Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aASIA/LEBANON - The Melkite Church launches an extensive program of study and dissemination of the Abu Dhabi Document Traz – The Greek-Melkite Catholic Church is preparing to dedicate ample space to its pastoral planning to the dissemination and deepening of the Document on Human Brotherhood for World Peace and Common Coexistence, signed on 4 February in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, Great Imam of Al Azhar. <br />This was established by the synodal assembly of Greek-Melkite Bishops, who met last week at the patriarchal see of Ain Traz, in Lebanon, under the presidency of Patriarch Youssef Absi. The declared intention is to foster the growth of new generations able to reconstruct the coexistence between different social and religious components in the countries where the Melkite Church is present, often distorted by conflicts and sectarian extremism. The program outlined by the Melkite Bishops - as reported by the report of the Synodal Assembly, sent to Agenzia Fides - is laid down in concrete provisions, which involve both academic and more specifically pastoral activities. The Document on Human Brotherhood will become the object of study in the schools of the Patriarchate and in theological institutes. The text will be disseminated widely among the lay faithful, and its contents will be deepened in diocesan and parish meetings, as well as becoming the subject of articles and interviews on the media of the Patriarchate and on the bulletins of the dioceses and parishes. Even priests will be urged to make known the contents and intents of the Abu Dhabi document through their ordinary preaching.<br />During the Synodal Assembly, the Bishops present also outlined the steps to be taken to implement the measures related to the protection of minors from the abuses set forth in the Apostolic Letter of Pope Francis Vos estis lux mundi . Furthermore, the process was also started to establish a preparatory committee that will take care of the participation and contribution of the Melkite Church to the future World Congress dedicated to the liturgical life in the Eastern Catholic Churches, scheduled in Rome from 18 to 20 February 2022, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the instruction for the application of the liturgical prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, published by the Congregation for Oriental Churches in January 1996. <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 13:16:48 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Surveys reveal the worrying increase regarding the Mexican's impatience towards migrants City - Surveys on the opinion of Mexicans regarding migrants in the national territory continue to increase, the results are then disseminated by the media. In five months, from November 2018 to April 2019, the number of Mexicans who do not want to allow migrants to enter the country has increased from 32% to 58%, according to a new survey carried out by a well-known Popular Inquiry Institute, Parametria. According to the survey, the percentage of those who have taken a neutral position on the issue has dropped from 20% to 3%.<br />Meanwhile, the Mexican political-military intervention at the country's borders becomes more decisive. Over the weekend the authorities strengthened efforts to discourage Central Americans from crossing Mexico to reach the United States, arresting migrants in the south and deploying the National Guard in the north, along the Rio Grande.<br />In Arriaga, a city in the southern state of Chiapas, the Associated Press reports that about 100 migrants were arrested on Sunday, while Milenio TV reported that another 146 were taken from a private home in the central state of Queretaro, and more than 100 are were taken away from a hotel in the state of the Gulf of Veracruz.<br />Behind the pressure of the United States, the Mexican government has in fact deployed some 6,000 National Guard officers this month, its new militarized police force, along the southern and northern borders. In Ciudad Juarez, in the south of El Paso, Texas, the National Guard rejected migrants trying to cross the border over the weekend. The guards are patrolling along the Rio Grande.<br />"The National Guard, in theory, should not repress those who want to cross the country to go to the United States", said Isabel Sanchez, coordinator of a civic group in Ciudad Juárez that deals with security and justice. However, the greater rigidity in terms of immigration has today a popular support in Mexico. More than half of Mexicans interviewed by the newspaper El Universal in early June stated that the authorities should not allow migrants to enter the country and that those found traveling without a visa while crossing Mexico should be expelled.<br />Faced with this situation, after the meeting of the Mexican Episcopal Conference with the President of the Republic , CEM’s Presidency stressed that "greater joint collaboration is needed to guarantee the safety of migrants". On the occasion of the recent World Refugee Day, CEM denounced the militarization of borders, inviting them to develop a migration strategy that "must be based on human rights and put the migrant at the center of political and social measures, ensuring better conditions for an orderly and safe migration". <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:51:54 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - Archbishop Garfías Merlos: "Young people are a key element in building peace" City - "The origin of violence in Mexico is the absence of God in the individual and community life of people, which makes them inhuman and cruel". Thus Mgr. Carlos Garfías Merlos, Archbishop of Morelia and vice-president of the Mexican Bishops' Conference and, commented to Agenzia Fides the alarming figures on the kidnappings and abductions recorded in Mexico City. According to the Executive Secretariat of the National System for Public Security, there was an increase of 271% of the phenomenon, in the last year 28% compared to 2018.<br />Responsible for the National Plan for the Construction of Peace, in agreement with the Federal Government, Mgr. Garfias explained that, to promote a peace process in Mexico, it is essential to integrate young people: "We are aware of the fact that many young people are attracted by easy earnings and for this reason it is urgent to propose professional training programs so that all those who want to continue studies have the total support of family, society and the Church. We need scholarships and middle and high school support for those who are in financial difficulties. Furthermore, agreements have also been established with some companies that are looking for youth labor". <br />"The Church's proposal to combat violence - explains Mgr. Garfias - provides attention to the victims, a program to promote peace, which includes the empowerment and training of pastoral agents to deal with the victims".<br />The Archbishop also said that in places where there is a lot of violence "daily life proceeds normally unless there are dramatic or high-impact episodes such as in the States of Michoacán and Guerrero".<br />Speaking of social inequality, Mgr. Garfias proposed the establishment of a Center for Social Pastoral in Acapulco, in the parish of Costa Azul, which hosts wealthy faithful, and where programs of attention to young people, solidarity economy and school support are proposed to foster a bond between the wealthiest people and those who are not well off.<br />Finally, on the issue of migrants, the vice-president of the Mexican episcopate said that "it is important to work to guarantee conditions of equality for the whole population and to help all those who are in situations of need and emergency, such as migrants". <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:36:39 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The Extraordinary Missionary Month at the center of the 78th PMS National Council - The Extraordinary Missionary Month was one of the central themes of the 78th National Council of PMS of the Ivory Coast, which was held from 11 to 14 June at the center of Diocesan reception center in Daloa under the presidency of His Excellency Mgr. Marcellin Yao Kouadio, Bishop of Daloa, President of the Bishops’ Commission for the Evangelization of Peoples and PMS, in the presence of 13 of the 15 diocesan directors.<br />In the opening speech, Fr. Jean Noel Gossou, the new National Director of the PMS of the Ivory Coast, focused on the importance of the Extraordinary Missionary Month according to the indications of Pope Francis contained in the guide of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and of the Pontifical Mission Societies, with the title "baptized and sent, the Church of Christ on a mission in the World, extraordinary missionary Month, October 2019".<br />Fr. Gossou acknowledged that mission is not an easy task and should therefore require everyone's attention. In turn, Mgr. Kouadio briefed the diocesan directors on the importance of the PMS as a tool for missionary animation and for raising funds to support the mission.<br />The Bishop of Daloa described the missionary situation in the Country after the departure of the first white missionaries and highlighted the challenges and problems the Church in Ivory Coast will face, and took the opportunity to clarify the difference between mission and pastoral care. Mgr. Kouadio in fact emphasized that pastoral care, which is reserved for the faithful, must be accompanied by the mission of moving towards non-Christians.<br />Following the agenda for the 2019-2020 campaign, the Council used the Guide of the extraordinary missionary month to develop an action plan to reawaken the missionary awareness of each baptized person.<br />Finally, for the 2019-2020 missionary campaign, the Council recommended: the organization of a national opening ceremony of the Extraordinary Missionary Month on 5 and 6 October 2019 in Yamoussoukro; the organization of an opening ceremony in each diocese; the participation of priests, catechists and leaders of the New Communities for the official launch; the development of strategies in every diocese for the awakening of the conscience of the faithful on the missionary theme of the year. <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:08:22 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - “Avoid us another war!”: The Bishops' cry of alarm as the tension rises in view of the 2020 vote - "Among the population there is a widespread climate of fear" denounce the Bishops of Ivory Coast in their message published at the end of their 113th Plenary Assembly in Agboville.<br />"In fact, it must be recognized that, as the 2020 elections approach, there is a climate of widespread fear among the population; fear linked to the reality of recurrent inter-community conflicts, problems of insecurity, land tenure, illegal occupation of forests, illegal gold mines and problems linked to Ivorian identity", says the document sent to Agenzia Fides.<br />Addressing the faithful, the Bishops affirm: "we are with you in deploring the desolate show of recent times, we also want to exorcise the old demons of hatred and division with you all".<br />"We take this opportunity to express our spiritual closeness and our compassion for families who have lost loved ones and their property. And to all the actors of socio-political life, we are launching this heartfelt cry, which is also that of the population: avoid us another war", the Bishops say. "After more than two decades of serious crises that have sadly marked the history of the Ivory Coast, the responsibility of all those who hold authority - whatever their level - is to do everything possible for reconciliation and social cohesion, to prevent crises and consolidate peace".<br />"In this regard, we, Archbishops and Bishops of the Ivory Coast, ask the government to continue and complete the disarmament process, because weapons continue to circulate in our Country and it is no secret to anyone. In fact, in any inter-community conflict, weapons and weapons of war are regularly and professionally used. In the face of this state of affairs, once again, and in the name of the right to life, we ask you to avoid us another war!". <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 12:01:14 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Proclaiming the Gospel with courage, as a family: the path of "Couples for Christ" - Proclaiming the Gospel with courage, as families living faith: this is the invitation addressed to the ecclesial movement "Couples for Christ", CFC by Mgr. Broderick S. Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, speaking at the convention on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the movement. As Agenzia Fides learns, at the closing mass of the meeting, celebrated in Manila in recent days, in front of more than 50,000 people, the Bishop said: "Your journey is a call to live and spread the Good News that is Jesus, that is offered in the Holy Eucharist, destined for all because only He gives true life and satisfies the deepest desires of the human heart". "Praise God for 38 years of overflowing grace that He has given you. Let us continue to respond to His fidelity by rekindling our gift and filling the world with His light", said the Bishop to those present.<br />Many members of the movement shared their personal experiences, talking about "God's overflowing grace in their family life and in the community". Melo Villaroman Jr., a Catholic layman and President of the CFC, urged families to "be a gift": "Praying and remaining united in Jesus - he said - the light of God will be within every family. Parents will be like light and guide in the home and children are the recipients of this love and light. As a single community, the families of CFC are sparks of light that, once lit together, become a shining beacon for other families anywhere in the world".<br />Jesuit Father Jun G. Bargayo, speaking of the mission of the family, said that "the mission is the work of God himself", while Nic Escalona, coordinator of evangelization and of CFC, encouraged the members of the movement "to remain steadfast because the Lord is a victorious God".<br />The missionaries of the CFC movement talked about the transforming action from the grace of God that led them to respond to the call to become missionaries. "The infallible love of God makes the mission worth living, even in difficulties", they said. Joe Tale, CFC representative to the Holy See, shared his missionary experience and encouraged his fellow missionaries to "lead others to Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit and God's love".<br />Michael Ariola, president of CFC, concluded by inviting everyone to "take to heart life as a mission", recalling that "from the beginning God had called them to walk in CFC" and that "missionaries can evangelize thanks to the light and to the love of Christ". Ariola encouraged CFC to "continuously support the dignity and beauty of the family".<br />"Couples for Christ" is a Catholic movement which started in 1981 in Manila, Philippines, within a community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and is now present in 110 countries. In 1995, the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines approved the movement as a private association of lay faithful and in 2000 the Holy See recognized it as an international private association of lay faithful, of pontifical right. <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 11:53:29 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Bishops meet with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - The serious crisis that Venezuela is experiencing, which caused the mass exodus of many Venezuelans, was the subject of the Bishops’ meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who during her visit to the country met with representatives of the government, the opposition, organizations and civil society.<br />In the afternoon of June 21, the High Commissioner met a delegation of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference led by its Secretary General, Mgr. José Trinidad Fernández, who delivered a letter signed by the CEV Executive Commission presenting the situation and a solution to get out of the crisis.<br />"The Catholic Church in Venezuela since 2004 has denounced the situation of the serious humanitarian crisis that our people are experiencing", is what is written in the text delivered to Mirelle Bachelet, published by local media and sent to Fides. The Bishops reaffirm that they are "defenders of life in all its aspects", their commitment is "to listen to the cry of our people". Then they list the increase of a massive diaspora and new forms of slavery, including human trafficking, prostitution, the situation at the border, the increase in child malnutrition, lies passed off as truth, the problem of petrol.<br />Continuing the description of the situation, the Bishops highlight "the electricity crisis in all of Venezuela, with the exception of Caracas, to give the feeling of normality to those who visit the country"; the lack of water that does not reach homes; the increase of suicides; school drop outs due to poverty, lack of food and transport; "The precariousness of food which, in the face of high costs, makes it impossible to purchase basic products"; the serious public health situation that results in the lack of medicines and the depressing conditions in which hospitals find themselves. The plundering of the environment with the extraction of mineral wealth and the exploitation of indigenous populations, which is associated with illegal extraction, is also deteriorating the Amazon.<br />Faced with this serious situation of violation of human rights, the Bishops therefore ask for the intervention of the High Commissioner, presenting their requests to the government: the recognition of NGOs and the permission to allow supplies for humanitarian assistance to enter; the release of political prisoners and the elimination of police stations as detention centers; the end of abusive practices that violate human rights by different State security groups.<br />The Bishops therefore demand that their "electoral, political and economic rights" are returned to Venezuelans and reiterate that the fundamental solution to the crisis "is the election of a new president and the recognition of the National Assembly as a body elected by the people".<br />"The country's crisis is rooted in corruption and impunity - they conclude - in the face of looting of public resources and is not simply due to the sanctions that have been imposed. Before these sanctions Venezuela was already in a depressing economic situation. The serious humanitarian crisis is resolved if those in power seek the common good of all". <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 11:24:53 +0200ASIA/UZBEKISTAN - Prayer as the focus of attention of the lives of the faithful - "As every year, in June we had a meeting with all the Catholics of Uzbekistan in our church in Tashkent. The meeting was led by Bishop Clemens Pickel, of the Russian diocese of Saratov, who made the faithful reflect on the theme of prayer as a means of getting closer to God, with catechesis and sharing in small groups. I believe it was an important opportunity of growth for all participants, who will benefit not only in their personal spiritual paths, but also in everyday practical life". Thus the Apostolic Administrator of Uzbekistan, Franciscan Fr. Jerzy Maculewicz, talks about the moment experienced by the Catholic community of Uzbekistan to conclude the activities of the fraternal year before the summer break.<br />According to the Franciscan, the catechetical moment led by the Russian Bishop represented an opportunity of significant sharing for the Uzbek faithful: "Many of them reported their own experience, witnessing how important prayer is to get closer to God. In particular, the story of a couple who this year celebrates their golden wedding anniversary: the two said that for 50 years, they try to pray together every day. On Sunday we celebrated their Jubilee and during the homily I shared this story with the whole community of the faithful, to testify that, in these times in which it is rare to see such lasting marriages, it was probably the prayer of a daily couple that gave them the strength to face the difficulties of life, not alone, but together with God. I saw that this experience touched the hearts of many and helped to make people understand the practical and daily consequences of prayer".<br />In Uzbekistan, the Catholic faith is recognized as a "traditional religion", as well as the Islamic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Armenian and Jewish: the community of believers therefore enjoys recognition and respect from the population. In total, there are 8 priests, 4 religious and about 700 Catholics in the major cities and others distributed in small towns. <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 11:02:29 +0200ASIA/CHINA - Mgr. Stefano Li Side, Bishop of Tianjin: an authentic witness of the Gospel of Christ - On the eve of Pentecost, June 8, 2019, at 11 am, His Exc. Mgr. Stefano Li Side, Bishop of the Diocese of Tianjin passed away. He suffered from a chronic illness for many years, he had recently been hospitalized in Gixian.<br />The Bishop was born on 2 October 1926 in Zunhua in the province of Hebei, from a family with a long Catholic tradition. Since his childhood years he felt the vocation to consecrate himself totally to the Lord, in 1940 he entered the local minor Seminary. In 1945 he moved to the Minor Seminary in Tianjin, in 1949 he moved to the Wen Sheng Major Seminary in Beijing. On 10 July 1955 he was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tianjin. In the serious context of the 1950s he was arrested in 1958. He was released in 1962 and again arrested in 1963, he was sentenced to forced labor until 1980. He returned to his pastoral ministry in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, he was consecrated Bishop in Tianjin on June 15, 1982, without being recognized by the government.<br />In 1989 he was imprisoned for the third time, until 1991. In 1992 the authorities forced him under house arrest in the remote mountain village of Liang Zhuang Zi, in the district of Jixian, 60 km from Tianjin, where he remained until his death, where he managed to leave only to go to the hospital. Despite the exile and distance, there were always many faithful who went to pay him a visit. The Bishop defended the principles of the Catholic Church with coherence and witnessed the Gospel of Christ, remaining heroically in communion with the Successor of Peter.<br />Mgr. Stefano Li Side was much loved and was always a point of reference for priests and lay faithful. Profoundly devoted to Mary, he was very attentive to evangelization and the mission of the Church. He took care of vocations to priesthood and in 1994 founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He concretely expressed his pastoral attention also to those most in need. A man of prayer, entirely dedicated to the service of God, Mgr. Li Side lived in poverty and in profound humility. He always urged the faithful to respect the laws of the Country and to help the poor. Even in the painful moments that marked his long life, he never complained, and accepted everything as the will of the Lord.<br />Commemorative masses, condolences and mourning ceremonies were held in a mortuary in the district of Jizhou, not in St. Joseph's Cathedral in Tianjin. His remains rest in the district of Jizhou. Today, the Diocese of Tianjin has about 60 thousand faithful, 65 priests, 2 female congregations with about 70 sisters. <br /><br />Mon, 24 Jun 2019 10:45:02 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - Formation and animation for Missionary Childhood educators - "Today, June 21st, the third formation session for the diocesan Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies , the animators and educators of the PMS of the ecclesiastical province of Kinshasa and Mbadaka-Bikoro": this is what Sister Roberta Tremarelli, AMSS, Secretary General of the Pontifical of Missionary Childhood Society writes to Agenzia Fides, who is in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a series of meetings with local ecclesiastical organizations dedicated to formation and missionary animation. Previously, similar formation sessions were held for diocesan Directors and PMS animators in the ecclesiastical province of Bukavu and Lubumbashi and in that of Kananga .<br />As Sister Roberta explains to Fides, "the themes of the conferences of each session are the same: the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society, history, charisma and challenges; the role of the family, school and consecrated persons in the missionary formation of children and young people; Baptism, which confers Christian identity, makes us missionary disciples. In the various sessions there was also a celebration with children, youth and missionary Childhood animators, and the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019 was also discussed.<br />As part of her visit to Congo, the General Secretary of the Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society met the Bishops gathered in Kinshasa on June 13 to visit CENAM in Kinshasa and to lead a meeting of formation for consecrated men and women of the Pedagogical Institute of Kinshasa, 15 June.<br />The population of the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 82 million inhabitants, is mainly composed of young people. <br />In addition to food shortages due to widespread poverty, most children do not attend school because of lack of financial support, and are forced to work, often in the mines, for survival. Poverty is also at the origin of the phenomenon of abused and sexually exploited street children, early marriages, as well as delinquency and recruitment in armed militias or banditry. The situation worsens in rural areas and has worsened with refugees from neighboring countries. The Church is therefore faced with a series of challenges that affect children and young people, fortunately there are few who want to go to school and learn to build their future, which must therefore be supported and helped. <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 13:19:10 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Seventy years of "Pontifical Mission", at the service of "Israelis and Palestinians" - The "Pontifical Mission" in the Holy Land turns 70, and redefines its field of action on the occasion of its anniversary. <br />The organization, founded in 1949 on the initiative of Pope Pius XII with the primary intention of rescuing the Palestinian refugees after the creation of the State of Israel, is proposed today as a tool to help "the needy in the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis, of all ages and beliefs". This is reported by the official media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the report of the official anniversary celebrations, hosted on Tuesday 18 June at the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem.<br />It was the dramatic condition of Palestinian multitudes after the proclamation of the State of Israel that aroused in Pope Pacelli the desire to create a specific ecclesial body to help them. For this reason, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association , an agency under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, was charged with creating an institution that offered support to children, families, the sick, the elderly and exiles. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to leave their homeland and find shelter in the part of territory under the control of the then Transjordan or Egypt. On June 18, 1949, Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, Secretary of the dicastery for Eastern Churches, published the document that sanctioned the birth of the Pontifical Mission.<br />At the beginning, the pontifical mission dealt with assisting displaced persons and refugees. After the birth of UNRWA, it adapted its programs to work with this UN institution to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in refugee camps.<br />Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Cyprus, apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, who presided over a Eucharistic celebration in the presence of Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine and of Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land also took part in the commemoration on Tuesday.<br />During his homily - reports the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem - the Archbishop recalled the network of ecclesial institutions operating in the region in the field of health, education and social action, stressing that in the Holy Land "it is not so much the number of Christians that counts, but the extent of their various actions". <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 12:55:01 +0200AFRICA/IVORY COAST - The President of the Bishops’ Conference to politicians: "Preserve social peace; no to hate speeches" - "The Ivorian political class, in particular all those who hold authority, have to work to preserve the socio-political environment, safeguard peace by respecting the rules of democracy", said His Exc. Mgr. Ignace Bessi Dogbo, Bishop of Katiola and President of the Bishops’ Conference of the Ivory Coast, in Agboville in opening the works of the 113th Plenary Assembly of Ivorian Bishops, whose theme is "Acting together to build the Church".<br />The President of the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast has encouraged all those involved in politics, "to do everything possible to pacify the socio-political environment, avoiding any verbal violence".<br />Taking up the theme of the assembly, the Bishop of Katiola said: "I would like to invite all Catholics, whatever their level of integration into society and the Church is, to build the Church so that the Church can form them".<br />The Ivory Coast is preparing to live a long electoral campaign in view of the general elections to be held in October 2020 and which is already arousing concern regarding possible violent actions. In January, the Bishops had called for a "truly consensual reform of the Independent Electoral Commission " . <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 12:42:44 +0200OCEANIA/AUSTRALIA - The Church's commitment to stem suicides among Aboriginal youth - "Suicide is often the last straw in a build up of unhappiness and pain. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have suffered dispossession, displacement, violence of various types and much more. So often others have determined for them what they considered to be the best for them. The tragedy of the large number of suicides among our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially the young, calls us to action: This is a sad and unacceptable reality. For us Christians, Jesus came to bring life to the fullest. He is calling us to work together with love and respect, and to never give up trying to find the best way forward away from this tragic and unnecessary ending of life". This is what the Australian Catholic Bishops say in their annual message for the Sunday dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander peoples, which will be held on 7 July. The pastoral Letter, sent to Agenzia Fides, stresses the need for "greater collaboration to stem the terrible loss of life caused by suicide", an increasingly widespread phenomenon within these communities.<br />In the message, the Bishops' Conference recalls that "there are already many realities working for this purpose, including various layers of government, community and Church organizations, and other groups", which, however, encounter a difficulty: "We need to avoid the trap of trying to ‘resolve’ issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people! We must safeguard the principle of self-determination. We can walk alongside in loving support but avoid any temptation to come in with quick solutions imposed from outside".<br />The purpose can be pursued, according to the Bishops, following 5 key principles: "Need to work together so as to maximize positive results; the principle of self-determination must be truly respected; the common good must be at the heart of all endeavours; all must be motivated by respect and without selfinterest; prevention as well as ‘cure’ are both necessary". A part of the letter was included in a video, published on the main social networks of Catholic networks, in order to ensure a widespread distribution of the message. <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 12:17:05 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - Appeal of civil society: Need to implement the protection of minority rights – Need to implement the order of the Supreme Court for the protection of minority rights, issued on June 19, 2014 and has remained a dead letter: is the appeal launched during a conference of the Pakistani civil society organized in recent days in Islamabad by an organization forum such as: Center for Social Justice , Human Rights Commission of Pakistan , National Commission for Justice and Peace of Catholic Bishops and Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation . As Agenzia Fides learns, academics, jurists, human rights activists, religious leaders, Christian exponents have called for a timely and effective implementation of that sentence by the Supreme Court. During the conference a report prepared by the CSJ was launched, entitled "A Long Wait for Justice", which analyzes respect for justice in Pakistan and the failure to implement that important sentence of 2014. The organizations present invited the federal governments and the provincial governments to "undertake stringent and urgent measures to enforce that Supreme Court sentence", still without being implemented.<br />The NGOs recall several problems reported in that unresolved sentence: security of places of worship; a policy for religious and social tolerance; the establishment of a National Commission for Minorities; the implementation of quotas reserved for minorities in public workplaces; the reform of school curricula. All to guarantee the fulfillment of minority rights.<br />The experts present again approved the recommendations included in the sentence and in the Report presented, especially supporting the urgency of establishing a National Commission for the Rights of Religious Minorities.<br />Speaking at the assembly, Archbishop Joseph Arshad, President of the Commission for Justice and Peace called on the government to fulfill the commitment made by the founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah "to guarantee equal rights for all citizens of Pakistan".<br />Speaking to those present, Ibn Abdur Rehman, a well-known human rights activist, stated that "this verdict establishes the basis for the protection and promotion of religious freedom in general and, in particular, for the protection of minority rights". The executive director of the Center for Social Justice, Peter Jacob, evaluating the sentence, stated that "compliance is weak and sporadic, with overall compliance levels not exceeding 24%," noting "the lack of will among decision makers".<br />Former Senator Farhatullah Babar reiterated the need to "create an organization to help change the current mentality towards citizens and minority communities", while Haris Khali, Secretary General of the HRCP, said "the movements in civil society are necessary to promote the values of tolerance and pluralism among all religious communities". Finally, Abdul Hameed Nayyar, a professor of physics, noted the need for education reform, "to remove all the hate material taught in schools and universities and to make education a means of promoting peace, respect and acceptance of diversity". <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 11:51:21 +0200AMERICA/MEXICO - The request for asylum has become a Via crucis for migrants City - "A migration strategy that can go beyond the imposition of tariffs that cause the militarization of borders or the raising of human walls as an immediate response, must be based on human rights and put the migrant at the center of political and social measures and better conditions for an orderly and safe migration": this is what Mgr. José Guadalupe Torres Campos, Bishop of Ciudad Juarez, President of the Dimensión Episcopal de Pastoral de la Movilidad Humana , of the Mexican Bishops' Conference, writes in a message published on the occasion of World Refugee Day.<br />In the text, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishop invites to pay "particular attention to marginalized groups".<br />The text cites the message of Pope Francis for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2019, and invites us to think of the 258 million people who live outside their countries of origin and emigrate for various reasons, seeking protection and opportunities for a better life. Mgr. Torres Campos claims to know "the migration policies in force in our country, faced with the crisis that exists following the growing number of migrants, who in large caravans or small groups try to cross the national territory". "Many of them - he continues -, knowingly or unknowingly, are candidates for asylum and shelter, both in Mexico and in the United States, but this request has also become a Via crucis for migrants".<br />The Bishop reiterates that "migration cannot be seen as a problem, but as an opportunity", and underlines that "the lack of a migration coordination system of human rights based at a global, regional and national level is creating a crisis of human rights for migrants, making them increasingly vulnerable, because of their irregular situation, they live and work illegally, fearful of complaining about the abuses they often suffer from service providers, employers and even attacks in civil society" .<br />World Refugee Day, says Mgr. Torres Campos, "is an opportunity for the Church to raise the voice in favor of those who have no voice, and to invite governments to develop actions that can facilitate the procedures of the request of asylum, as well as to guarantee the human rights of migrants in general, following the recommendations of the Holy Father". <br /><br />Fri, 21 Jun 2019 11:17:45 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - Prayers for peace among the ruins of the ancient church in the area of Karbala - Prayers and Christian hymns along with the reading of verses from the Koran echoed among the ruins of the church of Al Aqiser, in the area of Karbala, the holy city of Shiite Islam. All this took place on Monday 17 June, and the initiative was implemented by a group of Chaldean Christians who came on pilgrimage to what remains of the church which dates back to the 5th century a.C., considered among the oldest Christian places of worship in the Middle East. With their prayers, the members of the group asked the Lord for the gift of peace, the end of conflicts and release from all sectarianism.<br />Located in the west of Karbala, the archaeological site certifies the presence in the region of flourishing Christian communities, dating back to pre-Islamic times. "The existence of this church is a clear sign of the coexistence among the peoples of this country, until today", declared Chaldean priest Maysar Behnam.<br />The ruins of the church have resurfaced from the desert thanks to archaeological excavations carried out in the seventies of the last century. In the past, Iraqi Christian groups used to go on pilgrimage during Christmas time.<br />In Karbala, every year, tens of millions of Muslim Shiite pilgrims flock to commemorate the killing of Husayn ibn Ali, Mohammad's grandson and considered by the Shiites the third legitimate imam, killed in Karbala in 680 a. C. together with 72 of his followers from the troops of the Umayyad caliph Yazid I. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 13:15:39 +0200AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - "For years we have been in the grip of terrorism", denounce the Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger - "The Countries of our Bishops' Conference, Burkina Faso and Niger, are prey to terrorist attacks", denounce the Bishops of the two West African States, in the final message of their Plenary Assembly which was held in Ouagadougou from 5 to 15 June. <br />"Despite the commitment of the Defense and Security Forces, terrorist attacks are intensifying and have taken on a new religious dimension, through targeted kidnappings and homicides", the document said, sent to Agenzia Fides. The Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger declare themselves disappointed with these "unjustifiable crimes".<br />After drawing up a long list of murders, kidnappings and assaults against priests, religious, laity and places of Catholic worship, starting from 17 September 2018, the Bishops’ Conference of Burkina Faso and Niger, "ask people who love peace to remain united despite the resurgence of terrorist attacks; to cultivate the cohesion among the different components of our peoples to avoid falling into the traps of terrorists".<br />"The Bishops of Burkina Faso and Niger in particular ask Christians to intensify measures of prudence and vigilance at individual and community level in a climate of faith and hope and to remain disciples and witnesses of the One who obtained his victory not with violence, but with love; in other words, to conquer evil with good". <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 12:12:11 +0200AFRICA/NIGERIA - Kidnapped priest released; over 150 violent deaths in a week – Fr. Isaac Agubi, a priest who serves at the Holy Name church of Ikpeshi, 230 km away from Benin City, capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria was released by the police. The priest had been kidnapped on June 16th along the Auchi-Igarra road, around 5 pm, as he was returning home after having celebrated mass. The police forces, helped by some hunters in the area, managed to identify where the kidnappers were in the forest. During the release of the priest one of the bandits was injured.<br />The kidnappers seem to belong to a group of Fulani, a nomadic shepherd ethnicity, who in Nigeria and other West African countries have become protagonists of violent raids against other populations. In the last week in northern Nigeria, violence linked to the Fulani issue and others committed by Boko Haram, caused the death of over 150 people, while nine others were kidnapped.<br />In the State of Sokoto on June 15, 25 people lost their lives in raids, probably committed by the Fulani, in three villages. In a separate incident, a woman, and her stepson, were kidnapped by a gang of shepherds on Airport Road, in the city of Osi, in the state of Ondo, on their way to Sunday mass.<br />On 12 June an officer and 20 soldiers in the State of Borno were killed in the attack on a military formation. The Islamic State of West Africa , then claimed responsibility for the attack.<br />On June 14, at least 34 people were killed in an assault by an armed group that attacked three villages in the area of Shinkafi in the State of Zamfara. The bandits, who arrived on motorcycles, set fire to the houses and shot all those they encountered.<br />A few days ago His Exc. Mgr. Augustine Akubeze, Archbishop of Benin City and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, had denounced "the unprecedented level of insecurity" and the "complete impunity" of who sows chaos and destruction in the Country. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:32:14 +0200AMERICA/PERU - "Welcoming Christ in refugees": let us not be carried away by voices that encourage xenophobia, discrimination and fear - "Refugees are people who flee conflict and persecution, are protected by international law, because of their particular vulnerability, and should not be expelled or returned to situations where their lives and their freedom are at risk": this is how the message of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference for World Refugee Day, 20 June begins. "Welcoming Christ in refugees" is the title of the message, sent to Fides, which cites the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and recalls that there are 25.4 million refugees in the world and 3.1 million who ask to be recognized as such.<br />The Bishops present the Peruvian reality: "Our country, for many years, protects people with these requirements, guaranteeing them refugee status. We currently have refugees of different nationalities, including Venezuelans, Cubans, Colombians, Palestinians, Syrians, Bengalis, Sri Lankans and several African countries: People in need of shelter are exposed to multiple situations such as aggression, smuggling of migrants, fraud and other violations of their human rights, which is why the Catholic Church in Peru, faced with this challenge, paid particular attention to providing assistance and protection to these people. Even though the UN General Assembly on December 17, 2018 adopted the Global Refugee Pact, in order to strengthen cooperation and solidarity with the refugees and the host countries concerned by this phenomenon, much remains to be done in favor of refugees, in facing the globalization of indifference".<br />CEP, following the example of Jesus, invites concrete action towards those who find themselves in situations of vulnerability, following Pope Francis who proposed four verbs to apply to pastoral work with refugees: to welcome, protect, promote and integrate.<br />"On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the Peruvian Bishops' Conference wants to encourage the various States in the region, in particular ours, to strengthen the mechanisms for access to reception and to apply an adequate definition of refugee. At the same time we urge Peruvian society not to be carried away by the 'voices' that encourage xenophobia, discrimination and fear, but to build together the culture of encounter", the Bishops conclude.<br />The message sent to Fides is signed by the President of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference and CELAM, Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos, and by the person responsible for the pastoral care of human mobility, Mgr. Daniel Turley. <br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 11:06:14 +0200AMERICA/VENEZUELA - Alarm of Justice and peace for increased human trafficking, especially young women - "The Justice and Peace Commission and Caritas urge the authorities of the National Public Power to investigate, prosecute, and convict those responsible for human trafficking crimes; to guarantee the families of the victims direct access, without any obstacle, to state security bodies and judicial bodies, to expose their cases and receive justice without any delay, as required by the Constitution and the various international instruments of protection of human rights, signed and ratified by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela". Thus writes, in a message sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Roberto Lückert, Archbishop Emeritus of Coro, President of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference . The text, which is dated June 18, is also signed by Fr. Saúl Ron Braasch, Vicar General of the same Commission.<br />In the meeting with the relatives of the 28 missing persons in Güiria, in the State of Sucre, while they were sailing on a boat to the island of Trinidad and Tobago, which left on April 23, those at the head of the Justice and Peace Commission were able to ascertain that "the majority of the missing persons in this circumstance were women, contacted by people who had offered them work and better living conditions". In May another boat disappeared, again with a considerable group of people on board.<br />Family members also complained that although they were informed that their relatives, mostly young women, had died in the shipwreck, the bodies have not yet been found and those in charge of carrying out the investigation do not respond in a timely manner.<br />"The Commission observes with concern that the increase of these episodes not only in the eastern part of the country, but also in the border areas of Falcón, Brazil and Colombia, where these groups of criminals that endanger life and physical integrity and the dignity of women operate - especially young people and minors, create great anxiety and despair in their families and particularly in boys and girls left in a situation of abandonment".<br />The Commission and Caritas reiterate in the conclusion of the press release that "they will continue to follow these cases and accompany their family members, to obtain justice, appropriate information and clarify the events". <br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Wed, 19 Jun 2019 10:50:39 +0200