AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Appointment of the Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Philosophical Seminary in Antsirabé

Fides EN - - 4 ore 36 min fa
Vatican City - On 1 March 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Jean Nicolas Rakotojaona, of the Archdiocesan clergy of Antananarivo as Rector of the Saint Paul Apotre interdiocesan major philosophical seminary in the diocese of Antsirabé, Madagascar.
The new Rector was born on 18 January 1973 in Anosy Avaratra and was ordained a priest on 3 August 2002 in Faliarivo Ambanidia. He went to the minor and preparatory Seminary of Ambohipo, then studied philosophy at the "Saint Paul Apotre" major Seminary in Antsirabé and theology at the Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus major Seminary in Faliarivo. He continued his studies at the Catholic University of Madagascar and at the University of Friborg, obtaining a degree in Philosophy and a doctorate in theology. Since his ordination he was engaged in parish ministry, professor in various training courses for lay people. Since 2017 he was Vice-Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Seminary of which he was appointed Rector.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The celebrations for the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan comes to an end: a peace commitment in Pakistan

Fides EN - - 4 ore 41 min fa
Lahore - With a joint reading of passages from the Holy Bible and the Koran, the closing ceremony of the celebrations commemorating the 800 years since the conversation between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al was held in recent days in Lahore-Kamil, which took place in 1219: the eighth centenary of that historic meeting had wide echo in Pakistan throughout 2019. The closing of the special Jubilee was celebrated in Lahore, in the presence of numerous Christian and Muslim leaders.
As Fides learns, among those present, Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, stressed that "the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan occurred in an atmosphere of fear and danger, but that fear turned into dialogue which led to peace and friendship". "We can learn to promote peace and coexistence from Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan", he added, promising "support for the promotion of peace, harmony, tolerance in society".
Beside him, Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, agreed stating that "it is necessary to accept each other in society as Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil did, to promote peaceful coexistence".
Among the civil authorities, Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities and Minister of Interreligious Dialogue in Punjab, said he "appreciated the significant ceremony" by noting that "the government promotes tolerance and harmony in society and intends to continue developing a policy of inter-religious peace and harmony in order to promote the spirit of coexistence in society".
Numerous Muslim and Hindu religious leaders attended this ceremony, ensuring their commitment "to support the cause of humanity for a prosperous and harmonious society in Pakistan, bearing in mind the peace initiative experienced centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi and of the Sultan".
In the assembly there were students from different schools who presented a theatrical performance inspired by the prayer of peace of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Pakistani song "Is percham k saye talay eik hain - We are one thing". The youth of the Capuchin Franciscan student residence in Lahore presented a dramatization of the encounter of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan. The ceremony ended with a solemn commitment by all those present to be "instruments and peacemakers in Pakistan".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "We are under siege" says the Archbishop of Kaduna where 4 seminarians were kidnapped

Fides EN - - 5 ore 35 min fa
Abuja - "No other Country will tolerate this type of insecurity without calling for mass protests. Definitely our country is under siege", said His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria, the archdiocese where on the evening of January 8 four seminarians were kidnapped in the" Good Shepherd" Major Seminary of Kakau along the Kaduna-Abuja highway .
"This is the third time kidnapping is happening directly to our diocese", said the Archbishop. "I can't sleep at the thought of the conditions that the four students are experiencing," added Archbishop Ndagoso.
"People can no longer sleep with two eyes closed, yet our leaders have the courage to say that there is security in the Country", said Archbishop Ndagoso, who adds that the population seems to be resigned to growing insecurity. "I think people now seem to have given up on the security situation because there is nothing they can do, they just resigned to fate".
The Archbishop wonders why security cannot be restored in the area because "with the technologically developed security gadgets in the 21st century, there is nowhere in the world, even underwater that criminals cannot be traced or tracked". "But security agencies keep on saying that they are on top of the situation".
After saying that "security measures were strengthened in the seminary" in order to protect other students", Archbishop Ndagoso concludes saying that "we will continue to pray for the kidnapped seminarians, until they are freed. We keep hoping that God will expose those behind the insecurity in this Country".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Jubilee of the beatification of Peter ToRot, an example for everyone

Fides EN - - 6 ore 15 min fa
Kavieng - "The defense of the sacrament of marriage as a way of conjugal holiness was the main motivation that led to the beatification of Peter ToRot", said Mgr. Rochus Tatamai MSC, bishop of Kavieng - Lorengau and president of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the celebration of the silver Jubilee of the Blessed and martyr, raised to the glory of the altars 25 years ago, lay and first blessed of Papua New Guinea.
In his homily, the Bishop spoke at length about the life and martyrdom of Peter ToRot, pointing out to all the faithful as an "example of Christian life" to follow. From his story, the Bishop drew useful ideas for catechists, talking about the sacrament of marriage and family life, and focusing on the relationship between faith and culture.
The Jubilee Mass was a moment of great devotion and participation of the faithful: the choir and a group of young women led the offertory procession with a traditional dance and melody of the Duke of York Islands, in the province of eastern New Britain . Participants also included a large group of faithful from the parishes of the archdiocese of Port Moresby and members of various religious congregations. The main Jubilee celebrations took place in the village of Rakunai on Friday 17 January 2020, and were coordinated by the "Blessed Peter ToRot Foundation Inc", a lay organization founded in 1996 to promote the life and work of the Blessed and to support the archbishop of Rabaul in the cause of canonization.
The presence and message of the Blessed also crossed the borders of Papua New Guinea and arrived in Australia: on January 19, Cardinal Ribat blessed a chapel dedicated to Peter ToRot in the Shrine of Our Lady help of Christians in the Marian Valley, in Brisbane.
Blessed Peter ToRot, catechist in the village of Rakunai on the Gazelle peninsula, eastern province of New Britain, was killed by the Japanese in 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, for refusing to stop his catechist and witness of the faith activities. In particular, ToRot defended the sanctity of marriage, thus challenging the practice of polygamy, authorized by the Japanese. Pope John Paul II officially declared him a martyr on January 17, 1995 during the beatification ceremony in Port Moresby.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - The Bishop of Tapachula: in the face of the ambiguous and hesitant official position, it is important to "see, listen to and treat migrants as brothers"

Fides EN - - 6 ore 38 min fa
Tapachula - "All those who are part of this diocesan family of Tapachula, each according to their possibilities and responsibilities, must ensure these migrant brothers a piece of bread, must not be raped, must not receive manifestations of refusal or of contempt and feel, despite the adverse circumstances, to walk among brothers and as brothers, not as strangers, nor adventurers, nor criminals, neither exiled nor despised. God will reward everyone's effort to see them, listen to them and treat them like brothers. Just as we would like our illegal compatriots to be treated in the United States". This is the appeal launched by Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón, Bishop of Tapachula, to the priests, seminarians, women religious and lay people of his diocese, after the news regarding a new substantial caravan of Honduran emigrants who are heading towards the United States of America.
"The declarations of the federal government and the silence of the state government show us that the official position is, as on other occasions, ambiguous and hesitant", denounces the Bishop in his message sent to Fides, entitled "Responsibility and love for our brothers", unsure whether the migrant caravan can cross the border, reach Tapachula or continue beyond the state of Chiapas. "Given this uncertainty, but aware of our Christian duty as baptized children of God - Father of all without differences or distinctions - we feel the duty to show our thoughts with simplicity, clarity and determination towards our brothers" continues Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón.
The Bishop recalls that the diocesan family of Tapachula "has always distinguished itself for being a fraternal and supportive local Church which, since its poverty, has always been careful to show the merciful face of God, being hospitable with migrant brothers". Its face is that of the good Samaritan, so "we will always make sure that the migrant brothers do not have other sufferings in addition to those that involve a long, winding, bumpy road, insecure and violent".
In his statement, the Bishop assigns to the various communities, coordinated by the Emergency Commission and the vicars forane, the task of assisting migrants who cross the diocesan territory, invoking God "to help us, once again, to do this work with a high sense of responsibility and love for our brothers".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Assembly of Bishops: extraordinary elections of parliament on January 26 among the topics under consideration

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 12:35
Lima - With the mass presided by Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos OFM, President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference and President of the Latin American Episcopal Council , concelebrated by all the Bishops of Peru, the 115 Plenary Assembly of the Peruvian Episcopate will begin on Monday 20 January.
After mass, in the parish of Sant'Antonio da Padova, in Lima, the 52 Bishops of the 46 ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the country will go to the CEP headquarters to start the working sessions. As in any assembly, the Bishops will examine various topics, in the spirit of communion and synodality, and analyze the latest events in the Country. They will also elect the Secretary General and the President of the Economic Council of CEP. As every year, the Medal of Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo will be awarded to people and institutions who have distinguished themselves for their work in favor of the Church in Peru.
Among the points on which the Bishops will have to discuss, there are the next extraordinary elections of Parliament, on January 26, after the dissolution by President Vizcarra, last September 30, for the corruption of parliamentarians. In October 2019, in the midst of a political crisis, the Peruvian Bishops had asked the national community to transform that bitter sentiment against politics into a moment of reform for the country, as happens in other Latin American realities. According to local sources of Fides, this does not happen in the Peruvian reality and society currently lives the same climate as last September.
The first inquiries made by reliable bodies revealed that the majority of Peruvians do not know who to vote for, and there is still a lot of indifference towards politics. We therefore see the prospect of a possible Parliament with many small parties. Thus, as international critics say, there will be a false parliamentary majority made up of genuine political minorities. Unfortunately, the election campaign is characterized by political exhibitionism and there are many who do not worry about the common good or the future of the country.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The whole Church in East Africa greets the Rome Declaration on the peace process in South Sudan

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 12:25
Juba - "I am happy to hear about this declaration. It is only my hope and prayer that the two parties – the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Opposition – will keep it. You know that the Holy Father is very much involved in it; we too are involved in it. But that is my prayer and hope", said His Exc. Mgr. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu in Uganda, commenting on the Declaration signed in Rome on January 13, to end the war in South Sudan. Archbishop Odama, whose archdiocese hosts many refugees from South Sudan and is also heavily involved in interreligious peace initiatives in South Sudan.
The Declaration was signed thanks to the efforts of the Community of Sant'Egidio, which acted as a facilitator, by South Sudan government representatives and the country’s Opposition Movements .
The agreement provides for: the "solemn" commitment to the cessation of hostilities starting from midnight on January 15th; the commitment to discuss and evaluate together, in Sant'Egidio, the mechanisms to resolve differences; the guarantee for humanitarian organizations to be able to operate in the Country in support of the civilian population.
The agreement was greeted by the Bishops of neighboring Countries that adhere to AMECEA . The AMECEA Secretary General Fr Anthony Makunde has also commended the initiatives taken by Sant’Egidio and all the regional and international partners to bring lasting peace to South Sudan. "As Saint Paul said, when one organ is sick the whole body feels sick. Therefore, any efforts towards bringing lasting peace to South Sudan are for the good of the entire AMECEA family. Our appeal is to our brothers and sisters in South Sudan to reciprocate to these efforts so that we may put our efforts together towards this common course. We assure them of our prayers and support, asking our Lord the Prince of Peace to intervene", concludes Fr. Makunde.
The Episcopal Conferences of Ethiopia and Eritrea are part of AMECEA; Kenya; Malawi; Sudan and South Sudan; Tanzania; Uganda and Zambia. Somalia and Djibouti have observer status.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - Patriarch Sahak II denies criticism of the Armenian diaspora attributed to him by Turkish media

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 12:10
Istanbul - Sahak II Masalyan, the new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople elected on December 11, wanted to at least partially deny the critical statements towards the Armenian diaspora communities scattered all over the world that had been attributed to him by some Turkish media, in the weeks following his patriarchal election. A note from the patriarchal secretariat calls in particular the Turkish Akşam daily, and the article in that newspaper published on January 2 which reported some harsh judgments with which the new Patriarch criticized the whole Armenian diaspora in a comprehensive way, stating that the Armenian communities in diaspora have "nothing in common with the Armenians who remained in Turkey" . The Patriarchal segretariat - reports Agos, Armenian-Turkish bilingual newspaper published in Istanbul - claims that the Patriarch's statements have been reported in an inaccurate and misleading way, forcing their contents and distorting nuanced and articulated considerations with additions of interpolations to be attributed only to the editor of the Article.
Indeed, the statements attributed to the Patriarch - and published on Thursday 2 January by the Turkish nationalist Akşam daily- were fatally destined to provoke controversy. In those statements, the new Patriarch seemed to want to emphasize the distance of the Armenian patriarchate of Constantinople from the circles of the Armenian diaspora, which hands down from one generation to another the memory of the massacres suffered by the Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 as an identity factor. "We" underlined the new Patriarch "chose to stay in the country and live with the rest of the people. Diaspora is a thing of the past".
The electoral process for the choice of the new Patriarch with the election of Sahak was suffered and marked by controversies destined to have consequences in the future, caused at least in part by the intertwining between ecclesiastical personalities and interference from local secular systems.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Week of prayer for Christian unity: "Hospitality is a virtue that testifies to the loving encounter with others"

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 11:39
Vatican City - "We are called to pray, so that all Christians will become one family again, to witness together love for Christ": this is what Fr. Anthony Currer, official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity says in a conversation with Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity , an international ecumenical prayer initiative, celebrated all over the world, jointly promoted by the Ecumenical Council of Churches, for Protestants and Orthodox, and by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, for Catholics.
The Prayer was first established in 1908 as a time when Christian faiths pray together for the achievement of the full unity of the Church. Each year it takes place in the northern hemisphere between 18 and 25 January, while in the southern hemisphere on other dates, for example during Pentecost.
The texts proposed to Christians around the world for 2020 are the result of a project carried out by the Churches of Malta and Gozo, which focuses on the tragedy of migrants and on the theme of reception: "The theme for the week of prayer this year - reports Fr. Currer - is 'They showed us unsusual kindness' and draws inspiration from the episode narrated in the final chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in which Saint Paul and the men who are with him on the ship after a terrible storm, manage to save themselves and are generously rescued by the inhabitants of the island of Malta".
"This episode - explains the reverend - re-proposes the drama of humanity: the passengers of the boat are at the mercy of the violent sea and the mighty storm that rages around them. They are forces that push them towards unknown landing places, and they feel lost. Divine Providence - he continues - unites them, however, in the hope of salvation. The ship and all its precious cargo will be lost, but all will have their lives saved".
Therefore, the people on the same ship reach the same destination, where the hospitality of the islanders reveals the unity of mankind: "In our search for unity - notes Fr. Currer - abandoning oneself to Divine Providence implies the need to let go of many of the things we are deeply attached to. What is dear to God is the salvation of all".
"As Christians and human beings - says Fr. Anthony - this story challenges us: do we collide with the cold forces of indifference, or do we show a 'rare kindness' and become witnesses of God's loving providence to all men? Hospitality is a fundamental virtue in our search for Christian unity. Our Christian unity - he concludes - will be discovered not only by showing hospitality to each other, but also through encounters of love with those who do not speak our language, do not have our culture or our faith".
The main ecumenical celebration took place in the pro-Anglican Cathedral of Saint Paul in La Valletta on the evening of Friday 24 January. Finally, the various ecumenical partners and the people involved in the ecumenical dialogue in Malta will meet on Saturday 25 January, the day of the conclusion of the week, for a moment of prayer and sharing.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Reverend Anthony Currer on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - A social, political, religious and cultural revolution is urgently needed to promote female leadership

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 10:47
Kara - In many African countries it is time for elections. "Social structures, such as politics, religion and culture, sometimes constitute real obstacles to promoting female leadership", notes the Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions, Father Donald Zagore. "Because of the strongly male-dominated structures, women on the African continent remain outside the fundamental roles in the life of their countries. Aside from the exceptional and successful example of Ellen Johnson, former president of Liberia, women in Africa are satisfied with carrying out secondary roles in the political life of their countries. In Togo, for example, for the next presidential election on February 22, 2020, no woman is among the ten declared candidates.
The Ivorian priest insists on the enormous female potential "that could bring that political stability that is lacking in our countries. A social, political, religious and cultural revolution is urgently needed to promote women's leadership in Africa", concludes Fr. Zagore.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - Week for Christian unity: "a unity that does not exclude anyone, especially the most disadvantaged, and among these migrants"

Fides EN - - Sab, 18/01/2020 - 10:42
Mexico City - The material for living the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, from 18 to 25 January, was prepared this year by the Christian Churches of Malta and Gozo. Every year on February 10th they celebrate the feast of the shipwreck of Saint Paul and, with this event, the evangelization of the islands. The reflections and the motto, "They treated us kindly" therefore have as their theme the journey of the Apostle, prisoner and chained, who had to face storms at sea. As the Bishop of Veracruz, Carlos Briseño Arch, President of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Communion of the Mexican Episcopal Conference recalls in his message, "prisoners, sailors and soldiers were shipwrecked and arrived on an island, where the inhabitants did not speak their language, did not share their culture or religion, but were warmly welcomed, with food and clothes and treated with kindness".
In the text sent to Fides, the Bishop of Veracruz explains: "This passage in the life of Saint Paul reminds us of scenes that we currently see in the news: migrants facing storms, are received on many occasions with indifference, discrimination and rejection; they are kidnapped or exploited and even subjected to human trafficking. Is this the attitude of a Christian? Is this what God expects of us?"
Citing Pope Francis who has denounced this situation several times, Mgr. Carlos Briseño Arch stresses that "migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become an emblem of exclusion because, in addition to enduring the difficulties due to their conditions, they are often subject to negative judgments, as they are considered responsible for social diseases. The attitude towards them constitutes an alarm signal, which warns us of the moral decay that we face if we continue to give space to the culture of waste.
In Mexico one of the pastoral commitments of the Global Pastoral Project is to identify and accompany vulnerable groups in society, migrants among others. "The materials we offer for the eight days - concludes the Bishop - have been prepared to pray for the unity of Christians, but a unity that does not exclude anyone, that does not forget anyone, especially the most disadvantaged, the weakest and, among these, migrants".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - A human rights defender killed every day, the Bishops ask for an immediate response from the institutions

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 12:59
Bogota - The Bishops of Colombia feel "immense pain and concern in receiving, every day during this 2020, news of assassinations of leaders and threats to communities", express "solidarity with the survivors, family members and friends of those who lost their lives in this wave of violence and senseless death", says the statement of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia after the murder of another social leader. 17 days have passed since the beginning of 2020 and there are also 17 human rights defenders killed because leaders or representatives of some rural community.
"We insist on the need to implement a national public policy to deal with this threat, which includes protection initiatives, timely responses to alarms and effective presence of state institutions in the most vulnerable communities", write the Bishops, addressing the new municipal and regional administrators recently elected, urging them to put the protection of communities and social leaders into their administrative programs.
The Bishops' request starts from respect for the life of each person, "which is sacred", and the murders and violent actions "against our brothers and sisters" end up "threatening democracy" and the institutions of the Country.
According to the Bishops’ Conference, 17 deaths have been recorded in less than 17 days since the beginning of 2020, while the NGO Instituto de Estudios sobre Paz y Desarrollo reports 21. But this type of violence comes from afar and the political movement of the Patriotic March claim that the actual numbers of the murdered leaders exceed 700 units, in addition to the 140 former FARC fighters who were killed after the signing of the peace agreement . The final count in 2019 was 250 murdered only for social leaders, including 23 in December 2019. The solution to this type of violence, again according to INDEPAZ, is the promotion of the economic and social development of these territories. The Catholic Church, which has been following and denouncing this dramatic situation for some time, has made proposals for the development and respect for human rights in the region .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - The Bishop of Myitkyina: "Stop violence, which slows down development"

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 12:49
Myitkyina - The bloodshed that continues in some parts of Myanmar "is a cause for concern for all, is a brake on development, blocks the construction of a sustainable future": says Bishop Francis Daw Tang, at the guide of the diocese of Myitkyina, in the state of Kachin, in northern Myanmar. Through Agenzia Fides, the Bishop launched a heartfelt appeal, hoping that "the violence and conflicts that still torment the country will be resolved through dialogue: the people of Myanmar aspire to peace and development".
The Bishop recalls that the conflicts with ethnic minorities and the tension between local rebel groups and the regular army have lasted for decades. "This state of affairs marked by a condition of permanent conflict has caused serious problems for the population of all walks of life, creating great suffering among civilians and generating waves of internally displaced persons", notes Mgr. Tang in his interview with Fides.
Among the dioceses most affected by violence and bloodshed are those of Banmaw and Myitkyina, in the Kachin state, and that of Lashio, in the Shan state. The Kachin and the Shan are in fact two of the major ethnic groups that have organized a rebellion - since the days of the dictatorship - and have fought with the Burmese army.
"Ethnic violence and relentless conflict in the North Myanmar region are putting a strain on the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of people, while the conditions for guaranteeing sustenance, education and peace in the region remain critical", notes the Bishop, expressing bitterness for the situation.
In this context, the diocese of Myitkyina is trying to live the year 2020, says Mgr. Tang, "focusing on the challenges to respond to the concrete needs of the faithful, starting from health, education and social development, while taking care of the pastoral aspects related to spiritual growth and administration of the sacraments".
In particular, a challenge that the diocese faces is the situation that affects many young people who "interrupt their studies for various reasons", linked to the unease of the present situation. The Church, through her pastoral workers, tries to limit this bloodshed and "to accompany them in the growth and development of a particular skill, also proposing professional training itineraries, so that they can have an occupation and a social position in society", explains the Bishop.
The diocese of Myitkyina has over 90,000 Catholics spread across 20 parishes, in which 64 priests and 120 nuns operate.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio to politicians: "True leadership is in favor of young people"

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 12:26
Tombura - "People from all walks of life are urging South Sudan to achieve peace. Foreigners are even investing their money for this goal. They all want peace for our country. It is time for leaders to show true leadership": this is the appeal launched by Mgr. Edwardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the diocese of Tombura Yambio, who has returned to talk about the peace agreement in the country .
The Bishop also expressed some disappointment at how the understanding is proceeding. Hiiboro urged leaders "to think about the good of the country's population, especially children and young people, who are denied a bright future because of political conflicts".
The Bishop of Tombura Yambio spoke on the occasion of the distribution of books for primary and secondary school students in the western states of Gbudue, Tambura, Maridi and Amadi, four of the 32 that make up South Sudan.
The event was held in the Curia of Yambio thanks to donations from the association of Catholics of the diocese who live in America.
"The distribution of the books was expected last year, but adverse weather conditions did not allow it. It was the best gift to start the academic year and promote literacy in the region. We strengthen not only school libraries, but also public ones. We encourage the culture of reading because thanks to it, great things happen", said the Bishop, thanking the representatives of the four states, and added that, despite political instability, the ministries of education in their respective states have never remained vacant.
The diocesan coordinator for education, Ceasar DauDau, praised and thanked the donors for the initiative that will contribute significantly to helping students on their academic journey. "The problems in this country are the result of illiteracy. Politics came before technical development, unlike what happens in other developed countries. It is time to change this mindset", said a collaborator operating in the state of Gbudue.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - Melkite Patriarch: we are in the Middle East not to "spread the Christian civilization", but to demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in our life

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 12:06
Cairo - The mission of the Church, also in the Middle East, is not to "spread Christian civilization in place of other civilizations", but to "demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and help others to receive the gift of this Spirit". With these words Youssef Absi, Patriarch of Antioch of the Melkites, expressed in a synthetic and effective form the appropriate criterion with which it is convenient to look at the events of the Christian communities scattered in the Middle Eastern area. "Our presence, especially in the Middle East" clarified the Patriarch "does not depend on our number, our strength, our greatness and our ability, but rather on the effective work of the Holy Spirit in our lives".
The setting used by the Patriarch of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church to expose his precious considerations on the present and future mission of ecclesial communities also in the Middle East was the six-monthly session of the Assembly of Catholic bishops in Egypt, hosted at the church of Santo Stefano, in the neighborhood of al Maadi, on the days of 14 and 15 January. The Assembly was co-chaired by Youssef Absi and by Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Coptic Catholics. The meeting was attended by more than twenty Catholic bishops, men and women religious working in the great country of North Africa, together with Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, who was appointed apostolic Nuncio to the Arab Republic of Egypt last November and pontifical delegate to the League of Arab States by Pope Francis.
In the two days spent together, the participants in the assembly also addressed the delicate issue of the impact - often negative - of social media on the lives of ecclesial communities. During the working sessions, the document-contribution of the Catholic Churches related to the draft law on the personal legal status of Christians in Egypt was also drawn up, a contribution that must be delivered to the competent authorities in view of the discussion and promulgation of this law by the Egyptian government.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The President of the Bishops' Conference calls for national reconciliation in view of the vote

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 11:43
Abidjan - "We pray in the name of Christ, let yourself be reconciled with God. Dear brothers and sisters, Christians, like Paul, we have reconciled ourselves with God through the mediation of Christ; he has given us the ministry of speech, of reconciliation, what do we do with it in our families, in our basic ecclesial communities, in our parishes, in our dioceses, in our country that has known the war?", said His Exc. Mgr. Ignace Dogbo Bessi, Bishop of Katiola, Apostolic Administrator of Korhogo, President of the Bishops' Conference of the Ivory Coast, during the homily of the opening mass of the 114th plenary assembly of the Bishops of the Ivory Coast, in the church of San Giovanni Bosco in Korhogo.
In the current extremely fragile socio-political context of the Ivory Coast, a few months before the presidential elections , Mgr. Bessi once again urges Ivorians to reconcile and pacify. Through his homily he therefore invites the faithful to make reconciliation a priority because "the primacy of reconciliation with his brother is rooted in reconciliation with God whose urgency, characteristics and modalities are presented by the apostle Paul, a great beneficiary of reconciliation with God, of God's mercy. We are therefore ambassadors of Christ and reconciliation".
The solemn opening of the 114th Plenary Assembly of the Ivorian episcopate, whose theme is "Communion at the service of reconciliation", was held on January 14 at the "Our Lady of the Rosary of Lataha" Spirituality and Reception Center, in the Archdiocese of Korhogo in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in the Ivory Coast, His Exc. Mgr. Paolo Borgia, of the administrative, political authorities, military, women religious and numerous faithful.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - Week of prayer for Christian unity: ecumenical meeting in Guayaquil on 24 January

Fides EN - - Ven, 17/01/2020 - 11:32
Guayaquil - From 18 to 25 January the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated around the world, which in 2020 has the theme "They showed us extraordinary hospitality" . This week proposed by the Catholic Church invites to dedicate eight days of prayer for the achievement of full unity among all those who believe in Christ. The Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference has adapted the guide published by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches for the country, which contains reflections on the themes of the eight days and a model of ecumenical celebration.
Mgr. Giovanni Piccioli, responsible for the pastoral care of ecumenism and the inter-religious dialogue of the EEC, explains in the note sent to Fides, that "this liturgical instrument, made available to the whole Church in Ecuador, will allow us to join the whole Universal Church through the Eucharist, because we are enthusiastically participating in this week from our parish communities". Mgr. Piccioli also invited Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics, to participate in an ecumenical day of prayer to be held on Friday 24 January at 7pm in the parish of El Sagrario in Guayaquil.
The first day of the week will be dedicated to prayer for Orthodox Christians, the second day for the brothers and sisters of the Lutheran Church, the third day for the Anglican brothers and sisters, the fourth for the brothers and sisters of the Methodist Church, the fifth day we will pray for the unity of the Evangelical brothers and sisters, the sixth day will be dedicated to the brothers and sisters of the Pentecostal Church, the seventh day the prayer for the brothers and sisters of the Reformed Churches, finally the Week will end with a prayer for the Catholic Church.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - Syriac Orthodox monk accused of complicity with the PKK has been released

Fides EN - - Gio, 16/01/2020 - 13:21
Mardin – Although released from prison, Syriac Orthodox monk Sefer Bileçen, arrested last January 9 by Turkish security forces on charges of offering help and coverage to PKK militants, the Kurdish worker party, which is banned and labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish government and army, cannot leave his residence. The priest was released on Tuesday January 14 at the request of his lawyers, and after the religious had committed himself not to leave his home and live in a condition of partial freedom until the accusations of complicity with the members of the PKK will be confirmed and denied.
Father Sefer Bileçen, priest of the Mor Yakup Monastery in Nusaybin , after his arrest had been brought before a judge of the local court on charges of flanking against "a terrorist organization". For him, the prison doors were immediately opened.
In the days following the arrest, Turkish media reported that investigations regarding the monk had started in September 2018, when cameras mounted on two drones of the Turkish security services had filmed two PKK militants entering the monastery of Mor Yakup. Since then, the monastery and in particular Sefer had been placed under surveillance by intelligence services. In September 2019, a PKK militant arrested by Turkish security forces had confessed to having visited Mor Yakup monastery several times to eat and drink. Other testimonies reported in the Turkish media also confirm that the alleged "complicity" contested by the Turkish authorities to the Syriac Orthodox monk was limited to the simple offering of food and drinks to people who said they were hungry and thirsty.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/DOMINICAN REP. - The Bishops for the 2020 elections: "As Dominicans and as Pastors we are concerned about everything that is about the human being"

Fides EN - - Gio, 16/01/2020 - 13:03
Santo Domingo - The Dominican Episcopal Conference , in its pastoral letter entitled "2020 Elections: space for participation and commitment", which bears the date of January 21, "on the 60th anniversary of the pastoral letter of January 1960", invites candidates in the municipal elections in February and in the general elections in May, to present proposals based on the solution of the most urgent needs of the Dominican people, "avoiding intrigue, slander and manipulation of the so-called dirty campaigns, as well as the waste of economic resources in excessive advertising".
In the long and detailed 24-page document, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops recall that on the agenda of the concrete actions of the candidates there must be the fight against administrative, public and private corruption, the defense of the life of the mother and the unborn child, urban and family violence, climate change, respect for the legal and constitutional order. In addition, immigration management policies, investment in health, justice and social security, employment policies, fair wages and poverty reduction are needed.
The Central Electoral Council "deserves our support and that of all Dominicans, especially in order to guarantee a transparent electoral process", as "we cannot admit the corrupt and illegal practice of buying and selling ballots in front of everyone, without taking action against this electoral offense".
To those who question the Church's right to express its opinion on political issues or electoral processes, the Bishops respond: "as Dominicans and Pastors of this people, we are concerned about everything that is about the human being". The Church respects the freedom of choice, that voting is a right and a duty of conscience that must not be motivated by personal interests and that a true democratic exercise is possible only in a rule of law where the law prevails "above of short-term and accommodating interpretations".
In their letter, the Bishops expressed the desire for political leaders to sign a national commitment pact on priorities for Dominican society, "drawing up a national and provincial agenda that goes beyond personal and group interests in favor of the collective well-being of the nation".
This year the Dominican Episcopal Conference commemorates the 60th anniversary of the pastoral letter published in January 1960 against the regime of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, signed by the six Bishops of that time, who "in the exercise of their prophetic mission", raised their voice to demand the defense of human rights, respect and promotion of life and human dignity. That document "radiated light at a critical moment in national life, characterized by the generalized suffering imposed by tyranny". Even if today we live in a different situation, the Bishops point out, "there are still many obstacles to overcome in order to obtain a better quality of life for all and for a social recomposition".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - New intimidations denounced against the Church, the unity of the people to build a new Nicaragua

Fides EN - - Gio, 16/01/2020 - 12:10
Managua - The Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Managua, Archbishop Carlos Avilés, denounced the intimidation against the faithful by the state: "Members of the police take note of the plate of the cars of the faithful only for the fact that they go to mass in a parish, is ridiculous. But the Church had this experience of persecution already in the 80s. We, despite this, do not stop in our work and in our mission, to evangelize and be next to the people. Since April 2018, when the people peacefully protested against the 'Seguro Social' reform and were brutally stopped by the dictatorship, the Catholic Church once again stood on the side of the weakest" .
Mgr. Aviles' statements are contained in a video shared with Fides and disseminated on social media, in which he informs that there has been an official complaint by the Church on these facts, also published in the media. The video contains an interview with the newspaper La Prensa del Nicaragua, where the Vicar General of the diocese describes the situation of the Church: "Thanks be to God, the Church reflects how much society lives, how much people live. We have no power, neither military, nor political, to face and fight against a free repression only to be on the side of the people, or only to denounce the people's requests for justice".
Mgr. Avilés concludes by asking police members to stop the persecution of the Church and its faithful: "We cannot live in an environment of repression. We must live in a Christian spirit, in peace and harmony".
The situation in Nicaragua is always of constant tension. The government's attempts to present a peaceful and serene country to the international press when social and peasant leaders are persecuted, threatened or even killed are useless. Entrepreneurs no longer support the government's economic policy, with immediate negative consequences for the international market; the national press is prevented from reporting on daily events; opposition parties find themselves without political instruments before the next elections.
However, the testimonies of young people in many cities of the country, through social media, confirm that a Free and United Nicaragua is not only possible, but will be the result of every little contribution, according to the words of Mgr. Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa: "The people are teaching a lesson of unity".
Categorie: From the church