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AMERICA/UNITED STATES - "Cutting the roots of racial injustice that infects many areas of society": letter from CELAM to American Bishops

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 12:47
Washington - Latin America reacts united to the situation which unfortunately is taking place these days in the United States of America after the death of George Floyd. Agenzia Fides received from the Presidency of CELAM the letter sent to Archbishop Jose H. GÓMEZ, Archbishop of Los Angeles and President of the Bishops of the United States, on the murder of George Floyd. "We share with you that rejection of a senseless and brutal killing, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice", reads the text. "Neither in the United States nor anywhere else in the world should such acts take place. We appeal not "to stop listening to what people say through their pain "and cut off once and for all the roots "of racial injustice that infects many areas of society", it reads.
All this happens today, after the funeral of George Floyd, in front of many young people with the fear of Covid 19, in front of President Trump who speaks of terrorist violence with the Bible in his hand and in front of Catholic Bishops who continue to appeal to reconciliation and solidarity.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Covid-19, side effects: Catholic schools (already in crisis) risk collapsing

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 12:34
Beirut - With a circular letter published Monday 3 June, Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, Boulos Abdel Sater, ordered the cancellation of the third installment of the fee to be paid by students of the schools of the "La Sagesse" circuit. The measure can only give a temporary break to families affected by the measure. But it will not serve to hide the crisis which threatens to bring down a good part of the system of Maronite Catholic schools and all the institutions connected to the various ecclesial communities.
The economic condition of many Catholic schools, as already documented by Agenzia Fides, had deteriorated especially since summer 2017, after the government at the time had arranged the new "wage grids" for public sector workers, also including the school sector. Since then, the situation had already become unsustainable especially for schools operating in the less prosperous urban and rural areas of the Country. The current school year, marked first by the social blocks connected with the street protests against the government establishment and then by the closure of school buildings imposed by the pandemic crisis, has led to the collapse of an already seriously compromised situation. In some educational institutions, there have been fewer than 15 actual lessons since the start of the school year. The controversy surrounding the emergency status of the Lebanese school system re-exploded in the second half of May, when Minister of Education Tarek Al Majzoub, who on 17 May 2020 without consulting the sector of non-state schools, arranged for the end of the school year on 13 June - held in recent months with "distance" lessons - and the postponement to September of state exams for all school cycles. The Secretariat of Catholic Schools and the unions of teachers of non-state schools welcomed with disappointment the closure of the school year imposed by the government. The Secretariat also issued an open letter to President Michel Aoun, in which, among other things, the crucial role of religious congregations and ecclesial subjects in the development of education in Lebanon is highlighted, as well as the total lack of interest by public institutions in preparing adequate support measures for the emergency, in which institutions that operate essentially free of charge in the economically depressed regions and urban areas are at risk of being heavily hit by the crisis.
Mistrust and discontent grow among all the members of the national school community, and especially among parents, teachers, students, administrative and auxiliary staff of Catholic schools, which play a leading role in Lebanon, given the schools managed directly by the state are unable to guaranteeing levels beyond the claims and accusations of irresponsibility addressed to the political class. It is clear that the operators and those responsible of the Catholic schools sector have so far not developed a unified strategy to deal with the state of crisis. Some institutes - such as those headed by the Marists - continued to pay their wages in full to their employees, while others halved the salaries of their teaching and non-teaching staff.
Recently the Jesuit, Charbel Batour, rector of the Notre-Dame de Jamhour college, during a television program, recognized among other things that all those involved in the emergency were unable to manage the situation "in a human and wise way". "Now", remarked Father Charbel, "every sector considers itself a victim". In recent months, the Notre Dame de Jamhour College had resorted to the extreme measure of sending letters and requests for support to its former pupils of Lebanese schools who now live in comfort in America, in Europe or in the Gulf countries. But the worsening of the situation makes it increasingly evident that even the Lebanese Catholic educational institutions are not on the same boat, and it seems increasingly urgent to make the budgets transparent and to inaugurate forms of collaboration between schools that enjoy good health from a financial point of view and those that carry out their educational work even among the economically weaker sectors of the population.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Coronavirus increases poverty

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 12:11
New Delhi - In India there is a fight, more than against the coronavirus, against the specter of hunger and poverty. Human rights activists and Christian volunteers made an appeal to the government to ensure that food supplies are guaranteed to the poorest and those who have lost their jobs due to the prolonged lockdown of all activities, decreed by the government, to contain the coronavirus, from March 25 to June 30th.
Jesuit Father Irudaya Jyothi, involved in a campaign on the right to food in the state of West Bengal, highlighted several anomalies to Fides with regards to the public distribution system managed by the government especially for the needy. "Unless these gaps are addressed, people who starve will multiply", he stresses. The priest also said that some time ago the media reported that the poor have no food, "but the government does not seem to be concerned about it, and instead plans to produce ethanol from wheat grains, as reported in the state of Haryana".
Capuchin Father Nithya Sagayam, former secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, tells Fides that "the current urgency is to provide food to the needy", observing that "the government has the task of finding new ways to deal with poverty during the health emergency as the economy is declining dramatically".
The Catholic Church in India is doing its best to provide food for the most vulnerable groups and internal migrants, who in the past three months have moved and faced long journeys to return to their countries of origin.
Among the many assistance activities carried out, the "Board for Research Education and Development" , a Christian NGO based in Noida, on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border, managed by the Indian Missionary Society, provides one meal per day to about 36,000 students and disadvantaged children in 75 schools in Jharkhand.
In Bombay, western India, the Canossian nuns feed the poor with the help of lay volunteers, Sister Lavina D'Souza, director of the Mumbai Social Center tells Fides. "The recipients - she notes - are families of day laborers, unemployed, domestic workers and other people who have plunged into poverty in Bombay", she points out.
The widespread lockdown imposed on the nation because of Covid-19, in fact, will push at least 12 million Indian citizens into extreme poverty, says the World Bank in a Report that monitors poverty in the world. According to estimates by the "Center for Monitoring Indian Economy", an independent think tank, about 122 million Indians were jobless in April.
Ashwajit Singh, chief executive officer of "IPE Global", a consulting firm in the development sector, a consultant to several multinationals working in India, noted that in the nation "people could starve to death more than the virus". Singh cites a United Nations University study according to which 104 million Indians may fall below the World Bank-determined poverty line of $ 3.2 a day for lower-middle-income countries. This will bring the overall percentage of people living in poverty in the Indian nation from 60% to 68% : a situation that last occurred in the country over a decade ago.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Love for the Gospel heals racism: healing man's heart to build a civilization of love

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 11:50
Kara - "Only love for the Gospel can cure the disease of racism. The challenge today is to work to build a civilization of love. To carry out such a project, it will obviously be necessary to heal, with the strength of the Gospel message, the heart of man wounded and disfigured by the power of evil". This is what Father Donald Zagore, an Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions, writes to Agenzia Fides, in light of the serious episodes of violence that are taking place in the United States after the killing of an African American in Minneapolis by the police.
"In Africa, - continues Zagore - there are millions of people whose lives are sacrificed day and night because of imperialist and neo-colonialist policies built on contempt for the dignity of African peoples lives".
While protests continue in the US, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was "dismayed to have to add the name of George Floyd to those of many other unarmed African Americans who have died during the years at the hands of the police".
"Faced with such a tragedy, which for centuries has undermined the cohesion of our humanity, we no longer have the right to remain silent. We can no longer and must not continue to endure this world of violence, racism and hatred at all levels", writes the missionary.
The President of the African Union Commission, Moussa FakiMahamat has appealed to tAmerican authorities to "step up efforts to end any racially or ethnically discriminatory act". In the note of the African Union, we recall the Resolution against racial discrimination in the United States of America, signed in Cairo in 1964, during the first summit of Heads of State and government of the Organization for African Unity. In light of that document, the President of the Commission reiterated that the Union "reaffirms its refusal for the continuous acts of discrimination that affect black citizens in the US".
"Let us fill men's hearts with the love of the Gospel and the evil of hatred and racism will go away on its own", concludes Fr. Zagore.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ANGOLA - "Hunger and fear viruses do more damage than COVID-19"

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 11:32
Luanda - "We were in the middle of Lent, a strong moment, a moment of preparation for the Easter of the Lord, when the state of emergency was decreed, while the news that came from other parts of the planet gave rise to another "virus", the virus of fear", reads the statement signed by Fr. Celestino Epalanga, Episcopal Vicar for the Social Area of the Archdiocese of Luanda and Secretary General of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace and Migrants of CEAST on the consequences of COVID-19.
A fear justified by the breathlessness, underlines the document sent to Agenzia Fides, provoked by the new coronavirus "on the health systems of major world powers". "Aware of the precariousness of our health system, the question was inevitable: who will save us from this massacre?".
Conscious that "our help is in the Lord who created heaven and earth" and in order "to strengthen faith and the hope of the faithful, the Bishops encouraged the use of Radio Ecclesia, Radio Maria, Catholic television network, diocesan bulletins and parishes and social networks for the broadcast of Eucharistic celebrations, rosaries etc ... In religious communities moments of prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament intensified and families became true domestic churches. On March 29, a prayer sequence took place in all religious communities, seminaries and Catholic families nationwide asking God to free Angola and the whole world from the pandemic".
"The new coronavirus has highlighted many vulnerable situations and has worsened the socio-economic conditions of many countries and Angola is no exception", says the statement. Over 70% of the Angolan population depends on the informal market to survive. The measures foreseen by the state of emergency have given rise to the phenomenon of the "new poor"; because, due to the restrictions of the state of emergency, poverty has increased. In other words, COVID-19 has pushed large numbers of families into poverty. "A dilemma has arisen: staying at home to prevent COVID-19 and starving, or going out on the street looking for bread, running the risk of being infected and infecting other people and even family members and friends! Weeks before the first COVID-19 cases occurred in Angola, a Cameroonian Jesuit priest said in an article that what would kill Africans is not the new coronavirus, but the hunger virus. In fact, when we walk in the neighborhoods of Luanda and its surroundings, we realize the precariousness and if we do not globalize solidarity and if the executive does not provide food, we will have more deaths from hunger than from coronavirus".
But good can arise from an evil if man lets himself be guided by an enlightened conscience. Fr. Epalanga concludes by stating: "The truth is that the new coronavirus has refined our imagination and forced us to adopt new ways of relating. It has taught us to be more humble and to rethink our public health systems, to improve the social protection system, to be disciplined, to obey rules and authorities, to form a collective conscience, to give greater importance to community life and family life".
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ROMANIA - PMS Director: "During the pandemic the Church had to invent other ways to keep the unity of communities alive"

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 11:16
Bucharest - According to the government's provisions to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, even in Romania the Bishops’ Conference, albeit with great suffering, suspended Masses with the participation of the faithful and pastoral activities. Therefore there was a need to increase Christian education and information through social media and mass media. "This was welcomed at the beginning, but after some time Christians were no longer satisfied with looking at a screen to have a religious experience", explains Fr. Eugene Blaj, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Romania to Agenzia Fides.
"In all parishes the pre-sacramental catechesis had to be interrupted - he continues -. Some parishes had the means to continue holding online meetings for formation and celebration, others did not. From a certain point of view, the Church was more active, because it had to invent other ways to keep the unity of communities alive. Some succeeded, others not so much. Being isolated, other values emerged, such as solidarity with people in need, more time for prayer, sharing among those who live under one roof, etc. Priests responded to Christian emergencies. The Bishops persistently called upon the priests, like the Holy Father continually did, to be available in offering the sacraments to the people. The PMS office continued its pastoral work, in particular with missionary children, through the Zoom platform for prayer, the celebration of mass and the organization of activities".

How does the PMS Special Emergency Fund work for Coronavirus victims in your country? What kind of initiatives have begun with that Fund?

As soon as I received the message from our President of the PMS, Archbishop Dal Toso, I informed the diocesan Directors and shared it on the facebook page of our national office. The diocesan and Vatican media also disseminated the Holy Father's initiative in our language, but unfortunately I have to say that there was no feedback. The Bishops, through diocesan Caritas, worked to contribute to the fight against the Coronavirus: to support hospitals with equipment, to find food for the poor, to provide rooms for people in isolation or in quarantine. However, the Church tried to collaborate with the state and private organizations, according to its possibilities. I must underline that we had the help of the Holy Father, through five ventilators for the hospital of the city of Suceava, diocese of Iasi.

Have there been any particular experiences that have highlighted the link between charity and evangelization?

The example of the diocese of Timisoara, which supported the Gerhardinum High School with 13 laptops, is commendable. In many other places, needy students have had smart phones or tablets to follow tele-school. Many poor families could not afford to buy such tools for their children and consequently could not have taken online lessons. This charity helped them to continue their education thus avoiding repeating the school year. I would also like to mention the volunteers of our Caritas, in each diocese, who have offered home services to the elderly, sick and defenseless people. They were able to move around the city with a special permit and so they bought food, medicines and other basic products for the needy.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - European Bishops: after the pandemic let’s work all together for a recovery that leaves no one behind

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 11:00
St. Gallen - The annual meeting of the presidencies of CCEE and of COMECE was held on 3 June 2020 in video conference with a special focus on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the day-to-day life in the Church and European societies. The virtual meeting was attended by Card. Angelo Bagnasco , Card. Jean-Claude Hollerich , as well as by all the members of the two Presidencies.
The final statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, reads that "renewing the Catholic Church’s closeness to all those struggling against the pandemic – the victims, their families and all health workers, volunteers and the faithful who have been and are in the front line, caring for those affected and bringing them relief - the Bishops the prelates espressed their concern about the economic crisis and the consequent loss of a large number of jobs” and the hope that, in Europe, we will all work together for a recovery that leaves no one behind".
In this time of crisis, the two Presidencies stressed the central role played by the family, "the true cell of solidarity and sharing, but also a place to pray together. Investing in the family - they continue - is the first step towards a just, social, economic and ecclesial recovery ". They therefore thank "the many priests for their crucial and generous service during this period", and analysed the role played by social media in prayer and streaming celebrations. "These new forms of religious practice, relationships, presence and sharing of faith invite us not only to evaluate the possibility of giving a new meaning to faith and the Church, but also to work to make many faithful rediscover the element of full sacramentality of religious celebrations in places of worship, which the use of new technologies cannot ensure".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Church is concerned about the situation of armed conflicts during health emergencies

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 10:19
Bogota - The National Conciliation Commission , an organization convened by the Catholic Church and composed of citizens of various sectors and currents of political, social and religious thought with an important work experience for peace in Colombia, has published the second edition of its digital information bulletin "Communicating truth and hope". This newsletter is a commitment by the Church to publicize some of the most relevant events in the national situation, related to armed conflict, reconciliation and peace, with a humanitarian focus and a special emphasis on the needs and initiatives of the regions.
This new information appointment, according to the note sent to Fides, is based on what has happened in the country in the last two months, in the context of the health emergency caused by the pandemic. We can read that in the midst of alarming data on the recruitment, use and murder of minors by illegal armed groups, the Colombian Church, through the Episcopal Conference, invites armed groups to cease any type of activity in which endangers the life and dignity of children and adolescents.
Dr Consuelo Corredor, member of the National Conciliation Commission, Cinep, and Commission of notables, talks about the complications that have arisen for the implementation of the peace agreement in the midst of the crisis caused by the new coronavirus, causing negative consequences not only for ex fighters, but also for communities.
Given the intensification of the actions related to the armed conflict in different regions of the Pacific during the pandemic, as well as in the light of the worrying levels of poverty and the precarious conditions for health care, Bishop Mgr. Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of the diocese of Quibdó , calls on the authorities for urgent and differentiated attention to their territories, and to armed groups, for a multilateral ceasefire, guaranteeing the protection of their communities.
Fr. Darío Echeverri, secretary general of the National Conciliation Commission, talks about the complex panorama that currently exists with the ELN guerrillas and says that the Church will continue to work and insist on the humanization of the conflict.
In the midst of the suffering of those who today live in the most marginalized areas of the country, the members of the National Conciliation Commission insist on the need to give priority to the life of the communities and invite both the government and ELN to take real paths of dialogue and negotiation, to seek complete peace with substantial transformations.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Bishops: "we expect willingness and commitment from political authorities and social leaders in order to reach a social pact"

Ven, 05/06/2020 - 10:12
Santiago - Faced with the health and social crisis caused by Covid-19, the Standing Committee of the Chilean Episcopate has called on the authorities and leaders of the country "to put an end to private interests in order to reach a basic agreement whose the goal is to redirect state resources to provide the support required by those who are suffering and for as long as necessary". In a statement sent to Fides, released on June 2, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Conference of Chile raises its voice once again about the serious consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on life and social coexistence.
Pastors say the effect of this pandemic transcends the public health sphere and is causing social effects that can be devastating for a significant portion of the population. They refer to the drastic drop in economic activity and the substantial increase in unemployment, where important sectors have seen their incomes drop dramatically.
"The poorest often have to endure food shortages and overcrowding in their homes, which is aggravated in the case of migrants who do not have a home, a job or support networks, or that of fearful elderly in their homes without being able to go out. This crisis gets worse every day and it is possible to predict that it will continue for months", says the text.
"Chile expects, in particular from political authorities and social leaders, willing and commitment to achieve a social pact for the common good that allows to generate conditions in favor of all the inhabitants of our country, in particular the poorest. This requires firm determination to put aside private interests in order to reach a basic agreement whose aim is to reorient state resources to provide the support required by those who suffer".
Chile, like other Latin American countries, is experiencing the climate of the pandemic these days with the anguish of the economic lockdown of the whole country. To date, 118,000 positive Covid-19 cases have been registered in Chile with 1356 deaths.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - POPF Secretary General: "Every emergency in mission lands is always a concern for the Pontifical Mission Societies"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 13:25
Vatican City - "I was very happy to receive the news that the Holy Father established a special Covid-19 emergency fund for the Pontifical Mission Societies . Pope Francis has a deeply missionary heart and a special concern for those who suffer. This is what Father Tadeusz J. Nowak, OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith said in an interview with Agenzia Fides. "The Pontifical Mission Societies – he continues - were established to promote and support the mission of the Church though prayer, animation and sacrifice. It must be remembered that the PMS is a worldwide network of prayer and charity at the service of the Holy Father in his solicitude for the Church’s missionary endeavours and for Young Churches in mission lands. Therefore, an emergency crisis that affects the Church in mission lands is always a concern for the Pontifical Mission Societies".

How can this Fund be useful for the specific needs followed by POPF?

"The Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith assists the Church in mission lands with projects directed towards direct evangelization, the celebration of the sacraments, catechesis, etc. This is why the emergency fund was established specifically to secure ecclesiastical structures and missionary endeavours threatened by the pandemic. Thus, it is destined for ensuring that essential ecclesiastical structures are supported during the crisis. So far, Bishops of many Dioceses have requested funds for many different needs provoked by the pandemic. These include help for clergy, catechists and other pastoral agents without support even for basic necessities because of the pandemic; funds to ensure the transmission of the celebration of the Mass to countless families in quarantine through different media platforms; and other initiatives that involve the ecclesiastical structures of the local Church".

In your opinion, how is the assistance in the various continents proceeding with regards to the projects already started with that Fund?

"So far, we have been able to respond positively to all of the requests that we have received. Furthermore, I must express my great joy and gratitude to the many National Directors of the PMS who have worked zealously to encourage people of good will in their respective countries to pray for all those affected by the pandemic and to donate their offerings to the Emergency Fund.

Therefore, in this "special" time, the relationship between charity and evangelization is strengthened ...

"The heart of the Gospel is love. Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, mind, and soul and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. The 25th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus identifies personally with the poor. Therefore the proclamation of the Gospel must always be accompanied by works of mercy for its authenticity. In this special time of world crisis, the link between evangelization and charity is, therefore, fundamental. Happily, the central charism of the PMS is prayer and charity at the service of the Church’s mission. This is the legacy that our beloved foundress Pauline Marie Jaricot left the Church. We are overjoyed that the day of her beatification is on the horizon".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The "White Masks" movement, born to support emeritus bishops, retired priests, pastors and elderly imams, in times of pandemic

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 13:07
Abidjan - "We must not and cannot abandon old priests who gave a lot, emeritus Bishops who did a lot", said Fr. Eric Norbert Abekan, parish priest of the Holy Family parish of Riviera in Abidjan, in explaining the birth of the "White Masks" movement.
The movement works to offer support to vulnerable people and in particular to emeritus Bishops, retired priests, pastors and imams, as well as elders, widows and orphans who live in serious precarious situations, aggravated by the social and economic lockdown imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In concrete terms, the movement offers food donations and non-food basic necessities to these people", says the priest
According to Fr. Abekan, the "White Masks" will not be an extemporaneous initiative, but will continue over time. What we want to do with the people who are helping us with the White Masks is to make the gestures of generosity carried out during the crisis for COVID-19 continue substantially throughout life".
The movement of the "White Masks", officially launched on May 30 at the Holy Family parish of Riviera, could later be institutionalized, giving it legal value.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - "I love Turkey". Ten years ago the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, "man of communion"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 12:58
Rome - "Even Luigi Padovese, just like St. John XXIII loved Turkey and loved the Turks". This was underlined by Br. Luca Bianchi ofmCap, Dean of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Antonianum University, recalling the Capuchin bishop, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, killed in Iskenderun by his driver on June 3, 2010. Br. Bianchi, today at the helm of the Institute chaired by Padovese for 17 years, he also traced with his personal testimony the figure of his brother bishop, speaking at the commemoration organized online by the Tiber Institute on the tenth anniversary of his violent death. Luigi Padovese - said Br. Luca Bianchi - had a particular love for Turkey, which began long before his episcopal ordination, starting from his passion for apostolic testimonies and for the Church Fathers. "He - remarked Br. Bianchi - defined Turkey as the 'Holy Land of the Church'. Just like Palestine is the Holy Land of Jesus, for him there was a "Holy Land" of the first spread of Christianity. Suffice it to recall that Antioch of Syria, currently in Turkish territory, is the first place where those who followed Jesus were called Christians".
Padovese's passion and ties with Turkey - remarked Br. Bianchi in his testimony - drew on his patristic studies. He had been the main author of the appreciated "Symposia" organized in Ephesus San Giovanni, and of those on St. Paul hosted in Tarsus, Antioch and Iskenderun. High level meetings , were attended by exegetes, theologians and scholars known all over the world, and which for many years represented an important moment also for the local Christian communities. His appointment as Vicar of Anatolia - recalled the Dean of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality - had also led Padovese to the idea of starting the "Symposia of Anatolia", the first of which was to take place in June 2010, that is, a few weeks after his killing. It would have been an opportunity to confirm and enrich his love for the Fathers of the Church who lived in today's Turkey, who were dear to him, starting from the Cappadocian Fathers and Giovanni Crisostomo, from whom - recalled Professor Bianchi - Padovese had drawn also his episcopal motto "in Caritate Veritas" .
Urged by the questions of Cenap Aydin, Director of the Tiber Institute, Professor Bianchi also outlined the "Franciscan" spiritual traits of Padovese: "It can be said" Bianchi recalled "that he was a man of dialogue at many levels, capable of having friendly relations with all the teachers, even Muslims or non-believers, who attended the symposia. The first dialogue was precisely that on a human level, of seeking truth as a common path. Then, Padovese was also a man of ecumenical dialogue: he was open to the common ecumenical journey with other Christian denominations, he was among the promoters of the symposia of Catholic and Orthodox scholars organized with the Orthodox Theological Faculty of Thessaloniki, and he was also a personal friend of ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, who after his death addressed very beautiful words for him. He was also interested in interreligious dialogue, and forged friendships with many Muslim leaders, such as with Professor Kenan Gürsoy, who was also Ambassador of Turkey to the Holy See. But the word that I would like to use more about him is the word 'communion', which is something more than dialogue. Dialogue is the possibility of relating, communion is the possibility of loving each other within a relationship started by dialogue. Not only to know each other, but also to love each other. And Luigi Padovese, of course, was a man of communion".
Born in 1947 in Milan to a family originally from the Veneto region, Luigi Padovese had entered the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor at the age of 18. Ordained priest in 1973, after obtaining his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he became a professor of Patristics and history of spirituality at the then Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum. In 1987 he became president of the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality, an institution which he had led and "shaped" for 17 years. In 2004 he was elected apostolic Vicar of Anatolia. On June 3, 2010 he was stabbed to death by his driver, 26-year-old Turk Murat Altun. The funeral ceremony, chaired by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, took place on June 14, 2010 in the Cathedral in Milan.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The diocesan center of Bougainville transformed into a quarantine reception facility

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 12:13
Bougainville - After 8 cases of coronavirus infections registered in Papua New Guinea, all healed, the local Church continues to carry out preventive measures in favor of the population. Among these, Fr. Begg Conference Center of the diocese of Bouganville has been transformed into a reception center for quarantine.
Fr. Polycarp Kaviak, Vicar of the diocese and at the head of the Center, explained, in a note sent to Fides, that there is a temporary agreement between the diocese and the autonomous government of Bougainville on the use of the center for quarantine, until June 2020 and is subject to extension depending on the situation.
The work on three additional units in the Center is almost finished and should be ready to meet the needs of people traveling in the region following the increase in restrictions on commercial flights to Bougainville, reads the note of the diocese. In addition, diocesan staff working in the center were also trained on how to cope with the quarantine period.
Although parishioners have expressed a desire to attend mass, the Diocese continues to observe all Covid-19 protocols required by the state of emergency. In all parishes from March to May, parish priests informed the parishioners and the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter were celebrated by inviting families to follow the liturgical instructions put in place by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Finally, Father Polycarp underlined the importance of the diocesan media with the broadcast of the Holy Mass and programs aimed at informing about the pandemic. These programs were also broadcast by other radio stations in the center and south of Bougainville.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Missionary year of the family: in the midst of the pandemic, "rediscovering the beauty of family life"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 12:08
Cusco - "We joyfully announce the Gospel of the family": this is the title of the Pastoral Letter of the Archbishop of Cusco, Mgr. Richard Alarcón, while his archdiocese celebrates "The Missionary Year of the Family" in 2020. For this reason, the Archbishop proposes a profound reflection on Christian family and presents pastoral concerns, hopes and perspectives "to make our families a living Gospel of the love of God".
In the pastoral Letter, published amid a health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mgr. Alarcón comments on the importance of spending time with the family, which for many people meant rediscovering "the beauty of family life" and for others it was "like a thermometer to measure the extent to which the love and commitment of parents, children and family members are really present".
As highlighted in the note sent to Fides, the document also mentions how painful the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19 was for some families, recalling the consequences that the virus has brought with it, such as economic crisis and unemployment. The letter also points out how solidarity has awakened "to support and help each other".
"This moment should help us become aware of the lessons that this pandemic is leaving us", says the Archbishop of Cusco, trying to indicate a new future for families, communities, the whole nation. "At the same time - he concludes - after the pandemic and social isolation we must show and live a renewed model of family life", capable of indicating a virtuous and widespread change in society.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Death Floyd, Cardinal Tobin: "The sin of racism can thrive without control"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 12:03
Newark - "The murder of George Floyd, which is simply the latest case of a black person who dies in the hands of those who have sworn to protect the community, has provoked justified anger and peaceful protest through the United States. Anger, as well as the shameful exploitation of this tragedy, has provoked unjustifiable violence in the cities of this nation. As we witness the asphyxiation of our country, many of us cry in anguish: why?": With these words, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark invites the community of the diocese to live "a Christian attitude towards violence" and reminds us that "we are all brothers".
"The way we respond to the question - continues the Cardinal - is crucial because then we will know what to pray for and how we will have to act. Nobody comes to Jesus with the meager request of 'wanting to be better'. We must turn to the Lord of the Universe, because the malice that we know cannot be eradicated from our efforts without help".
"Of course, tolerance for 'tribal factions' in the United States, especially in our political forum, promotes a wild jungle law. Violent rhetoric, selfishness and even brutal appropriation of religious symbols conspire to produce a malevolent miasma in which the sin of racism can thrive out of control. Our society will not make progress in facing the evil of racism without the will to leave behind the promoters of polarization", concludes the Cardinal.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/UNITED STATES - The Salesians in the face violence: "As Don Bosco never stood by idly, we too can no longer turn a blind eye"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 11:52
San Francisco - Following the episodes of racism and violence that have hit the United States in recent days, the West United States Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - COVID-19 - The appeal of African Bishops "we call upon large companies which exploit African resources to make significant contributions in this tragic moment"

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 11:37
Rome - "The pandemic caused by COVID-19 is without doubt is having devastating effects with tragic consequences for the poorest populations", say the African Bishops in a SECAM statement sent to Agenzia Fides. The document underlines that "recession is evident due to the shutdown of activities, especially in key production sectors, in the tourism sector, air transport and the hotel industry". The Bishops fear "a social explosion in many countries, and in particular, in Africa that is already burdened with debt and where unemployment continues to worsen, which further increases even more the phenomenon of impoverishment of the populations".
SECAM calls on large multinational companies in Africa to do their part to help the countries of the continent in this dramatic moment. "Africa is a major supplier of raw materials to industrialized countries. Therefore, we call upon large companies which exploit these raw materials to make significant contributions to the host countries to enable them provide basic social services such as hospitals, schools, adequate and affordable housing", says the statement.
The African Bishops in addition stress: "since a race against the clock is currently engaged in developed countries to find an effective remedy for COVID-19, we call on the business community and the pharmaceutical companies not to exploit the situation to make profit but join in the efforts to provide care for vulnerable people".
SECAM calls on the African Union to transform the health crisis caused by COVID-19 into an opportunity "to seek ways and means together to eradicate diseases like malaria and Tuberculosis, which continue to plague the continent". "We call upon the African Union - the Bishops write - to sensitize member Countries to contribute to the creation of a Solidarity Fund, which will be used to improve the health of the populations".
SECAM further urges "African leaders to ensure that the limited available resources be used to assist those who really need help, especially, the poorest of the poor and do not end in the pockets of the politically connected people through corrupt practices".

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Civil society and Catholic leaders campaign: "No" to new Anti-Terrorism Law

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 11:01
Manila - A large part of civil society in the Philippines has launched a campaign to oppose the controversial new Anti-Terrorism Law approved in Parliament. Human rights activists, Catholic leaders, lawyers, academics, priests and religious raised a lively debate, while the Philippine Congress approved the 2020 anti-terrorism law yesterday, 3 June. A total of 173 legislators voted in the affirmative, with 31 members opposing and 29 abstaining. It now needs only the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte to become law, a seeming formality since his government was the promoter.
Before Congress voted on the new measure, President Duterte said that "the bill was urgent because it had to contain the menace of terrorists acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare".
According to activists, "the new law makes an excessively broad and amorphous use of the terms" terrorism of a terrorist act", which could be used to silence any dissent towards the government and drastically reduce human rights and civil liberties, repress political opponents.
Under the new law, a citizen can be arrested without a judicial warrant and undergo a 14-day detention order, on the order of a new body established by the same law, the "Anti-Terrorism Council", even in the absence of the formal charge of a court. Surveillance, wiretapping and the invasion of the privacy of any individual is allowed on the mere suspicion of being an alleged terrorist, even without any evidence of wrongdoing.
The measure also revokes financial penalties for those who order an unjustified arrest and remove other existing guarantees against abuse by police officers, "thus increasing the probability of serious impunity for misconduct by state forces", says to the Fides Fr. Daniel Pilario, priest and theologian from Manila.
Lawyer Mel Santa Maria, Dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law, said "the bill will be a deadly sword in the hand of any despot". Jose Manuel Diokno, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of La Salle run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools said: "According to the law, people can be arrested simply by order of the Council. This mechanism is similar to the acts carried out during the era of dictator Ferdinando Marcos".
In a public statement sent to Fides, several Christian leaders, concerned about the erosion of human rights, note that "the new law could be abused by those who wish to dominate the people, canceling the opposition and also suppressing legitimate dissent. This plan of law will cause a further narrowing of the democratic space and a weakening of the public debate which will be harmful to our nation". Christian leaders believe the new bill is unnecessary because existing laws are already effective enough to combat crime and terrorism. "Our poor are already burdened with poverty and suffering of all kinds. They need positive laws to help them live in dignity and peace", they add.
Signatories of the note include Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Apostolic Administrator of Manila, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and Bishop Rhee Timbang of the Philippine Independent Church.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/LEBANON - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Rouphael Zgheib

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 10:25
Vatican City - On 11 March 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed Rev. Rouphael Zgheib, of the Maronite clergy, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, for another five-year period .
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/GUINEA BISSAU - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Sister Ines Paulo Albinom, ASC

Gio, 04/06/2020 - 10:23
Vatican City - On March 5, 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Sister Ines Paulo Albino, ASC as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Guinea Bissau, for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born in Guinea Bissau on April 25, 1969. She received a Bachelor's degree in Theology and a licentiate in Biblical Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Among her missionary experiences, she worked in the fields of evangelization, catechesis, teaching, youth ministry, and, at a diocesan level of liturgy, biblical teaching and inculturation. She was responsible for the parish of Santa Maria de Mattias - Ingoré. She also held leadership roles within her congregation.
Categorie: From the church

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