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  • Retired Ghanaian Educationist Advocates for Abolition of Tuition during School Vacation

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 29 August 2016

    educationist in ghana against vacation classesA retired educationist in Ghana, Mr. Jonathan Kofi Torku, has called on education authorities in his country to abolish classes when schools are on recess, saying these have become avenues for teachers to make money instead making use of normal school sessions.

    He advised Teachers to device innovative ways to impart knowledge to students, decrying instances where teachers collect monies from students for extra and vacation classes, noting that vacations were periods for students to rest and refresh their minds for the next academic term.

    He said that despite the numerous extra classes being organised by schools and teachers during school holidays, many students still fail in Mathematics and Science in West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

    In an interview on August 20 at Hohoe in the Volta Region of Ghana during the 16th National Congress of the Association of Catholic Teacher Trainees, Mr. Torku said that extra classes were meant for only Students who were weak in particular subjects but not a whole School or class.

    Mr. Torku, who was once a Mathematics Teacher, decried the lack of love and commitment of Teachers in ensuring that they taught students to perform well in WASSCE, appealing to Teachers to make the extra efforts during normal classes hours than focusing mainly on extra classes as the surest way of passing examinations.

    He urged Mathematics and Science Teachers especially to put in extra efforts in ensuring that students perform well, saying that the mass failure in these two Subjects by Senior High School students could be attributed to the fact that some Teachers do not have time to teach them during normal classes.

    He said there was need to assess not only students but Teachers to ensure that they performed the task assigned them to expectation.

    On duration of Senior High School in the educational system, the retired Educationist appealed to the Government to consider reverting the duration of SHS from three to four years, noting that considering the results of WASSCE over the years, there was clear indication the three -year duration was not the best.

    He said results of WASSCE for the past five years where the students did not perform creditably, should serve as a test case for the government and the educational authorities to revert the period back to four years.

    Mr. Torku said, as an Educationist and a former Head of a Secondary School, he agreed with those who were calling for the four-year duration, stressing that he was convinced that the four-year duration was better than the three years.

    Over the years, when WAEC released the results of WASSCE, there have been series of calls from some concerned parents, civil society organizations and Religious Organizations asking that the four year duration should be maintained.

    In its 2011 Communiqué, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, maintain the four-year duration in order for the students to prepare well before the examination.

    The Bishops said “The present government and successive ones must take note that there is a quiet but growing anger amongst the people about the politicization of education in the country.”

    They appealed to the government to maintain the four year system of Senior High School for some time to know its full benefits and disadvantages before it decides whether to make any changes or switch to another system.

    According to Mr. Torku said many students who completed SHS and failed to make the grade, spent so much on remedial classes but were still battling to pass their papers, stating that four-year System would surely solve the problem. 

    He said considering the increasing number of private candidates for WASSCE, it was clear that the three-year duration was inadequate, emphasising that the earlier something was done about the situation the better it would be to save the educational system of the country.

    Mr. Torku did not minced words by advising Students to avoid depending on fake Examination papers, popularly called “Apor” as the surest and only way to pass their examination, saying it was a recipe for disaster and the mass failure in the country.

    He said the only way to make this country a haven was to inculcate moral values in children to help them become disciplined, advising students to be studios and make good use of their time to excel in their academic pursuit.

    He reminded Teachers and parents of their duty to bring children in the fear of God, adding that the quality education delivery would unearth their God-given talents.

  • Open Letter to President Buhari from Anthony Cardinal Okogie, Nigeria

    CANAA || 29 August 2016

    Below is the full text of the letter by the Emeritus Archbishop of Lagos, Nigeria, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, addressed to the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, dated Tuesday August 23, 2016

    lagos emeritus archbishop to pres buhariDear Mr. President,

    Last year, when you assumed office, the chant of “Change”, your campaign slogan, ushered you into the Presidential Villa.  Today, cries of “hunger” could be heard across the length and breadth of our vast country.  Nigerians hunger, not only for food, but also for good leadership, for peace, security and justice.  This letter is to appeal to you to do something fast, and, if you are already doing something, to redouble your effort.

    May it not be written on the pages of history that Nigerians die of starvation under your watch. As President, you are chief servant of the nation.  I therefore urge you to live up to the huge expectation of millions of Nigerians.  A stitch in time saves nine.


    This is the second year of your administration.  You and your party promised to lead the masses to the Promised Land.   It is not an easy task to lead.  But by campaigning for this office, you offered to take the enormous task of leadership upon yourself. Nigerians are waiting for you to fulfill the promises you made during the campaign. They voted you into office because of those promises.

    The introduction of town hall meetings is a commendable idea. But in practice, you, not just your ministers, must converse with Nigerians. You are the President. You must be accountable to them. The buck stops on your desk. Even if your administration has no magic wand at least give some words of encouragement.  On this same score, please instruct your ministers, and insist that they be sincere and polite at those town meetings. Their sophistry will neither serve you nor

    Mr. President, if you want to leave a credible legacy come 2019, in all sincerity, please retool your administration. Change is desirable.  But it must be a change for the better.  Let this change
    be real.  Change is not real when old things that we ought to discard refuse to pass away. You will need to take a critical look at your cabinet, at the policies and programmes of your administration, and at those who help you to formulate and execute them. You will need to take a critical look at the manner of appointments you have been making.  It is true that commonsense dictates that you appoint men and women you can trust.  But if most of the people you trust are from one section of the country and practice the same religion, then you and all of us are living in insecurity.

    The Nigerian economy has never been in a state as terrible as this. You as President are like pilot of an aircraft flying in turbulence. Turbulent times bring the best or the worst out of a pilot.  We can no longer blame the turbulence on past administrations. You know quite well that some of the officials of your administration served in previous dispensations. Blame for what we have been experiencing is in fact bipartisan in character.  The entire political class needs to come together, irrespective of party differences, to acknowledge its collective guilt and to seek ways of saving the sinking ship that our country has become. This cannot be done if some officials of your administration demonize and alienate members of the opposition. If a large portion of the blame for the present situation is to be laid on the doorsteps of the entire political class, the search for solution must involve everyone.  That is why no one should be alienated. All hands must be on deck.

    This is the time to revitalize moribund industries, reinvigorate our agriculture, make our country tourist and investor friendly, and enable our young men and women to find fulfillment by contributing to the common good.  None of these lofty goals can be achieved without good education.  On this particular issue, recent appointments you have made in the education sector raise a question: have you really appointed the best?

    Still on education, it is important that our universities be allowed to use their own criteria to admit students. It is a gross violation of the principles of federalism and academic freedom for the federal government to insist that only a federal parastatal can decide on who gains admission into our universities. It is the role of the university senate, not of government bureaucrats, to decide on who gets admitted and who is awarded a certificate.


    Mr. President, your desire to wage a war on corruption is just and noble. But a just war must be waged with just means.  Those who have stolen the wealth of this country have broken the laws of our country. They must be treated according to the law and not outside the law, and the outcome of the judicial process must be respected by government. Even accused persons have rights.  Where those rights are violated, we risk a descent to anarchy.

    It is our candid opinion that corruption is not found in only one party. No political party in Nigeria has a monopoly of looters.  That is why we need an EFCC that is thoroughly independent of the presidency, and an Attorney General without party affiliation working
    in partnership with various independent accounting institutes. This will ensure that we come up with an objective list of those who plundered our treasury.

    Mr. President, pardon me if I sound like a gratuitous counselor. I owe you the truth and nothing but the truth. In my life as a public figure and a religious leader, I have offered my counsel, for whatever its worth, to quite a number of Presidents in this country. I do this because I desire that you succeed.  For the success of the leader is the success of the citizens. If there is no solution to Nigeria’s problem there may be endless war. You strike one town, you gain it, and you come again to regain it. Remember that you cannot put a crown on your head. It is the people who put it on you. Otherwise one day, you will get tired of it. Please listen to the legitimate cries of
    your fellow citizens.


  • Decreasing Migration by Increasing Job Opportunities: Church’s Success Story in Ethiopia

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopia || 29 August 2016

    church success story in ethiopiaThe Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission (Caritas Ethiopia) is successfully improving the lives of unemployed youth residing in rural areas in the Apostolic Vicariate of Soddo, Southern Ethiopia, with funds obtained from European Union and Caritas Belgium.

    The Commission is implementing Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE) project in three districts in Wolayta Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State from where thousands of young women and men flock to cities and even migrate to other countries every year in search of employment opportunities and better life style.

    SHARE focuses on empowering women and young people economically by creating alternative means of income at their localities.

    The initiative encourages the youth to save 20 percent of startup capital and injects the remaining 80 percent by facilitating and linking them with the local microfinance institution, training them on business plan and management.

    The initiative also encourages beneficiaries to develop the culture of saving through small saving groups.

    After selecting the unemployed young men and women through discussion with the local administration and the community as beneficiaries, the project organizes them in small groups and gives them entrepreneurial trainings.

    Then the unemployed youth are given the opportunity to select the best type of business that is suitable for their local context. Accordingly the youth groups are given a start up fund in addition to their savings to begin their small scale business.

    Shuye Humba Youth group is one of the youth groups organized by the project in Boloso Sore District, which comprises eight young women and men who were struggling to make ends meet sufficient enough to lead their life and look forward for a better future.

    The project has organized the youths to raise seedlings of different variety, pay them wages as daily laborers and support them with different seedling nursery materials and tools.

    Addisu Mutturu, head of the team explains the change they have experienced so far saying using the savings from their daily wages from the selling seedlings they have now extended their business to poultry production and cattle breeding.

    “Among us we have divided work schedule and we work day and night because we have seen the difference running our business can bring in our lives. When we first began people said to us that we were wasting our time and we would not be successful but we were not discouraged and continued to strive within just a year look at what a different story it has become,” he said.

    He explained that they were organized to raise seedlings and with the money they earned they began poultry production. Again with their savings and without even taking out a loan they managed to buy 16 oxen for fattening and they continue to work hard looking forward to an even successful future.

    Talking about his personal experience he said that he has gone through many up and downs after completing high school and was not successful in the entrance exam to for University.

    “I could not get a job here in my village so I went to the capital city Addis Ababa, life there was very difficult. I was working as a chest vendor and an assistant for a taxi; I became addicted and was abusing many substances. The money I made was so small I spent many days involved in petty theft because I had to eat,” he explained.

    When he realized there could be no future in staying at the capital Addisu returned to his home town and he was given the opportunity to be a beneficiary in the project.

    “Now I am working everyday and I am getting a sufficient return, I am even contributing for my family’s household. I realize that being employed by the government and migrating are not the only means and if you work hard enough there are many opportunities to for making money and growing right in my home village,” said Addisu.

    Alemitu Alemu is also a member of the group. After failing to complete high school she migrated to Hawassa town where she had heard there is employment opportunity.

    Unfortunately for her once she arrived there the only work available for her was selling peanuts on the street. She recalls that life for a female in the streets was very difficult; she decided to return to her village and stay there for a while before moving to another town in search of employment.

    Before she left she was given the opportunity to be a beneficiary member of the group. Now she earns a monthly income enough for her living and she even manages to safe an amount in their savings group.

    “I am now working just as hard as the males in my group and every day our groups financial capacity is growing and we plan to expand our business even more. Thanks to the project the idea of migrating is completely out of my mind, at this moment I am not worried about poverty but my mind is occupied with thoughts of growing and improving only. Today is great and tomorrow will be better,” she said.

    According to Melese Morebo, who before joining the group was not able to support his family, says that the group gets together regularly to discuss their next move and which sector would be better to invest in. Moreover, they share the work burden equally among themselves.

    “It is because we have developed the culture of working collaboratively without holding back our skills and our strength in contributing to the growth our business that we have achieved this progress. We strictly follow our working rules and we take advice of the project officers into account as they do have better experience than us” said Melese.

    Mr Abera, a representative of Damot Pulasa district, for his part said that the group is a model success story. He said that the Catholic Church Social and Development Commission is mainly successful with instilling the attitude of looking towards alternative means of income and hard work in the minds of the young people.

    He said this is achieved through the various workshops and training sessions and the practical success they are witnessing in their own lives. He said the commission’s project officers work hand in hand with all the beneficiary youth groups’ day in day out and highly contribute to the ongoing growth of the groups.

    “We are particularly proud of ECC SDCO’s staff, they share their skills with the youth groups without holding back. This is witnessed in the careful and successful decisions the youth groups are making in selecting a profitable business sector to invest in based on their local context,” explained Mr. Abera.

    He added that the local administration will remain committed in supporting the youth groups in tackling obstacles they may face along the way. He also suggested the project should consider incorporating better market opportunities in its plan for an even smoother implementation.

  • Feeding on the Body of Jesus with Only Your Eyes Does Not Satisfy, Cardinal in Kenya Challenges Catholic Families

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 29 August 2016

    cardinal njue on kula eucharist kwa macho 1The Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue Sunday, August 28, challenged couples that have not had their unions blessed in Church through the Sacrament of Matrimony to do so in order to fully participate in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

    “If you feed on the body of Jesus with only your eyes, does it satisfy?” Cardinal Njue rhetorically asked the Catholic faithful who gathered at St. Mary’s Mukuru, a slum Parish in the East of Nairobi ministered by the Holy Ghost Fathers.

    He was presiding over Holy Eucharist at which he conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation upon 468 faithful and blessed 660 Catholic families that had registered with the Parish council.

    During his homily, Cardinal Njue asked those who were to be conferred the sacrament of Confirmation not to take the event as a formality but as a truly new beginning for them, allowing its grace to influence their respective lives in whatever situation they find themselves.

    cardinal njue on kula eucharist kwa macho 2He encouraged them to become living stones by the power of the Holy Spirit to be received, actively contributing to the building of the family of God for posterity.

    Some of the candidates who had just received the Sacrament of Confirmation prayed for Catholic Church leadership, peace in Kenya, in families, Small Christian Communities, the Church, and globally.

    They also prayed for vocations and for the dead and voiced petitions against negative ethnicity and corruption, which contribute to the lack of peace and concluded with Pope Francis’ prayer for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which the entire congregation recited.

    Cardinal Njue also acknowledged with appreciation the work of the missionaries in Kenya saying, “We are where we are thanks to the immeasurable love of the men and women who came from so far and came among us, not because we owed them anything, which they came to reclaim. No! They came to show us the way to salvation prepared for us by God through His son Jesus Christ.”

    cardinal njue on kula eucharist kwa macho 3“We are here as fruits of the work accomplished by the missionaries,” he added.

    At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Njue commissioned those who had received the Sacrament of Confirmation to be at the forefront in doing what is good and to be living stones that build a strong Church, one founded on Christian values.

    Established in 1996 by the Holy Ghost Fathers (Spiritans), the Parish has six outstations, 111 small Christian communities, and a population of about 15,000 faithful.  

    Below is the full text of the Speech by the Chairman of St. Mary's Mukuru Parish, during the visit of John Cardinal Njue, which includes some important parish statistics.


    His Eminence the Cardinal John Njue, all protocols observed, we welcome you to St. Marys’ Catholic Parish, Mukuru. It is indeed a privilege and honour to host you in this parish today, the 28th day of August, 2016, as we celebrate the spiritual growth of our parish.

    It has been a long journey for this parish which started in 1996 with just a few Christians worshipping in a small structure and only one Small Christian Community.

    However, things have however changed and now we have three Priests, seven catechists, one hundred and eleven Small Christian Communities and six outstations. The six outstations are;- St. Mary’s (Njenga), St. Jude (Reuben), St. Monica (Lunga Lunga), Holy Spirit (Pipeline), St. Joseph (Sinai) and St. Bakhita (Mukuru North).

    Although the major part of the parish is an informal settlement, we are proud that the Christians are united and eager to cultivate a spirit of togetherness while forging ahead spiritually.

    The Parish Priest, Fr. Vincent Makokha and the Assistant Parish Priests, Fr. Robert Wafula and Fr. John Munjuri have played a critical role in holding the Christians together, which has created a conducive environment for the development so far being experienced in Mukuru.

    Today’s function where four hundred and sixty eight (468) children are receiving their confirmation is a testimony to the growth in faith that we are currently articulating in our Parish.

    The above successes though have been achieved against a back drop of challenges that have majorly impacted negatively on the growth of the Parish.

    The acquisition of ownership documents for the parcel of land in which the temporary church structures are built has been a serious impediment to the progress of the centres within our Parish. It is worth noting that five centres do not have title deeds, while the only centre that has the title deed is struggling to increase the size of the plots so as to build a reasonable size of the church. In the process all the meagre resources generated goes towards the acquisition of land instead of the construction works.

    Consequently, the larger part of the Parish population are in the informal settlements, which means they are not permanently settled in those areas. This has made it difficult to have a consistent number of registered members in the small Christian communities. To compound the problem further the same populace expects more from the church, in terms of material things than them providing to the church thus retarding the development of the Parish.

    Despite all these challenges, we appreciate being in this Parish and will endeavour to develop it with the available resources.

    Your Eminence, despite your busy schedule, the St Marys’ Catholic Parish fraternity wishes you good health to continue the good work and request that you include us in your diary of those to be visited frequently.

    Thank you and May God bless you

    Martin Njuguna

    Chairman, St Marys’ Catholic Parish, Mukuru

  • Cardinal Sarah: Reaction to My Ad Orientem Speech was ‘not always very accurate’

    Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 24 August 2016

    ad orientum reaction inaccurateCardinal Robert Sarah has said that comments he made during a conference in London earlier this year were not always interpreted accurately.

    During his address to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, on ‘Liturgical Life and the Priesthood’, the Vatican’s liturgy chief said: “Last month, in London, I gave a presentation ‘Towards an authentic implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium’ … This talk received a lot of attention — some of it not always very accurate!”

    During his address in July at the Sacra Liturgia conference, Cardinal Sarah asked priests to implement the practice of celebrating Mass facing east “wherever possible” prompting both the Vatican and the Archbishop of Westminster to issue statements, distancing themselves from Cardinal Sarah’s comments.

    During his more recent address in Sri Lanka, the cardinal still reiterated the problems with celebrating Mass facing the people, saying that Mass had become too focused on the priest and the congregation, rather than God Himself.

    He said: “In recent decades in some countries the Sacred Liturgy has become too anthropocentric; man not Almighty God has often become its focus. This archdiocese has had very fine archbishops, and I think that this problem is probably not a very large one here. However we must take care to form our people that God, not ourselves, is the focus of our worship.”

    The cardinal continued by emphasising that that the liturgy is not a celebration of our own achievements but God’s love and mercy. He said: “We do not come to the Church to celebrate what we have done or who we are. Rather, we come to celebrate and give thanks for all that Almighty God has done, and continues in His love and mercy to do, for us.

    “What He does in the liturgy is what is essential; what we do is to present our ‘first fruits’—the best that we can—in worship and adoration. When the modern liturgy is celebrated in the vernacular with the priest ‘facing the people’ there is a danger of man, even of the priest himself and of his personality, becoming too central.

    “In every Catholic liturgy, the Church, made up of both minister and faithful, gives her complete focus – body, heart and mind – to God who is the centre of our lives and the origin of every blessing and grace.”

    Source: Catholic Herald… 

  • St. Louis Sisters' Mission in Rural Ethiopia Has Adventures, Challenges, and Beauty

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Melanie Lidman || 25 August 2016

    st louis sisters mission in ethiopia"The St. Louis Sisters in Africa are booming with vocations and we could afford to expand, but instead of going to Europe, [we're doing] as the Gospel said: Go to the ends of the world," Sr. Justina Ihechere proclaims.

    She pauses for a moment and looks out of the windows from her new mission in Dawhan, northern Ethiopia. In every direction, jagged mountains pierce the sky, scraggly brush barely clinging to the steep pitches. In the village below, mud houses are clustered together on the only flat plots available.

    Dawhan is located just 15 minutes south of the Eritrean border, and the only connection to the rest of the world is a dirt road winding up and down the mountainsides. Every morning, a troop of Ethiopian soldiers patrols along this road to search for Eritrean infiltrators, a remnant from the devastating Ethiopian-Eritrean war from 1998 to 2000.

    The Dawhan mission is more than an hour from a paved road and three hours from the closest large town. In the northwestern part of Ethiopia, the mountains are sprinkled with tiny villages, filled with farmers trying to coax sprouts of barley and teff (a local grain) from the rocky mountain ridges. It is in this place that three St. Louis Sisters, two from Nigeria and one from Ghana, are making their new home.

    The popular story in the international media is that the Catholic Church is shrinking, losing vocations and packing up parishes. But as religious life grows at unprecedented rates in Africa, some congregations are expanding to new locations.

    The St. Louis Sisters, after a long soul-searching process, decided to start a remote outpost in northern Ethiopia. They arrived on Sept. 19, 2013, not quite sure what they would find. The start of a new mission has had challenges, obstacles, frustrations, more than a few stomach issues, as well as touching moments of love and community. Three sisters who founded the mission look back on their difficult first three years and the adventure of starting a new mission in the middle of nowhere.

    'In West Africa, we don't have mountains like this!'

    Sr. Ijanada Emmanuel remembers the first time the three sisters drove out to their new home in Dawhan. It was a difficult, though exciting day. First, they were exhausted. They'd arrived at the airport in Mekele, the largest city in northern Ethiopia, late the night before and set out to the village at 5 a.m. with at least a five-hour drive ahead.

    "I couldn't even imagine these mountains, going in," says Emmanuel, who is from northern Nigeria. While the other people in her car chatted away, Emmanuel was mute with shock and fear, as the road wound precipitously close to the edges of steep mountainsides. Everything was rushed as they tried to reach the church, where the entire community was waiting to welcome them with dances and prayers. (Watch the welcome procession here.)

    Second, the sisters were starving.

    "They gave us meat, and for them to give us meat, it was a big thing," says Ihechere, also from Nigeria. "But we weren't ready for eating from the communal bowl. It was good if we knew, but it was a shock, you can imagine!"

    "Then for supper, injera, oh my God," remembers Ihechere. Injera is the Ethiopian traditional flatbread, made from fermented teff grains and served at almost every meal. The bread is very nutritious, high in iron and calcium, but the slightly sour taste can take some getting used to.

    "The injera was cold as a dog's nose!" Ihechere says. "We were able to eat bread. We couldn't eat the injera; my stomach could not take it."

    "The shock and everything about it was just, I can't even express it," says Sr. Benedicta Boakye-Yiadom, from Ghana, as she recalled the first week in Dawhan. "Our first Sunday when we went to Mass, we took our Sunday missals with us. They started chanting, and I said, 'Oh, OK, after the chanting we'll be able to follow.' They came and read in Tigrinya. I couldn't follow the head or the tail of anything. I was in total shock."

    "I was expecting that the Catholic Church is the same; even if you don't have the language, you should be able to follow the sequence," Boakye-Yiadom says.

    The Ethiopian Catholic church is unique in having two rites — Latin rites and Ethiopian Coptic rites. Ethiopian rites have a very different service structure than Latin Masses and use both local languages as well as Ge'ez, the Ethiopian holy language. Although both are considered Catholic, Ethiopians who grew up practicing Latin rite say they also get lost switching to Ethiopian rite, and vice versa.

    "When we went to our first Mass, we came home and we said, 'Did we just go to Mass?' " Emmanuel says. She can laugh about the memory now. "The first Sunday, it was not funny. Our leadership sat in front of us, and they didn't look behind them. They had already been there, so they knew what was coming, but we had no idea."

    "Even [the leadership] who came for the feasibility studies, they hadn't seen the tip of things," says Ihechere. But now that she looks back on it, maybe that was a good thing.

    "If they had seen everything, maybe we would have been discouraged," she says. "The rites, the culture, the terrain, the mountains . . . in West Africa, we don't have mountains like this! I never thought I'd be able to drive on a road like this. Maybe it was providence that they didn't know themselves."

    Read more…

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • CARITAS Ghana Launches Land Grabbing Report

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 25 August 2016

    caritas ghana launch land grabbing report 2016Caritas Ghana, the charity wing of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Tuesday, August 23 launched a report on land grabbing in Ghana titled “Unmasking Land Grabbing in Ghana; Restoring Livelihoods; paving the way for Sustainable Development Goals” in view of finding policy and programme solution to the challenge.

    Speaking at the National Catholic Secretariat in Accra during the launch, the Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana, Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, said that the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has the keen interest and commitment to addressing the issue of land grabbing and land grabbers with the aim of protecting and restoring the livelihoods of rural people, protecting the environment and to save communities from unnecessary strife and conflicts as a result of land grabbing.

    “It is our hope that this conversation that we are beginning today would help deepen our understanding on the issues involved to enable the Bishops take actions based on informed position.”

    Mr. Akologo noted that Caritas Ghana, together with its partners, would also continue to engage in public awareness on the issue saying, “We have the outreach potential to reach every nook and cranny of this country to ensure that no one is left behind.”

    The report, which covered about six months of research was prepared by Caritas Ghana in collaboration with the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge on Development (CIKOD) and the Africa Faith and Justice Network (AF&JN) with financial support from local and international partners.

    The Survey, which also aims at raising the vexing issue of land grab as a national canker, was carried out as a follow-up to some of the recommendations that were adopted at a Continental Conference on Land Grabbing in Nairobi, Kenya last November and an initial case Study carried out in the Volta Region of Ghana, by AF&JN based in Washington DC, USA.

    Giving an overview of the report, Mr. Akologo said the opening Chapter of the report reveals how inadequate land management and utilization policies are in Ghana.

    Another more recent catalyst to this evil has been urbanization, he added and stated, “The chapter has noted that limited consultation with farmers, communities and households whose livelihoods depend on land, in very important decisions is a serious aberration with consequences for the violation of fundamental human rights.”

    According to him, Chapter two uses Pope Francis’ Encyclical – Laudato Si on the Care of Our Common Home and his other teachings to emphasize the need for dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet. ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ (LS160).

    In chapter three, the report presents three case studies, which demonstrate how land grabbing is a real threat to lives and livelihoods of especially those already at the margins of society and whose only coping mechanism is through their God-given resource of land.

    Chapter four explains the dynamics of land grabbing, which are tactfully driven and controlled by the foreign investors with their ability to exploit loopholes in national legal frameworks and the ignorance of communities.

    The potential for corruption, manipulation, threats and intimidation that pave the way for land deals done in surreptitious circumstances, have been explained in this chapter.

    He noted, “Our proposals for policy consideration and recommendations, in Chapter Five, begin on the premise of Pope Francis’ Encyclical – Laudato Si on the Care for our Common Home.”

    This last Chapter recognizes that there already exist some policy guidelines and on-going advocacy efforts of other civil society organizations on land grab and or its related issues.

    “We see Laudato Si as a framework for collective and collaborative response of Church, State, society and corporate bodies to build consensus in addressing the problem,” he added.

    At the launch, the Assistant Secretary General of the National Catholic Secretariat, Father Wisdom Larweh, said that the efforts of the Church in Ghana had resonated with Pope Francis’ proposals in Chapter five of Laudato Si, which addresses the question of what we can and must do to save mother earth.

    Meanwhile, a two-day National Stakeholders’ Forum on Land Grabbing has taken place in Accra from August 23- 24, 2016 as part of the launching of the Survey Report.

    About sixty stakeholders from Government, Community Actors, Justice and Peace Commissions, Leaders of Faith Base Organisations and media professionals are attending the Forum. The Executive Director of AF&JN, Rev. Fr. Aneidi Okure, OP and some officials of the Justice, Peace and Development Commission of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) addressed the Forum.

    Land grabbing is generally perceived as large scale land acquisition by either internal or external actors purposely for business interest and displaces their original local owners.

  • Jesuit Institute South Africa “seriously concerned” with Harassment of Finance Minister

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 25 August 2016

    jesuit frs in safrica on finance minister harassing 2016The leadership of the Jesuit Institute South Africa is expressing serious concerns with South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), popularly known as the HAWKS, over the move to interrogate the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on corruption allegations.

    In a statement dated Thursday, August 25, Jesuit Fathers Anthony Egan and Russell Pollitt describe the summoning of Mr. Gordhan by the HAWKS as “harassment, which by all accounts has no legitimacy or credibility.”

    The HAWKS target organized crime, economic crime, corruption, as well as any other serious crime, which the national President or the South African Police Service (SAPS) may refer to the Directorate.

    The HAWKS claim that in his capacity as Finance Minister, Mr. Gordhan made questionable approvals and facilitated the creation of structures within the South African Revenue Service (SARS), “which gathered, collected, evaluated, correlated intelligence contrary to section 3 of the National Strategic Intelligence Act 39 of 1994.”

    The Jesuit Fathers state, “There is no legal basis for charging Mr. Gordhan, the motive is, clearly, political” and add, “in the latest developments the HAWKS have reinforced the impression that they are being used as political proxies by President Zuma and/or those connected to the President in their battle for unrestricted access to state funds.”

    Meanwhile, In a statement dated Wednesday, August 24, South Africa’s Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan confirms receiving a letter from the HAWKS “requesting that I present myself at their offices on 25 August 2016, at 14h00 in order that a warning statement may be obtained from me.”

    In the same statement, Mr. Gordhan declines submitting to DPCI and states, “I therefore, do not intend to present myself for a warning statement for many considerations, both legal and given my other commitments. I remain committed to assist the HAWKS in any bonafide investigation as stated in my statement.”

    “I have provided a comprehensive account of matters which the HAWKS had raised in their 27 questions on 18 May 2016,” Mr. Gordhan states.

    He also adds, “I have a job to do in a difficult economic environment and serve South Africa as best I can. Let me do my job.”

    The letter from the HAWKS makes particular reference to the investigation about “contravention of public finance management Act, 1999, prevention of the corrupt activities Act, 2004 and contravention of national strategic intelligence Act, 1994, et al: Brooklyn CAS 427/5/2015.”

    “If the case against Mr. Gordhan is proved to be malicious, as evidence suggests, then the individuals at the HAWKS who are responsible for this, and those who ordered them, must be held personally liable and accountable for their actions,” the Jesuit Fathers conclude in their statement.

    Below is the full text of South Africa’s Jesuit Institute statement; contacts of authors of the statement are further below


    25 August 2016

    The Jesuit Institute South Africa is seriously concerned with, what appears to be, the continued harassment by the HAWKS of the Minister of Finance, Mr. Pravin Gordhan. This harassment, which by all accounts has no legitimacy or credibility, has serious consequences for the country. The fall of the local currency on Tuesday/Wednesday is indicative of the economic consequences for an already struggling economy.  

    It is well known that Mr. Gordhan, together with business in South Africa, has worked tirelessly to avert a ratings downgrade for the country. If this disturbing attack on Mr. Gordhan by the HAWKS continues, a ratings downgrade will become a reality and it will have devastating consequences for South Africa – especially the poorest of the poor.  

    The HAWKS are rapidly losing any credibility they may have had as an impartial and trustworthy law enforcement agency. They are ignoring the much more credible allegations against British American Tobacco. There is no legal basis for charging Mr. Gordhan, the motive is, clearly, political. Just a few months ago the compromised HAWKS head, Berning Ntlemeza, assured Mr. Gordhan that he was not being investigated. What has changed or was Ntlemeza not telling the truth? 

    Furthermore, in the latest developments the HAWKS have reinforced the impression that they are being used as political proxies by President Zuma and/or those connected to the President in their battle for unrestricted access to state funds, particularly in connection to the nuclear procurement deal and South African Airways. If there is cause for concern, and Mr. Gordhan needs to be investigated, a credible body must be tasked with doing the investigation. 

    It is also concerning to note, after the Finance Minister debacle in December 2015 and the damage that firing of Mr. Nene did to the economy, that President Zuma continues to allow this kind of action to be pursued. Once again President Zuma’s government displays a leadership which is self-serving. It does not care about the common good. To step in now, Mr. President, and end this racket and put the country’s struggling economy first, may be your last opportunity to show that you are concerned about the common good.

    If the case against Mr. Gordhan is proved to be malicious, as evidence suggests, then the individuals at the HAWKS who are responsible for this, and those who ordered them, must be held personally liable and accountable for their actions.

    For further information please contact:

    Fr. Anthony Egan, SJ

    Political Analyst/Social Ethicist

    + 27 72 938 4553 OR a.egan@jesuitinstitute.org.za

     Fr. Russell Pollitt, SJ

    Jesuit Institute Director

    + 27 82 737 2054 OR r.pollitt@jesuitinstitute.org.za

  • Last Week Countdown for Taizé Community “Pilgrimage of Trust” in Benin: 7500 Youth to Participate

    Press Release || 22 August 2016

    last week countdown on taize in beninCotonou, 22 August 2016

    7500 youth from across Africa meet in Cotonou from the 31st of August to the 4th of September for a Pilgrimage of Trust led by the Taizé Community.

    At the invitation of the Catholic Church and the Methodist Protestant Church of Benin, the Taizé Community will hold, from August 31st to September 4th, an international youth meeting in Cotonou.

    After Johannesburg (1994), Nairobi (2008) and Kigali (2012), the meeting will be the fourth African stage of the Pilgrimage of Trust initiated by the community for thirty-five years.

    The Cotonou meeting will bring together more than 7,500 participants from 18 to 35 under the theme 'Together seeking paths of hope'. They will come from Benin, other west-African countries, the rest of Africa and Europe. Apart from Benin, the largest groups come from Togo (one thousand participants), Nigeria (700), Ghana (100), Burkina Faso (170), Côte d'Ivoire (60). In total twenty African countries will be represented as well as fifteen other countries.

    The aim of this gathering is to enable young adults to deepen their faith and experience fraternity and sharing across borders, in the diversity of cultures, languages and church traditions. The meeting will be held at three levels: in families where participants will be accommodated (three thousand families have offered hospitality to visitors), in neighborhoods for the morning program (forty-four parishes, Protestant and Catholic, are hosting participants), at collège Père Aupiais, where all participants will convene together every afternoon. There, they will receive their meals and will meet for common prayers under a large tent.

    Each afternoon participants can choose between ten proposals in a range including a place of individual silence, workshops and teachings on matters of faith or society and cultural events. Among others, a forum where delegations from the various countries will present songs and dances, a concert of African music, an exhibition of artists... Father Justin Bocovo will facilitate two workshops: "Discovering and loving our neighbor, believer of Islam" and " What can we live with the believers of traditional African religions? ". Entrepreneurs, including Mr. Albin Feliho, president of the National Confederation of Employers of Benin, will share their experience: "Creating your own job, an opportunity for every young African." Two former health ministers, Professors Flora Ganbo and Dorothée Kinde-Gazard will develop a reflection on "Christian and politics". Catholic or Protestant theologians, couples, agronomists, engineers, young people, but also children with disabilities, people engaged with the marginalized, will join the participants and share with them their commitment.

    Brother Alois, prior of the Taizé Community, will speak during prayers that will gather every day all participants under a large tent built on the college's sports field. He will also facilitate three afternoon workshops.

    For several months a choir has rehearsed to prepare for the celebrations. A team of one hundred professionals installs a field kitchen to prepare meals. Teams of volunteers will organize the welcome and the logistics required. The Benafrique bus company will provide shuttles between the parishes and the collège Père Aupiais, site of joint activities.

    Program of the meeting available here...

    Map to access College Père Aupiais available here...

    - Brother Luc, Taizé community, tel: 61 36 43 30, luc@taize.fr
    - Father Jonathan Capo-Chichi, national chaplain of Catholic youth, tel: 99 48 35 36 jonathan_cap@yahoo.fr
    - Pastor Jean-François Hounkpatin, national youth chaplain Protestant Methodist Temple Shalom, tel: 97 12 91 27 jfhounk@gmail.com

  • Bishops in South Africa Acclaim Citizens for Recent Local Elections: Statement

    The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || Archbishop William Slattery || 22 August 2016

    bishops in sa lauds citizens on local electionsPeople of South Africa can take credit for the recent local elections which all agree were free and fair. Democracy itself was the victor. The Independent Electoral Commission must be congratulated in making it possible for all citizens to participate in a great common one-nation exercise of creating our future. We wish to acknowledge and express gratitude to our Justice and Peace commission and the many observers from our church who patriotically served the nation. We give thanks to God for the growing maturity of our democracy and we praise all political parties who have accepted the outcome.

    This peaceful elections auger well for the future stability of our political system. The election result may herald in a new phase in the history of our democracy involving coalition government, realistic opposition politics and greater responsibility in the exercise of power. Coalitions can be enrichment in that they bring together the fruits of many minds when exercised with equality and reciprocity. Wrongly pursued coalitions can lead to endless wrangling, polarisation and collapse of governance.

    We plead with the sixty one thousand elected officials to avoid seeking personal enrichment and making cheap political points; rather let them keep before their minds the serious challenges facing our communities. We plead with them to seek relationships of trust, to give supreme importance to the value of dialogue and to seek to build social capital. We remind Catholics who have been elected to office in the various parties to see this work as a vocation and a mission.

    We come out of an intense period of electioneering. We appeal to the various political parties to avoid a winner-take-all mentality. Our country faces huge problems of social trauma; unemployment, inequality, racism, violence, drugs abuse and family breakdown. Our elected officials must make local needs their priority and patiently leave national concerns to the central government. The quality of life of nation is measure by the care given to the poor, to children the aged and all the marginalised. All who live in our land must be protected and respected.

    In this election our people have spoken, they demand change; they expect service and are tired of corruption, maladministration and being ignored. God will be with us if we create a future based on respect for human dignity. Let this election be a moment of new beginning.

    Jeremiah 29:7, “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried...... Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

  • Ibadan Bishops in Nigeria Ask Government to “return Catholic Schools”

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 22 August 2016

    ibadan bishops ask return of catholic  schoolsThe Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria have criticized the education section of their country and called on the State Governments within their territory “to unconditionally return Catholic Schools.”

    “Most people agree that concerted intervention is still needed in the education sector in Nigeria,” the Bishops state in a communique issued at the end of their second plenary assembly for 2016, which was held last week (August 15-16).

    They advocate for a “massive structural upgrade” and justify the role of the Church saying, “We also need thorough and pervasive moral rehabilitation for government educational administrators, teachers, pupils and students.”

    The Bishops add, “The people of Nigeria, especially the South West, have always cherished holistic education and they deserve the right to receive it from all who have the competence and goodwill to offer it.”

    The Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan brings together the the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Oyo and Osogbo.

    The meeting, which took place at at the Ondo Diocesan Pastoral Centre Igoba, Akure, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari government to “put in place systemic and institutional anti-corruption policies and strategies.”

    The Bishops argued that strategizing the ongoing anti-corruption campaign “will ensure that the campaign outlasts the current administration.”

    The Bishops met to “prayerfully deliberated on issues of importance to” their local Church and their nation of Nigeria under the theme: “Be Merciful like the Creator.”

    Below is the full text of the Ibadan Bishops’ Communique

    Communique issued at the end of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province for 2016 held at the Ondo Diocesan Pastoral Centre Igoba, Akure from 15th-16th August, 2016.

    Theme: Be Merciful Like the Creator

    We, Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising of the Archdiocese of Ibadan and the Dioceses of Ondo, Ekiti, Ilorin, Oyo and Osogbo, have held our Second Plenary Meeting for the year 2016 from January 18-19. Having prayerfully deliberated on issues of importance to our Church and country, we hereby issue the following communique:

    1. Welcome to the new Bishop of Osogbo

    We thank God for the appointment of Most Reverend John Akin Oyejola who has been ordained and installed Bishop in St. Benedict Cathedral at Osogbo on 30th June, 2016. We congratulate Bishop Oyejola, the Clergy, the Religious and the lay people of Osogbo Diocese for this historic event. We welcome him to our Conference and pray that his pastoral leadership will bring Osogbo Diocese to greater spiritual heights.

    2. The Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria

    We are happy to welcome the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) for its Second Plenary Meeting in our Province from September 8 to 16, 2016. We appreciate the generosity of Most Reverend Jude Arogundade, the Clergy, Religious and Faithful of Ondo Diocese for accepting to host the Conference on behalf of Ibadan Province in the new Domus Pacis Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Igoba, Akure. The CBCN, the unifying organ of the Bishops of Nigeria, seeks to address issues of concern to the faithful in Nigeria and the entire nation as a whole. We pray for God’s protection over all who will come for the Conference and ask for God’s blessings over the proceedings of the meeting.

    3. The anti-Corruption Campaign in Nigeria

    We join the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria CBCN to commend the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the effort made so far in exposing corrupt practices and people in Nigeria. We confirm the need for this important campaign. We however ask the Federal Government, while exposing corrupt people, to also put in place systemic and institutional anti-corruption policies and strategies in the country. This will ensure that the campaign outlasts the current administration. We urge the State Governments and other tiers of government to join in this fight against corruption in order to bring it down to the grassroots and complement the effort of the Federal Government. We identify with the hard times which Nigerians are going through. We implore the government and employers at all levels to alleviate the situation by paying salaries and pension as a matter of justice. We call Nigerians to show solidarity to one another wherever necessary.

    4. Enduring challenges in the Education Sector

    Most people agree that concerted intervention is still needed in the education sector in Nigeria. With regard to this, all hands must be on deck to salvage the situation. In order to save the degenerate situation of the sector, our government needs to be more sincere in collaborating with partners and organizations which have a proven track record in the sector. Not only do we need massive structural upgrade we also need thorough and pervasive moral rehabilitation for government educational administrators, teachers, pupils and students. This latter area is where the Church is best suited to help. For the umpteenth time therefore, we call on the State Governments within our Province to unconditionally return Catholic Schools so that we can fully participate in restoring the integrity of the education sector. The people of Nigeria, especially the South West, have always cherished holistic education and they deserve the right to receive it from all who have the competence and goodwill to offer it. 

    5. The Sanctity of Life

    Our country is generally passing through and unfortunate phase whereby human life is constantly undermined and even wasted. In spite of some commendable effort by the security agencies we are still constantly assaulted with news of needless deaths in our country from ethnic conflicts, so-called herdsmen/farmers clashes, armed robbery, kidnaping, traffic accidents, lynching and even now, suicide. We call on all Nigerians to please respect the sanctity of human life. God is the author of life and he alone has the right to take it. We equally denounce other policies and practices which undermine the sanctity of life. We condemn the recent move by the Minister for Education, Professor Isaac Adewole in collaboration with some foreign agencies to commit the Federal Government of Nigeria to increasing the culture of contraception and subsequently, abortion among our people. This is being done all in the name of providing better maternal health care and empowering our women. We see such moves as deceptive of our people and harmful to moral values and we ask Nigerians to reject them. Our youth and women today need stable power supply, potable water, good roads with better health and educational facilities and infrastructure more than they need contraception. Our country must therefore reject this relentless offer of anti-life incentives under the guise of foreign aid in order not to destroy our beautiful culture.   

    6. The forthcoming elections in Edo and Ondo States

    As the elections in Edo and Ondo State draw near, we urge all who will contest the elections to commit themselves to nonviolence and fair play. Our country by now has some years of democratic experience and so must be seen to be gaining positively from that experience. We urge the electoral umpires to be truly independent and fair. Since democracy is fundamentally about people, we call on all our people also to stand up for what is good and beneficial to the common good. Let everyone vote according to their conscience and shun all forms of corrupt practices for the sake of our future and our dear country.

    7. Conclusion

    In conclusion we continue to invite all citizens of Nigeria to a true conversion of heart (Deut. 2:16-17; Micah 3). Our repentance and steadfastness will surely bring God’s mercy down upon us. The people of Nineveh escaped calamity because all the people repented from their wickedness. If all Nigerians could repent like the people of Nineveh, God will have mercy on us and restore our land.

     Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin                           Most Rev. Felix Ajakaye

    Archbishop of Ibadan                                           Bishop of Ekiti

    President                                                                    Secretary.

  • Domestic Violence a Major Challenge on Family: Archbishop in Uganda

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 22 August 2016

    archbishop obbo on domestic violence aThe Archbishop of Tororo in Uganda, Most Rev. Emmanuel Obbo, has identified domestic violence as the major challenge facing the family within his ecclesiastical territory.

    “The major challenge that we have, which we are working on today is domestic violence in almost every family,” Archbishop Obbo told CANAA last Wednesday, August 17, in an interview at his office.

    “There is what we call all colours of domestic violence, all types, and nobody is spared: a child, a student, a mother, a father, is experiencing domestic violence,” he explained and added, “We are working out that the community should handle this domestic violence.”

    The violence takes the form of physical fighting with some husbands beating up their wives, “in some cases wives beat their husbands," child beating, the defilement of children, including incest “and young girls are not free to live in this society,” the Archbishop explained.

    “It’s a concern for the family, it’s a concern for the society, above all, it’s a concern for the Church, and we cannot keep quiet,” Archbishop Obbo decried.

    He described domestic violence in his territory as “a way of life” brought about by lack of acceptance of personal situations, objecting to those who say poverty is behind the behaviour.

    “People are not satisfied with the way they live, the time is running, people are competing, they want to see better things but they cannot see better things in themselves, and that frustrates,” the Archbishop explained.

    In a bid to address the challenge, Archbishop Obbo has established chaplaincy for domestic violence in each deanery to oversee the campaign against the menace, with committees at every Parish.

    archbishop obbo on domestic violence b“People are welcoming this campaign against domestic violence,” Archbishop Obbo confirmed, adding that the committee members are trained in handling all kinds of issues related to domestic violence.

    “We get families who have passed through (domestic violence), who have been trained and cured or healed themselves, reconciled themselves, and they spread their witness to the others, teaching them from place to place,” Archbishop Obbo explained how some of the Parish committees are constituted.

    Those who are part of the Parish committee journey with individual families to help the members in conflict discover the problems bedevilling them as to bring about violence and seeking out nonviolent ways of addressing the challenges.

    The Archdiocese also uses radio programs to discuss the challenges and involve law enforcement officers to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence.

    “Am glad my clergy and religious and catechists who are working with me in this pastoral agency, we are trying to do what we can from the grassroots to my office to see that domestic violence is reduced to zero,” he said.

    The full interview to be available on CANAA Online radio soon…

  • Catholic Bishops Call for Peaceful Voting in Zambia

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 10 August 2016

    zambia bishops for peaceful voting 2016 aThe Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has made a last-minute plea urging Zambians to desist from violence as they go to the polls. In a statement released, in Lusaka ahead of voting Thursday, Lusaka’s Archbishop and President of ZCCB, Telesphore-George Mpundu, encouraged Zambians to turn out in numbers and vote for a President that they consider professionally competent on political, economic and social programmes.

    The election is seen as too tight to call between the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party led by President Edgar Lungu and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) led by Hakainde Hichilema. There has been an unprecedented climate of violence and intimidation between the two rival political parties which could affect voter turn-out.

    Zambian voters for the first time will each have a handful of ballot papers as they are asked to elect a president, vice president, members of parliament, councillors and give a yes or no vote to an amendment in a constitutional referendum.

    The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops is spearheading a monitoring coalition group that consists of various Christian denominations. Known as the Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG), the coalition comprises the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ); Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR). Almost all Christian denominations are represented in this group. JCTR is a Catholic Church-affiliated civil society organisation.

    zambia bishops for peaceful voting 2016The Zambian Catholic Bishops delegated Caritas Zambia to be the Secretariat for the CCMG. In a report to the media, Wednesday, the CCMG said it has deployed 1,674 trained and accredited monitors across the country.  CCMG  will also conduct a Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) for the 2016 election in every province, district, and constituency of the country.

    The African Union (AU) has chosen former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan to head the Election Observer Mission (EOM) to Zambia. Several other regional, European and international observer missions have already deployed in Zambia ahead of the general elections.

    In another development, the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) and the Nairobi-based African Media Initiative (AMI) have both criticised the Zambian Government for shutting down operations of a Zambian daily newspaper, the Post newspaper in June this year, at the height of election campaigns. In a new report released this week, IPI says its investigations show that the Zambian government’s action against the newspaper was a politically motivated attempt to silence a persistent critic.

    Find below the full statement from the Catholic Bishops of Zambia:


    1. My brothers and Sisters! Tomorrow, Zambia goes to the polls to elect civic leaders and decide on the referendum question.

    2. On behalf of the Zambia Conference of the Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) or ZEC, I wish to reiterate our ‘call to peaceful, credible and transparent elections’ as expressed in the recent Pastoral Statement: “No longer will violence be heard in your land” (Isaiah 60:18).

    3. The Bishops have always maintained that it is the duty of Catholics and people of goodwill to elect leaders. You also have a God-given responsibility to maintain peace before, during and after the polling day. Democracy requires in the first place that all citizens exercise their right to vote in a free and peaceful environment. Therefore, we your shepherds once more call upon all Zambians who registered as voters to turn up tomorrow and cast their votes. Never get tired of voting, as your apathy will only give greater chance to opportunists to carry the day.

    4. As you go to vote, remember to vote for a candidate who should have the following qualities: Professionally competent on political, economic and social programmes, courage to speak out the truth, concern for social justice, desire to work for the common good instead of self-enrichment, disposition to use power for service, especially service of the poor and under-privileged, openness to dialogue, honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability to the electorate (Cf. Building for Peace, # 11). Remember not to vote for candidates who are arrogant with a propensity to use violence, people without honesty and integrity, those with proven record of corruption and abuse of power and public resources and those who put narrow sectarian or ethnic interest before national interest and the common good.

    5. We further hope that all the organisations that will be monitoring the elections are adequately prepared for the task. As we stated in our earlier statement, “They should be equally independent and free from manipulation and give the public truthful information about the proceedings of the elections.”

    6. In addition, we call upon the media, both public and private, to adhere to the principle and ethics of fairness and truth, and to be “professional, ensuring full and fair coverage of all political parties” (Cf. Let there be Peace Among Us – A ZEC Pastoral Statement issued on 23rd January, 2016, #s 27 & 28).

    7. As the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) conducts the polls tomorrow, the bishops urge the honourable Commissioners and ECZ staff to remain resolute and professionally conduct their business in providing the necessary mechanisms in the electoral process that will guarantee free and fair elections. The ECZ officers must remember that “The Lord demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standards” (Prov. 16:11).

    8. Not only that, we hereby challenge the youths to be architects of a better Zambia by being agents of peace and reconciliation. We therefore appeal to you to “refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by unscrupulous politicians” (Let there be peace among us, # 26).

    9. In conclusion, we again extend our earnest appeal to all Zambians to realise that voting is one of their fundamental rights and duties. It is also a Christian duty. We thus pray that all citizens enter the August 11 general elections with a spirit of honesty, avoiding bribes and cheating. We also pray that all voters, political party leaders and their cadres may have at heart, the needed passion and commitment to build for peace and avoid all forms of violence. As St. Paul exhorts us, “Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody” (Romans 12:18).

    May God bless our nation!

    Most Rev. T-G Mpundu Archbishop of Lusaka


    Source: Vatican Radio… 

  • Kenya to Host Africa Conference on Families Next Month

    Capital News || By Ruth Nyambura || 11 August 2016

    toward african conference on families 2016The African Regional Conference on Families is expected to take place in Nairobi between September 22 and 24.

    President for African Organisation for Families Anne Kioko said they are concerned by the recent concerted push for legalization of abortion and implementation of controversial Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) as per the UNESCO agreement.

    “The congress will be a platform to celebrate the African family, deliberate on what is currently ailing the African families and look for a way forward,” she said.

    Kioko expressed fear that the children’s innocence is taken away by multiple UN agencies, federal and local governments and school administrations that are implementing, promoting and funding CSE programs that change sexual behaviour in children.

    “These programs go way beyond regular sex education and are designed to change all the sexual and gender norms of society. They openly promote promiscuity, high-risk sexual behaviour and sexual pleasure even to very young children,” she said.

    She revealed that pro-family organisations have also started an online petition to urge respective presidents to pull out from the agreements.

    The congress is being organised by Africa Organization and World Congress of Families in partnership with The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, The Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, Global Institute for Family Integrity (Cameroon) and Foundation for African Culture Heritage (Nigeria).

    Source: Capital News… 

  • African Seminarians among Beneficiaries of Campaign in Honor of Murdered French Priest

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 11 August 2016

    seminarians in africa to benefit acn fundSeminarians in select countries in Africa will be among the beneficiaries of a campaign, which the Catholic Charity organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is launching in honor of the murdered French Catholic priest, Father Jacques Hamel.

    A total of 1,000 seminarians from 21 countries around the world will benefit from the ACN collections in honor of Father Hamel who was murdered by ISIS sympathizers while celebrating Mass on July 26 in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France.

    The studies of future Catholic priests from Angola, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, DR Congo, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zambia will be funded from the collection of funds by the Italian chapter of the pontifical foundation ACN.

    “Support for the formation of new priests is a concrete response to fundamentalism, because especially in countries where the extremist threat is the greatest, the ministers of God must possess the appropriate tools to promote dialogue and contribute to a peaceful coexistence between all the religious groups, putting an end to the conflicts,” Director of ACN in Italy, Alessandro Monteduro has been quoted as telling Catholic News Agency.

    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in which two armed gunmen slit Father Hamel’s throat and critically injured one of the four other hostages the attackers had taken.

    “We chose the seminaries that had the greatest need for aid, to allow them to accommodate more students and form what we consider to be the new 'soldiers of the faith.'” Monteduro of ACN has also been quoted as explaining the justification for choosing Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

    Other countries whose seminarians will be supported include the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Romania, and India.

    ACN is “as an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy Father” with the mission “to help suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide.” 

  • Central African Republic after Pope Francis’ Visit

    Vatican Radio || Fr. Paul Samasumo || 08 August 2016

    car after pope visit“I think my country (Central African Republic), has seen it all. We have been through difficult and trying situations in the past but in the midst of it all, we had the great joy of welcoming the Holy Father, Pope Francis between the 29 and 30 of November last year. Since his visit, we have lived a life full of grace; a life of mercy showered upon us from heaven above,” Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga, speaking in French, recently told Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service in an interview.

    Asked to reflect on life in the Central African Republic (CAR) today, the Archbishop of Bangui credits recent successes to Pope Francis.

    “Right now in my country, everyone will tell you the same thing. Be they Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, everyone! They will say the same thing: Pope Francis brought a new breath of fresh air to our country and individual lives. Before he came, we were divided into our little camps, chained to our hatreds; isolated and busy meting out the most barbaric punishment against those we considered our enemies. From the moment Pope Francis set foot on CAR, right up to today, I really can tell you that there is a different atmosphere in our land. Yes, we still have many challenges, but those of us who live there know that things are now different and better. Nothing compares to where we were before. Now we can talk to each other in spite of our differences. People are now able to look each other in the eye and even shake hands. I see forgiveness and reconciliation every day. Relationships across communities have improved and continue to improve, ” Archbishop Nzapalainga outlined.

    And the future? Does he see a day when CAR will be united as one democratic country that can protect its citizens from armed gangs, militants and bandits?

    “You ask me about the future? We, the people of CAR are the ones to build the future of our beautiful country. We are a country that is blessed with many natural resources and minerals as the Holy Father, Pope Francis, himself reminded us when he visited. Before Pope Francis came, who would have thought, after what we had been through that a peaceful presidential election could take place in CAR? But we did it. We have done it,” the Archbishop of Bangui emphasised.

    Faustin-Archange Touadera, the new President of CAR, was peacefully elected in February, this year. Nevertheless, Touadera’s government faces enormous challenges. The new government is struggling to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate the many armed militants spread throughout CAR.

    Archbishop Nzapalainga admits that it will take a time to normalise things in CAR. But he is confident and upbeat about the future.

    “We still face so many challenges, but it can be done. After the peaceful presidential election, we all know now that everything is possible. It’s our responsibility to ensure that things work out the way we desire them to be. The coming of Pope Francis has allowed us to look towards the future with hope. That’s why for his first international trip, the newly elected president (Faustin-Archange Touadera) felt duty-bound to go to the Vatican to meet and personally thank Pope Francis for his visit to CAR,” Archbishop Nzapalainga said.

    Archbishop Nzapalainga wants his countrymen and women also to take a broader view of the challenges of CAR.

    “The Holy Father asked us to place the love for one another as a priority among ourselves. We cannot afford to fail in our peacebuilding effort. If God forbid, we do not manage to do this; we will not only be failing the people of CAR but the international community as well. Six neighbouring countries surround us. We have already seen that when CAR as a country collapses, the virus of destabilisation does not only affect us alone but spreads to the whole region. We should, therefore, be mindful of our larger responsibility as a people,” Archbishop Nzapalainga advised.

    In July, at the Kigali African Union Summit, in Rwanda, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and CAR were warmly re-admitted into the African Union after an absence of three years.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Archbishop in Uganda Cautions against “gospel of prosperity”

    Uganda’s Daily Monitor || By Joseph Omollo || 08 August 2016

    archbishop obbo cautions gospel of prosperityThe Archbishop of Tororo Archdiocese in Uganda, Emmanuel Obbo, has warned against the promotion of the gospel of prosperity in the Church, saying it derails Christians from understanding the Gospel.

    Archbishop Obbo said although the church is interested in having a congregation that is wealthier, the teaching on wealth creation should not be at the expense of God’s word.

    He was speaking during the ordination of three priests and eight deacons at Uganda Martyrs’ Cathedral Nyangole in Tororo District on Saturday, August 6.

    “You have been ordained to preach the gospel of God, not prosperity. Therefore, you should not be seen serving two masters at a go. Preach the word of God, truth and not your own words or speculations,” Archbishop Obbo said.

    He asked the newly ordained clergy to reflect on principles of true Christianity and to follow God’s will, adding that the position they have been elevated to is a gift from God.

    He said they would be held responsible for any misconduct.

    “We have often seen people who downplay priesthood and the church has not tolerated them, the offenders have been shown the exit,” the Archbishop said.

    He asked parents to encourage their children to join seminaries to address the existing shortage of priests, saying in Africa, one priest serves more than 12,000 faithful.

    Source: Daily Monitor...

  • Zambia and Malawi Urged to Promote Sports for Peace

    Vatican Radio || 08 August 2016

    zambia and malawi to promote sports for peaceJesuit priest Father Charles Searson, who is Zambia and Malawi Promoter of the Apostleship of Prayer has urged collaborators in the two countries to animate others into joining Pope Francis' call for Sports as a vehicle that builds world peace.

    In his message to collaborators, Fr. Searson says now that the Olympic Games have begun in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sports can play a significant role in the promotion of peace.

    “Sports can bring out the very best in men and women, youth and children. Healthy competition leads to a sense of personal well-being and happiness.” He asks, “Where do we stand regarding regular exercise appropriate for each one's age and health?” He then adds that it is interesting how the worlds of faith and medicine agree on this point.

    “For a long and happy life, we are advised: Never retire, do physical exercise appropriate for your age and eat a healthy diet. From a more social angle, Pope Francis invites us to pray that Sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounter between different nations and may contribute to peace in the world,” Fr. Searson said.

    The Promoter of the Apostleship of Prayer then referred his associates to a video released by Pope Francis ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The video celebrates sports for building world peace.

    Here is what the Pope says:

    "Sports make it possible to build a culture of encounter among everyone,  for a world of peace. I dream of Sports as the practice of human dignity, turned into a vehicle of fraternity,” the Pope says in the video.

    The Pope adds, “Do we exercise together this prayer intention? That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between people and may contribute to peace in the world.” See video: http://thepopevideo.org/en.html.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • South Sudanese Bishop Calls for Government and International Community Collaboration

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 August 2016

    bishop erkolano for collaboration with partnersBishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe of the Catholic diocese of Yei in South Sudan has called on the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) to reach out to the bodies representing the international community in resolving the nation’s challenges.

    Addressing the faithful during holy mass at Christ the King Cathedral in Yei on Sunday, Bishop Tombe encouraged South Sudan political leadership to collaborate with bodies such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) in addressing the country’s protracted conflict.

    According to a report by Easter Radio of the Catholic Radio Network (CRN), Bishop Tombe cautioned the international partners against the tendency to “force peace” but instead help “the nation in resolving the crisis” and giving “citizens hope for peace and safety.”

    The Bishop’s appeal comes after reports from IGAD indicate that South Sudan leadership has finally accepted the deployment of a regional intervention force.

    The Friday, August 5 report does not give the specific scope and mandate of the force to be deployed.

    However, the regional force is expected to help implement the August 2015 peace deal, which fell apart in early July when forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to his then Vice President Riek Machar engaged each other in heavy fighting, which left hundreds dead and tens of thousands of civilians displaced.

    Earlier, President Kiir had rejected the AU resolution during the 27th Summit in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, to deploy regional troops to his country.

    “No. We will not accept even a single soldier," President Kiir had been quoted as saying.

    South Sudan already has a 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force.

  • There Are Many Obstacles to Eye Care in Ethiopia, Where Blindness is Prevalent

    Global Sisters Report || By Joyce Meyer || 04 August 2016

    eye care in ethiopiaBy 6:30 in the morning, the doors of St. Louise Eye Clinic in Mekelle, Tigray region of Ethiopia are wide open for service. People of all ages are lined up waiting their turn for examinations or procedures at this clinic run by the Daughters of Charity. Sister Hiwot, director of the clinic, has organized the program of Dr. Vito Mariella, a Spanish eye surgeon and Dr. Berrhan Mekonnen, an Ethiopian cataract surgeon on staff for their long day's work. Dr. Mariella is a volunteer from Proyecto Vision, a Spanish organization that rotates eight teams of ophthalmologists every four weeks to the clinic. It is such a popular place for the volunteers that one of them has come 22 times to work with the sisters.

    Proyetcto Vision has partnered with St. Louise Eye Clinic for many years, and as Sister Hiwot toured me around the facilities she pointed out the operating rooms and a sterilization center they have provided. Along with doctors and equipment, the organization sometimes sponsors children with special problems for treatment in Spain so that appropriate follow up can be monitored. Along with doing surgery procedures, the volunteer doctors also train local staff in best practices of assisting and also in using the equipment.

    Proyecto Vision also partnered with nearby Quiha Public Hospital by building a residence for 10 students to enroll in an Ophthalmologic Medical Assistant degree program. After graduation and two years of experience, the students can join a master's course in cataract surgery. There are three other such schools in the country, but it is very difficult to get placement as the sisters have found. So, graduates are not numerous.

    According to Gondar Ethiopia Eye Surgery (GEES), Ethiopia trains four to seven surgeons a year, but they are often recruited from outside the country. There are more Ethiopian eye surgeons in Washington, D.C., than in Ethiopia. This leaves the population extremely underserved, sometimes only one or two surgeons for 4 million people.

    The leading cause of blindness in Ethiopia is cataracts, and 80 percent of St. Louise Clinic patients come for this surgery, a life-changing procedure. Shake Mushah, 60,found this to be true. He lives in Raya Azebo, about 50 miles away from St. Louise Clinic. He noticed that his sight was deteriorating in both his eyes and at his age, he found the change frightening.

    He said, "Back at home, I shared my problem and my worries of becoming blind with my brother, and my brother told me that there is a clinic in Mekelle by the name 'Adi Haki' (sisters' clinic). It provides very good treatment: 'Go there and you will be cured and will be able to see clearly again.' He warned me not to go anywhere else."

    While he was waiting to go, a cataract surgeon and staff from St. Louise made one of their outreach visits to Raya Azeb, and Shake Mushah was screened. He had cataracts on both his eyes and was literally going blind. The doctor set up an appointment for him at St. Louise clinic where he later had surgery. It was like a miracle for him to have his sight back. He returned to the clinic sometime later and contributed 20 Birr to help others to have the same advantage.

    "I was living in the dark and it was frightening," he said. "Now I can see the light, thanks to you all in this clinic and all those who help you. You are all light for the world."

    On my visit I was privileged and surprised to be invited to watch a local surgeon perform a cataract procedure which delighted me, having gone through it myself a year ago.

    Eye care is a major health issue throughout developing countries where 90 percent blindness is reported. Ethiopia has the reputation of having the highest rate of blindness and impaired vision, and unfortunately, 80 percent of it is believed to be preventable or curable. According to GEES, 1.6 percent of the population is blind — 250,000 people.

    The majority of eye disease is found in rural areas where climate, poor ventilation, overcrowding and close proximity to livestock are contributing factors. Women are most affected either due to their work in smoky, wood-burning kitchens or because they have less access to eye care than men, due to their place in society. Illiteracy prevents ability to read instructional materials and slows down education about eye care. Lack of adequate clean water and sanitation also contribute to diseases as does lack of income, a situation exacerbated when the blind person in the family cannot work. Caring for dependent family members can also keep people from full-time employment, again making access to care almost economically impossible. The expense of travel to larger cities where the majority of doctors work can also prevent needed care.

    Incidence of trachoma is the second highest eye disease in Ethiopia and is particularly prevalent among children ages 1-9 years. Trachoma is an infection caused by flies moving from one person to another, and children are most vulnerable. A second cause is lack of clean water for face washing. Education about these causes is the preventive measure the sisters use to eliminate the disease. They engage in both outreach programs in rural villages and in local schools. This last year over 8,000 students received screening and eye care. Screenings and teaching the importance of Vitamin A nutrition, face washing and environmental sanitation are the focus of the education. Besides offering education for prevention, the sisters also have schools for children who have become blind.

    St. Louise Clinic is part of the National Program Vision 20/20, launched in 2002, a program to develop sustainable and comprehensive eye health care systems throughout the country. It is not an easy goal for the sisters. Sister Hiwot showed me the pharmacy where a few medicines were stacked on shelves, but many more are needed. Some are donated, but tariffs are very expensive; others bought into the country are also expensive. She then showed me her small collection of eye glasses lamenting how difficult it is to get these as well. Most have to be imported because there is no industry in Ethiopia that manufactures eyewear.

    I was curious to know how the sisters became so deeply involved in eye care because it seemed such a specialized service. The clinic in Mekelle was founded by the Swiss Mission from Geneva to address the serious trachoma issue in Ethiopia. In 1984, however, the mission found it necessary to leave Ethiopia and asked the Daughters of Charity to take on the eye clinic. In 1986 the sisters were able to establish a partnership with Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM) founded in Germany in1906 to help support this new work. CBM currently provides medicines, supplies, equipment and some financial resources. It also sent a doctor for one year in 1993 because of the scarcity of ophthalmologists. Unfortunately, the scarcity remains and in addition, it is becoming more difficult to obtain licenses for expatriate professionals.

    I asked her about the possibility of all sisters' eye clinics in the country organizing themselves in order to have greater voice in procuring the medicines and equipment needed. She told me that at the moment there is not much interaction or sharing among the sisters' congregations. She mentioned three hospitals and one health center managed by different sisters' congregations and one hospital managed by a brother. They have eye care units, but only the Daughters of Charity have two specialized eye institutions in Ethiopia. She has also tried to collaborate with other groups in the country that are engaged in eye care, but has been unsuccessful.

    So, what is the future sustainability of this service in this region of Ethiopia, a question on all donors' minds? Sister Hiwot identified some of them, with quality service as number one. She also realizes that local donors need to be tapped because international sources are decreasing and collaboration with other groups to address the issues of blindness and limited vision together is imperative. The government also needs to recognize the services of the sisters and assist rather than add obstacles to providing these needed services for the Ethiopian people.

    [Joyce Meyer, PBVM, is international liaison to women religious outside of the United States for Global Sisters Report.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report…


  • How the Church Can Help Bring Peace to Africa

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 03 August 2016

    how church can bring peace to africaGrassroots movements, local communities, and faith-based organizations – especially the Catholic Church – have an important role to play in building peace and preventing conflict in Africa, said a Holy See representative.

    Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations, spoke July 28 to an open session of the U.N. Security Council on peace building in Africa.

    Faith-based and grassroots groups have “concrete knowledge of local realities” and immediate interactions with locals, the archbishop said.

    “They empower individuals and societies at a local level, identify and nurture new leaders, and rally communities to work together for the greater human good. They get results that local individuals and communities can easily relate to and identify with.”

    Archbishop Auza said the Catholic Church's direct contributions to peace building and conflict prevention come through its “capillary presence” in its tens of thousands of institutions: its hospitals, schools, and other places of formation.

    Catholic humanitarian and charitable agencies help provide emergency assistance, foster village dialogues, and help build small businesses’ capacities.

    “The Holy See oversees this vast network of quick-impact, medium-term and long-term programs to foster the best possible levels of education and health care, and to assure continuing efforts to prevent conflict and to build peace through dialogue and integral human development,” the nuncio said.

    Archbishop Auza said the Holy See sees that sustainable peace needs people who come together in concrete dialogue to give a fair hearing and to agree upon solutions.

    Formal diplomatic efforts must be accompanied by “informal diplomacies” like dialogue among tribes and collaboration among religions, he added. Some countries in Africa have sustained peace due to their success in combining formal diplomacy with its informal counterparts.

    Conflict prevention and peace require perseverance, long-term vision and commitment carried out through thousands of daily actions, the nuncio advised. Leaders and citizens must transcend selfish interests for the common good, reject a spirit of vengeance and take the path of healing and reconciliation.

    Archbishop Auza called for more work in disarmament and in countering the arms trade in both its legal and illegal aspects.

    “The proliferation of weapons simply aggravates situations of conflict and results in a huge human and material cost, which profoundly undermines the search for peace,” he said.

    Only the promotion of human rights and mutual solidarity can make peace building effective, the archbishop continued.

    He cited Pope Francis’ words to a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: “No amount of ‘peace-building’ will be able to last, nor will harmony and happiness be attained, in a society that ignores, pushes to the margins, or excludes a part of itself; it loses something essential. We must never, never allow the throwaway culture to enter our hearts! No one is disposable!”

    In Archbishop Auza’s view, the different results of peace building efforts in Africa suggests there is not a single successful model.

    “Some countries have gained peace and stability and achieved sustained growth, while others continue to wallow in the mire of extreme poverty and unstable if not nonexistent institutions,” he said.

    The archbishop noted some important tactics in building peace: the fast-impact provision of food security and basic health care immediately after a conflict; medium-term initiatives like investment in job creation; and long-term programs like institution building.

    Source: Catholic News Agency...


  • Egypt’s Coptic Pope Warns of Increased Attacks on Christians

    Crux Associated Press || 02 August 2016

    coptic pope in egypt warns of attacksThe leader of Egypt’s Coptic Christian church warned on July 25 of increased attacks on Christians, saying national unity is being “defaced.”

    In a meeting with lawmakers, Pope Tawadros II said that since 2013 there have been 37 sectarian attacks on Christians - nearly an incident a month. He describes the situation as “very painful.”

    He told lawmakers that preserving national unity is “our responsibility in front of the world, future generations, history and in front of God.” His remarks were published on his personal website.

    The pope’s website also quoted lawmaker Saad el-Gammal as saying that parliament is currently drafting a new law to criminalize actions that undermine national unity, as well as a law that regulates the construction of churches, which is severely restricted.

    Christians make up 10 percent of Egypt’s population and say they face discrimination by the country’s Muslim majority.

    Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic Christians strongly supported Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s ouster of his Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group.

    Following Morsi’s toppling, many Islamists claimed that Christians had conspired with the military against them. Attacks on Christian homes, businesses, and churches subsequently surged in the south.

    A string of attacks have hit the southern province of Minya in recent weeks. The province is home to a large Christian community, making up around 35 percent of the province’s population, the largest among Egypt’s 27 provinces. It is also home to a substantial concentration of extremist Islamic groups.

    Last week, a Muslim mob stabbed a Christian to death over a personal feud. Days earlier, in two separate incidents, mobs attacked and torched houses of Christians over a rumor that they intended to convert buildings into churches. In May, a Muslim mob stripped an elderly Christian woman and paraded her on the street following a rumor that her son had an affair with a Muslim woman.

    Speaking during a military graduation ceremony, Egypt’s el-Sissi vowed to hold wrongdoers accountable. However, security forces have routinely released assailants within days after “reconciliatory” sessions between church officials and village elders.

    Rights groups such as the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights have expressed concern over the “increasing frequency of sectarian violence in Minya” which it described as the main stage for assaults on Christians.

    The group documented 77 incidents of sectarian violence and tension in Minya alone since January 25, 2011, including ten incidents since January 2016. Sectarian violence has also been reported in other Egyptian provinces.

    Source: Crux…


  • Malawi’s Catholic MPs Donate Assorted Food Items to Orphanage

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson || 03 August 2016

    malawi mps donate food to orphanageCatholic Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday this week donated assorted food items to Mother Teresa Children’s Houses, a Kawale base orphanage centre in Lilongwe being run by the Missionaries of Charity Sisters of the Catholic Church.

    Speaking on behalf of the MPs, Leader of the Catholic Community in the Malawi National Assembly, Hon. Francis Kasaila said as Catholics they thought it wise to join the rest of the Catholic faithful this year of Mercy by doing charitable works.

    “You know this is the Year of Mercy as it has been declared by our Pope-Pope Francis and as Catholic Community at Parliament we thought that we do something in order to support those that need our support,” said Kasaila who is also Leader of the National Assembly and Parliamentarian for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Nsanje Central Constituency.

    He said after thorough consultation with their Patron Priest, they decided of doing something in supporting the Missionaries of Charity Sisters who are taking care of the orphans.

    “This is just a small donation of course otherwise we know that these sisters need a lot of support from well wishers and people of goodwill. They really need quite a lot in order to care for these children,” he said.

    According to Kasaila, they are Catholics first and politics comes second, therefore it is their duty to demonstrate true Catholicism by doing charitable works especially this year when Catholics all over the world are observing the Year of Mercy.

    Juliana Lunguzi, a Member of Parliament for Dedza East of opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who took her time off to sing Catholic songs with the children at the centre said it is their duty as parliamentarians despite their political differences to come together and join hands in supporting the needy including orphans.

    She said they will continue making such donations hence appealed for people of goodwill to pray for them so that they deliver well in their respective constituencies and at the same time be able to fear God in whatever they do.

    Speaking on behalf of the Community, sister Mira commended the parliamentarians for their generosity and kind gesture by donating to the orphanage.

    “As a community we would like to thank our Catholic Members of Parliament for the love they have shown to these children. As you know, life is a gift from God, so too these children are a gift from God and who knows, these will be our future leaders,” she said.

    Sister Mira however bemoaned the tendency of abandoning children that most women do especially when they have delivered and they don’t want that child hence condemned the tendency of abortion amongst women.

    “Imagine, in this children’s centre we have 52 children whom most of them are abandoned children, some lost their mothers and some lost both parents. We would want to discourage the tendency of aborting innocent children as well, therefore, let those that feel wouldn’t manage to take care for their children, bring them to this centre rather than aborting or abandoning the innocent souls,” said sister Mira.

    Taking his turn, Fr. Henry Chinkanda, Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Officer of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi challenged Catholic Parliamentarians to love one another despite their political differences.

    He said as Catholics, they need to demonstrate some sense of love and care in which other parliamentarians will emulate from them.

    The parliamentarians donated 10 bags of maize,3 bags of beans, cooking oil and milk, totaling the amount of 300,000 Malawi Kwacha and they have also donated 200,000 towards the conference of World Union Catholic Women’s Organisations (WUCWO) scheduled from 29th August to 5th September this year.

    The Missionaries of Charity is a Roman Catholic Religious Congregation founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which now includes over 4,500 sisters in more than 130 countries.

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi…


  • Bishop in Zambia Advocates for Free Public Service Media

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 01 August, 2016

    zambia bishop for free public service mediaIn a stinging analysis, Zambia’s Diocese of Mongu Bishop, Evans Chinyemba has decried Zambia’s deteriorating media freedoms and said that the country would in two weeks’ time (11 August) conduct general elections under the climate of public service media that only speak for the party in power. He has since urged the Zambian government to stop abusing the public service media sector for its ends.

    “Zambia votes aware of how we, Zambians have allowed the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC); the Times of Zambia and the Zambia Daily Mail newspapers; the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) and the National Agricultural Information Services (NAIS) to destroy public service media ethics and allow them to only speak for the party in power,” Bishop Chinyemba said. He made the remarks in the latest Mongu Diocese bulletin, Drumbeat, addressed to parishioners.

    Bishop Chinyemba says in its current form and for lack of a better term, Zambia’s public service media had become ‘enemies of information’ especially during the months of electoral campaigns in the nation. 

    “The way the public service media has behaved seems to have left the Electoral Commission of Zambia powerless knowing that the hand of government is in both institutions.” The Bishop said. He added that after the 11 August general elections, the country would urgently need to revisit and revise the Electoral Code of Conduct in as far as it relates to public service media.

    Bishop Chinyemba further criticised the closure of the privately-owned, Post newspaper by the Zambian government on 21 June, this year. The Post newspaper fiercely independent and widely seen as anti-government was accused of tax evasion. 

    The Mongu Diocese Ordinary insists that the country has more to gain when public service media are allowed, by politicians, to operate without interference so that they can become trusted sources of information and vital cultural institutions that reach the whole population without bias. 

    Referring to Zambia’s violence-ridden electoral campaigns of 2016, in which some deaths and many injuries have been recorded, Bishop Chinyemba called for peaceful voting. 

    “We know where we have been and as a nation, we refuse to live in fear. The call is for all Zambians is to arm yourselves not with a party Panga, but with your National Registration Card (NRC) and voter’s Card. Vote as if this was your last vote; and you wish to leave a good future for generations that are coming after you,” the Bishop encouraged parishioners. 

    Zambia has seen unprecedented levels of political violence between rival political party cadres which have resulted in injury, loss of life and property. In its statement of 11 July, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) said it was gravely perturbed by the continued degeneration of law and order in Zambia being exhibited in the run-up to the general elections.

    Source: Vatican Radio...

  • Bishops’ Conferences in Africa Encouraged to Develop Family Catechesis

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 01 August 2016

    conferences to develop family catechesisDeveloping “a directory on catechesis of the family” was among the 20-point recommendations at the recently concluded Plenary Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Africa.

    Having met to reflect on the family in Africa, the dozens of Church leaders who represented the various national and regional conferences of Bishops in Africa discussed challenges facing the family on the continent and recommended pastoral solutions.

    In view of addressing “effectively the major challenges confronting the family,” the bishops stated, “we need to elaborate new pastoral perspectives or approaches; we ask the Episcopal Conferences to develop a directory of family catechesis, essentially biblical catechesis, which will be assessed every three years.”

    The challenges the family in Africa faces, which the Bishops highlighted their final message include: the precarious conditions and poverty, social exclusion, impact of the new Information and communication technologies on family life, gender ideology, monoparental family, divorce-remarried couples, contraception, sterilization, abortion, polygamy, dowry, widowhood rites, migration consequences of war and conflict situations, internal family crises, belief in witchcraft and absence, at times of one of the couples due to studies and work.

    The Bishops also encourage governments in Africa to “invest heavily in the promotion of the family.”

    “We appeal to them to implement social policies that respect African Cultural values, justice, fundamental human rights of persons and families,” the Bishops stated in reference to governments on the continent.

    The Bishops reelected Archbishop Gabriel Mbilingi of Lubango, Angola, as President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) for a second term and confirmed Archbishop Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, as Treasurer.

    Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan of Mouila, Gabon, took the place of Bishop Louis Portella-Mbuyu of Kinkala, Congo Brazzaville, as SECAM first Vice President since the latter declined re-election.

    Bishop Anton Sithembele Sipuka of Umtata, South Africa, replaced Archbishop Gabriel J. Anokye of Kumasi, Ghana, who wants to concentrate on his office as President of CARITAS Africa.

    The weeklong meeting of the bishops from July 18 to 25 had the theme: the family in Africa: yesterday, today, and tomorrow – in the light of the Gospel.

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ message and recommendations.




    1. We, Catholic Bishops of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), having met in Luanda (Angola), from the 18th to 25th of July 2016, for our 17th Plenary Assembly, and having reflected on the theme: “The African Family, Yesterday, Today andin the light of the Gospel”, give thanks to God our Father, through Jesus Christ, the Lord in the Holy Spirit for his ever continuous blessings for the people in our dear continent. Having come to the end of our meeting, we would like to address this message of hope and solidarity concerning the future of our families and communities, to the Church-Family of God in Africa and Madagascar as well as to all men and women of good will.

    2. We are grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Francis for the two Synods on the family, for his pastoral visit to Kenya, Uganda and Central Africa, and for his fatherly solicitude towards African families. We express our fraternal and sincere gratitude to the Church-Family of God in Angola and to the Government and the people of this beautiful country; land of great hospitality and of a long Christian tradition, for their warm reception and generosity in making this Plenary Assembly a success. We are very much touched by their spirit of sympathy and the importance they attached to this event. They did all it takes, from the point of view of logistics, material and spiritual to ensure a successful Assembly.

    3. The memories of the visit of Holy Father Benedict XVI, in March 2009, for the Commemoration of 500 Years of Evangelisation of Angola remain vivid in the minds of our people. The holding of this 17th Plenary Assembly in Luanda is an expression of our profound communion with the people of Angola. We extend our greetings to all the people of Africa and we pray for them, especially those who are going through difficult moments, particularly Sudan, Somalia, Lesotho, Burundi, Nigeria, Mali, Cameroon, Central Africa, Chad, Egypt and Libya. We equally remember the sufferings of refugees, particularly women and children who are most often the principal victims of this phenomenon. We urge factions engage in conflicts to work for peace through inclusive and constructive dialogue.

    4. We are grateful to all delegates from Episcopal Conferences of Sister Churches of Asia and Europe as well as to the representatives of various Catholic organizations for their presence here among us, which is a clear sign of their solidarity with and generosity towards the achievement of our mission.

    Importance and beauty of family and marriage

    5. In line with the two Synods of the universal Church on Family and the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia, we wished to pursue our reflection on some concrete pastoral issues concerning the family in response to the Synod expectations as entrusted to us by the Synod Fathers and the Pope. We reiterate the importance of the Family which constitutes the Domestic Church and the basic foundation upon which every society is built. As Pope Francis said, « the health of any society depends on the health of its» (Homily at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, 26th November 2015). Indeed, it is into the family that the human person is born, grows and accomplishes his/her destiny. It is in the family that he/she receives the first education and acquires the values of his/her integration and fulfilment both in the communities and the Church. The two Synods enjoin on us to protect and defend the family “in order to render to the society the services expected of the family, which is to raise men and women capable of building a social fabric of peace and harmony” (SECAM, The Future of the Family, our Mission, 74)

    6. Marriage and family are intimately linked together. We reaffirm the teaching of the Church, based on the Word of God: “Man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife; both become one body” (Gen 2: 24). Marriage binds a man and a woman together. The Lord proclaims this true nature of marriage, which in the mind of God, excludes divorce (Mat 19: 3-12). In Jesus Christ, marriage acquires its true meaning. Inseparable link of love between a man and a woman, marriage is open to life and procreation, as means of renewal of the society and the Church, therefore it cannot concern persons of the same sex.

    Pastoral Challenges

    7. Due to our love for the welfare of the family in Africa, here we are with some urgent challenges for consideration: the precarious conditions and poverty, social exclusion, impact of the new Information and communication technologies on family life, gender ideology, monoparental family, divorce-remarried couples, contraception, sterilization, abortion, polygamy, dowry, widowhood rites, migration consequences of war and conflict situations, internal family crises, belief in witchcraft and absence, at times of one of the couples due to studies and work.

    8. These different challenges destabilize the life of couples and families, especially when there is no strong pastoral strategy in place. As pastors, we cannot but be committed to renewal of and to reinvigoration of our pastoral approaches for the families. We are convinced and believe that the Family cannot be subdued by the crises and situations that confront it. Therefore, in the proclamation of the Gospel of Family, we are to be the witnesses of hope.

    The joy of loving

    9. We reaffirm, with Pope Francis, the beauty of marriage. It is not a burden, but a community of love, joy and enhancement of couples and the family: ¨The beauty of this mutual, gratuitous gift, the joy which comes from a life that is born and the loving care of all family members, from toddlers to seniors are just a few of the fruits which are the response to the family unique and irreplaceable” (Amoris Laetitia, 88). We repeat that the human person is fundamentally called to love. According to the teaching of the Pope, Saint John-Paul II, “God created man in his own image and likeness” (Gen 1: 26-27) and called him to existence by love and to love (Cf. John-Paul, Familiaris Consortio, 11). It is within the family and in a more privileged manner that the vocation and the mission of family are realized.

    10. We congratulate and encourage families that bear witness to the joy of loving and are faithful to their marriage. We share the pains of those who live in difficult situations and those who are profoundly wounded in love. We pray and encourage them not to be discouraged nor

    The Family, “sanctuary of life”

    11. In a holy family life, members share experience of certain aspects of peace: “Justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents loving concern for the members who are weaker (...), mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them” (John-Paul II, Africae Munus, 43).

    12. We invite all African families, the Domestic Church, to be a place of deeper human and spiritual development so as to become communities of life, prayer, love as well as agents of transformation for our societies. In this way, they can respond faithfully to their vocation to educate, reawaken and inculcate missionary consciousness among their members.

    13. We exhort all the Christian associations and pastoral organizations for the family to implicate themselves more in accompanying couples before, during and after the celebration of the marriage. We encourage them strongly to help promote Christian marriage and family values, especially for the youth.

    14. In the same vein, we urge all the member States of African Union to resist all pressures from governments and organizations who want to impose anti-family policies on Africa. We are grateful to governments who, in the name of moral values and our culture have dared to oppose such policies (cf. SECAM, The Future of the Family, our Mission, 146).

    15. We do appreciate the efforts of public authorities in our various States for the promotion of the family. We solicit governments to promote policies that respect African cultural values, justice, fundamental rights of persons and families, including good management of the common good and to improve the life conditions of our people, especially the less favourable. We expect the governments to “pass laws and create employments to ensure the future of young people and help them realize their plan of forming a family” (Cf. SECAM, The Future of the Family, our Mission, 14).


    16. The Future of the Family is at the heart of our Mission. The Family is and remains the sanctuary of life, of growth and enhancement of the human person. The family is a gift of the merciful love of God. It guarantees the future of our societies. We are to protect and defend it against all that could destroy its integrity.

    17. African Christian families do not be afraid of making Christ the centre of your lives! Have confidence in him! Peoples of Africa, our mission to the family is a noble one! Let us commit ourselves to the cause of the family! Long live the family!

    18. Holy family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sustain the commitment of families! May they overcome selfishness, division and violence! May they be communities of reconciliation, justice and peace! May they radiate the joy of loving!


    Given at Luanda, 24th July, 2016,

    For the Plenary Assembly of SECAM,

    + Gabriel MBILINGI, Archbishop of Lubango,

    President of SECAM.


    Having strong hope in the future of families a hope based on the Lord's love, we make the following recommendations:

    1. Restructuring the pastoral care of the family. In the various Episcopal conferences, there exist various types pastoral approaches in favor of family. We ask to harmonize and restructure them by providing human and material resources needed for a better accomplishment of their mission. To achieve this, it is necessary to create and support the function of family committees within SECAM as well as in different National and Regional Episcopal Conferences.

    2. Ensuring better marriage preparation. Such preparation should be done in several phases: remote preparation in the family, youth movements, in the university chaplaincies; Immediate preparation in view of engagement. It must be ensured jointly by a team of family members, priests and the laity who are involved in the pastoral care of the family. We ask priests to seriously pay particular attention to the preparation of marriage

    3. Accompanying couples. The celebration of marriage is not only the summit of the process but equally a vocation of accompanying couples in the Church. Hence the importance of structures that valorize sharing and mutual support among married couples as well as enhancing the pastoral role of witnesses to the marriage. It is important to pay particular attention to young couples particularly those in mixte marriages, disparity of cult and in difficult situations.

    4. Educating to love. Given the contemporary context marked by selfishness, utilitarianism and hedonism, special emphasis should be on love, agape, that is self-giving and gratuitous love, characterized by sacrifice, forgiveness and reconciliation. We need to intensify our support for parents in inculcating family values that build a strong and balanced personality in their children and other family members.

    5. Training of pastoral agents. Promoting pastoral structures to support couples requires training of pastoral agents. We propose that where it does not yet exist, a course on marriage and family should be introduced into the seminary curriculum to equip future priests to better fulfill their vocation as the messengers of the Gospel of Family, in the Church Family of God. We exhort Regional Episcopal conferences to establish a formation centre for pastoral care of the family.

    6. Formation for families. Family life is not improvisation. Hence the importance of formation for families about human formation, which helps to know oneself and live a harmonious relationship with each other; socio-anthropological formation which also helps to understanding the cultural, social, political and economic environment; Christian formation, for the understanding of biblical, theological and moral sources of our life of faith. Parents often feel helpless as regards the mission of evangelization of families. We ask pastoral agents to offer them the necessary assistance for the realization of true school, the family.

    7. Education of children. Parents are the first and principal educators of their children. The family is the first school of values which is indispensable to every society. This education requires the effective physical presence of both parents in the family. It involves affective and sexual education. We encourage parents to educate their children to know and respect their bodies.

    8. Making the Youth responsible. Young people will be educated to take care of themselves; to love a job well done; to develop fully their potentialities and be self-confident. In this way they will develop in them a true missionary consciousness which will enable them to become true witnesses to the Christian faith in the face of ideologies which threaten it.

    9. Promoting spiritual life in the family. The spiritual life in the family is based on the four pillars as proposed by the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2: 42-47): Assiduity in listening to God's word, read and meditated upon in the family and in communion with the Church; regular participation of all members in the Eucharist; prayer that brings together all family members, while maintaining the link with the parish; communion, service, sharing, exchange. We need to make families places where we share together joys and pains.

    10. Fighting against discrimination within families. Women, youth, children, the elderly, widows and orphans, persons with disabilities, are oftentimes victims of discrimination and even violence in both the family and society. The pastoral care of the family, with the support of the commission "Justice and Peace" must fight to eradicate such discriminations.

    11. Revisit the dowry. Originally conceived as a symbol, the dot today has lost its true meaning and is becoming an obstacle to the commitment of many young people. At times, it devalues the dignity of women as a commodity. We ask the Department of “Faith, Culture and Development” of SECAM, theologians, and academic institutions and Universities to help through research studies into the cultures and mentalities of our people to reinstate the initial symbolic value of dowry.

    12. Evangelization of the new ways of social communication. Today, none can ignore the new means of social communication, even if their impact is not always positive. The experts in this field should put the media at the service of pastoral and family cohesion, and to introduce children and young people to regulate their use.

    13. Resist the Influence of New Religious Movements. Some religious movements continue to wreak havoc in our churches and in our families, sowing divisions and disarray. The pastoral care of the family must ensure the protection of Catholic Christians through catechetical instructions a strong spiritual life and communion that resist the sirens of these movements.

    14. Disabuse our minds of belief in witchcraft. In a context of greater economic, social, health, political or emotional despair, belief in witchcraft that seems to destroy people and family cohesion. These beliefs and accusations are often based on ignorance, misinterpretation of African tradition and a fundamentalist reading of the Bible. Hence, the need for a strong human formation that takes into consideration the psychological biblical and spiritual dimensions of formation.

    15. Strengthen solidarity between families. With the economic hardships associated with some major social pandemics, families have become too vulnerable economically. These problems often affect the family cohesion. The pastoral care of the family must promote operational management of available resources, and encourage active solidarity among families. The entire Christian community must be encouraged to be more attentive to this situation.

    16. Reflecting on difficult matrimonial situation. A greater number of African families encounter series of challenges among which is the problem of polygamy. This challenge should invite the Church to accompany pastorally the polygamous men and to be witness of the divine mercy of God, while exhorting them to conversion. The pastoral agents should avoid all that could lead to the recognition of such marital union so as to keep intact the Christian ideal of monogamy.

    17. Supporting Pro-life and Pro-Family Organizations. Several Organizations and Associations are engaged in the promotion of life and families. It is necessary to support their activities and collaborate with them.

    18. A Call upon Governments. Governments invest heavily in the promotion of the family. We appeal to them to implement social policies that respect African Cultural values, justice, fundamental human rights of persons and families. We expect from them a proper management of the common good in favor of the development of families, particularly the most fragile.

    19. Denounce the ambiguity of the new world (Order) ethic

    About marriage and family, the new world order (or ethics) proposes some orientations which are contrary not only to the African traditions, but to the Word of God and the teaching of the Church. The Christian communities and families should therefore be very much attentive and must always be ready to defend the dignity of the family.

    20. Initiate a directory on catechesis of the family. In order to address effectively the major challenges confronting the family, we need to elaborate new pastoral perspectives or approaches; we ask the Episcopal Conferences to develop a directory of family catechesis, essentially biblical catechesis, which will be assessed every three years.

  • Bishop in Kenya Laments Moral Decay in Society

    Waumini Communications || By Rose Achiego, Nairobi || 28 July 2016

    kenyan bishop laments moral decay in societyThe Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homabay diocese has said injustices, corruption, violence, acts of terror and destruction of property and the current wave of arson and unrest in some Kenyan schools are problems fuelled by a lack of moral values.

    Bishop Anyolo was speaking at the closing ceremonies of a workshop for major seminary rectors and other seminary formators.

    The workshop took place at the Resurrection Garden in Nairobi.

    Bishop Anyolo called on formators to teach upcoming priests chastity, self-restraint, charity, diligence, forgiveness, kindness and humility so that they would, in turn, radiate the best of these virtues to the faithful who would be entrusted to them for pastoral care.

    Speaking at the same occasion, Rome-based Secretary General of the Pontifical Society of St. Peter the Apostle, Fr. Fernando Domingues called on the formators gathered to always give of their best to seminarians and to accept their calling with humility and generosity without retreating from their responsibilities.

    The workshop brought together about 70 participants among them rectors and formators from Kenya’s minor and major seminaries.

  • Church Leader in South Sudan Lauds Missionaries for Being There, Advocates for Hope

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 01 August 2016

    bishop hiiboro lauds missionaries for presenceBishop Eduardo Hiiboro of the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio, South Sudan, has lauded religious missionaries who have decided to remain among the suffering people of the world’s newest country and described their decision as “love in practice.”

    In a reflection he sent to CANAA on Sunday, July 31, titled “Not too late to love, forgive and rebuild whole, our South Sudan,” Bishop Hiiboro acknowledges with appreciation the gesture by “missionaries from several congregations.”

    The situation in South Sudan has been tense since July 6 when the country’s capital city, Juba, experienced, according to the Bishop, “heavy artillery bombardment and attacks by helicopter gunships for the first time in its history.”

    The violent conflict was reported to have been between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those affiliated to Vice President Riek Machar who has since fled the capital to some undisclosed location.

    “What is so consoling is the love in practice we continue to receive from many of our brothers and sisters around the world, by and large of those who have refused to leave South Sudan at this time. Our beloved missionaries from several congregations,” he states in his reflection dated July 27.

    “Please our word as South Sudanese is first and foremost; gratitude for the solidarity you have shown toward us in word, deed and presence among us,” Bishop Hiiboro who also heads the Inter-Faith Council for Peace Initiative (ICPI) in Greater Western Equatoria goes on to say in his reflection.

    He recalls his tearful experience in Juba in the wake of the latest conflict saying, “I went to the mortuary at Juba’s civil hospital, and wept to see the bodies of hundreds of government and opposition soldiers, which had been dumped in piles on the ground for relatives to claim their own (if they risked coming out at all).”

    Bishop Hiiboro advocates for hope among his compatriots explaining, “We need to remember that despite the country’s many complex political and ethnic divisions, those taking part in the fighting are a very small minority.”

    He recognizes the “pivotal role” the international community can play “in persuading President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar, to return to the negotiating table and implement the power-sharing agreement they signed last August.”

    He also acknowledges the role “of the Catholic Church and other members of the South Sudan Council of Churches, as well as the aid agencies, such as Cafod and Trocaire, Caritas, and other humanitarian agencies” in making many efforts to save lives and guarantee the country’s future.

    “I know this article I am writing is not enough,” Bishop Hiiboro notes and adds, “Words cannot stop weapons; statements will not contain hatred.  Yet commitment and conversion can change us, and together we can change our culture and communities.”

    He emphasizes the need for repentance saying, “More than any other times in South Sudan: This is a time for repentance. Repentance brings us back into the communion of love with everyone who suffers, the prisoners, the wounded, those afflicted with temporary or permanent handicaps, the children who cannot live their childhood and each one who mourns a dear one.”

    He concludes his reflection with a prayer: “My prayer is that, we will see here "a new land" and "a new human being", capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters. Amen may His will prevail!”

    Below is the full text of Bishop Hiiboro’s reflection on the situation of South Sudan

     Not too late to love, forgive and rebuild whole, our South Sudan

    July 27th 2016

    Dear my beloved Sisters and Brothers,

    "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3:15).

    As Christians we must remain steadfast in this time of trial, just as we have throughout the centuries before and now in South Sudan, through the long turns of struggles for survival in changing succession of states and governments. Be patient, steadfast and full of hope so that we in turn among ourselves might fill the heart of every one of our brothers or sisters who shares in this same trial with hope. Be active and, provided this conforms to love, participate in any sacrifice that ‘gentle cray out’ asks of you to overcome our present travail...

    My country, South Sudan, is only five years old, yet many people are questioning whether it should exist at all. I can understand why they might think so, when there is constant fighting resulting in huge loss of innocent lives and millions of people have been displaced, fled into neighbouring countries as refugees putting them at risk of starvation.

    I happened to be in the capital, Juba (between 06-13th July, 2016), when the latest violence broke out. For five days I was trapped as the city suffered heavy artillery bombardment and attacks by helicopter gunships for the first time in its history. I went to the mortuary at Juba’s civil hospital, and wept to see the bodies of hundreds of government and opposition soldiers, which had been dumped in piles on the ground for relatives to claim their own (if they risked coming out at all).

    It would be easy to despair of South Sudan, yet I tell my people that we must have hope. We need to remember that despite the country’s many complex political and ethnic divisions, those taking part in the fighting are a very small minority. This conflict has attracted little attention in Europe, Americas or Asia, which are dealing with their own crises, such as mass shootings and the Bastille Day lorry attack in Nice, France murder of a Catholic Priest, shootings everywhere in major cities in our one planet. But if South Sudan is ignored, the tide of refugees reaching Europe’s shores could be swelled.

    The international community must continue to play her pivotal role in persuading President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar, to return to the negotiating table and implement the power-sharing agreement they signed last August. With international support, and that of the Catholic Church and other members of the South Sudan Council of Churches, as well as the aid agencies, such as Cafod and Trocaire, Caritas, and other humanitarian agencies, which are helping people stay alive, we can make sure that our country has a future.

    South Sudan does not have to remain poor. It has agricultural potential, minerals and oil, but development has constantly been hampered by conflict. Oil production, the source of most of the country’s earnings, has fallen by more than half from the peak reached shortly before independence. Most people want nothing more than the chance to make a better life for themselves and their families, but for that to happen, we need to overcome the culture of violence that is tearing our society apart. Respect for human life is the starting point.

    On the roads to the independence of South Sudan, the Catholic Church has always been there, upholding the value of human dignity and peace.  Sometimes our message has been understood; at other times we have been dismissed, or pushed to the periphery. But the church cannot ignore the moral and human costs of so much violence in our midst, and is working in dioceses, parishes and schools to bring a change in people’s hearts.

    I know this article I am writing is not enough.  Words cannot stop weapons; statements will not contain hatred.  Yet commitment and conversion can change us, and together we can change our culture and communities.

    The best antidote to violence is hope. People with a stake in society do not destroy communities. Both individuals and institutions should be held accountable for how they attack or enhance the common good.

    We all face, today, a way that is blocked and a future that promises only woe. My word in this brief article is a word of hope, patience, steadfastness and new action for a better future. As Christians we are obliged by our faith in God to carry a message, and we have to continue to carry it despite the thorns, despite blood and daily difficulties. We place our hope in God, who will grant us relief in His own time. At the same time, we continue to act in concord with God and God’s will, building, resisting evil and bringing closer the day of justice and peace.

    More than any other times in South Sudan: This is a time for repentance. Repentance brings us back into the communion of love with everyone who suffers, the prisoners, the wounded, those afflicted with temporary or permanent handicaps, the children who cannot live their childhood and each one who mourns a dear one. The communion of love says to every believer in spirit and in truth: if my brother is a prisoner I am a prisoner; if his home is destroyed, my home is destroyed; when my brother or sister is killed, then I too am killed. We face the same challenges and share in all that has happened and will happen.

    Perhaps, as individuals or as Churches, we were silent when we should have raised our voices in faithful prayers or also to condemn the injustice and share in the suffering. This is a time of repentance for our silence, indifference, I do not care attitudes, lack of communion, either because we did not persevere in our ministry in this beloved South Sudan and abandoned it, or because we did not think and do enough to reach a new and integrated vision and remained divided, contradicting our witness and weakening our word. Repentance for our concern with our institutions, sometimes at the expense of our ministry, thus silencing the prophetic voice given by the Spirit to the Churches.

    What is so consoling is the love in practice we continue to receive from many of our brothers and sisters around the world, by and large of those who have refused to leave South Sudan at this time. Our beloved missionaries from several congregations. The magic catch word –SOLIDARITY with South Sudan – influenced all our friends who have refused to leave South Sudan, ‘thank you! I am thankful equally to those who have left the country but are fully in solidarity with us – be blessed by our Saviour Jesus Christ. Please our word as South Sudanese is first and foremost; gratitude for the solidarity you have shown toward us in word, deed and presence among us. It is a message of solidarity with those who have suffered because of their services, advocacy for law and justice. I recall here with anxious soul; Rev. Sr. Dr. Veronika Teresia Rackova, SSpS in Yei.

    Hope and faith in God. In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We ought to believe in God, good and just. We must surely believe that God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. My prayer is that, we will see here "a new land" and "a new human being", capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters. Amen may His will prevail!

    Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala is the head of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio and head of the Inter-Faith Council for Peace Initiative (ICPI) in Greater Western Equatoria.


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


African Continent


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