AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REP. - Appointment of the National Director of the PMS, Fr. Innocent Blaise Ndongbo

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 13:18
Vatican City - On 5 December 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Innocent Blaise Ndongbo, of the diocesan clergy of Bangassou as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Central African Republic for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born in Mabo on May 1, 1979 and was ordained a priest in Bangassou Cathedral on November 20, 2005. After primary school he attended the St. Louis minor Seminary in Bangassou, then the intermediate Seminary in Bangui, he studied philosophy and theology at the St. Marc Major Seminary in Bangui-Bimbo. He specialized in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He has held various positions: deputy parish priest and parish priest, diocesan responsible for the formation of catechists and the diocesan Commission for Catechesis and the Biblical Apostolate, spiritual director at the "Missionary of Mercy" minor Seminary of Bangassou, established by Pope Francis on February 10, 2016.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Hate, blood and death: a heartfelt SOS to the international community

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 13:13
Managua - "Once again the people of Nicaragua have been smeared with hatred, blood and death. Until when? Nicaragua is no longer a rule of law. The Nicaraguan people are launching a strong and vibrant SOS to the community international": these words, shared with Fides, by a Catholic missionary priest in the Latin American country, describe how much suffering the Nicaraguan people live in these moments. For at least 6 days, the police have been surrounding the homes of a dozen opposition leaders and even the Cathedral of Managua, to block any attempt to demonstrate calling for the release of political prisoners.
There are numerous testimonies and videos that have been sent to Fides with the Cathedral of Managua surrounded by the police, also videos of shopping centers where some demonstrators went, with the police who violently break in to stop these people.
On February 25 the new "National Coalition" had decided to demonstrate in the capital, but from the early hours of the morning the city found itself manned by police in riot uniforms. This "National Coalition", which brings together seven civil movements and opposition political parties took inspiration from the opposition created in 1990, when Violeta Barios de Chamorro, at the head of the Union Nacional Opositora , defeated Daniel Ortega and the Revolucion Sandinista on February 25, 1990.
Recalling this event, February 25 was chosen for the launch of the "National Coalition", but the initiative ended with many arrested by the police, beaten and then released, and journalists violently attacked by the police. This is evidenced by the large amount of videos shared on social media and shot at the Shopping Center in Managua.
The situation in Nicaragua is becoming increasingly difficult for the current government to manage. In fact, the Inter-American Development Bank has presented its annual report where it reports that it has offered loans to all Central American countries except Nicaragua. In addition, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights officially informed that Michelle Bachelet, the highest authority of this institution, will present a report on the situation in Nicaragua publicly to the General Council in Geneva today.

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZAMBIA - Environment, health, education, economy: the importance of "community radio"

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 13:03
Lusaka - Radio continues to be a fundamental source of information for African societies in many nations of the continent. "Thanks to its usability, it is a means that has the ability to reach a wider audience and can share the diversity of society", notes Fr. Winfield Kunda, Communications Director of the Zambian Bishops' Conference .
In the note sent to Agenzia Fides, the Director highlights the need to deal with topics such as the environment, health, education and the economy, and not only focus on politics. The aim is to raise awareness among listeners and create the conditions for common actions, to raise awareness of issues that touch the sphere of personal and community ethics. In particular, this role is played by the so-called "community radio", very widespread and very important in Africa, often animated and supported by the local Churches. "Radio can represent an arena in which all voices can speak, be represented and listened to. If used well, radio stations should serve communities, offering a wide variety of programs, viewpoints and content and reflect the diversity of the audience", says Fr. Kunda, noting that radio is also a "meeting point" where one can share the Gospel values with a wider audience and find ways of collaboration for the common good.
In a statement sent to Fides, the Communications Director praised men and women who dedicate time to education, entertainment and information via radio. "These people are commendable, especially because the services offered go beyond their remuneration in economic terms", he explained.
Fr. Kunda also suggested that a policy is to be implemented that would oblige government departments to sponsor programs and advertise on community radio stations".
In Africa, radio has an enormous weight in the spread of information compared to other media, given the very high rate of illiteracy and the poor coverage of the electricity network which exclude a large part of the population from the use of the press, television and the Internet. The radio landscape is generally made up of state broadcasters, who often simply broadcast the news from the former colonizing powers in English or French. Alongside these, from the 1960s to the present day, a dense network of small radio stations has developed throughout Africa that have taken on different names: educational radio, agricultural radio, rural radio, community radio, free radio. These are stations with a catchment area limited to a territory or a region which is not too large, and which have often been supported by projects of international organizations, foundations, NGOs, and also of religious communities such as the Catholic Church.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Faith, a seed that sprouts

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 12:50
Bishkek - "God is close to Kyrgyzstan. The nation is a very interesting mix of cultures: elements from the Russian, Asian and Muslim backgrounds coexist in this land. We found a country of about 6 million people, 90% of whom profess Islam. The Christian population is very small and the Catholic population is even smaller: we are talking about 1,500 faithful. In this land, most Catholics are present thanks to the sacrifices of their grandparents who, during the Soviet period, were deported here from Germany, Poland and Russia. In this story of suffering, however, there is the Providence of God who planted and allows the seed of faith to sprout". This is the testimony sent to Fides by three Church representatives in the United States: Fr. Larry Machado, priest of the diocese of Stockton, Chris Smith, deacon of the diocese of Austin, and Fr. John Gancarz, of the diocese of Hartford. The three, after visiting Kyrgyzstan, made a video entitled "Kyrgyzstan: God is Near", a report in which they tell and show the main places of Catholic worship in the nation, such as the parish of the capital, Bishkek, the chapel dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the memorial of the Polish fallen during the Second World War, in Jalal-Abad.
The three young recount the tireless service of the priests present in the country: "Every Sunday they drive for 30-40 minutes, to accompany the faithful, who live in the villages, home and who otherwise would not be able to attend mass.
We saw the apostolic administrator, Father Anthony Corcoran, speak Russian with people and study Kyrgyz, so that everyone can understand what he says. The faithful love this attention and recognize those who take care of them. They surround him, welcome him, smile at him". The presence of the Gospel in the Central Asian nation - say the three members of the American Church - is a small seed that is sprouting, thanks to the daily commitment of the priests and religious who totally offer their lives and are at the service of the population, always trusting in grace and in the help of God.
The three priests note, at the end of their pilgrimage: "God is close to the little ones, the last, to those in the suburbs". In Kyrgyzstan there are currently three parishes in the cities of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Talas, but many small communities are distributed in rural areas of the country. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, one religious and five Franciscan nuns. In 1997, John Paul II founded the Mission sui iuris, as happened with the neighboring states of Central Asia. In 2006, Benedict XVI elevated the circumscription to the rank of apostolic administration. In addition to the Muslim majority, 7% of the population is of Christian faith, of whom 3% are Orthodox. Jews, Buddhists and other small minorities make up about 3% of the population.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Girl killed: being indigenous should not be a reason for discrimination and cruelty

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 12:15
Asuncion - The National Coordination of Indigenous Pastoral Care of the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference "is saddened and repudiates what happened to the indigenous girl found dead, with hands and feet tied, in a backpack near the bus terminal in Asuncion, and the latest deaths of our indigenous brothers and sisters, which have occurred in various violent and inexplicable ways, which to date have not been clarified".
The Observatory on Gender Violence has informed that the girl was identified as Francisca Araújo Cáceres, 12 years old, belonging to the Mbya Guaraní ethnic group and a native of Curuguaty, Department of Canindeyú. In the first two months of 2020, according to the Observatory, three other indigenous girls were found dead, one with signs of sexual violence.
In the message of CONAPI sent to Agenzia Fides, which bears the date of 26 February, it is stated that in Paraguay there are laws for the protection of minors, as also envisaged by the Constitution of the nation, and recall that, according to law 234/93 on indigenous and tribal peoples, the State "has taken on the responsibility of promoting, with the participation of the peoples concerned, a coordinated and systematic action that aims to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and to guarantee respect for their integrity".
"In the perspective of a culture of human rights and respect for differences, being indigenous should not be a reason for acts of discrimination and cruelty" says CONAPI, launching an appeal to society in general "to collaborate in the protection of children's rights and adolescents, based on the principles of non-discrimination and the right to life". The press release ends by urging the competent authorities to multiply their efforts "to promote wider public policies, knowledge and respect for cultural diversity, to respond to the needs of indigenous peoples".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/GHANA - "Let us conscientiously exercise our right to vote" urge the Bishops

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 12:04
Accra - "Following the footsteps of Jesus who did not shun his civil duties, all Christians should actively participate in the elections. We need to exercise our franchise conscientiously during the elections to secure a better country for tomorrow. We need to eschew the vote-buying syndrome and vote according to our conscience". This is the exhortation of the Bishops of Ghana for the next presidential and parliamentary elections to be held on December 7, contained in the Pastoral Letter for Lent.
The Bishops appealed "to the President of the Republic and the security agencies to provide the necessary and conducive environment devoid of fear, intimidation and hooliganism". "When people are not sure of their safety, they will not risk their lives to vote", they stress. "Every human life is sacrosanct and needs to be protected,” stating that “It is the duty of all Ghanaians to work hard to uphold the sanctity of human life before, during and after the forthcoming elections".
The Ghanaian Bishops also called on the Electoral Commission "to remain an unbiased umpire in order to restore confidence in the electoral system" and to political parties "to support and respect the independence and verdicts of the Electoral Commission".
Finally, citizens are invited "to use the social media, internet, mobile phones, etc., in a more positive and better way. These devices are not to be used to fuel hate and violent speeches".
The presidential election is expected to be a tight race between the two main contenders, incumbent Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party and the main opposition candidate John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress. If no candidate obtains a majority, then a second round is held for the two candidates who earned the largest percentage of valid votes.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - In Orissa, Lent in prayer for Coronavirus victims

Fides EN - - Gio, 27/02/2020 - 11:51
Berhampur - "We are specially praying for the victims of coronavirus of China in this season of Lent": says Fr. Sanjeev Nayak, parish priest of the Queen of the Mission Parish and vicar general of the Berhampur Catholic diocese, in the Indian state of Orissa. "We express our condolences and solidarity to the victims of coronavirus, the dreaded decease that has spread global panic. The Lenten season focuses three pillars in the Catholic Church. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. We have begun praying for the victims from the first day of Lenten season", adds Fr. Nayak to Fides.
Around 3,000 gathered yesterday for Ash Wednesday services.
"Lent is a liturgical time deeply felt by our faithful, who commemorate Jesus and focus on his Passion through the stations of the Via Crucis", explains parish priest Sapna Sahu. Catholic woman and mother of Berhampur says to Fides: "I pray for the victims of the virus. We are in solidarity because because we are all members of the human family and all children of God the Father". "Through prayer we receive grace, strength, peace and healing: in this way the eyes of the heart remain in the light, so that we know what is the hope to which we have been called", says the woman, recalling a passage from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephisians.
Berhampur is a city located on the east coast of India in the state of Orissa. It is one of the largest cities in Orissa and is famous for the production and trade of intricate, handmade silk "saris". This is why it is known as the "City of silk".
The diocese of Berhampur was established in 1974, today it has 71mil Catholics, 25 parishes, 2 missions, 89 priests, 183 nuns. The faithful are very devoted to the Virgin Mary and the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on 11 February attracts about 200 thousand pilgrims from neighboring regions.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Entry ban in Eritrea for a Catholic delegation on a visit for religious purposes

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 13:34
Addis Ababa - An Ethiopian Catholic delegation of the highest level was stopped for 16 hours at Asmara airport and then released, but forced to return to Addis Ababa. As Fides learns, the incident occurred on Saturday, February 22, but the news was released only yesterday. The delegation was formed by His Eminence Cardinal Bérhaneyesus Demerew, by Mgr. Musie Ghebregiorghis, eparch of Emdeber, and by Abba Teshome Fikre, secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia.
The three exponents of the Ethiopian Church were traveling to Eritrea to participate in the jubilee of the Archbishop's Church of Asmara, which celebrates its 50th anniversary and the annual feast of its patron, Kidane Méhret . All three had passports and a regular entry visa with them. "Upon their arrival at the airport of Asmara - reads a note from the Catholic Secretariat of Ethiopia, sent to Fides - they were illegally detained for 16 hours without reason and then were forced to return to Ethiopia. Their only fault was the desire to celebrate, together with the Eritrean confreres, a religious feast".
"There is no peace violating the rights and freedoms of people and religions. We condemn the gesture committed against the Ethiopian delegation. We also express our solidarity with the Catholic Church which is in Eritrea, which lives in a very complex context".
Despite the openings linked to the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea, there is still deep mistrust between the two Countries. The Asmara regime, one of the toughest on the African continent, still demonstrates mistrust and suspicion towards religious and political personalities from Ethiopia. The hope is that the contribution of religious communities, and in particular of the Catholic Church, will be considered as a support for the peace process, a way to lower tensions, a contribution to the common good.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Peace, security and stability: the key points of Lent in Africa

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 13:11
Niamey - A new era for the African continent, tormented by evil and suffering: is the common hope of the Church of the Country for the time of Lent that begins today, February 26, for the universal Church. In the various socio-political contexts of the vast African continent this "will be a time of grace in Africa in particular: a time in which the Bishops, in the various nations and Bishops’ Conferences, will urge the faithful to live a real renewal and a conversion of the heart, which can then be transformed into opportunities for renewal in social, economic and political action, generator of peace, security and stability", says theologian and missionary Donad Zagore of the Society for African Missions.
Each national community will respond differently, according to the problems and issues that affect it most closely: in Kenya, the fight against corruption will be at the center of the main challenges to face during this period; in Nigeria, Christians will dress in black to show their solidarity with all Christians, victims of violence in the country . In the region of Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, "hope for the Resurrection will uplift the population from the climate of tensions caused by the evil that prevails and that divides these countries". "Ivory Coast, Togo, Guinea, on the other hand, will experience this period of conversion projected towards peace and hope for peaceful elections", the missionary notes.
"Commitment and hope for a better future remain a fundamental imperative for the African continent. In Lent we will pray to the Prince of Peace for conversion, reconciliation and justice, basic principles for all Christians in Africa", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/UGANDA - Christian Leaders in Uganda call for prayers ahead of 2021 General Elections

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 13:05
Kampala - "As Christians, let us promote peace. Remember Jesus’ first word to his disciples after the resurrection was Shalom, which means peace", said His Exc. Mgr. Ssemogerere, Bishop of Kasana-Luweero, at the national day of prayer celebrated at the Uganda Martyrs Catholic Shrine Namugongo, last Sunday, February 23. At the moment of ecumenical prayer, Church leaders belonging to the Uganda Joint Christian Council , a Christian ecumenical organization in Uganda used the opportunity to remind thousands of Christians from across different denominations to pray for peace in the Country that is headed for general elections next year.
"Whatever we do or say must reflect Godliness and peace. The book of Genesis tells us we were made in God’s image", added Mgr. Ssemogerere, who spoke on behalf of the Archbishop of Kampala, His Exc. Mgr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga.
Mgr. Ssemogerere called for inclusion of youth in leadership, saying: "Seventy percent of Uganda's population is made of youths. This group has to be included in the future plans of this country for sustainable peace".
Referencing political aspirants for the 2021 Ugandan general elections, the Bishop said: "As we pray for peace in Uganda and elsewhere, we have to pray for all our leaders that they should advocate and promote all possible channels of peace. Let us also pray for those aspiring for national leadership positions to do the same".
Archimandrite Constantine Mbonabingi of the Orthodox Church in Uganda who doubles up as UJCC Executive Secretary stressed that "Uganda needs peaceful soldiers and police officers; it is unfortunate that the gun is now used against civilians. We need peace within ourselves to fight all the forms of injustices in our society".
Organized by UJCC, this year’s national prayer was attended by Christians from different denominations in Uganda including Catholics, Anglicans, members of the Orthodox church, among other denominations.
National prayer is held annually and the Anglican church will organize the prayer in 2021.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Bernardino Ne Ne

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 12:30
Vatican City - On 12 December 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed the rev. Fr. Bernardino Ne Ne, of the clergy of the diocese of Loikaw, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Myanmar for another five year period .

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - The Church in Delhi: no to violence, stop to troublemakers, help to injured protesters

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 12:27
New Delhi - Churches, parishes, schools and ecclesial institutions in the archdiocese of Delhi are offering relief to people injured in clashes among communities of different faiths that characterize the popular demonstrations organized in the Indian capital. The toll of violent inter-communal clashes between supporters and opponents of the new law , approved by the government, which grants Indian citizenship to immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan and denies it to Muslim citizens from those countries, is of 20 dead and 189 injured. The unrest began in some areas of New Delhi on February 23. The government has deployed the police to monitor the situation.
Mgr. Anil J. Couto, Archbishop of Delhi, in a letter sent to the whole community, to parish priests, institutes, Catholic schools writes: "In this moment of trial, while sudden riots torment Delhi, we come forward with our prayers and every possible effort to bring relief to those affected in terms of shelter, food and clothing". The letter from Archbishop Couto, sent to Fides, asks the institutions of the Church to open themselves to the needs of the people, urging the parish priests to inform the faithful so that they "give their contribution to help all those in need in this Lenten season".
Sister Anastasia Gill, of the Congregation of the Presentation of the Lord and member of the Commission for minorities in Delhi, condemned the targeted attacks on Muslims. "Christians should not be mere spectators while Muslim citizens are attacked", says the religious to Fides, who is also a lawyer. "There are innocent victims and the injured are not allowed to go to the hospital for treatment. Shops in Muslim areas were burnt down by militants authorized to destroy property and create violence", she notes. "Our role is to defend justice", she says, urging members of the Christian community to "form peace committees in order not to allow troublemakers to infiltrate their areas". "Do not allow these people to enter your areas", she said. The religious urges Christian institutions to "monitor the situation, to be in solidarity with Muslims and other communities, taking measures to put an end to violence". Christians, she added, are called to bring medical aid to the injured and to give refuge to those affected by the violence.
Since last December, Indian citizens have been protesting over the controversial law. Opposition parties and critics argue that the law is unconstitutional in that it subordinates the granting of citizenship to a factor in one's private sphere, such as the faith professed by a person. The law, it is observed, contributes to marginalize and further penalize the substantial minority of Indian Muslims, which has 200 million citizens, out of a population of 1.2 billion inhabitants.
A .C. Michael, a lay Catholic leader, comments to Fides: "We must work to restore normality and peace to the city. Violence is not the answer. Peaceful means of protest should be allowed. It is the responsibility of the police to maintain law and order in the city, but without abusing their power or favoring some protesters over others. As Indian Christians we must contribute to calming things down, not to use violent means and to be bearers of peace in these situations".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Civil society leaders against the "National Population Register"

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 11:51
New Delhi - To oppose the ratification and application of the "National Population Register" , the register intended to conduct the Census and collect details on all the population present on Indian territory: this is the appeal launched by 73 leaders of Indian civil society, including members of all faiths, representing various social, professional and religious backgrounds, in a statement made public and has become a petition to the federal government. In the statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, the leaders refer to article 14 of the Indian Constitution, stating that the NPR is "discriminatory, divisive, exclusive and unconstitutional", and that it contributes to polarizing society based on factors such as religion, class, caste and gender.
Through the NPR, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the nationalist party Bharatiya Janata , intends to create a citizens' database, collecting biometric and demographic details. Each citizen must provide details on his/her life such as name, relationship with the head of the family, name of the parents, name of the spouse , gender, date of birth, marital status, place of birth, nationality, address of residence, length of stay in India, profession and educational qualification. The Indian government has allocated $ 555 million to start registration which is expected to begin in April 2020.
Although the government claims that the compilation of the NPR will be done independently and is not linked to the other controversial National Register of Citizens , leaders note that the NPR is the "first phase of the data collection, to prepare the NRC, finally implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act ", the controversial citizenship law approved by the government and at the center of a wide-ranging popular protest. The law regulates the granting of citizenship to migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, excluding from that benefit migrants of Muslim faith. The two registries , activists note, will be useful in identifying and isolating religious or ethnic minorities by defining all "irregular immigrants" and then deporting them. The collection of NRC data is intrinsically linked to NPR, notes the appeal. If the two registers are implemented, "millions of people risk becoming stateless and being sent to detention centers", reads the text. To demonstrate their "citizenship" or the right of residence on Indian soil, in fact, people must produce documents such as deeds of ownership, land documents, graduation certificates, electoral cards, birth and death certificates in the event that the government request them: this is not an easy task in a country where many documents are poorly managed and not digitized.
According to John Dayal, a well-known Catholic human rights activist and a signatory of the statement sent to Fides, "the citizens of the country must not collaborate with the government and not provide any information for the compilation of the registers". Dayal explains: "We ask all state governments to immediately suspend the NPR startup process. We then call on the security forces to respect the constitutional rights of the Indian people to protest peacefully". Many civil society groups and associations across India, Dayal notes, are raising awareness among ordinary people, especially the poor, the dalit and the tribals "on new measures that pave the way for the creation of India as a Hindu nation".
Recently the Indian bishops, in a message released at the conclusion of the 34th Plenary Assembly of the Bishops’ Conference , solemnly stated that the Constitution must be protected from "pseudo-nationalism", very different from the authentic "constitutional patriotism" that the Church and civil society defend vigorously.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Bishops hope for a peaceful solution to social tension due to the postponment of elections

Fides EN - - Mer, 26/02/2020 - 11:33
Santiago - The hope that the political crisis that the Dominican Republic is going through will have a peaceful solution was expressed on Sunday, February 23, by the Archbishop of Santiago, Mgr. Freddy de Jesús Bretón Martínez. "After the suspension of the municipal elections , the Dominicans are experiencing moments of uncertainty, with many protests and public demands. We understand that we must continue to pray for a peaceful solution", said Mgr. Bretón Martínez in a message broadcast by Radio Amistad in the program "Despertar del cristiano".
According to the note sent to Fides, the Archbishop underlined the right of youth movements to protest in the streets of the city, always in compliance with the law, and concluded by hoping that the Dominicans are not fooled by those who want to buy their votes.
Also the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese, Mgr. Tomás Morel Diplán, criticized clientelism and urged the Dominicans not to sell the ballot papers or the votes. "The interests of the country must always be above personal or group interests", said Mgr. Morel Diplán in the homily of the Sunday mass celebrated in the Santiago Apostle Cathedral, in Santiago.
The exhortations of the Bishops indicate that the climate in the country has become very tense. Protests in front of the Central Electoral Board of the Dominican Republic over the suspension of municipal elections on February 16 have never stopped. On Monday, February 24, hundreds of people gathered again to ask for explanations on what happened on election day. The ruling party and the opposition accused each other of the alleged sabotage which created problems in the automated voting system and led to the suspension of the elections. The elections have been announced again on March 15 and will be followed by the elections on May 17 of Congress and the President.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - "Día de Hispanoamérica": in communion with the Spanish missionaries in Latin America

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 13:19
Madrid - Remembering the Spanish missionaries in Latin America and collaborating with them: this is the purpose of the "Día de Hispanoamérica" which is celebrated next Sunday, March 1st. This year the motto will be "So that they can have life in him". It is "a fundamental dimension of life that God participates and invites us to share, the living nucleus that animates and verifies the missionary journey of the Church, of life that becomes Life" explains the presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America in its message for the day sent to Fides.
Among the various reports sent to Fides for this circumstance, the Commission for Missions and Cooperation between the Churches of the Spanish Episcopal Conference has published several brochures for the Day of Hispanic America, which include, among other things, the Message of the Presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a liturgical grant, information report, and a text on the theme of the Missionary Laity written for the occasion by Dolores Golmayo, President of the Lay Missionary Associations.
The Pontifical Mission Societies of Spain are preparing the celebration of the Day with various activities on social media, in an organized way and with wide diffusion. The television program "Tu eres Mision", the program of the Pontifical Mission Societies on TRECE TV, will present the Day, which the Spanish Church celebrates in all Hispanic countries every first Sunday of March, remembering in a special way the twin churches of Latin America. Javier Pedraza, diocesan priest of Madrid, member of the Obra de Cooperación Sacerdotal Hispanoamericana , will speak about his 18 years of mission in Brazil, offering the testimony of his missionary experience in the Brazilian dioceses of Feira de Santana and Ruy Barbosa, near Bahia. Then the testimony of a married missionary couple and a Colombian religious who worked in the Congo, Haiti and Angola will follow.
Spain's PMS project for this occasion concerns one of the youngest churches in the world, Mongolia, where three missionaries arrived in 1992, after the fall of the communist regime. There are currently more than 70 missionaries from 24 nations.
Obra's report for the Cooperación Sacerdotal Hispanoamericana informs that there are currently 208 Spanish priests in Latin America, while in 2019 there were 237. On this day they are remembered in a particular way through prayer and financial help.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Iraqi parliamentarians of the Christian component: we will not vote for confidence in the Allawi government

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 13:13
Baghdad - The Iraqi Parliament is preparing to vote on Thursday 27 February for the confidence in the government designated by Prime Minister Mohammed Allawi, but the members of the parliamentary assembly that occupy the five seats reserved for Christian minorities have already announced their intention not to give their vote of support to the new executive. The position of the five parliamentarians was announced by parliamentarian Aswan al Kildani, belonging to the political formation of the so-called "Babylon Brigades", which occupies the seat reserved for Christians in the electoral province of Nineveh.
Aswan Salem, brother of Rayan al Kildani , in a recent interview with the MBC Iraqi television network said that the five deputies of the "Christian component" will not give their vote of confidence to the Allawi government because the designated Premier had no consultations with the representatives of his respective political formations, and did not disclose the name of the Christian exponent to whom he intends to entrust a ministry in the future government team. Another parliamentarian holding one of the five seats reserved for Christians clarified the reason for the dispute, declaring that the prime minister in charge Allawi intends to entrust a ministry to an "independent" Christian personality; without taking into account the indications and wishes of the political groups belonging to the parliamentarians who occupy the five seats reserved for Christians.
After the last political elections, which took place in May 2018, even Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako had denounced the operations of the most influential Iraqi political parties, which in the opinion of many observers had placed their emissaries also in the parliamentary seats reserved by the national institutional system for representatives belonging to the Christian component.
According to rumors in the Iraqi media, and also reported on the website, the Christian representative chosen by the Premier designated Allawi to lead the Ministry of Immigration and Refugees is Wiliam Warda. Journalist and leading exponent of the Zowaa Party , awarded in 2019 by the U.S. State Department at the International Religious Freedom Award.
In recent days, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Iraqi Premier Designated Allawi to ask him to protect the 5200 US soldiers stationed in Iraq. In the political debate preceding the vote of confidence, the Shiite components ask to expel the US military presence from the Country, while the Sunni members together with the Kurdish ones ask to keep the US military contingent on their territory, also in consideration of the role that the American soldiers can play in the fight against the clandestine cells of militants of the self-styled Islamic State still present in Iraq.
In his conversation with Allawi, Pompeo also stressed the urgency with which the next Iraqi government must put an end to the killings of demonstrators and give adequate responses to their requests.
Since last October, Iraq has been undergoing a revolt marked by nearly 550 dead and 30,000 injured, mostly protesters, and which has also led to the resignation of the previous government, led by Adel Abdel Mahdi.
On January 3, 2020, the U.S. apparatuses killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Land grabbing, the Bishops: "We need a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations"

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 12:57
Abidjan - "We strongly denounce the land grabbing and forced expropriation of land in all its forms. The consequences are incalculable: Loss of cultural and ancestral heritage, displacement, unemployment, famine, exodus, migration, etc.", say the Bishops of the Standing Committee of the Union of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa , in the statement published at the end of their meeting held in mid-February in Abidjan.
To the "States, companies, multinationals, and to all those involved in this disastrous operation of land grabbing and forced expropriation of land in Africa", the Bishops ask to listen to the word of God: “Do not strip the weak; he is weak! And do not crush the humble man injustice” .
In addition to "the phenomenon of land grabbing by multinationals with the connivance of certain local actors", the Bishops denounce "the forced expropriation of land of farmers by herders for grazing purposes. We are also witnessing the manhunts, villagers who are sent parking from their homes and their farmlands destroyed. This leads to the loss of human lives".
"Despite what can be said of the economic benefits of mineral extraction in Africa, it should be noted that its harmful effects are incalculable for the African peoples", says the message. Among the harmful effects there is: degradation of the environment, imbalance of the ecosystem, loss of biodiversity, pollution of rivers, seas, water tables, etc.
The Bishops of West Africa therefore call for "the establishment of a global, legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations. We ask our respective governments in West Africa to work collectively with other Countries for the realization of such an instrument for peaceful global governance".
"Let us, therefore, work together for a new world order which guarantees the different communities of West Africa the right to an environment that promotes sustainable development, which respects nature and natural resources. Following the Holy Father, we invite the governments of West Africa to «correct the growth models that seem incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment» and the rights of communities", concludes the declaration.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Three Christians who wanted to build a chapel have been injured

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 12:37
Lahore - Three Pakistani Christian men who were working on the construction of a chapel in Sahiwal, in the Pakistani province of Punjab, were injured in an attack by people who wanted to stop the project. As Agenzia Fides learns, in recent days Muslims Muhammad Akram, Muhammad Liaqat, Aslam and their companions attacked the Christians, who had expressed their intention of building a small chapel on their land in the village where they live, the "Chak 92 -9L", in Sahiwal district. The village is made up of 150 houses, while the total Christian population is about 120 faithful. Gulzar Masih, one of the local Christians, owner of a plot of land , intended to build a simple building to be used as a chapel for the worship of local Christians, currently forced to travel several kilometers to go to a church. Muhammad Liaqat opposed the construction of the church, contesting the ownership of that land and also contesting the idea of having a Christian church in the village. A quarrel arose which ended with the arrival of the police who stopped the people involved in the fight: Gulzar and his son, Liaqat and his companions, all subsequently released.
On the same day Muhammad Liaqat with his accomplices, this time equipped with firearms and cutting weapons, began to demolish the surrounding wall that the Christians had begun to build. Upon the arrival of Gulzar Masih and other faithful, who wanted to prevent the demolition, the attackers opened fire seriously injuring three Christians: Azeem, Gulzar’s son, Sajjad and Razaq, all then hospitalized in the civil hospital of Sahiwal. The police again arrested some suspects but in the meantime the attackers also filed a complaint against the Christians, claiming to have been attacked.
According to the NGO CLAAS , which provides legal assistance to Christians in the village, it is "a patent violation of the right to worship of the faithful, and an abuse committed by other Muslim citizens, who use indiscriminate violence against religious minorities".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Dialogue and fraternity: the legacy of the Abu Dhabi Declaration in Pakistan

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 12:30
Lahore - Dialogue without prejudice, the culture of encounter, the fraternal relationship with others, beyond the differences of culture, religion or ethnicity, language or social class, material and spiritual collaboration between Christian faithful and Muslims: this is the precious patrimony that the historic document gives on "Human fraternity for peace and life in the world" signed by Pope Francis and Ahmad Al -Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Ahzar, on February 4, 2019. This is what emerged from a recent meeting, held in Lahore, which wanted to celebrate the first anniversary of that historic signature, which in Pakistan generated initiatives for exchange, dialogue, interreligious prayer.
The commemoration, organized by the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, was attended, among other Christian leaders, by Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, President of the Commission, and Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio to Pakistan. Next to them, Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, Governor of the Punjab province, Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad, Imam of the great "Royal Mosque" of Lahore and numerous other prominent Muslim leaders. Participants included members of civil society, school representatives, students of college and university faculties and a good number of faithful from different religions.
The purpose of the event was to renew the common commitment for dialogue and fraternity in Pakistan and express solidarity with Pope Francis and Ahmad Al-Tayyeb for their efforts in promoting reconciliation, the culture of dialogue, peace, freedom and justice in the world.
Archbishop Shaw said that "accepting and welcoming one another is essential for living together in peace and harmony", welcoming the fact that "many people of different religions" were brought together "to commemorate the first anniversary of that historic document". The Apostolic Nuncio Zakhia El-Kassis reaffirmed Pope Francis' vision for peace, harmony and coexistence in the world, recalling that "it is necessary to promote the culture of dialogue as a path for mutual respect, acceptance, harmony, justice, freedom and equality".
The commitment of Christians and Muslims in Pakistan for dialogue and coexistence, with a view to the common good of the country, was appreciated by Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, Governor of the Punjab province, who said: "We are all called to give our contribution to making Pakistan a better country". Peace, he recalled, "cannot be promoted in a society without justice", promising that "the government will do its best to promote religious harmony".
Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad and the other Muslim leaders also expressed their favorable view regarding the Abu Dhabi document, confirming their commitment to "mutual respect, dialogue, human rights and justice, based on mercy, in order to build a prosperous and peaceful society in Pakistan".
At the end of the commemoration, an olive tree was planted in the garden of the Governor's Palace of Punjab in Lahore, a symbol of peace and prosperity in the Holy Bible and the Koran.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Resignation of the Apostolic Vicar of El Beni

Fides EN - - Mar, 25/02/2020 - 12:20
Vatican City - On 22 February 2020 the Holy Father accepted the renunciation of the pastoral governance of the Apostolic Vicariate of El Beni , presented by His Exc. Mgr Julio María Elías Montoya, O.F.M.
Categorie: From the church