Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/LEBANON - Maronite Bishops say Syrian refugees must be repatriated without waiting for political solution to the conflict <br />Bkerké – Lebanon “can no longer carry the weight of Syrian refugees”, and therefore it is necessary to “dissociate the political solution of the conflict in Syria from the necessary return of the displaced to their homes ". This urgent matter was underlined once again by the Maronite Bishops on the occasion of their latest monthly assembly, hosted on 6 December by the Patriarchal See of Bkerké. The Maronite Bishops insist that the repatriation of Syrian refugees must be started without waiting for a complete political solution to the conflict which has tormented Syria since 2011. <br />On 30 November the Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil had a meeting in the Vatican with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, for clarification and reassurance regarding the position of the Holy See on the question of the repatriation of Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Lebanon. During the meeting the Lebanese minster explained to Archbishop Gallagher the serious reasons for which Lebanon cannot continue to bear for much longer the economic and security weight of the emergency connected also with the presence on Lebanese territory of more than one million Syrian refugees. <br />“Lebanon asks simply that no obstacle will prevent the safe return of those refugees wishing to return” said Gebran Bassil in a statement issued following the meeting with Archbishop Gallagher. <br />Before the meeting between the Lebanese minister and the high ranking Vatican official, certain considerations attributed to Archbishop Gallagher had drawn comments from the Lebanese media according to which the present situation in Syria could render impracticable the albeit desired repatriation of Syrian refugees .<br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:52:03 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Arshad: “May Baptised Christians be promoters of peace and hope”<br />Islamabad – “Today there is urgent need of peace and hope in this city and indeed all over the country. The people are destitute and losing hope. As Christians in the Catholic diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, we must be ambassadors of peace and hope, not only for the local Church but for the whole of society”. With these words Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi announced that 2019 will be a Year of Peace and Hope for the diocese. Fides learned that the Archbishop said: "Jesus is our peace and our hope. He is the prince of peace. Peace and hope are two important Christian values”. He went on to say: “I call on all our priests, religious, laity, church groups and Catholic institutes to take a step forward and play their role and commitment to promote these two values”.<br />In every parish in the diocese the Year of Peace and Hope will be inaugurated on January 1 2019, in conjunction with the World Day of Peace and the reading out of the special Papal Message. <br />In his pastoral letter issued for the occasion, Mons Arshad states: “The words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:" Blessed are the peace makers” <br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:11:27 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Jesuit project: providing aid for migrants and fighting xenophobia - Material assistance while fighting a cultural battle against rising xenophobia: these are the pillars of a project to assist Venezuelans fleeing their country launched by the Jesuits in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the support of North American and European brother Jesuits. <br />Venezuela is a country deep in crisis. Years of command and dependence politics have weakened the entrepreneur capacity and dynamism of business operators. Falling prices of oil, the country’s main resource, undermine its financial system. <br />In recent years, some 15,000 companies have closed and inflation has reached 1.200%. The country lacks everything: clean water, electricity, basic necessities, medicine, petrol. The people stand in never ending lines to purchase food at reasonable prices, milk, rice, bread, pasta, butter.<br />In the face of this tragedy, Venezuelans are fleeing the country . Between 2015 and 2017 more than one million Venezuelans sought refuge in Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Ecuador. In these 5 last years an estimated one in every 20 Venezuelan left the country. These displaced people live in difficult conditions. They lack food for immediate subsistence.<br />In this context the Jesuits have launched a project of humanitarian and emergency assistance on the borders of Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil consisting not only of basic needs , but also legal assistance to regulate a state of immigration and health-psychosocial care for the most vulnerable .<br />The project of the Company of Jesus goes further than just ordinary humanitarian assistance: the continual arrival of refugees is causing growing diffidence in their regard among the local people. This attitude leads to xenophobic reaction manifested in constant abuse. This is why the Jesuits have started cultural activities promoting reception.<br />"Our aim - Venezuelan Jesuits explain in a report sent to Fides - is to mitigate the impact of the crisis on the people. We not only offer the refugees, help and assistance we intend to counter growing xenophobia in the receiving countries and promote a culture of hospitality. We are considering a situation of forced emigration in Venezuela that gives first place to the rights of migrants. The results of our studies will be made available to all Venezuelans and be accompanied with campaigns to counter attitudes of rejection of migrants and foster instead an approach of welcoming ". <br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 16:05:45 +0100ASIA/INDIA - A remote diocese in the North East now has the largest church in the whole of Arunachal Pradesh<br />Miao - In a small village in the district of Changlang, in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, north east India, the largest church in this Indian state was recently blessed and consecrated. Fides was told that in Neotan, a village in Arunachal Pradesh on the border with Myanmar, in the Catholic diocese of Miao, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, presided on December 5 a solemn Mass for the blessing and inauguration of the church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The concelebrants included Bishop George Pallipparambil of the diocese of Miao, and other bishops with the participation of 2,000 faithful, all seated inside the spacious church building .<br />"Today ever more necessary is the message of peace, love and forgiveness, preached by Jesus. In India today, marked by hatred, discrimination, polarization, the message of the Gospel can be a remedy for wounded relations and heal hearts " said Bishop Mascarenhas.<br />The village welcomed the first seed of the Christian faith 19 years ago and today the local Catholic community rejoices for a new church, which took two years to complete and was built thanks to the voluntary labour and sacrifices of the faithful. "The people of Neotan, a small Mossang tribal community are proud to have the largest church in Arunachal Pradesh", the parish priest Rev. Felix Anthony told Fides.<br />The diocese of Miao, situated along the border of the North Eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, was previously considered almost inaccessible. Inhabited by Mongol ethnic groups often in conflict among themselves, up until 20 years ago, this area was barred for the Church. <br /><br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 19:33:05 +0100AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Auxiliary Bishop of Maputo appointed<br />Vatican City – The Holy Father Pope Francis appointed Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maputo Rev. António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo of the clergy of Chimoio, until now parish priest of the Cathedral, assigning to him the titular see of Arsennaria.<br />Rev. António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo was born in Soalpo , province of Manica, 20 March 1968. Following primary and secondary schools in Soalpo he attended the Good Shepherd Propaedeutic Seminary in Beira , the St Augustine Inter-diocesan Philosophy Seminary in Matola and the St Pius X Inter-diocesan Theology Seminary in Maputo . He was ordained a priest 28 June 1998 for the Diocese of Chimoio.<br />Since his ordination he has served as follows: 1998-2002 parish vicar Nossa Senhora Rainha do Moudo a Dombe and Nossa Senhora das Reliquias in Sussundenga; 1998-2001 Coordinator of the diocesan Liturgy Commission; 2001-2003 Coordinator of the diocesan Commission for Youth; 2002-2005 Parish Administrator São Pedro e São Paulo in Marera and Director of the Polyvalent Centre; Cofounder of two Non Profit Associations: Kimatsirama – for the prevention and assistance of young people with HIV/AIDS – and Cadeia de Solidariedade – to assist young people in situations of poverty and abandon; 2005-2009 Studies in Portugal, for a Licence in Dogmatic Theology , a Licence in Anthropology and a masters in African Studies ; 2010-2014 Parish priest at São Paulo and São Jerônimo in Soalpo; Coordinator of Diocesan Pastoral; since 2010 Dean of diocesan priests in Chimoio.<br />At present he is parish priest of the Cathedral, Episcopal Vicar Central Zone, a member of the diocesan Council of Presbyters ; Secretary of the Bishops’ Episcopal Commission for culture, docent of Anthropology at the Catholic University of Mozambique. <br /><br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 19:03:47 +0100AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Bishop of Kaya resigns, successor appointed<br /><br />Vatican City – The Holy Father, Pope Francis accepted the renunciation of the pastoral government of the diocese of Kaya , presented by Bishop Thomas Kaboré. The Holy Father appointed Bishop of Kaya, Théophile Nare of the clergy of Koupéla, former rector of the Major Inter-diocesan St. Pierre Claver Seminary in Koumi .<br />Rev. Théophile Nare was born 7 July 1966 in Yargo, Archdiocese of Koupéla, he studied philosophy and theology in his home country respectively at the Major Inter-diocesan Seminary of St Jean Baptiste of Wayalghin , and the Major Inter-diocesan Seminary St Pierre Claver in Koumi . He was ordained a priest on 8 July 1995. He then obtained a Licence in Holy Scripture at the Biblicum and at the École Biblique of Jerusalem, and a certificate in Formation for Educators of the Clergy IFEC).<br />Since his ordination he served as follows: 1995-2000 Parish Vicar of Koupéla Cathedral; 2000-2005 Studies in Rome, Jerusalem and Paris; 2005-2006 parish administrator of Koupéla Cathedral ; 2006-2011 Docent of Exegesis at St Jean Baptiste major theological seminary in Wayalghin; 2011-2018 Rector and Docent of Exegesis at St Pierre Claver Major Theological Seminary of Koumi . <br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 18:30:19 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Alindao Massacre; Cardinal Nzapalainga calls for an international inquiry<br /><br />Bangui -“We ask for an international enquiry into the massacre in Alindao” said Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archbishop Bangui, who went to the town in south-east of Central Africa where on 15 November ex Seleka rebels of the UPS under general Ali Darassa killed at least 60 persons most of them homeless people sheltering in a camp close to the cathedral . The camp was sacked and destroyed and there were two victims Vicar General, Mons. Blaise Mada, and rev. don Celestine Ngoumbango, parish priest in Mingala.<br />The Cardinal launched an appeal to the international community to assumes its responsibilities regarding events in Central Africa, in particular because reportedly UN Peace Keeping troops MINUSCA on the ground did nothing to protect civilians <br />“You come in the name of the international community to offer us help, protection and safety” said Cardinal Nzapalainga speaking over the radio of the platform of Religious Confessions in Central Africa . “Now here we see that certain forces instead of protecting the people leave them to their plight. Civilians are being killed in Alindao and elsewhere. How else can what we have seen be explained, burned human remains, homes and churches? I ask for an international inquiry to be opened to find the truth of the massacres and let justice be done ” concluded the Cardinal. <br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 12:01:59 +0100ASIA/CHINA - Advent young people principal actors An –Young members of the local Seraphim Movement were the principal actors on the solemnity of Christ the King and continue mission work through Advent in Christ the King parish in the archdiocese of Xi An . Mons. Antonio Dang MingYan thanked the faithful for their activity in particular the young people for the missionary spirit they give to the community. The solemn celebration of Christ the King that marks the start of the new Liturgical Year was celebrated with a youth procession carrying the icon Christ the King through the streets of the parish. The parish priest recalled the path of faith and evangelisation in this church rebuilt in 2002 calling all the faithful to continue to be “salt, light and leaven in the life of the Church and also in society which has a deep thirst for the Message of Christ”. At the end of the celebration the young people renewed their desire to be faithful to the Gospel and to be missionaries of the love God’s love. <br />The youth Seraphim Movement is very active in the life of the local Church. A report to Fides said that it was formed in 2012 by the Pastoral Commission of the archdiocese of Xi An . The community has two branches: university students and young workers. It organises prayers and pastoral activity, visits to the homes for the elderly and orphanages. On the occasion of the Synod dedicated to Youth, held in Rome, the community members made a pilgrimage to a local Shrine in Honour of the Holy Cross walking 40 Km in the pouring rain. <br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 11:40:53 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - San Felipe de Jesús Foundation pulls children away from streets, mafia and exploiters <br />Mexico City – Street children are "invisible: no one sees them", says Rev Francisco Crisanto, diocesan priest and director of the Foundation “Fondazione San Felipe de Jesús” FSFJ, which years ago reorganised and “Hogares Providencia” activity started by Spanish Scolopian priest Fr. Chinchachoma. "To render them visible was his great undertaking " says Rev. Cristanto. On arriving in Mexico Fr. Chinchachoma established contact with street children. They came in from the countryside and slept in the city parks and wastelands, bus stations, under bridges. Fr Chinchachoma "approached them with respect, embracing them, calling them by name ". This was how Providence Home “Hogares Providencia” started.<br />Fr Crisanto took over a year after the death of Fr Chinchachoma. Earlier he had started “Fondazione San Felipe de Jesús” for street children, in response to a plea for help from a parish. "I was moved as I saw the children coming: dirty, drugged,...". This is why the Foundation took the name of the parish where he was serving. "An extremely poor parish close to the main bus station. The ideal place for street children. But before I never noticed them at all " the priest admitted. <br />The first 15-20 children slept in churches on benches, on steps ... until, thanks to relations of the famous comedian Cantinflas and their Foundation, a refectory was opened. In 1999 don Crisanto took over the direction of Hogares Providencia of the deceased Fr Chinchachoma, who at the time was caring for 144 children and adolescents in 14 homes, which by the time he resigned the homes were 17 and the guests were 200. When he resumed the direction of the FSFJ, "the situation had changed". <br />"Today we work mainly with prevention, because today there are hardly any children on the streets " he explains. "In Mexico City there are less than 1,000 whereas in those days there were 6.000. Nowadays they remain in the cities of the province, and those who you do find on the streets have a family to go to in the evening although they suffer from affective, emotional and moral poverty ”. Most of them work. Many are recruited by the mafia, often for prostitution. "They are good hearted children who wash windscreens at traffic lights and do other little jobs. And they bring money home " says Rev Francisco. <br />The Foundation cares for about a thousand minors offering psychological therapy, activity of sports and art helping them "to develop the resilience needed to face so many difficulties. Above all, as Fr Chinchachoma used to say, we give them what they need most: love and attention, without which they become victims of drugs, alcohol and violence ". The threat of delinquency threatens the Foundation: a short time ago one of the educators was kidnapped and two more beaten up, following a complaint about a false rehabilitation centre which recruited the children and obliged them to work. <br />The FSFJ staff go out in search of the children and take them to the Foundation where they are inserted in the school system. "We also visit schools to help children who find it difficult to settle in and to prevent the development of drug dependence ". But the flower in our buttonhole is a support programme by grandparents that increasingly take the place of parents - who work all day and in a city with immense distances – in caring for grandchildren. "It works very well: it consists of emotional and emotional accompaniment. The grandparents are more lively and awake and their health improves ". <br />The Foundation lives off the products it produces and sells to third parties. Government assistance has diminished due to the economic crisis, but Rev. Cristanto puts his hope in the new government about to be convoked as the chairman of social actors has promised, to identify solutions together. In 20 years the Fondazione San Felipe de Jesús has assisted 13 thousand street children and adolescents. Today it works in districts with greater numbers of vulnerable minors, at school centres and day centres. <br /><br />Fri, 07 Dec 2018 11:11:18 +0100ASIA/IRAQ -Christian woman candidate for Ministry of Refugees boycotted by Christian MPs<br />Baghdad – There is also the name of MS Hana Emmanuel Gorgis among the names that Iraqi Premier Adel Abdul Mahdi wishes to add to the list of ministers in the government in Iraq, still not complete although seven months have passed since the elections . Hana Emmanuel, for Adel Abdul Mahdi, should be head of the ministry for emigration and refugees, charged with dealing with political and administrative issues affecting the conditions of Christian communities Iraq. But dissent regarding the possible appointment of the Christian to head the government ministry has been expressed by MPs elected in seats reserved for Christian minority members, including the two women MPs belonging to the movement Babylon Brigade . <br />The Christian MPs opposed to the appointment of Hana Emmanuel Gorgis motivated their decision – harshly criticized by Emmanuel Khoshaba, member of the Rafidain Assyrian Coalition he too elected in the quota of seats reserved for Christians – declaring that the choice of the Premier depends of interference of ecclesiastical matrix. <br />Opposition in the part of Christian MPs regarding the entry of a Christian in the Iraqi government represents an ulterior pointer to political fragmentation among the different Christian communities in Iraq. <br />The parliamentary vote to appoint the heads of eight ministries still lacking a minister has been postponed to next week due to disagreement regarding the attribution of key posts such as defence and home affairs. The appointment of the eight ministers had already been rejected in parliamentary session in October which approved the assignment of the other 14 government departments. According to many analysts, the block to a definitive passing of the Iraqi government is caused by rivalry among the principal political formations of Shi’ite matrix. .<br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 17:33:45 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - “We must not lose our moral values if we are to live in a healthy society ” warn the Bishops<br />Nairobi – A society cannot be united if it loses its moral values. We learn from the Bible that Sodom and Gomorrah became a symbol of a decadent society, whose moral fabric was systematically eroded” the Bishops of Kenya write in a statement issued at the end of their plenary assembly, in which they assess the present state of the country . <br />In the document sent to Fides the Bishops denounce various forms of threats: child abuse; child pregnancy; abortion. “United with the Holy Father and all the bishops of the world we are close to the victims of sexual abuse and all forms of violence against minors and vulnerable adults”.<br />“The violence and evil committed against minors and vulnerable members of a society is a sign of a morally sick society. As your shepherds we shall do everything possible to implement policies on child protection and safeguarding of these vulnerable members and require all who work with minors to commit themselves to these policies”.<br />Another issue denounced by the Bishops is promiscuity and increased cases of pregnant school girls rise in cases involving abortions, often encouraged by the media . “Let us be wary of multinational companies and commercial adverts that advocate freedom of choice and easy solutions of self-exaltation that goes against the very moral law of God ” the Bishops warn.<br />At the economic e social levels the document denounces “the suffering of farmers in our Country who, after labouring so much to produce their crops cannot find the market for their produce. The people economically destroying the livelihoods of our farmers are those who connive and are allowed to import maize, sugar, rice and other commodities from outside yet the commodities are found in plenty within our Country. ”<br />The bishops also express concern for that the fact that certain politicians continue to instigate clashes and division among the different communities for electoral purposes. The Bishops acknowledge the efforts being made in the fight against corruption that has infiltrated every aspect of society<br />Wasting of public monies leads to public services of scarce quality with taxation striking the weaker members of the population, the Bishops recall. <br />The discovery of natural resources to exploit such as minerals and oil must lead to real benefits for all Kenyans. “The Government has a responsibility to provide clarity on any mining and oil exploration projects before it gives the go ahead for commencement. All effort must be placed towards building citizen confidence and trust in the governance of natural resources. Lack of clarity, transparency, and non-adherence to the law, are a recipe for chaos and resource curse that has befallen many countries in Africa. The message refers to the phenomenon on the basis of which a country with more mineral and hydrocarbon tends to have less economic growth and development compared with countries with less natural resources. <br /><br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 17:00:38 +0100AFRICA - Missionaries at the service of the poorest and most rejected people carrying the good news of the Gospel<br /><br />Kara – “In the remote parts of our villages and cities in Africa we carry forward the cause of the Gospel, putting ourselves at the service of the poor and the marginalised”: Fides was told by Ivorian priest Donald Zagore a missionary of the Society of African Missions . Founded 8 December in 1856 in Lyons in France by Bishop Marion De Bresillac, the Society of African Missions prepares to celebrate 162 years of service facing challenges of all kinds, climatic, political, cultural, as well as linguistic and religious barriers. <br />“With schools, dispensaries, pharmacists, schooling, rehabilitation of former prison inmates, street children we SMA fathers strive to render the Good News of Christ a tangible reality for the poor in Africa” the missionary says.<br />And recalls: “We are called to offer hope to the poor. Christ says in his Gospel: ‘“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,<br />to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord". The poorest of the poor were at the centre of the mission of Christ. Jesus was for them a great source of hope”. <br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 16:11:45 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - “In the name of God stop extrajudicial homicide”: bishop's message for Advent<br />Manila - “Extrajudicial homicide is always wrong even when it means killing a criminal. This is our desperate plea at this time of Advent and Christmas: for the love of God, stop these murders! Let healing begin|” this appeal to Fides comes from Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, head of the diocese of Kalookan and Vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines .<br />The bishop says that to tackle seriously the problems of drug trafficking and drug dependence the right path is not “eliminating drug addicts”, the way chosen by the anti-drug campaign launched by the President Rodrigo Duterte. It is necessary instead to consolidate rehabilitation progammes for those dependent on harmful substances. Bishop David told Fides that “people addicted to drugs need adequate rehabilitation to overcome this dependence, it is not possible to think that the way is to eliminate these people”.<br />This is why the Catholic Church in the Philippines offers support: the diocese of Kalookan, like 86 other dioceses in the country, runs rehabilitation programmes for persons addicted to drugs and support for the families in particular guaranteeing education programmes and scholarships.<br />The President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte launched a "war on drugs" following his election in 2016. According to official data, the police has killed some 5,000 suspects in raids aimed at capturing drug pushers, but human rights organizations say the number of those killed, including extrajudicial killing by squadrons of "vigilantes" , amount to four times as much. NGO say the "war on drugs" has killed some 20 thousand innocent victims, executed summarily in what is called “systematic extermination” of drug addicts in the poorest communities. The police rejects the accusations and says the killings regard drug pushers resisting arrest.<br />Once Bishop David described his diocese Kalookan an "extermination camp ", vigorously denouncing extrajudicial homicides. "The war on illegal drugs must be implacable but these killings must be stopped " the Bishop said in a public plea. <br />Amidst an apparent “normalisation of violence”, the Bishop never tires of preaching the principle of non-violence: "We will never allow our actions be motivated by anger, hatred, revenge. We will not let evil have the last word. We will not allow the enemy to shape us in his image and likeness ", he repeats. "We cannot passively allow this senseless killing just because some of us think it is good for society ", he states. For these public stances the Bishop has incurred in the hostility of President Duterte. <br />The Bishop says “drug dependence is a serious sickness which must be treated with rehabilitation not bullets”. Even people who make mistakes deserve a second chance : "This is one of the most important principles of our Christian faith: we all live only thanks to the mercy of a God who forgives. Who are we to condemn if our God forgives? Which of us does not commit errors?” the Bishop asks<br />Bishop David addresses also the recent killing of Filipino priests, which shook the Church: "Those priests show us just how precious the priesthood is. They are martyrs who gave their lives to care for the flock entrusted to them ". <br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 15:45:03 +0100AMERICA/BRAZIL - Year of the Laity closes and lay mission in the society and civil participation begins.<br />Brasilia - The Year of the Laity "has been a time of grace dedicated to reflection on the mission of lay Catholics not only among and with the laity but together with the whole Church ", and it will continue with more capillary and in depth formation , to help lay people to be active players in evangelization and the construction of a society more human, just and fraternal, conscious that they are " ecclesial and social subjects". Marilza Lopes Schuina, president National Laity Council of Brazil CNLB, syntheses for Fides in this way the Year lived by the Church in Brazil and closed with the solemnity of Christ the King . <br />At the regional, diocesan and parish, the local Church reflected in the role of the laity setting up new Laity Councils in dioceses and parishes where they did not exist, with the prospect of participation in life as citizens and public management. The CNLB chairperson admits that "lay activity is present mostly within pastoral service in the life of the Church, where it is not always acknowledged and has little say in decision-making ". Ms Schuina stresses the need for "more participation in pastoral and economic councils, in meetings and initiatives of an out-going Church , in which the laity have a major contribution to offer". <br />"The laity are an ecclesial and social subject" continues Marilza Lopes Schuina, "which must work not only ad intra. Its mission is clear: to be a presence prophetic, priestly and regal" of the Church active in the social tissue. An enormous potential because the laity "is Church in ambits of society not reached by the clergy ". During the Year of the Laity, Marilza says, steps forward have been made in understanding the mission of the laity not limited to the celebrative aspect "but moving on to action". <br />Important initiatives in this year have included the opening of 29 more Faith and Politics Schools , in addition to the 80 already present for the study of the Church’s Social Doctrine and its application in the activity of the laity, urged to become members of committees, district, cooperatives, unions, associations, Councils of Education and Health, political parties ... "The Pope insists on participation in these ambits" Marilza underlines, recalling that the field of politics is one of the most urgent . For the laity, "still too closed in the internal activity of church life", what is needed is “more awareness of being Christians” called to "give first place to the Gospel and defense of life in every sense ". <br />Too many Catholics feel they have done their duty by "going to Mass and performing charitable works ". But "the call of the laity", says Schuina, " is more than an invitation" to avoid a sterile lay vocation, the call is "to open to others which means opening to God, the way to personal realization and happiness ". Then the action ”the Holy Spirit is seen. In response to the calling grace works ". <br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:12:03 +0100AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Priest attacked in the cathedral with sulfuric acid<br />Managua – Yesterday 5 December in the afternoon, rev Mario Guevara, aged 59 vicar of Managua Cathedral, suffered a sulfuric acid attack when a 24 year old woman threw the acid on the priest’s face and body while he was in the cathedral hearing confessions. A report of the incident sent to Fides said the rector of the cathedral took Rev. Mario Guevara immediately to hospital for treatment. Despite serious burns the priest’s conditions appears stable. The woman, detained by people in the cathedral as she tried to escape, was arrested by the police. The statement from the archdiocese asks for prayers for the health and full recovery of Rev Mario who suffers from diabetes, and asks the faithful to unite in prayer“ for all our priests during this Novena of the feast of the Immaculate Conception”. <br /><br />Thu, 06 Dec 2018 09:55:38 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAFRICA - The murderers of Alindao attack another camp run by the local Church<br />Bangui – Another displaced persons camp run by the local Church in Ippy south east Central African Republic, was attacked yesterday 4 December by men of the UPC led by Ali Darassa, the same group responsible for the massacre perpetrated on 15 November in Alindao, which left 60 people dead, including two priests .<br />The details were sent to Fides. The attack started at about 10am, In Ippy were forced seek shelter in the bush under fire by UPC combatants. "The UPC rebels started shooting and the people ran in all directions” said an eyewitness who watched the attack from his hiding place. “The UN peacekeepers are present but do nothing to stop the aggressors from committing abuses” said the angry local source. The President of the peace committee in the town of Ippy, Fr. Roger Stanislas Djamawa, denounced that the CentralAfricans were left to their plight. At present the number of the victims is not known. According to a local source three people among them two children were seriously injured. <br /><br /><br /><br />Wed, 05 Dec 2018 15:52:09 +0100AFRICA/EGYPT - Copt Patriarch praises Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman and announces a visit to Arabia<br />Cairo – Saudi Arabia is an essential “pillar” of the Muslim Arab world and the recent meetings by the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud at all levels are much appreciated because they reveal a modern vision and kindle ‘great hopes’ for the future of that country and the whole international community. This is the opinion of Copt Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II in an interview with Arab News, during which the Primate of the Copt Orthodox Church also pre-announced a future visit in Saudi Arabia, at the invitation of Prince Mohammad Bin Salman himself. The two men met in March 2018, during the Crown Prince’s visit to Egypt. <br />In the same interview the Patriarch described as “unnatural” the exodus of Christians from wide areas of the Middle East, known for co-existence of Jews, Christians and Muslims . Pope Tawadros also said that in Egypt the numbers of Christians who emigrate have diminished considerably, since the country began to regain its political stability.<br />On Sunday 2 November for the very first time, a Copt Divine Liturgy was celebrated in Saudi Arabia, with the permission of the authorities. The Liturgy was celebrated at the home of a Copt resident in Saudi Arabia Anba Morkos, Copt Bishop of Shobra El Kheima, with the participation of several families of Egyptian Christian immigrants. .<br />Wed, 05 Dec 2018 13:22:21 +0100ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - In Advent the local Church gives new impulse to campaign to abolish death penalty<br /> <br /><br />Seoul – The Catholic Church in South Korea is giving new impulse during the period of Advent to the campaign to abolish the death penalty in the country. Fides heard from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops of S. Korea that it has called on all the faithful and all citizens of good will to sign this Advent 2018 a petition asking the Korean government to abrogate capital punishment from the national legislative system. This is the fourth time that the Catholic Church in Korea participates actively in a signature collection to abolish capital punishment and life imprisonment.<br />The petition, signed symbolically by Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, and by the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea, archbishop Igino Kim Hee-joong, and numerous other prominent Catholics will be diffused in all Catholic dioceses and parishes where the faithful will be encouraged to sign the petition after the Sunday Mass. The goal is to conclude the new petition by 31 December and present it to the 20th National Assembly.<br />In recent years seven special initiatives for the abolition of the death penalty have been presented to the Korean Parliament. The Catholic Church in Korea presented signatures to Congress in 2005, 2008 and in 2012 the latter petition bore 85,000 signatures including all 26 of Korea’s Catholic bishops. <br />The Korean church decided to re-launch the abolition campaign following indications of Pope Francis who in recent months altered the norms of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the matter which reads : “the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” . <br />South Korea is classified as a country "abolitionist de facto", since the last capital punishment dates to the year 1997. In this country capital punishment it still technically in force for grave crimes. <br />Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:53:08 +0100AFRICA/MALAWI - PMS meeting in view of preparations for Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019<br />Lilongwe - “As Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies you bear the burden of convincing priests, religious and laity in your local Churches to cooperate with the different mission activities promoted every year by the PMS. This requires catechesis theological, spiritual and pastoral on the Church’s missionary nature” said Fr. Joseph Kimu, Director of Radio Maria Malawi at a regional meeting of national and diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Malawi and Zambia. The regional meeting was held at the Montfort Lake Congress Centre” in the diocese of Mangochi in Malawi, to discuss modalities of evangelisation and missionary cooperation in the region. The initiative is part of preparations for the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October 2019.<br />In his intervention the National PMS Director of Zambia, Fr. Edwin Mulandu, highlighted the nature, mission and ecclesiological missionary role of the PMS today. Fr. Mulandu said what is needed is a global approach in mission animation, he encouraged the participation of the lay faithful in missionary cooperation, and he stressed the need to instil missionary awareness in children the elderly, with an integrated approach to the promotion of all four Mission Societies. <br /><br />Wed, 05 Dec 2018 12:14:51 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Silsilah Message for Advent: “Bearing witness to the faith in a spirit of dialogue”<br />Zamboanga – The season of Advent is a path of preparation for Christmas: a good time to reflect on the mission of Christians called to share their faith in a spirit of dialogue also with followers of other religions. This happens as preparations start in view of celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021” said in a message issued by the Silsilah movement for Islam-Christian dialogue started in the Philippines by PIME Missionary Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra. The message sent to Fides underlines the urgency of this witness “at this most dangerous time in human history when some religions are used as means of division at the national and international level.<br />It is also true in the Philippines and most visible in certain parts of Mindanao where some Muslim groups try to change the attitude of others, Muslims and non, who belong to different Muslim groups”.<br />“This message –Silsilah affirms– is an opportunity to invite Christians to reflect on the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. This great event in the history of humanity is lived amidst many contradictions even by Christians. Advent and Christmas are special times of the year and Christians are encouraged to prepare spiritually. In certain areas of Mindanao, in the past Muslims shared the joy of Christmas with the local Christians, but no longer”.<br />The message continues: “the growing deterioration of Christian Muslim relations in several parts of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, must be accepted with sadness but should prompt reflection . Christians during Advent are urged to relive the coming of Jesus who brings his message of love and salvation . If this message is not received today it is because many Christians fail to live the real spirit of the celebration ”.<br />“Therefore with this message we challenge Christians to asks themselves why they are not faithful to this Liturgical Season. We believe that today more than ever we must reflect on how we bear witness to our faith and how we share God’s love with all people. We wish to say to Muslims that respect, love and forgiveness are fundamental pillars of Islam which we respect. Certainly relations between Muslims and Christians can improve: and this is our hope and prayer”. <br />Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:49:45 +0100