Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAFRICA/ETIOPIA - Even in Ethiopia, missionary childhood feast: prayer, sharing, mission, peace - May 19, is the anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Society of Holy Childhood or Missionary Childhood, the anniversary of all missionary children. To celebrate the occasion, Apostolic Prefecture of Robe organized the "Feast of missionary children" celebrated on May 20 in the parish of Adaba. This is what Don Giuseppe Ghirelli, head of the Missionary Office of the Apostolic Prefecture told Fides.<br />"The children of the parishes of Goba, Robe, Adaba, Herero, Dodola, Kofale, Demda and Qarso were accompanied by their parish priests and their catechists", informs Don Giuseppe. "Numerous arrived, a hundred children arrived at first and were a little afraid, finding themselves in a new place and with other children who they did not know, but immediately after they started singing and playing together and made friends with everyone. The feast, which started with the songs performed by the individual groups, continued with the Holy Mass presided by the Apostolic Prefect, Father Angelo Antolini, and concelebrated by parish priests Fr. Mekonnen, Fr. Bernardo and Fr. Joseph. After Mass they had lunch, and then played for more than an hour. In the afternoon the groups presented the work prepared in their respective parishes, describing, with designs, songs and representations, the Easter Sunday Gospels. The Feast ended with the celebration of the missionary mandate. The older children were called by name one by one, were asked if they were ready to observe the 4 commitments: prayer, sharing, mission, peace. The ID card of the missionary children along with the 'missionary pencil' were handed to them. Awards were also given for their works. The first were the children of Robe and Goba, second those of Dodola, third to those of Adaba. The children returned to their countries with the commitment to be missionaries in their environment and with the promise to see each other again during the school holidays to talk about the mission of missionary childhood", concludes Don Giuseppe. <br />Fri, 26 May 2017 13:05:26 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Christian hostages in Mindanao "will be human shields", says the Bishop city - "There are no negotiations. The army is engaged in door-to-door combat to regain the city of Marawi. And military leaders say they do not intend to negotiate with terrorists. We are seriously concerned about Fr. Chito, Fr. Suganob, and the other 15 hostages taken by terrorists. We do not know where they are. I do not think the kidnappers want money, but they intend to use them to save their lives. I fear they will use them as human shields": said to Agenzia Fides Bishop Edwin de la Pena, who heads the territorial prelature of Marawi city, a city on the island of Mindanao attacked and taken three days ago by terrorists of the "Maute" Islamic group. The militants broke into the cathedral and kidnapped the vicar of the bishop and the faithful gathered in prayer, then set fire to the building.<br />The Bishop also confirms to Fides the killing of nine Catholic faithful, who were stopped, tied and then killed at the gates of the city. "They are violent extremists, we do not know what they have in mind. We are in God's hands", he says.<br />The over 500 terrorists who entered the city have hoisted the black flags of the Islamic State, burned two schools and released prisoners from the local jail. Then they broke into houses, while the Philippine army have begun to lay siege to free the city. Most of the population has been evacuated but some families have locked themselves in their homes.<br />Meanwhile, the entire Catholic Catholic community has launched a prayer campaign for the release of the hostages. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato, a city also on the island of Mindanao, said: "Let us pray for the salvation of the hostages. We appeal to the kidnappers' conscience not to kill innocent people", he said, also asking for the help of Muslim leaders in Mindanao to try to solve the crisis of the hostages peacefully.<br />Even the Cardinal of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, expressed solidarity with the people of Marawi: "There are no words to express the pain and bitterness we feel. Why hurt innocents? We are very worried". The entire Philippine Church with bated breath has launched the appeal "PrayforMarawi" also spread over the social media.<br />In the meantime the Martial Law proclaimed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains in force on the island of Mindanao, which gives special powers to the armed forces to maintain political and social order. <br />Fri, 26 May 2017 12:47:12 +0200AFRICA/BURUNDI - More than 410,000 Burundian refugees abroad; UNHCR "insufficient funds to handle the crisis" - Over 410,000 Burundians have taken refuge in neighboring countries for the last two years. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that this number is expected to increase by the end of the year.<br />A UN body spokesman also said that refugees claim to flee for fear of persecution and violations of human rights committed in their Country, including rape and sexual violence.<br />Tanzania welcomes most Burundian refugees, where 249,000 of them live in three extremely crowded camps. Tens of thousands of Burundians have been welcomed in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.<br />That of Burundi is the third most important refugee crisis in Africa, but UNHCR has received only 2% of the $250 million needed to handle the situation. Reception areas are completely full while new refugees arrive every day. New structures must be built and existing ones expanded. The educational assistance for children is very difficult, with classes that are unable to hold new pupils.<br />Neighboring Countries have begun to reject in some cases refugees who present themselves at the borders.<br />The Burundian crisis broke out in 2015 following the third mandate of President Pierre Nkurunziza, in violation of Arusha's constitution and peace agreements. Since then, the Country has been living in a state of constant tension between the violence committed by pro-government militia and those of some guerrilla groups who oppose the President. <br />Fri, 26 May 2017 12:29:31 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - 10 people killed in a clash with the police for land dispute - At least 10 people were killed during a clash with the police in the state of Para, northern Brazil, on May 24. The Department of Public Security announced that nine men and a woman died during a clash that began when colonists who were demonstrating for the property of a plot of land began shooting the police who had arrived to arrest the suspects of a murder. The incident occurred at Santa Lucia ranch, about 900 kilometers north of Belem, capital of the state.<br />According to the note from the Pastoral Land Commission sent to Fides by Brazil's PMS, the shootout began when the police arrived to evict settlers. Unfortunately land disputes in Brazil are often violent.<br />About a month ago the CPT published its annual report "Conflicts in the countryside of Brazil 2016", which underlined the 61 murders committed last year, the highest recorded since 2003. Violence does not seem to diminish even in 2017. Up to now, 26 people have been killed in conflicts in the Brazilian countryside, not counting the 10 killed recently.<br />On May 19th a celebration at Chacina de Colniza was celebrated to remember the serious episode that happened a month earlier: nine rural workers were brutally murdered by a group of hooded men. <br /><br />Fri, 26 May 2017 12:09:15 +0200VATICAN - Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies: "Mission at the Heart of the Christian Faith" City - The General Assembly of the PMS will begin on Monday 29 May, at the House of the Salesians in Rome. The Assembly will be opened by Archbishop His Exc. Mgr. Protase Rugambwa, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies ,.<br />The National Directors of the PMS from all continents, with the President and the General Secretaries of the four Societies will gather for their annual meeting that includes the "Pastoral Days" on the theme "Mission at the heart of the Christian faith" and the ordinary session of the Assembly .<br />Following the report of Archbishop Rugambwa, with the usual formalities, the conference on the theme "The mission, the heart of the Church, in the light of the Evangelii Gaudium" will be presented by Dominican Juan Antonio Barreda, OP. In the afternoon there will be a debate and a deepening of the report, and then the report of Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The following day, May 30, will be dedicated to the theme of "common brand" with individual and group work, debates, proposals.<br />On Wednesday, May 31, the Ordinary Assembly will begin, with a working session dedicated to the proposals for Missionary October 2019, and the group work at a continental level on missionary animation 2018. In the afternoon, after a session dedicated to the PMS Portal, the participants will go to St. Peter's Apostle College, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of its foundation, for the Mass presided by Cardinal Filoni.<br />On Thursday, June 1, the General Secretaries of the four Pontifical Mission Societies will present the report of the past year, the forecast of the budget and subsidies requested for projects received: General Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of Faith, Fr. Ryszard Szmydki, OMI; General Secretary of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle, Fr. Fernando Domingues, MCCJ; Ms. J. Baptistine Ralamboarison, General Secretary of the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood; Fr. Fabrizio Meroni, PIME, General Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union and Director of CIAM and FIDES. The final report will be held by Mgr. Carlo Soldateschi, in charge of the Administration. On Friday, June 2, the speech of the President of the PMS, Mgr. Rugambwa will close the works. On Saturday, June 3, audience with the Holy Father will conclude the work of the Assembly. <br />Fri, 26 May 2017 11:57:35 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA -Redemptorists: "Our prophetic vocation leads us to denounce violence and clashes among brothers" - "Our prophetic vocation leads us to denounce intolerance, the use of violence, clashes among brothers, imposition with force, fear, persecution and arrest: contrary to the dignity of every person and the exercise of their fundamental rights", says the statement "In solidarity with Venezuela", published by the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer at the conclusion of the Fourth Assembly of the Conference of Redemptorists of Latin America and the Caribbean, held on 22 and 23 May in Marianella, Colombia.<br />"As Redemptorist missionaries, we cannot close our eyes to what is happening in Venezuela. We see with sorrow the suffering of so many brothers because of the abundant violence on behalf of the government. We are concerned about the extreme measures of social pressure on many people who endanger their integrity and their lives. This long conflict is causing wounds that will be difficult to heal", reads the statement sent to Fides.<br />"To those who rule, let us remember that no one has the right to assume all the powers. The principles of independence, separation, co-ordination and cooperation are essential for the survival of democracy, constitutional rights and the common good", the Redemptorists say, who are present in the country both in mission sites and in cities.<br />Redemptorists, more than five thousand missionaries in the world, are engaged in the Church in Latin America with a large presence. The Fourth Assembly of Latin American Members worked to apply the conclusions of the General Chapter 2016 under the slogan "Witnesses of the Redeemer, in Solidarity for Mission to a Wounded World".<br />Meanwhile, demonstrations against President Maduro's government do not stop in Venezuela. The other day there were two more victims, one in Maracaibo and the other in Ciudad Bolivar, hit by gunshots. The number of victims in anti-government protests has risen to 63 since early April. Caracas had to face a demonstration by the opposition yesterday, but was prevented by security forces even before departing from several points in the city. <br />Fri, 26 May 2017 10:39:04 +0200VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni concludes his visit to Equatorial Guinea: "Mission is carried out through testimony" - On the last day of his pastoral visit to Equatorial Guinea on Thursday, May 25, Cardinal Filoni spent the day in the diocese of Bata, where he celebrated Mass in the Cathedral, in the Solemnity of the Ascension, he then met priests, religious men and women.<br />"Today, in this Church of Bata, the words of Jesus resound again, as soon as they are heard and addressed to his disciples on the Day of Resurrection. The Risen Jesus sends his disciples on a mission. He sends them to all peoples to evangelize and baptize", said the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the beginning of his homily. After reiterating that "the Church was born to evangelize and this mission is open to all baptized, no one excluded," he recalled the beginning of evangelization of Equatorial Guinea, paying the first missionaries "a tribute of gratitude and esteem for the great work of evangelization carried out".<br />He then highlighted the essential interweaving between mission and testimony: "Mission is carried out through testimony ... Each according to his or her own identity, Christian or religious, is called to bear witness to the Risen Christ. We are all called to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth to illuminate the darkness of our world: for example think of the immorality of every day, drug use, theft as a system of life, sorcery, violence within family and in society, to those who sow discord and confusion in faith".<br />To lay persons, the Cardinal recalled that "the Church accomplishes its mission in particular through its lay members, who make it present and active in the life of the world", and told them: "You lay people have a great role to play in society. I urge you whole heartedly to assume your responsibilities in the political, economic and social fields. Be careful of sects".<br />In the concluding part of the homily, Cardinal Filoni urged those present: "As members of this Church, you are invited to contribute to its growth. I urge you to witness the Gospel with courage, bringing hope to the poor, the suffering, the abandoned, the desperate, those who have thirst for love, freedom, truth and peace". Finally, he encouraged: "Do not be afraid of the demands of the mission, reject fears and uncertainties, for the Lord Jesus himself has made us a solemn promise: 'And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age' ".<br />In the afternoon the Cardinal met the clergy, religious men and women of the Diocese of Bata before returning to Malabo and then leave from here for Rome. "I express my gratitude and appreciation for your active presence and your generous commitment to the evangelizing work, the diocesan pastoral care, and in particular in catechesis, in the world of education and health. Your diverse and multi-faceted pastoral activities are a precious and necessary aid to the missionary activity of the Church", said the Prefect. He then went back to emphasize "the fundamental need for the witness that the Church is called to give to the world. And if the testimony of the Church is required from all its members, it is required in particular from priests and consecrated persons, by virtue of the special union with Christ ... To be, today and in this country, true witnesses to the vivifying presence of his Love, it is imperative for priests and consecrated persons, to return to the source, namely to Christ, in order to do well in the future".<br />After reiterating that priests and consecrated persons are called to "bring the joy of the Gospel to the poor", the Cardinal continued: "Evangelical poverty makes us overcome all selfishness and teaches us to trust in the Providence of God. True poverty teaches us to be in solidarity with our people, to know how to share with charity. It also expresses itself in a sobriety of life, and warns us of material idols that obscure the authentic meaning of life".<br />Among the reasons of concern, the Cardinal Prefect mentioned, in particular, "the exodus of priests to European countries, who after their studies no longer return to serve their Diocese. The refusal of priests and religious to reach some places where they are sent because they are distant or poorer places, is equally disturbing", and warned: "the search for the well-being of ourselves is a danger we must look at. It is a counter-testimony for priests and consecrated persons to get involved in business, looking for some materialistic interests".<br />Cardinal Filoni concluded his speech with an exhortation to the clergy and to the religious: "Make the announcement of the Gospel joyful with all your person in poverty, chastity and obedience. Evils that afflict our societies and appease the face of the Church cannot be defeated except through the rediscovery and the experience of the evangelical values of poverty, chastity and obedience. And you, you are called to be the models". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The full text of Cardinal Filoni's homily (in Spanish) The full text of Cardinal Filoni's speech (in Spanish)</a>Fri, 26 May 2017 10:10:02 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Kiir declares ceasefire and starts a national dialogue but his main opponent is excluded - "Riek Machar is our leader and commander in chief, we will not send any delegates to Juba without his order", said Paul Gabriel, spokesman of the Sudan's People's Liberation Movement Opposition , in response to the announcement made on May 22 by the President of South Sudan, Salve Kiir, of the establishment of the ceasefire and the launch of a dialogue with all the rebel forces, but on condition that the SPLM-IO does not send Machar to negotiate. Machar is former Vice President of South Sudan and Kiir's main opponent. According to SPLM-IO spokesperson, national dialogue is only a pretext for alleviating international pressure on Juba, while "government forces, in fact, continue to spate territorial resources and kill civilians".<br />President Kiir's chief ally, Ugandan Head of State, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, urged him not to waste the votes obtained in 2011, recalling that most of his voters belong to the South Sudanese society and not to a single tribe. The civil war broke out in December 2013, which immediately took on an ethnic and tribal dimension, as denounced by Bishops . <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 12:56:28 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Cardinal Urosa invokes the appeal of Blessed Romero: "Please, I beg you, I order you to stop the repression!" - "The Day of Prayer for Peace in Venezuela was held in all the dioceses of the country on May 21, to ask the Lord for the solution regarding the political and economic problem, to put a stop to violence, to end the repression of the people in demonstrations, respect for human rights, in particular towards political prisoners, the validity of democratic values, reconciliation and peace". This is what Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, said during his homily.<br />According to the text sent to Fides, the Cardinal reiterated the invitation to peace: "This is the only way, the Christian way for peace. Observance of the commandments: to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. Based on the current and conflicting situation, characterized by a serious social, economic and political crisis, there is the lack of fulfillment of the commandments: the search for profit, the craving of power, arrogance, selfishness, corruption, crime, finally, a whole series of problems I do not want to repeat in this homily".<br />The Archbishop of Caracas continued: "The members of the Armed Forces and of the Police must be proponents and guarantors of respect for the Constitution and, by vocation, must first and foremost guarantee peace and the healthy coexistence of the Venezuelan people to whom they belong. We appeal to the conscience of those who command these forces, in front of the many deaths of citizens caused by abuse of authority in repressive actions. Moral responsibility for acts that lead to violence, wounded and dead is of those who carry them out, as well as of those who ordered or allowed them. In our country, the pronouncement of the martyr of America, Blessed Oscar Romero, is topicality: in the name of God and of this people who suffer, please, I beg you, I order you to stop the repression".<br />Unfortunately, the number of victims of the anti-Maduro protests, underway since April, has risen to 60. <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 12:43:53 +0200VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni urges the diocese of Ebebiyin: "never get tired of giving testimony of our faith" - Today, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, carried out a pastoral visit to the diocese of Ebebiyin, where in the morning he presided the solemn Mass in the Cathedral for the taking of possession of the new Bishop, His Exc. Mgr. Miguel Angel Nguema, Salesian, and in the afternoon he met the clergy, and the religious men and women.<br />"The new Bishop Mgr. Miguel begins his ministry in the Diocese, which has existed for 35 years, said the Cardinal in his homily, but with the creation of the new diocese in Mongomo, it will have a territory and the smallest presbytery. The new Pastor will be able to be more present among you and have more time for your needs. But this also involves the need for greater collaboration on your part".<br />Commenting on the liturgy of the Word, which proposed one of the great Christological hymns of St. Paul, on the role of Jesus in the project of the love of the Father and on the predestination of believers, Cardinal Filoni pointed out: "From the beginning of the time God Father thought of you, to make you holy, to give you his children. Each of you is called to this path of holiness, that is, to maintain a strong and unconditional love relationship with the Lord. Each of you is called to be part of the true family of Jesus, made up of those who do the will of God the Father".<br />"For God, it is not important if our actions will have great results, large or small", continued the Cardinal. It is important to have courage, never get tired of witnessing our faith, and allow the Grace to act in human hearts. We are often tempted by this need to see the results of our works to the point that someone asks if it is worth doing something when we are not sure of getting a good result. Saint Paul was not discouraged, because having met Christ he had put all his trust in Him. It is true, often results are not seen immediately, therefore time has to be given for their growth. Saint Paul teaches us, however, to go forward with generosity in the work of evangelization, in proclaiming the Word of God, in helping the poor and needy, and - as Pope Francis reminds us - in the courage to go forth to the most difficult places and of marginalization. <br />This is my wish to Bishop Miguel and to this young Diocese of Ebebiyin".<br />The Prefect also stressed: "The strength of the Apostles, the strength of the Church, the strength of Catholicism in Guinea and the Diocese of Ebebiyin is the force that comes from heaven. This strength is more powerful than our possibilities. Therefore have the courage to be led by the power of the gifts of the Spirit!"<br />On the day when the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, Mary, help of Christians, "to whom Jesus on the Cross entrusts St. John, and in him we all have been entrusted to her", he urged: "In our actions, we can always invoke her maternal help, especially in moments of discouragement and fear when we feel weaker in the face of the challenges that seem to be greater than our possibilities".<br />Cardinal Filoni concluded the homily with these words: "By entrusting Mary the Church in Ebebiyin and the beginning of the episcopal ministry of your Bishop, I renew my wish for all of you to be witnesses of Christ, bringing in you the power of Spirit, the boldness to act generously in the mission of good that is entrusted to you". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The full text of Cardinal Filoni's homily (in Spanish)</a>Wed, 24 May 2017 12:21:51 +0200AMERICA/PERU - Infant deaths for pneumonia are due to poverty and precariousness - The main cause of death among children for pneumonia is determined by the level of poverty that the population lives in addition to the poor diet of children. The alarm was launched by the director of the Department of Epidemiology of the Regional Directorate for Health of Puno who, in a note sent to Fides, stated that so far 9 children under 5 years of age have died of pneumonia. Death surveys have shown that the affected villages lack adequate infrastructure, poor hygiene, poor nutrition and low income. In addition, it was found that deaths are more common in commercial and agricultural areas of the plateau. <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 11:30:02 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Martial law on Mindanao island: a priest and 15 faithful kidnapped, the cathedral of Marawi destroyed City - "Members of the Islamic State-linked “Maute” militant group, "attacked the Catholic cathedral of Marawi city and kidnapped about 15 faithful, including a priest, nuns, and some lay persons who were praying in church": confirms Bishop Edwin De la Pena to Agenzia Fides, who is at the head of the territorial prelature of Marawi city, town on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. Yesterday, about one hundred militants of the “Maute” group occupied the city and, in response to that act of force, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte put the island of Mindanao under martial law.<br />The Bishop tells Fides: "Today is the feast of our Prelature, the feast of 'Mary, help of Christians'. The faithful were in church to pray on the last day of the novena. The terrorists broke into the church, took the hostages and led them to an unknown location. They entered the bishop's residence and kidnapped the vicar general, Fr. Soganub Dewatering. Then they set fire to the cathedral and the bishop's residence. Everything is destroyed. We are dismayed".<br />The bishop saved himself because he was on a pastoral visit to the parish of a village outside Marawi. "The terrorists have occupied the city. People are terrified and locked in the house. We are waiting for the army's reaction. The important thing is to regain the city with the least possible bloodshed. Hostages have not been mentioned. We have activated our channels, the Church and Islamic leaders and we hope to be able to negotiate soon so they are released safe and sound", he said, observing that in recent months the church had received threats.<br />"This happened just before the feast of Mary: we ask her for help. To her who is the help of Christians, we ask for the salvation of our faithful. Only she can come to our rescue. We also appeal to Pope Francis to pray for us and to ask the terrorists to release the hostages in the name of our common humanity. Violence and hatred lead only to destruction: we ask the faithful all over the world to pray together with us for peace".<br />Meanwhile, in reaction to the attack, President Duterte interrupted his visit in Moscow to return to the Philippines and face the crisis. The group have set fire to a prison and two schools, while the army now surrounds the city. The mayor of Marawi has asked the military not to bomb the city where about 200,000 civilians, mostly Muslims live. <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 11:21:54 +0200AFRICA/SUDAN - Cholera emergency in the capital of northern Kordofan Obeid - Cholera cases were reported for the first time in El Obeid, capital of the state of northern Kordofan. So far 68 people have been hospitalized. According to local medical sources, the first infections date back two days ago in Karima and El Wehda districts. The disease has spread in epidemic proportions in the state of White Nile. In Kosti, seven people died only a few days ago; Eye Hospital has been transformed into an isolation center for the reception of a growing number of cases: so far 183 patients have been hospitalized.<br />In the village of Asalaya, a school has been turned into an isolation center for 126 infected people. The State of White Nile is unable to provide drinking water and, so far, more than 20 people have died for "acute watery diarrhea" as well as thousands of people who have been infected. Since the beginning of May, cases continue to increase in nearby Sennar. Hundreds of cases of "acute watery diarrhea" were recorded earlier in the year in East Sudan and Khartoum . <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 09:43:54 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Kottar and appointment of successor City - On May 20, 2017, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kottar, India, presented by His Exc. Msgr. Peter Remigius. The Pope appointed as Bshop of the diocese of Kottar, India, the Rev. Nazarene Soosai, Pastor of the Our Lady of Ransom parish of Kanyakumari in Kottar.<br />Rev. Nazarene Soosai was born in Rajakkalamngalamthurai in the diocese of Kottar on 13 April 1963. He studied at the St. Aloysius’ Minor Seminary of Nagercoil, concluding his philosophical and theological studies at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Poonamallee, Chennai. He obtained a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and a doctorate from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He also holds a master’s degree in political sciences from the University of Madurai.<br />On 2 April 1989 he received priestly ordination for the diocese of Kottar. <br />He has performed his priestly ministry in the following offices: 1989-1990: deputy priest of the Our Lady of Presentation church in Colachel; 1990-1992: prefect of studies at the Tamil Nadu Xavier Mission Home in Nagercoil, and at the same time secretary of the diocesan Commission for vocations; 1992-1998: pastor of the St. Helen’s parish in Enayam, and ecclesiastical assistant of the Christian Life Community and secretary of the Diocesan Priests Personal Board; 1998-2000: student, specializing in theology, in Leuven, Belgium; 2000-2003: student, obtaining a doctorate in Rome; 2003-2011: dean and professor of theology at the Sacred Heart seminary in Poonamallee, Chennai; since March 2012: pastor at the Shrine of Our Lady of Ransom in Kanyakumari and vicar forane of the vicariate of Kanyakumari, and at the same time “visiting professor” at the Sacred Heart seminary in Poonamallee, Chennai, and at various other universities and institutes .<br />The Diocese of Kottar , suffragan of the Archdiocese of Madurai, has an area of 750 sq km and a population of 885,000 inhabitants, of whom 264,000 are Catholics. There are 81 parishes, 236 priests , 13 religious Brothers, 470 nuns, and 98 seminarians. <br />Wed, 24 May 2017 09:36:16 +0200ASIA/INDIA - The Catholic community committed to fighting the spread of tuberculosis - The Catholic Medical Association of India is leading a campaign to tackle cases of tuberculosis, in collaboration with government agencies and other civil society organizations: this is what Redemptorist Fr. Dr. Mathew Abraham, CHAI Director General. Every hour more than 50 people die of tuberculosis in India. The disease kills more than 1,200 people every day.<br />The Catholic Medical Association of India is formed by doctors and healthcare professionals working in Catholic hospitals, health centers and institutes in various Catholic dioceses throughout the country. It is part of a wider network linked to the Indian Bishops' Conference of India, which includes 500 hospitals, over 2,000 primary care facilities and more than 200 organizations involved in social services.<br />Over the last four years, the Association has focused on strengthening the national tuberculosis control program through advocacy, communication and social mobilization, explains Fr. Abraham. CHAI is partner of the coalition between the International Union against Tuberculosis and Pulmonary Diseases , the Ministry of Health and Family, the Government of India . The program works to improve the scope, visibility and effectiveness of the fight against tuberculosis. The control program, promoted by the Indian government, provides free TB diagnosis to more than 1.5 million patients every year.<br />The CHAI project activities provide district-level assistance covering 96 districts in 10 states of India . This is largely done through the creation of networks established with 380 NGOs who monitor and lead awareness raising campaigns in small communities, many of which are composed of poor and tribal people.<br />According to a study on the health situation in India published by the scientific journal "Lancet" in May 2017, despite the socio-economic development of the country, India has failed to achieve the expected health targets and the general situation has deteriorated over the past 25 years .<br />Although India's score in the Health Index has risen from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015, performance in the fight against tuberculosis, diabetes, and rheumatic heart disease and chronic kidney disease has worsened.<br />India has the largest number of cases of tuberculosis in the world. According to the World Health Organization, in 2015, India reached 2.8 million cases compared to 2.2 million in 2011. While tuberculosis killed 220,000 people in 2014, the rate increased to 480,000 in 2015, which means that almost 1,300 people can die from illness in just one day.<br />Meanwhile, the coalition dedicated to combating AIDS and related diseases, especially in rural areas, is also creating greater awareness of tuberculosis. <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 08:06:46 +0200AMERICA/PERU - Hundreds of thousands of casualties caused by El Niño costero - The general toll of the latest floods and landslides in Peru has resulted in 145 deaths, 18 missing, 438 injured, over 235,000 casualties and more than a million people affected. The figures date back to the recent report released by the Center for National Emergency Operations , which was sent to Fides. The climatic impact has also caused the destruction of more than 25,000 homes, another 23,000 are inaccessible and 260,000 buildings have been damaged. Floods also destroyed 79 schools and 25 health centers, hit the structures of 2,600 schools and 840 health facilities.<br />Due to natural events, 4,000 kilometers of roads and 420 bridges have been destroyed, although most have been rebuilt or repaired, some 30,000 hectares of crops have been lost. The largest number of casualties were found in the coastal area north of the country, where in the regions of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad and Áncash 66 deaths, 8 missing, 218 injured, about 200,000 casualties were recorded and nearly 730,000 damaged.<br />The most affected region is Piura, on the border with Ecuador, where more than 80,000 casualties, 360,000 people affected, 5,700 destroyed homes, and another 5,800 remained inaccessible. Floods have been sparked by the atypical phenomenon of "El Niño costero", which occurs when the water warming off the Peruvian coast generates intense and unusual rainfall in the country's desert, turning into floods and landslides, known in Peru as Quechua huaicos.<br />In recent weeks the rains have become sporadic and river levels have fallen, now the authorities' concern is to deal with the frosts that will be registered in the Peruvian Andes with low nocturnal temperatures close to -20 degrees Celsius. <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 14:03:37 +0200ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - A Bishop represents Korea to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See - Korea and the Holy See celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2017: in particular, the commemoration of the sending of the first permanent Apostolic Delegate of the Holy See in Korea. As Fides learns, for the occasion, Korean President Moon Jae-in has asked Archbishop Igino Kim Hee-Jung, who is president of the Bishops' Conference of Korea, to represent the whole Korean nation and to meet the Holy Father to celebrate this anniversary.<br />Shortly after the elections, President Moon appointed some Korean "special envoys" who will go to the United States, China, Japan, Russia, the European Union, Germany and the Holy See to celebrate special events. Archbishop Kim Hee-Jung will be accompanied by Seong Youm, former Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See, in the special mission in the Vatican planned for the coming months.<br />The diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Korea began in 1947 when Pope Pius XII sent the first "apostolic delegate", Father Patrick James Byrne to Korea, shortly after the liberation of Korea from Japanese dominion. By sending a "Permanent Delegate", the Holy See was one of the first countries to recognize Korea as an independent nation after the liberation from the Japanese colonization. Patrick James Byrne, American missionary of the Maryknoll's fathers, was consecrated Bishop in 1949, but when the Korean War broke out in 1950, he was kidnapped and died in prison. He is now part of the group of 213 Korean priests and laity whose beatification process has begun.<br />In those years, the South Korean government sent a delegation to the Paris conference in 1948 to be recognized as the Government of the Korean peninsula. At that time the Holy See and the Apostolic Nuncio in Paris greatly helped the Korean delegation to obtain recognition from many delegations of Catholic countries. <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 13:46:26 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - South African Bishops denounce: "1 in 5 children have been sexually abused" - "Each crime against a woman and child causes the delicate fabric of our society to unravel that much more" denounces His Exc. Mgr. Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of SACBC in a message which denounces violence against women and children. "While some perpetrators are arrested and prosecuted through the criminal justice system, survivors face secondary victimization as the matter progresses through the courts. The social and human cost is immense", explains Archbishop Brieslin.<br />The President of SACBC reports data from a recent study which states that 1 in 5 children have been sexually abused, while 75% of boys experienced bullying at school.<br />Mgr. Brislin stresses that "the recent unfolding agony of violence against women and children has resulted in a nation numbed with shock". The brutality of this and the knowledge that so many of these crimes have been perpetrated by individuals known to the victims. "A fact that raises questions that demand answers" the Archbishop comments. Domestic violence, in schools and society are aggravated by "widespread abuse of alcohol and drugs"; young people, who often gather in gangs are those who pay a high price. "Participation in gangs is commonplace and may result in collective violence and gang rape".<br />The solution cannot only be police repression and prison, the Archbishop says. "We have to go back to the beginning and look at the way we socialize our children if we wish to curb this violence. Instead of only investing huge sums of money in the criminal justice system and correctional facilities more allowance should be made for parenting programmes and support. We need interventions to combat the normalization of violence at home, at school, at church and in our communities", concludes Mgr. Brislin. <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 13:15:31 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - 81 children have died of malnutrition since the beginning of the year Guajira - The National Institute of Health has recently announced the death toll for malnutrition since the beginning of the year. We are talking about 81 children under 5 years of age. In addition, two more deaths were reported in the last week. The report notes that in the departments of La Guajira, Chocó, Córdoba, Meta and Nariño 73,3% of deaths were registered: 53.3% females and 66.6% males. Statistics based on ethnic background report 4 cases of indigenous children, 3 Afro-Colombian and 8 of other groups. <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 11:21:27 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Bishops thank the government for helping Haitians who live in the United States - The President of the Commission for Migrations of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops , Mgr. Joe Steve Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, expressed his appreciation to the Secretary of the Department for National Security, John Kelly, for his decision to extend the temporary protection for a further six months to over 58,000 Haitians who live and work in the United States. However, he urged to continue the commitment and humanitarian assistance to improve living conditions in Haiti. This group of Haitians had arrived in the United States after the 2010 earthquake and had a temporary permit stay which expires this month.<br />"We encourage our government to work with the Haitian government to provide aid and assistance for reconstruction", concludes the statement sent to Fides. Through Church service networks, we will continue to help Haitian families in the United States to help the process of reconstruction in Haiti and look for opportunities to collaborate with the Church of Haiti and with the Haitian and US governments". <br />Tue, 23 May 2017 11:09:29 +0200