AFRICA/CAMEROON - A Jesuit: "Serious violations of human rights in the English-speaking provinces"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/05/2018 - 12:05
Yaoundé - "The situation is dramatic: law enforcement agencies continue to kill civilians, thousands of people seek refuge abroad or in other provinces of the country". Fr. Ludovic Lado, Jesuit, traces a dramatic picture of the crisis taking place in the English-speaking provinces of Cameroon. According to the religious, continuous violations of human rights are being perpetrated.
For years the English-speaking provinces, have asked for more space for their customs and habits and for greater autonomy. Since 2016, demonstrations of discontent have become more frequent. On October 1, 2017, the most extreme fringes declared the independence of the two English-speaking provinces from Cameroon and the birth of the Republic of Ambazonia. Faced with this situation, the French-speaking government of Yaoundé reacted with a hard hand, sending soldiers and law enforcement agencies to repress any form of dissent. To date there have been at least 150 victims - including 64 civilians - 160,000 internally displaced persons and about 26,000 who have fled to Nigeria.
"The demands for autonomy are legitimate - continues Father Lado - and I believe that the return to a federal Constitution, like the one abolished in 1972, can guarantee these provinces this autonomy. The majority of the Englis-speaking population do not want independence and disagree with the demands of independence of the movement for Ambazonia. Not only that, but most of the English speakers are also opposed to violent methods. I think violence must always be rejected".
President Paul Biya and the government of Yaoundé, however, seem deaf to the demands of the English speakers. "Some personalities - Father Lado explains - have called for a peaceful confrontation to end repression, President Paul Biya and the government have ignored these appeals, I believe in opportunity, in 2018 presidential elections will be held and the political class of Yaoundé fear that the crisis will take a turn that will be difficult to manage.
But does one not realize that more and more young people are taking up arms against the government? Repression can only worsen the crisis".
The US State Department has condemned the increasing violence.
The European Union has asked the Cameroonian government to use only "proportionate force" to quell the revolt. On May 16, in a letter signed by the president Msgr. Samuel Kleda, Archbishop of Douala, the Bishops' Conference of Cameroon denounced the "inhuman, blind, monstrous violence and a radicalization of positions" in progress in the English-speaking provinces. The Bishops call for "mediation to get out of the crisis and save our Country from a useless and baseless civil war".
"The clashes will continue until the problems that underlie this crisis are resolved - concludes Father Lado - People are exasperated by a policy that does not listen to them and that is why it continues and will continue to resist the repression of law enforcement. A change of direction from the government is necessary, but at the moment I think it seems difficult".
Categorie: From the church

NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Foreign debt in Africa: a sword of Damocles on millions of poor

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/05/2018 - 11:58
The foreign debt that Sub-Saharan African Countries have accumulated over the past few years is an unresolved issue. After the great abolitionist campaign, promoted on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of 2000, there is still a situation of emergency, which could have a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people.
The Catholic world is weaving a wide network of diplomatic and international alliances starting from Italy so as to prevent that the debt of structurally poor countries or which have been further impoverished by these years of economic crisis, become an unsustainable huge weight for populations, and also to curb development, to limit the freedom of nations, to determine violations of fundamental human rights.

Link correlati :Continue to read news analysis-Omnis Terra
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - International Day of Africa: from the Africa of Fate to the Africa of Possibilities

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/05/2018 - 11:57
Kara - "Years pass, hours fly and the observations are unfortunately still the same: the deterioration of Africa, of its nations, of its unity, of its people increase considerably and inexorably", writes Father Donald Zagore to Fides on the occasion of the International Day of Africa celebrated on May 25th. "We are more and more at the center of a divided African society where mismanagement, despotism, ethnic recovery, malice, insecurity, epidemics reign cruelly, crowned by dubious public morality and politicians who seem to be overwhelmed by the events, but are strangely still inexorably driven by their thirst for power", comments the theologian of the Society of African Missions.
"Among the poverty that continues to grow, the high costs of life, an increasingly precarious school system, miscarriage of justice, unemployment, cruel displacements, protests, violence, war, the African peoples find themselves prisoners of a destiny that seems strangely marked with the seal of fatalism or curse. A question constantly torments our nights: who will save the African people?", asks Father Donald.
"The celebration of the International Day of Africa on the occasion of the creation of the African Union, on 25 May each year always offers a great opportunity to reflect more on the future of a continent full of wealth, capacity, possibility, but always prey to violence and misery. It is necessary to remember strongly the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI who loved to remember that 'peace is the new name of development'. Without peace, Africa can never move towards an integral and sustainable development, promoter of a better tomorrow for its new generations - explains the missionary. It is that better future that the young generations go to Europe to seek by dying en masse in the Mediterranean or by selling themselves as slaves".
"Peace will be a true and authentic reality only if every African becomes an apostle and an ambassador of unity. The birth of an African conscience seeking peace, reconciliation and unity is a necessity for Africa. Only in a spirit of unity, cohesion and coexistence can we build a continent in which peace reigns. To create unity, we must learn to make sacrifices for the good of others - insists Father Zagore.
"The unbridled pursuit of personal interests inevitably leads to confrontation and war. Today more than ever, we must essentially reconsider political power in Africa. It is more urgent than ever for a new generation of African politicians to overcome the inexhaustible thirst for power and work hard for the prosperity and to allow the African continent to stand out. An equitable management of the political cause, supported by a healthy public morality, is the only way of salvation for Africa", concludes the theologian.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Bishops before the presidential elections: "Let us vote with conscience and responsibility"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/05/2018 - 11:56
Bogotá - Tomorrow, Sunday, May 27, over 36 million Colombians will return to the polls to elect the President who will be in power for four years. Six candidates are vying after the current president, Juan Manuel Santos, has ruled for eight years, after being re-elected in 2014 with 50.93% of the votes. In a message published a few days ago and addressed to "the Catholic faithful of Colombia", the Colombian Episcopal Conference invites everyone to vote "consciously, freely and responsibly", recalling that "voting is a right and a moral duty that has profound repercussions on everyone's life".
In their message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops invite to put aside apathy, distrust or pessimism; to prepare oneself with prayer, so that the Holy Spirit "allows us to choose wisely and honestly, thinking only of the common good"; to reject all types of election vices. They also recommend comparing electoral programs and not to be manipulated by propaganda, "which sometimes deceives, with harmful information or interests other than those of the common good".
All this by remaining coherent "with our convictions, driven by reasons and motivations that spring from the Gospel" and in a climate of "respect, dialogue and civic spirit".
With regard to the question "who to vote for?" raised in the message, the Bishops reply that it is necessary to choose those who manifest "the desire to serve the common good" with respect to particular interests. For those who show "freedom and independence from any foreign current of ideological colonization". They have to be able to "listen and learn in democratic dialogue" and show "solidarity toward the sufferings and hopes of all Colombians". The same applies to those who want to "engage in the construction of the Country on ethical values and promote clear policies in favor of the dignity of the person, the protection of the family, the defense of life in all its phases, the right of parents to the education of their children, of the care of nature".
The Bishops recall: "we will not choose a superhero who can do everything, but someone who is able to guide the efforts of the Colombian people around a common project of the country". Finally, they especially invite young people "to participate enthusiastically in these elections, driven only by high ideals, do not let yourselves be stolen by hope!" they exhort, remembering what the Pope asked them.
Finally, they encourage us to put "in the hands of God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the desires of having a better country to give to the new generations, our commitment and the objective of national reconciliation, and the service of rulers who will be elected", concludes the message.
According to the latest polls, the candidate of the Democratic Center party, Ivan Duque, remains at 35%, followed by Gustavo Petro, of the progressive movement with 25%.
The presidential elections this year, together with the legislative elections held in March, are the first to be held with the FARC as a political party and no longer a guerrilla movement.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Bishops: "We reiterate our opposition to a possible third term of the current President"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/05/2018 - 11:55
Kinshasa - "We need to organize credible, transparent and inclusive elections for the stability of the Country", reiterated the Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo , Fr. Donatien Nshole, on May 24, 2018, in a press conference at the Inter-diocesan Center of Kinshasa.
"CENCO is satisfied with the main phases of the electoral calendar, which have been respected, and of the statements of the Independent Electoral Commission and government that reassure that the presidential elections, national and provincial legislative elections, will be held on December 23" said Fr. Nshole, who however added that CENCO is very concerned about "the inertia in the implementation of some provisions of the Agreement of December 31, 2016 and the statements of some politicians who move away from the Constitution and the New Year's Eve Agreement, the only roadmap to peacefully bring the Country out of the crisis. "This is a clear reference to statements of some politicians regarding the possibility of another mandate for President Joseph Kabila.
According to the Congolese episcopate, "these statements, motivated by the interests of their authors and not by the Head of State, should be discouraged by those who love Congo, because they can easily lead to prejudicial violence for the peace and stability of the DRC and the entire sub-region".
Finally, on the use of the electoral machines, the Bishops note that the controversy over their reliability does not reassure the holding of the elections under the right conditions, and they hope that the certification of the machines can be concluded before the end of July.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Christianity does not identify with Western civilization as Boko Haram says"

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 13:19
Abuja - "The Church should continue to correct the distorted historical narrative of fundamentalist’s ideology which identifies colonialism and Western civilization with Christianity" say the Rectors of Seminaries of Nigeria in the document published at the end of a committee workshop held in early May at the Spiritan School of Philosophy in Isienu, Nsukka.
In the document entitled "Christian witness in the face of Islamic militancy", the history of Islam in Nigeria is briefly traced, underlining that in the nineteenth century the struggle against British colonizers by the Islamist preacher of the Fulani ethnic group, Uthman dan Fodio , "waved the flag of pure Islam and refused all Western Culture".
A century and a half later, Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen continue the same ideological line. Boko Haram has committed "ceaseless attacks on churches and schools, communities and security agencies, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and property. And today Fulani herdsmen kill, plunder and occupy territories without the government being able to stop them".
"These groups - underline the Rectors of seminaries - are motivated by the ideology that Islam has to rule in all spheres of life. And above all Western civilization is antithetical to Islam and it is not possible for Islam to co-exist with democracy and with those they call infidels".
To counteract these trends, the statement suggests fighting against ignorance "that plays a vital role in the history of fundamentalism". "For this reason the Church and the government should continue to foster education at the grassroot and establish schools where they are not found".
Christians should also promote policies of economic development, defense of democracy and fundamental human rights, above all that of life, remaining united in professing their faith and bearing witness to the love of Christ.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Ministry of Foreign Affairs: thanks to Pope Francis for his support for Iraq

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 12:50
Baghdad - The Iraqi Foreign Ministry presents his thanks to His Holiness Pope Francis and the “Vatican” for their “continuous support” to Iraq and its people “at this pivotal stage for peace and coexistence”. A further, recent manifestation of this support is identified by Iraqi Foreign Ministry in "granting the Iraqi Patriarch Mar Luis Raphael I Sako the title of Cardinal". This title - specifies the statement released by the Ministry, and signed by official spokesman Ahmed Mahjoob - "is considered a high rank after the Pope". The co-optation of Patriarch Sako in the College of Cardinals will also represent a recognition of his humanitarian initiatives in the eyes of the Iraqi political leadership. Thanks to the future Iraqi Cardinal - say Baghdad officials - Iraq "will have a voice in the Vatican and international forums" in order to support Iraq in its "fight against terrorism" and to "preserve its religious diversity".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Auxiliary of Enugu

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 12:22
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed the Rev. Ernest Obodo, of the clergy of Enugu, Rector of St. Bernard Senior Seminary Hostel and professor at the Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu, as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Enugu , assigning him the titular seat of Mediana.
The new Bishop was born on 24 October 1966 in Awha-Imezi, Diocese of Enugu. He entered the "Sacred Heart" Minor Seminary, Nsude, and carried out his studies in Philosophy and Theology at the Bigard Memorial Major Seminary in Enugu. He was ordained a priest on July 22, 2000 for the Diocese of Enugu.
Since his priestly ordination he has held the following positions: 2000-2001: Parish Vicar of the Queen of Holy Rosary Parish, Ugwuagor; 2001-2004: Parish priest of St. Charles Parish, Amechi Idodo; 2004-2009: Formator at St. Bernard's Hostel Seminary, Nchatancha; Secretary of the diocesan Clergy of Enugu; Chaplain of the St. Jude Society; Member of the diocesan Commission for History; 2010-2016: Studies for a Licentiate and Doctorate in Theology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Since 2016: Rector of the St. Bernard Senior Seminary Hostel and professor at the Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - The family, the cradle of vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 12:10
Dar es Salaam - "Families are kindergartens where priests, religious, parents and good faithful come from", said Msgr. Flavian Kasala, Bishop of Geita, member of the Association of Catholic Bishops of East Africa in a recent meeting in Dar es Salaam. The Bishop observed that families have the responsibility of guaranteeing and anticipating a formation to their children before they go to school or receive the sacraments: "If they are properly formed, it will be easy for them to respond to their vocation". As reported by the local press, Msgr. Kasala urged all parents to instill evangelical values in their children through a human and Christian formation aimed at breaking the moral decline among young people in society.
"The tendency in our society of young people who do not want to marry in Church or priests who renounce their ministry is being strengthened. These few events should make us reflect seriously and resolve these challenges as best as we can", underlined the Bishop of Geita, highlighting the urgent need to invest in the formation of the family for a better future.
At the same time, Msgr. Kasala praised couples, parents, priests, men and women religious who carry out their vocations in a serious and conscientious manner. "We have seen stable marriages and families, courageous priests and religious. The few who go against their call to holiness should not make us change the ecclesiastical discipline that has existed for years".
The Church in Tanzania celebrates 150 years of evangelization in 2018, in memory of the arrival of the first missionaries on the coast of the country, in Bagamoyo.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - "Sharing, informing and educating": the goal of the IX Meeting of the youth ministry leaders of Venezuela

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 11:48
Montalbán - The IX Formation Meeting for those responsible for youth ministry throughout the Venezuelan territory, which takes place once a year at the headquarters of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference in Montalbán, has just ended. According to the statement sent to Agenzia Fides by CEV, the meeting held on May 22-23, was focused on the pre-Synodal meeting that took place in Rome on March 24, 2018, between Pope Francis and young people from different parts of the world. On that occasion the Pope asked young people to contribute to renew the face of the Church as well as to underline the importance of the Synod of Bishops on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment" to be held from October 3rd to 28th 2018 in the Vatican.
In the IX Formation Meeting, the leaders of the youth ministry of the various dioceses of the Country worked and shared the pedagogical methods and guidelines established in the document "Civilización del Amor Proyecto y Misión: Orientaciones para una Pastoral Juvenil Latinoamericana".
María José Rojas, Director of the Department of the Youth Ministry of CEV, said according to the text sent to Fides, that "the objective of this meeting was to share, inform and educate the various leaders and ensure that what they received they send to their communities, to promote education and communication". This meeting also served as preparation for the 4th National Youth Meeting , to be held from 1 to 5 August, in the diocese of Barcelona, in the province of Cumaná, on the theme "With joy and hope, we announce together with Mary the wonders of the Lord".
In this regard, María José Rojas adds: "ENAJÓ is characterized by the Marian theme, since Pope Francis gave us 3 years of reflection on how to live the virtues of the Virgin Mary, and thus walk towards World Youth Day, which will be held in Panama in 2019". ENAJO aims to "share and celebrate the path of youth ministry in Venezuela through a national meeting, which, through our sharing in the God of life, pushes us with joy and courage together with our mother Mary, to proclaim the wonders of the Lord". This year, around 10,000 young people from all dioceses, archdioceses, provinces, youth movements, universities and colleges are expected to participate at a national level.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Muslim leaders: the appointment of Cardinal Coutts is a contribution to harmony in the nation

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 11:11
Karachi - "I have worked alongside Archbishop Coutts for the last 11 years. The choice to appoint him Cardinal is a great honor for the entire nation of Pakistan. We support him in building and promoting love, peace and harmony and unity in Pakistan. We will soon organize a large interreligious gathering dedicated to His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Coutts": says to Agenzia Fides Allama Mohammad Ahsan Siddiqui, director of the Interreligious Commission Peace and Harmony in Karachi. Several civilian and religious leaders positively commented the appointment of Joseph Coutts as Cardinal.
Fr. Saleh Diego, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Karachi, said: "We are happy: the Archbishop is known for his tireless work in promoting harmony and dialogue in the country".
Ravi Dass Vaghela, Hindu leader and media coordinator in Shri Ram Devji Mandir in Karachi, member of the organization "Masterpeace Pakistan" speaking to Agenzia Fides says that "Pope Francis has chosen the perfect man from Pakistan: a man with his feet on the ground, admirable for his simplicity and humility. This decision will strengthen harmony in Pakistan", he said, expressing his congratulations on behalf of Hindus in Pakistan.
The president of the Pakistani People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has written "we cannot wait to work together with Cardinal Coutts in a peaceful and tolerant Pakistan", while also Syed Murad Ali Shah, Prime Minister of the Province of Sindh led a delegation and visited St. Patrick's Cathedral to meet Archbishop Coutts.
Also Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, leader of "Jammat-e-Islami" Karachi wanted to meet Archbishop Coutts, confirming the common commitment to "spread love and peace", and asked Cardinal Coutts to work for peace in Kashmir, India and Palestine.
Fr. Bonnie Mendes, priest of the diocese of Faisalabad, and old friend of Archbishop Coutts, said: "Our Muslim friends are also very happy". One of the religious Muslims, expressing his congratulations, noted with joy that this announcement was held in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan: a sign of friendship and spiritual communion".
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - From May 28 to June 2 - General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/05/2018 - 09:55
Rome - From Monday 28 May to Saturday 2 June, the Fraterna Domus of Sacrofano will host the Annual General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies . The National Directors of the PMS from all continents, with the President and the General Secretaries of the four Societies will gather for their annual meeting.
The Assembly will be opened by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and by Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the PMS. After the usual formalities, the Assembly's pastoral session will begin on Monday afternoon on the theme "With the young, let us proclaim the Gospel to everyone". The two main reports will be dedicated to the theme "Young people, resource for the Mission" and to the report "Evangelization and the digital world" . Working sessions on the topic will follow.
On Wednesday, May 30, a session dedicated to the October Missionary Year 2019, will open the Ordinary Session of the Assembly. In the afternoon, the general Secretaries of the four Pontifical Mission Societies will present the report of the past year, the budget estimate and requests of subsidies regarding the various projects that were submitted. Fr. Ted Nowak, OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith; Fr. Fernando Domingues, MCCJ, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle; Sr. Roberta Tremarelli, AMSS, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood; Fr. Fabrizio Meroni, PIME, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union, Director of CIAM and Director of FIDES will take the floor. The final report will be held by Mgr. Carlo Soldateschi, Administration Delegate.
On Friday, June 1, the Holy Father will receive in audience the participants in the Assembly, and in the afternoon, they will participate in the Eucharistic concelebration in the Vatican Basilica, presided by Cardinal Fernando Filoni. On Saturday 2 June the speech of the President of the PMS, Mgr. Dal Toso will close the works.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYNAMAR - Letter from religious leaders to the people:"The future of the nation is in compassion and reconciliation"

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/05/2018 - 13:32
Yangon - "The future of Myanmar is based on the rich history and tradition of multi-religious and multi-ethnic coexistence. At a deeper level, this promising future is assured by the values and virtues of compassion, shared well-being and justice present in the great religious traditions of Myanmar". This is what religious leaders of Mynamar, gathered in the forum "Religions for Peace", led by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, said in a special Letter to the population released today, May 24, and sent to Agenzia Fides.
In the text we read: "As Buddhist, Christians, Hindus and Muslims leaders of Myanmar and of the whole region, we write to you in solidarity with the hope of peace. We are now united in a crucial moment in which the future of this nation is being determined. Through the untiring efforts of countless men and women, you have endeavored to overcome suffering and heal the wounds of the past. Myanmar has shown the world that a peaceful transition of power was possible".
The Letter recalls that "during the great disaster of Nargis in 2008 Buddhist monks saved the people affected in all the villages; Christian humanitarian agencies distributed aid to those who suffered their ethnic and religious borders, and Hindus, Muslims and other groups joined together to help their fellow men and women" and states: "Compassion and common life are values and fundamental virtues of the people of Myanmar and unity in diversity is the strength of this nation".
The religious leaders reiterate: "We refuse the improper use of religion and race to divide our people" and commit themselves to giving their contribution "to resolve inter-community conflicts and to advance national reconciliation", expressing "prayers for the peace at the Panglong Conference", which "will strengthen the transition from dictatorship to democracy, from conflict to peace".
The leaders take note of "the growing hostility and large displacement of people in the Kachin and Shan states, which further weaken the peace and reconciliation process", committing themselves "to working with the government to reach a national agreement based on a federal democratic system in Myanmar".
The Letter states: "We share a vision of development in Myanmar, which is based on the notion of human dignity, human rights and the common good. At the basis of sustainable peace is the respect and realization of human dignity, the undeniable and sacred essence rooted in our nature as human beings and peoples". The leaders urge to remember that "the profound spiritual heritage of Myanmar is expressed in the teachings of the great religions of the world practiced in this country", Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, religious traditions that teach "compassion and reconciliation", as Pope Francis reiterated in his visit to the country.
Noting "the incitement to hatred on social media that violates the fundamental spiritual principles of tolerance and respect" and the great masses of refugees, leaders "implore the government of the Union to take the necessary actions to ensure peace and well-being of displaced and marginalized populations", citing the difficult situation of all the communities living in the state of Rakhine.
In that situation, the UN is invited "to facilitate the process of giving life to peace, development, education and human rights for all communities in the State of Rakhine", calling for "a solution based on human dignity and shared well-being". "The future of the people of Myanmar is in our prayers", concludes the Letter, signed by Cardianale Bo and by all religious leaders of "Religons for Peace".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/JORDAN - The "Restaurant of Mercy" offers daily evening meal (iftar) to Muslims during Ramadan

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/05/2018 - 12:36
Amman - Once again this year, the Restaurant of Mercy offers daily food to the poorest Muslim families thanks to the initiative of Caritas Jordan in Amman, with the patronage of the Latin Patriarchal Vicariate in Jordan – and during the holy month of Ramadan, meals are turned into iftar meals. Iftar meals will be served by volunteers from Caritas Jordan and by groups of young people from the parishes - underlines site, led by Jordanian priest Rifat Bader – who confirms the vocation of the Restaurant of Mercy as a sign of "unity and cohesion of Jordan".
Caritas Jordan, as already reported by Fides has also started the campaign for the distribution of food to poor Muslim families, which during Ramadan will distribute food parcels to about 3 thousand households.
The "Restaurant of Mercy" opened its doors on Wednesday, December 23, 2015, a few days after the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis. Since then, the restaurant offers hundreds of free hot meals every day to those in need. The "Soup kitchen" is located in the former headquarters of the Catholic typography, which is not used anymore, in the area of Jabal Luweibdeh, close to the Latin Catholic parish dedicated to the Annunciation. "We really wanted to to be near a parish", reported at that time to Agenzia Fides Wael Suleiman, president of Caritas Jordan, "to show that this initiative is part of the path that the whole Church is called to undertake. And also to witness that the Church, when it is a docile instrument of God's mercy, embraces all, starting from the poor, without distinction". The vast majority of those who take advantage of the help provided by the "Restaurant of Mercy" are Muslims. Agenzia Fides, 24/5/2018)

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Bishops denounce: "The entire Country risks being destroyed"

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/05/2018 - 12:13
Kinshasa - "In North Kivu, a certain political tendency is pushing towards the fragmentation and the splitting of the province, for its particular interests, in disregard of the will of the population who hope for the unity of North Kivu", says the message published at the end of the Ordinary Session of the Provincial Episcopal Conference of Bukavu which was held in Goma from 14 to 20 May.
North Kivu is a province in the east of the DRC that for decades has been living in insecurity due to the presence of dozens of armed groups, some of them of foreign origin, who illegally exploit their enormous natural resources and tend to want to separate this territory from the rest of the Country.
"The entire Country risks collapsing", the Bishops warn in the message sent to Agenzia Fides, because what is happening in North Kivu can lead to "institutionalizing the spirit of tribalism, division and exclusion based on the same logic as that of secession".
According to the Bishops "there is a danger of provoking inter-ethnic rivalry: violence, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity". "This dynamic could also bring us to the threshold of violence and atrocities that we have recently experienced here and elsewhere: in the territory of Beni, in lturi, in northern Katanga, in Kasai, as still today, in South Sudan".
"The permanent insecurity, caused by armed groups, criminal gangs, favored by an unstable government, is causing desolation throughout the country, despite the spectacular militarization, as can be seen in the areas of Beni and Butembo. The kidnapping and mutilation of children in the territory of Uvira and Fizi, the assassination in Kichanga of don Etienne Nsengiyumva, on 8 April 2018, provoked great emotion.
We continue to suffer for the absence of Fr. Charles Kipasa and Fr. Jean Pierre Akilimali kidnapped in Bunyuka on 16 July 2017", the Bishops say.
Faced with the situation and in view of the elections of December 23, the Bishops conclude recommending the population "to return to the principles of the Church's social teaching, including: the dignity of the human person, the common good, social justice, peace and work". "We must free ourselves from the fear of death because Christ conquered death. Let us foster the Christian values of freedom and sacrifice and remain vigilant in prayer".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Anti-Christian violence increases under Modi’s government: new Report

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/05/2018 - 09:28
New Delhi - - During the four-year government of Hindu nationalist party "Bharatiya Janata Party" , of Premier Narendra Modi, who led the government of the "National Development Alliance" , the Christian community in India faced unprecedented attacks, carried out by Hindu nationalist groups: this is what an independent study says, published by a forum of experts and civil society organizations engaged above all in social work with marginalized and vulnerable groups of the population . The forum is called Wada Na Todo Abhiyan and is a national civil society platform of more than 4,000 organizations and individuals. Its main focus is on the government's responsibility to eliminate poverty and social exclusion.
According to the detailed 140-page document sent to Agenzia Fides entitled "Citizens' Report on the Four Years of the NDA Government, 2014-18. Promises and Reality", the four-year period in question was painful for the Christian community, and 2017 and the first four months of 2018 were the most traumatic.
The Evangelical Fellowship of India, which monitors cases of violence, documented at least 351 cases of violence in 2017. And many times violence is not reported because the victim is terrorized or the police refuse to file a report. According to the data analysis of 2017, Tamil Nadu is the most hostile state, with the highest number of violence against Christians, with 52 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 50, Chhattisgarh with 43, Madhya Pradesh with 36, Maharashtra with 38. Excluding Tamil Nadu, the other states are governed by the BJP directly or in coalition. The violence of Tamil Nadu is strictly linked to caste discrimination: the victims come largely from the so-called "lower castes" of the villages where dominant groups oppose the prayer groups in houses, typical of evangelical groups.
Even Christian children are among the victims. A group of Christian children who were traveling to attend a religious celebration was attacked by Hindu activists and were kidnapped. Terrifying aspects of this violence are rape, especially Catholic nuns, and other gender-based violence. At least three cases of rape were registered in the four-year period.
In the last four years there has been a growing tendency towards polarization, leading to social exclusion. In this context, the protests of Christian groups against "state violence" have been brutally repressed.
Governmental organizations, including the National Minorities Commission, have expressed their impotence. Many government structures and officials remain entangled in the bureaucracy or "are organs formed by politicians reluctant to take action in this sense", notes the document.
The Report also notes the presence of laws that generate discrimination and violence: the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief of the UN Human Rights Council noted that Article 341, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, criminalizes the conversion of Indian citizens, the lowest caste, Christianity and Islam. There are punitive measures that deny the population of 180 million dalits access to employment in public administration and higher education institutions. The laws "on freedom of religion" present in seven Indian states "deny the rights and freedom of faith" or seem to give permission to strike Christians and their institutions.
The WNTA Report also investigates issues of development in the field of education, health, water and sanitation, land rights, economics, budgets, fiscal policies, civil society space, media, human rights, labor and employment, the environment, governance. The forum uses a network scattered throughout the Indian territory.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/CHINA - Catholics prepare themselves for the day of prayer for the Church in China

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 13:46
Beijing - The Chinese Catholics celebrated the solemnity of Pentecost preparing for what is for them the most awaited event of the Marian month: the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which is held every year on 24 May, which coincides with the feast of Mary Help of Christians. The Day of Prayer was established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Letter to Chinese Catholics, published in 2007.
According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, in various local communities the sacrament of Confirmation was administered to dozens of adults during the liturgy of the feast of Pentecost .
This year the traditional Marian devotion of Chinese Catholic communities was also expressed in unprecedented forms. On May 12th, the biblical theatrical company "Guang Hua", of the Archdiocese of Ji Nan, opened its tour in the diocese, with a show dedicated to the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Lourdes.
Also the pilgrims of the Marian Shrine of Hu Xian, in the Province of Shaan Xi, and many other communities have joined the journey of the Christian people toward May 24, the culmination of the Marian month for Chinese Catholics.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Pope Francis: let us pray to Our Lady of Sheshan for reconciliation among Chinese Catholics

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 13:19
Rome - The Feast of the Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", particularly venerated in the Marian shrine of Sheshan, near Shanghai, "invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China". The Pope’s prayer came at the end of today’s general audience and on the eve of the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, "so that they may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they may carry out concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter". Since 2008, the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, established by Pope Benedict XVI, is celebrated on May 24th, all over the world. Referring to this anniversary, Pope Francis also addressed the "dearest disciples of the Lord in China", reminding them that "the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even amid difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to the will of God. Our Lady will never fail to help you and will safeguard you with her maternal love".

In the Letter to Chinese Catholics, signed on May 27, 2007, on the solemnity of Pentecost, Benedict XVI had suggested that May 24, dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians - venerated "with such devotion in the Marian shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai" - could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China". To this end, the then reigning Pontiff had established on that date the "Day of Prayer for the Church in China", to be celebrated in all the Catholic communities of the world. "I encourage you to celebrate it" wrote Benedict XVI "by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible. I remind you, moreover, of the commandment that Jesus gave us, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, as well as the invitation of the Apostle Saint Paul: «First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth» ".
In that letter the Pontiff, always addressed to Chinese Catholics, had also added that on that same day "the Catholics of the whole world - in particular those who are of Chinese origin - will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "The State must guarantee the security of citizens" ask the Bishops on the day of the funeral of the victims of the massacre committed in April

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 12:48
Abuja - The State must protect all citizens, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, otherwise Nigeria risks falling into chaos and generalized terror. This is the alarm launched by the Nigerian Bishops, yesterday, May 22, on the day in which the funeral of the 17 victims of the massacre committed on 23 April in the village of Mbalom, in the State of Benue was held.
Among the victims there are two priests: Fr. Joseph Gor and Fr. Felix Tyolaha.
While the funeral was being held, the Nigerian Episcopal Conference promoted a day of mobilization to protest about the continuous massacres of Christians committed by Fulani herders .
"As humans we are plunged into sorrow and many of us will not recover from the shock for a very long time. There have been unexplainable and inexcusable spate of killings in Benue before April 23 when these matyrs were killed and more have been killed thereafter", said Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, in his homily during the funerals of the victims of the massacre of Mbalom, at the Se Sugh U Maria Pilgrimage Center, in Ayati, in the State of Benue.
"This cannot be allowed to continue. Every human life is precious to God who made us in his image. One life killed is one life too many. This is not the time to count the number of the dead but killing people either in churches or mosques is an affront against God", added the Cardinal who reaffirmed that the authorities must intervene to ensure the safety of all.
A concept reiterated by His Exc. Mgr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos, during a requiem mass for the victims of Mbalom. "President Muhammadu Buhari should act fast and try to restore the confidence of the people; he is the authority and father of the nation. We urge the president to intervene in this problem in a more divisive way in order to save the country from tribal or religious war, we say all of these with due sense of patriotism for our nation Nigeria, because we believe in the strength and unity of Nigeria", said Mgr. Martin.
After the massacre of Mbalom, the Bishops had issued a strong statement in which they asked President Buhari to step aside if he was not able to guarantee the safety of all Nigerians.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Marawi a year after the siege: the mission of the Church between dialogue and reconstruction

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 12:30
Marawi - On May 23, a year ago, the invasion of terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State that barricaded themselves in the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao began. Over 360,000 refugees were forced to flee the city, while the siege of the Philippine army began, which lasted five months of intense fighting.
Today, Christians and Muslims are committed to promoting peace and harmony in Marawi. "The Prelature of Marawi works tirelessly to promote peace, respect, equality and love between Christians and Muslims in our community", says Maria Teresa Soriano, a Catholic university professor in Marawi to Fides. Priests, nuns and lay people are working to motivate and inspire young and old people to commit themselves to rebuilding their lives and homes in the immediate aftermath of the destruction, notes Soriano. Bishop Edwin de la Peña, at the head of the Prelature of Marawi launched an appeal to all the people "to work together for the reconstruction of Marawi". Meanwhile, the government has started rebuilding the city and the rehabilitation of displaced persons with a detailed plan, through the assistance of international humanitarian agencies and governments around the world. It may take about four years to rebuild the city.
However, the alarming presence of radical groups that are gathering in the regions of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, in rural areas outside the city of Marawi and in other provinces of Mindanao has not ceased.
The security situation in Mindanao continues to remain precarious and the martial law is still in force. The National Secretariat for Social Action - which is Caritas of the Philippines - has launched and distributed a collection of funds for the rehabilitation program underway in the city of Marawi in all dioceses.
In particular, the Caritas of the diocese of Manila assisted the displaced families in Marawi, providing food and hygiene assistance, means of subsistence, psycho-social support to children and welcoming about 500 displaced, Christian and Muslim families. "It is urgent to witness the mercy and love of Christ to those who need it in Marawi", explained Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas Manila.
Categorie: From the church