Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PHILIPPINES - Stop to extrajudicial executions, yes to human rights - "It is necessary to defend democracy and human rights in the Philippines: democracy in the 'war against drugs' by President Duterte has caused thousands of extrajudicial killings, impunity, and threatning signs of authoritarianism": this is what is said by a forum of Filipino civil society organizations gathered under the platform "Ugnayan Bayan", which in these days, in conjunction with the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council, organized a demonstration in front of the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva. As Fides learns, simultaneously, thousands of faithful participated in a solemn Eucharistic concelebration in San Agustin church in Manila and then announced a peaceful protest march at Luneta Park to express a firm opposition to the "murder policy" promoted by President Rodrigo Duterte in the "war on drugs", while refusing any attempt to enforce martial law in the country.<br />The forum includes several Catholic religious leaders who are engaged in the defense of life, among them the Jesuit Albert Alejo who explains to Fides: "Extrajudicial executions are the distinctive sign of Duterte's administration drug warfare. Since June 2016 at least 12,000, including 54 minors have died. The problem of the widespread of drugs is more than a criminal problem. It is also a public health problem and is also a result of poverty".<br />The platform of the Philippine civil society, shared by many Christian associations, therefore calls for "ending impunity: we demand impartial investigations into killings and the pursuit of killers, thus guaranteeing the rule of law". "President Duterte - reads the statement sent to Fides - should be considered responsible for the thousands of executions. His continuous public encouragement to the police to eliminate those who commit drug crimes has fueled the spiral of homicides".<br />Catholic communities in the Philippines have deplored with anger the repeated murders of some teenagers: among them Kian delos Santos a 17-year-old Catholic, Carl Angelo Arnaiz , and Reynaldo de Guzman , who were killed while in the custody of agents. In the case of Kian delos Santos, the police said the boy was a drug dealer and was killed during an anti-drug raid, but the recording of a video camera shows that, well before being killed, he was already arrested and taken into custody by the police.<br />Organizations launch an alarm on human rights defenses in the Philippines: "The president often denigrates human rights as an obstacle to peace and development and threatening human rights activists who criticize his government". That is why, they say "it is urgent to protect and strengthen our democratic institutions", condemning any form of authoritarianism and the return to the "martial law" still in force on the island of Mindanao. <br /><br />Fri, 22 Sep 2017 13:30:38 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Bishop of Nsukka condemns the attack on a Mosque. Fears of independent reawakening - "This unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all", is the strong condemnation expressed by His Exc. Mgr. Godfrey Onah, Bishop of Nsukka, with regards to the destruction and burning of the Mosque at Oguurute, in Enugu Ezike, in the State of Enugu, in southern Nigeria.<br />The incident happened on Saturday, 16th of September and Mgr. Onah was immediately informed and sent the Vicar to make an assessment of the situation and the next day Mgr. Onah paid a visit to the Mosque to express his solidarity to the local Imam.<br /> "The Imam expressed his happiness with the Catholic Church because of the concern they have shown since the unfortunate incidence", said a statement from the diocese sent to Agenzia Fides. "The Bishop of Nsukka wishes to remind all, Christians and non-Christians alike that Nsukka region has been known for her peaceful coexistence with her neighbours. <br />We have a handful of the Muslim community in Enugu Ezike, Ibagwa Aka and never has it been known that any rancour existed between them and any other group. Hence, this unprecedented mindless destruction of a place of worship is not just abhorrent but totally unacceptable and should be condemned by all. Christian faith teaches us that we should love our neighbours as ourselves", said Mgr. Onah, who promised "that the Church will do whatever is within her power to ensure that the Muslims and the Christians will continue to live in peace".<br />The police authorities are inclined to believing it was an accidental fire, probably a short circuit. Initially, however, it was suspected that the fire had been set by activists of the Indigenous People of Biafra , the movement that claim the independence of Biafra, a region that includes the present southern states of Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia and Akwa Ibom. Some IPOB members have denied that their group is responsible for the incident, claiming that their fight is peaceful.<br />The episode, however, highlights the tensions in the area due to the activities of the IPOB, which yesterday, September 21, was decreed "illegal and terroristic" by the Supreme Court of Abuja.<br />The ruling, issued by Democratic Justice Minister Abubakar Malami submitted recently, forces "the end of any form of participation and support to the IPOB on behalf of other acronyms and individual citizens". The Nigerian government accuses the IPOB of receiving funding and support from foreign countries, such as France and Great Britain. In particular, the organization's financial base is located in Paris while the propaganda drive in London.<br />The sad story of the Biafra war is still alive in the memory of the Nigerian Federation. The conflict for the secession of the south-east of the Country, rich in oil resources, caused more than a million deaths, due to the blockade of food supplies imposed by the Nigerian central government. <br /><br /><br />Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:50:36 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni visits the places of the 2011 tsunami: "God has not forgotten you" - "God loves you, despite your suffering, he is not indifferent, he has not forgotten you". This is how Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, addressed all the inhabitants of the Japanese regions devastated by the 2011 tsunami. He did so in his homily during the Mass he celebrated on Friday, September 22 in Sendai , the largest city in the region of Tohoku, on the sixth day of his visit in Japan. In the afternoon, before Mass, Cardinal Filoni visited the places where the effects of the disaster are still visible which on March 11, 2011 led to the loss of at least 18,000 human lives and priceless damage: "so many innumerable victims and damages were provoked, so many families were destroyed, so many goods, earned by hard work, were lost, so many civil and religious communities were profoundly modified", recalled the Cardinal in his homily, thanking "all those who still carry out their pastoral and charitable care here among people wounded by the earthquake". The Prefect also referred to the lacerating questions that arise in the face of such catastrophes: "Why is there evil in the world, how can one explain this reality that causes so much sadness?" "Not always recognized Cardinal Filoni "man has an explanation for everything, and sometimes keeping silent allows us to reflect on the fact that, in the face of good and evil, we do not have adequate answers". The Cardinal recalled the biblical figure of Job, "symbol of every man deeply touched by the suffering, who asked the same question. Before he who spoke of the vindictive justice of God or of moralistic and meaningless explanations, Job, despite his suffering, criticized that logic, fruit of a superficial explanation". When evil touches our lives - the Cardinal suggested - the only "wise thing" to do is prayer, to trust God, "like Job". And the only real answer can come from experiencing the healing brought to the world by Christ, who by coming to the world "took upon him our weakness, and through the deepest suffering and his death, he destroyed death". In this regard, Cardinal Filoni took inspiration from the passage of Luke's Gospel, read during the liturgy and the image of Jesus who "journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God and healing the people of their infirmities" . "In his journey", said the Prefect, "Jesus met people; when he met them, he approached them; when he approached, he talked with them; when he spoke, his spiritual power healed and helped both physical illnesses and some serious spiritual ills. This is Jesus. This is what the Church must do, always, everywhere and on every occasion". On concluding his homily, Cardinal Filoni pointed out his visit to Sendai as a sign of Christian closeness and solidarity with the people affected by the 2011 catastrophe: "God loves you, despite your suffering, he is not indifferent, he has not forgotten you ... In Jesus, it is God who shares all your problems; let us think for example of what immense solidarity has been created in the world, in Japan, and in the Church toward Sendai. God has forgotten Sendai". Agenzia Fides, 22/9/2017)<br />Fri, 22 Sep 2017 12:14:53 +0200AMERICA/CHILE - The Cathedral of Concepción occupied by the families of Mapuche Political Prisoners, Mgr. Chomali mediatorón - Yesterday a group of protesters, family members of the Mapuche Political Prisoners , occupied the Cathedral of Concepción. Immediately after Archbishop Mgr. Fernando Chomali urged the authorities to take seriously into account the demands of the Mapuche people: "who need greater constitutional recognition. I think it is time to deal with the issue more seriously: their culture must be more respected and the problem of land has not been solved, these are the underlying issues".<br />Fides received a Tweet where it was informed that Archbishop Chomali agreed to speak with Juan Carlos Tralkal, representative of the Mapuche Political Prisoners . The PPM occupied the Cathedral and began a hunger strike in order to attract the attention of public opinion throughout the country.<br />Mgr. Chomali expressed his opinion during a press conference with regards to the strikers: they have not had a due trial, especially after a year of preventive detention. Moreover, the occupation of the Cathedral was a planned action and for no reason will they be thrown out by the police. Mgr. Chomali also informed that he agreed to mediate between the regional authorities of Araucania and the members of the Mapuche Political Prisoners .<br />On his behalf, Juan Carlos Tralkal, one of the spokesperson for the Mapuche families, thanked the Church for her work. <br />"The occupation of the Cathedral is a symbolic act to draw attention and to ensure that people support the Mapuche who are in the prison in Temuco", Tralkal said.<br />Fides informed about the "Mapuche Cause" and the contribution of the Church since the first developments of the issue , following the activity of the Dialogue between Mapuche and the Chilean government under the guidance of Mgr. Vargas with the support given by the Chilean Bishops' Conference. <br />Fri, 22 Sep 2017 11:16:54 +0200ASIA/MALAYSIA - Appointment of the Rector of the "College General" Major Seminary in Penang City - On July 1, 2017, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Stanley Antoni of the diocesan clergy of Penang as Rector of the "College General" Preparatory and Philosophical Interdiocesan Major Seminary in the diocese of Penang, in Malaysia.<br />The New Rector was born on June 29, 1973 in Tapah, in the state of Perak, , and was ordained a priest on January 25, 2008 in St. Joseph Church in Bidor, Perak. Since his ordination he was vice parish priest in several parishes, studied in Rome at the Pontifical Urbaniana University where he obtained a licentiate in philosophy. When he returned home, he was appointed at the College General. Since 2014 he is also head of the Bahasa Malaysia Apostolate. <br /><br />Fri, 22 Sep 2017 09:42:37 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - "Arms embargo on the Burmese military to end its ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims" – It is urgent to take immediate action to stop the Burma Armys campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people, including an arms embargo against Myanmar: this is what Christian Solidarity Worldwide Council have asked the UN Council for human rights. In a note sent to Fides, CSW called on the UN Human Rights Council "to put pressure on the military in Burma, in particular, a global arms embargo and the suspension of military training programmes for the Burma Army". CSW also urged the UN Human Rights Council "to pass a resolution calling for an end to civilian deaths and immediate humanitarian access to all in need, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, in the state of Rakhine".<br />Mervyn Thomas, Director of CSW, says to Fides: "The scale of the tragedy unfolding on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in the past three weeks is truly appalling. The international community must act to stop a campaign of ethnic cleansing which involves the displacement of at least 400,000 civilians, the killing of thousands and the destruction of hundreds of villages. The Burma Army is responsible for this crisis".<br />According to the Director, "over the past six years Burma has begun a period of fragile reform and democratisation, which we have welcomed. At this time, however, we believe the crisis is so severe that it is vital that a strong message is sent to the military: that it cannot be allowed to continue killing indiscriminately. The Commander-in-Chief of the army, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is the one person with the power to stop this, and action is needed by the international community to put pressure on him to do so". CSW highlights that the Burma army is violating human rights and has also intensified its assault on the predominantly Christian Kachin ethnic group, and on the Shan people.<br />The Muslim population of Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, and are stateless as a result of a Citizenship Law introduced in Burma in 1982 which revoked their citizenship, even though they have lived in Rakhine State, Burma for generations. In 2012, violence in Rakhine State left thousands displaced, and in October 2016 the Burma Army launched a new military offensive against civilians in Rakhine after a small armed Rohingya group, ARSA , attacked Burmese border guard posts. <br />Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:33:42 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Apostolic Vicariate of Bomadi erected to Diocese and appointment of the first Bishop City - Today, the Holy Father erected the Apostolic Vicariate of Bomadi to Diocese, with the same denomination and territorial configuration, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan seat of Benin City. The Pope appointed His Exc. Mgr. Hayacinth Oroko Egbebo, M.S.P, Vicar Apostolic of the same seat, as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Bomadi,.<br />The diocese of Bomadi covers an area of 13,140 sq. Km. It has a population of 2,994,321, of whom 37,682 Catholics. There are 24 parishes and 2 churches, 23 diocesan priests and 11 religious priests, 63 religious women and 51 major seminarians. <br />Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:50:19 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni in Osaka: The Church is not a 'service agency' - The opportunity to recover momentum in the proclamation of the Gospel, in Japan and elsewhere, "does not rest in the methodologies put in place by ecclesial apparatus but in returning to experience Christ's charity". Only by re-drawing from this source that the people involved in the apostolic mission can escape the danger of falling back on their own activism, to the point of forgetting that their "primary mission, like that of Jesus, is to proclaim to the poor a message of grace and proclaim the liberation to mankind, victim of so much oppression". These are some of the cues of reflection that Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, wanted to suggest with the words first addressed to the bishops and then priests, religious men and women and lay Catholics of the region of Osaka, on the fifth day of his visit to Japan.<br />The Cardinal, who met the bishops of the region of Osaka in the early afternoon, recalled the danger of making the Church seem a 'service agency'. Church-inspired works in the field of education, social and health care in collaboration with civil authorities have been for decades "a concrete sign of encouragement and support for the entire Japanese people, who lived very difficult moments after the Second World War". But in the present situation - Cardinal Filoni noted - "we cannot ignore the risk that the apostolic personnel becomes a "bureaucrat" of the educational or social situation, supported by the Government, from the moment one risks falling into the dynamic of competitiveness". Not so often - recalled the Cardinal, offering a concrete picture of such possible involution "parish related activities, for example, the functioning of kindergartens and schools, or frequent meetings end up taking a lot of time, limiting that for pastoral care with regards to faith and the catechesis of the faithful". To put a stop on these drifts - Cardinal Filoni suggested - in some situations it is appropriate to "rethink our role in the various sectors of social service". And if the services that the Church makes in the various fields "are not adequate" said the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, "then the Bishops must have the courage to rethink how to give priority to this missionary purpose". Cardinal Filoni also encouraged the representatives of the Japanese episcopate to intensify the already initiated pastoral care of Catholic immigrants, that "will be able to integrate in culture and become a promising resource for the evangelization of this Earth".<br />On the afternoon of Thursday, September 21, during the meeting with priests, religious and lay people in the ecclesiastical region of Osaka, Cardinal Filoni reiterated the factors that can renew a genuine missionary impetus also in Japanese land, in the light of what is constantly suggested by the magisterium of Pope Francis. Japan - said the Prefect - "is not immune from the evils that afflict our century: secularization, religious indifference, ethical subjectivism, loss of the sense of the sacred, that afflict many ancient Western Christian communities". Four and a half centuries have passed since the Gospel was announced for the first time in the Japanese archipelago, and Christians account for a small percentage of the population, while most of the Japanese people still regard Christianity as an "unknown" element to their own culture. In the face of this situation - Cardinal Filoni added - one can think of finding shelter in a pastoral "of conservation", which focuses on the care of structures and the few faithful, perhaps by placing their trust in pastoral methodologies presented as more 'modern'. "Yet", noted the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, "the Pope has often repeated that the mission does not rest in the methodologies put in place by the ecclesial apparatus, but in returning to experience Christ's charity. The problem is faith; there is no intimate relationship with Him in prayer; when this is lacking the face of the Church is blurry, the mission loses strength and conversion goes backwards". Instead, in the current Japanese society, also marked by the solitude of the elders, the reduction of birth rate, the high rate of suicide, the Church can return to offer comforting words to all if it returns to propose the message of salvation in Christ. Cardinal Filoni proposed again in this regard the model of St. Theresa of Calcutta: "Do not worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person closest to you", said Mother Teresa. It is the same evangelistic way of Jesus: to announce the good news of the Kingdom of God by looking into the eyes of individual people, in parishes, as in hospitals, in schools, in workplaces or in the streets, anywhere". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Cardinal Filoni's speech to the Bishops of the region of Osaka Cardinal Filoni's speech to the priests and faithful of the region of Osaka</a>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 13:26:14 +0200ASIA/INDIA - "Anti-conversion law" in Jharkhand: will give rise to violence and religious polarization - "Anti-conversion" laws, which in fact are instruments to restrict religious freedom, continue to exacerbate and polarise Indian society: says Jesuit Fr. Michael Kerketta, Indian theologian and professor in Ranchi, capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, northern India.<br />Jharkhand recently became the ninth state of India to approve and enforce an "anti-religious conversion" measure when its governor, Draupadi Murmu, signed a bill on September 5, "Freedom of Religion Bill" .<br />"The measure affects non-Hindu religious communities like Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and other local communities. It is our duty to denounce an injustice that violates the freedom of conscience and religion and is against the Constitution. This is why on Saturday, September 23, we will gather in a public meeting in Ranchi, as members of various religious communities, including the Hindus, to peacefully demonstrate our dissent", informs the Jesuit.<br />"The government of Jharkhand is in the hands of the Baratya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party that also governs the national executive, with Premier Narendra Modi. Hindu extremist groups in the state of Jharkhand are strong and have ample space in society. In past days anti-Christian demonstrations in Ranchi and violent militants shook the city. Some Christians are in prison for false accusations of having promoted conversions", notes Fr. Kerketta.<br />The Jesuit recalls and supports the open letter written in past days by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the Indian Bishops' Conference to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which the hatred and hostility campaign towards religious minorities, promoted by the First Minister of Jharkhand, Raghubar Das, and his executive are highlighted. "If it is not immediately brought under control, it could lead the state and its population to a path of violence and hatred", the Bishop warned. The letter recalls that "the Catholic Church strongly opposes forced conversions. But at the same time it affirms its right to preach, practice and spread the faith". Christians, though victims of violence, notes the letter, "will not respond with violence" but will continue to work for the poor and marginalized with "education, medical care and other social activities".<br />"There is no social or religious violence in Ranchi at the moment, but the social climate remains tense and as a minority community we are worried about the aggression of radical Hindu groups", concludes Fr. Kerketta<br />Since 2000, an “anti-conversion” legislation has been adopted by six Indian states: in Chhattisgarh in 2000; in Tamil Nadu in 2002 ; in Gujarat in 2003; and in Rajasthan in 2006 ; in Himachal Pradesh in 2007, Jharkhand in 2017. In the past, the first measures of this kind were adopted in Odisha in 1967, Madhya Pradesh in 1968 and Arunachal Pradesh in 1978 . Currently an anti-conversion law is therefore in force and is enforced in six states out of nine . In Gujarat, a written permit is required before an individual can convert to a new religious faith, while in other cases a "notification" is required to the civil authorities or the judiciary. <br />Thu, 21 Sep 2017 12:37:24 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - More than 200 dead after powerful earthquake hits Mexico, one word and a gesture among Christians: solidarity - Civil society organizations, solidarity groups, Catholic communities are contributing to promptly reporting the areas most affected by the violent earthquake that hit the country on 19 September and at the same time have mobilized to bring solidarity and the necessary assistance to victims and displaced persons. Until last night there were 43 dead in Puebla alone, 163 churches have suffered structural damage and 1,700 houses have been destroyed. These are figures released by the authorities of this area after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico, in particular Puebla. <br />At least 217 people have been killed, and the toll is still provisional.<br />The Mexican Church has mobilized to bring comfort to the victims and give them the necessary assistance. The Bishop of Puebla, Mgr. Felipe Pozos Lorenzini, yesterday celebrated a Mass for the 12 victims of the town of Atzala before their burial. In this community, the name of Arizbeth Escamilla will be remembered because he was only two months old and was the first to die buried under the rubble of the church roof of Santiago Apostol of Aztala, a 17th century church, about 170 km southeast of Mexico City, where he was supposed to be baptized. The local parish priest is<br />among the survivors of the tragedy that marked this community. Yesterday, during the general audience, the Pontiff addressed his thought to the Latin American Country shocked by the earthquake: "In this moment of pain I manifest my closeness to all the Mexican population", he said, inviting the present to raise a prayer to God "to welcome to his breast all those who have lost their lives, and comfort the wounded, their families and all victims".<br />The earthquake occurred after two weeks when the country was hit by its most powerful earthquake 8.2 magnitude, which left at least 98 people dead. The epicenter, this time, was recorded 12 km southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos, about 160 kilometers from the capital. It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City: from 3,200 as the official figure to some 10,000 according to other sources.<br />The Secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Conference , Mgr. Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, sent to Fides a statement by the Bishops of Mexico calling on "the people of God to join in solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are suffering from the various natural disasters that have hit our country. "Many religious institutions had recognized the effectiveness of the Caritas Mexican and Episcopal Conference's network of aid and solidarity, which worked at full speed to support the brothers who were affected by the earthquake of September 7, particularly in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. This network is revealing to be precious even in this new disaster. <br /><br />Thu, 21 Sep 2017 11:49:55 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Fr. Chito, released in Marawi: "the seizure was God's will" - "My seizure was God's will. A trial He wanted. I trust in him. I see my future only in Marawi: Christians and Muslims are brothers and we believe in the only, unique God": Fr. Teresito Soganub , a priest seized on May 23 and released after 117 days of imprisonment by terrorists of the "Maute" group, linked to the Islamic State, which occupied the city of Marawi, on the island of MIndanao. In the city, the Philippine army is strengthing its last efforts to defeat the jihadists that are still barricaded downtown with a group of over 40 hostages.<br />Fr. Chito, who arrived in Manila, described the days of the kidnapping, noting that he did not want to try to escape, to "share the fate of those kidnapped until the end". The priest thanked the army for their enormous effort and "all those who prayed for us and for our release". Fr Teresito said he sees his future only in Marawi, to continue in the work of dialogue and peace-building: "Christians and Muslims believe in one God, we want to live in peace", he explained.<br />The Bishop of Marawi, Edwin De La Pena, contacted by Fides, reports that "Fr. Chito will have a period of rest and recovery before resuming his priestly ministry and returning to the Apostolic Prelature in Marawi. "Fr. Chito’s release gives us further hope for the release of the other hostages, including other Catholic faithful", he says. "We hope the war ends soon - he continues - and that the inhabitants of Marawi can return home, rebuild their lives and their city".<br />That is why the Bishop invites Catholic communities across the country to "adopt a community affected" by the crisis in Marawi, in order to assist local communities on the long-term path to recovery. "The common effort of the entire Philippine Church will communicate a message of hope to all affected communities", notes De La Peña.<br />The project "To adopt a community" is an initiative of the Apostolic Prelature of Marawi, in collaboration with Caritas Philippines and Redemptorist missionaries. Dioceses and parishes will adopt a community of Marawi, helping all displaced people and providing all the necessities to return to normal social activities, as before the crisis.<br />The Bishop reports that a special appeal will also be launched to rebuild the Cathedral in Marawi, heavily damaged by jihadists. As reported to Fides, the Apostolic Prelature will present a project to ask for an extraordinary contribution also to the Pontifical Mission Societies. <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:36:03 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni: one becomes a Christian because he is "fascinated". The proclamation of the Gospel is not an ideological "indoctrination" - The proclamation of the Gospel "is not an indoctrination, or an imposition or a forging of minds and hearts". It adheres to the Gospel not for "ideological proselytism" but because is "fascinated", with the "inner freedom of those who discover themselves to be the son of God". With these words, taking inspiration from the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, Cardinal Fernando Filoni recalled the dynamism of the spread of Christianity in the world, which distinguishes it from all forms of cultural or religious propaganda. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples expressed these considerations in the homily celebrated in the Cathedral of Hiroshima on Wednesday evening, September 20, on the fourth day of his visit in Japan. During the homily, the Cardinal also referred to the experience of Korean martyrs Andrea Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and their martyred companions, on the day of their liturgical memory. "The story of evangelization in Korea", recalled the Cardinal, "reminds us that some Confucian scholars, fascinated by the truth of the Gospel, began to study the Catholic doctrine and biblical texts, finding them extraordinary; then they sent one of them to Beijing to be baptized. When he returned to his homeland, he baptized the other members of the group, thus giving life to the Korean Church, with no contribution from abroad. After that happy start - Cardinal Filoni added - the Catholic Church in Korea "was instead bathed in the blood of innumerable martyrs. <br />Even in this dear land of Japan, many witnessed the blood of martyrs. As Jesus was a victim of hatred and injustice, so were the martyrs of this country victims of hatred without a just cause". On Japanese land - the Cardinal noted - the first proclamation of the Gospel was opposed and triggered persecution "because it was considered subversive of the then-established social state. Perhaps today, the Cardinal added, referring to the present situation, "there are other no less serious impediments: secular mentality, hedonism, indifference, idolatry of well-being and money, the sense of our life that is stolen". And even today, "to proclaim the Good News is "a work of enormous charity, and those who welcome the message of the Gospel, is always a cause of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord". <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 13:35:10 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni: Hiroshima is the place where Christ renewed his sacrifice in the twentieth century - Hiroshima "is the place where Christ renewed his sacrifice in the twentieth century". And even for the Catholic Church, Hiroshima "today means a city of peace, in which God has not forgotten man, he is not hidden but lives there". Thus, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, expressed a glance of faith on the spiritual vocation, universally recognized, of the Japanese city, where on August 6, 1945, the first atomic massacre of human history was carried out. This is what the Cardinal said his speech on Wednesday, September 20, to priests, religious men and women, consecrated faithful and lay persons, of the Archdiocese of Hiroshima, whom he met on the fourth day of his visit in Japan. "Here", continued the Prefect of Propaganda Fide "Christ crucified continues, from above of this new Golgotha, to admonish all people" including those who in the name of religions "foment hatred, divisions and wars". The call to Christ's presence in world affairs offered the Cardinal the occasion to also suggest the Catholics of the Archdiocese ways to give space to "a renewed missionary impulse just as the Pope Francis urges in the Evangelii gaudium". The Archdiocese of Hiroshima extends over a territory that hosts 7 million inhabitants, and where the Catholic baptized are about 20,000. "Is Christ known here? Does he have a place? Does he have a salvation to propose? Is the kingdom of God announced here? "These" suggested the Cardinal "are the questions to answer. As we admire the past missionary work, we cannot be the simple administrators of those results. If there is no motivation for missionary life, there will also be no generosity and apostolic zeal; there will be no joy of evangelizing".<br />"From the glory, grace and truth brought by Christ" - added the Prefect - "the people of Japan cannot be excluded. God has not stopped at the doors of this Country, which although noble and cultured, awaits the Kingdom of God: Say to the blind, to the deaf, to the sick, to the poor, to those who are hopeless, or suffer from the division of families or drug addicts, or who thinks suicide is the only way to end the desolation and desperation that there is a Good News for them".<br />In his visit to Hiroshima, Cardinal Fernando Filoni paid homage to the Monument of Peace and of the Atomic Bomb. <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:49:35 +0200AMERICA/ANTILLE - Critical situation and huge damage due to hurricane Irma: Bishops close to the population of Spain – To ascertain the damage caused by hurricanes, comfort the victims, and organize relief: is what the Catholic communities in the Antilles are doing. "Among the recent hurricanes that continue to hit the Caribbean islands , the worst ever has been Irma", explains to Fides Fr. J. Kaboré, Chargé d'Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature of Port of Spain. "Hurricane Maria, which is now edging closer and closer towards Trinidad and Tobago, is more a tropical storm and it seems that at the moment it is not causing significant damage", says Fr. Kaborè.<br />"Our Apostolic Nunciature – he tells Fides - is in constant contact with the local Churches, in particular with the Bishops of the most seriously affected islands, among these Bishop Riocreux of St Martin-St Barthélémy, Bishop S. Pinder of the Bahamas and Bishop LLanos in Antigua and Barbuda. The latter area seems to be the most seriously affected: on Tuesday, 19, Mgr. LLanos, apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Saint John's-Basseterre, called to warn us that he was visiting Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anguilla and it was difficult to maintain contact with those affected islands. Bishop Luigi Secco of Willemstad sent emails reporting the situation. Many Catholic groups, in particular ‘the Living Waters Community in Port of Spain’, have been particularly active in providing support to the victims".<br />The Bishops of the region have spread various messages to express solidarity with the victims and seek help, largely from the US Bishops' Conference and have also called for a moratorium on the International Monetary Fund with regard to foreign debt. "The islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and Anguilla have suffered major damages - continues the Chargé d'Affaires - are in a very critical situation. I believe that Bishop Llanos and his people need the utmost assistance. He assured me that he would try to keep in touch with the Apostolic Nunciature, but at the moment, while he is visiting the different islands there is no connection. <br />The Bishops continue to stay close to the people, they go to visit the families and bring comfort".<br />According to the Report prepared by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, sent to Fides by the Secretariat of the Episcopal Conference of the Antilles, "the situation is particularly complicated because the British Virgin Islands are under the British Government and, in order to be able to proceed with relief and transfer, permits are needed". "At present we all need help, especially Bishop LLanos and his people, since Barbuda has been completely swept away and the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Anguilla have reported enormous damage. I ask everyone to pray for this region", concludes Fr. Kaboré.<br />The most affected and damaged dioceses are Saint John's-Basseterre , the northern part of the Diocese of Basse-Terre , the northern part of the Diocese of Willemstad , the Mission sui iuris of Turks and Caicos, the Archdiocese of Nassau . <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:25:37 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - Massacre of Burundian refugees in the east: 34 dead and about a hundred injured - 34 Burundian refugees were killed by security forces on September 16 in the refugee camp near the village of Kamanyola in the Plain of Ruzizi, South Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.<br />According to information sent from sources of the local Church to Agenzia Fides, the tragedy was triggered by the arrest of four Burundians on the night of September 13, who were accused of being armed with cudgels and patrolling the fenced area of their camp, without the permission of the local authorities. The four were initially detained by the Immigration Department in Kamanyola and were then handed over to the local security service headquarters, the National Intelligence Agency .<br />The refugees explained that they were carrying out a night patrol because they had been informed of a probable assault on their camp by members of the Burundian pro-government militia, Imbonerakure.<br />On the evening of 15 September, Burundian refugees organized a mass demonstration to release the four inmates in front of the ANR headquarters. In the early hours of the 16th, the situation degenerated when the security forces opened fire on the crowd, killing 34 Burundians and injuring about a hundred. Authorities confirm one soldier died and some security agents were injured, indicating that there were armed people among the refugees. According to a note sent to Fides, "it is difficult to confirm that refugees have weapons, because security agents would never have captured armed Burundi refugees. Rather, it should be noted that the population alludes to Burundians who operate in the Plain of Ruzizi, who come directly from Burundi and therefore are not refugees from Kamanyola".<br />Fides sources point out, however, that there is mistrust among the population towards Burundi refugees, while local authorities have not undertaken any efforts to integrate them in the local society.<br />More than 410,000 Burundians were forced to seek shelter in the DRC and Tanzania because of the violence triggered by the crisis that broke out in 2015 following the third mandate of President Pierre Nkurunziza, in violation of the Constitution and Arusha Peace Agreements. Since then, Burundi has been living in a state of permanent tension between the violence committed by the pro-government militia and those of some guerrilla groups who go against the president. <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:45:44 +0200AMERICA - Child labor: 152 million victims, the Church asks to address the root problem York - The new research carried out jointly by the International Labor Organization and by the Walk Free Fundation, in collaboration with the World Organization for Migration , reveals the real scope of modern slavery in the world.<br />Data, published during the recent United Nations General Assembly, shows that in 2016 over 40 million people worldwide were victims of modern slavery and that 152 million children aged between 5 and 17 are engaged in work. The OIT also submitted an associated report confirming that these 152 million children are forced into child labor.<br />New data also show that women and girls are disproportionately affected by modern slavery: 71 percent of the total, almost 29 million. Women account for 99 percent of the victims of forced labor in the sex trade and 84 percent of forced marriages. The research reveals that among the 40 million victims of modern slavery, about 25 million were victims of forced labor and 15 million of forced marriages.<br />Child labor continues to be concentrated mainly in agriculture . Nearly one child out of five works in the service sector while 11.9 percent works in the industry sector.<br />This 72nd United Nations General Assembly will celebrate the concluding session from 19 to 25 September in New York.<br />On September 12, Mgr. Ivan Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See at the United Nations, stated: "It is time to move from law to action" because "contemporary forms of slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labor, must be addressed at the root". "New forms of slavery must be abolished just like the abolition of slavery in the ancient world: adopting a new vision of the human being and of its dignity through laws, education and the conversion of minds".<br />Mgr. Ivan Jurkovič concluded his speech by saying that "we must all be aware of these dramatic situations and work to eradicate the new and atrocious forms of human slavery. It is increasingly evident that today we are faced with a global phenomenon". <br />Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:01:36 +0200ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni in Nagasaki: Christ is not just a "guru" of moral life - Missionaries who introduced the Gospel in Japan did not endanger their lives "just to announce Christ as an extraordinary wise man or guru of moral life, or as a promoter of social welfare". They were ready to sacrifice their own existence only because they wanted to make known "the mystery of Jesus, the Son of God, who offers his life to redeem man from his existential solitude, from the poverty of sin and the slavery that humiliate him". This is what Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said during his homily celebrated on Tuesday evening 19 September in the Cathedral of Nagasaki on the third day of his visit in Japan. "After the Gospel was brought to Japan decades ago" the Prefect of Propaganda Fide said in his homily, "today we see a danger, that is "to relativize "both the mission of the Church in bringing the Gospel and the same person of Christ. For example, one prefers to talk about Christ as a wise person who shows the right rule of life, or a good person who helped the poor and marginalized of the society of his age. If we want to see Christ's figure as a human philanthropist, the risk would be to also perceive the mission of the Church as a great humanitarian organization of the world".<br />Charitable works and the spread of moral teachings - the Cardinal said - are indispensable expressions of the missionary vocation of the Church, but cannot be separated from their source. "If we reflect on the history of more than four centuries after Francesco Saverio's arrival in Kagoshima - added the Cardinal, referring to the first proclamation of the Gospel on Japanese land - we understand that for this great missionary to announce the name of Jesus in Japan, responded to the deep desire to bring the news of God's love and compassion in this land, because the Japanese people, were lacking of the revelation of God". Even today - Cardinal Filoni added - "We are therefore called to a great mission towards this poor, suffering, humiliated humanity destroyed by hatred, envy, abortion, by the most atrocious wars, the violence against the poor, by drugs, success and money". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Cardinal Filoni's homily in Nagasaki</a>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:02:56 +0200ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - A common commitment: appeal of religious and political leaders for peace in Korea – To sign and apply the cease-fire, negotiate a peace treaty, establish a long-lasting reconciliation era in the Korean peninsula: are the requests contained in a special peace appeal signed by 2,000 people of different nationalities, ethnicity and religion, gathered in Seoul for the summit of the World Alliance of Religions Peace, which ended on September 18th. More than 50 political leaders and leaders from over 30 countries around the world participated in the summit, more than 680 religious leaders of 120 countries. The Alliance aims at strengthening the network among leaders and religious communities in the world to contribute to peace.<br />The text of the appeal, sent to Agenzia Fides, states that "religious leaders must join their hands, referring to the only Creator, to bring to an end all wars and to leave peace in the world as a legacy to future generations". To this end, UN representatives are asked "the greatest possible efforts to issue an international law that guarantees the end of all wars and contribute to peace in the world". The signatories, political and religious leaders, are committed to cooperating and encouraging peoples in their countries "in the work of reaching peace in the world". "Peace is not achieved through individual effort, but thanks to the common commitment and the unity of many who work together". At the closing ceremony of the summit held at Seoul Olympic Park on September 18, there were more than 200,000 people from different religious communities, who in turn committed themselves to becoming "peace messengers".<br />Meanwhile in the Korean peninsula there is growing tension. While Kim Jong-Un's regime intends to "speed up" towards its transformation innuclear power, the United States has stated that "there is also a military option" and in response to Pyongyang's missile launches, they have carried out a demonstrative action, simulating a bombing in the skies of the Korean peninsula. China and Russia have also began naval exercises near North Korea. In this situation, religious leaders say, "an effort of peace is ever more urgent". <br />Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:02:01 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - A Catholic professor: "The educational system in Pakistan is a failure" - "In Pakistan we are witnessing the failure of the educational system. The death of Sharon Masih, the Christian student lynched by his classmates with the utmost indifference of the teachers’ is a clear sign of this failure. There is a climate of hatred towards non-Muslims, the school environment is deteriorating. Christian and Hindu children are victims of Muslim students but also of teachers": this is the strong complaint submitted to Agenzia Fides by Anjum James Paul, Pakistani Catholic professor and president of the "Pakistani Minorities Teachers' Association" . Anjum James Paul was a schoolmate of Shahbaz Bhatti, the murdered Catholic minister, and shared his commitment to human rights and the promotion of religious minorities in the country. Today he leads an association that carries out research and elaborates studies and documents, collaborating with the Pakistan Ministry of Education.<br />Anjum James Paul tells Fides: "In 14 years of research, which we have always submitted to the government, we can say with certainty that intolerance in public school is widespread and Sharon's murder is a clear example. There are prejudices and hatred towards religious minorities that are instilled through textbooks adopted in public schools that promote contempt against other religions. It is necessary to promote coexistence and tolerance in all schools, starting from younger children. This educational system has a strong impact on the formation and minds of young people, hence on the whole society. We already pointed it out in our 'White Book on education' published more or less ten years ago.<br />The president continues: "In recent years, there has been some progress and positive changes, but not enough has been done. There is a context of institutionalized discrimination against non-Muslims that is very dangerous. It is urgent to cut the roots of extremism and to promote a global reform of school curricula with greater attention and commitment. Ideal references are: the famous 1947 speech by Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, on the protection and freedom of religious minorities; and also the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that on 19 June 2014 ordered the Pakistani government to commit itself and to take concrete measures to protect and promote religious minorities, guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens". <br />Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:00:50 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Bishops: violence, murder, torture and rape of civilians are "war crimes" - "Our country is not at peace. People live in fear. The civil war, which we have frequently described as having no moral justification whatsoever, continues". The dilemma of this situation has pushed the Bishops of South Sudan to publish a Pastoral Letter sent to Fides, in which they complain of the attack on civilians by both the government and the opposition, and raise an alarm on the ethnic dimension that the conflict has assumed . <br />"Despite our calls to all parties, factions and individuals to stop the war, nevertheless killing, raping, looting, displacement, attacks on churches and destruction of property continue all over the country. In some towns there is calm, but the absence of gunfire does not mean peace has come. In other towns, civilians are effectively trapped inside the town due to insecurity on the surrounding roads", reads the document. People do not have a place where they can go to avoid the violence: "Even when they have fled to our churches or to UN camps for protection, they are still harassed by security forces. Many have been forced to flee to neighboring countries for protection", the Bishops said. Noting that the amount of hatred in the Country was rising, the Bishops said the killing, torture, and rape of civilians was a “war crime. "People have been herded into their houses which were then set on fire to burn the occupants. Bodies have been dumped in sewage-filled septic tanks. There is a general lack of respect for human life".<br />In addition, the Catholic Bishops said they were going to take a more "proactive approach" to move forward, and that they were going to liaise with other Christian churches in attempts to find lasting peace. "Through the Action Plan for Peace of our South Sudan Council of Churches - reads the statement sent to Fides - we intend to meet face to face not only with the President but with the vice presidents, ministers, members of parliament, opposition leaders and politicians, military officers from all sides, and anyone else who we believe has the power to change our Country for the better. We intend to meet with them not once, but again and again, for as long as is necessary, with the message that we need to see action, not just dialogue for the sake of dialogue". In June, the Holy See announced the initiative called "The Pope for South Sudan", which involves the deployment of considerable Vatican funds to the African country to be used in the fields of education, health care, and agriculture. . <br />Tue, 19 Sep 2017 13:55:55 +0200