Fides News - Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/TURKEY - Interference and pressure in the election process of the new Armenian Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63080-ASIA_TURKEY_Interference_and_pressure_in_the_election_process_of_the_new_Armenian_Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63080-ASIA_TURKEY_Interference_and_pressure_in_the_election_process_of_the_new_Armenian_PatriarchIstanbul – In early October Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian, current "locum tenens" of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, sent a letter to possible candidates for the role of new Patriarch, in the framework of the election process underway, to choose the successor of Mesrob II Mutafyan . The potential candidates for the patriarchal role have to be born in Turkey or in any case belong to a family of Turkish nationality. Only 11 patriarchal clergy members respond to this selective criterion.<br />Meanwhile, there are episodes that suggest a tacit boycott of Turkish institutions over the patriarchal election process in progress. <br />The last sign in this regard comes from the statements by Bedros Şirinoğlu, President of the Armenian Hospital Foundation Surp Pırgiç: According to Şirinoğlu - who does not hide his high level contacts in national institutions – the Turkish apparatus do not like the fact that the electoral process as "locum tenens" of the Armenian Patriarchate is handled by Archbishop Bekdjian. Bekdjian himself replied to Şirinoğlu's statements that he had not received any official mistrust on behalf of the Turkish institutions. Although it is confirmed that the official letters sent by the Armenian Patriarchate to the Turkish authorities to urge the reopening of Patriarch's election procedures have not yet been answered. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:16:40 +0200AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Plague alarm: the contribution of Catholic hospitals and Catholic dispensarieshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63078-AFRICA_MADAGASCAR_Plague_alarm_the_contribution_of_Catholic_hospitals_and_Catholic_dispensarieshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63078-AFRICA_MADAGASCAR_Plague_alarm_the_contribution_of_Catholic_hospitals_and_Catholic_dispensariesAntananarivo - In Madagascar, pneumonic plague, the most serious and mortal form of plague, is under way, according to the country's Ministry of Health and so far has affected at least 343 people and has caused 42 deaths.<br />"In this period of unrest and distress in Madagascar, the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of the Church expresses the Church's concern for the families of the dead, people affected by the plague and the whole community", reads the letter from Mgr. Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, Bishop of Morondava and President of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Health, sent to Fides.<br />"We support the Government's commitment which through the Ministry of Public Health is fighting against the proliferation of the plague", continues the Bishop. "The Church wants to be close to healthcare operators and encourage them to continue this fight with perseverance and confidence. It urges all to intensify the cleanliness and hygiene of environments and to put into practice the recommendations of the Ministry of Public Health and WHO in cases of illness and deaths.<br />The Bishop continues by saying that the Church "invites everyone not to reject suspected cases and plague victims, to promptly assume the responsibility of highlighting any minimal symptom because plague is curable, to watch over any attempt of corruption and political manipulation in front of the weakness of the population, and be prepared to report suspicious cases".<br />"Catholic dispensaries are called to contribute and actively collaborate in the care of the sick, respecting all the precautionary measures required. May the Lady of the Rosary accompany us in this struggle, and the grace and the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be always with us", concludes Mgr. Raharilamboniaina.<br />The World Health Organization has also addressed this issue, warning that the disease is spreading rapidly and has a high degree of contagion. Among the first measures to contain the emergency, Prime Minister Olivier Mahafaly Solonandrasana has announced the ban on numerous public meetings, especially in the capital of Antananarivo and major cities.<br />Since 1980 the plague has reappeared annually in the country, generally from October to March. However, the first death was recorded on August 28. According to the Pasteur Institute, plague has hit 40,000 people in Africa and Asia over the past 15 years. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:54:07 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - New war winds on the Nineveh Plainhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63077-ASIA_IRAQ_New_war_winds_on_the_Nineveh_Plainhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63077-ASIA_IRAQ_New_war_winds_on_the_Nineveh_PlainTelkaif - The "Babylonian Brigades", formation of popular protection militias who also count Christian militias in their ranks, have told the Kurdish militia Peshmerga to abandon all areas of the Nineveh Plain under their control, receiving the rejection of military contingents that respond to the government of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the past few days, the Peshmerga had arrested some members of Ryan al Keldani’s clan , head of the so-called "Babylon Brigades". Kurdish sources reported that the Peshmerga deployed in the Nineveh Plain will respond militarily to all armed components that will try to cross the border of the areas they control.<br />The order of the "Babylonian Brigades" and the hypothesis of their attack on Peshmerga posts are just a symptom of the new conflicts that, after the Independent referendum of Kurdistan seem to loom over the vast North-Iraqi regions just liberated from the occupation or jihadist siege of the Islamic State .<br />Among the "disputed areas" between the government of Baghdad and the independent Kurdistan forces, in addition to the oil region of Kirkuk, there is also the Nineveh Plain, an area of traditional roots of native Christian communities. The tensions between the "Babylonian Brigades" and the Kurdish Peshmerga also fuel concerns among Christians who had returned to their villages in the Nineveh Plain over the last few months, having lived long as refugees in the years when Mosul and a part of the province of Nineveh were in the hands of Daesh jihadists. Christian refugees who returned to their homes are afraid to see the Nineveh Plain again turned into a battle ground, this time between the Peshmerga Kurds opposed to the Iraqi army, or the "Babylonian Brigades and other forces of popular mobilization who took part in military operations against Daesh jihadists. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:37:16 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Cardinal Onaiyekan seeks to renegotiate national unityhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63081-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Cardinal_Onaiyekan_seeks_to_renegotiate_national_unityhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63081-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Cardinal_Onaiyekan_seeks_to_renegotiate_national_unityAbuja - "In politics everything is negotiable, also the way of living together" said His Eminence, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, in his speech at the 18th annual lecture of the Catholic Brothers United of St Agnes Catholic Church.<br />Cardinal Onaiyekan has opened up the possibility of renegotiating the form of national unity. "We must be ready", he said, "to renegotiate the terms of our unity, to show that indeed we are serious about staying together, not just as a group of captives locked up in a prison, but rather as a nation of diverse people who have freely decided to live together in unity".<br />"In recent times - the Cardinal added - a lot has been said about Nigeria’s unity and how a national cohesion is non-negotiable. But such a statement does not seem to make much sense to me, because in politics, everything is negotiable".<br />Cardinal Onaiyekan also pointed out and added that although such unity had a cost, separation would carry a heavier cost. He stressed that in most countries that allowed themselves to disintegrate, they had gone with heavy hemorrhage and abiding wounds and scars, citing India and Pakistan.<br />"If we decide that we shall remain together, we should have the courage to do what it takes to build a united country. To do so, we need to build upon the massive resources that God has endowed the country with", concluded the Cardinal.<br />After the Biafra War , the Nigerian Federation underwent several territorial remodeling until reaching its present configuration of 36 federal States. A new political-administrative distribution and a different distribution of powers between the Federal State and individual federal States could meet the demands of the southern populations, who demand a better redistribution of oil yields extracted from their lands.<br />In Nigeria, the Biafra issue has been replicated by the Indigenous People of Biafra , whose leader Nnamdi Kanu seems to be on the run, accused of betrayal and attack on State security. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:25:26 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Marawi is militant-free: now the economic development of Muslim areas is urgenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63079-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Marawi_is_militant_free_now_the_economic_development_of_Muslim_areas_is_urgenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63079-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Marawi_is_militant_free_now_the_economic_development_of_Muslim_areas_is_urgentCotabato - The town of Marawi, on the Filipino island of Mindanao, in the south of the country, has been liberated: the regular army resumed full control over the entire territory which on May 23 had been occupied by Islamist militants, faithful to the Islamic State , who for five months fought, barricaded themselves in the buildings of the capital, while the soldiers besieged the city. The official confirmation of the liberation came from Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte who, in a visit to the city, thanked the soldiers engaged in the venture of freeing Marawi and has officially given the green light regarding the reconstruction phase.<br />Unfortunately 148-day conflict caused over 1,000 victims: 163 soldiers, 822 militants and 47 civilians. Yesterday the army had confirmed the death of terrorist leaders Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon who led the occupation, and were killed by government troops in the early hours of Monday night, October 16.<br />In a message sent to Fides, Bishop Edwin de la Pena, at the head of the Apostolic Prelature of Marwai, hoped that "the death of the terrorist leaders would lead to the end of hostilities and the beginning of a new life for the city", where also the Catholic Cathedral was looted and damaged.<br />Called into question by Fides Agency, Fr. Elisha Mercado, missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, at the head of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance at “Notre Dame University” in Cotabato City, expresses his satisfaction for the end of the conflict, but adds: "Now a battle of ideas begins. Violent extremism against respect and building of peace and common good; Islamic radicalism against dialogue, coexistence and inclusiveness. To win this, a global approach, not just military is needed. It is urgent above all that, in the Muslim majority areas of Mindanao Island, the government works hard for education, employment, economic development, eradication of poverty, and infrastructure construction. Only then one can destroy the grounds of terrorism, financed from abroad, and weaken the influence of radical groups on the Muslim population of Mindanao".<br />Fr. Mercado, among the top experts in the Islamic affair in Mindanao and today a consultant of the Presidential Office for the Peace Process, explains: "We are happy for Marawi, which is now in ruins, but will all be new. But in other cities of Mindanao, such as Zamboanga, Cotabato, Iligan, terrorist action could take place. The challenge today is to understate and remove effectiveness to what they say, and this is only possible in realizing the idea of fully integrating Islamic communities into Philippine society, pulling them out from marginalization and poverty". In this sense, he notes "the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which establishes a new autonomous Muslim region, could help". In this framework, the Church "promotes a full-fledged dialogue and a new, large-scale Islamic-Christian cooperation platform", concludes p. Mercado. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:03:34 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Prayer for seven innocent Christians of Orissa who are imprisonedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63075-ASIA_INDIA_Prayer_for_seven_innocent_Christians_of_Orissa_who_are_imprisonedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63075-ASIA_INDIA_Prayer_for_seven_innocent_Christians_of_Orissa_who_are_imprisonedKochi - The Church in India is in prayer for the release of seven innocent Christians in the Indian state of Orissa, in prison for nine years. Their names are: Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Sanseth, Buddhadev Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Gornath Chalanseth, Munda Badamajhi and Sanatan Badamajhi. As Fides learns, the seven, originally from Kandhamal district, theater of anti-Christian violence which took place in 2007 and 2008, are unjustly accused of being among those responsible of the killing of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, killed in Orissa on 23 August 2008. In 2013 a district court sentenced them and an appeal trial is pending at Cuttack High Court. The hearing of the trial has been postponed several times. The episode of Hindu leader's death was the spark that triggered the anti-Christian violence in 2008. Christians were accused in a pretestuous way of murder, then claimed and attributed to Maoist groups.<br />In recent days, in an assembly of priests held in Kerala on "What Happened in Kandhamal?", the present recalled that the Indian Church organized prayer vigils for the Indian Salesian Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in Yemen and then released. "Now it is urgent to pray for the innocent of Kandhamal", says to Fides journalist and Catholic intellectual Anto Akkara, who has traveled many times to the district and has written several books on the subject. In one of these investigative books, titled "Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?", the journalist reports evidence that clears the seven Christians name.<br />Some priests, in collaboration with Akkara, have elaborated a special prayer that will spread among the Catholic communities in Orissa and other states of India. Bishops, priests, religious and lay Indians throughout the country have confirmed that they will join the prayer campaign for the seven innocent victims. "I have no doubt that faith must lead to action. The blood of martyrs' will inspire the faithful to support the voiceless. After the launch of the campaign, thousands have already begun praying for the innocent of Kandhamal", says Akkara to Fides.<br />Human rights activists, social workers, journalists, and leaders of the Church have contested the district court's conclusions that condemned the seven Christians at first instance: the verdict was based on the theory of a conspiracy lacking evidence and authenticity. Akkara also launched an online petition for the release of the seven, sending it to the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of India, to the President of India and the President of the National Human Rights Commission. "This is for me a journey of faith. The Lord has guided my path in the past nine years, and the petition and the campaign of prayer emerged from the desire for truth and justice", concludes Akkara.<br />The district of Kandhamal in the State of Orissa experienced inter-community tensions and an unprecedented wave of violence during Christmas in 2007 and then since August 2008. The violence lasted for at least four months, killed more than 100 people and 56,000 were left without a home. <br /><br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:05:34 +0200AMERICA - A Synod for 9 Countries that involves more than 500 peopleshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63076-AMERICA_A_Synod_for_9_Countries_that_involves_more_than_500_peopleshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63076-AMERICA_A_Synod_for_9_Countries_that_involves_more_than_500_peoplesLima - The initiative of Pope Francis announced on Sunday, October 15, before the Angelus prayer is fascinating: "Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops' Conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various Pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in October 2019, on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America. The purpose of the assembly will be to identify new paths for the evangelization of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America, especially the indigenous people, often forgotten and without the prospect of a peaceful future. The assembly will also address the crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet".<br />The Pope had already suggested it in the recent meeting with the Bishops of Peru during their ad limina visit in the Vatican: a Synod dedicated to the reflection on peoples and nations living in the Amazon rainforest, peoples of nine countries: Brazil , Peru , Bolivia , Colombia , Ecuador , Venezuela , Suriname, Guyana and French Guyana 0:15%).<br />"This Synod must be an incarnate territorial experience" said to Fides Mauricio López, Executive Secretary of REPAM, Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network. It is true that it is a Synod that represents the effort of the Bishops and of the Church, to respond to a reality that emerges and which is of particular importance to the planet, but it must not only be for the Pan Amazon region, we want it to be a synod of a profoundly territorial nature, that is, we want the voices of those who live there to be present. On one hand, the Bishops obviously, but above all, the incarnate religious life that is donated every day in that territory by priests, missionaries and lay people, males and females".<br />Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as President of REPAM, stressed that "peoples, especially indigenous peoples, and the Amazonian communities are the protagonists of their history. In this case, they should also be subjects of their voice within the Synod". The Cardinal was very pleased with the decision to convene the Synod because, according to his words, "it is not only of universal importance, but because it will have universal repercussions". "It will be celebrated in Rome, so that the Pope can be with us every day in this Synod, and can thus have a worldwide repercussion on the importance of mission in the Church, of missionaries of many centuries ago, but most of all missionaries of today and all the people of the Amazon region, for the Church in Brazil and for other Pan Amazon countries".<br />In the Amazon region of South America, there are 2,797,478 aborigines belonging to 390 indigenous peoples and 137 peoples "not yet involved" completely. There are people who speak 240 different languages that belong to 49 most important linguistic sectors from a historical and cultural point of view. <br />Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:23:53 +0200AFRICA/EGYPT - Coptic Bishop: murder of priest Samaan is a criminal known to security forces, not a "mentally unstable"http://www.fides.org/en/news/63074-AFRICA_EGYPT_Coptic_Bishop_murder_of_priest_Samaan_is_a_criminal_known_to_security_forces_not_a_mentally_unstablehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63074-AFRICA_EGYPT_Coptic_Bishop_murder_of_priest_Samaan_is_a_criminal_known_to_security_forces_not_a_mentally_unstableCairo - The young Egyptian Ahmed Said al-Sonbati, who on Thursday 13 October killed and stabbed Coptic priest Samaan Shahata in a peripheral street in Cairo, is not a person who is mentally unstable but a criminal already known to the police due to previous acts of violence. This is what Anba Stephanos, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Beba, al Fashn and Samasta underlines, so as to reject the versions relaunched by Egyptian media that interpret the murder of the priest as a violent act committed by a mentally ill person. Such voices were actually credited by the same official sources of the Interior Ministry, which have attributed previous criminal convictions - such as attempting to set fire to his own home or physical violence committed against his own father - which would testify the state of "mental disorder".<br />Coptic priest Samaan Shetata, married and father of three children, belonging to a diocese of Upper Egypt, was in Cairo to raise funds in favor of the poor of his region, when he was attacked in the street by Ahmed Said al-Sonbati. After the murder, Coptic Orthodox Bishop Raphael, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, issued a statement in which, among other things, deplored the fact that many criminals and terrorists, authors of violence against Christians, were not affected by any form of punishment, while some were released after the arrest. This anomaly - emphasized Anba Raphael - contributes to spreading the impression that crimes against Christian citizens often remain unpunished. <br />Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:57:06 +0200AFRICA/SOMALIA - The clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia behind the Mogadishu attack?http://www.fides.org/en/news/63073-AFRICA_SOMALIA_The_clash_between_Qatar_and_Saudi_Arabia_behind_the_Mogadishu_attackhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63073-AFRICA_SOMALIA_The_clash_between_Qatar_and_Saudi_Arabia_behind_the_Mogadishu_attackMogadishu - There could be the Gulf crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia behind the Mogadishu attack on October 14, which provoked, according to the latest provisional toll, at least 300 deaths and more than 200 wounded. This is a possible interpretation presented to Agenzia Fides by Luca Puddu, Senior Africa Analyst at the Institute of Global Studies, expert on Somalia.<br />"With all the caution of the case, it can be said that if the government of Mogadiscio accused the Shabaab movement of committing the attack, this bloody act that affects the civilian population, does not help to strengthen the image of the national liberation movement on which the Shabaab try to build their own rhetoric", explains the analyst. "On the other hand, the Shabaab have denied being responsible for the explosion. Given the contingency of the moment, I think the attack aims at weakening the federal government, which is already under investigation for the extradition of Abdikarin Sheikh Muse in Ethiopia about a month ago, a prominent member of the Ogaden National Liberation Front , which provoked strong protests of the parliamentary opposition. A motion of mistrust against Premier Hassan Ali Khayre was presented", says Puddu. "It is also necessary to contextualize the vicissitudes of Somalia, including the latest attack, in the serious clash in the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates on one side, and Qatar on the other. The Somali Federal Government maintains a neutral position in this clash, but in fact more or less openly supports Qatar. Mogadishu has made available its airspace to Qatar Airlines to remedy the closure of Saudi Arabia's airspace and the Emirates, whose governments have repeatedly exerted pressure on the Somali federal authorities so that they take a position of clear condemnation towards Qatar. So far, however, the federal government has resisted the pressure", Puddu recalls.<br />"Moreover, President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed won this year's election thanks to Qatar's financial aid. In fact, he is building a preferential axis with Qatar, and above all with Turkey, ally of Doha, who is building a military base in Somalia, to train Somali army officers and non-commissioners", the analyst adds.<br />"On October 8, in Chisimaio the Presidents of the regional States met to discuss the constitutional reform and the peace process". <br />"Security was top priority of the current president in his winning election campaign" concludes the analyst. <br />Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:43:19 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Crimes against the Dalit increase: alarm of the Churchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63072-ASIA_INDIA_Crimes_against_the_Dalit_increase_alarm_of_the_Churchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63072-ASIA_INDIA_Crimes_against_the_Dalit_increase_alarm_of_the_ChurchNew Delhi - "The growing atrocities on the Dalits give the impression that India is returning to the age of Manu Smriti when Dalits were treated worse than slaves": this is what Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, now emeritus says to Fides, who for years was at the head of the archdiocese of Guwahati, in Northeast India, and worked at the Federation of the Episcopal Conferences in Asia, referring to the ancient "Manu Smriti" system, based on Hindu holy texts, dating back to the year 100 after Christ.<br />The "pariah" or "dalit" are the "outcasts" or 5th caste in the Hindu social and religious system, which also includes tribals.<br />"The media reported recently that a 21- year-old Dalit man was beaten to death allegedly by a group of men belonging to a senior caste in Anand district, Gujarat. According to the news, he was killed only for reasons of caste", explains Mgr. Menamparampil.<br />In another incident, two Dalits were beaten at the end of September in the village of Limbodra in Gandhinagar district. On October 4, Dalit activists <br />protested in Gandhinagar signaling the growing violence against Dalits. In July 2016, four Dalits were tied to a car and lashed for the alleged killing of a cow while they were only removing the carcass.<br />"During the 2014 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken of the development model of Gujarat as ideal. The atrocities carried out on the Dalits in Gujarat highlight that something is fundamentally wrong in the social model of Gujarat. The government of Gujarat did not manage to stop the<br />discrimination against Dalits and attacks on innocents continue", notes Mgr. Menamparampil.<br />Recent studies and investigations reveal widespread discrimination against the Dalits, especially in rural districts. The "Dalit Sangathan Gujarat" organization, which defends the rights, speaks of "the government's lethargic attitude in Gujarat": "The government had ensured that the case of the Dalits publicly lashed would have been dealt within 60 days. A year later, the 12 accused are out of jail on bail. In such circumstances, how can one have hope in justice in this system?".<br />The Indian Constitution provides strict action against atrocities on Dalits, but the law has not been enforced. On October 3, the Indian newspaper "Times of India" reported figures of crimes against Dalits. "The cases of atrocity against the outcasts grew dramatically from 26,127 in 2005 to 45,003 in 2015. Analysts say that after the Baratiya Janata Party took power, atrocities against Dalits have increased".<br />According to Archbishop Emeritus Shillong, "BJP has adopted various strategies to gain the votes of Dalits, but on the other hand Hindu extremist organizations that support that party, such as Sangh Parivar and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh , have not changed mindset and glorify the era of Manu Smriti". According to Savarkar, an RSS ideologist, "Manu Smriti's code is an adorable writing for our Hindu nation and is the basis of our culture, customs, thoughts and practices". Among these practices, many are discriminatory and even derisive towards Dalits.<br />"Groups such as Sangh Parivar would like to reintroduce them in today’s India, or to keep the Dalits and tribal in the nation without giving them equal dignity, rights and freedoms", explains to Fides Fr. Suresh Mathew, OFM, Indian Franciscan Friar. And he adds: "As long as a government influenced and guided by the ideology of Hindutva and Manu Smriti remains in power, discrimination and violence on Dalits are set to increase. The new generation of Dalit leaders has to work together with secular forces to prevent the drift of Indian society towards Manu Smriti". <br /><br />Mon, 16 Oct 2017 14:04:47 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - Buddhists and Christians in Myanmar await the Pope's visithttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63067-ASIA_MYANMAR_Buddhists_and_Christians_in_Myanmar_await_the_Pope_s_visithttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63067-ASIA_MYANMAR_Buddhists_and_Christians_in_Myanmar_await_the_Pope_s_visitYangon - Buddhists and Christians in Myanmar are waiting for Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November with enthusiasm. Since October 12, a huge poster has been placed in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Yangon, with the image of Pope Francis, which announces the trip and welcomes him to the country.<br />"We are grateful to God and to Pope Francis for his next visit to this Buddhist majority country. It is the first time we host a Pope. We hope his presence and his visit will serve to promote peace and reconciliation", says to Fides Zarni Saya, a young Catholic of the diocese in Pathein.<br />"The theme chosen by the Pope as the leitmotif of the travel, peace and reconciliation, is significant for everyone in the country. Society in Myanmar suffered a lot in the past. Today, the nation is more open to freedom and hope, despite the many challenges the country faces, including the delicate issue of Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine State", remarks Saya<br />For the Sucitta Buddhist monk, "the presence of the Pope will instill good will in everyone. Society in general can find the way for a renewal".<br />"The Pope’s visit to the country will be a symbol of God's concern for this people who suffered a lot in the past decades: I am sure that he will encourage everyone to work together for prosperity and development", adds Esther Byu, who in the past was Executive Secretary of the Commission for Women in the Ecumenical Christian Conference of Asia. .<br />According to the official program of the visit, announced by the Holy See on Tuesday, November 27 in Nay Pyi Taw, the welcome ceremony will take place in the Presidential Palace where the Pope will meet President Htin Kyaw and Aung San Suu Kyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the afternoon he will speak to civil society and the diplomatic corps, and then return to Yangon by plane. On the morning of November 29, Pope Francis will preside Mass in Kyaikkasan Groun in Yangon. Two appointments are scheduled in the afternoon: the first is the meeting with the “Sangha” Supreme Council of the Buddhist monks, the second with the Bishops of the Country, in the Cathedral of Yangon. The latter will also be the venue for the papal masses with young people the next day, November 30, at 10 am. Then the departure for Bangladesh where the Pope will stay until December 2.<br />In Myanmar there are over 51 million people, mostly Buddhist. According to government data related to the year 2016, in Myanmar there are 88.9% Buddhists, 6.3% Christians, 2.3% Muslims, 0.5% Hindu, 0.8% Animists, 0.2% others and other minorities not belonging to any religion. Catholics are about 700,000, divided into 16 dioceses. <br />Mon, 16 Oct 2017 13:25:53 +0200AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Commitment to the defense of life, family, democracy: a Church which "goes forth"http://www.fides.org/en/news/63066-AMERICA_BOLIVIA_Commitment_to_the_defense_of_life_family_democracy_a_Church_which_goes_forthhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63066-AMERICA_BOLIVIA_Commitment_to_the_defense_of_life_family_democracy_a_Church_which_goes_forthSucre – To commit oneself in order to intervene more decisively in defense of the lives of the most vulnerable, against human trafficking, migration and the danger of losing democracy: is the goal expressed by more than 1,500 people who participated in the VII National Missionary Congress held in Sucre. As Fides learns, Bishops, priests and lay faithful, attended the assembly entitled "The Gospel is Joy, Proclaim it!". The VII Missionary Congress allowed Bolivian Catholics to "analyze their prophetic responsibility in society, in the family, in politics, and in all areas where we need the presence of the Gospel of Jesus", reads the note sent to Fides by a local source. <br />In the conclusions, read yesterday at the closing ceremony at the auditorium of the Sagrado Corazon school, the participants learned that there is "a weak testimony and a passiveness in front of events and new laws that depenalize and promote abortion, impose the gender ideology that is contrary to the natural identity of the person, and affects the family and society".<br />Strengthened by the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, after five days of meeting, the missionaries concluded that the Bolivian Catholic Church should be more involved in the fight against human trafficking, for the protection of victims and must face the problem of migration from the countryside to the city with greater strength.<br />The prophetic mission should encourage missionaries to be present in social organizations, neighborhood councils, trade unions, universities, even at a political level, especially for the defense of life and human rights. Likewise greater attention is needed towards the family, for situations of abandonment, separation and divorce.<br />On Friday, October 13, during the Mass concelebrated by several Bishops and priests in Plaza 25 de Mayo, the President of the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, His Exc. Mgr. Ricardo Centellas, invited everyone to become a "Church which goes forth" to go out into the street to meet children, young people, workers, migrants and peasant communities, and present them the Gospel of Jesus as a response to government attempts to impose a culture of death. He then denounced the manipulation of life by ideological and economic interests that contradict the life and do not respect human rights. Mgr. Centellas asked "not to allow division to be stronger than the union of families, parishes and Bolivian homeland. We are apostles of unity!".<br />He then continued: "We cannot allow populism to gradually become dictatorships in our society, we cannot allow it to kill TIPNIS . <br />Therefore, before this culture of death, in the spirit of Jesus, we must say that you will not defeat us".<br />After thanking the organizers for the success of such a big meeting, the Archbishop of Sucre, Mgr. Jesús Juárez, recalled "the need to fulfill these tasks as missionaries, in preparation for the Fifth American Missionary Congress that will take place in Santa Cruz in a few months". <br />Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:51:40 +0200NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Central Africa, the strenuous search for peace, in the midst of violencehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63058-NEWS_ANALYSIS_OMNIS_TERRA_Central_Africa_the_strenuous_search_for_peace_in_the_midst_of_violencehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63058-NEWS_ANALYSIS_OMNIS_TERRA_Central_Africa_the_strenuous_search_for_peace_in_the_midst_of_violenceIn the history of the Central African Republic, there is a "first" and "after" Pope Francis’ visit. The country ended up under the spotlight of the world media in November 2015 thanks to the Holy Father’s visit and the opening of the first Holy Door and Jubilee of Mercy in Bangui, its capital, thus becoming the "spiritual capital of the world".<br />Pope Francis’ visit came on the eve of the constitutional referendum and presidential elections that were held in December and that should have marked a turning point towards the stabilization of the Country. The "Francis effect" was felt above all in the capital of Bangui, but it is true that many parts of the country remains in the hands of the "Seleka" armed groups where massacres, violence and abuses of all kinds are carried out. How was this dramatic situation born and why did it develop? A historical reconstruction helps to understand it. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="http://omnisterra.fides.org/articles/view/55">Continue to read News analysis-Omnis terra</a>Sat, 14 Oct 2017 15:41:32 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - Demonstration of Iraqi Christian refugees: We do not want to go back to Iraq, give us permission to emigratehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63063-ASIA_LEBANON_Demonstration_of_Iraqi_Christian_refugees_We_do_not_want_to_go_back_to_Iraq_give_us_permission_to_emigratehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63063-ASIA_LEBANON_Demonstration_of_Iraqi_Christian_refugees_We_do_not_want_to_go_back_to_Iraq_give_us_permission_to_emigrateBeirut - Some dozen Iraqi Christian refugees organized a demonstration in Beirut on Wednesday, 11 October in front of the offices of the High Commissioner for Refugees to ask the competent authorities to remove the obstacles posed to their expulsion requests towards other Countries, registered in the competent offices of several foreign diplomatic missions operating in the Lebanese capital. The demonstrators reiterated that they have no intention of being repatriated to Iraq, and have also expressed critical considerations towards their respective ecclesiastical authorities, arguing that they also contribute to curbing and preventing the granting of expatriation permits, because they are afraid to see the Christian presence in Iraq irreparably diminish.<br />The demonstration confirms the impression that much of the Christian refugees who have left Iraq have no intention of returning to their country, and they do not even intend to take root in Lebanon, but hope to emigrate soon to some Western country. <br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:00:42 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Archbishop Takami: "Justo Takayama Ukon, an example for today's Christians"http://www.fides.org/en/news/63062-ASIA_JAPAN_Archbishop_Takami_Justo_Takayama_Ukon_an_example_for_today_s_Christianshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63062-ASIA_JAPAN_Archbishop_Takami_Justo_Takayama_Ukon_an_example_for_today_s_ChristiansRome - "The Samurai of Christ, Justo Takayama Ukon - beatified on February 7, 2017 in Osaka - lived an authentic, honest, sincere, and deep Christian life. He was recognized as a martyr, even though he was not killed. He was persecuted and had to abandon all his wealth and social status. His example is very important and valuable to us. It is significant for the faithful of our time. We, Japanese Bishops personally thanked the Holy Father for the beatification. That is why we came to the Vatican, and we are also happy to remember and celebrate the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Holy See and Japan": says to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami at the head of the Archdiocese of Nagasaki and President of the Bishops' Conference of Japan.<br />"Christians in Japan need to look up to and learn from Ukon", notes the Archbishop. "Perhaps because of Japan's mentality and culture" - he explains -"our faithful are reluctant to talking about their Christian faith to others. Today we need a more explicit Gospel proclamation. Let us remember that Ukon was very happy to have received from God the gift of the Christian faith and talked about it to all the people around him: friends, subjects, acquaintances. And many of them approached faith through these words. In this sense Ukon is an example to follow. There is in the common mentality the belief that faith is almost a 'family affair', that only in an already Catholic family there can be new baptized. It is necessary to overcome this paradigm".<br />Moreover, the Archbishop adds, "Ukon always put God in first place. He preferred the Lord Jesus Christ to his property, to the well-being of life without any doubt. This example today makes us think of how many times material possessions separate us from God. Every day a baptized must choose God and too easily the Japanese, in a secular society, give priority to tangible goods: that is the first concern".<br />In today's Japan, he concludes, "It is very important to reflect on the mission of the Church and the recent Letter that the Pope addressed to us, delivered by Cardinal Fernando Filoni in the recent trip, makes us reflect on the importance of evangelization. The challenges in our land are so many. We live in a society that does not seem very interested in spiritual life, but is rather centered on economy. It is urgent to give our faithful a deepening of faith and greater formation. We are confident that, thanks to Ukon's figure, and with the grace of Christ, we will be able to start a renewal of the mission". <br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:32:22 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Msgr. Mathew Hu Xiande, tireless pastor and passionate promoter of the study of the Biblehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63061-ASIA_CHINA_Msgr_Mathew_Hu_Xiande_tireless_pastor_and_passionate_promoter_of_the_study_of_the_Biblehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63061-ASIA_CHINA_Msgr_Mathew_Hu_Xiande_tireless_pastor_and_passionate_promoter_of_the_study_of_the_BibleNingbo – In the early hours of 25 September, His Exc. Msgr. Mathew Hu Xiande, Bishop of Ningbo , in Zhejiang Province died at the age 83. He had been hospitalized for a few days because he suffered from cancer.<br />He was born on August 27, 1934 in Zhejiang Province, and was baptized in 1949. In September 1950 he studied at the minor Seminaries of the diocese of Ningbo, and in 1957 of Xujiahui, in Sheshan. <br />In 1965 he had to leave the seminary because of persecution and spent many years in forced labor camps until 1978. After being rehabilitated, he continued to work as a simple farmer in his native village until 1984.<br />In 1985 he had the opportunity to resume theology courses at Shanghai Seminary and on November 21, 1985 he was ordained a priest. From 1987 to 2000 he was a pastor of Cixixinpu, where he spent all his pastoral efforts to build a lively Catholic community. Ordained Bishop coadjutor of Ningbo on May 14, 2000 by Msgr. Giuseppe Ma Xuesheng, he succeeded in leading the diocese until May 8, 2004.<br />He was a tireless pastor for the revival of the ecclesiastical community of Ningbo, which had almost disappeared in the years of the cultural revolution. He was also a passionate promoter of the study of the Bible. He also encouraged the spread of the second Vatican Ecumenical Council and updated liturgical texts. He suffered a lot for the Church during his life, and despite the trials, he persevered in faith and fidelity to the Pope. When he died, the Successor took possession of the diocese of Ningbo.<br />For three days, Msgr. Hu's body was honored in the church of Jianbei by many people who always loved and respected him as their pastor. <br />On the morning of September 27, the Mass was celebrated, while the funeral was held the following day with the numerous participation of priests and faithful. Today, the diocese of Ningbo has about 23,000 faithful, about thirty priests and thirty nuns. <br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:19:25 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The "horrible night" of Tumaco: abandonment, violence and death, invisible borders, drug traffickinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63060-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_horrible_night_of_Tumaco_abandonment_violence_and_death_invisible_borders_drug_traffickinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63060-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_horrible_night_of_Tumaco_abandonment_violence_and_death_invisible_borders_drug_traffickingTumaco - "All these acts of violence and death that have occurred throughout the history of our region, in addition to abandonment and marginalization by the State, have created the propitious scenario for the emergence and growth of armed groups in our country, also favoring the entry of corruption in our institutions": this is how the statement of the diocese of Tumaco sent to Fides begins, which denounces the "horrible" situation in which the population lives.<br />"The Bishop, the clergy and pastoral operators, aware of what happens - abandonment of the State, violence, drug trafficking, indifference, poverty and marginalization - invites us to analyze our situation and discover hope, dialogue and order as way to overcome this horrible night", says the statement.<br />The statement then informs of a reality that media do not report with due evidence: "there are selective deaths, the re-activation of the "invisible borders", there is once again the social control of illegal armed groups, there are missing persons, increased drug consumption among young people, forced displacement and forced recruitment of children: boys and girls". "That is why - continues the text - the death of 6 people on October 5 in Tandil becomes even more serious. All this is for us a cause of indignation" . The statement denounces drug trafficking as the main sin in society, which has upset the reality and destroyed families and personal, family and community life projects".<br />Mgr. Orlando Olave Villanoba energetically invites the authorities to clarify all situations of violent clashes, especially that on October 5 in Tandil. He therefore asks the central government to submit development projects for the abandoned area and finally encourages the community to continue to hope for order and security that come from the force with which everyone breaks ties with any illegal or violent activity, in order to build together with others an authentic community.<br />The so-called "invisible borders" have long been a nightmare for the population. If it is relatively easy to locate them in cities, as every neighborhood is under the power of a criminal gang and it is therefore dangerous to venture out if you do not live in the countryside, abandoned by the State, the situation was and still remains very different. In some parts of the country, the FARC or other groups of guerrillas or armed groups of drug trafficking, establish boundaries that divide and close entire populations, small inhabited centers or groups of farmers, who would like to live in peace and instead find themselves being targets of the violence among armed criminal groups. <br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 13:18:27 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Peace is built with prayer: visit of the Community of Taizé in South Sudanhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63059-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Peace_is_built_with_prayer_visit_of_the_Community_of_Taize_in_South_Sudanhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63059-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Peace_is_built_with_prayer_visit_of_the_Community_of_Taize_in_South_SudanRumbek - Peace is born from the heart of every man and is built in society and in the nation through prayer: this is the message left by the representatives of the Community of Taizé to the youngsters in schools in South Sudan. As Fides learns, the girls of a Catholic secondary school in South Sudan, under the guidance of the Sisters of Loreto, continue to draw inspiration from the Community of Taizé, an ecumenical community founded in France.<br />Sister Orla Treacy, headmistress of the “Loreto Girls Secondary School” in the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan, told Fides about the meeting between the girls of her institute and the communities of Taizé present in Kenya and France: "We nurtured a long friendship with the community of Taize in Kenya, thanks to visits by brother Luc from Nairobi in South Sudan. Last year, two of our graduates spent three months with the community and with the young of Taizé in France", continues Sister Orla.<br />116 young students graduated at the "Loreto Girls Secondary School" in Rumbek between 2011 and 2017 and currently the school has 240 girls enrolled. Speaking of the recent visit by two brothers of Taizé at the school in South Sudan, Sister Orla tells Fides about the students’ appreciation for the message of the community of Taizé: "the message of Taizé is that of reconciliation and peace. We had asked brother Luc to come back and share with us the spirit of their community and we were even happier when he told me that even brother Alois, the Prior of Taizé, would gladly come to visit South Sudan".<br />The two brothers of Taizé spent several days in Juba before coming to Rumbek. In Juba, they visited displaced persons in refugee camps. When they arrived in Rumbek, they visited the local Catholic and religious communities, while also spending a morning visiting the leprosy just outside of Rumbek. In the afternoon, the meeting was held with the young people with whom they prayed, read the Bible, sung.<br />Sister Orla explains to Fides: "Given the situation we live in South Sudan, despite the difficulties and conflictual social climate, we always try to find ways to help girls connect deeply with God and find peace within themselves". And the girls have learned to appreciate and love the style of prayer and the songs of the community of Taizé, continuing to pray that way even when the two brothers left".<br />South Sudan, the youngest nation in the world, after several months of political tensions, sunk in a civil war in December 2013 when faithful security officers clashed with those loyal to Vice President Riek Machar.<br />In this context, the message left by brother Luc "was a message of peace and strong encouragement. Brother Alois reminded the girls of praying for peace in South Sudan and the youth of South Sudan. He invited the girls to bring the light of Christ into their lives, the only one that can give hope and peace to each heart", concludes Sister Orla Treacy. <br /><br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 12:43:54 +0200VATICAN - The cause of beatification of Cardinal Celso Costantini openshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63057-VATICAN_The_cause_of_beatification_of_Cardinal_Celso_Costantini_openshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63057-VATICAN_The_cause_of_beatification_of_Cardinal_Celso_Costantini_opensRome - On 17 October, on the day of his death 59 years ago, the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification and canonization of Cardinal Celso Costantini opens in the Cathedral of Concordia Sagittaria, diocese of Concordia-Pordenone. Parish priest and later general vicar of this diocese, at the end of World War I he committed himself to reorganizing the pastoral activity, reconstruct destroyed churches and assist the survivors, as well as promoting Christian art. Apostolic Administrator of Fiume, he worked for the salvation of this martyred city in particularly difficult historical circumstances.<br />"He was appointed Apostolic Delegate in China, he presided over the first Chinese Council in 1924, firmly committed to the formation of the local clergy and prepared the consecration of the first Chinese Bishops, in 1927 he founded the Congregatio Discipulorum Domini, the first Chinese male religious institute, inaugurated the Chinese Catholic Action and Fu Jen University in Beijing. As Secretary of the Holy Congregation of Propaganda Fide, he became involved in the establishment of indigenous hierarchies and Christian inculturation. During the Second World War, many people were in danger of life. Having become Cardinal and Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, he pledged for peace in the world and for the renewal of the Church, and this is why he proposed the convening of an ecumenical council".<br />"There is huge expectation in the diocese, because the figure of Celso Costantini is extremely alive", says to Agenzia Fides Mgr. Bruno Fabio Pighin, Episcopal Delegate for the Cause, Ordinary Professor of Canon Law in Venice, explaining that from the well-known historical figure, traits of Constantini’s sanctity were revealed, and adds: "We have already testimonies of graces and it is believed they were received for his intercession". Cardinal Costantini wrote a lot, and on the one hand this facilitates the investigation work on some aspects, on the other it increases the complexity, emphasizes Mgr. Pighin.<br />At the opening of the diocesan phase there will be some thirty priests, all of Chinese origin, of the Congregatio Discipulorum Domini, founded by Constantini, led by the Superior General and his Council, who are in Italy for the 90th anniversary of the institute and the opening of the process. For this reason, they were received during the audience by Pope Francis, who "was particularly pleased to welcome them", says Mgr. Pighin who accompanied them. One of them, Father Simon Ee Kim Chong, who is currently studying in Italy, was appointed Vice Postulator of the cause of beatification. <br />Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:24:04 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Orissa, theater of anti-Christian violence, becomes a place of pilgrimage and inspirationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63056-ASIA_INDIA_Orissa_theater_of_anti_Christian_violence_becomes_a_place_of_pilgrimage_and_inspirationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/63056-ASIA_INDIA_Orissa_theater_of_anti_Christian_violence_becomes_a_place_of_pilgrimage_and_inspirationBhubaneswar – The victims of anti-Christian violence perpetrated in the Indian state of Orissa in 2007 and 2008 "are testimonies of authentic faith, that overcame difficulties and persecution, and today inspire many people in India and abroad": says Archbishop John Barwa, at the head of the Archdiocese of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa , to Agenzia Fides. The district of Kandhamal, theater of that violence, has become a "place of pilgrimage where one listens to the testimony of survivors and therefore share solidarity with the victims, who are economically poor people, but strong and rich spiritually", explains the Bishop<br />As Fides learns, a delegation of 45 women, representatives of 14 Indian regions, convened by the Bishops' Conference of India for the National Meeting on "The Role of Women in creating the Family" gathered in Kandhamal. The delegation was led by Mgr. Jacob Mar Barnabas, President of the National Bishops' Commission for Women and by Sister Talisha Nadukudiyil, Secretary of the Commission.<br />After the visit, Mgr. Jacob Mar Barnabas told Fides: "We visited a land of martyrs, we have a rich experience of faith that we must proclaim. These people need our solidarity. We shared their pain and suffering lived through faith in Jesus. These people shared his same cross. We too are called to live and proclaim that Christ is the Lord, like the people of Kandhamal. Their experience can be very important especially for young Indians".<br />"We are called not to be just spectators. Before our brothers and sisters who have shown so much courage in defending faith, it is not enough to show sympathy and to listen to their story: it is necessary to engage, as a unique community, for the entire process of reconstruction. Only then our visit will be fruitful. This is a task for the entire Church in India", added Mgr. Barnabas.<br />"My husband sacrificed his life so as not to not deny Christ. His sacrifice made me stronger in faith in Jesus. Every single breath I take today is the breath of faith in Jesus, which my husband witnessed with his life", said to those present widow Kanakarekha Nayak, wife of Christian Parikit Nayak, attacked and tortured by Hindu militants.<br />"This visit caused emotion and I was really inspired and strengthened in the faith in Jesus", says Chinama Jacob, a Catholic woman of Delhi, after listening to these stories. "I would like to come to Kandhamal and teach local students", adds Mary Lucia from Tamil Nadu.<br />"Many women expressed the desire to economically and materially help the local community", says Sister Bibiana Barla, regional secretary of the Bishop’s Commission in Orissa.<br />The whole group of women experienced so much love and affection from the villagers, despite their suffering and poverty. "Even if the people are poor and illiterate, their faith is firm in God's word", explains to Fides sister Talisha Nadukudiyil, promising commitment to nurturing co-operation and friendship.<br />In the wake of indiscriminate violence perpetrated in Kandhamal in 2008, about 100 Christians were killed by militant Hindu extremists, and the violence engulfed 600 Christian villages, 5,600 homes were looted, 295 churches and other places of worship destroyed, including 13 schools and leprosies. About 56,000 Christians in Kandhamal had to flee to save themselves and became refugees. During the violence, the faithful were told that the condition for them to remain in that district was to become a Hindu. <br />Thu, 12 Oct 2017 09:04:25 +0200