ASIA/IRAQ - Iraqi Christian appointed at the top of the National Investment Authority

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 13:25
Baghdad - Chaldean Christian Suha Daoud Elias al Najjar is the new President of the Iraqi National Investment Authority, a government body also involved in the management of resources made available by foreign investors for the national economic revival and reconstruction of conflict-devastated areas. The appointment of Suha al Najjar is part of the recent change at the top of government, financial, administrative and military institutions implemented in recent days by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, a reshuffle which also saw the replacement of the Governor of the Iraqi Central Bank and the appointment of the new Mayor of Baghdad.
Suha al Najjar, who belongs to a Chaldean Christian family originally from Karamlesh, in the Nineveh Plain, had already been chosen by Premier al Kadhimi as economic affairs advisor, and is the only woman included in the list of new executives selected by the Chief of the Iraqi government. In June, as reported by Agenzia Fides , the same al Kadhimi had appointed Chaldean Christian Evan Faeq Yakoub Jabro, as head of the Ministry for the migration emergency and relocation of internally displaced persons. She teaches biology and distinguished herself in the past for paying attention to social emergencies concerning the younger generations, usually neglected by the blocks that dominate Iraqi politics..
The new appointments are presented by sources close to the government as a fulfillment of the executive's promises of reform and fight against corruption against protesters who have taken to the streets in Iraqi cities for over a year. The protests in the streets, marked by the violence of the security apparatuses and paramilitary groups against the demonstrators, led to the fall of the previous government led by Adel Abdul Mahdi, according to many observers linked to Iran.
The new appointments at the top of government, financial and military institutions wanted by Premier al Kadhimi was harshly criticized by Muqtada al Sadr, who at the head of the Sadrist movement was successful in the last Iraqi political elections . The Shiite leader, considered non-aligned with Iran, accused the government of continuing to assign offices following the logic of sectarian partition.
According to church sources, relaunched by the Iraqi website ankawa.com, Suha al Najjar met with Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako on Monday 14 September, before her appointment as President of the Iraqi National Investment Authority was made public.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - 'Your Word is a lamp for my feet': first edition of the Bible in Pazande has been delivered

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 12:37
Tombura-Yambio - It is an important milestone reached, the culmination of years of hard work, perseverance in missionary work: the first edition of the Bible in the local Pazande language was presented on 14 September 2020 at the diocese of Tombura-Yambio. This is a milestone for the diocese, which has existed for over a hundred years. As Fides has learned, the historic event was held on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the death of Mgr. Joseph Gasi Abangite, the first bishop to be incardinated in the diocese. The event was entitled, taking up the Gospel verse: "Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path". In his pastoral letter, Mgr. Eduardo Hiiboro, current bishop of the diocese, underlined the importance that this edition of Sacred Scripture covers over four million faithful who speak the Pazande language in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
"My desire, as Ordinary of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, is to celebrate, study, spread and live the Word of God so that it becomes the fulcrum of all aspects of life. We hope that the Bible will become a vital and lymph reference point for the life of every faithful, and for the church of Tombura-Yambio to celebrate, read, pray and share the Word of God". The Bishop concluded by inviting priests to consider this event as "a new call to be ministers of the Word". During the solemn Mass Mgr. Hiiboro, invited Christians to continue praying to defeat the coronavirus pandemic that is scourging the world and to abide by the guidelines outlined to curb the spread of the virus.
The ceremony was also attended by the governor of the western equatorial State, General Alfred Futuyo, who invited citizens to embrace peace and unity and to unite for the development of the State and the country in general.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - The Bishops in the face of the health and social crisis: "Our commitment is the well-being of Peru"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 12:16
Lima - "We are experiencing a difficult period due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has caused more than 30 thousand Peruvian deaths and over 700 thousand infected", the Bishops of Peru write in their statement, who in the face of the political and social crisis that the country is experiencing, "as Pastors and as citizens", express their considerations.
"This is not the time to create chaos and division, when the priority is to tackle the pandemic together and face the health, social, economic, educational and political crisis in solidarity, fighting corruption and preparing for the post-pandemic", the Bishops write, warning that "we are far from overcoming the health crisis: national production has drastically decreased and millions of jobs have been lost, especially damaging the most vulnerable people".
In this situation, seven months before the political elections, the Bishops exhort: "our fragile democracy must not be weakened, nor must its institutionality, therefore any act contrary to the law must be sanctioned and the authority in question must submit to due process". "Peruvians expect executive and legislative powers, in the interest of the common good, to overcome the confrontation and face the current crisis together, safeguarding the rule of law and seeking consensus for the transformation of Peru".
The Bishops recall that the Church, today as in the past, "continues to offer its support to the Peruvian people with aid in the fields of nutrition, global health, education, care for the environment and work, in promoting dialogue for peace, governance, development and spiritual formation" and invite everyone, especially young people, "to join and support the recent Pastoral Initiative 'Resucita Peru ahora', which intends to promote a new future for the Country".
The Bishops conclude their message, which bears the date of September 15, invoking the Lord of Miracles and the Blessed Virgin, so that "they enlighten our authorities and our beloved Peruvian people, in order to work with hope for the rebirth of a great Peru, on the road to the Bicentennial of National Independence".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Towards World Mission Day: a thousand faces for mission

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 12:10
Sydney - - A thousand faces for mission: with this spirit, which expresses the universality of the Church's mission and the call of all the baptized to be "sent" to proclaim and witness the Gospel, "Catholic Mission", National Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia, wanted to connect faces and missionary experiences present in over 25 countries around the world, that speak a variety of languages and cultures, in a video that uses the claim #WeAreStillHere".
Produced by "Catholic Mission", and shared with the Pontifical Mission Societies around the world, the video is inspired by the words of Pope Francis and is part of the global awareness campaign, launched as part of the month of October, the "Missionary Month", and in view of World Mission Sunday, October 18.
Missionary October is a time when Catholics from all over the world come together to support and celebrate the missionary work of the Church. In this sense "Catholic Mission, together with the international network of the Pontifical Mission Societies, is alongside some of the most vulnerable people in the world", explains the National Director of "Catholic Mission", Fr Brian Lucas in a note sent to Fides.
"This year our Mission Month campaign is focused on Cambodia, especially supporting people with disabilities and their families", he reports. But this "is just one of the many examples of the missionary work supported by Catholic Mission. Thanks to the generosity of all donors, this support can change the lives of many people, among the poorest", specifies Fr. Lucas.
The mobilization campaign, always intended to emphasize the evangelizing mission of the Church, makes use, among others, of the contribution of Bishop Enrique Figaredo Alvar Gonzalez SJ, at the head of the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang, in the North-West of Cambodia, where for over 20 years they have accompanied and provided learning and growth opportunities for people with disabilities.
Another missionary experience involved is that of Eden Gardens Children’s Home in Nagaland, a state in northeastern India. Sixteen children are welcomed here who have no family or a safe place to return to during the crisis. "For those children who have nowhere to go, Eden Gardens stays open all day, every day. Our mission is to help children, whoever is here, under any circumstances. We are here, with solidarity and compassion, doing our best to keep the reception center alive", said Fr Rajesh Lobo, Director of the house.
Bishop Figuaredo and Fr. Rajesh Lobo are among "the thousand faces of the mission" who contribute to spreading "a local message with a global impact". "We are still here": four simple words to comfort the lives of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, facing the devastating impact of the global crisis caused by Covid-19.
With the hashtag #WeAreStillHere, the Pontifical Mission Societies promote the message of proximity and fundraising which - also thanks to social media - is rapidly becoming the international appeal used by Catholic missionaries around the world. Father Brian Lucas says: "In times of difficulty, it is important to remain united. Covid-19 is having a significant impact on many small realities and evangelical works in many poor countries: it is essential today to continue to support missionary work for the most vulnerable".
The Director of the Australian PMS concludes: "Only four words - We are still here - constitute a simple message of great impact: we want to say that the most needy are still offered the best material, spiritual and pastoral support possible, during the current global emergency. Missionaries from all over the world continue to dedicate their entire lives to their communities, living and bearing witness to the Gospel and the love of Christ at the service of others".

Link correlati :Watch the video "We Are Still Here" on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - "Young missionary disciples, builders of the civilization of Love": encounter of the Andean region

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 11:33
Quito - The Youth Pastoral sector of the Episcopal Commission for the Laity of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador, has organized the XVI Youth Pastoral Meeting of the Andean Region, which will take place in a virtual form from 18 to 20 September 2020. As the note sent to Fides explains, the objective of this meeting is to give impetus to the youth pastoral processes of the Andean region, having as reference the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit of Pope Francis, to strengthen the protagonism of young people in their reality through listening, because all young people are a "Sacred Land, Missionary Disciples, builders of the Civilization of Love".
During the three days of the Encounter we will reflect on the reality of young people after the pandemic; some themes of formation, taken from the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, will be presented to young people and animators in order to carry out a missionary, prophetic and synodal pastoral; the Andean identity will also be strengthened through the analysis of the different youth situations.
The virtual meeting will begin on the evening of Friday 18, with the presentation of the participants and the methodology, then the history of the regional meetings will be recalled and the theme "Discernment and accompaniment " will be presented. Questions and the conclusion will follow. On the morning of Saturday 19, the presentation of the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit is scheduled to be followed by group work. The afternoon will focus on the Synod for the Amazon. Sunday 20 the information from the region, Mass and the conclusion.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Religious women in southern India feed two thousand people a day, affected by the economic crisis due to Covid-19

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 16/09/2020 - 11:24
Bangalore - An inter-congregational group of nuns in Bangalore, in the state of Karnataka, in southern India, has launched a food security program, managing to provide for the daily sustenance of 2000 poor people, affected by the severe economic crisis that is shaking the country, due to the Covid-19 pandemic
"We distribute food packs to more than 2000 poor people every day with the help of other organizations and donors", says to Fides Sister Boyapati Jayasree, of the "Daughters of Wisdom" congregation and coordinator of the NGO "Dream India Network" , through which the assistance project is carried out. DIN is in fact an NGO founded in 2012 in Bangalore by a group of Catholic lay people and religious led by Salesian Fr. Edward Thomas.
Sister Jayasree has been working with DIN since 2016 and today there are 11 sisters from eight different congregations involved in the food security program.
"The initiative was born seeing poor people suffering from hunger due to the coronavirus pandemic and in need of support", Sister Jayasree told Fides. The NGO has mobilized to provide food and medicine to particularly needy people. DIN, which already had 54 foster homes housing 432 vulnerable children, has activated collaboration with other religious congregations in Bangalore. And therefore, thanks to the initiative of Sr. Jayasree, DIN has provided shelters to 4000 migrant workers, of different cultures, ethnicities and religions, during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19. Migrants are provided free accommodation, food and health care, thanks to the presence of 16 doctors and 45 psychologists who provide free online counseling
"The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone. The poor suffer more and we must help them, to preserve their dignity and their life: it is the charity of Christ that drives us", she said. A good sign, she points out, is the fact that every day the number of Catholic and non-Catholic volunteers who are involved in the project and offer assistance for free is growing.
The people assisted are mainly those who live in rural areas and are totally dependent on their daily earnings, often obtained by moving to nearby cities. The generalized closure imposed with the lockdown and the consequent crisis has caused a terrible shock among the families of the poorest villages, who have found themselves in great difficulty and with a lack of livelihood and suffer from hunger. For the most part they are agricultural laborers, workers not linked to any company, people with disabilities.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - A call to social friendship from the Archbishop of Bogotà: "We cannot remain indifferent"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 13:26
Bogota - "Friendship is a strong motivation to work, true friendship helps us to overcome frustrations, friendship gives us wisdom. Today in Bogota and Colombia, in the neighborhoods and on the streets, we still have the possibility of creating social relationships based on friendship". The appeal, released yesterday, September 14, comes from the Archbishop of Bogota, Mgr. Luis José Rueda Aparicio, who outlines seven aspects of social friendship.
1. Social friendship and truth: "truth is the basis of friendship, we can think differently, but we are friends if we are sincere… truth is distributed in everyone's conscience, in small portions that need and complement each other. Truth frees us from slavery such as defamation, lies, hypocrisy".
2. Social friendship and dialogue: "dialogue gives rise to social friendship. When alleged enemies dare to dialogue, they find points of confluence they were not aware of. Social media and networks should help us build social friendship. Dialogue frees us from authoritarianism and from the search for solutions to conflicts with armed means".
3. Social friendship and forgiveness: friendship grows when we accept that we are imperfect and learn to ask for forgiveness… Forgiveness avoids the destruction of those who make mistakes, on the contrary, it welcomes them, corrects them, raises them and renews them. Forgiveness frees us from revenge, anger and resentment".
4. Social friendship and humility: "whoever becomes the servant of other people gives the best he has, seeking the common good. We need humble leaders, those who want to be true leaders, willingly put themselves at the service of all. The attitude of service makes us humble and humility frees us from arrogance, pride and vanity".
5. Social friendship and trust: "Recovering trust between people allows us to move forward to recover trust in society and institutions. This requires humanizing the institutions, so that they put themselves decisively at the service of people. Trust frees us from feeling persecuted by each other, from feeling unprotected or subjugated by institutions".
6. Social friendship and austerity: "austerity nourishes an attitude of gratitude in us, it also teaches us to see the world as a common home, it motivates us to be in solidarity in the use of what we have and in the correct use of the goods we have which are at the service of all".
7. Social friendship and spirituality: "Spirituality encourages an encounter with oneself, with others and with love, that is, with God. Without spirituality, social friendship does not have a solid foundation, because spirituality gives social friendship the quality and transcendent character of human dignity".
The Archbishop of Bogota concludes by recalling that all Colombians are called to fight to overcome social enmity: "we cannot be indifferent, let us seek together the deep structural causes of our social conflicts, and let us contribute to finding solutions without violence, without murder, without hate. Life, reconciliation and peace today require our contribution, with real working attitudes for social friendship".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - Grand Imam of al Azhar: Islam and Christianity have never been at the root of wars

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 13:17
Cairo - "We believe with certainty that Islam and Christianity have never been the origin of wars and conflicts, but rather religious faiths represent the opposite of conflicts and wars in which they are involved and exploited". This is what Egyptian Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of al Azhar said, on receiving Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, on an official visit in Cairo, on Monday 14 September.
In the conversation he had with the representative of the Armenian government - the Egyptian media reports - the Great Imam also repeated that the inspiring criteria of the teaching imparted recognize all human beings as "brothers in humanity", which also the teaching of the Prophet Mohammad "confirms the brotherhood of human beings", and that the important Sunni academic institution is committed to correctly defining and exposing the doctrine and message of Islam, also to counteract all manipulations that use contents of the Islamic faith to build ideologies of oppression.
While Pope Francis is preparing to publish the Encyclical "All Brothers" on fraternity and social friendship, with reflections also inspired during the time of pandemic emergency experienced by all humanity, Armenian Minister Mnatsakanyan, in his conversation with al Tayyeb, also wanted to recall the Document on Human Fraternity for world peace and common coexistence, signed on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and by the Grand Imam of al Azhar himself.
In their meeting, Sheikh al Tayyeb and Armenian foreign minister also hinted at the possibility of enhancing collaboration and cultural exchanges between Armenian academic institutions and the most authoritative theological-cultural center of Sunni Islam.
The official trip to Cairo by the representative of the Armenian government - who also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II - is part of a historical situation marked by growing signs of conflict between Egypt and Turkey also on Middle Eastern scenarios. In his meetings with Egyptian political and religious authorities, Minister Mnatsakanyan recalled the "generosity and hospitality" with which in the past members of the Armenian people were welcomed in Egypt in past historical times, giving life to a local community of Armenians who have become "Egyptian citizens with a high sense of homeland".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Meeting between two Bishops and President Kiir: "Let's work together for peace"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 12:59
Juba - "A very productive and successful meeting". This is how His Exc. Mgr. Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio, defined the meeting together with His Exc. Mgr. Stephen Amenyu, Archbishop of Juba, with the President of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit .
"We met the Head of State to assure him of our closeness as leader of the Church and as representatives of the Bishops' Conference, we went on behalf of the people of South Sudan to assure him our willingness to collaborate with him and to work with him and with the government for the peace and growth of our people in the Republic of South Sudan", said Mgr. Hiiboro.
The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio added that the two representatives of the Church congratulated the President for the implementation of the peace agreement reached on 31 August between the Sudanese government and a series of rebel groups , for the formation of the national unity government, and for the decision to reduce the 32 States of the Federation to 10, which was the original number at the time of independence.
Mgr. Hiiboro encouraged the President and his collaborators and the opposition to continue to implement the peace agreement. "We told him that he is on the right path and that he should continue to work hard with his colleagues in order to consolidate peace in the Country", said Mgr. Hiiboro. "We underlined the fact that although it is complex and difficult to implement the peace agreement, we must not give in to the temptation to return to war, but we must work tirelessly to restore peace in the Republic of South Sudan". "The President has also assured that he will never bring the Republic of South Sudan back to war", reports Mgr. Hiiboro.
The two Bishops also informed the Head of State on the feelings of the people, on the desire for peace widespread among the population, on their sufferings and on everything that happens in the Country due to war, and they assured the Church's readiness to continue to collaborate with the government and other partners for peace.
Mgr. Hiiboro reported that the President said he was happy to meet the two representatives of the Catholic Church, and "appreciated everything we talked about". As for the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of places of worship, the President authorized the reopening of churches in compliance with precautionary measures.
"The President said that the government cannot do without the Church. We need it just as we did during the struggle for liberation, when the Church was there to unite", concluded Mgr. Hiiboro.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - A new Emergency Department at the Catholic hospital in Hyderabad

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 12:52
Hyderabad - A new Emergency Department, equipped with cutting-edge technologies, has been inaugurated at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Hyderabad, a Catholic health facility managed by the diocese, with 150 beds, founded in Pakistan in 1958. This is what Fr. Robert McCulloch, missionary of St Columban , for over 30 years president of the board of directors of the hospital, now General Procurator of the Missionary Society of St Columban reports to Agenzia Fides. The missionary says to Fides: "I am very happy for the conclusion of this new ward which will offer emergency care to all those who need it. The new work was made possible thanks to the collaboration of all, public bodies, donors, missionaries, doctors. We thank the institutions for their help: this work will be in favor of the population of all cultures and religions, without any discrimination". "Our hospital - continues Fr. Mc Culloch - intends to better care, with passion, compassion and competence, offering appropriate care even to the poorest. And, through this work, it wants to give glory to God, announce and witness the Gospel of love and mercy in Pakistan".
The Bishop of Hyderabad, Mgr. Samson Shukardin OFM, was present at the inauguration ceremony of the new ward, held on 12 September, who recalled how, thanks to the work of the hospital, "the Pakistani Catholic Church testifies to being an integral part of society, helping to heal their wounds, and contributes to improving relations of peace, dialogue and harmony, working for the common good of the country". The ward, it is noted, may also be useful in the fight against the coronavirus.
The hospital is an institution of excellence and is a reference point for the people of Hyderabad and the poorest areas of the Sindh province. Over 40 thousand people, of all cultures, ethnicities and religions, inhabitants of the villages of the province regularly use health services, often offered for free.
It is not only a hospital, but also a facility that constantly works for the training of nurses and midwives. Founded in 1958, non-profit, it is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Hyderabad and is managed by the Medical Council of the Diocese. Since 1975 it has welcomed specialized Pakistani personnel such as doctors, nurses, midwives.
Among the other services offered, the hospital is known because, in the Christian perspective of compassion, it offers home palliative care to cancer patients, with pain control therapy: this is an absolute first experience at a national level and confirms the hospital as a valuable institution for the territory of the city of Sindh province and for all of Pakistan.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - A new Emergency Room at the Catholic hospital in Hyderabad

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 12:52
Hyderabad - A new Emergency Room ward, equipped with cutting-edge technologies, has been inaugurated at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Hyderabad, a Catholic health facility managed by the diocese, with 150 beds, founded in Pakistan in 1958. This is what Fr. Robert McCulloch, missionary of San Colombano, for over 30 years president of the board of directors of the hospital, now Attorney General of the Society of San Colombano reports to Agenzia Fides. The missionary says to Fides: "I am very happy for the conclusion of this new ward which will offer emergency care to all those who need it. The new work was made possible thanks to the collaboration of all, public bodies, donors, missionaries, doctors. We thank the institutions for their help: this work will be in favor of the population of all cultures and religions, without any discrimination". "Our hospital - continues Fr. Mc Culloch - intends to better care, with passion, compassion and competence, offering appropriate care even to the poorest. And, through this work, it wants to give glory to God, announce and witness the Gospel of love and mercy in Pakistan".
The Bishop of Hyderabad, Mgr. Samson Shukardin OFM, was present at the inauguration ceremony of the new ward, held on 12 September, who recalled how, thanks to the work of the hospital, "the Pakistani Catholic Church testifies to being an integral part of society, helping to heal their wounds, and contributes to improving relations of peace, dialogue and harmony, working for the common good of the country". The ward, it is noted, may also be useful in the fight against the coronavirus.
The hospital is an institution of excellence and is a reference point for the people of Hyderabad and the poorest areas of the Sindh province. Over 40 thousand people, of all cultures, ethnicities and religions, inhabitants of the villages of the province regularly use health services, often offered for free.
It is not only a hospital, but also a facility that constantly works for the training of nurses and midwives. Founded in 1958, non-profit, it is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Hyderabad and is managed by the Medical Council of the Diocese. Since 1975 it has welcomed specialized Pakistani personnel such as doctors, nurses, midwives.
Among the other services offered, the hospital is known because, in the Christian perspective of compassion, it offers home palliative care to cancer patients, with pain control therapy: this is an absolute first experience at a national level and confirms the hospital as a valuable institution for the territory of the city of Sindh province and for all of Pakistan.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - A priest entirely dedicated to the marginalized has been killed

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 12:10
Como - "This morning Don Roberto Malgesini was murdered in Como by a homeless man with mental problems": this was announced by the diocese of Como, where the priest, 51 years old, originally from Valtellina, was killed in the city center, not far from San Rocco Parish, where he was a collaborator. According to information gathered by Fides, the attack took place shortly after 7 am, the priest was hit in the back with a knife, which was then found, and the murderer turned himself in. Don Roberto was known for being "the priest of the marginalized", he dedicated himself in particular to assisting the homeless and migrants. This evening at 8.30 pm in the Cathedral in Como, Bishop Mgr. Oscar Cantoni will lead the Holy Rosary. "In the face of the tragedy, the Church of Como prays for its priest Don Roberto and for he who killed him", concludes the diocese’s statement.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Two years after the kidnapping of Fr. Gigi Maccalli: "There is always, somewhere, someone who betrays friends"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 12:00
Niamey - "It was night when they took you away and since then two years of darkness have passed, only interrupted by a short video message on 24 March, the first and for now the only sign of life. There have been testimonies, stories, hypotheses, inquiries and perhaps negotiations, we know little about all this". Thus writes to Agenzia Fides Father Mauro Armanino, priest of the Society for African Missions, Fr. Gigi Maccalli’s confrere, kidnapped in Bomoanga on 17 September 2018.
The missionary addresses a particular thought to his confrere/friend recalling one of the many shared events. "Dear Gigi, when we had a car accident in Padua, we stayed in the same hospital for a few days. You sent me a handwritten note apologizing for what happened. Who knows why this detail came back to my mind, on the second anniversary of your kidnapping by strangers, on the night of September 17. It may be because of that surgical miracle that rebuilt the injured parts of your body, and the forced immobility that had strangely prepared you for your current imprisonment", said Fr. Armanino.
The missionary recalls another episode in his thoughts in which he says: "Hundreds of pilgrims were returning from Mecca at the same time and priority was given to them when leaving Diori Hamani airport in Niamey. While waiting for your plane, I thought of my first arrival in the country, in April 2011, where you welcomed me and accompanied me to the house where I have lived ever since. Your room was number two. There you left your things in the metal closet for fortnightly visits, intended for the purchase of what is necessary to live with dignity in Bomoanga, more than 130 kilometers from Niamey, in the semi-desert area. You always brought news from the depths, from the poor farmers and of the small and fragile hopes that you tried to share with us through projects of careful integral humanism. You slept in that room for the last night before leaving for your area and, together with some friends, we had dinner in Niamey's Italian restaurant, the well-known 'Pilier'. The ambassador had offered us what, commenting with him and others, would have been our last dinner before the drama. Everyone was present at that dinner. The poor, the children you took care of, the little girl who died at the 'Bambin Gesù' hospital in Rome in a desperate attempt to save her, animators, families, the young people you helped, together with others, to continue their studies or professional training. Perhaps there was also a Judas among them. There is always someone somewhere who betrays friends, who probably informed, consciously or not, the kidnappers about your return and your evening habits. It was night and those who later kidnapped you knew that you did not immediately close your bedroom door. People came to look for medicines for emergencies which, in a remote village and without social services, are always lacking. They knew that there was a light and a door that opened with the smile of hope now at hand".
Father Armanino continues to pray for his confrere recalling "the last night in Bomoanga, which is not even found in the most sophisticated Google maps, the last or almost the last of small villages with no future other than what he and the Christian community were trying to offer. A middle school, a possible boarding school and above all the need to offer reasons to stay in place with dignity".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/URUGUAY - Month of September: "the Word of God at the center of our evangelization"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 10:45
Asuncion - With the motto "The Word of God ... which is now at work in you who believe" , the Church in Uruguay, like many other nations of Latin America, celebrates the Month of the Word of God in September. The National Commission for Biblical Animation of Pastoral Care has prepared several brochures including four schemes of Lectio Divina on the Gospel regarding every Sunday of this month.
The Bishops, following Pope Francis’s announcement of the "Sunday of the Word of God", invite us to celebrate it on the last Sunday of September, in close proximity to the feast of St. Jerome. For this reason, every community is invited to prepare itself taking into account its reality and spirituality, expressing with simple signs the centrality of the Word of God in our life.
In a letter which invites us to celebrate this month of God's Word, CNABP Executive Secretary, Deacon Marcelo Correa, explains that the month's name change that was previously "of the Bible" and now "of the Word of God", "is not just a terminological change, it means much more for us, it represents the process of consolidating the Word of God at the center of our evangelization, of our pastoral and spiritual life; a process on which we have been working for many years in a humble and constant way".
Deacon Correa also emphasizes that "we are not a people who follow a book, but rather a Person revealed in the Word , who accompanies us and encourages us, to live with joy the call to be missionary disciples and announce his proposal to our society and to the world".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Cathedral in Manila reopens, cemeteries close to commemorate the dead

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 15/09/2020 - 10:27
Manila - The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Manila, in the heart of the area of Intramuros, reopens to the public and to worship on Wednesday 16 September after six months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. As reported by the communications office of the Archdiocese, the reopening of the basilica is part of the easing of restrictions for religious gatherings in Metro Manila announced by government authorities. Currently, churches that fall into areas under "community quarantine" can only admit up to 10% of their usual capacity. In the Cathedral - which normally can accommodate up to 800 faithful - 80 people will be admitted for the celebrations, confirmed Fr. Kali Pietre Llamado, vice rector of the Cathedral. During Sunday mass, the faithful can also stop in the square in front of the church, where the Eucharist will be distributed. Masses will still be broadcast in live streaming through the cathedral's Facebook page and YouTube channel.
On the other hand, the Philippine government has issued a directive prohibiting visits to cemeteries during the Christian feast of All Saints and on the day of the commemoration of the dead, 1 and 2 November. The measure, adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, was announced by the undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, Maria Rosario Vergeire, who motivated it "for the common good and for health reasons".
"We know that during All Saints' Day, the cemeteries are really crowded with people. It is our task to avoid mass gatherings", Vergeire said. The mayors of the cities that make up the metropolitan region of Manila have announced this in advance so that residents have the opportunity to visit the graves of their loved ones in other moments, and not all together on the same day.
Manila was among the first to order the closure of cemeteries from October 31st to November 1st. Members of the Metro Manila Council, made up of 17 mayors from the metropolitan city region, unanimously agreed to close all private and public cemeteries in their respective areas to prevent gatherings and not to increase the risk of virus transmission. All cemeteries will be closed for a week, but cremations, burials or other funeral services will be allowed. Traditionally, more than 2,000 men are employed throughout the metropolis for the safety of thousands of people who go to pay homage to their loved ones in the first days of November.
Speaking to Fides, Margaret Mararac, a Catholic woman from Manila, agreed on the necessary caution: "The government only wants to prevent gatherings. We can always pray at home and visit the cemetery on other dates".
It should be noted that, given the enormous poverty in the degraded suburbs of the metropolitan city and the chronic shortage of housing and housing areas, cemeteries sometimes also become places where entire families of occupants settle. The "Cemeterio Del Norte" - an ancient cemetery opened in 1904 - in Metro Manila is permanently inhabited by an entire community of homeless, unemployed, destitute, people wanted by the police, prostitutes and laborers who rank among the poorest in the nation.
The city of Cebu, in the central Philippines, has also ordered the closure of cemeteries.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - A life for the mission: Fr. Richard Timm, "great soul" for 66 years at the service of Bangladesh

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/09/2020 - 19:27
Dhaka - His life as a Catholic missionary in Bangladesh is considered legendary: Father Richard William Timm , American Catholic priest and religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross , was an educator and scientist who dedicated his whole life to the proclamation and witness of the Gospel in Bangladesh. The missionary died on 11 September, in the house of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Indiana, in the United States, where he had returned due to health complications. He passed away at the age of 97, 66 of which spent on a mission in Bengal.
The fathers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Bangladesh expressed their condolences for the death of Fr. Timm. "We are deeply saddened by his death. He was a pillar of the mission", said brother Ujjal Placid Pereira, CSC, to Fides. Father Swapon Das, CSC tells Fides: "Fr. Timm was a pioneer and faced many challenges: we will always remember him for his courageous and prophetic contribution".
Fr Hemanto Rozario, CSC, Dean of Notre Dame College in Dhaka recalled: "Fr. Timm was at the helm of Notre Dame College and, for his extraordinary educational contribution, a six-story building of the College was named after him in 2015. Fr. Timm lived in Bangladesh for more than 66 years and set an outstanding example of love and service in the field of education and social justice. He was known as a scientist, teacher, intellectual, social worker, speaker, writer and most of all as a man with a great soul. Fr. Timm touched the lives of many students and the people of Bangladesh. He will be remembered for many years to come".
Many lay leaders remember him with affection and esteem. Apurbo Mrong, director of Caritas in Mymensingh says: "We have lost a great man. He was an educator, zoologist, scientist and active participant in the social development work for Bangladesh. He dreamed of and contributed to the realization of Caritas Bangladesh". Another Catholic Leo Costa tells Fides: "The whole nation, not just the Catholic community, remembers and appreciates his contribution of a whole life given to the country".
Fr. Timm was born on March 2, 1923 in Michigan City, in the state of Indiana, USA. He was one of the founders and the sixth dean of Notre Dame College in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As a biologist, he h conducted research and led numerous scientific expeditions to South Asia. In addition, as a human rights activist, he was the coordinator of the Human Rights Council in Bangladesh and the South Asia Human Rights Forum . He told and expressed his vision on the Bangladesh Liberation War through his writings. He was the founder and executive director of Caritas Bangladesh and director of the "Justice and Peace" Commission, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference. He is considered one of the main animators of the local Church and also of Bangladeshi civil society. He received honors and awards for his commitment to the common good from three different Bangladeshi governments.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Christian refugees from the Nineveh Plain celebrate the feast of the Holy Cross

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/09/2020 - 19:10
Teleskof - The persistent difficulties following the jihadist invasion of 2014 and the new problems linked to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic have not prevented Christians of the Nineveh Plain from celebrating the Feast of the Holy Cross, a liturgical solemnity particularly dear to the popular devotion of the Christian communities of that region. On the evening of Sunday 13 September, Christians from Teleskof , 19 miles north of Mosul, gathered at the Chaldean church of Mar Gewargis , to take part in mass and then in the procession with candles and torches that wound through the streets of the city up to the so-called "Bishop's Hill".
Dozens of Christian families from Talkaif, Batnaya, Baqofah and even Mosul also took part in the celebration, who during the years of the jihadist invasion had found refuge in Teleskof, and have not yet returned to their homes. After the cases of contagion from Covid 19 also registered in the cities and villages of the Nineveh Plain, preventive measures were put in place to ensure that the celebration of the Holy Cross could take place in complete safety from a health point of view: before entering the church, body temperature was measured and the use of a mask and hand sanitation was prescribed. At the end of the procession, in front of "Bishop's Hill", torches placed to illuminate the top of the hill were lit.
In recent years, liturgies, processions and moments of popular devotion in honor of the Holy Cross have represented a concrete manifestation of the resumption of community life, after the years in which most of the cities and villages of the Nineveh Plain, once inhabited mainly by Chaldean, Syrian and Assyrian Christians, had emptied due to the occupation of the militiamen of the Islamic State .
In 2015, as reported by Agenzia Fides , in the city of Al Qosh, the procession for the solemnity of the Holy Cross was experienced as a sign of hope for all Christians of the Nineveh Plain. "With this procession, and with clearly visible external signs that accompanied it" said to Agenzia Fides Iraqi Syrian Catholic priest Nizar Seeman, "the Christians of al Qosh also sent a moving signal, that challenges us all. They wanted to say, we are still here, even if no one protects us, because we have faith that we are protected the Lord Jesus, with Mary his Mother".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - Red Clamor calls on Europe for a humanitarian corridor after the fire at Moria camp

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/09/2020 - 18:54
Bogota - Red Clamor, the organization that brings together men and women committed to accompanying, defending, promoting and including displaced persons, migrants and refugees who are in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, has asked the authorities of European Union and Greek Prime Minister, for the opening of humanitarian corridors in Europe after the fire at Moria camp .
In the statement, sent to Fides, the organization expresses indignation, concern and solidarity for the serious events that occurred at the camp located on the island of Lesbos, in Greece, which hosts more than 13,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cameroon, Congo , Iran, Eritrea and Iraq. It also denunces:
"The inhumane conditions in which these brothers and sisters, forced to flee, like Jesus Christ, found themselves and will continue to find themselves, until there is a safe humanitarian corridor in the European Union".
Red Clamor therefore calls for the opening of humanitarian corridors in the European Union, provided for by its legislation; identify a safe place where access to refugees and respect for their human rights are guaranteed; prevent the temptation to speed up the return processes of refugees, which do not resolve the situation; adopt the necessary health measures to protect against Covid-19; protect refugees from xenophobic aggression of the local population. "A change in migration and asylum policy is urgent - they reiterate - so that it has an authentic human face".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA - Asia is the continent most exposed to climate change and risks

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/09/2020 - 18:49
Hong Kong - The Earth's climate is changing after more than 10,000 years of relative stability, and Asia is the continent most exposed to sudden changes that are fraught with consequences for human communities. In the absence of adaptation and mitigation, the climate risks that the continent will have to face in the future, from heat waves to floods, are likely to be more severe and more intense because the impact of climate change in Asia will be stronger than in many other parts of the world. This is stated by the data contained in a report on the future of Asia, entitled "Climate risk and response in Asia", which the McKinsey Global Institute, an international economic research institute, is preparing to publish by the end of the year. The report - released in a concise version and sent to Agenzia Fides - echoes the alarms of the scientific community and recalls the warning contained in Laudato Sì, the encyclical that promotes "a new culture and a new global governance", recalling that the deterioration of the environment goes hand in hand with that of society and affects the weakest on the planet in a special way.
The analysis of the Report examines several aspects: the average temperature in Asia is expected to increase by more than two degrees by 2050 compared to pre-industrial levels with significant increases in some parts of China, Australia and the Indian subcontinent. These effects, which will begin to be felt in the next decade, will be characterized by "lethal heat waves", events lasting a few days during which the maximum average daily temperature will exceed the survival threshold for a "healthy human being resting in the shade". Large cities in parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan could be among the first places in the world to experience heat waves that cross this threshold. And as the earth gets warmer, the share of droughts will increase - in southwestern Australia, for example, or parts of China.
On the contrary, it is claimed, "extreme rainfall" will also increase, which could increase three or four times by 2050 in some areas including eastern Japan, central and eastern China, parts of South Korea and Indonesia.
Important changes will affect the freshwater water supply, which will be affected by factors such as rainfall patterns and evaporation. In several parts of Australia it could decline significantly by 2050 while, conversely, in parts of the Indian subcontinent and China, the water supply could increase by 20%. Typhoons remain lurking: according to experts it will increase their average power, thus increasing the frequency of serious events, which could triple by 2040 in some parts of Asia, including the coastal areas of China, South Korea and Japan.
Faced with these scenarios, Christian communities in Asia live the "Season of Creation", until 4 October, meditating and putting into practice the indications of Laudato Sì, renewing their social commitment and care for the "common home".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ERITREA - The Italian School of Asmara, a precious educational center, closes

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 14/09/2020 - 18:41
Asmara - The Italian school of Asmara has closed its doors. Born in 1903, it survived the period of colonialism, the British protectorate, the period of the Negus, that of the communist dictatorship and civil war. For decades it was a point of reference first for Italian children and then for Eritrean children or for the children of mixed Italian-Eritrean couples. One cannot imagine Asmara without the Italian school" - says Joseph Zeracristos, an Eritrean Vincentian religious to Agenzia Fides. "It is an important cultural center for the whole country, a fundamental point in the national school system. Although recently, considering the impoverishment of the Country and the high cost of attendance, it had become a school for the children of Eritrean elites".
What led to the closure, a few days before classes began in Italy? In 2012, Italy and Eritrea signed an agreement for the joint management of the institute . This agreement provided for the creation of a mixed technical commission. But, if Asmara immediately appointed its members, Rome did not. This first failure greatly annoyed the Asmara regime. Furthermore, in past years, under the last three governments, Italy has approved a series of measures that have, in fact, emptied the institution of Italian personnel, creating shortages regarding the staff.
The straw that broke the camel's back was the coronavirus epidemic. During the emergency, the Italian headmaster decided to start "distance learning" in March without notifying the government in Asmara. This was enough to irritate the Eritrean executive that decided to permanently close the school, revoking the license and withdrawing from the bilateral technical agreement of 2012.
Rosy, a former student observes: "This is a decision that saddens me. We studied in Italian but, at the same time, we took lessons in Amharic and Tigrinya . We were taught to look at reality with an intercultural perspective. Closing the Italian school in Asmara is therefore like turning a blind eye to the world. This choice impoverishes everyone: the Italians, who lose an important presence in the Horn of Africa, and the Eritreans, who in those classrooms learned to think with different eyes".
All school levels were present in the institute: nursery, elementary, middle, high school . The diplomas issued in Asmara were recognized by the Italian and Eritrean ministry of education. The boys and girls could then enroll in Italian universities without having to take entrance or language exams. "Surveyors and accountants - Rosy continues - were highly sought after because they were recognized as having a particularly serious and thorough preparation. Their professionalism has helped Eritrea to grow".
The closure interrupts a historical link between Eritrea and Italy, which has its roots in the era of colonialism but which continued thereafter. "It is sad to know that the Italian school has been closed - observes abba Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean priest from the eparchy of Asmara. For decades it represented a point of union between two cultures which, as a result of history , met. Severing this bond means cutting an umbilical cord that united Italy and Eritrea".
According to abba Mussie, a precious tool will also be lost for the training of new generations. "This school - concludes the priest - could have become a privileged channel for training those boys and girls who will be the citizens of the future. We hope that Rome and Asmara find an agreement so that the school can reopen".
Categorie: From the church

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