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  • SIGNIS Launches Digital Desk, Reorganizing Departments

    SIGNIS, Brussels || 29 November 2017

    signis launches digital deskIntending to strengthen its engagement with Catholic communicators and media professionals SIGNIS has reorganized the work of its departments (desks), incorporating one of the areas of greatest development and importance, digital communication.

    This new department is integrated into the existing five covering the main fields of communication: film, journalism, media education, radio, and television.

    The SIGNIS Executive Committee has restructured each desk’s leadership and established objectives for their terms, which began in 2017 and end in October 2020.

    Joseph Anucha (Thailand) is the first president of the department of digital communication. Magali Van Reeth (France) is the new chair of the cinema desk, Helen Osman (United States) of journalism, Carlos Ferraro (Argentina) of media education, Paul Samasumo (Zambia) of radio and Frank Frost (United States) will continue directing the SIGNIS television department.

    Each president is seeking team members from each SIGNIS region, with whom he will create an action plan to be presented to the Board of Directors at their meeting in April 2018, in Brussels.

    Among other recommendations, each desk is asked to highlight the work of SIGNIS members, and organize or collaborate in an annual international event.

  • Zimbabwe Bishops ‘forgive’ Ex-president Mugabe for ‘shortcomings’

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 28 November 2017

    zimbabwe bishops forgive mubage shortcomingsFor most of his 37 years in power, Robert Mugabe had been the target of severe criticism from the country’s Catholic bishops. But his removal from power by the military earlier this month has allowed the bishops to strike a more conciliatory tone.

    In a statement issued on Sunday, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it has forgiven Mugabe for his “transgressions” in office.

    “We thank the former president for the good work he did for Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle and as president for 37 years. We forgive him for any shortcomings during his long tenure of office. We wish the new incumbent every blessing and success,” the bishops said.

    The end of the Mugabe regime was swift and unexpected.

    The military acted after the president dismissed his vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, which led the country to think Mugabe was preparing the way for his unpopular wife, Grace, to succeed him in office.

    The move by the 93-year old leader was a step too far for the military: Mnangagwa had been a key ally in Mugabe’s administration and was a leader in the struggle against white-rule in the 1970s.

    Maj. Gen. S.B. Moyo denied the detention of Mugabe on the evening of Nov. 14 had been a coup, claiming instead the military was removing “criminals” who had surrounded the president.

    Despite this assertion, Mugabe was forced to resign, and Mnangagwa now sits in the presidential palace, at least until a general election scheduled for next year.

    The bishops have called on Mnangagwa to form an all-inclusive government, and to help the transition to a functional democracy.

    “Beyond this crisis, a sustainable normalization of Zimbabwe can only be achieved through a people-inclusive and participatory process in a democratic way. We encourage the governance of Zimbabwe in any transition that may be adopted to embrace all Zimbabweans in their diversity and their oneness. This is a Kairos moment where all Zimbabweans should have a voice in this transition,” the bishops’ statement read.

    They said only a national transition can heal the wounds left by Mugabe’s nearly four decades in office.

    Although the Catholic Church is a minority in the country - about 10 percent of the population - it has been one of the most respected independent voices in the struggle for human rights and the rule of law.

    Ironically, one of the most famous Zimbabwean Catholics is Mugabe himself, although this fact has not spared him from the bishops’ criticism.

    In 2007, for instance, the bishops called on the president to resign or face “open revolt” in their Easter message.

    “As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture,” the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said at the time.

    “Many people in Zimbabwe are angry, and their anger is now erupting into open revolt in one township after another,” they added.

    The bishops then called for a new “people-driven constitution that will guide a democratic leadership chosen in free and fair elections.”

    The recent developments in the Southern African country have again had the bishops calling for electoral reforms as the only way by which Zimbabwe can dig itself out of the economic morass it now finds itself.

    Mugabe has left a country with an unemployment rate approaching 90 percent, and over 72 percent of the population living in chronic poverty.

    Hyperinflation led to the collapse of the currency, which was abandoned in 2009. (Most people either use the U.S. dollar or South African rand.)

    A land redistribution policy which gave white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans - most of whom were political allies of the ruling ZANU-PF party with little experience in farming - led to the collapse of the nation’s agricultural sector, despite the fact Zimbabwe was once known as the breadbasket of Africa.

    Mnangagwa has already promised to fix Zimbabwe’s economy and “ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy.”

    He has also insisted the endemic corruption which has plagued the country for decades must end, adding acts of corruption must lead to “swift justice.”

    “The culture of government must change and change now,” Mnangagwa has said.

    A general election had previously been scheduled to happen before the end of September 2018.

    Mnangagwa said the election will take place as planned, and the bishops are pushing “for electoral reforms to restore confidence in the plebiscite.”

    “The realization of free and fair elections in 2018 will make the outcome more acceptable internally and externally,” read their statement.

    Despite the enthusiasm in the country since the ouster of Mugabe, there are concerns Mnangagwa is ill-suited to be the person guiding democratic reform in the country.

    The new president was Mugabe’s righthand man in orchestrating electoral fraud and eliminating political opponents.

    In the 1980s, he was suspected of being behind the campaign known as Gukurahundi - involving the massacre of 20,000 members of the minority Ndebele ethnic group in Matabeleland in order to destroy the power base of Mugabe’s main rival, Joshua Nkomo.

    Nkomo was an Ndebele, while Mugabe and Mnangagwa are Shona, the majority ethnic group.

    “Mnangagwa is one of the creators of that system of repression and control, which has enriched a small cabal at the top through a vast empire of corruption,” said Todd Moss, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs and currently senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

    “He may entice one or two opposition leaders to play a ceremonial role, but he is unlikely to cede any real influence,” he told The Herald, a Zimbabwean newspaper.

    Speaking to Radio Vatican, the Vatican’s representative to Zimbabwe, Polish Archbishop Marek Zalewski, said the country’s bishops are pushing for social justice, respect for religious freedom, and respect for human rights.

    “This is the basis on which we have to work. The people are very enthusiastic here, very patient, and they hope for the better future,” Zalewski said.

    “But the Church must teach them…must propose in which direction they have to go,” he said.

    Source: Crux…

  • Malawi Bishops Challenge Pro-abortion Lobby to a Referendum

    Vatican Radio || By Prince Henerson, Malawi || 30 November 2017

    malawi bishops for pro-abortion referendumThe Archbishop of Blantyre Archdiocese and Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Thomas Luke Msusa, has challenged those that are calling for pro-abortion legislation in Malawi to allow for a referendum.

    He said those that are for the pro-abortion bill should not generalise that the majority of Malawians support the abortion bill because as far as he was concerned Malawians are a God-fearing nation against the bill.

    Archbishop Msusa also categorically refuted claims that the Catholic Church in Malawi was ever represented on the Special Law Commission when the abortion bill was proposed.

    He said as Catholic Bishops in Malawi; they already issued a Pastoral Statement in 2013 where consistent with the teachings of the universal Church, they made their position very clear on abortion, homosexuality and population control.

    “We note in particular that there are some worrisome trends in our democratisation and emancipation that push for a worldview independent of and side-lining God, and making human beings dependent on their own intellect, determining for themselves what is right and what is wrong. We are saddened to read that religion should not regulate morals,” said Archbishop Msusa on Wednesday, this week, when he opened a two-day international Congress of Families, in Malawi’s capital of Lilongwe.

    According to Archbishop Msusa, the recent campaign calling for the termination of pregnancy or abortion law is contrary to the principle of human dignity and sanctity of life.

    “We believe that life begins at conception; sacredness and sanctity of human life; both the mother and unborn child have the right to life and that all instances of direct abortions are a violation of the rights of the unborn because it is a willful killing of innocent life,” the Archbishop said.

    He said the mission and mandate of the Church is to protect and defend life hence the position of the Catholic Church has not changed.

    On 6 December 2016, various religious groups in Malawi held street protests to oppose pro-abortion legislation. The country's existing law allows pregnant mothers whose lives are deemed to be in danger, to obtain an abortion.

    In May this year, the Malawi Government released and gazetted the Termination of Pregnancy Bill to the general public signaling its desire to proceed with enactment.

    The Termination of Pregnancy Bill needs parliamentary approval to become law.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Congolese Bishops Urge President Kabila to Announce Peaceful Transfer of Power

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) By Maggie Maslak 28 November 2017

    congolese bishops urge kabila to transfer powerCatholic bishops of the Democratic Republic of Congo have requested that President Joseph Kabila affirm that he will not claim a third term of presidency at the conclusion of his constitutionally-limited two terms in power.

    “We urge you to reassure the public opinion by a public statement that you will not be a candidate for your own succession,” read a statement from the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) on Monday.

    “We are convinced that this would contribute to easing political tensions,” the statement continued.

    President Kabila has been in power since 2001, when his father Laurent Kabila was assassinated. His two-term limit expired in December 2016, but he has refused to step down and did not allow elections for the next president.  A Dec. 31 agreement between Kabila’s government and opposition parties calls for elections to be held by the end of 2017

    The bishops conference, CENCO, aided in negotiating the so-called New Year’s Eve Agreement. However, observers say the terms of the deal have not been upheld, and Kabila has cited reasons to stall ongoing negotiations, and the election.

    “CENCO wishes to remind all political actors and the entire Congolese people that the New Year’s Eve Agreement is not dead,” said the bishops.

    “It is and remains the only consensual roadmap to emerge from this political crisis that has lasted too long,” they continued.

    On Tuesday, the UN urged the country to hold elections in December 2018 in order to peacefully maneuver the transition of power, and Congo’s elections authority says a vote will take place before then.

    “The members of the Security Council emphasized the critical importance of ensuring the elections are not postponed further,” read a statement from the UN Security Council.

    The UN also encouraged that the next elections be held “with the requisite conditions of transparency, credibility and inclusivity, and lead to a peaceful transfer of power.”

    Kabila’s refusal to stand down has escalated political violence within the country. The Congolese bishops noted their disappointment with the ongoing negotiations with Kabila, saying the country’s citizens are suffering the consequences of his intransigence.

    “The political imbroglio and the suffering of the population which results from it exceed the tolerable threshold. We are deeply disappointed to find ourselves in the same context of tension as at the end of 2016,” the bishops said.

    “The people will not tolerate this being repeated in 2018.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Attack at Peace Event in CAR Lead to Fears of Renewed Violence

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 21 November 2017

    attack at peace event in car 2017An attack against a peace concert in Bangui has escalated tensions in the Central African Republic, where a conflict with growing ethnic and religious undertones has caused the United Nations to pledge to increase its peacekeeping presence in the country.

    The attack took place against a coffee bar known as “Au Carrefour de la paix,” (translated The Junction of Peace Bar) on November 11, leaving four people dead and twenty others injured, according to Fides News Agency.

    The CAR singer Ozaguin was performing at the concert, when a grenade exploded.

    According to Interior Minister, Henri Wanzet Linguissara, two individuals on a motorbike approached revelers attending the concert on Saturday night and threw a grenade into the crowd.

    He confirmed that four people had died, and 20 others were wounded.

    The singer himself was not hurt, but three members of his band were wounded and taken to the Bangui community hospital.

    The cafe is located near the PK5 majority-Muslim district of Bangui, once a Muslim rebel bastion, and now home to several armed groups.

    The country’s Prime Minister, Simpli-Mathieu Sarandji has condemned the attack as a “criminal act.”

    “We still do not understand who committed this attack and why,” local Church sources told Fides.

    “The situation remains very tense. Neighborhoods in the PK5 area have been emptied again, as in the days of civil war, and those who remained have built barricades to protect their homes and shops,” said Fides, citing sources in the country.

    The grenade attack provoked reprisal attacks from Christian youths, who killed three Muslims on motorbikes, blaming them for the attacks.

    This attack caused the Christians in the surrounding neighborhoods to flee, fearing reprisals from Muslim militants.

    Fides reported that some young Christians who went to the KM5 to buy goods for their stores were stabbed and killed.

    Young Christians and Muslims had organized the concert in a reconciliation effort.

    A civil war that erupted in 2012 when President François Bozize was ousted by the largely Muslim Séléka rebel movement has caused tensions between the two communities. The Séléka rebels were later ousted from the capital by Christian militias, called Anti-balaka, which led to tit-for-tat killings between the movements.

    Relative calm has reigned in the capital recently, even if tensions continue to simmer. The last major period of violence in Bangui was in February, when the military carried out an operation in the PK5 neighborhood.

    But the recent attack demonstrates that durable peace is still far from being achieved in the country, with the religious dimension complicating the process.

    It’s not a religious conflict

    Church leaders in the CAR have traditionally cast the conflict as a fight over minerals, with nothing to do with religion.

    “What we have in the Central African Republic is not a religious war,” the Archbishop of Bangui, Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, told Crux on the sidelines of the 11th Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa in Yaoundé.

    “No Christian or Muslim leader leads any of these extremist groups,” he said. “If it were an inter-religious conflict, then you wouldn’t see Christian leaders sheltering Muslims fleeing conflict, and Muslim leaders sheltering Christians.”

    The cardinal called it “a political and economic war; people are fighting over land and mineral resources.”

    But the conflict is increasingly being drawn along religious lines, even if religious leaders aren’t part of it.

    Muslim communities in the southern region of the Central African Republic, for instance, have come under attacks from mostly Christian militias: The Catholic Bishop of Bangassou, Spaniard Juan José Aguirre Muñoz, has been sheltering the Muslims on the grounds of the cathedral.

    The religious and ethnic dimensions of the conflict are fueled by geography, as well as the changing political fortunes of different communities.

    The country is predominantly Christian, with 50 percent of the total population being Protestant and 30 percent Catholic. Only 15 percent is Muslim, the majority of whom live in the north of the country, which lies in Africa’s Sahel region. However, there is a significant Muslim population in the south, consisting mostly of merchants.

    Every president has been Christian, until the Séléka rebels installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim president in 2013.

    These dynamics morphed into the political realm. Since independence, politics had been dominated by Christians, but when in 2013, President François Bozize - a Christian - was overthrown in a coup led by members of the mostly Muslim Séléka rebels, the political landscape significantly shifted.

    Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Séléka rebels was then installed as the country’s first Muslim President.

    But Djotodia soon lost control over the rebels who brought him to power, and the Séléka militia committed untold atrocities: Murdering, maiming, and raping large numbers of people, especially those loyal to Bozizé.

    Former members of the army then joined the Anti-balakas, which until then had been community-based vigilante squads. With military training and leadership, the Anti-balakas retook the capital, Bangui, on December 5, 2013.

    They engaged in the same violent reprisals as the Séléka; first targeting communities suspected of being sympathetic to the Séléka, and then extending their murderous campaign to all Muslims.

    Since 2014, the United Nations has enforced a precarious peace with a 12,000-strong peacekeeping force.

    In 2015, Pope Francis made a trip to the country, and visited a mosque in Bangui in an effort to shore up the peace process.

    Although militia violence continues in the south of the country, the capital has been relatively peaceful.

    “The enemies of peace … have just set a trap,” Prime Minister Simplice Mathieu Sarandji said in a radio address after the grenade attack on the cafe. “I call upon the population not to slide back into violence.”

    On Nov. 15, the United Nations Security Council extended the mandate of the peacekeeping mission for another year, while at the same time increasing the mission’s troop level by 900 military personnel.

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres travelled to CAR in late October, and warned that political manipulation of religious divisions in the country “must be condemned and avoided at all costs.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Pope Prays for Peace, Victims of War in Congo and South Sudan

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 November 2017

    pope prays for peace in south sudan dr congo 2017With plans to visit South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year thwarted by ongoing conflict, Pope Francis on Thursday led a prayer vigil for peace in the two countries, asking for an end to war and comfort for victims of the violence.  

    “We want to sow seeds of peace in the lands of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in all lands devastated by war,” the Pope said Nov. 23.

    Pope Francis had planned to visit South Sudan this fall alongside Anglican Primate Archbishop Joseph Welby for an ecumenical trip aimed at promoting peace in the conflict-ridden country. However, due to safety concerns, the visit was postponed until the situation on the ground stabilizes.

    Though he was unable to go, Pope Francis said in his homily for the prayer vigil that “we know that prayer is more important, because it is more powerful: prayer works by the power of God, for whom nothing is impossible.”

    South Sudan has been in the middle of a brutal civil war for the past three-and-a-half years, which has divided the young country between those loyal to its President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former vice president Reik Machar. The conflict has also bred various divisions of militia and opposition groups.

    Since the beginning of the war, some 4 million citizens have left the violence-stricken country in hopes of finding peace, food and work. In August alone Uganda received the one-millionth South Sudanese refugee, highlighting the urgency of the crisis as the world's fastest growing refugee epidemic.

    For those who have not fled the nation, many internally displaced persons (IDPs) are seeking refuge in churches for protection from violence. Most IDPs are typically women, children and those who have lost their families in the war.  

    Many are too fearful to stay in their homes because they know they could be killed, tortured, raped or even forced to fight. And despite successful partnerships between the local Church, aid agencies and the government, refugees in many areas still need a proper supply of food.

    In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, political unrest first erupted in 2015 after a bill was proposed which would potentially delay the presidential and parliamentary elections. The bill was widely seen by the opposition as a power grab on the part of Kabila.

    Relations between the government and the opposition deteriorated further when a Kasai chief was killed last August, after calling on the central government to quit meddling in the territory, insisting it be controlled by the local leaders.

    Catholic bishops in the country had helped to negotiate an agreement, which hoped to prevent a renewed civil war by securing an election this year for the successor of President Kabila. However, in January of this year, the bishops said the agreement was expected to fail unless both parties were willing to compromise. In March, the bishops withdrew from mediation talks.

    With a history of bloody ethnic rivalries and clashes over resources, fears have developed that the violence in Kasai, a hub for political tension, will spread to the rest of the nation and even lead to the involvement of neighboring countries.

    In the past year alone, more than 3,300 people have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Kasai region. The death toll includes civilians caught in the crossfire of a brutal fight between the Congolese army and an opposing militia group.

    In his brief homily for the prayer vigil, Pope Francis noted how in the entrance hymn, the words “the risen Christ invites us, alleluia!” were sung in Swahili. As Christians, “we believe and know that peace is possible, because Jesus is risen,” he said.

    The prayer vigil consisted of five prayers each followed by a song and prayers of intercession, as well as the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi asking God to make him an instrument of peace.  

    The prayers consisted of petitions for conversion; to overcome indifference and divisions; for women who are victims of violence in war zones; for all those who cause war and for those who have responsibility at the local and international levels; for all innocent victims of war and violence and for all those committed to working for peace in South Sudan and the Congo.

    Quoting from St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Pope Francis said that Jesus Christ “is our peace,” and that on the cross, “he took upon himself all the evil of the world, including the sins that spawn and fuel wars: pride, greed, lust for power, lies.”

    “Jesus conquered all this by his resurrection,” he said, and, speaking directly to God, said, that “without you, Lord, our prayer would be in vain, and our hope for peace an illusion. But you are alive. You are at work for us and with us. You are our peace!”

    Francis then prayed that the Risen Christ would “break down the walls of hostility” that divide peoples throughout the world, particularly in South Sudan and the DCR.

    He asked that God would comfort women who have been victims of violence in war zones, and protect children who suffer from various conflicts “in which they have no part, but which rob them of their childhood and at times of life itself.”

    “How hypocritical it is to deny the mass murder of women and children,” he said, noting that “here war shows its most horrid face.”

    The Pope closed his prayer with a series of appeals, the first being that God would help “all the little ones and the poor of our world to continue to believe and trust that the kingdom of God is at hand, in our midst, and is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    He asked that God would support all those who work daily to combat evil with good through words and deeds of fraternity, respect, encounter and solidarity, and prayed that the Lord would strengthen government officials and leaders with a spirit that is “noble, upright, steadfast and courageous in seeking peace through dialogue and negotiation.”

    “May the Lord enable all of us to be peacemakers wherever we find ourselves, in our families, in school, at work, in the community, in every setting,” he said.

    Source: Catholic News Agency… 

  • Could Zimbabwe be on brink of a transformative ‘Catholic moment’?

    Crux ||by John L. Allen Jr. || 21 November 2017

    a transformative catholic moment in zimbabweLooking back over the 20th century, there clearly were certain moments when inspired Catholic leadership, either in Rome or in the trenches, and sometimes both, galvanized the Church in ways that triggered the transformation of entire societies.

    The role played by key Catholic statesmen in building a new order for Europe after World War II is one example, as is the pivotal contribution of St. Pope John Paul II and the Solidarity movement in Poland to the largely peaceful collapse of the Soviet empire.

    Latin America in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, when the liberation theology movement played a part in bringing down military governments and police states, along with the “People Power” movement in the Philippines in the 1980s that swept the Marco regime from power, offer further cases in point.

    Trying to figure out where such a transforming “Catholic moment” might erupt today, Zimbabwe doesn’t necessarily seem the most obvious candidate. Although 87 percent of the population is Christian, Catholics are a minority at just around ten percent, so the Church’s social influence is obviously different from places such as Poland where it’s an overwhelming majority.

    The complexities of Zimbabwe and the Robert Mugabe regime have defied the best efforts of a couple of generations now of diplomats and activists to help chart a new course, and there’s little reason in the abstract to believe that the Church might succeed where others have failed.

    Still, there are intriguing reasons to believe right now that a determined effort by Catholic leaders might actually make a difference.

    For one thing, a period of transition obviously seems to be at hand. Although the 93-year-old Mugabe declined to announce his resignation in a national address Sunday night, he’s now facing an impeachment push led by members of his own party, and meanwhile the military appears to have isolated him and taken effective control of the country.

    Of course, Mugabe’s been counted out several times before and always found a way to survive, but there’s a strong sense now that a “post-Mugabe” era is beginning to dawn.

    For another thing, Mugabe himself “speaks Catholic.” He was born near the Kutama Jesuit Mission located about 50 miles south of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe, and grew up in a practicing Catholic household. He attended schools run by the Marists and the Jesuits, including the country’s prestigious Kutama College.

    When he was fighting against the Ian Smith regime in what was then known as Rhodesia in the 1960s and 1970s, Mugabe apparently would carry a rosary in his pocket and would frequently pray the rosary when he moved around by car.

    According to Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest in Zimbabwe who’s been a close friend and adviser of Mugabe for decades, he still takes those Catholic beliefs seriously today.

    “I don’t think people knew how much he dedicated himself to the spiritual life which he still believes very fervently, very strongly today,” Mukonori told Zimbabwe’s national newspaper The Herald.

    “The number of attempts on his life, the number is incredible; during the war, after the war: Is it his own cleverness, is it the excellence of his State security apparatus?” Mukonori asked. “I am sure it is God who has saved his life.”

    Whatever one makes of Mugabe’s sincerity in light of his dubious track record, it does indicate that Mugabe is conversant with Catholic thought and argot, and has points of contact within the local Church who, at least theoretically, could serve as intermediaries. At the moment, Mukonori is leading a negotiating team between Mugabe and military officers in an effort to figure out what comes next.

    Finally, the bishops of Zimbabwe aren’t exactly shrinking violets, and have a history of outspokenness about the common good and the defects of Mugabe’s regime that suggest they may be poised to play a leadership role in whatever transition comes next.

    The legendary Archbishop Pius Ncube, who led the Archdiocese of Bulawayo from 1998 to 2007 and who’s 70 today, is probably the best-known example. He’s an outspoken critic of the regime, who in 2005 called for a peaceful uprising to drive Mugabe from power. In turn, Mugabe has called Ncube a “half-wit” and a “liar,” and one of Mugabe’s ministers at one stage referred to him as a “mad, inveterate liar,” who “fits into the scheme of the British and Americans, who are calling for regime change and are feeding him with these wild ideas.”

    In 2007, an adultery lawsuit was filed against Ncube by a woman who claimed they had an affair while she was estranged from her husband, and she was seeking the equivalent of about $150,000 in damages. Ncube denied the charges, and some suspected a government-orchestrated “honey trap” to diminish his political influence.

    Pope Benedict XVI accepted Ncube’s resignation in September 2007 in a bid to spare the Church in Zimbabwe further embarrassment and he’s largely remained out of the spotlight since, but his legacy is very much alive in the memories of many Zimbabwean Catholics.

    As a whole, the country’s bishops generally try to strike a stand that’s at once both balanced but also prophetic.

    In a Nov. 19 statement signed by conference president Bishop Michael Bhasera of Masvingo, vice president Archbishop Robert Ndlovu of Harare, and others, the bishops asked people to “refrain from all lawlessness or any mass action that might worsen” the political situation, but also insisted that any transition must happen through normal democratic processes and not down the barrel of a gun.

    If the Catholic leadership of Zimbabwe steps up, we may come to remember this as the moment when a long-troubled African nation joined the ranks of great Catholic examples of fostering social change. Whether that will actually happen is anybody’s guess, but the opportunity clearly is there.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Church Leaders in South Sudan Call on Citizens to Join Pope Francis in Prayer for Country’s Peace

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 23 November 2017

    bishop barani asks citizens to join pope in prayer 2017Catholic Church leaders in South Sudan have called on citizens of their country to join Pope Francis in praying for peace.

    Today Thursday, November 23, Pope Francis planned to preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.30pm Rome time.

    The event was organized by “Solidarity with South Sudan” in collaboration with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide.

    In a letter sent to CANAA, the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan, Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio calls on South Sudanese to join the global Church on Thursday, 23 November, 2017 to implore God for lasting peace and makes specific prayer intention.

    “Let us pray with our Holy Father for the grace to see every human being as a child of God, regardless of tribe, regional attributes, race, language or culture,” Bishop Barani requests and adds, “We have to pray together with Pope Francis indeed for the wisdom to receive the stories and experiences of those different from ourselves and to respond with respect.”

    Bishop Barani continues in suggesting prayer intentions saying, “With Pope Francis let us pray for our faith community, our dioceses, also that God may give us new Bishops into the 04 vacant diocese of Malakal, Torit, Rumbek, Wau, that we may celebrate and welcome the diverse faces of Christ in our worship, our ministries, and our leaders.”

    He also invited South Sudanese to use the opportunity to “pray for healing and justice for all those who have experienced violence and political, tribal and regional hatred.”

    “We pray with Pope Francis for solidarity and true Compassion in our human family, that we may work together to protect those who are most vulnerable and most in need,” Bishop Barani requested.

    His message to South Sudanese citizens comes just after the Catholic Church leaders in Sudan and South Sudan concluded their Annual Plenary Assembly.

    “During our 2017 Annual Plenary Assembly of the Sudan Catholic Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan held in Kit, Juba, we resolved to keep together as Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan,” Bishop Barani states and requests for prayers as the Bishops carry out their responsibilities in a challenging pastoral situation.

    “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit inspire and guide all our families as we sail through the stormy times in our countries into true durable peace,” Bishop Barani concludes on behalf of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan.

  • Six-month Marriage Instructions among Pastoral Guidelines by Ghanaian Bishops

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 20 November 2017

    marriage instruction to last 6 months in ghanaThe Catholic Bishops in Ghana have directed that proximate preparations for marriage take six months because of the demands that go with the marriage institution.

    This is contained in the Bishops’ communique at the end of their Annual Plenary Assembly, which took place at the Volta Regional Capital, Ho, November 6-18, 2017.

    “Pastoral agents and Marriage Counsellors should assist them (couples for marriage) to recognize the ‘good times’ and ‘bad times’ of marriage, encourage them to discuss honestly what each expects from marriage, what they understand by love and commitment and what kind of life they would like to build together,” the Catholic Bishops in Ghana have stated.

    “We direct that all proximate preparations for marriage shall take normally six months in the Catholic Church in Ghana,” the Prelates have directed, making reference to the demands of such preparations.

    “The decision to marry should never be encouraged unless the couple has discerned deeper reasons that will ensure a genuine and stable commitment,” the Bishops have advised in their communique signed by GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh.

    Other directives include by the Bishops include the need for couples to make the liturgical celebration during marriage “a profound personal experience” with a focus on the meaning of the signs and avoiding expensive wedding ceremonies; post-marriage care, including learning how to plan and spend free time together, family prayer, and spirituality; pastoral care for couples in difficult and irregular situations, among other pastoral guidelines.

    The Bishops have urged Ghanaian families to remain united in true love and live in mutual understanding as well as contribute their best to inspire society with the timeless of family life.

    Considering the importance of the family in the Church and society at large, the Bishops said, the pastoral care of the family needs to be a shared responsibility that involves the Clergy and Religious, Marriage Counsellors, the Parish-church Community, Small Christian Communities (SCCs), couples and Associations of Families.

  • Catholic Bishops in Kenya Call for Calm and Sobriety Following Killings

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 20 November 2017

    call for calm and sobriety amidst tension in nairobi 2017The Catholic Bishops in Kenya are calling for “calm and sobriety” following killings and property destruction in sections of Nairobi city over the weekend.

    “We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, are saddened by the news that some Kenyans have lost lives in some areas of Nairobi and Nyanza,” reads in part a statement signed by the Chairman of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homabay.

    “We are equally saddened to hear and see rampant destruction of property and destruction of business of Kenyans as witnessed in the recent past,” the Bishops state and add, “We condemn all acts of violence and killings witnessed in these areas.”

    According to reports in local Dailies, sections of Nairobi city have been tense after five people were killed, three of them having been hacked to death by an armed gang in the capital city’s Baba Dogo area, and a fourth one, a security guard, having been shot as he pleaded with the gang not to attack residents.

    A fifth person who was found dead in Nairobi’s Mathare North suburb had stab wounds.

    “We condole with the families that have lost their loved ones in these unclear circumstances, especially in the recent past,” Bishop Anyolo says on behalf of the Catholic Bishops in Kenya.

    The police in Nairobi, through their leader Japheth Koome, have claimed that the killings were of criminal nature, dismissing claims of ethnic clashes expressed by affected residents.

    The Catholic Bishops have appealed “to all politicians and other people to work toward unifying the country and shun divisive politics and reckless utterances which lead to animosity and violence.”

    “We also call upon the government and its security agencies to protect Kenyans and their properties from criminals, regardless of their political affiliation,” the Bishops have stated.

    They have further called on Government security agencies to bring “to book all the criminals currently perpetrating violence on poor Kenyans by killing, destroying property and disrupting businesses.”

    The Bishops count on the help of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Kenya National Human Rights Commissions, the Directorate of Public Prosecution and other agencies in the process of judging and prosecuting those engaging in violent acts.

    On Monday, November 20, Kenya’s Supreme Court upheld the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta after a repeat poll through a unanimous decision, with some sections of the country celebrating and another section expressing displeasure.

    “We urge all Kenyans to embrace peace and resist any attempt to persuade them in engaging in criminal activities,” the Catholic Bishops have said and urged the youth “not to allow themselves to be manipulated by politicians to cause violence and destroy property.”

  • Pope Francis to Preside Over Prayer for Peace in South Sudan, DR Congo

    Vatican Radio || 16 November 2017

    peace prayers for south sudan dr congo 2017Pope Francis is to preside over a Prayer for Peace in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 23rd in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5.30pm Rome time.

    “Solidarity with South Sudan” in association with the Justice and Peace office of religious organizations worldwide, has organized the Prayer and confirmed that when Pope Francis heard of the initiative he made it known that he wanted to be personally involved. 

    Christians across the world are invited to pray together on that day and time for Peace in the world, and above all in South Sudan and in DRC, two conflict ravaged nations in which millions of displaced people are suffering the effects of terrible humanitarian crises.

    Sr. Yudith Pereira Rico, the Associate Executive Director of Solidarity in Rome, told journalists that the main thing people ask her to do when she travels to South Sudan, is to tell the world what is happening in their country.

    The world’s newest country spiraled into civil war in late 2013, two years after gaining independence from Sudan, causing one fourth of the 15 million-strong population to flee their homes.

    Sister Yudith described the continuing violence and abuse taking place in South Sudan as “Silent Genocide”.

    She told Linda Bordoni what it means for the suffering people of South Sudan to know that the Pope and Christians across the world are praying for them

    Sister Yudith said that for them, to know that people outside of South Sudan, in Rome, and in other places are praying for them, is to know that “we have the world with us”.

    “For them it a source of strength and hope for the future to feel that they are not alone, and this is important because otherwise where can they find the courage to resist what they are enduring now as refugees, victims…” she said.

    And highlighting the many abuses the most vulnerable people are enduring including the use of rape as a weapon of war, Sr Yudith said “to know that people are talking about this means that they too, as human beings count”.

    “They feel they don’t count for anybody: for politicians they don’t count, they don’t exist – they are only fighting for power and for money.”

    She says most people don’t even know where South Sudan is or the fact that it is the newt country.

    To acknowledge and to pray for them, she said, is to give them dignity and saying “we are with you”.

    She said that notwithstanding the terrible events that caused the new nation to disintegrate into conflict the people still want to be one.

    She explained that they came from 20 years of war, they did not have a national identity, and while the warmongers are vying for power and control the new generations, the women and all ordinary people are convinced they can all live together peacefully.

    Sr Yudith also spoke of Pope Francis’ interest in the nation and of how it has positively impacted the desire to set in motion some kind of peace process.

    “He is waiting for them to begin something so he can come and lend his support, but they have to begin…” she said.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe want “best interests of the nation” Prioritized

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 20 November 2017

    catholic bishops in zimbabwe on prioritizing citizens 2017The Catholic Bishops in Zimbabwe have expressed the need to have the best interests of the general citizens of Zimbabwe prioritized as the country goes through tense moments following the military takeover and the rising call for President Robert Mugabe to quit.

    On Tuesday, November 14, the military leader in Zimbabwe, Constantino Chiwenga took to the state television declaring that the army was targeting “criminals around” President Mugabe, and that it was not a coup.

    On Saturday, November 18, thousands of protestors flooded streets in Zimbabwe in peaceful demonstrations, calling for Mugabe’s resignation, which he seems to defy.

    “We, your Shepherds, encourage those central to these delicate processes (particularly the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the political leadership) that they maintain the best interests of the nation as a priority and continue to work tirelessly for a peaceful end to the crisis and to speedy return to normalcy and Constitutional order,” Catholic Bishops have stated in a statement published Sunday, November 19.

    The Bishops recommend the preservation of lives saying that “all lives are precious” and “that peace, law and order be maintained especially in these most delicate times.”

    The Church leaders “also implore all opinion leaders, all media, and the entire population to refrain from conduct and utterances that increase tension, engender hatred or inflame emotions.”

    The Bishops have acknowledged the possibility of a transitional government in stating, “The governance of Zimbabwe in any transition that may be adopted must embrace all Zimbabweans in their diversity and their oneness.”

    However, the Catholic Church leaders view a lasting solution in general elections.

    “The nation needs to develop a culture of free and fair elections, referenda and consultations,” the Bishops state.

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ statement


    Pastoral Statement of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference Following the Ongoing Events Since Wednesday 15 November 2017

    Published Sunday 19 November 2017

    The Church has keenly and prayerfully followed the recent tense events in the country. The Church has also observed the increased economic hardship for ordinary Zimbabweans. The atmosphere has drastically deteriorated culminating in the current intervention by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces. Let us pray for our country as we continue to watch developments carefully.

    We, your Shepherds, encourage those central to these delicate processes (particularly the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the political leadership) that they maintain the best interests of the nation as a priority and continue to work tirelessly for a peaceful end to the crisis and to speedy return to normalcy and Constitutional order.

    Let us be mindful of the fact that besides those who took action and those involved in the ongoing delicate process the entire population is concerned about the process as well as the future of the country. Beyond this crisis a sustainable normalisation of Zimbabwe can only be achieved through a people inclusive and participatory process in a democratic way. The governance of Zimbabwe in any transition that may be adopted must embrace all Zimbabweans in their diversity and their oneness. The nation needs to develop a culture of free and fair elections, referenda and consultations.

    All life is precious. The preservation of lives must be paramount and for that, it is essential that peace, law and order be maintained especially in these most delicate times. We ask that everyone exercises great restraint and patience in these tense times and that the people refrain from all lawlessness or any mass action that might worsen the situation.

    We also implore all opinion leaders, all media, and the entire population to refrain from conduct and utterances that increase tension, engender hatred or inflame emotions. We discourage sensationalism, false news and all forms of hate media as these pose a grave danger to the peacefulness of the ongoing process and sustainability of peace.

    Let us take note that those accused of crimes must at all times be accorded due process and protection of the law and that the role of the Civil Courts as independent arbiters continues unhindered as per the Constitution and as promised by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

    Let us as one family continue to pray for a peaceful and just outcome to the present situation in our country. Let us join in daily prayers for our nation individually and collectively.

    +Michael D. Bhasera, Bishop of Masvingo and Apostolic Administrator of Gweru (ZCBC President)

    +Robert C. Ndlovu, Archbishop of Harare and Apostolic Administrator of Chinhoyi (ZCBC Vice President)

    +Alex Thomas, Archbishop of Bulawayo (ZCBC Secretary/Treasurer)

    +Albert Serrano, Bishop of Hwange

    +Paul Horan, Bishop of Mutare

    +Rudolf Nyandoro, Bishop of Gokwe

  • Cameroon Cardinal Says France to Blame for ‘Anglophone crisis’

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 14 November 2017

    cardinal christian tumi blames france for anglophone crisisCardinal Christian Tumi, the archbishop emeritus of Douala, says a French government policy of preventing "Anglo-Saxon" encroachment in French-speaking Africa is behind Cameroon's current 'Anglophone Crisis.' Protests by the African country's English-speaking minority have turned violent, and a series of bombs went off overnight between Sunday and Monday.

    A cardinal in Cameroon has lashed out at France over the ongoing ‘Anglophone crisis’ in the West African country.

    Cardinal Christian Tumi, the archbishop emeritus of Douala, accused France of seeking to make sure the majority French-speaking Cameroonians assimilate the minority English-speaking population.

    Protests in the region are becoming increasingly violent, and four homemade bombs went off in the Bamenda - the capital of the English-speaking North-West region - late Sunday night and early Monday morning. No casualties were reported.

    Last week, Anglophone separatists were accused of killing four Cameroonian soldiers in the South-West region.

    Over a dozen people have died in demonstrations against alleged government erosion of the rights of the English-speaking population, leading some protestors on Oct. 1 to declare the region - which they call Ambazonia - to be independent.

    Speaking exclusively to local weekly newspaper, The Rambler, Tumi, now 87-years-old, said that after the reunification of Cameroon, “the idea was to wipe out from Cameroon the Anglo-Saxon culture.”

    The cardinal supported his accusation by telling an anecdote from a visit to the French embassy in Rome.

    “I was in Rome for the Synod of Bishops and the French embassy invited us for a reception; those of us who were from the French-speaking countries. So, I was there and one of the workers in the embassy approached me and asked me which country I came from. I told him that I was from Cameroon…he immediately told me: ‘We are very happy that you are assimilating the anglophones,’ which means that was the policy of France,” Tumi told the newspaper.

    The cardinal also saw French meddling behind the irregularities in the country’s 1992 presidential election, which involved an anglophone, John Fru Ndi.

    Fru Ndi officially lost the election to President Paul Biya - who first took power in 1982 and rules to this day - by a narrow margin, but opposition leaders accused the government of fraud.

    “Everybody knows that Fru Ndi won the election in 1992. Who organized the coup? It was Mitterrand and I am citing something [French President François] Mitterrand said to Biya, ‘jamais un anglophone a Etoudi’,” Tumi said.

    The phrase means ‘no anglophone should ever be allowed in Etoudi.’ The Etoudi is the Cameroonian presidential palace.

    Mitterrand served as president of France from 1981-1995. His government sought to strengthen ties with French-speaking Africa, and he sought to prevent “Anglo-Saxon” encroachment in what he felt was France’s sphere of influence.

    The cardinal concluded that “what is creating the whole problem is the presence of France in Cameroon. Whereas the English people left, whereas they packed their boxes and everything and went away, Cameroon is controlled by France. That’s the problem.”

    Tumi was speaking about the country’s unique colonial history.

    Cameroon came under French and British rule following the defeat of the Germans in World War One.

    The two parts later gained independence in 1960 and 1961 and reunited under a federal republic. This federation was scrapped in 1972 following a referendum, which has now come under severe criticism by anglophone Cameroonians, who make up about 20 percent of the population.

    They have been complaining that doing away with the Federal constitution which provided protections for their culture and way of life was the first step towards annihilating the anglophone culture.

    In Cameroon, the anglophone regions use British-style schools - common in English-speaking Africa - and their courts use the common law tradition. The francophone regions use French-style schools and the civil law system, historically deriving from the Napoleonic code.

    The unrest came to a head in October 2016, when teachers and lawyers in the two English-speaking regions of the country took to the streets in protest over the use of the French language in anglophone schools and courts.

    The demonstrators soon called for a return to the Federal system of governance, and others for outright secession.

    A year after the protests began - on October 1, 2017 - an estimated 1.5 million people took to the streets in almost every village in anglophone Cameroon in celebration of their independence - even if it was just symbolic.

    Joseph Wirba, an opposition member of Cameroon’s parliament who has been vocal about anglophone marginalization said the number of people who marched was a victory over oppression.

    “The slave had risen indeed to break the chains and there was no turning back! That day had marked the people’s mental and psychological escape from oppressive strangulation by a merciless government,” he said.

    After government troops clashed with protestors - leading to several deaths - the Catholic bishops in the anglophone regions accused the government of carrying out a “genocide.”

    They were reacting to the comments made by the Minister for Communications, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, who called the anglophone protesters “terrorists,” and added they should be treated as such.

    Government on dialogue missions

    Biya recently commissioned the country’s prime minister, Philémon Yang to lead fact-finding and peace missions to the embattled regions.

    Upon return from those missions, Yang told the president the use of charged language - such as calling protestors terrorists - was not helping.

    “Anglophones as far as I know, are not terrorists. The people were civilized; the majority of them rejected violence; they prefer to solve their problems through republican values,” Yang told Cameroon’s state broadcaster, CRTV.

    He said after listening to the people on the ground, he had come to the conclusion that the government must seriously address the crisis.

    Tumi said he believes reverting to the country’s original federal system of government would largely address the problem.

    That is also the view of the Civil Society Consortium that has been leading the anglophone protests.

    Its leader, lawyer Felix Agbor Balla, who was recently released from jail after serving over six months without any judgment, told the BBC that the position has not changed.

    “If you read all the communiqués from the consortium, we talked about a two-state federation. The consortium had never talked about independence, secession or restoration.”

    But Biya, in power for 35 years now, has repeatedly said none of those demands will be met.

    And so the standoff will continue for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Ghanaian Bishops Discuss Pastoral Care for the Family at Annual Plenary

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 16 November 2017

    ghanaian bishops on pastoral care for family 2017Members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) are meeting in the Volta Regional Capital Ho to discuss issues related to marriage and family life in the light of Amoris Laetitia.

    Speaking during the opening of the annual plenary assembly, GCBC President, Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale expressed worry that the Ghanaian family was experiencing emerging trends which were at variance with the ideal family image foreseen by the Church’s tradition of faith and morals.

    “The phenomenon of teenage and single parenthood, poor or irresponsible parenting, separate household and distant marriages that make couples live apart, and in some cases far away from each other, and relatives ease decisions regarding separation and /or divorce are all aspects of contemporary trends in the Ghanaian family today,” GCBC President said.

    The Plenary Assembly opened Monday, November 13, under the theme, Integral Pastoral Care for the Family in the light of Amoris Laetitia.

    Archbishop Naameh observed that a general trend that seemed to be affecting some youth across the social divide was their fixation on sexual functionality particularly among the young and the middle aged.

    He noted that peer pressure especially for young people in towns and cities, was both physical and digital, lamenting that social media rule their lives and they must organise their experiences according to their dictates.

    On traditional marriage, the Archbishop said the issue of bride price, which was frequently taken out of its original traditional context, was becoming increasingly monetarised and exaggerated.

    “The expense of marrying properly according to traditional rules has become, in some cases, quite burdensome for the average young man in Ghana seeking the hand of a woman in marriage,” he said.

    “There is also a general increase in the use of orthodox medicine and its attendant Assisted Reproductive Technologies in redressing fertility challenges among urban elite families,” GCBC President went on to say and added that that the Church is called upon to consider the moral dilemmas that Catholic couples face when they stand before the decision to accept or reject the use of such possibilities.

    He also called on the Church in Ghana to provide some intervention on inimical traditions of widowhood, which seem to have persisted in some places and noted, “Widowhood rites of these kind are sometimes only the evident clue of worse conditions that women must suffer in the event of death of a partner or divorce.”

    The Archbishop acknowledged the need for pastoral care for families considering that couples are calling on their Priests for direction with regard to faith matters.

    He noted that other important concerns of integral pastoral care for marriage and family life in Ghana include psycho-spiritual resources for responsible parenting, moral education of children and holistic programme that makes pastoral counselling resources and support systems available across the marital journey.

    He said that children were influenced by experiences of the day and the signs of their time, stating that they were born into an electronic environment with all that its virtual realities promise.

    On his part, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, said the theme for this year’s Plenary Session was apt, bringing to the fore a reflection of Pope Francis’ Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

    “I appreciate the aptness of the theme chosen by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference for this Plenary Assembly, focusing on the integral Pastoral care of families which is indeed the goal of Pope Francis’ ground-breaking new document,” the Nuncio said.

  • Comboni Missionaries Challenge Reporting on Africa

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 14 November 2017

    comboni missionaries challenge reporting on africaThe theme that the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has chosen for the 2018 World Day of Social Communications relates to what has come to be known as “fake news” namely baseless information. Fake news involves misleading distortion of facts with possible repercussions for innocent individuals or communities. It is in this vein that Italian-based Comboni Missionaries, Tuesday, held a media conference at the Vatican Radio’s Sala Marconi.

    Under the title, “L’Africa non è una fake news” meaning Africa is not about fake news, the Comboni Missionaries assert that the Church cannot afford to remain indifferent in the face of such massive disinformation on Africa.

    The media conference was an attempt to challenge and correct the disinformation prevalent in some Western media particularly in the field of migration.

    During the conference, the panel of speakers was concerned that public debate on Africa in Italy and Europe is dominated mainly by prejudice and fear often fuelled by media campaigns and an ideology that pushes a particular kind of politics. It has become common, they said, for Western media to speak of an 'invasion' of migrants even when facts speak otherwise.

    Speaking at the conference, renowned journalist and Comboni Missionary, Fr. Giulio Albanese, who has worked and lived in Africa for many years, decried Italian media’s preoccupation of labeling migrants under the so-called “cronaca nera” effectively criminalising them. Fr. Albanese said citizens in Europe need to hear the other side of the story. They need to take time to listen to stories of migrants who arrive on their soil. He said the truth is that the majority of migrants are compelled to leave their homeland due to injustices and exploitation that sometimes ironically benefit Western economies.

    Panelists at the media conference included Fr. Domenico Guarino, a Comboni priest from Palermo, a city in the South of Italy. Fr.  Guarino said he has seen migrants arrive in Italy and they were anything but criminals. He said many of them come to Italy traumatised and sometimes as victims of torture experienced on their journey. He criticised a recent agreement between Italy and Libya, which he said abandoned vulnerable migrants to militants who have no regard for human life.

    According to Fr. Guarino, the majority of migrants come from countries that have been systematically impoverished by multinationals in cooperation with various predatory African governments. He appealed to Europe not to cloud itself under the veil of fear. Fear, Fr. Guarino said, can be contagious. Nevertheless, if fear is contagious, so too are courage and hope. Sowing seeds of hope is what the Comboni Missionaries are trying to do 150 years after Saint Daniel Comboni founded the Comboni Order with a pastoral apostolate for Africa.

    Others who spoke at the media conference were Sr. Gabriella Bottani, a Comboni Missionary Sister who is the coordinator of “Talitha Kum.” Talitha Kum is a Rome-based international network of nuns against human trafficking.

    Father Elias Sindjalim a Togolese priest who spent many years in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) explained how different militias in some parts of DRC fuel migration.

    Mr. Luciano Ardesi, described as an Africanist and a collaborator of the Comboni magazine, Nigrizia, referred to the expropriation of land in African countries, by multinationals, as a phenomenon not only destroying the environment but also one that is now a cause of migration.

    Thus, the first line of solidarity, according to the media conference, is factual information.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Mugabe's Long-time Catholic Chaplain Joins Mediation Efforts, Church Leaders Speak

    The Tablet || By Rose Gamble || 16 November 2017

    catholic chaplain joins mediation efforts in zimbabwe 2017Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest, has been a close friend of Mr Mugabe for decades

    A Catholic priest is reported to be mediating a potential political exit for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, who is said to be insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler.

    The priest, Fidelis Mukonori, is acting as a middleman in talks between Mugabe and Military officials, a senior political source told Reuters. On Tuesday night the military detained Mugabe and his family at his State House residence and took over national broadcaster ZBC. The military has insisted Tuesday’s events are not a coup.

    The Reuters source could not provide details of the talks, which appear to be aimed at a smooth and bloodless transition following the departure of Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

    Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Jesuit priest, has been a close friend of Mr Mugabe for decades. He has acted as a chaplain to the family and, during the war against Ian Smith's regime, Fr Mukonori would travel the country (free to do so as a Catholic priest) gathering information for the guerrilla commander.

    Since independence in 1980, he has given the blessing at every celebration of the anniversary.

    In a statement released last night, an ecumenical group of Christian leaders in Zimbabwe – including the Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops’ Conference - described the country as “between a crisis and a kairos” (opportunity) and called for a national dialogue.

    “We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless. We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation,” the Christian leaders said in a statement to the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS).  

    The statement continues: “While the changes have been rapid in the last few days, the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time, especially during the political rallies of the ruling party, coupled with the deteriorating socio-economic situation.”

    They write that the economic problems and social challenges facing Zimbabwe are merely symptoms of “a deeper disease”, which they define as a “loss of trust in the legitimacy of our national processes and institutions.

    “There is a general feeling that the wheels of democracy have become stuck in the mud of personalised politics where the generality of the citizenry plays an insignificant role. It is this lack of democratic renewal and the resulting stagnation, sterility and fatigue that has culminated in the current situation,” they write.

    They call for prayer and for the Zimbabwean defence forces to respect human dignity. They ask for a transitional government of national unity “that will oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election.”

    They conclude by calling the nation “to a table of dialogue”.

    “There is no way we can go back to the political arrangements we had some days ago. We are in a new situation. But our shared future will only be realised [with] dialogue,” they write.

    President Robert Mugabe is currently said to be under house arrest in Harare. The whereabouts of his wife Grace, who was bidding to succeed him as president, are unknown. Nambian officials yesterday denied reports that Mrs Mugabe has fled to their country.

    Local media reports suggest a number of senior members of the "Generation-40" group supportive of the first lady have been detained by the military.

    On Wednesday, one of Mrs Mugabe’s key allies, Zanu-PF youth wing leader Kudzai Chipanga, made a televised apology on ZBC for criticising the head of the army. Chipanga is currently said to be in custody.

    According to Reuters, Zimbabwean intelligence reports seen by the news agency suggest that former security chief Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was ousted as vice-president earlier this month, has been planning a post-Mugabe vision with the military and opposition for over a year. 

    South African ministers have been in the capital Harare meeting the army and political parties, the BBC reports.

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc will hold emergency talks later today (Thursday) in Gaborone, capital of Botswana.

    Source: The Tablet…

    Below is the full text of the Pastoral Message of the Churches in Zimbabwe on the current situation



    DATE: 15 NOVEMBER 2017

    Luke 19:41-44

    41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your opportunity (KAIROS) from God.”

    1. The Moment of Truth

    Many Zimbabweans are confused and anxious about what has transpired and continues to unfold in our nation. While the changes have been rapid in the last few days, the real deterioration has been visible for everyone to see for a long time, especially during the public political rallies of the ruling party, coupled with the deteriorating socio-economic situation.

    On the 30th of October 2017, during the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Association between Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, it was again highlighted that the abrasive and exclusionary politics, the increased use of ethnic identities dominating the public discourse, especially at the public political rallies and in the media, would further fragment and threaten the already weak cohesion of our society.

    Now we have reached a new chapter in the history of our nation. As we look at this situation as the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD), we are reminded of the warning of Jesus in Luke 19:41-44. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem when he saw the catastrophe of its destruction and the massacre of the people that was imminent, “because they had not recognized their opportunity (KAIROS) when God offered it” (Lk 19: 44).

    We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless. We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation. Our God created everything out of chaos. In order for something new to be born we need to clearly define our problem. Proper naming of the problem will give us a clear sense of where we must go as a nation.

    2. What is the nature of our problem

    It may be easy to describe our problem in terms of the economy and the accompanying myriad of social challenges. But all these are manifestations or symptoms of a deeper disease that has affected the nation for a long time. This was the challenge of the loss of TRUST in the legitimacy of our national processes and institutions. There is a strong sense that our hard-earned Constitution is not being taken seriously. There is not enough confidence whether the separation of the three arms of the State, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary are functioning in proper relationships of checks and balances. There is a deep concern that there seem to be no clear distinction between the ruling party and the Government. There is concern that the priorities of the poor have become relegated to charity of those who have access to national resources without proper commitment to addressing the root-causes of these problems. There is a general feeling that the wheels of democracy have become stuck in the mud of personalized politics where the generality of the citizenry plays an insignificant role. It is this lack of democratic renewal and the resulting stagnation, sterility and fatigue that has culminated in the current situation.

    3. Everyone implicated

    To be fair, this situation is not only the doing of the ruling party and Government. It is also the result of the connivance of the different arms of the state and complicity of the Church and Civil Society. All of us at some point failed to play our roles adequately. The Church has lost its prophetic urge driven by personality cults and superstitious approaches to socio-economic and political challenges. Civil Society over time has become focused on survival and competition and lost the bigger picture of the total emancipation of the population. But the current situation is also a result of the many people in the ruling party who feel outdone,

    who enjoyed unbridled access to the trough of patronage. Journalists fanned the politics of hatred by giving it prime space in the name of sales and profits. All Zimbabweans must take some blame for our current situation.

    4. What should be done?

    The Church makes the following calls:

    4.1 Call to Prayer for the Nation

    We call the nation to a moment of prayer for repentance, deep reflection and discernment. We all need to go before God and ask God to forgive us for ways in which we contributed to the situation through neglect or wrong action. We need individual and collective deep reflection on what this means for all of us as individuals, families, churches and the nation. We need to find meaning in this situation. We also need to collectively and individually discern the next direction for us as a nation.

    4.2 Call to Calm and Peace

    Right now, there is not enough information and many people are peddling opinions as facts. Some misinformation is causing despondency and fear. We are calling for peace and calm. Let us not sensationalize the situation but encourage calm and be modest in our engagement.

    4.3 Call for the Respect of Human Dignity

    We are aware that the Zimbabwe Defense Forces is currently managing the situation. But we want to make it clear to them that it is their responsibility to ensure that human dignity and rights are respected. This is not a time to allow for lawlessness and vindictive and selective application of the law.

    4.4 Call for a Transitional Government of National Unity

    The Zimbabwe Defense Forces have stressed that theirs is not a military coup, but an effort to manage the current situation. In the light of this position, we are calling for the formalization of a transitional government of national unity that will oversee the smooth transition to a free and fair election.

    4.5 Call for National Dialogue

    Finally, we are calling the nation to a table of dialogue. The current situation gives as an opportunity to reach out to each other. There is no way we are going to go back to the political arrangements we had some days ago. We are in a situation that cannot be solved by anything other than dialogue. This dialogue cannot only happen within the ruling party. What we need is a National Envisioning Platform (NEP) that will capture the aspirations of all the sectors of society. The church alongside other stakeholders in the private sector, academia, and other spheres can establish a NEP as an inclusive space to enable Zimbabweans from all walks of life to contribute towards a democratic transition to the Zimbabwe We Want.

    5. Conclusion

    Finally, the Church derives its mandate from its stature as a sign of hope in a situation of despair and discouragement. God has put the Church in the nation so that it can be a conduit for the healing of the nation. God has promised that: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). We are the people of God who are being called to champion the spirit of reconciliation. The Church is made up of those who have been reconciled to God and hence is called to be a sign of this

    reconciliation by calling the nation to reconciliation. Zimbabweans can find each other again as they did in the 1960s and 1970s when they joined hands against the colonial forces; Zimbabweans can find each other again like they did when the signed the Unity Accord and stopped the self-destruction in Matabeleland and Midlands; Zimbabweans can find each other again like they did when the produced the current national Constitution; when they shared power during the Government of National Unity; there is no chasm that is too big not to be crossed through the power of reconciliation. Without reconciliation and openness to a process of shared national envisioning, we are all doomed.

    We can either take the current situation as a mere crisis to be resolved by a winner-takes-all mentality or we use this as an opportunity for us to find one another to build something that is permanently healing for our nation. The first option spells disaster for us and future generations. The second option allows us to embrace our situation as a Kairos, an opportunity given to us by God to dream together that another Zimbabwe is possible!

    “If you, even you, would only recognize on this day the things that make for peace!” Luke 19:42

    Bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda

    Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations Chairman

    Zimbabwe Council of Churches President

    ZHOCD Executive:

    Dr Shingi Munyeza – ZHOCD Vice Chair – EFZ President

    Pastor Blessing Makwara – ZHOCD Executive Secretary

    Bishop Michael Bhasera – ZCBC President

    Bishop Nuwere Mangwiro – UDACIZA President

    Dr Kenneth Mtata – ZCC General Secretary

    Fr Fradereck Chiromba – ZCBC General Secretary

    Rev Edson Tsvakai – UDACIZA General Secretary

    Contact: gensec@efzimbabwe.org

  • Bishop in Nigeria Calls for Collaboration on Rehabilitation of Victims of Boko Haram Insurgency

    Catholic News Service of Nigeria (CNSN) || 08 November 2017

    bishop oliver dashe maiduguri on boko haram rehabilitationCatholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese, Most Rev. Oliver Dashe Doeme has called for an all stakeholders synergy on the rehabilitation programme for the victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast region of the country. Bishop Doeme made this call during a recent chat with media men in Bazza village in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State. The Bishop accompanied by four Bishops of the Catholic Church were in Bazza for the erection of a giant Cross on mount Bazza as part of the diocese’s ceremony for the re-consecration of the diocese to the Immaculate heart of Mary.

    According to the bishop, the Cross, which is the biggest of such structure in the country, symbolizes the victory of Christ over Satan and  is to provide consolation for  the people who are traumatized, devastated and in pain. He added: “When we come to the cross and venerate it, we are asking Jesus to help us surmount our problems and challenges that we face as pilgrims towards the God’s kingdom”.

    Bishop Doeme informed the congregation present at the ceremony that the Cross, constructed by a Nigerian engineer, Mrs. Christiana Victor Madugu, was sponsored by a group of spirited individuals in London, who wanted to contribute their quota to the propagation of Christianity in the country. 

    Speaking on the return of normalcy to the region, Bishop Doeme commended the efforts of the Federal Government and the armed forces at driving out the insurgents and restoring civil authority in the region.  He however noted that for the rehabilitation programme of the government to be very successful, there is need for the involvement of other stakeholders, especially the Church in the exercise.  His words: “I want to urge government agencies involved in the north east to partner with the Church in the resettlement process; we are closer to the people as we are on ground with the people.”

    The ceremony was attended by: Bishops Ayo Maria of Ilorin,  Dami Mamza of Yola; Peter Okpaleke of Ahiara and Michael Gokum of Pankshin; as well as priests Religious, lay faithful and dignitaries from all walks of life. Other activities of the programme included: the handing over of a health Centre donated to the Church by Andrew Robert and the inauguration of the rehabilitated Minor Seminary at Shuwa, destroyed by the insurgents.

    Source: Catholic News Service of Nigeria…

  • Church in Zambia Introspecting Interreligious Dialogue

    Vatican Radio || By Mwenya Mukuka, Zambia || 11 November 2017

    intereligious dialogue for church in zambia 2017The 2017 Extraordinary National Catholic Forum of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) is currently taking place in the Zambian capital, Lusaka.

    And the Catholic Bishops of Zambia have reiterated that the Church in Zambia is no longer a mission Church, but instead, it is a Church on mission.

    In his opening remarks on behalf of other Catholic Bishops, Lusaka Archbishop, and ZCCB President, Telesphore-George Mpundu said that the Church in Zambia should play its rightful role and duty in the work of Evangelisation.  

    He noted the threat to the Catholic faith, in Zambia, posed by its young people leaving the Church to join Pentecostal Evangelical Churches.

    "As people who are on a mission, we are not lone rangers. We move as a family. In the recent past, we have heard of threats to the faith. The youth are going to the Evangelicals,” he said.

    He observed the need to stem the trend of young people leaving the Catholic Church in pursuit of the Gospel of prosperity as preached by some Evangelical Pentecostal preachers. The Archbishop called on the Church in Zambia to re-examine how it treats its young people if the trend is to be reversed and stopped. He further challenged the Church in Zambia to make a difference to society and live-up to Christ’s standard of being the Salt of the Earth and light of the world.

    The National Catholic Forum is a bi-annual gathering of Zambian Catholic Bishops, the laity, priests, religious men and women who meet to discuss various pastoral issues of importance to the Catholic faith and pertinent matters affecting the country.  This year’s Extraordinary Forum is being held at Kapingila ZCCB house. 

    The 2017 Forum is discussing Interreligious dialogue in the advent of the emergence and growing influence of Islam and other Churches in the country.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • In Uganda, Missionary Nun Determined to Tackle Child Begging

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 13 November 2017

    sister fernanda cristinelli in uganda 2017A Comboni missionary nun in Uganda who'd been out of the country for ten years recently returned to discover a widespread social problem she hadn't seen before: children begging on the streets, often as part of a human trafficking ring. Working with the Ugandan government, Sister Fernanda Cristinelli is determined to do something about it.

    Sister Fernanda Cristinelli, a Comboni missionary, has returned to Uganda where she had served for ten years, to witness a disturbing new phenomenon: widespread begging. According to Fides News Agency, children sit by roadsides all night, “begging for a few pennies.

    “They cannot have a hot meal, go to school, play, wash, feel safe and secure. They are children from the Karamoja area, one of the poorest in the northeast of Uganda, who are forced by adults to beg in the capital Kampala,” Cristinelli told Crux.

    Cristinelli says her return to Uganda has put her “in front of a phenomenon that I had never seen in Kampala years ago.

    “Children aged 3 to 10, and girls from 12 to 14, are begging on the streets, the busiest of the capital, and adult women control them. The little ones jump towards cars in the unpredictable traffic of the streets of Kampala to beg, and the girls, with babies on their shoulders, do the same.

    “In addition, these children live in decrepit tents at the edge of the city, in the mud when it rains,” Cristinelli said.

    The Daily Mail quotes 32-year old Betty, a mother of five, whose survival and that of her family depends on the capacity of her two -year old daughter, Namuli, to make money begging.

    “Like any mother, I feel bad about doing this. But without the money Namuli gets from begging we will die of starvation and have no money to put clothes on our backs. This is the only way we can stay alive,” she said.

    According to the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the number of children making their way to the streets of Kampala to beg every day jumped from 4,000 in 1993 to 10,000 in 2014.

    In the face of such a “shameful social plague,” Cristinelli is now committed to bringing respite. She has decided to open a day-care center for children that will promote school and family reintegration programs.

    “With the women in the diocese, we have tried to create awareness and literacy programs,” she said. “That is why we thought of creating a place near where they live, to accompany them to have a truly worthy life.

    “For them, a point of reference where they can come, feel welcomed, play a bit, give them something to eat, [and] talk to them, is important,” Cristinelli said.

    “The goal of our project is to make them feel that childhood is something different from being on the streets,” she said.

    Begging: The hidden face of trafficking

    Often street begging by kids in Kampala, like other parts of Uganda, constitutes the hidden face of human trafficking.

    According to New Vision newspaper, children across the East African country are used to working in stone quarries, mining fields and fisheries. The girls are exploited to work as household helpers and babysitters, and many have been taken as child soldiers or slaves by the armed insurgent group the Lord’s Resistance Army.

    Experts have blamed the rising phenomenon of child trafficking on poverty and unemployment, which continue to blight life for many in Uganda.

    According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the share of unemployed youth (national definition, 18-30 years) among the total unemployed persons in the country was 64 percent in 2012.

    The World Bank, however, notes significant improvements in the fight against poverty in Uganda, as monetary poverty levels dropped dramatically from 31.1 percent  in 2006 to 19.7 percent in 2013. The country was also one of the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce the share of its population living on $1.90 (purchasing power parity) per day or less, from 53.2 percent in 2006 to 34.6 percent in 2013.

    Yet improved sanitation, access to electricity, education, and child malnutrition are still widespread problems.

    “Poverty renders victims vulnerable and leads to rural-urban migration. Urban areas such as Kampala are the major transit and destination areas of internal trafficking,” said Moses Binoga, the coordinator of a Ugandan taskforce to prevent trafficking in persons.

    A community liaison officer attached to Katwe Police station, Sam Nabongho, has also accused some powerful government officials of involvement in human trafficking. Norman Saad Kityamuwesi, a senior immigration officer in the ministry, says most Ugandans are unaware that trafficking in persons is against the law.

    All these problems have continued to drive vulnerable populations to migrate to the cities, with the accompanying consequences of begging.

    Cristinelli is not the only one concerned with the situation. The anti-trafficking task force is now working with the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development to take kids off the streets of Kampala. They’re transferring children to two shelters in Karamoja operated by the ministry that provides food, medical treatment, counseling, and family tracing.

    “Since 2009, the taskforce has invited trainers from the Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) of Police to provide anti-trafficking training to over 3,500 police recruits and more comprehensive training to 800 officers in criminal investigation courses,” Binoga said.

    Experts say a solution to the problem of begging on the streets also must involve moral and spiritual leadership.

    During an audience with an International Symposium on the Pastoral Care of the Street on Sept. 17, 2015, Pope Francis said street children are robbed of their future.

    “No child chooses to live on the streets,” the pontiff said.

    “Sadly, even in our modern, globalized world, many children continue to be robbed of their childhood, their rights and their future,” the pope said. Lack of legal protection and adequate structures only aggravates their state of deprivation: they have no real family or access to education or health care.

    “Every child abandoned or forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of criminal organizations, is a cry rising up to God, Who created man and woman in His own image,” Francis said. “It is an indictment of a social system which we have criticized for decades, but which we find hard to change in conformity with criteria of justice.”

    It is this type of picture that Sister Fernanda Cristinelli wants to change.

    Source: Crux…

  • Bishops’ Conferences in Africa and Europe Publish Joint Statement Ahead of AU-EU Summit

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 13 November 2017

    bishops in africa and europe publish joint statement 2017The Commission of Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union (COMECE) and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), last Wednesday, November 8 published a joint Statement ahead of the upcoming fifth summit of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU).

    The joint statement is titled “Africa and Europe shall work as one for the youth of our continents”.

    The African and European Church leaders have expressed their resolve “to make their voices to be heard together and jointly” taking advantage of the summit that will be presenting “the political leaders of both continents with the unique opportunity to initiate an authentic mutual partnership.”

    “The official date for the joint dissemination of the said statement was set for the 8th of November, 2017,” SECAM Secretary General, Father Joseph Komakoma told CANAA Monday, November 13, making reference to an earlier publication of the same statement.

    Only one word, “radical” was dropped from the phrase "...threats of radical religious and political extremism," Father Komakoma clarified to CANAA.

    The two-day fifth AU-EU summit has been scheduled later this month from 28 - 29 November 2017 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    The choice to focus on the youth could be in the light of the planned 15th Ordinary General Assembly Synod of Bishops slated for October 2018 whose theme will be, “Youth, faith and vocational discernment,” a theme described as “an expression of the pastoral care of the Church for the young.”

    “Africa and Europe share common roots, which originate in the earliest days of human history,” the Bishops state and also address the geographical connectedness between the two continents, how Africa and Europe “are destined for a common future” and the fact that “Africa and Europe are united in prayer.”

    Click HERE for the full text of the joint statement.

  • Togo’s Crisis Takes Religious and Ethnic Dimensions; Country’s Bishops are Worried

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 08 November 2017

    togo crisis turns ethnic 2017As protests in Togo continue against President Faure Gnassingbé, the bishops said they are disturbed the political crisis has "taken an ethnic and religious trend, with the appearance of militias, the flight to exile of many of our compatriots; arrests; repression, the profaning and destruction of a mosque.”

    In Togo,the bishops are expressing concern over the ethnic and religious overtones appearing in the West African nation’s ongoing political crisis.

    Thousands of demonstrators have been on the streets calling on President Faure Gnassingbé to step down, and for the country to re-introduce term limits.

    Gnassingbé has been president since 2005, following the death of his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma.

    Eyadéma had ruled Togo for 38 years, ever since he overthrew the country’s second president, Nicolas Grunitzky, in a coup d’état in 1967.

    At least 16 people have been killed in the protests since August.

    In the beginning, the bishops called the protests a result of pent-up frustrations, and called for them to be peaceful. At the same time, the bishops supported the call for term limits.

    The Togolese bishops discussed the issue during their 166th ordinary session, which took place October 17-20 in Kpalimé.

    “Faced with the surge in violence recorded in our country these last weeks, the bishops once more condemned all acts of violence no matter where they are coming from, and called on all to exercise restraint in order to make sure that our country does not sink into a situation of chaos,” Father Gustave Wanme, the secretary general of the bishops’ conference, said in a statement.

    The day before the bishops began meeting, Muslim religious leader Djobo Mohamed Alassani, a local representative of the opposition Pan-African National Party, was arrested in the northern town of Sokodé, sparking a wave of violence that led to the deaths of two soldiers and two civilians, with over 20 people wounded.

    Gnassingbé is a Christian. The country is just under 30 percent Christian and 20 percent Muslim, while 50 percent practice indigenous religions.

    “The bishops deplored the fact that the events of these last days have, beyond all expectations, taken an ethnic and religious trend, with the appearance of militias, the flight to exile of many of our compatriots; arrests; repression, the profaning and destruction of a mosque,” Wanme said.

    The government justified the arrest of the imam, saying in a statement that he was picked following “repeated incitement and calls to violence, murder and sedition.”

    But Gnassingbé has been accused of fanning ethnic tensions as a diversionary tactic from the substantive issue of presidential term limits.

    “It is a dangerous twist,” the bishops said, evidently fearing a repeat of past ethnic violence in Togo.

    Understanding Togo’s ethnic tensions

    During Germany’s rule over Togo, members of the Ewe tribe in the south of the country were favored by the Germans and benefitted from missionary education. When the French succeeded the Germans in Togo after World War I, the Ewes became administrators for colonies throughout French Africa.

    By the time Togo got its independence in 1960, the Ewes - who are the largest individual tribe in Togo, with about 30 percent of the population - had become the dominant group both in the administration and public service.

    But the Ewe tribe was not the only one to have benefited from colonial policies.

    The Kabye tribe of the north suffered economic backwardness and illiteracy, yet they had been recruited into the army under French rule, and at independence dominated the military. They still do so today, despite making up only between 15 and 20 percent of the population.

    Between the Ewe and the Kabye in the center of the country are the Tem, the ethnic group to which Alassani belongs, and other smaller ethnic groups.

    These ethnic divisions are reflected in the country’s political history.

    Togo’s first president, Sylvanus Olympio was supported by the Ewes, but he was assassinated in a military coup in 1963, with Nicolas Grunitzky eventually taking power.

    Under the rule of Olympio and Grunitsky, Ewes held almost 70 percent of the ministerial posts, with Kabye holding 20 percent.

    But the fortunes of the two main groups changed on January 13, 1967, when Gnassingbé Eyadéma, an ethnic Kabye army colonel, took power in a bloodless coup. Suddenly, the Ewe tribe only had 25 percent of the cabinet positions.

    Eyadéma repressed Ewe nationalism and other forms of dissent. When the wave of democracy swept the continent in the 1990s, the president instituted elections, which outside observers said were marred by electoral fraud.

    At least 200 people were killed in 1998, after the president was accused of stealing the election.

    Eyadéma introduced term limits in 1992, after a series of political protests, but ended them in 2002, with the hopes of running for re-election in 2008.

    After his death in 2005, the military made sure his son succeeded him, causing more riots.

    Both the 1998 and 2005 demonstrations took on an ethnic character.

    Now there are fears of a repeat of history.

    “Individuals are using social media to whip up ethnic hatred,” said Professor Ayayi Togoata Apédo-Amah of the University of Benin, and an opposition supporter.

    “Our fight isn’t against any ethnic group. It is directed at a criminal and illegitimate regime…Giving a tribal coloration to this fight is a criminal diversion …the politics of ethnic scapegoatism is not part of the war of liberation for the Togolese people.”

    The bishops have called for “frank and sincere dialogue” between the government and the opposition “on the key question that sparked the conflict in the first place,” in order to come up with a “durable, consensual solution.”

    In a sign of hope a government spokesman on Monday said the president was willing to hold talks with the opposition.

    Source: Crux…

  • Pope Recognizes Martyrdom of Sister Killed in Somalia in 2006

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 09 November 2017

    martyrdom of sister killed in somalia recognizedPope Francis formally recognized the martyrdom of an Italian Consolata sister murdered in Somalia in 2006 and the martyrdom of a 25-year-old priest in Hungary in 1957.

    The Vatican announced the pope's decisions Nov. 9, along with news that he had declared Pope John Paul I "venerable" and had advanced five other sainthood causes.

    In the case of the two martyrs, the pope's recognition clears the way for their beatification, the step before canonization.

    Consolata Sister Leonella Sgorbati and her bodyguard were gunned down as they left the children's hospital where she worked in Mogadishu. Their deaths in September 2006 came amid rising tensions in the Muslim world over a speech then-Pope Benedict XVI had given in Regensburg, Germany, quoting a Christian emperor's criticism of Islam.

    Most Islamic leaders in Somalia condemned the killing, emphasizing that Sister Sgorbati was dedicating her efforts to the Somali people. She was 65 at the time, had worked in Africa for 35 years and had been in Somalia since 2001.

    The Hungarian priest whose martyrdom was recognized by Pope Francis was Father Janos Brenner, who was born in Szombathely in 1931. He had been a Cistercian novice, but when the communist government banned religious orders in 1950, he entered a diocesan seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1955.

    Although the diocesan priesthood was not banned, the communist authorities did not like his ministry, especially with young people. In December 1957, just two weeks before his 26th birthday, he received a late-night call to visit a sick person. On the path outside the village, he was stabbed 32 times and died before a doctor could arrive. Although it was never proven, it was believed that communist officials were ultimately responsible for his death.

    Another decree signed by the pope recognized the heroic virtues of Bernard of Baden, a 15th-century German nobleman. Although he often is referred to as "Blessed Bernard," his cause for sainthood had not previously followed all the formal procedures.

    The other decrees signed by the pope recognized the heroic virtues of:

    -- Franciscan Father Gregorio Fioravanti, the Italian founder of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. He died in 1894.

    -- Venezuela-born Jesuit Father Tomas Morales Perez, who founded the Cruzadas de Santa Maria secular institute and the Militantes de Santa Maria movement for young people. He died in Spain in 1994.

    -- Italian Capuchin Brother Marcellino da Capradosso, a friar who died in 1909.

    -- U.S.-born Teresa Fardella De Blasi, an Italian mother and widow, who founded the Poor Daughters of the Crowned Virgin and who was able to realize her dream of becoming a nun only shortly before her death in 1957.

  • Tanzanian Archbishop Appointed Secretary for Evangelization of Peoples

    Vatican Radio || English Africa Service || 09 November 2017

    archbishop rugambwa appointed to evangelization of peoplesPope Francis Thursday afternoon, appointed Archbishop Protase Rugambwa as the new Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

    Archbishop Rugambwa was until now, the Adjunct Secretary of the same Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS). 

    He is the Archbishop Emeritus of Kigoma in Tanzania.

    The newly appointed Secretary was born on 31 May 1960 at Bunena, in the Tanzanian Archdiocese of Bukoba. After his primary and secondary school education in Katoke, Itaga, he joined Kibosho Senior Seminary and St. Charles Lwanga Segerea Senior Seminary for philosophy and theological studies respectively.

    He was ordained priest on 2 September 1990 in Dar-es-Salaam, by Blessed Pope John Paul II during the Apostolic visit to Tanzania.

    After ordination, Archbishop Rugambwa served as parochial vicar between 1990-1991 in the parish of Mabira; teacher at the Minor Seminary of Katoke between 1991-1994. He was also Chaplain of Biharamulo hospital.

    Between 1994-1998 he studied Pastoral Theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, after which he was awarded a doctoral degree.

    Upon return to his home diocese, he served as vocations director and eventually as Vicar General of Rulenge Diocese.

    Announcing the appointment of Archbishop Rugambwa, the Holy Father also elevated the Italian, Rev. Monsignor Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso as Archbishop and new Adjunct Secretary of the same Congregation. He will also serve as President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS).

    The new Adjunct Secretary previously served as Secretary of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" until the dissolution of the Council early this year.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Sudan and South Sudan Bishops’ Plenary to Discuss Peacebuilding, Pastoral Care to Refugees and Poor, Re-inviting Pope Francis

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 09 November 2017

    scbc plenary november 2017Activities toward building peace in Sudan and South Sudan, pastoral initiatives toward refugees in various countries, and ways of addressing poverty are among the issues Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have planned to discuss during their Plenary Assembly in Juba.

    This has been confirmed to CANAA by the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio diocese.

    The plenary opened on Wednesday, November 8, with a recollection led by Msgr. James Lodu who serves as Spiritual Rector of St. Lawrence Minor Seminary, Juba, South Sudan.

    “We intent to revisit our plan and activities in building peace, pastoral attention toward our refugees in various countries, the poverty of our people, to re-boost our social service to them,” Bishop Barani told CANAA Thursday.

    “We shall consider also re-invitation of our Holy Father to visit Sudan and South Sudan,” SCBC President added.

    Early in the year, Pope Francis had proposed a trip to South Sudan, which he would have undertaken alongside the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. However, on May 30, the Vatican's spokesman, Greg Burke, told journalists that the trip was not to take place this year, citing a precarious security situation in the world’s youngest nation.

    According to Father Jacob Ohob Odoi, the Secretary General of SCBC, the Church leaders coming from the two dioceses in Sudan and the seven dioceses in South Sudan are being guided by Jesus’ prayer for his Apostles recorded in the Gospel according to John 17:21, ‘That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’

    Bishop Barani appreciated the presence of two representatives of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) saying, “This Plenary has been blessed with a delegation from AMECEA, led by Berhaneyesus Cardinal Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa and Chairman of AMECEA, together with Bishop Rogath Kimaryo of Same, Tanzania.”

    Father Jacob told CANAA that the two Apostolic Nuncios for South Sudan and for Sudan are attending the 10-day Plenary Assembly.

    The two Nuncios, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo and Archbishop Hubertus Matheus Maria van Megen, also represent the Holy Father in Kenya and Eritrea respectively.

    “The Cardinal from Ethiopia and Bishop Kimaryo have been meeting the local ordinaries of Sudan and South Sudan,” Father Jacob told CANAA on Wednesday evening, adding, “Earlier, Cardinal Bernheyesus had a phone conversation with Cardinal emeritus Gabriel Zubeir of Khartoum Archdiocese.”

    The Plenary is taking place at Kit Spiritual Center, situated some 15km South of South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

    Founded by Religious Superiors’ Association of South Sudan (RSASS), Kit is a center for human, pastoral and spiritual formation, peace building and trauma healing for South Sudanese and Church personnel including the laity, clergy, and religious.

    It was officially opened in October 2016 at a ceremony presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo.

  • Christian Brothers in Zambia’s Mongu Diocese Celebrate Golden Jubilee

    Vatican Radio || By Bro Michael Godfrey, Mongu Diocese Drumbeat || 05 November 2017

    christian brothers in mongu zambia golden jubilee 2017The Christian Brothers in Zambia’s Mongu Diocese are celebrating fifty years of continuous presence in the diocese.

    On 4 July 1967, Brothers James Casey and John Wiley left Ireland and arrived in Mongu on 7 July. Br Patrick McLoughlin also came later in that same year.

    St John’s school, Mongu, had commenced in 1962, founded by the Capuchin Fathers. On 8 December 1967, the Capuchins handed over the leadership of the school to the Christian Brothers. The first Headmaster was Br Casey.

    In the following year Bros. Tom Gough, Anthony Morony, and Michael Logue also came to Mongu. They all became involved as teachers in St John’s school, and a series of Brothers led the school as Headmasters until 1991 when Br Seamus O’Reilly handed over the leadership to Mr. Charles Chinyama. The Brothers have also been involved in other ministries around Mongu including with the Mongu Diocese Teachers’ College and the local prison.

    Over those fifty years, many Brothers have lived and worked at St John’s, and in more recent times this has included Zambian Brothers, some of whom grew up in Mongu and surrounding areas and later came on as staff at the school.

    In 2016, under a new structure, the Christian Brothers established three new Mission Communities in Mongu Diocese – in Limulunga, Senanga, and Luampa. Each of these communities was an international community with Brothers from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, and Australia. The Mongu community, known as the Hub, is responsible for the pastoral and administrative care of the three Mission communities.

    The Congregation of Christian Brothers is an international Religious Congregation of Brothers founded by Blessed Edmund Rice in 1802 in Waterford, Ireland. He founded the Congregation initially as a response to the needs of the more impoverished boys from the docks in Waterford.

    The Brothers are present in more than thirty countries throughout the continents of Europe, Americas, Australia, and the subcontinent of India, including the continent of Africa. The African countries are Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and The Gambia.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Salesian-run Ministries in Uganda Aid South Sudanese Fleeing Violence

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Doreen Ajiambo || 03 November 2017

    salesians in uganda and s sudan fleeing violence 2017As civil war escalates in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, refugees fleeing violence gather over the border in northern Uganda to ask God for peace.

    They sing hymns and sometimes recite the rosary. Others fall to their knees and weep in prayer in the new chapels established under trees because shelter is scarce. Their pews are planks of wood or logs dug into the ground.

    "We are praying daily because we want God to hear and forgive us," said catechist Peter Jok, a South Sudanese refugee who works in one of five chapels that Salesian missionaries have opened in the Palabek camp in northern Uganda. "The suffering we are going through will come to an end one day because God is going to intervene."

    About 34,000 South Sudanese refugees live in Palabek. The ministries offered in the chapels bring hope and unify the migrants, including those who have lost loved ones in the civil war.

    The Salesians run St. John Bosco, Mary Help of Christians, Holy Cross, Daniel Comboni and Mother Teresa chapels. Catholic Masses are celebrated in them; women and children use the buildings as community centers.

    "We had lost hope as people of South Sudan, but the church is restoring it," said Pauline Aluel, a mother of three who arrived in the camp in April after government soldiers attacked her town of Pajok and murdered her husband. "I have been having bad dreams about the people I saw being murdered. But the church has helped me to overcome it. I can now recite a rosary and all my problems are solved."

    The newly appointed chaplain of the refugees in the archdiocese, Salesian Father Lazar Arasu, said his order's missionaries were helping the refugees in peacebuilding activities, spiritually and agricultural practices to improve their lives.

    "We are working to provide inspiration and hope to internally displaced people here and around the world," Father Arasu said. "We also help poor youth and their families through education."

    South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in July 2011 after decades of war. But two years later, the new nation of 11 million people became embroiled in civil conflict. President Salva Kiir, a member of the majority Dinkas, blamed his then-Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, of staging a coup against the government. The conflict has led to famine, accusations of mass rape and ethnic cleansing and a massive refugee crisis.

    Several peace deals have failed, including one signed in 2015 allowing the formation of a unity government with Machar as Kiir's first deputy.

    Tens of thousands have been killed in the conflict, and more than 1 million people have been forced to flee to neighboring Uganda alone. Upward of another million have sought refuge elsewhere in the region.

    Catholic bishops in Uganda have urged priests to visit the camps and provide pastoral care.

    Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu encouraged host Catholics living with refugees to embrace and provide them with the solace they need to live dignified lives.

    Archbishop Odama said the local churches in those areas should put in place effective pastoral programs that will enable refugees to draw strength and hope from the living word of God and the sacraments.

    "We note with deep concern the influx of refugees into Uganda following conflicts and economic hardship in some of our neighboring countries, especially South Sudan," he said in a statement during the summer. "We therefore launch an appeal to all our priests from other dioceses to consider volunteering to go and provide pastoral care to the people in the refugee camps."

    The effort involves more than bricks and mortar.

    Father Tonino Pasolini, an Italian Comboni missionary who runs Radio Pacis, a multilingual radio station in northern Uganda, said he was determined to continue bringing a message of peace and reconciliation to the refugees living in the region.

    "Radio Pacis will continue to spread the message of hope among the refugees so that they can reconcile and become peacemakers," he said.

    Protestant churches also have cropped up in various refugee camps to spread a message of hope, peace and reconciliation.

    In the Bidi Bidi refugee camp, which hosts about 270,000 South Sudanese, more than 25 Catholic churches and houses of other faiths have sprung up, according to George Okumu, a Ugandan local government official.

     "The church is helping most refugees here," he said. "They now live in peace despite their ethnic differences. Others have also healed emotionally after they lost their family members at home."

  • Head of Worldwide Anglican Communion Preaches Reconciliation to Kenya’s Political Leaders

    Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) || 06 November 2017

    archbishop welby preaches reconciliation in kenya 2017The key-players in Kenya’s disputed presidential elections – President Uhuru Kenyatta, opposition leader Raila Odinga, and Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga – were present at All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi yesterday as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke of the importance of reconciliation. They were marking the centenary of Kenya’s mother-church, in a service shown live on national television. After the sermon, President Kenyatta said he had heard the archbishop’s call, and shook hands with Mr Odinga – their first meeting since the disputed October election.

    The Supreme Court had ruled that the original election, on 8 August, was “neither transparent or verifiable” and annulled the result. An eve-of-poll legal challenge to the second election, on 26 October, was halted because there wasn’t enough judges available to hear the case – one Supreme Court Justice’s bodyguard had been killed. Raila Odinga urged his National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters to boycott that second poll. A fresh legal challenge to October’s result is expected to be launched today.

    In his hard-hitting sermon, Archbishop Justin said that Kenya should be a model of reconciliation. “This land is the cradle of human beings. Human life started here,” Archbishop Justin said. “You have the gospel, and you have shown us how to live it. Your churches are vigorous and full. You live in harmony between faiths. Can you not show us how to be a country of reconciliation, that we may learn? There is a deep hunger around the world for an example of great differences handled well.”

    He continued: “A Christian people will be reconciled reconcilers. They will deal well with disagreement. They will know how to forgive, how to stand for truth, and not to hate or fight; how to rule and to oppose; and how to make a nation whole and healed.

    “Reconciliation, tragically, is profoundly rare. . . In so many countries, including my own, including this one, there is a need for reconciliation. It must become part of our DNA – part of Kenya’s DNA.”

    He continued: “I am not talking about results and outcomes of elections – that would be interference by me as an ignorant outsider. But I am talking about how disagreements are dealt with, because that is the call of the pastor as has been shown by the churches and many, many others in this land. I am not calling for mediation but for the steady and long-term work of building structures of reconciliation, the capacity to deal with the nation’s challenges in a way that brings peace and a future even when there is deep disagreement.”

    After the sermon, President Kenyatta was at the front of the church to receive a book detailing the history of All Saint’s Cathedral. He took the opportunity to tell Archbishop Justin: “We heard your message of reconciliation. And I hope that every single person in this room has also heard that message.” As he returned to his seat, he paused to shake hands with opposition leader Raila Odinga. He later invited the opposition leader to talks aimed at ending the current political stalemate in the country.

    During his visit, a small Anglican delegation led by Archbishop Welby and the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, held separate private talks with both political leaders. In an interview with Kenya TV’s KTN News Weekend Prime programme, Archbishop Justin declined to discuss the details of his conversations – saying that they were private talks – but he explained that the leaders discussed regional tragedies, including the situation in South Sudan and Somalia, in addition to the situation in Kenya.

    Reconciliation is one of three priority areas for Justin Welby’s ministry, alongside prayer and the religious life, and evangelism and witness. In September he was named as a member of the UN secretary general’s new High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. Asked about the role of the international community in bringing reconciliation to Kenya, he said: “reconciliation is done by the parties involved in the difficulties. You can’t impose it on people, but you can encourage, enable and take away obstacles to it.”

    He said that there was a danger of not getting involved, leaving people feeling abandoned; or getting too involved, leading to people feeling controlled. “There is a middle way, which is about support, encouragement, and help, while saying: ‘you’ve got to sort this out yourself.’”

    The interviewer asked the Archbishop how reconciliation can be brought to the Anglican Communion on matters to do with disputes over sexuality and same-sex relationships. He acknowledged that Anglicans – and Christians in other Churches – have “deep divisions” over it, and said: “Our challenge is to work our way forward, holding on to the truths that are given to us through Jesus and in the Scriptures; and yet never sinking to the level of demonising or hating people because they are homosexual. And living with that tension is something that we are struggling with. It would be idiotic to deny that.”

    He described last month’s Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury, where the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church briefed global Anglican leaders on their decision to perform same-sex marriages, as “a good example.” Archbishop Welby said: “The discussion was extremely robust, but it was a discussion within the family – like a family argument. It was tough, but we continue to love one another.”

    He said that it would be “difficult to come to a single view” within the Anglican Communion on matters of sexuality because “the cultural differences are so great” and because Archbishops of Canterbury didn’t have Pope-like authority to impose doctrine on the Communion.

    “What I do think we can do within the Churches, and the Anglican Communion, globally is to demonstrate that we can love one another and yet disagree very profoundly – what I often call ‘good disagreement’. The worst of all things is just to be like the world and where we disagree, to hate one-another – that is a betrayal of Jesus Christ in the worst way.”

    Source: Anglican Communion News Service…

  • Bishops in both Africa and Europe Worried about “brain drain” from Migration Crisis

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 04 November 2017

    brain drain in africa 2017Between 1980 and 2010, the number of African migrants living in Europe doubled, reaching 30.6 million people, according to a 2014 World Bank Report. That figure represented 3 percent of the continent’s total population. The bishops of both continents have proposed ways to stem the immigration tide – especially the “brain drain” of highly educated Africans – which they say will help the development of the African continent.

    As African and European leaders prepare to meet for the 5th summit for the African Union and the European Union in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on 28 - 29 November 2017, the bishops of both continents are pushing for fair trade measures to be used to help combat the ongoing migration crisis affecting the region.

    Hundreds of thousands of Africans leave their homes for Europe each year, often using smugglers to facilitate their search for a better life.

    According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 22,500 migrants have died or disappeared globally since 2014 - more than half of them perishing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

    “While overall numbers of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean by the eastern route were reduced significantly in 2016 by the EU-Turkey deal, death rates have increased to 2.1 per 100 in 2017, relative to 1.2 in 2016,” reads the IOM report.

    “Part of this rise is due to the greater proportion of migrants now taking the most dangerous route - that across the central Mediterranean - such that 1 in 49 migrants now died on this route in 2016,” the report continues.

    Between 1980 and 2010, the number of African migrants living in Europe doubled, reaching 30.6 million people, according to a 2014 World Bank Report. That figure represented 3 percent of the continent’s total population.

    And the numbers continue to rise. Joe Walker-Cousins, head of the UK’s Libya mission between 2012 and 2014, said in April that as many as one million migrants from across Africa could be on the way to Libya - a major leaving point due to the lack of an effective government - before making the attempt to go to Europe.

    Europeans are not the only ones concerned about this migration flow. African leaders are also worried, since it is often their most industrious and educated citizens leaving: This “brain drain” is perhaps one of Africa’s greatest threats.

    These immigrants often enter Europe legally, and include the 20,000 doctors, university lecturers, engineers and other professionals that the IOM reports have been leaving the continent annually since 1990.

    At the same time, it is estimated nearly $4 billion is spent to employ Westerners to fill positions in Africa that could have been performed by Africans who instead are living abroad.

    The bishops of both continents have proposed ways to stem the immigration tide - especially the “brain drain” - which they say will help the development of the African continent.

    Their proposals were made in a joint statement issued by the Commission of Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union (COMECE) and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

    “We call for justice and equity in trade in goods and services, but especially with regard to natural resources, which are taken each year from Africa. New local industries and sustainable development of agriculture may furthermore help to reduce the stress which forces young people to leave their homeland and diminish the phenomenon generally known as ‘brain drain’,” the bishops said in a statement.

    Noting that migration is intrinsic to human existence, the bishops called on political leaders to treat migrants with dignity and protect them “against criminal exploitation.”

    Adding that African young people - who are most likely to be victims of people traffickers - lack trust in both the political leaders and private institutions on both continents, the bishops called for inclusive policies that will give young people a voice in political processes.

    “To gain or restore trust, participation and a sense of belonging are key. Effective participation demands transparency and accountability from all parties,” they said in the statement.

    The bishops said the African Union-European Union summit should concentrate on youth issues, and seriously address the issue of migration in Africa.

    “We therefore hope for a strong statement by the participants of the AU-EU summit on migration and especially the fight against human trafficking. Furthermore, we would expect the EU to reinforce its commitment for sustainable development programs on the occasion of the summit,” they said.

    The bishops said it will be necessary to give African and European youths the opportunity “to share their hopes and expectations about an adequate environment for sustainable development.”

    They expressed the need for the summit to address the problems of job-creation, the development of local industries, and sustainable development of agriculture, but added such local industries will only make headway if the youths are given the appropriate skills to sustain them.

    “In order to make use of the opportunities in education and training for all, boys and girls need to be strengthened and redesigned in view of the newly needed communication and technological skills,” the statement said.

    “Answers must be given to the youth as they face new ideologies regarding culture, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family, and loss of spirituality in a world where a materialistic culture is dominant.”

    The bishops said they were hopeful the Abidjan summit will be “an occasion for a clearer understanding of each other’s concerns, lead to concrete and helpful decisions, and thus, become an important step towards an authentic partnership between our continents.”

    Source: Crux… 


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


African Continent


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