Fides News - Englishhttp://fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/LEBANON - Marine Le Pen visits Lebanon. Meeting with the Maronite Patriarch on the agendahttp://fides.org/en/news/61770-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_visits_Lebanon_Meeting_with_the_Maronite_Patriarch_on_the_agendahttp://fides.org/en/news/61770-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_visits_Lebanon_Meeting_with_the_Maronite_Patriarch_on_the_agendaBeirut - If she becomes the President of France, Marine Le Pen will reconnect official diplomatic relations with Assad’s Syria and will reopen the French embassy in Damascus. On the occasion of her 48-hour visit in the Country of Cedars, the candidate for the Elysee, National Front leader has confirmed her programmatic intentions regarding the Syrian dossier in interviews to the Lebanese press. During her brief trip to Lebanon, Marine Le Pen has already been received by President Michel Aoun in the Presidential Palace in Babda. The agenda of the short trip also includes meetings with Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai, with Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri and politician Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces.<br />In the meeting with President Aoun - refers the Lebanese media - Marine Le Pen said she referred to the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism as a context for collaboration between Lebanon and France, and highlighted the need for more decisive international support that helps institutions and the Lebanese population to cope with the emergency of refugees from Syria and Iraq. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:59:49 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Cholera alarm: "at least 300 suspected cases in a vast and impoverished area" says Cuammhttp://fides.org/en/news/61769-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Cholera_alarm_at_least_300_suspected_cases_in_a_vast_and_impoverished_area_says_Cuammhttp://fides.org/en/news/61769-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Cholera_alarm_at_least_300_suspected_cases_in_a_vast_and_impoverished_area_says_CuammJuba - There are about 300 suspected cases of cholera which were recorded in February in the counties of Yirol East and Awerial, but the number is expected to grow because "the stories of those who arrive at the health centers from villages further away are alarming". This is what a statement sent to Agenzia Fides by Doctors with Africa Cuamm report. The data reported come from the counties of Yirol East and Awerial where Cuamm works and coordinates the activities of 16 health centers. This is an area that has many complexities, from the difficulties to reach the communities that live scattered along the Nile and far from health centers, to the problem of offering adequate services to a population that, since December 2013, has grown under the influx of thousands of displaced.<br />"We have not yet an official confirmation that this is cholera, but we think it is very likely", says Giovanni Dall'Oglio, responsible for the operation of Cuamm in the area. In November 2016, the intervention of Cuamm in the former Lakes State extended to all 8 counties , supporting three hospitals and 90 peripheral health centers, in favor of a population of just under 1 million inhabitants, about 250,000 children under five years of age and 58,000 pregnant women. It is a huge area which also includes the banks of the Nile and its islands, these area do not have any kind of health center. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:43:56 +0100AMERICA/GUATEMALA - The flow of migrants arriving in Guatemala to reach the United States continueshttp://fides.org/en/news/61768-AMERICA_GUATEMALA_The_flow_of_migrants_arriving_in_Guatemala_to_reach_the_United_States_continueshttp://fides.org/en/news/61768-AMERICA_GUATEMALA_The_flow_of_migrants_arriving_in_Guatemala_to_reach_the_United_States_continuesGuatemala City - The flow of migrants arriving in Guatemala with the hope of being able to somehow reach the United States continues: this is what a note from Prensa Latina, sent to Fides reports, where it is noted that since the beginning of 2017, 1,254 migrants have arrived in Guatemala without documents. The General Directorate of Migration has also reported that 953 of these are women. Among the countries of origin: Haiti, Eritrea, Guinea, Cuba, India, Nepal and others. It is to be noted that Africans are increasing.<br />The note informs that a group of migrants were rescued by the National Civil Police of Guatemala: a criminal network had seized them and demanded from them or their families, $ 40,000 to free everyone. The note points out that, according to the protocol, these people are stopped to be registered and to coordinate the return to their home countries. According to the Commission of Human Mobility of the Guatemalan Congress, in 2016, 8,387 people were registered in this situation.<br />After the increase of security measures on the southern border of the country , migrant groups have not decreased, but have tried other entry routes in Guatemala, a country that represents the "doorway"to Mexico, near the US. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:34:58 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - A seminary in central Kasai and a parish in Kinshasa ransackedhttp://fides.org/en/news/61766-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_A_seminary_in_central_Kasai_and_a_parish_in_Kinshasa_ransackedhttp://fides.org/en/news/61766-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_A_seminary_in_central_Kasai_and_a_parish_in_Kinshasa_ransackedKinshasa - Kamwina Nsapu militiamen ransacked the major seminary of Malole in Kananga, in Central Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo.<br />"The militias systematically broke the doors of the rooms and destroyed everything that was inside. They entered the teachers’ rooms and burned their luggage", said the rector of the seminary, Father Richard Kitenge to Radio Okapi. After a clash that lasted an hour, the army managed to free the seminary from the militiamen.<br />The incident took place on Saturday, February 18, the day before Pope Francis launched his appeal, after the Angelus, for this Congolese province, for months shocked by the violence of the followers of the traditional late leader Kamwina Nsapu, killed in August by security forces .<br />In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides the Bishop of Luiza, His Exc. Mgr. Félicien Mwanama Galumbulula, had denounced "exceptional violence and unimaginable atrocities against the population" committed by Kamwina Nsapu militiamen in different places of his diocese in Central Kasai .<br />Even in the capital, Kinshasa, there was a serious act of vandalism against the Catholic Church. On Sunday, February 19 a dozen unknown young people ransacked St. Dominic parish. According to the testimony of the pastor, the group was organized with backpacks in order to carry and take away the objects they ransacked. The Congolese government has condemned the assault on the parish. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:19:25 +0100ASIA/TURKEY - Armenian Catholicos Karekin II convenes a summit to face the internal problems of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinoplehttp://fides.org/en/news/61767-ASIA_TURKEY_Armenian_Catholicos_Karekin_II_convenes_a_summit_to_face_the_internal_problems_of_the_Armenian_Patriarchate_of_Constantinoplehttp://fides.org/en/news/61767-ASIA_TURKEY_Armenian_Catholicos_Karekin_II_convenes_a_summit_to_face_the_internal_problems_of_the_Armenian_Patriarchate_of_ConstantinopleErevan - Patriarch Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, convened at the Patriarchal See of Echmiadzin Catholicosate, in Yerevan, some of the protagonists of the dispute in place with regards to the next election of the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Constantinople, in an attempt to resolve the situation. The summit between the Catholicos Karekin and the senior members of the Apostolic Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople - refer Armenian sources - is scheduled for the current week.<br />The head of the Apostolic Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, based in Istanbul, has been uncertain since 2008, when Patriarch Mesrob II Mutafyan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Since then, Archbishop Aram Atesyan is running the day-to-day affairs of the Patriarchate after being appointed as Patriarchal Vicar of Constantinople. <br />In recent years the Armenian Apostolic community of Turkey is going through a debate, at times excruciating, on Mesrob’s possible succession, with senior members of the Armenian community in Turkey who supported the urgent need to elect a Co-Patriarch with full functions, and others who referred to the strict rules according to whom it was not possible to proceed with the election of a new Patriarch until his predecessor is alive.<br />The situation was unblocked last October, when the Synod of the Armenian Patriarchate had announced the withdrawal of Mesrob from patriarchal functions, and with the consent of the civil authorities the procedures for the election of a new Patriarch had been initiated. In recent weeks there was a new confrontation between Armenian Apostolic Bishop Sahak Mashalyan and General Vicar Aram Ateshyan. Between the two contenders - report Turkish media sources, consulted by Agenzia Fides - a protocol was then agreed whereby the election of the new patriarch was to be held on May 28th. But this local agreement seems to have provoked objections from the Catholicosate of Echmiadzin: according to Turkish media, Catholicos Karekin judged the protocol signed by Ateshyan and Mashalyan as a violation of the regulations in force for the patriarchal election, and this is why he convened the two Bishops and other representatives of the apostolic Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople in Yerevan, with the intent to overcome their differences and together reach a legitimate electoral procedure and recognized by all. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:18:54 +0100AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Growing expectation for the "Memorándum de entendimiento"http://fides.org/en/news/61765-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Growing_expectation_for_the_Memorandum_de_entendimientohttp://fides.org/en/news/61765-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Growing_expectation_for_the_Memorandum_de_entendimientoManagua - There is growing expectation for the "Memorándum de entendimiento" that the Organization of American States will have to sign on February 28 together with the government of Daniel Ortega, indicating actions to be taken to strengthen democratic institutions. From the opposition, according to a statement sent to Fides, there is much pessimism because after 20 January the public report assessing the conduct of the recent elections and the exercise of democracy in the country had completely ignored the contribution of certain sectors, including farmers representatives and the Catholic Church.<br />The report of 20 January was the first response to the agreements of October 2016, when the OAS had warned the government of Ortega of his speech as a privileged observer in the elections won by the same Ortega.<br />Therefore, on February 28, the government of Nicaragua and the OAS will sign a "Memorándum de Entendimiento" which provides, within three years, the implementation of specific initiatives "regarding the monitoring of the municipal elections of November 2017, the improvement of the system of political representation and legal mechanisms to strengthen it", reads the note sent to Fides.<br />Some opposition members said they are waiting for a ruling on February 28, saying: "We hope that the OAS does not lose this opportunity for democracy in Nicaragua".<br />Today the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua gathers for its Assembly, during which it will reflect on its program during the year 2017. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:37:40 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - "Televita", the first Catholic TVhttp://fides.org/en/news/61764-ASIA_INDONESIA_Televita_the_first_Catholic_TVhttp://fides.org/en/news/61764-ASIA_INDONESIA_Televita_the_first_Catholic_TVJakarta - Indonesia has its first Catholic television in streaming and will soon broadcast via satellite frequency. As Fides learns from the Commission for Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Jakarta, the first Catholic television channel is called "Hidup TV", from the term "hidup" which means "life".<br />The TV was presented at the annual meeting of "Signis Indonesia" held in Central Java, in recent days. Among the members of "Signis Indonesia" there are those responsible for the Commission for Social Communication in Jakarta.<br />During the meeting, father Harry Sulistiyo, head of Jakarta's Commission, shared the project of the television station, primarily seen as a "pastoral opportunity" with other diocesan leaders. Father Sulistiyo informed that Hidup TV broadcasts programs in streaming and will shortly be developed through the satellite Q-Band frequency, visible with a parable throughout Indonesia. The Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications, Fr. Kamilus Pantus, told Fides: "We thank Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta who encouraged and supported the Commission for Social Communications in conceiving and founding Hidup TV".<br />The idea is to give TV a particularly pastoral aspect, making it a support to preaching and catechesis. It is a project that was born as interdiocesan and will provide news and specific experiences to each diocese. "All the diocesan commission for social communications will contribute with productions and programs of different formats: from forums to movies, documentaries, music that will be broadcast by Hiup TV".<br />Father Sette Lalu, director of the Commission for Social Communications in the Diocese of Manado confirmed his support to the project and, in an interview with Agenzia Fides, said he considers Hidup TV "a creative initiative to meet the needs of the faithful, in a world marked by the development of information technology".<br />Today Hidup TV broadcasts in digital streaming three hours a day, and in the near future will reach eight hours a day. Among the currently existing programs, there are programs dedicated to reflections and spiritual comments, children's programs, music programs. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:11:17 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - Resignation of the Bishop of Mweka, appointment of successorhttp://fides.org/en/news/61762-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Mweka_appointment_of_successorhttp://fides.org/en/news/61762-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Mweka_appointment_of_successorVatican City - On February 18, 2017 the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Mweka , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Gérard Mulumba Kalemba. The Holy Father appointed Fr. Oscar Nkolo Kanowa, C.I.C.M., Bursar at the novitiate of the Missionaries of Scheut in Mbudi, Kinshasa as Bishop of Mweka.<br />Fr. Oscar Nkolo Kanowa, C.I.C.M., was born on September 8, 1957 in Mbuji-Mayi. He attended primary school in Kamilabi-Kananga and secondary school at the Minor Seminary in Kabwe. He then entered the Interdiocesan Major Seminary of Kasai-Kabwe to study Philosophy. In 1981 he entered the novitiate of the Scheut Fathers in Mbudi, Kinshasa. He professed his first vows in September 1982 and his perpetual vows in September 1986. He was ordained a priest on 19 July 1987.<br />Following ordination he spent ten years in mission in the Dominican Republic, where he served in a number of roles: 1988-1995: Vicar and parish priest, bursar of the Dominican Province; 1995-1997: Vice provincial of the Dominican Republic; 1996-1998: Rector of the pre-novitiate; 1998-1999: he studied as formator at the St. Louis University, United States of America; 1999-2000 he was rector of the Scholasticate in Kinshasa; 2001-2003: Member of the provincial governance and adjunct Prosecutor for the province; 2004-2012: Provincial superior of Kasayi and Southern Africa. Since 2014 he has served as bursar of the International Novitiate of Mbudi in Kinshasa. <br />The Diocese of Mweka, erected in 1964, is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Kananga, has an area of 21,700 square kilometers and a population of 850,535 inhabitants, of whom 355,840 are Catholics. There are 14 parishes, 41 priests , 14 religious brothers, 13 nuns and 33 seminarians. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:27:29 +0100VATICAN - Pope's appeal for the victims of violence in Congo, Pakistan and Iraqhttp://fides.org/en/news/61763-VATICAN_Pope_s_appeal_for_the_victims_of_violence_in_Congo_Pakistan_and_Iraqhttp://fides.org/en/news/61763-VATICAN_Pope_s_appeal_for_the_victims_of_violence_in_Congo_Pakistan_and_IraqVatican City - After the Marian prayer of the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square yesterday, Sunday, February 19, the Holy Father invited to pray for the people who suffer violence in different parts of world. These are his words: "There continue unfortunately to be reports of violent and brutal clashes in the region of Central Kasai in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I suffer deeply for the victims, especially for so many children ripped from their families and their schools to be used as soldiers. This is a tragedy, child soldiers. I assure you of my closeness and my prayer, for religious and humanitarian personnel working in that difficult region; and renew an urgent appeal to the conscience and responsibility of national authorities and the international community, so that they take appropriate and timely decisions in order to help these our brothers and sisters.<br />Let us pray for them and for all populations in other parts of the African continent and the world who suffer because of violence and war. I think, in particular, to the dear people of Pakistan and Iraq, hit by cruel terrorist acts in recent days. We pray for the victims, the wounded and the families. Let us pray fervently that every heart hardened by hatred is converted to peace, according to the will of God". <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 10:26:54 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - National Census: an opportunity for the future of religious minoritieshttp://fides.org/en/news/61761-ASIA_PAKISTAN_National_Census_an_opportunity_for_the_future_of_religious_minoritieshttp://fides.org/en/news/61761-ASIA_PAKISTAN_National_Census_an_opportunity_for_the_future_of_religious_minoritiesKarachi – The pastoral workers of Christian churches will be crucial to promote awareness on the importance of the census which will begin in Pakistan in March. "It is necessary to take a step forward to unite all the baptized, without distinction of confession, involving every pastoral worker, from the Bishops, to priests and catechists, in order to have the correct numbers on our Christian communities", said to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Joseph Coutts, at the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi.<br />In recent days, the Catholic Church gathered its pastoral worker together with those of the Anglican Church of Pakistan, Karachi led by Bishop Sadiq Daniel. They all agreed that the "2017 Census is very important for the Christian community, not only for our development, but also for our rights". Both churches have decided to launch a public awareness campaign that will start from the Sunday liturgical celebrations and will extend to all ecclesial meetings.<br />Anthony Naveed, special assistant for interreligious harmony to the Minister of Sindh province, will carry out seminars to inform and educate all pastoral workers on the procedures to actively participate in the 2017 census. Naveed started to explain some of the procedures to the participants asking Christian families to prepare the necessary documents to answer the census. "It will be an important moment for us Christians: we can be recognized for our real numbers. This census will determine our future", he said.<br />Some have in fact mentioned the issue of political representation of minorities. Zahid Farooq, a Christian social worker, said: "In the first national assembly at the time of the founding of Pakistan, there were 145 seats including 10 reserved for minorities; now there are 342 seats, but the seats for minorities have not changed and are still 10".<br />In December 2016, Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the government of Pakistan to hold the sixth census in the country in March 2017. The operation will take place in two phases: the first from 15 March to 14 April, the second from April 25 to 24 May.<br />The fifth census was held in 1998, then in 2008. According to data - ten years ago – figures to be updated - religious minorities in Pakistan was 2.8% of the population, including Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jews and other groups. <br />Sat, 18 Feb 2017 13:35:48 +0100AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Mgr. Gomez: "Anxiety and fear in children", tension among migrants increaseshttp://fides.org/en/news/61760-AMERICA_UNITED_STATES_Mgr_Gomez_Anxiety_and_fear_in_children_tension_among_migrants_increaseshttp://fides.org/en/news/61760-AMERICA_UNITED_STATES_Mgr_Gomez_Anxiety_and_fear_in_children_tension_among_migrants_increasesModesto - "If one wants to understand the impact of the raid that US border guards have carried out in more than 60 communities across the country since the beginning of February alone, let us listen to the children: They do not want to go school, because they think that their parents are going to be taken away, while they are not there", says Archbishop José Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, vice president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements at the Central Catholic High School in Modesto Northern California.<br />"We have children at the Dolores Mission", says Ellie Hidalgo, in charge of the social pastoral of the parish, "if their parents arrive late home from work they immediately become anxious. The situation is becoming very tense, continues Hidalgo in a note sent to Fides: "And if their parents do not return home, where will those children end up? In parishes across the country, we are offering information meetings to help people without documents, so they can learn about their rights, how to proceed, if US Immigration and Customs officials go to their homes, what do they have to do? For example, officials cannot enter if the door is not opened, who is going to take care of your child if anything happens", explains Ms. Hidalgo. "A signed document is needed, a proxy", says Ms. Hidalgo, "It may not be necessary, but it is better to be safe. One of our greatest fears, she explains, is if you do not have a proxy, the child could end up in the system of foster children. This is a real possibility",<br />The meeting of the Popular Movement promoted by the Vatican was programmed before Trump’s victory and the main concern was the situation of many undocumented migrants. <br /><br />Sat, 18 Feb 2017 12:49:43 +0100AMERICA - Odebrecht case, many involved but a single protagonist: corruptionhttp://fides.org/en/news/61759-AMERICA_Odebrecht_case_many_involved_but_a_single_protagonist_corruptionhttp://fides.org/en/news/61759-AMERICA_Odebrecht_case_many_involved_but_a_single_protagonist_corruptionBrasilia – What happened on February 16, 2017 can be defined a historical event, unprecedented in the history of Latin America: the meeting between the Ministers of Justice of 11 Latin American countries with the main aim to find common solutions to deal with an exceptional international event: the Odebrecht case.<br />Odebrecht is a Brazilian construction company which is directly involved in the scandal on black money "Petrobras".<br />The conclusion of the meeting, which will be known from now on as the "Brasilia Declaration on International Legal Cooperation against Corruption", contains eight agreements signed by delegates from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The first point of the agreement provides that all signer countries are committed to an effective and quick mutual legal cooperation on the Odebrecht case.<br />The Odebrecht case continues to widen and to involve political corruption and officials in each country listed. In many countries the Church has raised its voice, citing the case in the necessary fight against corruption. In Peru, the Bishops' Conference has called for clarification in the sense of transparency and firmness , while the Peruvian Justice informed of the measures envisaged in order to find those responsible for the $ 29 million spent in the country illegally from 2005-2014 as bribes or kickbacks to politicians and middlemen involved. At an international level, the judges have not yet specified the amount of money paid to politicians and public officials in the countries but, according to initial estimates, we are speaking of a total figure of about $ 800 million <br />Sat, 18 Feb 2017 12:21:21 +0100ASIA/EAST TIMOR - Catholics committed to ecumenism and educationhttp://fides.org/en/news/61757-ASIA_EAST_TIMOR_Catholics_committed_to_ecumenism_and_educationhttp://fides.org/en/news/61757-ASIA_EAST_TIMOR_Catholics_committed_to_ecumenism_and_educationDili - "There is great hope for the future of evangelization in East Timor, but it is always necessary to strengthen the faith of our community": says to Agenzia Fides Salesian Bishop Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of the Diocese Dili, East Timor. The island of Timor is divided in half: the western part belongs to Indonesia, the eastern part is a state which became independent in 2001, separating from Indonesia. East Timor has a population of about 1.2 million divided in the three dioceses of Dili, Baucau and Maliana and is configured as East Timor. It is the Asian country with the highest percentage of faithful.<br />In August 2015, the Holy See and the Democratic Republic of East Timor in Dili signed an agreement that provides for the recognition of the juridical personality of the Church and its institutions and guarantees the Church the freedom to carry out its mission in favor of the Timorese population. In 2016 this agreement was ratified.<br />Speaking to Fides of the situation of the Catholic Church in East Timor, which has a very important role in the formation of consciences of Timorese citizens, the Bishop said: "The faith of the baptized constantly needs to be strengthened and rooted in Catholic spirituality and tradition according to the values of the Gospel".<br />In a state marked by a very high percentage of young population "priests, religious and catechists are called to carry out efforts to accompany the formation of the faithful and continue the pastoral programs that help strengthen the faith of the people, step by step", says the Bishop.<br />In fact, on some occasions and situations in the life of Catholics in East Timor they tend to return to their ancient animistic belief systems: "For this reason the Church is committed to working with them and for them, so that they learn to always draw from the wealth of the Catholic faith and turn to God in all circumstances", he continues.<br />Another point with which the Catholic community is confronted is the very active presence of Pentecostal churches, with which sometimes there is "competition of the faithful": "We are initiating a process of dialogue with other Christian churches, in the sign of mutual respect and ecumenism", to prevent the passage of the baptized from one community to another community.<br />Among the needs present in the young Timorese society, there is the development of the education sector: this is why the Catholic community, especially the commitment of religious orders such as the Jesuits and Salesians, offers its contribution and collaborates with institutions in the educational system which, since 2002, had to be rebuilt completely. <br />Sat, 18 Feb 2017 12:03:26 +0100ASIA/LEBANON - An extraordinary session of the Holy Synod to address the "divisions" of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchatehttp://fides.org/en/news/61758-ASIA_LEBANON_An_extraordinary_session_of_the_Holy_Synod_to_address_the_divisions_of_the_Syriac_Orthodox_Patriarchatehttp://fides.org/en/news/61758-ASIA_LEBANON_An_extraordinary_session_of_the_Holy_Synod_to_address_the_divisions_of_the_Syriac_Orthodox_PatriarchateBeirut - The internal crisis within the Syriac Orthodox Church, after charges of "betrayal of faith" on behalf of six metropolitans against Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, could be addressed during an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod. This is what emerged during a consultory meeting, convened by Patriarch Mor Aphrem at the patriarchal residence of Atchaneh, in Lebanon, in which 18 Metropolitans and Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicars took part. This is what a statement issued on Thursday, February 16 by the general secretariat of the Syriac Orthodox Synod reports, noting that the Metropolitans and the patriarchal Vicars emphasized that the excuse letter issued by the six Archbishops did not reflect the gravity of the mistakes committed. The special session of the Holy Synod – says the statement - could be convened in the period of the Great Lent to study and discuss the aforementioned issues from all aspects, in order to "make the right decisions and take the suitable measures according to the Constitution of the Church".<br />The six metropolitans, in conflict with the Patriarch, on February 8 had released a statement in which they claimed that the Primate of the Syriac Orthodox Church no longer deserved the title of "defensor fidei", since in their opinion he had sown doubts and suspicions in the hearts of believers, with statements and actions «contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, according to his Holy Gospel».<br />The Patriarch is accused of "betrayal of faith" and also of raising the Koran, in sign of respect, on the occasion of inter-religious meetings. The charges of the six Metropolitan against the Patriarch provoked the response of other 30 Metropolitans and Syriac Orthodox Patriarchal Vicars, who represent the vast majority of the Synod. In a statement, issued on February 10, the thirty Bishops defined the allegations regarding the Patriarch as «rebellion against the Church». In the following days, through social media, priests and Syriac Orthodox communities around the world espressed their solidarity to the Patriarch. Then a letter of apology from the six Metropolitans was sent to Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem, a gesture that - as reported by the statement of the secretariat of the synod released on February 16 - was judged insufficient to put an end to the crisis. <br />Sat, 18 Feb 2017 11:44:18 +0100AFRICA/EGYPT - Disputes over the lands of St. Macarius monastery still unresolvedhttp://fides.org/en/news/61755-AFRICA_EGYPT_Disputes_over_the_lands_of_St_Macarius_monastery_still_unresolvedhttp://fides.org/en/news/61755-AFRICA_EGYPT_Disputes_over_the_lands_of_St_Macarius_monastery_still_unresolvedFayyum - There is still no definitive solution to the dispute between the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Macarius, in the region of Wadi al Rayan, and the Egyptian government regarding the proposed construction of a road that was to join the town of Fayyum to an oasis area crossing the ownership territories of the Monastery. Egyptian lawyer Ihab Ramzy, who defends the interests of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and who also in June 2016 had announced some details of the agreement reached between the parties, in recent days reported that the ad hoc committee formed to evaluate the economic terms of compensation to the monastery for the expropriation of land has not produced proposals and useful suggestions to conclude the deal.<br />In early 2015, during an initiative of non-violent resistance, the monks of San Macarius tried to avoid bulldozers that were heading towards the lands of the Monastery to start road construction works.<br />The project involves the construction of a road that was to join the town of Fayyum to the oasis area, crossing the territories surrounding the monastery and threatening also an archaeological area that extends around a church dating back to the fourth century. The project also put at risk the water supply of the Monastery and some cultivated areas. <br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:43:14 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - A week of terrorist violence: "We are vulnerable", says a priesthttp://fides.org/en/news/61756-ASIA_PAKISTAN_A_week_of_terrorist_violence_We_are_vulnerable_says_a_priesthttp://fides.org/en/news/61756-ASIA_PAKISTAN_A_week_of_terrorist_violence_We_are_vulnerable_says_a_priestLahore - "We condemn this senseless violence against innocent human beings. Before any ethnic, cultural or religious connotation, the victims are human beings. <br />People in Pakistan are above all sad; they are also angry with the institutions that are not able to protect citizens. Finally they feel fragile, vulnerable, helpless in the face of terrorist threat that spares no one": says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Inayat Bernard, Director of Santa Maria Seminary in Lahore, when asked on what has been called a "Week of terrorist violence" that has shocked Pakistan. After the massacre of February 13 in Lahore , yesterday a bomb exploded at a Muslim Sufi shrine in Sehwan, near Karachi, killing 80 worshipers who were praying, including 20 children, while other attacks were recorded in Quetta and Peshawar.<br />"Today we know that we are all potential targets. Even us Christians - says Fr. Bernard - no one is excluded. The victims of these latest attacks are all Muslims, tomorrow it could be the turn of a Christian, a Hindu or a Sikh. This indiscriminate violence hits places of worship, such as the Sufi mosque in Karachi, or churches in the past. Religious communities are forced to adopt their own security measures and cannot rely on the government. There should be more control, but it is very difficult when there is a great influx of faithful".<br />Fr. Bernard continues: "This violence profanes the name of God, profanes Islam and uses religion to try to overthrow the state. Public opinion strongly calls on the Government to urgently implement the national action plan against terrorism, already outlined, but there is some hesitation on behalf of the government and this gives rise to many questions on the possible existing connections even in the institutional apparatus. We are in an impasse".<br />The baptized in Pakistan, less than 2% of the population, "today can only pray and show deep empathy and solidarity", says the Director, and concludes. "We brought our condolences to the police, after the massacre in Lahore; we go to hospitals to offer assistance and solidarity to the injured. In addition we are organizing interfaith meetings in which the faithful of all religious communities light up candles and pray together to reject, in the name of God, terrorism that has bloodied our beloved nation, and say yes to peace and respect for life". <br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:18:24 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - More than 20,000 displaced people in Bambari due to clashes among former Seleka factionshttp://fides.org/en/news/61754-AFRICA_CENTRAL_AFRICA_More_than_20_000_displaced_people_in_Bambari_due_to_clashes_among_former_Seleka_factionshttp://fides.org/en/news/61754-AFRICA_CENTRAL_AFRICA_More_than_20_000_displaced_people_in_Bambari_due_to_clashes_among_former_Seleka_factionsBangui - More than 20,000 residents in Bambari forced to flee, took refuge in the forest because of the fighting between two rival factions of former Seleka rebellion. This is what the authorities of the Central African Republic and MINUSCA report. Bambari and its surroundings are theater of the clash between the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique and the Unité du Peuple Centrafricain . In a bombing carried out by a helicopter of MINUSCA, one of the FPRC leaders, "General" Joseph Zoundéko was killed on February 11.<br />UPC and FPRC are just two of the armed factions born from the disintegration of Seleka. These groups can form an alliance or fight each other depending on the circumstances, for the control of economic activities, from the exploitation of mines , to extortion along the main thoroughfares, to cattle rustling and smuggling. On the other hand the so-called antibalaka, self-defense groups created to fight Seleka rebels, also enter in this game of alliances and rivalries for essentially economic and criminal reasons. <br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 13:05:15 +0100ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Gym only for women, founded by a womanhttp://fides.org/en/news/61753-ASIA_AFGHANISTAN_Gym_only_for_women_founded_by_a_womanhttp://fides.org/en/news/61753-ASIA_AFGHANISTAN_Gym_only_for_women_founded_by_a_womanKabul – A gym only for women is having big success in Afghanistan. The experiment not only represents a commercial opportunity for the owner of the facility, but also an opportunity for girls, in a country still tied to traditions and strong social dogmas. Five years ago a businesswoman opened "Ladies World", a women only exercise facility with modern equipment, a beauty salon and area for physiotherapy. "Our initiative - reads a note sent to Fides - may come across as something unusual, but those who understand where I am coming from appreciate our efforts and encourage us to expand our business in other areas of Kabul city,<br />as well". The woman, in fact, got interested in exercise while living in Russia and Uzbekistan, there she developed a passion for gymnastics and body care. When she returned to Afghanistan, she started her business. "It was difficult at first. Cultural values and the novelty of a women-only gym meant I had to work hard on the marketing, educating women and their families about the benefits of exercise". In a country where religious fundamentalism is very strong, and in which the participation of women at work, in politics and not least in sport activities remains very low, a seemingly simple task can make a difference. <br /><br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:56:18 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - Paulines program for youth: "Beware of propagators of hate in social media"http://fides.org/en/news/61751-AFRICA_KENYA_Paulines_program_for_youth_Beware_of_propagators_of_hate_in_social_mediahttp://fides.org/en/news/61751-AFRICA_KENYA_Paulines_program_for_youth_Beware_of_propagators_of_hate_in_social_mediaNairobi – Encourage youth to use social media positively and responsibly to preach and maintain peace as the Country moves towards the general elections slated for 8th, August, 2017. This is the purpose of the meeting held at the Paulines Publication’s African offices in Nairobi, which was attended by 200 secondary school students. "Youth can become violent and become those who victimize other people depending on what they see others doing on social media. Many a times politicians use hate speeches and they might think it is right and make it normal", said Sister Josephine Idowu, of the Daughters of St. Paul, who led the meeting.<br />The religious stressed that social media may instead be used in a positive way to the benefit of evangelization. "Social media has a lot of influence and can inform the young people, it can improve on what you know, enrich interaction, improve self-esteem and can be used for prayers", said Sister Idowu.<br />In Kenya, the Daughters of St Paul’s congregation have embarked on a three month vigorous civic education for the youth who are the mostly targeted group by the politicians to perpetuate violence.<br />The activities include: publication of books, production of audio-visual materials and talks by professional and religious leaders in schools with media professionals and religious leaders. <br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:37:16 +0100AMERICA/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Still violence and death: condemnation of the Archbishop of Santo Domingohttp://fides.org/en/news/61752-AMERICA_DOMINICAN_REPUBLIC_Still_violence_and_death_condemnation_of_the_Archbishop_of_Santo_Domingohttp://fides.org/en/news/61752-AMERICA_DOMINICAN_REPUBLIC_Still_violence_and_death_condemnation_of_the_Archbishop_of_Santo_DomingoSanto Domingo - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, His Exc. Mgr. Francisco Ozoria, denounced the fact that Dominican society is going through difficult moments of darkness and violence.<br />"This world walks in darkness every time there is death, violence and crime. These things make us think", said Ozoria on February 15. In the country there is great insecurity: two radio speakers, Luis Manuel Medina and Leo Martinez were killed while they were working.<br />"It is almost unthinkable that one gets killed while working" the Archbishop said during the homily of the Mass for the 69th anniversary of the Air Force of the Dominican Republic, celebrated at San Isidro Air Base. Mgr. Ozoria noted that the two murdered men were engaged in their work, and he knew them well when he was in San Pedro de Macoris.<br />The Archbishop said that we must stop crime and remove it from society. He recalled that there is discrimination against Haitians: workforce is needed, but when they are hired for the job, they are underpaid.<br />The national community is still shocked by this criminal fact. According to the police the reason for the crime is still not known. A group of armed men broke into the headquarters of the radio station and began to shoot all those present, even the secretary is currently in hospital, wounded but does not risk death. The tragic event has caused the international solidarity of the media. <br />Fri, 17 Feb 2017 12:23:57 +0100