Fides News English Agency Newsen-usAMERICA/BOLIVIA - Radio and TV to announce the Gospel in the Vicariate of Nuflo de Chavez de Chavez - The parish of San Julian of the Apostolic Vicariate of Nuflo de Chavez is working on a radio-television center of the parish. The community of 160 thousand people is looking forward to the realization of this highly anticipated project, as much of the territory is not covered by the Internet and therefore the only means of communication are radio and television. Engineers began to install transmission equipment on May 22. "All this great effort that our local Church is making is to spread the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ" highlights the note of the Vicariate sent to Fides.<br />The Vicariate of Nuflo de Chavez is located in the department of Santa Cruz de la Sierra . Its territory includes more than 80,000 square kilometers divided between the two provinces of the department: Nuflo de Chavez and Guarayos. There are about 160,000 people living in these two provinces. The Apostolic Vicariate of Nuflo de Chavez was created in 1951 and currently has 17 parishes divided into three areas: Chiquitos , Guarayos and Tierras Bajas . Wed, 27 May 2015 12:50:33 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Assyrian hostages: jihadists release two womené - Two elderly women in the group of more than 230 Assyrian Christians taken hostage in February by the State Islamic jihadists in the Syrian north-western region of Jazira, have been released and were admitted to a hospital in Hassaké to be treated for their health problems. We are talking about 80-year-old Ramziyya Rehana, of the village of Tel Jazira, and the 70-year-old Yoniyya Kanun, of the village of Tel Shamiram. According to a report by Assyrian Aina Agency, Mrs. Rehana has a broken femur, while Mrs. Kanun has problems related to under-nutrition.<br />The two women were part of the large group of more than 230 Assyrian Christians taken hostage by jihadists on 23 February, when the militia of the Islamic State attacked the predominantly Assyrian villages scattered along the valley of the river Khabur, forcing the civilian population of the area to a mass exodus. In recent days, all the villages on the river Khabur were freed by Kurdish militias, not without the convergent contribution of the Syrian army and air raids carried out by the US-led military coalition against the positions of the IS. The local population has started to return to their villages of origin - from the village of Tel Tamar – to find churches devastated and houses looted, with crosses eliminated from the places of Christian worship and anti-Christian slogans painted on the walls. Wed, 27 May 2015 12:42:52 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Christian Churches: "Stop the violence, instigated by leaders, most of whom call themselves Christians" - "People are being killed, raped and tortured. . Children are being recruited into armed groups and looting is endemic", denounces the South Sudan Council of Churches, the body that brings together the Christian Churches of South Sudan, including the Catholic Church, in a statement issued on May 26 and sent to Agenzia Fides. The civil war that broke out in December 2013 between the two factions, respectively loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, has so far caused at least 10,000 dead and one million displaced.<br />Despite peace talks have been held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the war continues. "There is no moral justification for the killing to continue", said the message, adding: "it is unacceptable for negotiations about power and positions to take place in luxury hotels while people are still killing and being killed".<br />The church leaders say they "seriously doubt" that South Sudan’s military and political leaders, "most of whom call themselves Christians", will heed their call to stop fighting. "Nevertheless, we want them, along with the citizens of South Sudan and our friends in the region and the international community, to know that we are watching and we are aware of what is happening". Wed, 27 May 2015 12:30:03 +0200AMERICA/BRAZIL - Bishops’ refelection: "Thinking Brazil", social inequalities in Brazil - The second volume of "Thinking Brazil" has been published. The text, approved on the occasion of the general Assembly of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops held in April in Aparecida, deals with social inequalities in Brazil and is a contribution of analysis and search for answers on the subject.<br />In the light of the Gospel, the text deals with situations such as the increase of violence in Brazilian society and corruption, considered endemic, which increases inequality. "We are always invited to research and reflect on this report and on the concrete situations experienced by the children of God", said the auxiliary Bishop of Brasilia and Secretary General of the CNBB, His Exc. Mgr. Leonardo Steiner, in the statement sent to Fides. <br />The series "Thinking Brazil" is an analysis of the Bishops of Brazil on the issues of the country’s reality. Last year the General Assembly of the CNBB approved the first volume, which addressed the theme "Challenges before the 2014 elections", with indications regarding the campaign that was underway . Wed, 27 May 2015 12:18:25 +0200AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - "We are going back to chaos," says a missionary after the vote to remove the President - "The population is discouraged because there is a feeling of returning to the chaos that characterized the political life of the island for years", says to Fides Fr. Luca Trengia, Director of Radio Don Bosco in Madagascar, after Parliament in Antananarivo passed a motion to remove President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, elected in January 2014.<br />Deputies linked to the two former Presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, who challenged each other from 2009 to 2014, after the first had been ousted from power by the second in 2009, voted in favor of removing the President. Their votes join the votes of several members of the presidential majority.<br />"The motion of impeachment of the President is motivated by the fact that he does not respect the Constitution in several points, besides the High Court of Justice has not yet been constituted, a body that was to come into force within one year after the election of the Chief the State", says Fr. Luca. However, the Constitutional Court will approve the vote of Parliament.<br />"At a social level - continues the priest - acts of delinquency have multiplied, the sense of insecurity is widespread, to the point that one cannot go out at night. The population is discouraged". A fact that was denounced by the Bishops of Madagascar in the pastoral letter published on May 13 at the conclusion of their Assembly. "The Malagasy people are suspicious of the lies and empty promises of politicians", the Bishops said, denouncing "the illicit trade of natural resources and the change of the mining law for the benefit of a minority. The current regime worships the god of money selling off Malagasy nation". According to the Bishops, several Malagasy, due to the fact that they do not get protection from the State and in the vain hope of protecting their rights, fall victim of "mafia networks and satanic groups", while others, facing the disaster of public health, rely on "healers". Wed, 27 May 2015 12:05:48 +0200ASIA/ISRAEL - Protest demonstration of Christian schools against discriminatory policies - Christian schools of Israel staged an unprecedented demonstration to denounce the discriminatory policies. Nearly 700 among teachers, parents and children, and religious gathered at 11 am on Wednesday, May 27 in the square in front of Lev Ram building, headquarters of the Ministry of Education, exposing large panels and distributing leaflets in which are expressed the reasons of such unprecedented protest. "It is a peaceful and respectful demonstration, to say that we want to be treated like the others, both at an economic level and with regards to freedom of education" refers to Fides Father Abdel Masih Fahim, director of Christian schools.<br />Christian schools in Israel are attended by 30 thousand students, of whom only half are Christians. Most of them were already active before the establishment of the State of Israel. Achieving high academic results, they form students according to Christian values of love of one’s neighbor, forgiveness and tolerance. Christian schools - says a statement released on the occasion of the event - belong to the category of schools "which are recognized but not public" and receive partial funding from the Ministry. The rest of the cost is covered by the fee paid by parents.<br />For years, the Ministry of Education has tried to reduce the budget of Christian Schools , and this has forced Christian schools to increase the cost at the expense of families. The cut in funding mainly affects parents of the Israeli Arab population where the average family income is below the national average.<br />A committee appointed by Christian Schools in Israel led the negotiations for eight months with the Ministry and the Ministry proposed that schools become public schools. This proposal is interpreted by the owners of schools as the end of Christian educational enterprise, based on Christian values, and a serious blow to the Christian minority in Holy Land. In the light of these facts, Christian schools have stopped the talks. "One is trying to impose teaching system standards already in place in schools in the Arab and Jewish government even in a Christian elementary school", explains Father Abdel Masih Fahim to Fides "which would wipe out the specifics of their educational approach. And teachers are penalized compared to colleagues in other schools, with regards to their rights as workers".<br />Bishops from different Christian Churches, including Bishops William Shomali and Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem also took part in the event. Wed, 27 May 2015 11:47:36 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Tornado among the strongest recorded in the country affects Ciudad Acuña: 14 deaths and massive damage - The tornado that hit Ciudad Acuña on May 25 has killed 13 people, 150 have been injured, 750 houses damaged and 4,000 without electricity. The phenomenon occurred around 6 am in the western part of the city. <br />It is the first phenomenon of its kind in the municipality of Acuña, located in the Mexican state of Coahuila, and one of the strongest recorded in the country. The governor of Coahuila, Ruben Moreira, said that there was no tornado warning, so no one expected such a phenomenon.<br />The Mexican Bishops' Conference has sent Fides a statement in which it informs that Pope Francis expressed in a message addressed to His Exc. Msgr. Alonso G. Garza Trevino, Bishop of Piedras Negras, "his closeness to the victims of the tornado that hit Ciudad Acuña, offering his prayers to God for the eternal rest of the deceased and their families. He also encourages civil and ecclesial institutions and people of good will to provide help to those who have lost their homes. Finally, he sends his blessings to those affected and to those who give assistance". Wed, 27 May 2015 11:31:37 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN – Changes to the blasphemy law: the government's bill, Christians approve - The government of Pakistan is moving to stop the abuse of the blasphemy law: the executive has in fact developed a bill that will be presented and discussed in Parliament for approval.<br />"It is a major step forward", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Saleh Diego, president of the "Justice and Peace" Commission and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Karachi. <br />"We hope and we will see how the debate goes in Parliament. We know that several parties are favorable of stopping the abuse of the blasphemy law. But extremist parties are still very strong". The President of the Commission recalls: "As a Church and as a Christian community in Pakistan, we have been asking to implement mechanisms to stop the abuses for years. We lived and dealt with serious cases in which this law was exploited. It is a matter of justice, as there are many innocent people in prison. Avoiding abuse would be a benefit to society as a whole, for the citizens of all religions, Muslims and Christians, accused unjustly". According to the priest, "the pressures of the international community can be helpful".<br />As Fides learns, the proposal prepared by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, controlled by the Ministry of Justice, is intended to discourage the instrumental use of the law and false accusations, introducing severe penalties for those who formulate false accusations of blasphemy. The bill would amend the procedural shortcomings, introducing new clauses in the protocol to be followed in cases of alleged blasphemy, with the aim of ensuring that no one "does justice alone" but state institutions have to punish the guilty.<br />Among the changes, the new procedure would make it necessary to show the "mens rea" behind an act of blasphemy, a condition which is currently not present. This would mean that a condition for being accused is the precise intention of committing the crime. A fact also considered necessary in the judgment of the Federal Court of Sharia of 1990.<br />In a recent report, the NGO "Human Rights Commission of Pakistan", points out that the abuse of the blasphemy law continues to cause oppression and harassment of innocent citizens. 14 Pakistani citizens are on death row, while another 19 are serving a life sentence on charges of committing blasphemy. The number of cases registered in the last 25 years suggests that the law has been widely abused, often for personal vendettas. According to a report by the Center for Research and Studies on Security, based in Islamabad, since 1990, 52 people accused of blasphemy have been victims of extrajudicial executions. Wed, 27 May 2015 11:18:51 +0200AFRICA/EGYPT - The Council of Christian Churches celebrate the second anniversary of its founding - The second anniversary of the founding of the Council of Christian Churches in Egypt was celebrated at the Cairo headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. On Monday, May 25 all the heads of the Christian churches present in the large North African country were welcomed by Patriarch Tawadros. <br />The meeting, initially scheduled for February 28, was postponed after pictures of the massacre of 21 Coptic Egyptians killed in Libya by jihadists linked to the Islamic State were published. The meeting was also attended by Catholic Coptic Patriarch Isaac Ibrahim Sidrak.<br />The Council of Christian Churches in Egypt was established in February 2013 also to help a common discernment of the facts and phenomena associated with the so-called "Arab Spring" and help the various Christian communities to express a shared position, especially in the areas of policy and social issues. Tue, 26 May 2015 13:42:45 +0200AMERICA/ARGENTINA - The Church's message for the National holiday: no to hatred, play politics with moral integrity Aires - In the Cathedral of Buenos Aires and in the Basilica of Lujan, the Te Deum was celebrated yesterday, according to tradition, on the occasion of the National Holiday celebrations for the anniversary of the May Revolution. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, and the Archbishop of Mercedes and Lujan, His Exc. Mgr. Agustín Roberto Radrizzani, S.D.B. presided Mass in the presence of the highest authorities of the State: President Cristina Kirchner in Lujan and Mauricio Macri, leader of the opposition, in Buenos Aires.<br />According to the note sent to Fides from a local source, the message delivered by the two Archbishops had a single theme: to leave behind divisions, fighting and hatred, reject the idea of "opponent and enemy". Cardinal Poli asked the presidential candidates, including Mauricio Macri, who were present, "to take the country on their shoulders" and try to practice the art of politics "with moral integrity".<br />Last year, after 10 years of absence, President Cristina Kirchner participated in the Te Deum for the national holiday in the Metropolitan Cathedral , but this year, election year, for several reasons she preferred to go to Lujan. Tue, 26 May 2015 13:38:17 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Pentecost of the Chinese community, on the Day of Prayer for China Jia Zhuang - "Let us pray for the Church in China, that faces major challenges in the life of the Church and society. Let us pray so that the Holy Spirit guides us ... and may Our Lady Help of Christians protect us": is the prayer of the faithful in the parish of Chang Shu, in the diocese of Su Zhou, like many other communities, during the solemn celebration of Pentecost, on Sunday May 24, together with the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI to Our Lady of Sheshan. During Mass in Chang Shu four infants were also baptized.<br />According to information gathered by Agenzia Fides, the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI eight years ago, was celebrated in many Chinese Catholic communities. This year May 24 coincided with the feast of the Pentecost. <br />The parish of Yi Shan in the Diocese of Wen Zhou, in the province of Zhe Jiang, responded to the Day with a solemn Marian procession, so that "the Church is one and united and a witness of Love".<br />On Sunday, the parish of Yan Jiao and the parish of Bao Ding in He Bei province, as well as the parish of Long Gang in the diocese of Wen Zhou, in Zhe Jiang province administered the sacraments of Christian initiation to 7, 13 and 38 catechumens, infants and adults.<br />Priests, nuns and some lay people of the diocese of Nan Chong, in the southern province of Sichuan, in view of Pentecost and 24 May went on a pilgrimage, also to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. Here they exchanged their experiences of faith, vocation, mission and pastoral activity. Tue, 26 May 2015 13:27:53 +0200AFRICA - CCEE and SECAM hold a Seminar on The Family in Europe and Africa - The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe and The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar will be having a Seminar on the theme: "The joy of the Family" in Maputo, Mozambique from May 28- 31, 2015. "Following a process of growing pastoral collaboration, the two bodies have been organizing meetings for Bishops from both continents to strength communion and collaboration and a reflection on major challenges facing the Church", said a statement sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />In the light of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation and in continuity with the reflections which will be tackled in the course of the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015 on the Family, the bishops will deliberate on issues relating to the family on the two continents.<br />The aim of the Seminar of European and African bishops will be to study the family in Africa and Europe as protagonist of evangelisation and at the same time in need of being evangelised. Topics to be treated include the following: anthropological, social and ecclesial challenges for the Family; the Joy and sufferings of the Family: Pastoral challenges; the Mission of the Bishop in proclaiming the Gospel of the Family; the role of the Church and the Bishop in dialogue with Society and States in family matters. The Bishops at the end of the Seminar are expected to issue a Final message on their deliberations. Tue, 26 May 2015 12:49:05 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Bishops: "Laity and parishes have to act in order to combat modern slavery" - The President of the Episcopal Conference of the Philippines, His Exc. Mgr. Socrates Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, called for "concrete actions" to fight against "modern slavery". "People cannot be indifferent to the tragedy of labor exploitation", he said. "We therefore ask our pastors and our laity to be custodians of our enslaved brothers and sisters", he reiterated.<br />The message, sent to Agenzia Fides, refers to the episode in which, due to a fire in a shoe factory in Valenzuela City, at least 72 people died. The episode highlights the phenomenon of "exploitation in which young people, women, children, the elderly are forced to work in appalling circumstances and situations", without any safety standards.<br />These workplace "should be subject to inspections, and once these places of exploitation are discovered, they must be closed" reiterated the Archbishop.<br />"Compared to the evangelical law of love, the exploitation of the poor is repugnant", he concluded.<br />According to data of the "Walk Free Foundation" , the Philippines is ranked 98th place among the 162 countries in the world with the largest number of modern slaves, and are among the 12 Asian countries where the phenomenon is more prevalent. The Foundation notes that modern slavery persists in the Philippines mainly because of extreme poverty. Tue, 26 May 2015 12:36:43 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - The Bishops denounce: "In eastern Congo three basic training camps for jihadists; but the UN observes without intervening" - "A climate of genocide, a hearth of jihadist fundamentalism and a process of Balkanization". These are "the three greatest dangers" denounced by the Bishops of the Province of Bukavu in a message published at the end of their assembly, sent to Agenzia Fides. The Bishops point out that in their Ecclesiastical Province "many armed groups behave as predators against people left to themselves" and denounce the crimes against humanity committed by them .<br />Their base is made up of people of different nationalities who have settled in training camps called Medina, Canada and Parking Kaza Roho. Young Congolese have joined, deceived by unscrupulous recruiters who promise them scholarships for the Middle East, Europe and Canada. The international community merely observes with its drones ". "Does the situation have to deteriorate even more before the international community takes measures against jihadism?" Ask the Bishops, according to whom "a strategy of forced displacement of populations is taking place in order to gradually occupy the land and install outbreaks of religious fundamentalism and terrorist training bases". <br />"This happens in an economic mafia and profiteering politico-military context, fueled by large-scale looting of abundant mineral, forestry, and animal resources".<br />The Church also pays a high price. The document denounces the attempted kidnapping of Mgr. Placide Lubamba, Bishop of Kasongo, on 12 May in Lulingu-Shabunda. Besides the Bishops stress: "We are outraged for the silence regarding the three Assumptionist fathers abducted on October 19, 2012 . Are they alive or dead?".<br />"We have difficulty understanding the ambiguities, the prevarication and paradoxes of our government". The Bishops conclude asking the Congolese State and the international community to take action to protect local populations. Tue, 26 May 2015 12:29:59 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Security situation worsens due to clashes - The intensification of the clashes between the government and the opposition is gradually deteriorating the situation in some of the areas of Unity State on the border with the State of the Lakes, and in particular in Rumbek North County. In a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the coordinator of Doctors with Africa Cuamm in South Sudan informs: "in agreement with the local authorities, a temporary shift of the international Cuamm staff was carried out from Maper to Rumbek, waiting to see how the situation evolves. From Rumbek we monitor the work of the structures closely and remain operational and continue to ensure, through local staff, assistance to the wounded". Rumbek North County is located in the State of the Lakes and borders with areas of high conflict: Unity State and Jonglei, recently the scene of clashes between rebel groups and SPLA government troops. In an extreme context, where movements are impossible due to impassable roads in the rainy season. Cuamm began working in 2013 to restart seven health facilities that since July 2014 have begun to function and to provide basic health services to the community. Among these structures, the main one is in Maper, and has become operational 24 hours non-stop with outpatient services and admissions. It is able to provide assistance to non-complicated deliveries and carries out prevention, with emphasis on malaria and respiratory infections. <br />Cuamm staff is also involved in strenghthening the capacity of Community Health Workers on issues of maternal and child health care and the training of traditional midwives on the recognition of the first signs of obstetric emergencies. Last year alone 1,795 prenatal visits were carried out in this area, 7,309 children were vaccinated and 3,618 children were assessed for malnutrition. Currently there are 17 Italian Cuamm operators in South Sudan. Tue, 26 May 2015 11:59:17 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - The jihadists retreat from the villages on the river Khabur, leaving destroyed crosses and vandalized churchesé - The jihadi militias of the Islamic State retreated from the villages along the river Khabur, in the northeastern Syrian province of Jazira, which they had occupied on February 23, forcing the mass exodus of the local population, formed mostly by Assyrian Christians. Local sources confirm to Agenzia Fides that the retreat of the militia of the IS was caused by the intensification of air strikes carried out by US-led coalition forces against the positions of the jihadists, in support to the counter-offensive carried out by Kurdish militias. Military Kurdish and Assyrian formations entered the abandoned villages and reported to local sources that they found churches which were devastated and houses looted, with destroyed crosses and anti-Christian slogans painted on the walls.<br />According to Agency Ara News, a part of the Assyrian families who had found refuge in Hassaké have already returned to the villages of Tel Tamar, where the bell of the Assyrian church has been restored. While uncertainty remains about the fate of more than 230 Christian that the militiamen of the IS took hostage during their offensive in the Khabur valley, taking them to their strongholds. Tue, 26 May 2015 11:35:51 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian lawyers: "The blasphemy law has to be abolished" - Tension remains high in the neighborhood of Sanda, in Lahore, the scene of anti-Christian violence carried out on Sunday 24 May. After a case of alleged blasphemy , the crowd tried to take justice into their own and, instigated by a local imam, turned their anger against Christian homes. The police tried to avoid the violence, also using tear gas. In the collision a police officer was slightly injured.<br />Today Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, human rights lawyer, visited the affected areas and met some of the residents. "They are terrified and scared" he tells Fides. "It has become difficult for Christians to live with Muslims, especially when the blasphemy law is abused. We ask the international community to help bring its abolition in Pakistan".<br />The incident happened nearly two months after the suicide attack on two churches in the Christian area of Youhanabad, where people live in a climate of fear. Nasir Saeed, Director of the NGO CLAAS, says in a statement sent to Fides: "No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. Mass attacks against entire communities show that hate against Christians is growing. The blasphemy law is widely used for revenge, but the government has not yet managed to take steps to stop the misuse of the law and ensure security for Christians. If those responsible are not punished, those who attack with impunity Christian neighborhoods and churches are encouraged". Tue, 26 May 2015 11:16:48 +0200ASIA/NEPAL - A month ago the first earthquake in Nepal, and now the most current emergency is the arrival of the monsoon rains - One month after the earthquake struck Nepal, the most current emergency is the arrival of the monsoon rains expected in a few weeks. Once the rains begin, it will be harder to reach remote areas, where the roads have been damaged, and where, as a result, people have been made more vulnerable. <br />A total of 1150 health facilities have been completely or partially damaged in 14 highly affected districts. The current health need is management of post trauma injuries, restoration of disrupted primary health care services and rehabilitation support to patients who are discharged from hospitals.<br />UNICEF estimats 70,000 children under five need urgent nutrition support so as to prevent a deterioration of children’s nutrition status. Around 15,000 children in 14 of the worst-hit districts will require therapeutic foods. Additionally, some 55,000 children with moderate acute malnutrition will require supplementary feeding.<br />According to a statement sent to Agenzia Fides, Médecins Sans Frontières is racing against time to reach remote villages with medical supplies and shelter material. Difficult logistics and terrain leave limited transport options, meaning MSF teams have to use helicopters to transport these materials to villages north and east of Kathmandu every day. In Gorkha district, 80 kilometres west of Kathmandu, MSF launched activities aimed at helping affected populations in need. MSF ran mobile clinics and supplied shelter and hygiene kits. In some villages, teams found houses and health facilities totally destroyed, prompting MSF to provide the people with medical, shelter and hygiene materials. <br />In Arughat, in Gorkha district, where the main health facility was destroyed, MSF set up an inflatable hospital. This continues to provide healthcare services to surrounding communities. Providing tents, tarpaulins, and construction material comprises the main focus of MSF’s intervention at this stage of the emergency. There is a need to ensure that people have a place to stay before the monsoon rains begin. The MSF teams have increased the number of trips by helicopter to reach as many people in the affected areas with shelter material. Where roads are accessible, MSF is using cars and lorries to distribute shelter and hygiene kits. To date, MSF has distributed shelter kits to over 10,000 households in remote villages. Tue, 26 May 2015 11:01:00 +0200AMERICA/COLOMBIA - "Stop deaths! An agreement has to be reached as soon as possible", asks Cardinal Salazar Gómez - The Archbishop of Bogota, Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez, speaking to the local press reiterated that war must end and an agreement between the government and the FARC has to be reached as soon as possible. As demonstrated by the note sent to Fides, the Cardinal explicitly said: "Enough! No more deaths! Conflict must end".<br />The delegations of the Colombian government and the FARC resumed peace talks in Havana, yesterday, Monday, May 25, after several days of tension. On May 22, in fact the guerrillas had taken the decision to suspend the ceasefire in force since December 2014 after 26 of its fighters had been killed in an offensive by the Colombian army. Five other guerrillas were killed in a new raid this weekend.<br />According to data collected by Fides a member of the delegation of the FARC, Pablo Catatumbo, said: "No doubt last week’s events are a step back in the progress made so far at the negotiating table. This is the wrong path, and it is obvious that peace will never be achieved if conflict continues". Over the weekend the Colombian army mobilized in view of a possible resumption of the conflict. Tue, 26 May 2015 10:31:26 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III: prayer and fasting for father Murad and deacon Hanna’s release - Yesterday, Sunday, May 24, in all the the Syro-Catholic churches in the world the faithful prayed for the release of Father Jacques Murad, the Syrian priest kidnapped by unknown persons on Friday 22 along with deacon Boutros Hanna, at the monastery of Mar Elian. There has been no news of the two since their abduction. Already last Friday, Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III had invited all the Syro-Catholic faithful in the world to express their spiritual communion with the two kidnapped with prayer and other acts of devotion and penance . "We offer prayers, Masses, and fasting", reads the message sent by the Patriarch to all Syriac Catholic communities around the world "in the hope that Father Jacques is released and will soon return to his parish". In the text, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Patriarch invited all the faithful "to be firm in faith, hope and trust in the Lord and in His promises that never disappoint, imploring the Mother of God and all the holy martyrs and confessors for the release of Father Jacques. On the feast of Pentecost we ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us, console us and watch over us". Mon, 25 May 2015 08:38:40 +0200