Kinshasa - "A shocking news that troubles us strongly. The death of Father Malumalu is one of the greatest difficulties that the DRC has to overcome. It is a catastrophe, and a great loss for the entire nation". This is how the Study Centre for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights defines the death of Father Apollinaire Malumalu, the Catholic priest who organized the first free elections of the Republic democratic of Congo, in 2006, in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides.Father Malumalu was in fact the President of the Commission électorale Indépendante , replaced in the disputed elections of 2011 by the Commission électorale Nationale Indépendante , also led by the priest. In 2013 the Bishops had however imposed canonical sanctions to Father Malumalu when he was again elected at the head of CENI . Later the priest was forced to leave his post for health reasons .Father Malumalu died in the night between June 30 and July 1 in Dallas, where he was being treated for cancer. The announcement of his death was given by His Exc. Mgr. Melchisédech Sikuli Paluku, Bishop of Butembo-Beni, the diocese of origin of the deceased priest.
Bangkok - For 35 years the Jesuit Refugee Service has been active in the Asia-Pacific area to assist refugees and displaced persons in seven countries: Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Timor East and Thailand. Currently JRS assists over 310,000 people in their basic needs but also in social development, in education and reintegration into society.As recalled in a letter sent to Fides, in 1981 it was the then Superior General of the Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe, who started JRS Asia Pacific, especially starting from the needs of refugees in Thailand, activating a first team of religious and lay people. JRS started to help these refugees to face an uncertain future, especially by offering educational services: this is the main objective of JRS, which is committed to helping the most vulnerable groups, involved in natural disasters and mass movements, to improve their living conditions through offering vocational formation and small grants.To cope with the growing phenomenon of "urban refugees" - who often live in poverty, without basic services - JRS organizes support groups, psycho-social counseling services and legal services. In Australia and Thailand, JRS accompanies refugees and asylum seekers in detention centers for immigrants, offering medical and legal assistance. Training services are provided to Burmese migrants and refugees in Thailand, while in the Philippines and East Timor, JRS works with people displaced by the conflict, offering assistance to those seeking to reintegrate into the community.In Indonesia, after 2004, JRS began providing training services, workshops on conflict resolution and reconciliation, and assistance on early warning procedures.
Johannesburg - "We need mayors and councillors who have genuine concern for the economic and other hardships that our citizens are enduring" said the pastoral Letter of the Southern African Bishops on the vote to renew local bodies to be held on August 3."No one wants leaders who are intent on making money and are only interested in party politics. Being a politician can be a noble Christian vocation", emphasizes the Letter, sent to Agenzia Fides. The Bishops call on "those who aspire to leadership to ensure that our municipal districts are governed by principles of ethical leadership. We urge them to exercise power with honesty and accountability to the poor and the most vulnerable".Coinciding with the publication of the pastoral Letter of the Bishops, the Episcopal Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference issued a statement in which they criticized the insufficient condemnation from politicians of recent violence that marred the election campaign. "We are disappointed that our political leaders have not been visible and loud enough in their condemnation of the recent factional violence and political assassinations", said His Exc. Mgr. Abel Gabuza, Bishop of Kimberley, who chairs the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference justice and peace commission.In mid-June at least three people were killed in Tshwane, near Pretoria, in clashes sparked by the choice of a candidate in the municipal elections by the ruling party."Politicians are mobilizing the young people in our communities, especially the unemployed youth, to engage in pre-election violence", denounces Mgr. Gabuza, calling on South Africans "not to allow themselves to be used by politicians who show signs that their primary interest is greed for power and government tenders". A prayer service for the peaceful conduct of the vote will be held on July 6 in Durban.
San Pedro Sula - A campaign has just been launched, throughout the country, on tolerance which will involve 1,391 educational centers for seven weeks, among them 193 are in San Pedro Sula. The slogan is "Tolerance does not mean getting tired of loving, it means accepting others, knowing how to expect the best, and peace for all humanity". In a statement the Bishop of the diocese, His Exc. Mgr. Angel Garachana Perez, states that tolerance is a value which means accepting and appreciating others who are different from us. The Bishop, according to information sent to Fides, also showed that we should not consider ourselves enemies. The coordinator of the campaign said that in the coming weeks several activities on tolerance will be carried out. There are 39,000 children in San Pedro Sula who will participate with their 1,493 teachers. Six dioceses joined at a national level. In all there will be 276,500 children and 12,000 teachers.
San Carlos - In the face of the terrible emergency situation in Venezuela, particularly in hospitals , His Exc. Mgr. Polito Rodríguez Méndez, Bishop of the new diocese of San Carlos de Venezuela, yesterday went to visit the General Hospital of San Carlos "Egor Nucete" as the first gesture of attention of the Bishop towards his city where he became Pastor.The note sent to Fides, informs that Mgr. Polito Rodríguez Méndez was welcomed by the medical staff, nurses, patients and family members. The Bishop greeted and blessed patients, family members, doctors, nurses, volunteers and members of the Caritas Social Pastoral which is present and active in the health center. Finally he had words of encouragement for health workers and volunteers, asking them to continue the work they do in the hospital, especially in these times of crisis that the country is experiencing.San Carlos is the capital of the Venezuelan state of Cojedes. Founded on April 27, 1678 by Capuchin Pedro de Berja, it has about 100,000 inhabitants. Even this center unfortunately does not escape the violence that is becoming more widespread in the country. According to sources not officially confirmed, 96 people were killed last weekend in Caracas, Zulia, Carabobo, Guarico, Anzoategui, Cojedes, Sucre and Tachira.
Parramatta - "I have made many leaps of faith in my life" said His Exc. Mgr. Vincent Long Van Nguyen, who fled Vietnam in 1975 among the "boat people" who fled the country on makeshift boats to Australia. He found asylum in Australia and became a priest, today Mgr. Vincent Long Van Nguyen became the fourth Bishop of Parramatta, near Sydney.The Bishop took office in recent days in his diocese during a Mass that was attended by many faithful. He chose "Duc in altum", "Put out into the deep" as his episcopal motto, which recalls the sea crossing: a motto that "has to do - he said - with my personal experience as a refugee", but "also adapts to the challenges that the Church in Parramatta today faces". Mgr. Loang Van Nguyen said: "I consider the critical time in which we are similar to the biblical exile with which, as an expatriate, I have a personal affinity. As a former refugee, I have special attention for those who are marginalized, people who live in the peripheries of society".He was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne in 2011. He stood out thanks to his service as a supporter of multiculturalism in Australian society, working also as president of the Australian Bishops' Conference Commission for Migrants and Refugees.
Los Angeles - "Now we need a global immigration reform. It is not a political issue, it is a matter of human rights and protection of human dignity": are the words of His Exc. Mgr. José Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, the largest ecclesiastical district of the United States and with the highest number of Hispanic immigrants and from different parts of the world.The Archbishop, according to the note sent to Fides, has asked President Barack Obama to stop the deportations of illegal immigrants, after the Supreme Court’s decision on 23 June to confirm the stop to Obama’s immigration plan that tries to give the legal status to five million illegal immigrants in the Country. The Supreme Court spoke out, after 26 States led by Texas, rejected Obama's plan, believing that the President went beyond his powers and established measures that is under the jurisdiction of the National Congress.In his statement, dated June 26, the Archbishop of Los Angeles said that "the continued failure of our nation in tackling the immigration crisis is a humanitarian tragedy". However, "now it is the time to show the courage of the moral and political leadership".
Lahore - A Christian woman, Samrah Badal, was the victim of a gang rape by four Muslim men who wanted to avenge the alleged "honor" of a Muslim family: as reported to Fides by Christian lawyer Aneeqa M. Anthony, Coordinator of the NGO "the Voice Society", who reports the violence which took place on 25 June in Lahore.According to the lawyer's reconstruction, it all started when the young Muslim, Sehar Wasif fled with the young Christian, Inayat Masih, who was in love with her. Inayat Masih’s family had to face all the consequences of this action. Sehar’s family sent some men to Inayat Masih’s sister Samrah Badal’s home, asking her news. The woman did not say anything so the men began to beat her, stripped her naked and dragged her in the street and abused her, under the eyes of her five children, who witnessed the violence committed.The NGO team went to the police station and registered a complaint, on behalf of the victim. Lawyer Aneeqa M. Anthony, recalls that "Sehar’s family is a very influential Muslim family" in Lahore and believes that such brutal violence will remain unpunished. For this reason he calls into question "Christian politicians, such as Minister Kamran Michael, so that he can intervene and have the courage to help Christians".
Juba - At least 50 people died and several thousand displaced is the toll of a wave of violence which took place on June 25 in Wau, a town 650 km north-west from Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The government accused an unspecified "Islamic movement, of recent formation" as responsible for the attacks against the civilian population. According to the authorities in Juba the Islamist formation is made up of South Sudanese army deserters, fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army and members of Sudanese Janjaweed militia.Mgr. Rocco Taban Musa, Apostolic Administrator of Malakal and originally from Wau, accuses the government of Juba of instigating the violence, after the removal of the Governor, General Elias Waya, who according to Mgr. Taban, was able to mediate among the different components of local society. His replacement has instead stirred up tribal clashes. Different ethnic groups live in Wau: Balanda, Dinka, Jur, Fertit and others.According to the local Caritas, thousands of people are welcomed in Church structures in Wau and at the local base of the UN "Blue Helmets". According to the head of Caritas in Wau, the population does not feel confident in returning to their homes, despite the army is patrolling the streets, "they do not trust the military because they say it is the army that killed civilians".The South Sudan Council of Churches has appealed to the government to put an end to the fighting and lead an investigation into the violences that have invested Wau and other parts of the Country.
New York - The huge mass of Syrian refugees who have taken refuge in Lebanon, threatens to upset the balance and the identity of the Lebanese nation, partly because the multitudes of refugees who drag their lives in precarious conditions, and at times desperate, represent a potential recruitment pool for terrorist organizations. This is the alarming scenario of the situation in Lebanon and the entire Middle East described by Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, Primate of the Maronite Church, in a speech he delivered on Tuesday, June 28 in New York, at the headquarters of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, during his pastoral visit in the USA.According to Cardinal Rai, a permanent solution to the refugee crisis in the Middle East requires a lasting peace and their gradual repatriation to their home Countries, while their permanent settlement, in the lands where they have found refuge, is to be avoided in every possible way.During his speech, Patriarch Rai also dedicated articulated considerations to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which he considers "the origin of the problems of the Middle East". According to the Primate of the Maronite Church, this conflict can only be solved with "the creation of a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli state, with the return of Palestinian refugees, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the occupied territories of Palestine, Syria and Lebanon". The separation between religion and national policy, "both for Judaism and for Islam" - added Patriarch Rai - "is one of the fundamental conditions for a permanent political solution in the region", because "problems begin when one automatically discriminates against citizens who do not profess the religion of the State".
Kinshasa - Respect of the Constitution and electoral deadlines as prescribed; start of authentic dialogue among all political parties; initiate social policies to alleviate the painful conditions of the population; respect for human rights. These are indications of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo contained in the message published at the end of the 53th Plenary Assembly of the Congolese Bishops.The DRC is experiencing "a worrying situation that threatens to plunge the country into chaos", says the document, sent to Agenzia Fides. "Doesn’t the current crisis stem from the block of the electoral process?" Ask the Bishops. According to the Constitution, presidential and parliamentary elections should be held by the end of the year but so far a date has not been established.One wonders whether "this delay stems from a deficit of good governance, from an impediment of force majeure, or the deliberate lack of political will". "Dialogue, regal path in a democracy to solve problems, also seems to be an impasse" denounce the Bishops, who also complain of "a significant reduction of democratic space, the disturbing proliferation of human rights violations, ignoble massacres and growing insecurity in the east of the Country". All this, according to the message, means that "the people are sacrificed on the altar of political interests".To overcome this situation the Bishops call on the nation's leaders to respect the Constitution and "accept the alternation in power as the foundation of democratic life".Concretely, CENI calls on "political forces to put an end to the delaying tactics and to discuss free, democratic and transparent elections in compliance with the Constitution".The Bishops wish to accompany this process with prayers, remaining politically neutral, and with a civic education campaign to "form the conscience of the population so that it contributes to building a State of law".
Vahdat - Violence against women is rising, as well as the level of aggression and cruelty in society as a whole is growing. The alarm was lauched by a representative of the NGO Women With Higher Education, after yet another suicide in the river that runs through the small town of Vahdat, of a young woman with her child, exhausted by hunger and poverty. According to information sent to Fides, already in February, a 25-year-old woman threw herself and her four children off a bridge. Four months before, a 33-year-old mother was jailed for 18 years after she drowned her three children.According to a spokesman for the Tajic Ministry, there were 325 registered suicides and attempted suicides among women in 2015. Tajiche women are forced to marry early and immediately sent to their husbands' homes where they suffer all kinds of abuse. In addition, the increase of the economic crisis afflicting the Country, has had dramatic social consequences regarding most of the inhabitants.According to the World Bank, Tajikistan is the world's most remittance dependent Country, but these cash transfers, mostly from Russia, fell by around two thirds in 2015, originated by the fall in oil prices and by Western sanctions against Moscow for its participation in the Ukrainian conflict. Tajikistan is heavily dependent on the economy of Russia, where about half of the male population work, mainly in the construction sector.
Mumbai - To bring to life Laudato Sì in people's lives: is the commitment of Fr. Magi Murzello, new Rector of St. Andrews College in Bandra, in the area of Mumbai. As Fides learns, Fr. Magi is a priest who describes himself as an "eco-friendly priest" and has a PhD in Environmental Sciences. His program is "to translate into a creative and pedagogical manner, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sì" including its content in the worship and devotional practices: for example, Fr. Magi created a "Via Crucis" which focuses on issues of environmental degradation and led a discussion on "Do not waste God’s gifts" which ended with the cleaning of a beach. Fr. Magi shares his initiative with Fides: "Deepening the different chapters of Laudato Sì, to raise awareness of all the people of God on issues such as dialogue, integral ecology, ecological spirituality, transparency and thanksgiving". St. Andrews College, in the Archdiocese of Mumbai, is a place frequented not only by Catholics but also by people of other religions.
Cairo - Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has returned to urge the Arabs and Muslims to make common front against terrorism, freeing "religious discourse" and activities inspired by it, from any condescension towards ideas and extremist views. "The Muslim world" stressed the Head of the Egyptian State "is going through a very risky turning point, and is facing unprecedented challenges in the lives of its peoples". An emergency condition that requires "convergent efforts by all of us, setting aside the differences".President al Sisi addressed his appeal during a televised speech made to commemorate Laylat Al-Kadr, the "night of destiny", during which Muslims believe that Muhammad had the revelation as written in the first verses of the Koran . In particular, al Sisi addressed the scholars of the Islamic University of Al Azhar, inviting them to "rethink religious discourse", to free it from all the factors that negatively influence ideas and common behaviors in Islamic communities.It is not the first time that the Egyptian President turns to the Islamic religious authorities launching an urgent need to engage in an energetic way to eradicate bigotry and sectarian rifts. At the beginning of 2015, in a famous speech to scholars and religious leaders linked to al-Azhar , al Sisi declared that the Islamic world can no longer be perceived as "a source of anxiety, danger , death and destruction" for the rest of humanity, and religious leaders of Islam must "come out of themselves "and favor a "religious Revolution" to eradicate bigotry and replace it with a "more enlightened view of the world".
Tlaxcala - The Vatican has approved the declaration of the Blessed Martyrs of Tlaxcala, as Patron of Mexican childhood, says the Archbishop of Tijuana, His Exc. Mgr. Francisco Moreno Barron to Fides.Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, were among the first evangelized by the Franciscans and the Dominicans shortly after the conquest. They were cruelly killed by their countrymen because, in the name of the Catholic faith, refused idolatry and polygamy: Cristobal died in 1527, Antonio and Juan in 1529. They were beatified by Saint John Paul II on May 6, 1990, in the Basilica of Guadalupe during his second pastoral visit to Mexico .Archbishop Moreno Barron came to Rome on June 29 for the blessing of the pallium from Pope Francis, as the new Archbishop of Tijuana. On this occasion he received a copy of the Decree of patronage by the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Mgr. Arthur Roche.The original Decree was sent to Cardinal José Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Guadalajara and President of the Mexican Episcopal Conference . The news will officially be announced by CEM "as soon as possible".
Caracas - "It is impossible to deny the serious crisis and prevent the arrival of food and medicine from other parts of the world, sent by various non-governmental organizations and Church organizations such as Caritas": this is what the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino denounces, who speaking to the local press criticized the Venezuelan government because it refuses to accept humanitarian aid with the clear purpose of not showing the serious crisis in the country.According to information sent to Fides, the Cardinal stressed that the situation is deteriorating, and added that the government of Maduro should ensure that the OAS activates the "Democratic Charter" Interamericana, which means to enable international aid to solve an emergency situation before a terrible food and health crises.Less than a week ago, the National Assembly passed a law to address the health problem created by the shortage of medicines, as well as requesting the support of international humanitarian organizations that had already offered to send food and medicine. But at the request of President Maduro, the Supreme Court of Justice issued a ruling that overturned that law, because according to the TSJ usurps presidential functions.
Vatican City - On 29 June 2016 the Holy appointed Fr. Roberto Bergamaschi, S.D.B. as Apostolic Vicar of Awasa , assigning him the titular see of Ambia.The new Apostolic Vicar was born in San Donato Milanese, near Milan, on 17 December 1954. He joined the Salesians and made his first religious profession on 8 September 1975 in Pinerolo and his Perpetual Profession on 13 September 1981 in Rome. From 1975 to 1982 he studied philosophy in Turin - Crocetta and Theology in Cremisan in the Holy Land. He was ordained priest on 2 October 1982 in Brescia by His Exc. Mgr. Armido Gasparini, M.C.C.J., first Apostolic Vicar of Awasa.Since his ordination ha has had the following roles: missionary in Ethiopia Dilla ; Pastor at Zway, in the Apostolic Vicariate of Meki ; Vice-Provincial of the Salesian province of Ethiopia-Eritrea ; Director at Adwa, in the Eparchy of Adigrat ; Director of the Salesian Works of Gotera, Addis Ababa ; Director of the Salesian Works of Mekanissa, Addis Ababa ; since 2009 - parish priest of Mary Help of Christians Parish in Dilla, Apostolic Vicariate of Awasa. He is a member of the Mission Council and the Council of Priests.
Vatican City - On 28 June 2016 the Holy Father appointed Rev. Fr. Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama, P.S.S., rector of the National Catholic Seminary of Fukuoka as Bishop of the vacant Diocese of Hiroshima .The new bishop was born on May 20, 1962 in Kamigoto, Archdiocese of Nagasaki. In 1986 he obtained a Baccalaureate in Philosophy at Keio University in Tokyo, and in 1990 a Baccalaureate in Theology at the St. Sulpice Seminary of Fukuoka. He later studied at the Catholic Institute of Paris, obtaining a Licentiate in Liturgy with specialization in sacramental Theology.He was ordained a priest on March 19, 1990 in Urakami, Archdiocese of Nagasaki, and incardinated in the same Metropolitan See. In 1993 he joined the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice.Since his ordination he has held the following pastoral roles: Formator at St. Sulpice Seminary in Fukuoka ; since 1995: Member of the Liturgy Commission at the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan and professor of Liturgy and Sacramental Theology; since 2012: Rector of the Catholic Seminary of Japan.
Vatican City - On 28 June 2016 the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Malang by His Exc. Mgr. Herman Joseph Sahadat Pandoyoputro, O. Carm., in accordance with can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. The Holy Father appointed Fr. Henricus Pidyarto Gunawan, O. Carm., Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana' in Malang as Bishop of the Diocese of Malang.The new Bishop was born on July 13, 1955 in Malang. After attending the local Minor Seminary, he completed his philosophical and theological studies at the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana' in Malang. He was ordained a priest on February 7, 1982 in Malang. He obtained a licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Institute Biblicum in 1986 and a doctorate in Biblical Theology at the Angelicum , in 1990.Since his ordination he has served the following academica and pastoral roles: since 1986: Professor of Sacred Scripture in the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana'; Vice-Rector of Indonesia Biblical Society ; Vice-Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana' ; Member of Carmelitan Institute in Rome ; Director of the Indonesia Biblical Society ; Pastor of 'St. Andrea Tidar' in Malang ; Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana' ; Member of the Spirituality Committee of the Carmelitan Institute in Rome ; Director of the postgraduate program of the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana' : since 2012: Rector of the Philosophical and Theological Higher Institute 'Widya Sasana'.
Ankawa – The new, large church inaugurated on Monday, June 27 by Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I in Ankawa, a Christian-majority suburb of the city of Erbil, where many Christians fled their villages in the Nineveh Plain in front of the offensive of the self-styled Islamic state militias found shelter, is dedicated to Mary Mother of Perpetual Help . The new, large church building, was also funded with the offerings of the faithful, in which the initiatives and liturgical, sacramental and charitable activities linked in particular to the pastoral care of refugees will take place.The liturgy of inauguration was attended by, among others, also by Archbishop Alberto Orega Martin, Apostolic Nuncio in Iraq and Jordan, and Mgr. Bashar Warda, who belongs to the Congregation of Redemptorist fathers, and for this reason has a special devotion to the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, guarded in Rome at the Church of St. Alphonsus on the Esquiline. During the homily - refer official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate, consulted by Agenzia Fides - Patriarch Louis Raphael I described the birth of the new church as a sign of the bond that binds Iraqi Christians to the land of their fathers, reiterating that emigration to distant countries "is not the solution to find" for those who really want to cherish the gift received of Christian life in their own land.