AMERICA/CHILE - National dialogue and the end of violence, because "Chile cannot wait!"

Fides EN - - 7 ore 8 min fa
Santiago - The Episcopal Conference of Chile calls for national dialogue without exclusions and to end all forms of violence. In a message published on 12 November, as conclusion of the 119th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference held in these days in Cañas, the Bishops published the message with the meaningful title: "Chile cannot wait!".
"For the sake of our country, let us end violence! Faced with reports of violations of human rights, of deaths, injuries, vandalism, looting, destruction of public and private infrastructures, we strongly insist that all types of violence cease".
The video presentation of the message, sent to Fides, states: "Respect and dialogue are an urgency today! In the current scenario, in which the nation has been invited to a broad reflection on a new Constitution, a national dialogue is essential without exclusions, which includes not only the political protagonists, but also all men and women of good will, must involve movements and social and labor organizations, following the legitimate institutional channel.
Justice and respect for institutions are the essential condition for coexistence and the reconstruction of the social fabric", underlines the document.
"Chile cannot wait! We must all do our best to break down the walls that separate us and build bridges that allow us to meet and build a social pact that will lead us to a future with more justice, peace and dignity", concludes the document.
The situation in Chile is degenerating into uncontrolled violence in some cities: yesterday in Talca a government office and the church of Mary Help of Christians were set on fire, where they burned sacred images, musical instruments and church stalls. Last weekend the church of La Asuncion in Santiago was ransacked.
President Piñera has proposed three agreements to resolve the crisis as soon as possible . Yesterday a general strike and some demonstrations ended with acts of gratuitous violence against government offices and private properties in several Chilean cities.
The Catholic Church has been working for some time at different levels to face this crisis, suggesting a Christian solution to it , but unfortunately there is no willingness to listen.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Seminar on integral development begins today with the participation of the Holy See

Fides EN - - 7 ore 16 min fa
Abidjan - "Integral human development, the path to peace". This is the theme of the Seminar which begins today, November 13th, and ends on November 15th, organized in Abidjan by the Embassy of the Ivory Coast at the Holy See, in collaboration with the Vatican, to complete the tireless efforts of peace undertaken by Ivorian authorities, external partners and civil and religious organizations in the Country.
An important initiative especially on the eve of the presidential and political elections of 2020, which will attract the attention of the entire population. The organizers intend, through the Seminar, to highlight integral human development as "the ultimate goal, to restore man's dignity and freedom".
It is in this same perspective that the Ivorian Head of State, Alassane Ouattara, addressing his fellow citizens on December 31, 2018, announced the establishment of a "government social program" with the aim of strengthening social action to provide state support to the population, in particular the most vulnerable.
There is therefore a convergence of opinions of the highest Ivorian and Vatican authorities in giving Man, a central place in development systems, through viable models of social integration for a more stable and peaceful society, more humanized and united.
The Seminar is therefore an opportunity for the participants to compare experiences and mutual reflections, in the diversity of the activity and research sectors, around the current problems of development and solidarity, establishing a fruitful dialogue.
Mgr. Bruno-Marie Duffé, Secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for the Service of integral human development, will hold the main report on the theme "The importance and challenges of integral human development, for the future of peace" The seminar will end with a Mass for peace in the Ivory Coast, on Friday 15 November, on the occasion of the 23rd national day for peace in the Country.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PALESTINE - Bethlehem, pilgrims increase. Opening hours at nativity Church has been extended

Fides EN - - 7 ore 27 min fa
Bethlehem - The increase of pilgrims and tourists to Bethlehem continues, the Palestinian city where Jesus was born, and also for this reason the Presidential Committee of Churches Affairs in Palestine announced on Monday 11 November that it has decided to extend the opening hours of the holy site by an extra 3 hours, from 5 am until 8 pm, in preparation for Advent and Christmas. Ramzy Khoury, President of the Committee, pointed out that these efforts are being carried out in response to the increase in the numbers of pilgrims and tourists, both locally and those coming from far afield, visiting Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity. This increase in numbers, especially to the Church of Nativity, has resulted in long queues of people who have to wait from 45 minutes to 2 hours to get a glimpse of the Grotto, where according to tradition baby Jesus was born. To add to that, the church has been undergoing restoration since 2012. Restoration works are still expected to continue until next year.
Bethlehem and East Jerusalem governorates "are the main holy destinations for tourists coming to Palestine" reads a press release by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, published on World Tourism Day last September.
In the first half of 2019, tourist and Holy Sites in the West Bank had received 1,726,560 visits, an increase of 17% compared to the same period of 2018. The statistical data confirm Bethlehem as a favorite destination for pilgrims, especially during Advent and the time of Christmas.
The constant increase of pilgrims and tourists to the Holy Land, recorded in recent years, represents a very important objective data, especially if one takes into account the social, sectarian and geopolitical conflicts that continue to torment the Middle Eastern area .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Ruteng

Fides EN - - 7 ore 42 min fa
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed Siprianus Hormat, of the clergy of Ruteng, currently Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, as Bishop of the Diocese of Ruteng . Siprianus Hormat was born on 16 July 1965 in Cibal, in the Diocese of Ruteng. He entered the Pius XII Diocesan Minor Seminary of Kisol, then continued his philosophical and theological studies in the Philosophical-Theological Studentate of Ledalero, residing at the St. Petrus Inter-diocesan Major Seminary in Ritapiret. He was ordained a priest on 8 October 1995, for the Diocese of Ruteng.
Since his ordination he has served the following ministries: Parochial Vicar of the Parish of San Vitale in Cewonikit and Director of the Diocesan Commission for Youth Ministry ; Formator in the Major Seminary of Ritapiret ; Assistant in the Parish of San Pasquale in Jakarta, attending English language courses at the same time ; Studies in Moral Theology at the Alphonsianum and Course for Formators at the Pontifical Gregorian University ; Formator and lecturer in the Major Seminary of Ritapiret; lecturer at the Diocesan Pastoral Institute of Ruteng ; Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Seminaries and the Indonesian Biblical Association in Jakarta ; President of the National Priestly Association ; since 2016, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Conference .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - The Bishops: "The Church in Indonesia, the engine of unity and interreligious brotherhood"

Fides EN - - 7 ore 48 min fa
Bandung - "The Church must open up, leave the comfort zone and be present in the midst of society to strengthen interreligious brotherhood. The Church must spread peace and benevolence, respect human rights, cultivate dialogue, promote equality and justice, improve public health, raise awareness of scientific developments and maintain harmonious coexistence in diversity": is what the Indonesian Bishops say in the message released at the end of the annual meeting of the Indonesian Bishops' Conference , held in Bandung, which ends tomorrow, November 14, 2019. The message, signed by the President and the General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta and Bishop Antonius Subianto Bunjamin OSC of Bandung, is the result of the intense study days lived by the Indonesian Bishops who discussed the theme "Human fraternity for a peaceful Indonesia".
The Bishops had the opportunity to study and deepen the Abu Dhabi document entitled "Human fraternity for world peace and living together", signed jointly by Pope Francis and the Great Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in February. Some Muslim and Catholic scholars contributed to the analysis, which the Bishops listened to with interest.
The Message, sent to Agenzia Fides, states that "the study days helped the Bishops to better understand the contents of the Abu Dhabi Document", "in the awareness of the existence of extremist movements in Indonesia", in order to "find opportunities to strengthen brotherhood among human beings".
The Indonesian Bishops "thank God for the Indonesian nation based on the Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution imbued with the spirit of 'Bhinneka Tungus Ika' , within the framework of the unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which are all the main pillars to build a harmonious common order of life amidst the diversity of religions, tribes and groups". In this framework the Bishops affirm that "the Indonesian Catholic Church is called to participate in the promotion, struggle and realization of fraternity as shared prosperity". "Diversity is a necessity and a divine gift that must be cultivated and developed with an attitude of mutual acceptance, respect and mutual cooperation", they continue.
The text sent to Fides states that "human fraternity must bring goodness in human life in its dimensions and be a witness and greatness of faith in God who unites divided hearts and becomes a sign of closeness between those who believe that God created human beings to understand each other, work together and live like brothers".
"Coexistence as the basis for realizing human fraternity does not only mean finding common points but it is the willingness to accept and appreciate the differences in beliefs and religious teachings", notes the text, stating that the current challenge of the Indonesian nation is to "contain extremism that often generates acts of terrorism".
The Bishops consider the Abu Dhabi Document "very important to be spread among Catholics and in society, especially among the younger generations in various ways, also using social media". Thus, "new meeting spaces will be born in the community to rethink, redesign, build new hopes and finally act with novelty in religious life". It is important "to live an inclusive religious life without losing one's identity", they underline, so that "men take care of each other and they are passionate about building human fraternity based on respect for human dignity".
The message, then, recommends the government to "adopt wise policies based only on the values of Pancasila, such as humanity, unity, wisdom and justice to reduce social inequalities, prevent conflicts among the children, put an end to forms of prolonged violence, block the rate of environmental damage, give equal opportunities for access to resources and create a more dignified system of coexistence".
Finally, religious leaders, intellectuals, artists, media experts, economists and all the people in their respective sectors of life are asked "to find ways to revive human values for the realization of public welfare, through human fraternity". "We will only be able to live peacefully in this country if all the parties, without exception, always strive to join hands and work together for the common good", the Bishops write in conclusion,
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Peace in Africa is above all a political challenge

Fides EN - - 8 ore 33 min fa
Kara - "The Peace Forum, in the presence of African heads of State in Paris, is a great opportunity for our continent where rebellion and terrorism mix continuously, plunging the population into turmoil and sometimes extreme poverty extreme", says Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions Fr. Donald Zagore to Agenzia Fides.
"The Forum leads us to reflect on the need for a fundamental strategy to face the challenge of peace in order to achieve sustainable development. In Africa, wars are almost always political and economic. Politicians, at a national and international level, act mainly for their interests and to remain in power for a long time. As a result, this initiative cannot be fruitful if African and European political leaders do not focus on the good of the peoples of Africa".
"The wars in Africa are not triggered by the people but rather by politicians hungry for power and money", explains Zagore. "One cannot present oneself in the eyes of the world as apostles of peace worried about the well-being of African populations and at the same time finance revolts, support terrorism to destabilize countries in order to continually pillage resources", he denounced.
"Peace in Africa - notes the theologian - is above all a political challenge. Our politicians must first of all desire peace from the bottom of their hearts. Until, in the eyes of the African people, the actions of our politicians do not reflect their speeches on peace, this will remain only a vain word, because for the moment, as we read in the Old Testament to Psalm 61: with the mouth they bless, but in their hearts they curse".
The appointment of the Peace Forum was established last year by France on the occasion of the centenary of the end of the Great War. Now in its second edition, in 2019 it has as its central theme the defense of multilateralism in the face of the growth of "national selfishness".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Bishops: "We look to the future with hope and, through peace, we continue to build Bolivia"

Fides EN - - 9 ore 6 min fa
La Paz - "Let us build a Bolivia with respect, tolerance, freedom, justice and authentic progress for all", is the appeal launched by the Bishops of Bolivia, through a statement of the General Secretariat of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, entitled "We call to the understanding and peace among all Bolivians" published on 12 November 2019.
"The future of Bolivia is built in compliance with constitutional rules and ensuring guarantees to the representatives of the people in office so that they act conscientiously and seeking the common good", states the text, sent to Agenzia Fides, which calls everyone "to build a Bolivia in peace, fulfilling the historical responsibility we have". Political leaders are asked to "favor a constitutional exit to the created situation", while civil leaders and social movements are called to maintain peace and to depose all kinds of violence.
"The General Secretariat of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference launches an urgent appeal, once again, for harmony and peace among all Bolivian brothers" and recalls that "Jesus Christ invites us to seek peace with all". Therefore may "peace reign in the country, may there be no more aggressions against one another, may ideas not be the cause of violent clashes", and above all "political positions must serve to build a country in progress and freedom, not through clashes among brothers".
The statement concludes with an invitation: "We look to the future with hope and, through peace, we continue to build Bolivia".
According to the latest news, opposition senator Jeanine Anez took over the interim presidency of Bolivia after the resignation of Evo Morales and renounces to replace him with his deputy and the presidents of the Senate and Chamber. The exponent of the Unidad Democratica party said she wanted to commit herself immediately to the peace of the country and to hold new elections.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Civil society: what is the price of peace?

Fides EN - - 9 ore 30 min fa
Kabul - An exchange of prisoners relaunches the peace process in Afghanistan, while the electoral results of the presidential elections on September 28 remain uncertain. Yesterday, November 12, President Ashraf Ghani announced the release of three authoritative members of the Taliban, Haji Mali Khan, Hafiz Rashid and Anas Haqqani, Sirajuddin Haqqani’s brother, leader of the jihadist network and number two of the Taliban movement. A release is "conditioned" by the release of two professors of the American University of Afghanistan, kidnapped in Kabul in 2016: the American Kevin King, 63, and the Australian Timothy Weeks, 50.
The exchange of prisoners is needed to relaunch the negotiation process with the Taliban, interrupted last September 7 when US President Donald Trump announced the stop to negotiations, just as an agreement seemed imminent. Ghani calls for the Taliban to negotiate directly with the government of Kabul and to accept a ceasefire of at least a month.
The forthcoming release of Anas Haqqani, a member of the Taliban extremist wing, sparked a debate in civil society: what is the price of peace? On social media, the reactions are opposed: some praise the courage of President Ghani - who in the September 28th election run for a second term - while others denounce the compromise with bloody terrorists, responsible for the death of thousands of people.
"Dialogue is painful, but necessary", says Negina Yari, a member of the "Peace House" organization in Afghanistan to Agenzia Fides, an organization that, according to the leader, "gathers more than 1,000 members active in the 34 Afghan provinces". Among them are the messengers of peace: "They are university students, but not only, who spread a message of peace and social reconciliation. They do it in the main cities, but above all in the rural areas, where in general there is less activism". Among the issues raised in the meetings, there is "the inclusion of civil society and women in the peace process: without them there will be no stability or reconciliation". It is a long process that needs to be addressed: "I am willing to sit at the table with the Taliban, even though a month ago they killed my cousin, on the road between Ghazni and Kabul. I want to ask them: why did you do it? And then, how to build a united Afghanistan?". But on the political front, there is no unity: some presidential candidates on 28 September, including Prime Minister Abdullah Abdullah, a priori dispute the recount of the electoral commission's votes, while the announcement of the preliminary results is awaited.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - The Bishops: "Join the campaign against corruption"

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 13:53
Nairobi - "We are joining forces to fight corruption in the Country". Thus the Bishops of Kenya ask all Kenyans to support the campaign entitled "Let us Break the Chains of Corruption" launched by them on November 5 .
"We are committed to sustaining this campaign initially for the next six months and going forward", the Bishops said in a statement published at the end of their November Plenary Assembly. "We continue to count on your support because this monster of corruption cannot be faced with only one actor. We must join our hands in fighting and weeding out this vice within our society. Our new appeal is to all Churches, other Faiths and people of goodwill to truly join the war on corruption so as to bring more honesty and integrity in our society".
The declaration defines a very broad spectrum of corruption that goes beyond that practiced by dishonest politicians and officials. "All that promotes the culture of death is corruption", say the Bishops, for example: "The destruction of our environment is corruption;
Killing unborn children, infidelity in marriage and domestic violence is corruption of the family;
Selling drugs to the youth, enticing them to promiscuity and abusing them is the worst form of corruption;
Soliciting for favours and privileges to the disadvantage of others by either bribing or using tribe, religion, clan, political affiliation, office or intimidation is corruption.
The attempt to cheat during exams, even after many concerted efforts by the Government to stop the vice, is a terrible form of corruption that will destroy the credibility that we have as a Country".
Among the other topics addressed by the Plenary is the UN Conference on Population held in Nairobi, entitled "Nairobi Summit on International Conference on Population and Development .
"This summit, under the guise of advancement and development of women, is advocating the so called “Sexual and reproductive health and rights” and “comprehensive sexuality education” as the way to achieve this development of women", the Bishops recall, claiming they do not believe "that these are the issues that truly concern the development of women and humanity at large". Any meaningful summit will be expected to focus on a program that targets actions that "will uplift women and children living in extreme poverty, migration, strategies for development, literacy and education, encouraging the culture of peace, supporting the family as basic unit of society, ending violence against women".
"We reject the introduction of these ideologies centered on gender, and other alien practices, which go against our African culture and our religious heritage. We view this agenda as an intent to corrupt our Youth and enslave them to foreign ideologies, for example, same sex union and active homosexual activities".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SYRIA - Armenian priest and his father killed in Deir ez Zor. Archbishop Marayati: "for us they are martyrs. And the war is not over"

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 13:31
Qamishli - The funeral of the Armenian Catholic priest Hovsep Hanna Petoyan and his father Hanna Petoyan took place this morning in Qamishli, killed on Monday 11 Novembe. The two were attacked by unidentified gunmen as they traveled southbound from Hasaka province to Deir ez-Zor, in the north-east of Syria. "For us they are martyrs. And what happened to them is a confirmation that the war is not over here, as we had hoped", says to Agenzia Fides Boutros Marayati, Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo.
The funerals of the priest and his father were celebrated in the Armenian Catholic Church of St. Joseph, in the presence of priests, religious, and faithful of all the Christian communities present in the area. Father Antranig Ayvazian, Episcopal Vicar of the Armenian Catholic community of Upper Mesopotamia and northern Syria presided over the funeral liturgy.
Father Hovsep, 46, was married and a father of three children, ordained a priest 5 years ago, was the priest of the Armenian Catholic community of Qamishli, in the northeastern Syrian province of Hassake. "In the city of Qamishli" says Archbishop Marayati to Fides, "many Christian refugees also fled from Deir ez-Zor, when that city was devastated by war. He also carried out his pastoral work among them, and for a long time he also followed the projects implemented with the help of international groups to rebuild the church and the houses of the Christians in Deir ez Zor, destroyed by the war. For this reason he went to Deir ez Zor every two weeks to check the progress of the work. He had already carried out six trips to that city so dear to the memory of the Armenians, where there is the shrine of the martyrs of the genocide, also devastated during the conflict".
At the time of the ambush, the priest and his father were travelling together with an Armenian deacon - wounded during the assault - and another person. The two killers had their faces covered and fled after the ambush. The priest's father died immediately. Father Hovsep, wounded in the chest, was brought to a clinic in Deir ez Zor and then transferred by ambulance to a hospital in Hassakè, where he arrived already lifeless.
The city of Deir ez Zor is controlled by the Syrian army, but in the area there are also Kurdish forces and US military still operating. In the sub-district of al-Busayrah, an area where the ambush occurred, armed groups affiliated to the self-styled Islamic State are also concentrated, who yesterday claimed responsibility for the gunning down of the Armenian Catholic Priest and his father . "The car in which the priest was traveling there was the inscription of the Armenian Church".
Syrian state TV SANA called the killing of the Armenian Catholic priest and his father "martyrdom", while the Kurdish media presented the resurgence of bloody attacks attributable to Daesh as an indirect consequence of the Turkish military intervention in Syria, which forced Kurdish militias operating in the area to review their strategies and suspend military operations against jihadist cells still present in the north-east of Syria.
According to the Kurds of the Rojava Information Center, Daesh jihadists allegedly carried out 30 attacks in the first ten days of November, with a 300 percent increase from their activity levels compared to the period prior to the Turkish military initiative in Syrian territory.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Dialogue and evangelization in the family

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 13:09
Port Moresby - "Constant and eloquent dialogue in families is essential to build healthy relationships". As Fides learns, this was the main message by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Goroka, Fr. Piotr Michalski, MSF, during the annual seminar of the diocesan Coordinators of the committees dedicated to the family, underway in Port Moresby.
"When we pray together with children we tend to feel the need to set a good example for them", said Fr. Piotr stressing the importance of creating and maintaining and cultivating dialogue in families, as an opportunity to spread the seeds of the Gospel. "A family that lacks close dialogue or communication among its members tends to isolate itself", he recalled.
Sisters, nuns, lay diocesan coordinators of the realities that deal with family life from all over the country took part in the seminar that wanted to reflect on the role that priests, religious and laity can play in the life of Catholic families, accompanying them in the path of growth spiritual and deepening of faith. Participants have the opportunity to share their experiences and highlight the challenges faced as spouses in families.
"The family is the heart of society and must be formed with Christian values to thrive in happiness and unity", said Sister Lucy D’Souza, MSI, National Secretary of the Family Life Commission.
Sister Hendrina Sinipo SSpS, coordinator of the family life commission of the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen, expressed her gratitude for the seminar, stating that more needs to be done in her diocese, particularly to address polygamy and juvenile marriages. "Although there is a tendency to polygamy and juvenile marriages, I am ready to do everything possible to help families, especially couples, improve their relationships and demonstrate the importance of God within them", he said.
The seminar is underway at the Bishops' Conference in Port Moresby and will end on November 15th. Among the guests also the Archbishop of Madang, Mgr. Anthon Bal, and the Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference, Fr. Giorgio Licini PIME are expected.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - An Australian Bishop: "Refugees live in inhuman conditions"

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 12:11
Port Moresby - "I’ve heard of the precarious conditions of refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea. However, after meeting some of them, I realized that the situation in which they live is inhuman and dehumanizing: their history of suffering touched me a lot. Meeting the asylum seekers also gave me the opportunity to express our solidarity and the support, prayers and goodwill of the Australian people, which has a great tradition in the care of migrants and refugees. I am grateful for this meeting, but I am worried about their condition". This is what Mgr. Vincent Van Long, OFM, Bishop of the Diocese of Paramatta, Australia, and responsible for the Commission for migrants and refugees in the Australian Bishops' Conference said in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, after their visit to Papua Nuova Guinea and the meeting with some refugees and asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus Island.
The two islands, situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, are home to refugee camps where migrants and asylum seekers heading for Australia are transferred and detained in inhuman conditions after being rejected: the refugees on the island have been living in that limbo now for years and some of them, in a state of physical and psychological despair and prostration, have committed suicide to put an end to their suffering.
Mgr. Van Long commented the meeting, which took place in recent days and in Port Moresby, between a delegation of seven members of the Australian Church and some of the refugees who have been stranded in Papua New Guinea for years. During the visit, the Bishop had the opportunity to visit the houses offered by the Papuan government to migrants: the initiative was launched last August with the intention of transferring asylum seekers from the Isle of Manus to the Papuan capital, offering them decent accommodation, with a home and health care. "This solution, which also represents a step forward, does not seem to appease the desperation of the detained refugees", the Bishop said after visiting the homes for migrants. "I urge the local Catholic Church to continue its humanitarian assistance efforts and assure the full support of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference and its communities", concluded Mgr. Long.
Since 2013, the Australian government has adopted the "No Way" policy, based on total closure against migrants: the coasts are guarded by a massive deployment of naval units and those arriving by ship will not have the right to legally establish themselves in the Country. Some migrants are brought back to their country of origin, while others are resettled on the island of Manus, territory of Papua New Guinea, or on the island of Nauru, where refugee camps are organized and where asylum seekers remain for a long period.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - The President of CELAM: "Throughout our region there is a sort of unprecedented ‘social explosion’

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 11:51
Trujillo - "I wish to express my strongest rejection of violence, wherever it comes from, and appeal to the rulers and the authorities of our region to implement concrete and real policies that guarantee the promotion of the human person and the common good, based on the fundamental rights of freedom, respect, equity, justice and care of our common home, so that our peoples can truly have integral human development". This is what was expressed by Mgr. Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, OFM, President of the Latin American Episcopal Council , in his message to the Chilean people, in the face of the serious situation the country is experiencing, similar to that of many other Latin American countries. "It is important to remember - emphasizes the Archbishop - that politics, which is above all a service, is not at the service of individual ambitions, nor of the power of factions, because the immunity enjoyed by many politicians should never become impunity".
"Profound solidarity and closeness to the Church and to the Chilean people who suffer violence, which affect especially the most humble and vulnerable people" are expressed by Mgr. Cabrejos Vidarte, who recalls the words of the Permanent Council of the Bishops' Conference of Chile: "the people are not only tired of injustice, but also of violence".
In his message on 11 November, which has as its title a verse from the prophet Isaiah: "Peace is the fruit of justice" , Mgr. Cabrejos Vidarte, who is Archbishop of Trujillo and President of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, also recalls "our brothers and sisters in the Latin America region and the Caribbean who are suffering from the violence that plagues entire families, especially in Bolivia, Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Chile and Peru".
For the President of CELAM the causes of this situation "are found in corruption, in imperfect democracies and in situations of poverty, inequality, unemployment or underemployment, in the poor quality and coverage of health, education and transport services. Throughout our region there is a sort of unprecedented "social explosion".
Mgr. Cabrejos Vidarte, after recalling that the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean is a single body and "when a part of that body suffers, the Church suffers, shares its pain, but also its hope", insists on the need to "seek peace through dialogue, with the participation of all the protagonists and institutions, to find real solutions oriented to the common good". To the Virgin Mary, the President of CELAM asks to help, guide and enlighten "the research of peace, justice and the common good".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Violence increases: Indian Christians claim their constitutional rights

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 10:53
New Delhi - "Atrocities against Christians are on the rise. In 2014, about 150 episodes of violence against the community were reported. In 2016, the count rose to 200 and in 2017 it went up to 270 accidents. In 2018, there were 292 episodes of violence against Christians. In 2019 247 cases were reported, 60 of which in the state of Uttar Pradesh. In the past year, 40 churches have been closed due to violence. In Chhattisgarh, communities and other Christian groups even face a social boycott. We ask the government to end the harassment towards pastors, priests and violence against the Christian community". This is what Christian leader Minakshi Singh, one of the Christian leaders who in recent days called a public demonstration in Delhi, says to Agenzia Fides. Among the points raised by the Christian community, is to put an end to the attacks and violence on priests, religious, nuns and lay people, often unjustly accused of "fraudulent conversions".
Indian Christians are asking the federal government to protect the well-being of religious minorities, especially Christians, in all areas of life. Christian communities regret that the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not given representation to religious minorities, not including any Christian minister in the government. "We hope that Modi will soon be able to appoint a Christian minister in his cabinet who has the confidence of the community and is able to safeguard the interests and rights of Christians in the times to come", says Minakshi Singh.
"Religious minorities, like Christians and Muslims, are targeted by nationalist Hindu groups. For this reason urgent measures are needed against the groups responsible for this violence", said to Fides A. C. Michael, Indian leader of the" Alliance for the Defense of Freedom , a global organization that defends the rights of Christians. According to Michel, who is also the coordinator of the United Christian Forum, Christian leaders have also drawn government attention to the laws called the "Freedom of Religion Act", in force in seven Indian states, habitually used incorrectly as a pretext to hit the Christian community. "These laws should be immediately withdrawn to ensure total religious freedom", notes Michael, a Catholic lay person.
Christian leaders have expressed concern about the rise in violence against the faithful, confirmed by the National Crime Records Bureau . Protestant Bishop Emeritus Karam Masih of Delhi said: "Our rights should be protected. We are peace loving people. The government should do everything to keep peace. The government should support constitutional values".
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Sr. Neusa de Fatima Mariano re-elected Superior General: “great challenges to face in the next six years”

Fides EN - - Mar, 12/11/2019 - 10:43
Rocca di Papa - Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano was re-elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo – Scalabrinians. She will therefore continue to lead the congregation for the sexennial, 2019-2025. Sister Neusa is Brazilian, and graduated in pedagogy. She was elected by the Chapter members, present at the 14th General Chapter underway in Rocca di Papa, which also renewed the other offices of the Council . The Scalabrinians have been dealing with migrants all over the world since their foundation.
"I thank the sisters who participated in the Chapter and all those who, in the different places of the world where we operate, have been close to us with prayer - said Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano in the note sent to Agenzia Fides -. In the previous six years we have embarked on a profound path of reorganization, with an increasingly globalized world and with deep and diverse migration needs and emergencies. The Pope Francis’ four verbs – to welcome, protect, promote and integrate - are for us the cardinal points of a journey in support of migrants and refugees, for their protection and their inclusion. In the next six years there will be great challenges to face, bearing in mind that in our hearts the words and teachings of Jesus Christ are present, which illuminate the world with hope and joy. We have and we will always do it, with the examples of Christian life of St. Charles Borromeo, of our founder Blessed Monsignor Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, and of our co-founders, Blessed Mother Assunta Marchetti and Venerable Father Giuseppe Marchetti".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Looted and desecrated places of worship, the Bishops ask to apply the law and rebuild the social fabric

Fides EN - - Lun, 11/11/2019 - 12:55
Santiago - Solidarity with the Apostolic Administrator Mgr. Celestino Aós and all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Santiago after the looting and desecration of the parish of the Assumption of Mary, was expressed by the Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference of Chile through a statement, dated November 9th, extending solidarity to communities and pastors "of other churches and places of prayer of different cults that were attacked in many cities". Hooded protesters broke into the Church of the Assumption of Mary, which is near the gathering place of the protesters against the Chilean government and social inequality. Benches, statues and sacred images were set on fire, making barricades against the police. The political and social crisis which broke out a few weeks ago in Chile, is an expression of the accumulation of hardship and unequal treatment of the population, and is now being accompanied by violent and uncontrolled demonstrations. Even the Cathedral of Valparaiso was targeted by a group of protesters who had tried to set fire to the large wooden doors and, after entering, destroyed the benches and several sacred images .
The text, signed by the President of the Bishops' Conference, Mgr. Santiago Silva, by the Vice President, Mgr. René Rebolledo; by the Secretary General, Mgr. Fernando Ramos, and the Committee member, Mgr. Juan Ignacio González, stresses: "We are hurt by the mistreatment of people, constant looting and violence, wherever it comes from; it hurts when our churches and places of prayer are attacked without respect for God and for those who believe in Him. Churches and other places of worship are sacred".
Invoking, through prayer, God's forgiveness for these attacks, the Bishops add: "together with many Chileans we are radically opposed to injustice and violence, we condemn them in all their forms and we expect the courts to identify those responsible and punish them. The violent prevent us from looking with due attention to the claims of the majority of the Chilean people who want real and peaceful solutions".
In order to restore civil and peaceful coexistence, the Bishops ask the authorities "to apply the law and exercise it using all the resources of a democratic state. People are not only tired of injustice, but also of violence and the vast majority eagerly awaits dialogue to rebuild the social fabric". The statement closes invoking the Virgin of Carmen,"to give us a united Chile, forged by the efforts of all men and women of good will".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Undermining mission means undermining the very nature of the Church: No to "invisible Shepherds"

Fides EN - - Lun, 11/11/2019 - 12:40
Kara - "The challenge of mission must be a priority for our churches in Africa. Often the many challenges that we Churchmen face are weakening the will to open up and involve the risk of a bureaucratic pastoral care. Our Shepherds sometimes find themselves trapped, they become prisoners of offices, unable to go out to meet people". Father Donald Zagore, Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions returns to reflect on the reality of the mission in Africa by proposing "a missionary culture of tents rather than offices".
"The bureaucratic style that increasingly characterizes the pastoral dynamics of many of our Churches in Africa risks killing the prophetic and missionary nature of the same", explains the priest. "Mission does not take place in offices, but in the meeting with the people. We must never forget that the Church is missionary by nature, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us. To undermine mission means to undermine the very nature of the Church".
"The bureaucratic style favors increasingly churches to close up on themselves - Zagore insists - unable to open up and above all to go out of themselves to meet others. In the long run, this style makes the Shepherds more and more invisible and far from the people. In Africa we want visible Shepherds".
"Our offices, giant walls that separate and distance priests from the faithful, must be replaced by placing tents in the vast courtyards of our parishes to give Shepherds the opportunity to be in permanent contact with the faithful. Facing the challenge of tents, rather than that of offices, could constitute a renewed missionary vocation in the churches in Africa", concludes Zagore.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - Strong participation in the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Missionary Month

Fides EN - - Lun, 11/11/2019 - 12:36
Dar es Salaam - More than 2000 faithful participated in the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in Tanzania held yesterday, Sunday 10 November, at the Msimbazi Center in the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam.
Representatives of all the dioceses of the country took part in the national Eucharistic celebration: Bishops, priests, nuns and laity. The Holy Mass was presided over by the President of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania , His Exc. Mgr. Gervas John Mwasikwabhila Nyaisonga, Archbishop of Mbeya, with all the Bishops of the Country and with His Exc. Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, Assistant Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies . 15 representatives of Papal Missionary Organizations from the English-speaking countries were also present. At the same time on November 9th -15th this year, there will be a meeting of the Papal Missionary Organizations for English-speaking countries, which is held every two years, and their last meeting was held in Harare Zimbabwe in 2017.
The President of the Episcopal Commission for Missions, His Exc. Mgr. Damian Denis Dallu, Archbishop of Songea, issued a statement on the Extraordinary Missionary Month, saying that the Holy Father urged the Church in Tanzania to continue engaging in activities that will bring the Good News to people who have not yet received it. The National Director of the PMS in Tanzania, Fr. Jovitus Mwijage, informed Agenzia Fides of some of the initiatives launched during the Extraordinary Missionary Month. The PMS published posters in Swahili and translations of the Papal message for World Mission Sunday circulated in radio, whatsap, emails and websites. The same happened for the daily reflections that had been published on the website of the Extraordinary Missionary Month. There was also a strong spiritual renewal through seminars, pilgrimages and retreats organized by the Holy Childhood society and by various local youth and lay movements.
Finally, in various dioceses, charitable acts were carried out by children and their animators, including visits to orphans, the elderly, children in prisons and children affected by AIDS.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - Archbishop Dal Toso at the closing of the Extraordinary Missionary Month: Africa is a big hope for the Church

Fides EN - - Lun, 11/11/2019 - 12:11
Dar es Salaam - With the hope that the missionary seeds planted during the Extraordinary Missionary Month continue to germinate and bear fruits in missionary apostolate, Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies , during the concluding celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in Tanzania , stressed that "Africa is a big hope for the universal Church". During the solemn Eucharistic celebration held on Sunday 10 November at the Msimbazi Center in Dar es Salaam, with the participation of Bishops, religious and laity, as well as civil authorities, the Archbishop highlighted the growth of the African Church in quantity and quality, and above all its missionary growth, since it sends missionaries to the different countries not only in Africa but also all over the world. Mgr. Dal Toso called to look to the future, the year 2022, when the 4th centenary of the foundation of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the bicentenary of the creation of the Missionary Society for the Propagation of the Faith, and the centenary of the Societies’ elevation to the “Pontifical” status will be celebrated". The President of the PMS thanked for what the Catholic Church of Tanzania has been doing and is still doing to promote the Pontifical Mission Societies and the entire work of spreading the Gospel, inviting them to continue to cultivate the missionary spirit, especially among the young generation".
Quoting St. John Paul II and Pope Francis on the urgency of revitalizing and intensifying missionary work, still far from being completed, making every baptized person aware of his missionary responsibility, Archbishop Dal Toso recalled that "to raise missionary awareness is the great vocation of our Pontifical Mission Societies". Created in Europe, in order to promote evangelization in mission territories, including Tanzania, the PMS have supported the creation and growth of the young Churches. "Our task now - reiterated Mgr. Dal Toso - is to continue with the Mission of these Societies, because still now we need to spread in the Church a missionary spirit", and he urged to work even more to make them known, to promote them and to internalize them in the pastoral plans of the dioceses and even in the life of the Small Christian Communities.
In the concluding part of his speech, the Archbishop focused on the theme of the family, "without which it would be impossible to build a healthy society", and urged "to evangelize the family, so that families may in turn become evangelizer". In this regard he cited the experience of missionary families, initiated by the PMS of Paraguay 10 years ago, when some families began to visit other families bringing them the good news of the Gospel. Today there are more than 5000 missionary families that have now started their mission also in other Latin American countries. From this example, the President of the PMS proposed that in Catholic families the Gospel of the day be read together every day, as a form of prayer in common, since "gathering together in the name of Christ allows us to come to know him more intimately and to create relationships of true communion between us".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarchate: three days of fasting to call for peace to return in Iraq

Fides EN - - Lun, 11/11/2019 - 11:25
Baghdad - From Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 November "the sons and daughters" of the Chaldean Church are called to fast and pray God for the gift of peace and for the return to stability in Iraq. This was asked by Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, inviting to resort to the spiritual weapons of fasting and prayer to call for an end to the chaos and violence that are bloodying the Country. The Primate of the Chaldean Church has also renewed the appeal to the government and to demonstrators so that all exercise "wisdom and moderation in giving priority to the general interest" of the entire Iraqi people, avoiding to shed innocent blood and to loot or damage public and private goods.
At the moment, at least 320 Iraqis have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces.
In recent hours, the US administration has intervened on the Iraqi crisis with a statement from the White House spokesman issued by the US Embassy in Baghdad, in which it takes a stand in favor of the demonstrators and shows the way to early elections as a way to try to emerge from the chaos and appease the anti-government protests, which exploded in early October and ended in blood. The US statement in fact justifies protests as an understandable reaction to the rise of Iranian influence in Iraq.
Categorie: From the church