Fides News - Englishhttp://fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/IRAQ - Prayers for peace among the ruins of the ancient church in the area of Karbalahttp://fides.org/en/news/66227-ASIA_IRAQ_Prayers_for_peace_among_the_ruins_of_the_ancient_church_in_the_area_of_Karbalahttp://fides.org/en/news/66227-ASIA_IRAQ_Prayers_for_peace_among_the_ruins_of_the_ancient_church_in_the_area_of_KarbalaKarbala - Prayers and Christian hymns along with the reading of verses from the Koran echoed among the ruins of the church of Al Aqiser, in the area of Karbala, the holy city of Shiite Islam. All this took place on Monday 17 June, and the initiative was implemented by a group of Chaldean Christians who came on pilgrimage to what remains of the church which dates back to the 5th century a.C., considered among the oldest Christian places of worship in the Middle East. With their prayers, the members of the group asked the Lord for the gift of peace, the end of conflicts and release from all sectarianism.<br />Located in the west of Karbala, the archaeological site certifies the presence in the region of flourishing Christian communities, dating back to pre-Islamic times. "The existence of this church is a clear sign of the coexistence among the peoples of this country, until today", declared Chaldean priest Maysar Behnam.<br />The ruins of the church have resurfaced from the desert thanks to archaeological excavations carried out in the seventies of the last century. In the past, Iraqi Christian groups used to go on pilgrimage during Christmas time.<br />In Karbala, every year, tens of millions of Muslim Shiite pilgrims flock to commemorate the killing of Husayn ibn Ali, Mohammad's grandson and considered by the Shiites the third legitimate imam, killed in Karbala in 680 a. C. together with 72 of his followers from the troops of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 13:15:39 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - "For years we have been in the grip of terrorism", denounce the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Nigerhttp://fides.org/en/news/66226-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_For_years_we_have_been_in_the_grip_of_terrorism_denounce_the_Bishops_of_Burkina_Faso_and_Nigerhttp://fides.org/en/news/66226-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_For_years_we_have_been_in_the_grip_of_terrorism_denounce_the_Bishops_of_Burkina_Faso_and_NigerOuagadougou - "The Countries of our Bishops' Conference, Burkina Faso and Niger, are prey to terrorist attacks", denounce the Bishops of the two West African States, in the final message of their Plenary Assembly which was held in Ouagadougou from 5 to 15 June. <br />"Despite the commitment of the Defense and Security Forces, terrorist attacks are intensifying and have taken on a new religious dimension, through targeted kidnappings and homicides", the document said, sent to Agenzia Fides. The Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger declare themselves disappointed with these "unjustifiable crimes".<br />After drawing up a long list of murders, kidnappings and assaults against priests, religious, laity and places of Catholic worship, starting from 17 September 2018, the Bishops’ Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, "ask people who love peace to remain united despite the resurgence of terrorist attacks; to cultivate the cohesion among the different components of our peoples to avoid falling into the traps of terrorists".<br />"The Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger in particular ask Christians to intensify measures of prudence and vigilance at individual and community level in a climate of faith and hope and to remain disciples and witnesses of the One who obtained his victory not with violence, but with love; in other words, to conquer evil with good". <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 12:12:11 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Kidnapped priest released; over 150 violent deaths in a weekhttp://fides.org/en/news/66225-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Kidnapped_priest_released_over_150_violent_deaths_in_a_weekhttp://fides.org/en/news/66225-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Kidnapped_priest_released_over_150_violent_deaths_in_a_weekAbuja – Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16th along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home after having celebrated mass. The police forces, helped by some hunters in the area, managed to identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest one of the bandits was injured.<br />The kidnappers seem to belong to a group of Fulani, a nomadic shepherd ethnicity, who in Nigeria and other West African countries have become protagonists of violent raids against other populations. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped.<br />In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, probably committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson, were kidnapped by a gang of shepherds on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to Sunday mass.<br />On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa , then claimed responsibility for the attack.<br />On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The bandits, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.<br />A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced "the unprecedented level of insecurity" and the "complete impunity" of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:32:14 +0200AMERICA/PERU - "Welcoming Christ in refugees": let us not be carried away by voices that encourage xenophobia, discrimination and fearhttp://fides.org/en/news/66224-AMERICA_PERU_Welcoming_Christ_in_refugees_let_us_not_be_carried_away_by_voices_that_encourage_xenophobia_discrimination_and_fearhttp://fides.org/en/news/66224-AMERICA_PERU_Welcoming_Christ_in_refugees_let_us_not_be_carried_away_by_voices_that_encourage_xenophobia_discrimination_and_fearLima - "Refugees are people who flee conflict and persecution, are protected by international law, because of their particular vulnerability, and should not be expelled or returned to situations where their lives and their freedom are at risk": this is how the message of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference for World Refugee Day, 20 June begins. "Welcoming Christ in refugees" is the title of the message, sent to Fides, which cites the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and recalls that there are 25.4 million refugees in the world and 3.1 million who ask to be recognized as such.<br />The Bishops present the Peruvian reality: "Our country, for many years, protects people with these requirements, guaranteeing them refugee status. We currently have refugees of different nationalities, including Venezuelans, Cubans, Colombians, Palestinians, Syrians, Bengalis, Sri Lankans and several African countries: People in need of shelter are exposed to multiple situations such as aggression, smuggling of migrants, fraud and other violations of their human rights, which is why the Catholic Church in Peru, faced with this challenge, paid particular attention to providing assistance and protection to these people. Even though the UN General Assembly on December 17, 2018 adopted the Global Refugee Pact, in order to strengthen cooperation and solidarity with the refugees and the host countries concerned by this phenomenon, much remains to be done in favor of refugees, in facing the globalization of indifference".<br />CEP, following the example of Jesus, invites concrete action towards those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability, following Pope Francis who proposed four verbs to apply to pastoral work with refugees: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate.<br />"On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Peruvian Bishops' Conference wants to encourage the various States in the region, in particular ours, to strengthen the mechanisms for access to reception and to apply an adequate definition of refugee. At the same time we urge Peruvian society not to be carried away by the 'voices' that encourage xenophobia, discrimination and fear, but to build together the culture of encounter", the Bishops conclude.<br />The message sent to Fides is signed by the President of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference and CELAM, Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, and by the person responsible for the pastoral care of human mobility, Mgr. Daniel Turley. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:06:14 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Alarm of Justice and peace for increased human trafficking, especially young womenhttp://fides.org/en/news/66223-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Alarm_of_Justice_and_peace_for_increased_human_trafficking_especially_young_womenhttp://fides.org/en/news/66223-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Alarm_of_Justice_and_peace_for_increased_human_trafficking_especially_young_womenCaracas - "The Justice and Peace Commission and Caritas urge the authorities of the National Public Power to investigate, prosecute, and convict those responsible for human trafficking crimes; to guarantee the families of the victims direct access, without any obstacle, to state security bodies and judicial bodies, to expose their cases and receive justice without any delay, as required by the Constitution and the various international instruments of protection of human rights, signed and ratified by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela". Thus writes, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Roberto Lückert, Archbishop Emeritus of Coro, President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference . The text, which is dated June 18, is also signed by Fr. Saúl Ron Braasch, Vicar General of the same Commission.<br />In the meeting with the relatives of the 28 missing persons in Güiria, in the State of Sucre, while they were sailing on a boat to the island of Trinidad and Tobago, which left on April 23, those at the head of the Justice and Peace Commission were able to ascertain that "the majority of the missing persons in this circumstance were women, contacted by people who had offered them work and better living conditions". In May another boat disappeared, again with a considerable group of people on board.<br />Family members also complained that although they were informed that their relatives, mostly young women, had died in the shipwreck, the bodies have not yet been found and those in charge of carrying out the investigation do not respond in a timely manner.<br />"The Commission observes with concern that the increase of these episodes not only in the eastern part of the country, but also in the border areas of Falcón, Brazil and Colombia, where these groups of criminals that endanger life and physical integrity and the dignity of women operate - especially young people and minors, create great anxiety and despair in their families and particularly in boys and girls left in a situation of abandonment".<br />The Commission and Caritas reiterate in the conclusion of the press release that "they will continue to follow these cases and accompany their family members, to obtain justice, appropriate information and clarify the events". <br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:50:39 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Interreligious dialogue to overcome prejudices and live human fraternityhttp://fides.org/en/news/66222-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Interreligious_dialogue_to_overcome_prejudices_and_live_human_fraternityhttp://fides.org/en/news/66222-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Interreligious_dialogue_to_overcome_prejudices_and_live_human_fraternityZamboanga - "The Year of interreligious dialogue, promoted by the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in 2020, in preparation for 2021, a special moment of celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, is an opportunity to revisit the mission of interreligious dialogue today": this was stated to Agenzia Fides by Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME, new executive secretary of the Commission for interreligious dialogue in the Philippine Bishops Conference.<br />The missionary, who launched the "Silsilah" movement for dialogue in the southern Philippines, explains: "We must help Catholics, Christians of different denominations, Muslims and people of other religions to have a better understanding of the mission of interreligious dialogue. Catholics, called to renew their faith, are also invited to rediscover the importance of walking together in solidarity with people of different faiths, cultures and religions. In the Philippine context, this invitation becomes an urgent sign of the times when Christians are able to overcome the fears and prejudices built over the centuries above all towards Muslims, in order to reach an authentic understanding and respect for indigenous culture and tradition".<br />Fr. D'ambra, who has just published the text "Walking together on the road of dialogue", for Claretian Publications, points out to Fides: "It is important that Christians, in this special moment for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines, make an effort to remove the prejudices accumulated in the past, to be faithful to the new commandment of Jesus: the commandment of love". The missionary points out "a new statement of the importance of the culture of dialogue" in the recent document "On human fraternity for peace and coexistence in the world together", signed on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb. That text declares "the adoption of the culture of dialogue as a path, mutual cooperation as a code of conduct, mutual understanding as a method and standard".<br />"In the Philippines - says the PIME missionary - we are challenged to deepen the spirit of the culture of dialogue. Our challenge today is to give a deeper meaning to the "Culture of dialogue" to deepen dialogue with God, dialogue with oneself, dialogue with others and dialogue with creation. In this framework, we can better understand sincere dialogue with people of other religions: interreligious dialogue helps us move towards mutual cooperation as a code of conduct and mutual understanding as method and standard.<br />The missionary hopes that "we can develop a true culture of dialogue with everyone, starting from our family, community, as well as in our relationships with everyone in society, including relations with people of other religions, especially Muslims in the Philippines". "This is the new encounter - he concludes - that we must build together, convinced that we are all part of the same human family, created and loved by God, our Creator". <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:31:44 +0200AMERICA MEXICO - Shooting in Church, catechist killed; the Bishops reaffirm their commitment to building peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/66221-AMERICA_MEXICO_Shooting_in_Church_catechist_killed_the_Bishops_reaffirm_their_commitment_to_building_peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/66221-AMERICA_MEXICO_Shooting_in_Church_catechist_killed_the_Bishops_reaffirm_their_commitment_to_building_peaceChiapas - A catechist instructor was shot dead in the municipality of Acacoyagua, in a chapel in Chiapas state - another example of how the violence consuming Mexico is impacting the Catholic Church. The Bishop of the Diocese of Tapachula , Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón, in a video sent to Fides talks about the dynamics of the murder: "We were victims of the generalized violence that exists in the country. Yesterday at the end of catechists' training course in the church of the Immaculate Conception, of San Marcos Evangelista parish, two young men entered and started shooting, one of the bullets injured Margeli Lang Antonio, who died almost immediately. We are close to her family. As a diocesan family we cannot get used to these facts of violence that demonstrate a social and moral degradation of the human community". Mgr. Calderón asked the authorities to find those responsible as soon as possible.<br />During a press conference on Sunday afternoon, June 16, the Bishop stressed that "social decomposition is due to a lack of integral health of communities. When there is no work, when there is injustice, when there is impunity, when there is an excessive ambition for money, when people's lives have a price, what is put at the center is money, then everything has a price and whoever has the money is the one who commands ... When there are changes of the government there is a certain emptiness of authority and power ... ", the Bishop concluded.<br />Yesterday Fides received the statement of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico on the meeting of the CEM Presidency with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the Republic, in order "to begin fraternal dialogue with the will to collaborate in the construction of a more just society". The Bishops, the statement said, touched two fundamental themes: migration emergency and the construction of peace.<br />Regarding the first, "the Church continues to offer its resources: 95 dioceses, 10 thousand parishes, more than 130 hotels and thousands of pastoral workers throughout the Mexican territory engaged in the humanitarian mission and in the defense of human rights". The Presidency of the CEM therefore stressed that "greater joint collaboration is needed to guarantee the safety of migrants".<br />On the second issue, the Bishops intend to give their contribution to the reconstruction of the social fabric and the strengthening of the rule of law, through the Peace Building Plan, "which includes listening centers, centers for the defense of human rights, accompaniment of the victims and peace education workshops". "The suffering of so many Mexican families for violence and insecurity urgently calls for our fraternal collaboration", the text emphasizes.<br />The CEM statement concludes by recalling that other topics were also discussed at the meeting, and stressed that the Church intends to fulfill its mission by participating in the search for the common good, "in a line of positive secularism, in which the full exercise of religious freedom strengthens democracy". <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 13:11:43 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - Islamic State in the east of the DRC; the concern of local bishopshttp://fides.org/en/news/66220-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Islamic_State_in_the_east_of_the_DRC_the_concern_of_local_bishopshttp://fides.org/en/news/66220-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Islamic_State_in_the_east_of_the_DRC_the_concern_of_local_bishopsKinshasa - There is also the mysterious Islamic State in the Province of Central Africa among the armed groups that rage in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose violent actions are at the center of the concerns of the Bishops of South Kivu. In the concluding statement of the Ordinary Assembly of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu , the persistence and proliferation of armed groups and criminal gangs that perpetrate massacres, attacks, kidnappings and looting, causing great displacement of populations, is denounced.<br />"These situations show the decline of the State" they highlight in the message. The populations most affected are those of Beni and Butembo, where several massacres are attributed to the ADF-NALU, a group of Ugandan origin. This group, or one of its members, have apparently given birth to the even more mysterious Islamic State in the Province of Central Africa which, recently, has begun to claim its attacks through its official website.<br />Other violence is committed by militias and armed groups present in the areas of Uvira, Fizi and Mwenga, for the possession of land or for issues of leadership of traditional local leaders, with the consequent accentuation of tribalism and ethnic divisions.<br />The lack of security and of the State further weakens an already disorganized economy exposed to the ravages of internal and external exploitation: minerals are looted, local agriculture is abandoned in favor of subsidized foreign products, local entrepreneurship is almost non-existent, tax collection is left in the hands of state agents who often take advantage of it to their advantage.<br />The Bishops ask the central authorities to "regain the management of the sovereign mission of the State: that of ensuring unity, territorial integrity, security of persons and property and promotion of the well-being of the population"; "to guarantee the protection of natural resources. Before proceeding with any agreement with third parties, national interests and respect for the environment must be assured and guaranteed"; "to encourage the creation of jobs for the local populations", "to accentuate the fight against the corruption of the elites, through an adequate salary policy of state employees", "to complete the electoral cycle". <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 12:48:52 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "Habla Quibdó": media will make itself available to communities to talk about violence and problemshttp://fides.org/en/news/66218-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_Habla_Quibdo_media_will_make_itself_available_to_communities_to_talk_about_violence_and_problemshttp://fides.org/en/news/66218-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_Habla_Quibdo_media_will_make_itself_available_to_communities_to_talk_about_violence_and_problemsQuibdó - On Wednesday 19 June, from 7 to 10 am, the social media of Quibdó and the community will be the main protagonists of the "Habla Quibdó" campaign, which aims to open spaces so that people can communicate and share what they live every day in this area of the country so affected by violence. <br />The Bishop of the Diocese of Quibdó, Mgr. Juan Carlos Barreto, explains in the note sent to Fides that the initiative wants to allow the different sectors of the city to express what they feel, so a citizens' committee will address these problems with the institutions. "We will listen to the voice of the communities of Quibdó, the suburbs and the different sectors, who will talk about what they are experiencing and what can be done with some institutions. We will have the support of experts who will help us understand the causes and possible solutions to these problems", says the Bishop.<br />Insecurity, murders, extortion, robberies, invisible borders, child abuse, will be some of the topics that will be addressed, thanks to the agreement with all the media in this city, which will make their channels available to citizens so that everyone can express their concerns. Archbishop Barreto points out that, although the institutions have the obligation to respond to all the problems afflicting this city, particular attention must also be paid to the formation of the culture of citizenship.<br />Quibdó is a municipality in Colombia, capital of the Chocó department, known for its large Afro-Colombian population. It is located in the western part of the country and is the only Colombian department to have coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. Despite untapped natural resources, its population has one of the lowest living standards of all Colombian departments: in 2007, about 50 children died of starvation in less than three months.<br />A few weeks ago the various local organizations and indigenous peoples, together with the diocese of Quibdò, once again denounced the serious situation and the worsening of the social and humanitarian crisis caused by the resumption of the armed conflict and of the lack of protection for the Afro-descendant and indigenous communities . <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 12:37:43 +0200AFRICA/NIGER - Interfaith prayer for Father Maccalli in Niameyhttp://fides.org/en/news/66216-AFRICA_NIGER_Interfaith_prayer_for_Father_Maccalli_in_Niameyhttp://fides.org/en/news/66216-AFRICA_NIGER_Interfaith_prayer_for_Father_Maccalli_in_NiameyNiamey - "After nine months of Father Pierluigi Maccalli’s absence, there was the first common moment of prayer with the Muslim leaders of the capital": says Father Mauro Armanino, priest of the Society for African Missions, to Agenzia Fides . The missionary organized a prayer meeting in Niamey on the occasion of the ninth month since the abduction of his confrere, on September 18, 2018.<br />"During the prayer meeting in Niamey, in the chapel of Sainte Monique de la Francophonie, yesterday, June 17, - reports the missionary – saw the presence of the bishop of Niamey, a pastor and other members of the intra and interreligious dialogue . It was possible for an hour, to imagine that peace, the "conviviality of differences", as Father Gigi called it, could make its way through the wounds of all. Muslims and Christians united in the pain of families for the many, too many faithful who have been killed or have disappeared. <br />"There are heavy absences, creative absences, fruitful absences, absences like wounds in which a different future can be sown", writes Father Armanino. And he continues: "Just two days ago they attacked some churches in the economic capital of the country, Maradi . We continue to pray and hope for Father Gigi". <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 12:27:25 +0200OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Call to holiness: young people reflect on "Christus Vivit"http://fides.org/en/news/66219-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Call_to_holiness_young_people_reflect_on_Christus_Vivithttp://fides.org/en/news/66219-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Call_to_holiness_young_people_reflect_on_Christus_VivitPort Moresby - The young people of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island are "called to holiness" in their daily life: this was the central theme of reflection of the national seminar dedicated to youth pastoral animators, organized in recent days in Port Moresby by the Youth Commission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. As reported to Agenzia Fides by the Social Communications Office of the Conference, the seminar was based on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis entitled “Christus Vivit” and brought together animators from the dioceses of Port Moresby, Madang, Mt Hagen, Rabaul , Alotau, Daru-Kiunga, Mendi, Kavieng, Aitape, Wewak, Kerema, Bereina, Vanimo and Lae. Bishops of the Kerema and Alotau dioceses Fr. Peter Baquero and Fr Rolando Santos were the programme’s facilitators, together with CBC secretary of the social communication and youth secretary Fr. Ambrose Pereira SDB and with other religious. The training sessions are aimed at helping young animators, coordinators of youth groups in their youth pastoral work, in each diocese.<br />Addressing the coordinators present, Bishop Peter Baquero said: "Young people want a Church that listens to them, this is a challenge for young animators and group coordinators, so that they are ready to listen to our young people". During the training seminar they watched a film "The Least of These", which then inspired the debate, reflection and prayer.<br />"The gathering, interaction of youth animators, the presence of the two Bishops and the enriching sharing of Christus Vivit was very inspiring", said Sister Rebecca Fernandez, OND, coordinator of the youth of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby. "I will share what I learned through accompaniment and also through prayer, in the work of evangelization", said Linus Akaina, youth animator of the diocese of Bereina.<br />"Young people are not afraid to live with Christ", stressed Fr. Ambrose Pereira SDB, highlighting that the participants were given the opportunity to share and deal with the problems and challenges they face daily, in social life and in their spiritual path. Inspired by Jesus, light and hope for his disciples, the educators were invited to "walk alongside the young, like Don Bosco". <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:37:50 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Project to reform Islamic schools: Christians approvehttp://fides.org/en/news/66217-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Project_to_reform_Islamic_schools_Christians_approvehttp://fides.org/en/news/66217-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Project_to_reform_Islamic_schools_Christians_approveIslamabad : "Updating and reforming the education system in Islamic schools is a good step of the government of Pakistan. It is a new path to fight extremism, fundamentalism and terrorism in the country. The government must do everything possible to improve its citizens and its country": this is what Fr. James Channan OP, Director of the Peace Center in Lahore, committed to peace and human rights in the country, said to Agenzia Fides.<br />The government has announced its intention to reform the education system in over 30,000 Islamic schools in the country. The reform includes the prohibition of promoting hatred against other religions, faiths or ethnic groups. The government will be part of the financial management of the institutes and will carry out controls on teaching and school programs. The intention, said General Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistani army, is "to bring Islamic schools into the mainstream: there are 2.5 million children that receive education in over 30,000 Islamic schools. About 100 of these schools are involved in violent activity". "We want to put an end to violence and extremism in our country. This will only be possible when students educated in Islamic schools have the same education", the spokesman added.<br />Fr. Channan notes to Fides: "Credit must be given to the government of Imran Khan, to the Ministry of Education and to the Ministry for Religious Affairs and Interreligious Harmony for the curriculum reform project. Children will learn modern subjects and about international current affairs: this will open their minds and help them grow as good citizens of Pakistan. In addition, students will grow up in a peaceful environment and learn to live in peace, harmony and acceptance of others: this will be a contribution to society and to the future of the nation".<br />Fr. Channan, who in his work nurtures good relations with Islamic scholars and leaders, says: "There are numerous Koranic schools in Pakistan, and some of these are used to sow hatred or to promote personal agendas of small extremist groups. We welcome with satisfaction the government's desire to protect innocent children studying in these schools".<br />Sabir Michael, a well-known educator and Catholic peace activist in Karachi, speaking to Fides, says: "I welcome this reform, but I urge the government to be more specific in its reform policies. It is important that these schools are supported by the government that maintains control over them".<br />Fr. Mario Rodrigues, Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, points out to Agenzia Fides: "For the government of Imran Khan it is essential to carry out a reform in the school system. Hate speeches should be completely banned and children who study in Islamic schools must be educated to be patriotic and faithful citizens of Pakistan". <br /><br />Tue, 18 Jun 2019 11:16:38 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Bishop of Buenaventura: violence has reached terrifying levels, people are afraid to denouncehttp://fides.org/en/news/66213-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_Bishop_of_Buenaventura_violence_has_reached_terrifying_levels_people_are_afraid_to_denouncehttp://fides.org/en/news/66213-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_Bishop_of_Buenaventura_violence_has_reached_terrifying_levels_people_are_afraid_to_denounceBuenaventura - For almost two years he has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Buenaventura in Colombia, and he has already had to deal with violent groups that have sown terror in the area.<br />Archbishop Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya continues to try all possible ways to stop the violent confrontation of criminal groups that compete for control in this part of the country, where the most important Colombian port on the Pacific is located, a crossroads for trade that sustains much of the national economy.<br />Only a few days ago the Bishop told a local radio station that he was willing to board a helicopter to spread holy water on the port and the city in order to permanently remove the demons. In an interview with the press, he asked for the intervention of national authorities to tackle together the violence that is reaching terrifying levels.<br />In the interview sent to Fides, the Bishop said that it is not surprising to find bodies in the street, as a symbol of the power of violence in the port area. The "casas de pique" continue to exist: a reality that in 2015 was thought to have disappeared, but had been denounced by Mgr. Héctor Epalza Quintero, PSS. On many occasions Priests denounced this horror, signaling how the violence has been "anchored" in the port for more than 35 years. While other regions have seen a decrease in violence with murder, Buenaventura remains at alarming levels .<br />"We have had 54 violent deaths so far this year, but there are many people who disappear. And this is not reported - said Archbishop Jaramillo two days ago -. The problem is that there is not yet a culture of filing charges because there is fear, we have a society that is afraid of denouncing. The community asked me to anticipate Sunday masses at six in the afternoon because they fear being abducted. There are men with rifles that run through the neighborhoods".<br />"I have heard terrible stories from the faithful - the Bishop continues -. These groups force a family to leave, so the house remains empty and criminals take advantage of keeping their weapons there, and to bring people who do not pay extortions. "Even people living nearby are threatened and have to go to another neighborhood, because people are poor and cannot go to another city. This intra-urban movement is not registered as an internal displacement or migration. The State is not aware of this Internal displacement and therefore people end up satisfying a law called silence: it is better to be silent".<br />Faced with this situation, Bishop Jaramillo proposes to get to the root of the problem: "first of all we have moved away from God, instead we must see the other as something sacred, life is sacred. Today we are no longer interested in anything, but only economic power, commercial power, political power and the power of arms, which in essence is he who commands. We must ask for the help of the State, even social organizations, private companies, with strategies to create trust and thus promote work and security", concludes the Bishop .<br />The Diocese of Buenaventura , has an area of 6,297 square kilometers and a population of 407,675 inhabitants, of whom 306,000 are Catholics. There are 38 priests , 15 religious brothers, 12 religious women. There are 6 major seminarians. . <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 15:21:08 +0200OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Week of prayer and action for asylum seekers: the Church calls for a fair trial and integrationhttp://fides.org/en/news/66215-OCEANIA_AUSTRALIA_Week_of_prayer_and_action_for_asylum_seekers_the_Church_calls_for_a_fair_trial_and_integrationhttp://fides.org/en/news/66215-OCEANIA_AUSTRALIA_Week_of_prayer_and_action_for_asylum_seekers_the_Church_calls_for_a_fair_trial_and_integrationSydney - "We invite everyone to participate in the 'National Week of Prayer and Action' which this year coincides with both the 'Refugee Week' and the first 100 days of the newly elected government: it is a crucial moment to launch a strong message of compassion for those seeking asylum. Schools, parishes, networks and organizations will come together to pray, act and raise awareness of the importance of opening up to people who seek acceptance in our communities. To concretize the request of Pope Francis to host, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees, we ask everyone to act together with the members of the whole Catholic community of Australia". This is what the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum , a forum of various Australian Catholic organizations that is fighting for the rights of asylum seekers, declares in a note sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />As stated in the note, the initiative, which aims to raise awareness regarding a different aspect of the phenomenon every year, this year calls to guarantee "a fair trial for people seeking asylum. <br />The initiative takes place in conjunction with the Refugee Week: from 16 to 22 June, which represents the most important annual appointment on the subject of immigration in Australia. This year companies, groups, communities, schools and individuals have been asked to organize a meal during which they must listen to the stories of the "Refugee Ambassadors". This can be done by inviting a refugee directly to the event or by watching video testimonies prepared by the organizers of the Week. "Food - says CAPSA network - is one of the best ways we can bring people together and share our cultures. This is why we invite you to "share a meal, share a story", as the theme of the year states". <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 14:48:39 +0200AFRICA/NIGER - A Christian church set on fire in Maradihttp://fides.org/en/news/66214-AFRICA_NIGER_A_Christian_church_set_on_fire_in_Maradihttp://fides.org/en/news/66214-AFRICA_NIGER_A_Christian_church_set_on_fire_in_MaradiNiamey - In the night between Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June, in Maradi, the third largest city in Niger, a group of protesters demonstrating against the arrest of a prominent local imam set a Protestant Christian church on fire. This was confirmed by Fides sources in Niger, reporting a situation of social tension. "The church of the Assemblies of God was totally burned in the Zaria district, as well as the priest’s car, by unknown persons. The umpteenth act of violence is added to the three suffered by the parish of Dolbel, 200 km from Niamey, on May 13th .<br />According to local witnesses, on Saturday night groups of young people demonstrated by building barricades on the road for the arrest of Imam Cheick Rayadoune, who had called "anti-Islam" a government bill on the organization of the practice of worship in the country. Rayadoune was released Sunday afternoon, and admitted he was misled in the interpretation of the Niger Worship Bill and apologized. "My supporters must stop creating unrest in the city, Islam does not support this, I was not abused by the police", the leader said in a message. "I was deceived by those who translated a text that was supposed to be the official document".<br />The bill, adopted at the end of April by the Council of Ministers, establishes in particular that "freedom of worship must be exercised in compliance with public order".<br />The text, which will be discussed in Parliament for entry into force, states that "to build a place of worship, a request for authorization and a declaration of sources of funding are mandatory". Higher Education Minister Yahouza Sadissou said: "We will never be taken against Islam and we have a duty to protect other religions".<br />Niger is a predominantly Muslim country, with 1 to 2% Christians out of a population of more than 20 million inhabitants. The country has already experienced serious religious unrest. In 2015, there were anti-Christian uprisings in Niamey that destroyed most of the churches in the capital, and in Zinder, the second largest city in the country. <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 14:39:38 +0200ASIA/TURKEY - Luys TV inaugurated, first Turkish-Armenian TV station launched in Turkeyhttp://fides.org/en/news/66212-ASIA_TURKEY_Luys_TV_inaugurated_first_Turkish_Armenian_TV_station_launched_in_Turkeyhttp://fides.org/en/news/66212-ASIA_TURKEY_Luys_TV_inaugurated_first_Turkish_Armenian_TV_station_launched_in_TurkeyAnkara - Luys in Armenian means "light". "Luys TV" is the first television channel in Armenian and Turkish, inaugurated in recent days in Turkey. Turkish Armenian journalist Aram Kuran, the station’s chief, told local media that the project to create a bilingual Armenian-Turkish channel started two years ago, and also thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyp Erdogan for the support he assured for the initiative.<br />Luys channel initially started broadcasting on January 6th, by publishing Christmas rituals online. It was the large number of people who followed the mass in Armenian on TV to push the promoters of the initiative to create a real network capable of broadcasting programs and celebrations in Armenian.<br />Kuran said that they are currently broadcasting news provided by national channels and agencies such as Anadolu Agency by translating them into Armenian, adding that they are planning to publish news on a daily basis in the near future.<br />He also thanked Turkish public broadcaster the TRT for its support as it provided the channel with documentaries about minorities from its own archives. 70 percent of the programs are in Armenian, and 30 percent in Turkish. Children's programs are also included in the limited schedule. <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:30:52 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - "Migration and public policies": 34th National Migrant Weekhttp://fides.org/en/news/66211-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Migration_and_public_policies_34th_National_Migrant_Weekhttp://fides.org/en/news/66211-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Migration_and_public_policies_34th_National_Migrant_WeekSan Paolo - The 34th Migrant Week began yesterday, Sunday, June 16, throughout the country, which will end on Sunday 23. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, the theme of the week is as always linked to the theme of the Fraternity Campaign: this year the theme is "Migration and public policies" and the motto: "Accept, protect, promote, integrate and celebrate. The struggle is every day".<br />"We invite all operators of the Pastoral Care of Migrants, together with priests, men and women of good will, sensitive to the pain of others, to reflect and seek out ways of action, starting from Pope Francis' invitation to welcome, protect, promote and integrate the migrant", said His Exc. Mgr. José Luiz Ferreira Sales, Bishop of Pesqueira, referent of the sector of human mobility within the framework of the Bishops’ Conference and president of the Pastoral Care of Migrants . In this context, the Bishop informs that the Pastoral Service of migrants is working to obtain greater possibilities of safe and legal entry for migrants in destination countries, for actions in defense of the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees.<br />Material on the reality of migration in Brazil and to encourage the actions during the week, was sent to the various Churches and local communities, underlining two important dates: June 20, World Day of Refugees and 25, the Day of Migrants. <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 13:19:43 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - To pray and hope: prayer vigil and march for the release of Father Gigi Maccallihttp://fides.org/en/news/66210-EUROPE_ITALY_To_pray_and_hope_prayer_vigil_and_march_for_the_release_of_Father_Gigi_Maccallihttp://fides.org/en/news/66210-EUROPE_ITALY_To_pray_and_hope_prayer_vigil_and_march_for_the_release_of_Father_Gigi_MaccalliCrema - Another long month of silence passed from the night between 17 and 18 September 2018 in which Father Pierluigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions , was kidnapped in Niger. <br />As the SMA missionaries point out to Agenzia Fides, Saturday, June 15 was also the 34th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Fr. Gigi originally from the parish of Madignano. Among the initiatives organized to keep his memory alive and the hope of his release, the diocese of Crema has organized a prayer and march vigil that starts today, June 17, at 9 pm, from the Pieve of Palazzo Pignano to the Shrine of the Madonna delle Assi in Monte Cremasco.<br />"To pray and hope with the heart to a reality that is distant and in many ways unknown like Africa and in particular Niger", reads the announcement sent to Agenzia Fides, which highlights the event.<br />"It is not the first vigil organized in the diocese", says Enrico Fantoni, Director of the Crema missionary center, to Agenzia Fides. "In fact, starting from the first, prepared by the parish of St. James, at the Bishop's suggestion, many parishes of the Diocese took part in a real relay race, to ensure that the memory of the missionary is present in every church in the territory", continues Fantoni. <br />"If in his parish of origin, in Madignano, Father Gigi is remembered every evening with the community prayer of the Rosary, moments of prayer are celebrated a little everywhere, without waiting for particular dates or special occasions", emphasizes the Director of the Missionary Center of Crema. "As evidence of this, there are two posters that stand out in Piazza Duomo: one from the Town Hall, the other from the Bishop's Palace with the same writing: Release Father Gigi. It should also be noted that the solidarity campaign in Lent, in 2019, was intended for the construction of the secondary school in Bomoanga: a dream that Father Maccalli had confided to our Mission Center a few days before leaving".<br />Fantoni concludes: "While we are anxiously waiting for good news from Niger, everyone hopes for his imminent release, ready to transform the next Vigil from a moment of remembrance to a moment of joy and thanksgiving". <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 10:42:16 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The unpunished killings of priests, considered "social stabilizers" that disturb organized crimehttp://fides.org/en/news/66209-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_unpunished_killings_of_priests_considered_social_stabilizers_that_disturb_organized_crimehttp://fides.org/en/news/66209-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_unpunished_killings_of_priests_considered_social_stabilizers_that_disturb_organized_crimeMexico City - According to the Catholic Multimedia Center , violence against priests is not a direct expression of hatred of faith, but a desire for "social destabilization". "The priest and parish communities promote security, education, health services, the human rights of migrants, women and children ..." explains to Fides the director of the CCM, the Pauline priest Omar Sotelo Aguilar, SSP. <br />The local Church is, in fact, "a reality that helps people, in direct competition with organized crime", which knows that eliminating a priest is much more than eliminating a person, because it destabilizes an entire community. This is how "a culture of terror and silence is established, which is important for the growth of corruption and, therefore, to allow cartels to work freely". The phenomenon is particularly highlighted in the States of Guerrero, Veracruz, Michoacán, but now "it is total alarm" also in Tamaulipa, Jalisco and Guanajuato.<br />"Tragedia y crisol del sacerdocio en México" is the title of a journalistic dossier behind the book of the same name and, recently, of a documentary, with which Fr. Omar Sotelo Aguilar denounces the violence which affects priests all over the country and the almost absolute impunity that surrounds them. In an interview with Agenzia Fides, the religious recalls that "in 2018 seven priests were murdered in Mexico".<br />According to what has been gathered in about nine years of journalistic investigations, which have earned Father Sotelo the 2017 National Journalism Award, the phenomenon is growing, hand in hand with the increase in violence in the country. "In the six-year presidency of Luis Felipe Calderón, 17 priests were murdered, and in that of Enrique Peña Nieto, 26" summarizes the Pauline priest, who is also worried that over 80% of these crimes go unpunished.<br />The most striking case is the murder of Card. Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo, since "after more than 25 years no person is in jail for that crime". No one was even charged regarding the brutal killing of two young priests last year on the Taxco-Iguala highway. "The documentary", says the director, "wants to be a voice that cries out in this terrible darkness".<br />The intimidation is so frequent that in Mexico 26 churches per month are desecrated. "In the usual modus operandi, attacks on priests begin with extortion, then kidnapping, torture, and ultimately murder, with a particularly brutal violence", explains Fr. Sotelo Aguilar. Furthermore, post mortem slander of slain priests is common, to "divert attention" in the investigation. Thanks to the work carried out by the CCM team, "anomalies" by investigators were reported and made public and the authorities had to reopen the files already archived. CCM research has led to the intervention of Parliament's Human Rights Commission and the action of the US State Department and international organizations. <br /><br />Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:39:57 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - President of the Rural Workers Union assassinated: violence and murders in the Amazon increasehttp://fides.org/en/news/66198-AMERICA_BRAZIL_President_of_the_Rural_Workers_Union_assassinated_violence_and_murders_in_the_Amazon_increasehttp://fides.org/en/news/66198-AMERICA_BRAZIL_President_of_the_Rural_Workers_Union_assassinated_violence_and_murders_in_the_Amazon_increaseParà - The Pan-Amazon ecclesiastical network of Brazil repudiates the violent action and the attack that killed leader, Carlos Cabral Pereira, president of the Union of Rural Workers of Rio Maria, in the south-east of Pará, shot to death in the afternoon of Tuesday 11 June. Cabral Pereira had already been the target of an attack in 1991, when he was wounded in an ambush.<br />According to the report of the Pastoral Land Commission "Conflitos no Campo", in 2018 49% of the 1,489 conflicts recorded in Brazil occurred in the Amazon region. Of the 960,630 people involved in the conflicts, 62% are in the Amazon. The state of Pará leads the number of murders and attempted murders.<br />"Faced with this incident and many other cases of homicides related to agrarian conflicts in the state, we ask that the public authorities to take the necessary measures in the investigation and resolution of the case, as well as establish public policies in order to guarantee and protect many men and women who are threatened every", reads the statement sent to Fides.<br />"We express our solidarity with the family of Carlos Cabral, his friends and all the leaders threatened and persecuted in the countryside, especially in Rio Maria, informally called" the land of the announced death", and we ask the authorities to act with determination in the fight against impunity so that, in this way, violence in the region ends", concludes the statement.<br />According to a note from the Federal Public Ministry , with Cabral Pereira the number of murdered leaders of the STR rises to four: one in 1985, another in 1990 and the last in 1991. Violence in this area of Brazil has forced the CPT to dedicate a section of its annual report to these numbers, data and situations that confirm the importance of the figure of the leader among the peasants in the Brazilian forest and the abandonment by the state that does not protect them.<br />The CPT had to create "the Atlas of conflicts in the Amazon" to illustrate this terrible and unresolved situation. Only in Brazil it covers the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Tocantins, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Mato Grosso and Maranhão. Communities feel this violence a lot as an affront to their kind of life and peaceful coexistence. Since the assassination of missionary Sister Dorothy Stang in 2005 , they feel that it is also a violence against representatives of the Catholic Church. <br /><br />Fri, 14 Jun 2019 13:17:33 +0200