Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/INDONESIA - Catholic journalists: ethics and conscience are crucial when it comes to voting - Amidst rampant practices for the dissemination of hoaxes and false news, before the presidential elections next April, "logic, attention and conscience are really important": said Shinta Nuriyah Wahid, a Muslim intellectual, to Catholic journalists in a recent meeting in which she recalled President Abdurrahman Wahid called "Gus Dur", her husband. Invited by Catholic communicators, the former Indonesian first lady noted that "Gus Dur sacrificed everything in order to protect Indonesia and its national interests". The fourth president of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur, was in power from 1999 to 2001. He was a member of the nation's largest moderate Muslim organization: Nahdlatul Ulama , which has about 80 million members. Iconic figure of the interconfessional hero, protector of minorities, Christians remember him for his commitment to promoting peaceful relations between religious and ethnic groups, and as a defender of the "Pancasila" and the Indonesian pluralist society, against all sectarianism and religious fundamentalism.<br />Shinta Nuriyah Wahid, invited to attend the meeting of "Paguyuban Wartawan Katolik Indonesia", an association of Catholic journalists, held in Jakarta, addressing the assembly said: "What I did with my late husband Gus Dur, for the good of the nation and to protect Pancasila, is a sincere commitment based on conscience". From here comes the commitment to social and religious tolerance that "is the duty of every religion", she remarked. In view of the upcoming elections, during the election campaign, she pointed out: "Your professional vocation is to promote honesty and truth. You are always strictly devoted to the logic and moral conscience. Therefore, among the fake news that will circulate, ethics and deontology will be really important". <br /><br />Fri, 15 Feb 2019 13:40:54 +0100ASIA/INDIA - Attack in Kashmir while Christians, Hindus, Muslims march for peace - "As our journey of peace, harmony and fraternity began, about forty Indian soldiers were martyred in Kashmir. The intent of terrorists is to destabilize the context and relations between India and Pakistan, but also our current government is called to a greater commitment to peace. It is time to respect the human rights of workers, peasants, tribal dalits, minorities and women so that we can all walk on the path of peace, fraternity and protect our constitution and democracy. This is the mission of the Indian government": says to Agenzia Fides Anoop Shramik, human rights activist and organizer of the demonstration and march for peace launched on February 13 from Lumbini and will end in Magahar in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state. The journey of peace wants to highlight "harmony in diversity" and preserve the traditional pluralism of Indian culture. Lumbini is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautam Buddha, while in Magahar Kabir Das, the great Indian poet of "composite culture", died. The five-day march, entitled "From Buddha to Kabir", intends to reflect on the necessary harmony among the different communities, cultures and religions present in India and put the accent on the Indian legacy of love and respect for others. About 300 people from different religions, Christians, Hindus and Muslims working for peace have joined the demonstration that will end with a cultural evening on 17 February at the University of Gorakhpur, in the north-eastern region of Uttar Pradesh.<br />During the journey, the "Prerna Manch", theater group of the Vishwa Jyoti Communications, in the Congregation of the Indian Mission Society in Varanasi, performs theatrical dramas and street performances focusing on the theme of social and religious harmony and respect for others. The group sings hymns on unity, peace and love, thus leading the procession of peace.<br />"Siddhartha Gautama Buddha is a symbol of peace, compassion and non-violence and Kabir is synonym of a composite and plural culture", says Father Anand Mathew, director of Vishwa Jyoti Communications, one of the organizers of the march which includes Vinod Mall, current general director of the police in Gujarat, committed to peace, pluralism and non-violence. Father Mathew, an Indian Mission Society member states that "it is a Christian duty to spread the message of peace and love".<br />Vishwa Jyoti Communications is a group that has been carrying out similar peace events since 2005, when it led a six-month pilgrimage through 45 districts of Uttar Pradesh, spreading a message of peace, love of neighbor, respect for people of all faiths, peoples and cultures.<br />Father Mathew and the Vishwa Jyoti Communications group carry out a service dedicated to promoting inter-religious harmony through dialogue with people. The best aspect of this dialogue is that it takes place in people's daily lives, with the active involvement of committed people of all castes and religions. <br /><br />Fri, 15 Feb 2019 13:15:24 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "An agreement imposed from outside on behalf of rebel groups, who are often foreigners" says a Bishop - "When the agreement reached in Khartoum was signed, it was already a dead letter the next day in Bangui", said His Exc. Mgr. Juan José Aguirre Muños, Bishop of Bangassou, in commenting on the agreement between the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 rebel groups. The agreement was negotiated in Khartoum and then signed on 6 February in the Central African capital, Bangui.<br />The fact that the negotiations took place in the Sudanese capital and not in Addis Ababa the Ethiopian capital and the African Union's headquarters, according to Mgr. Aguirre, is significant because the leaders of five rebel groups feared being arrested there because wanted by the Court International Criminal Court. Sudan, on the other hand, does not recognize the Court therfore Khartoum was a safe place for them.<br />"It is the eighth peace agreement signed in two years", recalls Mgr. Aguirre in an interview with Vida Nueva. "Rebels control 80% of the Country and only the remaining 20% is in the hands of the government".<br />So why was such an agreement signed? "The negotiation was imposed by the international community to save face" said Mgr. Aguirre. Those who gained an advantage are not the citizens of Central Africa but "the rebels, all the radicalized or criminals and almost all non-Central Africans" armed by some Arab countries that in turn buy arms in the United States, says Mgr. Aguirrre. "All this happens with the complicity of the African Union and France".<br />"The rebels are calling for an immunity decree applicable to all and the office of Prime Minister, with the sole aim of dividing the Country in two. Even if they already control 80% of the mines of diamonds, gold, cobalt, mercury, they want more", says the Bishop.<br />The poor inhabitants of Central Africa are paying the price. Mgr. Aguirre concludes by putting himself "in God's hands to transform the hearts of the violent, no one must resume hostilities again and all must seek peace". <br /><br />Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:42:58 +0100AMERICA/ARGENTINA - Preparation for the beatification of Mgr. Angelelli, a Pastor who took care of the last Rioja - The northern province of Argentina, La Rioja is preparing for the beatification of Bishop Enrique Angelelli, of priests Carlos Murias and Gabriel Longueville and layman Wenceslao Pedernera, martyrs killed during the last Argentine dictatorship . "It is an event that goes beyond our province, it has an important national and Latin American dimension, it is a grace for the whole Church", declared the Bishop of La Rioja, Mgr. Dante Gustavo Braida. The beatification mass will be celebrated in the provincial capital on 27 April, presided over by Pope Francis’ envoy, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. <br />The following day, a mass of thanksgiving will be celebrated in Rome, in the presence of the Argentine bishops.<br />"The life and the martyrdom of these followers of Jesus are the 'joy of all the people", reads a note from the diocese sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />Angelelli, who was part of a group of bishops who denounced human rights violations committed during the dictatorship, died on August 4, 1976 after the car he was driving overturned on a highway in La Rioja. At the time of his death, Angelelli, who was 53 years old, was drafting a report regarding the investigation into the murder of Murias and Longueville by the army. The military regime had tried to make believe that the Bishop's death was due to injuries caused in the alleged car accident near the city of Punta de los Llanos, but then justice showed that the accident had been caused by another car and that the bishop died due to a blow inflicted on his neck.<br />Murias and Longueville had been kidnapped, tortured and shot on July 18, 1976 in Chamical, while the lay Pedernera was murdered in the district of Chilecito, also in Rioja a week later.<br />"He was in love with the faith of the poor. He was a priest who took care of the last and brought them God’s consolation", wrote the Argentine bishops. "The death of Angelelli and the way he died are the clear crowning of a coherent life with his convictions and the mission of the shepherd, which is to give his life for his flock. Thus he sealed with his blood his commitment to peace, justice and the integral dignity of the human person, to the love of Christ and of the poor, in full coherence with the Gospel". <br /><br />Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:17:31 +0100AMERICA/PORTO RICO - Towards the Extraordinary Missionary Month: "Every baptized person is called to bring the Good News to the suburbs" - The Church in Puerto Rico is preparing for the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October with an Extraordinary Missionary Year which began a month ago, on January 13, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the Bishop of Arecibo, Mgr. Daniel Fernández Torres, in an interview with Agenzia Fides Agency, says: "Already since its proclamation, the decree that encouraged the beginning of the extraordinary Year has been celebrated throughout the island with the renewal of baptismal promises". The first step was therefore "to deepen the call to conversion starting from the identity of the baptized". "Baptized and sent: the Church of Christ on a mission in the world" is the theme of the extraordinary Month announced by Pope Francis for next October 2019. For this first objective - the missionary conversion - we will try to make the people "get closer to holiness", through "the encounter with the risen Jesus". According to the PMS director, the mission is "a response of love that comes from the authentic encounter with the love of Christ". This personal and living encounter is therefore "fundamental" and leads to faith but, the Bishop recalls, "it is always Jesus who comes to seek us" and "the examples of holiness in daily life drag us towards Him".<br />A second expectation for the Missionary Year is "a greater awareness of the fruits of baptism and of the infusion of the Holy Spirit so that each baptized person may feel guided, together with his community, to bring the Good News to all the suburbs". "The laity are called to make Jesus present in the world, in everyday life", comments Mgr. Fernández Torres, "going out without fear to bring our faith to the streets, to the shopping center, to school, to parks, to sport, at work, in hospital, in culture". The goal is "to transform temporal realities according to the values of the Kingdom". Because of their presence in the Church and in the world, the role of the laity in the animation of the Extraordinary Year "is crucial in every area", observes the bishop of Arequibo.<br />To give impulse to the mission, the Bishop observes, we need to "get closer to God through the sacraments, in the search for holiness as the goal of our lives and we need to deepen the contents of faith, since we cannot love what we do not know". The PMS Director identifies in violence "that has roots in the human heart and in the wounds of the disintegration of the family" the greatest challenge for the mission in Puerto Rico.<br />"We can change society only if we convert our hearts", he says, recalling the figure of the Puerto Rican Mother Dominga Guzmán, "the family apostle", in the process of beatification. To evangelize the family is therefore a "missionary urgency". For Mgr. Torrez "Christian mothers, courageous laity who testify the truth in different areas of society and offer examples of daily holiness are concrete signs of hope for the mission". Puerto Rico will host the next American Missionary Congress in 2023. <br /><br /><br />Fri, 15 Feb 2019 11:55:36 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - A march to the border: peace between India and Pakistan - "We recalled the message of fraternity launched by Pope Francis and stressed the need for peace in the world. We have committed ourselves together, Christians and Muslims, to continue the mission of peace, harmony and solidarity in order to make Pakistan a better place to live in. I hope this gathering and this pilgrimage will serve to promote genuine peace between Pakistan and India". This is what Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw told Agenzia Fides at the conclusion of a gathering and an inter-religious march for the peace that has reached in recent days Kasur, on the border between India and Pakistan, to the village of Ganda Singh, right on the border, where there was a solemn prayer ceremony for peace.<br />The initiative was organized by the National Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism, in the Episcopal Conference of Pakistan, and saw the participation of Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw, at the head of the community in Lahore and numerous Muslim religious leaders. The Archbishop led the procession from the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Lahore to Ganda Singh: the aim was to send and promote a message of peace and harmony, especially between Pakistan and India. As reported to Fides by Capuchin friar Fr. Francis Nadeem, Executive Secretary of the Commission, the initiative is part of the activities planned in Pakistan to commemorate the meeting of St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Al-Kamil of Egypt, which took place 800 years ago, and also in response to the recent Islamic-Christian meeting of Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi.<br />A celebration of prayer took place at the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Lahore, and there the religious leaders present planted an olive tree in the garden, as a symbol of peace. The procession, entitled "Together for Peace", held on 11 February, was attended by faithful Christians and Muslims who welcomed the initiative.<br />Once in Kasur, those present marched with lit candles, reciting together a special prayer for peace between Pakistan and India. "We want to be ambassadors of peace to support the harmony between the different religions and the different peoples of the world", said Fr. Nadeem. <br /><br />Thu, 14 Feb 2019 13:37:24 +0100ASIA/INDIA - A sister of Mother Teresa in prison: the Church calls for justice Delhi - "It was an emotional heartbreaking visit to jail", said to Agenzia Fides Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas SFX, Secretary General of the Catholic Indian Bishops' Conference. After a long wait, Mgr, Mascarenhas was able to visit Sister Concelia Baxla, a nun of Mother Teresa, who together with an employee of the Nirmal Hridya Home, Anima Inwar was arrested two hundred and twenty two days ago on charges of child trafficking.<br />"Nirmal Hriday is one of the 18 houses of mercy run by the Mother Teresa Sisters in the State of Jharkhand. "The misuse of the police force, the manipulations of political authorities, the apathy of our justice system in the story of this poor, naive and innocent woman who has devoted all her life to the selfless service of the poor and marginalized is a story of many poor prisoners of our country. Many like her are languishing in jail as under trials waiting for the slow churning of the wheels of justice which often appear to be spun by money power, political clout, massive media propaganda and even blatant manipulation of evidence", the Bishop told Fides.<br />"The poor sister suffers from diabetes and varicose veins", recalls the Bishop. "Uprooted from her daily routine, left to suffer alone, all of us, her co-sisters, Superiors, Bishops, priests and all who know her and are convinced of her innocence can only look up to heaven in helplessness and hope, as every attempt to even get bail for her has been brusquely rejected by our judiciary at various levels sometimes in a matter of minutes", notes Mgr. Mascarenhas.<br />"What pains me most is that an elderly woman, suffering from ill health could not get bail because the charges had not yet been framed" says the Secretary General, who recalls the Supreme Court order by Judge Madan B. Lokur, who had ruled in February 2018: "Another important facet of our criminal jurisprudence is that the grant of bail is the general rule and putting a person in jail or in a prison or in a correction home is an exception". <br /><br />Thu, 14 Feb 2019 13:11:34 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "A climate of intimidation in society towards the opposition, mass media, the Church" - "The climate in society is rather intimidating and many today are afraid of even talking and expressing dissent towards President Duterte: the episode of the reporter, Maria Ressa and the news portal 'Rappler' is indicative of the situation. The current government seems to want total control of the country, as the Bishops have said, and the critical voices are silenced even with violence: in particular the political opposition, mass media and the Church": says to Agenzia Fides Combonian missionary Antonio Carlos Ferreira, who in Quezon City is the Director of the Catholic magazine "World Mission", a monthly magazine that, with its 7,000 copies distributed throughout the nation, investigates and talks about the missionary dimension and the challenges of evangelization for the Catholic Church in the Philippines.<br />"Rappler's case is symbolic: Rappler is an unpopular organ to the government because, with its excellent work of investigative journalism, reports, with data and stories, the war against drugs launched by the government and talks about the thousands of extrajudicial executions" , explains the missionary.<br />Maria Ressa, nominated in 2018 by the American weekly "Person of the Year" was arrested in her office in Manila for "defamation" and then released on bail. "She was retroactively charged according to a law that punishes crimes on the web, but approved two years after the allegedly defamatory article", notes Fr. Carlos.<br />"What is urgent today in the country is a widespread awareness of consciences about this situation that, little by little, is eroding freedoms and creating a climate of fear in society, but it should be noted that the population seems not to take these factors into account and still gives Duterte strong and unconditional support", the missionary concludes.<br />The allegations to Ressa refer to an article written in 2012 together with the former Rappler reporter, Reynaldo Santos Jr., on alleged links between a businessman, Wilfredo Keng, with drug trafficking and human trafficking. The information website Rappler has repeatedly criticized President Duterte with inquiries and articles especially on the repression of traffickers and on the "crusade against drugs" ordered by the president, which has caused 20 thousand deaths in two years, between alleged drug dealers and consumers. The website also risks closing down for previous accusations of tax evasion. <br /><br />Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:59:38 +0100AFRICA/MOROCCO - Faith lived in joy and openness, waiting for the Popeès - In a scenario characterized by poverty and emigration in the city of Fès "together with about 450 university students who are part of our Catholic community, we have been carrying out many initiatives that make our parish a dynamic place of faith lived in joy and openness": says Father Matteo Revelli, a priest of the Society for African Missions, parish priest of the church of St. François d'Assise in Fès, to Agenzia Fides. The Catholic community, awaits the imminent visit of Pope Francis to the country with joy and works at a social level in the spirit of openness, charity, unconditional mercy.<br />"This year", continues the priest, "I worked hard to ensure that the students could open themselves to the numerous migrants in Fès. Until last July nearly a thousand of them were camping in makeshift tents, on abandoned land, right next to the city's railway station. Without water or light. All of a sudden they were forced to leave this place and settle in some popular neighborhoods of the city where they have a roof over their head, a little water and a minimum of electricity. They are all services that need to be paid, also because now they are no longer allowed to earn their lives asking for alms on the streets, only women with small children are allowed", emphasizes Fr. Matteo. <br />Fès during the winter period is a very cold city and the conditions of survival for those who live in precarious conditions are often difficult. "It is impossible to think of stable structures of Caritas, which require great resources and personnel" explains Fr. Revelli. "Some volunteers from Caritas in Rabat have been giving a contribution, especially with medical aid, offering support to those who cannot afford housing, some food and clothes", he continues. He stresses how the activity has expanded with the involvement of the local baptized: "Now, together with a group of volunteers, we provide a hot meal for 45 people a day and the possibility, for about twenty people, to take a hot bath in the local hammam once a week. The cook is a real 'mother' for migrants: she cooks and serves meals in makeshift places in the neighborhood. The dining room is the bedroom where she sleeps after all her 'children' leave. Every morning my helper distributes 45 meal vouchers to the neediest".<br />The service of assistance has some critical issues: "The situation is becoming explosive, because a part of the approximately 250 migrants in the neighborhood are crowded every night and fight for a meal. Also in the neighborhood, many Moroccan citizens are poor and desperately want a meal, too", the missionary adds. <br /><br />Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:32:35 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - Extraordinary Missionary Month: "Faith and charity to bear witness to our faith" - The Church in Kenya is preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XV’s Apostolic Letter "Maximum Illud", by commemorating the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 announced by Pope Francis.<br />Addressing PMS Diocesan Directors and Pontifical Missionary Childhood Coordinators gathered for their Annual General Meeting , Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Commission for Missions, His Exc Mgr.Joseph Alessandro, Bishop of Garissa, expressed hope that, Kenya shall be able to reawaken the missionary spirituality in all the baptised Catholics and endear to them to courageously bear witness to Christ in the contemporary world.<br />"We need to share out our faith and believe in God. Faith is strengthened when it is shared, revitalised when expressed and energised when lived authentically", said Mgr. Alexander. "We are called to be on the move, to dirty our hands in the work of the Lord and to have the Church sweating on the streets evangelising not by words but good actions that attract, acts that pulls none believers to ask for whom do you work for: our answer remains for Jesus Christ", he added.<br />Speaking at the same time, In Charge of Affairs for the Nunciature Mgr. Marco Ganci said awakening of the heart of the Christian and reviving the Lord who lives in us is the starting point for every true apostolate adding that, the Holy Father reminds Christians of the importance of re-igniting the heart of those who are called to bring Jesus to parts of the world where Christ is not known or where he is already forgotten.<br />"Pope Francis knows it well and writes it also in his letter: any missionary activity, any work of material and spiritual charity, is born and feeds exactly from a double passion that animates the true disciple of the Lord, an inner passion that flows and feeds from the personal adherence to the Word of the Gospel and from that experienced charity that has always animated the life of the saints", said Mgr. Ganci. <br /><br />Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:01:10 +0100ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - The President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference visits the North with a delegation of religious and civil leaders – To establish relationships of trust and launch various projects and cooperation in various areas such as tourism, culture, religion, education, sport, art with exchanges among students, educators: with this purpose yesterday, 12 February a delegation of religious leaders, government officials and representatives of civil society associations crossed the border and reached North Korea for a joint event on the occasion of the New Year. The delegation, made up of about 250 South Koreans, arrived at Mount Geumgang on the east coast of the north for a two-day stay. Leaders of the main religions of South Korea took part, as well as members of civil groups representing women, young people, agricultural communities, economy, environment, university, and peace movements.<br />As confirmed to Fides sources in the Korean Church, among them was Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, President of the Episcopal Conference of Korea, and other leaders engaged in inter-Korean reconciliation movements. As Agenzia Fides learns, this is the first cross-border event of 2019 and is the result of meetings between members of the Northern Government and the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, active in the government of Seoul. As announced by the Ministry of Unification in Seoul, South Korea has approved more than a thousand requests of its citizens since mid-2017, giving permission to have contacts with North Korea, increasing cross-border contacts in the sports, cultural and religious sectors.<br />Kim Hong-gul, at the head of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, stressed the importance of dialogue and cooperation in the process of rapprochement between the two nations. The Council aims to support the policy of involvement and reconciliation already started in 2000 by former President Kim Dae-jung.<br />Several exchanges and meetings of inter-Korean civilians took place in 2018, when Presidents Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un met three times in April, May and September. <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 13:57:11 +0100AFRICA/TANZANIA - Appointment of the Apostolic Administrator of Morogoro City – Today the Holy Father has appointed Fr. Lazarus Vitalis Msimbe, S.D.S. as Apostolic Administrator "plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Morogoro . <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 13:46:28 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - "With the vote of May 8 we have the power to choose the direction our country will take" say the Bishops - "We hope that the next elections represent a further step in the realization of the society that God desires for us and give us as responsible leaders", is the hope of South African Bishops expressed in a pastoral letter on the general elections to be held May 8th. "The General Election of May 8th presents all South Africans with the opportunity to renew our vision for South Africa. We have the power to choose the direction our country will take", say the Bishops, who warn: "it is imperative that we choose wisely and courageously and not be distracted by false promises".<br />"Our primary concern as your spiritual leaders is that we choose leaders who will promote the good of all by living the values of the Constitution in the light of the Gospel", the Bishops underline, who suggest voters some guidelines on who to choose among the various candidates. "Ask yourself who could eradicate corruption more effectively; provide realistic programmes to overcome unemployment and poverty; appoint selfless public servants as leaders at national and provincial level; effectively reduce the level of violence tyrannising our people; transform those attitudes and practices which underlie the violence against women and children .<br />In short, who do you think would make us proud to be South Africans? Each one must answer these questions according to their conscience".<br />Finally, the message calls for the peaceful conduct of the vote. For this reason the Bishops ask the political parties to refrain from inflammatory, intimidating and inappropriate statements; take visible, decisive action when candidates and their supporters are involved in acts of intolerance, intimidation, harassment and disturbance; respect the election results; do everything to ensure that the rule of law is respected.<br />The Bishops launch an appeal to the media to refrain from sensationalism and to report appropriately and responsibly for the benefit of the common good. <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 13:44:08 +0100AFRICA/NIGER - Faith and perseverance for the communities left without priests and missionaries - More than four months have passed since that September 17 when Father Gigi Maccalli, a priest of the Society for African Missions , was kidnapped from Bomoanga. "This tragic event radically changed the whole life of the Church in the Gourmantché sector, the most flourishing of the Archdiocese of Niamey in terms of the number of Christians and catechumens", says Father Antonio Porcellato, Vicar General of SMA to Agenzia Fides, who has recently returned from Niger.<br />The Vicar explains: "For security reasons, our three European SMA missionaries, Fr. Vito Girotto and two Spanish Fathers Isidro and Pepe, had to leave the area and cannot return. Two others, Fr. Dass, Indian and Fr. Sylvestre, Beninese, are part of a team that serves Makalondi's three parishes in Gourmantché. Unfortunately now the service is limited because motorbikes and cars can only circulate during the day and only on the asphalt road that goes from Niamey to Burkina Faso. Many rural communities can therefore only be reached on foot or by bicycle. In the parish of Bomoanga you cannot even access on foot all the part that goes towards the border with Burkina because of the risk of attacks".<br />"Throughout the sector - the missionary continues - the activities and pastoral and social initiatives of the parishes are suspended, except Sunday Masses in the main centers accessible by car. It is a time of trial for all in which only faith and perseverance will support the communities of the villages, who must go forward without the help of priests and missionaries".<br />"All ten confreres with whom I shared my experience in Niger are convinced that their place is here, in this largely Muslim society, and have reaffirmed their desire to collaborate with the Archbishop of Niamey Mgr. Laurent Lompo and the other pastoral workers of the diocese. In such a delicate context - continues Fr. Porcellato - I think it was important to make all our priests and the Bishop feel the closeness of the whole SMA congregation. In the hope of seeing Fr. Maccalli soon". <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:15:41 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - "The country is on the brink of collapsing": the Bishops denounce violence, intimidation, misery - "The moment is serious, because there is violence against life, we deplore the loss of life and property registered recently during the demonstrations. We take this opportunity to express our solidarity to the victims and relatives of the victims.<br />Poverty increases, the common good is threatened. The country is on the brink of collapsing! This situation cannot last any longer". This is what the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti wrote about the terrible situation of general violence that the country is experiencing after the population took to the streets to demonstrate against the government of President Jovenel Moïse.<br />On Saturday 9 February, in Port-au-Prince, a 14-year-old boy was killed during a demonstration, another person died on Sunday 10 in Jacmel , as reported by the local media. The police used tear gas to disperse the hundreds of young people from the poorest neighborhoods who marched on Monday 11 on one of the main arteries of the capital. In the confusion, shops were looted. According to local information, such a mobilization had never been seen.<br />The popular anger is intensifying with the worsening of the economic difficulties suffered by the poor majority. Faced with inflation that has exceeded 15% for two years, the demonstrators' first request is to have something to eat. Frustration was exacerbated by the publication, at the end of January, of a Court of Auditors' report on disastrous management and possible diversions of funds lent by Venezuela to Haiti since 2008 to finance its development.<br />The situation of tension continues today. Roadblocks are reported in several cities where the events took place on Monday 11 February. For fear of violence, the vast majority of schools, businesses and administrations remained closed. From the national mobilization of the opposition, on 7 February, which marked the two years of Jovenel Moïse's presidential term, spontaneous minor demonstrations were organized in the main urban centers. They were accompanied by barricades built by young people who stopped anyone trying to cross them, setting vehicles on fire, looting shops, in an atmosphere of intimidation that stopped the capital Port-au-Prince.<br />This is why the Catholic bishops have appealed "to the conscience of the citizens of the different parties for a patriotic decision" according to their message, published on Monday evening, 11 February, and sent to Fides. "We must find a wise solution that takes into account the best interests of the nation and the defense of the common good, in this sense we call upon the conscience of the citizens of the various political parties for a patriotic decision", the Bishops conclude. <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:01:44 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Bishops: let us persevere in reconciliation and peace, let us fight corruption, let us keep hope aliveà - At the end of their Plenary Assembly , the Bishops of Colombia published a message to the people of God to share some food for thought which arose from their meeting.<br />In the text, sent to Agenzia Fides, the commitment "to persevere in the construction of reconciliation and peace" is mentioned, and for this reason "it is necessary to assume the culture of encounter, which allows us to open ourselves to all Colombians, accept the differences and deactivate hatred and revenge". This culture of encounter, as the Bishops recall, is based on respect for life, for every life, and on the rejection of the nefarious dominion of death, which is reflected in terrorism and in the various forms of violence in all environments , especially in the assassination of leaders, which has occurred in almost the whole country.<br />"We invite the ELN guerrilla to a serious reflection on its serious actions, with which it has deeply wounded the Colombian people and, above all, has broken the horizon of trust and peace - the Bishops continue -. This is why we call on the guerrillas to unequivocally demonstrate their will for peace, by abandoning their arms and joining the efforts of so many brothers who have left the path of violence and joined the struggle for genuine peace". Therefore they invite the illegal armed organizations "to listen to the voice of the Colombian people, to become aware of the general rejection of society towards the violence they want to impose" and ask them to abandon their criminal actions.<br />The Bishops then call on the national government to continue its efforts to gather all the living forces of the country in order "to define and implement an integral peace policy", in order to reach "a political solution regarding the armed conflict". "Peace is a right and a commitment of all", they reaffirm.<br />The second issue addressed is "the open fight against corruption in all areas". "Corruption has become entrenched in our culture - they write -, has affected the political, economic and social life of our nation, and now we passively accept it. Thus it has turned into one of the most serious scourges, which prevents progress and destroys trust in institutions". The Colombian people, who have already expressed themselves in various ways against corruption, this year have the opportunity, thanks to the elections, "to advance in the fight against this cancer of corruption and to build together the common good".<br />The third point concerns equity and solidarity as expressions of social transformation. In the fidelity to the history of commitment of many Colombian institutions, including the Church, in works of human promotion, the Bishops underline the need to continue today "in the commitment of service and solidarity towards the poor, the marginalized and migrants". It is time to do more to overcome the inequalities that exist between the brothers of the same nation, and also the "clamorous situation of the Venezuelan brothers in our country calls us to a more generous solidarity". Finally, they invite all the Colombian people to "keep hope alive" and to "intensify prayer, with the certainty that there is hope in Christ". <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:26:06 +0100ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - New Caritas projects for the elderly and drug addicts - "The Caritas of Almaty is trying to give shape to a dream of Bishop José Luis Mumbiela: to be able to set up a home health care service for elderly people in our diocese, thanks to Caritas. We have asked some Italian organizations to start the training regarding Kazakh volunteers who can take care of social and health care. We hope, therefore, that the conference in Calcutta can give us the opportunity to establish collaborations or useful contacts to start the project". This is what Fr. Guido Trezzani, at the head of Caritas of the diocese of Almaty and Caritas Kazakhstan tells Agenzia Fides, who was in Calcutta, India, to participate in the series of conferences organized from 8 to 12 February, for the celebrations of the XXVII World Day of the Sick.<br />In addition to the field of care for the elderly, work continues in Kazakhstan on the project to establish a community of care for addictions. In this regard, Fr. Trezzani says: "The Kazakh Bishops are trying to find the ideal location: it has to be a well-connected place with the whole nation, but at the same time it should have specific characteristics regarding the inclusion of community members in the surrounding society. Once the place is identified, we will have to seek the cooperation of local authorities. Given the size of the project and the large size of Kazakhstan, it is likely that the process is quite long, but we hope to have answers as soon as possible".<br />The project related to the world of drug addiction was announced by Caritas Kazakh last November when, after a meeting of the Episcopal Conference, the need arose to meet the needs of people involved in addictions related to alcohol and drugs, creating a special service center, recovery and rehabilitation. The desire – says the note sent to Fides - is linked to the need to "face a problem of considerable size: often, in fact, the support offered by state or private structures is inadequate. People suffering from addiction, after a short pause, fall back nto the previous condition". <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 11:08:13 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of Auxiliary of Port Harcourt City - On 12 February 2019 the Holy Father appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Port Harcourt the Rev. Patrick Eluke, of the clergy of Port Harcourt, currently pastor of the Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Rumuokwuta, assigning him the titular see of Fotice.<br />The Rev. Patrick Eluke was born on 25 March 1967 in Ekpeye, Ahoada, Rivers State, in the Diocese of Port Harcourt. After primary school, he entered the Sacred Heart local minor seminary and continued with courses in Philosophy in the Bigard Memorial Seminary, Ikot-Ekpene, and in Theology in the Bigard Memorial Major Seminary, Enugu. He obtained a civil doctorate in biblical Studies at the University of Port Harcourt. He was ordained a priest on 23 September 1995, and incardinated in the diocese of Port Harcourt.<br />Since priestly ordination, he has held the following offices: 1995-1966: parish vicar of Saint Anthony’s parish, Igwuruta; 1996-1997: pastor of Saint Bernard’s parish, Biara; 1997-2002: pastor of Saint Dominic’s parish, Bane, and Saint Francis’ parish, Kpean; 1997-2005: Pastor of Saint Paul’s parish, Ngo; 2005-2007: Pastor of the Saints Peter and Paul parish, Elenlenwo; 2007-2012: Pastor of the Queen of the Apostles parish, Rumuepirikom; 2012-2013: Pastor of the Sacred Heart parish, Mile II Diobu; 2013-2015: Chaplain of the Annunciation Chaplaincy, University of Port Harcourt; Since 2014: Lecturer in Biblical Studies, University of Port Harcourt; Since 2015: Parish priest of the Saint Francis of Assisi parish, Rumuokwuta; Since 2016: Director of diocesan Pastoral vocational ministry. <br /><br />Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:24:11 +0100AFRICA/GHANA - Appointment of the Apostolic Vicar of Donkorkrom City - On 11 February 2019 the Pope appointed as Vicar Apostolic of Donkorkrom, the Rev. Fr. John Alphonse Asiedu, S.V.D., currently Master of Novices at Nkwatia Kwahu, Koforidua.<br />The Rev. Fr. John Alphonse Asiedu, S.V.D. was born on 12 May 1962 in Adeemmra, Afram Plains, in the vicariate of Donkorkrom. In 1988 he joined the Society of Missionaries of the Divine Word and studied at Saint Victor’s Major Seminary in Tamale. He gave his religious profession on 8 September 1996, after a two-year experience in Mexico in the Overseas Training Program of the Verbite Fathers. He then returned to Saint Victor’s to conclude his theological studies. He was ordained a priest on 19 July 1997.<br />Since priestly ordination he has held the following offices: 1997-1999: parish vicar of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Kwahu Tafo, in the diocese of Koforidua, Ghana; 1999-2005: Assistant to the master of novices in Nkwatia-Kwahu; 2006-2008: provincial Bursar in Accra; 2008-2017: Prefect of Scholastics at the S.V:D. Common Formation Centre of Tamale; and since 2017, Master of Novices in Nkwatia-Kwahu, in the diocese of Koforidua. <br /><br />Tue, 12 Feb 2019 13:43:46 +0100AFRICA/TANZANIA - Appointment of the Archbishop of Mwanza City - On 11 February 2019 the Holy Father appointed as Archbishop of Mwanza, H.E. Msgr. Renatus Leonard Nkwande, currently bishop of Bunda. <br /><br />Tue, 12 Feb 2019 13:39:40 +0100