ASIA/MALAYSIA - A Bishop in the National Unity Plan Committee, "to build harmony and the common good"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 09/09/2020 - 13:02
Kuching - "I live this appointment as a service to the common good to help the government promote peace, harmony, understanding, solidarity and work for development": as Agenzia Fides learns, with these words the Archbishop of Kuching, Msgr. Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng, welcomed the appointment as member of the special Federal Committee for National Unity Action Plan . The Archbishop is one of the 20 representatives of Sarawak, the only state of the Federation of Malaysia that is of Christian majority. The special Government Committee, made up of leaders of civil society, politicians, prominent personalities in the world of culture and religion, has the task of assisting and supporting the Ministry of National Unity in its action to strengthen the harmony among citizens in Malaysian, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. The Committee is in line with the government's aspiration to consolidate national unity as the foundation of Malaysia's economy, politics and social stability.
The Malaysian government recently launched a special popular poll among citizens to collect opinions on the National Unity Action Plan , with the aim of collecting contributions and ideas to apply the principles of "Rukun Negara" and with the intention of having suggestions on programs, initiatives and activities suitable for promoting unity. The document of "Rukun Negara" is the declaration of the philosophy behind the nation, approved since the proclamation of "National Day" in 1970. Mgr. Seng was, alongside government officials, responsible of NGOs, heads of associations, among those who participated in the launch and illustrated the aims and objectives of the popular survey: the intention is to involve civil society as much as possible, with a capillary action so that the "Plan for unity" is not perceived as "lowered from above", but becomes a real expression of a popular will.
Sarawak is the largest state in the Federation of Malaysia. Located on Malaysian Borneo, it covers an area almost equal to that of Peninsular Malaysia. The capital, Kuching, Sarawak's largest city, is the economic center of the state and the seat of government of the Sarawak state. It is a state characterized by ethnic, cultural and linguistic and religious pluralism. The main ethnic groups are Iban, Malay, Chinese, Melanau, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu. Sarawak's population was 2.6 million . Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia where Christians are more numerous than Muslims . Other religious communities profess Buddhism, Hinduism, traditional cults or animists.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - "No to violence and yes to peace": appeal by African Bishops a year after Pope Francis' visit

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 09/09/2020 - 12:40
Rome - Peace, Hope and Reconciliation. These are the key words of the visit made by Pope Francis a year ago in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, from 4 to 10 September 2019 , recalls the message published for the anniversary by the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar .
"For Pope Francis, everything is lost with war and everything is gained with peace. He said: "With war, many men, women and children suffer because they have no home to live in, no food, no schools to educate themselves, hospitals to treat their health, Churches to meet for prayer and fields to employ the labour force. Many thousands of people are forced to move in search of security and the means to survive...No to violence and yes to peace!", says the message sent to Fides.
For the Holy Father - continues the message - peace is not only the absence of war but the tireless commitment - especially of those in a position of greater responsibility - to recognise, guarantee and concretely rebuild the dignity, so often forgotten or ignored, of our brothers and sisters, so that they can feel that they are the main protagonists of the destiny of their nation and continent".
The African Bishops recall that "Pope Francis insisted that in order to make reconciliation possible it is necessary to overcome times of division and violence, of xenophobia and tribalism. In this connection, we need to take up the challenge of welcoming and protecting migrants who arrive in search of work and in search of better living conditions for their families, of defending the ecumenical and interreligious meetings and finding ways to promote collaboration among all – Christians, traditional religions, Muslims – for a better future for Africa".
"A year has passed since the memorable visit of Pope Francis to Africa. Indeed, the warmth of his presence and the richness of his messages are still felt by good-hearted people. Nevertheless, brutal acts of violence are still being witnessed in different African Countries, including one of those the Holy Father visited last year ", reads the conclusion. "In an address to the people of the Country on the occasion of the first anniversary of the historic visit, the Bishops of Mozambique said: "The Holy Father has left us a message of encouragement, animation and guidance for our present situation. This message requires of us a strong, continuous and renewed commitment towards its realisation".
"Therefore, we hereby repeat the call of Pope Francis that; all of us must continuously say ‘no to violence and yes to peace’; all must join hands to end poverty and all must be actively involved in caring for our common home. We thank Pope Francis, messenger of hope, herald of peace and advocate of reconciliation", concludes the message.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CUBA - For the first time the media have broadcast the religious feast of the Virgin of Charity

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 09/09/2020 - 11:47
Havana - Cuban television broadcast the solemn Eucharist in honor of the Virgin of Charity, Patroness of Cuba, celebrated yesterday morning, September 8, in her sanctuary in El Cobre, a town near the city of Santiago de Cuba. Up to now religious events have never been broadcast by the government media in Cuba, so this gesture is considered to be the beginning of a new era.
The mass, presided over by Archbishop Dionisio García of Santiago de Cuba, was broadcast in the evening by one of the national channels of Cuban television, in a spirit of collaboration between the Church and the State, so that the religious rite could reach the largest number of faithful during the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The Prelate himself had explained last week that the celebrations planned for the feast of the Virgin would be adapted to preventive measures due to the epidemic. Only a small group of faithful attended mass in the Basilica of El Cobre.
Even the provincial radios have been broadcasting the prayers of the Bishops of each diocese since last Sunday, as an act of veneration of the Virgin of Charity, who every year for her feast sees the gathering of thousands of Cubans devoted to their Patroness Saint.
Known among Cubans as the 'Virgin Mambisa', as she was venerated by the fighters for Cuban independence, who according to history brought her image to the battlefields, she was proclaimed Patroness of Cuba by Pope Benedict XV in 1916.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Pandemic and violence in Cape Delgado: the solidarity of the Bishops of southern Africa

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 09/09/2020 - 11:34
Maputo - "The violence, loss of life and the reality of displaced persons currently unfolding in the Province of Cabo Delgado in the North of Mozambique concerns us deeply", say the Members of the Standing Committee of IMBISA in a message of solidarity to the faithful of the region, shocked by the COVID-19 emergency and specifically of Cabo Delgado due to the violence of the jihdists of the "Central African Province of the Islamic State" .
The people live in fear, not just of COVID-19, but the violence that is frequently visited upon them", says the message sent to Fides, signed by His Exc. Mgr. Lucio Andrice Muandula, Bishop of Xai-Xai, President of IMBISA and published at the end of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the organization.
"We also wish, following the good example of Pope Francis, to express our closeness and support to Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Pemba Diocese, Mozambique, and the people of Cabo Delgado. We invite you to pray that efforts for peace may yield the desired fruits in that beautiful land. Recalling the motto of last year’s Papal visit to Mozambique, "Hope, Reconciliation and Peace", we request you to pray unceasingly that peace may become a reality in Cabo Delgado Province. Signs of hope in this direction are already present, which is most encouraging, as witnessed by the meeting of President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Bishop Luiz", the message states, referring to the meeting of 31 August between the Mozambican Head of State and His Exc. Mgr. Luis Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. The meeting made it possible to overcome a difficult two-week phase of increasing tension between the Church and the State.
The pandemic has disrupted the social and economic life of the IMBISA member countries. "The novel COVID-19 pandemic has caused deep spiritual, social, psychological, economic and medical damage to many of our people", underline the Bishops. "Eucharistic celebrations have had to be cancelled or at least attended by a few, catechism lessons suspended, attendance at funerals limited and a reduced physical contact between the Church’s ministers and the faithful. The protocols concerning COVID-19 have meant that many schools, places of work and other facilities for the development of persons have remained closed". "This has affected the mental health of many people and has increased the incidence of many forms of domestic violence. The disruption to economic activity has caused loss of livelihoods which in turn may lead to loss of lives caused by hunger and other social problems. All the countries in IMBISA, already struggling economically, remain with very poor medical infrastructure".
The message concludes by renewing the invitation to pray for the end of the pandemic and asking governments to avoid the temptation of corruption and instead give the necessary assistance to populations in difficulty.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - "Despite the adversity, we will not leave!" video message of hope from missionaries around the world

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mer, 09/09/2020 - 11:17
Madrid - Faced with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the missionary Church shows its unanimous will to remain on mission, among the people. The Pontifical Mission Societies of Spain are launching an international video in which missionaries from all over the world and representatives of the local Churches of mission territories join their voices to send a message of hope to the world. This video, an initiative of various national Directions of the Pontifical Mission Societies, invites to "warm up the engines" on the way to World Mission Day, which will take place on 18 October around the world.
"The world has changed and everything seems uncertain ... Lives have changed ...". Thus begins the video #WeAreStilHere , which shows various missionaries and representatives of mission territories in a united way. "But let us tell you one thing: one thing is certain. We will not leave", it continues. "We will not give up, because we are missionaries. With God there nothing is impossible". They therefore conclude with an invitation to participate in their work.
The video collects the testimonies of leaders of ecclesiastical circumscriptions of mission territories, such as Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon , or the Spanish Jesuit Kike Figaredo, Apostolic Prefect of Battambang , and of missionaries of various nationalities. Among these is Spanish Father José María Cantal Rivas, who works in interreligious dialogue in Algeria; Sister Veronika, a Croatian missionary who is in the Solomon Islands, with the Buma community; Fr Anton, Maltese missionary in Guatemala, parish priest in the rainforest; Sister Francise, an Irish missionary in Pakistan, who works among the most marginalized in society.
Using different languages that show the universality of the Church - English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Maltese, Swahili, Korean, Tagalog, Burmese ... - the missionaries send a single message: fidelity to the mission, even in adverse moments like the ones we are experiencing. "To have a mission is to love. And love makes it all possible. And that is why we will continue here".

Link correlati :The watch the video:
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The National Director of the PMS: "The recognition of the legal personality of the Church is a step forward for a fruitful collaboration"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 13:24
Ouagadougou - "I am very happy because the Church has seen its legal personality recognized", says to Agenzia Fides Don Isidore Sola Nombrè, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Burkina Faso following the entry into force of the Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Burkina Faso on the legal status of the Catholic Church in Burkina Faso. According to the press release from the Vatican Press Office "on 7 September 2020, through an official communication from the Embassy of Burkina Faso to the Holy See, the procedure for the exchange of the Instruments of Ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Burkina Faso was completed on the legal status of the Catholic Church in Burkina Faso, signed in the Vatican on July 12, 2019".
"The aforementioned Agreement - continues the press release - "entered into force today in accordance with its article 18, guarantees the Church the possibility of carrying out its mission in Burkina Faso. In particular, the public juridical personality of the Church and its institutions is recognized". "I have not read the text of the agreement. I have only seen the press information", Don Isidore points out, "but I would like to underline the importance of recognizing the legal personality of the Church, thanks to which, for example, you will be able to defend yourself in a court if and when it is necessary. This will allow us to solve various problems we have encountered in our activities".
"Another important point established by the agreement is the principle of collaboration between State and Church that will be fruitful", continues the National Director of the PMS of Burkina Faso. "We are thinking only of collaboration in the field of education and health. Catholic schools and health facilities can now have state support, allowing more and more destitute people to have access to them", he stresses.
"We thank the Holy Father and all his collaborators for reaching the Agreement and also for having given us a new Nuncio who is taking office in these days", concludes Don Isidore.
The new Nuncio is His Exc. Mgr. Michael Francis Crotty, appointed by Pope Francis on 1 February.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Protests by Bishops and Caritas for violence against humanitarian workers

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 12:47
Caracas - The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela and Caritas Venezuela "firmly reject the violation of the rights and deprivation of freedom of humanitarian workers of the Accion Solidaria organization" and denounce "the non-transparent procedure adopted to search the headquarters of this NGO", which is dedicated to the distribution of medicines and medical aid to people affected by the crisis that the country has been experiencing for some time. Yesterday afternoon, 7 September, the Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales , known as the "political police" of Maduro’s regime, broke into the NGO headquarters in Caracas and arrested some humanitarian workers.
In the text of the note, sent to Fides, it is emphasized that "these actions constrain the operational freedom of humanitarian workers in the country and make them the target of persecution and threats". The Bishops and Caritas therefore ask the State, "to preserve the life and physical integrity of the community throughout the national territory", "not to criminalize activities that are inspired by humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law, and not to hit the assets intended to mitigate requests for help in the areas of health, food, water and other services essential for the life of over 7 million vulnerable people in the country". Finally, they ask for "total clarity" on this specific situation that affects Accion Solidaria and worries all human rights defenders in the country.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Christians and Muslims united to celebrate and act in the "Season of Creation"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 12:42
Puerto Princesa - In the spirit of building the common good together, Christian and Muslim volunteers come together to celebrate and live the "Season of Creation", announced by Pope Francis, which began on September 3, and will last in the Philippines until October 11th. Among the initiatives implemented, reported to Agenzia Fides, there is that of cleaning up the coast of a coastal village in Puerto Princesa City, on the island of Palawan, in the central Philippines. The Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa, led by Bishop Socrates Mesiona, welcomed, supported and promoted the initiative as the local Church wanted to make its own contribution of awareness and action during the "Season of Creation". "It is the task of all to take care of our common home", he said, denouncing "the throwaway culture of today's society". "We have different religions and different beliefs - says the Bishop in the note sent to Fides - but we live in the same world. We are all called to make the spirituality of the protection of creation ours, which is the work of God".
Hadji Arturo "Abdulaziz" Suizo, Muslim leader of Puerto Princesa, agreed that "Islam gives great importance to the cause of safeguarding creation. By protecting it, we protect future generations", he said.
Focused on the theme "A Jubilee for the Earth", the Season of Creation stands out in the Philippines for the involvement of over 70 civil society associations and interreligious groups, including Muslim faithful. In this context, the community of Palawan, with Christian and Muslim people, will also have a tree planting activity on Irawan Mountain, after the Vicariate promoted the planting of 10,000 trees in the protected reserve of Mount Mantalingahan last year.
The planting activity also affects other provinces, such as that of the island of Bohol, where the local Church has promoted the planting of over 60 thousand saplings. Mgr. Pablo Virgilio David di Kalookan, interim president of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, asked all dioceses and parishes to "take the initiative to integrate the campaign for the protection of creation in all the ministries and pastoral apostolate fields of the Church", noting that "it is never too late to act for the care of the common home", in the spirit of Laudato Sì.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - One month of the presidential elections, a conference on "prevention and peaceful management of conflicts"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 12:08
Abidjan - "Prevention and peaceful management of conflicts", is the theme of the conference held on 6 September at Notre Dame de la Tendresse de la Riviera Golf parish in the archdiocese of Abidjan, organized by the parish priest and his pastoral council.
According to the organizers, the holding of this conference-debate one month before the electoral deadlines in the Ivory Coast, intends to make the Church an actor of reconciliation in a delicate moment, given that the electoral years in Africa in general and in the Ivory Coast in particular are marked by cycles of controversy, violence, aggression and often inhuman acts against which the Church, actor and protagonist of social life, cannot remain silent.
"We faithful Catholics are a force; because the human values we are talking about, that must govern society to reduce conflicts are in fact those that Mother Church teaches us and therefore talking about them is not being outside the Church but the opposite", said Thérèse N'Diaye, 1st vice president of the pastoral council parish church of Notre Dame de la Tendresse de la Riviera Golf explaining the reasons for the conference.
Should the laity take part in crisis management? Why are Christians very often silent in the face of violence and why do we not actively participate in crisis management? And finally, what do Christian laity need to better understand and assume their responsibilities in the face of crises and conflicts? Many questions were answered in the contribution of the speakers.
Speaking first on the "prevention and peaceful management of conflicts" with regard to biblical texts and the social doctrine of the Church, Fr. Charles Koua, Vicar of the parish of Notre Dame de la Tendresse de la Riviera, said that conflict "is a natural fact inherent to life in society; in this sense, conflict is inevitable, it cannot be removed forever".
Fr. Koua cited as examples of conflicts in the Bible, from the Old to the New Testament and among the most eminent people including "Abraham, Sarah and his servant Hagar, Joseph and his brothers, Elijah the prophet and King Ahaz. . ." to emphasize that "these conflicts are due to injustices, to problems that arose at a given moment for which it was necessary to react effectively". "Conflict cannot escape the life of a Christian, who therefore must react by providing solutions, because peace is a necessity for Christians". Fr. Koua recalled the means of crisis management such as negotiation and arbitration.
"In the book of Leviticus, on receiving the Word of God Moses describes the procedures when there is a conflict between Israelites, between a man and a woman, and between a Jew and a non-Jew. This is also what is translated in the New Testament, precisely in the Gospel of St. Matthew, that part that we have called the speech on community life: if you have something against your brother, first go and reconcile with him and then reconcile with God".
Adeline Touali, expert in conflict management, stressed that "conflict management is a daily action through concrete acts, each of us is responsible for peace; it is not only the prerogative of politicians, it requires everyone's involvement through tools such as maintaining always the level of communication even when it seems difficult, to be able to listen actively and finally to avoid judging on the basis of prejudices".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - Bishops call on social media to preach hope

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 11:06
Lilongwe - "The Catholic Church in Malawi seriously believes that in compliance with the severe containment measures of Covid-19, including social distancing, Christians must continue to evangelize also through social media" said Fr. Godino Phokoso, national communications coordinator of the Bishops' Conference of Malawi , on the occasion of the meeting of the Catholic Women Organization in Lilongwe.
"In a health context like the current one - continues the priest - social media should be useful to allow us to spread the Gospel, inspiring trust and hope among believers in a new recovery of the country while the government and institutions continue to fight the Coronavirus pandemic".
Christians must be considered fundamental partners of the government in responding to natural disasters, such as the current health and environmental emergencies, highlights the bishops' note.
"We will use all the resources at our disposal to help vulnerable groups respond to Covid-19. We want to appeal to Christians and people of good will to support our cause", said Lucy Vokhiwa, executive member of the CWO, and added that the organization is mobilizing resources to support the most vulnerable groups.
The ECM urged Christians to see social media as a means of spreading messages of hope and not a platform for promoting fake news.
The meeting, held at Luntha Television Chapel, saw the participation of all the Catholic dioceses of Malawi, and is part of the activities organized by the CWO as part of the celebration of the next World Mission Day 2020.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - In the Week of Peace, new complaints on the violation of human rights in Chocó

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 10:49
Quibdò - The department of Chocó is one of the Colombian territories most affected by the scourge of violence . The Bishops of the dioceses of Quibdó, Istmina-Tadó and Apartadó, together with the social and ethnic-territorial organizations, have published a new statement in which they once again denounce "the difficult moment we are experiencing due to the systematic denial of rights and violation of international humanitarian law". In the context of the Week of Peace, which is celebrated in Colombia from 6 to 13 September, they denounce the effects "that the lack of State presence causes on our people and on the territory, the increase in attacks by armed groups and the corruption that slows down the community development".
They therefore express solidarity "with the brothers and sisters of our territories and other regions of Colombia", who are plagued by the assassinations and intimidation of leaders, women leaders and communities, by the recruitment of minors, by the installation of anti-personnel mines, by exploitation of young people and women, imprisonment, kidnapping, extortion, targeted assassinations, displacement, loss of community autonomy and territorial disputes for economic and political interests.
Faced with this dramatic situation, "we will continue the task of accompanying the communities to make them feel the closeness of civil society - they reiterate -. Despite the multiple attacks of the violent and the silence and exclusion of the State, we will let them know that they are not alone and that they have someone who listens to them and defends them". They therefore announce that as from September the missions of continuous humanitarian monitoring, accompanying and verification within the territories will resume, "to listen, document and make visible the various situations that hinder the effective enjoyment of the rights of the communities". Finally, they will support the "Pact for Life and Peace", which will be signed on 10 September 2020, which "will be like an instrument that gathers our thinking and our transformative actions".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Catholic hospitals treat patients with ventilators donated by the Holy See

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 08/09/2020 - 10:24
Dhaka - "Pope Francis has sent a ventilator for the intensive care unit as a gift. It is a blessing for us. It will be very useful for assisting coronavirus patients": says to Agenzia Fides Father Kamal Corraya, Executive Director of the St. John Vianney Hospital of Tejgaon in Dhaka. Father Kamal says: "We are receiving reports of coronavirus patients. Our medical team provides advice over the phone to people infected with Covid-19, following isolated patients at home".
The Holy See sent three ventilators to Bangladesh to support the fight against the coronavirus: one was sent to St. John Vinney Hospital, two others were sent to two Catholic hospitals in Dinajpur and Jessore.
The "invisible enemy" of Covid-19 has also hit Bangladesh: "During this pandemic - notes Director Kamal - St. John Vianney Hospital has done its best to help infected people who suffer. Thanks to the agreements reached with the Health Department of the Government of Bangladesh, our hospital collects samples of coronavirus and sends them for tests to the Institute of epidemiology, control and research of diseases. Our doctors keep in touch with Covid-19 positive patients and advise them, motivate them and provide them with the necessary instructions. It is a great support especially for the poorest. Over the past few months we have collected samples for hundreds of people and have provided and continue to carry out tests regularly. We are about to open a new operating room which will soon be fully active. Our hospital is open and provides medical care to anyone who requests it".
Dr Edwaed Pallab Rozario, a Catholic doctor at St. John Vianney hospital, tells Fides that "the gift of the Holy See is a blessing and is really precious for the small Christian community in Bangladesh. It is a great help for our hospital. We are grateful to the Pope for his generous gift". Patients also express gratitude: "When I learned that the Holy Father sent ventilators I felt happiness and hope", said to Fides Tapu Corraya, a Catholic from Dhaka, who was infected with Covid-19 and recovered.
The hospital has been active since November 2019, when Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka, inaugurated it in the presence of the civil and religious authorities. It is located in one of the busiest areas of the city and near the Holy Rosary Catholic Church, which has about 15,000 faithful, including local Catholics and migrants. On April 29, the facility was temporarily closed and all the staff were placed in self-quarantine after 22 medical staff tested positive for Covid-19. Subsequently, after the emergency phase, it fully resumed its activity, without serious consequences
In Bangladesh the Catholic Church manages 12 hospitals, 78 dispensaries, 6 leper hospitals, 15 assisted residences for the elderly and disabled.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MACAO - From family to family: Claretian missionaries launch an initiative to feed the needy, inspired by Mother Teresa

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 13:28
Macao - The Claretian missionaries have given life to an initiative to feed the needy in Macao, inspired by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the saint who did so much for the poor and dispossessed in India. As Fides has learned, the initiative - launched on 5 September, the day the Church remembers the Saint - was entitled Mother's meal ". To inaugurate it, missionaries and volunteers distributed a survival food kit to 50 migrant families, particularly affected in time of Covid-19.
Father Jijo Kandamkulathy, an Indian Claretian, one of the founders of the "Mother's Meal program, organized the distribution of the kit to supplement food supplies to vulnerable and destitute families. The parcels were prepared thanks to a collection made in recent weeks from wealthy families. The idea of the "Mother's Meal" is, in fact, to involve families who can afford to support another family in difficulty and offer to provide constant help for a year.
Also Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang of Macao, appreciating the initiative, wanted to contribute by giving financial assistance, to allow families to survive in times of pandemic. "Each of these families is selected on the basis of their socio-economic difficulties. They deserve our support", remarked Terry, a lay volunteer, coordinator of the project.
Father George Kannanthanam, the Claretian and Director of Mother's Meal, said: "Let's take Mother Teresa as an example: if we can't feed 100 people, we can feed at least one person. Mother's Meal is the realization of Mother Teresa’s dream". "The Mother's Meal movement intends to guarantee food in every family facing the economic crisis due to the impact of the coronavirus", he said.
The "Mother's Meal" movement was already launched in India on July 16, 2020, on the occasion of the 50th year of Claretian presence in India. It was subsequently extended to 1,000 families in various Indian states, favoring families with disabilities and the terminally ill, as well as widows and the elderly without any support. "Mother's Meal was born precisely to be a support for the most vulnerable families struggling to survive. There are also many in Macau and we wish to extend it further, in other countries of the world", said Fr. Kannanthanam.
According to Sibu George, coordinator of the program in India, there are already new requests to activate it in Sri Lanka and in African countries.
The idea of engaging in the "Mother's Meal" initiative was discussed and approved by Claretians after the NGO "Oxfam" claimed that up to 12,000 people could die every day from Covid-19-induced hunger.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA - Covid-19 and educational emergency: collaboration between governments and the private sector is urgently needed to support families

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 13:19
Bangkok - The Covid-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on education systems globally. According to UNICEF, the effects of the pandemic have affected more than 1.5 billion students globally, and 1 billion students have not yet had the opportunity to return to school. School closures have had a profound impact on the learning pathways and young students across the globe, and it is estimated that about 430 million children, teens and young people in South Asia have had no access to distance learning. The educational emergency has hit the most fragile countries and the weakest and most vulnerable social groups in a stronger way. A note from the "Give us today our daily bread" campaign, launched internationally by the FOCSIV network and the Italian Caritas, notes that "in the poorest countries, school is one of the few places of promotion and protection for children from fragile and vulnerable families. School is in fact the place where at least once a day all children can have a decent meal; and with the closure of schools, at least 346 million children have not had this opportunity".
The impact of school closures has been felt in many Asian nations: With the pandemic, many higher education institutions in most Asian countries have switched to online learning. However, it has been difficult to continue education for students without access to internet and these digital inequalities persist in all countries. Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia alone have over 80% of people who have the internet in their social life. In Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, less than 60% of the population has access to the internet, while only about 40% have access to the web in Myanmar and Vietnam.
The digital divide extends far beyond Internet access and also affects the reliability, speed and accessibility of electronic devices that promote learning. The most vulnerable often face more than one disadvantage, which has amplified the impact of the pandemic. Some institutions or governments have introduced a loan system to provide students in need with appropriate devices.
Another fundamental aspect - said a recent study by the World Bank - is how and if systems, students and teachers are prepared and have managed to adapt to online learning. Some colleges and universities had an "online" approach to teaching even before the pandemic. For example, Taylor University in Malaysia, a Christian institute, announced that each of its courses already had its own virtual site, which allowed online involvement for assessments, assignments, support between students and teachers. Countries with solid internet infrastructure, such as South Korea, have reaped major benefits when it comes to continuing education online. Concerns have intensified in countries with less infrastructure. In Indonesia, for example, students offered mixed responses to the recent forced transition to online courses. Some find online classes to be less effective and struggle to interact online with teachers and colleagues. This is not only because of internet access problems, but also because students are not used to such environments or lack the skills to make optimal use of such platforms. In a survey of 1,045 students from the "Indonesia University of Education" in Bandung, 48% of students said they needed more time to get used to Internet-based learning, despite the availability of educational applications.
Faced with these challenges, full collaboration is needed between institutions and between the private sector and institutions and in many Asian nations where the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches are directly involved in the work of education, managing schools of all types and levels, the focus is on student well-being and on medium and long-term support for the school system, which is crucial for society. Some institutions in Vietnam are providing scholarships to students whose families are the hardest hit by the pandemic. In the Philippines, institutions are considering reimbursing college tuition fees to students and in Thailand 52 universities have pledged to cut tuition to ease the pressure on students. These family support initiatives and institutional interventions represent interventions in the right direction which, according to the Asian Churches, can reduce the impact of the pandemic on schools and therefore the future of young people.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "Armed groups control almost 80% of the territory and threaten our future", denounce the Bishops

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 12:54
Bangui - "There are signs of hope, but the continued presence of armed groups threatens the future of the country". This is how the cry of alarm of the Bishops of the Central African Republic contained in their Pastoral Letter "Let my people out", published yesterday, Sunday 6 September, can be summarized.
"After the coup d'etat of March 2013, our Country was endowed with democratic institutions in March 2016. Through the vote and elections, the people gave themselves a new Constitution and legitimate authorities", the Bishops recall. Among the progress made is the Accord Politique pour la Paix et la Réconciliation en République Centrafricaine signed in 2019 by 14 armed groups with the government.
"Dear brothers and sisters, on a political level, we ask ourselves about the effectiveness of republican institutions in the reconstruction of our Country", reads the message sent to Agenzia Fides. "We note with bitterness that 70% or even 80% of our Country is occupied by armed groups, some of which are led by the most ferocious mercenaries". These groups - the Bishops say - "are involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, environmental crimes and the large-scale looting of our mineral resources. They committed blood crimes against innocent people in Bocaranga, Bohong, Bozoum, Besson, Bouar, Birao, Ndélé, Bria, Lemouna, Koudjili".
"The warlords take advantage of the political agreement for peace and reconciliation, taking advantage of the concessions offered to them by the latter, in particular the full freedom of movement. They have imposed the business of war, an economic model based on human blood", the Bishops affirm, who sound the alarm that some of these groups are "strengthening, recruiting new fighters and increasing stocks of armaments and ammunition". "Have they not yet given up on the partition plan for our Country? Will they try to achieve this by interrupting the electoral process?".
"When traveling through the Central African Republic, it is terrifying to encounter entire villages forced into abandonment by their populations or set on fire by unpunished criminals. Families prefer to live in exile or stay in camps for displaced people which are sometimes 100 meters from their homes".
"Which leaders will be able to bring out the inhabitants of the Central African Republic from oppression, misery and ignorance?", ask the Bishops in view of the presidential elections in December. The message is especially aimed at young people and women. The Bishops exhort the former not to be "an inexhaustible reservoir of cannon fodder, but the most important resource of our Country". The message asks them to refuse the exchange vote and to refrain from violently contesting the results of the vote. They ask women to mobilize to actively participate in the electoral process as candidates, educators and promoters of non-violence at all levels where you can be useful to our Country".
"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of heaven and earth, make the efforts for transparent, credible and peaceful elections fruitful, that they give us true leaders at the service of the people following the example of Moses", the message concludes.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/HONDURAS - Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga for the Month of the Homeland: "Power is service and search for the common good"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 12:27
Tegucigalpa - Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, in his homily during yesterday's mass, referred to the Month of the Homeland that has just begun and to the political class of Honduras, which in the search for power resorts to various illicit means, such as the use of religion, manipulation of laws and corruption.
"We started these Month of the Homeland celebrations to think of a future that must be built by everyone and, of course, this pandemic has unfortunately brought us many other problems", the Cardinal began.
"One of the problems is political myopia, spiritual myopia. There is a popular saying that is often repeated: 'God blinds those he wants to lose'. It is worthwhile for those who seek power to keep present this prospect, that they do not go blind in the pursuit of power, because they will lose", he said.
The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa added that the fundamental principle of power is to serve. The Cardinal warned that, according to the history of Latin America, anyone who tried to use religion to gain power failed in his attempt. "Whoever wanted to form political parties using religion, was defeated. The common good is what should guide all our activities", he noted.
"This Month of the Homeland cannot be celebrated simply with empty words, but with facts; the main problems of our country are not the laws that are manipulated, the main problems refer to how we can unite this people, in service, in the search for the common good. It is the ethical criteria that must guide our actions and our life", he concluded.
Honduras celebrates the Month of the Homeland in September: the first day is National Flag Day, 15 the Day of National Independence and 29 the anniversary of Tegucigalpa and the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, very popular holidays.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Towards World Mission Day: "face-to-face" activities resumed

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 12:15
Lomé – To prepare the pastoral activities of missionary animation in view of missionary October and World Mission Sunday, October 18: with this aim in recent days, the National Director and the diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Togo met - in a first "face-to-face" meeting, after the online meetings - in Lomé, for the return session, at the national headquarters of the PMS, located within the complex that houses the Togolese Episcopal Conference .
Among the issues addressed, the urgent need to resume all the activities and animation programs that remained pending due to the Covid-19 health crisis, which led to the ban on gatherings and the closure of places of worship. As reported to Fides, the National Director of the PMS, Father Donald Charif-Dine Fadaz, presented a reflection on the failure to collect, throughout the national territory, the offering of St. Peter the Apostle, which was to take place in the summer months, but which could not be done due to the health crisis.
Given the particular situation of the current year - marked by the lockdown for Covid-19 - the Directors present agreed on the need to guarantee a greater animation effort than usual, affecting parishes, communities, associations, movements of the faithful, even in remote areas. "The evangelizing mission to which we are called - it was said - cannot be overshadowed: it is a task of all the baptized and it is the very life of the Church, called to communicate the love of God to humanity".
Particular emphasis was placed on the results of the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, and the planning of activities for the pastoral year 2020-2021 was set. The reports of the diocese's activities were also presented. In addition, the National Direction provided for the distribution of missionary animation material , to the diocesan Directors in order to sensitize the faithful and involve them in the animation and celebration of the most important moment of the year: World Mission Day next October 18.
The diocese of Kara has been chosen as the host diocese of the ordinary meeting of PMS delegates, to be held in April 2021, and of that for the years 2021-2022 from 6 to 8 September 2021. )
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Independence Day: "seeing the many riches that exist in our differences"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 11:44
Brasilia - "Independence Day should not be experienced as a simple holiday, but as a moment to celebrate the belief that all Brazilians, each with their own difference, depend on each other. A better, more just and more fraternal country cannot be built with hostility, with actions that seek to destroy others". This was stated in a video message for the Independence Day of Brazil, which is celebrated today, 7 September, by the President of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil , Mgr. Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte. In the message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Archbishop reiterates the importance of democracy and citizen participation as paths that allow differences to be articulated and become wealth in the construction of the present and the future of Brazil, as a response to the challenges posed by the Coronavirus.
"We are celebrating an Independence Day marked by grief and many diseases", underlines the President of the CNBB referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, and urges: "This challenging moment that we are facing will not win against the Brazilian society which is strong, which knows how to fight and has overcome many other adversities. In the end, life always wins, is what the Master Jesus shows us… Together we will build a new era based on the strength of solidarity".
In his message, Mgr. Oliveira de Azevedo denounces the hostile climate created by the spread of aggression, through social networks, which distance us from fraternity, respect for differences and dialogue. "The culture of responsible participation and of citizens remains steadfast in the face of undemocratic demonstrations and the principle of solidarity prevails in all debates", he said in his message, stressing that Brazil's independence must be built every day. "Democracy and its institutions must be preserved and strengthened", said the Archbishop, asking for compliance with the Federal Constitution of 1988.
On this day the Archbishop of Belo Horizonte invites us to think of the Brazilians who are unemployed or underemployed, to listen to the cry of the poorest and most vulnerable, to renew the commitment to life, and concludes: "Every Brazilian needs to see the many riches that exist in our differences. It is essential to recognize, above all, that each person is similar, a brother, a sister. When the dignity of human life is recognized, that all are sons and daughters of God, fidelity to the ethical principles that guarantee conviviality is strengthened".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Kidnapped nuns freed, the Bishop: "We ask for peace"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 07/09/2020 - 11:26
Mocímboa da Praia - The two sisters of the congregation of St. Joseph of Chambery kidnapped on 12 August in Mocímboa da Praia have been freed. This was announced yesterday, September 6, by Mgr. Luiz Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. "The nuns – highlights the Bishop in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - are safe and sound. Inês and Eliane, who work in the parish of Mocímboa da Praia, after twenty-four days spent in prisons, are back among us".
The two nuns of Brazilian origin had been kidnapped during a furious attack by al-Shabab militias, on Tuesday 12 August, in Mocímboa da Praia, an important center in the province of Cabo Delgado. On that occasion, the police and the armed forces were forced to withdraw hastily, leaving the militia free for a few days. During that period, the nuns were kidnapped from their community and taken away. For a few days nothing was known about them, but the national and international authorities immediately mobilized to facilitate their release. The negotiations were successful.
The action against Mocímboa da Praia demonstrated a qualitative leap in the operations of these militias that claim to be "jihadists". If in 2017, when they started attacking the villages of the province of Cabo Delgado, they traveled aboard old scooters and used rudimentary weapons , lately operations are carried out aboard brand new off-road vehicles with the use of automatic weapons and show a large ability to move on the ground. Who supplied them with the armaments? Who trained these militiamen? According to some analysts, they may not so much belong to jihadist groups, but militias linked to large criminal organizations that are creating bases for the international drug trade. Over the past two years, their actions have created instability in the area and displaced hundreds of people.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery found themselves in the midst of the fighting and were kidnapped. The nuns have been present in the town of Mocímboa da Praia since 2003. Over the years they have created a dense network of nursery schools and a social center. Their presence has offered a great contribution to the literacy of local boys and girls. Unfortunately, with the intensification of military actions in the area, many of these schools have had to close and activities have focused mainly on Mocímboa da Praia.
"Let us raise together a hymn of thanksgiving to God - writes Bishop Lisboa - and let us continue to pray for all those who are still missing, displaced and suffering the consequences of violence and war. We ask God's blessing for Cabo Delgado and to grant the gift of true peace that we need so much!".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Catholics engaged in prevention campaigns and health services, vital during the pandemic

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Sab, 05/09/2020 - 11:46
Port Moresby - The Catholic Church in Papua New Guinea continues its commitment to offer prevention and awareness programs against Covid throughout the Country. Thanks to the support of the Secretariat of the Catholic Health Service and Caritas Australia, Catholic health facilities in the nation - a sector that makes up 70% of the entire national health system - have started receiving personal protective equipment . "Our Catholic health facilities employ over 250 health workers on the front line in the fight against COVID-19", reports Graham Apian, Program Manager of CHSS, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Commission for Social Communications of the Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. "Many are committed to serving villages and communities in poorly equipped and remote conditions", the manager said.
"The recent increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown have mobilized our staff to make sure that face masks and other necessary materials such as gowns and gloves have are sent so that healthcare workers and the communities they serve can be protected to the maximum",said Roslyn Kuniata, head of the quality and effectiveness program at Caritas Australia.
Charlotte Vada, Caritas Australia's disaster management coordinator, said COVID-19 response plans have been extended until December due to the alarming increase in local cases. "Our response plan includes among others the training of school leaders in the provinces and the distribution of materials to each of our Catholic schools, which make up a quarter of the total number of schools in PNG", she added.
The Secretariat for Catholic Health Services oversees 233 health facilities ranging from district hospitals to relief facilities across PNG and which make up a significant portion of the country's total health facilities.
The Joint COVID-19 Response Plan is shared between the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Caritas PNG and Caritas Australia. It entered into force in April and has so far provided for the distribution of hygiene kits to vulnerable groups, the training of diocese personnel in the provinces and that of Catholic students for the production and dissemination of awareness materials.
Categorie: From the church

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