Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PAKISTAN - Civil society protests and an appeal is launched to the authorities for the abduction of a Catholic girl – To protest and ask for the intervention of the authorities for the abduction and forced conversion of Arzoo Raja, a 13-year-old minor girl resident of Railway Colony of Karachi City: this is the purpose of the demonstration organized by citizens of Karachi, Christians, Hindus and Muslims, gathered today, 24 October, at Karachi Press Club. Those present deplored yet another episode of violence against a Christian girl: On the morning of 13th October 2020 Arzoo went out to the shop and never returned. She was kidnapped, converted to Islam and married her 44-year-old abductor, a Muslim .<br />The protest was organized and led by the "National Peace Committee Interfaith Harmony" in collaboration with the other Human Rights and civil society and political party groups. The <br />protesters chanted slogans for the girl's return to the family and the punishment of the kidnappers.<br />Nasir Raza, Chairman of the Committee in the Sindh region, said: "We demand justice for Arzoo Raja and also demand for the effective measures to be taken immediately for the protection of non-Muslim girls. Ali Azhar, abductor of the girl, a 44 year old man should be arrested and punished for abducting a minor girl, and forcing her to conversion of religion and for marrying him". The episode goes against the Child Protection Act and the Child Marriage Act, "and is enough to punish the abductors also in this whole process of making the fake documents and marriage certificate".<br />Anthony Naveed, member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, representative of the Pakistan People's Party, at the head of a committee formed by the Catholic Church and the Church of Pakistan, speaking to Fides, said: "The hearing of the case has begun and the judge will soon issue an order. We have submitted documents to the court certifying that Arzoo Raja is a minor. The abductor's defenders submitted the documents to attest the girl's free will for her conversion to Islam and marriage. We contest these false statements".<br />Asad Butt, vice Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Karachi said: "Every human being has the right to freedom, nobody can be forced to change religion and marry anyone. The case should be dealt with under the Child Marriage Act. Everyone involved in this incident should be punished according to the law".<br />Sabir Michael, a human and minority rights activist comments to Fides: "It is alarming to see the rise in the cases of abduction and forced conversion, especially regarding women belonging to religious minorities. We strongly condemn this episode and urge the government of Pakistan and the government of Sindh to make every possible effort to protect the girls and bring justice to the victims of such cases. Such cases negatively affect the image of our country and weaken Pakistan's position in the United Nations". <br />Sat, 24 Oct 2020 17:57:19 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Covid-19: psychological support offered by the eight Episcopal Conferences of East Africa - "Spiritual support is a necessity amidst the pandemic", says Fr. Emmanuel Chimombo, Pastoral Coordinator of AMECEA , speaking of the program launched in August aimed at providing spiritual and psychosocial services to people who have been affected in various ways by the Covid-19 pandemic.<br /> "Most people never connected Covid-19 with psychological torture which can lead to worry, but through this program it has strongly come out that the pandemic brought anxiety".<br />The overall objective of the program is to provide a common platform for the Episcopal Conferences of the AMECEA region to share experiences, provide toolkits and materials for psychosocial and pastoral assistance services to communities and people affected and infected by Covid-19.<br />The guidelines issued by various States within the region to help contain the spread of Coronavirus including curfews, working from home, lockdown and keeping social distance among others have affected the social and spiritual lives of so many people in the society. <br />"We are social beings and isolation is not normal for us", recalls Fr. Chimombo. "The stringent measures issued by governments made people feel somehow ostracized. Therefore, the spiritual and psycho-social program is giving opportunity to people who are isolated and traumatized to find accompaniment and solace".<br />By offering individual consultations, each Episcopal Conference has a qualified consultant who makes his service available free of charge over the telephone. Each Episcopal Conference has designated a radio station with broad coverage where the consultant answers listeners' questions for about an hour a day.<br />Father Chimombo underlines that the program in question has made it possible to understand that many people lived in ignorance or lack of knowledge of Covid-19. <br />Some had misconception about the pandemic while others simply did not know how to handle the situation.<br />The use of radio platform which was aimed at reaching the people in rural areas, says Fr. Chimombo, " was an eye opener and it gave opportunity to people to ask questions and get professional responses". Most of the people who contacted the service expressed economic and family concerns.<br />The program has not, for the time being, been able to reach all the populations of the region because "the few radios selected limit the scope of reach while some conferences like Ethiopia do not even have a national Catholic radio station, and this hinders effective implementation of the project as designed", says Fr. Chimombo who concludes: " There is need for creation of a counselling desk in conferences which is not necessarily for Covid-19 but to help the many people who are suffering silently and need psycho-social support". <br />Sat, 24 Oct 2020 13:25:43 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Denial of bail to Jesuit accused of "sedition" - A special court of the National Investigation Agency yesterday, October 23, rejected the request for bail for Jesuit Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, activist for the rights of tribals, arrested following his alleged involvement in the activities of the Maoist rebels and in violent riots in 2018 in Maharashtra. The 83-year-old cleric, currently under judicial custody, had asked for bail for health reasons. He is now being held in the quarantine unit at Taloja prison, near Mumbai.<br />Father Swamy was taken from his home in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on 8 October by a team NIA officials in Delhi. His arrest sparked outrage across the country, sparking criticism from various sectors of civil society and the Catholic Church. A court had sent him into judicial custody until October 23.<br />The Jesuit was the sixteenth person to be arrested on the basis of the anti-terrorism law for episodes of violence in Maharashtra. Violence took place near the monument to the dead in the village of Bhima Koregaon, village near Pune on January 1, 2018, probably after provocative speeches were made in the city of Pune. According to the NIA, Father Swamy was actively involved in the activities of Maoist groups and had a role in instigating violence. Police claim the Jesuit priest is a member of the Maoist Party, declared outlawed by the authorities.<br />For those who know Father Swamy, these statements are absurd. "Raising one's voice to fight for justice and truth, regardless of religion, culture and ethnicity to which one belongs: this is Father Stan Swamy's objective, say his confreres, who recall how the religious spent fifty years of constantly promoting the rights and values of the indigenous, marginalized and vulnerable peoples.<br />After teaching at the Indian Social Institute in Bangalore, he moved to Jharkhand, working to improve the lives of Adivasi , within "JOHAR" Jharkhandi Organization for Human Rights, and working against the phenomenon of forced displacement of tribal populations from their ancestral lands. Since 2001, Father Lourduswamy moved to Ranchi, continuing to be socially active against the phenomenon of undue expropriation and supporting the "Pathalgadi" movement, formed by indigenous people. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party government saw the movement as "anti-development" and deployed paramilitary troops and police forces to suppress it. Now the state government has presented sedition charges against 20 activists including Father Lourduswamy, based on their public interventions or on social media in which they claim the government should engage in a peaceful dialogue with the Adivasis involved in the Pathalgadi movement rather than suppressing it.<br />The incessant campaign by the Jesuit, and other leaders, against the displacement and violations of the rights of Adivasis - carried out by the government and companies interested in grabbing their land - and the constant denunciation of inequalities and injustices are the reasons behind the absurd allegations of sedition that led to his arrest. <br />Sat, 24 Oct 2020 13:08:13 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Presidential elections: meeting of women of all political tendencies to contribute to a peaceful vote - A few days before the presidential elections in Ivory Coast, on October 31, when the tensions in the Country are becoming increasingly felt, UN-Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the empowerment of women, invited on October 21 at its headquarters in Abidjan Cocody, the women of the ruling party and the women of the opposition to a working lunch: Objective: to come together to dialogue for the peaceful elections with the support of femwise, mediators of the African Union.<br />"Women of all political tendencies in Ivory Coast have decided to meet to discuss the situation because we have seen that in this delicate process, women must play their part", said Célestine Zanou, head of delegation of the UN-Women mission. For her, what should be remembered "is that women are aware that it is through dialogue and consultation that we overcome trials and agree that dialogue is therefore a necessity for the elections to be peaceful".<br />The meeting, which lasted just over two hours, was attended by the women leaders of various political parties in the Ivory Coast including Kandia Camara, general secretary of the RHDP, Marie Odette Lorougnon of the FPI, Léopoldine Coffie, vice president of the PDCI-Rda , Danielle Boni Claverie of the Republican Union for Democracy. They all expressed their support for joining their efforts in order to contribute to the strengthening of dialogue so that the elections are held without violence in the Country.<br />Minister Euphrasie Yao Kouassi, a member of civil society and peace mediator, welcomed the successful holding of the meeting focused on dialogue, social cohesion with a view to peace and above all a peaceful climate for these upcoming elections which was enhanced by the presence of several women political leaders from West Africa including former Minister Diyé Ba from Mauritania, Marie-Louise Baricako from Burundi, member of the Femwise network and Marie Madeleine Kalala from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The delegation was led by Célestine Zanou, a former candidate for the presidency of Benin.<br />"For me it is a great day", says Euphrasie Yao Kouassi who recalls that "with the United Nations resolution 13-25 on women, peace and security, the Ivory Coast was the first African Country in 2006 to elaborate a action plan based on this resolution". A starting point for the Ivorian women to help the Country overcome ethnic and religious divisions, making the Country united and peaceful. <br />Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:51:21 +0200AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Social tensions, strikes, corruption and the risk of food emergencies - "The situation in our country is the subject of many concerns because of the continual violations of rights and the extreme poverty which concerns more and more people. It is estimated that by the end of the year 8 million of my fellow citizens will be in food emergency". This is the concern expressed by Kenneth Mtata, Lutheran pastor and Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Almost three years after the dismissal of Robert Mugabe, at the head of Zimbabwe for a little less than 38 years, and two years after the elections which should have marked the definitive transition from a long dictatorship to a democracy bringing well-being and rights, ex Rhodesia is experiencing a rather difficult period on a social level. Kenneth Mtata said in an interview with Fides: "Schools have reopened but the teachers are on strike, they are protesting against low wages and demanding to be paid in US dollars, something that the government cannot afford to do. There is also a serious problem in health care: doctors and nurses have been on strike for 7 months now and the situation, in particular because of Covid-19, is very critical. The population is tired of the still very high levels of corruption and takes to the streets, but many arrests still take place by the police regarding demonstrators, journalists who denounce the mismanagement while we are still worried about the people kidnapped and missing because there is no news".<br />Christian Churches, under the aegis of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, are very active in pastoral and social action and also play a leading role at a political level. The Pastor concludes: "We have asked for the promotion of a national consensus, an open dialogue capable of creating the conditions for real progress, but the government has not yet given us an answer. In August, the Catholic Bishops' Conference wrote a letter to the executive, requesting interventions on the many problems that Zimbabwe is experiencing: economic crisis, inflation, which is at dramatic levels, poverty, human rights violation and corruption. The government responded rather harshly. The Churches remain united in any case to remind the government of its responsibilities and to demand policies of national unity and consensus". <br />Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:34:02 +0200ASIA/INDONESIA - Testimony of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies on the need to "give impetus and vitality to the mission, in particular through the action of the laity" - "It is necessary to build a larger and stronger network between the faithful and lay missionary communities in order to promote the mission of the Church, thanks also to mutual personal involvement". This is what Father Markus Nur Widipranoto, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Indonesia, said in an interview with Agenzia Fides, speaking of the role and mission of lay Catholics in the country.<br />"As a Church - explains Father Markus - we must identify any opening that allows us to realize our faith, promoting peace, social justice and supporting our national values". To celebrate this Missionary October Month, the Church in Indonesia has organized meetings, conferences and spiritual retreats in which hundreds of faithful took part. "It is very beautiful to see such intense and heartfelt participation. This is certainly a way to build solid foundations to spread the Gospel and the Catholic faith". Among the various initiatives organized by the local Catholic community, the National Director speaks of the realization of a missionary magazine, "based on the Abu Dhabi document on fraternity in accordance with the central theme of this year's Missionary Month, written by priests, religious and educators. In schools - continues the priest - the diocesan directors of the PMS are carrying out a program which explains the mission to adolescents and children. In the dioceses we also have a course in missiology prepared by lay missionary groups, in addition to charitable activities such as free medical care and donations of food and clothing".<br />Speaking of the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Indonesia, Father Markus underlines the fact that "in recent years we have been urging the Catholics laity to give impetus to the mission so that they carry out their commitment through their professional activity and in the place where they operate. It is important - he concludes - to continue to provide assistance to the weakest people, to children, to the poor and to help spread a positive message of hope for the younger generations". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Video-interview with the Director of the PMS in Indonesia</a>Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:16:29 +0200AFRICA/EGYPT - Parliamentary election: Coptic Bishops declare “equidistance” and want high voter turnout - A few hours before the start the Egyptian parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for Saturday, October 24th and Sunday, October 25th, various Coptic Orthodox Bishops affirm the “equidistance” of the Coptic Church towards the candidates and parties demanded by all citizens to demonstrate their civic spirit and solidarity with their home country by exercising their right to vote. <br />Anba Makarios, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Minya, recalled that participation in the elections expresses a sense of belonging and at the same time represents a "civil duty" and a "divine right". <br />Anba Stephanos, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Beba, reiterated in his pre-election message that the Church does not express any preferences for candidates or parties, in the hope that turnout will be high and that long rows of voters in front of the polling stations can offer the international community a concrete image of the strength and cohesion of the Egyptian nation.<br />In recent weeks, the candidacy of Coptic Orthodox priest Paula Fouad in the parliamentary elections had sparked a controversial debate .<br />In the past, several priests and bishops had actively participated in politics in Egypt, since in the Coptic Orthodox Church only monks are obliged to avoid direct and personal political involvement.<br />The election of the representatives of the people in the different regions of the country takes place in different phases and ends on November 8th. In the previous general election in 2015, CoptsToday reported that 36 of the 568 available seats were allocated to Orthodox Coptic candidates. <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 01:12:23 +0200AFRICA/BENIN - Bishops in view of the election: "It should be peaceful, inclusive and democratic" - "The next elections should be peaceful, inclusive and democratic in the spirit of the National Conference of February 1990", said the Bishops of Benin in the statement published at the end of their plenary session at the Pastoral Center, in Natitingou, in the north-west of Benin.<br />The Bishops urge "the faithful, political party leaders and citizens in general to make an objective, critical and constructive assessment of the five-year period that is now drawing to a close". Presidential elections are to take place in Benin on April 11, 2021, in which the outgoing President, Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon, is expected to run for a second term.<br />he presidential elections are scheduled for 11 April 2021. The outgoing President, Patrice Guillaume Athanase Talon is expected to run for a second term.<br />The Bishops' Conference of Benin is deeply saddened by the torrential rains that have affected several parts of the Country, particularly in the Alibori Department, in which people died, crops were destroyed, livestock were depleted, and indigent populations became homeless. Earlier this month, more than 7,000 people fled the floods from the communities of Kandi, Karimama and Malanville in Alibori province in northeast Benin.<br />The Bishops of Benin are also concerned about the various cases of suicide, especially among young people. "They remind everyone that human life is sacred and belongs to God from conception to its natural end", says the message sent to Fides.<br />The Bishops of Benin express their concern about "the insidious promotion and gradual introduction of homosexuality and sexual orientation as human rights in the legislation of the countries of the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States in exchange for the renewal of bilateral and multilateral agreements on international aid".<br />The message concludes by asking the faithful to recite "the special prayer for Benin at the end of each Mass". <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 00:45:34 +0200OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - More than 360 Catholic schools involved in the special Missionary Childhood Day - World Mission Day for children was celebrated by the Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia with the initiative "Socktober Day": the initiative, which combines the term "socks" and "October", based on the Australian saying "sock it to something", which means "to hit". Catholic Mission invites every child to make their contribution to solving social problems.<br />More than 360 Catholic schools in almost all Australian dioceses joined the "Socktober" initiative in 2020 and helped raise funds for children in need in Cambodia and other countries around the world. On October 21st, thousands of students took part in sports competitions.<br />"The day was dedicated to raising awareness among children about mission on a global scale", said Matt Poynting of Catholic Mission, "Despite the very difficult times, schools and families have experienced the generosity of Australian students and their parents to help people is a source of inspiration for everyone in need. <br />Missionary Childhood Day is an event that helps to recognize the missionary commitment of children, who do good to their brothers and sisters in other countries, even if it means sacrificing something of what they have".<br />Many schools also joined initiatives available on the website and held their own Socktober Event Days with seminars or conferences based on study materials provided by Catholic Mission.<br />"Our educational team has put together a program to involve students' minds, hearts and hands in their school communities. The feedback from the teachers is that students really love the activities and reflection that takes place during the program", Poynting pointed out.<br />Schools across Australia are also running a fundraiser during World Mission Month. In 2020, over 50,000 AUD has already been raised for the Socktober event and the goal is to double that amount.<br />"Catholic Mission" is the Australian Direction of the Pontifical Mission Societies. Founded in Sydney in 1847 and supports pastoral and social projects in mission churches in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South America in relation to faith education, pastoral care, education, health, hygiene and agricultural development. <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 00:06:32 +0200ASIA/VIETNAM - Bishops' delegation visits flood victims - A delegation from the Vietnamese Bishops' Conference visited the areas of central Vietnam affected by the recent floods. Expressing solidarity and solidarity with the flood victims, giving consolation and hope and also providing material help. "We prayed for the people and those affected and asked them to remain resilient in these times of need", says in a note sent to Agenzia Fides, Bishop Paul Nguyèn Thai Hop, at the head of the diocese of Hà Tinh, which initially included families in the Luong Van parish in the Archdiocese of Hue. On 21 October, the Bishops' delegation visited the parishes of My Chanh and Trung Quan in the same Archdiocese. "This is truly a miracle for our parish" said the parish priest of My Chanh, when welcoming the delegation of Bishops.<br />The Bishop of Da Nang, Mgr. Joseph Dang Duc Ngan, reported that "the tears did not express pain and suffering, but joy and happiness like that of children, who feel loved and understood by their parents". Men and women religious accompanied the Bishops who distributed the humanitarian aid to the families affected.<br />The delegation crossed the whole region in small boats to reach the brothers and sisters in Trung Quan parish in Ha Tinh diocese.<br />After the severe floods of October 16, entire regions in various regions of Central Vietnam are under water. The people here are still in shock because the floods came very quickly and were of the same magnitude. Father Quan Trung Quan says: "I heard cries for help in the middle of the night and hurriedly sent the young people of the village to save the families and bring them to the church to provide refuge". Church institutions and religious orders were also affected by the floods.<br />Bishop Emmanuel Nguyên Hong Son of Bà Ria, on behalf of all Vietnamese bishops, encouraged the flood victims and said: "Remain confident even in times of need and do not be discouraged. You can rely on the love of the Lord who never leaves us. We pray that God's blessings continue to flow into the hearts of many benefactors who share their goods to help rebuild your future".<br />A total of 105 people died in Vietnam in severe floods and landslides caused by weeks of heavy rain. Another 27 people are missing. The floods flooded over 178,000 homes and nearly 7,000 hectares of crops. <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 23:24:43 +0200AFRICA/CAMEROON - Civil War creates lost generationé - The Anglophone regions of Cameroon, where 20% of the country's population live, have been experiencing a social and humanitarian crisis since 2016. The crisis signals a historic gap between the French-speaking majority and the Anglophone minority, but it was amplified after the strikes by teachers and lawyers in October 2016, against the sending of French-speaking judges and teachers to the Western Anglophone regions. The strong centralization has led to a phenomenon of increasing use of the French language in public affairs and in the ranks of the state apparatus, which was followed by a drastic decline in Anglophone political representatives in decision-making bodies. A crisis that has turned into a conflict of secession fought by armed groups that clashed with the Cameroonian army, which in turn sparked a humanitarian crisis. <br />According to the UNHCR, 60,000 Cameroonian refugees have found shelter in Nigeria. As Brother Eric Michel Miedji of the Congregation of the Little Brothers of Jesus in Foumban says, "the violence caused by the crisis and the radicalization of activists is largely the result of the incorrect government response: denial, contempt, intimidation, repression, imprisonment and the erosion of trust between the English-speaking population and the government, to the extent that a probable majority of English speakers see a return to federalism or secession as a possible outcome. This dirty war, with its intolerable political, economic and social dimensions, has had dire consequences and led to the flight of a large part of the population from these regions to neighboring countries and to the cities of Cameroon bordering the English-speaking area. It is estimated that more than one million internally displaced people live in the cities and villages of Cameroon, most of whom are young people who are out of school. They have fled violence, armed fighting and murders in order to seek refuge in safe and peaceful places".<br />In Foumban alone, there are more than 4,000 displaced people . These people run the risk of becoming disoriented: after the trauma of the war, they find themselves unemployed and are exposed to the risk of crime and prostitution. <br />Young people often cannot go to school because their parents are unemployed. "We - continues Brother Eric -, look after 250 young people whom we try to train in the shortest possible time and reintegrate them into their living environment. But we also feel helpless ourselves. If we had more support, we could find better and more concrete solutions for social and economic development and the integration of the displaced". <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 22:44:01 +0200EUROPE/SPAIN - Thanks from the PMS to all those who participated in World Mission Day "in times of pandemic" - World Mission Day 2020 on October 18th was marked by the pandemic, but this year too, thanks to the creativity of dioceses, parishes and schools, it was possible to carry out the initiatives. Fr. José María Calderón, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Spain, thanked everyone who worked on the missionary projects in a video. The President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, His Exc. Mgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, also expressly thanked Spain for its great commitment in the parishes and with the Pontifical Mission Societies.<br />"This year's World Mission Day will be remembered as the Sunday of confinement or of the pandemic", explains Fr. José María Calderón. "We would like to thank everyone who made the celebration possible even in this unusual situation and who contributed to the Mission Church with generous donations".<br />The National Director emphasizes that the Church in Spain is very generous in supporting the missions and this is possible thanks to the many people who have contributed with their prayers, donations and initiatives - both individuals and schools and parishes. He also thanks those who have contributed through the media. <br />"The missionaries will thank you. The Church will continue to evangelize thanks to your commitment, initiatives and donations", he concludes.<br />Archbishop Giampietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, also thanked the Spanish Catholics for the support they give the missionaries. "It is a contribution that demonstrates the special mission awareness in Spain", he explains in a video to the Spanish news service COPE. "There are many Spanish missionaries, religious, priests and lay people all over the world. And they exist because there are many Spanish congregations behind them, that are very conscious of the call to mission".<br />In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pontifical Mission Societies had initiated special virtual initiatives to celebrate World Mission Day and supported them with a website on which the testimonies of six missionaries were accessible in an interactive way and online donations were made possible. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The website of the PMS of Spain, with videos</a>Fri, 23 Oct 2020 18:59:38 +0200ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Political crisis resolved with centralization of powers: people's expectations have been disappointed - "The protests that followed the parliamentary elections on October 4th in Kyrgyzstan are against the obvious buying of votes, this time more than in the past: in the days leading up to the elections, it was possible to witness how much we have moved towards corruption. In addition, the high 7% threshold of the Kyrgyz electoral system meant that only four of the sixteen parties that applied for elections could get into parliament. These are, of course, the four parties that are close to the elected president. This situation, in a system already in turmoil, caused the protest to explode", said Davide Cancarini, researcher and expert on Central Asian politics, explaining the reasons behind the Kyrgyz crisis on the first days of October.<br />In the hours following the election, evidence of electoral fraud led a large group of protesters to take to the streets in Bishkek, the capital of the Central Asian country, demanding the cancellation of the election, in which pro-Russian Sooronbay Jeenbekov was proclaimed winner. Demonstrators occupied government buildings and released detained politicians, including former presidents Almazbek Atambayev and Sadyr Japarov, later appointed prime minister and president. The police reacted to protests with tear gas and deafening grenades. According to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health, one person was killed and 590 injured in the clashes.<br />The protests subsided ten days after the elections when Prime Minister Kubatbek Boronov, Parliament President Dastanbek Jumabekov and President-elect Jeenbekov resigned from their posts. However, this led to the centralization of powers in the hands of Sadyr Japarov, who after his appointment as Prime Minister, now also holds the role of President. According to the Kyrgyz constitution, the tasks of the president must be carried out by the president of parliament until a new head of state is elected. If the latter is unable to do this, the powers are transferred to the Prime Minister. Cancarini explains in this regard: "I believe that the solution we came up with basically betrays the demands of the protesters who took to the streets to ask for the democratic system to be more open. In fact, Japarov is a very controversial figure who is not supported by a large part of the population. When the protests broke out, he was in prison for the kidnapping of an officer. In addition, he is closely related to the Matraimov clan, which is known to be associated with Kyrgyz criminal organizations. Therefore there is now a controversial figure in power who is not much loved by the people: this was certainly not the scenario the demonstrators had envisioned when they took to the streets".<br />Since the fall of the Soviet Union until today,there have been two other crises in Kyrgyzstan: the so-called "Tulip Revolution" of 2005 and the "Second Kyrgyz Revolution" of 2010. On both occasions, the population took to the streets to protest against corruption. and poverty, and managed to oust the presidents in office, but this does not lead to an actual improvement regarding the conditions in the country. <br />According to the Asian Development Bank, 22.4% of the population in Kyrgyzstan live below the poverty line. This is the context in which the small Catholic community lives: about 1,500 believers who are committed to charity and education and whose projects focus in particular on young people from poor families and rural villages.<br />The Catholic community is currently organized in three parishes in the cities of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Talas, but many small communities are distributed in the rural areas of the country as well. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, a religious and five Franciscan sisters. <br />In 1997, John Paul II founded the Mission sui iuris, as was the case with the neighboring states of Central Asia. In 2006, Benedict XVI elevated the circumscription to the rank of apostolic administration. In addition to the Muslim majority, 7% of the population is of Christian faith, of whom 3% of Orthodox faith. Jews, Buddhists and other small minorities make up about 3% of the population. <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 15:31:35 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - After 10 years, a new phase of the inter-congregational missionary Project in Haiti - The project for missionary cooperation between the Churches in Brazil and Haiti started 10 years ago: the "Inter-congregational Project for Solidarity" was born from the collaboration of the National Brazilian Bishops' Conference and the Conference of Religious of Brazil with the Haitian Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince and the Conference of Religious of Haiti. On January 12, 2010, Haiti suffered the largest earthquake in its history, which caused the deaths of over 300,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless.<br />Faced with this tragedy, the Brazilian Church, through the religious and Caritas Brazil, began its missionary work on the Island to ensure a presence of solidarity, hospitality and evangelization in Haiti and to contribute to the reconstruction and to guarantee dignified conditions for the poor .<br />In September 2010 the first three religious were sent on a mission to Haiti. Since then, religious sisters from 17 congregations have worked in Haiti. There are currently four nuns working in an extremely poor community on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. The sisters offer advanced training courses in leadership training and literacy for women and run a communal kitchen. They also provide psychological support and organize courses in art, music and theater, sewing, baking and pasta workshops. They are also involved in the education of adolescents and young people, and look after about 50 children with extreme malnutrition.<br />Sister Fatima Kapp, director of the Mission Department of the CRB, emphasizes that the majority of the Haitian population is affected by extreme poverty and high unemployment, which in turn creates hunger and violence. Moreover, everything is very difficult, there is not even a permanent residence for the nuns who are involved in the projects. In September 2020, the 10-year initially set for the implementation of the project expired. With the support of the CNBB, however, the CRB took on the responsibility of continuing the socio-pastoral initiaves in the region and started a new phase of the inter-congregational mission in Haiti. <br />Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:46:53 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Catholic girl abducted and converted to Islam: the kidnapper's false statements - Arzoo Raja, the young Catholic girl kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and forced into an Islamic wedding by a 44-year-old Muslim , is 13 years old and not 18, as falsely stated in the Affidavit, the statement that the abductor's defenders gave to the police to legitimize the entire operation, making it seem legal. In this false declaration, among other things extorted from the young girl, is the proof of the deception to be exposed in order to denounce the illegality and brutality of the act and to be able to release her. As Fides has learned, it is in this sense that the representatives of the Church in Karachi are moving to tackle the case of the 13-year-old Catholic who has been kidnapped, a case that is shaking the community. <br />As reported to Fides by local sources, the case, which occurred in the large metropolis of Karachi, concerns, in particular, the Catholic community of Saint Anthony parish. Arzoo's family lives in "Quarter 8 City", of the Railway Colony, in the western part of the city of Karachi. The leaders of the local Church, as well as various Catholics involved in politics and civil society, have mobilized to bring out the case and address it publicly, calling for the prompt intervention of the authorities.<br />Fr. Robert Mc Culloch, an Australian missionary for over 30 years in Pakistan, currently Procurator General of the Society of St. Columban, comments on the case in an interview with Agenzia Fides: "We record with pain a serious and brutal act against an innocent girl. Cases like this, including kidnapping, forced conversion and marriage, are tragically on the rise in Pakistan and mostly involve young Christian and Hindu girls, especially in the Sindh province. I believe that it is necessary to activate all possible means to save Arzoo and all the other girls like her, subjected to violence. The authorities need to take note of a phenomenon that is truly worrying and devastating for Pakistani society, a phenomenon which undermines every effort for inter-religious harmony and undermines the inalienable rights of non-Muslim citizens".<br />The Catholic Church in Karachi and Pakistani civil society organizations are at the forefront, with the girl's family, in order to save Arzoo since her real age is provided by a civil birth certificate, as well as in the baptismal certificate issued by Saint Anthony parish, kidnapping , marriage with a minor , conversion to Islam constitute crimes punishable on the basis of the flagrant violation of various laws including that on the minimum age to get married legally. <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:44:25 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - Bishops complain of a "standstill" in the Country and death threats against confreres in the episcopate - "We are deeply saddened that our politicians are showing revolting indifference while the country is on the verge of bankruptcy", said the Bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a message sent to Agenzia Fides in which they denounces "the stalemate in the country due to the political crisis and its consequences. The paralysis of the coalition affects and infects all sectors of national life".<br />"At a time when the Congolese people are suffering from indescribable misery exacerbated by Covid-19, the ruling coalition parties are devoting their energies to calculating positioning in relation to the 2023 elections in order to maintain or regain power", the Bishops said in the Message published at the end of their Plenary Assembly.<br />To situation is exacerbated by the wounds of tribalism and conflicts in the community, often fueled by the politicians themselves, who subordinate the skills and competence in managing public affairs to their respective interests".<br />The political stalemate, to which is added that of the Constitutional Court, in which the quorum required for consultation is lacking, aggravates the severe economic crisis with "a drastic decline in the purchasing power of the population, and thus an increase in poverty and unemployment. The mining sector that the country could rely on is, like many others, plagued by corruption is at the benefit of few individuals, multinationals and 'militarized criminal groups' rather than the population" .<br />"The security situation is still catastrophic, especially in the east of the country, particularly in the provinces of Ituri, North and South Kivu and Tanganyika", the Bishops continued. "We note the strategy of displacement through massacres of the local population, the occupation of land and the control of natural resources",said the Bishops, who "strongly denounce and condemn the death threats made to our brothers in the episcopate, Mgr. Dieudonné Uringi, Bishop of Bunia and Sébastien Muyengo, Bishop of Uvira". In recent months, both have denounced the "Balkanization" of the Democratic Republic of Congo by foreign armed forces, which they claim are stirring up tribal conflicts and rebellions in order to conquer parts of the Congolese country and exploit its wealth.<br />In conclusion, the Bishops urged people to "remain vigilant". "Let us exercise our voting rights and act to prevent any attempt to seize our right to choose our own leaders and determine the fate of our country". <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 15:13:31 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - The annual Synod of Maronite Bishops begins in the sign of silence and conversioné - The annual Synod of the Maronite Bishops began under the sign of silence and "metanoia", i.e. personal and community repentance and conversion. On Wednesday 21 October, the Maronite Bishops gathered at the Patriarchate of Bkerké, under the presidency of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai,, to take part in the assembly which each year marks the culmination of the joint synodal planning of the Maronite Church in the next 12 months.<br />As is tradition, the first days of the assembly, until next Saturday, have the character of a spiritual retreat. As Patriarch Rai pointed out in his opening address, this is intended to help "read, under the gaze of Christ the Lord, Supreme Priest and the Good Shepherd, our lives and actions and the exercise of pastoral authority in the light of the example that Jesus Christ Himself gave us".<br />On the opening day, the Maronite Bishops prayed the Rosary together "for the salvation of Lebanon and the world". The prayer was broadcast live on Noursat TV television canne. With the act of repentance and reconciliation - underlined the Maronite Patriarch - all Bishops will be able to ask for the support of divine grace for their lives and their pastoral ministry and recognize that our personal sins are not only abusing God, but also the Church and the community . And when we repent of our sins, we are reconciled with God and with the community". <br />Starting next Monday, the Synod will deal with pastoral, ecclesiastical and administrative issues after the days of spiritual gathering and discuss the current social, economic and political crisis situations in Lebanon in this historical phase. <br />In this context, the Maronite Bishops also want to contribute by improving the charity and social welfare services that have already been introduced for the benefit of the entire population. <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:55:18 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - The third National Eucharistic Congress will take place in 2021 - "Our Congolese society is facing various challenges, namely the rebirth of paganism with its consequences, the spread of sects, and esoteric movements, and in particular the crisis that is shaking the family. It therefore, seemed urgently necessary for us, as Bishops and Fathers to convene a Eucharistic Congress to rediscover the riches of the Eucharist for the benefit of the human family, the foundation of society and the Church", said the President of the Bishops' Conference of the Congo , Archbishop Marcel Utembi, when announcing the organization of the third Eucharistic Congress of Congo.<br />The congress was originally planned "around the solemnity of the Blessed Sacrament in June 2020", but had to be postponed indefinitely for reasons related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event has finally been rescheduled for next year. On 18 October, the General Secretary of CENCO, Father Donatien Nshole, stated that "the 3rd National Eucharistic Congress will be held in Lubumbashi from 30 May to 6 June 2021".<br />All the Catholic faithful in the country are invited to this National Eucharistic Congress. And for those who cannot be physically present at the central celebration, activities should be organized in each diocese "so that every family and every believer can benefit from the graces of this spiritual event". <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 14:42:42 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Bishops' Conference supports the fight against fake news in view of the elections - The Bishops' Conference of Brazil will be ambassador of the #EuVotoSemFakecampanha "campaign, launched by the Superior Electoral Court . The aim of the initiative is to ensure that the candidates for the upcoming elections are elected legitimately and on the basis of ethical principles, while being authentic and based on true information.<br />According to Thiago Rondon, digital coordinator of the anti-fake news initiative, the main objective is to provide correct information about the electoral process, such as health care in voting on election day, the functioning of the voting process and guidelines for voters in relation to the submission of the necessary documents. "With access to precise information, the population is more relaxed when it comes to voting and more willing to ignore so-called fake news", says Rondon.<br />The CNBB therefore supports efforts to mobilize Brazilian society to combat the spread of "fakenews" related to the election. Just over 147.9 million voters are due to go to the polls on November 15 and November 29 to elect a total of 5,568 mayors, 5,568 deputy mayors and 57,942 council members across Brazil, according to information from TSE. It is estimated that 750,000 candidates are running for the position of mayor and councilor.<br />The TSE, describes the spread of fake news in connection with the local elections as the second pandemic alongside Covid-19, both global phenomena with serious consequences. In this context, it is desirable to avoid these two factors affecting the voting of thousands of voters who may abstain from voting or whose opinion is affected by disinformation.<br />As patron of the campaign, the CNBB will publish the content on its social networks and try to mobilize its own communication network to uncover and denounce fake news. <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 13:43:01 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Youth protest, the result of a mixture of poverty and indignation according to the testimony of a Nigerian friar - It is poverty that drives Nigerians to protest, not just outrage at police violence. Young people overwhelmed by misery and frustrated by unemployment take to the streets to protest and demand economic reforms. This is the analysis of Father Mark Ezeh, OFM Cap, a Nigerian Capuchin friar.<br />"Nigeria - he observes - is a very rich country. We have land, natural resources, a young and enterprising population. Unfortunately, politics is unable to manage this immense wealth properly. And, above all, to use it for the common good. So poverty is very widespread and people feel it firsthand".<br />Nigeria is a nation full of contradictions. Despite being one of the world's largest producers of hydrocarbons, it has only four refineries and is forced to import gasoline. In many parts of the country, electricity is not supplied regularly. The health system is poor. "When they get sick - continues Father Marc -, wealthy people seek treatment abroad. The poor are forced to stay at home without assistance, care and medicine". Corruption is widespread: Nigeria ranks 146th in the corruption ranking prepared by the NGO Transparency International. Young people with a school or università degree cannot find work.<br />"Faced with this situation - continues the religious -, people are taking to the streets. For two weeks, cities have been in turmoil. The government responded by sending the police and the armed forces to the streets. Several victims have already registered in the clashes in Lagos, the country's commercial capital. For this reason, the protest against the police has increased". The protests concern the Special Anti-Robbery Squad , a special police unit that had to fight against violent robberies, but was instead responsible for criminal actions against the same population . The government decided to disband SARS, but on 13 October, the police chief in Nigeria announced the formation of a new police unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics , to take over the tasks that had been entrusted to SARS. According to the population, however, this is only a "renaming" of the old special unit .<br />A curfew has been imposed in many States of the federation. "People took to the streets only to show their discontent, concludes the Capuchin friar. The reaction of the police and law enforcement officers led to violence. Now the protesters are afraid, but not intimidated. The ban does not affect them. They sleep on the street. They keep demonstrating and no one can stop them. Major reforms are urgently needed not only for the military and police, but also in the economy. People are fed up". <br />Thu, 22 Oct 2020 13:26:43 +0200