Fides News English Agency Newsen-usAFRICA/EGYPT – There is no Christian in St. Anthony Abate’s hometown - There is not a single Christian or church in the Egyptian city of Qumans, formerly known by the name of Coma, in the central province of Beni Suef, where in 251 AD Saint Anthony was born, regarded as the founder of Christian monasticism. This was reported by Egyptian sources consulted by Fides Agency. In recent times, the Coptic Orthodox community leaders in the region have taken note that the internal migration flows recorded in the area have also led to the transfer of the last families who lived near the village, in an area where some agricultural funds are still referred to as ancient possessions of the family of origin of the great saint. <br />The intention of enhancing the birthplace of St. Anthony could lead in the future - as suggested by some members of the Coptic Church – to the new construction of a shrine, to be suggested as a place of pilgrimage. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Also displaced Christians and Hindus from North Waziristan: no to discrimination - There are also internally displaced Christians and Hindus from North Waziristan, an area where the Pakistani government has in recent weeks launched an anti-terrorism offensive against Taliban groups. As reported to Fides, 65 Christian families and 15 Hindu families have left the city and the villages of Miranshah in North Waziristan, taking refuge in Christian schools in the city of Bunnu, run by the "Church of Pakistan" . <br />According to government sources, there are about one million displaced, 74% are women and children, and are assisted in governmental buildings. The displaced Christians and Hindus have not been officially registered in the district of Bunnu, they cannot receive the assistance and benefits assured to other refugees. The local Christian communities therefore call on the government to deal with the refugees, who are all Pakistani citizens, "all in the same way", without any discrimination based on religion. <br />An innocent was killed during the offensive against the Taliban. As reported to Fides by the "Asian Human Rights Commission," Anisur Rehman Soomro, a 17-year-old citizen from Sindh, was arrested, illegally detained for eleven days, tortured and killed by the police in Karachi, accused of being a member of a Taliban group. (Agenzia Fides 24/07/2014Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Thousands of children excluded from the vaccination campaign against polio which has resurfaced in the Country - About 765 000 children under 5 years of age live in areas of Syria where it is very difficult to reach because of the ongoing conflict and therefore were excluded from the recent vaccination campaign against polio or received an insufficient amount of doses. Polio has been considered virtually eradicated from the region and there have not been any recorded cases since 1999, this year 36 have been identified in Syria and 2 in neighboring Iraq. Both countries are victims of serious internal conflicts and part of their territories are out of the control of the Government and in the hands of armed movements. Given the high risk of spreading the serious disease, UNICEF and WHO have launched the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the Middle East, vaccinating 25 million children three to six times. In Syria, 2.9 million children have been vaccinated. The outbreak of polio in Syria has been attributed to reasons determined by the civil war, which began in 2011, mainly due to the interruption of the national campaigns of routine and damage to health infrastructures, with at least 60% of hospitals destroyed or damaged. In addition, among other key sources there is also the exodus of medical personnel and the ongoing forced displacement of the population in Syria, who live in deplorable hygienic conditions and many children are without any medical coverage. Before the conflict the vaccination rate in the country was 99% and now it is 52%. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN - Over 700 million girls forced into marriage - All over the world more than 700 million women were forced to marry when they were still children, of these 250 million before the age of 15. This is what was stated by the United Nations Children’s Fund during the celebration of the first Summit on Children, which takes place in London, adding that girls who marry before 18 years of age are more likely to leave school and suffer domestic violence. In addition, younger adolescents are at greater risk of dying due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth than those who are more than 20 years old, and their children are more likely to be born dead or die in the first month of life. According to UNICEF, in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East more than 130 million girls and women have undergone some form of genital mutilation. The goal is to be able to give the necessary support to eradicate the two phenomena which deprive women of their dignity. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Caritas Jerusalem rescues thousands of Muslims, who have taken shelter in schools and churches in Gaza - There are almost 1,300 Palestinians, the vast majority of Muslims, who have taken shelter in the Greek Orthodox church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza in order to escape the bombing of the Israeli army. Other seven hundred have found refuge in the Holy Family Catholic Church. In these days their survival depends mainly on the efforts of rescue and assistance carried out by Caritas Jerusalem which contributes to the emergency represented by more than 130 thousand displaced people who had to leave their homes since the beginning of the Israeli military "Protective Edge" operation. So far, there have been over 700 Palestinians who have died, and healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip are unable to cope with the huge amount of casualties . <br />"Our 18 operators are working tirelessly in that terrible situation, with our mobile medical centers that operate in schools and distribute survival kits to families massed in schools, in collaboration with the United Nations" refers Father Raed Abusahliah, Director of Caritas Jerusalem to Fides Agency. "Since yesterday - adds the Palestinian priest living in Ramallah – for a week we have the responsibility of taking care of the refugees present in the Orthodox Church and the Catholic school. We distribute food and hot meals, milk and basic necessities for the children, fuel for electric generators. Meanwhile, with Caritas Internationalis, we have launched an appeal for projects and long-term initiatives to be started immediately after the cease-fire. Funds will be needed ".<br />Next Saturday and Sunday in all parishes in Jordan, Palestine and Israel the faithful will pray for the return of peace and there will be fundraising on behalf of the people of Gaza. "In this regard - says Fr. Raed - I launch a humble appeal to Pope Francis: may you convene a vigil of prayer and fasting for peace in the Holy Land, as you did for Syria. All the people who inhabit this land, the land of Jesus, are tired of living in fear and pain". Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of the Rector of the interdiocesan "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" Seminary in Sambalpur City - On May 16, 2014 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Francis Pereira, SVD as Rector of the interdiocesan "Khristo Mohavidyaloyo Jyoti" Seminary in the Diocese of Sambalpur . <br />The new Rector was born on March 13, 1956 in Kanthavara and was ordained a priest on May 4, 1985. He holds a degree in theology and a Doctorate in Theological Anthropology. Since his ordination he has served as assistant pastor and pastor in several parishes, and since 2002 he has been part of the "Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo" staff. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of the Rector of the interdiocesan "Morning Star College" Seminary in Calcutta City - On May 30, 2014 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Santhanam J.A., of the diocesan clergy of Bauripur, as Rector of the interdiocesan "Morning Star College" Seminary in the Archdiocese of Calcutta . <br />The new Rector was born on July 24, 1962 and was ordained a priest on 22 April 1990. He graduated in History at Calcutta University, then studied philosophy and theology at the "Morning Star Regional Seminary," and systematic theology at the Pontifical Seminary in Pune, and earned his PhD at the Catholic University in France. In the diocese of Bauripur he served his pastoral roles as a parish priest and in the field of education, secretary of the diocesan commission for education, professor and treasurer at the Morning Star Regional Seminary. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDONESIA - Priorities for new president Joko Widodo: stop intolerance and guarantee religious freedom - Priority for the new president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, and his new government is to address the issue of the growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, which has become a national concern, and that penalizes minorities. The is stated by Churches and NGOs in the aftermath of the announcement of the results of the presidential elections. According to the official count, Widodo obtained 53.15% of the votes, while his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto – who contests the election results - reached 46.85%. Subianto announced a legal recourse for the review of the results. Widodo has launched an appeal to "national reconciliation", calling for the unity of the nation, for the good of the country. <br />Intolerance and religious violence remains a serious problem in the country: as noted by the NGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide" , in recent years there has been an increase of abuses, discrimination and violence on Christians, Ahmadis and Shia Muslims, followers of traditional indigenous beliefs. The NGO has recently published a report titled "Indonesia: Pluralism in danger. The rise of religious intolerance" , which provides a detailed analysis of the increasing violations of freedom of religion or belief, and proposes 25 recommendations to the Indonesian government. <br />Widodo, in his political career, has openly defended the freedom of religion and the Indonesian tradition of religious pluralism. In his presidential election campaign he pledged to protect the Constitution, which provides for freedom of religion. In a note sent to Fides, Mervyn Thomas, Director of CSW calls on the new president "to protect and promote freedom of religion in Indonesia, placing it as a priority for the new government. It is urgent to take measures to curb religious intolerance. We hope that the government is committed to enforcing constitutional guarantees on freedom of religion, for example, by removing the indication of religion on identity cards, revising the discriminatory and unjust laws, enforcing the judgments issued by the courts. We hope that Joko Widodo’s election inaugurates a new era of freedom of religion, peace and stability in Indonesia". Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/BENIN - Children sold for 30 euro as slaves by their parents: a campaign against trafficking Novo - "Poverty and family breakdown are, without a doubt, two of the main causes of child trafficking. To these we must add the lack of education of children and their families, conflicts and political instability in the countries of Africa and Asia in particular, the debts accumulated by the family and the impunity enjoyed by traffickers": This is what we read in the note sent to Fides Agency to present the campaign "I am not for sale", sponsored by the Salesian Missions in Benin to protect children against human trafficking. <br />"The trafficking of children is one of the worst realities with which we are dealing, because it destroys a child’s childhood and his/her hope for the future", continues the statement. Father Juan José Gómez, head of the Don Bosco reception center in Porto Novo offers a dramatic testimony: "We have welcomed children who had been sold for about 30 Euros by their parents ...". To promote this campaign a video has been prepared that shows the dramatic situation in Benin on this issue, a situation that reflects what is happening in Africa but also in other continents. <br />More than one million children worldwide are victims of human trafficking, according to the International Labor Organization. The number, however, increases if you count illegal adoptions, forced marriages and trafficking in organs. 27% of all victims of trafficking are identified as children in the world, according to UN figures. <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The video of the Campaign</a>Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - The Bishop of Brownsville: "In the face of a humanitarian crisis, we need a humanitarian response" - The situation of children and young Central Americans stopped at the U.S. border with Mexico, in Texas, continues to present itself as a state of authentic humanitarian crisis . The Bishop of Brownsville, His Exc. Mgr. Daniel Ernest Flores, visited, together with a group of religious leaders of the Convención de Bautistas del Sur, the different facilities that welcome the children who are stopped. <br />In the note sent to Fides Agency, Mgr. Flores points out that in order to address this humanitarian crisis it is important for religious leaders to see with their eyes, the facilities that accommodate unaccompanied minors, and also see how the government is trying to accomodate this segment of the population, even on a temporary basis. "The leaders of the government must find a way to remedy the situation of these refugees - says the Bishop - especially because we have childern and mothers who are suffering enormously. Each government's response at a federal and state level, should focus on this".<br />Mgr. Flores also reiterated that the Church supports the current law, which provides asylum to these people and allows them to present their cases in court. "The Church will always try to ensure that human rights are respected, especially in the case of the protection of these people", the Bishop stressed, noting that "faced with a humanitarian crisis, humanitarian response is needed". Also immigration agencies of the government and the police should treat all refugees seeking asylum with dignity, justice, compassion, and in full respect of their rights to a fair trial. <br />The note concludes informing that the group of the religious who visited the facilities, sent a letter to the Congress expressing their concern about the current situation of the children and how they are cared for, asking for sufficient resources to enable them to overcome the current situation in a dignified manner. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Iraqi Bishops appeal to the Prime Minister and the government: "stop the catastrophe" - The Iraqi national government must ensure "necessary protection" for Christians and other minorities in the Country, provide "financial support to displaced people who have lost everything", pay the wages of state employees "immediately", compensate those who have suffered material losses and ensure continuity in the provision of housing and social services and education for families who may have to spend a long time away from their homes. This is the urgent appeal that Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and all the Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic and Armenian Bishops in northern Iraq launched at the end of their meeting on Tuesday 22 July held in Ankawa and dedicated to the serious events recorded in the region in recent weeks, starting with the expulsion of Christians and Shiites from the city of Mosul decreed by the militiamen of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate. <br />The appeal, sent to Fides Agency, is addressed primarily to the Prime Minister and the national government, with an implicit admission of their inaction. At the same time, the Iraqi Bishops invite "people of conscience in Iraq and around the world" to put pressure on militants to put a stop to "the destruction of churches and monasteries, manuscripts, relics and all the Christian heritage, priceless Iraqi and international heritage. What was said with regards to an agreement between the militants and the clergy is false", continues the appeal, reiterating that "a crime is a crime, and it cannot be denied or justified. We expect concrete actions to assure our people, not just press releases of denunciation and condemnation".<br />In this respect, the Bishops express an eloquent appreciation for the role played by the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, appreciating its readiness to "accommodate the displaced families, to embrace them and to help them. We - add the Leaders of Churches in northern Iraq - propose the creation of a joint committee between the regional government and the representatives of our people in order to fulfill the suffering of refugee families and improve their conditions. "The appeal ends with a supplication to the Almighty God so that catastrophe is stopped and "security, peace and stability is re-established throughout Iraq". Agenzia Fides 23/07/2014)Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA – Prison Ministry: the Church denounces overcrowding and is inspired by Fr. Kolbe Delhi - The Church in India is strengthening its commitment in the prison Ministry. On the one hand, denouncing overcrowding, a long-standing problem in Indian jails. On the other hand choosing an inspirational figure such as St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Conventual Friar Minor killed in a Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. Pope John Paul II canonized Fr. Kolbe as a "martyr of charity", proclaiming him "the patron saint" of prisoners. <br />Overcrowding in prisons in India gets worse and worse: according to the latest data available, at the end of 2012 the total number of prisoners in the country was over 385 thousand, out of a total capacity of about 340 thousand people. Some prisons are home to double the number of detainees. To reduce overcrowding, the Indian government launched a plan for the modernization and expansion of prisons in the last decade, building 125 new prisons, 1,579 additional barracks and 8,658 accommodation for prison staff. <br />But, for the Church, the solution is not to build new premises: as stated in a note sent to Fides, the right way is the prevention of crime, public education to legality and ethics. The figure of Fr. Kolbe, finally, may be a reference and a concrete experience to proclaim the Good News to those who live the pain of imprisonment. <br />The association of the apostolate "Prison Ministry India" is "close" to the detainees. The association started 28 years ago in Kerala, approved by the Bishops' Conference of India as one of its activities, and today falls under the aegis of the "Justice and Peace" Commission. The members of the PMI visit the prisons and dialogue and prayer meetings are held with prisoners, they also manage rehabilitation centers for ex-detainees. The approach is to visit prisons, encouraging inmates to regain peace of heart, establishing contacts with the detainees’ families and providing opportunities for rehabilitation after their release. This work is also carried out together with the "Missionaries of Charity" which have opened a home called "Shanti Dhan" for men and women who have been in prison. <br />Today, the PMI has 850 bases on the Indian territory, 30 rehabilitation centers and 6,000 volunteers across India. It continously organizes education programs in parishes, universities, schools and other institutes. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HONDURAS - The Bishop of Choluteca: 5000 people are forced to put their lives at risk in mines every day - After the death of 8 of the 11 miners, who were buried in the collapse of the Cuculmeca mine in San Juan Arriba, in the municipality of El Corpus, Choluteca , on July 2, the Bishop of Choluteca, His Exc. Mgr. Guy Charbonneau, has denounced the situation of poverty in which most of the people in this area of the country live, forced to risk their lives to survive. <br />"For the Church, the main causes of the tragedy concerning miners is scandalous poverty and marginalization in which these people live", said the Bishop during a meeting with reporters in which he presented his statement on the matter. According to information sent to Fides Agency, the Bishop pointed out that only in the municipality of El Corpus, about 5,000 people have jobs linked to the mines, from which they draw sustenance for their families. "We are talking about small-scale artisanal miners – he said – who because of hunger are forced, to climb down the bowels of the earth everyday in search of their daily bread, without modern equipment to protect their health and their lives". <br />Mgr. Charbonneau said that "this work is carried out in semi-slavery conditions, and it is a profound affront to the human dignity of men, women and children". The Bishop expressed the pain of the diocese for the death of eight people and added: "We are powerless in the face of the suffering of our people. And we publicly express our solidarity with the people engaged in the mining sector, as well as with the miners’ families and of those eight men who died".<br />Mgr. Guy Charbonneau after complaining once again about "the situation of the people in the region of El Corpus, due to the deplorable neglect and indifference of the local and central authorities, without seeking just, sustainable, legal, social and environmental solutions", asked the National Congress to change the new law on artisanal mines, in order to ensure workers protection and safety. <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The Bishop of Choluteca’s Statement, in Spanish:</a>Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - A special school to restore dignity and social role for the disabled - Being disabled in India is difficult. In 2000, in Thrissur, Kerala, the Sisters of the Congregation of the Samaritan Sisters founded the "Snehadeepthi" special school. Their "special" children receive support and psychophysical support for education. Several activities that involve the use of machinery have been introduced with the help of the state government: among other things palm plates, paper cups, paper bags are made, with the aim of promoting the further integration of children in society. <br />Snehadeepthi provides education and professional education to 140 children and adolescents with mental disabilities. Many of them belong to poor families and have less access to jobs compared to the rest of the population. <br />The chances that these children go to school is 4 to 5 times lower than that of others. Since 2000, the school has become a point of reference. The Sisters are planning to build another pavilion near the future Generalate of the Congregation to welcome new members, as well as receiving financial support from the government for 100 children. To do this, a service of physiotherapy, speech therapy, adjusting the spaces and ensure at least 1 teacher for every 8 children will have to be activated. This year, 18 children passed the state school examinations; 3 participated in the Special Olympics in Asia and the Pacific held in Australia and won 3 medals. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - The jihadists of the "Caliphate" attack Tilkif, rejected by Kurdish Peshmerga - Yesterday evening, Tuesday 22 July, the militia of the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate responsible for the expulsion of Christians and Shiites from the city of Mosul launched a mortar attack against the village of Tilkif in an attempt to break into one of the towns in the Nineveh Plain, where families found refuge. "The attack started from a village controlled by jihadists – says Chaldean priest Paul Thabit Mekko to Fides Agency - but was rejected by the Kurdish Peshmerga troops. In the night panic had driven dozens of Christian families to flee to Dohuk, but the Kurdish soldiers who were controlling a checkpoint told them that the situation was under control and could return home".<br />The episode highlights the uncertainty that hangs over the whole area: on the one hand, the attack represents the proof that the militia of the Islamic Caliphate are not content with controlling Mosul and would like to extend control over the Nineveh Plain. "But the reaction of the Peshmerga - notes Fr. Thabit Mekko - confirms that the Kurds are determined to protect this area from jihadist militants. Here, now, there are only Kurdish military forces that ensure the safety of the population". Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/COSTA RICA - The chicungunya virus continues to alarm Latin American Countries José - After Haiti and El Salvador , the chikungunya virus arrives in Costa Rica. The Ministry of Health of Costa Rica has just released news regarding six cases of chikungunya reported in the Country, but all imported. The six confirmed patients infected, Costa Ricans had visited the Dominican Republic, and developed the disease in Costa Rica without any additional medical complications or need for hospitalization. According to officials of the Ministry, the virus is still circulating in the Country and it is necessary to carry out preventive campaigns. The virus has reached the French area of San Martín and has since then it has spread to many Countries of the Caribbean. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Mission to relieve: a challenge for evangelization; the Missionary Campaign 2014 begins – The Missionary Campaign 2014 in Brazil has begun in view of World Mission Day, which will be held on 18 and 19 October. The aim of “Mission to relieve” is to bring awareness of the existence of slavery and human trafficking in its various forms. <br />"The victims of this crime is one of the worst forms of modern slavery", says the note sent to Fides Agency by the Pontifical Mission Societies in Brazil. <br />The material for animation has already been sent to all dioceses and prelacies of Brazil, and is also available on the website of the PMS. One can download articles of reflection, posters, the libretto for the novena, testimonial videos, the Pope's Message for World Mission Day, the missionary prayer, prayers of the faithful, brochures and other subsidies. <br />The missionary campaign, which will be intensified in October, is organized by the PMS in Brazil, in collaboration with the Episcopal Conference , through the Committee for Missionary Action and Inter-ecclesial Cooperation, the Commission for the Amazon and other organizations that form the National Missionary Council . <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Material for the Missionary Campaign</a>Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200EUROPE/GERMANY AACHEN - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies City - On May 2, 2014 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed rev. Mgr. Klaus Kramer, of the clergy of the diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Aachen Germany for another five-year period . Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Too much time wasted in front of a computer or on cell phones, too little to read the Bible - Among the various initiatives related to the spread of the Bible and the promotion of knowledge in mainland China, we report what is called "transmission of the Holy Scriptures in the family", which is promoted by 4 mission stations in the southern suburbs of Beijing. It began on July 1 and ends on June 30, 2015, to celebrate 5 years of their foundation. According to the priest organizer, "people today waste too much of their time with computers and cell phones, few people think about reading the Word of God, especially the young. So we want to encourage and help families to get into the habit of reading the Bible together, to apply God's Word to life, becoming authentic Christians".<br />To implement the initiative, the priest brings a Bible and a blessed candle to a family that becomes available. The family prepares a small altar in the center of their own home where the Bible is placed and lights the candle, remembering that the Word of God enlightens and guides the lives of the faithful. During the week, all members of the family commit themselves to reading and sharing the Word of God together, according to the indications given by the priest. At the end of the week, the priest brings the Bible to another family and so on. <br />Among other biblical initiatives, one hundred copies of the Bible were distributed on July 18 by the pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Beijing, accompanied by a group of parishioners, university students who participated in the summer camp. The parish is concluding the celebrations for the centenary of the reconstruction . Even the Diocese of Cang Zhou in He Bei province, is committed to promoting the reading of the Word of God in parishes and ecclesial base communities. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Works begin on a new center for disabled children in the village of Kandisi - In the small village of Kandisi, 25 km from the capital Nairobi, at the Opera Don Orione mission in Kenya, works have begun regarding the construction of the physiotherapy and rehabilitation Center for children with disabilities. According to information sent to Fides Agency, there is already a center of horticulture where boys and girls with disabilities socialize, learn how to develop their skills in a human and religious context that promotes their dignity. <br />The Centre under construction will complement and expand this type of activity, so as to ensure that these people receive assistance and help. <br />The realization of these works is made possible thanks to the contribution of some benefactors who support the efforts of the Don Orione Fathers, who in this part of Kenya take care of a parish that welcomes many villagers of ethnic Masai. In Kenya, the Church runs 2,805 health care facilities, of which 86 centers for the elderly, disabled and handicapped. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0200