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AFRICA/MALI - Appointment of the Bishop of Mopti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catégories: From the church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catégories: From the church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - COVID-19: Catholic radio stations mobilized to allow the faithful to follow Mass from home

mer, 25/03/2020 - 13:46
Abidjan - The Bishops of the Ivory Coast in their statement of 17 March on coronavirus protection measures had given the faithful a series of recommendations, such as the ban on gathering more than 50 people, and the suspension of the Via Crucis, pilgrimages and catechesis . As for the Eucharistic celebrations, the Bishops’ Conference has proposed that each diocese organize them responsibly in accordance with the standards set by the government in fighting COVID-19.
To meet the spiritual needs of the faithful, the Bishops have asked the Catholic media to broadcast Masses and other devotions. Following this recommendation, Radio Nationale Catholique de Côte d’Ivoire has made arrangements to allow the faithful to live Mass every day.
"We have established links with some of the priests so that Mass will be broadcast every day at 6.15 am, 12 pm and 6 pm, while Sunday Masses will be broadcast live on Sunday at 7 am, 9 am and 11 am", said Fr. Emile Vangah, Director General of the RNC. The broadcaster will also offer to its users the listening of spiritual devotions, Via Crucis and a novena of prayer.
"In addition to this, we propose a novena prayer that we have called 'Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes for the Health of the Sick' because we think and believe that the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes can help the sick". The novena will be held from April 1st until April 8th.
Also other Catholic media offer Masses to the faithful to continue to nourish their faith.
To limit the spread of the Coronavirus, the Ivorian government adopted 13 measures on March 16; among these, the suspension for a period of 15 days starting from March 16, of the entry into the country of non-Ivorian travelers from countries with over 100 confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease, the closure of all pre-school, primary, junior and secondary education institutions for a period of 30 days, the ban on gatherings of over 50 people.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - "May Mary protect the world". Christians and Muslims pray together on the feast of the Annunciation

mer, 25/03/2020 - 13:32
Beirut - This year, Lebanese Christians and Muslims will not be able to meet in squares and churches to venerate the Virgin Mary together on the Marian solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, proclaimed since 2010 as a national holiday in the Country of Cedars. The provisions issued by political and religious institutions to curb the coronavirus pandemic entail the cancellation of any event involving gatherings of people. For this reason, an initiative spontaneously took shape to celebrate the Virgin Mary in the conditions of restriction and isolation in which the Lebanese population finds itself living at the time of the pandemic: Christians and Muslims, each in their own home, will be able to recite together a prayer to the Virgin throughout the country through social networks by the Aydan Foundation, the well-known association that promotes dialogue and religious pluralism inaugurated in 2007 by the priest Fadi Daou. "On the occasion of the feast of the Annunciation, and given the health restrictions" reads the message released by Aydan "let us all recite the Islamic-Christian prayer dedicated to the Virgin from the balconies, with candles lit at 7 pm".
It is a prayer composed specifically for the 2020 Annunciation Day, which sees the whole world afflicted by the coronavirus pandemic. The prayer invokes God the Lord of Creation and of humanity, who "chose the Virgin Mary" and "preferred her among all the women of the world", sending the angel "who brought her the announcement that we today celebrate together, Christians and Muslims". The prayer implores God "almighty and merciful", who loves "all the people" and gave everyone "the gift of life" to save us "from the risk of this pandemic" and to help everyone find in the Virgin "a model for our lives, to be followed in order to nourish sharing in times of tribulation, relying on her providence so as not to "give in to fear or one's own presumption". In the text of the prayer, God is also invoked as "He who helps" , imploring him to help the sick, doctors and health operators who treat the victims of the pandemic.
In Lebanon, today's Marian solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord has been proclaimed a National Day since 2010. In recent years there have been many initiatives in which Christians and Muslims share together, on the occasion of this feast, acts of veneration towards the Virgin Mary. Sunni Sheikh Mohamad Nokkari, who teaches in the faculty of law in Beirut, Dubai and Strasbourg, wanted to further national reconciliation and inter-communal friendship, by raising the profile of the Virgin Mary, who is a point of reference for both Christians and Muslims . The choice of date to have Christians and Muslims celebrate Mary fell on the feast of the Annunciation, also because the Annunciation of the Angel to Mary is narrated both in the Gospel and in the Koran. Mary is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran 34 times .
The first Islamic-Christian celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation was hosted in the Lebanese sanctuary of Our Lady of Jamhour, in 2007.
Political leaders were impressed by the initiative, and in 2010 Prime Minister Saad Hariri, proclaimed March 25 a national holiday, the day on which the Annunciation is celebrated.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Christians in India: helping the poorest during the complete lockdown of the nation because of Covid-19

mer, 25/03/2020 - 12:56
New Delhi - It is urgent to take care of the poorest during the 21 days of total lockdown of the nation, imposed by the government until April 14, as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. Christian lay people say this following the announcement of the prime minister, Narendra Modi: for the next 21 days, 1, 3 billion Indian citizens, almost a fifth of the world population should "forget what it means to go out". The order to stay home for three weeks aims to prevent a public health disaster, he said, while as of March 25, the number of coronavirus cases has reached more than 469 infections and 11 deaths.
The government has already introduced rigorous measures to curb the local spread of the disease in a country where millions of citizens live in densely populated conditions with poor sanitation. There are currently only 40,000 respiratory supports in India. Over 1.8 million people across the country are being monitored because they have shown symptoms of the disease, or have been exposed to confirmed cases. It is feared that the low numbers of the infection are related to the lack of tests, given that only 17,000 swabs have been carried out so far. According to experts, the virus is widespread in almost all the states of India. "If we are unable to manage this pandemic in the next 21 days, the country and your family will be 21 years behind. If we are unable to manage the next 21 days, many families will be destroyed forever", said Modi in his message.
The lockdown will have a devastating impact on the 300 million Indians who live below the poverty line and survive on daily earnings. The Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has promised the adoption of a specific aid package, aimed at those most in need.
In this context, Christians have appealed to the government to take care of the needs of the poor. "The lockdown is necessary, but it is unclear how the poor, the marginalized, will survive the day. Millions of poor people do not have refrigerators to store food. How will those families survive? How will they buy food and where will they buy it?" Mathew George, a Christian leader, tells Fides. George suggests activating a network of organizations to cater for the needs of destitute people, migrants, day laborers.
Father Augustine Singh of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar in the state of Orissa, in eastern India, points out to Fides: "These measures are for the well-being of the nation. We must cooperate and persevere. So, we have decided to stay home". And Michael Pereira, a lay Catholic, declares: "Now is a critical moment for our nation, we can pray from home, but avoiding the spread of this pandemic is of extreme priority. Let us all pray to the Lord to end the spread of the virus".
Sima Ranjit, a Catholic lawyer, adds: "The concern above all regards the survival for thousands of poor people and for those who live alone at home".
Catégories: From the church

AFRICA/DJIBOUTI - COVID-19 - The Bishop of Djibouti: "courage to you in Rome and in Italy"

mer, 25/03/2020 - 12:32
Djibouti - "The enemy has arrived here in Djibouti: there are two confirmed cases," says Mgr. Giorgio Bertin, Bishop of Djibouti to Agenzia Fides.
"Our cathedral has been closed since last Saturday: only about ten of us who live inside the compound continue to celebrate Mass. We started broadcasting Masses on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday evening on Facebook, as well as the Via Crucis on Friday evening. The faithful have understood and appreciate the importance of these initiatives", continues the Bishop. "Unfortunately there are no volunteers for the service we offer with our Caritas Djibouti to street children and we have been forced to cut back on activities. Among the preventive measures ordered by local authorities, the airport was closed and the railway line to Ethiopia was interrupted. In addition, service staff deemed non-essential must be left at home, schools have been closed since last Friday. The mosques are also closed".
"The situation is not so tragic - adds Mgr. Bertin - but one has to be on guard. Courage to you in Rome and in Italy", he concludes.
The local Ministry of Health has set up a toll-free number to inform the population of the hygiene measures to be observed and to contact in case of need for a medical team. Every day the health authorities send a message on each local number with the prevention measures to be followed.
The civil and military health authorities have joined forces to strengthen health control at the arrival points and set up the Bouffard hospital for quarantine as well as a treatment center for serious cases in the hospital in Arta.
Catégories: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - The country is unprepared to face the Coronavirus crisis

mer, 25/03/2020 - 12:19
Kabul - "Afghanistan's health facilities are unable to deal with a pandemic like the Covid-19 pandemic. At the moment even the West is in difficulty, so we can only remotely imagine what could happen in a situation like the Afghan one: except for cities, medical equipment is lacking and it would be objectively difficult not only to apply, but also simply to communicate all the security measures that are currently being followed in Italy. It would be a challenge to be able to stop the life of a village and bring aid to it. I can hardly imagine Kabul being completely blocked". This is the comment released to Agenzia Fides by Barnabite Fr. Giuseppe Moretti, missionary in Afghanistan from 1990 to 2015, who assesses the consequences of a possible expansion of the Coronavirus infections in the Asian country.
To worsen the already precarious health situation, the Barnabite notes, there is the instability of the government, characterized by the dualism between elected president Ashraf Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah, both self-proclaimed winners of the last elections: "I wonder who will have to decide in a possible health crisis. The hope is that, faced with this problem, they can find a joint solution. We also hope that the Taliban have that minimum of humanity that allows the help and care of the sick".
Just a few days ago, the Taliban movement made it known that it will not hinder the access of staff from international organizations committed against the spread of Covid-19 in Afghanistan.
According to the World Health Organization, 34 people suffer from Coronavirus in Afghanistan. The latest cases concern two diplomats and four Italian soldiers and there is news of the first case in the capital Kabul.
There is no awareness of the risk associated with the pandemic in the country. As 25-year-old leader of the environmental movement "Friday For Future - Afghanistan", Qais Murshid tells Fides, in fact, "the first Afghan cases probably came from Iran: the border is crossed daily by about 15 thousand people, but here many have not yet taken the problem seriously".
Catégories: From the church

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