Fides News Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency Newsen-usAFRICA/EGYPT - Candidates Sabbahi and al-Sisi at the Easter Vigil to be celebrated by Coptic Pope Tawadroshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35599-AFRICA_EGYPT_Candidates_Sabbahi_and_al_Sisi_at_the_Easter_Vigil_to_be_celebrated_by_Coptic_Pope_Tawadroshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35599-AFRICA_EGYPT_Candidates_Sabbahi_and_al_Sisi_at_the_Easter_Vigil_to_be_celebrated_by_Coptic_Pope_TawadrosCairo - The Egyptian presidential candidates Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi may both participate in the Easter Vigil to be held on Saturday evening in the cathedral of San Marco, in the district of Abbasiya in Cairo. The liturgy will be celebrated by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II. The security around the cathedral will be assured by the police and the army, joined by volunteers from the Coptic community.<br />Former General al-Sisi, who has already submitted the necessary signatures in support of his candidacy, is recognized by all observers as the favorite in the upcoming presidential elections on 27-28 May. Recently, the general said that "the religious issue is the biggest battle and challenge that the Egyptian people have to face", hoping in the triumph of a "new vision" and a "modern, adequate understanding of the Islamic religion". Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SINGAPORE - Archbishop Goh: Easter invites us to "proclaim the Gospel with joy and passion"http://www.fides.org/en/news/35598-ASIA_SINGAPORE_Archbishop_Goh_Easter_invites_us_to_proclaim_the_Gospel_with_joy_and_passionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35598-ASIA_SINGAPORE_Archbishop_Goh_Easter_invites_us_to_proclaim_the_Gospel_with_joy_and_passionSingapore - Easter invites all the faithful "to proclaim the Gospel with joy in our reality in Singapore": This is what the Archbishop of Singapore, William Goh says in his Easter message, addressed to all the faithful. In the message, sent to Fides, Archbishop Goh recalls that Resurrection means "to win despair with hope, overcome hatred with love, injustice with forgiveness" and proposes to the faithful three elements of reflection.<br />The first is "new life in Christ": "The triumph of God on the cross cancels sin and death once and for all and gives us new hope. As children of hope, we try to free ourselves from anger, malice, gossip, and to live as new creatures in Christ", "as resurrected children" in everyday circumstances, in personal life, family and work.<br />The second point is the "personal encounter with the risen Lord", which is the central message of Easter, the Archbishop notes. "The presence of the disciples to the tomb makes us reflect: only when we have experienced this encounter, we can know the love of the Father", explains the message, inviting the faithful "to a Christ-centered life". The encounter with Christ, in fact, "is an experience that involves the heart, the mind and the body". And from the encounter with the Risen Christ, who "is not a mere intellectual understanding of faith, we find the strength to go through the trials and challenges of life".<br />The third point is to "move forward with joy": "The Gospel is the source of our joy and must be proclaimed with joy and passion" in the reality of Singapore. "It should be presented as something beautiful: this beauty is Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, who comes to give us life in abundance, a joy that the world cannot give, and the truth that makes us free". The text ends with a warm "welcome" to the newly baptized brothers and with the hope that they can be filled with the grace of God Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HONDURAS - Appeal to clarify the murder of an employee of Radio Progresohttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35597-AMERICA_HONDURAS_Appeal_to_clarify_the_murder_of_an_employee_of_Radio_Progresohttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35597-AMERICA_HONDURAS_Appeal_to_clarify_the_murder_of_an_employee_of_Radio_ProgresoYoro - Another person who works in the popular media has been murdered in Honduras: we are talking about Carlos Hilario Mejia Orellana, head of the marketing and sales of "Radio Progreso", a member of the Equipe of Reflection, Investigation and Communication of the Society of Jesus in Honduras. The man was stabbed to death on Friday, April 11 in his home in the town of Progreso, Yoro Department, in the north of the country, in spite of the fact he enjoyed individual protection measures assigned by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights since 2009.<br />"This criminal act against Carlos Mejia Orellana - said the Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno, director of the radio and also a member of the ERIC, in the statement sent to Fides him - is a blow against our work, against our institution and so we have to denounce this fact, because it violates the work of communication, it violates our right to freedom of expression and violates life of every member of our team. The fact that this criminal act took place on the eve of Holy Week, when everything is closed for the holidays, especially the institutions responsible for the administration of justice" is highly suspicious.<br />The appeal to a serious and rigorous investigation to clarify the circumstances of the murder and punish the guilty, was launched by the NGOs working in the area, by Reporters Without Borders , with the support of Fr. Ismael Moreno. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/KENYA - "Ensure a safe country for us and future generations with respect for human rights", asks Cardinal Njuehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35596-AFRICA_KENYA_Ensure_a_safe_country_for_us_and_future_generations_with_respect_for_human_rights_asks_Cardinal_Njuehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35596-AFRICA_KENYA_Ensure_a_safe_country_for_us_and_future_generations_with_respect_for_human_rights_asks_Cardinal_NjueNairobi - Combining the needs of security with respect for human rights, without discrimination of religion , tribe or ethnicity. This is what the main Christian denominations in Kenya have asked on behalf of Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, during a press conference held in the All Saints Cathedral Church in the Kenyan capital, addressing a common message to the faithful for Easter.<br />In Kenya after the recent attacks attributed to the Shabaab Somali, security forces have launched a major campaign to search for the suspects, that have raised criticisms and concerns on behalf of various humanitarian agencies for fear of discrimination against refugees and citizens of Somali origin. Since April 4, 4,000 people have been arrested throughout Kenya and particularly in the Somali neighborhood of Nairobi, Eastleigh. After being detained in police centers or stadiums to be identified and questioned, some of those arrested were later released while 82 Somalis were expelled from the Country.<br />"We urge the President and all relevant government agencies to intensify their ongoing efforts and ensure a safe Country for us and future generations", said the Cardinal. At the same time he asked security agencies to handle the ongoing operation in a humane manner as "the dignity of life should at all times remain a priority".<br />Cardinal Njue recalled the spread of illegal arms in the Country, which has reached "alarming" levels and contributes to violent crimes. "Armed robbery, cattle rustling, wildlife poaching, rape and other petty crimes should also be dealt with", said the Cardinal, who denounced the fact that "behind every illegal firearm there lies a tale of corruption and negligence". Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/NEPAL - Great joy for 60 newly baptized during the Easter Vigilhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35595-ASIA_NEPAL_Great_joy_for_60_newly_baptized_during_the_Easter_Vigilhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35595-ASIA_NEPAL_Great_joy_for_60_newly_baptized_during_the_Easter_VigilKathmandu - "We are preparing ourselves to live an atmosphere of great joy to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. For our small Catholic community this is the biggest feast, and this year about 60 people will be Baptized during the Easter vigil": This is what Fr. Pius Perumana, Pro-Vicar Apostolic of Nepal said in an interview with Fides Agency.<br />"The catechumens have lived a time of great expectations for the day in which they will become full members of the Church. They prepared themselves for Easter with strong moments of repentance, fasting and prayer during Lent" he says. "In all the parishes of the Kathmandu valley we experienced an intense Lenten journey, with moments of spiritual retreat and significant initiatives of solidarity and help towards the poor", he says.<br />Easter in Nepal is a time of great joy and also of "public witness": "Christian communities celebrate Easter, all over the country, not only with the celebrations in churches, but also with parades and public events of joy to announce the beauty of faith, Christ's victory over death and the certainty of eternal life" says the pro-Vicar to Fides.<br />Christians in Nepal have enjoyed greater religious freedom since 2008, when the Hindu monarchy was abolished and the country became a republic. According to information sent to Fides by the Apostolic Vicariate, Catholics in Nepal are about 8,000, while the Christians are a total of 7% out of a population of about 30 million inhabitants. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch Sako's Easter Message, with a thought to the electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35594-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarch_Sako_s_Easter_Message_with_a_thought_to_the_electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35594-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarch_Sako_s_Easter_Message_with_a_thought_to_the_electionsBaghdad - "I hope that the Easter celebrations, Easter of Resurrection and new life, put an end to the suffering of our people". This is the hope expressed in the Easter message issued by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael Sako. "Despite the worrying situation in Iraq", says the Chaldean Patriarch in the message sent to Fides Agency, the celebrations of Holy Week "keep alive our Christian memory and give us a living hope. Jesus is the heart of these events, his body destroyed and then resurrected is the force that drives us to new life. Even in the darkest hours, his resurrection rises like the sun on us and on mankind".<br />His Beatitude Sako invites everyone to "meet in our churches and homes to celebrate, pray, give thanks, rejoice together and help one another" and to be for everyone, in every situation, "a living example in community life through our behavior, loyalty, our renunciation and our love". With this spirit - said the Patriarch - "no one is in a position to feel threatened".<br />The Easter message also offers the Head of the Chaldean Church an opportunity to highlight the importance of the forthcoming elections in a country still torn by sectarian violence: "We need to participate in the upcoming vote in large numbers, with a spirit of responsibility", writes Patriarch Sako, suggesting to choose "qualified and loyal people, who are committed to the good of the country and for its progress, focusing on the true values of freedom, dignity and social justice". The national elections, scheduled for April 30, will have to select the 325 members of parliament , called in turn to elect the President and the Prime Minister of Iraq, in compliance with the system which reserves the presidential office to a Kurd and that of Prime Minister to a Shiite. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Appeal to the Italian government to ask for "the repeal of the blasphemy law in Pakistan"http://www.fides.org/en/news/35593-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Appeal_to_the_Italian_government_to_ask_for_the_repeal_of_the_blasphemy_law_in_Pakistanhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35593-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Appeal_to_the_Italian_government_to_ask_for_the_repeal_of_the_blasphemy_law_in_PakistanRome - An appeal to the Italian government comes from the Federation of Pakistani Associations in Italy: Adan Farhaj Bakhsh, president of the Federation, in a message sent to Fides, calls on the Italian government to intervene "and ask the Pakistani government for the repeal of the blasphemy law in Pakistan". <br />The appeal was launched thanks to a motion approved unanimously by the Regional Council of the Marche region. "The complaint of the President of the Federation, who has asked for our support, is clear. This law provides for the death penalty for those who fail to respect the Prophet Muhammad, and is often used for private purposes, attacking in particular religious minorities in Pakistan", said the motion, sent to Fides.<br />The approved text continues: "Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are a fundamental right of every individual: we cannot remain indifferent. 85% of the cases are false allegations of blasphemy. The Christian Sawan Masih is one of the latest victims of this law, sentenced to death for unjust accusations of blasphemy. The couple Shafqat and Shagufta Emmanuel and Asia Bibi are just some of those who are unjustly detained, on which weighs a death sentence for blasphemy. Every nation should raise their voice against these injustices and ask the Pakistani government for the release of imprisoned innocent people and the abolition of this unjust law that stifles the essence of freedom", said the motion. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/PERU - Small producers of pineapple take a step forward in the domestic market, with the support of Caritashttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35592-AMERICA_PERU_Small_producers_of_pineapple_take_a_step_forward_in_the_domestic_market_with_the_support_of_Caritashttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35592-AMERICA_PERU_Small_producers_of_pineapple_take_a_step_forward_in_the_domestic_market_with_the_support_of_CaritasSatipo - With the support of Caritas Peru, the small pineapple producers of Satipo, in the Peruvian jungle, were able to take a step forward in the domestic and international market. We are talking about "Agroideas", a statewide initiative that promotes sustainable activities in the sale of groceries. Within the program, funding was obtained to improve the production of juice and pineapple pulp, which is currently 480 tonnes per year, with the goal of reaching 720 tons, destined for the domestic and international market.<br />The note sent to Fides Agency reports that for Caritas Peru the fact that small producers are included in a very competitive market with a quality product is a great success. Caritas Peru began this work in 2002 and, following the improvement of production, in 2007 it introduced other varieties of pineapple, focusing on quality. The climatic conditions of Satipo have contributed greatly to this end.<br />Through this program supported by Caritas, the socio-economic situation of 381 families of Satipo and Chanchamayo has greatly improved, making these small farmers become entrepreneurs and they are now able to supply their products to the capital Lima and even some countries abroad. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - "The situation of the country does not depend only on a political issue", said Mgr. Parra Sandovalhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35591-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_situation_of_the_country_does_not_depend_only_on_a_political_issue_said_Mgr_Parra_Sandovalhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35591-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_situation_of_the_country_does_not_depend_only_on_a_political_issue_said_Mgr_Parra_SandovalCiudad Guayana - "For me, the situation of the country does not depend only on a political issue, but on other elements that have deep roots in society. Family, for example, is more and more disintegrated every day, and in families where there is violence children learn to be violent when they grow up and will continue to be violent. A family where there are no parents, begins to fall apart, and this also happens to society. There is a profound crisis of family and faith. Faith should unite us as a family, because we are children of God so we should not attack or hate each other because we think differently, but we have to respect each other": are the words expressed by the Bishop of the diocese of Ciudad Guayana, His Exc. Mgr. Mariano José Parra Sandoval, in the note sent to Fides Agency. <br />Mgr. Parra Sandoval, interviewed by the local press on the occasion of Holy Week, was also asked to comment on dialogue as a solution to solve the serious situation in which the nation finds itself. The Bishop pointed out that there are conditions: "I cannot sit and talk with someone who insults me. Conditions must be put to the government, how to punish violence concerning both sides, because when I see that the opposition ends up in prison and this does not happen for the violent followers of the government, that use armed gangs to fight against the other party, then I do not think there will be peace. There can be no peace when one side is punished and the other does what it wants".<br />Although peace talks have now officially started, opposition groups await concrete gestures that express the government's willingness to provide a solution to the basic demands of the population. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Appointment of the Bishop of Abeokutahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35590-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_Abeokutahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35590-AFRICA_NIGERIA_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_AbeokutaVatican City - On April 15, 2014 the Holy Father appointed Rev. Mgr. Peter Kayode Odetoyinbo, Parish priest and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Ibadan as Bishop of the Diocese of Abeokuta .<br />The Bishop-elect was born on January 28, 1964 in Ibadan, Archdiocese of Ibadan. After attending local schools, he entered the Sts Peter and Paul Major Seminary, Bodija, Ibadan, where he studied Philosophy and Theology. He was ordained a priest on 7 October 1989, for the Archdiocese of Ibadan. After ordination he has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles: 1989-1992: Assistant priest; 1990-1996: Vice-Director of the program RenewProcess Ibadan Archdiocese; 1992-1996: lecturer at the minor seminary of the parishes of St. Patrick and St. Ignatius of Loyola; 1996-2000: He holds a licentiate and a doctorate in history of the Church from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; 2001: resident priest in St. Mary's Cathedral of Ibadan; since 2001: Priest of the Church of the Assumption at Bodija; since 2001: lecturer in history of the Church at the Sts. Peter and Paul seminary; since 2003: lecturer in history of the Church at the Dominican Institute; 2002-2007: president of the Ibadan Diocesan Priests Association; 2002-2008: secretary of the Diocesan Priests of All Yorubaland. He is currently vicar general of the archdiocese of Ibadan. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/UGANDA - Resignation of the Bishop of Kasese and appointment of successorhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35589-AFRICA_UGANDA_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Kasese_and_appointment_of_successorhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35589-AFRICA_UGANDA_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Kasese_and_appointment_of_successorVatican City - On April 15, 2014, the Holy Father, accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Kasese , by His Exc. Mgr. Egidio Nkaijanabwo, in accordance with can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father appointed Rev. Acquirino Francis Kibira, Rector of St. Paul's National Seminary Kinyamasika, in Fort Portal as Bishop of Kasese .<br />The new Bishop was born on April 16, 1958 in the village of Kigoto-Bulyansungwe, in the District of Kamwenge, in the Diocese of Fort Portal. He studied Philosophy at the Katigondo National Major Seminary in Masaka and Theology at St. Mary's National Major Seminary in Ggaba, Kampala . He was ordained a priest on September 23, 1984 and incardinated in the Diocese of Fort Portal. He has served in a number of pastoral and academic roles: 1984-1985: Assistant at the parish of Bukwali, Fort Portal; 1985-1987: lecturer at the Katigondo National major seminary, in Masaka; 1987-1991: studied sacred scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; 1991-1995: Head of permanent formation of the clergy; 1992-1995: lecturer and dean of studies at St. Paul's National Seminary Kinyamasika, Fort Portal; since 1995: Rector of the St. Paul's National Seminary Kinyamasika, in Fort Portal. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - A missile on an Armenian Catholic school: a child killed, 61 injuredhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35588-ASIA_SYRIA_A_missile_on_an_Armenian_Catholic_school_a_child_killed_61_injuredhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35588-ASIA_SYRIA_A_missile_on_an_Armenian_Catholic_school_a_child_killed_61_injuredDamascus - A child died, 61 people were injured: children, parents and teachers. This is the tragic toll of the missile which hit the Armenian Catholic school in Damascus, in the historic district of Bab Tuma, in the old town, where there are many churches and Christian schools. "This morning, around 7.30 am" says father George Bahi, a priest of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate of Damascus to Fides Agency "a missile fell on the crowd of children, parents and teachers who were waiting for the school to open. One child died and 61 children and adults were injured. Rescuers arrived immediately and the injured were taken to three hospitals in the area. We are all shocked by what happened". Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Christian leaders’ appeal: "Stop the violence, this is not the future for which the people of the Country voted"http://www.fides.org/en/news/35587-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Christian_leaders_appeal_Stop_the_violence_this_is_not_the_future_for_which_the_people_of_the_Country_votedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35587-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_Christian_leaders_appeal_Stop_the_violence_this_is_not_the_future_for_which_the_people_of_the_Country_votedJuba - "The current situation can never be resolved through military means; instead the war lengthens and aggravates it to undesirable situation. The warring parties should therefore put the interest of the people of this country first than individual ambitions", reads a statement from South Sudan Council of Churches, the body that brings together leaders from different religious denominations in South Sudan .<br />The statement was sent to Fides Agency following reports that the country's rival forces lately clashed in various parts of the oil-producing Unity and Upper Nile States.<br />Religious leaders urged the warring parties to respect the terms of the ceasefire agreement, which they signed on 23 January in Addis Ababa . "It is a very fragile ceasefire and the international community should demonstrate strong commitment towards making the two sides respect the terms" the document states.<br />The current crisis has caused a very serious humanitarian crisis; this is why Christian leaders ask not only for the end of hostilities but especially international aid "for the displaced, whose properties have been destroyed". Referring to the 2011 referendum which led to the independence of the country from Sudan, the document concludes that "this is not the future for which the people of the Country voted. People want a free and independent state. The people voted to live in peace and in communion of love with one another as brothers and sisters and people of God". Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/PANAMA - The Church calls for calm and responsible participation in the votinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35586-AMERICA_PANAMA_The_Church_calls_for_calm_and_responsible_participation_in_the_votinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35586-AMERICA_PANAMA_The_Church_calls_for_calm_and_responsible_participation_in_the_votingPanama - Catholic Church representatives and other sectors of society in Panama are concerned about the tense political climate particularly in this last period of the presidential campaign, and called on the population to keep calm, recalling the importance of voting. The note sent to Fides by a local source reports that the Archbishop of Panama, His Exc. Mgr. José Domingo Ulloa, in his homily on Palm Sunday celebrated in the Metropolitan Cathedral, called on all politicians who will be elected on May 4 to always put forward the common good of society and the protection of the most vulnerable. Mgr. Ulloa also reminded citizens that it is their duty to vote consciously, as it will be the responsibility of everyone to choose the best candidate.<br />The Episcopal Conference of Panama proposed to politicians to adhere to the Covenant of Ethics for mutual respect during the election campaign. The tension has grown in recent days because more than one political party has begun airing defamatory television commercials towards their opponents instead of the usual electoral propaganda, to the point that two national television channels have decided not to broadcast any electoral commercials, also because of the various violent clashes that have been carried out in the streets among supporters of opposing parties. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - The bombing in Abuja 15 days after the shootings in which 20 suspected members of Boko Haram were killedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35585-AFRICA_NIGERIA_The_bombing_in_Abuja_15_days_after_the_shootings_in_which_20_suspected_members_of_Boko_Haram_were_killedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35585-AFRICA_NIGERIA_The_bombing_in_Abuja_15_days_after_the_shootings_in_which_20_suspected_members_of_Boko_Haram_were_killedAbuja - More than 70 people have been killed in a bomb blast at a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja . This was announced by the local authorities. "Unfortunately, some of the injured are in critical condition and the death toll is likely to increase", say sources of the Nigerian Church to Fides Agency.<br />The Head of State Goodluck Jonathan, along with the Senate President and some ministers, visited the injured and announced a strengthening of security measures in the city of Abuja.<br />There are suspects that the attack was perpetrated by the Islamist Boko Haram sect.<br />On March 30, in Abuja, some suspected members of Boko Haram were responsible for a shooting at the Department of State Security Service -DSS, which in many ways remains a mystery. "Some suspected members of Boko Haram were led to the DSS headquarters to be questioned" say our sources. <br />"According to the official version, one of the people who was stopped managed to get hold of an agents weapon and starting shooting for three hours, in which at least 20 suspected members of Boko Haram were killed".<br />"Probably we will never know if anyone managed to provide some secret weapons to these people while they were in custody. In Nigeria, complicity within the security forces are suspected, a fact that had been denounced by the President himself. It is a complicated war" conclude our sources. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Minorities are being targeted: the study and testimony of Pakistanis abroadhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35584-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Minorities_are_being_targeted_the_study_and_testimony_of_Pakistanis_abroadhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35584-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Minorities_are_being_targeted_the_study_and_testimony_of_Pakistanis_abroadLondon - Minorities in Pakistan, whether they are ethnic, religious or political, are victims of hatred, discrimination, prejudices that make their life a living hell: this is what was expressed in a new study commissioned and published by the "British Pakistani Christian Association" , which gathers the Pakistani emigrants in the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries in the world. The text sent to Fides Agency, titled "The Targeting of 'Minority Others' in Pakistan", presents an analysis of the policies implemented in the country in recent decades and contains numerous testimonies as proof of the arguments expressed.<br />"Many of the state and non-state decisions and activities have facilitated actions that aim to target minorities like Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Baluchi, Hazara Shiite, Sikhs and many others", notes the study, citing, in particular, the "blasphemy law " as one of the main instruments of abuse: it is often used as a "trap" for Christians and Hindus.<br />The authors of the study - Desmond Fernandes, a specialist on the educational system in Pakistan and Nathaniel Lewis, a researcher of the BPCA - cite the numerous interventions of UN bodies such as the Council for Human Rights.<br />Among the testimonies cited there is that of the young Christian Samson Barkat from Karachi, the only Christian to have passed the entrance test among the Police cadets. Some Muslim cadets, his companions, began to provoke him, because of jealousy, in order to force him to resign. <br />In January 2014 while Samson was listening to Christian religious songs in his car, he was approached by some cadets who started beating him. One of them pulled out a few pages of the Koran from his pocket, tore the pages and then started accusing him of blasphemy.<br />Examples of abuse against minorities are frequent cases of rapes regarding Christian and Hindu girls and forced Islamic marriage: the latter cases are those of Komal Yousaf, a Christian 15 –year-old raped, forced to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim, and that of a 19-year-old Christian Sobia, from Lahore, who was kidnapped and forced to Islamic marriage with a wealthy Muslim, in whose house she was working as a waitress. The two were rescued by the NGO "World Vision in Progress" . "Muslims in Pakistan believe they can use young Christian girls who belong to religious minorities as their consumer goods", said the leader of WVIP, Farroukh Saif. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Churches devastated and icons desecrated in Maalulahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35583-ASIA_SYRIA_Churches_devastated_and_icons_desecrated_in_Maalulahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35583-ASIA_SYRIA_Churches_devastated_and_icons_desecrated_in_MaalulaMaalula - After the reconquest of the Christian village of Maalula - 55 km northeast of Damascus - by the Syrian government army, the images and descriptions released by government sources and international news agencies also document the devastation committed against Christian places of worship during the four months in which the city was under the occupation of the rebel militias. In particular, serious damages were carried out against the Greek-Melkite shrine of Mar Sarkis, where the church is destroyed, the floor is covered with religious objects, images and sacred books are damaged, the icons kept in the sacristy are missing and there are no bells or the cross surmounting the dome of the Greek-Melkite monastery. The sanctuary, founded at the end of the fifth century, is dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers martyred for their faith under the Emperor Galerius. . <br />Before being devastated by the civil war, the village of Maalula - which now appears uninhabited – was inhabited by 5 thousand Syrians, the vast majority were Christians . The reconquest of Sarkha, Maalula and Jibbeh is the result of the offensive with which the Syrian government army took control of almost all of the region of Qalamun. In this offensive the Syrian military units are supported by the Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah. The three operators of the Hezbollah television station al-Manar TV were killed by rounds fired by snipers while they were documenting the reconquest of Maalula. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Tension in the area of Veracruz due to the work of the hydroelectric power planthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35582-AMERICA_MEXICO_Tension_in_the_area_of_Veracruz_due_to_the_work_of_the_hydroelectric_power_planthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35582-AMERICA_MEXICO_Tension_in_the_area_of_Veracruz_due_to_the_work_of_the_hydroelectric_power_plantCordoba - The Diocese of Córdoba is still awaiting notification regarding the status of the "El Naranjal" hydroelectric project and several days have gone by since the visit of governor Javier Duarte, who entrusted the matter to the parties concerned. This project corresponds to one of the 112 dams that are intended to be built with private capital in the state of Veracruz, which crosses the territory of Amatlán de los Reyes and seven municipalities in the region, causing, according to environmentalists, severe damage to approximately 30,000 people .<br />"Until today – says His Exc. Mgr. Eduardo Porfirio Patiño Leal, Bishop of Córdoba in a note sent to Fides - I have not received any public notice. What counts for me is the fact that an attitude of dialogue was adopted with stakeholders, environmentalists and federal authorities, and also with those who are conducting the project". The note points out that when governor Javier Duarte de Ochoa was willing to review and reassess the project in order to verify its feasibility, the Bishop asked him to look into how permissions are granted. "The fact that the governor has insisted that there will be no harm to the population gives us some confidence – concluded the Bishop - but we also know that we must adopt appropriate measures in the municipal, state and federal offices in order to verify how these permissions are granted".<br />According to data gathered by Fides, "El Naranjal" should be the most important hydroelectric dam in the country, but its construction provides for an indiscriminate reduction of trees and the significant decrease of the waters of the Blanco River. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - The Bishops to the President: We will give a great contribution to the countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35581-ASIA_INDIA_The_Bishops_to_the_President_We_will_give_a_great_contribution_to_the_countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35581-ASIA_INDIA_The_Bishops_to_the_President_We_will_give_a_great_contribution_to_the_countryNew Delhi - The Indian Church prays for the elections which will be held in April and will continue to give its valuable contribution to the nation, especially in the field of education and social services: this is what the Indian Bishops said during the meeting with the President of the Indian Union, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. As reported to Fides by Fr. Joseph Chinnayyan, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India , the nation's leaders met the new Presidency Council of Bishops in recent days, formed by Cardinal Baselios Cleemis , Bishops Andrews Thazhath and Filipe Neri Ferrao , and by Mgr. Albert D' Souza .<br />Shri Pranab Mukherjee said he appreciated the service rendered by Christians to the nation and the total dedication of the spiritual leaders of the Church, Bishops, priests, religious and lay people committed to improving the lives of the people of India, for peace and harmony. The President noted with satisfaction the Catholic Church’s initiative to observe a special Day of prayer for the elections, hoping that the new members of Parliament will ensure the proper functioning of civil institutions, in the interest of the nation and the well-being of the Indian people.<br />The note sent to Fides also reports that the Bishops have expressed great joy and hope for the news that the Holy Father approved the miracles attributed to the intercession of Blessed Kuriakose Chavara and Blessed Sister Euphrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/BURUNDI - Appointment of the Rector of the "Jean Paul II" Major Seminary in Gitegahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35580-AFRICA_BURUNDI_Appointment_of_the_Rector_of_the_Jean_Paul_II_Major_Seminary_in_Gitegahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/35580-AFRICA_BURUNDI_Appointment_of_the_Rector_of_the_Jean_Paul_II_Major_Seminary_in_GitegaVatican City - On February 17, 2014 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Martin Sinumvayaha, of the clergy of the diocese of Gitega as Rector of the "Jean Paul II" Major Seminary in the diocese of Gitega .<br />The new Rector was born in Muhanga on November 11, 1970. After primary school he went to the minor Seminary in Mureke, the major Seminary in Bujumbura and the major Seminary in Gitega. <br />After his ordination in Ngozi, on July 7, 2001, he was responsible and the pastor of a new parish founded in Ryakabamba, then treasurer and vice-rector of the minor Seminary in Mureke. He was sent to Rome to continue his studies at the Pontifical Lateran University where he obtained his doctorate in Civil and Canon Law. He then returned home, he has been teaching at the major Seminary in Gitega since 2011 and is a member of several Commissions of the Episcopal Conference. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0200