Fides News English Agency Newsen-usAMERICA/PERU - "Gold fever" increases human trafficking and sexual exploitation - "Childhood is a treasure that is worth much more than gold karat" is the title of the campaign promoted by the NGO Anesvad to denounce the reality in which people live in the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios, exploited illegally by criminal organizations which in this mining area involve more than 25% of children and adolescents between 14 and 17 years of age. Many people have migrated to the region, attracted by economic gain derived from the extraction of the mineral which in the last decade has had a huge rise in the price on the international markets and sparked this "gold fever". <br />According to the NGO, committed in cooperation projects for development in 18 Countries in the three poorest continents in the world , the phenomenon of illegal mining has caused havoc in the mining area and has increased labor exploitation, prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism. Without neglecting the increase in pollution and deforestation of the area of the Amazon rainforest of Peru, where it is estimated that over 40,000 hectares have already disappeared. In recent years the population of Madre de Dios has increased by 400%. The campaign, and the web page denounces the systematic violation of human rights and promotes the collection of funds to support prevention programs and health care for the victims. Human trafficking generates a revenue of $ 32 million per year, and is the third most lucrative illegal activity in the world after the sale of arms and drug trafficking. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - Water emergency in Gaza, initiatives of AGIRE network - The shortage or complete lack of water in cities, villages and refugee camps weighs on the lives of people fleeing in different areas of the Middle East. The management of water supplies and the control of large dams also created friction in the past between Syria, Turkey and Iraq, and now represents one of the areas of contention between armies and militias, including those of jihadist origin. It is no coincidence that the dams in Tabqua and Mosul have been the priority objectives of the militiamen of the Islamic State. And a striking incident is represented by the situation in Aleppo, where the interruption of water supplies is used as a collective punishment in all sectors of the divided city. <br />Access to water is also one of the "hotspots" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians have at their disposal a quantity of drinking water that is among the lowest in the world, well below the threshold of absolute scarcity. <br />Non-governmental organizations linked to the AGIRE network are also committed to supporting projects to ensure adequate water supply to the population of Gaza. "In Gaza - says Stefano Gambini, CVG project leader in a statement sent to Fides Agency - we intervened immediately after the signing of the truce, to repair water infrastructure, and we handed out vouchers for the purchase of fuel and the use of water purification systems, desalination and water pumping both for families and for schools, nurseries and hospitals". In the Palestinian city water supply and the restoration of destroyed or damaged sewer system is essential for at least one million inhabitants, about two thirds of the population of the entire Gaza Strip. "As CVG, we are working to ensure that 600,000 people have access to safe drinking water, electricity, fuel necessary for carrying out their daily activities". The organization COOPI imposed an intervention program in the Gaza Strip that provides in the first phase, the distribution of drinking water to 4,500 people and the restoration of three wells and connecting water systems to water tanks, in order to allow access to water for domestic use for a population of about 50,000 inhabitants. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Religious leaders committed to calm tensions on the border with Uganda - The local religious leaders are at the forefront to calm tensions in the border area between South Sudan and Uganda, among residents of Kajo-Keji and those of Moyo . The two communities have become the protagonists of a series of attacks and reprisals along the border between the two States. The South Sudanese accuse the residents of Moyo of having destroyed 90 homes and stealing 37 head of cattle during a raid in the southern Sudanese territory. In retaliation, 12 Ugandan women have been kidnapped in Moyo and brought to Kajo-Keji. In recent clashes at least 7 people were killed. <br />A gesture of reconciliation between the two communities was addressed by His Exc. Mgr. Erkolano Lodu Tombe, Bishop of Yei. Mgr. Lodu Tombe has urged residents not to repay evil with evil, and to have confidence in the governments of the two Countries to resolve the border dispute. The Bishop then asked the two governments to speed up procedures to demarcate the border in order to avoid new tensions. <br />The Anglican Bishop of Kajo-Keji, Rev. Anthony Poggo, has appealed to the two communities to immediately cease the violence. Two delegations, each composed of about twenty people in their communities, have asked the governments of Uganda and South Sudan to monitor and demarcate the border as soon as possible. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/HAITI - Social movements denounce the failure of the UN Mission, protests in the streets au Prince - Protests were held in the capital of Haiti against the presence of MINUSTAH due to its total failure. According to a note sent to Fides, the Haitian Platform for Action for an Alternative Development , which brings together almost all social movements in Haiti, presented a report that criticizes the intervention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, on the political and institutional situation of Haiti, made to the Security Council of the UN on 11 September. <br />Haitians denounce a false picture of the results of the UN Mission, it does not recognize its total failure and the human rights violations at the hands of its troops in the territory of Haiti. For the leaders of PAPDA, UN forces not only did not solve the security problems, but even contributed to the country's political crisis. Furthermore, "the Mission does not meet Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for this kind of mission only if there are groups in conflict or a situation of armed conflict, such as civil war, crimes against humanity and/or genocide", the statement said. <br />The situation in Haiti is tense because in October the mandate of MINUSTAH should be renewed and at the same time the political system is still blocked because the date for the elections has not yet been fixed . Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Public opinion divided on the request for the withdrawal of UNHCR from the country Domingo - The news that the Dominican Republic will ask the United Nations to withdraw its Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from the country and its representative, Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, because he accused the country of not accepting Haitians, is dividing the Dominican public opinion. <br />Legislators and leftist movements in fact continue to express their disagreement regarding the withdrawal of UNHCR, describing it as improvised, while denouncing the illiteracy of members of the Dominican government. Other MPs have confirmed the processing of a document that, according to the note sent to Fides, will be presented to the UN in tomorrow’s session. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/IRAQ - The Chaldean Patriarch to priests and religious who emigrated without permission: come back to serve those most in need - A reprimand to priests and religious who left Iraq without having asked and obtained the necessary consent of their superiors was released on Monday, September 21 by the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael I. In the statement, sent to Fides Agency, the Primate of the Chaldean Church wishes everyone to rediscover "the absolute joy of the service of the Gospel" and points out that, because of their condition, priests and monks cannot decide "where to serve, how to serve and those who to serve", making choices in an individualistic way, without giving account to anyone for their decisions. "We have to live and die in the place where God calls us" repeats the Chaldean Patriarch in his message. Also - he adds - priests and religious should not have desire for comfortable living conditions, but serve the brothers following Christ, even agreeing to carry the cross, when required by the circumstances. For this reason, no one can leave their diocese or religious community without the formal approval of the Bishop or his superior, as reaffirmed on the occasion of the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean held in June 2013. Already at that time, to put a stop to a malpractice spread in recent years, the Chaldean Synod of Bishops held in Baghdad ruled that no priest can transfer his residence from one diocese to another without the consent of both the Bishops. <br />Now, after the tragic events that in northern Iraq have involved tens of thousands of Christians forced to flee their homes before the advance of the jihadists of the Islamic State , Patriarch Louis Raphael I recalls all the Chaldean priests and religious who left Iraq and moved to the Chaldean diaspora communities around the world, to return to their country and put themselves at the service of those who are most in need. The Patriarch finally warns that disciplinary measures will be taken for those who, within a month, do not respond to the call by giving his account of his situation to their superiors. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/VIETNAM - Family, cradle of faith and of Christian witness - "For the Church in Vietnam, the family is still the traditional cradle of faith, the place where faith is transmitted to their children, it is the first training school for the younger generation, it is a privileged space of Christian witness": says the Commission for the Family of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, at the conclusion of an assembly held recently in Thanh Hoa, in view of the forthcoming Synod on the family which is celebrated in the Vatican from October 5 to 19. <br />As Fides learns, under the guidance of His Exc. Mgr. Joseph Chau Ngoc Tri, Bishop of Da Nang, President of the Commission, 155 delegates from 21 dioceses, priests, nuns and lay people involved in family ministry gathered. The assembly was intended to modernize the reflection on the challenges and prospects of the pastoral care of families, to be held in Rome, in the Vietnamese context. Each local Church is called "to listen, think, discuss, ask, pray to be able to contribute", remarked the Bishop. <br />The conference presented the situation of family pastoral in Vietnam and the different activities that are carried forward, calling for a reflection on future pastoral orientations. Among the difficulties that arose were those concerning young families, adequate preparation for Christian marriage, the responsibilities and tasks of the parish, the protection of life. <br />After three days of prayer and work, the conference acknowledged that the family in Vietnam lives a difficult and challenging phase, but has renewed enthusiasm and hope: the Vietnamese Church announces the Good News to the family, which is the cell of society so that faith can flourish in every family, bearing fruit to the whole Church. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/EL SALVADOR - Dengue and chikungunya: the most affected age group ranges from 5 to 19 Salvador - According to recent data provided by the Directorate for Civil Protection of the State of El Salvador, the age groups of people most affected by chikungunya fever in the Country range from 5 to 19, with 12,113 cases recorded. Given the increase, the National Civil Protection has re-launched a plan of fumigation in the municipalities infected. Schools are among the breeding grounds of infection, not because they have not been disinfested, but because they are in areas where fumigation has not yet been carried out. The cases of chikungunya went from 100 new cases per week in the month of June to 2000 in the month of September. The highest number was recorded in the city of San Salvador. Local authorities say that the biggest dangers of infection are in 27 municipalities. <br />The goal is to extend the plan of pest control in these municipalities, mainly in the metropolitan area of San Salvador.<br />It will be done three times in each area to try to stop the spread of dengue and chikungunya. According to the local Ministry of Health, dengue in the Americas has become a pandemic, 4 deaths and 39,569 suspected cases have been recorded in the Country. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/INDIA - Caritas India renews "the joy of service Delhi – The "joy of the Gospel" corresponds to the "joy of service": with this spirit and with this slogan the National Assembly of Caritas India was held in Bangalore in past days, which saw the participation of 167 diocesan organizations of Caritas. The event was an important test and programming for the organization, which deals with humanitarian aid but also of cooperation projects and development. In particular, the more than 200 delegates listened to the stories of 16 speeches on behalf of Caritas that in past years gave valuable results. These cases relate to health, natural resource management, respect for human rights, mitigation of natural disasters. <br />In a note sent to Fides Fr. Paul Moonjely, deputy director of Caritas India highlights that "the joy of service, means "putting the person at the center of attention" as "the very definition of human development" also says.Fr. Moonjely points out that "the concept of human development implies fairness and justice". <br />In the assembly the Executive Director, Fr. Frederick D'Souza, urged those present not to be "administrators", but "animators", on the model of Pope Francis, who is "one of the greatest animators of our time". "To animate", he said, means "to awaken, guide a process of social transformation that starts with the people and communities in order to bring about a change". <br />Caritas India is the official agency of the Bishops' Conference of India for works of charity and social development. It was founded in 1962 to help the Church in India in the fight against poverty and marginalization. It is committed to serving people without any distinction of caste, creed, ethnic group. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/MALAWI - A "creative" finance act, while 640,000 people are at risk of hunger - "Restoration of Fiscal Discipline as a Foundation for Poverty Reduction" is the title of the Finance Act of Malawi currently being discussed in the local parliament. "Like every year, poverty-reduction begins at home" comments ironically Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba, Monfortan missionary, in a note sent to Fides Agency. "Lawmakers have proposed a 100% increase in their salary from 714,000 Kwacha to 1.4 million Kwacha, while the same 190 MPs can now have a loan that goes from 7 to 24 million Kwacha". <br />The missionary explained that Malawi pays the consequences of the so-called "Cash Gate", the embezzlement of funds donated by other States and international organizations. "Money allocated in projects, funds to be spent on schools and hospitals ... has vanished into thin air", said Fr. Gamba. <br />Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe presented a "zero-aid budget" in Parliament, a finance bill that does without the foreign funds which in previous years accounted for 40% of the state budget. "People are asking where will the 535 billion Malawi Kwacha needed to cover current expenses come from, without taking into consideration the 24% increase of state employees salaries", said Fr. Gamba. <br />The government has also promised not to raise taxes. The hope is that inflation falls to 15% and the growth rate increases to 6.1% thanks to 248 new mining licenses granted by the government, which intend to focus also on local processing of cotton in order to create new jobs. <br />"The realty – comments Fr. Gamba - is that 640,000 people will not have enough food due to the scarse harvest. 25% of the population lives in extreme poverty, on less than a dollar a day, and without even the possibility of having enough food. 17% of the extremely poor live in cities and 57% in rural areas", says the missionary. Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/COTE D'IVOIRE - Refugees in Liberia blocked due to Ebola -The voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees in Liberia should have taken place in July. The Ebola outbreak in the neighboring Country has instead led the Ivorian authorities to close the borders to prevent the spread of the virus, blocking the return of refugees. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees , since the beginning of January 2014, 12,000 refugees have returned to Côte d'Ivoire and 38,600 are waiting for the government to reopen the Country's borders to allow them to return home. On July 11, about 392 Ivorian refugees in Liberia, who arrived during the post-election crisis in 2010-2011, were rejected at the border by the Ivorian authorities as they were preparing themselves to return home. The Government has been forced to close its borders for security reasons engaging in the organization of preventive measures and information on the virus. The border will be reopened once the situation is under control, said UNHCR. The Health Minister of Côte d'Ivoire revealed that about 100 Liberians were sent home after trying to enter the Country illegally. Since 14 September 2,710 cases of the virus and 1,459 deaths have been reported in Liberia. Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PHILIPPINES - "Mercy and Compassion" is the theme of the Pope's visit - The theme that will mark Pope Francis’ visit in the Philippines is "mercy and compassion": this was announced, in a note sent to Fides Agency, by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. The Philippine Church has also launched a website dedicated entirely to the event, which contains all the necessary information and will monitor all aspects of the Pope's visit. <br />"With the presence of the Pope, the God of mercy and compassion comes close to us", says His Exc. Mgr. Mylo Vergara, Bishop of Pasig and President of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communication and the media in a message sent to Fides. "This is a great blessing for the Church in the Philippines. Pope Francis’ visit can be considered a visit from God to the Filipino people, in need of His mercy and compassion".<br />The Bishops urge the faithful to prepare themselves through the words of Francis, and be apostles through mass media: "We try to make ours the Pope’s messages, quotes, apostolic exhortations on the subject of mercy and compassion. Through social media - adds Mgr. Vergara - we can collect and share them with others. "Secondly, we invite the faithful to "use what we gather and receive on the teaching of Pope Francis as a matter of reflection, prayer and action". In this way, "mass media and social networks - the Bishop concludes - can become a powerful tool for us to practice works of mercy such as visiting prisoners, the sick and the elderly, especially showing compassion towards the poor". Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SYRIA - The jihadists of the Islamic State destroy the memorial church of the Armenian Genocide in Deir el-Zor el-Zor - The jihadists of the Islamic State have destroyed an Armenian church in Deir el Zor, the city with a Kurdish majority, which they conquered in past days. The news, spread by local witnesses, was confirmed by the Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who condemned the destruction of the church as "horrific barbarity" where the remains of victims of the Armenian Genocide were safeguarded. <br />The church was consecrated in 1991 as a memorial of the Genocide and also included a museum with the remains of the victims of the massacres suffered a century ago by the Armenians in Ottoman territory. <br />In the governorate of Deir el-Zor the jihadists Is killed hundreds of members belonging to the local tribal clan in August and in recent months also fought with the Islamist militiamen of the al-Nusra rival faction to gain control of the area. Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/DR CONGO - More than 70,000 children accused of witchcraft and persecuted - More than 70,000 Congolese children were tortured, abandoned, killed, because accused of witchcraft. Only in the region of Kinsasha 30,000 street children were removed from their families for this reason. Much of the population, from teachers, to professionals, religious leaders, believe in witchcraft. It is a widespread phenomenon in the bantu culture and difficult to eradicate, according to the complaints of various organizations working to combat it . The main perpetrators of these young victims are parents themselves, preachers of some "independent" churches that do not correspond to any hierarchical structure, religious doctrine or practice. The "pastors" of these churches receive donations from family members for each exorcism practiced, ranging from 300 to $ 2,000. Some of the exorcisms consist of locking up the victims in the house for days without food or water to prepare them to free themselves from evil spirits. Then the children are presented to the pastor who begins a ritual of shouting, singing, dancing that continues until the children fall to the ground because they are exhausted. The activists who are fighting against the practice of black magic are faced with general indifference, from silence to the passivity of the authorities, and accuse the police of hindering the reporting of cases. Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/HOLY LAND - The Catholic Bishops: the recognition of the "Aramean" nationality aims to divide the Palestinian Christians from others - The decision of the Israeli Ministry of the Interior that Christian Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel can now change their registration in the Ministry from Arabs to "Arameans" is denounced as "an attempt to separate the Christian Palestinians from other Palestinians" by the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, who in a communiqué issued by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries denounce the spurious and ideological motivations of the measures taken in this direction by the Government of Israel. <br />As reported by the Israeli press, on 16 September, the Israeli Minister of the Interior signed a measure to recognize the identity of "Aramean" as a distinct national identity. The decision was made explicitly to allow 200 Christian families to identify themselves as belonging to the ancient nationality, so therefore register themselves as "Arameans" rather than as an Arab in identity documents. <br />The same document drawn up by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, denounces how artificial and politically oriented operations push to recover in the remote past of the peoples of the Middle East a separate national identity, to be given to the Christians present in Israel: "the Aramaic language - reads the document, sent to Fides Agency - was adopted by the Jews for centuries. That is, until the reintroduction of Hebrew, only in the late 19th century. The Arabs, who live today in Greater Syria have spoken different languages over the centuries: Aramaic, Greek and Arabic. Today, we, in Israel, are Christian Palestinian Arabs. Some in the Israeli administration seem to think that separating Christian Palestinians from other Palestinians is a way to protect Christians, we say: give us back our homes, our properties, our villages that you have confiscated. Second: the best way to protect us is to keep us with our people. Third: the best protection for us is to seriously engage in walking path of peace".<br />The communiqué also contains an appeal to "the few Christian Palestinian Arabs in Israel who support this idea of changing their "Aramean" identity" or serving in the Israeli army: "Come back to your senses" reads the communiqué "do not harm your people because of idle promises and personal egoistic gain. By adopting such a position, you do not benefit yourselves nor do you benefit Israel. Israel is in need of Christians who have heard Jesus’ teaching: 'Blessed the peace makers'. Israel does not need Christians who have deformed their identity". Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AMERICA/UNITED STATES - Waiting for the reform, migrant families continue to be divided - The Bishop of the Diocese of Laredo , His Exc. Mgr. James Anthony Tamayo, complained that the proposed immigration reform has not yet arrived and the federal authorities are separating families due to lack of documents. The note sent to Fides Agency by a local source reports the Bishop’s words: "We continue to help Central American families who arrive in Laredo and are trying to reunite with their relatives in the United States. Maybe people do not know that migration has significantly reduced and now only 5 to 10 families arrive a day and not like before where there were more than 100 a day".<br />Mgr.Tamayo improvised a press conference yesterday after Sunday Mass, informing that these migrants are assisted by providing them with food, clothes and a place where they can wash themselves and where they can contact their families in the United States. He added that he is working with the American government and with other Churches to try to find a definitive solution to the problem of illegal immigration. <br />"We, as a Church, must respond to this emergency situation and try to help others, but all of this also requires a change in the laws of the United States, said Mgr. Tamayo. Currently families need about 10 years to meet the requirements and finally reunite, and we know that the admissible requirements are too strict. The most practical solution we see is the adoption of an immigration reform; this country has need of many workers in the countryside, in hotels and restaurants, in the building construction and these people just want to work".<br />On 27 June 2013, the Senate approved the bill S. 744 which provides citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011 and who do not have a criminal record. However, due to disagreements between Democrats and Republicans, the Chamber has not yet set a date for discussion with a view to final approval . Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/PAKISTAN - IS is looking for recruits in Pakistan, Christians are appealing to the government - The Islamic State, the jihadist formation operating in Iraq, has distributed leaflets in Peshawar and Pakistani provinces bordering Afghanistan, calling for new recruits and appealing to the local population to support the creation of an Islamic caliphate. As Fides learns, the news has created concern in the Pakistani civil society, especially among young Christians and organizations that defend human rights: it therefore calls on the government to stop the spread of propaganda on behalf of IS. <br />The Christian lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill, who is also concerned for the spread of an ideology that wants to infect the Pakistani society, told Fides: "Pakistan is already living a risky situation due to the presence of extremist and terrorist groups, for the lack of respect of religious freedom, for the discrimination of minorities. Faced with the news of the arrival of IS, many young Christians have come to me to express their anxieties. I reassured them, saying that God is with us and provides for his children".<br />However, Gill says, "we cannot ignore the growing threat of IS in Pakistan. As Christians, we can carry out our role in society, in the field of culture and publishing, to counter this ideology of death, bringing a vision based on values such as respect for life, the dignity of every human being, human rights, harmony. We hope that the Pakistani government gives an effective response at a federal, provincial or local level, preventing IS to penetrate in Pakistan". Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200VATICAN CITY - Bishops, called to give "a genuine missionary impulse" to their diocesan communities City - "The church needs shepherds of souls – bishops – who are servants, and, "who know how to kneel down in front of others to wash their feet. Pastors close to the people, meek fathers and brothers, patient and merciful; who love poverty ... You are called to constantly monitor the flock entrusted to you, to keep them united and faithful to the Gospel and to the Church. Seek to give a genuine missionary impulse to your diocesan communities, so that they might grow more and more with new members... Be close to your priests, love the poor". This is what Pope Francis said to the recently appointed Bishops who he met on Saturday, September 20, at the end of the training seminar under the auspices of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who were accompanied by the Prefect of the Congregation, Cardinal Fernando Filoni. <br />The Pope pointed out that "there is now the urgent need for a missionary conversion... that concerns every Christian and every parish, but is one that shepherds are called to live and to witness in the first", this is why he urged the Bishops to guide their lives and episcopal ministry "as a service to the People of God". <br />He also had special words for the Bishops who were not able to take part in the sessions for several reasons: "To all I send a fraternal greeting and blessing. How I wish, for example that the Chinese Bishops ordained in recent years were present at the meeting today! At heart, though, I hope that day is not far off! I wish to assure them not only my and our solidarity, but also that of the Episcopate world". Looking forward to the upcoming extraordinary synod assembly on the family, Pope Francis stressed that families are the foundation of the work of evangelization, with their educational mission and with the active participation in the life of the parish community. "I encourage you to promote the pastoral care of families" he said, "so that families, accompanied and formed in the faith, might always give their best contribution to the life of the Church and of society". Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200ASIA/SINGAPORE - Archbishop Goh: "The centrality of the family to overcome secularization" - "To overcome the challenge of secularization in Singapore that society is facing, and that touches believers of all religions, we have decided to restore the centrality of the family": says His Exc. Mgr. William Goh, Archbishop of Singapore in an interview with Fides Agency, on the eve of the Synod on the Family, which is celebrated in the Vatican in October. "Singapore - he explains - is a post-modern, industrialized country, where secularization is strongly felt. It must be said, however, that we are in an Asian country, and Asians are spiritual people. Today, our priority is to renew faith, building a Church founded on the Gospel and which is missionary". To give new impetus to evangelization, he said, "the path is to strengthen the clergy and focus and aim at the formation of the laity. <br />We have set up a special Commission because we want the laity to be involved and to be protagonists in the pastoral life. In this way the Church is more open to dialogue with society".<br />The Archbishop says: "In this process, it is essential to give centrality to the family. In the diocese there are different realities of movements and associations dedicated to family love: we have merged them into a single coordination in order to harmonize the pastoral activity and evangelization. The journey of faith in the family is decisive for the future of the Church". Mgr. Goh concludes: "Particular attention should be given to young people, especially in schools, campus, because from there the path to form a good leadership of the Church of tomorrow, with people of faith and action begins". Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200AFRICA/GUINEA BISSAU – Bishops’ statement: Ebola virus - awareness and prevention - "Worried about the real threat of the virus, we invite all our communities to seek more information on the evolution of the situation and to continue to implement all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus" write the Bishops of Guinea Bissau , in a letter to the faithful on the spread of the ebola virus. In the text sent to Fides Agency by the Curia of Bissau, the Bishops invite to put buckets with water and disinfectant at the entrance of churches and meeting places so that people wash their hands; to avoid gatherings; not to exchange the sign of peace during the celebration of the Holy Mass. <br />The two Bishops appreciate the commitment of the government, international organizations and religious communities to prevent the epidemic in Guinea Bissau, and note with satisfaction "the great effort" of parish communities to raise awareness. "Through Caritas Guinea-Bissau, the Justice and Peace Commission and Radio Sol Mansi - continues the text - will develop a training program that will allow our communities to actively participate in the awareness and prevention of the epidemic of Ebola and other epidemics. May all parishes and missions be open to the guidelines to be issued". The statement concludes: "As Christians, rooted in faith, we continue to ask the Lord to save our country from this disease and help us to find concrete forms of solidarity with the people most affected. Trusting in the God of life, we face this challenge with courage and foresight". Fri, 19 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0200