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AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo tests positive for coronavirus; cases are increasing in Africa

mer, 01/04/2020 - 13:35
Ouagadougou - Cardinal Philippe Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Cardinal himself announced it through a note from the Vicar General, Fr. Alfred Ouédraogo "We want to inform you that we received the results of the test from the Archbishop. The test is positive and His Eminence has been transferred to the former Les Genêts clinic", says the note. "The Cardinal asked to forward the information to the people of God. He asked to remain united in prayer for him, for all the other sick people and for those who take care of them", he added.
Cardinal Ouédraogo had been tested on the night of March 27-28 before going into self-isolation pending the results. Previously also His Exc. Mgr. Séraphin François Rouamba, Archbishop emeritus of Koupèla, had tested positive for Covid-19.
Burkina Faso has the largest documented coronavirus outbreak in West Africa, with 261 documented cases as of March 31, 32 recovered and 14 died. On March 18, the local Episcopal Conference adopted all the necessary measures to contain the coronavirus, according to what established by the civil authorities, suspending, in the whole national territory, all the celebrations and pastoral activities, urging the use of the media for the broadcast of Masses and other religious services.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Africa are: South Africa 1,353; Algeria 716; Egypt 710; Morocco 617; Tunisia 394: Burkina Faso 261; Cameroon 209; Ivory Coast 179; Senegal 175; Ghana 161; Mauritius 143; Nigeria 139; DRC 109.
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Appeal from Christian associations and communities: Opening of "health corridors" for Iran and the urgent need to stop sanctions

mer, 01/04/2020 - 13:16
Rome – The creation of a "health aid corridor" to bring essential medicines and medical supplies to Iran to combat the Coronavirus epidemic; immediate suspension of the economic sanctions affecting the Country, to allow the supply of all the goods useful to stem the health emergency: are the requests contained in an appeal signed in Italy by associations, Christian communities, individual personalities of culture and acronyms engaged in the protection of rights and humanitarian relief initiatives.
The appeal is addressed in particular "to the States least affected by the emergency", and is addressed for information to the Supreme Guide of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, to the President of the European Parliament Davide Sassoli and to the Head of the Italian State, President Sergio Mattarella. "It is well known that Iran, one of the Countries most affected by coronavirus", reads the text of the appeal sent to Agenzia Fides, "is unable to receive the essential medical aid to contain the epidemic, as they are still blocked by international sanctions".
The appeal stresses that access to medicines, medical equipment and treatment "is a fundamental human right enshrined in the United Nations Charter", and that "the International Court of Justice has established that all sanctions that violate the humanitarian activity must be suspended, and the free access of States to safeguards and resources designed to avert health crises and natural disasters must be authorized ". Everyone is asked for "proof of humanity, civilization, brotherhood and even intelligence", also considering the fact that "the epidemic in progress in Iran poses a serious threat not only to the Iranian people, but to all peoples of the region and for all humanity, which cannot be considered risk-free until the Iranian problem is resolved". The pandemic crisis, in fact, is making it clear to everyone that as long as only one outbreak remains active, "nobody will be able to consider themselves safe from the epidemic. It is therefore the moment to implement a strong solidarity and an active brotherhood among peoples".
The appeal is signed by the representatives of European Women For Human Rights. Among others, the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations, the Religions for Peace association, Cipax , the Romanian Fraternity led by Fr Luigi Verdi, the International Association Karol Wojtyla, the Islamic theologian Shahrzad Houshmand Zadeh, Professor Gianfranco Pasquino, the writer Paolo Rumiz, the Tevere Institute, the President of the UCID Catholic Union of Business Leaders) Gianluca Galletti, the writer and photographer Monika Bulay have joined the appeal.
In mid-March the letter that Iranian Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad had addressed to Pope Francis was made known, asking him to intervene to ensure that sanctions against Iran were lifted, especially that concerning medical care.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA - On Easter Sunday the consecration of Latin America to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to invoke the end of the pandemic

mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:42
Mexico City - The Presidency of the Latin American Episcopal Council , together with the Bishops of Mexico, on Easter Sunday, April 12, will celebrate at 12 noon , the Act of consecration of Latin America and the Caribbean to Our Lady of Guadalupe, "to invoke the end of the pandemic". As the President of CELAM, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, Archbishop of Trujillo, writes, "the present moment requires us, as Pastors, to see and listen to the afflictions of our peoples, to instill hope by looking at our Mother of Heaven". He therefore invites all the countries of the continent to join, through the media, the celebration to be held in the Mexican National Basilica. At noon on April 12, the bells of all the churches of Latin America and the Caribbean will ring, which will mark the beginning of the prayer of the missionary Rosary, offered for the health of the people of the five continents, followed by the resurrection Easter Mass which will conclude with the act of consecration to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Hospitals and Christian doctors at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus

mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:36
New Delhi - "Over 1,000 hospitals and 60,000 beds guaranteed by Christian institutes, hospitals and clinics are ready and equipped to provide medical care to Covid-19 patients. Christian communities in India are strongly and traditionally engaged in social works in the field of education, health care and assistance to the poor and needy": this is what Redemptorist Father Mathew Abraham, president of the Christian Coalition for Health and general director of the Catholic Health Association of India reports to Agenzia Fides .
Father Mathew Abraham expressed the coalition's full solidarity with the government to address the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that "Christians will work in the best possible way for the health and well-being of the nation's people in order to combat the pandemic" .
For days, Christian hospitals have re-organized their wards, staff, and health care equipment to address the challenges posed by the disease, and "are already working with local government health officials in this effort against this pandemic". In particular, those situated in remote areas "are preparing handmade masks or plastic coveralls as protective equipment for their health workers", it notes.
The coalition unites the health networks managed by various Christian denominations in India, and also makes use of the work of over 1,000 female doctor and about 50,000 Catholic nurse nuns.
A month ago, the Coalition launched an online "Help Desk" at its headquarters in Hyderabad to assist people under stress due to the coronavirus crisis, available on the website or www.coronacare.life.

Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Resignation of the Archbishop of Bloemfontein and appointment of the new Archbishop

mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:23
Vatican City - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bloemfontein , presented by His Exc .Mgr. Jabulani Adatus Nxumalo, O.M.I.
At the same time he appointed Archbishop of the same Metropolitan See His Exc. Mgr. Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.J., currently Bishop of the Diocese of Kokstad.
His Exc. Mgr. Zolile Peter Mpambani, S.C.I., was born on February 20, 1957, in Umlamli in the diocese of Aliwal. He made his religious profession in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on January 28, 1982. He studied Philosophy and Theology at the St. Joseph Major Seminary, in Cedara. He was ordained a priest on April 25, 1987.
Since his ordination he has carried out the following roles: 1987-1990: Parish vicar in the parish of Sterkspruit; 1990-1993: parish priest in Burgerdorp; 1994-1997: Master of the pre-novitiate of the S.C.I Province; 1998-2003: General Councilor for Africa and Madagascar of the Central Government of his Institute, in Rome; 2004-2005: Sabbatical Year; 2005-2010: Master of the pre-novitiate, Local Superior of the Community in Bethulie and Director of the Dehonian House, in Scottsville ; 2011-2013: Ministry in the parish of Sterkspruit, in the diocese of Aliwal; From February to May 2013: Provincial Superior in the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of South Africa.
Appointed Bishop of Kokstad on May 6, 2013, he received the Episcopal Consecration on August 3. He holds the Office for formation, life and apostolate of the laity within the Episcopal Conference of Southern Africa.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "Hope and support" of the Episcopate for the one-month humanitarian truce of ELN

mer, 01/04/2020 - 12:10
Bogota - "A hope of relief for the Colombian people, especially for those who suffer the consequences of the armed conflict more severely": with these words the Bishops of Colombia accepted the announcement of a one-month unilateral ceasefire, from April 1, of the National Liberation Army , for humanitarian reasons related to the pandemic.
In this hour of trial and great suffering for all Colombians, the Bishops call on "all illegal armed organizations to stop all attacks, acts of violence, kidnappings, threats and extortions, including verbal violence".
"We join the urgent appeal of Pope Francis and the appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations saying that the current health and social emergency requires stopping the dynamics of violence, in order to encourage humanitarian aid and the care of those who are in the most serious conditions of vulnerability. We extend this request for violence to end in families, since they are the first space in which the peace of society is cultivated".
In the declaration sent to Agenzia Fides, signed by the President, Vice-President and Secretary General of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, considering the current situation, we invite you to adopt the necessary changes for the common good, to overcome the difficulties "with responsibility , dialogue and unity of the nation". The Bishops conclude by expressing encouragement and support to the national government, so that it continues to work in order to create "spaces and scenarios for dialogue to continue the process of reconciliation, unity and peace in the country, with the support and commitment of all citizens".
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - Cardinal Tagle for global truce: Covid-19 emergency "can be an occasion for peace and reconciliation"

mer, 01/04/2020 - 11:36
Vatican City - "The appeal of the Secretary General of the United Nations for a global ceasefire is needed and opportune. That Pope Francis supported and repeated it makes the appeal truly prophetic. The COVID 19 emergency is called a ‘pandemia’, meaning, it affects all peoples and all nations. It therefore demands that all peoples and nations respond together to protect our common human family and ‘common home’.
The COVID 19 emergency urges all of us to help save lives. Our common foe is the infection, not other human beings. The proposed ceasefire reminds us that we must be protecting each other, not killing each other. And we hope that when the pandemic is over , that the ceasefire would continue as a way of life".
This is what Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said to Agenzia Fides, expressing full support regarding the appeal for global ceasefire, while the world faces the coronavirus pandemic.
"Every crisis situation - Cardinal Tagle argues - can become a kairòs, depending on the meaning that we see, the calling that we hear, and the action that we take. The present crisis has revealed many disturbing things to us. It is shameful that some countries have large reserves of weapons but lack medicines, masks and protective equipment. It is scandalous that a big portion of national budgets goes to arms but very little to efforts towards dialogue and reconciliation. It is unbelievable that some people in authority use the emergency for political and ethnic bashing, when the virus does not choose races and political persuasions.
This crisis could become a kairòs for peace and reconciliation if we, as one human family, have the humility to accept the folly of discrimination, prejudice, domination and violence and also the humility to choose acceptance, respect, compassion, service and peace".
Finally, the Prefect of the Missionary Dicastery thinks of all the populations who today in Asia, Africa and Latin America live in situations of violence, conflict, war: "It is not easy to say anything to people who suffer. Sometimes, silent presence speaks more to them. But I still want to say that the Church invites the victims of conflicts and wars especially in the poorer parts of the world to continue longing for and dreaming of peace. We Christians believe Jesus´ promise to be with us always as God´s peace, love and life. He is our hope. The Church invites all Christians and people of good will to promote peace through little and simple acts of caring or by a compassionate presence. To the tired and weary victims of wars I would like to say that their tears, pains and hopes will not be wasted. In God´s hands, the poor will re-educate consciences and re-direct human history ".
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Bishops: "concrete and immediate solutions" for problems aggravated by the pandemic

mer, 01/04/2020 - 11:22
Caracas - The Bishops gathered in the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela , have raised their voices in this time of world health emergency, expressing their concern about the serious situation that the country has already been experiencing for some time, in a document sent also to Agenzia Fides.
The Bishops declare: "It is no secret that today, in our country, many live in poverty; there is food, medicine shortage as well as other goods which are absolutely necessary for a healthy coexistence and for the functioning of the country . This situation is making Venezuelans suffer, especially the poorest, and poses an imminent danger of social violent explosions. National and local authorities have to deal with this before the situation further aggravates, with the consequences that no one would like to have and see. The national executive should not manage the situation only from a military and police perspective".
The Bishops therefore strongly emphasize: "What is urgent is special participation, the advice of qualified medical and scientific personnel, whatever their social and political status is. The Church has always suggested a participation of society to solve the serious problems of which Venezuela suffers".
The statement continues: "In order to solve the economic, political, administrative and social problems that already exist and that are now exacerbated by the pandemic quarantine, it is necessary that all the factors that interact in national life , start to dialogue. In this way, they can reach concrete and immediate solutions to face these problems, and even more during this health, economic and social emergency".
The text ends with an invitation to national unity and thanks the priests and ministers of the Church, together with the religious who accompany the suffering people. Finally, the Bishops ask for the blessing of Our Lady of Coromoto, patroness of Venezuela, for the health of the country. The document is signed by the Presidency of CEV.
Catégories: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Covid-19: even more dramatic situation for those living in war zones

mar, 31/03/2020 - 14:05
Rome - "Concerns are growing for communities living in war zones around the world, where access to basic health care is scarce and insufficient. The displaced people in these areas already suffer from the lack of drinking water, food and health services", underlines the Grand Hospitallier of the Order of Malta, Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, who asks for an answer to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in regions where medical systems are unable to cope with normal needs.
Present in many areas of conflict, from the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa, the Order of Malta points out that 25 African countries have already reported Covid-19 cases. The Order, which has many ongoing medical activities in about 30 African countries, is providing protective equipment to its medical teams so that they can continue to work at the service of local communities.
Father Gérard, founder and president of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gerardo, in Mandeni in South Africa, one of the poorest areas in the world, warns of a possible tsunami. Out of 59 million inhabitants and the number of sick people is, at the moment, still low, but "we are facing a huge danger, our healthcare facilities are not capable of facing a similar situation, and the virus is spreading rapidly in the Country". According to the forecasts of the Minister of Health, 60-70% of the South African population will be infected with the virus.
Concerns are also multiplying about a possible Coronavirus outbreak in Syria, which has now entered the tenth year of the war. In the northwestern province of Idlib alone, nearly one million people have fled their homes in the past year due to continuing violence. Many live in overcrowded settlements, where hygiene and sanitation conditions are very poor. "The situation in Northwest Syria was already very fragile before the Coronavirus epidemic, now with almost one million new internally displaced persons on the move, a rapid spread of the virus would have consequences beyond imagination. The health system is not able to deal with the consequences of war", says Janine Janine Lietmeyer, Middle East Team Leader of Malteser International, the Order of Malta's international relief agency.
The concerns also apply to other countries that are experiencing humanitarian crises due to civil wars, poverty and political unrest. Jelena Kaifenheim, regional manager of Malteser International for the Americas, says: "Severe quarantine measures in Colombia have created additional needs. The situation it is now dramatic, especially for Venezuelan refugees and local populations, who survive with humble jobs and who are now struggling to feed themselves". Most of them do not have access to water, soap, health services and do not have the basic conditions to comply with the quarantine rules.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cardinal Ambongo criticizes the postponement of the blockade in Kinshasa: "One must not play with people's lives"

mar, 31/03/2020 - 13:53
Kinshasa - "In the face of the serious dangers posed to our Country by the coronavirus, the President of the Republic has taken preventive measures. In applying these measures, the governor of the province of Kinshasa had decided an intermittent blockade that should have entered in force today", said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa, during a press conference in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo held on March 28. “Last night , however, we learned that these measures have been postponed. This leaves people in complete uncertainty", said the Cardinal who warned "not to play with the life of our people, because life is sacred".
The governor of Kinshasa, Gentiny Ngobila, announced that the capital would go into "total lockdown" for three weeks starting from March 28, due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. But on March 27, the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced that the three week lockdown will be postponed with immediate effect due to the fear of speculation on the prices of basic necessities and for the fear of the increase regarding insecurity in the city.
On March 23, President Félix Tshisekedi declared a state of emergency with immediate effect, closing the country's borders, prohibiting the movement of people, entering and leaving, but authorizing the entry of goods transported by truck, ship and cargo aircraft.
Cardinal Ambongo said he was in favor of a total blockade: "In our opinion, only a total blockade is able to slow down the spread of this terrible epidemic". "However - he added - in order for this total blockade to be truly effective, it must be accompanied by emergency humanitarian measures, that is, make basic food available to the least privileged, provide free water and electricity and fight speculation on prices". The Democratic Republic of Congo has at least 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 5 reported deaths.

Catégories: From the church

ASIA/MIDDLE EAST - Pandemic crisis, Pax Christi urges Trump: to suspend sanctions against Iran, Syria and Gaza

mar, 31/03/2020 - 13:35
Brussels - The pandemic crisis caused by the coronavirus makes it even more urgent and necessary to suspend the economic sanctions imposed by the US Administration against Iran, Syria and the Gaza Strip, which contribute to sow suffering and poverty among the populations in those areas. This is the appeal launched by Pax Christi International in an open letter addressed directly to US President Donald Trump, made known on Monday 30 March.
The Catholic organization, with its headquarters in Brussels, points out in its message that these regions affected by US economic sanctions are already suffering desperate shortages of food, clean water and medical supplies and if sanctions continue the impact of the pandemic will be devastating.
"As an international Catholic network with 120 member organizations around the world, we are hearing directly from our partners that daily life for people was already tenuous for many in places such as Iran, Syria, and Gaza and these realities have only become more difficult as a result of COVID-19".
Pax Christi asks Trump to ease and suspend sanctions that negatively impact civilian populations and other restrictions that impair governments' abilities to respond to the health crisis.
The US President , on Friday 20 March, joined Vice-President Mike Pence at a "prayer conference call" organized by 700 evangelical pastors to invoke the strength to overcome the coronavirus epidemic.
The punitive measures imposed by U.S. sanctions against the governments of those areas - Pax Christi's appeal points out - also include financial sanctions that seriously affect the ability of countries to import supplies and medical equipment necessary to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.
The document sent by Pax Christi also goes into the specifics of individual emergency situations. Regarding Iran, it is recalled that the coronavirus epidemic has already had "a devastating effect" in the Country. Long preceding the current crisis, sanctions have caused a shortage of medicines, medical supplies and equipment in Iran.
It is recognized that some steps have already been taken, including allowing humanitarian trade with the Central Bank of Iran. But US sanctions are so sweeping that they impact Iran's entire economy, have made banks unwilling to carry out humanitarian transactions, and make it difficult for other countries to carry out transactions without triggering secondary sanctions.
As regards to Syria, reference is made to the "potential" consequences that the epidemic could have in a Country where 11 million inhabitants need humanitarian assistance to survive. And where the imposition of radical sanctions makes the purchase of medicines and medical supplies difficult, in a country where even the health system has been devastated by years of conflict. In Gaza - reports Pax Christi - the strict Israeli blockade of Gaza has already made conditions "unlivable" for the residents of Gaza, apart from COVID-19. The UN and other international agencies have repeatedly called attention to shortages of key medicines and medical supplies.
Population density, broken water and sanitation systems, and a under resourced medical system leave Gaza vulnerable to an uncontrolled COVID-19 outbreak that could also negatively impact Israel. The US should immediately press Israel to ensure that medical supplies and technology are provided to Gaza, that patients needing treatment outside of Gaza are given the permits necessary for extended periods of treatment, and that family members, especially parents accompanying children, are also granted permits to travel.
Pax Christi's message, signed by all leaders - starting from President Marc Stenger, bishop of Troyes -, by members of the International Council and by national groups , ends with the promise to pray for wisdom and the compassion of President Trump, "in these difficult times." .
Catégories: From the church

ASIA PAKISTAN - Capuchin friars: special prayer and solidarity for Italy, affected by covid-19

mar, 31/03/2020 - 13:16
Lahore - "We express deep concern and solidarity for the terrible situation in Italy due to the deadly attack of the coronavirus. We extend our heartfelt condolences to all the families who have lost their loved ones in recent days. We pray for all the victims who are still in hospitals and homes, in Italy, Pakistan and around the world. We pray for doctors, medical and paramedical staff: may the Almighty God preserve them and give wisdom and faith to continue to serve the sick population": says to Agenzia Fides Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, at the head of the "Mariam Siddeeqa" Capuchin Custody Pakistan, a nation where Covid-19 records over 1600 infected and the government has imposed a total "lockdown", following the example of China and Italy, in order to control the spread of the virus.
All religious activities have also been suspended. In recent days the friars called for a special prayer dedicated to Italy: "Our prayers - notes Fr. Nadeem - are for Italian citizens who suffer and for all priests, friars and nuns who are cultivating the seed of faith and preaching the Word of God, offering solidarity and service to the poor. May Almighty God protect all the faithful in the world from this monstrous virus and eliminate it immediately".
The special "holy hour" lived by the community of friars of the "Mariam Siddeeqa" was led by the Custos, Fr- Francis Nadeem, and was held at St. Francis Friary, Kot Lakhpat Lahore. All the participants offered prayers for the people of entire world and specially for Italy, Iran, Spain, Belgium, USA, UK and China where number of deceased and infected people are very high.
On this occasion the friars remembered and offered prayers for two deceased friars; one from Venezia Province, Br. Giampiero Vignandel, who died in Trento where he ministered in particular at a local soup kitchen for the poor; another was Br. Luis Gabriel Carillo, of the Custody of Ecuador, who died in Madrid where he was attending the course on Franciscanism . The Custos appealed families of the Christian faithful in Pakistan "to continue prayers in their homes" and assured that "we all will continue holding such prayer gatherings till the end of this pandemic".
Fr. Francis Nadeem, who is also Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism , also oversaw the dissemination of an information booklet on the coronavirus, distributed to all religious communities. The Commission has invited the faithful of all religions to pray daily in homes, mosques, churches, temples to ask for the elimination of the virus. Religious leaders, he says, "also in this emergency phase give their contribution to the good and prosperity of the nation".

Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Solidarity, the strength to overcome the health emergency

mar, 31/03/2020 - 12:58
Lima - The situation of "semi paralysis" of the economy of many countries, following the global health emergency, is leading on the one hand to see pictures of extreme poverty and on the other hand, the organized solidarity of many Catholic communities in the world. One of these cases is in Peru, where several dioceses have organized themselves to materially help those who have nothing at all.
The diocese of Chosica, reads the note sent to Fides by the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, concerned about the most vulnerable families who cannot obtain food during this quarantine due to the coronavirus, has prepared packages with food and non-perishable products for the needy in the districts of San Juan de Lurigancho, Santa Anita, Ate-Vitarte, Huaycán, Chaclacayo, Chosica, Santa Eulalia, Matucana, among other areas belonging to the diocese. Donations are delivered, through parish priests, to every home of families living in extreme poverty.
In the diocese of Lurín, around 50 parishes have come together to help the most needy populations in southern Lima who have been most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The general secretary of Cáritas Lurín, Fr. Omar Sánchez Portillo, invited the community to help the poorest Peruvians in a concrete way. The campaign began on March 19 and since March 27, 18,000 baskets have been delivered to families living in southern Lima, as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID -19 in the country.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Indiscriminate attacks on villages: religious conflict fomented

mar, 31/03/2020 - 12:51
Maputo - Whether they are jihadists or simple bandits, nobody knows exactly. The only thing that is sure is that the attacks on the villages and towns of Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique, continue unabated. More and more violent. "According to international media, the attacks are carried out by Islamists linked to ISIS" – explain some missionaries who live on the spot and who, for security reasons, want to remain anonymous, to Agenzia Fides, but nobody knows exactly who they are. "Some say young locals. Some militiamen captured by the police have confessed to having joined the group because they were offered money. Certainly there are also foreigners: Tanzanians or Mozambicans who have been to Tanzania and have returned. For this reason, the law enforcement officials have tightened border controls".
Local Muslims - our sources continue - have never shown violent or intolerant attitudes. Islam has merged with local culture and has given rise to an open and tolerant faith. Relations between Christians and Muslims have always been friendly. "There is great mutual respect, full tolerance. We work and live together in serenity", the missionaries continue. "The first victims of these attacks are Muslims. So much so that the Islamic community is terrified. But even Christians are afraid of being victims of these senseless assaults".
In the last two assaults carried out last week, one at the police headquarters in the city of Quissanga, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and the other at the Defense and Security Forces barracks in Mocimboa da Praia, the militiamen apparently hoisted the black flag of the Caliphate. Doubts remain about a war with a religious background or that wants to use the religious factor to forment violence.
The attacks began in October 2017 and since then there have been between 350 and 700 victims. The violence forced 150,000 people to leave their homes and caused a cholera epidemic that killed at least 20 people. "The latest attacks were very well planned – Fides sources point out - the government structures have been burnt in a systematic way. The religious nature emerged only recently. In Mozambique it is thought that there are particular interests that are hidden behind religious coverage".
The area is very rich. In Palma, there is one of the largest natural gas deposits on the planet. At 350 kilometers South-West, on the other hand, there is the largest deposit of rubies and other precious stones in the world. Two treasures that Maputo must absolutely defend to protect its future.
The government sent numerous military and police forces to the scene, but that was not enough. Recently the executive asked for Russia's help. The Wagner Group arrived on the scene, mercenaries already active in Libya and in the Central African Republic . The risk is that a new internal conflict opens up which could lead to a new humanitarian crisis.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA - African Catholics without church, sacraments and priests for covid-19: it is also an opportunity for growth

mar, 31/03/2020 - 12:39
Kara - After the outbreak of the health crisis due to COVID-19, drastic measures have been taken by the governments of many African countries, with the closure of structures and isolation; on the other hand, the African Bishops' Conferences have ordered the closure of the churches and the suspension of the sacraments. In Africa many Catholic Christians are still unable to find themselves in this new reality and especially in this dynamic of spiritual communion: "It is a new difficult journey to live! This virus, an 'intrusion', in the world of Catholic Christians who have to face their new reality, is still difficult to adapt to", explains Fr. Donald Zagore, Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions.
"There are those who try to build a domestic church, organizing family prayer with their own means; those who suffer because they cannot pray within the family, too accustomed and too attached to the pastoral services offered by the Church", highlights Zagore. "It is really difficult today for the African faithful to conceive a faith without a church, without sacraments and above all without priests. If so far they have been guided by well-established structures such as the Church, the hierarchy, the sacraments, today they must find a way to stand on their own feet. This emergency also represents an opportunity for growth for our Christians and for greater responsibility for their faith. I am sure that the African Church will become stronger with stronger Catholic Christians", concludes the missionary.
Catégories: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - In a plane with the ostensory or with the statue of the Virgin Mary to bless the Brazilians during the pandemic

mar, 31/03/2020 - 12:27
Goiania – In order to invoke the health and protection of the people of God, after the blessing imparted by Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi on Friday, March 27, from St. Peter's Square, some dioceses in Brazil promoted particular initiatives to bless the faithful, invite to prayer and show closeness even in this period of isolation due to covid 19.
In Goiânia, Archbishop Washington Cruz flew over the capital and metropolitan region with the Blessed Sacrament: "Jesus Christ, resurrection and life, make us strong in faith and grant us the gift of healing, the gift of overcoming this pandemic", he said in a video released by the CNBB. The Archbishop commented his experience with these words: "It was an experience of my smallness, of my nothingness. It was Jesus the Sacrament who flew over Goiânia. I was just an instrument that carried it.
It was He who certainly blessed Goiânia, the surroundings, the archdiocese, Brazil and the whole world".
In Belém the pilgrim image of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, patroness of the state of Pará and considered Queen of the Amazon, was transported by helicopter, by the rector of the Marian Basilica, Father Luiz Carlos Maria Gonçalves, and by some faithful who prayed with the Rosary "pleading for the blessings and protection of the Virgin of Nazaré", according to a video shared on social networks. The Archbishop of Belém, Alberto Taveira Corrêa, said it was a very positive experience, "which helped many people to feel the protection of Our Lady in this very difficult period". "I hope many other initiatives - he added - will help us fight with the most powerful weapons we have: prayer, penance, fasting, charity, which are the weapons of Lent and which can help us overcome this challenge".
Yesterday, March 30, the archdiocese of São Luís was flown over by the image of Nossa Senhora da Vitória, patron saint of the city and to whom the metropolitan cathedral is dedicated, invoking her intercession so that "God frees us from the evil that afflicts Brazil and the world". Parish priest of the cathedral, Father Roney Rocha Carvalho on board, and during the trip, all the faithful were invited to pray the rosary, "thus forming a large prayer chain in the city".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Covid-19: the Jesuits open a psychological support center

lun, 30/03/2020 - 14:27
Abidjan - Faced with the spread of coronavirus and its psychosocial impact on the population, Fr. Jean Messingue, specialist in clinical psychology and director of ITCJ, the theology institute of the Society of Jesus in Abidjan, in collaboration with Professor Médard Koua, director of the Bouaké psychiatric hospital, has opened a listening and telephone assistance center.
As reported to Fides, the Center "aims to strengthen the psychological support systems for people who feel the need to find adequate answers to their emotional suffering and the threats that the coronavirus poses to them", says Fr. Messingue.
Three phone lines are open 24 hours a day, after which two teams of volunteers try to provide the necessary assistance. One is made up of professionals from the Bouaké psychiatric hospital and the other by 25 students from Copac, the Center for professional advice and clinical pastoral care created by ITCJ.
"These students have already followed the certification course", assures Father Jean Messingue. "A preparatory phase has been carried out on psychosocial crisis intervention and each student carries out an oral test. Professor Koua and I coordinate and supervise telephone interventions".
The services are free and it is Copac and the Bouaké psychiatric hospital that assume the financial expenses necessary to start and implement the project. Given that telephone lines are not toll-free numbers, "unfortunately those who call must have sufficient credit to hold on average a 30-minute interview", said Fr. Messingue. Since its opening on March 23, the telephone psychological support center has received dozens of calls from people seeking psychological assistance.
Catégories: From the church

VATICAN - Pope Francis re-launches the UN appeal: all conflicts should stop in the face of the pandemic

lun, 30/03/2020 - 14:22
Rome - The planetary emergency of the coronavirus pandemic, "which knows no borders", makes more urgent than ever a "global and immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world". This is the appeal launched by Pope Francis in particular to those responsible for the nations and parties involved in conflicts around the world, at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer on Sunday 29 March in the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Bishop of Rome referred to the appeal launched in recent days by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, inviting everyone "to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability. May the joint fight against the pandemic" the Pope hoped "bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family", and to take note that "conflicts are not resolved through war", and "antagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace".
According to Father Qaisar Feroz OFM cap, Executive Secretary of the Communications Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, Pope Francis' support for the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire represents the most suitable "compassionate response" to the present moment, and the war against Coronavirus should also erase "all political wars; cold wars, biological wars, economic wars. This is a time to save humanity, and I hope that also in Pakistan all opposition parties, including all Islamic groups, respect and support the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire by following the necessary measures taken by the Pakistani government, taking into account that over 25% of the population lives below poverty".
Even the Jesuit, Cedric Prakash, of the "Prashant" Center and Ahmedabad , hopes that the appeal re-launched by Pope Francis will not be ignored by world leaders". The ceasefire implored by Pope Francis – says Father Cedric Prakash to Agenzia Fides - is "the wisest thing to do right now", in order to ensure that "all hostilities everywhere cease immediately and without conditions, and that all men and women come together in a spirit of unity, harmony and tolerance, trying to win Covid 19 once and for all".
In recent days, António Guterres' appeal has been joined by the parties involved in different war scenarios around the world. In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces have said they are willing to suspend any military action in the north east of the country. In Yemen, devastated by five years of war, UN envoy Martin Griffith has announced "positive responses" from both the Houthi rebels and the governmental forces regarding a "humanitarian truce" to be put in place, to better combat the danger of the pandemic.
In Africa, the leaders of one of the main separatist militias operating in Cameroon gave their willingness to a two-week ceasefire, from March 29 to April 12, to promote pandemic prevention initiatives. A message of adhesion to Guterres' appeal was also expressed by the Communist Party of the Philippines, jointly with that of the government in Manila.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Fighting Covid-19: prayer, solidarity, hope

lun, 30/03/2020 - 13:42
New Delhi - Christian faithful in India are committed to serving the nation in this moment of crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. "In India, the lockdown of almost a month represents a challenge, on a social, economic and medical level. The situation is more serious for the poor, the homeless, the tribals, the Dalits and religious minority groups whose life, even in normal times, is difficult. At the moment, no specific guidelines or economic packages have been announced to guarantee survival", says the "Evangelical Fellowship of India" , an organization that brings together 65 thousand Christian communities across the Indian territory, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides. "Many migrant workers have been blocked in their workplaces. There is no transport home, no wages to buy food and no shelter", notes the organization, making an appeal to the authorities to "act with empathy".
Today the Christian community in India, it says, "takes on the responsibility of guiding the nation in hope and spiritual strength in the fight against the threats of covid-19. The coincidence of this crisis with the Lent season is an opportunity to unite forces with the authorities in this common struggle".
Yesterday, March 29, 2020, the faithful experienced a special day of prayer and fasting for India. "History tells us that the Church has been at the forefront of serving society during the pandemic. Alongside our prayers there is a commitment to be promoters of hope and to alleviate the suffering that surrounds us, both for material and psychological needs".
Many members of the Christian communities have "taken care" of the poor and needy in the communities: young people contact the elderly and people who need help, near their homes, helping them to get the necessary food and materials. Numerous Christian-run institutions such as schools, colleges, hostels, seminaries and churches in various cities are making the premises available as places of refuge for migrant workers or people in need, while all Christian hospitals and clinics are already offering a valuable contribution in the care of the sick. "We are confident that local city authorities will appreciate this help", notes EFI.
Also at food safety level, some Christian communities and associations intend to prepare food and pack it in disposable containers, distributing it to the homeless or needy people.
Finally, "the lockdown can also be a blessed moment for families, to strengthen the human and spiritual bond within each family", it says. "We welcome this time as a gift from God in the awareness that even if the building of worship is closed, the Church can never be closed: wherever we are, we are the Church of God", concludes the organization.
Evangelical Fellowship of India , founded in 1951, is the national alliance that includes over 54 Protestant denominations for a total of 65,000 communities spread across India, as well as 200 charitable missionary agencies and organizations.
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - "The police are too brutal in applying coronavirus containment measures" denounce "Justice and Peace"

lun, 30/03/2020 - 13:29
Nairobi - "The actions by law enforcement officers yesterday across the Country especially in Mombasa are unacceptable. The brutal acts only adds more injury to the people who are already vulnerable, this further exposes the vast majority to the risk of spreading and contracting the virus, including security forces", reports the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops - Justice and Peace Commission in a press statement on government measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus.
"Justice and Peace" thanks the government "for all the measures it has taken which include; timely information to the public on preventive measures, closing of borders, making available isolation centres and the latest being the enforcement of curfew from dusk to dawn. But adds that it has learned "with disbelief, media reports of security officers’ brutality and harassment on members of the public in the enforcement of the Presidential directives". In particular "we witnessed with shock, as vulnerable members of the society such as women, children and also some critical actors such as journalists and food suppliers being equally harassed by security officers".
"We reiterate that Human dignity and sanctity of life is a value which must be upheld at all times. Let us be our Brothers’ and Sisters’ keeper and stand in solidarity with humanity as we strive to contain the spread of Covid-19", continues the statement sent to Fides.
"Coronavirus spread will only be defeated through collaboration and adherence to the required measures. Let us avoid blame games and concentrate more on what can enable us return to our daily routine in the shortest time possible. We continue praying that God may help us come out of this pandemic", concludes Justice and Peace.
Catégories: From the church

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