Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAMERICA/UNITED STATES - Personalized video messages for World Mission Sunday York - Personalized messages at local level are to be created as part of the campaign of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States for World Mission Day.<br />This year, the directors and collaborators of the offices of the mission societies in the US dioceses will present themselves in video messages recorded during the national meeting last June in California .<br />A 30-second video will be published on each diocesan website and shared on social media. The message contains the following basic invitation to all: "On this World Mission Day, join Catholics around the world in praying and donating generously to the missionary work of the Church. Thank you for your help!".<br />"It is important that we use every opportunity we have to ask for prayer and support on World Mission Day," said National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, <br />Monsignor Kieran E. Harrington. "And we believe that this personal appeal from the local face of the Pontifical Mission Societies will have an impact in the diocese." Also part of the communication campaign is a complete "package" of posters that will be made available to parishes. In addition to the theme of the World Mission Day message - "You will be my witnesses" - the poster illustrates the importance of giving on World Mission Day and highlights the many needs of the Church around the world: the work of catechists, priests and religious, as well as mission schools and pastoral work. Additional digital materials, including parish bulletins and announcements, and help for the homily, are in preparation and will be published on the dedicated PMS website. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">PMS website in the USA</a>Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:51:22 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - The vocation of the young people of "Jesus Youth": "Disciples and missionaries to proclaim the love of God" - "As young Catholics we are also missionary disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to fulfill a mission of healing and renewal of life. We are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, we walk with great zeal and commitment to our young fellow human beings, to proclaim the love and mercy of God. To pass on the Good News of Jesus Christ, to be an accompanying hand for them to grow and live the Catholic faith," said Father Qaisar Feroz , national chaplain of the Jesus Youth International Church Movement, in its Pakistan branch, at the conclusion of a week-long training seminar entitled "Lead 2022: Discipleship training Programme" organized in Ayubia.<br />The program included a training course in evangelization, based on the six points of the kerygma, aimed at helping new members of the movement experience the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the starting point of mission.<br />Ayyaz Gulzar, Coordinator of Jesus Youth in Pakistan, welcomed the participants by saying: "We thank God for another group of young people who have joined Jesus Youth International. This week is a great blessing and a time for us to meet our Lord Jesus Christ and welcome Him as our Lord and Savior. God calls us by name. And God calls us to serve in His vineyard as young missionary disciples of His Son Jesus Christ".<br />Jesus Youth - explained the coordinator - is not just a lay Catholic movement, but it is a way of life, a school for the formation of lay people for the Church and society". "Since the movement was recognized by the Holy See in 2016, it has also been growing in Pakistan," he said.<br />After the successful completion of the training course, the participants, who came from the dioceses of Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Lahore, took part in further specific training courses on topics such as discipleship, being synodal church, mission and evangelization, spirituality and charisma of the Jesus Youth.<br />Jesus Youth International is a lay Catholic movement currently present in more than 40 countries on the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe, America and Australia. The JY movement also has active groups in Middle Eastern countries including the United Arab Emirates. <br />Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:40:47 +0200ASIA - Young people in the footsteps of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati - "Young people in the countries of Central Asia should know that they are not alone on their way to holiness, but that there are many of their peers who share the same ideals. They should know what it means to be committed Christians, a living example of faith in the midst of their culture, knowing that they live in a Muslim majority. That is why we organized a meeting at the beginning of August, in Shymkent, Kazakhstan between Uzbek, Tajik and Kazakh members of the 'Voice of the Word', a youth movement of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. They are young people who have committed themselves to living the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and to being active in the apostolate and in formation", says Father Ariel Alvarez Toncovich, priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and parish priest of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Samarkand <br /> to Fides. <br />About 40 young people and seven religious from the Kazakh city of Shymkent, from Dushanbe and from the young group in Samarkand took part in the initiative. The young people, says Father Toncovich, "lived days of formation and friendship. There were days dedicated to catechesis, while the last day was dedicated to rest and fun at the lake". "It is very important", stresses the missionary, "that they get to know each other, exchange experiences and see that it is possible to live as Christians, even in these countries. It is precisely for this reason that we have invited two girls who are completing their novitiate at Karaganda Monastery, as well as a couple who bore witness to what it means to be a Christian family in Central Asia. These are two different forms of vocation, but both are very rare in this area."<br />The priest is certain that the experience will bear many fruits: "The young people were visibly happy and enjoyed every moment to the full, from the catechesis to the football match. It was a fruitful initiative, which we noticed above all from the fact that the young people, whenever they had time, came to us religious to ask us for advice on their doubts, problems and dreams for the future", the missionary concludes.<br />Catholics are a minority in the countries of Central Asia, a Muslim-majority geographical area where the Church was reborn only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent end of religious persecution. Today there are 70 parishes in Kazakhstan, 5 in Uzbekistan, 3 in Kyrgyzstan, 2 in Tajikistan, while in Turkmenistan around 250 faithful gather in the Chapel of the Transfiguration of the Lord in the capital, Ashgabat. <br />Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:32:09 +0200AFRICA/MALAWI - Jubilee year of the Pontifical Mission Societies: conveying the message through music - In view of missionary October and the Sunday dedicated to the missions, the Pontifical Mission Societies of Malawi presented two songs last Sunday, one in English and one in the local Chichewa language. The songs were composed and produced by four siblings from the same family, the Mbewe Family and the first performance took place on the national Catholic TV channel - Luntha TV.<br />The performance of the music is part of the preparations of the National Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Malawi for the World Mission Day on October 23 and the Mission Month of October 2022 in the broader context of the anniversaries of this year .<br />Encouraged and supported by the National Direction, the young people who composed the songs used their talents to compose and spread the message of the Jubilee Year and convey its meaning to people in a musical way. The young artists come from the small Christian community of St Clare in the Chigwirizano Squatter region of the Holy Rosary Parish of Likuni in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe and live in a rural setting. The songs were produced and recorded in an amateur home studio. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The video of the song</a>Tue, 09 Aug 2022 14:18:30 +0200VATICAN - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, passed away at the age of 98 City - With deep sadness and gratitude for the service rendered, the collaborators of the Vatican Dicastery for Evangelization received the news of the death of Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He died this morning in Rome at the age of 98 and was the eldest Cardinal in the College of Cardinals.<br />Born on March 11, 1924 in Udavské in the Archdiocese of Košice in Slovakia, he was ordained a priest on March 12, 1949 for the then Diocese of Košice. He had begun his work in Rome as an Official in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and was later appointed Undersecretary of the Congregation for Bishops.<br />On July 12, 1979 he was appointed Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and on September 15, 1979 he was consecrated Titular Archbishop of Doclea. He was created Cardinal in the Consistory of May 25, 1985. <br />The Cardinal's great spiritual and missionary legacy - recalled today in the Dicastery for Evangelization - includes the accounts of his experiences in the apostolic journeys during the sixteen years that he was at the head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.<br />These were pastoral trips to establish new dioceses, found new churches, seminaries, educational and health centers or trips to prepare for the visits of the great missionary John Paul II. For him, every experience was a gift from God to the Church and the world, each journey a testimony of what the Spirit accomplishes and what is to be shared so that the message of Jesus Christ can reach all peoples. <br />Mon, 08 Aug 2022 22:11:32 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Missionary sending of five seminarians to the indigenous communities of the Pemón - Five seminarians have been sent by the Diocese of San Cristóbal to the Apostolic Vicariate of Caronì, who in the month of August and in various indigenous communities will pastorally accompany the Pemón people.<br />The five seminarians from Táchira accepted the invitation of Bishop Mario Moronta and Bishop Juan Alberto Ayala, and will go out to the people and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. The bishops emphasize the importance of living this missionary experience in the last year of priestly formation. During the Eucharistic celebration, during which the candidates for the priesthood were sent, Bishop Gonzalo Ontiveros expressly emphasized the importance of "being active protagonists of evangelization and engaging in concrete missionary commitment". The Vicar Apostolic also invited indigenous peoples to engage in missionary work in their own communities. For their part, the seminarians expressed their joy at the mission in the indigenous communities and underlined that this initiative was understood as a response to Pope Francis' invitation to start the mission ad gentes.<br />Carlos Parra, one of the seminarians sent to the parish of San Miguel de Caracol, in the heart of Gran Sabana, said that "mission is an authentic response to Jesus' call, who asks us not to stop talking about what what we have seen and heard".<br />The Pemón are an indigenous community in Venezuela living in the Gran Sabana and Canaima National Park in the state of Bolívar, specifically in the municipalities of Gran Sabana, Raúl Leoni and Sifontes, on the borders with Brazil and Guyana. The basic organizational unit in the community of Pemón is the family, marriage is the fundamental key to their formation and in which all members have blood ties. After marriage, the couple preferably settles in the house of the wife's family. <br />Mon, 08 Aug 2022 21:56:19 +0200ASIA/MACAO - The International Exhibition of Eucharistic Miracles has been extended: Blessed Carlo Acutis conquers the hearts of visitors - After the great success of the International Exhibition on Eucharistic Miracles, conceived and realized by Blessed Carlo Acutis and held in Macau from June 17th to July 31st, the organizers have decided to extend the exhibition: the exhibition will therefore reopen tomorrow, August 9th, and can be visited until September 30th. The guided tours will also be resumed. This decision by the Macao Catholic Culture Association, which organizes the event, was also made possible by the easing of anti-Covid restrictions. Visitors are nevertheless asked to continue to take all necessary measures, such as wearing masks and taking their temperature at the entrance. But the conditions did not affect the success of the event.<br />Macao is the first Asian stop of this international exhibition on the Eucharistic Miracles officially recognized by the Church, conceived and realized by the young Blessed Carlo Acutis. The Macao Catholic community is particularly interested in exploring the relationships and influences between Catholic culture and contemporary science, and is therefore also concerned with realities that human science cannot prove and that are beyond the reach of scientific research, thanks to the contribution of Blessed Carlo Acutis.<br />At the official opening ceremony on June 17th, Msgr. Stephen Lee, Bishop of Macao and President of the Macao Catholic Culture Association, together with some representatives of the local authorities, paid tribute to this precious moment, presenting in this context the exhibition and the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis so that the Chinese believers, especially the young, can come to know and appreciate this important figure.<br />A platform dedicated to the exhibition is accessible via the website, with a great deal of information and contributions, particularly on the life of Blessed Carlo Acutis. In this way, the Catholic and non-Catholic public can learn more about Eucharistic miracles, but also the history of faith and the testimony of the young Italian. <br /><br />Mon, 08 Aug 2022 21:47:35 +0200ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Pope's visit: "All of Kazakhstan is happy" - "There are no words to express the joy of the entire Catholic community in Kazakhstan at the visit of Pope Francis to our country. What pleases us the most is the fact that even the non-Catholic citizens of the country received the news of the planned trip of the Holy Father with great enthusiasm.The first positive sign is that the authorities of Karaganda have offered to help us organize the trip from our city to Nursultan, where the Pope will spend his three-day stay. The second positive sign is that we see many journalists on the streets asking ordinary people what they think of Francis' visit and the answer is that they are all very happy that such an important man of God visits the Kazakh people". This is what Mgr. Yevgeniy Zinkovskiy, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda and first native prelate of Kazakhstan, told Fides about the Pope's visit to the Central Asian country.<br />The reason for the trip is the 7th Congress of Representatives of World Religions and Traditional Religions, which will take place on September 14th and 15th, 2022 in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan. According to the Holy See's official program, Francis will arrive in Kazakhstan on the afternoon of September 13. There he will be received by the country's authorities and will deliver the first of his five official <br />speeches. In the following days, the Pope will take part in the workings of the Congress, with moments dedicated to the local Catholic community and a Holy Mass in Expo Square, as well as a meeting with Bishops, religious, seminarians and pastoral collaborators, the will take place in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.<br />"We had hoped that the Pope could also visit Karaganda, but this is not possible due to his health condition. However, we are very happy that he will come to our country and celebrate a Mass for all of God's people. We invite everyone, to take part in the meeting and we are waiting for our Pope to tell us what we can do for the Church and the local society", concludes Msgr. Zinkovskiy.<br />The official invitation to Kazakhstan for Pope Francis was extended by Kazakh Senate President Maulen Ashimbayev on November 6 during a papal audience at the Vatican. On this occasion, the President of the Senate thanked the Holy See for the support it had shown over the past few years.<br />The First Congress of Representatives of World and Traditional Religions was convened by former President Nazarbayev on September 23-24, 2003 in Astana . On this occasion, delegates from 17 religious and sectarian bodies and institutions from around the world met with the aim of reviving dialogue and religious freedom in the heart of Central Asia, an area located near the epicenter of ethno-religious conflicts after 9/11 September 2001. The Congress is inspired by the program statements of the organizers of the "Day of Prayer for Peace" in the world convened by John Paul II on January 24, 2002 in Assisi to highlight the contribution of the different religious traditions to dialogue and understanding between peoples and nations. <br />Mon, 08 Aug 2022 21:36:29 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - A peace caravan of Franciscan nuns, ahead of the elections - "We wanted to find a simple and direct way to send everyone a message of peace and calm on the eve of the elections and so we have decided to organize a caravan of women religious to go through the "hot spots" in the Kisumu region, where there were very serious incidents during the past elections. On July 23rd we left together - about fifty Sisters of the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Anne - and crossed our region, stopping especially in the places most threatened by violence", explains Sister Florence Atieno Ochieng, assistant Superior of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Anne for the Kisumu region to Fides about the original initiative of a group of women religious in Kenya to spread a climate of peace and prevent riots before, during and after tomorrow's August 9 elections. The march was initiated by the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters in collaboration with the Association of Sisters of Kenya , a body that gathers consecrated women whose mission is to foster mutual support and promote authentic evangelical witness through sustainable programs, and with Catholic Relief Services . The special pilgrimage was held to commemorate the horrific events that took place during the 2017 elections in Kenya, particularly in the Kisumu region, where clashes between police and protesters resulted in deaths and injuries.<br />"We encountered many people, over 500 in all," said Sister Florence Atieno Ochieng weuuter, "and even the most violent and threatening accepted our peace proposal and the words we addressed to them. In the places most at risk, people were upset because they feared fraud and vote theft. We tried to reassure everyone and insisted on the concept of personal responsibility. In other words, we declared that peace must first be within ourselves".<br />The initiative, supported and launched by Kisumu District Deputy District Commissioner William Cheruiyot Langat, traveled through more than 10 neighborhoods identified as potential hotspots for violence in the district. The peace caravan was also joined by priests and faithful from the parish of St. Joseph Milimani in the Archdiocese of Kisumu. "The caravan", continues the nun, "was followed by many people. Alongside the march, we organized three consecutive days of peace talks on Radio Maria Kisumu to raise people's awareness of the importance of promoting peace in every way during the electoral period. Local politicians urged us to repeat this type of initiative. We want to promote social harmony at this time, but also make people aware that peace cannot be achieved through violence. We would like to emphasize that the consequences of violence always hit first the weakest and most vulnerable, children, women and disabled, who are unable to escape or protect themselves". <br />Mon, 08 Aug 2022 21:23:11 +0200ASIA/UZBEKISTAN - The first vocation to female consecrated life in Samarkand - "Summer is a privileged time to increase faith, and here in Uzbekistan the Lord is granting us the grace to carry out a truly important work of formation and deepening of spirituality. Last year we priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word had just arrived in Samarkand and were unable to organize many activities because it was necessary to restore the church and all the parish environments; now that we have renewed spaces, we are happy to make them available to all Uzbek Catholic communities. Only a part of the summer has passed, yet we are already very happy with the results achieved so far". This is what Fr. Ariel Alvarez Toncovich, priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and parish priest of the church of St. John the Baptist in Samarkand, Uzbekistan said, talking about the summer pastoral activities dedicated to children and young people from all the parishes of the Central Asian country. One of the most beautiful fruits, the work of God's grace, reports the missionary, is the first religious vocation of an Uzbek girl, who expressed the desire to consecrate herself to God: a "little plant of faith" - he notes - that will be have to be cultivated on the path which has just begun in the Institute of the Incarnate Word, which will lead her towards the consecration of life. <br />Among the pastoral activities, the first pastoral appointment, in the month of July - says Fr. Ariel Alvarez Toncovich - was dedicated to the little ones: "For five days, we welcomed 22 children from Fergana, Bukhara and of course Samarkand. It may seem a small number when compared to other realities, but for the Church in Uzbekistan it is an important result. We spent the days dedicated to historical walks around the city, organizing mountain tours and games related to the Gospel. In this way, the children had the opportunity to have fun and learn", explains the missionary. <br />Also in July it was the turn of the young people to meet in the parish of St. John the Baptist: "We hosted 27 young people from all the Uzbek parishes. Also in this case - observes the missionary - we organized recreational activities, combined with formative moments, which touched on interesting topics for the daily life of young people. Furthermore, we tried to create the ideal conditions for the children to come and talk about their problems with us priests: many have told us about their concerns, including vocational ones. This is one of the most beautiful fruits of the experience. The five days were characterized by an atmosphere of joy, and the participants said they had lived according to 'a spirit of true Catholic Church'. It is a comment that made us reflect a lot". <br />In this period, the parish of Samarkand hosts the summer oratory dedicated to the children of the city: "We have about ten, and for us it is a beautiful thing because when we arrived there were only two. They come from families that have some Catholic grandfather or great-grandfather. In some cases, the parents are not baptized, but they want the children to come to us. As a Muslim grandmother, who regularly accompanies her grandchildren to the oratory, told me, the Catholic community is seen as a chance to give one's children a 'rich and open' education. Another grandfather told us that he sees the parish as a healthy environment for his grandson to grow. Often these children invite their peers, who of course we can only welcome if the parents agree and sign a permit. Many of them, at the wish of the families, will be baptized and will begin catechism". The greatest fruit of this work, explains Fr. Toncovich, is the first vocation to consecrated life in Samarkand: "One of the girls from our parish asked to enter the monastery: she is 21 years old, she always comes to mass and one day she talked to us about her vocation, saying that she wanted to consecrate herself to God, but she did not know how to do it because the only community of nuns present in Uzbekistan are very far from our city. A few months ago she entered the congregation of the Institute of the Incarnate Word and she began her novitiate path. This represents a reason for great joy for us also because, as John Paul II said, vocations are a sign of the vitality of parishes". Currently the small Uzbek Catholic community, made up of about 3,000 baptized, counts, throughout the country, 5 parishes: in addition to that of Samarkand, there are about 700 faithful in the capital Tashkent and there are others present in Bukhara, Urgench and Fergana. <br />Sat, 06 Aug 2022 13:25:53 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - The appeal of civil society to the government: Do not teach hatred towards minorities at school - "We want a curriculum that is in line with international standards for our country, which focuses on moral and ethical values. The government should not incorporate religious content in compulsory subjects such as Urdu and English. Article 22 of the Constitution of Pakistan states that 'No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instruction, or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own'. <br />We ask for this article to be respected as it promises protection for religious minorities in the learning environment", says Catholic leader Peter Jacob, director of the Center for Social Justice , an organization which is active in promoting human rights in Pakistan, to Fides. <br />In the light of a conference organized jointly by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops of Pakistan, Jacob notes: "We ask that a Commission on education reform be created, which examines previous educational policies. No one has ever analyzed the content of our school books and the side effects that occur in our society for years ". "It is necessary to strengthen inclusiveness in education - observes the leader - especially with respect to religious minorities and marginalized groups. Teaching Islamic content in compulsory subjects is unfair as even students of religious minorities are thus forced to study and take exams in these subjects". The CSJ appreciates the government of the Sindh province that has changed the school curriculum, taking into account the ethnic and religious diversity existing in the province. The NCJP is also analyzing the Single National Curriculum adopted in Pakistani schools in order to provide relevant suggestions. Christian and Muslim experts share the call to adopt and follow and implement a "Single National Curriculum" for education, conforming to international standards. Among the scholars, Riaz Shaikh, Muslim, Dean of the department of social sciences at the "Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology" in Islamabad, agrees in pointing out "discrimination and gender issues in the national curriculum", which then, he remembers, "it is neither followed nor implemented in the madrasas, the Islamic Seminaries". <br />Tauseef Ahmed Khan, member of Pakistan's Human Rights Commission, notes with concern that "our Curriculum includes content that sows hatred towards minority groups and this is becoming a source of hatred in the hearts of students for first time as early as 2004. We need our students to absorb content that speaks of peace, harmony and justice". <br />Kashif Aslam, NCJP Program Coordinator, speaking to Fides says: "We have done a great job over the past ten years to remove hate material from textbooks. We do not want it to go to waste. We need to eliminate contents that give rise to fundamentalism and also to violence". <br />Members of human rights and civil society groups hope that "the government will make sincere efforts to save education from any degeneration" and that the education system is inclusive and respectful of equal opportunities, so that all children can receive a high quality education. <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 12:52:49 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - Two years after the explosion of the port of Beirut: Patriarch Raï calls for an international investigation - Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï invites the Lebanese to believe "in the resurrection of Beirut and Lebanon, so that our nation can once again be 'the beacon of the East" and "the homeland of encounter and of dialogue of civilizations and religions". <br />But he also raises his "indignant voice" to all those responsible for the explosion that devastated the Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020 "whoever they are, and wherever they are". With these tones, the Lebanese Cardinal called on everyone to keep alive the memory of that tragic event which remains like an open wound in the recent history of the Lebanese nation. He did so in the homily delivered during the suffrage mass for the victims of the port explosion, celebrated in the Cathedral of St. George in Beirut on Thursday, August 4. Many families of the victims took part in the liturgical celebration, and no exponents of Lebanese institutions and political forces took part. <br />The explosion, defined in the past as "mysterious" by the Lebanese Cardinal himself, caused 221 deaths and more than 6,000 were injured, many of whom permanently disabled. <br />Two years after the tragedy of the Port of Beirut - the Maronite Patriarch remarked - the tragic story of the port of Beirut appears marked by two unpunished crimes: alongside the crime of the explosion, the crime of covering up investigations has also been added over time, defined by the Patriarch as "no less scandalous than the explosion", as it is configured as "a deliberate act" that sowed further pain among the families of the victims. The authorities - continued the Maronite Patriarch - "cannot ignore what happened: some caused the explosion, while others, who knew the existence of explosives and their dangers, escaped; others were silent and still others blocked the investigations, freezing the work of the judge in charge". <br />The Patriarch drew the scenario of a real sabotage, orchestrated with a certain division of roles by a certain number of officials of the political, institutional, judicial and intelligence apparatuses. "God" added Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï "will judge those responsible for the explosion and who blocked the investigation". The Maronite Patriarch also made a request for an independent international investigation to shed light on the explosion in the port of Beirut, freeing itself from sabotage and misdirection carried out in the internal Lebanese scenario. "If we insistently ask for the formation of a new government and the election of a new President of the Republic" - added the Maronite Patriarch - "it is because we want the story of the explosion in the port of Beirut to be placed at the top of their priorities, as a commitment to be made before God, the homeland and the families of the victims". <br />During the homily, Cardinal Raï also thanked Pope Francis for the words expressed by the Bishop of Rome in St. Peter's Square, at the conclusion of the general audience on Wednesday, August 3. "My thoughts", the Pope said, referring to the explosion in the port of Beirut, "goes to the families of the victims of that disastrous event and to the dear Lebanese people: I pray that everyone can be consoled by faith and comforted by justice and from the truth, which can never be hidden".<br /> On August 4, while commemorative ceremonies were underway in the Beirut port area to commemorate the tragedy, a second block of silos damaged by the explosion in 2020 collapsed. In recent weeks, due to high temperatures and of the fermentation of the grain still present in the silos, fires had broken out which further damaged, the already unsafe, structure. <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 12:41:56 +0200AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - More than 600 hostages of the Islamic State freed in northern Mozambique but attacks continue – More than 600 hostages have been freed by the Rwandan military contingent together with their Mozambican counterparts and the forces of the Southern African Development Community in the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique. <br />According to a statement released by the Rwanda Defense Force on August 2, the liberation is the result of offensive operations to destroy terrorist bases in the Catupa forest, northeast of the Macomia district based in the Cabo Delgado province. <br />"The terrorist groups of the Islamic State in Mozambique have been forced to flee to the localities of Nkoe and Nguida in the same district as they are still being tracked by the joint forces", the statement said. However, rebel formations continue to threaten villages and the main roads of the province. On August 1, terrorists attacked a column of vehicles from the Oasse area without an escort from the Defense and Security Forces on the stretch between Nova Zambézia and Vida Nova, resulting in the death of one of the drivers of the vehicles. In the seven weeks from June 1 to July 21, 90 attacks were recorded, almost two per day. The number of displaced people who fled their homes as a result of the war reached 946,508, an increase of 161,944 since February. Of these, 83,983 people fled attacks in the Ancuabe and Chiure districts in June as the war spread south, leading to a worsening of the humanitarian situation in southern Cabo Delgado. Of these, according to the IOM 138,231 were able to return home. <br />The propaganda of the Islamic State in Mozambique insists on giving a religious dimension to the conflict. After the July 26 assault on the village of Nangade, the terrorists claimed responsibility, claiming that they "beheaded three Christians". <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 12:33:50 +0200ASIA/INDIA - New ecclesial pathways and the need to adopt creative pastoral approaches for a “synodal Church” - "The Gospel speaks to us of the dream of Jesus for his disciples, for us. This dream of Jesus for his disciples has got two facets: Communion and Mission. In order to journey with the Church in her mission, we need to foster communion within and without", said Cardinal-designate Filipe Neri Ferrão, archbishop of Goa and Daman and Patriarch of East Indies and President of the Conference of Latin Catholic Bishops in India, during the national synodal gathering of the Latin Church, held in recent days in Paalanaa Bhavana, in the Pastoral Center of the Archdiocese of Bangalore, in the presence of Bishops, priests, religious, nuns and lay people of the Church of the Latin rite in India. <br />During the meeting, a team comprising of 15 bishops, 12 priests, 10 religious, and 27 lay leaders will validate and finalize the synthesis prepared by the National Synod Desk in collaboration with the CCBI Commission for Theology and Doctrine. The report will be sent to the General Secretariat of the Synod, in the Vatican, as a contribution from the Indian Catholic community of the Latin rite. <br />Msgr. Ferrao recalled the example of three great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr, who dreamed and built a better tomorrow for their peoples. <br />With this spirit the Latin Church has elaborated the synthesis, which will effectively serve "as a road map for the Church in India in the next decade", he said. <br />The synodal journey, he said, "is an opportunity for the Latin Church in India to discern new ecclesial paths and adopt creative pastoral approaches that help be a genuinely authentic synodal Church". <br />The paths indicated are those of "greater communion, participation and ecclesial mission, to be lived for the baptized in the subcontinent", according to the three aspects indicated by the Synod 2021-2023, to promote a synodal Church in all its aspects. <br />Among the themes present in the Synthesis of the works, regard the excessive clericalism of the Indian Church, the discrimination experienced by women in society and in the Church, the commitment to the protection of minors in schools and other institutions, the condition of the Dalits and of migrants and the need for greater commitment in youth ministry. <br />The document drawn up invites us to become "Church in listening, Church at service, humble Church". <br />The synthesis prepared by the Latin Church made use of the contribution of 60 delegates who, representing various dioceses across the country, presented a report with suggestions for the drafting of the final report which, as reported to Fides by Fr. Stephen Alathara, deputy secretary general of the CCBI, will be sent to the Holy See in Rome <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 11:30:12 +0200AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Month of the Catechist in Santa Cruz: "Walking together in Communion, Participation and Mission" Cruz – With the motto: "Forming in the faith at the service of God", the Commission for Catechesis and the Bible of the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz invites priests, animators of the Catechesis of Christian Initiation, catechists, together with the Coordinators, Councilors and Directors of Catechesis, to participate in the "Month of the Catechist, walking together in Communion, Participation and Mission". According to the note of the Episcopal Conference, sent to Fides, among the activities scheduled for this month, traditionally dedicated to catechists, there is a competition for the design and production of digital materials. In addition, messages, testimonies and short videos will be disseminated through the social networks of the Archdiocesan Commission for Catechesis during the month of August. From August 18 to 20, a training triduum has been organized that will take place in the parish of Nuestra Sra. De la Merced and will include the presentation of two topics: "Family models in the Bible" on the first day, and "Methods of narrative analysis of the Bible" on the second day. On Saturday 20 there will be a festive meeting of the Archdiocese, from 5 to 7 pm. On Sunday, August 21, National Catechist's Day, on the feast of Saint Pius X, Patron Saint of Catechists, a solemn mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral to which all catechists of the Archdiocese are invited. <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 11:12:01 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appeal of the Auxiliary Bishop of Minna: "Jungle justice". The country is on the path of disintegration - Violence continues to spread across the country, as well as kidnappings, killings, attacks on churches, clashes, and now even death threats against President Muhammadu Buhari. <br />This is how Msgr. Luka Sylvester Gopep, Auxiliary Bishop of Minna, describes the dramatic situation in an interview with Fides. <br />"The situation in Nigeria as a whole is very complicated", said the Bishop of the diocese located in the Middle Belt, the region of Nigeria that marks the border between the northern and southern parts of the country. <br />The interview in its entirety follows: <br /><br />D) A situation characterized by growing violence which frequently affects Christian communities. Can you describe the origin of this violence?<br /><br />A) The present state of violence in Nigeria began with a fundamentalist Islamic movement born in Maiduguri, the Capital City of Borno State called Boko Haram which literally means 'Western education is an abomination'. Its core teaching was to bring the social and developmental lives of the people in Nigeria under the authority and strict guidance of the Islamic Sharia Law. Boko Haram initially attacked government institutions but then began targeting Christians even outside Borno State. The Diocese of Minna which had been coexisting peacefully with the Islamic sects and groups in Niger State experienced a deadly attack in 2011. On that fateful Christmas Day, 25th December 2011, elements of the Boko Haram terrorist group attacked St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla. More than 60 people were killed and many more were injured and maimed permanently.<br />Then the murderous activities of the Boko Haram group spread to other communities in North Central Nigeria including Abuja FCT. It was then they went beyond Christian churches and target to attack Mosques and communities with significant Muslim populations, as well as, socio-political institutions and groups.<br /><br />D) But now there is not only Boko Haram to sow death and terror ... <br /><br />A) Precisely. Now things have become even more complicated because we are no longer confronted by the Boko Haram terrorists but by groups of bandits, armed Fulani shepherds who raid communities to steal herds of cattle, killing people and raping women and also gangs of kidnappers committed to kidnapping for the purpose of financial and material extortion. In order words, the current situation in Nigeria has gone beyond religiously motivated violence and clashes. it is much more than that and highly complex. For example, kidnappings do not only concern Christians because Muslims and African Traditionalists are also victims of kidnappings. Take the scenario of the mass kidnapping of passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28. Among those kidnapped were Christians and Muslims.<br /><br />D) How is the situation in the Diocese of Minna? <br /><br />A) In my diocese there are 16 parishes that are constantly subjected to heavy attacks by bands of kidnappers. The bandits arrive in these parishes even in broad daylight, capture entire families, leaving only the children, and take the adults away. Then they contact the relatives of the abductees to ask for ransoms. In some cases, some of the abductees died while some are maimed because of the harrowing experiences they pass through in the hands of the kidnappers. During the period when the bandits take away the people, their children are left alone in their homes and communities. As a Church we take on the task and responsibility of caring for these children, providing them with food and medical and psychological assistance.<br />If the ransom is paid, which is quite large, the abductees are released. But if nothing is paid, the kidnappers kill their victims. For example, two priests from the Archdiocese of Kaduna were killed by their kidnappers.<br />In some instances, some of our women and girls were kidnapped. Some of them were married off to the kidnappers, some were raped and some were sold off to other gangs for sex slavery. Some of our communities have been sacked by the incessant attacks of the bandits. The situation has created camps of refugees in different parts of Minna Diocese. The Church in Minna Diocese has taken up the duty of providing humanitarian assistance and emergency interventions for these our people irrespective of their religious affiliations. <br /><br />D) How is it possible that gangs of criminals cannot be stopped?<br /><br />A) It is unfortunate that the governments at the national and state levels in Nigeria have continued to pay lip service to the fight against insecurity. We are all witnesses to the haphazard efforts being made the government to get us to believe that our leaders are fighting insecurity and insurgency. We are still waiting for the time a person or group of persons will be arrested and charged to court for aiding and abetting insecurity or banditry in Nigeria.<br />It is most shocking that despite the fact we live in a technologically advanced era, the government of Nigeria has not been able to deploy any form of technological equipment to aid in finding the insurgents and the bandits terrorizing virtually every corner of Nigeria.<br />It is laughable that most of the victims of the train attack are still in captivity after four months. Recently, their captors even carried out an attack on the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Kuje to release some of their fellow insurgents in jail. Nobody has been arrested, nobody has been called to answer for it and nobody has resigned for failure to carry out his/her duty. Sometimes we hear that the government knows where the bandits are hiding. If that is true, why has nothing been done to arrest them or checkmate their deadly activities? Every Nigerian, except those in government, are wondering what our governments are doing. Some have even wondered aloud that maybe some of the government officials are part of the kidnapping and insecurity problems besieging us. Nobody can blame Nigerians for thinking this way because if some people in government do not know anything about the tragic situations, why have they not scaled up the fight against violence and arrest the criminals.<br />We all know that the government's primary duty is to protect the people who elected it. If our government alone is unable to guarantee the safety of Nigerians, why does it not ask for assistance from other countries? A paradox if we consider that our army is engaged in peacekeeping and assistance operations in various countries. Nigeria is good at helping neighboring countries to restore stability. Why is it not able to do this on its own national territory? These are the questions we ask the government that are not being answered.<br /><br />D) Nigeria is a federal state. Are there differences in the approach to the problem between federal institutions and those of individual states? <br /><br />A) The efforts of the Federal Government have been centred on utilizing the Nigerian Army and the Federal Nigeria Police Force. The success rate of these efforts has been largely minimal and in some instances, we suspect that there are members of the military and police that are colluding with the bandits while some are sympathetic to them. The below average performance of the federal security agencies made some state to begin quasi security outfits like the Amotekun in the Western part of Nigeria. These state-dependent vigilante groups which are also called the Civilian JTF in the Northern parts of Nigeria have recorded tremendous successes in combating the bandits. The biggest challenge they have is that they are poorly equipped to fight the bandits who have superior firearms. We know that the vigilante groups are made up of the locals trying to protect themselves and their loved ones.<br />On some occasions, we have witnessed the Federal security outfits working against the local vigilante groups. For instance, there are cases of suspected terrorists or bandits who were arrested by the vigilante groups and handed over to the Federal Police for prosecution but they disappeared without any trace. Such occasions have placed strains on the collaborative relationships between the police and the vigilante groups. Now we are witnessing the phenomenon of the so-called "justice of the jungle" which occurs when the local vigilante groups arrest bandits, they do not hand them over to the local authorities but carry out extrajudicial killings.<br /><br />D) The Church has long warned that this situation is unsustainable and that Nigeria risks imploding. What happens to these appeals?<br /><br />A) Since the current crisis was at its brewing stage, we, the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria, had been pointing out the impending dangers to the governments at all levels in Nigeria. Through our annual communiqués, meetings with political leaders and stakeholders and the sending of strong delegations to the government at different times, we issued continued to warn of the calamities that have befalling our country. In those instances, the national and state leaders promised to take note of our warnings and suggestions, but they did not fulfill their promises. As soon as they left the bishops, they went back to business as usual. In 2020, when the situation became most troubling and innocent citizens including priests were being murdered at will, the bishops mustered Catholic faithful and people of goodwill all over the federation and we embarked on a peaceful protest against the incessant killings in our land. All the times the bishops issued statements, they continued to remind our governments that their greatest duty is the protection of the lives and property of Nigerians. This we have done despite the rebuff of our appeals by men and women in leadership positions at the federal and state levels of government in Nigeria. The bishops cannot go beyond their pastoral missions as shepherds of the people of God to descend into the political arena of Nigeria. We will not get tired of carrying out our duties as citizens of our country Nigeria by advising the government when necessary and carrying out our numerous civic responsibilities. In Minna Diocese, the bishops go out to meet with the people who are suffering and displaced from their homelands to console them and assist them. <br />Let us note that presently many communities are forming local self-defence groups without resort to the state or federal authorities. This is a consequence of the government's inability to guarantee the safety of citizens and ideally speaking, it is a violation of the law. When local populations form self-defense militias it means that the government is losing legitimacy and control of the monopoly of force. If this continues, the country is on the way to disintegration. But the people in different communities are helpless in the face of increase violence and destruction of lives and property in their homelands. If nothing is done about this situation, I hope the politicians, who are only concerned about the forthcoming elections, will not have empty villages, towns and cities to rule when the elections are over in 2023. <br />Fri, 05 Aug 2022 08:32:50 +0200ASIA/INDONESIA - Contemplative charism in Indonesia: a Trappist monastery under construction on the island of Borneo - "I am very happy to see what is happening now in Pegadungan. The time has come for the 'children', that is, the local religious, to take care of the mother, the Netherlands, where there is a shortage of religious vocations ", says to Fides, Dutch Trappist Fr. Hector Majoor OCSO, referring to the presence of Trappist abbeys in Holland and those born and established in Indonesia. In the Asian archipelago, in fact, a new Trappist monastery will be built in Indonesian Borneo, precisely in Pegadungan, in the diocese of Ketapang, province of West Kalimantan. <br />As Fides learned, Father Mikael Santana OCSO, of the Order of Cistercian monks of strict observance, went to the place to found the new community. In recent days, Msgr. Pius Riana Prapdi, Bishop of Ketapang, anointed and blessed the place where the Trappist monastery of the diocese of Ketapang will be founded, the fourth in Indonesia. Many Trappist monks were present at the ceremony, as well as priests, brothers and sisters who work in the diocese of Ketapang. Speaking to Agenzia Fides, Bishop Pio Riana Prapdi says: "The presence of the Trappist monastery in our diocese is important because we need your prayers". It was Bishop Emeritus Msgr. Blasius Pujaraharja who first invited the Cistercian Order to found a new monastery in his diocese, in Pegadungan, an isolated place, an oasis of silence, peace and tranquility, suitable for contemplation. <br />The current Bishop of Ketapang, Msgr. Pius Riana Prapdi, who maintains close relations with the Trappist monastery of Rawaseneng, wanted to realize the idea, founding a Trappist house in Pegadungan. <br />The bishop joyfully welcomed the Trappist community in the diocese of Ketapang starting from mid-July 2022. Fr. Mikael Santana OSCO will prepare in the coming weeks everything necessary to legalize the official establishment of the new Trappist monastery in West Kalimantan, which joins three others already established in the Asian nation. In fact, the first Trappist monastery in Indonesia, named after Saint Mary, was officially founded in 1953 in Rawaseneng, in the Tetangung district of Central Java, as a "branch" of the Dutch Trappist abbey of Konigshoeven based in Tilburg. <br />More than thirty years later, in 1987, the Trappist monastery "The Unifying Mother", the first female Trappist monastery in Indonesia, was founded in Gedono on the slopes of Mount Merbabu - also in Central Java. In 1996, it was the diocese of Larantuka, on the Indonesian island of Flores, that took a step forward, establishing a new Trappist monastery in Lamanabi, with Father Mikael Santana, from Rawaseneng, charged with initiating this mission. <br />Thu, 04 Aug 2022 13:06:05 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Bishops' appeal to young people. "Go and vote and do not get carried away by violence" - "Young people, this is your future! Go and vote", exhorts His Exc. Msgr. Antony Muheria, Archbishop of Nyeri, in one of the videos published by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections on August 9. <br />This election eve is characterized by a certain apathy, especially on the part of young people, disillusioned by the promises made in previous electoral campaigns. However, concerns about post-election violence remain as in the past. In the post-election violence of 2007-08, more than 1,100 people were killed, mainly in clashes between Kikuyu and Kalenjin. A concern echoed by Archbishop Muheria, who in his video message recommends young people "preserve peace" because "peace is a gift from God". For this reason, the Archbishop of Nyeri warns not to fall victim to "political machinations" or the lure of tribalism and incitement to hatred. "Do not be an instrument of violence. Too many times young people have been instrumentalized to incite violence. For this reason, you must reject all forms of corruption or manipulation towards violence," says Bishop Muheria. "Once you have voted, do not stay near the polls, go home. Do not be a source of agitation and concern. Go home and wait for the results. Go home and pray for the success of the vote", suggests Msgr. Muheria. <br />When choosing who to vote, Archbishop Muheria says "do not look at tribal belonging". "Ultimately," says the Archbishop of Nyeri, "elections are not a matter of life and death, but about the day-to-day building of our nation. With our vote, we give the winners the opportunity to lead the country for a period of time. Those who lose the elections will have another opportunity to lead the country in the next elections." The Apostolic Nuncio in Nairobi, His Exc. Monsignor Hubertus van Megen has also launched an appeal to Kenyans to show that they are capable of respecting the democratic system and accepting the democratically elected leader, whatever his tribe or region. Four candidates run for president; the favorites are the current vice president, William Ruto, and Raila Odinga, former leader of the opposition. <br />Thu, 04 Aug 2022 12:53:17 +0200AFRICA/EGYPT - Coptic Christians prepare for the "Fasting of the Virgin Mary" - Orthodox Copts around the world are preparing to live the time of penance known as "fasting of the Holy Virgin Mary", praying with special intentions for Patriarch Tawadros II. The time of prayer and fasting lasts 15 days, starting on August 7 and ending on August 22, when the Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In his last sermon in Cairo, during the traditional weekly catechesis on Wednesday, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II suggested that everyone take advantage of the time of fasting and prayer in August to entrust themselves to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, to whom he has defined as "treasure of all virtues". <br />In the Coptic tradition, fasting consists of excluding wine , oil and animal proteins and consuming only bread, pasta, rice, olives, vegetables and fresh or dried fruit. Coptic Christians can potentially observe longer fasting times than in other Christian communities. In a year, the days on which fasting is prescribed or recommended are 210. Furthermore, during fasting periods no food should be eaten from sunrise to sunset. These strict fasting rules are usually moderated in ordinary pastoral practice. The fasting time most intensively observed by Coptic Christians is the "Great Fast" of Lent that precedes Easter. Other fasting times, in addition to the that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are those observed in Advent and the so-called "Nineveh Fast", which precedes the Lenten fast by 3 weeks and is based on the fast required by the prophet Jonah of the inhabitants of that corrupt city. <br />Thu, 04 Aug 2022 12:39:41 +0200AFRICA/SOMALIA - The United Nations intervenes: crisis, drought and terrorist attacks - "The recent attack by Al Shabab in Ethiopia is another demonstration of the will of the terrorist group to become an international structure and not just Somali". This is reported by sources from Somalia to Agenzia Fides, speaking about the terrorist attacks recorded in recent weeks . <br />"Hundreds of well-armed and trained men entered Ethiopia countered by a strong response from the Ethiopian Army - continues the source -. The number of Ethiopian casualties is unknown, while there is talk of a hundred dead in the ranks of Al Shabab, including the Somali-Swedish Islamist militant Fuad 'Shangole' and two other prominent leaders". <br />The Al Shabab attack in Ethiopia coincides with the serious crisis due to the drought and the very strong internal clashes between the ENDF and the Oromo Liberation Army armed group, while the delicate peace process continues with the Tigrays. On the other hand, while the specter of famine has reappeared in the country that is experiencing its worst conditions in forty years, with four consecutive failed rainy seasons, a positive signal comes from the international organizations that are helping Somalia in this dramatic moment. <br />The UN has allocated 9.5 million dollars to intervene in the Bay region, one of the most affected in the country by the phenomenon and the terrorist attacks. In the first three months of 2022, drought forced more than half a million people to flee their villages in search of help, often walking day and night, with young children and babies. Clashes between Al Shabab and the Ethiopian military are reportedly continuing, and in Beledweyne, Somalia, an Ethiopian army delegation met with a Somali delegation to discuss the fight against the terrorist group and coordinate military actions. Meanwhile, in Mogadishu, the change in government is bringing about big changes in the area. The new Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is applying a new national reconciliation strategy that includes a new political approach in addition to the military struggle . <br />The appointment of the former deputy head of Al Shabab, Robow Abu Mansur, as Minister of Religious Affairs is interpreted in this light. This appointment is causing a lot of discussion but, according to the source, who has requested anonymity for security reasons, "it is a fundamental step in the fight against Al Shabab and national pacification." Foreign comment on the appointment of the former leader of Al Shabab has been very different. Robow disassociated himself from the terrorist group and became a target for the terrorists. While he was with Al Shabab, the Americans had put a $5,000,000 bounty on his head. He had been arrested and imprisoned by the government of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo. Currently, more than 7 million Somalis suffer from acute food insecurity, 1.5 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, 386,000 of them in a severe form and risk their lives if they do not receive urgent treatment. <br />Thu, 04 Aug 2022 12:21:22 +0200