ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Christians and Muslims deepen their faith: the initiative of the "Silsilah" movement

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 15:07
Zamboanga - "We try not only to protect ourselves and to counter the spread of the virus, but also to make our experience and our service meaningful for the common good. This is the effort that the movement for Islamic-Christian Silsilah dialogue, in the Southern Philippines makes": with these words Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME missionary in Zamboanga presents the purposes of the new initiative to Agenzia Fides: the in-depth program called "Living Faith" which explores the "99 names of Allah" and the evangelical Beatitudes. The program is broadcast online and on various social network channels and will last, with one episode per week, for twenty weeks.
Father Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME, founder of "Silsilah", executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission for interreligious dialogue, explains that "this is a new challenge for us in Silsilah, but also for those who participate in the program. Different leaders, ustadz and Muslim imams will help the audience, which is international. Many students from the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have applied for the course. Among the speakers there are also Silsilah, scholars, religious personalities, while all the participants can submit comments and ask for further information".
"A very positive fact - notes the missionary - is that even the Muslim faithful have been called to deepen their faith more and to live their faith day by day, in the conviction of belonging to the same human fraternity". "Christians too - he continues - are asked to have a different attitude in their relations with Muslims, despite the alarming news coming from neighboring Muslim areas. In Jolo, 2 bombs recently killed and injured many innocent people. We are still faced with the reality of groups that claim to be Muslim, but fall into the category of violent extremism".
Another initiative of the "Silsilah" Movement in the same direction is to collect and disseminate "Stories of change": those of people who, passing joyful and painful life events, have changed their relationships with transferors of faiths other than their own and today they walk in the spirit of dialogue and solidarity.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - The Church is close to migrants with prayer and with projects of reception and support

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 14:48
San Paolo - "On 27 September we celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The Pope is sensitive to the migratory reality which makes people more vulnerable to human trafficking, hunger, violence and disease", underlines the president of the Conference of Religious of Brazil , Sister Maria Inês Ribeiro. In a video released on the occasion of this Day, the nun highlights that the CRB has chosen to listen to the cry of the Poor and the Earth as a priority for the three-year period 2019-2022. So, as one of its commitments, it has chosen to support partnerships with institutions that work with migrants, refugees, native populations and quilombola.
"I invite all the consecrated life and all the brothers, together with all the religious realities that are part of the Rede Clamor, to celebrate September 27, World Day of Migrants and Refugees", urges Sister Maria Inês. "We are all united in supporting groups that work directly with migrants and refugees, welcoming them, promoting them, protecting them and integrating all the displaced. Let's not forget the Pope's appeal!", she concludes.
In Argentina, the Mass for the Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on Saturday 26 September at 7 pm in the Cathedral of Azul, presided over by Mgr. Hugo Manuel Salaberry SJ, Bishop of Azul and President of the Episcopal Commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people .
Traditionally this celebration takes place in the shrine of Our Lady Mother of Emigrants, in La Boca neighborhood of the city of Buenos Aires, but this year it was not possible due to preventive and obligatory social isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The flags of the communities and the messages of their representatives, in the original language of their ancestors, will frame the celebration, which will be transmitted through social networks.
The Catholic Church of Colombia, through the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral Care /Cáritas Colombia, provides support and hospitality to migrants in various ways. One of the projects it has been implementing since April 2020, and which will run until March 2021, is called "Multisectoral Response to the Humanitarian Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia 2020-2021" and aims to alleviate suffering and preserve the dignity of vulnerable Venezuelan migrants in Colombia.
"This project consists in providing attention to passing migrants by offering hospitality, protection, attention to health and access to national transport, to alleviate at least a little the transit to their destination", explains Luisa Fernanda López Campos, project specialist. This also takes place in Arauca, Cali and Ipiales.
"The main difficulty identified for migrants is the ignorance of their rights as persons and migrants, which would help them to have access to the subsidized health care provided by the State, as well as the possibility of accessing decent work", emphasizes the specialist.
So far 663 people have been housed in transit shelters, 284 have received psychosocial support and 563 health care. Another major challenge is to work to reduce xenophobia, as denials and unjust accusations continue to increase.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - Being a missionary in Kibera, one of the poorest suburbs in the world; the story of the National Director of the PMS to Fides

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 14:37
Nairobi - Priests in one of the poorest suburbs in the world: the slum in Kibera in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where Fr. Bonaventure Luchidio, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Kenya, paid a visit on 24 September. This is his testimony sent to Fides:
" I arrived in the parish of Christ the King and received a warm welcome from Fr. Luis Martinez, a member of the Mexican Society of Our Lady of Guadalupe for Foreign Missions, founded in Mexico. The Congregation is popularly known as the Guadalupe Fathers or Mexican Fathers. Fr. Jose says: "initially Kibera was part of the parishes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the parish of Adam's Arcade and the parishes of St. Michael's Otiende which are located on the margin of the slum. Each parish used to take care of half of the slum area and the priests used to visit it for pastoral care, visits to the sick, celebration of the sacraments in small Christian communities, and then in the evening they returned to the parish".
This service was not optimal from a pastoral point of view because the priests, although well received in the slum villages, were treated as visitors who come and go from their comforts in the parishes on the margin of the slum.
This feeling of being considered strangers among the people they served challenged the priests to act and come to live closer to the people and to share their plight. The first priest rented a shack to live in the heart of the slums of Kibera. This action of being with the flock and grazing the flock from the inside rather than from the outside, bore much fruit because the priests were accepted and embraced by the community by both Catholics and non-Catholics. They were able to learn the language of the slum and thus reach the hearts of its inhabitants. They were able to come to terms with the real reality of life in the slums, the challenges of housing, the difficulties of water and sanitation, the risk of crime and addictions. They opened up to God and allowed God to challenge them in the adventure of missionary work among the urban poor.
This year after the outbreak of Covid-19, churches were closed and people were unable to attend Mass. Many of the slum dwellers lost their livelihoods, so they couldn't afford one meal a day. The parish therefore instituted the "vase of love" where offerings can be placed for the needy.
"The people of the slums, in their poverty are extremely generous and the culture of sharing is deeply rooted in them", says Fr. Jose. "Most of them arrived in Nairobi with nothing and so they found themselves in Kibera because it is cheap. But without money or a source of income, people suffer from neglect and abuse. Then a good Samaritan comes along and offers a person in need a shoulder to lean on. When this person finds a source of livelihood, he goes into debt to assist those in difficulty, and this is their source of generosity".
While I was still there, Fr. Jose takes me back to the main agenda of the day by reminding me that now, in the missionary month of October, people will be engaged in praying the missionary rosary and visiting the poor, the sick and the vulnerable. Father Jose Martinez turns to me and says, "Fr. Luchidio, how beautiful it would be if you came to celebrate Mass for us on October 18, 2020, for World Mission Sunday". I was shocked because, who can say no to such an invitation? We had agreed with the Cardinal to hold the Holy Mass in the Basilica, but my heart, my missionary heart is in Kibera".
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Migrant Day: "To welcome today as if we were to welcome Christ as a refugee"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 13:06
Rome - "In the flight to Egypt, Jesus experienced being a refugee. In the eyes of Mary and Joseph we see the same worried and fearful gazes of today's refugees. In Christ, however, we see the same conditions as the many children who today suddenly find themselves adults, with their childhood torn by human cruelty". This was emphasized by Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Scalabrinians, a Congregation that since its foundation has been dealing with assistance to migrants, for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees of 27 September.
"The Holy Family in search of refuge in Egypt reminds us of the dramatic condition of exiled families, who live in fear, uncertainty and hardship. In the Holy Family in exile today we feel the duty to assist the many families who ask for help", continues the nun in the note sent to Agenzia Fides." Pope Francis is illuminating in his vision of Pontificate - explains Sister Neusa - And once again he expresses his personal concern and that of the whole Church, for 'people on the move'. The Pontiff's message is based on six verbs that are translated into very concrete actions, linked in a cause-effect relationship: knowing and understanding, becoming neighbor and serving, reconciling and listening, growing and sharing, involving and promoting, collaborating and building. Responding to the four verbs already presented by the Pope some time ago is a pastoral challenge that we strongly embrace: we must welcome, protect, promote and integrate".
The 106th World Migrant Day is celebrated in harmony with the Jubilee of the Congregation, born 125 years ago. "This year we have one more opportunity - continues the Superior General - to raise awareness on migrants and refugees, and as consecrated for migrants, to offer intensely our communion and solidarity, our prayer, and to respond to the appeals that migration itself puts us in front of the physical eyes and the eyes of the heart".
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - The Church in prayer for Migrant Day: "The pandemic must not distract us from the suffering of those who flee"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 12:58
Sydney - "The understandable focus on the COVID-19 pandemic must not distract people from another ongoing crisis. Migration is a major challenge for much of today’s world and a priority for the Catholic Church. In words and deeds, Pope Francis repeatedly shows his deep compassion for all who are displaced. Witness his encounters with migrants and refugees on the islands of Lampedusa and Lesbos. He invites us to welcome, protect, promote and integrate the people who have been forced to leave their homes and also all victims of human trafficking. Those four verbs formed the basis of Pope Francis’ 2018 message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. and are again proposed to us this year by the Pontiff: he pushes us with greater force to take care of those who are “on the move”, writes Mgr. Christopher Prowse, Bishop Delegate for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the Australian Church, on the occasion of the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday 27 September.
In his message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Prelate underlines how the ongoing migration crisis finds its icon in the image of the Holy Family, which "represents people 'on the move'. The biblical image of the flight of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to Egypt has always inspired the work of Catholics on various aspects of migration. The Church stands by the frailties and dangers of millions of people who move around the world to seek a dignified home".
To allow all the faithful to learn more about the migratory phenomenon, the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office has prepared a special pastoral kit that includes the message from Pope Francis, the letter from Archbishop Prowse, a message from a Vatican expert on migration and community stories of migrants and refugees in Australia. In addition, a collection of prayers and liturgical resources has been produced for all parish communities that will celebrate World Day. In this way, the Australian Church intends to give ample spiritual, pastoral and social importance to a phenomenon that of migration, which closely challenges Australian society and politics.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Towards Mission Sunday - The Bishop of Bossangoa: "Keep the lamp of hope burning"

Fides EN - - Sab, 26/09/2020 - 12:58
Bossangoa - "The Catholic Church is fully inserted in the general context of the socio-political life in the Central African Republic. To date, it suffers from prevailing insecurity and has paid a heavy price for the crisis affecting the whole country and whose effects continue to be felt also on the structures and organization of its ecclesial communities: looting, vandalism, attacks on pastoral workers and restrictions on the use of pastoral care bring to this Church the experience of evangelical fragility and poverty". Thus reports in an interview released to Agenzia Fides, Mgr Nestor-Désiré Nongo-Aziagbia, Bishop of Bossangoa and President of the Central African Episcopal Conference , speaking of next October, the month dedicated to all the world come together to support and celebrate missionary work and evangelization, celebrating World Mission Day, scheduled for 18 October 2020.
Archbishop Nestor says: "We note with concern that some faithful observe behavior that is not always adequate to Christian faith. Some no longer believe in anything or anyone, to the point of leaving their fate in the hands of unscrupulous and unethical people who shamelessly exploit them. However - he continues - faith invites us to identify the signs of hope and to be involved in the positive transformation of our society. Living against all hope, as Saint Paul invites us to do - explains the Prelate - is an essential step for Christians in situations of conflict to become factors of change: being a Christian in such circumstances means continuing to keep the lamp of hope burning, of love, forgiveness and reconciliation".
The Catholic Church in Central Africa, despite the many social problems it faces, is courageously engaging in evangelical witness by accompanying the faithful on their spiritual journey. "The Platform of Religious Confessions in the Central African Republic - reports Mgr. Aziagbia - is also the place where the commitment of the Catholic Church is expressed alongside the Muslim and Protestant communities for social cohesion, respect for others and universal brotherhood".
As for the missionary month of October, the National Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies has already established a program of appointments that will take place in the various dioceses located nationwide. "Starting from October 2020 - reports Mgr. Nestor - a radio entertainment activity will begin as well as the production of animation notebooks; a prayer campaign for the missions and the production of a video on the subject of the Holy Father's message for this year's World Mission Sunday: "Here I am, send me" . "This special time dedicated to the missionary world - he concludes - always represents an important occasion to remind all the faithful to renew their baptismal commitments in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God".

Link correlati :Watch the video service on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/CHILE - Aid delivered to more than 3,500 vulnerable families in the first phase of the "Five loaves and two fish" campaign

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 15:54
Rancagua - The first phase of the "Five loaves and two fish" solidarity campaign, promoted by the diocese of Rancagua, which was able to deliver aid to over 3,500 families in particular situations of need, has ended. According to information provided by the diocese, $ 491,790,000 in contributions were raised from individuals, companies and institutions, which translated into food and clothing were delivered to the most vulnerable in the diocese. The second phase of this charity initiative now begins.
"With the help of the Lord and of many people who collaborated, today we can say that the first goal, which was to reach 3,500 vulnerable families with food, has been achieved", said the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Rancagua and Bishop of the diocese of San Bernardo, Mgr. Juan Ignacio González. With the donations collected, food and new clothing were purchased to be delivered to families.
As the diocese points out, it was a real chain of solidarity: the delivery of food and clothing was achieved thanks to the cash contribution of individuals, families, companies and institutions; then a large number of volunteers prepared the boxes that were taken to the various collection points of the diocese, where the parish priests and the fraternal help teams took them and went to deliver them to the most needy.
The economic and social consequences of the pandemic are still strongly felt in Chile. For this reason, a second phase of this campaign has been planned, the motto of which is: "Five loaves and two fish: families help families". It was thought that every family that is in a position to do so can help another family by donating food, in this way the situation would be very different, said the Bishop.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - Letter from Cardinal Antonio Cañizares:"Let us not harden our hearts in the face of migrants and refugees"

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 15:54
Valencia - "The scenes that come to mind, the situations we see or imagine are tremendous, terrible and affect our conscience. It is a dramatic situation that makes us reflect and prevents us from crossing our arms", underlines Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, Archbishop of Valencia, in the pastoral letter sent to Fides, published on the occasion of the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is celebrated on Sunday 27 September. "It is true that there have always been migrations - he continues -. Even if now the migratory movements of these times are so alarming in the West, especially Europe. Today migrations have new characteristics and present a very specific problem, very varied and complex, full of profound drama and profound repercussions". "Let us not harden our hearts in the face of migrants and refugees: let us open ourselves to them, brothers who come from afar" is the title of the letter, which states: "They challenge us again this year and, if possible even more, in the face of the emergency of the Covid-19 pandemic: migrants, refugees, persecuted, our brothers who look to our European countries as the solution to their immense problems of hunger, lack of the hygienic and health needs in their respective countries, in order to live with their families with decency and dignity in their countries of origin. We must also add the lack of freedom they are subjected to in their lands which they have to abandon and even the terrible persecutions for their faith".
An answer is suggested by the message of the Holy Father, says the Archbishop of Valencia: "To welcome them, integrate them, protect them and promote them, cordially and effectively, so that they feel recognized in all their dignity as brothers, and for us to feel truly in solidarity with those who suffer in their flesh the effects of marginalization and poverty".
According to data from Caritas of the archdiocese of Valencia, in 2019 Caritas assisted 30 thousand migrants, of whom 61% are foreigners. In addition, the welcome program in their homes indicates that there are families of 20 nationalities from Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The Spanish Bishops' Conference, through the Episcopal Subcommittee for Migration and Human Mobility, underlined, in a message signed by its Bishops, that this World Day seeks to give vulnerable people a face, "saving them from anonymous lists of figures". It also points out how much it is also necessary to "raise awareness in Spanish society to guarantee the rights of human dignity to all people forced to move".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CHAD - Towards Mission Day - "Here we are, send us": the testimonies of religious and lay missionaries

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 15:31
N'Djamena - "Here I am, send me " is the theme of World Mission Sunday, which is to be celebrated on 18 October. But what does this invitation mean in concrete terms in the life of those who have accepted the call of the Lord? Agenzia Fides has collected the responses of some missionaries active in Chad.
Mgr. Jean-Claude Bouchard, Bishop of Pala, has spent fifty-two years of missionary life in the African country. The Bishop was called to proclaim the Gospel far from his homeland, Canada, where he was ordained in St-Éloi, his native village, on August 30, 1969. The Bishop of Pala explains: "I arrived in Chad in January 1970 , assigned to the Guelendeng mission. I collaborated with Father Honoré Jouneaux, former Apostolic Prefect. We stayed together seven years before I was appointed Bishop… Those seven years went by too quickly and I was appointed Bishop too soon. I felt like the prophet Jeremiah who said to the Lord: "I am too young". But I had to answer yes to the Lord who called me through the voice of Pope Paul VI".
The Bishop concludes: "The Church of Chad has grown in quantity, but it is urgent to make it grow in quality. There are many baptisms, but not enough knowledge of Jesus and the commitment of the baptized in the Church and in the life of the Country. Let the words: 'Here I am, send me!' become the answer for each of us".
The call to mission concerns all the baptized, as evidenced by the response of spouses Alexis and Rosalie to the call of the mission to the training centers for couple animators of the communities of Bedonné, in the diocese of Doba. "Before, we believed that the mission was only for Westerners, priests, nuns and not for lay people. The celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019 with the theme 'Baptized and sent, the Church of Christ on mission in the world', enlightened us and pushed us to understand that Christ's mission is for all of us and without distinction".
The family arrived in Bendoné on December 27, 2019: "This experience makes us understand that even the laity, by virtue of the gifts that have been given by the Lord, constitute a witness and at the same time a living instrument of the Church's mission to the extent of gift offered by the Lord". And he concludes: "Now, when we find ourselves in front of couples, we give thanks to God for having called us to this great mission . We say, in the words of the apostle Paul, that teaching someone to bring him to faith is the task of every preacher and also of every believer".
Sister M. Pilar Justo, Comboni Missionary, says that the verse of the prophet Isaiah, theme of World Mission Day 2020, is the same verse she put on the card in memory of her first Profession: "By putting this sentence, I wanted to show my desire to go on a mission. When I saw the verse again for World Mission Sunday this year, it gave me great joy. It made me relive the moment when I was preparing to be sent where the Congregation wanted to send me".
Sister M. Pilar was born 76 years ago in a peasant family in a small village in Spain and learned about the missionary activity during school age: "They also told us that there were missionaries who left the country to go share the gospel with them. They invited us to pray for each other every day, to make sacrifices too, to give up something to offer the fruits to help so many other children and adults to be baptized. This is how all our sacrifices written on a piece of paper and the little money saved, we offered on World Mission Day, very proud to collaborate in the baptism of children in distant countries. Does my missionary vocation have its roots in this time? I believe the seed was sown, but before the plant was even born and grew, how many things happened".
"Little by little, in the journey of deepening the Word of God or in helping people, the Lord made me understand that he had his plan for me, and this was not what I am building. He called me to be a missionary for life", she notes.
Sister Pilar returned to the Comboni Missionaries and, after the years of formation, was sent to Chad in 1978, to the diocese of Sarh. "I found a lot to do, but a lot of joy in doing it. The training of catechists, the accompaniment of catechumens in Baptism filled me with joy every Easter. God has allowed me to contemplate the wonders he does in the people I have met. I have seen many families who have become Christians and many young people from Chad become priests or nuns. When I contemplate this Church, as the daughter of St. Daniel Comboni, I can only think: Years have passed now but God continues to have his plan for me ... I continue to have the joy of mission in my heart. This is why I repeat again and again with joy: "Here I am: send me!".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - "Missionary disciples on the way": preparations for the 13th anniversary of the Aparecida Conference

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 14:05
Bogotà - During the virtual meeting of the Presidents of the 22 American Bishops' Conferences, gathered in CELAM, connected via the internet on 21 and 22 September , the preparations for the event that will commemorate the 13th anniversary of the V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops , held in Aparecida, Brazil, from 13 to 31 May 2007, with the intervention of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, was also discussed.
The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, explained that various Commissions have been organized with specific objectives. The planning of the event counts on the support of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, the country chosen as the site of the commemoration, if this can take place with the participation of people. This will depend on the conditions of the pandemic in the countries of the continent. An alternative plan was also designed to celebrate it in a virtual form.
According to the Cardinal, the event will be on the missionary disciples who set out, with synodal and community discernment, to seek new paths. For this reason, the anniversary represents a huge challenge. The steering committee, the general secretariat, the preparatory commission and other working groups dedicated to the choice of contents, communication, economics and the liturgical aspect were formed.
It is expected that for the months of July and August 2021 an "Instrumentum Laboris" can be presented as a product of synodal and community discernment, to carry out the event from 22 to 26 November 2021.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - "Corruption is equal to betrayal and socio-economic terrorism" says the President of "Justice and Peace"

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 13:50
Johannesburg - "The coronavirus seems to have reinforced the greed that has conquered our Country in the last ten years", says His Exc. Mgr. Victor Hlolo Phalana, Bishop of Klerksdorp, and President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference , in a statement for Heritage Day, which is celebrated in South Africa on September 24 each year, to celebrate the culture and diversity of national beliefs and traditions.
And it is precisely "corruption - says Mgr. Phalana – that represents the main threat to our national heritage".
"Corruption was a constant feature of the apartheid period. Blacks were its main victims, since they had no rights and therefore had no way to protect themselves from abuse as politicians and officials used the power of the government for personal gain", recalls the Bishop, according to whom "The most corrupt period in the history of the Country were the last years of apartheid, when the attempt to fight the successful campaign of international sanctions made corruption, protected by government secrecy, its central strategy".
The end of apartheid did not end corruption, just remember what happened during the time of President Jacob Zuma. His resignation in 2018 raised hopes that were not fullfilled, Mgr. Phalana recalls. "It was a blow to see the ruling party redeploy corrupt officials to various strategic positions, including Parliament".
The Bishop stigmatizes the recent scandals of embezzlement of funds allocated to fight Covid-19: "While millions of people were locked up in their homes, knowing that they could lose their jobs and income, corrupt politicians, like the hyenas surrounding an immobilized prey, rushed on the 500 billion rand subsidy package to help companies cope with the economic implications of Covid -19 "with the result that the workers on layoffs" did not see a cent of the funds allocated to them".
Private companies have illegally enriched themselves with the supply of cheap protective materials sold at inflated prices, "putting the lives of patients, front-line workers and the entire population at risk", denounces Mgr. Phalana.
"Corruption equals treason and socio-economic terrorism and should be treated as such. I am ashamed to acknowledge that corruption is our heritage", concludes the Bishop of Klerksdorp.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Resignation of bishop of Sivagangai

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 13:35
Vatican City – The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Sivagangai, India, presented by Bishop Jebamalai Susaimanickam.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CHAD - Resignation of the Bishop of Pala

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 13:33
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Pala, Chad, presented by Bishop Jean-Claude Bouchard, O.M.I.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - US funds to the charitable association for Christian refugees founded by Archbishop Warda

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 13:27
Erbil - The fund allocated by US foreign policy to a charitable organization promoted by the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar Warda, to assist Christian refugees displaced since 2014 in the capital area of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, after having abandoned their homes in Mosul and in the villages of the Nineveh Plain in the face of the offensive of the jihadist militiamen of the self-proclaimed Islamic State amounts to almost two and a half million dollars.
The ceremony to formalize the donation to the charitable organization, Ankawa Charitable Association, took place on Thursday 24 September in the church of St. Joseph in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil, and saw the participation of Archbishop Warda himself and the Usa Consul General in Iraq, Rob Waller . The disbursement of the substantial contribution - reports news site - follows the meeting between Archbishop Warda and the US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Toller, which took place in Erbil a few weeks ago. Already at that meeting, the US Representative had reported that part of the $ 204 million recently allocated by the US to support Iraq would be reserved for the Ankawa Charitable Association to support Iraqi Christian refugees.
At least 2,500 Christian families live in precarious conditions in the Erbil area, concentrated in the suburb of Ankawa, and for the time being they do not seem willing to return to their homes in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain, which have long since been removed from the control of jihadist militias.
On 11 December, Archbishop Bashar Warda had attended the White House ceremony in which US President Donald Trump had signed the "Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018" , the law that recognized the series of violence perpetrated in recent years by jihadist groups against Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria as "Genocide". That law committed the United States government to provide humanitarian assistance to groups who were victims of the violence and to prosecute those responsible and perpetrators of the brutalities.
The ceremony for the signing of the US President was attended, among others, by the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, also the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson, the US Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich and Archbishop Timothy Broglio , Military Ordinary in the United States of America.
The law also promoted US financial assistance for projects in favor of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria.
Previously, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako had pointed out in an interview that "in recent years Christians have suffered injustice, violence and terrorism in the Middle East. But this also happened to their other Muslim Iraqi brothers, and to those of other religious faiths. We must not separate Christians from others, because in that way the sectarian mentality is fuelled".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Bishops to young people: "Serve the Gospel with courage, as young missionaries"

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 12:40
Multan : "Pakistan is a Country that has more than 60 percent of young people of its total population, and we Catholic Bishops are working to support young Christians in Pakistan to be protagonists of the evangelizing mission, active members of ecclesial groups and movements, and courageously serve the Gospel and the Church as young missionaries": says Mgr. Samson Shukardin OFM, Bishop of Multan and President of the Commission for Youth within the Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, to Agenzia Fides, addressing over 70 young people from the different dioceses who are participating in the four-day seminar entitled "Bible and Youth" at the Pastoral Institute of Multan. The biblical seminary is organized by the "Catholic Bible Commission of Pakistan" and aims to help young people to deepen their faith and the Bible.
Bishop Shukardin says: "Young people are the strength of the Church. We want our young people to grow, we want to see them highly qualified, to excel in their professional life and apply for jobs in the government and public life sectors. We wish to accompany them on the journey to nourish their faith, while remaining in contact with the Church".
The Bishop observes: "Having more educated, qualified and professional young people is important. The growth and development of young people means growth and development of the Catholic community in Pakistan". "We also want young people to live a holy life - continues the Prelate - to live to be saints of modern times. This is possible only when we know and love Jesus Christ, working to grow in the relationship with Jesus. We must grow in our faith through the Eucharist, the Word of God and the Sacraments". The Bishop said to those present: "None of the Saints were born already holy: they all lived as disciples of Jesus Christ and, to be a disciple of Jesus, each of you is called to know Jesus Christ, to follow and imitate him".
Fr. Emmanuel Asi, Executive Secretary of the Biblical Commission, speaking to Fides, said: "With this seminar we intend to help young people to take root in the Word of God, teach them methods to read and meditate on the Word of God. The themes chosen will help them in growth and discernment, for the important decisions of their life". Quoting St. Jerome, adds Fr. Emmanuel Asi: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. It is important that young people get into the habit of reading the Holy Bible every day and draw inspiration from it. The Word of God opens hearts and minds as happened to two disciples on the road to Emmaus".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/THAILAND - Parliament postpones the vote for change: the protest of young people does not stop

Fides EN - - Ven, 25/09/2020 - 12:25
Bangkok - Thailand is enveloped in social and political tensions that involve, in a special way, the world of young people and that could determine a new state structure and therefore the future of the country. Yesterday, Parliament examined and debated six motions with amendments to the Constitutional Charter, in response to student protests that have been crossing the streets of the capital and several other cities for months. The last one, on Saturday 19 September, saw over ten thousand demonstrators take to the streets, joined, for the first time, also by parliamentarians from opposition parties and citizens, not only young people. However, yesterday Parliament postponed the vote: 431 parliamentarians and senators chose to delay the vote; 255 opposed who chose to leave and joined a few thousand protesters crowded in front of the legislative assembly building. Among the amendments, the one formulated by the parties that form the governing coalition proposed that the first two chapters of the Charter should not be touched. The opposition, led by the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties, instead wants not only that the two chapters to be subject to revision, but that a reform of the Senate, currently not elected but chosen by the Armed Forces, to be voted on. In the meantime, an "ad hoc committee" has been formed, but the opposition deputies have chosen not to participate: it consists of 31 parliamentarians - including 15 senators - who belong to the parties of the coalition that supports the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.
The movement, which began to move already in 2019 after the general elections, took a breather in February 2020 when the Future Forward Party was dissolved from the judiciary and its leader expelled from Parliament, due to a series of legal quibbles. After a sort of pause linked to Covid-19, given the ban on street gatherings, the protests resumed in mid-July, culminating on 10 August in the public reading of a ten-point manifesto calling for the resignation of the premier and a new Constitution. The Movement, made up mostly of young people, has also targeted the monarchy, asking that its role to be downsized, that is, interference in national political affairs.
The youth movement, which has expanded popular support since last Saturday, has already recognized leaders born above all in the classrooms of the Thammasat University in Bangkok and likes to define itself generically as "Free Youth Movement". It already has its icons: the three-fingered salute ; the Monument to Democracy in the center of the capital, which is now the starting point of the protests; and a symbol that links them to those of Taiwan and Hong Kong, or the so-called “Milk Tea Alliance” which has a cup of milk tea as its icon. For now, the government has reacted cautiously, without violence: the police, deployed yesterday as well, did not intervene. But the postponement of the vote on the amendments will give new life to the movement that has already called a general strike for mid-October.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - The continuous desecrations force the closure of a church

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/09/2020 - 13:46
Abuja - The continuous sacrileges committed in the church of St Peter in Makurdi have forced the Bishop of the Nigerian diocese, His Exc. Mons. Wilfred Anagbe, to suspend all activities in the parish. The suspension, which entered into force on September 15, 2020, was due to two sacrilegious attacks on the parish, on August 12 and September 13, by people yet to be identified.
The decree sanctioning the suspension of liturgical and pastoral activities states: "The parish will from now on be closed for the celebration of Holy Mass and for all other pastoral activities in line with Canon 1211, with effect from today, September 15 2020, until further notice".
The assailants entered the chapel of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the main building of the church, profaning the Blessed Eucharist and sacking the sacred chalices, so that the whole church was profaned.
The closure, according to the decree, "is to allow us to prepare ourselves adequately for the penance required by law to repair the damage that this profanation has done to the Sacred Body of Christ".
"Pastoral activities will resume only after a reparation proportional to this sacrilege has been made and better security structures for the parish will be fully guaranteed, according to the canonical requirements. Once done this, the entire community of this parish, among other things, will have to participate in a novena of reparation which will end with a rite of expiation, according to the diocesan liturgical norms", explains the decree signed by Mgr. Anagbe.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - The first church built in Turkish territory since 1923 erected in record time

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/09/2020 - 13:39
Istanbul - In the year in which in Istanbul the Turkish authorities authorize the re-use for Islamic worship of the ancient Christian basilica of Hagia Sofia and of the ancient church of San Salvatore in Chora, on the outskirts of the same city, the construction of the first church built from scratch in Turkish territory since 1923, the year of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey, was completed in record time. This is the church dedicated to St. Ephrem, erected in a few months at the request of the local Syriac Orthodox community in the Yesilkoy district , in an area not far from Ataturk International Airport. The works for the construction of the church, authorized at the beginning of 2019 and inaugurated on August 3 of the same year in the presence of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are in the pipeline, and it is expected that the church will be inaugurated in the first half of 2021. The new place of worship will be able to accommodate more than 700 faithful, and will also house the seat of Metropolitan Yusuf Çetin, currently at the head of the local Syriac Orthodox Christian community.
Turkish media supporters of President Erdogan emphasize the speed of construction of the church as a sign of the Turkish leader's magnanimity towards local Christian communities, also to counter the controversy and criticism raised around the world by the reopening of Hagia Sofia to Islamic worship .
In recent years, the Turkish political leadership has repeatedly shown special signs of attention towards the Syriac Christian communities, so much so that observers and commentators have talked about the existence of a "Turkish plan" aimed at re-proposing Turkey as a new "homeland" for the many Syriac Christians residing in Syria and Europe, and whose ancestors were in Turkish territory . In the early years of the Syriac conflict, the Turkish authorities had set up a refugee camp for Syriac Christians in Mydiat , capable of hosting 4,000 refugees.
Currently, about 25 thousand Syriac Christians live in Turkey, mostly concentrated in the suburbs of Istanbul.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Two statues of Jesus and Mary damaged and disfigured in Andra Pradesh

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/09/2020 - 13:19
Mandapeta - Two statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary were disfigured and damaged in a Catholic parish of the archdiocese of Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh, a State of southern India. The two statues were placed at the entry to the complex of the church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Mandapeta. As reported to Fides, a group of unknown people damaged and burned them on 22 September. "It is a rather unpleasant incident, and a complaint was presented to the local police station", said Father R. P. V. Prasad, Secretary of the diocese to Fides, reporting that further police investigations are underway.
It should be noted that last week there were episodes of desecration of Hindu temples and there was the burning of the canopy carrying the main Hindu deity in the streets of the village.
According to investigators, the burning of two Catholic statues could be a sort of reprisal after the accident in the Hindu temple.
Father Joseph Arlagadda, deputy secretary of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Telugu observes to Fides: "These gestures are intended to disturb the peace in the district. One must not give in to provocations", inviting the Catholic faithful of the local parish of Mandapta, which has about 3000 baptized, to keep calm.
In India, there were 31 attacks on Christian places or Christians in August this year. Most of these attacks were reported in the states of Uttar Pradesh in Chhattisgarh, as reported by the website "MapViolence", run by the United Christian Forum , to report and monitor incidents of violence and hostility against the Christian community in India.
The organization reports that often, at the base of such violence, there is the spread of false news or tendentious propaganda: it is claimed, for example, that Christians are trying to convert Hindu faithful, even by offering money. Such news, artfully disseminated on social media, triggers violent reactions. "The Christian faithful are respectful of the law and have goodwill towards their fellow citizens", replies the UCF.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - A Nun to head Kenyan Bishops’ new national television

Fides EN - - Gio, 24/09/2020 - 13:02
Nairobi - A nun at the head of the project for the creation of the first national Catholic television in Kenya. Sister Agnes Lucy Lando, the director of Research and Postgraduate Studies at Kenya’s Daystar University, is the coordinator and lead consultant to assist the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Kenya to launch Ukweli Television Kenya. The Communications Authority of Kenya has recently issued a commercial free-to-air broadcast license to the new television station, whose motto is bringing "Christ to the people and people to Christ".
Speaking at Ukweli TV which is based at the National Youth Centre , Sister Lando congratulated the bishops’ conference and thanked the prelates for the appointment. She said she was grateful for the bishops’ confidence in her despite her other engagements at Daystar University, a non-Catholic institution. Sister Lando said the closure of Churches early in the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic influenced the establishment of the new TV station. "It was the desire of the Bishops to remain in touch with the Christians. They, therefore, requested that the establishment of Ukweli TV be accelerated so that it would be used as a tool for evangelisation and reach out Christians with messages of hope and encouragement".
"On behalf of the bishops, I am excited that finally, we have something to begin with. We thank the team in Nairobi for their commitment in helping acquire the broadcast license", said the President of the Social Communications Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Kenya, His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Obanyi Sagwe, Bishop of Kakamega, under whose leadership the Catholic TV project was realized. The Bishop noted that the Bishops are happy to finally have their own national television station.
Mgr. Obanyi said Ukweli TV would soon start transmitting programs and called on Christians across the dioceses to support the new TV and team appointed to run it. He commended Sister Lando for her commitment and acceptance in helping the bishops realize their dream.
Categorie: From the church