NEWS ANALYSIS - Africa, Covid-19 has not stopped wars

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 13:00
Kinshasa - When, in the last week of March, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres first, and then Pope Francis, just when the pandemic was taking on frightening dimensions, launched a heartfelt appeal to proclaim a universal cease-fire, the world seemed to listen to them. In Syria, Cameroon, the Philippines, Yemen, Congo, for example, signs of détente emerged and, thanks also to the terror of contracting the virus, some armies or militias of the 70 wars that inflame the planet silenced their weapons. Those encouraging signs had no result. The Pope's invitation to take the dramatic opportunity to "suspend all forms of war hostility" and encourage openness "to diplomacy, attention to those in situations of vulnerability" remained in many regions of the world a "dead letter". Since mid-April, in most of the places that had at least partially ceased the fighting, shooting started again, in all the others, in reality, it never stopped.
More than three months later, the messages of the Pope and Guterres can be said to have gone unheeded. Agenzia Fides spoke with representatives of the Catholic Church of three Countries in which the conflict has raged for years and tried to understand what the situation is and the reasons behind a refusal to suspend - at least temporarily - the war. - continues

Link correlati :Continue to read news analysis on Omnis Terra website
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Farewell to Fr. Francis Nadeem, Capuchin friar engaged in interreligious dialogue

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 12:52
Lahore - "We have lost a wonderful priest and friar, who humbly served in his community, and also reached people of other faiths with the Christian message of peace and love. A priest who was known, appreciated and loved not only among Christians, but also among faithful of other religions": is what Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw said to Agenzia Fides, commemorating Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Provincial of the Capuchins in Pakistan, his confrere in the interreligious dialogue mission for over three decades. The friar, sick and dialysed, died in a hospital in Lahore after a heart attack on 3 July. The Archbishop thus remembers him: "He was full of ideas, always very creative in building bridges among people of different faiths. He was in communion and in excellent relationship with people of other faith, and he always worked to spread the message of peace and love, in the name of Christ, in all corners of the Country".
More than 2000 people were present at the funeral mass celebrated this morning, July 4, in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore. The celebration was presided over by Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore, while Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Bishop Indrias Rehmat of the Diocese of Faisalabad, and numerous priests concelebrated. Leaders of other Christian denominations and other religions, who came to give the last farewell to Fr. Nadeem, were also present.
Fr. Francis Nadeem was a tireless promoter of interreligious dialogue and ecumenism for over twenty years in Lahore. He was Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism and led the "Mariam Sadeeqa" Custody of Capuchin Friars in Pakistan since September 2014. In 2017 he had been chosen by the confreres for a second term as Custos, which was due to end in August 2020.
Born on October 27, 1955, he entered the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor at the age of 19. After his solemn profession in 1984 and theology studies, he was ordained a priest. Before being elected Custos, he held the position of vice-provincial for two consecutive terms .
"He was a point of reference for us. He worked for his community of Capuchin friars and Christians, but his soul was also addressed towards non-Christians to build and strengthen a spirit of interreligious dialogue", says to Fides Fr. Morris Jalal OFM Cap, his confrere and old fellow student. Fr Jalal notes: "He set a good example in all his works and responsibilities assigned to him, both in parishes, being a leader of the Capuchin community in Pakistan, and in the important mission of interreligious dialogue. We will carry his commitment in our heart and his mildness, especially in times of persecution".
"Following the example of Francis of Assisi, he gave his life for interreligious dialogue: his vision was to promote and strengthen peace and harmony in Pakistan. As a man of peace and dialogue, he inspired countless people who are actively working for the same cause in Pakistan today, to build a peace-loving society", adds Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFM Cap, Secretary of the Commission for Social Communications.
He also states: "This is the legacy he leaves us: he was a man of God, well focused on his evangelical mission, who always persevered in his ministry of interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, establishing excellent personal relationships with people of other religions".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - Corruption undermines the fight against Covid-19: the poorest pay the price

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 11:54
Nairobi - In Africa, 383,747 people are currently suffering from coronavirus, of whom 183 thousand are hospitalized in healthcare facilities, while the number of deaths has reached 9,691. In Kenya there are 6,190 cases and 144 deaths. The pandemic has increased slowly, but the effects on the population have been significant. This has led many international institutions, non-governmental organizations and individuals to support the Country's healthcare facilities, but the results are uncertain.
Of the billion Ksh donated by the World Bank to provide for personal protective equipment, medicines and to create isolation structures, it appears that 42 million Ksh were spent on the leasing of ambulances , 4 million Ksh for tea and snacks and 2 million Ksh for communication.
The work of the governors of the counties for inadequate expenses and misappropriation are under observation. In early May, four senior Kilifi County officials were arrested for tenders regarding the contract to build a Covid-19 center and for the maintainance of hospital equipment. The same governor of Bungoma County, Wycliffe Wangamati, is under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for speculation in the county on the prices of healthcare articles.
Then there is an investigation into the donation made by Chinese tycoon Jack Ma in the early days of the epidemic. Investigators have confirmed to the BBC that the investigation will be extended to all donations that have arrived in Kenya to combat the coronavirus. The hypothesis is that millions of dollars and large quantities of equipment have been stolen. Local media recently reported that $ 2 million worth of personal protective equipment donated by the Chinese government has disappeared. President Uhuru Kenyatta has promised that all donations to fight the virus will be thoroughly analyzed.
"In Kenya - explains a high-level official who prefers to remain anonymous - things happen and we don't talk about it. Money and goods donated to the sick disappear: they steal everything and you can't do anything and can't say anything. Few get rich".
Catholic bishops have urged the government to ensure that emergency funds for Covid-19 are aimed at fighting the pandemic and to bring the Country back to normal. In a statement in May the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya asked for clarity on the management of the funds donated to face the health emergency: "as a Church, we appreciate the different measures that have been adopted by the government to contain the spread of the pandemic in our Country. However, we are concerned about news regarding the misuse of some funds".
Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - Videoconference to present the report on the activities of the PMS in 2019

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 11:27
Madrid - The Pontifical Mission Societies of Spain have organized a virtual press conference to present their 2019 Activity Report, which will be held on Monday 6 July at 11.30 am via Zoom. As the note sent to Fides explains, the Report reflects the vast work of animation and missionary formation that the PMS carry out throughout the year, and which goes far beyond the main missionary gathering days, known by everyone: World Mission Day, Missionary Childhood Day, the Day of Native Vocations.
This 2019 edition of the report also includes the great missionary event celebrated in October 2019, the Extraordinary Missionary Month, announced by Pope Francis for the whole Church. The report also contains the latest statistics on Spanish missionaries and Spain's financial contribution to the PMS Universal Solidarity Fund in 2019, with which the Holy See supports the ordinary functioning of 1,111 mission territories. The videoconference will be attended by Don José Maria Calderon, National Director of the PMS in Spain; Manuel Diaz, at the head of missionary animation of the PMS in Pamplona; Salesian missionary Miguel Ángel Olaverri, Bishop of Pointe Noire, in the Republic of the Congo, who will comment on how the health crisis of Covid-19 is being lived.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Solomon Patrick Zaku

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 11:23
Vatican City - On February 27, 2020 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr Solomon Patrick Zaku, of the diocesan clergy of Maiduguri as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Nigeria, for a five-year period .
The new National Director was born on April 7, 1982 in Potiskum, Yobe State, and was ordained a priest on July 9, 2010. After attending St. Joseph Minor Seminary in Adamawa state, he studied philosophy at St. Thomas Major Seminary in Makurdi, and theology at St. Augustine major Seminary in Jos. He continued his studies at the "Floating Institute of Missiology" in Onitsha and the "Seminar and International Conference on Missionary Formation" in Rome. He has held various positions: parish priest, chaplain and deputy director of the diocesan PMS, Director of the PMS of the diocese of Maiduguri, national Coordinator of the PMS-Propagation of the Faith.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - "We cannot get used to crime and violence and be indifferent to death": the diocese in the face of the massacre of Irapuato

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 11:19
Guanajuato - "The greatest massacre of the six-year period", "Unacceptable crimes", "Yet another battle and terrible massacre", "One of the worst events in the history of Mexico", "Justice is urgently needed in Irapuato", "The government promises not to abandon Guanajuato"," 26 dead, a massacre in Irapuato", are just some of the headlines in Mexico after what happened on the afternoon of July 1st. Gunmen, about 8, burst into an unregistered drug rehabilitation centre in central Mexico and opened fire, killing at least 26 people.
The mayor and state governor agree in commenting that this is a gang fight over land ownership. The rehabilitation center is not managed by the authorities nor does it have legal permits: these are so-called "social" centers which are sometimes dance centers and sometimes voluntary recovery centers for young people with drug problems. In Irapuato alone there are about 200 centers, in suburban areas or houses occupied by these young people. According to those who live nearby, many are just local gangsters. Mexico has long had problems with rehab centres because most are privately run, underfunded and often commit abuses against recovering addicts.
"The Bishop of Irapuato, priests and the whole Christian community, regret and strongly condemn the violent acts", reads a statement from the diocese, sent to Fides. "The blood of a brother can never remain in silence or in oblivion, it invokes justice before God. We cannot get used to crime and violence and be indifferent to death".
The statement concludes by citing the Bishops of Mexico, who recall: "It is the obligation of the state to make effective the justice that implies the safety of citizens, the punishment of those who are guilty of violence and organized crime, without making exceptions in the application of the state of right. Corruption and impunity are a combination that goes hand in hand and continues to challenge us in Mexico. It is also an obligation for every Christian to build the foundations for peace and respect for life".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - From Prague to Kabul, a fundraiser for the needy, a sign of spiritual communion of the Church

Fides EN - - Sab, 04/07/2020 - 11:09
Kabul - A fundraiser which began in Prague reached the church of Kabul through the staff of the Czech embassy. This is the initiative carried out by the parish community of St. Gotthard, in Prague, led by the parish priest Fr. Milos Szabo, in support of the poor, destitute and most vulnerable Afghans. This is what Fr. Giovanni Scalese, Barnabite priest, at the head of the Missio sui iuris in Afghanistan reports in a note sent to Agenzia Fides: "In that parish, during the month of January, the faithful prayed for this Country and made a collection for the poor of our Mission. The result of the donations was entrusted to Czech diplomats in Kabul, but due to the rules for the containment of Covid-19, it was only possible to organize a meeting in June".
The donation was accepted by the Barnabite as a "sign of the spiritual communion of the Church": "When we recite the apostolic Creed, we affirm that we profess our faith in the communion of Saints. Generally, we give importance to this aspect especially on the feast of November 1st, but we often forget that the communion of saints unites all believing pilgrims on earth. Christian life can be compared to a pilgrimage, of course, but not an individual one: we walk towards God as a people, helping each other. The beautiful initiative of the parish of St. Gotthard is a good example of this communion".
The contact between the church of Prague and that of Kabul had occurred last October, with a letter sent by the Czech parish priest, which read: "We are a Roman Catholic parish in the Bubeneč district, which hosts diplomatic missions of many States in the Czech Republic. This gave us the inspiration to try to connect spiritually with the countries of the world. While representatives of international diplomacy work to facilitate cooperation and ensure that humanity lives in peace and security, we have decided to support this work through prayer. Each month we will pray for a specific country and its inhabitants regardless of their religion".
The Catholic presence in Afghanistan was admitted at the beginning of the twentieth century as simple spiritual assistance within the Italian Embassy in Kabul. In the Country, in fact, Islam is recognized as a State religion and conversion to other religions is seen as a crime of apostasy. In 2002, John Paul II established the "Missio sui iuris" in the Country. Today the Catholic mission continues to have a base in the diplomatic structure and is entrusted to the Barnabite father Giovanni Scalese. In addition, the Missionary Sisters of Charity and the "Pro Bambini of Kabul" inter-congregational association are operating in the Afghan capital.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/ZAMBIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Ndola

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 13:10
Vatican City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed His Exc. Mgr. Benjamin Phiri, currently titular Bishop of Nachingwea and Auxiliary of the Diocese of Chipata, as Bishop of the Diocese of Ndola .
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CONGO - Episcopal ordination and the taking possession of the diocese of Kinkala

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 13:08
Brazzaville - The episcopal ordination and the canonical taking of possession of His Exc. Mgr. Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga, new Bishop of Kinkala appointed on March 5 by Pope Francis to replace Archbishop Louis Portella Mbuyu, took place in the sign of protective measures against the coronavirus. .
According to local sources of Fides, the solemn ceremony was held on Sunday 28 June and was presided over by His Exc. Mgr. Louis Portella Mbuyu, first emeritus Bishop of Kinkala and principal consecrant. The Eucharist was concelebrated by His Exc. Francisco Escalante Molina, Apostolic Nuncio in Congo and Gabon,
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the faithful went to the municipal stadium in Kinkala. The low mobilization rate was justified by the limited number of people authorized to attend the event. The faithful came from Brazzaville, Madzia, Kinkala, from the surrounding villages and from the various dioceses of the Republic of the Congo, always in strict compliance with the mandatory use of the mask and the observation of distances to assist in the consecration of the new Bishop.
It was 11 o'clock when the procession reached the center of the football field where the mass altar was set up. The priests of all the dioceses of Congo did not want to miss this event with an extraordinary mobilization, each with their own mask.
At the end of the ceremony, Archbishop Louis Portella Mbuyu gave a speech in which he thanked the Holy Father for choosing a confrere who will enlarge the Congolese episcopate. His Exc. Mgr. Daniel Mizonzo, Bishop of Nkayi and President of the Congolese Episcopal Conference, delivered a very moving speech: "The ordination of a Bishop is always a happy and joyful event". "The new Bishop must create a climate of trust with his collaborators, with the lay faithful. The bishop's door must remain open to welcome collaborators. We are very happy to welcome you in the Episcopal Conference. We thank Archbishop Louis Portella Mbuyu for all the pastoral work carried out in this diocese and in the context of the Episcopal Conference of the Congo. And for all the services rendered and to be rendered to the Church of the Congo. I hope you can continue to follow the construction works of the Catholic University of Congo, within the diocese of Pointe-Noire".
Ildevert Mathurin Mouanga who chose as his episcopal motto: "Compete well for the faith" 1Tim, 6-12, reminded that "there are many challenges to face in our Country and in our Church and that everyone will have to get their hands dirty".
The Pool region, of which Kinkala is the capital, was the scene of a low-intensity war between the government and the militiamen of Frédéric Bintsamou, aka Pasteur Ntumi, a Protestant pastor who had given birth to the "Ninja" militias. A peace agreement was reached with the government in 2017, but tensions remain in the region.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - The PMS Fund for the Covid emergency has sent aid to the dioceses of Benin, Madagascar, Senegal

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 12:48
Vatican City - Benin recorded the first cases of Covid-19 in March and, as in other parts of the world, the pandemic caused profound changes on social, economic and health levels, with also psychological consequences, creating an atmosphere of anguish and fear. The government has taken the necessary measures to contain the pandemic, including the isolation and closure of places of worship and schools, prohibiting all activities and meetings. The Church has been committed from the first moment to being close to the sufferings of people and to try to respond to their needs. The prolonged critical situation has however used up the economic resources of dioceses and parishes, which asked for the help of the Emergency Fund established by Pope Francis at the Pontifical Mission Societies to support the Churches of mission countries facing the Covid-19 emergency . The aid sent to the dioceses will therefore allow them to continue their work of assistance and evangelization.
The Diocese of Abomey asked for help for the prevention and assistance activities of vulnerable children in diocesan centers, and of children and adults affected by the effects of Covid in the various pastoral sectors. The Diocese of Dassa Zoumé must provide for the sustenance of priests and pastoral workers, which the parishes took care of, but with the closure of the churches it is no longer possible to collect the offerings among the faithful. In addition, many people have been left without a job and Caritas are taking care of some elderly confined at home.
In the diocese of Djougou Catholic schools are a priority, as the parents of students are no longer able to pay school fees, being unable to meet even the basic needs of families. The diocese of Lokossa is a rural diocese, which even before the pandemic had no basic infrastructure, now the situation is even more serious. Among emergencies, teachers and school staff of Catholic schools have not received their salary for months, as the coffers of the diocese are empty.
The population of Natitingou received the first announcement of the Gospel in 1941, a population made up of farmers, breeders and small artisans, who live in precarious conditions. Priests and religious institutes that collaborate in evangelization are now deprived of sustenance.
In the diocese of N'Dali, the local Church provides food support, through the distribution of corn, rice, sorghum, and financial support for orphanages, the elderly, the poor and vulnerable children.
Support for seminaries and Catholic schools is of great urgency in the diocese of Parakou, while in Porto Novo priests and religious communities are in a difficult situation.
Also in Madagascar, in the diocese of Ambanja, aid from the PMS Fund is intended to support the school system. The environment is rural and young people leave school early as families lack the necessary financial means, so they fall into drugs and delinquency, many girls get pregnant at a very young age. The diocese has responded as it could to this situation by building several schools over the years, from kindergartens to high schools, to ensure an education for as many children as possible, but following the pandemic the situation of this school year is catastrophic: many have abandoned school and there is need to support pupils and teachers, who are unemployed.
The Archdiocese of Dakar, Senegal, has an essentially poor population, of low social level, made up of farmers, fishermen and workers. In almost all parishes there are educational and health structures that offer a fundamental service to the community. The consequences of the pandemic have been added to the adversities of the climate of previous years, thus making the situation increasingly difficult. There is therefore a need to support evangelization activities, teams of priests and catechists who continue their mission in this context, in addition to the two reception centers for children and the activities of spiritual and social reflection for children after the post-Covid period.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - Death sentence confirmed for one of the Coptic monks accused of the murder of Abbot Epiphanios

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 12:03
Cairo - The Supreme Court of Cassation of Egypt confirmed on Wednesday 1 July the sentence of death sentence pronounced in previous judicial proceedings against Wael Saad Tawadros, former Egyptian Orthodox Coptic monk convicted of the murder by Anba Epiphanios, the abbot killed on 29 July 2018 at St. Macarius Monastery, in the Wadi Natrun region. The Court of Cassation instead sentenced monk Falta'os al-Makari to life imprisonment as an accomplice in the same crime, canceling the death sentence previously also imposed on him by the Damanhur Criminal Court.
The two previous death sentences had been issued by the Damanhur Criminal Court on February 23, 2019, and on April 24, 2019 they had received the nihil obstat from the Mufti of Egypt, the Islamic religious authority in charge of issuing the fatwas on relevant issues. In Egypt, a death sentence cannot be considered final unless approved by the Mufti.
The first double sentence of death sentence was immediately defined as "a catastrophe" by Anba Agathon, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Maghagha. Bishop Agathon had immediately invited to pray for the two condemned.
The assassination of Bishop Epiphanios, abbot at St. Macarius Monastery, represented a real trauma for the entire Coptic community and in particular for the monastic environments. According to what was reconstructed during the investigations, disputes arose between the murdered abbot and the two condemned for economic issues and for several violations of the monastic rules by the two monks .
During the trial, the two accused continued to proclaim themselves innocent, and also retracted previous confessions of guilt which, they say, would were extorted through psychological pressure from the investigating bodies.
In the early hours of Sunday 29 July 2018, the body of Abbot Epiphanios was found by the monks lying in a pool of blood, inside the monastery, along the way that led from his cell to the church. It seems that the Bishop was hit on the head with a sharp, heavy object . The Abbot was 64 years old, a native of Tanta, a graduate in medicine, Anba Epiphanius had entered Saint Macarius the Great monastery, in 1984, and was ordained a priest in 2002.
Researcher and scholar, he had worked on the translation from Greek to Arabic of several books of the Bible. Anba Epiphanius lived intense relationships of spiritual communion with friends and monastic communities of the Catholic Church.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The bishops remember Blessed To Rot, second generation Christian, an example of persistence in these times of lockdown

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 11:37
Port Moresby - The 61st Annual General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands ended yesterday, 2 July 2020.
About 50 people took part in the celebration, including 17 bishops, 2 administrators, CBC staff, men and women religious and lay faithful.
The Mass was presided over by the Archbishop of Madang, Mgr. Anton Bal, who is also the newly elected president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of PNGSI. Card. John Ribat, MSC, new Archbishop of Rabaul, Mgr. Rochus Tatamai, MSC, and the Bishop of the diocese of Bereina, Mgr. Otto Separy new vice president of the PNGSI CBC were also present.
The Eucharist was dedicated to the life of Blessed Peter ToRot on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his beatification and 75th of his martyrdom, brought to support the holiness of the laity, theme of the General Assembly .
The homily was delivered by Archbishop Tatamai, a close descendant of the Blessed's family, who highlighted ToRot's life, testimony and example as a man of courage and fortitude in faith, as well as determination to follow Jesus Christ with his life until his death. In his homily, the Archbishop recalled Blessed ToRot from the moment his parents became first generation Christians when the missionaries landed on the island of Matupit in 1882. ToRot was a second generation Christian who followed in the footsteps of his parents. He was a family man, catechist, teacher and died a martyr in defense of his Christian faith, after working hard with discipline and obedience to become a good teacher and catechist. When he married he lived a married and family life according to the teachings of the Gospel. He defended the values of marriage and resisted the traditional culture of polygamy and the laws of the Japanese imperial army, and died supporting his faith. ToRot left behind many great examples of obedience, exemplary family life, he was an excellent teacher, catechist, man of prayer, respect and faith. He lived and represented his faith even when some members of his family betrayed him. Lay people in particular are challenged to continue his example especially in the difficult and uncertain times of today. In fact, ToRot was born in a period of lockdown during the Second World War, where even then restrictions on the activities of the Church persisted, but he persevered in his pastoral work of teaching and catechesis. Archbishop Tatamai therefore urged all those present to be persistent and continue to grow in faith in this period of lockdown caused by Covid-19 following in the footsteps of their compatriot.
At the end of the Assembly, CBC staff paid tribute and greeted Archbishop Emeritus Francisco Panfilo, SDB, who took part in his last AGM of bishops having reached the age limit.
Described as the voice of the voiceless and a beacon of hope for the small people he was thanked for his leadership as a servant to the people of Alotau-Sideia, Rabaul and PNG.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA - Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico: together to involve sick missionaries in their mission projects

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 11:21
Caracas - On Wednesday 8 July, the leaders of the missionary and elderly sick groups from Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico will have a virtual meeting to share the work they will do during the confinement due to the pandemic.
The national network of sick and elderly missionaries in Colombia, and the EMU in Mexico, together with the missionary group of the sick and elderly in Venezuela, have agreed to work together on their mission projects during the second half of this year, according to a note sent to Fides by the PMS of Venezuela. The objective they propose is to devise pastoral planning according to reality.
For its part, AMDEAM, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, published a thanksgiving letter to the diocesan Mission Directors for all the contributions made during this celebration. In Latin America, work with the sick has taken on a missionary dimension thanks to the hard effort of the Pontifical Mission Societies in this continent. It can be said that in every Latin American country there is a large number of sick missionaries who have created a movement within the PMS to continue their work of evangelization even during illness.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Assembly of the Episcopal Conference, in a virtual way but with an analysis of the reality of Venezuela

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 11:16
Caracas - On this occasion, the Venezuelan Episcopate will meet virtually, thus respecting the prevention measures established for the Covid-19 pandemic. The ordinary plenary Assembly of the CEV number CXIV will therefore be held virtually from 7 to 10 July. On Tuesday 7 July, at 9 am, the Assembly will open with an adoration of the Blessed Sacrament led by Mgr. Mario Moronta, First Vice President of CEV.
The opening of the works will be entrusted to the President of CEV, Mgr. José Luis Azuaje Ayala, who from Maracaibo will present a vision of the national and ecclesial panorama, as the note of the CEV press office sent to Fides informs. As usual, there will be the greetings on behalf of Archbishop Mgr. Aldo Giordano, apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela.
Among the topics that will be developed: the pastoral challenges posed to the Church in Venezuela by the Covid-19 pandemic, the sharing of concrete actions according to Pope Francis's "Plan to rise again" and the challenges that the reality of Venezuela presents today. Also on the agenda there is the preparation for the beatification of Venerable "Dr. José Gregorio Hernández".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic: National Catholic Radio stops broadcasting

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 11:06
Abidjan - The institutions of the Catholic Church in Ivory Coast are not immune to the economic consequences caused by the coronavirus pandemic, as in the case of the Catholic Radio, defined as "The Voice of the Gospel", forced to suspend broadcasting.
"The financial situation of the radio requires decisions to be made about its future. Therefore, in compliance with what the State requires, the suspension of work, without pay was bitternly opted", announced on June 30, Fr Augustin Obrou, National Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for social media communications to the staff of the National Catholic Radio during a meeting held on the premises of the broadcaster. The staff of the radio, about thirty people, will not be abandoned and will enjoy a social plan: the general management has started a fundraising campaign. "The goal is to get the financial resources to be distributed equally to each employee", added the National Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for media.
If the resources collected are sufficient - this is the hope - the broadcaster will be able to resume.
RNC, the National Catholic Radio of Ivory Coast, was established on February 2, 2001 and was officially inaugurated by the Bishops' Conference of Ivory Coast on June 24, 2006. It broadcasts 24 hours a day. It presents itself as a missionary tool, at the service of evangelization and human promotion.
In Ivory Coast 9,702 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have so far been recorded, of whom 4,381 have recovered, while 68 have died.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Fervent charity initiatives in the Church of Bombay in times of pandemic

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 10:54
Mumbai - The charitable commitment of the Catholic communities of the archdiocese of Bombay is remarkable, which began with the lockdown imposed by the government to contain Covid-19 and which still continues, to meet the needs of the poorest and derelicts, whose social or work situation has worsened in times of pandemic.
As Fides learns, among the many activities organized in favor of the poorest, most destitute or vulnerable, there is the "Manna on Weels" program . Organized by the church of St. Peter, in the Bandra area, it is animated by parishioners who help meet the needs of people who suffer from hunger and live on the street in Bandra West, including numerous children. Launched by a Catholic married couple with Jesuit father Gerard Rodricks. The program started with the distribution of 25 lunch-boxes on March 30th and still continues. The program quickly grew with the involvement of other volunteers, in particular young people from the church of St. Peter, and people from other religious communities, and it became a procession of 14 cars that delivers 1,850 parcels of food every day. Overall, over 40,000 meals have been distributed, helping to meet the nutritional needs of migrant workers, the homeless and others in need, also thanks to over 200 donors who made a contribution of over 50 thousand US dollars.
"It is an initiative born to give a testimony of faith, hope and charity. And when we launched a request for funds, we did not imagine that much money would come. I think this activity was inspired by God. The project is a testimony of teamwork and service, carried out with love and mercy, following the example of Christ", Richard Pereira tells Fides.
Similarly, another church, the parish of the Holy Magi of Gorai-Culvem, is reaching out to farmers and fishermen in economic difficulty. Gorai and Culvem are places located near the Arabian Sea, surrounded by vegetation, fields and mountains, where communities of farmers and fishermen live. "Covid-19 has had an impact on people's social, psychological and mental health. The most affected are migrants, domestic workers, wage workers, small fishermen who have also had problems with survival. In the midst of the crisis, the parish of the Holy Magi saw the difficulty and tried to give an answer", explains Father Edward Jacinto, parish priest of the church to Fides. Community volunteers provide food and supplies to people of other faiths, tribals, migrants, widows and other people in need with the cooperation of local governments and other civil society organizations. For over three months, about 80 young Catholics, women and men, have been patrolling the area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have established an efficient solidarity network.
"Several parishes, associations, movements of the local Church are feeding the hungry" says Don Mario Mendes, director of the "Center for social action", organization of the archdiocese of Bombay that deals with social development. "Many associative realities and many Catholic faithful are showing genuine courage and compassion. This spontaneously born charity, which is doing good for thousands of people who would otherwise be abandoned, is one of the most beautiful and encouraging aspects in this time of pandemic and social distancing. The love of Christ goes beyond every barrier and reaches every man. This is the testimony that the Catholic Church in India offers today", concludes Don Mendes.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Manila priests oppose anti-terrorism law

Fides EN - - Ven, 03/07/2020 - 10:34
Manila - The anti-terrorism bill has "vague, amorphous and deleterious" provisions that will only do more harm than good to the people. The bill very clearly and concretely derogates from some established legal principles that are aimed at protecting fundamental human rights. With these observations, the priests of the Archdiocese of Manila openly share the appeal of several civil society groups who, alarmed by the possible consequences, have invited President Rodrigo Duterte not to sign the anti-terrorism law, approved at the beginning of June 2020.
In a joint statement by the Manila clergy, sent to Fides, it states: "One’s freedom of expression, rights to privacy, property, ownership, and freedom of movement are not anymore guaranteed under this bill as it allows spying, confiscation of properties, and detention beyond the legally allowable time". "This bill - continues the statement - gives draconian powers to State agents, which, as history will tell us, are almost always abused and mis-used", also because the text of the law contains "ambiguous and expansive provisions" which are also left open to arbitrary and whimsical interpretations.
"Even legitimate dissent or criticisms, which are signs of a healthy and working democracy, may be misconstrued as inciting to commit a terror act. Weaponizing this measure to silence critics and detractors will give this government a free-pass even for its inefficiency, ineptness, and abuses", say the priests.
The Manila clergy therefore claim to be against the bill that "as it is contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of man, and to the teachings of the Gospel". The state must guarantee security "within the bounds of existing democratic principles and processes". "The government should not make as an excuse the upholding of national security while undermining human rights and civil liberties. To do so makes the government terrorism against its own people", reads the statement.
The staement of the priests of the archdiocese echoed the arguments of the former associate judge of the Supreme Court, Antonio Carpio, who promised to contest the constitutionality of the new anti-terrorism law if the President signs it, decreeing its entry into force. In recent days, Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo of the Secretariat for Social Action in the Catholic Bishops' Conference has also invited the Supreme Court to examine the "constitutionality" of the bill because "it endangers the rights of the Filipinos", he said.
The country's largest Catholic schools and institutions have urged the president not to sign it. The Vincentian Family, which brings together 14 religious, male and female congregations and lay organizations, which recognize themselves in the charism of St. Vincent de Paul, has publicly criticized the bill.
Human rights activists, Catholic leaders, lawyers, academics, priests and religious have opposed the controversial new anti-terrorism law. The Philippine Congress passed the counterterrorism law on June 3, 2020, with 173 legislators voting in favor, 31 against and 29 abstentions. Now only the signature of President Duterte is needed to make it become law in all respects: an apparent formality, since his government was the promoter of the text of the law.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/TURKEY - The Council of State puts the future of Ayasofya in the hands of Erdogan

Fides EN - - Gio, 02/07/2020 - 12:27
Istanbul - The current status of Ayasofya as a museum complex not used for religious worship fully corresponds to the current legal framework, founded on the decision of 1934 with which the Turkish government at the time turned the ancient Christian basilica into a museum which was used as a mosque. To change this state of affairs, a presidential decree is sufficient to declare the provisions on Ayasofya in force for less than 86 years has expired. This is a summary of the sense of the expected pronouncement, on Thursday 2 July, by the Turkish Council of State on the possibility - strongly sponsored by political sectors today dominant in Turkey - to reuse Ayasofya as an Islamic place of worship. The session of the Council of State called to express itself on this delicate and thorny affair with a strong geopolitical impact - local sources report to Agenzia Fides - lasted less than half an hour, and seems to leave in fact in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the responsibility to change the current status quo, converting Ayasofya back to a mosque. The members of the Council of State, in their brief session, confirmed the persisting validity of the previous pronouncement with which the same body had already rejected the appealpresented in 2004 by the so-called "Turkish Union of Historical Monuments" to ask to open Ayasofya to gatherings of Muslim prayers. At the same time, the Council of State acknowledged that a direct intervention by Erdogan on the controversial issue, through an ad hoc presidential decree, can change the current state of affairs and legitimize the reuse of Ayasofya as an Islamic place of worship. It will take at least fifteen days for the publication of the pronouncement of the Turkish Council of State and its reasons.
The Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia was transformed into a mosque after the fall of Constantinople, and then became a museum in 1935, at the behest of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, first Turkish President and founder of modern Turkey. In recent years, at the end of May, gatherings of thousands of people had filled the vast square outside the site to celebrate the anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of the city and request its reopening as a mosque. The authoritative intervention of the Turkish Council of State was expected as a useful signal for deciphering whether in the near future the pressures put in place by these Turkish political and social sectors, which in recent times seem to have found increasing attention and support, also on behalf of Erdogan. According to reconstructions also reported by Agenzia Fides , the Turkish President himself has apparently given instructions to change the status of the monumental complex of Ayasofya, so that it can also be used again as an Islamic place of worship. The whole issue also takes on obvious geopolitical connotations: on Wednesday 1 July, according to news from numerous international agencies, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allegedly asked Erdogan not to transform Ayasofya into a mosque, so as not to compromise the historical value of the monument. On June 30, during the homily of the divine liturgy dedicated to the Holy Apostles , Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, stressed with alarmed tones that the possible conversion of the monumental complex of Ayasofya into a mosque in Istanbul "will push millions of Christians around the world against Islam".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - "The government coalition has lost its raison d'etre": harsh stance by Cardinal Ambongo

Fides EN - - Gio, 02/07/2020 - 11:59
Kinshasa - "A quick glance at the past sixty years shows that this dream of redeeming the Congolese from colonialism has been progressively destroyed by a series of events", said His Eminence Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, Archbishop of Kinshasa, during the Mass homily to celebrate the 60 years of independence of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"We have known a succession of autocratic regimes that rise to power like colonists without any concern for the will of the people and this continues to this day: by force, wars or shrewdness, fraud and the installation of a selfish system in the management of public affairs instead of promoting the common well-being of the Congolese people to whom they believe they should not be accountable because it is not thanks to him/her that they came to power", accused the Cardinal.
The lack of democratic power translates into a general impoverishment of the population of a country endowed with immense natural resources. "60 years after their adhesion to international sovereignty, the Congolese people continue to be impoverished to the point of being classified today among the poorest peoples of the earth", says Cardinal Ambongo.
During the homily, the Cardinal denounced the depredation of DRC resources by bordering Countries with the complicity of Congolese politicians, soldiers and officials. In particular, he recalled the east of the Country, "the situation in Ituri, with the insecurity managed by some officials of Kinshasa; the situation in Beni-Butembo, with the ADF-NALU which is still there. How can we explain that an entire army of a Country like Congo is unable to remove a few people who are in the bush of Beni?", asks the Cardinal referring to the jihadist guerrilla group of Ugandan origin who for years has been sowing death and destruction in this area.
The Cardinal also recalled "the situation in South Kivu, in the diocese of Uvira, near Minembwe, where the armies of neighboring countries, Rwanda and Burundi, are there to challenge us. And the situation in Tanganyika: even Zambia, which until now has been considered a friendly Country, dares to occupy our territory". "The truth is that Congo, which has 9 neighbors, are all present in our Country: either with their armies, in most cases; or with their immigrants. We know that the employment policy of our Country is hidden behind immigrants. This is the case in the far north, with refugees from the Central African Republic and Mbororo shepherds", the Cardinal accuses. "As for the stripping of its natural resources, this takes place in broad daylight, with the complicity of some Congolese, without the population being able to really benefit from it".
"What have you done with your Country? What have you done with all this wealth, all this potential that I have given you free of charge", underlines Cardinal Ambongo according to whom rivalries within the government coalition risk "dragging the whole Country into total chaos". Therefore according to the Cardinal "the ruling coalition has lost its raison d'etre and should disappear. It is the responsibility of those who formed it, the President abs outgoing President, to break this coalition that conditions the development of our country".
Cardinal Ambongo's harsh stance accentuates the differences between the main religious denominations and the government of Kinshasa for the reform of justice and that of the Independent National Electoral Commission .
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - A Christian has died in hospital, victim of an attack due to religious hostility

Fides EN - - Gio, 02/07/2020 - 10:52
Peshawar - "It is very sad and tragic news; first of all we ask for justice for Nadeem Joseph and his family. Everyone has the right to buy property in Pakistan. This incident is a clear violation of human rights, it is an act against the law and cannot go unpunished. In addition, it should be noted with concern that similar episodes of attacks on the most vulnerable communities are on the rise: the government must take them seriously. "This is how Christian human rights activist Sabir Michael, comments the story of Nadeem Joseph to Agenzia Fides, a Christian attacked for buying a house in a Muslim-majority area in Peshawar. As Fides learns, the man died on June 29 after undergoing five surgeries following gunshot wounds. On June 4, 2020, his attackers, Muslim men who believed Christians "unwanted", shot him in the stomach, seriously injuring him .
Khalid Shahzad, another activist in continuous contact with Nadeem Joseph’s family, speaking with Fides said: "It is a very sad and alarming story for the entire Christian community; now the culprits need to face a murder trial. Nadeem's family is in pain and lives in terror after this attack. The family is grateful to all those who have offered help and assistance for Nadeem Joseph's care and legal issues".
Christian Samson Salamat, president of the "Rwadari Tehreek Pakistan" civil society organization , committed to peace, pluralism and interreligious harmony, told Fides: "This attack against Joseph Nadeem is the worst form of discrimination and persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan. A question arises: who will be able to protect and save the lives of human beings who are members of religious minorities in Pakistan?".
Nadeem Joseph had purchased a house in an area of Muslim majority in Peshawar, and his Muslim neighbors began to show dissent because a Christian family lived in their street, considering them unworthy and unwanted. They first threatened Nadeem's family by ordering family members to leave their home within 24 hours. When Nadeem called the police, before they arrived, they started hitting him and then opened fire on him and his family and fled once the police arrived.

Categorie: From the church