ASIA - Virus and poverty: the phenomenon of "child brides" worsens, political responses are urgently needed

Fides EN - - Sab, 05/09/2020 - 11:23
Pune - Tens of thousands of girls in various nations of Asia are forced, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to marry at a very young. The girls come from families who live in poverty, aggravated by the coronavirus. It is feared that years of progress made to combat the phenomenon of "child brides" will be canceled out becauses of viruses and poverty: this is the alarm raised by the NGO "Girls Not Brides", which brings together a network of over 1,460 organizations scattered throughout the world, even in the Catholic world. "All the gains obtained in the last decade will suffer", says Shipra Jha, at the head of the NGO "Girls Not Brides", committed at an international level to fighting the plague of child brides. "Early marriage is firmly rooted in gender inequality and patriarchal structures. What has now happened is that Covid aggravates the situation", notes the NGO in a note sent to Agenzia Fides. The alarm raised by "Girls Not Brides" reminds us that poverty, lack of education and insecurity lead to early marriages even in stable times and that periods of crisis aggravate the problem. According to the United Nations, the phenomenon affects 12 million girls under the age of 18 every year.
Early marriage is a widespread practice in some traditional communities from Indonesia to India, Pakistan and Vietnam, but the numbers of the phenomenon - warns the NGO - had gradually decreased in recent years, thanks to the commitment of organizations and associations that encourage women's access to education and health services. However, these improvements are being eroded by the impact of the pandemic which, in many Asian states, causes job losses and leaves families in serious trouble.
The NGO Girls Not Brides explains: "South Asia is home to the largest population of young people and adolescents in the world. The pandemic has caused an unprecedented economic crisis and exacerbated inequalities. The impact is particularly severe for women and girls who face greater risks of gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and early marriages". They therefore ask for "policy responses to address their specific needs and challenges. This situation must change. The governments of Asian nations must step up their efforts to include women and girls among the priorities in the protection of human dignity in South Asia". "We need to work together, thanks to a partnership between governments and civil society, to ensure that girls at risk of early marriage and married girls are not left out among the interventions related to the Covid-19 emergency": is the appeal launched by the NGO.
Among the various Catholic organizations, it is above all the nuns of various religious orders who deal with the problem, accompanied by lay volunteers who work for religious organizations such as Caritas. In many Countries there is a special section of the organization that deals with early marriages and human trafficking. Caritas India, for example, works in this direction in dozens of villages in Bihar, to sensitize families on the harmful effects of early marriages. In India this tradition is prevalent mainly in the States of Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh but also in the richer Punjab where, among other congregations, the Little Sisters of Saint Teresa are active who, through dialogue and a specific path of formation, educate the families of the diocese of Jalandhar to abandon this practice. In return, they offer education and professional training to young people and especially girls, to give families an alternative.
Sister Lucy Kurien, of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, is the founder and director of "Maher" , an interreligious community and organization for destitute women and abused children, based in Pune, in the State of Maharashtra. In the "Maher" houses in Jharkhand, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra it is recommended, especially in rural areas, not to marry teenage daughters, by conducting a family education work. Awareness is carried out among Hindu, Christian and Muslim communities. Sister Lucy founded "Maher" in the early 1990s and in 1997 the first Maher house was opened in the village of Vadhu Budruk, on the outskirts of Pune. In February 2017, Sister Lucy also founded the "Association for Service to Humanity and Nature, an interreligious group that involves volunteers from different faith communities, on values of promoting human dignity and the emancipation of women.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SUDAN - The Bishop of El Obeid: "After thirty years of war that has disfigured religion, we hope peace does not remain only on paper"

Fides EN - - Sab, 05/09/2020 - 11:05
El Obeid - "People here prefer to be cautious: it is the history of our Country since independence in 1956 to today that obliges us. But the peace agreement covers a large part of Sudan and it is very important that a signature has finally been reached. We are all very happy". This is how Mgr. Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid - capital of northern Kordofan - and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan and South Sudan, comments to Agenzia Fides the historic peace agreement reached in Sudan between the government and the rebels of the Revolutionary Front - the initials which gathers the military formations of the States of southern Kordofan, western Darfur and the Blue Nile. The representatives of the armed groups in recent days met Abdalla Hamdok, president of the Sovereign Transition Council in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and, in the presence of the host president Salva Kiir, they put the long-awaited signatures that put an end to decades of atrocious conflicts.
"Peace - continues Mgr. Trille in the conversation with Fides - was one of the most pressing requests of the revolution and one of the most repeated promises by the new executive. We expected it, as they said, within six months and it arrived late, but it is important that an agreement has been found. The population is happy because at least hostilities have stopped. The Sudanese, unfortunately, are distrustful because of our history, and there are some who think it is just a pause. Therefore, we are all waiting to see the implementation of the agreements in the hope that the interest in the Country is genuine".
The agreement involves many rebel groups in the hottest areas of Sudan. Some observers, however, raise concerns about the absence of other armed movements at the table.
"Some of the armed groups in Darfur and the Nuba Mountains - notes the Prelate - are unfortunately not among the signatories of the agreement, and we hope that this will not create problems in putting the pacts into practice. The biggest fear is that the government doesn't have a clear plan. We pay for 30 years of war in the name of God that has disfigured religion in Sudan. The Church hopes and prays that the peace signed will not remain just a piece of paper as has often happened in my Country".
The agreements were signed at two different times to highlight different contexts. The first concerned Darfur - where a war broke out in 2003 that caused over 300,000 dead and 2.5 million internally and externally displaced in just a few years. The second was dedicated to the open issues in the States of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile where the conflict affected one million people.
Also Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, vice-president of the Sovereign Council and leaders of the rebels, had to physically put a signature, in an atmosphere of general satisfaction also highlighted by traditional music performed by an orchestra that accompanied all the sessions. The agreement comes about a year late due to the infinite and delicate issues to be addressed: "When the 'Juba Declaration' was issued, in September one year ago - said Prime Minister Hamdok on the sidelines of the meeting - they all expected peace to be signed within three months at the latest, but we immediately realized how very complex the open questions were".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - "Schools of forgiveness and reconciliation": the Bishops give new impetus to peaceful coexistence

Fides EN - - Sab, 05/09/2020 - 11:05
Mexico City - A new pastoral agreement with the aim of promoting the method of the "Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation" , in an ecclesial and popular way so that, through this methodology, a reconciled society is created, so that it is possible to build peace: is the initiative promoted within the framework of the Mexican Episcopate Conference , in collaboration with the "Foundation for Reconciliation Mexico". The program was presented by Mgr. Enrique Díaz, Bishop of the diocese of Irapuato, who stressed the importance of dialogue and collaboration with civil society, but also with national and international organizations, to build a lasting peaceful coexistence in Mexican society. The Bishop explained that, with the methodological contribution of “ESPERE”, it is hoped to contribute to "generate a society reconciled with itself, but also with the Creator, with the environment".
The agreement underlines the participation of all the Bishops of Mexico in the commitment so that the 98 dioceses of the country can organize and promote the "Schools of Peace" under the proven methodology of the "Foundation for Reconciliation" born in Colombia in the midst of internal conflicts of the nation. So far, there are 39 ESPERE locations spread across Mexico and around a thousand facilitators. The agreement will favor the creation of new experiences both in diocesan territories and through digital platforms.
Mgr. Carlos Garfias Merlos, Archbishop of Morelia and responsible for articulating the peace and reconciliation processes between the Mexican Catholic Church and government institutions, said that "the agreement opens an important path for forgiveness and reconciliation in Mexico: it is an important way to rebuild the person and the social fabric".
The Archbishop of Monterrey and president of CEM, Mgr. Rogelio Cabrera López, contributed with a reflection on the process of building peace: "It must be recognized that this is an unfinished work, which must always be built", he said. "But first we must recognize that peace comes from God, because it allows us to forgive. Thus began the work of the Church, when Pentecost was celebrated and God led the disciples to the Holy Spirit and told them to forgive and bring peace. There is no peace if there is no forgiveness or reconciliation".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - A Carmelite: "The Congolese Church plays a fundamental role in the pacification process of the Country"

Fides EN - - Sab, 05/09/2020 - 09:46
Lubumbashi - "Congo is experiencing a profound social crisis, poverty and precariousness: at the origin of these problems, there is the interest of a minority in having all the wealth of the Country. Not even the coronavirus pandemic has managed to pacify the warring parties because there are interests for which human life seems to be worth little". This is what Father Christian Muta, a Congolese priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites who works in "Les Buissonnets" convent of Lubumbashi reports to Agenzia Fides, speaking of the difficult situation in the African country.
More than three months after the heartfelt appeal launched by the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres first, and then by Pope Francis, for a "universal ceasefire", the missionary notes: "Here, the echo of Francis’ message - the Carmelite remarked - received a very weak and absolutely insufficient response in convincing the majority of belligerents to lay down their arms".
Even the celebrations for the 60th anniversary of independence from Belgium, which the Democratic Republic of Congo celebrated on 30 June last, took place in a climate of tension: "Political instability, endemic poverty, despite the great resources, the presence of coronavirus and the news of a new Ebola outbreak in western regions make the current moment very critical", notes Father Muta. Among all these factors, the war has the greatest weight: "Clashes have been bleeding the north-east of the Country for decades - he reports - and generate half a million internal refugees as well as hundreds of thousands of external ones".
"The Church, in this context, plays a very important role - says Father Christian - the Bishops in fact invite the faithful to pray for reconciliation and are active in the dioceses, contesting attempts of corruption and pointing out that the parliamentary majority does not care about the good of people". "The community of the baptized - he concludes - communicates prophetic courage to the people and is faithfully alongside those most in need, announcing the Gospel that frees and calls to conversion and profound peace".

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Father Christian Muta on Agenzia Fides website
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The beatification of the "Doctor of the poor" is being prepared

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 13:09
Coro - The Commission for the Beatification of José Gregorio Hernández, of the Archdiocese of Coro, continues its activities aimed at promoting the values and virtues of the Venerable Servant of God. In this context, following the indications of the National Commission, chaired by Cardinal Baltazar Porras, adheres to the National Meeting "Venezuela walks with José Gregorio", which begins this first weekend of September with the aim of promoting dialogue and reflection on the life of the blessed known as the "Doctor of the poor".
The event is articulated around 12 themes, chosen by the board of the Commission, which will be presented through the social networks channeled by the National Commission, the WhatsApp groups and illustrative videos. These topics were developed by pastoral workers in a didactic way, suitable for adults, young people and children. "The goal is to make our future blessed better known to everyone, who can be a source of inspiration for future generations, and to contribute, through the model of José Gregorio Hernández, to what can be done for Venezuela", he said. known as Albe Perez, General Coordinator of the National Commission for Beatification.
The Catholic community in Venezuela is experiencing a particular moment: on the one hand the model of José Gregorio Hernández is proposed as a symbol of assistance to the poor, on the other the political environment is in turmoil after the news of the signing of President Maduro with regards to the decree that grants presidential pardon to various political opposition actors. Venezuela is called to the polls for the parliamentary elections next December 6, and with this initiative by Maduro another process of dialogue between the government and the opposition opens.
The Venezuelan Bishops' Conference, in mid-August, published a statement regarding the upcoming elections, in which it recalls that the decision of the 27 opposition political parties not to participate in the vote was unsuccessful in the recent past. "This is not enough, they must assume the responsibility of seeking solutions and making proposals , simple abstention will increase the political and social fracture in the country and the desperation for the future", the Bishops said.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - A Bishop: "The pandemic is an opportunity for Christians to renew their faith"

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 13:00
Juba - The Coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for our spiritual growth because it "poses the fact that we renew our faith in Jesus Christ taken from his who assurance to all of our humanity and Christians that he came so that we may have a full life", says His Exc. Mgr. Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan, in a message to his diocese. "This insurance is not in a vacuum and it is the son of God who is God himself who told us that he came so that we may have life and life in abundance".
Thanks to this certainty, Mgr. Hiiboro affirms that Christians should not lose hope or faith because of the pandemic, but should instead "remain to stand firm and strong knowing that our Savior has actually saved us".
To this end, the Bishop offers some indications to the faithful: "We need to renew this faith in ourselves first of all. That’s why I call it an opportunity for us to be in touch with ourselves, with our God, with our creator, and that conviction itself helps us in our behavior. The way we will be talking to people, we talk from the point of view of the strength that we believe in the God who has given us life in abundance; the way we reach out to each other, our gestures should be grounded in God".
Mgr. Hiiboro asks everyone to do their duty with the awareness of the salvation given by Christ: "In our workplaces, where we are delivering our services, we need to consider elements of integrity and authenticity because by so doing, we will be offering the abundance of life that God has assured".
"In the same way in moments of serious difficulties, for instance, if the disease has affected us or a member of our family, or maybe our businesses, we still need to have strong faith in God because, amid such storms of life, God has never abandoned us, He will never abandon us. Let us not lose hope in Him. Let us not despair or live in self-pity because that is for people who do not believe in God", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/CAMBODIA - Towards a missionary October: the support of "Catholic Mission" Australia for people with disabilities

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 12:47
Battambang - Supporting the life and work of the Arrupe Center in Cambodia, managed by Bishop Enrique Figaredo Alvar Gonzalez SJ in the Apostolic Prefecture of Battambang, in the north-west of the country, where for over 20 years they have accompanied and provide learning and growth opportunities for people with disabilities: this is the commitment of "Catholic Mission Australia", National Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia, on the occasion of "Missionary Month", next October, in which the Catholic Church celebrates World Mission Sunday scheduled for 18 October. Throughout the month, Catholics from all over the world come together to support and celebrate missionary work and evangelization. "The Pontifical Mission Societies are at the forefront to help communities in the most vulnerable areas of the world", says in a note sent to Fides Fr. Brian Lucas, Director of "Catholic Mission" Australia.
"This year in particular, the commitment for missionary October focuses on the precious work of priests, religious and lay missionaries in Cambodia, in supporting people with disabilities and their families", says Fr. Brian, citing one of the many examples of Catholic Mission's action. "Thanks to the generosity of our donors, this support can change their lives", notes Fr. Brian.
Launched in 2001 by Bishop Figaredo, the Arrupe Center provides education, health care and support to children and young adults with disabilities, due to various causes, such as accidents with mines or other diseases such as polio or cancer.
Dara is an example of how important PMS support is. When she was 11, Dara lost her right hand and most of her eyesight due to a landmine accident. Unexploded landmines are still littered in the countryside where she lives in the rural village of Koh Kralar. For the past two years Dara has lived at the Arrupe Center, where she learned Braille and continued her studies.
Chen, also a mine survivor, lost both legs when he was 16. Unable to help his parents on the family farm, he had no prospects for cure or improvement in his life. Today, thanks to the Arrupe Center assistance program, Chen also leads a fulfilling and dignified life.
"Missionary Month of October 2020 gives our supporters, parishioners, teachers, students and parents an impetus for missionary work. It promotes awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities and the empowerment of the needy", stresses "Catholic Mission".
Awareness is also raised through the special sports program called "Socktober" which encourages schools to support Arrupe Center. "Socktober" - a combination of "Socks" and "October", for "soccer" - uses the game of soccer to encourage students to learn more about the reality of life in other parts of the world . A six-week tournament held among Australian students binds to core values like mission and social justice. "Over 200 schools have already signed up for Socktober, getting involved to help needy people like Dara and Chen", says Catholic Mission's Matt Poynting. "One of the most important things to do when trying to support people in need around the world is to learn about their reality. The Socktober program helps students and their families do this, while having fun, and acting meaningfully for others", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Donald Charit-Dine Fadaz

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 12:33
Vatican City - On 25 May 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed the rev. Donald Charit-Dine Fadaz, of the diocesan clergy of Sokodé as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Togo for another five years .
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/RWANDA - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Léonidas Ngomanziza

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 12:31
Vatican City - On 10 May 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev. Fr. Léonidas Ngomanziza, of the diocesan clergy of Nyundo as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Rwanda for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born in Kigeyo-Rutsiro on November 13, 1979 and was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Nyundo on July 22, 2006. After primary school he attended the S. Pius X in Nyundo and S. Léon in Kabgay minor Seminary, then the S. Joseph preparatory Seminary of Rutongo. He studied philosophy at the St. Thomas Major Seminary in Kabgayi and theology at the St. Charles Major Seminary in Nyakibanda. In the period 2016-2019 he studied moral theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, obtaining a licentiate. Among the positions held: vice parish- priest, parish-priest, diocesan representative of education and catechesis, diocesan director of the PMS.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SINGAPORE - During the pandemic, Biblical Apostolate groups promote a personal encounter with the Word of God

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 12:26
Singapore - In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Biblical Apostolate of the Archdiocese of Singapore invites and accompanies the faithful to cultivate a personal encounter with Christ. "Even though the Covid-19 situation has put an end or changed many daily activities, parishes have equipped themselves to use online platforms for their biblical programs. There has been a notable increase in attendance; for those with reduced mobility or limited time due to family and work commitments, study and deepening online was more convenient", explains to Agenzia Fides Camerlitano father Ferdinand Purnomo, OCD, spiritual director of the Biblical Apostolate of the Archdiocese .
"On the other hand, online meetings are lacking in forming human relationships within the community. However, online programs are destined to continue", quoting St. Jerome, the priest says: "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ".
With the number and variety of Bible programs now available for Catholics in Singapore, there are many opportunities to discover and learn more about the treasures of the Bible. ABA is encouraging Catholics to start Bible study and study groups in families. ABA aims to animate the faithful so that they can pray, share and live the Word of God, bearing witness to the Gospel, especially during these difficult times.
Many priests in Singapore, scholars of the Sacred Scripture, give lectures, open to all, throughout the year. "Now the ABA is helping to coordinate these sessions so that Catholics can participate, on the web, several times a week", notes James Nichols, Director of the ABA.
About 60% of parishes in Singapore promote Biblical Apostolate groups. "All of these faith-building efforts have led to an increasing number of small communities that study and pray with Holy Scripture in Singapore, Nichols reports. The number of lay people who have obtained formal academic qualifications in Bible studies is also increasing, both at foreign institutions as well as at the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore. Many biblical programs are now led by lay people under the spiritual direction of their parish priests and, as a result of this effort, many Catholic faithful have enriched their pastoral and spiritual life thanks to the ABA programs.
Ronnie Chia is a leader of the parish biblical apostolate who shares his experience on the biblical apostolate at the parish church of San Vincenzo de 'Paoli: "We are not an anonymous group, but a family. We help each other discover the treasure of the Bible in an experiential way. We prepare for each weekly session, we share the Word of God by telling how the Word speaks to our life, in the personal circumstances of existence. We gradually build communities and relationships, and form strong bonds of respect and trust as a parish family", he says. Ehrlich Phua, who coordinates the group with Chia adds:" Our biblical apostolate is not just about knowing with the head but, above all, with the heart. "According to Chia, the most immediate fruits of this journey are a greater sense of belonging to the parish and a deeper appreciation of the Mass.
Andrew Chua, a participant, reveals: "The Mass has become much more meaningful to me. It is no longer a ritual or an obligation. I learned to recognize how the New Testament is linked to the Old Testament and I can understand the homilies much better".
Now, continuing the sessions on the online platform "Zoom", Ronnie says he is optimistic: "We must use the new media for the Gospel. Our group chats are alive and active with quotes and spiritual videos and, above all, when our family members see us taking time to study the Bible and listen to us share our testimonies, we sow the Word of God in their hearts: we are evangelizing without not even realizing it".
Singapore's population is 5.7 million, of whom about 383,000 are Catholics, about 9% of the population.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Celebrating the Time of Creation with the awareness that when our world is sick, we also get sick

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 11:20
Port Moresby - Every year from 1 September to 4 October the Christian family in the world gathers to celebrate the protection of our common home. "We rejoice in this Time of Creation which offers us the opportunity to pray, reflect, stop and act in favor of our common home", writes Fr. Ambrose Pereira SDB, Director of the Communications Office of the Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. During the Time of Creation, 2.2 billion Christians around the world will come together to pray and act for our common home.
"This year - he continues - the stress, tension and the pressures of the pandemic make the Time of Creation take on a new dimension. We are all aware that our well-being is closely connected with the well-being of God's creation. Each of us realizes that when our world is sick we also get sick. During this pandemic, nature has had some time to recover and we have realized that we need to think of new and sustainable ways to give the Earth the rest it needs".
Among the testimonies regarding this event, Salesian Fr. Savio Silveira, director and founder of the Don Bosco Green Alliance, offered some suggestions inspired by prayer and action to be implemented during this time. Among these, the priest invites us to pray daily a 'prayer for our land' of Pope Francis, found in Laudato Sì; integrate the theme of Creation into Sunday liturgies; organize a meditation session to appreciate creation and its importance.
For each week of the Time of Creation, Fr. Silverio also proposes to spend time outdoors, learn about local biodiversity, improve creation by organizing campaigns for tree planting, restoring gardens and organizing ecological days in view of the World Clean Up Day which will be celebrated on September 19th.
The Salesian, recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the XLIII International Day of Peace 2010, "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation" - urges us all to commit ourselves to protect creation by organizing online campaigns to highlight local threats to nature.
The Don Bosco Green Alliance is a global initiative founded in 2018 and inspired by Laudato Sì. It is an international group of young people who work together to contribute to global environmental initiatives, reflections and policies.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - Missionary Month focused on the commitment of the laity of Guinea and Switzerland

Fides EN - - Ven, 04/09/2020 - 10:45
Friborg - "Here I am: send me": this is the theme chosen for the Missionary Month of October by Missio, the Pontifical Mission Societies of Switzerland. The Church of Guinea and the role of the laity will be at the center of reflection and commitment. As in the whole world, the culmination of the Missionary Month will be the celebration of World Mission Sunday, Sunday 18 October.
"The theme of the Missionary Month 'Here I am, send me' refers to the vocation of Isaiah. From the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 we have regained the awareness that every baptized person has a mission and is a mission, according to Pope Francis. Now we are put to the test, like Isaiah, to answer 'here I am' and to embark on an adventure with God", explains Martin Brunner-Artho, director of Missio, in the note sent to Fides.
"Here I am" is the answer given by hundreds of Guinean Catholics, called to take charge of their very young Church after the departure of foreigners, expelled from the Country in 1967. Although the Guinean Church survived a dictatorship and is flourishing today, it still remains fragile. The role of the laity, today as yesterday, is great, the note underlines. In Switzerland various challenges are posed to Catholics, pushed to redefine their Church. Both in Switzerland and in Guinea, everyone must find their place in the Church to make it fruitful. Missio has prepared animation material available for all the parishes of Switzerland, to invite everyone, during the month of October, to be inspired by the example of Guinea, and to reflect on their place in the Church and on their way of living the Good News every day.
The Missionary Month will officially open on Sunday 4 October in Meyrin, and on Sunday 18 October it will culminate in Missionary Day, which will be celebrated in all parishes, with prayer and the collection of donations, destined for the universal solidarity fund that supports poor dioceses. Among these: N’Zérékoré and Kankan, in Guinea, visited by Missio. The diocese of N’Zérékoré was led by a Swiss Bishop, Mgr. Maillat, who after his expulsion from the country had to take over the reins of the diocese from Switzerland. There are still links between the two countries. "The friendships among the priests, among the Guinean apprentices and their former Swiss formators, among the parishes and the solidarity groups that support social works in Nzérékoré are very strong", observed Martin Brunner-Artho on the field.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - Bishops call on government to shut down abortion clinics

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 13:31
Nairobi - " We cannot claim God is in our midst when in fact we are allowing the evil of some individuals who may have killed their conscience to legislate for the killing of our unborn children", say the Bishops of Kenya, who asked the government to close all clinics and health units that are procuring abortions and administering contraceptives to minors and teenagers in the name of protecting them. In a joint statement read by the Chairman of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops , Most Rev. Philip Anyolo, on 29th August 2020, during the Episcopal Consecration of the new Bishop of Kitui, Rt. Rev. Joseph Mwongela, the bishops termed abortion as evil and expressed concern over the Reproductive Health Bill whose basic intention, they pointed out, is to introduce disguised abortion on demand.
"It is of utmost concern that in a Country which believes in the sanctity of human life and human dignity, certain entities will be allowed to propagate ideologies that degrade that very dignity in the name of freedom of choice", they say.
The Bishops urged parents to recall their primary responsibility of instilling good morals and habits in their children by spending sufficient time with them.
"Parenting is the biggest investment any parent can make and it requires skill, effort, commitment and patience", they said.
"As a moral duty, families must take full responsibility over the education of their children as a virtue and in morality, especially on sexual education" recall the Bishops. They appealed to parents to teach their children the correct doctrine and to shun other doctrines, condemning the aggressive anti-family agenda being peddled such as the “gender ideology” that is contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - "God is always ready to forgive": Day of penance and prayer celebrated

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 13:16
Port Moresby - Symbolic objects to indicate peace and mutual forgiveness, such as banknotes attached to a twig; leaves of a specific tree planted as a sign of recovered trust; Areca nuts exchanged to repair the evil between the parties in conflict: these are some of the objects placed in front of the altar on the occasion of the traditional "Day of Repentance and Prayer" celebrated in recent days throughout the nation and, in particular, by the Catholic community of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands in Port Moresby. "If we sinners repent, God is always ready to forgive", said Sister Emma Lapun, OLSH, who in her speech highlighted the meaning of repentance and the reward for restoring peace.
In the note sent to Agenzia Fides, we read that Eva Wangihama, Secretary of the commission for the laity and one of the organizers of the event, said that the day of repentance is "more than a simple holiday" and thanked for involving all the Bishops in the event.
The Salesian Fr. Ambrose Pereira, in charge of Social Communications in the Bishops' Conference, opened the event with a celebration of prayer. The closing Mass was presided over by the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Fr. Giorgio Licini, PIME, who focused on reading a passage from the Gospel, encouraging those present to "grow in communion with God" and to become missionaries to their friends and acquaintances.
The special "Day of Repentance", set for August 26, is a public holiday in Papua New Guinea and is marked by gatherings and prayer meetings across the country. It was established in 2011 by then Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, at the request of "a group of churches".
According to Protestant Pastor Jack Edward, coordinator of the "Day of Repentance", the aim is to get people to "unite and pray, asking the Lord to forgive us for the wrong things, damage and sins that happen in our nation". It was conceived as a day of Christian prayer, in a nation where 95% of the population declares themselves Christian , 70% Protestant denominations and 25% belong to the Catholic Church.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/THAILAND - Freedom and democracy: young Thais take to the streets

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 12:54
Bangkok - The young people of Thailand give life to a new season of street demonstrations and freely express their aspirations for freedom and democracy. The new movement that animates Thai society calls itself "Free Youth" and is beginning to worry the authorities. In fact, the president of the Thai Student Union, Jutatip Sirikhan, 21, was arrested on 1 September by the police in Bangkok for participating in student demonstrations that have crossed the streets of the capital and several other cities several times in recent months. The latest, in particular, on August 16, saw the participation of at least 10 thousand young people gathered in the central square of Bangkok, where the Democracy Monument has become the symbol of the Movement. Jutatip was arrested for an event on July 18 and is being charged with "violation of the rules on physical distancing" but could also be charged with sedition.
With his arrest, 15 activists have been jailed, including the well-known student leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, who immediately posted a message of solidarity to Jutatip on his Facebook page, one of the most used social networks by the movement. The students are demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut, a general formerly at the head of the military junta and who, they denounce, "was appointed Premier thanks to an unfair political system". The Premier, the young people observe, governs only thanks to the fact that in February the "Future Forward Party", an opposition political group, was banned and outlawed. It was the only political organization - with a progressive tendency and led by a very popular young entrepreneur - which, according to observers, could have led a valid parliamentary opposition. Since then, the demonstrations for Prayut's resignation have intensified and so have popular requests to change the Constitution and the electoral system, which today provides for an upper House composed of selected and non-elected members, therefore capable of overturning the popular will.
But the students went further: after the disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit, an activist in exile in Cambodia since 2014, was announced last July, protests resumed, despite the ban on gatherings and the "State of emergency" decreed because of Covid-19. The key event took place on 10 August when an activist read a "Manifesto in ten points" in the square in which, in addition to calling for Prayut's resignation and a new Constitution, the Movement also charged the monarchy, a traditionally indisputable institution in Thailand, a country that has the most severe penalties in the world for crimes of treason.
Shared by a square of at least 4 thousand students of all ages and religious beliefs - many Catholic students also participate in the protests - the "Free Youth" Manifesto asks, among other things: greater transparency on the system that punishes the king's critics; separation between the personal wealth of the monarch and that of the crown; the prohibition for the monarchy to intervene in politics. In front of the new youth and student ferment, the government has not reacted violently but, after the last impressive demonstration, arrests, complaints and summons to the police station have begun, in order to intimidate and weaken the movement.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of the Rector of the "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" Regional Seminary of Sambalpur

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 12:18
Vatican City - On 19 May 2020, Card. Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Lancy Rodrigues, SVD , as Rector of the "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" regional seminary in the diocese of Sambalpur, India. The new Rector was born on July 5, 1955 in the diocese of Mangalore. He professed his first vows among the Verbites in 1978 and the perpetual ones in 1983. He was ordained a priest on May 10, 1984. He obtained a doctorate in moral theology at the Alphonsian University, Rome in 2005. Among the various positions held: Assistant parish priest, parish priest, treasurer, professor. He was rector of the major seminary of the Verbites in Debeipali and parish priest in Sambalpur .
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - "Constructive dialogue" says President Nyusi after meeting with the Bishop of Pemba

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 12:12
Maputo - "The Country is experiencing a moment in which there is a need to speak, to dialogue. It is necessary to understand what the other sees and what the other knows. Being religious, this Bishop of ours has a lot of information, because the Church is established here in the territory of the province and has many faithful and priests. We took the opportunity to share information and exchange some ideas", said the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, at the end of the meeting held on 31 August with His Exc. Mgr. Luis Fernando Lisboa, Bishop of Pemba. The meeting was held at the invitation of the Bishop at the episcopal palace of Pemba. Mgr. Lisboa thanked the President of the Republic and said that the conversation was "rich" and "fruitful".
The meeting puts an end to two weeks of growing tension between the Church and the State , during which the Holy Father phoned the Bishop personally , while the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique has issued a pastoral letter as a sign of solidarity, followed by those of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa .
Mgr. Lisboa added that "the President of the Republic is concerned for the religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry and for the dozens of people who were with them, who disappeared on August 12", in the village of Mocimboa da Praia which was attacked by a group of armed men from the "Central African Province of the Islamic State" .
"There is still no information on the two sisters or on the other people, the elderly and children. We are talking about a group of over 60 people", said Mgr. Lisboa.
So far, rebel attacks have remained limited to the areas around Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia, in the north of the province of Cabo Delgado. However, on 28 August the Cabo Delgado National Criminal Investigation Service presented to the press an alleged insurgent member captured with a briefcase containing five AK47s and six pairs of military uniforms. According to the director of SERNIC in Cabo Delgado, Ntego Crisanto Ntego, this is an operation aimed at moving weapons to Pemba. "History tells us that the insurgents, when they are about to enter a territory, first advance the equipment and then arrive dressed as civilians".
According to Calton Cadeado, researcher at the Department of Peace and Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies : "Pemba is today a place of great political value for this group of rebels - to demonstrate visibility and power. Like Pemba, there is another place in Cabo Delgado, called Mueda, considered a bastion of the ruling party, the Mozambique Liberation Front . Once attacked, it would mean attacking the heart of the Country's power". "It is necessary to understand how the terrorists will act and where they are hiding to organize their attacks. So far, when they attack, they hide in the bush. But to attack in an urban space, to carry out an urban guerrilla warfare, it is necessary to understand how far their level of commitment and audacity goes", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - New priests in Pakistan: hope for the Church in the midst of the pandemic

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 11:48
Karachi - "A young priest is always a gift for the People of God, chosen as the prophets and apostles to bring people closer to God. It is the priest's responsibility to serve people and accompany them to live a life of holiness. This is a day to celebrate and rejoice: let us pray for all the priests": this is what Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, said to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the fact that, during the time of Covid-19, the Catholic Church in Pakistan had the gift of new priests. The Cardinal remarked: "The priest is the one who reaches and draws near to the people of God in the midst of tensions, worries and difficulties, with a message of hope and peace, proclaiming the Word of God. The way for him is to live and bear witness to Christ".
As reported to Fides, in recent days Cardinal Joseph Coutts presided over the priestly ordination rite of deacon Rashid Aslam in the presence of over 1000 faithful, 51 priests, nuns and seminarians in St. Patrick Cathedral, in Karachi. The Eucharistic celebration was held strictly following the protocols envisaged for the Covid-19 epidemic. The faithful entered the Cathedral wearing masks and sat respecting the distance, after the sanitation of the hands.
Furthermore, at the beginning of August in the diocese of Hyderabad, Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM conferred the priesthood on the two deacons, Fr Sunil Ashraf, diocesan, and Father Perkho Sono OFM, in Saint Francis Xavier Cathedral in Hyderabad. During the ordination ceremony, the Bishop laid his hands on the heads of the two and kissed the hands of the newly ordained priests. Addressing the assembly, Bishop Shukardin said: "The new priests are a sign of hope for the Church and a blessing for the community. They testify that the Church is growing and its evangelizing mission continues, despite the difficulties and challenges of the world". The Bishop added: "We serve the People of God with humility, drawing close to every family to help them take root in faith".
Currently, the Catholic Church in Pakistan - articulated in the archdioceses of Karachi and Lahore, the dioceses of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, and the Apostolic Vicariate of Quetta - has 173 diocesan priests and 134 priests who are members of religious orders.
The Catholic Church in Pakistan opened the Churches on August 15, on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after a five-month lockdown, which began in March 2020. The faithful began to participate in Holy Mass respecting the new health prevention provisions. Currently Pakistan records about 300 new positive cases every day while, until 1 September, the total number of people infected with Covid-19 is about 296 thousand.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PUERTO RICO - "Pandemic and general elections": the pastoral letter of Archbishop González Nieves highlights "the pandemic of corruption"

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 11:34
San Juan - The Archbishop of San Juan de Puerto Rico, Mgr. Roberto Octavio González Nieves, OFM, published a pastoral letter entitled "Puerto Rico: Pandemic and general elections, a call for reflection and dialogue", in which he invites us to reflect on the situation of Covid-19 in Puerto Rico and in the rest of the world, on the different facets of its consequences in the drama of human life and, above all, that of the most vulnerable: the poor, the elderly and thousands of unemployed.
In the long 28-page document sent to Fides, Archbishop González Nieves also proposes the reflection on a deeply felt problem in this country: corruption. "Another great pandemic that has reigned for decades and that we must eradicate: the pandemic of corruption, the victims of which are the poorest. This is painful because it upsets the credibility and vitality of democracy, the morality and hope of all, affecting especially the simplest and poorest of our society, the students of public schools, the health of the poor, among others. Corruption is a social, political and economic scourge that rots and devours everything", he writes, quoting the latest document of the Bishops of Puerto Rico.
Regarding the upcoming electoral event, scheduled for November, the Archbishop of San Juan launches an appeal: "Faced with these challenges and the crisis of political credibility of recent decades, it is urgent and necessary, here and now, think about fighting, rebuilding and, above all, rehabilitating politics in Puerto Rico "..."I appeal to rehabilitate politics in general and party politics in particular, as well as the way to govern. Rehabilitating politics requires men and women who love good; that is, who love God and their neighbor as themselves".
The Archbishop exhorts: "Let us remember that exercising or not the right and responsibility to vote means carrying out political action that has repercussions in the cultural and religious sphere". "We measure the repercussions of our political choices by exercising the moral autonomy of conscience as believers in Christ, thinking about the need to give order to our pilgrimage as a people, as a city of God, and the need to rehabilitate politics" . Mgr. Roberto Octavio González Nieves stresses that "we need to heal politics, heal our social fabric" , we need men and women capable of dialogue , a dialogue based on the culture of encounter and, above all, that they do not allow Puerto Rico to be the victim of an economy that kills, of an economy that makes people sick, and the symptoms of which are injustice and great inequalities .
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Aid from the PMS Fund to parishes, families, poor children and Catholic schools for the Covid emergency in Africa and Latin America

Fides EN - - Gio, 03/09/2020 - 09:46
Vatican City - "The pandemic has exposed the difficult situation for the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world - Pope Francis recalled at the general audience on 19 August -. The virus, which does not make exceptions between people, has revealed great inequalities and discrimination along its devastating path... and has increased them!".
To respond to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic that are not only of a health nature, the Pope has set up an Emergency Fund at the Pontifical Mission Societies which for several months has been responding to requests made by dioceses of the missionary world, marked by poverty and inequalities that have worsened in this period . The latest aid was sent to various ecclesiastical circumscriptions in Africa and Latin America.
In Rwanda, where the consequences of the long fratricidal war that make the work of evangelization difficult, there are four dioceses to which the Emergency Fund of the PMS has sent the requested aid, which will be used by the parishes above all to purchase medical supplies and prevention necessary to equip places of worship and thus allow the resumption of celebrations in safety. The particular Churches of Gikongoro, Cyangugu, Kigali and Nyundo have been severely tested by the pandemic, both at a pastoral and economic level. Although the commitment to make the laity co-responsible for the mission of the Church has borne good fruit also with regard to material needs. Unfortunately the coffers of the parishes are now empty. The suspension of celebrations and the administration of the sacraments, the interruption of catechism classes and group activities, as well as the loss of work for many, have in fact made it impossible to collect donations and financial contributions from the faithful.
Even the diocese of Saint Louis, like the other dioceses of Senegal, found itself facing considerable difficulties following the measures adopted to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The serious financial crisis following the suspension of pastoral activities made the collection of offerings which the priests live on impossible since the month in March. The diocese therefore asked for the help of the PMS Fund as it is unable to guarantee support for its priests who continue to be engaged in the work of evangelization and assistance.
In Madagascar, which has long been characterized by a "survival economy", the situation has become dramatic with the pandemic. The diocese of Farafangana, which is experiencing a situation similar to that of the whole country, has suffered serious consequences in all sectors: isolation has blocked farmers and small traders who survived by selling their products at the markets; parents are unable to provide daily food for the family, purchase medicines, pay school fees; the health system has become even more precarious. The 42 Catholic schools of the diocese are in a serious situation, most of which have been closed, for which the PMS Fund intervened: the children no longer go to school, so parents do not feel motivated to pay the fees even for the lack of work, but the teachers have been without salaries since March and the diocese no longer has economic resources.
The population of the diocese of Solwezi, which is located in the northwestern region of Zambia, lives essentially on subsistence agriculture. Only two parishes are economically self-sufficient, while all the others depend on the support of the diocese. As a result of the isolation, many have lost their jobs, the economy has been severely hit and many children and elderly people in need turn to parishes in search of food. In search of a minimum sustenance, many move without health protection, and the subsidies sent will be used by the diocese to buy food and protective material for the most needy families.
Latin America is also plagued by the pandemic, which has exacerbated poverty and marginalization. In Colombia, the aid from the PMS Fund will be used to support the priests of the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Carreno, engaged in the evangelization of indigenous people, campesinos and settlers. They usually live on small offerings from the faithful, but for some time, with the suspension of masses and pastoral meetings, they have no way of supporting themselves, and the Apostolic Vicariate itself has no resources to provide. Also in Ecuador, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Napo, it is necessary to ensure food and means of transport for 24 priests who are actively involved in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the works of social assistance, covering great distances every day, as well as providing the medicines necessary for 5 sick priests. In the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Ayacucho, in Venezuela, two communities of the Consolata Missionary Sisters, engaged in pastoral, educational and assistance activities for children of marginalized families, are in particular need of the help of the PMS Fund. The pandemic has made life even more difficult.
Categorie: From the church