Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PAKISTAN - In memory of the Christian couple burnt alive: education to their children - "Two innocent lives were eliminated due to the fanaticism present in our society; the horror of that unfortunate day will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come, not only did they burn two precious lives in that furnace: they burned humanity, burned the teachings of Islam and burned the Pakistan of Ali Jinnah, and no monetary compensation can expiate such extreme acts of violence", says to Agenzia Fides Michelle Chaudhry, lay Catholic, president of the "Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation" , a Foundation that takes care of the education and care of the three orphaned children of Shama and Shahzad Masih, the two spouses who were brutally tortured and burned alive in a brick furnace in Kot Radha Kishan on November 4, 2014: the two were lynched by a crowd of Muslims accusing them of blasphemy. That incident created a wave of horror not only in Pakistan, but in the whole world.<br />Shama and Shahzad left three very small children, terrified and confused. Their elder son, Suleiman, witnessed the barbaric assassination of his parents. Since then, the Foundation has taken on the responsibility of educating the three children, and all the expenses involved: school fees, private lessons, books, uniforms, school backpacks, extracurricular expenses, travel, food, medical care. The Foundation also grants a monthly financial contribution to the grandfather for any daily schooling needs.<br />Michelle Chaudhry points out to Fides: "Three years after their death, it gives us immense joy and spiritual gratification to see these children happy and confident. We are happy to be actively involved in their lives and to see them grow at a personal and educational level, thanks to the love and care received, they are now well-adjusted in school, and actively participate in educational and non-curricular activities".<br />Chaudhry reiterates: "It is the government's responsibility to ensure the security and protection of all citizens, regardless of faith, ethnicity or culture. This is what we ask the government of Pakistan, as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan."<br />The Foundation thanks all the supporters and, as an independent, non-profit Catholic organization, continues to commit itself to eradicating injustice from Pakistani society, defending the disadvantaged, vulnerable and marginalized groups within the nation. <br /><br /><br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:59:13 +0100AFRICA/GHANA - Contemporary (negative) values threaten the family: Bishops at a conference on Amoris Laetitia - "The phenomenon of teenage and single parenthood, poor or irresponsible parenting, separate household and distant marriages that make couples live apart, and in some cases far away from each other, and relatives ease decisions regarding separation and /or divorce are all aspects of contemporary trends in the Ghanaian family today", says Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale, the President of Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference , at the official opening of the ongoing annual plenary assembly that opened on November 13 in the capital of the Volta region, Ho.<br />The Bishops of Ghana are gathering to discuss pastoral care for families in their country, guided by the Post-Synodal apostolic exhortation by Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia. The title of the meeting is "Integral Pastoral Care for the Family in the light of Amoris Laetitia".<br />Archbishop Naameh expressed worry that the Ghanaian family was experiencing emerging trends which were at variance with the ideal family image foreseen by the Church’s tradition of faith and morals.<br />In particular, the GCBC President laments the negative use of social media, and especially how this new media seems to rule the lives of the youth and middle class Ghanaians, who seem forced to organise their experiences according to the dictates of social media with all their not-so-positive trends.<br />On traditional marriage, Mgr. Naameh emphasized the issue of “bride price”, which was frequently taken out of its original traditional context, seems to be increasingly monetarised and exaggerated.<br />"The expense of marrying properly according to traditional rules has become, in some cases, quite burdensome for the average young man in Ghana seeking the hand of a woman in marriage", says Mgr. Naameh to Fides.<br />"There is also a general increase in the use of orthodox medicine and its attendant Assisted Reproductive Technologies in redressing fertility challenges among urban elite families", GCBC President says and adds that the Church is called upon to consider the moral dilemmas that Catholic couples face when they stand before the decision to accept or reject the use of such possibilities.<br />"I appreciate the aptness of the theme chosen by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference for this Plenary Assembly, focusing on the integral Pastoral care of families which is indeed the goal of Pope Francis’ ground-breaking new document", said to Fides the Nuncio in Ghana, Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich. <br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:44:35 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - I Vescovi: rafforzare la nazione sostenendo la Pancasila - Bishops: to strengthen the nation by supporting Pancasila<br />Jakarta – In order to strengthen the nation, its unity, coexistence and social harmony, it is important for Indonesian Catholic faithful to support Pancasila without hesitation, the fundamental charter that is at the basis of the nation: say the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia at the end of the plenary assembly held in Jakarta from 6 to 16 November. As Fides learns, the meeting was centered on "the Catholic Church’s historical relevance and significance: The Church's Call to Purify the world", and ended with a message inviting Indonesian Catholic communities to give a specific contribution to strengthen national unity.<br />The message presented by Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, at the head of the Archdiocese of Jakarta and by the Secretary General of the Conference, Antonius Subianto Bunjamin OSC, Bishop of Bandung, states that "the Catholic Church, an essential part of the Indonesian nation, is involved in taking care and in determining the future of the nation". "The Church's main role in building a nation that follows the principles of Pancasilla - says the text sent to Fides - is in the work of lay people, while Pastors are invited to accompany them and give an example".<br />The message continues: "The Catholic Church deplores the fact that Pancasila is undermined by radicalism and terrorism, and national unity is offended by intolerant attitudes towards those who profess a different faith from Islam, while a certain political approach uses religious, ethnic and social groups for their own interests, ignoring the common good and the fundamental principle of human dignity".<br />In this framework, "the Catholic faithful must sincerely continue to open up and build dialogue with people of other faiths to get to know each other, eliminate suspicion and eradicate religious fanaticism". Through dialogue, "the wall of separation collapses and Indonesian people can build bridges of friendship and brotherhood", the text says. Brotherhood add the Bishops "can be strengthened by engaging in activities of reciprocal reception and hospitality during religious feasts, interreligious social activities, meetings of interreligious leaders".<br />Even mass media and social media can become "a means of strengthening brotherhood by proclaiming and spreading the teachings of fraternal love and experience, while respecting differences".<br />The Bishops message comes as the country prepares the 2018 political agenda, when the administrative elections will be held in 171 regions, and in 2019, when legislative and presidential elections are scheduled. The Bishops invite all parishioners to pay attention to the election campaign, where religious, ethnic and social issues will be exploited.<br />The message concludes: "The Church invites all the faithful to understand more and more the Pancasila as the foundation of Indonesia, so that social movements can be developed in the name of coexistence and we can build unity according to God's will".<br />The new Vatican Apostolic Nuncio in Indonesia, Archbishop Piero Pioppo, who has just arrived in Indonesia, took part in the assembly <br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:24:38 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - 80% of the country in the hands of rebels; a missionary: "We are the poorest State in the world" - "The war seemed to be over, but unfortunately it is not over everywhere", writes to Agenzia Fides Fr. Federico Trinchero, a Carmelite in the monastery Our Lady of Carmel in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. "The relatively quiet situation in Bangui - where there have recently been episodes of violence - is apparently misleading", the missionary points out. <br />"In the inland areas of the country the picture is quite different. Since May, groups of rebels - not always identifiable with regards to their origin and targets - resulted in hundreds of deaths, houses burned, and thousands of refugees in several cities and villages. This state of affairs has been dragging on for too long. There is a risk of getting used to war, as if it were inevitable".<br />"Two unequivocal data express, more than any other analysis, the dramatic situation in which Central Africa finds itself", says Fr. Federico.<br />"80% of the territory is, in fact, still occupied, or in any case controlled, by rebel groups who dictate law in place of the State". "The absence of the State in areas far away from capital was one of the reasons that triggered the war in 2013", recalls the missionary. "Ignoring it may not be a good strategy. The election of a new president, the massive presence of the United Nations, the interest and copious contributions from the international community seemed a propitious opportunity to turn page. The results have disappointed expectations. We have not been able to move forward", says Fr. Federico.<br />"The second point is about poverty. According to the latest UN report, Central Africa is now ranked 188th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index". "We are therefore the poorest Country in the world", highlights Fr. Federico. <br />"Central Africa was already at the bottom of the ratings. These last years of war have used up the few resources it possessed. And although rankings are always a bit unpleasant, this data remains an eloquent indicator of the Country's real situation".<br />"In the face of a desperate picture, there are many reasons to be pessimistic, discouraged and to surrender", says the missionary. It is pointless to continue accusing an enemy, never well defined, or to wait for someone - almost by magic - to change the situation". "Maybe it is time to start doing something so that the situation changes. And magic, or rather, the miracle would be that this something would be made by Central Africians themselves, because of their love for their homeland", concludes Fr. Federico. <br /><br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:52:29 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - War among the poor continues Cristobal - Yesterday, after the celebration of Sunday Mass during which the Universal Church celebrated the Day of the Poor, Archbishop Emeritus of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, Mgr. Felipe Arismendi Esquivel, denounced the violence caused by the conflict due to the lack of border definition between the municipalities of Chenalhó y Chalchihuián. There were some clashes with the use of firearms, fortunately there have been no deaths, but only a person was injured and a house was burnt. Archbishop Arzmendi Esquivel, informed the note sent to Fides, reports that the same priests who worked in the area told him of efforts made to stop the clashes, unfortunately without success. The Archbishop stressed that he continues to insist with the Government Secretariat of the State to address this problem that has lasted for 40 years.<br />On Thursday, November 16, various organizations for the protection of peoples' rights in Chiapas met with the Special Envoy of the United Nations for Indigenous People's Rights Organization, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who had come to listen to local delegations. Mgr. Arzmendi Esquivel, after the meeting, recalled that this situation should be resolved as soon as possible because it is becoming serious.<br />"We know it is not just a local problem", said the Archbishop speaking to the local press at the end of October. On that occasion he had denounced that clashes between the populations of these two municipalities had caused deaths, injuries, and the destruction of several homes. <br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:10:41 +0100OCEANIA/MICRONESIA - Appointment of the Coadjutor Bishop of the Caroline Islands City - On November 18, 2017, the Holy Father appointed Rev. Julio Angkel, of the clergy of the Caroline Islands and currently pastor of the Holy Family Parish, director of the Vocations and Formation Office, and director of the St. John Vianney Formation House, as Coadjutor Bishop of the diocese of the Caroline Islands, in Micronesia.<br />The new Bishop was born in the island of Parem, Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia. He studied at local Catholic schools and at the University of Guam, where he resided for his discernment. In 1976, he began his journey to priestly formation at the San Jose Seminary at the University of Manila in the Philippines. Subsequently he transferred to the Pacific Regional Seminary of Suva, Fiji. He was ordained a priest on 13 December 1983, as the second Chuukese priest in the history of the Diocese. He has carried out his pastoral ministry in most parishes in the Vicariate of Chuuk and has a good knowledge of the parishes in the vicariates of Pohnpei and Kosrae.<br />Since ordination he has held the following offices: 1984-1986: service in the parish of Nomisofo, Vicariate of Chuuk; 1986-1990: service in the Assumption Parish, vicariate of Chuuk; 1990-1991: Sabbatical year at Berkeley Spirituality Center, California; 1992-2004: Parish priest in various parishes in the Vicariate of Chuuk; 2004-2005: training programme at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila; 2005-2010: Director of the new Caroline Pastoral Institute and of the diocesan college for Micronesia; 2010 – 2015: Episcopal Vicar of Pohnpei and Kosrae, with residence in Pohnpei; 2012-2013: Teacher and formator at the Pacific Regional Seminary in the Archdiocese of Suva, Fiji; 2012-2015: General Vicar; coordinator of the Commission for Justice and Development and of various pastoral programs of the Vicariate; since 2015: Pastor of the Holy Family Parish in Chuuk, Director of the vocational and training office; and director of the St. John Vianney Formation House. <br />Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:43:11 +0100NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Not only charity: India between the World Day of the Poor and demonetization World Day of the Poor is celebrated on November 19, India, the world's largest democracy, is facing the economic and social effects of a controversial measure adopted by the government of Narendra Modi a year ago: demonetization, that is, the sudden devaluation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Today analysts note that the government’s programmes do not really benefit the poor and do not have a positive impact on the overall socio-economic welfare of society. Demonetization is considered a wrong move. In order to empower the poor and accompany them to full development, the government must focus on inclusive growth through policy proposals, tools and programs that help alleviate poverty and enable disadvantaged people to find new opportunities. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Continue to read news analysis-Omnis Terra</a>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:38:37 +0100ASIA/TURKEY - The Ecumenical Patriarch re-opens the church of Ay'Yorgi Edirnekapi in Istanbul - The ancient church of Ayo Yorgi in Edirnekapi, Istanbul's historic area, behind the walls of ancient Constantinople, re-pens after its restoration. On November 19, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew celebrates the divine liturgy that will mark the re-opening of the ancient sacred building. The participation of Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu, of the Governor of Istanbul, Vasip Şahin and the Director General of the Foundations, Adnan Ertem is also expected at the inauguration of the restored church.<br />The restoration works, funded by the General Directorate of Foundations, cost 4 million Turkish lire and concerned not only the church but also the priest's residence, the security wall of the complex, an ancient fountain and an annexed school building. "That school" reports to Agenzia Fides Lakis Vingas, for a long time a representative of non- Muslim Foundations at the General Directorate of Foundations, "will become a musical training center aimed at enhancing the historical heritage of Byzantine and Ottoman music and contributing to further enrich Istanbul's cultural profile".<br />The Church of Ay Yorgi, whose first foundation dates back to the 9th century, was destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout history. In 1556 it was demolished to build the Mosque of Mhirimah Sultan. In 1726 the first restoration of the church was realized, but later it was again devastated by a fire. The last restoration campaign of the entire complex - which since 1974 has been administered by the General Directorate of Foundations - began about three years ago. <br /><br />Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:25:03 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - Archbishop Obinna: "The poor are our treasure" - This Sunday in the parishes and then on November 29 in the Cathedral: in the Nigerian Archdiocese of Owerri, the "World Day of the Poor" is celebrated in two appointments. The first, explains Archbishop Anthony Obinna to Fides, will see all the parishes welcome the needy at Sunday Mass and then will offer lunch and give clothing. The second event will take place on Wednesday, 29th, for the dedication anniversary of the Cathedral. "We have decided to dedicate the poor to God", adds Mgr. Obinna – because they are our treasure of the Cathedral. We are expecting about 5,000 people, who after the Eucharistic celebration will have lunch in the Cathedral thanks to many faithful and volunteers who will prepare their meals. The doors are also open to the faithful of other religions and to those who live outside the diocese".<br />Archbishop Obinna notes that the poor are not only in the territory of the Archdiocese, but throughout Nigeria. "Because of the economic situation – he adds - many have lost their jobs and are in a state of poverty. Every week I meet about two hundred young men who ask for food or money to finance some activities in order to start again". For Mgr. Obinna this first Day of the Poor confirms the faithful to continue the commitment that the diocese has always been pursuing, following the path of prayer and the Eucharist, that of charity for the poor, thanks to periodic gatherings of solidarity with the initiative called "Eu Care" .<br />As reported by the Nigerian National Statistical Office, about 112 million Nigerian citizens live below the poverty line, with a population of 186 million, and it is said that the richest man in the country, Aliko Dangote, earns 8,000 times more each day compared to a poor compatriot. According to analysts, income inequality is one of the most important challenges in Nigeria. A new global index, carried out by Oxfam and "Development Finance International", puts Nigeria at the top of a list of 152 countries classified according to their "commitment to reducing inequality". <br />Sat, 18 Nov 2017 12:11:07 +0100AMERICA - "To look at the poor in the eyes", loving with facts and not words - On November 19, the Universal Church celebrates the First World Day of the Poor, on the theme "We do not love in words but with facts", an initiative born a year ago at the close of the Jubilee of Mercy. As Fides learns, Latin America has enthusiastically welcomed Pope Francis’ initiative and has organized, in each country, a series of activities, both of preparation and of continuous commitment to live together a moment of particular proximity with the most vulnerable.<br />In Peru, the Bishops' Commission of Social Action published a pastoral brochure to help every local church live this event. "To stand beside the poor and the excluded: Pope Francis asks us for a concrete and radical gesture so that the poor can be 'first' in the life of the whole Church, and indeed be a poor Church for the poor. The Pope hopes that this day is established as a tradition for the evangelization of the contemporary world and to arouse the awareness that the poor are not a problem but a resource to draw from in order to live the essence of the Gospel", reads the message sent to Fides by the Peruvian CEAS.<br />From Bolivia, Fides received the video message of Archbishop Eugenio Coter, president of the Social Caritas Pastoral of the country's Bishops' Conference. The Bolivian Church also handed out reflection leaflets to celebrate this day with concrete actions by the faithful gathered in all the cities of the country.<br />The Episcopal Conference of Mexico has released a message by Archbishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel to promote this Day. The Bishop recalls that the invitation of the Holy Father has left many indifferent: "This invitation has been ignored, or has not received the importance it deserves. There are also those who consider it another populist idea of the Pope", reads the text sent to Fides. "It is true that there are many indifferent and selfish people, closed in their individual interest, but there are many others who show their love for the poor, without advertising and without electoral interests", reiterates the Mexican Archbishop, citing examples of Christian commitment in favor of the poor in a nationalized reality hit by some natural calamities that have put to the test the strength and resistance of the Mexican people.<br />In Argentina, "this is a celebration of Mercy, along with the poorest and those who suffer", said Mgr. Oscar Ojea, Bishop of San Isidro, inviting everyone to celebrate the Day. "To rediscover the value of poverty means committing oneself to justice", says Father Pablo Fuentes, Oblate Missionary, "but before accusing others, it is necessary to look at oneself to see if there is coherence between faith and solidarity", he concludes.<br />In Costa Rica, the Day of the Poor coincides with the generous response of the Catholic community towards those who lost everything with in the "Nate" storm that devastated the country last month. Caritas Costa Rica has invited to share concrete gestures of solidarity with the people affected, to live this Day "with facts and not words".<br />From Colombia, Fides received the video message of Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega, Archbishop of Villavicencio and President of the Episcopal Conference , who called "to put into practice the Pope’s words, who was among us in Colombia: "Look at the poor in the eyes and help them". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The brochure realized by the Church of Peru The video of Mgr. Eugenio Coter Caritas-Mexico has prepared a video to get the faithful involved</a>Sat, 18 Nov 2017 11:35:43 +0100ASIA/TURKMENISTAN - Six new baptisms on World Day of the Poor, while poverty remains a taboo – To take part in the baptism of six new Turkmen sisters with joy: this will be the first World Day of the Poor - proclaimed by the Pope for November 19 - by the Catholic faithful of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This is what Fr. Andrzej Madej, Polish priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Superior of the "missio sul irus" of Turkmenistan to Agenzia Fides: " Pope Francis launched a clear message for this day dedicated to the last: 'We do not love in words, but with facts'. This points out how charity works addressed towards one’s neighbor are salvific actions that help build the story of our redemption. The greatest saving work is the path towards baptism. And it is with great joy that, this Sunday, we will baptize a young woman and her five daughters".<br />Fr. Madej reports to Fides the story of the six women: "Over the last few years, this family, in financial difficulties, was accompanied by a French volunteer, who gave witness of human and Christian solidarity. This proximity generated interest both towards the gospel and the beginning of the journey towards baptism. The date of November 19 seems to be a coincidence, but it is certainly a day chosen by God. It will be a great celebration for us all".<br />With this celebration, which brings together the little flock of the Turkmen faithful , World Day of the Poor Day in Turkmenistan is held, a state in which to talk about "poverty" is almost forbidden. The concept of "poor" is, in fact, one of the taboos in society, given that the government of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, president confirmed for the third time at the helm of the country since February 2017, wants to show the face of a growing country and in full development.<br />During the Soviet era, Turkmenistan was considered one of the poorest republics in the Union, with about 45% of the population, who in 1989 lived below the poverty line. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, unequal economic development contributed to creating a population of elite that holds most of the wealth and strong disparities among the provinces .<br />Measuring poverty was a taboo in the Soviet Union, but the scarcity and incompleteness of poverty data in the post-independence era also indicates that poverty is still a politically delicate topic in Central Asia. In 2012, the Turkmen government estimated poverty at 0.2% of the population, contradicting all independent indicators and studies, that spread estimates around 30%.<br />Turkmenistan has over 5 million inhabitants, of whom 90% Muslims. The Catholic Church was recognized by the Turkmen government in 2010. <br />Sat, 18 Nov 2017 10:49:57 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cardinal Pasinya accused of "black masses": when politics exploits religion - The social and political climate in the Democratic Republic of Congo is becoming increasingly tense due to the postponement of the presidential elections to December 23, 2018. And political clashes also seek to involve and exploit religious leaders. <br />People close to power have accused Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, metropolitan Archbishop of Kinshasa, of inciting artists to an uprising just because the Cardinal, on November 10, had met with Congolese artists in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Congo. The meeting was even defined a "black mass". "It is very unpleasant", replied the Archdiocese of Kinshasa in a note sent to Agenzia Fides. "The Cardinal said nothing wrong and did not attack the government in any way. It was a meeting organized by the chaplain responsible for the 'Culture and Art' sector to raise the awareness of artists on their mission in the Church and in society".<br />The situation has become particularly complex in the country when in December 20, 2016, the second mandate of President Joseph Kabila expired without new elections being announced. An agreement to organize the presidential elections by 2017, the so-called 'San Silvestro Agreement', was reached on 31 December with the mediation of Congolese Bishops. After the failure of the agreement, United States Ambassador Nikky Haley, on a visit to Kinshasa, had imposed elections by 2018, clarifying that otherwise the US would withdraw economic aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo.<br />On November 5, the Independent Electoral Commission set the date for the presidential elections on December 23, 2018. The opposition immediately rejected the new electoral calendar, accusing the government in office of wanting to prolong the instability and poverty of the people and various protests throughout the country were organized. Meanwhile, appeals to civil disobedience increase, and also citizens’ movements, including Lucha launched a mobilization on November 15 for President Kabila's withdrawal before 31 December 2017.<br />Although the government had banned any demonstration on 14 November, last Wednesday’s mobilization, which instead received the support and participation of the Grouping of the opposition, almost paralyzed the cities of Beni, Butembo, Goma and Lubumbashi, but only partly concerned the capital Kinshasa. There were unfortunaltey clashes: on the streets of Lubumbashi, barricades were built and a vehicle was burned, while in Kinshasa a person was wounded due to the attack on two public buses. The police intervention led to the arrest of 25 people. Last Wednesday’s demonstrations were just the beginning of a series of marches, of "civil disobedience" demonstrations scheduled for the next few days to force the president to resign. The Church, meanwhile, sensitizes Catholics and all people of good will in order to bring the country out of poverty and lead it towards peace and non-violence. <br /><br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:48:17 +0100AFRICA/EGYPT - Multitude of Coptic pilgrims in Rizeigat for the feast of St. George – A moltitude of Coptic pilgrims crowded the San Giorgio Sanctuary in Rizeigat, in the southwestern province of Luxor for days, in one of the most impressive celebrations of Christian popular devotion recorded annually in the Arab Countries. Celebrations at the Sanctuary took place throughout the last week, from 11 to 17 November, attracting tens of thousands of devotees from all Egyptian provinces. Processions, liturgies, chants, fraternal agapi marked in particular the last two days. The pilgrims were accommodated in thousands of tents encamped in the reception area set up on 60 acres around the Sanctuary. In moments of coexistence, local and national politicians, Imams sent as representation of the Egyptian Ministry for Religious Facilities also participated.<br />The popular demonstration of devotion to Saint George confirms that Coptic Christians do not give up the joy of confessing and witnessing their faith in public gatherings. During the spring and summer, after the massacres committed by jihadist groups, Egyptian Copts had been urged by security forces to diminish pilgrimages and celebrations in churches and monasteries - traditionally concentrated in the summer months - avoiding crowd gatherings at places of worship and prayer. The suggestion had been expressed personally by Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar during a meeting on Thursday, June 8, with top security officials in Egyptian provinces where the risks of terrorist acts are higher against the civilian population and the military and police forces. <br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:43:07 +0100AFRICA/ZIMBABWE - Mugabe reappears in public; Christian leaders call for a government of national unity - "The hope of a real change is fading between the people of the Country, because President Mugabe seems does not want to give up power", say sources of the local Church in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, to Agenzia Fides, where President Robert Mugabe reappeared in public on November 17.<br />The army, which at the dawn of November 15 took control of the presidential palace and strategic points of the Country, continues to carry out arrests of Mugabe's entourage. "We are talking of several arrests including the chief of police" confirm our sources. "At this point, it seems true what the military said who do not want to overthrow Mugabe, but to stop what they defined "the criminals who surround him" .<br />"However, there is still uncertainty and the much-anticipated changes in the population are linked to the clashes within Mugabe’s party, the ZANU-PF", comment Fides sources. Yesterday, November 16, a negotiation took place between Mugabe, Chief of the Armed Forces, General Chiwenga, in the presence of a South African delegation led by Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Jesuit father, Fidelis Mukonori, who is an old friend of the President of Zimbabwe. The details of the meeting have not been disclosed.<br />Meanwhile, Emmerson Mnangagwa, former Vice President, who had been fired by Mugabe last week has returned home. Victim in August of a presumed poisoning, Mnangagwa clashed with the ZANU-PF faction tied to Mugabe's wife, Grace. The crisis that saw the army apparently deployed with Mnangagwa was commented by the main Christian confessions of Zimbabwe in a joint statement sent to Agenzia Fides. <br />"Changes have been rapid in recent days, but the deterioration of the situation has existed for a long time, especially during the public gatherings of the ruling party, as well as the worsening of the socio-economic situation", reads the document signed by Zimbabwe's Heads Of Christian Denominations. Christian religious leaders say that it was clear that "exclusive politics, the growing use of ethnic identities that dominate public speeches, especially in political events and the media, further fragmented and threatened the already weak cohesion of our society" .<br />The confusion that emerged between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the State, and between the government and Mugabe’s party, according to Christian leaders, is the symptom of "a profound evil that has hit the nation for a long time".<br />Christian communities invite everyone to prayer and call for the creation of a government of national unity, the preconditions of dialogue between all the social and political components to bring the country out of political and institutional stalemate. <br /><br /><br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:34:51 +0100ASIA/JAPAN - Joint appeal of the Bishops of Korea and Japan:"Peace in North Asia is not based on weapons" - "The current situation in northeast Asia is very worrying. The countries of North Asia are looking for stability and prosperity with their military power, forming alliances with other great powers of the political system. This creates threats and anxieties in all nations and generates tensions for security in all countries. We, Bishops of South Korea and Japan, launch an appeal to express a hope of peace for North-East Asia": these are the words of the joint declaration of the Bishops of Japan and South Korea, sent to Agenzia Fides, at the conclusion of the joint meeting between the Bishops of the two nations, held in Kagoshima from 14 to 16 November. This is the 23rd joint assembly among the Bishops, who regularly hold an annual meeting to strengthen the ties of mutual cooperation and solidarity and to help build justice and peace in East Asia.<br />In the concluding note of the meeting, the Bishops express satisfaction for the meeting that "for 23 years has helped to reflect on the devastating history of the two countries and to build a bright future of reconciliation" and report of "having deepened our relationship and sharing on economic and cultural aspects".<br />The Bishops express "sincere hope for peace in Northeast Asia", rejecting any possible idea of war: "God urges us to eradicate in everybody the wrong conviction that peace can be guaranteed by nuclear weapons or militarization. These, on the contrary, only increase the risk of war. We would like to emphasize the principle expressed in Pacem In Terris by John XXIII, which emphasizes that 'true peace can only be built thanks to mutual trust', not counting on arsenals . In addition, the poor and the environment continue to suffer, while astronomical sums of money are spent on weapons. For the sake of God and all humanity, may the leaders of the nations make every effort to dialogue for peace: they have a great responsibility for world peace".<br />The statement sent to Fides concludes: "Violence is a crazy way of undermining human dignity and causing disastrous consequences for all humanity. Any kind of violence can only be overcome by building trust and love and solidarity among humans. We, Korean and Japanese Bishops, commit ourselves to peace by living actively in fraternal love, entrusting in God's power, not military power". <br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 13:05:39 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - Bishop's denunciation: exodus of the Tarahumaras indigenous due to violence - The Tarahumaras and Tepehuanes Indigenous are leaving their lands because they no longer find the necessary conditions for living there: reports the parish priest of San José of Tarahumara, Fr. Manuel Granados. "There is an unstoppable exodus of families towards the city where an even bigger problem is being created, because the predestinated settlements have become inadequate", said the priest in a note sent to Fides.<br />"I am witness to the fact that the exodus rises because I see all the new settlements which accommodate twice the number people where there are problems concerning: overcrowding, health, housing, education, food and drug problems", continues father Granados, adding that there is a situation of emergency in indigenous urban settlements, where approximately 20,000 people live. El Oasis, El Pajaro Azul, Ladrillera Norte and La Soledad are the places where the major problems are the lack of resources and services.<br />Also the Bishop of the Diocese of Tarahumara, Mgr. Juan Manuel González Sandoval, M.N.M., launched the alarm: every day, on average, three indigenous families emigrate from the mountain communities, mainly because of insecurity, violence, expropriation of land and the destruction of the forest. The Bishop, appointed last April, reports that the problem has been growing for 8 years and has now become "a real emergency". Two days ago, Mgr. González Sandoval, during the Mexican Episcopate Assembly in Mexico City, denounced that the main cause of this exodus is "violence, especially the one caused by gangs".<br />The situation of the "Sierra" of the Tarahumara is becoming a much more serious emergency, as there are many ethnic groups present in this almost abandoned place in the Chihuahua department. The 63,000 sq. Km of rugged forest and land welcomes dozens of indigenous communities and centers, where the presence of the State is almost invisible. This raises the violence of the Narcos, who impose the transformation of crops and the recruitment of young people for criminal gangs, phenomena in which families prefer to flee. <br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:30:44 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - Among poverty, illness, malnutrition, the care of missionaries towards the disabled au Prince – In Haiti people live in huts, half of the population does not have access to drinking water, they do not have enough food and the highest rate of child mortality is recorded. One child out of 10 does not reach five years of age.<br />After the devastating earthquake that four years ago caused 200,000 deaths, and exactly a year ago, Hurricane Matthew caused thousands of deaths and thousands of displaced people, it is today news that heavy rains are investing the Caribbean island and have already caused the death of five people as well as the flooding of thousands of homes. The situation for the poorest people who have built homes near channels and watercourses is particularly alarming. <br />Luckily from the island there are also messages of hope like those of the Camillian missionaries who, on behalf of Father Antonio Menegon, MI, for years working on the island, tell us their daily activities mainly aimed at disabled children, the weakest sector of society, increased by 15% due to the earthquake.<br />"On Wednesday, November 1, 2017, All Saints Day – says Father Antonio we inaugurated a new home for 20 children and teenagers aged from 10 to 20 in our Disabled Center in Haiti. It is a goal that opens the heart towards hope, which makes the lives of these children more dignified and more human, and is also of great help to poor Haitian families who cannot provide adequate assistance to these little ones".<br />"In addition staff formation courses at the Foyer Saint Camille Center in Port au Prince continue where disabled children from 1 to 10 years of age are taken care of with love and passion every day", continues Father Antonio.<br />"The operating rooms at Saint Camille Hospital in Port au Prince have increased the number of surgeries, especially for children with hernia problems, malformations, and pathologies that need to be treated surgically.<br />In Jérémie, in the village of Saint Camille, which houses 30 families, we are finishing the construction of a small school to provide education for 120 elementary school children", concludes the missionary. Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:02:38 +0100ASIA/HONG KONG - Half a century of mission among the lepers: Don Gaetano Nicosia, the angel of lepers Kong - It was August 1963 when the young Salesian missionary Don Gaetano Nicosia arrived in Ka Ho, a remote corner of the island of Coloane, Macau, to take care of a hundred patients suffering from Hansen's disease and lived there after the closure of leper colonies in China.<br />The situation of abandonment and isolation, including healthcare, was dramatic, characterized by frequent violence and suicide. The leper colonies could only be reached by boat, but boatmen did not want to leave their boats and the food was pulled to shore with ropes.<br />Don Nicosia was born on April 3, 1915 in San Giovanni La Punta, province of Catania, Italy, and in 1935 he began his mission in Hong Kong. He was ordained a priest in 1946, in the church dedicated to St. Joseph in Macau, after a first period spent in China in Guangdong Province, to his expulsion in 1950, he dedicated himself to students at the San Luigi school in Hong Kong. However, he felt strongly the desire to live the mission with the poorest, precisely with the lepers. When the Bishop of Macau asked the Salesians for help for the lepers in Coloane, Don Nicosia managed to achieve his deepest aspiration, which would lead him to be known as the "angel of lepers".<br />He then moved to Ka Ho and for 48 years, from 1963 to 2011, he lived with lepers, radically transforming that despair into a clean and decent center. Doctors and nurses arrived who provided proper medical care, healthy food, and the houses were renovated, the environment was also tidy and clean. Thanks to his commitment there was also drinking water and electricity. A farm and workshop was set up for the various crafts, so that each one had a job or task to carry out. A Council was also formed to discuss and make decisions regarding the small community.<br />Don Nicosia lived with them, assuring, in addition to dignity and well-being, the announcement of the Christian faith: when he arrived at the leper colony there were about fifteen Catholics, but little by little everyone embraced faith thanks to his testimony of life and his dedication to catechism. A school and a church dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows was built.<br />In the 1970s about forty lepers were dismissed, because they were healed, but also the rest, about seventy, little by little, returned to the world. Don Nicosia helped many former sick lepers to win the stigma that still hit them. In 2011, the sick were all cured and most of them worked as teachers, employees, and professionals. Don Nicosia was not insensitive to lepers in Guangdong Province, where he collaborated with local authorities to recover sick people and children, children of lepers, offering them education and support for their future.<br />Don Nicosia, priest of great spirituality, was confessor and director of priests, religious men and women and lay people. He died in Hong Kong on November 6, at the age of 102. The funeral took place on November 14 in the Cathedral, before the burial in San Michele cemetery in Macao.<br />Over the years, many people, affected by the faith and affection of Don Nicosia, who received honors and awards for his work from the government of Macao and the Presidency of the Italian Republic, supported him in the work of good that he did everywhere. A documentary in 2015 was dedicated to him: "Don Gaetano Nicosia, the Angel of the Lepers". <br />Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:08:56 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Justice for the murder of missionary Fausto Tentorio gets closer - "There are positive signs and undoubted progress regarding the murder of Fr Fausto Tentorio, and the new investigative group appointed by the government of President Duterte have given the first fruits. We had written to the President, asking him to shake up the investigations. Now more accurate investigations and listening to new witnesses in Arakan, have led to the denunciation of a dozen people, among the possible perpetrators of the crime. And among the investigated, there are two regular army commanders and several paramilitary group members. We are pleased that the trial to do justice has awakened": says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Peter Geremia, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in the Southern Philippines, and confrere of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, the 59-year-old missionary who was killed on the morning of October 17, 2011 by two killers in the region of Arakan, Mindanao, where Fr. Tentorio had carried out his pastoral service since 1979.<br />During the conversation with Fides, Fr. Peter praises the work of state prosecutor Peter Ong, appointed by the Department of Justice in Manila, at the head of the new investigative group, who went to Arakan to conduct new investigations, and expresses hope "that the trial reaches its finalization, according to principles of legality that end the impunity that has lasted for six years".<br />The missionary reminds us that "for six years, on the 17th of each month, we celebrate a holy Mass to remember Father Fausto. And on October 17 each year, prayer celebrations and peaceful demonstrations bring thousands of people to his tomb in Kidapawan". The spontaneous movement, formed by many indigenous leaders, continues to call for justice and launched a new initiative, the Peoples' Peace Summit, presenting the Philippine government a peace agenda for the region of Arakan, still crossed by conflicts between paramilitary groups and rebel guerrillas of the New People's Army communist group.<br />According to new information, Father Tentorio was killed precisely because he sympathized with these rebel groups. In his work of human evangelization and promotion, the missionary was committed to the rights of the Manobo indigenous communities, especially when it was to defend them from the target of multinational corporations aiming to exploit local mineral resources, acting in connivance with military and political leaders. <br />Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:47:12 +0100ASIA/MYANMAR - The "spirituality of unity" leaves an impression on the Burmese Church - The Catholic Bishops of Myanmar are interested in promoting the "spirituality of unity": says Bishop Felix Liam, president of the Bishops' Conference of Myanmar, to Agenzia Fides. The Bishops of Myanmar have shown their attention with regards to the ecclesial reality that promotes the "spirituality of unity", that is, the Focolare Movement founded by Chiara Lubich in 1943. Last June, some Focolari delegates had a meeting in Yangon with members of the Burmese Church who publicly appreciated the spirit of the Movement, which promotes ideals of universal unity and brotherhood among peoples, cultures and religions.<br />"The people of Myanmar need to rediscover this unity", said Bishop Liam to Fides. "I was very impressed by the story of the charismatic and prophetic life of the founder of the movement. More than ever the Burmese Church needs movements like the Focolare. While the arrogance of power divides people on the basis of color and race, the Focolare spirit created a 'global communion' for world peace", added Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon.<br />The Bishops of Myanmar appreciate the idea of building "a Church that is a witness to communion", offering the country an example of "unity in diversity". Speaking to Fides, the Cardinal recalled that "the Catholic Church in Myanmar is committed to promoting and praying for justice, for peace, for human dignity, a task that unites all religions. No religion speaks of hatred. Those who propagate hatred in the name of religion are real enemies of religion. We have great desire for peace, and we must be agents of peace and unity in our country. Our nation suffers deep wounds, due to divisions and hatred in society. We are called to bring light and joy to those who live in the darkness of fear, hatred, and sadness. We await Pope Francis with this spirit, who will soon be among us". <br />Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:19:30 +0100