Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/BAHRAIN - King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa invites Pope Francis to visit Bahrain - Pope Francis has been officially invited to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain by King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa. The monarch's invitation was brought to the Pope by Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, the King's adviser on diplomatic affairs, who was received at the Vatican on Thursday 25 November by both the Pope and Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to whom he brought the invitation. This is reported by the state news agency of the Kingdom. During the visit to the Vatican, the envoy of the Bahraini monarch also conveyed the Pope's greetings to the Pope, who "played the fundamental and pre-eminent role that Pope Francis played in creating and promoting interreligious dialogue and understanding between different cultures and civilizations, as well as in the spreading the values of human brotherhood and coexistence of all". The monarch endorsed the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together - which was signed on February 4, 2019 in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, and is convinced that on the basis of the principles contained therein, attempts could be made to build "a more prosperous future for all humanity". The official Bahraini news agency also reports the Pope's "sincere thanks" to the monarch of Bahrain for "the kind invitation to visit the kingdom he loves and cherishes," as it is a "model of openness and coexistence between its various social components". <br />The Pope - as stated in the official Bahraini report - also expressed his appreciation "for the wisdom of His Majesty King Hamed and his constant concern for the promotion of the culture of dialogue and tolerance" and praised his initiatives "aimed at consolidating and to spread the principles of coexistence and fraternity among all countries and peoples". <br />The territory of the Kingdom of Bahrain consists of an archipelago of 33 islands on the west coast of the Persian Gulf. The country ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family was formerly an emirate that was converted into a constitutional monarchy in 2002. Bahrain established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1999. The first Catholic church to be built on the Persian Gulf in modern times is the Church dedicated to the Sacred Heart, which was built in 1939 in the Bahraini capital Manama on land donated by the Emir of Bahrain. In 2013 the Catholic Church received from King Ahmad bin Isa an additional 9,000 square meters of land in the parish of Awali, where construction of the Kingdom's Catholic Cathedral, Our Lady, began in spring 2014 of Arabia will be dedicated. Bahrain, along with Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is part of the Vicariate Apostolic North Arabia. <br />Fri, 26 Nov 2021 13:19:55 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Bishop of Oyo at the end of the Year of Saint Joseph: "You become good parents through prayer, family and society" - "To be good parents, one must educate oneself through prayer, knowledge of the word of God, information and counseling", said Mgr. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, Bishop of the diocese of Oyo, in reference to the training of young people who will one day be parents. In order for society to want to overcome the current problems of crime and youth unrest, said the prelate, it needs parents who will help young people to become good parents themselves in the future. "Many young people who are good parents have learned from their homes, their own parents and families. This is the ideal everyday environment in which to learn the virtues of parenting," the bishop said. Unfortunately", he emphasizes, "many young people are unable to take advantage of this opportunity. That is why the churches, schools and society must come to their aid. Good parents become good parents by the example given by adults". "Our young people need to become parents like Mary and Joseph", said the Ordinary of Oyo in his message "Like Joseph and Mary: as the Year of St. Joseph is closing" launched on the occasion of its conclusion on 8 December, of the special year dedicated to St. Joseph. "The Church must guide young people to understand how love for Scripture, prayer and obedience to the Word of God are essential for learning the virtues of parenthood. Constant reference must be made to how obedience to God's Word helped Joseph and Mary excel as parents. The Church must teach young people that life is sacred and inviolable, and that every child is made in the image and likeness of Almighty God". In his message, Bishop Badejo also speaks of the role of schools as "a fundamental place where young people learn to be parents". "It is not just a place where you can acquire knowledge, but also a place where you can get information and education about life and society in general". The local community could also be helpful "by providing good role models". "As we say in our country: "Parents have children, but it takes whole villages to raise them". But he concludes with Mahatma Gandhi, he emphasizes, "there is no school that is decent home equals, and no teacher equal to virtuous parents". <br />Fri, 26 Nov 2021 13:08:03 +0100VATICAN - Pope to Pauline Family: Preach Christ with prayer and all available media City - "This anniversary is an opportunity for the Church, and especially for all of you, to remember the great works that the Holy Spirit performed in and through Blessed Giacomo Alberione and the importance of his charism in the present context and perspective of the Church. With farsighted vision your Founder knew how to embody for the 20th century the necessity that the ‘Word of God might spread rapidly’ by using and appreciating the most effective tools and manners-of-expression offered by technological", said Pope Francis in his address to the delegates and members of the Pauline family, whom he received in audience on the 50th anniversary of the death of their founder, Blessed Giacomo Alberione on November 25, 2021. <br />In the audience, Pope Francis recalled "the figure of this exemplary witness of the Word", and underlined the importance of prayer, from which consecrated persons receive "the ability to examine the 'signs of the times' in relation to the apostolic projects to adapt to the situations and needs of the people of today "and invited them to look to the apostle Paul, whom the Blessed Giacomo Alberione regarded as" the true founder", "the inspirer, father and example, who in total devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and his gospel must be imitated". In this context, the Pope emphasized "the passion for the Gospel, because the Gospel cannot be lived without passion. The Gospel of words alone does not work: the Gospel comes from the heart, from passion ...". Finally, the Pope urged the Pauline family to appreciate the prophetic value of the testimony of their founder and "following his example and intercession" today "to use the media as a 'pulpit' for you, as he himself said, may Jesus Christ be made known to the men of our time with the means of our time". Finally, he reiterated the invitation not to forget prayer, which "is the most important means of communication", invoking the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles: "May she accompany you on the streets of the world as apostles and apostles of the Gospel, always open to "learning from ordinary people", as Blessed Giacomo Alberione used to say". <br />Fri, 26 Nov 2021 12:53:25 +0100ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - A relic of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon donated to Burkina Faso, a sign of missionary communion - A relic of Korea's first Catholic priest, St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, was donated by the Korean Church and kept in St. Joseph Parish in the Archdiocese of Koupéla, Burkina Faso. As reported to Fides by the Communication Office of the Archdiocese of Seoul, the parish church of St. Joseph in Koupéla was recently renovated thanks to the funds collected by the faithful of the Yeouido parish in the Archdiocese of Seoul, as part of a missionary cooperation and twinning project. <br />Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung presented the relics of Saint Andrew Kim to Bishop Julien Kaboré, from the Archdiocese of Koupéla, on November 23. Bishop Job Yobi Koo, Seoul Episcopal Vicar for Overseas Missionaries, attended the event expressing gratitude and allowing the Korean-French translation. <br />Cardinal Yeom expressed the joy of being able to deliver a relic of the remains of St. Andrew Kim to an African church, precisely during the Jubilee of the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Andrew Kim, celebrated from November 29, 2020 to November 27, 2021. The Prelate said: "I am very happy to have the opportunity to build fraternal solidarity between the Catholic Church of Korea and Burkina Faso through Saint Andrew Kim. I believe this will allow us to be more deeply united in the love of God", as a permanent sign of communion and missionary cooperation. "It is a great honor to keep the remains of Saint-André Kim in a cathedral in Burkina Faso. It is a sign of unity and communion of the saints. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Cardinal Yeom for his consideration. and his support on behalf of Mgr Gabriel Sayaogo, Archbishop of Koupéla", declared Mgr Julien Kaboré, saying he was" deeply touched by the history of martyrdom in the Korean Catholic Church". <br />Bishop Kaboré had known the history of the Korean martyrs and lived the jubilee year, striving to establish this special spiritual link between the Church of Korea and the Church of Burkina Faso by donating a relic. Bishop Julien Kaboré concelebrated Mass with Bishop Job Koo and also met the parishioners of Yeouido to express in person his gratitude and the thanks of the local Church of Koupéla. <br />Fri, 26 Nov 2021 12:16:26 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Good politics, selfless service and social dialogue will bring forth the fruits of peace and justice - "Hope is reborn in our hearts at the beginning of the season of Advent", write the Colombian Bishops at the beginning of the message published at the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent which prepares for Christmas. "The year which is ending - they point out – has been a period of lights and shadows: pandemic, reappearance of forms of armed violence, marches, social protest, economic recovery, concrete gestures of solidarity, return to work and classrooms, among the others". <br />By lighting the first candle of the Advent wreath, we are illuminated "by the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, which encourages us to strip ourselves of the garment of affliction and to put on the clothes of the feast with the conviction that, through the practice of good politics, that of selfless service and permanent social dialogue, the fruits of peace and justice that each of us Colombians needs will germinate". <br />The message sent to Fides, signed by Mgr. Luis José Rueda Aparicio, Archbishop of Bogotá and President of the Episcopal Conference; Msgr. Omar Alberto Sánchez Cubillos, OP, Archbishop of Popayán and Vice-President; Luis Manuel Alí Herrera, Auxiliary Bishop of Bogota and Secretary General, stresses that this social dialogue must be "frank and persistent, based on the awareness that we are, as Colombians, one people, in and through our diversities, with a wealth and a natural and cultural heritage". <br />In this coming new year, the Bishops encourage Colombians to take up the challenges of "a political debate that will allow us to build our democracy, recognizing that we have a social responsibility towards each other", and invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary so that she helps us "to continue building a project for a nation based on the common good". <br />Fri, 26 Nov 2021 11:51:45 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - A school of "mission" thanks to the virtual course organized by the Pontifical Mission Societies - The basic missionary formation course organized by the Missionary Formation Center of the Pontifical Mission Societies of Venezuela will begin next January. It is aimed at those who are just starting out but also for those who want to update themselves. The training will take place on a digital platform which, in asynchronous mode or in presence, will offer a first stage of missionary training which can then be deepened until the Diploma in Missiology. <br />On the one hand, the course will have a theoretical basis, with an in-depth study of biblical and theological sources, on the other hand, it will seek to offer an overview of the mission in today's world, drawing attention to the delicate and important role that the Church has on this front, being called to "become" missionary not only in the most remote geographical and human spaces, but also in the daily places of the life of believers and in cultural places. "The objective of the school, which is managed under the coordination of the Missionary Formation Center, is to offer a basic model of basic formation to be reproduced in the groups of the Youth Mission, the diocesan Secretariats, the parishes and in all the realities that need it by transferring the material and the methodology learned", explains Father Ricardo Elías Guillén, National Director of the Venezuelan PMS. The course, divided into two levels, will start on January 18 with the first level, registrations are open until mid-December <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">PMS Venezuela website</a>Fri, 26 Nov 2021 11:41:52 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - Political blocs "compete" in initiatives against illegal expropriation of houses and land to the detriment of Christians - In Iraq antagonistic political blocs are also competing on the thorny issue of real estate illegally stolen from Christian owners in recent decades and the initiatives implemented to return illicitly stolen properties to legitimate owners. <br />In recent days, the Iraqi media have given new prominence to the campaign promoted by the Sadrist movement in favor of Christian citizens and Mandaeans who in recent years had suffered arbitrary and illegitimate usurpations of houses and land by individuals or organized groups. Hakim al Zamili, a representative of the Party headed by Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr, who won the political elections on October 10, was also reporting on the developments of the initiative. <br />In particular, updates on the campaign launched by the Sadrist movement concerned the restitution to Christian owners of about 30 previously illegally usurped properties in the Baghdad area. Journalistic reports also gave an account of upcoming, similar operations planned in the Iraqi provinces of Basra, Nineveh and Kirkuk. Recent movements on the Iraqi political scene have clearly shown that the defense of the rights of Christian owners is not an exclusive of the Sadrist party. On Monday, November 22, Judge Faiq Zidan, President of the Supreme Judicial Council - the highest administrative body of the ordinary judiciary - received a delegation from the "Bablonia Movement", a political group that obtained, on October 10, four of the five reserved seats in the elections to parliamentarians of Christian faith. The delegation included Ryan al-Kildani, Secretary General of the Movement, and Evan Faeq Yakoub Jabro, former minister for refugees and migration in the outgoing government led by Mustafa al Kadhimi. During the meeting - the sources of the Supreme Judicial Council report - the interview focused exclusively on the problems relating to real estate owned by Christian owners and on the measures to be taken to protect their property rights. <br />On that occasion, the representatives of the Babylon Movement also expressed their full confidence in the work of Judge Zaidan. <br />At the beginning of 2021, as reported by Agenzia Fides , the Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al Sadr had ordered the creation of a Committee in charge of collecting and verifying news and complaints regarding cases of illegal expropriation of real estate property suffered in recent years by Christian and Mandaean owners in various regions of the country. The intention of the operation launched by the Shiite leader was to restore justice and end violations of the property rights of the "Christian brothers", including those for which members of the Shiite movement led by al Sadr were responsible.<br />The request to report cases of illegal expropriations suffered was also addressed to families of Christians who had left the Country in recent years, with the request to send the committee by the end of next Ramadan. <br />The phenomenon of illegal abduction of Christian homes began thanks to connivance and cover-up on the part of corrupt and dishonest officials, at the service of individual or organised gangs of impostors and swindlers . Such “legalised” robbery of properties belonging to Christian families was closely connected with the exodus en masse of Iraqi Christians, which has intensified since 2003, following US led military interventions to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein. Swindlers took possession of homes and land left empty relying on the fact that there is little probability that the owners will ever return to reclaim the properties in question. <br />Now, the moves of the "Babylonian Movement" let us imagine that even the protection of the properties of Iraqi Christians may soon become a terrain of competition between opposing political groups and blocs. A "competition" that does not however seem to free itself from the temptation and illusions - cultivated in different environments and ways - of making the present and future of Christians in Iraq and the Middle East fully depend on the guaranteed availability of access to money and real estate and from the claims of its socio-political relevance. <br />Forgetting - as Palestinian Archbishop Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins recently suggested in prophetic words - that the questions and also the uncertainties about the future of Christians in the Middle East "are not primarily a question of numbers, even if numbers are important, but they are a question of faith". <br />Thu, 25 Nov 2021 13:23:46 +0100AMERICA/ARGENTINA - "Contemporary migratory flows constitute a true missionary frontier": National Collection for Aid to Migrants and Refugees Aires - Under the motto of Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants 2021 "Towards an ever wider 'we' ", on November 27 and 28 the National Collection of Aid to Migrants and Refugees will be held in all parishes, chapels, missionary centers and Catholic schools in Argentina. It is organized by CEMI , which depends on the Argentine Episcopal Conference. In the note sent to Fides on this occasion, it is recalled that "the pandemic has made us live one of the most painful crises of recent times. Among those who have suffered the most from its consequences are migrants. Without a safe roof, without the security of a plate of food, with very few opportunities to get a decent job. CEMI has been working for some time to be able to give a concrete answer to their needs". Since 1951, CEMI has had the mission of promoting and guaranteeing, in the light of the word of God and the Magisterium of the Church, the dignity and human rights of people in situations of human mobility, offering them concrete opportunities for insertion and participation in the Argentine social fabric. Through the national collection, about 5,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers will be assisted and accompanied by CEMI and its pastoral delegations scattered throughout the country. "The history of Christianity teaches us that from primitive communities to today's new evangelization, dialogue and interculturality continue to be an opportunity for growth in our Church - writes Father Flavio Lauria, CS, director of the CEMI magazine "Migracion" in the last issue -. Dialogue, encounter, hospitality then become paths for a renewed evangelical proposal. Contemporary migratory flows constitute a true missionary frontier, a privileged opportunity for proclaim Christ and the Gospel. We must concretely bear witness to the Christian faith through charity and in profound respect for other religious beliefs. A better future can emerge from this commitment, a future, Francis tells us, "in color" built in harmony among many different peoples, through intercultural relations that create full harmony among all peoples". Among the aids made available to the communities to encourage the collection, there is a message from Pope Francis, a poster and a video to be disseminated on social media. Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:51:12 +0100AFRICA/SUDAN - The President of the Bishops' Conference: "We hope for a new beginning" - "We hope that it is truly a new beginning. We must thank the international community for the support given to the civilian government, the Sudanese demonstrators and all those people who worked so that the Prime Minister can be reinstated. We are facing with yet another compromise between the military and Hamdok, who declared that he had agreed to return to the leadership of the executive, in order not to disperse what was achieved in the previous two years, putting an end to the violence and the bloodshed that had been going on since the October 25 coup". This is the comment made to Fides by Mgr. Yunan Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid and President of the Bishops' Conference of Sudan and South Sudan, the day after the announcement of a new pact signed between civilians and military . On November 21, Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok, under house arrest since the first day of the coup and released only on Saturday, November 20, announced that he had reached an agreement with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, army chief and leader of the putschists, to form a "technical government". The Bishop noted: "Hamodk will set up a new technical executive which should lead the country peacefully towards elections in 2023. For weeks, the military junta has been under pressure from the international community, which has been asking for Hamdok to be released and reinstated as Prime Minister. In the meantime, more than forty civilians have died, all among the demonstrators, killed by the security forces in a month of military power". The population has welcomed the news of the agreement with different reactions: there are those who breathe a sigh of relief and are already thinking about the composition of a new government with at least 50% of civilians and those who, on the other hand, cry out to betrayal. "The people - concludes Mgr. Yunan Tombe Trille - are divided. Some do not want any kind of agreement with the military, who withdrew only under pressure from the international community and did not even express words of repentance for the killing of innocent people; others do not want to give the Prime Minister time to work in peace and lead the country into the international community. Now there is only a first agreement. The military will retain all the privileges and power held during the previous dictatorship and will hardly leave them to favor a path of democratic transition. Experience shows that, in the past, many agreements were signed which were then rejected by the military. The hope is that the nation can experience a new beginning in the name of peace and democracy". Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:13:25 +0100AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Explosion at the entrance to the headquarters of the Bishops' Conference Paz - The General Secretariat of the Bolivian Bishops 'Conference reported the explosion of a bomb, which occurred early in the morning of Wednesday 24 November, at the entrance to the building that houses the headquarters of the Bishops' Conference, without causing consequences to people, but only damage. Father Ben Hur Soto, CEB Secretary for Pastoral Care, issued a statement entitled "Peace be with you" . "Although the material damage to the structure is repairable - says the statement sent to Fides -, we urge those responsible to consider that their action could have harmed innocent people. As a Catholic Church, we call once again for respect for life and for a fraternal encounter between brothers and sisters". The CEB also released images from a security camera showing a person depositing an artefact at the entry door and then disappearing, while the detonation took place 20 seconds later. The person activating the explosive wears a suit similar to those used for pandemic biosecurity, has his head covered with a hood, and uses synthetic gloves. While there is no indication or claim as to the origin of the attack, many believe it was the result of the controversy surrounding the Bolivian Church's position on the recent case of an 11-year-old girl who became pregnant as a result of violence. The Bishops urged the authorities to respect and protect the right to life of the child victim of violence, as well as that of the pregnant child, because "both lives must be protected". They also recalled that "no one can be forced to abort, even given the seriousness of sexual violence, because abortion is a crime in Bolivia". On October 27, a group of demonstrators who claimed to defend girls who were victims of violence and challenged the position of the Church, gathered in front of the CEB headquarters and painted the walls. <br />Thu, 25 Nov 2021 12:02:03 +0100AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Catholic Diocese of Adigrat warns of current impact of war in Tigray - "Like all Tigrayans, the Catholic Church has been seriously affected by this genocidal war waged against us by the local army and by foreign armies. Physical, psychological and spiritual attacks on our laity, priests, nuns and on our structures, places of worship, parish residences, schools, health centers, offices. Among other things, 14 vehicles of the Catholic Diocese, desks, computer devices, solar panels, laboratory equipment, medicines were looted". After months of silence due to the total blocking of communications, the Church of Tigray renews its call for an immediate peaceful solution to the conflict, which has turned into a humanitarian crisis. In the statement sent to Fides, the bishop of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat Msgr. Tesfaselassie Medhin stressed that people sufferfrom epidemics, chronic diseases and new diseases. "The government's response has been to engage in an ethnic cleansing war, which has deprived the country of everything from humanitarian aid to the ability to access any basic services, such as medicine, electricity, telephone, internet, air and land transport, etc…" <br />The Prelate reiterated with force the firm opposition of the Catholic Church of Tigray to all these atrocities and launched a repeated appeal to the authorities, to partner organizations in Ethiopia and abroad. "What is happening is that instead of trying to find a peaceful solution, in recent weeks and days the process of destruction is escalating". Msgr. Medhin referred in particular to the detention of the Provincial of the Congregation of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Addis Ababa, as well as to the detention of members of the community and of the staff of their offices , as well as the detention of all Tigrayans in the capital and throughout Ethiopia. "We call for all atrocities and crimes to be investigated by an independent international body, for an immediate end to the bombing of civilians, ethnic cleansing, detentions of Tigrines and church members. We call on the Ethiopian Catholic Church, located in Addis Ababa and the rest of the regions, to come out of its silence and ask for justice against the persecutions and atrocities that have been inflicted on Tigrayans, priests, nuns, laity at the service of the faithful in respective ecclesiastical jurisdictions". <br />Msgr. Tesfaselassie insists that the commission that was supposed to investigate war crimes and the ongoing genocide has so far failed to describe the reality or to do justice to the principles of the commission. "They have never visited the affected localities, places that we know, without identifying or meeting the surviving victims, and seem to fail to recognize these atrocities as real war crimes and genocides. On the contrary, they are real crimes confirmed not only by the victims and the government of Tigray, but recognized and attested by numerous organizations and independent media around the world. The report by the Ethiopian Commission for Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is incomplete and does not reveal the truth. We demand an end to the aerial bombardments which have already destroyed lives, property, civilians and institutions". The Bishop concluded by expressing his full solidarity, sharing and assuring his prayers: "We stand in solidarity with all the people who suffer in all regions of Ethiopia and we ensure our spiritual closeness as the Catholic Church of Tigray". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">The full video</a>Thu, 25 Nov 2021 11:28:38 +0100ASIA/VIETNAM - The celebration of the Vietnamese martyrs and the example of martyrdom, alive and necessary today Chi Minh City - On November 24, the universal Church celebrates in the liturgical calendar the feast of Andre Dung Lac and the Vietnamese martyrs: their example and heroic stories are vividly relived in the churches of the 26 dioceses of Vietnam which solemnly celebrated the liturgical feast yesterday with the Vietnamese parishes of the faithful of the diaspora in the world. On this important day, the faithful sang songs of praise to the martyrs and the churches rang the bells with pride and joy. Vietnamese Catholics love to dedicate noble sentiments and prayers to martyrs, recognized as faithful intimately united to the heart of the Son of God, who despised death and worldly interests and, faced with death, were not afraid to choose God. The 117 martyrs canonized by St. John Paul II in 1988 are only a very small number compared to the more than 100,000 people who were imprisoned and painfully died in Vietnam under the Nguyen dynasty during fierce persecutions between the 17th and 19th centuries. They were Vietnamese and foreign bishops, priests, religious and parishioners. They did not want to be commemorated by the world, nor to be honored by posterity: blessed with divine grace, they found happiness and victory in God himself. They died in the heat of genuine faith. <br />"The mystery of martyrdom is a testimony of God, martyrdom does not mean the opposition between atheism and theism, nor a conflict between different religions. Martyrdom is understood simply as a testimony of the noble values of the Gospel, a testimony of the saving love of Jesus", said Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang, of the Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City, yesterday, November 24, during the liturgical celebration of the Vietnamese martyrs. "Martyrdom is not only a mystery, but also a grace. The martyrs presented themselves before the high officials as a firm witness to the faith and love of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The martyrs were ordinary people, even ignorant peasants but, in front of the king and the high imperial officials, they reacted in a very wise, judicious and confident manner. This was a grace of God, not the work of man. They too were human beings in flesh and blood, as weak as us. If they could endure all the lashes, the chains and the cruel tortures, it was truly the grace of God and his power, which dwelled in them, that made it possible". The Prelate concluded: "The spirit of martyrdom is still necessary in today's civilized world where there are forms of persecution: at times it is an external violence or an internal psychological pressure. That is why everyone must witness to God in today's society by always choosing the right values of the Gospel, by living according to the Word of God, by not letting bad events shake our faith and separate us from the love of Jesus. The attractions of worldly life are flattering, but we must say categorically "no", and not compromise with evil. The martyrs remind us to always be faithful to the law of God: today we are called to follow their example and the courageous witness of faith, for which they suffered pain, in order to obtain eternal life". <br />Martyr Andre Dung Lac was a Vietnamese priest who was executed by beheading in 1839. On his way to the place of execution, he prayed in silence and sang aloud words of praise to God. Before the execution, the executioner approached him and told him: "We do not know what crime you committed, but we are only carrying out the order, please understand". With a big smile on his face, Father Lac replied: "The commander has ordered, so do it". And before giving his head to the executor's knife, he asked for the last few minutes of quiet to pray. "Your Majesty, I have served for over 30 years under three different kings and am always faithful to you as a citizen and patriot with all my heart; but today I will accept any punishment from you for not betraying my faith in Jesus Christ, as long as I am faithful to him", said Michael Ho Dinh Hy, one of the Vietnamese martyrs who held a high position in the imperial court. He did not give up his faith for worldly prestige, but preferred to remain faithful to God even if it cost him his life, as it did in 1857. <br />Despite the king's temptations, he remained steadfast in his faith and tried to live like Jesus Christ, refusing all the material privileges and glories given by kings. Martyrs such as John Théophane Vénard of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris , when arrested and tried in court, were invited to stand on the cross to be acquitted, but they categorically refused. John Theoane Venard answered unequivocally: "I adore the Cross and have preached for all of my life the Cross, the way of love, how could I irreverently trample on the Cross now? My life would not be worthy of my faith in God if I denied this belief". He was martyred in Tonkin in 1861. <br />Thu, 25 Nov 2021 11:09:19 +0100AMERICA/URUGUAY - The Bishops reflect on the life of the communities and urge them to resume participation in Sunday Mass - During the recent plenary assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay , which took place from November 10th to 16th in the "Jesús Buen Pastor" retreat house in Florida, the new board was elected for the next three years . Bishop Arturo Fajardo of Salto was confirmed as Chairman, Archbishop Daniel Sturla of Montevideo, was elected Vice-President and Bishop Heriberto Bodeant of Canelones was elected Secretary General. The heads of the departments, commissions and offices of the CEU were also newly elected during the general assembly. During the meeting the bishops discussed the most important aspects of the life of the Catholic parishes and met some representatives of the various realities. Topics on the agenda included: caring for elderly and sick priests; Initiatives for the benefit of the country's entrepreneurs to promote sustainable companies that base their work on human dignity and the common good; the programs implemented by Caritas Uruguay to promote people in the areas of prison pastoral care, peace work, addiction prevention and social pastoral care; the new teaching programs of the Catholic University; the academic training of pastoral agents, granting an academic title that takes into account their theological, pastoral and pedagogical formation. A day of reflection saw the presence of the diocesan referents for the Synod 2021 - 2023, during which the synodal spirituality was deepened, the path taken by all dioceses was presented and the dates for the various phases of the synodal preparation were planned. The way to prepare the Church Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean was also analyzed. The bishops welcomed the fact that the churches' capacities for liturgical celebrations had increased again, allowing more believers to participate. They therefore call on the communities to continue on this path and to resume the presence of the people at the celebrations, especially at Sunday mass. <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:33:54 +0100AFRICA/SUDAN - A new phase of "government experts": hope for a return to democracy - The coup in Sudan, which forcibly overturned the transition council established in August 2019 in the wake of the so-called "Sudanese Spring", ended less than a month later. On Sunday, November 21, Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok, who had been under house arrest until the day before, announced as a free man an agreement with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan - army chief and leader of the coup leaders - to form an "government of experts" This opens a new phase that gives hope to restore a democratic transition path triggered in the first months of 2019 when, without particular bloodshed, the "Sudanese revolution" - largely carried out by women and young people - put an end to the regime by Omar al-Bashir. The dictator, who came to power in a 1989 coup supported by the extremist leader Hassan al-Turabi and stayed in power for 30 years in Sudan, immediately made his autocratic and disrespectful intentions clear to the world. The agreement reached threatens to fail immediately: twelve ministers of the interim government, including the influential Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the foreign ministry and daughter of the famous Sadiq al-Mahdi, resigned in "protest against the agreement with the military" signed. Meanwhile, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets an hour after the agreement was announced to express their dislike of the army and, for the first time, Hamdok, who is considered a "traitor". "There is little confidence that Hamdok can reform a new executive branch with 50% civilians and get through this phase, a local observer who prefers to remain anonymous told Fides the failure to establish a dictatorship in Sudan is good news, but too many questions remain as to who will take over the scepter from now on". The month in which the coup took place, in addition to political aftermath, leaves a heavy legacy: more than 40 deaths, a far higher number of wounded and mass arrests. "The fact that the old rulers hang around in Khartoum or exercise their influence", the observer continues, "arouses many fears; in the new equilibrium it will be necessary to understand who will sit in government". The people in question include Salah Gosh, former director of national security, charged with crimes against humanity and now living in exile in Egypt, as well as Mohamed Hamdan "Hemeti", former leader of the Janjawid, a paramilitary group who committed the massacres and accused of war crimes. There are also fears that Omar al-Bashir, who is about to be released from prison and has never left the political arena, will return. Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:27:36 +0100ASIA/HOLY LAND - “Work is love made visible”. Women in Holy Land give life to the "interreligious" Christmas Market - Small pieces of jewelery and crockery, cosmetics and fashion accessories, sweets and local specialties. But also icons, ceramics, organic jams, candles are the many gift ideas that can be found on Friday, November 27 at the "Christmas Bazaar", at Abraham's House , in East Jerusalem, in Silwan neighborhood, south of the Old Town.<br />At that structure, managed by the Secours catholique association , stalls and exhibition spaces will be set up for one day for women's handcrafts, born from the dedication of women belonging to different nationalities and faith communities, mainly residents in Silwan and in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. In the Bazaar there will also be a space for articles produced in the monasteries by the nuns of many female religious congregations. During the opening hours of the Christmas Market, also marked by convivial occasions, concerts and small artistic performances, women belonging to different conditions, nationalities and communities of faith, will spend the whole day together, to get to know each other better and to discover their common destiny: to put their know-how at the service of their community or their family to offer them a dignified life. <br />"All these nuns, all these mothers, sisters and daughters" writes Florence Budry on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, presenting the initiative "proudly present their work, the result of their imagination and talent, after sometimes long hours of vigilance, seeking perfection while already thinking of the buyer's satisfaction". <br />The initiative hosted by Abraham's House also acquires importance as it returns to re-propose that residence as a space for meeting and friendship between people belonging to communities of different faiths and nationalities, after the unfortunate event that occurred at the end of October, when Israeli policemen and plainclothes agents raided the House, abruptly interrupting a festival of cultural activities prosecuted as "illegal" by virtue of their alleged direct traceability to the Palestinian National Authority. The episode, which occurred on Tuesday, October 26 , provoked the reaction of the Assembly of the Heads of the Catholic Churches of the Holy Land, which in a statement expressed "concern" at the "repeated hostile and repressive acts" implemented in the Holy City by the Israeli authorities "towards everything that is considered Palestinian". <br />Abraham's House offers hospitality to pilgrims and supports initiatives in favor of Palestinian families residing in the area. Like the Saint-Anne Church in the old city, this building enjoys the "protection" of the French authorities. <br />On October 26th, a three-day cultural festival co-sponsored by the Palestinian National Theater, the National Conservatory of Music and the Mobile Theater opened here. Sponsored by the United Nations and organizations from France and Austria, also included the creation of theatrical and musical workshops aimed at young Palestinians living in the area. According to diplomatic sources cited by international agencies, plainclothes police and other personnel forcibly interrupted the activity and showed the person in charge of the House an order to cancel the activities in progress, signed by Omer Barlev, Israeli Minister for Public Security. The order provided for the cancellation of the Festival as it was "supported and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority without written permission". <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 13:16:47 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - Arson attacks in schools: bishops want to better accompany students - "We need to review ways of maintaining discipline in our schools through deliberate coordinated efforts of correction, mentorship, counselling and effective chaplaincy ministry", said the bishops of the Bishops' Conference of Kenya on the arson that continue to occur in schools across the country. "Parents should be more involved and sensitized in the educational process", reads the note from the KCCB sent to Fides. The episodes referred to by the prelates have led to the closure of dozens of educational institutions in the country, damage and loss of property. According to the statement, the possible causes behind the arson, include drug abuse, peer pressure and other stresses exerted on learners by the compressed academic calendar. "We appeal to learners to raise their grievances in constructive ways and to desist from destroying their classrooms, dormitories and other property in their schools" In a spirit of communion, Church leaders have called on the Ministry of Education, the Teachers' Service Commission to all interested parties, including churches that sponsor schools "to have regular consultative fora to address emerging issues", adding that the role of sponsors includes among others 'values, morals and enhancing a conducive environment for learning in institutions of learning'. For her part, the Catholic Church continues to advocate the promotion of appropriate counseling and spiritual support programs, which are considered essential for all educational institutions. The prelates also suggested that boards of directors, principals and school officials "be empowered and assisted to deal with cases of extreme indiscipline" and that "all must make a conscious, visible and effective effort to eliminate the 'access to alcohol and drugs in schools'. " <br />"In addition to the lack of discipline, we must address the issues of worship and radicalization in schools, as well as the challenges related to mental health", declared the Bishops, who appealed to students to express their complaints constructively, knowing that they are loved and cared for and that education is the key to their future. The prelates urged everyone involved "to listen to the students and to take care of their problems". Church leaders are calling on Kenyans to keep faith and hope alive despite the many challenges the country is facing, including "political campaigns that started ahead of schedule, unfair electoral practices including fraud and manipulation of upcoming general elections". <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 12:51:22 +0100ASIA/INDIA - The Pontifical Mission Societies present their charism and initiatives at the National Meeting of Major Seminaries - The National Meeting of all the Rectors of the Indian Seminaries took place in Bangalore, at the National Biblical Catechetical & Liturgical Center. About 90 Rectors gathered for the usual annual appointment in November in which a large space was dedicated to the Pontifical Mission Societies. Father Ambrose Pitchaimuthu, National Director of the PMS of India, gave a detailed presentation of the four Pontifical Mission Societies. "I had the opportunity to explain the structure of the PMS at an international, continental , national, regional and diocesan level - says Father Father Pitchaimuthu -. Particular attention was paid to the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle , as it is directly involved in the formation of seminarians, priests, professors and religious. The history and mission of POSPA were the subject of a further study". The meeting was also an opportunity to invite the Rectors to include a weekly prayer intention for all four PMS, to introduce the founders to the seminarians to draw inspiration from their biographies, to include a lesson on the PMS in the Course of Pastoral Care for Deacons and to include the experience of a missionary during missiology lessons. To promote and support the mission of POSPA, the Rectors were asked to involve professors, priests, former students, seminarians and religious more so that they can be the first witnesses of the benefit received and also to encourage professors and seminarians to participate in the special offering on the Day desired by the Pope. <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:57:22 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Human rights violations have intensified in Chocò and western Antioquia instead of decreasing Fe de Antioquia - "Unfortunately, the cry of the communities has not been heard and, consequently, the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have intensified instead of decreasing, therefore only a global humanitarian action will be able to respond to the scourges that occur in the Chocó department and in western Antioquia". This is the complaint contained in the report that summarizes the results of the six Humanitarian Missions carried out during this year 2021 in 11 municipalities of the Chocó department and in some municipalities of western Antioquia, by the Catholic Church and other Churches, by ethnic-territorial organizations, international humanitarian workers, institutions and social organizations. The humanitarian crisis that this part of the Colombian territory has been experiencing for a long time is serious and complex, highlighted the organizations that participated in the Missions during a meeting with the media. "The results of these missions, their reports, requests and recommendations - is written in the document sent to Fides - constitute not only an action to inform and make known what is happening in the affected territories, but should be binding on both armed protagonists and for the State, as it is a question of guaranteeing and protecting the life and survival of the civilian population who find themselves in the midst of the conflict". Humanitarian Missions were carried out at the request of communities and ethnic authorities. The delegations visited the territories most affected by the armed conflict, listened to and comforted the people, noting the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law suffered. The report underlines that having carried out six Humanitarian Missions in 2021 in the most impoverished territories of the country, "is an indication of the serious crisis caused by the reconfiguration of the armed conflict, the abandonment of the state and the slow progress of the Peace Agreement". <br />The participants in the Humanitarian Missions then made a series of requests to resolve the serious crisis. Among these: they ask the armed protagonists to respect the norms of international humanitarian law; urge the Colombian government to resume the path of political dialogue and negotiation with all illegal armed groups; call for the right to free mobility and safety of women leaders, leaders, communities and organizations to be guaranteed; the fundamental right of all displaced and confined persons must be guaranteed to a minimum; it is urgent to fully address the serious humanitarian, social, economic and environmental crisis that the territories of Chocó and Antioquia are going through; call on the national government to firmly implement the 2016 Peace Agreement and to maintain the option of a negotiated solution to the armed conflict. <br />They then ask the international community, international organizations and human rights defense organizations in general, to continue to make the humanitarian crisis visible and to put pressure on the national government to obtain effective guarantees of human, ethnic and territorial rights. <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:46:16 +0100ASIA/CHINA - "Me and my seminary": the seminary in Beijing celebrates 40 years of commitment to priesthood formation - "Me and my seminary" is the theme of the competition organized for the seminarians of the diocese of Beijing, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Seminary. The competition took place on Sunday, November 21, solemnity of Christ King of the Universe, with a limited presence, due to sanitary measures, of priests, teachers and also lay people, who have always accompanied the vocational journey of seminarians through prayer and concrete help. The seminarians retraced the past, recounted the present and imagined the future, sharing certain themes such as "My personal history with my seminary", "The seminary in my eyes". ... "Glory to the Lord, do good to the people, at the service of the people": with this motto, the Seminary of the diocese of Beijing has covered a 40-year path in the formation of vocations, preparing priests for the diocese of Beijing but also for many other sister dioceses, especially in the peripheral and more remote areas. In fact, most of the seminarians who studied here are not from Beijing. Today, some have returned to their dioceses to carry out local evangelization, others have had the opportunity to continue their ongoing formation, even abroad, and still others are involved in the pastoral care of the parishes of Beijing. <br />In particular, the parishioners of the parish of Beijing dedicated to St. Michael - which was once the chapel of the seminary, then became a parish in 2003 due to the pastoral needs of the region, and also a place of pastoral formation for seminarians - consider seminarians as their children. From books to food, to fruit and vegetables: their offerings are not limited to the period of major feasts or to the Day for Vocations, but are daily, because they are convinced that the seminary is the heart of the diocese and the seminarians are the future of the Church. <br />During the last World Day of Prayer for Vocations, despite the fact that the physical presence of the faithful was impossible due to the pandemic, almost all the parish priests pledged to mobilize parishioners to spiritually and financially support the formation of vocations. In 1980, shortly after the reopening of the Church, the preparatory seminary of the diocese of Beijing resumed its activities in the small courtyard of the parish of the Immaculate Conception, the church built by the Jesuit missionary, Father Matteo Ricci, after being closed for twenty years. She immediately welcomed a dozen young men eager to dedicate themselves to the Lord. In 1989 it was transferred to Beijing Cathedral, the Church of St. Savior, due to the increase in vocations, and again for the same reason, it was again transferred to another location in 1992. <br />Finally, in 2001, the construction and opening of a modern complex of 476 square meters. In addition to ordinary courses for seminarians, the seminary also hosts many formation courses for nuns and lay people, as well as university activities, since the area where the seminary is located is called the "university district" of Beijing. <br />According to the statistics provided by the seminary to Agenzia Fides, the seminary in Beijing has formed more than 320 seminarians, not counting those who are expected to graduate during the current year, with 187 priestly ordinations and three bishops. <br />There are currently 70 theology seminarians, 3 of whom are studying abroad. <br />Wed, 24 Nov 2021 10:41:25 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - Patriarch Sako: digital platforms and social media used to harm the Church - In the age of the internet, the spread of social networks and the increase in blogs and digital platforms have disproportionately multiplied the dissemination of articles critical of the church. However, they would often be written by individuals who are unfamiliar with Christian doctrine and authentic knowledge and aim to "replace the facts with their new and controversial ideas". The Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, warns again of the devastating effects of this phenomenon on the life of the Church. In a statement released by the Patriarchate's media, he urged all Christians not to be swayed by the flood of false information about the nature and life of the Church circulating on the Internet and advised everyone to "separate the wheat from the chaff" . In his speech, the Iraqi cardinal stressed that a large part of the attacks against Chaldean communities on the Internet have come from people living outside Iraq who use freedom of access to networks to sow confusion among the people. The many digital "commentators" who got involved in internal church controversies - according to the Patriarch - "know no mercy, not even with the Pope", and often pursue their own interests in power. One does not shy away from equating the church with "a political party or a military dictatorship". For some time now, some churches in the East - including the Coptic Orthodox Church - have been critical of those who are enthusiastic about the importance of digital networks and the new means of communication on church dynamism. A little more than a year ago, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II affirmed in a speech to members of the Egyptian Rotary Club , that "it is certainly not social media that the men and women of can open the gates to paradise today". He added that digital communications networks are "a double-edged sword" that can be used correctly or incorrectly like a "knife" and that they have destructive potential that harms individuals and tears apart the ecclesiastical and social fabric. Tue, 23 Nov 2021 13:32:28 +0100