Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aNEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Has conronavirus caught Christian believers unprepared?"Coronavirus has caught Christians in the various continents unprepared, distracted by concerns and conflicts of diverse nature, and blinded by proposals of half-truths, warped truths and ‘instrumentalized truths’. We have become like “children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of teaching”: reflection of an Indian Archbishop on the Christian spiritual approach to the emergence of the coronavirus. Social distancing reaffirms forgotten values: withdrawal, solitude, silence, meditation, prayer ": this is what Salesian Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, emeritus of Guwahati, in northeastern India, and former head of the Office for Evangelization within the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences says to Agenzia Fides, and published on "Omnis Terra" website. The Archbishop points out that the so-called "Social Distancing’, has brought some ‘unintended blessing’, it reminds the world that ‘withdrawal’ was always a positive value in Christian tradition. "Monks withdrew to the mountains, hermits into caves, contemplatives into forests. They were guardians of the environment wherever they went, they protected nature, they respected the cosmic order. They believed that solitude deepens a person, silence has power, meditation keeps one close to God, prayer obtains whatever one seeks".<br />"The isolation that Coronavirus has imposed on us - he continues - has made us think. It has compelled us to sit back, relax, and evaluate our day-to-day life, and notice some of our superficialities: quick profits, overconcern for appearance, figure and form; hasty judgements, fatuous boasts, petty bickerings, negligence of courtesies, resentments over trifles".<br />In addition, the Archbishop notes "the calamity has stimulated a quick change in attitudes: there has been an outburst of generosity from the most unexpected sources. All of sudden we realize we can be generous, helpful, and reach out in collaboration…that we need each other, we are interdependent" .<br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Continue to read the in-depth analysis on Omnis Terra website, in English,</a>Sat, 04 Apr 2020 14:40:05 +0200ASIA/IRAN - Ayatollah rector of the University of Qom to Pope Francis: in the face of the pandemic, let us unite at the service of humanity - Thanks for the concern shown by Pope Francis for the poor and needy in the time of the pandemic, and the proposal to "intensify" collaboration and exchange of experiences with Catholic institutions, in order to "create a community of celestial religions at the service of humanity". These are the key messages contained in a letter addressed to Pope Francis by Iranian Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, Rector of the Al Mustafa International University of Qom, on behalf of the Seminary of Iran and of the professors of that prestigious Shiite academic community.<br />The misfortune of the spread of the coronavirus reads the letter, sent to Agenzia Fides "has caused suffering for Countries and nations", also upsetting scholars and religious leaders. Religious teachers and their students, in Qom and throughout Iran - writes Ayatollah "invoke God's mercy for those who have lost their lives and healing for those who are sick", and "express their gratitude for the Pope and for all those who care about the weak and needy", while underlining the importance of following the plans outlined by the recommendations of experts and scientists". "According to the logic of revealed religions", reads the message "natural disasters are alarming phenomena that test humanity" and also represent a circumstance in which "to deepen one's origin and the possibility to resurrect" in which a fruitful spirit of empathy and dedication can also emerge. A correct approach to such accidents - explains Iranian Ayatollah - must avoid lying contradictions between science and religion, and must also instill in leadership groups the concern to promote social cohesion. Religious leaders and theologians - notes the high Shia exponent - have the additional responsibility to strengthen the foundations of their faith "protect society from anomalies and contaminations, keep in mind the eternal power of the Almighty God, promote prayer in the presence of God", to face together other contemporary emergencies such as "injustice, discrimination, inhuman sanctions, environmental crises, war, terrorism, production of instruments of mass destruction".<br />Ayatollah Alireza Arafi proudly adds that in Iran "in these days we have witnessed indescribable manifestations of popular solidarity and voluntary mobilization" which has united government institutions and people of all religious groups, and has seen nurses in the front row, doctors, students, academic elites and many young people, "under the guidance of the supreme leaders of the Islamic Revolution", and concludes by announcing that professors, scholars and students are ready to intensify scientific, cultural exchange and experiences of mutual support, opening a new chapter of collaboration "in a special world Catholic institutions", so as to form a "community of revealed religions at the service of humanity". <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 13:24:05 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Appointment of the Apostolic Vicar of Jolo City – The Holy Father has appointed Fr. Charlie M. Inzon, O.M.I., currently Provincial Superior of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate, in the Philippines as Apostolic Vicar of the Vicariate of Jolo .<br />Father Charlie M. Inzon O.M.I., was born on November 24, 1965 in Putiao, in the Diocese of Sorsogon. From 1988 to 1993 he studied Philosophy at Notre Dame University, in Cotabato City, and from 1993 to 1994 Theology at the Loyola School of Theology of the Ateneo de Manila University, in Quezon City, obtaining a Master's degree. From 2002 to 2008 he continued his studies at the same Institute, obtaining a Doctorate in Psychology. He entered the Congregation of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate in 1982, made his perpetual profession on September 8, 1990. He was ordained a priest on April 24, 1993 in Coloocan City.<br />Since his priestly ordination he has held the following roles: 1993-1995: Chaplain of Notre Dame College, Jolo; 1995-1998: Person in charge of the mission station of Batu-Batu, Tawi-Tawi; 1998-1999: Parish Vicar of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bangong Barrio, Caloocan City; 1999-2000: Parish Vicar of Sto. Niño Parish, Madsayap, Cotabato; 2000-2007: Director of the O.M.I. College Seminary, Quezon City; 2007-2010: Research Director of Notre Dame College, in Jolo 2008-2010: Chaplain of Notre Dame College, Jolo; 2009-2010: Dean of the Graduate School of Notre Dame College, Jolo; 2010-2014: President of Notre Dame College, Jolo; 2014-2018: President of Notre Dame University, Cotabato, since 2018: Provincial Superior of the O.M.I. <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 12:42:40 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - The Order of Malta extends its projects all over the world to combat Covid-19 - The Covid-19 pandemic is profoundly influencing the activity of the Order of Malta, which every day offers social and health assistance around the world, but has now had to adapt to this unprecedented global crisis. The staff has been trained to continue to ensure safe assistance. Programs that bring relief to the needy and the sick have been expanded to respond to the enormous pressure on the national health systems of the countries affected by the pandemic, according to a statement sent to Agenzia Fides. The Order is committed to supporting hospitals, medical centers, ambulance services and, at the same time, continues, where possible, its activities in support of the elderly and disabled people, who are particularly at risk at the moment, as well as homeless people and all people in need.<br />Here are some of the ongoing activities in Africa and Asia, according to the note sent to Fides. The Order of Malta is present in Africa in over 30 countries, where it runs numerous hospitals and dispensaries. Most activities continue despite the growing number of Covid-19 cases. The medical centers run by Ordre de Malte France continue to operate in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Chad, Togo and Chad, despite the implementation of preventive measures and reorganization required by local authorities.<br />With the exception of South Sudan, numerous cases of coronavirus have now occurred in all countries where Malteser International operates, and governments are responding with curfews and the closure of airports. All international staff are still in their respective workstations.<br />In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the isolation department used during Ebola's response is now used for Covid-19's response. In South Sudan the MI spreads messages with all means to inform the population of Juba, including street theater performances and radio commercials. In Uganda the MI is working on the development of a communication plan to change behaviors, focused on hygiene and sanitation, aimed at refugee populations and host communities around the Rhino Camp Settlement. This initiative will also include the distribution of items such as hand sanitizers. In South Africa, the "Fratellanza del Beato Gerardo" medical and social center is preparing for a possible outbreak of the epidemic, which - in the region with an increasing number of HIV cases - can represent a real catastrophe. The Health Minister predicts that 60-70% of the entire South African population could be infected, that is, about 40 million people. Assistance activities for the sick, the elderly and children have been reorganized to reduce possible infections.<br />In Asia kits of basic necessities have been distributed in Bangladesh, together with an intensification of primary needs programs. In the face of the threat of coronavirus, the teams of the CIOMAL Foundation of the Order of Malta, which specifically deal with the treatment and research on Hansen's disease, have reorganized the current management in Cambodia. Communication groups in Khmer language have been created to allow non-English speaking employees to stay in touch. In Thailand, Malteser International, in close collaboration with the Ambassador of the Order in Thailand, carried out health screening with infrared thermometers.<br />For the Middle East, all Order of Malta assistance centers in Lebanon and the Order of Malta's mobile medical units follow a rigorous protocol to ensure the safety of all staff and patients. The centers continue to work to ensure essential medical visits and medicines, especially for patients with chronic diseases. The staff is collecting the list of the most vulnerable who cannot reach the centers, contacting them in their homes in order to deliver the monthly medicines. For each center, a hotline for non-urgent cases was created, encouraging tele-consultations with careful follow-up by doctors. The Mobile Medical Units are active above all in the most remote areas, in close collaboration with the municipalities.<br />In Palestine, the situation is particularly worrying due to the lack of medical equipment, such as ventilators and oxygen, and the lack of masks, alcohol and disinfectants. <br />At the Holy Family Hospital of the Order of Malta, in Bethlehem, which has the only neonatal intensive care unit in the whole region, despite the difficult circumstances, 285 babies were born in March. Staff regularly contact Bedouins who live in isolated communities for telemedicine visits and pregnant women were able to leave their communities to give birth to their children at the hospital. In Syria, together with partner organizations, the Order's global relief agency, Malteser International, continues to run and strengthen healthcare facilities, hospitals and primary health care centers, and will intensify its activities by distributing more water and products for hygiene, and helping to improve sanitation in informal camps and settlements that are in poor condition. <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 12:36:21 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Covid-19, "humanitarian aid for the population must be guaranteed" - "Closing the borders in South Sudan means condemning thousands of people to hunger: the food security of the population still depends on exports from neighboring countries as well as humanitarian aid. For this reason, the government has asked Uganda to let the food and gasoline trucks pass". This is what Father Christian Carlassare, an Italian Comboni missionary who lives in Juba, reports to Agenzia Fides, talking about the precautionary measures put in place by the young African state in response to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Health in past days announced the closure of all the other airports present on the national territory, with the prohibition of international flights and the closure of borders.<br />According to UN data, about 6 million people, 60% of the population, urgently need humanitarian assistance, 20% more than last year. "The country would be in a critical situation if it were to face an epidemic of this type", notes Father Christian. In February and in the first weeks of March there were numerous movements with the neighboring states: "It is feared, therefore, that the virus may spread also in South Sudan - explains the Comboni priest - while the hope is that the hot climate limits the spread of contagion; but we will only know in a couple of weeks".<br />"Currently - specifies the religious - there are no data available about the infection: no cases have yet been confirmed in the country. As a precaution, schools have also been closed for a month and gatherings, including religious activities, have also been prohibited: "With the suspension of community celebrations - reports Fr. Carlassare – we need to find other forms of closeness to people and those who suffer. For the moment there is no obligation to remain isolated at home. There is only a curfew from six in the evening to six in the morning. During the day, one can visit families. Small grassroots communities can remain active and carry out their prayers at a family level".<br />Television, the Internet and other social media are not yet accessible to the majority of the South Sudanese population: "The radio - the missionary notes - carries out an important service: each diocese has its own broadcaster which broadcasts programs that facilitate family prayer and bring a word of comfort and hope".<br />Although important, the measures adopted appear insufficient to face the complex reality of a country like South Sudan, tormented by hunger, poverty and disease: "The first challenge - says Fr. Carlassare - concerns the possibility of intervening if there are infected people, the possibility of carrying out swabs is very limited and confined to the capital alone. In addition to this - he continues - public health is not equipped: it can isolate the patient but there are no intensive care units with ventilators and oxygen. We Comboni missionaries have the direction of the diocesan hospital of Mapuordit where the only ventilator is that of the operating room". The other challenge concerns prevention: according to Father Christian "the practice of isolation and quarantine is very difficult to implement in a country like South Sudan for many reasons, first of all - he explains - many families live in huts or houses that have only one room that is shared on average by five or six people. Life takes place almost entirely outdoors". At home, no food is stored, except flour and not much else: "The hygienic conditions of markets, formed by stalls often in dusty and very crowded squares, are very precarious".<br />"The new transitional government has an important responsibility: to face this possible crisis without divisions", notes the missionary. "This epidemic, as Pope Francis said - he concludes - caught us by surprise, but at the same time has made us important and necessary, all with the need to comfort each other, all called to row together since we are on the same boat". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Watch the video interview with Fr. Carlassare on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel</a>Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:49:41 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Manila's "double war": coronavirus and drugs, with unpunished murders - The fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has not slowed down the "drug crusade" in the Philippines. "Currently, the country is facing a double war: one concerning the war on drugs and the other against the coronavirus", says Catherine Guzman, Catholic laywoman of the diocese of Cubao, near Manila, to Agenzia Fides. "We had hoped that the war on drugs would come to an end with efforts to stop the pandemic, but this is not happening", she notes.<br />Since 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte has started anti-drug policy to kill criminals and drug addicts, often targeting the poorest neighborhoods in the Philippines and especially those who live in vast slums. So far it has caused 6,600 official victims, but about 30,000 including people killed by unidentified "vigilante squads" and armed executioners: a long trail of extrajudicial killings.<br />Despite the pandemic, the government's deadly push for the "war on drugs" continues, and police attention has also shifted to other areas of the country and other targets.<br />While the coronavirus emergency has already killed 144 Filipinos and records over 3,100 cases of infection, the government has imposed a lockdown of the entire northern island of Luzon, with 57 million people. Provincial and municipal leaders have imposed similar measures in their own communities, practically the entire country of 104 million people in quarantine.<br />On April 1, Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police and military to shoot people who do not respect the lockdown of the nation. "We are really worried and shocked. We are living a double battle every day: with the pandemic or with the drug-related murders", says Sebastian Cruz, 23, to Fides, who lives in a slum in Manila, where people are forced to leave the house to get food.<br />In civil society, human rights groups have called for the immediate cessation of police operations, warning against further abuse during the national health crisis. "It is paradoxical to witness extrajudicial killings while the nation is committed to saving lives from the deadly coronavirus", said Carlos Conde, activist of the Human Rights Watch NGO in the Philippines. Paulin Romer, social worker, hopes that "the national health emergency will lead to the end of the so-called anti-drug crusade" and that "the culture of impunity will cease, so law enforcement can have a free hand to kill without consequences". The lockdown, she notes, "has exacerbated social inequality in the country, leading to further violations of dignity and human rights". <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:31:50 +0200AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - A missionary: "Let's challenge the virus with prayer, charity and hope" - Covid-19 has also reached the Central African Republic. Officially there are eight cases of contagion, but it is feared that the virus may be more widespread. "Last week - explained to Fides Aurelio Gazzera, Carmelite missionary in Bozoum - the President of the Republic announced the first measures . On Sunday we limited the number of those present at Mass, but we managed to broadcast the celebration at 8.30 on our community radio".<br />Father Aurelio, parish priest of Bozoum and at the head of the diocesan Caritas, thus decided to organize a trip to meet the leaders of ten parishes and explain to them how to deal with the possible epidemic. "In each parish - he explains - we had a meeting , in which I first presented the disease , inviting to take this problem seriously. Then we organized ourselves, as believers and as Caritas, to ensure assistance and food for the weakest ".<br />The people I met welcomed this initiative. "Despite the fear - continues the Carmelite -, there is still a great desire to be ready and to give a concrete response to the virus. Unfortunately it will not be easy to block the virus. People here live outside their homes. To be able to get what they need they must go out. Only in this way it is possible to find some jobs, sell or buy essential items and food. Although the number of infections is rapidly rising in Cameroon , and despite travel restrictions, buses continue to regularly go and return from Bangui to the Cameroon border, thus promoting the spread of the disease".<br />Fr. Aurelio took four days to travel 700 km. "It was a tiring journey - he concludes - but it was a great joy to meet parish priests, nuns, lay people who care first of all about others. Fathers and nuns, young and sometimes old all very worried about what may happen if the virus takes hold in Central Africa. And they are all determined to challenge the virus, with the few weapons we have available: prayer, charity and hope" .<br />The Central African Republic is a country on its knees. For seven years, it has plunged into a civil war that, despite peace agreements, continues to reap violence and political instability. In this context, already precarious, the spread of the virus can only further prostrate civil society by affecting many people and causing an increase in the prices of basic foods and basic necessities . <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:10:41 +0200VATICAN - Covid-19, Caritas Internationalis to governments: "Do not forget the poor, migrants, peoples victims of wars" City - "Do not forget the South of the world, migrants and refugees, continue to help countries facing war and poverty" is the invitation that Caritas Internationalis has addressed to governments in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. "Each of the 165 national Caritas has put in place projects and measures to support the populations affected by the pandemic and to prevent the virus from spreading in countries where this it is still in its infancy", explained Aloysius John, during an online press conference with the general secretary of Caritas Internationalis, Aloysius John on Friday 3 April 2020 with some journalists in which Agenzia Fides also took part.<br />Among the key points reported by the General Secretary, first of all the awareness of the global population and the accompaniment of the most vulnerable groups. "Everyone - he remarked - has the right to receive the right orientation to avoid getting infected. We must not lose sight of those poor countries that could be more helpless and in need of global solidarity. In areas such as Syria, South Sudan, Africa in general, the epidemic could lead to a humanitarian disaster. The health system situation in these areas is fragile, our emergency department is mobilized, and we work together with the Holy See to identify what the needs are and how we can help. The different Caritas of the continent are being organized, in connection with the local Episcopal Conferences".<br />"In particular, Caritas is very active throughout Africa to increase awareness so that information reaches even the most remote communities, which can thus equip themselves to prevent the spread of the infection", said Suzanna Tkalec, CI's humanitarian director, and added that in Rwanda for example, Caritas started broadcasting awareness messages through diocesan radio even before there was only one case of COVID-19 and that Caritas Kenya is recruiting doctors and nurses to be hired to address the situation if it gets out of control.<br />"The needs will be immense, - insisted Aloysius John - we will have to strengthen health systems, we will have to be truly pro-active, and solidarity must be up to par. We are all united against a common enemy. I hope that the unprecedented suffering that we are suffering in Europe, and that has taken us by surprise, will help us to be more united. It is very important - he added - what Pope Francis said, that today we are all united, that there is not 'we' and 'them' but we are one human family. Human suffering should unite us, and as a Church we have a role to play. I believe that solidarity will unite us".<br />The General Secretary then gave an overview of some of the most contingent realities, citing among others Italy where, despite the dramatic situation, Caritas’ work has continued through soup kitchens, dormitories for the homeless and assistance to the elderly, including through a dedicated telephone line. In Spain and the United States, the other two countries currently most affected, the respective Caritas, together with other local charitable organizations, are active 24 hours a day. In Venezuela, where the spread of the virus is aggravating an already disastrous economic situation, volunteers also provide food aid and hygiene kits at home. In India, where the pandemic is just starting but hundreds are already infected, Caritas has supplied more than 72 thousand bottles of disinfectant, over 4 million masks and 64 thousand kits for personal hygiene. The Secretary General also stressed the serious risk for such a large population of starvation and thirst. In the Philippines, the desire to continue to help has led to the creation of “kindness stations” where food aid is distributed to the poorest.. In Ecuador, where the spread of coronavirus is now rampant, local Caritas is already helping nearly two thousand people, including about a thousand children and adolescents.<br />The Secretary General urged not to forget the most vulnerable people present in all States. Especially migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, such as the Rohingya who are at greater risk of contagion due to the conditions in which they live and called on local authorities to guarantee them access to basic services, regardless of their legal status.<br />Aloysius John recalled that, in line with Pope Francis and with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples who is also president of Caritas internationalis, the body appeals for a ceasefire across the globe, to the cancellation of the public debts of developing countries and the elimination of sanctions in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iran. "The future will not be like the past, and this is also why we must prepare to help people return to normal life by giving strong reference points", said Aloysius John with regards to the post-crisis.<br />The Secretary General of CI concluded the conference by saying that today, Saturday 4 April 2020, he will be received by Pope Francis "to explain to him what we are doing as a mission of the Church in support of the various local Churches. The Pope has already given help to Italian Caritas, but also funds for China. In addition to informing him, we will ask him how to continue this mission, how to witness the Pope's solidarity in particular for the south of the world and for Africa, where there would be enormous needs if the coronavirus were to spread". <br />Sat, 04 Apr 2020 10:55:59 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Coronavirus: an appeal for universal solidarity from the President of the Episcopate - "Dear brothers and sisters, the pandemic due to the coronavirus puts man in front of his fragility; but then the thought of God expressed by the apostle Paul helps us: charity never goes", said His Exc. Mgr. Ignace Dogbo Bessi, Bishop of Katiola, Apostolic Administrator of Korhogo and President of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast, who launches an appeal to universal solidarity in the face of the spread of the Coronavirus which is causing mourning in thousands of families and ruining the world economies.<br />According to the Bishop of Katiola, the misfortune affecting the whole world can be quickly overcome "only if the struggle is fought in universal charity" which requires honesty and transparency from all in managing the funds allocated to the fight against the coronavirus.<br />"The whole world has no right to make such a context of upheaval flourish, the saying: 'the misfortune of one makes the happiness of the other' should be banished from the thought of humanity. On the contrary, the misfortune of some is the misfortune of all according to the word of God which says: when a member of the body suffers, all the other members suffer with it ", underlines Mgr. Bessi. "If we suffer with those who suffer from this pandemic, if we are in solidarity with their misfortune, we cannot take advantage of it to do business and get rich by exploiting the disease".<br />In ending his appeal for universal solidarity, Mgr. Bessi recalled that unity in prayer will quickly make us victorious over the coronavirus and the world will resume its march with much more hope in unity and charity without discrimination. <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:24:25 +0200ASIA/TURKEY - Covid-19, religious minority foundations join the "Donation collection" launched by Erdogan - The Turkish foundations headed by minority religious communities are preparing to participate in the collection of donations launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a "National Solidarity Campaign" to collect resources necessary to counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey. The Jew Moris Levi, representative of the Foundations of the minority religious communities within the National Assembly of the Turkish Foundations, told the Turkish media that the whole sector of the Foundations represented by him, without exception, has already taken steps to respond quickly to the request for concrete solidarity expressed by the Turkish President, while Isaak Haleva, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish community in Turkey , has already announced that he will donate the equivalent of five months of his personal salary to the donation campaign.<br />On March 30, Erdogan launched the "National Solidarity Campaign" to support the new coronavirus, conducted under slogans aimed at affirming Turkey's "self-sufficiency" in such battle. Erdogan inaugurated the collection of donations by announcing that he had donated the equivalent of seven months of his personal salary to the campaign, underlining that the initiative aims to support above all those who struggle more economically in daily life, starting from workers who are not receiving their salaries. Members of the government also joined the campaign with a total donation of 5.2 million Turkish lira .<br />In recent weeks, among the conspiracy theories circulated in the Turkish media about the pandemic, those of Fatih Erbakan, leader of the Yeniden Refah Partisi movement, have been noted: in his opinion, "Although there is no concrete evidence, Zionism could very well be behind the coronavirus".<br />At the beginning of March , the communication office of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had sent to the foundations that belong to the minority religious communities the request to sign a document of unconditional support for the Turkish government and army, at a time when Turkish soldiers continue their operations on the scenarios of the ongoing conflict in the Syrian province of Idlib. <br />More than 40 villages and neighborhoods in the Country are in quarantine, due to the epidemic. According to official figures provided by the Turkish authorities, at the end of March the confirmed cases of people infected with coronavirus was around 11 thousand units, with less than 800 patients in intensive care.<br />The donation campaign launched by Erdogan was harshly criticized by representatives of the opposition. Meral Akşener, founder of the Iyi Party, has controversially invited the Turkish President to add the plane given to him by the Emir of Qatar to his donations.<br />In Turkey, the approximately 170 foundations linked to ethnic and religious minorities present in Turkey - including those animated by Jews and by Christian Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Syrians, Chaldeans, Bulgarians and Georgians - operate according to the provisions and regulations defined by the Directorate General of the Foundations. In recent years, these bodies are in a situation of institutional uncertainty: in 2013 a new regulation had been drawn up to redefine the relations of the Foundations with the governmental apparatuses and their internal functioning, but this de facto regulation has never entered into force, preventing the renewal of the executive positions of the individual institutions. <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:20:10 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Slums closed "they risk exploding": social effects of the fight against covid-19 – There are just over a thousand cases and the dead are counted on the tip of a hand, but in South Africa Covid-19 is equally scary. "The virus - explains to Agenzia Fides Pablo Velasquez, a Scalabrinian missionary in Johannesburg – is worrying. However, what is frightening is the spread of the epidemic, but also the possible social reaction to quarantine".<br />The decrees of President Cyril Ramaphosa impose the closure of economic activities and the obligation to stay indoors. For the middle class and the wealthier class, this is not a problem. "The wealthy sections of the population - continues Father Pablo - have economic resources and employment guarantees that protect them and help them comply with the directives. This is not the case for the poorest sections of the population".<br />Slum dwellers in large South African cities live thanks to informal economy: small businesses, household services, etc. They have no protection. "For them - continues Father Pablo - not working means not earning anything and therefore do not have resources to buy food for the family". <br />Closing slums can worsen the infection. Living conditions are very harsh. Families of five, six people often live in a small room, one next to the other. The spread of the virus thus becomes easier.<br />The condition of immigrants who represent 7.5% of the population is particularly dramatic. "In this lockdown phase - observes Father Filippo Ferraro, Scalabrinian missionary in Cape Town - migrants have difficulty renewing residence permits. They cannot work and therefore have no money to eat".<br />Thus, while the police patrol the residential neighborhoods, soldiers in warfare have been sent around the large slums. "Closing a township - explains Father Filippo - is like closing a boiling boiler: if you don't let it vent, it risks exploding".<br />In this context, the healthcare system does not seem ready to face a large-scale epidemic. "The local system - Father Filippo concludes - is similar to the American one, where the best care is guaranteed only to those who can afford it economically. So most of the poor population is forced to turn to the few public structures. The risk is that there are not enough structures to contain the spread of the virus". <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:06:41 +0200AMERICA/ARGENTINA - 500 years since the first mass: "May our life regain meaning, desire, enthusiasm in order to put it at the service of the poorest"ío Gallegos - On the 500th anniversary of the first Mass in Argentine territory, in 1520, in the current city of Puerto San Julián, Santa Cruz, the Bishop of Rio Gallegos, Mgr. Jorge García Cuerva, celebrated on 1st April in the seat of the Bishopric a mass of thanksgiving without the presence of the faithful. The measures adopted to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in fact forced the cancellation of the events planned for some time for this jubilee .<br />Pope Francis sent a letter to express his closeness. Although due to the pandemic these days, humanity seems to walk "with a sad face" like the disciples of Emmaus, the Pope wrote, God is always among us in the sacrament of the Eucharist and encourages us to walk. "The presence of Jesus in the Eucharist which, silently and discreetly, has accompanied us for over 500 years - writes the Pope -, is the sacrament of the covenant that God wanted to seal with his people, with our people: He is in among us, supporting the journey. This certainty that we have inherited from our parents and grandparents is the spiritual reserve that has accompanied, shaped and forged the soul of our nation and hope that will also shape the future of our children and grandchildren".<br />In his homily, the Bishop took his cue from the Gospel passage of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes: "Jesus saw a large multitude that came to him and saw them in need and hungry". In this period of pandemic, he said, "the needs of our people seem to multiply and, therefore, the temptation to look the other way may arise". For this reason, he recalled that "our gaze is a reflection of the mercy of Jesus, who continues to choose sinners, the discarded of our society".<br />In the face of the suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of many people due to the pandemic, the Bishop invited to ask oneself "What can we do?". "We can offer what little we have … Who among us does not have his 'five loaves and two fish'? We all have them! "And he added:" If we are willing to put them in the hands of the Lord, they will be enough for there to be a little more love, peace, justice and joy in the world. God is able to multiply our small gestures of solidarity".<br />Referring to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the first Mass, Mgr. García Cuerva commented that "this April 1st we were suppose to be in San Julián and live three days of meeting and celebration, many of whom came from all over the diocese and from other parts of the country and from abroad". Then he underlined: "500 years after that endeavor, we ask the Lord Eucharist for our life to regain meaning, desire, enthusiasm and put it at the service of the poorest brothers, so that the desire of Jesus can become reality; the civilization of love, in the logic of fraternity, in the logic of giving, of meeting in diversity; because nobody saves himself alone, as the Pope told us, we are all in the same boat, in the middle of the storm, rowing together; then we all sit at his table, the table of the Eucharist, the table of the Bread of Life". <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 12:41:15 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The Church invites to practice charity with the most vulnerable and publishes a vademecum for priests - The Catholic Church in Mexico has launched an urgent appeal to the population to practice charity and support the most vulnerable, because in the face of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, the economic crisis affects those who live day by day.<br />Fr. José Manuel Suazo Reyes, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Xalapa, stressed that for the quarantine during which citizens must not leave their homes, teconomy affects self-employed workers who earn something only when they work. "In these times, we try to strengthen actions of charity, because there are many people who live day by day and surely these people are the ones who will suffer the greatest impact, the consequences of this situation", he underlined. And he added that the crisis will not only be for health, but will also be economic, so "we must share, practice charity with the most vulnerable, with the most needy".<br />Because of this situation, "Caritas" will supply groceries to needy families, food for people living on the street and medicines, the priest said. "Caritas will continue to provide essential services, to the poorest people, because there are many poor people", he specified.<br />Mexico is one of the Latin American countries that postponed taking measures against the health emergency compared to other countries, so there are now contagion points in different parts of the nation. The Mexican Bishops' Conference has published a vademecum on the role of the priest during the Covid-19 emergency. It is a sort of vademecum on the exercise of the priesthood in the health emergency of the coronavirus. "The priest must be a great bridge of union between God and his children", reads the introduction of the text.<br />"This is not the time to relax in our spiritual life, we must not allow ourselves to lower our guard against this great risk of contagion; let us be careful to know how to take care of ourselves and how to be good shepherds of the whole Christian community that God has entrusted us". These are the main recommendations of the Mexican Bishops in the document "The priest in the face of the great Covid-19 challenge".<br />Responsibility, prayer, solidarity, service and prudence are the titles of each part of the document, which motivates pastoral action in this emergency situation, illustrating some elements of health prevention. <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 12:24:53 +0200AMERICA/ECUADOR - "From pain we build unity": call of Bishops to civil society, parties, government, in the face of the pandemic - "The families of Ecuador are experiencing moments of distress, pain, uncertainty ... for the proliferation of the Covid 19 pandemic in our country, a situation that requires urgent and adequate attention from all and each of us", writes the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference of Ecuador, in the note entitled "From pain we build unity", sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />According to the news gathered by Fides, the situation is dramatic. In Ecuador, 2,758 infections were recorded with 98 deaths, out of a population of 16 million inhabitants. People die at home and nobody takes away the bodies for fear of contagion. Many bodies are abandoned on the street.<br />In the text, the Bishops ask civil society to "strengthen unity and solidarity, to respond, with concrete actions, to the needs of people, who love life and see their brothers and sisters in a situation of high risk". Therefore from parties, movements, social and economic organizations, the Bishops "demand, in the name of God and our people suffering for the effects of Covid 19, to leave aside special interests", and underline: "political truce is imperative and national unity is imperative". Finally, the national government must provide everything necessary, such as infrastructures, medicines, health teams, "to assist, promptly and efficiently, the needs of the people infected by Covid 19".<br />In the end they invite us to look to Christ Jesus, "who suffers his martyrdom and his cross in every person infected by Covid 19, and who opens the way to life and resurrection", urging us to "face this crisis together in such a way that the desire of Jesus, "that they be one" is realized here and now". They conclude by invoking Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, to intercede with her beloved Son "for our dear Ecuadorian homeland and for all the countries in the whole world". <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 11:42:58 +0200OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - Aborigines: quarantine as a time for reflection accompanied by John Paul II - Take advantage of the period of social isolation, aimed at containing the emergence of the Coronavirus in order to be inspired by the words that John Paul II addressed to the Aborigines and the islanders of the Strait of Torres in 1986, because "his message at the time sounded revolutionary, but in current circumstances it gives us hope and strength and the awareness of being a united nation against a common threat". This is the invitation, contained in a note, sent to Agenzia Fides, which the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Torres Strait addresses to its community.<br />In his 1986 message, John Paul II invited Aboriginal Catholics to put themselves in an attitude of "reconciliation" to make their contribution to the growth of the nation: "Only in this way you will give your best contribution to all the brothers and sisters in this great nation. You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. The church herself in Australia will not be fully the church wanted by Jesus until you have made your contribution to his life and until this contribution has been received with joy by others". This contribution, according to the Polish Pontiff, bears the imprint of the Holy Spirit: "During all this time the Spirit of God has been with you. Your 'dreaming' is your way of touching the mystery of the Spirit of God in you and in creation. You must continue to strive to reach God, and persist in this attitude in your life".<br />In this period of emergency, the Catholic National Council of Aborigines and the Strait of Torres is carrying out a service of assistance to the most needy, offering kits of personal effects for hospital stays and support via Skype for older people. A "mailing list" service has also been activated which provides updates and useful information regarding the covid-19 emergency. In this regard, the note reads: "We try to support our communities by sharing useful information to deal with this crisis. We are not expert doctors, but we suggest everyone to follow the guidelines set by the government and medical authorities. For our part, we pray that all our communities are safe: priests, families and communities are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult and challenging period".<br />The National Catholic Council of Aborigines and Islanders of the Strait of Torres is the highest consultative body of the Australian Bishops on issues relating to native communities, which include over 130,000 Catholics. Among the activities within the Council's competence there is the sacramental journey and pastoral care, charitable support for the poor and assistance to the sick and prisoners. <br />Fri, 03 Apr 2020 11:17:51 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Covid-19 emergency, help arrives at the Vatican and a letter from Chinese Catholics: "Holy Father, take care of yourself" - "Holy Father, during the epidemic, may you also have your person at heart. Do it for us, 1.3 billion Catholics around the world. Please take care of yourself too!". This is the recommendation that Chinese Catholics address to Pope Francis from the bottom of their hearts. An open letter addressed to the Bishop of Rome and published today on Xinde Press website, the widest platform for Chinese Catholic communication. "The same recommendation" reads the letter "we would like to extend to those who administer Casa Santa Marta and its secretaries: may theytake care of the Pope, in this difficult period, and watch over the safety distances when he has to meet visitors. And if he must necessarily receive someone or participate in events with other people, we hope very much that the Pope will also wear a mask".<br />In the words of the letter addressed to the Pope one perceives the loving concern of those who also care about the health of a person they love so much, at a time when danger is incumbent on everyone. As a gesture of faith and communion, countless Chinese Catholics remained awake or woke up on purpose in the middle of the night to follow via internet the extraordinary act of prayer in times of epidemic presided over by Pope Francis on Friday 27 March in St. Peter's Square . A large number of them are following the Pope's spiritual suggestions every day to live their own Lenten spiritual journey in this time devastated by the global health emergency.<br />The aid collected with the coordination of Jinde Charity - as well as those sent by other communities and private citizens - are arriving in Italy and in the Vatican with the logistical support of the Italian embassy in Beijing and the Italian Foreign Ministry, which has made it possible to coordinate and organize the air transport of the collected aid. On March 28, the second shipment of aid sent by Chinese Catholics arrived at Malpensa airport , for a total value of 450 thousand euros. Through the Vatican Pharmacy, the aid was sorted to the Office of the pastoral care of the Vicariate of Rome . Large quantities of the same health devices were sorted to the Diocese of Macerata, to the Gemelli Hospital of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, to the field hospital of the National Alpine Association. The first shipment of medical devices shipped thanks to the collections of Chinese Catholics had arrived in Italy two weeks ago, in which case the protective equipment had been taken over and redistributed by Caritas Ambrosiana, in the territory of the archdiocese of Milan and in Lombardy, epicenter of the pandemic. Now the third shipment is ready to leave Beijing with the first available direct flights to Italy.<br />Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, Pope Francis has publicly shown his closeness to the Chinese population heavily affected by the virus also with direct references expressed at the end of the Wednesday general audience or after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus. As confirmed by Mgr. Segundo Tejado Muñoz, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, quoted by Xinde Press, "through Jinde Charity, Pope Francis donated 200,000 euros unconditionally to China for prevention/epidemic projects and assistance for the elderly, to express his love for the Chinese people".<br />Chinese Catholics are living this emergency with a great sense of faith, comforted by the gestures and words of the Pope who calls everyone to prayer and fraternal solidarity. In addition to Italy, aid from Chinese Catholics and Protestants also arrived in South Korea and Spain, also provoking free gestures of gratitude from people affected by this spontaneous charity movement. Don Giovanni Battista Sun, President of the "Li Madou" Study Center of the diocese of Macerata, stressed that the emergency that Italy is going through, the Country of the Jesuit Matteo Ricci from Macerata, had aroused concern in all Chinese, Catholic and non-Catholic. And a Chinese scholar wanted to send 10 thousand Yuan to Jinde Charity asking to use it to send aid to the population of Macerata. The Amity Foundation, the Chinese Protestant Christian Foundation renowned for printing hundreds of millions of Chinese-language Bibles, is collaborating with Chinese Catholics to help countries most affected by Covid-19 such as Italy, Spain and Germany "in the name of all Chinese Christians". "Christian charity", says Father John Baptist Zhang, at the head of Jinde Charity, to Fides "is borderless, and especially now it is urgent to look at the sufferings of the whole human family with the spirit of Christian charity, as faith and the magisterium of all the Popes teach us". Fri, 03 Apr 2020 11:10:46 +0200ASIA/MONGOLIA - Appointment of the Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar City - The Holy Father has appointed Father Giorgio Marengo, IMC, currently regional councilor of Asia, Superior for Mongolia and parish priest of Mary Mother of Mercy in Arvaiheer, as Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar , assigning him the titular see of Castra Severiana<br />Fr. Giorgio Marengo, I.M.C., was born on June 7, 1974 in Cuneo, Italy. From 1993 to 1995 he studied Philosophy at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy and from 1995 to 1998 Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University . From 2000 to 2006 he completed further studies at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, obtaining his Licentiate and Doctorate in Missionology. He was ordained a priest on May 26, 2001.<br />Since his priestly ordination he has held the following roles: Pastoral Ministry in Mongolia in Arvaiheer ; since 2003: Assigned to the Mission in Mongolia ; since 2016: Regional Councilor for Asia, Superior for Mongolia and parish priest of Mary Mother of Mercy in Arvaiheer. <br />Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:13:50 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Elevation of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kontagora to Diocese and appointment of the first Bishop City - The Holy Father Francis elevated the Apostolic Vicariate of Kontangora to Diocese, with the same denomination and territorial configuration, making it suffragan of the Metropolitan See of Kaduna. The Pope has appointed His Exc. Mgr. Bulus Dauwa Yohanna, currently Apostolic Vicar of the same see, as first Bishop of the Diocese of Kontagora.<br />The Diocese of Kontagora with an area of 46,000 sq km is located in north-central Nigeria and includes the States of Niger and Kebbi. The Apostolic Vicariate was led by the Fathers of the Society of African Missions . The seat of the new Diocese is the same, as well as the Cathedral , the residence of the Bishop and chancellery. <br />Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:08:31 +0200ASIA/CAMBODIA - Covid-19, Catholics nurture faith with "spiritual communion" Penh - As Holy Week approaches, Catholics in Cambodia continue to stay at home, given the Covid-19 emergency and, given the suspension of religious services following the epidemic, nurture their faith with "spiritual communion".<br />The Cambodian government has also banned all public meetings, has imposed the closure of businesses and closed schools, imposing a "community quarantine". There are over a thousand infections in the country, with 17 deaths.<br />The leaders of Cambodia's Catholic communities have invited the faithful to stay home and participate in religious activities via online streaming. As Fides learns, many lay Catholics are promoting their faith through prayers, reading the Bible, parying the Rosary and other forms of devotion at home. "We are in an emergency situation. Since we are told to stay home, we cannot do anything other than carry out some domestic worship activities and maintain our faith and trust. We are in spiritual communion with our Priests and with other members of the community", says 23-year-old Catholic social worker Hun Sophea. "We continue to pray intensively for these extraordinary times to end soon", she added.<br />Another lay person, Kim Chea, tells Fides: "Like everyone else, we are blocked at home, but above all many poor people are affected. Furthermore, it is so bad that we cannot attend masses, especially during Holy Week. Depending on the situation, we are united with the universal church and pray hard that the world will overcome this pandemic with the grace of God".<br />According to Catholic lay woman Khieu Yi, "we pray the family rosary and recite morning and evening prayers. Now is the time to value our faith more than before".<br />With the lockdown, the woman said, "the poor are seriously affected, as thousands of people in Cambodia live by the day". <br />Thu, 02 Apr 2020 13:04:49 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - Lebanese San Charbel "co-patron" of a large trade fair and exhibition center in the Italian city of Milan for Covid-19 patients - Lebanese Saint Charbel, together with the Lombard San Riccardo Pampuri, will be co-patron of the new hospital set up in record time in the building of a large trade fair and exhibition center in the Italian city of Milan to host patients affected by the coronavirus epidemic. On Monday, March 30, during the blessing rite of the new health facility, the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini, entrusted "this place of care and hope to the intercession of the saint doctor Friar Riccardo Pampuri and the holy Lebanese thaumaturge Friar Charbel Makhluf". Archbishop Delpini also addressed "Mary, mother of the sick, our prayer to obtain the divine blessing on this hospital, on those who designed and set it up, on the sick who will be welcomed there and on those who will do their utmost to serve".<br />Riccardo Pampuri the young doctor from Trivolzio who entered the Fatebenefratelli family, is a dear and familiar saint for many Lombard Catholics. And Lebanese priest Assaad Saad, at the head of the church of Santa Maria della Sanità in via Durini, entrusted to the Maronite community, reports to Agenzia Fides that "even before the pandemic many sick people came to Milan from southern Italy for cancer treatment. They asked to venerate the saint's relics before entering the hospital".<br />The mortal remains of San Charbel, a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order, are venerated in Lebanon in the monastery of San Marone in Annaya, kept in a cedar urn. Countless healings, bodily and spiritually, of Christian and Muslim people are connected to the intercession of Saint Charbel, in Lebanon and throughout the world. The prodigious phenomena began to occur post mortem among those who prayed around the monk's tomb, which at that time oozed blood mixed with water. "The pandemic crisis is global", remarked Father Assaad - and perhaps the facto f having both Lebanese Charbel and Lombard Pampuri as patrons of the new hospital for coronavirus patients suggests that there is a universal horizon also in the intercession of saints, much need now". <br />Thu, 02 Apr 2020 12:46:07 +0200