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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categorie: From the church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Metropolitan Archbishop of Jos

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

AMERICA/CHILE - "We must be the builders of the civilization of love": young people on mission in the country during the holidays

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Mar, 07/01/2020 - 11:22
Santiago - More than 1,500 young people arrived on Saturday 4 January at the San Joaquin campus of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, full of enthusiasm to dedicate their summer holidays, just started, not only to rest but also to evangelization and at the service of the most needy. As the note from the Chilean Episcopal Conference sent to Fides underlines, in the face of the crisis that the country is experiencing, many young people listened to Pope Francis’ appeal who on several occasions called them to be "wayfarers of faith", members of a "Church that goes forth".
The sending of the young missionaries took place during the Mass presided by the new Archbishop of Santiago de Chile, Msgr. Celestino Aós, who urged the students to give testimony of God in the communities where they will go: "Jesus Christ is not an idea, Christianity is not an ideology, nor a morality, nor a philosophy. Christ lives and I have met him. And the joy of that meeting is what we want to communicate to others". The Archbishop also underlined the importance, in the current social context of the country, of being builders of the civilization of love: "You must also love those who persecute and slander you, today in Chile this is our Christian challenge, we must not love each other only, we must also love those who despise us, those who destroy our churches, our institutions ... We must be the builders of the civilization of love. And the civilization of love is built with love, the civilization of truth is built with truth, the civilization of life is built with life".
There are three projects to which young people will dedicate themselves in this period, in the context of the Pastoral Care of the Catholic University. The first is an evangelization project that wants to "work for the soul of Chile", sending young people to announce the message of Christ in the most remote areas. The second project involves the construction of chapels in the urban suburbs, so that they are not only places of prayer but also of meeting, where communities can be together, dialogue and strengthen their bonds. The third project concerns the school environment, to prepare university students to train students.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - Armenian patriarch: minorities are experiencing their most comfortable era under Erdogan

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 03/01/2020 - 15:31
Istanbul - "All minorities in Turkey agree on the fact that: we are experiencing the most comfortable era during the Justice and Development Party administration". This is how Sahak II Masalyan, new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, sees the situation, according to reports from the Turkish media. Some statements attributed to the Patriarch - and released in particular on Thursday 2 January by Turkish Akşam daily- seem destined to cause debate. In his exaltation of the current condition of minorities in Turkey led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Patriarch mentions the changes made in 2008 in the Foundations law. The Patriarch adds that "the concept of minorities has been used to interfere in Turkey's internal affairs since the Ottoman Empire", and that his community was pleased about the state's interest and care, noting that they can easily contact President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while ministers pay frequent visits and Istanbul Gov. Ali Yerlikaya always devotes close attention to their concerns".
Masalyan also said the Armenian community in Turkey has nothing to do with the Armenian diaspora, noting that they exploited the issue of the 1915 events as a means to unite the diaspora under a single cause. "We" added the Patriarch "chose to stay in the country and live with the rest of the people. Diaspora is a thing of the past"
In the statements reported by the Turkish media, the Patriarch recalled that there are less than 60 thousand apostolic Armenians throughout Turkey, constantly decreasing, and that 33 of the 38 churches belonging to the Patriarchate are concentrated in the area of Istanbul.
Archbishop Sahak Masalyan was elected Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Constantinople on 11 December. The electoral process for the choice of the new Patriarch was marked by controversies destined to have consequences also in the future, provoked at least in part by the intertwining between ecclesiastical personalities and interference of local secular systems. In February 2018, the Istanbul governor's office had canceled the electoral process already started to look for the successor of Patriarch Mesrob. At that time, the Turkish authorities had blocked the electoral process by appealing to the fact that Patriarch Mesrob was still alive, albeit reduced to a vegetative state, and Turkish legal provisions provide that a new Armenian Patriarch can be elected only when the office remains vacant with the death of the predecessor. More recently, the decree of the Turkish Interior Ministry aimed at narrowing the list of candidates to Archbishops residing in Turkey, excluding the possible candidacy of Archbishops of the Patriarchate residing abroad, had sparked controversy. Agos press, published in Istanbul in Armenian and Turkish, a few hours before the election of the new Patriarch had highlighted that the two Archbishops Sahak Masalyan and Aram Ateşyan, had continued "their respective campaigns" without taking into account the concerns expressed by the local community for the exclusion of candidates residing outside Turkey. A modus operandi which, according to Agos, would have caused negative repercussions on the path of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Constantinople over time.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The Country needs political apostles of peace and reconciliation

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 03/01/2020 - 12:56
Abidjan - "Ivorian politicians must be men and women sincerely in love with peace. Our Country really needs politicians who are apostles of peace and reconciliation". This is what Ivorian theologian Fr. Donald Zagore, of the Society for African Missions tells Agenzia Fides. The Christmas period in the country was characterized by political tensions fomented by the arrest warrant for Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader. Accused of money laundering and violation of State security, Soro had recently announced his candidacy for the presidential elections in October 2020 and should have returned to the Country after more than six months abroad. There was also the appeal of the Church which, through the voice of Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan, asked for the release of Soro's supporters.
"We have become prisoners of our politicians. Our peace, tranquility and stability depend on them and it is not fair", said Fr. Zagore. "So far, the politicians of our battered country have brought only sadness and desolation. The 'political king' mentality, which gives itself the right to life and death on the population, must change", continues Zagore. "Violence, frustration and revenge, which are constantly the most popular tools and methods in the Ivorian political world, will not help build a rule of law and, above all, a country of peace. Hatred and revenge form an endless vicious circle. The country needs peace and reconciliation".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Visit of Cardinal Ambongo among the populations of the east, victims of massacres

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 03/01/2020 - 12:50
Kinshasa - At least twenty dead is the toll of the massacres carried out in the Territory of Beni, in North Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the end of December, during the visit to the diocese of Butembo-Beni, by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu Metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa.
The Cardinal went to the region on December 27, to encourage the population exhausted by the constant attacks attributed to an armed group of Ugandan origin, the ADF, which has been in this area of the DRC for twenty years.
In his public speech in May-Moya, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu urged the inhabitants to collaborate with the army, the police and the UN Mission in the DRC to stop the massacres and reiterated that the Church will continue to pray to the Lord to end this tragedy.
During the Cardinal's visit, unfortunately several villages in the area were attacked. The most serious episode occured of Sunday 29 December, when guerrillas attacked the village of Apetina-Sana during the night, killing at least 18 people, including 2 women. According to a local NGO with this latest massacre, 242 civilians have been killed in the Territory of Beni since 30 October.
Although attributed to the ADF, these massacres are part of a depopulation plan of the area that sees the complicity of unsuspected actors. This is what a note of 19 December entitled "Alert: imminent risk of a Balkanization of Eastern DR Congo", of the Diocesan Commission of Justice and Peace of Butembo - Beni said. The Commission denounces the existence of a mafia project aimed at developing strategies to sell the east of the Country to populations that are not from the place.
Regarding the situation of Beni, the Justice and Peace Commission believes that the waves of migrations of populations from the small North towards the great North of the province, under the pretext of looking for arable land, often coincide with the increase in massacres and therefore there appears to be a precise program of occupation of native lands by a group who are not from the place. The Commission denounces the internal complications of the Congolese army and the political class and the external complications of the neighboring Countries of the DRC.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Year of Youth begins, in the footsteps of saints

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 03/01/2020 - 12:35
Karachi - "We need models and examples for our lives. Let us look at the life stories and mission of saints during the Year of Youth. Saints are our 'superheroes' and will help us to become stronger", said Cardinal Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi, addressing young people during the inaugural ceremony of the Year of Youth, proclaimed by the entire Pakistani Church for 2020.
The Cardinal showed a large poster with the images of 13 saints including John Paul II, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of the Child Jesus, Domenico Savio, Giovanna d'Arco, St. Sebastiano, Kateri Tekakwitha.
Together with each image, a special "QR code" will help young people to scan it, with their mobile phone or tablet, to quickly see details on the lives of these saints. The poster, specially created, will tour the parishes of the archdiocese to help young people trace the life, stories and mission of these saints, to make them a source of inspiration. "During this year, we will learn more about these saints, be inspired by their lives and follow their example", said the Cardinal who, lighting a candle, declared the Year of Youth open in the Archdiocese of Karachi. The Commission young people of the archdiocese will be responsible for all pastoral and evangelization activities at a local level.
As Fides learns, Bishop Samson Shukardin, at the head of the diocese of Hyderabad and head of the Commission for the laity in the Bishops’ Conference, said: "Pope Francis thinks and prays for the young people of Pakistan, and we Catholic Bishops in Pakistan are aware of the challenges that young people in Pakistan are facing. The Catholic Church in Pakistan is fully committed to serving young people in Pakistan".
Mgr. Samson further said: "Young people are very important for the Church, we consider them as a backbone of the Church and we want our young people to be highly qualified, with professional education and rooted in the Catholic faith". The Bishop urged priests, nuns and catechists to make every possible effort to support young people. And he said: "If we listen to young people, we will be able to help them and communicate the love of Christ".
Finally, the Bishop invited the young people "to come forward and take on their responsibilities to serve the Church, attend training programs and discern their vocations to consecrated life, to priesthood or to married life", always remembering that they are "baptized and for this reason missionaries".
The Catholic Church in Pakistan announced the Year of Youth with a celebration held on November 16 in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. All the bishops of Pakistan announced the event in front of an assembly of over a thousand faithful, especially young people who came from all the dioceses. In each diocese specific youth pastoral activities are planned as well as the proclamation of the Christian faith.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Aba

Fides EN - www.fides.org - Ven, 03/01/2020 - 12:09
Vatican City - On 28 December 2019 the Holy Father appointed as Bishop of the diocese of Aba, Nigeria, the Reverend Augustine Ndubueze Echema, of the clergy of Owerri, currently lecturer in liturgy in the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt.
The Reverend Augustine Ndubueze Echema was born on 28 December 1958 in Ohuhu Nsulu, then the diocese of Umuahia and now Aba. He attended the Saint Peter Claver minor seminary in Okpala . He carried out his studies in philosophy at the Bigard Memorial Seminary in Ikot Ekpene and in theology at the seminary of the same name in Enugu . He studied at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt, obtaining a doctorate in theology, with a specialization in liturgy . He was ordained a priest on 16 August 1986 for the clergy of Owerri.
After ordination he held the following roles: formator in the Saint Peter Claver minor seminary in Okpala ; parish priest of Saint Mark in Umuneke Ngor ; higher studies in Frankfurt, Germany ; parish priest of the Saint Joseph parish in Schwalbach, in the diocese of Limburg, Germany ; adjunct chaplain of the CIWA Worshipping Community in Port Harcourt ; lecturer in liturgy at the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt; president of the Liturgical Commission of the archdiocese of Owerri; chaplain of the Owerri Provincial Laity Council.
Categorie: From the church

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