Fides News - Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/IRAQ - One more seat reserved for Christians in the new bill on parliamenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61790-ASIA_IRAQ_One_more_seat_reserved_for_Christians_in_the_new_bill_on_parliamenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61790-ASIA_IRAQ_One_more_seat_reserved_for_Christians_in_the_new_bill_on_parliamentBaghdad - A bill to review the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives among the different Iraqi electoral districts, published by the relevant parliamentary institutions on Monday, February 20, also provides for the increase of seats reserved for Christian minorities: from five to six, with the addition of one seat reserved for Christian Armenians in the capital Baghdad. The seats of the new Parliamentary Assembly, according to the bill to be submitted to the discussion of the political forces, would increase from 325 to 328, with 318 of them distributed among the different provinces according to administrative boundaries. Sabians, Mandaeans and Yazidis in the new Parliament would have only one seat guaranteed for each of the three minorities.<br />Meanwhile, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, some authoritative representatives of the Chaldean League during the meeting on Sunday, February 19 in Erbil, renewed the call to implement processes of reconciliation and cooperation among all of social, ethnic and religious components in Iraq, avoiding to transform even the references to different confessional affiliations of Christians in excuses to accentuate sectarian rifts that continue to threaten the country's unity. <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:10:01 +0100AFRICA/MALI - Bogota sends a special anti-kidnapping team to investigate the kidnapping of the Colombian nunhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61788-AFRICA_MALI_Bogota_sends_a_special_anti_kidnapping_team_to_investigate_the_kidnapping_of_the_Colombian_nunhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61788-AFRICA_MALI_Bogota_sends_a_special_anti_kidnapping_team_to_investigate_the_kidnapping_of_the_Colombian_nunBamako - The special Guala anti-kidnapping group of Colombia's National Police was sent to Mali to help local authorities to find Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, kidnapped in Karangasso in southern Mali .<br />As Agenzia Fides learns from Colombian sources, the Guala Group is specialized in the search of kidnapped people and has technical and intelligence skills. Colombian agents work with their Malian counterparts and those of at least one European Country who are already engaged in the search of the religious nun. Sister Cecilia’s kidnappers said they are jihadists, but at the moment there is no confirmation. <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:48:52 +0100VATICAN - Pope's Appeal for South Sudan: commit not to stop at making statementshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61789-VATICAN_Pope_s_Appeal_for_South_Sudan_commit_not_to_stop_at_making_statementshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61789-VATICAN_Pope_s_Appeal_for_South_Sudan_commit_not_to_stop_at_making_statementsVatican City - After the general audience today in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father launched an appealed for the tragic situation in South Suda, with these words: "Of particular concern is the painful news coming from suffering South Sudan, where a fratricidal conflict is compounded by a severe food crisis in the Horn of Africa region, which condemns to death by starvation millions of people, including many children. At this time, it is more necessary than ever that all commit not to stop at making statements, but also to provide concrete food aid and to allow it to reach suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these our brothers and all those working to help them". <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:38:58 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Lynching in Lahore: 42 Christians convicted of terrorismhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61786-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Lynching_in_Lahore_42_Christians_convicted_of_terrorismhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61786-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Lynching_in_Lahore_42_Christians_convicted_of_terrorismLahore - Lahore anti-terrorist court sentenced 42 Christians for terrorism. As Fides learns, the Court pronounced the sentence for Christian citizens accused of lynching which occurred after the terrorist attacks on two churches in Youhanabad district, Lahore, on March 15, 2015.<br />After the bombs, the protest of the faithful broke out and killed - in an act condemned by all Christian leaders - two Muslims suspected of being perpetrators or accomplices of the attackers. In the following days, the police had made several raids in the district arresting about 500 people and then confirming the detention of 84 Christians, accusing them of murder and terrorism. Among them, 42 were acquitted in the summer of 2016. Among the 42 sentenced today, three human rights activists have been labeled as "instigators of violence". Christians claim that the murders were committed by a few agitators, infiltrated in the community.<br />The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops, in a statement sent to Fides, express disappointment "because the police and the authorities focused only on the deplorable act of lynching, to be condemned strongly, while the authors of the criminal attack on churches, on innocent worshipers, are still unpunished".<br />According to the NGO "Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement" at least 32 defendants "are unjustly accused" and the pressures from Muslim extremists may have weighed on the verdict.<br />To prevent incidents of this kind, the Pakistan National Assembly in recent days passed the "Criminal Laws Amendment Act 2016", a law that punishes sectarianism, forced conversions and mass lynching. The text, which in order to come into force must be signed by the President of the nation, has been welcomed as a step forward for the conditions of religious minorities. The new rules amend some laws that already exist prescribing imprisonment from one to three years for inciting religious hatred and violence, and provide for imprisonment up to 10 years in cases of forced marriages of underage girls or women belonging to minority groups. The text also makes being lynched by the "crowds who take the law into their own hands a criminal offense". <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:33:45 +0100ASIA/HOLY LAND - The Israeli army begins the demolition of Bedouin villages. Even the "School" at riskhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61787-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_The_Israeli_army_begins_the_demolition_of_Bedouin_villages_Even_the_School_at_riskhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61787-ASIA_HOLY_LAND_The_Israeli_army_begins_the_demolition_of_Bedouin_villages_Even_the_School_at_riskJerusalem - The Israeli army bulldozers have already taken action to implement the announced demolition of Bedouin villages situated within the territories of the occupied West Bank, east of Jerusalem, in an area considered strategic for the creation and expansion of new settlements of colonists. The first Bedouin house was demolished in the village of Tabana, on Monday, February 20. The plan put in place provides the forced displacement of the Bedouin village of Khan Al Ahmer, Abu Hindi and Abu Nawar, the latter very close to the Israeli settlements of Ma'ale Adumim.<br />Sister Azezet and Sister Agnese, Comboni religious nuns also involved in the animation of 8 small nurseries in the area, tell Fides Agency their feelings of anxiety, fear and frustration registered among the Bedouins affected by the demolition plan and forced displacement, starting from the children. In the village of Khan Al Ahmer, with 42 huts, whose actual demolition was announced for Thursday, February 23, there is also a school, attended by 178 children of the Jahalin Bedouin tribe, which could soon be torn to pieces by bulldozers. <br />The school is a structure built with 2,200 old tires leaning on each other, as if they were bricks, filled with mud and pressed. In 2009 a month after the school for the children of the area opened it was served with a demolition order. <br />In 2014, Israeli judges had asked the parties to reach an agreement, recognizing the social utility of the school.<br />The removal of the school would facilitate the expansion of Kfar Adumim settlement. The whole area, in the so-called E1 corridor, is involved in the project that aims to extend the separation Wall to the Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, built largely on Palestinian territories.<br />"In this situation of great uncertainty" refer the Comboni Sisters "we too have experienced frustration in the face of so much injustice and violation of human rights, in addition to the inability to find words of comfort and consolation ... We ask for prayer and justice for our brothers and sisters and may the Lord's mercy intervene in their favor". <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:02:36 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - About 4,000 prisoners awaiting justice, deaths due to starvation and degradation increasehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61785-AMERICA_HAITI_About_4_000_prisoners_awaiting_justice_deaths_due_to_starvation_and_degradation_increasehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61785-AMERICA_HAITI_About_4_000_prisoners_awaiting_justice_deaths_due_to_starvation_and_degradation_increasePort au Prince - Yesterday, 21 February, at St. Anne's Church in Port au Prince, Father Jean Robert Louis celebrated in the presence of family members, the funeral of 20 inmates of the National Penitentiary who died of malnutrition, in conditions of poverty and lack of hygiene. Just a few days ago, the Associated Press news agency had reported the plight of prisoners in the capital.<br />According to Fides sources, the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince has a capacity of 778 prisoners, that means 2.25 m2 per prisoner below international standards that define the minimum area of 4.50 m2 per prisoner. The seriousness of the situation is demonstrated by the fact that only 548 inmates of this prison were convicted, all others are in prison without trial, some even wait for many years.<br />In this prison in 2016 60 prisoners died due to illnesses and ill health. Between the 1st and 19th January there was an increase in deaths compared to previous months. The causes of death, reported by prison authorities, are: severe anemia, heart failure, respiratory failure, pulmonary tuberculosis, hypovolemic shock and gastroenteritis. <br />Father Jean Louis Robert, who had also celebrated the funerals of other prisoners in January, reiterated the Commission's commitment to prison ministry in his parish to continue to support this type of initiative, to celebrate the funeral and burial of the dead. Previously the deceased prisoners were thrown into a mass grave, often without informing the families. <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:29:25 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - More than 650 participants at the V National Congress of Missionary Childhood and Adolescencehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61782-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_More_than_650_participants_at_the_V_National_Congress_of_Missionary_Childhood_and_Adolescencehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61782-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_More_than_650_participants_at_the_V_National_Congress_of_Missionary_Childhood_and_AdolescenceCaracas - On Saturday, February 25 the V National Congress of Missionary Childhood and Adolescence begins in Caracas, with the arrival of 650 participants from across the country. The aim of the three-day meeting, which ends on February 27, is to encourage the missionary commitment of the young participants.<br />CONIAM also wants to celebrate the 52 years of the foundation of this Pontifical Mission Society in Venezuela. The program includes a series of activities to reflect, pray and celebrate taking into account the main themes that mark the annual life of IAM.<br />The meeting will be inaugurated by Father Endeer Zapata, National Director of the PMS in Venezuela, which will introduce the opening Mass, presided over by Archbishop Aldo Giordano, Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela. <br /><br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:18:06 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - Bishops of Ibadan: "It is time for the government to prove that it can mantain its promises"http://www.fides.org/en/news/61783-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Bishops_of_Ibadan_It_is_time_for_the_government_to_prove_that_it_can_mantain_its_promiseshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61783-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Bishops_of_Ibadan_It_is_time_for_the_government_to_prove_that_it_can_mantain_its_promisesAbuja - "After two years of the current government administration, Nigerians must not be told that the evils of the present moment stem from choices of past administrations. Our governments, at federal and state levels, have had enough time to demonstrate the ability to carry out the promised changes to Nigerians", say the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan, in a statement issued at the end of their meeting, sent to Fides .<br />The consultations of 2015 saw the election of Muhammadu Buhari, as President of the Federation who has raised cautious hopes with his anti- corruption campaign and the announced economic reforms. Economic conditions in Nigeria, however, have deteriorated because of the collapse in oil prices in recent years and, as the Bishops point out, there are Nigerians who suffer the recession of their income.<br />"There is a sense of hopelessness", the Bishops said. "This situation causes a perverse general feeling that manifests itself in the proliferation of false news, violent clashes, appeals to the division of Nigeria as well as rampant crime. It is urgent and necessary to restore the confidence of Nigerians in their country".<br />The Bishops, after noticing that the anti-corruption campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari "is losing force", ask the government to defend citizens in the face of violence especially the Fulani herdsmen and to try and improve the economic conditions by creating new jobs. <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:17:33 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - Health education seminars for students and a medical mission for over 600 sick peoplehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61784-ASIA_INDONESIA_Health_education_seminars_for_students_and_a_medical_mission_for_over_600_sick_peoplehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61784-ASIA_INDONESIA_Health_education_seminars_for_students_and_a_medical_mission_for_over_600_sick_peopleMaumere - Since their arrival in the diocese of Maumere on the island of Flores, Indonesia, in 2009, the religious Camillians have promoted the celebration of World Day of the Sick with various initiatives in the diocese. "Even this year, the Day attracted and stimulated the interest of the local health authorities who collaborated with our missionaries in organizing some activities for the sick". This is what Father Luigi Galvani, MI told Fides.<br />"In the days preceding the Day, in fact, several initiatives were organized. Among these, a group of doctors and nurses, together with our seminarians, promoted health education seminars for the students of different schools", continues Father Galvani. <br />"In addition, on 4 and 5 February, 6 doctors, 15 nurses and 35 Camillian seminarians led a medical mission in a remote mountain village. Over 600 patients were assisted, including some with HIV and many mothers with serious pregnancy problems. <br />Our seminarians instead visited the sick and elderly in their homes, teaching catechism to children. At the conclusion of these two days in the village of Wolofeo, Sunday Mass for the sick was very touching, held for the first time in the village, with the animation of the choir formed of doctors, nurses and seminarians. Finally, the diocesan celebration for the sick, was held on Sunday, February 12, in the suburb parish of the city, Bolawolon". <br />Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:16:59 +0100ASIA/MONGOLIA - New priest ordained in Mongolia in the Jubilee yearhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61772-ASIA_MONGOLIA_New_priest_ordained_in_Mongolia_in_the_Jubilee_yearhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61772-ASIA_MONGOLIA_New_priest_ordained_in_Mongolia_in_the_Jubilee_yearUlaan Baatar - While the Catholic Church in Mongolia in 2017 celebrates its silver Jubilee, the community is celebrating the ordination of Bernard Kambala, a member of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary , ordained a priest on February 19 in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Ulaanbaatar. The community of the baptized in the land of Genghis Khan had celebrated the priestly ordination of the first Mongolian priest, Father Joseph Enkh in August 2016. "They are gifts that ensure the future of the Church in Mongolia", says to Fides Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, CICM, Apostolic Prefect of Ulaanbaatar. The Bishop in his message for the New Year wrote: "2017 is for us a promise of great joy: the Silver Jubilee of the Catholic Church in Mongolia and two Priesthood ordinations: deacon Bernard Kambala Muana, CICM, and deacon Antonius Werun, Salesian". These priests and missionaries will give "new impetus to our community". "The Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which also celebrates the 25 years in Mongolia, is pleased that the Lord still sends out laborers for his vineyard and shows us his benevolent face", notes Padilla.<br />Bernard Kambala, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, joined the CICM congregation in 2005. After three years of philosophy studies and one year of novitiate in Kinshasa , he studied theology at Ecole théologique Saint Cyprien de Ngoya in Ngoya, in Cameroon until 2013. Once he arrived in Mongolia in August 2014, he studied the Mongolian language and dedicated himself to the knowledge of the local culture. He carried out his pastoral service in the church of St. Peter and Paul in Ulaanbaatar. Since January this year Fr. Bernard has begun publishing a daily meditation on the Word of God, writing in Mongolian, a fact much appreciated by the faithful,<br />As the motto of his ordination, Fr. Bernard chose the words of St. Paul to the Romans: "God proves his love for us: while we were still sinners Christ died for us" .<br />There are more than 50 missionaries and religious from 14 countries in the world, in Mongolia. The Catholic community has over one thousand Mongolians baptized and hundreds of catechumens present in 6 parishes and three mission stations are expected to be erected to the rank of parishes on the occasion of the Jubilee celebration. <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:39:29 +0100EUROPE/ITALY - The right to emigrate but also the "right to remain" in their own countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61778-EUROPE_ITALY_The_right_to_emigrate_but_also_the_right_to_remain_in_their_own_countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61778-EUROPE_ITALY_The_right_to_emigrate_but_also_the_right_to_remain_in_their_own_countryRome - "Migration is a phenomenon that is part of human history. The United Nations estimates indicate 244 million international migrants and 65.3 million people in a situation of forced migration. Beyond the numbers we are talking about lives, projects and people’s dreams who often find in migration the only alternative for survival or hope for the future". This is what Sister Neusa de Fátima Mariano, Superior General of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo/Scalabrinians said in her speech at the Chamber of Deputies, in Rome, as part of the workshop that preceded the International Forum on Migration and Peace, to be held today and tomorrow, organized by the Department for Integral Human Development of the Holy See, by the Scalabrini International Migration Network and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.<br />"The participation of children in migration flows, according to the UNHCR, has increased in recent years at an accelerated pace and represents more than half of the world's refugees - recalled the religious in the text sent to Fides. In line with Pope Francis' message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2017, let us remember that children and teenagers in movement in population flows are the first to suffer, with degrading situations such as human trafficking, exploitation, the abuse and deprivation of rights such as having a healthy and safe environment within the family, adequate education, to play and live and grow in a context of peace. Even migrant women need our attention, as they also often become more vulnerable in the migration flows. Many times they are at risk of suffering sexual exploitation".<br />Sister Neusa stressed that "we must overcome the idea that migration is a problem to solve or a contingency to control. Migration itself is a historical and social phenomenon that occurs in a positive way when it is voluntary. In other words, we draw attention on the importance that people have, along with the right to also emigrate also the 'right not to emigrate'. Ie, each country must ensure its citizens safe living conditions so that they do not need to travel, if they do not want to. In this context, the right to emigrate would be correlative to the right to stay". <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:29:24 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - The Church on the situation of migrants: "legal, political and social solutions are no longer an option, they are imperative issues"http://www.fides.org/en/news/61774-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_Church_on_the_situation_of_migrants_legal_political_and_social_solutions_are_no_longer_an_option_they_are_imperative_issueshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61774-AMERICA_MEXICO_The_Church_on_the_situation_of_migrants_legal_political_and_social_solutions_are_no_longer_an_option_they_are_imperative_issuesMexico City - "Due to the executive orders of President Donald Trump, a hostile environment, insecurity, uncertainty and terror has been created concerning thousands of people who are accused of being criminals just because they are in a condition of irregular immigration. The implementation of these measures produces disastrous results; the first: the separation of families, when parents are repatriated, leaving children totally defenseless. The final destiny is the path of adoption, when in reality they have a father and mother, but with the only 'crime' of not having the US citizenship of America": this is what the latest issue of the magazine of the archdiocese of Mexico "Desde la Fe" reports.<br />The invitation launched is the unity of the Mexican people before the many difficulties experienced by compatriots in the North American lands: "We cannot be indifferent to the current situation. It is necessary to act with courage", stresses the text sent to Fides.<br />"Before the terror of Trump’s administration, the Catholic Church, on both sides of the border, appeals to union. <br />During this week, in the Tex-Mex meeting, the Bishops of Texas and Mexico are very busy in this difficult historical moment, to provide quality service to migrants: spiritual, legal, material and family support, and to maintain a constant presence in the centers and shelters for migrants from the southern border of Mexico and the United States, because, before this atmosphere of mistrust and betrayal, only churches have become the only safe haven in which one can give them guarantees to protect their legal rights", says the magazine . The text concludes with a forceful statement: "The search for legal, political and social solutions is no longer an option, it is an imperative issue". <br /><br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:13:35 +0100AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cardinal Monsengwo denounces: Acts of vandalism against the Churchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61777-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Cardinal_Monsengwo_denounces_Acts_of_vandalism_against_the_Churchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61777-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_Cardinal_Monsengwo_denounces_Acts_of_vandalism_against_the_ChurchKinshasa - "There is a resurgence of fear, anger, uncertainty", says Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides in which he denounces the attacks against the Church in the last few days.<br />"We have learned with indignation, Saturday, February 18, of the fire of part of the Major Seminary of Malole by uncivilized people who later spread terror at the nearby Carmelite sisters in Kananga ", writes the Cardinal, who also recalls the demonstrations that occurred on three occasions in front of the Archbishopric of Kinshasa, by groups of young people who "created an atmosphere of panic".<br />These incidents were followed by the desecration of the parish of San Domenico Limete by a "group of about twenty spiteful young people" who "knocked over the tabernacle, looted the altar, broke benches, and tried to set fire to the church. The community of the Oblate Fathers was not spared".<br />Card. Monsengwo connects these facts with the attempt of the Congolese Episcopal Conference to mediate in the implementation of the agreements of San Silvestro and to find a Prime Minister to lead a government of national unity as required by the agreements.<br />"CENCO has only a mediating role", recalls the Cardinal. "Politicians need to acknowledge with humility that their political ambitions leads to the impasse and institutional block. They will assume the responsibility before history".<br />After calling on the authorities to protect the assets of the Church from any further acts of vandalism, the Cardinal concludes by recalling Etienne Tshisekedi, the historic opposition leader who died recently , and fought to the end to give the DRC "peace in justice". <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:01:30 +0100VATICAN - Death of Fr. Galbiati, PIME: he was Secretary General of the PMU and POPFhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61771-VATICAN_Death_of_Fr_Galbiati_PIME_he_was_Secretary_General_of_the_PMU_and_POPFhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61771-VATICAN_Death_of_Fr_Galbiati_PIME_he_was_Secretary_General_of_the_PMU_and_POPFRome - On the evening of Saturday, February 18, Father Fernando Galbiati died in Lecco. He was a missionary in China, twelfth Superior General of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions , General Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union and of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith .<br />Born on November 14, 1932 in Bussero , he entered PIME in Monza on September 1, 1943. He was ordained in Milan by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI, on June 28, 1956, the following year he left for Hong Kong. Here he carries out studies and obtains several diplomas, and becomes a "Qualified Teacher" at the Hong Kong Department of Education. He then obtained a doctorate in Political Science and Economics at the University La Sapienza of Rome, becomes Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford in England and a member of the New York Academy of Science.<br />In Hong Kong he is engaged in the pastoral activity in various parishes and for some years taught philosophy at the Holy Spirit Seminary. He gave a significant contribution in the academic and social field. He founded several groups for visits to families, for financial support, and youth activities. From 1971 to 1975 he was assistant of Mani Tese, participated in the PIME Assembly of Update 1970-71 and at the Ninth General Assembly in which he was elected Superior General . Once his term expired he returned to Hong Kong, but in 1999 was called to go to Rome, first as Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union , then as coordinator of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and as Secretary of the International Society for the Propagation of the Faith . He is also responsible for drafting the new Statute of the Pontifical Mission Societies, published in 2005. In 2006-2007, he was General Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith.<br />After a few years at the PIME General House in Rome, since 2015, for health reasons, he was at the Blessed John Mazzucconi’s House, in Rancio di Lecco, where he died. After the funeral, he was buried in the PIME cemetery in Villa Grugana. <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:43:02 +0100AFRICA/EGYPT - Even the voice "religion" in the application forms for the next censushttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61781-AFRICA_EGYPT_Even_the_voice_religion_in_the_application_forms_for_the_next_censushttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61781-AFRICA_EGYPT_Even_the_voice_religion_in_the_application_forms_for_the_next_censusCairo - For the first time in 30 years, the census of the Egyptian population, conducted by the Central Agency for public monilization and Statistics will also include a field for religious. Abu Bakr Gendy, appointed Head of the Central Agency for public mobilation and Statistics, said that the choice of religion in the census will be optional according to the international norms in the census population. The census will however offer useful elements to verify the real number of the various religious communities. In some areas of Egypt, the substantial increase in the number of Christian communities was not recorded in any way by the local authorities. Since the nineties, offices in charge of census and demographic statistics have not updated the data on the numerical size of the Egyptian Christian community, starting from the Coptic Church, which according to some analysts, in recent decades, has abundantly surpassed ten million. <br /><br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:27:58 +0100AMERICA/ECUADOR - Still waiting for the election results, the Bishops call for truth and transparencyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61779-AMERICA_ECUADOR_Still_waiting_for_the_election_results_the_Bishops_call_for_truth_and_transparencyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61779-AMERICA_ECUADOR_Still_waiting_for_the_election_results_the_Bishops_call_for_truth_and_transparencyQuito - "The final results of every popular election must always reflect the virtues of justice and the value of transparency. Political institutions have to guarantee them and build trust, the foundation of any civilized coexistence and real democratic order. Ecuadorian people do not want to be disappointed". This is what the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference said in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />According to data collected by Fides, on Sunday, February 19, 12 million Ecuadorians went to vote, but we still have to wait for the results of these general elections. A first assessment of the National Electoral Council reports that presidential candidate Lenín Moreno is leading with 39.15% of the votes while Guillermo Lasso has 28,40%. This leaves open the possibility of a runoff. The CNE has asked for five days to officially give the results, but the tension among the population increases. <br /><br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:11:51 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - State of emergency declared in Unity State: 100,000 people at risk of hungerhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61780-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_State_of_emergency_declared_in_Unity_State_100_000_people_at_risk_of_hungerhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61780-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_State_of_emergency_declared_in_Unity_State_100_000_people_at_risk_of_hungerJuba - More than 100,000 people are at risk of hunger in Unity State, in the region of the Upper Nile, South Sudan. The state of food emergency has been declared by the government in Juba and United Nations specialized agencies: FAO, Children Fund, UNICEF and World Food Programme. The cause of the famine is attributed "to the war and the collapse of the economy". The formal declaration of famine means that people have already begun to starve.<br />In recent days the hunger alarm had been launched for Amadi State and Doctors with Africa Cuamm ascertained at least 300 cases of cholera in Yirol East counties and Awerial . According to the UN if the civil war continues, preventing the arrival of humanitarian aid in South Sudan, over 5 and a half million people will suffer from hunger by July. <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:26:03 +0100ASIA/LEBANON - Marine Le Pen in Lebanon: even Middle Eastern Christians must be helped. Meeting with the Grand Mufti canceled, meeting with Maronite Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61776-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_in_Lebanon_even_Middle_Eastern_Christians_must_be_helped_Meeting_with_the_Grand_Mufti_canceled_meeting_with_Maronite_Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61776-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_in_Lebanon_even_Middle_Eastern_Christians_must_be_helped_Meeting_with_the_Grand_Mufti_canceled_meeting_with_Maronite_PatriarchBeirut - The best way to protect Christians in the Middle East consists in the "eradication of radical Islam", while we must avoid policies that encourage the exodus of Middle Eastern Christians from their lands. These are the key concepts so far expressed about the condition of Middle Eastern Christian communities from Marine Le Pen, during the two-day visit that the candidate of the National Front is carrying out in Lebanon. Yesterday, after meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Basil, Marine Le Pen, in some statements relaunched by the local press, counterposed her assessments on the protection of Middle Eastern Christians regarding her political choices attributed to former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who in his opinion urged Middle Eastern Christians "to leave their country and live abroad as refugees. "In my opinion, added Le Pen "this is a dangerous vision for the Christians of the Middle East, and it is not what I want. I want the Christians of the Middle East to live in peace and serenity in their Countries".<br />This morning, Tuesday, February 21, Marine Le Pen canceled a meeting with Lebanon's Grand Mufti, Abdel Latif Derian, after refusing to wear a headscarf for the occasion. <br />The Grand Mufti's press office said that her aides had told her prior to the meeting that they required her to wear a head covering for the meeting. Shortly after she arrived at his office, one of his aides tried to give her a headscarf to put on but she refused to wear it.<br />According to Agenzia Fides, on Tuesday morning, February 21, Marine Le Pen was also received by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, at the patriarchal seat in Bkerké. <br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 12:13:14 +0100ASIA/INDIA - Thousands of victims due to air pollution: for the Church "conscience and action" are neededhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61773-ASIA_INDIA_Thousands_of_victims_due_to_air_pollution_for_the_Church_conscience_and_action_are_neededhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61773-ASIA_INDIA_Thousands_of_victims_due_to_air_pollution_for_the_Church_conscience_and_action_are_neededNew Delhi - Eighteen thousand Indians die every day from direct or indirect causes of air pollution. And the progressive air poisoning is often linked to climate change. This is what a new study published in the scientific journal "The Lancet", reports, which generated a lively debate in India, involving civil society and the Catholic Church. <br />The most polluted cities in the world are Patna and New Delhi, the study notes, reporting 2010 data. Scholars indicate that one of the consequences of exposure to pollutants is the birth of pre-term infants. South Asia is the most affected region, with 1.6 million of pre-term births, nearly half of the world total.<br />Air pollution and climate change are closely linked and must be addressed together, says The Lancet, stating that there is a "potentially catastrophic risk to human health". In addition, according to a World Bank estimate, these phenomena generate a loss of income for India amounting to 38 billion dollars a year. <br />Contradicting some of the reports published in India, The Lancet says that power plants and coal-fired power stations contribute to air pollution and the environment in the amount of 50% of the total.<br />The Minister for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave recently admitted in Parliament that the country spends 70 million rupees each year for air pollution monitoring, in a vast country like India. <br />According to the minister, there are no credible studies to quantify the number of people with lung disease or the number of deaths that are a direct result of air pollution. Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan said: "When pollution hits the lungs, especially in younger children, it can be a killer: it is like a slow poison. We are very concerned, much has been done, but still a lot needs to be done".<br />The study shows that climate change has a significant impact on children's health. An estimated 5.5 million lives were lost in 2013 from diseases associated with air pollution.<br />Speaking to Fides, Fr. Fabian Toppo, professor of theology at the Major Seminary of Calcutta said: "The report is disturbing. The Indian government should act seriously to address the problem. Rapid industrialization is the cause of air pollution. Conscience must be accompanied by action".<br />"Institutions and individuals have a responsibility to work at all levels to reduce climate change and deal with the impact", says to Fides Deepika Singh, Office Coordinator for Climate Change in the Federation of the Episcopal Conferences of Asia. "60% of people in India perceive that climate change is damaging people's lives. The Church is trying to help raise awareness, educate and act in terms of climate change. There is no time to waste, because it is a matter that touches the lives of all, especially the new generations "he concludes. <br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:51:46 +0100ASIA/LEBANON - Marine Le Pen visits Lebanon. Meeting with the Maronite Patriarch on the agendahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61770-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_visits_Lebanon_Meeting_with_the_Maronite_Patriarch_on_the_agendahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/61770-ASIA_LEBANON_Marine_Le_Pen_visits_Lebanon_Meeting_with_the_Maronite_Patriarch_on_the_agendaBeirut - If she becomes the President of France, Marine Le Pen will reconnect official diplomatic relations with Assad’s Syria and will reopen the French embassy in Damascus. On the occasion of her 48-hour visit in the Country of Cedars, the candidate for the Elysee, National Front leader has confirmed her programmatic intentions regarding the Syrian dossier in interviews to the Lebanese press. During her brief trip to Lebanon, Marine Le Pen has already been received by President Michel Aoun in the Presidential Palace in Babda. The agenda of the short trip also includes meetings with Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai, with Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri and politician Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces.<br />In the meeting with President Aoun - refers the Lebanese media - Marine Le Pen said she referred to the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism as a context for collaboration between Lebanon and France, and highlighted the need for more decisive international support that helps institutions and the Lebanese population to cope with the emergency of refugees from Syria and Iraq. <br />Mon, 20 Feb 2017 12:59:49 +0100