Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PAKISTAN - The Bishops of Pakistan: in Kashmir the only path is dialogue : "I urge the leadership of Pakistan and India to work to resolve conflicts through dialogue and to work hard to build peace. In the climate of growing political intolerance between India and Pakistan, the population of Kashmir suffers and pays the highest price": this is what Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and Chairman of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue & Ecumenism , within the Catholic Bishops’ conference declares to Agenzia Fides.<br />The Archbishop led a delegation of Christians, Muslims and Hindus to the border of Wagha - on the border between Pakistan and India, near the city of Lahore - to launch a special message of peace and harmony between the two countries. The delegation asked for peace in Kashmir and planted an olive tree on the Indo-Pakistani border, to symbolize the birth of a new hope for reconciliation and peace.<br />Archbishop Sebastian states: "We propose to both governments to choose the path of dialogue and to find a solution. The real success for both countries is to always achieve and promote peace and social harmony. The Kashmir issue cannot be resolved through war and violence: the killing of innocent people is always a defeat for humanity". The Archbishop adds: "Let us be inspired by the passage of the Gospel which says: Blessed are the peacemakers . We invite all our faithful in Pakistan, and all the brothers of other faiths to pray intensely for this cause. We hope that through our prayers the Lord will illuminate hearts and that political issues can be resolved through talks around negotiating tables".<br />The National Commission for Justice and Peace also expressed deep concern about recent developments in the Indian state of "Jammu and Kashmir", which the government revoked the status of autonomy, turning it into federal territory.<br />Archbishop Joseph Arshad, at the head of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and president of the "Justice and Peace" commission, asked political leaders in India and Pakistan to "promptly reactivate peace talks and resolve all issues through a peaceful confrontation".<br />The Archbishop said: "We want peace and justice to prevail for the people of the troubled region of Kashmir". Archbishop Arshad, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, deplored the unilateral move of the Indian government that "can greatly disturb peace in South Asia and also international peace". "We pray for peace between the two countries", he stressed, appealing "to choose the path of peaceful dialogue in all circumstances".<br />Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, National Director of the NCJP, said: "The entire Christian community expresses deep solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. International bodies, in particular the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council, should mediate between Pakistan and India to find a way to overcome the current crisis". <br />Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:47:23 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Catholic journalists are committed to contributing to the peaceful conduct of the upcoming elections - "Electoral processes in Africa: role and responsibility of the media in preserving social peace". This is the theme of the third edition of the "Update program" promoted by AIJCCA, the Ivorian Association of Catholic journalists and communicators in collaboration with UCAP, the African Catholic Press Union, Burkina Faso section, which took place from 8 to 16 August in the economic capital of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan.<br /> The "update program" is intended as a forum for the exchange of experiences, training, but also to help revive the national UCAPs. For this edition, about 100 journalists from Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Senegal, Niger, Mali and of course Ivory Coast gathered at the Padre Pio Center of the Capuchin Friars Minor of Cocody.<br />At the end of this meeting last Thursday, August 15th, in the parish of Our Lady of the Assumption of Koumassi Prodomo, in the diocese of Grand-Bassam, recommendations for peaceful elections were formulated in the various African Countries where voting became occasions for conflict and war.<br />In the final resolutions of the work, rulers were asked to work in justice for peaceful elections and the media to be impartial. It was reiterated that journalists are not allowed to take a position on an electoral dispute, but have a duty to provide the necessary information for the voter to be able to vote in an informed manner. Catholic journalists also asked civil society to do its part so that together they can effectively accompany politicians to peaceful elections in their respective Countries.<br />In 2020, presidential and political elections will take place in Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast, while in Senegal elections will take place in 2021. <br />Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:29:23 +0200ASIA/TAJIKISTAN - Caritas launches a multi-year plan to meet the needs of the homeless, the disabled, the elderly - "Caritas Tajikistan team carried out a review of its strategic plan for the 2016-2019 period. We are in the last months of the three-year period and this review has had the purpose of assessing progress regarding the set objectives. The review showed that, overall, Caritas Tajikistan has carried out the activities of the plan launched in the last four years: 79% of these activities can be said to have been completed, 13% have not been completed and the rest is in a phase of realization. However, further progress will be made until the end of the year. Taking into account this verification and a new strategic framework, Caritas Tajikistan will develop its new plan for the period 2020-2024". This is what we read in a note sent to Agenzia Fides from the Tajika headquarters of Caritas, which takes stock of the work of the bishops' charitable organization in the country of Central Asia.<br />The activities of the past years, the note reads, have been developed since 2016 with the support of Fondation Caritas Luxembourg and, in particular, with the support of consultant Karl Amman.<br />In Tajikistan, the organization is engaged on several fronts: one of the main projects carried out concerns the support of the water distribution system in the Jomi district, an area in the west of the country, where the water supply conditions represent a emergency for the population. The Tajik volunteers also work for the reintegration of the homeless of the capital Dushanbe in society: "The homeless are a relatively new phenomenon, which appeared in society as a by-product of the market economy path undertaken by the country", reads the statement. The recipients of this project are guaranteed assistance, psychological and bureaucratic support to facilitate the process of social reintegration.<br />In addition, numerous activities are carried out to provide livelihoods for people with disabilities, while a project called "Supervision for success" allows the elderly to teach crafts to orphaned children.<br />The Catholic presence in Tajikistan has been registered since the 1970s: the first faithful were mostly Germans from Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania, deported to the country when the Soviet Union existed. Because of the communist regime, for years the communities of Tajikistan were completely isolated from the universal Church. The local Catholic presence dates back to the establishment of the Missio sui iuris, on September 29, 1997 thanks to Pope John Paul II. In this context, charitable actions were initiated as early as 1983 by small groups, which officially merged into Caritas starting from 2004. <br />Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:21:58 +0200AMERICA - Latin American bishops appeal to save 'lung of the world'à - "We urge the governments of the Amazon region, in particular Brazil and Bolivia, the United Nations and the international community to take serious measures to save the lung of the world. What happens in the Amazon is not a local matter, but has global reach. If the Amazon suffers, the world suffers", are the words of the heartfelt appeal launched by the executive of CELAM, the coordinating body of Latin American bishops’ conferences and sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />In a statement the continental ecclesial body states: "Aware of the terrible fires that devastate large parts of the flora and fauna in Alaska, Greenland, Siberia, the Canary Islands and in particular in the Amazon, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean want to raise our concern over the gravity of this tragedy that not only has a local or a regional impact, but of planetary proportions".<br />"The Amazon - the statement continues - is a region rich in biodiversity, it is multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious, a mirror of humanity which, to defend life, calls for structural and personal changes from all human beings, states, and the Church. This situation goes beyond the sphere of the Church in the Amazon because it addresses the universal Church and the future of the whole planet".<br />The statement concludes by recalling the words of Pope Francis , asking "all those who hold positions of responsibility in the economic, political and social spheres, all men and women of good will: we are custodians of creation, of the design of God inscribed in nature, guardians of the environment; let us not allow the signs of destruction and death accompany the path of our world". <br />Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:02:22 +0200AFRICA/CAMEROON - The two priests of Kumbo, whose Bishop had denounced the violence against civilians, have been releasedé - The two priests kidnapped on August 15 in Kumbo, in the department of Bui in the North-West region of Cameroon, have been released.<br />Fr. Franklin Banadzem Dindzee, assistant of the diocesan youth of Kumbo, and Fr. Patrick Atang, another priest of Kumbo, were released on the evening of Sunday 18 August. The circumstances of their release have not been made known.<br />The two priests had been kidnapped on August 15, by armed men, perhaps independence fighters, while they were going to Oku to celebrate Mass for the Assumption.<br />Their abduction had aroused the strong mobilization of the faithful of the diocese of Kumbo who had held prayer meetings to ask for the grace of their release. On August 19 a prayer of thanksgiving was held in the cathedral of Kumbo for the release of the two priests.<br />The kidnapping of two priests of the diocese of Kumbo took place immediately after the strong stance of the local Bishop, His Exc. Mgr. George Nkuo, who in the homily of the morning mass of the solemnity of the Assumption, stated: "Kumbo has had its part of suffering. We have seen innocent people brutally murdered. Many people have lost their homes and properties. Violence and cruelty have become so common that it is now considered normal to kill, torture, extort and demand ransom. We continue to hear gruesome stories of people kidnapped or arrested, tortured and asked to pay huge sums before being released".<br />Since 2016 in the north-western and south-western English-speaking regions of Cameroon, separatists are fighting against government forces in an attempt to create a separate state called Ambazonia. More than 2,000 people have been killed and over 400,000 have been forced to leave their homes.<br />The Catholic Church has asked for justice for the English-speaking Cameroonians, and has denounced the violations of human rights by the security forces; at the same time, it condemned the violence carried out by the separatists. This has led the clergy to be targeted by both sides, and priests are often kidnapped by separatists for extortion purposes. <br /><br />Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:21:52 +0200OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - A Bishop: "Migrants bring energy to our country" - "Migrants and refugees always bring energy and dynamism to a new country. If today we Australians are what we are and who we are today, a dynamic, young prosperous country, it is thanks to the love of freedom and the love of fundamental human values on the part of our ‘new’ Australians". This is what was declared by Bishop Vincent Long, OFM Conv, in a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Australian Bishops' Conference. The words of the Bishop characterized and introduced the Week of Migrants and Refugees, which the Australian Catholic Church lives from 19 to 25 August, on the theme proposed by Pope Francis, "It is not just about migrants".<br />Mgr. Long, the Australian Bishops’ Delegate for Migrants and Refugees, a body of the Australian bishops, spoke with heart, humour and a political edge about arriving in Australia as a Vietnamese refugee boat person, and in this regard stated: "We, the Vietnamese boat people, have been generously accepted to this country, and since then we have contributed by doing good. Most of us are well settled and doing our bit for the country, with their various commercial activities. Furthermore, we are making our presence felt even in the Australian Church too".<br />"Despite the ‘final solution’ that the former senator Fraser Anning proposed in Parliament last year, we are here to stay", Bishop Long said, referring to comments made by the former Queensland senator in August 2018, who had proposed a return to "a white Australia".<br />"I wonder w here would we be without the vibrant faith and strong community spirit of migrants and refugees. We therefore honour the legacy of this great country not by excessive protectionism, rather we make it great by our concern and care for asylum-seekers and refugees and migrants in the spirit of compassion and solidarity which has marked the history of this nation", concluded Mgr. Long. <br />Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:07:28 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Archbishop Rueda Aparicio: violence and corruption must be stopped - "Those responsible for these murders use weapons against helpless people, plan crimes, but even more, pay to kill and wash their hands with hypocrisy. In the name of God's mercy, we ask those who threaten and kill: stop killing, respect human life, do not become accomplices of the culture of death". This is the heartfelt appeal launched, in the face of the violence that continues to torment the region of Cauca, by the Archbishop of Popayán, Mgr. Luis José Rueda Aparicio. The Archbishop raised his voice of denunciation and rejection, stigmatizing the constant threats and murders of indigenous people, peasants and social leaders.<br />In a message, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Archbishop warned that "drug trafficking exposes families to becoming slaves of an economy of death", noting "the risk that young people and children run for drug use.<br />The Archbishop adds: "We reject the use of glyphosate for the eradication of illicit crop fields, because we know that it is a chemical intervention, which causes damage to the soil and is a proven threat to human health".<br />The message also refers to the issue of corruption at a political and economic level, noting that "this scourge affects the poorest". "Whoever wishes to govern desires something good, but to govern is first of all to serve the integral development of people and peoples. Being citizens requires acceptance with respect to those who think differently and exercising politics without being corrupt. Those who are not corrupt are actually at the service of human life".<br />Finally, the Archbishop encourages all men and women to examine the responsibility that each person has within society: "It is necessary for solidarity to overcome indifference. The way out of this crisis of humanity requires everyone to contribute with their own wisdom, their spirituality, experience, tenderness and leadership". <br />Thu, 22 Aug 2019 12:51:09 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Violence by a group of radical Hindu extremists against Catholic pilgrims – About 40 Catholic pilgrims on their way to the famous Marian shrine in the city of Velankanni, in the state of Tamil Nadu, were attacked, insulted and beaten by a group of radical Hindu extremists. As Agenzia Fides learns, the local Church expressed its firm condemnation of the incident that took place on August 18th. The pilgrims come from the nearby state of Karnataka and were attacked by a group called "Hindu Munnani" who accused them of proselytizing.<br />Bishop Devadass Ambrose Mariadoss, at the head of the Diocese of Thanjavur, expressed bewilderment and condemnation, inviting the authorities in charge to intervene. The Bishop explained to Fides that the pilgrimage is an annual event that has been practiced for centuries. "This action carried out by Hindu radicals was completely senseless and gratuitous. Indian citizens are free to practice their religion according to the constitutional provisions of India. But this freedom has been reduced in recent times, as evidenced by the incident", said the Bishop .<br />Father L. Sahayaraj, deputy secretary of Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, told Fides that "the police must act strictly on the people responsible for the violence". After the incident, pilgrims filed a complaint with the police superintendent who arrested six people in connection with the case.<br />Another 200 faithful gathered from the same area and continued their walk towards Velankanni, expressing their faith and devotion to Mary. Velankanni is a famous Marian pilgrimage center in the Diocese of Thanjavur, in southern India, where millions of devotees visit the Basilica every year.<br />The history of the place dates back to the 16th century, when the Virgin Mary appeared to a lame boy, then in 1597 appeared again to a milk seller in Sundram. In the same years some Portuguese sailors sailing from Macao to Sri Lanka encountered a terrible storm in the Bay of Bengal and prayed to the Virgin and Mary, promising to build a church for her if they were saved. The Portuguese merchants landed safely in the area and began their devotion to Our Lady of Good Health who is venerated today in Velankanni.<br />Velankanni Catholic Shrine is considered one of the most important pilgrimage sites in India. Celebrations for the feast of the Virgin are scheduled between August 29th and September 8th of each year and gather thousands of pilgrims. <br />Thu, 22 Aug 2019 12:43:28 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Caritas India responds to India’s monsoon fury Delhi - Caritas India, the social service arm of the Catholic Church, collaborates with state governments and NGOs to bring relief to millions of people affected by the devastating monsoon with heavy rains recorded in different regions of India in August. "We are coordinating with the state governments and disaster response agencies to assess the situation", said to Fides Father Paul Moonjely, executive Director of Caritas India. Caritas has issued an appeal to faithful, congregations and people of goodwill to contribute generously to this humanitarian call and express the solidarity at this crucial moment ".<br />Caritas team is assessing the needs of the local communities and helping the Social Development Diocesan Partners in planning the relief operations in the states affected by the monsoon rains: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. So far, more than 370 people have died in flood-related incidents. The death toll may continue to rise, with more than 4.7 million people displaced across thousands of relief camps in these states.<br />Caritas India is providing emergency assistance to 10,000 families in Kolhapur and Sangli of Maharasthra; Kasaragod, Wayanad, Malappuram, and Kannur of Kerala; Nilgiri of Tamil Nadu; Belgaum and Karwar of Karnataka; Eluru and Vizag of Andhra Pradesh with Food, Water, Non Food Essentials, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Shelter. <br />"A Solidarity Appeal was issued by His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India to all the dioceses in India to generate support for the victims of Floods and Landslide,” Father Moonjely said. <br />Around 700,000 people were displaced in the state of Karnataka due to floods. Caritas India is working with 5 partners in 9 out of 17 affected districts of Karnataka. <br />Kerala is once again hit by the devastating floods. Caritas India along with its partners are doing rapid needs assessment of the most affected villages. <br />Assistant Director of Caritas India, Fr. Jolly is visiting the flood-affected areas to assess the damage and generate support from the partners and Church leadership in responding to this calamity. <br />The volunteer team of Caritas India, called the "Caritas Samaritans" are engaged in humanitarian aid. <br />Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:59:42 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "Rural Missionaries" 50 years alongside the poor - Clergy, religious and lay members of the "Rural Missionaries of the Philippines" , involved at a pastoral and social level, celebrated their 50th founding anniversary, confirming the work to accompany and support the poorest, in remote or rural areas.<br />The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines is a national, inter-congregational and inter-diocesan organization, composed of religious men and women, priests and lay members who live and work with small farmers, agricultural workers, fisher folk and Indigenous Peoples. Founded on August 15, 1969, it is a Roman Catholic Church organization and a mission partner of the Association of the Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.<br />"In the last 50 years, RMP has brought the Gospel and worked alongside poor communities in remote areas, promoting human dignity, rights, peace and social justice", says to Fides Sister Elsa Compuesto, the new National Coordinator of RMP, elected by the National Assembly of the organization in Manila in recent days.<br />"The next 50 years will be years of grace in which to work with the poor. We do not want to abandon our poor despite many difficulties, struggles, risks and challenges that our missionaries face together with the people we serve", remarked Sister Elsa, of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of Mary.<br />"Being part of RMP is a missionary commitment to live a prophetic call with the poor", specified Sister Elenita Belardo, outgoing National Coordinator.<br />RMP, always on the front line against injustice, has raised its voice against the killings of the poor by the police or the military for various reasons and violations of human rights. Bishop Deogracias Iniguez stressed the effort, commitment and contribution of RMP, whose members "are willing to work hard to bring the Church closer to people".<br />"The members of RMP are willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of the Gospel as they work for justice by denouncing evil and injustice", the Bishop said.<br />RMP is committed to serving farmers, indigenous peoples and fishermen "through collective testimony and prophetic action" and "to encourage people of good will "to support the rural poor" so that "they can enjoy the fruits of their labor and of the fullness of life, preserving the integrity of creation", reads the note of the organization.<br />Among other commitments, RMP facilitates integration and seminarians and men and women religious to carry out their evangelizing mission alongside the poor in rural areas; it carries out campaigns regarding problems of rural areas; provides support services to schools on topics such as evangelization, disaster risk reduction, health services, defense of human rights, sustainable agriculture and climate change mitigation; contributes to building alliances and networks of a pastoral and social nature. <br />Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:36:41 +0200AMERICA/PERU - Over 198 thousand families received help from Caritas in 2018 - The Catholic Church in Peru helped more than 198 thousand families in the country in 2018: this is the figure that emerges from the Social Report of Caritas Peru which describes the activity of the Catholic organization in the year 2018. In the note sent to Agenzia Fides by Caritas Peru, Carla Auza, national director, explains how these families received help: "These families were involved in various projects that Caritas developed in 2018: 45 different projects, many of the which were carried out in collaboration with 35 other institutions, NGOs, sponsors".<br />"We managed to reach 36 thousand needy families through these projects; there were also social aid programs with which we helped another 164 thousand families and people in urgent need. Many citizens also received medical or instrumental assistance, or even medical equipment basic necessities, such as wheelchairs, crutches…".<br />"Caritas - she explains - also promotes projects of an educational nature, or in the health sector, or for nutrition, in situations of environmental crisis. For example, in 2018 we offered emergency assistance to 2,500 families due to the polar cold in the Peruvian Andes. "Small communities in the Andes received help to increase agricultural production or livestock in order to be able to survive or manage their own economy in that area", says Auza in the note sent to Fides. <br />Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:16:58 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Appeal to national unity after the massacre of the military; the Bishops denounce the attempt to trigger an inter-religious conflict - Instability is worsening in Burkina Faso, where on August 19, 24 soldiers died, 7 others were injured while 5 of their comrades were reported missing during a jihadist attack.<br />The assault occurred in the early hours of the day in Koutougou, in the north of the Country. "The people of Burkina Faso have always remained firm in the long-lasting struggle against terrorism", said President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré who reiterated that "Burkina Faso will never give up any part of its territory, at the cost of our lives" .<br />At the beginning of August the President of the Bishops’ Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, His Exc. Mgr. Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré, Bishop of Dori, had denounced the massacres of Christians carried out by jihadist groups supported from abroad who, he said, "are better armed and equipped" than the national army.<br />"If the world continues to do nothing, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence", said the President of the Bishops’ Conference. <br />The jihadist groups, according to Mgr. Dabiré, pursue a precise strategy to put greater areas of the Country under their control, or at least destabilize them. "They have settled within our country little by little, attacking the army, civil structures and the population. Now, their main target seems to be Christians. I believe they are trying to trigger an inter-religious conflict", said Mgr. Dabiré.<br />"Insecurity continues to increase and has forced us to reduce our pastoral activities. Now it is too dangerous to travel to certain areas and I have been forced to close two parishes", the President of the Bishops’ Conference denounces.<br />The Catholic Church represents one fifth of the 16.5 million inhabitants of Burkina Faso, whose government signed an agreement with the Vatican on 12 July, guaranteeing the legal status of the Church and committing itself to "collaborating for moral, spiritual and material well-being of the human person and for the promotion of the common good".<br />Christian places of worship, especially in the north of the Country, mainly inhabited by Muslims, were the target of jihadist groups after throwing out President Blaise Compaore in October 2014.<br />In June, the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger denounced that their Countries "have for years been in the grip of terrorism" . <br />Wed, 21 Aug 2019 15:08:09 +0200ASIA - Catholic journalists in Asia: together to announce the Gospel values Lumpur - To announce the tidings of Good news, to stay away from sensationalism and fake news: is the commitment made by journalists, editors, and Catholic communicators from Asia gathered in Kuala Lumpur, in a meeting organized by "SIGNIS" Asia. SIGNIS is a world forum of Catholic communicators and deals with radio, television, cinema and other forms of media communication.<br />In the final declaration of the assembly, sent to Agenzia Fides, we read: "We will announce the tidings of Good news, for we are baptised and sent by the Lord. We stay away from sensationalism and fake news and we commit to abiding by the Gospel values of truth, honesty and transparency in our service".<br />The declaration echoes the theme of the extraordinary missionary Month "Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on a mission in the world", which the Church celebrates in October 2019.<br />In past days, the assembly gathered 18 Catholic editors and journalists representing 12 countries, with 4 presenters, making it a total gathering of 15 countries to reflect on the theme "Peace journalism in a viral culture".<br />The participants shared the religio-cultural, socio-political situations of their respective missions. This was an eye opener to the ground realities of different Asian countries, and challenges faced by the Catholic editors and publishers in their ministry. The conference raised a few common concerns in terms of declining readership in the context of viral social media, hostile political authority, financial crunch, lack of required skills and training for those involved in Catholic journalism. Participants unanimously agreed the print media of the Church must stay on even in the midst of adverse climates in the Asian region. <br />In this framework, SIGNIS ASIA will organize training sessions for young journalists, and will work to promote unity and peace among members and among the citizens of their respective countries, encouraging ecumenical and interreligious collaboration.<br />The conference proposed to establish a "Catholic Press Association-ASIA" under the aegis of SIGNIS ASIA in collaboration with the Communication Department within the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences . <br />Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:14:54 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Bishops: it is urgent to stop violence against women City - It is urgent to stop all actions that undermine the dignity of women in Mexico: this is the appeal launched by the Archbishop of Puebla, Mgr. Víctor Sánchez Espinosa, who once again highlighted the peak of violence that is recorded against women in the country. Speaking at a conference to publicize the 375th anniversary of the Palafoxian seminar, the Catholic leader said that "the recent protests by women, accompanied by vandalism, are not the best way to express dissent", however, he said "everybody has the right to demonstrate, in this case women need further security in society".<br />"Women - the bishop said - cannot continue to be victims of rape, murder, violence and other crimes", and therefore urged all sectors of society to "fight the problem, because life is sacred and therefore must be protected. I ask to stop all forms of violent acts against women and against all human being", he concluded.<br />The issue of violence against women continues to hold strong. The "women's march", held last Friday in Mexico City, is perhaps the largest demonstration against violence against women in this country. In fact, Mexican women took to the streets to demand respect and stop the sexual violence and insecurity they suffer in Mexico. Unfortunately, part of the demonstrators committed vandalism in public spaces such as squares, subway stations or sidewalks in Mexico City.<br />According to the Mexican press, which closely monitors the issue of violence against women, considering the numbers of cases of harassment, abuse and femicide, Mexico is one of the riskiest in Latin America with regards to the safety of women.<br />"Almost three women are killed a day, in addition, at least 49 are sexually abused, creating an alarming situation for the number of people affected", reads a note sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />According to data released by the Mexican mass media, during the first six months of the year, deaths reached the record of 470 women, 111 of whom were killed with a firearm, 99 with a cutting weapon, 261 with another type of object. Among the cases reported, there are sexual crimes: the figures reach 1,530 cases of sexual abuse reported in a single month, with an average statistic of 51 women sexually assaulted every day, without considering the victims that do not report the violence suffered or all those who remain silent for fear of reprisals.<br />As reported to Fides, two other bishops, Mgr. Benjamín Castillo Plascencia of the Diocese of Celaya, and Mgr. Enrique Díaz Díaz, of Irapuato, publicly expressed their concerns by solemnly declaring the urgency of adequate measures to stop the violence against women in Mexican society. <br />Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:51:07 +0200AFRICA/TANZANIA - Bishops' send condolences for the victims of the fuel tanker explosion es Salaam - "The Catholic Church in Tanzania sends condolences to Mr. President and to all citizens. We urge Tanzanians to support the families who have lost their loved ones and who have suffered trauma during this difficult time", says the message sent by the Chairman of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference , His Exc. Mgr. Gervas Nyaisonga, Archbishop of Mbeya, to the President of the Republic of Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli, following an oil truck accident on August 10, which caused deaths of approximately 89 people and several injuries. The vehicle overturned on the road in Morogoro, 175 kilometres west of Dar es Salaam. An eyewitness said the truck was going at a high speed and was trying to avoid a motorcyclist on the main road when the driver appeared to lose control and the truck overturned. <br />The people died while trying to collect petrol leaking from the overturned fuel tanker, which eventually exploded. 71 people were killed on the spot and 59 injured. By August 16, the number of deaths had increased to 89, as some who were severely injured were transferred to the National Hospital Muhimbili in Dar es Salaam and died.<br />A similar incident occurred on Sunday 18 August in a small town in western Uganda, on the road that leads from Kampala to Kasese following the explosion of a tanker which caused the death of at least 19 people. According to the police, the driver of the tanker lost control of the vehicle that crashed into three cars and exploded.<br />The explosion of damaged tankers have caused multiple massacres in various African countries. In Nigeria, 100 dead on 12 July 2012 and another 100 in 2007; in Sudan 203 dead on 16 September, 2015; in Kenya 111 dead on January 31, 2009; in the Democratic Republic of Congo 292 died on 2 July, 2010; in Niger 80 victims on 6 May 2019. <br />Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:37:55 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Ecumenical prayer of Christians for "the Muslim brethren of Kashmir" - A special prayer for "the Muslim brethren of Kashmir" was organized in past days by the Ecumenical Solidarity Committee Lahore. Religious Leaders from the Catholic, Church of Pakistan, Anglican Church, Presbyterian Church and the Salvation Army participated in this prayer service. The prayer was accompanied by an appeal for peace for the tormented region of Kashmir, still at the center of strong tensions between India and Pakistan.<br />The meeting had an interreligious nature, given the participation of Pakistani Muslim leaders invited for the occasion, and was led by the Franciscan, Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, secretary of the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue Commission in the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan.<br />The Religious leaders showed their determination to support "the Kashmiri Brethren" in their movement for dignity, justice and freedom, recalling all those who, from that region, have contributed to the independence of Pakistan. The assembly prayed for peace and harmony between Pakistan and India and insisted by launching a heartfelt appeal so that "the political controversy between India and Pakistan is resolved through dialogue, without resorting to weapons and with the prospect of real and lasting peace".<br />At the end of the meeting, all leaders symbolically released Doves in the air with a hope "that this message of Peace would be carried to the Indo-Pakistani borders and encourage reconciliation". <br />Tue, 20 Aug 2019 15:21:36 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - A ten-point resolution sent by religious minorities to the Prime Minister : "We are faithful to our beloved homeland, Pakistan. We are not strangers: our Churches, religious institutions, hospitals and office buildings have a raised flag of Pakistan. We have lived in this land for centuries, well before the creation of Pakistan, and we are serving with honesty and dedication for the good of Pakistan". This is what Fr. Saleh Diego, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Karachi and diocesan director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace told Agenzia Fides, recalling the main issues and challenges faced by religious minorities in Pakistan. A specific Day, which is celebrated on 11 August, was established for them in 2010 by the then federal minister for religious minorities, the Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated on 2 March 2011.<br />Fr. Saleh Diego also stated: "Christianity has existed in this territory since the first century, when St. Thomas, one of Jesus' apostles, came to the Indian subcontinent. We are 100% sons and daughters of this land; we should not be treated as second-class citizens".<br />Catholic lawyer Tabbasum Yousaf, speaking to Fides, recalled: "We members of religious minorities are contributing strongly to the development of Pakistan. We intend to focus on issues related to our freedom, our fundamental human rights, prejudices and discrimination that exist in particular towards people of religious minorities and forced conversions of women of religious minorities".<br />The lawyer presented a joint ten-point resolution that was signed by leaders and representatives of various faiths and is addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and other institutions. Among the requests contained in the text, the resolution points out that the minimum age for marriage of girls should be 18; calls for the establishment of a a federal ministry for religious minorities, and the application of a 5% quota for national and international educational scholarships given to minorities; the joint resolution urges protection of minorities' houses of worship from government seizure; designated minority worship areas in jails, hospitals, and state institutions; and the passage of legislation to prevent religious discrimination in employment, education, and society. Furthermore, the Memorandum calls for the elimination from books of material encouraging hatred. A specific request touches on the problem of abductions, sexual violence and forced conversions of women belonging to religious minorities, asking for legislation to counteract the phenomenon. <br />Commenting on the current situation, Majida Rizvi, first female judge of the High Court in Pakistan, and committed to the National Commission on the status of women, said: "At the time of the founding of Pakistan, Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah assured the equal rights, freedom and justice for religious minorities in Pakistan. Members of religious minorities contributed to the foundation and development of Pakistan; they have proven to be true citizens of Pakistan".<br />Sheema Kirmani, a well-known Muslim human rights activist, told Fides: "All Pakistani citizens are equal, the concept of considering a person on the basis of majority or minority criteria should be removed. We must also change the terminology and declare that Pakistan is a country with a people of various religions. There should be no religious divisions or discrimination".<br />Ghazala Shafiq, a Christian activist for women's rights, says: "In this country it is painful to note that the Constitution of Pakistan does not allow any non-Muslim to become president, prime minister, head of army personnel or any other top position". Moreover, "forced conversions of women belonging to minorities are on the rise: they should be stopped and severely punished". <br />Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:51:19 +0200EUROPE/POLAND - Cardinal Filoni at the shrine of Zakopane: "Mary is present and alive among us" - "One wonders: why so many Shrines in the world, why so much affection and devotion to Mary? In truth, from the moment Mary lost Jesus, she adopted, as Mother, the Church born of the blood of her Son, becoming herself a first and elected member, which means that, wherever there is a community of faith, like the first community of the Apostles, Mary is there, finds a home and family where to live. This also explains why Mary has never left us alone. Her apparitions, such as Fatima, Lourdes, and many others, her shrines such as Częstochowa, Zakopane, and many others scattered throughout the various continents, bear witness to her living presence among us". This was underlined by Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, during the celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, on August 15, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Zakopane, a city of 28 thousand inhabitants located in southern Poland, in the region called "Little Poland".<br />As Cardinal Filoni recalled, Karol Wojtyla often came to Zakopane, as a boy, then as a priest, often accompanying students. He returned several times even after he was elected Pope. The Marian Shrine was built here as an ex-voto for the salvation of Pope John Paul II’s life, after the attack on May 13, 1981.<br />The Prefect of the Congregation of "Propaganda Fide" said: "With joy we celebrate the liturgical solemnity of Mary. Assumed into Heaven in this National Shrine of Zakopane, where a house was built for Mary. All Christian Poland today is spiritually united to the priests and bishops in Jasna Gόra, in Czestochowa, where Mary is crowned queen of Poland. In the affection and devotion to Mary, generations of Poles have been formed and have kept their faith alive even in dark times. Mary, Karol Wojtyla, son of this nation, tempered his character and consecrated himself totally to her, Totus tuus, to Christ and to the Church".<br />In the homily of the celebration for the Assumption, the Cardinal continued: "The Church does not forget Mary, remembering and celebrating her liturgically throughout the liturgical year. Today the Church celebrates her in her mystery of Assumed into Heaven, because it was not possible that her body suffered the corruption of death, having been preserved from original sin. In this sense, Mary becomes the firstborn of a new creation, the one saved by Jesus. <br />We, as a Christian community, that is, as a community redeemed by Christ, are happy today to be gathered here and almost embraced and kissed by her and to be able to say: Mary, my Mother, I love you! I love you! If I close my eyes for a moment let me smell your perfume of woman and mother. Hold me tight as you held Jesus, talk to me as you spoke to him, look at me with the same tenderness".<br />The Marian shrine in Zakopane was built in 1987-1992 and the church was consecrated by John Paul II himself on 7 June 1997, during his sixth pilgrimage to his homeland. The Shrine was erected next to a chapel where, since the 1950s, Mary was worshiped and where in 1961 the image of the Lady of Fatima was placed, given by the bishop of Fatima to Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, who he gave to the Pallotini Fathers, custodians of the chapel. It was the bishop of Krakow of that time, Karol Wojtyla, who consecrated both the image and the chapel. In the so-called "Fatima Park", in the vicinity of the Shrine, there are also two monuments dedicated to John Paul II and the altar on which Pope Wojtyla celebrated Mass in Zakopane on June 6, 1997. <br /><br />Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:29:37 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Church calls for justice for Faustine Brou N’Guessan, parish secretary killed in her office - "Let there be full light on the murder of Faustine Brou N’Guessan. The Church is merciful, but mercy is carried out through justice", said Fr. Augustin Obrou, at the head of the social communications of the Archdiocese of Abidjan, in a statement on the murder of Mrs Faustine Brou N’Guessan, secretary of the parish of Sainte-Cécile du Vallon, stabbed to death in her parish office, on 10 August.<br />Speaking on behalf of His Eminence, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan, Fr. Obrou has asked the faithful to be vigilant. "Our parishes have security agents, but we invite the faithful to highlight anything strange regarding the people who come to our churches. It is true that churches are places of gathering, people will not be searched in order not to create alarm, but some behaviors force us to be more careful".<br />The killing of the secretary of the parish of Sainte-Cécile du Vallon was preceded by the desecration of some statues of the Virgin Mary and attacks against priests and laity engaged in parish services.<br />The agonizing body of Faustine Brou N’Guessan, was found in a pool of blood around 11 am on August 10th in her office in the Jean Pierre Cardinal Kutwa building of the parish. Taken to the nearest clinic, unfortunately, she died soon after. The sixty-year-old mother of a daughter and for thirty years secretary in the parish of Sainte-Cécile du Vallon, was going to retire this year. <br />Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:06:43 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The Catholic world calls for "authentic dialogue between government and society" City - "We cannot resign ourselves, as individual citizens and even less as organized civil society, to having a government that unilaterally manages the major problems of this country": says Catholic magazine "Desde la fe" in its publication of August 18th. The Catholic magazine explains: "We are very surprised with the intention expressed recently in the Chamber of Deputies, whereby the majority force must have absolute control. In doing so a fundamental principle of every democratic Congress is forgotten: it is the space of representativeness of majorities and minorities to preserve the necessary social balance in every democracy".<br />The text sent to Agenzia Fides continues: "It is evident that, with these measures, one wants to transform the place of greater democratic dynamism of a country into a mirror of imminent totalitarianism that causes so much damage in every society".<br />"Dialogue means knowing how to listen. It is necessary to listen to farmers who have not received their subsidies. It is necessary to listen to working mothers who need professional support in the care of their children. It is necessary to listen to doctors who talk about the lack of medicines and the lack of maintenance of specialized equipment. It is necessary to listen to experts who analyze the feasibility of projects and environmental care. It is necessary to listen to the National Commission for Human Rights and other autonomous organizations. It is necessary to listen to the people involved in the education of children and young people. It is necessary to listen to investors in order to build trust. One must listen to the victims of extortion and violence of organized crime. The voluntary effort of a person is not enough, a country like Mexico requires greater responsibility and authentic social dialogue. For the good of all, let us learn to dialogue, government and society", concludes the text. <br />Mon, 19 Aug 2019 15:50:37 +0200