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

AFRICA/CAMEROON - Religious leaders will participate in the great national debate focused on the crisis in the English-speaking regions

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 13:58
Yaoundé - "We were invited to the meeting of the great national debate and we agreed to participate", declared the religious leaders who had organized in August the Anglophone general conference aimed at finding a solution to the crisis in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon.
On September 10, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, announced the convening of the great national debate to be held from September 30 to October 4 in order to discuss the country's major problems, first of all the question of the north-west regions and of the south-west that since 2016 are in the throes of a secessionist crisis born from the request of the local English-speaking populations to be able to use the English language instead of the French language at school and in the courts. The protest degenerated into an independence movement that clashes with the regular army.
"As religious leaders we pray that our country finds peace, because we cannot forget the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, some of whom die of hunger and diseases", say the English-speaking religious leaders, including His Eminence the Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi Archbishop Emeritus of Douala.
In announcing his participation in the national debate, Cardinal Tumi said "we are obliged to do everything possible, even at the cost of our lives, to bring peace back to Cameroon". The Cardinal then praised the initiative of the Head of State, calling it "a great thing". We are on the right path".
Cardinal Tumi explained that he met the Prime Minister to whom he delivered a report from the answers to a questionnaire submitted to the inhabitants of the English-speaking region of Cameroon. "Over 1000 people responded and based on their answers we produced a 400-page document in three parts that focuses on the causes of the English-speaking crisis, and offers proposals for a solution", he said.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Lynching of tribal people who eat beef: condemnation of civil society

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 13:46
Ranchi - Human rights activists, NGOs and Christian communities, civil society organizations condemn the case of the lynching of three members of a tribal community, one of them a Catholic, killed on September 23rd. "It is the fourth case of lynching in Jharkhand in recent weeks by vigilante groups that want to punish those who eat beef. The number of Muslims, Christians and Dalits, killed by these homicidal gangs over the past two years, is high. Those responsible may even have the patronage of political leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state of Jharkhand. Surely they bask in the state of impunity that exists in the state, where Hindu nationalism prevails", explains to Agenzia Fides John Dayal, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council and spokesman for the All India Catholic Union.
According to police reports, a crowd of Hindu militants attacked three people, accusing them of having "slaughtered" a cow, an animal considered sacred by the Hindu religion. The three were allegedly slaughtering a cattle in the village of Jaltanda Suari, in the Khunti district. The first of the three, Barla, a Catholic, who suffered serious injuries, died before reaching the hospital. Two others, wounded, are in stable condition. The police arrested five people, the villagers surrounded the police station demanding their release.
Dayal notes that "although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stigmatized the 'vigilantes on cows' of the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, the recurrent extrajudicial killings are proof of the absolute lack of political will". "What is worse is to see the police who do nothing. The agents arrive late at the scene of the crime, delay in bringing the victim to the hospital, they fail to record the names of the people involved in the lynching. Judicial documents in cases of lynching speak for themselves", Dayal notes.
The state of Jharkhand is governed by a coalition led by the pro-Hindu party Bharatiya Janata , to which Prime Minister Modi belongs.
Researcher Gladson Dungdung, who works in Jharkhand, points out to Fides: "The right to food is a fundamental right of every individual in the country, provided for in Article 21 of the Constitution. No government or organization can decide what people should eat. The lynching carried out by the crowd in the name of protecting cattle becomes a state-sponsored murder".
Many tribal communities in Jharkhand have been eating beef for centuries because it is the cheapest source of protein and no one has ever been killed for it. In the last two years, cases of violence and murders against those who eat beef have risen sharply. According to Dungdung, "tolerance has always been a typical trait in our tribal society, even in respect among communities that eat beef and others that do not eat it", he notes.
After the case of a murder in April, in September, at least three similar incidents were reported throughout the state.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TAJIKISTAN - The commitment of the Catholic community to the protection of Creation, also with the "culture of recycling"

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 13:35
Dushanbe - "The Catholic community of Tajikistan is constantly committed to promoting and disseminating practices for the safeguarding of Creation, for sustainable development and for the common good. An example is represented by a Caritas project that intends to educate to the culture of recycling and improving waste management in the Jomi district. In the initiative one works with the local administration to introduce useful activities for environmental protection. All is aimed at initiatives related to recycling". This is what a note sent to Agenzia Fides by Caritas Tajikistan tells us, which launched a series of projects in the country in accordance with the spirit of the encyclical Laudato Sì.
The "culture of recycling", we learn from the note, is still not very widespread in the Central Asian country: "This type of activity may seem trivial in other parts of the world, but recycling is not a widespread practice, especially in rural areas of Tajikistan. There are people involved in metal collection but, due to high transport costs, collecting and separating plastic, paper and other recyclable materials is not very common".
To respond to this situation, Caritas has included in the project the initiative that includes recycling, the purchase of plastic from the population and the delivery to the big suppliers of the capital Dushambe: "We think that this choice, together with other training activities, can contribute to introducing a new environmental culture and bring about a change in behavior on behalf of the population".
Caritas Tajikistan is particularly attentive to issues related to the protection of Creation: among the projects already started, in fact, there is also that of support to the water distribution system, also carried out in the Jomi district, in the west of the country, where the conditions of the water network represent an emergency for the population.
Local authorities and the civilian population appreciate the Catholic organization and the Catholic community’s commitment.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CANADA - Archbishop Dal Toso to the Bishops: "It is not enough to simply say that the Church is missionary, but we must affirm the objective of the mission"

Fides EN - - Mar, 24/09/2019 - 12:43
Cornwall - "It is not enough to simply say that the Church is missionary, but we must affirm the objective of the mission, which is ad gentes, to the peoples, to each person, to bring the announcement of faith, that is, Christ who died and rose, and to establish new Christian communities". This was underlined by Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies , who expressed all his gratitude for the invitation to address the Plenary Assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Canadian Bishops, which takes place from 23 to 27 September at the Nav Center, Cornwall, Ontario.
Focusing in particular on the nature of the mission, the Archbishop reiterated the validity of what the Second Vatican Council affirms in the Ad gentes missionary decree, highlighting that "in the past, mission was sometimes wrongly interpreted to be aid for development", and this caused some problems in Canada because "what began as support to the mission, turned into aid for development".
"In my opinion, the decades that separate us from the Council have not diminished - the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies continued -, but, on the contrary, have highlighted the need for the mission and the mission ad gentes, that is, to reach those who do not know Christ. We all know that the missionary nature of the Church has been of great concern to the Holy Father since his programmatic document, where he says that missionary activity is paradigmatic for every activity of the Church. But I would also add that reality itself is imposing the need for the missio ad gentes. This is clear if we consider the statistics: in England, 53% of the population affirms not having any religious affiliation; in Germany, a survey predicts that in the year 2060, Christians will be reduced to half the current number, mainly because young people between the ages of 25 and 40 no longer baptize their children. Therefore, even in the West, the reality of the facts compels us to the missio ad gentes, that is, to the proclamation of the faith to those who do not believe".
Inherent to this concept of the missio ad gentes is the exchange of missionary personnel, which, in the past, the Canadian Church would send out and, currently, mainly receive. "In fact, the mission is a privileged field in which the relationship of mutual enrichment between the universal Church and the local Church is made manifest - underlined Archbishop Dal Toso -. If it is true that the universal Church is concretely found in the local Church, it is also true that the local Church cannot exist without the universal Church. This mutual relationship prevents the local Church from closing in on itself and becoming a national Church. The more the local Church opens up to the mission, the more it discovers that it is a universal Church, open to the needs of all men. Indeed, the missionary activity demonstrates that no Church is autonomous, but rather lives in the vital flow that unites it to all the Churches".
Therefore the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies focused on this universal-local relationship, "opening ourselves to the universal Church and to its needs not only enables us to give, but also to receive. At this point, I would like to stress that the episcopal ministry itself, according to the Council, must be considered in this light".
The charisma of the Pontifical Mission Societies, "a worldwide network at the service of the Pope to sustain the mission and the young Churches through prayer and charity" is found in this broad vision of missio ad gentes and of the relationship between local and universal of which the Archbishop illustrated the origins, goals and structure, highlighting their profound relationship with the diocesan pastoral care.
Dwelling on missionary cooperation between dioceses, Mgr. Dal Toso highlighted that it "cannot replace the universal missionarity that the Successor of Peter serves as Universal Pastor" and that "human mobility also brings new life to our Churches of ancient tradition". However, he pointed out that "the welcoming of priests and religious in Western countries must be paired with serious accompaniment" and that agreement between the Bishop a quo and the Bishop ad quem "should also include a limited duration of such service", as "we cannot impoverish the mission territories of the clergy that they themselves still need".
In the concluding part of his speech, the Archbishop focused on the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019, illustrating its historical genesis, theological-pastoral motivation and some practical aspects. "At times, in fact, one can be tempted to consider the mission only as one of the Church’s many dimensions - said Mgr. Dal Toso -, nevertheless, the mission is essential, and it is important to understand the connection between ordinary pastoral activity and missionary pastoral activity. Missionary awareness is not something separated from pastoral care, but it is in some way its culmination. This is ultimately the goal of our PMS, and the Missionary Month is an extraordinary opportunity for this: to help the ordinary pastoral activity of the Church find new strength in this missionary dimension that makes it go beyond itself".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BURUNDI - "The vote, the only way to get an alternation in power" write the Bishops

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 13:14
Bujumbura - "We appreciate the fact that many of our fellow citizens have understood that the elections are the only way to obtain an alternation in power", say the Bishops of Burundi in the message read during yesterday's masses, Sunday 22 September, focused on the presidential and legislative elections of 20 May 2020.
In the document, sent to Fides, after recalling the peace and reconciliation agreement with which "the Burundians are committed to breaking the spirit of division on which dictatorial and oppressive power is founded", the Bishops stress that "the greater part of the population has understood that, in case of conflict, dialogue is the privileged way to solve it".
Burundi has been experiencing for years a profound political, institutional, social and economic crisis, which has driven hundreds of thousands of Burundians to take refuge in neighboring countries, after President Pierre Nkurunziza in 2015 obtained a third term in contempt of the old Constitutional Charter and of the Arusha Peace Accords of 2000.
In the message the Bishops express their appreciation for the commitment of the members of the various parties in preparing the vote, "even if there are some problems".
"Although there are several things we appreciate, we cannot but highlight some issues that worry and disturb most Burundians", the message states. First of all, the violence against members of certain political parties, despite the fact that multi-party politics is recognized by the Constitution. "In some regions - the declaration denounces - criminal acts with a political background, including murders are committed. In most cases, the victims are those who have opinions other than those of the government".
The Bishops also recall the numerous Burundians who fled abroad. "It would be a good thing if elections were held after their repatriation, in a voluntary manner and without constraints", they say. The statement concludes by addressing Christians, many of whom are involved in Catholic Action movements and apostolate groups, asking them to give testimony of their faith, because "by virtue of Baptism you have become new creatures", and therefore act as "apostles of peace".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - "Friday For Future" in Kabul: "We are fighting to give hope to future generations"

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 13:04
Kabul - "There are many problems in Afghanistan, linked to the fear of war and explosions. But, during our marches, we think: we young people are fighting for a better future, to give the next generation hope. We had already started some small activities for the protection of the environment, but when we discovered that the whole world was engaged in a global campaign, we decided to join the challenge launched by Greta Thunberg. We did it because we believe that every country should oppose the crisis that affects our planet. We are currently active in Kabul, but in the future we will also reach four other provinces". This is what Qais Murshid, member of the leadership of the "Friday For Future - Afghanistan" movement, which welcomes young Afghans especially from Kabul told Agenzia Fides.
"Our goal is to fight against global warming and to reduce the impact of plastic and air pollution. We are also committed to building the culture of environmental care", explains the young activist.
The Afghan movement, he says, was born in July 2019: "Our first march involved over 200 people, while the second was much wider: many citizens joined, we were not able to know the exact number of participants. The initiative was very well received, because many people have finally taken awareness of the problem of global warming and that the environmental crisis also affects our country".
Afghanistan's ecological issues, the young man points out, "differ from those in other countries. The two main problems are water contamination and heavy air pollution. Furthermore, a very serious phenomenon is the alternation of droughts and floods: last year we saw people leaving their areas of origin due to the lack of water, but at the same time, floods killed people and destroyed homes and agricultural land. The other difficulties are linked to the disposal of waste and the lack of a sensitivity regarding respect for the environment".
The spread of a culture of protection of the "common home" is one of the key points of the Encyclical "Laudato sì". According to Pope Francis, it "cannot be reduced to a series of urgent and partial responses to the problems that arise regarding environmental degradation, the depletion of nature reserves and pollution. It should be a different look, a thought, a policy, an educational program, a lifestyle and a spirituality that give form to a resistance in the face of the advancing of the technocratic paradigm". The spirit of young Afghans is proceeding in this direction. Agenzia Fides, 23/9/2019)
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Ebola: "As religious communities we must encourage the population to trust health professionals", says the Bishop of Goma

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 12:56
Kinshasa - " We are jubilant at the marvels of medical science in finding a vaccine to cure this deadly disease, but a cure brings no hope if fearful people have no trust in the health teams administering the drug. Without such work by the faith communities who have the trust of the local population, hundreds if not thousands more people will die of Ebola, and the disease could spread out of control", said His Exc. Mgr. Willy Ngumbi Ngenele, Bishop of Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a meeting of faith leaders on the Ebola epidemic that hit this area of the country. The health authorities of the DRC announced their intention to introduce a second experimental vaccine against Ebola, starting in mid-October.
Faith leaders expressed their concerns that past lessons from the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia had not been learnt.
"Here in DRC these lessons from the past are just starting to be realised. The Church was left on the sidelines at the start of the Ebola outbreak in August last year. We were not consulted right from the start. The result? Response teams have been attacked, even killed, and treatment centres burned down. We can play an essential role as faith leaders, in stemming the spread of this appalling disease", said Mgr. Ngumbi.
The World Health Organisation reports that as of 9 September 2019, the number of cases has reached more than 3,000, with 2,070 deaths, making the Ebola outbreak in DRC the second worst in history.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - More than 200 cases of violence against Christians in India in 2019

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 12:17
New Delhi - There are over 200 episodes of violence against Christians reported in India in 2019: this is the data sent to Agenzia Fides by the NGO "Alliance Defending Freedom" based in New Delhi. In a report by the organization, 218 incidents of various kinds occurred in 243 days in 2019. Of these, 159 were episodes of mass violence, about 27 such incidents every month, claimed ADF-India,
The incidents were reported to the United Christian Forum toll-free number, notes ADF-India, which is committed to providing free legal assistance to the victims.
The note sent to Fides states: "The modus operandi followed in the 159 cases of mass violence is the same. A crowd accompanied by the police arrives to disturb a prayer celebration, shouts slogans and hits members of the assembly of the faithful, including women and children. Then the Pastors who lead the liturgy are arrested or detained by the police with the false accusation of forced conversions", says A.C. Michael, a Catholic activist and one of the leaders of ADF-India. According to Michael, "none of these false accusations has ever been upheld in a court of law. In fact almost all the arrested Pastors have been released or acquitted because the charges are false and unsustainable and no one can provide evidence of forced conversions". This approach, he notes, "means that in fact many Christians are experiencing restrictions on their freedom to practice their faith in much of the Indian territory since this happens in 23 states out of 28 states in India".
In Uttar Pradesh, 51 incidents are reported, 41 in Tamil Nadu, 24 in Chhattisgarh, 17 in Jharkhand, 16 in Karnataka, 14 in Telangana, 12 in Andhra Pradesh, 9 in Maharashtra, 6 in Haryana, 5 in Bihar, 4 in Delhi, 3 in Odisha, 2 in Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Rajasthan and West Bengal, 1 in Goa, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Tripura.
ADF notes the tendency not to present complaints against the perpetrators of the violence: in fact, only 25 out of 218 were presented. "This shows the tacit understanding among the violent and the police, who obviously enjoy the patronage of leaders or local officials politicians", notes ADF. Sometimes failure to file a complaint is also due to fear of reprisals, says Michael. "The impunity that the police and the government grant to the perpetrators of violence contributes to eroding the confidence that victims can have in authority", notes Michael.
Since 2014, attacks on Christians have steadily increased, stresses ADF: 292 in 2018, 240 in 2017, 208 in 2016, 177 in 2015 and 147 in 2014.
"No one should be persecuted because of his faith. It is worrying to see these horrendous acts of mass violence continue even after a series of indications given by the Supreme Court", says Tehmina Arora, director of ADF-India.
John Dayal, a secular Catholic human rights activist, comments to Fides: "It is a good sign that these data are disseminated. If Pakistan is repeatedly criticized by the Indian government and internationally for its treatment towards religious minorities, the Indian government led by Bharatiya Janata Party continues to deny the widespread violence against Indian Christians, saying they are sporadic incidents and refuses to indicate members of Hindu extremist groups as those responsible, protected by the police".
The Catholic leader notes: "We stress the need for a national law to control targeted violence against religious minorities. Without this law, fundamentalist elements with state protection will continue to terrorize religious minorities, and in particular the Christian community in rural areas".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - Apostolic Armenian Bishops: candidates resident abroad are not excluded from the election of the new Patriarch

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 11:34
Istanbul - Exponents of the Commission of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchate of Constantinople in charge of coordinating and accompanying the entire process for the election of the new Patriarch have expressed the hope that no restrictions will be placed on the list of potential candidates for the patriarchal office. The hope was expressed in particular by bishops who hold authoritative roles in the Patriarchate, including Archbishop Aram Ateşyan - for a long time "locum tenens" of the Patriarchate, during the years of the debilitating illness of previous Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan, who died last March - and Archbishop Sahak Masalyan, in charge of coordinating the entire electoral process, with the title of "Degabah" . Both Archbishops expressed their wish that the same directives used in the previous patriarchal elections are re-proposed, without placing limitations on the list of possible candidates.
The application of the decree that determines the procedures for the election of the new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, being prepared by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior, will be aimed at regulating the electoral process. The legal precedent used as a point of reference in recent decades is a procedure dating back to 1961. Since then, the bilingual Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos reports - the decrees for carrying out the patriarchal election have never excluded potential candidates in the electoral process born in Turkey but living abroad.
At the beginning of August, as reported by Agenzia Fides , a roadmap was set that will lead to the election of Mesrob's successor. The Commission delegated to prepare the election of the Patriarch of the Armenians of Turkey had decided to propose the days of 7, 8 and 11 December 2019 as dates in which the final phases of the patriarchal election will take place. According to the proposed calendar, on December 7 the religious delegates called to choose the name of the new Patriarch in the list of potential candidates will be elected. The elections of civil delegates will be held on 8 December. Finally, on 11 December, the elected delegates will gather to participate in the actual election of the future Patriarch.
Meanwhile, the Hrant Dink Foundation, which bears the name of the Turkish journalist of Armenian origin assassinated in 2007, has published the annual report on discriminatory messages that appeared on Turkish media in 2018. The report shows that once again the main targets of discriminatory expressions conveyed by the Turkish media last year were Jews, Armenians and Syrians.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Parish priest of the Shrine of Our Lady of Health killed during a church robbery

Fides EN - - Lun, 23/09/2019 - 11:21
Brasilia - "It is with regret that the Archdiocese of Brasilia announces the death, on Saturday evening , of Father Kazimierez Wojno , parish priest of the Shrine of Our Lady of Health, in the northern sector 702. Born in Poland, Fr. Casimiro was 71 years old and 46 years of priesthood. The archdiocese is following the case.
We invite everyone to participate in the vigil, Mass and funeral at the Parish of Our Lady of Health. Let us pray for his soul, his family and his parish community".
This is the text of the note sent to Fides by the Archdiocese of Brasilia concerning the violent death of Father Casimiro. According to the first police information, 6 men entered the church after the last Mass on Saturday evening and took the priest and the church caretaker as hostages.
Father Casimiro was found dead, with his hands and feet tied and a wire around his neck, in a field beside the church. Unfortunately it is not the first time that this church suffers theft: at Easter religious objects and sacred vessels with the Blessed Sacrament had been stolen.
Father Kazimierz Andrzej Wojno was born on February 3, 1948 in the town of Skłody Borowe in the Diocese of Lomza, Poland. He was ordained a priest on 27 May 1973. A second note from the Archdiocese sent to Fides informs that the funeral will be celebrated today, 23 September, at 2 pm chaired by the Cardinal Archbishop of Brasilia, Sergio da Rocha.
Categorie: From the church