AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Covid-19: the Jesuits open a psychological support center

Fides EN - - 6 ore 37 min fa
Abidjan - Faced with the spread of coronavirus and its psychosocial impact on the population, Fr. Jean Messingue, specialist in clinical psychology and director of ITCJ, the theology institute of the Society of Jesus in Abidjan, in collaboration with Professor Médard Koua, director of the Bouaké psychiatric hospital, has opened a listening and telephone assistance center.
As reported to Fides, the Center "aims to strengthen the psychological support systems for people who feel the need to find adequate answers to their emotional suffering and the threats that the coronavirus poses to them", says Fr. Messingue.
Three phone lines are open 24 hours a day, after which two teams of volunteers try to provide the necessary assistance. One is made up of professionals from the Bouaké psychiatric hospital and the other by 25 students from Copac, the Center for professional advice and clinical pastoral care created by ITCJ.
"These students have already followed the certification course", assures Father Jean Messingue. "A preparatory phase has been carried out on psychosocial crisis intervention and each student carries out an oral test. Professor Koua and I coordinate and supervise telephone interventions".
The services are free and it is Copac and the Bouaké psychiatric hospital that assume the financial expenses necessary to start and implement the project. Given that telephone lines are not toll-free numbers, "unfortunately those who call must have sufficient credit to hold on average a 30-minute interview", said Fr. Messingue. Since its opening on March 23, the telephone psychological support center has received dozens of calls from people seeking psychological assistance.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Pope Francis re-launches the UN appeal: all conflicts should stop in the face of the pandemic

Fides EN - - 6 ore 43 min fa
Rome - The planetary emergency of the coronavirus pandemic, "which knows no borders", makes more urgent than ever a "global and immediate ceasefire in all corners of the world". This is the appeal launched by Pope Francis in particular to those responsible for the nations and parties involved in conflicts around the world, at the conclusion of the Angelus prayer on Sunday 29 March in the Library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
The Bishop of Rome referred to the appeal launched in recent days by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, inviting everyone "to follow it up by ceasing all forms of hostilities, encouraging the creation of corridors for humanitarian aid, openness to diplomacy, and attention to those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability. May the joint fight against the pandemic" the Pope hoped "bring everyone to recognize the great need to reinforce brotherly and sisterly bonds as members of one human family", and to take note that "conflicts are not resolved through war", and "antagonism and differences must be overcome through dialogue and a constructive search for peace".
According to Father Qaisar Feroz OFM cap, Executive Secretary of the Communications Office of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, Pope Francis' support for the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire represents the most suitable "compassionate response" to the present moment, and the war against Coronavirus should also erase "all political wars; cold wars, biological wars, economic wars. This is a time to save humanity, and I hope that also in Pakistan all opposition parties, including all Islamic groups, respect and support the United Nations' call for a global ceasefire by following the necessary measures taken by the Pakistani government, taking into account that over 25% of the population lives below poverty".
Even the Jesuit, Cedric Prakash, of the "Prashant" Center and Ahmedabad , hopes that the appeal re-launched by Pope Francis will not be ignored by world leaders". The ceasefire implored by Pope Francis – says Father Cedric Prakash to Agenzia Fides - is "the wisest thing to do right now", in order to ensure that "all hostilities everywhere cease immediately and without conditions, and that all men and women come together in a spirit of unity, harmony and tolerance, trying to win Covid 19 once and for all".
In recent days, António Guterres' appeal has been joined by the parties involved in different war scenarios around the world. In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces have said they are willing to suspend any military action in the north east of the country. In Yemen, devastated by five years of war, UN envoy Martin Griffith has announced "positive responses" from both the Houthi rebels and the governmental forces regarding a "humanitarian truce" to be put in place, to better combat the danger of the pandemic.
In Africa, the leaders of one of the main separatist militias operating in Cameroon gave their willingness to a two-week ceasefire, from March 29 to April 12, to promote pandemic prevention initiatives. A message of adhesion to Guterres' appeal was also expressed by the Communist Party of the Philippines, jointly with that of the government in Manila.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Fighting Covid-19: prayer, solidarity, hope

Fides EN - - 7 ore 23 min fa
New Delhi - Christian faithful in India are committed to serving the nation in this moment of crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. "In India, the lockdown of almost a month represents a challenge, on a social, economic and medical level. The situation is more serious for the poor, the homeless, the tribals, the Dalits and religious minority groups whose life, even in normal times, is difficult. At the moment, no specific guidelines or economic packages have been announced to guarantee survival", says the "Evangelical Fellowship of India" , an organization that brings together 65 thousand Christian communities across the Indian territory, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides. "Many migrant workers have been blocked in their workplaces. There is no transport home, no wages to buy food and no shelter", notes the organization, making an appeal to the authorities to "act with empathy".
Today the Christian community in India, it says, "takes on the responsibility of guiding the nation in hope and spiritual strength in the fight against the threats of covid-19. The coincidence of this crisis with the Lent season is an opportunity to unite forces with the authorities in this common struggle".
Yesterday, March 29, 2020, the faithful experienced a special day of prayer and fasting for India. "History tells us that the Church has been at the forefront of serving society during the pandemic. Alongside our prayers there is a commitment to be promoters of hope and to alleviate the suffering that surrounds us, both for material and psychological needs".
Many members of the Christian communities have "taken care" of the poor and needy in the communities: young people contact the elderly and people who need help, near their homes, helping them to get the necessary food and materials. Numerous Christian-run institutions such as schools, colleges, hostels, seminaries and churches in various cities are making the premises available as places of refuge for migrant workers or people in need, while all Christian hospitals and clinics are already offering a valuable contribution in the care of the sick. "We are confident that local city authorities will appreciate this help", notes EFI.
Also at food safety level, some Christian communities and associations intend to prepare food and pack it in disposable containers, distributing it to the homeless or needy people.
Finally, "the lockdown can also be a blessed moment for families, to strengthen the human and spiritual bond within each family", it says. "We welcome this time as a gift from God in the awareness that even if the building of worship is closed, the Church can never be closed: wherever we are, we are the Church of God", concludes the organization.
Evangelical Fellowship of India , founded in 1951, is the national alliance that includes over 54 Protestant denominations for a total of 65,000 communities spread across India, as well as 200 charitable missionary agencies and organizations.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - "The police are too brutal in applying coronavirus containment measures" denounce "Justice and Peace"

Fides EN - - 7 ore 36 min fa
Nairobi - "The actions by law enforcement officers yesterday across the Country especially in Mombasa are unacceptable. The brutal acts only adds more injury to the people who are already vulnerable, this further exposes the vast majority to the risk of spreading and contracting the virus, including security forces", reports the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops - Justice and Peace Commission in a press statement on government measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus.
"Justice and Peace" thanks the government "for all the measures it has taken which include; timely information to the public on preventive measures, closing of borders, making available isolation centres and the latest being the enforcement of curfew from dusk to dawn. But adds that it has learned "with disbelief, media reports of security officers’ brutality and harassment on members of the public in the enforcement of the Presidential directives". In particular "we witnessed with shock, as vulnerable members of the society such as women, children and also some critical actors such as journalists and food suppliers being equally harassed by security officers".
"We reiterate that Human dignity and sanctity of life is a value which must be upheld at all times. Let us be our Brothers’ and Sisters’ keeper and stand in solidarity with humanity as we strive to contain the spread of Covid-19", continues the statement sent to Fides.
"Coronavirus spread will only be defeated through collaboration and adherence to the required measures. Let us avoid blame games and concentrate more on what can enable us return to our daily routine in the shortest time possible. We continue praying that God may help us come out of this pandemic", concludes Justice and Peace.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - Missionaries multiply their efforts, but hunger will be more deadly than Covid 19

Fides EN - - 7 ore 50 min fa
Madrid - The health emergency following Covid-19 has now reached all continents. The Pontifical Mission Societies of Spain have collected the testimony of some missionaries who have doubled their commitment, worried about the consequences that the pandemic will have on many poor people who live on the streets or who eat only thanks to small daily jobs .
"With this situation due to the coronavirus, poverty has worsened, there is nothing to eat", explains missionary Domingo García Hospital, an OCSHA priest, from Peru. In Piura, where he lives, the vast majority of the population survives with daily informal work. In the parish women run five "common pots", in which they cook what they manage to collect, for all families. In Lurín, the Little Sisters of the Poor take care of 35 poor elders in a reception house. María Henar González stresses that the elderly are the population most at risk, and at the moment they are also isolated, following the indications of the government. "We live on alms - she explains -, the sisters usually go out to seek help. Now that we cannot go, let us fully trust in the Providence of God".
In Brazil, in the diocese of Bacabal, the diocesan priest of Getafe, Father Alberto Íñigo Ruano, through social networks joins in prayer with the people of his parish for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Rosary, the Mass. "Every week I go out with the Eucharistic Container in the streets of the city and communities - he says -. Families who want to receive the blessing come out to the front door with a burning candle in their hand".
In Chile another Spanish priest, Father Álvaro Chordi, ADSIS missionary in Santiago de Chile, promoted a campaign in the parish of San Saturnino to help immigrants and homeless people in these moments of quarantine. "Before the start of the quarantine, we distribute food for several days. In addition, the parish is open 4 hours a day so that the poor can use the toilets".
In Africa, in northern Chad, the Samburu tribe knows little about the virus. The Colombian-born missionary of Yarumal, Luis Carlos Fernández, is visiting all the communities to warn them and explain the importance of washing their hands. "Schools have closed and now the markets are closing. Hunger, which is what kills most people in the world, will be more deadly than the coronavirus", he explains.
In Cameroon, Xaverian missionary Navarro Ángel de la Victoria writes in his blog that although schools have closed, people continue their normal life, many because they ignore or do not believe in the seriousness of the virus, many others because they live on small daily jobs.
From Mozambique, the Somascan missionary Carlos Moratilla applied preventive measures in the house he runs where he welcomes street children and has joined the prayer of the whole Church: "We made a procession and a rosary with the statue of the Virgin of Fatima and we prayed for all those involved and affected by the disease"
The PMS of Spain invite everyone to live this time in a missionary way by offering on their website food for thought, reflection and entertainment for children and adults.

Link correlati :PMS website
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Covid-19: schools closed and Camillians are not allowed to leave, but "hope is not lost"

Fides EN - - 8 ore 5 min fa
Flores - "In Indonesia, cases of coronavirus are constantly growing, especially in the capital Jakarta. Fortunately, here on our island of Flores, so far we have only a few suspicious cases", writes Father Luigi Galvani, a Camillian missionary in Flores, to Agenzia Fides. "In recent days, however, the government has issued serious prevention rules for us too, by closing all schools, suspending liturgical celebrations, all group activities and inviting them to stay as much as possible at home. We too, therefore, like other institutions, are experiencing a period of quarantine... with gates closed and the ban on going out".
"It is not easy to keep our young seminarians locked inside without doing much - adds the priest - and for this reason we have given them kitchen, gardening and maintenance jobs. Of course there is time left for prayer with the recitation of the Rosary. These are the vitamins that make us feel more united and give hope in being able to see the end of this dramatic moment that is now affecting the whole world".
Regarding the Italian emergency Fr. Luigi says: "I returned to Flores about a month ago, just in time before the dramatic situation of the coronavirus broke out in Italy. I can imagine the suffering that is affecting hundreds or better thousands of families in seeing that the earthly life of their loved ones has ended. But we are lucky to think and believe that another life awaits us. Thank God I am in good health and I feel happy to have been able to return to continue my missionary commitment in this great Asian country which is still offering good vocational hopes. "Relating to this, good news for the Camillians: on March 12 there was the blessing and the laying of the first stone of the novitiate in Kupang on the island of Timor, "where we intend to develop other social and formation activities for young people in the near future".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - The Church complies with anti-covid-19 standards, while the government promotes gatherings of people

Fides EN - - 8 ore 24 min fa
Masaya - The Mayor of Granada organized a pilgrimage to the Jesús del Rescate sanctuary, despite the fact that the bishop had canceled it to avoid coronavirus infections. While the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has suspended masses or celebrates them with the least possible number of faithful, to prevent coronavirus infection, Daniel Ortega's government insists on not considering the global health crisis. By pretending normality, the Mayors ignored the indications of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference , organizing religious activities that the Church canceled to avoid crowding.
In Granada, Mgr. Jorge Solórzano, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization , canceled the Holy Week and Easter processions, and prohibited activities in all the churches of the diocese, but Mayor Julia Mena, organized and sponsored the pilgrimage of traditional carts to the Jesús del Rescate Sanctuary, in the Rivas department.
According to the note sent to Fides, this is not the first time that Mayors have replaced the authority of the Catholic Church. In 2018, in fact, the Mayor of Masaya, Orlando Noguera, celebrated the patronal feasts in honor of San Jerónimo, patron of that city .
Yesterday, Sunday 29 March, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua asked Catholic faithful from all over the country to abstain from the pilgrimage to the Jesús del Rescate Sanctuary in Popoyuapa, Rivas, to avoid covid-19 infection. "One should not act with a reckless and irrational faith", reads the CEN note on the coronavirus pandemic, despite Daniel Ortega’s regime continues to promote this manifestation of popular religious tradition.
"An authentic popular piety, a true treasure of our Catholic faith, with its precious religious and cultural manifestations, such as the annual pilgrimage of the faithful, should not ignore common sense, prudence and the use of reason or expose themselves to contagion and challenge the pandemic, with a reckless and irrational faith, or even worse by listening to the voice of the devil", say the Bishops.
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Young people of "The Economy of Francesco": "The international crisis due to coronavirus shows how everything is interconnected"

Fides EN - - 8 ore 38 min fa
Assisi - "We will not stop. The international crisis due to the coronavirus once again shows how everything is interconnected. In the light of this dramatic experience, the appointment you gave us appears even more urgent and prophetic": this is what the young participants at the international event "The Economy of Francesco" write in a message to the Pope. An event which was to take place from March 26 to 28, but postponed to November 21 due to the pandemic.
"On our behalf - the young people continue in the text sent to Fides by the press office of the Basilica of San Francesco -, we will multiply the commitment, integrate the themes, organize events and meetings in possible forms, involve other voices and sensitivities. Meeting will be even more beautiful, for us and for the world that now more than ever awaits a different economy, on a human scale".
The event will be attended by young scholars and economic operators from 115 nations.
In their letter to the Pope the young highlight the experiences they should have presented in response to his appeal: "You would have listened to our stories of change: Diego and his eco-village in Brazil, Samer from Lebanon who invented a platform for a job without barriers, Andrea a young economist with a "doctor's heart". And among others, you would have listened to the challenge of Myriam's micro-credit in Uganda, the Azera Turkan does research on the issues of gender inequality and Lilly, the very young Thai activist who fights against plastic. We would have listened to your words and then shared a pact together on the Tomb of St. Francis" .
Finally, they recall that today even The Economy of Francesco and the many people who are working on this process "are experiencing a period of sorrow and concern due to the world crisis", are looking forward to meeting on November 21 and say to the Pope: "we feel comforted that you will continue to accompany us in this journey with your presence and your prayer".
Categorie: From the church

NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - The "digital Church" in Asia amid coronavirus crisis

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:23
Manila - The coronavirus disease pandemic has affected more nations than the World Wars. The outbreak has impacted every aspect of life—family, social, business, governance, education, economy, religion, to name a few.
During the emergency, governments around the world have limited the movement of citizens to contain the infection by adopting "social distancing" measures. Consequently, in-person meetings, conferences, gathering, works and religious services have been canceled. In this unique time in the world, the Church authorizes around Asia, like in the Philippines, India, Japan, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and in many parts of the world to "stay home". People are directed to turn to technology to keep their faith in a time of crisis in this unprecedented moment as it is a great responsibility of all to help each other.
These turbulent times have paved a way for ‘digital or virtual church’ across the nations as extreme or enhanced community or self-quarantine are in place in many countries and all public Masses and other church services and programs are canceled. "This is a time to be united as one nation, lock in prayer and bow down on our knees to pray for one another": in this spirit, the Asian Churches have advised the faithful to attend church service through live "streaming" or Masses aired live on cable, local television networks, radio stations, online and social media.

Link correlati :Continue to read News Analysis in English on Omnis Terra website
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - The only Catholic church in Afghanistan closes for the Covid-19 emergency

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 13:05
Kabul - The Catholic chapel of the Italian Embassy in Kabul - the only Catholic church in Afghanistan - has suspended celebrations to respond to the containment measures of the coronavirus. This is what Father Giovanni Scalese, Barnabite priest, at the head of the Missio sui iuris in Afghanistan reports to Agenzia Fides. "At the end of February - says the priest in a note sent to Fides - I had sent a message regarding the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the covid-19 disease. Unfortunately, the virus has continued to spread. Although, thank God, the contagion in Afghanistan has not reached the levels of China or Italy, the experience of those countries suggests that the danger of the virus should not be underestimated. The spread of the first cases in Kabul led the Embassy authorities to close the compound. So, on Monday 23 March I celebrated the last mass with the nuns. Attendance at Sunday mass, however, had already decreased significantly in recent weeks, a sign that many have already returned to their country".
The Barnabite continues to personally celebrate the Eucharist in the church inside the Embassy: "I do not know if it will be possible for me to live the rites of Holy Week, because they require the participation of the faithful or, at least, of some ministers, but in any case, every time there will be the possibility of celebrating a Holy Mass, I will do it".
The exhortation of Fr. Scalese is to live this time accompanied by personal prayer: "I encourage everyone to live their own journey of faith by making use of the celebrations and moments of prayer spread through the media. I urge you to experience this period of trial in a spirit of penance and reconciliation. I invite you to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Holy Rosary for ourselves, for our loved ones, for the victims of the Coronavirus, for health workers and for civil authorities every day".
As of March 27, 80 infected people have been registered in Afghanistan, including two diplomats and four Italian soldiers. The country, which does not have adequate health facilities to respond to a possible crisis, also experiences a state of total political uncertainty, due to the dualism between elected president Ashraf Ghani and his opponent Abdullah Abdullah, both self-proclaimed winners in the last elections.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Appeal by Alianza Interreligiosa: Responsibility and solidarity in the face of the pandemic

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 12:54
Sao Paulo - "We ask all the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean, as some are already doing very effectively, to adopt responsibly and decisively the necessary measures to protect the lives of all people, mainly of the most vulnerable people, and make the maximum effort to combat this global public health pandemic". This is the appeal launched by the "Alianza Interreligiosa por la Agenda 2030", which is part of the Latin American Episcopal Council,released by Prensa Celam.
The text recognizes "the remarkable gestures of solidarity among the governments of the region" and encourages them "to strengthen regional organizations in order to face the challenges of this pandemic in the best and decisive way", hoping "that the scientific community will soon find the necessary medicines against the virus". They therefore call for strengthening the multilateral efforts of the United Nations "to face this crisis with global solidarity, overcoming the temptation of nationalist isolations".
The Alianza Interreligiosa por la Agenda 2030 was born in 2014 with the aim of coordinating the commitment of communities and religious organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean, to address issues such as justice, peace, the integrity of creation, discrimination, exclusion, poverty, in view of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals indicated by the United Nations.
In its message, sent to Fides, Alianza recognizes the considerable efforts of the medical and paramedical staff, of the police, of volunteers and solidarity organizations "who take care in particular of the very vulnerable populations, like families in extreme poverty, the elderly, indigenous people and migrants". They therefore ask "the governments of the region to guarantee the food and economic security of these populations, to preserve social rights, especially labor rights", so that the economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, does not have further serious repercussions on people in conditions of extreme poverty.
"There is no doubt that this is the moment when we must put our values of responsibility, brotherhood and solidarity into practice", they write in the final part, and in the same sense we must prepare to respond to possible scenarios after the pandemic, to ensure the livelihood of the most vulnerable, and certainly poorest, populations due to the containment measures of the virus.
The statement ends by inviting to promote a day of common prayer, in the various communities of faith, to ask Almighty God to put an end to this evil, and strengthen us "in our commitment to continue to face the fight against this pandemic with solidarity and commitment".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Comboni Missionaries: "We must strengthen an atmosphere of democracy and peace"

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 12:47
Awasa - "Ethiopia is making great strides, but still experiencing severe economic and social difficulties". This was reported to Agenzia Fides by Father Pedro Pablo Hernandez, a Comboni missionary of Mexican origin who has been working in the Apostolic Vicariate of Awasa for twenty years. In the past two years, with regards to the political field, the African nation has made a great turning point thanks to the election of Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed in 2018. "The Prime Minister - explains Father Pedro - was greeted with enthusiasm by the population for his kind and open way of establishing relationships. It was not easy for him to bring forth his plans, both for the great objective difficulties and for the strong internal opposition, but the situation has significantly improved, especially in the field of human rights, freedom of press and the democratic system. The Country is slowly recovering its own identity", observes the religious.
Despite the progress made, difficulties persist. "Today there is still an atmosphere of uncertainty and social instability", explains Fr. Hernandez. Moreover, over time, tensions of an ethnic nature have increased due to frictions between the various religious communities. "As a Catholic Church - notes the Comboni priest - we try to carry out an interreligious dialogue with other confessions to try to build true and lasting peace". In this area, the Comboni missionaries have been present for 35 years in the mountains of southeastern Ethiopia, among the Guyi, a group belonging to the Oromo ethnic group, the most numerous race in southeastern Ethiopia. "Here we find the small mission of Killenso - reports the missionary - from here two other missions were born, Soddu Abala and Haroo Waato, which are constantly growing".
In 2008, the religious community of Killenso, in line with the Institute's guidelines, decided to promote pastoral care in Adoola, the most important city in the region, 35 kilometers from the mission, where the Catholic Church was almost non-existent. "The invitation from families from different places around the city to open new pastoral centers and the inadequate living conditions of most of the students - reports Father Pedro - led us to carry out the following projects: obtain land at the center of the city, create a training program for new catechists for the construction of new communities and build a public library".
In fact, the result of this pastoral work is the presence of 16 new Christian communities in the area. The construction of a church in 2016 is the material expression of the formation work. As for the field of education, a library has been opened which has over 4,000 books and can accommodate up to 120 students.
Even in the economic field, difficulties continue. Drought and inflation plague the Country. Food shortage is very serious and although encouraging signs of development can be seen, the gap between rich and poor continues to increase, especially in rural areas: about 30% of Ethiopians live in conditions of extreme poverty. "In the whole Vicariate - reports the Comboni Missionary - there are shortages of schools, hospitals, clinics. The population still depends on humanitarian aid. Catholic secretariats of all dioceses do commendable work to meet the needs of the population". Parliamentary elections will take place in Ethiopia in August 2020: "We must rebuild and strengthen a climate of democracy and peace - concludes Fr. Hernandez - working alongside and with people, so that they become more and more protagonist of their future".
According to the most recent national census, Christians in Ethiopia represent 62.8% of the total population, with the largest group of them among the Ethiopian Orthodox , followed by Protestants and Catholics with just 0.7%. The remaining 33.9% are Muslim.

Link correlati :Watch the video interview with Fr. Pedro Hernandez on Agenzia Fides Youtube website
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Resignation of the Archbishop of Merauke

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 12:32
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Merauke, Indonesia, presented by Archbishop Nicolaus Adi Seputra, M.S.C.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/RWANDA - Covid-19: situation under control, but the problem of water scarcity remains

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 12:29
Kigali - "In just over a week, until yesterday evening, we have reached 40 infections due to COVID 19 in Rwanda", says to Agenzia Fides Omar Fiordalisio, representative of The Movement for the Fight against Hunger in the World in Rwanda. "The main problem here is washing your hands, often we do not have water especially in rural areas in the Country, where fortunately, however, the virus has not yet arrived, but also in Kigali".
"In the capital - continues Omar - there are infections, because of people who come from outside. We are in contact with the government so that NGOs follow the given guidelines. You cannot travel from district to district, you work from home, hospitals are active and with a task force ready to intervene in case of need. Specifically, the Movement had to stop the construction of the aqueduct".
"The aqueducts - he continues - bring clean water to many families and in these days one can see how important water is for our personal hygiene, so as not to contract diseases. For the moment everything seems quite under control. Everybody is at home, construction sites and many companies have closed, there is a lot of control on the streets. If the situation worsens it would be a catastrophe due to the precariousness of the local health systems". MLFM is an NGO born in Lodi, one of the places most affected by the virus in Italy, engaged for over 30 years in Rwanda in the construction of aqueducts.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA - Boko Haram hits hard in Nigeria, Chad and threatens northern Cameroon

Fides EN - - Sab, 28/03/2020 - 12:28
Abuja - In the midst of a coronavirus emergency that has also reached western Africa, the Countries of the region are confronted by the upsurge of Boko Haram which in a series of attacks between Nigeria and Chad has killed at least 150 soldiers in the last few days.
The most serious attack dates back to March 24 when at least 92 Chadian soldiers were killed in the most deadly attack to date ever carried out by Boko Haram terrorists, Boma peninsula in the Lac province, which borders Niger and Nigeria.
The assault lasted at least seven hours and the reinforcements sent to help were also hit. According to reports, 24 army vehicles were destroyed, including armored vehicles and Boko Haram's men took away the weapons stolen by the military.
The previous day, March 23, the jihadists had killed at least 50 Nigerian soldiers in an ambush near the village of Goneri in northern Yobe state.
Even in northern Cameroon on the border with Nigeria in recent months, hundreds of families have been forced to flee their homes due to the renewed violence of Boko Haram. Hidoua, Gochi, Mandaka, Tourou, Kolofata ... the list of places attacked since December 2019 continues to grow. On almost every occasion, fires, looting, kidnappings and murders by jihadists have been reported.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/MALI - Appointment of the Bishop of Mopti

Fides EN - - Ven, 27/03/2020 - 13:19
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed His Exc. Mgr. Jean-Baptiste Tiama, currently Bishop of Sikasso, as Bishop of the Diocese of Mopti .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/BANGLADESH - Cardinal D'Rozario: "Let us collaborate with the government to overcome the coronavirus pandemic"

Fides EN - - Ven, 27/03/2020 - 13:16
Dhaka - Being faithful collaborators of the government to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. This is what Cardinal Patrick D'Rozario, Archbishop of Dhaka has asked the faithful, who in a video message sent to Fides said: "Beloved faithful, we are facing outbreaks of coronavirus. Let us stay home and think about others. We are going through a difficult time. In this situation, a question may arise: why this coronavirus pandemic?".
The Cardinal, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh , says: "We are not just human beings. We believe in Christ. So, in the most difficult times, we try to be children of God. The government is giving us guidelines in this difficult coronavirus situation. I humbly ask all the faithful: let us follow the guidelines that the government and the Church give us".
The CBCB published a notice in the Catholic weekly "Pratibeshi", reiterating the necessary precautions and informing that Holy Week liturgies could take place online this year. Some parishes have already started offering mass on Facebook live. Priests celebrate in church, since the government has ordered not to gather in public.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said in a speech to the nation that the government was ready to face any "difficult situation" in view of the global coronavirus pandemic and asked all citizens to help control the coronavirus, following the guidelines given. Hasina reiterated the invitation to "stay home" and addressing every Bengali said: "Mindfulness and personal responsibility will protect you, your family and the people". Preventing the spread of the infection is now the "top priority", he explained
In Bangladesh, five people have died and 44 people have been infected. The government has urged the population to stay home until April 4th.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - The 4 activists of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient kidnapped in Baghdad on 20 January released

Fides EN - - Ven, 27/03/2020 - 12:44
Baghdad - French authorities on Thursday 26 March said four aid workers of French Christian non-governmental organization SOS Chrétiens d’Orient were released. The four were missing since January 20. The President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron - as we read in the text disclosed by the Elysée - «welcomes the release of our three nationals Antoine Brochon, Julien Dittmar, Alexandre Goodarzy and Iraqi Tariq Mattoka, all employees of the NGO SOS Chrétiens d 'Orient'. In the official statement, it is stressed that "the French authorities did everything in their power to get the four released and expressed its thanks to the Iraqi authorities for their help in this matter.
The SOS Chrétiens d'Orient Association, at the announcement of the release, also thanked the French and Iraqi authorities, and expressed its congratulations and thanks through its official channels, also "for the incredible movement of prayers and solidarity" following the news of the kidnapping.
The official statements issued by the Elysée and by the Association itself do not currently add details regarding the authors and the methods of the kidnapping, nor do they even report details about how the release took place.
The four militants of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient, as previously reported by Fides , disappeared on January 20. They were in Baghdad to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities. For security reasons and to protect the men’s safety, their names had not been made public. In a press release issued on social networks on Friday 24 January, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient reported that it had lost contact with its four employees since the previous Tuesday, and that it had reported the disappearance of the four to French and Iraqi authorities. The French NGO stressed that the four missing employees were experienced people and had always carried out their initiatives in full compliance with safety standards continuously updated to respond to new emerging pitfalls in that region.
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient has its headquarters in Paris, and presents itself as an organization dedicated to supporting the Christian communities of the East, also through the financing of social and educational projects. Currently, the organization is present with "permanent missions" operating in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. The founders of the association, formed in 2013, are Charles de Meyer and Benjamin Blanchard, former collaborator of the Front National Marie-Christine Arnautu MEP. The director of the Organization's initiatives, François-Xavier Gicquel, was also an old Front National militant. According to data reported in 2019 by Le Figaro étudiant, since the beginning of its activities the Association has sent about 1500 employees and volunteers to carry out their projects in the Middle East. In February 2017, the organization was recognized as a "national defense partner" by the French Ministry of Defense.
France had announced the withdrawal of its soldiers from Iraq on Wednesday 25 March, where several hundred French soldiers were participating in the training of Iraqi security forces, as part of the operations carried out by the US-led international anti-jihadist coalition. French authorities had motivated the withdrawal of French soldiers from Iraq with the need to concentrate resources and energies on the front of the emergency represented by the coronavirus pandemic.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - Covid-19: "What will happen will be catastrophic", testimony of a missionary

Fides EN - - Ven, 27/03/2020 - 12:15
Port au Prince - "It is enough to see what is happening on the street, what will happen will be catastrophic, since the population lives its day-to-day life and does not have the essential tools to deal with this virus"; these are the words of Redemptorist missionary Father Renold Antoine CSsR, regional Superior who lives in Haiti, in his letter sent to Fides.
"The evil that nobody wanted has arrived in the country . The state has already confirmed 8 positive people. Since March 19 the President has declared a state of health emergency across the country. At the same time, some decisions have been made to stop the spread of the virus, one of which is to close churches until further notice. The priests celebrate without faithful and we broadcast live through social networks", continues Father Renold, describing the reality of the country in the face of the first contagions of coronavirus. "Unfortunately this is only the beginning of something that, as we see in all countries, is involving the whole population and unfortunately there are many deaths. It is enough to see how the life of the population unfolds on the street, every day. There is no clean water nowhere to wash your hands as required, there is no electricity in the houses and there are not even hospitals. Many people live on the streets. As Redemptorists we offer our help not only spiritual, but also materially, by placing water tanks in some spaces so that people can at least wash their hands. We also share food with the poorest", continues Father Renold.
In the end he asks for a prayer for the missionaries and for the little ones: "May the Lord have mercy on the Country and its people because we do not have a health infrastructure to face a similar crisis!"
Haiti, the among the poorest countries in America, tackles the health emergency of coronavirus with very few resources. In fact, Haiti lives in a "permanent" health emergency, because there is no de facto national health system. The real health centers are the clinics of NGOs and the Church.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TOGO - Fight against coronavirus: follow government guidelines "for the good of all"

Fides EN - - Ven, 27/03/2020 - 11:55
Lomè - The Togolese government has closed schools, cities, borders and airports as preventive measures for the spread of Covid-19. The first case was confirmed at the beginning of March 2020. The response of the Bishops of the Country was immediate, giving precise indications to all the faithful. In a message sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops invite the entire population "to scrupulously follow the guidelines of the health authorities and the measures that will be taken to prevent and combat the Coronavirus" and appeal "to everyone's sense of responsibility and civilization for the good of all".
Catholic schools and universities, in compliance with government recommendations, have suspended all activities and closed their doors. Seminaries are closed until further notice. All masses are suspended while the first indications for Holy Week are: the Chrism Mass will be broadcast live on radio by the Catholic broadcaster in each diocese, and a delegation of 40 priests from the diaconates will concelebrate with the Bishop. The practice of giving the sacraments is temporarily suspended, except for the sacrament of confession in which the distance of one meter between the penitent and the priest will be respected. The Way of the Cross on Fridays of Lent takes place in families or in small groups of Christians, respecting the government's recommendations.

Categorie: From the church