ASIA/SINGAPORE - Decriminalize homosexual acts: for the Church it is urgent to protect the traditional family

Fides EN - - 2 ore 50 min fa
Singapore - "The Church regards everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, with equal respect: all the faithful are important to me, regardless whether they have same- or opposite-sex attraction. I feel the struggles and pains of those with same-sex attraction who sincerely love God and desire to live up to His divine plan for humanity. I feel with them when they are ostracised or marginalised by society. They too deserve to be loved and treated with dignity and respect". This was written by the Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh, in a Pastoral Letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, who addresses the issue of homosexual relations and the current legislation, while a debate is under way on the possible repeal of Article 377 paragraph a) of the Penal Code, which provides for penal sanctions for homosexual relationship between adults.
The Archbishop clarifies that by "accepting homosexual acts as a social norm, the dreadful consequences for the stability of our families, the well-being of our children, and the risks to the common good will be long-term and irreversible ". He pointed out that he would not object to a repeal of Section 377A "if it were merely aimed at removing all potential criminal penalties against homosexuals". However, until and unless Parliament puts in place a formulation that more perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the law, it must also "guarantee the protection of the rights of the majority who favour the traditional family", and affirm with certainty that the decriminalization must not involve "further requests to legalise same-sex unions, same-sex adoption of babies or surrogacy". For this reason "Article 377 paragraph a) should not be repealed under the present circumstances", writes the Archbishop. Considering the social and moral implications, Archbishop Goh urges Catholics in the country to "make a conscientious decision", rejecting for the the repeal of the article, "looking at the dire consequences for countries which normalised same-sex unions".
The debate on the decriminalization of homosexual relationships in Singapore started after the Supreme Court in India ruled that t homosexual relationship between consenting adults is not a crime. In Singapore, an attempt to repeal article 377 paragraph a) of the Criminal Code had already been raised in 2014 but failed.
Even the National Council of Churches of Singapore , a body that brings together Protestant Christian denominations, in a statement claims it does not support the repeal of the law, saying that "homosexual lifestyle is harmful to families and society".

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Former FARC guerrillas return to take up arms, new obstacles on the path of peace

Fides EN - - 4 ore 3 min fa
Bogotà - Exactly one week ago, on the afternoon of 12 September, 6 people were released who were held hostage by the National Liberation Army guerrilla group. The Church, together with the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations, played a leading role. ELN stressed that it had moved forward despite "the difficulties posed by the national government, which refused to agree on protocols considered favorable for the release of the six prisoners", according to the note sent to Fides. This fact is considered an important step but not yet a decisive step towards achieving peace between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army.
The President of the Republic of Colombia, Ivan Duque, rejoiced for the release of the 6 hostages, and called for the release of all hostages in the hands of ELN as a prerequisite to continue peace talks, and reiterated that the government will insist on the release of all prisoners and the cessation of violent activities against the population.
The President of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Oscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop de Villavicencio, after having received the news of the release, stressed that these are always decisive "steps" in order to resume the dialogue between the government and ELN and achieve full peace for Colombia.
Unfortunately, with regard to the path of peace in Colombia, the news that in some parts of the country a group of former FARC guerrillas, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has resumed arms has been confirmed. Disillusioned with civilian life and the constant threat of paramilitaries, a group of former members of FARC has returned to taking up arms, putting at risk the peace agreement, which is also contested by President Ivan Duque himself. Among the objectives proclaimed by the new group there is that of defending populations from armed groups.
Missionary volunteers who assist the population in areas that were part of the FARC, have verified, with volunteer doctors and psychologists, that some former FARC members could not live with the new civil and social situation. In the information sent to Fides, we read: "It must be remembered that this conflict has been going on for 50 years, so there are soldiers who have only fought and lived with weapons. It is clear that changing life completely requires enormous sacrifice and personal skills to succeed". That is why today the rebels who have returned to arms say: "Those of us who are armed again are willing to die in the clashes".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Cardinal Yeom: "With denuclearization, a leap forward for peace"

Fides EN - - 5 ore 25 min fa
Seoul - The summit in progress in Pyongyang and the relative declaration co-signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in generate hope and enthusiasm in the Korean population.
Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul and Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, commenting favorably on the fruits of the summit, said: "I am very pleased and inspired by the joint declaration made known today, 19 September, which can to be summarized mainly in the permanent denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I hope this news can be the best gift for all Koreans, waiting for the Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving feast, one of the biggest feasts in Korea. I sincerely pray that South Korea and the North can make a leap forward for peace and advance in bilateral relations through today's agreement".
In this delicate moment, in which the situation of inter-Korean relations seems to evolve positively, in an atmosphere of dialogue and trust, it is important to accompany the whole process with prayer, underlines the Archbishop of Seoul: "Pope Francis - he continues - assured His prayers for Korea I ask not only the Korean faithful, but all the people of God in the world to join us and to pray for authentic peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. May God's mercy accompany all those who are involved in the summit in Pyongyang ".
The Cardinal concludes: "As Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Pyongyang, I also pray to see the day when the sisters and brothers of the North and South can unite and celebrate a Holy Eucharist together".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Missionary kidnapped: No request for a ransom yet

Fides EN - - 5 ore 48 min fa
Niamey - "We have no news of Fr. Pierluigi. There has been no claim by the kidnappers at present", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino of the Society of African Missions , a confrere of Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, Italian missionary seized on Monday night in Bamoanga, a village 125 kilometres from the capital Niamey, capital of Niger.
"However, the kidnappers have obtained a first result: everyone is talking about them all over the world", emphasizes Fr. Mauro. "With the abduction of a Western missionary, a group which is probably not even a big group, has managed to gain global visibility".
"Can the reasons therefore be political?" we ask the missionary. "Without a doubt but we must take into account that the kidnappers are ethnic Peuls", replies Fr. Mauro, which highlights a more complex scenario than that of jihadist groups operating between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
With Peuls we indicate a nomadic population that lives on pastoralism distributed over the entire Sahelian belt that goes from Mali to Ethiopia. Among these populations, extremist sentiments and ideologies have emerged in recent years, and in several countries, from Nigeria to Burkina Faso, from Mali to the Central African Republic, violence committed by the Peuls has been reported.
"The radicalization of these populations is due, at least in part, to the environmental difficulties that make it increasingly difficult to find water and pastures for their herds", explains the missionary.
"In Niger as well as in neighboring Mali we have seen that the traditional relationships that linked Peuls with other populations, such as the Touregs do not exist", says Fr. Mauro.
"This accentuates instability and I do not think that the militarization that is taking place in Mali as well as in Niger is the right answer to solve these problems", says the missionary, referring to the military missions sent by some western States in both countries to fight against the different jihadist movements operating in the area. "In order to stabilize these Countries, instead of sending soldiers, it is necessary to ensure that the relations between the different populations are reconnected. Only by creating an environment of exchange and relations between the inhabitants of these areas will positive results be achieved", concludes the missionary.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Corruption and widespread illegality: the problems of the nation in view of the vote

Fides EN - - 6 ore 36 min fa
Atananarivo - "Politicians fight only for their own interests. They do not serve the nation or the people because they do not have the sense of the common good". With these words Father Prospère Ratovomananarivo, director of "Lakroa" Catholic newspaper, traces, in a conversation with Agenzia Fides, the picture of the political situation in Madagascar, in view of the presidential elections of 26 November.
"Our problems, both economic and political", Father Prospère points out, can be summarized in the word 'egoism'. Widespread lawlessness, mismanagement of public affairs, and strong dependence on external aid are the results of this selfishness. This leads to a continuous deterioration in almost all areas: infrastructure, economy, politics, common mentality, so everything is destructured and dysfunctional".
In view of the elections, the political situation is rather chaotic. "The future - says Father Prospère - is uncertain and with little hope. We have lost a lot of time in repetitive and cyclical political crises, which have deeply damaged us. These crises weigh on the economy and therefore on people's lives and there is difficulty in overcoming this situation".
There are 36 candidates in the elections, but the battle will be reduced to a confrontation between three former presidents Andry Rajoelina, Marc Ravalomanana, Hery Rajaonarimampianina.
External influences will also weigh on the vote, especially France, a former colonial power that still has a say in the political, economic and social life of the Red Island. "France plays an essential, I would say primordial role in Madagascar's foreign and international policies", continues Father Prospère. It is the country that orients the politics of the European Union towards Madagascar. The international community, France and the European Union in the lead, push and support the electoral process".
In this framework, the Catholic Church, through Card. Odon Marie Arsène Razanakolona and the Episcopal Conference maintain a neutral but not passive position. "One must not be manipulated by scoundrel politicians", reads the message, made public at the end of the plenary assembly that the Bishops of Madagascar held in May. "We must be vigilant against their beautiful promises during the electoral campaign, and resist any form of intimidation", write the Bishops.
According to the Bishops "a good head of State must devote his life to saving his country, have faith in God and be wise, be jealous of national sovereignty, seek above all the common good, be honest and respectful of the word given. He must also know how to listen and exchange opinions, be open to discussions, learn about the Malagasy culture, and finally avoid mixing the affairs of State with those of his political family, his religion or his private investments".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - The Italian missionary kidnapped "is probably in Burkina Faso, where the jihadists are based"

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 14:28
Genoa - The Society of African Missions confirms the kidnapping of father Pierluigi Maccalli in Niger to Agenzia Fides and adds some details to the first news released this morning. According to what is reported by the missionaries in the General Curia of SAM in Genoa to Fides, a group of armed men entered the village at 9.30 pm local time yesterday, abducted the priest, stole his computer and his phone. It was possible to reconstruct the facts thanks to the testimony of an Indian confrere, who lives with father Pierluigi, who managed to escape.
Father Maccalli, originally from the diocese of Crema, already a missionary in the Ivory Coast for several years, worked in the parish of Bomoanga, diocese of Niamey. His mission is located on the border with Burkina Faso and about 125 km from the capital Niamey. "In the last few months - the confreres explain to Fides - the police had warned the religious. The police and law enforcement agencies had in fact registered suspicious movements of jihadist militiamen right at the border with Burkina Faso". In order to protect their own safety, the missionaries had thus limited their travels and no longer left the mission during the night.
"After the abduction - report the Curia of SAM - Father Maccalli was probably brought beyond the border. In the neighboring region of Burkina Faso there is, in fact, a vast forest in which the jihadist militants have their bases. Currently the diocese of Niamey has sent a group of priests to the village of Father Maccalli to verify the facts and to make contact with the local community".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Third inter-Korean summit: "Hope and confidence increase"

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 13:42
Seoul - "Our hope and the hope for all Koreans is increasing. This third summit is an event that I would define as extraordinary. Concrete steps are being taken towards peace and reconciliation. Today we have great confidence in the two leaders": this is what Fr. Moses Ildeuk Kim, OFM, Secretary of the Province of Friars Minor said to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the trip of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who arrived today in Pyongyang for the third meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The leaders of the two Koreas warmly embraced each other, and according to the official North Korean news agency KCNA, the summit "will offer an important opportunity to further accelerate the development of inter-Korean relations that are producing a new story".
The trip will last three days. Moon and Kim already met in April and then last May in the demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. During the next summit in Singapore in June, North Korean leader Kim met US president Donald Trump.
Moon Jae-in's visit to the North is part of the process of dialogue that South Korean president strongly promoted and that leader Kim accepted as an opportunity to try to free himself from international sanctions by launching a denuclearization program.
"This delicate and complicated process - notes Fr. Moses - could be the major obstacle to overcome, regarding the path to obtain the desired peace. It is an aspect that involves relations with the United States. But, in a positive atmosphere and mutual trust, I am convinced that the obstacles can be overcome. Peace is indeed the greatest common good".
The Franciscans in Korea, says the friar, "have always been active promoters and supporters of the peace and reconciliation process. Now, with the new conditions established, and while continuing to improve communications between North and South Korea, we will be able to try to visit North Korea again and restart cooperation projects and nurture communion in the near future. Our vocation and mission is to build a culture of peace and brotherhood".
There are three issues under discussion at the summit in North Korea: the first is the continuation of the path taken with the declaration of Panmunjeom of 27 April, which has already led to the opening of a first joint office in Kaesong, to improve relations between the two countries through humanitarian and economic projects; the second issue addressed is that of the negotiations between Kim and the United States, on the process of denuclearization of the peninsula; the third theme is disarmament, to reduce the military means deployed at the border.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Card. Barreto: "Peru is living a highly democratic moment"

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 12:41
Lima - "Peru is going through a highly democratic phase. We fully support President Vizcarra because the other two powers of the State, Legislature and Magistracy, are seriously ambiguous. Now the people have to express themselves with regards to these four proposals of the executive power": said Cardinal Pedro Barreto, Archbishop of Huancayo, speaking to a German newspaper, during a break of the meeting of the Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network that is being held these days in Germany.
The four proposals presented by President Vizcarra to Parliament on August 9th are: return to the bicameral parliamentary system; non-re-election of members of the Congress; financing for political parties; reform of the National Council of Magistrates .
"Without a doubt, it was time for citizens to express their will on the four issues raised in the presidential message through a referendum. Thus democracy is strengthened and politics is reinstated in our Peru", said the Cardinal.
Finally he wanted to reiterate the statements of the President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, Archbishop of Trujillo, with whom he congratulated President Vizcarra for having listened to the popular demand: "Martin Vizcarra echoed the cry of the population asking for a reform of the judiciary and political system in the fight against corruption", declared Bishop Cabrejos at a press conference two days ago.
The situation in Peru exploded after the press published a series of audios that proved evident cases of corruption among politicians and judges, creating a crisis of trust among the population . Vizcarra, who took office in March, after Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned on charges of corruption, has convened an extraordinary session of Congress for tomorrow, September 19, to discuss the reforms and present them in the referendum on December 8 for final approval. "They will not be able to bend us! I am convinced that together we will build the Peru we want for our children. highlighted the President in his speech on Sunday, September 16th.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MALAYSIA - Christian communities renew their commitment to education

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 12:09
Kota Kinabalu - The Christian communities in Malaysia, also the Catholic Church, renew their commitment in the field of education, to teach the Christian virtues of discipline, diligence, charity, compassion and integrity. This is what emerged from a recent seminar that involved delegates, managers, priests, teachers, Christian educators and school administrators of the schools run by the Churches in Kota Kinabalu.
"The role of missionary schools in the current school system", was the theme of the seminar held in the complex of All Saints Cathedral. Altogether there are 100 missionary schools in the province of Sabah, about sixty run by various Protestant Christian denominations, and 43 Catholic schools. Archbishop John Wong, who is at the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, spoke at the Seminar. In welcoming the delegates, the Protestant Bishop Datuk Melter Tais, president of the Council of the Christian Schools of Sabah, declared: "Missionary schools are our inheritance and are a mission entrusted to us by God".
The leader recalled the Education Forum 2017, where various resolutions were adopted to claim the ethos, character and traditions of the schools run by the Churches. The first objective is to "make God present" in Christian schools, then to strengthen the faith of young generations through the knowledge of the Bible, and finally to promote the holistic development of students who attend missionary schools.
The president noted that the educational landscape of the country has changed over time, due to various policies implemented by the government. Today there is a need to revisit the role of Christian schools in the context of the current school system.
The fundamental report, entitled "Educational development and education policies in Malaysia and their impact on mission schools" was offered by Moey Yoke Lai, president of the Federation of Christian Missionary School Councils of Malaysia, who oversees the 437 mission schools existing in the country.
The president said she is convinced that mission schools have an important role in the current school system: the emphasis on "holistic education" and the founding principles such as education for all, compassion for the poor and the weak, personal education, discipline, passion and perseverance, are precursors of national educational policies.
"We are called to an education that makes the person grow as a whole. We have to teach children the joys of learning, the respect and appreciation of the beauty of God. It is our task to show students the Christian virtues of discipline, diligence, charity, compassion and integrity", Moey told Fides.
With a Malaysian population of 10.5 million young people between the ages of 1 and 19, the workshop also pointed out the need to make Christian schools a field of mission of evangelization.
Malaysia, which is a predominantly Muslim country founded on secular principles, was born as an independent nation 55 years ago. Christianity in Malaysia is a religion practiced by 9.2% of the population . Two thirds of the 2.6 million Christians live in eastern Malaysia, ie in the provinces of Sabah and Sarawak, 30% of the population.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PALESTINE - Gaza, the parish sports center destroyed during the last war re-opens

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 11:51
Gaza - "Children must be able to play, study and grow in a peaceful environment", repeats Pope Francis. In the next few months a small contribution will be offered to children living in Gaza, in order to bring a little relief to their battered childhood and adolescence. In fact, the new El Zaitoun compound sports and recreation area is being completed, connected to the local Latin Catholic parish dedicated to the Holy Family: a complex with large areas, which will allow students to play and experience sports and moments of living together in a safe space.
The compound, as reported by Agenzia Fides had been devastated together with the adjacent school by the Israeli army bombings during the operation "Protection Margin", code name of the military campaign, started on the July 8, 2014 by the armed forces of the Jewish State as a response to the launches of missiles in Israeli territory on behalf of the militants of Hamas. The military campaign ended on 26 August 2014. The victims in Gaza were between 2,125 and 2,310, including more than 500 children.
The sports and recreation area was - the sources of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reported - was the last of the entire compound to be repaired and renewed, thanks above all to the contribution of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher. The space was exploited in such a way as to obtain a multipurpose playground for basketball, volleyball and soccer. The place now also has concrete steps where spectators can sit.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CAMEROON - The Bishop of Batouri: "A Church full of hope for the future, despite the difficulties"

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 11:13
Rome - "The east of Cameroon is full of hope for the future", says His Exc. Mgr. Marcellin-Marie Ndabnyemb, Bishop of Batouri, in the eastern part of Cameroon. The Bishop is in Rome to attend a Study Seminar for the Bishops recently appointed in the ecclesiastical circumscriptions dependent on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
"At an ecclesial level we have a Church in full development. In my diocese, the population supports evangelization even if it has to face considerable economic difficulties", explains Mgr. Ndabnyemb.
"Despite the difficulties there are signs that leave hope for the future. It is the very strength of the population that believes in itself and above all that has faith in God who does not abandon his flock", the Bishop underlines.
Mgr. Ndabnyemb recalls that "we live in an area which is rich in natural resources and can improve the living standards of the population", and adds: "the Church is making a decisive effort in favor of the rural population and the Baka pygmies". "Schools, health centers, educational activities: the Church is fully committed to society, especially in favor of young people, especially single mothers".
We ask the Bishop of Batouri what is the contribution of missionaries to evangelization in the diocese he leads. "In my diocese – he replies - there is a strong presence of missionaries. Most of them are Africans even if the presence of Westerners is still strong". "The service offered by the missionaries is invaluable. We as a diocesan clergy count on them and take them as an example also at an organizational level", underlines Mgr. Ndabnyemb.
The diocese of Batouri is located near the border with the Central African Republic where many people are fleeing the violence in their country.
"In the diocese of Batouri there are also some hundreds of thousands of refugees from the neighboring Central African Republic. Refugees are not left to themselves", says Mgr. Ndabnyemb. "Refugees are assisted by both international and church organizations. Alongside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees there is in fact the Catholic Relief Services who work to ensure that these people live in decent conditions. Thanks to the efforts of these organizations children go to school and the sick are cared for", says the Bishop of Batouri.
Finally, let us ask Mgr. Ndabnyemb what he thinks of the secessionists that are shaking the Anglo-Saxon provinces of Cameroon .
"There are some groups that demand secession. But the prevailing sentiment in Cameroon is that of national unity, which is almost sacred", says Mgr. Ndabnyemb. "Most Cameroonian people want a united and indivisible country", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Italian priest of the Society of African Missions kidnapped

Fides EN - - Mar, 18/09/2018 - 10:21
Niamey - "In the night between Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 September, Father Pierluigi Maccalli, of the Society of African Missions was kidnapped by probably active jihadists in the area". The news was reported by Fr. Mauro Armanino, a missionary in Niamey. "The area has been in a state of emergency for some months due to this presence of terrorists from Mali and Burkina Faso", adds Fr. Armanino.
Father Maccalli, originally from the diocese of Crema, already a missionary in the Ivory Coast for several years, serves in the parish of Bomoanga, diocese of Niamey. He has put together evangelization and human promotion: schools, dispensaries and training for young farmers.
The Catholic Mission of the SAM Fathers is located in the Gourmancé area on the border with Burkina Faso and about 125 km from the capital Niamey. The Gourmancé people are entirely devoted to agriculture and around 30 thousand inhabitants live in this region. The Mission has been present since the 1990s, and more than 20 missionaries have visited the villages, of which 12 with small Christian communities. The Catholic Church in Niger strongly supports the social works carried out and that is why the Mission of Bomoanga has a program of commitment to Human Promotion and Development through its basic cells called CSD . Poverty is structural, health and hygiene problems are enormous, there is widespread illiteracy and there is no water and educational facilities. The lack of roads and other means of communication, make the area isolated and forgotten.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Pilgrimage to Korean Catholic sites: "A milestone for the Church"

Fides EN - - Lun, 17/09/2018 - 13:39
Seoul - "I believe that today's recognition given by the Holy See to the Catholic pilgrimage routes of Seoul as an 'international pilgrimage destination' will be a milestone for the Churches in Asia. These pilgrimage routes will play a key role in introducing Korean culture and the Korean Church in international society": with these words Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, greeted, during a Mass, the ceremony in which the "Routes of the Catholic pilgrimage of Seoul", become an official site recognized by the Vatican. As reported to Fides by the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Seoul, the ceremony took place on September 14 in the Sanctuary of the martyrs of Seosomun, in the presence of Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and over 1500 people including Bishops, priests, lay people, and leaders of young Asian Catholics. Moreover, among the civil authorities, there was Do Jong-hwan, minister of culture, sport and tourism, Park Won-soon, mayor of Seoul. Archbishop Fisichella said: "The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is convinced that these Pilgrimage Routes are an effective way for the Church in Korea to honor the memory of its martyrs. These routes can help pilgrims to reflect on the fact that human life has been created out of love and can contribute to open hearts to the transforming power of God's grace, which confers the gift of faith".
In the Mass before the ceremony, Archbishop Hygunus Kim Hee-joong, President of the Bishops' Conference of Korea, said: "The 3rd Summit between South Korea and North Korea will be held next week. I am sure that prayers will be of great help, inviting everyone to pray for the upcoming South-North summit, scheduled in Pyongyang".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - An impulse to catechesis to counter fundamentalism: the Bishops of AMECEA in view of the Synod

Fides EN - - Lun, 17/09/2018 - 13:11
Nairobi - Among the areas of intervention identified in the recent meeting in Nairobi, in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on young people to be held in the Vatican in October, by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa , which brings together the Bishops of the Episcopal Conferences of East Africa, the Bishops have settled on Catechesis to counter the impact of religious fundamentalism and Pentecostalism; institutional vocational status of single persons with no particular consecration; training of Spiritual Directors; as well as formation for active citizenry in politics; dignity of women; and civil, social and political engagement.
As reported by Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, coordinator of the Pastoral Section of AMECEA to Fides, other areas of interventions include Integral education and formation in Catholic institutions; the digital world and its impact on young people; youth protagonism; uncertainty, hope, fear and unemployment; enjoyment and beauty of the liturgy; accompaniment in schools and universities; situations of war, violence and young migrants; the role of families and life choices; and formative and social accompaniment.
Fr. Chimombo further explained that all issues prioritized were singled out in reference to the specific numbers in the Instrumentum Laboris, as per requirements of the Synodal process.
The synod delegates from AMECEA Region at the forthcoming Youth Synod of Bishops to be held at the Vatican include the following countries: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - "Do not drag the name of Pope Francis into petty party politics" warn the Bishops

Fides EN - - Lun, 17/09/2018 - 12:44
Lilongwe - "The attack on the Holy Father, Pope Francis is an attack on the whole Church that is, One Holy Catholic and Apostolic". Thus the Episcopal Conference of Malawi invites political leaders, both government and opposition, to desist from dragging the name of the Holy Father into petty party politics.
In their statement released on September 13, 2018, the Bishops strongly condemned the attack by a section of Malawian politicians during a meeting in Blantyre on 9 September, saying that the current 79-Year old President of Malawi will only resign after Pope Francis, 81, steps down because the Malawi leader is younger.
The Bishops’ Statement additionally denounced the recent attacks on the Catholic Church and the victimization of her members for cheap political gain saying that as Catholic Bishops, they are ever aware of their duty to foster unity and charity among individuals and have always collaborated with all religious mother bodies in the Country in pursuit of inter-faith dialogue, promotion of the common good and rule of law, respect for human rights as well as human dignity.
The Bishops called upon all Malawians to refrain from spreading fake news through social media with the aim of provoking others and damaging the good reputation of those with different political views.
The Bishops therefore appealed for mutual respect and understanding, tolerance and peaceful co-existence among people of different religions in the country for the benefit of all.
Recalling the Pastoral Letter published in April the Bishops said that while the Church encourages Catholics to take an active role in politics, the Catholic Bishops cannot and shall not support or endorse any particular politician or political party. They once again urged all eligible Malawians to register and vote in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for May 2019.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Mufti Shiite proposes a joint Committee with the Maronite Church to resolve confessional conflicts over land ownership

Fides EN - - Lun, 17/09/2018 - 12:03
Beirut - Lebanese Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan, Mufti Shiite of the Jafaarita school, has suggested creating a joint Committee between the Supreme Shiite Council and the Maronite Patriarchate charged with facing and trying to overcome the conflict between Shiite inhabitants and the Maronite Church in the village of Lassa, in the Lebanese district of Jbeil, due to the dispute surrounding the possession of some land properties. On Saturday, September 15, the Mufti Shiite, in some statements raised by the Lebanese media, "have argued that there are occupations or attempts to seize the properties of the Maronite Church by the residents of Lassa. Faced with these confusing statements and these irresponsible positions, we want to clarify for the thousandth time that we categorically refuse any encroachment on private or public property, especially if they belong to the Church. We are in Lebanon", added Kabalan "and therefore we are aware of the dangers of such acts", reaffirming the availability to establish a joint Committee with the Maronite Church that deals with and resolves cases of property conflicts on the basis of the laws and territorial plans that already govern the real estate changes and punish all forms of illicit appropriation.
In Lebanon frictional confusion periodically arises around the control of land and real estate. In August 2016, the tension around the sensitive theme of land control by the various religious communities coexisting in Lebanon increased after the Ministry of Finance, led by Shiite Ali Hassan Khalil, had expressed his intention to implement a decree signed in 2015 which provided for the expropriation by the State of shared land adjacent to Aqoura, a village inhabited mostly by Maronite Christians, such as villages and towns in the district of Jbeil.
In autumn 2013, a pressing call to curb the improper use of lands belonging to Christians to build houses for Muslims was launched by Talal al-Doueihy, leader of the "Lebanese Land, our Land" Movement. The appeal denounced in particular the case of Al-Qaa, a Christian village near Baalbek, in whose area large plots of land had been bought by Muslims-Shiites and Sunnis - as agricultural land, to be then destined for the construction of residential complexes for sale to Lebanese and Syrian refugees belonging to their own religious community.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Priest attacked and robbed by three hooded people, the climate is always tense

Fides EN - - Lun, 17/09/2018 - 11:34
León - A Nicaraguan priest, Fr. Abelardo Toval, parish priest of the parish of Sutiava, was attacked on Saturday, September 15 by a group of three hooded men who entered his home before celebrating the first morning Mass: this is what was reported by a spokesperson of the diocese of León, in the North west of Nicaragua, in a note sent to Fides. The three beat him up and then tied him up and robbed his belongings. The priest resides in the indigenous community of Sutiava, in the city of León, 97 kilometers north-west of Managua, the capital. The news of the aggression was spread by the diocese's spokesman, Father Víctor Morales.
Father Morales did not however link the aggression with the series of recent attacks that policemen and groups of armed men, associated with the government, have perpetrated against other priests and Bishops of Nicaragua, in the current socio-political crisis that the country crosses . On many occasions, the Nicaraguan clergy are considered an opposition group against President Daniel Ortega, who accuses the Episcopate of collaborating for an alleged "coup" . Several members of the clergy and of the Episcopate have suffered physical and verbal attacks, as well as death threats, some Catholic churches have been profaned .
Since last April, the crisis in Nicaragua has largely exceeded 400 deaths in protest demonstrations, according to local and international humanitarian agencies, while Ortega continues to deny all charges. The population in the meantime continues to demonstrate and demand the resignation of the president, for 11 years in power, and early elections.
According to Fides sources, the attitude of the government has changed: at the beginning it completely ignored the demonstrations of the population, now it carries out acts of intimidation going from one house to another, looking for those who protested against the government and holding them as political prisoners, even if they have not committed any crime. We are talking about students, professionals, workers and even farmers who are considered leaders in neighborhoods, universities or workplaces.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/GUATEMALA - After the last decisions of the executive the country is divided, the Bishops invite to avoid violence and blood

Fides EN - - Ven, 14/09/2018 - 12:58
Guatemala City - Like other Latin American countries, Guatemala also celebrates National Independence Day tomorrow, September 15th. On this occasion the Episcopal Conference of the country published a Message in the context of the "Month of Homeland". Inspired by the verse of the book of Proverbs "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and reject not your mother's teaching", the Bishops invite to reflect on how to respond responsibly to the teachings of what is inherited, that is "how to live our civil responsibilities before God, so that justice and peace can become the basis for living together as a people".
Describing the real situation, in the message, sent to Fides, they write: "In these days we live moments of tension and confrontation due to two decisions of the Executive: the non-renewal of the residence permit at the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala , and the ban on the re-entry regarding Ivan Velasquez, a member of the UN at the head of the CICIG".
The two facts have divided not only public opinion, but the whole country, this is why the Bishops propose: "It is necessary that the way of confrontation is overcome with the promotion of a serious dialogue, in order to apply the law and exercise justice, as suggested by the National Prosecutor".
"We ask everyone to avoid violence and to make blood flow", the Bishops write, underlining: "The loyalty underlined in the Scripture, means respect for law: nobody is superior to law, it is a clear principle that involves all".

The Bishops conclude by inviting to also celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows on September 15th, whose liturgical feast is celebrated, asking for the strength to love Guatemala and to serve it in truth and justice, not seeking conflict to solve problems.
The situation in Guatemala has also caused concern at an international level: "We express our regret for the sovereign decision of the government of Guatemala not to renew the mandate of Cicig", reads the note that, on behalf of the United Nations group called "G13", has been signed by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the European Union.
The document recalls "the vital work that the CICIG plays in the fight against corruption and impunity, and the importance that it can continue in this work until the end of the mandate". The signatories "recognize and appreciate the leadership of Commissioner Velazquez", regretting the decision not to return him to the country. This is a "step back in the strengthening of the Guatemalan institutions", a choice considered at the same time as a "failure to fulfill the agreement signed between Guatemala and the United Nations Organization".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The Bishops for Independence Day: "Proud to be a people and a nation"

Fides EN - - Ven, 14/09/2018 - 12:30
Port Moresby - "During this day let us reflect on the blessings we have received as a Country. We must thank God for the journey undertaken. We are proud of being a people, a nation and a country": said Fr. Victor Roche, SVD, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the 43rd Independence Day of Papua New Guinea, which occurs on Sunday 16 September.
As in previous years, the event will be colored by a variety of activities. From folk dances, to singing, to music and to art and craft initiatives. The national colors of the country will be seen everywhere. As Fides learns, Fr. Victor, expressing the vision of the Catholic episcopate, said: "For many centuries we have lived in our small communities and villages hidden from the outside world. Today, finally, thanks to our ancestors we are connected to the rest of the world community as a single nation". The Secretary thanked God for the progress made in Papua New Guinea in terms of infrastructure and human resources and also spoke of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting to be held in November 2018. "We wish the Prime Minister and his government all the best - he said - in this great venture. This is an important opportunity for us to show the rest of the world that we are a mature and independent country".
On the occasion of Independence Day, the Bishops exhort everyone to be "responsible citizens", to stop acts of vandalism, crime and corruption, inviting citizens to nurture "the feeling of national unity" and the search for the common good.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - The Church opens an Institute to train young people to leadership

Fides EN - - Ven, 14/09/2018 - 12:20
Yangon - The Church in Myanmar, in collaboration with the Jesuits of Myanmar, has set up a new institute to train young people in leadership skills and make them the agents of transformation of society. The new institute, called Myanmar Leadership Institute , which opened its doors in Yangon, aims to train young people on issues of ethics, analytical skills, professional skills and lifestyles in the education sectors, in the business world and of civil society, explains Jesuit Joseph Anthony Jacob, Director of the structure, to Fides.
The aim is "to develop leaders whose knowledge is inspired by compassion and contributes to nation building, inclusive prosperity, peace and the restoration of human rights for all", adds the Director.
MLI is an initiative of the Archbishop of Yangon, Cardinal Charles Bo, and the Jesuits of Myanmar. The motto of the Institute is ‘Learn to be a leader to serve’". Fr. Jacob tells Fides: "We are all leaders in one way or another. Leadership springs from within. It shows what I am. Good leaders welcome every opportunity to get to know themselves and the world and proceed to new discoveries and interests".
The Jesuit continues: "A leader is essentially a pilgrim, not one who thinks he is 'successful', or already perfect". A leader is one who becomes fully human within himself, but also fully alive to face the harsh realities: leadership is a way of being proclaimers of the Gospel and prophets for the poor and the marginalized".
MLI aspires to train students in Myanmar to become "agents of social change". The Institute's curriculum has been developed through a group of experts in the fields of education, entrepreneurship, civil society, and University of Manila, run by Jesuits in the Philippines, which guarantees the recognition of the studies carried out.
Father Jacob hopes that, at the end of the training program, graduates are ready to enter NGOs, religious communities, in the public and private education and health system, in government agencies, in the business world of commerce.
"We hope to train leaders who are capable but also compassionate, who are able to think critically and creatively, oriented towards the service of the common good, according to values of justice, solidarity and preferential option for the poor", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church