ASIA/PAKISTAN - Urdu news: the new information service on Radio Veritas to be launched, to build peace and unity

Fides EN - - Mer, 29/07/2020 - 11:12
Lahore - "The new information service is another milestone for the Urdu-language service of the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Social Communications and for the apostolate of Radio Veritas Asia in Pakistan, which is already broadcasting in Urdu. I congratulate the RVA staff in Pakistan, and I hope that our listeners will appreciate this service which will give news on the events that affect the Catholic Church and Christian communities across the country": this is what Archbishop Joseph Arshad, chairman of the National Commission for Social Communications, in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan told Agenzia Fides Fides. Archbishop Arshad blessed the newsroom at Rabita Manzil, the National Catholic Social Communication Center in Lahore, officially announcing the launch of Urdu news service on Saturday 26 July 2020. The staff will create and broadcast a newsletter that will deal with the life of the Church, society, culture, human rights.
The Archbishop also said: "After moving RVA services online, we have achieved many positive results and launched several programs. This Urdu News Service is an initiative that continues in this direction. We hope that the public will appreciate this news service and will share our message of hope and peace".
Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFM Cap, Executive Secretary of the Commission for Social Communications and Director of RVA Urdu Service, speaking with Fides, said: "The 20-minute weekly news bulletin in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, wants to reach our faithful but also all the listeners, with a message of truth, hope, peace and unity". And adds: "Talking about the good works of the Christian community in Pakistan and what happens in the Catholic Church, we will deal with news related to social and religious activities, including topics such as justice and peace, interreligious harmony, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, ecumenism, social service, ecology, environment. We will always do so with a view to giving news that strengthen unity and peace in society".
Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFM Cap, the only priest in Pakistan who graduated in media communication sciences, also said: "Thanks to teamwork in recent months, we are now able to launch this news service. The extraordinary cooperation and support of Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Chairman of the Commission, has allowed all RVA staff to work with more zeal and dedication".
Radio Veritas Pakistan, after having moved what was a shortwave radio service to the web, has been broadcasting 14 programs of various kinds weekly, especially for reflection and spiritual deepening, with daily reading and commentary on the Gospel, Sunday mass, catechesis for children. The service was very important and was followed in a time of pandemic and lockdown.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SUDAN - The Bishop of El Obeid: steps forward towards democracy, peace and national identity

Fides EN - - Mer, 29/07/2020 - 10:28
El Obeid - "The first good news to report is that the ceasefire still holds up in the Country. Of course, there are still many aspects to be addressed and also some outbreaks of inter-ethnic or tribal conflict in Darfur that had never happened before, but we can say we are satisfied. It is essential to go beyond the concept of a 'religious State' to build stable peace and give the nation an identity. From a political point of view, I consider a big step forward the fact that this week the 18 State governors have been appointed and they are all an expression of civil society: it is the first time, and moreover, two of them are women": this is what Mgr. Yunan Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid, Sudan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sudan and South Sudan says to Agenzia Fides, talking about the new political phase that the African Country is going through, the prospects for peace and the situation of the Church.
Sudan continues, in fact, in the process of democratization and modernization. On 11 July, General Abdelfattah El Burhan, President of the Sovereign Council, signed a series of measures that go beyond some of the most controversial rules based on the "sharia", and introduce principles that increase citizens' guarantees and reduce discrimination and violations of rights. The path is still long and the road taken is also the result of mediation for peace processes between the executive and armed groups in action in South Kordofan, Darfur and the Blue Nile State.
According to Bishop Tombe Trille, the female issue as well as that of civil freedoms play a decisive role in this phase of democratic transition and some of the measures taken by the government, such as the abolition of the death penalty for citizens of Islamic faith who convert to a different religion and the norms that subjected woman to man, are going in the right direction.
"There are positive signs towards freedom of expression and the practice of female genital mutilation has been definitively criminalized. During the pandemic, for the first time, Christians were considered on the same level as Muslims and the statements regarding the cult or precautions to be taken, equated without distinction of faith. This reassured us. However, some issues remain to be addressed, such as the issue of property confiscated from the Church in the past, or the fact that we do not yet have direct interlocutors in the government for questions concerning the life of the Church". The Bishop concludes with a prospect of hope: "We have left many years of dictatorship and it takes time for things to definitely take the right direction. We hope that soon we will have a sovereign Parliament that legislates in defense of the population and that finally we can talk about Sudan as a Country in peace".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - The PMS National Director: "Aid from the Emergency Fund has opened our eyes to how important it is to share the little one has"

Fides EN - - Mer, 29/07/2020 - 10:13
Harare - "Zimbabwe is an agricultural country with 14 million inhabitants in southern Africa. It suffered a devastating drought in 2018/2019 which caused unspeakable suffering for the population who rely on agriculture for their livelihood. In March 2019, the cyclone Idai hit some parts of the Country, which caused thousands of people to be displaced and the crops of the fields that were almost ready for harvesting were wiped out". With these words Father Simplisio Manyika, O.Carm, national Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Zimbabwe, describes the situation in the country to Agenzia Fides. When the inhabitants were slowly beginning to recover, the coronavirus pandemic appeared.
"The arrival of Covid-19 has been a shock to our healthcare facilities. The lockdown has brought even more suffering to the poor", notes Fr. Simplisio, stressing that the closure of churches deprived people of spiritual nourishment just when they needed it most, moreover parishes and dioceses that live on the offerings of the faithful, have no longer had resources. Due to the lockdown, farmers cannot sell their agricultural products, traders have no sources of income, many villagers who worked abroad and who sent their earnings to their homeland have been expelled or have returned. "Many people find life unbearable and struggle to cope with daily needs", notes the priest.
"In this context, the Church of Zimbabwe has asked several international organizations for assistance in responding to the challenges posed by Covid-19 and has received, among others, aid from the Emergency Fund of the Pontifical Mission Societies", says Fr. Simplicio, explaining that part of the funds will be used to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic through the Health Commission present in each diocese and other funds will serve to feed the hungry who increase day by day.
"Some initiatives have come from the Catholic Education Commission, which is supplying schools that need buckets of water for hygienic measures and thermometers to measure temperature. The Health Commission is instructing Catholic health personnel on appropriate ways to respond to this pandemic, by providing personal protective equipment. Caritas Zimbabwe is also touring the Country to donate food aid to the needy".
In this regard, the PMS National Director cites a significant episode. "Recently there has been the distribution of food parcels by the Church in one of the poorest parishes in the diocese of Harare. The distribution took place at the Catholic parish church, but it covered the entire community of various religious faiths, and the political leadership of the community was present to witness. The parish priest helped distribute the food, which would last three months, to eighty families. All the people were touched by how the Catholic Church did not discriminate. Political leaders were speechless with gratitude, and ended up encouraging those present to learn 'from the Mother Church', as a politician who is not a Catholic said. This is just a simple example of how charity and evangelization are the two sides of the same coin".
Father Simplicio notes that through these aids, the dioceses can breathe "a sigh of relief", in addition the aid from the PMS Emergency Fund "has opened people’s eyes, who now understand how important it is to share the little they have with those who have nothing".
Some dioceses have started a program between urban parishes with poor rural parishes: urban parishes collect food and offerings and then send them to their twin rural parish. "The emergency fund we have received will help us alleviate the suffering of the poor in Zimbabwe", concludes the PMS National Director.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Campaign: "United for health and for life" - religious groups in support of the health system

Fides EN - - Mer, 29/07/2020 - 10:00
Santa Cruz - The campaign for solidarity: "United for health and life. We are all Gran Vallegrande" takes place led by three Redemptorist priests, with the support of the Evangelical churches, the Medical College and the press union, which aims to reach one million Bolivians and many others.
Due to the health crisis that Bolivia is going through and for the positive cases of Covid-19 that increase every day in the department of Santa Cruz, in order to guarantee the health and well-being of the province of Vallegrande, of the Valleys of Santa Cruz, and taking into account that the hospital is a point of reference for the entire province and the valleys, the decision to join forces was taken, with God's blessing, to organize, launch and carry out a solidarity campaign in support of the health system.
"After listening to the local medical college about the needs that our hospital requires to fight this pandemic and what will come after it, this campaign is designed and focused on the goal of creating a Covid 19 test laboratory and an oxygen plant for the hospital", explains the note sent to Fides.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - "Living Life with Right Relationships": youth meeting on the values of Christian life

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 13:13
Port Moresby - Relationships between human beings are the key to a happy existence and are also the cornerstone of the life of faith, which is made up of a vertical relationship and horizontal relationship : starting from a study on the values of life and the right relationships among human beings, starting from the values of the Bible, a seminar dedicated to young people was held in recent days, at the Mary Our Help Hostel in Boroko, Port Moresby.
The meeting, organized as part of youth pastoral initiatives, was introduced by Father Ambrose Pereira, sdb, Director of the Communications Office of the Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Two young Catholic professionals took part as speakers and witnesses of Christian life, involved in the parish youth group of St Joseph's Parish.
The two young speakers are brother and sister: lawyer Desmond Aigilo, 27, who addressed the groups of students and young people present sharing the biblical values and highlighting the Scripture verses that speak of the importance of being oneself, to be people animated by faith, hope and charity, following the evangelical example of Christ himself. His sister Carol Aigilo, 32, engaged in organizations for the respect of the environment and the protection of Creation, spoke about the Catholic values that underlie her life and shared with them the story of three figures present in the Bible: Abigail , Deborah and Maria.
The session on the theme "Living Life with Right Relationships" was presented by Fr. Ambrose who invited the participants to reflect on their lives and above all on their relationships with God and with others. The priest stressed the joy and happiness of the meeting between people who love each other and, bringing to light a recent local news story: the abuse and murder of a 19-year-old woman, mother of two children, a case that shocked the community. The priest wanted to highlight the importance of respect and dignity for women, hoping that such episodes are averted.
The meeting was followed by a fruitful group debate among the young people: above all the young women had the opportunity to ask questions and clarify doubts about their relationships.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - The Monastery of St. Macarius commemorates Abbot Epiphanios, two years after his assassination

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 13:02
Cairo - The commemorations of Anba Epiphanios, Coptic Orthodox Bishop killed two years ago, on 29 July 2018, will take place on Wednesday 29 July at the Monastery of St. Macarius, in that monastery, where he was abbot. Only a few Bishops and the monks of St. Macarius will take part in the liturgical celebrations in memory of Anba Epiphanios: a limited number of people, in compliance with the regulations imposed by the authorities to counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic . But in this case, the secrecy surrounding the commemoration certainly seems appropriate to commemorate a painful affair, which shocked many Egyptian Christians and opened anguished questions about the present and future of Coptic monasticism, given that just two monks of St. Macarius are been convicted of the murder, and a death sentence is pending on one of them.
In the early hours of Sunday 29 July 2018, the body of Bishop Epiphanios had been found in a pool of blood, inside the Monastery of St. Macarius, along the path that led from his cell to the church, where the Bishop was going to start the day with the morning prayers, before Sunday Mass . The Abbot was 64 years old, a native of Tanta, a graduate in medicine, Anba Epiphanius had entered Saint Macarius the Great monastery, in Wadi Natrun region, in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 2002. Researcher and scholar, he had worked on the translation from Greek to Arabic of several books of the Bible. Anba Epiphanius lived intense relationships of spiritual communion with friends and monastic communities of the Catholic Church. Already in the days following the murder, the judicial authorities accused the Egyptian Wael Saad Tawadros of the crime, who at the time of the assassination was a monk of the Monastery of St. Macarius with the name of Isaiah al Makary.
A few days before his arrest, Wael Saad Tawadros had been expelled from the monastery and stripped of his monastic habit with a measure approved by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II. Then, on August 3, 2018, on the wave of emotion caused by the tragic story of Anba Epiphanios, the Coptic Church had accelerated the process of critical discernment on the condition and conduct of monastic communities, which had already been underway for some time. The Committee for the monasteries of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod had laid down 12 rules - ratified by Patriarch Tawadros II - aimed at all those who live the monastic condition in the Coptic Orthodox Church should abide by. Monks and nuns were asked to close their personal accounts and any blogs on social media, considered with critical eyes as tools used above all to spread "confusing ideas". Pope Tawadros also ratified the order to suspend the acceptance of new candidates for monastic life for a year, and that of regulating in a more rigorous way visiting times and pilgrims to the monasteries. Among the 12 disciplinary measures there is also the prohibition for monks and nuns to receive donations from the faithful, who can only be collected by the abbot or abbess of the monastery.
The Supreme Court of Cassation of Egypt confirmed on Wednesday 1 July last the sentence of death sentence pronounced in previous judicial proceedings against Wael Saad Tawadros, former Egyptian Orthodox Coptic monk convicted of the murder by Anba Epiphanios, . The Court of Cassation instead sentenced monk Falta'os al-Makari to life imprisonment as an accomplice in the same crime, canceling the death sentence previously also imposed on him by the Damanhur Criminal Court.
The two previous death sentences had been issued by the Damanhur Criminal Court on February 23, 2019, and on April 24, 2019 they had received the nihil obstat from the Mufti of Egypt, the Islamic religious authority in charge of issuing the fatwas on relevant issues. In Egypt, a death sentence cannot be considered final unless approved by the Mufti.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - Christian faith flourishes in the territory of the "giraffe women"

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 12:48
Loikaw - "The parish of Tananukwe includes five villages and a population of 560 families. The majority of the people in this area are Christian, with a strong Catholic presence". Father Pius Kyan speaks to Agenzia Fides in Italian while showing the small church of Santa Teresa where he has been carrying out apostolic service for four years. He manages a thriving and numerous Catholic reality in the region a few kilometers from Loikaw, capital of the Burmese State of Kayah, where two thirds of the population is Christian and where Catholics are an important presence: just by looking at the landscape, full of churches and chapels, more common than pagodas and mosques. "Our relations with all the other religious communities are good and based on dialogue", says the parish priest.
Covid-19, although the State of Kayah has not registered a single case of Coronavirus , is still an emergency and the guard is held high: "We celebrate mass with only five faithful at a time, to respect the rules imposed by the authorities, to avoid gatherings. A few days ago I went to a funeral, but only to give a blessing to the body and give spiritual comfort to the family. I visit the villages every month but then I only move in emergencies such as to give the last rites".
Ordained a priest in 2012, Father Pius, 38, studied in Monza, near Milan: "A year to learn Italian and then four years of theology ... a struggle. I wouldn't mind going back to Italy to have a pastoral experience outside Myanmar. But I don't want to go to a big city. I like places like this, where it is possible to have a direct relationship and a truly personal relationship with the faithful". Behind the church there is a school, with its small campus, a volleyball field and 17 students who receive the support of the parish, otherwise they could not afford their studies. "We are also building a new church now", he says.
On the local situation, he notes that activities have stopped since April even though the lockdown has slowly eased. In fact, some villages have refused to finish it and remain closed to outsiders and tourists even if the Ministry of Tourism has given the green light. In a landscape marked by fields of rice, sesame, corn, vegetables, the area of the parish is known for the villages where the so-called "giraffe women" live, who, since they were children, wear rings around their necks that rest on their shoulders and lower the ribcage, lengthening the neck. It is a practice of indigenous culture that missionaries have fought hard and that has now fallen into disuse in Christian villages. The custom survives in the most remote areas, animism remains strong, which is expressed here with long wooden totems and funeral mounds where family members deposit, next to the tombs, food and drinks to accompany the journey of the deceased.
Between history and legend, the efforts of the first missionaries are narrated: one of these has even become a theatrical piece that tells of a missionary locked up in a pigsty by those who for the first time see a white man, with a beard and shoes on his feet. When man eats the food of animals by hunger and takes off his shoes, the natives finally discover that he is a human being like them, and fears fall. The paradigmatic story of the missionary adventure of the pioneers serves to recall the difficulties, the sufferings, in some cases martyrdom. And in the history mimed in the theater, it offers a sign of hope and a feeling of gratitude to those who brought the seed of the Gospel to Loikaw with missionary courage and enthusiasm.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Scalabrinians: infections, unemployment and corruption increase

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 12:27
Johannesburg - South Africa has entered "phase 3" of the coronavirus pandemic, but the infection, instead of stopping, is spreading. The cases have reached 395,000 and the recorded deaths are 6,000. At the moment, they are concentrated in some areas. The greatest number of infections are in the Western Cape province and in the region of Johannesburg. Commuters who move to work in the east of the Country have brought the virus to the least affected areas: "There are people who work between Cape Town and Gauteng - explains the Cape Healthcare Department – they move between these areas of the Country and spread the infection". The fear is that the epidemic also reaches other regions less affected today.
To cope with the emergency, the authorities have imposed strict safety rules: social distancing, wearing face masks, disinfecting hands, etc. But shops, workshops, offices and schools are open. Restaurants can work or sell takeaway food. Coffee shops are open at reduced hours. Electricity and Internet connection have always been guaranteed to the whole nation.
"The drama - observes Pablo Velasquez, a Scalabrinian missionary in Johannesburg - is that in the last few days people have lowered their guard. Too many people go around for work or to have fun because they have the feeling that the virus is not dangerous. This is likely to aggravate the situation and to sink into an even more rigid lockdown than what we have experienced in the past few months".
Particular attention is paid to large slums. There is a fear that excessive closures will lead to riots by people in search of food. "In cities one does not see policemen or soldiers - continues Father Pablo - but around the slums controls are punctual. I carry out a part of my pastoral service in a shanty town. So I had the opportunity to enter. I saw many people around, without any form of protection. The risk of spreading the virus is high also because of the poor hygiene conditions in shanty towns".
Religious services are still divided among a thousand precautions. "We have decided to resume celebrating masses - observed Father Pablo - but with only 50 faithful who must book in advance and must respect the strict rules imposed by the authority. We told our faithful that if one or more were to be registered cases among those who attend mass, we will close the church on a date to be set".
In addition to spiritual assistance, the Scalabrinians also offer financial help. For weeks, every day, the community of Johannesburg provided food to the poor township people who were unable to go to work. Thousands of people were assisted who, since early morning, lined up for help. "We are exhausted - Father Pablo underlines - we had to reduce the days of distribution of food and select the most needy people. We had no more funds to feed everyone".
Covid-19 is not only a health emergency, but also a serious economic emergency. In addition to food, people also seek financial help. "Unemployment - concludes the missionary - is rampant. People have no money. An increasing number of people come to ask us for financial support to pay the rent. To get any occupation, people are ready to pay bribes to mediators. Corruption increases. These are also the consequences of the pandemic".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TAJIKISTAN - Covid-19, the Church offers aid to the homeless

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 12:26
Dushanbe - With a service for the distribution of masks and hand disinfectants, Caritas Tajikistan has arranged for a project to help the homeless, while the Covid-19 health emergency is underway. This was announced in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, reporting that the clochard assistance project, now in its third edition, was launched last December in Dushambe, with the support of Caritas Italia and the Tajiko Ministry of Interior. Catholic volunteers offer psychological advice, legal support, but also the possibility of using showers, barbershop and laundry for the homeless in the capital,.
As pointed out by the Caritas Tajikistan executive, "homelessness is a relatively new phenomenon, which has appeared in society as a by-product of the country's market economy path". According to unofficial data, on average, in the capital, there are about 250 people without permanent housing, while an investigation conducted in April 2020 by the Asian Development Bank showed that in the whole country, which has 9 million inhabitants, 27.4% of the population lives below the national poverty line. The work of the Church is addressed to this group, working parallel on other fronts: for example, activities aimed at providing means of subsistence to people with disabilities are carried out, while a project called "Supervision for success" allows the elderly to teach professions to orphaned children. In addition, for some years, Caritas Tajikistan has launched an important initiative aimed at improving the water distribution system in the district of Jomi, an area west of the country, where the conditions of the water network represent an emergency for the population .
These are interventions and projects that the Catholic Church promotes with the aim of developing a fruitful partnership with civil institutions, of contributing to the common good of the nation, of showing the authentic vocation and mission of the Church, a small religious community in a social context which is 98% Muslim.
There are currently about a hundred faithful, distributed between the two parishes of Dushambe and Qurǧonteppa, who make up the Catholic community of Tajikistan. The Catholic presence in Tajikistan has been recorded since the 70s of last century: the first faithful were mostly Germans from Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, deported to the country at the time of the Soviet Union. Because of the communist regime, the Tajikistan communities for years were completely isolated from the universal Church. It was Pope John Paul II who structured the local Catholic presence, establishing the Missio sui iuris, on September 29, 1997. In this context, charitable actions were started as early as 1983 by small groups, who officially joined Caritas starting from 2004.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Bishops' message for the national holiday:"It is necessary to assume responsibilities and commitments"

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 11:29
Lima - On Monday 27 July, Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, president of the Episcopal Conference, celebrated Mass and Te Deum in the Cathedral of Trujillo, on the occasion of the 199th anniversary of the Independence of Peru. In his homily, he said: "This national holiday comes amid a serious health crisis that is causing many families to suffer. The only way to deal with it is to follow government regulations and unite together to help the weakest".
Then he added: "This national holiday opens an election year. Next year we will celebrate national holidays with a new government. Therefore it is necessary to take on responsibilities and commitments so that, in light of current circumstances, the electoral process can be carried out in the fairer and more transparent way. The future of the country will depend on the decision made by millions of Peruvians. We hope that our political class will live up to the circumstances and can contribute, with ideas and programs, to the development of the country and to help millions of people living in poverty".
Peru is experiencing a lockdown of its economy, like other Latin American countries, due to the Covid pandemic and also suffers from the collapse of health facilities due to the large number of cases recorded: 390 thousand with 18,418 deaths.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - "How much is life worth?": Awareness campaign to combat human trafficking

Fides EN - - Mar, 28/07/2020 - 11:25
Brasilia - From 26 to 30 July, the Episcopal Commission of Special Pastoral Care for the Fight against Human Trafficking of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil , carries out the campaign entitled "How much is life worth?" and as a subtitle "Human Trafficking is a crime". The goal is to mobilize and raise awareness among the Church of Brazil and the entire Brazilian society, to combat human trafficking, especially in the week in which the World Day against Human Trafficking is held, organized by the UN for the 30th July. The campaign also aims to draw public authorities' attention to the promotion and social inclusion of victims and the guarantee of their rights.
According to the information released by the CNBB, sent to Fides, two videos, radio spots and information material on the topic of trafficking in women, children and migrants will be released in these days. On the 29th there will be a meeting with the participation of Bishop Evaristo Pascoal Spengler and Sister Eurides Alves de Oliveira, both members of the CEPEETH, and Roberto Marinucci, of the Scalabrinian Center for Migration Studies. The meeting will be disseminated through the social networks of Caritas Brazil. On that day, the Commission asked to make a concrete gesture: light a candle and, in prayer, make a minute of silence for the victims of human trafficking. They are also asked to take a photo of the light and publish it on social networks with the hashtags: #TraficoHumanoNão and #Endhumantrafficking #CNBB. Given the seriousness of this crime, the Commission calls for firm action from public institutions, so that there is an effective fight against this evil and the punishment of the criminals who practice it.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Support and hypothesis of compensation for Christian refugees and Yazidi refugees in Kurdistan

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 12:03
Erbil - The precarious condition of Christian and Yazidi refugees still displaced in the territories of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan was at the center of the talks held on Sunday 26 July in Erbil between the Iraqi minister of immigrants and IDPs, Chaldean Christian Evan Faeq Yakoub Jabro, and the President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, the Kurdish Nechirvan Idris Barzani . During the meeting - reads a report released by the Presidency of Kurdistan - the measures put in place to protect refugees from the coronavirus pandemic were examined, together with the projects launched to encourage the return of refugees to their original rooted areas, starting from the Nineveh Plain. In this regard, the Minister and the President of the Kurdistan Region, during their conversation, referred to forms of compensation to be proposed to Christians and Yazidis to encourage their return to the areas of origin, from which they had fled in 2014 in the face of advancing jihadist militias from the self-styled Islamic State . Minister Evan Jabro confirmed her intention to counteract the projects of those who want to take advantage of the migratory movements and mass escapes of Christians and Yazidis recorded during the jihadist occupation to permanently alter the demographic balance of the area and cancel the multi-ethnic and multi-religious profile of the Nineveh Plain.
The condition of former Christian refugees who have already returned to Mosul and the Iraqi Province of Nineveh was also the focus of a new meeting between Minister Evan Jabro and the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Dominican Najib Mikhael Moussa.
In the Nineveh governorate, the situation remains uncertain and tense also because it is characterized by the coexistence of armed forces of different backgrounds, including popular Shiite militias and Kurdish Peshmerga mobilization.
Professor Evan Jabro, as previously reported by Fides , became minister for migrants and refugees in the government of Iraqi Premier Mustafa al-Kadhimi on 6 June. Previously, Evan Jabro worked with the NGO Al-Firdaws, founded by Fatima Al-Bahadly in 2003, and committed to developing social and work projects aimed primarily at women and young people. The new minister also held the role of adviser to the Governor of Mosul on minority issues.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Bishops in plenary assembly: health, social and political crisis at the center

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 11:18
Abidjan - The ongoing health crisis, with spiritual, pastoral, economic, social and political challenges: is the central theme of the 116th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Ivory Coast, which began on 26 July 2020 in the diocesan center of Yamoussoukro and will last until 31 July. The assembly was initially scheduled for May in the diocese of Yopougon but, and for reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed. This is a special gathering due to its elective nature: the Bishops will elect the new president of the episcopal conference and will also proceed to the election of new presidents of the episcopal commissions and, if necessary, of new executive secretaries of the episcopal commissions.
During the assembly one will listen to the report of the outgoing President of the Conference, and the reports of the various episcopal commissions, while among other topics of interest, the creation of the Catholic Academy, the examination of the health, social and political situation will be discussed.
While presidential elections are scheduled for October 2020, the Catholic Church and religious communities are called upon to make a contribution to the nation, while political tensions in the country show no sign of diminishing. Bishops have always promoted peace, reconciliation and social cohesion.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - New website of the Peruvian Bishops is online

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 11:13
Lima - With the initials ANCEP, which stands for News Agency of the Peruvian Episcopate, the new information website of the Church in Peru is online. Photographs, videos and a presentation that automatically adapts to any digital device that uses the internet to view the web, the new website offers the latest news and calendar of events of the different dioceses in the country. A section of interviews, another for Vatican news, another for those of the Americas and an archive section to find documents published in the past.
One can access this new information center: "".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Archdiocese in Kerala offers the government its facilities as treatment centers for Covid-19

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 11:09
Thiruvalla - An Indian archdiocese has offered its various facilities and institutions to the government as treatment centers for Covid-19 patients in the state of Kerala. As Fides learns, Archbishop Thomas Mar Koorilos of the Syro-Malankara archdiocese of Thiruvalla has notified the district administration of the availability of diocesan structures, "in order to contribute to the common good", at a difficult time for the Indian society, while the virus is reaching peaks and causing hundreds of victims every day.
The facilities offered are the Santhi Nilayam complex in the city of Thiruvalla, the youth hostel of the Mar Athanasius College for Advanced Studies in Thukalasserry, the Bodhana center and the medical campus in Perunthuruthy. If necessary, inform the note sent to Agenzia Fides, the auditorium of the Catholic Church of Santa Maria in Thirumoolapuram may also be equipped to accommodate sick or patients under quarantine.
Kerala, a state in southern India, reported 19,026 coronavirus positive cases with 62 deaths. In all of India there are over 1.4 million positive cases and 32,810 deaths. The country has registered 49,000 cases and 702 deaths in the past 24 hours.
The Indian Catholic community reported the death of six priests from Covid-19. The latest death is that of Domenican father Simplicious Khess, 43 years old, engaged at a pastoral level in the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in Thane, near Mumbai. Hospitalized after being tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago, his physical condition got weaker and died of a heart attack.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - CELAM has been illuminating and promoting the Church's mission in Latin America for 65 years

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 10:57
Bogota - "One day like today, July 25, 1955, the First General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate began in Rio di Janeiro": with these words the Presidency of CELAM informs of this anniversary that transformed the way of living as a Pilgrim Church in America.
"We thank God - reads the text - for the 65th anniversary of this Conference convened by Pope Pius XII, where it was decided to ask His Holiness for the creation of the Latin American Episcopal Council , with the aim of studying the problems affecting the Church in Latin America, coordinating activities and preparing new Conferences of the Latin American Episcopate with the new challenges of changing times".
From this moment on, CELAM has dealt with social problems, missions, indigenous peoples, the population of African origin, immigrants, seafarers, as well as the problem of the shortage of priests and, throughout its existence, is committed to promoting "processes of evangelization and ecclesial service" to spread faith and make it an integral part of the thought, customs and institutions of the Continent.
Its action - explain the Bishops - was "particularly stimulated by the presence and message of the Holy Fathers Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis, who made their closeness and their guiding word felt in all the Countries of our continent". "According to the Social Doctrine of the Church, CELAM is called to a threefold task: to illuminate, educate and act".
Today CELAM provides contact, communion, formation, research and reflection services to the 22 Episcopal Conferences that are located from Mexico to Cape Horn, including the Caribbean and the Antilles.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/FRANCE - In the memory of Father Hamel, the rejection of all violence and respect for human life

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 10:53
Rouen - "For the fourth year, we are gathered in this too small church of Saint-Étienne du Rouvray, with you priests, nuns, parishioners, with you, the dear family of Father Jacques Hamel, with you witnesses of this dramatic gesture committed here". Thus the Archbishop of Rouen, Mgr. Dominique Lebrun, began the Holy Mass which he presided yesterday, Sunday 26 July, in the same church where Father Hamel was assassinated on the altar by two Islamic militants, on 26 July 2016 .
The commemoration was attended by Mgr. Eric de Moulins Beaufort, Archbishop of Reims, President of the French Bishops' Conference, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, parliamentarians, civil and military authorities.
Like every year, the commemoration was marked by several moments: silent march from the presbytery to the church of Saint-Étienne; Sunday mass; Ceremony in front of the Stele of Fraternity. "Religious and civil authorities, citizens, believers of all faiths and non-believers, come together to demonstrate their common rejection of all violence and their profound respect for human life", underlines the statement of the diocese, which "thanks all those who join directly or indirectly, through prayer and commitment, to this fourth anniversary".
"The criminal justice system of our country continues to investigate a case involving possible accomplices - continues the statement -. Will the investigation shed light on what led to this crime? Will its results help our country protect itself better and protect its children from deadly radicalization? Everyone wants it, but the penalty cannot be enough. Everyone must feel responsible for common life. Much is being done; much remains to be done. Evil hides, and not only in the form of viruses. Separatism as well as social fractures are evil causes that Father Hamel managed to denounce without resorting to scapegoats, but pledging to witness an equal love for everyone, in the midst of everyone".
Pope Francis granted the dispensation to open the process of Beatification of Father Hamel, a few months after his death, in order to recognize his martyrdom. Announced on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017, the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification officially opened on May 20, 2017, and ended on March 9, 2019 . The complete dossier was then delivered to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which last spring informed the Archbishop of Rouen that the canonical procedure envisaged "was faithfully respected and that, consequently, the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Rouen acted in a legally valid way".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - The first Catholic radio station of the Archdiocese of Blantyre kicks off

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 10:43
Kuwala - After two years’ search of license to set up a radio station in Blantyre Archdiocese, Kuwala FM as the radio will be known has received a regional license making it the first Catholic radio in the Archdiocese. "Kuwala FM will focus on catechesis programs devised for modern understanding with questions and answers. We will also air news and programs addressing social and pastoral challenges", explained to Fides Fr. Mwinganyama who has been coordinating communications in the Archdiocese.
In the note sent to Agenzia Fides, the priest writes: "We applied for license two years ago but it delayed because of the political situation in the country. There were some hiccups and we were not awarded the license. Now that we have received the license we have to set the ball rolling", said Fr. Frank Mwinganyama after they received the license from Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority . "The radio is anticipated to go on air within 8 months as per MACRA’s requirement hence a task force is already in place who are coming up with plans on the way forward".
"The radio intends to broadcast in two main languages; English and Chichewa, a language spoken in parts of Malawi", added the Malawian cleric who also serves as youth Chaplain in the Archdiocese. "We will have programs targeting the youths on integral formation which combines both spiritual and human formation that will include Malawian cultural issues to help develop the youths", he notes.
Asked about sustainability of the radio to a foreseeable future, Fr. Mwinganyama disclosed that the radio will run adverts to help bring income "we opted to go commercial because those radios which didn’t do so and opted to depend on donations from Christians became unsustainable", he added. There will be a strong marketing team which will also help identify sponsored programs for sustainability purposes.
MACRA will allow the radio to transmit news for the southern region of Malawi which, according to Fr. Mwinganyama, will cover not only Blantyre Archdiocese but also other dioceses adjacent to Blantyre such as Chikwawa and Zomba. It is the fifth Catholic radio station in the Country.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - The PMS Director: "Spreading the message of Jesus’ love is a mission that involves all the baptized"

Fides EN - - Lun, 27/07/2020 - 10:27
Madrid - "We have received the Holy Father’s message with great enthusiasm. We sincerely believe that it is not a simple protocol speech, but a message aimed at renewing the missionary spirit of the Church". This is what Father José Maria Calderon, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Spain reports in an interview with Fides, commenting on the Message that Pope Francis sent to the PMS on May 21, solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord.
"This message - he continues - addressed expressly to the PMS National Directions, is also addressed to particular Churches, where a profound and serious revision of their structures is needed to make them even more missionary. As Pope Francis said in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: " I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities".
The Pontifical Mission Societies are an integral part of the Catholic Church and offer "constant spiritual and material support - underlines Fr. Calderon - so that missionaries can proclaim the Gospel and collaborate in the personal and social development of the people among whom they carry out their work. The PMS are therefore not a simple tool of gathering of churches, much less a foundation or a non-governmental organization that works for the poor - continues the Director - but the organism of the Church to which Francis asks that their distinctive character is to share the love for the Church, a reflection of love for Christ, lived and manifested in silence, without boasting, without delimiting one's own ground".
In an increasingly frenetic and competitive society, where a culture of waste and indifference often imposes itself, "all of us baptized and therefore missionaries, are called to peacefully propose the message of love that Jesus came to teach us": "In this document, the Pope reminds us of a fundamental thing - concludes Fr. José - namely that the mission of the Church is that accomplished through those who believe and love Jesus Christ, with the profound conviction and authority of those who have been made disciples of baptism".

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with the PMS National Director on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Two Italian missionaries at the service of the poor have died of coronavirus in Madagascar

Fides EN - - Sab, 25/07/2020 - 11:49
Rome - The Catholic Church, in its missionary commitment in many parts of the world, is paying for its contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic which does not spare peoples and nations from all continents. In Antananarivo, two Italian missionaries have died. They had spent decades serving the African country and remained close to the population even during this pandemic period. On 21 July, Father Albano Passarotto, an 80-year-old Vincentian religious died, for 56 years a missionary in Madagascar and on 23 July Don Luigi Piotto, of the Opera Don Orione, 65 years old died, a missionary on the African island for 28 years.
Ordained a priest in 1965, Father Albano Passarotto always carried out his mission in Madagascar, dedicating himself especially to the poorest children, creating schools, orphanages, care centers and structures that would guarantee education and assistance to the population and in particular to children. He currently ran a school in the south of the island that he had founded to guarantee hundreds of children the opportunity to study, as well as offering them two meals a day, since most of them come from families who live in camps.
In 1992 Don Luigi Piotto had left for Madagascar. He spent all twenty-eight years of his missionary life in Antsofinondry, as Parish Priest, Director, in charge of the professional school. He had always been at the service of the poor. He dedicated his life in promoting the education of children and young people, ensuring them a worthy future. From 2003 to 2010 he was Coordinator of the Orionine Missions in Madagascar, and had been appointed Director and Treasurer from the establishment of the "Marie, Reine du Madagascar" Delegation. (Agenzia Fides, 25/7/2020
Categorie: From the church