ASIA/SYRIA - The icon of the "Mysterious Supper" returns to the Syrian village of Maalula

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 13:15
Maalula - A copy of the icon of the Mysterious Supper - stolen from the shrine of St. Sergius and Bacchus in Maalula in 2014 when the Syrian village was occupied by al-Nusra jihadists - has been relocated to the ancient altar. The initiative to have a faithful copy of the icon painted and brought back to Maalula was inspired and brought to completion thanks to the collaboration that involved the NGO Perigeo, the Zaccaria Institute of the Barnabite Fathers of Milan and the University Center for the international solidarity of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The icon - symbol, explain the architects of the initiative in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, "returns to reunite the Syrian Christian community, to testify that the violence of terrorism can only strengthen the identity of those who believe in peaceful coexistence".
During their visit to Syria, the leaders of the institutions involved in the initiative, also delivered a reproduction of Our Lady of Providence, donated by the Barnabite Fathers to Mar Ignatios Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, along with some contributions for initiatives and projects to support groups of young people in Damascus, Maalula and Aleppo. The delegation was also able to visit the city of Homs, and also made contact to launch a series of activities in favor of the Syrian people, "which calls for recognition and attention" in a delicate phase, characterized by the need to support the reconstruction and national reconciliation after the devastating years of the conflict.
Maalula, 55 km northeast of Damascus, known worldwide for being one of the places where Aramaic is still spoken, the language of Jesus, houses both the monastery of Saint Tekla - home to a Greek Orthodox female monastic community - and the sanctuary dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, that belongs to the Greek-Melchite Catholic Church.
Between September 2013 and March 2014, the rock village of Maalula was occupied by jihadist militias, in one of the most intense phases of the Syrian conflict.
After the reconquest of the village by the Syrian government army, the images and descriptions disseminated by government sources and also by international news agencies documented the devastation suffered by the Christian places of worship during the months of occupation by the jihadist militias. In particular, serious damage was inflicted on the Greek-Melchite shrine, where the church had been devastated, religious objects, images and sacred books had been damaged, and both the icons kept in the sacristy and the bells had disappeared, along with the cross that surmounted the dome of the convent.
The sanctuary of Mar Sarkis , was founded at the end of the fifth century and is dedicated to the saints Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers martyred for their faith under the Emperor Galerius. . Hotel Safir is on the hill above the sanctuary, a hotel that dominated the village and had been chosen as the headquarters of the rebel militias.
Before being devastated by the civil war, there were 5,000 Syrians living in the rock village of Maalula, most of them Christians .
In the original icon of the Mysterious Supper

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Nearly 900 people killed in the West in clashes among communities

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 12:57
Kinshasa - Almost 900 people were massacred in four villages in community violence in the west of the Democratic Republic of Congo , between 16 and 18 December. This was reported by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The massacre took place near Yumbi, in the province of Mai-Ndombe, about 300 km north of the capital Kinshasa and it apparently it is not related to the tensions regarding the elections held on December 30th but to rivalry between the Banunu and Batendé communities.
In addition to the victims there are serious material damages: 465 private houses and public buildings were set on fire or looted. These include two schools, a health center, a clinic, a market and an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission . Over 16,000 people have taken refuge in the neighboring Republic of Congo .
Following the massacre, the authorities in Kinshasa decided to postpone the vote in the area scheduled for December 30th.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Tuticorin and appointment of successor

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 12:37
Vatican City – Today the Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Tuticorin , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Yvon Ambroise.
The Pope appointed Rev. Fr. Stephen Antony Pillai, of the clergy of Vellore, currently Director of the Diocesan Retreat Center and Professor of St. Paul's Seminary in Tiruchirapalli as Bishop of Tuticorin.
Rev. Fr. Stephen Antony Pillai was born on 22 June 1952 in Keezha Manakudy, Diocese of Kottar. He studied philosophy at Santhome Minor Seminary, Chennai and Arul Anandar College, Madurai and Theology in St. Paul's Seminary in Tiruchirapalli, he obtained a Masters Degree in Theology at the St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore and a PhD in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.
Since his priestly ordination on May 7, 1979, for the Diocese of Vellore, he has held the following positions: Parish vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Sanctuary in Chetpet ; Parish Vicar of the Sacred Heart Church in Polur ; Studies for a Masters Degree in Theology at the St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore ; Parish priest of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Thachambadi ; Studies for a Doctorate in Biblical Theology in Rome ; Missionary in Guadaloupe, France ; Director of the Catholic Pastoral Center of Vellore ; Professor at St. Paul's Seminary in Tiruchirapalli ; Parish priest of the Cathedral of Vellore ; Vicar General and Parish Priest of the Cathedral Vice Rector and professor at St. Paul's Seminary in Tiruchirapalli ; Parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine in Chetpet, Vicar Forane and Member of the Episcopal Council of the Diocese of Vellore ; External lecturer at the Don Bosco Major Seminary, in Chennai and Pallottine Major Seminary in Mysore .
Since 2017 he has been Director of the Diocesan Retreat Center, and external Professor at St. Paul's Seminary in Tiruchirapalli.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Ijebu-Ode and appointment of successor

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 12:24
Vatican City – Today Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Ijebu-Ode , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Albert Ayinde Fasina. The Holy Father appointed the Fr. Francis Obafemi Adesina, of the clergy of Osogbo, currently rector of Saints Peter and Paul Seminary in Ibadan as Bishop of Ijebu-Ode.
Fr. Francis Obafemi Adesina was born in Wenchi , on January 28, 1964. He has Nigerian citizenship. He completed his philosophical and theological studies at Saints Peter and Paul Seminary in Ibadan. He later obtained a Licentiate in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute and a Doctorate at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He was ordained a priest on October 14, 1989 for the Diocese of Oyo. Later it was incardinated in the new Diocese of Osogbo.
Since his priestly ordination he has held the following positions: Collaborator at St. Benedict Cathedral, Diocese of Oyo ; Collaborator at St. Mary, Ilesa ; Parish priest of St. Augustine, Ipetumodu ; Chaplain of the Renewal of the Spirit ; Director of the Pastoral Center, then Diocese of Oyo ; Diocesan Coordinator of the Pastoral Plan ; Cappellano, Federal Polytecnic, Ede ; Diocesan Secretary, Diocese of Oyo ; Studies for a Licentiate in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, in Rome , Parish priest of the Cathedral of St. Mary ; Formator at the Saints Peter and Paul Seminary, in Ibadan ; Director of Art & Culture ; Studies for a Doctorate at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome ; Dean of Students in Saints Peter and Paul Seminary, in Ibadan ; since 2013 Rector of Saints Peter and Paul Seminary, in Ibadan.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BURUNDI - Confirmation of Fr. Salvator Ngendabanyikwa as National Director of the PMS

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 12:18
Vatican City - On October 28, 2018 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed Fr. Salvator Ngendabanyikwa, of the diocesan clergy of Ruyigi, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Burundi for another five years .

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Protests for fuel price hikes; the Bishops invite not to listen to incitements to violence

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 12:15
Harare - Three people killed, around 200 wounded, more than 600 arrested. This is the toll of the clashes which took place in past days in Harare and in other cities of Zimbabwe, between the police and demonstrators protesting for the rise in fuel prices. Among the arrested there is also baptist pastor Evan Mawarire, protagonist of the protest movement against former President Robert Mugabe, forced to resign in November 2017 .
Since then, the Country has been governed by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who had assumed the post of interim Head of State following the resignation of Mugabe before being elected in the elections held at the end of July.
Mnangagwa has so far failed to improve the difficult economic condition of the Country and the increase in fuel prices has triggered a violent protest, fueled by messages conveyed through social media.
A fact that was reported by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference , which in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, expresses its concern for "the wide circulation of hate-filled social media messages, calling for the nation to take to the streets to protest against the economic hardships".
"The economic situation is not favourable to the general citizenry", acknowledges the Episcopal Conference, which however launches an appeal "to citizens to exercise restraint and avoid reacting in the heat of the moment to give room for dialogue with all stakeholders".
The ZCBC appeal to the nation "to shun violence and engage in mass gatherings called by faceless social media characters, who have no responsibility to the collateral damage that might ensue".

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - Archbishop Goh: "May religions be united in promoting spiritual values in a secularized society"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 11:32
Singapore - "It is important that all religions work together to ensure that there are signs of closeness and sharing especially in the various religious feasts, celebrations and other occasions, this is important in the light of the phenomenon of secularization that affects all societies and poses a challenge to all religions, as it minimizes or marginalizes the fundamental spiritual values": says the Archbishop of Singapore, Mgr. William Goh, underlining the progressive strengthening of good relations with other religions in the nation and hoping that they can offer a contribution to the life of society.
With this in mind, the Church of Singapore organized an interreligious event on December 26 at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, led by the diocesan Council for interreligious dialogue. Members of the Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist, Jewish and Hindu communities were present at the meeting. The event was an opportunity to socialize and strengthen friendship.
Urging all those present "to work so that people appreciate the values of every religion", Archbishop Goh referred to Christmas which, for Christians, is "the incarnation of God, it is Jesus Christ who gives himself to each person".
Religions, the Archbishop remarked, "must go beyond mere mutual respect and are called to reach the next level, that is to appreciate the values that every religion promotes and how the believers of every faith can learn from each other", being bearers of peace, benevolence, light, love in society.
The parish priest of the host church, Fr.Timothy Yeo shared and showed a video that tells the story of the beginning of the Catholic Church in Singapore, hoping for a path of dialogue, collaboration and common commitment for the believers of the various religious communities present in the city-state.
Singapore is a multi-religious and multicultural country. It has a population of 5.6 million people, including 383,000 Catholics, about 9% of the population.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - Archbishop Goh: "May religions be united in promoting spiritual values in secularized society"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 11:32
Singapore - "It is important that all religions work together to ensure that there are signs of closeness and sharing especially in the various religious feasts, celebrations and other occasions, this is important in the light of the phenomenon of secularization that affects all societies and poses a challenge to all religions, as it minimizes or marginalizes the fundamental spiritual values": says the Archbishop of Singapore, Mgr. William Goh, underlining the progressive strengthening of good relations with other religions in the nation and hoping that they can offer a contribution to the life of society.
With this in mind, the Church of Singapore organized an interreligious event on December 26 at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, led by the diocesan Council for interreligious dialogue. Members of the Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist, Jewish and Hindu communities were present at the meeting. The event was an opportunity to socialize and strengthen friendship.
Urging all those present "to work so that people appreciate the values of every religion", Archbishop Goh referred to Christmas which, for Christians, is "the incarnation of God, it is Jesus Christ who gives himself to each person".
Religions, the Archbishop remarked, "must go beyond mere mutual respect and are called to reach the next level, that is to appreciate the values that every religion promotes and how the believers of every faith can learn from each other", being bearers of peace, benevolence, light, love in society.
The parish priest of the host church, Fr.Timothy Yeo shared and showed a video that tells the story of the beginning of the Catholic Church in Singapore, hoping for a path of dialogue, collaboration and common commitment for the believers of the various religious communities present in the city-state.
Singapore is a multi-religious and multicultural country. It has a population of 5.6 million people, including 383,000 Catholics, about 9% of the population.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Young Koreans bring their passion for peace to WYD

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 11:11
Cartago - Young Koreans bring their passion and commitment for peace to World Youth Day in Panama: as Agenzia Fides learns, 41 Korean pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Seoul, accompanied by Mgr. Peter Chung Soon-taek, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, have just landed on the American continent, and arrived at the church of the Protomartyrs of San Esteban, in the diocese of Cartago, Costa Rica, to participate in the diocesan phase that precedes the days of WYD in Panama.
As the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Seoul reports to Fides, the Korean pilgrims and young people in the church that will host them, lived a solemn and festive welcome mass: even if the young people of the two countries come from the opposite sides of the globe and met for the first time, they immediately had an experience of unity, as they are all young and share the same faith. During the welcoming ceremony, the "hosts" prepared a musical show according to local traditions, while during the mass, the Korean pilgrims donated the statue of the Virgin Mary of Korea "and a painting of the 103 holy Korean martyrs.
From 17 to 20 January, young people will be engaged in various programs and initiatives, such as volunteer activities, gatherings, pilgrimages to shrines. On the 20th, they will travel from Costa Rica to Panama.
The pilgrims departed from Seoul on January 14, after the mass in which they invoked God's protection and blessings. Mgr. Chung said: "Let us prepare our hearts to welcome the grace of God, so that time in Panama may bear fruit and be a blessing for everyone's life, be it a time of sharing of God’s love and neighbor". The "mobility" and "connectivity" of today's young people, he underlined, "ensure that in WYD they can share their faith and their most precious experiences even with those who cannot participate personally".
About 370 pilgrims from 12 dioceses in South Korea will attend WYD in Panama 2019, scheduled from 22nd to 27th January. Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, will also be present.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Young representatives of indigenous peoples bring their expectations and hopes to WYD

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Gio, 17/01/2019 - 10:38
Manaus - 2019 World Youth Day will bring together young people from all over the world in Panama from 22 to 27 January. Among them are eight young Brazilian natives, representatives of different peoples and regions: the Tupinambá of Bahia, the Tukanos and the Barés of Amazonas, the Guarani-Kaiowa del Mato Grosso do Sul, the Karipuna of Rondonia or the Guarajaras del Maranhão.
Speaking to Agenzia Fides, these young people declare they are sent by their different peoples, by their relatives, to meet Pope Francis, who has repeatedly expressed his closeness to the peoples.
In the days preceding World Youth Day, during the so-called days in the dioceses, the Brazilian delegation will take part, from 17 to 21 January, in the World Meeting of Indigenous Youth, which will be held in Soloy, diocese of David, where hundreds of young people from different indigenous peoples of the world are expected, in an attempt to reflect and celebrate their faith in Christ according to the millennial wealth of their cultures.
The young Brazilians will be accompanied by Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso, of the missionary indigenist Council , a body of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil that accompanies the lives of the Brazilian indigenous peoples, helping them in the continuous attacks of which they are victims. Some of these threats have been reported to Fides by young indigenous people, highlighting daily situations in their communities and the difficulties currently experienced by many of these peoples, who in their view are a repetition of situations that have already occurred in the last five hundred years.
Before their journey, the young indigenous people gathered in the headquarters of the indigenist Council of Manaus, where in addition to getting to know each other, exchanged experiences and saw how to organize how much they will share in the meetings in which they will participate, both with the natives and with all the participants at WYD.
The message they bring, shared with Agenzia Fides, is the request to see their right respected "to live and to be respected according to the culture of every people of this country, because every people has its own particular culture, its beliefs, its customs, its traditions ", and insist on the fact that "in every people there is the desire to live, to be free, to enjoy their territory without fear and tension in every moment".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - Churches closed under pressure from Islamists in Minya. Coptic jurists denounce the local authorities of connivance with sectarianism

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/01/2019 - 13:32
Minya - Some Coptic jurists have denounced the governor of Minya province before the attorney general about the facts that in recent days have led to the closure of a Coptic place of worship in the village of Mansheyat Zaafarana. The Coptic jurists – reports the Copts United website - have attached also video-photographic material to their complaint attesting how the police did not defend the place of worship from the attack of groups of Islamist mobs who asked for the closure.
In Mansheyat Zaafarana there is a private building adapted to a place where members of the local Coptic community pray . The riots started on January 7th, when several hundred hotheads surrounded the place of worship shouting offensive and intimidating slogans in the presence of security forces. The police asked the demonstrators to calm down, promising them that the Christian place of worship would be closed.
Even the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Minya stigmatized the attitude of local authorities to give in to pressure from intransigents, who always manage to impose their illegitimate claims against the Copts by force.
In the last month, in the province of Minya, three churches were closed after protests and sectarian incidents.
Those of MansheyatZaafarana took place a few hours after the Christmas vigil, which also saw Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi intervene in the liturgy celebrated by Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II in the new Cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of Christ, built in the new Egyptian administrative capital and presented with emphasis by the Egyptian authorities as the largest church in the Middle East.
In recent years, a process of restoration and regularization of Christian places of worship is underway in Egypt, which has already allowed to reopen or "legalize" 500 churches and chapels throughout the Country. As already reported by Fides , there are more than 3 thousand Christian places of worship that will have to be examined by the government apparatus to verify whether they meet the standards established by the new law.
In recent decades, many of the Christian places of worship to be subjected to the assessment of governmental control bodies were built spontaneously, without all the necessary authorizations. In the past, precisely such buildings raised by local Christian communities had been used as a pretext by Islamist groups to foment sectarian violence against Christians.
The law on places of worship, approved at the end of August 2016 represented for the Egyptian Christian communities a step forward compared to the so-called "10 Rules" added in 1934 to the Ottoman legislation from the Ministry of Interior, which prohibited, among other things to build new churches near schools, channels, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the strict application of those rules has prevented to build churches in cities and villages inhabited by Christians, especially in rural areas of Upper Egypt.
Before August 2016, and in the absence of precise legislative references, in order to meet their own pastoral needs, the various Churches and Christian communities had built buildings - buildings of worship, but also houses and premises for collective use - which still lack the specific licenses required by the current legislation.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - The work of the Assembly of Bishops begins: "Synodality belongs to the whole Church"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/01/2019 - 12:45
Lima - 49 Peruvian Bishops yesterday inaugurated their 113th Plenary Assembly with a Mass celebrated in the parish of San Antonio de Padua, district of Jesus Maria, in Lima. Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, Archbishop of Trujillo and President of the Episcopal Conference , presided over the concelebration, together with Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima, and Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, Apostolic Nuncio in Peru as principal concelebrants.
According to the note sent by the Peruvian Bishops to Agenzia Fides, the President of CEP in his homily focused his reflection on synodality, a concept widely used today in the Church to describe the walking together of Bishops, priests and faithful, especially after celebrating Synods like the one on the family and the young. "The Church as God's people, is a Synodal Church, it walks together, to proclaim and witness the Gospel. The Synodal Church is a concept that is easy to express with words, but it is not so easy to put into practice", stresses Mgr. Cabrejos.
"Synodality belongs to the whole Church and to all the members of the Church. The Synodal Church is nothing but walking together, to meet Christ, our Lord", he added. Mgr. Cabrejos also referred to the spirit of service: "In this Synodal Church no one is above others".
After Mass, the Bishops went to the headquarters of the Episcopal Conference, where the Assembly is being held, which will continue until Friday 18 January, and will cover various topics, as well as an analysis of the latest events in the country. The Apostolic Nuncio in Peru, Archbishop Girasoli, will bring his special greetings. In addition, as every year, the award of the Medal of Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo will be awarded to people and institutions that have distinguished themselves for their work in favor of the Church.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Central African Bishops denounce: "Some UN contingents do not protect civilians"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/01/2019 - 12:30
Bangui - There are contingents of the Blue Helmets of the UN Mission in Central Africa who do not do their duty to protect civilians. This is the accusation launched by the Central African Bishops at the end of their Plenary Assembly. "We pay tribute to those contingents of MINUSCA that ensure the protection of civilians", reads the message sent to Agenzia Fides. "However, we deplore the duplicity of some contingents that leave the situation deteriorate under their eyes, that take advantage of the situation, particularly the Moroccans in the east, the Pakistanis in Batangafo and the Mauritanians in Alindao. Such behavior only aggravates the already critical situation of the Country".
The Bishops depict a dramatic picture of the conditions of the Country. "It is sad to note - they write - that beyond the capital and some cities, the State has a merely formal presence. Civil and military functions, even in areas where there are no armed groups, have no means to operate and their number is symbolic". Vast areas of Central Africa escape State control and are in the hands of armed groups who "repeatedly commit inhumane violence and serious human rights violations: rackets, arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, torture..." Rebel groups have come to the point of changing the demography of different locations . The Bishops are wondering why there is massive concentration of armed groups in the east of the Country and why the populations of some areas have been forced to sign a document stating that they refuse the presence of the Central African armed forces.
To this is added the "porosity of borders to transhumance which increases instability in areas under the control of armed groups". The arrival of shepherds from across the border creates conflicts with farmers, while the porosity of the borders facilitates arms trafficking and the arrival of mercenaries, in particular from Chad, Sudan, Cameroon, Niger and Uganda. "We ask the governments of these countries to show humanity by helping the Central African Republic to emerge from anarchy for the good of all. In fact, a destabilized Country is an international problem", the Bishops say.
The Church, which has seen several of its priests and faithful killed, reaffirms its commitment to peace and continues to bring the Light of Christ the Savior of the World. "Christ came to liberate man not only from his sins, but also from the consequences of sin that crush him. "As Christians, Christ exhorts us to participate in his mission of the total liberation of man, beginning with the poorest and most marginalized".


Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christians and Muslims together to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/01/2019 - 11:24
Lahore - To commemorate the historic event of the encounter between St. Francis with the Sultan of Egypt, AL-Kamil in the year 1219, modernize it in today's Pakistan, launching a universal message of tolerance, friendship, dialogue, common commitment for peace: in this spirit the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, organized a meeting to inaugurate the activities that, in 2019, will commemorate the event in Pakistan 800 years ago, in the name of Islamic-Christian dialogue. As Agenzia Fides learns, Franciscan Sebastian Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Commission, presided over the ceremony, held on January 12 in Lahore. Next to him there was Fr. Francis Nadeem, Custodian of the Capuchin Friars in Pakistan, Executive Secretary of the Commission. Numerous Franciscans, nuns, priests, lay people and eminent Muslim scholars arrived in Lahore for the occasion also from Sialkot, Gujranwala and Islamabad.
The two great leaders, Francis and Al-kamil, "spoke up for peace and tolerance amid the atmosphere of war and conflict during the crusades. They gave an example of interreligious dialogue and mutual understanding", said Fr. Nadeem.
At the beginning of the ceremony a painting was unveiled that depicts the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Al-Kamil, while the doves were released in flight, symbolizing the hope of spreading the message of peace in Pakistan and especially in the areas in which there are religious and political conflicts.
Capuchin Friar Shahzad Khokher OFM Cap then presented the background, the historical context and the significance of this historical meeting, while Archbishop Shaw encouraged everyone present to "be ambassadors of peace, inspired by the example shown by these great leaders". "I admire the passion and courage of Francis of Assisi, who wanted to go to the Sultan during the war", he said, reiterating that "this event drives us all to live in peace, harmony, tolerance and solidarity".
Fr. Nadeem announced that in 2019 the event will be celebrated throughout Pakistan, with various activities: seminars for children, young people, university students, always involving Christians and Muslims. "We also intend to reach 30% of Muslim religious leaders who are hostile to Christians, like St. Francis, fearlessly, with the help of Muslims who are on our side, we wish to meet them to promote peace and harmony in Pakistan", he said.
Maulana Muhammad Asim Makhdoom, a well-known scholar among the many Islamic leaders present, agreed: "We will promote together the mission of St. Francis and the Sultan. It is up to us to face those who spread hatred and prejudice among religions. We have to commit ourselves seriously this year in order to convince other people to join this movement that promotes interreligious dialogue, peace and social harmony as we celebrate the 800 years of that historic encounter". The ceremony ended with the common prayer for peace recited together by the assembly.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Presentation of the logo for the beatification of the martyrs of La Rioja, "the joy of the whole people"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/01/2019 - 10:48
La Rioja - The Argentine diocese of La Rioja presented the logo and the theme of the beatification of Mgr. Enrique Angelelli, of the priests Carlos Murias ofm and Gabriel Longueville and of layman Wenceslao Pedernera, killed in hatred of faith in the summer 1976 . The rite of beatification will be celebrated in the diocese of which Mgr. Angelelli was Bishop, La Rioja, Saturday, April 27, on the feast of SantoToribio de Mogrovejo, patron of Latin American Bishops .
In the official image we see the faces of the four martyrs with a cross in the center. The photos are surrounded by the words "Martyrs of the Gospel" and, below, by palm leaves, which symbolize martyrdom. Below is the phrase "Easter Riojana, joy of the people" and the date, April 27, 2019.
"The life and martyrdom of these followers of Jesus are the 'joy of the whole people' - is written in the communication of the diocese sent to Agenzia Fides -. The Kingdom of God is for the people. In the Gospel, Jesus is close to the sick, the marginalized and the sinners. God loves the poor in a special way, they are chosen by God to call all of humanity to salvation. The Church, as a people of God, is called to be a community of brothers in favor of the most needy".
The text emphasizes that the Riojani martyrs completely dedicated themselves to "seeking the Kingdom of God and his justice, which they expressed in a preferential option for the poorest". Then he continues: "Their life was nourished by the power of the Gospel of Jesus in order to build the Kingdom already in this world. They took on the historical complexity of their time and encountered death on that road. Today their witness and their intercession encourage us to be 'People of God' who are walking in search of the Kingdom of God and his justice". In preparation for the beatification, the diocese proposes the continuous reading of one of the Gospels together with the constitution Lumen Gentium on the Church of the Second Vatican Council.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - 10 years after the anti-Christian violence in Orissa, victims await compensation

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/01/2019 - 13:14
Kandhamal - About 3,000 survivors of the anti-Christian massacres in Orissa in 2008 still claim legitimate compensation in proceedings underway in front of the Supreme Court: this is what the justice, peace, development Commission of the archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in Orissa, reports in a note sent to Agenzia Fides.
The meeting held on 12th January was attended by Mgr. John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, and lawyer Colin Gonsalves, Thomas Minze, President of the "All India Catholic Odisha" association and many lawyers, priests, activists and lay leaders. Those present reiterated their approach to peace, justice and human dignity, noting the urgency of compensation for those whose homes were completely damaged by that wave of violence.
The Archbishop said: "We are gathered to express our closeness to the victims of the violence in the Khandhmal district, we want to cooperate for peace and justice".
The activists present noted that "many perpetrators of anti-Christian violence are free, while innocent people are in prison", referring to the seven Christians still in prison for the alleged murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda, an incident that triggered violence.
The priest and activist Fr. Ajay Singh recalled, quoting Pope Paul VI, that "peace and justice walk together", inviting everyone to unity.
Lawyer Colin Gonsalves remarked that "the violence of 2007-2008 belongs to the past, but the same inhumane persecution should never happen again in the future". In two weeks time we will discuss the appeals presented to the Supreme Court for the compensation to the victims".
At a spiritual level everyone remembers that, despite the difficulties and injustices, "the faithful who have suffered violence are steadfast in faith in Christ".
According to information sent to Fides, there were about 5000 houses destroyed or damaged, 232 damaged churches and 414 villages affected in the violence. About 100 people were brutally killed in the 2008 anti-Christian persecution of Kandhamal and about 56,000 displaced persons. There are 827 officially registered court cases but only 362 trials have been completed and, among these, only 78 have been convicted, while 160 trials are still pending.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - WYD in Panama, an opportunity make the Amazon and the Amazonian face of young Brazilians known

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/01/2019 - 13:03
Manaus - Panama will host the World Youth Day from 22 to 27 January. One of the participants is Aylla Emanuele Silveira, a young 21-year-old woman who will represent the Magis House of Manaus and has been taking part in the activities for about two years. She is a student of architecture and urban planning at the Federal University of Amazonia, and is a collaborator in the socio-environmental area of the Jesuit organization, and carries out awareness activities, based on Laudato Si and on the Synod for Amazon, as she herself reports to Agenzia Fides.
Together with 30 other young Brazilians who are part of Magis Brazil, she will attend the Magis Houses meeting that will take place in Guatemala, in the days preceding WYD, explains Aylla Silveira to Fides. She already participated in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, in 2013, representing the Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manaus. "I was very young, but it was a very big impact, given the large number of young people and different expressions" says the young woman to Fides.
Her expectation for WYD 2019 is even greater "due to the cultural impact of getting to know different people, to live a greater experience", according to Aylla Silveira. The young woman brings her Amazonian identity to WYD, "in an attempt to show the Amazon region that lives in us, to make others discover it". What she hopes to report is "all that she will hear from young people coming from all over the world and from Pope Francis, who is an iconic and marvelous figure for me, who calls us to be a Church that goes forth, to be more for others, as St. Ignatius teaches us. "Besides this, she expects "to see the reality of others, of other cultures, to learn more about diversity and respect, something which, young Brazilians, need very much".
"The Amazon seems to be known - continues the young - but it is necessary to give greater visibility to everything that happens here, to show that it is necessary to talk about the Amazon, how it is threatened, and that for everyone it must be a heritage". According to Aylla Emanuele Silveira "we only deal with what we know, and many know the Amazon only as a beautiful tourist place, as the lung of the world, but without any involvement with reality, or with young people living here, indigenous, cabocla. Brazil is known for its carnival, feasts, for specific places, but it is important to take into consideration the Amazonian face of the different local youths".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Crisis in Togo and Gabon: the Bishops denounce violence and invite them to dialogue

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/01/2019 - 12:36
Rome - "The events that we are experiencing in our Country at a political and social level do not leave us indifferent. Violence against people, the wounded, prisoners and the dead that marked the period of political dialogue are deplorable and unacceptable", say the Bishops of Togo, in a declaration published at the end of the General Assembly of the diocesan clergy of Lomé.
With the new declaration, the Episcopal Conference of Togo renews its request to the majority and opposition to sit down at the negotiating table and to avoid any form of violence.
Since July 2017, Togo has been experiencing a profound political crisis following protests by the opposition against President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé Eyadéma in power since 2005. The demonstrators ask in particular to limit the mandates of the President to two and that this measure is retroactive so that Faure Gnassingbé does not run in the 2020 elections in order to try and get a fourth term.
Faure Gnassingbé came to power after the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who took power in 1967 following a coup.
A similar situation can be found in Gabon, led since 2009 by Ali Bongo, son of Omar Bongo, in power since 1967 until his death on 8 June 2009. His re-election in 2016 sparked protests. Following an illness in October, Bongo finds himself in convalescence in Morocco. On January 7 a group of soldiers attempted a coup, immediately foiled by the departments that remained loyal to the government.
In a statement of January 9, His Exc. Mgr. Basile Mve Engone, Archbishop of Libreville, condemned the attempt to change the regime by force. "Good politics is at the service of peace", he said. "This means that in Gabon, even more than in the past, we must try to preserve peace, unity and social cohesion. We therefore say no to any form of physical, verbal and emotional violence".

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/EL SALVADOR - The Archbishop of San Salvador: no to the privatization of water, unjust fiscal and pension system

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/01/2019 - 12:18
San Salvador - The Archbishop of San Salvador, Mgr. José Luis Escobar, invited Salvadorans to vote responsibly in the presidential elections on 3 February. "Very soon there will be elections, and we must remember that voting in a responsible way is a right and duty of every citizen" said Mgr. Escobar yesterday, Sunday, January 13, during the homily. The Mass for the 52nd World Day of Peace was celebrated this Sunday in the Metropolitan Cathedral, entitled: "Good politics is at the service of peace", which was presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr. Santo Rocco Gangemi and concelebrated by all Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Salvador, according to the news sent to Agenzia Fides.
On 3 February, just over five million Salvadorans will be called to vote to elect the President and Vice President who will govern El Salvador from 1 June 2019 to 31 May 2024. The Archbishop asked to choose "the people who can best answer the legitimate interests of the people".
According to surveys published by local agencies, the former mayor of San Salvador, Nayib Kukele, leads the group of candidates in the elections, overcoming the traditional parties that lost popularity due to former presidents accused of corruption.
Mgr. Escobar Alas also took the opportunity to call local officials to "work" for peace by ruling "with justice for the common good", and to avoid any attempt to privatize water, one of the most serious problems. "In a democratic society, water cannot be privatized for the benefit of the few and to the detriment of the poor, it is inconceivable, it is unthinkable" he emphasized strongly. Mgr. Escobar Alas also criticized the tax policies of El Salvador, where, according to him, the tax system "favors those who have more, allowing these people tax evasion, or even granting them exemption". "It is not right - he reiterated several times - to burden the poorest with more taxes, without mercy and without exception".
The Archbishop has also denounced the injustice of a pension system in which private companies are able to obtain "millions of profits" and individual taxpayers suffer "losses" and are "destined to end their lives in poverty".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - A missionary: "We do not know where Fr. Maccalli is, we live in a climate of insecurity"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/01/2019 - 12:01
Niamey - "Today we live in a climate of insecurity that reigns on the border area with Burkina Faso. Almost every week, there are armed attacks that mainly target the military and law enforcement agencies, and that have already caused dozens of deaths. I had the joy of celebrating the Epiphany in my mission in Makalondi, even if every time I go there I clearly perceive the precarious and insecure situation that one lives. Many people, Christians or non-Christians, come to visit us and always ask us if we have news of Fr. Gigi Maccalli but our answer, unfortunately, has always been the same for four months: we do not know where he is": this is what Father Vito Girotto, of the Society for African Missions says to Fides, talking about the situation in the missions in Makalondi and Bomoanga, the former parish of his confrere, Father Gigi Maccalli, kidnapped on 17 September 2018.
Girotto reports: "Christmas evening mass was celebrated in the early afternoon of December 24, both in Bomoanga and Makalondi. In the village of Bomoanga the streets are not illuminated at night. Many people took part but in the celebrations of December 25th, immediately after Mass, greetings and best wishes, everyone returned home".
The missionary continues: "In Bomoanga, in the church built by Fr. Luigi, there was not an empty seat. But everyone noticed the absence of the faithful of Christian communities from the farthest villages. Information regarding those areas is not very clear: it is said that they are 'controlled areas', but it is not clear which forces control them. People are afraid of being attacked by fanatical groups, who, according to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, see Christmas as a pagan event".
"After the abduction of Fr. Maccalli and the attacks in November on the city of Makalondi - informs Fr. Girotto - I move from one place to another always escorted by armed police officers. And I have to go and come back to Niamey by the end of the day. On the Saturday before the Epiphany, the fifty-year celebration of the Mission in Makalondi was scheduled, but the Pastoral Council decided to postpone this celebration, which will be said, only after the release of our confrere. A family cannot be part of the feast when an important member is prevented from participating".
Despite this, the team of five priests, diocesan and SMA, of various nationalities, 4 from African countries, together with an Indian confrere, continue to carry out pastoral activity and evangelization with great commitment and courage, guaranteeing the celebration of sacraments in the three parish offices and in some peripheral chapels. "Our presence is a small Christian presence in an almost totally Muslim country, in which faith is kept alive with enormous difficulties thanks to the commitment of our Christians, their perseverance and their courage", concludes the SMA missionary.

Categorie: From the church

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