AFRICA/CAMEROON - Six students die in attack: "Today is the darkest and saddest day for Kumba"

Fides EN - - 5 horas 2 minutos atrás
Yaoundé - "Today is the darkest and saddest day in Kumba since the socio-political crisis in the North West and South West, which began in 2016 and led to the war", said His Exc. Mgr. Agapitus Nfon, Bishop of Kumba, in the south-west of Cameroon, who denounced the killing of at least 6 students aged between 9 and 12.
The massacre was committed on Saturday 24 October at the college of Madre Francisca International Bilingual Academy, when around 11.30 am a group of unidentified attackers broke into the college courtyard before opening fire on the students who were in class.
"What was their fault? Is it to study?" the Bishop asks himself. "How long will the competent authorities look the other way? Will our children have to die again before they take action?"
"Because of this barbaric act, the people of Kumba are in tears and the whole diocese is in mourning, our hearts are broken because our innocent children are no longer there", says the Bishop, who calls on the Cameroonian government and the international community to end the killings of civilians in the English-speaking part of Cameroon. Archbishop Agapitus Nfon announced that the funeral of the victims will be held on October 30 in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Kumba. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the killings, but the government and the region's separatists are accusing each other.
The attack on the school has been condemned across the country and the hashtag #EndAnglophoneCrisis is intended to raise awareness on social media. The inhabitants of Kumba organized a protest march across the city to show solidarity with the victims of the attack. For its part, the government condemned the killings, saying it was "shocked and deeply outraged" and promised to identify the perpetrators.
In the two English-speaking provinces, the conflict has been ongoing since 2016, when President Paul Biya proclaimed that he wanted to move French-speaking teachers to English-speaking schools. This measure was the spark that led to a very violent clash between the authorities and the militias fighting for the independence of the English-speaking provinces.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Young people are tired of police abuses and corruption" say the Bishops as protests continue

Fides EN - - 5 horas 14 minutos atrás
Abuja - "Young people are tired of the brutality and injustices perpetrated by members of SARS and, more generally, the police forces", say the Bishops of Nigeria in a statement, expressing their support for the protests of young people against the violence of the police and aimed at demanding more social justice .
The Bishops, however, invite the demonstrators to remain within the boundaries of peaceful protest and not to give in to provocations: "We support young people who protest and we warn that they are authorized to exercise their right to peaceful demonstrations without any intimidation, but they must not give in to provocations or to incitement to violence".
The Redemptorist missionaries, who have many missions in Nigeria, also sent a message to the Nigerian faithful signed by Fr. Michael Brehl, Vice Provincial for Nigeria, in which they affirm that "they cannot be silent in the face of this injustice and violence. These events cry out to God for justice and hope. As we accompany the young people of Nigeria and their families, we pray that through peaceful and non-violent protest a real change is possible", says the message sent to Fides.
After yesterday's Angelus, Sunday October 25, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the situation in Nigeria: " I am following with particular concern the news coming from Nigeria, regarding the violent clashes that have recently occurred between law enforcement and several young protesters. Let us pray to the Lord that any form of violence may always be avoided, in the constant search for social harmony through the promotion of justice and the common good. The protests began on October 7, after the extrajudicial killing of another Nigerian youth by the special armed robbery unit , which was caught on video and quickly went viral on Nigerian socithe subject of a video that quickly went viral on Nigerian social networks. The SARS police unit has become famous for illegal arrests, torture, extortion, sexual violence and killing of young Nigerians. The unit is alleged to operating secret torture camps and detention facilities.
Protesters using the hashtag #EndSARS took to the streets, demanding that the special unit be disbanded and the police reformed, but also that those responsible for the summary executions of unarmed Nigerians be prosecuted and that the families of the victims be compensated. However, protesters' demands quickly widened to broad criticism of government corruption, incompetence and impunity as human rights violations continue and economic malaise reigns in Nigeria.
Lagos, a city of over 20 million people, the largest in Africa and the commercial heart of Nigeria, quickly became the epicenter of the protests, but protesters occupied major cities across the country. Government buildings, airport entrances, main roads and bridges have been closed.
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/MALAYSIA - Youth night of prayer for health workers and victims of Covid-19

Fides EN - - 5 horas 33 minutos atrás
Sabah - Offer full empathy and solidarity and all the material, human and spiritual support to doctors, operators and health professionals who are at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the alarming increase in the number of positive cases the virus generates concern in Malaysian society and local lockdowns continue: this is the objective of the initiative of young Catholics of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah, on the island of Borneo. As Fides learns, young people wanted to express their closeness and solidarity to the doctors, put to the test in this difficult situation, giving voice to the fears and uncertainties for the future of the state of Sabah. The idea of a night prayer was launched by Fr. Paul Lo, parish priest of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, worried about the conditions of the population.
The young people, summoned by the priest, embraced the initiative and, taking advantage of the month of October, traditionally dedicated by the Church to the mission, they wanted, as part of the night prayer organized in recent days, to invoke protection together, by remaining in prayer all night, for all health workers and for all those who have been affected by Covid-19.
The missionary vigil, broadcast live on social media, attracted more than 10,000 views. The organizers invited two Catholic doctors to share their experiences as they face this pandemic. The two doctors offered their testimonies, encouraging everyone to follow government health protocols and to continue to pray.
Jennifer, a young participant, shared her reflection, saying: "When can we go out again? When can we go to Mass again? The coronavirus is revealing our fears: the fear of loss, death, uncertainty, insecurity. Is there still hope?".
In the context of this tragic situation, everyone remembered the words of Pope Francis, according to whom "we must cry out to the Lord and remember that the only source of salvation and consolation is God, and not human work".
Fr. Paul Lo read a passage from the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia language and in Mandarin, followed by a a 10-minute silence, and the recitation of the Rosary by the young people.
Special prayers have been raised for doctors, for those who have contracted the virus, for all families, for priests and for all Catholics so that they can continue on their path of holiness in this difficult time. "Even if we may feel powerless and discouraged by everything that is happening - the priest remarked to Fides - we must continue to pray because it is our only weapon at the moment. We must continue to hope in Jesus".
Categorias: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - Scalabrinian Missionaries: 125 years at the service of migrants, a very current charism

Fides EN - - 6 horas 50 segundos atrás
Piacenza - The Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo, also known as "Scalabrinians", are celebrating their 125th anniversary. Since that 25 October 1895 they have been the "migrant nuns". "This will be a special Jubilee this year, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic", underlines the note sent to Agenzia Fides by the General Curia of the religious. For this reason, the missionary communities present in 27 countries of the world have organized themselves through online events and moments of meditation and prayer. The initiatives started from Piacenza, where yesterday, Sunday 25 October, a Eucharistic celebration was held in the Cathedral presided over by Mgr. Luigi Chiesa, Adriano Cevolotto, vicar of the Bishop of Piacenza, in the same place where the mortal remains of the founder are kept, Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini.
On 25 October 125 years ago, in the presence of the co-founder, Venerable Father Giuseppe Marchetti, four pioneer nuns, Blessed Mother Assunta Marchetti Carolina Marchetti, Angela Larini and Maria Franceschini, professed their first vows. "The appeal that Pope Francis addressed to us still echoes strongly in our hearts, saying 'I encourage you to put your charism ever more at the service of the Church', an expression that nourishes historical memory, not only remaining in this celebration, but living in the heart of migrations, 'not only as a memory of the past, but as a prophecy for the future', paying attention to the challenges of our time, following Jesus Christ, 'always on the way' towards migrants and refugees"- affirmed Sister Neusa de Fatima Mariano, Superior General of the Scalabrinians -."In the grace of this jubilee time, we want to continue the path confirmed in faith and hope, walking humbly with our God".
"The face of Jesus Christ is present in the many migrants who, in the world, flee or take refuge. It is a suffering face, but full of hope - continues Sister Neusa - Scalabrinian women have always welcomed with open arms, in the deep spirit of this Jesus who always asked to open hearts and to look at the world with pure eyes. We have been doing this for 125 years and we will continue to do so, with the same passion as our first sisters, in obedience to the evangelical mandate - I was a stranger and you welcomed me" .
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/FRENCH GUYANA - Resignation of the Bishop of Cayenne

Fides EN - - 7 horas 3 minutos atrás
Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Cayenne , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Emmanuel Lafont.
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/PERU - The first Assembly of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon begins

Fides EN - - 7 horas 7 minutos atrás
Puerto Maldonado - The First Plenary Assembly of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon begins today, 26 October, which coincides with the first anniversary of the closing of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region . The virtual meeting, which will take place for two days, will be attended by all the Bishops of the Pan-Amazon and all the collaborators, about 300 people in total, representatives of the various institutions and ecclesial realities of the area, of the native peoples and communities of this territory.
Among the objectives of this meeting is to find new concrete ways to give life and implement some of the priority commitments that emerged from the discernment carried out in the Synod, as well as to start a process of formulating a Global Pastoral Plan that will be gradually implemented, collecting the motions of those who will be present at this first plenary assembly. During the two days of the assembly, the identity and mission of CEAMA will be deepened, as well as the cries of pain and the songs of hope of the Amazon and its peoples in this moment of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Towards the beatification of the "Doctor of the Poor"

Fides EN - - 7 horas 21 minutos atrás
Caracas - Today, October 26, the process of the exhumation of the mortal remains of Doctor José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros, known as "the Doctor of the Poor", will begin: the Venezuelan doctor born in Isnotú on October 26, 1864, dedicated his life at the service of the poorest and of all those who needed it, demonstrating to be a great medical professional, scientist, thinker and above all a fervent believer in God.
According to the note sent to Fides by the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela , on October 23, 1975, a first exhumation was carried out and his remains were transferred from the general Cemetery of the south to the Church of Our Lady of Candlemas of the Archdiocese of Caracas. Today, 45 years after this historic event, the new exhumation is due in view of his beatification.
The first exhumation of the remains of Doctor José Gregorio Hernández, in 1975, when his cause for beatification had already started, took place because of the enormous number of people who, because of the great devotion aroused by the Doctor of the Poor, frequently visit his tomb, in the general Cemetery, posing problems of security and public order. Once, the large number of candles lit on his grave caused a great fire that damaged the tombstone. Thus his mortal remains were moved to the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria church, in the Archdiocese of Caracas, where they are currently located.
On June 29, 1919, Dr. Hernandez walked into a pharmacy in Caracas to buy medicine for an elderly patient he had visited shortly before. As soon as he left, he was hit by one of the few cars in circulation at the time. Transported to the hospital, he received the Anointing of the Sick and died shortly after. He seems to be so far one of the few candidates for the glory of the altars to have been the victim of a road accident. The rite of beatification is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021
Categorias: From the church

ASIA - Asian Bishops' appeal for the release of the Indian Jesuit accused of sedition

Fides EN - - 7 horas 39 minutos atrás
Bangkok - "It is with great shock and great anguish that the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences learned of the arrest of Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy SI, 83, and his incarceration. We are surprised by the accusations made against him. We stand in solidarity with Father Stan Swamy and all who support the rights of the indigenous people": this is stated in a note released today, October 26, by the FABC and sent to Agenzia Fides, recalling the story of Indian Jesuit priest Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, , accused of sedition and complicity with Maoist rebel groups and arrested for these reasons.
According to his confreres and Church leaders in India, these are absurd accusations against a man who dedicated his life to the social advancement of the indigenous and tribal populations of India. On 23 October a special court of the National Investigation Agency rejected the Jesuit's request for bail .
The note continues: "The mass media in India expressed deep shock at the arrest of Fr Stan Swamy, who for three decades lived among the poorest indigenous people in India. The arrest and merciless incarceration of Father Stan Swamy remind us of the treatment of Mahatma Gandhi when he fought for the rights of the Indian people. The British colonial government was too anxious to jail him for the 'crime' of demanding the dignity of its people. His dream was for the smallest of India to be the central concern of a free India. Father Stan Swamy was following Gandhi's non-violent path to realize his dream".
"The arrest - reads the text - is symptomatic of the treatment meted out to indigenous people in various parts of Asia. The one which goes from the shores of the South China Sea to the central parts of India is a vast land that was once home to the indigenous people. Colonization destroyed them; the national states deprived them of civil rights. Thousands of people died as a result of ecocide, and the destruction of the biosphere".
The FABC stand up to defend these populations: "The market economy, which developed on the Asian continent, and its favorable factors, treated indigenous communities with a colonial mentality, making them 'environmental refugees'. The world is indebted to the indigenous communities who protected nature and gave it to the world. The forests and the biosphere in which the indigenous lived proved to be the lungs of the world".
"When Asian governments choose to evict the indigenous people and offer their lands for corporate gain, they are opting to infect the lungs of the world. This is ecological Covid. Pope Francis has asked to protect precious 'lungs' such as the Amazon, Congo and the forests of Asia".
The Bishops acknowledge that "humanists like Father Swamy tried to save the world from the ecocide. We urge the concerned authorities to acknowledge the role the indigenous people play for the welfare of the world and release their people and those who support them" . Hence an appeal to India, "great nation, land of Mahatma and spiritual mother of all the East". " We do hope its leaders will show sagacity and magnanimity in appreciating the services of Father Swamy and other indigenous people’s leaders, releasing them as free citizens of India", concludes the text, signed, on behalf of the Bishops of Asia, by Cardinal Charles Bo, FABC president.
Categorias: From the church

VATICAN - The Pope announces a Consistory for the creation of 13 new Cardinals, 2 of whom come from territories under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

Fides EN - - 8 horas 59 minutos atrás
Vatican City - At yesterday's Angelus, Sunday 25 October, the Holy Father Francis announced a Consistory for the creation of 13 new Cardinals to be held on 28 November, on the eve of the first Sunday of Advent.
Two of the new Cardinals are ordinaries from mission territories: His Exc. Mgr. Antoine Kambanda, Archbishop of Kigali and His Exc. Mgr. Cornelius Sim, Titular Bishop of Puzia of Numidia, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei.
The other new Cardinals: His Exc. Mgr. Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops; His Exc. Mgr. Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; His Exc. Mgr. Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington; His Exc. Mgr. Jose F. Advincula, Archbishop of Capiz ; His Exc. Mgr. Celestino Aós Braco, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Santiago de Chile; His Exc. Mgr. Augusto Paolo Lojudice, Archbishop of Siena-Colle Val d’Elsa-Montalcino; Fra Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M. Conventual Franciscan, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.
"Other pastors in the Church throughout the world will join them - said the Holy Father - : His Exc. Mgr. Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Bishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de las Casas ; His Exc. Mgr. Silvano M. Tomasi, Titular Archbishop of Asolo, Apostolic Nuncio; Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap. Preacher of the Papal Household; Mgr. Enrico Feroci - Parish Priest of the Shrine of Divine Love in Castel di Leva". "Let us pray for the new Cardinals, so that, in confirming their adherence to Christ, they may help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome, for the good of the entire holy faithful People of God".
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - Civil society protests and an appeal is launched to the authorities for the abduction of a Catholic girl

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 17:57
Karachi – To protest and ask for the intervention of the authorities for the abduction and forced conversion of Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old minor girl resident of Railway Colony of Karachi City: this is the purpose of the demonstration organized by citizens of Karachi, Christians, Hindus and Muslims, gathered today, 24 October, at Karachi Press Club. Those present deplored yet another episode of violence against a Christian girl: On the morning of 13th October 2020 Arzoo went out to the shop and never returned. She was kidnapped, converted to Islam and married her 44-year-old abductor, a Muslim .
The protest was organized and led by the "National Peace Committee Interfaith Harmony" in collaboration with the other Human Rights and civil society and political party groups. The
protesters chanted slogans for the girl's return to the family and the punishment of the kidnappers.
Nasir Raza, Chairman of the Committee in the Sindh region, said: "We demand justice for Arzoo Raja and also demand for the effective measures to be taken immediately for the protection of non-Muslim girls. Ali Azhar, abductor of the girl, a 44 year old man should be arrested and punished for abducting a minor girl, and forcing her to conversion of religion and for marrying him". The episode goes against the Child Protection Act and the Child Marriage Act, "and is enough to punish the abductors also in this whole process of making the fake documents and marriage certificate".
Anthony Naveed, member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, representative of the Pakistan People's Party, at the head of a committee formed by the Catholic Church and the Church of Pakistan, speaking to Fides, said: "The hearing of the case has begun and the judge will soon issue an order. We have submitted documents to the court certifying that Arzoo Raja is a minor. The abductor's defenders submitted the documents to attest the girl's free will for her conversion to Islam and marriage. We contest these false statements".
Asad Butt, vice Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Karachi said: "Every human being has the right to freedom, nobody can be forced to change religion and marry anyone. The case should be dealt with under the Child Marriage Act. Everyone involved in this incident should be punished according to the law".
Sabir Michael, a human and minority rights activist comments to Fides: "It is alarming to see the rise in the cases of abduction and forced conversion, especially regarding women belonging to religious minorities. We strongly condemn this episode and urge the government of Pakistan and the government of Sindh to make every possible effort to protect the girls and bring justice to the victims of such cases. Such cases negatively affect the image of our country and weaken Pakistan's position in the United Nations".
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - Covid-19: psychological support offered by the eight Episcopal Conferences of East Africa

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 13:25
Nairobi - "Spiritual support is a necessity amidst the pandemic", says Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, Pastoral Coordinator of AMECEA , speaking of the program launched in August aimed at providing spiritual and psychosocial services to people who have been affected in various ways by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Most people never connected Covid-19 with psychological torture which can lead to worry, but through this program it has strongly come out that the pandemic brought anxiety".
The overall objective of the program is to provide a common platform for the Episcopal Conferences of the AMECEA region to share experiences, provide toolkits and materials for psychosocial and pastoral assistance services to communities and people affected and infected by Covid-19.
The guidelines issued by various States within the region to help contain the spread of Coronavirus including curfews, working from home, lockdown and keeping social distance among others have affected the social and spiritual lives of so many people in the society.
"We are social beings and isolation is not normal for us", recalls Fr. Chimombo. "The stringent measures issued by governments made people feel somehow ostracized. Therefore, the spiritual and psycho-social program is giving opportunity to people who are isolated and traumatized to find accompaniment and solace".
By offering individual consultations, each Episcopal Conference has a qualified consultant who makes his service available free of charge over the telephone. Each Episcopal Conference has designated a radio station with broad coverage where the consultant answers listeners' questions for about an hour a day.
Father Chimombo underlines that the program in question has made it possible to understand that many people lived in ignorance or lack of knowledge of Covid-19.
Some had misconception about the pandemic while others simply did not know how to handle the situation.
The use of radio platform which was aimed at reaching the people in rural areas, says Fr. Chimombo, " was an eye opener and it gave opportunity to people to ask questions and get professional responses". Most of the people who contacted the service expressed economic and family concerns.
The program has not, for the time being, been able to reach all the populations of the region because "the few radios selected limit the scope of reach while some conferences like Ethiopia do not even have a national Catholic radio station, and this hinders effective implementation of the project as designed", says Fr. Chimombo who concludes: " There is need for creation of a counselling desk in conferences which is not necessarily for Covid-19 but to help the many people who are suffering silently and need psycho-social support".
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - Denial of bail to Jesuit accused of "sedition"

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 13:08
Ranchi - A special court of the National Investigation Agency yesterday, October 23, rejected the request for bail for Jesuit Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, activist for the rights of tribals, arrested following his alleged involvement in the activities of the Maoist rebels and in violent riots in 2018 in Maharashtra. The 83-year-old cleric, currently under judicial custody, had asked for bail for health reasons. He is now being held in the quarantine unit at Taloja prison, near Mumbai.
Father Swamy was taken from his home in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on 8 October by a team NIA officials in Delhi. His arrest sparked outrage across the country, sparking criticism from various sectors of civil society and the Catholic Church. A court had sent him into judicial custody until October 23.
The Jesuit was the sixteenth person to be arrested on the basis of the anti-terrorism law for episodes of violence in Maharashtra. Violence took place near the monument to the dead in the village of Bhima Koregaon, village near Pune on January 1, 2018, probably after provocative speeches were made in the city of Pune. According to the NIA, Father Swamy was actively involved in the activities of Maoist groups and had a role in instigating violence. Police claim the Jesuit priest is a member of the Maoist Party, declared outlawed by the authorities.
For those who know Father Swamy, these statements are absurd. "Raising one's voice to fight for justice and truth, regardless of religion, culture and ethnicity to which one belongs: this is Father Stan Swamy's objective, say his confreres, who recall how the religious spent fifty years of constantly promoting the rights and values of the indigenous, marginalized and vulnerable peoples.
After teaching at the Indian Social Institute in Bangalore, he moved to Jharkhand, working to improve the lives of Adivasi , within "JOHAR" Jharkhandi Organization for Human Rights, and working against the phenomenon of forced displacement of tribal populations from their ancestral lands. Since 2001, Father Lourduswamy moved to Ranchi, continuing to be socially active against the phenomenon of undue expropriation and supporting the "Pathalgadi" movement, formed by indigenous people. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party government saw the movement as "anti-development" and deployed paramilitary troops and police forces to suppress it. Now the state government has presented sedition charges against 20 activists including Father Lourduswamy, based on their public interventions or on social media in which they claim the government should engage in a peaceful dialogue with the Adivasis involved in the Pathalgadi movement rather than suppressing it.
The incessant campaign by the Jesuit, and other leaders, against the displacement and violations of the rights of Adivasis - carried out by the government and companies interested in grabbing their land - and the constant denunciation of inequalities and injustices are the reasons behind the absurd allegations of sedition that led to his arrest.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Presidential elections: meeting of women of all political tendencies to contribute to a peaceful vote

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 12:51
Abidjan - A few days before the presidential elections in Ivory Coast, on October 31, when the tensions in the Country are becoming increasingly felt, UN-Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the empowerment of women, invited on October 21 at its headquarters in Abidjan Cocody, the women of the ruling party and the women of the opposition to a working lunch: Objective: to come together to dialogue for the peaceful elections with the support of femwise, mediators of the African Union.
"Women of all political tendencies in Ivory Coast have decided to meet to discuss the situation because we have seen that in this delicate process, women must play their part", said Célestine Zanou, head of delegation of the UN-Women mission. For her, what should be remembered "is that women are aware that it is through dialogue and consultation that we overcome trials and agree that dialogue is therefore a necessity for the elections to be peaceful".
The meeting, which lasted just over two hours, was attended by the women leaders of various political parties in the Ivory Coast including Kandia Camara, general secretary of the RHDP, Marie Odette Lorougnon of the FPI, Léopoldine Coffie, vice president of the PDCI-Rda , Danielle Boni Claverie of the Republican Union for Democracy. They all expressed their support for joining their efforts in order to contribute to the strengthening of dialogue so that the elections are held without violence in the Country.
Minister Euphrasie Yao Kouassi, a member of civil society and peace mediator, welcomed the successful holding of the meeting focused on dialogue, social cohesion with a view to peace and above all a peaceful climate for these upcoming elections which was enhanced by the presence of several women political leaders from West Africa including former Minister Diyé Ba from Mauritania, Marie-Louise Baricako from Burundi, member of the Femwise network and Marie Madeleine Kalala from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The delegation was led by Célestine Zanou, a former candidate for the presidency of Benin.
"For me it is a great day", says Euphrasie Yao Kouassi who recalls that "with the United Nations resolution 13-25 on women, peace and security, the Ivory Coast was the first African Country in 2006 to elaborate a action plan based on this resolution". A starting point for the Ivorian women to help the Country overcome ethnic and religious divisions, making the Country united and peaceful.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Social tensions, strikes, corruption and the risk of food emergencies

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 12:34
Harare - "The situation in our country is the subject of many concerns because of the continual violations of rights and the extreme poverty which concerns more and more people. It is estimated that by the end of the year 8 million of my fellow citizens will be in food emergency". This is the concern expressed by Kenneth Mtata, Lutheran pastor and Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Almost three years after the dismissal of Robert Mugabe, at the head of Zimbabwe for a little less than 38 years, and two years after the elections which should have marked the definitive transition from a long dictatorship to a democracy bringing well-being and rights, ex Rhodesia is experiencing a rather difficult period on a social level. Kenneth Mtata said in an interview with Fides: "Schools have reopened but the teachers are on strike, they are protesting against low wages and demanding to be paid in US dollars, something that the government cannot afford to do. There is also a serious problem in health care: doctors and nurses have been on strike for 7 months now and the situation, in particular because of Covid-19, is very critical. The population is tired of the still very high levels of corruption and takes to the streets, but many arrests still take place by the police regarding demonstrators, journalists who denounce the mismanagement while we are still worried about the people kidnapped and missing because there is no news".
Christian Churches, under the aegis of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, are very active in pastoral and social action and also play a leading role at a political level. The Pastor concludes: "We have asked for the promotion of a national consensus, an open dialogue capable of creating the conditions for real progress, but the government has not yet given us an answer. In August, the Catholic Bishops' Conference wrote a letter to the executive, requesting interventions on the many problems that Zimbabwe is experiencing: economic crisis, inflation, which is at dramatic levels, poverty, human rights violation and corruption. The government responded rather harshly. The Churches remain united in any case to remind the government of its responsibilities and to demand policies of national unity and consensus".
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Testimony of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies on the need to "give impetus and vitality to the mission, in particular through the action of the laity"

Fides EN - - sab, 24/10/2020 - 12:16
Jakarta - "It is necessary to build a larger and stronger network between the faithful and lay missionary communities in order to promote the mission of the Church, thanks also to mutual personal involvement". This is what Father Markus Nur Widipranoto, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Indonesia, said in an interview with Agenzia Fides, speaking of the role and mission of lay Catholics in the country.
"As a Church - explains Father Markus - we must identify any opening that allows us to realize our faith, promoting peace, social justice and supporting our national values". To celebrate this Missionary October Month, the Church in Indonesia has organized meetings, conferences and spiritual retreats in which hundreds of faithful took part. "It is very beautiful to see such intense and heartfelt participation. This is certainly a way to build solid foundations to spread the Gospel and the Catholic faith". Among the various initiatives organized by the local Catholic community, the National Director speaks of the realization of a missionary magazine, "based on the Abu Dhabi document on fraternity in accordance with the central theme of this year's Missionary Month, written by priests, religious and educators. In schools - continues the priest - the diocesan directors of the PMS are carrying out a program which explains the mission to adolescents and children. In the dioceses we also have a course in missiology prepared by lay missionary groups, in addition to charitable activities such as free medical care and donations of food and clothing".
Speaking of the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Indonesia, Father Markus underlines the fact that "in recent years we have been urging the Catholics laity to give impetus to the mission so that they carry out their commitment through their professional activity and in the place where they operate. It is important - he concludes - to continue to provide assistance to the weakest people, to children, to the poor and to help spread a positive message of hope for the younger generations".

Link correlati :Video-interview with the Director of the PMS in Indonesia
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/VIETNAM - Bishops' delegation visits flood victims

Fides EN - - sex, 23/10/2020 - 23:24
Hue - A delegation from the Vietnamese Bishops' Conference visited the areas of central Vietnam affected by the recent floods. Expressing solidarity and solidarity with the flood victims, giving consolation and hope and also providing material help. "We prayed for the people and those affected and asked them to remain resilient in these times of need", says in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, Bishop Paul Nguyèn Thai Hop, at the head of the diocese of Hà Tinh, which initially included families in the Luong Van parish in the Archdiocese of Hue. On 21 October, the Bishops' delegation visited the parishes of My Chanh and Trung Quan in the same Archdiocese. "This is truly a miracle for our parish" said the parish priest of My Chanh, when welcoming the delegation of Bishops.
The Bishop of Da Nang, Mgr. Joseph Dang Duc Ngan, reported that "the tears did not express pain and suffering, but joy and happiness like that of children, who feel loved and understood by their parents". Men and women religious accompanied the Bishops who distributed the humanitarian aid to the families affected.
The delegation crossed the whole region in small boats to reach the brothers and sisters in Trung Quan parish in Ha Tinh diocese.
After the severe floods of October 16, entire regions in various regions of Central Vietnam are under water. The people here are still in shock because the floods came very quickly and were of the same magnitude. Father Quan Trung Quan says: "I heard cries for help in the middle of the night and hurriedly sent the young people of the village to save the families and bring them to the church to provide refuge". Church institutions and religious orders were also affected by the floods.
Bishop Emmanuel Nguyên Hong Son of Bà Ria, on behalf of all Vietnamese bishops, encouraged the flood victims and said: "Remain confident even in times of need and do not be discouraged. You can rely on the love of the Lord who never leaves us. We pray that God's blessings continue to flow into the hearts of many benefactors who share their goods to help rebuild your future".
A total of 105 people died in Vietnam in severe floods and landslides caused by weeks of heavy rain. Another 27 people are missing. The floods flooded over 178,000 homes and nearly 7,000 hectares of crops.
Categorias: From the church

AFRICA/CAMEROON - Civil War creates lost generation

Fides EN - - sex, 23/10/2020 - 22:44
Yaoundé - The Anglophone regions of Cameroon, where 20% of the country's population live, have been experiencing a social and humanitarian crisis since 2016. The crisis signals a historic gap between the French-speaking majority and the Anglophone minority, but it was amplified after the strikes by teachers and lawyers in October 2016, against the sending of French-speaking judges and teachers to the Western Anglophone regions. The strong centralization has led to a phenomenon of increasing use of the French language in public affairs and in the ranks of the state apparatus, which was followed by a drastic decline in Anglophone political representatives in decision-making bodies. A crisis that has turned into a conflict of secession fought by armed groups that clashed with the Cameroonian army, which in turn sparked a humanitarian crisis.
According to the UNHCR, 60,000 Cameroonian refugees have found shelter in Nigeria. As Brother Eric Michel Miedji of the Congregation of the Little Brothers of Jesus in Foumban says, "the violence caused by the crisis and the radicalization of activists is largely the result of the incorrect government response: denial, contempt, intimidation, repression, imprisonment and the erosion of trust between the English-speaking population and the government, to the extent that a probable majority of English speakers see a return to federalism or secession as a possible outcome. This dirty war, with its intolerable political, economic and social dimensions, has had dire consequences and led to the flight of a large part of the population from these regions to neighboring countries and to the cities of Cameroon bordering the English-speaking area. It is estimated that more than one million internally displaced people live in the cities and villages of Cameroon, most of whom are young people who are out of school. They have fled violence, armed fighting and murders in order to seek refuge in safe and peaceful places".
In Foumban alone, there are more than 4,000 displaced people . These people run the risk of becoming disoriented: after the trauma of the war, they find themselves unemployed and are exposed to the risk of crime and prostitution.
Young people often cannot go to school because their parents are unemployed. "We - continues Brother Eric -, look after 250 young people whom we try to train in the shortest possible time and reintegrate them into their living environment. But we also feel helpless ourselves. If we had more support, we could find better and more concrete solutions for social and economic development and the integration of the displaced".
Categorias: From the church

EUROPE/SPAIN - Thanks from the PMS to all those who participated in World Mission Day "in times of pandemic"

Fides EN - - sex, 23/10/2020 - 18:59
Madrid - World Mission Day 2020 on October 18th was marked by the pandemic, but this year too, thanks to the creativity of dioceses, parishes and schools, it was possible to carry out the initiatives. Fr. José María Calderón, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Spain, thanked everyone who worked on the missionary projects in a video. The President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, His Exc. Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, also expressly thanked Spain for its great commitment in the parishes and with the Pontifical Mission Societies.
"This year's World Mission Day will be remembered as the Sunday of confinement or of the pandemic", explains Fr. José María Calderón. "We would like to thank everyone who made the celebration possible even in this unusual situation and who contributed to the Mission Church with generous donations".
The National Director emphasizes that the Church in Spain is very generous in supporting the missions and this is possible thanks to the many people who have contributed with their prayers, donations and initiatives - both individuals and schools and parishes. He also thanks those who have contributed through the media.
"The missionaries will thank you. The Church will continue to evangelize thanks to your commitment, initiatives and donations", he concludes.
Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, also thanked the Spanish Catholics for the support they give the missionaries. "It is a contribution that demonstrates the special mission awareness in Spain", he explains in a video to the Spanish news service COPE. "There are many Spanish missionaries, religious, priests and lay people all over the world. And they exist because there are many Spanish congregations behind them, that are very conscious of the call to mission".
In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pontifical Mission Societies had initiated special virtual initiatives to celebrate World Mission Day and supported them with a website on which the testimonies of six missionaries were accessible in an interactive way and online donations were made possible.

Link correlati :The website of the PMS of Spain, with videos
Categorias: From the church

ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Political crisis resolved with centralization of powers: people's expectations have been disappointed

Fides EN - - sex, 23/10/2020 - 15:31
Bishkek - "The protests that followed the parliamentary elections on October 4th in Kyrgyzstan are against the obvious buying of votes, this time more than in the past: in the days leading up to the elections, it was possible to witness how much we have moved towards corruption. In addition, the high 7% threshold of the Kyrgyz electoral system meant that only four of the sixteen parties that applied for elections could get into parliament. These are, of course, the four parties that are close to the elected president. This situation, in a system already in turmoil, caused the protest to explode", said Davide Cancarini, researcher and expert on Central Asian politics, explaining the reasons behind the Kyrgyz crisis on the first days of October.
In the hours following the election, evidence of electoral fraud led a large group of protesters to take to the streets in Bishkek, the capital of the Central Asian country, demanding the cancellation of the election, in which pro-Russian Sooronbay Jeenbekov was proclaimed winner. Demonstrators occupied government buildings and released detained politicians, including former presidents Almazbek Atambayev and Sadyr Japarov, later appointed prime minister and president. The police reacted to protests with tear gas and deafening grenades. According to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health, one person was killed and 590 injured in the clashes.
The protests subsided ten days after the elections when Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov, Parliament President Dastanbek Jumabekov and President-elect Jeenbekov resigned from their posts. However, this led to the centralization of powers in the hands of Sadyr Japarov, who after his appointment as Prime Minister, now also holds the role of President. According to the Kyrgyz constitution, the tasks of the president must be carried out by the president of parliament until a new head of state is elected. If the latter is unable to do this, the powers are transferred to the Prime Minister. Cancarini explains in this regard: "I believe that the solution we came up with basically betrays the demands of the protesters who took to the streets to ask for the democratic system to be more open. In fact, Japarov is a very controversial figure who is not supported by a large part of the population. When the protests broke out, he was in prison for the kidnapping of an officer. In addition, he is closely related to the Matraimov clan, which is known to be associated with Kyrgyz criminal organizations. Therefore there is now a controversial figure in power who is not much loved by the people: this was certainly not the scenario the demonstrators had envisioned when they took to the streets".
Since the fall of the Soviet Union until today,there have been two other crises in Kyrgyzstan: the so-called "Tulip Revolution" of 2005 and the "Second Kyrgyz Revolution" of 2010. On both occasions, the population took to the streets to protest against corruption. and poverty, and managed to oust the presidents in office, but this does not lead to an actual improvement regarding the conditions in the country.
According to the Asian Development Bank, 22.4% of the population in Kyrgyzstan live below the poverty line. This is the context in which the small Catholic community lives: about 1,500 believers who are committed to charity and education and whose projects focus in particular on young people from poor families and rural villages.
The Catholic community is currently organized in three parishes in the cities of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Talas, but many small communities are distributed in the rural areas of the country as well. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, a religious and five Franciscan sisters.
In 1997, John Paul II founded the Mission sui iuris, as was the case with the neighboring states of Central Asia. In 2006, Benedict XVI elevated the circumscription to the rank of apostolic administration. In addition to the Muslim majority, 7% of the population is of Christian faith, of whom 3% of Orthodox faith. Jews, Buddhists and other small minorities make up about 3% of the population.
Categorias: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - After 10 years, a new phase of the inter-congregational missionary Project in Haiti

Fides EN - - sex, 23/10/2020 - 14:46
Brasilia - The project for missionary cooperation between the Churches in Brazil and Haiti started 10 years ago: the "Inter-congregational Project for Solidarity" was born from the collaboration of the National Brazilian Bishops' Conference and the Conference of Religious of Brazil with the Haitian Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince and the Conference of Religious of Haiti. On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered the largest earthquake in its history, which caused the deaths of over 300,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless.
Faced with this tragedy, the Brazilian Church, through the religious and Caritas Brazil, began its missionary work on the Island to ensure a presence of solidarity, hospitality and evangelization in Haiti and to contribute to the reconstruction and to guarantee dignified conditions for the poor .
In September 2010 the first three religious were sent on a mission to Haiti. Since then, religious sisters from 17 congregations have worked in Haiti. There are currently four nuns working in an extremely poor community on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The sisters offer advanced training courses in leadership training and literacy for women and run a communal kitchen. They also provide psychological support and organize courses in art, music and theater, sewing, baking and pasta workshops. They are also involved in the education of adolescents and young people, and look after about 50 children with extreme malnutrition.
Sister Fatima Kapp, director of the Mission Department of the CRB, emphasizes that the majority of the Haitian population is affected by extreme poverty and high unemployment, which in turn creates hunger and violence. Moreover, everything is very difficult, there is not even a permanent residence for the nuns who are involved in the projects. In September 2020, the 10-year initially set for the implementation of the project expired. With the support of the CNBB, however, the CRB took on the responsibility of continuing the socio-pastoral initiaves in the region and started a new phase of the inter-congregational mission in Haiti.
Categorias: From the church