Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/TURKEY - Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople blesses the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey - The process of relaxation and normalization of relations, underway between Turkey and Armenia, is supported with decision and hope by authoritative representatives of the Armenian community on Turkish soil, starting from the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Constantinople, Sahag Mashalyan. The Head of the Armenian community in Turkey defined the measures "that strengthen relations between neighboring countries, both in terms of investments and cultural exchanges" as "precious". For Turkish citizens who belong to the Armenian Church - added the Patriarch in the statements relaunched by the national press - "it is also extremely important that relations improve day by day so that the two communities get to know each other, work together, make investments and in this sense rich cultural values meet on common ground". <br />The relations between Turkey and Armenia, tormented by the lack of a shared memory regarding the atrocious events of the Armenian Genocide, have registered a turning point after the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which in 2020 returned to inflame the Caucasus in a new, bloody phase of the historic dispute over Nagorno Karabakh, a region with an Armenian majority now included in the borders of Azerbaijan. The signing of the ceasefire, which took place on November 9, 2020 with the mediation of Russia, saw the clear affirmation of the Baku army, and ended six weeks of fierce fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian troops sent from Yerevan. It provided for the withdrawal of the Armenian military forces from Azerbaijani territory, the return of the displaced to their respective areas of residence and the deployment of Russian troops as "peacekeepers" in Nagorno Karabakh for the next 5 years. <br />In Armenia, the end of the conflict, perceived as a defeat, triggered a heavy political crisis: the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey was triggered on the developments of that uncertain phase, also favored by the pressure exerted by Russia to Vladimir Putin, who continues to act as an energetic "mediator" between Yerevan and Ankara. Diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia have been frozen since 1993, the year in which the Turks closed the border with the former Soviet republic precisely because of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict around Nagorno Karabach, a conflict that has always seen the Turkish government firmly alongside Azerbaijan. Now, the first Turkish-Armenian bilateral meeting to bring about the relaxation of relations took place on January 14 in Moscow, in a climate defined as "constructive" by official Armenian sources. In the Russian capital, the President of the Armenian Parliament, Ruben Rubinyan, met Turkish ambassador Serdar Kilic, exchanging "preliminary opinions on the process of normalizing the dialogue between Armenia and Turkey". The parties agreed to continue the negotiations without preconditions. After the meeting in Moscow, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, also reiterated that the goal of the negotiations started is the "full normalization", adding that "even the Armenians are very happy with this". Turkey is also interested in the reopening of international flights between the two countries, scheduled for early February. <br />In addition to the statements of Patriarch Mashalyan, the Turkish daily Hürriyet also released the statements of Armenian entrepreneur Dikran Gülmezgil, President of the School Council of the Karagözyan Foundation, according to whom from now on Turkey "should act as the elder brother of Armenia", while Yetvart Dantzikian, director of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, declared that he considered the reopening of the borders between the two countries with optimism. <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 13:40:30 +0100VATICAN - Pope Francis will confer the ministries of catechist, lector upon lay men and women from different continents City – The Sunday of the Word of God January 23 is observed annually on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, ever since Pope Francis established this celebration on 30 September 2019. Pope Francis will preside over the celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9.30 am. As highlighted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, on the occasion the Holy Father will present to those present a volume containing a comment by the Fathers of the Church on chapters 4 and 5 of the Gospel of Luke. <br />During the liturgy, the ministry of Lector and Acolyte will also be conferred on lay women and men for the first time will be conferred upon both lay men and women, as Pope Francis established by publishing the Motu Proprio Spiritus Domini on January 10, 2021. The Holy Father will also confer the ministry of Catechist to some lay faithful, women and men, established through the publication of the Apostolic Letter Antiquum Ministerium, dated May 10, 2021. "There is a multitude of lay people who have directly taken part in the spreading of the Gospel through catechetical teaching - underlines the note -. Men and women animated by a great faith and authentic witnesses of holiness who, in some cases, were also founders of Churches, even going so far as to give their lives. Even today, many capable and tenacious catechists are at the head of communities in different regions and carry out an irreplaceable mission in the spreading and deepening of the faith". <br />Each of these two ministries is conferred through a rite. Before the homily, the candidates will be summoned, called by name and presented to the Church Before the homily, candidates. After the homily, those called to the ministry of lector will be presented with a Bible, while catechists will be entrusted with a cross, a reproduction of the pastoral cross used first by Saint Paul VI, then by Saint John Paul II, to recall the missionary character of the service they are preparing to administer. <br />Two people from the Amazonian region in Peru will be formally made catechists by the Pope, along with other candidates from Brazil, Ghana, Poland and Spain.<br />The ministry of lector will be conferred on lay Catholics from South Korea, Pakistan, Ghana and Italy.<br />Due to travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the omicron variant of COVID-19, candidates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda will not be able to take part in the Mass, as originally planned. <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 13:33:18 +0100AFRICA - Antibiotic resistance, a hidden scourge worldwide, particularly affects sub-Saharan Africa - More and more infections, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, bloodstream infections and gonorrhea, have become more difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat due to antimicrobial resistance . In recent years, therefore, a wide range of antibiotics have proved ineffective in treating patients. According to data from a recent study published by Lancet journal, one and a half million deaths per year are directly attributable to AMR, which is therefore a leading cause of death globally, exceeding some diseases such as HIV/Aids or malaria. <br />When looking at sub-Saharan Africa, the paper shows that the region faces the highest burden of AMR, with 255,000 deaths attributable to drug-resistance in 2019, and a particularly high number from vaccine preventable pneumococcal bacterial disease. Shockingly, around half of total deaths were in children under the age of five. <br />Across the region, there are several drivers of AMR – with misuse and overuse of antibiotics for both patients, animals and food production playing a central role. In many communities across Africa, first-line antibiotics can easily be purchased without a prescription from both legal and illegal outlets. Furthermore, heath systems lack the right tools to improve diagnostics as well as access to effective and quality-assured second-line antibiotics, meaning that doctors and nurses are left powerless to treat common infections. <br />Firstly, the continent needs better stewardship to encourage more thoughtful use of antimicrobial treatments – expanding access to lifesaving antibiotics where needed and minimising use where they are not necessary. We also must take greater action to monitor and control infection nationally and within individual hospitals, as well as continue to invest in strengthening our healthcare infrastructure so that we can stop and treat infections before they threaten patients lives <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 13:12:52 +0100AMERICA/EL SALVADOR - CLAR on the new martyrs: "The commitment and defense of the poorest were their death sentence" Salvador - "The religious life of the Continent, all the sisters and brothers scattered throughout the Kingdom, join in the ecclesial recognition of the martyrial witness of four of our brothers, who gave their lives for the humblest people, in a turbulent era in El Salvador. The commitment and defense of the poorest were their death sentence. Rutilo, Cosme, Manuel and Nelson lived through the tense and violent years before the civil war that affected the country for 12 years and left more than 80,000 dead. "The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious expresses with these words its joy for the beatication of Father Rutilio Grande, Jesuit, of Italian Franciscan Fray Cosme Spessotto, OFM, and of the laity Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus Chávez, an event "expected since February 2020", which is celebrated today, at 5 pm, in San Salvador . <br />The martyrdom of Fr. Rutile and fray Cosme "bequeaths us the obligation to verify and denounce the pain of the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the scourge of misery and injustice. It obliges us to listen to the cry of the destruction of the common home and of the culture of a gap that mainly affects women, migrants and refugees, the elderly, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants". <br />Furthermore, the statement sent to Fides continues, it also teaches us to face the consequences of the pandemic, "which increases social inequality, compromising the food security of a large part of our population", invites us to fight the causes that hinder synodality and to confront with our lack of prophecy and effective solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable. Their martyrdom is also a sign of auspice and hope for religious Life, so that it may be a sign of the Kingdom of God, and "give witness to the good news of the Gospel". <br />"The inculturation of the Gospel is characterized by a decisive defense of human rights", CLAR underlines, highlighting that lay martyrs like Manuel and Nelson and many others, "show us the path of a lifetime committed to the preferential option for the poor and to the defense of human dignity". "Today the Church gives the word martyr four concrete faces which, together with the numerous men and women religious of various Congregations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and also lay people committed to life and the Gospel, shed their blood for the Kingdom of God and justice". <br />CLAR further stresses that "this martyrial religious life of Latin America is inscribed within the very numerous martyrology of Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes Bishops such as Romero and Angelelli, priests, catechists, pastoral workers, peasant leaders, indigenous people, women, children, the elderly, young people, entire massacred populations".<br />"Martyrdom - the text still recalls - is part of the current history of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean". The example of these brothers and many other martyrs, challenges all religious life and the whole Church: are we worthy companions and successors of these martyrs? Do we continue to live their radical choices, their martyrial witness? "Let us learn from them - concludes CLAR -. Like Jesus and for the same reasons as Jesus". <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 13:04:22 +0100AFRICA/MALAWI - Local bishops against the cancer of corruption that is rampant in the Country -"Call for a relentless fight against corruption", is the title of the statement issued by the Episcopal Conference of the country on January 19, 2022, on the spread of the phenomenon. Corruption is a difficult vice to fight as it has taken deep root all over Malawi - the bishops say. It causes untold suffering to the vast majority of ordinary Malawians who face crushing poverty on a daily basis". <br />"Unfortunately, even those tasked with fighting and eliminating corruption are too often sucked into it", reads the statement, signed among others by the Archbishop of Blantyre, Msgr. Thomas Msusa, President of ECM. "No one should be pressured, intimidated or influenced by threats or other means in carrying out their work for the good of the country". Institutions and individuals have often betrayed public trust and acted to eradicate and combat systemic corruption. <br />"Judicial authorities have a key role to play in this fight – say the Bishops, who call on the judiciary to be professional in handling corruption cases in order to avoid loss of public trust. We call on civil, criminal, constitutional and administrative authorities to ensure that cases of corruption are tried quickly and that everyone is treated equally before the law". <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 11:31:14 +0100AMERICA/PERU - Archbishop Cabrejos: "There is an urgent need to repair the enormous environmental damage caused" - "There is great concern and consternation among citizens for the disaster in the sea of Ventanilla, caused by the spill of 6,000 barrels of oil, the consequences of which have not yet been fully calculated, and affect two protected areas, the ecosystem of the place, the lives of hundreds of fishermen, the inhabitants of the region, but also the birds and the Plankton" complains Msgr. Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, Archbishop of Trujillo, President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference and President of the Latin American Episcopal Council . <br />In his statement, sent to Fides, the Archbishop recalls that "God entrusted to man the task of 'cultivating' and 'taking care' of the land he made with fatherly love. Our rich biodiversity is a gift". He then urges: "We must act quickly" and the protagonists involved "must assume their responsibilities and urgently remedy the enormous environmental damage generated". <br />The Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called this disaster "the worst ecological disaster in recent times". According to official sources, the spill, which occurred on January 15, has so far affected an area of 1,739,950.9 m2 in the coastal strip, which includes 17 beaches, from the Spanish Repsol refinery in La Pampilla , where the spill occurred to Peralvillo beach . <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 11:23:17 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - President of the Bishops' Conference: "Vote according to your conscience, not according to the strongest candidate" - Filipino citizens "should vote according to their conscience in the general elections in May"; citizens have a "tendency to support the probable winner, the candidate considered stronger, rather than voting according to their conscience: this tendency is extremely worrying". This is extremely disturbing", said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop of Kalookan and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines , speaking a few days ago during the virtual forum organized by the "Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals". As Fides has learned, the Bishop said: "If we just look at the polls, it should already be clear who will emerge victorious in the next presidential and vice-presidential elections", said Msgr. David. According to a recent poll carried out in December by the "Pulse Asia" institute, Ferdinand Marcos Jr - son of the dictator - receives 53% of the preferences of those questioned, followed by the current vice-president Leni Robredo, with 20% of the vote. While Filipinos tend to vote for candidates "based on the likely winner, we have failed in terms of forming a moral conscience among Catholics", the Prelate said. <br />Noting the proliferation of misinformation and false propaganda, especially through social media, "there is an urgent need for Filipino citizens to stand up for truth, honesty and transparency". "One of the crucial moral issues in the upcoming elections in May 2022, he continued, will relate to the moral imperative of respecting the truth. The moral obligation of every Christian is to defend the truth. It has become particularly difficult in this age of misinformation", the Bishops' Conference president said. Social media, he explained, has been used to spread lies "and news without verification", unlike mainstream media, which employs professional journalists to verify information and validate reported facts. It is notorious, he recalled, the use of trolls and fake accounts on social media, used in favor of a candidate against his political opponents. "Slander spreads falsehoods about a candidate. This includes the use of social media trolls. Their job is to spread lies until they are accepted as truths", he said, explaining the perverse mechanisms of propaganda. Msgr. David then took up another cultural challenge, that of fatalism: "As we prepare to choose a new group of leaders for our country, the greatest challenge is to free our people from fatalism, from resignation to a politics of patronage. How do we convince the Filipinos that they are not powerless, that we can make things better if they want? We must avoid the resignation that makes us a paralyzed nation. We must free ourselves from the tendency to belittle ourselves and to think that we are subject to a fate already sealed", Msgr. David said. <br />The Electoral Commission is in the process of publishing the final list of official candidates, including candidates for President, Vice President, 12 Senators and 308 House representatives. It is also planned to vote for 81 governors and vice-governors, 780 seats in provincial councils, 1,634 mayors and deputy mayors of municipalities, and 13,546 seats in local councils. According to the 1987 Philippine Constitution, general elections are held every six years on the second Monday of May. <br />Sat, 22 Jan 2022 11:17:55 +0100AMERICA/SAN SALVADOR - Beatification of the four martyrs, the diocesan Postulator: "Our vocation is to follow the Lord" Salvador - "Father Rutilio Grande, on March 12, 1977, went to San José to preside over a Eucharistic celebration during the novena in preparation for the patronal feast of St. Joseph. On the way back to Aguilares, he was accompanied in a car by a catechist, Manuel Solórzano, by the young Nelson Rutilio Lemus and by three children. Halfway there, their car was machine-gunned by some armed men and Rutilio, Manuel and Nelson died instantly. The children were saved. St. Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was deeply shaken by the assassination and personally presided over the funeral Mass in the Cathedral Church of San Salvador. Father Rutilio was 49 years old". Thus reports to Agenzia Fides, Archbishop Rafael Urrutia, Chancellor of San Salvador, recalling that today, Saturday, January 22, Father Rutilio Grande, Jesuit, Manuel Solórzano and Nelson Rutilio Lemus Chávez, lay people, and the Italian Franciscan Fray Cosme Spessotto are proclaimed blessed. <br />Msgr. Rafael Urrutia is also the diocesan postulator for the causes of Msgr. Romero and Father Rutilio Grande. "Rutilio - says Msgr. Rafael - was committed to developing creative methods of evangelization, beginning to meet periodically with the members of his parish to interpret social and political reality in the light of the Gospel. By creating basic church units that taught Bible reading, he continued, he began to educate and train community leaders, proclaiming the legitimacy and right of the poor to organize themselves in associations and trade unions". <br />In the name of the Gospel, Father Grande denounced a reality that went against the will of God for his people, which was not poverty, but a project of fraternity and justice: "I want long tables for everyone, Father Rutilio often repeated, "with chairs for everyone and Jesus seated in the middle. <br />A Church as a space of consolation for the poorest". <br />The Episcopal Conference of El Salvador has in recent weeks published aids to prepare spiritually for beatification, urging all the baptized to be "martyrs", that is, "witnesses" to Jesus Christ in the different situations of life and of the builders of the Kingdom of God, as were the blessed martyrs. "Remembering the martyrs – Msgr. Urrutia concluded - does not mean cultivating hatred and revenge towards their assassins, but that our vocation is to follow the crucified Lord and work for the reconciliation of the peoples". <br />The Mass with the rite of Beatification will take place at 5 p.m. in the Square of the Divine Savior of the World, in front of the Cathedral of San Salvador, and will be presided over by Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Watch the interview on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel</a>Sat, 22 Jan 2022 11:06:34 +0100AFRICA/ALGERIA - Christians in Algeria rediscover the relevance of the Fathers of the Church - "He who does not know where he comes from cannot know where he is going". This is the conviction of the Catholics of the Diocese of Constantina in Algeria, who embark on a "journey in stages" in search of the richness and importance of historical events and figures that marked the history of the Christian communities of the first centuries in Algeria and have shaped in other countries of the Maghreb. Divided into four “stages”, the initiative started in September 2021 and will continue in the coming months. Sister Rosalie Sanon of the Sisters of the Annunciation provides information on the excursions already carried out and the future routes on the diocesan website. Developed by the region's Catholic community with the participation of Bishop Nicolas Lhernould, the programs allow participants to journey through seven centuries of history, discovering saints, church fathers, ancient texts and visiting archaeological sites. <br />Led by Bishop Nicholas, the participants explored the historical events related to the kingdoms of Numidia and the Roman Empire, the passions of the first martyrs, the controversy surrounding the baptized who had denied the faith in times of persecution, then asked to being readmitted into the community. A journey into the past in which participants will immerse themselves in the richness of cultures and peoples . The excursions to the archaeological sites of Tiddis and Timgad - reports Sister Rosalie in her contribution - focused on the themes of prayer of the early Christians, the celebration of the sacraments in the first centuries and the transmission of the faith in the political and cultural context of the Roman Empire. The names of Cyprian, Augustine, his parents Patricius and Monica, Fulgentius and other great eastern witnesses of the first Christian centuries, such as Justin and Ignatius of Antioch, were mentioned again and again. The next two stages of the program launched by the Diocese of Constantina will take place in spring: In the footsteps of Saint Augustine, the participants in the initiative will visit Souk-Ahras, Madaure, Hippo and Guelma. In the Tebessa region, they then delve into the vicissitudes of the local Christian communities during the Vandal and Byzantine periods. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:39:16 +0100AMERICA/PERU - Apostolic vicariates of the Amazon region establish a joint seminary - The Bishops of the Apostolic Vicariates of the Peruvian Amazon have decided to set up a joint seminary, which is expected to start work in 2022. <br />The initiative recognizes the importance of proper formation for future priests, also reaffirmed at the recent Ecclesiastical Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean . The 8 Apostolic Vicariates in Peru that will join forces are those of Jaén, Puerto Maldonado, San José del Amazonas, San Ramón, Yurimaguas, Requena, Pucallpa and Iquitos. In several Apostolic Vicariates there have been Seminaries for many years. With the new Seminary, the Bishops underline, they want to join forces and strive for common goals and contribute to giving the Church an Amazonian profile that does justice to the challenges of the Church and the peoples of the Amazon region. As reported by the Council of Latin American Bishops' Conferences and the Peruvian Bishops' Conference, the formation of future priests has always been one of the most important issues in the reflections of the Latin American and Caribbean Church in recent years. The issue was also the subject of debate at the Amazon Synod of Bishops and was revisited at the recent Latin America and Caribbean Assembly. With a view to the post-synodal Exhortation "Querida Amazonia", the bishops of the vicariates of the Peruvian Amazon have therefore decided to set up a joint seminar. Also in the final document of the synod it says: "formation for ordained ministry should be a communal schooling that is fraternal, experiential, spiritual, pastoral and doctrinal; in contact with the real lives of people; in harmony with the local culture and religiosity; and close to the poor". Then in number 108 he highlights: "In order to offer future priests of the Amazon’s churches a formation with an Amazonian face, inserted in and adapted to the reality, contextualized and able to respond to the many pastoral and missionary challenges, we propose a formation plan in line with the challenges of the local churches and the reality of the Amazon". For this reason, the text continues, "The formation centres for priestly and religious life should preferably be inserted in the Amazonian reality, with a view to keeping the young Amazonian in formation in contact with his or her own territory while preparing for the future mission, thus guaranteeing that the process of formation not distance itself from the people’s lived reality and their culture, as well as offering other young non-Amazonians the opportunity to take part of their formation in the Amazon, thus fostering missionary vocations". <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 13:09:02 +0100AFRICA/MALAWI - The Bishops: "Staff of the Anti-Corruption Bureau must be protected" - "No one should be pressurized, intimidated or influenced by threats or any other means in the carrying out of their work for the good of the country. We plead, in the interest of building a more just and transparent Malawi that benefits all its citizens, that any of the investigations or cases which the ACB is dealing with are not in any way obstructed or influenced", ask the Bishops of Malawi in a statement in which they appeal to the highest State authorities to defend the members of the Anti-Corruption Bureau . "We appeal to the Head of State, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the Vice President, Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima and all relevant State institutions and their Heads to ensure the security of the ACB staff; especially the Director General" ask the Bishops.<br />In the statement, the Bishops applaud the efforts of the ACB members and their courage, their professionalism and determination in the fight against corruption, especially for what they have done in the last 6 months. <br />The Bishops affirm that corruption undermines the dignity of the person and destroys the ideals of those who work for the common good. <br />"Too often these institutions and individuals have betrayed the trust of the citizenry and acted in ways which have further embedded systematic corruption and frustrated the fight against it", they say. Among other things, corruption is seriously impeding the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic in the Country. Malawi police have arrested more than 64 government officials for misusing $ 8 million in government funds earmarked for the fight against Covid-19. <br />"Let no suspect, however powerful, wealthy or who their connections are, be shielded or protected provided that he or she is given proper recourse to the legal processes of the courts", the Bishops conclude. The appeal came just hours after the Bishops' Conference's Public Affairs Committee met with President Chakwera to discuss corruption in the country. The Committee reported to the Head of State the feeling of the population on the state of the economy: <br />"With due respect to explanations on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic and its implications on the economy Your Excellency, the public view seems to suggest that the administration lacks direction on the mitigation of economic hardship", said the president of PAC Monsignor Dr. Patrick Thawale. <br />The president of PAC also highlighted the issue of nepotism which is causing scandal among citizens. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 12:55:30 +0100ASIA/CHINA - From Mariology to the Fathers of the Church: 20 years of "academic evangelization" of the Beijing Institute for the Study of Christian Culture - "The Academy .... is also a force of evangelization, which belongs to the present of the Church and her mission", writes Pope Francis in the message to the participants in the XXIV Public Session of the Pontifical Academies . In its modest structural dimensions, the Beijing Institute for the Study of Christian Culture of the archdiocese of Beijing, has been traveling the path of evangelization through the search for truth and Catholic academic research for 20 years, without prejudices or interests, always trying to consolidate the fruitful link between the Gospel and culture indicated by Pope Francis. <br />Since it was born on August 3, 2002, the Institute has always promoted the study of various themes through debates, conferences, publications, seminars, forums, training courses, scholarships, international exchanges ... as reported by Fides . The topics covered range from Mariology to Saint Ambrose, to the Doctors and Fathers of the Church, to Ratzingerian thought, to the contributions of Chinese and foreign missionaries to evangelization and social development in China, among other topics. <br />The Institute has registered an ever-increasing participation of authoritative academics, scholars, Chinese ecclesial personalities, scholars of Christianity, even of international fame, who have offered a series of useful proposals for the evangelizing mission in Chinese society. <br />The missionary work of the Catholic Church in China is therefore not limited to the field of social service or charitable assistance, but is also carried out in the academic field. The cultural laboratory represented by the Beijing Institute for the Study of Christian Culture was a pioneer in mainland China, paving the way for dialogue between the inculturation of faith and the evangelization of cultures. <br />Founded by Fr. Peter Zhao Jianmin, Vicar of the Archdiocese of Beijing, who graduated in Canon Law at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, the first Chinese priest to obtain a doctorate after opening to the Church in China, at the end of the 1970s, the Institute has as its purpose the study of religious culture, especially Christian, promoting greater harmony between Catholicism and traditional Chinese culture. It has several international collaborators and important academic partners, both Chinese and international, such as the Social Academy of Beijing and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. <br />In 2003 he began a series of training courses and study seminars on the theme "Catholicism and Ethics", publishing the texts in the "Journal of Catholic Studies", published periodically by the Institute. On the solemnity of the Epiphany 2007, a scholarship was set up where more than 20 young scholars have benefited to date. Since 2008 it has organized an annual Forum at the beginning of December, usually on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, of which 12 editions took place until 2019, before the pandemic, with over 500 participants. All the texts presented at the Forum are subsequently published in the Journal of Catholic Studies. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 12:39:48 +0100AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - The blockade of humanitarian aid records the lowest rate of stocks of all kinds in Tigray - Due to the ongoing fighting in the Ethiopian region of Tigray, the transport of humanitarian aid has been suspended since 14 December. Although there are more than 800,000 people who should be assisted every week, between January 6 and 12, about 10,500 people received food assistance. This is the lowest level of food assistance since operations expanded in March last year - confirms the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs . Partners also reported that remaining food stocks can only assist 28,000 people. <br />The ongoing fighting in Abala, in the Ethiopian region of Afar, meant that the Semera-Abala-Mekelle corridor was closed and consequently the United Nations was forced, together with other NGOs, to reduce, postpone or cancel the interventions of assistance of all kinds in the region. <br />According to the United Nations body, the humanitarian response has been intensified in the accessible areas of Amhara and Afar. In Amhara, more than 578,000 people received food assistance in the past week, and more than 40,000 received shelter and non-food items. Internally displaced persons continue to return to their places of origin in Amhara, with hundreds of thousands of people estimated to have returned. Assessments of returns and the humanitarian situation in areas of return is ongoing. In Afar, more than 47,000 people received food assistance in the past week. And 30 mobile health and nutrition teams continue to essential nutrition services in remote and conflict-affected communities. <br />In recent days, the International Committee of the Red Cross has stated that some doctors from Tigray are forced to use salt to disinfect wounds, distribute expired drugs and re-use disposable items such as drains and gloves. <br />A measles vaccination campaign launched in the first week of January continues reaching more than 145,000 children to date, out of nearly 800,000 in need. However, health partners report that the campaign is facing serious challenges, including a lack of fuel and cash, limited cold chain capacity, and shortages of health care workers. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 12:31:09 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Korean brothers of Kkottongnae on mission in the Philippines - A religious congregation based in Korea has launched a missionary program and opened its first seminary outside the country, in the Philippines. The "Kkottongnae Congregation of Brother Jesus", a Korean religious congregation committed to the poor and vulnerable, has inaugurated its Seminary in Palo, a city on the island of Leyte, in the central Philippines. <br />The Kkottongnae House of Spirituality is part of the works of the congregation, which provides assistance and accompaniment to orphans and the elderly. Pope Francis visited the place on his trip to Korea in 2014, and inaugurated it. The work is managed by the community of Kkottongnae, led by Fr. Philip Park, local superior of the congregation. In recent years, the institute has looked beyond its national borders, launching missionary projects. <br />Monsignor John Du, Archbishop of Palo, blessed the new seminary, noting: "This is the first Seminary of the Kkottongnae Congregation outside of Korea. This place will become the house of formation for the brothers who will be members of the congregation, and who wish to dedicate themselves to the service of the last, the marginalized, the destitute", he said. <br />The Archbishop praised the collaboration and missionary cooperation between his archdiocese and the Korean institute of Kkottongnae "for the mission of Christ and in the care of the poor". The entire Catholic community of Palo - he said - will strive to work together with you to bring God's love and mercy especially to the poor". Founded by a charismatic Korean priest named John Oh in 1976, the Kkottongnae Institute was inspired by a beggar named Choi Gwi Dong who, despite his disabilities, managed to care for 18 other sick beggars. The Kkottongnae Institute is located in the diocese of Cheongju, about 120 kilometers from Seoul. Helps thousands of homeless, disabled, orphans and alcoholics. The social works promoted by the institute are already present in several countries around the world such as Bangladesh, Nigeria, Paraguay and others. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:49:36 +0100ASIA/EAST TIMOR - Presidential elections, hope for stability and prosperity - The people of East Timor see in the next presidential elections, scheduled for March 19, an opportunity for growth, prosperity and well-being for the country. "People in the country want to see the end of the political impasse and the economic recession", Acacio Pinto, a Catholic researcher and analyst of social sciences in East Timor, tells Fides. The presidential elections will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2022. The registration of candidates is currently underway. There will likely be eight candidates, three of them women. According to the polls, the favorites to contend for the seat are three figures: current president Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres; military general and former resistance leader Lere Anan Timur; and former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos-Horta. A decisive boost for one of the three contenders, Acacio Pinto explains to Fides, could be the support of Xanana Gusmão, former leader of the resistance, former president and prime minister, currently leader of the opposition party in Parliament. <br />The presidential election campaign period runs from March, 2 to 16. The new president will take office on May 20, the date on which East Timor celebrates the 20th anniversary of the restoration of independence, starting a five-year term. <br />It is important, according to Pinto, to make an in-depth reading of the country's politics, from the last elections in 2017 to the present. The country was "caught in a political dead end", since the current president did not want to confirm the oath of seven ministers of the then ruling coalition due to alleged "corruption", triggering a long political crisis. <br />Subsequently, the second most voted party became part of the coalition government, amid accusations of unconstitutionality that aggravated the political chaos. "Today, people want a new president who maintains the stability of the government, interpreting the constitutional law", says the analyst. According to Pinto, some of the central issues in the current scenario are: having a stable government that carries out the five-year mandate; return the economy to positive growth after the recession; address the crisis linked to Covid-19 at a social, political and economic level by finding adequate countermeasures. To this end, Pinto underlines, the priority is "investing in health, education, reducing malnutrition. It is necessary to increase internal revenues, have good governance, free from corruption, do justice to the victims of wars and give dignity to war veterans". The country will then hold parliamentary elections in March 2023. East Timor gained from Indonesia independence in 1999. It has a population of 1.3 million, 95% of whom are Catholic. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:35:13 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - 50 years since the death of the first Apostolic Vicar of Buenaventura, Monsignor Gerardo Valencia Cano - Today, January 21, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Monsignor Gerardo Valencia Cano, an outstanding figure for the missionary work carried out in the then Apostolic Vicariate of Buenaventura, of which he was the first Apostolic Vicar. Born on August 26, 1917 in Santo Domingo, Antioquia, he was ordained a priest at the Institute of Foreign Missions of Yarumal , of which he was also Superior General. He was Apostolic Prefect of Vaupés , Apostolic Vicar of Buenaventura , participated in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council , first President of the Department of Missions of CELAM , Director of the Colombian Anthropology Center of the Missions and Ethnia magazine . He organized the First Continental Meeting of the Latin American Missions in Melgar where he proposed the development of a pastoral care for Afro-Latin Americans. He died in the explosion of the plane on which he was returning to Buenaventura, the causes of which have never been clarified. On the 50th anniversary of his death, the Episcopal Conference of Colombia and the Pontifical Mission Societies have organized a virtual forum, which will be broadcast on social networks, to remember his life and his missionary work. Through this forum, informs the note sent to Fides, the intention is to make a historical approach to "Brother Gerardo", as he was known by his people, highlighting his pastoral and missionary journey that he lived based on four pillars: piety, holiness, meditation and prayer. <br />Monsignor Valencia Cano dedicated his life to the development of important social and educational projects in favor of the poor and street children, who are still active today, strongly criticizing the management of the problems that afflicted the country and the territories entrusted to his pastoral care. He is known for having put into practice the theology of the Second Vatican Council, in which he had participated, in the evangelizing task of the laity, especially with the participation of women in missionary work. <br />Fri, 21 Jan 2022 11:21:34 +0100AMERICA/BOLIVIA - "New Men" Project: 30 years of journey for integral promotion, from passive poor to free citizens Cruz – Msgr. Nicolás Castellanos Franco, Bishop Emeritus of Palencia , arrived as a missionary in Bolivia in January 1992, after having resigned as Ordinary of Palencia, precisely in the Plan Tres Mil district, in Santa Cruz de the Sierra, where 60% of the population was poor and 40% lived in poverty. Faced with this reality, he founded the "New Men" ecclesial fraternity, made up of priests, religious, lay people and volunteers, and thus began the "New Men Project". <br />Carrying out important work in the field of education and development, this project quickly became an institution with enormous potential to respond to the many needs of society. The project thus turns 30 years old, as the Bolivian Episcopal Conference recalls in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, with great results in terms of education and culture: 100 schools, homes in the highlands so that the students do not have to walk 4/6 hours to go to school; 85 multifunctional fields; Faculty of Theater, with the Catholic University of Bolivia; New Men School and Orchestra; Sports schools; Rhythmic gymnastics ... The Project also promoted comprehensive education and training of professionals through university scholarships, from which more than 5,000 graduates and higher technicians have been able to benefit. Support was also ensured for micro-enterprises. Evangelization is achieved through the integral promotion of the whole man and woman, through groups for deepening the faith, groups of young people, children, human rights, Caritas, ecclesial communities. In 1992, malnutrition caused many children to die. The "Palencia" children's center, which began operating one month after the foundation of "New Men", has saved the lives of more than 5,000 Bolivian children. A huge amount of work was also carried out in the field of social housing, with the collaboration of more than 5,000 volunteers and the generous contribution of institutions, companies and individuals. This roadmap of New Men, even more extensive, had and has a double objective: Raise the self-esteem of Bolivians, through the instrument of education, raise their dignity to the point of becoming the protagonist of their own history, to be a submissive and passive subject, giving life instead to a free, responsible, supportive and happy citizen. <br />Thu, 20 Jan 2022 13:08:33 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - The bishops meeting for the first time since 2020 confirm the resumption of pastoral activities slowed down by the pandemic - "How nice it is to be here physically after so long", said His Exc. Mgr. João Rodrigues, Bishop of Tzaneen, at the beginning of his homily during the opening Mass of the plenary session of the Southern African Catholic Bishops 'Conference at St. John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria. The SACBC meeting will be held for the first time in presence since the plenary meeting in January 2020. <br />Referring to the social consequences caused by the pandemic crisis, Mgr. Rodrigues recalled the mass looting in South Africa in July 2021 : "I could not believe that something like this was happening in our country so quickly". The Bishop stressed that division and disorder do not arise from the differences between people, but from how these differences are used to provoke divisions. "The communion of God that unites us is more powerful than the differences that tempt us to division and disorder", he stressed. <br />The President of the SACBC, His Exc. Monsignor Sithembele Sipuka, Bishop of Umtata reported that the usual pastoral programs of the parishes are gradually resuming, with the faithful once again participating in Sunday Mass. Monsignor Sipuka praised Monsignor Jose Louis Ponce de Leon, together with his priests, religious and lay people, for their humble but incisive testimony in the face of the painful situation of political unrest in the country, and eSwatini . <br />Mgr. Sipuka then recalled two protagonists of the end of apartheid who recently passed away, former President Mr. FW De Klerk, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as the successes and failures of government action in managing the Covid-19 situation, and the important role played by the media in denouncing corruption in the Country. <br />Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:47:38 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Church helps the economic and social reintegration of former prisoners - "God is merciful, he is our creator and supplier and takes care of our needs. We continued to raise funds to support our brothers, who have been in prison for five years. After their release, it is difficult for them to find a job, so we thought of helping them start their own business. Last year at Christmas we supported some of them, this year we are helping another 20 people to start a business to support their families", explains the Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Francis Shaw, to Agenzia Fides. The Archbishop further states: "In times of suffering, we thank God for the release of our brothers in prison; we have started working to support these people in setting up their businesses". Encouraging former prisoners, Archbishop Sebastian comments: "With this material help we have provided some with a rickshaw, others with building materials or items to run a grocery store. Together with this material support, we thank our priests, catechists and faithful who have been at the side of these former prisoners and their families in their time of need". "We thank God that the people who were helped at Christmas in 2020 are now well; we pray for you so that God blesses your efforts", concluded the Archbishop. The Catholic Church has supported 42 Christian prisoners released after five years in prison. These 42 men were arrested for destroying government property and killing two Muslim men suspected of being related to suicide bombers who had attacked churches in Youhanabad, a district of Lahore, on March 15, 2015. They were all released in January 2020 after compensating the families of the two murdered Muslims. On March 15, 2015, two suicide bombers attacked Christ Church and St. John's Catholic Church in Youhanabad, the largest Christian colony in Lahore, home to more than 100,000 Christians. Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:29:44 +0100ASIA/SYRIA - Two Syrian Franciscans, twin brothers, compose songs in Arabic inspired by the writings of St. Francis - Johnny and George Jallouf are twin brothers, and they are also friars and students at the Custody of the Holy Land. They were born 25 years ago in Aleppo, and in that Syrian metropolis, martyred during the war years, they also lived together the beginning of the religious vocation that led them both to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi. Now, their passion for the Saint and their concern for the care of liturgical celebrations have united them in a new adventure: the project of obtaining from the writings of St. Francis a corpus of sacred hymns in Arabic, to be offered to all for the liturgy and personal prayer. The result for now is a collection of nine hymns, entitled "Rabi wa Elahi" , with texts in Arabic and original music, available for free on digital music platforms, including Anghami . <br />Father George explained that the idea of creating liturgical songs in Arabic inspired by the writings of Saint Francis arose during his early years of Franciscan formation, while he and his brother were in Italy singing Franciscan hymns composed in Italian. The two brothers are also musicians: George studies classical guitar and singing, Johnny studies flute and singing. Their project consists of creating Franciscan hymns with original music, the composition of which was entrusted to a couple of Christian musicians from Nazareth, Louai Zaher and Rabab Zaitoun. "The purpose of the spread of these songs", Brother Johnny told the online magazine "is to try and convey to the Arab world the spirit of the Franciscan writings, especially to young people during the meetings of formation and on the Franciscan Marches". The title of the collection, which means "My Lord and my God" in Arabic, is inspired by the phrase "My God and my everything", pronounced by Saint Francis on Mount Verna, after receiving the stigmata. <br />Johnny and George, members of a Christian family from Aleppo, grew up attending the Franciscan parish in the Syrian metropolis even during the years when the entire population suffered from the trauma of war. It was in those difficult times that their vocation flourished. The questions and the thirst for happiness that they felt growing inside them while the city seemed to sink into unimaginable violence led them to put aside their old plans and to follow the One that attracted their hearts more strongly in those troubled years. <br />Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:19:30 +0100