Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/SYRIA - Relatives of former IS fighters are returning to Raqqa - The Kurdish Alliance of Democratic Forces of Syria, which controls northeast Syria, has ordered the release of about 400 families of former Islamic State militants from the Al Hol prison camp and their return to the city of Raqqa, a city that for a long time, during the years of conflict, was the main stronghold of Daesh in Syria. The release of families of Syrian IS members was motivated by the overcrowding of the camp, in which living conditions are becoming increasingly unbearable and where serious acts of violence occur again and again. Most of the relatives released from the Al Hol prison camp are widows and children of jihadists who were killed during the long conflict. <br />Nonetheless, the inhabitants of Raqqa expressed concerns and some open disapproval of the arrival of former prisoners from Al Hol. The Syirian Democratic Forces is an alliance of predominantly Kurdish militias that was formed in October 2015 during the Syrian conflict and, with the support of the US-led international coalition, de facto controls large areas in northeastern Syria, including the so-called Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, commonly known as Rojava. The fate of the families of former ISIS fighters in the prison camps on Syrian territory remains a humanitarian problem that is difficult to solve. As early as 2020, the Syrian Democratic Forces began - with the mediation of local tribal leaders - a process of the release and progressive resettlement of prisoner families from Al Hol and other prison camps. After the collapse of the Islamic State, France has so far accompanied the return of 35 children of French jihadists who were detained in Kurdish-controlled prison camps. Over the past few weeks, dozens of people have died in clashes between secret IS cells and government forces. The traces of the Italian Jesuit and Islamic scholar Paolo Dall'Oglio, founder of the Deir Mar Musa monastic community, were lost in Rakka, the then Syrian stronghold of ISIS. <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 15:11:09 +0100AFRICA/ALGERIA - Archbishop of Algiers: "We are a Church dedicated to encounter and brotherhood" - "The Church of Algeria dates back to the 2nd century, with its martyrs and Saint Augustine. It is a church that lives with and for its mostly Muslim fellow men. In the footsteps of Archbishop Henri Teissier, it will continue to be a Church of encounter, at the service of brotherhood with and for all. As I wrote in our diocesan magazine, "Rencontres", December 8th was the day on which our brother Henri's body returned to the land he loved and served, a great sign of brotherhood in the sky of Oran almost exactly two years after the beatification of our nineteen martyrs", said Mgr. Paul Desfarges, Archbishop of Algiers, in an interview with Agenzia Fides about the Church in Algeria, the death of Archbishop Henri Teissier and the celebration of the second anniversary of the beatification of the 19 martyrs of Algeria . This is how the Archbishop recalls Mgr. Teissier: "He was a brother to me. He opened and paved a way and we will continue down the same path. Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco described him in the newspaper "La Croix" as "the twentieth blessed". He could have been with the other 19 during the wave of violence that devastated Algeria and killed them. But he was allowed to continue to accompany his church through the difficulties and help her to remain firm in the faith, in the sign of forgiveness and peace, connected with the people with whom she had a terrible fate. Days full of emotions showed the brotherhood that connects the two Mediterranean coasts from Lyon to Algiers via Marseille. In these moments everyone could hear and experience the happiness of the Beatitudes. The kingdom of a brotherhood was felt that transcends any culture and religion and is really universal". <br />Well-rooted and completely turned into the "Church of Algeria" and not the "Church in Algeria" as Archbishop Teissier liked to put it, the Christian community lives together with the people, including the difficult time of the pandemic and the long absence of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was hospitalized in a hospital in Germany. "We are a city church at the service of the society that it loves", said the Archbishop, "Christians, like all citizens, are experiencing a situation in which the pandemic continues despite all the restrictions on health protection. The country remains closed to International flights and only domestic flights have resumed so far. Public transport, especially between districts, remains limited. The economic crisis is making itself felt and the number of families in need is increasing. Our relief organizations are doing their best with their limited resources to distribute food and provide assistance whenever possible. "The Church of Algeria, numerically a small presence, remains a very significant reality in the country. His testimony and the proclamation are now a permanently recognizable sign and are at the service of dialogue and peaceful coexistence. Archbishop Desfarges concludes: "On December 8 of last year, Mary, full of grace, welcomed us in the Basilica dedicated to her, Notre-Dame d'Afrique, in Algiers. Archbishop Teissier now rests there next to Cardinal Duval. The Blessed Virgin will be there with our brother Henri , Cardinal Duval, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, our blessed martyrs of Algeria and all the saints welcome everyone who entrusts her every day with their joys, but especially those who come to her with their sorrows and sufferings. Mary leads our Church and she is the Mother of all her children, Christians, Muslims, seekers of meaning, her children of the interior search. She helps them recognize and love each other as brothers and sisters". <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 14:20:11 +0100NEWS ANALYSIS - For a "new economy": tax havens must be abolished - "The abolition of tax havens is an absolute priority as they are an inequality tool that the weakest countries always pay for. In 2013, the Credit Suisse bank released a chart known as the 'Pyramid of Inequality', showing that 91.7 % of the world's population only had access to 17% of the wealth this year, while 0.7% of the population reached 41%. This picture, which already seems pretty merciless, has actually become an almost benevolent representation, because from 2013 until today Inequality between rich and poor, between those who do not pay taxes and those who are harassed is actually widening. It is therefore clear how necessary a fiscal pact is: it would redistribute wealth and create a system of putting money back into circulation. We always hear that there is a lack of resources, but the reality is that there is an estimated $ 21,000 to $ 36,000 billion hidden in tax havens. A solid fiscal policy based on progressive taxation would make it possible to put all this wealth back into circulation and use it for the production of common goods".This is what Nicoletta Dentico, expert in international cooperation and global health explains to Agenzia Fides, offering a reflection on the strategies and meaures to be taken to build the "new economy" promoted by the "The Economy of Francesco" initiative. [ - continues]<br /><br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Continue to read News analysis on Omnis Terra website</a>Sat, 16 Jan 2021 13:56:25 +0100AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Church media work in times of Covid - The first ordinary session of the Episcopal Social Media Commission of 2021 met in Yamoussoukro from January 11th to 14th. About a dozen communication officers from the dioceses and employees of the local church media emphasized the negative effects of the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic on media work. The focus of the conference was the future of the two most important Catholic media, the Catholic radio station RNC, and television of the Catholic Church of the Ivory Coast, Ecclésia TV. "We discussed the management of our facilities since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic and asked ourselves: what have we achieved, what have we achieved so far, what alternatives have we found so that our radios, our televisions, our newspapers and magazines work?", said to Fides Fr. Augustin Obrou, National Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission for social media. Questions that, according to Fr. Obrou, were answered in the innovations brought about by a restructuring of the programs and editorial offices, as the media today must offer a new way to carry out their mission in times of pandemic and to be close to the faithful to maintain. For this reason, programs have been expanded above all, which enable dialogue with the faithful and listening, and programs with the transmission of masses and moments of prayer have been added. At the end of the meeting, the Chairman of the Episcopal Media Commission, Bishop Raymond Ahoua of Grand-Bassam, saidon January 14th: "I think everyone should preserve our identity and pursue specific goals. We are not in competition with other media and therefore we must remain calm". <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 13:35:30 +0100AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The Consolata Missionaries: "When we help people in need, we help Jesus himself" Aires - "We mainly work on the outskirts of large cities with many social problems. We strive to improve and promote human dignity through school education, health centers and vocational training institutions. It is important for us to sensitize the believers so that they are aware of the missionary mandate they received at baptism. We want to lead young people who have been called by God to join the Consolata missionaries", said the Tanzanian deputy superior general of the Consolata missionaries, Father Dietrich Pendawazima, about the activities of his confreres in Argentina. "What challenges do we have to face and where are we are sent? We have to preach Jesus where he is not yet known", says Fr. Dietrich. <br />"The missionary charism and the spirit of our founder, Blessed Giuseppe Allamano, induce us to get involved where our help is needed". "At the beginning of our presence in Argentina", says Father Pendawazima, "we asked ourselves the following question: How can we as missionaries make our contribution? Today we know the reality and after many consultations with one another and with the other missionaries of the diocese we felt that our presence here is important. The place most in need of a missionary presence was the slums. That is why we started our work among the poorest". "Let us try, as much as possible to adopt a simple, essential and sober lifestyle and thus be close to the people", points out Fr. Dietrich. <br />"Consecrated and lay people work together to proclaim the good news among the poorest. Prayer and exchange are at the heart of our mission, which is then also realized in concrete activities in which daily visits to the people have priority". "In recent years", he concludes, "we have come to understand how true and meaningful the words of Jesus are when he says that every time we help a poor person, it is Jesus himself that we are helping". <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Watch the video interview with Father Dietrich Pendawazima on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel</a>Sat, 16 Jan 2021 13:07:02 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - The need to shed light on the unpunished massacre in Panay: the request of civil society and religious organizations - Filipino civil society, together with church organizations, is calling for careful investigations into the massacre that took place in Tapaz in the province of Capiz, on the island of Panay, in the center of the vast archipelago, two days before the end of the year. On December 30, a military offensive against the local indigenous Tumandok community began, in which nine people died and about twenty were arrested. At the moment, the reasons for the massacre and who were responsible are not yet known, and the internal investigations initiated by the military authorities are considered insufficient. According to the victims' families, the nine unarmed civilians were tortured before they died. Police officers who escorted the military operation claim that they were members of the New People's Army who opened fire on the agents, which the victims' families deny. The massacre is connected to the resistance and protests against the controversial project of the huge Jalaur dam, which aims to provide water for large-scale irrigation and produce electricity. The second phase of the project, which cost over 11 billion pesos , began in 2019. <br />There were expressions of solidarity with the families concerned on the island, but also in Europe, where the organization of Filipinos living abroad, "Promotion of the Chruch People Response" , launched an initiative of solidarity with the Tumandok families in the past few days and drew attention to the incident, with investigations into the dynamics of the event and the initiation of "civil" legal proceedings. "The prerequisite for this would be", said the Camillian Father Aris Miranda to Fides, "to get to the scene of the crime, which was immediately cordoned off". The action in Panay is not the only episode of violence against indigenous peoples: "There is not only the problem of the dam", explains Father Miranda, "but land from indigenous peoples is repeatedly confiscated because Panay is rich in natural resources and arable land, which is why both Filipino and foreign investors have tried time and again to get hold of the land". The Tumandoks are a local people of about 95 thousand members who are very attached to their land and traditions and were among the first to oppose the Spanish conquest and still among the first to fight against the lobbies supported by the dictator Ferdinando Marcos. <br />Panay is in fact an island where large estates reign and is fertile soil for sugar cane. It has always been a place that whets great appetites but also has a long history of local resistance to external intruders". Shortly before the massacre in Capiz, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, whose diocese, which includes part of this territory, recalled the recent episodes of violence on the island in his Christmas message, stressing that "peace is non-negotiable". "We urge our local government not to become a political hostage to these oppressive policies. Christmas must inspire and encourage us to promote a peaceful city, a peaceful island and a peaceful country free from senseless attacks", said the bishop. <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 12:50:29 +0100AFRICA/TOGO - Missionary at the beginning of the year: "People hope for a better 2021"è - The year that has just ended was not easy for Togo. "The effects could also be felt in Kolowaré, where the armed soldiers were patrolling and their presence was palpable", Father Silvano Galli, priest of the Society for African Missions, told Agenzia Fides. "Various sectors of society challenged the election at the beginning of the year, when President Faure Gnassingbé was confirmed at the head of the country , then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to the political crisis in a way silenced. The people here in Kolowaré are mainly concerned with how to survive". Now, said the missionary, the Togolese Christians hope that this new year that has just begun will open the window of hope and want to pray and take action for it. "It is hoped that the political stalemate will turn into a dialogue between the protagonists and that the Togolese will stop striving only for material things and turn more to the sharing of goods and serenity, listening to one another and feeling more empathy for a more human society", said the missionary". <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 12:31:52 +0100AMERICA/HAITI - Jesuit report on the state of the country: "The crisis is the result of human action and there are ways out" au Prince - To mark the anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, the Jesuits working in Haiti published a report on the situation in the tortured country and pointed out ways out of the crisis. <br />"The profound crisis that Haitian society has been going through for several decades has now reached unimaginable dimensions today", the report says. "There is apparently total chaos ... and there seems to be no way out on the horizon. Uncertainty and suffering unfortunately make many hope less. Our nation is slowly collapsing and with it our institutions and the fundamental values on which our collective existence is based. This sad situation challenges us as men and women, Christians and non-Christians and even more so as Jesuits. This cry of the apostle Paul now resounds more than ever in our minds and hearts and urges us to action: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel ". That is why the Jesuits also show ways out of the crisis in the report and recall in this context the year 1804 and the independence movement: "The tragedy that we are experiencing is the result of human action, so a way out of the crisis and a better future can be made possible through the active action of the sons and daughters of our country. We urge key players, both national and international, to take appropriate decisions, with full respect for fundamental democratic principles, to help save this country. We urge the living forces of the Nation to rise in this historic crossroads of our country and repeat the gesture of 1804 and initiate a rebirth that will restore hope and dignity to our people. We urge the brave and resilient people of Haiti, the proud people even in the midst of adversity, to continue their faith, to remember their rich culture and unique history and to find new reasons for hope and courage needed to realize their dream of a new Haiti". The report sent to Fides is signed by all the Jesuits who work in Haiti. <br />Sat, 16 Jan 2021 12:23:09 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - The statue of the Virgin Mary placed on the tower of the Catholic Church in Qaraqosh - When Pope Francis visits the city of Qaraqosh as part of his visit to Iraq, he will also see the large statue of Mary on the bell tower of the church in the sanctuary "al Tahira" . From the tower of the church, the statue of Mary has recently towered over the profile of the city on the Nineveh plain, which is part of the papal visit planned for March 5 to 8, 2021. The placement of the statue, which took place on Monday January 11th, is of great symbolic importance and a sign of the rebirth of the Iraqi city in northern Mosul, once inhabited by a large majority of Syrian Catholic Christians and from 2014 to 2016 was under the rule of the self-proclaimed jihadists Islamic State . The complex of the sanctuary of al Tahira with its two churches - one from the 13th century and the new one from the first half of the 20th century - is the most famous place of worship in the city. Also for this reason, the jihadist militiamen of the IS transformed the sanctuary into a military garrison between 2014 and 2016 and also used it as a shooting range and arsenal. During and after the jihadist occupation, the church was looted and devastated. The restoration, which began some time ago, has now symbolically ended with the placement of the statue of the Virgin on the tower of the sanctuary. The Daesh jihadists, conquered the state of Karakosh from Mosul on the night of August 6th, 2014 and forced tens of thousands of Christian residents of the city to flee. Most of the Christians who fled Qarakosh have found refuge in the Erbil region and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan. The liberation of Qaraqush from the jihadist militias took place in October 2016. Since then, the initiatives and appeals aimed at favoring the return of the Christians of Qaraqosh to their homes have not yet achieved the desired results. <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 14:21:12 +0100AFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Completely destroyed the Nangololo mission, occupied by the insurgents in October - "Everything has been destroyed ...", said the Brazilian missionary Father Edegard Silva, about the damage in the Nangololo Mission in the Muidumbe district in the Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique, which was attacked, occupied and devastated by armed groups. "On October 30th, the terrorists returned to occupy the Muidumbe district, where our mission is located", the missionary said. "The entire population has fled into the bush. We took refuge in Pemba". During this period, the entire area remained under the control of the insurgents until they left the Catholic mission on November 19th. Only then it was possible to verify what had happened. Fr Silva writes that "everything has been destroyed. The house in which we lived was burned to ashes ... the entire equipment was burned, the parish seat destroyed, the community radio set on fire, the nuns' house destroyed". As a result of the violence of the insurgents and the massacres they have committed against civilians, the indigenous population is also suffering. "Many bodies were found on the way and the places of the massacres uncovered. The terrorists' actions are violent, several people were beheaded and executed, houses burned down and destroyed", reports Fr. Silva. "People cannot find their families. There is talk of many massacres and at least 500,000 displaced". The humanitarian situation is aggravated by a cholera epidemic and Covid-19. <br />Fr Silva asks for "international solidarity" in the face of this scenario of war and destruction, in order to provide 500 thousand people food, medicine, water, tents, tarpaulins. The insurgents who sow death and destruction in northern Mozambique call themselves "Al Shabaab" and have been affiliated with the Islamic State since 2019. They reject the existing secular society and want to found a society that is subject to Islamic Sharia law. They also want to establish a caliphate; the Islamic State therefore also speaks of Mozambique and Congo as the province of ISIS in central Africa. But the insurgents are also considering a Swahili caliphate to be established in East Africa in Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya. <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 14:06:18 +0100ASIA/INDIA - Detained for 100 days: international initiative calls for the release of 83-year-old Jesuit father Stan Swamy - Today, January 15, 2021, the 83-year-old Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, who has been imprisoned in Taloja Prison in Mumbai since October 8 for alleged sedition, has been detained for a total of 100 days. "His arrest will go down in the annals of India's dark history as one of the state's most brutal crimes in the state. The Jesuit priest, Father Stan dedicated 35 years of his life to working for the dignity and development of the Adivasi in Jharkhands. It is sad to see that he was not rewarded for it, but punished and imprisoned", reads a note sent to Agenzia Fides by his Jesuit brother, Fr. Cedric Prakash, one of the promoters of an awareness and protest initiative. As reported to Fides, the Indian Jesuits, along over one hundred civil society groups in India, jointly organized a solidarity initiative with Father Stan, demanding the immediate release of the Jesuit and that of 15 other activists arrested along with the religious. "The Maharashtra police force and the National Investigation Agency , the anti-terrorism task force, have tried to suppress the democratic voices of dissent through false accusations and persecution and to silence human rights defenders", the statement said. <br />Prosecutors claim that all 16 people, including Father Stan, worked with the illegal Maoist party that seeks to overthrow the state's elected government. Participants in an international initiative are calling for justice for Father Stan Swamy and the other 15 arrested persons and their immediate release, as well as the abolition of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act , on the basis of which many activists are in prison. The awareness-raising campaign, carried out mainly online and through social media events, will continue until January 26, 2021, Republic Day, "as part of our joint campaign to emphasize the values enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution". The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Mary Lawlor, who will take part live from Geneva in the online event organized in India, also supports Father Stan. Others present online include Professor Virgina Xaxa, a social scientist and Dorothy Fernandes of the Forum for Justice and Peace, among many others. The well-known Indian dancer from Darpana, Mallika Sarabhai, will perform and speak in the spirit of solidarity with Father Stan. Similarly, ethnic Santhali dancers will perform a so-called "lament dance". <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 13:45:59 +0100AMERICA/CHILE - "Christ Migrant of the World": a year of help and support for migrants in the Archdiocese of La Serena Serena - In 2020, the Chilean Caritas launched various initiatives for the benefit of the most affected population groups. One of these programs, aimed at providing legal advice and humanitarian aid to migrants residing in the area, was realized thanks to the "Christ Migrant of the World" project, financed with donations from the Campaign for Lent 2019. The project was carried out in various parishes of the Archdiocese where there are communities of migrants who have had to overcome many difficulties, including the consequences of the social crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. The project was developed for a period of twelve months in 2020 and ended on January 12th in the parish "Cristo Risorto" in Tierras Blancas, which is home to a particularly large number of migrants from different countries: Haiti, Venezuela , Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, among others. Natalia Villalobos, who is responsible for the implementation of the project, explained that the project was carried out in communities across the region, such as Coquimbo, Las Compañías, La Serena, Rivadavia, Vicuña and the rural areas of Limarí. Unfortunately, many of the planned activities have been changed due to the pandemic. "What was possible without any problems - said Natalia Villalobos - was to ensure social, pastoral and legal support and to advise people on issues related to visas, temporary and permanent residences and to give them access to the services provided by the state. Many of these people live in precarious circumstances and up to 10 families can live together in one house, for whom we provide basic services. We concentrate on solving urgent problems. "Patricio Alegre, Director of the Social Pastoral Care - Caritas La Serena, stressed the importance of continuing to work together. "The team in charge of the project has been of great help among the immigrant brothers and sisters who are in trouble. It is not easy to arrive in an unknown place and the Church recognizes the need to accompany these people. Through this project, we have reached numerous migrants from different communities located in the territory of La Serena - Coquimbo, in the valley of Elqui and Limarí. This year we will continue to work with migrants. We therefore ask everyone to continue to support the fundraising campaign for next Lent, which will enable us to help those affected". <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 13:34:58 +0100ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Bishops call for a fair vaccination campaign taking into account ethical principles - In a joint Pastoral Letter, the Philippine bishops call on the country's government to ensure that the anti-Covid-19 vaccination is equally available to all citizens, but also to choose a vaccine made according to an ethical criterion. "After nearly a year of the pandemic - both in terms of lives lost and the devastated economic impact – we must thank God because scientists have developed vaccines to immunize people against Covid". <br />In the document sent to Agenzia Fides, signed by Archbishop Ricardo L. Baccay of Tuguegarao, President of the Bioethics Office within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines , the Bishops affirm their support for the government's efforts in the vaccination campaign and thank the private organizations that have volunteered to support the manufacture and procurement of the vaccine. "We urge our government and private organizations that have helped fund vaccine procurement to commit to a vaccine distribution plan that prioritizes doctors who are on the front lines and those who are most at risk. It would be a tragedy if young and healthy employees at low risk companies were vaccinated before our doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are on the front lines or before senior citizens at higher risk of the disease", the Pastoral Letter said. The bishops, meanwhile, appreciate the government's efforts to ensure access to the vaccination program, especially for the poor: "The poor are loved by the Lord. They should be given special protection because their poverty makes them vulnerable to infection and serious illness. The vaccination campaign can only end the pandemic in our country if enough Filipino citizens are vaccinated. We therefore urge the whole population to be ready to be vaccinated as soon as the vaccines are available". "We recognize that every person should be free to choose whether or not to vaccinate according to their conscience", said the prelates, "but everyone should be aware of their obligation to protect themselves and others from infection and to protect themselves against the further spread of the virus". The bishops also draw attention to an ethical issue: "We learned that some of the vaccines against Covid-19 were made from cells taken from the remains of an aborted fetus that was killed in 1973. It must be repeated: deliberate abortion even if it is done in order to obtain necessary material for vaccines, it is morally unacceptable. The end does not justify the means; otherwise, the most inhuman and terrible acts could be justified with supposedly useful ends". For this reason, the Bishops are calling on the government to give priority to vaccines that have been developed without the use of embryonic cells. In conclusion, the Bishops thanked scientists who have made their experience available for the welfare of the people and their protection against disease: "We know that the study and the work that precedes the manufacture of a vaccine are arduous" and we appreciate the work of Healthcare workers and all "who have given their service with dedication in these terrible months that have passed". The Philippines has purchased 25 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. As reported by the authorities, the first 50,000 doses are expected to be available in February, kicking off the massive national vaccination campaign. <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 13:17:49 +0100AFRICA/ETHIOPIA - Bishop Medhin's appeal for an urgent response to the humanitarian crisis in Tigray - The war in the Ethiopian region of Tigray continues. In addition to the Axum massacre of 750 people, people who had been hiding in the church where the Ark of the Covenant is kept since December 15, there is fighting everywhere, border tensions with Sudan, the massacre of refugees in the Hitsats camp, and the invasion of locusts in the south. In this context of precariousness, the Bishop of the Catholic Eparchy of Adigrat, Mgr.Tesfaselassie Medhin, renewed his appeal for an immediate response to the catastrophic humanitarian situation that rages in the Tigray region due to the conflict that started on November 4, 2020. "The population, including Eritrean refugees - writes Bishop Medhin in his appeal sent to Agenzia Fides - has run out of food, life-saving medicines, water, etc. They do not have access to essential services such as electricity, banks, telephone/ internet connection, transport and health services to help family members" . <br />"Every day we hear news of people dying from armed clashes, lack of food, insulin and other basic medicines. Millions of people, mostly women and children, have had to evacuate in search of a safe place to find refuge. To escape the bombing and air raids, these poor victims have fled to the mountains and valleys of the Tigray without food or water. It is urgent and necessary – the bishop repeats emphatically - to respond to this humanitarian emergency in order to save millions of lives. There are also many displaced people who have left the western region of Tigray to find refuge in Sudan". Mgr. Medhin concludes his appeal by urging all interested organizations to coordinate and make all the necessary efforts to respond to the pressing humanitarian need of millions of people in the country, thanking them for their understanding. "The Catholic Church in Ethiopia, in its branches of the Catholic Diocesan Secretariat of Adigrat, including all the Congregations that work in the Diocese - writes Abune Medhin - is ready to work with national and international partners and benefactors to respond as soon as possible to this humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Tigray". <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 12:19:26 +0100AMERICA/PERU - Radio receivers for schoolchildren from rural and indigenous communities to continue their education during the pandemic - To enable children and young people from rural and indigenous communities in the provinces of Maynas and Loreto-Nauta to continue attending classes even in isolation due to the pandemic, the Apostolic Vicariate of Iquitos has promoted an initiative to facilitate the access to distance education provided by the Ministry of Public Education through the “Aprendo en Casa” program and by the Loreto Regional Direction of Education through the “Aprendiendo con musica Manguaré” program. <br />Loreto was one of the first regions to be hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and where containment measures have been the most drastic, leaving thousands of schoolchildren who live in remote areas isolated and whose homes do not have the ability to access the Internet, television or radio. Added to this is the announcement made by the Peruvian state, which has extended the possibility of continuing distance education until July 2021. In this context, the Church of Iquitos is currently carrying out the renewal and expansion of the radio station of the Apostolic Vicariate called “La Voz de la selva” with the aim of facilitating the virtual dissemination of the orientation material for the 'Aprendo en Home' and 'Aprendiendo con musica Manguaré' programs for teachers, parents and students from the most remote communities in the region. <br />In addition, thanks to donations, some 2,500 radio receivers are produced which will be distributed before the start of this year's lessons to families who do not have sufficient financial resources to buy a radio or a television, not to mention that in the worst case scenario they do not even have access to electricity. The goal is to distribute 7,000 such devices before the start of the school year. "Radio receivers will be eco-friendly. In other words they will be made with recyclable material. They will have built-in solar panels and rechargeable batteries which will significantly improve their use. They will not depend on batteries and will be economical and will not contribute to polluting the lands and waters of the Amazonian rivers", explained Mgr. Miguel Fuertes, Diocesan Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Iquitos. The campaign also aims to train 200 teachers, providing them with technical assistance, so that they are able to support families and students. <br />According to the information provided by the Regional Direction of Education of Loreto, only 52% of the school population of the region has access to distance education services according to its various modalities. The situation has worsened over the past year, with the arrival of the pandemic in this part of the Peruvian Amazon: the economic crisis has been added to the health crisis due to the paralysis of various activities as a result of the quarantine. <br />Fri, 15 Jan 2021 11:09:46 +0100ASIA/INDONESIA - Christians support and promote the anti Covid-19 vaccination campaign - Christians in Indonesia support the national Covid-19 vaccination campaign. After the first injection of the vaccine organized live on TV for the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, the first person in the country to be vaccinated, the national vaccination campaign has started and Christians have made a contribution to raising awareness so that it is as widespread as possible. The president also pointed out that the Chinese-made Sinovac anti-Covid-19 vaccine has received permission to be used by the National Agency of Drug and Food Control and is also certified "halal" by the Indonesian Ulema Council , Muslim body. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia has publicly approved the Covid-19 vaccination. Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, Executive Secretary of the Interreligious Commission of Catholic Bishops, was the first Catholic representative to receive, along with public officials and civilian leaders, the first dose of the vaccine. Speaking with Fides, Fr. Wibowo, a priest of the Archdiocese of Jakarta, explains that "protecting health is a good path to prosperity. My participation in the first round of public vaccinations in the State Palace aims to promote health in society". "Indonesian Bishops support vaccination as a fundamental part of the nation's fight to safeguard public health. If all Indonesian citizens are healthy, it means that the nation carries out its mission to ensure national prosperity", says the priest. "I really hope that this vaccine generates a good result for the Indonesian people. I thank the Indonesian administration for their commitment", he added, recalling that it remains everyone's responsibility to follow the anti-virus protocols at all times. The Bishops' Conference has publicly distributed this notice to all the dioceses, inviting them to be an active part in this mobilization campaign. As Fides learned, the the Indonesian Association of Churches, an ecumenical body, has asked the Indonesian churches to support the implementation of vaccination. "Responding to efforts to address Covid-19 through the government's procurement of vaccines and vaccination plans, the Association of Churches in Indonesia appeals to affiliated Churches to provide optimal support for its implementation", writes the leader of the Association, Protestant Pastor Gomar Gultom, in a statement sent to Fides. <br />Christian Churches have also called on the government to improve the information process on the virus and the vaccination campaign, especially for communities in remote areas, through various media. The Christian communities in Indonesia can play a valuable role in this situation by coordinating with the government: "A public education plan on vaccines, their implementation and the effectiveness of vaccination is envisaged. All Churches are recommended to coordinate with the responsible technical bodies in their respective areas", the note reads. "I really appreciate the government's efforts to overcome this pandemic. I have waited a long time for this vaccine to arrive, especially for healthcare professionals like me. With the vaccine we feel safer, so that we can better serve the community", says Dr Suka Adyana, a surgeon in Denpasar on the island of Bali. Lusy Noviani, a Catholic pharmacist at Atma Jaya Catholic hospital, has also received the anti-Covid-19 dose in the first national vaccination. <br />Thu, 14 Jan 2021 13:27:31 +0100AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Precarious calm in Bangui after the failure of the rebel offensive - The rebel offensive against the Central African capital Bangui has been repelled . "The attack was repelled by the UN peacekeepers, together with the Central African armed forces", said the spokesman for the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic , who "deplores the loss of a Rwandan peacekeeper". The assault by the rebels of the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement was carried out simultaneously 9 and 12 kilometers from the center of the capital, at dawn, against the units of the regular army. The attack was repulsed by the military with the help of MINUSCA Blue Helmets, reinforced by elements of the Rwandan special forces and perhaps Russian military advisers. In addition to the Rwandan soldier, the death toll is 30 rebels killed and 5 captured, according to sources from the government of Bangui. Insecurity in the country prevented three bishops from reaching the capital to participate in the Plenary Assembly of the Central African Bishops' Conference which is being held from January 9 to 18 because of the threat against the population of their respective Dioceses because of the presence of rebels. They are His Exc. Mgr. Juan-José Aguirre Muñoz, Bishop of Bangassou, Mgr. Mirosław Gucwa, Bishop of Bouar, and Mgr. Guerrino Perin, Bishop of Mbaiki. We recall that the city of Bangassou, in the south-east, fell under rebel control on Sunday 3 January while Bouar, in the west, suffered a violent assault on 9 January, repulsed by the army. During the attack hundreds of people took refuge in St. Laurent, St. Elie convents as well as in the Cathedral of Fatima . <br />On 19 December 2020, eight days before the presidential and legislative elections on 27 December, a coalition of six of the most powerful armed groups , which have occupied two-thirds of the Central African Republic since the start of the civil war, eight years ago, announced an offensive intended to prevent the re-election of outgoing President Fuastin Touadéra. The latter was proclaimed the winner in the first round on 4 January. Since then, the rebels have intensified their offensive against the country's main urban centers The violence has pushed more than 30,000 people to flee to neighboring countries, also causing tens of thousands of internally displaced people, according to the United Nations. <br />Thu, 14 Jan 2021 13:14:45 +0100EUROPE/SPAIN - Missionary Childhood Day: "The Church plays the role of mother, father and family for many children in the world" - "We want to make the Spaniards, especially children, aware that we live in a large family and we cannot be indifferent to the needs of others because we are far away", said Fr. José María Calderón, National Director of the Pontifical Missionary Societies presenting the Missionary Childhood Day, which is celebrated in Spain on Sunday 17 January, with the motto "With Jesus in Nazareth, we are family!". "The Church plays the role of mother, father and family for many children in the world", explains Fr. Calderón in the note sent to Fides. He himself has been a direct witness of this reality in his missionary experiences: "We tell children that they are a value, that they are worthy of being loved". This action is supported by the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood, which represents the annual support that the Holy Father offers to the action that missionaries carry out with childhood, adolescence and motherhood. Proof of this is the diocese of Yendi, in Ghana, which is the protagonist of the communication campaign for this Day. It is a rural and underdeveloped area in the south of the African country, where superstitious traditions are the order of the day. "When a child is born with a physical defect, they think that it is a child with an evil spirit, and they have to get rid of the children, but we say that this cannot be done", says Bishop Vincent Sowa of Yendi. That is why the diocese supports the house of Nazareth, run by Sister Therese Stan. But the Church's action is not limited only to these children, it also comes to the aid of the malnourished, street children, and those most in need, creating schools and hospitals to serve them. <br />"There are children who are very intelligent, but no one helps them", said the Archbishop. This diocese is one of the 1,115 mission territories that each year receive the support of the Holy Father through Missionary Childhood. "We cannot do all this without the help of the Pontifical Mission Societies. The help we have received in recent years has been to support orphanages and promote childcare, and for this we thank everyone for their help", concluded the Bishop. Sister Therese Stan welcomes more than 80 children from the area in the Yendi House of Nazareth, founded in 2009. These children have a wide variety of disabilities: malformations, blindness, Down syndrome, syphilis ... "All these children have been accused of witchcraft and have been thrown out of their communities and their families, they have also received death threats", explains Sister Stan. The house rescues these children and takes full responsibility for them, as happened to Sarah, a 4-year-old girl who was sentenced to death for not being able to speak and now she has learned to speak and is happy at the House of Nazareth. The list is endless. Sister Therese claims that she finds strength and meaning in what she does in faith, and even Muslims in the area recognize in her work the work of God. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">For further information</a>Thu, 14 Jan 2021 13:05:21 +0100ASIA/IRAQ - Prayer for Pope Francis’ visit to be recited on every Sunday Mass - From next Sunday, January 17, the Chaldeans are invited to recite together a prayer composed by Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako in order to ask the Almighty Lord to make possible the announced visit of Pope Francis to the land of the two rivers. The prayer, the text of which was disseminated by the official channels of the Chaldean Patriarchate, is as follows: <br />"Lord our God, grant Pope Francis health and safety to carry out successfully this eagerly awaited visit. Bless his effort to promote dialogue, enhance fraternal reconciliation, build confidence, consolidate peace values and human dignity, especially for us Iraqis who have been through painful “events” that affected our lives. Lord, our Creator, enlighten our hearts with Your light, to recognize goodness and peace, and to realize them. Mother Mary, we entrust Pope Francis’ visit to your maternal care so that the Lord may grant us the grace of living in a complete national communion, and cooperate fraternally to build a better future for our country and our citizens. Amen". <br />Pope Francis' trip to Iraq, at the invitation of the civil authorities and the local Catholic Church, was officially announced and should take place from 5 to 8 March 2021. However, it is necessary to take into account that the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has already forced the postponement to a later date other apostolic visits that the Pope intended to carry out during the past year, such as that in Malta and Gozo, initially scheduled for May 31, 2020. <br />Thu, 14 Jan 2021 12:47:52 +0100ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Pastoral Letter for the new year: "Christ is faithful to his Church and offers great opportunities for grace, in the challenge of the pandemic" - "2020 brought with it unprecedented challenges: many people fell ill, others continue to face serious economic difficulties. Our country went through political and social upheavals. For many, the worst part of this period was having to coexist with great uncertainty about the future. Some may have started to waver in hope or to be challenged in their faith, wondering where God is and why He is allowing this to happen. The Church continues to seek light in times of darkness. Christ is always faithful and He alone has the last word in our life and in our world. We do not know what 2021 will bring us, but we believe that God will continue to be faithful to His Church and will help us take advantage of the difficulties of our daily life to allow us to draw closer to Him and to each other. God is Light". This is what the Jesuit Fr. Anthony Corcoran, Apostolic Administrator of Kyrgyzstan affirmed, in the pastoral letter issued on the occasion of the New Year 2021, sent to Agenzia Fides. In his message, the Jesuit underlined the presence of the Church alongside the faithful during the most difficult moments of the pandemic: "We have all witnessed extraordinary acts of charity and kindness. The Church has managed to provide assistance to many people in need, not just Christians but also of other faiths. There have been opportunities for knowledge and collaboration born in the midst of the pandemic. Our communities were able to guarantee certain hospitals the supply of necessary instruments. The Children's Rehabilitation Center in Issyk-Kul has been made available to doctors, nurses and volunteers who generously served the sick during this period of the epidemic. As a Catholic community, we have managed to 'come together' virtually every day. Christ offers His Church great opportunities of grace during critical periods and last year witnessed His fidelity to us, His little Church in Kyrgyzstan". The letter was delivered to the faithful by Father Remigiusz Kalski, parish priest of the church of St. Michael the Archangel in Bishkek, on the occasion of the solemn Christmas Mass. As reported to Fides, the celebration was attended by faithful of different ages and nationalities: "The local community and the many brothers and sisters from other countries, gathered around the altar of the Lord, underlined the universality of the Church". At the end of the celebration, a moment of fraternity was held, with the exchange of gifts and the sharing of "Christmas bread", according to the tradition of some ethnic groups present in Kyrgyzstan, including the Slovaks, Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians and Ukrainians. In Kyrgyzstan there are currently three parishes in the towns of Bishkek, Jalal-Abad and Talas, but many small communities are present in the rural areas of the country. Local Catholics can count on the spiritual assistance of seven priests, a religious and five Franciscan nuns. In 1997, Pope John Paul II established the Mission sui iuris, as happened for the neighboring states of Central Asia. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the ecclesiastical circumscription to the rank of Apostolic Administration. In addition to a Muslim majority, 7% of the population is of Christian faith, of which 3% are Orthodox. Jews, Buddhists and other small minorities make up about 3% of the population. <br />Thu, 14 Jan 2021 12:32:25 +0100