Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Rector of the "All Saints" Interdiocesan Seminary in Ekpoma City - On 15 February 2018 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed the rev. Fr. Matthew Ovabor Ihensekhien, of the diocesan clergy of Uromi, as Rector of the "All Saints" Interdiocesan Seminary in Ekpoma. <br />Thu, 21 Jun 2018 09:29:43 +0200AMERICA/NICARAGUA - National dialogue, once again halted, Mgr. Báez: "One cannot continue to kill" - "This government must demonstrate political will. It is not a game, it is serious thing for the future of Nicaragua. One cannot continue to kill people", said Mgr. Silvio Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, announcing that yesterday, Tuesday, June 19, the National Dialogue table would not begin as planned. The new suspension will last until Ortega’s government presents to all the members of the Dialogue, the proof of having officially invited international human rights bodies, as agreed in the last session .<br />"The plenary of the National Dialogue is suspended, if these organizations do not show the invitation that the government has sent them", Mgr. Báez wrote to Fides, who is part of the Mediation Commission of the Catholic Church that participates in this dialogue between the Civic Alliance and executive.<br />Yesterday, at least five people died and more than seventy were injured due to the clashes with which riot police and paramilitaries, who had recently attacked the neighboring municipality of Ticuantepe, took the city of Masaya, east of the capital of Nicaragua.<br />Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, after being informed of the situation directly by the parish priests of Masaya, he asked the government and the police to stop the attacks against the people. Through social media Mgr. Báez insisted that the regime of President Daniel Ortega must stop the repression in Masaya. <br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 12:45:28 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Meeting between Kiir and Machar in Addis Ababa: hopes to put an end to the civil war? - The two protagonists of one of the most dramatic and forgotten civil wars in the world, that of South Sudan, will meet in Addis Ababa today, 20 June. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar will meet in the capital of Ethiopia to try to find an agreement to end the civil conflict that exploded in December 2013, which has caused at least two million refugees in neighboring Countries, Uganda in particular, and more than four million internally displaced. The meeting, which takes place on the day when World Refugee Day is celebrated, is the first after a previous agreement to end the hostilities in July 2016 failed, giving rise to a new cycle of fighting.<br />South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011. But after more than four years of civil war, the government of Juba is bankrupt and hyperinflation - which reached 500 percent in 2016, declining to 155 percent in 2017 - has pushed prices up. The South Sudanese pound has collapsed. Oil production - from which South Sudan receives 98% of its revenues - has fallen to about 120,000 barrels a day from a peak of 350,000, according to the World Bank.<br />Juba, which has inherited three quarters of the former oil reserves of Sudan, depends on the oil infrastructure of the northern neighbor - refineries and pipelines - for its exports. The conflict has also severely halted agricultural production, which in turn has caused a serious food crisis. In 2017, South Sudan went through four months of famine, which affected about 100,000 people. This year, according to the UN, seven million South Sudanese, more than half of the population, will need food aid. <br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 12:31:14 +0200AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBBIC - The militias are raging: NGOs and UN troops are also attacked - The situation in Bambari is dramatic. The population is at the mercy of the militias. There is no water, food or medicine. Children can not attend schools. This is how the Jesuit Refugee Service team depict the situation in the second city of the Central African Republic, north of Bangui, for months a center of clashes. "In Bambari - explains Aurora Mele, a JRS operator - there is a mix of fighters. The Anti Balakas are located on the left bank of the river, the former Seleka on the right. The two groups then generate criminal gangs that exploit the chaos to get rich by looting". When the factions clash, the population is forced to flee and seek refuge, this causes human losses, stress and houses are left empty . For humanitarian operators, it is very complicated to carry out programs that have a certain continuity, also because they themselves and their structures are subject to exactions, looting, threats.<br />At least one third of the NGOs present have left the city. Others have reduced staff to a minimum. Most international NGOs have gathered in one place to better organize their security. <br />"JRS - notes Jean François Alain Ospital, JRS director in the nation - was heavily attacked and looted in the early days of the conflict. Our base has been looted completely and we no longer have the material opportunity to send staff to the site, partly because of the continuous situation of insecurity. We therefore had to reorganize the activities".<br />Even the Catholic Church works among many difficulties. "A good part of the religious have remained there, but continued to receive threats" continues Jean François Alain Ospital. "A community of nuns has remained and continues to run a school. The leaders of the diocese have remained and continue the activities at the Michel Maitre school. The diocesan Caritas continues the humanitarian actions , water services, hygiene and latrines . Ecac continues the educational activities. During moments of crisis, the Bishop remained in Barbari".<br />Faced with these tensions the UN blue helmets have regained some neighborhoods. A part of the city of Bambari has been freed, but the UN patrols are often attacked by armed groups. <br /><br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 12:17:55 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - An "Economic Council" for the financial management of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa ofm, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, has established an Economic Council as an advisory body in charge of assisting the Patriarchate in the management of financial, economic and administrative matters. The Council, which will be called to meet in plenary session several times a year, will be constituted, besides the Patriarch and the Patriarch's treasurer, also by six lay members , all experts in the economic-financial sector. Issa Hijazin, a priest of the Latin Patriarchate and a professor of Sacred Scripture at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, will also be part of the organism. "In reality" Fr. Issa Hijazin told Fides - I do not understand economic matters. When he asked the Apostolic Administrator what my role should be, he told me that I would simply have to help the other members not to forget that the Church has a sui generis nature, that it is not a profit-making economic society, and therefore also economic issues must be faced with a logic and a different spirit from what happens in multinational companies or financial companies".<br />According to the Institution Decree, whose details have been releasede by abouna, org website, the Council will be divided into two sub-councils - one for Jordan and one for Israel and Palestine - and will have to discuss the revision and of the annual budget prepared by the Treasurer and the administrative offices of the Patriarchate, the consultancy regarding appointments in administrative offices and the most important economic-financial matters , as well as the monitoring of the financed projects from the patriarchate and the review of schools budgets. To prevent the possibility of commingling between the management of the patriarchate's resources and individual or family interests, the decree establishes that the Patriarch’s relatives or those who take his place cannot be part of the economic Council, up to the fourth degree of kinship.<br />In the Letter addressed to all the members of the Latin Patriarchate at the beginning of Lent 2017 , Archbishop Pizzaballa had written among other things that in the recent past "mistakes and wrong decisions have been made which have affected the life of the Patriarchate, financially and administratively, mainly concerning the American University of Madaba. We had failed in some important areas, perhaps not focused enough on our primary mission: preaching the Gospel and dedicate ourselves to the pastoral activities". <br />The incident referred to by Archbishop Pizzaballa is the American University of Madaba, AUM, affiliated University of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the first stone on May 9, 2009 was blessed by Pope Benedict, and was inaugurated on May 30, 2013 in the presence of King Abdallah II. At the end of 2014, the Holy See had to intervene to take charge of administrative and financial problems that had marked the construction and startup of the academic institution. <br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:52:33 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Religious minorities: political leaders who take care of human rights are necessary - "We must look for political leaders willing to take care of our rights, challenges, problems, the development of our community and work to provide protection and integral promotion of minorities": said Catholic Peter Jacob Director of the "Social Justice Center", on the occasion of a recent Seminar held in Karachi on the theme "Elections 2018 and rights of religious minorities", in view of the political elections scheduled in Pakistan in July 2018.<br />As Fides learns, over 80 people including priests, political leaders, social assistants and human rights activists attended the co-organized meeting by the National Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Catholic Episcopal Conference.<br />Jacob noted: "Our Christian areas are not yet developed. The problems have been the same for decades. We should vote for candidates and political parties that really deal with minority rights issues". The participants highlighted the challenges that minorities face in their respective regions: government indifference, lack of water, problems regarding cleanliness and hygiene, abuses of fundamental rights, fear of being accused unfairly under blasphemy laws.<br />Riaz Nawab, social assistant, highlighted issues regarding the legislative assemblies: "The members selected to occupy the seats reserved for minorities in Parliament are not useful for the community, they do not visit the minority areas. They are chosen by political parties, they work only for them".<br />Those present asked for greater participation of religious minorities in the electoral process and a significant commitment by the candidates to take on the outstanding issues.<br />Jaipal Chabbria, a Hindu politician, told Fides: "If I am not considered a citizen of Pakistan because I am Hindu, this is discrimination, we should all be treated in the same way, not as Christian, Hindu or other religious minorities".<br />There was also discussion of the implementation of the Supreme Court ruling of 19 June 2014 on religious minorities and, among the proposals raised, it was asked to set up an autonomous National Commission to examine issues related to religious minorities. To promote religious tolerance and national cohesion, the Seminar indicated some essential points: to review the school and university draft curriculum and the 2017 education policy to eliminate discrimination based on religion; to set up a regulatory body for the full implementation of the 5% share of employment in public jobs reserved for religious minorities; to set up commissions at federal and provincial levels to ensure the respect and enforcement of the Supreme Court Ordinance of 19 June 2014, on the promotion of peace and the urgency of building a culture of religious and social tolerance. <br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:28:08 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - The Bishops: yes to an immigration law, no to negative impacts on families and the vulnerable - "While we truly want a legislative solution for Dreamers, we cannot, in good faith, endorse large structural changes to the immigration system that detrimentally impact families and the vulnerable, such as those that are contained in this legislation. We welcome the opportunity to dialogue with lawmakers and to discuss possible opportunities for further compromise, particularly with respect to effects on families and the vulnerable". This is what Mgr. Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration wrote in a letter sent a letter to every Member of the U.S. House of Representatives in response to two immigration bills that are expected to be taken up later this week by the full House.<br />The so-called "Dreamers" are about 800,000 immigrants. President Barack Obama had introduced the Daca program as a stopgap measure that would shield from deportation people who were brought into the United States as children, a program suspended by the Trump administration. Mgr. Vasquez had previously written in opposition to the first of the two bills , introduced in January of this year, also under discussion this week, which provides for the reduction of visas for workers in the agricultural sector, the reduction of visas for family reunification, the funding to build a border wall with Mexico and the increase of agents employed in the Security Department.<br />In his letter yesterday, sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Vásquez states: "My brother Bishops and I appreciate the effort by Representatives to find a legislative solution for Dreamers by bringing immigration measures before the House of Representatives. We believe that any such legislation must be bipartisan, provide Dreamers with a path to citizenship, be pro-family, protect the vulnerable and be respectful of human dignity with regard to border security and enforcement".<br />In the meantime, videos have been causing a sensation all over the world with the cries of foreign children, separated from their parents and locked up in detention centers, following the new rules on immigration, a consequence of "zero tolerance", on the Mexican border. The theme is widely debated at all levels. Hundreds of members of the United Methodist Church have filed claims of child abuse and racism against Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he enacted a “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that has led to the separation of thousands of parents and children at the U.S. border. The letter, signed by 640 faithful, priests and leaders of the Methodist Church, states: "Pursuant to Paragraph 2702.3 of the 2016 United Methodist Book of Discipline, we hereby charge Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, Attorney General of the United States, with the chargeable offenses of: child abuse, immorality, racial discrimination and the dissemination of doctrines contrary to the standards of the United Methodist Church doctrine". The letter states that "while other individuals and areas of the federal government are implicated in each of these examples", Jeff Sessions – as a long-term United Methodist in a tremendously powerful, public position – is particularly accountable to us, his church. He is ours, and we are his. As his denomination, "we have an ethical obligation to speak boldly when one of our members is engaged in causing significant harm". <br /> <br /><br />Wed, 20 Jun 2018 11:14:07 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Expulsion overturned: the Australian Sister Patricia Fox will be able to continue her missionary work - The Philippines justice department, with a provision issued on June 18, has overturned an order for the deportation of Australian missionary nun Sister Patricia Fox, from the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion. As Fides learns, the 71-year-old religious, who has taken care of the poor especially in rural areas for 27 years, welcomed the news with joy, along with her entire congregation and the Catholic community. Her visa, for pastoral reasons, has been renewed and she may remain in the country. When asked by Fides, the nun said: "I will continue to give my life for the indigenous peoples, for the poor in urban areas and for the oppressed farmers, I will continue the missionary work because this is my life, it is my mission". Sr. Patricia continues: "I live my commitment as an urgency to bring the Gospel and as a mandate of the Church, which sends me on a mission to the suburbs".<br />On 25 April, at the request of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, the Immigration Office Sister Fox’s visa was revoked, ordering her to leave the country within a month for her alleged involvement in "political activism". The religious appealed to the Ministry of Justice and was allowed to stay in the country pending a ruling on her case.<br />Among the accusations brought against the religious were some photos - taken during a visit to a prison in the southern Philippines - that depicted her with a banner that read "Stop the killing of peasants". The nun was also involved in an investigation of human rights abuses committed against farmers and tribal peoples in the southern Philippines.<br />Bishops, ecclesial leaders, priests, nuns, social workers and human rights activists, had expressed solidarity with Sr. Fox, inviting the government to renew her permanent visa. Sister Elenita Belardo, national coordinator of the "Rural Missionaries" in the Philippines, expressed joy and satisfaction for the Ministry’s decision, "especially on behalf of all those poor people that the religious helps and accompanies". <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 12:52:19 +0200ASIA/ISRAEL - Christian leaders to Netanyahu: the government still aims to confiscate Church property - The Israeli draft bill that aims at confiscating church property in Israel has not been blocked or filed: this bill, which continues its process towards approval, is configured as "a systematic and unprecedented attack against the Christians of the Holy Land", capable of violating "the most basic rights" and undermine "the delicate fabric of relationships" built decades ago between the local Christian communities and the Jewish state. This is what Christian Leaders responsible for the shared management of the Holy Sepulcher write in a letter sent to Benjamin Netanyahu, in which they ask the Israeli premier to "act quickly and decisively to block the bill whose unilateral promotion will force the Churches to respond in the same way". The letter carries the signatures of Theophilos III - Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem -, Nurhan Manougian - Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Jerusalem - and Father Francesco Patton ofm, Custos of the Holy Land.<br />The letter of the three Christian leaders seems to highlight the controversy with the Israeli government that at the end of February pushed the local Churches to "shutter" the Holy Sepulcher, closed from Sunday 25th to Tuesday 27th February as a form of protest. At the time, the bill that had provoked the reaction of Christian leaders aimed at guaranteeing the Israeli government the possibility of confiscating those ecclesiastical property that in the past had been rented for long periods - up to 99 years - to the National Jewish Fund, and that in recent times the same ecclesial subjects, to cope with their debts, sold to large private real estate groups. The Israeli Parliament had been working on this bill for some time, which by authorizing the expropriation of these lands by the State of Israel aimed at removing these properties from possible legal disputes, in order to protect the owners of houses and buildings built in the meantime on those lands. In February, the leaders of the local Churches suspended the protests after the Israeli government promised to start negotiations with the ecclesial parties concerned about the controversial issue. Now, the three signatories of the letter to Netanyahu report that they have learned that the bill is about to be submitted to the Ministerial Committee in view of future approval.<br />Israeli parliamentarian Rachel Azaria, who is responsible for the draft law, responded to the concerns of the Church leaders. <br />According to Azaria, the bill aims at only protecting residents who live in houses built on land belonging to the Churches, subtracting these properties to possible speculations. The parliamentarian also stressed that the new draft bill aims to offer general safeguards for the protection of small-scale owners of houses on lands potentially subject to legal disputes, without containing specific references to ecclesiastical properties. <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 12:36:34 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - "Life is made up of meetings": no to the criminalization of migrants and refugees - The objective of the 33rd National Migrant Week, which is celebrated throughout Brazil from 17 to 24 June, is to promote "the culture of encounter", "making spaces and opportunities grow for immigrants and to allow local communities to meet, dialogue and act": says Mgr. José Luiz Ferreira Sales, Bishop of Pesqueira and spokesperson of the Pastoral Sector of Human Mobility of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference .<br />According to information released by the CNBB, sent to Agenzia Fides, several communities and parishes across the country have organized activities to open the Week, which has as its theme "Life is made up of meetings" and as a slogan "Open arms without the fear of welcoming". The Archbishop of Brasilia, Cardinal Sergio da Rocha, who is also President of the CNBB, presided over the opening celebration in the Metropolitan Cathedral, with a representation of migrants and refugees who actively participated in the liturgy. <br />In the homily he recalled that the capital of Brazil was built by migrants and recalled the repeated appeal of Pope Francis on the need for a fraternal reception of migrants, especially refugees.<br />Caritas Brazil in past days, from 12 to 14 June, had promoted an international seminar on "Migration and Refugees - Paths for a culture of encounter", under the guidance of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis, in which migrants and refugees from various countries of Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America, pastoral workers, ecclesial organizations, civil society institutions, international organizations and government took part.<br />In the final document, sent to Fides, it is underlined that "the presence of migrants and refugees among us is a precious opportunity to develop our cultural intelligence of interreligious relations, which is fundamental for our maturity as humanity and community that believes that we are sons and daughters of God". It should also be remembered that in Brazil, "a country established and built historically by the participation of immigrants, the culture of encounter is formed day by day in interpersonal relationships, in the work routine, in sharing between neighbors and in solidarity with the brother and the sister, to understand the culture of others and to be bridges of solidarity and integration".<br />Participants in the Seminar, aware of the characteristics of the global and regional migration context, which requires "a structured, agile and timely work of all organizations ", invite religious communities, groups and organizations to promote intercultural experiences "in the various forms of reception of migrant and refugee brothers and sisters, with creativity in promoting their effective and full integration into community life".<br />The signatories of the final document denounce "the criminalization of migration, xenophobia, racism, discriminatory language with stereotypes and prejudices, unfounded alarmism, the use and dissemination of misinformation on issues related to migration and refugees, and all violations of the human rights of migrants and refugees, including human trafficking and work similar to slavery". Convinced of the personal and community potential of migrants and refugees, they bet "on their creative and co-responsible role in building intercultural relations and experiences of solidarity in the communities, with a positive presence and contribution", and encourage them "to believe in themselves, in their faith and in their power of transformation and organization in pursuing their dreams and projects of life". Finally, it is urgent that states, Churches and civil society continue to promote "intercultural and interreligious reflections on the migratory phenomenon in the Latin American region, carrying out analyzes of contexts that allow us to understand and address causes and trends, and to project coordinated responses among all". <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 12:05:09 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The Bishops: no weapons for priests - A priest is a "Good Shepherd", ready to give his life for his flock; he is a gentle, peaceful and non-violent man. For this reason, despite the killing of three priests in the last six months, they must not possess or carry weapons, to be used in self-defense: say leading Church figures in the Philippines who have expressed dismay and anger at reports that Catholic priests are arming themselves following the slaying of several members of the clergy in recent months.<br />The Archbishop of Davao, Romulo Valles, president of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines , has officially rejected the idea of priests arming themselves.<br />"We are men of God, men of the church, and it is part of our ministry to face dangers, to face deaths if one may say that way", he said.<br />Even the vice president of the Episcopal Conference, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, of the diocese of Kalookan, rejected the idea that priests may carry firearms, even if only for self-defense.<br />"Priests who want to carry a gun for protection should leave the priesthood and join the police or military", said Bishop David, who said he was "disappointed".<br />As Fides learns, at least four priests from the diocese of San Pablo, in the southern province of Laguna, have begun to arm themselves for self-defense.<br />Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde, said that "priests, as citizens of the country, could arm themselves for self-protection - constitutionally enshrined right - as long as they acquired guns and permits legally. There will be a feeling of added security on their part if they have firearms, legally licensed", he said<br />Jerome Secillano, Executive Secretary of the public affairs committee of the bishops' conference, reiterated the Church's position according to whom priests and pastoral workers must not be armed.<br />The Filipino priests killed in recent months are: Father Richmond Nilo, 44, who was shot dead as he was preparing for a Mass on 10 June in the city of Zaragoza, in the province of Nueva Ecija; Fr. Mark Ventura, 37, was shot dead after celebrating Mass in the city of Gattaran, Cagayan province, on April 29; Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was killed on 5 December 2017 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. The only priest who was wounded is Fr. Rey Urmeneta, 64, former police chaplain, shot last June 6 in the city of Calamba, south of Manila. <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 11:12:24 +0200AMERICA/ECUADOR - The Bishop of Esmeraldas is alarmed by the situation of young people:"Violence is the fruit of the tree of injustice" - It is time to think seriously about what is happening in the country, in particular the situation of violence that increases in the northern area, right at the border, where many young people are victims of this armed conflict in a war territory: this is what the Bishop of the diocese of Esmeraldas and President of the Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Eugenio Arellano says.<br />"Violence is a fruit that comes from the tree of injustice - said the Archbishop on Sunday, June 17 - no other tree gives that fruit, and the violence arises from injustice and abandonment from many governments<br />How many young people from Esmeraldas, from San Lorenzo, from Mataje, would like to have the economic possibilities of those living in the Huacho area, in order to help their own family! We have not been able to offer them anything else, but drug trade! We have always thought that they are negritos, part of folklore. The doors are always closed. There are some who after years and years of study and sacrifice, even after university, have to give in to corruption to have any kind of job! And we are silent, we all know! And this also makes us accomplices of this great social injustice! This is the injustice that weighs on the poor people of Esmerladas. All of this increases impunity.<br />We must do something!", concluded Mgr. Arellano, according to the text sent to Fides.<br />Yesterday, 18 June, Equatorian President Lenin Moreno warned that his country's security forces "will not allow Colombia's irregular armed groups to attack the sovereignty of Ecuador with actions on the border between the two nations, such as those that occurred in last weeks".<br />The President referred to armed attacks and explosives and even the abduction of civilians on the border with Colombia, which caused 7 deaths and about 40 people were wounded. According to a local source, these actions were attributed to the "Oliver Sinisterra" front, composed of dissidents of the now extinct guerrilla group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia .<br />President Moreno said: "In today's Ecuador, no citizen of ours must live with fear, only criminals must fear, those who frighten the population, because we will pursue them without rest, do not doubt this". The President made these statements during a military ceremony in the province of Esmeraldas, where the government presented its defense, security and development policy for the northern border. <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 11:45:40 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Strong condemnation on behalf of the Bishops for the attack on a mosque: it is the second in a month – Strong condemnation of the Church in South Africa for the attack on the Malmesbury mosque, a small town 65 km north of Cape Town, on 14 June. "On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa, and the Catholic Church, we wish to express our deep shock and abhorrence of the recent atrocity at the Malmesbury Mosque", says a statement sent to Agenzia Fides by His Exc. Mgr. Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference . "We offer condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this brutal attack and pray that the Almighty will give them comfort and consolation. We also pray that the community of the Malmesbury Mosque who have been traumatized by the violation of a sacred space will receive strength and solace".<br />The attack was committed by a man armed with a knife who entered the mosque early in the morning of June 14th. The perpetrator stabbed four people, of whom two, including the 74-year-old imam, died, and was later killed by the police. This is the second attack on a South African mosque in one month. On 10 May, shortly after the midday prayer, three men armed with guns and knives entered the Imam Hussein Mosque in Verulam, Durban, and after having stabbed three people, they set fire to the place . The Iman was killed, while the other two people were injured.<br />"A month has passed since the attack on the Mosque near Verulam and we encourage the Police Services to continue working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators to book", remarks Mgr. Brislin. "Although the circumstances of the Malmesbury attack appear to be different from that of Verulam, nonetheless there needs to be a full investigation as to the motivation of both attacks".<br />The President of the SACBC concludes by launching an appeal so that these episodes are not exploited with the aim of throwing the Country into chaos. "We will not allow those with sinister motives to set one faith against another, nor to exacerbate tension within faith groups. We appeal to all South Africans to express their unconditional respect for human life and their commitment to work for peace". <br />Tue, 19 Jun 2018 10:49:19 +0200AFRICA/UGANDA - "We are taking care of the wounds inflicted by the LRA" says the Archbishop of Gulu - "The north of Uganda now lives in calm. The LRA threat concerns the past, since this guerrilla group is no longer present in Uganda, but has moved to some areas of neighboring Countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic", says to Agenzia Fides His Exc. Mgr. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu and President of the Episcopal Conference of Uganda, in Rome for an Ad Limina visit. "This does not mean we have to lower our guard. The situation must be constantly monitored to prevent the LRA from returning to Uganda", adds the Archbishop.<br />The Lord's Resistance Army raged in northern Uganda for decades, especially in the area of the Archdiocese of Gulu, terrorizing the civilian population, for a long time forced to take shelter in churches and sheltered camps to escape the violence of the guerrillas. The LRA is sadly famous for capturing children forced to become soldiers after suffering heavy psychological conditions.<br />For this reason, says Mgr. Odama, "the Church continues to assist the populations to heal the deep wounds inflicted in all these years by the LRA, both at a material level and above all at a psychological and spiritual level. We organize peace building seminars and interreligious work groups to offer support to those in need of assistance. We are investing in the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Gulu to address the most serious post-war problems: psychological and psychiatric traumas. It does not only concern the population of northern Uganda but of the entire Country and even of those close to it such as South Sudan, the DRC and Central Africa. We are therefore trying to strengthen university teaching to train psychologists working in support of the population".<br />"The causes that led to the birth of the LRA concern the bad government we had in the past", said Mgr. Odama. "Thanks to the efforts of our military, the LRA were driven out of Northern Uganda, but the conditions that decreed its birth can still be seen, especially the extreme poverty of the area that must be tackled decisively. There are, however, concrete signs of improvement, such as the construction of new roads and the development of the electricity network", concludes Mgr. Odama. <br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 13:34:05 +0200AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Patriarch Matthias: the Church will counteract the phenomenon of "child brides" Ababa - The Orthodox Tawahedo Church of Ethiopia will intensify the interventions and training and sensitization courses to warn families about the harmful effects produced by the social praxis of so-called "early marriages", which still survives in different rural areas of the Country. This was reported by Abuna Matthias I, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, one of the ancient so-called "precalcedonian" Eastern Churches . Abuna Matthias re-launched the commitment of his Church to counteract the phenomenon of "child brides" on presenting in recent days a new book in Amharic language that sets out the criteria with which the Church considers the issue of early marriages. The publication of the book is part of an awareness campaign financed also with funds obtained by the United Nations Organization and the Church of Norway. In the past, mainly due to ignorance and lack of experience - said the Patriarch among other things - there were not sufficient precautions to curb this practice and its harmful effects. But now the Church intends to sensitize the faithful in an appropriate manner, so that this custom is completely abandoned and does not find a way to perpetuate itself among the younger generations. "God", Abuna Matthias pointed out, "created mankind with a dignity superior to all other creatures, so those who seek to lower that dignity are opposed to the law of God".<br />According to data also re-launched by UNICEF, the annual number of early marriages has fallen to 12 million a year. In the last ten years, one third of global early marriages occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while in the previous decade the percentage recorded in Africa was one fifth of the total. But in Ethiopia - which in the past was among the five African States with the highest incidence of early marriages - the number of such marriages has decreased by 30% in the last decade. <br /><br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:52:14 +0200ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - March for life: "No" to the legalization of abortion - Korean Catholics march in defense of life: this is the spirit of the "March for Life", an event held on the streets of Seoul on 16 June to say "no" to the legalization of abortion and reaffirm the commitment to the protection of human life.<br />The Korean people are awaiting the decision of the Constitutional Court on the constitutionality of the law that prohibits abortion in South Korea. As Fides learns, those present at the "March for life" declared the legality and legitimacy of the provision and declared themselves "ready to oppose the abrogation of the prohibition of abortion", in the spirit of defending the life of the mother and child in the womb.<br />Once they arrived at the Cathedral of Seoul, the demonstrators listened to Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, who addressed the people of Korea with a message that invites them to welcome and respect life. Cardinal Yeom said: "Life, which seems so fragile and insignificant, has an extremely strong power. We are all responsible for the limits and social conditions that force women to make irreversible decisions, but abortion is not the best choice, not even a matter of choice, we should try to build a culture that teaches to respect and love life together".<br />The "March for life" is a global pro-life movement, launched in the '70s in the United States, to oppose the legalization of abortion and the protection of life. In Korea there is a Federation of Organizations with the aim of establishing the right "culture for life", emphasizing the value and dignity of life. Some civil society organizations insist on repealing the prohibition on abortion based on women's self-determination rights. According to the Korean Catholic community, the abrogation of the prohibition of abortion is not the right manner to respect women's rights. <br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:29:40 +0200AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Yes to a Committee of inquiry on violence, but massacres continue - The Bishops of Nicaragua and members of the Civic Alliance who are participating in the National Dialogue roundtable, said they were "very satisfied" with the result of the negotiations on truth, justice and human rights with the government of Daniel Ortega.<br />At the end of a tense and prolonged working session, on Friday 15 June , the creation of a Committee of inquiry that investigates on the massacres and other human rights violations committed since 18 April was agreed upon. <br />The executive therefore accepted the entry into the country of a new mission of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights , as well as the delegations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union. The government nevertheless wanted to include the Organization of American States , while Ortega, in a letter addressed to the Bishops, refused to accept the main request of the population: his immediate exit and early elections.<br />Nicaragua, however, continues to experience its worst crisis in the last forty years, while the wave of terror that has caused more than 160 dead has not stopped. The climate of distrust in authorities, despite the Dialogue table, is increasing more and more. On the same day, Friday 15th, an armed group set fire to a house, causing the death of a whole family of four adults and two children, only because they were opposed to using the house for snipers. According to witnesses, the group consisted of police and paramilitary forces.<br />On Saturday morning, June 16, the Archdiocese of Managua sent the communiqué to Fides condemning this horrible crime: "We are saddened by this act of execrable terror that caused the death of six people, including two innocent and defenseless children, for whom we express with affection our feeling of closeness and solidarity to the relatives. In the name of God we ask to immediately put an end to the killing of defenseless people". <br /><br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:19:21 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Ivan Duque becomes the youngest Colombian president - Right candidate Ivan Duque is the new president of Colombia. Leader of the Democratic Center, won Colombia's presidential election that took place yesterday, Sunday, June 17, defeating his leftist rival, former guerrilla Gustavo Petro Urrego. Based on the final data, released by the Electoral Commission at the end of the count, Duque secured 54,07% on Sunday, against 41.7% of Gustavo Petro.<br />The Episcopal Conference of Colombia had insistently repeated in recent days the invitation to vote with "conscience, freedom and responsibility", in a Country where abstentionism is historically higher than 50%.<br />In much the same way as they had already said on the eve of the first election round of 27 May Bishops repeated before the ballot: "Why vote? Because it is a right and a moral duty" that has strong repercussions in the life of the Country", the vote represents everyone’s commitment in the construction of different areas of national life". By not voting means "denying a service to the integral development of our country".<br />Ivan Duque, 41, becomes the youngest Colombian president. His victory, according to analysts in the international press, is due to the promise to bring "structural changes" to the 2016 peace agreement, which put an end to the longest conflict in Latin America, which lasted over half a century with more than 250 thousand dead, thousands missing and about 7 million refugees. <br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:55:16 +0200ASIA/EAST TIMOR - The Jesuit mission aims to promote social inclusion and education - Promotion of human dignity, social inclusion and religious education are the three priorities of the pastoral plan and mission for the years 2019-2023 in the Church of East Timor. As Agenzia Fides learns, 50 leaders and pastoral operators, lay people, nuns and Jesuit missionaries and their collaborators held a seminar in recent days in East Timor to elaborate the fundamental course of actions and goals of the presence and mission of the Jesuits in the nation.<br />"In order to achieve the objectives of the evangelical mission, Catholics are called to work in collaboration with the local government, working to promote human dignity, social development and strengthen religious education at all levels, to work for the common good", says the Jesuit Fr. Violanthus Soares. One of the important aspects is "to accompany the development and growth of youth, which represents the future of the country and society", said Karen Yao, a youth leader.<br />East Timor has suffered greatly due to political instability in recent years, after the country's struggles for independence from Portugal in 1975 and then from Indonesia in 2002. "Another effort is therefore the work for reconciliation in society", a harbinger of social, economic and religious well-being, said the Jesuit Herculaneum Moniz.<br />East Timor with 1.2 million inhabitants, 98% Christians, became the second Catholic country in Asia , a legacy of its status as a former Portuguese colony.<br />The main religions are Catholicism , Protestantism Islam . The country has three Catholic dioceses: Dili, Baucau and Maliana. <br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:27:36 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Venezuelan refugees at the center of the Church's attention - From 17 to 24 June, on the occasion of the World Refugee Day which is celebrated on 20 June worldwide, the Colombian Catholic Church will host about 300 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, for a lunch of solidarity and will provide them with cleaning kits. The initiative is animated by "Red Clamor Colombia", created in 2017 to coordinate the pastoral work of various organizations of the Catholic Church in America and the Caribbean, in the context of reception, protection and integration of migrants, refugees and displaced persons. It is also part of the global campaign "Share the journey", launched by Pope Francis.<br />Pope Francis himself recalled the Day during yesterday's Angelus, hoping that the States involved in the consultations for the adoption of a World Pact on Refugees "will reach an agreement to ensure, with responsibility and humanity, the assistance and protection for those forced to leave their own country", and recalled that "we are all called to be close to refugees, to find moments of encounter with them, so that they can better integrate in the communities that receive them".<br />According to the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, on 19 June the Community of the Adoring Sisters in Bogota will host a group of 15 migrant women who find themselves in situations of vulnerability and economic precariousness, exposed to violence, discrimination and sexual exploitation. On 20 June, the Scalabrinian Missionaries organized the celebration of a Mass at the Center for Migrants of the Archdiocese of Bogota, followed by lunch for 80 Venezuelan and displaced Colombian immigrants. On 21 June the Archdiocese of Bogota will offer a fraternal lunch and some cultural activities to 150 Venezuelans who have emigrated. Moreover, in this week of solidarity, the Latin American Episcopal Council , Colombian Caritas, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Latin American Conference of Religious , and the Benedictine fathers will offer kits for hygiene to the participants.<br />These initiatives are part of the project "Puentes de Solidaridad - Integrated Pastoral Plan for Assistance to Venezuelan Migrants in South America" in response to the appeal launched by Pope Francis. Eight Episcopal Conferences of South America joined forces to find solutions to the massive emigration of Venezuelans fleeing their country. In Colombia, the project supports vulnerable migrants with psychosocial and spiritual assistance and support, including advocacy actions, as well as developing meetings for reflection and possible interventions regarding the humanitarian crisis of Venezuelan migrants. <br />Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:12:33 +0200