Fides News - Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/VIETNAM - A "year of grace" for the diocese of Nha Trang, in the footsteps of Cardinal Van Thuanhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69967-ASIA_VIETNAM_A_year_of_grace_for_the_diocese_of_Nha_Trang_in_the_footsteps_of_Cardinal_Van_Thuanhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69967-ASIA_VIETNAM_A_year_of_grace_for_the_diocese_of_Nha_Trang_in_the_footsteps_of_Cardinal_Van_ThuanNha Trang - He is a spiritual son and a successor of the former Bishop of the diocese of Nha Trang, Venerable Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who greatly influenced his priestly life and his episcopal ministry: Bishop Joseph Vo Duc Minh, current ordinary bishop of the diocese of Nha Trang, celebrates his 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination and remembers that April 24, 1971, when at the ordination mass, he became "a priest forever". <br />During the solemn mass of thanksgiving for the Jubilee of Ordination, Bishop Joseph Vo Duc Minh called on his clergy, religious and all the parishes of the diocese of Nha Trang to live a "close and fruitful communion with him in order to praise and thank the Lord". "The way of the Cross always opens up to the way of hope", he said, recalling the experience of Venerable Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who addressed him some words that are still engraved in his memory as priest and pastor. <br />"Do not be afraid – said Van Thuan - the Lord Jesus will always be with you. Turn your gaze to the missionaries and martyrs in Vietnam. The way of the Cross always opens up to the way of Hope. Do not be afraid, but constantly trust God. I bless you and pray for you, I love you very much and I believe in you".<br />Today, the Bishop tells Fides that he lives his ministry with the spirit and the gaze that Venerable Van Thuan gave him: "We look to the past with grateful memory, thanksgiving and mercy; we look to the present with good will and with wonder at the discovery of God's works and the gift of his grace; we look to the future with a heart full of enthusiasm and trust in God's Providence".<br />The solemn thanksgiving mass celebrated in the cathedral of Nha Trang in recent days was attended by all the Vietnamese bishops who were gathered for the assembly of the Bishops' Conference, together with a large number of religious and faithful.<br />During the celebration, the first proclamation of the Gospel received in Nha Trang 350 years ago by the missionaries led by the French Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Motte, on 1 September 1671, was also remembered. Bishop de la Motte was the first Bishop of the Vicariate of Dang Trong. founded in 1659, covering the territory of South Vietnam, including today's diocese of Nha Trang. At that time, when local Catholics were subjected to persecution, Bishop de la Motte, a member of the Society for Foreign Missions of Paris , made his pastoral visit, accompanied by two French missionaries and two Vietnamese priests from Siam. The Bishop established Lam Tuyen Parish and founded the Congregation of the Lovers of the Holy Cross sisters, which today also celebrated the 350th anniversary of its foundation.<br />Emphasizing that "the Church loves and serves all peoples in the name of Christ, the only Savior, Bishop Minh said that the missionaries only came to bring the Gospel and bless this land". He then urged the faithful to be "grateful and proud of their ancestors who courageously witnessed the Good News", and to "live the faith today in harmony with others and helping the development of the nation". Bishop Joseph Vo Duc Minh was commissioned by the Vietnamese Bishops to start the preparatory phase for the canonical process of beatification of Bishop de la Motte.<br />The diocese of Nha Trang is a vast area of 9,487 square kilometers that covers two neighboring provinces Khanh Hoa and Ninh Thuan in south-central Vietnam, with a total of 180,000 Catholics out of 1,564,400 inhabitants.<br />In the 17th century, the territory of Nha Trang belonged to Dang Trong separated from Dang Ngoai which was divided by the long civil war of more than 200 years under the Le dynasty. The Trinh clan held power of the Northern region while the Nguyen ruled the Southern region. There were two ecclesiastical circumscriptions called Dang Ngoai and Dang Trong, established in 1658 by Pope Alexander VII, led by Bishops Francois Pallu and Pierre Lambert de La Motte. After the arrival of Bishop de la Motte and the subsequent growth of the local Catholic community, the diocese of Nha Trang was officially founded in 1957 and is today home to 115 parishes, served by almost 300 priests. <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 13:23:19 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - The era of hope: the new Burmese government of national unity, in opposition to the military juntahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69964-ASIA_MYANMAR_The_era_of_hope_the_new_Burmese_government_of_national_unity_in_opposition_to_the_military_juntahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69964-ASIA_MYANMAR_The_era_of_hope_the_new_Burmese_government_of_national_unity_in_opposition_to_the_military_juntaBangkok - "An era of fear and division ends and an era of hope begins". A time, says Salai Maung Taing San, spokesman for the newly formed "Burmese National Unity Government", in which "there will be no more religious or ethnic divisions". With these words, in an online conference, the "shadow government" was formed that opposes the military junta that took power in a coup d'etat on 1 February. The military ousted the civil authorities of the country from the civilian government even before the new parliament elected in the consultations on November 8 could meet. Those parliamentarians, in the aftermath of the coup, set up a Committee which announced on April 16 the formation of the government of national unity and that of a new federal army.<br />As confirmed to Agenzia Fides by Salai Maung Taing San, the new government also represents ethnic minority parties and their defense groups and Burmese civil society. The unification process is based on a federal Charter that draws up a new federal Constitution, which sanctions the end of the 2008 one wanted by the military. He therefore proposes himself as the true representative of a country in the hands of a bloody junta that has killed over 730 people to date and that has just transformed the Buddhist New Year celebration into a bloodbath.<br />Dr. Salai Maung Taing San, who is also CRPH's special envoy to the UN, explained to Fides that the new executive still has U Win Mynt as president and the Nobel Aung San Suu Kyi as State Councilor, who maintain their offices despite being under arrest. <br />The executive will therefore be led by Vice President Duwa Lashi La and Prime Minister Mahn Win Khaing Than, in a government of 26 members of whom 11 are ministers: half of them are not of Bamar ethnicity and eight are women. The Prime Minister is of ethnic Karen and the Vice President of ethnic Kachin. Salai Maung Taing San himself is a respected Chin State doctor.<br />Paradoxically, the junta achieved an unimaginable political result only a few months ago. Now, for the first time, a federation is envisaged. The road will not be easy, starting with the recognition of the clandestine government but its fate will soon become clear: on April 24 in Jakarta, the ten members of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will meet and has called an urgent meeting on the Myanmar case.<br />Prime Ministers and Heads of State are expected, but also the head of the military junta, General Min Aung Hlaing. According to what has been learned from Fides, the ceremonial should include a closed-door meeting with the general. Then the actual summit will take place, with a formula that would make it possible to understand if there is the possibility of mediation, without letting the general sit at the table, which would amount to an acknowledgment of the coup junta, hitherto avoided. The new Burmese Government of National Unity suggests that ASEAN's invitation, rather than general Min Aung Hlaing, should be addressed precisely to the newborn executive which really represents the Burmese population. <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:38:22 +0200AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Humanitarian situation is increasingly alarming; the Bishops "Perspectives should be given to young people to stop the war"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69963-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_Humanitarian_situation_is_increasingly_alarming_the_Bishops_Perspectives_should_be_given_to_young_people_to_stop_the_warhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69963-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_Humanitarian_situation_is_increasingly_alarming_the_Bishops_Perspectives_should_be_given_to_young_people_to_stop_the_warMaputo - It is estimated that 11,104 people who fled the city of Palma have been welcomed in a school in Quitunda. This was stated by the International Organization for Migrants .<br />According to the IOM, 30 percent of displaced families sleep outdoors, while the remaining 70 percent live in makeshift shelters. As many as 62% of the displaced are children, 21% men and 17% women. The main need of these people is food, the second to have a place in the tents or other equipment to be able to take shelter, and thirdly, the lack of blankets and clothing. The bishops have issued a statement on the serious situation in the north of the country.<br />"We deplore and condemn all the barbaric acts committed", say the bishops of Mozambique in a statement sent to Fides, approved in the current plenary session in Maputo.<br />The Bishops of Mozambique deplore the "tragic situation in which the people of Cabo Delgado live" where "defenseless people are killed, wounded and mistreated, their properties looted, their homes destroyed and the bodies of their families desecrated while the survivors are forced to abandon the land where they were born and where their ancestors are buried"<br />The Episcopal Conference of Mozambique denounces the growing and consolidated "perception that behind this conflict there are interests of diverse nature and origins, or of the intention of some groups to appropriate the nation and its resources". The province of Cabo Delgago is rich in gas and oil fields as well as precious stones, but "the lack of transparency" on their correct use, the Bishops write, is "a source of discontent, division and mourning that fuel revolt and resentment".<br />"We recognize that one of the strongest impulses that motivate our young people to allow themselves to be seduced and join the various forms of insurrection, from crime to terrorism, or even that other insurrection, no less harmful, of political or religious extremism, is based on the experience of a lack of hope in a favorable future", the Bishops affirm. "For most young people, there are no opportunities to build a decent life", while society and political leaders "ignore their suffering and do not listen to their voice".<br />The Bishops reiterate that "nothing justifies violence", they express "total solidarity with the weakest and with young people who aspire to a dignified life" and recall that "religions have a great contribution to make in the resilience of communities and in persecuting an ideal of a united and supportive society".<br />The CEM asks that "national political forces, organizations present in the country, the international community join forces and help displaced populations, create more job and development opportunities for all" and ask that "all contribute to peace, to the protection of the population, to the blocking of the financing of the war, to the isolation and detention of individuals or groups that take advantage of the tragedy in Cabo Delgado". <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 12:20:01 +0200AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Archbishop of Asunción appeals to pharmaceutical companies: "It is not the time to make money at the expense of the sick"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69962-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Archbishop_of_Asuncion_appeals_to_pharmaceutical_companies_It_is_not_the_time_to_make_money_at_the_expense_of_the_sickhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69962-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Archbishop_of_Asuncion_appeals_to_pharmaceutical_companies_It_is_not_the_time_to_make_money_at_the_expense_of_the_sickAsunción - "This is not the time for speculation in order to earn money at the expense of the sick", said Archbishop Edmundo Valenzuela of Asunción in an interview with a local newspaper about the difficult situation in the country. The Archbishop addresses all Covid-19 patients with a message of hope and urges relatives not to lose faith in God. In the interview published yesterday with the newspaper "Ultima Hora", he asked priests, where possible, to go to the sick in the intensive care unit in order to give them strength in these critical moments. In this context, he asked the country's authorities and large international companies to make it possible to buy medicines that would help the sick and alleviate the anxiety of relatives. He asks the government to act quickly and decisively: "Unfortunately, targeted measures planned for this year have not been implemented, but it must be done because this pandemic will last until 2023", he stressed.<br />In view of the plight of many people, Archbishop Valenzuela laments: "In the past our social pastoral care was able to help many people with food and also with medicine, but it is not enough ... and this year we ran out of funds and it was not even enough for the medicines that we have should distribute among the poorest". For this reason, the Archbishop called on pharmaceutical companies in particular to "reduce the cost of medicines. This is not the time to speculate in order to make money at the expense of the sick. This is the moment of humanity, of sensitivity to the needy".<br />In the past few weeks, 1,500 to 2,500 new infections have been reported in Paraguay every day. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 250,000 infected and 5,315 dead. <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 11:54:52 +0200AMERICA/COSTA RICA - Special Day of prayer for the situation of the pandemichttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69961-AMERICA_COSTA_RICA_Special_Day_of_prayer_for_the_situation_of_the_pandemichttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69961-AMERICA_COSTA_RICA_Special_Day_of_prayer_for_the_situation_of_the_pandemicSan José - Next Thursday, April 22, the bishops of Costa Rica invite its faithful to pray in order to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. During the Holy Mass and the Hours of Adoration, Catholics of the country should pray for this purpose on that day. This was announced by the Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica in a joint appeal by all bishops.<br />The Bishops want to express their solidarity with all people for the situation they are experiencing due to the pandemic, and appeal to everyone's responsibility, "because we can only overcome this serious disease together; we will do it if we respect the health measures required by the authorities, if we see in the other a brother to take care of, if we take care of ourselves, and if we become aware of how serious it is not to act to face this moment".<br />With the significant increase in the number of cases recorded in recent days, the bishops urge "redoubling efforts to avoid the overload and collapse of health systems" and ask for prayers for the victims of the pandemic and for the comfort of their families . Therefore, the priests of all parishes in the country should "organize special moments of prayer and motivate the faithful to do so". <br />"With faith, trust and perseverance we want to ask the God of Life to help us overcome this pandemic, restore health to the sick and give consolation to those who have lost loved ones. We ask for the grace to be able to act responsibly in this health crisis and to be able to give a testimony of charity and solidarity as a church", concludes the message of the bishops. In Costa Rica, there have been a total of 229,000 infected and 3,071 dead in a population of around 5 million since the pandemic began. <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 11:35:25 +0200AMERICA/HAITI - The press announces the release of one of the kidnapped on Sunday, April 11http://www.fides.org/en/news/69960-AMERICA_HAITI_The_press_announces_the_release_of_one_of_the_kidnapped_on_Sunday_April_11http://www.fides.org/en/news/69960-AMERICA_HAITI_The_press_announces_the_release_of_one_of_the_kidnapped_on_Sunday_April_11Port au Prince - "One of the people kidnapped in Haiti last Sunday was reportedly released. Since then, there has been no further news from the kidnappers. A total of nine people are still held hostage", "Le Telegramme" newspaper reported on its website on Saturday evening, April 17th. On Sunday, April 11, ten people were kidnapped near Port-au-Prince, five of them priests, two nuns and three relatives of one of the priests .<br />"This Saturday, April 17, a Haitian source informed us that one of the hostages had been released. According to the evidence in our possession, the kidnappers received a ransom of $ 50,000 for the release of all hostages. Contrary to the prediction, however, the kidnap gang called "400 Mawozo" only freed one hostage: it is the mother of Father Jean Anel Joseph, who was supposed to take office in his new parish last Sunday", writes the newspaper "Le Telegramme", and continues: "The Haitian woman, around 70, was the weakest of the group and her health had deteriorated. She specified that the group is kept in a wood, under a tree, in very precarious conditions and the hostages have their hands and feet tied".<br />Local press reports also show that, since this release, the kidnappers have not had any contact with the members of the Society of Saint-Jacques, who are negotiating with the kidnappers on behalf of the authorities. Last Thursday, April 15th, public and private Haitian schools as well as many commercial activities were closed to show solidarity with the hostages and to protest against the general insecurity that has been increasing in Haiti for many months .<br />The kidnapped are five priests of the Society of Priests of Saint Jacques, two nuns and two lay faithful. Among them are Michel Briand, a 67-year-old Breton missionary from Messac who has lived on the island for many years, and Agnès Bordeau, a nun from Sarthe. <br />Mon, 19 Apr 2021 11:22:54 +0200NEWS ANALYSIS - Growing religious extremism in Asia and Church responsehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69959-NEWS_ANALYSIS_Growing_religious_extremism_in_Asia_and_Church_responsehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69959-NEWS_ANALYSIS_Growing_religious_extremism_in_Asia_and_Church_responseJakarta - On March 28, Palm Sunday, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, witnessed the bomb attacks, leaving two bombers dead and at least 20 people injured. This was the third such attack carried out by suicide bombers from Indonesia in recent years. The attackers were reportedly members of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah , an Islamic State-inspired group suspected of suicide attacks. The terror group bombed three churches in Surabaya, East Java, in 2018 killing 28 people. In 2019, a cathedral in Jolo in the southern Philippines saw a bomb killing 23 and injuring more than 100. <br />These are episodes that shake public opinion, politics and religious communities.<br />Asia, the world's largest continent, faces many problems such as sporadic poverty, social and economic inequalities, unemployment, majoritarian politics, digital divide, disasters, besides religious extremism and terrorism. These affect governments, communities, civil society groups, religious communities including Christian Churches, among others. Let's attempts to explain growing cases of religious extremism in Asia and the Church’s response.<br />To begin with, some of the countries that have been witnessing increasing religious extremism are India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Pakistan. Undoubtedly, conflicts that can be considered of a religius nature are often having roots in social, political histories/complexities, ideologies and economic underpins.<br />For example, "a growing intolerance provides fertile ground for extremism with grave consequences for harmony if not addressed immediately", explains Dwi Rubiyanti Kholifah, the country director of the Asian Muslim Action Network in Indonesia. The analyst further says that a "false notion of superiority" and disagreements over "differences" shrink the space for exchange learning and prevent beneficial dialogue. It is not surprising to note that more and more people in some Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh are drawn to discriminatory ideologies that are detrimental to social order and wellbeing. This calls for a shift from extremism to interfaith initiatives for common good. - continues<br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="http://omnisterra.fides.org/articles/view/158">Continue to read news analysis on the "Omnis Terra" website, in English</a>Sat, 17 Apr 2021 13:22:36 +0200AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Jorge Joaquim Pinhohttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69956-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_Fr_Jorge_Joaquim_Pinhohttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69956-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_Fr_Jorge_Joaquim_PinhoVatican City - On 28 January 2021, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Jorge Joaquim Pinho, of the clergy of the archdiocese of Beira as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Mozambique for a five-year period .<br />The new National Director was born on 25 August 1972 and has been a priest for 16 years. He obtained a licentiate in philosophy in Maputo, a masters in management and administration of schools in Beira and a masters in pastoral theology in Salamanca. He was a professor at the preparatory Seminary and at the University of Beira, parish priest in two parishes. For a year he was Director of the PMS in his archdiocese. He is currently parish priest and diocesan treasurer. <br />Sat, 17 Apr 2021 13:10:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Bishops: "We cannot be silent when life is threatened, rights are not respected, justice is corrupt"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69955-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Bishops_We_cannot_be_silent_when_life_is_threatened_rights_are_not_respected_justice_is_corrupthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69955-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Bishops_We_cannot_be_silent_when_life_is_threatened_rights_are_not_respected_justice_is_corruptBrasilia - "Brazil is experiencing the worsening of a serious health, economic, ethical, social and political crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, which challenges us, highlighting the structural inequalities rooted in Brazilian society. Although everyone is suffering from the pandemic, its consequences are most devastating in the lives of the poor and weak. This reality of suffering must echo in the hearts of Christ's disciples. Anything that promotes or threatens life affects our mission as Christians. Whenever we comment on social, economic, and political issues, we do so on the basis of the gospel. We must not remain silent when life is threatened, rights are not respected, justice is undermined and violence is spread", said a statement by the Bishops' Conference of Brazil , at the end of the General Assembly of Brazilian Bishops, held online from 12 to 16 April . <br />"We are Pastors and our mission is to take care of you", write the bishops in their message, - they write in the message. "Our hearts suffer from the limited possible participation of God's people in church services. However, the sanctity of human life requires wisdom and responsibility from us. Therefore, at this moment, we must continue to adhere to the necessary health protocols when celebrating church services".<br />The bishops thank the families who call it a privileged place "for the experience of faith and solidarity" and the parishes who have promoted the experience of the domestic church through various initiatives. "United in prayer and caring for life, we will overcome this moment", the bishops encourage the people.<br />They therefore affirm that the task of the country's three powers is to govern Brazil on the basis of the constitution, which guarantees health as the "right of all and the duty of the State". "Speeches and attitudes that deny the reality of the pandemic, ignore health measures and threaten the democratic rule of law are therefore unacceptable", warned the bishops.<br />In this context, the bishops called for "greater investment in public health and the care of the sick, the maintenance and strengthening of the unified health system". Public policy must also guarantee access to education, implementing the global educational pact proposed by Pope Francis. The bishops express concern about the diverse forms of violence in society, about disinformation and hate speech, especially via social networks and about the abuse of religion as an instrument of political debate.<br />The bishops also express their concern for the common home and reaffirm the need to overcome social inequalities in the country and to promote better policies "that are not subordinate to economic interests but are guided by fraternity and social friendship". They close with an emphatic appeal "to the unity of civil society, churches, corporations, social movements and all people of goodwill around the Pact for Life and for Brazil. With renewed commitment, we must launch concrete initiatives to promote solidarity and exchange". <br />Sat, 17 Apr 2021 13:07:01 +0200AMERICA/HAITI - Solidarity and prayer for the victims of kidnappingshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69954-AMERICA_HAITI_Solidarity_and_prayer_for_the_victims_of_kidnappingshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69954-AMERICA_HAITI_Solidarity_and_prayer_for_the_victims_of_kidnappingsPort au Prince - In all ten dioceses of the country, Catholics in Haiti held special masses on Thursday April 15 to show their solidarity with the victims of kidnappings. In the parish of Saint-Pierre in Pétion-Ville, the country's bishops concelebrated mass and again demanded the release of all victims of kidnapping and an end to general insecurity.<br />The Bishops' Conference also asked for all church bells in the country to "speak" in the spirit of communion, commemoration and prayers for people who are victims of kidnappings, violence and insecurity in general. <br />Meanwhile, the faithful gathered in the parish of Saint Pierre received the bishops with the song "Nou Bouke" , while activists, carrying posters occupied the corridors of the temple in the sign of protest.<br />"We strongly condemn all kidnappings in the country", said the chairman of the Haiti Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Launay Saturné. In this context, the bishop emphasized that the Haitian Bishops' Conference and the Conference of Haitian Religious call for the immediate and unconditional release of all abducted people in the country. "We pray for an end to insecurity and kidnappings. We dream of a Haiti without insecurity, without kidnappings and without violence. We pray for the release of all abductees and for the conversion of all those involved in the kidnappings", the Bishop urged and called on all citizens to do their part to create a new Haiti and reminded the authorities of their duty to take responsibility.<br />Following the service, human rights activists gathered for a spontaneous demonstration, during which the police fired tear gas. A vehicle was also set on fire on the sidelines of the demonstration.<br />On April 15, the Catholic Church of Haiti also ordered the closure of Catholic schools, universities and all other institutions in order to denounce the recent kidnappings of church officials . In the capital, shopping centers were also closed due to the protest. <br />Sat, 17 Apr 2021 12:53:04 +0200AFRICA/D.R. CONGO - Violence in the east of the country: the statistics hide innocent victimshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69953-AFRICA_D_R_CONGO_Violence_in_the_east_of_the_country_the_statistics_hide_innocent_victimshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69953-AFRICA_D_R_CONGO_Violence_in_the_east_of_the_country_the_statistics_hide_innocent_victimsKinshasa - "These are arid numbers that hide people, innocent victims", said the Congo Peace Network, promoted by missionaries operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo , in a commentary on reports by the United Nations and local NGOs on the crimes against the civilian population in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.<br />In its report published on February 11, 2021 including data collected between January and December 2020, the United Nations Joint Committee on Human Rights stated that, in the territories of Beni , Irumu and Mambasa , the Allied Democratic Forces , an armed group of Ugandan origin, carried out 166 attacks and killed at least 849 civilians. The report found that during the same period at least 108 civilians were victims of violations of the right to physical integrity, for which the ADF is also held responsible, including 103 injured and 5 women victims of sexual abuse. Furthermore, the BCNUDH documented the kidnapping of at least 77 people, including 20 women and 3 minors who were later released. In February 2021, BCNUDH documented a total of 495 cases of human rights violations on Congolese territory. 65% of these violations were committed by militiamen from armed groups and 35% by state security officers . These violations resulted in the deaths of at least 197 civilians, including 23 women and 12 children. Armed groups were held responsible for the arbitrary execution of at least 175 people, including 22 women and 9 children, while security forces were also held responsible for the extrajudicial execution of at least 22 people, including 1 woman and 5 children.<br />In a report published on March 5, 2021 covering the period from February 1 to 28, 2021, the Beni Peace Forum , based in North Kivu, reported that 105 people were killed and 34 people kidnapped, of whom only 13 have been released so far.<br />Most of the crimes were committed in the Beni region and, to a lesser extent, in Ituri. According to the FPB, "we can name various reasons why the ADF can continue to carry out these massacres and human rights violations: the alarms sent to them by the population are not taken seriously by the security forces, the relaxation of military action against the ADF and the and the demotivation of soldiers due to the diversion of their unpaid salaries, etc.". To put an end to the violence, the FPB asks the Chief of Staff of the State Army to replace the soldiers who have been in action for a long time without having achieved positive results.<br />According to a report published on February 22, 2021 by the Kivu Security Tracker , there are 122 armed groups in the east of the DRC, particularly in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika. Some armed groups also operate in two or three provinces at the same time.<br />The KST names the four largest armed groups are: the Allied Democratic Forces , the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda , the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo and the Nduma Defense for Congo .<br />Recently the Congolese Bishops issued a joint appeal calling for an end to the violence in the east of the country. <br />Sat, 17 Apr 2021 12:38:57 +0200EUROPE/POLAND - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, rev. Maciej Bedzinskihttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69952-EUROPE_POLAND_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_rev_Maciej_Bedzinskihttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69952-EUROPE_POLAND_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_rev_Maciej_BedzinskiVatican City - On 15 January 2021, Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples appointed rev. Maciej Bedzinski, from the diocese of Radom as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Poland for a five-year period .<br />The new National Director is 39 years old and has been a priest for 13. After seven years of ministry as parish vicar, since 2014 he has been National Secretary of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and of St. Peter the Apostle. In the same year he obtained his doctorate and subsequently completed his post-graduate studies with a specialization in spirituality at the Department of Christian Mysticism; he also attended Seminars for press officers at the Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He is part of numerous Catholic associations, he is a member of the Pontifical Missionary Union, for years he has been among the organizers of "missionary holidays" for the young people of the diocese. Author of PMS formation texts, organizer of missionary Congresses, he is also involved in the School for missionary animators and has made several trips to mission territories. <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:35:45 +0200AFRICA/CAMEROON - The Catholic Church takes on the role of mediator: "People have great confidence in the Church"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69951-AFRICA_CAMEROON_The_Catholic_Church_takes_on_the_role_of_mediator_People_have_great_confidence_in_the_Churchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69951-AFRICA_CAMEROON_The_Catholic_Church_takes_on_the_role_of_mediator_People_have_great_confidence_in_the_ChurchBamenda - "In Cameroon, the Catholic Church takes on the role of mediator in the dialogue: In this sense, we try to mediate between the two parties, even if they have to solve the problem themselves through dialogue. In the English-speaking regions, 40% of the population say they are Christian and our presence is aimed at promoting peace. We work a lot with the local population, but also with the military and separatist fighters so that the dialogue can lead to a solution. It must be said that our work to promote peace has resulted in the high price of violence against our lay people and priests", Msgr. Andrew Nkea Fuanya, Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Bamenda, told Agenzia Fides in a review of the painful situation in which the Anglophone regions of the country have lived since 2016 and which is characterized by conflict, extreme violence, poverty and terror.<br />The Archbishop explains why staff, including priests and religious, ended up in the crosshairs of the violence, even though they acted as mediators: "This situation arose because of a dramatic underlying misunderstanding. Everyone here believes in the Church, regardless of their position there was a time when the government portrayed us as "rebel advocates" while how separatists saw us as "pro-government" for condemning violence against civilians, but we know the Church of Christ is persecuted as He himself said in the Gospel 'they will persecute the Masterer and his disciples'. So it is not a new situation for us who choose to continue paying the price until we achieve peace for our beloved regions and our beloved people".<br />In an international context, said the Archbishop, the recent trip by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who visited Cameroon last January, aroused many expectations and high hopes. The State Secretary of the Vatican was the first representative of a foreign authority to visit the people of the north-eastern and north-western regions of Cameroon since the crisis began in 2016.<br />Archbishop Nkea Fuanya notes, <br />"I believe that the Cardinal's visit will be a crucial step towards peace. Cardinal Parolin came to Bamenda to hand me the pallium as the new Metropolitan of the diocese, but above all to express the Pope's closeness to people in need. It was a great consolation for priests and bishops, religious and faithful because the Pope is close to us. Cardinal Parolin met the priests and bishops at a meeting: it was a great incentive to remain faithful to our mission and a great encouragement for the people. The Cardinal showed that the Pope is closely following our situation with deep concern. Despite the threats from the opposition to those who took part in the events, the population was not deterred and this shows without a doubt how happy the people were to meet the Pope's envoy, who had come with a message of peace. His visit was a milestone on the way to peace for our regions. It is important for us to know that the Holy See desires peace and seeks to actively promote it by speaking to both sides. The Church's engagement at the universal and local levels is fundamental. We as bishops keep the Holy See informed of every step, and thus the Holy See can contribute through the activities of the local bishops. The population has great confidence in the Church and that is why many parties see the Holy See as a credible actor who can support dialogue and reconciliation". <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:30:31 +0200AMERICA/CHILE - The drama of migrants continues, amid hypocrisy, Covid and a new, more rigid lawhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69950-AMERICA_CHILE_The_drama_of_migrants_continues_amid_hypocrisy_Covid_and_a_new_more_rigid_lawhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69950-AMERICA_CHILE_The_drama_of_migrants_continues_amid_hypocrisy_Covid_and_a_new_more_rigid_lawConcepción - "The most painful thing of all this unfortunate situation is that the migratory process in Chile has revealed a chain of anomalous situations and the hypocrisy that sustains it. I hope that this new law will repair the pain it has caused, especially in recent years, to thousands of migrants": this is what the Archbishop of Concepción, Mgr. Fernando Chomali wrote, in a letter published by the national newspaper "El Mercurio". The text, entitled "Pure hypocrisy", sent to Agenzia Fides, addresses the situation currently experienced by thousands of migrants in the country.<br />The Archbishop of Concepción takes his cue from an event that happened in the Chilean capital: "A large group of migrants camped in an office in the center of Santiago, to try to 'regularize their situation' in light of the new immigration law. They were driven by despair, anguish, lack of information and fear. The scenario was grim: a gathering in the middle of a pandemic, causing more infections and more deaths. This was predictable and avoidable".<br />Then Mgr. Chomali describes the Chilean reality: "They let them in - we remember the planes coming from Haiti that arrived at dawn and the flow of people who arrived for long months from the north - and once they arrive here they are not offered civil or work guarantees. They are threatened with expulsion, and so they, with apparent calm, take care of the sick or the elderly that no one wants to take care of, they transport food in the rain or the infernal heat, in deplorable working conditions, poorly paid, without any kind of future and they live in crowded places, in subhuman and expensive places".<br />"Many of those who have worked on this long-awaited and belated law, probably have migrants who work in their homes or in the homes or businesses of people they know. Migrants must be treated as we would like them to treat us, if we were to undertake the painful experience of leaving our country".<br />Chile is facing the plight of migrants in a very difficult situation. Healthcare facilities are under great pressure due to the increase in Covid cases, which the vaccination campaign fails to stop especially in some cities. In addition, the hospitals are receiving all the patients who do not have Covid but other diseases, and who can now no longer delay medical assistance. Another reason for friction is given by the new migration law, which replaces the current one, one of the oldest immigration laws in Latin America, conceived in 1975 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet , when the military regime tried to limit the entry of migrants. There already seems to be controversy over the new law, because it proposes greater "rigidity" on border control and acceleration of deportations, also requiring a visa from the country of origin, in order to prevent foreigners from entering as tourists and changing their status into immigrants to be able to look for work.<br />The enactment of the law takes place at a time of migratory boom, especially on the northern border, between Chile and Bolivia, where in the months of February and March thousands of immigrants were registered illegally, causing the collapse of several small border towns. <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:19:19 +0200AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - New attack on Palma; UNICEF warns of an escalation of the humanitarian situationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69949-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_New_attack_on_Palma_UNICEF_warns_of_an_escalation_of_the_humanitarian_situationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69949-AFRICA_MOZAMBIQUE_New_attack_on_Palma_UNICEF_warns_of_an_escalation_of_the_humanitarian_situationMaputo - The city of Palma in northeast Mozambique was attacked again yesterday evening. Just three weeks ago, after a large-scale jihadist attack, dozens were killed and thousands were forced to flee . According to military sources, there were shootings between soldiers and jihadist fighters. The situation is now under control again.<br />One element that suggests that the so-called Al-Shabaab militias made a qualitative leap is the fact that while the fighters carried out the attack in Palma, further attacks were carried out at two locations within a 200 km radius. "Mueda, Pundanhar and Palma were attacked almost simultaneously", said a spokesman for the military. <br />However, the attack on Mueda has not yet been confirmed by other sources.<br />Meanwhile, the children's aid organization UNICEF warns of an escalation in the humanitarian situation of the people of northern Mozambique and the Mozambicans who have sought refuge in neighboring Tanzania. "Today almost 13% of children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, of which almost 4% are severely affected. And these figures refer only to the areas we have access to", said Manuel Fontaine, Director of Emergency Aid at UNICEF. <br />There are currently around 700,000 displaced people and there is a risk of a million by June, if the situation does not improve.<br />The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, expressed his solidarity with the Mozambican government and the people of the country. <br />"An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We stand united. Therefore, we cannot sit back and allow the insurgents to continue their actions without a solid regional response", Mnangagwa said, addressing members of his party. "Last week I attended the South African Development Community summit in Mozambique, where the regional leadership decided to immediately send technical missions to restore peace and stability", said the President of Zimbabwe, with a view to planning possible SADC military operations.<br />The Defense Ministers of Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, who currently form the Troika, will meet on April 28 to prepare an extraordinary meeting on the situation. <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 13:08:49 +0200ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Catholics who follow masses online due to the pandemic are increasing: Bishops want to a return to the churches after the end of the pandemichttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69948-ASIA_SOUTH_KOREA_Catholics_who_follow_masses_online_due_to_the_pandemic_are_increasing_Bishops_want_to_a_return_to_the_churches_after_the_end_of_the_pandemichttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69948-ASIA_SOUTH_KOREA_Catholics_who_follow_masses_online_due_to_the_pandemic_are_increasing_Bishops_want_to_a_return_to_the_churches_after_the_end_of_the_pandemicSeoul - The number of Catholics watching Sunday Mass on social media and television is increasing in South Korea.<br />According to a report published by the Catholic Bishops' Conference in South Korea, the number of viewers from the Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation on the special YouTube channel that digitally broadcasts live liturgies and pastoral events have increased in the last year. Given the health protocols in place, many Catholics have generally chosen to attend mass online, the report said.<br />However, this trend raises pastoral concerns. "Many church members of our parish chueches have striven to participate in Eucharists streamed on televisions and YouTube amid difficulties stemming from COVID-19, but the value of in-person worships, the core of Catholic life, should not weaken", says a note from the Bishops' Conference.<br />Of the country's total population of 52.9 million, the Roman Catholic population account for 11.2 percent. The number of Roman Catholics here was 5,923,300 as of the end of 2020, up only 8,631, or 0.15 percent, from the previous year, according to the annual statistics compiled by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea . The Bishops say they understand the widespread concern among the people about health problems and therefore the decision, made by many, not to physically attend church masses. The data also showed that baptism cases plunged 62.6 percent on-year in 2020 to 30,285, while the number of marriages recognized by the Catholic Church fell 43 percent to 7,915. The statement by the Korean bishops said that in 2021, too, the attendance of believers in church services will be low, given the recent development of the pandemic situation in the country. In doing so, the bishops point out that online or television services cannot be a complete substitute for a celebration attended by local believers. The human and interpersonal relationship, which is concrete and real, is fundamental to the Christian faith and cannot be replaced by a virtual or digital relationship. Like Pope Francis, the bishops recall that in the digital environment, "sacraments cannot be administered virtually. For this reason, as soon as the health crisis calms down and the pandemic data improves, the Church of Korea will encourage believers to return to the churches. <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 12:33:00 +0200AMERICA/NICARAGUA - "Justice and Peace" Commission expresses concern about high unemployment rates and increasing poverty and crimehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69947-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Justice_and_Peace_Commission_expresses_concern_about_high_unemployment_rates_and_increasing_poverty_and_crimehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69947-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Justice_and_Peace_Commission_expresses_concern_about_high_unemployment_rates_and_increasing_poverty_and_crimeManagua - The "Justice and Peace" Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua comments on the current situation in the country and is concerned about "high unemployment rates, poor living conditions, low wages and the worsening of poverty" in Nicaragua.<br />The message which is addressed to Catholics and to all people of good will, mentions in the title the biblical verse “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water” and reminds us that after the Passion and Death of the Lord, we joyfully celebrate his Resurrection, which always brings us the hope of a new life. "The Spirit of Life always accompanies us in difficulties. Thanks to this Spirit, the disciples of Christ can face the difficulties of the society in which they live with new hope", affirms the message. <br />Given the current situation marked by problems and difficulties, the Commission calls on us to take inspiration from the words of Pope Francis in his encyclical "Fratelli tutti", which states: "Some economic rules have proved effective for growth, but not for integral human development. Wealth has increased, but together with inequality, with the result that “new forms of poverty are emerging”. .<br />The Commission notes with concern: "In the current context we see an increase in general crime and institutionalized violence, accompanied by criminal laws that do not solve these problems and rather lead to selective convictions".<br />Finally, the Commission recalls the words of Pope Francis: "All Christians and people of good will are called to fight for the protection of life in all its forms, to improve conditions of detention, while respecting human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty, also with a view to life imprisonment, which is basically equivalent to a hidden death". <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 12:06:42 +0200ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Barnabite Fr. Scalese on the withdrawal of US troops: "The risk is to plunge back into civil war and instability"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69946-ASIA_AFGHANISTAN_Barnabite_Fr_Scalese_on_the_withdrawal_of_US_troops_The_risk_is_to_plunge_back_into_civil_war_and_instabilityhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69946-ASIA_AFGHANISTAN_Barnabite_Fr_Scalese_on_the_withdrawal_of_US_troops_The_risk_is_to_plunge_back_into_civil_war_and_instabilityKabul - "The most serious risk deriving from the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is that the country could fall back into civil war. So far, the negotiations between the government and the Taliban, provided for in the Doha agreements, have never started seriously or have not led to any results. The plan was to form a transitional government, of national unity, to then reach free elections, which would decide who should govern. But if the parties do not speak to each other, how can a joint government be formed? It is much easier to make weapons speak". This is what Fr. Giovanni Scalese, Barnabite priest, Superior of the Missio sui iuris in Afghanistan, speaking about the announcement of the withdrawal of American troops made two days ago by the President of the United States Joe Biden and expected by 11 September 2021.<br />"In any case - continues Scalese in the note sent to Agenzia Fides - even if the Taliban should have the upper hand, because they are better organized and financed, I do not think they can be under any illusions about restoring the Islamic Emirate, as if these twenty years did not exist. They may impose a new constitution , but they will not be able to claim to cancel the freedoms or ignore the rights that Afghans have become accustomed to in recent years. Let us not forget that young people did not know the Emirate and grew up in this new reality. Contrary to popular belief, women are a large, qualified and active presence in Afghan society; it would be unthinkable to want to lock them up again at home or in a burqa".<br />The Barnabite, who resides in Kabul, in the Catholic chapel set up in the premises of the Italian Embassy, points out that the choice could undermine the security and economy of the country: "Will the Afghan government be able to guarantee security? It is legitimate to have some doubts in this regard. Just as it is more than legitimate to raise some doubts about the real ability of the government to make the State machinery work without being able to count on the financial support of Western countries. It is true that everyone now swears that they will not abandon Afghanistan and will continue to support it; but one thing is the interventions of the Cooperation, another is the regular subsidy of the institutions. It do not think that much has been done in recent years to relaunch the Afghan economy, also because the situation did not allow it; so I do not know how a country can continue without a functioning economy".<br />However, according to Fr. Scalese, it is difficult to express an opinion on the choice of the US government: "It is better to simply take note of the decision, which had already been taken by the previous American administration. Those who thought that a change of the guard in the White House would be enough to provoke an afterthought obviously did not realize that by now the American military commitment had become unsustainable and, in fact, without prospects. All that remains is to wait, to see how the situation evolves. As Christians, we can only hope for a positive evolution, which, after so many years of violence, will give this country a bit of serenity", he concludes.<br />It was April 1978 when a coup d'état overthrew the government of Mohammed Daud Khan, initiating a state of war that has lasted for more than 40 years in Afghanistan. That coup was followed by the Soviet occupation from 1979 to 1989 and, from the early 1990s, by a bloody civil war that later favored the rise of the Taliban. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan they established remained until 2001, when Bush attacked the country in response to the 9/11 attacks. <br />Fri, 16 Apr 2021 11:50:00 +0200EUROPE/HOLLAND - Appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Rev. Vincent Goulmyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69943-EUROPE_HOLLAND_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_Rev_Vincent_Goulmyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69943-EUROPE_HOLLAND_Appointment_of_the_National_Director_of_the_Pontifical_Mission_Societies_Rev_Vincent_GoulmyVatican City - On January 1, 2021 Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Vincent Goulmy, of the diocese of Roermond National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Netherlands for a five-year period .<br />The new National Director was born in Amsterdam, and is 58 years old and has been a priest for 34. After primary school in Heerlen and the preparatory year in Liège, he continued his studies in Belgium. He studied philosophy in Kerkrade, the Netherlands , then he deepened his biblical studies of theology in Louvain , where he is attending a master's in theological research. He is currently Episcopal Vicar for missions, parish priest of several parishes in Brunssum, chaplain of the French military stationed in Brunssum. He is a member of the National Council of Missio Holland and is President of the missionary office of the diocese of Roermond. <br />Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:18:01 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - "The nation is entrusted to God's mercy"http://www.fides.org/en/news/69945-ASIA_MYANMAR_The_nation_is_entrusted_to_God_s_mercyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/69945-ASIA_MYANMAR_The_nation_is_entrusted_to_God_s_mercyYangon - "We are in God's hands. Our land is entrusted to his Divine Mercy. In a period of tension, suffering and uncertainty about the future, Christ is our rock. This is the path we walk when we see demonstrators who continue to gather every day in cities, large and small, to protest against the military government and to ask for democracy.<br />Numerous prayer vigils are organized in public and private places": this is how a group of religious in Myanmar who askfor anonymity for security reasons, describes the social situation and the spiritual hardship that the Catholic faithful are experiencing in this dramatic phase of national life.<br />As the nuns report, the path that the Burmese Church is walking today is the one traced by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo during the Mass celebrated on April 11, 2021, on Divine Mercy Sunday, who desires "a faith that is accompanied by works".<br />"The Resurrection - recalled the Cardinal, giving the faithful indications on how to live the Easter season - is the celebration of hope. It is the conviction and certainty that God himself can work wonders even from a tomb. Life will sprout from death, when the time of the Lord comes". "The last year was a year of darkness and death, marked by so much human suffering. Let the heart of Christ Jesus heal everyone: the oppressor and the oppressed", said the Cardinal.<br />"The Church", Cardinal Bo remembers with an explicit reference to the city of Myitkyina in northern Myanmar in the state of Kachin, "was itself involved in the struggle of our people and is called to accompany our people with blood and tears. It has truly traveled an authentic Way of the Cross. For many of you, the thirteenth station of the Way of the Cross, where our Mother Mary weeps over her son's body, has become a reality. We live in a country where hundreds of mothers live with heartbroken tears, whose hearts are hurt at the sight of their children being tortured and killed. For all these mothers and all those directly involved, let us pray for the grace that pours out of the heart of Jesus".<br />Religious, priests, nuns, Christian laity have offered a profound testimony of faith, showing the merciful face of the Catholic Church during the crisis".<br />The Cardinal noted: "With assemblies and prayer vigils you have accompanied your people in moments of trial. The name Myitkyina became known internationally thanks to the inspiring testimony of Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng of the Sisters of St. Francis Xavier. The world has seen the precious testimony, ready to sacrifice, in the face of the tsunami of evil. I commend to all the testimony of Sister Ann Rose's saving love, which has inspired many to appreciate the Catholic Church and religious life. Out of the darkness, simple acts of generosity shine with great power".<br />"This message of redeeming love - he explained - is in synthesis the message of divine mercy. Forgiveness in the face of darkness, love in the face of hatred is the message that the Lord gave to Sister Faustina Kowalska in her many apparitions. God is merciful, let us no longer seek Jesus among the dead, because he is alive and has become the Lord of life. The mystery of the resurrection is revealed through the mercy of God".<br />"Amidst all the great challenges we face today, we seek God's mercy. The times are dark, the way seems challenging. We need the light of God's mercy in Myanmar…. Let us entrust every house and the whole nation to God's mercy", the Archbishop of Yangon concluded. <br />Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:12:53 +0200