AFRICA/IVORY COAST - A caravan of peace, reconciliation and development in preparation for the October 2020 presidential election

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 11:59
Abidjan - Since 2011, peace has been the main concern in the minds of Ivorians. Indeed, after more than a decade of political-military crisis in the Ivory Coast , the Ivorians in general and the government in particular have realized that peace is the necessary condition for cohesion and social development and economic situation in the Country. The crises and the current tensions experienced by the Ivorians only 9 months before the next presidential election have made the situation alarming, to the point that peace is now considered a vital emergency for the stability and development of the Country.
In order to indicate this path of peaceful coexistence, the PLCRD , organized "the caravan of peace, reconciliation and development" with the aim of mobilizing the collective awareness of Ivorians on these issues. The caravan was presented at a press conference on January 7 at the Casa San Francesco d'Assisi of the Madre del Divino Amore community, located in Cocody Riviera Palmeraie.
The city of Gagnoa will welcome the first stage of the caravan from 12 to 19 January 2020, which will then touch the cities of Bouaké, Man, Abengourou, Korhogo and Abidjan.
PLCRD is an interreligious network of religious leaders who work for peace, creating a climate of trust by promoting living together and community development.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Bishops to Lebanese politicians: do not drag the country into the conflicts that are stirring the Middle East

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 11:55
Beirut - Lebanese politicians must do everything possible to strengthen Lebanon's national cohesion and keep the country safe from the new winds of war that are stirring the entire region. The Bishops of the Maronite Church, who met on Wednesday 8 January in the patriarchal see of Bkerkè, under the presidency of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, for their traditional monthly meeting. In the message issued at the end of the meeting, among other things, the Maronite Bishops expressed concern about the new escalation of violence in the Middle East after the attack with which the US apparatuses killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad. In the text, members of the Maronite episcopate have called on the international community and the governments of nations to do everything possible to prevent further turmoil, in an area of the world which is unstable and tormented by conflicts in recent decades. The Bishops also recalled the words with which Pope Francis, in his Christmas message "Urbi et Orbi", urged the Lebanese people to rediscover "their vocation to be a message of freedom and harmonious coexistence for all". "Freedom - added the Bishops "has always been, over the centuries, in the heart of the existence of this small Country, in a Levant that always moves away from it, making deleterious choices for everyone".

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The Assembly of Bishops examines the ecclesial and socio-political reality; call for respect for the National Assembly

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 11:42
Caracas - While the ordinary plenary assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela is taking place, the 41 Bishops of the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions of the country have published a strong statement on the autonomy of the National Assembly and the facts which took place recently. "On January 7, the Venezuelan people witnessed an abuse of power ... it is a new expression of the totalitarian ideology of those who hold political power. They promoted the non-recognition of the autonomy of the legitimate National Assembly" we read in the Bishops' document sent to Agenzia Fides.
"This is a serious blow to the institution of the State, - continues the text - everything is aimed at holding power and not at generating processes for the good of society". "We condemn what happened, and as Venezuelan citizens we ask for respect for the National Assembly, the only political institution elected by the people in 2015". "As Pastors, we ask to act in favor of the common good of the people, affected by a profound crisis that devalues their dignity" concludes the text, which bears the date of January 8.
The Assembly of the CEV opened on January 7 at the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello , with the welcoming speech by Mgr. José Trinidad Fernández, Auxiliary Bishop of Caracas and Secretary General of CEV, who presented the topics to be examined in the Assembly, which will end on Sunday 12 January. Mgr. Mario Moronta, Bishop of San Cristóbal and first Vice-President of CEV, then read the opening speech written by Mgr. José Luis Azuaje, Archbishop of Maracaibo and President of tCEV, absent for health reasons.
The speech is divided into two fundamental parts, the ecclesial part and the socio-political part .
Among other things, "morally intolerable situations" have been reported, where "institutionalized violence" is accompanied by "lies and manipulative words". Statistics on living conditions in the country show a scenario of progressive deterioration. Poverty is on the rise and data referring to access to work are increasingly negative. The "food shortage" is also a dramatic reality for 87% of Venezuelan families.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Procession of the Black Nazarene: "Our mission is love"

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 11:31
Manila - About two million Filipinos have flocked since the early hours of today, January 9, the streets of Manila, occupying the district of Quiapo, to venerate an image of Jesus Christ carrying the cross, popularly known as the "black Nazarene". The celebration of the black Nazarene, prepared with a prayer novena, culminates in a procession called "traslacion" that lasts the whole day of January 9th. The procession recalls the transfer of the image of the black Nazarene which in 1787 was transferred from an Augustinian church, located in the old fortified city of Manila, to the basilica in the Quiapo district of the city.
"This event is an expression of the great faith of the people towards Christ Jesus. The demonstration of popular piety of the faithful is incredible: many walk barefoot to identify themselves in the suffering, others help to pull the cart that carries the statue, there are those who try to climb to touch the face of the Nazarene and to seek a personal grace", says to Fides Eduardo Torres Mejorada, a lay person present at the procession.
The Archbishop of Manila, Card Luis Antonio Tagle, appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples celebrated the dawn mass for the crowd of faithful gathered in Rizal Park, inviting those present to "follow the mission of Christ: pure love is our mission. This is what we can give to others".
After mass, the dark-skinned image of the suffering Christ, invoked for his miraculous powers, moved from Rizal Park in Manila to the Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, with a procession followed by hundreds of thousands of people.
The Black Nazarene was carved by an unknown Mexican from a dark wood in the 16th century in Mexico and then transported to the Philippines in 1606. Initially placed in the church of San Giovanni Battista, the Black Nazarene was transferred to the church of Quiapo in 1787. The statue survived numerous disasters, such as the great fires that destroyed the church of Quiapo in 1791 and 1929 and the earthquakes in 1645 and 1863.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - A missionary: "There are no large highways for evangelization, but small paths that must be sought every day"

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 11:09
Kolowaré - "I had already visited some farms in the middle of the wooded savannah, behind Kadambara, towards the south a few days ago, where there is a pressing need for water", says to Agenzia Fides Father Silvano Galli of the Society for African Missions, talking about his recent mission experience. "You had to travel for about fifteen km to reach the places", he continues.
In the note sent to Fides, the missionary shares some features of daily life that he faces together with his collaborators: "There are no large highways for evangelization, but small paths that you must humbly look for every day. Yesterday morning, January 8, together with my collaborators we headed towards a completely different direction. We took the road that goes to Benin, then to Afadadè, for about ten km in the middle of the savannah. Occasionally there is a small village with its mosque. One in particular struck me: Elders, young people, women, children, everyone was there to welcome us, under a big tree. They are all Muslims. They are moved by the gesture we made: we came to visit them in their village, lost in the middle of nowhere. One by one they came to greet us". The head of the village then said: "I have no words to thank you, God alone will be able to do it and he will, and he will give you strength and health so that you can continue your mission".

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - Bishops appeal at the beginning of the year: let us stop war and violence, the result of intolerance and interests

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 10:37
Mexico City - The Bishops of Mexico launch an appeal "to stop the violence caused by the intolerance of ideas and the struggle of the interests with each other", in a message published on January 8 with the title "No to war and violence". "We cannot continue to accept, let alone promote political speeches that polarize humanity or incite violence - write the Bishops in their message, sent to Fides -. War always represents a defeat for humanity. Peace will always be an accessible horizon for all, based on international law, on solidarity between peoples and on mutual respect and respect for our common home.
At the beginning of the new year, the Mexican Bishops address the faithful and all men and women of goodwill with these words: "We are all witnesses to the delicate situation of uncertainty and violence that we live at a national and international level, especially in these early days of 2020. Our human family continues to bear signs of wars and conflicts between nations".
Quoting the Message of Pope Francis for the 53rd World Day of Peace, they continue: "As Pastors we cannot allow the degradation of hope in the face of the darkness of war and conflict, we must always pronounce ourselves so that humanity and nations exercise their right to honest dialogue and the noble exercise of diplomacy, as methods that safeguard the integrity and dignity of people".
In conclusion, the Bishops reaffirm, on behalf of the Church in Mexico, that "we will not walk along the path of violence and war, that history will judge with shame, knowing that a brother has raised his hand against his brother", and invoke the blessing of the God of peace and the intercession of Mary, mother of all peoples of the earth, to support us "on the hard path of reconciliation".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Cardinal Tagle: "Let us pray for peace in the Middle East"

Fides EN - - Gio, 09/01/2020 - 09:31
Manila - Cardinal Luis Antonio Cardinale, Archbishop of Manila, appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, urges the Filipino faithful to pray for the peace and security of peoples in the Middle East. In the solemn mass on the occasion of the Translacion of the Black Nazarene at Rizal Park, at dawn on January 9, an event that annually records a massive popular participation, the Cardinal called on the faithful to pray intensely so that "an escalation of revenge will not occur between the USA and Iran".
"We are concerned about what happens in some parts of our world. There is the danger that violence will degenerate into open conflict", said Tagle, urging: "Let us pray for the safety of our fellowmen in the Middle East, to dispel the desire to destroy one’s neighbor, to dispel the desire to take vengeance, and let us pray for our fellow Filipinos and their families here who are anxious".
Meanwhile, the Philippine government has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Filipino workers from Iraq and Iran because of hostilities between the United States and Iran. The government has raised the alert level in Iraq to the highest levels, requiring Filipinos to leave the country due to growing security risks.
According to Ministry of Labor records, 2,191 Filipinos work in Iraq, some of them in US facilities, while more than 1,180 reside in Iran, and among them there are Filipino women married to Iranians.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SYRIA - Putin and Assad visit the Greek Orthodox cathedral in Damascus

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 13:00
Damascus - On Tuesday 7 January, Russian President Vladimir Putin, visiting Damascus, went to the Greek Orthodox cathedral of the Syrian capital, together with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The two political leaders were greeted by Yohanna X Yazigi, Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Orthodox. During his visit, Putin brought a Marian icon as a gift.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Christian leaders in the ruling party: the new citizenship law is not inclusive and needs to be expanded

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 12:58
New Delhi - The controversial Citizenship Amendment Act , approved in India in December, discriminates against Muslims, is not inclusive and needs to be expanded: this is what a group of 15 between Catholic priests and Protestant Pastors say, who launched an appeal to the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata , to the government in the Indian Federation. Christian leaders met with the president of the party, J.P. Nadda together with the vice presidents, Dushyant Gautam and Tom Vadakkan.
As reported to Fides, Christian leaders expressed their disappointment regarding the new law, approved last month, which guarantees citizenship to Buddhist, Hindu, Jainist, Parsi and Sikh refugees, but not to Muslims fleeing persecution and coming from three Muslim-majority countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The measure has raised widespread national protests.
Speaking with Christian leaders, J.P. Nadda said that the BJP had also considered the persecution of Christians in the three predominantly Islamic neighboring countries, which is why the Christian community was also included.
Michael Williams, a Christian educator present at the meeting, told Fides: "All people are equal. Since all people are equal, any law must be based on the person and not on religion or other criteria. We are willing to welcome everyone with open arms". "We said that the CAA is an incomplete legislative act, if not all are included. And all of us Christians have agreed on this position", Williams points out.
The delegation pointed out to Nadda that the law was passed without any discussion in Parliament and without broad consensus, while "the discrimination of Muslims is not acceptable in a secular India: no law should discriminate". The group then reported to Nadda that there are other persecuted Muslim groups such as Ahmadiy and Rohingya that are targeted in neighboring countries.
Jesuit Father Denzil Fernandes, Director of the Indian Social Institute, among the Catholic priests present, said, as stated by the president, the BJP party believes it acted "to protect the persecuted minorities" and added to Fides: "We expressed our concern for the law. We said there are problems with the selective nature of the law and that every law should be neutral to religion. The law cannot be selective. There are also persecuted Burmese refugees. Any religion-based law is highly problematic. The law should be expanded".
There are 200 million Muslims in India, out of 1.3 billion Indian citizens.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Diocesan pilgrimage: women of the Catholic Church join forces to pray for peace in the Country

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 12:32
Yamoussoukro - "Catholic women in the face of politics". This is the theme on which the women of AFEC, the Association of Women of the Catholic Church of the Dioceses of Yamoussoukro and Agboville reflected on the pilgrimage of 4 January to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Paix in Yamoussoukro. This year's annual pilgrimage, in which elections that are causing fears of violence will be held, was aimed at asking God to watch over the Ivory Coast and to tame the hearts of politicians to work so that the elections are carried out peacefully.
In his reflection, His Exc. Mgr. Alexis Touably Youlo, Bishop of Agboville and Apostolic Administrator of Yamoussoukro, invited women to enter the political arena to put themselves at the service of society. "Being a woman is a grace, being a woman is an essential force in all areas. And this constituting force must be put at the service of the common good", he underlined, adding that "women have always been present in the political life of our nations and it is their right to engage in politics but in a serene, responsible and Christian way". Mgr. Alexis Touably Youlo, however, urged women engaged in politics "not to accept being exploited by their political leaders and to ensure that their political commitment does not damage their Christian faith".
Present at this pilgrimage, Father Pacôme N'dé Ndé, national chaplain of AFEC, welcomed the initiative of the Catholic women of Yamoussoukro and Agboville, inviting them to be missionaries of peace and to work for the autonomy of the Church.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - In the Jubilee of the Church in Ivory Coast, the jubilee of the Society for African Missions

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 12:19
Abidjan - The Catholic Church of the Ivory Coast celebrated 125 years of evangelization: the fathers of the Society for African Missions were pioneers for the missionary work in the country . Among the emblematic figures of the SMA fathers who marked the history of the evangelization in the country there is Fr. Paul Pageaud, originally from France. On January 5, 2020 Fr. Paul celebrated 60 years of priesthood, 40 of which spent as an SMA missionary in the Ivory Coast at the service of evangelization in this country. Engaged in the pastoral field, he gave birth to over 60 Christian communities and trained more than 120 catechists. Engaged in the formation of seminarians with the main objective of forming the local clergy, he built the preparatory seminar which to date has given the Church of the Ivory Coast 350-400 priests.
One of the projects promoted by the missionary, who marked the life of the Church in the nation, is the construction of the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Liberation: a work with a highly spiritual character and stature that welcomes 50,000 to 60,000 pilgrims every year.
"Considered one of the mystics of our time, Fr. Pageaud reconciled contemplation and action in the field of evangelization", writes his Ivorian confrere, Fr. Donald Zagore to Agenzia Fides. Now retired in France, "the missionary has been a blessing for the country in general and in particular for the Church in the Ivory Coast. For the younger generations of missionaries he remains a model to follow", says Fr. Zagore.

Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PUERTO RICO - The earth does not stop shaking, destruction and fear everywhere

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 12:10
Ponce - The land of the island of Puerto Rico continues to tremble due to a series of earthquakes that have taken place since the end of December, and the population sleeps outside their home, in cars or on the street. The cities of Ponce, Guanica and Guayanilla are almost all destroyed, even the capital itself, San Juan, has suffered numerous damage to public and private infrastructure. Puerto Rico is used to hurricanes, but not to earthquakes, and although only one dead person and many injured has been recorded, a first report of the assistance centers informs of the destruction of the main historical buildings of the island, including the parish of the Immaculate Conception of Guayanilla.
The editor of the El Visitante newspaper, Enrique Lopez, has sent a series of photos to Fides that give an idea of what happened: entire buildings and houses reduced to rubble, without walls or without the first floor because it collapsed, broken water pipes, national roads interrupted by landslides ... Such episodes, according to American agencies, had not been seen for a century. The first in the series of earthquakes that hit the island of Puerto Rico occurred on December 28, the second on January 6, while yesterday, January 7, another strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the island. In these days the earth has never stopped shaking, hundreds of small shocks have followed.
In these moments of fear, the Catholic community has come together to give comfort and assistance to the population. The parish of the Immaculate Conception in Guayanilla has collapsed. Nobody was injured, the tabernacle was rescued through the rubble.
Along the Caribbean Sea, in Guanica, the Dominican nuns of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, who are close to the epicenter, are frightened and particularly worried about the elderly sisters of the convent, who were forced to stay in the country tents set up in the street gardens.
Just over 2 years have passed since the island was plagued by the hurricane, and the population had managed to restore many damaged structures , but the phenomenon of earthquakes is not part of the culture of local disasters and people are not prepared to deal with them. There is currently no electricity or water in some cities, and restoring these services will not be as straightforward as when a hurricane passes.
According to the testimony of the missionaries and religious women, sent to Fides, there is still a positive spirit and a great faith in the population, although it is still not possible to identify the end of this natural disaster.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Archbishop Gualberti: "the right of citizenship to Jesus Christ must be restored"

Fides EN - - Mer, 08/01/2020 - 11:47
Santa Cruz de la Sierra - "Christians are facing the great challenge of giving back the right of citizenship to Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man for the good of all humanity, because his presence has transcendental importance in building a more human and fraternal world. It is an urgent and necessary task also in our country, before a clear emptiness of the human values of human and peaceful coexistence, and before the disavowal of the value of human life, which manifests itself in many cases of human trafficking, feminicide and infanticide". This was underlined by the Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Mgr. Sergio Gualberti, during the mass celebrated in the San Lorenzo Basilica, on the first Sunday of the new year.
In his homily, sent to Fides, the Archbishop cited the "horrendous crime" of a father who in the first days of the new year took the life of his four children and seriously injured his wife. "This problem belongs to all of society, so nobody can remain indifferent - he urged -. We must all act urgently and make extreme efforts to prevent these crimes and to form people's consciences in the sacred respect of every human life".
Mgr. Gualberti therefore stressed that in this task "education is called to play a fundamental role". "In schools and colleges we must clearly propose the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man, so that we can live as true children of God, as brothers who respect and love each other".
Commenting on the liturgy of the Sunday Word, Mgr. Gualberti invited us to deepen the mystery of incarnation in our life: "Being children of God is a treasure that we must value and for which we must feel immensely grateful. Gratitude that commits us to a life of deep faith and a living hope that pushes us to act, in every place and moment, in accordance with the dignity of children of God".
Therefore he invited us to sincerely recognize that "too often we too prefer darkness or worldliness ... We let ourselves be carried away by an indifferent to the supernatural world, which is independent of God and is built according to one's tastes and whims, the world of idols of pride , self-sufficiency, pleasure, power and fame. Worldliness is to reject God and light to opt for darkness, closing the doors to God as they closed them to Jesus in Bethlehem: 'there was no place for them in the hotel'."
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/NEW ZEALAND - Appointment of the auxiliary Bishop of Auckland

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 13:53
Vatican City - On 6 January 2020, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Michael Andrew Gielen of the clergy of Hamilton, auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Auckland , currently Director for the formation in the Holy Cross National Seminary, in Auckland, assigning him the titular see of Abbir Maggiore.
Rev. Michael Andrew Gielen was born in Cambridge, in the Diocese of Hamilton, on June 2, 1971. From 1992 to 1997 he studied Philosophy and Theology at the University of Otago . From 2005 to 2007 he completed his Master in Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in the United States. From 2012 to 2014 he obtained a licentiate in spiritual theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University . He was ordained a priest on November 29, 1997.
Since his ordination, he has held the following positions: Assistant priest in St. Mary's Star of the Sea parish, Gisborne, Diocese of Hamilton ; Member of the Presbyteral Council, Diocese of Hamilton ; President of the Gisborne Ministers Association, Diocese of Hamilton ; Parish priest of St. Columba, Frankton, and in the Holy Name parish, Raglan, Diocese of Hamilton ; Specialization studies in the United States ; Parish priest of St. Thomas More, Mt. Maunganui, and St. Patrick, Te Puke, diocese of Hamilton ; Director of vocations for the Diocese of Hamilton ; Member of the Presbyteral Council and of the College of Consultors, Diocese of Hamilton ; Dean of the Pacifìc Moana Deanery, Diocese of Hamilton ; Studies in Rome ; since 2014, Director of formation in the Holy Cross National Seminary in Auckland.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Explosion on the border with Cameroon causes 30 deaths

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 13:47
Abuja - An explosion ripped through a crowded market on a bridge on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon on Monday, January 6, killing at least 30 people and injuring many others.
According to the Cameroonian authorities, the explosion was not due to a terrorist attack but to the imprudence of some young people who were trying to sell an unexploded grenade found fortuitously. Officials are investigating the origins of the explosive device, but it is certainly either from the military fighting Boko Haram extremists in the region or from the Islamic extremist group itself.
Among the killings attributed to Boko Haram, which occurred recently in the state of Borno, there is that of a couple who were about to get married, Martha Bulus and her partner. According to Fr. Francis Arinse, Director of the Social Communications of the diocese of Maiduguri, on December 26 the couple together with other people was traveling from Maiduguri to the wedding venue, scheduled for December 31, when they were intercepted by a group of terrorists near Gwoza. The future bride, spouse and their relatives and friends were beheaded on the spot by the men of Boko Haram.
Arinse recalled that there had been a series of kidnappings in the area. Press sources reported that the Islamic State group had released a video on December 26 showing the beheading of 10 Christians. The Islamic State said the beheadings are the response to the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi in Syria in late October.
The Nigerian authorities raised the alert after the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Al Qods brigades of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in Iraq on 3 January.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DRC - Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo denounces a plan for the balkanization of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 13:34
Kinshasa - "The general climate in the eastern part of the Country is characterized by insecurity and unbearable misery. The report clearly shows that the goal of all this is the balkanization of our Country", said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, during a press conference held in Kinshasa on Friday 3 January 2020, in which he illustrated his pastoral visit to the diocese of Butembo-Beni in North Kivu from 27 to 31 December 2019 .
Cardinal Ambongo went to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the invitation of His Exc. Mgr. Melchizedek Paluku Sikuli, Bishop of the diocese of Butembo-Beni. During the visit, the Cardinal communicated Pope Francis’ message of support to the local populations, and to all the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This pastoral concern goes hand in hand with the message sent to the Cardinal by the deputies of this part of the Country and by the members of the Nande community who live in Kinshasa, who had previously visited him.
Daily massacres, rapes, kidnappings, displacements of populations and other gruesome details characterize the climate of insecurity, according to the Cardinal's observation. At least 5 priests have been kidnapped and of whom there is no news. The Cardinal deplored the silence and indifference of the rest of the Country on what is happening in the east, and stigmatized the ambiguity of the international community in the face of this situation that has lasted for decades.
Finally, Cardinal Ambongo invited the UN Mission in the DRC to review the management of its operations, given that some massacres took place a few meters from the deployments of the Blue Helmets.
"The country is at war! And for this reason, there must be national awareness. However, despite this desolate image, we remain confident".
The thesis of balkanization is confirmed by the fact that displaced populations are systematically replaced by Rwandan and Ugandan groups, said Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo. The Cardinal expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis who closely follows the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and who often prays for this Country and said he was confident of the support of the Catholic Church throughout the world and of the collaboration of the Episcopal Conferences of the neighboring countries, so that peace can be achieved in the eastern part of the DRC.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Card. Brenes asks to continue to work for the release of all political prisoners and for peace

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 13:11
Managua - An invitation to "those with social and political influence" to continue to work to ensure that all "people deprived of their freedom" are released in 2020, was addressed by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, on the feast of the Epiphany, on January 6th. He also asked the authorities and groups of power to start working for peace and to stop "disqualifying others". "I hope they continue to make their efforts so that this year 2020 our prisons can be freed from those people who are deprived of their freedom", said Cardinal Brenes immediately after the Eucharist celebrated in the Jesus Sacramenteto parish in Managua. "I believe that what we are lacking is the sense of unity as a nation; there is no country project. The problem exists because we have no love for the country, for our country", he concluded.
Epiphany, as a Catholic feast, is deeply felt among the Nicaraguan population, Mgr. Rolando Álvarez, Bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, in the celebration in his diocese, underlined that the sense of unity of Nicaragua is found in the people: "The unity of Nicaragua has already begun in the people, because it is the Nicaraguan people to make its history, we must not wait for unity to come from outside, it is the people who must continue to strengthen the bonds of unity".
The situation of political prisoners in Nicaragua continues to be tense. After the release of a group of 91 political prisoners by the government just before the end of 2019, the threats against peasant, union and university leaders not only continued but actually increased.
Many of the "released" political prisoners denounced the constant persecution and aggression of the military groups against them: writings painted on the walls of their houses, firing overnight in front of houses, with the presence of military cars.
According to the note sent to Fides, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has asked for special protective measures for more than 15 people who have been arrested in an attempt to bring humanitarian aid to relatives of political prisoners on hunger strike .
Although the precise number of political prisoners still in prison is unknown, the testimony of those released on the evening of December 30th underlines the apostolic Nuncio's commitment, with perseverance, discretion and insistence, to the release of political prisoners as established at start of dialogues with the government. "The Nuncio never gave up, never stopped insisting on what had been agreed and accepted, freeing all political prisoners", said José Adán Aguerri, a member of the Civic Alliance speaking to a local radio. Comment that he also wrote on Twitter on 30 December 2019: "Today we are full of hope. Thank God they are freeing political prisoners. A special recognition to the Apostolic Nuncio for his participation in this effort".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - Al Sisi at the vigil of Coptic Christmas: "If we love God, we must love each other"

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 12:53
Cairo - "Let us continue in an honorable way, in a time without honor, and we believe that God will make honorable people victorious". Thus Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi expressed himself in his speech before Patriarch Tawadros and bishops, priests, religious and the multitude of faithful gathered in the Cathedral dedicated to the Nativity, in the new administrative capital of Egypt, on the occasion of his participation at the Christmas vigil, celebrated by the Coptic Church on the evening of Monday 6 January.
For six years, the Egyptian President has been attending the Christmas vigil liturgy celebrated by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch. This circumstance, again this year, provided al Sisi with the opportunity to express considerations addressed not only to the Coptic community, but to the whole nation, with words of patriotic inspiration and calls on all Egyptians to overcome divisions and make common front against pitfalls from outside. "As long as we are united", said the Egyptian President, "we should not worry, and we should only take care of those around us". The political leader also stressed that "if we love God, we must love each other, and we must not allow anyone to sow discord among us". Referring to the tensions and conflicts in the Middle Eastern region, al Sisi also pointed out that Egypt could have been pulled into devastating crises, as has happened and is happening in other nations in the area. "But as long as we are united", added the Egyptian President - "no one can drag us into such situations".
After his speech, and before leaving the liturgical assembly, the Egyptian President offered Pope Tawadros II a bouquet of flowers on behalf of all Egyptians, greeting him before leaving mass.
The new Coptic cathedral dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus is located in the urban area 45 km from Cairo destined to become the new administrative capital of Egypt. Representatives of the Sunni University of al Azhar and numerous Egyptian government representatives also took part in the liturgy, including Premier Mostafa Madbouly.
The same cathedral, officially inaugurated last year , also wants to represent a symbol of the political strategy with which al Sisi intends to ensure the solidarity of the Coptic Church to itself and to its political project. The current Egyptian Presidency contributed directly with 100 thousand Egyptian pounds to the first financing of the huge urban works. According to the Egyptian leader, the new place of worship represents "a message for Egypt and for the whole world". Egyptian media present the new Coptic cathedral as "the largest church in the Middle East". The architectural design of the cathedral, faithful to the Coptic tradition, wants to recall the profile of Noah's Ark, and thus re-propose the image of the Church as a "boat" of salvation that sails through the hardships of history, towards the heavenly destination of Paradise.
In the urban plan of the new administrative capital, al Sisi wanted to include the construction of the largest mosque in the Country, with the aim of presenting the cathedral and mosque as symbols of coexistence and national unity.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - The Bible at the center of the Church's mission

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 12:16
Dhaka - "As baptized, we have the responsibility to preach the message of God, keeping the Word of God in our hearts and bringing it into our lives": says to Agenzia Fides Mgr. James Romen Boiragi, bishop of the diocese of Khulna and President of the Commission for Catechesis and Biblical Apostolate, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh.
Underlining the centrality of the Bible in the mission of the Church, Bishop James Romen Boiragi explained: "The message of God present in the Bible must be preached with our lives, bearing witness of faith with life and behavior. If we allow ourselves to always be guided by referring to the Bible, every believer would become a living Bible, with great benefit for evangelization".
The Bishop recalled the theme of the recent day of the Bible, celebrated last December "Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path" and proposed it again as a leitmotif of the path of evangelization of the Church in Bangladesh for 2020.
And he said: "In this new year let us ask the Catholics of Bangladesh to know and deepen their responsibilities as baptized, who are sent to announce the Good News, according to the Bible. May the Bible become our light, make our life divine: this is my prayer".
Father Ripon Anthony D'Rozario, Tejgaon's parish priest in Dhaka, also involved in the biblical apostolate in the country, said that Catholics should take care of the Holy Bible: "I have noticed that in many houses there is a Bible, but we do not read it often. I invite everyone to read the Bible every day because it is the Word of God and spiritual food for us". Proshanto Gomes, a lay Catholic, told Fides that "with the reading of the Bible, God stays with me. I spend my days with the God’s blessings"
The Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and the Biblical Apostolate is committed to promoting, in all the dioceses of Bangladesh, the Biblical apostolate, assisting and collaborating in the preparation and dissemination of catechetical and biblical materials in the local languages by providing the training of catechists and teachers of Catholic religion.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Jos

Fides EN - - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 11:30
Vatican City - On 6 January 2020, the Holy Father appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Jos His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Ishaya Audu, currently Bishop of Lafia.
His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Ishaya Audu was born on June 7, 1959 in Tudu Uku, in the Diocese of Makurdi. After attending the St. James Minor Seminary in Keffi, he completed his philosophical and theological studies at the St. Augustine Major Seminary in Jos. He was ordained a priest on June 23, 1984, for the clergy of Makurdi.
Since his ordination he has held the following positions: Vice parish priest in Keffi ; Vice parish priest in Lafia ; Parish priest in Nasarawa ; studies in Moral Theology in Rome at the Institute of Moral Theology of the Pontifical Lateran University, Licentiate ; Professor of Moral Theology and Vice-Rector of the Major Seminary of S. Thomas Aquinas, Makurdi ; in Rome, for a Degree in Moral Theology at the Alfonsianum . From June to December 2000, with the departure of the Rector of the Seminary for a sabbatical year, he was Acting Rector of the Major Seminary of S. Thomas Aquinas, Makurdi. Elected first Bishop of Lafia on December 5, 2000, he received episcopal Ordination on March 31, 2001.
Categorie: From the church