Baku - On the eve of the visit of Pope Francis in Georgia and Azerbaijan Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev denounced the risk of a resurgence of fascism in the heart of the Old Continent, in the guise of xenophobic and islamophobic instincts that are spreading increasingly in many European countries. "Today" said the President of the Republic, speaking at the 5th International Humanitarian Forum being held in Baku, "some politicians and experts in the world are building a negative image of Islam by linking it with terror and at the same time forgetting to say that terrorism mainly affects Islamic countries".Aliyev had words of appreciation for European leaders who claim solidarity welcoming policies towards refugees, but also stigmatized the choices of who adds selective clauses to humanitarian policies, closing the doors to Muslim religion migrants and refugees. These closures - said the Head of State - are a symptom "that fascism is once again raising its head in Europe", and recalls the urgent need to "jointly fight the spread of radical sentiments as Islamophobia and xenophobia. "Otherwise", Aliyev said "all this can lead to a new wave of fascism".
Karachi - To represent two parables, revisited and updated in a new version, to announce the Gospel of mercy: is the initiative organized, among the events of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, by the Catechetical Centre of the Archdiocese of Karachi, led by Fr. Arthur Charles. As reported to Fides, over 500 young people, teachers, parents, pastoral operators, catechists, priests and religious from all over the Archdiocese, attended the performance which took place in recent days in the parish of San Luca in Karachi."The aim - reports Fr. Charles - was to highlight the works of mercy and emphasize the right attitude to nurture for every Christian, not only during the Holy Year". The Director explains: "Everything comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There will always be something to do to help others. We can learn from those who carry out a selfless service to the community. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, take care of the sick, educate children, bury the dead. Today all of us are challenged to live the evangelical spirit of mercy".The two parables which were represented were that of the rich man who speaks to the beggar Lazarus and then that of the lost sheep, transformed into two stories experienced by the characters of modern era. Fr. Saleh Diego, Vicar of the Archdiocese, who attended the performance, said: "Our life is to serve and give oneself to others. God has blessed us by giving us today the awareness that our time, talents, our resources are to be shared with our brothers and sisters in need".The event was broadcast live television by "Good News TV", the Catholic television of Karachi, giving the opportunity to many others to follow the performance, and "be touched by the mercy of the Lord", said Fr. Charles.
Vatican City - On April 8, 2016 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Rev. Mark Maigida Nzukwein, of the clergy of the Diocese of Jalingo as Rector of the "Saint Augustine" Major Seminary of Jos.The new Rector was born on July 15, 1969 and was ordained a priest on 15 July 1995. He studied at the St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Makurdi and St. Augustine's Major Seminary in Jos. He graduated in Religious Studies at the University of Ibadan and ontained a licentiate in Youth Ministry and Catechetics at the Salesian Pontifical University . He has served in several parishes, was the diocesan Chaplain of the youth and the diocesan Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies. At the time of his appointment he was Rector of the Sacred Heart Minor Seminary in Jalingo and Vicar general of the diocese.
Bangalore - A meeting on the Gospel was interrupted with violence and a stand with Bibles and Christian material were destroyed: is the latest violence perpetrated by Hindu extremists against Christians in India. As Fides learned, in the first episode, the home meeting promoted by Pentecostal Pastor Daniel, in Shimoga district , was blocked by Hindu extremists who complained about the alleged proselytism and called the police who stopped the Pastor and the faithful.The second episode occurred during the celebration of the "Krishi Mela" in Dharward, always in Karnataka, where, among the various stands, there was one where Christians spoke freely to the people, announcing the Good News and presenting the Bible printed in Hindi. Twenty extremists arrived and began carrying out acts of vandalism, attacking the volunteers and destroying Bibles.Speaking to Fides, Sajan K. George, leader of the "Global Council of Indian Christians" condemned the violence against Christians, noting that "radical elements disturb social and religious order and intend to cause inter-communal tensions in society. Praying or distributing Bibles is not a criminal act and is a freedom guaranteed by the Constitution".
Abuja - The Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, Fr. Emmanuel Dim has been kidnapped. This was reported by Fr. Hyginus Aghaulor, Director of Communication of the Diocese of Nnewi, in Anambra State in southeast Nigeria.According to Fr. Aghaulor, the incident happened on the September 26, 2016, around 7pm along Nkpologwu/Nimbo Road Enugu State. Some heavily armed Fulani herdsmen blocked the car in which Fr. Dim was travelling along with two other priests. "The three priests were returning from Nsukka to Onitsha and Nnewi, when they were attacked". In the assault the other two priests were injured, Fr. Ezeokana who teaches both at the Major Seminary of Onitsha and at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka was slightly injured."Rev. Fr. Chukwuemeka, who is the Chaplin of St Camillus de Lellis Chaplaincy, College of Health Science, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nnewi ,who was shot on the head has been transferred from Memphis Specialist Hospital Enugu to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where he is currently receiving treatment".Fr. Dim is still being held by the herdsmen-kidnappers who are demanding a ransom of N2.5 million. "The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has decided and directed that ransom should not be paid for the kidnap of any of its priests", said Fr. Aghaulor.Fr. Aghaulor denounces that "on a separate place the same Monday 26th September, 2016, a Vincentian priest whose name is yet to be confirmed was also kidnapped with his brother along Abuja Lokoja express way, another Catholic priest Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ugwu was kidnapped on August 9, 2014 along Ugwuogo-Nike-Opi and few weeks back a senior seminarian was killed in cold blooded in Attakwu, Enugu State". "One begins to wonder if Catholic priest have become endangered species" said the Director of Communication.Fr. Aghaulor lashed out on South East Governors for doing nothing to protect people they are governing from the violence of the Fulani herdsmen: "while innocent people are left unprotected, we have seen barrage of military wares and personnel protecting the pipelines in Niger Delta, as if oil is more important than people's life. Why should people be killed without provocation in their own traditional lands?".
Bkerkè - The international recognition of the Palestinian State is an act which cannot be delayed if one really wants to favor the re-establishment of peace in the Middle East. And one must also support and ensure the return of all Palestinian refugees, still scattered in the Middle East, to their homeland, which is one of their "natural rights". This is how Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai defined the prerogative claimed by the descendants of the Palestinian Arab populations who fled from Palestine after the birth of the State of Israel.On September 26, a broad representation of the Presidential Committee for Affairs of the Church in Palestine, led by Hanna Amira - Executive Committee Member of the PLO - and including, among others, presidential Counsellor Ramzi Khoury, ambassador Issa Kassissieh - Representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See - and Professor Vera Baboun, mayor of Bethlehem gathered at the Patriarchal headquarters.The Primate of the Maronite Church reiterated that the Palestinian issue continues to be "a serious violation of truth and justice", and that the lack of recognition of the oppression suffered by the Palestinian people continues to be an objective factor for the perpetuation of hotbeds of war in the region, weakening all attempts to firmly establish a genuine and lasting peace in the Middle East.
Santa Fe - Teachers of ten indigenous peoples and also non-indigenous teachers took part in the XV Meeting of Indigenous Educators, which took place on 23, 24 and 25 September in the city of Avellaneda, Santa Fe with the slogan "Let's take care of our mother tongue".The National Aboriginal Pastoral Team , responsible for the organization of the meeting, described the event as "a space that was created with the aim to highlight the dual commitment that indigenous teachers have in the preservation of their culture and allowing also to strengthen ties of equality among peoples"."This year - according to the note sent by AICA - the theme of reflection suggested for indigenous people is self-determination. In this regard, we believe that the mother tongue is one of the fundamental ancestral forces for self-determination, hence the theme of the mother tongue will be the backbone of our meeting", underlines Endepa.The Bishop of the diocese of Reconquista, who is the President of the Episcopal Commission for Aboriginal Pastoral, His Exc. Mgr. Ángel José Macín, stressed that "the sacred language of motherhood is directly related to the wisdom of the indigenous peoples" and encouraged a fruitful work of deep reflection on this issue.Among the participants there were representatives of the Qom Pilagá, Diaguita, Huarpe, Mapuche, Ava Guarani, Wichi, Kolla, Mbyá Guarani and Mocoví people, who during the meeting shared their experiences in their own reality, and together gave birth to laboratories of reflection with proposals for new initiatives.
Medellin - The consumption of drugs and drug dependancy are a fairly common phenomenon among the children of Medellin. 7-year-olds mainly consume marijuana in the department of Antioquia. What further aggravates the problem is the lack of education of parents and adults who are not able to identify the dependency regarding their children. In a statement released by ESE Hospital Carism, Mental Health Care and Integral Rehabilitation Center of Antioquia, states that "the family does not have the tools to be able to identify this type of risk". Recently there has been an increase of hospitalizations of children under 15 years of age who primarily consume marijuana. "From one or two we have reached 35, an alarming figure", the statement said. According to data by ESE Hospital Carisma, cocaine is the main drug consumption in Antioquia, followed by marijuana, basuco and opiates.The Center has offered a service against drug dependence since 1973 and is currently engaged in a pilot project for the preparation of experts who can intervene with educational strategies, promotion and prevention, and rehabilitation of children.
Santiago - The forum "Todos somos Araucanía", an event organized by Sofofa , an organization representing more than 4,000 companies, 38 associations and 23 Chilean trade unions began with the slogan "Search for agreements and development for the region", with the participation of various political figures such as Interior Minister Mario Fernandez."The reality of La Araucania is now a problem of all of Chile, it is not a problem of that particular area. The violence and the fragility of the state of law in the south must be urgently addressed", said the President of Sofofa at the opening of the event, on September 27.In his speech, the Bishop of the Diocese of Temuco, His Exc. Mgr. Héctor Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B. said: "Unfortunately, the increasing diversity of victims of rural violence, which affects farmers, small property owners, laborers and their families, could lead to the risk of stigmatizing the legitimate demands of the Mapuche people, which must not be confused in any way with the reprehensible actions of radical groups". Then he added: "We should all be careful how to speak when we deal with the problem, avoiding the idea that this is a fight between the Mapuche and farmers, or worse, between the Mapuche and the settlers".Interior Minister, Fernandez in his speech stressed that some measures, such as the increase of the police force, was insufficient to overcome the problem. He added that the solution is to "radically alter the course of things: analysis and solutions must come directly from the people of the region themselves, Mapuche and non-Mapuche"
Amman - The first official visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, the new Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, will take place in a simple form, maintaining the religious rites scheduled but eliminating all the celebratory and festive moments, taking into account the "difficulties that Jordan is going through" and especially the feelings of grief experienced by Nahed Hatter’s family, killed on Sunday in front of the court in Amman. This was announced by the Vicariate for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, adding that on Friday, September 30, during his visit to Jordan, Archbishop Pizzaballa will also visit Fuhieis and on that occasion will travel also to personally express his condolences to the writer’s family.Nahed Hattar belonged to a Catholic family of Latin rite, but was not a believer. As a student he was known for his militant adherence to hypercritical left-wing political positions. In August, the 56-year-old intellectual was called to judgment for sharing a cartoon called "the god of Daesh" on Facebook account that depicted a bearded man in heaven smoking in bed with women, asking God to bring him wine. The relaunch of the cartoon on behalf of the well-known intellectual had provoked resentful reactions on social media. The intellectual was indicted, also on charges of having spread "the material aimed at hurting the sentiment and religious belief". On Sunday morning, on his way to court a bearded gunman shot him dead.
Dakar - Senegal will host a regional meeting on intra and inter-regional migration in Africa, promoted by the Migration et Développement de la Société Civile en Afrique Network . According to the statement sent to Agenzia Fides, the meeting will take place on 3 and 4 October in Dakar. The role of civil society in the protection of migrants' rights will be the main point of discussion.The issues to be discussed: The procedures that ensure mobility in different regions of Africa; recognition of the role of civil society in the implementation and monitoring of free movement agreements; developments of the action plan of La Vallette and the role civil society has.Participants come from the Countries of West and Central Africa, from Maghreb and Europe, representing organizations for human rights, for development, for work and different migrant organizations and of the diaspora, public authorities and many international organizations.MADE Afrique is run by Caritas Senegal, which is part of the Migration and Development of Civil Society Network, created by the International Catholic Migration Commission .
Tijuana – In 2016, 7,800 Haitians have arrived in Mexico from Guatemala in their attempt to reach the United States, informs the Mexican immigration authorities. The National Institute of Migration says that 1,701 people come from African countries and 3,753 from Asian countries, according to an entry stamp at the immigration Center of the city of Tapachula, on the border with Guatemala.As migrants cannot be repatriated, Mexico grants them a 20-day temporary visa to cross the country and reach the United States, their final destination. However, last week the US government intensified its efforts to expell thousands of Haitians who arrived in recent months via the border crossings in California with Mexico.Several warnings were sent to Fides on the difficult situation. In Tijuana, a Mexican city near the US border, Haitians must wait up to three weeks to get an appointment to present their case to the authorities of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of the United States. In the meantime, many are forced to look for a place where to stay and eat in this Mexican city.Father Patrick Murphy, of the Scalabrini Missionaries , General Coordinator of the network of migrant homes, who runs the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, has already welcomed thousands of Haitians waiting for an appointment with the authorities, but, believes greater support is needed from the Mexican government, "not only because it is necessary, but because this situation is just the beginning", he said. In these days steps are being taken to coordinate the Catholic Church with members of other Christian churches to help the Haitians from the US, especially in the Baja California area.
Johannesburg - "We hope for a realistic plan of making it possible for the poor and working class families to have access to higher education after the year 2017", say the Catholic Bishops of South Africa, after the Minister of Education BE Nzimande announced that universities and colleges should not increase their fees by no more than 8% in 2017. The Minister also said that there would be no increase for students with loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and that the government will subsidise those students from poor families.In the statement, sent to Agenzia Fides, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference states that "whilst the interim measures by government provide no lasting solution to the funding model for our education system", the Bishops call for "special attention to be given to poor students who are unable or struggling to even pay for their fees presently", invoking the granting of government subsidies to the poor so that they can fully cover the payment of school fees.The Bishops finally launched an appeal for calm and peaceful discussion: "We acknowledge that the interim measures by government will not be welcomed by everyone and call for open and honest dialogue amongst all stakeholders to find a way forward"."We condemn the escalation of campus violence and vandalism which is destroying the assets invested to educate future leaders for the whole nation. The violence we are witnessing will bring more harm to our nation than good. We call for greater ethical leadership from all stakeholders, including those dealing with law and order", they conclude.
Jerusalem - "We have lost a great man. A man of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue. A man of peace. Let us pray because in Israel, especially now, there is a need for men like him". This is how Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, commented the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres to Agenzia Fides, who died today, 28 September, at the age of 93. A few days ago the old leader had been hospitalized at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv after a major stroke.Shimon Peres was a leading member of the Israeli Labor Party, led by him without interruption from 1977 to 1992 and subsequently several times until 2005. Before becoming President of Israel – from 2007 to 2014 – he had held various senior government positions: Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs . In 1994, Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for their efforts in the peace process in the Middle East, which culminated in the Oslo Accords.In his long political career, Peres met three Popes: John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis. His last meeting with the current Bishop of Rome had taken place at the Vatican on 20 June. In October 2010, interviewed by 30Giorni magazine about relations between Israel and the Holy See, the then Israeli President said: "Relations are at their best possible from 2000 years to this day. From the time of Jesus to today we have never had better relations".
Bogota – As part of a deal to end Colombia’s 52-year civil war, the Farc freed 13 child soldiers from their ranks, turning them over to the International Committee of the Red Cross . In a statement sent to Fides, the ICRC said that the minors were in good health and were being transported to a temporary shelter under the supervision of the United Nations Children’s Fund. The ICRC did not identify the children released, saying that discretion was a priority to protect the minors’ rights.The Farc has long been accused of forced recruitment of minors, though the exact number of underage fighters is unknown. The guerrilla group said earlier this year that they had only 21 members under the age of 15; the Defence Ministry said in May it calculated there were some 170 members under 18. Since 1999, Colombia’s family welfare agency has taken in at least 6,000 child soldiers who either were captured from illegal armed groups or deserted. Sixty per cent had belonged to the Farc, according to official figures. In addition, forced recruitment has been one of the primary drivers of internal displacement, with families fleeing from rural areas to protect their children from being forced or lured into the rebel ranks.
Vatican City - On March 17, 2016 Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed rev. Fr. Anthony Chantry, of the Mill Hill Missionaries - St. Joseph’s Missionary Society as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in England and Wales for a five-year period .The new National Director was born on September 23 1954. In the period 1975/78 he was a student at the seminary in the Netherlands. After a year of pastoral experience in Kenya, in the period 1979/1981 he completed his theological studies at the MHM College in London. From 1981 to 1990, he carried out his pastoral service in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, Kenya. In the period 1990/1992 he obtained a Master in Theology in Chicago . From 1992 to 1994 he was Pastoral Director, and from 1994 to 2000 Rector of the MHM College in London. In 2001 he spent a year studying in Jerusalem. From 2001 to 2005 he was parish priest in the diocese in Kroonstad, in South Africa, and obtained a Masters in Management Conflict at the University of Port Elizabeth . In 2005 he was elected Superior General of the MHM, and re-elected in 2010. In 2015 he spent a sabbatical year at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago .
Managua - At the beginning of last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill, the "Nicaraguan Investment conditionality act", renamed "Nica Act", calling for economic sanctions against Daniel Ortega’s government. The law looks to stop Ortega from accessing international funds. The Government of Nicaragua, in a press release, rejected the "Nica Act", calling it a serious violation of international law and the United Nations charter.The Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, said: "There is no doubt that this initiative will have an economic impact, both for individuals and for the poor population. Many programs implemented in the country through aid will be "compromised. "Our government should look for a plan B because it is responsible for the progress and development of the Nicaraguan people", said the Cardinal, who concluded: "this plan B should in particular consider the poorest people, so that they are not harshly affected"According to data collected by Fides, this proposed US law intends to put pressure so that the upcoming elections on 6 November in Nicaragua are held in a free manner and monitored by international observers.
Concesio - The missionary commitment and service of Mgr. Cesare Mazzolari , who spent 30 years of his life in sub- Saharan Africa, in Sudan, will be remembered thanks to a biographical exhibition which will open on September 30 at the Paul VI Institute Study Center, in Concesio , as informs the note sent to Fides. The exhibition, entitled "Person for others", will trace the main stages of the life of the missionary in Africa, through eleven large display panels, and will open with a meeting-encounter with some operators in the humanitarian sector in South Sudan who knew or collaborated with him and continue to do so today through the Onlus CESAR Foundation in Concesio. The exhibition will remain open until 15 October.Mgr. Mazzolari was born in Brescia on February 9, 1937, he joined the Comboni Missionaries and was ordained a priest on 17 March 1962. After a first missionary experience in the United States among the African Americans and Mexicans, in 1981 he arrived in Sudan, where he worked in the diocese of Tombura-Yambio, then the Archdiocese of Juba, finally in the diocese of Rumbek . He was ordained a Bishop on 6 January 1999 by Pope John Paul II. He died on July 16, 2011 after suffering a seizure during the celebration of morning Mass, a few days after the celebration of the independence of South Sudan which he had attended. As Fides reports, the Lake States declared three days of national mourning for his death. In order to allow the entry into the church of the huge number of men and women, Catholics but also Muslims and animists, who came from every corner of the country to pay tribute to Mgr. Mazzolari, the doors of Rumbek Cathedral remained open day and night. According to his wish, the Bishop was buried in the Cathedral.
Lusaka - The Catholics and Protestants in Zambia have opposed the establishment of a new government Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs. "In view of the various financial and economic challenges our Country is currently facing, we neither see the creation of the said ministry as a top priority nor a prudent decision. After all, we believe that Zambians want their Country to be a democracy rather than a theocracy", said a joint statement of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Council of Churches in Zambia - the protestant churches’ body."We believe that as churches and other faith communities, we have this far been able to exercise our God-given mandate and meaningfully contribute towards national development without having such a ministry. Therefore, both CCZ and ZCCB stand opposed to the creation of the above mentioned ministry", concluded the statement sent to Fides.The party of President Edgar Lungu Chagwa, the Patriotic Front , who promoted the initiative said that the creation of the religious Ministry would help to regulate the church mother bodies in the Country and that a number of mushrooming churches in Zambia have taken advantage of the vulnerable people in the communities.The President appointed Reverand Godfridah Sumaili, a Pentecostal pastor as the new head of the ministry of religious affairs. The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia , which groups the Pentecostal Churches, praised the initiative of President Lungu because it "promotes Christian values and give more meaning to the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation".
Beirut - Today, Christians account for 34% of the Lebanese population registered in the civil Status register. But if the focus is placed on the Lebanese population up to 25 years of age, the percentage of Christians drops to 25%. This is the most eloquent demographic data on the current number of Christians in Lebanon, released by the vice president of the Maronite League Hiam Boustany at the Conference convened yesterday by the Movement for the Earth at the convent of Mar Yacoub, in the village of Karm Saddeh and dedicated to the sale of land belonging to Christian owners.The study meeting - refer the Lebanese media - focused the attention on the changes in ownership of land once owned by Christians to Muslim owners, confirming that this phenomenon is directly related to the weakening of the Christian presence in the vast rural areas of the Country of Cedars, and also in coastal areas of Zgharta and Kura. The Conference launched the new alarm on the necessity to avoid abuses and illegal real estate transactions that jeopardize the demographic balance on which the fragile Lebanese institutional system is also founded.