ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Patriarch: "A government is needed!"

Fides EN - - Ven, 20/07/2018 - 13:09
Beirut - National appeals are repeated asking the Lebanese political forces to urgently form a government to allow the country to concentrate its efforts and allow it to face the economic and regional challenges and therefore to give life to a new government. In an interview released yesterday to the newspaper "The Future", Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raie said aloud: "We want a government, I will repeat this appeal every day, I say today and I will say it tomorrow and every day and I hope everyone hears me".

The Patriarch referred to the consequences due to the delay in the formation of a future government, underlining the irregularities of this situation also from a juridical point of view. The situation of the country in general, and the economic situation in particular, make it essential to speed up the formation of the government, "May God help prime minister Saad Hariri who must please everyone!", said the Patriarch. The current government is considered a government of transition and management of current affairs, as the request formulated on May 24, 2018 by the President to the Prime Minister to form the government following the elections of May 8, with the official results of May 10, has still not brought fruit.

The Maronite Patriarch attended the meeting yesterday at the headquarters of the Economic and Social Council of Beirut . In that context, the Patriarch urged political parties to respond to national emergencies concerning the growth of the economy that translates into development, work for young people, progress and production. The Patriarch expressed his displeasure on how politics has lived and how power groups protect their particular interests by neglecting the common good. "Let us see how they are delaying the formation of the government, showing absolute disinterest in the economic and social suffering of the people. The formation of the government by the representatives of parliament belonging to all the current political currents does not end in starting a government for the simple management of current affairs, but must aim at creating a genuine government that reflects the balance between the various parties present in parliament, underlined Boutros. We must return to the Constitution, the Patriarch said, because "abandoning it" means not finding a solution to the crises afflicting Lebanon at all levels.

Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai had received, at his summer residence in Diman last week, the leaders of the reconciliation, which took place on January 18, 2016 and recognized as "the agreement of Maarab" between the Free Patriotic Movement of General Aoun and the Lebanese Forces. In the meeting, which lasted 3 hours, the Patriarch invited Christian parties to work together for the good of the Country and not to fall into the polemics unleashed by the various media apparatus. The patriarch insisted on the urgency of the formation of the government without producing artificial delays, respecting the Constitution and safeguarding the functioning of public institutions.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BENIN - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Cosme Adjomale

Fides EN - - Ven, 20/07/2018 - 12:18
Vatican City - On 26 April 2018 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev. Fr. Cosme Adjomale, of the clergy of the Archdiocese of Parakou as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Benin for five years .
The new National Director was born on June 12, 1970 in Bocanda and was ordained a priest on July 3, 2004. He obtained a baccalaureate in theology and a licentiate in pastoral theology. Among the positions held so far, he has been Vice-parish priest and parish priest, in charge of vocations.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PANAMA - Preparation for World Youth Day proceeds without forgetting the suffering of Nicaragua

Fides EN - - Ven, 20/07/2018 - 12:16
Panama - A few days ago, exactly on July 9th, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, broke the news that "on the occasion of the next World Youth Day that will be held in Panama City, and welcoming the invitation of the Panamanian Government and Bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will travel to Panama from 23 to 27 January 2019". The Vice President of Panama, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, has already held a meeting in the Vatican with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to discuss the details of the organization of WYD 2019 and the visit of the Holy Father.
During this meeting it was recalled, according to what Fides learned, that Panama belongs to the Central American Integration System, whose goal is to establish a collaboration on the theme of migration. The Vice-President and Cardinal Parolin agreed on the importance of the region's challenges to democracy and human rights issues, in the context of the political and social crises that Nicaragua and Venezuela in particular are experiencing, and have agreed to work together to support the framework of diplomacy and international law.
In Panama, the Archbishop of Panama, Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta, OSA, expressed his joy for the official confirmation of the Pope's presence, but at the same time wanted to express his solidarity with the Church of Nicaragua, also in the name of the youth of Panama. Mgr. Ulloa used harsh words to describe this reality, which he knows closely: "The government of Nicaragua goes beyond the limit of the inhuman and immorality. The criminal repression against civilians, mostly young students, is condemned at all levels: the international community cannot be indifferent!". "From this pilgrim Church in Panama, we want to unite ourselves to the condemnation, to the repudiation of acts of aggression against the Nicaraguan people, particularly to all the members of the Nicaraguan clergy", said the Archbishop. "This is nothing but the fruit of the lack of listening to the cry of the people".
On Wednesday 25 July, there will be a special prayer for Nicaragua at 5 pm in the Basilica of Don Bosco, "so that the Lord may grant the necessary light and, through dialogue, the people of Nicaragua will soon find the peace they desire", said Mgr. Ulloa. "With our prayer and solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and the pilgrim Church in Nicaragua, may the Lord bless you in these difficult times", he concluded.
At a diplomatic level, on Thursday, July 19, Panama, through Foreign Minister Luis Miguel Hincapie, expressed his readiness to participate in any dialogue process that could solve the serious crisis in Nicaragua.
CELAM yesterday published and sent a statement to Fides to express the solidarity of the members of this continental body to the Church and to the people of Nicaragua: "Faced with this serious situation, we are called to be the voice of those who have no voice, to assert their rights, to find paths for dialogue and to establish justice and peace, 'so that all may have life in Christ' ; in a special way, those who feel discouraged by death and violence. We encourage you to continue to be defenders of human rights and bearers of hope", says the document.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The religious for the respect and defense of life: Every life has infinite value

Fides EN - - Ven, 20/07/2018 - 12:02
Buenos Aires - "How many times have we reflected on the words of the book of the prophet Jeremiah: 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you" . We feel immensely loved people, with a mission, a project that we discover and build during our daily journey. This is why once again we reiterate with great hope that every life has infinite value in the eyes of the Father, it is a gift of his goodness". This is how the Argentine Conference of the Religious expresses itself in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, "in defense of the dignity of every person".
In these days the Argentine Senate is discussing the bill that decriminalizes abortion, already approved by the Chamber of Deputies on June 14, allowing it in a "safe, legal, free" form for every woman who requests it within the fourteenth week of pregnancy. After this period, it is only possible in the case of sexual violence, if the mother is in danger of life or if the fetus has any form of malformation. The text is now being examined by the Senate.
The members of the Governing Council of Confar, "support the defense of the dignity of every person in the face of all forms of slavery and rejection" and join with what the Bishops said in the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday 8 July in Lujan, where the Mass for life was celebrated: "life is a pure gift from God and therefore must be respected, cared for, defended and served" .
"As Mary, who 'hurried to her cousin Elizabeth's house' bringing Life into her womb, we too, as Consecrated Life, take care of our lives, that of our brothers, defend it and put ourselves at its service - concludes the statement -. Thus we can joyfully sing with you the Magnificat for the marvelous works that God accomplishes in our life and in that of many brothers".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - There is no longer a border between Eritrea and Ethiopia because a bridge of love has destroyed it

Fides EN - - Ven, 20/07/2018 - 11:00
Addis Abeba – Sunday 8 July 2018 was a historic date for the peace process between the two countries Ethiopia and Eritrea: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, visited Eritrea’s Prime Minister Isaias Afwerki in Asmara. In a short space of time Ethiopia found itself with a new President who wanted to speed up the process of reconciliation between the two nations. An event of this kind should have attracted the attention of international public opinion and yet, apart from the news itself, it did not go further.
Professor Marco Lombardi, professor of Literature and Philosophy at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and among the leading experts in International Security, commented on the event to Fides:
"two countries have been locked in conflict for two decades, pushing the ethnic groups of the area to migrate across a militarized border, albeit with low-intensity clashes, which fragmented families and generated poverty and underdevelopment. Apparently, the rise to power of Abiy Ahmed, the first Ethiopian of ethnic Oromo, has changed the cards. Eritrea responded to international sanctions with a survival economy increasingly determined by Sudanese smuggling, but also a new extremist radicalism that has always been a stranger to Eritrea. And it hurt Ethiopia, forced to face this rift also internally, for the weight it had on neighboring Tigrai, whose ethnic group for decades also governed the Country. In short, many things seem to have changed".

Do you believe it is possible to ensure a stable and lasting peace? And in what way?
"I do not know: a lasting and stable peace requires basic requirements that go beyond the goodwill of a Government, which has the task of initiating and facilitating processes, but cannot end them without a common will among the people to overcome barriers and grudges, which are long-standing. The Italians know little of the Ethiopia of these years, rarely at the center of media communication, and hardly know that the dead was very common among Tigrins, Oromo, Amara, Somali, among the ethnic groups that control the different parts of the Country. Thus, openness with Eritrea cannot be seen as the way to pacification without deeper internal reconciliation.
Let us remember that a few weeks ago a bomb launched at the public meeting of the Prime Minister caused two deaths and many were wounded: this was read as a heavy warning to Abiy Ahmed, who oriented to democratic openness, must contend with the security apparatus of Ethiopia, on whose loyalty there is some doubt, and on the dominant economic interests".

What future do both populations expect?
"Hope dominates countries that are not young but very young, with 70% of people under the age of thirty. Hope orients dreams and visions of the future and will measure the success of promises that, if not maintained, will generate a situation that is difficult to control. But just as much uncertainty is, for now, given by a future that is not necessarily dreamed of by everyone in the same way. Of course peace and well-being is the shared aspiration, but how much this aspiration is ethnically declined, that is to the advantage of one's own ethnic group, this is all to be verified and uncertain. Unshared aspirations can generate new conflicts ".

Love and forgiveness prevailed, in your opinion what will be the next moves?
"Love and forgiveness prevailed according to our logic and according to the will, which I share, of wanting to affirm love and forgiveness as the valid forces to change the world. But this statement must be demonstrated by the next steps, so as not to manifest itself in the disappointment of a policy, on the contrary, opportunistic and personalistic. A confirmation in this positive direction must be encouraged by open policies that do not concern only the Oromo and that involve neighboring Countries without exclusive hegemonic vision".

In your opinion, in which way could the peace agreement between the two governments be beneficial to the whole region of the Horn of Africa?
"The Horn of Africa is a troubled strategic area, key in global geopolitical strategies, where the interests of many Countries confront each other. Certainly the Ethiopian/Eritrean stability can favor a complicated stabilization of the area. The pacification with Eritrea is just a small piece of the puzzle that the new Prime Minister has to face, we do not know how interested he is in finding a port on the ocean: a piece of Eritrean coast may be an implicit question in the peace offered. On the other hand, the openings of Ethiopia to Somaliland, which has the port of Berbera, seem to go in this direction and these, compared to Puntland, are not signs of peaceful relations with neighboring Somalia. In fact, Somaliland and Puntland are both regions of the Somali federal state, which however fight for oil issues and which for a long time border with the Somali Region, a large Ethiopian region that roughly corresponds to Ogaden. As the name says, a region inhabited by Somalis but controlled by Ethiopia, is therefore another shaky piece of the puzzle in the Horn of Africa scheme.

Basically, the path taken by Abiy Ahmed is interesting because it goes potentially in the right direction, it is still to be shown how much he can be peacemaker, because too many variables are not controllable by Ethiopia. It is to be hoped that the new government will persevere. But also, that the Saudi interests, the Emirates, the Turks, the British, the Americans, the Chinese ... just to mention the most 'obvious' ... are not the greatest obstacle to the pacification of the entire area".

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - The Organization of American States condemns Ortega for repression

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 13:13
Managua - On the same day in which 39 years ago the Nicaraguan people announced the popular victory against dictator Somoza, yesterday, 18 July 2018, the Permanent Council of the OAS approved the resolution condemning the regime of Daniel Ortega for repression with 21 votes in favor, 3 against and 7 abstentions. The approved resolution condemns the government of Ortega and Murillo for human rights violations, calls for early elections to be held by spring, to dismantle paramilitary groups, to guarantee human rights and to welcome an international commission.
In the meantime, violence does not stop in the country, clashes and protests that exploded three months ago do not show signs of diminishing. Police and paramilitary forces, together with the turbas , took control of the center of Masaya yesterday, a city 30 km from the capital, which became one of the symbols of the opposition to the government of President Ortega. The clashes lasted more than 7 hours, in particular in the area where the indigenous community of Monimbo resides. Here, in the neighborhood that had held a courageous resistance, 3 deaths were recorded. Military forces went from home to house terrorizing the population.
Fides has received testimonies from missionaries who inform about the tremendous violence of the military against the population, and the method of "isolating" some neighborhoods, where not even the international press managed to arrive to inform about the affair. These groups apply a "terror strategy" to subdue the population that resides there. The population, however, does not give in and every citizen has become a reporter: from the windows of the house or hidden behind a door, they can film with their phone every attack and violence carried out by the paramilitaries, to inform the Nicaraguan Association for human rights and other institutions for the defense of citizens.
The Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, had summoned media operators to declare his deep concern about the "tragic moment" of Nicaragua: "With all my human and spiritual strength, I invite everyone's consciences to reach a truce and allow a rapid return to national dialogue in order to find an appropriate solution together and therefore solve the crisis". Mgr. Sommertag had personally visited the church of Divine Mercy to see the situation after the siege.
Among the reports disseminated through social media directly by the protagonists and victims of this violence, also sent to Fides, it is worth mentioning the testimony of Father Augusto Gutiérrez, parish priest of the indigenous community of Monimbo: "four hours of attack took place with heavy war weapons: the church is completely destroyed. What the government is doing is very unfair. It is a genocide. It has no other name". Then he launches an appeal: "In this neighborhood there are humble people, they are all indigenous and workers. The government is killing us".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - UN Alarm: "Violence between farmers and herders risks turning into forms of terrorism"

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 12:48
Abuja - "Violence between farmers and herders is increasingly a major security threat in the region and risks morphing into the terrorist attacks that have defined the security landscape", said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who is Head, UN Office for West African and the Sahel, UNOWAS, in a report presented to the UN Security Council.
"Farmer-herder conflicts are becoming more sophisticated and deadlier, especially in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. During four days in June, new spates of attacks and retribution killings between herders and farmers in this region resulted in scores of deaths", Mohamed Ibn Chambas says. The States most affected by the conflict between Fulani herders and farmers are Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Adamawa.
"It is a continuous massacre that takes place every day", confirms to Agenzia Fides Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of the Office for Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja. "It has never happened, in the life of this country, that there have been such frequent massacres of this kind", emphasizes the priest.
The fact that the Fulani are Muslims and farmers are Christians, feeds the fear, especially for Christians, that the conflict is of a religious nature, also because in the North of Nigeria the Islamist sect Boko Haram is still active. The report by the UN special envoy stresses that the latest tendency by Boko Haram is to employ suicide bombers and that out of these, one in five is a child.
The deterioration of the security conditions have pushed the Nigerian Bishops to ask on two occasions for the resignation of President Muhammadu Buhari. The first time at the end of April after the massacre of 24 April in the village of Mbalom , in which two priests, Fr. Joseph Gor and Fr. Felix Tyolaha were killed, together with 15 parishioners.
The second on June 29 , following the massacre of more than 200 Christian farmers committed on June 23 by Fulani herders in some villages in the central State of Plateau.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - "Come and see": Jesus' invitation inspires the first international convention of young Syriac Catholics

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 12:34
Faytrun - The "method" used by Christ to draw men and women of all times to him is always what he used in his gatherings with the first apostles: "Come and see" . And the words of Jesus' invitation are the guiding thread of the first Syriac Youth International Convention which is taking place in Lebanon, in Faytrun, near the monastery of Our Lady of Light, which sees the participation of 450 Syriac Catholic boys and girls, aged between 18 to 35, from 18 different countries.
The conference - wrote Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan - was intended as an opportunity to share with the young Syriac Catholics from all over the world the hope "for the renewal of the Christian community in the Holy Spirit", but also to re-propose the "wealth of the Syriac heritage, language and civilization "to boys and girls who end up losing ties with the culture and traditions of their families in the communities of the diaspora.
The program of the convention days - which began on 17 July and will end on Sunday 22 July - includes liturgical celebrations, listening to spiritual testimonies, moments of entertainment and touristic excursions, like the one at the shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa.
The exodus of Christians from the Middle East concerns above all the younger generations, those most involved in the migratory processes that are thinning the numerical presence of many Middle Eastern Christian communities. In some countries, such as Syria, young people are pushed to emigrate to avoid having to carry out long, exhausting and dangerous military service.
The Catholic Church is preparing for the next synod, dedicated to young people, to be held in the Vatican from 3 to 28 October 2018 on the theme "Young people, faith and vocational discernment". In that context, the urgencies of the Middle Eastern Churches regarding the issue of youth will also be highlighted by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, who Pope Francis has appointed as President delegate of the next Synodal Assembly, together with Cardinal Desirè Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina , Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon and Cardinal John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby .
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Bishops involved in the reform of justice, moral heritage of the country

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 11:56
Lima - The President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, His Exc. Mgr. Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, O.F.M., Archbishop of Trujillo, met yesterday, Wednesday 18 July, the Commission for Justice Reform, appointed five days ago by the President of the Republic, Martin Vizcarra, after having learned the confirmation of the audio which see members of the National Judicial Council and the judiciary involved in acts of corruption.
The note sent to Fides reports that the Commission's invitation to Mgr. Cabrejos was made because, together with the Peruvian Episcopal Conference, it could offer a contribution and a feedback on the aspects to be considered as a priority for the reform of the judicial system, in order to reduce all forms of violence. The meeting began at 9.15 am and was attended by Mgr. Cabrejos, members of the Commission: Allan Wagner , Delia Revoredo, Hugo Sivina, Samuel Abad, Eduardo Vega, Ana Teresa Revilla and Walter Albán .
On 11 July the Episcopal Conference published a communiqué "Corruption is a social ‘virus’ that infects everything" after the opening of the crisis in the judicial system due to the release of the audio in which members of the CNM and the judiciary are involved in alleged acts of corruption . This document expressed the need to safeguard the institution and the moral heritage of the country, as well as to express the Church's willingness to collaborate directly in this task.
According to the latest news gathered by Fides, President Martín Vizcarra has asked Congress for an emergency session for tomorrow, Friday, July 20, to discuss the expulsion of the seven members from the National Judicial Council, after the release of the audio in which they seem to discuss the innocence of an alleged raper and the appointment of friends. Today, July 19, a large popular demonstration is scheduled in the capital to demand the dissolution of the highest body of justice in the country.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - New Evangelization to remain rooted in Christ

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 10:20
Manila - To provide a gripping experience of Jesus, a gripping experience of the community called the Church, and a gripping experience of the mission, the calling, motivated only by the love of Christ, are among the objectives proposed in the Fifth Philippine Conference on New Evangelization which is taking place in Manila until July 22nd. There are over 5 thousand participants among priests, nuns and laity who are taking part, "this is an opportunity to remain rooted in Jesus", said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, on the occasion of the opening of the conference yesterday, 18 July. Cardinal Tagle led the plenary session about the spiritual life of priests through an encounter with Christ, with the theme “Sharing in the One Priesthood of Christ.”
"For evangelization means nothing if we do not get rooted again and again in the person of the good news, Jesus. He is the Gospel in person", - he said adding that - "PCNE is full of rituals and some had become a sort of identity of PCNE". The Archbishop explained that "PCNE is not just a ritual, it is not just a conference, it is about life, and it should be rooted in the life and it should transform the realities, values, and the living of the Christian faith".
Aside from the plenary sessions, the participants will talk about parish, schools, workplace/government, family, youth, the digital and social media, catechesis, a Church in mission, new ministry, young adult, and new trends in the Church.
According to Msgr. Manuel Gabriel, theology professor at Mary Hill School of Theology and at Asian Social Institute in Manila, the elements of the New Evangelization could help address these “critical situations” of the Church: contextual, focus on faith experiences, Christocentric, renewal of the Church and prioritize the life of the excluded and marginalized.
"There is a lack of shared and common paradigm to handle the critical situation today. The challenge is the New Evangelization should bring us all together to bring about transformation in our society", said Msgr. Gabriel to Fides. "The Church must be in a “missionary mode” rather than stuck in a 'maintenance mode'. If we are maintenance mode, nothing happens as it was, in the beginning, is now forever will be. A missionary mode breaks barriers, breaks new grounds, has new thinking, changes everything", he added.
Cardinal Tagle introduced PCNE in 2013 as a local response to the call of a new evangelization and renewal of faith experience in the local and Asian context.
The Philippines, with a population of 110 million, 80% are Catholics, divided into 86 dioceses.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Breakfast prepared by the parish is the only meal for thousands of Venezuelan refugees

Fides EN - - Gio, 19/07/2018 - 09:57
Pacaraima - Brazilian Don José Sebastião Barros da Silveira and Argentine don Miguel Alberto Fernández, Orionini , arrived in Pacaraima, Brazil, diocese of Roraima, to help the local parish priest, Fr Jesús Lopez Fernandez de Bobadilla, 78-year-old Spanish fidei donum missionary, to assist thousands of Venezuelan refugees fleeing their country every day. Pacaraima in fact borders with Venezuela and is the main access route by land to Brazil. Called "Heart without borders", this new mission of the Orionines proposes to welcome and support the numerous Venezuelan refugees, men, women and children, who come here and need everything .
It is estimated that at least 6,000 immigrants pass through Pacaraima every day. Some stop and wander through this small town in total misery, others leave for Boa Vista, capital of the state of Roraima, which is 220 km away. Along the way there is not even a village or a town, so the refugees have no place to rest or eat, they sleep on the side of the road.
"A few hours after my arrival in Boa Vista - says Don José Sebastião Barros da Silveira in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - together with Bishop Mgr. Domário we crossed the city and in the evening we took part in the ceremony for the delivery of certificates to 50 Venezuelans who completed the basic Portuguese course. The following day I went to visit four reception centers where there was a large crowd of Venezuelan refugees.
According to the most accredited estimates, Boa Vista alone currently has more than 25 thousand Venezuelans".
"It is sad to see - adds the priest - men and women who sell garlic, crockery and many other products on the streets and sidewalks, while teenagers wash the windshield of cars at the traffic lights for a few coins.
Many of them studied, they have already finished college in their country. Everyone is hoping to find a new life in São Paulo ... ".
"On Saturday evening - he continues - after a long journey I arrived in Pacaraima. Here I found hundreds of people sleeping on rudimentary hammocks. On Sunday we celebrated four Masses with the participation of the indigenous peoples and the Venezuelans".
Don José Sebastião explains that at 3 am the volunteers start to prepare breakfast for the refugees, which is served from 5 to 7.30am. "In Paracaima there are 1,300 Venezuelans and indigenous who come for breakfast.
For many of them it is the only meal of the day - he underlines -. Here it rains a lot and it is cold. The city is poor, hygiene is lacking, the streets are invaded by a crowd of immigrants wandering everywhere".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - "Religious extremism is a threat to development" says Fr. Devine of the Shalom Center

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 13:06
Addis Ababa - "We are attentive to the Religionization of politics and the Politicization of religion", warned Fr. Patrick Devine , founder and president of the Shalom Center in Nairobi, Kenya, in his speech at the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa , underway in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa .
Fr. Devine said that religious ideological extremism is concerned with eradicating alternative modes of existence and perception in society through terrorism. "Terrorism is the tool of violent extremism used to purge society of tolerance for other modes of existence in respect to worldviews and faith positions. To counter this negative process there is a distinct need, paradoxically, for an intolerance of intolerance" said the missionary.
Religious extremism has a direct impact on economic development and on the life prospects of entire populations - emphasizes Fr. Devine - "because in a Country where people are killed, maimed and displaced persistently, communities cannot experience sustained development because periodically schools, hospitals, formation institutions and many others become inoperable or totally destroyed".
Fr. Devine suggested that, in order to prevent such problems, governments must strengthen and improve education and collaboration with new and traditional media. It is also necessary to increase the efforts of regional and international partners to resolve conflicts in the area and to build peaceful, inclusive and fair societies through respect, protection and promotion of human rights.
Finally at an ecclesial level "there is an urgent need for Religious leaders/seminarians to have greater exposure and proficiency in the areas of Peace Studies, Development, Comparative Religion and International relations. Today this is essential", concluded Fr. Devine. )

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Fadi Iskander becomes a priest, son of Syriac Orthodox priest-martyr Boulos Iskander

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 12:54
Erbil – To receive priestly ordination from the hands of the same bishop who had ordained his father many years before, killed in 2006 and celebrated as a martyr by Iraqi Christians, is what happened to Fadi Iskander, who became a priest of the Syriac Orthodox Church on Sunday in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, inhabited mostly by Christians. Fadi is the son of Boulos Iskander Behnam, a Syriac Orthodox priest killed in 2006 in Mosul. Father Fadi's episcopal ordination was celebrated in the Syriac Orthodox Church dedicated to Our Lady of Light by Mar Gregorios Shaliba Chamoun, the same bishop who in April 1989 had ordained his father Boulos a priest in the Syriac Orthodox cathedral of Saint Ephrem in Mosul. Many Syriac Orthodox bishops took part in the liturgy of Father Fadi’s ordination - local sources told Agenzia Fides - together with priests, men and women religious belonging to different Christian confessions, as well as hundreds of thousands of faithful. Father Fadi Iskander will carry out his priestly ministry in the Syriac Orthodox eparchy of Byblos, in Lebanon.
The martyrdom of Boulos Iskander is dear to the shared memory of all Iraqi Christians. His figure as a professor and a passionate proponent of Christian unity was well known by the Christian communities of Mosul, which in the years following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime were hit by violence and targeted attacks attributed to terrorist groups linked to the al Qaeda network . Father Boulos was kidnapped in October 2006 in Mosul, in the industrial area of Karama. Attempts to contact the kidnappers to obtain their release through the payment of a ransom failed. His body was found in pieces on October 11, 2006.
12 years later, the glory of the martyrdom of Father Boulos also flourishes in the gratuitous fruit of the priestly vocation of his son Fadi.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Javier Alexis Gil Henao

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 12:29
Vatican City - On 17 May 2018 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev. Javier Alexis Gil Henao, of the diocesan clergy of Garzόn, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Colombia for five years .
The new National Director was born on 24 June 1978 and was ordained a priest on 21 December 2002. He obtained a Licentiate in Missiology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University . He was Vice-parish priest and parish priest in several parishes; National Secretary of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle and of the Pontifical Missionary Union ; Director of the missionary animation department of the Colombian Episcopal Conference .
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Sister Xiskya Valladares to the international community: "Please, act quickly, before they kill us all"

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 12:21
Managua - "I am just a Catholic nun. Nobody has asked me to write to you. But I cannot stand and watch like a dictator massacre his people while you remain silent". This is how the open letter that Sister Xiskya Valladares, a Nicaraguan religious resident in Spain, published Sunday on her blog and on social networks begins, tagging various heads of state and government. "We are a small population of only 6 million inhabitants, which has no oil and is not important for your interests" continues the religious, "but we are talking about human beings with profound values, with great courage, in a strategic place in Central America. They deserve your help".
Then she lists some of the major cruelties committed by the regime of Daniel Ortega.
Those who publish comments or news against the government are at risk of seizure and disappearance, as reliable sources confirm to Fides.
The letter continues: "They have burned alive families with children, shot citizens who marched peacefully in the streets, fired at children, committed sacrileges in churches, wounded a bishop, arrested many people without judicial orders, tortured them. The elderly, women, children, men: no one is saved today in Nicaragua. They are full-scale human rights crimes. When will you react?".
The nun then asks rulers to leave aside "at least for once, political and economic interests" and to show their humanity. "It is not a question of ideology, religion or politics. It is a question of humanity","you have been elected to make the world more human", "the people of Nicaragua need you now. Please, act. Do it soon, before they kill us all".
Sister Xiskya concludes with a specific request: "I do not ask for military actions. I ask for actions of diplomatic pressure: the condemnation for crimes of human injury" and with a plea: "help the people of Nicaragua. Stop this massacre, please". The idea of the letter "arose because of the need for international pressure towards President Daniel Ortega", the religious told Fides. "It is clear that he will not leave out of his own initiative. This is why I asked the presidents "from other countries for help". "I published the letter on my blog, I linked the link to my social networks and tagged the rulers I know and some media. I do not have the e-mail address of the Presidents", says Sr. Xiskya, who has over 46,000 followers on Twitter, has exceeded the limit of 5,000 friends on Facebook and is also on Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZAMBIA - We need to strengthen our faith in God to recover from corruption

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 11:21
Lusaka - After the denunciation of the African Union and that of the bishops of Kenya , the President of the Episcopal Conference of Zambia , Mgr. George Lungu, bishop of Chipata, said that corruption continues to absorb the lives of the Zambesi fomented by ruthless and cunning professionals.
During a Mass of the ZCCB, celebrated in recent days in Lusaka, Mgr. Lungu, described corruption as a virus and a hemorrhage that Zambia is facing. The bishop said that in order for Zambians to be healed, they must strengthen their faith in God.
"As a member of the ZCCB, I also live this challenge. Corruption is a virus that swallows up everyone's life: doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists. It is swallowing up the life of innocent citizens", reads the note sent to Fides.
Mgr. Lungu also explained that, "due to the incidence of corruption, the country continues to deteriorate: patients who die at the hands of immoral doctors; buildings that collapse due to jackal engineers; money lost at the hands of incompetent economists and accountants. Humanity dies because of incompetent scholars and justice goes to the hands of unscrupulous judges", highlights the note.
The whole society of Zambia is involved in this process of degradation. The electoral system is corrupt, human rights are crushed and elections are lost because of commissioners who do not worry about having free, fair and credible elections. Even the university world is corrupt and manipulated, leaving behind those who are really worthy.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - The Church forms to responsible voting and participation, also via the web

Fides EN - - Mer, 18/07/2018 - 11:06
Brasilia - During the electoral campaign for the general elections of next October, the Church in Brazil contributes as usual to the civil and democratic education of citizens through publications and audiovisual material, also using new media in the digital world. It is always very attentive to the socio-political situation of the Country. "Let us look at the Brazilian reality with the heart of Pastors, concerned with fully defending the life and dignity of the person, especially the poor and the excluded", the Bishops wrote in their message "Commitment and Hope" disseminated during the General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference last April.
According to the Episcopate, the difficult moment that Brazil is going through requires discernment and commitment on behalf of all citizens and institutions, as well as the organizations responsible and promoters of justice and the common good. In October the Brazilians will choose, in addition to the President and Vice President of the Republic, also federal and state governors and parliamentarians. In this context, the Regional Episcopal Conference of the state of Paraná has prepared a brochure-booklet in which, in addition to warning about current concerns , explains the electoral mechanism, the task of the elected and the co-responsibility of the electorate in the "public affair" and in the control before, during and after the vote.
It is a booklet for voters and candidates, also intended for groups, communities and media, prepared with the support of the CNBB Presidency and the collaboration of the body's consultant for political issues, Fr. Paulo Renato de Campos. The brochure, which is easy to read, also presents the contribution of the Church in the elaboration and approval of the laws "Against electoral corruption" and "Clean criminal record", thanks to which only persons without legal precedents can be presented in the elections. The invitation to the laity to express a greater presence and commitment in public life is also expressed, including among other things some concepts expressed by Pope Francis.
The Archbishop of Londrina, His Exc. Mgr. Geremias Steinmetz, explains that the booklet is now a tradition, but this year it will be sent to all the regions of the country. "The aim is to contribute to a more and more formed conscience of the voters and, in this difficult moment, give an orientation - obviously non-party - starting from faith, which helps to choose well, to vote well, to be aware that our vote helps to indicate the direction we want to give to Brazilian society".
In the state of Minas Gerais, representatives of the ecclesiastical provinces of Belo Horizonte, Diamantina and Mariana have produced audiovisual materials with the same aims, which can be downloaded from the archdiocese of Belo Horizonte website, which can be freely distributed, even via social networks. The project consists of a series of videos produced by the Group of Sociopolitical Studies of the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas and of clips and radio programs created by the Catholic-TV Horizonte and Radio América Communication Catedral Network. Mgr. José Carlos de Souza Campos, Bishop of Divinópolis, cites the themes of these productions: democracy, the vote and its consequences, the profile of the candidates, the danger of fake news, elements of the Social Doctrine of the Church, words of the Holy Father. "We know that many dioceses will produce similar brochures, and this is good and important. We must put our efforts together to make politics become an effective exercise of ample charity, which puts the needs of the poorest, those who live in the geographical and existential peripheries first", he wrote in the letter presenting the material.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - "The story of the Association indicates the path for the future", says the Secretary General of AMECEA

Fides EN - - Mar, 17/07/2018 - 13:57
Addis Ababa - "Let us think more of what we have in common and what we can do together in building a strong Church within the region", says Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo, Secretary General of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa in his speech at the 19th Plenary Assembly of the association, which brings together the Episcopal Conferences of East Africa, underway in Addis Ababa .
Fr. Lugonzo recalled that AMECEA was the first association of its kind to be constituted in the world. The first Plenary Assembly of AMECEA took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1961. On that occasion the Bishops set seven objectives which are still valid, underlined Fr. Lugonzo, remembering that the original philosophy of the association is "to think globally and act locally".
"After reflecting on the seven points on the agenda we need to have long term strategy of the future of the Church in Africa", noted the Secretary General of AMECEA.
The first point concerns the Church and Media. The Assembly is discussing the establishment of a regional television station, a radio station and a typography to promote evangelization in the region. Other points on the agenda are the spiritual formation for Diocesan Priests, need for a Centre for pastoral renewal and on-going formation, possibility of a regional University, the adoption of programs for self-sufficiency, the future of Catholic schools and Catholic education, as well as issues on justice and peace in the region.
In his speech, His Exc. Mgr. Telesphore George Mpundu, Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka, in Zambia, recalled the role of the small Christian communities that originated in the Democratic Republic of Congo and then extended to the other States of AMECEA. Mgr. Mpundu encouraged unity and solidarity among Bishops, urging them to strengthen their solidarity, collaboration and spirit of faith especially on Pastoral Renewal at national, regional and global level. "We also have to reflect deeply on how to support women in the Church who play a big role in developing our Church", he stressed.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The Bishops: "A political leadership is needed to put the people at the center of their reflections and actions"

Fides EN - - Mar, 17/07/2018 - 13:41
Caracas - "The Church, whose spiritual mission is clearly indicated by Christ in the Gospel, does not intend to replace in its role and in its vocation those who know and manage Politics. It does not aspire to dominate the social landscape, nor to become a factor of government or opposition. However, it encourages the laity, duly educated and aware of the rights and duties of their citizens, to make their voices heard and to intervene actively in the political arena, so that even the high principles and values that the Christian faith transmits to us may be lived in the public sphere and translate into works of common interest". This is what the episcopate of Venezuela writes in the exhortation entitled "Do not be afraid, I am with you" , published at the end of the General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference, celebrated from 7 to 11 July, in which the Bishops analyzed the main pastoral issues, turning their gaze also on the country and on "its particular situation, which without fear of error we describe as a 'great tribulation' , which affects the life of Venezuelans and seriously compromises their future".
Focusing on the political situation, the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, states: "The main responsible for the crisis we are going through is the national government, to put its political project before any other consideration, including the humanitarian one; for its wrong financial policies, for its disdain for productive activity and for private property, for its constant aptitude to put obstacles in the way of those who are willing to solve some aspects of the current problem. The government appears before the country victim of external and internal maneuvers. This is nothing but the confession of one's own incapacity to run the country".
As already highlighted in their Declaration of 23 April, the situation is increasingly serious in all areas of social life, for this reason the Bishops write: "It is necessary to give precedence in the action of the government and public and private institutions, to citizens, to Venezuelas, to men and women who suffer. To ignore people, to speak unduly in their name, to reduce this concept to a political or ideological prejudice, are the temptations of totalitarian regimes, which always end up by despising the dignity of the human being".
The electoral consultation at the end of May, despite the many voices - including that of the Bishops - which warned of its illegitimacy, "served only to extend the mandate of the current sovereign. The high abstention, unprecedented in a presidential electoral process, is a silent message of rejection, aimed at those who try to impose a totalitarian ideology, against the opinion of the majority of the population".
The exhortation demands respect for the fundamental freedom of Venezuelans to elect their rulers in a transparent electoral competition, without manipulation or favoritism, and condemns "attitudes of arrogance, authoritarianism and abuse of power, such as the constant violation of human rights", warning that "the Church does not encourage the desire for revenge or retaliation, but neither does it promote impunity for crimes that threaten life, human dignity and fundamental rights".
Therefore the Bishops underline: "Venezuela needs a political leadership that puts Venezuelan people at the center of its reflections and actions, aware that beyond the control of power, politics is the work of those who, driven by nobility and ethical principles, know how to put themselves at the service of citizens and not petty interests. Opposition leaders must offer people alternative to change and work harder for their well-being".
The dramatic phenomenon of emigration is cited. The Bishops recall: "the Word of God assures us that God is always on the side of his people, especially in his most difficult hours ... trials, disappointments and the bitterness of life are not a sign of his abandonment, but they can also be an opportunity for growth and salvation". In the final part the Bishops exhort to continue the work of solidarity towards the neediest and not to lose hope: "We must never be discouraged by the challenges of an uncertain and difficult present: on the contrary, placing our trust in God, who gives us the strength to witness and do good, we strengthen the demands in favor of justice and freedom".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - La Rioja remembers its martyrs, the next blessed

Fides EN - - Mar, 17/07/2018 - 13:29
Chamical - The city of Chamical, in the province and diocese of La Rioja, is preparing to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of its martyrs: Bishop Enrique Angelelli, Fathers Carlos Murias and Gabriel Longueville, and layman Wenceslao Pedernera. On 8 June, the Holy Father signed the decree recognizing the martyrdom in hatred of the faith and therefore paves the way for their next beatification .
The celebrations will begin on the evening of July 17, in El Salvador parish in Chamical, with a cultural evening. On Wednesday 18th, during the morning, pilgrimages to the place of martyrdom will take place. At 9.30 am the Crypt of the Matyrs will be blessed in the parish church, and at 12 o'clock Mass will be celebrated.
Also the diocese of Cruz del Eje, has invited its faithful to take part in these celebrations that will take place in Chamical.
Mgr. Enrique Angelelli , Bishop of the diocese of La Rioja, never hid his opposition to dictatorship. He died in a simulated car accident on August 4, 1976. After 38 years, on July 4, 2014, two senior officers were sentenced to life imprisonment for his murder.
Carlos Murias, a young conventual Franciscan, native of Cordoba, worked in the diocese of La Rioja, where Bishop Angelelli, who had ordained him a priest, had sent him among the poor of Chamical. He was controlled by the military and looked on with suspicion, for his efforts in defense of the peasants. On July 18, 1976, a group of men, who presented themselves as policemen, took him together with the parish priest of Chamical, Fr. Gabriel Longueville, French fidei donum. Their bodies were found two days later, atrociously tortured before being shot. Wenceslao Pedernera, peasant, organizer of the Movimiento Rural Catolico, was murdered in his home by four hooded men on 25 July 1976.
Categorie: From the church