Fides News English Agency Newsen-usASIA/SRI LANKA - Cardinal Ranjith: “With Francesco to remain in the love of the Lord” – “For the Papal visit to Sri Lanka planned from 13 to 15 January 2015, we have chosen the words ‘Remain in my love’, from the Gospel of Saint John, because we believe the cipher of this pontificate is love. With every word and gesture Pope Francis urges us to remain in the Lord’s love and to carry this love to others: a message that is precious for us here in Sri Lanka”. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo said this in a conversation with Fides, regarding the programme of the upcoming visit by Pope Francis.<br />The Cardinal told Fides: “We will be extremely happy to have the presence of the Holy Father in our land. We consider the visit an honour and a gesture of great encouragement for the Church in Sri Lanka. Preparations, spiritual and regarding organisation, go ahead without obstacles. We await him with joy and will receive him as a dearly loved guest”.<br />“The theme ‘Remain in my Love – the Cardinal explains – highlights the direction of the pontificate of Pope Francis as he strives to render the Church ever more a reality which reflects and carries to others the love of Christ especially to the poor and the needy. In Sri Lanka today the Church is called to spread this message of peace, love and reconciliation ”.<br />“The subject of reconciliation – the Archbishop of Colombo continues – will be central. The visit to our Marian Shrine at Madhu, in the Tamil area, will express precisely this message. We have experienced and we have overcome a time of sadness, a time of warfare. Today we are working to heal wounds and rediscover a spirit of brotherhood and peaceful living side by side. The path is laborious and sown with obstacles: the presence of the Pope will be force of encouragement along our path of reconciliation”.<br />Another event seen by the Christian community as a source of hope is the canonisation of Blessed Joseph Vaz, considered a founding pillar of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka: “We hope and pray the canonisation will take place during the Papal Visit. We know the Congregation for Saints is working hard to complete the details. The fact that today there is a Catholic Church in Sri Lanka and that it survived Dutch persecution, is due mainly to this great missionary Joseph Vaz , who fortified the faith of the community at such a difficult time”.<br />Cardinal Ranjith says he gives no weight to hostile statements by certain Buddhist and nationalist leaders: “All they want is to gain visibility and consensus. I am certain that the whole country and all its religions will welcome Pope Francis with a profound spirit of friendship”. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA – Laity meet apostolic Nuncio, a tradition which encourages the unity of the Church – The National Council for the Laity, a body of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela , has invited lay Catholics to a meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela, Archbishop Aldo Giordano, to be held on Sunday 21 September at the Cristo Re School in Altamira . According to a note sent to Fides, in his address the Nuncio wishes to transmit a special message from the Holy Father”, and will therefore speak of the thought of the present Pontiff, of the Evangelii Gaudium, and also of his own experience in key matters at national and international levels, including the question of the family . <br />The invitation is for all pastoral workers and lay Catholics active as members of Church Movements and at Catholic centres.The National Council for the Laity, the note recalls, brings together all the lay movements in the country. <br />These meetings which have become a tradition, allow Nuncios arriving in Venezuela to encounter the Catholic Laity and understand the reality in which they operate and also offer an opportunity for sharing in view of spreading the message of Jesus Christ and strengthening the unity of the Church. <br />The previous such meeting was held on 24 February 2010, with the then apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, today Cardinal and the Pope’s Secretary of State. On that occasion the Archbishop expressed admiration for the exemplary unity of the Church in Venezuela and his talk on "The new man, true disciple of Jesus," remains a vivid memory for many groups all over the country. There are great expectations regarding the next meeting on 21 September given the present difficult situation in Venezuela today. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Bishops’ Justice and Peace Commission: a ray of hope for India’s minorities Delhi – “There is a ray of hope for the security and future of religious minorities in India”: says the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of India commenting, in a statement sent to Fides, a recent article by jurist Fali Sam Nariman. Illustrious lawyer, constitutional jurist and senior advocate to the Supreme Court, Nariman published a paper with the title “Minorities at the Crossroads” – Fides learned from Fr. Charles Irudayam, secretary of the mentioned Bishops’ Commission - “ which has nurtured new hope in the hearts of minority communities in India”. <br />Recalling historic cases when minorities were subjected to repression, hostility, or attempted assimilation, Nariman lauded India’s Constitution for having consciously adopted protection and guardianship as the only sustainable path for the presence of minorities, and to guarantee their rights and freedoms. Nariman speaks of “crossroads”, noting the present situation and the failure to adopt effective measures to protect minorities from the social, political and juridical viewpoint. <br />“The effort to reaffirm the sacred obligation to safeguard the constitutional rights and freedoms of minorities is laudable. It is important to define precisely that in a democratic nation the majority may not have the power to destroy or undermine the religious, cultural or linguistic rights of minorities” the Commission affirms. If this juridical culture makes headway in India, concludes fr. Irudayam – and this is the hope of the Catholic Church– then there is truly a ray of hope for India’s democracy. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/CHINA - “The mission of priests today”: cultural sharing in Taiwan for a group of priests from He Bei Jia Zhuang – “The mission of priests today” was the focus of a Cultural Formation Discussion in Taiwan for a group of priests from He Bei, held 20 August to 10 September. The meeting was organised jointly, at the invitation of Fu Ren University in Taiwan, by the Chinese province of Lazzarist missionaries together with the He Bei Institute for Cultural Studies of Faith. The event enabled 13 priests from various dioceses of He Bei province to experience three weeks of sharing and discussion on spiritual, pastoral, missionary and cultural topics with missionaries, priests, women religious and lay Catholics resident in Taiwan. <br />According to a report sent to Fides, the meeting, the third such event following two previous editions in 2012 and 2013 held in the Unites States, focussed in particular on the mission of priests in the society of today, “because conversion in the Church must start with conversion of priests. The mission of the priest is to share God’s love with people most in need of care”, said relator Fr. Hugh O'Donell, CM. Discussion considered various areas connected with the mission of priests, such as: formation of youth, formation of the family also regarding Christian matrimony; evangelisation as experienced by the Catholic Church in Taiwan, charitable and social work, service and care for elderly and disabled persons, hospital pastoral work, human concern…. The participants visited 7 communities on the Island and also paid a visit to Bishop Martin Su Yao-Wen, Bishop of the diocese of Tai Chung. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - “A lively Church but the faith needs to be deepened” says President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference - “We intend to work to deepen the Christian faith and also to expand the contribution which the Church can make towards the wellbeing of our country” says Bishop Nicolas Diomo, Bishop of Tshumbe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo , in Rome for the ad limina visit and interviewed by Fides:<br /><br />Bishop Diomo this year marks the 50th anniversary of the sacrifice of Blessed Maria Clementina Anuarite Nengapeta. How are you preparing for this event?<br /><br />“The year to recall Blessed Maria Clementina Anuarite Nengapeta will begin in early December with an important pilgrimage. We will make a three day pilgrimage of prayer to Isiro the place where she was martyred. <br />The Year will help make Blessed Anuarite better known since many of the faithful, our young people especially, know nothing or very little about her. This is why the first purpose is to make blessed Anuarite better known in parishes and Basic Christian Communities and in this way offer her as an example of Christian life and also as someone to whom we all can pray for intercession for our needs.<br /><br />What challenges face the Church in the DRC?<br /><br />Our Church expresses its faith with great vitality as it continues to grow, but we the bishops wish to help the faith take ever deeper root. We note a certain superficiality among our faithful who tend at times to return to magical practices, as if the Christian faith still needs to deepen its roots. <br />This is true even among intellectuals and politicians. Deeper faith would help them act according to Christian values and in this way transform politics itself. Instead we often see this is not the case. This is why our activity tends towards in-depth evangelisation”.<br /><br />In this regard we recognise a major problem due to the persistence of pagan beliefs, the tragedy of children accused of witchery and “banished by their families”. <br /><br />“This drama stems first of all from the dire poverty of too many Congolese families. In this situation it happens that the value of children is relativized to the point that a child is often given away in return for some material goods or benefit. Poverty is a challenge to the Gospel. We see many young people and also our own adult faithful join religious sects to find some immediate material relief from the misery in which they live. <br />We address this challenge in two ways: on the one hand we strive to deepen the faith and on the other we demand that our government manage better the enormous resources of our country in order to relieve the poverty of our people. The scandal of the DRC is that as a nation it is immensely rich in natural resources but its population lives in situations of dire need and poverty and is often the victim of these riches because of persons we can only call predators who illegally take possession of this wealth at the expense of the people and the natural environment, to the point that inhabitants of whole regions are enslaved for the exploitation of mines.<br /><br />Is the Catholic Church involved in furthering the process of disarmament and demobilisation of rebel groups in the east of the country ?<br /><br />“The process of disarmament is the task of the government and the United Nations Organisation. Once disarmed, former combatants are assisted by our structures which provide psychological re-education, rehabilitation in society and family and basic instruction. This is a service that we try to guarantee in every diocese”. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA – At least 2,500 Catholics killed in violence by Boko Haram, Bishop of Maiduguri reports - Some 2,500 Catholics of the Nigerian diocese of Maiduguri have been violently killed in Boko Haram violence, local Catholic Bishop Mgr Oliver Dashe Doeme told THISDAY a local newspaper. The Bishop has taken refuge with thousands of his faithful, in the parish of Saint Teresa in Yola in Adamawa state.<br />The diocese of Maiduguri is in north eastern Nigeria which comprises the states of Borno, Yobe and parts of Adamawa state. In these three States, where Boko Haram concentrates its activity, the Nigerian president Mr Goodluck Jonathan in 2013 decreed a state of emergency, although this did not prevent the Islamist guerrillas from continuing their activity, including the recent conquest of places where a “Caliphate” has been proclaimed . <br />Bishop Doeme says the majority of the displaced faithful now sheltering in Yola parish, narrowly escaped death at the hands of the members of Boko Haram. In the haste to escape numerous families were separated and many parents are still searching for their children. The Bishop also denounced that very often the Nigerian military withdraw without fighting and this, says Bishop Doeme, is due first of all to corruption.<br />The dramatic situation of the displaced persons is the main topic of a statement issued by Caritas Nigeria and the Bishops Conference Commission for Justice and Peace with the title “Adapting our lives to the present warfare ” which affirms: “the simple truth is that Nigeria is at war”. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/JAPAN – Two members of a religious sect kidnapped in view of forced conversion<br />Tokyo – Two members of the Church of Unification in Japan were abducted in view of forceful conversion to return to the “true religion”: the abduction was carried out by family members with the complicity of a local Evangelical minister. Fides was informed by Human Rights Without Frontiers , who say that this sort of abduction of members of minority religious groups in view of forced conversion is not rare in Japan. In recent years many families influenced by prejudice have attempted to force members of Christian sects to abjure their faith. <br />In July this year, the United Nations commission for human rights alarmed about “reports of persons who converted to new religious movements, kidnapped by family members and confined”, called for effective measures to guarantee the right of every individual to freedom of belief. <br />According to HRWF, the two persons recentlyabducted were led under false pretences to an apartment in Osaka where they were confined, while their two children aged 3 and 8 years were taken away. The abduction was carried out with the help of Evangelical minister, Pastor Takazawa. The unfortunate couple, thanks to a call for help sent during the night, were rescued by police and returned home. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA – Floods in Kashmir: Jesuits appeal for help – “We are aware of devastating floods in Kashmir. Two primary necessities, financial aid to buy materials, medicines and humanitarian aid and activate a network of volunteers”. This was said in a report sent to Fides by Jesuit Father Louis Prakash SJ, who is sensitising the entire Jesuit community in India to organize help for the stricken people. “We launch our appeal in the name of a Forum comprising various pro-human rights associations in direct contact with several villages in Kashmir”, the priest explained.<br />Among the medicines, antibiotics are most urgent to prevent the outbreak of epidemics, and also sanitary materials such as masks and overalls and coats for volunteers and doctors. The well renowned Jesuit run India Social Institute of Delhi, is one of several collect points.<br />The Indian authorities are still in a state of emergency after floods in Kashmir caused by monsoon rains. Many rivers burst the banks, causing a total number of at least 200 dead. Rescue workers in India say they have evacuated 130,000 people, but are unable to reach another 300,000 waiting for help in villages in the affected area. The danger, as days pass, is possible outbreaks of gastroenteritis, cholera and conjunctivitis, after flood waters destroyed the water system and interrupted the distribution of clean water, indispensable and available now only to 20% of the population of Kashmir. Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/TURKEY – In school books Christian communities portrayed as tools of foreign powers against the Ottoman empire – Some history books in use in Turkey today, when narrating the end of the Ottoman Empire and the Kemal revolution, still describe the Armenians and other Christian communities as enemy forces at the service of foreign powers, starting with Russia and England. This was revealed by the Armenian magazine Agos, after consultation of text books listed on the website of Ministry of Education for use in primary and secondary schools in Turkey for this new school year which just started. In particular, one history book for use in Grade 8 classes presents the pressure exercised by Britain and Russian on Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire as a factor which unleashed action against the Armenians portrayed as “necessary deportation” and never as massacres. The only Christian minority spared negative reference is the Syrian community. All the others – said a dossier consulted by Fides – are described as tools of foreign powers intent on provoking the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. “The politics of states in conflict, aiming for the demolition of the Ottoman Empire” we read in a passage of the book “was efficacious with Armenian, Greek, Nestorian, Chaldean and Melkite communities, despite its weak effect on the Syrian community ”. .Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/PARAGUAY - “Terrorism can never be combatted with terrorism”; local Catholic church denounces military violenceón – The Vicar General of the diocese of Concepción Bishop Pablo Caceres, told local media that a recent clash between the armed forces and members of Ejército Popular de Paraguay was nothing less than an “execution” of country people "who have nothing to do with the armed guerrilla group ".<br />According to a report sent to Fides by a local source, a government statement issued Saturday 6 September said that the night before a man, a presumed member of the EPP, was killed in an exchange of fire with army troops in which two more presumed members of the armed group were wounded, one of whom died later in hospital . <br />The government representative said the exchange of fire took place in a wooded area near Kurusu de Hierro, in Concepcion, when troops of the Fuerza de Tarea de Conjunta , comprising army members and police, attacked a house where a meeting was taking place between the three persons shot and 8 presumed members of the guerrilla. <br />Bishop Cáceres and the family of the presumed guerrillas, denied that they had anything to do with the EPP. <br />"I visited the home of the Ovelar family where the two persons were murdered. There can be no excuse for the behaviour of the army. It was an execution, for which there can be no explanation. We saw signs of more than 200 gunshots", the Bishop said.<br />Police and army members had intervened on the basis information received regarding a member of the EPP with the same name as the family owners of the raided house. Bishop Cáceres rejects the government version that the group of persons returned fire to the police and army raid. The Bishop added "The peasants could not have returned the fire. They had no weapons, not even knives ".<br />"I fail to understand how such behaviour can be defended. Terrorism can never be combatted with terrorism. The people fear the guerrillas, but now they fear also the army ", the Vicar General concluded.<br /> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - "There is no fighting in Maiduguri, but the army patrols the churches" - "There is no fighting in Maiduguri, instead there is fighting in certain towns nearby" says to Fides Agency Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja, who is in contact with a priest in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State . <br />A few days ago the Forum of Elders of Borno State had raised the alarm about the imminence of an attack by Boko Haram against the city. "From what we know the situation is relatively calm in Maiduguri. The soldiers are everywhere, they patrol the streets and protect churches and parishes", said Fr. Patrick. <br />The army announced that it had inflicted a severe blow on a Boko Haram group that had attacked the town of Konduga, about 35 kilometers from Maiduguri. During the battle which lasted three hours, according to a military spokesman, about 200 militants were killed and several weapons and military equipment were recovered by government soldiers. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - The school year in the Islamic Caliphate: the teaching of Syriac and Christian names of schools have been abolished - Schools in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain which bore Christian names will have to be changed. Also the teaching of the Syriac language and culture and Christian religious education will be abolished. <br />These are some of the conditions imposed by the leaders of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate with regards to educational institutions in Mosul and in the territories of the Province of Nineveh which have fallen under their control. This is revealed by some local sources contacted by the information website in Arabic The cancellation of the teaching of Syriac culture and elements of Christian doctrine are part of the conditions imposed by the militants of the Islamic Caliphate in the education system in order to erase all traces of cultural and religious pluralism in the conquered areas and turn schools into propaganda tools of jihadist ideology among the new generations. <br />Some of the educational institutions related to the Churches, such as the school dedicated to St. Thomas, bore Christian names since the eighteenth century. <br />Last February, the Ministry of Education in Iraq had ordered that the Syriac language and the teaching of the Christian religion were introduced in the currucula of 152 public schools in the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh and Kirkuk. The pilot project was intended to preserve the native language of all the indigenous Christian religious communities that still exist in the Country, marked in recent years by a drastic reduction in numbers due to the surge of migration flows recorded after the fall of the Baathist regime. 152 schools were selected in areas of the Country where there is a greater concentration of baptized Christians. According to data provided by the Directorate for the study of Syriac, the schools involved in the project are attended by more than 20 thousand students. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/LIBERIA - Children orphaned by ebola: One of the side effects of the virus - 20% of Liberian children under 2 years of age have lost their parents to the epidemic of Ebola which, since last March, has had a devastating impact in West Africa. Many remain completely alone, abandoned on the streets, without shelter, food or medical care. Almost all health centers are closed or partially work. Children are not treated even for the most common pediatric diseases such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and severe acute malnutrition. Both in Liberia and Sierra Leone over 3 and a half million children cannot return to school, which remain closed. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal, has so far recorded 4,269 cases and 2,288 deaths. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Week for Peace becomes "Year of Peace" in Cali - With the slogan: "For peace, what can I do?" For the Week of Peace in Colombia, the Archdiocese of Cali has decided to create a standing committee of "ALIADOS POR LA PAZ", that will work for social initiatives throughout the year. <br />The purpose of this standing committee is to work to rebuild the social fabric in Cali, in order to transform a violent reality that unfortunately the areas of Santiago de Cali live, says the note sent to Fides. <br />The committee brings together people from the private sector, government, the world of culture, the Church, grassroot groups and others who seek concrete proposals in order to allow the creation of scenarios for peace through inclusion and social dialogue, pluralism, coexistence, reconciliation and forgiveness. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200VATICAN - "Strong families are our best defense against poverty": meeting on the role of the family in the global economic crisis City - Around 150 people from the Vatican, Caritas organisations, pontifical universities, religious congregations and Italian dioceses will gather in Rome on 18th September to discuss “The Family: a resource to overcome the crisis.”<br />The initiative was organized by Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The meeting will look at how Caritas as the charitable arm of the Church can work through families to better promote development. <br />The outcome of the meeting will form a basis for proposals to the upcoming Extraordinary General Assembly Synod of Bishops on the family. <br />Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, president of Caritas Internationalis, will open the meeting. He said, “The economic crisis has increased inequality and exclusion. With so many challenges, our blood families, our global human family and our spiritual family have become more important than ever in ensuring we don’t fall into loneliness and desperation. Where economic and social systems fail, the solidarity and protection of families are the best defence against poverty.” <br />The seminar will look at the psychological effects of the economic crisis, migration and the pastoral and spiritual approaches for facing the challenges of the crisis, among other things. The financial crisis which started in 2008 has pushed millions of families into poverty. In many countries there are fewer jobs and families even in wealthier countries are finding it increasingly hard to feed themselves.<br />Caritas organisations in many countries offer a variety of services such as food and clothes banks, counselling, loans, job training, healthcare and lodging to help people to cope with the crisis. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/VIETNAM - Land is a source of livelihood for 14% of the indigenous people living in the Country - In Vietnam, the indigenous people represent 14% of the population and the Mong is the largest and poorest ethnic group. The Catholic NGO Manos Unidas, along with other local organizations, has launched a number of initiatives in the north of the Country , to try to improve the living conditions of approximately 2,000 farm families. These ethnic groups, marginalized and isolated, are in fact facing enormous difficulties to gain access to resources to which they are fully entitled and, if they succeed, the lack of training hinders its proper use. These people have limited access to the recognition of land ownership, credit and public services such as education and health and their livelihood is based on natural resources, they plant rice and corn on terraced fields. They also cultivate medicinal plants and linen. However, the benefits of the land is decreasing; deforestation and erosion increase the vulnerability towards natural disasters. In addition, land and the great forests for the natives are not only a source of life, but the places where their ancestors and their divinities lived. The remote location and traditions are a major obstacle to their integration into the market economy and the various opportunities for development, although at the same time, these traditions and habits help them to keep certain areas that ensure environmental sustainability. With their project, Manos Unidas and its local partners have chosen to maintain the value and traditions of these groups, and respect for nature basing their bet on sustainable development, which supports grassroot communities. Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/CONGO DR - Civil society: "the press in Rwanda is being provocative with regards to the border lines" - "Actions aimed at provocation and incitement" is how civil society in North Kivu describes the anticipations in the pro-government press in Rwanda regarding the experts conclusions on the demarcation of the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo . <br />"While everyone is waiting for the formal presentation of the experts conclusions of the work of the two States, scheduled for September 15, we are shocked to read in the pro-government press in Rwanda proclamations of victory to announce that the small barrier, the hills of Kanyesheja and Hehu, will become Rwandan" said a statement sent to Fides Agency. <br />Following a number of clashes between the troops of the two States for the control of borders, Rwanda and the DRC agreed to establish a joint commission to demarcate the borders, on the basis of the Treaty of 1911 between the colonial powers of the time, Belgium for Congo and the German Empire for Rwanda. <br />The committee completed its work in late August, tracing the lines of the original demarcation of the border. <br />"The Provincial Coordination of civil society in North Kivu is patiently waiting for the results of an objective work carried out by the experts of the two States, inviting them to present their conclusions with honesty", the statement continues, which concludes by urging the people of the North Kivu "to remain calm, and to wait and see the contents of the report approved by our government". Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Peace agreement arrives in Congress, but "the road is still long" - The peace agreement between the government in Manila and Muslim rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front , which traces the new "Bangsamoro" administrative entity on the island of Mindanao , has reached the Philippine Congress which will examine and ratify it. <br />President Benigno Aquino, Jr. reaffirmed his will so that the draft agreement - reached after long negotiations with the MILF - is approved and enters into force. But, according to the PIME missionary Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, initiator of the "Silsilah" movement in Mindanao, "the road is still long". <br />In fact, D'Ambra says to Fides, "there are numerous objections already circulating in Congress and it seems that the text will not have an easy life. The government has created a commission of experts and parliamentarians who will examine it in detail".<br />The path towards the entry into force is so full of pitfalls and presents several uncertainties, the missionary said. "There is the presence of the other historic Islamic movement, the Moro National Liberation Front , which claims space and presence. In addition, there is a radical group of the 'Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters', that rejects it because it would like a distinctly Islamic entity and could trigger new violence". In addition, "President Aquino is not experiencing a happy political moment, some are trying to involve him in cases of corruption", said Fr. D'Ambra. Christians and Muslims of "Silsilah" he concludes, "hope and pray for lasting peace, in respect of all religions and ethnic groups in Mindanao". Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church: let's get ready and join the Pope in the Mass on the centenary of the Genocide thenesteesntjeenstjnejestjieest n - The annual meeting of the Synod of the Armenian Catholic Church, presided over by Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX, which was held in the patriarchal seat of the convent of Our Lady of Bzommar, a few kilometers from Beirut, and was attended by 14 bishops and some apostolic administrators ended yesterday evening, Thursday, September 11. During the assembly, the Bishops discussed the condition of suffering that Christian communities share with all the peoples of the Middle East. <br />For the future, the bishops were entrusted to take advantage of all the useful opportunities to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. "From this point of view - says the Armenian Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo Boutros Marayati to Fides Agency - the attention from now on is focused on April 12, 2015, the first Sunday after Easter, when there will be a Mass in ancient Armenian rite celebrated in St. Peter's under the presidency of Pope Francis. The mass will be attended by the Patriarch and all the Bishops. Also the Armenian Apostolic and Protestant, and faithful from all over the world will be present. The dioceses and parishes are doing all they can to encourage the widest possible participation in this great celebration". Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Catholic Episcopal Commission: pilgrims are messengers of peace between Palestinians and Israelis - Pilgrimages to the Holy Land should be encouraged by the Episcopal Conferences around the world also because they represent a form of concrete support for the local Christian communities and because the pilgrims can give an important contribution to the never ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For this reason the Bishops' Commission for Catholic pilgrimages to the Holy Land has released a statement with the intent to encourage pilgrims to visit the Holy Places of the land where Jesus lived, putting aside any hesitation or second thoughts after seeing the deaths and the devastation caused by the Israeli military intervention in the Gaza Strip and the missiles in Hamas. <br />"In recent weeks - reads the text released by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and sent to Fides Agency - violence has again visited the Holy Land. During these weeks of suffering, some groups of pilgrims have canceled their trip. "The members of the Episcopal Commission led by Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate, insist that even in the days of the military intervention, groups of pilgrims in the Holy Land did not run any risk and that "the pilgrimage itinerary between Nazareth, Tiberias, Jerusalem and Bethlehem has always been and continues to be safe".<br />Pilgrimages are also an effective way to support Christians in the Holy Land both at a spiritual and material level. Also - says the document - Christian pilgrims "are warmly welcomed by Christians, Muslims and Jews because they are considered in this area of the world as bridges of peace between Palestinians and Israelis". This is also why the representatives of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land encourage "the pilgrims to come and walk where Christ walked, to be partakers with us in our witness of faith" and see for themselves "how they can become part of our dream of peace". The appeal of the Commission is particularly addressed to the Episcopal Conferences of all Countries, so that "dioceses, parishes and associations, spread our message of encouragement to the pilgrims". Fri, 12 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200