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  • Cameroon Bishops Say Culture Must Play a Part in Training Priests

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 26 January 2018

    culture significant in priestly formation in cameroonIn the light of new universal norms issued by the Vatican on priestly formation, Cameroon’s Catholic bishops are saying culture must still be taken into account in the training of seminarians.

    During the 41st meeting of the Cameroon bishops’ conference, the bishops said at a time of significant technological change, there’s a need to move away from the traditional methodology of training priests.

    Archbishop Samuel Kleda, the president of the bishops’ conference, said priestly formation today faces significant challenges, including poverty and the unstable political climate. He said these challenges directly and indirectly affect the ministry of the priest and also shape and condition the way formation is conducted in seminaries.

    The archbishop said priests exhibit traits which call to question the quality of the training they received: Many lack pastoral commitment, have an attachment to materialism, and a tendency to over-socialize matters of faith and spirituality.

    “These are disturbing trends,” Kleda said.

    Yet the bishops also said the problems are not insurmountable.

    “The Church always reforms itself according to the developments in society,” Bishop Emmanuel Bushu of Buéa told Crux.

    “So at this time for the priesthood, which is very important for the Church, the leaders have thought that it is time to update because the world is changing very rapidly,” he said.

    Bishop Michael Bibi, the auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Bamenda told Crux that stepping up the integral training of priests has become all the more pressing, given the negative results from the present system, which has been noticed by the faithful.

    “We’ve discovered that when you ordain a priest and the priest goes out for pastoral work, you see discrepancies between what he was taught and what he is actually living in the parish. So the Church wants us to help the candidates interiorize what they are being taught. There should be no dichotomy between their studies and the work that they are supposed to carry out concretely on the ground,” Bibi said.

    The bishops are basing their new program on Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis [the Gift of Priestly Vocation], the new guidelines issued by the Vatican to serve as the basis of priestly formation.

    But such guidance, according to the Cameroonian bishops, must be rooted in the culture of the people.

    Noting that young people today grow in a world of great challenges, Bishop Agapitus Enuyehnyoh Nfon told Crux that “our young people are called to the priesthood  from different cultures…although the Ratio Fundamentalis is universal, we need to domesticate it to reflect our cultural specificities…so we have to prepare a National Ratio Fundamentalis for the formation of priests in Cameroon, because we have our own culture which is not the same like Asia or Europe  or America.”

    Nfon is the Bishop of Kumba, located in Cameroon’s South West Region.

    He said it was necessary to familiarize priests with the cultures of the people they set out to evangelize.

    “Effective evangelization can hardly take place outside the culture of a people,” Nfon explained.

    The bishops said it was even more essential to be aware of the changing technological world in the formation of priests, especially since older bishops aren’t used to it.

    “When I was in the seminary, we used typewriters,” Bibi told Crux.

    “With laptops now, we encourage the students to use them for research; but understanding the dangers reckless use of the internet can bring, we try to guide them to the appropriate sites that will guide them as far as their formation and studies are concerned. We believe they can use social media to evangelize and so we try to make good use of technological development,” he said.

    For all this to happen, Kleda believes the country’s bishops will have to play a fundamental role.

    “The mission of the bishop is to specifically follow up the training of priests, because priests are direct collaborators of the bishop,” the archbishop told Crux.

    Kleda said bishops can only effectively preach the Gospel if they make good use of priests.

    “Therefore, priests should have very good training; integral training that addresses the human, spiritual and moral dimensions. At all levels, they should be stable people, capable of presenting the faithful to Jesus Christ.”

    The bishops also used their meeting to address some of the burning issues affecting Cameroon.

    In their final communiqué the bishops said they stood opposed to “all forms of violence,” and called for dialogue as the only way out of what has become known as the ‘Anglophone crisis’ in Cameroon.

    Cameroon is divided between a French-speaking majority and an English-speaking minority. For over a year, the Anglophone regions of the country have been holding demonstrations against what they say is an encroachment of their rights. Some are even calling for outright independence, while the government has accused the protesters of “terrorism.”

    “We call on all Cameroonians to pray for solutions to be found to the many social and political challenges our country faces in 2018,” the bishops said.

    Source: Crux…

  • Heart of Forgiveness: Ugandan Women once Child Soldiers Now Lead Peace

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Melanie Lidman || 31 January 2018

    heart of forgiveness among uganda womenOn a sunny day last January, the St. Monica's Vocational School for Girls in Gulu, Uganda, was full to bursting. More than 5,000 people covered every inch of the verdant campus, celebrating the Gulu Episcopal Provincial Annual Peace Prayer Week, which culminated Jan. 13, 2017, with a celebratory Mass.

    "May each heart not promote violence! May each mouth not promote violence!" The words of Msgr. John Baptist Odama, archbishop of Gulu, echoed across the school grounds.

    Two decades ago, Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army stormed St. Monica's with guns firing, searching for children they could coerce to be new soldiers. But on this day in January 2017, the bullet holes that still pepper the ceiling of the classrooms were contrasted against thousands of people outside, clasping their hands in a prayer for peace.

    Sitting among the crowd was Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, the former director of St. Monica's school.

    "I was very observant, and one thing I noticed was that not a single woman or religious nun was able to give a voice [during peace week]," said Nyirumbe. "They didn't even invite one! When we're talking about peace building, I expected them to say, 'Let's take some of these women who were deeply affected by this conflict to give their voice, to find out how they are involved in peace building, what their roles are.'"

    As a result of the male-dominated peace week, Nyirumbe decided to gather some women in Gulu to create their own peace forum. "We women should give a voice to ourselves, why are we waiting for other people?" she asked.

    Pope Francis marks World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, offering a vision for a more peaceful world in the coming year, a message Nyirumbe hopes women will take to heart.

    Nyirumbe is also overseeing an effort to write a women-specific "peace curriculum" with survivors of northern Uganda's years of terror. The curriculum will use real-life examples and methods that have helped women in Gulu, teaching women in other post-conflict areas how to find peace both within themselves and within their communities.

    Nyirumbe says peace building requires a two-pronged approach: Women must achieve financial independence through both formal schooling and practical skills training; these lead them to a sense of empowerment well beyond subsistence survival. Then the real healing can begin. The women must forgive themselves and find calmness within before they can turn outward and begin to heal the rifts in their society, she says.

    Bullet holes in the ceiling

    St. Monica's, like much of northern Uganda, still bears the physical scars of the years of unrest. Starting in 1989, more than 30,000 children, both boys and girls, were kidnapped in northern Uganda and forced to commit atrocities against their own villages in the 25-year war led by Kony.

    Kony, a self-described prophet bent on overthrowing Uganda's longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, instructed his followers to kidnap children as young as 8, brainwash them and force them to burn down homes and rape and kill their neighbors. The violence displaced more than 2.5 million people in northern Uganda and left 100,000 people dead.

    Children called "night commuters" crowded into the hallways of St. Monica's each evening, walking miles each day to have a safe space to sleep, hiding from the kidnappers.

    The Lord's Resistance Army eventually crumbled into disarray as the kidnapped children escaped, and the war petered to a halt. The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Kony in 2005, and the Ugandan government attempted to negotiate for peace starting in 2008. President Barack Obama sent special forces troops in 2012 to try to capture Kony in cooperation with the Ugandan army. The Department of Defense spent $780 million over six years in pursuit of Kony, though the operation ended last spring without Kony's capture.

    With his army weakened to only a few hundred fighters, Kony withdrew from northern Uganda years ago and is now believed to be in hiding in the Central African Republic, Sudan or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    As the conflict ended and the kidnapped children emerged from the bush, they had to return to the same villages they had pillaged. Many communities shunned the returnees, because the children's presence was a reminder of the things they did and people they killed, a reminder of impossible loss. The process of reconciliation, some of which uses religious leaders to conduct traditional tribal forgiveness ceremonies, is ongoing.

    Girls faced an even greater challenge than boys in the process of rebuilding a life after the conflict. Many girls were forcibly "married" to rebel army commanders, and they returned to their village with young children. The girls had barely completed elementary school and were now single mothers with no education or social support because their families shunned them.

    When the first waves of female returnees came back home, the Sacred Heart of Jesus sisters, who have run St. Monica's since 1982, adapted their vocational program for young mothers. They started a nursery school and kindergarten so mothers could study, and they offered literacy programs for girls who had left school so early they could not read. They incorporated therapy into their traditional vocational training in agriculture, weaving, catering and tailoring.

    More than 1,500 girls and women have graduated from the various courses, which range from three months to two years.

    Nyirumbe said it was a change for the sisters to begin to accept unmarried mothers to study at the school. "But we said, 'Where is our compassion? Where is our care? Our care is to embrace both the mother and the child,' " she said.

    As the years passed, many St. Monica graduates have found success: They started their own stores, began to reconcile with their family and neighbors, got married, had more children. "You can see a girl 10 years ago, she was so miserable, deeply traumatized, and I see her now very beautiful and well dressed," said Nyirumbe. "I see these people have walked through their own pain, they took ownership and they are totally transformed."

    Once Nyirumbe, who gives speeches and interviews about St. Monica's around the world, ran into one of her graduates in Ethiopia's Addis Ababa airport. The graduate was returning from a women's conference in Egypt, where she was an invited speaker. "She wasn't [formally] educated, but she's getting that freedom to go out and talk in the name of others," Nyirumbe said.

    A group of St. Monica's alumni started the Women's Network, an independent group of women who offer small-scale bank loans and emotional support.

    Josephine Amena, a graduate of St. Monica's who now works at the school, is one of the members of the group and said the financial independence she gained after learning to sew has allowed her to "stand firm."

    "Sometimes I'll be defeated, but [after my training] I won't need to go begging to people," she said.

    Amena accompanied Nyirumbe to Washington, D.C., in 2016 for the National Prayer Breakfast and spoke to a breakout session. Instead of focusing on the difficulties, her kidnapping and survival in Kony's army, or her family's rejection when she returned home, Amena prefers to talk about prayer.

    "I told them that God has relieved me from the bush to continue with life," she said.

    Amena relied heavily on her prayer group, made up of both ex-soldiers and civilian victims of terror, to help her find inner peace. "I always tell my fellow ladies, 'Stand firm, there are problems all over the world; there is nowhere where people aren't suffering. Even if I'm sleeping hungry, wherever I go, when you have that peace of heart you're not alone,' " said Amena. "Peace starts from the inside, and then you have more outside."

    How do you teach peace?

    "You cannot teach peace," said Nyirumbe. "You have to lead and see it done practically. The people who suffered so much are the very ones who can become teachers of peace."

    Nyirumbe is overseeing the creation of the Transformative Peace Education curriculum, part of a partnership with the University of Oklahoma's Center for Peace and Development. There are already many blueprints for peace education curriculums across the world. But Nyirumbe is giving the survivors, not academics, the responsibility for designing the program.

    "We're involving people who went through that past and they can tell the story using their own example," said Nyirumbe.

    One lesson they plan to include in the curriculum is a photo project where the women create three photos that represent their past, present and future. "Pictures and storytelling are very good for these women," said Nyirumbe. "It encourages them not exactly to forget the painful past but to remember it and be able to talk about it now, and keep it as a point of reference to teach their children. To say to them, 'This is what we went through so I will take care of you and I won't let you go through this,' " she said.

    Nyirumbe said she remembers hearing traditional stories from her mother, including the stories about two brothers from the Luo tribe who kept fighting. To this day, she still hears her mother's voice echoing in her ear with the moral of that story, warning her never to take revenge. "It is women who can tell these stories effectively to the children, who can say, 'You must break the cycle of violence.' Children spend so much time with their mothers," she said.

    Nirumbe says many women are cowed by their culture or lack of education.

    "Education will liberate these women from their servitude, from their psychological slavery, from their psychological torture and mental torture because they cannot speak about the past. I know there are many things that hold them as captives, and one of them is lack of education. Once they are able to write and speak and communicate, they are no longer living in that prison."

    Pennies and peace

    The curriculum will give women around the world practical tools for emerging from trauma and conflict toward personal healing and then doing peacemaking on a larger scale.

    First, there's the practical part of making peace, which is making money. More than anything, these women know you can't pray on an empty stomach. In conflict areas beset by widespread poverty, the first thing is to ensure the women have a way to survive.

    Amena and her friends, assisted by St. Monica's, created small groups of "table banking," or informal micro loan groups in their communities, to set up small businesses or shops using the skills they learned at St. Monica's.

    "You should always try to save a little money, because the world is like a ball," said Amena, and you never know which way fate will roll. "If you think, 'people will help me out,' that is out. You have to stand firm and say, 'What I'm doing is not only for my benefit but also for my children.'"

    Then comes the emotional work.

    Amena said in the early years, after her family rejected her and she was struggling to survive as a single mom, people often told her to forget the past and move forward. "But I've seen these things with my own eyes," she said.

    Instead, it took years of counseling and community prayer groups to address the trauma she went through and begin to heal. There is a pattern towards healing, one Amena and her friends will try to crystalize into part of the peace curriculum.

    "Forgiving people is part of it, you must have a heart of forgiveness," she said. One aspect of that forgiveness also focuses internally.

    "You must have peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of body," said Amena. "In families where there is no peace, life will be hard. People will be quarreling all the time. When you have peace of mind, it also helps the family to live in peace."

    It, too, is important to create a community of people dedicated towards the same goal of healing.

    "When life becomes hard, you can say, 'I have no one,' it can be hard to share or ask for help," said Amena. "I live and work with these people, and when I'm stuck with life they understand."

    Nyirumbe and the University of Oklahoma believe that people around the world will also learn and understand, gaining insight from the lessons these women have gleaned.

    "We are working with them, but we are making them become the advocates," said Nyirumbe. "They should find other women and say, 'If we can do this, then you can reach it, too.' "

    Uganda now hosts more than a million South Sudanese refugees, who have been through their own traumas and need the same support and assistance.

    "Someone can't come and tell you to have peace in your heart and mind," said Amena. "It depends on the way you live with people, what you do to people, and the life you're going through."

    As Pope Francis reminds the world to pray for peace on Jan. 1, Nyirumbe hopes the message of the women of northern Uganda will also reach forgotten corners of the world where conflicts are just beginning to fade and wounds are still fresh.

    "Peace is not just the absence of war, it's also the peace of the heart," said Nyirumbe. "And if we can get people to start living and feeling from their heart that they're in peace, then development can start taking place. Without this, we will work in vain."

    [Melanie Lidman is Middle East and Africa correspondent for Global Sisters Report based in Israel.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • In Kenya, Debt-Ridden Christian Universities Struggle to Stay Open

    Religion News Service (RNS) || By Fredrick Nzwili || 31 January 2018

    christian universities in kenya struggle to stay openFacing overwhelming debt, one Christian university in Kenya has been ordered to shut its doors as students and professors at two others are wondering whether they could be next.

    The nation’s acting education secretary directed the Presbyterian University of East Africa on Thursday (Jan. 25) to start dismantling, revealing for many in this East African country how financial mismanagement and poorly planned growth was undermining not only Presbyterian University, but two other Christian institutions of higher education in Kenya as well.

    While Presbyterian University hopes to yet save itself, concern is also focused on the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and Kenya Methodist University. Both have a year to show a government commission that they have restructured and can ensure future financial stability.

    The debt problems plaguing these universities have upset not only those enrolled and employed by them, but ordinary citizens in this predominantly Christian country who had hoped for better from the universities’ leaders.

    “As a church institution, I thought it would adopt the best management practice,” said David Nene, a Presbyterian taxi driver who often shuttled people to the university that faces imminent closure.

    But the Rev. Julius Mwamba, the moderator of Presbyterian Church of East Africa, which owns the university, said its challenges can be overcome.

    “We are still open. We hope to remain open,” Mwamba told Religion News Service. “We are negotiating with Ministry of Education. …  We are for dialogue.”

    More than 1,000 students enrolled in the Presbyterian university’s degree programs in the last academic year, and another 350 signed up for its diploma and certificate programs. Many of those students — and staff members, some of whom have not been paid for two years — must live with uncertainty as Mwamba and other university leaders grapple with $6 million in debt and try to save the school.

    Most higher education in Kenya — there are more than 60 universities, about half public and half private — is not church-run. Together, Kenyan universities educate 540,000 students annually in the country of 50 million. About 50,000 graduate each year.

    Presbyterian University of East Africa, founded in 2007, is among several Christian universities in Kenya that have opened within the past few decades and enjoyed fast growth. Some of these Christian universities attracted students who did not get accepted at government-run universities, which charge lower tuitions but require higher grades for entry.

    Even many within the Christian universities said they grew too fast, did not allocate money well — or both.

    Catholic bishops admit all is not well at their institution, which was founded in 1992 and enrolls students from Kenya and elsewhere in Eastern Africa.

    “There have been some hitches,” said Bishop Philip Anyolo, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We don’t think the funds were misappropriated, but directed to incorrect projects.”

    Justus Mbae, vice chancellor of the Catholic university, said the institution was implementing a turnaround strategy that involves restructuring and making sure staff and other resources are all allocated wisely.

    “This is ongoing,” said Mbae, the first vice chancellor of the university who is not a priest.

    At the Methodist university, which opened in 1997, Vice Chancellor Maurice Okoth said the current financial challenges there resulted from past financial mistakes but that these problems have not hurt its mission.

    “The quality of teaching and students’ welfare has never been an issue of concern at the university,” said Okoth in a statement.

    Jesse Mugambi, a professor of philosophy and religious studies at the public University of Nairobi, said the crackdown on religious universities is a good thing in the long run but the rules ensuring good financial practices must be followed.

    “They are made to ensure the universities are sustainable in future,” said Mugambi. “It is good we have the standards now, so that we don’t cry in future over the state of our university education.”

    (Fredrick Nzwili is an RNS correspondent in Nairobi, Kenya.)

    Source: Religion News Service… 

  • Congolese Official Denies Ordering Police to Stop Cathedral Mass

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Godfrey Olukya || 31 January 2018

    congolese official on stopping cathedral massA provincial governor denied allegations by Catholic Church authorities that he ordered police to prevent the celebration of Mass Jan. 21.

    Alphonse Ngoyi Kasanji, who heads the government in Kasai Oriental, challenged the clergy accusing him to provide evidence of their claims.

    United Nations Radio reported Jan. 30 that Catholic clergy in the provincial capital of Mbuji-Mayi sent a letter Jan. 23 to Kasanji, holding him responsible for police attacks on parishioners and some priests at St. Jean Baptiste Bonzola Cathedral.

    The attacks came as parishioners and clergy had planned a march Jan. 21 to demand that Congolese President Joseph Kabila hold fresh elections in line with a church-brokered accords.

    In their letter, the clergy accused the governor of ordering the police to desecrate the churches and prevent the liturgy from taking place.

    Witnesses said police launched tear gas during Mass in the cathedral and attacked worshippers and clergy. The police action was among a series nationwide to prevent protests and rallies.

    In a Jan. 22 report, the Congolese bishops' conference said "peaceful marches" nationwide had been "violently repressed and smothered with tear gas and bursts of fire" in 95 Catholic parishes, leaving six dead and 127 injured, some by police bullets.

    It added that peaceful protests had been prevented after Masses in more than 60 other parishes, while 210 Catholics had been detained; most were freed after a few hours.

    Kasanji accused the priests in Mbuji-Mayi of "behaving like laypeople."

    "Some of these priests, their behavior is not fit to be of priests," he said in a statement read on local television. "Some drink a lot. And finally, we are confused in society, when ... we see the priests in the ranks of the laity."

  • In Nigeria, Brutal Attacks and a Story of Survival

    Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) || By ACN Staff || 25 January 2018

    attacks and story of survival in nigeriaIT IS COMMON in Nigeria that nomadic herdsmen clash from time to time with farmers over the use of land. However, in the past year in particular, raids by Muslim Fulani herdsmen have become more violent and they have specifically targeted Christians. Mysteriously, the herdsmen carry sophisticated weaponry, which has led to speculation that assaults are financed, planned and instigated by anti-Christian elements. Fourteen-year-old Rejoice James, a Catholic student at St. Kizito’s primary and secondary school in Samaru Kataf, Kaduna State, tells the story of two such attacks:

    “It was a Thursday morning, March 16, 2017 at exactly 1:30am; I heard people shouting ‘fire! fire!’ My mother and father and my two siblings rushed out of the house. Fulani herdsmen had come to our village, killing some people and setting houses on fire, including ours. It was burned to ashes. We couldn’t do anything to stop the fire; we lost everything. It felt like God was really silent and life was not fair. Still, we were unharmed.

    “As we stood around, wondering what to do, God sent us a helper, a Muslim man who ran toward us and shouted: ‘run for your lives! You people were good to me and I decided to reciprocate. Run, I said, as fast as your legs can carry you—the Fulani herdsmen are already on their way to kill you.’ I came close to see who the man was and was shocked to discover it was my school’s security guard.

    “So we ran. In the bush everyone was selfish; we ran as if there was a competition; we were exhausted and absolutely afraid, but we kept on running and later found ourselves in Samaru Kataf, which is almost 80 miles from where we lived. We seemed to have gotten there in a twinkle of an eye and I wondered how; it was a mystery that I can’t explain.

    “We went to a Catholic Church where we were fed and clothed for few days. Afterward, we moved into the home of my father’s cousin. My parents could no longer afford to send my siblings and I to Catholic school, so I began attending a state school.

    “One early morning, May 9, 2017, my principal sent a message to my dad, telling him we should not come to school that day, that all was not well in the community. That afternoon, my dad took his bicycle to go to the marketplace; it was market day. A few hours later, I saw people screaming, shouting—some were crying—and running all over. Women ran to our house and yelled out: ‘we are doomed again.’

    “We heard that Fulani herdsmen had come to the marketplace and killed three Christians, and badly wounded four others. The violence had been triggered by the killing of a Fulani taxi driver by some our youth, who were taking revenge for the attack on Fanda Kaje. I began to shiver, thinking of my dad who had gone to the marketplace; my mother was shaking, as we both wondered if my father would still be alive.

    “My mother held my hand and we began to run toward the marketplace. We found chaos; tomatoes, peppers, onions and other food stuffs were scattered everywhere; some shops were burned down. I was very scared; we did not know where to look for my dad. Then we heard a voice: ‘if you move, I will shoot you.” We ran away along with other people; my mother carried me in her arms and ran as fast as her legs could carry her; a woman pushed her and she tripped, injuring her leg. But the pain did not stop her.

    “Just as we were about to get back into our house, there came cries of young people, screaming. We turned around and saw my dad on the ground, lifeless. The boys had carried his body from the marketplace. They rushed over to my mother, who had fainted; they poured water on her face and she regained consciousness; she began to shout and cry at the top of her voice. I could feel my mother’s pain as she held my siblings and me very tightly; we all cried our eyes out. I wondered why God remained silent.

    “After my father’s burial, I helped my mother sell tomatoes for six months. Thanks to my uncle I am now attending a Catholic school again. I am happy because I made new friends and because my two sisters, my mother and I survived the attack.

    “We finally are enjoying peace in the community; the army has stepped in to protect us. The hatred between Christians and the Fulani herdsmen is unbearable—but I still thank God there is a bit of sunshine after the rain in our community.”
    Patience Ibile 

    Source: Aid to the Church in Need… 

  • Kenyan Nuns Take over Hospitals after Protracted Battle with American Priest

    Religion News Service (RNS) || By Fredrick Nzwili || 24 January 2018

    kenyan nuns take over hospitals 2018A dispute between an order of nuns and an American priest over control of two major hospitals for the poor has ended with the nuns — backed by a court order and the police — storming one of the hospitals.

    The battle for the St. Mary’s Mission Hospitals has pitted the priest against the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi in the courts for more than six years and finally ended when the nuns, who had already taken over the Nairobi hospital, entered its sister hospital on Friday (Jan. 19).

    “They stormed the hospital in the morning. The sisters came with a contingent of police officers and other civilians. We are now handing over. It’s all peaceful,” said the Rev. Bob Silvio, chaplain of the St. Mary’s hospital in Elementaita, 75 miles northwest of Nairobi.

    The struggle between the Rev. William Charles Fryda and the sisters worried in particular the poor of the region. They rely on the busy hospitals for medical care many say they could not access elsewhere.

    The Nairobi hospital alone, on average, serves more than 1,200 outpatients a day and 300 inpatients. Each month, its staff delivers 800 to 1,000 babies and performs 500 major operations and 500 other procedures.

    Most of the clientele of both hospitals live in makeshift settlements and can’t afford treatment in private hospitals or even government ones. But for less than a dollar they can see a doctor and get a prescription or a laboratory test at a St. Mary’s hospital.

    “I have paid a hundred shillings (about $1) to see the doctor,” said Eliud Gathogo, a young accountant, as he stood in a long line to see a doctor at St. Mary’s in Nairobi recently. “I am now waiting for a laboratory test. I have been having chest pains, so I woke up early to seek treatment.”

    The legal battle between Fryda, who was unavailable for comment for this story, and the nuns has made headlines across the nation —  for interest in the hospitals but also for the spectacle of an American priest battling local sisters.

    Four months after a court declared the sisters the hospitals’ rightful owners, and as late as the day before the nuns took over the Elementaita hospital this month, Fryda had intended to keep fighting, Silvio said.

    “They stormed the hospital in the morning. The sisters came with a contingent of police officers and other civilians. We are now handing over. It’s all peaceful.”— the Rev. Bob Silvio, chaplain of the St. Mary’s hospital in Elementaita

    “He feels the courts are being influenced, but maintains he is not leaving anytime soon,” Silvio had said.

    In short, Fryda said the hospitals were his since he had founded them (the Nairobi one opened in 2000 and the one in Elementaita in 2007) and built them with money that he alone had raised.

    The sisters said the hospitals were their idea and were set up under an agreement between the sisters and the Maryknoll Fathers of New York. Fryda was separated from the order more than a year ago, according Mike Virgintino, communications manager for the order.

    Frustrated with Fryda’s refusal to hand over the hospitals, the nuns took physical control of the Nairobi facility on Dec. 28, installing new management.

    “We have taken over the hospital. … It’s now in our hands,” a nun belonging to the order told RNS at the time, saying she could not give her name since she is not authorized to speak for the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi.

    Margaret Wanjiru, who sells boiled eggs, sausages and boiled corn to the patients at the gate of the Nairobi hospital, had watched the entire drama unfold.

    “They came with a huge contingent of security men and moved everybody from the gate. We heard cries of patients and saw the older staff running all over. I think there was some resistance,” said Wanjiru.

    Fryda, as a foreigner, cannot own the land on which the hospitals sit. But in 1999, before the first hospital opened, he founded a corporation to run the institutions. With the incorporation, the sisters feared that the priest was trying to wrest control of the hospitals, control that — the courts eventually agreed — the original agreement between his order and theirs had assigned to them.

    They also complained that he started a medical university and children’s orphanage without consulting them.

    Fryda, who was suspended by his order in 2013 for refusing to drop a lawsuit against the nuns, arrived in Kenya from Tanzania in the 1980s and found the sisters running St. Mary’s Hospital as a dispensary.

    He and they agreed to expanding the dispensary into a hospital and bought more land, with the sisters acting as trustees of the land, church sources said.

    Patients hope the hospitals will continue to serve them well.

    But the Rev. Joachim Omollo, a Roman Catholic priest familiar with the hospitals’ development, said donors cultivated by Fryda are still essential to the institutions but may not continue to open their wallets without Fryda on the scene.

    “Paying doctors, buying the medicines and equipment is quite an expensive affair,” Omollo said. “I fear the hospitals may collapse.”

    Source: Religion News Service… 

  • Caritas Uganda is Calling for International Help for South Sudanese Refugees

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 27 January 2018

    caritas uganda intervenes for south sudanese refugeesSouth Sudanese refugees are continuing to arrive in neighboring Uganda, and the situation in Bidi Bidi refugee camp - the world’s largest - is likely to get worse.

    Uganda currently hosts 1.3 million refugees and asylum seekers, most of them from South Sudan.

    “Despite such a huge number, Uganda continues to accept a daily influx of about 3,000 South Sudan refugees,” said Christine Laura Okello, Caritas Uganda Humanitarian Emergency Coordinator.

    She told Crux South Sudan alone accounts for over one million refugees, as famine, economic collapse and years of fighting have forced people out of the country faster than from any other country in the world.

    The influx is stretching resources, which Okello said is causing a crisis.

    “The problems faced by refugees in Bidi Bidi settlement include inadequate nutrition …cases of malnutrition are still common, inadequate sanitation and hygiene facilities, unmet needs of menstrual hygiene management among the refugee girls and women of reproductive age, to mention but just a few,” Okello told Crux.

    She said Caritas Uganda is providing essential services in the camp and has been helped by other Caritas agencies around the world.

    “This is to improve the livelihood and the welfare of the refugees as World Food Program is far stretched in providing food for the huge number of refugees in Bidibidi,” Okello said.

    She explained that Caritas has been intervening in phases. Phase one of the emergency response that ended in 2017 “focused particularly on the provision of fast growing and short term maturing vegetable seeds.”

    She said Caritas Denmark is now supporting Caritas Uganda in implementing phase two of the emergency response which addresses “ongoing needs such as training on agronomic practices, seed multiplication, tree planting and vocational training.”

    Okello told Crux that by implementing this phase, Caritas is contributing towards ‘Pillar II’ of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which calls on building self-reliance among refugees.

    Caritas Uganda is also working with the UN refugee agency to apply ‘Pillar III’ of the CRRF, which is aimed at supporting host countries and communities.

    A key component of this is the ReHoPE (Refugee and Host Population Empowerment) strategy, which seeks to bring together all the stakeholders in the refugee process. This means coordinating the various agencies and programs aimed at helping the refugees in the country.

    Caritas Uganda is also implementing the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in Bidi Bidi to provide access to clean and safe water, sanitation and hygiene materials to refugees and the host community.

    “It is also providing reusable pads to adolescent girls and vulnerable women in Bidi Bidi settlement. The girls at the settlement and host communities lack access to soap, and inadequate private place to wash, change and dry re-usable menstrual materials,” Okello said.

    Charles Akimu - a refugee who benefited from aid given by Caritas Uganda - spoke about how the help has benefited his life.

    ‘’Before acquiring the skills from ADRA college with support from Caritas we used to buy vegetables very expensively from the host community, but now we are able to utilize the knowledge and seeds provided by Caritas to produce our own vegetables. That has increased our food intake. The children are now enjoying every meal because we are able to change different green vegetables other than relying on maize meal and beans supplied by the WFP which sometimes is boring to eat every day. We are really grateful to Caritas,” Akimu said.

    To continue these efforts, Okello told Crux more funds are needed, not only to pay for direct aid, but also to buy needed equipment for staff, such as vehicles which can handle poor roads in the camps.

    Need for a better international response

    In the face of the worsening conditions at the camp, Okello has called on the international community to show more compassion.

    “In my opinion, the crisis is not over, nor will it be the last, and we need a better international response: More comprehensive, timely, bold and innovative with more political courage to allow refugees to return home,” she told Crux.

    She said this response should include a commitment to resettling refugees, and helping host countries such as Uganda, which are bearing a disproportionate burden.

    “Uganda should be assisted to manage and integrate refugees,” Okello said.

    She added development assistance should not be dissociated from refugee assistance, which is currently the case.

    Okello also called on rich countries to meditate on Pope Francis’s message on the occasion of the launch of the Caritas Internationalis “Share the Journey” campaign.

    Francis introduced the program on Sept. 27, 2017, to encourage Catholics to find ways to support and welcome refugees and migrants.

    Okello quoted the words of the pope: “Not just to see but to look. Not just to hear but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by, but to stop. And don’t just say what a shame, poor people, but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Papal Decree Recognizes Martyrdom of Religious in Algeria

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 29 January 2018

    martyrdom of religious in algeria recognizedPope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of a bishop, seven Trappist monks and 11 other religious men and women killed by extremists in Algeria in the 1990s.

    At a meeting Jan. 26 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, Pope Francis signed the decree for the causes of Bishop Pierre Lucien Claverie of Oran, Algeria, and 18 companions, paving the way for their beatification.

    The 19 men and women died between 1993 and 1996, while Algeria was locked in a 10-year-long armed conflict between government forces and extremist Islamic rebel groups; the conflict left tens of thousands of people dead.

    Bishop Claverie and his driver were killed by a remote-controlled bomb left by the bishop's residence, and the seven Trappist monks, who had been kidnapped from the monastery of Tibhirine, were beheaded by a group of Islamic terrorists trained by the al-Qaida network. The monks' story was treated in the film "Of Gods and Men," which won the grand prize at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010.

    Trappist Father Thomas Georgeon, postulator of the cause, told the Italian bishops' radio station Jan. 27 that a date for the beatification ceremony had not yet been set, but he hoped the Mass would be celebrated in Oran.

    Pope Francis also recognized the martyrdom of Veronica Antal, a Romanian lay member of the Secular Franciscan Order and the Militia Immaculatae, which was founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe. She died in 1958 at the age of 22 after an assailant stabbed her dozens of times in a corn field for refusing his sexual advances.

    Clearing the way for her canonization, the pope also recognized a miracle attributed to Blessed Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish religious, who was born in 1889 and founded the Missionary Crusaders of the Church.

    He also recognized miracles attributed to three other religious women, paving the way for their beatification:

    -- Venerable Elisabeth Eppinger, a French religious who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer; she died in 1867.

    -- Venerable Clelia Merloni, the Italian founder of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who died in 1930.

    -- Venerable Maria Gargani, the Italian founder of the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart. She was also very active with Catholic Action and was a close friend who exchanged extensive correspondence with St. Padre Pio. She died in 1973.

    In causes just beginning their way toward sainthood, the pope signed decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of Italian Father Ambrosio Grittani, founder of the Oblates of St. Benedict Joseph Labre, who died in 1951, and Anna-Maria Maddalena Delbrel, a lay French woman, who died in 1964.

  • Crisis in Cameroon: Cardinal Tumi Criticizes Military Violence

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 24 January 2018

    cardinal tumi criticizes military violence in cameroonA Cameroonian cardinal has spoken out against the recent use of military violence in the country's Southwest Region against Anglophone separatists, saying local forces need to respect human life.

    “You don’t bring peace by violence and violence begets violence,” said Cardinal Christian Tumi, Archbishop Emeritus of Douala, in a recent video, according to Journal du Cameroun.

    “I have heard about those destructions and killings…and I think that has to be condemned. So my opinion is simple, we as Cameroonians should respect lives and the life of everybody,” he continued.

    Military forces have been burning down villages in Cameroon's Southwest Region, seeking separatist forces. Most recently, the town of Kwa Kwa, Matoh and the surrounding area was set on fire, which destroyed homes and the rectory of the local Catholic church.

    The attacks also claimed the life of a 96-year old woman who died in one of the buildings set on fire by military forces. In addition to causing deaths, the political crisis within Cameroon has also pushed thousands of refugees into neighboring Nigeria.

    The crisis is rooted in conflict between the English- and French-speaking areas of Cameroon. The area was a German colony in the late 19th century, but the territory was divided into British and French mandates after the German Empire's defeat in World War I. The mandates were united in an independent Cameroon in 1961.

    There is now a separatist movement in the Southwest and Northwest Regions, which were formerly the British Southern Cameroons.

    Unrest in Cameroon has been ongoing since 2016, when the country’s Anglophone community began protests to demand the return of federalism. These protests have gone so care as to call for secession from the current government, run by President Paul Biya.

    Secessionist militants in the English-speaking region of Cameroon have also sought violence against government forces and began attacking military troops in November 2017.

    Biya, who is likely to seek re-election after 35 years in office, is not expected to seek negotiations with the secessionists since 2018 is an election year, which could prolong the political tensions within the country.

    However, Cardinal Tumi suggested that Biya is unware of the most recent attacks against southwest locals.

    “I am sure that if the President of the Republic knows what is happening, he will condemn it, but on the country, he congratulated the army to bring peace,” Tumi said.

    The cardinal was born in what is now Northwest Cameroon, but has served as a bishop, since 1979, in Francophone regions of the country.

    According to reports, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea told reporters that the Cameroon crisis could only be resolved through dialogue.

    “Cameroon is a big nation whose crisis requires concern of all forces. There is no nation without its own crisis,” President Nguema said, according to Xinhua Net.

    “What is required is to seek solution through dialogue and use it to find a common axis. Those seeking refuge in other lands need to sit down together and find solution through dialogue. It is only through that, they can find solution to the crisis.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Congo's Bishops Criticize Excessive Force to Break up Protests

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || 24 January 2018

    bishops criticize excessive force in dr congoCongo's bishops condemned the "excessive and disproportionate use of force" by security forces that dispersed protesters demanding President Joseph Kabila hold fresh elections in line with a church-brokered accord.

    In a Jan. 22 report, the bishops' conference said "peaceful marches" had been "violently repressed and smothered with tear gas and bursts of fire" in 95 Catholic parishes, leaving six dead and 127 injured, some by police bullets.

    It added that peaceful protests had been prevented after Masses in more than 60 other parishes, while 210 Catholics had been detained; most were freed after a few hours.

    "Once again, the church deplores the excessive and disproportionate use of force against demonstrators with nothing in their hands but Bibles, rosaries and palms," the bishops said.

    On Jan. 24, Pope Francis spoke of Congo at the end of his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

    "Unfortunately, worrying news continues to arrive from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Therefore, I renew my appeal so that everyone may work hard to avoid every form of violence," he said. "For its part, the church wants nothing more than to contribute to peace and the common good of society."

    In a "technical note" Jan. 22, the Vatican Embassy in Kinshasa said security forces had surrounded parishes, used tear gas and "shots with real bullets" in Kisangani, Goma, Bukavu, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi. It added that two Congolese police had been killed by stray bullets in Kinshasa, and said "at least one priest" had been wounded and "at least three others" arrested in the capital. 

    A spokesman for the U.N. Stabilization Mission confirmed the organization had recorded six deaths and dozens of injuries in Kinshasa when demonstrations were staged after Masses Jan. 21. The church's lay coordinating committee organized the demonstrations.

    Agence France-Presse reported a 24-year-old female religious novice had been killed when police fired on St. Francis de Sales Church in the capital's Kintambo suburb. It added that similar violence had erupted outside Notre Dame Cathedral and in many of the city's 160 Catholic parishes, as protesters, accompanied by clergy, waved crucifixes and rosaries.

    At a Jan. 22 news conference, parties in the Congo's governing coalition criticized the church for organizing a "democratic aberration" and said most Catholics had not supported its "useless and vain initiative."

    The Catholic Church makes up half the 67.5 million inhabitants of Congo and has pressed Kabila to step down since his second and final term expired more than a year ago.

    A church-brokered accord in December 2016 allowed the president to stay in office, alongside an opposition head of government, pending elections by the end of 2017.

    However, in November, Congo's Electoral Commission said the ballot would be postponed till Dec. 23, 2018.

    Earlier in January, the Congolese bishops' conference condemned "violent and bloody repression" of similar protests Dec. 31, in which eight people were killed. The bishops also demanded action against those who "deliberately profaned churches and holy places."

    Speaking Jan. 21 during his visit Lima, Peru, Pope Francis urged Congolese leaders to "do everything possible to prevent further violence and seek solutions to the common good." He led a minute's silence for victims.

    On Jan. 22, the Association of Bishops' Conferences of Central Africa pledged solidarity with Catholic efforts "to achieve a state of law." Muslim and Protestant leaders had backed the Catholic demonstrations in weekend statements and urged officials not to use force.

  • Southern Africa Bishops Give a Thumbs Up for Quality Mini World Youth Day

    CANAA || By Paul Tatu, South Africa || 24 January 2018

    quality mini world youth day in s africaDuring the afternoon of 24th January 2018, the SACBC Plenary was keeping its focus on the evaluation of the Mini World Youth Day which was held in Durban – South Africa on the 03 – 10th December 2017. During his evaluation Fr Mthembeni Dlamini, the SACBC National Youth Chaplain, thanked the SACBC Bishops for the great support they gave to the young people to attend the event.

    In spite of the challenges that came up during the event, Fr. Mthembeni said that the general feeling of the young people is that the Mini World Youth Day went very well and young people appreciated the experience they were given, and their wish is that the event of the same nature should be organised sooner.

    Fr Mthembeni also thanked all different organising teams who worked hard for two years to make sure that event of Mini World Youth Day becomes a success. He said that there were challenges in the beginning of organising for the event but he is happy that at the end all went well with different teams cooperating well to make the event a great success.

    The Bishops thanked Fr. Mthembeni and all the teams that worked hard to make sure that event is a success. Some of the Bishops who were there for the event also appreciated the good work which was done by SACBC Secretariat and other organising teams. They said that the event was great.

    Fr Mthembeni said that SACBC now has to give attention to the World Youth Day which will be held in Panama in January 2019. He also appealed to the Bishops that they have to give the best to the young people by choosing best chaplains for them, so that there is a good working together of the SACBC Youth office and the dioceses.

    The evaluation of the Mini World Youth Day comes after this morning address to the Bishops by His Excellency Archbishop Peter, the Apostolic Nuncio to South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia, who also emphasised to the Bishops the importance of taking care of young people.

    Archbishop Peter Wells congratulated the SACBC Bishops for giving such importance to the ministry to the youth. He also emphasised that the Bishops should be vigilant in making sure that the safeguarding of the children and protection of minors should be one of their main priorities, as the Church continues to stand strong and unshaken against the abuse of the vulnerable.

    The evaluation of the Mini World Youth Day was ended with the discussion on the way forward about the event of the same nature in the future, and the outcome will come later after the plenary.

  • Catholic Bishops in South Sudan Promise Collaboration with Episcopal Church’s Archbishop Elect

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 25 January 2018

    newly elected justin badi aramaThe Catholic Bishops of South Sudan have expressed their readiness to collaborate with the newly elected Primate of the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Archbishop-elect Justin Badi Arama who, until his election last Saturday, January 20, has been the Bishop of Maridi.

    In a January 23 statement shared with CANAA, the President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro described the responsibility ahead of the Archbishop-elect as “difficulty.”

    “On behalf of the clergy, faithful and Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), we express to you our most sincere greetings as you begin this certainly difficult, but spiritually and fundamentally important mission in the life of the clergy and faithful entrusted to your spiritual care,” Bishop Barani stated.

    According to the Anglican Communion News Service,Archbishop-elect Badi won by a single vote in a tightly contested election that saw him get 80 votes against Bishop Abraham Yel Nhial of Aweil who garnered 79 votes.

    “The Catholic Church and above all Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference looks forward to working with you in fostering greater tolerance, peace, unity, development and respect across the diverse South Sudanese community,” Bishop Barani told the new Primate.

    Bishop Barani thanked the outgoing leader of Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, “Archbishop Daniel Bull for his great pastoral programs.”

    Below is the full text of the letter by the President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference to newly elected Primate of the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan

    January 23, 2018

    Most Rev. Justin Badi  
    Primate Archbishop Elect of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan

    Your Grace: GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST UPON YOUR ELECTION!

    The month of January 2018 in Episcopal Church of South Sudan and beyond her borders will always be treasured in history as the month when the faithful of the Episcopal Church were blessed with a new Spiritual Father in the person of your Grace.

    On behalf of the clergy, faithful and Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), we express to you our most sincere greetings as you begin this certainly difficult, but spiritually and fundamentally important mission in the life of the clergy and faithful entrusted to your spiritual care.  Your election takes place just when the country is desperately looking out for peace by revitalizing all process!

    Dear Brother in Christ, we hope in the depth of our hearts that the joyful Light of the Risen Lord will always accompany you in your Service.  We pray that your pastoral activity will positively influence the progression of contacts between Episcopal Church of South Sudan also in Catholic Christians and all people of good-will. 

    We look forward to continuing to work with you, Archbishop-elect Justin Badi in you a new and exciting role. You have been very successful in promoting active youth engagement in the Church by many ethnic communities. Maridi has so many tribes living there and they have always managed to stay and hold on together, this is of course a process insisted on by you Arch-Bishop Badi. Now this new role extending the same for the people of South Sudan as whole is a great accomplishment.

    The Catholic Church and above all Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference looks forward to working with you in fostering greater tolerance, peace, unity, development and respect across the diverse South Sudanese community. Growing up in Maridi, Archbishop-elect Justin Badi you have experienced firsthand a multicultural and multi-faith community and have worked closely in the Diocese of Maridi in supporting young people of ethnic backgrounds. This has also been reflected in your national outlook. We look forward to doing this together.

    I am delighted that Body of the Bishops have elected you Bishop Justin Badi as Archbishop of Juba. You have done phenomenal work for the building up of Youth, women, elderly, but also in your day to say role as a shepherd of souls. I join the Christian family in congratulating you and offering prayers for your ministry. Your Election Archbishop at a time in which South Sudan badly needs holiness of life and peace more than anything, you surely going to be truly Archbishop of Peace!

    I seize this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the outgoing Archbishop Daniel Bull for his great pastoral programs.  He has been a good and faithful servant of the Lord and a good and faithful servant of this community. He has been generous. He is great company. He is a good friend. I extend to our appreciation for duty well done, I pray for next relaxed moment of prayers and advisory role.

    We wish you much success in the spiritual mission of the salvation of souls.  We know that alone, human strength is insufficient to fulfill this service to which you are called.  May your real strength come from God the Creator, for He is Good and Merciful. Great compliments dear Bishop Badi!

    With prayers in Christ our Lord,

    Barani Eduardo Hiiboro KUSSALA

    Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio &

    President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference

  • One Year into Trump Presidency, US Foreign Policy Frustrates UN Sisters

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Chris Herlinger || 19 January 2018

    us foreign policy frustrates un sistersA year into the presidency of Donald Trump, Catholic sisters working at the international level say they have grown frustrated, weary and even angry with the direction Trump's administration is taking the United States in its relations with the rest of the world.

    The frustration is particularly acute among the sisters who represent their congregations at the United Nations. As strong supporters of the U.N.'s dedication to international cooperation in what they describe as an increasingly interconnected and globalized world, the sisters say they are worried and dismayed about the Trump administration's go-it-alone "America First" foreign policy.

    "When national self-interest trumps the common good — well, that's a never-ending dilemma at the United Nations," said Sr. Margaret Mayce, an American who represents the Dominican Leadership Conference at the U.N. "But it's in our face now."

    Mayce said she does not want to "impugn people," but nonetheless, it looks more and more like the U.N. values of international cooperation and mutual accountability "are not values for the present administration," she said.

    Indian Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, who represents the Congregations of St. Joseph at the world body and who expressed concern after Trump's 2016 election about what his presidency could portend for women, people who live in poverty and migrants, said any possible wait-and-see moment for the Trump administration is over.

    In an interview with Global Sisters Report, Senapati said she and others have to stand for the "one common global voice" that the United Nations represents.

    "How can we be silent in the face of injustice?" she asked, adding that Catholic sisters have "to take a stand for what is right. We can't be silent."

    Mayce, Senapati and other sisters provide a long list of frustrations with the current administration. These include:

    The U.S. withdrawal from the U.N.-negotiated Paris agreement on climate change;

    A similar withdrawal from negotiations on a U.N.-sponsored set of international compacts on migration and refugees;

    Comments made by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that she was "taking names" of countries that criticized the United States for its decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    Trump's recent comments about immigration and his rumored crude characterization of Haiti and countries in Africa as "shithole" countries — a term Trump denies using — have also fueled anger among sisters working at the United Nations.

    "I was personally outraged by that," Senapati said. "It's racist. It's a pure racist comment."

    That outrage goes beyond the United Nations: In a statement issued earlier this week in connection with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Michigan-based Adrian Dominican Sisters did not mention Trump by name but said, "Our national sense of decency is [being] assaulted by coarse and disrespectful public discourse, and our sense of unity fractured by words and actions that sow hatred and division."

    Less circumspect was Sr. Denise Desil, the mother general of the nearly 200-member Haitian congregation the Little Sisters of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Desil, who lives and works in Haiti but travels frequently to the United States, told GSR reaction in Haiti to Trump's comments was "shame for the human being [who] doesn't know that we are all the children of God. The skin [color] means nothing. We have the same blood in our body. I am proud of my color. We need to respect others."

    For the sisters at the U.N., the comments merely capped a year of growing impatience over U.S. policies.

    Senapati said the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement was particularly egregious, calling it "a danger to the world." She said it is troubling that the most powerful country in the world "is not able to read the sign of the times."

    What the United States is doing, she said, is antithetical to U.N. values and creates enemies for the U.S. at the world body and globally.

    "It's alarming," she said.

    Mayce said pulling out of negotiations over the migration pact was particularly telling of where U.S. policy is heading.

    In 2016, President Barack Obama's administration supported the United Nations' New York Declaration, a major step toward debate this year of two international compacts, one focused on "a set of common principles and approaches" on migration overall and the second on refugees.

    The New York Declaration calls for the protection of "the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of status," including the rights of women and girls "and promoting their full, equal and meaningful participation in finding solutions."

    In her Dec. 2 statement announcing the withdrawal, Haley hailed what she called the United States' immigrant heritage and "our long-standing moral leadership in providing support to migrant and refugee populations across the globe. No country has done more than the United States, and our generosity will continue.

    "But our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone," she said. "We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with U.S. sovereignty."

    In an interview with GSR, Mayce said the announcement was worrisome because the migration issue is global in scale, and the United States should be part of the discussion of how to address it.

    "To pull yourself out of that as if nothing at the international level has anything to do with us is just stunning," she said.

    Mayce labeled current U.S. immigration policy inadequate, noting that countries "much smaller than the U.S." are admitting greater numbers of refugees fleeing wars from the Middle East than the United States.

    But, she added, even if a country had decided to limit the number of those being admitted in, "you should still be at the table, trying to determine how else you could help. It's a global problem, a global phenomenon, and every country has a role to play."

    Mayce faulted Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and daughter of Indian immigrants, for "following suit" on Trump's nationalist rhetoric and said taken together, the policies and statements of the last year are "putting the U.S. in a very bad light." (On Jan. 18, Politico reported that global approval of U.S. leadership in Trump's first year dropped to a record low of 30 percent, according to a Gallup poll.)

    Adding to concerns: The United States Mission to the United Nations does not seem to have much interest in a dialogue with the nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, including the sisters' congregations, said Sr. Teresa Kotturan, U.N. representative for the Sisters of Charity Federation.

    Consistent communications from the U.S. Mission — even regular email blasts — seem to have stopped, said Kotturan, who called the U.S. Mission "inaccessible."

    "There has been no relationship with NGOs for the last year. It seems to be an avenue that is closed." (The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Kotturan, Mayce and others said Samantha Power, Haley's predecessor at the U.N., welcomed dialogue with NGOs, even if they did not agree with U.S. policies. The sisters said they would welcome a dialogue with Haley.

    "What I miss is global solidarity, to enter into a dialogue, to understand each other, so we can solve a problem and partner in peace-building and bring about security," Kotturan said.

    "We want to build bridges," Kotturan said of the work of NGOs and the sisters' congregations. "The focus should always be on peace-building in the world."

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Cardinal Laments Deadly Year for Church in CAR

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 16 January 2018

    cardinal laments deadly year in car 2017Cardinal Diudonne Nzapalainga of the Central African Republic has described 2017 as “an unfortunate year” in the country.

    Of chief concern for the Archbishop of Bangui was the number of priests and other church workers killed in the country over the past year.

    In his opening speech during the first 2018 meeting of the country’s bishops’ conference, the cardinal said 2017 “saw the murder and aggression of many servants of God in Bangui, but especially in our provinces: Banguassou, Alindao, Mokoyo … Churches devastated, looted or burned; faithful martyred. Last year’s toll is alarming.”

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

    On May 30, 2014, the transition government of the CAR referred the situation in the country to the ICC requesting that the court open investigations on alleged crimes against humanity that fall within the court’s jurisdiction committed in the country since August 1, 2012.

    According to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, information available provides “a reasonable basis to believe that both the Séléka and the anti-balaka groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of children under fifteen in combat.”

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

    The southern city of Bangassou has become a flashpoint in the conflict. Rebels attacked a Muslim quarter on May 13, 2017, leaving 115 dead, including six UN peacekeepers.

    The Catholic cathedral in the city has become home to some 2,000 Muslims who live under the protection of the Catholic bishop, Spaniard Juan José Aguirre Muñoz.

    On July 21, 2017, the African News Agency reported that Saint-Louis Catholic parish in the central town of Bria, which is also sheltering hundreds of displaced people, had been attacked and robbed by armed men after failing to receive protection from the UN peacekeeping force.

    On September 2, Father Louis Tongagnessi was murdered by armed bandits in Zemio, in the south-east of the country.

    “Where are we going to? What shall the people of Central Africa become in 2018?” Nzapalainga asked his fellow bishops at their January meeting.

    Even though Church leaders and Church grounds seem to be becoming new targets for attacks by militias, the Catholic Church and its leaders have remained the primary hope for those seeking refuge.

    “When they see us in our cassocks, they run to us because they believe we can protect them,” Nzapalainga told Crux.

    According to Christophe Droeven, country representative for the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Church is now the “only functioning structure” in many parts of the country, and both Christians and Muslims have fled to Catholic institutions for protection.

    “Although religious leaders can’t stop the fighting, they can often arrange talks, negotiate with kidnappers and mediate on the front line. But the armed groups don’t distinguish between aid organizations like ours. We’re unprotected and having to be very careful,” Droeven told America Magazine.

    A January 2018 report by OXFAM says the security situation is worsening and the “humanitarian situation is deepening.”

    It reports 2.5 million people are in need of protection and basic services, and the humanitarian response has been slow in coming, complicating the situation.

    “The worsening security situation in various parts of the country since May 2017 is creating instability and forcing vulnerable civilians to once again bear the brunt of the crisis. It has resulted in at least 249 arbitrary killings and more than 180,000 displaced persons. Today, 600,000 people are internally displaced and 482,000 are refugees in neighboring countries,” the report says.

    Nzapalainga has dismissed claims by some that the violence could be drawn on religious lines.

    “Were that to be the case, then you wouldn’t see Muslim and Catholic leaders working together to initiate dialogue,” he told Crux.

    He said the conflict was being driven by the search for ownership over minerals. “Many people are growing richer from this war,” he said.

    In the face of the escalating violence, the cardinal urges his compatriots to look up to God for a solution.

    “We have faith in the great goodness of the Lord towards us, as Pope Francis reminded us during his stay in Bangui,” he told Fides, a Catholic news agency.

    At the end of the bishops’ conference meeting on Sunday, the bishops called on all armed groups to “unconditionally” disarm, and urged them to stop their criminal acts.

    The bishops also condemned “the slow response and inaction” of some units belonging to the UN peacekeeping force in the country.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Nigerian Bishops Deplore Dehumanizing Trends of Violence

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 18 January 2018

    nigerian bishops deplore dehumanizing trends of violenceNigeria's bishops challenged government authorities Tuesday to resolve the country’s violent disputes, especially after recent attacks by Fulani herdsmen have resulted in over 100 deaths just this year.

    A Jan. 16 statement from the Nigerian bishops' conference focused on clashes between herdsmen and farmers; a spate of kidnappings; and the large number of internally displaced persons and refugees.

    “The recent mass slaughter of unarmed citizens by these armed herdsmen in some communities in Benue, Adamawa, Kaduna and Taraba States has caused national shock, grief and outcry” read the statement.
     
    “We believe that, if there is some degree of political will, our public authorities can take adequate steps to put an end to these human tragedies.”

    Signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos and Bishop William Avenya of Gboko, the president and secteary of the Nigerian bishops' conference, respectively, the statement also urged officials to attend to increased kidnappings causing fear among citizens and humanitarian issues occurring in refugee camps.

    On Jan. 11, thousands of Nigerians gathered in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, to mourn the death of 73 people. The deaths were a result of suspected Fulani herdsman who have raided nearby farming communities with automatic rifles since the beginning of the year.

    Additionally, at least 55 people were killed by the nomadic herdsman in the neighboring state of Taraba. However, the violence has not ended and the death toll is likely to rise.

    Violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers has increased in recent years since climate issues have pushed herders further south. The bishops understood the herdsmen's concern “to save their livestock and economy” but condemned the “massacres of innocent people” that have resulted.

    “Our perilous situation calls for more security consciousness,” the statement read, and the bishops urged authorities to take measures to disarm and unmask the criminals responsible for the attacks.  

    They maintained that “a better alternative to open grazing should be sought rather than introducing 'grazing colonies' in the country. Government should rather encourage cattle owners to establish ranches in line with international best practice.”

    “Farmers and herdsmen have a lot to contribute to the socio economic prosperity of our nation. A more enduring strategy must be worked out for their peaceful co-existence and mutual respect,” the bishops wrote.

    Without government intervention, the bishops are worried the conflict would breed situations of long term violence, and that farmers would have to result to self-defense, creating a state of anarchy.

    “This will, no doubt, lead to the complete breakdown of law and order in the country,” wrote the bishops. “It is wiser and easier to prevent a war than to stop it after it has broken out,” they later added.

    The bishops, though, applauded the government’s successful efforts to remove one terrorist group, but were also saddened by the incidents of kidnapping and the lack of police efforts to prevent such widespread crimes.

    “While thanking God and the federal government for the successes so far recorded in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the north east, we are appalled by the repeated occurrence of other ugly incidents,” read the message.

    Recent kidnappings from have seeded fear among Nigeria’s citizens, the bishops said, noting that no individual “no matter how old, sacred or highly placed” has been safe from the humiliating attacks.

    An Italian priest, who had been missionary in Nigeria for three years, was kidnapped in October 2017. He was taken while driving in Benin City, the capital of Edo, a southern state of the country. Likewise, six religious women were taken last November from their convent near Benin City.

    All the mentioned parties have been released, but the bishops expressed frustrations that “communities should be better policed” considering the monthly allowance set aside by the Federal Republican of Nigeria for security forces.

    Two American and two Canadian citizens were kidnapped in Kaduna state Jan. 17. The kidnappers shot and killed two police escorts in the incident, according to the BBC.

    The bishops also encouraged more policing of refugee camps, which have reportedly become hubs of sexual harassment.

    Due to political unrest, Cameroonians have fled their country and taken residence in refugee camps within the states of Taraba and Banue. Many of these places are in need of basic necessities, sanitation, and medical supplies, the bishops wrote.

    The government should provide additional support to the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, they said, but also urged people to aid integration of these struggling communities.

    In conclusion, the bishops called on all of Nigeria to participate in actions of peace, forgiveness, and mutual dialogue.

    “We, therefore, urge all aggrieved parties to seek reconciliation through dialogue and mutual forgiveness. Above all, we passionately appeal to them to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Security Forces Fire on Catholic Churchgoers in DR Congo

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) || 19 January 2018

    churchgoers in dr congo fired atEnd Crackdown, Allow Religious Services, Peaceful Protests

    Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo used excessive force, including teargas and live ammunition, against peaceful protesters at Catholic churches in the capital, Kinshasa, and other cities on December 31, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. When confronted by the heavily armed police and soldiers, some protesters, dressed in white, sang hymns or knelt on the ground. At least eight people were killed and dozens injured, including at least 27 with gunshot wounds, but the actual number killed and wounded may be much higher.

    The shooting, beating, and arbitrary arrests of peaceful churchgoers by Congolese security forces violated the rights to freedom of worship, expression, and peaceful assembly, Human Rights Watch said. Those responsible for the unlawful use of deadly force should be prosecuted. With more protests planned, the authorities should lift the ban on demonstrations and allow people to worship without interference.

    “Congolese security forces hit a new low by firing into church grounds to disrupt peaceful services and processions,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should stop banning demonstrations and leave worshipers alone.”

    Since the shootings, Catholic Church lay leaders in Congo have called for peaceful marches following Sunday Mass on January 21, 2018, to press Congo’s leaders to respect the Catholic Church-mediated political agreement signed in late 2016. The agreement called for presidential elections by the end of 2017 and measures to ease political tensions. These commitments have largely been ignored, however, as President Joseph Kabila has held on to power through repression and violence.

    Since December 31, Human Rights Watch has interviewed 86 people in Congo, including victims and their family members, witnesses, priests and other church officials, hospital and morgue employees, local activists, security force officers, and political leaders. 

    In early December, the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC), a group of Catholic intellectuals, backed by Catholic priests and bishops in Congo, called for a protest on December 31. They appealed to all Congolese to protest the failure to implement the so-called New Year's Eve Agreement and “to free the future of Congo.” Priests at parishes across Congo planned peaceful processions that would begin from their churches immediately following Sunday Mass. All the main political opposition leaders, civil society groups, and citizens’ movements supported the call to protest, with many explicitly demanding Kabila’s immediate resignation and a “citizens’ transition” to restore constitutional order and organize credible elections.

    In the days leading up to the protests and on December 31, security forces arrested scores of people, including at least six Catholic priests, as well as pro-democracy activists, members of opposition parties, and other peaceful protesters. In an apparent attempt to prevent information about the protests from spreading, the government ordered telecommunications companies to block text messages and internet access across Congo on December 30. Service was only restored three days later.

    On the morning of December 31, security forces surrounded at least 134 Catholic parishes in Kinshasa and erected roadblocks across the city, the church reported. Many Kinshasa residents were forced to show their voter registration cards, which serve as identity cards in Congo, to pass the roadblocks and continue to church. Some people, including those wearing or holding visible religious symbols – such as crosses, bibles, rosaries, and palms – were blocked from crossing the roadblocks. Security forces told some that there would be no Mass that day and they should return home.

    Despite the heavy intimidation tactics, churches were packed, according to priests and congregants. Worshipers and others attempted to demonstrate following services in the cities and towns of Beni, Bukavu, Butembo, Goma, Idjwi, Kindu, Kamina, Kananga, Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Matadi, and Mbandaka, as well as in the capital. Across the country, the security forces quickly and often violently dispersed the protesters.

    In Kinshasa, security forces fired teargas into church buildings in at least three parishes. In numerous other parishes, they fired teargas, rubber bullets, and in some cases live ammunition within the parish grounds, just outside the church buildings.

    “At the beginning of the homily, I heard a loud boom from outside as the police fired teargas,” a priest in Kinshasa said. “But despite this, I continued with the service. Then there was a second boom, and a third, and this time the police had fired teargas within the church. It was then impossible to continue, so I had to stop the Mass to allow the worshipers to go outside to breathe.”

    Kinshasa’s police spokesperson said on January 2 that five people were killed on December 31, including a policeman, two bandits known as “kulunas,” a so-called “terrorist,” and a member of the Kamuina Nsapu militia, who all reportedly died under circumstances unrelated to the protests.

    Read More: Human Rights Watch… 

  • Missionaries of Africa in Ethiopia Lauded for Dedicated Service, Celebrate Golden Jubilee

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 18 January 2018

    white fathers mark 50 years in ethiopia 2018The Missionaries of Africa have been lauded for their dedicated service among the people of God in Ethiopia as the 250-year-old international Missionary Society of priests and brothers celebrated 50 years of presence in Ethiopia last Sunday, January 14.

    The Catholic Bishop of Adigrat in Ethiopia, Abune Tesfaselassie Medhin acknowledged with appreciation the various contributions the Missionaries of Africa have made in the life of the Eparchy for the past 50 years, emphasizing their dedicated role in the formation of seminarians to the priesthood.

    The pioneers of the Missionaries of Africa (also known as “The White Fathers”) in Ethiopia arrived in Adigrat in 1967 in response to Abune Hailemariam Kahsay’s invitation to assist in the formation of the local clergy. Since then, they have been teaching at the Major Seminary of Adigrat in both philosophy and theology departments.

    Later, the White Fathers extended their apostolate to other areas, including interreligious dialogue and ecumenism, Education at St Mary’s College in Wukro, Justice and Peace and Integrity of creation, street children and orphans, youth ministry, girls/women promotion, vocation promotion and university chaplaincy.

    Bishop Medhin praised the courage and resilience of the first missionaries to his local Church especially when the conditions were tough in the country.

    He also lauded other apostolic activities initiated by the Missionaries of Africa in St Mary’s Wukro, Bruh Tesfa Youth Development Centerin Adigrat, Kidist Mariam, St Paul’s Formation House and Kombolcha.

    The Bishop went on to remind the Missionaries of Africa that for the future it will be important to stick to their charism and identity so as to make a unique impact in the Eparchy especially by adapting their charism and apostolic engagements to the current realities and challenges of today’s society.

    In a special way, the bishop insisted on the formation of young people and families. These two areas seem to be very important for our evangelization today in Ethiopia and in Africa as a whole.

    On their part, the Missionaries of Africa expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve in Ethiopia.

    In his message, Father Bonaventure Bwanakweri who is the Superior of the Missionaries of Africa in Ethiopia, Jerusalem and Lebanon said, “The celebration of the 50 years is a time to look at our past with gratitude and thank God for the many blessings showered upon us and the Eparchy of Adigrat.”

    “It is also time to live the present with great passion in our various apostolates and also to plan for the future with more determination, enthusiasm and hope,” Father Bwanakweri added.

    He thanked the Eparchy for its support, care and collaboration as well as the clergy and religious ministering in Adigrat for their proximity and pastoral generosity.

    He also extended a word of gratitude to laity of the Eparchy and thanked the Ethiopian Orthodox church and the Muslims with whom the White Fathers always work for peaceful co-existence.

    “As we celebrate 50 years of our presence in Ethiopia, we are happy to announce that we have 6 Ethiopian confreres,” Father Bwanakweri said, mentioning Yosef Giday working in Kombolcha, Belete Fanta working in Adigrat, Gazena Haile working in Ghana, Simeon Kalore working in Malawi, Addise Markos working in Nigeria and Deacon Mekonen Girmay in Nairobi, Kenya. “We also have 8 Ethiopian students in different houses of formation around Africa,” he said, naming Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

    Father Bwanakweri shared with CANAA the names of the Missionaries of Africa who have served in Ethiopia. They include: Max Gmur, Gildas Nicolas, Kevin O'mahoney, José Bandres, Gerry Stones, Dietmat Lenfers, Friedrich Stenger, Angel Olaran, Stolarski Krzystof, Ian Buckmaster, Eddie Ndahinda, Gaetano Cazzola, Jean Pierre Roth, Gerry Murphy, Aloysius Beebwa, Everisto Mwelwa, Sabu Puthenpurackal, Bonaventure Mashata, Cor de Visser, John Amona, Belete Fanta, Gazena Haile, Stephane Zoungrana, Bonaventure Bwanakweli, Yosef Giday, Paul Reilly, Apollinaire Chishugi and Clayb Caputolan.

  • Bishops in Nigeria Hail Safe Release of Nuns from Captivity, Decry ‘menace of fake news’

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 18 January 2018

    release of kidnapped nigeria nuns hailed 2018The Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province in Nigeria have hailed “the release, after 55 days in captivity, of three Aspirants and three Reverend Sisters of the Eucharistic Hearts of Jesus (EHJ) who were kidnapped in November 2017 from their convent in Benin, Edo State.”

    The Bishops’ message is contained in their communique at the end of their first annual meeting sent to CANAA on Wednesday, January 17.

    “We thank all those who prayed and worked for a happy outcome to this unfortunate kidnapping and ask the Congregation of the EHJ Sisters to remain steadfast and focused in their holy vocation of love and service to God and humanity,” the Bishops stated, calling on security agencies in Nigeria “to do more to curtail the ugly incidences of kidnaping which has become a national embarrassment to Nigeria.”

    In the same statement, the Bishops have decried the challenge of fake news in Nigeria describing it as “menace.”

    “Fake news adversely affects practically all facets of modern society, government and Church inclusive,” the Bishops have lamented.

    “Given that such news has already brought down families, associations, governments, even other institutions all over the world, and even destroyed many innocent lives, every citizen has the responsibility to double-check the authenticity of information before believing or disseminating it.” the Bishops have cautioned.

    The Ecclesiastical Province of Ibadan comprises Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses.

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ communique at the end of their first meeting for the year 2018.

    WHITHER NIGERIA!

    A COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE FIRST MEETING OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF IBADAN PROVINCE FOR 2018 HELD AT THE JUBILEE CENTRE, OKE-ADO, IBADAN. Oyo State.

    PREAMBLE  

    We, the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, comprising Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Ekiti, Oyo and Osogbo Dioceses, after our first meeting for the year 2018, hereby issue the following Communique:

    1. The Release of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Sisters

    We give thanks to God Almighty for his goodness to our Church and our people in uncountable ways since we last met. We are particularly grateful for the safe release, after 55 days in captivity, of three Aspirants and three Reverend Sisters of the Eucharistic Hearts of Jesus (EHJ) who were kidnapped in November 2017 from their convent in Benin, Edo State. We thank all those who prayed and worked for a happy outcome to this unfortunate kidnapping and ask the Congregation of the EHJ Sisters to remain steadfast and focused in their holy vocation of love and service to God and humanity. We pray for the quick and safe release of all who are in captivity in Nigeria and for the conversion of the perpetrators. We once again call on the Nigerian government and security agencies to do more to curtail the ugly incidences of kidnaping which has become a national embarrassment to Nigeria as a country and prosecute those who commit such crimes.

    2. Pastoral and Liturgical Matters

    We reiterate the necessity for Priests, Religious, agents of pastoral work and the faithful, especially in our Province, to preserve and promote the integrity of the Liturgy and Divine Worship. Occurrences of undue or exaggerated creativity during the Holy Mass tend to undermine the solemnity and decorum of divine worship and this should be a concern to all. To give free rein to sentiments and acts of exuberant “worshiptainment”, merely to please worshippers and court public opinion, simply has no place in the Catholic Liturgy. Authentic liturgical worship is directed to the Triune God and great care should be taken by Priests and other Church leaders to study the guidelines for worship and liturgical rites as laid down by competent Church authorities, even while paying due attention to Inculturation. Priests especially, are servants at the altar of worship, not masters who may choose to do as they like without consideration for laid down rules. We all should remember that when the Liturgy is authentically celebrated, it becomes a potent instrument of evangelization and sanctification.

    3. Piracy and Interpolation of Religious Texts

    We call the attention of our Clergy, Religious and Laity to the growing phenomenon of piracy and interpolation of religious texts and contents. Our hymn books, prayer books and even the Bible are all being pirated and, even more seriously, the texts and contents interfered with. Verses of Church hymns have been illegally rewritten and in a batch of the Good News Bible currently in circulation, the Gospel of Luke is printed as “Luck”, apart from other errors. When contacted, some of the distributors pleaded that so many copies have been pushed out and therefore “the dissemination of errors must continue”. While Church authorities seek to put directives and strategies in place to address this malaise, we call for vigilance on the part of all Catholics to reject pirated and interpolated texts being offered for sale for Church and spiritual use.

    4. Pro-Life, Pro-Family Catechesis

    We are happy to invite our Priests, Religious, the Faithful and the general public to the public presentation of long-awaited publications on Human Life, Marriage and Family. The event will hold at the Pope John Paul II Centre, the Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of Ibadan, on Thursday, 15, 2018. The publications are the outcome of the historic Pro Life, Pro-Family Conference, held at the same venue, 3 years ago. The publications aim to empower Christians and all men and women of goodwill with information and resources, with which to cope with questions and challenges concerning human life, marriage and the family, that may be encountered in the course of daily living. These books will surely raise the moral standard of those who endeavour to utilize this question-and-answer resource in their quest for truth and authentic Christian living. We urge everyone, especially the Catholic sodalities and groups in Ibadan and Lagos Provinces, to be part of this public presentation. Even more importantly, we urge everyone to avail themselves of the opportunity to learn and live by the commandments of God, the Creator of all, and the voice of the Catholic Church as articulated in these publications.   

    5. Signs of Persecution of Christians/Issues of Religious Freedom

    We sympathize with the Bishop of Ilorin Diocese, Most Reverend Ayomaria Atoyebi, with the Priests, Religious and Laity of the Catholic Diocese of Ilorin on the mindless attack and vandalization of the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph’s in Ilorin, and with the Methodist Church and Christ Apostolic Church which suffered the same fate, in the same vicinity in Ilorin in the early hours of New year day by armed youths chanting anti-Christian slogans. We firmly denounce this attack which was also directed at innocent homebound worshippers and citizens after the New Year vigil worship. This and such acts all over the country only add to the bad image which Nigeria already bears in the eyes of the world, as one of the least safe countries for Christians to live in. We cannot insist enough that the government of Kwara State fulfil the now-clichéd promise to bring the perpetrators of this act to justice, support the restoration of damaged structures and work hard with sincerity to prevent future occurrences, so as to restore the confidence of our people. On a general level, time has come to firmly and sincerely protect religious freedom as the fundamental right of every citizen in Nigeria and make it impossible for anyone to take it away from another by acts of violence and destruction.

    6. The Crisis in Benue State

    The continuous conflicts provoked by so-called Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria attained a tragic climax with the brutal slaughter of over 70 people recently buried in Benue State, with little coordinated effort from the Federal Government to prevent or assuage the tragedy. The unfortunate, by-now-familiar “siddon-look” attitude of the Federal government to such tragedies involving cow-herders in parts of the country has made many Nigerians to question whether animal rights could indeed be placed above human lives. Most people wonder who owns these “sacred cows” anyway, because of which farmlands and human life could be so wantonly destroyed. As we offer our deepest condolences to our bereaved compatriots in Benue State, we fervently pray for the repose of the souls of the dead and divine comfort for those left behind to mourn them. All hands must be on deck to put a stop to the bloody charade witnessed so frequently from encounters with Fulani herdsmen. Lack of preemptive action and delay in reacting to crises all over the country, on the part of government and the security agencies, must be rectified so that innocent lives may henceforth be protected. We also call on the government at all levels to support the legitimate yearnings of peoples all over Nigeria to live and thrive in peace within their rights as citizens of Nigeria. Surely, cattle-rearing is practiced in other countries in Africa and the world. We therefore urge that our governments consider improved ways of catering for cattle with minimum stress to other legitimate professions, as is done elsewhere in the world and apprehend and prosecute all those who have brought so much pain upon so many people in Nigeria.

    7. The Menace of Fake News

    Like elsewhere in the world, “fake news” has become a real concern in Nigeria. Due to the democratization of information and the instruments of media, all have almost unlimited access to the means and methods of dissemination. This has turned everyone, to informers of almost equal status, regardless of their intention and objective. As a result, fake news adversely affects practically all facets of modern society, government and Church inclusive. Given that such news has already brought down families, associations, governments, even other institutions all over the world, and even destroyed many innocent lives, every citizen has the responsibility to double-check the authenticity of information before believing or disseminating it. The matter becomes more worrying however when credible institutions of society deploy fake news to achieve ends considered profitable to them. We caution our politicians, institutions, associations and people to be vigilant and minimize the adverse effects of fake news around us. The end never justifies the means and anything built on falsehood eventually collapses. Only the truth can set us free. We also urge all institutions of the Nigerian society to promptly and effectively disseminate necessary information that can build up, not destroy society. Ineffectual clichés like being “on top of the situation”, being on the trail of hoodlums or attributing serious tragedies to “communal clashes, simply will not do, because whenever meaningful information is lacking, fake news manufacturers seize the initiative to cause havoc. Not for nothing that Pope Francis’ message for the next World Communications Day on May 13, 2018, appropriates the words of Jesus Christ: “The truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace”.

    8. Conclusion: Whither Nigeria!

    Nigeria is still going through very hard times. We may be able to point out areas of improvement in power supply, agriculture and other matters in some parts of Nigeria. Unfortunately, our woes today seem to weigh far more than these blessings. We challenge the government and competent authorities in Nigeria to be more responsive to their responsibilities. If we do not find a credible solution to problems of unemployment, human trafficking, terrorism, kidnapping, nepotism, religious bigotry and corruption, Nigeria might face a most uncertain future. We call on our people to continue to work and pray to bring about God’s kingdom of justice peace and love. God’s plans for our country like for all his children are good and enduring. Ours is the duty to take advantage of his promise and steadfastness. “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. When you call to me and come and pray to me, I shall listen to you” (Jeremiah 29: 11-12).  

    Signed:

     

    Most Rev. Gabriel Abegunrin                                     Most Rev. John Oyejola

    President                                                                             Secretary

  • Kenya-based Regional Catholic University Renews Partnership for Education of African Nuns

    CANAA || By Sr. Antoinette Jecinter Okoth (FSSA), Nairobi || 18 January 2018

    asec cuea renew partnership 2018African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC), a US-based organization aimed at providing access to education for religious women in Africa has renewed its partnership with the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) to continue supporting the education of Catholic nuns in Africa.

    The renewal took place last Tuesday, January 16 at CUEA where a framework of reference was signed with nuns from various institutions of higher learning in Nairobi benefiting from ASEC scholarship in attendance.

    At the event, ASEC representatives made known their organization’s commitment to continue supporting the African sisters pursue higher education.

    “Open your mind and heart towards education and value what you do, for this will empower you to be better servants in the communities,” ASEC assistant director of evaluation, Jennifer Mudge urged the beneficiaries of their scholarship present at the event.

    ASEC is currently supporting religious sisters from ten African countries.

    The contract, which will run for the next four years was signed by Dr. Ann Rita, the academic linkages at CUEA and the Assistant Director of Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) Rosemary Shaver in the presence of the CUEA staffs, the ASEC representatives and the students from other partner universities.

    The HESA partnership with CUEA commenced in 2012.

    Other institutions of higher learning that are in partnership with ASEC include Chemchemi ya Uzima Formation Centre and Tangaza University College.

    ASEC representatives paid a visit to some of the alumni beneficiaries to see for themselves how the nuns are putting to use their studies achieved through their scholarship.

    ASEC director for East and Central Africa, Sr. Lina Wanjiku acknowledged the value of the program citing a nun they had interacted with Tuesday morning.

    “This morning, we visited one of the alumni Sr. Consolata Aloo of the Franciscan Sisters of Sr. Anna, who expressed that the knowledge she gained has empowered her especially in resource mobilization through grant writing” Sr. Wanjiku said.

    On his part, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) academic affairs and research at CUEA, Prof. Kaku, expressed their gratitude for partnering with ASEC.

    “We value the hard work of HESA students here at CUEA and we appreciate those who came up with this noble initiative for the sisters in Africa,” Prof. Kaku said adding, “We have expanded our courses in languages and if ASEC can give opportunity to the HESA students from different African countries to pursue these courses.”

    Over 5,300 sisters have benefitted from the ASEC programs.

  • A Roundtable Discussion for Peace in South Sudan and DR Congo

    CANAA || By Fr. Paul Samasumo, Vatican Radio || 18 January 2018

    roundtable discussion for peace in ss drcThe ongoing violence in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) are two armed conflicts that are a source of constant worry for Pope Francis. Last year, 2017, Pope Francis was forced to postpone his announced visit to South Sudan because of the violence. Nevertheless, the Holy Father continues to keep South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in his prayers and in mind. In November last year, Pope Francis promoted a special prayer for peace in the two countries. The vigil prayer was held in the Basilica of St. Peter.

    The Joint Commission of the Union Superiors General (USG) and the International Union Superiors General (UISG) “Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation” and “Solidarity with South Sudan” are this week holding a roundtable discussion that will bring together men and women religious for a panel discussion. The idea is for roundtable dialogue hosted by the Holy See’ Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

    The roundtable dialogue takes place, this week, at the Pontifical University Urbaniana.

    Although conflicts in the two countries are not making headlines in mainstream media, the Church wants the suffering citizens of these countries to know that they are not forgotten.

    Among notable speakers will be Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio and President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis and Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani. He i salso the President of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO).

    According to a communique released to Vatican Radio, participants at the Roundtable discussion will experience a sensitive and faith-filled panel discussion around the importance of being committed to personal peace, attentively living in harmony and consciously maintaining peace.

    Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will open and close the event.

  • Building the Family of God: What Do Young People Look for in Church?

    The Tablet || By James Roberts || 07 January 2018

    what africans and american youth look for in churchJust-completed surveys of young Africans and Americans have highlighted the challenges facing the Youth Synod taking place later this year

    Just-completed surveys of young Africans and young Americans have highlighted the challenges facing the Church’s Youth Synod taking place in October this year, and the contrasting views and experiences that young people will bring to the synod, entitled “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”.

    In their research the regional bishops’ conferences of nine countries in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) took on board the urging of Pope Francis to be a “Listening Church” first and a “Teaching Church” second. Sessions were set up with groups of 10 to 15 young people, mainly high school and college students. The survey was initiated by Small Christian Communities (SCCs), led by Joseph Healey, an American Maryknoll missionary priest based in Nairobi who is a driving force behind the SCCs in eastern Africa. SCC teams operated under the overall coordination of the pastoral department of AMECEA in carrying out the survey.

    The Adult SCCs had already responded to an accusation from the young that their meetings were “too dull”, with “too much talk” by setting up communities specifically for young people, Youth Small Christian Communities (YSCCs). These were established in Dar es Salaam, Lilongwe, Lusaka and Nairobi. Most of the East African survey was carried out through consultation with the YSCCs. The sessions explored issues to do with young people’s personal lives; what they felt about the Catholic Church; and their attitudes to society in general.

    Fr Healey reported finding dedicated young people on “both ends of the spectrum”: “On the right young people are deeply spiritual (devoted to the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, practices of piety). An increasing number of student groups are evangelical Catholics. On the left young people are deeply involved in social justice, advocacy and service projects.”

    The survey found favourite discussion topics in the YSCC meetings, that took place from 2013 to 2017, included: relationships with the opposite sex; sexuality; dating; fashion; popular music; video games; social networks; information technology; sport; and the use of leisure time.

    Among spiritual concerns they listed: searching for one’s human and Christian identity; self-discovery in a faith-sharing context; and vocational discernment (covering both religious vocations and vocations in the secular world). Career planning, job hunting and employment challenges were preoccupations, but justice and peace issues, good causes, and community service were also important.

    Bible study was a major demand, partly to enable young Catholics to answer challenges from their Protestant friends, especially Pentecostals. Recent research indicates this is the main reason that African Catholic youth want to learn more about the Bible. The teachings of the Catholic Church were also highlighted in this context.

    Long range goals included how to achieve financial success as well as how to develop fundraising skills. Communications problems between young people and their parents were often referred to, while political discussions were frequent and questions of African ethnic and cultural identity were equally of interest.

    A similar survey was conducted with college students in the United States from 2014 to 2017. Fr Healey and his team spoke to students from Boston College, DePaul, Duquesne, Georgetown, Loyola New Orleans, Morgan State, Notre Dame, Princeton, Santa Clara, Stanford, Williams and Yale. The most recent “Listening Sessions” were at Georgetown in September 2017 and at Loyola in November 2017.

    In general students were very positive regarding Pope Francis’ efforts to reach out to young people but for many the “Institutional Church” was not welcoming or nourishing. Many asked whether the “official” Church (the Vatican and the bishops) really wanted to listen to the concerns of young people, especially in the areas of sexuality and personal relationships.

    The strength and influence of Catholic Social Teaching was undermined for many young people in the US by the Church’s perceived intransigence on women’s and LGBTQ issues. They felt the Church had a long way to go with regard to the empowerment of women.

    There was however an evident zeal for liturgy through youth choirs and praise music. Many college students were simply not concerned about social justice issues in the Catholic Church.

    Small faith communities were seen as a safe space to share faith and reflect on “real” issues that included questions about the body including the "Theology of the Body" and what beauty means. The Church could also do more, young people felt, in facing up to issues of immigration, poverty and racism. The stresses of college life including pressure of exams were often mentioned, but also financial pressures including repayment of student loans and finding a job after college.

    There was a disconnect between campus ministry and what students encountered off campus. A number found a congenial community at college, but after graduation found nothing similar in their home parishes. The research found a significant number of college graduates and young adults hungered for some kind of faith-sharing experience connected to their daily life, often built around Bible sharing. Researchers felt that small faith-sharing communities for college graduates that were either parish-based or organised through some other network could help address this problem. 

    Source: The Tablet… 

  • Building the Family of God: What Do Young People Look for in Church?

    The Tablet || By James Roberts || 07 January 2018

    what africans and american youth look for in churchJust-completed surveys of young Africans and Americans have highlighted the challenges facing the Youth Synod taking place later this year

    Just-completed surveys of young Africans and young Americans have highlighted the challenges facing the Church’s Youth Synod taking place in October this year, and the contrasting views and experiences that young people will bring to the synod, entitled “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”.

    In their research the regional bishops’ conferences of nine countries in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) took on board the urging of Pope Francis to be a “Listening Church” first and a “Teaching Church” second. Sessions were set up with groups of 10 to 15 young people, mainly high school and college students. The survey was initiated by Small Christian Communities (SCCs), led by Joseph Healey, an American Maryknoll missionary priest based in Nairobi who is a driving force behind the SCCs in eastern Africa. SCC teams operated under the overall coordination of the pastoral department of AMECEA in carrying out the survey.

    The Adult SCCs had already responded to an accusation from the young that their meetings were “too dull”, with “too much talk” by setting up communities specifically for young people, Youth Small Christian Communities (YSCCs). These were established in Dar es Salaam, Lilongwe, Lusaka and Nairobi. Most of the East African survey was carried out through consultation with the YSCCs. The sessions explored issues to do with young people’s personal lives; what they felt about the Catholic Church; and their attitudes to society in general.

    Fr Healey reported finding dedicated young people on “both ends of the spectrum”: “On the right young people are deeply spiritual (devoted to the rosary, Eucharistic Adoration, practices of piety). An increasing number of student groups are evangelical Catholics. On the left young people are deeply involved in social justice, advocacy and service projects.”

    The survey found favourite discussion topics in the YSCC meetings, that took place from 2013 to 2017, included: relationships with the opposite sex; sexuality; dating; fashion; popular music; video games; social networks; information technology; sport; and the use of leisure time.

    Among spiritual concerns they listed: searching for one’s human and Christian identity; self-discovery in a faith-sharing context; and vocational discernment (covering both religious vocations and vocations in the secular world). Career planning, job hunting and employment challenges were preoccupations, but justice and peace issues, good causes, and community service were also important.

    Bible study was a major demand, partly to enable young Catholics to answer challenges from their Protestant friends, especially Pentecostals. Recent research indicates this is the main reason that African Catholic youth want to learn more about the Bible. The teachings of the Catholic Church were also highlighted in this context.

    Long range goals included how to achieve financial success as well as how to develop fundraising skills. Communications problems between young people and their parents were often referred to, while political discussions were frequent and questions of African ethnic and cultural identity were equally of interest.

    A similar survey was conducted with college students in the United States from 2014 to 2017. Fr Healey and his team spoke to students from Boston College, DePaul, Duquesne, Georgetown, Loyola New Orleans, Morgan State, Notre Dame, Princeton, Santa Clara, Stanford, Williams and Yale. The most recent “Listening Sessions” were at Georgetown in September 2017 and at Loyola in November 2017.

    In general students were very positive regarding Pope Francis’ efforts to reach out to young people but for many the “Institutional Church” was not welcoming or nourishing. Many asked whether the “official” Church (the Vatican and the bishops) really wanted to listen to the concerns of young people, especially in the areas of sexuality and personal relationships.

    The strength and influence of Catholic Social Teaching was undermined for many young people in the US by the Church’s perceived intransigence on women’s and LGBTQ issues. They felt the Church had a long way to go with regard to the empowerment of women.

    There was however an evident zeal for liturgy through youth choirs and praise music. Many college students were simply not concerned about social justice issues in the Catholic Church.

    Small faith communities were seen as a safe space to share faith and reflect on “real” issues that included questions about the body including the "Theology of the Body" and what beauty means. The Church could also do more, young people felt, in facing up to issues of immigration, poverty and racism. The stresses of college life including pressure of exams were often mentioned, but also financial pressures including repayment of student loans and finding a job after college.

    There was a disconnect between campus ministry and what students encountered off campus. A number found a congenial community at college, but after graduation found nothing similar in their home parishes. The research found a significant number of college graduates and young adults hungered for some kind of faith-sharing experience connected to their daily life, often built around Bible sharing. Researchers felt that small faith-sharing communities for college graduates that were either parish-based or organised through some other network could help address this problem. 

    Source: The Tablet… 

  • Church Leaders Say Soccer Star Has Work to Do as New President of Liberia

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 11 January 2018

    president george weah has work to do in liberiaSoccer legend George Weah will be sworn in as president of Liberia on January 22, 2018.

    Replacing Africa’s first female president – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took office in 2006 – Weah’s surprise win is due to his “perseverance,” according to the secretary general of the country’s bishops’ conference.

    “His victory can also be seen as a reaction to the status quo,” Father Dennis Cephas Nimene told Crux.

    “After 14 years of civil unrest [the Liberian civil war took place from 1989-2003] and the elections of Madam Sirleaf, Liberians wanted ‘so much’ from the government. Not meeting their perceived aspirations ultimately led to the change of government,” the priest said.

    The 51-year-old former striker – who earned the title African Footballer of the Century after playing for teams in the 1990s such as Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan – defeated incumbent vice president Joseph Boakai, a former World Bank official on December 26, 2017.

    Liberia – located on the west coast of Africa – was settled by freed American slaves in 1822. Declaring independence in 1847, it is the continent’s oldest republic.

    In 1980, a military coup began the country’s decline into ungovernability, which culminated in civil war and the violent rule of warlord Charles Taylor.

    After Taylor was driven from office in 2003, the United Nations helped oversee a transition which led to the 2005 elections won by Sirleaf.

    Weah contested those elections – just two years after retiring from soccer – and lost.

    In 2009, he won a senatorial seat, before a failed campaign for vice president in 2011.

    After his December win, Weah called on Liberians living abroad to return to the country, announced corruption will no longer have a place in Liberia, and told foreign investors that “Liberia is open and ready for business.”

    Nimene told Crux Weah’s victory is a sign the country is yearning for change after years of conflict, and an Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people and worsened economic conditions.

    Franciscan Sister Barbara Brillant, an American living in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, said young people especially wanted change, and that is why the voted for Weah.

    “But the hope for a short-term improvement is scarce because the national economy is in pieces,” she told Fides, a Catholic news agency.

    Briilant is right to be concerned: Unemployment is estimated to be as high as 85 percent, and the Liberian dollar has been falling against the U.S. dollar, and now trades on the streets at 130:1.

    The country is also suffering a liquidity crisis, and the scarcity of cash means that commercial banks are reluctant to cash government checks or provide credit lines to government contractors.

    Shortly after signing the 2017-2018 budget into law, Sirleaf discovered the government didn’t have the money. She later decided to freeze all payments of bonuses, severance allowances, and incentives to executives at state-owned enterprises, commissions, and other autonomous agencies of the government of Liberia.

    Despite leaving Weah an economic mess to sort out, Sirleaf did give her successor one important piece of progress: Political stability.

    Nimene said Weah can build on this to improve the country.

    “I believe he should continue rebuilding the broken-down infrastructure, especially road connectivity, restoration of electricity, and pipe-borne water,” the priest said.

    But Nimene added that for the new president to make any headway, he must “take the fight against corruption seriously.”

    Under Sirleaf, corruption festered, despite efforts to end it.

    In addition to his promise to end graft, Weah has pledged to promote “pro-poor” policies, in order to lift millions of Liberians out of poverty.

    It is estimated that 85 percent of the country’s population of 4.5 million people live below the poverty line.

    “Those chosen to serve will and must be dedicated to the ideas of grassroots, social transformation. Persons looking to cheat the Liberian people through the menace of corruption will have no place in my administration,” Weah said in his acceptance speech.

    But Nimene said for the new president to succeed, he will need the support and cooperation of the Liberian people.

    “Liberians should give their best collaboration to the new president within the confines of the rule of law and the respect of the dignity of each and every Liberian and those living within our borders,” the priest told Crux.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Six Kidnapped Nuns Liberated in Nigeria

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 11 January 2018

    six kidnapped nuns released in nigeria 2018During a two-day police operation, six women religious who were captured in Nigeria's Edo state two months ago were released unharmed on Saturday, generating much joy from the Christian community.

    The women were freed during a Jan. 6 police operation, but their captors were able to escape.

    They had been kidnapped Nov. 13, 2017 from the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent in Iguoriakhi. Taken by unknown gunmen, three of the women were professed nuns (Sister Roseline Isiocha, Sister Aloysius Ajayi and Sister Frances Udi), and the other three were aspirants. Sister Ajayi was released first, followed several hours later by the others.

    “We are happy; to God be the glory,” said the convent's mother superior, Mother Agatha Osarekho.

    “They are fine and are receiving some medical checkup in a hospital,” she added, according to the Scottish Catholic Observer.
     
    Sister Agatha received a ransom request of $55,000 for the women's return, but she did not pay it.

    Although the criminals were not captured, Sister Agatha applauded the efforts of authorities.

    Fr. Kevin Oselumhense Anetor, a priest of the Diocese of Uromi, whence the women were kidnapped, posted on Facebook thanking “all the men and women of goodwill who worked and prayed tirelessly behind the scenes for the release of our sisters. We thank the mother superior of the EHJ for her patience and strong will, and her sisters for their solidarity during these days of trial.”

    “We thank the Catholic Archdioceses of Benin and Lagos for their support and prayers, and indeed the Catholic and non-Catholic World, for their vigilance and prayers,” he added.

    Archbishop Alfred Martins of Lagos had, earlier that week, urged government authorities to intensify their investigation into the abduction, saying, “We still do hope that the security agencies would do much more than is being done now to ensure that the sisters are released.”

    Nigeria's bishops had decried the nuns’ kidnapping in December, calling it a product of the “agents of darkness.”

    Pope Francis also brought attention to the plight of the religious women, praying for them at his Dec. 17 Angelus address.

    An Italian missionary priest, Fr. Maurizio Pallù, was kidnapped in Edo state for a week in October 2017. In Imo state, Fr. Cyriacus Onunkwo was kidnapped and killed in September of the same year.

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Missionaries’ Role Acknowledged at Golden Jubilee Event of a Kenyan Catholic Diocese

    CANAA || By Sr. Michelle Njeri, Nakuru, Kenya || 15 January 2018

    missionaries acknowledged at nakuru golden jubileeThe role of missionaries in spreading Christian faith within the Catholic diocese of Nakuru in Kenya was acknowledged during the event of the diocese’s golden jubilee celebration last Saturday, January 13.

    Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Nakuru Diocese as well as his Vicar General, Father Lawrence Mbogo expressed appreciation for St. Patrick’s Missionary Society and the Mill Hill Missionaries, two religious orders that pioneered the evangelization of the diocese that is now 50 years old.

    Nakuru diocese was erected on January 11, 1968 and had the late Monsignor Denis Newman of St Patrick’s Missionary Society as the first Apostolic Administrator.

    Bishop Muhatia thanked the missionaries for their effort in evangelization in his homily during the Saturday celebration, whose theme was Christ the good shepherd source of our peace and unity.

    On his part, Father Mbogo congratulated and thanked St Patrick’s missionary priests who were also celebrating 50 years of priesthood for doing a lot during the early years of evangelization in the diocese. The priests include Fr Michael McCarthy, Fr Derry Buckley and Fr Martin Barry.

    Lay Jubilarians in marriage, age, baptism and confirmation were also acknowledged during the well-attended celebration that had taken a full-year of final preparations since being launched on January 14, 2017 at the Cathedral church of Christ the King in Nakuru, some 140 km from Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi.

    Families, small Christian communities, parishes, deaneries and various groups within the diocese were involved in the year-long preparations that saw the Golden Jubilee Cross going around all the parishes of the diocese as a sign of faith, redemption, and the missionary work of evangelization.

    In particular, the Golden Jubilee celebration was also marked with the establishment of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish -Kinungi as parish number 50 of the diocese that covers the two Counties of Nakuru and Baringo.

    Bishop Muhatia, who will be turning 50 in May this year, took time to thank the laity for having a sense of ownership of their diocese shown in their tireless support in various ways.

    He also encouraged the faithful to hold firm to good family values and also give birth to enough children who will be parents, priests, religious brothers and sisters.

    The Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishop (KCCB), who spoke on behalf the Catholic Bishops in Kenya congratulated the clergy, religious, and laity of Nakuru diocese for marking 50 years of the existence of the diocese.

    “We the Catholic Bishops of Kenya wish to congratulate the entire diocese and the Bishop for their achievement in faith and development,” Bishop Anyolo said and added, “We thank the Bishop, clergy, religious brothers and sisters for the journey of faith they have accomplished.”

    Bishop Anyolo also congratulated their host, Bishop Muhatia, who will be turning 50 in May.

    Addressing the political mood in the country, Bishop Anyolo said that the Catholic Church is still committed to dialogue as the best way of resolving issues affecting the country.

    The occasion, which was presided over the John Cardinal Njue of Nairobi Archdiocese, was attended by dozens of clergy, hundreds of religious men and women, and thousands of lay faithful both from Nakuru diocese and beyond.

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