AFRICA/LIBERIA - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 14:36
Vatican City - On 29 April 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed Don Dennis CJ Nimene, of the diocesan clergy of Cape Palmas, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Liberia for another five-year period .
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - Appointment of the Apostolic Vicar of Yurimaguas

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 14:35
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed Fr. Jesús María Aristín Seco, C.P., currently Apostolic Administrator of the same Vicariate, as Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas .
Jesús María Aristín Seco C.P., was born on December 25, 1954 in Santa Cecilia del Alcor, Palencia . After primary and secondary studies at the PP. Passionists Minor Seminary of Euba , he studied theology at the University of Deusto in Bilbao. He holds a Licentiate in Theology from the Gregorian University in Rome and a Licentiate in Clinical Psychology from the Universidad Nacional de Educación in Madrid. He made his perpetual profession on April 14, 1979 in the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ . He was ordained a priest on September 23, 1979.
Since his priestly ordination he has held the following positions: parish vicar in the Parish of the Passion, Bilbao ; Studies in Rome for a Licentiate in Theology ; Missionary in Tarapoto, in the Prelature of Moyobamba, Peru ; Parish Vicar of the Parish of El Triunfo de la Santísima Cruz of Tarapoto , parish priest since June 5, 1988; Parish priest of the San José de Sisa Parish and Episcopal Vicar for the provinces of San Martín and Lamas ; new assignment in Spain ; Provincial Consultor for two terms, Secretary of the Missions and Provincial Prosecutor for the Missions in Spain ; Secretary General of the Missions at the Office of Solidarity and Passionist Missions in the General Curia in Rome ; since 2016 Apostolic Administrator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - UN report: more than 1,100 people killed by Ugandan rebels in just over a year in the east of the Country

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 14:30
Kinshasa - There are 397 cases of human rights violations attributable to ADF between 1 January 2019 and 31 January 2020, with the killing of at least 1,154 people, including 235 women and 166 children. This was stated in a report by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office , prepared together with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United Nations High Commissioner for human Rights .
The report documents human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by fighters of the Allied Democratic Forces and members of the defense and security forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against civilians in the territory of Beni, province of North Kivu and in the territories of Irumu and Mambasa, Ituri province, from 1 January 2019 to 31 January 2020.
The human rights violations committed by the ADF documented in this report include violations of the rights to life, physical integrity, freedom and security of the person and property rights. Violations of international humanitarian law include the recruitment of children, forced labor, attacks on hospitals and a school.
Soldiers of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and agents of the Congolese national police also committed human rights violations, especially in the context of military operations launched since October 2019, in particular violations of the right to life, physical integrity, freedom and security of the person and property.
"Despite the health and safety risks associated with the Ebola epidemic in the territory of Beni and the large-scale military operations initiated by FARDC since October 2019, UNJHRO has been able to document numerous human rights violations committed by the ADF against the civilian population, through fact-finding missions in the field and collaboration with local partner networks", says the document sent to Agenzia Fides. This sharp increase in the number of human rights violations - almost 69% - over the previous year stems from the combination of three factors, in particular the expansion of the area affected by the lethal attacks by the ADF beyond the national road number 4 due, among other things, to the destruction of their bases and their living environment during military operations, the reprisals against the civilian population and the emptiness left by the closure of some MONUSCO bases for budgetary reasons and finally by the absence of FARDC soldiers from some areas.
UNJHRO has documented 109 victims of human rights abuses committed by FARDC soldiers and 137 victims of human rights violations perpetrated by PNC agents, including elements of the Legion of National Intervention .
Since 1986, the ADF, an armed rebel group of Ugandan origin, has raged in the east of the DRC, in particular in the areas of Watalinga and Beni-Mbau, in the Virunga National Park, in a triangle located between the towns of Mbau, Kamango and Eringeti. This area was designated as the "death triangle" in 2014 due to the continuous massacres of civilian populations by the ADF.
The Congolese human rights organization CEPADHO welcomed the publication of the report but criticized "the UN that describes the crimes committed by the ADF as "war crimes and crimes against humanity". According to the statement of CEPADHO, sent to Fides, it would be better for the UN to qualify these actions as "terrorism", so that all the States of the world mobilize to end the actions of the ADF through military and judicial actions".
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 13:36
Vatican City - On 8 April 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed Fr. Martial Ramiakadaoro, of the diocesan clergy of Antsirabé as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Madagascar for another five year period .
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Since the Covid-19 emergency, new collaborations in the Church thanks to telework

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 13:33
Almaty - "The state of emergency due to Covid-19 has provided an opportunity for the emergence of new relationships and forms of cooperation, both inside and outside the Church. As is happening all over the world, even in the large family of Caritas Asia, of which Caritas Kazakhstan is a part, we started working in 'smart working' with periodic meetings, exchanges of experiences and sharing of future projects. One of the last video calls was particularly significant, because members of each national Caritas told how they are responding to the pandemic. We have created groups to collect and distribute information, but also to request support". This is what Fr. Guido Trezzani, a missionary in Kazakhstan and director of the national Caritas, reports in a note sent to Fides.
"During one of the online meetings, with great pride, we were able to present our agricultural project, which is currently experiencing a phase of particular momentum. In two greenhouses, in fact, we have collected the first results, both in terms of work and in terms of profit, thanks to the growth of strawberries and other crops", notes Don Trezzani. The missionary adds: "These small initial successes are giving enthusiasm to those who work there, also stimulating further ideas for the future. For example, we are considering expanding the agricultural project with new technologies, different crops and other areas of interest".
The opening of a day care center for children with Down syndrome remains pending, due to the rules of social distancing: "The health emergency had a significant impact on all activities. We are waiting for the resumption of work to continue the negotiations for the opening of the center, for which a state financing plan is envisaged. In the meantime, however, our employees, with the help of a group of young people from 'Ark Village' orphanage, have taken care of preparing the rooms: all the rooms have been whitewashed, cleaned and equipped".
In Kazakhstan, Caritas has been operating since the late 1990s. The projects carried out by the organization aim to combine material assistance to the needy and vulnerable with the development of professional skills for the inclusion of young people into the world of work. In recent years, for example, Caritas Kazakhstan has activated, among various initiatives, online English language lessons and a professional training course for people with Down syndrome and former drug addicts.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - "Martyrs of the faith and the nation": the first cinematographic work on the Copts killed in Libya by the jihadists begins

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 13:29
Samalut - The first cinematographic work dedicated to the 20 Coptic Christians beheaded in 2015 by the jihadists together with their Ghanaian workmate will be entitled "Martyrs of the faith and the nation". The initiative starts with the blessing of Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros, and will be carried out under the supervision of Anba Pavnotios, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Samalut.
In a recent press release issued by the same diocese of Samalut, the imminent start of filming was announced, already last January and postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic. The collection of testimonials and materials useful for the drafting and revision of the script, entrusted to the writer Mina Magdy, already started a long time ago. The text of the script is also based on the stories of the family members of the martyrs, almost all natives of the Samalut region. Before reaching the climax of the scenes concerning the martyrdom, the discovery of the bodies in a mass grave and the return of the remains to Egypt, the text to be transformed into a film traces the lives of young Copts killed by jihadists, caught in the warp of their daily and family life, marked by efforts, hopes and desires for a better future. The same desires that had pushed the martyrs also to emigrate to Libya, looking for a decent and useful job to support their families.
The direction of the work is entrusted to the filmmaker Yussef Nabil. The announcement of the plan of the work and of the beginning of the works - explains on Nader Shoukry, member of the commission charged with reviewing the script - also aims to seek subsidies to support the ambitious work plan. The press release issued by the diocese of Samalut also reports the message released by the filmmakers involved in the project, who ask everyone "to pray that the Lord will complete the work with us, helping us to make the film in the best way, so that it becomes a testimony of the strength of the martyrs, for all future generations".
The 20 Egyptian Copts and their Ghanaian workmate were kidnapped in Libya in early January 2015. The video of their beheading was put online by jihadist websites on February 15th. Just a week after the news of the massacre, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II decided to register the 21 martyrs in the Synaxarium, the book of the martyrs of the Coptic Church, establishing that their memory is celebrated on 15 February.
The mortal remains of the Copts killed in Libya by the jihadists were identified at the end of September 2017 in a mass grave on the Libyan coast, near the city of Sirte. Their bodies had been found with their hands tied behind their backs, dressed in the same orange suits that they wore in the macabre video filmed by the executioners at the time of their beheading.
This year, the "Coptic martyrs of Libya" were celebrated in a solemn form in the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Samalut on the fifth anniversary of their martyrdom. The celebrations, which took place from 1st to 16th February, took place at the church and at the museum-shrine dedicated to martyrs, built in record time in Samalut with the concrete support of the Egyptian government.
"The video depicting their execution – said Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Coptic Catholic Bishop emeritus of Guizeh after the massacre of the 21 martyrs, to Agenzia Fides - was built as a horrendous film staging, with the intent to spread terror. Yet, in that diabolical product of fiction and bloodthirsty horror, it is seen that some of the martyrs, in the moment of their barbaric execution, repeat 'Lord Jesus Christ'. The name of Jesus was the last word on their lips. As in the passion of the first martyrs, they entrusted themselves to the One who would soon welcome them. And so they celebrated their victory, the victory that no executioner can take away from them. That name whispered in the last moment was like the seal of their martyrdom".
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Crimes based on religious discrimination cannot go unpunished

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 12:49
Peshawar - "All the residents on this street are Muslims and they do not want Christians to live here: this is what the attackers said to my husband and us; since we did not succumb to those pressures, they started to create problems and threaten us. One day they attacked my husband Nadeem Joseph, beat him, dragged him on the street after shooting him with a Kalashnikov rifle": this is what was reported to Agenzia Fides by Shaheen Joseph, Nadeem Joseph’s wife, the Christian killed in Peshawar for refusing to abandon a house he had regularly purchased, in a neighborhood where, according to some residents, Christians are unwanted .
The widow reports that, in these days, her family members have been again threatened and attacked. And she says: "I am powerless and seeking justice, but I also think: what justice will I get? Nobody can give my husband back. My mother and brother are still recovering from their wounds. They had left the house to try to help Nadeem and one of the bullets hit my mother in the shoulder. My children and I have lived in fear since that day".
Ecclesial groups, civil society groups and NGOs that promote human rights are organizing peaceful protests and demonstrations in several cities of Pakistan after the death of Nadeem Joseph. The Christian, Liaquat Munawar, president of the NGO "Mission and action for social services" , who in recent days organized a protest in Karachi, reports in a message to Fides: "We condemn this attack on the Christian family and demand a severe punishment for the attackers. We ask for two First Information Reports against the killers to be officially registered, and that the government of Pakistan to get involved, because what happened is an act contrary to the Constitution of Pakistan. Such religious discrimination cannot go unpunished: only in this way can crimes of this kind be discouraged and stopped".
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA - Covid 19: support to Nicaraguan bishops by Central American bishops

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 12:15
San Salvador - The Church of Central America has given strong support to Nicaraguan bishops who speak and act to protect the most vulnerable population facing the Covid-19 pandemic. In a message, the Presidency Council of the Episcopal Secretariat of Central America expressed closeness and full support for the actions of the Nicaraguan Church in the context of the health crisis.
"We express our closeness and solidarity with the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, for their great concern and generous action in favor of the health and life of the beloved Nicaraguan people", says the Council, represented by Mgr. José Luis Escobar Alas and Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, both from El Salvador.
In a message released on July 3, the Church in the region also invites governments and citizens to join efforts "in favor of people's health and life". "Nobody should be forgotten!" stresses the Bishops’ text, remembering that "we are all in the same boat" and "we all must get involved. Governments and citizens must join together in a common effort in favor of health and people's lives. In addition, we all must comply with the health security measures to protect the lives of our brothers and sisters", they say.
Since April 2018, the administration of President Daniel Ortega has attacked the Catholic Church and, in particular, priests who make harsh criticisms of repression, crimes and violations of rights and freedoms.
Mgr. Rolando Álvarez, one of the most respected voices in the Catholic hierarchy, had announced a plan to allow prevention and medical care centers to deal with suspected cases of coronavirus in Matagalpa, which was prohibited by the Ministry of Health . The institution is criticized for centralizing information and blocking all types of help that organizations or individuals seek to provide to the most vulnerable, taking into account the limitations of the public health system.
In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega has ruled out a quarantine declaration and defended "normality" with the argument of protecting the survival of the poorest. However, he limited his few public appearances to television messages. To date, the Ministry of Health does not recognize that Nicaragua is experiencing a health emergency. The official figures reported are minimal: 83 deaths and 2,519 cases. While the Covid-19 Citizens' Observatory, made up of independent experts, registers 7,402 suspected cases, according to data as of July 1. The total death toll is 2,087.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/MALAWI - Carmelites in support of Covid-19 patients from the diocese of Zomba

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 11:13
Zomba - The hospital of the Pirimiti community of the diocese of Zomba has received three oxygen concentrators to equip the isolation ward for Covid-19 patients which was specifically created to deal with the pandemic. According to a note sent to Agenzia Fides, the donation was made by Obra Maxima, the missionary non-governmental organization of the Order of Discalced Carmelites based in Spain, with the aim of improving the provision of quality health services.
"As a hospital, we have an isolation ward, but to date we had no equipment. These machines can support up to 15 patients who may need oxygen", said Sister Mary Njuguna, a nurse in charge of the hospital, thanking the Discalced Carmelites for the donation.
The Bishop of the diocese of Zomba, Mgr. George Desmond Tambala, member of the Carmelite Order, thanked the diocese for the donation "which came at a time when hospital in Pirimiti needed medical equipment, especially those that can help prevent and fight the Covid-19 pandemic".
To strengthen the fight against Covid, the diocese joined forces to create a diocesan task force. As of June 29, 2020, statistics according to the Public Health Institute of Malawi point out 1,224 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 260 recoveries and 14 deaths.
Currently, there are five health centers in the diocese of Zomba and a community hospital, that of Pirimiti, which has received the machinery.
The activity of the hospital began as a simple dispensary, in the 1950s, by the will of some Montfortian Missionary Sisters. It develops on an arid and dry territory where malnutrition in the 94 villages that gravitate around it is dramatic, with a population of about 50,000 inhabitants. The Discalced Carmelites have been in Malawi since 1966, when the first religious from the province of Navarra arrived.
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Bishops: concern over the increase in violence against religious minorities

Fides EN - - qua, 08/07/2020 - 11:05
Lahore - "Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, which is posing its share of challenges in Pakistan, religious intolerance and discrimination in recent months have increased": is the complaint of the National Commission for Justice and Peace , within the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference.
The statement sent to Agenzia Fides states: "Recently, Nadeem Joseph, a Christian from Peshawar, and his mother-in-law Elizabeth Masih were brutally attacked by the Muslim Salman Khan and his sons a few days after Nadeem Joseph bought a house in the Colony in Peshawar, Pakistan on June 4, 2020, in a Muslim dominated neighbourhood and his neighbors did not tolerate the presence of a non-Muslim in their neighborhood". Police arrested several members of Salman Khan's family in connection with the incident.
NCJP strongly condemns this act of violence. In a joint statement, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Chairman of the Commission, National Director Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf and Executive Director Cecil S. Chaudhry declare: "Pakistani society has become increasingly intolerant and living as a religious minority is becoming more and more difficult. There are many similar incidents that are not reported. Religious minorities continue to face discrimination as part of their daily lives", it stresses, citing refusal to give food supplies or provide relief to non-Muslims during the pandemic, or that of poor personal protection for health workers, who are at the forefront. Bishops call on law enforcement agencies to do everything possible to catch the main culprit who brutally killed Nadeem Joseph and bring him to justice, noting the "clear violation of human rights" and "an act against the law that cannot go unpunished". "Nadeem's family is in difficulty and in danger after this attack. The government must ensure security and protection for them and for all religious minorities", said Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, and Chairman of the NCJP.
The Commission also highlighted the recent issue of building a Hindu temple in Islamabad, blocked by some extremist Muslims. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf National Director of the NCJP, said: "This move certainly reflects the lack of acceptance for religious minorities who have been part of this country for centuries. This act undermines the guarantees provided for in article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan which allows religious minorities the freedom to profess religion and manage their own religious institutions. The government must work to safeguard the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan enshrined in our Constitution".
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Solidarity of the European Bishops with Nigerian Bishops: "No more violence against Christians in Nigeria"

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 15:25
Abuja - "According to recent statistics, some 6,000 Nigerian Christians have been killed since 2015 by, mostly, Boko Haram and militant Fulani pastoralists, which have committed terrorist attacks against Christian farmers", reads the letter sent to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN by the President of COMECE , His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Claude Cardinal Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg.
In expressing their solidarity with the Nigerian confreres, COMECE calls "the Eu, its Member States and the international community to use diplomatic, political and financial instruments to assist Nigerian authorities to stop the violence, bringing the criminals to justice, supporting the victims and fully including Christians in all State structures and levels of administrations - including the police and armed forces".
In his message, Cardinal Hollerich recalls that "the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria condemned the Federal Government for failing its primary duty of protecting the lives of citizens and lamented that the "culture of death is becoming embedded into our daily lives". In addition, Nigerian Bishops clearly expressed that the ongoing violence, in reference to the Fulani herdsmen, "can no longer be treated as mere clash between pastoralists and farmers".
The European Parliament denounced the situation in its recent resolution of 16 January 2020 on Nigeria, deploring the recent terrorist attacks carried out by jihadist groups and the ‘your land or your blood’ policy carried out by Fulani militants, which force farmers to abandon their land to avoid being killed .
The Parliament also condemned the constant discrimination suffered by Christians in the Nigerian regions where sharia is applied.
The situation in Nigeria is monitored by COMECE, which contributed to the public debate in preparation for the European Parliament January 2020 resolution.
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Male and female religious orders: conscientious objection to the anti-terrorism law

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 14:57
Manila - "In light of faith, we cannot conscientiously adhere to a law that can attack human dignity and human rights. At a time when our people are battling the effects of Covid-19, we find no reason to pass a law that does not serve to alleviate their miserable plight. Unemployment, the closure of businesses, the continuing spread of the virus, and the lack of relief for our people are the most pressing concerns at this time. We welcome the initiative of lawyers, religious and other civil leaders, to present an urgent petition to the Supreme Court": this is what is expressed in a statement sent to Fides by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, which brings together the heads of men and women religious orders in the nation. The religious, who in recent weeks had joined those who expressed concern and opposition to the law, considering it "draconian and unconstitutional", say they are "deeply saddened by the signing of the anti-terrorism law" which, approved by Parliament and signed by President Duterte, will officially enter into force on July 18.
The press release, co-signed by Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM, and Sr. Marilyn A. Java, RC highlights: "We pray that the Supreme Court will approve a temporary suspension order. We trust that the women and men of the Highest Court in the country will be guided by the common good of all and by the Philippine Constitution. We implore them that the light of rule of law and of justice shine ever bright". The text continues: "We ask all women and men of good will and all those who care about our rights and freedoms: defend and be close to the poor and oppressed. Truth, justice and peace will prevail".
The religious, quoting a biblical passage from the second Letter to the Corinthians say they are "afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed".
Large sectors of the Catholic Church in the Philippines share and publicly expressed their disappointment before the law. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, at the head of the diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said he "deeply regrets" President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to sign the bill stating: "It is morally wrong to leave the terms of application of a bill so powerful to the interpretation of the reckless and powerful". The Church is certainly against terrorism, he explained, "however, we do not want to deal with violence and blind anger with even greater violence or legitimizing terror", he said. "We would rather engage in the difficult but necessary task of building a culture that listens, that does not neglect, that welcomes differences. This culture of inclusive listening will soon strip the extremists of all reasons. Peace is the only way to peace", he added.
Even Mgr. Ruperto Santos, Bishop of Balanga, found that "the new law threatens freedom of speech, will not bring peace, harmony nor unite us", urging to monitor the actions of the government, to denounce any form of violation of human rights, repression of the state and impunity.
Categorias: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Leaving for Africa, CUAMM volunteers keep the missionary and spirit of service alive

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 14:25
Padua - After three months of total lockdown that has blocked every flight and every airport, the first 16 volunteers of the Doctors with Africa CUAMM are about to leave for Africa. Many of the CUAMM volunteers remained alongside the local populations, in a time of coronavirus emergency, in addition to all the other crises. "Impossible to 'go away' from those places, for us who of that 'Eunte scurate infirmos' have made a choice of life. However, it was also impossible to be able to take over the shift from the many who remained on the spot, close to the population during the great fear that the pandemic, especially at the beginning, caused and which still exists", writes to the Agenzia Fides don Dante Carraro, director of CUAMM.
"Many organizations have decided to return thanks to the rare humanitarian flights available. Our staying on the spot, which proves to be tiring and risky - underlines the priest - is helping to keep hospitals and services open, avoiding the collapse of already very weak and fragile health systems. Together with our local colleagues we increase hope day by day".
"Among the health and socio-economic consequences of Covid we see with our own eyes how the number of families and people asking for food is dramatically increasing. Hunger is around the corner. In many communities in southern Sudan, in rural areas, we are already distributing flour, rice, oil and basic necessities. In Angola, in Chiulo, mothers who come to the hospital to ask for food for their children increase".
"We need financial resources but above all human resources, volunteers available and ready to go. Even in our country wounds are open, they bleed and hurt - don Dante writes -. We experience anxieties and difficulties, uncertainties and worries, especially for the future. The rubble caused by the virus risks sinking us, blocking us above all in our wills: we risk a lockdown of the soul".
"In the 16 volunteers who leave, I see Francesco Canova, who 'invented' CUAMM as soon as the Second World War ended: around it only poverty, misery, destruction and rubble. When the temptation to give up, to lower your arms, to give up, is stronger than that, that's when you have to go, have more courage, more determination in rebuilding".
The director of CUAMM, a cardiologist, expressed his gratitude to the 16 volunteers who, by leaving, among the rubble of the virus, keep alive the "missionary" and spirit of service that allowed the birth of CUAMM in 1950. Don Dante concludes by adding that "with this spirit in our hearts, which remains alive despite the fatigue of such a difficult time, we want to celebrate our seventieth birthday this year scheduled for 7 November in Padua".
Categorias: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Technology to support Catholic Aborigines against the "tyranny of distance"

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 14:08
Adelaide - "The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink how to celebrate our special day. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, celebrated on 5 July, this year took place in a digital environment: the Holy Mass, at the Cathedral of St. Francis Xavier in Adelaide, was broadcast in streaming, with the aim of promoting, albeit at a distance, a sense of unity. As Council of the Native Catholics, we prayed and discussed the annual issue for many months. There were several options, but the development of the situation related to the Coronavirus, its effects and the concerns of all our communities illuminated us on the topic to be addressed: 'Together in Spirit'." This is what John Lochowiak, chairman of the Catholic Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australia, declares in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the day dedicated to the natives.
The chairman continued: "The Gospel of the day was addressed to all those who feel tired of sharing their burdens with God. For the Australian population, the pandemic came after a long period characterized by forest fires and drought. It is natural for our spirit to get tired, since there are already many burdens in our communities. With the new challenges presented in times like these, it is important to continue to place trust in God and to seek even more to embody the spiritual gifts of empathy, friendship and mutual love".
According to Lochowiak, the "digital" edition of The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday was made possible mainly because social distancing brought members of native communities closer to technology: "Communicating via video has become part of everyday life. This same tool allowed us to meet on July 5 despite the 'tyranny' of distance. To think that many people gathered via web from all over Australia and from abroad to celebrate our faith as Australians and Catholics fills me with pride". The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council is the highest consultative body of the Australian Bishops on issues relating to native communities, which number over 130,000 Catholics. Among the activities under the Council's competence there is the sacramental journey and pastoral care, charitable support for the poor and assistance to the sick and prisoners.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/ANGOLA - JRS continues its mission to assist refugees in Lunda Norte in the context of the world pandemic

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 12:37
Luanda - "After COVID-19 had knocked on our doors in mid-March, JRS was forced to rethink its mission. It was not about changing the content of the mission itself. Instead, it was about adjusting our strategies to the new context created by the Corona virus pandemic", says Fr. Celestine Epalango, Jesuit, who works in Angola with the Jesuit Refugee Service's .
The reality of refugees in Angola, assisted by JRS, is very complex and articulated. In 2017, large numbers of people fled the Kasai Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo and entered the north-eastern part of Angola. This forced migration was a result of widespread conflict within the DRC, which caused the internal displacement of 1, 4 million people. At that moment about 35 thousand people escaped into the Lunda Norte Province of Angola.
"For the past 13 years, JRS has been providing free legal assistance, psychosocial and spiritual counselling for refugees and asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, orphans, victims and survivors of gender based violence, young single mothers, refugee children who cannot go to school and even those who have no birth certificates, elderly people and refugees and asylum seekers in Angola", underlines Fr. Epalango.
The Covid-19 pandemic prompted JRS to deliver formative materials to refugees in the province of Lunda Norte which aim on raising community awareness so as to prevent more refugees or the internal displacement of persons caused by the disruptive effects of COVID-19.
In addition, JRS is involved in the promotion of initiatives by refugees to produce more than 6000 masks. This is a concrete way of promoting the economic sustainability of the refugees as well as providing means of combatting the spread of the pandemic. JRS regularly provides hygiene equipment to the refugees, especially those among them who are victims of gender based violence as well as organize sessions of demonstrating good practices of protection and prevention against COVID-19.
Finally, JRS conducts daily visits to the detention centres to assist in the release of refugees who, having violated the rules of the state of emergency, have been detained. On average, two detainees are released per week. In Angola there have been 353 Covid-19 cases so far, with 19 deaths and 108 recovered.
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/HOLY LAND - Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem: "radical groups" threaten the Christian presence in the Holy City

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 11:59
Jerusalem - Jewish "radical groups" committed to acquiring ecclesiastical properties in the so-called Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem aim to sabotage the plural identity of the Holy City, obstruct the Christian pilgrim route and weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem.
This is what the 13 Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches and ecclesial communities of Jerusalem write, in the umpteenth alarm launched regarding not always transparent real estate transactions that in their opinion aim to undermine the so-called "Status quo", the set of rules and customs on which the coexistence between different religious communities in the ancient part of the Holy City is based. In their new joint statement, released on Tuesday 7 July, the Heads of the Churches and ecclesiastical communities of Jerusalem refer explicitly to a recent judgement by the District Court of Jerusalem, which on Wednesday 24 June definitively rejected the request with which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem asked to cancel the acquisition of three patriarchal real estate by the Jewish settler organization, Ateret Cohanim . The joint statement signed by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of Jerusalem - including Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Father Francesco Patton ofm, Custos of the Holy Land - underlines that the fate of those buildings that once belonged to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate cannot be liquidated "as a simple property dispute", given the subjects involved. For the signatories, the real estate dispute brings out the design of forces that have long been committed to sabotaging "the historical Status Quo of the Holy Sites and rights of the Churches which are universally recognised", to be protected from any attack. This is why the Heads of Churches express concern about the recent judgment of the Jerusalem District Court, and say they strongly support "the efforts of the Greek Orthodox Church in their plea for justice". The signatories of the joint statement, citing the Prophet Amos, address directly the Israeli government, with the request to "act in order to safeguard the integrity of the Christian heritage and patrimony in the Old City, as well as the Holy Sites and the rights of the residents of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem".
The legal dispute over properties disputed between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Jewish group, Ateret Cohanim has lasted for 16 years. Two of the three disputed buildings, the "Petra" and the "Imperial" hotels, are located near the Jaffa Gate, considered the most direct entrance to access the Christian area of the Old City of Jerusalem. The sale, as previously reported by Agenzia Fides, took place in 2004, and the news of the sale had provoked protests and discontent within the Greek Orthodox Christian community, culminating with the deposition of Patriarch Irenaeus I by the Holy Synod with the accusation of undue alienation of Patriarchate properties.
In August 2017, the Jerusalem District Court had already rejected the legal initiatives with which the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem had attempted to make Ateret Cohanim's acquisitions of the three properties disputed "illegal" and "unauthorized".
After that ruling, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem had already signed a joint document in which they denounced "a systematic attempt to undermine the integrity of the Holy City" and "to weaken the Christian presence in the Holy City". Already in that ruling there was firm opposition to "any action" by "any authority or group" that has the effect of violating and undermining "laws, agreements and regulations that have ordered our life for centuries". The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem had appealed against the 2017 ruling to the Supreme Court of Israel, which on 10 June 2019 had confirmed the regularity of the transfer of ownership of the properties, legitimately purchased by foreign intermediaries who acted on behalf of Ateret Cohanim. Then, in December 2019, the legal dispute reopened, after a judge from the Jerusalem District Court questioned the previous Supreme Court ruling, effectively opening up the possibility of starting a new trial on the controversial issue. Now, the umpteenth judgement of the Jerusalem District Court issued on June 24, 2020 seems to mark the definitive end of the arm wrestling around the disputed buildings of the old city of Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem reacted to the latest developments in the affair, however reiterating its intention to file a further appeal, again bringing the matter to the attention of the Supreme Court of Israel.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/INDIAN OCEAN - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Michel Moura

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 11:44
Vatican City - On March 18, 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr Michel Moura, of the diocesan clergy of Port Louis as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Indian Ocean, for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born on September 28, 1962 on the island of Mauritius and was ordained a priest on August 6, 2006. After graduating in management at the University of Mauritius, he attended the seminar at the Ile de la Réunion and Nantes, France. After ordination he was vice-parish priest and parish priest in different communities. Since 2018 he has been parish priest of the Holy Spirit parish in Bel Air.
Categorias: From the church

EUROPE/FRANCE - Appointment of the national Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies ad interim

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 11:41
Vatican City - On March 31, 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed His Exc. Mgr. Georges Colomb, MEP, Bishop of La Rochelle as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies ad interim in France.
Categorias: From the church

EUROPE/BELGIUM - Bishops' letter: in the time of pandemic, Christians have "a hope to offer to the world"

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 11:38
Brussels - "We are sent by Christ, by our baptism. In the face of this pandemic, this world, capable of great generosity, is also caught up in doubt. Let us offer the world our solidarity, our hope and the joy of the Gospel. May this summer be a good time to rest and connect with the essential. May it also offer us the opportunity to actively seek what God desires for each of us, for his Church and for our world". This is the invitation addressed to Christian communities by the Bishops of Belgium, at the beginning of summer, in their pastoral letter entitled "Hope to offer".
The Bishops recall the "historical" period experienced because of the pandemic, "many people, families and communities have been hit hard, by mourning, illness, loss of work, isolation", and invite you to think first of all about them, expressing the solidarity of the Episcopate. "This time of isolation has also allowed us all to observe many gestures of solidarity, many people have donated their time, their talents - they continue -. We believe that God was not absent: despite the moments of darkness, we were able to perceive his closeness and his Easter, stronger than darkness".
The letter points out that "for Christians, the impossibility of living the sacraments and of being in community was a real test. Staying away from our brothers and sisters put u sto the test", however "this period of isolation has also allowed us to demonstrate a new creativity "in parishes, in pastoral units, in communities, where the baptized took initiatives, inventing new ways to be Church: "We were touched by these gestures of concern, by these concrete services, by this inventive pastoral care. Without a doubt, we also discovered - or rediscovered - some dimensions that routine can sometimes make us forget". The Bishops therefore urge "not to stop being creative, to continue to make our communities more beautiful so that they are more fraternal, more sensitive to the wounds of others and to the thirst of this world".
Faced with the questions that arise about how the world will be different from the past, with all the social, political, economic, environmental challenges that arise, the Bishops say they have no magic formulas, but invite Christian communities to engage with enthusiasm "drawing resources from our faith and from sharing in our community to discern and act alongside other people and groups in our society".
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - Bishops on new decrees: "they threaten the foundations of our society, coexistence, culture, faith and Christian morality"

Fides EN - - ter, 07/07/2020 - 11:20
Port au Prince - In a note signed by the members of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, the Bishops denounce the publication of the latest decrees of President Jovenel Moïse, which clearly attack the culture and values of the Haitian people.
As the coronavirus continues its course in the country, not as lethal as expected, Haiti is still experiencing other tragedies worse than the pandemic, such as insecurity, misery, unemployment, unhealthiness, political instability, corruption, etc. Regarding the latter situation, the national government has published two decrees. One speaks of the unique national identification number and the unique national identification card, the other of the new penal code. The Bishops say they expect "courage, lucidity, wisdom and, above all, respect from the executive, and not to arbitrarily impose on the Haitian people what is simply against true values".
"We, Catholic Bishops of Haiti, simply want to declare energetically that this is ethically and morally unacceptable in several respects, both in terms of procedure and content. In fact, in various points, this draft decree represents a particularly serious attack on the very essence of our humanity. It involves difficult and complex human life problems such as incest, sexual orientation, sex change, etc.", writes the Episcopal Conference of Haiti.
According to the Bishops, these questions require consultation and reflection, which is why this project involves significant upheavals that seriously and dangerously modify the foundations of what our civilization has built regarding respect for man, his dignity, his life, of the family.
According to what Renold Antoine, a Redemptorist missionary in Haiti, reports to Fides, the Bishops have invited the executive to concentrate rather on the real problems of the Haitians and to try to solve them, instead of trying to import foreign values and external to local traditions. "We remind the executive branch that it is its moral and ethical responsibility not to surrender to ideological pressures, wherever they come from, not to involve the Haitian people without consulting them, in this way it can only lead to an even more catastrophic collapse of what we know today. Is it really urgent now to implement and re-propose this draft decree on the new penal code?".
With their note, the Bishops ask that these decisions are stopped for the good of the population, because these decrees threaten "the very foundations of our society, of our coexistence, of our culture, of the faith and of Christian morality", and invoke the patroness of Haiti: "May Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Patroness of Haiti, protect us from all evil and protect us from all dangers".
Categorias: From the church