ASIA/ISRAEL - After tensions with Turkey, the Knesset puts the recognition of the Armenian Genocide on the agenda

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 12:55
Jerusalem - The relations between Israel and Turkey have escalated recently in connection with the ongoing events in Gaza. As Turkey opposes Israel’s actions and strictly criticizes them, Israel, as a political step, put into circulation the bill on recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The proposal for this recognition - the Israeli media reported - was presented to the competent offices of the Knesset by center-left MP Itzik Shmuli, a member of the "Zionist Union", supported by at least 50 parliamentarians belonging to both the governing Parties - including Likud - and to those of the opposition. The draft law presented by Itzik Shmuli also provides for the establishment of an annual commemoration day in Israel for the Armenian Genocide. The same Shmuli, in statements relaunched by the Israeli media, pointed out that there is no reason "to treat the Turkish with particular delicacy, given the instigation against the State of Israel unleashed by Turkish President Erdogan". The same President of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, stated that he will do everything possible to facilitate the approval of the proposed law.
As reported by Fides , three months ago, the Israeli Parliament had in fact rejected a bill sponsored by Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid, which would have recognized the "Armenian Genocide" by Israel. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, declared that Israel will not take an official stance on the matter of the Armenian Genocide, "in light of its complexity and diplomatic repercussions".
On April 26, 2015, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted a commemorative event at the Presidential residence in Jerusalem to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the planned extermination of Armenians that had occurred a century before in Anatolia. During that ceremony, President Rivlin recalled that the Armenian people were "the first victims of modern mass exterminations", but he had avoided using the word "Genocide" to indicate the massacres in which more than one million and 500 thousand people died.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Bishops recommend: "Beware of the upcoming deadlines of the electoral calendar in view of the December vote"

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 12:25
Kinshasa - At least 15 people were killed during public demonstrations held from December 2017 to March 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to data collected by the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace in the 39 reports on election observation and the monitoring of public events, which the CEJP presented on May 15, 2018 at the inter-diocesan center of Kinshasa.
According to the CEJP reports of the 15 people killed, 14 were hit by gunshots and one was mortally intoxicated by tear gas. There were at least 226 wounded, of whom about 50 were hit by bullets; at least 396 demonstrators and organizers were arrested by the police and military forces.
From the end of December to March, the Comité Laic de Coordination organized a series of peaceful demonstrations throughout the DRC to put pressure on President Joseph Kabila to leave office, in accordance with the Constitution, and compliance with the New Year's Eve agreements of December 31, 2016. The demonstrations were brutally stopped by police and military who used tear gas and, in several cases, fired deadly bullets.
In addition to presenting demonstration reports, Fr. André Masinganda, 1st Deputy Secretary General of CENCO , presented some recommendations to the government, the Independent Electoral Commission , the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, courts, political parties, civil society organizations and the international partners of the DRC, ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections on December 23rd.
"We appeal to the Congolese people to pay particular attention to the implementation of important milestones in the electoral calendar, including the convening of the electorate on 23 June 2018 and the beginning of the reception and preparation of candidacies on 24 June 2018; and to ensure respect for the peaceful nature of public events", said Fr. Masinganda. Among other recommendations, CENCO asked the authorities to restore the security conditions in the areas of the country that do not have them, in order to avoid a further postponement of the elections, and to guarantee the freedom of demonstration envisaged by the Constitution.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/BRAZIL - Indigenous leaders: a greater presence of the Church in the most distant communities is urgent

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 12:03
Río Negro - Understanding the lives of indigenous peoples should lead us to reflect, to discover the value of what is fundamental in our daily life. This is what emerges from a conversation between Agenzia Fides and Braz Garrido Melgueiro, Catholic leader of the community of Iabe, located on the banks of the Rio Negro, in the Brazilian Amazon. The representative of the indigenous community says: "Here you live peacefully, nothing is lacking, we have fishmeal and manioc flour. Life in the city is another thing. Here we have our work, we owe nothing to anyone, we have space to hunt, fish, gather fruits in the forest ". The community leader, in his dialogue with Fides, says that "globalization is developing more and more dangers". For this reason, he is worried about "the arrival of foreigners threatening to exploit the region, we are afraid because we depend on nature to survive". He also recognizes some problems: "a greater presence of the Catholic Church, more visits, deepening of the knowledge of the Bible, catechesis, are needed, because teachers do not seem interested in our young people", emphasizes Braz Garrido Melgueiro .
With reference to the Synod on the Amazon, whose process is taking its first steps, on the search for new ways of evangelization in the more distant indigenous communities, the indigenous leader hopes that "the participants of the Synod are attentive to everyday life, visit the communities to see the reality in which they live: from a distance people do not know or understand our difficulties. Sometimes things can be written, but it would be better to come, visit and see our reality", he concludes.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CAMEROON - Humanitarian crisis in the English-speaking area of the country: Bishops exhort to dialogue

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 11:55
Yaoundé - The Bishops of Cameroon denounce "gruesome violence" while 160 thousand people are forced to flee to Cameroon and another 26 thousand to Nigeria. Caritas Cameroon reports "areas of conflict persecuted by fear and death". Soldiers "are burning villages, people live in the forests, they risk being killed if they even approach the edge of the road", reads a note sent to Fides by the local episcopate.
The Catholic Bishops of Cameroon have expressed their enormous concern condemning "the brutal repression of the army against an independence movement in the English-speaking regions of the country" that has fueled an escalation of humanitarian crisis.
It is a situation "marked by blind, inhuman, monstrous violence and by a radicalization of positions that alarm us a lot", the Bishops say in a declaration of May 16, signed by Archbishop Mgr. Samuel Kleda, President of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon.
"Let us stop all forms of violence and let us stop killing each other", the letter says. "Let us save our country from an unfounded and useless civil war".
No journalist is allowed to enter the conflict areas, but Caritas Camerun estimates that at least 150 people, including 64 civilians have been killed so far in the guerrillas between the army and separatists. The actual figures are probably much higher. Eyewitnesses who fled to Nigeria reported arrests and murders, torture of suspected separatists, violence against children and rape. "Not a week goes by without houses being burnt, people kidnapped or killed", writes Caritas Mamfé of southwest Cameroon, epicenter of the crisis.
"Fear has taken over this territory". Caritas launches an urgent fund-raising campaign "to help 5,000 refugees in Nigeria with emergency aid. On a visit to Mamfé, a Caritas representative reported that 45 thousand people in the diocese are displaced, leaving behind ghost villages: "The security situation is incredibly precarious and many have fled their homes to hide in the bush", he said.
Caritas is currently the only relief agency in the badly affected English-speaking areas of southwestern and northwestern Cameroon, which supplies food, water, medical supplies and shelter, but is very poor in resources.
"Only Caritas was, with difficulty, able to access these areas persecuted by fear and death", notes the operator.
On the other side of the border, Caritas Nigeria registered 25,624 Cameroonian refugees but, according to the UN, the total could be 40 thousand. Most of them are women and children. Only five refugees out of 100 have adequate shelter, the rest sleep in abandoned or open buildings.
The Bishops of Nigeria, warn that the influx of refugees in the States of Taraba, Benue, Akwa-Ibom and Cross River is worsening the poverty of local communities. "There is no food, shelter or drinking water" says a Nigerian village chief. "People are sick and die without care".
The episcopate exhorts both sides to dialogue: "We, the Bishops of Cameroon, believe that a mediation process must now be imposed to find a way out of the crisis. We are all brothers and sisters".
Cameroon is divided between its former French and British territories. In October, the activists of the English-speaking minorities, representing 20% of the population, declared the republic, challenging the government of President Paul Biya, dominated by France . In recent times, says Fr. Emmanual Bekomson of Caritas Calabar, "the crisis has worsened, especially in the areas of Mamfé, Limbe, Buea and Nsan Aragati". "We are going from bad to worse, in the last days deaths and abductions have increased", reports the abbot Kisito Balla Onana, director of Caritas Cameroon.

Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - The "revolution" of Missionary Childhood: for 175 years "children help children"

Fides EN - - Ven, 18/05/2018 - 11:46
Vatican City - "A new style of mission is born with the Missionary Childhood Society that focuses on the grace of baptism, from which springs the missionary nature of every Christian, and also recognizes the right of children to receive it and the duty to give it.
For the first time in the Church, children have become active subjects of evangelization, protagonists of pastoral care, in their simplicity and humility.
For 175 years this Society, also called Missionary Childhood, fulfills the mission of saving children with children". With these words Sister Roberta Tremarelli, AMSS, Secretary General of the Pontifical Childhood Missionary Society, explains to Agenzia Fides the particularity and novelty brought by this Society in the field of missionary animation and pastoral care of children, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary anniversary of itsfoundation.
On May 19, 1843, the Society of the Holy Childhood was officially born, and the will of the founder, Monsignor Charles de Forbin Janson is expressed in its name: to entrust it to the protection of the Child Jesus. Born in Paris in 1785, from an illustrious and Catholic family, Charles de Forbin Janson attended the Chapel of the Institute of Foreign Missions in Paris during the Seminary, thus entering in contact with the missionaries. He listened to the stories of their work in China and to the thousands of children whom priests and nuns welcomed, looked after, educated, baptized. His missionary spirit is further strengthened after his priestly ordination. At the age of 38 he was ordained Bishop of Nancy and immediately began to organize retreats and missions in all the parishes of his diocese.
He generously distributed his family wealth and only kept what was necessary for himself. During his absence from the diocese for pastoral commitments, the anticlerical looted the episcopal seminary and prevented him from returning to Nancy. This is when the sad period of exile began during which, however, he continued to think about the missionaries and children of China. After three years of mission in North America, he returned to France and, in Lyon he met Pauline Jaricot, the founder of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. What she had organized for adults in France, he organized for the children in France and the whole of Europe. The children helped their brothers and sisters, not just those of China but of all the missions of the world, with a short daily prayer and a small monthly sacrifice.
"The Society awakened European children to the needs of other children, with a new dimension of missionary awareness: to transmit a gaze and missionary heart since childhood", emphasizes the Secretary General of Missionary Childhood, who continues: Today the Society has taken root in more than 150 countries. Through the International Secretariat, which has its headquarters at Propaganda Fide, in Rome, the offers collected in every part of the world support thousands of solidarity projects that help the children of the 5 continents with the aim of providing them with necessary tools to be able to live life in a dignified way, both physical and spiritual. The areas of commitment are: Christian and missionary animation and formation, infancy, pre-school and school education pastoral care, protection of life".
The Society is helping about 20 million children in the world. In 2017, 2,834 projects were funded for a total of 17,431,260 dollars, through the Universal Solidarity Fund consisting of offers from children all over the world. Each type of funded project can and must be an opportunity and a tool for missionary animation.
"Even through this Society, the Church puts her motherhood at the service of children and their families - concludes Sister Roberta Tremarelli.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MYANMAR - Bishops' alarm: Over 7,000 Kachin Christians forced to flee

Fides EN - - Gio, 17/05/2018 - 13:26
Yangon - Over 7,000 Christian citizens belonging to the Kachin ethnic minority, in northern Myanmar, have been forced to abandon their homes due to the escalation of violence between the Burmese army and the Kachin independentist rebels. This is what Bishop Francis Daw Tang confirms to Agenzia Fides, at the head of the diocese of Myitkyina, in the state of Kachin.
The Bishop explains: "In early April, the Burmese army began to attack the region on the border with China. Many villages were attacked and the population started to flee. Many have been trapped in the jungle for at least three weeks, without food and without freedom to move, because they are suspected of being rebel collaborators". "The refugees - he continues - have come to the parish of Tanghpre. At the moment there are 243 families in the parish territory, a total of 1,200 people. Another 600 displaced people have arrived in Palana, in a Baptist church complex, and other groups have found shelter in other churches", he says, noting that the Caritas of Myanmar is assisting them. Yesterday, another 400 displaced civilians arrived in the capital of Kachin, Myitkyina, where there were already over 4,000 other refugees.
On what is happening in the north of the country, political analyst Stella Naw notes: "It is a war where civilians are systematically victims of the Burmese military, while the international community ignores this emergency", and puts the crisis next to the one that touches the Rohingya Muslims.
"It is an invisible war", says Than Htoi, a Christian who is a social worker in the state of Kachin. Following a bombing, the Christian school complex, Kachin Baptist Mission School was destroyed on May 11, says Htoi highlighting "military attacks against civilian targets".
Yanghee Lee, UN envoy for human rights, in his March report to the Human Rights Council, called for an immediate end to the fighting, saying: "What we are seeing is unacceptable: innocent civilians are killed and injured and hundreds of families are fleeing to save their lives".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/BURUNDI - Burundi votes in referendum on President Nkurunziza's power

Fides EN - - Gio, 17/05/2018 - 13:00
Bujumbura - 4.8 million voters are called to vote in Burundi today, for the referendum on the controversial constitutional review aimed at allowing the President Pierre Nkurunziza to remain in power for another 15 years, until 2034. The referendum is boycotted by the opposition and civil society groups, but President Nkurunziza has signed a decree that criminalises campaigns to boycott the vote.
The referendum campaign took place in a heavy climate of intimidation, as denounced by the Burundian Bishops themselves in their pastoral letter published in early May, stigmatizing "the actions of some Burundians who use violence and abuse the authority they hold to oppress the freedom of expression and opinion of their political opponents.
"Most Burundians live in fear, to the point that people do not dare say what they think, for fear of reprisals", denounce the Bishops, according to whom the proposal of constitutional reform goes against the same Constitutional Charter. "In fact, what is to be discussed is whether the provisions of Article 299 of the Constitution that currently governs us have been taken into consideration. This article states that no revision procedure can be applied if it undermines national unity, the cohesion of the Burundian people or reconciliation. According to what we can see, instead of uniting the Burundians, the work done and the resulting draft Constitution seem to have exacerbated the differences", the Bishops write.
In 2015 Nkurunziza already obtained a third mandate in contempt of the old Constitutional Charter and the Arusha Peace Agreements, provoking a very serious political crisis, which forced 400,000 Burundians to take refuge in neighboring countries. "With the new Constitution, Nkurunziza will be able to run in the elections to obtain two mandates of 7 years each, in order to remain in power for another 14 years, until 2034"m sources of the Church in Burundi told Fides.
"Many Burundians have been forced to register on the electoral roll for the referendum vote. The opposition is prevented from doing propaganda to invite the population to vote no in the referendum. Under these conditions it is therefore almost certain that the constitutional reform will be approved. Furthermore, the presidential elections of 2020 risk being a farce", concludes our sources.
President Nkurunziza is already preparing the 2020 elections, with a December 2017 ordinance which obliges Burundian citizens to contribute to their funding.
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - First day of National Dialogue: "the Church is bridge, hospital, mother"

Fides EN - - Gio, 17/05/2018 - 12:26
Managua - The "National Dialogue", started in Nicaragua to try to resolve the socio-political crisis of the country began yesterday in Managua, with the participation of President Daniel Ortega, entrepreneurs, civil society, university students and the Bishops of Nicaragua. The Dialogue is taking place in Our Lady of Fatima Interdiocesan Seminary, in the west of Managua, protected by a strong security device, which covers up to 1,000 meters around the Seminary, the seat chosen by the Episcopal Conference .
After the presentation on behalf of the Bishops, called into question as "mediators and witnesses" in the Dialogue, Ortega formally took the floor. Then it was the turn of civil society to present their ideas, followed by the students. Vice-President Murillo, Ortega’s wife, declared that there is full agreement that the "methodology and organization of this dialogue are established by the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference".
In the Message presented by Cardinal Brenes, Archbishop of Managua and President of CEN, sent to Agenzia Fides, it is stated: "We have accepted this difficult and complex challenge and we have committed ourselves as mediators and witnesses, the only possible way to to reconcile the highest aspirations of everyone. We are here to find together the possible ways out and solutions to the demands and expectations, complex and different, but essentially identical in their essence and supreme aspiration. Through dialogue and listening, we can help build a better world, making it a place of reception and respect, thus countering divisions and conflicts".
The Cardinal recalled the Church's mission in three points: "The Church is a bridge that, in this case, connects the distant points; the Church is a field hospital. We have many lives to save and wounds to heal, let us never forget it: what is at stake here are the people; the Church is a mother. In a family when brothers and sisters fight, the mother is in the middle". To conclude, the Cardinal asked the President to "carry out those positive steps of good will for the success of this National Dialogue, and the points that my brother Bishops presented to him in a letter sent in recent days" .
President Ortega said: "We have invited the International Commission on Human Rights to accompany this effort. We ask a list of how many deaths and disappearances there are in Nicaragua, and not to lie. We want the list to be delivered to the Bishops too, and we will show them that there is not one missing person, there is not a single prisoner, they have all been released".
While the student representative asked to stop the repression immediately, the President of the Higher Council of Private Enterprises , said that "the first thing is to ensure the safety of students, because this is a priority".
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - To focus on "common values": the wish of the "Silsilah" movement for the month of Ramadan

Fides EN - - Gio, 17/05/2018 - 12:01
Zamboanga - "In this month of Ramadan, sacred to the Muslim world, we wish to express solidarity with the Muslims and reaffirm the belief that Islam can help, among many things, in saying what the value of prayer, of fasting and of the attention to the needy is": this is what the message released by the "Silsilah" Muslim Christian movement, in Zamboanga, in the South of the Philippines, and sent to Agenzia Fides, says.
"We recall what the 2008 Catholic-Muslim Forum in Rome affirmed after the open letter of 138 Muslim religious leaders in the world of 2007, underlining that the love of God and one’s neighbor belong to the Christian faith and Islam. In that document we read: For Muslims, love is a timeless transcendental power that guides and transforms the mutual human gaze. This love, as revealed by the Holy and Prophet Muhammad, is a true love for the only true God. It is the loving compassion of God, even greater than that of a mother for her child".
"Silsilah" recalls that in that document common points between Christian and Muslim faith were reiterated as "the importance of human life, human dignity, respect for God's creation, the sincere love of neighbors, respect for religious minorities, the importance of education in human, civic, religious and moral values, the importance of love and harmony among believers, the ethical financial system, attention for young people".
"Today we wish to reaffirm the will of Muslims and Christians to move together according to the love of God, love of neighbor and love for the common good. This is the wish of Silsilah in the holy month of Ramadan", says the text.
In 2018, notes the message "let us reflect on our mission in the midst of increasing violence and conflict in Mindanao. We are alarmed by many signs of violence, especially among Muslim groups fighting in the name of Islam".
Silsilah is a movement that, founded in 1984 by the missionary of PIME, Sebastiano d'Ambra, began to invite Muslims and Christians to build together a "chain" of love, in the conviction of belonging to the same human family, created by the same God. The basic idea is to cultivate the "spirituality of life in dialogue", which embraces four dimensions: dialogue with God, with oneself, with others and with creation.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/CHINA - Inauguration of a statue of St. John Wu Wen Yin, canonized in 2000

Fides EN - - Gio, 17/05/2018 - 10:41
Han Dan - The statue of St. John Wu Wen Yin, a catechist and Chinese martyr canonized on 1 October 2000 by Pope John Paul II, was inaugurated. As reported by the website of the diocese of Han Dan, in the province of Hebei, consulted by Agenzia Fides, the blessing and unveiling of the new statue took place during a solemn celebration presided over by the diocesan chancellor Don Pietro Zhou Qing Gang, with 35 priests with celebrants and numerous faithful.
During the Mass, the new altar of the parish of Dong Er Tou was also consecrated, where the saint was born. In his homily, the Chancellor recalled the courageous testimony of faith of this saint who was fervent in faith, was the guide of his community, engaged in social works and was inspired by the profound faith of his mother. Peter Zhou therefore invited all the faithful to follow his footsteps because "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians".
Born in 1850 in the village of Dong Er Tong of Yong Nian , John Wu Wen Yin was a catechist and a fervent Catholic. In the persecution unleashed by the Boxers , he was tortured and condemned to death for having refused to abandon the Christian doctrine. His mother told him to remain firm in faith and he replied: "Do not worry, mother. Please take care of my orphans because I am going to martyrdom. See you in the heavenly house of the Father ". He was killed at the age of 50.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/HOLY LAND - Catholic Bishops: the massacre in Gaza could have been avoided. Jerusalem can also be the capital of Palestine

Fides EN - - Mer, 16/05/2018 - 13:32
Jerusalem - The dozens of deaths and about 3 thousand people wounded during the Palestinian protests organized at the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel could have been avoided "if non-lethal tools had been used by the Israeli forces". The Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land are pointing their finger at the Israeli army, who yesterday, Tuesday, May 15, issued a statement about the tragic events that bring bloodshed to the land where Jesus Christ was born, died and resurrected. In their message, released through the official channels of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and also sent to Agenzia Fides, the Ordinary Catholic Bishops' Assembly of the Holy Land calls to end the siege imposed on about two million Palestinians in Gaza Strip as soon as possible.
The Catholic Bishops add that the relocation of the US Embassy in the State of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, like any other unilateral moves and decisions about the Holy City of Jerusalem, "does not contribute to advancing the long awaited peace between Israelis and Palestinians". And they also refer to the need, insistently referred to by the Holy See, to make Jerusalem "a city open to all peoples, the religious heart of the three monotheistic religions", avoiding unilateral measures that could alter the profile of the Holy City. "We believe", say the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, "that there is no reason that could prevent the City from being the capital of Israel and Palestine,", adding that this should be done through "negotiation and mutual respect".
The Assembly of ordinary Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land gathers all the Bishops of the Catholic Churches - Latin, Greek Melkite, Armenian, Maronite, Chaldean and Syrian Catholic - present in that region, together with the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land. On Tuesday, May 15, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, also invited "all priests, religious men and women, seminarians, all the faithful of Jerusalem and those who wish "to take part in the prayer vigil for peace that will be celebrated in the afternoon of next Saturday, on the eve of Pentecost, in the church of Sant'Etienne.
Since March 30, when Palestinian demonstrations started along the Israeli border line, at least 110 Palestinian demonstrators have been killed and more than 3,000 have been wounded in the Gaza Strip.

Categorie: From the church

ASIA/MALAYSIA - The Bishops: pray for peace and reconciliation after the elections, in the "new Malaysia"

Fides EN - - Mer, 16/05/2018 - 13:11
Kuala Lumpur - "We exercised our democratic right of vote on May 9, 2018. Malaysia has a golden opportunity, the future lies in the hands of the people. We Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, propose a moment of prayer and thanksgiving for our beloved nation during the Pentecost Novena, between 12 and 20 May": says a message signed by the Bishops of Malaysia and sent to Agenzia Fides, the day after the political elections. For the first time in the history of the nation, the vote saw the victory of the opposition coalition, compared to the "National Front" that governed for 60 years .
"We are grateful for a matured electorate" the Bishops say, noting that, thanks to the commitment of the Election Commission officials and thousands of volunteers, the vote took place peacefully, in a transparent and almost incident-free manner.
The Bishops appreciate the effort to build "a new Malaysia" where "freedom and justice are guaranteed to all", where "everyone can live in peace and harmony without suspicion of one another as fellow citizens".
"Many people - the text notes - have expressed feelings of joy in being Malaysian first. This really is a grace of God given freely to everyone. This manifested itself even in the course of these elections. We have witnessed humility and the seeking of forgiveness for past mistakes. We have seen reconciliation offered and received and a love for peace and harmony".
Citing a passage from the Letter of John, "as long as we love one another, God will live in us and his love will be complete in us", , the Malaysian Episcopate notes: "We all need to continue praying for Malaysia, we must pray for healing and unity among all of us, let the Church also press the "Reset" button. Let us try to be inclusive. Let us try to be creative. Let us try to be builders of bridges. We want to pray for God to give blessings and prosperity to all Malaysians".
With this spirit, the Malaysian Church recommends all the communities scattered throughout the territory to offer a mass of thanksgiving, live an hour of adoration and prayer, include a special prayer intention for peace in the country. And encourages all citizens to personal commitment to peace and unity. "May the love of God and love for this nation, keep us united", concludes the message
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/KENYA - The diocese of Nakuru launches a collection of aid for the victims of the Solai dam

Fides EN - - Mer, 16/05/2018 - 12:45
Nairobi - "I personally went there and saw the destruction caused by the dam where many people lost their lives and properties destroyed. I appeal to you all to give a special contribution from 13th, May 2018, to the Sunday of Pentecost, which will be on 20th, May 2018. This can be in form of finances, food, clothing, blankets and in any other way that you can to help the Victims", urged His Exc. Mgr. Maurice Muhatia Makumba, Bishop of Nakuru, reporting on his visit to the population affected by the collapse of the Solai dam, which caused 45 deaths and left more than 100 people homeless .
In his speech on the occasion of the World Day of Social Communications, Mgr. Muhatia addressed in particular the 50 parishes of the diocese and all people of good will, to help support the efforts of the local Caritas that assists the victims of the tragedy that occurred. On May 9th. Mgr. Muhatia announced that the Caritas office will coordinate the collection and distribution of offers to ensure that they reach those in need.
The Bishop also asked members of the public to cease sharing photos of dead bodies of Solai victims as they are causing more harm and pain to their loved ones. "How does it help by sharing photos of nude bodies of children and adults? He asked, calling on all people to respect the dignity of a human person and instead start giving a positive image of what is being done on the ground. "Let us ask God to open our hearts that instead of always looking at the negatives in the society, that we may also see the good that other people do", he concluded.
Since March, Kenya has been plagued by torrential rains that have caused great damage in several areas of the Country and about 250,000 displaced people.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - High taxes: Catholic radios risk closing

Fides EN - - Mer, 16/05/2018 - 12:35
Juba - The National Communications Authority has imposed very high annual taxes for the registration of local radio stations. This is a major challenge for all stations belonging to the Catholic Radio Network , as some of those present in South Sudan are forced to close, unable to bear these costs. During a coordination meeting which just ended in Juba, Father Elario Bazia Boro, director of "Anisa Radio", in the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio, said that the National Ministry of Information asked all the stations of CRN members a registration tax of 5,500 US dollars per year. In the note sent to Fides, Fr. Bazia adds that private radios are asked to pay $ 20,000 and $ 1,500 to government radio stations.
"The broadcasters of the CRN network are non-profit radio stations, mainly engaged for religious and social reasons" the director explained, assuring the listeners of Anisa Radio in Yambio that CRN will continue to discuss with the government to resolve the issue in a friendly manner.
"Through Radio Anisa, Caritas of South Sudan has launched a humanitarian appeal for 2018 in support of the needy", said the director of the Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in the diocese of Tombura-Yambio, Fr. John Ngbapia.
According to the participants, during the three-day meeting in Juba the need to strengthen the campaign to mobilize funds favoring Caritas in support of so many people was reaffirmed. Currently the Caritas South Sudan funds are not sufficient to cover the needs of every single diocese in the country.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/CHINA - During the Marian month, new workers in the "most isolated vineyards of the Lord"

Fides EN - - Mer, 16/05/2018 - 10:57
Beijing - By entrusting themselves to the maternal intercession and protection of the heavenly Mother, new priests were ordained in mainland China in the Marian month: we are talking about "new workers in the most isolated and difficult vineyards of the Lord" like the provinces of Gui Zhou and Hai Nan. According to the information reported on the website of two Chinese dioceses, consulted by Agenzia Fides, for the province of Hai Nan, an island of 33,920 km with 9 million inhabitants, including about 6,000 Catholics, this is the third ordination of a priest in its history. The province of Gui Zhou, which is the poorest in the country, has welcomed as many as 4 new priests.
Over 20 priests, some seminarians and dozens of nuns from mainland celebrated the historic moment with the faithful of the Catholic community of Hai Nan: the third priest in the history of the community is a young man from the Archdiocese of Xian, in the province of Shaanxi, but incardinated at the Apostolic Prefecture of Hai Kou, the capital of Hai Nan. The community of Hai Nan is young, small but fervent in faith and apostolic activity and in evangelization, thanks to the presence of "basic communities".
"The one to priesthood is a call that requires to dedicate one’s whole life", said Mgr. Paolo Xiao Ze Jiang Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Gui Yang, capital of the province of Gui Zhou before thousands of faithful present at the ordination of the priesthood. In the province of Gui Zhou there is the Archdiocese of Gui Yang, the Diocese of An Long and the Apostolic Prefecture of Shi Qian with over 155,000 faithful and 37 priests in all. Now, as the Archbishop said, "these new fruits of the Word of God will bring new lifeblood to the whole body". At the end of the celebration, the newly consecrated thanked for their spiritual and material support, declaring "to live this new journey as a path to holiness".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/NICARAGUA - "National Dialogue" begins: the Church is mediator and witness

Fides EN - - Mar, 15/05/2018 - 15:32
Managua - The Catholic Church in Nicaragua, through the Episcopal Conference , has announced that "National Dialogue" in Nicaragua will begin on Wednesday 16 May. In his announcement, Cardinal Brenes emphasized the role of the Church as "a mediator and witness", but at the same time he pointed out the topic to be discussed: "the institutionalism of the country to move towards democratization". Cardinal Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, read the statement prepared by CEN representatives and said that "the conditions for dialogue are not the best, but dialogue will nevertheless take place in Nuestra Señora de Fátima seminar". Yesterday Cardinal Brenes recalled that important agreements must be reached in this dialogue, but the violence that rages on the streets of some cities must be immediately stopped.
Agenzia Fides had published the contents of the Bishops’ letter to President Daniel Ortega, with the four conditions in order to continue the dialogue: to allow the entry of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in the country; to stop the action of paramilitary bodies; to stop repression and give credible signs of willingness to dialogue , simply to accept to act as a mediator in this National Dialogue.
The Nicaraguan Cardinal added that he was saddened by the news of the clashes that occurred in recent days in Sébaco and Matagalpa, demanding that all violence be stopped. On Saturday 12, vice-president Rosario Murillo, Daniel Ortega’s wife, replied to the Episcopal Conference, accepting the conditions: "We are ready to materialize the appeal for dialogue as soon as possible, for the tranquility of all Nicaraguans". However, on the same day of Saturday, the special forces carried out a new action of violent repression in the city of Masaya, the cradle of folklore and craftsmanship of the country, causing two victims and a hundred were injured. On Sunday, May 13, the priests called for calm in many parishes, without ceasing to continue to support the people who want a real democratization of the country.
The country lives hours of tension and uncertainty: even if through their representatives, students and entrepreneurs confirmed their presence at the table of dialogue, the people do not trust the authorities because of the continuing repression of the military forces of the government .
From his Twitter profile, the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Mgr. Silvio José Báez, revealed that, despite priests continue to receive intimidation and telephone threats, "we must not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by irresponsible emotion and rage and not even from fear and even less from violence".
The question of inviting the "Inter-American Commission for Human Rights" to investigate acts of violence during protests, which have caused the death of over 60 people, remains open.
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Protest demonstration promoted by the Bishops against massacres of Christians committed by the Fulani

Fides EN - - Mar, 15/05/2018 - 12:46
Abuja - A mass demonstration in Nigeria is being organized for May 22 by the nation’s Catholic Bishops in Nigeria to protest the continued killing of Christians by Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
Since the beginning of the year more than 100 people have died in these attacks. The last one was carried out on April 24th in the parish of St. Ignatius of Ukpor-Mbalom in Mbalom, in the Gwer East Local Government Area in the State of Benue .
According to a press release from the Nigerian Episcopal Conference, sent to Agenzia Fides, the protest demonstration will be held in Makurdi, the capital of the Benue State, which is part of the so-called Middle Belt, in the center of Nigeria which divides the North, mainly Muslim, from the south largely inhabited by Christians. The two murdered priests, April 24, will be buried the same day.
In the statement the Secretary General of the Nigerian Episcopal Conference, Fr. Ralph Madu, invited all the dioceses in the country "to organize a peaceful rally or rosary procession or any other appropriate demonstration of solidarity while the protest is happening in Makurdi".
However, Fr.Madu encouraged as many people as possible to travel to Makurdi for the national demonstration.
“Bishops who can make it to Makurdi for the funeral Mass are encouraged to do so, as we pray that this directive be communicated to the clergy, religious and the faithful in the most effective way possible", the statement said.
The Nigerian Bishops, who at the end of April were in Rome for the ad limina visit, had issued a statement in which they said they were shocked and saddened by the massacre in which the two priests had been killed , and had accused state authorities of not doing everything possible to put an end to the violence, to the point of asking President Muhammadu Buhari "to step down with honor to save the nation from complete collapse".
Categorie: From the church

AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Hispanic/Latin Pastoral Meeting, racism and religious freedom among the topics on the Bishops' agenda

Fides EN - - Mar, 15/05/2018 - 12:33
Washington - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced that it will hold its Annual General Assembly on June 13-14, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
According to the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, on that occasion the Bishops will address a variety of topics including ethical and religious directives for Catholic healthcare services, a pastoral response to Asian and Pacific Island Catholics in the US, and the upcoming XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on "Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment", to be held in October in the Vatican, and World Youth Day in January 2019 in Panama.
During the Assembly, Bishop Nelson Pérez, Bishop of Cleveland, chairman of the USCCB's Cultural Diversity Subcommittee on Hispanic Affairs, will offer the Bishops an update on the V Hispano/Latin Pastoral Meeting, a major national event to be held from 20 to 23 September in Grapevine, Texas. Thus far, the preliminary path has engaged hundreds of thousands of Latino Catholics during local and regionally held meeting events across the U.S. Approximately 3000 diocesan delegates representing the dioceses throughout the country who will take part in the V Meeting of Grapevine.
Mgr. Shelton J. Fabre, Bishop of Houma-Thibodaux, member of the Cultural Diversity's African American Affairs Chair and Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, is also expected to provide a brief update to the General Assembly on the Pastoral Letter on Racism and report on the activities of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
In addition, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, will give a brief update on activities of the Committee, including the committee's promotion of "Serving Others in God's Love: Religious Freedom Week".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/EGYPT - The mortal remains of the "Coptic Martyrs of Libya" return to Egypt

Fides EN - - Mar, 15/05/2018 - 12:17
Samalut - On the evening of Monday, May 14 church bells and monasteries rang throughout Egypt to celebrate the return to Egypt of the mortal remains of the 21 Coptic Christians, "martyrs of the faith", beheaded in Libya in 2015 by cutthroats affiliated to the so-called Islamic State . After three years and three months since that barbaric massacre, the mortal remains of the victims were transported by plane from the Libyan city of Misrata to Cairo, where, at the moment of disembarkation, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II was also present to pay homage to them, together with Mrs Nabila Makram, Egyptian Minister for Immigration. Anba Makarios, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Minya, in some statements reported by the Egyptian media said that the Coptic Church welcomes with joy the return to Egypt of her children martyred in Libya, thanking the Lord for their testimony of faith.
The bodies of the "martyrs of Libya" will be taken to the village of al Our, near the town of Samalut, in the province of Minya, where 13 of the 21 martyrs were from, and laid down in the new church-sanctuary purposely built to cherish their memory , solemnly inaugurated last February 15th.
The 21 Egyptian Copts had been kidnapped in Libya in early January 2015. The video of their decapitation was shown on jihadist sites on February 15th. Just a week after their brutal act, Orthodox Catholic Patriarch Tawadros II decided to register the 21 martyrs in the Synaxarium, the book of martyrs of the Coptic Church, establishing that their memory was to be celebrated on February 15 .
The bodies had been identified at the end of last September in a mass grave on the Libyan coast near the town of Sirte, with their hands tied behind their back, wearing the same orange-colored tracksuits they wore in the macabre video filmed by the executioners at the time of their decapitation. Even the heads of the victims were found next to their bodies.
The repatriation of the mortal remains of the martyrs of Egypt, repeatedly announced by the Egyptian media, took longer than expected. Meanwhile, DNA tests allowed to identify the individual bodies of the 21 martyrs.
"The video depicting their execution – said after the massacre Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Catholic Emeritus Bishop of Guizeh – had the intention of spreading terror. During their barbaric execution, the victims repeated 'Lord Jesus Christ'. The name of Jesus was the last word on their lips. As in the passion of the first martyrs, they put their trust in Him who would soon receive them. And so they celebrated their victory, the victory that no executioner can take away from them".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REP. - The Muslim Christian population calls for peace and justice

Fides EN - - Mar, 15/05/2018 - 11:41
Bangui - While violence continues in the Central African Republic, in particular in Bangui and the peace process is inevitably interrupted, most people want only justice and peace: "The situation is really complex - says to Agenzia Fides a local priest who asks for anonymity - the expectations and needs of people are enormous. As a Church, we would like to continue to promote the pastoral care of reconciliation and reconstruction by integrating mission, faith and life; dialogue, reconciliation and coexistence; reconstruction, social promotion and human development. Let us focus on the deepening of the Christian faith, justice, interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and human development. The local Church is committed to rebuilding bridges among people, rebuilding trust, awakening civic awareness towards religious freedom, respect for life, for the sense of the State, the common good and the general interest".
Despite the strong presence of the Islamic community in the country, introduced in 1870 by isolated Islamic traders from neighboring countries in the North and East there are testimonies of interreligious collaboration between Christians and Muslims that the RCA can offer to the world. Many remember Pope Francis's meeting with the Islamic community in the Central Mosque in Bangui on November 30, 2015.
At the time, the Holy Father said: "In these dramatic times, Christian and Muslim leaders have sought to rise to the challenges of the moment. They have played an important role in re-establishing harmony and fraternity among all".
This search for peace takes place within the framework of the 'Platform of Religious Confessions of Central Africa' which brings together Christians and Muslims to help improve the socio-political and cultural environment in the CAR, invoking national cohesion and peace.
With the UN mandate, positive results have been guaranteed so far, such as the security for the visit of the Holy Father in November 2015, the interposition between the belligerents, facilitation of dialogue, regular consultation with the government. The peace process in the Central African Republic involves the interaction of several elements: the elections, the UN mission , the rehabilitation of the Central African armed forces, the ceasefire agreements, the establishment of the special Criminal Court, the National Plan for the Recovery and Construction of Peace.
Categorie: From the church