Fides News English Agency Newsen-usASIA/IRAQ - The Chaldean Church participates in the mourning for the death of Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV - The Chaldean Church, as a sign of solidarity and closeness with the Assyrian Church of the East, took part in the mourning for the death of Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV. For this reason, it gave orders to suspend the traditional convivial meetings for the exchange of Easter greetings in which the Patriarch, the Bishops and parish priests, receive a visit from political and institutional representatives and religious communities. This was reported by sources of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, consulted by Agenzia Fides. In the liturgies of Holy Week the Chaldean communities will also pray for the soul of the Assyrian Patriarch and for the choice of a successor animated by genuine pastoral zeal.<br />In September 2013, Chaldean Patriarch Raphael Louis I had addressed to Patriarch Mar Dinkha an official invitation to start a path of dialogue together in order to restore full ecclesial communion between the Chaldean Christian community – in unity with the Bishop of Rome - and also with the Assyrian. "I take this opportunity," wrote the then Chaldean Patriarch to the Assyrian Patriarch "to express the desire of the Chaldean Church regarding the path of dialogue for unity, which is Jesus' desire. The start of this dialogue is today urgent in the face of great challenges that threaten our survival. Without unity, there is no future for us". In early October 2013, Patriarch Mar Dinkha had responded positively to the Chaldean Patriarch, suggesting the creation of a "Joint Committee" as a tool to deal with emergencies shared by the two sister Churches, which share the same liturgical, theological and spiritual heritage. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/TUNISIA - "Tunisians are proud of the demonstration against terrorism" - "Yesterday's demonstration joined the Tunisians in making common front against terrorism", said Fr. Jawad Alamat, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Tunisia, where yesterday, Sunday, March 29, more than 70,000 people, including dozens of political leaders from all over the world, took part in a march against terrorism. The event was held in Tunis, 11 days after the attack on the Bardo Museum which caused more than 20 deaths, most of them foreign tourists .<br />"Even those who did not participate physically in the march still felt involved - highlights Fr. Jawad -. On Sunday I was in Sousse, 150 km from the capital, and I tried to understand the reactions of the local population. I must say that the Tunisians are proud of the fact that their country organized a courageous demonstration against terrorism".<br />"The people I spoke with expressed the hope that this becomes a daily march, a daily commitment of all to deal with this danger", concluded the National Director of the PMS. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Little Sisters of The Poor gather for last Mass in Cleveland Heights – Palm Sunday was the last time that the Little Sisters of the Poor gathered for Mass at their longtime home in suburban Cleveland, in the state of Ohio. The Catholic nuns are leaving because they no longer have enough nuns to operate their Warrensville Heights facility where they have provided care for the poor and elderly since the 1960s. The facility was sold to a private company that provides care for the elderly. Sister Robert Francis Marie tells WOIO-TV in Cleveland that she thinks it is the right decision even though it is hard to leave residents who they have cared for over the years. The nuns will still work in other houses of their institution in Ohio, near Toledo and Cincinnati. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/CHILE - Floods and landslides: 12 dead and thousands displaced, Caritas at work - A group of experts of Caritas and the diocese, led by Mgr. Celestino Aós Braco, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Copiapó, reached the areas affected by landslides and flooding to verify the situation of the community and support them in these difficult times.<br />According to data collected by Fides, after heavy rains, flooding and landslides in the area, 12 are dead and a dozen are missing and the Interior Ministry also informs that there are at least 748 homeless and more than 5000 people who have had to leave their home for landslides.<br />According to the note sent to Fides by a local source, improvised city tents were set up in various camps in the town of El Salado or in safer areas, to welcome in particular children and the elderly.<br />Mgr. Aós, after the visit to different groups of homeless, denounced looting and price gouging by some traders. In this regard he said: "I cannot understand how there can be people, in the midst of these tragedies, that want to take advantage of the situation, this is a despicable behavior. As a society we have to be united and be honest, without depriving the most vulnerable of material goods, because in doing so we take away their hope, which is much worse".<br />It seems that the most affected areas are those of Antofagasta and Atacama, where in many towns in the area there is no drinking water and light. The Holy Father, through the Secretariat of State, expressed his closeness to these people. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Minors remain a forgotten Sector of the population - In Bolivia there are over 4 million children and adolescents that represent 44% of the population. Unfortunately for many reasons a child continues to be a very vulnerable sector of society, due to the lack of policies that guarantee their rights, inadequate or non-existent health facilities, school education. In Cochabamba, for example, the only pediatric hospital that exists is very precarious and can barely carry out 180 visits a day and provide assistance to 350 emergency cases throughout the week. There are otolaryngologist, ophthalmologist, orthodontics, psychology, cardiology and psychiatry services.<br />According to local health authorities, children are born prematurely because many women do not get prenatal care. What aggravates the already precarious situation is home births and early pregnancies. In Bolivia, in fact, 18% of adolescents between 15 and 18 of age are mothers. As for education, the teaching Departmental Directorate stated that changes are being implemented in programs. It turns out that in 2014, 54 572 children were registered for the first time and only 802 students dropped out of school. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - "Boko Haram failed to prevent the holding of elections", says the Bishop of Maiduguri - "The elections were held in a calm manner in Maiduguri, without violence or crisis caused by Boko Haram" says His Exc. Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, one of the areas in northern Nigeria most affected by the violence of Boko Haram, the Islamist sect born in this very city, describing the climate with which the presidential and parliamentary elections were held on March 28.<br />"Despite the attacks by Boko Haram in different locations, mostly rural, in northern Nigera, which unfortunately caused several victims, the Islamist sect failed to prevent the holding of elections in most of Nigeria", said the Bishop.<br />As reported by the Nigerian press, dozens of people were killed in attacks carried out by the Islamist sect while the Nigerian army continued to hit Boko Haram also with air strikes.<br />"The only serious problem were that card readers failed to recognize the fingerprints of voters, which forced them to return several times to the polls to vote", said Mgr. Doeme. A problem that was found a bit all over the country, to the point that in some areas the vote was extended to Sunday, March 29 to allow voters to vote.<br />Despite these problems Mgr. Doeme concludes on a note of optimism: "We can be satisfied, because elections were not affected by the violence of Boko Haram. This is already a good result". Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - 20 victims of the attacks on the churches in Youhanabad - There are 20 victims of the attacks on the churches in Youhanabad which occurred on March 15: Yesterday, the Christian community celebrated the funeral of another of the wounded, Shamim Bhatti. Meanwhile, there is great disappointment regarding the news that Sohail Johnson and his brother Yousaf, committed in the Ong "Sharing Life Minister Pakistan", are accused of being the perpetrators of the lynching of two Muslims following the attacks. The Pakistani NGO is partner with international groups such as "Open Doors" or "Barnabas Funds". The police has issued arrest warrants thanks to the help of footage shot in those tragic moments from eyewitnesses.<br />"Because of this barbaric and illegal act, today the NGOs that deal with Pakistani Christians are suffering", says to Fides Christian lawyer Sarda Mushtaq Gill. "The work of NGOs and human rights defenders is constitutively non-violent and peaceful: we promote peace, love, truth and patience", says Gill, who works in the Ong LEAD .<br />According to official sources of the police, the Christians arrested as suspected of lynching are 106. With the ongoing investigations, slowly some are being released. In a note sent to Fides, Ataurehman Saman, coordinator of the publications of the National Commission "Justice and Peace" of Pakistani Bishops , says: "The nation has paid a tribute of 60 thousand lives to terrorism and extremism. In the world Pakistan is considered a den of terrorists. The only way to salvation is to ensure safety to innocent people and put an end to a policy of denial or cover the wrongdoings of the country". Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Submitted a bill to facilitate the immigration of Middle Eastern persecuted Christians - Two members of the US Congress elected in California have introduced a bill aimed at encouraging immigration to the United States of members belonging to religious minorities threatened with violence by the jihadists of the Islamic State, in Syria and Iraq. As US sources inform, the bill aims primarily to facilitate the immigration of Christian Syrians and Iraqis to the US, who have fled their homes for the offensive of the jihadists and wish to join the already large communities of the Chaldean, Syrian and Assyrian diaspora present on US territory.<br />Duncan Hunter and Juan Vargas are sponsoring the bill. The initiative, presented last week, has bipartisan support, the Democrat John Conyers, who presented the text of the bill said that it aims to address "the urgent need for America to provide a safe haven for the persecuted people".<br />The most numerous immigrant Middle Eastern Christian communities in the United States are located in the east of Detroit and in the County of San Diego .<br />While the US immigration policies continue to be the focus of heated debates, the bill would give priority to the Iraqis and Syrians who belong to a persecuted religious community and want to move to the US making use of the admission Program for refugees. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Joy in the suffering: Sincelejo welcomes the new Bishop remembering the pastor killed - The Apostolic Nuncio in Colombia, Archbishop Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, asked the diocesan community of Sincelejo to pray for Fr. Fernando Meza Luna, brutally murdered by robbers on March 21 and also for his killers. Mgr. Balestrero also claimed to have no fear of the truth, or to have a desire for revenge, and he said this during the celebration of the inauguration of the new Bishop of the Diocese of Sincelejo, His Exc. Mgr. José Crispiano Clavijo Méndez. Mgr. Clavijo Méndez was appointed Bishop of Sincelejo on February 19, 2015.<br />The Apostolic Nuncio said that the arrival of the new Pastor of Sincelejo is a moment of joy in the suffering for the community due to the murder of Father Fernando and asked the authorities to go all the way to find the truth. He concluded his homily: "peace is a challenge and a necessity for everyone, but especially in the regions where we suffer more". Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Makurdi and appointment of successor City - On 28 March 2015 the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Makurdi , by His Exc. Mgr. Athanasius Atule Usuh, in accordance with can. 401 § 2 of the Code of Canon Law.<br />He is succeeded by His Exc. Mons. Wilfred Chikpa Anagbe, C.M.F., Coadjutor of the same diocese. Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Resignation of the Bishop of Nagoya and appointment of Successor City - On 29 March 2015, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Nagoya, Japan, by His Exc. Mgr. Augustinus Jun-ichi Nomura, according to Canon 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father appointed His Exc. Mgr. Michael Gorō Matsuura, titular Bishop of Sfasferia and Auxiliary of Osaka as Bishop of Nagoya . Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200VATICAN - The Pope: "We think of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time" City - Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday - Palm Sunday dedicated to the persecuted Christians. Recalling Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, "we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation" he said: "We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time - there are many - they refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. We can speak of a 'cloud of witnesses': the martyrs of our own time". Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - The denunciation of Bishops after the visit in Texas: "Why imprison the most vulnerable?" and Recife - "After this visit, my main question is: why? Why imprison these vulnerable people, young and traumatized mothers who, with their children fled from persecution in their own countries?". This is what Mgr. Garcia-Siller, Bishop of San Antonio said after March 27 when a group of Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders visited the Dilley detention center, in Texas .<br />"A great nation like ours does not need to imprison the most vulnerable as a form of deterrence. The moral character of a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. Our policy of detention of families is shameful and I pray institutions to put an end to this practice", he added.<br />Mgr. Elizondo, President of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Bishops , said after the visit: "The detention of families does not make sense. It is particularly harmful to children, who suffer emotional and psychological damage after being arrested".<br />According to Mgr. James Tamayo, Bishop of Laredo, in Texas, there are alternatives to detention: humanitarian actions that can be used in favor of the people involved.<br />Since last summer, the Department of Homeland Security has arrested hundreds of families, leading them to detention centers in New Mexico, Texas and Pennsylvania, as a result of the new policy of detention aimed at those fleeing from Central America and illegally cross the border with the United States. Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/EGYPT - The Coptic Church supports the government in the fight against illiteracy - The Department of the Coptic Orthodox Church in charge of services and social activities, signed the protocol of the national project on Friday, March 27 to combat illiteracy prepared by the Egyptian government: this is what Egyptian sources consulted by Agenzia Fides report. The protocol was signed at the patriarchal residence, in the presence of Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II and Bishop Ioannis, responsible for social welfare initiatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church. At the signing, political representatives and academics particularly involved in educational programs were also present. Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian leaders: a Commission of inquiry regarding the massacre in Youhanabad - Political and religious leaders are asking the government in Punjab to set up a special Commission of inquiry regarding the massacre in Youhanabad, which deals with both the terrorist attack on March 15, and the two Christian churches , and to identify those responsible for the lynching following the massacre, when a crowd of Christians killed two suspected terrorists.<br />As Fides learns, a group of Christian leaders remarked the negligence in preventing terrorist violence and riots which followed. Anger and frustration grew because of impunity that exists in a number of cases of violence against Christians, they noted. In recent days, the police arrested more than 150 suspects in the lynching, many of whom "falsely accused".<br />Christian leaders have criticized the Prime Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for not having visited the Christian families after the attack. In the following days, many Christian residents had fled their homes in Youhanabad for fear of reprisals, instigated by the nearby mosques in revenge for the lynching. "The government should take care of Christians and religious minorities", they said.<br />"People are gradually returning to Youhanabad", says to Fides Joseph Nadeem, a Christian living in the suburb, head of the "Renaissance Education Foundation", which deals with the education of poor families. "Police are releasing many of those arrested. The situation is now calm. We hope to live a peaceful Easter". Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Humanitarian crisis in Mindanao; a law has been submitted in the Philippine congress on the Muslim region - Humanitarian crisis looms as thousands flee Mindanao conflict, in southern Philippines. Therefore a ceasefire is what a forum of non-governmental organizations and local associations call for, in a note sent Fides, reporting how the Philippine army offensive in the province of Maguindanao and Cotabato continues against militants of the "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" . The warning comes after a year since the peace agreement was signed by the government with the "Moro Islamic Liberation Front", on March 27, 2014, and a proposed law has also been submitted in the Philippine congress. The army offensive is the response to the massacre of 25 January in Mamasapano, where 44 policemen were killed.<br />In about a month of intense fighting, 139 militants of the BIFF have been killed. But there are serious consequences for civilians: there are more than 125,000 displaced people, many of them without any humanitarian assistance, while 63 schools have directly been affected.<br />With regards to the political landscape, public opinion is currently divided. According to President Benigno Aquino, "the country is at a crossroads". The Basic Law establishing the new Muslim autonomous region "is the result of seventeen years of intense negotiations" and "the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for peace would be useless if Congress does not approve". Cardinal Orlando Quevedo also recently published an open letter to the senators and members of the House of Representatives to encourage them to vote "yes" to the text of the law, defined as "the most significant hope to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao". Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch to the UN: the "Arab Spring" impacted negatively on Christians York - The so-called "Arab Spring" impacted negatively on the condition of the Christian communities in the Middle East, causing a mass exodus similar to those caused 100 years ago by the massacres of Christians, which began in 1915 in the Ottoman territory. This is one of the strongest and painful considerations in the speech that the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Louis Raphael I delivered yesterday in New York, during the session devoted to the plight of Christians in the Middle East that was held yesterday at the UN Security Council. " Frankly", said the Primate of the Chaldean Church, "the so-called Arab Spring impacted negatively on us ". While if we had the opportunity of working in harmony with the mosaic of religions and ethnic groups in our region, there would have been a driving force in the region towards peace, stability and progress".<br />With regards to his country, Patriarch Louis Raphael calls for "supporting the Central Government and the Regional Government of Kurdistan towards the liberation of all Iraqi cities and for us Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks especially the city of Mosul as well as the towns in the Nineveh plain and villages". According to the Primate of the Chaldean Church "it is necessary to provide an International Protection for his inhabitants, who were forced to be displaced from their homes" and "promulgate a Real Estate and Property Law that ensures their rights in their lands, and enable them to return home and resume their lives in a normal way". Regarding the jihadist phenomenon, the Patriarch repeated firmly that "these terroristic acts are not to be generalized to all Muslims", because the majority of Muslims "reject such politicization of the religion; they are accepting to live a common life with others within the civil state and according to the law". Moreover, according to His Beatitude Raphael Louis I; "Peace and stability cannot be achieved solely by military actions; as they are unable to dismantle this clustered way of thinking that destroys human beings". Among the concrete measures to be taken to stem the conflicts affecting the Middle East, the Patriarch also called for the adoption of international laws that criminalize "all states and individuals who support terrorist groups financially or intellectually or with arms, and consider their acts as a crime towards social peace" Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - Caritas: "There is hope of allowing refugees to return to their homes, but destruction is enormous" - "It was a joy to see the happiness with which refugees welcomed their Bishops who came to visit them", says Fr. Evaristus Bassey, Executive Director of Caritas Nigeria, who is in Rome for the meeting organized by Caritas Internationalis on the tragedy of a million refugees and displaced persons caused by the violence of Boko Haram . Fr. Evaristus was part of the delegation of Nigerian Bishops who in early March visited the 40,000 refugees welcomed in the camp of Maroua and other parts in the north of Cameroon .<br />"We were greeted with joy - says the priest -. The same scenes of joy we saw when we visited IDPs welcomed in Yola, Abuja and other parts of Nigeria". "Many of the refugees and displaced persons are housed in Church structures - emphasizes Fr. Evaristus -. For example, the Cathedral of Santa Teresa in Yola is home to about 270 people, in the Bishop’s house, in the oratory and in the school. In other areas the displaced are hosted in churches and families who have opened their homes, despite the strong economic burden that this entails".<br />"Boko Haram is a sect which fights anyone, including Muslims, who does not adhere to its ideology", explains the priest, noting that "among the refugees, about 20 percent are Muslims, more than 40 percent Christians and the rest belongs to the African traditional religion". "To avoid tension, and above all for fear of the presence of Boko Haram infiltrators, the leaders of the camps do not allow to hold religious initiatives within these structures".<br />The head of Caritas Nigeria reports of "having collected shocking testimonies regarding the violence of Boko Haram, like that of a woman who witnessed the brutal killing of her husband, or those who saw their brother beheaded or people forced to walk several miles to find refuge in Cameroon. Then there is the plight of children separated from their parents during the chaotic escapes. We have collected testimonies of forced recruitment in the ranks of Boko Haram, sometimes using drugs to weaken the will of the young Christians to recruit. Many of these, however, then try to escape".<br />"Now that the Nigerian army is liberating the areas occupied by Boko Haram there is hope of allowing the displaced persons to return to their homes, but it will take time because destruction is enormous" said Fr. Evaristus. Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni returns to Iraq to express the closeness and affection of the Pope to displaced families City - "Pope Francis has expressed his concern for Christian families and other victims of violence who have been expelled from their homes and villages in Iraq, in particular those from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, many of whom have found refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Holy Father is praying for the victims and hopes that they will soon be able to return to their former lives in their homeland where for centuries they have lived in good relations with their neighbours", So says a statement issued today by the Holy See press office.<br />The text continues: "In this coming Holy Week these families particularly share in the injustice and sufferings of Christ, and as a sign of unity, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will return to Iraq to be with the expelled families and to pray with them during this time of suffering. The Diocese of Rome will be taking up a special collection in parishes, and in a sign of solidarity, will be sending traditional Italian cakes to the persecuted families of Iraq so that they may be able to share in the joy of Easter".<br />The statement ends by saying that: "The Holy Father would also like to express his closeness to suffering families in northern Nigeria. The Holy Father has also asked the local Episcopal Conference to join with him in extending a similar sign of solidarity with those families".<br />Already last August, following the serious situation in Iraq, the Holy Father appointed Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, His Personal Envoy in the Asian country "to express his spiritual closeness to the populations that suffer and bring them the solidarity of the Church ". Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - On the eve of the vote 90% of the areas freed from Boko Haram; "Why was it not done before?" - Nigeria to vote tomorrow, March 28, to elect the new President. "The Nigerian press has already made predictions that the main opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, will get two-thirds of the vote", says Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Social Communications of the Archdiocese of Abuja.<br />The presidential and parliamentary elections which were to be held on February 14 were postponed for six weeks to allow the multinational military force responsible for combating Boko Haram, to reconquer areas controlled by the Islamist sect and to strengthen security in the northeast of Nigeria . As reported to Agenzia Fides by Mgr. Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, one of the areas in northern Nigeria most affected by the violence of Boko Haram, elections can be held in Maiduguri now .<br />However, there remains uncertainty in some areas in the north. "In those areas it is hard to imagine that regular elections will be held, given the large number of internally displaced persons", said Fr. Patrick. "According to some estimates, 80-90 percent of the occupied areas by Boko Haram have been freed in recent weeks by the army of Nigeria, with the help of Chad and Niger. One can see how the military offensive prepared itself in recent months thanks to the supply of weapons from South Africa, after Western countries, particularly the United States, refused to sell arms to Nigeria", continued the priest.<br />"In Nigeria, however, one wonders why, if our military had the ability to hunt Boko Haram, this was not done before, why now, on the eve of elections?" concludes Fr. Patrick. Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:00:00 +0100