Fides News - Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAMERICA/VENEZUELA - Catholic bishops address political and humanitarian crisis which: “ threatens the very essence of our free, fraternal and democratic nation”http://www.fides.org/en/news/64080-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Catholic_bishops_address_political_and_humanitarian_crisis_which_threatens_the_very_essence_of_our_free_fraternal_and_democratic_nationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64080-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_Catholic_bishops_address_political_and_humanitarian_crisis_which_threatens_the_very_essence_of_our_free_fraternal_and_democratic_nationCaracas – Yesterday the Catholic Bishops Conference of Venezuela issued a statement focussed on " the month long political and humanitarian crisis" in this country: " such major humanitarian challenges, delegitimize the realisation of the presidential elections scheduled for 20 May" it is "urgent to postpone them to the final three months of this year.”<br />The Bishops recall in the statement sent to Fides, that since January this year "hyperinflation has aggravated the impoverishment of the people, and reduced the quality of life in the country. The widespread lack of public services all over the country renders life very difficult". And this, the Bishops add, "in the face of the surprising indifference on the part of government officials towards solving these difficulties ". "In addition there is an increase in sicknesses due to the uncontrolled appearance of epidemics and disease among the people most vulnerable" the text continues underlining the scarcity of medicines in Venezuela. The Bishops also call attention to the question of emigration “which increases every day, affecting all social levels with conditions ever more precarious".<br />For this reason the Bishops address a pressing appeal "to the governors and leaders of the nation to realise their responsibility regarding these evils, to listen to the people and address the difficulties without delay... to facilitate the search for political solutions to stop these ills before they reach uncontrollable and painful levels of destruction and death".<br />The Bishops also remind all Venezuelans of the necessity to "realise that at stake at this moment lie not only the realisation of the elections, or the transitory lowering of the quality of life of a nation, but its very existence as a nation free, fraternal and democratic”. Lastly the Bishops recall that "with the force of the faith and the impulse of hope it is possible to assume courageous and determined attitudes of solidarity and steer the country away from this story of death ". (Agenzia Fides 24/04/2018<br /><br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 17:36:41 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Consecrated Life: “essential part of Catholic church presence in the Amazon””http://www.fides.org/en/news/64078-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Consecrated_Life_essential_part_of_Catholic_church_presence_in_the_Amazonhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64078-AMERICA_BRAZIL_Consecrated_Life_essential_part_of_Catholic_church_presence_in_the_AmazonTabatinga – “The Amazon is an area where religious life in Latin America finds an important place for its missionary vocation” Fides was told by Sr. Luz Marina Valencia, of the St Teresa of Jesus Sisters, executive secretary of the Conference of men and women Religious of Latin America and the Caribbean . At Tabatinga, a town in the western part of the state of Amazonas, in Brazil, a five day meeting for Religious Congregations with programmes for the Amazon closes today 24 April. Some ninety participants, including men and women religious, and representatives of diocesan priests and laity working as missionaries in various parts of the Amazon, reflected in these five days on the theme "Pan-Amazon missionary work in the prospect of Integral Ecology ".<br />The meeting, organised by CLAR and the Catholic pan-Amazon network , was held at a strategic venue, because this Brazilian city of Tabatinga, has borders with Peru and Colombia<br />“Many religious congregations see Amazonia as a special challenge, the CLAR secretary continues. To be in Amazonia means to respond to the charisma of the different congregations, "because almost all our Founders formed congregations to meet the urgent needs of the local Church here, and in our day Amazonia is a challenge not only for the Catholic Church but also for society, and the whole world because it demands attention also for the indigenous peoples " concludes Sr. Luz Marina.<br />The importance of religious life in Amazonia was underlined by Mauricio López, Secretary executive of REPAM, who told Fides that without it "the presence of the Liberator United programme in this situation would not be possible ". For López "if religious life were not present as it is in Amazonia, REPAM would not exist", adding that "certainly while the people in their way of life are expressions of Liberator United, the care offered by the Catholic Church here works mainly through Religious Life". In this sense, Lopez insists that "in the essential strength of this pan-amazon presence is Consecrated Life".<br />In fact CLAR and REPAM "enjoy strong synergy", Fides was told by the CLAR representative to REPAM, Marist Brother João Gutemberg,: "CLAR and REPAM are similar, being one in the other, both working for the connection of Religious Life in the Pan-Amazon area and this work is also a testimony of life ". It follows therefore that "the more institutional and personal mission are connected involving committed individuals searching for new paths, the more energy will go to the common good " concludes Gutemberg. <br /><br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 16:43:29 +0200ASIA/MYANMAR - - Alleviating malnutrition, child mortality and illiteracy: Good Shepherd sisters 40 years commitmenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64079-ASIA_MYANMAR_Alleviating_malnutrition_child_mortality_and_illiteracy_Good_Shepherd_sisters_40_years_commitmenthttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64079-ASIA_MYANMAR_Alleviating_malnutrition_child_mortality_and_illiteracy_Good_Shepherd_sisters_40_years_commitmentYangon – For more than 40 years the community of Good Shepherd Sisters have worked to eliminate malnutrition, infant mortality and difficulties connected with illiteracy in the village of Magyikwin, north of Yangon, in Myanmar. “This area was infamous for high consumption of alcohol and ensuing brawls. Today malnutrition, illiteracy and infant mortality are the main challenge ” Fides learned from Sr. Maria Goretti Lwin.<br />On their arrival the sisters built a small church and opened a school, providing also school meals and encouraging parents to bring children to school. Today some 160 pupils attend lessons in the morning followed by afternoon courses to integrate education provided in government schools. Sr Lwin tells Fides “the village has no electricity so we use solar energy and an old power generator. Better education opens the way to access to university and a dignified job” the sister says.<br />With a young training teacher the sisters work in a class of adolescents from Catholic, Baptist and Buddhist families. They are particular proud of the pupils’ musical abilities and plan a song contest for next Christmas in Yangon.<br />The Good Shepherd sisters have also stared several microcredit programmes, lending money to purchase animals breeding animals to sell at the local market. Moreover they started asking parents, each according to the family means, to make some contribution in money towards the children’s education to encourage a sort of self-funding and replace the idea receiving charity.<br />In another initiative the sisters give special attention to a group of young girls and one boy, coming from high risk families where children are particularly vulnerable to violence, abuse and human trafficking.<br />Under the watchful eye of the foundress of Good Shepherd congregation, Rose Virginie Pellettier, the sisters, pleased at their achievements in the village in these decades, continue the activity started almost two centuries ago: helping vulnerable woman and girls and also bringing dignity and hope to the entire community . <br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 15:36:42 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - New bishop of Dédougou appointedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64081-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_New_bishop_of_Dedougou_appointedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64081-AFRICA_BURKINA_FASO_New_bishop_of_Dedougou_appointedVatican City – The Holy Father Francis appointed today Bishop of Dédougou , reverend Prosper Bonaventure Ky, of the clergy of the same diocese, until now standing secretary of the African Clergy in Burkina Faso and director of the House for student priests in Ouagadougou.<br />The new bishop was born 10 January 1965 at Toma, Diocese of Dédougou. Ha completed his studies in Philosophy and Theology at Saint Jean-Baptiste major seminary at Wayalgê and at Saint Pierre Claver Major seminary in Koumi . He obtained a doctorate in Psychology in Rome, at the Pontifical Salesian University. He was ordained a priest 23 July 1994 for the diocese of Dédougou.<br />Since his ordination he has ministered as follows : 1994 to 1998: Professor at the Minor Seminary, in Nasso ; from 1999 to 2000: Vice parish priest at Dédougou Cathedral; 2000 to 2003: Docent and rector at the Minor Seminary in Tionkuy ; 2003 to 2010: studies in Rome for a doctorate at the Pontifical Salesian University; 2010 to 2012: Vice parish priest at Toma; since 2012: Permanent Secretary of the African Clergy in Burkina Faso and director of the House for student priests in Ouagadougou. <br /><br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:02:46 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - “A gesture of peace in a country torn apart by war” Bishop Kussala lays foundation stone for hospital in Nzarahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64077-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_A_gesture_of_peace_in_a_country_torn_apart_by_war_Bishop_Kussala_lays_foundation_stone_for_hospital_in_Nzarahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64077-AFRICA_SOUTH_SUDAN_A_gesture_of_peace_in_a_country_torn_apart_by_war_Bishop_Kussala_lays_foundation_stone_for_hospital_in_NzaraJuba - "The Church continues to integrate government efforts to supply essential help to people in need ", Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, of Tombura-Yambio , President of the Bishops’ Conference which includes Sudan and South Sudan<br />On 21 April Bishop Barani presided the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone for a health centre costing 2 million US dollars in his diocese which will include a surgical theatres, a maternity clinic and ward, a surgical war and a blood bank. The new structure will be built at the small town of Nzara, some 24 km north west of Yambio.<br />“Today’s ceremony marks the transition from planning to reality,” said Bishop Barani. ““Since I became a bishop nearly ten years ago I have always prayed and planned to provide efficient and effective health centre for the neediest in society. Despite the persisting negative impacts of the civil war in our country, today we are witnessing an active gesture of peace which is extremely opposed to war.”<br />Fighting broke out in South Sudan, in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his former vice president Riek Machar of attempting a coup, an accusation which Machar rejected.<br />" The laying of the foundation stone marks the start of the main construction works for the new full-fledged secondary Hospital ", said Bishop Barani who tanked the various partners who support the project financially.<br />" The project was initiated by the CDTY, the Comboni Sisters, CMMB, Edmond Rice Foundation, Sudan Relief Fund and many of our close friends,” Bishop Barani says.<br />I think this news can be useful since most time we only provide sad news from South Sudan,” Bishop Barani said. Regarding the site chosen the Bishop explains “The decision in favour of the chosen site was taken on the basis of a variety of criteria, such as the size of the site and its location, the interest of CDTY , the size of the site – and of the building to come – has been chosen in view to possible extensions,” Bishop Barani clarifies.”.<br />"From day one of this project I have had entrusted it to St. Theresa of the child Jesus, St. Josephine Bakhita, Titarani Gasi Abangite and now to the Risen Lord to provide a decent place of medication to our people,” says Bishop Barani, who concludes “St. Theresa Bakhita pray for us and may all who are engaged in this project be blessed and may we realize its completion with you, Our Risen Lord Amen!”. <br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:42:41 +0200OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - “Prayer is where heart speaks to heart”: Vatican secretary of state addresses religious men and women in Port Moresbyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64076-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Prayer_is_where_heart_speaks_to_heart_Vatican_secretary_of_state_addresses_religious_men_and_women_in_Port_Moresbyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64076-OCEANIA_PAPUA_NEW_GUINEA_Prayer_is_where_heart_speaks_to_heart_Vatican_secretary_of_state_addresses_religious_men_and_women_in_Port_MoresbyBoroko – “‘The first duty of the priest or religious is to pray regularly for the people entrusted to their care’. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope’s Francis’ secretary of state said this in an address to priests, religious sisters and brothers, and seminarians of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands gathered in the Catholic church of St Joseph in Boroko, Port Moresby. “Prayer arises from and strengthens our friendship with Jesus; it is the place where ‘heart speaks to heart’,” said Cardinal Parolin as he addressed the over two hundred religious that attended the Eucharistic celebration and the conference thereafter.<br />In a report to Fides on the event, Fr. Joseph Vnuk, rector of the Catholic Institute of Theology in Bomana, Port Moresby, underlined that the Vatican secretary of State recalled the prayerfulness, the fidelity and the joy as well as the dedication of the early missionaries and the death of several hundred of people connected with the Catholic Church during the war, in particular the first Papuan to be proclaimed Blessed, Peter ToRot.<br /><br />The Cardinal , who was in Papua for a meeting of FABC Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences which closed recently, encouraged the participants to be faithful the example of those courageous Christians and to avoid being influenced by the wantoksystem, for instance, ‘while very beautiful in the way it cares for those in need, could easily turn religious brothers or sisters away from the people they are meant to serve. “Fidelity to the mission, and fidelity to service, will prevent priests and religious from staying in their comfort zones and ignoring the people on the margins.”, the Cardinal added.<br />Fr. Joseph Vnuk told Fides that Joy was the third and final topic of cardinal Parolin’s talk where he noted that both Pope Francis' first encyclical - Evangelii Gaudium- The joy of the Gospel - and his most recent - Gaudete et Exsultate- Be glad and Exult - have joy as a theme. “There is only one sadness in the world - not to be holy”, said the Cardinal as he quoted a French author. <br />After his conference, a long question and answer session followed and Cardinal Parolin encouraged the congregation not to lose heart in a rapidly changing world. “There is no time unsuitable for living out one's baptismal calling. There is no time when it is not good to be a religious sister or brother”, said the Cardinal.<br />He also spoke of Pope Francis' new style of papacy and how this is being taken up by those who work in the Vatican. Finally, he encouraged priests and religious to take part in the work of reconciliation and bringing peace. <br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 12:00:51 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Bishops ask after yet another priest is assassinated : ' why have we lost respect for life?'http://www.fides.org/en/news/64075-AMERICA_MEXICO_Bishops_ask_after_yet_another_priest_is_assassinated_why_have_we_lost_respect_for_lifehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64075-AMERICA_MEXICO_Bishops_ask_after_yet_another_priest_is_assassinated_why_have_we_lost_respect_for_lifeGuadalajara – “We make an urgent appeal to build a culture of peace and reconciliation. These latest deplorable events call every one of us to profound and sincere conversion of heart. It is time to look honestly at our culture and our society and to ask ourselves: how did we lose respect for life and for the faith”. With these words Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara and President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Mexico , together with Bishop Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, auxiliary of Monterrey and CEM Secretary, express “deep pain, sadness and consternation” regarding the murder of yet another priest, Fr. Juan Miguel Contreras García of the archdiocese of Guadalajara. <br />In the evening of 20 April Fr. Juan Miguel Contreras García, aged 33, recently ordained a priest, was shot dead at the end the Holy Mass he had just celebrated in the parish of S. Pio da Pietrelcina in Tlajomulco, Jalisco state, having taken the place of another priest who recently received death threats. According to eyewitnesses, the commando broke into the church headed for the sacristy and shot the priest dead. <br />In the report to Fides, the Bishops of Mexico ask the Catholic faithful “to support our priests with prayers especially in pastoral service in the communities entrusted to them”, and the Bishops ask “those who despise and destroy life for any even trivial reason to open their hearts to the loving kindness of God, so they may lay down not only their weapons, but also resentment, revenge and all destructive sentiments ”. Lastly “we urge our competent authorities once again to undertake in-depth investigations to clarify the facts in conformity with justice to ensure that this and any crime in our country does not go unpunished”. <br /><br /><br /><br />Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:53:45 +0200NEWS ANALYSIS/OMNIS TERRA - Christians in Syriahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64069-NEWS_ANALYSIS_OMNIS_TERRA_Christians_in_Syriahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64069-NEWS_ANALYSIS_OMNIS_TERRA_Christians_in_SyriaMiddle East Christians are in serious danger. However to really understand this we must consider the context of the whole region. Sectarian division, the absence of authentic democracy, security, respect for civil rights and legality: these elements affect all the people in this unstable region where religious identity and political identity are inextricable from. Unemployment, despair, illegality, desperation, injustice and thirst for vengeance, are the real recruiters of terrorist groups rather than controversial phrases from the Koran. The more government institutions crumble, the more grow sectarianism, fear and hatred towards those who are different. The West must realise that its battle is against terrorism, not Islam. The solution for the life of Christians in the Middle East will be achieved only by working to stabilise the situation for all the different ethnic and religious groups in the fairest way possible. written by Luigi Ginami, San Paolo editions 2018) <br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="http://omnisterra.fides.org/articles/view/93#english">Continue to read News analysis-Omnis Terra</a>Sat, 21 Apr 2018 12:36:51 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - The first Christian chapel in a state university openshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64068-ASIA_PAKISTAN_The_first_Christian_chapel_in_a_state_university_openshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64068-ASIA_PAKISTAN_The_first_Christian_chapel_in_a_state_university_opensFaisalabad - There is a Christian chapel in the state university of Faisalabad, and is the first place of Christian worship present in a public university in Pakistan. On April 15th, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, Archbishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Faisalabad, in the presence of Muhammad Iqbal Zafar, vice Chancellor, professors, religious, students, inaugurated St. Mary's Church in the atrium of the Agriculture University. As reported to Fides by Archbishop Arshad, the chapel is dedicated to St. Mary. Msgr. Arshad congratulated the entire Christian community of the Agricultural University for promoting the construction of a place of Christian worship, alongside that of the existing Islamic religion. "The presence of a church inside the university enclosure will offer a message of love and harmony throughout the country. Christians will come here to pray for the progress and prosperity of the institute and of Pakistan", he said.<br />"Today - he added – quoting the words of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, who in his famous speech to the nation in 1947, said "You are free, free to go to your temples, free to go to your mosques or other religious places in this state of Pakistan. You can belong to any religion, caste or creed". The Archbishop thanked the civil and academic authorities for showing sensitivity and interest in offering a place of worship for Christians, respecting religious freedom.<br />Vice Chancellor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal said: "This church was built with the aim of ensuring the religious needs of Christian students and university workers. We believe in inter-religious harmony and in the fact that mosques and churches are both sacred places in which to worship God. A university chapel is a living example of Islamic-Christian brotherhood. <br />This is the first time in the history of Pakistan that a church was built in the state university. We hope that other institutions follow this example to guarantee the rights of religious minorities, as stated in the Constitution of Pakistan. Christians are our brothers and sisters because God has made all human beings the same".<br />Archbishop Joseph Arshad also celebrated mass in the new church by anointing the altar and blessing the place. In his homily he thanked God and all those who worked to complete the project, and invited young people to "give importance to higher education and to actively contribute to the common good of Pakistan". <br />Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:51:54 +0200AMERICA/CUBA - Presidential change among general indifference due to the economic situation and widespread pessimismhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64065-AMERICA_CUBA_Presidential_change_among_general_indifference_due_to_the_economic_situation_and_widespread_pessimismhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64065-AMERICA_CUBA_Presidential_change_among_general_indifference_due_to_the_economic_situation_and_widespread_pessimismHavana - "Nobody expects a substantial political change with the election of Miguel Díaz-Canel as new Cuban president", comments María C. López, responsible for the communication of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba, to Agenzia Fides.<br />"If anything, the most significant change is the presence of three out of five women in the group of vice-presidents", in a State Council that retains only two "historical" leaders out of a total of 30 members.<br />Díaz-Canel was elected on April 17 by the National Assembly of People's Power as president of the State Councils and Ministers. His term will last five years. In his speech, he reassured the establishment: "I have not come to promise anything. I have come to complete the program that we dictated, with the features of Socialism and the Revolution". He further clarified: "There will be no room for those who aspire to a capitalist restoration". Díaz-Canel is the first post-castrism leader of the nation and the first head of State to be born after the arrival of the "barbudos" of the Sierra Maestra, 8 January 1959.<br />The Catholics of the island, like the majority of the population, welcomed the news with indifference. Journalist Yoani Sánchez wrote that the reasons for this attitude are due to "the bad economic situation, the pessimism that arises from the belief that nothing will change only with a new face, and the fact that the people do not know other scenarios".<br />The Catholic Church will maintain openness to dialogue that characterized above all the Raúl era. "In almost the 11 years in which Fidel Castro's brother was in power", recalls Maria López speaking to Fides, "there were meetings between the State and the Church, with various moments of exchange between their respective leaders, which became concrete and visible with the release of a large number of prisoners from 2010, especially those of the so-called Spring of 2013, and with the visits of the Popes Benedict XVI and Francis in ".<br />These events were the occasion for talks and work agreements between the two parties, led by President and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of San Cristobal de Havana, which certainly could not have been achieved without a precise political will. "My perception - Maria López comments - is that in the last 20 years more religious freedom has been granted, in a very slow and progressive way". However, something is still missing: it is worth noting the almost total absence of "openly Christian and devout people in public structures, except for a few evangelicals". For example, to be a member of parliament, you must be registered with the Cuban Communist Party, even if there were exceptions and surprises in the last parliamentary election on March 11th <br />Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:36:31 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Migration becomes a social problem and divides the familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64066-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Migration_becomes_a_social_problem_and_divides_the_familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64066-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Migration_becomes_a_social_problem_and_divides_the_familyManila - The phenomenon of emigration in the Philippines has become a social problem that has negative effects on the stability of the family institution, says a priest who works with migrants. "One of the alarming social realities that our country is facing today is the phenomenon of emigration that is causing social changes and serious consequences on the unity of families", notes to Agenzia Fides Fr. Leonardo Adaptar, Director of the diocesan Ministry of migrants of the diocese of Cubao.<br />It is estimated that there are about 10.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers, OFW and about 3,000 hopeful people who leave the country every day to seek a better life. OFW are defined as "heroes of our days" because, thanks to the contribution of remittances sent to their homeland, give a strong support to the Philippine economy.<br />"However, we receive more and more negative stories, related to their problems, to the concerns of migrants and their families", says Fr. Adaptar. "There is a greater need today to monitor and accompany these people on a human and pastoral level, providing help in particular regarding legal advice, guidance and the well-being of migrant workers and their families", he explains.<br />Each of the dioceses of 86 dioceses in the country has the task of offering a specific formation to migrants and of following their families, in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants, says Friar Dexter Ignacio to Fides who works in the staff of the Commission for migrants in Cubao.<br />What is gained in economic terms through emigration - which is a phenomenon organized and mediated by the state - proves to be a loss for the families of the OFW. For decades, the trend of women's emigration, which is more than half of Filipinos abroad, has meant that families lose their mother's presence. As the cases monitored by the diocesan Catholic Commissions reveal, children grow up without maternal guidance, a fundamental presence, while husbands are tempted to start extra-marital relations or, worse, to sexually abuse their children.<br />"The issue of migration does not have an easy solution to all the problems that derive from it. The action must be multi-sectoral and interdisciplinary. All subjects involved must understand the whole cycle and the consequences of the migration phenomenon; state, civil society, the Church to avoid that it generates ever greater and widespread social problems", concludes Fr. Adaptar. <br />Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:02:19 +0200AFRICA - The commitment of the African Church: Working for the physical well-being of man is an integral part of the mandate of the Gospelhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64064-AFRICA_The_commitment_of_the_African_Church_Working_for_the_physical_well_being_of_man_is_an_integral_part_of_the_mandate_of_the_Gospelhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64064-AFRICA_The_commitment_of_the_African_Church_Working_for_the_physical_well_being_of_man_is_an_integral_part_of_the_mandate_of_the_GospelKara - Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the areas of the earth most exposed to all kinds of disasters: wars, epidemics, famines, etc. The precarious health system of this part of the continent is very often not able to cope with repeated epidemics, high rates of maternal mortality and the growth of chronic diseases. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa remains essentially the most affected area in the world by malaria. <br />According to WHO report of 29 November 2017, it accounts for 90% of malaria cases and related deaths worldwide.<br />"On April 16, at the opening of the Pan-African Conference on malaria in progress in Dakar until today April 20, it emerged that, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the fight against malaria is more complex and difficult than other parts of the world since almost a quarter of the bank reserves of blood are contaminated with parasites that cause the disease", said Fr. Donald Zagore, of the African Missions Society to Agenzia Fides. "In fact - continues the priest - out of a total of 22,508 blood donors, almost 23.46℅ is a vector of parasites that cause the pandemic to arise. With such a record, the fight against malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is far from over".<br />Furthermore, insists Fr. Zagore "because of the many armed conflicts many families in this relatively poor area of Africa need not only financial aid. In fact, it is urgent that social security and welfare tools such as the 'Assurance Maladie Universelle ' or the 'Couverture Sanitaire Universelle ' become an efficient and safe reality. These two tools remain a fundamental factor for sustainable development and are essentially aimed at alleviating the suffering of the most vulnerable and defenseless. The goal is for every individual in sub-Saharan Africa to be in good health and thus contribute according to the possibilities for development and self-realization".<br />"This is a very demanding challenge - explains Father Donald - especially for important issues such as the fight against malaria and fundamental programs such as AMU or CSU. We must never forget that working for the physical well-being of man is an integral part of the mandate of the Gospel received from our Lord Jesus as we read in Matthew : As you go, make this proclamation: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons..." <br />Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:14:53 +0200AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Social welfare reform: protests explode, the Church says "No" to repressionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64063-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Social_welfare_reform_protests_explode_the_Church_says_No_to_repressionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64063-AMERICA_NICARAGUA_Social_welfare_reform_protests_explode_the_Church_says_No_to_repressionManagua - "How much barbarity! There is already at least one student killed in the university. I feel a lot of pain! Let's say No to repression": this is the heartfelt appeal of Mgr. Silvio José Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, to the Nicaraguan authorities, where in the last two days the population has taken to the streets to protest the social welfare reform that directly affects the elderly and pensioners.<br />Agenzia Fides received Mgr. Baez’s appeal and also the testimony of Catholic missionaries and journalists who denounce the violent repression put in place by the police.<br />According to the latest information, at least four people, including a policeman, died yesterday during the protest demonstrations unleashed, due to the controversial reform which increases the contributory share of employers and workers and takes away money from pensioners. The 4 victims are a policeman, two young university students and a high school student who was murdered in the municipality of Tipitapa. The demonstrations took place in several municipalities and, as reported by the Red Cross, has wounded at least 33.<br />The reform has been criticized by all the economic sectors, by entrepreneurs and experts: it favors unemployment, decreases consumption and competitiveness. The Chamber of Industry of Nicaragua has asked the government to suspend the reform, considering that "it undermines the economy of the country, and that has generated the escalation of violence that has not stopped for two days".<br />Students, workers and housewives took to the streets and considered the denunciation of Nicaragua's vice president, Rosario Murillo, "scandalous" when he said that there is "political manipulation" in the protests. Through social media, everyone was able to see how things went: the government had convened public employees for some pro-government demonstrations; but the demonstrators instead started a protest against the executive.<br />Most of the university population in Nicaragua studies in state universities, and when students were asked to go to the streets to support the government of Ortega, the students went, but to offer their support to the elderly, against the reform of the INSS.<br />The police sent forces to violently disperse the peaceful protesters parading through cities across the country. <br />According to the latest information, the demonstrations have already spread to 16 cities in Nicaragua. <br />The Catholic Church, through the Bishops, immediately denounced the violent repression against the students and against the elderly. The Catholic Youth Ministry of the Diocese of the city of Leon, as in many other dioceses, use its own social media channels, and has called for "peace" against the outbreaks of violence resulting from an unjust social reform. <br /><br />Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:38:53 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - International Day against Malaria: It is also fought with educationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64061-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_International_Day_against_Malaria_It_is_also_fought_with_educationhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64061-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_International_Day_against_Malaria_It_is_also_fought_with_educationKinshasa - "Congo continues to live in a particularly unstable climate, but despite this, most deaths are not caused by the violence of the ongoing conflict but rather by malnutrition and its consequences: malaria and food insecurity are a terrible combination that causes a real massacre, especially among children. Chronic malnutrition leads to a weakening of the immune system and therefore a major risk of being affected by endemic diseases, first of all malaria": on the occasion of the next International Day against Malaria, which is celebrated on April 25th, Agenzia Fides received the testimony of a student from the Institute of Nursing Sciences in Kinshasa who, thanks to a scholarship, was able to carry out a period of training at the Campus Bio Medico University of Rome.<br />The young woman tells Fides: "The area of Mont-Ngafula, where ISSI resides, is not affected by the violence at the moment, but we are ready to serve in any part of the country where needed. A nurse trained at ISSI quickly finds work because our professional and human preparation is incomparable". The health system lacks in equipment, drugs, but above all in staff training, necessary to improve the quality of care. The newly graduate adds that "patients cannot afford medical treatment. For malaria, for example, there are effective drugs; if it is treated in time with the right drug, complications are reduced but due to excessive costs proper treatments are not possible. Therefore, waiting to be able to count on available and low-cost medicines, on fast and free diagnostic tests, we nurses focus on education and therefore on prevention, keeping in mind that the person is at the center".<br />Part of the tasks of the ISSI staff is to carry out community sensitization activities, through social mobilization campaigns, targeted training sessions to spread awareness of the importance of habits to prevent malaria, so that every single family understands the importance of protecting themselves and their children and of timely access to health services at the onset of the first symptoms. "Every initiative aimed at the most vulnerable people always aims to raise awareness on the issues of hygiene and health because the task of a nurse is not limited to the assistance of the sick but extends to the care of the person", confirms Olga.<br />The project in favor of the Higher Institute of Nursing Sciences is supported by Harambee Africa International . The Democratic Republic of Congo represents, with over 24 million cases of malaria, the second country of the African continent for the spread and impact of the disease which is the main cause of maternal and child death. <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:21:48 +0200AFRICA/TANZANIA - Resignation of the Bishop of Sumbawanga and appointment of successorhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64062-AFRICA_TANZANIA_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Sumbawanga_and_appointment_of_successorhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64062-AFRICA_TANZANIA_Resignation_of_the_Bishop_of_Sumbawanga_and_appointment_of_successorVatican City – Today the Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Sumbawanga , presented by His Exc. Mgr. Damian Kyaruzi. The Holy Father appointed Fr. Beatus Christian Urassa, Apostolic Life Community of Priests/Opus Sancti Spiritus , former Provincial Superior of his Institute in Tanzania, as Bishop of Sumbawanga.<br />The new Bishop was born on 2 August 1965 in Keni Mashati Rombo, Diocese of Moshi, he studied Philosophy in the Major Seminary of the Congregation Apostles of Jesus in Nairobi in Kenya, and Theology in the St. Charles Lwanga Interdiocesan Major Seminary in Segrea, Dar Es Salaam, he obtained a Doctorate in Spiritual Theology at the Pontifical Teresianum Institute in Rome. He was ordained a priest on July 12, 1997 for the Apostolic Life Community of Priests/Opus Sancti Spiritus .<br />After his priestly ordination he held the following positions: Secretary of the General Council of the Religious Congregation ALCP/OSS in Moshi, Tanzania ; Vice-parish priest of Mwananyamala, Dar Es Salaam ; Formator in the ALCP/OSS formation house in Morogoro ; Studies in Rome at the Pontifical Teresianum Institute ; Provincial Superior ALCP/OSS . <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:49:05 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian and Muslim leaders: stop attacks against minorities, yes to fast justicehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64060-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Christian_and_Muslim_leaders_stop_attacks_against_minorities_yes_to_fast_justicehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64060-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Christian_and_Muslim_leaders_stop_attacks_against_minorities_yes_to_fast_justiceLahore – To express serious concern about the repeated acts of violence against Christians in Quetta and Lahore; to condemn these attacks and dissociate oneself from the authors, disavowing those who abuse religion to commit violence; to address a heartfelt appeal to the government of Pakistan to arrest the guilty and proceed with a fast justice: these are the aims of the conference organized yesterday, April 18, in Lahore by the National Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, within the Catholic episcopal Conference, and by the "United Religions initiatives" organization in Pakistan. <br />At the meeting, Christian and Muslim leaders reiterated that religions in Pakistan intend to work for justice and harmony.<br />As Dominican Fr. James Channan OP, at the head of URI-Pakistan told Agenzia Fides, everyone strongly condemned the brutal murder of Christians in Essa Nagri, in Quetta. Fr. Francis Nadeem, executive secretary of the Commission, said that "it is the responsibility of the State to provide security to every citizen without any distinction. We want the safety of our homes, churches and schools. The Government of Pakistan should take immediate measures to safeguard Christians".<br />Channan notes that "we live in a very tense atmosphere: terrorists are destroying peace and Christians live in a state of fear, as Christians and Muslims, we demand justice for the victims, security for poor and vulnerable Christians, compensation for the families affected. We are appealing to the President of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take measures on the targeted killings of innocent Christians in Quetta. "Fr. Channan also mentioned the recent incidents of violence in the city of Shadara , where unknown people burnt a church, noting that "very often the police are reluctant to filing a First Information Report against the perpetrators".<br />Mufti Ashiq Hussain, a Muslim leader present, reiterated "the firm condemnation of the unjust and brutal killing of our Christian brothers and sisters in Quetta, and I ask the government of Pakistan to give them moral and financial support". "The Christians killed in Quetta are martyrs of peace and their sacrifice will bring a positive change in our society". <br />"We must show courage and passion in order to defuse the anti-peace projects of terrorists", added Islamic leader Allama Asim Makhdoom. "Muslims and Christians are brothers and we will continue to give our contribution to inter-confessional peace and harmony", he concluded. <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:42:37 +0200AMERICA/ECUADOR - Wave of violence in the north caused by Colombian drug traffickinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64059-AMERICA_ECUADOR_Wave_of_violence_in_the_north_caused_by_Colombian_drug_traffickinghttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64059-AMERICA_ECUADOR_Wave_of_violence_in_the_north_caused_by_Colombian_drug_traffickingSan Lorenzo - "We give support to the inhabitants of the northern border provinces, men, women, children, farmers, the Afro-Ecuadorian people and the Awá, Chanchis, Éperas, Cofanes, Secoyas and Sionas indigenous groups, as well as migrant populations in transit in the area, who face the consequences of a complex conflict that has worsened in recent weeks". This is what is highlighted in the statement of the Tundayme community, sent to Agenzia Fides, to signal the postponement of a visit to a date yet to be defined of the visits of the General Controller of the State regarding the mining projects of Mirador and Fruta del Norte, in the province of Zamora, in Ecuador .<br />The wave of violence with attacks and kidnappings that is affecting the north of Ecuador, on the border with Colombia, has caused so far the displacement of 158 families, coming from the villages of El Pan and Mataje, towards the province of Esmeraldas, according to the information released by the authorities of the country. The displacement began about three weeks ago, when the two journalists and the driver of the newspaper "El Comercio" were kidnapped and subsequently murdered .<br />In Ecuador there had never been any acts of violence due to Colombian drug trafficking. Since January 27, the country has been hit by a series of attacks in the border area, which have already caused seven deaths plus dozens of injured and two new kidnapped. The names of the latter were communicated by the authorities on 17 April: an Ecuadorian couple - Oscar Efren Villancís and Katty Vanesa Velasco - who had left the province of Santo Domingo to go to San Lorenzo, in Esmeraldas.<br />Of the 158 displaced families, 54 are housed in a hostel of the Catholic Church, located in the canton of San Lorenzo, and there are dozens of children and adolescents, as well as elderly and pregnant women among them. The rest of the displaced were welcomed by other families. It is expected that the number of displaced persons from the border area towards San Lorenzo will increase in the coming days, which is why more reception facilities are being prepared.<br />The Bishop of Esmeraldas and president of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Eugenio Arellano, as well as the entire Episcopal Conference, have condemned the acts of violence and terrorism that took place in the canton of San Lorenzo on several occasions, stating that "life is sacred and peace is a gift from God, every terrorist attack is an evil that must be rejected by everyone". <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:22:37 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - St. Anthony's School of Padua in Boma to rescue abandoned childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64058-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_St_Anthony_s_School_of_Padua_in_Boma_to_rescue_abandoned_childrenhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64058-AFRICA_DR_CONGO_St_Anthony_s_School_of_Padua_in_Boma_to_rescue_abandoned_childrenKinshasa - The Democratic Republic of Congo has been experiencing a generalized crisis for decades. The entire socio-economic fabric has deteriorated over the years. In this context, the Catholic Church has intervened in the field of education, health and various other fields of social action. In the city of Boma, Fr. Roger Pholo is one of the priests who dedicated himself to education to guarantee a future for the children thanks to the St. Antonio school in Padua, of which he is the co-founder.<br />The school is located in the district of Sindi, a shanty town in the city of Boma, separated from the rest of the city by the river, in which hundreds of families from all over the province have settled, leaving their villages hoping to find work in the city. Unfortunately, their desire to find a better life was shattered in the face of the existing reality in Boma.<br />The children of this district are forced to walk for more than 5 km to find the first school in the area. This situation forces children to abandon their studies. "When Fr. Roger Pholo started the pastoral work in our neighborhood, he could not remain indifferent to our misery. There was no electricity or running water. There was not even a school, where hundreds of school-age children live. So he decided to do something concrete to save our children's future", says a parent.<br />Fr. Roger brought together neighbors and some friends to create the Association of the Works for Disadvantaged Children . Thanks to OED, the St. Antonio school in Padua opened its doors in September 2016 with 4 primary level classes. The other classes followed during the school years.<br />Today the school has 10 classes and 225 pupils. A pump installed in the school's gardens provides water to the neighborhood and children can do their homework and play in the school building gardens even after sunset.<br />But Father Roger is far from satisfied: "I want to offer these children a decent learning environment, some buildings are unplastered and without floors. All this work is necessary to ensure a dignified infrastructure for the good of our children". <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:50:17 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Rape of a Muslim girl: "Indian women protagonists in the fight for justice"http://www.fides.org/en/news/64057-ASIA_INDIA_Rape_of_a_Muslim_girl_Indian_women_protagonists_in_the_fight_for_justicehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64057-ASIA_INDIA_Rape_of_a_Muslim_girl_Indian_women_protagonists_in_the_fight_for_justiceNew Delhi - "What happened to Asifa Bano is an inhumane act: the case highlights the thorny issue of violence on women and girls in India, and also shows the religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims": this is what in a note sent to Agenzia Fides Protestant Bishop Joseph D'Souza, Primate of the Church of the Good Shepherd in India says. The case of the Muslim girl Asifa Bano upsets the nation and is triggering religious and political tensions. The girl's body was found on January 17, 2018 in a forest near Kathua of Indian Kashmir. According to investigators, the child was raped and then strangled. Asifa is one of the many victims of rape in India, a country where more than 100 women and girls are raped every day. The girl belonged to the tribe of the Bakarwals, nomadic Muslim populations in northern India. The eight men who were arrested in recent days, nailed by DNA tests and eyewitnesses as the perpetrators of the crime, are all Hindus. Today the Hindu nationalist groups are trying to avoid the trial for those who were accused. Prominent figures of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party are pressing for the case to be handled by the Central Bureau of Inquiry, controlled by the government, in the hands of the BJP itself.<br />"It is time for India to recognize the existence of the problem of violence against women", said Mgr. D'Souza. "Religious fundamentalism often ends up targeting women, India is polarizing and giving space to all kinds of religious fundamentalism, and women are the most vulnerable victims", he notes.<br />The Bishop invites Indian women to develop their own version of the #MeToo campaign that raised the issue of sexual abuse against women in the United States. <br />"Indian women must be the protagonists of this struggle for civilization and for rights in Indian society", he says. Even in Christian Churches, he points out "gender equality must be promoted. Christian Churches in India must do everything possible to support women in their campaign for justice, equality, fairness and equal opportunities". <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:13:37 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Priest murdered in his officehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64056-AMERICA_MEXICO_Priest_murdered_in_his_officehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/64056-AMERICA_MEXICO_Priest_murdered_in_his_officeCuautitlán – Fr. Rubén Alcántara Díaz, 50, judicial vicar of the diocese of Izcalli, in the municipality of Cuautitlán , was murdered last night, Wednesday, April 18, with a knife, just before the 7pm Mass that he had to celebrate in the church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, in the district of Cumbria.<br />The Catholic Multimedia Center gave Fides the news of the tragic event. The Secretary General of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, Mgr. Alfonso Gerardo Miranda Guardiola, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Monterrey, Nuevo León, confirmed the fact and condemned the murder of Father Alcántara Díaz.<br />According to local information, the church secretary heard the priest arguing with a man. The priest was found dead on the floor while the alleged assailant had fled. <br />Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:44:57 +0200