Fides News - Englishhttp://fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/HOLY LAND - A new trial on the disputed buildings between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and Ateret Cohanim is possiblehttp://fides.org/en/news/67076-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_A_new_trial_on_the_disputed_buildings_between_the_Greek_Orthodox_Patriarchate_and_Ateret_Cohanim_is_possiblehttp://fides.org/en/news/67076-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_A_new_trial_on_the_disputed_buildings_between_the_Greek_Orthodox_Patriarchate_and_Ateret_Cohanim_is_possibleJerusalem - The long tug-of-war on some buildings of the Holy City between the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Jewish organization Ateret Cohanim has not yet reached its conclusion: in recent days - the Israeli press informed - a judge of the Jerusalem District Court questioned a previous ruling by the Supreme Court that seemed to have definitively accepted the claims of the Jewish group, and opened de facto the possibility of initiating a new trial on the controversial issue of disputed property.<br />The three buildings in question are located in the Christian quarter of the Old City, near the Jaffa Gate.<br />Last June , the Supreme Court of Israel had rejected the appeal presented by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem to block the acquisition - denounced as illegitimate - of the three buildings by Ateret Cohanim. According to the judgment pronounced by the Court in June, the properties of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate had legitimately been acquired by foreign intermediaries acting on behalf of Ateret Cohanim.<br />After the pronouncement of the Supreme Court, 13 Patriarchs and Heads of Churches and Christian communities present in the Holy Land declared in a joint statement that the initiatives of the Jewish association Ateret Cohanim aimed at grabbing real estate in the Christian part of the Old City of Jerusalem represent an attack "not only on the property rights of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem", but also on the status quo that regulates relations between the different religious communities in the Holy City, and risk becoming a "threat" to the local Christian presence. The three buildings in question are the subject of legal disputes lasting a total of more than 14 years <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:11:54 +0100AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The Catholic Church's condolences for the Sunday massacrehttp://fides.org/en/news/67075-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_The_Catholic_Church_s_condolences_for_the_Sunday_massacrehttp://fides.org/en/news/67075-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_The_Catholic_Church_s_condolences_for_the_Sunday_massacreOuagadougou - "We are deeply saddened by this evil act, the Church joins the pain of the Federation of Churches and Evangelical Missions in Burkina Faso. We send our sincere condolences and we are in communion of prayer for the souls of the dead faithful and alleviate the pain of those who have been affected by these murders", said Fr. Paul Dah, at the Head of Communications of the Episcopal Conference of Burkina Faso, in presenting the condolences of the Catholic Church to the victims of the massacre on Sunday 1 December in a Protestant church in Hantoukoura, in the eastern part of Burkina Faso resulting in 14 deaths.<br />According to Pastor Henri Yé, President of the Federation of Churches and Evangelical Missions, the attacked community is "a small new church, with less than 30 members. Many of these are young people between 10 and 14 years of age. Only one of them is over 40 years old.<br />At the time of the assault, "there was no pastor there" said Yé. "Women and girls were kept inside the church. Only men were dragged out of the church and killed. Among these, some are very young: 10, 12 and 14 years old".<br />Yé believes that the attackers crossed the border with motorcycles to return to Niger.<br />According to the local press, a group of at least 12 armed men attacked the place of worship. After separating the men from the women, they told the men to lie down on the ground. After covering the heads of the victims with a cloth, they then killed them one by one. <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 13:04:55 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "Year of ecumenism and dialogue", to build a better societyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67074-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Year_of_ecumenism_and_dialogue_to_build_a_better_societyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67074-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Year_of_ecumenism_and_dialogue_to_build_a_better_societyManila - All Filipinos are called to build a better society through fraternal love and interreligious dialogue: this is the appeal issued by Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, in the Pastoral Letter published by the Bishops on the occasion of the special "Year of ecumenism, interreligious dialogue and indigenous peoples", launched by the Filipino Catholic Church on 1 December, in preparation for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the advent of Christianity in the country, which is celebrated in 2021. As Agenzia Fides learns, the central theme, chosen for the Year, is taken from the Gospel of John "May they all be one" .<br />"Fraternal love also requires us to walk together in building a better world while preserving the name of justice and mercy, the bases of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith", the Bishops write in the letter sent to Agenzia Fides. "The authentic religious teachings invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace, to always be ready to ask forgiveness for our mistakes, to be ready to forgive others for the evil they have done to us", they add.<br />The Bishops cite "the recent apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Middle East, Thailand and Japan, which promoted a culture of encounter and solidarity" and recognize "the challenges of coexistence among different faiths as we build unity and harmony in the community".<br />"An open, honest, loving, respectful dialogue of life, prayer and action is the only path to harmony in the community. Great values: peace and harmony are at stake - the letter notes - particularly in areas of armed conflict; solidarity in the struggle for social change; caring for social ills; integrity and social justice in our land".<br />In this context "the Church urges the faithful to collaborate with people of other religions and cultures. Christians, while witnessing to their faith and their way of life, recognize, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths that are found among the peoples of other faiths and traditions, and also their social and cultural life", reads the text.<br />According to the Bishops, "interreligious dialogue does not simply aim at mutual understanding and friendly relations. It reaches a much deeper level, the spiritual level, in which exchange and sharing consist in a mutual testimony of one's own convictions and in a common, respectful and empathic exploration of the respective religious convictions".<br />The Church has proposed four forms of dialogue: the dialogue of life, in which people strive to live in a spirit of openness and closeness; the dialogue of action, in which believers collaborate for integral development and human promotion; the dialogue of theological exchange, in which specialists try to deepen their understanding of their respective religious and spiritual heritage and values; the dialogue of religious experience, in which the faithful share their spiritual riches, for example with regard to prayer, faith, contemplation of God.<br />"The ultimate goal of dialogue - notes the text - is that the whole of humanity lives in harmony and fraternal love. This fraternal love will guarantee peace in our land, which actually seems elusive", they say, recalling the challenges and conflicts still present in Philippine territory. In conclusion, the Bishops, on the occasion of the Year of Dialogue and Ecumenism, exhort all men and women of good will to "live in harmony, asking to respect each other's differences and to protect the rights and freedoms of the entire humanity". <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 12:58:21 +0100AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Caritas adopts a South African method to assist orphans due to AIDShttp://fides.org/en/news/67073-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Caritas_adopts_a_South_African_method_to_assist_orphans_due_to_AIDShttp://fides.org/en/news/67073-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Caritas_adopts_a_South_African_method_to_assist_orphans_due_to_AIDSYamoussoukro - Since 2012, the diocesan Caritas of Man has been involved in raising awareness and psychosocial support of over 500 orphan children due to AIDS, according to the "Memory Box" method developed in South Africa. To draw on this experience and to put it into practice in other dioceses of the country and in the structures responsible for the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Ivory Coast, 15 diocesan Caritas, representatives of the Ministry of Health and the fight against HIV/AIDS and the Ministry of Women, Family and Children met from 2 to 3 December 2019 in Yamoussoukro to understand the principles of this method.<br />The seminar organized by the Dominican brother Philippe Denis, founding member of the South African NGO "Center Sinomlando", technical partner of the diocesan Caritas of Man and by Sister Marie Rose SEHI responsible for the project of taking charge of HIV/AIDS orphans in the aforementioned diocese.<br />Brother Denis offered some suggestions for accepting and managing pain. The exercise of "The river of life" allowed the participants to remember their moments of joy and sadness in order to find in them the positive elements that could help pull themselves up. An approach aimed at helping the people affected by pain, illness or loss of something essential to start from scratch. <br />Present in Yamoussoukro, Fr. Jean Pierre Tiemele, National Executive Secretary of Caritas Ivory Coast greeted this seminar which will allow the actors involved in the psychosocial accompaniment of orphaned children or those living with HIV AIDS to be more effective.<br />The Ivory Coast, according to the data of the UN program for AIDS , and the country most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in West Africa, with a seropositivity rate that fluctuates between 2 and 3, 5%, 25 thousand new infections, almost 22 thousand cases of deaths registered in recent years and over 400 thousand orphans and or children in precarious situation. Faced with this dramatic situation, the Ivorian State has committed itself not only to retroceding the pandemic, but also to accompanying those affected, in particular children, by establishing the National Care Program for children who are orphaned and vulnerable due to HIV/AIDS. The Catholic Church, interested in the integral development of man, can only support the government by sharing its competences in this sector, through its social branch which is Caritas. <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 12:05:14 +0100AMERICA/HONDURAS - "We must continue to fight corruption", said Mgr. Garachana Pérez, supporting the renewal of MACCIHhttp://fides.org/en/news/67072-AMERICA_HONDURAS_We_must_continue_to_fight_corruption_said_Mgr_Garachana_Perez_supporting_the_renewal_of_MACCIHhttp://fides.org/en/news/67072-AMERICA_HONDURAS_We_must_continue_to_fight_corruption_said_Mgr_Garachana_Perez_supporting_the_renewal_of_MACCIHSan Pedro Sula - A few days after the expiry of the "MACCIH" agreement , signed between the government of Honduras and the Organization of American States , the national media gave voice to the public opinion through various representatives of society, including Mgr. Angel Garachana Pérez, CMF, Bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro Sula.<br />Mgr. Garachana Pérez, who is also President of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras, told reporters that little has been done in the fight against corruption and that it is necessary to continue being supported by MACCIH: "We have not reached a level that we can do without MACCIH. Although there are government voices stating that we do not need them, the facts say the opposite. We must continue to fight corruption because here is the solution to many problems, such as the poverty of our people".<br />The President of the Episcopal Conference pointed out that those who occupy important positions in the country should do so in a responsible way, thinking of those who are most in need and not of protecting their own interests: "We need a very profound change of attitude, particularly of the heart, so it can be expressed in the development for all". Deputies were called - above all - to live in transparency and truth. "Those who use public money must be open to control, the people have the right to know how the money is used which is the result of the citizens' contribution", he added.<br />According to information gathered by Fides, representatives of the United States of America have publicly affirmed the importance of the continuity of MACCIH. "It is vital that the Honduran government approves the renewal of the MACCIH mandate before next month's deadline", Hugo Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant Director for Central America's Washington State Department, told the press. MACCIH was created on January 19, 2016 for a period of four years, with the possibility of extension, it supported the Honduran Prosecutor in presenting several cases of corruption before the courts.<br />Corruption and drug trafficking have reached very high levels in Honduras. The Catholic Church was one of the few institutions that reported and denounced situations of injustice, especially the terrible situation of prisoners and migrants. Mgr. Angel Garachana Péerez, of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Spanish by birth, has already celebrated 75 years. Since 11 November 1994 he has been Bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro Sula. The Catholic community of Honduras has recognized in him one of the Pastors most involved in serving the poor, in the formation of Honduran priests and lay people in many communities in the country, as well as in social pastoral care within the framework of the Episcopal Conference. <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 11:30:08 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian leaders visiting Islamic institutions: prayer and common commitment for peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/67071-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Christian_leaders_visiting_Islamic_institutions_prayer_and_common_commitment_for_peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/67071-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Christian_leaders_visiting_Islamic_institutions_prayer_and_common_commitment_for_peaceMultan - Visiting a madrasa and the department of Islamic studies of a university faculty in Multan: this is the special mission accomplished in recent days by Mgr. Sebastian Shaw, Catholic Archbishop of Lahore and President of the Bishops’ Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. Accompanied by a delegation of Dominican religious, including Fr. Jamshed Albert OP, Fr. Raphael Mahenga OP and Fr. Jamshed Gill OP, the Franciscan, Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Capp, Executive Secretary of the Bishops’ Commission, and other participants in the mini pilgrimage, the Archbishop went to the madrasa where he met the imam and the students. After an exchange of greetings and mutual appreciation, at the end of the meeting an olive tree was planted in the compound of the madrasa and all those present recited together the prayer "God, give me the instrument of your peace", attributed to Francis of Assisi, as a sign of unity between Christians and Muslims, a desire reiterated by all.<br />The delegation then moved to the Baha Ul Din Zikria University in Multan, visiting the Department of Islamic Studies, where a meeting was held with the professors of the Department, with an exchange of views on the path of unity and harmony among Christians and Muslims, respecting each other's differences. Mr Jamil Nataqani, at the head of the Department of Islamic Studies, and other professors expressed their joy by welcoming the Christian representatives. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw spoke and donated the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living" signed in Abu Dhab by Pope Francis together with Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyebad i, translated into Urdu, calling for collaboration for peace at a universal level. At the conclusion of the fruitful debate, an olive tree was also planted in the Department of Islamic Studies, as "a sacred sign of the common commitment to dialogue, peace and reconciliation among Christians and Muslims". <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 11:11:09 +0100AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Complaints and hopes of young Paraguayans at the end of the Youth Triennium: "Yes to life, yes to Jesus"http://fides.org/en/news/67070-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Complaints_and_hopes_of_young_Paraguayans_at_the_end_of_the_Youth_Triennium_Yes_to_life_yes_to_Jesushttp://fides.org/en/news/67070-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Complaints_and_hopes_of_young_Paraguayans_at_the_end_of_the_Youth_Triennium_Yes_to_life_yes_to_JesusCaacupé - "We cannot remain ignorant to the different realities that influence the lives of many Paraguayans, for this reason, as young people we denounce: the corrupt attitude of many political leaders who do not listen to citizens, lacking respect for the dignity and the right of every Paraguayan; people are tired of those who are just trying to fill their pockets at the expense of humble and hard-working people". This is a passage from the "Youth Pastoral Manifesto", published at the end of the Youth Triennium celebrated by the Church of Paraguay from 2017 to 2019 which ended with a pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Lady of Caacupé on November 30, where young people from all regions of the country gathered.<br />In the text of the Manifesto, sent to Agenzia Fides, the young people complain that "justice has become a corrupt instrument and managed by political and economic powers, used in favor of private interests"; they also believe that "public health is a fundamental right and not just a privilege of some, so it hurts to see children who die from neglect, lack of medicines or necessary equipment, as well as many people who die on the streets in search of attention. It is sad to see how many hospitals in our country are collapsing and are without supplies".<br />Violence, drug trafficking and insecurity prevail in the Country, where no citizen is safe, the youth Manifesto continues, denouncing the absence of those who should guarantee public order and the threat of armed groups. Even environmental laws remain on paper, and the country suffers a profound daily deforestation.<br />Faced with this situation, young Paraguayans express their desires: the rulers have to be attentive to the needs of the population and remember that they are at the service of all citizens; have to promote policies that generate jobs for young people so as not to force them to emigrate; "Human life is the absolute priority, taking care of and protecting the health of every Paraguayan from conception to death"; the family, as the foundation of society, is no longer the object of violence and feminicide.<br />They also demand effective public security measures for all citizens, as well as investigating those who exploit farmers and indigenous people, "forcing them to leave their homes and lands, migrating to the cities, where they create pockets of poverty that are exploited for political clientelism".<br />The young people of Paraguay pray for peace in Latin America, "so that t rulers may be wise and listen to the needs of their peoples, in order to restore order and peace to our brother countries". They also encourage everyone, "as young people and lay people, to be protagonists in building a better society, to bring about transformation in Christ, always in search of the common good". The Manifesto finally urges all young people "not to be deceived by the false idols of this world as addictions, materialism and an easy life, because the only one who can give a real meaning to life is Jesus, because He lives and loves you alive, he calls and waits for you always, therefore, young people, say yes to life, say yes to Jesus". <br />Thu, 05 Dec 2019 10:28:24 +0100AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Bishops call for a week of reconciliation ahead of the 2020 electionshttp://fides.org/en/news/67066-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Bishops_call_for_a_week_of_reconciliation_ahead_of_the_2020_electionshttp://fides.org/en/news/67066-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_Bishops_call_for_a_week_of_reconciliation_ahead_of_the_2020_electionsAbidjan - In view of the 2020 elections, there is a climate of widespread fear among the population in the Ivory Coast; fear linked to the recurrence of conflicts between communities or land occupation, the illegal occupation of forests and widespread insecurity.<br />This is what the Catholic Bishops of the Ivory Coast had emphasized at the conclusion of their 113th Plenary Assembly, which was held from 17 to 23 June 2019 . The theme of reconciliation and the preservation of peace was also one of its priorities established in the Strategic Plan 2019-2023 of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the Ivory Coast .<br />In the perspective of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Africae Munus" of Pope Benedict XVI on the commitment towards Africa, the Ivorian Bishops have long established a National Week of "Reconciliation" which begins every first Sunday of Advent, this year the second Sunday.<br />The goal of this week is to make everyone aware of the need for reconciliation among Christians to work for the good of the human community in the Ivory Coast, to be men and women of unity and peace.<br />"Reconciliation goes beyond elections. We must do all we can to ensure that the Ivorians reconcile and go to elections in peace, tranquility and search for the common good for all", declared His Exc. Mgr. Ignace Dogbo Bessi, Bishop of Katiola and President of the EBishops’ Conference of the Ivory Coast.<br />To the question of how the Church intends to involve Ivorian political actors in this week of reconciliation, Mgr. Bessi replies: "They have not been forgotten. Every member of the population is taken into consideration so as to gather together in prayer, listening to the Word of God and making concrete gestures of reconciliation: politicians will be asked to encourage rapprochement and meetings between the leaders and activists of the various political parties, who will then live a mass together, with a fraternal sharing of all this, in some cities, such as Abidjan, Katiola, Korhogo, etc." <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 13:00:12 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarchate: no decorated Christmas trees, no celebrations, out of respect for the victimshttp://fides.org/en/news/67069-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarchate_no_decorated_Christmas_trees_no_celebrations_out_of_respect_for_the_victimshttp://fides.org/en/news/67069-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarchate_no_decorated_Christmas_trees_no_celebrations_out_of_respect_for_the_victimsBaghdad - There will be no decorated Christmas trees in the churches or streets, no celebrations and no reception at the patriarchate. The head of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church announced that the community would not hold public celebrations of Christmas out of respect for those killed and wounded in recent anti-government protests, that have caused so far hundreds of deaths across the country, and continue even after the resignation of Premier Adel Abdel Mahdi. <br />In particular, the traditional receptions that see political and religious authorities at the Patriarchate headquarters to exchange Christmas greetings with the Patriarch and his collaborators have been cancelled. Only moments of prayer and intercession will take place for the souls of the victims and to invoke the return of Peace in the whole country. Patriarch Sako - sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate report - invites us to transform the resources saved in donations for orphanages and hospitals.<br />In recent days, in a text also released by the Chaldean patriarchate, Patriarch Sako had also tried to give a "theological interpretation" of the protest demonstrations that shake some Middle Eastern countries, introducing it with a historical reference to Latin American liberation theologies: "Liberation Theology" reads the text signed by the Patriarch and Cardinal Raphael Louis Sako "was born from the pain and anguish of the Latin American countries, due to the political, administrative and financial corruption present in most of those Countries". In a similar manner - continues the comparison of the Patriarch – the reasons of these demonstrations under way for almost two months in Iraq and Lebanon, which see above all young people of both sexes, are the devotion to one’s Homeland, the desire to see “legitimate human rights” guaranteed and to put an end to the drifts of sectarianism, social exclusion and corruption" that have dominated the country since 2003 . <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 12:51:51 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - Chaos and violence, an injured woman praying in church: testimony of a missionaryhttp://fides.org/en/news/67065-AMERICA_HAITI_Chaos_and_violence_an_injured_woman_praying_in_church_testimony_of_a_missionaryhttp://fides.org/en/news/67065-AMERICA_HAITI_Chaos_and_violence_an_injured_woman_praying_in_church_testimony_of_a_missionaryPort au Prince - Chaos, fear, confusion, insecurity not only in streets but everywhere: this is the situation that the Haitian people live in these days of constant demonstrations against the authorities. Father Renold Antoine, CSsR, Redemptorist priest, parish priest of San Gerardo parish, in the capital, contacted by Agenzia Fides, reports the serious episode that struck one of his parishioners.<br />"Jean Barthélemy, a Catholic faithful very well known in the parish as 'Madame Jean', was hit by a bullet and seriously injured in the late afternoon of Monday, December 2 while participating in the novena in our parish", confirms the priest. In fact, demonstrations, clashes and vandalism, with the burning of cars, tires and other materials, followed one another in the afternoon of Monday, December 2, in Carrefour-Feuilles, a district of Port-au-Prince, where the parish is located. "We immediately interrupted the novena and rushed Madame Jean to the hospital, where she underwent surgery shortly afterwards because the bullet had reached her left eye", Father Renold told Fides. "Only much later did we learn from the hospital that her life is not in danger. We pray for her", he concludes.<br />Father Renold Antoine describes the situation to Fides: "It is no secret to anyone, Haiti is the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. This country that was considered during the colonial era as "the pearl of the Antilles" has today become a real dump. This country in 1804 changed the course of human history by freeing itself from slavery and at the same time declaring its independence and becoming the first "Republic of blacks in the world". Today demonstrations and protests throughout the country have been taking place for several months, demanding the resignation of the President of the Republic, Jovenel Moïse. What the island is experiencing is a real revolt against unemployment, poverty, social injustice, insecurity, exclusion, impunity and moral crime, manipulation, corruption, deterioration of purchasing power, bad management, new inflation devaluations of the national currency. As a result, many Haitians leave the country in search of a better situation elsewhere, sometimes risking their lives or their rights. Faced with this situation, the State responds through repression".<br />Quoting the message of the Episcopal Conference, recently published , Father Renold states: "the Bishops recognize that people's demands are just and legitimate, so they ask for demonstrations to take place peacefully, without resorting to violence. It is unacceptable that some live in arrogant and scandalous opulence and the majority languish in shameful poverty". Although the President calls for international intervention to curb the crisis affecting the country, many people believe that the real hunger of the population is not just bread and water, but hunger for development, equity, security and a better life", concludes Father Renold.<br />The church of San Gerardo, is housed in a temporary structure after its destruction during the earthquake of 12 January 2010. The community of Redemptorist missionaries also manages three schools that welcome a large number of children and that these days have had to close to ensure the safety of children. <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 12:43:10 +0100AFRICA/DR Congo - Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary celebrate 100 years of mission in the DRChttp://fides.org/en/news/67068-AFRICA_DR_Congo_Missionary_Sisters_of_the_Immaculate_Heart_of_Mary_celebrate_100_years_of_mission_in_the_DRChttp://fides.org/en/news/67068-AFRICA_DR_Congo_Missionary_Sisters_of_the_Immaculate_Heart_of_Mary_celebrate_100_years_of_mission_in_the_DRCKinshasa - "Remembering, celebrating, starting with Christ" is the theme around which the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary celebrate the centenary of their presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. To begin this jubilee year, a thanksgiving mass was celebrated in the church of Notre Dame de Fatima in Kinshasa on Saturday 30 November.<br />His Exc. Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, Apostolic Nuncio in the Democratic Republic of Congo, presided over the Eucharist. Inspired by the readings of the day of St. Andrew, he recalled the need for a true passion to follow Christ; passion that animated Saint Andrew in his life as an apostle. It is also this passion that inspired the ICM sisters during these 100 years of service in the DRC and that they will have to show more to continue the work of Christ in Congo.<br />In her speech, the superior provincial nun reiterated the call that Mother Marie-Louise de Meester, founder of the ICM, launched to the first missionaries sent to begin the mission in Congo: "being a missionary is more than dedicating oneself to the needy, it is essentially giving one's life, so that others can experience the life-giving grace of Christ".<br />A large crowd of collaborators, families and the sisters' friends enriched this celebration with their presence and testimonies. The collaborators recognize in these sisters, among other things, the spirit of initiative, love for the work well done and, above all, concern for the well-being of young people. It is this concern that justifies the fame of the Kabambare, Movenda and Toyokana high schools in Kinshasa, schools run by the ICM sisters, whose results are always satisfactory.<br />The sisters of the ICM were previously called canonical of St. Augustine. In the DRC, in addition to education, they also work in the field of health and pastoral care. They are present in the archdiocese of Kinshasa and in the dioceses of Boma and Lisala. <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 12:10:15 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - Government and religious communities united to promote interreligious harmonyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67067-ASIA_INDONESIA_Government_and_religious_communities_united_to_promote_interreligious_harmonyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67067-ASIA_INDONESIA_Government_and_religious_communities_united_to_promote_interreligious_harmonyJakarta - The Indonesian government and Indonesian religious leaders, including Christians, are intensifying their commitment to promoting interreligious dialogue in the country. As Agenzia Fides learns, the Center for Religious Harmony, within the Ministry of Religion, organized a special forum yesterday in Jakarta, involving 50 delegates from various religious faiths, including Christian representatives, whose focus was the ways to strengthen religious harmony in Indonesian society.<br />"It is the continuous effort of all the religious leaders in the country to work for peace, harmony and solidarity", said to Agenzia Fides Maxi Paat, a Catholic layman who took part in the meeting. Father Frans Dwikoco, another of the delegates present, said that "it is the desire of the Indonesian Catholic Church to work together with believers from other communities with the intention of promoting dialogue and interreligious harmony together". Catholic delegates recalled that last month, during the annual meeting of the Indonesian Catholic Bishops Conference, held in Bandung, the Bishops stressed that "the Catholic Church is committed to human fraternity and for a peaceful Indonesia".<br />During the debate, Ahmad Astamar, a Muslim leader, said: "Today more than ever, Indonesian society must promote interreligious dialogue at all levels, as the forces of religious intolerance are constantly growing, sometimes for political reasons. It is important to combat the radicalization of Indonesian youth who are led or manipulated by potential terrorist groups", he added.<br />In recent years in the Indonesian archipelago there have been several episodes of violence caused by religious sectarianism or by terrorist and jihadist groups. Indonesia is the most populous Muslim-majority country in the world, with a population of 263 million people. Christians, of all denominations, make up 12% of the population. <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 11:43:12 +0100EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - The Bishops launch the action of the Starsingers, under the sign of peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/67064-EUROPE_SWITZERLAND_The_Bishops_launch_the_action_of_the_Starsingers_under_the_sign_of_peacehttp://fides.org/en/news/67064-EUROPE_SWITZERLAND_The_Bishops_launch_the_action_of_the_Starsingers_under_the_sign_of_peaceFreiburg - The initiative of the "Starsingers", promoted annually by the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society during the Christmas holidays, was officially launched in Switzerland with the visit of two groups of boys and girls from Ticino at the Plenary Assembly of the Swiss Bishops' Conference , on 2 December in Lugano. The children presented their activity, placed this year under the sign of peace with particular attention to Lebanon, and received the blessing of the Bishops.<br />According to information sent to Agenzia Fides from Missio Switzerland, the two groups from the parishes of San Nicola in Lugano Besso and San Pietro and Paolo in Gravesano, received the blessing of the Bishops, who also blessed the stars and the message of peace that the "Starsingers" of Ticino will present to people during their visits. The Bishops were given a Lamp of peace and a star.<br />"The Starsingers are also themselves a mission", underlined Martin Brunner-Artho, National Director of Missio, referring to the Extraordinary Missionary Month in October. "The Starsingers of go to meet people, bring the good news, peace and blessing to their homes. It is an important activity of the Church and we must cultivate it. That is why we ask for the blessing of the Bishops to launch the mission of the Starsingers".<br />Peace is the theme of the action of the Starsingers 2019-2020, which takes place this year for the first time in collaboration with "Light of Peace Switzerland". On December 15, the Lamp of peace that will be lit in the Nativity grotto in Bethlehem will be broadcast from Basel, Zurich, Lucerne and Freiburg. This year the Starsingers will support their projects in particular for their peers in Lebanon, as well as throughout the world. Every year, thanks to the donations of the Starsingers, about 200 projects for children and young people are co-financed worldwide. <br />Wed, 04 Dec 2019 11:34:01 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - The Bishops: "it is unacceptable that some live in arrogant and scandalous opulence and the majority languish in shameful poverty"http://fides.org/en/news/67058-AMERICA_HAITI_The_Bishops_it_is_unacceptable_that_some_live_in_arrogant_and_scandalous_opulence_and_the_majority_languish_in_shameful_povertyhttp://fides.org/en/news/67058-AMERICA_HAITI_The_Bishops_it_is_unacceptable_that_some_live_in_arrogant_and_scandalous_opulence_and_the_majority_languish_in_shameful_povertyPort au Prince - As preparation for the Christmas celebration, the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti have published a message asking the authorities and opposition leaders to be self-critical and to think about the good of the people, to reach solutions that have historical repercussions for the harsh reality of the Haitians.<br />40 people have died in these last two months of demonstrations and protests, which often end in violent clashes, to demand the resignation of the President of the Republic Jovenel Moïse. "We cannot live in a country where there are no roads, no water or hospitals. We have no service", one of the protesters told the international press.<br />In the message, sent to Fides, the Bishops of Haiti express their solidarity with the suffering of Haitians: families that live in mourning after losing some of their members, those who are hospitalized for serious health problems, those who have lost their properties and those who have had to leave their homes.<br />"We need a change that must lead to a new Haiti, freed from the usual evils that have always struck it and which today reach an intolerable intensity. We cite among other things: unemployment, poverty, insecurity, exclusion, impunity, moral delinquency, manipulation, corruption, repression and violence", reads the text.<br />The description of the situation is very clear and the Bishops comment on it according to the believer's vision: "We know that it is not the will of God. The system desired by God, and that we desire, is that which takes into account the common good, the welfare of all citizens, offering them equal opportunities.This system must also be attentive to the suffering of the most vulnerable, promoting their integral development and putting in place mechanisms that promote an equitable distribution of wealth. Because it is unacceptable that some live in an arrogant and scandalous opulence and that the vast majority languish in shameful misery", the Bishops denounce.<br />Therefore they highlight people's trust, courage and the ability to move forward with determination, despite realities like unemployment, poverty, insecurity, exclusion, impunity and the effects of criminal actions. For the Church this situation must lead to a new Haiti.<br />In conclusion, the Bishops reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation as a historical turning point: "the Son of God became man, God made him the Liberator, the Savior of humanity. Yes, we are at a historical turning point in our evolution, as a people and as a nation, to change our regime and our system".<br />"Let us pray for you all, for the great protagonists of the political scene of the moment, so that the Child God will inspire them and that, thanks to the sense of commitment, we can arrive at a normalization of national life, for a Christmas of joy and peace. A Christmas of this type will also be the beginning of a good and happy new year for all": with these wishes the Bishops conclude their document, signed on November 30, and published for the beginning of Advent.<br />The situation in the country is increasingly tense, universities and schools are still closed. The demonstrations of social and political groups against the authorities of the current government continue one after the other. This time it seems that the whole population speaks against the President's policy. However, President Moise reiterated that he has no plans to resign from the post he has held since 2017. The constitutional period for which he was elected is five years, he recalled .<br />Although the problem of fuel supply has been solved, a cause that triggered the first popular protests, Haitians continue to demonstrate against corruption and lack of services, as well as the cost of living . In this situation not even the NGOs and Catholic bodies, such as religious congregations, Caritas or Catholic Relief Services, manage to carry out their service, indeed, their seats were looted and the violence of some groups of protesters prevented their work . <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 13:14:06 +0100ASIA/ISRAEL - Initiatives to revitalize the Aramaic language and identity continuehttp://fides.org/en/news/67063-ASIA_ISRAEL_Initiatives_to_revitalize_the_Aramaic_language_and_identity_continuehttp://fides.org/en/news/67063-ASIA_ISRAEL_Initiatives_to_revitalize_the_Aramaic_language_and_identity_continueJerusalem - Initiatives and mobilizations supported by Israeli cultural entities that aim at revitalizing the Aramaic language and identity continue. On Sunday 1 December, representatives and scholars from Assyrian and Syriac Christian communities around the world gathered in Jerusalem to take part in a conference organized by the Committee for the revival of the Aramaic language and by the Tikkun Movement, committed to promoting Israeli culture, which has also embraced the cause of the relaunch of Aramaic, an ancient language spoken throughout the Middle East. Juliana Taimoorazy from Chicago and Hermis Shaheen from Sydney also took their testimony to the conference, and led a discussion on the meaning of the Aramaic language for the Jewish and Assyrian people.<br />The ancient Aramaic language also spoken by Jesus is now commonly used only in some villages of Syria, such as Maalula, and by those who study Talmud, which is written in pseudo-Aramaic.<br />The conference was also attended by Amir Halul, representative of what is defined in the Israeli media as "a Christian Aramaic community in Israel", who read several verses of Psalms in their Aramaic translation.<br />In September 2014, the Israeli Ministry of Interior decided to recognize the Aramaean identity as a distinct identity, to be added to the list of national identities present in the Country, and to allow the addition of the "Aramaean" qualification to that of "Christian", to replace the term "Arab" in identity cards of Palestinian Christians who are citizens of Israel. This ministerial provision was indicated by the Council of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land as "an attempt to separate Palestinian Christians from other Palestinians". In a document issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Council of Catholic Bishops the reasons for the measures taken in this direction by the government of Israel were rejected as pretentious and ideological. At the time, the decision was made explicitly to allow 200 Christian families to identify themselves as belonging to the ancient nationality, and thus register as "aramei" rather than as Arabs in identity documents. According to statistics compiled by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and quoted by Yehonatan Valtser on jewishpress.com, there are about 115 thousand Christian Arabs residing in Israel who have the right to substitute their Arab national qualification with Aramaic in their identity documents. <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 13:00:23 +0100ASIA/VIETNAM - Appointment of the Bishop of Phan Thiêthttp://fides.org/en/news/67062-ASIA_VIETNAM_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_Phan_Thiethttp://fides.org/en/news/67062-ASIA_VIETNAM_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_Phan_ThietVatican City - The Holy Father appointed His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, currently tit. of Liberalia and Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh, Hôchiminh Ville, as Bishop of the Diocese of Phan Thiêt . <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 12:44:33 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - Bishops of Kivu suspend ecclesial activities for a day to protest civilian massacreshttp://fides.org/en/news/67060-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Bishops_of_Kivu_suspend_ecclesial_activities_for_a_day_to_protest_civilian_massacreshttp://fides.org/en/news/67060-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Bishops_of_Kivu_suspend_ecclesial_activities_for_a_day_to_protest_civilian_massacresKinshasa - A day of "mourning and prayer" and a strike of all ecclesial and social services, including Catholic schools and universities, was held yesterday, Monday, December 2, as a sign of "communion and solidarity" with the victims of violence in the territories of Beni and Lubero and in the territories of Fizi, Uvira, Mwenga and Kalehe in South Kivu. The day had been proclaimed by the Bishops of the North and South Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the end of their Extraordinary Assembly held from 24 to 30 November in Bukavu, to protest against the violence committed by the various armed groups present in the two provinces and to urge the authorities to guarantee the safety of local populations.<br />"We deplore the persistence of insecurity that causes untold suffering to our people; we express all our compassion for the victims of this inhuman violence; we ask the Christian faithful to carry out concrete actions of solidarity and fraternal communion in non-violence", says a declaration signed by the President of the Provincial Episcopal Assembly of Bukavu, His Exc. Mgr. François-Xavier Maroy Rusengo, Archbishop of Bukavu. "With regard to our Provincial Episcopal Assembly, we have decreed in our six dioceses December 2, 2019, a day of mourning, prayer and communion with our brothers and sisters; our ecclesial and social services will be suspended, excluding medical services, but including schools, seminars, colleges and universities dependent on the Catholic Church in our six dioceses".<br />Yesterday there was a new spontaneous protest demonstration by the population of Beni, the twelfth, where the retaliatory actions of the ADF militants have already caused more than 123 civilian deaths, according to CEPADHO, a local NGO. This time the population of Beni decided to walk barefoot as a form of peaceful protest.<br />According to a report by CEPADHO sent to Fides, the latest massacre dates back to October 29 when at least 13 people were killed with machetes in the village of Kukutama in the Territory of Beni. On the night of October 29, an armed group also assaulted the health center in Mambabeka which is tackling the Ebola epidemic that has been affecting the region for months. <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 12:42:16 +0100ASIA/UZBEKISTAN - Collection of signatures for the construction of a new Catholic churchhttp://fides.org/en/news/67057-ASIA_UZBEKISTAN_Collection_of_signatures_for_the_construction_of_a_new_Catholic_churchhttp://fides.org/en/news/67057-ASIA_UZBEKISTAN_Collection_of_signatures_for_the_construction_of_a_new_Catholic_churchTashkent - The Catholic community of Uzbekistan has launched a collection of signatures to ask the government to register, and therefore authorize, to open a new church. The Franciscan Friar Apostolic of Uzbekistan, Fr. Jerzy Maculewicz, informed that a large number of faithful, from an already authorized religious community is necessary in order to start the paperwork. "In the city of Angren, about 90 km from Tashkent, there is a group of about 25 faithful - says the Administrator - who join us every Sunday in the capital to participate in the holy mass. We try to support them by paying for their journey, but now we would like to have a place, a room or a chapel where we can celebrate Mass in their city too. We hope to succeed soon. Should the government accept the request, we priests would go there every Saturday, in turn, to Angren to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments. We always do everything possible to be close and serve the people who go to our parishes", explains the Franciscan.<br />At the moment, points out Fr. Maculewicz, the faithful are 25, "but I believe that, having a stable base in Angren, other people would attend. The Uzbek Catholic Church is growing, and it is a good moment in general: this government supports and does not impede religions. Even Protestant Christians have registered new communities and have encouraged me to do the same".<br />Meanwhile, in the various Uzbek parishes, the month of November was completely dedicated to prayer for the dead, while the community started the "Advent" period with fervor and devotion: "We prayed for our loved ones throughout the month: every faithful was able to leave a list with the names of the dead and every day we addressed our prayers to God for their souls. Now we are immersed in prayer and preparing for Christmas".<br />The Uzbek Constitution contemplates freedom of religion. By law, all religious groups must register with the Ministry of Justice. In 2018 Parliament approved a provision that simplifies the rules for the registration of religious organizations and the opening of new halls for worship. The government also established a special advisory body, the "Council of Faiths", in charged of relating to the 17 recognized religious groups. With the approval of these new rules, official church registrations are on the rise in Uzbekistan. In 2018, eight years after the last concession, the government authorized a new one run by a presbyterian religious community in Chirchick, near Tashkent. Three new Protestant churches were authorized in September 2019 and five other practices are being finalized. The increase in authorizations granted indicates a climate of greater religious freedom for Christians, according to the political direction given by the government of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, elected in December 2016.<br />Out of 30 million inhabitants, the Uzbek population is 90% Muslim. About 3.5% are of Russian Orthodox Christian faith, while another 3% include small Christian communities of other denominations, including Catholics. In particular, the Catholic presence in Uzbekistan is made up of about 3,000 baptized, distributed in the five local parishes: to the approximately 700 faithful active in Tashkent, there are others present in Samarkand, Bukhara, Urgench and Fergana. <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 12:25:54 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Typhoon Tisoy: Philippine churches open their doors to displaced peoplehttp://fides.org/en/news/67059-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Typhoon_Tisoy_Philippine_churches_open_their_doors_to_displaced_peoplehttp://fides.org/en/news/67059-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Typhoon_Tisoy_Philippine_churches_open_their_doors_to_displaced_peopleManila - Numerous parish churches in various Philippine dioceses have given shelter to the displaced after the arrival of the tropical typhoon "Tisoy" , which hit the Philippines. This was congfirmed to Agenzia Fides by Mgr. Joel Baylon, Bishop of Legazpi, highlighting that churches, Catholic schools, and pastoral rooms "will serve as evacuation centers and are available to internally displaced persons, according to the needs". In addition, the bishop has asked the faithful to "make toilet facilities available in their private homes".<br />"Let us join our government agencies to help protect our parishioners", he said, urging the community to make an effort of solidarity. The Bishop also issued a special prayer to God to ask for salvation from the disaster. In the diocese of Caceres, Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona launched an appeal inviting everyone to join in prayers and make a gesture of charity. "We pray for the safety of children, women and their families. We ask God for protection and consolation, "Christine Go, a Catholic social worker, told Fides.<br />According to the state meteorological office, "Tisoy" has landed in the Bicol region, in particular Sorsogon, Albay or Catanduanes with gusts of wind up to 185 km/h. Several areas are on alert at "level 3" while Manila is already at "level 2". Typhoon Tisoy is the twentieth storm that has hit the Philippines this year. <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 11:52:12 +0100AMERICA/BRAZIL - Local teams, advocacy, networking: the priorities of the Pastoral Care Service for Migrantshttp://fides.org/en/news/67056-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Local_teams_advocacy_networking_the_priorities_of_the_Pastoral_Care_Service_for_Migrantshttp://fides.org/en/news/67056-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Local_teams_advocacy_networking_the_priorities_of_the_Pastoral_Care_Service_for_MigrantsLuziânia - Organizing local teams, in particular involving young people; intensifying “advocacy” actions and presence in public policy councils to safeguard the rights of migrants and refugees; strengthening networking, according to the guidelines of the Church in Brazil and a spirituality embodied in the life of a migrant Jesus. These are the priorities indicated for the next four years by the 19th National Assembly of the Pastoral Care of Migrants , with the theme "Migration and refuge - breaking walls, building bridges", which took place from November 29th to December 1st in Luziânia.<br />According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Mário Antônio da Silva, Bishop of Roraima, second Vice President of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil , attended the meeting and spoke of the Church's commitments towards migration in Brazil, underlining what the new guidelines of the Church's evangelizing action say about migration. This Assembly also marks the beginning of the journey to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the birth of the migrant pastoral sector, whose culminating moment will be in October 2020. <br />Mgr. Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, Archbishop of Belo Horizonte and President of the CNBB, in a video message expressed his support for the SPM and recalled that the Brazilian Church has given testimony of reception to immigrants, especially Venezuelans, even if it is not yet enough. In his message, the President of the CNBB thanked the SPM for its testimony and its service: "This path is important. Our Church is the house of the Word, house of Charity, of the Mission and House of the Bread. This is why we are committed to the good of others, especially those who suffer the most".<br />The meeting was also attended by prof. Márcia Oliveira, of the Federal University of Roraima, who illustrated the topic migration and refugees in Latin America, focusing in particular on the actions of Pope Francis. During the Assembly, the experiences of the SPM in the Brazilian regions were presented, followed by seminars on different aspects of the migration phenomenon, taking into account the biblical studies and pastoral challenges. <br />Tue, 03 Dec 2019 11:39:09 +0100