AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Violence in Latin American countries: Bishops call to "pray and work for peace"

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 13:28
Asunción - "In response to situations of great violence and attacks on people and holy places in different countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region, we invite all the Catholic faithful and all those who believe in God to join us in prayer to stop abuses, clashes among brothers and to respect religious freedoms": this is the appeal launched by the Secretary General of the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Amancio Benítez, Bishop of Benjamín Aceval, in a message of November 19 inviting "to pray and work for peace".
Mgr. Benitez recalls that "peace is a gift of God and at the same time our commitment", urging us to ask "the Prince of Peace to give it to us and to encourage all of God's children to work for it".
The message recalls the words of Mgr. Héctor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, OFM, President of the Latin American Episcopal Council , in the face of the serious situation that Chile and many Latin American countries is facing: "the pilgrim Church in Latin America and in the Caribbean is a body, when a part of the body suffers, the Church suffers, shares its pain, but also its hope", this is why it is necessary to insist on the need to "seek peace through dialogue, with the participation of all the protagonists and institutions, to find real solutions oriented to the common good" .
The Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Paraguay concludes his appeal by invoking our Lord Jesus Christ so as to help "strengthen ourselves in prayer and find solutions to live in peace in our nations".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Human rights violations take place every day in the Sahel; the whole area risks sinking into insecurity

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 13:08
Ouagadougou - "In the Sahel the fundamental human rights are violated every day: the right to life, to religious freedom, to education, to property, to security" denounce the Bishops of Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Mali and Ivory Coast, in a statement released at the end of a meeting held in Ouagadougou, on the crisis that is devastating the region due to the violence of armed jihadist groups that hit vast areas of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso. This last country in particular has recorded more than 700 deaths and 500,000 internally displaced persons and refugees caused by incursions by armed groups since 2015.
"The epicenter of insecurity was first in Mali. Now it is Burkina Faso that is at the heart of the conflict", said Patrick Youssef, Deputy Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross for Africa, during the press conference at the International Forum in Dakar on peace and security in Africa, where the Sahel crisis was at the center of the works.
Even Countries touched so far marginally by jihadist terrorism have expressed concern about the situation in which neighboring states live. "One must never think that terrorist threat affects others. All the countries in the world are currently affected by this threat, also the Ivory Coast", said Foreign Minister of the Ivory Coast, a Country that suffered a terrorist attack in Grand Bassam in March 2016, at the Dakar forum.
The serious insecurity in which vast areas of Burkina Faso live did not prevent the opening on November 18 in Ouagadougou of the 4th Congress of Africa and Madagascar on Divine Mercy. The Congress, presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou, which will end on November 24, is entitled "Divine Mercy: a grace for our time".
Among the themes of the reports that are presented at the Congress, several deal with issues that have a connection with the crisis of the area, from the manipulation of conflicts to the illegal and brutal exploitation of natural resources, from the distortions of international trade to the deepening of the gap between the rich and the poor.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Palayamkottai

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 13:00
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed Antonysamy Savarimuthu, of the clergy of the same diocese currently lecturer at St. Peter's Seminary in Bangalore, as Bishop of the diocese of Palayamkottai . Antonysamy Savarimuthu was born on 8 December 1960, in Vadakku Vandaman, diocese of Palayamkottai. He entered the minor Seminary of Madurai, and continued his philosophical and theological studies in Bangalore . He received a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Theology, a Master's Degree in English Literature and a Doctorate in Canon Law at the Institut Catholique in Paris . He was ordained a priest on April 26, 1987, for the diocese of Palayamkottai.
Since his ordination, he has held the following positions: 1987-1989: Bishop's Secretary; 1989-1992: Lecturer in the minor Seminary of Madurai; 1992-2001: Studies for a Doctorate in Canon Law in Paris; 2001-2010: Visiting Professor at the Seminary of Bangalore; 2001-2004: Rector of Christ Hall Seminary in Madurai; 2004-2011: Vicar General; 2004-2005: parish priest of the Infant Jesus Shrine in Shantinagar; 2005-2009: Rector of the Sanctuary of San Giuda in Maharajanagar; 2009-2011: Rector of St. Mary's Seminary and Director of the Vocations Center; since 2011: Resident lecturer at St. Peter's Seminary in Bangalore.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - The Barnabite, Scalese: "The exchange of prisoners, a necessary step towards peace"

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 12:48
Kabul - "A morally difficult choice to accept, but politically necessary to resolve the conflict". Barnabite priest, Fr. Giovanni Scalese at the head of the local Missio sui iuris, comments the release, that took place yesterday, 19 November, in Afghanistan of two Westerners who had been held for more than three years in exchange for the release of three senior insurgent leaders. The Westerners were released to American forces by the Taliban, and included an American, Kevin C. King, 63, and an Australian, Timothy J. Weeks, 50, teachers at the American University in Kabul who were abducted in August 2016, in addition to ten Afghan soldiers.
"How can you free three men accused of such serious crimes?" Father Scalese asked the question that many Afghans are asking President Ashraf Ghani, who on November 12th announced the forthcoming prisoner exchange, which ended on Tuesday, November 19. The biography of the three militants is clear: Anas Haqqani is the son of the founder of the jihadist network Jalaluddin and brother of the current leader Sirajuddin, who is also the number two of the "Rahbari shura", the great council of the Taliban. For the Haqqani, a front affiliated with the Taliban but with wide margins of autonomy, he was a sort of "ambassador". The second is Haji Malik Khan, brother of the founder Jaraluddin, captured in 2011. And finally Qari Abdul Rasheed Omari, military commander in southeastern Afghanistan. 12 years in Guantanamo, then responsible for the suicide bombing sector. The three are accused of massacres and bloody attacks: for many Afghans it is difficult to accept their release. Unless it produces concrete results.
President Ghani, who was urged to endorse the exchange by the Trump administration and the regional consensus, presented it as "a bitter choice" to obtain direct talks with the Taliban, so far denied, and the decrease of violence. "Politics must have the courage to make choices that provoke moral perplexities, but which are inevitable for a real and peaceful solution to the conflict", notes Father Scalese. The release of the Taliban could favor the resumption of negotiations with Trump's envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad. In Doha Khalilzad discussed an agreement with a Taliban delegation for months that included some points: the withdrawal of foreign troops in exchange of the guarantees of the break-up of any Taliban relationship with al-Qaeda and with global jihadist groups; the start of talks with the government of Kabul; a ceasefire. The text was ready for signature, but on 7 September Donald Trump announced the end of the talks. The exchange of prisoners is a gesture of mutual trust to shorten the distances. "The political solution is inevitable, a compromise must be reached", concludes Father Scalese.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The challenge of "freedom of speech" in Africa and the need for new prophets

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 11:24
Kinshasa - Freedom of speech in the African continent is a great challenge both in the political and the religious fields. "Speaking freely is far from being granted" - said to Agenzia Fides Father Donald Zagore, of the Society for African Missions.
"This is one of the major challenges that very often seriously undermines the very mission of the Church in Africa", Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Acivescovo of Kinshasa said in recent days. "It is good that this statement comes from an African Cardinal", continues Fr. Zagore. "Our religious leaders in Africa are called to strengthen the prophetic nature of the Church's mission. If there is diplomacy, it must necessarily be itself prophetic".
The SMA missionary argues: "It is necessary to start already from the seminaries to form not only good parish, diocese administrators, but above all prophets. Today, one of the great needs of the African people, too often silenced by all kinds of violence, is that of being guided by prophets who bring hope with their voice. If the Church in Africa does not strive to rekindle the prophetic flame of its mission, it will eventually disappear. However, even if everything is not perfect for the Church - Zagore points out - today we can inaugurate a new era, in the very understanding of the prophetic identity and the mission of the Church in Africa".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MALAYSIA - Bible and Koran together to educate for peace and coexistence

Fides EN - - Mer, 20/11/2019 - 11:18
Penang - Teaching school students the Bible and the Koran at the same time helps foster mutual respect between religions, acceptance and coexistence in Malaysia: this is what was said by Norlela Ariffin, a Muslim member of the People's Justice Party , elected in the legislative assembly of the state of Penang, in the Federation of Malaysia. According to the woman, the Bible in the Malaysian language should not be considered "a threat" to the faith of Muslims, but rather as an opportunity to understand other religions.
As Agenzia Fides learns, since 2017, the woman has been organizing and leading study sessions for Muslim students, in collaboration with the religious Department of the state, proposing a comparison and a synopsis between the Koran and the Malaysian version of the Bible. "Muslims should not think that, only by touching a Bible, they can become impure". On the other hand, the leader also organizes similar study sessions for non-Muslim students to better understand Islam.
The woman defended her position when an opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor, of the Barisan National, brought the issue into the state Legislative Assembly. According to Ariffin, it is appropriate for Muslims to understand other religions and to know other sacred texts. "We live in a multicultural society, it is important for us to understand each other, learn more about each other's faiths, so that there is no fear and suspicion", she said.
Ariffin urged lawmakers to reject prejudices and discrimination related to religion or ethnicity by calling for peace, harmony and understanding in the country. "No one has the right to polarize society, rather it is necessary to promote respect, love and acceptance for other religions".
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country. Its population is made up of nearly 32 million people, of whom over 60% are Maaya ethnic Muslims. Catholics represent only 4% of the population.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - A new building for the Issyk Center, the holiday home for disabled and poor children

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 13:57
Bishkek - The Issyk Center, the home for disabled and poor Kyrgyz children, located on the shores of Lake Issyk-kul and managed by the religious of the Society of Jesus, will be expanded with the construction of a new building. This is what Jesuit, Fr. Anthony Corcoran, Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan reported.
"On 21 October, together with Fr. Remigiusz Kalski, director of the Center, we blessed the foundations of the new building, which will be complementary to the existing one: it will be a two-storey building, 562 square meters, which should contain an activity room and the rooms for children, volunteers and workers", says the Apostolic Administrator.
The project involves the construction of 11 rooms, 1 chapel room, 1 storage office, 11 showers and health services, all with adaptations for the disabled: "On the first floor there will be rooms for disabled children, their parents and for full-time employees. The rooms on the second floor will instead be allocated to all other children, volunteers and seasonal workers".
The activities of the Issyk Center take place mainly in the summer, when camps are set up for disabled children, orphans and the poor, often carried out in collaboration with Kyrgyz social assistance facilities. Furthermore, every year an astronomy camp is organized. Fr. Corcoran explains: "During last summer, we registered a record of one hundred and ten children who traveled to Issyk-Kul Lake to participate in our fourth annual astronomical camp. With the snow-capped peaks to the south and the warm waters of the lake to the north, the environment was idyllic". The participants were accompanied by their physics teachers and supervised by Father Adam Malinowski, a Jesuit astrology fan, as well as by volunteers from Austria, England, France and Germany.
"Our mission, in this case did not include any spiritual activity, since both students and teachers were Muslims, but this does not make the work done any less important. In the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, we Christians are called to commit ourselves and to assist all of God's children. Meetings such as the field of astronomy are opportunities to express God's love for every person, spending time with non-Christians, helping at the same time to present a positive picture of us Catholics to people who may never have met one", concludes the Apostolic Administrator, explaining all the possible pre-evangelization activities in that context.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/SYRIA - Erdogan: churches destroyed in Syria will be rebuilt

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 13:46
Deir ez Zor - The Turkish government is "particularly sensitive" with respect to the condition of Christian communities in the Middle Eastern region, and with its contribution Syrian Christians will see "their sanctuaries come back to life and their churches will be rebuilt, so that they will be able to return to their lands and start praying there again". With these words Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wanted to deny the arguments of those who in recent weeks have indicated the local Christian communities as victims and targets of the Turkish military intervention in the north-east of Syria. The challenging statements of the Turkish leader came during a press conference he held with US President Donald Trump, after the recent meeting between the two leaders in Washington last week. Erdogan spoke of "plans" put on the agenda by the Turkish government in favor of Christians, stating that the Christian communities present in the border areas under the control of Turkey have no particular problems, and have also received "health assistance and humanitarian aid".
Meanwhile, in the areas of north-eastern Syria which have once again become the site of armed conflict between the various military actors present in the region, according to various sources the city of Tal Tamr, once inhabited mainly by Syrian and Chaldean Christians, is under the control of the Russian armed forces, allies of the Syrian army.
Tal Tamr, an urban center of strategic importance in the province of Hassakè during the Syrian conflict was in fact controlled for a long time by the Kurdish militias of the Popular Protection Units , while in more recent times the city had ended up under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces .
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - National dialogue convened: to pacify the country, hold elections and a new electoral Court

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 13:38
La Paz - The Bolivian Episcopal Conference , representatives of the European Union and the United Nations officially convened the national dialogue table yesterday, November 18, at 2.30 pm, with three objectives: to pacify the country, to define the agreements for new general elections, to agree on the election of a new Supreme Electoral Court.
In the video sent, Mgr. Aurelio Pesoa Ribera, O.F.M., Auxiliary Bishop of La Paz and Secretary General of the CEB read the statement during a press conference, which was also attended by Mgr. Eugenio Scarpellini, Bishop of El Alto and National Director of PMS Bolivia.
"Dialogue is the appropriate way to overcome the differences between Bolivians, so we invite everyone to respond to this invitation. Holding new, transparent and reliable elections, is the best way to overcome differences in a democratic and peaceful way. We ask the media and media leaders to lower the tone of public statements to facilitate dialogue and understanding among all", reads the text sent to Fides. The communiqué concludes: "God bless and help everyone, especially political and social leaders, to fulfill their personal and historical responsibilities for the pacification of the Country".
Bolivia has experienced moments of bitter violence during the clashes of groups in favor of former President Morales, now abroad, and opposition groups. Parallel to the political proposals, a popular confrontation on religious symbols has developed. Agenzia Fides reports the Infodecom editorial, which explains that "It is not a war between God and the Pachamama". "We believe that the Word of God cannot be used as a sign of racial supremacy or as a political party property. The presence of these sacred signs, such as the cross or the rosary, should be gradual and in no case be seen as a trophy", writes Infodecom in the editorial sent to Fides.
"Let us not fall into the trap of a political, social or cultural sector, taking possession of signs and symbols that belong to everyone and that represent above all the truth, the journey and peace, that is the opposite of the violence being carried out these days", continues the editorial.
"We believe that the role of religion can be very useful in this dramatic moment, religion will not remain alone in the sacristies as many would like ... We must start a school of reconciliation", concludes the text.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Seminar on integral development: the State promotes social justice

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 13:24
Abidjan - 10 proposals emerged from the seminar on "Integral human development, Path of peace, Path to the future" which took place from 13 to 14 November, in Abidjan. The seminar is a joint initiative of the Embassy of Côte d'Ivoire at the Holy See and the Department for the service of integral human development in view of the celebration in 2020, of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Ivory Coast and Holy See .
As Agenzia Fides learns, the participants, consisting mainly of representatives of the Ivorian government, religious leaders and civil society actors, elaborated the following proposals that were illustrated by dr. Guouéra of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development:
1) The participants invite the State and universities to consider the formulation of indicators to measure the state of integral human development;
2) The State is invited to strengthen a legal framework that promotes social justice;
3) The State must take into consideration the real needs of the populations benefiting from development programs even during the construction of infrastructures;
4) State, parties and civil society actors must define the priority interventions for the Country;
5) Political parties must promote a democratic life that is substantial;
6) Religious leaders and believers are called to live the social dimension of their faith;
7) Economic actors are invited to work responsibly, promoting equal rights for workers;
8) Families, educators and the media must promote a culture of respect and acceptance even among different generations;
9) It is necessary that State, parties, civil society actors actively engage for peace and prevent the onset of tensions;
10) The State and the economic actors are invited to encourage the production of foods that allow healthy and diversified nutrition in respect of biodiversity.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - "One does not improvise to become martyr": the testimony of Fr. Moscoso, the first martyr of Ecuador

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 12:58
Riobamba - "The virtuous life and the heroic death of Blessed Emilio Moscoso encourage each of us to bring the light of the Gospel to our contemporaries with enthusiasm, as he did. His testimony is current and offers us a meaningful message: one does not improvise to become martyr, martyrdom is the fruit of a faith rooted in God and lived day by day; faith requires consistency, courage and an intense capacity to love God and one’s neighbor, with the gift of oneself". These are the words pronounced by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during the solemn celebration that he presided over on 16th November at the Olympic Stadium in Riobamba, for the beatification of Fr. Emilio Moscoso Cardenas, Jesuit, first martyr of Ecuador.
Emilio Moscoso was born in Cuenca on 21 August 1846 and died a martyr, assassinated at 51 years of age on 4 May 1897, during the Liberal Revolution with strong anticlerical connotations that shocked Ecuador at that time. After studying law he joined the Society of Jesus. Ordained a priest in 1877, he completed his studies in France and Spain. After three years in a school in Peru, he returned to Ecuador, first to the Collegio San Luis , then to the Collegio San Felipe Neri , of which he was appointed rector in 1892. In a context of strong hostility towards the Church on behalf of the government, on May 2, Father Moscoso was arrested, but the pressure from people who appreciated the work of the Jesuits led to his release the next day. On May 4, the soldiers forcibly entered the Jesuit school and, after carrying out sacrilegious acts in the chapel, found Father Moscoso praying in his room, reciting the Rosary and was killed. The colonel responsible for the operation personally dragged his body into the street to continue to disfigure him, but he had to stop due to the reaction of the soldiers and the protests of the population.
"Father Emilio Moscoso is a model of a priest who was a courageous witness to the love of Christ - said Cardinal Becciu -. The priests, religious and the entire Church in Ecuador is encouraged to imitate the new blessed who gave his life for the Gospel ... His executioners, wanted to hit the Catholic faith. But it was a useless attempt. The martyrdom of this heroic Jesuit has highlighted that violence is not able to remove faith from people, nor eliminate the presence of the Church in society".
All the Bishops of Ecuador participated in the solemn celebration of the beatification. In the text sent to Fides, they underline: "Ecuador is experiencing delicate moments of political, social and economic instability. The strong poverty suffered by many of our brothers and the necessary interculturality urge us to learn to live the needs of a coexistence based on peace, justice and equity. We will continue to accompany our people in the search for peace". Finally they reiterate: "Let us conclude with the Beatification of Fr. Emilio Moscoso, S.J., martyr of the Eucharist".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Humanitarian aid after the cyclone: appeal of "Catholic Relief Services"

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 11:50
Dhaka - The populations hit by the recent cyclone in Bangladesh urgently need further humanitarian aid: this is the appeal launched to Agenzia Fides by Snigdha Chakraborty, at the head of "Catholic Relief Service" for Bangladesh. CRS, a Catholic humanitarian organization, which depends on the United States Bishops' Conference, is working with Caritas Bangladesh to carry out an initial assessment of the damage and provide immediate assistance to those affected. The 9 November cyclone hit the coastal areas of Bangladesh and India, especially West Bengal, causing at least 34 victims.
Catholic Relief Services and its other humanitarian organizations have mobilized but "we need more support", says Chakraborty. "Many people need significant support, but it must be said that the prevention activities prepared by the government have borne fruit. Most people have been able to enter shelters prepared for evacuation and are out of danger", he said.
The storm has damaged thousands of homes and nearly 500,000 hectares of crops. Over 2 million people have been forced to shelters. "Those affected need food, tents, toilets, medical assistance", says Chakraborty. "We are concerned that the cyclone shelters are not sufficient for anything more than a very short stay. People are eating snack food and bread as the shelters have no facilities to cook", he explains.
"Families will be in the shelters at minimum another two days under heavy rains, and for the people who return to find their homes damaged or destroyed, they are looking at even longer displacement … Caritas Bangladesh has provided their shelters with water jars sufficient through today, but this will be a critical need for the next few days", he adds.
CRS has partnered with Caritas Bangladesh, both of which helped with evacuations. Among the 300 operational shelters, Caritas Bangladesh opened 40 cyclone shelters. CRS is doing its best especially in areas that are difficult to reach inland. "Right now, we are very focused on the badly affected Sathkhira and Khulna districts on the coast, which continue to experience heavy rain and high winds", he said.
"According to early reports, significant losses in agriculture and heavy damage to homes are registered in Khulna. Storms have devastated remote areas of Sathkhira". The CRS manager concludes: "Government and volunteers have done a good job. But now that we have rescued them, we need to make an extra effort to support the victims".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Health activities to support the population: partnerships between missionaries and voluntary associations

Fides EN - - Mar, 19/11/2019 - 11:37
Kolowaré - The collaboration between missionaries and voluntary organizations, not necessarily of Christian inspiration, bears good fruit in Togo. This is what Silvano Galli, a priest of the Society for African Missions, tells Agenzia Fides. The missionary reports the valuable contribution offered by Dr. Gian Franco Mirri, a gynecologist from Imola who has been working in Togo for years and who regularly visits Kolowaré. The doctor is part of the AVIAT , a lay organization, composed of doctors, nurses and volunteers, founded in 2005, which has been operating in Togo for many years.
Father Galli announces: "On 20 and 21 November 2019 the technicians will go to Kolowaré to install a work station for dental care. Currently in Kolowaré - adds Fr. Galli - the ‘Artemisia’ project is also underway, a shrub useful for treating malaria, which is consumed in the form of herbal tea. An AVIAT volunteer will move to Kolowaré to take ten doses of Artemisia to take to the orphanage in Kpalimé".
The missionary reports that the association is in contact with the Bishop of Sokodé, Mgr. Celestin Gaoua, in Adjengré, where the diocese is building a health center, and the bishop asked him for assistance and help.
AVIAT operates and intervenes in various areas, mainly healthcare. Volunteers in Togo pay constant attention to the needs of the population, guarantee antimalarial prophylaxis, HIV prevention, prevention and treatment of eye and dental diseases. It collaborates with existing health facilities run by religious, as well as with public dispensaries in isolated villages. It helps the young Togolese with small work projects and microcredit, with the construction of wells, schools, infrastructures. It also promotes meetings and initiatives for schools, groups, movements and the civil community to raise awareness of Africa and, in particular, Togo.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - The closing of the Extraordinary Missionary Month has opened a new page of Evangelization in Tanzania

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 13:09
Dar es Salaam - "The pastoral visit of the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the world, His Exc Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, is a sign that the local church of Tanzania is in communion with the Universal Church", declared the President of the Conference, His Exc. Mgr. Gervas John Mwasikwabhila Nyaisonga, Archbishop of Mbeya, during the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Missionary Month .
"Missionary activity is not limited to a month but a daily activity. Hence, this climax signals the beginning of our lifelong commitment to evangelization for the betterment of the world and salvation of the people", said Mgr. Nyaisonga.
"Furthermore, the presence of the National Directors of English Speaking Africa for their continental meeting was a clear sign that there is coordination and close collaboration in laying strategies for future evangelization among the Pontifical Mission Societies animators", says the National Director of the PMS in Tanzania, Fr. Jovitus Mwijage
At the NDESA meeting the diocesan and national directors and the rectors of the major seminaries discussed three topics. The first concerned the sacraments and the Missio ad gentes. The participants emphasized the role of catechists in evangelization and the importance of evangelization through families. The second topic was interreligious dialogue. The last topic was the importance of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Evangelization.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGER - Prayer for the release of Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli 14 months after his abduction

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:57
Niamey – After fourteen months since the abduction of the missionary of the SAM , Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, which took place in Niger on 17 September 2018 , his confrere Fr. Mauro Armanino, sent Fides the following note.
"Prayer for the release of Pier Luigi: God our Father, you call us to freedom ... grant your servant, enslaved, to find freedom". This prayer, recited during Mass throughout the diocese of Niamey and elsewhere, began the meeting with the catechumens of the Niamey sector, yesterday, Sunday 17 November. The place where this prayer was recited is not accidental. It was the 'place of memory', which recalls, through a statue of charred Mary, a broken cross and a layer of ashes, the attack on the churches of Zinder and Niamey of 16-17 January 2015 .
Between the two events, we reminded the over one hundred catechumens gathered for formation, that there is a dramatic continuity. World tolerance day was celebrated on November 16th. An ambiguous word, yet the bearer of innumerable consequences.
The catechumens, gathered near the ashes of the churches, were silent and attentive. Sunday is the day of the resurrection".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Catholic Mission support for victims of terrorism in Sri Lanka

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:47
Sydney - "I recently returned from one of the most difficult journeys of my priestly life: I visited the survivors of the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, innocent people whose lives were torn to pieces. It has been months since that terrible day and a lot has been done to help those in need, but there is still so much to do. The difficult situation of these people moved me and prompted me to write, asking for the help of the members of our Catholic community". This is the letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, that Father Brian Lucas, National Director of Catholic Mission, Australian section of the Pontifical Mission Societies, addressed to all the Australian faithful, asking to support the victims of the attacks that last April 21, Easter Day 2019, hit three churches and some hotels in the area of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka.
"One of the moments that moved me most was the encounter with the survivors of the massacres: for example, Thilina, a 34-year-old woman who probably will need treatment for the rest of her life due to the head injury reported on April 21. Then I met many children who had lost one or both parents", says Fr. Lucas.
To support the families affected, Catholic Mission has launched a fundraiser, which will finance scholarships for orphaned children and also a post-trauma counseling program, dedicated to those who still cannot psychologically overcome the shock of the attacks.
Fr. Lucas exolains: "The diocese of Colombo has made many efforts to help survivors overcome the trauma. A program called ‘On the Road of Peace’ is already active, which consists of group therapy sessions among people who have recently experienced experiences of strong violence and others who have overcome equally difficult moments and now live happily. This serves to give hope to those who saw the Easter massacre with their own eyes".
The April 21 attacks were attributed to the "National Thowheeth Jama'ath", a local terrorist group, and caused 253 deaths. In addition to four accommodation facilities, three Christian places of worship were affected: the sanctuary of St. Anthony in Kotahena, the church of St. Sebastian in Negombo and the church of Sion in Batticaloa. In the park of the church of St. Sebastian a memorial chapel was built in honor of the victims, with funds donated by Catholics from around the world.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Pakistani Church inaugurates "The Year of Youth"

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:19
Lahore - The Catholic Church in Pakistan inaugurates the Year of Youth: with a celebration held on November 16 in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Lahore, the Bishops of Pakistan announced the event before an assembly of over a thousand faithful, especially young people, who came from all the dioceses of Pakistan.
Bishop Samson Shukardin, Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Hyderabad and chosen as Coordinator for the Year of Youth, during the mass, concelebrated by all the Bishops, in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, Archbishop Christophe El Kassis, said: "The Year of Youth in Pakistan is a time when the Church strengthens young people, committed to the development of young people in the educational, professional and spiritual fields, so that everyone lives with dignity. It will be a time to listen to them, to listen to the challenges they face in the modern era and to help them grow".
The Bishop encouraged priests, religious, nuns, catechists and lay people to actively take the initiative to meet young people and create opportunities to improve their skills and talents. He then said: "We must also work to reach young people who are far from faith, especially those with various types of addictions such as drugs, to listen to them and help them get out of such addictions".
After the Eucharistic celebration, a ceremony was held to declare the solemn opening of the Year of Youth. Cardinal Joseph Coutts, together with the Apostolic Nuncio and other Bishops, lit the candle of the Year of Youth.
Pope Francis also sent his cordial greetings and assured his prayers for young people in Pakistan. The Apostolic Nuncio Christophe El Kassis read the message in which Pope Francis says "pray so that in the coming months young people will grow in a prayerful union with the Risen Jesus, in the knowledge and love of the Catholic faith and in the zealous service of their brothers". In this way, putting their youth and gifts at the service of the Lord and Church, they will increasingly become "witnesses to the Gospel wherever they are", notes the Pope, entrusting the youth of Pakistan and their families to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - "Come, Lord Jesus": Bishops’ message of hope, December 8 day of prayer for Chile

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 12:06
Lo Canas - At the conclusion of the Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Chile , the Bishops published a message addressed "to the faithful and to the communities of the Catholic Church in Chile" entitled "Come, Lord Jesus" , in which they express hope for the agreements reached in view of a new Constitution, and invite everyone to participate in the debate and announce a day of prayer for Chile on December 8th.
"We appreciate the step taken by the government and political sectors in an agreement to progress towards a new Constitution - write the Bishops in the text sent to Agenzia Fides -. It is a generous gesture that gives us hope. We hope that the new social pact will be consolidated in such a way as to open roads that will really help us to overcome the differences among brothers".
Recalling the protests and the popular discontent clearly manifested in the last month, in the face of inequalities and abuses on relevant topics such as health, environment, wages, pensions, basic services and excessive debt, the Bishops note that "there have been authorities, leaders, businessmen and political and social leaders who have not lived up to the service and responsibilities ... We too, in the Church, have disappointed many Chileans, being a cause of scandal and pain".
The statement recalls the recent pronouncements of the Bishops' Conference on the situation of the country, on the recognition of the right claims and on the condemnation of all forms of violence, reiterating the pain for the dead, the wounded, the destruction of buildings, including places of worship. "We are seriously concerned about the feeling of uncertainty and fear, the anguish of many people for not knowing what will happen tomorrow", they continue, thanking the communities, priests, religious and laity for their commitment to accompany "our people in these difficult times", offering support to those who suffer the most today", hoping that "our Church will continue to be a bridge of unity and peace, a house of protection and a common table in times of pain".
Urging to "trust in the Lord who comes", the Bishops call to intensify "four expressions of our faith at a national level, as part of our response to the situation in the country". The first is "the untiring prayer for peace and justice founded on truth and charity", with an invitation to live throughout the country a great day of prayer for Chile on December 8, the day of the Immaculate Conception, "in which we will consecrate the country to the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary in all our Eucharistic celebrations". They then urge to increase prayer for our people and to "do penance for our personal and social sins that have contributed to injustice and violence".
They, furthermore, invite to participate in every instance of civil society "for the process of a new Constitution and for a new social pact, in a climate of respect and civil friendship". All are then called to "serve, announce and denounce in the style of Jesus", offering comfort and solidarity to the poorest and most vulnerable. Finally, the fourth commitment: "The continuity of our discernment process for ecclesial renewal, opening our hearts to the signs of the times that strongly challenge us, in order to discover what God wants for Chile and for the Church at the service of all" .
The message concludes by reiterating that "only justice leads us to peace" and asking the Lord to bless the country and all its inhabitants, making them instruments of his peace and his love, to "build a great nation of brothers, where everyone has bread, respect and joy".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - Appointment of the Bishop of Eldoret

Fides EN - - Lun, 18/11/2019 - 10:11
Vatican City - On November 16, the Holy Father appointed His Exc. Mgr. Dominic Kimengich, currently Bishop of Lodwar, as Bishop of the Diocese of Eldoret .
Categorie: From the church