AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The number of those involved in human trafficking and exploitation is increasing

Fides EN - - 2 ore 27 min fa
Buenos Aires - "Once again we face the very serious problem of human trafficking and exploitation", says the Bishops’ Commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants of Argentina in a message published for the "International Day of the fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women, girls and children and adolescents", on September 23rd.
The Bishops’ Commission states: "We are worried and committed, according to our possibilities, in these serious situations". In this regard, the Bishops consider it necessary that the rescued victims "receive medical, legal and psychological assistance, are protected from those who threaten or incite them to trafficking and sexual and labor exploitation, and recieve psychophysical assistance to rebuild their life and the right to privacy", concludes the text sent to Fides.
In Argentina the number of people involved in human trafficking increases more and more: the government has launched an information campaign to denounce many situations that end up throwing vulnerable people into slavery. The majority of cases begin with a false and fraudulent job offer, that end up in the criminal network of trafficking.
Even international organizations, such as Human Trafficking, have verified that in Argentina there is a strong criminal network in this sector. The last few years have shown a link between human trafficking and the increase in the flow of migrants. From the data collected by Fides it is observed that in Argentina a particular historical phenomenon is observed: while in 1914 90% of immigrants arrived from non-neighboring countries, almost all European, today, in the first decade of the XXI century, more than 81% of the immigrants are Americans and more than 84% come from neighboring countries.
The International Organization for Migration has reported an increase in cases of human trafficking, particularly in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. However, it is necessary to emphasize that not all situations of human trafficking should be associated with the phenomenon of migration.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Simplisio Manyika, O.Carm.

Fides EN - - 2 ore 50 min fa
Vatican City - On July 16, 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Simplisio Manyika, of the Carmelite Order as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Zimbabwe for five years .
The new National Director was born in Murewa on 19 June 1965. In 1989 he joined the Carmelites and was ordained a priest in 1998. He studied philosophy and theology at the Chishawasha major seminary in Harare ; Religious sciences at the University of Zimbabwe; Pastoral Studies at the Militown Institute in Dublin ; Pastoral leadership at All Hallows College in Dublin . He was assistant priest; director of postulants, novices and students; provincial superior of the Carmelites of Zimbabwe; prior, bursar and director of students. Since 2018 he was prior of the community and parish priest of the parish of St. Joseph in Hatfield.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro begin

Fides EN - - 3 ore 8 min fa
Yamoussoukro - "We will dedicate an entire year to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the basilica", said on Sunday 15 September 2019 Fr. Franck Sylvestre Allatin, rector of The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro. The Mass marked the official launch of the Basilica's 30th anniversary celebrations, centered on a year of spiritual and cultural initiatives that will end in September 2020.
Mgr. Alexis Touably Youlo, Bishop of Agboville and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro, who presided at the Eucharist, in his homily thanked the Lord who inspired the then President of the Ivory Coast, the late Félix Houphouët Boigny, to undertake the construction of the Basilica "a true bond between the sky and the Ivorian land".
The apostolic administrator emphasized that the Basilica with its architecture inspires the inhabitants of the Ivory Coast to rise above all the barriers that can divide them and place them against each other. Mgr. Youlo invited everyone to live in harmony and to overcome ethnic, political, religious or cultural differences.
Consecrated on 10 September 1990 by Pope John Paul II, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro is owned by the Holy See.
With an estimated total cost of 40 billion CFA francs, the building, financed by former President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, has now become a center of tourism and pilgrimage that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Father Luigi Maccalli: authentic missionary, hero of faith

Fides EN - - 3 ore 32 min fa
Kara - "There is no missionary activity without sacrifice and the ultimate gift of oneself. A missionary who does not give a free gift of his life for the fundamental cause of the Gospel cannot be called such. Father Luigi Maccalli, of the Society for African Missions, kidnapped in Niger on September 17th 2018, and many other missionaries in the world are the very principle of missionary activity". This is how Fr. Donald Zagore, Fr. Maccalli’s confrere, sees and lives the missionary spirit, recalling the abduction of Father Maccalli, who has been in the hands of kidnappers for a year.
"When a missionary offers his life and also dies to make the good news of the Gospel triumph, he becomes a hero of faith and mission. Fr. Luigi Maccalli is a hero of the mission", continues Zagore.
"The strongest and most difficult experiences, like the one currently being experienced by Fr. Gigi, far from creating fear and doubt, must open the spirit of the young generations to the fundamental truth of missionary commitment. Today - explains the Togolese missionary - the dynamics of sacrifice that fundamentally nourishes missionary activity is increasingly relegated to the background. Many are missionaries in name only, while in the concrete of daily life they remain confined to their comfort. Missionary life is not embraced to seek honor, power, glory. Missionary life means witnessing the Gospel and above all Christ who died and rose for the salvation of all, even at the risk of life. The sacrifice that Fr. Maccalli is offering is worthy of an authentic missionary. Our commitment is to continue praying so that his faith may become the instrument of conversion and repentance of his kidnappers. God also writes straight on the crooked lines of life", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/JORDAN - King Abdallah II donates a minibus to the home for orphans in Anjara, promoted by the religious family of the Incarnate Word

Fides EN - - 3 ore 43 min fa
Anjara – As from yesterday the House of the Virgin Mary of Hope in Anjara, created to welcome and care for orphaned children and young people or those who come from problematic family situations, can take advantage of a new minibus for its activities. The new means of transport to the Catholic institution was donated by King Abdallah II of Jordan. The House, promoted and managed by priests and nuns of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, is one of the 25 bodies - social solidarity bodies, assistance groups for the elderly and disabled, charitable organizations of civil society - to which the Court committee, for the implementation of the initiatives desired by the Sovereign, has assigned a means of collective transport.
Anjara is a town of about 20 thousand inhabitants located in the governorate of Ajlun, in northern Jordan. The new house of the "Virgin Mary Mother of Hope" was inaugurated in 2017, thanks also to the financial support of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Bishops: No to bills on divorce, anti-constitutional and anti-family

Fides EN - - 4 ore 15 min fa
Manila - - "Divorce is, first of all, unconstitutional, it is anti-family, anti-marriage and anti-children". This is what was stated in a message sent to Agenzia Fides by Father Jerome Secillano, executive Secretary of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines and in charge of public relations. The position taken by the Philippine Bishops, confirms their "No" to introduce divorce in the national legislation, and disprove the statements of Senator Riza Hontiveros who is conducting a public divorce campaign, defining a law in that sense "pro family and pro children". In a recent hearing in the Senate, Hontiveros said that a divorce law "will offer people the opportunity to find true and meaningful relationships", as well as "protect children from abuse and rebuild broken families".
The Bishops express their radical dissent, noting that "Senator Hontiveros’ statement contradicts the provisions of the 1987 Constitution", says Fr. Secillano.
"In this way do we perhaps mean that the Family Code and our Constitution are against marriage and against children, given that they do not allow divorce?", he asks. According to the spokesman, "divorce can never be pro-marriage, pro-family and pro-children. Do not twist facts about divorce just to suit a particular agenda". The Church's position is clear: "Legalizing divorce in the Philippines would only lead to the destruction of many families. Filipinos deserve better", the Bishops' spokesman said, asking instead legislators to "work to modify existing laws on marital separations" in a path that "respects the Constitution".
Currently there are three divorce bills pending: Senate Bill No. 67 - Recognizing the Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage"; Senate Bill Nos. 288 and 356 - Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines"; Senate Bill No. 504 - Recognizing the Civil Effects of Church Annulment Decree".
The second bill, which promotes the full legalization of divorce, presented by senators Riza Hontiveros and Pia Cayateno, seeks to go beyond psychological incapacity, lack of consent, incapability to bear children, among others, as the acceptable reason for annulment.
Christian communities of various denominations oppose the legalization of divorce in the Philippines. "Marriage is a sacrament and must be protected from any possible human intervention. Divorce is not the solution to human problems", lay Catholic Mary Christine Ortega, a mother of four, tells Fides.
The Philippine Constitution states that "marriage, an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State". The State, observes a document written by 77 Catholic organizations and sent to Fides, "has the task of protecting rather than weakening marriage as a social institution".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - The "Caminhada pela Paz" in Manaus recalls the 10 years of the assassination of Fr. Ruggero Ruvoletto

Fides EN - - 4 ore 53 min fa
Manaus – Fr. Ruggero Ruvoletto, a 52-year-old Italian Fidei donum missionary, was killed around 7 am on Saturday 19 September 2009, in his parish dedicated to the "Sagrado Corazon de Maria" in the barrio Santa Etelvina, a suburb of the Amazon capital of Manaus .
"Fr. Ruggero was killed in his room inside the rectory for having denounced drug trafficking and the lack of public security, problems that afflict the community - recalls the statement of the Archdiocese of Manaus sent to Agenzia Fides -. Today the place of his martyrdom has become a chapel. The liturgical vestments he used were placed in a glass bell, on display in this place".
"To honor him - continues the statement of the Archdiocese -, the community organizes the Caminhada pela Paz every year. The 2019 edition has the theme 'When the blood of an innocent is shed, God cries!' and the theme 'Mission in the Amazon: a cry for life and for peace!'. "The march will take place on Saturday 21 September, with the meeting at 4.00 pm in Terra do Cruzeiro, avenida 7 de Maio. From here we will head towards the church of Santo Antônio, recalling the importance of the Synod for the Amazon, and the themes of mission and vocation, evangelization, life and peace. The event will end with a Mass presided by the Auxiliary Bishop of Manaus, Bishop José Albuquerque.
The memory of Fr. Ruggero is always alive even in his Diocese of origin, Padua. On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death, the Bishop of Padua, Mgr. Claudio Cipolla, presided over a Mass in the cemetery of Vigonovo . On Saturday 26 October, at 8.30 pm, in the church of Galta, his native town, a concert-event will be held in his memory, with testimonies and readings on the Amazon.
Fr. Ruggero Ruvoletto was born in Galta di Vigonovo on March 23, 1957, in the province of Venice, diocese of Padua. He was ordained a priest in 1982. After studying ecclesiology in Rome, he returned to the diocese in August 1994, where he worked for about a year in social and pastoral work, and was then appointed Director of the Diocesan Missionary Center, a post he held from 1995 to 2003. On 6 July 2003 he left for Brazil, as a fidei donum missionary, in the Diocese of Itaguaì in Mangaratiba. The following year he took part in a missionary presence project on the outskirts of Manaus, wanted by the local dioceses. A border area between the city and the forest where crime is particularly aggressive.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - African religious leaders: "Immediately implement the peace agreement otherwise South Sudan will collapse back into war"

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 13:28
Juba - Members of the African Council of Religious Leaders have called for quick implementation of the September 2018 revitalized peace agreement on South Sudan.
"We are further troubled by the increasing criminal acts, human rights violations and political intolerance in several locations in South Sudan", they say in a statement published at the end of the meeting in Nairobi of the ACRL/RfP.
The Council of religious leaders makes a pressing appeal to the political leadership of South Sudan to put an end to the humanitarian crisis that upsets their country: "South Sudanese leaders have a moral obligation to their citizens to end the violence and ensure continued progress toward peace, stability and justice".
In September last year, warring factions in South Sudan signed a peace agreement to end the bloody civil war that broke out in December 2013 .
The power-sharing arrangements under the deal were supposed to take effect in May, but the process was delayed by six months until November as both sides disagreed on security arrangements.
"The failure to implement the agreement risks the country collapsing back into war and destruction and exacerbates the misery and hopelessness of the millions of South Sudanese forced to flee their homes because of war, including the almost 3 million refugees living in neighboring countries", underlines the statement sent to Fides.
The Council is co-chaired by Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyaken and Ugandan Supreme Muslim leader, Sheikh Ramadhan Shaban Mubaje.
On April 11, Pope Francis asked the political leaders of South Sudan to work for peace and the well-being of their people, at the end of the spiritual retreat, at Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarchs of the Middle East: the "Holy Valley" of Qadisha is the common heritage of all Christians

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 13:19
Diman - The "Holy Valley" of Qadisha represents a living heritage of spirituality and faith not only for Lebanese Christians but for Christians all over the world. For this reason the Lebanese political authorities and also the international organizations such as UNESCO are called to guard and promote this precious treasure in the Lebanese mountains, also helping to make the rocky sanctuaries scattered there more accessible to pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. The request was expressed by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, in the speech with which yesterday, Wednesday 18 September, he opened the Forum on the legacy of the Holy Valley, promoted in Diman by the Qannūbīn Association. During the inaugural session of the Conference, which was attended by several Patriarchs and Church leaders present in Lebanon, he underlined the ecumenical value of the initiative. During the conference proceedings, scholars of history, art and archeology in their reports will highlight the richness of the treasures of art and spirituality preserved in the Valley, also outlining projects to promote that territory in a suitable and "sustainable" way, also from a touristic point of view.
The Valley of Qadisha, in Lebanon, is a deep gorge created by the river with the same name. The most spectacular part of the gorge stretches for about 20 km between the villages of Tourza and Bsharreh, the birthplace of the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran.
The valley is famous for hosting, in addition to the remaining cedar forests of Lebanon, also numerous Christian monastic settlements among the most important in the Middle East. Already in the tenth century, groups of Maronite Christians from the Oronte valley, in the Syrian hinterland, had found refuge in the valley to escape the hostility of the Byzantines.
Among the most important monasteries in the valley are those of Daīr Qannūbīn, that of Daīr Mār Anṭūniūs Qozḥayā and finally Daīr Mār Elīsha. The area is also scattered with hermitages, chapels and caves used in the past by monks. The same Maronite Patriarchs lived for 400 years in the monasteries of the valley during the Ottoman era. In his speech, also Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrian Orthodox, expressed his hope that the historical presence of the monks of different ecclesial communities will increasingly foster fraternal collaboration among the various monastic communities, to enhance the Holy Valley as a living and vibrant place of Christian spirituality in the Middle East.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - "March of faith for Chiquitania": solidarity and prayer to defend the common home

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 13:00
Santa Cruz - "We do not own this earth, we are administrators of it and, therefore, we are called to guard and defend the earth, and we do so according to our faith, which is why we invite everyone to the 'March of Faith for Chiquitania', next Friday, 20 September, at 6.30 pm. The 'March of faith' is an initiative of solidarity and prayer to defend our common home", said Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Mgr. Sergio Gualberti, encouraging everyone to participate in this initiative.
The area of Chiquitania in Bolivia was one of the most affected by the fires in the last two months . Unfortunately "there are serious indications that behind this national and humanitarian disaster there is a decision to expand the agricultural frontier in Bolivia without taking into account the interests of the common home, nor the basic principles of ecological ethics, nor of indigenous peoples", stated Bishops’ text published on 11 September.
In his speech during yesterday's press conference, Archbishop Sergio Gualberti said that there is great concern: "We have heard the cry of the people of God, for these disastrous fires and the great consequences at an ecological level, and many other problems it is causing. This is why, as Christians, we cannot remain indifferent, we want to contribute with our voice, with our presence and what distinguishes us is the faith of the God of Life, in the God of creation, who wants a balance with all creation, wants human beings to take care of that gift he gave us".
The initiative of the March is not exclusively of Catholics, in fact during the press conference besides the Archbishop of Santa Cruz, there were also, as a sign of communion and brotherhood, also representatives of ecumenical Churches: Pastor Jorge Wills, of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia ; Father Hedra El Anba Boula, of the Coptic Orthodox Church; Leidy Muñoz, of the Central Committee of Mennonites, the religious María Susana Guzmán, episcopal delegate responsible for the education of Santa Cruz and Sister Mónica Canedo, of the Bolivian religious conference, along with Father Hugo Ara, vicar of Communication of Archdiocese.
A first report from the authorities of Santa Cruz informs that in Bolivia fires have destroyed 2 million hectares of land, of which 900,000 in protected areas. The material losses of the population have not yet been quantified, with an impressive number of dead animals burned in this area of Bolivia.

Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - The Extraordinary Missionary Month will start from the oldest baptistery in Switzerland

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 11:56
Freiburg - Bishops and representatives of the Church of Switzerland at the Baptistery in Riva San Vitale, the oldest christian building in Switzerland, for the celebration of the opening, at national level, of the Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019, under the motto "Baptized and sent".
"The starting point that makes us ‘mission’ is Baptism, which is not just belonging, but is a unique opportunity to unite our forces for mission here and elsewhere and to give courageous witness to Christ in our lives - write the Bishops of Switzerland in their appeal for the Extraordinary Missionary Month -. The leitmotif "Baptized and sent. Being together Church in the world", will therefore accompany us throughout the month. The Swiss Bishops encourage you, to make the Extraordinary Month of the universal mission a month of prayer and reflection on the meaning of the mission. Solidarity with Christians on earth is also part of the mission. The Swiss bishops recommend the faithful in our Country to generously support the Sunday collection of the universal Mission. We need mission and mission needs us".
According to the note sent to Agenzia Fides by Missio Switzerland, the parishes and religious communities from all over the country were invited to decorate the baptistery of their church with the missionary symbol. A leaflet inviting the faithful to participate in the Extraordinary Missionary Month was distributed to all the parishes. Opening celebrations are planned in different cantons or at a regional level. All parishes and communities are invited to join a chain of prayers and put on the website Celebrations for the missionary sending will be organized at a local level.
A dedicated website allows parishes, groups or individuals to record their events and to download some practical tools made available by Missio and the Missionary Month work group. Some initiatives have been scheduled since September. These include a missionary day on September 26 in Saint-Maurice , missionary evenings, small group meetings. A bilingual "Church in the World" forum will be held on 10 and 11 October at the University of Friborg. On Sundays in October, masses will be broadcast on RTS-Religion. Social media have also been involved since September, Facebook #MyMission "Click to Pray" app.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Kyrgyz children at the discovery of the Sky

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 11:37
Jalalabad - "In September, we prepare ourselves for the second year of our educational project", says to Agenzia Fides Sher Abdugapirov, deputy director of Kyrgyzstan Caritas at the headquarters of Jalalabad. The activities organized by the Kyrgyzstan volunteers serve mainly for the cultural training of children from poor families in the regions of Chui, in the north of the Country, and in Jalalabad, in the south, but there are also initiatives dedicated to the rehabilitation of disabled children. Former alcoholics and drug addicts, on the other hand, are involved in learning projects in the agricultural and livestock sector.
The deputy director recounts the accompaniment of the children in the summer months: "Summer is very hot in Kyrgyzstan: temperatures between 38 and 45 do not allow to carry out big programs, except those related to typically summer activities. For example, this year, in the month of July, we organized an astronomy field dedicated to students: it is an annual training event that takes place over several days and is dedicated to the discovery of the sky. It takes place on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, one of the largest and deepest lakes in the world, and involves the best students of our astronomy clubs present in various schools of Kyrgyzstan". The astronomy project was launched by Caritas Kyrgyzstan in 2015 and, explains Abdugapirov, "provides activities dedicated to night observation of the sky, which is carried out in a playful way. Participants are given the opportunity to meet Polish volunteers and astronomers and work with them. This year there were one hundred students and six trainers". Looking at the sky, they point out to Caritas, encourages children to reflect on the infinite, on the meaning of life, on eternity, on a path of pre-evangelization.
The Caritas kirghisa owes its origins to the creation, in 2011, of the Non-Governmental Organization "Light of Love": the decision to embark on the path of integration of the NGO inthe pastoral and charitable organization of the Bishops was born following the participation of a meeting organized by Caritas Asia in 2014 in Almaty. In Kyrgyzstan there are currently three parishes in the cities of Bishkek, Jalalabad and Talas, but many small communities are distributed in the rural areas of the country. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, a religious and five Franciscan nuns.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Pakistani Church trains animators for the extraordinary Missionary Month

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/09/2019 - 11:27
Multan : "In order to be good disciples of Jesus Christ, we must always keep our eyes on Jesus. We must give up everything like the disciples to follow Jesus. This extraordinary missionary Month October 2019 once again calls us to fully serve Christ as his disciples": said Mgr. Benny Travas, Bishop of Multan, during a recent seminar organized in his diocese to train animators in view of the extraordinary missionary Month.
As Fides learns, the Bishop made known the activities to be held in the extraordinary missionary Month in every parish of his diocese. The Bishop also said: "I invite and encourage all the faithful of my diocese to participate actively, and to live this extraordinary missionary Month by focusing on four points: personal encounter with Christ; formation of missionaries; witness of faith; missionary charity".
The Bishop invited priests, nuns, catechists and Catholic lay people to contact people during the Missionary Month through various activities, with a weekly program.
The first week will focus on organizing a day of prayer, sharing of the Bible, Eucharistic Adoration. The second week will focus on the life stories and testimonies of saints and apostles, to discuss and appreciate the good works of the missionaries operating in the diocese; the third week will focus on the missionary formation of the faithful of the diocese; the fourth week invites all the faithful to actively participate in charitable works.
Shahreen Pervaiz, a lay Catholic from the Diocese of Multan, speaking to Fides, said: "I appreciate that the diocese has launched the plan for the missionary Month. We will try to meet the faithful of the territory, especially the young, to make them participate in Eucharistic programs and celebrations". And he adds: "We will take example from the saints and from the lives of the missionaries who worked hard to preach the Good News in our diocese".
Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM, at the head of the diocese of Hyderabad and president of the Bishops' Commission for missions in Pakistan, told Fides: "This Extraordinary Missionary Month is a time to respond to the call of the Holy Father to relive our missionary vocation in our territory. It will be a moment for each of us to concentrate on our personal formation, through daily readings of the Scriptures and the life of the Saints, to actively continue our missionary works to reach those who do not yet know the Gospel, people of various tribes and cultures" .
Bishop Shukardin concludes: "The Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan organized a Seminar in July to train animators at a national level. These people are currently actively working in the dioceses".
Fr. Tariq Talib, Diocesan Director of the PMS in the Catholic diocese of Hyderabad, speaking to Fides, said: "This extraordinary missionary Month is for every member of the faithful a time to live the missionary vocation which is a grace received during baptism, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Through each baptized person, the Church carries out her mission of proclaiming the life, teachings, passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ". The Director reports to Fides: "In each parish we have formed a pastoral group of missionary animation, formed by priests, catechists, religious and lay people to promote the organization of special programs and initiatives during the 2019 Extraordinary Missionary Month".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The commitment of religious and Salesian nuns to prisoners and refugees

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 13:39
Port Moresby - Migrants, refugees and prisoners in Papua New Guinea struggle to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers in order to return home or to a third country. They experience "a separation from their places of origin and often also a cultural and religious uprooting", this is what Sister Teresa Vu Phuong says Thuy Trinh, a religious of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who in 2918 managed to repatriate 105 Vietnamese fishermen. Thanks to Sr. Teresa and the Salesian community they were able to re-embrace their families.
A note sent to Agenzia Fides also states that recently, thanks to the mediation of the nun and her congregation, five Vietnamese detainees from Bomana prison in Boroko were repatriated, obtained passports, airline tickets and night shelters in Manila, Philippines, before heading home to Vietnam.
The superintendent and commanding officer of Bomana prison thanked the general superior of the FMA, and the community of the Salesian nuns "for their act of charity in helping the needy". The five detainees had spent three years in prison, and have now returned to their families after being expelled from Papua New Guinea on 3 September 2019.
In another initiative, the Salesian religious present in Papua New Guinea have started a professional training project in favor of the refugee population, especially from neighboring Indonesia. Thanks to the joint efforts of Caritas of Papua New Guinea and the Salesian Technical School "Don Bosco" of Gabutu, near Port Moresby, young refugees, many of them teenagers, are offered short training courses which last four months each, in basic computer science, administration and electromechanics. In this way, they are given the opportunity to attend an education program that will develop their skills and, above all, help them find a decent job. The Indonesian refugee community, from the Indonesian province of West Papua, includes over two thousand people living in slums in five different camps in Port Moresby. In a situation of uncertainty, the camp leaders turned to the Bishops and Catholic congregations to receive food assistance and education
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Extraordinary Missionary Month and Missionary Campaign 2019 launched

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 13:27
Brasilia - The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil and the Pontifical Mission Societies yesterday launched, Tuesday 17 September, the Extraordinary Missionary Month and the Missionary Campaign 2019. The ceremony took place at the headquarters of the CNBB in Brasilia, in the context of the meeting of the Pastoral Episcopal Council . In addition to Bishops and priests, 23 missionaries from various countries attended the event.
At the opening, the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte and President of the CNBB, Mgr. Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, said that "it is time to turn our gaze to the mission, to rekindle the awareness of this challenge in our hearts that is permanent for all". The president of the Conference of religious of Brazil , Sr. Maria Inês, highlighted that the CRB took this opportunity to motivate consecrated persons to deepen and increase the missionary dimension, since "this dimension is very strong for the consecrated life, in particular the mission ad gentes, the mission beyond borders". She also drew attention to the fact that: "There is no religious institute created for itself, except the contemplative life with its specific performances. Every sister, every monk has a profoundly missionary heart".
Mgr. Giovani Crippa, member of the Episcopal Commission for missionary action, underlined the purpose of the Extraordinary Missionary Month: to render the ordinary mission in the life of the Church. The Church in Brazil, in particular the local Churches, are invited to take up this great challenge with courage. The local Church is not a place where mission ends, but the place where the mission must start. "Mission comes from God, it is not something the Church has invented, mission is love", he said.
Sister Maria Irene, Councilor of the Pastoral Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, underlined the simultaneous celebration of the Synod for the Amazon, through which the Pontiff draws attention to the history of the territory. "I said last year, at the launch of the Extraordinary Missionary Month that it was a happy coincidence - the religious woman said.
Finally, Father Mauricio da Silva Jardim, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, recalled that the missionaries are the first recipients of the meeting with Jesus: "He looked at us with pity, he looked at us with love, that is why we are here". He reiterated that the mission is born from a passionate heart, an ardent heart, motivated by spirituality and listening to the Word. "The mission is the place where we can meet Jesus, who speaks to us through his people and especially the poor, and we have much to learn" he pointed out.
After the launching ceremony of the 2019 Missionary Campaign and the Extraordinary Missionary Month, the exhibition "Missionary Faces", organized by the Pontifical Mission Societies, was inaugurated, presenting 47 "missionary faces", a small part of the large number of Brazilians scattered throughout the world sent on a mission. The ceremony concluded with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Archbishop Giovani Crippa.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - National Caritas defines priorities: communication and collaboration

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 13:12
Almaty - "If I have to briefly express the priorities of the national Caritas in this period, I would choose two words: communication and collaboration. The first for us is particularly valuable for the greatness of our country and for our relations with the world around us. Collaboration, on the other hand, is fundamental to continue to strengthen our presence on the territory". This is what was declared to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Guido Trezzani, a missionary in Kazakhstan and responsible for the national Caritas.
"Given the size of Kazakhstan, without activities aimed at communication, each regional Caritas would remain closed in its own world, instead we must try to develop a constant exchange of experiences and knowledge between the national reality and the diocesan centers as much as possible", adds the missionary. For these reasons, "a weekly update on ongoing activities will be sent to the diocesan directors, in order to facilitate the sharing of information at a national level and possibly inspire changes at a local level. We will have other tools available: the newsletter, which will now be published every three months, and the world of social media".
The development of communication processes, explains Fr. Trezzani, is also motivated by the need to be known and appreciated at a local level: "Recently, following an emergency situation in the south of our country and which caused the evacuation of a whole city, we contacted the regional administration offering our help, which was not accepted because we are not known in the context of national emergency response. It was not clear who we were and what our purpose was". Precisely for this reason, it is necessary to strengthen the network of collaborations: "We have already begun to contact various local foundations to find areas of common interest to show our identity, but at the same time learn from the work of others".
The words of Fr. Guido come after an important choice: "Several weeks ago I left the position of director of Caritas Almaty and now I can dedicate myself completely to the construction of the Caritas of Kazakhstan. I am particularly grateful to all those who have made possible the creation and development of Caritas in Almaty, making it a small but significant reality, from which this new national adventure is also born", he concluded.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - President of the Bishops' Conference: "The leaders of a country should guarantee the peace and security of their people"

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 13:04
Abuja - New stance taken by the Bishops of Nigeria on the lack of security in different areas of the Federation.
"Every government that fails to protect the constitutional rights of her citizens has failed. The leaders of a country should ensure peace and security of his people", declared His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria , in his inaugural opening address of the Second CBCN Plenary Assembly in Abeokuta.
In his speech, Bishop Akubuze condemned the recent killings of some Catholic priests in Nigeria: Fr. David Tanko of the diocese of Jalingo, and Fr. Paul Offu of the Diocese of Enugu .
The President of the Nigerian Bishops’ Conference recalled that "we Catholic priests and faithful must preach daily the message of peace and justice. It is part of the message of Christ. It is part of the mission of the church. As missionaries, we must be harbingers of justice and peace in our land". He also reiterated that "we are just interested in living our lives peacefully without any fear of being kidnapped for ransom or being driven from our home land". The kidnappings for the purpose of extortion have become quite common and among the victims there are several priests and religious .
Mgr. Akubeze added, "If the leaders of a country cannot ensure peace and security, they have no business using tax payers’ money to provide security for themselves and their families while the rest of Nigerians are dying daily".
In June, Mgr. Akubeze denounced the "unprecedented level of insecurity" that has long afflicted Nigeria .
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Pope Francis will inaugurate the Extraordinary Missionary Month in the Vatican Basilica

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 12:53
Vatican City - The feast of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus, since 1927 proclaimed Patroness of the Missions with Saint Francis Xavier, which traditionally marks the beginning of Missionary October, will have an extraordinary connotation this year. At 6 pm on Tuesday 1 October, the Holy Father Francis will preside the celebration of solemn Vespers for the opening of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. The celebration will be preceded, starting at 5.15 pm , by testimonies and prayers prepared by the eight Italian missionary institutes: Comboni Missionaries, Xaverians, Missionaries of the Consolata, PIME and Missionaries of the Immaculate. At the end Pope Francis will deliver the crucifix to departing missionaries.
On Sunday 20 October, at 10.30 am, the Holy Father will preside the Mass for World Mission Sunday in Saint Peter's Square, which will also be attended by participants in the special Synod for the Amazon which takes place in October at the Vatican.
Another important event will be Monday 7 October, liturgical memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary: at 3 pm , Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will lead the recitation of the Holy Rosary in the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The prayer will be broadcast worldwide by Radio Maria.
The intention of prayer for the month of October will also be dedicated to the Extraordinary Missionary Month: the video produced by the Pope's World Prayer Network will be available on website.
The Extraordinary Missionary Month involves and engages the universal Church in a renewed journey of prayer, witness and reflection on the centrality of the missio ad Gentes in the life of every baptized person. Each local Church is therefore called to live in its own context and situation, moments of sharing, prayer and missionary commitment. We are not asked to "become pilgrims in Rome" but to become pilgrims from one’s own home to every corner of the earth to bring everyone "the joy of the Gospel".
The Extraordinary Missionary Month October 2019 does not provide for a closing celebration, as it is expected that a renewed ardor for the mission aroused in this time will permeate the future life of every baptized person and of each local Church. Furthermore, from this month of October 2019 we are already projecting ourselves towards the year 2022, in which three important anniversaries will occur for the missionary world: the 400 years of the institution of the "Congregatio de Propaganda Fide" by Pope Gregory XV, on June 22nd 1622; 200 years since the birth of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith on the initiative of venerable Pauline Jaricot; the centenary of the recognition of "Pontifical" of this Society, made by Pope Pius XI with the motu proprio Romanorum Pontificum.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarch Younan criticizes the exclusion of Syrian Christians from public functions and administrative positions

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 12:31
Beirut - In Lebanon - a country where the distribution of political and institutional offices follows criteria of division based on religious affiliation - Christians belonging to the Syro-Orthodox and Syro-Catholic Church are marginalized or excluded from functions and public offices. Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan stressed this again, in statements released by the local media. The Patriarch's critical considerations were inspired by recent appointments approved by the Council of Ministers, concerning significant roles in institutions such as the Court of Auditors. In selecting the persons to be assigned to such positions - the Patriarch points out - the candidates who belonged to the two minority Christian communities were still excluded. "After seeing that our youthful energies are increasingly excluded", the Primate of the Syrian Catholic Church insisted, "we deplore with the utmost firmness the continuing marginalization and exclusion of members of our community from public functions and administrative positions in the Lebanese State". The Patriarch also invited the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the heads of the parties to "make the promises made to our most deserving children".
Authoritative exponents of the Churches and Christian communities present in Lebanon next to the Maronite Church have already in the past appealed to President Michel Aoun and the Lebanese political forces to demand guarantees regarding adequate representation in political and administrative institutions for their communities of faithful. In January 2016, as reported by Agenzia Fides , the Primates of the two Syro-Antiochene Churches - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan - and asked all their political interlocutors that at least one seat in the Lebanese parliament is reserved for each of the two Syrian church communities.
In Lebanon, there are tens of thousands Syrian-Catholic and Syrian Orthodox Christians.
The system of parliamentary "quotas" guaranteed to Christian minorities is in force in several Arab countries with a Muslim majority, such as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. In Lebanon, the delicate Lebanese institutional system reserves the office of President of the Republic to a Maronite Christian. The Ta'if agreements, which in 1989 sanctioned the end of the civil war season, provided for the numerical parity between the reserved parliamentary seats to Christian deputies and Muslim deputies.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/EL SALVADOR - Archbishop Escobar Alas: the law guarantees the right for all to water and a fair and dignified pension

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/09/2019 - 11:57
San Salvador - "Once again we raise our voice not only in the name of our Catholic brothers and our evangelical brothers, but in the name of all the people, to ask the Legislative Assembly to approve the General Law Project of the Water": this is how Mgr. José Luis Escobar Alas, Archbishop of San Salvador, began his usual press conference on Sunday 15 September.
The Archbishop commented this bill: "presented in March 2012, 92 articles have already been approved, but the study and approval of this law did not continue, in an attempt to approve instead a spurious law on water". He then continued: "It is necessary that deputies respond to the best interest of the Salvadoran people who elected them and guarantee the human right to water for each of the Salvadorans, providing a general law on water that is fair".
The Church in El Salvador has always been a protagonist in the demand for a fair law for the distribution and management of this precious resource like water. He stressed this when president Nayib Bukele was elected . "For over a decade the people have requested the urgent approval of a general law on water ... now the same people are tired of the lack of commitment and willingness to legislate on water" said Mgr. Escobar Alas on more occasions .
In his meeting with journalists, the Archbishop then touched on the issue of pensions: "On behalf of so many workers who cry when they retire for the unfair and inhuman pension they receive, denying them a decent retirement to which they are entitled and condemning them to put an end to their lives in poverty, I ask our government and the legislative authorities to repeal the current pension system as it is unfair, and to adopt a fair pension system, which effectively favors workers , which guarantees them a fair and dignified pension, to which they are certainly entitled".
Categorie: From the church