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ASIA/CHINA - Catholics prepare themselves for the day of prayer for the Church in China

2 ore 17 sec fa
Beijing - The Chinese Catholics celebrated the solemnity of Pentecost preparing for what is for them the most awaited event of the Marian month: the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which is held every year on 24 May, which coincides with the feast of Mary Help of Christians. The Day of Prayer was established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Letter to Chinese Catholics, published in 2007.
According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, in various local communities the sacrament of Confirmation was administered to dozens of adults during the liturgy of the feast of Pentecost .
This year the traditional Marian devotion of Chinese Catholic communities was also expressed in unprecedented forms. On May 12th, the biblical theatrical company "Guang Hua", of the Archdiocese of Ji Nan, opened its tour in the diocese, with a show dedicated to the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Lourdes.
Also the pilgrims of the Marian Shrine of Hu Xian, in the Province of Shaan Xi, and many other communities have joined the journey of the Christian people toward May 24, the culmination of the Marian month for Chinese Catholics.
Categorie: From the church

VATICAN - Pope Francis: let us pray to Our Lady of Sheshan for reconciliation among Chinese Catholics

2 ore 27 min fa
Rome - The Feast of the Virgin Mary "Help of Christians", particularly venerated in the Marian shrine of Sheshan, near Shanghai, "invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China". The Pope’s prayer came at the end of today’s general audience and on the eve of the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, "so that they may live their faith with generosity and serenity, and so that they may carry out concrete gestures of fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter". Since 2008, the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, established by Pope Benedict XVI, is celebrated on May 24th, all over the world. Referring to this anniversary, Pope Francis also addressed the "dearest disciples of the Lord in China", reminding them that "the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even amid difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to the will of God. Our Lady will never fail to help you and will safeguard you with her maternal love".

In the Letter to Chinese Catholics, signed on May 27, 2007, on the solemnity of Pentecost, Benedict XVI had suggested that May 24, dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians - venerated "with such devotion in the Marian shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai" - could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China". To this end, the then reigning Pontiff had established on that date the "Day of Prayer for the Church in China", to be celebrated in all the Catholic communities of the world. "I encourage you to celebrate it" wrote Benedict XVI "by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible. I remind you, moreover, of the commandment that Jesus gave us, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, as well as the invitation of the Apostle Saint Paul: «First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth» ".
In that letter the Pontiff, always addressed to Chinese Catholics, had also added that on that same day "the Catholics of the whole world - in particular those who are of Chinese origin - will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure".
Categorie: From the church

AFRICA/NIGERIA - "The State must guarantee the security of citizens" ask the Bishops on the day of the funeral of the victims of the massacre committed in April

2 ore 58 min fa
Abuja - The State must protect all citizens, regardless of their ethnic or religious affiliation, otherwise Nigeria risks falling into chaos and generalized terror. This is the alarm launched by the Nigerian Bishops, yesterday, May 22, on the day in which the funeral of the 17 victims of the massacre committed on 23 April in the village of Mbalom, in the State of Benue was held.
Among the victims there are two priests: Fr. Joseph Gor and Fr. Felix Tyolaha.
While the funeral was being held, the Nigerian Episcopal Conference promoted a day of mobilization to protest about the continuous massacres of Christians committed by Fulani herders .
"As humans we are plunged into sorrow and many of us will not recover from the shock for a very long time. There have been unexplainable and inexcusable spate of killings in Benue before April 23 when these matyrs were killed and more have been killed thereafter", said Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, in his homily during the funerals of the victims of the massacre of Mbalom, at the Se Sugh U Maria Pilgrimage Center, in Ayati, in the State of Benue.
"This cannot be allowed to continue. Every human life is precious to God who made us in his image. One life killed is one life too many. This is not the time to count the number of the dead but killing people either in churches or mosques is an affront against God", added the Cardinal who reaffirmed that the authorities must intervene to ensure the safety of all.
A concept reiterated by His Exc. Mgr. Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of Lagos, during a requiem mass for the victims of Mbalom. "President Muhammadu Buhari should act fast and try to restore the confidence of the people; he is the authority and father of the nation. We urge the president to intervene in this problem in a more divisive way in order to save the country from tribal or religious war, we say all of these with due sense of patriotism for our nation Nigeria, because we believe in the strength and unity of Nigeria", said Mgr. Martin.
After the massacre of Mbalom, the Bishops had issued a strong statement in which they asked President Buhari to step aside if he was not able to guarantee the safety of all Nigerians.
Categorie: From the church

ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Marawi a year after the siege: the mission of the Church between dialogue and reconstruction

3 ore 16 min fa
Marawi - On May 23, a year ago, the invasion of terrorist groups linked to the Islamic State that barricaded themselves in the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao began. Over 360,000 refugees were forced to flee the city, while the siege of the Philippine army began, which lasted five months of intense fighting.
Today, Christians and Muslims are committed to promoting peace and harmony in Marawi. "The Prelature of Marawi works tirelessly to promote peace, respect, equality and love between Christians and Muslims in our community", says Maria Teresa Soriano, a Catholic university professor in Marawi to Fides. Priests, nuns and lay people are working to motivate and inspire young and old people to commit themselves to rebuilding their lives and homes in the immediate aftermath of the destruction, notes Soriano. Bishop Edwin de la Peña, at the head of the Prelature of Marawi launched an appeal to all the people "to work together for the reconstruction of Marawi". Meanwhile, the government has started rebuilding the city and the rehabilitation of displaced persons with a detailed plan, through the assistance of international humanitarian agencies and governments around the world. It may take about four years to rebuild the city.
However, the alarming presence of radical groups that are gathering in the regions of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, in rural areas outside the city of Marawi and in other provinces of Mindanao has not ceased.
The security situation in Mindanao continues to remain precarious and the martial law is still in force. The National Secretariat for Social Action - which is Caritas of the Philippines - has launched and distributed a collection of funds for the rehabilitation program underway in the city of Marawi in all dioceses.
In particular, the Caritas of the diocese of Manila assisted the displaced families in Marawi, providing food and hygiene assistance, means of subsistence, psycho-social support to children and welcoming about 500 displaced, Christian and Muslim families. "It is urgent to witness the mercy and love of Christ to those who need it in Marawi", explained Fr. Anton CT Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas Manila.
Categorie: From the church

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

3 ore 36 min fa
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

4 ore 26 min fa
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"

4 ore 46 min fa
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"

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"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"

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

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"

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

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

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