Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Three historical figures of the Catholic community of Seoul towards the altars - The Archdiocese of Seoul has officially declared the opening of the beatification process for three historical figures of priests who provided pastoral service in the Archdiocese: Bishop Barthelemy Bruguiere, priest of the Foreign Missions of Paris , first Vicar Apostolic of Korea; Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan , Archbishop of Seoul from 1968 to 1998; Father Andrew Moo Bang Ah Yoo Ryong , founder of the local religious order of the Blessed Korean Martyrs. As declared by the Commission for Beatification and Canonization of the Archdiocese of Seoul, for the first time in Korea, the cause of beatification is promoted by a single diocese: the three figures are "examples of faith for all" and "the Church intends to exalt them as people who have distinguished themselves for their virtue and holiness among believers," said Auxiliary Bishop King Job Koo Yobi, president of the Commission. The process that has begun will require "long efforts and prayers", as Archbishop Peter Chung Soon-taek has pointed out, expressing his congratulations and the joy of all the People of God for the path now officially undertaken.<br />Following the "nihil obstat" received from the Holy See, the three candidates have been renamed "Servants of God." Next, the process begins with the examination of evidence and testimonies, in a first phase before a tribunal set up at the diocesan level; the second phase of the investigation will then take place at the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, in the Holy See.<br />Monsignor Bruguiere was the first Apostolic Vicar of Korea and the first Coadjutor bishop of Siam . He died in China and his mortal remains were transferred to a Seoul cemetery in 1931.<br />Father Andrew Moo Bang Ah Yoo Ryong dedicated his entire life to spreading the Catholic faith in Korea, promoting a new style of Korean religious life, fully inculturated and inspired by the figures of Korean martyrs, during the painful period in which the country was under Japanese occupation and in which foreign missionaries led the Church.<br />Cardinal Stephen Kim is universally considered a "national hero": Bishop of Seoul since 1968, created a Cardinal by Paul VI in 1969, he worked to implement the spirit of the Second Vatican Council in Korea. President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea , he led the Korean Church through trials and tribulations, in difficult times and moments marked by political and social unrest, such as when Chun Doo-hwan took power in South Korea with a military coup in 1979. He was an attentive and courageous promoter of human dignity, human rights and democracy, always in the name of the Gospel, in the delicate and complex transition of the country from military rule to democracy, and this made him an appreciated figure and respected by all, Catholics and non-Catholics.<br />There are currently 103 saints and 124 blessed in the Korean Church, including Andrew Kim Dae-geon, the first Korean priest and martyr. For the beatification of the second Korean priest, Father Thomas Choi Yang-eop, the process is in the stage of examining the miracle. The Korean Church is currently promoting other causes for beatification: that of the Servants of God John Baptist Lee Byeok and his 132 companions; that of the Servant of God Hong Yong-ho, of Bishop Francesco Borgia and of his 80 companions; that of the Servant of God Shin Sang-Won, of Bishop Bonifacio Sauer and his 37 companions. <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 13:42:13 +0200AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Laity: Samaritans of our time and our culture, for social and ecclesial transformationé - "According to their baptismal identity, the laity assume the commitment to be authentic Christians, so that in every social, political, economic, ecclesial reality ... they can embody values and highlight virtues that contribute to communion, to dialogue and participation". Likewise, it is the commitment of all the laity to establish the "Kingdom of God and his justice" in our society, being "salt and light" of the earth, "witnesses of the Gospel", to be compassionate Samaritans in our time and in our culture, for ecclesial and social transformation. Finally, the laity are called to contribute to the sanctification of the world.<br />These are some of the considerations that emerged from the meeting which, under the sign of the Year of the Laity that the Church of Paraguay has just experienced , brought together on 25 and 26 March, in Caacupé the National Coordination of the Laity of Paraguay. Lay representatives of dioceses, movements, groups and ecclesial communities were present in the National Shrine, accompanied by the Bishop of Caacupé, Monsignor Ricardo Valenzuela, the Bishop in charge of the Pastoral Care of the laity, Monsignor Celestino Ocampo, and the diocesan advisor, Father Heriberto Fernandez.<br />The central themes of the meeting were "Identity, spirituality, mission and apostolate of the laity" and the message of Pope Francis on "The co-responsibility of the laity in the mission", deepened with the reflection directed by the laity Genaro Fernández and Eudelio Cardozo and by Bishop Celestino Ocampo. According to the information disseminated by the Episcopal Conference, since the laity are called to contribute to the sanctification of the world, reflection was made on the works of the laity in the temporal sphere. Other elements refer to the promotion of the person and human dignity, equality between them; the defense and promotion of religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship; commitment to political life and economic and social development; the union of efforts to restore peace in the world and contribute to the development of human culture.<br />Following the methodology used in the continental phase of the Synod, there was a dialogue on "how to give witness to life in the different environments we frequent: at work or in the work environment, in education, in the family, in relation to health, the distribution and management of land and the housing system". <br />And along with this, on "how to be a prophet, priest and king in the current context and what we feel called to". Listening to the lived experiences, the need for a coherent life emerged: "assuming the commitment and honoring it, proclaiming and denouncing". In addition, it is necessary to train for service, to make our talents available.<br />A third aspect recalls the reality of incorporation into Christ through Baptism, "to bear witness to Him, being priests, prophets and kings in different environments, starting with one's own family, to project oneself in society as good citizens". In this sense, solidarity <br />was highlighted for dealing with situations such as the pandemic and to engage in social initiatives to help the underprivileged , those who fight against the corrupt system of land distribution and other life threatening situations, such as abortion and euthanasia.<br />The meeting concluded with the Holy Mass in which Monsignor Celestino Ocampo invited the laity to bear witness and coherence of life in different spheres, to allow themselves to be challenged by the Word of God, not to be complicit in injustice and corruption, to proclaim Christ by being merciful to the most vulnerable, to live Holy Week. Then he invited us, looking at the Cross, to think that Jesus asks each one of us: "for whom or for what is it worth giving one's life? How could we make concrete today the expression 'love to the end?'." <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 12:49:15 +0200AFRICA/BURUNDI - Resignation of Bishop of Bubanza City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Bubanza, Burundi, presented by Bishop Jean Ntagwarara. <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 12:37:20 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Palm Sunday: Catholic communities promote the seventh National Collection Day - On Palm Sunday, for the seventh consecutive year, the Chinese Catholic community celebrates National Collection Day tomorrow, April 2. The initiative is promoted by Jinde Charites, the organization that for almost 26 years has coordinated charitable works supported by the Catholic communities of mainland China and international donations.<br />The collection called for Palm Sunday has always been very well received by bishops, priests and laity, who see it as an opportunity to unite the whole Church, and together bear witness to faith and charity. <br />This year, the collection comes after a few days in which the Chinese Catholic communities, in parishes and homes, have prayed for Pope Francis and have shared on their social networks the information that came from Rome about his state of health after his hospitalization in Gemelli Polyclinic, also sharing the joy of his speedy recovery.<br />The statistics of the collected donations are encouraging. The funds raised are used by Jinde Charites to finance material aid, initiatives in the field of health and psychological support, and reconstruction campaigns in areas affected by natural disasters in China and abroad.<br />The statistics of the collected donations are encouraging. The funds raised are used by Jinde Charites to finance material aid, initiatives in the field of health and psychological support, and reconstruction campaigns in areas affected by natural disasters in China and abroad.<br />According to information sent to Fides, until March 22, 2022, that is, in the first five years from the start of the collection promoted on Palm Sunday, the initiative has financed projects worth ¥4,697,660, 27, equivalent to 690,832.35 euros. <br />Funded projects also include relief initiatives supported after floods and earthquakes in various parts of China, as well as those promoted after the Hualien earthquake in Taiwan, the volcano eruption in Guatemala, and the tsunami in Indonesia in 2018.<br />Since the outbreak of the pandemic, and until March 3, 2021, Collection Day has managed to raise more than 30 million yuan, equivalent to more than 4.5 million euros, to help the areas most affected by the pandemic virus, in China and in other countries, with masks, machinery, medical supplies. Dioceses, parishes, congregations and religious institutes, associations and ecclesial movements have always adhered to the Palm Sunday collection, and have always been able to verify the maximum transparency in the use of the offerings collected over the years.<br /><br />Those responsible for Jinde Charities always address their appeals to all baptized Catholics and to all people of good will: "We will continue promoting works of charity, and walking together to build a harmonious society", because "Jesus said: 'whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me' ". This is the message with which, once again, Jinde Charities invites everyone to be generous by joining the "National Collection Day". <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 12:34:38 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - A religious of the Missionaries of Africa killed by mistake - "It was a tragic accident", a person in charge of the General House of the Missionaries of Africa told Agenzia Fides, confirming the accidental murder of one of his community confreres in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Brother Moses Simukonde Sens, 35, originally from Zambia, was killed by a stray bullet on the evening of March 29 near a military checkpoint.<br />"The tragedy occurred around 9 in the evening on March 29, when our brother was passing near the checkpoint set up by the military police", sources from the General House affirm. "Soldiers fired several times at individuals whom they claimed posed a threat. Unfortunately, one of the shots hit Brother Moses, killing him. The military police have apologized in an official letter to our congregation and the family of the missionary brother".<br />Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been going through a phase of serious political instability due to the violence of jihadist groups present in several areas, which has caused at least 10,000 deaths - civilian and military - and some two million displaced people. On March 30, a state of emergency was declared in eight regions of the country, which comprise 22 departments corresponding to nearly half of the national territory.<br />In addition, civil society organizations in Burkina Faso have expressed their concern over cases of "kidnapping" and "forced recruitment" of citizens as army auxiliaries in the fight against jihadism, and have denounced the "recurrent and systematic denial of freedom of opinion". <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 11:58:23 +0200EUROPE/RUSSIA - The Catholic community in Moscow commemorates Father Konstantin Budkiewicz 100 years after his execution - "The cross is not a source of bitterness and disappointment, but is already the beginning of glory". This is how Paolo Pezzi, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Mother of God in Moscow, spoke yesterday, Friday, March 31, during the homily of the Eucharistic celebration he presided over on the occasion of the centenary of the execution of priest Konstantin Budkiewicz. During the Mass, celebrated in the Catholic cathedral of Moscow, prayers were also held for the cause of beatification in progress, set up for the Polish priest and other men and women who, in the twenties and thirties, testified to the faith in Christ in the USSR.<br />It was precisely in March of a hundred years ago that the process against the Catholic Church by the Leninist government began in Moscow. At the beginning of 1922, during the confiscation of ecclesiastical property, the government authorities asked the representatives of the Catholic Church for a list of the objects that would be subject to confiscation. In response, Jan Feliks Cieplak, Archbishop of Mogilev, sent a circular to his priests forbidding them to deliver the requested inventories, since only the Holy See could dispose of ecclesiastical property in use by Catholics. Despite the fundamental role of mediation played during the negotiations by Father Edmund Walsh SJ − director of the pontifical relief mission in Russia during the famine of the 1920s and then the highest diplomatic representative of the Holy See in the Soviet Union − the conflict between the Catholic community, with a Polish majority, and the Leninist government proved insurmountable.<br />On November 25, 1922, the Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Governorate ordered the closure of Catholic churches until an agreement was reached according to the wording proposed by the People's Commissariat for Justice, and on December 5 and 6, seals were placed in the places of worship. On March 2, 1923, Bishop Cieplak and 14 Catholic priests, including Exarch Leonid Fëdorov and Budkiewicz, received a summons for March 5 at the Moscow Central Revolutionary Court, a prelude to the trial that took place from March 21 to 26 of that month, to which the defendants' lawyers were not admitted. Instead, Bolshevik onlookers were present, purposely invited to attend the interrogations. The trial ended with Cieplak and Budkiewicz being sentenced to death, Fëdorov to 10 years in solitary confinement, and several years in jail for the other priests. Thanks to international pressure, the archbishop's death sentence was commuted to 10 years in prison and, of the other two death sentences, only Budkiewicz was executed, on March 31, precisely, Holy Saturday that year for the Catholic community. An "ascent to Heaven for the culmination of life", as Archbishop Pezzi defined it, while waiting for the cause of beatification to take its course. In accordance with the reorganization established in 2021 by the diocesan court of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God, the cause - which is still in its initial phase - is currently instituted for the servants of God Antonij Maleckij - Titular Bishop of Dionysiana and Apostolic Administrator of Leningrad - and companions: Bishop Karol Śliwowski , Monsignor Konstantin Budkiewicz , Fr. Jan Trojgo , Fr. Antonij Červinskij , Mr. Antoni Dziemieszkiewicz , Mr. Francisk Budris , Mr. Pavel Homič ; sister Ekaterina Sienskaja OPL ; the laywoman Kamilla Krušel'nickaja .<br />This case is not the only one pending for Catholics who testified to their faith in Christ during the Soviet regime and in the period immediately following the end of the USSR. In 2019, the cause of beatification of Eduard Profittlich SJ , Catholic Archbishop of Tallinn, sentenced to death, but died before execution due to the inhuman conditions to which he was subjected during his imprisonment, entered the Roman phase; and in 2020 Msgr. Bernardo Antonini , promoter of the rebirth of the Catholic Church in Russia and founder of the Catholic seminary of St. Petersburg, was declared Venerable.<br />According to the recent press release at the conclusion of the 57th Plenary Assembly of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, held near Novosibirsk from 28 February to 2 March, the Catholic community in Moscow will once again commemorate the 1923 trial from 7 to 9 November. The starting date of the celebrations coincides with the anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, which took place on November 7, according to the Gregorian calendar. <br />Sat, 01 Apr 2023 11:49:54 +0200ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Three online meetings in Russian on Pope Francis' Message for World Mission Day 2023 - The series of three online training meetings in Russian organized by the Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Kazakhstan and the International Secretariat of the Pontifical Missionary Union begins today, Friday, March 31. The theme of these three webinars, open to all, is Pope Francis' Message for World Mission Day 2023, entitled "Hearts burning, feet on the way" .<br />In particular, during the first meeting, scheduled for this afternoon from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time , the focus will be on the first of the three sections in which the message is articulated: "Hearts burning when he explained the Scriptures to us". The Word of God enlightens and transforms the heart in mission". Father Dinh Anh Nhue Nguyen OFM Conv, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union, will speak in Russian with an introduction to the reading and a commentary, while Father Leopold Kropfreiter, SJM, National Director of the PMS of Kazakhstan, will speak about the message placing it within the larger horizon of the Pope's recent visit to Kazakhstan. A time for discussion and debate is planned at the end of the two presentations.<br />The next meetings, scheduled for May 5 and June 23, will focus respectively on the other two parts of the message "Eyes that "opened and recognized him" in the breaking of the bread. Jesus in the Eucharist is the summit and source of the mission", and "Feet on the way, with the joy of telling the story of the risen Christ". The eternal youth of a Church always goes forth". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Link Zoom Meeting ID: 682 3027 3464 Passcode: 241070</a>Fri, 31 Mar 2023 10:22:11 +0200ASIA/MALAYSIA - The mission of the Church "on a synodal journey": towards the pastoral assembly in peninsular Malaysia Lumpur - The diocesan pastoral assembly of ecclesial realities in Peninsular Malaysia - which is being prepared and will be held between summer and autumn 2023 - will talk about formation, the need to listen to the "cry of the earth" and the "cry of the poor", of inculturation and dialogue, aware that Catholic communities are called to "trace new paths". The main lines of reflection and discussion concern evangelization and the mission of the Church, indicated the members of the team in charge of preparing the meeting, formed by the bishops and a small number of representatives of the three dioceses of peninsular Malaysia . This assembly is an integral part of the "synodal journey" and of a "spirituality of synodality" which must be cultivated at all levels of the Church. This year's Pastoral Assembly will also incorporate the themes that emerged from the recent Assembly of Asian Delegates for the Synod on Synodality , such as: inclusion, responsibility, prayer, care for the environment, and the call to become missionary disciples.<br />"We must continue to emphasize family, community, human ecology and relations with society in the light of the synodal process. Everything is linked, in the sign of the continuity of the journey of the Malaysian Church", observed Msgr. Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur<br />"The process of bringing our Churches closer together will include and refer to the synodal journey, as proposed by Pope Francis. We need a 'common impetus' in this journey", added Bishop Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang.<br />"The pastoral assembly of our dioceses, firstly, has the merit of bringing people together so that they can walk together and experience communion and community. Secondly, we lead the faithful to rediscover the common priesthood, participation in the priesthood of Christ by virtue of baptism, which unites us all. The approach and method of discussion in the assembly can be that of "spiritual conversation", which makes us perceive the general movement of the Spirit. It can lead to awareness of the need for spiritual conversion at all levels. The important thing is to allow oneself to be led by the Holy Spirit,” concluded Msgr. Bernard Paul, Bishop of Malacca-Johore. <br /><br />Fri, 31 Mar 2023 09:34:55 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Twenty missionary sisters at the service of evangelization among people in difficulty - Famine, drought, early marriages, orphans, the elderly, human promotion, evangelization, these are some of the priorities of the sisters of the Congregation of the Social Missionaries of the Church who work in Kenya.<br />"We are the Congregation of Social Missionaries of the Church, an Ecuadorian foundation that has been working in Kenya since 2000", explained to Fides Sr. Ligia Giròn, who, together with her sisters, follows various humanitarian contexts in the African country.<br />"We arrived in Kenya for a 3-year missionary experience, but then we decided to stay, after realizing that our presence in the middle of the desert, and our charisma gave many young people the desire to serve the Church through our Congregation. There are currently 20 of us, including 17 Kenyans and 3 Ecuadorians. We mainly take care of pre-school children, from 0 to 7 years of age, in very remote areas near Ethiopia. <br />We also work in a reception center for nomadic girls forced into marriage and with orphans. Our goal, besides evangelizing, is to give them food, education and shelter. Unfortunately, since the Covid-19 pandemic, we no longer have staff to help us take care of 500 elderly people and we can currently only take care of a few dozen of them".<br />The commitment of the missionaries also extends to the diocese of Eldoret, in the Rift Valley, where they deal mainly with evangelization and human promotion, "we take care of children, women, families, <br />and it is there that we temporarily hosted our novitiate - explains Sister Ligia. We were invited to the diocese of Homabay, Nyanza province, to set up a reception center for girls who are forced to be circumcised even if it is prohibited by law. Let's pray the good Lord to give us the means to start this other work which would help so many innocent victims".<br />Sister Ligia also speaks of the drought emergency affecting the area . <br />"In Turkana, we had rain for a few hours this week, although it was devastating, it wiped out many animals and claimed lives among children. The positive side is that this rain will allow grass to grow for grazing, although it can do nothing against the severe famine that the whole population is experiencing. Here in the desert, the water supply depends on wells. The water level is always very low and there are not enough in the desert for people and livestock. The Church and NGOs continue to help us as much as they can". <br />Fri, 31 Mar 2023 09:24:29 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The peace process fails to advance after the change in the Ministry of Defense - Immediately begin operations to disarm the civilian population, starting with the capital, Juba. This is the task assigned to the new Defense Minister of South Sudan, Chol Thon Balok, by President Salva Kiir Maryardit.<br />President Kiir has also instructed the minister to implement the second chapter of the peace agreement, which details the permanent ceasefire and transitional security provisions.<br />Kiir and his longtime rival Riek Machar signed the peace deal in 2018 that ended a five-year civil war that killed 400,000 people. An agreement that has had difficulties to be fully implemented in recent years despite the fact that Machar was reinstated in the position of first vice president that he held before the conflict broke out in December 2013.<br />The appointment of the new defense minister aroused strong opposition from Machar, as Chol Thon Balok, who belongs to the <br />President's party, took the place of Angelina Teny, Machar's wife. On March 3, Kiir dismissed her along with the Home Secretary. Dismissals that were branded as "Kiir's unilateral decision" by Machar's party.<br />The 2018 peace accords provide for the creation of a unified army called the Graduated Unified Forces. “So far this force has not entered service. <br />It seems that it trained for nothing", Oryema Emmanuel, a civil society representative for Eastern Equatoria state, told the Catholic Radio Network, stressing that leaving soldiers trained without a specific assignment risks creating security problems.<br />The situation most at risk remains that of the Upper Nile which, according to the Small Arms Survey, is on the verge of a resumption of armed conflict, between some local groups themselves linked to the broader national context. "Normally the Small Arms Survey experts are among the best and most precise in their analysis of the South Sudanese context", local ecclesiastical sources told Agenzia Fides, which we did not cite for security reasons. "What they describe of the context, including the current dynamics and the possible events that could lead to a resumption of the various conflicts in the region, is something that we unfortunately verified for ourselves". "We sincerely pray that these trends prevail". <br />Fri, 31 Mar 2023 13:45:32 +0200AMERICA/GUATEMALA - Temporary reception centers for immigrants "end up being detention centers, where human rights are violated" City - "As we have said more than once, 'Guatemala has the primary obligation to fulfill and enforce the rights of male and female citizens to remain in their country in dignified conditions and in accordance with their rights', failing to comply with this responsibility, Guatemala and especially the officials on duty are co-responsible for the events that occurred in the fire at the immigration station in Mexico". This is what the Pastoral Care of Human Mobility of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala writes, in a "public pronouncement of solidarity and indignation" about the tragic fire in Ciudad Juárez that has cost the lives of 39 migrants .<br />Of the 39 victims, according to the authorities, 18 were from Guatemala, 7 from El Salvador, 7 from Venezuela, 6 from Honduras and 1 from Colombia. They were all men, between 18 to 51 years of age. The 28 injured were 10 from Guatemala, 8 from Honduras, 5 from El Salvador and 5 from Venezuela.<br />The Pastoral Care of Human Mobility expresses its condolences and solidarity "to the families of all the victims of the tragic fire, in particular to the families of Guatemalans who died in the deplorable and condemnable act". Invoking the comfort of God the Father for the families of the victims, he hopes for divine help to "transform indignation and impotence into concrete and permanent actions of solidarity" which respond to the request for a dignified life for those who are forced to seek better living conditions, faced with the abandonment and inaction of the states involved, of origin, transit and destination.<br />The text, sent to Fides, underlines that these temporary reception centers for migrants "end up being detention centers, where the human rights of people in forced mobility are violated". Therefore, it is reiterated: " "Enough of euphemisms, we must not accept or tolerate that soft or decorous words or expressions are given to what truly constitutes a detention center, which does not meet dignified or safe conditions".<br />For this reason, The Pastoral Care of Human Mobility requests that the accompaniment, support and concrete concern of the consulate towards the families of the deceased and injured victims, such as a dignified, fast and free repatriation of the bodies of their loved ones. “In communion with the whole Church and in line with the Gospel – concludes the pronouncement -, we renew our pastoral commitment to accompany people in forced mobility. In the same way, we cry out to God to enlighten the governments involved, so that they assume as countries of origin, transit, destination and deportation, their responsibility to create and implement public and immigration policies that respond to the structural-real causes that force thousands of of people to migrate.<br />The issue of emigration and the laws applied by the States towards emigrants has been widely treated and discussed, especially by the Central American Churches. The participants in the VIII meeting of bishops and pastoral agents of the southern border of Mexico and Central American countries, held in August 2022 in Antigua, Guatemala, had asked "the social and political leaders of our countries to act decisively, implementing local and regional actions and policies that promote inclusive and harmonious development, respecting the laws and agreements in force”.<br />Local churches in Central American countries "are called to reinforce the pastoral care of human mobility, especially where the presence of our migrant brothers and sisters is greater, to strengthen the spaces for national and regional articulation and to share experiences of service to migrants, refugees, displaced victims of trafficking, to improve our work, permanently monitoring the situation”. The final text states that the governments of the region "continue to apply development models that deepen socio-economic inequalities and accentuate the precarious condition in which the majority of the already impoverished population lives". <br />Fri, 31 Mar 2023 13:36:05 +0200ASIA/CHINA - New opportunities for communion and unity for the diocese of Baoding - After the difficult time of the pandemic, when churches were closed due to health provisions, even in the diocese of Baoding, in the Chinese province of Hebei, the daily life of the local Catholic community shows signals that indicate that it is "restarting". With the reopenings inaugurated on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, the Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on the occasion of the consecration and dedication of new churches provided an opportunity to experience and manifest communion and ecclesial unity among baptized Catholics. <br />This happened, for example, at the end of February, when Lent had already begun, on the occasion of the solemn liturgy celebrated for the consecration and dedication of the church of Nanhuqu. The liturgical concelebration, presided over by Monsignor Francis An Shuxin, was also attended by more than thirty priests. In the festively decorated new church, community songs were sung with the contribution of music bands from various parishes. The religious from the diocesan Congregation of the Little Sisters of Saint Teresa of Lisieux and from the diocesan Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady participated in the celebration, together with the community of faithful. They "all prayed together for the diocese to continue to move on the path of unity, communion and normality, seeking to walk united in the love of Christ", according to a statement from the diocesan office. "Let us put first - the statement continues - the good of the Church. Let us unite around the Bishop. Let us offer him our suggestions to safeguard the unity and communion of our ecclesial community of Baoding, according to the teaching of the Church and also taking into account what the Code of Canon Law indicates".<br />Before the beginning of Lent, Bishop An had also presided over the solemn Eucharistic celebration on the occasion of the reopening of the Shaojiazhuang parish, which had just been restored with the recovery of typical elements of Chinese architectural canons. The time that the restoration works lasted, until the first liturgical celebration in the restored church, represented a propitious occasion for the parish community to undertake a true "synodal journey" and experience fraternal communion in dealing with pastoral and missionary emergencies. The liturgical celebration was also attended by priests, nuns, parish choirs and bands from the closest Catholic communities in the area. <br />The local authorities also contributed from a logistical point of view to the success of the liturgical celebration, mobilizing the fire brigade and traffic control agents.<br />Bishop An, in his preaching, always repeated the prayer to the Lord that unity in the Church may be preserved. Twelve years ago, during the consecration of the Sui Cheng village church, the bishop stressed that "there is nothing wrong with a church being small and simple. As long as we can pray in it and celebrate the Eucharist. Above all, it is important to have a temple of God also in our hearts too, adorned with prayer and good works, if we really want to be children worthy of His name". <br />Fri, 31 Mar 2023 13:15:38 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Bishops of the "Nineveh Council": Christians could boycott the upcoming elections - The Bishops of the Churches present in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain, in a striking initiative, have announced the possible boycott of the next rounds of elections by the Christian component of the Iraqi population, if the demands raised within this component and aimed at protecting the spaces of political representation guaranteed to Christian candidates in Parliament and in national and local political institutions by the same electoral laws currently in force are not taken into consideration. <br />The Bishops who make up the so-called ""Nineveh Council" expressed their concerns in a lengthy and articulate statement addressed in particular to the institutional representatives of the Iraqi Parliament.<br /><br />At the center of the ecumenical body's initiative is the increasingly controversial issue of "quotas" of parliamentary seats reserved for minority members of the Iraqi population.<br />Iraq - reads the text signed by the Bishops - is characterized by its ethnic and religious plurality, which also includes the Christian component. The electoral law in force provides that five seats in Parliament are reserved for candidates belonging to the indigenous Christian communities, so that the needs of the Christian component find expression in the exercise of legislative power. But the vote to elect the candidates destined to occupy the seats reserved for the Christian component is not exercised exclusively by Christian voters. Even non-Christians can vote to assign the 5 seats that in theory should be reserved for the Christian component. In this way, the majority political forces are also able to pilot the allocation of seats reserved for minority components, including Christians. For this reason - reads the Bishops' statement - the candidates end up not really representing the legitimate demands and interests of the Iraqi Christian communities at a political level.<br />The concrete proposal outlined in the statement signed by the Bishops of the "Nineveh Council", who belong to different Churches, is to establish a Register of Christian voters and electors qualified to cast their votes to allocate the five parliamentary seats reserved for the Christian component. The establishment of such a register - the Bishops write - would be in full harmony with the Iraqi Constitution and Supreme Court pronouncements regarding electoral procedures. If, on the other hand, the legitimate requests coming from the indigenous Christian communities are not listened to, the children of the Christian component will find themselves faced with two possible choices: the first is "to demand the cancellation of the quota of seats reserved for them in the current electoral law", to prevent even those seats reserved for Christian candidates from being effectively occupied by people who do not effectively represent the needs of Iraq's Christian communities. Alternatively, if the call is made for the establishment of a specific electoral register, all that remains is the path of an electoral boycott.<br />The statement was signed by Dominican Najib Mikhael Moussa, Chaldean Archbishop of Musul, Mar Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf, Syrian Orthodox Bishop of Mosul, Mar Isaac Yousif, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Benedictos Younan Hano, Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, and Mar Chamoun Daniel, Bishop of the Ancient Church of the East. <br />After the legislative elections on October 10, 2021, as previously reported by Fides , controversies and tensions had already emerged around the distribution and method of assigning seats reserved for Christian candidates. At the time, the most explicit objections to the results of the electoral round had come from former Christian MP Joseph Sliwa, who went so far as to declare that the five new MPs awarded seats in this quota do not represent Iraqi Christians, given that according to him 90% of the votes cast in their favor had not actually come from Christian voters.<br />The accusation, which already emerged during the 2018 Iraqi general elections, calls into question major political formations, of Shiite and Kurdish origin, which according to critics, in the last rounds of elections diverted a part of their votes to candidates running for seats reserved for Christians in order to place MPs in those seats who were totally aligned with their political strategies. In 2021, Sliwa's accusations had been answered by Evan Faeq Yakoub Jabro, a former minister for refugees and migration in the outgoing government led by Mustafa al Kadhimi, who was elected with nearly 11,000 preferences to the new parliament in the ranks of the "Babylon Movement," and who had defended the transparency of the electoral process.<br />In the 2021 elections, it was precisely the "Babylon Movement" that had won as many as 4 of the 5 seats reserved for Christian candidates by the national electoral <br />system . <br />The Babylon Movement emerged as a political projection of the so-called "Babylon Brigades," an armed militia formed in the context of the military operations against Islamic State jihadists that led to the reconquest of the northern Iraqi areas that had fallen into jihadist hands in 2014. Led by Ryan al Kildani , the "Babylon Brigades" had always claimed their label as a militia composed of Christians, although their connection with pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as the Popular Protection Units was documented. The political acronym of the "Babylon Movement" is also considered to be close to the "Badr Organization," a political movement that in the elections had merged into the Fatah Alliance, a cartel grouping nine pro-Iranian Shiite acronyms and organizations. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:51:41 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Gospel translated into the Cuyonon language, to "connect with God" Princesa - Making the Gospel understandable and "connecting with God" the populations who speak the indigenous Cuyonon language, settled mainly on the island of Palawan and on other islands in the center of the Philippines: With this intention, a translation of the New Testament into the Cuyonon language was presented in Puerto Princesa, coinciding with the 151st anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in Palawan and at the time when the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Taytay celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Christian faith in the Palawan area, which took place in 1622, when the Augustinian Recollect missionaries arrived in the city of Cuyo.<br />The work, a "faithful translation" of the fifth edition of the Greek New Testament of the United Bible Societies, is an initiative of the "Philippine Bible Society", an ecumenical movement that brings together specialists and biblical scholars of different denominations.<br />During the presentation, Bishop Sócrates Mesiona, Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Princesa, pointed out that "the Word of God translated into a local language can be better understood by people. The ultimate goal of translating the Bible into an indigenous language like Cuyonon arises from an innate desire to relate more deeply to God," he said. "The Lord speaks to each one of us through his Word. By listening to it in our mother tongue, it will now be easier for us to understand his will, follow him and be his disciples", added the Bishop, speaking on behalf of the local community.<br />The Cuyonon version of the New Testament is a five-year work carried out by a team of translators and experts formed in 2017. Starting from a previous and pre-existing partial version, the Cuyonon Gospel has been updated, revised, completed.<br />Cuyonon is a regional language spoken in Palawan, Cuyo and neighboring islands. The Summer Institute of Linguistics classifies it as belonging to a subgroup of the Visayan, the largest ethnolinguistic group in the Philippines. People from other ethnic groups in Palawan are also fluent in this language because for centuries it was the "lingua franca" in Palawan province and was used until recently when the migratory flow of Luzon people increased rapidly. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:28:18 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Formation activities for catechists and lay people resume after three years of difficulties linked to the pandemic - Three years have passed since the life of the Catholic community in China began to be conditioned and, so to speak, "slowed down" due to the Covid 19 pandemic. At last now many ordinary activities of Catholic communities Chinese have been able to resume their normal rhythms and liveliness. An example is the case of the parish of Chaoyang, in the ecclesial community of Liaoning, where a formation course on the mission and the role of the laity in the life of the Church was held from March 20 to 22.<br />"While you walk the path of personal sanctification, you have the task of accompanying and guiding other believers, and helping the priest and the whole Church on the synodal path", said the parish priest, Father Zhao Yunlong, in the brief introductory presentation he gave at the beginning of the course. The priest encouraged the laity to take advantage of this precious opportunity to walk together in the daily life of the Church.<br />Father Xu Yinchen, the priest who led the course, explained the meaning of the word 'lay' and the exemplary story of many lay people who have contributed to building the Church in China. "Lay people are called to be light in the world and salt of the earth, to embody the life of faith in daily life with words and deeds, and to be an example for others. Especially lay people like you, who play an important role in parish life.<br />Chaoyang Parish, which is part of the southwestern deanery of Liaoning, has a community made up largely of elderly people who are nevertheless very lively and enterprising when it comes to engaging in pastoral and charitable works.<br />Among the many activities carried out by the parish community there are also community adoration, which is celebrated every day of the year, every afternoon from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., family visits, the collection for World Mission Day, destined for the seminary, disadvantaged families and students with financial difficulties, as well as recreational and sports activities in which families, children, youth, Catholics and non-Catholics participate. In addition, the community medical clinic has always served the entire local population.<br />In the formation course on the mission and the role of the laity in the life of the Church, more than seventy catechists, lay people active in the parish and leaders of groups from the base communities participated. During the solemn Eucharistic liturgy celebrated at the end of the course, the participants received the missionary mandate. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:17:04 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Migrants who died in Ciudad Juárez: "a sad reality that deeply challenges us all" Juarez - "A sad reality that challenges us, all of us, profoundly, that does not leave us alone", underlined the Bishop of Ciudad Juárez, Monsignor José Guadalupe Torres Campos, when celebrating the mass in honor of the 39 migrants killed on the night of March 27, around 10 p.m., due to a fire that broke out in a temporary center of the National Institute of Migration , in the state of Chihuahua, on the border between Mexico and the United States. The Bishop underlined the need for conversion, to change, putting the human person and his dignity at the centre. "Saving the person, seeing the person, a migrant and a refugee are a person, they are not a number or a statistic, but a person, a child of God, and we must treat them as a person, with dignity, with respect, with love", reiterated the Bishop.<br />Monsignor Torres Campos insisted on the need for conversion: "I have to convert, I in the first place, we all have to convert, change our mentality, our attitudes... not be selfish looking only for our own interests, of any kind, ideological, political, individual, commercial, personal... we have to change, convert ourselves!". He then urged us to look at "Jesus who is light, he is life, he is salvation, we must contemplate him, imitate him, follow him".<br />Responding to questions from journalists, the Bishop of Ciudad Juárez underlined the urgent need of carrying out a joint project on this matter, as well as a change in immigration policy by the federal government, which is responsible for this matter. He later ratified the regularization solution, "always respecting migrants, who are people." "We are all co-responsible for this situation", he added, "through indifference, through omission, through action…".<br />According to information gathered by Fides, the tragic events are still being investigated by the authorities. In protest at their transfer, some detained migrants reportedly started a riot, burning some mattresses, but the fire soon got out of control, causing the death of 39 people and injuring 29 others, of whom some 12 are in intensive care. Most of the migrants killed were men of Venezuelan nationality. In the center there were 68 migrants of different nationalities in the process of relocation. The migrants died intoxicated by the smoke, since, according to some witnesses, the guards refused to open the doors.<br />The Mexican prosecutor's office has announced that it has identified eight suspects considered responsible for these tragic events. Five of them apparently are security guards at the facility. The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has declared that those responsible will be punished "according to the law", guaranteeing the transparency of the investigation and "no impunity" for those responsible for the "painful tragedy".<br />The bishops of the border between Texas and Mexico have expressed their sorrow for the incident and have asked for "the safety of our migrant brothers and sisters, always offering them dignified and humane treatment." The Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network on Migration, Displaced Persons, Refugees and Human Trafficking has expressed its "ecclesial closeness, so that the right to migrate as well as not to migrate, is respected in all its extremes and the minimum conditions are met for a migration in which respect for human dignity prevails".<br />At yesterday's general audience, March 29, greeting the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, the Holy Father Francis invited them to pray with these words: "Let us pray for the migrants who died yesterday in a tragic fire in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, may the Lord receive you in his Kingdom and give comfort to your families. Let's pray for them". <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:02:45 +0200AFRICA/ZAMBIA - From Church founded by missionaries to missionary Church - "Out of a population of 19 million inhabitants, about 40% is Catholic, with variations from one diocese to another, according to the history of evangelization in each area", says to Fides Msgr. Ignatius Chama, Archbishop of Kasama and President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops , made up of the Bishops of 11 dioceses.<br />"Our challenge is the spread of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches and the Islamic faith. The latter has great resources to invest in social activities that attract the poorest segments of the population. There are two entry points for Muslim preaching: on the Tanzanian side and on the Malawian side", said Msgr. Chama, who stressed that "the Catholic Church in Zambia is highly appreciated for the many institutions that are made available to all Zambians: there are a good number of clinics and hospitals, from schools to universities".<br />On a social level, the President of the ZCCB states that "at the moment the greatest concern is the high unemployment which especially affects young people". The new government came to power in August 2021 on the basis of a program aimed at increasing employment, raising high hopes that have so far been dashed. Unfortunately, not only has the situation not changed but on the contrary the level of poverty continues to rise," underlines Msgr. Chama.<br />"The prices of basic necessities, including food, are high, largely due to the increase in fuel costs caused by the war in Europe. Fortunately, a large part of the population still lives in rural areas and can cultivate the land to get something to eat. Life in the city is harder because if you don't have a job you depend on someone else to survive. The most difficult situation is that of the inhabitants of the shanty towns of the cities".<br />From an ecclesial point of view, the Church in Zambia is largely run by the local clergy. "Most of our parishes are run by local clergy," says the President of the ZCCB. "And even when the parishes are in the hands of religious congregations, the religious who attend them are mostly Zambians. The percentage of foreign missionaries in our country is very small, compared to the local clergy".<br />"Our Church was founded by missionaries partly European and partly American," adds Msgr. Charles Joseph Sampa Kasonde, Bishop of Solwezi and Vice President of the ZCCB. "We are grateful to the White Fathers from France, Canada, Italy, Switzerland and the missionaries of other congregations in Ireland, Great Britain and other countries. These missionaries instilled in us the missionary spirit and now we have become a Church that sends missionaries abroad, to Europe, America and other areas, including our own country. We are very happy and hopeful for the missionary spirit that animates the younger generations, thanks also to the work of Missionary Childhood". <br />The Church in Zambia has deep fraternal ties with the Church of Malawi, a country recently affected by tropical cyclone Freddy . "As a Bishops' Conference, we immediately send aid to our brothers in Malawi, with whom we have very strong ties," says Msgr. Chama. "Our government did the same, which sent loads of food, clothing, blankets and medicine to our brothers and sisters in Malawi," added Msgr. Kasonde. "The peoples of Zambia and Malawi are very close, to the point that we feel almost the same country because of the ties that unite us, including the linguistic ones," concludes the Bishop of Solwezi. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 13:46:56 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Drought emergency in Turkana County: the population is in danger of a serious humanitarian crisis - While anti-government riots against the high cost of living continue throughout the country , the population of northern Kenya, in addition to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, is going through a serious humanitarian crisis. Five seasons without a drop of rain, a ruthless nature due to the scorching sun and a drought that has lasted for more than three years, make the living conditions of the inhabitants of Turkana, one of the 47 counties of Kenya located in the ex Rift Valley Province, inhuman and desperate. This is what Father Robbin Kamemba, Provincial Superior of the Society for African Missions in Kenya, told Agenzia Fides.<br />"Life here is hard, people walk more than 45 km in search of water, compared to the usual 2-3 km. Furthermore, due to the crops that have been lost, they are no longer able to obtain food for themselves and they are forced to rely on external aid", adds Fr. Kamemba. According to some scientists, some areas are at risk of no longer being suitable for grazing in the future.<br />Specifically, the SMA serves two mission areas in this part of Kenya, Lorugum and Namoruputh, diocese of Lodwar, which together cover an area of about 80 km2. As the missionary explained, these are configurations of rural communities that survive in the typical desert environment of northern Kenya and with the typical lifestyle of nomadic herders. "The communities in this area depend mainly on subsistence agriculture and grazing. The benefits and income from these two activities depend on the amount of rain. With the current situation of drought, which has reached a critical level, the negative impact on the life of the population makes itself felt painfully: livestock is exterminated, there is no income, food for one person is shared among three or four, diseases run rampant along with general despair among families, which break up at as each member disperses in search of food".<br />The serious repercussions also affect children who go to school. "Unfortunately - says Father Kamemba - there have been many deaths due mainly to hunger, premature births and other diseases related to malnutrition. Among them are anemia, stunting, kwashiorkor and marasmus which are a type of malnutrition commonly caused by insufficient protein intake and lack of energy".<br />In response to this emergency, the national government and local authorities, with the support of development partners, the private sector, non-state actors and goodwill of Kenyans, have intensified their interventions to protect people affected by this serious emergency. The SMA Fathers of the diocese of Lodwar, with the financial help of SMA Solidale Onlus in Italy and the Bresillac Foundation in the Netherlands, are also on the front line, and not only in their mission area, to respond to the appeal for help of the communities. "We distribute food, water and medicine. To date, more than 80 families have been reached, and the relief intervention will continue as long as the available funds allow it - explained Fr. Kamemba. This intervention of the SMA, and of the Church in general, is a concrete testimony of our closeness to the most abandoned, to the people of God in Lorugum and Namoruputh. Surely they experience God's Divine Providence even in the midst of so much suffering and emptiness".<br />Recently, Rebecca Miano, Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of East African Community, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and Regional Development, stated that the drought situation remains critical in 22 out of 23 counties. She stated that very high rates of children at risk of malnutrition have been observed in five counties, attributed to the continued decline in milk production and consumption, as well as low dietary diversity, poor infant feeding practices and reduced food intake at home. Miano stated that more than 4 million Kenyans are in desperate need of food aid and that 960,000 children are severely malnourished.<br />Meanwhile, Home and National Security Minister Kithure Kindiki announced that violent protests would no longer be allowed anywhere in Kenya. <br /><br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 13:23:38 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Appointment of vicar apostolic of Puerto Carreño City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed the Reverend Fr. Álvaro Mon Pérez, C.Ss.R., until now chaplain of the Colegio Seminario Redentorista San Clemente in Manizales, as vicar apostolic of Puerto Carreño, Colombia. <br />The Reverend Fr. Álvaro Mon Pérez, C.Ss.R., was born on 7 June 1962 in Corrales, Colombia. After completing the novitiate in the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer, he gave his first vows in 5 January 1992. He carried out his studies in philosophy and theology, and gave his perpetual vows on 31 July 1998. He was ordained a priest on 30 January 1999.<br />He has held the following offices: member of the Missionary Group of Bucaramanga ; parish priest, vicar of religious and superior of the community of the apostolic vicariate of Reyes, Bolivia ; member of the missionary group of Sogamoso ; member of the missionary group of Cali, Colombia, and bursar of the community ; provincial consultor ; member of the missionary group of Bogotá ; and parish priest in Sincelejo . Until how he has served as chaplain of the Colegio Seminario Redentorista San Clemente in Manizales. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 12:58:59 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of Auxiliary Bishop of Aizawl City - The Holy Father Francis has appointed the Reverend Joachim Walder, of the clergy of Aizawl, until now episcopal vicar of the Barak Valley Region, as auxiliary of the diocese of Aizawl, assigning him the titular see of Legia.<br />Msgr. Joachim Walder was born on 20 April 1956 in Nirkan, Bantwal Taluk, in the diocese of Mangalore, Karnataka State. He studied philosophy at Christ the King College, Shillong, and theology at Papal Seminary in Pune. He was ordained a priest on 26 April 1986 for the diocese of Aizawl.<br />He has held the following positions in Barak Valley: deputy parish priest of Holy Cross, Silchar, ; parish priest of Saint Joseph's, Badarpur and Sacred Heart, Kabuganj ; dean of the Barak Valley Deanery, Silchar ; parish priest of Saint Joseph's, Manikbond, and director of the school of the same name ; and director of Holy Cross School, Kabuganj . Since 2018, he has been episcopal vicar for the Barak Valley Region. <br />Thu, 30 Mar 2023 12:55:42 +0200