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  • Pope Begs Journalists to Avoid 'Sins of Communication'

    NPR || By Miles Parks || 16 December 2017

    caution on sins of communicationPope Francis, in speaking to a group of journalists Saturday, addressed the importance of a free and responsible press while also warning against falling "prey to the sins of communication."

    He was speaking to members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies and said that in a field "dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism," reliable information is at a premium.

    "There is an urgent need for reliable information, with verified data and news, which does not aim to amaze and excite, but rather to make readers develop a healthy critical sense, enabling them to ask themselves appropriate questions and reach justified conclusions," he said, according to the official speech log from the Vatican. "There is an urgent need for news communicated with serenity, precision and completeness, with a calm language, so as to favour a fruitful reflection; carefully weighted and clear words, which reject the inflation of allusive, strident and ambiguous speech."

    Sermonizing about the media isn't uncommon territory for this pope. Last year, as NPR's Bill Chappell reported, he called on journalists and media consumers to avoid "the sickness of coprophilia," comparing a love of scandal to an abnormal interest in feces that can include elements of sexual arousal.

    On Saturday, he spoke out about disinformation and slander, a theme he surely will continue next year at his World Communications Day speech. The Vatican announced the theme of the speech to be "fake news and journalism for peace."

    He will give the speech in May, but the text for what he will say is expected to be released in a few weeks.

    "We must not fall prey to the 'sins of communication': disinformation that is, giving just one side of the argument slander, which is sensationalistic, or defamation, looking for outdated and old things, and bringing them to light today," Francis said Saturday. "They are very grave sins, which damage the heart of the journalist and harm people."

    Source: NPR…

  • Maiduguri Diocese Mourns Three Catechists Killed by Boko Haram

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 15 December 2017

    maiduguri diocese mourning 3 catechistsIn Nigeria, three Catechists of the Diocese of Maiduguri died, this week on Monday, when two female suicide bombers detonated their vests outside a Church in Pulka. The bombs killed the three Catechists and injured several Catechumens waiting inside a Church. The Catechumens were waiting to be interviewed in readiness for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Maiduguri’s Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme was due to visit the Church in Pulka on Wednesday, 13 December.

    Catechists Joseph Naga, 56 years had worked as a Catechist for 36 yrs; John Manye 38 for 11 years and a student-Catechist identified as Patrick was 27years.

    According to Fr. Gideon Obasogie of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri, two young women accosted and hugged Joseph, the Catechist. The other two Catechists, John and Patrick, in the vicinity became concerned with what was happening. They rushed to rescue Joseph. As they drew near, the women detonated their bombs.

    “One of our priests, Fr. Emmanuel Jatua, a priest appointed to assist the returnees in Pulka, narrated to us how two suicide bombers- young women of  between 19 and 29 years old- rushed to hug the Head-Catechist Joseph, as he was about to enter the local Church to interview some Catechumens preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Bishop of Maiduguri was scheduled to visit the Pulka community this week on Wednesday, 13 December,” Fr. Gideon told the Africa Service of Vatican Radio. He added, “Little did the Catechists know that the women were suicide bombers. As soon as the other two Catechists drew close, the bombers detonated their devices, killing themselves and the three catechists. Also injured in the explosion were dozens of Catechumens who were inside the Church. Many were rushed to nearby clinics. So far no further deaths have been recorded from this tragic incident,” said Fr. Obasogie.

    The Head-Catechist, Joseph was married and with eleven children while John is survived by a wife and five children. The younger of the three, Patrick was unmarried.

    “The Pulka community was joyfully preparing for the pastoral visit of the Bishop but have now been thrown into this sadness. They are scared, but they say they will stand for Christ and that the death of their Catechists shall not be in vain,” Fr. Obasaogie said.

    Bishop Doeme of Maiduguri Diocese has asked the faithful in the Diocese to pray for the repose of the deceased servants of the Church. He has also appealed for more security to the Pulka Church community, particularly during this Christmas season. 

    The Catholic community in Pulka consists of about 9,680 Catholics. Many Churches in the Diocese of Maiduguri now hold prayers and Holy Mass under the watchful eyes of vigilantes looking out for suicide bombers.

    Gwoza Local Government Authority (LGA) of Borno State in north-east Nigeria is a border town which is about 135 kilometres south-east of Maiduguri. According to reliefweb.int, the large-scale forced displacement of populations has devastated livelihoods in Pulka.

    With the Nigerian army re-gaining control of most of the north-east, populations are slowly starting to return, especially since the start of 2017. Nevertheless, returnees, some of them from neighbouring Cameroon refugee camps, are coming back to a precarious humanitarian and tenuous security situation.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Finding Hope after Four Years of South Sudan Conflict

    Tearfund || By Andrew Horton || 15 December 2017

    finding hope in south sudan 2017As a result of the conflict an estimated four million people have been forced to leave their homes (one in every three of the population). Over the last four years, tens of thousands have been killed. 

    Some parts of the country have recently experienced famine and it’s expected famine could be declared again in early 2018, where half of the population will rely on emergency food aid. Tearfund and our partners are there, and will continue to respond to this complex crisis, working to reach those most in need.  

    As the conflict continues in South Sudan, there is growing need for humanitarian assistance with displacement, food insecurity, malnutrition, armed conflict and economic decline devastating the country.

    Just not enough

    On the outskirts of Aweil in the north-west of the country we meet local farmers Mary and Anthony*. Like most others in their community, the farm that surrounds the family is their main source of food. 

    ‘I plant all kinds of crops – sorghum, maize, okra, pumpkin, hibiscus, and sesame seeds. Sometimes we plant ground nuts if we can get the seeds,’ said Mary. ‘If it rains well and everything is good, then the harvest is enough. But our family is big so it’s only enough to feed us, not enough to sell.’

    In order to make extra money, and pay for school fees, medical fees and other costs of living, Mary and her husband Anthony must spend at least half their day working on other, larger farms where they can earn a wage as casual labourers. 

    However, with the current conflict the local economy, which is dependent on trade with neighbouring Sudan, has been hard hit, and many families are struggling to earn enough money for the regular costs of living. 

    Generous support

    This year, through the generosity of our supporters, Tearfund’s local partners have been able to provide quality seeds, tools and training in the town where Mary and Anthony live. 

    Mary told us how Tearfund helped them: ‘The seeds Tearfund gave us are resistant to pests.

    They also mature much quicker compared to our traditional crops.’

    The okra seeds (a green, edible seed pod widely consumed in South Sudan) provided by Tearfund can mature up to a third faster than normally available varieties. And the sorghum varieties are pest and drought resistant, meaning Mary and Anthony should expect a much more successful harvest.

    They were also given better farming equipment as a part of the project, which makes ploughing and weeding the farmland by hand a much faster, and less labour intensive activity. 

    Thanks to Tearfund supporting local partners in Aweil, Mary and Anthony and other farmers are now equipped with better equipment, better varieties of crops, and most importantly better farming skills through the farmer field school project in their town.

    ‘I want to thank Tearfund for the seeds and tools. People who are unable to afford good seeds have been able to plant good crops,’ said Anthony. ‘I believe the harvest will be better this year than in previous years.’

    Martin Ruppenthal, South Sudan Country Director, concludes: ‘Tearfund is committed to the people of South Sudan and will continue to provide basic needs, but increasingly we will strengthen local partners and churches to deliver and build up more sustainable services and empower the needy.’

    Urgent need remains

    The East Africa Crisis Appeal has seen a great outpouring of generosity from our supporters. Tearfund is one of the member agencies of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which in total has raised £64 million for the East Africa Crisis. 

    Together with our partners, these funds have enabled us to help people like Mary and Anthony, and thousands more. 

    But there is still much to do and more people in desperate need.

    Across East Africa drought and conflict have left 23 million people in urgent need of food, water and medical treatment.

    Source: Tearfund…

  • Pope Francis Urges Release of Six Kidnapped Nigerian Nuns

    Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 17 December 2017

    release of kidnapped nigerian nuns by pope 2017Pope Francis on Sunday prayed for the swift release of six Catholic nuns kidnapped one month ago in Nigeria, joining his appeal to one issued by the bishops’ conference of Africa’s most populous nation.

    “From the heart, I unite myself to the appeal of the bishops of Nigeria for the liberation of the six Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, kidnapped roughly a month ago from the convent in Iguoriakhi,” the pontiff said, referring to the city in southern Nigeria where the sisters resided.

    “I pray with insistence for them, and for all the other people who find themselves in this painful situation,” the pope said. “May they, on the occasion of Christmas, finally return to their homes.”

    The pontiff then led the crowd in praying the Hail Mary for the missing nuns.

    The sisters taken by armed gunmen on Nov. 13 included three professed sisters named Sister Roseline Isiocha, Sister Aloysius Ajayi and Sister Frances Udi, along with three aspirants, meaning young women in the process of formation to join the community.

    During the night of Nov. 13, unknown armed gunmen entered the formation house where the sisters lived, robbed the residence, and then took the six women away using speedboats positioned on a river nearby. According to local press reports, the same gunmen had been in the area for several days, at one point engaging in a gun battle with police that left one police officer dead.

    The Conference of Major Superiors in Nigeria, the country’s main umbrella group for Catholic religious orders, called for setting aside Dec. 2 as a day of prayer for the sisters’ release.

    On Dec. 15, the bishops’ conference issued its own statement, saying that “agents of darkness continue to hold our people to ransom through kidnapping, armed robbery and other dehumanizing activities.”

    “We are saddened and pained by the continued detention of our daughters, the Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, who were kidnapped almost a month ago in their convent in Iguoriakhi, near Benin City.”

    “We appeal to those holding them to please heed our appeal and immediately release them,” the bishops said.

    The appeals for the six sisters come after three other kidnapped Catholic nuns, in that case from an order called the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy, were released on Nov. 14 after two days in captivity.

    Though no one has claimed responsibility for taking the six sisters, kidnapping for ransom has become a revenue stream for a variety of armed criminal groups in parts of Nigeria.

    The setting for Francis’s remarks on Sunday was his weekly noontime Angelus address. Coming just before the Christmas holidays, the pontiff today blessed the bambinelli, meaning the statues of the baby Jesus to be placed in nativity sets, brought by children from Roman parishes and oratories.

    Sunday brought blue skies, sun and mild temperatures after a period of rainy and cold weather in Rome, so the Piazza San Pietro was packed for the Angelus.

    “Dear children, I thank you for your joyous presence and I wish you a merry Christmas!” the pope said, adding extemporaneously that he was happy to see their banner saying, “There’s always a place for you,” saying that’s what a real place of prayer means.

    “When you pray at home, in front of the nativity set with your families, allow yourselves to be attracted by the tenderness of the Baby Jesus, born poor and fragile amid us, in order to give us his love,” Francis said.

    “This is the true Christmas,” the pope said. “If we take away Jesus, what’s left of Christmas? An empty holiday,” adding, “Do not take Jesus out of Christmas! Jesus is Christmas, he’s its true center.”

    Francis wished the children a “good journey towards the Christmas of Jesus.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Catholic Priest and Activist Points Finger at Government in Peacekeeper Attack in Congo

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

    catholic priest in dr congo blames govt un deathsXaverian missionary Father Loris Cattani has put the blame for an attack on UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the government.

    The UN’s MONUSCO mission said the attack that took place on December 7, 2017 in the North Kivu province was carried out by suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF. The attack killed 14 peacekeepers from Tanzania and five Congolese soldiers.

    Cattani, a member of the Peace Network for Congo, challenged the claim: “Those who wanted the assault are probably those who have been asking for the reduction or cancellation of the UN mission for months. That is to say, the government,” the priest told the news agency Fides.

    He said he wasn’t convinced the ADF had the ability to attack a UN base, given the level of coordination in the assault.

    “The UN says it was a well prepared and organized assault. First, they hit the military camp’s communications center, preventing the Blue Helmets from communicating with their fellow soldiers to request reinforcements and helicopters from the other bases. Some of the assailants seen wore uniforms of the Congolese regular army,” Cattani said.

    There is a Congolese military base close by, and the solders from this base frequently visit the UN compound for food rations.

    Cattani said the circumstances of the attack must be fully investigated.

    On December 11, UN troops in the DRC paid their last respects to the fallen Tanzanian soldiers in a ceremony near Beni, in North Kivu province.

    “The death of our Tanzanian friends shall be written in the history of the Congolese nation, in tribute to their sacrifice,” said Congolese General Leon Mushale.

    “They will remain in the hearts of the Congolese people.”

    The UN’s deputy special representative for the DRC, David Gressly, said the “Blue Helmets will continue to protect the people of Beni,” despite the deadliest attack on UN peacekeepers in the DRC since the force was deployed to the troubled country in 2010.

    The DRC has always been afflicted by political violence, but there were renewed hopes for the first peaceful transition of power since independence, when the country’s Catholic bishops brokered a peace deal between the opposition and the party of President Joseph Kabila on December 31, 2016.

    Kabila took over from his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila, who was assassinated in 2001.In 2006, an election confirmed him in his post. He was re-elected for a second mandate in 2011.

    However, Kabila’s failure to step down after the end his second term in December 2016, as mandated by the constitution, sparked protests in cities across the DRC, leaving at least 40 people dead.

    The New Year’s Eve Agreements called for power sharing between Kabila’s party and opposition parties in the build up to a presidential election at the end of December 2017, in which Kabila would not be a candidate.

    Going by the country’s constitution, Kabila was scheduled to leave office by December 19, 2016, after the end of his second and supposedly last term.

    But that deadline came and went with Kabila still in power, and the election was postponed to December 23, 2018.

    In a statement Nov. 24, the bishops reminded Kabila that he was the “guarantor of the constitution,” and emphasized the importance to not to delay elections any longer.

    “We urge you to reassure the public opinion by a public statement that you will not be a candidate for your own succession,” the statement said. “We are convinced that this would contribute to easing political tensions.”

    The bishops said the “political imbroglio and the suffering of the population which results from it exceed the tolerable threshold,” adding that they were “deeply disappointed” that the same political tensions in the past persist even today.

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

    After the country’s electoral commission, CENI, announced the long-deferred election for December 2018, Kabila’s party, the Parti du Peuple pour La Reconstruction et La Democratie (PPRD), welcomed the news, saying that it marked a point of no return for moving forward the electoral process.

    But the opposition has said the announcement is a distraction, and is pushing for the departure of Kabila this month, in accordance with the New Year’s Eve Agreement.

    As the political bickering persists, the bishops have sought to reassure the Congolese people that “the New Year’s Eve Agreement is not dead.”

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

    Source: Crux… 

  • Bishops Condemn Selling of Nigerians into Slavery in Libya

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Peter Ajayi Dada || 14 December 2017

    selling nigerians into slavery in lybia condemnedA trio of Nigerian bishops condemned the enslavement of Nigerians who traveled to Libya for work, calling the practice a horrific abuse of human dignity.

    Bishop Joseph Bagobiri of Kafanchan, retired Archbishop Alaba Job of Ibadan and retired Bishop Julius Adelakun of Oyo called on the Nigerian government to act on behalf of Nigerian nationals in Libya and elsewhere who have been victimized by modern-day slave traders.

    They also suggested the government discourage Nigerians from traveling to other countries for work because of dangers posed by the illicit labor market.

    Their comments came after Nigerian officials had repatriated 3,000 Nigerians from Libya through Dec. 4 following reports of inhumane treatment in the North Africa nation.

    Bishop Bagobiri expressed concern that Nigerians were willing to pay as much as $1,400 to travel to Libya and other countries to seek "greener pastures."

    "If each of such individuals had invested these amounts positively and creatively in Nigeria in viable business opportunities, they would have become employers of labor," Bishop Bagobiri told Catholic News Service. Instead, he said, they are "subjected to slavery and other forms of inhuman treatment by Libyans."

    The bishop also urged government officials to correct misperceptions among young people that opportunities were better elsewhere.

    "The Nigerian government should make them realize that there are more prospects for survival in Nigeria than we think exist in Europe and other places," Bishop Bagobiri said.

    "In the midst of so much wealth and resources we have in this country," he added, "Nigerians should not become beggarly and only decide to fly out of Nigeria in search of the elusive greener pastures."

    Bishop Adelakun echoed Bishop Bagobiri in urging the government to encourage young people to unite to build the Nigeria of their dreams through hard work and perseverance. He called for the government to provide job opportunities for youth, saying that would discourage them from leaving the country.

    "Many Nigerians are traveling to the developed world to enjoy the development put in place by their governments, but we have refused to develop our own country," he told CNS. "Let us start to develop ours to make it attractive and conducive for living, so that foreign nationals will want to come."

    For Archbishop Job, the selling of Nigerians into slavery was "very horrific and really bad."

    While acknowledging that there was nothing bad about relocating to another country, he warned young people to be aware of the conditions and challenges they are likely to face elsewhere as foreign nationals.

    He decried the mistreatment of Nigerians that in some cases had led to the loss of life and called on the government to defend Nigerian nationals in Libya as a step to end slave trading.

  • In Kenya’s Lodwar Diocese, “last stop before Hell,” Matthew 25 is a Mission Statement

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 12 December 2017

    lodwar as last stop before hellIn the northern Kenyan region bordering South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia, there’s a 30,000 square mile Catholic diocese once defined by a British travel writer as the “last stop before Hell.” A desert region, it’s plagued by drought, extreme heat, ethnic fighting, chronic poverty and hunger, and so isolated that political prisoners in the British colonial era were sent there to be forgotten.

    The Diocese of Lodwar includes both the indigenous Turkana people and the Daassanach, an ethnic group originally from Ethiopia. Both practice a traditional pastoralist lifestyle of herding cattle, sheep and goats, so they have to move around over vast areas in search of grazing land. They’ve been stealing each other’s food for years, and the presence of guns in the area has turned their rivalry deadly.

    Leading the church in this periphery, among the world’s most poignant peripheries, is Bishop Dominic Kimengich, originally from Nakuru, some 75 miles northwest of Kenya’s capital city Nairobi. When he was appointed auxiliary bishop here in 2010, the archbishop who once ordained him a priest jokingly asked, “What did you do [wrong] to get sent there?”

    Yet this Opus Dei prelate, who spent four years in Rome during his priestly formation, didn’t question the appointment. Nor did he hesitate when his predecessor’s retirement was accepted nine months later, and he was appointed the new bishop.

    “I had no illusions, I knew it was going to be tough,” he told Crux on a blazing hot Friday morning in early December. “But the pope, the Church, asked me to come here, so I accepted the challenge.”

    “You can’t last here if you’re not willing to sacrifice,” Kimerngich said about what ministry is like in such an environment. “When we have a new deacon, we’re very up front about it, making it very clear there are no resources whatsoever.”

    Priests working in Lodwar receive no salaries. All they get is a monthly Mass stipend that works out to $1,200 a year, much of which they invest in gas for their vehicles to reach remote outstations, food for their residences, and helping the many people who look to them for help to purchase meager supplies of food, medicine, clothing, and other basic needs.

    It’s been over six years since Kimengich came to Lodwar, and every day he said he could wake up overwhelmed by the weight that lies on his shoulders. Yet, he said, he’s found a way of handling the pressure.

    “I know it’s not my work, I’m only a tool. I’ll do my best and He [pointing up] will do the rest,” he said.

    This trust in God, he said, has been with him since the beginning of his priestly ministry, and he says he was never overcome by the feeling that he couldn’t move forward, or that whatever problem he was facing that day, he’d have to deal with it alone.

    Problems, however, abound, and they’re straight out of the Gospel: Feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, visiting the imprisoned.

    For instance, last year Kimengich was saying Mass to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a boarding school run by the diocese near the border with Ethiopia. Students from both the Turkana and Dassanach tribes attend the school and their parents attended the liturgy, under the assumption that guns were not allowed.

    However, members of the Turkana, “probably after colluding with the doorman” who was also of their tribe, managed to bring guns into the church and opened fire, killing one of the Ethiopians.

    “We failed as a Church,” Kimengich said. “They came thinking they were safe, but they ended up being scared, crying in one of the classrooms.”

    The perpetrators managed to run away, “by the grace of God,” the bishop said  — not because the killers escape justice, but because their absence prevented a further bloodbath. The man who pulled the trigger, Kimengich said, was trying to avenge 40 Kenyans who’d been killed by the Ethiopians in 2012.

    The bishop then took the body of the victim back to the Dassanch tribe, while the rest of the Ethiopians remained under police protection on the other side of the border. Had the police not intervened, he said, “we would not have come out alive.”

    During the funeral of the man, one of his daughters told the others not to cry, because sooner or later they would have their revenge.

    The Catholic Church arrived in Lodwar, today a city of roughly 50,000 people, in 1961. Moved by a humanitarian crisis caused by a serious drought and resulting famine, two Irish missionary priests from the St. Patrick Society relocated to the area.

    “The priests came to help organize the aid, and since then the people of Lodwar have associated the Church with assistance,” he said. With temperatures that can easily reach 130 degrees, he said “people were basically naked” when the missionaries arrived.

    The most urgent needs back then were water and education, and they largely remain so today. After the original missionaries helped improve the water supply, the diocese’s first bishop focused much of his attention on schools, seeing it as the best investment.

    Kimengich and his priests are once again tending to much of the people’s basic needs, doing what’s known as “primary evangelization,” meaning carrying the Gospel to people who’ve never heard it before.

    Kimengich knows full well that some Turkana are drawn to the church not for its spiritual message, but its capacity to deliver concrete aid in times of need. Still, he’s sanguine about the situation.

    “Many come to Mass for food, but when there’s nothing, they still come,” the bishop said. “If they come to Mass and there’s nothing, they’re going to die. We always have it clear that we are about more than food. Jesus fed the crowd, but he also challenged them.”

    Among many projects the prelate has in mind is to build a Catholic hospital on land they’ve already acquired. The facility will be capable of providing treatment that the one local medical center cannot treat, including diseases such as cancer.

    Though the existing institution has an X-Ray machine, if a patient needs a CT scan, the closest hospital with the equipment is in Nairobi. In addition, the situation is so dire that most of the patients going to the current hospital can’t afford an X-Ray, which costs about $3.

    Another key concern is the massive Kakuma refugee camp, currently hosting some 200,000 refugees and located within the diocese. It was opened by the United Nations in 1992, with the arrival of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” Today, it also hosts refugees from Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia.

    Many of those people have fled violence, while others are what the bishop described as “education refugees,” meaning people who settle in the camps because they have better access to schools, lodging and even health care.

    The diocese has a parish in Kakuma, and the bishop visits it several times a year to celebrate confirmations, on International Refugee Day, and for the graduation day of a virtual education program run by the Jesuit Refugee Service.

    Visiting the camp, Kimengich said, “touches you in a very deep way, seeing how grateful they are to what they receive from the Church, helps you realize how fortunate you are to be able to help those suffering.”

    Therefore, in the “last stop before Hell,” the Catholic Church strives quite literally to answer Christ’s famous appeal: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing the naked, looking after the sick, and welcoming the foreigner, are akin to a mission statement.

    Living in Lodwar, Kimengich said, “is living the Gospel.”

    “Matthew 25 is not theoretical here …. this is putting the faith into practice.”

    Source: Crux…

  • Dominicans in South Africa Term High Court Ruling against President Zuma “a victory for the people”

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 14 December 2017

    state capture in south africa applaudedThe Dominicans in South Africa have expressed support for the High Court ruling against President Jacob Zuma’s attempt to block his being investigated for corruption terming the judgement “landmark” and “victory for the people.”

    On Wednesday, December 13, President Zuma lost a corruption-related court case when the High Court in Pretoria gave him 30 days to set up inquiry into state capture and to personally pay the costs of his failed attempt to block the release of the report.

    “The landmark judgement handed down by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday is a victory for the people of South Africa, the former public protector and the Dominicans who initiated this investigation,” the Dominicans have stated in a press release shared with CANAA.

    During the ruling, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo described Zuma as reckless and an abuser of the judicial process who showed disregard for the constitutional duties of the Public Protector.

    “In 2015 the Dominicans in South Africa (an order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church founded by St. Dominic in 1216) were the first complainants to approach the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, requesting that she investigate State Capture,” the Dominicans’ press statement begins.

    President Zuma launched the application on the eve of the release of the report last year on grounds that he had not been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him.

    At the same time, the Catholic Church leadership in South Africa has also expressed support for the High Court ruling and described the judgement as having been long overdue.

    The spokesperson of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria made known the Catholic Church leaders’ sentiments in a statement shared with CANAA on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

    “What a waste of time and money, what a disgrace for the president should play around with the South African people and the courts for such a long time before finally been led to justice,” Archbishop Slattery said.

    “We applaud the former Public Protector and the High Court in finally ferreting out a means to arrive at the truth,” Archbishop Slattery said on behalf of the Catholic Church leadership and added, “The President well deserves to pay costs and the Catholic feels that he can do so.”

    Below is the press statement by the Dominicans in South Africa


    14 December 2017

    Responding to the North Gauteng High Court Ruling against President Jacob Zuma

    In 2015 the Dominicans in South Africa (an order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church founded by St. Dominic in 1216) were the first complainants to approach the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, requesting that she investigate State Capture. The Dominicans had become increasingly aware of the growing allegations that South Africa’s hard-fought democracy was being eroded by those who were supposed to protect it, including the president and other state officials close to him.      

    Advocate Madonsela, responding to the complainants, launched an investigation. Her report recommended that a judicial inquiry be appointed, headed by a judge, because the president was conflicted.

    President Zuma, who did not cooperate with the public protector’s investigation, objected to the instruction. He arrogantly argued that only he, as president, has the power to make such decisions. He said that he would take the report on review. He has since then, done nothing else but deceive and abuse the country’s judicial system to prevent this important commission from being set up.

    The landmark judgement handed down by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday is a victory for the people of South Africa, the former public protector and the Dominicans who initiated this investigation. Judge Dunstan Mlambo said that the remedial action ordered by Advocate Madonsela was “reasonable, rational and appropriate.”

    Judge Mlambo further confirmed the complainant’s suspicions saying that the president had a “personal conflict” and this presents an “insurmountable obstacle for [him] and lends credence” to the public protector’s recommendation. He also said that the president’s review application was a “non-starter and the president was seriously reckless in pursuing it as he has done.” He said that the president was “ill-advised” and “had no justifiable basis to simply ignore the impact of corruption on the South African public.” It was precisely the impact of corruption on ordinary South Africans, especially the poor, that led the Dominicans to request an investigation.

    In his judgement Mlambo said that President Zuma’s conduct “falls far short of the expectation on him as the head of state to support institutions of democracy.” The complainants concern, therefore, that South Africa’s democracy is not in safe and trustworthy hands and is being undermined is a reality that needs to be investigated.

    Zuma’s refusal to cooperate with the law and follow the recommendations of the public protector reveals yet again that he has respect neither for his office nor the people of South Africa. Judge Mlambo noted that he had “an opportunity to confront and address the problem” but failed to do so.

    The judgement in the high court damningly said that President Zuma was “vindicating his personal interest when initiating this litigation,” and ordered that Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s remedial actions be upheld.  The Jesuit Institute supports the court’s decision and agrees that this must be done so that a credible investigation can be carried out.

    The Jesuit Institute South Africa commends the complainants for approaching the public protector in the interest of truth and the common good, key principles in Catholic Social Teaching.

    The Institute further commends the judiciary for being a courageous moral compass. South Africans can be proud of our judiciary which has never failed to hold those who are meant to serve the people of the country accountable when leadership have shown, over and over, that they have no intention of being honest or of service.

    We have noted the ANC’s response to the judgement and call on the party, once and for all, to act decisively against its president who has not only damaged the party’s reputation but also abused the country’s justice system and caused harm to the nation. President Jacob Zuma has proved, once again, that he does not have the integrity to lead. He is a compromised man whose dishonesty is a burden to South Africa. He is dangerous because he is either ignorant of the law or chooses, deliberately, to snub the law. He and his cronies can no longer be shielded.


  • A Week in Kenya Issues Challenge to American Takes on the Church

    Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 10 December 2017

    kenya issues challenge to american churchAs a broad generalization, it’s probably accurate to say that on-the-ground experience of the developing world often issues a fairly stiff challenge to the way Americans think about things, including the Catholic Church.

    Think Catholicism is in decline? Visit much of Africa and parts of Asia, where the biggest headache is keeping pace with breakaway growth. Think Christians can’t be at risk in places where they’re a majority? Consider Latin America, where Mexico and Colombia routinely rank as the most dangerous spots on earth to be a Catholic priest.

    Roman Catholicism today is a far-flung global religion with 1.3 billion followers, more than two-thirds of whom live outside the West. In the 21st century, considering other perspectives in thinking about the Church isn’t just a courtesy, it’s a survival strategy.

    Earlier this year, I made that point after visiting Lebanon. The same truth was reinforced this week as my Crux colleague Inés San Martín and I were in Kenya, visiting Mombasa, the country’s second city on the gorgeous Indian Ocean coast, and Lodwar, an impoverished and scorching hot town of 50,000 in the largely desert north and the hub for the pastoralist and still largely isolated Turkana people.

    It was a dazzling, exhausting, and revealing experience, and far too multi-layered for a quick synthesis. Nevertheless, here are three initial take-aways.

    Left v. right

    Suppose I told you I know a Kenyan prelate who’s devoted his life to serving the most impoverished area in a country known for chronic poverty, who cares deeply about the environment and the impact of climate change on matters such as access to safe drinking water, and who’s risked his life to act as a peacemaker between competing tribal groups in massive refugee camps.

    Many Americans probably would say, “Sounds like a real liberal.”

    Now suppose I said I’d met a Kenyan prelate who belongs to Opus Dei, who puts a strong emphasis on seriousness about priestly life, who thinks the spiritual basics and bringing people to the faith are vitally important, and who has little interest in what’s bubbling on the theological avant-garde. The reaction probably would be, “That’s a classic conservative.”

    All of the above is true of Bishop Dominic Kimengich of Lodwar, and he’s hardly alone. He laughed gently when I asked him if he thinks of himself as “liberal” or “conservative,” looking at me and eventually saying: “Here, those categories just don’t apply.”

    Or, take Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde of Mombasa.

    One minute, Kivuva will brag about a recent film produced by the archdiocese defending traditional marriage, and the next he’ll light up discussing the latest efforts to promote inter-religious harmony and peace. That’s a keenly progressive cause in Mombasa, a religiously mixed city in which Catholics, Muslims, Pentecostals and Evangelicals, followers of traditional religions, and Hindus all have significant footprints, and all today are under the shadow of cross-border threats from the Al-Shabaab terrorist group in neighboring Somalia.

    In Kivuva’s eyes, there’s nothing predestined about religious conflict. The real battle lines, he says, don’t run between Muslims and Christians, but between moderates and radicals - and, Kivuva warned, there are radical instincts in all traditions.

    Asked if he ever gets frustrated at the way Westerners tend to read the African church through their own eyes, he laughs, saying that the crises and needs he’s trying to address every day, both for his Catholic flock and the city as a whole, are far too urgent to leave much left over for worrying about how Westerners perceive what he’s doing.

    However, he adds this: “This is a very different world from the West, and ways of seeing things have to adjust … if you ask me whether I’m a ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ I’d have to say, ‘Both’.”


    By reputation, Africa is often considered a fairly male-dominated environment, and so’s the Catholic church here. Yet our experience this week suggests that much of the future of African Catholicism depends on its women.

    In Mombasa, we visited the Holy Family Centre at St. Martin’s Catholic Church, which abuts the largest slum in the city. Though the parish doesn’t currently have a school, it’s got a center serving children outside school hours and during breaks, and it sees the full gamut of challenges - alcohol and drug addiction, victims of human trafficking and prostitution, kids abandoned or marginalized because they’re HIV-positive, and just basic poverty.

    The center is run by a member of the Daughters of Divine Love, an order that’s been serving in the parish since 2004, named Sister Pauline Andrew. When we arrived on Tuesday, she’d organized a pumped-up reception featuring traditional songs, dances and dress.

    The center draws children from several of the tribes that make up the city’s complex ethnic patchwork, making it a sort of laboratory experiment in co-existence.

    Sister Pauline has bigger plans, hoping to see the center grow into a full-blown primary school served by eight members of her order, who would live in a nearby convent she’s also working on getting built. At the moment, she and another nun commute 14 kilometers every day back and forth to work at the parish, and Sister Pauline said that won’t work when the school is up and running.

    Standing with Sister Pauline where the second floor of the new convent is supposed to go as soon as she has the money, I asked why she’s chosen to do such bone-crushing, emotionally draining work. She looks up from the architect’s plans as if the question were impertinent, says simply “this is where God wants me,” and launches back into a detailed explanation of her plans to model small-scale, sustainable urban agriculture by using land at the school and convent to grow crops.

    Meanwhile in Lodwar, I visited the Bethany Guest House and an adjacent formation center for aspiring nuns, members of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of the Immaculate Conception, an order founded under Kimengich.

    There, I met Sister Giovanna, who runs the formation center, and Sister Magdalene, who heads the guest house. They spoke passionately about forming the next generation of women religious to go out and evangelize, teach and serve. They also described their aim to teach these young girls trade skills for self-reliance, so they can pass them on to others.

    Sister Magdalene walked us through the formation center, explaining what’s been done already and what will need to be done in a hurry. Here too, growth is one main challenge - they’ve got five young women in formation now, with another eight expected to arrive next year.

    Sister Magdalene, too, projected a calm determination when asked about all the different ways such an undertaking could go off the rails.

    “This is what the church needs from me,” she said of seeing the effort through - as if the church needing something, and her then delivering it, is axiomatic.

    Say what you want about these women and their dreams, but one thing is for sure: Terms such as “subservient,” “uncritical” and “second-class citizen” simply don’t apply.

    Small input, big results

    In a world clogged by appeals for charitable causes, it’s natural to wonder from time to time how many of these outfits actually make a difference on the ground. Anyone who knows the Church in a place such as Kenya, however, can tell you that when one of these charitable groups works well, it doesn’t take much to achieve big results.

    Several international Catholic organizations are involved in supporting the work of the Church in Mombasa and Lodwar, including Miseror in Germany, Missio Aachen, the Pontifical Missions Society, and others. Our trip, however, was sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need, a papal foundation devoted to supporting the persecuted and suffering church around the world, and so it’s their footprint here that’s clearest to me.

    We saw any number of projects Aid to the Church in Need is backing, from convents and schools to formation centers for nuns. One that left an especially deep impression was their support for paying Mass stipends to priests in Lodwar, where priests have to have the Marine spirit to survive - this is a poor, forgotten, chronically under-developed place that covers vast distances, and if you’re not willing to literally go the extra mile, you won’t make it.

    Much of the work of this diocese is primary evangelization, bringing the Gospel for the very first time to the isolated, pastoralist Turkana people. The rest is consumed with the realities of poverty, water shortages, drought and famine, and ethnic conflict. It’s an unforgiving, if also oddly compelling place, and the people here look to priests not just as pastors, but as ombudsmen to whom all of life’s problems can be directed.

    We were privileged to get to know several of Lodwar’s priests this week, and at one stage, over lunch, our conversation turned to money. I said I’d heard that Aid to the Church in Need helped cover the Mass stipends, and wondered how much they were.

    Father Isaiah Ajiri, who came from Uganda 15 years ago to serve in Lodwar and now works in the diocesan pastoral center in addition to assisting in the cathedral parish and taking care of several remote “outstations,” told me it usually works out to about $100 a month, so about $1,200 a year.

    Casually, I asked if that’s intended to be some pocket money for the priest, on top of whatever his basic income is. Ajiri and Father Joseph Ekalimon, the vicar general of the diocese, hesitated, not quite sure what I was asking.

    “Let’s put it this way,” I said. “What’s the priest salary in this diocese?”

    Ajiri and Ekalimon burst out laughing, and eventually Ekalimon recovered enough to explain there is no priest salary here - that $1,200 from the stipends is a priest’s total annual income, and it’s expected to cover not only his needs but those of people who come to him for help.

    All in, Aid to the Church in Need’s share of the bill for the stipends each year comes to about $60,000, making it hardly the largest line-item in most organizations’ annual budgets. For what they buy in a place like Lodwar, however, those dollars pack an impressive punch.

    Changing the world, in other words, doesn’t always have to be about shock and awe. Sometimes, it can be about helping a dedicated missionary priest put one foot in front of another.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Cardinal Napier of South Africa Encourages Bishops to Listen to Young People

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 11 December 2017

    cardinal napier wants bishops to listen to young peopleSouthern Africa’s Mini World Youth Day (MWYD) in Durban, South Africa, ended Sunday with South Africa’s Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier describing it as a great success.

    “Great joy I can tell you at what we have been able to accomplish,” Cardinal Napier remarked when he spoke to Fr. Phemelo Martin Magibisela, the Vatican Radio correspondent at the Durban event. 

    Cardinal Napier commended Pope Francis for calling next year’s Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, “Youth, faith and vocational discernment.” According to the Cardinal, Pope Francis wants Bishops of the world to listen to young people.

    “The main thing that Pope Francis is asking us to do, as Bishops, is to ‘listen to the young people.’ I think he (Pope Francis) is a wise man. He is not saying listen to the words they are saying, but listen to what is coming out of their hearts.  Very often the youth will say something with their mouth, but in actual fact, they are looking for something deeper than what they are saying,” Cardinal Napier said. 

    The Cardinal further said that apart from the questionnaire already answered and sent to Rome for next year’ Synod, the delegation from Southern Africa will take to the Synod the lived experiences encountered in Durban.

    “What we have seen and have heard (as Bishops) from the young people here is what our delegates (to the Synod on the Youth ) will take with full conviction because they know that what they will be saying is backed by the full experience lived during this MWYD,” said Cardinal Napier.

    Four thousand young people from the dioceses of South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique converged on South Africa’s third largest city of Durban for the Mini World Youth Day which took place from 6 December to 10 December. The MWYD had as its theme the Blessed Virgin Mary's Magnificat: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name."

    Explaining the rationale behind the MWYD, Cardinal Napier described the youth as the future of the Church. 

    “All Bishops realise that young people are a key part of the Church. That's where the formation of the future is going to be carried forward. They are the formation of the future. It's like a forest. Unless it has saplings or young trees, it going to die out. Jesus said his Church has to be here forever. We want to keep driving the Church forward. Young people are naturally the place where that growth will take place,” Cardinal Napier said.

    Source: Vatican Radio… 

  • If Singing is Praying Twice, these Kenya Kids Set New Prayer Records on Tuesday

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 06 December 2017

    kenya kids set new prayer records in songBombolulu, an impoverished neighborhood in Mombasa, Kenya, contains one of the city’s largest slums, with some 75,000 souls crammed in wood and tin homes that can stagger the imagination in terms of squalor.

    At the center of it all lies a small Catholic church, which is often like a heart pumping blood into the community, above all by tending to its children. Many of these young people face deep scars, ranging from abuse and abandonment to being born with HIV or having been rescued from human trafficking networks, and would seem to have every reason in the world for feeling either rage or despair, and perhaps both.

    And yet, you wouldn’t have known any of that based on a visit my Crux colleague John L. Allen Jr. and I paid Tuesday afternoon to St. Martin Catholic Church, where 150 children put up a wildly raucous, enthusiastic and upbeat welcome for two strangers they’ll probably never see again in their lives.

    Taken altogether, the scene was a reminder of the paradox that sometimes where life is the toughest, the heart has to grow even larger just to make it through.

    Wearing distinctive dress reflecting membership in the Pontifical Missionary Childhood, the Legion of Mary or even a group of altar boys, the children danced and sang passionately, both in English and Kikuyu, a language belonging to one of the largest of Kenya’s more than 40 tribes.

    “God has created us to help in His Creation,” is the loose translation to one of the songs, according to Sister Pauline Andrew, a member of the Sisters of Divine Love and arguably the prime mover behind the children’s center.

    “He’s given us eyes to see what he’s created, a mouth to speak the message of God, and feet to go give witness wherever he needs us,” she translated. The children who sang the song weren’t older than four or five, and not only did they belt out the number in almost pitch-perfect fashion, but they also gyrated and danced - at one stage, drawing wary Crux staff into the show.

    These kids attend the Holy Family Center, run by Andrew and another member of her community. They’ve been there since 2004, traveling some 10 miles every day for over a decade until, with the help of the global papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) they were able to begin building a convent.

    Physically, the location is really just around the corner from the church, though crude unpaved roads running over decades of neglect make it seem longer by car.

    Currently the two sisters live in what’s been built of the convent, but since it’s missing the entire second floor and a roof, it’s sometimes an adventure. When heavy rains come for instance, water filters downstairs.

    The nuns hope the site will be the foundation for a new Catholic primary school, designed to serve the children of the parish - and, by extension the slums. They’ve paid $16,000 for the land with the help of members of their congregation serving in the United States, and they estimate the rest of the work will run to around $60,000 - again, with some of it coming from Aid to the Church in Need.

    They’ve also received help from other Catholic aid agencies, “older siblings” such as the Pontifical Mission Societies (a group under the direct jurisdiction of the pope), but they say much is still needed to guarantee completion.

    “We’re here to serve Christianity,” Andrew said. In Bombolulu, that’s some 3,000 people, who live in a Muslim-majority neighborhood in the only major city in Kenya where Christians are not a strong majority.

    The day center serves children who range in age from 1 to 14, primarily striving to give them a Christian formation, which also serves the double purpose of keeping them off the streets. The church is also staffed by two Marist priests, who are working on launching a secondary school to be ready when the sister’s first cohort reaches the right age.

    Beyond singing and dancing, the children recited several Bible verses, always beginning with “I have a memory verse for you,” and the actual passage.

    Oftentimes, Catholic conversation in various parts of the world can pivot on whether you’re happy or frustrated with Rome. But in Mombasa on one joyous (and incredibly muggy) Tuesday afternoon, the focus wasn’t Rome but St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.

    “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking and darkened in their foolish hearts,” went the passage from chapter one of Paul’s letter cited by one of the children. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.”

    In the classic Gospel sense of the term, the Kenyan kids we saw on Tuesday are the opposite of fools. Their wisdom lies in the fact that, better than most, they know what suffering and pain is all about, yet they’ve chosen to glorify God through singing, hence as St. Augustine said, praying twice.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Catholic TV of Nigeria Wins Big at SIGNIS Film Fest

    Daily Trust || By Adie Vanessa Offiong || 09 December 2017

    ctv of nigeria wins big at signis fest 2017The Catholic Television of Nigeria (CTV) stole the show last weekend in Enugu, at the maiden edition of the SIGNIS Nigeria Film Festival.

    The two and a half year’s work that went into the production of its nine-track music video album, ‘AFRICA CREDO,’paid off. It beat 18 other contestants to win five awards for Best Video, Best Audio, Best Cinematography, Best Music Video and Best Film Director.

    Following a call for entries from October 10 to November 15, for films, documentaries and music videos, were submitted from across Nigeria for the competition, to the Directorate of Communication, Catholic Secretariat Abuja and to the Department of Theatre and Film Studies, University of Port Harcourt. 

    Chairman of the jury, Rev. Dr. Innocent Uwah, in an interview with Daily Trust said, “We were looking out for works that effectively communicated hope, faith and could improve gospel values in communication. 

    “When the entries were screened, AFRICAN CREDO stood out for its aesthetics, cinematography and also for the fact that it applied the rudiments of audio visual communication. The sound was well synchronised and the camera angles told stories. The cinematography was done with a lot of expertise.”

    Director of the Abuja-based TV station, Rev. Dr. Patrick Tor Alumuku told Daily Trust that he was overwhelmed by the prizes and was grateful to the judges and organisers, for them. 

    Alumuku who said the festival was a commendable initiative especially as it aims to promote human and spiritual values, spoke about how the album came to be.

    He said, “When we began CTV and contemplated the possibility of a 24-hour channel, we knew we would need Catholic music which isn’t common when you consider something with broadcast quality. We then decided to produce our own and wanted to be sure it would be a laudable piece of work that would give our audience an idea of where we were headed.

    “We worked on principles because we were concerned about the impact it would have on the viewer and so we invested a great deal in our use of the camera, quality of sound and picture. I also think the large number of vocalists added to our advantage.”

    Speaking at the event, Nollywood veteran, Chief Pete Edochie praised the work of the organisers and took a jab at the clergyman saying the ceremony should have been called ‘Alumuku’s festival.’ He said it was almost certain that each time the nominees were called out, Fr. Alumuku would receive the award. 

    Edochie also praised SIGNIS for establishing a film festival in Enugu, where Nollywood was born.

    Credo is the Latin word for ‘I believe’ - a chant Catholics sing at every Sunday Mass. “It is a sing along, with beautiful rhythm and lyrics so much so that even the Pentecostals among the production crew members soon began to sing it,” the priest said.

    Explaining the idea behind the album’s title, which is also the name of the theme track, the clergy said listening to Africans from all over the world at an African Mass in the Diocese of Southwark, as they sang the song, further convinced him about christening it so. “This event made me realise it would be acceptable to all Africans,” he said, adding that, “the other eight songs are some of the most popular trending songs in the church not only in Nigeria but also in many African countries.”

    The award-winning AFRICAN CREDO was brought to life by the no less than 500-man team with the lead vocalist, Sir Jude Nnam supported by choristers of the Catholic Archdiocese Choir of Abuja which is made up of members choirs of all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Abuja. 

    Alumuku dedicated the prizes to John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Nnam and staff of the Department of Social Communications in the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja as well as those of the CTV.

    For team CTV which has begun the test-transmission of its 24-hour channel the wins are only an indication of the quality of its production which will soon become its trademark in this new era of digital broadcasting in Nigeria.

    SIGNIS, the organizers of the event, is the International Media Association for Catholics. It was founded on November 21, 2001 from the merger of Unda (International Catholic Association for Radio and Television) and OCIC (International Catholic Organization for Cinema and Audiovisuals), both founded in 1928. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, SIGNIS has national bodies in various countries which promote the production of film, video and audio materials as content for broadcast and catechetical purposes. It will hold the festival in Nigeria as an annual event.

    Source: Daily Trust…

  • Truth Will Lead to African Peace, Nigerian Bishops Say

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Perry West || 06 December 2017

    truth to lead to african peaceThe Church’s intellectual and moral truth is the key to a peaceful, free, and developing nation, Nigerian bishops have said at a conference attended by the country's political and spiritual leaders.

    Their remarks came a conference on “Peace and National Development,” hosted Nov. 19-22 by Veritas University, the Catholic university of Nigeria.

    “The leaders of our future must be formed with a mentality that only the truth sets a people free,”  said Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, during remarks at the conference.

    “Corruption will be eradicated if the students begin to learn that only money that accrues to a person as a result of hard work can be enjoyed.”

    “The dream of the CBCN [Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Nigeria]… must always be the search for truth,” Akubeze, Vice President of CBCN, said, according to the Catholic News Service of Nigeria.

    Marking the university’s 10th anniversary, the event was held at the Chelsea Hotel in Abuja, Nigeria, and included addresses from Archbishop Akubeze, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto, and the school’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mike Kwanashie.

    The conference was also attended by Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives; former President Olusegun Obasanjo; and John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja and the university’s chancellor.

    While speaking about Nigeria’s future development, Bishop Kukah lamented that Nigeria has “remained permanently on top of the league of most vile and corruption in the international reports of the world institutions.”

    The bishop asked on whether Nigeria could really be considered a “developing country,” because it lacks advancements in health, security, human rights, and the rule of law.
    Archbishop Akubeze also mentioned that corruption exacerbated other severe challenges faced by Nigeria, pointing to events of terrorism, kidnappings, robberies, political violence, and tensions between religious and ethnic groups.

    “These can result in disunity, instability, and if not curtailed, disintegration,” he said. “[Truth is] that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished.”

    The archbishop encouraged the university to form future leaders to search for truth and contribute to the common good, noting that some of the university’s students would likely become senators, governors, and maybe even Nigeria’s president.

    He drew attention to the importance of the university’s name, “Veritas,” which is Latin for truth. He said the school, and every educational institution, should make the pursuit of truth their top priority.

    He emphasized the need for human, spiritual, and moral formation at the university.
    “As you know, education is not just about academic certificate. It also involves human formation. It involves character formation. In the process of your education in this institution, I want to encourage you, the staff, to help the students to have a wider horizon of life.”

    Biahop Kukah stressed the importance of developing a strong moral compass among Africa’s political leaders, especially through the Catholic formation of university students.

    “I want to focus on the Catholic Church and argue that perhaps, with some level of robustness, it could provide this moral compass drawing extensively from its rich history and culture,” he said.

    He pointed to the richness of Catholic social teaching, which, he said, is rooted in the mission of Christ, namely the proclamation of salvation.

    The Church’s social encyclicals have identified concrete challenges and proffered solutions in the past, he said, noting that the documents would be a powerful resource developing political solutions to Nigerian and African issues.

    Although the school welcomes students from all faiths, Veritas University has a strong ecclesiastical identity and has a particular focus Catholic social teaching.

    Archbishop Akubeze applauded the success of Veritas University in forming its students, but challenged the school to strive further, until it becomes a reference point for other educational institutions.

    The university was founded by the bishops of Nigeria in 2002. It was officially accredited by the Nigerian government in 2007, and began admitting students thereafter.  Its mission is to “provide its students with an integral and holistic formation that combines academic and professional training with physical, moral, spiritual, social and cultural formation together with formation of Christian religious principles and the social teachings of the Catholic Church.”

    Nigeria, a country of 170 million people, has a Catholic population of nearly 23 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Zambia Archbishop on Three Stages of Marriage and Family Life Formation

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 07 December 2017

    three stages of family life formation in zambiaArchbishop Telesphore-George Mpundu of the Archdiocese of Lusaka, who is also President of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops ((ZCCB) has suggested three stages of formation aimed at strengthening marriages and family life in Zambia.

    Speaking to Vatican Radio’s English Africa Service, Archbishop Mpundu spoke of his unease and alarm at the number of divorces being granted by Zambia’s civil courts.

    He reiterated his message made to parish councillors of Mumbwa Catholic Parish on the importance of supporting couples as well as putting in place pastoral programmes that accompany couples and families.

    The Archbishop was on a pastoral visit to Mumbwa last Sunday. Mumbwa is a town in the Central Province of Zambia, lying 160 Km west of the capital, Lusaka.

    As has become the tradition of Mumbwa Catholic Parish, on the occasion of the Archbishop's visit to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, parish councillors met Archbishop Mpundu in a Question and Answer session.

    Taking a question on Catholics who seek divorce in civil courts after blessing their marriage in a Catholic Church, the Archbishop spoke of his disquiet with the trend.

    “There is a high rate of divorce prevailing in Zambia today; Lusaka alone last year recorded over 8,000 marriages granted divorce by local, magistrate and even the high court. This is because the laws of Zambia permit divorce under certain conditions and circumstances. As for us, Catholics, the fault is almost entirely of our own making because when young people want to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony, they know they have to go to the Church so that the priests can do the needful and finally bless the marriage in Church. When problems arise in marriage, they do not go back to the priests to seek guidance and counselling but run to the courts because they know that the Church does not permit divorce. However, as soon as the courts grant them divorce they remarry and return to the Church and want to be re-admitted to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist! The divorced and remarried are not allowed to receive the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist. The Church does not recognise divorces granted by civil courts of whatever level granted to Catholic couples because a validly contracted Catholic Church Marriage cannot be broken. In other words, it is indissoluble," Archbishop Mpundu told his audience.

    The Archbishop, however, urged parishes to ensure adequate preparation of young couples who wish to access the Sacrament of Matrimony. He suggested that there ought to be in place a programme of pre-marriage catechesis for young adults after they receive Confirmation; marriage catechesis for engaged couples with the intention of tying the knot of Matrimony and then later Family Life catechesis which he described as very critical.

    “The stages mentioned (above) are critical because most young people enter marriage with very little if any useful knowledge of what it is all about. Traditional life provided the formation mainly for the young women but little if anything for the young men except perhaps in patrilineal societies. In all this there was and still is a lot that does not agree with the Catholic Christian doctrine and morals; it needs to be evangelised. Besides, Traditional life provided quite well the support mechanism for the newly married and young couples, but this support is largely absent in the rapidly urbanised Zambia. This vacuum must be filled-in efficiently and effectively by the Church otherwise the two institutions of marriage and family will be greatly weakened and finally damaged beyond repair in the foreseeable future. The future of the family is the future of the Church; The Catholic Family is known as "the Domestic Church". To the measure that the family is adversely affected is to the same measure that the Church is affected,” Archbishop Mpundu emphasised.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • For New Catholic Radio in Kenya, ‘evangelization’ Covers a Lot of Ground

    Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 07 December 2017

    radio for evangelization in kenya covering much groundIn a hyper-religious milieu such as Kenya, where preachers, holy men and sages are rock stars, and where spiritual programming can give “Dancing with the Stars” a run for its money in terms of ratings appeal, it’s not as if the airwaves in a place like Mombasa were exactly barren before Radio Tumaini came along.

    Sponsored by the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa, the one-year-old offering is up against the likes of “Sifa,” the popular radio network of the mushrooming Evangelical churches in the city, Kenya’s second largest and the capital of its eastern coastal region. Sifa offers a natural platform for the pumped-up, high-octane music, praise and worship for which Evangelicals and Pentecostals are known.

    There’s also Rahma, the city’s major Muslim radio network, which features preaching from the city’s imams and also religious instruction, especially teaching on the Koran.

    In that crowded marketplace, Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde launched Radio Tumaini, which is Swahili for “hope” one year ago with a broader ambition: His version of Catholic radio wasn’t primarily going to teach religion - it was going to change the world.

    “When we can help people live in peace and harmony, they don’t have to become Catholic,” said Kivuva on Wednesday while leading Crux reporters on a tour of the outdated radio station hosted by a Mombasa parish that he aims to convert into a new state-of-the-art facility.

    “Our aim is to promote the values we embody as a church, our social teaching,” Kivuva said, without always making a point of saying, ‘This is Catholic!’ If people actually were to live that teaching, even without knowing it comes from the Church, that would be a great outcome.”

    Father Raphael Kanga, one of two Mombasa priests Kivuva has put in charge of the radio project, echoed the point.

    “The point of the radio is not to say to everyone, ‘Become Catholics!’” Kanga told Crux on Wednesday. Instead, he said, it’s about “transforming society, showing people that this is how life is supposed to be lived.”

    Kanga said that not long ago, the radio station hosted a physical get-together for its listeners and fans, and he was surprised to find an Evangelical pastor there: “I like you guys, because you don’t discriminate, even with the music,” Kanga quoted the pastor as saying.

    When asked what the pastor meant, Kanga laughed: “Not all of our songs are about Mother Mary,” he said.

    Kivuva is no naïf, knowing full well there are circles where such an understanding of the mission of a Catholic radio station could be controversial. In the perennial tension between explicit evangelization and promoting social change, some Catholic media moguls clearly emphasize the former.

    Yet Kivuva is undeterred, telling a story that he believes illustrates the point. During Kenya’s most recent election cycle, he said, the country’s Catholic bishops took lead in assembling an inter-religious coalition of Christians, Muslims and others pleading for a vote and asking politicians to conduct themselves with integrity. That was a high priority for the bishops, he said, against the backdrop of widespread violence after Kenya’s last presidential race, as well as perceptions of routine corruption and vote-buying.

    That message, Kivuva said, was expressed in common statements, but it was really the radio outlets of the different faiths that brought it to the people and made it stick.

    “When August 8 came,” he said, referring to election day, “the voting was peaceful, it was more or less orderly, and we got through it without any of the typical crises we’ve seen. Most people say that was courtesy of the Catholic Church, but the radio was also very important.”

    “You see?”

    Kivuva is a native of Mombasa, and the idea for the radio station dates to the early 2000s when he was serving as a priest in the archdiocese and running its communications operation. He basically had it set up before he became the bishop of Machakos, where he would spend 11 years. In the meantime, operations at the Mombasa Catholic radio station basically lapsed, and relaunching it has been on his to-do list since he returned.

    It’s part of a bigger vision Kivuva has for Catholic communications, under the banner of “Lwanga Communications,” a reference to one of the martyrs of nearby Kenya. Among other things, the approach features some forays into the movie business.

    Recently, the second cleric involved in his media push, Father Bosco M. Soup, directed a dramatic film called Chozi, intended to get across the basics of the Catholic understanding of marriage without being preachy about it. Basically, it tells the story of a couple where the man dumps his fiancé to run off with another woman, then has a serious accident. He’s been abandoned by his new lover, but the faithful fiancé comes to his aid, and he eventually ends up proposing marriage from his hospital bed.

    “It’s a common story,” Kivuva said. “In marriage situations in Kenya, the woman often ends up on the short end, and we wanted to do something to make people think about that.”

    Currently, Radio Tumaini is operating only in a rural area of the archdiocese called Taita Taveta country - mostly, as it turns out, because that’s where they could navigate the complex bureaucratic obstacle course in Kenya to be assigned a frequency first. Now, however, officials believe they’ve gotten the clearance for a frequency in Mombasa itself, and they only need to complete the paperwork.

    In terms of programming, Radio Tumaini is a mix of fairly conventional religious fare - morning prayers and Bible reflections, live Sunday Mass, selections of sacred music, and so on - along with practical fare such as “Health Matters,” a show explaining how to cope with diabetes, high blood pressure, and so on. It even does shows on local concerns such as “human/wildlife conflict” - for instance, if elephants on a preserve wander off onto local farmlands, and the farmers want something done about it.

    Virtually all content is broadcast in Swahili, which is the language up and down Kenya most people tend to share.

    Radio Tumaini also carries content from abroad, including some programming from Vatican Radio. Despite a cycle of cost-cutting in the Vatican that’s already resulted in some reductions in services and may produce more, Kivuva insisted that the pope’s radio station has a value.

    “It’s about helping us be a Catholic church,” he said. “When a poor man in an isolated village tunes in and hears the pope speaking, that’s  a big thing … to get this voice from elsewhere, it makes us feel more universal, and it gives us a perspective we otherwise wouldn’t have.”

    Kanga said the idea is also to branch out into more socially relevant content, such as putting together inter-religious shows featuring Christians, Muslims and followers of other traditions together, as an antidote to the perpetual risk of sectarian, ethnic and political conflict.

    “Mombasa is a hot spot for radicalization,” Kanga said. “It needs guidance from people who have the right approach.”

    Despite planning to move aggressively into social media and an online news portal, Kivuva said radio remains indispensable if you want to reach the ordinary person in the street.

    “Much of our archdiocese is rural,” he said. “Technology takes time to penetrate the country. This is the best way to reach the entire nation.”

    Kivuva is a keenly media-savvy sort, and he also sees plenty of other opportunities to leverage the church’s resources.

    “We have all this Catholic music galore, from choir competitions and so on, and most of it is high-quality stuff,” he said. “Now we can produce and distribute it, because often our messages are carried by our music.”

    Kivuva is currently trying to raise money to upgrade the radio service’s Mombasa offices, expanding it to include not just day-to-day operations but quarters for quests and space for interns and volunteers. He also envisions a media training program, designed to help aspiring young broadcasters and journalists get their start.

    All this, Kanga said, is rooted in a basic instinct felt not just by Kivuva, but many African Catholics.

    “The voice of the church in Kenya, in Africa, in the whole world, needs to be heard,” he said. “It’s a chance to help in transforming society, evangelization, in helping people understand the plan God has for their life … our voice has to go out.”

    Source: Crux…

  • Southern Africa’s Youth in Great Vibe as Mini World Youth Day Starts

    CANAA || By Father Paul Tatu, CSS, South Africa || 07 December 2017

    mini world youth 2017 in great vibeThe five-day Mini World Youth Day (MWYD) 2017, which is bringing together young people from Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, officially started Wednesday, December 6 and will run until Sunday, December 10.

    On the 3rd December Young Catholics started flocking to Durban for MWYD.

    Firstly, the young people started in the Parishes where they were hosted by different families in the Metro of Durban.

    The vibe has been great seeing this multitude of young people together from different walks of life, united with heart and mind to appreciate the might deeds God has done in their own life.

    This gathering is the second of this nature and it happens as a preparation for the biggest event of World Youth Day. The Mini World Youth Day this year is taking place in Durban – South Africa, one of the warm city of South Africa, and one of the greatest tourists spot in the world.

    The mood of young people here is that they would like to see this organisation continuing, and together with their bishops and the organising stakeholders of the Catholic and the government representatives feel that there is nothing holding them back to campaign for the World Youth Day after the one in Panama in 2019.

    Many young people from African fail to attend World Youth Day because of they are not able to afford the expenses associate with the event. The event of World Youth Day was never held in Africa, and through this organisation of Mini World Youth Day in South Africa many young people strongly feel that Africa, through South Africa is ready to host this big event.

    The Mini World youth Day of this year is attended by all Southern Africa Catholic Bishops, and it is ecumenical in nature as it graced by other representatives from different denominations who have been working closer with the Catholic Church.

    The event of Mini World Youth Day success of hosting about 5000 young people from different cultures and countries under the same roof, with a highest quality of organisation, as one of the best hosting places in the world have managed to instil confidence to many stakeholders for support. It has already instilled courage and confidence to many young people to participate in the event. The event is also graced by the attendance of other countries of Southern Africa, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland.

    Being part of this event one feels that the young people are the church of today and they have a new culture of enriching their faith as Catholics. They enjoy and appreciate their faith but for a long time they were not understood. Through this event one realises the needs of young people and a different ways of how to reach young people at their own context.

    For a long time South Africa was torn by racial divisions imposed by white minority, but after the first democratic elections in 1994 South Africa saw the new dawn of hope, whereby since there a new rainbow nation has been slowly cooked in the rainbow pot. The signs of racial division between the white and the black people are fading away as the new generation of young people see no need for this division. This class of young people call themselves born free generation.

    During this Mini World Youth Day both white and black South Africans have come together to say, “The Almighty has done great things for us and Holy is His name.” This theme of the Mini World Youth Day in South African has brought new experience and unity among South Africans. The young people feel that they need to be with the Pope in Africa hosting this event they are pushing the leadership of the Church in South Africa to stand for the campaign of World Youth Day.

  • In Western Kenya, Growing Sect Confuses Some Local Catholics

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Doreen Ajiambo || 01 December 2017

    legio maria in western kenyaAs the drumbeats grew louder at the Jerusalem Church, members of the Legio Maria movement bowed in unison before they began speaking in tongues, praying and singing.

    Their "cardinal," Raphael Midigo, dressed in a purple gown, appeared from behind a curtain near the pulpit and began to pray for the sick, the blind, deaf, disabled, the mentally ill and couples who could not bear children. Worshippers responded in shouts as others fainted, overcome with emotion.

    "I can now hear. I can speak. I thank God," shouted 30-year-old Jacinta Atieno, who claimed to be deaf in  both ears for 10 years. "I came all the way from Nairobi to receive a miracle," she said. "I have suffered for a long time. I thank the man of God for healing me."

    Such supposed miracles in the Legio Maria sect have raised concerns among Catholic parish leaders in western Kenya. Thousands of Catholics have joined the sect in search of healing.

    "This is worrying because leaders from this church (Legio Maria) have their own selfish agendas, which they achieve by making people believe that they have power to heal and provide solutions," said Geofrey Omondi, a catechist of the Nyatike Catholic church in Migori, a nearby town.

    Founded in the early 1960s by Catholics who claim to have been visited by Mary for decades prior, Legio Maria members believe they have received special messages about the reincarnation of Jesus as an African. Often, they deify sect co-founder Simeo Ondeto, a catechist who died in 1992.

    "We, as the followers of Legio Maria, believe that Messiah Ondeto is the Christ and resurrected to heaven with God," Midigo said after the service. "We are only waiting for his third coming to take his faithful to heaven."

    The Catholic Church has expelled Legio Maria members, saying they were practicing illegitimate exorcisms and other rituals. In its early days, it had around 90,000 members, mostly Catholics from the Luo tribe. Today, the sect claims around 4.3 million members in Kenya, Sudan and beyond.

    In Kenya, they take orders from their "pope," Romanus Ongombe. They also claim to have 58 cardinals throughout the country.

    "We are the true church, not the Catholic," said Midigo. "We experience the power and work of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be found in the Catholic Church. That's the reason why people are coming to Legio Maria church and leaving Catholicism. We have a huge following."

    Many local Catholics said they remain confused, years after the formation of the sect. Legio Maria conducts the same types of services as the Catholic Church. Its members sing hymns. They have what they describe as a traditional Latin mass. They recite the rosary and even have nuns.

    "We are sometimes confused to decide which church to go," said Peter Ogola, a member of the sect who left the Catholic Church in May after he said he saw the image of Mary and baby Jesus engraved on a rock in the area. "Both churches look the same in the way they conduct their services. But Legio Maria church does it differently. They have the power to solve problems through prophesy and miracles."

    Kenyans also want tangible solutions to their myriad problems, including sickness, unemployment, poverty, bad relationships and other life challenges, Ogola added.

    "You can't just go to a church which does not offer solutions to your problems," said Ogola as he went down on his knees to pray. "I'm going to speak with Ondeto, who is going to give me a message of hope to bring to his people. I have the power to spiritually cleanse people with mental illness and even pray over the sick and the needy."

    Local Catholic leaders say the church confuses and lies to congregants.

    "They have been lying to people who are seeking divine intervention in their lives, (telling them) that they are the official Catholic Church. That's a pure a lie," said Omondi.

    But Msgr. Nicholas Moses Omollo, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Kisumu, said he does not see the sect as a threat.

    "We have had a lot of converts from them coming back to Catholic Church again," he said. "How can they be a threat to us, and we are the one who expelled them from the Roman Catholic Church?"

    "What do they have?" he asked. "They are not original, because what they have comes from the Roman Catholic Church," said Msgr. Omollo. He added that a church team is "sensitizing the community about the values of the Roman Catholic Church so that they can be aware of any tricks the sect can use to lure them."

    Religious analysts said the Catholic Church should not to ignore the sect's influence.

    Kenyans' cultural attachment to witchcraft has lured them to churches where visions, dreams and superstitious beliefs are explained in religious terms by church elders, said retired Bishop Elvis Otiendo of the Pentecostal Church of Kenya.

    "It will be suicidal for the Catholic Church to ignore the influence of the African church which has strong roots in western Kenya," he said. "They are telling people and their followers what they want to hear. The Catholic Church should start educating their followers about the values of the church and what they stand for as a church."

  • Ghana Bishops Join Fight against “menace” of Illegal Mining

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

    ghana bishops join fight against illegal miningGhana was once known as the “Gold Coast” because of its bountiful gold reserves, and the precious metal is still important for the West African country’s economy.

    However, illegal gold mining - called ‘Galamsey’ in the local dialect - is costing the country billions of dollars, mostly due to increased demand in China.

    In 2016 alone, Africa’s second largest producer (after South Africa) lost more than $2 billion to illegal mining, and now the Catholic Church is joining the calls for the government to end the practice, which the bishops called a “menace” that has “plagued our nation.”

    “We remind Ghanaians that our natural resources belong to those gone before us, those of us living and those who will come after us. We must therefore refrain from selfish exploitation of our natural resources to the extent that generations after us will be deprived of their fair share of these resources,” the bishops said in a statement.

    It is estimated that about one million people are involved in illegal mining in Ghana, many of them Chinese.

    Beijing has been accused of failing to stop its citizens from violating Ghanaian laws in their quest for minerals, mostly through illegal, small scale exploitation, especially after gold prices soared about fifteen years ago.

    The price of gold rose from $349 an ounce in April 2001 to a high of $1,911 in August 2011. So far this year, the price has hovered between $1,100 and $1,300 per ounce.

    In 2016, a third of the country’s 2.7 million ounces of production came from small mines, up from less than a quarter before the boom.

    Despite this, the sector supplies only 16 percent of tax revenues, according to the Ghanaian government’s Minerals Commission, which oversees the industry.

    “When gold prices went up, people started using all kind of means for small-scale mining, things like backhoes and bulldozers,” said Isaac Abraham, senior public relations officer at the Ghanaian Minerals Commission.

    “This type of small-scale mining (by foreigners with heavy machinery) is fairly recent, only since 2009,” he told The Leaven, the local Catholic newspaper.

    The paper reports that “Illegal mining has wreaked havoc on the environment, especially the waterways, and brought a host of social and health problems to rural villages.”

    The recent statement from Ghana’s bishops is not the first time church leaders have come out against illegal mining.

    Last July, the Archbishop of Kumasi, Gabriel Justice Yaw Anokye denounced illegal miners as “evil.”

    “Ghanaians involved in illegal mining are the wicked citizens who seek the fall of the country over their personal interest,” he told Fides News Agency.

    The archbishop said the phenomenon of the galamsey is threatening the ecosystem of Ghana, in particular rivers and national water reserves, which are polluted due to the massive use of mercury in the extraction of gold from the ore.

    Anokye then accused such miners as “greedy and evil,” noting that they are even more wicked and dangerous than murderers.

    In May, the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) issued a joint communiqué condemning illegal mining at the end of their annual meeting in Accra.

    The statement said the “menace is destroying the lives of ordinary Ghanaians, livestock and food stuff. Many of our youth have also abandoned the classroom leading to increase in illiteracy in the affected areas.”

    They applauded the efforts of President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government to “protect our water bodies, farm lands, forest reserves etc. and their commitment to end illegal mining in the country.”

    Fighting galamsey is now a government priority

    Akufo-Addo came to power in December 2016, and has made the fight against illegal mining a top government priority.

    In September, the president gathered traditional leaders in the country in efforts to engage them in the fight against illegal mining.

    While admitting that the difficult economic times may be driving many people to do anything to survive, the president said “there are things we can’t just allow to happen and one of them is the abuse of our heritage.”

    Akufo-Addo also mentioned the international effects of the illegal mining, because pollution is contaminating the waters of neighboring countries.

    “Rivers, waters, forests don’t know national boundaries; they run across nations. The activities of Ghanaian illegal miners are jeopardizing the space of our neighbors,” the president said, adding that it would be “a betrayal of the trust imposed on me if I fail to end this.”

    Akufo-Addo has found enthusiastic allies in Church leaders, who are more than willing to use the pulpit to preach against galamsey.

    In their latest statement, the Catholic bishops said they would “sustain our efforts to reverse the harsh consequences of this self- inflicted destruction.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Catholic Bishop Leads Nine South Sudanese Governors and Delegates in Peace Conference

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 04 December 2017

    peace conference of south sudan governorsBishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio last week led Governors from nine Counties in a peace conference during which County and religious leaders listened to each other in view of exploring “possibilities of promoting greater peace and prosperity to the ‎present and future generation” in South Sudan.

    Convened under the theme, “Peace from within and across the borders”, the Interstate Governors’ Strategic Intervention Conference for Peace brought together national and County government representatives.

    “This conference brings together these Nine Governors, Nine Rt. Hon Speakers, Nine Minsters of local governments, and such leaders to engage in a dialogue for ‎peace - and explore how to promote peace in this country,” Bishop Barani addressed the Conference participants in a message he shared with CANAA.

    The nine States of South Sudan at the meeting included Yei River, Amadi, West Lakes, Gok, Wau, Tonji, Meridi, Tombura and Gbudue states. 

    “My task is to open the doors of reflection for the next two days with the message:  My ‎dear South Sudanese People: Peace is the way, Peace is the only Way. Let us heal one another, not ‎wound one another,” Bishop Barani who is also the President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan told the delegates at the peace conference.

    Below is the full text of the Bishop Barani’s address



    27-30 November, 2017

    Peace, Shalom, Salamu, Zereda, Dor,      ‎

    Hon. Tor Mawein Deng, the presidential delegate to this conference,

    Hon. Jemma Nun Kumba, Minister and Acting Secretary of SPLM Party

    Hon. Ambassador Agustino, Deputy Chairman of Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission

    H.E. David S, The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG)

    Honorable Governors,

    Right Honourable Speakers of the Legislative Assembly,

    Hon. Ministers,

    Organized Forces,

    Religious Leaders, Ladies and Gentleman,

    I am greatly honored to be among the lovers of peace, to be part of this sacred ‎pilgrimage (journey) of these nine designated states of South Sudan towards the Holy mountain of Peace.  This is a great moment for the ‎history of Yei River, Amadi, West Lakes, Gok, Wau, Tonji, Meridi, Tombura and Gbudue states.   These great States have looked for this moment:  ‎all of us, coming from diverse backgrounds, various religions could come together to listen to ‎one another, to explore the possibilities of promoting greater peace and prosperity to the ‎present and future generation.  This initiative is belated but this is an opportune time.

    The background of this Interstate Governors Strategic Intervention Conference for Peace is all of us the individual Nine states. That is why the theme of this conference has been carefully chosen: “Peace from within and across the borders”. The Interfaith Council for Peace Initiatives for the last three years had laid down its three years strategic planning programs which include different levels of dialogues, consultations and networking involving neutral form and active advocacy within and across the board.

    In this conference as Governors I am happy to inform you that during the next three days we build friendship, mutual areas of collaboration and commitments together. We do not come to count the wounds of the past; we have come to count the ‎blessings of peace.  We have come not to recall the nightmares of bygone eras, but to ‎pursue the promise of peace for us and future generations.  We are never defined by our past but our present, as no matter ‎how hard the past, you can always start again. We wish to forget the wounds of the past and ‎move ahead towards peace.

    My nearly 15 years’ experience in working for peace, I have learnt a lot of what peace is; that is why I wish to share with you here. As we all know, while Peacemaking is an everyday activity – how you welcome new people at village, community, school, how you deal with conflict among your friends, and the daily decisions you make about how to react to frustrations and disappointments – it is also applying these commitments to tackle bigger problems you see in your nation. I strongly believe that it isn’t enough to put peace first in your daily life; being a peacemaker means working with others to put these ideas to work toward bigger challenges. These are called Peacemaking journeys.

    A Peacemaking journey is when you join with others to solve an injustice in your area using compassion and courage. In fact, what makes a peacemaking journey a Peacemaking journey isn’t the size or scale of the problem you tackle, but how you apply the commitments of Peacemaking within your work. How do you take a stand for what you believe in? How can you understand different people’s perspectives? How do you work with others, including people who disagree with you? Different from other service programs or volunteer work, a Peacemaker journey is as much about who you are as what you do.

    Honourable leaders and brothers and sisters, while your Peacemaking journey is an ongoing one, Peacemaking journey have a beginning and an end, offering a chance to reflect on what you’ve done and what you might want to do next. Peacemaking is, after all, a journey, not a destination. And your peacemaking journey must be viewed the same way. And all journeys start with that first step of commitment to go. This is why the Inter-Faith invited you here to Yambio!

    In this sacred journey, my dear brothers and sisters, we have come to celebrate our ‎unity in diversity. We have come here to disprove some of the modern cynics who accuse   ‎religions as the cause of conflict.  We are here to affirm that peace is possible! The nine states are connected natural, nationally, socially and spiritually.  

    In the recorded history of human beings for the last 2000 years, there was never total ‎peace in the world.  Even as we gather today millions are affected by war in our African continent, in the middle East. ‎Our struggle as human beings is to live in peace.  But conflict rages on. Brother against ‎brother.  The blood of Abel killed by his own brother Cain in the opening pages of the Bible ‎is true in many parts of the world.     Man   seemed to have evolved with hatred as his ‎primordial nature.  Power, money and control contribute towards bleeding of nations.  War ‎killed more than 130 million in the 20th century. We do not know how many are killed or how ‎many will be killed in the power games of the nations.

    Great religions addressed this problem.  Lord Jesus’s great towards ‎Compassion and mercy is a great contribution towards bringing peace.  Jesus Christ and prophet Mohamed teaches ‎compassion not only for the living beings, but even for living things like trees.  

    This conference brings together these Nine Governors, Nine Rt. Hon Speakers, Nine Minsters of local governments, and such leaders to engage in a dialogue for ‎peace - and explore how to promote peace in this country, how can government and Inter-Faith Council help ‎other stakeholders to understand one another.   We are not gathered here as politicians; we are ‎not gathered as state or non-state armed groups.  We are nationals, seeking the good of ‎all. ‎

    My task is to open the doors of reflection for the next two days with the message:  My ‎dear South Sudanese People: Peace is the way, Peace is the only Way. Let us heal one another, not ‎wound one another.   With our theme: “Peace within and across the boarders” I am sure other speakers will fortify our quest for peace through their ‎insights for peace in their religions and in their socio-political set ups.   Everyone will have a chance to share their views. ‎

    I come from the Catholic Christian tradition. Peace for us is born of justice is matured in ‎love. Pope Benedict assured that "Love - caritas - will always prove necessity, even in the most ‎just society…. In addition to justice man needs, and will always need, love." Building peace, ‎promoting peace is part of our faith traditions.  The birth of Christ was announced with “ ‎Peace to all men” and when Jesus rose from the dead he had only one strong message to his ‎followers :  Peace!  Blessed are the peace makers’ said Jesus. With the great Francis of Assisi ‎every Christian in South Sudan prays today: “Make me an instrument of peace - Where there is ‎hatred let me bring love” Mahatma Gandhi the great apostle of Non Violence drew his ‎inspiration from Christ’s sermon on the Mount. As Christians we seek peace in this land. I ‎invite all of you to pray with Francis of Assisi:   ‘Make me an instrument of Peace! Where there ‎is hatred let me bring Love”.   ‎

    ‎1.‎         The past is a wounded past, but religions can heal  a nation for a future of hope

    Our Land is a blessed land.  It is resourcefully rich ‎above the ground and below the ground.  God and nature have given us enough to make all of ‎us rich and prosperous.   We are the envy of many nations for the  great beauty and vast ‎natural resources.   More than anything this nation is blessed with a glorious spiritual tradition ‎and a people known world over for their grace and hospitality. ‎

    Despite all these blessings we have a wounded history:  The hard fought freedom, won ‎through great sacrifices had a shocking beginning.  The founders of this nation were killed by ‎hatred.  The conflicts that started sixty years ago continue to pester parts or all South Sudan.    ‎Shopping list of death is depressing In every part of this country, hatred buried our youth in ‎unknown graves.  Thousands are refugees, thousands are internally displaced.  Our conflicts ‎and war turned what was once rich country into one of the poorest in the region. We have ‎sent thousands of our youth into modern forms of slavery.   The menace of drug is becoming ‎a silent genocide.  Should we continue to wound one another through hatred?  Can we as a ‎people heal one another?  Can we impress on those who peddle hate speech to become ‎ambassadors of peace?  Can religions help to see each one of us not as a Christian, Muslim, but brothers and Sisters of this great nation?    Can this nation provide peace ‎and hope to all?‎

    I’m here to ask you to reject the notion that we’re gripped by forces that we can’t control.   Our problems are man-made.  Therefore, they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants.

    At this conference, my primary message dear esteemed Participants today is going to be to reject pessimism and cynicism; know that progress is possible, that our problems can be solved.  Progress requires the harder path of breaking down barriers, and building bridges, and standing up for the values of tolerance and diversity that our nations have worked and sacrificed to secure and defend.  Progress is not inevitable, and it requires struggle and perseverance and discipline and faith.  

    But this is a challenging time to do that.  Because there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, because things are changing so fast, there is a temptation to forge identities, tribal identities that give you a sense of certainty, a buffer against change.  And that's something that our young people -- we have to fight against.   And fighting that mentality and that impulse requires us to begin very young, with our kids.  

    Our coming together is an attempt at democratizing peace-making in this country. Can peace start from each of our states to the rest part of South Sudan! I do ‎not think people to people there is great hatred.  This was proved during the struggle of over 45 years of civil wars. We want to involve ordinary people; we want to bring the voice of our people to ‎peace conferences. We welcome that. This coming together is to impress upon those in power, ‎those who make decisions that religions and our family values in this country desire peace and wish to work with ‎the state and non-state actors to bring durable peace.  Let the voice of the people be heard ‎in all the peace conferences. ‎

    I wish to talk on some of the stumbling blocks in our peace pilgrimage:  It was John F ‎Kennedy who once said “Those who do not learn from the blunders of history are ‎condemned to repeat it”.   This country has been waiting for peace for last sixty years.  It is ‎imperative to accept and remove some of the big road blocks in peace: ‎

    2.‎         Major hurdles towards peace:‎

    a)     ‎Abuse of culture for hatred:  No culture is violent, should ‎preach peace and harmony.  But there are times culture can be abused by ‎unscrupulous elements to enkindle hatred among people.  All of us gathered here need to ‎resist hate speech against any community.

    b)     Denial of dignity of diversity: Nations that celebrated diversity as strength have ‎prospered. US, Europe and many countries in the world have recognizable the dignity of ‎diversity.  Unity in diversity is the strength of the nation.  Perceived preference for one culture ‎and tribe and religion will surely bring discontent and violent response.  We are over 30 major tribes’ ‎and 35 sub tribes. What a colorful nation and should we not celebrate our vibrant colors?

    c)      Armed response – violence – war:   For last sixty years, all stakeholders in the ‎conflict have chosen armed response as a dominant method.  Though many groups chose a ‎cease fire path, some groups continue to nurture doubts in the peace process.  Greater ‎violence has not led to any resolution, but greater agony and displacement to the poor.

    d)     Negativity in most of the people who have problem with the government especially those laid off in diaspora! Poor use of social media especially posting irresponsible abusive staff with no respect to the nation and self!  

    3.  Role of Religion - what can religions do in this country for peace ‎

    v Religions – their humanizing efforts - brotherhood of humanity:  “An eye for an Eye makes ‎the whole world blind” said Gandhi.  Hatred is an animal instinct waiting to flare in the ‎human nature.  Short sighted leaders have manipulated   religions for provoking ‎hatred. Religions exist to humanize men and women, not to teach vengeance. 

    v It seems as if there is disagreement and tension everywhere. Most days, I feel surrounded by conflicts that emerge globally, nationally, locally, professionally, and personally. Conflict is not something that exists outside of us. Fundamental to our existence, we are embedded in lives of disagreement and tension. It is in the nature of the self and society. We may hold the utopian ideal that war and famine should come to an end, but we can never hope for the end of conflict, for that would spell the end of the human condition. I often search for spiritual insight on the nature of conflict that is so endemic in the self and society.

    v The whole world is full of controversy, between countries, towns, neighbors, and even within a household, between husband and wife, or with servants and children. No one pays attention to the ultimate fact that each and every day we come closer to death. Know that all these controversies are one: the conflict between a man and his wife is the same conflict as that which exists between kings and nations. For each one in the household represents a particular nation; their challenges to one another are like the wars between the nations… even one who has no desire to quarrel, but prefers to dwell in peace, is drawn into controversies and battles. Just as one sometimes finds among the kings and nations a country that wants to live in peace, and is forced to enter the war on one side or another (despite its willingness to be a subject nation), so it is with household ‘wars’.

    v “Peace within and across the Boarder” this is the theme of this great Inter-state Governors’ Strategic Intervention Conference for Peace. So by embracing the conflicts inside and outside of us we can be a part of the transformation of self as well as world. We can, and must, pursue conflict and peace, one of the holiest endeavors within the human experience. I believe that the most sustainable and meaningful peace is one that arises from disagreement and conflict. Ultimately, it requires deep toiling and wrestling to find a spiritual and global peace, a peace that transcends borders and intertwines souls.

    v  All religions preach inner and external Peace, Islam, and Christian:  For Christians, Christ’s word are clear:  blessed are the peace makers. ‎Peace making is the work of every believer.  Islam beautifully instructs its follower: If ‎someone does something that hurts you make a promise to yourself and Allah that you ‎will never do the same hurt to anyone else. 

    Road Map from this Conference: ‎

    Since this is the first conference, we want to acknowledge that this is a long journey and we ‎are here as governors and all the invited guests to draw the road map for that long journey.  Next two days we shall be listening to ‎various speakers and all of us will have a chance to discuss issues in the groups.  Since it is ‎inter-states and religious initiative for peace, we shall listen to various leaders from the nine States perspectives on peace in South Sudan much more in the region of Greater Bahr El Ghazale and Greater Equatoria.  There are other stakeholders and we will be glad to listen to their view points. ‎

    I see the following tasks ‎as preempted suggestions which could lead us to mutual resolutions of this inter-states Governors’ Strategic Intervention Conference for Peace:

    1.      ‎ Conference will identify role of states in peace making:  I do hope clarity emerges on this after two days.‎ For me it is essential to link youth with the process of nation building. The future of our country depends on the capacities, moral values and compassion of the younger generation. Special attention needs to be paid to higher education and skill development at the level of States. But when we speak to young people, we need consistently to implore them to reject those calls to pull back.  

    2.      Open common boarder Market, joint economic project or programs, social activities for young people, Inter-boarder peace mobilizers, community boarder policing, mutual initiatives, these and others will boost peace in our States, etc.

    3.      I believe this Interstate Governors’ conference is a ‎starting point for a long journey.   This journey is not to end with this conference. It is ‎understood all of us will go back to work out local initiatives for peace, bringing all people on board but close collaborations.

    4.      Combined statement on Peace in the land: I do hope this conference will end with a ‎document - not for document sake but a road map for further action once we return to our ‎places.

    5.      How can sustainable development contribute to peace-building? FOR EXAMPLE: Development interventions can… Mitigate conflict drivers (e.g., social division, economic marginalization, lawlessness, spillover, poor or inequitable service or natural resource access) Improve local perceptions of security (e.g., through livelihoods development, reduction of environmental uncertainties, governance building, security and judicial sector reform) Yield tangible “peace dividends” that helps build a constructive social contract between stakeholders (e.g., development outcomes such as poverty reduction, public service delivery)

    6.      Again all over our states, how can peace-building contribute to development? e.g. Peace-building (at any stage in a conflict) can surelyimprove inclusion of conflict parties in decisions and policymaking! Readjust public perspectives toward long-term issues rather than short-term coping mechanisms! Building confidence among all stakeholders, from civil society to government to donors, religious leadership, and international organizations.

    7.      Mitigating our persisting Conflict through Sustainable Development and Peace-building must add an improved inclusion: e.g., by incorporating remote and neglected locations into development programming, re-integrating former rebel or armed groups especially those who have signed agreement with the government! Readjust public perspectives: e.g., by educating stakeholders on the risks of over-usage having long-term impacts! Build confidence: e.g., by supporting user collaboration! More devotedly concentrate on mitigate conflict drivers: e.g., by improving equitable support access! Also improve local perceptions of security: e.g., by developing and strengthening governance systems! Make every effort to yield tangible “peace dividends”: e.g., by upgrading livelihoods, education and public health.

    8.      It must be kept in mind that the dynamics between sustainable development and peace-building is cyclical – Let me warn you, these are not mutually exclusive activities, but rather they are constantly interacting. For the most effective national sustainable development plans we just need to capture some of the numerous opportunities to support conflict transformation.

    9.      Finally, working towards removing the road blocks for peace: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and  ‎other great leaders were not afraid of addressing the root causes of conflict. That wisdom ‎is urgently needed in this country.

  • As ‘African moment’ Dawns in Global Catholicism, Kenya is Key

    Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 04 December 2017

    kenya is key in global catholicismIn many ways, Kenya is one of Africa’s success stories. It’s the largest economy in east and central Africa despite widespread poverty, it’s home to many of the continent’s premier universities, it has the fourth-highest literacy rate in Africa, and it’s where many Western companies looking to do business in Africa choose to settle because of its developed infrastructure.

    In one small but telling signal, Kenya leads the pack in Africa in mobile phone use, with 71 subscriptions for every 100 citizens.

    Yet, again like much of Africa, Kenya’s success often seems fragile. At the moment, the country seems poised on the brink of a replay of 2007, when a disputed presidential election triggered widespread violence rooted in ethnic rivalries that left 1,300 people dead. This fall, another election cycle featured charges of heavy-handed police tactics, said by critics to have used excessive force to break up protests and carry out house-to-house operations in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and western Kenya. At least 12 people were killed in the western counties of Kisumu and Siaya alone, and another 33 in Nairobi.

    Today, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta has been officially inaugurated as the country’s leader, once again under dubious circumstances, and the opposition is threatening to swear in their own man, Raila Odinga, as a rival “People’s President” on December 12, Kenya’s independence day. No one seems to know quite where the stand-off may go, but few think it will lead anywhere good. Meanwhile, charges of corruption, vote-buying, and stoking ethnic animosities for political gain are being traded by all sides.

    Kenya’s also facing a significant refugee situation, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reporting that a half-million people are registered as refugees, though many observers believe the real number is higher. Roughly 60 percent are from neighboring Somalia, driven from their homes by poverty, famine, and the menace of the al-Shabaab Islamic militant group, which is allied with Al-Qaeda. Incursions by al-Shabaab into Kenya create not just a humanitarian challenge but a security one.

    Tribal rivalries also perpetually threaten to upset Kenya’s stability. The country is a patchwork of at least 42 ethnic groups, and traditionally Kenyans like to say that diversity is a source of national strength. Yet under the right conditions, especially when political tension is in the air, those differences can also turn deadly, as members of one tribe suspect another of stacking the deck against them.

    In a sense, therefore, Kenya is the continent in miniature, a microcosm of both progress and the forces constantly threatening to upend that progress, which form so much of the African story.

    What can be said of Kenya generally also applies to the Catholic Church in the nation of some 50 million people, where 70 percent of the population is Christian, with Protestants and Anglicans representing 40 percent and Catholics 30 percent. There are also strong pockets of traditional animist believers, and a growing Muslim presence in the country’s coastal area to the east.

    Because of Kenya’s overall importance to Africa, the Church in the country also plays a key role in Catholic affairs across the continent.

    Crux’s Inés San Martín and I will be in Kenya this week to take the temperature of the local church, in reporting made possible by a grant from “Aid to the Church in Need,” a global papal foundation supporting the suffering and persecuted church worldwide.

    Kenyan Christians certainly suffer from more than their fair share of conventional anti-Christian persecution. In the heavily Muslim areas of the country, attacks on Christians by militants linked to al-Shabaab are becoming more frequent and brazen.

    In September, for instance, a group of around 30 heavily armed men in military gear, suspected to be al-Shabaab militants, killed three Christian men in Bobo village in northeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia. According to witnesses, the assailants were armed with AK-47 rifles and surrounded homes in the village on September 6. They called out the names of non-Muslim men, ordering them to show their ID cards to confirm they were Christians before beheading them.

    Christians in the eastern part of Kenya are still reeling from the notorious Garissa University massacre in 2015, when al-Shabaab stormed the campus separating Muslim and Christian students, leaving 148 Christians dead and 79 more people injured. It was the second deadliest attack in Kenyan history, behind only the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings.

    The Archdiocese of Mombasa has launched several initiatives to try to address the situation, including a local radio service intended to foster “interreligious dialogue, peacebuilding, and community education towards sustainable peace and development.” Further complicating those efforts is the fact that many Kenyan Muslims are ethnically Somali, so there’s not just a religious gap to bridge, but also a cultural one.

    San Martín and I will be in Mombasa, the hub of Kenya’s eastern region, trying to ascertain where things stand now in terms of keeping Christians safe, and the broader project of fostering healthy Muslim/Christian relations.

    Yet under the heading of Kenya as Africa in miniature, overt anti-Christian hatred and violence are hardly the only challenges facing the country’s Catholic community.

    The country’s northwest, for instance, remains undeveloped in many parts, occupied by pastoral nomads who measure wealth in terms of the number of cattle owned, and whose lifestyles have been largely untouched by Western-style development.

    Despite significant deposits of natural resources, such as oil, gold and groundwater, the region is still the most impoverished in the country. Even in Lodwar, the regional capital and an emerging commercial hub, only about 35 percent of the city’s population has access to electricity in their homes.

    The area is dominated by the Turkana people, among whom the hold of traditional religion remains strong. The challenge for Catholicism there isn’t so much explicit opposition to the faith but complete ignorance of it - meaning the task is what’s technically called “primary evangelization,” meaning bringing the message of the faith to people who’ve never heard it before.

    In response, Aid to the Church in Need is underwriting a series of projects, including vocations training, retreats, building churches, convents and formation houses - even, creatively, buying motorcycles for catechists to reach remotely located communities. In this case, the aim isn’t so much to help a persecuted church rebuild, but rather to help a young church get its legs under it if, and when, persecution ever comes.

    Make no mistake: However remote from American experience those situations may sound, more and more, Africa’s stories are ours too. Africa is by far the zone of Catholicism’s greatest growth today, expanding by some 7,000 percent in the 20th century and continuing in the 21st. There’s a youthfulness and passion about African Catholicism that’s palpable to anyone who experiences it, and the leadership class of the African church is convinced that its time to lead has arrived.

    As a result, there’s a dawning “African moment” in global Catholicism, in which the future of the Church isn’t being worked out exclusively anymore in Rome, Paris or New York, but also in places such as Mombasa and Lodwar.

    As goes Kenya, in other words, it’s not just so goes Africa - it’s also so goes the Catholic Church.

    Source: Crux… 


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


African Continent


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