Fides News - English Agency NewsenContent on this site is licensed under aOCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - The education of young people is the responsibility of politicians and the entire community - "We pray and work so that the right to education for all children can be truly recognized, not only on paper or speeches by politicians, but also concretely achieved by the daily care of their parents and communities": this is the hope of Sister Giovanna Bordin, missionary of the "Cavanis Jesus Good Shepherd Fraternity" in Bereina, touching a very important key, which politics has also underlined recently. "The government is deeply convinced that education is the tool that will transform and support the nation's prosperity", said James Marape, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, in an official letter.<br />Until the last school year, in PNG, a policy called "Tuition Fee Free Education" was in force, with which the state assumed full economic responsibility for school expenses. As from this year it has been announced that a new system called "Government Tuition Fee Subsidy" will be in force, with which the state will assume 80% of the school fees, leaving parents and families to cover the remaining 20%, with the aim of making them more responsible for the education of their children.<br />"The government wants to stop the welfare syndrome that has been allowed so far and has developed in Papuan culture", added Marape. "The change in financial management was decided to re-motivate parents and communities to work the land and work hard, to contribute to economic revival, renewing our nation and stopping the trend towards welfare and addiction syndrome" The Prime Minister continues writing: "By their nature Papuans are hard workers, resilient and independent. But for many years, the government has adopted and allowed policies that have made people lazy".<br />As Sister Bordin explains to Fides, "this new decision by the Marape government has raised criticism but, regardless of position or political sympathies, it is certainly important to recognize the strengths of one's culture and keep them alive, but also to recognize those attitudes of laziness and welfare that threatens to block the development of the nation. Any initiative and decision that can help change is important, even if criticized". "The hope in educating children can also awaken the strength and capacity for sacrifice and care of adults", concludes the missionary. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:33:30 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - The head of a Catholic community in central Nigeria has been killed - The head of the Catholic church of Saint Augustine in the Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State in central Nigeria has been killed.<br />According to what Agenzia Fides learns, on the morning of January 20, some bandits, perhaps Fulani shepherds, attacked the community of Abebe. In the shooting, Augustine Avertse, the leader of the local Catholic community died together with his father, Akaa'am Avertse, and two other people.<br />One of the survivors, who was injured, says that the attack was not provoked, as there had never been any form of misunderstanding between the members of the community and the Fulani shepherds who lived in the area.<br />In the meantime, the confirmation of the killing of Lawan Andimi, a local leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, who was kidnapped in early January by Boko Haram in the Michika Local Government Area in the State of Adamawa in northeastern Nigeria, aroused emotion. In a statement, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari spoke of the "cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative" murder, and assured that those responsible "will pay dearly for their actions". <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:24:23 +0100AFRICA/KENYA - Good management of Creation at the center of the Lenten campaign - "We believe that everything God created is good. Man was created in the image and likeness of God and was commanded to govern creation rationally to bring forth fruit from the earth", said His Exc. Mgr. John Oballa Owaa, Bishop of Ngong, and Chairman of KCCB – Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of Kenya, in presenting this year’s Lenten Campaign, whose theme is "Stewardship for a Transformed Nation… My obligation". The Lenten initiative is part of the campaign for the fight against corruption launched on 5th, October, 2019 at Subukia in Nakuru, . The Chairman of "Justice and Peace" recalled that those who are baptised have a special responsibility to share the kingly, prophetic and priestly life of Christ. <br />"Our stewardship must imitate that of Christ. Everything we have and are belong to God. We are simply managers or administrators acting on His behalf", said Mgr. Oballa. <br />For the next five weeks beginning 22nd, February 2020, Christians will be expected to reflect on weekly topics: Responsible Farming, Youth and Development, how people have handled the natural resources and how they can be improved.<br />The campaign promoted by the Bishops of Kenya wants to be a response to Pope Francis’ invitation in his encyclical Laudato Si’, taking care of ‘Our Common Home’ – the Earth <br />In Week Five and final week, Sanctity of Life and Dignity shall be discussed as every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:20:00 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - Asia Bibi's lawyer: "Too many religious pressures for cases of blasphemy" - "In Pakistan, lawyers who defend cases of blasphemy are severely attacked, abandoned and isolated. Although the Qur'an defends those who are wrongfully convicted of false accusations, the mentality in Pakistan is heavily conditioned by religious prejudice. In my case, for example, as a defender of the Christian Asia Bibi who was falsely accused of blasphemy, I was accused of 'defending the infidels' and was completely abandoned and isolated. Today I need bodyguards to move around and I could be in the sights of extremists. But I do not regret having committed myself to justice and for the good of Pakistan": says Muslim lawyer Saiful Malook, defender of Asia Bibi, to Agenzia Fides on the occasion of the "International Day of the Endangered Lawyer", which is celebrated on January 24, initiative of the "Day of the Endangered Lawyer Foundation", based in the Netherlands.<br />The celebration of the Day, now in its tenth edition, in 2020 is dedicated to Pakistan, a country in which in recent years "some lawyers have been subjected to acts of mass terrorism, murder, attempted murder, assaults, death threats, contempt proceedings, intimidation in the exercise of their professional functions", says a note from the Foundation sent to Agenzia Fides. "They were also arrested, detained or tortured and in some cases even family members of the murdered lawyers", he adds. The aggression best known to Pakistani lawyers occurred on August 8, 2016 when terrorists attacked the government hospital in Quetta with a suicide attack that resulted in the death of 54 lawyers who were participating in an assembly nearby. Since then there has been an alarming increase in the number of lawyers killed, with nine victims in the past year.<br />The Foundation, with other partner organizations, has released a report on the current situation of lawyers in Pakistan, which highlights the difficult situation in which many lawyers live and work. Among them Saiful Malook who, due to death threats received, had to seek protection from the States of the European Union. During the participation in a conference organized in Rome by the Union of Italian Criminal Chambers on January 20, Malook remarked that "in the trials relating to the cases of blasphemy, the defendant lawyers of the accused encounter critical issues and obstacles: there is a very strong religious pressure, judges are afraid and, in the vast majority of cases, they accept the evidence condemning the person accused of blasphemy". Only in the subsequent levels of courts - before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court - can one laboriously try to reverse the sentence and bring out the truth, Malook notes, "but you do it at your own expense, taking into account that you can end up in the crosshairs", he notes.<br />The purpose of the day is to draw public attention to the importance of the profession of lawyer as a defender of fundamental human rights. International Day of the Endangered Lawyer intends to commemorate the massacre that took place on January 24, 1977 in Madrid, when a commando of terrorists broke into a lawyers' office, killing five and injuring four. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:04:46 +0100ASIA/INDIA - Prayer and adoration after the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament in Bangalore - On 24 January the entire diocesan community of Bangalore "is called to do penance and reparation in churches and religious houses for this sacrilegious and ignominious deed", says Archbishop Peter Machado, at the head of the Catholic community of Bangalore, after the theft and desecration of the Blessed Sacrament in a parish of the archdiocese of Bangalore. As Fides learns, the theft took place in St Francis Assisi Catholic Church, in the suburb of Kengeri, on the night of January 20. Capuchin Father Sathish Kumar, parish priest of the church of St Francis Assisi, has filed a complaint with the local police and investigations are underway. "I am not only terribly shocked but also greatly grieved that desecration was done to the Eucharistic Lord in that church. This sacrilege and serious dishonour done to Our Blessed Lord and Saviour is a matter of great concern, not only to the parishioners of St Francis Assisi Parish but also to the religious feelings of everyone in the Archdiocese", wrote the Archbishop in a note sent to Fides.<br />In the first 19 days of January, 17 incidents of violence against Christians in India were reported, says the "United Christian Forum" , based on complaints made via the helpline activated by the organization, which documents cases of violence against churches and Christians in India.<br />"A Pastor has been arrested. There was physical assault, while some religious activities have been stopped by the authority", UCF leader Michael told Fides.<br />John Dayal, a Catholic journalist and human rights activist told Fides: "Violence occurs while the nation sees religious minorities discriminated against by legislative provisions such as the Citizenship Emendament Act , National Register of Citizens and National Population Register . There is a state of impunity and a campaign of hatred that accompanies and aggravates these phenomena". <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 12:01:59 +0100AMERICA/VENEZUELA - The body of the priest who went missing since January 16 has been found - The diocese of San Cristóbal is experiencing with consternation the discovery of the lifeless body of Fr. José Manuel Rondón Molina, who went missing since last Thursday, January 16. "With pain and sadness I must communicate that Fr. Manuel Rondón's lifeless body was found, let us pray for him", said Msgr. Mario Moronta, Bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal where the tragic events happened.<br />The presbyter, 47 years old and priest for 14, was currently residing near the convent of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Rubio, in the municipality of Junín. He was the spiritual director of the cloistered nuns, where he celebrated the Eucharist every day, but since last Thursday neither the religious nor his relatives had any news, so the Bishop had informed the police authorities. His body was found in a wooded area of Rubio.<br />The note sent to Fides by the diocese of San Cristobal, states: "The Church of Táchira rejects this terrible and similar events that happen every day in the region. In turn, the church implores God's mercy for the people involved and for the comfort of the family and for Father Manuel Rondón’s friends. The priest's lifeless body was found in a state of decomposition". The diocese of San Cristóbal will promptly inform where the funeral will take place and asks the faithful to accompany the priest's eternal rest with prayer, concludes the note. <br />Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:18:28 +0100AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Appointment of the Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Philosophical Seminary in Antsirabé City - On 1 March 2019 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Jean Nicolas Rakotojaona, of the Archdiocesan clergy of Antananarivo as Rector of the Saint Paul Apotre interdiocesan major philosophical seminary in the diocese of Antsirabé, Madagascar.<br />The new Rector was born on 18 January 1973 in Anosy Avaratra and was ordained a priest on 3 August 2002 in Faliarivo Ambanidia. He went to the minor and preparatory Seminary of Ambohipo, then studied philosophy at the "Saint Paul Apotre" major Seminary in Antsirabé and theology at the Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant Jésus major Seminary in Faliarivo. He continued his studies at the Catholic University of Madagascar and at the University of Friborg, obtaining a degree in Philosophy and a doctorate in theology. Since his ordination he was engaged in parish ministry, professor in various training courses for lay people. Since 2017 he was Vice-Rector of the "Saint Paul Apotre" Seminary of which he was appointed Rector. <br />Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:22:53 +0100ASIA/PAKISTAN - The celebrations for the 800th anniversary of the encounter between St. Francis and the Sultan comes to an end: a peace commitment in Pakistan - With a joint reading of passages from the Holy Bible and the Koran, the closing ceremony of the celebrations commemorating the 800 years since the conversation between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al was held in recent days in Lahore-Kamil, which took place in 1219: the eighth centenary of that historic meeting had wide echo in Pakistan throughout 2019. The closing of the special Jubilee was celebrated in Lahore, in the presence of numerous Christian and Muslim leaders.<br />As Fides learns, among those present, Archbishop Christophe Zakhia El-Kassis, Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan, stressed that "the encounter of St. Francis of Assisi with the Sultan occurred in an atmosphere of fear and danger, but that fear turned into dialogue which led to peace and friendship". "We can learn to promote peace and coexistence from Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan", he added, promising "support for the promotion of peace, harmony, tolerance in society".<br />Beside him, Mgr. Sebastian Francis Shaw, Archbishop of Lahore and President of the National Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan, agreed stating that "it is necessary to accept each other in society as Saint Francis of Assisi and Sultan Al-Kamil did, to promote peaceful coexistence".<br />Among the civil authorities, Ijaz Alam Augustine, Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities and Minister of Interreligious Dialogue in Punjab, said he "appreciated the significant ceremony" by noting that "the government promotes tolerance and harmony in society and intends to continue developing a policy of inter-religious peace and harmony in order to promote the spirit of coexistence in society".<br />Numerous Muslim and Hindu religious leaders attended this ceremony, ensuring their commitment "to support the cause of humanity for a prosperous and harmonious society in Pakistan, bearing in mind the peace initiative experienced centuries ago by St. Francis of Assisi and of the Sultan".<br />In the assembly there were students from different schools who presented a theatrical performance inspired by the prayer of peace of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Pakistani song "Is percham k saye talay eik hain - We are one thing". The youth of the Capuchin Franciscan student residence in Lahore presented a dramatization of the encounter of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Sultan. The ceremony ended with a solemn commitment by all those present to be "instruments and peacemakers in Pakistan". <br />Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:18:00 +0100AFRICA/NIGERIA - "We are under siege" says the Archbishop of Kaduna where 4 seminarians were kidnapped - "No other Country will tolerate this type of insecurity without calling for mass protests. Definitely our country is under siege", said His Exc. Mgr. Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso, Archbishop of Kaduna, Nigeria, the archdiocese where on the evening of January 8 four seminarians were kidnapped in the" Good Shepherd" Major Seminary of Kakau along the Kaduna-Abuja highway .<br />"This is the third time kidnapping is happening directly to our diocese", said the Archbishop. "I can't sleep at the thought of the conditions that the four students are experiencing," added Archbishop Ndagoso.<br />"People can no longer sleep with two eyes closed, yet our leaders have the courage to say that there is security in the Country", said Archbishop Ndagoso, who adds that the population seems to be resigned to growing insecurity. "I think people now seem to have given up on the security situation because there is nothing they can do, they just resigned to fate".<br />The Archbishop wonders why security cannot be restored in the area because "with the technologically developed security gadgets in the 21st century, there is nowhere in the world, even underwater that criminals cannot be traced or tracked". "But security agencies keep on saying that they are on top of the situation".<br />After saying that "security measures were strengthened in the seminary" in order to protect other students", Archbishop Ndagoso concludes saying that "we will continue to pray for the kidnapped seminarians, until they are freed. We keep hoping that God will expose those behind the insecurity in this Country". <br />Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:23:31 +0100OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Jubilee of the beatification of Peter ToRot, an example for everyone - "The defense of the sacrament of marriage as a way of conjugal holiness was the main motivation that led to the beatification of Peter ToRot", said Mgr. Rochus Tatamai MSC, bishop of Kavieng - Lorengau and president of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the celebration of the silver Jubilee of the Blessed and martyr, raised to the glory of the altars 25 years ago, lay and first blessed of Papua New Guinea.<br />In his homily, the Bishop spoke at length about the life and martyrdom of Peter ToRot, pointing out to all the faithful as an "example of Christian life" to follow. From his story, the Bishop drew useful ideas for catechists, talking about the sacrament of marriage and family life, and focusing on the relationship between faith and culture.<br />The Jubilee Mass was a moment of great devotion and participation of the faithful: the choir and a group of young women led the offertory procession with a traditional dance and melody of the Duke of York Islands, in the province of eastern New Britain . Participants also included a large group of faithful from the parishes of the archdiocese of Port Moresby and members of various religious congregations. The main Jubilee celebrations took place in the village of Rakunai on Friday 17 January 2020, and were coordinated by the "Blessed Peter ToRot Foundation Inc", a lay organization founded in 1996 to promote the life and work of the Blessed and to support the archbishop of Rabaul in the cause of canonization.<br />The presence and message of the Blessed also crossed the borders of Papua New Guinea and arrived in Australia: on January 19, Cardinal Ribat blessed a chapel dedicated to Peter ToRot in the Shrine of Our Lady help of Christians in the Marian Valley, in Brisbane.<br />Blessed Peter ToRot, catechist in the village of Rakunai on the Gazelle peninsula, eastern province of New Britain, was killed by the Japanese in 1945, towards the end of the Second World War, for refusing to stop his catechist and witness of the faith activities. In particular, ToRot defended the sanctity of marriage, thus challenging the practice of polygamy, authorized by the Japanese. Pope John Paul II officially declared him a martyr on January 17, 1995 during the beatification ceremony in Port Moresby. <br />Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:43:38 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - The Bishop of Tapachula: in the face of the ambiguous and hesitant official position, it is important to "see, listen to and treat migrants as brothers" - "All those who are part of this diocesan family of Tapachula, each according to their possibilities and responsibilities, must ensure these migrant brothers a piece of bread, must not be raped, must not receive manifestations of refusal or of contempt and feel, despite the adverse circumstances, to walk among brothers and as brothers, not as strangers, nor adventurers, nor criminals, neither exiled nor despised. God will reward everyone's effort to see them, listen to them and treat them like brothers. Just as we would like our illegal compatriots to be treated in the United States". This is the appeal launched by Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón, Bishop of Tapachula, to the priests, seminarians, women religious and lay people of his diocese, after the news regarding a new substantial caravan of Honduran emigrants who are heading towards the United States of America.<br />"The declarations of the federal government and the silence of the state government show us that the official position is, as on other occasions, ambiguous and hesitant", denounces the Bishop in his message sent to Fides, entitled "Responsibility and love for our brothers", unsure whether the migrant caravan can cross the border, reach Tapachula or continue beyond the state of Chiapas. "Given this uncertainty, but aware of our Christian duty as baptized children of God - Father of all without differences or distinctions - we feel the duty to show our thoughts with simplicity, clarity and determination towards our brothers" continues Mgr. Jaime Calderón Calderón.<br />The Bishop recalls that the diocesan family of Tapachula "has always distinguished itself for being a fraternal and supportive local Church which, since its poverty, has always been careful to show the merciful face of God, being hospitable with migrant brothers". Its face is that of the good Samaritan, so "we will always make sure that the migrant brothers do not have other sufferings in addition to those that involve a long, winding, bumpy road, insecure and violent".<br />In his statement, the Bishop assigns to the various communities, coordinated by the Emergency Commission and the vicars forane, the task of assisting migrants who cross the diocesan territory, invoking God "to help us, once again, to do this work with a high sense of responsibility and love for our brothers". <br />Mon, 20 Jan 2020 11:20:48 +0100AMERICA/PERU - Assembly of Bishops: extraordinary elections of parliament on January 26 among the topics under consideration - With the mass presided by Mgr. Miguel Cabrejos OFM, President of the Peruvian Episcopal Conference and President of the Latin American Episcopal Council , concelebrated by all the Bishops of Peru, the 115 Plenary Assembly of the Peruvian Episcopate will begin on Monday 20 January. <br />After mass, in the parish of Sant'Antonio da Padova, in Lima, the 52 Bishops of the 46 ecclesiastical jurisdictions of the country will go to the CEP headquarters to start the working sessions. As in any assembly, the Bishops will examine various topics, in the spirit of communion and synodality, and analyze the latest events in the Country. They will also elect the Secretary General and the President of the Economic Council of CEP. As every year, the Medal of Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo will be awarded to people and institutions who have distinguished themselves for their work in favor of the Church in Peru.<br />Among the points on which the Bishops will have to discuss, there are the next extraordinary elections of Parliament, on January 26, after the dissolution by President Vizcarra, last September 30, for the corruption of parliamentarians. In October 2019, in the midst of a political crisis, the Peruvian Bishops had asked the national community to transform that bitter sentiment against politics into a moment of reform for the country, as happens in other Latin American realities. According to local sources of Fides, this does not happen in the Peruvian reality and society currently lives the same climate as last September. <br />The first inquiries made by reliable bodies revealed that the majority of Peruvians do not know who to vote for, and there is still a lot of indifference towards politics. We therefore see the prospect of a possible Parliament with many small parties. Thus, as international critics say, there will be a false parliamentary majority made up of genuine political minorities. Unfortunately, the election campaign is characterized by political exhibitionism and there are many who do not worry about the common good or the future of the country. <br />Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:35:55 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The whole Church in East Africa greets the Rome Declaration on the peace process in South Sudan - "I am happy to hear about this declaration. It is only my hope and prayer that the two parties – the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and the Opposition – will keep it. You know that the Holy Father is very much involved in it; we too are involved in it. But that is my prayer and hope", said His Exc. Mgr. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu in Uganda, commenting on the Declaration signed in Rome on January 13, to end the war in South Sudan. Archbishop Odama, whose archdiocese hosts many refugees from South Sudan and is also heavily involved in interreligious peace initiatives in South Sudan.<br />The Declaration was signed thanks to the efforts of the Community of Sant'Egidio, which acted as a facilitator, by South Sudan government representatives and the country’s Opposition Movements .<br />The agreement provides for: the "solemn" commitment to the cessation of hostilities starting from midnight on January 15th; the commitment to discuss and evaluate together, in Sant'Egidio, the mechanisms to resolve differences; the guarantee for humanitarian organizations to be able to operate in the Country in support of the civilian population.<br />The agreement was greeted by the Bishops of neighboring Countries that adhere to AMECEA . The AMECEA Secretary General Fr Anthony Makunde has also commended the initiatives taken by Sant’Egidio and all the regional and international partners to bring lasting peace to South Sudan. "As Saint Paul said, when one organ is sick the whole body feels sick. Therefore, any efforts towards bringing lasting peace to South Sudan are for the good of the entire AMECEA family. Our appeal is to our brothers and sisters in South Sudan to reciprocate to these efforts so that we may put our efforts together towards this common course. We assure them of our prayers and support, asking our Lord the Prince of Peace to intervene", concludes Fr. Makunde.<br />The Episcopal Conferences of Ethiopia and Eritrea are part of AMECEA; Kenya; Malawi; Sudan and South Sudan; Tanzania; Uganda and Zambia. Somalia and Djibouti have observer status. <br />Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:25:42 +0100ASIA/TURKEY - Patriarch Sahak II denies criticism of the Armenian diaspora attributed to him by Turkish media - Sahak II Masalyan, the new Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople elected on December 11, wanted to at least partially deny the critical statements towards the Armenian diaspora communities scattered all over the world that had been attributed to him by some Turkish media, in the weeks following his patriarchal election. A note from the patriarchal secretariat calls in particular the Turkish Akşam daily, and the article in that newspaper published on January 2 which reported some harsh judgments with which the new Patriarch criticized the whole Armenian diaspora in a comprehensive way, stating that the Armenian communities in diaspora have "nothing in common with the Armenians who remained in Turkey" . The Patriarchal segretariat - reports Agos, Armenian-Turkish bilingual newspaper published in Istanbul - claims that the Patriarch's statements have been reported in an inaccurate and misleading way, forcing their contents and distorting nuanced and articulated considerations with additions of interpolations to be attributed only to the editor of the Article.<br />Indeed, the statements attributed to the Patriarch - and published on Thursday 2 January by the Turkish nationalist Akşam daily- were fatally destined to provoke controversy. In those statements, the new Patriarch seemed to want to emphasize the distance of the Armenian patriarchate of Constantinople from the circles of the Armenian diaspora, which hands down from one generation to another the memory of the massacres suffered by the Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 as an identity factor. "We" underlined the new Patriarch "chose to stay in the country and live with the rest of the people. Diaspora is a thing of the past".<br />The electoral process for the choice of the new Patriarch with the election of Sahak was suffered and marked by controversies destined to have consequences in the future, caused at least in part by the intertwining between ecclesiastical personalities and interference from local secular systems. <br />Sat, 18 Jan 2020 12:10:36 +0100VATICAN - Week of prayer for Christian unity: "Hospitality is a virtue that testifies to the loving encounter with others" City - "We are called to pray, so that all Christians will become one family again, to witness together love for Christ": this is what Fr. Anthony Currer, official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity says in a conversation with Agenzia Fides, on the occasion of the opening of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity , an international ecumenical prayer initiative, celebrated all over the world, jointly promoted by the Ecumenical Council of Churches, for Protestants and Orthodox, and by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, for Catholics.<br />The Prayer was first established in 1908 as a time when Christian faiths pray together for the achievement of the full unity of the Church. Each year it takes place in the northern hemisphere between 18 and 25 January, while in the southern hemisphere on other dates, for example during Pentecost.<br />The texts proposed to Christians around the world for 2020 are the result of a project carried out by the Churches of Malta and Gozo, which focuses on the tragedy of migrants and on the theme of reception: "The theme for the week of prayer this year - reports Fr. Currer - is 'They showed us unsusual kindness' and draws inspiration from the episode narrated in the final chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in which Saint Paul and the men who are with him on the ship after a terrible storm, manage to save themselves and are generously rescued by the inhabitants of the island of Malta".<br />"This episode - explains the reverend - re-proposes the drama of humanity: the passengers of the boat are at the mercy of the violent sea and the mighty storm that rages around them. They are forces that push them towards unknown landing places, and they feel lost. Divine Providence - he continues - unites them, however, in the hope of salvation. The ship and all its precious cargo will be lost, but all will have their lives saved".<br />Therefore, the people on the same ship reach the same destination, where the hospitality of the islanders reveals the unity of mankind: "In our search for unity - notes Fr. Currer - abandoning oneself to Divine Providence implies the need to let go of many of the things we are deeply attached to. What is dear to God is the salvation of all".<br />"As Christians and human beings - says Fr. Anthony - this story challenges us: do we collide with the cold forces of indifference, or do we show a 'rare kindness' and become witnesses of God's loving providence to all men? Hospitality is a fundamental virtue in our search for Christian unity. Our Christian unity - he concludes - will be discovered not only by showing hospitality to each other, but also through encounters of love with those who do not speak our language, do not have our culture or our faith".<br />The main ecumenical celebration took place in the pro-Anglican Cathedral of Saint Paul in La Valletta on the evening of Friday 24 January. Finally, the various ecumenical partners and the people involved in the ecumenical dialogue in Malta will meet on Saturday 25 January, the day of the conclusion of the week, for a moment of prayer and sharing. <br /><br/><strong>Link correlati</strong> :<a href="">Watch the video interview with Reverend Anthony Currer on Agenzia Fides Youtube channel</a>Sat, 18 Jan 2020 11:39:32 +0100AFRICA/TOGO - A social, political, religious and cultural revolution is urgently needed to promote female leadership - In many African countries it is time for elections. "Social structures, such as politics, religion and culture, sometimes constitute real obstacles to promoting female leadership", notes the Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions, Father Donald Zagore. "Because of the strongly male-dominated structures, women on the African continent remain outside the fundamental roles in the life of their countries. Aside from the exceptional and successful example of Ellen Johnson, former president of Liberia, women in Africa are satisfied with carrying out secondary roles in the political life of their countries. In Togo, for example, for the next presidential election on February 22, 2020, no woman is among the ten declared candidates.<br />The Ivorian priest insists on the enormous female potential "that could bring that political stability that is lacking in our countries. A social, political, religious and cultural revolution is urgently needed to promote women's leadership in Africa", concludes Fr. Zagore. <br />Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:47:43 +0100AMERICA/MEXICO - Week for Christian unity: "a unity that does not exclude anyone, especially the most disadvantaged, and among these migrants" City - The material for living the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, from 18 to 25 January, was prepared this year by the Christian Churches of Malta and Gozo. Every year on February 10th they celebrate the feast of the shipwreck of Saint Paul and, with this event, the evangelization of the islands. The reflections and the motto, "They treated us kindly" therefore have as their theme the journey of the Apostle, prisoner and chained, who had to face storms at sea. As the Bishop of Veracruz, Carlos Briseño Arch, President of the Episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Communion of the Mexican Episcopal Conference recalls in his message, "prisoners, sailors and soldiers were shipwrecked and arrived on an island, where the inhabitants did not speak their language, did not share their culture or religion, but were warmly welcomed, with food and clothes and treated with kindness".<br />In the text sent to Fides, the Bishop of Veracruz explains: "This passage in the life of Saint Paul reminds us of scenes that we currently see in the news: migrants facing storms, are received on many occasions with indifference, discrimination and rejection; they are kidnapped or exploited and even subjected to human trafficking. Is this the attitude of a Christian? Is this what God expects of us?"<br />Citing Pope Francis who has denounced this situation several times, Mgr. Carlos Briseño Arch stresses that "migrants, refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking have become an emblem of exclusion because, in addition to enduring the difficulties due to their conditions, they are often subject to negative judgments, as they are considered responsible for social diseases. The attitude towards them constitutes an alarm signal, which warns us of the moral decay that we face if we continue to give space to the culture of waste.<br />In Mexico one of the pastoral commitments of the Global Pastoral Project is to identify and accompany vulnerable groups in society, migrants among others. "The materials we offer for the eight days - concludes the Bishop - have been prepared to pray for the unity of Christians, but a unity that does not exclude anyone, that does not forget anyone, especially the most disadvantaged, the weakest and, among these, migrants". <br />Sat, 18 Jan 2020 10:42:02 +0100AMERICA/COLOMBIA - A human rights defender killed every day, the Bishops ask for an immediate response from the institutions - The Bishops of Colombia feel "immense pain and concern in receiving, every day during this 2020, news of assassinations of leaders and threats to communities", express "solidarity with the survivors, family members and friends of those who lost their lives in this wave of violence and senseless death", says the statement of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia after the murder of another social leader. 17 days have passed since the beginning of 2020 and there are also 17 human rights defenders killed because leaders or representatives of some rural community.<br />"We insist on the need to implement a national public policy to deal with this threat, which includes protection initiatives, timely responses to alarms and effective presence of state institutions in the most vulnerable communities", write the Bishops, addressing the new municipal and regional administrators recently elected, urging them to put the protection of communities and social leaders into their administrative programs.<br />The Bishops' request starts from respect for the life of each person, "which is sacred", and the murders and violent actions "against our brothers and sisters" end up "threatening democracy" and the institutions of the Country. <br />According to the Bishops’ Conference, 17 deaths have been recorded in less than 17 days since the beginning of 2020, while the NGO Instituto de Estudios sobre Paz y Desarrollo reports 21. But this type of violence comes from afar and the political movement of the Patriotic March claim that the actual numbers of the murdered leaders exceed 700 units, in addition to the 140 former FARC fighters who were killed after the signing of the peace agreement . The final count in 2019 was 250 murdered only for social leaders, including 23 in December 2019. The solution to this type of violence, again according to INDEPAZ, is the promotion of the economic and social development of these territories. The Catholic Church, which has been following and denouncing this dramatic situation for some time, has made proposals for the development and respect for human rights in the region . <br />Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:59:25 +0100ASIA/MYANMAR - The Bishop of Myitkyina: "Stop violence, which slows down development" - The bloodshed that continues in some parts of Myanmar "is a cause for concern for all, is a brake on development, blocks the construction of a sustainable future": says Bishop Francis Daw Tang, at the guide of the diocese of Myitkyina, in the state of Kachin, in northern Myanmar. Through Agenzia Fides, the Bishop launched a heartfelt appeal, hoping that "the violence and conflicts that still torment the country will be resolved through dialogue: the people of Myanmar aspire to peace and development".<br />The Bishop recalls that the conflicts with ethnic minorities and the tension between local rebel groups and the regular army have lasted for decades. "This state of affairs marked by a condition of permanent conflict has caused serious problems for the population of all walks of life, creating great suffering among civilians and generating waves of internally displaced persons", notes Mgr. Tang in his interview with Fides.<br />Among the dioceses most affected by violence and bloodshed are those of Banmaw and Myitkyina, in the Kachin state, and that of Lashio, in the Shan state. The Kachin and the Shan are in fact two of the major ethnic groups that have organized a rebellion - since the days of the dictatorship - and have fought with the Burmese army.<br />"Ethnic violence and relentless conflict in the North Myanmar region are putting a strain on the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of people, while the conditions for guaranteeing sustenance, education and peace in the region remain critical", notes the Bishop, expressing bitterness for the situation.<br />In this context, the diocese of Myitkyina is trying to live the year 2020, says Mgr. Tang, "focusing on the challenges to respond to the concrete needs of the faithful, starting from health, education and social development, while taking care of the pastoral aspects related to spiritual growth and administration of the sacraments".<br />In particular, a challenge that the diocese faces is the situation that affects many young people who "interrupt their studies for various reasons", linked to the unease of the present situation. The Church, through her pastoral workers, tries to limit this bloodshed and "to accompany them in the growth and development of a particular skill, also proposing professional training itineraries, so that they can have an occupation and a social position in society", explains the Bishop.<br />The diocese of Myitkyina has over 90,000 Catholics spread across 20 parishes, in which 64 priests and 120 nuns operate. <br />Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:49:09 +0100AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Bishop of Tombura-Yambio to politicians: "True leadership is in favor of young people" - "People from all walks of life are urging South Sudan to achieve peace. Foreigners are even investing their money for this goal. They all want peace for our country. It is time for leaders to show true leadership": this is the appeal launched by Mgr. Edwardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of the diocese of Tombura Yambio, who has returned to talk about the peace agreement in the country .<br />The Bishop also expressed some disappointment at how the understanding is proceeding. Hiiboro urged leaders "to think about the good of the country's population, especially children and young people, who are denied a bright future because of political conflicts".<br />The Bishop of Tombura Yambio spoke on the occasion of the distribution of books for primary and secondary school students in the western states of Gbudue, Tambura, Maridi and Amadi, four of the 32 that make up South Sudan. <br />The event was held in the Curia of Yambio thanks to donations from the association of Catholics of the diocese who live in America.<br />"The distribution of the books was expected last year, but adverse weather conditions did not allow it. It was the best gift to start the academic year and promote literacy in the region. We strengthen not only school libraries, but also public ones. We encourage the culture of reading because thanks to it, great things happen", said the Bishop, thanking the representatives of the four states, and added that, despite political instability, the ministries of education in their respective states have never remained vacant.<br />The diocesan coordinator for education, Ceasar DauDau, praised and thanked the donors for the initiative that will contribute significantly to helping students on their academic journey. "The problems in this country are the result of illiteracy. Politics came before technical development, unlike what happens in other developed countries. It is time to change this mindset", said a collaborator operating in the state of Gbudue. <br />Fri, 17 Jan 2020 12:26:27 +0100