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  • Head of Catholic Education Unit in Ghana Calls for Collaboration in Managing Catholic Schools

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 29 June 2017

    madam shun of ghana on collaboration in school managingThe General Manager of Catholic Education Unit in Ghana, Mrs. Doris Ashun, has called on Education Co-ordinators and Local Managers to assist Regional Managers of Education for the smooth management and supervision of Catholic Schools.

    Mrs. Ashun made the appeal in an interview with the Catholic Standard Newspaper, Ghana’s National Catholic Weekly.

    She said that due to the large expanse of jurisdiction covered by Regional Catholic Education Unit Office, it is expedient on the part of all Local Managers and Coordinators to co-operate with the Managers in the Unit Office.

    She lamented the recent developments of side-lining Managers of Mission Schools and the delay in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government and the Religious Bodies. This, she said, had “led to the reduced interest in the Missions supporting their schools financially”.

    “We are to visit the Catholic Schools in their Dioceses and report to the Regional Managers,” she said and noted that Regional Managers had a whole region as their territory of operation and apart from supervision, each manager has to ensure that religious discipline of the Church in the schools is adhered to.

    This oversight role of Regional Managers had dwindled since the Managers do not have control over postings, transfers and sometimes headship appointment, she added.

    The General Manager stated that since Regional Managers oversee the Management of all Catholic Schools in their Regions usually made up of one, two or three Dioceses with over twenty Districts, they were faced with many challenges including the lack of accommodation and transportation.

    She indicated that some of the Schools were in remote areas and difficult to access which calls for good and strong vehicles for use by the Regional Managers.

    She added that despite the fact that the Regional Managers were employed and being paid by the government, the Church or Diocese in which the Manager worked should see to it that the Regional Manager was properly housed or accommodated.

    She urged Regional Managers also to be innovative in sourcing for funding to carry out their mandate while seeking support from the Bishops and other sources.

    The General Manager also indicated that there are instances when heads and teachers are posted to Catholic Schools without any consultation with the Regional Manager.

    “How do you expect the Head teachers and staff in this case to relate well with the Regional Manager when he or she visits the Schools? When Head teachers posted to the Mission Schools are not recommended by the Regional Managers, how do you expect them to be recognized as such by the Head teachers?” she queried.

    On performance of Catholic Schools, she said though statistics were not readily available, records and reports presented by Regional Managers over the years indicate that Mission Schools and for that matter Catholic Schools, were among the best in Ghana. “Their results and discipline records cannot be matched,” she added.

  • New CEO for Nairobi-based Tangaza University to Prioritize Transitioning to a Full-fledged University: Interview

    CANAA || By Sister Michelle Njeri, FSIC and Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Kenya || 29 June 2017

    tangaza new ceo appointed 2017The new Vice-Chancellor designate of the Nairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC), Rev. Prof. Stephen Mbugua Ngari, is promising to prioritize the transitioning of the institution from a College affiliated to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) to a full-fledged university.

    “The first responsibility is to transition the university college into a full-fledge university by the granting of a charter,” Father Ngari has said in an interview with CANAA and described the transition as “the biggest milestones to achieve.”

    He has explained, “We have to meet the requirements of the Commission for the University Education (in Kenya) and also the legal requirement of the Kenya Universities Act (2012).”

    Father Ngari was appointed by the Board of Trustees of TUC during their May 31st meeting. He is expected to assume office on July 1, taking over from Father Steven Payne, OCD.

    “To the staff and students’ fraternity, we are going to maintain the momentum that has been sustained by Father Steven Payne,” Father Ngari has said in the interview and added, “We will work as a team with all the institutes and schools; we will look for the best practices and way forward to make Tangaza an exemplary in Africa and the world.”

    Below is the full text of the interview

    CANAA: How did you receive the news of your appointment as the new CEO of Tangaza University College?

    Father Ngari: I received the news on the 31st of May. I was driving (from Nairobi) from the second interview (with Board of Trustees of TUC) when I reached near Delamere (near Naivasha town, some 90km from Nairobi) the Chair of the Board of Trustees called me and broke the news.

    I was surprised and excited because it showed the trust that the panel gave me. It was an expression of trust and I was humbled that they (members of Tangaza Board of Trustees) recognized me as a person who would help in the transition from a university college to a full-fledged University with a charter.

    CANAA: Did you expect the appointment?

    Father Ngari: I didn’t. Those who were short-listed were equally qualified. It was an interview of equals. I knew one of us would be (appointed). I did my best and trusted in God.

    CANAA: What do you look forward to in this new responsibility?

    Father Ngari: The first responsibility is to transition the university college into a full-fledge university by the granting of a charter. That is the biggest milestones to achieve. We have to meet the requirements of the Commission for the University Education (in Kenya) and also the legal requirement of the Kenya Universities Act (2012).

    I also look forward to dealing with the current trends in education and to mount market-driven programmes for the university.

    My other goal is to ensure quality and compliance so that the graduates coming out of Tangaza are going to be impeccable and seriously competitive with a serious edge on the academic, moral and religious grounding that will make them more likeable in the job market in Kenya and beyond.

    CANAA: What message do you have for Tangaza family as you plan to take office on July 1?

    Father Ngari: Tangaza University College was started by 22 congregations, not a diocese. I would like to tell them (the Tangaza family through the Board of Trustees) that I’m humbled by their trust in appointing me. I’m not going to disappoint them. I will do all what it takes to ensure that the trust they gave me is upheld, and because they are 22 founders, I want to work so hard so that I may be the 23 founder of  Tangaza.

    To the staff and students’ fraternity, we are going to maintain the momentum that has been sustained by Father Steven Payne. We will work as a team with all the institutes and schools; we will look for the best practices and way forward to make Tangaza an exemplary in Africa and the world.

    CANAA: Any other relevant message at this time?

    Father Ngari: I want to thank my Bishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba. He has been extremely supportive. He allowed me to apply for the position and when I told him of my appointment he told me “Father, I am very proud that you got the position, go and do us proud; represent the Diocese and the church well as you work among the religious”.

    I’m very grateful to My Lord Bishop, Professor Rose A. Mwonya –Vice Chancellor Egerton University – who was very supportive, though she did not want me to leave. She told me to go and work for the church and also to the Tangaza family.

    I look forward to the partnership and collaboration with every stakeholder and to make everyone benefit from Tangaza. It will be a reciprocal benefit to all of us who come to Tangaza.

    Sister Michelle Njeri, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, is the Communications Coordinator of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru in Kenya. Father Don Bosco is the Coordinator of the Catholic News Agency for Africa (CANAA).

  • Bishops in South Sudan Write to Pope Francis, Express Gratitude for Donation

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 29 June 2017

    bishop hiiboro thanks pope for funds 2017The President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) has written to Pope Francis expressing appreciation for financial assistance, which the Holy Father has pledged to give.

    On June 21, 2007, Peter Cardinal Turkson who heads Vatican-based office for Promoting Integral Human Development announced that the Holy Father was donating some half a million US dollars to South Sudan through the initiative, “The Pope for South Sudan.”

    “On my behalf as the President of Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) and on behalf of my brother Bishops of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference, I wish to express my sincere heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to His Holiness Pope Francis for his whole hearted support to South Sudan,” Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has stated in the letter dated June 25, which he shared with CANAA.

    The funding is expected to assist war-stricken South Sudan in the areas of education, healthcare and agricultural projects under the leadership of Solidarity with South Sudan (SSS), a group of religious and missionary congregations overseeing capacity building of teachers, health practitioners, pastoral agents, and farmers through their coordination office in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, and its international headquarters in Rome.

    “Despite the postponement of papal pastoral visitation to South Sudan, your solidarity and commitment for the country has been felt by your generous support and donation for the country,” Bishop Barani has stated in the letter and added, “We want to thank you for the Love in action, kind attention, solidarity, enthusiasm, courage and support for the needy people of South Sudan that your Holiness has brought to the papacy over the past years.”

    The Vatican had been planning for the Holy Father to visit South Sudan sometime in October this year, an ecumenical trip that would have seen Pope Francis travel together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

    Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed to journalists on May 30, that the trip would not take place in 2017. He said that the trip was still being considered but did not provide any timing when the trip might take place.

    On June 6, Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan expressed the hope that the Holy Father’s trip was just postponed, not canceled.

    In the letter of appreciation for the Pope’s grant to South Sudan, Bishop Barani has assured the Holy Father of good stewardship saying, “The accountability of this grant donation will surely arrive to Your Holiness when administered.”

    “We promise that we shall continue to pray for you always in our daily Prayers, we humbly invite your Holy Apostolic Blessing of Peace on us all in Sudan and South Sudan!” the Bishops have stated in conclusion.

    Below is the full statement of the letter by South Sudan Bishops to the Holy Father

    NO. OL/0014/SCBC/017                                                                25th June 2017

    His Holiness Pope Francis
    Apostolic Palace
    00120 Vatican City

    Your Holiness,                                                                                                                

               Ref: THANK YOU HOLY FATHER FOR DONATION OF $ 500,000 USD

    The ‘Door of Faith’ is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry in his Church.-Porta Fidei 1

    On my behalf as the President of Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) and on behalf of my brother Bishops of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference, I wish to express my sincere heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to His Holiness Pope Francis for his whole hearted support to South Sudan.

    Since Independence of South Sudan, the county has undergone many uncountable challenges; many people have lost their lives, many displaced and majority are seeking refuge in the neighbouring countries. It is evidenced that the country is not stable due to the on and off political instability that deprives the development of the country.

    Despite the postponement of papal pastoral visitation to South Sudan, your solidarity and commitment for the country has been felt by your generous support and donation for the country. This donation will be very useful to provide relief food to the displaced citizens in the refugee camps, create extensive awareness on peace building and promote the dignity of the marginalized with the aim of realizing an everlasting development and peace.

    We want to thank you for the Love in action, kind attention, solidarity, enthusiasm, courage and support for the needy people of South Sudan that your Holiness has brought to the papacy over the past years. As a body of Your Catholic Christians in South Sudan, Your Prayers, Your words of support, Your appeal for Peace, Your heartfelt intention to visit us, Your call for humanitarian intervention for us, and Your recent financial grant another God’s marvel at your holy hands! All these have given us a newfound confidence and strength in the upholding of the dignity of all human life, striving for holiness of life, peace-building activities, support of the most needy, etc.

    Honestly on behalf of my brothers and sisters in in Sudan and South Sudan, your kind great financial donation to us this time of need has added to the millions of reasons we must thank You, dear Holy Father! And that is the grace of your pontificate.

    It began in those exciting early days. Recall the foot-washing ceremony on Holy Thursday? What did the foot-washing represent?  Perhaps Jesus’ awareness that those who lead must first of all serve. When you washed the feet of those youthful prisoners, boys and girls, Christians and non-Christians, you made it clear that Jesus’ message of ultimate self-sacrifice in the service of others is that it must have universal appeal.

    Holy Father! You continue to set good example of how a prelate must approach politics when you have taken your valiant stand on some countries such; Central African Republic, Egypt, Islamic terrorists attacks on innocent lives, Syrian and my countries of Sudan and South Sudan interventions. You have very generously in a consistent approach informed the world that violence begets violence in your call for peace, which is not driven by partisan motives but by a desire to spare innocent lives, transcended narrow political boundaries. Your prayers are being heartfelt and I believe they are achieving tangible results already now.

    The Church proclaims the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person as the foundation of a moral and vision for society. We as the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference, we are strongly committed to promote the principle of common good thus the value of human life and alleviate human sufferings caused by the various calamities (violence, famine, drought, unequal distribution of resource, political instability, insecurity and etc.)

    I am humbled and honoured to acknowledge the whole hearted financial support of $ 500, 000 USD, our Holy Father, Pope Francis. May you be blessed and rewarded by our Heaven Father. The grant has been designated into the abled trustworthy hands of our beloved Missionaries (Comboni Missionaries, Solidarity with Sudan) who have remained us during the worst of ourselves but never abandoned us in the mission. This is a great encouragement and stipends for them to continue to support the poor of this nation. The accountability of this grant donation will surely arrive to Your Holiness when administered.

    The Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference is optimistic that the Holy Father will surely reconsider the Papal pastoral visitation to grace the torn apart country of South Sudan.

    We promise that we shall continue to pray for you always in our daily Prayers, we humbly invite your Holy Apostolic Blessing of Peace on us all in Sudan and South Sudan!

    I invoke all God’s blessings and Wisdom upon you,

    Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala

    Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &

    President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference

  • Zambian Priest Elected Vice President for Worldwide Association for Catholic Media Professionals, SIGNIS

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Walter Ihejirika || 23 June 2017

    father samasumo elected signis vpZambia’s Father Paul Samasumo has been elected as one of the two SIGNIS World Vice Presidents for the period 2017 - 2021.

    The Italy-based Fr. Samasumo who is head of Vatican Radio’s English Africa and Ki-Swahili Services becomes the first African to hold one of the top three positions in the worldwide association for Catholic media professionals known as SIGNIS.

    The election of Fr. Samasumo took place on the occasion of the SIGNIS World Congress 2017 which has just ended. The meeting was held at Laval University in Canada’s Québec City from 19 June to 22 June.

    American National Ms Helen Osman was elected SIGNIS World President taking over from Mr Gustavo Andujar who did not seek re-election. The two 2017 - 2021 Vice Presidents are Fr. Samasumo of Zambia and Mr LJ Sinniah of Malaysia. The three together with the Treasurer constitute SIGNIS world’s executive committee.

    The SIGNIS World Congress 2017 in Quebec was held under the theme  "Media for a Culture of Peace: Promoting Stories of Hope.”

    Commenting on his election, Fr. Samasumo said he sees his election at the top helm of the Catholic Association as an honour to all Africa. 

    “I am humbled and grateful to the assembly for their confidence in me and my continent, Africa. I thank my superiors at the Pontifical Secretariat for Communication who have always given me the space to work with SIGNIS. My candidature was actually not proposed by Africa, but once it was made, my African brothers and sisters at this Congress warmly embraced the idea,” said Fr. Samasumo.

    Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the SIGNIS World Congress, The African Assembly of delegates elected Nigerian priest and university professor, Fr. Dr Walter Ihejirika as new SIGNIS Africa President.

    SIGNIS is a worldwide association of Catholic communicators representing more than 140 countries. Its members are national associations grouped by regions of the world. There are six regions: Africa, Latin America, North America, Pacific, Asia, and Europe, as well as an International Group composed of international organisations. I

    The administrative headquarters of SIGNIS, the General Secretariat, is in Brussels. There is also an office at the Vatican, SIGNIS Services Rome, which provides technical and material support to church and secular organisations all over the world.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Mali's Catholic Church Demands Tougher Regional Stance against Islamists

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Jonathan Luxmoore || 21 June 2017

    catholic church in mali against islamistsMali's Catholic church has urged a common front against Islamist violence after al-Qaida-linked terrorists attacked a tourist resort just days before the creation of the country's first cardinal.

    "Although our church hasn't been directly targeted, it's deeply affected by such attacks," said Msgr. Edmond Dembele, secretary-general of the Mali Catholic bishops' conference.

    "The international community should urgently help Mali and other countries in this region to curb these outrages. When the people of Mali are struck in this way, neighboring states are struck as well. The echoes of fear and insecurity are felt throughout Africa," he said.

    Meanwhile, authorities continued the investigation into the June 18 attack on Le Campement Kangaba resort, east of the capital Bamako, which left nine dead, including four assailants.

    Msgr. Dembele told Catholic News Service June 21 that sporadic rocket attacks on military and civilian targets across the country had fueled "popular tensions," as well as fears of intercommunal violence between Christians and Muslims.

    "For now, this isn't an interreligious conflict. No one has been attacked because of their faith," Msgr. Dembele said.

    "But we're worried the situation could deteriorate rapidly. As long as there's a lack of security, no one feels safe and sheltered, and anyone can be caught suddenly by the violence," he said.

    Four attackers were captured by Malian special forces, backed by French and United Nations troops, during the resort attack. The gunmen has seized hostages and killed two soldiers and three civilians. The hostages ultimately were freed.

    An Islamist group, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed credit for the siege, which was branded a "jihadist attack" by Mali's Security Minister Salif Traore.

    The northern city of Timbuktu was placed under tight security after a simultaneous June 18 attack on its airport.

    The attacks were the latest in a five-year Islamist insurgency, and were the most serious since a November 2015 terrorist attack on the Radisson Hotel in the capital left 22 dead, half of them foreign company employees.

    Msgr. Dembele said Mali's Catholic and Protestant churches had urged "prayers for peace," and were "profoundly concerned" about recent events.

    He added that the pope's May 21 nomination of Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako as Mali's first-ever cardinal had enhanced the Catholic Church's importance and its possibilities for contributing to reconciliation.

    "The pope chose Archbishop Zerbo because of his work for interreligious dialogue, as well as for his engagement in wider national unity. I'm sure his nomination will bring fruits in these areas," Msgr. Dembele said.

    About 200,000 Catholics live in Mali, a country of 17 million people.

    Cardinal-designate Zerbo, who has headed the Malian Catholic Church since 1998, has been widely praised for fostering Christian-Muslim dialogue and helping facilitate government-opposition talks after ethnic Touareg separatists overran most of northern Mali during 2012, operating alongside Islamists linked to al-Qaida.

    Despite a 2015 peace deal that allowed rebel fighters to be integrated into the national army, Touareg and Islamist attacks have continued, delaying the return of displaced Malians from neighboring Niger, Mauretania and Burkina Faso.

    However, his elevation was marred by May 31 reports in France's Le Monde daily and other newspapers, accusing him of holding secret accounts in Switzerland with the British-based HSBC bank.

    Msgr. Dembele told CNS that the claims had been denied by a June 1 bishops' conference statement, which insisted all church money had been used "with total transparency" by an interdiocesan commission.

    He said the "unjust accusations" had been designed to "damage the church's image in Mali," and said the bishops' conference would soon provide further information to discredit the "false media reports."

    "There are so many armed groups now, all attempting to prove themselves with steady supplies from abroad, that it's difficult to coordinate negotiations," the secretary-general said.

    "We really need the whole international community to reflect on how the Sahel region's problems can be tackled. By helping Mali develop and offer hope to its people, it'll also be helping Mali's neighbors and contributing to peace and stability."

    Cardinal-designate Zerbo promised President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at a June 2 meeting the church would continue "working alongside the state to implement reconciliation and peace in Mali," according to the bishops' conference website.

  • Giving Psychosocial Support to Abused Children: Interview with A Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa in Kenya

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Lilian Muendo || 20 June 2017

    supporting abused children in malindi 2017The Kenyan coast is famous for its beautiful white sandy beaches with palm trees, the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, coral reefs, and sand dunes. But the sunny beaches are a hub for European sex tourism, especially sex with minors.

    A 2006 study by UNICEF indicates that an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 girls between 12 and 18 years old living in Kenya's coastal areas of Malindi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Diani have been sexually exploited, and 2,000 to 3,000 girls and boys are exploited on a regular basis.

    The sex tourism affects more than just the exploited children: It has changed the local attitudes toward sex. Naomi Kazungu, manager at the governmental Malindi Child Protection Center, told GSR an average of 324 cases of child abuse are reported in Malindi every month. Out of these cases, an average of 28, almost 9 percent, are sexual abuse incidents, though few cases are reported to the police. Of those reported, most are dropped because of interference with witnesses by perpetrators, bribes to investigating officers or threats to victims by culprits.

    The Pope Francis Rescue Center is working in Malindi to ensure that minors get the help they need and to bring perpetrators to justice. The Diocese of Malindi started the center in 2015 to rescue the children and immediately remove them from the harmful situation. Every three months, the center takes in at least 45 sexually abused children.

    On a daily basis, children as young as 3 years old, both girls and boys, narrate harrowing details of sexual abuse, often by people close to them. Individuals, sometimes family members, molest and destroy their future.

    Sr. Redempta Kabahweza of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa, once known as the "White Sisters," is a counselor providing psychosocial support to the children at the center.

    Global Sisters Report recently sat with Kabahweza and heard about her struggles dealing with the children's tales of deep suffering and traumatic experiences about the sexual violence they have survived and how she finds the inner strength to keep fighting for justice.

    GSR: You are Ugandan. How did you come to Malindi, Kenya, and to the Pope Francis Rescue Center?

    Kabahweza: A few months before the profession of my final vows, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Malindi, Bishop Emmanuel Barbara, called our superior general and requested help in running the Pope Francis Rescue Center. The diocese had just completed construction [on the center]. The superior general wrote letters to three of us: Sr. Margarita Rodriguez from Spain, who was to be the center's nurse, Sr. Maggie Kennedy, who was going to be the administrator, and myself as a counselor, though when [Kennedy] arrived from the U.K., she decided to continue with her mission of awareness against human trafficking.

    I was very excited to undertake the role of counselor because it was the first time I was going to practice my counseling skills. I really wanted to work with the kids, and so I was dispatched here immediately after my final profession. I was very happy.

    How has it been so far dealing with the children?

    It has been very fulfilling, but not easy at all. Listening to what the little kids have gone through breaks my heart. When I arrived here, I found a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl who had been sexually abused repeatedly. Can you imagine? Two and a half years old. That's an infant who is still breastfeeding. She didn't even know how to talk. She struggled calling me "Sister." Instead, she would pronounce it "Thithita" because she was still learning how to talk. You wonder how a man in his sober senses would defile a baby! So it has been very distressful.

    Does listening to these children's sexual abuse experiences traumatize you, too?

    Yes, it does. And not only me, but also everyone else taking care of the children here. When a sexually abused child is rescued and brought into the center, you see the sadness in every person's face. Our social workers, the house parents, our nurse and even the drivers who transport the children here get very traumatized.

    Out of all the people dealing with the children, you are the person who listens to their traumatic experiences of sexual violence. How do you cope?

    Everything I hear from the children is very traumatizing. Since I'm the counselor, they open up about every detail of their abuse after a short while. Some of the things they tell me are confidential, and I have to keep them to myself. Sometimes, this is overwhelming, and I lock myself in my room and cry so much. My superior has to counsel me twice a month.

    For example, today I have been playing with two girls aged 4 years who came to the home in a bad state after being sexually molested. I need to investigate who victimized them, for this is my duty. Our legal officers cannot proceed to file court cases before confirming our suspects and getting the kids to testify.

    One of them through a masculine doll was able to confirm that it was her maternal uncle who molested her, even though a police statement states that she was involved in an accident through which her private parts were bruised. Her hospital examination had confirmed that she had been sexually abused.

    Today, she even asked me if there was a possibility that her uncle could by any means break into the center and kill her. He had threatened to do so if she ever told anyone what he had done to her. I had to cuddle her and give a firm assurance that there was no way on Earth that her uncle could get near her. Today, that was a breakthrough for me as a counselor.

    Apart from counseling the children, is there any other support you offer?

    Because they have to be integrated back to their families after three months' stay at the center, I have to visit their homes and talk to their relatives and assess if taking the child back to the family poses further harm. Sometimes, I also have to counsel the relatives on how to best ensure their children are not exposed to pedophiles in the family or in the wider society.

    I also prepare the kids for testimonies in court. For example, one of the 4-year-olds already testified in court about her defilement incident. Afterward, the court officers called us to say that the case file was missing and the child needed to testify again. I just said no to them. She is not ready to go through the testifying process again. And I have a strong feeling someone has been bribed to lose that court file.

    What motivates you to continue with your work despite the trauma?

    The bishop of Malindi, Bishop Emmanuel Barbara, saw the "crime against humanity" in this region and felt that something must be done. He started the Pope Francis Rescue Center based on the social teaching of the church: to have a society where all children live with dignity and their rights protected. Its mission is to offer a holistic approach to children who are vulnerable to sexual abuse regardless of race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or gender and to enable them to realize their full potential. My congregation is very much dedicated to the work of justice and peace. I also am very dedicated to that mission, and I want to see justice for these little kids.

    Every case the center takes to court and every progress we make toward attaining justice is my daily motivation. Every child we integrate back to the family after months of counseling gives me much satisfaction. I want to continue being here so that I can follow up to the children who go back to their families because I want to make sure they are safe and not abused again. They trust me to protect them from their abusers, and giving up will be letting them down. I will also not have peace of mind until such an age when they can protect themselves. When they call me "Sister" and share with me all their fears from the outside world, I'm more convinced that I need to be here for them. They are very vulnerable.

    [Lilian Muendo is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • ‘The Pope for South Sudan’ Initiative to Donate $500,000

    Zenit || By Deborah Castellano Lubov || 21 June 2017

    pope donates 500000 dollars to south sudanPope Donates About Half a Million Dollars to Help War-torn South Sudan in Areas of Education, Healthcare and Agricultural Projects

    The ‘Pope for South Sudan’ is the Vatican-backed initiative which will donate about half a million dollars to help those suffering in war-torn South Sudan.

    Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented the initiative “The Pope for South Sudan” at 11.30 today, June 21, 2017, at a press conference on the project in the Holy See Press Office.

    Speaking with him were Dr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis; Sr. Laura Gemignani, Nzara General Hospital, South Sudan; Sr. Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan.

    In his remarks, Cardinal Turkson discussed the intervention supported by the Holy Father in favour of the population of South Sudan, called “The Pope for South Sudan”.

    The war in South Sudan, the African cardinal explained, continues to claim victims. In 2013, the conflict began and caused a very grave humanitarian crisis that sees more than half the population, around 7.3 million people, suffer from hunger on a daily basis. The life of thousands of people has been put at risk by an unprecedented cholera epidemic; a million and a half inhabitants have been forced to flee their villages and cities as a result of the war; in this country massacres and atrocities take place, systematic and generalized, perpetrated against civilians for ethnic reasons; and women and children are victims of violence and abuse every day.”

    Universal Pastor Showing Solidarity

    As a universal Pastor, Cardinal Turkson stressed, Pope Francis is a universal pastor who overcomes boundaries.

    “He feels the pressing need to raise awareness among the international community of this silent drama, calling for greater and renewed efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” he said.

    “The Pope wanted to make tangible”–the Ghanaian prelate stressed–“the Church’s presence and closeness to the afflicted people through this initiative, that aims to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations present in the territory and which work tirelessly to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace.”

    Concrete Initiatives in 3 Realms

    Through this Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, the Pope is launching initiatives in three main areas:

    Health: “Two projects are in the field of health. These are two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters operating in South Sudan: the Wau Hospital, and the Nzara Hospital.”

    Education: “One project concerns the field of education: through the association “Solidarity with South Sudan”, it is intended to provide two-year scholarships for students to enable them to obtain a Master’s degree primary school teaching at the Solidarity Teacher Training Centre in Yambio.”

    Agriculture: “In the field of agriculture, a project run by Caritas Internationalis that involves around 2,500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Tombura-Yambio and Torit, through tools to encourage farming and livestock breeding, aiming to increase the capacity of local communities to sustain themselves.”

    Does Not Forget, Will Visit

    “The Holy Father,” Cardinal Turkson stressed, “does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhuman conflict, and he does not forget all those people who are forced to flee their native country as a result of abuse, injustice and war – he remembers them all in his prayers and in his heart.”

    Pope Francis, the cardinal also reiterated, “firmly hopes to be able to make an official visit to the country as soon as possible.”

    “The Church does not give up hope in such a troubled territory; but instead urges bold choices and belief that Divine Providence is capable of achieving what in the eyes of the world seems unreal or impossible.”

    Lamenting that while attempts to bring some peace must be achieved, in order to plan a trip, he stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan.

    If this can be done, a visit by the Pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will take place.

    Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, in recent months had noted that the conditions in the African nation did not permit for an October 2017 visit as hoped, and therefore, the visit is not expected to take place until at least 2018.

    Source: Zenit…

  • Pope’s Ultimatum in Nigeria’s Ahiara Diocese Rooted in 2014 Letters

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 20 June 2017

    roots of pope ultimatum in nigeria in 2014 lettersPope Francis's recent demand for all the priests of a Nigerian diocese to write him pledging loyalty, including accepting the bishop he's confirmed, may seem to come out of left field, but in fact it builds on a similar request made by the Vatican in 2014 and rejected at the time by the dissident priests.

    To the casual observer, a recent papal threat to suspend every priest from an entire Nigerian diocese might seem to have come out of left field. However, Crux has obtained evidence that the situation has been brewing for at least three years, following a similar Vatican demand for submission.

    An ultimatum issued by Pope Francis earlier this month, insisting that every priest in the diocese write a letter apologizing for refusing to accept papal authority, was first made in a letter dated June 24, 2014, and signed by Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni.

    CRUX EXCLUSIVE: Cardinal Filoni’s Letter to Ahiara Diocese

    The Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican department overseeing missionary territories, Filoni didn’t threaten to suspend the priests as Francis did on June 8. He does, however, insist that they accept Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, appointed by Benedict XVI to the “beloved” diocese of Ahiara in 2012, “out of deep affection and profound solicitude.”

    When the bishop was appointed, both priests and laity protested because Okpaleke is not from the area’s dominant Mbaise linguistic group. They demanded instead to have “one of their own” selected for the job.

    Filoni told the dissidents in the 2014 letter that their “almost ideological and prejudicial opposition” to the bishop has “NO credible or justifiable motive.” [Emphasis in the original.]

    According to the prefect’s letter, being “a son of your diocese” isn’t a primary factor for evaluating the appointment of a bishop. The Church, he says, “has other criteria,” including a person’s “human virtues, his moral and spiritual qualities, his pastoral experience, his capacity for guiding a community of the faithful.”

    For the appointment of Okpaleke, Filoni says, bishops, priests, religious, and laity were consulted, both in Nigeria and Rome.

    “And yet, some have claimed for themselves the right to impede him in the exercise of his pastoral ministry in the Diocese.”

    In a segment of the letter addressed especially to the priests, who on the day of their ordination declared obedience “to their proper bishop, to their successor and to the Holy Father,” Filoni accuses them of disobedience, “which is inflicting a wound on ecclesial communion.”

    Seeing this disobedience, he says, “I would therefore expect an act of sincere and profound repentance, presented in the form of a letter from all of you, signed individually by each of you, asking the Holy Father for forgiveness. I know that Pope Francis is waiting for such a sign of affection!”

    He closes the letter expressing his support for Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, the national capital, who had also been appointed by Francis as a temporary administrator of the diocese. The priests and laity who reject Okpaleke protest Onaiyekan’s leadership, too.

    Two months later, on August 22, 2014, a response was sent to the Vatican by the Association of Diocesan Priests, in the name of the priests and laity. It was allegedly signed by all but seven priests, however the copy obtained by Crux only has five names at the end of the 16-page long missive, only three of whom signed it.

    CRUX EXCLUSIVE: Response to Cardinal Filoni’s Letter

    They call for an “independent Vatican visitor” to have a “tete-a-tete” with them. “We are neither rebellious nor disobeying the Pope. On the contrary, we are crying for justice to be done in the Church of the Holy God.” [Again, the emphasis is in the original.]

    The letter has 43 points, and is full of quotes from the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law. The latter is used to argue that they’re within their right in appealing for the pope to get personally involved to resolve the matter, together with the Vatican’s Secretary of State: “We have impeccable confidence in them.”

    They claim to have both “permission and obligation” to protest the bishop, and throughout the letter they mostly do so by pointing out that no bishop from rural Nigerian dioceses has recently been created, and that it’s time for them to get a bishop who is “close to us.”

    The priests write that their refusal to accept the papal appointment of a bishop is not disobedience, and that Ahiara will continue to be the “Ireland” of Nigeria, as the region is often called for the great number of vocations to the priesthood, many of whom are then sent to missionary territories.

    “To put it simply: He is not a pastor close to us. And our request has been for a pastor close to us,” they write, arguing that the Ahiara diocese is a rural one, made up of a largely poor and agrarian homogenous Mbaise population.

    In his June 8, 2017, communication, Francis gave the priests of the diocese until July 9 to submit a letter of obedience, or face suspension from office.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Bishop in Ghana Shares Uniqueness of Church owned Insurance Company

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 19 June 2017

    catholic insurance on towing services in ghanaBishop Gabriel Edoe Kumordji, SVD, of Keta-Akatsi Diocese in the Volta Region of Ghana has said that Quality Insurance Company (QIC) Limited, owned by the Catholic, is the only Insurance Company in Ghana that that offers free towage as one of the non-insurance benefits in the event of an accident or breakdown.

    Bishop Kumordji, who is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of QIC said this at the 20th Annual General Meeting of the Company in Accra recently.

    He noted that QIC is also the only Company provided courtesy car option, free break down assistance as a way of promoting loyalty to counter the downward pressures on pricing than now.

    He said that in 2016, the Company invested in digital information technology for insurance renewals, claims processes and quotation, noting that its performance illustrated the opportunities and benefits in electronic business processes.

    He noted that the phenomenal impact that technology had on the business was creating exciting and viable new opportunities for QIC, stating however that, capitalizing on this opportunity required strong focus on innovation.

    The Bishop said the management had articulated a strategy to re-engineer the business of Company and had set themselves a target to achieve GHc40, 744,904 in revenue by year 2017 with a 52 percent increase in profit before tax.

    He noted that “while these are aggressive and ambitious goals, the Board strongly believes that these are eminently achievable through game changing initiatives.”

    Meanwhile, the Quality Life Assurance Company (QLAC), a Company also owned by the Catholic Church also held its 10th AGM simultaneously with QIC with a call on Catholics to consider taking their portions of rights issue in the Company by buying shares to recapitalize the Company.

    Kintinka Sir Dr. Kwame Donkor Fordwor, Chairman of the Board of Directors of QLAC, said the directives for all insurance Companies to raise their minimum capital base to GHc15m by end of 2016, made the Board prepared and circulated Prospectus for a rights of issue of shares to all shareholders during the year.

    He noted that the response was not “favourable because of which the national Insurance Commission had written several times to us demanding our current position on recapitalization.”

    The Board Chairman said this offer was still opened to all, notifying that “the alternative option available to us is to offer your shares to strategic investors to take over the company. This may however, not inure to the benefit of the Catholic fraternity.”

    He stated that the Board and Management were optimistic about the future of the Company and were committed to improving QLAC through top notch customer Service.

    Kintinka Fordwor told the shareholders that “our resolve is to ensure the continual growth of the Company,” saying that a strategic plan had been drawn for QLAC to continue to attract and maintain a highly motivated and dedicated workforce to generate high and sustainable value.”

  • As Clock Ticks on Pope’s Ultimatum, Nigeria Diocese is in Tumult

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 19 June 2017

    tumult in ahiara diocese in nigeriaFollowing a dramatic show of papal authority in Nigeria, with Pope Francis demanding that all the priests of a diocese write him a letter pledging their loyalty and promising to accept the bishop the pope has appointed, the matter seems far from resolved. Some priests seem willing to go along, while others are submitting a half-apology, and others are even calling for the pope's resignation.

    With the clock ticking on Pope Francis’s threat to suspend the priests of an entire Nigerian diocese, the matter seems far from resolved, with many clerics still insisting on revolting against a bishop appointed by Pope Benedict XVI back in 2012, even calling for the pontiff to resign, while others are supporting the pope’s strong stance.

    On June 8, Pope Francis issued a seemingly unprecedented threat, giving the priests of the diocese of Ahiara a 30-day deadline: Either write to him promising “total obedience,” or face suspension.

    The crisis began when Benedict appointed Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke to the diocese in southern Nigeria. He doesn’t belong to the majority Mbaise group, and as such, he’s been rejected by members of the clergy and the laity who want to see “one of their own” appointed to a position of leadership.

    However, many local observers believe the conflict started much earlier, some going so far as to say the seed was planted when men who “should not have been ordained” became priests.

    “The situation in Ahiara is not unique to Ahiara. It is a situation you may find in any diocese where a few priests, who ought not to have been ordained in the first place, escaped detection at the seminaries,” said Doctor Mark Nwoga.

    After becoming priests, he argued, these men become “disobedient to their bishops, materialistic and violent.”

    Nwoga, a dentist and professor by profession, is one of the lay people on Mbaise who’s in favor of Okpaleke taking possession of the diocese of Ahiara. For him, the decision to support the bishop was an easy one: “I am one of the Catholic laity trying to live and practice our Catholic faith. My involvement with those welcoming and planning the installation of our bishop was a consequence of this basic reality.”

    In the case of the Ahiara diocese, he said, the rejection of the papal appointment of Okpaleke was reportedly originated by three “politician” priests who “contaminated the hearts and minds of other priests and laity.”

    The priests who’ve revolted claim the Vatican is discriminating against them, never creating a bishop among them despite the many vocations to the priesthood coming from the diocese.

    When Francis announced that he expected for them to write a letter apologizing for their behavior and promising loyalty to the pontiff, including in the matter of episcopal appointments, they originally responded saying that the request was false.

    They claimed it did not come from the pope but from those supporting the bishop, including Cardinal John Onayekan of Abuja, the national capital, who was appointed by Francis as administrator of the diocese in 2013 in an attempt to resolve the crisis.

    When the Vatican posted the papal message on its website, they had no choice but to accept that it came from the pope. Since then, they’ve responded in various ways: there are those who are going to comply, those who are signing a letter promising obedience but rejecting Okpaleke, and those who are calling for Francis’s resignation.

    Some have even called on Imo state governor, multimillionaire Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha, to help them fend off Vatican sanctions. The politician confirmed this himself, through a press statement. When the crisis began, he had urged the rebelling priests to accept the papal mandate.

    Since the crisis began, the diocese has been severely affected, beginning with the fact that for the past five years there have been no confirmations or ordinations, since both are reserved to the bishop.

    Last week, Francis welcomed Onayekan, Okpaleke and several other priests and lay people who support the bishop in a Vatican meeting. However, Crux has learned that the side opposing the bishop was invited to select five representatives to take part in the same meeting, but ignored the pope’s invitation.

    A letter which circulated via email and WhatsApp and which was sent to Crux, calls the invitation, extended through the papal representative in the country and Onayekan, a “‘nuclear assault’ like the one that ended the Second World War.” Written before the meeting with Francis, the letter calls the trip a “Trojan horse ride to Rome,” since at the time they believed the bishop was going to be installed in Ahiara from Rome.

    Crux also obtained a draft letter that is being circulated among the priests in Ahiara, addressed to “Most Holy Father Pope Francis,” and titled “Apology.”

    Written in a fill-in-the-blanks style, those who chose to use this letter will in fact, express their fidelity to the pope and the Church, apologize for rejecting the episcopal appointment, and promising to accept whomever he decides should be the bishop of Ahiara.

    However, each of those who sign this draft version, will also send a warning to Francis: If he were to insist on the same bishop, “I plead in filial confidence and trust that in conscience, I may not willingly work well with him as my bishop in the diocese. Nevertheless, his personal safety in the diocese may be at stake.”

    They argue that the scandal surrounding the appointment has created divisions in parishes, diocesan organizations and the presbytery, while “starving the diocese of sacraments for years.”

    This, they say, has produced animosity, hatred, grief and tensions “among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.”

    Crux has contacted several of the priests and laity who oppose Okpaleke, but attempts to get their reactions to Francis’s request have gone unanswered.

    However, a statement signed by Chijike K Ndukwu, who’s been active on several on-line forums on this issue, calls for the pope’s resignation: “I really think that Pope Francis should resign as the successor of St Peter. The reason is that he failed to squarely fit into the position of Peter in this matter.”

    Ndukwu writes that they would have a better chance to be heard by the head of the Italian mafia, accuses Francis of scattering the people of the diocese, and calls for the pope to apologize to the diocese as he recently did, in the name of the Church, for the role Catholics had in the Rwandan genocide.

    Nwoga, on the other hand, defined the pope’s request as “good news,” welcomed “but long overdue.”

    Answering to Crux’s questions via email, he said that this “firm declaration” had been expected three years ago, to help “nip the scandal to the people of God.”

    Yet he doesn’t resent the fact that it took so long: “The church being wiser and more experienced preferred to exhaust all the charitable options. We now pray that those led astray during the crisis of disobedience would have a change of heart and return to the Catholic ways of obedience and love for our mother the Church.”

    He believes the rebellion began with three priests, who slowly but steadily caused the uproar. As per his recollection, the original response by the diocese to Okpaleke was jubilant. The mood changed at the lobbying of the Association of Diocesan Priests who paid “nocturnal visits” to other priests, to convince them of their cause- having a local priest appointed as bishop.

    The fact that Okpaleke is from another region is in keeping with a long-standing Vatican tradition, applied almost exclusively in Africa, to purposely appoint a bishop from another ethnic group or tribe to showcase the universality of the Church. For this reason, some observers believe that one way of solving the issue is to appoint a priest from the region as bishop in another diocese, or as an auxiliary in Ahiara.

    It is unclear at this point how many of the estimated 130 priests in the diocese are going to comply with Francis’s request. Nwoga told Crux that some of them have “always been loyal to the Holy Father and his appointee.”

    The rest, can be divided between a “small political lobby group of priests who are looking for loopholes in the directive, and determined to continue resisting,” and the majority of the priests in the opposition, who have “been victims of deception from the political group, and made to believe that an indigenous priest would be appointed only if they held out a little longer.”

    In this latter group, Nwoga said, “there is progress.”

    According to Church law expert Claudia Giampietro, the only similar recent precedent of what is going on in Ahiara happened in Sierra Leone in 2011. On that occasion, Benedict appointed a bishop to the diocese of Makeni, who was rejected for ethnic reasons.

    The difference, however, is in that situation Francis didn’t threaten to suspend the priests of the diocese, but entrusted it to an Apostolic Administrator and eventually appointed another person.

    Regarding the possibility of the pope going forth with his threat, Giampietro explained that it’s technically possible.

    “The Roman Pontiff can suspend a priest a divinis, as he’s the Supreme Legislator and he can ask the priest for an explicit and personal adherence to his disposition in extraordinary cases,” the canon lawyer told Crux.

    The suspension, which is a censure intended for the clergy, prohibits the celebration of the sacraments in public, unless it’s to attend to the needs of a faithful in danger of death.

    However, Giampietro said, “If the priests defy the suspension and try to have independent authority, they are automatically excommunicated.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Catholic Church Shelters Muslims Fleeing Violence in CAR

    Aljazeera || By Azad Essa and Sorin Furcoi || 18 June 2017

    catholic church sheltering muslims in car june  2017More than 1,500 Muslims who found refuge in a church over a month ago are growing restless and desperate, priest says.

    At least 1,500 people, mostly Muslim civilians, currently stuck in a Catholic church in the country's southeast, are growing increasingly desperate, a priest has told Al Jazeera.

    The displaced people took refuge in the cathedral in the town of Bangassou after fleeing deadly violence in mid-May.

    "The situation is not safe enough to leave, and so they cannot move from here," said Father Alain Blaise Bissialo, the priest at the church.

    "There are men who walk around town with guns."

    The crisis in Bangassou began between May 13-17 when Anti-balaka, a vigilante militia made up of mostly Christians, launched a series of attacks on Muslims in Tokoyo, a largely Muslim district of Bangassou.

    Thousands flocked to a nearby mosque to seek refuge.

    Yet, the mosque was subsequently attacked too, culminating in the killing of the local imam.

    In an attempt to save civilians at the mosque, the Catholic bishop sent trucks to Tokoyo to transport as many civilians as possible back to the church for their safety.

    "At last count, 150 people were killed during the violence since mid-May, but this number could rise," Antoinne Mbao Bogo, president of the local branch of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera on Friday.

    Alidou Djibril, a displaced person at the church, said there was a shortage of food and clothes.

    "It's hard for us, we have to stay in the same place, we cannot move, and we are fasting," he said.

    Djibril said they only received food one week after arriving at the church, adding that the Anti-balaka were not allowing traders to bring food to them.

    According to the United Nations, most of Bangassou's 35,000 residents fled, some to sites for internally displaced people and others across into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

    MINUSCA, the UN's mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), said the security situation in Bangassou has calmed significantly, adding, however, that it was still not safe for the displaced to return home.

    "Despite the MINUSCA patrols, the area is not safe enough and their homes and businesses have been destroyed, and so many have nowhere to go," Vladimir Montiero, MINUSCA spokesperson, told Al Jazeera from Bangui.

    "It is not safe for them to leave the church."

    Bob Libenge, acting president of the local branch of the Red Cross, told Al Jazeera that some people were sleeping inside the church and the rest were outside, on mats, within the complex.

    Food and sanitation

    Meanwhile, a number of nongovernmental organisations have come forward to assist with food and sanitation.

    There has been an escalation of violence across central and southeastern parts of the CAR over the past two months, with armed groups clashing in Bria, Alindou and Bakouma in particular.

    Earlier in the week, MINUSCA warned the Popular Front for Renaissance of Central African (FPRC), a group associated with the Seleka, to not attack Bangassou.

    Sources at the UN say that MINUSCA is concerned that there would be revenge attacks on the Christian civilian population if the group entered the city.

    CAR has been beset with violence since Muslim-led Seleka fighters unseated the country's president in a coup in 2013.

    Following a spate of abuses by the Seleka, a vigilante militia called the Anti-balaka, made up of Christians and animists embarked on a series of revenge attacks on the Muslim community.

    While the CAR has no history of sectarian conflict, armed groups have increasingly manipulated religious fault lines to expand their influence.

    In 2016, CAR held a successful general election. But a year later, President Faustin-Archange Touadera's government wields little influence outside his capital.

    At least 14 groups, including different incarnations of the Seleka, rule the countryside, monitoring roads, collecting taxes and policing the population.

    The UN says that the country is facing a dire humanitarian crisis. More than 50 percent of CAR's population requires humanitarian assistance.

    At least one in five Central Africans are currently displaced, the highest proportion since the height of the crisis in 2014.

    Source: Aljazeera…

  • Zambia “at the crossroads, in a crisis”: Church Leaders Rebuke President

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 19 June 2017

    church leaders in zambia talk toughChristian leaders in Zambia have lamented the state of affairs in the country, blaming it all on “the blatant lack of political will” on the part of the governing party, strongly rebuking President Edgar Lungu.

    “Our country today stands at the crossroads and we are in a crisis. We face many challenges related to governance; the muzzling of people’s freedoms and human rights violations,” the Church leaders have stated in their strongly worded letter of June 16.

    The leaders are part of the three Church Mother Bodies in Zambia, comprising the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB).

    The leaders have related the arrest, alleged torture and detention of the leader of the opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, with the mistreatment during colonial times saying, “In this country, only senior citizens well over 60 years can remember the British Colonial Administration using dogs on us Africans. It was unthinkable that a Zambian Government would sink so low as to unleash dogs on its own people.”

    The opposition leader was arrested on April 10, 2017.

    “Hichilema has been in custody since he was arrested in a late night raid on his home by heavily armed Police Service personnel who used unprecedented force and brutality in apprehending just one unarmed citizen,” the Church leaders have stated and further explained, “The State Police brought along dogs of the German shepherd breed that defecated in the vehicle meant to carry Hakainde Hichilema.”

    They also lamented lack of media freedom.

    “We Church leaders maintain that the presence of 80 radio stations, online newspapers and independent television stations in Zambia does not mean press and media freedom,” the leaders said, explaining, “Media and press freedom is about journalists and media institutions doing their work without fear, intimidation and threats; it is about news editors publishing and airing what they judge as newsworthy for public good, especially in holding public officers to account.”

    The leaders regretted that their collective effort to seek audience with the country’s President have been not been fruitful.

    “Our aim was to bring to his attention, some national issues that are of great concern to the Church,” the leaders have said.

    “Now that we have not been allowed to succeed along that path, we have decided to issue this statement to let the powers-that-be and the people of Zambia know our position on what is happening in the nation,” the leaders have stated in their statement to the press.

    Below is the full text of the Christian Church leaders statement.



    "The Truth will Set You Free" (John 8:32)

    1. We the leaders of the three Church Mother Bodies namely: the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) are saddened at the continued state of political tension in the country and the blatant lack of political will by our leaders to address the root causes of what is obtaining. As Church leaders who have a God-given mandate of exercising the prophetic mission in our nation and in our time, we cannot afford to simply stand aside and look. Our country today stands at the crossroads and we are in a crisis. We face many challenges related to governance; the muzzling of people’s freedoms and human rights violations. As Zambians, we all need to examine our conscience, seek the truth and work towards bringing back hope to our people.

    2. We are also mindful of the timely message of Prophet Micah: “What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). We strongly believe that more than ever before, our political leaders need to pay heed to this message and put it into practice.

    3. As the three Church Mother Bodies, we have always said that our prophetic voice on national issues is only motivated by our wish to see the Government do better and succeed. It is in that spirit that we have for several weeks engaged State House officials and sought an appointment to meet the President, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. Our aim was to bring to his attention, some national issues that are of great concern to the Church. Now that we have not been allowed to succeed along that path, we have decided to issue this statement to let the powers-that-be and the people of Zambia know our position on what is happening in the nation.

    Zambia Motorcade Treason and Plot!

    4. Actions by the government of President Edgar Lungu in imprisoning the opposition leader Mr. Hakainde Hichilema are viewed with growing amazement and alarm. Hakainde Hichilema’s arrest for treason was at first dismissed as an intimidatory gimmick by President Lungu after the so-called “clash of the motorcades”. Hichilema was arrested on 10th April 2017; and days behind bars for Hichilema have turned into weeks and now months (2) for the leader of the opposition UPND. In addition, the view that President Lungu is creating a new dictatorship is fast gaining ground as was expressed in the statement issued by ZCCB on 23rd April 2017 that, “The country is in all, except in designation a dictatorship and if it is not yet, then we are not far from it.” With the current state of affairs, it is difficult to see how the UPND can easily recognize the legitimacy of Lungu’s re-election in August 2016.

    5. Hichilema has been in custody since he was arrested in a late night raid on his home by heavily armed Police Service personnel who used unprecedented force and brutality in apprehending just one unarmed citizen. The State Police brought along dogs of the German shepherd breed that defecated in the vehicle meant to carry Hakainde Hichilema. Under whose instructions were the police behaving in that way? The Inspector General or his Commander in Chief?

    6. In this country, only senior citizens well over 60 years can remember the British Colonial Administration using dogs on us Africans. It was unthinkable that a Zambian Government would sink so low as to unleash dogs on its own people. The British have been gone for 53 years now but we are still using the same tactics to intimidate our own people. It is true then that oppressed people just take on the behavior and style of their oppressors. Are we liberated as a nation or are we still mentally chained in the ways of our former rulers that include the One-Party dictatorship of 1973-1991?

    7. Outrage over Hichilema’s arrest and incarceration is growing within and outside our country: The USA, European Union, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa (where two opposition leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance have voiced their outrage). Even Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change has sharply criticized Lungu’s actions because it sees the similarities with their own political leaders across the Zambezi.

    8. The present PF Administration is avoiding to address the root causes of the present political crisis and tension in this country. Leadership, particularly at national level, requires integrity, truthfulness, honesty and sincerity. We believe that the political leadership has failed on this score. “The Truth will set you free,” so says our Lord Jesus Christ (John 8:32). There is no substitute for the Truth. There cannot be national reconciliation and healing through manipulation of truth. The kind of leadership we have now is the one that allows law breaking as long as it benefits the powers that-be. If this is not dictatorship, then what is it?

    9. The political leadership must admit that the situation in the country is characterized by tension; the country is polarized. The politicians of the Administration must not ignore what is obtaining in Zambia today; it is a contest between good and evil. The Church through its leaders is determined to stand on the side of good. We are fully aware that more often than not, the fight for Justice is not a path filled with many pilgrims, but is a lonely journey by courageous leaders and a small number of followers. It is often repeated that all evils needs to thrive is silence from good people. It does not matter that only the Church raises the voice or just one leader in the Church raises his voice. The fact remains that the state of the nation today is exactly what the Church says it is, namely, a dictatorship in which force and violence are used to intimidate the population and subdue opposition of any kind by means of institutions such as the Police, ZRA, the Judiciary and the Legislature, among others. Those holding public office are now used to violate human rights of individuals and groups of people, especially those perceived to be opposed to the political establishment.

    10. Institutional violence is a fundamental measure of a dictatorship. This is why the ZCCB stated that “the political environment in Zambia today is characterized by manipulation, patronage and intimidation of perceived government opponents. We urge the government to stop using state security institutions to intimidate its own nationals. The Police Service in particular must be professional and impartial in carrying out their duties of maintain law and order” (Cf. Pastoral Statement of the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), Issued on Thursday, 23rd January 2015, #5.1).

    11. Yes, we in the Church Leadership are not repentant; Zambia eminently qualifies to be branded a dictatorship. The fact of the matter is that only leadership that does not have the will of the people on its side or thinks it does not have the will of the people on its side uses state institutions to suppress that same will of the people.

    12. It is short sighted to proclaim that the closure of the Post Newspaper does not constitute lack of press freedom. Yet it is an indicator to the disposition of the powers-that-be. We Church leaders maintain that the presence of 80 radio stations, online newspapers and independent television stations in Zambia does not mean press and media freedom. Media and press freedom is about journalists and media institutions doing their work without fear, intimidation and threats; it is about news editors publishing and airing what they judge as newsworthy for public good, especially in holding public officers to account. It is about upholding democratic governance that gives public and civil society institutions the chance to play their rightful role of providing checks and balances to the political establishment without looking over their shoulders for fear of closure, arrest or attack. Media freedom borders on the UNDHR Article 19 which says among other things that “every person has a right to make his or her mind, to think what they like, to say what they think and to share their ideas with people in any way they feel befitting.” What happened to MUVI TV? It was closed after the August 2016 elections and there was such a massive presence of the police immediately following the Mongu Presidential Motorcades Saga that MUVI TV was not allowed to report on that incident. What happened to the Post? It was fixed as the President had promised! What happened to Komboni Radio and Itezhi-tezhi Radio? What happened to Post Newspaper Journalist Peter Sukwa and his counterpart Kelvin Phiri from Feel Free Radio in Chipata at the hands of PF sponsored thugs in Eastern Province? If these are not signs of dictatorship, what are they signs of? Certainly not of a democratic dispensation!

    13. It is a fallacy to postulate that the arrest of one man cannot make this country into a dictatorship. We in the Church leadership think otherwise. It is not the numbers of the afflicted victims that count. It is the principle. Theft is theft whether one is dealing with One Kwacha or a Billion Kwacha. It is how state institutions and agents apply the law when dealing with “one of the least of the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 25:31-46). The dictum that God knows how to count only up to one when it comes to his children is the truth that makes us realize just how each one of us is important in God’s eyes because we are all children. That we should treat one another no less than God himself treats us is the evergreen litmus test which defines how civilized society is!

    14. The indictment of the Police Service as being unprofessional was not invented by the three Church Mother Bodies; it is found written in black and white in the judgment of Magistrate Greenwell Malumani which tells us that the conduct of the Police in this case was not in line with the law and Police Professional ethics! Quoting the learned Judge, the Episode “exposed the Police’s incompetence, unprofessionalism and criminal behavior in the manner they handled the arrest of Hakainde Hichilema.”

    15. After he was arrested, Hakainde Hichilema was subjected to inhuman treatment. He refused to go into the police vehicle littered with dog faecal matter which the Police wanted to use to transport him and his co-accused; at Lilayi Police Compound, he was illegally and allegedly tortured without access to beddings even though the law says one is innocent until proved guilty by courts of law. Weeks before the Mongu Presidential “Motorcade Saga,” a State Agent Kampyongo and a PF Agent Mumbi Phiri clearly told the nation at different occasions that HH would be charged with treason and treated like a rat in the process. True to their words, HH was arrested on a treason charge in a manner that cannot be said to be human because it violated both his constitutional and human rights. Now Hakainde Hichilema has been transferred to the Maximum Security Prison even though he has not been pronounced guilty after the due process of the law. He was tied like a dog because he refused to go. HH is not an ordinary criminal but a political prisoner who should be treated with respect. We therefore call for the release of HH from prison. If he is charged with Treason, an un-bailable offence, let him be under house arrest as the trial goes on instead of treating him as if he has already been found guilty. Our thoughts and prayers also go to other political prisoners who are innocently suffering in several Correctional Centres. History has an uncanny knack of repeating itself. The first Republican President with some of his famous/fellow freedom fighters were imprisoned and restricted to remote areas by the colonial administrators. In fact, the option of house arrest and restriction to defined areas was pursued by the Kaunda and Chiluba regimes and could have been considered by the present regime. That notwithstanding, the late President Chiluba was imprisoned by President Kenneth Kaunda. President Chiluba later threw President Kaunda into maximum security prison and he had to be rescued by late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere! Late President Micheal Sata was thrown into Chimbokaila Prison by President Mwanawasa. Mwanawasa did not live long enough to be thrown into prison by Michael Sata. However, the historical reconciliation between President Mwanawasa and Michael Sata still ring fresh in our memories. Today, we have HH thrown into maximum prison by President Lungu; we leave it to you to guess what the future is likely to be!

    16. The crux of the matter is that the UPND challenged the Presidential Election Result as provided for in the Zambian Constitution but the petition was not heard due to a technicality. On the other hand, the PF are demanding that the UPND must accept the presidency which they challenged in the first place. Since the matter was not heard in court and is now out of court, this impasse can only be resolved by using an open, sincere and respectful dialogue, with both parties open to discussion and compromise where necessary, for the sake of this country and the future of our children. Intimidation, threats, arbitrary arrests, even the State of Emergency promised us by the President cannot succeed in diffusing the political tension we have put ourselves in, thanks to the intransigence of our political leaders! We appeal to both the Party in the government and the Opposition to put the interest of our great country above their own.

    17. Indeed, what has happened to us as a nation? Where are our values as human beings and as Christians? Is this what it means to be a “Christian Nation”? How can we celebrate the incarceration of one of our own flesh and blood being taken to a maximum prison even before he is found guilty and keep quiet? We in the Church leadership feel for HH, for his young children, for his wife, relatives and friends. The pain they feel is ours and it is also the pain of the entire nation, whether we like to admit or not. Not only that, we are greatly concerned that the inhumane treatment of some of our nationals is likely to poison the next generation.

    18. All the three Church Mother Bodies (CCZ, EFZ and ZCCB) have prison ministries whereby we visit prisons and attend to the spiritual needs of the convicts. We do it not because we condone their actions or their wrong doing. We do it because they are our fellow human beings; they are our sisters and brothers. We do it because it is a biblical requirement on our part as our Lord Jesus reminds us: “I was in prison and you came to see me” (Matthews 25:35-37; 42-43). Everyone, convicts included, deserves our love, compassion and support, not condemnation, for the only one who has the power to condemn, God, does not condemn but redeems us and loves us into life. As Christians, one fundamental value we should cherish and keep nourishing is compassion for those going through hard times regardless of our relationship with them. Hatred is the exact opposite of Christianity.

    19. In this nation, where has compassion and solidarity with the suffering gone? What does it mean to be a Christian Nation? Why do we take pleasure in the misfortune of others? We harbor hatred and resentment against each other and waste a lot of time and energy in a sickening destruction of each other instead of building one another. Let us use this negative energy in acknowledging, appreciating our rich diversity of tribes and cultures, and building each other to the stature of a great One Zambia - One Nation. Tribalism is a cancer that can kill a nation if not constantly kept at bay. The political leadership has a sacred mandate to keep this nation united and must desist from statements that go to polarize people into ethnic groups that thrive on ethnic bigotry. We have only one country; let us cherish and support one another for the greater glory of God.

    20. In conclusion, we demand that efforts be made to have an all-inclusive National Indaba which should address the many challenges we are facing. We also demand that government takes the lead in organizing and effecting the proposed National Indaba. As we have stated before, the Church stands ready to mediate but is also open to other eminent and neutral persons mediating. Further, we expect H.E. Mr. Edgar C. Lungu, to act as Republican President whose aim is not only to protect the good of the members of his party (the PF), but also and more importantly, be the guardian of ALL ZAMBIANS, regardless of their political affiliation. We firmly believe that this nation can overcome all our current political differences through genuine dialogue aimed at true reconciliation and national building.


    ____________________        __________________            ________________

    Archbishop T-G Mpundu       Bishop Alfred Kalembo          Bishop Paul Mususu


    Issued to the Press on Friday, 16th June 2017

  • Catholic Church Celebrates 200 Years of Existence in Southern Africa

    The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || By Mgr. Clifford Stokes || 15 June 2015

    Bi-centennial Celebration of the Church in Southern Africa

    Historical traces of the development of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa

    south africa church marks 200 yearsIn June 2018 Catholics in Southern Africa will celebrate the bi-centenary of the establishment of the Catholic Church in the region of Southern Africa.

    From the time of the discovery of the Cape, ecclesiastical jurisdiction over it belonged to the Portuguese mission under the authority of the king of Portugal. After the establishment of the Dutch East India Company at the Cape in 1652, the practice of the Catholic religion was de facto prohibited.

    It was only in 1804 that Jacob Abraham de Mist, the Commissioner-General of the Cape Colony, decided that “all religious societies which for the furtherance of virtue and good morals worship an Almighty Being, are to enjoy in this Colony equal protection from the laws” and in 1805 three Dutch priests arrived to minister to the Catholics of the Cape. One of them, Fr Johannes Lansink, was appointed Prefect Apostolic. The following year, however, the British colonial authorities, which had taken over the Colony in the meantime, ordered them to leave the region.

    On 7 June 1818, Pope Pius Vll erected the Vicariate Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope and adjacent territories. Subsequently the Island of Mauritius was added, and so were New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land (effectively, modern day Australia).

    In 1820 the first Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Bede Slater OSB, stopped at Cape Town for three weeks on his way to Mauritius where he was to reside, leaving behind Fr Patrick Hurst Scully as chaplain to the local Catholic Community. By then, religious tolerance had made some progress. Fr Scully was succeeded by Fr Theodorus Wagener who was later joined by Fr Thomas Rishton OSB. Bishop Slater was succeeded by Bishop William Placid Morris OSB, who also resided at Mauritius.

    On 6 June 1837, Pope Gregory XVI constituted the Cape of Good Hope (i.e. the entire region of southern Africa) a separate vicariate and appointed Bishop Patrick Raymund Griffith OP as the first resident vicar apostolic.

    On 14 April 1838 (Holy Saturday) Bishop Griffith stepped ashore at Cape Town. While initially interested in evangelizing black people, he essentially ministered, quite successfully, to white settlers. He can be considered as the founder of the Catholic Church of South Africa.

    In 1847, the Vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope was divided into the Vicariates of the Western District and the Eastern District of the Cape of Good Hope, of which Fr Aidan Devereux became the first Vicar Apostolic. It was he who invited, in 1849, the first group of religious sisters to South Africa.

    In 1852 the first four Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrived to establish a mission in Natal. They later set out to evangelise Lesotho.

    On 24 May 1872, the Prefecture of the Central District of the Cape of Good Hope was detached from the Western Vicariate. Further subdivisions took place in subsequent years. It was not until the 1880s that the first Southern African mission in what is today South Africa was successfully established by the Trappists. Indeed, long absent from the missionary scene, the Catholic Church’s missionary thrust in Southern Africa started to grow rapidly in the 20th century.

    Also belatedly, but with increasing vigour, various sectors of the Church began opposing the apartheid regime in the second half of the century.

    On 11 January 1951, Pope Pius XII established by Papal Bull the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy in the then Union of South Africa, and set up the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Cape Town (comprising the suffragan sees of Aliwal, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth, Queenstown and De Aar); Durban (comprising the suffragan sees of Mariannhill, Eshowe, Kokstad and Mthatha); Pretoria (comprising the suffragan sees of Johannesburg, Lydenburg, Swaziland and Pietersburg); and Bloemfontein (comprising the suffragan sees of Kroonstad, Bethlehem, Kimberley, Keimoes and Lesotho).

    Further growth has taken place in the Church of Southern Africa since then: new dioceses have been created; Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Namibia – which had been part of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference – left the Conference to establish their own Conferences in 1969, 1972 and 1996 respectively; and the ecclesiastical province of Johannesburg was created in 2007 with the diocese of Johannesburg being raised to the status of an archdiocese.

    The Catholic Church in Southern Africa Today and Bicentenary Celebration

    Celebrating 200 Years of Catholic Faith

    It was on June 7, 1818 that Pope Pius VII erected the Vicariate Apostolic of the Cape of Good Hope and Adjacent Territories, thus constituting for the first time a formal presence of the Catholic Church in Southern Africa. While the first beginnings of the Church in Southern Africa had their origin in Cape Town, in the almost 200 years since then, the presence of the Catholic Church has grown to the extent that there are now twenty-eight dioceses and one vicariate apostolic in our Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) which includes South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland.

    To commemorate the bi-centenary of the formal establishment of the Church within our Bishops’ Conference, we shall inaugurate our celebrations with a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Flight into Egypt on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 3.00pm. Because of the limited space, invitations to this celebration are to be sent to priests and deacons in the Archdiocese, to chairpersons of parish pastoral councils and three parishioners in each parish, to religious superiors, to the lay leaders of each of the three sodalities in the Archdiocese, to the Regional Grand Knight of the Knights of da Gama, to the Magistral Delegate of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and to a representative of the Migrant and Refugee Communities in the Archdiocese.

    Moreover, an invitation has also been extended to all the bishops of the SACBC since, while the origins of the Church have their roots in Cape Town, the intervening 200 years have witnessed the spread of the Church throughout Southern Africa. It is worth noting that the “adjacent territories”, referred to in the papal document of June 7, 1818, included both Australia and Mauritius and for this reason, an invitation will be sent to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of both territories to visit Cape Town during the bi-centennial year.

    During this Mass of Thanksgiving, tribute will be paid to the selfless contributions of those heroic early pioneers, both priests, religious and laity from far-off lands, by whose dedication and untiring efforts, the seeds of the Church were first planted in the Cape of Good Hope, as it was then known, and throughout Southern Africa.

    We owe an immense debt of gratitude that can never be expressed adequately to so many religious congregations for their establishment of schools in our Archdiocese and throughout Southern Africa as a whole, and their invaluable contribution in the field of education during these two hundred years.

    We owe much too to those members of religious congregations who have established hospitals and hospices for the sick and the dying and also to those whose charism is to minister to the poor and the destitute. At the offertory procession during this Mass, symbols of their contributions to the Southern African Church will be brought up and displayed in the sanctuary.

    To further celebrate these heroic contributions by so many who, in face of much difficulty and often opposition, have brought the light of Christ into Southern Africa, during the Mass of Thanksgiving a specially decorated candle will be blessed and given to every bishop (or his delegate) to be taken back to his Cathedral and placed in a prominent position during this bi-centennial year. We hope to be able to present to every parish priest a copy of the papal document of June 7, 1818 for display in his church.

    During the twelve months following upon the Mass inaugurating the bi-centennial year, there will be other large Archdiocesan celebrations. We are presently looking for a sufficiently large venue to accommodate 8000/9000 people for the celebration of a Mass. This would then be our principal celebration. Since we have not yet found such a suitable venue at a reasonable cost, we may have to extend our search further away from the city centre. This would be a Conference celebration at which all the bishops of the SACBC would be present.

    As a secondary Archdiocesan celebration in the course of the bi-centennial year, there will be a Eucharistic procession starting from the Holy Cross parish, District Six and ending at the steps of our Cathedral with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. During the procession, there will be prayers for the enrichment of family life in our Archdiocese, for our young people and youth, for the elderly, for the sick and for migrants and refuges. Our prayers will reflect the Church in human solidarity with everyone. The details of this event will be advertised in due course.

    There has also been a request for a national celebration in Cape Town at which all the bishops of the SACBC would be present. The possibility of such a celebration is currently being investigated.

    During the bi-centennial year, there will be at least one large celebration in each deanery in the Archdiocese of Cape Town. There are eight deaneries in the Archdiocese and each, under the leadership of a dean who is a priest elected by the priests of each deanery, consists of a cluster of between eight and ten parishes. The dean’s role is to promote pastoral co-operation among the parishes that constitute the deanery.

    On the Solemnity of All Saints celebrated on Sunday, November 5 this year, there will be a celebration in each deanery focussing upon Our Forefathers and Foremothers in the Faith. Also, as part of our year of celebration, Archbishop Stephen Brislin has agreed to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at deanery level in 2018, where requested, rather than in individual parishes, thus promoting a greater sense of Church among those who are to receive the Sacrament.

    Special liturgies are also to be arranged in parishes during this year of celebration. These could include a Lenten penitential celebration where the Church’s Failures of the Past are considered, an Advent or Lenten parish mission focussing upon the Renewal and Awakening of Faith, and an Easter celebration emphasising our personal invitation to Share in the New Life of our Risen Saviour.

    Two special projects to include our Youth and School-going Children and their involvement in the celebration of 200 years of the Church in Southern Africa have also been arranged. The first includes two ‘Bi-centennial Catholic Schools Choir Festivals’ which will be held in the Cape Town City Hall on Sunday, August 27, 2017 and on Sunday, October 27, 2017. These choral festivals will showcase the talent of our Youth and recount the story of Catholic Education in South Africa.

    The second project concerns a Youth competition entitled ‘Exploring our Catholic Heritage’. Parishes and Catholic Schools will soon be inviting our Youth to tell their story through a heritage research project. The best entries will be published in the Archdiocesan News. Details of this project will be circulated to Catechetical and Religious Education Co-ordinators shortly.

    To close the bi-centennial celebrations, there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving at noon on Sunday, June 10, 2018, hopefully in every Cathedral, parish and mission station throughout Southern Africa. At that Mass, a recorded message from Pope Francis will be aired, and the special candle distributed at the opening Mass on June 25, 2017, will be lit in every Cathedral in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, and bells will be rung, thus symbolising the solidarity of faith between all of us.

    A media committee has been established to advertise the events planned for this year and produce a bi-centennial brochure with a calendar of events. This committee will also take responsibility for advertising major events during the year of celebration in the printed media and for ensuring that the archdiocesan website is up-to-date as far as events planned for the year of celebration are concerned. A prayer card reflecting a special prayer for the bi-centenary year in Xhosa, English and Afrikaans will soon be made available through the media committee.

    An exciting year in which we shall celebrate our faith and those who have been instrumental in bringing it to Southern Africa is soon to be inaugurated. Let us prepare well through our prayers and the offering of our Masses for this grace-filled time of remembrance of those who have gone before us in the faith.

    Compiled by Mgr Clifford Stokes, Vicar General in the Archdiocese of Cape Town

    For More information Contact:

    Mgr. Clifford Stokes

    Tel: 0214622417

    E-mail: stokesc@adct.org.za

    Source: The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference… 

  • At Loreto School, South Sudanese Girls from Diverse Tribes Live in Peace

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Paul Jeffrey || 15 June 2017

    unity in diversity at loreto school rumbek 2017In a country wracked by civil war and ethnic strife, Irish nuns have created a unique space where young women can dream of a better future and begin to acquire the skills that will help them construct it.

    Opened in 2008 by the Irish Loreto Sisters, the Loreto Girls Secondary School brings girls from throughout this ethnically diverse country to study and learn together.

    A Mennonite volunteer from the United States told Catholic News Service it is a unique environment in a land torn by civil war since 2013.

    "The school is an oasis in a country overcome by violence. One of the first casualties of trauma is imagination; you become incapable of imagining a future that's better or different. These girls want to become engineers and teachers and doctors and lawyers, and they can hold fast to those dreams because the school gives them the space to dream," said Nicky Hess, an emergency room nurse from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who helps run the school's clinic.

    She said the school offers the girls something rare here: an opportunity to just be kids.

    "I play basketball with them, something that people do all over the world. But too many children here are rushed to mature, and they have to care for their younger siblings at such a young age. It's refreshing to see kids just be able to play and have fun without having to be responsible all the time. That's a part of childhood that everyone deserves."

    When the school opened in 2008 with 35 students, Loreto Sister Orla Treacy -- who had spent two years learning to speak Dinka -- became its principal.

    Today, the four-year boarding school has 251 girls. Students come from throughout South Sudan. In a country where tribal identity has fueled violence, inside the school the girls teach each other their tribal dances. And they speak English, the official language, which puts everyone on common footing.

    "While the girls' clans and tribes may be fighting with each other outside, inside the school the girls live in peace and harmony," Sister Treacy told CNS.

    She said harmony is nurtured by a system in which first-year students are considered daughters, second-year students mothers, third-year students grandmothers, and fourth-year girls are called great-grandmothers. There are 10 "families" in the school, each one mixing girls from different tribes.

    "They learn to live with each other, learn from each other, and initiate each other into school life. The older ones advise the younger ones on all the normal challenges girls face," Sister Treacy said.

    The system is designed for girls with no suitable role models at home.

    "My mother advised me about school, and the women in my family could advise me about education. Or perhaps they didn't have to advise me because I just saw them do it before me. But in our case here, these girls are the first in their families to complete secondary education. So they don't have an elder role model in their family to advise them. The family system in the school gives them that nurture they might not get at home," Sister Treacy said.

    In a country where most girls fetch a bride price of several dozen cows, most of the students face strong pressure to get married.

    "Whenever you go home for holiday, your family members ask when you're going to be finished with school," said Martha Athiei, 20, the school's head girl. "They want cows. 'We are suffering and it's because you are at school,' they say. Sometimes they call us old women, even though we're young. ... But we believe we have a better future if we stay in school."

    Athiei wants to be an accountant. "I want to help the government and our people understand the importance of having financial knowledge, because there's a lot of corruption. The people in charge only employ their family members instead of (employing) a person who is capable. I want to do my university in Kenya, then come back here and help my people," she said.

    The school has experienced a kind of mission creep over the years, Sister Treacy said.

    "The local chief told us at the beginning that there was also need for a primary school and a clinic, but we didn't have that capability at first," Sister Treacy said. "And while we were serving the needs of girls nationally, many girls just outside the gate of the school were not even going to primary school. Same with the boys. And there was some tension in the community that donated the land because their own children weren't being given a chance."

    When Sister Treacy hired a man to teach the school's workers English, he asked if he could start a kindergarten for their small children. That opened in 2010, with the children meeting under a tree, and in succeeding years it has become a full-blown primary school with 600 children in the morning. An accelerated learning program for 300 older children meets in the afternoons. Another Loreto sister came to be the primary school principal, and most classes have moved from under the trees into newly completed classrooms on the burgeoning campus.

    But even that wasn't enough. "When the primary school was open the chief started banging on the door asking when we were going to open a clinic. We explained that we were primarily a teaching congregation, but then God blessed us with a sister from Kenya who's a nurse with experience in community health. So we started a clinic," Sister Treacy said, noting that the clinic also provides supplemental feeding for malnourished children and mothers from the area. "We never sat down and said, 'Today we'll do this and tomorrow do that.' Things just developed. God provided."

    A more pressing need, however, is a boys' secondary school. "We have 13 boys graduating from primary this year, and the nearest school for them is 8 kilometers (5 miles) away. In a few years we'll have 50-60 boys graduating every year. The chief has given land for a boys school, and we're actively looking for a congregation that wants to come to South Sudan and start a secondary school for boys," Sister Treacy said.

    Opening a boys school won't be easy, however. South Sudan is a country at war. The school is reluctantly building a wall around its campus, employing local women to make the bricks and local men to lay them. A third of the secondary students are now unable to travel home at the end of terms, because there's fighting in their communities or their families are displaced. And Sister Treacy said it is hard at times to get enough food for the school, as displaced farmers are not planting crops, and trucks that can bring food from neighboring areas have to run a gauntlet of armed militias. Prices for food, when it's available, have skyrocketed.

    A boys' school might face less cultural challenges, however.

    "When you do girl education in a country like this, everything you do is subversive," Sister Treacy said. "Girls simply don't get educated here. Fifty percent of girls are married before they're 18, and here we are knocking on the doors of families telling them to send us their daughters to get educated. There are a lot of people who aren't happy with what we do."

  • Full Text of Pope Francis’ Ultimatum to Priests of Ahiara Diocese in Nigeria

    full text of pope ultimatum to nigeria priests 2017Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ address to the delegation from the diocese of Ahiara in Nigeria, given at the Vatican on Thursday, June 8, 2017.

    I cordially greet the delegation and thank you for coming from Nigeria in a spirit of pilgrimage.

    For me, this meeting is a consolation because I am deeply saddened by the events of the Church in Ahiara.

    In fact, the Church (and excuse the wording) is like a widow for having prevented the Bishop from coming to the Diocese. Many times I have thought about the parable of the murderous tenants, of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Mt 21:33-44), that want to grasp the inheritance. In this current situation the Diocese of Ahiara is without the bridegroom, has lost her fertility and cannot bear fruit. Whoever was opposed to Bishop Okpaleke taking possession of the Diocese wants to destroy the Church. This is forbidden; perhaps he does not realize it, but the Church is suffering as well as the People of God within her. The Pope cannot be indifferent.

    I know very well the events that have been dragging on for years and I am thankful for the attitude of great patience of the Bishop, indeed the holy patience demonstrated by him. I listened and reflected much, even about the possibility of suppressing the Diocese, but then I thought that the Church is a mother and cannot abandon her many children. I feel great sorrow for those priests who are being manipulated even from abroad and from outside the Diocese.

    I think that, in this case, we are not dealing with tribalism, but with an attempted taking of the vineyard of the Lord. The Church is a mother and whoever offends her commits a mortal sin, it’s very serious. However, I decided not to suppress the Diocese. Instead, I wish to give some indications that are to be communicated to all: first of all it must be said that the Pope is deeply saddened. Therefore, I ask that every priest or ecclesiastic incardinated in the Diocese of Ahiara, whether he resides there or works elsewhere, even abroad, write a letter addressed to me in which he asks for forgiveness; all must write individually and personally. We all must share this common sorrow. In the letter:

    1. one must clearly manifest total obedience to the Pope, and

    2. whoever writes must be willing to accept the Bishop whom the Pope sends and has appointed.

    3. The letter must be sent within 30 days, from today to July 9th, 2017. Whoever does not do this will be ipso facto suspended a divinis and will lose his current office.

    This seems very hard, but why must the Pope do this? Because the people of God are scandalized. Jesus reminds us that whoever causes scandal must suffer the consequences. Maybe someone has been manipulated without having full awareness of the wound inflicted upon the ecclesial communion.

    To you brothers and sisters, I would like to express my sincere thanks for your presence; and also to Cardinal Onaiyekan for his patience and to Bishop Okpaleke, whose patience and humility I admire. Thank you all.

    Source: News.VA…

  • Bishop Bala “was brutally murdered,” Catholic Bishops in Cameroon Confirm

    The Cameroon Daily Journal || By Ngah Alvin || 14 June 2017

    bishops confirm bishop bala brutally murderedCatholic bishops in Cameroon have ended an extraordinary plenary at the headquarters of the National Episcopal Conference in Mvolyé, Yaounde in which they held the government to task, asking that it sheds more light on the circumstances regarding what is now clearly the assassination and not suicide (as initially believed by some) of the erstwhile Bishop of Bafia, Msgr. Jean Benoit Balla. At the end of the assembly June 13, the clerics sent out the statement bellow that we publish unedited.

    1-The Catholic Church in Cameroon experiences a difficult and delicate moment in its history and mission. Indeed, on the morning of Wednesday, May 31, 2017, the car of Monsignor Jean Marie Benoît BALA, Bishop of Bafia, was in an abnormal parking position on the Bridge of Childhood at the place Ebebda, in the direction of Bafia. The Bishop was reported missing.

    2 -As soon as the Bishop disappears, the civil and religious authorities and the public authorities go to the scene. Oriented by a strange message found on the front seat of the car, next to his national identity card and other personal pieces, they ordered the Fire Brigade, to undertake the searches of the body From the Bishop to the bottom of the river. The search continues until the morning of Friday, June 2, 2017, when the remains of the Bishop were found by a fisherman a few kilometers from the Childhood Bridge at Tsang and brought back to the bank by the elements of Defense forces. The body was identified by Our Ladies Piero PIOPPO, Apostolic Nuncio in Cameroon, Samuel KLEDA, President of the Episcopal Conference, Jean MBARGA Archbishop of Yaounde, in the presence of the civil and administrative authorities, including the Governor of the Central Region. The mortal remains were taken to the Yaoundé General Hospital.

    3-On Saturday, June 3, 2017, a notice of death and a message of condolence were addressed to the sons and daughters of the diocese of Bafia and to the natural family of the deceased by the President of the Episcopal Conference and the Archbishop of Yaounde.

    4-At present, the body is at the disposal of the judicial authorities with a view to investigating the circumstances, the exact causes and the perpetrators of this heinous and unacceptable crime.

    5-The tragic death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA shocked and upset the People of God, all Cameroonians and international opinion. Given the initial findings, we, the Bishops of Cameroon, affirm that Mons. Jean Marie Benoît BALA did not commit suicide; He was brutally murdered. This is one more murder, and one more.

    6- We have the sad recollection of several other prelates, members of the clergy and consecrated persons who have been murdered under conditions that have not been elucidated to this day. These include Monsignor Yves PLUMEY (Ngaoundéré – 1991), Abbé Joseph MBASSI (Yaoundé – 1988), Father Antony FONTEGH (Kumbo-1990), the Sisters of Djoum (in 1992), Father Engelbert MVENG to quote that.

    We feel that the clergy in Cameroon are particularly persecuted by obscure and diabolical forces.

    To the State of Cameroon,

    7-The Bishops demand that all the light be given on the circumstances and motives of the assassination of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA.

    That the culprits be identified and delivered to the Justice to be judged according to the law.

    That the State should assume its duty to protect human life, especially the ecclesiastical authorities.

    The Bishops also await the official conclusions of the inquiry.

    To the murderers, The Bishops pray for them and ask them to embark on a process of urgent and radical conversion.

    To media men and social networking users,

    8 -The Bishops ask them to renounce defamation, lies, calumnies, and recommend them respect for the dignity of the human person, truth, modesty and discernment in the treatment of certain information.

    To all those who have mobilized, To the populations of Ebebda and its surroundings,

    9 -The Bishops thank them for their efforts to search for the body of the Bishop, often at the risk of their own lives.

    To the faithful of the diocese of Bafia,

    To the natural family of Bishop Jean Marie Benoît BALA,

    To all the People of God,

    10 – We say to you: keep courage, Christ has conquered the world (cf. Jn 16:33). Your Pastors carry with you the pain of this sad disappearance. Let not your faith fail. Draw the necessary forces in the Eucharistic celebrations, the prayers of your departed Pastors and also for peace and justice in our country.

    11 -That the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, Our Lady of Sorrows, Patroness of Cameroon, accompanies us in this hard trial.

    Done at Yaounde, on 13 June 2017

    For the Bishops of Cameroon

    † Samuel KLEDA

    Archbishop of Douala

    President of the NCPC

    Source: The Cameroon Daily Journal… 

  • South African Council of Churches Calls for Dissolution of Parliament

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Bronwen Dachs || 12 June 2017

    south africa council of church for parliament dissolutionFollowing its own findings of severe corruption in government, the South African Council of Churches called for the dissolving of parliament and new general elections.

    The government "has lost its moral legitimacy" and new polls are needed, the South African Council of Churches said in a June 10 statement. The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference is a member of the council, which met June 6-8 near Johannesburg.

    In April 2016, the council set up an "unburdening panel" for anyone who had participated in or knew of corrupt activities. The report, based on that panel, reveals an elite group "that parcels out contracts and other opportunities for their circles against the interests of good governance and against the common good of the South African citizenry," the statement said.

    Members of parliament display "complete moral bankruptcy in the execution of their responsibilities in upholding the laws of the land," it said.

    General elections are needed "to secure a fresh mandate based on acceptable values and on integrity," it said. South Africa's next elections are due in 2019.

    The country needs a national convention that includes a broad base of South Africans to find consensus on values and to work toward "the realization of the post-apartheid promise of South Africa," which is "just, equitable, reconciled, peaceful" and free of corruption and deprivation, the churches said.

    The council's report on the panel's findings noted that "South Africa may be just a few inches from the throes of a mafia state, from which there may be no return -- a recipe for a failed state."

    The panel's findings were presented at a May 18 council of churches meeting in Regina Mundi Catholic Church, Soweto.

    Among those who approached the panel were local government staffers "who were pressured to divert funds inappropriately to certain activities that had nothing to do with the work and purpose of the budget," the report said.

    "There were people who were prevailed upon to rig tender process in favor of certain companies and individuals, or bend and tailor regulations for a specific desired outcome," it said, noting that while most people opted to stay anonymous, some chose to go public.

    "Some came forward only to share their experiences with no desire to be publicly revealed, but to clear their chests only," it said.

    "Others were ready to go public, and these we encouraged to go to the Public Protector (a state watchdog agency) and they did," the report said, noting that these stories are in the Public Protector's report released last November, which "has yet to be acted upon by the government."

  • Bishops in Southern Africa Commend Lesotho Citizens for “peaceful” Elections, Recommend “reconciliation among the political elite”

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 12 June 2017

    lesotho and imbisa bishops report 2017 electionsThe Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference (LCBC) together with the Inter-Regional Meeting of the Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) have lauded the citizens of Lesotho for participating in peaceful elections on June 3, but recommended that there be peace and reconciliation among the political elite in the country.

    This is stated in a report by LCBC’s Commission for Justice and Peace (CJP), which collaborated with IMBISA as observers during the elections titled ““2017 Kingdom of Lesotho National Assembly Elections Preliminary Report.”

    “Overall the elections were peaceful and well organized,” the conferences of Bishops in Southern Africa have stated and added, “As Church we applaud this and that it must lead to a long lasting process of how as Basotho people relate with each other.”

    All Basotho Convention (ABC) party leader, Thomas Motsoahae Thabane who returned to the country in February 2017 from South Africa where he had sought refuge in August 2014 because of assassination fears, is set to become Lesotho’s new Prime Minister, succeeding Pakalitha Mosisili.

    ABC did not gain an outright majority in parliament and is expected to form a coalition government.

    Having noted some challenges during the elections, the Bishops under IMBISA have made some recommendation.

    “As Church we recommend that there is need for real peace and reconciliation among the political elite in Lesotho, so that they must preserve the heritage of the country the people, their values of life, costumes and gains from their ancestress,” the Bishops have stated in their report.

    The Bishops under IMBISA have added, “The Kingdom of Lesotho need deep soul searching as a nation with regards to peace, reconciliation and dialogue. It seems there is a lot of rivalry, anger, revenge and hatred amongst the Basotho, who should really enjoy peace, nation building, development and the joy of God’s love.”

    The Church leaders have insisted that new government “facilitate and model a structure of national dialogue based on truth and reconciliation.”

    IMBISA is an organ of Liaison and Pastoral Cooperation between Episcopal Conferences of Angola and São Tome & Principe (CEAST), Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference (LCBC), Mozambique Catholic bishops’ Conference (CEM), Namibia Catholic Bishops Conference (NCBC), Southern Africa Catholic Bishops which is made up of Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland (SACBC) and Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC).

    IMBISA grew out of the desire of the Bishops to discuss matters of common concern and to update each other with regards to developments in each other's country.

    Below is the full report of the Bishops under IMBISA.

    Lesotho Catholic Bishop’s Conference & IMBISA Issues a Report on Lesotho 3rd June 2017 Elections


    1.0 Introduction

    This is a report on the Lesotho National Assembly elections held on the 3rd of June 201. The Lesotho Catholic Bishops’ Conference has mandated the Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) to work in collaboration with Inter-Regional Meeting of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) to observe the 2017 elections. Having been accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), CCJP deployed approximately 120 observers in about 50 constituencies. Some were stationery while some were mobile observers.

    The report therefore focuses on what transpired on the day of voting. This will be based on three main situational aspects, that is:

    Before Poll Opening; During Voting and Poll Closing.

    2.0 Before Poll Opening

    Generally the polling stations opened exactly at 07:00 hours or slightly a few minutes later in the morning. The polling stations were correctly identified with both name and number appearing on the gate or entrance to the station. All voting material were in place before the start of the voting. These included the voters roll, ballots, candidate lists and pens. Braille voting material for the blind were at most polling stations. The ballot boxes were empty prior to voting.

    3.0 During Voting

    During voting the voters would spent on average 3 to 4 minutes before leaving the voting room. Generally voting went on smoothly. The IEC needs to be applauded for their excellent facilitation and adherence to all the requirements of the voting procedure, in particular:

    The officials were professional, showing that they were trained well to manage the election process. The station managers were present in all the polling rooms responsible for supervising all the processes inside the polling room. Generally they were very cooperative and provided all the information requested by the observers and they were very attentive throughout the whole process with no signs of tiring. The IEC Staff were also visible due to the regalia they were putting on i.e. T-shirts and hats. It made the observers and voters to easily identify them. Their voices were also clear in terms of announcing/calling out the names of voters to all the people who were present in the room i.e. party agents, observers and other IEC officials. It was observed that each official knew his/her role. This was consistent from one polling station to the other.

    In most of the station, every incoming voter, before getting his or her ballot, got a sufficient explanation of the process. Therefore, only a few voters (e.g. elderly) needed assistance.

    There were very few spoiled ballot papers, which can be attributed to people becoming used to voting in short space of times in Lesotho. So voters need not much assistance.

    In cases where voting happened at school premises, the voting rooms were alphabetically allocated, and clearly marked on the door so that a voter would get into the correct voting room easily. Voters could not get lost, in terms of which room to go to cast his or her vote. It was observed that voter names were being checked and marked off before ballots were issued to them. This was done inclusive of the party agents and the IEC officials. It was noticed that each voting officer checked each voter’s hand for ink stains prior to issuing a ballot paper.

    In some cases the layout of the voting booths was secret. Though this needs much more improvement. Those voters who needed assistance were being assisted. It was noticed that the elderly were being given preference to vote and that their vote was secret. Those who were physically challenged had assistance offered promptly by the IEC officials.

    Those voters who did not have the registration cards but had their names appearing on the voters roll were allowed to vote, provided they produced alternative forms of passport, driving license or National Identity Card. In the absence of any of these documents; the Chief or his/her representative and or those present in the voting station witnessed the voter.

    Voters were casting their ballots peacefully without any noticeable form of coercion, intimidation, bribery or interference. Political party agents were in each voting room. These ranged in number because out all the contesting 30 political parties, some were not contesting in other constituencies. This brings the number of party agents to an average of 12 per voting station.

    The police were present in most polling stations. They were aided by assistant police officers who were trained cadres from amongst civilians.

    Media representatives were seen at some polling stations. Additionally, the Catholic Church provided a phone-in platform in collaboration with Radio Maria. All the information was provided live by the observers who were on the ground. Furthermore, they created a whatsapp platform to continually communicate and share information with everyone.

    Generally the voting was done under peaceful conditions, with no incidences of violence observed.

    Most if not all formal retailers, shops, markets. Bottle stores and other public places were closed during the voting period.

    4.0 Challenges

    Despite all the above mentioned best practices, there were some challenges observed during the polling process. These included the presence of the military around some polling stations. They ranged between 4 to 6 in full new uniforms and holding new arms. This was intimidating to some voters. Even the IEC clearly announced on radio that the military had no role to play in the voting process.

    Another observed challenge was the lack of adequate and spacious voting rooms at Ratjomose polling station, which was someone’s house. Everyone was squashed in small stuffy rooms, were one could hardly breathe. The smell of gas and kerosene was chocking. The ballot boxes were always not easily noticeable.

    Most of the polling stations had no visible signs or indications on the road to show or indicate where the polling stations were. One could easily miss a polling station if was not directed.

    Some voting stations were difficult to reach and or enter for physically challenged people, especially those using the wheelchair. The challenges included gaps not bridged for wheelchairs, steps in front of the rooms.

    It seems the way the voting booths were installed compromised the voting secrecy. One could easily see the way someone was voting. It was also observed that the voting booth decks were too high for those physically challenged and were on wheel chairs.

    It was observed that there was no IEC logo on ballot papers. This may present some problems in event that someone lost the election.

    Some voters were visibly drunk or smelling beer and were a bit of some nuisance in some polling stations. Some could be seen drinking whilst in their cars waiting to cast their vote or just milling around the polling station after voting.

    Some voting rooms had very long queues. This was caused by the alphabetical allocations done by IEC. Some voters complained about this and this concerned especially surnames starting with the letter M or N were all put in one voting room.

    5.0 Polling Closing

    The polling ended well and all those who wished to cast their vote managed to do so before the polls closed. Ballots were immediately sealed with all officials present. Then counting was done.

    6.0 Recommendations

    As Church we recommend that there is need for real peace and reconciliation among the political elite in Lesotho, so that they must preserve the heritage of the country the people, their values of life, costumes and gains from their ancestress.

    The Kingdom of Lesotho need deep soul searching as a nation with regards to peace, reconciliation and dialogue. It seems there is a lot of rivalry, anger, revenge and hatred amongst the Basotho, who should really enjoy peace, nation building, development and the joy of God’s love.

    The new government must facilitate and model a structure of national dialogue based on truth and reconciliation.

    Strictly soldiers have no role to play in elections. They should not be found in and around the voting stations at all!!except in cases where they transport elections materials in the mountain areas

    Visible signs should put on the main road to show where polling stations are.

    The level and standard of professionalism and how the IEC conducted the elections should be maintained in Lesotho. Congratulations!

    The IEC should consider basic human rights needs to all elections officials such as water, decent sanitary facilities, food etc

    The electoral law should clearly mention specific buildings or facilities which qualify to be set as voting station e.g. primary schools, local government facilities etc.

    IEC should consider the right time of the year to hold the plebiscite, for instance during winter it may deter others to vote because it is too cold.

    Media rooms should be created at polling stations such that candidates especially political leaders who will be interviewed will not disrupt the smooth flow or process of voting. Their interview on TV or Radio was seen as campaigning as well.

    7.0 Conclusion

    Overall the elections were peaceful and well organized. Though there is room to improve on some challenges identified above. As Church we applaud this and that it must lead to a long lasting process of how as Basotho people relate with each other.

    We wait for the next phase of the election process pronouncement of final results. There is a future for this country. It is not enough to talk about principles, state intentions, and point out injustice; these words will lack real weight or meaning unless they are accompanied by a greater awareness of personal responsibility and through effective action by all. It is too easy to throw back on others the responsibility for injustice, if one does not realize how each one of us is involved in it. This is why personal conversion is needed first. The Christian's hope for a better society comes primarily from the fact that we know that the Lord Jesus Christ is working with us in the world. (Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens. A Call to Action, No. 48).

    The wining parties become the government until they are voted out. The government does not belong to the political party, neither the party belongs to the government. It is a party led government that belongs to all citizens. It is not acceptable for a ruling party to be vengeful against citizens that would not have voted them into power. A good leader treats all citizens with respect and dignity and offers all citizens equal opportunities as much as possible (CCJP 2007). Jesus speaks to all of us and says “so always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the law and the prophets” (Mathew 7: 12).

    Those who will form government must ensure that quick reforms processes are rolled out; that they rejuvenate the Lesotho’s governance structures and they restore respect for human rights of all citizens and maintain the rule of law.

    May God of peace and love bless Lesotho and Basotho

    For More information contact:

    Mr Booi Mohapi (Executive Secretary of Justice & Peace Lesotho)

    Office Tel. +266 22324263

    Mobile: +266 62100688, 58100688, 62121212

    Website: www.ccjp.org.ls

    Email: bmohapi@ccjp.org.ls

  • South Sudanese Catholic Bishop Receives Award from Anglican Church

    MAF: Flying for Life || 07 June 2017

    bishop taban awarded by anglican churchIt may be uncommon for a Catholic to receive an award from the Anglican Church, but 81-year-old Catholic Bishop Paride Taban’s work is exceptional in the area of peace and reconciliation in war-torn South Sudan. In honour of his lifelong work, on 9 June the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lambeth Awards presented Bishop Taban with the Hubert Walter Award for Reconciliation and Interfaith Cooperation.

    Seventeen years ago, Bishop Paride had a radical dream to end tribalism in the Kuron region that had caused much hostility and violence. In 2005 he established the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron with a host of programs to promote cooperation and peace, from sports and theater to agriculture and education. With tribal groups so deeply rooted in traditions that included cattle raiding, results were not fast or easy but over time the region changed.

    'It’s a very peaceful area now,' described Bishop Taban, an MAF frequent flier, when he recently flew from Kapoeta to Juba to begin the process for the England trip to accept the award. 'You can drive 300 km from Boma to Kapoeta. You can travel even at midnight. It’s so peaceful. You can’t believe it. You can live without thinking of any security. At night you can walk through the forest without thinking of any danger. One can’t imagine that there’s such a place in South Sudan.'

    Cattle raiding continues on occasion, but the value of peace is consistently taught. 'It happens because these are cattle raiders from neighboring states,' Bishop Taban says. 'We are working very hard, and if there is an invading, we tell them they shouldn’t go there to take revenge by shooting. We don’t have soldiers; we don’t have police in that area. So the community is the police to solve the problem, and the chiefs are supporting this.'

    Bishop Taban worked toward peace and reconciliation for many years prior to his peace initiative in Kuron, founding the New Sudan Council of Churches in 1989 during the war comprising six churches that acted as a facilitator for peace negotiations. He believed that the church must stand as one body.

    Now at age 81, Bishop Taban stays healthy by exercising regularly and sticking to a vegetarian diet. He lives in a small hut at the Kuron Peace Village where his dream of peace began. 'The people pray that God could give me another 100 years because I came too late to them when I was older,' he says.

    He still travels periodically for work, often flying in MAF’s small Cessna 182 as he did recently with pilot Wim Hobo. 'I started flying MAF since more than 30 years,' the bishop says. 'It’s wonderful. When I’m in MAF, I feel that I’m safe. Thank you so much for all the service MAF has given us, especially since the time when I was dealing with the New Sudan Council of Churches during the 21 years of war. Your service is the one bringing peace for the suffering people of South Sudan. May God bless you and serve the people. Thank you very much for your support.'

    Bishop Taban decided to attend the award ceremony in England for one reason. 'I have to tell the world that there is something good happening in South Sudan, not always just talk of war and death and something negative. South Sudan has something positive. We have an oasis of peace in Kuron.'

    You can read more about the Kuron Peace Village in these two stories: Guns, Cattle, Food and Peace and Development is peace in South Sudan and a short report from MAF Pilot Eivind Lindtjørn about flying the small Cessna 182 to the Peace Village here.

    Source: MAF… 

  • Pope Tells Nigerian Priests to Accept Bishop in 30 Days or Be Suspended

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 12 June 2017

    nigeria priests told to accept bishop 2017Pope Francis is giving priests belonging to the Diocese of Ahiara, Nigeria, 30 days to write a letter promising obedience to him and accepting the bishop appointed for their diocese or they will be suspended.

    The papal text in English was posted June 9 on the blog of Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, president of the Nigerian bishops' conference. Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja told Catholic News Service the same day that the text was what Pope Francis said. The Vatican press office released the text June 10.

    Nigerian church leaders had met Pope Francis June 8 to discuss the situation of Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke, who was appointed bishop of Ahiara by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, but who has been unable to take control of the diocese because of protests, apparently by the majority of priests.

    Initially the Vatican issued only a short communique on the meeting with the pope, describing the situation in the diocese as "unacceptable" and saying the pope "reserved the right to take appropriate measures."

    The protests were motivated by the fact that Bishop Okpaleke is not a local priest.

    In the full text posted later, Pope Francis told the Nigerian leaders, "I think that, in this case, we are not dealing with tribalism, but with an attempted taking of the vineyard of the Lord." The pope also referred to "the parable of the murderous tenants" in Matthew 21:33-44.

    "Whoever was opposed to Bishop Okpaleke taking possession of the diocese wants to destroy the church. This is forbidden," the pope said.

    Pope Francis said he even had considered "suppressing the diocese, but then I thought that the church is a mother and cannot abandon her many children."

    Instead, he said, every priest of the diocese, whether residing in Nigeria or abroad, is to write a letter to him asking for forgiveness because "we all must share this common sorrow."

    Each priest's letter, he said, "must clearly manifest total obedience to the pope" and indicate a willingness "to accept the bishop whom the pope sends and has appointed."

    "The letter must be sent within 30 days, from today to July 9th, 2017. Whoever does not do this will be ipso facto suspended 'a divinis' and will lose his current office," the pope said, according to the posts.

    "This seems very hard, but why must the pope do this?" Pope Francis asked. "Because the people of God are scandalized. Jesus reminds us that whoever causes scandal must suffer the consequences."

    Bishop Okpaleke, the contested bishop, also met the pope and was joined in Rome by other Nigerian bishops and a handful of priests making an unusual kind of visit "ad limina apostolorum" (to the threshold of the apostles) in early June.

    While "ad limina" visits usually are done in national groups, the Vatican communique described the Ahiara diocesan visit using the same term. It noted that the nine-person delegation prayed at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul and in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

    They also participated in a private celebration of the Mass June 8 with Pope Francis. The Vatican did not say if the pope gave a homily.

    Later in the day, the pope held a private audience with the group. Members also had met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and with Cardinal Fernando Filoni and other top officials from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to examine what the Vatican called the "painful situation of the church in Ahiara."

    When Bishop Okpaleke was appointed to the diocese, the announcement was met by protests and petitions calling for the appointment of a bishop from among the local clergy.

    Nevertheless, he was ordained a bishop in May 2013, although the ordination took place not in the Ahiara diocese, but at a seminary in the Archdiocese of Owerri.

    Ahiara is in Mbaise, a predominantly Catholic region of Imo state in southern Nigeria. Bishop Okpaleke is from Anambra state, which borders Imo to the north.

    A petition to Pope Benedict launched by the "Coalition of Igbo Catholics" said, "That no priest of Mbaise origin is a bishop today ... is mind boggling. Mbaise has embraced, enhanced the growth of and sacrificed for the Catholic Church, has more priests per capita than any other diocese in Nigeria and certainly more than enough pool of priests qualified to become the next bishop of the episcopal see of Ahiara Diocese, Mbaise."

    According to the Vatican, the diocese has close to 423,000 Catholics and 110 diocesan priests.

    Trying to calm the situation, in July 2013 Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Onaiyekan to serve as apostolic administrator of the diocese, and the following December he sent Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to Ahiara to listen to the concerns of the diocesan priests and local laity.

    Cardinal Onaiyekan joined Bishop Okpaleke on the "ad limina" visit to Rome, as did Archbishop Anthony Obinna of Owerri and Archbishop Kaigama. Three priests, a religious sister and a traditional elder also made the trip.

  • Questions Surround Cameroonian Bishop's Reported Suicide: Medical Investigator Cites “torture”

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Jonathan Luxmoore || 06 June 2017

    body of bishop in cameroon foundCatholic leaders in Cameroon have urged prayers for one of the African country's bishops, whose remains were pulled from a river June 2, three days after his apparent suicide.

    "This is a catastrophe for Cameroon, and particularly for our Catholic Church," said a June 5 statement on the bishops' conference website.

    "We place our confidence in those helping the country and church by inquiring into the explicit causes of the death of this man of God, about whose level-headedness, thoughtfulness, wisdom, patience and gentleness no one had a bad word to say," the statement said.

    Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala, bishops' conference president, had gone with Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaounde to identify the body of Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala of Bafia, after it was found by a fisherman in the Sanaga River, near Monatele, the bishops' conference said.

    The statement added that the 58-year-old bishop's May 31 overnight disappearance from his residence had not yet been "clarified," and said the church still awaited an explanation for his "appalling, disturbing death."

    The French-language African Press Agency, based in Dakar, Senegal, said June 6 that media reports that Bishop Bala had taken his own life were questioned by police and justice officials. The agency said Cameroon's procurator-general had confirmed investigations were underway into the prelate's "suspicious death."

    Ordained in 1987, Bishop Bala was appointed to Bafia by St. John Paul II in April 2003 after serving as a school chaplain and seminary rector in the diocese, 75 miles north of Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital.

    The Journal du Cameroun daily said the bishop's Land Cruiser had been found parked June 1 on a bridge in Yaounde. A handwritten message in French, "I am in the water," was among identification cards on its passenger seat, authorities said.

    The report added that Bishop Bala, whose body was discovered floating 10 miles downstream, had been a popular figure at Bafia, showing "great concern and care" for the sick and poor from the city's St. Sebastian Cathedral.

    A local priest, Father Remy Ngomo, told the online Camernews agency the bishop had appeared "very preoccupied and full of suffering" when he spoke with him in late May, adding that he had been "totally devastated" by the recent unexplained death of his seminary director, Msgr. Armel Collins Ndjama, who was found dead in his room May 10.

    "I invite all friends of the church, whether Christians or not, to show a grand serenity of peace, hope and charity, and avoid useless judgements and debates with can only profit the devil and his allies," Father Ngomo said.

    "God will reveal his intentions and wishes, and give us his grace and blessing, so the public authorities can discover the truths still hidden behind this terrible event."

    However, the Camernews agency reported June 6 that a medical investigator had cited "signs of torture" on Bishop Bala's body, and indications that he had been dead before entering the water.

    The Catholic Church's 24 dioceses account for 38 percent of Cameroon's 20.4 million inhabitants, with Protestants making up 26 percent and Muslims 21 percent, according to the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report.

    In 2014, the government of President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, signed a framework agreement with the Vatican on the church's legal status.

    Still, Catholic communities have been increasingly attacked by cross-border insurgents from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram insurgents, which allied itself with Islamic State in March 2015. The insurgents have killed hundreds of police, army troops and civilians in Cameroon's Extreme North province, an area also badly affected by flooding and food shortages.

    The Bafia Diocese, which has 21 priests and 57 religious order members spread over 15 parishes, was preparing to mark its 50th anniversary in January.

  • Story of Kidnapped Jesuit Priest’s Survival: A Sheer Miracle

    Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM) || 02 June 2017

    What should have been a tranquil retreat week in the Eastern Part of Nigeria turned into an unending nightmare...

    survival of kidnapped jesuit priestIt was April 18, a Tuesday. I was scheduled to leave for a retreat in the Eastern part of Nigeria. I was going to be away and as the Director of the Spirituality Centre where I work, I began the day by organizing a few house issues as two of the men who lived in the Centre had left for other works outside giving retreats to religious women. The retreat was with a group of sisters from the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters (IHM) on the spiritual exercises of Saint Ignatius, in a place called Onitsha, Anambra State.

    Before leaving the house around noon, our provincial who is coming in now, Fr. Chuks Afiawari SJ, had called and we were just chatting, and at one time made a joke saying "Make sure where you are going they don't kidnap you", we laughed about it...

    Road to Onitsha

    I left the centre and drove to a bypass that takes you to a highway between Agbor and Asaba road. When I was ascending I heard gunshots, sporadically. I became alarmed and very troubled as...I'm not used to gunshots having travelled along that road severally.

    On glancing back, I saw all the vehicles behind me stopping, and trying to reverse...that's when it hit me that there was something dangerous ahead of me. On looking up I saw masked men with AK47 riffles shooting. I was so scared. I also stopped my car abruptly and began to reverse, but as I was trying to do that, a man, suddenly appeared, and was very close to me, then I heard a shot in the air. I didn't know it was my vehicle that was hit.

    In the car I had my two phones besides me...the man came close to me and said, "If you don't get out of the car I'll shoot you." I made a quick glance outside and near my car was a big black jeep, a Mercedes, also trying to get away and the other armed men went after it, they got two men out of the vehicle.

    I think that was the attraction...that was their target because they just don't go after any vehicle.

    When I saw guns pointed at me and led into the bush I felt like someone watching a movie whose ending is not real. I surrendered, raised my hands up and then left my phones deliberately in the car and came out.

    Outside they pointed to what seemed like a path in the bush and pushing me, said "come on...Move! Move!"

    I saw the other two men from the black jeep, also kidnapped following me this was around 12:30pm. The seven armed men were all holding very powerful AK47 riffles. By a quick glance at them, they were all Fulani herdsmen from the northern part of Nigeria. We walked that very day for about 8 hours in the bush and through the forest, going through people's farms. Our captors knew the terrain so well they were not mistaken as to where they were taking us. The amazing thing is that they never stayed in one place for more than an hour, we kept moving, and moving...until it got dark.

    While on the trek through the forest, they let one of the guy kidnapped with us go, because he was sickly and couldn't keep up with the pace. The kidnappers were agitated that he was slowing us down; they even deliberated on killing him at one point. What they did we eventually found out from them was that they used a knife and scrapped his foot to slow him down in getting out of the forest. The pace in the forest was jogging, jumping over tree trumps, going over leaves, which often cut through our skin. So it was quite brutal!

    And then they began to ask for our phones...

    Captivity 'Into the Jungle'

    I was so shaken, and began to ask myself, is this happening to me? What I'm I doing in this forest? What I'm I doing here? I felt extremely cold and in my confusion I said nothing! I'd mutter to myself, this can't be happening, God. This can't be happening.

    I had heard many stories about kidnappings yet here I was. I even refuse to believe that I had just been kidnapped, until reality set in when we were seated, blindfolded in the dark, in a forest with strange men pointing guns at us. It then dawned on me that yes I have been kidnapped. I began asking God, why? Why? God, why?

    That night they asked me who I was, I said that I was a priest. But they were suspicious because of how I looked. I had a moustache, and they presumed that I could be an undercover cop, a thing in Nigeria. They taunted me with questions like. How old I was? Who told me to be a priest? Why I didn't have children? Why I'm not married?

    All these became moments of emotional torture and later translated to physical abuse...

    They stripped us off all the belongings that we had, they took my wrist watch, my ring, a chain, my wallet and a rosary. The other guy's jewels were all taken and they were very expensive, but, the kidnappers didn't seem to know their value. There was no questioning these men...at all...they were rough.

    That night we walked till the wee hours of the morning and as we maneuvered through the forest they would stop and listen keenly to sounds, and then move, dodging any signs of people guarding their farms or from the highway.

    We were sandwiched between the seven armed men all clutching guns tightly...there was no escape! We begged to stop and rest but they kept going...there was no way you could stop because then they would hit you with their guns.

    Deep in the jungle, we slept and sheltered under a palm tree...


    When the kidnappers began asking for phones, I told them I didn't have mine that I had left them in the car hurriedly when I was forced into the bush. My phones had financial information of the centre. So, it was smart at the time to leave them as that would have given them more bargaining power, but then, I paid dearly for it... they didn't believe that I was a priest. In a way they were a little suspicious of me.

    They then told me to recall any number that I know; but trust me...I just couldn't remember a number and I wasn't fooling anyone. I have not taken time to memorize a number, except one of my friend's and even that I couldn't remember.

    That triggered a series of beatings...they huddled me up, hands and feet tied to the back with a rope like a goat before a kill. They removed my cassock, then my shirt, threw me into the dirt on the ground, and began to beat me with the back of their guns, they'd kick me hard on my sides, slap across my face, push and pull me hard across the ground. They then brought a cloth close to my nose...I could smell paraffin. One of them said "we are going to burn you alive!"

    I really believed that they were going to do it...I began to pray in silence...I said, "God, I commit to you, I commit my spirit" and I resigned to the thought of my fate, that I was going to die that day. My hands went numb, and I was crying and shouting begging them to help relieve me of this pain, and they wouldn't. I could smell the rusty scent of blood across my cheek. Tears made their way down my eyes, sobbing, whimpering in pain. When they finally untied the ropes, I tell you..."ahhh", I sighed with relief as the ropes around me finally gave way, and I could practically hear the blood rushing back into the feet and ankles. I felt relief wash over me at that instance...however, that, was the most painful way to torture someone.

    I wondered how much longer I would be alive...

    There were bruises and deep welts where the ropes had been on my arms and on my back. I hoped for a miracle...I was at their mercy...so I became very submissive to whatever they asked me to do.

    The call

    Again every minute I'd pray saying all kinds of prayers, I'd pray to Saint Ignatius, say the rosary and the divine mercy...at one time I found myself singing heartily but in the inside, a Ghanaian song that says 'God speak to me...God where are you? I kept humming in my heart...it gave me hope.

    On Day 2, Wednesday, we went to a different place in the afternoon we sat there and they would come and ask, do you have a number...and I would say no, then they would slap me.

    Meanwhile the other person had managed to contact his brothers, and they were negotiating and I begged to speak to the person so that he could check on the internet the Jesuit Fathers Nigeria, find a number and call, but they refused. They seemed afraid of being tracked, tricking them into being found. But after carefully asking again, they reconsidered, and that night they agreed to the request. We finally got Fr. David Ogun's number, a Jesuit who works in one of the parishes in Benin. Then he directed all negotiations to the Provincial, Fr. Jude Odiaka, who handled the negotiations on phone.  

    This was the second day, we hadn't eaten, or had water, and they'd bring only half a glass of water from either a stream nearby or from the farmers' reservoirs and ask us to drink. I was afraid mostly of getting sick, so I would avoid at times, even when thirsty, the guy I was with would encourage me and say, "Just drink a little, for some strength to walk".

    At some point I even began to think about death, to imagine what it means and what is like to die. Imagine...praying for death. Yes I did pray for death that night. But...I had consoling thoughts as well, I knew that word must have gotten around about the kidnapping, and that the sisters at the retreat centre and people who knew me all over, must have been praying for me.

    ...this thought gave me hope, to live, to survive.

    One of the light moments all this time was with the guy I was kidnapped with because he was a grace for me, a gift from God. I hope I was too for him because we exchanged words of encouragement silently, as we were not allowed to talk to each.

    Road To freedom

    Day 3, Friday morning, they told us to call our people, that day, was the last to pay up... "We just don't kidnap and let you go without getting something out of it", he retorted, "If your people don't pay the money, we will kill both of you!"

    So we talked to our people and relayed the information. Around noon they came to me holding my wallet, and fished out many notes. All foreign currency from different countries. They called somebody on the outside and enquired about their worth surprisingly, because after all they had phones.

    The absurd thing is that...these kidnappers were making calls from the forest without fear; there was no impression from either the government or from any one to come and rescue us. They were relaxed, they didn't feel any pressure and took their time, and they never felt the need to run away. They were at ease in the forest.

    I don't have enemies, but I wouldn't wish this on anyone who might be an enemy...No! I wouldn't.

    They found out about the exchange rates and they seemed happy with it. That Friday evening they promised to let us go but only if there was no police involved and after the ransom.

    A glimmer of hope, holding on to Faith in moments of despair

    I intensified my prayers and I prayed to God "Please God, make this end well". I recalled a saying that "God will not bring you this far, then abandon you", so this brought some assurance to my heart. We had been left with two of the kidnappers, at around 5pm, some went for the ransom and the other left to buy food stuffs and drinks to celebrate their success. We were released around 8pm.

    Before this I had told myself that I was going to tell my Provincial that I didn't want to do this work anymore, that maybe I should do something different, and to take me out of this place.
    Saint Ignatius always said, "do not make a decision when you are in desolation", and I think because I was desolated I forgot what I should have known as someone who teaches this.
    I forgot...yet there I was making a decision...

    Left Alone in the Jungle

    We could smell freedom, and with anticipation we followed the two who were guarding us, I was happy that we were going home. When we got to where the other kidnappers were waiting, they said, "See...go...go...straight ahead, you will see a tree pass it and keep going...your people are there waiting for you!"

    Can you imagine! A pitch black thick forest, and that's the direction you are given? Yes! There was no clear path, we just left the kidnappers, and began walking, not knowing exactly where we were heading.
    It was one of the most dangerous moments of captivity when they let us go at the middle of nowhere. We kept walking in circles, this was around 9pm, walking in people's farms where there were traps, a forest with possibly snakes, scorpions, and other would-be dangerous animals, or even other vigilantes watching out for intruders.

    We walked for close to an hour looking for this place. I often stumbled because it was so dark...but the guy I was with would lend a hand, and we walked hand in hand, hoping for a clue. Luckily we came by a tree that had a path, from a distance we could see what looked like a new building, we walked towards it and heard footsteps, and then we cried out, "anyone here?" And I heard a woman's voice asking who are you? I said, "Please we need help, we had just been kidnapped". The moment she heard kidnapped, she became alarmed and said, "Let me call my 'Oga'...my husband".

    The guy I was with said, "madam could we please get some water to drink we are very thirsty". That request touched her so she came out with her husband. I said to them, "I'm a priest as you can see my cassock here", they asked, "Where had you been kidnapped?" I said, "We were in the forest". The two took us into their veranda and gave us water to drink.

    I just sat there and began to cry, so did the other guy. The man gave us his phone and asked us to call the number of the people waiting for us.

    When they reached us that was the first time to see people we knew, the relief, the emotion on our faces...and then I began to feel the pains now, all the torturous moments at the forest came flooding over...I sobbed uncontrollably my pain, exhaustion and fear...with relief, with joy, but also with deep sadness at the thought of where we had just been.

    Coming Home

    We drove to the Centre, still unable to utter a word, we arrived around midnight and Father David's was waiting for us, and took me to the hospital to get checked.

    I must say I craved an Ice cold coke or a beer and certainly started with the coke...

    I remembered the decision I was trying to make in the forest and again I began to cry because of the calls I received that day, the people flocking to see me at the parish where I was, bearing fruits, and gifts and asking Fr. Sam are you okay? My brother, my family, former classmates, people I hadn't even seen or spoken to for years, this incidence brought them back to my life.

    In all these things God revealed to me that I was never abandoned while in the forest, even if I was out of reach and in danger, that God heard the prayers and was with me.

    Sometimes I cry, in consolation whenever I recall the harsh conditions, having been so afraid of things like snakes scorpions and any crawling animals; yet God gave me peace to sleep through the three nights without thoughts of fear...a miracle for me! I was in the valley of the shadow of death and God intervened with all these prayers from people all over the world. If it were not for all these prayers, I would not have survived this ordeal.

    This experience was painful and traumatizing, but it has renewed my faith in God, my faith in people...the human person, God's gift of friendship and that if what I do matters, then also those people I do it with are also very important.

    My love for the Society of Jesus has been renewed, I remember when I got to Hekima College in Nairobi a young man from Zimbabwe came to me and said, "You look familiar, are you Father Sam?" I said yes, and he continued, "We have been praying for you in Zimbabwe". It was so wonderful to hear that. God has been faithful and my love for the Society has grown and I also pray for the many people who might be kidnapped tomorrow because of the inaction of the government.

    Life of priests matter!

    There are many priests who have been kidnapped but I hope that each time that happens it will inform our government and our church to raise our voices louder to speak against and act upon such evil deeds. The church has to realize the importance of human life that they don't have to frown or take eyes away when such a thing happens. We have to consistently and sorely speak for life. My life is what was at stake, my life!


    I'm really beyond grateful to my brothers, to the opportunity to come to Kenya, I love Kenya. Thank you to my Provincial, Fr. Jude Odiaka SJ, for allowing me to come to Nairobi, Fr. John-Okoria Ibhakewanlan SJ, who constantly spoke to me and encouraged me to visit and for welcoming me to Hekima College. The JESAM President, Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator SJ, for the support and encouragement to tell my story. A thank you to my brothers, you are wonderful, I was at home in Hekima. It was great to meet old friends, and now I am back in Nigeria...I will tell my story over and over again.

    Life after this ordeal

    My background is mental health, therapy and counseling so perhaps God was trying to show me something, I don't know! But this has also given me an understanding to accompany those who come to me for help seeking solace, encouragement, strength, hope, renewal...you know...maybe that's why it happened, I know I'm not going to hold in the strength and knowledge that I have gained from this, I'm going to use it in my work as a counselor, psychologist and help those who come to me for help, because what support can be given to people that have been kidnapped? What help can we give such people? I think I have become part of that help with what I have received, and experienced.

    I'm more than ever encouraged not to turn my back to all the help, to the people who need assistance to begin to live again after such an ordeal.

    Thank you P. Sam for sharing your story, God bless you!

    Source: Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar…

  • Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan Hope Pope’s Trip Postponed, Not Cancelled

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 June 2017

    scbc bishops on pope postponing trip 2017The Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan have expressed the hope that Pope Francis’ trip to South Sudan, which was called off for this this year, would still be realized at a later date.

    The Bishops’ hope for rescheduling Pope’s pastoral visit to a later date is contained in a Press Statement by the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala.

    “It is therefore, our great desire, hope and expectation as the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference for the Sudan and South Sudan that, the visit of the Holy Father hasn’t been put off completely but the pastoral visit will be reconsidered and that South Sudan as a new nation will be graced by His Holiness - Pope Francis,” the Bishops have stated.

    The Vatican had been planning for Pope Francis to visit South Sudan sometime in October this year, a pastoral trip that would have been undertaken together with Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

    Announcing the cancellation of Pope’s trip for this year, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke had told journalists that the trip was still being considered without providing any timing when the trip might take place.

    “We, the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) for Sudan and South Sudan, the entire nation of South Sudan and the whole world were eagerly awaiting for the historic event of the visitation of his Holiness Pope Francis, the first time ever the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of St. Peter, to Grace the new nation of South Sudan,” the Bishops have stated.

    Below is the full statement of the Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan on Pope Francis' trip to South Sudan.



                                                                                                                                     Yambio, June, 06th 2017

    Your Eminence,

    Your Grace,

    Your Lordship,

    Very Rev. Monsignors, Fathers, Religious Brothers & Sisters, the faithful and entire people of South Sudan,

    “May they all be one just like I and the Father are one John: 17:21”

    South Sudan is the newest country in the whole world, having attained its independence in the last five years. The country has been having on and off conflicts i.e. tribal/regional conflict, political instability and differences. All these challenges have contributed to the loss of many lives, displacement of people, under development, loss of property, insecurity, etc. From 2013 to date, South Sudan has been very unstable. Nearly everybody is traumatised.

    Pope Francis for a very long time now has been so much concerned about South Sudan and its people. In several occasions in his traditional Prayers of Angelus and Weekly Audiences he has prayed and called on the world to come to the aid of South Sudan.

    The Holy Father, has been a leading voice for peace and for dialogue between people of different faiths and nations.  He’s also, in both his words and his deeds, I think has called all of us to address the challenges of poverty and inequality in our own country and around the world, and again, has brought to our church and world now, I think a moral clarity to how he addresses that issue and calls on all of us to care for the least among us. 

    We, the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference (SCBC) for Sudan and South Sudan, the entire nation of South Sudan and the whole world were eagerly awaiting for the historic event of the visitation of his Holiness Pope Francis, the first time ever the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of St. Peter, to Grace the new nation of South Sudan.

    Holy Father chose to visit South Sudan and his intention was out of personal inspired decision and interest, only God leads! Therefore, his cancellation to visit the country is first and foremost to be taken in respect and prayer! The reasons could be beyond superficial speculations and also could be due to the above mentioned challenges the country is undergoing.

    Pope Francis is very particularly about the welfare of the suffering people in the world, and so is he for South Sudan. So he calls on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the centre of our concerns.  He reminds us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and our measure as a society, is not determined by power or wealth or station or celebrity, but by how well we attend to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity –- because we are all made in the image of God.  

    It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, to those who have suffered, and those who have caused suffering and seek redemption.  Pope Francis continues to remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace.  

    Surely over and above the hope and feelings of every citizen was joyful and remain that, South Sudan being a new country, the visit of the Holy Father could have familiarize the nation to the whole world, uplift the faith as their chief pastor, raise the expectation, unifying the people and consequently restoring peace to the war torn country of South Sudan.

    The pastoral historic visit of the Holy Father could have uplifted the faith of the Christians and other believers in South Sudan as their chief Pastor comes in to share in their ordeal – praying for them and with them. Surely, the Holy Father’s visit would raise the expectations of South Sudan that if the Pope has come then there is going to be peace. His presence would be aimed at consoling the grieving brothers and sisters and heal their broken hearted/wounds. He could then strengthen the faiths of his brother bishops and raise hopes of the faithful who are desperately discerning for peace.

    The Government beginning from the head of State (the President), the Bishops, the church leaders and the entire nation had expressed a heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Holy Father for his choice to visit South Sudan. But due to the uncontrolled ongoing insecurity and the many challenges mentioned above the visit has sadly been altered. All we need to do now is embark on a very serious spiritual self-discernment, Peace Building and Material consolidation in order to create conducive atmosphere for the possibility of the visitation of the Holy Father in due course.

    It is therefore, our great desire, hope and expectation as the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference for the Sudan and South Sudan that, the visit of the Holy Father hasn’t been put off completely but the pastoral visit will be reconsidered and that South Sudan as a new nation will be graced by His Holiness - Pope Francis.

    We as the SCBC urge all our faithful and entire people within the country to strive and promote peace in his or her own capacity! Be that agent of change needed in South Sudan! Pray a lot more in sincere repentance of heart with the aim of consolidating peace in the country. It is only such activities which can bring the Holy Father to South Sudan in no distant period.

    May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ continue to inspire, motivate and enlighten us to promote his Kingdom in our new nation South Sudan. Let us continue to pray for the Holy Father in our daily prayers!

    God bless you all and God bless South Sudan.



    + Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala

    Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &

    President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC)

  • New CEO for Nairobi-based Tangaza University College Appointed

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 08 June 2017

    tangaza new ceo appointed 2017The Board of Trustees of Tangaza University College (TUC), has appointed Rev. Prof. Stephen Mbugua Ngari to become the new CEO of the Nairobi-based Catholic Institution effective from July 1, 2017.

    He will be succeeding Father Steven Payne, OCD, who has been holding the title of Tangaza University Principal.

    Father Payne has told CANAA that he plans to take a month’s home leave in the U.S. and later sabbatical leave, during which he hopes to work on language skills, among them French, Spanish and/or Kiswahili.

    TUC, which is affiliated to the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), is jointly owned by several member Religious/Missionary Congregations. The institution applied for a Charter and is in the process of finalizing the process to become a full-fledged university in Kenya.

    Rev. Prof. Mbugua who belongs to Kenya’s Catholic diocese of Nakuru will carry the title “Vice-Chancellor (VC) Designate” until Tangaza receives its university charter.

    He was appointed at the Board of Trustee’s meeting of May 31, 2017.

    In the letter announcing the new CEO’s appointment, the chairman of the Board, Father Gary A. Mueller of the Congregation of the Mission (CM) welcomed Rev. Prof. Mbugua to the Tangaza community, promising support.

    “We are very happy to welcome Fr. Stephen Mbugua Ngari to the Tangaza Community and promise him our prayers, our friendship, and our full support as he takes on this challenging task,” Father Mueller stated in the announcement addressed to TUC community.

    The TUC VC-designate holds a doctorate in educational psychology from Egerton University, where he has served as the Dean of Students, the Director of University Welfare Services, as well as the Chair of the Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Educational Foundations. 

    He has served as a resource person for the Commission for University Education in Kenya.

    “The Tangaza community would like to register a hearty thanks to Fr. Steven Payne for his many years of dedicated service to Tangaza and we promise him our prayers and our best wishes,” Father Mueller continued in the announcement letter distributed via email on June 2.

    TUC, which started as an institution that rose from the cooperation of some Missionary Congregations has grown exponentially to bring together about 100 Religious/Missionary Congregations with students and lecturers hailing from over 40 countries.

    The first group of students, twenty in number, were enrolled to the institution on 25 August 1986, having come from seven different countries to pursue theological studies as part of their formation to priesthood.

    Since then, the institution has opened its doors to Christians and non-Christians who meet admission requirements, training them for ministry in its various institutes, among them theology, education, social transformation, spirituality and religious formation, social communication, youth ministry and catechetics, leadership and management.

  • Zimbabwe’s Catholic Bishops on 2018 Elections

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 04 June 2017

    bishops in zimbabwe on 2018 electionsWell ahead of Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections, the country’s Catholic Bishops have issued a Pentecost Sunday pastoral letter titled, “Elections, Peace and Development.” 

    “Reject all forms of violence and coercion: Violence and coercion only serve to discredit our elections. Any use of force takes away the credibility and integrity of the elections. People must be able to make free choices according to their own judgement,” the letter reads in part.

    The Bishops specifically appeal to the government of President Robert Mugabe to ensure that citizens enjoy their political rights and freedom of expression.

    Throughout the letter, the Bishops constantly urge political parties, the government and individuals to strictly adhere to and respect the Constitution of Zimbabwe which was overwhelming approved by a referendum vote of May 2013.

    On Friday this week, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was reported by local media to have embarked on nationwide public rallies aimed at rousing support for the ruling ZANU-PF in the 2018 elections. The ZANU-PF party wants incumbent President, Mugabe 93, as its sole presidential candidate. 

    The Bishops’ pastoral letter is an attempt to prepare and steer the nation away from a repeat of the 2008 political and electoral crisis. Zimbabwe's 2008 pre and post-election landscape was very volatile and characterised by widescale violence most of which was blamed on state institutions and agents. 

    As a way out of the 2008 crisis, the ZANU-PF and the two MDC political parties settled for a power-sharing Government of National Union (GNU) brokered by the then South African President, Thabo Mbeki in 2009.

    With this pastoral letter, the Catholic Bishops want Zimbabweans to respect the Constitution and behave peacefully before, during and after the 2018 general elections. 

    “As we prepare for 2018, let us respect each other and even mirror in our words and actions the love of God, Father of us all.” The Bishops add, “We now have our own Constitution, a great achievement, and it says in one place, ‘The State and every person, including the juristic persons, and every institution and agency of government at every level, must promote national unity, peace and stability,’” the Bishops say.

    All the Bishops signed the pastoral letter which was released Sunday by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC).

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Ghana Government’s Intention to Hand Over Mission Schools Commended

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 05 June 2017

    bishop kwofie on mission schools handed backThe Catholic Bishop responsible for the Commission of Education under the national Bishops’ Conference, John Bonaventure Kwofie, CSSp, has lauded the government’s intention to hand over mission schools in the country to their original owners.

    The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, at a stakeholders meeting on education in Kumasi on May 17, hinted that the government was in the process of returning the management and supervision of mission schools to religious institutions.

    “We received the news of the government’s intention to return Mission Schools with great joy. This has been the wish of many for so long,” Bishop Kwofie said in response to a questionnaire sent to him by the Catholic Standard.

    Bishop Kwofie who is the prelate of the Catholic Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi noted that the government gives assistance to Churches because it was its responsibility to educate the population.

    He however observed that “educating the population of a country is an immense duty that the State cannot do alone.”

    Bishop Kwofie went on to say, “The churches, therefore, collaborate in this enterprise. This assistance, however, evolved into what seemed like taking over the schools from their rightful owners who have, in some instances, been relegated to the background on account of the lack of clear policies or agreement.”

    He added, “I think returning the mission schools to their owners is a way of recognizing the contribution religious bodies have made and the purposes for which they founded mission schools.”

    “Let us note that the Minister made this pronouncement after a stakeholder’s forum on how to improve on the quality of education. I think this is recognition by government that the religious bodies are able partners in the agenda of government for a better quality of education in our country,” he said.

    Bishop Kwofie noted, “When the Church calls for the return of the mission schools to their owners; we are saying that something has gone wrong in the collaboration between government and religious bodies in the handling of our schools. We are saying that mission schools were founded for goals and purposes that must be recognized and that things have to be done the right way so that the goals and purpose for which the schools were founded would be attained.”

    The Christian Council of Ghana has also lauded the government’s move but was of the view that the government and the religious bodies convene a meeting to draw a road map towards releasing the schools.

    In another development, the General Manager of Catholic Education Unit, Mrs. Doris Ashun, has called on education Co-ordinators and local managers to assist regional managers of education for the smooth management and supervision of the Catholic Schools.

    She said due to the large expanse of jurisdiction covered by regional Catholic education unit office, it is expedient on the part of the Local Managers and Co-ordinators to co-operate with the Managers in the Unit Office.

    In an interview with The Catholic Standard, Mrs. Ashun lamented that recent developments of sidelining managers of mission schools and the delay in the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the government and the religious bodies had “led to the reduced interest in the Missions sinking money into their schools.”

    She noted that regional managers had a whole region as their territory of operation and apart from supervision, one must ensure that religious discipline of the Church is adhered to.

  • 'Hopes shattered' as Pope Francis' South Sudan Trip Postponed

    National Catholic Reporter (NCR) || By Chris Herlinger || 02 June 2017

    hopes shattered as pope postpones south sudan tripThe news earlier this week that the Vatican put plans for Pope Francis to visit South Sudan on indefinite hold came as no surprise to one of the country's most prominent Catholic bishops.

    "From the onset, it is clear that the police we have in South Sudan don't have the capabilities to secure the historic papal visit," Bishop Santo Loku Pio Doggale told me in an email just as I had completed a two-week reporting assignment in the war-torn country and just two days after I had interviewed the auxiliary bishop in his offices in the capital of Juba.

    "For me it is not a surprise at all," Doggale said of the Vatican announcement.

    The Vatican did not outright cancel a visit, but said a trip would not happen this year. As my NCR colleague Josh McElwee reported May 30, security concerns apparently tipped the balance against a papal visit to South Sudan, which had been eyed, tentatively, for October.

    A visit by Francis would have been welcomed by the religious, both men and women, I met during my stay in South Sudan. They are working in some of the most difficult and challenging conditions on earth. A papal visit — even if, as the rumors had it, the visit would last for only a day — would have given them, and South Sudan's large Catholic population, a much-needed lift and boost.

    "I felt really my hopes shattered and maybe the hopes of many of our people who would have wanted him [the pope] to come and bless our land with a message of peace," Kenyan Sr. Anne Kiragu, a superior of a small Daughters of St. Paul community in Juba, wrote in an email June 1.

    "The pastor should come where the flock is," Fr. Raimundo Nonato Rocha dos Santos, a Brazilian Comboni missionary, told me when I interviewed him two weeks ago. Rocha, who enthusiastically endorsed the idea of a papal visit, said it would "be meaningful and give people hope."

    "It would be good to come, and call the attention of the world to South Sudan," Rocha said, and perhaps help revive a moribund peace process between the government of Salva Kiir Mayardit and its political opponents.

    However, Doggale, the auxiliary bishop of Juba, and an outspoken critic of Kiir's government, said a papal visit might have used by the government as tacit support at a time when it is being criticized by Doggale and others for alleged human rights abuses and during a time when "we have a divided population."

    Still, when I spoke to the bishop in person on May 29, Doggale acknowledged that a visit by Francis "could send a strong message to the warring parties, that the church is still here, witnessing, and we still have an opportunity to broker peace, rebuild our lives and bring us together."

    He added: "It could send a very strong message that we need peace more urgently than ever."

    In his email message, the bishop also told me that Sudan's bishops had been divided on the need for a visit now, given the extreme hardships facing South Sudan, which include not only civil war, internal conflict and a worsening humanitarian situation but also a poor economy that is spiraling downward.

    "The logistical arrangements that would need much cash would have been a big burden to the already starving population in an ailing economy," Doggale said.

    "The Holy Spirit has guided the pope," the bishop said of the decision to postpone a visit to South Sudan. "We are happy to wait for another chance [at a papal visit]."

    The issue of South Sudan's insecurity came up often when I interviewed Doggale. As one small example, we both mentioned the Good Shepherd Peace Center, a new facility for use by church personnel located about 10 miles southwest of Juba near the Kit River.

    I visited the center for an afternoon and it's a lovely, handsome place — billing itself as a "center for human, pastoral and spiritual formation, peace-building and trauma healing." On the day I was there, a group of Catholic sisters was enrolled in a management training course put on by the African Sisters Education Collaborative. The center is sponsored by the Religious Superiors Association of South Sudan.

    Yet the unpaved road out to the center is still considered risky — I heard about robberies and abductions on the roadway. And given the insecurity, the tranquility of the center's rural surroundings feels not so much peaceful as lonely and poignant.

    The area near the Kit River had been the site of intense fighting between South Sudanese rebels and Sudanese troops during the long years of war for South Sudanese independence. (South Sudan won its independence from Sudan in 2011.) A bombed-out church, not yet restored and adjoining the center, serves as a sober reminder of the country's legacy of war.

    To get into the center's entrance, you pass armed guards — not an unusual sight in South Sudan, certainly, but still a sad reminder of the country's reality right now.

    One center employee told me the center can feel a bit caged.

    "We need the guards, and it's a contradiction — a peace center needing guards," the employee told me. "But that's the country."

    Doggale shook his head when I recounted my experience at the center. "There's no guarantee of safety," he said of the situation in South Sudan — a fact reconfirmed this week by the pope's decision to postpone his visit.

    In an email from Rome, where he is on leave, Rocha said he was "feeling disappointed for I had hopes that he [Pope Francis] would visit South Sudan this year."

    Rocha also said that the subject of South Sudan came up when he and other Combonis met the pope during a general audience on May 31. Rocha said, "As he approached us wearing a large smile he [the pope] said: 'Bravi, Comboniani! Bravi, Comboniani!' ['Well done, Comboni missionaries!']

    "I took the chance to tell him, almost shouting: 'Come to South Sudan. Come to South Sudan.' He was very close and replied: 'Non mi lasciano andare.' ['They do not let me go.']"

    [Chris Herlinger is international correspondent for Global Sisters Report.]

    Source: National Catholic Reporter…

  • Body of Catholic Bishop in Cameroon Recovered from a River

    The Cameroon Daily Journal || By Hans Ngala || 02 June 2017

    body of bishop in cameroon foundThe body of Jean-Marie Benoit Balla, Bishop of Bafia who is alleged to have committed suicide has been found in the Sanaga River where he reportedly took his own life. The body was found some 17km from the bridge where the Bishop is believed to have jumped to his death.

    The Bishop is alleged to have left his bishopric at about 11:30P.M Cameroonian time on Tuesday and it was unclear where he was going. News of the cleric’s disappearance spread like wildfire over Cameroonian media outlets.

    Social media was awash with pictures of his white Landcruiser with plate registration number CE 9503 V parked on the Sanaga Bridge around Ebebda, a locality some 90km west of the capital, Yaounde. A frantic search for the Bishop began Wednesday after his whereabouts could not be determined; with some of his parishioners not wanting to entertain thoughts of his possible demise after a handwritten note was found in his car saying in French “I am in the water”.  The note was found in the backseat of the car alongside Balla’s car documents and driving license.

    The search for the bishop which initially involved only the police and local fishermen was later scaled up to include the navy and traditional rulers from the Ebebda area. The decision to include traditional rulers in the search for the prelate was because some mystery probably surrounded the bishop’s disappearance some media organs reported. The car was only identified as the Bishop’s after midday on Wednesday. It had been spotted on the bridge by fishermen but after it kept standing on the bridge for long, there was much speculation.

    Controversies and Conspiracy Theories

    While the Bishop’s close aides and friends have established that the suicide note found in the car actually has the Bishops handwriting, some are questioning whether he wrote it willingly or under duress. “How can a man well catered for like a Catholic Bishop just jump into a river like that?” a young man called Emile asked the Cameroon Journal. “I believe there is more to this than meets the eye. We are not sure if someone had a gun to his head when he wrote that” he added.

    CRTV radio reporting on the incident said that the Bishop asked the gatekeeper at the Bafia Bishopric to open the gate for him to go out at about 11:30P.M. local time, which leads some to wonder how the Bishop could possibly have been murdered if he drove out of his compound of his own accord.

    Worth mentioning are reports which have it that another clergyman died in the same bishopric where Msgr. Balla lived on May 24. The reports have it that the said priest was rector of the minor seminary in Bafia and was later found dead in his room under mysterious circumstances. Msgr. Balla is said to have not attended his funeral but simply sent his condolences and it is likely that Balla had some personal problems which “could be psychological”. This was the confession of the Bishop’s driver made to CRTV today during the midday newscast.

    Meanwhile, a message has gone viral on WhatsApp purportedly from one Fr. Constant Amombo who worked closely with the deceased for 17 years. Amombo challenges the “suicide” theory and asks; “Msgr. Balla was widely known to oppose night travel and barred priests in his diocese from traveling at night. Isn’t it strange that he woke the night watchman to open the gate for him at night? Msgr. Balla like all Bishops had a gun permit and reportedly carried a pistol for his personal safety. If he decided to take his own life; why drive over 60 km when he could simply shoot himself in the confines of his room? Msgr. Balla’s car was parked on the Sanaga Bridge a couple of yards from the gendarmerie brigade. How come the gendarmes were not aware that a car was parked on the bridge until after midday?”

    Some have speculated too that given the dissenting voices within the Cameroon Episcopal Conference on the burning Anglophone Crisis, Msgr. Balla might have been supportive of the Anglophone Struggle. All these are mere allegations which the Cameroon Journal could not immediately authenticate.

    Balla’s corpse which was already decomposing was found drifting on the river banks 17 km from the spot where his car was parked on the bridge by a Malian fisherman and have since been conveyed to the Yaounde General Hospital morgue.

    The 58-year old Jean-Marie Benoit Balla was born on May 10, 1959 and appointed bishop on May 3, 2003 and ordained on July 12 of the same year.

    Source: The Cameroon Daily Journal…


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


African Continent


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