AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Support for the Church in Nicaragua on behalf of American Catholics

Fides EN - - Sab, 08/08/2020 - 12:54
Washington - Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement:

"Alongside Pope Francis and my brother bishops throughout Latin America, I condemn the sacrilegious attack against the Cathedral of Managua that occurred on Friday, July 31. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, archbishop of Managua, called the incendiary-bomb attack an ‘act of terrorism’. The apparent target of the explosion—an historic crucifix crafted in the 17th century—has become a poignant image of the country’s suffering Church, which has sustained repeated rhetorical and physical attacks since attempting to mediate peace in 2018.
I thank the U.S. government for its prompt statement of support for the Church in Nicaragua in the aftermath of this attack. I urge the Administration to continue its search for peace in Nicaragua.
The Church in the United States stands with the suffering Nicaraguan faithful, and with all people of goodwill striving for peace and reconciliation in Nicaragua".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/EL SALVADOR - Rector of Santiago de María of Zacatecoluca Major Seminary murdered

Fides EN - - Sab, 08/08/2020 - 11:59
Zacatecoluca - Father Ricardo Antonio Cortéz was shot dead yesterday August 7, 2020. According to reports from the diocese of Zacatecoluca sent to Agenzia Fides, the vehicle with the corpse of the religious was found on the side of the El Litoral highway, which connects San Salvador with several municipalities in the department of La Paz and the eastern coastal area, about 80 km southeast of San Salvador.
According to the note received, the Salvadoran security authorities have not given details on the investigations being carried out to clarify and identify those responsible.
El Salvador is considered to be one of the most violent countries in the world with the highest murder rates. Between 2015 and 2018, between 103 and 50.3 for every 100,000 inhabitants were registered. The crimes are mainly attributed to the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The bishop of Mendi urges everyone to observe together the first International Day against sorcery accusation violence

Fides EN - - Sab, 08/08/2020 - 11:02
Port Moresby - "Those who torture and kill women accused of sorcery are clearly guilty of the crime they are reporting", said Mgr. Donald Lippert, Bishop of Mendi, on recent episodes of violence against women accused of sanguma or sorcery .
A note sent to Agenzia Fides shows that the alarm against domestic violence and all forms of violence continues to increase in the Country. According to what was declared by Sister Lorena Jenal, a missionary in the diocese of Mendi, three women were tortured and burned on Easter Sunday after being accused of the death of an elderly man who for many years suffered from asthma and kidney failure. Recently, six other women in the province have been charged with sorcery. To these episodes of torture and abuse, which resulted in death, is added that of a young woman last month.
By promoting a campaign against SAV in PNG on social media, Bishop Lippert denounced the serious phenomenon that continues to occur and urged the Church, together with all people of good will, to face it and eradicate it once and for all from society.
Mgr. Lippert concluded his speech by inviting everyone to celebrate the first international day against against sorcery accusation violence to be held on August 10. "Let us all observe it together, pray together and act to stop the violence related to SAV in PNG".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - The Catholic Church is always present where situations of poverty and illness are most urgent: the Camillians on the island of Flores help about 700 families

Fides EN - - Sab, 08/08/2020 - 10:54
Maumere - The coronavirus pandemic has also reached Indonesia with about 120,000 infected cases and more than 5,000 deaths. In particular, large cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bali, Medan have been affected, where the government immediately imposed lockdown measures with the consequences of a predictable increase in poverty for thousands of families and workers.
"The island of Flores, one of the 17 thousand that make up the Indonesian archipelago with 1.9 million inhabitants, has fortunately registered only a hundred infections and so far no deaths" writes to Agenzia Fides Father Luigi Galvani, Camillian missionary pioneer of the mission of his institute in Flores more than 10 years ago .
"The preventive measures imposed by local authorities right from the very beginning with the closure of schools, churches, mosques, hotels and meeting places were very important - adds the missionary. Unfortunately, however, many workers, especially occasional workers on the island, have lost their jobs, thus increasing their already existing situation of family poverty".
"The Camillian missionaries did not remain insensitive and organized a program of concrete food assistance that reached about 700 families dispersed in the various villages, even the farthest on the island. This was possible - explains Galvani - thanks above all to special help from the Camillian Task Force in Rome. Among the beneficiaries, in addition to the 100 families with suspected cases of infection, about fifty mentally ill patients for whom the missionaries had built special houses throughout the year , a group of patients with HIV, and hundreds of needy families from various villages.
Father Galvani concluded by stressing that "the people's gratitude responses have been moving and this has recharged the missionaries with new enthusiasm, but above all have testified once again how the Catholic Church is always present with its solidarity where the most urgent cases are those regarding situations of poverty and disease".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - A missionary from the province of Guayas: "There is no certainty"

Fides EN - - Sab, 08/08/2020 - 09:55
Duràn - "Since May 28, our city has a yellow light, meaning commercial activities have reopened but with capacity reduced to 30% in order not to create crowds. Churches have also opened", writes Fr. Saverio Turato, a fidei donum priest in Duràn, province of Guayas, to Agenzia Fides.
"We are gradually resuming liturgical celebrations, but many people are afraid of gathering. In addition, children under 12 and adults over 60 cannot enter the church. So we are very few".
On the evolution of the pandemic, Don Saverio writes: "the infections continue even if mortality has decreased. Unfortunately, people do not obey the measures and seem to have returned to life as before: parties, football and volleyball in the street and all strictly without a mask ... and only a few days ago the mayors intervened harshly by prohibiting any type of party and gatherings, both public and private".
"Unfortunately there has been a surge in infections in Quito and in the cities of the Andes - explains the priest. The past few weeks have been very critical for them. Even some patients were transferred to hospitals in Guayaquil".
"Another scandalous phenomenon that fills the pages of newspapers is the corruption that is rampant in the Country. Numerous politicians and the former president of the Republic, Abdalá Bucaram, are accused of having resold drugs and hospital materials, raising prices to public hospitals", he concludes.
Official statistics confirm 90,537 infected, 13,342 active cases, 5,877 deaths and 71,318 recovered.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - "Creating spaces for dialogue, conflict is not Bolivian culture", Mgr. Centellas celebrates Te Deum for 195 years of independent life

Fides EN - - Ven, 07/08/2020 - 10:43
Sucre - The President of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference, Mgr.Ricardo Centellas, presided over the Eucharist of thanksgiving during the 195 years of Bolivia's independent life, this Thursday 6 August, in the Chapel of the Virgen de Guadalupe in the Archdiocese of Sucre.
For the occasion, the archbishop underlined the need for fraternal, open and sincere dialogue among Bolivians in order to achieve the integral development of the Country.
During the homily, he asked everyone for generosity and unity to deal with the pandemic: "the health system is collapsing, it had already collapsed before, that is why the generosity of people and institutions must continue. With these signs we are fully aware that the only way is unity and solidarity, if we do not understand it is impossible to face the pandemic", he stressed.
Mgr. Centellas spoke of the contradictions that the Country must face in the midst of the health emergency: "What we are experiencing in Bolivia is inadmissible, we have tremendous contradictions, but what we see at a national level attract attention, how is it possible to govern and make political calculations, how is it possible to block roads and ask for democracy, how is it possible to proclaim life and close the school year, how is it possible to face the economic crisis, when institutional bureaucracy continues, how is it possible that we are all Bolivians, but we do not all have the same dignity, don't we all have the same opportunity to live with dignity?", he asked.
"We must move to create spaces for dialogue, spaces for fraternal encounter, an open, sincere, frank dialogue, with the truth of the facts, and find solutions, find alternatives to continue moving forward, because we are stagnant, this destructive attitude cannot win, this conflictual attitude is not Bolivian culture. We are characterized by the opposite, hospitality, closeness, brotherhood, therefore let us pray and may God free us from all these evils and move forward, seeking the integral development of all of Bolivia, of all the Bolivians", he concluded.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The health crisis jeopardizes the future of the most precarious populations

Fides EN - - Ven, 07/08/2020 - 09:01
Port Moresby - The crisis in the health sector in Papua New Guinea in recent months is worsening. Nurses and doctors from Catholic Health Services and Healthcare Facilities have reduced or stopped work completely since July 3 because of the lack of government subsidies and salaries since the beginning of 2020. "The government's financial difficulties in these pandemic times and changing economic policies and foreign investment can be understood given the pandemic period. However, priorities must be established", writes Fr. Giorgio Licini, PIME, general secretary of the PNGSI Bishops' Conference, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides.
"The problem here - underlines Fr. Licini - are health services in rural areas. The Church, as in similar cases in the past, is able to deploy emergency resources, however, without the salaries paid by the government, health services would be sufficient for less than a year. The government must be careful not to undermine its Christian inspiration by leaving out remote areas. In a poorer post-COVID-19 world, there will be no room for personal greed; or human arrogance will push millions back to the margins and in conditions of hunger, disease and death".
The health services of the different Christian denominations in PNG cover about 50% of the total national health sector. The fact that they are mainly found in rural areas, where there is hardly any government infrastructure, indicates how important these are to millions of disadvantaged citizens in the country.
The Secretary of Bishops also points out that Papua New Guinea is a rare example of a country that refrains from investing in armaments. "The task of ensuring sufficient financial resources for the basic services required, for the state apparatus and for infrastructure improvements for a growing population is daunting", he explains. At the end of the day, each person and each country is largely responsible for their fate. What is essential is the integrity and commitment of the leadership, which is immediately reflected in the treatment reserved for the marginalized and the poor".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - The bishops on the political crisis in the Country: "This is the worst time to cause a new crisis"

Fides EN - - Gio, 06/08/2020 - 13:12
Lima - From large private companies to trade unions and the Catholic Church, everyone has asked the Executive and the Congress of Peru to immediately overcome the serious political crisis that the Country is facing after the Legislative power caused the fall of the cabinet of Prime Minister Pedro Cateriano last Tuesday.
The common denominator of all the statements on Wednesday was the invocation to reach a consensus that prevents the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, which sees Peru as the seventh Country in the world and the third in Latin America with most cases.
Peru's Congress on Tuesday denied a vote of confidence in the cabinet, leading to President Martin Vizcarra's announcement of a reshuffle.
The text of the statement of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference , sent to Fides, stresses that the country "is experiencing times of suffering and pain due to the pandemic" and it is urgent "to promote national unity". "This is the worst time to provoke a new crisis", they wrote. "The political class must put aside the differences they can have and rise to current circumstances, favoring the lives of Peruvians".
Finally, the bishops called on political forces "to seek consensus", with a "priority program" that seeks the well-being of all Peruvians and thus build "on the basis of dialogue, good faith and place the common good before any group interest".
The political crisis in the Country occurs at a time in which the Country has exceeded 20,000 deaths due to COVID-19 and has almost reached 440,000 reported infections.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Letter from 152 bishops to criticize the management of the government

Fides EN - - Gio, 06/08/2020 - 10:57
Brasilia - A group of 152 bishops from Brazil, about a third of the total members of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference, has published a "Letter to the People of God", in which serious criticisms are made to President Jair Bolsonaro for the way he has handled the covid-19 pandemic, but also the government's political orientation.
"Brazil is going through one of the most difficult periods in its history, comparable to a 'perfect storm' which, painfully, cannot be postponed. The cause of this storm is the combination of an unprecedented health crisis, with an overwhelming collapse of the economy and the tension that befell the foundations of the republic, caused in large measure by the president of the republic and other sectors of society, resulting in a profound political and governance crisis", says the document.
According to the note sent to Fides, the Bishops said that the draft would be presented to the executive committee of the bishops' conference in an already scheduled meeting Aug. 5. The letter, however, was leaked to the media July 26. "We are bishops of the Catholic Church, from various regions of Brazil, in profound communion with Pope Francis and his magisterium and in full communion with the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, which in the exercise of its evangelizing mission, always places itself at the defense of children, justice and peace", reads the letter.
"It is within this horizon that we position ourselves in relation to the current reality in Brazil. We have no political, party, economic, ideological or other interests. Our only interest is the Kingdom of God, present in our history, as we move forward in building a structurally just, fraternal and supportive society, like a civilization of love".
"This scenario of dangerous deadlocks, which test our country, requires much more dialogue from its institutions, leaders and civil organizations than closed ideological speeches".
The bishops argue that "the current government system does not focus on the human person and the good of all, but on the uncompromising defense of the interests of an "economy that kills".
The document adds that "religion is also used to manipulate feelings and beliefs, provoke divisions, spread hatred, create tensions among churches and their leaders", warning that "any association between religion and power in the secular state is harmful, especially the association between fundamentalist religious groups and the maintenance of authoritarian power".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Caritas Lebanon: "We are living a nightmare, but we will not give up and will continue to help the most vulnerable"

Fides EN - - Gio, 06/08/2020 - 10:17
Beirut - More than 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes, thousands have been wounded and hundreds have died: this is the provisional toll caused by the explosion that took place on Tuesday, 4 August in the port of Beirut . "It is a terrible and disastrous situation and today we are in total confusion", reports to Caritas Internationalis Rita Rhayem, director of Caritas Lebanon, whose staff immediately took action to help the people affected by the explosion.
"The situation is critical and this is the first time that we face an emergency of this magnitude, but we will not stop and will go forward to help all the people in difficulty", she underlines. "Many have died and been wounded, and from a health point of view the situation will likely deteriorate rapidly due to the effects of toxic gases. Caritas Lebanon is preparing for this possibility, but our health centers have no means to deal with such a situation and the rescue operations are made even more difficult due to the lack of electricity".
The note sent to Agenzia Fides reports that the Caritas Lebanon headquarters have also been seriously damaged by the explosion. According to local sources, the office had closed just before the explosion and therefore no one among the staff was injured.
"The country has stopped and we are experiencing a nightmare - says the president of Caritas Lebanon, Father Michel Abboud - We have nothing to help the population. Beirut is devastated and we are totally overwhelmed by the scale of events".
"Our volunteers immediately mobilized to locate and assist the injured, who are unfortunately already overwhelmed and incredibly crowded in our primary care centers, as well as hospitals. Everything is lacking, including food to support the affected population", stresses Rita Rhayem.
"The explosions caused further damage to a Lebanon already on its knees due to the economic and political crisis, violence, the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequences of the economic sanctions imposed on Syria - underlines Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis. "We must not forget how much the effects of economic sanctions and violence have weakened this country and are weighing heavily on Lebanon, which today must also face a serious food crisis". John urges "the international community to intervene urgently and unconditionally in order to help the population, so that they act decisively to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese, by immediately removing the economic sanctions".

Link correlati :More Info
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarch Rai: "mysterious explosion" in Beirut. We ask everyone for help

Fides EN - - Mer, 05/08/2020 - 13:28
Beirut - "Beirut, the bride of the East, Beirut, the lighthouse of the West, is wounded". It is a "devastated city", reduced to "a scenario of war without war". Thus begins the appeal launched by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai "to the States of the world", after the "mysterious explosion" which took place on Tuesday 4 August in the port of the Lebanese capital, with a provisional toll of more than one hundred dead and thousands injured.
The devastating event - repeated the Lebanese Cardinal - disemboweled the city, spreading death and devastation, destroying hospitals, houses, churches and mosques, hotels and shops. And this - the Patriarch urges - occurs just as the Lebanese State "is in a situation of economic and financial bankruptcy which renders it unable to face this catastrophe", with the people reduced "in conditions of poverty and misery".
The Church - reports the Cardinal - has set up a rescue network throughout the Lebanese territory, but the emergency is such that every effort made by the national community is unequal with respect to the catastrophe that has hit the Country. For this reason, on behalf of the Church in Lebanon, Patriarch Rai thanks in advance "all the States that have expressed their willingness to help Beirut", and addresses "all the friend and brother States", and in particular to the great Powers and to the United Nations, asking everyone for immediate help for the salvation of Beirut, regardless of any political and geopolitical consideration and calculation, "because what happened goes beyond politics and goes beyond conflicts". Lebanon, bent in recent years by a sequence of political, financial, economic and national security catastrophes - adds the Maronite Patriarch - now "deserves the support of its brothers and friends, necessary to put its capital back on its feet". According to Patriarch Rai, the most appropriate way to deal with the state of emergency is to set up a "United Nations-controlled fund" to manage aid. "I address you" concluded the Patriarch, "because I know that you love Lebanon and that you will respond to this appeal. I turn to you because I know how much you care that Lebanon regains its historical role at the service of man, democracy and peace in the Middle East and in the world".

At the time of the explosion, which devastated Beirut on the afternoon of Tuesday 4 August, the Lebanese, exhausted by the economic crisis and the COVID emergency that had returned to paralyze the Country in the last few days, immediately rushed to help their compatriots: doctors and health personnel have opened hospitals and clinics to the many injured, hotel owners have made their facilities available to welcome the displaced people who have fled their destroyed homes. Convents, monasteries, churches and mosques have done the same. The offices of Caritas Lebanon were also devastated by the explosion.
"This painful tragedy", reads a statement issued late in the afternoon by the political office of the Shiite Hezbollah Party "and its social, economic, humanitarian and health repercussions" urge all Lebanese, from political forces and all the actors of the Country, to be united in order to overcome this difficult trial".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Covid 19: health projects to raise awareness, train and prepare health workers

Fides EN - - Mer, 05/08/2020 - 10:34
Yopougon-Kouté - The St. Laurent parish of Yopougon Kouté celebrates today 5 August the ceremony for the delivery of protective face masks, hydroalcoholic gel, sterilizers and ventilators, infrared thermometers and other material to some hospitals in the area.
The medical material, purchased with the help of the Italian Episcopal Conference and Caritas Italy , is distributed by Avsi, Missionary Community of Villaregia, the Soleterre Foundation and the Consolata Missions Institute.
Last April the Presidency of the Conference of Italian Bishops allocated € 6 million, to which another 3 million were added in May, for the Coronavirus emergency in Africa and other poor Countries in the world. Thanks to these resources, from the 8x1000 funds to the Catholic Church, 381 were funded in health initiatives and 160 in training.
CEI and CI contributed to this global initiative by financing 10 health projects in the capital Abidjan and in other cities which benefit from as many health facilities. Each of them, located mainly in the suburbs and rural areas, received between 10 and 15 thousand euros, according to the need and the number of beds in the facility.
Seven of these projects were accompanied by the NGOs Avsi and Soleterre, by the Missionary Community of Villaregia, which is entrusted to St. Laurent parish of Yopougon Kouté, and by the Consolata Missions Institute, a reality that has been operating in Ivory Coast for several years through human development and promotion projects. In addition to the preventive measures implemented by the Ivorian government and WHO, the national response has placed a strong emphasis on supporting and strengthening the health system.
The 4 bodies have accepted the invitation of CEI to collaborate to optimize aid and as a sign of unity between entities and organizations that recognize themselves in a common and shared service towards the poorest brothers. In addition to the provision of health equipment, the 7 projects aim to support initiatives for the awareness of the population, training and preparation of health personnel.
The ceremony will see the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in Ivory Coast, Mgr. Paolo Borgia, representatives of the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and the administrative authorities of the Ivorian city.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - "The Amazon needs you", real help to the Amazonian peoples

Fides EN - - Mer, 05/08/2020 - 09:37
Brasilia - Almost three months after its launch, the "The Amazon needs you" campaign has collected over 700 thousand reais and this week provides a bulletin for the actions carried out so far. The newsletter contains photos and testimonies of the leaders of the dioceses who have received donations, as well as a spreadsheet with the funds sent and which have been converted into food and hygiene materials.
Organized by the pan-Amazonian ecclesial network/REPAM-Brazil and by the Pontifical Mission Societies with the aim of helping the needs of the Amazonian people, the action is the result of the emergency solidarity action of the Church in Brazil " time to take care ", which has led to countless initiatives in this pandemic period, and has the support of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, Caritas Brasileira, the Conference of Religious of Brazil and the Marist Province of Central Brazil.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Peruvian solidarity: 100 dining rooms for 10,000 people

Fides EN - - Mer, 05/08/2020 - 09:30
Lima - The Church has transferred the funds raised during the campaign "For a Peru without hunger", a great crusade of national solidarity, to the 100 dining rooms to assist the most needy people suffering from economic and social crisis as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru.
As Fides had informed the Fundación Teletón San Juan de Dios together with the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, through its initiative "Give them something to eat" and Cáritas del Perú, carried out the national crusade, which managed to collect S / 698, 669 Peruvian soles, thanks to the solidarity of all Peruvians, including companies, institutions, artists and the general public at a national and international level.
These funds were distributed to the network of dining rooms in the 46 ecclesiastical jurisdictions located in all the regions of the country, to serve 10,000 vulnerable people with lunches in the 100 parish dining rooms for a period of two months .
The jurisdictions of Lima, Callao, Chosica, Carabayllo, Lurín, Trujillo, Iquitos, Jaén, Huancayo and Huánuco will serve food thanks to 3 dining areas each, while the remaining 36 jurisdictions will have 2 dining rooms to provide food to those who need it most.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SUDAN - Covid-19: Caution urged in Sudan before Eid El Adha holiday

Fides EN - - Mar, 04/08/2020 - 12:25
Karthoum - No new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in 14 out of 18 states in Sudan in the past two weeks, however, precautionary measures against the spread of coronavirus will be maintained across the country for the next three weeks, according to a report by Sudan’s High Committee of Health Emergencies sent to Agenzia Fides.
The public was asked to strictly implement social distancing rules amid concerns that social interactions during the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, which recalls the sacrifice of Abraham and ended yesterday 3 August. The Feast of the Sacrifice is celebrated every year from the evening of July 30, in the lunar month of Dhū l Ḥijja where the canonical pilgrimage to Mecca takes place.
On this occasion, the Ministry of Religious Affairs directed mosques to adhere to all health directives during the Eid El Adha to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Suleiman Bashshar, the undersecretary of the ministry, called on imams to shorten the prayer time by reading short Suras from the Koran and shortening the sermon to the shortest possible time. Bashshar also instructed worshipers to wear face masks or cover their noses and mouths with their turban or garment. Each individual worshiper should carry his own prayer mat as much as possible to avoid infection. Bashshar also said that the Sudanese Fiqh Academy issued a fatwa authorising people to choose not to perform Friday prayers in groups in mosques because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Ministry of Health, 72 new Covid-19 cases, including five deaths, were recorded as of July 27, bringing the total number of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 11,496. The number of deaths recorded is 725 and the number of recorded recoveries has reached 6001.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PANAMA - Mgr. Ulloa on the pandemic: "sensitivity, unity, solidarity and generosity must prevail"

Fides EN - - Mar, 04/08/2020 - 12:10
Panama City - "We are living in a moment in which the great sense of sensitivity, unity, solidarity and generosity that will allow us to overcome the challenges as a country must prevail", are the words of metropolitan archbishop of Panama, Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa.
During his homily on Sunday 2 August, the archbishop spoke about the crisis generated by the pandemic.
He made a call to unity "to overcome all inequality and poverty".
"One way to get out of the coronavirus crisis is to create a space for national consultation, commented Mgr. Ulloa, which is based on principles of dialogue, justice and social peace, without politicism, private interests, calculations or meanness".
This space of consultation should have the "greatest potential for progress for all", he added.
"It is time for us to understand that we can only achieve well-being if we all have access to fair living conditions", he concluded.
According to the Ministry of Health in Panama there are 68,456 covid cases and 1,500 deaths.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Violence on the streets: the Church calls for peace in a polarized nation

Fides EN - - Sab, 01/08/2020 - 13:13
Makeni - The recent past, made of civil war and atrocities, causes an alarm signal to light up whenever outbreaks of violence are awakened in Sierra Leone. Clashes have occurred in Makeni, the capital of the northern province, in the past few weeks which have caused victims and many wounded. The Church immediately wanted to call everyone to calm and Apostolic Administrator of Makeni, Bishop Natale Paganelli, expressed concern, calling for reconciliation before clashes escalate into social conflict.
Father Paul Morana Sandi, Secretary General of the Inter-territorial Conference of the Bishops of Gambia and Sierra Leone, reached by Agenzia Fides, explained the latest events and the intervention of the Church as follows: "On July 17 and 18 the first news of serious incidents between security forces and young demonstrators arrived. The reason for the revolt was the transfer of an energy generator from Makeni to Lungi. Similar situations have occurred in other areas of the Country such as Lunsar and Tombo. In some cases, contact between police forces and demonstrators led to the death of several people, the injury of others and the loss of property. Some versions speak of interference and exploitation by different political factions: in a highly polarized society, this is likely to be the case. In any case, the response of the security forces is currently being put in the spotlight, just as the need for young people to adopt attitudes marked by greater moderation has been underlined. In recent days, civil society groups have called for an independent investigation and measures to prevent similar incidents".
The Catholic Church, always attentive to outbreaks of violence, has addressed various appeals to the population, all calling for calm and prudence. "Mgr. Natale Paganelli wrote two Pastoral Letters. He called everyone to dialogue and reconciliation, a very positive choice in my opinion if we consider our recent past and our fragile democracy. The request to every Sierra Leonean citizen is to continue to seek and live peace and unity, the only way to ensure the country's development and prosperity. The Church continues to preach peace and reconciliation in a society strongly divided at a regional and political level. Through churches and other institutions we try to raise awareness of the need to keep the country on the path to peace and respect for the rule of law". Father Paul Morana Sandi concludes: "It also seems absurd that such accidents take place at a time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. As a Church we collaborate with the Government and our international donor partners in the fight against Covid-19 and we encourage all citizens to respect health rules and protocols in order to guarantee health for themselves and others".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PARAGUAY - The Sisters of Don Orione alongside young people to "help them get out of the vicious circle of addictions"

Fides EN - - Sab, 01/08/2020 - 12:52
San Juan Bautista - "Since arriving in the locality of San Juan Bautista two years ago, we have been working in different sectors of society and specifically with young people: the goal is prevention and recovery in case of alcoholism and drug addiction". This is what Sister Julia Alvarez, who belongs to the Congregation of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, daughters of Don Orione , reported to Agenzia Fides, speaking of the commitment that the religious carry out in the aid program to combat addictions, a phenomenon very widespread in Paraguayan society.
"Our task - explains the missionary - is to give continuity in different ways to the grace granted by our founder S. Luigi Orione". The Orionine charism is today exercised by the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity with multiple activities and assistance initiatives. "In our educational centers we carry out a pastoral service with the aim of evangelizing young people through a "synthesis" between the Gospel and culture, to form personalities with a critical and creative spirit, a capacity for dialogue and participation".
In recent weeks, the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies Fight against Drug Trafficking has awarded Littlel Missionary Sisters of Charity recognition for their efforts in the fight against addictions. "A vicious circle - notes Sister Julia - from which it is very difficult to get out especially for those who are in a condition of fragility and vulnerability, and therefore more likely to fall into the traps of delinquency".
To meet these needs, the Sisters of Don Orione collaborate in various areas of pastoral care "alongside the people, together with the small communities, in families, in catechetical services to children and young people - reports the religious - we also take care of the pre-sacramental catechesis for adults, liturgical celebrations, charity services, training for the various ministries. In collaboration with other bodies or with other institutions - Sister Julia concludes - we try to respond concretely to the needs of women, children and young people, accompanying them towards a complete human and integral development".
According to a report by the Latin American National Secretariat for Drugs drawn up in the last months of 2019, young Paraguayans approach alcohol and drugs very early: cocaine and marijuana users are between 14 and 15 years of age; it does not go better as far as alcohol consumption is concerned, 60% are regular drinkers, while 38% have tried tobacco. 3.6% say they consume tranquilizers and tablets for weight loss.
The Little Missionary Sisters of Charity settled in San Juan Bautista in March 2018, in the Parish of Our Lady of the Assumption. They are also present in Paraguay with two other communities in the cities of Lambaré and Mayor Martinez.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Sister Julia Alvarez on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The construction of a Hindu temple stops after the opposition of Islamic groups: religious freedom at stake

Fides EN - - Sab, 01/08/2020 - 12:43
Islamabad - "It is a fundamental right of every Pakistani citizen to preach and profess his religion freely, as prescribed by the Constitution of Pakistan. It is legitimate that each community has its places of worship. We strongly condemn the movement of fundamentalist individuals and groups who opposed the construction of the Shri Krishna temple in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan": this is what Christian activist for minority rights Sabir Michael says to Fides, after the works of construction of a Hindu temple stopped abruptly due to the opposition of some Islamic religious leaders and Islamic fundamentalist groups.
Michael notes: "Pakistan is among the signatory states of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Convention on Social, Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee equal rights for all citizens, including religious minorities. By not allowing religious minorities to freely profess their faith, not only are international human rights laws betrayed, but they also negatively affect the image of Pakistan". The activist continues: "We are not religious minorities captured after a war; we existed in Pakistan before the creation of the nation itself. We are citizens with the same rights and duties, and the government of Pakistan".
The construction of the first Hindu temple in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, was temporarily stopped in recent days - on the orders of the Capital Development Authority, a civilian body - after some Islamic clerics and people with a fundamentalist religious approach protested and opposed the construction. Numerous Islamic clerics and Muslim political leaders protested publicly with mass media and social media campaigns.
The Islamic religious Ziauddin Manseharwi of the "Jamia Islamia Ashrafia" organization, an Islamic institute, in a message spread through social media, says: "It is not allowed to build a new temple for Hindus using government funds; building new places of worship for non-Muslims and restoring damaged temples is illegal and means cooperating in sin".
Today civil society organizations complain of the violation of religious freedom, and denounce the increase in extremism, religious hatred and the deterioration of religious tolerance, hoping for the resumption of work.
The plan for the construction of the Hindu temple, in fact, had already been approved in 2017 by the government of Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistani Muslim League , previous to the executive in office today. A 0.5 acre plot of land was assigned to the Hindu community for the temple and a site for cremation. In mid-2020 current Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a public grant of 100 million rupees for the construction of what would be the first Hindu temple in the capital of Pakistan.
Lal Chand Malhi, a Hindu member of the National Assembly of the political party of Imran Khan, said: "This temple in Islamabad would have shown that Pakistan is a place that respects all religions and where coexistence is practiced. When the excavation began in June, the Prime Minister said he was happy that the temple would have given Pakistan a good image for the whole world".
Pakistan's Ulema Council , an Islamic body, expressed support for the construction of the temple in Islamabad and criticized opponents. Islamic leader Hafiz Mohammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, president of PUC, said: "We denounce the controversy over the construction of the temple by extremist clerics; PUC will convene meetings and also present its views to the Islamic Ideology Council in Pakistan. Ashrafi adds: "Having a place of worship and living a life according to one's faith and tradition is a right given to all non-Muslims, according to the Constitution of Pakistan; those who oppose the constriction of the temple make an error of interpretation of the sharia, Islamic law".
Meanwhile, after the temporary blocking of construction works, the High Court of Islamabad has not accepted the appeals filed to stop the construction of the Hindu temple and the matter has been referred to the Council of Islamic ideology , an organism officially consulted by the government to review laws passed by Parliament and establish their compliance with Islam. The Council will offer indications to the executive on how to build the Hindu temple and whether public funds can be used to build it.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - Towards the peace conference: ceasefire and federalism on the agenda

Fides EN - - Sab, 01/08/2020 - 12:29
Naypyidaw - Myanmar is preparing for the two most important events of the year which, despite the restrictions for Covid-19, will be held with the times and methods already decided, albeit with some limitations: the fourth session of the “Panglong Peace Conference of the 21st Century”, as the summit to be held in the capital Naypyidaw in mid-August was named; and the legislative elections, scheduled for November. The Peace Conference saw the number of delegates decrease substantially, a measure accepted by all participants. All entities, organizations and groups that have fought against the central government and that have largely joined the peace process are invited to the meeting, scheduled for 12 to 14 August. Groups that have not joined or have accepted the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, NCA, signed in 2015, have also received the invitation, but without signing agreements. Among the prominent guests, not included in the agreement, are, for example, the Kachin Independence Organization and the United Wa State Party. The topics on the agenda concern both the implementation of the ceasefire agreement at a national level and further negotiations on the basic principles for forming a federal union. Such talks will continue even after the elections. It will be the first time that federalism, hitherto a taboo word, enters the negotiating table. The last conference was held between August 31 and September 4, 2016. That conference ended with a "roadmap" for national reconciliation and peace, which included seven steps, some of which remained a dead letter.
Several factors weigh on the peace process: the power of negotiation of the various forces in the field, which can count on the military pressure of the relative local armies; China's position - capable of controlling several groups along the border with Myanmar - and finally the ongoing war, especially in the Chin and Rakhine states, to which armed groups excluded from the negotiation are contributing and, as in the case of the Arab Army, inscribed in the list of terrorist groups. Just in recent days, two air raids by the Burmese army bombed the area between Kyauktaw and Mrauk U, about 150 kilometers from Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State, to respond to an attack by the Arab Army. The Mrauk-U-Kyauktaw section of the Yangon-Sittwe roadway was closed until late afternoon. The fighting took place in the fields on the east side of the road between the Abaungtaw dam and the Taungphyu dam. There are no reports of casualties yet but many residents have left the area. The area is about sixty kilometers from the territory of Paletwa, in Chin, where five Catholic priests are trapped by continuous armed clashes with the civilian population.
In mid-July, several Burmese religious leaders of various faiths - including Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs - as well as networks and interreligious groups working for peace - shared an appeal to all civilians, armed groups, political parties and other religious leaders to make everyone work for peace, harmony, unity and the consolidation of democracy in view of the general elections and the Panglong Conference.
Categorie: From the church