all universities".
Fr. Abid Habib, who was also Director of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Conference of Major Superiors in Pakistan, notes: "First of all, it should be remembered that it was not the intention of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, to make Pakistan a theocratic state. In his constitutional speech of 11 August 1947, he made it clear that religion would have nothing to do with state affairs. But after Jinnah's death, Islam began to be brought into state affairs".
Father Habib reports: "Over the past 72 years, government policies have favored Muslims on numerous occasions, while non-Muslims face discrimination everywhere. Muslims read the Quran from an early age. I do not see why other students should be forced to do it. What this generation really needs is education in values, in the dignity of the person, and this approach must be started right from primary school. We are witnessing the growth of religious fanaticism and intolerance, and measures like this continue to fuel these phenomena. Only if education for authentic human rights is offered will the new generations learn to appreciate and respect all faiths".
Most Pakistani Christians are of Punjabi ethnicity, therefore they are numerous in the province of Punjab, in particular in the city of Lahore, where they represent 10% of the population. Out of a population of over 210 million inhabitants, there are about 4 million Pakistani Christians, almost equally divided between Catholics and belonging to communities of other denominations. Punjab welcomes about 80 percent of Pakistani baptized people.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Covid-19: after the death of a fifth religious a convent has been turned into a COVID-19 quarantine facility

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 12:14
Johannesburg - The convent of the Congregation of the Precious Blood Sisters in South Africa’s Catholic Diocese of Umtata has been turned into a COVID-19 quarantine facility after a fifth member of the congregation succumbed to the new coronavirus. "We can confirm the terrible news, indeed we lost another soul", said His Exc. Mgr. Sithembele Sipuka, Bishop of Umtata, on June 18, announcing the death of Sister Ambrose Shabalala, who was 80 years old.
The convent houses 40 nuns who have been tested: 17 members were found to be COVID-19 positive.
The Department of Health in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa has announced that the convent has been turned into a quarantine center.
"We have assessed the center and concluded that they have got adequate facility for quarantine and self-isolation, and education has been provided on how the quarantined and isolated should conduct themselves", said a spokesperson of local health authorities.
The convent's infection began with the infection of a nun who works as a nurse at St. Mary's hospital.
In its message of condolences and solidarity, members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference expressed "deep sadness and sincere sympathy to the Provincial and Sisters of the Precious Blood Congregation on the sudden passing of four of your dedicated sisters in this very short period of time".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Bishops’ appeal: "Put an end to the atrocity and violence in Cabo Delgado":

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 12:05
Maputo - Putting an end to "many atrocities" and "acts of real barbarism" perpetrated in the Cabo Delgado region: is the appeal of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique at the conclusion of its first Plenary Assembly, held from June 9 to 13, at Sant'Agostinho da Matola seminary, near Maputo.
At the end of the works, the Bishops issued a Message addressed in particular to the faithful of Cabo Delgado who, for three years, have been victims of attacks by Islamic militias. Thousands of people have been killed by these attacks and more than 200,000 inhabitants of the area have been displaced, the Bishops complain. A dramatic situation, also stressed in Pope Francis' "Urbi et Orbi" message on Easter Sunday.
"An urgent response to this tragedy is needed - they say in their message -. Action must also be taken on the causes of the conflict through the promotion of development projects and the provision of essential services, such as those related to health and education".
The strong appeal of the Mozambican Episcopal Conference follows that launched by the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Nampula, in northern Mozambique, which includes Cabo Delgado .
"The attacks started about two and a half years ago, but lately they have gained a terrifying pace and dimension, with several attacks simultaneously, in villages far from each other, which makes it even more difficult for the police and the military from Mozambique to act", explains His Exc. Mgr. Luíz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba.
According to Mgr. Lisboa "rather than conquering the territory with the force of arms, these men with covered faces sow panic, with the aim of forcing people to flee and leave the villages in which they live. Since the first attacks, the pattern has been the same: "Burn houses, kill people brutally, cut off heads"
The Bishop of Pemba guarantees that, in Cabo Delgado, "all religions get along" and that Islamic leaders "from the outset said that they have nothing to do with jihadists. The region is rich in hydrocarbon resources, but due to the violence of the jihadists there are 25 billion investments blocked in the natural gas sector alone".
In their message the Bishops recall the difficult situation caused by the confinement measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. So how can we live faith in this context? CEM focuses on the family, the "domestic Church", which has seen many moments of prayer at home during this period. Equally important is the relaunch of the mass media as an instrument of evangelization, together with the commitment of all to be ever more a merciful, Samaritan "Church", close to those who suffer and to the people affected by the pandemic".
CEM also launches an appeal to "not stigmatize Covid-19 patients, but to be in solidarity with them". "It is necessary - the Bishops also write - to show equal attention to the poorest people, whose conditions have worsened with the health crisis". On the other hand, CEM reaffirms its commitment in the social sector, carried out through Caritas, and the intention of wanting to form a working group "in permanent contact with the Ministry of Health" to establish methods and times for the recovery of public liturgical celebrations.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - "Humanitarian catastrophe" in Brazil for the pandemic: complaint by the Venezuelan ambassador to the UN

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 11:50
Caracas - Tension between Brazil and Venezuela grows after last Tuesday, June 16, the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations , Samuel Moncada, denounced the government of Jair Bolsonaro "for criminal negligence in the face of pandemic that endangers the lives of millions of inhabitants in Brazil and across the continent".
In a letter to the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, Ambassador Moncada said: "Bolsonaro intentionally has turned Brazil into a humanitarian catastrophe with over 20 percent of contagions on the continent and over 10 percent in the world. It is the second country with the most victims after the United States".
The diplomat added that Brazil's two border states, Amazonas and Roraima, have more than 62,000 Covid-19 cases, while all of Venezuela has 3,062 cases. "Bolsonaro's contempt for the life of his people is a threat to the Venezuelans on the border and to more than nine countries in the region", he stressed.
The denunciation coincides with the request of the Indigenous Missionary Council which raised the alarm on the serious situation experienced by the native populations in Brazil. CIMI has released the data collected by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil which are truly alarming: more than 5 thousand cases with about 300 deaths among the indigenous people.
The tragedy could have been even greater if the indigenous communities had not closed their territories at the beginning of the pandemic. However, CIMI states that "the contagion has spread to Manaus and continues to spread in the regions of Alto y Medio Solimões, Vale do Javari, Rio Negro, in the state of Amazonia", as well as in the states of Roraima, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Maranhão, Ceará, Pernambuco and on the southern coast of Brazil. "In all these regions, the virus is already present in villages", he warns.
Faced with the facts, CIMI members express their perplexity at the "positions of ignorance and lack of commitment of the federal government authorities, which manifest themselves in an unbridled way", to which must be added the hatred of President Jair Bolsonaro and of the Ministers of Education and the Environment, against indigenous peoples.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - More than 80 prisoners receive food assistance thanks to the solidarity of the Church

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 11:33
Coro - The Archdiocese of Coro continues its social work adapting it to the reality of confinement and the economic crisis that the country is experiencing. Thanks to the support received by Adveniat and Cáritas Venezuela towards the most needy, over 80 citizens deprived of their freedom have benefited this week from the "Atención alimentaria al privado de libertad" program in the Falcón state police command.
The program is lrf by Ms Cira Montes, director of the Archdiocesan Institute of Distance Theology, and carried out by volunteers and individuals, who have been providing this service to detainees of the regional police for more than 3 years. With this aim, on Monday 15 June, it was the first day of food assistance, in accordance with the due health and biosecurity measures suggested by WHO, which was attended by representatives of the Archdiocesan Curia of Choir and Program volunteers.
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Comboni Missionaries: let us contemplate the Heart of Jesus by opening our hearts to the mystery of his love

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 11:30
Rome - "This year we celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a particular context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic which is still causing so much tragedy and pain in the whole world. With trust in God, we send the invitation to the whole Institute to contemplate the Heart of Jesus by opening our hearts to the mystery of his love so that this mystery can touch us deeply, free us from all the forces that keep us locked up or isolated and help us to be faithful to our consecration and mission". Thus began the message on the occasion of the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is celebrated today, June 19, addressed to the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus by the Secretary General of Formation and the General Council.
"As missionary disciples let us enter the school of the Heart of Jesus which in his humanity reveals to us the Heart of God, the Heart of the Good Shepherd who approaches the poor, the suffering and the marginalized ... it involves participating in the love that is always communicated, always communicates and which, if received by the beloved, always gives life, makes it grow and educates in the sense of the Latin educere which means to bring out what is best in the being human".
The message notes that "this encounter with Christ sets in motion a process of conversion, formation and transformation or, better still, of 'Christification' which lasts a lifetime and which must touch the heart". The Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, on the path of initial and ongoing formation, at personal and Institute level, are therefore called to "cultivate, deepen, contextualize" the spirituality of the Heart of Jesus, "so that our whole life always adheres more to the 'program' contained in our name".
Quoting Saint Daniele Comboni, who speaks of the Institute "as the Cenacle of Apostles, a luminous point that sends as many rays that shine, warm, and reveal together the nature of the Center from which they emanate", the message ends with the wish that "the Heart of Jesus is truly the Center of communication among all the confreres and that we can make fraternal communication an instrument for building bridges, for uniting and sharing the beauty of being brothers on a mission in a time marked by contrasts, division and indifference".
Catégories: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - "Each Salesian must feel 'one' with the people": 40 years of religious presence

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 10:57
Port Moresby - "Araimiri remains the place where the first missionaries planted the Salesian charism on Melanesian soil", writes Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB, Director of the Communications Office of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Salesian presence in Papua New Guinea in Araimiri, in the Province of the Gulf of Kerema, in PNG.
Animated by the motto "Honoring the past, celebrating the present, imagining the future", a solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Bishop of Kerema, Mgr. Peter Baquero. During his homily, the Bishop urged the congregation "to recognize the presence of God in Araimiri and above all to follow Don Bosco's teachings in all pastoral, social and educational activities".
"We wanted to thank the Lord, with joy and gratitude, for the gift, dedication and commitment of these four decades of Salesian presence in Araimiri", said Fr. Dominic Kachira sdb, present at the event. "The Covid-19 pandemic limited the preparations and the number of participants in the celebrations", added Fr. Pankaj Xalxo sdb, Rector of an institute started by the religious. After driving 7 hours to be present at the event, Sister Carmencita Rodriguez, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians , part of the Salesian Family, emphasized that "the anniversary provokes my missionary zeal".
Several Salesian priests were among those present, as well as other lay Salesian brothers, Salesian nuns, from Caritas, Canossians and missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, and lay members of the Salesian Family, alumni, students and friends.
On June 12, 1980, the first Salesian "missionary pioneers" arrived in Araimiri. Among them Fr. Valeriano Barbero, Fr. Rolando Fernandez and the Salesian coadjutor Joseph Kramar. In his personal sharing, Fr. Barbero wanted to remember that "each Salesian must not feel foreign but 'one' with the people", that is, he must cultivate a unity of human, cultural, spiritual and pastoral intent.
That arrival was the beginning of a new work of education and evangelization, carried out by the Salesians of Don Bosco together with many volunteers. Over the years, this seed has blossomed and spawned many works and institutions. In Arimiri the Salesians run a very well organized Secondary School, which provides families with quality education.
Traditionally well received and appreciated by the people, the Salesian mission is committed to the poor and marginalized, and offers a valuable service in the field of education and professional training. After several decades of flourishing development, on 23 December 2015 the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, officially erected the "Blessed Philip Rinaldi" Vice Province of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island, based in Port Moresby.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA - The violent dispute between India and China puts the "Asian pax" at risk

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 10:35
New Delhi - High tension between India and China in Kashmir: the first violent clash between the two armies for almost 50 years has triggered a "red alert" in the confrontation between the two Asian powers. On the night of June 15 in the Himalayas in the Galwan Valley, over 4 thousand meters high along the "Line of Actual Control" which marks the border between India and China, violent clashes between the soldiers of the two countries led to a still uncertain toll of over 80 Indian soldiers killed and some missing. Beijing has not provided details but, according to the Delhi Ministry of Defense, about 300 Chinese soldiers were reportedly injured or killed. The tough face-to-face began in May on the Himalayan peaks, which has always been the scene of tension for the Kashmir issue and for the never dormant border claims between India and China. Despite the declarations which, on both sides, claim to bring the matter within the context of a peaceful resolution of the dispute, through diplomatic channels, tension remains high. And it risks increasing also in the tense relations between Delhi and Islamabad, an ally of Beijing.
Behind the clash there are many factors that concern not only the borders in the disputed region of Kahsmir, but the confrontation between two great world powers. With Premier Narendra Modi, India broke up a free trade agreement between Asian countries in November 2019. We are talking about the "regional global economic partnership" proposed in the Indo-Pacific region by the ten states of Southeast Asia with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and India. Fear of the movement of cheap Chinese goods on the Indian market prompted Delhi to blow up the deal. The specter now returns, as the Indian analyst Barkha Dutt, author of "This Unquiet Land: Stories from India's Fault Lines", wrote on the "Washington Post", commenting on the border clashes: "India's trade deficit with China is 53 billion dollars ... it is suicidal to allow China to have free access to Indian markets and consumers, while it builds roads and infrastructure through the parts of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan".
In Pakistan, caution prevails but an editorial in the newspaper "The Dawn" of June 18 clarifies how they see it in Islamabad: "Unfortunately, India has a history of bullying its neighbors and tries to be a regional hegemonic actor. Pakistan has long stressed the need to address the Kashmir issue at the negotiating table, a position that India has arrogantly rejected".
A conflict between China and India does not, of course, only have regional consequences. If it touches neighbors like Pakistan, it is also part of the "big international game" and it is not difficult to understand how the United States can bring the matter back into the "cold war", especially commercial, with Beijing.
The incident is of concern across Asia, as Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore wrote in early June in the magazine Foreign Affairs: "Asia has thrived - he writes - because the 'American Pax' since the end of the Second World War has provided a favorable strategic context. But now, the troubled relationship between the United States and China raises profound questions about the future of Asia and the shape of the emerging international order".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - The pandemic does not stop initiatives to promote pilgrimages along the "Way of the Holy Family"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - ven, 19/06/2020 - 10:16
Minya - The pandemic crisis which is also hitting the Egyptian population does not stop the initiatives put in place by local and national political authorities to encourage the intensification of pilgrimages along the so-called "Way of the Holy Family", the itinerary which unites places crossed according to millenary traditions by Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus when they found refuge in Egypt to escape from the violence of Herod. In recent days, General Osama al Qadi, governor of the Province of Minya, announced the start of works to improve the access routes to the historic areas affected by the itinerary that are in the territories he manages. Starting from the area where the Church of the Holy Virgin is located in Jabal al-Tayr, considered one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities explicitly aim to enhance that place, traditionally linked to the permanence of the Holy Family in Egypt as a destination for international pilgrimages. Mohamed Sayed, mayor of the city of Samalut, was among the others who attended the operational meeting to plan the next works to upgrade local infrastructure as well as engineer Adel al Jundi, general director of international relations with the Tourism Development Authority and coordinator of the project to relaunch the path of the Holy Family.

For some time now, as documented by Fides , the Egyptian authorities have been committed to promoting the "Way of the Holy Family" also in tourism, which in its largest version touches 25 places, scattered in as many as 8 governorates. During the General Audience on Wednesday, October 4, Pope Francis welcomed the large Egyptian delegation who were in Rome to promote pilgrimages along the "The Way of Holy Family", in collaboration with L 'Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, institution of the Vicariate of Rome, organ of the Holy See.
Initiatives have also been put in place by the Egyptian authorities to include the "Way" of the Holy Family on the list of sites recognized as "World Heritage" by UNESCO.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Attacks on farmers are likely to lead us to hunger" denounces the Bishop of Awka

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 18/06/2020 - 13:49
Abuja - "Attacks by herdsmen against farmers are a severe threat capable of increasing hunger in the country" said His Exc. Mgr. Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, Bishop of Awka. "We all know the economic implication of not having farm produce, which is that the prices of food items will increase and hunger will become the order of the day for large sectors of the population", said Bishop Paulinus Chukwuemeka Ezeokafor, referring to the attacks on farmers .
"We condemn the killing and harassment of innocent citizens in their farms on some agro communities across the Country. Some farmers are now scared of going to their farms to avoid being murdered by killer herders", said Mgr. Ezeokafor on Sunday, June 14 while presiding Mass.
Mgr. Ezeokafor called on the Nigerian government to take appropriate measures to stop the massacres: "I appeal to the federal government to end all forms of killing of innocent citizens in the country, including those who work on farms to produce food for our people".
The Association of the South East Town Union, ASETU, had in the letter told the governors that "in the south-east and in other parts of Nigeria, we have witnessed the killings and rape of our people by herdsmen.. People are now afraid to farm in their interior farms in their ancestral land".
Last week over 260 people were killed in various attacks in Nigeria by both Boko Haram and gangs of armed herdsmen, mainly in the northern region.
According to the Security Tracker of Nigeria, which catalogs violent incidents caused by political and socio-economic grievances, the State of Borno, with 114 deaths, recorded the highest number of victims, followed by the State of Katsina, where 75 people were killed .
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Violence, pandemic, foreign interference: the nation without peace

Fides EN - www.fides.org - jeu, 18/06/2020 - 13:35
Bangui - An armed group has taken up arms again in the Central African Republic and is bringing back tension in the Bozoum region in the west of the Country. The emergency is added to the spread of the coronavirus and to the ever stronger interference of foreign nations in local politics and society. This is the picture traced to Fides by Father Aurelio Gazzera, a Carmelite who has been a missionary for years in Central Africa.
It is since 2013, when the Seleka militias brought down President François Bozizé, that the nation has been in strong instability. "Religion has been used in an instrumental way - continues Father Gazzera -. For militia leaders it is a useful means to incite the militiamen, almost all very young, poor and poorly educated, against their opponents. Coexistence, we can say without being denied, has been exacerbated by commanders and politicians. "
Pope Francis’ visit to Bangui in 2015 put a temporary stop to the violence. His presence led to a rapprochement of the parties in conflict and to more peace agreements. However, the signatures on the documents did not stop the violence.
"In recent days - the missionary continues - a group of rebels rejected the agreements of Khartoum and took up arms again. The militiamen attacked a military camp. We feared that they would try to plunder Bozoum. Luckily they did not get this far and the city was saved". These rebels are linked to the Peul ethnic shepherds. "The area of Bozoum - says Father Aurelio - is inhabited by farmers who with great effort cultivate the land around the villages. Periodically herds of grazing beasts invade their land destroying all or part of the crop. When farmers try to claim their rights, militants intervene in a spiral of violence that seems to be endless".
In this context, coronavirus is rapidly spreading. The cases have exceeded 1,950. "At the beginning of the epidemic - the missionary continues - the government immediately closed the airports, but they left the roads open, especially those that connect Central Africa and Cameroon . Contagions have probably spread from there. Health authorities have increased swabs, but the facilities are absolutely insufficient: 150 beds for Covid-19 across the country. Few".
The Catholic Church has activated an international solidarity network which, thanks to the Italian Caritas, the Italian Bishops' Conference and the US Caritas, has allowed the arrival of protective material and has encouraged the training of animators who are sent to the villages to raise awareness amnong the communities.
Foreign interference in the Country also continues. They are increasingly cumbersome presences in pursuit of mineral and natural riches. "Until a few weeks ago - concludes the Carmelite priest - in our area there were Chinese companies that extracted gold from the water. Then they left the area. The environmental damage caused by their action is still significant. For some time now there are also the Russians, protected by the mercenaries of the Wagner Group. They are increasingly strong and influential. They even support press campaigns against the European Union that had organized an airlift to bring aid. In Central Africa the situation remains very delicate and unstable".
Catégories: From the church

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