Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAFRICA/UGANDA - Places of worship reopened after closure due to the second wave of Covid-19 - The Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has announced the imminent reopening of places of worship after an interruption of over a year. In June 2020 all churches in the country were closed due to the sharp increase in corona-virus infections and closed to the public. According to the “Ugandan Catholics Online” portal, Museveni gave precise instructions. "The number of believers must not exceed 200, provided the place of worship can have a distance of 2 meters on either side and adequate ventilation, full compliance with all mandatory regulations, including hand washing / use of alcohol-based disinfectants, temperature monitoring and ensure that all believers, including the choir and the celebrants, wear face masks at all times". <br />The president called on Catholic leaders to work with the government to encourage the population to vaccinate and to comply with all other control measures. As of September 22, 2021, there were 123,502 confirmed COVID-19 infections, 3,135 deaths and 340 admissions to private and public hospitals in Uganda. <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 13:35:00 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The kerygma as the central point of evangelization - With the aim of continuing the commitment of evangelization in these times of pandemic and post-pandemic, the Center for Missionary Animation of the Bishops' Conference of Colombia launched an educational program to illustrate the central importance of the Christian kerygma in all evangelizing activities of the Church. As explained in the note sent to Fides, Father Ramiro Antonio López, Director of the Missionary Animation Department of the Episcopal Conference, in a communication on the initiative, the course consists of seven virtual meetings that take place free of charge on the Zoom platform from October 5th to November 16th every Tuesday at 7 p.m. "The Kerygma is the basic content of evangelization, it is the first message we receive - says the priest -. We saw the need to present this kerygma with a missionary nuance, that is, testimony and experience, with understandable language that can reach all of God's people. This course will have a very strong missionary character, which is why we want to start it in October, which is dedicated to world missions". <br />Lay people, religious and priests who want to study this topic in more depth and better prepare themselves to walk the path of evangelization are invited to participate. The basic topics of the course elements are: Introduction to the kerygma; God's love; God sent his Son to save us; whoever believes will be saved; Conversion and belief in the Gospel; the children of God are born of the Spirit only. <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 13:29:56 +0200VATICAN - Pope Francis to the Bishops of Europe: let us ask the saints for help, instead of complaining about bad times - "So many people in Europe see the faith as déja vu, a relic of the past". This happens "Because they have not seen Jesus at work in their own lives. Often this is because we, by our lives, have not sufficiently shown him to them. God makes himself seen in the faces and actions of men and women transformed by his presence". Thus Pope Francis once again reminded all the baptized that the Christian faith is confessed and communicated in the world through witness, understood not as the 'mobilization' of pastoral apparatuses and operators, but as a reflection of the change that Christ himself can work in the lives of those who bear his name. The opportunity taken by the Bishop of Rome to re-propose the intimate dynamism of each mission and of each apostolic work was the Eucharistic concelebration which he presided over on the afternoon of Thursday, September 23 in St. Peter's Basilica with the participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, , on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its establishment. <br />Addressing bishops belonging to Churches of ancient foundation, the Successor of Peter outlined the paths that should be followed and the criteria that should be followed in order to re-propose the salvation announced by the Gospel also to those who today live in the countries of the Old Continent, marked by advanced processes of de-Christianization. <br />Pope Francis recalled with realism the most striking effects produced in Europe by the "deforestation" of Christian memory. In European lands - the Pope acknowledged - "all around us churches are emptying and Jesus is increasingly forgotten". And this happens primarily not because the current inhabitants of Europe are evil, but because there is no one to awaken in them a hunger for faith and to satisfy that thirst in the human heart, that “innate and perpetual thirst” of which Dante speaks and which the dictatorship of consumerism gently but insistently tries to suppress". In such conditions - the Pope added - the Christians of Europe seem taken by a sort of torpor: they appear "calm because basically we have everything we need to live", and they do not seem to allow themselves to be overcome by the restlessness that they should feel "into seeing so many brothers and sisters far from the joy of Jesus". <br />In his homily, the Pontiff briefly and effectively referred to the false solutions, the misleading attitudes and the inconclusive reactions that prevail in ecclesial circles in the face of the loss of any vital relationship between Christianity and the real experience of the European population. The first of the "wrong answers" quickly reviewed by the Pope is that of those who complain about the world and accuse the wickedness of the times: "It is easy", noted the Bishop of Rome, "to judge those who do not believe or to list the reasons for secularization, relativism and many other isms, but in the end it is sterile". The other path that leads astray is that of withdrawal that seeks protection and consolation by creating happy islands, conceived as 'worlds apart': "Today in Europe" - Pope Francis remarked - we Christians are tempted to stay comfortable in our structures, in our homes and in our churches, in our certainties given by traditions, in the fulfillment of a certain consensus". An introversion that often ends up taking the forms of ecclesial self-employment, the drift that pushes many to "concentrate on various positions in the Church, on discussions, agendas and strategies, and losing sight of the real program, that of the Gospel". These misleading reactions often have the only effect of expanding the desert. Because "if Christians, instead of radiating the contagious joy of the Gospel, re-propose worn out, intellectualistic and moralistic religious schemes", the Pontiff pointed out, "people do not see the Good Shepherd. They do not recognize the One who, in love with each of his sheep, calls them by name and looks for them in order to put them on his shoulders". <br />In the homily he gave before the European bishops, the Successors of Peter did not however limit himself to warning against temptations and reactivity that can ensnare the ecclesial apparatuses. The Pontiff also suggested where, by grace, a restart of the apostolic work in European lands can come. <br />First of all, the Bishop of Rome invited everyone to draw again on the "living Tradition" of the Church, an inextinguishable source that has nothing to do with the clerical fashions marked by "that restorationism of the past that kills us, kills us all". Drawing on the living Tradition of the Church - the Pope remarked - helps to "look to the future together, not to restore the past". It is always advisable to "rebuild from the foundations, from the roots - the Pontiff insisted - because that is where rebuilding starts: from the Church’s living tradition, which is based on what is essential, the Good News, closeness and witness. We need to rebuild from her foundations the Church of every time and place, from worship of God and love of neighbour, and not from our own tastes, not from any alliances or negotiations that we might make for defending the Church or Christianity". In concrete terms - the Pope suggested - in the Church there has always been a simple and privileged way to draw from the living sources of faith, which consists in looking at the faces of the saints, and following the steps of those in whose lives she works effectively and the grace of Christ can be experienced. Even the great saints of Europe - Pope Francis recalled - "did their small part, trusting in God. I think of saints like Martin, Francis, Dominic, Pio of Pietrelcina, whose feast we celebrate today; patrons like Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, Bridget, Catherine of Siena and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross". All of them - the Pope stressed - began with themselves, with changing their own lives by accepting God’s grace. They were not concerned about dark times, hardships and those divisions that are always present. They did not waste time criticizing or laying blame. They lived the Gospel, without worrying about relevance or politics. Thus, with the gentle strength of God’s love, they embodied his style of closeness, compassion and tenderness – for that is God’s style. They built monasteries, reclaimed land, enlivened the spirit of individuals and countries. They did not have a “social” programme, but the Gospel alone. And they carried on with the Gospel". <br />Even today, as in the times described in the Gospels - the Pope continued in the final part of his homily "This divine, merciful and overpowering love is itself the perennial newness of the Gospel. It demands of us, dear brothers, wise and bold decisions, made in the name of the mad love with which Christ has saved us. Jesus does not ask us to make arguments for God, he asks us to show him, in the same way the saints did, not by words but by our lives". Let us help today’s Europe – faint with a weariness that is Europe’s current malady – to rediscover the ever youthful face of Jesus and his Bride". <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 12:59:13 +0200ASIA/INDIA - The Bishops oppose the anti-conversion law in Karnataka - The ten Catholic Bishops of the state of Karnataka, in southern India, met Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to voice their opinion over a proposed law to ban forcible religious conversions in the state. <br />The delegation that met the Prime Minister on September 22, was led by Msgr. Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, who submitted a Memorandum on various issues that affect the life of Christians in Karnataka. According to Archbishop Machado, raising fear of "forced conversions" is harmful and useless, and the Catholic Church expresses all its disappointment. The Christian community in the state runs schools, colleges and hospitals across the state but have never advised or forced a single student or patient to get converted to Christianity. Some minor cases may have occurred, but they have been blown out of proportion, Archbishop Machado said. "The proposed anti-conversion law aims to defame Christianity", the Archbishop stressed. In fact, the Christian community assumes full moral responsibility not to indulge in forced conversions: "We do not force anyone", he said. <br />In the Memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, the Bishops note that any anti-conversion law could cause "problems in inter-community relations and unnecessary unrest", generating controversial statements and reactions and causing turmoil in society and religious communities. <br />On September 21, Goolihatti Shekhar, a member of the State Legislative Assembly and a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party , raised the issue in Parliament saying, "Christian evangelical missionaries are indulging in a rampant campaign of religious conversion in my constituency of Hosadurga. <br />About 20,000 people of Hindu religion have converted to Christianity". In response to this note, the President of the Legislative Assembly, Visheshwara Hegde Kageri, said that many states in India have already enacted laws to curb religious conversions and proposed similar law in Karnataka. <br />Speaking during the debate, Interior Minister Araga Jnanedra said the government of Karnataka will study the relevant laws in other states and present its own version. <br />The state government, he said, intends to investigate the issue in order to put an end to religious conversions carried out by force and other flattery. <br />The Indian Constitution provides that citizens have the freedom to "profess, practice and propagate" religion. However, several states of the Indian Federation have implemented and promulgated laws or regulations to discourage or prohibit religious conversions: Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttrakhand. <br />Karnataka is governed by the BJP party, within which members and politicians are hostile to minority religious communities. Following a widespread ideology in the BJP , some would like to transform India from a secular country to a Hindu theocratic state. <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 11:13:55 +0200AMERICA/PERU - The Church is always available to collaborate with the State in the social, educational and health sectors, for the common good - The presidency of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference on September 22 had a meeting with the president of the Congress of the Republic, María del Carmen Alva Prieto, at the structures of the Congress of the Republic. During the meeting, the Church's willingness to help and collaborate with the Congress in particular in the social, educational and health sectors of the country was reaffirmed. <br />The meeting took place in a climate of fraternity, cordiality and social friendship. The Peruvian Church thus continues its agenda of meetings with the various organs of the Congress of the Republic to contribute to the construction of the common good of the country. <br />The meeting was attended by Monsignor Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, President of the Episcopal Conference and President of the Latin American Episcopal Council ; Monsignor Robert Prevost, Bishop of Chiclayo and second Vice President; Monsignor Norberto Strotmann, Bishop of Chosica and general secretary; Father Guillermo Inca, Deputy Secretary of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference. The meeting also served to calm a certain popular tension created due to the many comments and debates after the death in prison of the head of Shining Path, which occurred a few days ago. <br />The Archbishop of Lima, Monsignor Carlos Castillo, had celebrated a mass on September 12 with the main leaders of the Special Group of Peruvian Intelligence, in the Cathedral of Lima, on the anniversary of the historic capture of Abimael Guzmán, leader of the Shining Path terrorist group. In his homily, the Archbishop said: "If we now have the possibility of a democracy, even with its problems, it is because you have sown that seed of hope for the country. <br />You are the strength we must have to continue that path of hope that you started on a Sunday like today. Let us do everything possible to be seeds of hope and be a miracle for our people". <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 10:33:58 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - "I have always acted for the defense of freedom, justice and the rights of the Venezuelan people": the spiritual testament of Cardinal Urosa Savino - Yesterday, September 23, Cardinal Baltazar Porras, on behalf of the Archdiocese of Caracas, announced the death of Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop Emeritus of Caracas, which was followed by a note from the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela. The sad news greatly affected the Venezuelan people, as the Cardinal was well loved and respected not only in Latin America, where he was well known. On August 28, he had turned 79 in hospital. He had been infected with the coronavirus more than a month ago, and immediately the infection appeared very aggressive. A week ago, the Archdiocese of Caracas published a reflection, written by Cardinal Urosa at the end of last August, in which, among other things, he stated: "I express my great affection for the Venezuelan people and my absolute dedication to their freedom, to its institutions, to the defense of people's rights against abuses committed by national governments. And in this attitude, I have always acted, not out of hatred or resentment, but for the defense of freedom, justice and the rights of the Venezuelan people. I hope that Venezuela comes out of this very negative situation". <br />Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Caracas, was born in the Venezuelan capital on August 28, 1942. After completing his primary and secondary studies at the "La Salle" college in Tienda Honda, Caracas , he studied the philosophical triennium at the interdiocesan seminary of Caracas and, for theology, the "St. Augustine's Seminary" of Toronto, Canada, . In Rome, at the Pontifical Gregorian University , he obtained a degree and a doctorate in theology . He received his priestly ordination on August 15, 1967 and episcopal ordination on September 22, 1982, created Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the Consistory on March 24, 2006. <br />Fri, 24 Sep 2021 10:01:09 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch Sako: abortion is Cain-style murder - The practice of induced abortion repeats what happened in the story of Cain, who committed the first "premeditated murder" told in the Bible. And for the Church "all human life, including that of unborn children, has its dignity and has the right to be protected. This is what the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphaël Sako writes in a text published on the site of the Chaldean Patriarchate, in which he also quotes the paragraph from the encyclical Evangelium Vitae in which Pope John Paul II recalls that in the voluntary interruption of pregnancy "The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb" . <br />The patriarchal considerations on abortion practices are included in a text of reflections on Sacred Scripture and the doctrine of the Church: a kind of "catechism of the patriarch", full of references to the current problems and events of the moment, which Cardinal Sako publishes in sections in the media of the Chaldean Patriarchate. In the text in question, the biblical story of Cain and Abel, "the two first sons of Adam and Eve", raises radical questions about the mystery of evil that accompanies the history of mankind. "How is it possible that man, created in the image and likeness of God, can become like a ravenous beast?" asks the patriarch. The Bible - continues the Iraqi Cardinal - acknowledges in the book of Genesis that hatred and violence are part of human history. And even our time is marked by murders and acts of death which "are carried out under the guise of God and of religion". The story of Cain and Abel highlights the fact that the horror of murderous violence can also bloody and break the bond of brotherhood, of shared filiation. Evil - the biblical text teaches - did not enter the world by the will of God, who wanted death in his work of his Creation. <br />The gates of violence and death were opened by the ingratitude and pride foretold in the biblical story of original sin, the corrupt fruits of which find their first manifestation in the death of Abel at the hands of his brother Cain . "Just as Adam and Eve strayed from God's presence" continues Patriarch Sako, "the murderer Cain did the same, and any premeditated murderer will do the same. Because human life is a sacred gift of God, and that no one has the right to take it away ". Evil, having entered the world, affects relations between brothers. It destroys the harmony between human beings. And in the face of all of this, there is no need for willpower or generic appeals to compassion, since human beings are incapable of "humanizing" themselves. Only the gratuitous and unprecedented occurrence of the salvation brought to the world by Christ can, by grace, germinate the seeds of forgiveness at the heart of human relationships. A miracle without which any call for dialogue and fraternity risks turning into stifling moralism, or a "party game". <br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 13:21:41 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Exploitation and human trafficking are "chains that generate so much destruction in the world" – Human trafficking and sexual exploitation are two closely related phenomena and occur in many parts of the world, they affect people of all ages, but especially minors who, in situations of vulnerability, extreme poverty or exclusion, are forced by necessity to resort to different sources of income. This scourge that affects humanity has been growing in recent times, Monsignor Héctor Fabio Henao Gaviria, Director of the National Secretariat of Social Pastoral Care of Colombia reminds us, in a video message sent to Fides, for the International Day against sexual exploitation and trafficking in women and children, which is celebrated today, September 23. "These vulnerable people are easily captured by people who, with obscure intentions, induce them along this path and traffick them as if they were objects for exchange, business and commerce", said the Prelate. The Episcopal Conference of Colombia has raised its voice several times to draw attention to this illegal activity, "which is a true crime that affects humanity and destroys social life, the life project of young children and also of adults, who are victims of these chains that generate so much destruction in the world", the Bishop reiterated. <br />Through Red Clamor, which includes CEC, religious congregations, lay movements and various ecclesial organizations, attention is focused on the work of accompanying the victims and on the search for solutions that help fight this scourge, recalled Monsignor Henao Gaviria, inviting awareness and prevention of this crime through the greater dissemination of information, at all levels, only in this way "can we contribute to creating safe environments, so that people are not victims of this criminal activity that today does so much harm to the world and to our young people". <br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 12:39:40 +0200AFRICA/TANZANIA - Covid does not choose who to hit: bishops offer training for people with special needs - "Covid does not choose, it affects everyone and that is why we must all walk together without allowing anyone to be left behind", said the Secretary General of the Bishops' Conference of Tanzania , Msgr. Charles Kitima, on the initiative of the Archdiocese of Tabora for the protection of people with disabilities from the virus. "We want everyone to be informed about the Coronavirus, everyone has to know how to protect themselves and others", said Mgr. Kitima on the training of deaf and blind people. <br />"The Church values human life which is a gift from God and we must respect it. Disability does not mean being less human. Everyone has the right to have information on the pandemic and to become ambassadors to others", he said, adding that the Catholic Church provides spiritual and physical services to humanity and therefore, valuing human dignity, it can never leave anyone behind, especially those with special needs. <br />As reported in the note sent to Fides, the head of the TEC project, Fr. Chrisantus Ndaga, highlighted the objective of the Catholic Church to reach those in need and provide education on Covid-19. "The Church does not offer only spiritual service. Training deaf and blind people is not an easy task because there is a communication barrier", he said. <br />In this training we made use of experts and professionals capable of using sign language and translating symbols for the deaf and braille for the visually impaired". Participants thanked the Catholic Church for providing them with education on the pandemic, reiterating that on several occasions the community leaves them behind in accessing important information due to their condition. The initiative was launched in the archdiocese of Tabora and coordinated by TEC in collaboration with Norwegian Church Aid . <br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 11:57:01 +0200AMERICA/PARAGUAY - The relics of "Chiquitunga", the first Paraguayan Blessed, return to their homeland - It was a great mobilization, perhaps the largest since Paraguay experienced the pandemic, that of the Catholic faithful to welcome the relics of María Felicia de Jesús Sacramentado, known as "Chiquitunga", the first Paraguayan beatified , who arrived at the Asunción International Airport on Tuesday, September 21. The relics three years ago were sent to Rome for a conservation process. After the Mass celebrated in the parking lot, in the presence of the faithful and the authorities, the urns were transferred to the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites, an order to which the Blessed belonged, who died in 1959 at the age of 34. There was a large presence of faithful despite the arrival time of the plane from Rome, around 5 in the morning, local time, which was broadcast by most of the country's radio and television stations. According to the note sent to Fides, the Mass was presided in front of the airport, by the President of the Paraguayan Bishops' Conference, Mgr. Adalberto Martínez Flores, Bishop of the diocese of Villarrica del Espíritu Santo, in which the Archbishop of Asunción, Mgr. Edmundo Valenzuela took part. Also present were the relatives of the Carmelite nun, many of whom carried bouquets of flowers, portraits of the Blessed and flags of Paraguay. "Chiquitunga was chosen especially by God through various ministries for her perfection in holiness: she was an apostle, catechist, teacher, evangelizer and tireless servant, both in action and in prayer", said during his homily Mgr. Martínez, Bishop of Villarrica, birthplace of the blessed. The Bishop asked for the intercession of "Chiquitunga" to obtain the release of the three people kidnapped in the north of the country by the guerrillas and of whom nothing is known, including the former president of the country Óscar Denis . Pope Francis, in a letter to Mgr. Valenzuela sent through Cardinal Pietro Parolín, addressed a greeting to Paraguayan Catholics on the occasion of the return of the relics. After mass, the urns were placed in firefighters' car, which took them to the Carmelite monastery, escorted by motorcyclists from the State Police and a caravan of faithful. After half an hour the relics reached their destination, about 14 kilometers from the airport, greeted with applause and music by the army band. Urns were placed in the prepared chapel, along with a portrait of the Blessed, then the Paraguayan national anthem was performed. The process of beatification and canonization of the Blessed began in 1997. In March 2010, Pope Benedict XVI declared her venerable. In 2018 the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved a miracle operated through the intercession of Chiquitunga and in March of that year Pope Francis authorized her beatification, which was celebrated on June 23, 2018 in Asuncion. <br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 11:47:55 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - In the pandemic, the path is compassion - The path indicated by Christ is compassion, and it is the path that Christians are called to follow. This is the appeal released by Msgr. Marlo Mendoza Peralta, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia , who invited the priests of his diocese to be "authentic pastors, dispensers of compassion" in the midst of the difficulties and sufferings of the pandemic. "As priests - he says in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - while fearing and paying attention to the Covid virus, let's not let our fears paralyze us in action, forgetting the people who need us". "Do not hesitate to face the challenges posed by the pandemic with courage, but go towards the faithful showing mercy and compassion", he urged. The existing restrictions to contain the growing cases of Covid-19 must lead us "to find creative ways to provide pastoral assistance and spiritual comfort to the needy", the Archbishop remarked. <br />It is necessary to start from the Eucharist: in fact, he said, people who suffer greatly from the health and economic crisis "always want the Eucharist as their source of strength. They are waiting for us to celebrate Mass for them, let's not disappoint them". <br />The message also reminds priests of the need to dispense Sacraments such as Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick, especially to those who are seriously ill or on the verge of death. The Prelate urges priests to take an example from frontline health workers, who, despite fears, continue to take care of Covid-19 patients, observing preventive health measures. "If these doctors and nurses continue to provide health care to COVID-19 patients, all the more we priests can and must take care of their souls", added Msgr. Peralta. Shielding oneself with one's fear, he remarked, "cannot be an excuse to refuse to administer the Anointing of the Sick. Let us be creative, devising ways to provide additional protection for ourselves and to show the compassionate face of Christ to those who surround us", he wished. <br />Even the Bishop of Batanes, Msgr. Danilo Ulep, encouraged priests, religious and laity to face the pandemic "with courage and faith". "We are all called to show resilience, mutual communion, altruism and charity in the face of this tragedy", he said, inviting the faithful to live the special spirit of mutual Christian solidarity and charity, in spiritual communion and a sense of fraternity. <br /><br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 11:36:28 +0200ASIA/BANGLADESH - Violence and intimidation against a Catholic journalist investigating a case of corruption - A Catholic journalist of the Garo ethnic group, Prince Edward Mangsang, was attacked and severely beaten on charges of having destroyed assets worth 45 thousand Bangladeshi taka . In a serious act of private violence, the man was tied to a tree in a public square and beaten by Muslim Abdur Rahim Ahmed, president of the Aronkhola Union Council, a government body in the Madhupur area, part of the Tangail district, a city in the north of Dhaka. Some even posted the photo of the battered and tortured journalist on social media. The local police who were alerted, intervened to save him from the lynching and took him into custody. As Fides learned, Edward Mangsang is a journalist who works for the Bangladeshi information portal which mainly publishes local news from Tangail. <br />Ahmed filed a lawsuit against Mangsang, falsely accusing him of assaulting his driver and maid, stealing 20,000 Bangladeshi takas and destroying property in his home worth 25,000 taka. <br />The journalist denies any wrongdoing and is supported by Christian and civil society organizations in the area. In recent weeks Shamol Mankhin, Secretary of the "Abima Garo" Youth Association organized a human chain to protest against the unjust violence against ethnic Garo journalists, marginalized tribals and victims of abuse. Mankhin told Fides that the incident is a violation of human rights and clear intimidation: "Edward Mangsang, in his investigative work, was investigating issues involving Abdur Rahim Ahmed in corruption cases. This is why the legal procedure, which is completely artifact, wants to intimidate him, the accusations against him are false and serve to misdirect the truth". Mangsang, released on bail for a few days, tells Fides: "The Garo, a tribal group and also a minority religious community, as Christians, are often victims of Muslims who abuse their power. Other Muslim journalists have also reported news on the alleged corruption of Abdur Rahim Ahmed, but he targeted me and attacked me, thinking he could go unpunished". <br />Ahmed, in fact, did not send a written reply to the web portal to deny the accusations, but filed a lawsuit with false accusations against the Catholic journalist: "Ahmed is in the eye of the storm because, thanks to government projects, he has increased his personal property. In doing so he wanted to take revenge", Mangsang notes. Abdur Rahim Ahmed also launched a defamatory campaign against the Garo tribals, claiming that they spread false news about them and instigating hatred against them: "I mean: bring evidence of my corruption and then I will resign from the government office", he declared. Police in Madhupur are investigating the matter. Rezaul Karim, investigative officer in the Madhupur police station, tells Fides: "Mangsang has already obtained bail. We are investigating the accusations against him and the implications of the affair. If Mangsang is innocent, he will get justice". <br />Thu, 23 Sep 2021 11:28:38 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - "Migrants and pilgrims, like all our fathers" (cfr. 1 Cr 29,15): a reflection open to action - The international conference "Migrants and pilgrims, like all our fathers" was held from September, 20 to 22 - "Theology of human mobility in the 21st century", promoted and organized by the International Union of Superiors General , the Union of Superiors General and the Scalabrini International Migration Institute . <br />The event, which included group work sessions, was attended by more than 250 members belonging to about 70 religious congregations operating all over the world. The goal, as the note sent to Fides informs, was to face together with the local Churches of the countries of departure, transit and reception, the challenges posed by migration. The speakers presented and discussed the state of their research, aimed at responding to the reality of current migratory movements through reflection open to action. <br />Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, opened the meeting who, after reciting the prayer for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which is celebrated on Sunday, September 26, recalled how "combining biblical theological and pastoral reflection with the action of consecrated persons in favor of migrants" is "a concrete testimony that indicates a style to follow". Not only is it a style to follow, but taking care of our sisters and brothers forced to flee "is an inevitable responsibility. Because we are all migrants and the land belongs to God", Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi recalled. <br />Among the speeches that opened the works, there were also those of Fr. Fabio Baggio, Scalabrinian and Undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development and of Fr. Leonir Chiarello, Superior General of the Scalabrinian Missionaries. "To do pastoral theology today one must know how to pitch a tent among the people of God. In particular, as Pope Francis recalls, one must know how to pitch a tent among the inhabitants of the existential peripheries; this allows us to listen to the people of God, to read together the signs of the times and above all to learn the meaning of the faith of the faithful", said Fr. Baggio. This process must be accompanied by a "systematic study" given "the complexity and speed of changes as well as the extent of the actors involved in the migration phenomenon, who are migrants, refugees, displaced persons, seafarers, and all those who, in one way or another, experience a form of uprooting", underlined Fr. Leonir Chiarello. <br />Many good practices at a local level were shared that deepened both the reality of the migration path - often forced and due to conflicts, persecutions, serious economic and development imbalances, climate change in progress - as well as the commitment to the physical healing process, psychological, and spiritual of this "large community of migrants, among whom there is the most vulnerable group of refugees, of those camped in large refugee camps, of victims of trafficking, of children and adults; who are our pain and a wound that we have as humanity" and on which we must "reflect to nourish and enlighten our consciences and consciences in our communities, of the Church and of society", said Sister Jolanta Kafka, President of the UISG. <br />"Let's not forget - said Fr. John Larsen, USG delegate representative - that it is in our DNA as 'people of the Book' to have a passion for the ministry of migrants". <br />What emerged in these days of reflection and dialogue are “paths for action”, concludes Fr. Aldo Skoda, Director of SIMI. "Today, more than ever, migration is a phenomenon that challenges society and the Church. It is appropriate to keep in mind, in addition to numbers and statistics, the human face of those, children, men and women, who have left everything behind them. This the Church has always taken on the burden of suffering, but also of the hopes of men and women of different eras and cultures. An important reference certainly remains the action and teaching of Pope Francis as the challenge is not only what pastoral action for and with migrants we want to carry out, but also what face of society and of the Church we want to build together, for an 'always bigger' us, which is also the message of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees that we will celebrate next Sunday". <br />The plenary sessions of the event are available on the UISG YouTube channel. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">More information</a>Thu, 23 Sep 2021 11:10:22 +0200AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - In the north, several areas reconquered from the jihadists; "But as long as security is precarious, it will be difficult for the activities of the Church to resume" - "Security is still precarious. The first thing we really need to do is ensure that people can return safely to resume their lives with confidence. But I think we still need time", says His Exc. Mgr. António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo, Apostolic Administrator of Pemba, capital of the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, devastated in 2017 by violence committed by jihadist groups. Since July, an offensive by government troops, with the support of Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community , has helped strengthen security and recover several areas where there was a rebel presence, including the city of Mocímboa da Praia, which has been occupied since August 2020. The problem now is the return of displaced people to their homes. "If people return, we will also consider the possibility that missionaries will return. But for us, the thermometer will be to understand the degree of real security", emphasizes Mgr. Juliasse. Among other things, the question of who destroyed a church in Mocímboa da Praia remains unresolved. Mgr. Juliasse says: "The destruction came from above, from the helicopter bombings. Both in Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia. The question is the same: who destroyed the Church?". In July, the director of the Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Mozambican Bishops' Conference, Sister Marines Biasibetti, said some 900,000 people were internally displaced in Cabo Delgado and in surrounding provinces such as Niassa, Zambezia and Nampula. Half of them are children. Mgr. Juliasse acknowledges that thanks to the efforts of the military several areas have been reconquered from the insurgents "but there is still no guarantee of security, that those areas are really safe". <br />Mgr. Juliasse also underlines that the Church works in close collaboration with various United Nations agencies to provide humanitarian support to the displaced people, mainly through the provision of food and medicine, but also through psychological assistance and the distribution of seeds and agricultural tools so that people can produce their own food. Yesterday, September 21, the government of Maputo approved a plan for the reconstruction of Cabo Delgado, which will run from 2021 to 2024. <br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 13:17:20 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - Violence of the Burmese army against civilians: Baptist pastor killed - The violence and revenge of the Bimano army are hitting innocent civilians all over the nation. As Fides learned, on September 18, the town of Thang Tlang, one of the nine towns of the Burmese State of Chin, in western Myanmar, was set on fire by the Myanmar army. 80% of the approximately 10,000 residents fled to the forests, neighboring villages or to the Indian border. <br />"We will never forget this tragedy", say the inhabitants of the town, which is located in the territory of the Catholic diocese of Hakha. Cung Biah Hum, a Baptist Christian pastor, who was trying to put out the flames, was shot dead. The Baptist Pastor, while he was working to put out the fires, prayed to the Lord to send heavy rains on the city. He was killed while he was saying prayers. As confirmed to Fides by the Chin Baptist Convention , the Pastor, who led the Thantlang Centenial Baptist Church , died trying to save the city, while the army carried out cruel acts, creating thousands of displaced people. According to the CBC, the military also cut off the pastor's finger to extract his gold ring and stole his cell phone and watch. In recent days, more than ten villages have been set on fire by the military, who behave in a violent and cruel manner towards Burmese civilians. Father David Hmung, a local priest, calls these actions "inhuman and cowardly". Behind these acts lies the army-orchestrated revenge, organized after the Chinland Dfecnce Forces, resistance militias, attacked the military camp in the village of Lung Ker, near the border with India, during the first week of September, killing 15 soldiers. Among the violence perpetrated by the Tatmadaw , a Catholic woman, Mary Win, a parishioner of the Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart in the city of Hmaw Bi, in the Archdiocese of Yangon, told Fides that on September 14, the military and the police force violently entered the Catholic Church complex in the city of Hmawbi. The military had received information about the alleged presence of members of the "People's Defense Forces" who took refuge in the church complex and the house of the clergy. The military broke into the church complex by climbing the fence wall. When they arrived at the clergyman's house, they asked the priest present, Father Stefano, assistant priest, why he had not turned on the lights and the priest replied that they were in the dark for financial reasons. <br />After the priest's response, a soldier was about to hit him, but a young man stopped the soldier from doing so. The young man was then beaten, arrested and his cell phone checked, in which photos of members of the National League for Democracy were found. Therefore the soldiers arrested him. Speaking to Fides, Father Dominic Teal, a priest of the diocese, condemns this violent action saying that the soldiers must "respect the sacred place of the Church and refrain from attacking unarmed civilians and priests". <br /><br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 12:49:08 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Migration Week, the drama of Haitian refugees - Scenes of anger and despair have broken out at Haiti's main airport, in Port-au-Prince, upon the arrival of Haitian migrants who, after spending thousands of dollars on troubled journeys from the Caribbean nation through South America, hoping for a better life in the United States, were sent home after being held in a squalid Texas border camp, stripped of everything. <br />US President Joe Biden has faced increasing pressure to stop the expulsion policy. Filippo Grandi, at the Head of the UN refugee agency, said US expulsions in such an unstable situation could violate international law and could constitute an act of refoulement, or expose people seeking refuge to life-threatening situations. Also yesterday, Tuesday, September 21, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Biden, saying he "defies common sense" to expel migrants to Haiti and criticized the tactics used by border guards to control the crowd in the camp. <br />The scenes broadcast by the media where US border agents are seen on horseback, violently intimidating migrants, have aroused uproar and indignation around the world. US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was appalled by the images of the mistreatment, echoing increasingly pressing criticism. US Vice President Kamala Harris said the situation is complex and that the US must "do much more" to support the basic needs of the people in Haiti, who would certainly prefer to stay at home. The camp's population peaked at 14,000 over the weekend, according to the UN Refugee Agency. Fearing expulsions, part of the population who had camped in the makeshift camp under the bridge across the Rio Grande, from the Texan city of Del Rio to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, moved to a new camp on the Mexican side of the river. Unfortunately, the tension is also rising beyond the border, because the Mexican authorities have organized flights and buses to the southern states, after starting to collect Haitians in refugee camps in Ciudad Acuna, just beyond the border with Del Rio. The move appears to be aimed at reducing the concentration around the camps, which is high. In the new camp on the Mexican side, which has grown considerably, migrants are helped by various bodies, including the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, as well as the United Nations Agency for Migrants, and also by the residents of Ciudad Acuna, who brought food for the refugees. All this happens during the National Migration Week 2021, organized by the United States Bishops' Conference . The initiative, which prepares the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 26, has as its theme "Towards an ever wider 'We', taken from the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti by Pope Francis. The note sent to Fides by the US Bishops underlines the message for the Day, which calls us to ensure that "we no longer think in terms of 'them' and 'those', but only 'us'" and this universal "us" must become a reality first of all within the Church which is called to cultivate communion in diversity. <br />The annual National Migration Week aims to emphasize the importance of the migration issue for the Catholic Church in the United States. "The history of migration is a history of compassion, acceptance and unity", said Mgr. Mario E. Dorsonville, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington and president of the Episcopal Commission on Migration. "It is about opening our hearts to others and, in this critical moment, we must not look far to see its practical application or find those who need to migrate. The Holy Father calls us to embrace and express the catholicity of the Church, its universality, "according to the will and grace of the Lord who promised to be with us always, until the end of time". The Catholics of the USA must be united to respond to his call and be particularly aware of it during this week". <br /><br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 12:22:58 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Qualified missionary animators: course to deepen the history and objectives of the Mission Day, Missionary Month and the Missionary Campaign - The Brazilian Union of Catholic Education and the Pontifical Mission Societies of Brazil are organizing a free, short-term course on the occasion of the 2021 Missionary Campaign. The course is offered by the Catholic University of Brasilia, as part of the "EaD Catholic Hope" project, and provides for the issue of a university certificate. As the note sent to Fides informs, the aim of the course is to present the history, objectives, contents and articulation of Mission Day, Missionary Month and the 2021 Missionary Campaign, in addition to the Pope's Message and animation material. At the end of this course, the participants will be able to contribute more to the journey of missionary animation of their respective ecclesial communities and to assume greater responsibilities in missionary councils and in the Pontifical Mission Societies. <br />This year's missionary campaign in the Brazilian Church has as its theme "Jesus Christ is a mission" and as biblical inspiration from the Acts of the Apostles "We cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard" . The Pontifical Mission Societies are responsible for organizing the Campaign, which has been been taking place in October since 1972, with the support of the Commission for Missionary Action and Inter-Church Cooperation of the Bishops' Conference. Since the creation of the project, called "EaD Catholic Hope", more than ten thousand people from all regions of the country and also from abroad have blessed this opportunity. "The free offer of free courses is linked to the relevant mission of the UBEC Group of serving society through education, as well as representing the institutional commitment to the mission of the Catholic Church," said Joaquim Alberto, coordinator of UBEC pastoral care, at the head of the project. Father Maurício Jardim, National Director of the PMS, highlights: "The joint work of the PMS with UBEC in the animation of the Missionary Campaign is an important step in the articulation of the Missionary Month, which allows, to a greater extent, the qualification of pastoral workers and of the missionary councils in the preparation and animation of the month of October ". In this journey of preparation for Missionary Month and World Mission Day, the latest issue of the magazine of the PMS of Brazil, SIM, is entirely dedicated to the Missionary Campaign 2021, highlighting the testimonies of the missionaries who are at the forefront in this context. pandemic. This issue of the magazine presents at the beginning a reflection on the history of Mission Sunday, established in 1926 by Pope Pius XI, and celebrated annually on the penultimate Sunday in October. In addition, the materials prepared for the animation of the missionary campaign and the activities of the various Pontifical Mission Societies are presented. Finally, mention is made of Brazil's contribution to the Universal Solidarity Fund for the support of the missionary Churches. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">For more information on the 2021 Missionary Campaign</a>Wed, 22 Sep 2021 11:48:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishop of Wau encourages the population to get vaccinated against Covid-19 - "The coronavirus vaccine is not dangerous. To date, I have personally seen no negative effects since I received the first dose", said Msgr. Mathew Remijo Adam Gbitiku, bishop of the diocese of Wau, encouraging the entire population of South Sudan to get vaccinated. <br />The diocesan health coordinator, Dr. Jurel Payii Mamur said that one should not be afraid of the vaccine approved by the government and the World Health Organization and confirmed that Msgr. Gbitiku received his first dose on September 7th with no consequences. "On September 7, 2021, together with the team from the Wau University Hospital, we went to vaccinate the Bishop and the priests who go to the diocese of Wau – we read in the note from the diocese sent to Fides. <br />We started with the bishop and we are continuing with all the priests and operators of the diocese to ensure and protect the health of all". <br />Mgr. Gbitiku urged all the Bishops of South Sudan to encourage their priests to get vaccinated, as this is the only weapon to prevent Covid-19. "We could not get the first delivery of AstraZeneca which arrived a few months ago because we were not ready due to pastoral activities in the dioceses. We thank God for having this second chance", the prelate reiterated. <br />The vaccination program was organized by the Health Office of the Diocesan Secretariat with the help of the Ministry of Health of Wau. <br />According to statistics, there are currently 11,831 infections in the country, while 297 cases were registered in the weeks from 8 to 21 September. <br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 11:32:51 +0200EUROPE/ROMANIA - "The more we share the gift of faith, the more fruitful it is for ourselves": visit of the President of the PMS to Romania - "The visit of the President of the Pontifical Mission Societies Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso to Romania will bring abundant fruit in the missionary spirit of the Romanian Church", says to Fides Fr. Eugen Blaj, National Director of the PMS in Romania. In fact, the assembly of the Bishops' Conference of Romania was held on September 20-22. <br />On this occasion, Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso was invited to present the identity and activities of the PMS. The meeting place was the Carmelite Monastery of Ciofliceni, located near Bucharest. The visit is part of the preparation for the missionary month of October and also in view of the "great events" of 2022, such as the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the 100th anniversary of its recognition as "Pontifical"; the 150th anniversary of the birth of Blessed Fr. Paolo Manna, founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union; the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation of "Propaganda Fide". <br />At the beginning of the Assembly, after the presentation by the Bishops, the President of the PMS gave a speech in which he insisted on the relationship between faith and mission: the growth of faith, he remarked, also means the growth of missionary awareness. He then presented the need to promote the four Pontifical Mission Societies to the Bishops, each with its own specific charism: the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Missionary Childhood, the Society of St. Peter the Apostle and the Missionary Union. <br />Another important aspect, which the President spoke about, was the relationship between the particular Church and the universal one. <br />The presence of the PMS in particular churches - he said - is a sign of participation in the universality of the Church and of the common responsibility to spread the faith in Jesus Christ so that all may attain salvation. Bishops become aware of the responsibility of sharing faith not only in their particular dioceses, but in the whole universal Church. <br />Expressing the hope that the Bishops will open the doors to all four PMS, the President mentioned in a special way Missionary Childhood, expressing the desire that children are given the opportunity to participate in the missionary life of the Church and to grow with a missionary spirit. "The President reminded us that a Church without missionary activity dies, instead a missionary Church will have a lot of life: in fact, the more we share the gift of faith, the more fruitful it is for ourselves", underlines Father Eugen Blaj. <br />After the presentation and a session of questions by the Bishops to deepen the topics covered, Archbishop Dal Toso presided over the holy mass of the CER. <br />On the second day of the visit, the President was invited to get to know the PMS headquarters in Romania. In the evening he concelebrated the Eucharist together with all the Bishops in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph in Bucharest. On this occasion he invited the faithful to live their missionary commitment so that they can, in turn, encourage others. <br />In Romania there are 12 dioceses, 6 Greek-Catholic of the Byzantine rite and 6 Roman-Catholic of the Latin rite, in addition to the Bishop of Chișinău , who always participates in the CER meetings. <br />During the period of the pandemic the Bishops did not have meetings in presence: in this period two of them became emeritus, and participated as emeritus in the CER meeting, while, due to the difficulties related to Covid, three bishops were unable to participate in the meeting. <br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 10:14:22 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - The Pope's visit and his meeting with Ayatollah al Sistani celebrated by a series of postage stamps from the Iraqi Postal Service - The General Company for Post and Savings in Iraq, directed by Idris Khaled Abdel Rahman, has issued a special series of stamps dedicated to Pope Francis' visit to Iraq, which took place from March, 3 to 8 2021. <br />Presenting the series, the spokesman for the Ministry of Communications, Raad Al-Mashhadani, drew attention in particular to the stamps commemorating the meeting of the Bishop of Rome with His Eminence, Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani and the papal visit to the city of Ur, the place where the journey of Patriarch Abraham, Father of all believers began. <br />The initiative of the General Company for Post and the Iraqi Ministry for Communications, led by Minister Arkan Shehab Ahmed al Shaibani - local media reports - intends to celebrate the papal visit and in particular the meeting between Pope Francis and Ayatollah Al Sistani as a demonstration of peaceful and fraternal coexistence between members of different faiths, both in Iraq and in the rest of the Middle East. Similar philatelic issues were also dedicated to visits to Iraq by other internationally known personalities. The stamps commemorating the papal visit, edited on a graphic level by Iraqi artist Saad Ghazi, are issued with various price cuts, and will be sold at post offices. <br />In September 2020 , the Iraqi Postal Service has issued, for the first time, a series of stamps dedicated to celebrating the Country's churches. The series included eight stamps, depicting historic churches of Iraq, located in various regions of the national territory and belonging to communities of different Christian denominations. The multicolored representations of the different churches are the work of Iraqi artist Saad Ghazi. The choice of the National Postal Service to reproduce churches on postage stamps was combined with other gestures of attention reserved by the Iraqi political leadership to indigenous Christian communities, a few months before the papal visit. On 10 August, on meeting the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako and some of his collaborators, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi expressed the hope that Iraqi Christians who emigrated abroad during the jihadist occupation of the north of the Country will soon return to Homeland. "Iraq", said Kadhimi on that occasion, "is the Country of all Iraqis, and Christians are the Country's original children". <br />Wed, 22 Sep 2021 11:11:07 +0200