Fides News - Englishhttp://fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAFRICA/IVORY COAST - Cardinal Kutwa announces a march for peace ahead of the October electionshttp://fides.org/en/news/67295-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Cardinal_Kutwa_announces_a_march_for_peace_ahead_of_the_October_electionshttp://fides.org/en/news/67295-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Cardinal_Kutwa_announces_a_march_for_peace_ahead_of_the_October_electionsAbidjan - "Let us go towards peace" is the theme of the march for peace called by His Eminence, Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan, which will take place on February 15th.<br />Over 20,000 young Catholics are invited to take part in the first march of its kind in the history of the Catholic Church in the Ivory Coast, a few months before the presidential elections considered at high risk. In their Message published at the end of the 114th Plenary Assembly, held from 13 to 19 January, the Bishops expressed their concern for the socio-political situation in the Country a few months before the presidential elections in October, and launched an appeal for national pacification .<br />"The march will be an opportunity for young people and women to raise awareness about peace and pray for elections to take place peacefully", said Cardinal Jean Pierre Kutwa in a statement.<br />The march will start in the early morning from Place de la République on the Abidjan Plateau to reach Saint Paul's Cathedral where a message of peace will be delivered.<br />The march will take place two years after the gigantic gathering of young people from the diocese of Abidjan at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny stadium on March 4, 2018, which saw the participation of about 35,000 young people. <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:13:58 +0100AFRICA/MALAWI - The Word of God at the center of Holy Childhood Dayhttp://fides.org/en/news/67292-AFRICA_MALAWI_The_Word_of_God_at_the_center_of_Holy_Childhood_Dayhttp://fides.org/en/news/67292-AFRICA_MALAWI_The_Word_of_God_at_the_center_of_Holy_Childhood_DayLilongwe - "The Catholic Church wants you also to participate in the celebration of the Year of the Bible, and hence, we ask you children to read the Bible and understand together with your fellow children, with your parents and teachers what God is speaking", said the Most Rev. Tarcisio Ziyaye, the Archbishop of Lilongwe on 11 January 2020 at St. John’s Msamba Parish, on the occasion of the celebration of Missionary Day for children as part of the Epiphany celebration, whose theme was "Children are baptized and sent to preach the word of God" . The Archbishop reminded the children that the Holy Father wants every Catholic to spend some of his/her time reading the bible, praying with the Bible and preaching the word of God in their daily life.<br />Over 3,000 children from all the parishes of the Archdiocese gathered joyful at St. John’s Parish. Most of them opened their hearts to the calling of Jesus Christ. Together, they prayed the Missionary Rosary, celebrated the Eucharist, Sung joyful including the Christmas songs and danced together, offered their gifts.<br />Following their motto, ‘Children helping Children’, they happily brought their tin box where they make weekly offerings in their parishes when they are attending the catechetical missionary formation.<br />The event, in addition to Archbishop Tarcisio Ziyaye, saw the presence of the PMS National Director, Fr. Vincent Mwakhwawa, PMS Diocesan Director, Fr. Francis Lekaleka, Priests, men and women religious, the Lay leaders and Animators of the children. Sr. Rabecca Mathole, working for the Association of Women Religious Institutes in Malawi , emphased the need to put much effort in giving holistic missionary to children. She encouraged animators, parents and other pastoral agents to pay attention to the spiritual, physical, social and emotional needs of Children so that children grow with dignity as desired by the God the Father. <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:51:45 +0100OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Bishops and Caritas against human trafficking: a social alarmhttp://fides.org/en/news/67294-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Bishops_and_Caritas_against_human_trafficking_a_social_alarmhttp://fides.org/en/news/67294-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Bishops_and_Caritas_against_human_trafficking_a_social_alarmPort Moresby - "Illegal activities, prostitution, drug laundering of arms and money continue to increase as foreign human trafficking operations are becoming dramatically "normal". This is the warning launched by Caritas of the Country together with the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />The Church of the Country has declared that it wants to collaborate with the police forces already involved in this sector and said it is convinced that before giving adequate indications it is necessary to examine the phenomenon through a multidisciplinary approach, to understand the problem, its causes, identify the processes and people involved.<br />Human trafficking in Papua New Guinea is a very complex problem given its variety of forms, the different nature of the victims and criminals who perpetrate the abuses. A recent report, published by the local newspaper "Post Courier", showed that several foreign multinationals carry out activities not foreseen in their licenses and even contrary to the laws of PNG.<br />The note from Caritas PNG, sent to Fides, ends with two practical recommendations: the first asks for prompt judicial proceedings for traffickers of the various abuses and for those who benefit or benefit from them, at different levels. The other requires greater cooperation, defense and awareness of human trafficking, both at a national and international level through government networks, businesses, religious communities and civil society. <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:44:28 +0100AMERICA/PERU - Message from the Bishops: Elections are a great opportunity to influence the course of eventshttp://fides.org/en/news/67291-AMERICA_PERU_Message_from_the_Bishops_Elections_are_a_great_opportunity_to_influence_the_course_of_eventshttp://fides.org/en/news/67291-AMERICA_PERU_Message_from_the_Bishops_Elections_are_a_great_opportunity_to_influence_the_course_of_eventsLima - At the conclusion of the 115th Plenary Assembly of the Peruvian Episcopate , the Episcopal Conference has published its message, sent to Fides, which concerns the parliamentary elections of 26 January, 2020. The Bishops remind the national community that "the election of the new Parliament offers citizens a great opportunity to influence the course of events in the Country, expressing a responsible vote, according to their personal beliefs". According to the teaching of the Church, in fact, "politics is a high form of charity. Pope Francis reminds us that politics must be above all at the service of the common good and not be trapped by individual ambitions, nor by the arrogance of groups or centers of special interests. Real policy is to work for the common good".<br />Finally, the Bishops present a request to future members of Congress: "We urge you to make a commitment to reconnect politics to citizens' concerns, addressing the problems of the Country and placing the fight against corruption, impunity among its priorities, citizens' insecurity, family violence, feminicides, unemployment". The message ends by highlighting the duty of the authorities: "the government must establish adequate and efficient communication channels, with the people and with all the powers of the state, for the good of the Country". <br />Pope Francis' visit to Peru in January two years ago marked the participation of the Catholic Church in the political and social life of the Country, which intervened on the migration of Venezuelans and mediated in the social conflicts, for example . The Episcopal Conference had outlined a very detailed picture of the national situation in which we read: "We see a systematic process of corruption caused by the divorce between ethics and politics, reinforced by personal and group ambitions, exacerbated by impunity and mistreated by a system that ignores justice. We have reached a point of political break: a new beginning requires not only a change of command but also the ethical and moral recovery of the country at all levels, because high levels of corruption steal hope, especially for the poor and the young", . <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:39:53 +0100ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Caritas project for children with disabilities: new collaboration with the state and with companieshttp://fides.org/en/news/67289-ASIA_KAZAKHSTAN_Caritas_project_for_children_with_disabilities_new_collaboration_with_the_state_and_with_companieshttp://fides.org/en/news/67289-ASIA_KAZAKHSTAN_Caritas_project_for_children_with_disabilities_new_collaboration_with_the_state_and_with_companiesAlmaty - In 2020, the project dedicated to children with down syndrome carried out by Caritas Kazakhstan will grow, thanks to new partnerships in the public and private sector. This is what the National Director of the charitable organization, Don Guido Trezzani tells Agenzia Fides: "This year we will take the project to a different level. In recent days, we met representatives of a national civilian commission that could support our work with disabled children in the next 12 months and beyond, for the future. This would give us the opportunity to increase the number of children involved and to employ specialized personnel".<br />To underline the desire to "start 2020 with a different step", explains Don Trezzani, Caritas Kazakhstan organized a meeting during the Christmas period: "For years, with the families of the children participating in the project, we have respected the tradition of Soviet heritage of the 'tree festival', which welcomes the new year. This time, we thought of making a qualitative leap, involving new partners, such as some important national companies. Their response was positive: we were granted the hall of an important five-star hotel in Almaty. At the same time, a foundation bought nominal gifts for each individual child and the president of the airline company "Air Astana" attended the day, donating gadgets".<br />"Traditions are an important part of our life, because they give a sense of stability and security. Sometimes, however, the time comes to take risks and go beyond the expected standard. So we decided to risk the adventure of an event capable of making our project known to more people. The result went beyond the brightest expectations, not only for the success of the event itself, but also for the prospects of new collaborations that have opened", says Don Trezzani, remarking that "these partnerships will have the beneficial effect of expanding the number of disabled children and assisted families". They also "explicitly acknowledge and appreciate the social and charitable action of the Catholic Church in Kazakhstan", concludes the Director, and this aspect has a positive consequence for all the other activities proposed in the future. <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:13:55 +0100ASIA/LEBANON - 10 Christians and 7 Muslims (4 Shiites and 3 Sunnis) among the ministers of the next Lebanese governmenthttp://fides.org/en/news/67290-ASIA_LEBANON_10_Christians_and_7_Muslims_4_Shiites_and_3_Sunnis_among_the_ministers_of_the_next_Lebanese_governmenthttp://fides.org/en/news/67290-ASIA_LEBANON_10_Christians_and_7_Muslims_4_Shiites_and_3_Sunnis_among_the_ministers_of_the_next_Lebanese_governmentBeirut - Almost three months after the resignation of the government led by Saad Hariri, in a political and social climate still marked by unresolved tensions, Lebanon is preparing to have a new government team, led by the Sunni, Hassan Diab , 60 years old, former professor at the American University of Beirut. The new executive will be formed by the Premier and 19 ministers, 13 men and 6 women. Also this time, from a confessional point of view, the government team will represent a projection of the composite Lebanese religious map: among the 19 new ministers there will be 4 Maronite Christians, 4 Shiite Muslims, 3 Sunni Muslims, 3 Greek Orthodox Christians, 2 Druze, 2 Greek Catholic Christians and an Armenian Orthodox Christian.<br />The names of the government team were announced on Tuesday, which put an end to an impasse of several months, triggered by street protests against the government establishment that had caused the resignation of former Prime Minister Hariri on 29 October 2019.<br />The new government, which enjoys the support of the coalition which also includes the Shiite Hezbollah party and the Free Patriotic Movement , is expected to gain the confidence of Parliament next week, even if it does not seem to satisfy the demands of the anti-system demonstrations that have shaken Lebanon for months, and which have been marked by violence and street clashes in recent days. The new executive appears in fact composed of technicians linked to the Parties who also supported the previous coalition, while among the protesters there were those who asked to entrust the solution of the very serious national economic and social problems to technocrats totally independent of the forces that have dominated the Lebanese political scene. "The media are pessimistic, but we are optimistic", said parliament president Shia Nabih Berri on Tuesday. And also Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, already on Wednesday 22 January underlined the opportunity to "give a chance" to the new executive, while the persistent street mobilizations confirmed the persistent closure of forces and sectors that intend not to grant any credit openings to the new executive.<br />In Lebanon, in the institutional system based on the balance between the different confessional components, the head of government must be a Sunni Muslim, while the President of parliament must be a Shiite and the President of the Republic must be a Maronite Christian. <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:02:48 +0100VATICAN - "Sunday of the Word of God": the contribution of missionaries to translations into local languageshttp://fides.org/en/news/67288-VATICAN_Sunday_of_the_Word_of_God_the_contribution_of_missionaries_to_translations_into_local_languageshttp://fides.org/en/news/67288-VATICAN_Sunday_of_the_Word_of_God_the_contribution_of_missionaries_to_translations_into_local_languagesVatican City - Sunday, January 26, the first "Sunday of the Word of God" will be celebrated in the world, announced by Pope Francis with the Apostolic Letter "Aperuit Illis", so that "the life of our people be constantly marked by this decisive relationship with the living word that the Lord never tires of speaking to his Bride" . The Pope stresses that "the Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its Words" . In this perspective, many missionaries have dedicated a substantial part of their commitment to evangelization to translations of the Scriptures into local languages, to encourage the growth and formation of Christian communities. We cite just a few examples below.<br />Blessed Fr. Gabriele Maria Allegra , Franciscan missionary, OFM, is known for the first translation of Sacred Scripture into Chinese. Sent on a mission to China, after studying the Chinese language, the translation of the Old Testament from Aramaic began in 1935, which ended in 1944. Unfortunately, he lost more than half of the text translated during the war, so he called several Chinese confreres to help him. In 1945 he founded the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Beijing, which was transferred to Hong Kong in 1948. After completing the translation of the Old Testament in 1952, he went to the Holy Land for a period of formation. Returning to Hong Kong in 1955, he began translating the New Testament from Greek. In 1968 the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum published the Bible in Chinese for the first time in history.<br />On December 21, 2019 the "Baibil Khumur", the Holy Bible in the Tiwa language, was officially published. The Tiwa or Lalung community is an indigenous tribe that lives mainly in the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya, in north-eastern India, and also in some parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. The translation work was led and coordinated by the Salesian , Fr. UV Jose, who worked on it for over five years spending up to 14 hours a day. Before him, another Salesian, Fr. Michael Balawan, had translated the New Testament into Tiwa, as well as writing a Tiwa-English-Khasi dictionary and editing several books on religious subjects.<br />Fathers Piergiorgio Cappelletti and Mario Frigerio, PIME missionaries, have lived and worked in Cameroon for half a century, and a significant part of their missionary commitment has poured into the translation of the Word of God into the language of the Tupuri. They translated the Sunday Lectionary and the New Testament, and are working on the Old Testament. Also in Cameroon, Father Giuseppe Parietti translated the Deuterocanonical books and the festive Lectionary into Fulfuldé, while Father Antonio Michelan translated the Bible and the Sunday Lectionary in Guiziga. The translation of the liturgical texts into the language of the Santal ethnic group is due to Father Carlo Calanchi, a missionary in Bangladesh. While in Guinea Bissau Father Luigi Scantanburlo worked on the translation of the liturgical and New Testament texts into the Felupe language; in Balanta some Gospels; in Criolo some liturgical texts, of the New Testament and the entire Bible . Father Giovanni De Franceschi, missionary in the Ivory Coast, translated the liturgical texts into Baulé.<br />In Mexico, after 25 years of work, in 2015 the translation of the Bible into the Tzotzil language was completed, a language that comes from the Maya and is spoken mainly on the Chiapas plateaus, by the peoples of the Tzotzil ethnic group, about 350,000 people. The work was carried out by the Missionary priests of the Sacred Heart and Santa Maria di Guadalupe, together with some priests from the area and especially the catechists of the parishes. In Guatemala in 2011 the Bible was published translated into k'iche, the most popular of the 22 main languages in the country, the result of the work of a group coordinated by the French priest Bernardo Guos and Isabel Sucuquí, of Mayan language, originally from Chiché, El Quiché. The translation of the Scriptures was done but from the original language, through a process of constant revision by k'iché catechists, to reach the final text of a Bible that allows reading without the help of other languages.<br />In the 1960s, the Consolata Missionaries collaborated on the translation carried out by the local Church, in Kenya and Tanzania, of the Bible in Kiswaili, Kimeru, Kikuyo. Giuseppe Frizzi oversaw the Xirima translation of the Macua people in Niassa, Mozambique. The translation was revised by the "Centro de Inserção Makhuwa-Xirima", center of cultural and artistic studies founded by him in the mission of Maúa, and was published by the Diocese of Lichinga, published by the Consolata Missionaries. The publication of the Gospels took place in 1997 and of the complete Bible in 2000, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000. Fr. Frizzi in this regard recalls an anecdote: "When I finished translating the Bible in Maca-Scirima language, an authoritative Muslim cheikh of Maúa, named Txirani: asked me if I could also translate the Koran. I had to turn down the invitation because I do not know Arabic, but I greatly appreciated his request: it expressed both his full trust in a Christian and his desire to make the sacred text of Muslims available in the local language, a desire born from appreciation for the work of Christians, who translate the Word of God into the various languages of the world". <br />Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:46:03 +0100EUROPE/CYPRUS - Middle East Council of Churches: may East Jerusalem be "the capital of the independent Palestinian state"http://fides.org/en/news/67287-EUROPE_CYPRUS_Middle_East_Council_of_Churches_may_East_Jerusalem_be_the_capital_of_the_independent_Palestinian_statehttp://fides.org/en/news/67287-EUROPE_CYPRUS_Middle_East_Council_of_Churches_may_East_Jerusalem_be_the_capital_of_the_independent_Palestinian_stateLarnaca - In the conflicts that damage the Middle East, Christians in that region can experience "the mystery of God's love", his compassion and his love for every human being even in the midst of many difficult circumstances. This is underlined in the statement released by the Executive Committee of the MECC Middle East Council of Churches, gathered on Tuesday 21 and Wednesday 22 January in Larnaca , for two days of coexistence and common work lived in the context of the Week of prayer for Christian unity. The meeting, hosted by Chrysostomos II, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus, also included Yohanna X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatios Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch", and among others also Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.<br />In the joint document released at the end of the work, the participants in the MECC Executive Committee ask to preserve the faith and hope of many Christians in the Middle East, an area still afflicted by "bloody events". At the same time, it is underlined that the sufferings are not suffered only by Churches and by Christians, but affect entire peoples of the region. The document recalls all the church realities involved in the ecumenical organism to intensify its presence "alongside every suffering, displaced person and migrant, who has lost loved ones or possessions because of violence and wars, so that Churches remain an icon of God's tenderness and closeness".<br />In addition to sharing reflections, concerns and suggestions on the condition of peoples and churches in different countries, the committee members also listened to the report of Professor Souraya Bechealany, Secretary General of the MECC, concerning the work done in the past year and the prospects and future initiatives of the ecumenical body. The participants of the meeting also asked in common prayer to know the fate of Boulos Yazigi and Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the two Archbishops of Aleppo - the first Greek Orthodox, the second Syrian Orthodox – who disappeared on April 22, 2013 in Syria. Then, focusing on situations and events concerning individual countries, the participants in the meeting stressed the instances of social justice and the fight against corruption that are characterizing the protests taking place in Iraq. With regard to Syria, the MECC Executive Committee underlined the urgency of involving all local and international components in the process aimed at restoring peace throughout the territory and promoting the return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes. Explicit support was also expressed towards the mobilizations of the Lebanese people who express impatience towards corruption and non-fullfilment by the national political class. Regarding Cyprus, which hosted the ecumenical summit, the members of the Executive Committee of the MECC explicitly asked for an end to the occupation that led to the division of the island, while regarding the situation in Palestine they expressed support to those who suffer "the consequences of the occupation, apartheid policy" and the indiscriminate expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian territory, while demanding respect for the freedom of following the rites and practices related to one's faith for all Palestinians, Christians and Muslims, also in East Jerusalem, defined in the document as "the capital of an independent Palestinian state". The final MECC release also expresses support for the Egyptian people committed to free themselves from violence and extremism and to consolidate the principle of citizenship as an essential factor in civilian life. "Inviting the peoples of the region to make the principle of citizenship prevail, together with rights and duties" reads the press release "requires a review of the systems and laws" that helps to combine national unity and recognition of diversity, and free civil life from any sectarianism.<br />The Middle East Council of Churches, founded in 1974 in Nicosia and currently based in Beirut, has the aim of facilitating the convergence of Middle Eastern Christian communities on issues of common interest and favoring the overcoming of confessional contrasts.<br />Professor Souraya Bechealany, a Maronite Christian, teaches theology at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth. Souraya was elected Secretary General of the MECC in January 2018, and together with her collaborators she undertook a process of restructuring the departments of the human body. <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 13:20:38 +0100AMERICA/BOLIVIA - An electoral process that is peaceful, democratic and transparent, to look to the future with confidencehttp://fides.org/en/news/67284-AMERICA_BOLIVIA_An_electoral_process_that_is_peaceful_democratic_and_transparent_to_look_to_the_future_with_confidencehttp://fides.org/en/news/67284-AMERICA_BOLIVIA_An_electoral_process_that_is_peaceful_democratic_and_transparent_to_look_to_the_future_with_confidenceLa Paz - "In this historical moment, in this pre-election period, when we are preparing for new elections, we need political parties to be able to present promising projects for the Country, where the priority is to seek the common good, the growth and well-being of our people. In the face of uncertainty, let us try to be artisans of peace, artisans of reconciliation and artisans of the common good": said the executive secretary of the Commission of the Ecclesial Communion of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia, Fr. Diego Plà, during the Eucharistic celebration last Sunday, in view of the elections of May 3rd.<br />Mgr. Eugenio Scarpellini, Bishop of the Diocese of El Alto and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, interviewed by a local television, said: "Once again, as a Catholic Church, we hope that the electoral process is carried out as peaceful and democratic as possible ... The people need to recreate trust in the authorities, they need a transparent process, to look to the future with new rulers elected by the people and who think of the common good and truly positive development".<br />Bolivia celebrated Plurinational State Day yesterday, January 22nd, and for the occasion interim President, Jeanine Añez, asked to draw up a plan to ensure the security of the vote in the upcoming elections on May 3, 2020. "I asked the defense and national government ministers to organize a common plan before, during and after May 3, so that the vote of the Bolivians is protected", she said in a message to the country on this occasion. The celebration of the Dia del Estado Plurinacional has been taking place every year since 2009, when, according to the new Constitution, Bolivia ceased to define itself as a republic.<br />Jeanine Áñez, who took over the presidency after the anomalies discovered in the last elections, stressed that, precisely for these reasons, "the elections of May 3 will become the best accompanied Bolivian electoral process and most observed in our history". The OAS, the United Nations, the European Union and the Catholic Church have expressed their desire to support and accompany the electoral process. <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:00:34 +0100ASIA/MALAYSIA - Human promotion and solidarity: Caritas Malaysia set uphttp://fides.org/en/news/67286-ASIA_MALAYSIA_Human_promotion_and_solidarity_Caritas_Malaysia_set_uphttp://fides.org/en/news/67286-ASIA_MALAYSIA_Human_promotion_and_solidarity_Caritas_Malaysia_set_upKuala Lumpur - Being more present in Malaysian society with initiatives of charity, human promotion, solidarity development, a sign of closeness to every man and a powerful sign of God's love: with this spirit, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malayia, Singapore and Brunei decided to set up Caritas Malaysia, reorganizing and promoting the existing Office for human development existing within the Conference. As learned by Fides, in recent months the Bishops of Malaysia have had a close exchange with the leaders of Caritas International and, after having clarified the organizational and institutional aspects, have decided unanimously to open a national Caritas Office, which encompasses all the dioceses in peninsular Malaysia and those in the territories of Malaysian Borneo, namely Sabah and Sarawak.<br />The Office will be based in Kuala Lumpur and Bishop Anthony Bernard Paul, at the head of the diocese of Melaka-Johor, has been appointed first president of Caritas Malaysia. The Bishop will invite the representatives of the nine dioceses to a first consultative meeting within the first quarter of the year, to start the coordination work of all the charitable activities already in place and to draw up a Caritas work program for the next few years.<br />Caritas Malaysia is part of Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of over 160 members, present in almost all the countries in the world. A direct expression of the Catholic Church, Caritas offers concrete help to the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded, regardless of ethnicity, culture and religion, to build a world based on justice and fraternal love. <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 11:45:47 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - "No to new wars"; a cry of alarm of the Bishops of the DRC, Rwanda and Burundihttp://fides.org/en/news/67285-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_No_to_new_wars_a_cry_of_alarm_of_the_Bishops_of_the_DRC_Rwanda_and_Burundihttp://fides.org/en/news/67285-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_No_to_new_wars_a_cry_of_alarm_of_the_Bishops_of_the_DRC_Rwanda_and_BurundiKinshasa - The social situation remains worrying, in the first place in light of the persistent insecurity in some areas, in particular at the borders of three countries", say the Bishops of the Standing Committee of the Association des Conférences Episcopales de l'Afrique Centrale , in the final communiqué of the ordinary meeting which was held in Bukavu , from 15 to 18 January.<br />ACEAC, which brings together the Bishops of Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC, also denounces that in their three countries, "the purchasing power of the population has decreased further, forcing many families to live below the poverty line".<br />"And since bad luck never comes alone, the Ebola virus and torrential rains in recent months have caused several victims and significant material damage and left several people without shelter" continues the statement sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />The Bishops appreciate the "dynamism" of Caritas and the Commissions of Justice and Peace which, despite the scarce resources available, have brought relief to the affected populations, and invite Christian communities to continue to be in solidarity with the victims.<br />The Bishops deplore the deterioration of the climate of trust among political leaders in the region, which risks increasing the possibility of armed clashes to the detriment of local populations: "We appeal to the conscience of rulers to keep in their hearts and minds the duty to protect the populations and to work for the prosperity of people who must fully enjoy their rights as creatures created in the image of God".<br />The Bishops renew their commitment in 2013 to work with other religious denominations to establish lasting peace in the region "through the testimony of life, gestures and words". To this end, in the coming months they will publish their own pastoral program for the conversion of hearts and the promotion of social cohesion, and invite the faithful to recite the prayer for peace of Saint Francis of Assisi every day. <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 11:33:48 +0100AFRICA/NIGER - "They will be able to cut trees but not the roots of the cross": threats to Christians in the countryhttp://fides.org/en/news/67283-AFRICA_NIGER_They_will_be_able_to_cut_trees_but_not_the_roots_of_the_cross_threats_to_Christians_in_the_countryhttp://fides.org/en/news/67283-AFRICA_NIGER_They_will_be_able_to_cut_trees_but_not_the_roots_of_the_cross_threats_to_Christians_in_the_countryNiamey - "The repeated threats to the Christian communities in the border area with Burkina Faso have achieved the aim they set: to decapitate the communities and then fall prey to the fear of professing faith in Sunday prayers in the chapels" , writes Fr. Mauro Armanino, priest of the Society for African Missions in Niger, to Agenzia Fides.<br />"On Tuesday, January 14, in a village not far from Bomoanga, which for over a year has helplessly witnessed the kidnapping of Father Pierluigi Maccalli, - the missionary continues - a group of criminals who went to settle the scores with the chief nurse who works in a dispensary in the area, took the nephew from his home and was beheaded. In Bomoanga people no longer go to church on Sunday. The 'basilica', as Fr. Maccalli used to call it, conceived, built and inaugurated by him, is now deserted, as well as the school recently attacked".<br />In the note sent to Fides, Fr. Armanino highlights the bewilderment, the suffering, the fear but above all the awareness of the situation manifested during the formation meeting with the catechists and the animators of the Gourmanché area, a border with Burkina Faso, recently organized in Niamey. <br />The missionary concludes by saying: "In Makalondi, Kankani and Torodi, in the same area, the celebrations, albeit with caution, continue as always despite the fact that priests are not resident on the spot. The reality in rural areas is more complicated and, being difficult to access, they allow armed groups to act undisturbed. They will be able to cut the trees but not the roots of the cross. On the third day there is a resurrection". <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 11:21:56 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Statement by the Bishop of San Cristobal concerning the priest killedhttp://fides.org/en/news/67281-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Statement_by_the_Bishop_of_San_Cristobal_concerning_the_priest_killedhttp://fides.org/en/news/67281-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Statement_by_the_Bishop_of_San_Cristobal_concerning_the_priest_killedSan Cristobal - The Bishop of San Cristobal, Mgr. Mario Moronta, published a second statement concerning the death of Fr. Jesus Manuel Rondon Molina, who went missing on January 16 and was found dead on January 21 .<br />In the statement on 22 January, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishop states: "According to information provided by the authorities, the priest was killed by a minor, who had been victim of sexual abuse by the cleric, an action that we repudiate. We pray for him, for his mother and for his family who are going through a moment of pain and sadness".<br />The Bishop stresses that the norms of the universal Church have also been adopted in the diocese of San Cristóbal to deal with cases of abuse of minors by the clergy. In the case of Fr. Jesus Manuel Rondon Molina, "several complaints were made against him, and investigations were conducted and precautionary measures were taken ... Despite the multiple requests for attention, he disobeyed the orders and precautionary measures established in the law of the Church".<br />Mgr. Moronta writes that this fact "fills us with sadness and concern", asks the authorities "to clarify what happened without using this sad event for political or other purposes", recalls that the vast majority of priests generously dedicate themselves to the service of the population, "despite the difficulties and failures that some may have". "We feel the pain of the people of God who suffer from many causes and even more from the bad testimony of some - he concludes -. We share the pain of the victims of abuse ... Knowing that this pain is identified with that of Christ on the Cross". <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:50:23 +0100ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Prayer and mission: Ignatian spiritual exercises on the banks of Lake Issyk-kulhttp://fides.org/en/news/67282-ASIA_KYRGYZSTAN_Prayer_and_mission_Ignatian_spiritual_exercises_on_the_banks_of_Lake_Issyk_kulhttp://fides.org/en/news/67282-ASIA_KYRGYZSTAN_Prayer_and_mission_Ignatian_spiritual_exercises_on_the_banks_of_Lake_Issyk_kulBishkek – To live a week of spirituality, according to the charism of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, and propose this experience of immersion and closeness to God as a form of evangelization, in a nation where the seed of the Gospel has become a small bud: in this spirit the Jesuit fathers present in Kyrgyzstan has organized a week of spiritual exercises in complete silence, according to the method of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. As reported to Agenzia Fides, the initiative, open to all, will take place from 16 to 22 March 2020 at the "Issyk Center", the home for disabled and destitute Kyrgyz children, located on the banks of Lake Issyk-kul and managed by the religious of the Society of Jesus. The invitation is addressed to young people, adults, people who are curious or interested in learning about the Christian faith. A note sent to Agenzia Fides by the organizers explains: "It is not the first time that these spiritual exercises take place in a picturesque place on the banks of Lake Issyk-Kul, just 100 meters from the beach and a few kilometers from the Tien Shan mountains". Contact with uncontaminated nature represents a way to reach a dimension of reflection and deepening, in search of God. The theme of this year will be "God, guide me on the eternal way. Freedom, Thanksgiving and Mercy". The Jesuit of Novosibirsk , Fr. Janez Sever will guide the week of spirituality.<br />The spiritual exercise program includes an introduction to Ignatian prayer and meditation on the Holy Scriptures, moments of individual and assembly prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, Adoration and the opportunity to speak with a spiritual assistant.<br />"It will certainly be days of wellness for the body and the spirit, in such a beautiful landscape. On the other hand, the fact that a way of prayer developed about five centuries ago is still required, testifies its effectiveness", concludes the note of the Jesuits.<br />Kyrgyzstan is a small country with a population of almost 6 million inhabitants that enjoys religious freedom. About 90% of the population is Muslim. Orthodox Christians represent almost 10% of the total, and other Christian denominations are a small minority. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, one religious and five Franciscan nuns. <br />Thu, 23 Jan 2020 10:49:53 +0100OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The education of young people is the responsibility of politicians and the entire communityhttp://fides.org/en/news/67276-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_The_education_of_young_people_is_the_responsibility_of_politicians_and_the_entire_communityhttp://fides.org/en/news/67276-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_The_education_of_young_people_is_the_responsibility_of_politicians_and_the_entire_communityBereina - "We pray and work so that the right to education for all children can be truly recognized, not only on paper or speeches by politicians, but also concretely achieved by the daily care of their parents and communities": this is the hope of Sister Giovanna Bordin, missionary of the "Cavanis Jesus Good Shepherd Fraternity" in Bereina, touching a very important key, which politics has also underlined recently. "The government is deeply convinced that education is the tool that will transform and support the nation's prosperity", said James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, in an official letter.<br />Until the last school year, in PNG, a policy called "Tuition Fee Free Education" was in force, with which the state assumed full economic responsibility for school expenses. As from this year it has been announced that a new system called "Government Tuition Fee Subsidy" will be in force, with which the state will assume 80% of the school fees, leaving parents and families to cover the remaining 20%, with the aim of making them more responsible for the education of their children.<br />"The government wants to stop the welfare syndrome that has been allowed so far and has developed in Papuan culture", added Marape. "The change in financial management was decided to re-motivate parents and communities to work the land and work hard, to contribute to economic revival, renewing our nation and stopping the trend towards welfare and addiction syndrome" The Prime Minister continues writing: "By their nature Papuans are hard workers, resilient and independent. But for many years, the government has adopted and allowed policies that have made people lazy".<br />As Sister Bordin explains to Fides, "this new decision by the Marape government has raised criticism but, regardless of position or political sympathies, it is certainly important to recognize the strengths of one's culture and keep them alive, but also to recognize those attitudes of laziness and welfare that threatens to block the development of the nation. Any initiative and decision that can help change is important, even if criticized". "The hope in educating children can also awaken the strength and capacity for sacrifice and care of adults", concludes the missionary. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:33:30 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - The head of a Catholic community in central Nigeria has been killedhttp://fides.org/en/news/67280-AFRICA_NIGERIA_The_head_of_a_Catholic_community_in_central_Nigeria_has_been_killedhttp://fides.org/en/news/67280-AFRICA_NIGERIA_The_head_of_a_Catholic_community_in_central_Nigeria_has_been_killedAbuja - The head of the Catholic church of Saint Augustine in the Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State in central Nigeria has been killed.<br />According to what Agenzia Fides learns, on the morning of January 20, some bandits, perhaps Fulani shepherds, attacked the community of Abebe. In the shooting, Augustine Avertse, the leader of the local Catholic community died together with his father, Akaa'am Avertse, and two other people.<br />One of the survivors, who was injured, says that the attack was not provoked, as there had never been any form of misunderstanding between the members of the community and the Fulani shepherds who lived in the area.<br />In the meantime, the confirmation of the killing of Lawan Andimi, a local leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, who was kidnapped in early January by Boko Haram in the Michika Local Government Area in the State of Adamawa in northeastern Nigeria, aroused emotion. In a statement, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari spoke of the "cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative" murder, and assured that those responsible "will pay dearly for their actions". <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:24:23 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - Good management of Creation at the center of the Lenten campaignhttp://fides.org/en/news/67279-AFRICA_KENYA_Good_management_of_Creation_at_the_center_of_the_Lenten_campaignhttp://fides.org/en/news/67279-AFRICA_KENYA_Good_management_of_Creation_at_the_center_of_the_Lenten_campaignNairobi - "We believe that everything God created is good. Man was created in the image and likeness of God and was commanded to govern creation rationally to bring forth fruit from the earth", said His Exc. Mgr. John Oballa Owaa, Bishop of Ngong, and Chairman of KCCB – Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Kenya, in presenting this year’s Lenten Campaign, whose theme is "Stewardship for a Transformed Nation… My obligation". The Lenten initiative is part of the campaign for the fight against corruption launched on 5th, October, 2019 at Subukia in Nakuru, . The Chairman of "Justice and Peace" recalled that those who are baptised have a special responsibility to share the kingly, prophetic and priestly life of Christ. <br />"Our stewardship must imitate that of Christ. Everything we have and are belong to God. We are simply managers or administrators acting on His behalf", said Mgr. Oballa. <br />For the next five weeks beginning 22nd, February 2020, Christians will be expected to reflect on weekly topics: Responsible Farming, Youth and Development, how people have handled the natural resources and how they can be improved.<br />The campaign promoted by the Bishops of Kenya wants to be a response to Pope Francis’ invitation in his encyclical Laudato Si’, taking care of ‘Our Common Home’ – the Earth <br />In Week Five and final week, Sanctity of Life and Dignity shall be discussed as every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:20:00 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Asia Bibi's lawyer: "Too many religious pressures for cases of blasphemy"http://fides.org/en/news/67275-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Asia_Bibi_s_lawyer_Too_many_religious_pressures_for_cases_of_blasphemyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67275-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Asia_Bibi_s_lawyer_Too_many_religious_pressures_for_cases_of_blasphemyRome - "In Pakistan, lawyers who defend cases of blasphemy are severely attacked, abandoned and isolated. Although the Qur'an defends those who are wrongfully convicted of false accusations, the mentality in Pakistan is heavily conditioned by religious prejudice. In my case, for example, as a defender of the Christian Asia Bibi who was falsely accused of blasphemy, I was accused of 'defending the infidels' and was completely abandoned and isolated. Today I need bodyguards to move around and I could be in the sights of extremists. But I do not regret having committed myself to justice and for the good of Pakistan": says Muslim lawyer Saiful Malook, defender of Asia Bibi, to Agenzia Fides on the occasion of the "International Day of the Endangered Lawyer", which is celebrated on January 24, initiative of the "Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation", based in the Netherlands.<br />The celebration of the Day, now in its tenth edition, in 2020 is dedicated to Pakistan, a country in which in recent years "some lawyers have been subjected to acts of mass terrorism, murder, attempted murder, assaults, death threats, contempt proceedings, intimidation in the exercise of their professional functions", says a note from the Foundation sent to Agenzia Fides. "They were also arrested, detained or tortured and in some cases even family members of the murdered lawyers", he adds. The aggression best known to Pakistani lawyers occurred on August 8, 2016 when terrorists attacked the government hospital in Quetta with a suicide attack that resulted in the death of 54 lawyers who were participating in an assembly nearby. Since then there has been an alarming increase in the number of lawyers killed, with nine victims in the past year.<br />The Foundation, with other partner organizations, has released a report on the current situation of lawyers in Pakistan, which highlights the difficult situation in which many lawyers live and work. Among them Saiful Malook who, due to death threats received, had to seek protection from the States of the European Union. During the participation in a conference organized in Rome by the Union of Italian Criminal Chambers on January 20, Malook remarked that "in the trials relating to the cases of blasphemy, the defendant lawyers of the accused encounter critical issues and obstacles: there is a very strong religious pressure, judges are afraid and, in the vast majority of cases, they accept the evidence condemning the person accused of blasphemy". Only in the subsequent levels of courts - before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court - can one laboriously try to reverse the sentence and bring out the truth, Malook notes, "but you do it at your own expense, taking into account that you can end up in the crosshairs", he notes.<br />The purpose of the day is to draw public attention to the importance of the profession of lawyer as a defender of fundamental human rights. International Day of the Endangered Lawyer intends to commemorate the massacre that took place on January 24, 1977 in Madrid, when a commando of terrorists broke into a lawyers' office, killing five and injuring four. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:04:46 +0100ASIA/INDIA - Prayer and adoration after the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament in Bangalorehttp://fides.org/en/news/67277-ASIA_INDIA_Prayer_and_adoration_after_the_profanation_of_the_Blessed_Sacrament_in_Bangalorehttp://fides.org/en/news/67277-ASIA_INDIA_Prayer_and_adoration_after_the_profanation_of_the_Blessed_Sacrament_in_BangaloreBangalore - On 24 January the entire diocesan community of Bangalore "is called to do penance and reparation in churches and religious houses for this sacrilegious and ignominious deed", says Archbishop Peter Machado, at the head of the Catholic community of Bangalore, after the theft and desecration of the Blessed Sacrament in a parish of the archdiocese of Bangalore. As Fides learns, the theft took place in St Francis Assisi Catholic Church, in the suburb of Kengeri, on the night of January 20. Capuchin Father Sathish Kumar, parish priest of the church of St Francis Assisi, has filed a complaint with the local police and investigations are underway. "I am not only terribly shocked but also greatly grieved that desecration was done to the Eucharistic Lord in that church. This sacrilege and serious dishonour done to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour is a matter of great concern, not only to the parishioners of St Francis Assisi Parish but also to the religious feelings of everyone in the Archdiocese", wrote the Archbishop in a note sent to Fides.<br />In the first 19 days of January, 17 incidents of violence against Christians in India were reported, says the "United Christian Forum" , based on complaints made via the helpline activated by the organization, which documents cases of violence against churches and Christians in India.<br />"A Pastor has been arrested. There was physical assault, while some religious activities have been stopped by the authority", UCF leader Michael told Fides.<br />John Dayal, a Catholic journalist and human rights activist told Fides: "Violence occurs while the nation sees religious minorities discriminated against by legislative provisions such as the Citizenship Emendament Act , National Register of Citizens and National Population Register . There is a state of impunity and a campaign of hatred that accompanies and aggravates these phenomena". <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:01:59 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The body of the priest who went missing since January 16 has been foundhttp://fides.org/en/news/67273-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_body_of_the_priest_who_went_missing_since_January_16_has_been_foundhttp://fides.org/en/news/67273-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_body_of_the_priest_who_went_missing_since_January_16_has_been_foundTachira - The diocese of San Cristóbal is experiencing with consternation the discovery of the lifeless body of Fr. José Manuel Rondón Molina, who went missing since last Thursday, January 16. "With pain and sadness I must communicate that Fr. Manuel Rondón's lifeless body was found, let us pray for him", said Msgr. Mario Moronta, Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal where the tragic events happened.<br />The presbyter, 47 years old and priest for 14, was currently residing near the convent of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Rubio, in the municipality of Junín. He was the spiritual director of the cloistered nuns, where he celebrated the Eucharist every day, but since last Thursday neither the religious nor his relatives had any news, so the Bishop had informed the police authorities. His body was found in a wooded area of Rubio.<br />The note sent to Fides by the diocese of San Cristobal, states: "The Church of Táchira rejects this terrible and similar events that happen every day in the region. In turn, the church implores God's mercy for the people involved and for the comfort of the family and for Father Manuel Rondón’s friends. The priest's lifeless body was found in a state of decomposition". The diocese of San Cristóbal will promptly inform where the funeral will take place and asks the faithful to accompany the priest's eternal rest with prayer, concludes the note. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:18:28 +0100