Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PAKISTAN - Raped Christian minor escapes the torturer: the culprit arrested - After an investigation conducted with raids in several villages in the area of Sahiwal , the Pakistani police arrested a Muslim man for kidnapping and raping an 8-year-old Christian girl Liza Younas. As Fides learned, according to police officials, the culprit is Muhammad Bota, arrested and accused under article 376 of the Criminal Code, who punishes rape and private violence. The penalty provided for by the law is imprisonment for a period between 10 and 25 years or even the death penalty. Ashiknaz Khokhar, a human rights promoter who supported and accompanied the victim's family in the legal process, condemning the brutal attack, tells Fides: "This is the cruelty of a Muslim man, who kidnapped a minor in the street on the evening of September 2, raped her and in order to hide his crime, he tried to kill the girl by hitting her with a stone and leaving her unconscious on the ground. He then fled". <br />Khokhar reconstructs the story: "On September 2, the little girl was sent by her parents to run an errand in a shop and did not return home, therefore after half an hour, her parents together with her neighbors began looking for her. The girl was found injured and confused on a nearby street. The girl was taken to Sahiwal Hospital for medical examinations. The medical report informs that she was raped and other parts of her body are also seriously injured. However, the girl was able to recognize her attacker and reported that Mohammad Bota lured her, and took her to a building where he raped her, attacked her with a stone and then fled". Khokhar notes: "Cases of sexual abuse are particularly excruciating and even more so when an abominable act of sexual violence is committed against a child. <br />The minor is traumatized and psychologically devastated. She is being treated by a psychologist and other doctors in order to be treated for this trauma and wounds". <br />Khokhar adds: "Liza's healing process could take years. We thank the police officers, Christian minister Ejaz Alam Augustine and the medical staff for their full cooperation in prosecuting the culprit and solving the case". <br />The non-governmental organization "Sahil", which works in Pakistan to protect children from all kinds of violence, reports in its 2020 Report that more than 8 children are abused every day in Pakistan. Cases of officially reported criminal acts against children increased from 2,846 in the year 2019 to 2,960 in the year 2020. The report also mentions that 80% of the abuses are committed by someone the child knows. The violence perpetrated against girls of the Christian or Hindu religion, committed by people of the Muslim religion who despise, discriminate and abuse girls belonging to communities of religious minorities, fits into this framework, with the idea that these crimes of violence , kidnapping and rape can easily go unpunished. For this reason, lawyers and civil society organizations report, denounce and prosecute such cases, in order not to allow a culture of impunity. <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 13:19:54 +0200AMERICA/CHILE - In times of social change, Catholic radio stations must strengthen their commitment to building a better community, based on the Gospel - "Radio has been, for several years, one of the institutions that has received the most trust from citizens. In this time of social change, we must reinforce our commitment to the values that guide us towards building a better community, based on the Gospel and the transmission of the Good News". These are the words of greeting that the President of the Association of Catholic Radio Broadcasters of Chile, ARCA, Marcelo Barrera, addressed to all the men and women who work in the country's radio sector, especially those who make up the network's teams. On the occasion of September 21, Radio Workers' Day, Barrera expressed affectionate greetings to those who work in the ARCA network stations, while and at the same time encouraged them in their present and future challenges. "The efforts to maintain the services that connect us with our public are, undoubtedly, our greatest concern", underlines the President, hoping that this September 21st will be "a day of reflection and rest in which we find the strength to continue to grow our service and therefore that of our entire community". ARCA currently brings together more than 33 associated Catholic stations, with a presence in 13 regions of the country, and a huge number of digital stations on the web. The Andean area of Latin America, particularly in Chile, has always privileged radio as a means of communication and information. Catholic radio stations have never stopped working to promote communion and cooperation, and are currently facing a difficult period from an economic point of view, following the restrictions caused by the pandemic. Tue, 21 Sep 2021 12:33:03 +0200AFRICA/LIBERIA - "An important and timely gift" says the Director of the hospital to which Pope Francis has donated equipment for COVID-19 patients - "The medical supplies donated by Pope Francis were very important to the hospital and timely. His example is not just one of words but with actions that should be emulated by other leaders", says to Fides Brother Peter Lansana Dawoh, Director of the Saint Josesph Catholic Hospital in Monrovia which on August 25 received through His Excellency Mgr. Dagoberto Campos Salas, Apostolic Nuncio in Liberia, a series of medical equipment to treat COVID-19 sufferers. <br />The hospital director granted an interview to Agenzia Fides <br /><br />How many cases of COVID-19 has Liberia had so far? <br />In Liberia, from 3rd January 2020 to 17th September 2021, there have been 5,904 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 283 deaths reported to World Health Organization. As of 3rd September 2021, a total of 113, 680 vaccine doses have been administered. <br /><br />How have the authorities and the Catholic Church managed the pandemic in Liberia? <br />The government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health declares a "State of Emergency" to control the spread of the disease and also embarked on vigorous training of healthcare workers on Infection Prevention and virus Control. They required all citizens to abide by the health safety measures that was put in place; regular hand hygiene; social distancing; C. Mandatory wearing of face mask at all times during public gathering; closure of churches, clubs and other social areas until meetings of up to 20 people have recently been allowed; closure of schools until it was reverse to wearing of face mask compulsory and regular hand hygiene. <br />As for the Catholic Church, it has managed the situation with the following measures: Empowering their hospitals and clinics through trainings and regularly health education to prevent the spread of the virus; collaboration with government and authorities to implement safety measures; health education programs in communities and through radio talk shows; providing Infection Prevent and Controls materials for work.<br /><br />What is the situation in your hospital? <br />All staff working in the hospital is required to wear face mask at all times and also practice regular hand hygiene.<br />The risk of infection in the hospital has reduced. Most confirmed cases seen at the hospital are being care for by the doctors and nurses of the hospital until further notice from the District Health Team concerning availability of space for the case to be transferred to the COVID-19 Treatment Unit. <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 12:24:43 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - Armenian Catholic bishops summoned to Rome to elect the Patriarch. Cardinal Sandri: may the Spirit of Christ help to overcome the logic of alignment - "Each of us is summoned in these days as the disciples of Jesus after the Resurrection, in Galilee, the place of the first call and discipleship, because through you and your choices the Patriarchal Church of Cilicia of Armenians may experience a new beginning". Thus Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, addressed the bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church during the Divine Liturgy celebrated in the late afternoon of Monday, September 20 in Rome, at the Pontifical Armenian College "in Urbe", to invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit on the work of the upcoming elective synod convened in the Eternal City by Pope Francis to choose the new Patriarch, successor of Krikor Bedros XX Ghabroyan, who passed away on May 25th. <br /><br />The Armenian Catholic bishops, as reported by Fides , had already taken part in a Synod for the meeting of the new Patriarch convened at the Lebanese convent of Our Mother of Bzommar which started last June 22. The meetings of that Synod, however, ended without success. In fifteen meeting days, no candidate had obtained two thirds of the votes of the 12 bishops participating in the Synod, the threshold required for the election of the new Patriarch. At that point, according to what is established by the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the sessions of the elective Synod had been interrupted, and the matter had been referred to the Pope, who summoned the Armenian Catholic bishops to Rome to participate in a new elective Synod hosted at the Pontifical Armenian College of Rome, under the presidency of Cardinal Sandri, at the head of the Vatican Dicastery for the Oriental Churches. <br />The Divine Liturgy which took place on Monday, September 20 at the Pontifical Armenian College was presided over by Boutros Marayati, Archbishop of Aleppo and Administrator of the Patriarchal Church, and was concelebrated by all the bishops participating in the Synod who had already arrived in Rome. In the homily delivered during the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Sandri indicated with efficient words the horizon in which the Armenian Catholic bishops are called to exercise their ecclesial responsibility, choosing a new Patriarch to lead the Patriarchal Church of Cilicia of the Armenians. <br />"Let's start", said the Argentine Cardinal among other things, "by celebrating the Divine Liturgy, and we will continue to nourish ourselves with the Sacrament of the altar in these days, saying with a concrete gesture the primacy that we must and want to give to Christ, overcoming all logic, thought or human alignment. <br />We cannot ignore that these dimensions exist, and it would be hypocritical to deny them, but we are called to ask ourselves how capable we are of letting our reasoning transform by placing them before the light of Christ. We" continued the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches "believe that on the altar, through the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the elements of the earth, such as bread and wine, are assumed and transformed, becoming the presence of Jesus, who died and Rose for us. Yet, we who are constituted ministers of the Eucharist, who invoke the outpouring of the Spirit of consecration in the epiclesis, sometimes run the risk of placing limits on the Paraclete, keeping in ourselves, in our hearts or in our judgment of others as gray areas where the only criterion is personal or, worse, that of the spirit of the world". <br />Citing the invocations of St. Gregory of Narek, the son of Armenian Christianity proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis, "who does not cease in his writings to invoke the Lord starting from the experience of darkness and sin", Cardinal Sandri recalled the Armenian bishops to take charge with their choices of the intimate spiritual and pastoral urgencies that mark the life of the Armenian Catholic communities scattered throughout the world: "The Church of Cilicia of the Armenians" said among other things the Cardinal "knows that its faithful are now present in almost all continents: the sufferings of the past and present, the search for a stable and safe home, the escape from the powers that have undermined their life led them to disperse. They need pastors who lead them, know how to call them by name as the good shepherd described in the Gospel does". For this reason "the new Patriarch must not only be Caput et Pater by traditional definition. Head only to the extent that he can become a servant, Father because he will feel the responsibility for all his children". In making their choices - Cardinal Sandri confided - the Armenian Catholic Bishops and also the future Patriarch will be able to find inspiration and comfort in the richness of its own Tradition, bearing in mind that "the Armenian people know the experience of violence and persecution very closely, but no power or human strength has been able to eliminate the name of Christ from their lips". <br />A note from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, sent to Fides, reports that today, Tuesday, September 21 and in the morning of Wednesday, September 22, the participants in the Synod will take part in a spiritual retreat, with meditations dictated by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, Vicar of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome. Then, starting from Wednesday afternoon, Cardinal Sandri will open the elective session, which he will preside over in the name of Pope Francis, according to the legislation approved by the Bishop of Rome himself, to ensure a positive outcome for the elective assembly. <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 12:08:53 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - Appeal by the Archdiocese of Nairobi for humanitarian aid to vulnerable families severely affected by Covid-19 and drought - "The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted nolmacy globally and locally, exposing families to extreme pressures and straining their capacity to sustain themselves" declared the Apostolic Administrator of Archdiocese of Nairobi, Msgr. David Kamau addressing his appeal to parishes, religious communities, institutions and people of good will to offer "humanitarian assistance to vulnerable families who are grappling with the effects of the pandemic". <br />"I would like to express my gratitude for the continued support you have accorded the Archdiocese of Nairobi over the years, especially in our humanitarian effects during emergencies. Indeed your acts of generosity have been a true sign of solidarity", reads the note sent to Fides. <br />Bishop Kamau stressed the need for humanitarian aid for many affected families not only in the archdiocese of Nairobi but also in other parts of the country where a very severe drought is raging. "At least 2 million Kenyans have been hard hit by the current drought which is expected to worsen in the coming weeks", added the Apostolic Administrator, recalling the warning message that President Uhuru Kenyatta had issued on Wednesday, September 8. The President had declared that the drought in the northern part of the country represents a national disaster to address which he has asked for the support of all. "More and more people continue to knock on our doors seeking support. We endeavor to extend a lending hand, be a sign of hope to families grappling with the effects of the pandemic and the drought", concluded the Prelate. <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 11:24:21 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The Bishop of Veracruz on migrants: "the position of the Church is to protect and help them while they are in our land" - After the wave of Haitian emigrants that has occurred in recent days in the state of Veracruz, many of whom come from Tapachula , which is located on the border with Guatemala, the Catholic Church has asked for solidarity and respect for these people in transit in Mexican territory. The Bishop of the Diocese of Veracruz, Mgr. Carlos Briseño, asked the immigration and security authorities not to treat these migrants as criminals. <br />Mgr. Briseño, at the end of Sunday Mass on September 19, asked that the operations carried out by the National Institute for Migration to interrupt the journey of dozens of Haitians to the United States be carried out within the framework of the law and that their human rights respected. He recognized that they are families who are fleeing poverty and the problems of their country and therefore have the right to be treated with dignity. <br />He also recalled that the different parishes, to the best of their ability, offer concrete help to migrants of different nationalities. To these are added groups of Christians and Catholics who, in the name of humanitarian assistance, also offer support of various kinds, with food, clothing, medicine or shelter. "The Church's position is to protect the lives of these people and help them while they are on our territory, every human being requires humanity. As you know, migrant reception centers belong to the Church, so there is a commitment to protect these people and, above all, to help them give meaning to their lives". <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 11:07:03 +0200EUROPE/SPAIN - Young people bear witness to the mission: the campaign for World Mission Day 2021 - “Domund” is the name given by Spain to the World Mission Day, announced by the Pope on the penultimate Sunday of October, to bring everyone closer to the mission. This year, with the slogan "Tell what you have seen and heard", the Pontifical Mission Societies of Spain continue to strengthen their digital proposal with the launch of the new version of the page and the second edition of the “Virtual solidarity race”of Domund. In addition, in this year's video, several young people who have had missionary experiences tell "what they saw and heard". Javier López-Frías, Toni Miró, Patricia Ruiz, Ana Zornoza and Luisa Moreno, five young people from different parts of Spain, share the same feeling, their love for the mission, and have chosen to communicate their missionary experiences, as stated in the motto of Domund 2021. <br />Through their testimonies, they express the personal richness that the mission has meant for them in different locations in South America and Africa. "If we want to tell what we have seen and heard ... who better than young people to help us do it? Many young people have been lucky enough to spend some time with the missionaries and want to share with us what they have experienced and what they have felt. This video is just a small example of all this", explains Fr. José María Calderón, National Director of the PMS in Spain, in the note sent to Fides. In addition to the missionary testimonies of young people, the website also reports the various activities planned for Mission Sunday and illustrates the ways in which one can contribute to missionary activity. <br />As every year for this occasion, the National Direction of the PMS of Spain has also prepared numerous paper aids: dossiers for journalists; a dossier presenting the missionary Campaign, with interviews, testimonies, reflections, practical advice; posters with the theme of 2021 in different formats; proposals for missionary catechesis for children and young people; liturgical indications for the Masses on Mission Sunday, stickers ... <br />Tue, 21 Sep 2021 10:14:43 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - 11 Christians, 10 Muslims and 2 Druze (but only one woman) in the new government of Mikati - The new government of Lebanon, led by the Sunni Muslim Najib Mikati, is preparing to obtain the vote of trust from the Lebanese Parliament today, Monday, September 20. All the main political forces represented in Parliament have guaranteed their support for the new government structure, which in its composition reflects the variety of the Lebanese "mosaic" also from the confessional affiliations point of view. <br />In addition to Sunni Prime Minister Mikati and Greek Orthodox Christian Deputy Prime Minister Saadeh al Shami, there are 11 Christian ministers, 9 Muslim ministers and two Druze ministers. Among the Christian ministers there are 5 Maronites, 2 Greek Orthodox, 2 Greek Catholics, an Armenian apostolic, a Catholic of the Latin rite . Among the Muslim ministers, five are Shiites and four Sunnis. <br />The most urgent tasks that the new government is called upon to tackle will be to curb the national economic collapse and offer itself as an interlocutor for international financial institutions, in the period of time that separates the country from its next political elections, scheduled for 2022. <br />During the homily delivered during the divine liturgy on Sunday, September 19, the Maronite Patriarch, Béchara Boutros Raï gave thanks to divine Providence for the end of the crisis that left the country without a government for thirteen months. The Lebanese Cardinal expressed the hope that the new executive will work as a close-knit team at the service of the country, highlighting the need to ensure the resumption of the school year, also through the support to be provided to non-state schools, among the priorities to be addressed. Critical hints regarding the composition of the new government were instead expressed by the Syro-Catholic bishops, who met in the Synodal Assembly from September 12 to 18 in Harissa , at the Convent of Our Lady of Liberation. In the statement released at the end of the Synodal Assembly, chaired by Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, the Syro-Catholic Bishops, among other things, expressed their disappointment at the "persistent marginalization" of Syriacs and the Syro-Catholic community in the attribution processes of high civilian offices, noting that no Syrian Christian appears among the members of the new government. The delicate Lebanese institutional system provides that the office of President of the Republic is to be entrusted to a Maronite Christian, while the Head of Government must belong to the Sunni Muslim community and the President of Parliament must be of Shiite Muslim faith. <br />Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:55:40 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Mgr. Tlhagale: "too much mixing between Catholicism and traditional faith: we need to focus on catechism for adults" - Poverty, racism and the influence of ancestral cults are among the greatest challenges to evangelization in South Africa. This is what the Archbishop of Johannesburg, His Exc. Mgr. Buti Tlhagale said to a group of new missionaries. <br />"There is still a lot of racism in South Africa, it is always under the carpet, below the surface", said Tlhagale, adding that this translates into economic inequality where a minority is fine and the majority is ill. The Archbishop said he sees a lot of young people in Johannesburg going mad because of the dire situation they are facing due to realities like unemployment. "They sleep on the streets, they lose their dignity, they beg for food, and eventually you can see that there’s something abnormal about their behaviour", said Archbishop Tlhagale. He pointed out that apart from material problems there’s a lot of brokenness amongst the people of South Africa which results in a loss of hope.<br />The Archbishop questioned the role of the laity in the society at large wondering whether they go out to make in impact on the society, motivated by their faith to try and change society and its expectation. <br />Archbishop Tlhagale believes that the major obstacle to total conversion is the ancestral cult, noting that people believe in the ubiquitous presence of ancestors. To make the missionaries understand something concrete with regard the ancentral cult Archbishop Tlhagale showed them a video of a trainee sangoma . The video was of a Catholic who became a sangoma recently and the Archbishop was trying to show them that everyone is into this even Catholics of all walks of life. He said this traditional religion is mixed with Christianity even by Catholics including some priests and nuns. <br />The Archbishop made missionaries aware that there are cases where one goes to two funeral services of the same person on the same day because there has to be a service for the ancestors and a service for the Church. He said people do these things sometimes as a way of double insurance. For this reason Mgr. Tlhagale urged to place more emphasis on adult catechism which is almost non-existent, because after confirmation, the Catholic faithful stop studying and deepening the teachings of the Church. <br />Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:36:48 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - Fr. Gigi Maccalli, three years later: emotions, joy, grace, memories - 17 September 2018 memory of his kidnapping - 17 September 2021 testimony and praise for his release: Fr. Gigi Maccalli, priest of the Society for African Missions three years after being hostage of the jiadists in Mali for more than two . <br />"It was a sought-after coincidence and we can only say thank you to God for giving us this moment with Fr. Gigi", writes Silvia Sandon, consecrated to the Ordo Virginum of Feriole, on the occasion of the meeting held in Feriole in which the missionary presented her book Chains of freedom. <br />"We have longed to meet Fr. Gigi in person, see him again on the streets of Feriole and listen to what he experienced in his two years of imprisonment. It was a time of Grace, of meeting between people who have intertwined their life with that of Fr. Gigi, during the years of his stay here in Feriole, but it was also an opportunity to meet for those who did not know him, but he joined his prayers to ours, entrusting this son of him to God". <br />The consecrated woman thanked Fr. Gigi for his testimony full of silence and emotion. "Your words of forgiveness, liberation, attention towards others, welcome and prayer have once again reminded us of the precious gift of your mission, of our being men and women called by God for peace, reconciliation, dialogue and hospitality". <br />Mon, 20 Sep 2021 12:04:13 +0200AMERICA/CHILE - The values that should be present in the new Constitution: Cardinal Aós at the Te Deum - The ecumenical "Te Deum" of thanksgiving for the independence of Chile was celebrated in the Metropolitan Cathedral, as usual in the presence of the highest authorities of the Country, led by the President of the Republic, Sebastián Piñera, on Saturday, September 18.<br />In his homily, Cardinal Celestino Aós, Archbishop of Santiago, said that when there is something wrong in our relationship with reality, it is necessary to return to the foundations of our own culture: "The importance of ecology is today beyond dispute. We must listen to the language of nature and respond to it coherently". He recalled that there is also an ecology of man, "which must be respected and which he cannot manipulate as he pleases", because "man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature, and his will is right when he respects nature, listens to it, and when he accepts himself for what he is, and admits that he did not create himself. Thus, and only in this way, true human freedom is fulfilled". <br />The Archbishop took the opportunity to refer, on behalf of the Church, to what the new Constitution should contain, mainly on matters of value, and thanked "the women and men who work in the Constituent Convention, preparing and writing a new Constitution who will guide and govern us". <br />"We thank all those who try to respect and protect non-negotiable values: respect and defense of human life from its conception to its natural end, the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom of parents to choose the model and the institution of the education of children, the promotion of the common good in all its forms and the subsidiarity of the State, which respects the autonomy of organizations and collaborates with them", said the Cardinal. Cardinal Celestino Aós thanked the Lord for all those who "with good will, commit and work to find relief and a solution to the problem of indigenous peoples both in Araucanía, which suffers from violence, and of other peoples". <br />He also thanked those who have at heart the welcome, protection, promotion and integration of immigrants; women and those who accompany them, "and who promote their respect as persons and the promotion of their rights". This Te Deum was the last of the second government of President Sebastián Piñera. <br />At the beginning of the celebration, Cardinal Aós remembered the victims of the coronavirus and prayed for the people who died as a result of this pandemic. <br />Mon, 20 Sep 2021 11:52:18 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The lay ministry of the catechist: a charism for the outgoing Synodal Church - "The lay ministry of the catechist: a charism for the outgoing synodal Church" is the theme of the National Week of Catechesis, to be celebrated from September, 19 to 26 in Venezuela. Promoted by the Department of Catechesis of the Permanent Secretariat of the Venezuelan Episcopate, the initiative aims to be an opportunity to deepen the ministry of the catechist, in the light of the recent Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis, "Antiquum Ministerium". <br />The note from the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, also sent to Fides, illustrates the logo of the Week of Catechesis, which intends to express the gift and mission of the lay ministry of the catechist. The interlocutor of the catechesis has to raise his faith, for this reason the catechist initiates a dynamic process of accompaniment in which the breath of the Holy Spirit carries out its work. The catechist accompanies giving testimony of his experience with Christ, therefore, he teaches to sustain the faith by living the historical reality from the action of the Trinity in an encounter with the word of God. "The catechist, willing to discern the signs of the times, helps the interlocutor to grasp the breath of the Spirit to make his faith more mature and incorporate him into the community to live the joy of faith as the Virgin Mary did - continues the note of the Cev -. <br />The catechist seeks and finds ways to propose new life in Christ, he does so with the kerygmatic announcement". <br />On the occasion of the National Week of Catechesis, the Bishops sent a video message, through the social networks of the Bishops' Conference, acknowledging the generous work of the brothers and sisters who, responding to God's call, dedicate their lives to accompanying the journey of faith of other brothers. In addition, two virtual formative meetings will be held with the aim of reflecting on the lay ministry of the Catechist: the first will be held on Tuesday, September 21 at 3:00 p.m. on the theme "An approach to the apostolic letter 'Antiquum Ministerium' " with Fr. Omar Osiris López García, official of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The second meeting will be held on Thursday September 23 at 4 pm on the theme "The lay ministry of the catechist, a charism for the outgoing synodal Church" with Fr. Santiago León, director of the Department of Catechesis of the Permanent Secretariat of Cev. <br />Mon, 20 Sep 2021 11:06:24 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - Pope Francis to the Church of Rome: Mission is the work of the Holy Spirit, beware of the risks of a "do-it-yourself" Church - The Church is by nature synodal, and fulfills her mission only if she obediently follows the actual and effective action of the Holy Spirit, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles. It is only in this way that one can overcome "the temptation to do it alone", and to "take God's place, claiming to model the Church on one's own cultural convictions". As if, "having ascended into heaven, the Lord had left a void to be filled". This is what Pope Francis said today, speaking on the morning of Saturday 18 September to the participants in the Convention of the diocese of Rome. In his long speech, the Bishop of Rome once again indicated the Acts of the Apostles as a paradigmatic text to which we must refer in order to recognize the sources and the proper nature of the mission to which the ecclesial community is called, escaping from the eternal temptation to build a "do-it-yourself" Church and even reduce synodal meetings to a "diocesan Parliament". <br />The Pope's speech began with the "Synodal Journey" which involves the whole Church in view of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 2023. During this journey - the Pontiff remarked - "It is not a question of collecting opinions, this is not an investigation, but to listen to the Holy Spirit". The theme of synodality - the Pope said - is not a chapter in a treatise on ecclesiology, much less about fashion", since synodality "expresses the nature of the Church, her form, style, mission". This is attested by the Acts of the Apostles, which the Pope defined as "the first and most important manual of ecclesiology". A 'common journey' which is accomplished by following the works of the Holy Spirit, open to its surprises, witnesses of an impulse that puts the Apostles themselves "in crisis, that pushed them to dare, ask, change their mind, make mistakes and learn from mistakes, especially hope despite difficulties". <br />It is the Holy Spirit - the Pope continued - which "made them discover the geography of divine salvation, opening doors and windows, tearing down walls, breaking chains, freeing borders. At that point it may be necessary to leave, change course, overcome beliefs that hold back and prevent us from moving and walking together". <br />It is always the work of the Holy Spirit which in the first community created harmony in the "confrontation between different visions and expectations. We must not fear - the Bishop of Rome remarked - that this will still happen today. These are signs of docility and openness to the Spirit. There can also be clashes that reach dramatic heights, as was the case with the problem of the circumcision of pagans, until the deliberation of what we call the Council of Jerusalem". In that first Council of the Apostolic Church - the Pope recalled - "there was a long discussion. It was a question of recognizing the freedom of the action of God, and that there were no obstacles which could prevent it from reaching the hearts of people, whatever their moral or religious background". This synod concluded with a message which still represents the most effective definition of the "protagonism" of the Holy Spirit in the real dynamics of the life of the Church: It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities" . Without the Spirit, the Bishop of Rome observed in one of the additions made to the written text - even the Synod ends up by being reduced to a "diocesan Parliament". In reality - the Pope continued - "it is only when the Church bears witness, in word and in deed, of God's unconditional love, of her hospitable breadth, that she truly express her own catholicity. The impulse and the capacity come from the Spirit". A synodal journey made in the wake of and in the company of the Holy Spirit - noted the Successor of Peter, returning to the question at the center of his speech - is recognizable because it is marked by listening "to the totality of the baptized, because all are depositaries of the sensus fidei". There is a lot of resistance "to overcome the image of a Church rigidly divided between leaders and subordinates, between those who teach and those who must learn, forgetting that God likes to overturn positions", and that "in the history of salvation, we are all sheep with respect to the Shepherd who is the Lord". <br />Exercising sensus fidei - the Pope clarified - "cannot be reduced to expressing and comparing opinions that we can have regarding this or that topic", or to the idea "of differentiating majorities and minorities, this is what Parliament does". <br />Above all, the sensus fidei will guide the synodal journey to recognize and concretely affirm Christ's predilection for the poor and to eliminate any elitist and exclusivist reduction of belonging to the people of God. Such belonging - Pope Francis clarified - is not "a privilege", but "a gift that someone receives for all, that we have received for others", to order to "bear witness in deeds and not just in words to the wonders of God, which, if known, help people to discover his existence and accept his salvation". <br />Even the concrete modalities of carrying out the synodal journey must avoid the temptation to conceive and present parishes, movements and ecclesial communities as if they were exclusive clubs: "I recommend" suggested the Bishop of Rome "leave doors and windows open, do not limit yourselves to considering only those who attend or think like you. Allow yourselves to go out to meet and allow yourselves to be questioned, let their questions be your questions, allow people to walk together: the Spirit shall lead you". The people of Rome themselves - noted the Successor of Peter in the concluding part of his speech - "contains the variety of all peoples and of all conditions" <br /><br /><br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 10:37:46 +0200EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Erwin Tanner-Tiziani City - On June 30, 2021, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Mr. Erwin Tanner-Tiziani as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Switzerland for a five-year period: from January 1, 2022 until 31 December 2026. <br />The new National Director, 54, studied at the University of Freiburg and Munich, where he obtained a licentiate in theology , graduated in arithmetic, was a teacher of religion . He graduated in Utroque iure at the University of Friborg and obtained a Diploma in Management of Associations/Onlus . He is the author of scientific publications, in German and French, in the fields of law and theology, of the State/Islam relationship. He has made several business trips to the Middle East and Africa, in collaboration with civil, state and ecclesial bodies. From 2006 to 2010 he was Deputy Secretary, and from 2010 to today Secretary General of the Swiss Episcopal Conference, mainly dealing with the Pastoral Department and the Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue Department. <br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 12:07:10 +0200AFRICA/MALAWI - Catholic University donates medical devices to the Nguludi Mission Hospital - "As Catholic University of Malawi we have always had a good relationship of collaboration with the St. Joseph-Nguludi Mission Hospital, since the beginning in 2006", said CUNIMA chancellor Francis Vincent Nkhoma during the ceremony donation of medical devices to the St. Joseph-Nguludi mission hospital in the Chiradzulu district. <br />Nkhoma said the donation will help the hospital serve people from surrounding communities, students and university staff with quality health care. <br />"As a corporate social responsibility we feel obligated to assist St. Joseph-Nguludi hospital just as we have assisted others in some districts when they were hit by the floods", Nkhoma added. Receiving the donation on behalf of the hospital's management and staff, the director of St. Joseph-Nguludi hospital, Sister Mercy Kanyumbu applauded the gesture, stating that the donation improved the quality of health care at the facility. "This is a timely donation, St. Joseph-Nguludi hospital serves several people and sometimes we do not have these items which were donated today by the Catholic University of Malawi for the benefit of the patients of health workers", said Sr. Kanyumbu. Donated items include: oxygen cylinders, surgical gloves and work gowns. <br />The Catholic University of Malawi also assists people affected by natural disasters. <br />Responding to the presidential call to assist people affected by floods in the country in 2021, the University donated basic necessities to populations in the districts of Phalombe, Mulanje and Chikwawa. <br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 12:03:25 +0200VATICAN - Cardinal Van Thuan, "man who built the Church" - Following the example of Francis of Assisi, Cardinal Van Thuan placed the gift of his person and of his own life, recognizing himself as a creature of God, as stones to build the holy edifice of the Church. This is what was said by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development in a solemn Eucharist held on September 17 in the Roman Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, on the occasion of the 19th anniversary of the death of the Vietnamese Cardinal, Venerable François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân . <br />Faithful, nuns, priests and lay people from the Vietnamese community in Rome and the Administrator of the cause of canonization, Luisa Melo were present at the celebration. Among the concelebrants, Father Dinh Anh Nhue Nguyen OFM Conv, Secretary General of the Pontifical Missionary Union and Director of Agenzia Fides, announced his intention to organize next year, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Van Thuan, a special week of spirituality on the theme "Holiness in the contemporary world", to commemorate and deepen the precious legacy of the Cardinal for the present. <br />"Today we commemorate his life and his extraordinary experience of faith. We are united in prayer to entrust him to God and pray for his beatification. We are gathered to renew our hope in the God of Providence", Cardinal Turkson explained in the homily. Referring to the first reading of the liturgy , Cardinal Turkson recalled that "each of us has received gifts from God, such as faith, prophecy, charity. And Cardinal Van Thuan, following the example of Francis of Assisi, whose name he bore, built the Church with the gifts he received from God. The Cardinal teaches us that the gifts he received are not for his own use: they are for the community. Today he is a guide and a point of reference for the Church in Vietnam". <br />During the Mass, the faithful present prayed for those who suffer persecution for their faith in Vietnam and other parts of the world and for the mission of the Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development, so that its work is always accompanied by the intercession of the Cardinal. Van Thuan. <br />The Vietnamese faithful and the many who knew him remember his extraordinary Christian experience, marked by the events of imprisonment and persecution, describing him as "a person always full of light, joy, inner peace, a man in whom the virtues of humility, of simplicity and charity shone". <br />Today the path towards the beatification of the Cardinal, declared Venerable by Pope Francis on May 4, 2017, awaits the miracle for its full fulfillment. The Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development, which in the past Cardinal Van Thuan presided, when it was called "Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace", is committed to promoting knowledge of the life and spirituality of the Vietnamese Cardinal, as gift for the universal Church. <br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 11:58:34 +0200EUROPE/ITALY - The missionary must be the image of Jesus: 'My God, how good you are. The life and message of Charles de Foucauld' - "The missionary must be the image of Jesus, conform to Jesus, externally and internally through imitation", writes Fr. Andrea Mandonico, General Archivist of the Society for African Missions, in a note sent to Fides. <br />The occasion is the celebration, on Monday 20 September, of the literary prize of the Ambassadors to the Holy See 2021 for the book 'My God, how good you are. The life and message of Charles de Foucauld' of which the SMA missionary is the author. <br />"This identification - continues Fr. Mandonico - is possible only if you take the Gospel seriously and are rooted in it, where holiness is not optional but the indispensable foundation of mission. The work of the missionary is therefore not to do many works but rather to live, to be present among these peoples, and to show them what life is like following Christ and the joy of simply living the Gospel, but with commitment". <br />The author highlights in this book the 'missionary nature' of Charles de Foucauld. "He did not go to the desert to live as a 'hermit', in search of that 'fuga mundi' so dear to the first monks, but he went there to evangelize and consecrate his whole life to Muslims, for these poorer brothers' who do not have anything'. And he announces the Gospel to you according to the style of the mystery of the Visitation : bearing witness to Jesus and his salvation in the manner of the Virgin Mary, bringing Jesus who, with his presence alone, sanctifies the house of Zechariah". <br />"His ideal - explains Fr. Mandonico - is "imitating the Blessed Virgin in the mystery of the Visitation, like her, silently bringing Jesus into the Eucharist and practicing the evangelical virtues". <br />The Literary Prize, born in 2019 from the initiative of a group of ambassadors to the Holy See, is aimed at authors who publish books in Italian on issues relating to Christian culture and values, relations between Christian Churches and States, the history of Christian churches and interreligious dialogue. <br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 11:27:38 +0200EUROPE/POLAND - The Pontifical Mission Societies prepare the 2022 Jubilees: Synod of Children, Pilgrimage of the Living Rosary, Encounter of young people - The preparation of the important missionary Jubilees planned for 2022 was the main theme of the autumn meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies and other missionary realities in Poland. <br />The meeting, held on September, 15 and 16 at the Seminary of Czestochowa, was attended by 84 people including diocesan directors of the PMS, missionary representatives of female and male religious congregations, lay animators. In fact, 2022 will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the 200th anniversary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the 100th anniversary of the recognition of "Pontifical" and the 150th anniversary of the birth of blessed Father Paolo Manna, founder of the Pontifical Missionary Union. <br />According to information sent to Fides by Fr. Luca Bovio IMC, National Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union, the special guest of the meeting was Father Tadeusz Nowak, OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith . The meeting was opened by the new National Director of the PMS, Fr. Maciej Bedziński, who invited everyone to reflect on the missionary commitment of the Church during and after the pandemic, and presented the theme of preparation for the missionary Jubilees. The president of the Commission for the missions of the Polish Bishops' Conference, Mgr.Jerzy Mazur, at the end of his mandate, summarized the ten years of his service, underlining the missionary initiatives carried out, and thanked all those who work in missionary animation for the fruitful collaboration, encouraging them to develop it also with the new President of the Commission, who will be elected in November. <br />After the interventions of the representatives of the institutions linked to the Episcopal Commission for the Missions, who presented their activities, the first day of the meeting ended with the Holy Mass, presided over by Monsignor Mazur, who invited us to pray tirelessly for the missions and the missionaries, asking for the intercession of Mary, the first missionary. In the evening, during the prayer at the foot of the image of Our Lady in the Shrine of Jasna Gora, Fr. Maciej Bedziński thanked for the Polish missionary vocations and entrusted the ongoing missionary activities and all the missionaries to Our Lady, asking for a missionary spirit for all the church. <br />On the second day of the meeting, the National Secretaries of the four Pontifical Mission Societies presented their reports and plans for 2021/2022. The National Secretary of the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood , Sister Monika Juszka RMI, illustrated the preparations for the Synod of Children: "As part of the celebration of the Jubilees of the Pontifical Mission Societies in 2022, a special event will be the Synod Missionary of Children, scheduled for September 17, 2022 at the headquarters of Cardinal S. Wyszyński University in Warsaw. The special guests of the Synod will be Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio in Poland, and Sr. Roberta Tremarelli, AMSS, General Secretary of POSI". <br />The National Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Union, Fr. Luca Bovio IMC, announced the resumption of missionary meetings in seminaries, moreover for the 400th anniversary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples he proposed some formative material with reflections on missionary prayer each month. Finally, he invited to the December Missionary Session and to the prayer vigil in Jasna Góra, which will focus on the slogan "Sent in the peace of Christ". The new National Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle, Fr. Michal Kacprzyk, presented the proposals related to the celebration of the Jubilees of these two Societies: the national pilgrimage of the prayer groups of the Living Rosary in Czestochova and the National Youth Meeting in Lednica. <br />After the reports, Secretary General of POPF, Fr. Tadeusz Nowak, OMI took the floor on the theme "Development prospects and challenges for POPF in the context of the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Opera". The speaker underlined the role and task of the Living Rosary prayer groups in the missionary activity of the Church. <br />"This form of community prayer, just like in the days of its creator, the servant of God Paulina Jaricot, bears inestimable fruits in the development and strengthening of the Church in mission countries. We are close to the elevation to the altars of this servant of God", said Father Nowak. <br />He also noted that the Pontifical Mission Societies, despite their central nature, papal, are rooted in the local Church, because from there the young ecclesial communities of the different continents are supported. At the end of his speech, on behalf of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, he thanked the Pontifical Mission Societies in Poland for their zealous and continuous help to the missionary Church, even during the pandemic. Fr. Nowak then presided over the Mass at the end of the meeting, in which he underlined the value and the need to constantly awaken the missionary spirit in the Church, following the example of Paulina Jaricot, also asking for prayers in view of her beatification. <br />Sat, 18 Sep 2021 11:17:55 +0200AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The commitment of Salesian missionaries to help families impoverished by the pandemic Aires - "How will families without work, without economic activity survive? This was the general concern of people when the Coronavirus pandemic began. This is what motivated us to act: to experience closeness and compassion as Jesus did. After a year and a half, our work not only continues but is also increasing. With the commitment of thousands of volunteers across the country, this project will allow immediate access to food and educational kits in 21 provinces of Argentina, giving relief to thousands of families in this dramatic situation". <br />This is what Ariel Fresia, Salesian coadjutor and director of the Argentine Mission Office "Por los Jóvenes-Don Bosco" reports to Fides, speaking of the new solidarity campaign that the Salesian missionaries have promoted in favor of families affected by the consequences of the pandemic. "60% of our population lives in poverty - says Fresia - the reconstruction of job opportunities for families will be a long-term reality in Argentina. Covid-19 caused not only a health crisis but a profound social, economic and educational crisis". At a time when part of the world is already experiencing the "post-pandemic" phase, Argentina is one of the five countries that has suffered the most from the scourge of the pandemic in Latin America, reaching over 5 million total cases and over 113 thousand total deaths. Hence the Salesian's appeal to support the campaign "Emergency continues, Let’s give food and educate", promoted in coordination with the Provinces of Northern and Southern Argentina, through the "GlobalGiving" platform. "Our goal - explains the Director - is to provide assistance to families throughout the country, continue to provide food assistance to more than 150,000 families and support the education of thousands of children and young people". The campaign will last until September 30 and intends to involve "the whole Salesian reality and all people of good will". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Watch the video interview on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel</a>Sat, 18 Sep 2021 11:01:56 +0200VATICAN - Pope Francis to Movements and new ecclesial communities: humility and gratuitousness so as not to suffocate the gifts of the Spirit - "We must understand that evangelization is a mandate that comes from Baptism, the Baptism that makes us priests together, in the priesthood of Christ: the priestly population. And we must not wait for the priest to come, for the priest to evangelize, the missionary". Thus Pope Francis recalled the apostolic vocation which calls every baptized person to live and bear witness to the Gospel in the ordinary circumstances of life. This is what he said on Thursday, September 16, during an audience to the participants in the meeting of moderators of lay Associations, Ecclesial Movements and new Communities, organized by the Pontifical Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life on the theme «The responsibility of governance in lay associations. An ecclesial service». In his long speech, enriched with considerations and references added to the text written in an extemporaneous way, the Pontiff offered useful ideas to consider the ecclesial and missionary fruitfulness of associations, movements and new communities that have flourished in the Church in recent decades starting from the charisms donated from the Spirit to their respective founders, outside the ordinary forms of pastoral planning. First of all, the Bishop of Rome expressed gratitude for the "ecclesial mission" accomplished by those who join associations, movements and new communities, trying with dedication "to make fruitful those charisms that the Holy Spirit, through your founders, granted to all the members of your groups, to the benefit of the Church and of the many men and women to whom you dedicate yourselves in the apostolate. You are too" recognized the Pope"though with the limits and sins of every day – thanks to God, that we are sinners and that God gives us the grace of recognizing our sins and also the grace of asking or going to the confessor. This is a great grace: do not lose it… though with these limits, you are a clear sign of the vitality of the Church. You represent a missionary force and a presence of prophecy that gives us hope for the future". A future - continued the Pontiff that must be prepared here and now, 'in the kitchen' , with "the willingness to engage in a constant encounter with the Lord, a constant personal conversion", also in order not to run the risk "of living in a 'parallel world', distilled, distant, far from the real challenges of society, of culture and of all those people who live alongside you and who await your Christian witness". <br />In his speech, the Pontiff recalled with paternal frankness the temptations and real falls that have marked the path of many ecclesial aggregations that arose and developed spontaneously after the Second Vatican Council. <br />"Belonging to an association, a movement or a community, especially if they refer to a charism - remarked the Successor of Peter - should not lock us up “safe and sound”, make us feel secure, as if there were no need for any response to challenges and changes. We Christians are always all on the move, always in conversion, always in discernment". The Gospel journey - the Pontiff insisted "is not a tourist trip", and on this journey "every step is a call from God". On the contrary, the temptation that often besieges movements and new ecclesial communities is that of "thinking of being 'new in the Church', not subjected to the need for changes, corrections and conversions. This temptation - Pope Francis warned - "can become a false security. Even novelties soon get old! For this reason, the charism to which we belong must be furthered more and more, and we must always reflect together in order to incarnate it in the new situations we live in. To do this, great docility is required of us, and great humility, in order to recognize our limitations and accept to change outdated ways of doing and thinking, or methods of the apostolate that are no longer effective, or forms of organization of internal life that have proved inadequate or even harmful". In this regard, the Pontiff referred to the Decree on International Associations of the Faithful, promulgated on June 11, which also contains provisions relating to the "internal" governance of Associations, Movements and new ecclesial communities, including those concerning alternation in the positions of guidance and responsibility of these ecclesial realities. "At the origin of this decree", the Pope clarified, "there is not some theory of the Church or lay associations that you want to apply or impose". Rather, "it is the very reality of the last few decades that has shown us the need for the changes that the Decree asks of us. In this regard, the Pope recalled by analogy the flourishing of the last decades of new realities of consecrated life, several of which have ended up taking paths that made them feel and appear as an "entirely different Church": they presented themselves almost as "the redeemers" Pope Francis highlighted that many "ended up in very difficult situations: they have ended up under apostolic visitation, they have ended up with terrible sins, they have been placed under commission...". The exercise of governance within associations and movements" continued Pope Francis - must also be considered in the light of these cases of abuse", which always have their root in the abuse of power". An authentic ecclesial sensus - the Pope remarked - recognizes that the positions of government exercised within lay aggregations are only "a call to serve", and cannot be exposed to the "desire for power" which, for example, manifests itself "when we believe, by virtue of the role we have, of having to make decisions on all aspects of the life of our association, of the diocese, of the parish, of the congregation", or when the leaders of movements and new communities give in to the "desire to be everywhere". Adding personal references "to the congregations I know best", the Pontiff also cited certain "Superior Generals who eternalize themselves in power and do a thousand, thousand things to be re-elected and re-elected". While "it is beneficial and necessary", the Pope remarked, also alluding to the provisions of the June Decree addressed to ecclesial Movements and to the new Communities, "to provide for a rotation in the posts of government and a representation of all members in your elections". These provisions - suggested the Bishop of Rome - can also represent a procedural barrier to the risk of falling into the "trap of treachery", which is triggered when "In words we say we want to serve God and others, but in fact we serve our ego, and we bow to our desire to appear, to obtain recognition, appreciation". Or when we present ourselves to others as the only interpreters of the charism, the only heirs of our association or movement". <br />True service - Pope Francis emphasized in the concluding parts of his speech "is gratuitous and unconditional, it knows no calculations or demands. It habitually forgets the things it has done to serve others". And "no one is master of the gifts received for the good of the Church - we are administrators -, no one should suffocate them, let them grow with me or with what comes after me. Instead, each one, where he or she is placed by the Lord, is called to make them grow, to make them and bear fruit, confident in the fact that it is God who works all things in all people and that our true good bears fruit in ecclesial communion". <br />Fri, 17 Sep 2021 13:31:40 +0200