AFRICA - Passage of Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions of the North Africa Region

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 14/01/2020 - 12:18
Vatican City - The Holy Father has decided to pass the Ecclesiastical Circumscriptions of the North Africa Region - Alger, Constantine, Oran, Tunis - from the Congregation for Bishops to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - The Bishops: "after 125 years of evangelization we are urged to put an end to the crisis"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 14/01/2020 - 12:13
Bangui - "After 125 years of evangelization, we thank God for his work of salvation in the life of the Central African people through the commitment of men and women of faith. We pay tribute to all missionaries, religious and lay people, whose testimony of faith and dedication has been and remains a model in the construction of ecclesial communities. Furthermore, we bow before the memory of those who followed Christ to the Calvary and brought his suffering into their bodies as martyrs", write the Bishops of the Central African Republic in the message published at the end of their Ordinary Assembly at the Cathedral of Bangui held from 6 to January 12.
Recalling the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, the Bishops say they want to "take a look at the missionary life of the Church and transmit a message of hope, peace and awakening of conscience".
"We bless the Lord for his Spirit who guides the Church in the Central African Republic in its commitments for justice, human rights, the improvement of people's living conditions and the non-violent settling of conflicts, especially in the worst moments of our history" the message continues, the text of which was sent to Agenzia Fides.
"However, it is well known that much remains to be done for an effective recovery of our country", the Bishops warn. "The conflict that rages with all its dramatic consequences makes forms of counter-testimony appear in our lives. Some Christians separate their professional life from their life of faith. Others mix magic practices with sacramental celebrations. Still others are attracted to sects and secret societies . Finally, some abandon the great values of unity, dignity, work, respect, solidarity, honesty in favor of easy earnings and the pursuit of their interests".
While expressing appreciation for the government's work in strengthening security forces, the Bishops stress that "the solution to the armed conflict in the Central African Republic is not only military, we ask ourselves: when will quality training and mass recruitment of teachers, professors, nurses and doctors take place?"
The Bishops conclude with a series of recommendations to the various components of Central African society. In particular, they ask the government to commit itself to respecting the Constitution and to organize free and transparent elections within the times established by law.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/THAILAND - The mission of the "House of Angels" for the integration of disabled children with their families

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 14/01/2020 - 11:55
Nonthaburi - The "House of Angels" is situated in the parish of Our Lady of Mercy, in Nonthaburi, in the diocese of Bangkok, on the northern outskirts of the capital. Disabled children and their mothers are welcomed here in a context that sees disability as the result of personal guilt, a source of marginalization.
Born from an initiative of Caritas of Venice in collaboration with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and the Xaverian Missionaries, the house has been managed for years by the foundress, Sister Angela Bertelli .
"Bangkok means 'city of angels' and the true mission of the House of Angels is the encounter with God in our little angel guests", said the Xaverian missionary.
"In the House of Angels we welcome very young poor people who are discriminated against in a cultural context that tends to marginalize people with disabilities", said the President of the Community of Don Benzi, Giovanni Paolo Ramonda, in his meeting with the Archbishop of Bangkok, Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij.
The house tries to accompany and reintegrate disabled people into their families. There are currently 12 children, 7 of whom sleep in the home, others are assisted in various contexts. Among the guests, in addition to an Indonesian mother with her child with a serious handicap, there is also a 19 year old girl who goes to the house three times a week and a 6 year old Congolese immigrant girl. Three women are still there among those who were present at the time of Sister Angela.
The Community of Don Benzi has been working alongside the marginalized and poor for 50 years. In Italy it manages 201 family homes, which welcome 1,283 people of all ages and backgrounds. It is present in 42 countries around the world.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Despite the maximum commitment of Caritas, the number of people in poverty is always high

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 14/01/2020 - 11:28
Buenos Aires - "Our model is Christ, who came to serve with simplicity and humility" said Mgr. Carlos Tissera, Bishop of Quilmes, president of Caritas Argentina, recalling at the beginning of the year that the reality of hunger and those who suffer is hard but the Church, through Caritas, gives hope to people.
According to the report released by Caritas Argentina relating to the activity carried out in 2019, sent to Agenzia Fides, in the period between 27 September and 18 October 2019, Caritas distributed 810 tons of food to 54 dioceses across the country provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Development, for an approximate value of 77 million pesos, within the framework of the food emergency decreed. In turn, Caritas launched a fundraising campaign, which raised $ 1,626,020 between May and December to help 755 children and 2,358 families through canteens and snack distribution, from the diocese of Añatuya , Concepción de Tucumán , Esquel , Jujuy , Oberá , Paraná , Reconquista and Salta .
"The logistical distribution required by this work of assistance required the maximum commitment on our behalf, but despite the efforts of our volunteers we still see a high percentage of people in poverty. We believe this is due to the fact that there are more people in need of staple food every day: the price increases and the lack of work make it difficult to access an increasing vulnerable population", says Sofía Terek, Coordinator of the area of immediate assistance and emergencies.
Caritas Argentina works to respond to the social problems of marginalized communities and people in situations of poverty and emergency in the country. Among its programs, it offers immediate help with 180,000 food packages per month and 600,000 food items. At the same time, it manages more than 760 canteens and over 3,000 places where breakfast, snacks and "glasses of milk" are provided to young children, school-age children, teenagers, pregnant women and the elderly.
In the third trimester of 2019, 40.8% of the Argentine population was classified as poor by the study carried out by the Social Debt Observatory of the Catholic University of Argentina , which specified that even poverty has reached 8.9 % . According to the newspaper Ambito Financiero, four out of ten Argentines are poor, which means 16 million people.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - "The earthquake of 12 January 2010 taught us a few things": the testimony of a Redemptorist missionary

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 13:11
Port au Prince - "Port-au-prince is totally devastated, shouts are heard from under the rubble everywhere", said to Fides the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, 10 years ago, thus informing the world of the earthquake which had devastated the island and caused nearly 300,000 deaths. It was January 13, 2010 .
Today, after 10 years, Fides has collected the testimony of one of the survivors of the earthquake, Father P. Renold Antoine, CSsR, who with the Redemptorist missionaries lived moment after moment the terrible consequences of this natural tragedy and is still in Haiti. "For many of us - Father Renold tells Fides - the history of Haiti is divided before and after the earthquake. An unforgettable date for the entire Haitian people, since, in just 35 seconds, much of the country experienced the fury of nature for an earthquake that left over 300,000 dead and thousands injured. As Redemptorists, we suffered first hand the consequences of the tragedy when the two main houses we had in Port-au-Prince collapsed. At the same time, the parish church of San Gerardo and the parish school with hundreds of dead children and teachers collapsed. The confreres, by the grace of God, were all alive, some not seriously injured. There was total caos in the streets: bodies piled up, wounded and rubble everywhere. The Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, the national palace, Parliament and many parishes and educational centers did not resist the strong aftershocks".
"The earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010 taught us a few things, above all that we are all at risk, and the dreams of well-being of thousands of families can disappear in a minute - continues the missionary -. But the real tragedy that shocks our country, in an extreme way, is that our society daily faces dramatic risk scenarios concentrated in some sectors of the population that have suffered historical exclusion, extreme poverty, violence, food insecurity, corruption, social injustice. This is the real disaster in Haiti: that lesson should be the indelible contribution to the pain of so many people. Despite all this, Haiti is also a country that still manages to smile in its pain, which has always taught resilience, the ability to recover and move forward. We pray that Our Mother of Perpetual Help, patroness of Haiti, will always assist us, so that something like this never happens again", concludes Father Renold.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Bishops of the Pacific and Southwest: respect for human rights, peoples and international law

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 12:53
Quibdò - "On several occasions we have drawn attention to the difficulties that many people are experiencing in the Pacific and Southwest region and we have asked the Colombian state for a global solution that resolves the structural causes that are at the basis of the humanitarian crisis… Let us raise our voice as Pastors again and ask to resume the path of peace in the perspective of respect for human rights, peoples' rights and international humanitarian law". This is what the Bishops of the Pacific and of the southwest region of Colombia ask, expressing solidarity and concern about the exacerbation of the conflict in the Chocò department, in the diocese of Quibdò and in other regions of this area of the country .
These are territories where mainly indigenous and afro-descendant communities live, who live "a dramatic situation", for this reason the Bishops, through their press release entitled "Strengthening the construction of peace in the face of the escalation of the conflict", appeal to the National Government and to other state bodies, "to establish conditions for a dignified life and mechanisms of protection for communities and social leaders". They also ask for attention "for possible collusions between members of the Public Force and illegal groups, reported by social and human rights organizations and the diocese of Quibdó in previous years and reiterated in the past two years". For their part, "armed groups must be aware of their status as aggressors of the civilian population and therefore accept the refusal they are subject to because of their criminal actions".
At the beginning of the new year, among the many concerns in which so many Colombian citizens live, the Bishops reiterated the need to find political and peaceful solutions to the armed conflict, with the ELN to reach a peace agreement, and with the AGC and other similar structures. "We await the sincere response of the various protagonists, through concrete gestures of an authentic will for peace", conclude the statement, asking the Colombian people to "pray and commit themselves to building a fair, fraternal and violence-free country". The document is signed by the Archbishops and ordinary Bishops of Cali, Popayán, Quibdó, Istmina - Tadó, Apartadó, Mocoa - Sibundoy, Buenaventura, Ipiales, Tumaco, Palmira.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The 114th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference opens today in the sign of reconciliation

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 12:42
Abidjan - "Communion at the service of reconciliation". This is the theme of the 114th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast, which will be held from 13 to 19 January, at the Lataha Center of Korhogo, in the north of the country.
Fr. Emmanuel Wohi Nin, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, announced that during the Assembly the Bishops will reflect on a pastoral letter on reconciliation, "which will constitute the main aspect of the Plenary Assembly", at the end of which a message will be addressed to all Ivorians. The letter itself will be published some time after the conclusion of the meeting.
Another topic on the agenda is "the protocol on the protection of minors and vulnerable people", according to the indications of Pope Francis who hoped that each Episcopal Conference will equip itself with such a document. Finally, the draft framework agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of the vory Coast will be discussed. At the end of the meeting, a final press release will be made public during the closing mass next Sunday, January 19.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Catholic Mission mobilizes for the needs of the Australian population affected by the fires

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 12:37
Sydney - "Catholic Mission" Australia, which is the National Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia, has announced an immediate collaboration with the St. Vincent de Paul Society to offer a concrete contribution in the work of cooperation and solidarity, in order to respond to the national emergency of the fires that, since last September, have been devastating the nation's natural habitat. "This is an infinite, unprecedented massacre, a real environmental catastrophe that is estimated to have burned an area over 84 thousand square kilometers", says a note from Catholic Mission sent to Agenzia Fides.
In order to respond to the crisis, the Australian Catholic Bishops, in addition to promoting fundraising worldwide, wanted to prepare a national plan that involves all Catholic communities. The Pontifical Mission Societies have always taken to heart the needs of communities across the border, but "we recognize that it is difficult to focus on the needs abroad when an unprecedented crisis is under way in Australia", said Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Mission Mission.
For this reason, the PMS sensitize their donors and benefactors to contribute for the needs of the population within Australia: "We have many seriously affected supporters in the dioceses of the whole country. It is our duty to offer a missionary response and equally allow those who want to prioritize their Australian friends, families and companions affected by these devastating forest fires", notes Fr. Lucas.
"The communities along the south coast are struggling with great difficulty. So many people, from local parishes to celebrities, have come together to support those who lost everything. We will do our part", says David Harrison, diocesan director of Catholic Mission in Wollongong.
The missionary organization confirms, however, that the emergency plans aimed at the Australian situation will not interrupt the distribution of funds and the projects already started in Africa, Asia and the Pacific by the Australian PMS. "We recognize the seriousness of the local situation but we must also respect our mission by staying committed to communities that are in great need all over the world", concludes Father Lucas.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - There is still no news of 4 seminarians kidnapped in Kaduna

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 12:09
Abuja – There is still no news of the four seminarians kidnapped on the evening of January 8 in the "Good Shepherd d Kakau" Major Seminary along the Kaduna-Abuja highway. The village is located near Kaduna, capital of the State of Kaduna, in central Nigeria.
On January 8, between 10:30 pm and 11:00 pm some bandits attacked the Seminary, firing indiscriminately, fortunately without causing victims.
According to a police spokesman, the attack lasted about thirty minutes and the bandits "had access to the school dormitory, which houses 268 students".
The kidnapping of ecclesiastical personnel for the purpose of extortion is a sad reality in Nigeria, and the local Episcopal Conference has prohibited the payment of ransoms for the release of kidnapped priests, religious and seminarians for some years.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Prayer intensifies while a "volcanic tsunami" is at risk

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Lun, 13/01/2020 - 12:01
Manila - While Manila and many adjacent provinces are preparing for the eruption of the second most active volcano in the country, the Taal, near Manila, Catholic faithful intensify prayers for the safety of populations at risk. A huge ash cloud was seen this morning from the central crater of the volcano which is 60 kilometers south of the capital of Manila, obscuring the sky. "We pray for the safety of people living in areas close to the Taal volcano", said Mgr. Pablo Virgilio S. David, Bishop of Caloocan and vice president of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines.
The Taal, about 40 miles south of Manila, has begun to show signs of activity. Shocks were felt on the volcano island and in the villages around the nearby town of Agoncillo, in the province of Batangas, where thunderous noises from the volcano created fear among the residents.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their residences and communities. The government ordered schools and public offices to close on January 13. The authorities also issued a public warning for the central Luzon region, which includes seven provinces: Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales, on the central island of Luzon. The alarm also applies to the Calabarzon region which includes five provinces: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon and Lucena, in addition to the Metro Manila region.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alarm level for the Taal Volcano to level four , stating that "a dangerous explosive eruption is possible in a few hours or days".
The Institute warned that the eruption could cause a "volcanic tsunami" and advised neighboring communities to take precautions against possible waves from the lake surrounding the volcano. About 6,000 people live on the island and on Sunday the local population was transferred safely to Batanga.
Due to the warnings about the "volcanic Tsunami", the government advised people to stay indoors for health reasons because, following the eruption, the ashes are very harmful to health, containing particles with carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, fluorine, hydrochloric acid.
The Philippine archipelago is located on the so-called "ring of fire" of the Pacific, where tectonic plates collide, causing earthquakes and regular volcanic activity. In January 2018, tens of thousands of people were evacuated due to an eruption of Mont Mayon, in the central region of Bicol. The last eruption of the Taal dates back to 1977. The biggest eruption that hit a densely populated area was that of the Monte Pinatubo volcano in June 1991.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Attack against soldiers on the border with Mali; according to a Bishop, the jihadists intend to occupy the Sahel region

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 10/01/2020 - 11:06
Niamey - Suspected Islamic militants killed at least 25 soldiers on Thursday in an attack that came just a month after the worst jihadist assault on the military in years. The attack, which also left dozens of militants dead, was waged in the town of Chinagodrar, on Niger’s troubled border with Mali.
The Nigerian military managed to repel them thanks to the air support provided by the local aviation and that of the allies .
A state of emergency has been proclaimed in the area to prevent recurring jihadist raids. The Tillaberi authorities have also decided to "ban the movement of motorcycles, night and day" in various locations, including the regional capital of Tillaberi.
Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso are the three major Sahel States affected by the violence of several terrorist groups that move from one Country to another. On January 8, Mohamed Ibn Chambas at the head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel , declared before members of the UN Security Council that 4,000 people were killed in jihadist attackss between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali in 2019 compared to 770 deaths in 2016.
The number of internally displaced persons in these three Countries has also increased tenfold to around half a million. Another 25,000 people have instead found refuge in neighboring countries.
In Burkina Faso one of the dioceses most affected by the violence of the jihadists is that of Fada'Ngourma, the largest in the Country. The local Ordinary, His Exc. Mgr. Pierre Claver Malgo, observed that there are several Islamist groups operating in the region and for him "it is clear that everyone has a plan: to occupy the entire Sahel region". Mgr. Malgo denounced that when Christian faithful are attacked "they are always asked to convert to Islam and renounce their faith. Not to mention the destruction and desecration of Christian religious symbols".
We recall that in 2019 three priests were killed in Burkina Faso while Father Pierluigi Maccalli, of the Society of African Missions , kidnapped in Niger, in the mission of Bamoanga, still in the hands of his kidnappers, on the night between 17 and 18 September 2018.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Manipulation of the Constitutions in Africa: a brake on democracy

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 10/01/2020 - 10:33
Abidjan - In view of the upcoming presidential elections, Guinea and Ivory Coast are willing to review their respective national Constitutions in order to ensure that the various outgoing powers have the constitutional possibility of obtaining a third government mandate. "This constant desire to constantly review the Constitutions of our countries, especially for electoral purposes, does not help to make our states stable and democratic", says Ivorian theologian Fr. Donald Zagore of the Society for African Missions.
"The democratic stability of our states and institutions - he explains - essentially depends on the stability of our national Constitutions. Our states are democratically unstable, because our Constitutions are unstable".
"In order to have a stable rule of law, it is necessary to guarantee a long-lasting constitutional democracy. All the great nations and democracies of the world were built thanks to this process. If we want to grow up, we must learn to sacrifice narcissistic interests in favor of the common good and for the supreme interest of our nations".
"Currently - concludes Fr. Zagore - without real foundations of democracy and stability, nothing can be built".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - Message from CELAM: "Let us walk and pray together for peace in the world"

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 10/01/2020 - 10:28
Bogota - "We join together in prayer with the Pope, we reject all forms of violence and social division, and we ask the great nations of the world, in particular their rulers, for mutual respect, harmony and good understanding, and not to spare every effort to avoid a scenario of greater tension". With these words, the Presidency of CELAM, the Latin American Episcopal Council, addresses the people of God and the Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean, with a message entitled "Let us walk together for peace in the world".
The message invites us to pray for peace in the world, so that the conflicts that make families and entire populations suffer end, and "in particular, for the serious tension that is being experienced between various countries: war brings only death and destruction". Joining the Pope's appeal, the Presidency of CELAM invites all parties involved to "give priority to the path of dialogue, the peaceful resolution of disputes and the unconditional respect for international law".
"Let us walk and pray together - they urge – so that in our history we never have to be ashamed of the way in which one human being has eliminated the other because they were not able to dialogue and find the way to walk together". Finally, the Presidency of CELAM invites the Bishops' Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean and the entire world to promote days of prayer for peace, invoking "Most Holy Mary, Queen of Peace" to "grant us this gift".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - The Supreme Court of India will examine the appeal in favor of the Christian Dalits

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 10/01/2020 - 10:19
New Delhi - The Supreme Court of India will examine the appeal filed which calls for equal treatment and opportunities for Christian Dalits in Indian legislation, considered "discriminatory with respect to religion". The appeal challenges paragraph three of the 1950 Constitutional Order which excludes dalits from "Scheduled castes" status, cutting them out, only because of their religion, from measures that promote education and economic, social and cultural development. The appeal, presented by the National Council of Dalit Christians , asks the Supreme Court that the quotas reserved for Dalits be made "neutral with respect to religion".
About 14 Christian groups, including the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, supported the appeal, presenting a petition to the Court asking to include Christian Dalits in the measures reserved for Dalits of other faiths, for access to employment in the government and education. The Supreme Court agreed to examine the reasons behind the appeal.
Dalits are members of the lower social group of the ancient Hindu caste system. The 1950 Order guarantees them some rights and "reserved quotas" in the world of work and education, to allow them to have a better standard of living. So far these rights have been granted to Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, but denied to Christians and Muslims.
According to the appeal, "the third paragraph of the 1950 Constitutional Order violates the fundamental right to equality, religious freedom and non-discrimination". The NCDC states that "religious conversion does not change social exclusion. The caste hierarchy continues to remain strong even for Christian Dalits". The text of the appeal, sent to Fides, observes: "It is necessary to extend the status of Caste recognized to Christian Dalits, offering them scholarships, job opportunities, welfare measures, the possibility of being elected to the 'panchayat' , in state-level legislative assemblies, up to Parliament and to take advantage of the legal protection guaranteed by the Casted Scheded and Scheduled Tribes of Atrocities Act, of 1989 amended in the year 2018 ".
"For decades, we have been promoting equality of rights for Dalit Christians at different levels, and now we hope that this battle will have a positive outcome", Raj Kumar, a Dalit rights activist, told Fides.
There are about 20 million Dalit Christians and they represent 75% of the total Christian population of India.
In the entire nation of India about 16.6% of the total population is made up of Dalits, of various religious faiths.
Categorie: From the church

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

Fides EN - www.fides.org - 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 - www.fides.org - 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 - www.fides.org - 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 - www.fides.org - 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 - www.fides.org - 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 - www.fides.org - 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

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