Fides News English Agency Newsen-usASIA/SRI LANKA - The Bishops: "Joseph Vaz, apostle of peace, first saint to Sri Lanka: the Church rejoices" - "What would you say if a wish comes true after 300 years? The whole Church in Sri Lanka rejoices today. The canonization of Joseph Vaz, co-founder of our Church is a great gift and we thank Pope Francis": with these words His Exc. Mgr. Vianney Fernando, Bishop of Kandy, expressed to Fides Agency, the immense satisfaction of the bishops and of the whole Catholic community in Sri Lanka at the news of the upcoming canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, communicated by the Holy See. "We have worked hard and overcome so many obstacles - he says - now we are simply happy. We hope and pray that the celebration will take place during the Pope's visit to Sri Lanka. Our joy would be even doubled", he adds, saying that on September 14th, the local Church experienced a special day of prayer for this intention. The Bishop told Fides that he also shared the joy with the Bishop of Goa. <br />Joseph Vaz, called the "Apostle of Sri Lanka", was born in Benaulin in 1651 and was ordained a priest in the Congregation of St. Filippo Neri, he went on a mission in Sri Lanka, where the Dutch Calvinists had launched a violent persecution against Catholics. He founded more than 15 churches and 400 chapels. His translation of the Gospel in the two languages of the country, Tamils and Sinhalese is of precious value. Vaz dies in Kandy in 1711, on January 16, the day on which his feast is celebrated in the liturgical calendar. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on January 21, 1995, during his apostolic visit to Sri Lanka. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Children have died due to contaminated measle vaccine - In the province of Idlib, northeast of Syria, about 35 children have died due to some contaminated doses of measle vaccine. Children began to suffer from serious symptoms immediately after administration. The vaccination program was sponsored by the World Health Organization, in areas controlled by rebel mercenaries against the government of Bashar Al Assad. Medical sources also said that dozens of children were poisoned with symptoms of allergies. The information reveal that the contaminated vaccine may not have been stored properly before administration. There is a high possibility that the number of deaths may increase due to the serious conditions of some of the young children infected. Meanwhile, the program has been suspended. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - "He protected the Muslims": the Alison Des Forges Award to a Central African camillian – Fr. Bernard Kinvi, camillian, was honoured with the Alison Des Forges award, because he distinguished himself in defending the rights of man. <br />Fr.Bernard offered protection and assistance to hundreds of Muslims who risked being killed by anti-Balaka militias, in the mission of Bossemptélé in the North-West of the Central African Republic, 300 km from the capital Bangui. <br />"We made the choice to stay in January 2014 when the civil war broke out", said the religious. The choice of Fr. Bernard, his confrere Brice Patrick and of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Therese of Turin, however, was not accepted by the anti-Balaka militias. <br />"Many people wanted to kill Muslims, seen as enemies. I strongly opposed. All the Catholic mission opposed", says Fr. Bernard. The religious hopes that the award given "serves to make it clear to the world that in Central Africa, several priests, religious and other Christians have protected Muslims. To say that this is not a sectarian war but political".<br />"This award is an appeal for peace and reconciliation. I invite my Central African brothers and sisters to join and work for peace and development in our Country", concluded the religious. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Elections of October 5: corruption enters the electoral debate - Corruption scandals involving state oil company Petrobras entered the debate sponsored by the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, which was attended by eight of the eleven presidential candidates . <br />President Dilma Rousseff, who seeks re-election, and the opposition leader Aecio Neves , have accused each other on this point. While the environmentalist Marina Silva in a run-off with Rousseff accused the President and Neves of not presenting a program of governance. <br />Former President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took to the streets to support the incumbent President and member of the Workers Party Dilma Rousseff. <br />On October 5, Brazilians will vote to elect the President, Vice President, Governors, one-third of the senators, deputies and federal government. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - The President of Caritas Lebanon: organized chaos in the Middle East also kills charity - "Some time ago a Lebanese bishop tried to collect money to help Syrian refugees. Well, he did not manage to collect any money. People said: enough, we do not want more help. For many people, aid to Syrian refugees has become grounds for accusations and reproaches with regards to the work carried out by Caritas". <br />This is how the Maronite priest Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon, describes to Fides Agency the gradual disappearance of the Lebanese sense of human solidarity and charity toward Syrian refugees also caused by the renewed fighting in the Bekaa Valley between anti-Assad Syrian militants and forces of the national army. "Among the people" says Fr. Karam "many repeat: 'we welcomed them, and they have betrayed us. Now we do not want to help the Syrians'".<br />The humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon is likely to become yet another collateral victim of conflicts and events that are spreading fear among the Lebanese population. In the background there is always the threat of a Lebanon infected by the Syrian conflict and the fear that the Country of Cedars will become the territory of conquest for jihad groups like the Islamic State and the Frente al-Nusra, linked to al-Qaida network. The border between Syria and Lebanon has been repeatedly crossed by the incursions of jihadi groups, and al-Nusra threats to execute nine Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage in retaliation for the pro-Assad involvement of Lebanese Shiite militia of Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict. <br />Father Karam, spoke at the emergency summit on the Middle East these days in Rome and draws attention to the contradictions and ambiguities that mark the attitude of the international community and especially of some Western powers faced with the convulsive developments in the Middle East. "Obviously", notes the Lebanese priest "someone follows out the plan to reshape the Middle East by fomenting the creation of micro-states on ethnic-religious basis. <br />According to Father Karam, also a way of addressing the plight of Christians and other minorities fit into the plans aimed at overturning the current Middle East framework: "The new Middle East drawn from these strategists of chaos" noted the President of Caritas Lebanon "is a fragmented region and always drowned in ethnic-religious conflicts, where there is no place for Christians. What makes one think is the fact that the United States and other Western nations move swiftly to grant visas and permits for asylum to Christians with preferential procedures. But we do not accept this. We will never allow to be treated as guests in a land that is also ours". Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Execution of a person sentenced to death has been suspended - A Pakistani court in Rawalpindi has suspended the execution of the Muslim Shoaib Sarwar, previously fixed for September 18, who was sentenced to death for murder. As Fides learns, local officials have announced that the commitment for trial has value until 13 October. In recent days, NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but also the Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Pakistani bishops, had asked to stop the execution . <br />There will be a National Convention of civil society organizations, including the Commission of Bishops who will meet in Lahore on September 26 with regards to the campaign for the abolition of the death penalty. The Church of Pakistan expresses its satisfaction about the news of the suspension. Msg. Joseph Arshad, Bishop of Faisalabad told Fides: "The Church always defends the supreme value of human life. Life is a gift of God that no man can take away".<br />There are more than 8,000 prisoners on death row in Pakistan, awaiting execution. Last year the government of Nawaz Sharif had expressed its desire to keep the moratorium on capital punishment. Some EU officials have said that if Pakistan had resumed executions, it could undermine trade agreements with EU. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - XV national meeting of the pastoral care of human mobility: "Listening to the migrant brother is like listening to the voice of Jesus"án - "Listening to the migrant brother is like listening to the voice of Jesus. Hence our mission is to restore the dignity of the migrant ... Today, the agent of the pastoral, priest, religious or lay person, is called by the Pilgrim God to build the Kingdom of justice and solidarity in the world of human mobility", says His Exc. Mgr. Emilio Carlos Berlie Belaunzarán, Archbishop of Yucatán, in the opening Mass of the XV National Meeting on human Mobility. <br />The event takes place in Yucatán from September 16 to 19 and with the presence of several Bishops engaged in the pastoral care of migrants. <br />After Mass a press conference was held to highlight the main points of the meeting: "We want to support and help the migrants, which is what we have been doing for some time, but we want to improve even more in the face of new realities with which we are confronted today", said Auxiliary Bishop of Puebla and Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mexico, Mgr. Eugenio Lira Rugarcía. <br />Migration in Mexixco is very difficult to handle and recently there has also been an increasing number of children who are involved in this situation . The Church in Mexico is perhaps the only non-governmental institution that assists and protects this group that is gradually becoming a "floating population" in the Country. A population of the suburbs, which is why this year, in preparation for the event, contributions were sought on the reflections of the "missionary disciple that brings the Gospel to the peripheries of the world". Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/COTE D'IVOIRE - "The Church has to monitor society so that it does not go adrift", says the President of the Episcopal Conference - The Ivory Coast is still suffering the consequences of the political and institutional crisis that lasted more than 10 years, which ended in 2011 with the intervention of the UN and French troops, which resulted in the arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo and in the assignment of current President Alassane Ouattara. The Country is preparing to also experience the presidential elections to be held in 2015. <br />These issues were the subject of a conversation that Fides Agency had with His Exc. Mgr. Alexis Touabli Youlo, Bishop of Agboville and President of the Episcopal Conference of Côte d'Ivoire, in Rome for the ad limina visit. <br /><br />Excellency how did the Church live the severe crisis that shook the Ivory Coast for 10 years? <br /><br />The Church is at the heart of the City as the Gaudium et Spes reminds us. And by virtue of this embodied presence in our people, the Church in the Ivory Coast played an important role during the crisis that rocked the Country. The Bishops' Conference met the various protagonists of the crisis on several occasions, including several Presidents of the Republic that followed over the last few years. <br />This work still continues and is carried out by the those that manage the daily political life. For example, with regards to national reconciliation the Church is present in the Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation, whose Vice President is a Catholic Bishop . Church representatives are also present at a regional level of this commission. We are also present in the IEC . <br />Therefore both through ordinary and extraordinary work, in terms of national structures, the Church is present in the life of the Ivory Coast and I think people appreciate it. <br /><br />The humanitarian consequences of the crisis are still felt even in the Country. Just think of the number of displaced persons. What role does the church have to help people in distress? <br /><br />The Church is probably the institution that has had the most important role in the management of the displaced. When people feel they are in danger they go to Catholic parishes. Not only Catholics go but also Muslims and people of every religious denomination or of those who do not profess any religion. <br />To accommodate the displaced all the parishes of the diocese have been mobilized, especially those in the west and south. This effort continues today because there are still internally displaced persons who are unable to return to their homes. <br /><br />How are you preparing yourselves to follow the election of 2015? <br /><br />The Church exercises a supervisory role, as the prophet who vigils society so that it does not go adrift. This is the reason why we have a representative at CEI that ensures that adequate measures are taken so that the elections are regular and are carried out in a calm and peaceful way. Thu, 18 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Join forces for joint action: establishment of the "Red Eclesial Pan-Amazon" - At the headquarters of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Brazil the meeting that led to the establishment of the "Red Eclesial Pan-Amazon" was held in recent days, organized by the Department of Justice and Solidarity of CELAM and by the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil . The meeting was held in Brasilia from September 9 to 12 and involved a large number of representatives of religious congregations and other groups that have mission projects in the region. <br />The note sent to Fides by different sources point out that the vast Amazon basin, known as the Pan-Amazon, has always been a great missionary and pastoral challenge for the Catholic Church. Now it has become urgent to join forces and create avenues for dialogue, cooperation and coordination between all the reality of the Church in the region. <br />Among the topics of discussion at the meeting in Brasilia: macroeconomic major projects, the action of the national government under the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America , the impacts of climate change in the Amazon and in particular, the impact of interventions in the Amazon and the life of the indigenous communities in the region. The meeting ended with the publication of the "Founding of the Red Eclesial Pan-Amazon". Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/JORDAN - King Abdullah II: we will do our best to increase the presence of Arab Christians - In the sectarian conflicts afflicting the Middle East, Jordan wants to represent even in the future "an oasis of security and stability", while pledging to do its utmost to protect the Christian Arabs and increase their presence in the region. This is how - according to Jordan sources consulted by Fides Agency - King Abdullah II outlined the profile of the Country, led by him, in a meeting with government representatives and civil society convened on Tuesday, September 16 to outline the Jordanian position regarding the alarming progression of the jihadists of the Islamic State. <br />In the meeting the Monarch also called intellectuals, religious leaders and media operators to assume their responsibility in countering extremist ideologies that disfigure the true image of Islam. <br />Words of appreciation were expressed by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal: "We welcome refugees in Jordan, and we are not among those who are refugees. Jordan has always been home and refuge for all", the Patriarch stated, referring to recent provisions of the Jordanian government that in recent weeks welcomed in the Hashemite Kingdom hundreds of Christians who fled Iraq. <br />The Thirteenth plenary meeting of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church is being held in a hotel in the Jordanian capital. <br />The body - made up of two representatives from each of the 14 autocephalous Orthodox Churches and many Catholic representatives - has the task to discuss the key issue of the relationship between authority and collegiality in the Church. The ultimate goal of the work of the Commission, at this stage of history, is to see if there is a definition and a way of exercising the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, that may be accepted even by the Orthodox. The commission is co-chaired by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Metropolitan of Pergamon Ioannis Zizioulas, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. <br />During the work - which will end on September 23 - Members of the Commission will also have a meeting with the reality of the refugees who fled from Syria. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Malakal destroyed by the war - testimony of a nun - "There is instability and a large part of the population live in extremely precarious conditions", says Sister Elena Balatti, contacted by Fides Agency in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile State, which has been at the center of fighting between government troops of South Sudan and the rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar . The city that before the Civil War was inhabited by 250,000 people remains a military objective, recalls the Comboni missionary. Despite the ceasefire agreements, the situation remains very tense in the Country, and in these conditions, even the media are affected, as evidenced by, inter alia, the story of the diocesan radio station in Juba . <br />Sister Elena reports the last episode of the war, which happened near the city: "On August 21, at 8:30 am, we heard the roar of the bombing from the front. Like most of the inhabitants of the city, also us Comboni Sisters left the city in 10 minutes, waiting to see the outcome of the battle. We already experienced the ferocity of opposition militias. Malakal saw as many as six attacks within a few months".<br />Among other things, the radio of the diocese, "Sout to Mahaba" , of which Sister Helen is responsible paid the expenses. <br />Sister Elena emotional tells us the damage suffered to what was once the second largest city in South Sudan: "The south of Malakal is the most damaged. In that area there were no brick houses but huts. Now that we are in the rainy season, the vegetation has taken over the huts now destroyed to the point that you can no longer make out the landmarks that existed before the destruction of the area". "People have started to come back but remain cautious.<br />In the evening the city empties, people cross the Nile to visit the surrounding villages, or go back to the UN refugee camp which is located 4 km from Malakal", says the nun. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - "No to the revision of the Constitution, because it puts at risk the stability of the Country", say the Bishops - "The peaceful future of the Democratic Republic of Congo resides unquestionably in compliance with the Constitution", say the Bishops of the DRC in a Pastoral Letter which reiterates their opposition regarding the reform of Article 220 of the Constitution which provides, inter alia, that "the number and term of office of the President of the Republic may not be subject to any constitutional reform". <br />An amendment of the article would allow the mandates of the Head of State to increase to three, instead of two, allowing the incumbent President, Joseph Kabila to run for election in 2016. <br />"Article 220 lays the foundation of the Country's stability and balance of powers in the institutions. Changing it would seriously compromise the harmonious future of the nation" warn the Bishops, who have published their message while they are in Rome for an Ad Limina visit. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/NICARAGUA – The Bishops on Law 779: the reform is urgent, the Church is not the auxiliary of the police - His Exc. Mgr. César Bosco Vivas Robelo, Bishop of Leon, Vice president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua , said that the Sandinista legislator Edwin Castro, chief representative of the ruling party in the current legislature, acknowledged that the Church will not be forced to intervene in family conflicts as an auxiliary of the National Police, according to what is established by law 779, which was approved last July by President Ortega, without consulting the Church. <br />This law, "Comprehensive Law against Violence toward Women", officially recognizes that the religious pastoral Commissions take on the role of auxiliaries of the "Commissaries of Women" and therefore the national police, and are therefore called upon to intervene when it comes to the adoption of precautionary measures. <br />"Castro explained to me that the Church has never been forced - said Mgr. Bosco in the note sent to Fides after the meeting with the politician - and made it clear that the government has told its members to safeguard the family. <br />He also agreed that we Bishops have the right to exercise our ministry with respect, and in no way do they want to create any kind of friction with the Church, much less interfere with the doctrine". Msg. Bosco Vivas, who is also the Head of the Family Pastoral of CEN, adds that this law in practice puts "a kind of straitjacket" to the Church and concluded by saying that, however, there is the willingness of both parties to reform the law. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - 240,000 children return to school in Gaza City - 240,000 children return to United Nations-run classrooms in Gaza where many of their schools have been damaged and destroyed. "After the traumatic 50 days of brutal conflict, death, destruction and massive displacement, we are determined to give the children a sense of renewed hope and better prospects by opening the schools so soon again" reads a note of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA , sent to Fides Agency. Over 90 schools in Gaza were used as shelters for the many people displaced by the bombing during the attacks against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. UNRWA staff has been working day and night to prepare for the students’ return to school. This has been particularly challenging because as of a few days ago, 29 UNRWA school buildings was still serving as a shelter. Top priority now is to provide safety and normality for children within a school. 7 800 teachers have been trained to offer new methods of teaching. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA – The Bishop after the flood: "In Kashmir we are like Ground Zero" - "The State of Jammu and Kashmir has experienced the worst-ever floods in living history and our area is like Ground Zero. The lives and livelihood of the people have been completely upturned. Christians are among the hardest hit". This is what is reported to Fides Agency by His Exc. Mgr. Peter Celestine, Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, who launches an urgent appeal to the international community for humanitarian aid. "Thousands of people are in danger. The population has no means of subsistence", said the Bishop. "The Catholic Church - he explains – is trying to respond to this grim situation. We need to provide urgently, food and drinking water, temporary shelter, medicine for the affected people. Almost 90 per cent of Catholic/Christian families are badly affected besides severe losses to its own institutions". Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Patriarch Twal: the presence of Christian immigrants is an asset for the local church - The presence of Christian immigrants in the Holy Land for work reasons "is an asset for the Church and a gift for the local Christians, often too involved in politics". The Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, has recognized the fundamental contribution of Christian communities formed by migrants who represent an increasingly significant reality in many Israeli cities, starting from the urban area of Tel Aviv. <br />The important sign of esteem and gratitude was expressed by the Patriarch on the occasion of his pastoral visit to the Christian communities of Jaffa during the weekend. As reported by official sources of the Patriarchate, the Patriarch was particularly impressed by the encounter with the vibrant Indian and Filipino community: "in the Church – His Beatitude Twal said in reference to the community of Christian immigrants - those who live in fear of being expelled from the country find refuge, a shelter and a place to live together". During Sunday Mass, the Patriarch stressed the importance of rediscovering the communion among the different communities as a source of mutual enrichment, recognizing that "we are one Church, the Church of God". Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - The Commission "Justice and Peace": stop the executioner, Pakistan must not go back in time - "It is urgent to stop the executioner and not to bring Pakistan back in time. We say 'no' to the execution of the Muslim Shoaib Sarwar, who would be the first civilian after six years, and we ask the government to embark on a path which leads to the abolition of the death penalty": is the appeal entrusted to Fides Agency by Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director of the National Commission "Justice and Peace" of the Catholic Bishops of Pakistan. As announced by the Pakistani authorities, the execution of man - an inmate sentenced to death in 1998 on charges of murder - is scheduled for tomorrow, September 18 in the prison in Rawalpindi. In the country several associations of civil society such as the "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan," and even NGOs such as Amnesty International, have raised their voice asking the government to stop the executioner, officially confirming a moratorium on the death penalty, step towards the abolition . <br />Sarwar’s sentence was confirmed after two appeals were rejected in 2003 and 2006 by the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court. The man is on death row. If executed, he would be the first civilian victim since 2008 . Cecil Shane Chaudhry told Fides: "As Christians we demand the abolition of the death penalty, which is not a useful tool to deter or prevent crime. It is an instrument which affects the dignity of man. In Pakistan many innocent people are in prison and could be killed for miscarriages of justice".<br />According to Chaudhry, "the government of Nawaz Sharif could somehow be pushed to restore capital punishment under pressure from extremist groups" but civil society is against it. On September 26, a convention organized by the "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan" will be held in Lahore where all the movements against the death penalty will be present, including the NCJP. <br />According to Amnesty International, "the suspension of executions in force in Pakistan in recent years is one of the few areas of human rights in Pakistan which registers a positive record. The resumption of executions would be a serious regression". In Pakistan, more than 8,000 prisoners are on death row. Wed, 17 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/COSTA RICA – Poverty and violence afflict 34% of Costa Rica’s children José – One of the worse scourges afflicting minors in Costa Rica today is poverty because it hampers physical, emotional and educational development. Recent figures sent to Fides speak of 34% of the country’s children living in poverty, and of these 10.6% in struggling with extreme poverty. The percentage of cases has risen in recent years despite the fact that in recent decades poverty in the country on the whole has remained between 20% and 22%. According to the National Office for Childhood , last year about 40,000 cases of maltreatment of children were registered, and although not all were confirmed, the majority of cases these situations were real. Every day the Hospital de Niños treats an average of 5 children for injuries caused by violence. Recent initiatives undertaken by PANI include a campaign “Gracias por Cuidarme” to create awareness of the situation of abandon and solitude of so many of the smallest and most vulnerable Costa Ricans. A Hospital report quotes the directress as saying “a child should never be left alone not even for one minute, especially children who are under the age of 12”. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - “Central African crisis not insuperable” says Archbishop of Bangui - “What is happening in Central Africa is not insuperable. If we help one another, listen to one another and respect one another the crisis can be overcome” this was said by Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, during a meeting of a delegation of young Rwandans with the Transition President Catherine Samba-Panza. The Archbishop said “the example of Rwanda prepares us and teaches us to avoid the worst”.<br />The young Rwandans were invited to Central Africa following a visit made to Kigali by Central African religious leaders. “We went to see what happened in Rwanda and we invited these young people to come to visit our country” Bishop Nzapalainga recalled.<br />The Central African Republic is still in the process of exiting from a serious crisis which originated with clashes between former Seleka rebels and Anti Balaka militia which threw the country into chaos. On 15 September United Nations Organisation troops replaced the African Union mission MISCA until then deployed in the country.<br />Pope Francis, after the midday Angelus prayer on Sunday 14 September, said he hoped that the UN troops would guarantee “protection for the civilian population affected by the present conflict”. “May violence swiftly give way to dialogue – the Pope said – may the opposing parties set particular interests aside and work to enable every citizen whatever their ethnic origin or religion, to work together for the common good”. .Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA – Death sentence for military: insecurity symptom among troops combatting Boko Haram - “The death penalty given to mutineer soldiers is a symptom of insecurity in the Nigerian army. For some time soldiers have said they cannot go to fight Boko Haram with weapons inferior to those of their adversaries” Fides learned from Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Social Communications Director at the Catholic diocese in the capital Abuja, where yesterday 15 September, soldiers of the Nigerian army were condemned to death for mutiny and attempted murder in May when they plotted to kill their commander in Maiduguri, main city of the state of Borno.<br />“Yesterday’s sentence was an example for military who refuse to fight against Boko Haram. The sentence, rumoured for three weeks, probably aims to convince the military to make a greater effort to combat the Islamist sect” the priest says .<br />In the meantime in the State of Kogi, central Nigeria, a military convoy has been attacked by an armed group reportedly connected with Boko Haram. “Kogi lies in central Nigeria, about 150 km south of Abuja, the federal capital, here about 30% of the population is Muslim. A year ago in Kogi state a university professor was charged with being connected with Boko Haram. Clandestine cells of the Islamist had been found in Kogi in the past” Fr. Patrick recalls.<br />“This shows once again that cells of Boko Haram exist also in other states besides those in the north-east where most of the forces of the sect are found” the priest remarks .<br />According to the Nigerian Press the recent attack was carried out by men well trained and well equipped. “This should not surprise us – says Fr. Patrick -. A good number of Nigerians were recruited into Gheddafi’s Islamic Legion . After the death of the Libyan leader those boys returned to Nigeria, and many joined the ranks of Boko Haram, bringing as a dowry their military training and even weapons taken from Libyan arsenals. Other members of Boko Haram were formerly members of Islamic Maghreb Al Qaida, so military training is not lacking” concludes the Social Communications Director at the Catholic diocese of Abuja. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200