Fides News - Englishhttp://www.fides.org/Fides Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Shaw: "A Ramadan of Dialogue and Peace"http://www.fides.org/en/news/62516-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Archbishop_Shaw_A_Ramadan_of_Dialogue_and_Peacehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62516-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Archbishop_Shaw_A_Ramadan_of_Dialogue_and_PeaceLahore - "We lived an interreligious peace campaign during Ramadan, where we planted olive trees in front of Christian churches, mosques, madrassas, Catholic schools and Islamic institutes. It was a significant and visible initiative where Christian and Muslim religious people and leaders showed that they want to work together for coexistence and peace in Pakistan. We are happy that the holy month of Ramadan was characterized by this common effort and desire for peace", said Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, who is at the head of the archdiocese of Lahore and is president of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. The Archbishop notes to Fides that "interreligious dialogue is a path that we will continue, despite the difficulties and the existence of radical or violent groups who intend to sow interreligious hatred".<br />At the end of Ramadan, the feast of Id-al Fitr will be characterized by convivial moments organized by Pakistani Islamic leaders, in the various dioceses of Pakistan, to which the Christians will participate, as a sign of solidarity, sharing and "good neighborhood".<br />Such meetings during Ramadan have represented the opportunity to show that "the Gospel teaches to respond to evil with good", notes the Archbishop, as evidenced by a recent episode: after the tragic death of Christian worker Irfan Masih , who died because a Muslim doctor refused to touch and take care of him and said that he was "impure", the association that brings together ecologist operators in Pakistan has organized an Iftar dinner in a church in Lahore, in a sign of friendship and solidarity with the Muslim faithful: "A sign to show the will to be in harmony, despite some painful and negative episodes", notes the Archbishop. "In the name of our brother Irfan Masih, we invite all religious communities to gather in the name of common humanity. We are men and women created by God in our beloved homeland. Our religions teach us to love. We walk together", said the Christian leaders, organizers of the event.<br />Similar initiatives were also held in the diocese of Faisalabad, where the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue organized a "iftar dinner" in recent days hosting numerous Muslim religious leaders to strengthen the relations of peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians". On this occasion, Fr. Nisar Barkat read Pope Francis's wishes for Ramadan. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:32:14 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch: "sadness and concern" for the issue of Iraqi Christians whom the US government wants to expelhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62515-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarch_sadness_and_concern_for_the_issue_of_Iraqi_Christians_whom_the_US_government_wants_to_expelhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62515-ASIA_IRAQ_Chaldean_Patriarch_sadness_and_concern_for_the_issue_of_Iraqi_Christians_whom_the_US_government_wants_to_expelBaghdad - The Chaldean Church closely follows, with sadness and concern, the developments in the judicial proceedings with which the United States of America is preparing to expel 114 Iraqis, largely Chaldean Christians, arrested and affected by the expulsion measure, due to new measures taken by Trump’s administration to counter migratory flows from Middle Eastern Countries, considered at risk of terrorist infiltration. In a letter sent to Chaldean Bishop Frank Kalabat, at the head of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Detroit, the Patriarch expresses solidarity and closeness to Iraqi families affected by expulsion orders and hopes that the US government finds adequate solutions to the humanitarian emergency caused by the expulsion measures, also directed against familes with young children, who live and work in the US. The Patriarch notes that many of the Iraqi refugees have lived in the US for a long time, and cannot be suspected of representing a danger to US national security. In the patriarchal letter, it also refers that the government of Baghdad has declared its impossibility to interfere with what represents a "sovereign decision" of another Country. The issue - the Patriarch adds in his letter - can still help everyone to understand the importance of having legal documents that guarantee their status from a legal point of view.<br />Iraqi Chaldean Christians affected by expulsion measures were arrested in Detroit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement policemen on June 12th. Most of them are men who have resided in the States for decades. The operation follows the agreement between the United States and Iraq, with which the government of Baghdad agreed to host a number of Iraqi citizens subjected to the expulsion measure, in order to be be removed from the blacklist of nations affected by the so-called " Muslim ban", the ban President Donald Trump wanted to prevent access to the US regarding citizens from six Countries with a Muslim majority considered as potential "exporters" of terrorists. Some of the Christians arrested had in the past had problems with justice, an element which according to the police would justify the decision to subject them to the measure of forced repatriation in Iraq. On Thursday, June 22, district court judge Mark Goldsmith suspended the expulsion proceedings for 14 days, during which he will have to decide whether his court has jurisdiction to rule on the whole affair. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 13:10:32 +0200AMERICA/ANTILLE - Appointment of the Bishop of St. George's in Grenadahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62514-AMERICA_ANTILLE_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_St_George_s_in_Grenadahttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62514-AMERICA_ANTILLE_Appointment_of_the_Bishop_of_St_George_s_in_GrenadaVatican City – Today the Holy Father appointed Rev. Clyde Martin Harvey, of the clergy of Port of Spain, Parish priest and Episcopal Vicar of the clergy, as Bishop of the diocese of St. George's in Grenada. <br />Rev. Clyde Martin Harvey was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Antilles on November 9, 1948. He attended primary and secondary schools in Belmont district. After discovering priesthood vocation, he followed the philosophical and theological formation course at the Regional Seminary of St. John Maria Vianney and Uganda Martyrs in Trinidad and Tobago. He was ordained a priest on June 27, 1976.<br />Since his priestly ordination he has served the following academic and pastoral roles: since 1976: Professor of Philosophy, Archdiocese of Port of Spain; 1976-1979: Formator and Vice-Rector of the Regional Seminary of St. John Maria Vianney and Uganda Martyrs; 1979-1985: Parish priest in Morvant and Laventille; 1985: Brief Specialization Course at Lancaster University, England; 1985-1988: Higher Studies at the Graduate School of Theology at the University of Berkeley, California; 1988-1996: Parish priest in Maloney; 1997-2007: Parish priest in San Fernando; 2007-2016: Parish priest at Gonzales and Holy Rosary; Since 2011: Episcopal Vicar for the Clergy.<br /> St. George's Diocese, erected in 1956, covers the entire territory of Grenada and the Grenadines . It now has a population of 104,000, almost entirely of African-Caribbean ethnicity. 40,000 are Catholics , but they are declining. The Diocese is divided into 21 parishes, 5 of which are administered by a permanent Deacon or layman. There are 25 priests, 14 of whom are religious, 7 permanent deacons, 5 religious brothers and 34 religious sisters. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:51:57 +0200AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Violent clashes in Bria, in the east of the Countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62513-AFRICA_CENTRAL_AFRICA_Violent_clashes_in_Bria_in_the_east_of_the_Countryhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62513-AFRICA_CENTRAL_AFRICA_Violent_clashes_in_Bria_in_the_east_of_the_CountryBangui - "Unfortunately, the situation in Central Africa is deteriorating despite the peace agreements signed on June 19 in Rome", say Missionary sources to Agenzia Fides, from Bangui, the capital of the Central Africa Republic. "In Bangui, the situation is calm. What is causing concern are the clashes in other areas of the country. In particular in Bria, where 40 have died, maybe even 100".<br />Bria, in the east of the Country, is a strategic city for controlling the mining resources of the area, especially diamonds. According to agency news, clashes arise from an internal division of the Front Populaire for the Renaissance de la Centrafrique , one of the various armed groups born out of the former rebel Seleka alliance. However, FPRC denied that it had been implicated and accused the anti-balaka of attacking the city where several people sought shelter in the Catholic parish.<br />On 19 June, thanks to the mediation of Sant'Egidio Community, 13 Central African rebels and Bangui government signed an agreement for the immediate ceasefire. The UN Mission in Central Africa , which has deployed 10,000 men in the Country, cannot control the whole territory. MINUSCA is also plagued by scandals such as those of violence and sexual abuse by some of its members. All this has caused the local population to lose confidence in the "Blue Helmets", making the path to the Country's pacification more difficult. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:27:19 +0200AFRICA/CONGO RD - Attack failed in Beni: 13 assailants killedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62512-AFRICA_CONGO_RD_Attack_failed_in_Beni_13_assailants_killedhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62512-AFRICA_CONGO_RD_Attack_failed_in_Beni_13_assailants_killedKinshasa - 13 rebels killed, 13 captured and 6 injured, is the official toll of yesterday’s attack, 22 June, against the city of Beni in northern Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo .<br />According to a note sent by the local NGO CEPADHO, there are apparently two deaths among the files of the Congolese armed forces , two wounded policemen while some teachers and pupils were wounded when a grenade hit the classroom of a school.<br />The Congolese authorities say that the attackers belong to a local Mai-Mai militia, but the Congolese press and local NGO CEPADHO claim that they belong to a coalition of rebel groups called Mouvement National des Révolutionnaires . A fact, confirmed by an army spokesman, is that among the assailants there are some of the 930 inmates who escaped on June 11 from the central prison of Beni.<br />According to CEPADHO, the assailants came from Supa-Kalu, 15 km from Beni, and attacked several neighborhoods in the city. The situation in Beni is calm, but according to independent observers, MNR is a new threat to the stability of North Kivu, threatened by the presence of numerous armed groups. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:44:08 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Church mediates for the release of journalists kidnapped in the north of Santanderhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62511-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_Church_mediates_for_the_release_of_journalists_kidnapped_in_the_north_of_Santanderhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62511-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_The_Church_mediates_for_the_release_of_journalists_kidnapped_in_the_north_of_SantanderBogotà - "ELN rebels in a conflict area of northeastern Colombia informs that the two Dutch kidnapped are in good health and will be released with a statement", reads the social media account of the guerrillas. According to the note sent to Fides by a local radio, ELN confirmed it kidnapped 62-year-old Derk Johannes Bolt and 58-year-old Eugenio Ernest Marie Follender. Both were kidnapped on June 19 in El Tarra, north of Santander.<br />A government representative and members of the Catholic Church contacted the ELN group for their release, which could happen today.<br />On June 21, Mgr. Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, Archbishop of Tunja and President of the Colombian Bishops' Conference, issued a statement in which it states that the Church will mediate. As the Bishops Conference announces, "ELN has been called upon to cease the bilateral fire and set the benchmarks in the path to peace".<br />The journalists kidnapped worked for the Spoorloos program, which helps Dutch settlers to find their biological families around the world. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 11:26:56 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The cry of the Bishops: "In the name of God, do not kill young Venezuelans anymore"http://www.fides.org/en/news/62510-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_cry_of_the_Bishops_In_the_name_of_God_do_not_kill_young_Venezuelans_anymorehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62510-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_The_cry_of_the_Bishops_In_the_name_of_God_do_not_kill_young_Venezuelans_anymoreCaracas - "In the name of God, do not kill young Venezuelans. Their great sin is not to believe in a future that resembles the present". This is what Mgr. Oswaldo Azuaje Pérez, O.C.D., Bishop of Trujillo said in his Twitter account. There are numerous expressions of solidarity in recent hours for the violent death of another young young man in Venezuela.<br />The appeal is now international. Mgr. Silvio Josè Baez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, wrote to Fides: "I join my voice to that of my Carmelite brother, Mgr. Azuaje, and I say: In God's Name: Do not kill young Venezuelans anymore". Then he remembered the words of the Holy Father: "An apostle cannot be naive, he must denounce, with name and last name" .<br />Yesterday, Thursday, June 22, a young man of the opposition was killed by a military during a demonstration on the umpteenth day of violence fueled by the conflict on the Constituent Assembly convened by President Nicolas Maduro. David Vallenilla, 22, died after having been shot three times during the riots in front of La Carlota Military Air Base in Caracas. 75 people have died since April 1, according to agency data. Even today President Maduro spoke to the country to reiterate that "the Constituent Assembly is moving forward and we will build peace", but the opposition is calling for other demonstrations to stop this process. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:35:52 +0200AFRICA/BENIN - Record of cotton production: almost half a million tonshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62509-AFRICA_BENIN_Record_of_cotton_production_almost_half_a_million_tonshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62509-AFRICA_BENIN_Record_of_cotton_production_almost_half_a_million_tonsPorto Novo - According to estimates from the Ministry of Economy, the cotton production in Benin has reached record levels of almost half a million tonnes. For years, "white gold" did not record such figures. 260,000 tonnes were collected last year, while this year, from November to June, the quantity has doubled to 453,012 tonnes. The commitment of some members of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives for Cotton Production is to bring production in 2018 even higher. <br />Fri, 23 Jun 2017 10:20:14 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - The Chaldean Church: pain and sadness for the victims and the destruction of the Great Mosque in Mosulhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62508-ASIA_IRAQ_The_Chaldean_Church_pain_and_sadness_for_the_victims_and_the_destruction_of_the_Great_Mosque_in_Mosulhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62508-ASIA_IRAQ_The_Chaldean_Church_pain_and_sadness_for_the_victims_and_the_destruction_of_the_Great_Mosque_in_MosulMosul – The Chaldean Church expresses sadness for the destruction of the al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, renowned for the pending minaret, and reaffirms its sadness for the victims of the bombings and for all the people who continue to suffer from thirst, hunger and lack of medicine. An official statement issued by the media of the Chaldean Patriarchate, also expressed the hope that, in the face of today's suffering, the hearts of the Iraqis will lead them to the desire to build together peaceful and fruitful coexistence.<br />While Iraqi troops accused Sunni jihadists of attacking the famous mosque, militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State replied that it was a US raid that destroyed the sacred building. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:13:11 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - A Bible in every familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62507-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_A_Bible_in_every_familyhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62507-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_A_Bible_in_every_familyManila – To distribute a copy of the Bible to every family in the Philippines: The project started in 2008 is becoming a reality thanks to the project "May They Be One Bible Campaign": says the Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, Broderick Pabillo, President of the Advisory Committee for the project to Agenzia Fides. "The great project of evangelization - he explains to Fides – had begun in order to give a Bible to five million poor households in the country. Then it expanded, thanks to the involvement of all 86 Catholic dioceses in the country". The project provides for formation programs and Bible study for all those who have received a Bible. A total of 1,897 parishes participated in the Bible distribution and formation activities, in collaboration with the Association of the Major Superiors in the Philippines, the Laity Council of the Philippines, the Catholic Bible Society, the Sacramentan Fathers and the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate in the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines.<br />As Fides learns, since 2008, over two million copies of the Bible have been distributed: in 2015, about 450,000 copies and in 2016, 500,000, as the number of partner organizations, interested in contributing to the project increases.<br />"In many families, the daily and common reading of the Word of God has begun, with abundant fruits in the life of the family", the Bishop says.<br />Among the stories collected from the campaign there are many which are very uplifting: a physician from Zambales Province regularly shares the Word of God with detainees; a young man from Atimonan shares his passion for the Bible with younger children; a missionary nun from Mexico leads young Filipinos to announce the Word of God in several communities in Manila and Batangas ; and many other experiences of evangelization.<br />"The Bible is the Word of God. It leads people to a blessed and serene life, because put in God's hands", explains Bishop Pabillo, inviting all the faithful to sponsor the Bible's distribution and reading campaign.<br />The next phase of the campaign provides for ecumenical initiatives to make the Bible a meeting point and of sharing of Christians of different confessions. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:03:33 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - OAS Assembly: the Holy See asks to allow the entry of food and medicine and to define the date of the electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62506-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_OAS_Assembly_the_Holy_See_asks_to_allow_the_entry_of_food_and_medicine_and_to_define_the_date_of_the_electionshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62506-AMERICA_VENEZUELA_OAS_Assembly_the_Holy_See_asks_to_allow_the_entry_of_food_and_medicine_and_to_define_the_date_of_the_electionsCancun – To allow food and medicine to enter, define the date of the elections and free political prisoners: these are the three priorities that Pope Francis and the Holy See have asked in the face of the dramatic situation in Venezuela. Mgr. Bernardito Auza pointed this out through his Permanent Observer at the 47th General Assembly of the Organization of American States , in the meeting held in Cancun, Mexico, from 19 to 21 June 2017.<br />The Holy See reiterates its position on the serious situation of Venezuela. Since the beginning of the crisis, Mgr. Auza, the Pope, the Vatican Secretary of State and the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference have repeatedly asked institutions and the political forces to overcome their ideological interests and to listen to the voice of the people. The Holy See has always urged all political leaders to commit themselves to putting an end to violence.<br />The government's recent decision to convene a Constituent Assembly, says Mgr. Auza, can complicate the situation and jeopardize the country's democratic future. It is appreciated, however, that a group of Countries in the region or maybe other Continents chosen by both the government and the opposition can accompany the negotiation as guarantors, concluded the Vatican observer.<br />Since the beginning of April, there have been at least 75 victims following the clashes between demonstrators and police forces and violence does not stop. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:41:59 +0200AFRICA/CONGO RD - Clashes in the city of Beni between the army and a coalition of rebelshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62505-AFRICA_CONGO_RD_Clashes_in_the_city_of_Beni_between_the_army_and_a_coalition_of_rebelshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62505-AFRICA_CONGO_RD_Clashes_in_the_city_of_Beni_between_the_army_and_a_coalition_of_rebelsKinshasa – Strong clashes occurred this morning, June 22, in Beni in the province of North Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, the clashes between the regular members of the Congolese Armed Forces and a rebel group began at dawn with the use of light and heavy weapons on both sides.<br />A communiqué on June 21 sent to Agenzia Fides, by CEPADHO, a local NGO for the protection of human rights, reported the training of a new armed group, called Mouvement National des Révolutionnaires in the area. The new formation brings together men from previous armed groups active in North Kivu and hundreds of prisoners who escaped from Butembo Prison on June 11. This is most likely the group that is attacking Beni in these hours.<br />According to CEPADHO, MNR has already attacked at least three villages in the area between Butembo and Beni, and is about to strike these two cities.<br />"Considering the impressive logistical capabilities of this rebel coalition, many are convinced that they have external support that must be dismantled", says the note.<br />North Kivu has been plagued by local and foreign armed groups for decades and have illegally exploited the huge resources of its territory . <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:28:28 +0200AFRICA - Half a million African children learn to read and write thanks to the initiative of other African girlshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62504-AFRICA_Half_a_million_African_children_learn_to_read_and_write_thanks_to_the_initiative_of_other_African_girlshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62504-AFRICA_Half_a_million_African_children_learn_to_read_and_write_thanks_to_the_initiative_of_other_African_girlsAbidjan - The African Children and Young Workers Movement has allowed the literacy of over half a million boys and girls in Africa. MAEJT was born in 1994, when a group of illiterate girls in Côte d'Ivoire, in extreme poverty and forced to work, began gathering and organizing themselves to claim their rights. They also drew up a Charter with 12 rights to be respected. Currently, this small initiative has become a self-sustained movement, present in 27 African countries, with over one million members and sympathizers. MAEJT deals with child protection in the face of ill-treatment and abuses committed in communities, promotes emotional support and social education for a future perspective, it also encourages schooling, literacy and health education for these groups . <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:17:34 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The drama of illegal migrants: where are the African politicians?http://www.fides.org/en/news/62503-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_The_drama_of_illegal_migrants_where_are_the_African_politicianshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62503-AFRICA_IVORY_COAST_The_drama_of_illegal_migrants_where_are_the_African_politiciansAbidjan - "I am sad to see that several ministers had been invited for this constructive exchange of views, but only one came. Others preferred to go to the opening of a casino", said Fr. Norbert Éric Abekan, in his speech, during a meeting at the World Refugee Day, held on June 20 at the Institut français in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.<br />The Catholic priest underlined that clandestine migration "is an across the board issue that involves everyone. "As a priest, during my travels, Ivorians living abroad come up to me, and those who are undocumented do different jobs and live hidden with the fear of repatriation. We have the responsibility of trying to discourage young people to embark on the path of clandestine migration".<br />According to Imam Issouf Doumbia, who lived in the United States for 14 years, families have a strong responsibility in pushing their children to try the path of illegal migration. "It is serious when a 14-year-old boy says he has to make a living to help the family. It is shocking when a girl says that her absence is not noticeable in her family because there are so many", said the Imam.<br />For local politicians, the drama of clandestine migration of their fellow countrymen, as noted by Fr. Abekan, does not seem to be as important as opening a new casino. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 12:13:27 +0200AMERICA/PARAGUAY - Alcohol addiction alarm regarding street children: from glue to marijuana, to "chespi"http://www.fides.org/en/news/62502-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Alcohol_addiction_alarm_regarding_street_children_from_glue_to_marijuana_to_chespihttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62502-AMERICA_PARAGUAY_Alcohol_addiction_alarm_regarding_street_children_from_glue_to_marijuana_to_chespiAsunciòn - Every day, the National Center for Drug Addiction in Paraguay receives hundreds of people with drug problems. However, the most alarming phenomenon is the many street children who go there to be treated. They start consuming mainly glue, then marijuana, and finally more harmful drugs and especially cheap drugs, such as crack. Many of these children are victims of micro-traffickers, who "pay them with a little of what they sell" as long as they persuade other children to make use of it and make them become customers.<br />According to the news sent to Fides, at present there are 12 children in the Center from 7 to 14 years of age. Since the beginning of the year, more than 184 adult patients have been admitted, as well as 147 young people and 355 pediatric cases. Once the child is admitted, after a series of psychological tests, the operators pass on to the second stage, the most difficult, which is abstinence. Often, unfortunately, the victims interrupt therapy, become aggressive and violent, and abandon the center. There are 142 operators engaged in the assistance. It is the only center at a national level, although there are other private ones, but they are not affordable due to the high costs. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:58:52 +0200ASIA/LEBANON - Youssef Absi is the new Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62501-ASIA_LEBANON_Youssef_Absi_is_the_new_Greek_Melkite_Catholic_Patriarchhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62501-ASIA_LEBANON_Youssef_Absi_is_the_new_Greek_Melkite_Catholic_PatriarchAin Traz - Youssef Absi is the new Greek-Melkite Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and of the East. 29 Greek-Melkite Catholic Bishops, gathered in the Electoral Synodal Assembly, elected him on Monday, June 19, at the seat of the ancient Seminary of Ain Traz, southwest of Beirut. The election took place in the late morning of Wednesday, June 21st. To be elected, the new Patriarch had to obtain at least two-thirds of the votes. After the election, the new Primate of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church received the "Ecclesiastical Communio" by Pope Francis, and announced that he would take the name of Yousseff, as Patriarch.<br />Yousseff Absi turned 71 on June 20, he was born in Damascus but also has US citizenship. He belongs to the Missionary Society of Saint Paul, born in the twentieth century within the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church with the intent of nurturing the spiritual life of the faithful, especially through preaching and popular missions. He lived the time of his formation in the novitiate of Gap . He was ordained a priest by Patriarch Maximos V on 6 May 1973. He was then elected Superior General of the Missionary Society of St. Paul on July 13, 1999, but two years later he was elected Patriarchal Auxiliary and titular Archbishop of Tarso. On October 13, 2006, Patriarch Gregorios III, his predecessor, appointed him Patriarchal Vicar.<br />The election of the new Patriarch follows the resignation of the patriarchal mandate of 85-year-old Patriarch Gregory III Laham. The election of Bishop Absi comes a month after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Gregorius III Latham.<br />The election of the new Patriarch marks the epilogue of a phase of tension and misunderstanding within the Greek-Melkite ecclesial hierarchy. Agenzia Fides, 22/6/2017)<br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 11:51:08 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Appointment of the Rector of the "Good Shepherd" major Seminary in Coimbatorehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62500-ASIA_INDIA_Appointment_of_the_Rector_of_the_Good_Shepherd_major_Seminary_in_Coimbatorehttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62500-ASIA_INDIA_Appointment_of_the_Rector_of_the_Good_Shepherd_major_Seminary_in_CoimbatoreVatican City - On January 5, 2017, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Stanislas Savarimuthu, of the diocesan clergy of Pondicherry-Cuddalore as Rector of the "Good Shepherd" Interdiocesan Major Seminary in the Diocese of Coimbatore, India.<br />The new rector was born on November 6, 1965 and was ordained a priest on April 30, 1992. He holds a PhD in Biblical Theology. He has been a formator for 19 years at the St. Peter's Seminary in Bangalore. He was then appointed Acting Rector of the same Seminary and Vicerector. He was a pastor in various communities; Secretary of the diocesan Commission of Tiruchirapalli for the bible, catechesis and liturgy; Regional secretary of the liturgical Commission of Tamilnadu; Professor of liturgy; has held seminars and conferences for priests and nuns. He is the author of books and articles in English and Tamil. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:46:23 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - To agree on a bilateral ceasefire, a first step in the dialogue between the Government and ELNhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62499-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_To_agree_on_a_bilateral_ceasefire_a_first_step_in_the_dialogue_between_the_Government_and_ELNhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62499-AMERICA_COLOMBIA_To_agree_on_a_bilateral_ceasefire_a_first_step_in_the_dialogue_between_the_Government_and_ELNBogota - On June 13, the government informed the delegation of the National Liberation Army , at the headquarters of the peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, on "the willingness to immediately begin studying the conditions to agree on a possible bilateral ceasefire". The decision is contained in a letter of reply to the Catholic Church of Colombia, by the government peace negotiator in talks with the guerrillas, Juan Camilo Restrepo.<br />In previous days, several Bishops, including Cardinal Rubén Salazar and Mgr. Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga, President of the Colombian Bishops' Conference , urged the government and the National Liberation Army to agree on a bilateral ceasefire, and to put an end to hostilities, in order to "take the first step" on the occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia in September.<br />The Bishop's request at the dialogue Table "came at an appropriate time, not only because we realize that the priority for the affected Colombian areas is to put an end to this conflict with ELN, in particular the actions against the civilian population, also because it is the government’s decision to continue building lasting peace", said Restrepo to the local press.<br />Dialogue between government and ELN opened on February 7, 2017 in the capital of Ecuador, Quito . In the Message of the 101st Plenary Assembly of the Bishops of Colombia on July 8, 2016, it is clearly written that ELN guerrillas are called to "interpret the wish of peace of all Colombians, to open the door to dialogue and the construction of a country with social justice ensured by political participation and not by weapons". It was mainly ELN that asked for the Church's participation in peace talks. <br />Thu, 22 Jun 2017 10:39:07 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Filipino Muslims are victims of ISIS: no war of religionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62498-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Filipino_Muslims_are_victims_of_ISIS_no_war_of_religionhttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62498-ASIA_PHILIPPINES_Filipino_Muslims_are_victims_of_ISIS_no_war_of_religionZamboanga city - "The ideological influence of Islam on young Filipino Muslims is not to be underestimated, but the majority of Muslims in Mindanao do not support the Caliphate, does not want violence. And the Muslims of Marawi are the first victims of ISIS": this is the analysis released to Fides by Fr. Angel Calvo, Spanish Claretian missionary, for 40 years in Mindanao, southern Philippines, engaged in Zamboanga in the "Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace", which promotes peaceful education and coexistence programs between Christian and Muslim communities. This morning, a group of 300 militants from the "Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters" jihadist group attacked the village of Malagakit, in the province of North Cotabato, breaking into a school, and took hostages.<br />There is a climate of insecurity in Mindanao. Fr. Angel Calvo explains to Fides: "Terrorist action in Marawi and now the attack in North Cotabato have been a surprise: in fact, they are territories controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But the survival from 26 years of terrorist groups such as Abu Sayyaf is significant. Today, the rebirth of radical ideology, thanks to the Islamic State, can influence young people and reopen the widespread violence in Mindanao, also thanks to the propaganda that is being done in some madrasas. The Maute group, which occupied Marawi, joined Abu Sayyaf and other foreign fighters trained abroad. In addition, the network has the support of narcotraffickers who provide funding and weapons". The situation is rather complex, the missionary notes, recalling old and new claims: "Some young jihadists in Marawi, said they were ready to die fighting. It is difficult for the army to solve such a situation. Then we do not know what the psychological impact this affair will have on people and we will have to rebuild Marawi, now in ruins. One thing can be said with certainty: Muslims are the first victims of jihadists, as well as Christians. There is no religious war between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao, but only a common desire to build peace and coexistence". <br />Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:34:28 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Assyrian Patriarch Gewargis III visits Telkaif and meets the head of the "Babylonian Brigades"http://www.fides.org/en/news/62497-ASIA_IRAQ_Assyrian_Patriarch_Gewargis_III_visits_Telkaif_and_meets_the_head_of_the_Babylonian_Brigadeshttp://www.fides.org/en/news/62497-ASIA_IRAQ_Assyrian_Patriarch_Gewargis_III_visits_Telkaif_and_meets_the_head_of_the_Babylonian_BrigadesMosul - Mar Gewargis III, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, visited the territories of the Nineveh Plain, liberated from the occupation of the militia of the Islamic State . During his visit on Saturday, June 17, the Primate of the Assyrian Church met with Ryan al Keldani, in Telkaif, head of the so-called "Babylonian Brigades", formation of the popular protection militias who in recent months have sought to carve out a role in the anti-jihadist military operations, insisting on the presence of Christian militias in their ranks. According to information by the "Babylonian Brigades" and relaunched by local media, the Assyrian Patriarch expressed words of praise and admiration for the "courage" shown by the popular protection militias and the contribution they provided in the liberation of the Nineveh Plain.<br />In the past, several times, the Chaldean Patriarch had expressed unequivocal distances regarding the "Babylonian Brigades" and attempts to accredit the presence of "Christian" militias on Iraqi war scenarios. In March 2016, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako had strongly reaffirmed that the Chaldean Church "has no direct or indirect links with the so-called Babylonian Brigades, nor with any other armed militia that appears as a Christian". In February last year , the Chaldean Patriarchate had also distanced himself from Ryan al Keldani, after the militian, in a television program, had argued that even Christian armed groups had organized themselves to participate in the battle of Mosul and take revenge on Sunni Muslims. On that occasion, the Chaldean Patriarchate immediately issued an official statement in which it was strongly emphasized that Ryan 'the Chaldean' has no connection with the morality taught by Christ, messenger of peace, love and forgiveness, and cannot "make such statements involving Christians", as "it does not represent them in any way". <br />Wed, 21 Jun 2017 13:20:36 +0200