AFRICA/ESWATINI - The Extraordinary Missionary Month gives life to an extraordinary year of mission in the diocese of Manzini

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 12:32
Mbabane - "Welcoming Pope Francis' call to revive our missionary commitment, I am calling our diocese to deepen on this missionary awareness and commitment by celebrating an “extraordinary mission year” from October 2019 to October 2020", said His Exc. Mgr. José Luis Ponce de León IMC, Bishop of Manzini , in his message for the Extraordinary Missionary Month . The diocese of Manzini has thus decided to extend the initiative to revive the missionary ardor promoted by Pope Francis to a whole year.
"This year will be an opportunity to deepen the missionary spirit that gave birth to our Church in the Kingdom of Eswatini when four members of the Order of the Servants of Mary arrived in Mbabane in 1914", writes Archbishop Ponce de León.
"From that humble but passionate beginning, today we thank God for his abundant blessings seen in: our 17 parishes and 113 outstations, our commitment to health through Good Shepherd Hospital and College, clinics, Hope House among others; our commitment to education through 47 primary and 13 high schools, our service towards those with disabilities, our commitment to the building of peace and justice in our Country".
Among the initiatives announced from 21 to 23 November 2019, a “diocesan missionary congress” will be celebrated. It will be opened with an all night vigil at Our Lady of the Assumption on Friday 18 October 2019 from 6 pm. All the parishes are called to come together at our mother church. On that night the “Candle of the EMY” will be lit. This candle will then visit every parish for three weeks, illuminating our missionary commitment", underlines the Bishop of Manzini
"Pope Francis' prayer for this extraordinary missionary time is available in both Siswati and English. We are all called to pray with it as a community on Sundays and in our families during the week", says Mgr. José Luis Ponce de León who concludes: "Jesus is at the door and knocks. Let us open the doors of our hearts and let him out. Let us bless others with the good news we carry".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/THAILAND - Thai Catholics eager to meet Pope Francis

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 11:29
Bangkok - Catholics in Thailand are looking forward to Pope Francis' visit to the Country. Pope Francis will make a three-day visit to Thailand in November, ahead of an already announced trip to Japan from 23 to 26 November.
"At the invitation of the Royal Thai Government and the Bishops of Thailand, His Holiness Pope Francis will make the Apostolic Visit to the Kingdom of Thailand from 20 to 23 November 2019. The programme of the visit will be announced later", President Cardinal Francis-Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, President of the Bishops' Conference of Thailand said at a video press conference.
According to the bishops' note, the Pope will celebrate two public Holy Masses, one for Thai Catholics and one for Catholic youth and will also visit Catholic communities in Thailand. Mgr. Wissanu Thanya-anan, deputy secretary-general of the Conference, said the Masses might be held at stadiums as a large number of Catholics are expected to attend. Pope Francis might also meet the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, the new king of the nation, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn, he added.
" Pope Francis is pleased to visit Thailand as a pilgrim of peace and to promote inter-religious dialogue", said Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, apostolic nuncio to Thailand.
The visit to Thailand will coincide with the 350th anniversary of the founding of the "Mission de Siam" by Pope Clement IX, in 1669 to oversee Catholic missionary work in the country. On that occasion the Catholic faith was definitively rooted in Thailand. Furthermore, the same year saw the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Holy See in 1969. Finally, we also recall the 35th anniversary of a Pope's last visit to Thailand, by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
The Catholic faith was first introduced in Siam by Dominican missionaries in 1567 during the period in which Ayutthaya was still the capital. A mission was officially established during the papacy of Pope Clement IX on June 4, 1669. Since then, the missionaries also worked for the development of the population, engaging in many social works.
"The Thai people are grateful to the Holy Father for this upcoming visit: we look forward to seeing him as the bearer of a message of peace", says lay leader Catherine Mala to Fides.
Another Catholic, Christopher Angsakul, says: "It is a great opportunity for all of us to receive the Holy Father. The young people are enthusiastic about his arrival, we will welcome him with an open heart, ready to interact with him".
Today, according to data provided to Fides by the Social Communications Office of the Bishops' Conference, the Catholic minority accounts for 0.58% of Thailand's population, with 388,468 devotees, 524 churches, 436 parishes and 662 priests.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - We ask forgiveness from the God of life and creation, for the serious wounds inflicted on Chiquitania

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 11:07
Santa Cruz - The request for forgiveness from the God of life and Creation, due to the serious wounds caused to nature, biodiversity and the population of Chiquitania, characterized the celebration of the "Ecumenical Te Deum", which took place yesterday, 24 September, in the minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Martire, presided by the Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Mgr. Sergio Gualberti. The occasion was the 209th anniversary of the liberation of Santa Cruz from colonialism.
According to information sent to Fides, the leaders of the Christian Churches participating in the ecumenical dialogue were also present: Pastor Jorge Wills of the Methodist Church in Bolivia, Father Hedra El Hamba Boula of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pastor Oscar Villareal of the Anglican Church and Pastors Nathan Tows and Leidy Muñoz of the Mennonite committee. The main civil authorities of the department and the city participated in the celebration.
"This year we celebrate our events in a difficult time for our department and for our city - said the Archbishop at the beginning of the homily -. On the one hand, the climate of uncertainty and tension for the electoral campaign and on the other hand, 'the entire creation is suffering the pains of childbirth' due to the fires in Chiquitania . We suffer and pray for the loss of lives, for the indigenous people who have lost everything due to the wounds to our common home, to the pollution of air and water, to the devastation of various species of flora and fauna".
Therefore Mgr. Gualberti continued: "We should put into practice the Santa Cruz project, the 'house built on the rock' of the common good and on the sacred respect for the 'mother earth sister' and the perennial values of truth, solidarity, justice and freedom, where all the children of this blessed land live like brothers in security, harmony and peace". A particularly touching moment was experienced at the time of the offertory, when the firemen entered the procession, with a black bow on the flag, as a sign of mourning for the firemen who died during the fires.
At the end of the celebration, Mgr. Gualberti commented to the Bolivian national press what the Extraordinary Missionary Month means, starting from the Bolivian reality of Santa Cruz: "In Bolivia we have the great challenge of truly being a missionary Church. A missionary Church, on a mission,for the mission, there are no ad gentes missionaries, but in Bolivia we need missionaries in our suburbs and in the countryside, because priests are often necessary, but they are necessary because we are in a dechristianized world, that is why every baptized realizes that from the moment of his baptism he is a missionary! Not only priests and religious are missionaries, but every baptized person is a missionary. If he has received this gift, he cannot be selfish, because if it is a gift of faith and has to share it!"
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - The sacredness of Creation celebrated by young people for the Extraordinary Missionary Month

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 10:57
Kara - Debates, conferences, days of formation and prayer, protection of the environment, are some of the activities that the youth of the Mary Queen of the World parish in Saoude, in the diocese of Kara, will face throughout the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019. Groups of children from the parish, run by the fathers of the Society for African Missions , are engaged in multiple activities in view of next October.
"They have become missionaries by virtue of their own baptism and with commitment testify the Gospel of Creation, supporting and protecting nature", comments Fr. Donald Zagore, SMA missionary to Agenzia Fides.
"The theme we have chosen for this Extraordinary Missionary Month is "Baptized and sent, young people for the Gospel of Creation". For young people it is an expression of God's love for his people to whom he entrusted nature in all its richness with the aim of spreading it and building the Kingdom of God".
"Man, contemplating the wonders of creation, will grow ever more in the fear of God and in faith, with a firm and responsible commitment to the protection of Creation. Today the crisis of faith makes man's eyes lose the wonder of all of God's work", adds the missionary. "Rediscovering the path of faith, rediscovering the language of God's love for man and becoming his unconditional witness to the ends of the earth is a fundamental challenge for the youth of our parish", he notes.
Father Zagore also underlines that "the theme of ecology remains crucial for the entire planet but it is vital for Africa and in particular for African populations. Nature is sacred to our continent, since it remains a privileged place of communication and encounter between man and God. For its very sacredness, nature deserves protection".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Christus vivit: young Australians to discover their role in the Church

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 10:51
Sydney - "Hobart Archdiocese will host the fifth Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention in July 2020. We will continue what has been a period of intense focus, both locally and internationally, on the place of younger Catholics in the Church. Over the last three years, through the Australian Year of Youth, the comprehensive survey of young Australian Catholics and the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, the Church has deeply explored the giftedness of young people and the opportunities they offer the Church". This is what Malcolm Hart, Director of the Office for youth of the same Dicastery reported to Agenzia Fides.
The event will be a national gathering for all those working in youth ministry in different contexts across the country, in parishes, schools, dioceses, movements, universities and organizations.
According to Hart, the apostolic exhortation that followed the Synod of Bishops "Christus Vivit", "calls the entire people of God to accompany young people where they are and to be open to the voice of Christ speaking through them in what Pope Francis calls ‘the now of God’ ".
The event will focus on accompanying young people: through the testimony of speakers, workshops and interactive presentations, children will be guided to discover their role within local communities, in schools, in the Church. Space will also be given to Australian children who have participated in the various phases of the Synod of Bishops: they will share their ideas on the "Christus Vivit" and advice on how to put it into practice on a national and diocesan level.
"Conversation and confrontation on the final message of the Synod are essential. For this reason, in the coming months, the Australian Church will read, reflect and begin to act on the Exhortation before meeting in July 2020 to share the various reflections and think of a possible implementation", concluded Hart.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Week of Migrants and Refugees: appeal to the commitment of Christians

Fides EN - - Mer, 25/09/2019 - 10:39
Bogotà - In the context of the Week of Migrants and Refugees, which is celebrated from September 23 to 29, the Catholic Church of Colombia reiterates its call to "respond generously and wisely to this situation in which many people live". Recalling the four verbs of Pope Francis on the reality that thousands of migrants and refugees live in the world, the Bishops recall the Christian commitment to "welcome them, protect them, promote them and integrate them". The theme of the Week is taken from the Pope's Message for this Day: "It is not just about migrants".
The note of the Bishops' Conference sent to Fides recalled that in Colombia the National Migrant Week has been celebrated for over 30 years in order to make visible the realities that people live and must face. The main issues addressed were reception, forced displacement, victims of trafficking and Colombians abroad.
The National Secretariat of Social Pastoral this year has produced a series of materials to support the celebration of the Week in the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions and regions of the country. Among these are audio files with migrant stories; images and phrases for various social networks; a guide with statistical charts, reflections on the theme of migration and commonplaces that do not correspond to reality, indications for group work ... It is advisable to use each of the inputs and always publish with the hashtags #SomosMigrantes and #SemanaDelMigrante.
The Archdiocese of Bogotà is also experiencing this week with a series of initiatives taking place in different areas: laboratories on migrant rights, celebrations led by migrants, demonstrations to enhance cultural interchange, a forum on the commitment of the Colombian Catholic Church for migrants, sharing experiences of displaced and migrant people. On Saturday 28 September, the communities welcomed in the various migrant centers of the archdiocese will be the protagonists of a gesture of gratitude to the communities that welcomed them. On Sunday 29, Migrant Day, the collection will be held throughout the archdiocese to support activities in support of the most vulnerable population.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Migrants: the Scalabrinians set up the itinerant Service in Ventimiglia

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 16:12
Ventimiglia - Three months in Ventimiglia, on the border between France and Italy, to support migrants: this is the new challenge that today has led the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters to be present through their itinerant Service. Until December 20, three religious will intervene on the spot to support projects of help and support of the Church.
According to the note sent to Agenzia Fides, the initiative was born in collaboration with the Dioceses of Ventimiglia-Sanremo and Imperia, in coincidence with the next World Day of the migrant and refugee, Sunday 29 September.
The project is part of the activities already put in place by the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo , who since their foundation in the late nineteenth century have been dealing with assistance to migrants. The sisters, with the Itinerant Service, an emergency response group, intend to be present on the most "hot" borders in the world to help refugees or those who, more generally, find themselves forced to emigrate.
"It is a challenge to accompany, to be traveling companions with those in difficulty - explains Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, general superior -. We are aware of the large number of borders that are places of emergency for migrants. We have chosen to implement this new project to help migrants who, after crossing Africa and the Mediterranean, ask to go to France. Borders are always walls: they must be torn down because the hope of a better world cannot be translated into a document, a certificate. The will to build the city of God and of man, as Pope Francis says, is nourished with bridges of dialogue, and with hope in a more beautiful and serene future, which is a universal human right".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - The number of churches "legalized" by the Egyptian government rises to 1171

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 15:23
Cairo - In Egypt the process of "legalization" of Christian places of worship built in the past without the necessary permits is proceeding at a rapid pace. In recent days, the governmental committee in charge of subjecting the churches to arranged controls, confirmed that they had verified the compliance of 62 other Coptic churches with the requisites required for their "legalization". The Prime Minister of Egypt, Mostafa Kamal Madbouly, chaired a meeting with government ministers on Monday 23 September in which the results of the work carried out by the committee for the verification and final "legalization" of the churches were ratified.
Today the churches and the buildings annexed to them, examined and regularized by the ad hoc Committee, are 1171. The previous meeting of the Committee took place on August 5th .
The verification and regularization process began with the approval of the new law on construction and site management of worship, ratified by the Egyptian Parliament almost three years ago, on 30 August 2016.
The churches subjected to scrutiny by the ad hoc governmental committee are above all those built before the new law on the construction of Christian buildings of worship came into force. The Committee is in charge of verifying whether thousands of Christian churches and places of prayer built in the past without the required authorizations meet the standards established by the new law. Verification is usually resolved in the regularization of places of worship.
In recent decades, many churches and chapels had been built spontaneously, without all the necessary authorizations. Even today, these buildings, built by local Christian communities without legal permits, continue from time to time to be used as an excuse by Islamist groups to foment sectarian violence against Christians.
The law on places of worship in August 2016 represented an objective step forward for the Egyptian Christian communities with respect to the so-called "10 rules" added in 1934 to Ottoman legislation by the Ministry of the Interior, which prohibited, among other things, the construction of new churches close to schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the strict application of those rules had prevented the construction of churches in cities and towns inhabited by Christians, especially in rural areas of Upper Egypt.
Categorie: From the church