AFRICA - With Pentecost, the Church in Africa goes beyond tribal divisions

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 12:10
Kara - "The celebrations of the feast of Pentecost have just ended and the dream of communion, fraternity, love is increasingly felt on the continent. The tribal, clan and ethnic divisions, even within the Church, which constantly feed our daily lives, remind us that the separatist spirit of Babel always remains strong", says to Agenzia Fides Ivorian theologian Fr. Donald Zagore.
"To become a Christian - he explains - means to nurture communion and therefore to enter into the Holy Spirit's way of being which is the force of communion, the unique and ultimate mediator that makes first of all communication between God and men possible and then among men themselves. One cannot think of living a Christian life separated from others. The feast of Pentecost constantly reminds us of the essence of our mission as a church in Africa, which is to work for reconciliation, the unification of our religious communities and our countries".
Pope Francis, in his homily on Sunday, May 20, invoked the Holy Spirit saying: "Blow upon the Church and impel her to the ends of the earth, so that, brought by you, she may bring nothing other than you. Blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope".
This invitation resounds among the baptized in Africa: "There is not a greater scandal than seeing the divided Churches, especially for tribal, ethnic and clan issues", continues Father Zagore. "Tribalization and clanization of our communities remain a serious distortion to the action of the Holy Spirit and to the very nature of the Church, since the Church herself is the work of the Holy Spirit. Tribalization and clanization of our churches are essentially a sin against the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of Christ reigns, there is no division, rather there is unity and reconciliation", he notes.
The theologian concludes: "The Holy Spirit offers itself to the community of those who support one another through Christ. Pentecost is, first of all, the feast of unity and communion of the Church and of all humanity. Through Pentecost, the whole Church, all of humanity speaks the same language: that of love. Only a love stronger than all personal interests is able to build and make fertile a community of united and reconciled men. It must be said strongly, the unity of the Church is impregnated with the only love of Christ who died and rose again for the salvation of all".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/COSTA RICA - The Bishop of Limón asks the new President for a commissioner for the indigenous people of the country

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 11:19
Limón - "Our natives need a commissioner to defend their human rights! So I formally suggest President Carlos Alvarado a commissioner for the indigenous peoples of our country, in order to intervene in the face of the multiple and permanent violations of the fundamental human rights suffered, systematically and for many years, by these brothers": these are the words of Mgr. Javier Román, Bishop of the diocese of Limón in Costa Rica, in a letter to the new President of the country, also sent to Fides.
"This government began its activity - continues the Bishop - reaffirming the will to enforce the human rights of all Costa Ricans, for this he has appointed a commissioner who works to guarantee and support the rights of the people who request it".
"Our natives are dying due to lack of medical care, they need roads, bridges, schools, productive projects, security and job opportunities, a commissioner could intervene to denounce the lack of assistance, to promote culture and help resolve the internal conflicts of the indigenous peoples". The Bishop, who has a rich pastoral experience, concludes by addressing the President with these words: "From his experience as a minister, we know of his social sensitivity and desire for doing things well. Let us start by doing justice for these brothers, who really need the support of everyone today".
15 days after his inauguration as president, the journalist and political analyst Carlos Andrés Alvarado Quesada has set up a national unity government that will have to face a fragile economic situation, due to a pressing fiscal deficit. The situation of the indigenous peoples in Costa Rica is that described by Mgr. Román, sad and serious, because they are left without protection by the authorities. The problems and consequences of environmental tragedies have weakened the few hopes of many people in places where there is no government assistance or is completely absent.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/MEXICO - Archbishop Emeritus, appointed Cardinal, Sergio Obeso Rivera: " We must persevere in our faith as the Gospel says"

Fides EN - - Mer, 23/05/2018 - 11:00
Veracruz - "Jesus told us not to hate those who think differently from us or do us harm. We must persevere, faithful to our faith and await the moment when 'truth will set us free', as the Gospel says. It is not the best moment for Veracruz but we Christians must try to build a state that smiles, even with the resources that come from ancient civilizations": this is what Archbishop Emeritus Sergio Obeso Rivera told Agenzia Fides, immediately after his appointment as Cardinal, with regard to the dramatic situation of violence suffered by the state of Veracruz and on attacks on Catholics who defend human rights in that context.
Among the 14 new Cardinals that Pope Francis will create on 29 June, there is also Sergio Obeso Rivera, who for 28 years was at the Head of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Emeritus Sergio Obeso Rivera affirms: "Pope Francis wants to tell me: continue to serve the Church with your gifts. The example that the Pope gives us goes beyond his intellectual magisterium". The Archbishop Emeritus says: "I did not expect it. I am already 86 years old". The announcement given by Mgr. Reyes during the Pentecost Mass in the Cathedral caused an ovation among the faithful present. In fact, Mgr. Obeso Rivera is very much loved. Among his most recognized merits is his work as President of the Mexican Episcopal Conference. At that time, as Fr. Rafael González, former rector of the minor seminary, vicar of the judiciary and archdiocesan postulator says to Agenzia Fides, "thanks to Mgr. Sergio’s
diplomatic relations with the presidents of the Republi, Miguel de la Madrid and Carlos Salinas de Gortari, he managed to re-establish relations between the State and the Church, interrupted at the time of President Benito Juárez ". "He is a very intelligent, wise man", says Fr. Rafael, who emphasizes his work in a very big archdiocese.
Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, of Guadalajara, president of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, defined Mgr. Obese "a simple, austere man, extremely available at the service and attentive to the social realities of Mexico".
Mgr. Sergio Obeso Rivera was born in Xalapa on 31 October 1931 and was ordained a priest in Rome, where he studied at the Pontifical Latin American Colegio Pío, in 1954. He was appointed Bishop of Papantla by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1971, when he was just 39 years old. For 33 years he served his native Archdiocese of Xalapa, until 2007.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Ebola; the Bishops: "Do not give in to resignation, but work together to limit the epidemic"

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 16:40
Kinshasa - "The confirmation of a first case of Ebola in Mbandaka, an urban area, worries us deeply", writes His Exc. Mgr. Marcel Utembi Tapa, Archbishop of Kisangani and President of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo , in a message on the Ebola epidemic that has affected the province of Equator, in the areas of Bikoro, Wangata and Iboko. So far the reported cases are 45 of whom 25 people have died.
In expressing, on behalf of CENCO, the proximity to the affected populations and the condolences to the relatives of the victims, Msg. Utembi underlines the risks of spreading the infection in the city of Mbandaka, capital of the Equator Province. "Given the nature of the disease and the lack of information, the risk of spreading in a city of 1.2 million inhabitants and in neighboring cities is to be feared" writes Mgr. Utembi. "Several worrying factors are likely to amplify the deadly epidemic whose lethality ranges from 20 to 90%. The threat of the Ebola epidemic is therefore to be taken seriously at provincial, national and regional levels".
Mgr. Utembi launches appeals on behalf of CENCO to the Congolese authorities, to local and international NGOs, to the World Health Organization , in order to urgently take "the necessary measures to respond effectively to the emergency and limit the spread of the disease and guarantee the safety and health of the population".
CENCO praises WHO's prompt intervention, which has sent a large delegation led by the General Director, and a team of experts. "Their presence testifies the national solidarity offered to the DRC to cope with this disease", emphasizes the message.
In addressing the populations of the areas affected by the epidemic, Mgr. Utembi invites them not to fall into despair and resignation, despite serious difficulties, trusting in God's help, to facilitate the work of health teams and "not to give in to fear and stigma that risk hindering the epidemic response".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - The Bishops: "We are doing everything possible for the love of Jesus Christ and for the love of our country"

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 13:56
Managua - "The peace we are looking for is not the peace of cemeteries, nor that of subjugated slaves, it is peace that is born from reconciled people. We have accepted to be mediators of the National Dialogue so as not to invite foreign or international delegations. We, as Bishops, have had the possibility of meeting the different groups, in order to present our concern and our lack of trust on the agreements made previously without transparency and in secret": these are the words of Mgr. José Silvio Baez , Auxiliary of Managua, delegated by the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua to inform the press about the ongoing dialogue process at the Seminary in Managua.
In yesterday's press conference, the Bishop wanted to underline, through a video sent to Agenzia Fides, that "the dirty game in Nicaragua is over! We, as Bishops, do not accept it in this dialogue!" At the end he said: "We must trust the Bishops, we do not want to disappoint anyone! We are doing everything possible for the love of Jesus Christ and for the love of our country, Nicaragua!"
The National Dialogue with president Ortega, entrepreneurs, students and representatives of society are at the same table, to solve the situation of social and political crisis in the country, and that has caused more than 70 dead . On the third day of work, Monday 21 May, the students presented their request to President Ortega to leave office. The student representative, Lesther Aleman, said the crisis will continue in Nicaragua until President Daniel Ortega continues to stay in power: "We are few but there are thousands who support us outside, indeed millions", he said.
Chancellor Denis Moncada, on behalf of the government, denounced that, along with the protest of university students, there is also criminal activity in the demonstrations, and added that the barricades made by students violate the rights to mobilization and cause losses to economy.
In his speech Medardo Mairena, representative of farmers, argued that the demonstrators cannot be asked to remove the barricades, because there is no guarantee of their own security once the streets and entrances to the inhabited centers have been freed. At the end of the day the participants agreed to implement the recommendations of the International Commission on Human Rights, which, among other things, establish: to end the repression, guarantee the right to protest, "to create an international investigative mechanism on the acts of violence that have occurred, with guarantees of autonomy and independence to guarantee the right to truth and adequately identify those responsible".

Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/TANZANIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Mbulu

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 13:15
Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed as bishop of Mbulu, Tanzania, the Rev. Anthony Lagwen, of the clergy of the same diocese, currently bursar of the same ecclesiastical circumscription.
The Rev. Anthony Lagwen was born on 5 July 1967 in Tlawi, in the diocese of Mbulu. After primary studies in his native country and secondary school in the Sanu minor Seminary in Mbulu, he studied Philosophy in the Saint Anthony Seminary in Ntungamo, Bukoba, and Theology in the Saint Paul interdiocesan major Seminary in Kipalapala, Tabora. He was ordained on 18 October 1999 for the diocese of Mbulu.
Since priestly ordination he has held the following offices: from 1999 to 2000: parish vicar of Bashay; from 2000 to 2004: studies in Business Administration at the Saint Augustine Catholic University of Tanzania in Mwanza; from 2004 to 2009: bursar of the Diocese of Mbulu; from 2009 to 2011: studies at the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute in Arusha; since 2012: bursar of the Diocese of Mbulu.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - Concern over new Ebola outbreak: mobilization of Caritas and NGOs

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 13:05
Bikoro - "The situation is worrying because it is urban unlike earlier ones" says Dr. Rose Mkunu at the head of a delegation of Caritas Congo visiting Mbandaka, together with the Diocesan office of medical surgery in Mbandaka-Bikoro.
"Caritas is doing everything it can to raise awareness and brief community and religious leaders on the disease as well as means for protection and surveillance but we are limited by our means", she notes.
On 8 May government officials confirmed the outbreak in the North-West of the Country which has so far caused 25 deaths out of a total of 45 cases of infections, of whom 14 confirmed. The data, released by the World Health Organization, are not reassuring, as there is fear of an escalation of the disease. The deaths occurred in Bikoro, which is about 150km from Mbandaka. The country’s ministry of health has announced there are a growing number of suspected cases and confirmed deaths.
Caritas Mbandaka-Bikoro says dozens of people have reported symptoms of fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and haemorrage since early April, but the size and scope of the epidemic is not yet fully understood. Caritas is preparing for any escalation of the disease and will work strenuously with other agencies to stop it from spreading to other Countries. This latest Ebola outbreak is the ninth that has occurred in the Congo. But significantly it is the first time the Ebola virus has been reported in this health zone.
The new outbreak carries a potential risk of broader contamination because the epicenter of the epidemic, Bikoro, is on the shores of Lake Tumba with direct access to the Congo river that connects directly to Kinshasa – with an estimated population of 12 million people – as well as Brazzaville and Bangui. Mbandaka has a population of more than a million people and is close to the epicentre. There are fears that the disease could be transmitted by travellers from a remote location to an urban centre.
Three health workers are amongst the reported cases – one of whom has already died – and there are concerns that medical practitioners may have been in close contact with patients and could transmit the disease. Caritas has already planned to provide food to 1500 households as well as health support. "We plan to focus our efforts on prevention, water, hygiene and sanitation, community mobilization and communication. For this, we are counting on the involvement of priests, men and women religious, teachers and nursing staff working in the affected areas", said the Catholic organization in a statement.
The very first Ebola outbreak – the actual discovery of the virus – in the Congo was declared in 1976. According to figures compiled by the European Commission there have been 1,056 reported cases and 756 people have died since it was first identified in Congo.

Categorie: From the church

EUROPE/ITALY - An impulse for mission and for vocations comes from the beatification of Sr. Leonella

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 12:44
Rome - "From the beatification of Sister Leonella we expect great strength for mission and for vocations, because looking at her young people in the whole world can wonder about the possibility of giving their lives for the Lord Jesus". Sister Renata Conti, Missionary of the Consolata, postulator of the cause of beatification of her sister, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, speaks to Agenzia Fides on the eve of her beatification, which will be celebrated next Saturday, May 26, in the Cathedral of Piacenza, her birthplace.
Sister Leonella, an Italian missionary, died in Mogadishu , on September 17, 2006, gunned down while she was going to the hospital where she served. Even Mohamed Mahamud, the guard who had tried to rescue her died, too .
"As an institute and as a community - continues Sister Renata - we live this moment with so much joy and so much commitment, because the figure and the martyrdom of Sister Leonella are a strong reference to our charism: we are called to live for the mission to the point of giving our life, this is what is written in our constitutions and this was recommended by our founder, Blessed Joseph Allamano. Martyrdom is therefore a reference to the whole institute. Our superior general, mother Simona Brambilla, in her letter stresses that we must look up to Sister Leonella as a charismatic model, a model that stimulates us to be what we must be".
In the communities of the Consolata Missionaries spread over four continents, this time of preparation has been lived with different local initiatives, which will culminate on the day of the beatification, when in communion with the celebration of Piacenza, a solemn Eucharist will be celebrated in all parts of the world where the Consolata Missionaries are present.
Sister Leonella gave her life as a missionary in Africa, where she was sent in 1970 and remained until her death on September 17, 2006, here her memory is still particularly vivid. The Bishops of the Latin Episcopal Conference of the Arab Regions , at the end of their Ad Limina visit, last March, wrote in the final statement: "Among the good news, we learned that among the many martyrs who died for the faith in our respective dioceses, Sr. Leonella Sgorbati, consolata missionary, martyred in Mogadishu in 2006, will be beatified on May 26, 2018 in Piacenza. Thinking of the life of this sister and thousands of martyrs for the faith, we recall that their blood is a source of encouragement and hope in our commitment to the poor. We greet the religious congregations, priests and the faithful who work in dramatic situations with respect and affection... ".
A large delegation from Kenya will be present at the beatification ceremony, which will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, explains Sister Renata: the Archbishop of Nairobi, John Njue, the Archbishop of Nyeri Bishop of Meru, in addition to a group of representatives of the local ecclesial community, diocesan priests, religious, his former students ... "Other Bishops will be present - continues Sr. Renata - Mgr. Giorgio Bertin, Bishop of Djibuti and Apostolic Administrator of Mogadishu, who knew her well, naturally the Bishop of Piacenza, her hometown, and the Archbishop of Milan, since Sister Leonella also lived in Sesto San Giovanni. A solemn mass of thanksgiving for the beatification has already been scheduled for June 18, at the Consolata Sanctuary in Kenya, which is expected to be attended by many people, because Sister Leonella was very well known and loved".
Among the most significant moments of the celebration of beatification, Sister Renata recalls that "our African novices, together with the seminarians of the African Consolata Missionaries, will perform a typical offertory dance of the African liturgy, bringing the palm tree, sign of martyrdom". Moreover, together with her relic, which will be brought by the superior general after the beatification decree, the superior of the community that was present at that time, will bring the two diaries written by Sister Leonella. "The last sentence is dated 12 September 2006, and is incomplete: 'I hope the Lord will help me ...'. We would like to publish them because they bear witness to a strong journey of donation in full union with Eucharist Jesus", concludes Sr. Renata.
Categorie: From the church

OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - The Catholic Mission commitment: Attention towards young people and to education in Myanmar

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 11:45
Sydney - "After the great success of the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney, at the end of last year, our challenge as a Church in Australia is to engage with young people and help them become missionary disciples of Christ": says in a note sent to Agenzia Fides Fr. Brian Lucas, National Director of "Catholic Mission" Australia, Australian Directorate of the Pontifical Mission Societies, commenting on the Message of Pope Francis for World Mission Day and noting the importance of young people for the evangelization.
Pope Francis stressed the importance of young people in the life and mission of the Church in his message for the 92nd World Mission Day, scheduled for October 21, 2018. World Mission Day is held every year throughout the world to witness the missionary commitment of the Catholic communities and sensitize the whole people of God on the urgency of the proclamation of the Gospel.
In particular, "Catholic Mission" Australia has focused its attention on Myanmar: for several years, the collaboration of Catholic Mission Australia with the Catholic community of this nation has been specifically directed toward the growth and fostering of the educational
gifts of young people.
"Education is one of the main ways in which Myanmar, after decades of internal conflicts and political struggles, is moving towards a new era of democracy", says "Catholic Mission", re-launching a cooperation program.
About ten years ago, Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, founded a Teacher Training Center called "Pyinya Sanyae Institute of Education" to help support education across the country through teacher training and the implementation of an alternative education, focused on the child.
Catholic Mission has chosen to support the Church of Myanmar in this effort to give priority to education, launching a program of economic aid and spiritual support - It aims to have well-trained teachers, as well as supporting the construction and renovation of schools, so that children in the most remote areas of Myanmar have better access to quality education.
"With the sum of 50 Australian dollars you can finance the training of a teacher at the PSIE for three days. With 100 dollars you will contribute to the cost of educational resources for the remote schools supported by the Church in Myanmar", he says. Catholic Mission is committed to supporting, in particular, the Catholic school of St. John in the remote northern city of Hakha.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/JORDAN - Caritas Jordan distributes humanitarian aid to Muslims in the month of Ramadan

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 11:04
Amman - Also this year the Caritas of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has started the special campaign carried out in conjunction with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which contemplates the distribution of food parcels among poor Muslim families in different governorates of the Kingdom. On Monday 21st May, Caritas Jordan volunteers began distributing food packages in the northern governorate of Mafraq, not far from the border with Syria. The distribution took place in collaboration with the Promise Welfare Society. The first to benefit from the Caritas initiative were those belonging to 100 families of Jordanian citizens and Syrian Muslim refugees. In the coming weeks, the distribution of aid reserved for Muslim families with economic difficulty will continue in other areas of the Kingdom by Caritas Jordan, which last year celebrated its first 50 years of activity in the Hashemite Kingdom.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/NEPAL - Reconstruction after the earthquake: the programs of Caritas Nepal

Fides EN - - Mar, 22/05/2018 - 10:57
Kathmandu - Caritas Nepal, an organism of the Catholic Church, has intensified its efforts to rebuild homes and structures in the communities affected by the earthquake of 2015. As Fides learns, Caritas has invested more than 36 million euros to help local communities to resume life and economic and social activities, to heal the wounds inflicted by the disaster. "With a team of priests, nuns and lay people, Caritas Nepal has focused on helping populations to regain their livelihoods", says Sister Marissa of the Congregation of Jesus to Fides.
One of the main areas of action touches sustainable agriculture to enable small families of farmers to have food security and sustainable livelihoods, given that about two-thirds of Nepal's population depends on sustenance from agriculture.
Furthermore, Caritas Nepal has set up a national program for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, through training and awareness meetings, radio programs and the dissemination of information leaflets. There are also smaller projects, which aim at the development of skills, with savings and microcredit programs, and educational programs for displaced children during the civil war, which lasted a decade .
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia. Almost a quarter of its 31 million people live on 2 dollars a day. In the last 20 years, political turbulence has hampered development in the Himalayan country, which was hit by severe earthquakes in April 2015, which claimed 9,000 victims, over 22,000 injured and thousands of homeless displaced people. Earthquakes have destroyed over 750,000 homes across the country, mainly in rural areas. But now, thanks to the Caritas network, many people are finally rebuilding their homes and their lives.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PAKISTAN - The new Cardinal Joseph Coutts, promoter of inter-religious harmony: "Ready to humbly serve the Church"

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 13:49
Karachi - Catholics in Pakistan rejoice at the decision of the Pope to appoint Archbishop Joseph Coutts, at the head of the Archdiocese of Karachi, as Cardinal. The 72-year-old will be the second Pakistani Archbishop to be honoured with the position after the death of cardinal Joseph Cordeiro. Pope Francis will appoint him Cardinal on June 29, 2018, on the feast of the SS. Peter and Paul, in the Vatican.
Cardinal Coutts told Fides: "I am shocked, but ready to humbly serve the Church and to continue to promote harmony in the city of Karachi and throughout the country". "In the Archdiocese of Karachi - he says - the faithful are increasing and many Catholics are settling in the suburbs and we are working with priests to build new churches and schools in the suburbs of the city". The Archbishop, who has chosen "Harmony" as his episcopal motto, has been working to promote dialogue and peace for forty years. He recently launched a diocesan commission for inter-religious harmony, to promote unity among people of various faiths, ethnic groups and nations in the metropolitan city of Karachi.
Bishop Samson Shukardin OFM, Bishop of the Diocese of Hyderabad, welcomed the news and speaking to Fides said: "It was a long-awaited decision, a moment of joy for the whole Catholic Church in Pakistan". Bishop Samson notes that "Archbishop Joseph Coutts is the most experienced Bishop in the country and knows all the details of the work of the Church's mission in Pakistan".
Fr. Qaisar Feroz OFMCap, Executive Secretary of the National Communications Commission, within the Catholic Episcopal Conference, reports to Fides: "Archbishop Joseph Coutts is well known in the country for his tireless efforts in promoting inter-religious harmony. It is a joy to have a Cardinal after such a long time. It will be useful for the growth and development of the Church".
Archbishop Coutts of Karachi is the second Cardinal of Pakistan: the previous, chosen by Pope Paul VI, was Joseph Cordeiro, the first Pakistani Cardinal created in 1973 and died in 1994. Joseph Coutts was born on 21st July 1945 in Amritsar, in British India and, after completing his religious studies at the Christ King Seminary of Karachi, he was ordained a priest on January 9, 1971 in the Archdiocese of Lahore. After his ordination he was sent to Rome to complete his studies in Philosophy. On May 5, 1988, Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of the diocese of Hyderabad, and then transferred him to the diocese of Faisalabad on 27 June 1998. On 25 January 2012, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Archbishop of Karachi.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/IRAQ - Elections: 5 seats reserved for Christians. The Chaldean Patriarch congratulates Muqtada al Sadr

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 13:19
Baghdad - The final results of the Iraqi parliamentary elections confirm that two of the 5 seats reserved for Christians have been won by candidates from the "Babylon Brigades" movement, they are: Aswan Salem Sawa - who won the seat reserved for Christians in the electoral province of Nineveh - and Burhanuddin Ishak Ibrahim, who won the seat reserved for Christians in the province of Baghdad. In the Province of Kirkuk the seat reserved for Christians went to Rihan Hanna Ayoub, candidate of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Council, while candidate Immanuel Khoshaba, of the Assyrian Rafidain coalition, won the seat reserved for Christians in the governorate of Dohuk, and Hoshyar Karadag Yelda, a candidate for the Chaldean coalition, won the seat reserved for Christians in the province of Erbil.
Four of the five candidates belong to the Chaldean Church. Circles close to some Christian candidates, especially linked to the Assyrian Democratic Movement, who achieved disappointing results in the elections and will not manage to enter Parliament, announce appeals and raise suspicions on the election response.
Meanwhile, the Chaldean Patriarchate reports that in recent days Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako telephoned Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr, winner of the elections, to congratulate him and express his wishes for a government that really promotes the common good of all the Iraqi people. Muqtada al Sadr - reported the official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate - thanked the Patriarch for his words on the occasion of the beginning of Ramadan, and confirmed his intention to "support Christians".
Sunday, May 20, feast of Pentecost, after the prayer of the Regina Coeli Pope Francis announced that a new Consistory will be held next June 29 for the creation of 14 new cardinals, including Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako. On Saturday 19 May, the Patriarch himself had issued a statement commenting on the election results, in which, among other things, he invited the Christian politicians "to learn a lesson" from the result of this election, recognizing that "once we put our finger into the wound, we will be able to develop a new vision and unite the stances to safeguard our small “quota” and its’ independence, which in turn protects our dignity and unity".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDIA - A Jesuit: "In Karnataka, the nationalist forces have not triumphed"

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 12:53
Bangalore - "The elections for the Karnataka State Assembly were a crucial moment in the history of the country. Outgoing Prime Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah, of the Congress Party, carried out a worthy job, but in the final race he had to deal with the Baratiya Janata Party , the Hindu nationalist party, which through money, manipulation and power, was very successful": says Indian Jesuit, Fr. Cedric Prakash to Agenzia Fides, commenting on the outcome of the election in the Indian state of Karnataka , where the BJP conquered the relative majority.
The BJP obtained 104 of the 222 seats; the Congress Party 78 and the Janata Dal party 37; three others are independent candidates. The Congress, which also suffered a drastic decline in a state that governed, started negotiations and reached a political agreement to put together a coalition and prevent the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, from taking power in the state. "In this context, the BJP did everything to get the consent of members of the assembly and to form a majority", notes Fr. Cedric.
But next May 23rd H.D. Kumaraswamy, leader of Janata Dal, will take the oath as Prime Minister of Karnataka, with the support of Congress and JD. "The whole nation - notes Fr. Prakash - follows this political drama of Karnataka. The government supported by two political forces must work in cooperation and remain united, despite the differences; secondly, it should move away from the logic of corruption, communitarianism, and defense of caste, based on competence and transparency. In this political drama, power, money and ideological manipulations of the BJP have failed. Truth and justice triumphed. But, over the course of four years, since the BJP has been governing at a federal level, the idea and spirit of India is being destroyed". "The task of every citizen is to exercise his/her own responsibility and to watch over freedom, committing oneself wholeheartedly to the rights of all: this is the only path to follow for the India of the future", concludes the Jesuit
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Assault on Bambari; even the Church is not spared

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 12:38
Bangui - "The population is devastated, houses burned and looted. The bodies of the victims lie on the ground", says Fr. Firmin Gbagoua, Vicar General of Bambari, the city of the Central African Republic, 300 km from the capital, Bangui, ravaged by the militiamen of Ali Darassa, at the head of the Union for Peace in Central Africa .
Last week, the UPC men attacked the gendarmerie, the police station, and the local base of MINUSCA . Not even the local NGO offices were spared while the Saint-Jean parish was sacked.
According to Médecins Sans Frontier at least 300 inhabitants of the city took refuge in the local hospital on the night of May 14 when the UPC assaulted the city.
The area of Bambari is strategic not only for its central position but also for the presence of gold and diamond mines.
At the end of March, Don Désiré Angbabata, parish priest of the Church of Séko, 60 km from Bambari, was killed in an assault on the village by the UPC .
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/HAITI - Apostolic commitment of the Camillian missionaries on the island after the hurricane

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 12:21
Ranja - "Since your arrival on the island you have brought great change to the life of the community: with your Gospel style of work you have accompanied people to their full recovery. This makes you different from the rest of the organizations": said Msgr. Joseph Gontrand Decoste, SJ, Bishop of Jeremie, addressing the Camillians, talking about the programs carried out after hurricane Matthew which on 4 October 2017 severely hit Haiti bringing death and devastation . Since then, the religious have carried out all kinds of activities to support the population and also for the reconstruction of infrastructures. Camillian Fr.Aris Miranda, MI, Executive Director of the Camillian Disaster Service International Foundation , told Fides that in June 2018 a second phase of assistance will begin in Ranja, Jeremie.
As Fides learns, the missionary, together with the director of CADIS USA, on a visit in Ranja accompanied by the Camillian Fr. Robert Daudier, engineer involved in the recovery operations went to Mgr. Decoste, who then invited the group to join him in the visit to the community of Ranja to show results obtained so far and the appreciation of the population towards their work.
They were accompanied by Marie Andree Dupont, one of the local project area coordinators, to visit the sites where the three main programs were implemented: the development of local farmers; access to clean water for personal and domestic use; the reconstruction of about 80 houses completely and partially damaged by the hurricane.
"The second phase - Father Aris told Fides - will focus on strengthening the capacity of farmers, the reorganization and the program of cooperation between women, strengthening the local market of their products, building a multi-purpose training center and the protection of the river basin area from soil erosion and aridity".
These interventions will be financed, among other bodies, by the Italian Episcopal Conference, CADIS USA by the Camillians and carried out in collaboration with the Camillian delegation in Haiti, with the diocese of Jeremie, with the Congregation of the Brothers of the Incarnation and with the community of Ranja.

Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Message for World Mission Day 2018: "Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all"

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 11:19
Vatican City – On the solemnity of Pentecost the message for World Mission Sunday 2018, to be held October 21, 2018 was released, on the theme: "Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all". This was announced by Pope Francis himself, during the Regina Coeli on Sunday 20 May, also recalling the 175 years of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Association.
"The event of Pentecost - the Pope said after the Marian prayer - marks the origin of the Church’s universal mission. Therefore, published today was the Message for the forthcoming World Mission Day. And I also like to recall that, observed yesterday, was the 175 years of the birth of the Children’s Missionary Work, which witnesses children as protagonists of the mission, with prayer and with small daily gestures of love and service. I thank and encourage all children who take part in spreading the Gospel in the world. Thank you!"
Here is the complete text of the Message.

"Dear young people, I would like to reflect with you on the mission that we have received from Christ. In speaking to you, I also address all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God. What leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us. «Mission revitalizes faith» , in the words of Saint John Paul II, a Pope who showed such great love and concern for young people.
The Synod to be held in Rome this coming October, the month of the missions, offers us an opportunity to understand more fully, in the light of faith, what the Lord Jesus wants to say to you young people, and, through you, to all Christian communities.
Life is a mission
Every man and woman is a mission; that is the reason for our life on this earth. To be attracted and to be sent are two movements that our hearts, especially when we are young, feel as interior forces of love; they hold out promise for our future and they give direction to our lives. More than anyone else, young people feel the power of life breaking in upon us and attracting us. To live out joyfully our responsibility for the world is a great challenge. I am well aware of lights and shadows of youth; when I think back to my youth and my family, I remember the strength of my hope for a better future. The fact that we are not in this world by our own choice makes us sense that there is an initiative that precedes us and makes us exist. Each one of us is called to reflect on this fact: «I am a mission on this Earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world» .
We proclaim Jesus Christ
The Church, by proclaiming what she freely received , can share with you young people the way and truth which give meaning to our life on this earth. Jesus Christ, Who died and rose for us, appeals to our freedom and challenges us to seek, discover and proclaim this message of truth and fulfillment. Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and His Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy. I can tell you this from my own experience: thanks to faith, I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them. I have seen great suffering and poverty mar the faces of so many of our brothers and sisters. And yet, for those who stand by Jesus, evil is an incentive to ever greater love. Many men and women and many young people have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters. From the cross of Jesus, we learn the divine logic of self-sacrifice as a proclamation of the Gospel for the life of the world . To be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love . At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: “What would Christ do if He were in my place?”
Transmitting the faith to the ends of the earth
You too, young friends, by your baptism have become living members of the Church; together we have received the mission to bring the Gospel to everyone. You are at the threshold of life. To grow in the grace of the faith bestowed on us by the Church’s sacraments plunges us into that great stream of witnesses who, generation after generation, enable the wisdom and experience of older persons to become testimony and encouragement for those looking to the future. And the freshness and enthusiasm of the young make them a source of support and hope for those nearing the end of their journey. In this blend of different stages in life, the mission of the Church bridges the generations; our faith in God and our love of neighbor are a source of profound unity.
This transmission of the faith, the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love, where joy and enthusiasm become the expression of a newfound meaning and fulfillment in life. The spread of the faith “by attraction” calls for hearts that are open and expanded by love. It is not possible to place limits on love, for love is strong as death . And that expansion generates encounter, witness, proclamation; it generates sharing in charity with all those far from the faith, indifferent to it and perhaps even hostile and opposed to it. Human, cultural and religious settings still foreign to the Gospel of Jesus and to the sacramental presence of the Church represent the extreme peripheries, the “ends of the earth”, to which, ever since the first Easter, Jesus’ missionary disciples have been sent, with the certainty that their Lord is always with them . This is what we call the missio ad gentes. The most desolate periphery of all is where mankind, in need of Christ, remains indifferent to the faith or shows hatred for the fullness of life in God. All material and spiritual poverty, every form of discrimination against our brothers and sisters, is always a consequence of the rejection of God and His love.
The ends of the earth, dear young people, nowadays are quite relative and always easily “navigable”. The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, Who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us . I dare say that, for a young man or woman who wants to follow Christ, what is most essential is to seek, to discover and to persevere in his or her vocation.
Bearing witness to love
I am grateful to all those ecclesial groups that make it possible for you to have a personal encounter with Christ living in His Church: parishes, associations, movements, religious communities, and the varied expressions of missionary service. How many young people find in missionary volunteer work a way of serving the “least” of our brothers and sisters , promoting human dignity and witnessing to the joy of love and of being Christians! These ecclesial experiences educate and train young people not only for professional success but also for developing and fostering their God-given gifts in order better to serve others. These praiseworthy forms of temporary missionary service are a fruitful beginning and, through vocational discernment, they can help you to decide to make a complete gift of yourselves as missionaries.
The Pontifical Mission Societies were born of young hearts as a means of supporting the preaching of the Gospel to every nation and thus contributing to the human and cultural growth of all those who thirst for knowledge of the truth. The prayers and the material aid generously given and distributed through the Pontifical Mission Societies enable the Holy See to ensure that those who are helped in their personal needs can in turn bear witness to the Gospel in the circumstances of their daily lives. No one is so poor as to be unable to give what they have, but first and foremost what they are. Let me repeat the words of encouragement that I addressed to the young people of Chile: “Never think that you have nothing to offer, or that nobody needs you. Many people need you. Think about it! Each of you, think in your heart: many people need me” .Dear young people, this coming October, the month of the missions, we will hold the Synod devoted to you. It will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and His mission, to the ends of the earth. I ask Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Saint Francis Xavier, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and Blessed Paolo Manna to intercede for all of us and to accompany us always.
From the Vatican, 20 May 2018, Solemnity of Pentecost

Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Consistory for 14 new Cardinals, 3 are Archbishops in mission territories

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 09:50
Vatican City - Speaking to pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter's Square on Pentecost Sunday, May 20 for the recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer, the Pope announced he would create new Cardinals at a Consistory on June 29th, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Three of them, the Archbishops of Karachi in Pakistan, Toamasina in Madagascar and Osaka in Japan, are Ordinaries of territories entrusted to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
"The countries of origin - said Pope Francis - express the universality of the Church, which continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men on Earth. Furthermore, the new Cardinals from the Diocese of Rome also show the inseparable link between the see of Peter and the particular Churches spread throughout the world".
The names of the new Cardinals: His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans; His Exc. Mgr. Luis Ladaria, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; His Exc. Mgr. Angelo De Donatis, Vicar General of Rome; His Exc. Mgr. Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Substitute of the Secretary of State and Special Delegate for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; His Exc. Mgr. Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of the Office of Papal Charities; His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Coutts, Archbishop of Karachi; His Exc. Mgr. António dos Santos Marto, Bishop of Leiria-Fátima; His Exc. Mgr. Pedro Barreto, Archbishop of Huancayo; His Exc. Mgr. Desiré Tsarahazana, Archbishop of Toamasina; His Exc. Mgr. Giuseppe Petrocchi, Archbishop of L'Aquila; His Exc. Mgr. Thomas Aquinas Manyo, Archbishop of Osaka.
"Alongside them - announced the Pope – I will also nominate to the College of Cardinals: an Archbishop, a Bishop and a priest who have distinguised themselves for their service to the Church: His Exc. Mgr. Sergio Obeso Rivera, Archbishop Emeritus of Xalapa; His Exc. Mgr. Toribio Ticona Porco, the emeritus of Corocoro; Fr. Aquilino Bocos Merino, a Spanish Claretian. Let us pray for the new Cardinals, so that by confirming their adherence to Christ, the Most Merciful and faithful High Priest, they will help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of the whole faithful People of God".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/ECUADOR - Pan Amazonian Network: "Cardinal Barreto, bearer of hope for the Amazon"

Fides EN - - Lun, 21/05/2018 - 09:37
Quito - "The appointment of Msg. Barreto as Cardinal has a very profound meaning, of great hope and profound responsibility: all of us who are close to him, commit ourselves to supporting him in this path of parrhesia that the Pope is indicating, to becoming an outgoing Church and with courage, and even more so in REPAM, which for us is a Kairos of God, to promote integral ecology": says to Agenzia Fides Mauricio Lopez , a Catholic layman, Executive Secretary of the "Pan Amazonian Network" regarding the news that Mgr. Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno, Archbishop of Huancayo, in Peru, was included by the Pope in the list of the new Cardinals he will appoint on 29 June.
Lopez recalls: "Mgr. Barreto is a prophet of integral ecology, he was before Laudato Sì and even more after Laudato Sì, that is why we must recognize his commitment. A short time ago, when we were in Rome for the meeting of the pre-Synodal Council of the Amazon, we remembered when he came to Ecuador for the first meeting in Puyo, thinking about the Amazonian Network. Mgr. Pedro said that the initiative of Repam was fruit of the Spirit".
"This spirit - he continues - we have lived in the context of REPAM: a spirit of brotherhood, learning to see the ability of others in defending life, welcoming the cries of peoples, and living a spirit of missionary Church".
Repam the Secretary concludes: "On other occasions, Archbishop Barreto spoke about the Amazon forest as a source of life for the world, for some this seemed exaggerated, but he went further, because he said that this was part of the Church's concern. To have the Amazon as a priority, to give it priority, to consider it the heart of the world: only men with a heart of integral ecology can understand it".

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/INDONESIA - Prayer and solidarity for the Christian victims of the Surabaya attacks

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 13:42
Surabaya - The Christian community of Surabaya is gathered around the families of the victims of the attacks on Sunday 13 May. As Fides learns, yesterday, May 17, the funeral rites of some of the victims killed in the suicide attacks against three Christian churches were held.
Vincentius Evan, 12, died instantly when a bomb exploded in front of the Catholic church of the Immaculate, and his eight-year-old brother Nathaniel died shortly afterwards in hospital. The mother of the two, Angelina Wenny, seriously injured in the attack, was allowed to leave the hospital to attend the funeral mass of her children, before returning to the nursing home.
One of the victims has yet to be formally recognized: Aloysius Bayu Wardhana, a young Catholic who works in the security services and is the father of a three-month-old child. The young man tried to prevent the suicide bombers from reaching the church of the Immaculate, crowded with believers, and exploded with the suicide bombers. His family is waiting for the results of the DNA test before his remains are released for burial. His wife and mother are in a state of profound sadness, and other family members think about the medical-bureaucratic procedures.
Among the victims of the attack on the Pentecostal Church there is a teenager, Daniel, who died with security officer Giricatur: the two tried to block the minivan driven by the attacker and died when the bomb exploded. In total, 36 people were killed in the attacks in Surabaya and Sumatra, between 13 and 16 May, including 13 kamikazes and their children.
Bishops and Christian leaders of all the confessions in these days are present in Surabaya to bring solidarity, consolation and encouragement, praying with the local Christian communities.
Categorie: From the church