Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aAFRICA/MOZAMBIQUE - Peaceful vote, despite tensions on the eve - The presidential, political and provincial elections in Mozambique took place yesterday, October 15th. According to information gathered by Fides, the vote was not marked by episodes of violence, despite a tense eve, fueled also by the killing, by a special police unit on October 7 in the south of the country, of an electoral observer, Anastâcio Matavel, and instability in the north due to the presence of jihadist groups.<br />Some problems were also reported in the accreditation of electoral observers. For example, in the province of Tete, the local Diocesan "Justice and Peace" Commission complained that out of 698 own electoral observers, only 115 had received accreditation from the government in the immediacy of the vote. <br />The historic rivalry between the ruling party Frelimo and former armed opposition Renamo , which had clashed in the long civil war had rekindled in recent years. Renamo accuses Frelimo of being in power since 1975 by resorting to fraud and corruption.<br />On the eve of Pope Francis' visit to Mozambique, President Filipe Nyusi and leader Renamo Ossufo Momade signed a historic peace agreement on 6 August, which allowed the free and peaceful conduct of the vote .<br />In addition to the President of the Republic, the electors were called to elect 250 members of the Parliament, 794 members of the provincial assemblies and for the first time 10 provincial governors. <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:32:08 +0200VATICAN - Extraordinary missionary Month: the first missionary activity is prayer City - "Pauline Jaricot, a French lay woman, now Venerable, who in 1822 founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, conceived and placed prayer at the beginning of the missionary activity. She gathered people to pray for the missions and, some years later, she created the 'living Rosary', a network that still exists today. These are groups of twenty people who, each month after a Eucharist, are given a Mystery of the Rosary to pray for. Each of them has a different Mystery, so all twenty mysteries will be recited in that month, thanks to the spiritual union of the group members. Today we want to emphasize that the prayer of the Rosary is still fundamental for the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith, which supports and finances many concrete projects of an ecclesial and missionary nature in the world. As Pope Francis remarked, the first missionary activity is prayer": this is what Fr. Tadeusz J. Nowak, of the Oblates of Maria Immaculate , Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith said, who spoke at the presentation of "ClickTo Pray eRosary", launched on the occasion of the Extraordinary Missionary Month, announced by Pope Francis for October 2019.<br />"ClickTo Pray eRosary" is a digital bracelet that activates by making the sign of the cross. It is an interactive, intelligent device, which works through a downloadable application at no cost, presented by the Pope's World Prayer Network. The App is called Click To Pray, and "is aimed primarily at young people, hoping to teach how to pray the Rosary". <br /><br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:27:09 +0200ASIA/MIDDLE EAST - Middle East Council of Churches: the territorial unity of Syria must be safeguarded - The Middle East Council of Churches followed with deep sorrow and pain the martyrdom and wounding of hundreds of Iraqis last week, and is currently following with greater pain the Turkish attacks on northeastern Syria, which would potentially have "serious repercussions on its territorial integrity", and thus exacerbate the humanitarian situation of refugees and displaced persons. Therefore, the MECC raises its prayers for the "end of all forms of violence and for the protection of human dignity which is the pillar of any peace or stability, while affirming the right of peoples to self-determination, in line with Arab and international instruments, and upon values of love, justice, human rights and common responsibility in peacebuilding". The MECC calls upon the consciences of stakeholders to stop "the cycle of war and violence in the blessed region of the East".<br />The Middle East Council of Churches, founded in 1974 in Nicosia and currently based in Beirut, aims to facilitate the convergence of Middle Eastern Christian communities on topics of common interest and to favor the overcoming of contrasts of a confessional nature. <br />Professor Souraya Bechealany, Christian Maronite, professor of theology at the Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth, was elected Secretary General of the MECC in January 2018, and together with her collaborators undertook a process of restructuring the departments of the ecumenical body <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 13:15:51 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Bishops: violence against religious minorities on the rise; we urgently need the Action Plan for Human Rights - "In recent weeks there has been an alarming increase in violent episodes in particular against religious minorities. Some of the most recent incidents include the profanation of crosses on tombs in a Christian village, Antonioabad, near the city of Okara": this was stated by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, expressing concern about these incidents.<br />In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the Commission reports several episodes in recent months: on 12 May, some faithful noticed damaged and broken crosses on 40 tombs in a Catholic cemetery in Antonioabad. Moreover it is recalled that, also in May, Javed Masih, a 36-year-old Christian, was killed by his Muslim employer in the village of Chak 7, near Faisalabad, after suffering religious discrimination.<br />The list released by the Commission shows that Hindu doctor Ramesh Kumar was indicted for blasphemy on charges of having provided medicine wrapped in a paper that, according to the prosecution, had printed verses from the Koran. Following this accusation, a crowd set fire to the doctor's office.<br />The "Justice and Peace" Commission strongly condemns "targeted violence against minorities only because of their faith" and states: "These attacks on minorities are not acceptable and the state must provide protection and security for all citizens".<br />Archbishop Joseph Arshad, President of the Commission, Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf, Director, and Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director, call on the government to "immediately take effective measures to ensure the safety of minorities under Article 36 of the Constitution of Pakistan", bringing the perpetrators of the violence to justice.<br />"It is of the utmost importance that the government implement the ruling of the Supreme Court of 19 June 2014 for the promotion and protection of the legitimate rights of religious minorities", states the note sent to Fides, fearing that "minorities are still considered second-class citizens" and still have to fight for their fundamental rights.<br />Emmanuel Yousaf stressed that "these attacks constitute a serious threat to the survival of minorities in Pakistan", asking them to implement "the National Action Plan for Human Rights". <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:36:58 +0200ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Cardinal Yeom: "We entrust the brothers of North Korea to the Virgin Mary" - "I have never been to North Korea, even though I am Apostolic Administrator in the diocese of Pyongyang. When she appeared in Fatima, the Virgin Mary told us to pray for those who do not believe in God. This means that Mother Maria in Fatima is asking us to pray for peace on the Korean peninsula. We entrust our brothers to North Korea": said Cardinal Andrew Yeom, Soo-jung, Archbishop of Seoul, celebrating Holy Mass in Fatima, on the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, where the Korean Prelate went at the invitation of Cardinal António Augusto dos Santos Marto, Bishop of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima. Cardinal Yeom and about 80 pilgrims from South Korea, who accompanied him, participated in the Eucharistic celebration and procession, with the blessing of candles and rosaries.<br />Cardinal Yeom added: "I am happy that World Youth Day in 2022 will be held in Portugal. I hope that many young people can participate in the event as apostles of peace", noting that "it is very significant that the People of God unite, in the same faith, to pray for peace in the world".<br />While the Cardinal celebrated Mass in Portugal, in the Catholic Cathedral of Myeong-dong, in Seoul, the faithful were gathered to pray a special "Rosary for peace in the world", joined spiritually by the faithful in Banja Luka, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in a symbolic initiative of "communion of prayer" that embraced the whole world. <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:19:27 +0200EUROPE/IRELAND - "Together we are mission": 700 children participated in the Day of Missionary Prayer - The second Friday in October is the day chosen in Ireland for children who come together to pray for their peers who live in other parts of the world, especially those from mission dioceses. Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly celebrated "Children's Mission Prayer Day" with over 700 young students in Thurles, in the County of Tipperary, on Friday 11 October 2019.<br />Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, who is at the head of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, in Ireland, is a member of a missionary institute, the Society of African Missions , and has been on a mission in West Africa. He welcomed about 700 students from the school of Sant'Ailbe, the school of Saint Angela, the school of Santa Brigida, the national school of Morcarkey, the school of Santa Maria and the national school of Rahealty in the Cathedral of the Assumption.<br />The celebration, which has reached its twelfth year, took place in schools throughout Ireland, with the Cathedral chosen for the main celebration. The goal of the annual Children's Mission Prayer Day is to help transform our world for the better, supporting children through prayer and encouraging acts of sharing. The event is coordinated by the Pontifical Society of the Holy Childhood in Ireland. The national secretary of Holy Childhood, Julieann Moran, and teacher Deirdre Lanigan, prepared this year's celebration on the theme "Together we are mission". <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 11:17:10 +0200AMERICA/HONDURAS - Bishops for the Extraordinary Missionary Month: evangelizing also means denouncing - "Evangelizing is not just announcing the joy of the Gospel, but also denouncing everything that denies life, which hinders the development of the person and the community. This has profound and serious social and political repercussions, against which we Bishops, as pastors, cannot remain indifferent": this is what the Bishops’ Conference of Honduras states, in its message published for the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019.<br />The Bishops present their analysis of the reality of the country: "With deep sorrow we see how the scourge of drug trafficking, as Pope Francis called it, which put an end to so many lives and that is supported by unscrupulous men, is a reality that has permeated the institutions of our country and consequently caused an accelerated deterioration of the image of our nation". They therefore indicate those responsible for this situation: "politicians, who agreed with organized crime, who had forgotten that ethics makes them custodians of the common good and not of their personal interests".<br />With reference to the exercise of politics, the document states: "Our vernacular policy has been characterized by the custom of ignoring the people directly, speaking on their behalf and ending up concluding pacts that in no way favor the people". "It hurts very much to say that what Honduras exports most are human beings moved by the hope of a better life, but it is a frustrating hope when we see 87,337 Hondurans being deported in 2019 alone". <br />The Bishops therefore call for work for justice, peace and the common good of the country: "We need a revision of moral values, of the readiness of all to serve the law faithfully. We need a justice that allows us to build a country with equity and help us to overcome this painful page of national history, afflicted by the burden of drug trafficking, corruption, impunity and abuse of power".<br />The text, signed by the presidency of the CEH, concludes with an invocation: "We ask God our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady of Suyapa, Patroness of Honduras, to enlighten us and give us the strength to take care, respect and promote life; the life that allows us to share as brothers, this country that we must assume as our own, because its present and its future are everyone's responsibility". <br />Wed, 16 Oct 2019 08:11:08 +0200AMERICA/ECUADOR - Agreement reached between President Moreno and indigenous leaders put an end to protests - The Ecuadorian Bishops’ Conference and the representation of the United Nations in Ecuador have published a joint statement to inform that the President of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, has officially repealed decree n. 883 which increased the price of fuel and which caused more than a week of violent protests in the country.<br />Yesterday, Monday October 14, Moreno signed the 894 decree, which "leaves without effect" the previous decree, signed on October 1st, and states that a new decree will be prepared to allow a fuel subsidy policy.<br />According to information sent to Fides, Moreno, after last week's violent demonstrations, had shown his willingness to "review" Decree 883, while the United Nations and the Ecuadorian Bishops' Conference, which act as mediators, confirmed that the agreement negotiated last Sunday 13 October, by the government and the natives, "cancels" the measure in order to agree on another provision that maintains the "subsidy policy".<br />The protests had begun on the first day of October, when the government had announced the increase of fuel in agreement with the International Monetary Fund in order to have in exchange 4,200 million dollars. The indigenous population and groups took to the streets in various cities in the country, giving rise to violent protest demonstrations that caused, in less than a week, 7 deaths and more than 1000 arrests . <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:33:24 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The promotion of better working conditions at the center of the international meeting of young Christian workers in West Africa - "We want to transmit a family spirit, of solidarity, through the promotion of better working conditions which consists in the promotion of man in all its dimensions", says the coordinator of the association of young workers in West Africa Djémis N'Guessan, explaining the theme of the first International JOC Meeting held in the Ivory Coast from 11 to 19 October 2019.<br />"The impact of social justice on the reality of decent work for young people in West Africa" is the theme of this international meeting which officially opened with a mass on Sunday 13 October in the Cathedral of Saint Paul d'Abidjan Plateau, presided by His Exc. Mgr. Boniface Ziri, Bishop of Abengourou, President of the Bishops’ Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity and of the Communities. Opening the meeting, Mgr. Boniface Ziri welcomed the various delegations.<br />The meeting is attended by delegates from Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Nigeria, Senegal and Rwanda, the latter an invited Country. Starting from October 14th there will therefore be a week of reflection that will end with the publication of a final communiqué in which the reflections and the sharing of the delegates' experiences will converge in order to increase the presence of the JOC in society. The delegates will participate in various activities including conferences, tourist visits and holy masses. <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:21:13 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - Appeal by the Head of State: "Let us not fall into the trap of sectarian war" - "These attacks aim to weaken the way we live together, passed down through our ancestors, and that we must safeguard at all costs", said the President of Burkina Faso, Roch Kaboré, in his message to the population alarmed by the attack on the mosque of Salmossi, which took place on Friday 11 October, in which 16 people lost their lives.<br />After the Christian communities, armed groups seeking to destabilize the Country have targeted the Muslim community, in an obvious attempt to trigger a sectarian conflict. A danger clearly highlighted by the Head of State in his speech to the nation. "Religions are vectors of tolerance and these barbaric and evil attacks show us the nature of the enemy we have to fight, in an individual and collective commitment of every moment", he said.<br />Among the most serious attacks suffered by the Catholic Church we remember that of Sunday 12 May against the church of Dablo, in which Fr. Siméon Yampa and five faithful were killed .<br />Since 2015, at least 610 people have lost their lives in Burkina Faso in attacks attributed to jihadist groups. <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:09:30 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Study of the Catholic religion and the Bible in public schools: the Bishops say "Yes" - The Filipino bishops have welcomed the government's move to introduce the study of the Catholic religion and the reading of the Bible in public, primary and secondary schools. "It is a good proposal. We hope it will be approved", said Archbishop Arturo Bastes, Bishop of Sorsogon, former president of the Bishops’ Commission for the Biblical Apostolate, to Agenzia Fides.<br />Fr. Conegundo Garganta, Executive Secretary of the Bishops’ Commission for Youth, in the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, defined the measure "relevant", arguing that "it will help the Churches in the task of spreading the Word of God". Furthermore, the measure - he said - will help to celebrate the "National Month of the Bible", which the nation celebrates in January each year, according to a proclamation issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in January 2017.<br />The parliamentary Bienvenido Abante Jr. presented the "Bill 2069", a bill that introduces the Catholic religion and biblical literacy as part of the curriculum of public schools run by the government. "If Christian principles were taught to our children, there would not be many problems of leadership, governance, peace and order", argued Abante. The best way to shape and strengthen the moral, spiritual, ethical, intellectual and social character of youth and personal discipline - he added - is to act at school, in the years of primary and secondary school education. "While we are defined as the only Christian nation in Asia, it seems that we have not really appreciated the importance of a book, the Bible, which is a literary masterpiece, the best-selling book in the world, the only one that offers a lasting solution to the challenges of man and society", said Abante.<br />According to the bill, subjects such as English and Filipino, in public schools, will include reading and discussion on texts taken from the Bible. In the case of Muslim students, the Koran can be replaced by the Bible.<br />Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, one of the Country's leading biblical scholars, welcomed the bill, recalling "the principle of respecting the religious freedom of all students". On the other hand, he added "we are happy that public education has not yet assumed the ideology of Western secularism that prohibits religion in public spaces and institutions", suggesting to include "a topic of the Bible" in the middle school curriculum. <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 12:03:43 +0200VATICAN - Study day on Cardinal Newman, "the Augustine of modern times" City - "On the eve of the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman, this day dedicated to the study of the Blessed introduces us not only to the better knowledge of the multiform, extraordinary, human, theological and priestly personality of this illustrious Son of Great Britain, but also to tomorrow morning’s solemn celebration". With these words, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, introduced the works of the study meeting entitled "Cardinal Newman: a celebration", promoted by the Congregation and by the British Embassy to the Holy See, which took place on Saturday 12 October at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican.<br />Introducing the work, which examined three aspects of the complex personality of Newman, "theologian, educator and priest", Card. Filoni underlined that the process of the cause of canonization allowed to highlight "also his excellent qualities as a man of God and the Church", and he recalled that Newman "was also a guest of our Pontifical Urban College, among whose walls he was formed to the Catholic doctrine and refined his spirit of prayer".<br />"Someone said that he would have been an «absent Father» of the Second Vatican Council - said Cardinal Filoni -; instead, according to the thought of Paul VI, Newman was invisibly at the center of Vatican II . In fact, he was faithfully present with his teaching, perceived in some documents . Today the Catholic Church recognizes not only the value of her ecclesiological thinking, but also the importance of his holiness of life. I would define him, in patristic terms, the Augustine of modern times". <br />In the solemn Mass of canonization, celebrated on Sunday 13 October in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis in his homily said: "Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new Saints and referring to the "the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described, he quoted his words "the Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not. […] The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence. […] with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” . The Pope concluded: " Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others” . <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 11:50:10 +0200AFRICA/TANZANIA - The vocation of women religious: to pray and work for peace in Africa and in the world es Salaam "The world needs leaders, men and women, peacemakers": said Archbishop Emeritus of the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam, Cardinal Polycarp Pengo on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Francis of Assisi in Mahenge, in central-southern Tanzania. Addressing the sisters, the Cardinal recalled the example of St. Francis, humble and simple, urging them to "help redeem the world with prayers".<br />"We must do everything within our capacity so that God's peace reigns among his people. St. Francis preached peace and lived peace. Now it is up to you, Sisters, to pray and work for peace in Africa and in the world. We must be willing to sacrifice our lives for the security and peace of our nation and the whole world", said the Archbishop.<br />"If only among us there were some leaders who live and preach peace, the entire human race would have a better world. We can do it and achieve this goal with prayers, sisters, and this is your task", added Mgr. Gervas Nyaisonga, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Tanzania "You are a gift for the Church that must continue to grow. Your presence, wherever you are, enriches the community. Today the world needs humble and prudent servants, lovers of peace", underlined Mgr. Nyaisonga congratulating the sisters on behalf of the Bishops.<br />The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Francis of Assisi in Mahenge was founded in 1941 by Capuchin friar Edgar Aristides Maranta, in the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam. At the time, the area of Mahenge, which later became a diocese, was part of the archdiocese of Dar es Salaam. Initially, five girls joined the Congregation who made their first religious profession on January 1, 1944. The Congregation currently has 334 sisters. <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 11:23:33 +0200EUROPE/CZECH REP. - "Following the footsteps of the Missionary Saints", in the Extraordinary Missionary Monthč - A Mission Day was held in Proseč, a city in the Czech Republic near Skuteč, entitled "Following the footsteps of missionary Saints". More than 110 small and big missionaries from the diocese of Hradec Králové and the archdiocese of Olomouc lived a community experience full of joy, creativity and God's presence.<br />As reported in the note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Pontifical Mission Societies of the Czech Republic, at 10 am the program focused on missionary Saints began, who the children of Holy Childhood got to know in preparation for Extraordinary Mission Month October 2019. The participants were welcomed by the parish priest, the Diocesan Director of the PMS, Hradec Králové, and by Mrs Bronislava Halbrštátová, who presented the clothing of Malawian inhabitants to the people present. The girls of the "Little Mission Club Proseč" then performed a liturgical dance, on the music of the hymn of Holy Childhood "Send me, I will go".<br />Then, the National Director of the PMS, deacon Leoš Halbrštát, talked about his missionary experience to Malawi through photos, videos and personal impressions. He showed the places where children need help and where aid is sent from the Czech Republic, such as the hospital for disadvantaged children in Mzuzu, areas destroyed by spring floods or very poor places where school education is being started for children. Leoš Halbrštát then recalled the meaning of the Extraordinary Missionary Month and the reason why Pope Francis announced it: every baptized person is sent to bring the joyful message of Christ and must be a good missionary.<br />The Mission Fair was held throughout the day, with a vast selection of food and other products, the sale of which will support the projects of the Holy Childhood. The participants in the missionary meeting then moved to the parish garden which turned into a place of relax, sharing, good food, sport and play. In the various stands, through games and activities suitable for them, the children got to know the life of St. Patrick, St. Adalbert of Prague, St. John Bosco, St. Zdislava Berka, St. Josephine Bakhita.<br />The highlight of the day was the Mass celebrated by Fr. Vladimír Novák, accompanied by songs by the "Naživo" group, during which the National Director of PMS welcomed eleven small missionaries. The children were given a small cross, a scarf and a gift, inviting them to go to homes near and far to announce the joy of the Gospel to everyone. <br />Tue, 15 Oct 2019 11:18:08 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Human rights and religious freedom for a tolerant and inclusive Pakistan - It is necessary to develop a new national culture to make Pakistan more tolerant and inclusive for the followers of all faiths: this is what civil society activists emphasized during a seminar organized in recent days in Karachi by "Center for Social Justice" to discuss religious freedom and human rights in Pakistan in light of various legal aspects.<br />As Agenzia Fides learns, students, activists, NGO members, politicians and leaders of religious minorities took part in the discussion, underlining the need to foster interreligious harmony in the country and highlighting the obstacles regarding respect for human rights in Pakistan.<br />"Despite having numerous laws in the Constitution that guarantee social, cultural and religious freedom for minorities, membership and respect for those laws remain limited", said CSJ executive director, the Catholic Peter Jacob. "In general, religious freedom is unquestioned at a legal level - he remarked - but a broad national narrative should be created to really promote it in the social life in Pakistan".<br />Jacob continued: "We need another 'Paigham-e-Pakistan' , with all the parties involved, including civil society, minorities, women, educators and students, to develop this narrative. Some of the problems we face are the result of religious challenges. It is necessary to develop a consolidated voice to make Pakistan more tolerant and inclusive", he said.<br />Mahnaz Rahman, woman leader of the "Aurat Foundation" reiterated: "The founder of Pakistan, Ali Jinnah, dreamed of a country in which all the components in society were included and with equal rights. Religion is a personal choice and should be respected", she said, tracing the concept of "citizenship" as a key idea for everyone, regardless of social status, culture, belief, without discrimination.<br />The founder of the "Interreligious Commission for Peace and Harmony", present at the seminar, Islamic leader Allama Muhammad Ahsan Naqvi reiterated his desire for "unity with our Hindu and Christian brothers", adding that he is "at the forefront of safeguarding their rights". And he said: "It is essential that we all do out part for the prosperity of the country, expelling those who sow hatred to divide us".<br />Those present, like prof. Riaz Shaikh, professor at the University of Punjab, recalled the importance of article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which deals with the rights of Pakistani citizens, stating that "an inclusive model is essential to bring the country out of darkness".<br />"Self-criticism is vital in order to address the problem. There must be a reason why, since the foundation of Pakistan, the number of non-Muslims has been reduced from 25-30% to a mere 3%", he said. "We must recognize that religion has been used in our society as a tool to resolve disputes and obtain benefits. Intolerance has become a huge problem, difficult to deal with".<br />The exponents of religious minorities, Hindus and Christians, have reiterated that they "fully feel Pakistani," and of "wanting to be accepted as Pakistanis because this country is our home". <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 13:25:32 +0200AFRICA - Extraordinary Missionary Month: the real challenge is a mission of hope for Africa - "The message of hope that the Gospel of Christ brings is fundamental to the mission in Africa. Christ came among us so that we could have life in abundance", says Father Donald Zagore, a theologian of the Society for African Missions, to Agenzia Fides on the occasion of the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month, underway in the continent. "Suffering, despair, the culture of death, are constantly affecting the lives of our people in Africa: it is more urgent than ever to bring them the right comfort. The African needs to be consoled in his being. The Gospel of Christ must be able to heal the wounded hearts of a continent marked by so much suffering. Africa needs missionaries of hope", the theologian insists.<br />Father Donald speaks of "a liberating hope, which immerses the African man in a dynamic of ‘holistic emancipation’, which its completion in the birth of African Christian faith communities can be significant for the whole society. These faith communities are tenacious defenders of an ethic of coexistence, peace, unity and fraternity".<br />"Christian hope must be presented to African man not only as an eschatological reality, but a reality of today, which is tangible and which the African man can touch and contemplate daily. A mission of hope remains the great challenge for missionary activity in Africa", concludes Fr. Zagore. <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:40:00 +0200AMERICA/BOLIVIA - Bishops call for "transparent elections for authentic democracy" Paz - "We are heading towards these elections in a climate of distrust, for fear of a possible manipulation of the electoral process. This situation leads us to demand that all voters go to the polls, to exercise their duty and their right, without any political, social or economic pressure". This is what the Bishops of Bolivia say in a statement entitled "Transparent elections for an authentic democracy", published in view of the elections to be held on October 20, to elect the President, the Vice-president, 130 deputies and 36 senators for the 2020-2025 term.<br />The Bishops' Conference reminds citizens to vote "with clear awareness of the real needs of our Country, its problems, its potential and to choose the party that presented concrete proposals that can be implemented within the framework of the common good and democratic values of freedom, justice and equal dignity of every Bolivian". Since the elections are at the base of the democratic system and are based on the respect of the individual vote, "they must be carried out in a transparent manner and under the strict control of international observers, electoral juries, political parties and the voters themselves, so that the result of the polls is rigorously accepted, respecting the sovereign decision of the Bolivian people".<br />The Bishops' message underlines the right of everyone to have "objective and truthful information", trusting that the media closely follow the entire electoral process, without hesitating "to report any irregular and fraudulent facts". Finally, they invite to pray: "The transcendental importance of this moment leads us to pray to the God of life and truth, so that all citizens and authorities, through transparent and peaceful elections, contribute to building a more democratic Bolivia and a real home for everyone".<br />According to information gathered by Fides, Bolivia was the South American country that has experienced the greatest economic growth in recent years, despite the context of regional weakness, thanks above all to public investment and the strengthening of domestic demand. At a political level there is confusion and discontent, as the number of poor and abuses of power is still high. <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 12:18:34 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Pilgrimage of the Virgin of Zapopan - The Catholic faith of Mexicans expressed itself publicly on October 12, in the traditional pilgrimage of the Virgin of Zapopan, in Mexico. Nearly two million faithful accompanied "La Generala", on her return to the Basilica. This transfer has been carried out for almost 300 years without interruption. The pilgrimage covers just over nine kilometers, during which the faithful pray the rosary, sing and praise the Virgin. Cardinals Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara, and Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, Archbishop emeritus of the same ecclesiastical district, accompanied the faithful.<br />At the beginning and at the end of the pilgrimage, the Cardinals commented on the reality of the Mexican people, which shows their rejection of abortion and its support for life from the moment of conception. Cardinal Sandoval Iñiguez pointed out that when Catholics are not coherent with their faith, then federal authorities act in a certain way against freedom and the family.<br />During the welcoming mass of the Virgin in Zapopan, Cardinal Francisco Robles said that the fundamental right of every person is the right to life. "Ideologies want to impose their program on society and slowly they are undermining the consciences, to the point that they make something that is not good seem good", he said.<br />Cardinal Robles Ortega stressed that one cannot speak of a "re-foundation of Jalisco" without the Virgin Mary, referring to the program of the state government".<br />Finally the Archbishop of Guadajara spoke of the Missionary Month and its relationship with Mary, since "the image is the bearer of God". He then highlighted the close relationship of the Virgin Mary with the Church, "a model of virtue for the whole community of the elect". "The Bishops of Aparecida remind us that, in the mystery of Mary, like her and following her example, the Church finds its identity and its mission of mother, disciple, missionary and service". <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:59:04 +0200AFRICA/CHAD - Extraordinary Missionary Month: "We do not reach faith alone or through our own efforts" says the Bishop of Goré'Djamena - "By decreeing the Extraordinary Missionary Month, the Pope wants to give each of us the opportunity to realize that our faith in Jesus Christ manifested in baptism is first and foremost a gift from God for which every day we must thank Him", said His Exc. Mgr. Martin Waingue Bani, Bishop of Goré, in southern Chad, in his homily on Sunday 6 October, in which the opening of the Extraordinary Missionary Month was celebrated.<br /> "We do not reach faith alone or through our own efforts", stressed Mgr. Waingue Bani. "Faith comes from listening to the Word of God and this word cannot be heard unless there is someone who announces it. Each of us has had a mother, a father, a catechist, a priest, a nun, in his life, in short a testimony of the Gospel that brought him to the knowledge of Jesus". Therefore, this missionary month must also be an opportunity for us to remember all those who brought us the Gospel, starting with the first missionaries, the Spiritan and Capuchin Fathers and all the missionary congregations, male and female. Each of whom contributed with its own stone to the construction of this Church Family of God here in Doba, without forgetting the many catechists without whom Jesus Christ will not be announced in the depths of our villages", recalled the Bishop.<br />All this is made possible by the action of the Holy Spirit, added Mgr. Waingue Bani: "It is thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit that we can believe and love Jesus. This is why our faith is a free gift from God".<br />"Whether we have chosen to follow the Lord in marriage or in consecrated life, we are called to bear witness to our faith in the concrete life of each day. In this sense, being baptized or being a Christian means being missionary disciples, it is assuming the responsibility and suffering as Saint Paul says in the proclamation of the Gospel", the Bishop points out.<br />Mgr. Waingue Bani recalls that "the first Catholic mission in Chad, first in Kou Doholo and then transferred here in Doba, was opened under the patronage of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. This is why this cathedral that welcomes us for the opening celebration of this Extraordinary Missionary Month, bears the name of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus because it is here that the first community of our diocese was born, a community that is the fruit of this seed of the Word of God, 90 years ago by the first Catholic missionaries, the French spiritual fathers Heriau and Columbus. All this to say that the first form of evangelization is first of all the witness of the life of prayer and charity". <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 11:31:53 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Political and religious leaders mourn Archbishop Jala’s death in the United States - Condolences and expressions of solidarity and deep gratitude were expressed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who led political and religious leaders to mourn the death of 68-year-old Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong in a car accident in California on 10 October. Meanwhile, the Catholic community in the state of Meghalaya , where he was born and where he carried out his episcopal ministry, is immersed in prayer.<br />The Salesian Archbishop "will be remembered for his impeccable service to society and passion towards Meghalaya’s progress. May his soul rest in peace", tweeted the Indian Prime Minister on 12 October, soon after the news of the Catholic prelate.<br />The accident reportedly occurred around 11 pm October 10 when Archbishop Jala was traveling to Clearlake in California along with Fathers Mathew Vellankal and Joseph Parekkatt, two Indian priests working in the United States. Father Vellankal, who was driving, and Archbishop Jala who was on the front seat died on the spot while Parekkatt suffered serious wounds and admitted to a hospital.<br />The Archbishop, after having taken part in the "Ad limina visit" of the bishops of northeastern India, in the Vatican, had gone to the United States to attend an International Commission meeting for the liturgy and to meet some priest friends.<br />The Archbishop was the first prelate from the Khasi tribe, one of prominent ethnic groups. The news about the archbishop’s death has created shock and sadness. The people particularly the Catholic faithful across Meghalaya and the region recall the life and contribution of Archbishop Jala to society.<br />Expressing shock and grief, the priests and religious of Shillong Archdiocese said: "It is really a sad news for all of us to learn that our beloved Archbishop passed away, far away from his homeland, far away from us. We are awaiting return of his mortal remains and after that we can arrange for the date and time of the funeral. As of now, we urge everyone to pray for us, to pray for our archdiocese and especially to pray for the soul of archbishop". <br />Numerous political leaders in Meghalaya, such as the Prime Minister of the state, Conrad Sangma, have sent messages of condolences and solidarity.<br />Mgr. John Moolachira, Archbishop of Guwahati and the president of the Council of Catholic Bishops of Northeast India, wrote: "We entrust his soul into the hands of his creator. We the Catholic Bishops of North East India are grieved at his departure but at the moment of pain we turn to the priests, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Shillong who mourn their beloved Archbishop: we pray for the eternal repose of the departed soul and for the archdiocese of Shillong" <br />Mon, 14 Oct 2019 10:27:56 +0200