Fides News English Agency Newsen-usAFRICA/CONGO DR - The youth of South Kivu with the Bishops against the amendment of the Constitution - Positions taken in favor of the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo who in their last pastoral letter oppose to a revision of the Constitution which would give President Joseph Kabila the possibility to run for a third presidential term multiply . <br />The Bishops' position has sparked a series of acts of intimidation on behalf of the so-called "young Catholics". In response to these acts of intimidation, young Catholics and non of civil society in South Kivu launched the signing of a petition in support of the Bishops' Conference of the DRC. "We reject the actions of some selfish manipulated young people, who are mostly supporters of those politicians who have destroyed the Country and that cloud the future of future generations with their self-centered policies", reads the text of the petition, sent to Fides Agency. <br />Recalling that young people are 70% of the Congolese population, they are invited to avoid being manipulated by politicians: "We are the tip of the spear of the nation. This is why we must be aware of our responsibility for the future of democracy in the Country".<br />The Bishops of the United States have offered their support to their Congolese confreres with a letter sent by His Exc. Mgr. Richard Pates, Bishop of Des Moines and President of the International Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Episcopal Conference of the United States, to Russ Feingold , American special envoy to the Great Lakes Region and in the DRC. The letter criticizes Kabila’s attempt of trying to change the Constitution. "This political maneuver excludes the opposition and destroys the peaceful democratic process", said Mgr. Pates. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Russian Orthodox organization to Iraqi President: free Tareq Aziz - The President of the Imperial Society of Palestine, Serghey Stapashin, sent a message to the newly-elected Iraqi President Fuad Masum to ask for the release of former Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq Tareq Aziz, former right-hand man of Saddam Hussein, in prison for 12 years. "This 78-year-old man - says Stapashin’s letter-appeal, sent to the Russians national media and consulted by Fides - is seriously ill. He has had a stroke and suffers from acute diabetes and problems with the heart and lungs". If the Iraqi authorities agree to show mercy "amid this unprecedented violence and the atrocities committed by Islamic State terrorists, it would help further promote the principles of humanism in Iraqi society and would send a clear and positive signal to the entire international community". Rumors about a possible imminent release of Tareq Aziz had already circulated in early September. Earlier, in 2010, the Criminal Court of Baghdad had issued a death sentence against him, recognizing him guilty of "crimes against humanity". At the beginning of 2013 his lawyers had made known his intention to appeal in writing to the Pope, to let people know that he preferred to be executed rather than endure imprisonment in pitiful conditions. Tareq Aziz, a native of Tal Kaif, in the Nineveh Plain, belongs to a Christian family of Chaldean tradition. The Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, founded in 1882 by Tsar Alexander III also to strengthen the presence of Tsarist Russia in the Middle East, was closed after the Revolution in 1917, but since 1992 it was again registered by the Russian authorities with its historic name. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDONESIA - The Church supports the campaign against mining exploitation in Flores - Thousands of priests, religious and laity of all the parishes, secondary school and university students on the island of Flores, the Catholic stronghold in Indonesia, gathered to challenge the mining projects on the island. The awareness campaign against mining exploitation in Flores, which would seriously damage the environment, has been going on for months and found a moment of high visibility on October 13. <br />As reported by the news service of the Episcopal Conference of Indonesia, consulted by Fides, the local diocese of Ruteng officially reiterated its position contrary to mining projects. The diocese covers an area where almost 700 thousand Catholics live, who make up 93% of the total population. "The Diocese of Ruteng believes that the initiation of mines for the extraction of manganese, gold and iron would cause serious ecological damage and endanger the lives of people in Flores. The mining exploitation will result in a systematic and massive impoverishment of the indigenous population", with the possible consequence of "triggering social conflict, alter tribal and state laws". It will also predictably cause, "business companies to hire security teams to intimidate the residents", reads a document published in 2014 after the Synod of the Diocese of Ruteng. Such dynamics are known and recorded in the neighboring Philippine island of Mindanao. <br />The event was organized on 13 October by the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Diocese of Ruteng and was carried out in a completely peaceful manner, with spiritual songs and recitation of the Rosary. The Bishop of Ruteng, His Exc. Mgr. Hubertus Leteng, remarked "the duty to protect the integrity of creation". The protesters called on the government to block local projects and mining permits. They also ask legislators to enact a clear regulation, in order not to leave foreign companies under the arbitrary management of the environment and life of the island. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Asia Bibi’s sentence damages tolerance in Pakistan - "Tolerance and forgiveness are two important values, which are present not only in Christianity but also in Islam, and in other religions in the world. We are working hard for religious harmony in Pakistan and in spreading a message of peace and tolerance. Many prominent Muslim scholars are by our side. The judgment confirming the death penalty for Asia Bibi also damages the path we are taking and the work we are doing, in harmony with Muslim leaders". This is the opinion expressed to Fides Agency by Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, Provincial Superior of the Capuchins in Pakistan and founder of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue in Lahore. <br />The friar said: "We totally disagree with the confirmation of the death penalty. It is a very painful and disappointing thing. The court has not proven true justice, because Asia never committed blasphemy. The trial is based on the testimony of two women , but there is something else behind the allegations, the trial is the result of a conspiracy", concludes Fr. Naddem. The Franciscans of Pakistan will continue to pray for Asia Bibi and all the innocent victims of the misuse of the blasphemy law. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BOLIVIA - 50% of children who are born with Chagas' disease do not receive any medical care Paz - Chagas disease is an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of bugs of various kinds. It causes stomach pain, heart disease, and is also the cause of death. In Bolivia, half of the children who are infected with congenital Chagas receive no care because, for cultural reasons, parents oppose. In this emergency, the Brazilian Embassy has just donated 30 000 medicines for 250 children born with the disease. According to the director of the National Program of Chagas disease of the Ministry of Health, in 2013, 67 327 pregnant women underwent controls. Of these, 19,327 were positive to the disease. The test was also carried out on 15,055 children born in the Chaco region, among these 232 were positive and only 130 received medication. That is to say that about 50% of children suffering from congenital Chagas have no access to care. <br />In some small communities in Chaco parents refuse consent because they fear for the child's life. Currently, local health authorities have engaged in the dissemination of information about the disease. According to data of the National Program for Chagas disease, in Bolivia from 2006 to date 2,581 cases among children aged one to five have been recorded, 23,544 in the age group between 5 and 15 and 58,580 people over 15 years of age. The Government carries out prevention campaigns in endemic areas of the Country: departments of Cochabamba, Tarija and Chuquisaca. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL – Bishops’ statement: "No backtrack on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" - The President of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil on October 23, released a statement expressing his concern about the rights of indigenous peoples, after the decision of the Federal Supreme Court to cancel the effects of the ordinances of the Ministry of Justice that acknowledged the territories occupied by indigenous people in the states of Maranhão and Mato Grosso do Sul. The statement, sent to Fides Agency, was approved by the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference, who gathered in Brasilia, from October 21 to 23. <br />"The Bishops' Conference hopes there is no 'backtrack' in the conquest of indigenous rights, in particular as regards to the demarcation of their territories", the statement said. "The guarantee of the territories of indigenous peoples is a right achieved and ratified in the Federal Constitution, through the arduous struggle of many people of Brazilian society. Unfortunately, economic interests have prevented the demarcation of indigenous lands, which is the realization of the constitutional right. Therefore, most of the indigenous peoples of Brazil continues to live in exile from their land because of the historical dispossession and violence committed against their communities". <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The statement of the Episcopal Conference of Brazil, in Portuguese</a>Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Ecology, "common ground" for the three Abrahamic religions - In a world marked by the upsurge of fundamentalism and ethno-religious sectarianism, ecology arises as a possible area of convergence and cooperation among the different religious traditions, beginning with those that share the same origin in Abraham, father of all believers. This is the key message highlighted during the conference entitled "Faith and Ecology", held on Wednesday, October 22 in Jerusalem and co-organized by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Studium Theologicum Salesianum. <br />Several speeches were held by representative members of the three monotheistic religions present in the Holy Land. Among others, Fr. Biju Michael SDB, director of the Studium Theologicum Salesianum, gave an account of the growing interest in environmental issues developed in Catholic circles especially in the wake of the Magisterium of the recent Popes, with detailed references to St. John Paul II. Rabbi Michael Melchior highlighted the importance of his religious tradition in contributing to the preservation of Creation, even for the benefit of future generations. While Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, revived the biblical foundation of the integrity of Creation, referring to the story of Genesis.<br />Mgr. Shomali - as reported by the official sources of the Latin Patriarchate – recalled that water pollution in the Gaza Strip and in the region of Jerusalem is a real problem for the peoples of the Holy Land. Imam Wisam Bahrum exposed the Islamic perspective on environmental issues, interpreting the story of Noah and the Ark of the Covenant as an expression of the divine command to protect plants and animals. While the scholar Nurit Yaffe, of the Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, on addressing environmental issues from a scientific perspective drew the urgency of global political choices inspired by the realization that "the resources we share on earth are limited" and some of them - such as oil - are not renewable. For this reason - he reiterated - all mankind is inevitably involved in issues related to the sustainable management of the environment, and also the various religious traditions find a potential ground for common action. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Millions of children and young people feel unsafe in their families York City - Every five minutes a child dies as a result of acts of violence. According to a recent report released by UNICEF, entitled "Children in danger: Take action to end violence against children", millions of children and young people under 20 feel unsafe in their homes, schools and communities. Among the disturbing data highlighted is that, worldwide, a child dies every 5 minutes for violence. The phenomenon concerns the whole world, it is something that is not limited to the most remote countries. In fact, it appears that 75% of child deaths in the world occur outside the areas of military conflict. It is a global problem of epidemic proportions. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/LIBYA - Despite the clashes in Benghazi markets are well stocked - "We continue to live in fear and insecurity. We hope that better times arrive soon", says to Fides Agency His Exc. Mgr. Sylvester Carmel Magro, Apostolic Vicar of Benghazi, the capital of Cyrenaica, where he says, "every day we hear the echoes of the fighting on the outskirts of the city", between the forces of general Haftar and Islamist groups that control it. Mgr. Magro informs that despite the fighting, "thank God there is no shortage of food supplies. There is bread and markets and supermarkets are well stocked". "These are times of prayer and patience", concluded Mgr. Magro, who is preparing to welcome the faithful who have stayed for Sunday Mass. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Appeal and prayers for the students kidnapped: "Let them come back alive" - "The pilgrimage-march held yesterday, October 23 ended with an appeal for reconciliation on behalf of the Bishop of Chilpancingo-Chilapa , His Exc. Mgr. Alejo Zavala Castro, and his request to the kidnappers of 43 students to "let them come back alive. The march started from the "Normal rurale Ayotzinapa", the school attended by the children abducted, and was attended by parents, teachers, students, members of religious congregations and residents of the area. After four hours of walking, the march ended with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Mgr. Zavala Castro. <br />According to the note sent to Fides Agency from local sources, the Bishop thus expressed the feelings of all participants: "we are saddened for this disappearance, and this mass is celebrated to invite everyone to live in harmony and to respect life". The Mass began at 5 pm. <br />The 43 students were abducted by armed men. Also several members of the local municipal police were arrested because they were recognized as those who carried out the first armed aggression where 6 people were killed and about twenty were wounded. A few days later mass graves with the bodies of people killed even by the municipal police were found. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/COTE D'IVOIRE - Appointment of the Rector of "St. Paul" Major Seminary in the Diocese of Yopougon City – On September 19, 2014 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Bonzo Jean Kouassi, of the diocesan clergy of Grand-Bassam as Rector of the "San Paolo" national philosophical Major Seminary called "Abadjin-Kouté" in the diocese of Yopougon . <br />The new Rector was born in Dabou on March 30, 1972 and was ordained a priest on April 26 2003. He studied philosophy at the Abadjin-Kouté Major Seminary and theology at the Major Seminary in Anyama. In 2008 he obtained a Licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Université Catholique de l'Afrique de l'Ouest and in 2011 a Doctorate at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome. He held various pastoral positions at a diocesan and national level, even before being ordained. Fri, 24 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HONDURAS - A new location of the detention center in San Pedro Sula for the sake of prisoners Pedro Sula - "Five months of work without interruption" says with satisfaction Mgr. Rómulo Emiliani Sánchez, C.M.F., Auxiliary Bishop of San Pedro Sula , who hopes for the arrival of other resources in order to end the new location for the prison of his diocese next year. In this way, the prison population will be transferred into the new complex where the cells, laboratories and space for activities will contribute to improving the quality of life of prisoners. <br />According to statistics, there are more than 16,000 inmates in 24 prisons in the country and the most crowded is the one in San Pedro Sula, which is in the city center. The new complex under construction is located outside the city. At the moment the prison of San Pedro Sula exceeds twice the number of prisoners it could accept, with obvious consequences regarding the dignity of prisoners. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - New attacks and another 60 girls kidnapped: the possibility of a truce with Boko Haram vanishes - Hopes for peace vanishes after 5 people were killed in a bomb attack this morning at a bus station in Azari, in the State of Bauchi , and the abduction of 60 girls in the State of Adamawe. According to the local press, 40 girls were kidnapped in Waga Mangoro, and another 20 in Garta in two attacks during which several houses were burned. <br />In recent days, rumors had spread about a possible ceasefire agreement between the Government of Abuja and the Islamist group Boko Haram with the release of the famous 200 girls abducted in Chibock in April. <br />The news of the new kidnappings came as Parliament in Abuja was approving the request of President Goodluck Jonathan of a billion dollars in emergency funds to buy arms to fight Boko Haram. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/ALGERIA - The Inter-diocesan Assembly of the Catholic Church begins tomorrow - Forty representatives of the four Catholic dioceses of Algeria will meet in Algiers on Friday 24and Saturday, 25th October for the National Inter-diocesan Assembly of the Catholic Church. <br />The meeting of reflection, prayer and study of the problems will be held at the Church of Notre Dame d'Afrique and at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The Assembly is an important step in the path taken by Catholic communities in Algeria this year, marked by several moments of communion and inter-diocesan dialogue. <br />"From the earliest ages - reads the prayer written on the occasion of the inter-diocesan Year and distributed to all Algerian communities - You have not stopped calling the disciples to be signs of your love for all, without distinction, in our Country. From the days of the early martyrs to this day, You have not ceased to show the path of Your gospel through the lives of holy men and women of our people. You can see, Lord, that our everyday life is not always easy. At times we are not welcomed, we are humiliated, rejected, but we know that You will not abandon us. Forgive us when we are not faithful or when fear makes us deny you. And thank you for your ardent Spirit, that guides us during our pilgrimage on earth". Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/BENIN - New schooling project for 450 children in the north of the Countryé - The NGO Educo, born from the union of Intervida and Educación Sin Fronteras, has promoted a project of education and improvement of educational institutions in Sinendé, in northern Benin, 564 kilometers from the capital Porto Novo. The project is aimed at children between six and eight years of age. The formation will be financed by sponsors. The NGO is looking for 450 families who can economically support 450 children living in extreme poverty. The association ensures that it will finance the education of children, providing them with school material and trying to improve their living conditions, as well as renovating schools. Sinendé is a rural area where predominantly peasant families live. Educo has been active in 68 schools in Benin and in 6 communities for 3 years. It is a global NGO of cooperation for the development and protection of children's rights. Benin is a country where 47% of the population lives on less than $ 1.25 a day. Life expectancy is 59 years and the infant mortality rate of children under 5 years of age is 90 per thousand live births. The rate of female illiteracy among adults is 72%, while among men is 55%. The NGO is engaged in 16 Countries around the world in favor of 500,000 children. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200EUROPE/SPAIN - Every year 100,000 Christians die because of religious persecution - The Center for the Studies of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that about 100,000 Christians die every year because of their religious beliefs, that is to say one every five minutes. In addition, in many Countries, many other religious minorities suffer violence and persecution. Just to name a few, in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sudan, Pakistan, Somalia and Egypt, the Christian elderly, women, men and their children live in conditions of total insecurity. They are driven from their homes; put in prison for blasphemy, and brutally killed during liturgical celebrations, churches are burned. Girls are kidnapped and forced to marry. Among the various initiatives in favor of freedom of religion and worship, the Spanish Foundation CitizenGo, created to promote respect in all contexts of human dignity and the rights that flow from it, and the International Foundation Novae Terrae have promoted a petition for the protection of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and in other parts of the world where the phenomenon is constant. So far more than 200 thousand people have signed. The two foundations urge European leaders and other continents to engage in favor of freedom of religion and worship, against any kind of persecution. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Decree of the Chaldean Patriarch on priests and religious expatriates without the consent of their superiors - "Before the ordained, the “Priest” announces the offering of his whole life to God and the Church. It is an offering grounded in the obedience to the superiors without any conservation". For monks, "the vows are absolute: chastity, obedience, and poverty". This is the strong reminder regarding the commitments related to the priestly and religious vocation, expressed in the Decree published on Wednesday, October 22 by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael I, in order to highlight the disciplinary action taken against some priests and religious Chaldeans that in recent years have left Iraq without the consent of their superiors, seeking asylum in Western Countries. <br />"We – says the Patriarchal Decree, sent to Fides Agency - have bright examples of priests from our days that give us eloquent faith lessons". The Patriarch mentions the priests who shed their blood for sake of the flock: Hana Qasha, Ragheed Ganni and Bishop Paulus Faraj Rahho, and the priests who have been kidnapped yet stayed in their country and churches as well as the priests who have been expelled from their places yet they have journeyed with their flock! Then, according to the Canon Law and monastic regulations, the Decree suspends from practicing priestly ministry six monks and six diocesan priests who have left their dioceses and religious communities in Iraq to emigrate and move abroad without the consent of their superiors, assuming pastoral duties at the Chaldean communities in the diaspora. <br />The publication of the Decree - warns Patriarch Louis Raphael I - was preceded by due consultations with the permanent synod of the Chaldean Church and the Congregation of the Oriental Churches, and came after "several and unfortunately unfruitful, ultimatums and attempts" put in place in the past by the previous authorites of the Church and religious communities, in order to put a stop to the deplorable phenomenon, which has caused a scandal among the faithful of the Chaldean Church. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200EUROPE/SPAIN - Concerned about "our" problems, while thousands of people die every day - "Obviously World Mission Day in Spain had a shadow of sadness and sorrow: the death of two missionaries and a nurse infected with ebola" recalls the public letter of SCAM , written by missionaries from various religious and secular congregations present in Spain, sent to Fides. "We stand in solidarity with health care operators in all countries, and with all those who are engaged in the defense of others - continues the text - while we thank those who make the Spanish society reflect on several serious problems that are elsewhere". <br />The missionaries claim that an important part of the authorities, politicians and the media have focused their criticism on the "possible irresponsibility of Teresa", the nurse infected with Ebola and then cured. "It is shameful not to recognize and evaluate, above all, her attitude of service, dedication and sacrifice in a risky job". <br />The Spanish missionary organization is also saddened because "another sector of the population gave repeated evidence of selfishness, individualism and stubbornness, with an exaggerated concern for 'our' problems - for our safety - completely forgetting the countries most affected with ebola and, of course, other diseases and disasters that cause thousands of deaths every day. Someone rightly said that these people think and are concerned about saving themselves from the poor rather than saving the poor, raising all kinds of walls and barriers that isolate them. In this globalized world it is no longer possible: either we save everybody or we die together!"<br />In conclusion, the missionaries write: "We ask the authorities and all Spanish society, to treat migrants, who have left their homeland and family in order to seek a better life with all the dignity they deserve". Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/ZAMBIA - The Church's contribution to the growth of the nation after 50 years of independence - "The Catholic Church is part of the Zambian society, and shares the joys and sorrows of the nation. This is why there is great respect, and her influence has grown, thanks to her prophetic voice", says to Fides Agency Fr. Bernard Makadani Zulu, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Zambia, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of national independence. <br />The Church has given, and continues to provide an essential contribution to the material and spiritual growth of the Country. In the health field, for example, the Church through its 17 hospitals, 38 rural health centers and other base community programs, provides 40% of healthcare in the Country. Even the program that allowed Zambia to reduce the incidence of AIDS had a strong support from the Church. As recalled by Fr. Bernard, "the Church has taken care of the poor, providing service to more than 200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and more than 100,000 children orphaned because of the virus". <br />Also the contribution of the Church in education and in that of economic development is also important. Among other things, the Church has promoted the success of organic and sustainable agriculture. <br />The Catholic community in the past 50 years has become self-sufficient in terms of Church personnel, thanks to a number of priestly and religious vocations, to the point that Zambian missionaries were sent to Nigeria, Rwanda, Cameroon, Paraguay, Italy, Usa, England. <br />In combining the past with the future, Fr. Bernard indicates, among the future challenges the Church has to face, the gap between rich and poor, the spread of witchcraft and Satanism and alcoholism. To cope with these problems the Church must have the ability to deepen faith, increase economic independence and promote evangelization through the use of new and old media . Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200EUROPE/SLOVAKIA - Reaching out to young people and drawing their attention to the mission of the Church - With the objective of reaching the younger generation and drawing their attention to the efforts made by the Church in the mission field, the Pontifical Mission Societies in Slovakia have launched their new website. Fr. Viktor Jakubov, National Director of the PMS, informs Fides Agency that information on the objectives and activities of the PMS, updates on projects funded and news of the Churches in mission territories are found on the new site. In addition, the site aims to keep the focus on the problem of poverty and discrimination of all kinds. Connected with social media, the new site features easier Web surfing and can be seen on tablets and other laptops. The PMS hopes that through the new site a greater number of people can be involved, especially young people, in the work of spreading the faith. <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The site of the PMS in Slovakia</a>Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0200