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  • Spiritans in Nigeria Use Movie to Teach Values to Students at Workshop

    CANAA || By Father Kuha Indyer, CSSp. || 21 June 2018

    Spiritans in Integral Development Foundation, SIIDF, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), organized a workshop on June 15, 2018 for students around Sankera on the title: Becoming a Better Me.

    The workshop was based on a film titled ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ which tells the story of a black American girl who overcame many obstacles and won a national spelling bee.

    The initiator of the workshop, Corper Sandra Nwaobasi, who is a youth corps member serving at Holy Ghost College, Sankera, gave the first presentation which was primarily the presentation of the film, followed by group discussions by the students and other participants.

    After the group discussion, participants gathered in a plenary and shared lessons they had learnt from the movie, which included goal setting in one’s life, determination, love, gender equality, humility, mentorship and success, succeeding with others, overcoming obstacles in achieving one’s goals, the value of positive friendship, succeeding with others, the positive influence of forgiveness, and the power to succeeds in life lies in the individual concerned, among other lessons.

    The second presenter was Corper Oladayo Davis, who made an exposé on the theme of the workshop: Becoming a Better Me.

    One of the participants asked a thought-provoking question: How can those of us from sub-standard schools actualize our potentials educationally? Answers were provided with personal stories.

    Four schools participated at the workshop which was held at Holy Ghost College, Sankera.

    The participating schools included Holy Ghost College, Sankera, Spiritan Nursery and Primary School, Sankera, Igyuse International School, Tine-Nune, and Ngenev Community Secondary School, Sankera.

    At the end of the workshop, the schools appreciated the initiatives taken by SIIDF and the Youth Corpers and appealed that such workshops should be held often to encourage them in their academic pursuit.

  • Parishioners in Kenya Disappointed after Priest Suspended -- for Rapping

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Doreen Ajiambo || 21 June 2018

    Many parishioners at St. Monica Church in western Kenya are unhappy after their favorite priest was suspended for misconduct by the Diocese of Homa Bay.

    Father Paul Ogalo was suspended for using secular music, drama and dance to attract youths to the church. The 45-year-old priest had been entertaining his parishioners with rap music, urging them to stop using drugs and to get involved in environmental and social justice issues.

    Locals came to love his unique style of preaching the Gospel.

    "I'm very disappointed that he is suspended. I will now not go to church," said Benard Oketch, 28.

    "Father Paul has been our mentor. He uses the language youths understand," Oketch said. Through rap, the priest "has saved thousands of youths" from abusing drugs, he said.

    Called Father Masaa or Paul SWIT, an acronym for Sees World In Turmoil, Father Ogalo had stunned and thrilled his congregation in equal measure. After celebrating Mass, he would change his priestly vestments for black shorts and a white shirt, tie a red bandana around his head, and begin rapping to the congregation.

    "Ah! Ah! Yeah! Youths enjoy your youth while you are still young. But remember that God is going to judge you for whatever you do ... Ah," he would rap as his congregants, including nuns, danced to the tune.

    "I use the rap music to bring ... youths to the church," Father Ogalo said. "Thereafter, I bring them to Christ."

    Church youth leader Violet Menya said the priest attracted hundreds of young people to church, where they would stay. He also initiated tree planting and other community projects, she said.

    "We are happy that his style of preaching is attracting many youths to church. He has mentored very many youths to leave ... drug abuse and embrace farming, business and other activities," Menya said.

    But the bishops have dismissed Father Ogalo's style of preaching. Father Charles Kochiel, judicial vicar of the interdiocesan tribunal of Kisumu, confirmed Father Ogalo's suspension to Catholic News Service in mid-June and said it would have been wise for the priest to have consulted the bishops "to find out if what he was doing was in accordance with church doctrine."

    "We have suspended him for a year to give him time to reconsider his ways," Father Kochiel said, noting that "every institution has its own code of conduct."

    "There are ways of doing things. There are certain things the church promotes in the society. If we mix ... what the secular and church institutions do, then definitely people are going to read different messages," he said.

    Father Ogalo, who was ordained a priest in 2000, disagreed and said that rap music "is bringing millions of youths to Christ."

    "We need to take care of the interests of youths in our churches. We need to change the way we do things," he said, reflecting what some have said in preparation for the October Synod of Bishops on young people and discernment.

    A priest and a catechist who asked not to be named were among leaders in the diocese who sympathized.

    "What's important is to bring people to Christ, nothing else," the catechist said, adding that, "We should not fight the same body of Christ."

    "We should support any initiative that helps young people come to Christ," said the unnamed priest, noting that Father Ogalo's suspension is "a huge disappointment to the young generation, who are majority in the church."

    But Father Kochiel, who is also the dean of students at St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Nairobi, said that, "When something is wrong, even if the crowd goes for it, it's still wrong."

    "People could be looking at it from the social point of view, like bringing people on board, gathering and entertaining people. But people could also be looking at this from the spiritual point of view: Does it promote spiritual values or is it sending a wrong message?" he said.

    A priest in Father Ogalo's situation "is given time to reconsider his ways. He is mentored by the bishops for some time before he is reinstated. This is a common practice," Father Kochiel said.

    As the battle continues, all is quiet at St. Monica Church, with few activities in the compound.

    "We are not going to ... participate in any church activities until Father Ogalo is reinstated. He did nothing wrong," Oketch said.

  • Cardinal Monsengwo Urges Implementation of DRC’s Agreement

    Vatican News || By Father Paul Samasumo || 19 June 2018

    Months after what looked like a historical breakthrough, with the signing of an Agreement on 31 December 2016, the Democratic Republic of Congo finds itself still in a political stalemate.

    Democratic Republic of Congo’s Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, has made a passionate plea for the full implementation of the 31 December 2016 Agreement if the country is to come out of its current political impasse.

    “Right now we are in a situation of ‘wait and see.’ President Kabila is someone who always wants to resolve matters on his own terms. However, he needs to engage with the 31 December Accord. We need to go ahead with the implementation of that Agreement which asked Kabila not to re-contest and not to amend the Constitution,” Cardinal Monsengwo told Vatican media personnel in Rome over the weekend. The Cardinal was speaking at the Palazzo Pio’s Sala Marconi hall.

    On 31 December 2016, the DRC’s Catholic Bishops under Conférence Episcopale Nationale du Congo (CENCO) facilitated the signing of an agreement between the government and opposition political parties. The settlement guaranteed, among other things, that President Joseph Kabila would not seek an unconstitutional third mandate.

    The agreement has never really been implemented, and there have been demonstrations in the major cities of the DRC mostly led by the Church. Cardinal Monsengwo revealed that the Holy Father would consider visiting the DRC if it were not for the political crisis in his country.

    Pope Francis would like to see a peaceful DRC

    “The Holy Father wants us to pray for the people and with the people. He has said clearly that we need to ensure that people avoid getting used to killing other people simply because they want to get ahead in their political life. The Pope has shown us that he is constantly praying for peace in the DRC,” Cardinal Monsengwo said.

    Last week, DRC’s Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala told international media that President Kabila would not seek a third mandate in the country’s elections now scheduled for December 2018.

    Church in DRC can influence young people positively

    The Cardinal also took the opportunity to address Vatican journalists about the situation of the youth in the DRC.

    “The Church is full of young people, and the Church in Congo would like its young people to grow into citizens who are convinced about their civic responsibilities,” the Cardinal said. According to Cardinal Monsengwo, the Church in the DRC is concerned about the welfare of its young persons. In Kinshasa with 10 million inhabitants, the Church is in a unique position of influencing young people positively.

    “In the capital Kinshasa alone, we have 590 schools that are in the hands of the Catholic Church on behalf of the government. In addition, the Church also has more than 50 private schools belonging either to parishes or religious congregations. What this means is that, if the Church in Kinshasa or generally in the DRC works well with these young people in our schools, we have an opportunity to change them and mould them into better citizens,” he said.

    Source: Vatican News…

  • Hardships Along the Way Mark the Experience of 21st Century Migrants

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 21 June 2018

    At the level of public perception, it’s often assumed that migrants from war-torn and chronically poor parts of the world trying to reach Europe or North America would do anything to get in. What’s often not understood is the incredible hardships they often face along the way.

    Korkiss Diallo, a 23-year-old from Ivory Coast who left in 2011 and is today living in Italy, illustrates the point: “If I knew what was waiting for me on the road,” he said Tuesday, “I would not have come.”

    Once a teenager who dreamed of playing soccer for a living, Diallo is today a refugee in Italy, who’s building a life for himself thanks to the support of a local family and the international papal charity Caritas, which, at a local level, runs a program called “A refugee in my home.”

    “I’ve left my younger sister and my grandmother behind,” he told reporters on Tuesday. He’s currently living in the northern Italian province of Trentino working hard making pizzas- a trade he learned thanks to the family that gave him a home - and hopes he can support himself enough to bring at least his sister to Italy.

    “Grandma is too old,” he said, with sadness in his voice.

    Before he brings his sister, however, Diallo wants to make sure that she doesn’t have to take the road he took to get to Italy, back in 2014, after he spent three years surviving it.

    “If you can’t come by plane, don’t come at all. It’s not worth risking your life,” he said, adding that it’s advice he’s given to all his African friends.

    During his journey from Ivory Coast to Italy, Diallo said, many times he felt like “it was the end of my life. I was afraid. I thought it was the end of the world for me.”

    Even though he’s been able to build a life in Italy, looking back to what he went through during the three years he was on the road, he said, still makes him “very sad.”

    His initial destination was either Morocco or Guinea, but he wasn’t able to reach either place because he was undocumented. His journey took him instead to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

    Eventually, he went with a friend to Libya, with the hope of reaching Europe. When he got there, he said, he was jailed for three months until he escaped. After working in Libya for six months doing menial jobs, he decided to embark on a journey to Europe.

    “They told us it was a six or seven hour journey,” he said. Instead, the boat he was in was adrift for a week, before he was rescued in Italian waters. He sought asylum in Italy, and not long after he made it to Rome, where he was taken in by Caritas. Upon the suggestion of the Catholic NGO, he joined the “A refugee in my home” program.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    There are currently 500 migrants and refugees benefiting from the Caritas project, who’ve been welcomed by families, parishes and religious institutes. It’s a project aimed at helping those arriving to integrate into Italian society, and the process lasts at least 12 months. In the case of Diallo, however, he sees it as having found a new family, and it’s a “life-long one.”

    Tommaso, Diallo’s Italian younger “brother,” told reporters that the family had learned a lot from Korkiss, and “I hope we also taught something to him.”

    Diallo spoke with journalists during a lunch organized by Caritas in Rome as part of a two-year global campaign launched in an attempt to answer Pope Francis’s call to promote the culture of encounter between communities and migrants and refugees.

    Called “Share the journey,” it includes a Global Action Week June 19-24, and Caritas affiliates around the world are organizing lunches and activities similar to the one held in Rome on Tuesday.

    The website of the campaign explains, “Migrants and refugees may have gone through periods of hunger and difficulty or they may have faced solitude and rejection rather than welcome. Through your Caritas organization you can either attend a meal or identify new and long-standing migrants in your community whom you can invite to a meal you organize.”

    Francis, a loud advocate for welcoming and integrating refugees, inaugurated the Share the Journey campaign in 2017. During the launch, the pope reminded everyone that not only are migrants on a journey, but also the communities which they leave and which receive them are part of it.

    On Tuesday, he sent a message to the Caritas lunch, urging Catholics around the globe to participate in similar actions to raise awareness “on the global scale” in support of migrants and refugees.

    “Today, I would like to invite everyone - migrants, refugees, Caritas workers and institutions - to grasp the features of this journey that have marked you the most: what hope does your journey lead to? Try to share this thought and celebrate what we have in common,” the pope said in his message.

    According to a list published by British newspaper The Guardian, 34,361 migrants and refugees are known to have died trying to arrive in Europe from Africa and the Middle East since 1993. Thousands more are believed to have died “anonymously.”

    The global awareness week comes as several countries around the globe, from the United States to Hungary and Italy, are toughening their anti-immigration laws. On Wednesday, considered the International Refugee Day, Hungary passed a bill that makes it illegal to help immigrants.

    Asked about what he would say to those who fear refugees, Diallo said, “Many here think that all Africans are bad people, that they steal, that they do illegal things. But this is unfair.”

    “I thought about coming to Italy to have a better life, because I cannot survive in my country. I came here looking for a job to be able to sustain myself, and to have a better life. Granted, not every African thinks like me, some are bad people, but you have bad people in every country, on every continent.”

    “It’s not true,” he said, “that ‘every African is bad’.”

    Source: Crux…

  • Australian Priests ‘willing to go to jail’ Rather than Break Seal of Confessional

    Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 18 June 2018

    'When the state tries to intervene on our religious freedom, undermine the essence of what it means to be a Catholic, we will resist'

    South Australian priests have said that they would rather go to jail than break the seal of the confessional to report child abuse.  

    South Australia has passed laws extending mandatory reporting to priests notified of pedophilic actions, even if it would require them to break the seal of confession. After a recommendation from the Royal Commission, other states are considering enforcing the law as well. However, many priests are rejecting this idea, stating they will not do anything that violates their beliefs.

    “The state will be requiring us as Catholic priests to commit what we regard as the most serious crime, and I’m not willing to do that,” said Fr Michael Whelan, a priest at St Patrick’s Church Hill in Sydney.

    Fr Whelan said he does not believe the Church is above the law but rather places his faith before all else.

    “When the state tries to intervene on our religious freedom, undermine the essence of what it means to be a Catholic, we will resist,” Fr Whelan said.  

    Fr Whelan expressed concern regarding how they would enforce such a law and how authorities would know if priests are reporting or not. Fr Whelan also proposed an alternative, saying instead of forcing priests to break the seal of confession, if a child abuser confessed, he would try to step in and “stop them immediately.”

    Other states, such as the New South Wales government, are set to respond in the coming month as to whether they will implement similar laws.

    “I expect every jurisdiction in Australia now will follow that recommendation, and I expect the Church throughout will simply not observe it,” Fr Whelan said.

    Source: Catholic Herald…

  • Waste: The African Problem, Togolese Jesuit Interrogates

    Spotlight.Africa || By Jean Amegble, SJ || 15 June 2018

    We are often led to think that questions surrounding the environment, waste and pollution are a problem for wealthy nations and large multinational corporations. In this piece, Togolese Jesuit Jean Amegble interrogates this myth showing that although developed nations may have much for which to account, the problem of waste is a problem created by all people, even the poorest.

    When I was last in Togo, I travelled to the interior from the city’s capital, Lomé. The journey left me shocked and disappointed as I witnessed the careless attitudes and thoughtless actions of my fellow travellers towards the environment. I watched as passengers bought packets of corn and groundnuts to snack on and when they finished threw the empty plastic bags out of the bus.

    What shocked me was the normalcy with which they appeared to litter. There didn’t seem to be any second thought or remorse. Actually, it seemed that they acted quite deliberately, unconcerned of the potential harm that was being caused.

    Perhaps, more serious than the act of littering, is the inability to comprehend or even to willfully disregard the detrimental impact that such insensitive collective behaviours have on nature. My concern is that this wrongful attitude has become normal and we simply find a myriad of excuses to justify our actions, shifting the blame to absolve ourselves of any responsibilities. Some of the reasons we conjure up are that this is the responsibility of governments and that this is only a problem of and for the countries of the global North – because issues of environmental care and preservation are not a pressing concern for Africa.

    But in fact, the neglect of the environment concerns all: rich and poor in the developed and the developing world.

    In recent decades, global awareness of climate change and environmental issues have grown significantly. Melting glaciers and rapidly receding polar ice caps, torrential rains and subsequent destructive floods that result in a significant number of deaths. More recently, a pilot whale suffocated in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags. The occurrence caught the attention of the world’s media generating much sympathy and righteous anger.

    We’ve also had severe droughts in the northern parts of Kenya and in South Africa’s touristy destination, Cape Town. There have been deadly floods in Rwanda, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal. Last month, an entire Kenyan village was wiped from existence. At least 48 people were killed when a dam burst in the Great Rift Valley during unusually heavy seasonal rains. Some say this is Mother Nature’s revenge for the centuries-old harm that we have inflicted on her.

    Despite the growth in awareness of air, water and soil pollution, only three countries in Africa are really taking drastic measures against non-degradable waste, especially tackling the use of plastic bags: Kenya, Rwanda and Morocco. In Kenya, where the production, sale and use of plastic bags is banned, you could be sentenced to four years in prison or a fine of up to 40,000 US dollars if caught.

    However, in my own Togo, and in most of our African countries, countless open-air dumps are filled with a mixture of rubbish, including electronic, household, toxic and bio-hazardous items of waste. I still remember when in my high school years, I spent an entire month with my father and brother cleaning up the front of our house littered with plastic bags and glass bottles.

    In Lomé, our people and especially the poorest among us, still litter right outside their houses. They dispose of their personal waste at night, clandestinely littering their streets which turns them into major dumping grounds.

    The culture of using rubbish bins for waste is a painfully slow habit to instil, so much so that it seems a futile pursuit. But, for as long I can remember, during my childhood, my parents would punish us if we asked for plastic bags when buying groceries. They would tell us to take plates from home to “pack” what we bought. So, why has this carelessness taken such an uncontrollable hold now?

    I often hear that the protection of our environment is a necessity and a challenge affecting developed countries, especially those on the North American and European continents. This is partly right. They are the big polluters. Their industries produce a disproportionate amount of waste.

    According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan African countries produce only 5% of global waste. Whereas, the United States and Europe are producing more than 50% of our waste worldwide. Worse still, they are dumping their waste in African countries which is causing serious health problems and burdening Africans with all sorts of ailments and diseases. Though, it must be said, that Africans cannot be absolved of all responsibility for e-waste and have, themselves, still greatly to blame.

    In Ghana, the biggest electronic waste (e-waste) dumpsite is the well-known Agbogbloshie, roughly a 20-acre scrapyard in the heart of Accra, the republic’s capital city. According to a 2017 report, The Global E-waste Monitor, 44.7-million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2016 alone and only 20% of that was actually recycled responsibly. More frightening is that these statistics account only for documented e-waste which makes up a mere 20% of the global total of e-waste.

    According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), e-waste dumped in Ghana and other parts of West Africa is in part due to the illegal imports of used electronic goods particularly from the wealthy Americas and Europe. Electronic companies often smuggle their unusable electronics into Africa. In 2009, nearly 215-thousand metric tonnes of electronics were smuggled into Ghana alone. It is necessary that the protection of the environment begin through the reinforcement of laws to prevent big and rich companies who are unscrupulously damaging the land and the health of the poor.

    Sadly, today’s laws and policies are still designed to protect the rich more than the poor. Also, we rush and push to sign agreements and spend a lot of money holding and attending conferences, usually in exotic places, that try to address the burning issues around climate change. Nonetheless, the efforts of the international community, though laudable, are only ink on paper, and translate to little at best, nothing at worst. The concrete actions expected from these legislations seem endlessly stuck in the pangs of childbirth, awaiting their birth.

    Returning to Lomé, especially in Agoè, the dumpsite grows rapidly and begins to encroach on people’s homes. The nauseating and health-compromising smells are driving people out of their own homes. Teachers are being forced to abandon their students in their classrooms as they escape gasping for fresh air.

    The problem is bigger still. The open dumps often become the only source of income for the poorest people living nearby. They use the rubbish dump to find food, electronic items and other “recyclables” to sell. Given the precarious situation of the dumpsites, families often send their younger more agile members to clamber through the waste. This obviously raises all sorts of questions around the treatment of children – but they have little choice if they are to make a living.

    Moreover, overall development in Africa could be stifled even further as future generations are compromised through the adverse effects of their unprotected rummaging, exposing them directly to toxic pollutants in the soil, water and as they breathe in the fumes of the burnt-waste. I believe that the protection of our earth is not a problem for future generations to deal with, as some might like to say, but a situation that could bring extinction to our current generation.

    However, the picture is not entirely dark and bleak. Where governments are failing, women’s associations and other small community groups are doing their best to establish a new system of collection and transformation of plastic bags. The plastic bags, which were an instrument of death, are becoming the “black-gold” of vulnerable communities.

    Early in 2010, Frenchman Walter Gauvrit and Togolese David Chateau-Gaitou, created an association called “Addel” in order to turn plastic bags into cobblestones. By mixing the melted plastic with sand, they created a new kind of paving tar suitable for road construction. 20kgs of waste is needed to make 5kgs of tar. In Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, a women’s association GAFREH (Groupe d’Action des Femmes pour la Relance Economique du Houet), have been collecting plastic bags for the past 18 years in order to make clothes, backpacks, computer cases, saucers, necklaces and key-rings. The artefacts or items are sold across the country and give work to hundreds of women.

    However, these associations only cover a small area for the collection of plastic bags. They often lack financial investments and where big investors have got involved they offer low wages for what is a grueling job. These associations are also struggling to survive, especially as many boycott their goods because they find them too expensive.

    I beg a better understanding of our role as guardians of the environment. As guardians, we are called to carefully sort our waste, to think twice before wasting food, to boycott all plastic bags, to support small recycling associations by purchasing their goods and to promote the efforts of such associations in our communities. Through these small actions we can be of great help to humanity, now and for generations to come, and especially to the poorest in our midst. 

    Source: Spotlight.Africa…

  • Catholic Input ‘ignored’ in Uganda’s New Sex Education Program, Bishops Say

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 17 June 2018

    A new sex-education program created by the government of Uganda will be rejected by Christian schools unless considerable revisions are made, the Catholic bishops of the country have said.

    While a team of Catholic experts was consulted while the program was being created, their suggestions were “substantially ignored” in the final document, the bishops noted.

    Among the shortcomings of the new program are that it ignores “the vital role of the family, especially in the early ages” and that it exposes children ages 3-5 years to “content and life skills which are not appropriate for their age.”

    Furthermore, the bishops said, the information and life skills provided for upper level students are “open to interpretation and practices which may contrary to moral Christian values.” They also added that the program provides “no provisions or guaranties that school teachers are prepared and able to teach in a balanced and proper way such delicate and emotionally charged topics.”

    “As it stands now, the National Sexual Education Framework, though containing some valid ideas and guidelines, fails to answer some crucial questions and address in an adequate manner some important issues,” the Uganda Episcopal Conference said in a statement issued after their plenary assembly earlier this month.

    According to 2014 Census data, Roman Catholics constitute the largest religious denomination in Uganda, with nearly 40 percent of the population identifying as Catholic. Another 32 percent are Anglican, while Muslims make up about 14 percent of the population.  

    The Ugandan bishops emphasized that “contrary to what many people think, the Church is in favor of a positive, age appropriate, culturally and religious (sic) sensitive sex education which upholds moral and Christian values.” “This is the task and shared responsibility of the family, the Church and the state throughout the schools,” they added.

    The document is now undergoing a final evaluation by Catholic experts who are compiling suggested amendments to the program, the bishops said.

    However, should the document remain unchanged, the Catholic Church in Uganda together with the Orthodox Church have decided “that we shall not be able in conscience to have it introduced and taught in our Christian-founded schools.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Spanish Cardinal Acting to Save African Migrants, Cites Pope Francis

    Crux || By Ines San Martin || 15 June 2018

    A rescue ship in the Mediterranean carrying 630 African migrants is on its way to Spain, where the Catholic Church in Valencia is coordinating rescue efforts. The quick response from Cardinal Antonio Cañizares and the faithful, after Italy and Malta on Tuesday refused to allow the ship to dock, also has “moved the pope.”

    In a message sent to the entire archdiocese of Valencia, the cardinal referred to a private meeting he had with Pope Francis, who reportedly said: “You’ve moved me, your behavior [has moved me]. I congratulate you and thank the diocese of Valencia for the speediness and generosity with which you’ve reacted, [for] the example you’re giving of charity with these poor people.”

    The pope welcomed Cañizares in the Vatican on Thursday, for a meeting that had been scheduled before the current crisis.

    “This is the path, don’t ever abandon it: that of charity; remain steady in charity, in the good example, in the light and the good taste of charity and works of charity. The pope is with you, with the diocese of Valencia,” the cardinal said, conveying a message from Francis.

    A son of immigrants himself, the pontiff is one of the world’s most outspoken leaders when it comes to addressing the crisis of migrants fleeing hunger, violence and persecution in Africa and coming to Europe. An estimated 37,000 refugees have arrived in Europe by sea so far in 2018.

    The Aquarius is a rescue boat run by Doctors Without Borders. Over 600 immigrants and refugees were rescued on Saturday, but Italy and Malta refused to let the boat dock, in just another example of a growing intolerance in Italy towards helping migrants arriving by sea.

    The decision was made by Italy’s ruling coalition of right-wing populists called the League, and the anti-establishment party Five Star Movement.

    Spain responded to the Aquarius’s call for help and the boat is now on its way, with seven pregnant women on board and more than 120 children. It was confirmed on Tuesday that the ship would be allowed to dock in Valencia after what will be, at a minimum, a three-day trip.

    The Aquarius was some 27 nautical miles away from Malta and 35 nautical miles from Sicily, in southern Italy, when its situation became known. However, it was forced to travel to Valencia, some 760 nautical miles (930 miles) away from its original position.

    After the NGO SOS Mediterranee announced Tuesday that the boat would not be able to make the trip with so many people on board, two vessels were sent by the Italian navy, and the three ships are travelling together.

    On the same day, Cañizares created a special response team coordinating the Catholic charities, parishes and archdiocesan schools, putting them at the disposal of the authorities to collaborate in the welcoming of the migrants, as the archdiocese has been doing since the crisis began back in 2014.

    The Church will help the migrants by answering to their basic needs and will also work in finding employment and helping with the education of their children.

    In the statement released on Friday, Cañizares said that the Church is following with “true and passionate interest, amazement, stupor, compassion, pain and even shame, during these long and harrowing days [marking] the passage of 630 people through the Mediterranean.”

    As Francis has done so many times before, the cardinal denounced that the Mediterranean is becoming an “anonymous grave,” one which is “insatiable,” swallowing “so many victims of injustice, of the selfishness of the powerful, of inhuman cruelty, of unspeakable bastard interests of mafias and of nations closed in on themselves.”

    “The Aquarius, has been like a slap that has shaken our consciences and has put us on our feet to attend to those who knock at the door of the heart and the collective conscience of peoples and nations,” he said. “And they call upon people of good will, and above all they call upon the humanitarian and Christian conscience.”

    After the migrants dock in Valencia, they will receive assistance and, eventually, be distributed across Spain. According to Cañizares, the local Church is ready to “welcome, help and tend to those who arrive,” with the archdiocesan community ready to act “guided only by its faith and Christian conscience.”

    In these 630 people who’re arriving, “needing everything,” Cañizares said, the Church sees “the Lord himself, our true brothers with whom the Lord identifies; simply men, women and children who are imploring [for help] and who have needs and who must be welcomed.”

    Quoting Francis, Cañizares said that the local Church is ready to “welcome, protect, promote and integrate the migrants and refugees,” and they’ve made this known to Spanish authorities.

    Source: Crux…

  • Boko Haram Burns Catholic Building Previously Destroyed by Boko Haram

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 12 June 2018

    A Catholic catechetical building was damaged by Boko Haram militants during an attack Monday on a village in northwestern Nigeria.

    Terrorists connected with the Islamist militant group burned 22 buildings during the raid, including part of the Catechetical Training Centre in Kaya, according to the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri. Reportedly, the terrorists had been looting and searching for food.

    The Diocese of Maiduguri reported that the catechetical center had been previously destroyed during a violent Boko Haram takeover of the region in 2014, and had only recently been rebuilt. Boko Haram militants have fought with government forces in the region since at least 2012.

    Monday’s attack was stopped by Nigerian security forces and a group of locals from the Adamawa State. One member of Boko Haram was killed during the raid, Nigerian media reported.

    Ahmad Sajoh, the Adamawa Commissioner of Information and Strategy, applauded the people’s resilience and asked the public to remain calm, according to Punch News.

    “The current operations by the security agencies are intended to ensure enhanced security situation all over the state ahead of the end of Ramadan Sallah celebrations,” he said. “The general public is therefore requested to remain calm and be law-abiding.”

    Archbishop Valerian Okeke of Onitsha, along with a committee of the Nigerian bishops’ conference,  issued a statement in May condemning Islamic violence in the country, following a conference for seminary rectors addressing “Christian Witness in the Face of Islamic Militancy.”

    “The Church in Nigeria is passing through a very trying time more than ever before. The recent massacre of two Catholic priests and some parishioners during Holy Mass in Benue State and similar killings in other parts of the country strike deep note on the ears of the populace,” the statement said.

    The conference condemned recent violence in the area, including attacks by Fulani herdsmen who massacred two priests and 16 parishioners in April.

    Okeke’s statement said that poverty, unemployment, and a paucity of schools across Nigeria contribute to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The archbishop encouraged broad educational efforts by the country’s government and by the Church, and called for sustainable empowerment programs aimed at reducing unemployment.

    “It is very important to see Islamic violence within the context of the historical evolution of the Nigerian State,” the statement said. “The Church and other noble agencies should continue to correct the distorted historical narrative of fundamentalist’s ideology which identifies colonialism and western civilization with Christianity.”

    The statement encouraged Catholics to “work closely with peace-loving Muslims to tackle the problem of injustice that fuels fundamentalism.”

    “Understanding fundamentalists groups, their ideologies and how to counter these ideologies should an integral part of seminary formation and general Christian formation;” Okeke added.

    “Government should be held accountable for the life of every citizen irrespective of religion or ethnic group.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency… 

  • Catholic Leaders in Zimbabwe Call for a Peaceful Election

    Crux || Ngala Killian Chimtom || 13 June 2018

    Zimbabwe will go to the polls on July 30 and for the first time in nearly four decades see a ballot that does not include the name Robert Mugabe.

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the election Wednesday on twitter, saying: “These elections will be free, fair and transparent, and the voice of the people will be heard. I call on all candidates to campaign peacefully and focus on the issues that really matter.”

    Although the president determined the exact date of the elections, the constitution mandated that a poll take place at some point in 2018.

    Mnangagwa was swept into office by the military last November, after Mugabe had dismissed the then-vice president in what was perceived as part of a plan to allow his unpopular wife, Grace, to succeed him in office.

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

    Mugabe was unceremoniously removed from office after 37 years in power.

    According to an April/May poll by Afrobarometer - a pan-African, non-partisan research network - the majority of Zimbabweans saw the military intervention as either “the right thing to do” or “wrong but necessary.”

    Although most in the country cheered the change, the reality is that Mnangagwa has just replaced Mugabe atop the ruling ZANU-PF party.

    Mnangagwa has already declared that his party will win the forthcoming election, saying that “we dictate what happens in this country.”

    The opposition - united behind Nelson Chamisa, the head of the MDC-T - is hoping voters will be seeking real change in the country.

    The opposition leader has promised a leaner government, more transparency and business-friendly laws.

    Chamisa also pledged to re-engage the West, which has indicated that a free and fair election is a key step toward lifting sanctions imposed during the Mugabe years.

    However, in a country which has a history of rigged elections and violence at the polls, the bishops’ main concern is with a fair and peaceful poll.

    The Chairman of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Bishop Rudolf Nyandoro, has warned against the type of political rhetoric that can jeopardize the country’s peace.

    “The behaviors and mannerisms we develop in politics, especially when we are sloganeering, remove the Christian life and values we purport to have,” he said.

    “We have liked politics more than we have liked God, and therefore our brothers and sisters. In our political sloganeering, we have wished our political opponents dead. Literally, it would also mean wishing God dead since everybody was created in his image,” Nyandoro.

    The bishop complained about political slogans which implied violence, even if innocently, such as “down with so-and-so,” saying they “mean a lot more than their face value.”

    “My heart usually misses a beat when I hear them being shouted with all the energy and conviction,” added Nyandoro.

    The bishop was speaking at an ecumenical gathering of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) with the theme “Religious Leaders Supporting the Zimbabwe Peace Process.”

    Paul Muchena, the national coordinator for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace also participated in the event.

    “The main thrust is to enhance the Church’s participation in peace processes through such initiatives as dialogue, mediation, peace and reconciliation leading to national transformation with major highlights coming from the collaboration of Commissions such as the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP),” he said.

    The Catholic bishops have been preparing for elections even before the events of the past 8 months.

    In their Pentecost 2017 pastoral letter, they called on Zimbabweans to “reject all forms of violence and coercion.”

    “Violence and coercion only serve to discredit our elections. Any use of force takes away the credibility and integrity of the elections. People must be able to make free choices according to their own judgment,” the bishops wrote. “As we prepare for [the elections], let us respect each other and even mirror in our words and actions the love of God, Father of us all.”

    According to the Afrobarometer poll, if the elections were held tomorrow, ZANU-PF would win with 42 percent of the vote, compared to 31 percent for the MDC-T.

    However, the poll also showed a majority of Zimbabweans say the country is going in the wrong direction.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Ethiopian Airlines Offers to Support Eastern Africa Bishops’ July 2018 Meeting

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes || 14 June 2018

    The Ethiopian Catholic Church is collaborating with the Ethiopian Airlines toward the preparations for the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa from July 13 through July 23, 2018.

    This is going to be the first time the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is hosting AMECEA Plenary Assembly, which brings together Church leaders from not only AMECEA member countries but also representatives from other Catholic Bishops’ conferences across the globe as well as partners.

    Ethiopian Airlines is offering all participants who travel with it a 10% discount on airfares.

    The Airlines is also providing a desk dedicated to AMECEA within Bole International Airport terminal to ensure that all guests accessing the airport premises are accorded appropriate reception.

    According to the Secretary General of the conference of the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia, Father Hagos Hayish, all registered participants to the plenary can access the discount as their names have been transferred to the Ethiopian Airlines ticket offices in their respective countries.

    He said that the Church decided to engage in this partnership as part of its efforts to make sure all the participants enjoy the treasured Ethiopian culture of welcoming guests.

    “we are proud to be partnering with Ethiopian Airlines, the new spirit of Africa, in welcoming our Brothers and Sisters coming from all over the world for the plenary,” Father Hagos said and added, “We hope our guests will enjoy their journey to Ethiopia, the Land of Origins.”

    Ethiopian Airlines is the largest Airline in Africa with direct flights from Addis Ababa to most major cities across the globe.

    Apart from Ethiopian Airlines, the Catholic Church in Ethiopia is partnering with many local corporations as well as the government in hosting the 19th AMECEA Plenary Assembly.

  • Church in Spain Prepares to Welcome Migrants, Mainly Sub-Saharan Africans, Turned Away in Italy

    Catholic News Agency || 13 June 2018

    The Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain is preparing resources for more than 600 immigrants on board a rescue boat that was denied entry into Italy this week.

    Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia said God is calling the local people to welcome the immigrants.

    “We can't let these people who are suffering be stranded.”

    On June 11, the government of Italy refused entrance to 629 immigrants on board the Aquarius, a humanitarian aid vessel operated by SOS Mediterranée and Doctors Without Borders, two groups that rescue immigrants on small vessels in the Mediterranean Sea.

    Among the passengers are 123 children and seven pregnant women.

    The government of Spain has offered to receive the immigrants – mainly sub-Saharan Africans – and is opening the port of Valencia for their arrival.

    After hearing this news, Cardinal Cañizares launched a coordination office to connect the immigrants with resources from the archdiocese.

    The network includes charities, parishes, and diocesan schools, as well as aid groups that are already involved in helping immigrants in the city.

    In an interview with the TreceTv network, Cardinal Cañizares explained that “in cooperation with the public administration,” they have made available “buildings, homes, personnel to help with everything that may be needed.”

    “We stand ready, simply, so that these poor people who have had to leave their homeland and go through so many calamities on the Mediterranean, that when they reach us they feel welcome and treated as persons, with every effort made to help them,” the cardinal said.

    Besides providing for basic needs, Cardinal Cañizares said he hopes the immigrants find “great affection and love.”

    According to media outlets, the immigrants will undergo a medical examination after arriving in Valencia. The authorities will then determine whether they will be classified as refugees or undocumented immigrants without proper legal status. Categorization as a refugee allows for lodging without police supervision and a small monetary allowance.

    According to Cardinal Cañizares, the Red Cross will be in charge of the first phase of care, then after that the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the diocese's Caritas and immigration services will take over.

    “Starting next week, we will collaborate on the more specific aspects of receiving them, not only basic but also ongoing needs, such as education and foster care,” he said.

    The local Church will also help in offering healthcare services, as many of the immigrants may be in poor health from their countries of origin or their time on the Mediterranean Sea.

    “Europe is very privileged, [it] can share what it has and it can share more of what it does,” the cardinal said.

    Noting the Christian roots of Europe, he stressed that “we cannot hide that, without incurring the betrayal of Europe itself.”

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Signis Nigeria and Affiliate Bodies Invaluable to Church Evangelization Mission, Clergy Affirms

    Catholic News Service of Nigeria || 11 June 2018

    The Secretary General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu has described Signis Nigeria and all the affiliate bodies of the association as very invaluable to the evangelization apostolate of the Church in the country.

    Fr Madu made this remark in his address to delegates at the Signis Nigeria Second National Delegates Assembly, held at JCT Guest House of the National Pilgrimage and Eucharistic Adoration Centre, Elele, near Port Harcourt, Rives State, recently. The theme for the Assembly was: Communication for the Promotion of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation in Nigeria.

    Going down memory lane on the contributions of Signis Nigeria and its affiliate bodies to the reach-out apostolate of the Church in the country since inception in 2010; Fr. Madu stressed that they cannot afford to be found wanting in the discharge of their valuable responsibilities to the Bishops’ Conference and the Church in Nigeria. He commended Signis Nigeria’s collaboration with the Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), particularly with regards to the establishment of functional affiliate bodies like: the Association of Diocesan/Religious Directors of Communication (ADRDAC); the Catholic Artistes and Entertainers Association of Nigeria (CAEAN) and Catholic Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (CAMPAN).

    While commending the first President of the association, Very Rev. Fr. Walter Ihejirika and his executive for a job well done in laying a solid foundation for the body in their six years in office, and the effective coordination of the affiliated bodies; Fr. Madu added that the effective and impressive participation of Fr. Ihejirika at the continental and international programmes of Signis World are also worthy of commendation.

    He added: “This has made Signis World to make you the President of Signis Africa and saddled you with the responsibility of revitalizing the continental body. I know it has not been a bed of roses to build this enviable status, and the Church hierarchy in Nigeria is really proud of your achievements within and outside the country.”

    Source: Catholic News Service of Nigeria… 

  • Gender-Based Violence in South Africa – The Voice of Today’s Youth

    Spotlight.Africa || By Danielle Hoffmeester and Jodi Williams || 08 June 2018

    Danielle Hoffmeester and Jodi Williams, both work for the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town. They recently returned from doing a workshop in a small semi-rural town that’s experiencing high levels of gendered violence. They say that they felt compelled to share their experience and reflections. They capture some of the complexity and challenge of dealing with this scourge in our society. 

    “How did you make sense of Bertha’s* death?”

    Immediately the atmosphere dropped, and we were knee-deep in a few moments of palpable tension.

    “How does one make sense of it? It’s not normal.”

    We were seated with approximately 30 young people from the Overberg region of the Western Cape. We asked them to interrogate and reflect on the gendered nature of violence and power within their respective spaces. The workshop itself took place in a small semi-rural town whose name (omitted for the protection of participants) immediately conjures up instances of gender-based violence (GBV). A short distance from where we were situated stood the open field where Bertha Jansen’s* body was found – a simultaneously apt and unnerving space to host a dialogue aimed at exploring the links between gender and violence.

    Throughout our conversation with participants we remained hopeful of the change that young people could and would activate within their communities, yet we were simultaneously concerned by the deeply problematic beliefs and ideas held by a few who were unwittingly upholding the violent status quo.

    During the discussions on GBV, there were times when victims of violence were blamed for the abuse inflicted on their bodies. A few older participants’ remarks centred on survivors’ whereabouts, their circle of friends, and parents’ influence and/or incompetence. These ultimately serve to relocate responsibility from the perpetrators of violence to the victims. It is this mentality that sustains rape culture and further inhibits us from collectively and impactfully acting against violence, or re-engineering our society into one that is just and inclusive.

    Nationally, the discourse about and for social change and justice is dominated by the voices of those who hold social, economic and/or political power, and it is a power that is often acquired because of age. Throughout the day’s conversation about GBV in the town and its surrounding areas, older cishet men’s voices dominated perceptions of gender, violence and the impact these have on the lives of those living in the community. Interestingly, although older participants were fewer in number, they dominated much of the conversation. The opinions they held sequentially set the tone for how younger people would engage the issues which were tabled. Older men, in particular, held strong views on gendered violence and voiced their ideas to the room with every opportunity.  Younger men, in contrast, were more reserved.

    While we recognise that it is imperative for cishet men to be part of conversations about gender and violence, and actively mobilise against GBV, it is also imperative that conversations about this do not centralise the ideas and experiences of these men. Men are victims of GBV, and the impact it has on them – their psyche, emotional state and physical being – requires deep interrogation and collective action. However, we must guard against the inclination of those who seek to weaponise the abuse of men to discredit, derail or confute dialogues about GBV and its effects on womxn, femmes and non-binary people. Too frequently, men who want to voice their gender story will confidently accuse womxn of being master abusers, yet grudgingly confront their own toxic enactment of masculinity or of the patriarchal structures that sanction it. It is possible for us to have a holistic conversation that engages all the nuances and intersections of gender and violence without reinforcing toxic attitudes or practices.

    So who should take up more space? Simply put, we need to centre and actively listen to the voices of the most marginalised and ignored members of our society. We must listen to the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community and how GBV affects them. We must listen to the Trans community and understand how transphobic violence has impacted them. We must include the narrative of sex workers and listen to the kinds of injustices they are subjected to. In addition, and overarching all the above, we need to focus on the voices of youth who are part of these oppressed communities. For a change, we must surface and reflect on their experiences during our conversations.

    Throughout our time in the town, we observed a generational disjuncture between younger and older people in how they understand gender, violence and the multi-layered power dynamics at play between the two. During the workshop, younger men and older men held divergent interpretations of violence and engaged the issues differently; older men unconsciously preserved the patriarchal script whereas younger men appeared more open to engineering a new one. This is not a foolhardy attempt to absolve younger men from their own complicity in perpetuating violence but serves as an opportunity to reflect, understand and bridge those intergenerational gaps that inhibit us from dismantling oppressive and violent practices, not just in the town, but also across South Africa and the rest of the world. If we do not seize the opportunities presented to us during workshops like the above, we risk shallow and unsuccessful digs at tackling GBV. Moreover, we also risk leaving young men to replicate flawed mentors and perpetuate potentially toxic gender norms.

    Intergenerational and intersectoral conversations and action are needed to address GBV in South Africa. And this is long overdue. Conversations about GBV are taking place between young people at ground level and it is imperative that society begins to listen to our voices. Young people continue to offer fresh insight and creative solutions to some of society’s deepest-rooted problems. The information age has influenced the way that we, as young people, see ourselves and relate to others. The easier flow of knowledge and ideas has made us more open and capable of engineering a new social script that centres on the community rather than the self. This era has introduced us to new ways of being and acting that foster a deep empathy and a new consciousness. There is much to learn from us. So listen.

    Danielle Hoffmeester and Jodi Williams are both project officers at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR). 

    Source: Spotlight.Africa… 

  • On Anniversary of Bishop’s Death, Cameroon’s Church Insists He was Murdered

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 9 June 2018

    A year after the death of Bishop Jean Marie Benoit Balla of Bafia, Cameroon, the president of the nation’s bishops’ conference reiterated claims the bishop was assassinated and did not commit suicide.

    At least 500 people gathered June 2 for a memorial service on the banks of the Sanaga River in Ebebda, where the bishop’s car was found on May 31, 2017.

    Balla disappeared from his residence on May 30, and when his vehicle was found, a note was discovered, allegedly written by the bishop, saying simply: “I am in the water.”

    His body was found floating in the river by a Malian fisherman near Monatele on June 2, twelve-and-a-half miles from the bridge.

    Cameroonian authorities conducted an autopsy, but the results were not released.

    Later, a forensic diagnosis commissioned by INTERPOL, the international police service, concluded that “no trace of violence” was discovered, and the bishop died by drowning.

    The Cameroonian bishops, however, have since rejected the report, insisting that they have evidence Balla was “brutally assassinated.”

    During the Mass marking the anniversary of his death, Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Douala - the president of Cameroon’s bishops’ conference - reiterated the bishops’ claim Balla was murdered.

    “We continue to question the circumstances and the reasons for the assassination of our brother,” Kleda said.

    The archbishop said to understand the situation, it should be integrated into the “long dark series of assassinations of consecrated people in our country. In this domain, Cameroon leads in Africa, if not the world.”

    In June 2017, Father Armel Djama, rector of the Minor Seminary in Balla’s own diocese, and a priest in Cameroon’s South West Region, Father Augustine Ndi, were found dead in their rooms.

    Clerics were at risk even earlier in Cameroon’s history: Between 1988 and 1991, one bishop, six priests, and three nuns were all found dead. The results of those investigations were never made public.

    Kleda said past assassinations of priests had seen a “complicit silence” from the state.

    “We hope that Bishop Balla’s assassination will not witness the same end,” the president of the bishops’ conference said.

    Archbishop Jean Mbarga of Yaoundé marked the anniversary with a more measured tone.

    “We have come to raise Bishop Balla from the dead, so that he can live eternally … We got him out of water one year ago, let’s raise him from the dead.”

    He said the Catholic Church in Cameroon was still waiting and hoping that the cause of his death will be established but called for patience.

    “On this file, I call for patience. The ways of the Lord are beyond human understanding … We have no right to relegate the death of the bishop to the back-burner, we are mourning, and the brutality of his death adds to the pain; the death of the bishop is an injustice,” Mbarga said.

    Holding back tears, Balla’s nephew, Alexis Benoit Balla, said his death had left a huge vacuum in the family, but insisted that the family was happy because it now has a saint to watch over its members, even as he insisted that the bishop was murdered.

    “The feelings are shared,” he told Crux.

    “We have a feeling of joy, for as Archbishop Kleda said, we must commemorate the parting of this servant of God. The entire family shares this joy, because we have a saint in the family; we know he is praying for us night and day; just as we pray for him,” the deceased bishop’s nephew said.

    “After the joy, the sadness of having lost a member of the family sets in. We want the truth to triumph. As I have said before, he was assassinated. I say this because we spoke on the eve he went missing. He told me he was already in bed. How could he leave his bed to go and fall into the river?” Balla asked.

    The murder claims were also highlighted by the Bishop of Bafang and the Apostolic Administrator of Bafia Diocese, Bishop Abraham Komé.

    “We wanted the society in general and those responsible to know that the passage of time will not be enough for us to forget Bishop Balla,” he told Crux.

    “It’s a matter of conscience,” Komé said. “At the end of this commemorative Mass, we want the people in charge of the investigation to bring out the truth. We didn’t want to kill [Bishop Balla] a second time, and that is why it was necessary to organize this ceremony to continue his works,” he said.

    During the memorial service, a woman in her 70s caused tears when she said: “My Lord, I came to tell you that I know you are in Paradise. You prayed for us here on earth, continue to pray for us where you are now. We will forever miss you.”

    Meanwhile, the president of the Chamber of Criminal Experts of Cameroon, Steve Francis Olinga said it is absolutely necessary that the results of the investigation into the death of the bishop be made public. He also said he thinks Balla was murdered.

    Olinga said Balla’s body “did not present signs of someone who died by drowning. He should have had a bloated stomach or his feet should have been scaled by fish. None of these signs were there.”

    Kleda said he thinks Balla was tortured, killed and dumped into the river to create a false impression of suicide.

    “Why was our brother killed? Why did the assassin’s hands hit an innocent person?”

    Source: Crux… 

  • Church in South Sudan Mourns Sudden Death of a Faith-filled Kenyan Missionary Nun

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 11 June 2018

    Sr. Mary MumuA woman of deep faith, a great apostle, a mother to all, a great humble Christian, resilient in all odds, a humble servant of God, caring and loving, a big loss to us all, surely in heaven praying for us…  these are just but a small sample of the way Sr. Mary Mumu, a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (OLCGS) is being remembered by various people who have known her.

     

    In a message addressed to all Religious Superiors Association of South Sudan (RSASS), Sr. Teresa Mogesi, MCESM, stated, “The Catholic Diocese of Rumbek regrets to announce the sudden death of our beloved Sr. Mary Zipporah Mumu which happened yesterday in Nairobi _ Kenya. She left Rumbek one week ago for her yearly rest and there was no health complains so far.”

    “We learned (about) the death of Sister Mary Mumu on Friday with shock and regret,” the Coordinator of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek (DOR), Father John Mathiang, told CANAA Monday, June 11 and added, “Sister left (Rumbek) for Nairobi when she was not sick.”

    Sr. Mumu was pronounced dead at Nairobi’s Karen Hospital on Thursday night, June 7 where she was rushed after collapsing at her religious congregation’s premises in Langata, Nairobi.

    She had returned to the community house after spending most of that Thursday downtown Nairobi procuring items for St. Monica's Women Promotion Centre in Rumbek Diocese, which she founded well over 17 years ago with the mission to empower South Sudanese women.

    Since the death of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of Rumbek diocese in July 2011, the clergy and religious ministering in the vast diocese still await a shepherd.

    Sr. Florence Kisilu, OLCGS Provincial leader of Eastern Central Africa Province told CANAA Monday, June 11 that funeral arrangements are not yet finalized and could not say when and exactly where Sr. Mumu, whose body is currently at Nairobi’s Umash funeral home, is going to be laid to rest.

    Meanwhile, those who have interacted with Sr. Mumu have expressed glowing tribute to her person and mission since the news of her passing on was shared.

    “I knew her since Kakuma when I was alleluia dancer,” South Sudanese Veronica Ajok commented on social media, recalling her active participation during the celebration of Sunday mass at the Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya in 1999 where she first met Sr. Mumu.

    “Since arriving at Holy Family Parish in Rumbek township around the year 2000, Sr. Mumu has always had one mission – to empower women with skills that help them earn income,” the Director of Good News Radio in Rumbek, Luka Gumwell told CANAA Sunday, June 10.

    Gumwell continued, “The widows, single mothers and several other marginalised women have over the years flocked to St. Monica Women Center to get skills in tailoring, baking bread, soap making and home care. Even with very little knowledge of the Dinka language, Sr. Mumu would labor to give lessons every day to the women before they could proceed to any other activity. Many women are able to read and write thanks to Sr. Mumu.”

    “It is exciting and inspirational to see lepers happily handling sawing machines,” Gumwell said referring to the various centers Sr. Mumu established in reaching out to marginalized women.

    “With the sudden death of Sr. Mumu, it is hard to tell what will become of the Center that has changed lives of several women in the Diocese,” Gumwell said and went on to pose, “Who will be patient enough to listen to women? Who will give hope to them?”

    “I heard just this morning of Sr. Mumu, a great humble Christian,” Comboni Father Fernando Colombo who served as Rumbek diocesan Administrator after the passing on of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari in July 2011 told CANAA Sunday, June 10 and added, “She is surely in heaven praying for us.”

    More people who have worked closely with Sr. Mumu in South Sudan have also recalled her unique personality and focus on things that matter.

    “I have never met a woman strong like her, lovingly dedicated to her mission and courageously determined to bring it ahead notwithstanding all obstacles and at times lack of appreciation she may have encountered on her way,” Ernst Ulz who is currently project and youth Coordinator of Focolare Movement in Eastern Africa stated in a letter addressed to Rumbek diocesan administration and staff.

    “An image will remain always impressed in my memory: Sr. Mumu - very short in stature – surrounded by two dozens of very tall South Sudanese women who loved and respected her as and more than themselves, because Sr. Mumu loved them as and more than herself,” Ulz recalled.

    “She never gave up, even if projects failed, but invented new ideas, new approaches in order not to have to abandon the women entrusted to her,” Ulz continued, adding, “It was always a pleasure for me to work with her and I thank God that he allowed me to support a bit her work for St. Monica’s Women’s Group, which I deeply admired.”

    Relating the timing of Sr. Mumu’s death on the eve of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is followed by the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to God’s plans for His chosen ones, Jesuit Brother Herbert Liebl said, “what more beautiful day can the Lord have chosen for this Apostle for South Sudan … as she reached the heavenly home.”

    “I am most happy to have met Sr. Mary Mumu, Br. Liebl said and added, “we have an advocate for us now in heaven.”

    “It is our faith that God has called her to stay now with him near his heart as his beloved spouse and to harvest in abundance the fruits of her tireless work. From there she will continue supporting the Diocese of Rumbek with her intercession, more than we may be able to imagine,” Ulz of Focolare concluded in his letter to Rumbek diocese administration and staff.

    Sr. Mumu is originally from the Catholic diocese of Meru in Kenya.

    Below is the tribute from Sr. Orla Treacy, Principal of Loreto Girls’ Secondary School in Rumbek. Further below are sampled reactions from social media.

    Sr. Orla Treacy, IBVM on Sr. Mary Mumu, OLCGS

    She was the mother to all – the women, girls and to us as Religious in the diocese. She was the longest serving sister and she was the one to welcome us all over the years – we all started life with her in her home until we were ready to move into our own community homes – The Evangelising Sisters, Missionaries of Charity and Loreto.

    When Loreto first came to Rumbek in 2005 Sr Mary became firm friends with our leadership team and when we arrived she continued to reach out to us to act as and a mentor and a role model for us all. She enjoyed a good laugh and despite the many challenges she always had time to sit and listen. She believed so much in fighting for justice and in standing for women in the face of injustice, counselling them, challenging, training them and loving them.

    She never gave up despite and the many challenges she faced. She was a woman of deep faith and when things were tough and they often were she turned her mind and heart to Jesus. She saw the face of the suffering Christ in her women each day but she believed in hope and the dream of better days for her women.

    Since the start of our Loreto school ten years ago Mary has worked quietly in the background supporting us – she has been a member of our board of management, helping us to establish practices and policies which support the girl child and ensuring the poorest were always welcomed. She set up a tailoring school with her women and they provided uniforms for many of the Schools in the Diocese. She believed in teaching her women to be independent and not dependent.

    She is a big loss to us all in the Diocese of Rumbek. May she rest in Peace. And may we continue the work she was so committed to in caring for the women.

    Reactions on Facebook following Sr. Mary Mumu's Demise

    Kathleen MacLennan: Shocking news the passing of this wonderful Sister - may she now rest in peace and have a great reunion with Bishop Caesar Mazzolari!

    Peter Mamer De Makoy: Unbelievable! How could it be, I just met her the other day I was in Rumbek. Death is so cruel, R.I.P Mama Mumu, whole D.O.R will miss you.

    Fr. John Waweru (Rumbek): Sr. Mary Zippora Mumu was on 12th May 2018 for a day with women group in our area. May her Soul rest in peace. I personally will miss her.

     

    Mark Simuyu Barasa: I am a beneficiary of her great generosity. When I arrived in Rumbek for the first time in Sep 2005, and with nowhere to go, she helped me settle in as I waited for my employer. I had travelled from Yei to Rumbek on land (...no roads by then) a journey that took me some 3 weeks. Upon arriving Rumbek, I missed my employer and my instincts told me to find sanctuary at DOR and she is the first person I met! After sharing my ordeal, she gracefully gave me accommodation and food for a week as I connected with my employer. I last met her in Oct 2014 when I visited her house in Rumbek where she facilitated exchanging SSP for Kenya shillings. Fare thee well Sr. Mary Ziporrah.

    Wani Robinson Odong: May the good Lord forgive her earthly inequities and grants her eternal rest. Diocese of Rumbek, especially women group will surely miss her. Resilient in all odds, a humble servant of God, caring and loving. May her soul find peace.

    Ernst Ulz (Focolare): A hero has gone to heaven - she has spent two decades of her life to lift up women of Rumbek South Sudan.

    Luka Ellen D’Gumwell: Sr. Mumu has inspired lives of many women in D.O.R and will be missed. May the Lord give her the crown of life for she has run the race.

    Kocdedhie Thomas Makuek: Sr. Mumu had been very instrumental in bringing up women of Catholic Diocese of Rumbek for many years, she will be dearly missed by all faithful of DOR! May her soul rest in peace.

    Lilian Angalika: Oh no no what happened to her ... she was a wonderful sister...all my life in Rumbek I have known her as a faithful soul... RIP SR Mumo.

    Titus O. Pacho: My heartfelt condolences, I worked with Sr. in Rumbek in 2009/10. May her soul rest in peace.

    Agal Pa Ocitti: What a sad news to hear Wada? my condolence to DOR family, her Congregation and her own family and may God grant her eternal rest.

  • Racism Can Be Healed, Says US Priest Coming to South Africa

    Spotlight.Africa || By Father Russell Pollitt, SJ || 05 June 2018

    In this year’s Winter Living Theology Series, a US priest aims to find faith-based answers to the problem of racism. Fr Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics and also Senior Ethics Fellow at the Fordham Center for Ethics Education, will lecture around Southern Africa. Russell Pollitt SJ spoke to Fr Massingale about his visit.

    The US priest who will present Winter Living Theology 2018 says coming to South Africa at this point is important to him at a time of high-profile incidents of racism in both the United States and South Africa.

    Fr Bryan Massingale is a leading voice among African-American Catholic priests in the US and an author on racial justice issues.

    In his award-winning book Racial Justice and the Catholic Church (which will be on sale during his visit to the country), Fr Massingale says that racism is a “soul-sickness”.

    He believes that both challenge and healing are needed for all people in a society where racism has been prevalent for so long.

    “Any attempts to address racial inequalities on the social and political fronts without dealing with the ethical and religious dimensions will be both inadequate and ineffective,” he says.

    Fr Massingale hopes to “contribute to a greater understanding of faith-based responses to the ongoing need for racial justice” during his visit to South Africa.

    He would also like to learn more about what the Church in South Africa is already doing to address this issue.

    “I hope to take the lessons I learn home to the United States where we are also struggling with the issue of racism,” he said in the interview.

    The bishops of Southern Africa highlighted and addressed the issue of racism in a pastoral letter in 2016. The Justice & Peace Department of the bishops’ conference prepared a series of reflections on racism for Lent in 2018 – though many parishes did not know about or use these reflections.

    All the while, racial tensions keep building in society. “Both South Africa and the United States have troubling histories of racial injustice and white supremacy, whose legacies continue to negatively impact our present societies,” Fr Massingale said.

    He believes that our Catholic faith and the rich theological tradition of the Church are a resource for facing this plague in society.

    “Religious faith historically has been an important resource for those working for a better society. I believe it has a unique contribution to make in the present,” he said.

    Fr Massingale said he hopes that he will be able to “contribute to a greater understanding of faith- based responses to the ongoing need for racial justice.”

    His main message, he said, is that he really believes that racism is not just a sociological and political issue: “At the heart of the race question is a religious and moral one that needs to be interrogated.”

    He has been critical of the Catholic Church’s shortcomings in addressing racism.

    In an article for US Catholic magazine last year he noted:

    “The truth is that many white Christians find no contradiction between their so-called Christian faith and their angers, fears, and resentments about people of colour.

    “Too often they never hear such angers and resentments challenged from their pulpits or denounced by their ministers. They rarely hear their racist jokes, slurs, and stereotypes – much less their discriminatory behaviours – labelled as ‘sin’ by their pastors,” he wrote.

    “For too many Catholic Christians, their racism and that of their friends, neighbours, and family members is abetted by the silence of their pastors and teachers. A permissive silence that gives comfort to those who harbour resentment, fear, and even hatred in their hearts. A silence that allows Jesus and racial animosity to coexist in their souls.”

    This will not be Fr Massingale’s first trip to South Africa. “I have been once before, in 2008, for a conference on faith- based responses to the HIV/Aids stigma which took place in Johannesburg,” he recalled. “I thoroughly enjoyed that rip, even though it was short, and look forward to visiting again.”

    Fr Massingale grew up in the Midwest of the US, in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about 150km north of Chicago.

    Before moving to New York City to take up the position of professor of theological and social ethics at the Jesuits’ Fordham University, he worked at another Jesuit institution in his home town, Marquette University.

    Although he works with the Jesuits, Fr Massingale is not a Jesuit but a diocesan priest of the archdiocese of Milwaukee.

    He is also a senior ethics fellow at Fordham’s Centre for Ethics Education.

    Fr Massingale studied theology at the Catholic University of America. He earned his doctorate in moral theology at the Dominican run Alphonsianum in Rome. He has an interest in a number of research topics including Catholic social thought, African–American religious ethics, racial justice, liberation theologies, and race and sexuality.

    When he is not studying, teaching or talking at conferences around the United States–or in different parts of the world–Fr Massingale enjoys “hiking in nature, eating good food and having great conversations with friends”.

    He admits to being a “major fan” of the science-fiction TV and film series Star Trek. “I still have dreams of being the first priest to travel into space!”

    Note: Fr Massingale will speak in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban. To find out more visit the Jesuit Institute South Africa. He will also be the guest on SAfm’s (104-107FM) ‘Facts of Faith on Sunday 24 June at 19h00. 

    Source: Spotlight.Africa… 

  • Sisters' Schools Build Girls Up in Burkina Faso

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Joyce Meyer || 07 June 2018

    Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, is not a fictional place, though before I traveled there, my community did not believe it was real.

    Skepticism ended when, on the television show "NCIS" one evening, someone else spoke about it.

    This musical name reflects the widely acknowledged musical talent of Burkina people, and the country is also famous for being the capital of African film production. The name "Burkina" alone holds an important meaning in the Mossi language: "land of honest people."

    I found Burkina Faso a fascinating place, rich with Islamic and animist traditions. Christian presence is minimal, though 23 percent of the population is Catholic.

    I was intrigued with the country's unique architecture and village organization. Family homesteads are constructed with several houses connected by walls around an open inner space. Only the father has a key to the one gate. I saw unusual-looking mosques and outbuildings, as well.

    It was my first time to hear of sisters preserving grain that they could sell to villagers during the dry season, when food is scarce. Sr. Marguerite Kankouan, a teacher in the south of the country, was the Conrad N. Hilton's Fund for Sisters first grantee from Burkina Faso working to counter increasing issues with HIV/AIDS. (The Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters was established by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which funds Global Sisters Report.) She understood the importance of good nutrition for those infected and sought funds to teach animal husbandry and agriculture to local families. Unfortunately, I have not been able to meet her in person, but we have corresponded often since 2005.

    Through our messages, Sister Marguerite has kept me apprised of her congregation's activities, interspersing her English with French, her first language. I met her superior, Sr. Bernadette Rouamba, in November at the UISG Council of Delegates meeting in the Philippines.

    The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception is the first local congregation, founded in Burkina Faso in 1924. They are committed primarily to the development of girls, who in Burkina are often neglected and marginalized. According to the United Nations, girls worldwide struggle to claim their specific rights, and according to Plan International are caught between the conventions on women and children. Even in the convention on children, issues around boys' rights are specifically mentioned, but not those of girls.

    Four barriers especially keep girls marginalized: illiteracy, early and forced marriages, female genital cutting, and sexual assaults resulting in early pregnancies. The sisters recognize these discrepancies, and their mission is to protect girls and help them thrive.

    To do this, they first opened a center for girls who had left formal education, usually for reasons related to their family, cultural and religious backgrounds. Classes included sewing, weaving, farming and animal husbandry — and literacy.

    Poverty is often a trigger for most problems the girls face. The majority of families in Burkina are subsistence farmers who earn income from cotton, the major crop of the country. Although farmers call it their "white gold" because its reputation places it among the highest quality worldwide, annual incomes are minimal. Families often receive about 8 percent of the final sale prices. Income from cotton, their only cash crop, also suffers from the subsidies paid to farmers in other countries. A study by Oxfam estimates that removing these payments could increase West African farmers' payments by 10 percent.

    Besides poverty, traditional patriarchy is also problematic. Girls have few, if any, rights in this system and in general are valued primarily for childbearing: They are among the 15 million girls worldwide forced into early marriages. They endure unwanted pregnancies from sexual assault within the family and from outside, many before they reach the age of 16. Some are among the 200 million girls and women worldwide who experience female genital cutting. Parents sometimes hand their daughters over to extended family members as housekeepers or child-care givers, where they frequently experience abuse and what amounts to enslavement. As in many areas of the world, male children are favored to go to school, leaving girls disadvantaged. They become part of the 40 percent of teens and young adults in Burkina who are illiterate.

    The sisters chose to address some of these issues when they opened a hostel in 2002 in Kongoussi. Girls could stay there safely while they attended school in the town. The sisters built the hostel through partnership with Plan International, which advocates for children's rights and quality for girls around the world. The project included a 48-bed dormitory and dining hall, a house for the sister-staff, and enough funding to fence the compound.

    Three years later, in 2005, they built a second home and staff housing in Lioudougou, also for 48 residents. To promote girls' education, the sisters visited surrounding villages, meeting families and inviting them to allow their girls an education. The number of girls rose to 65 in the following year, and by 2017, there were 318 girls who attended school. Of those, 271 are boarders. The boarders also help with animal husbandry and other food production, not easy in a desert region.

    Having a home for the girls to stay helped address the issue of girls' education, but the issue of safety was not completely satisfied. The girls who were not boarders were still vulnerable to assault walking to and from school in the town. Thus, at the opening ceremony of the home on 2005, Sr. Elizabeth Badini, director of the house, in the presence of residents and a representative from Plan International in Germany proposed the idea of a high school, grades 6 to 10. Everyone present agreed, and in 2007, the college opened with grades 5 and 6.

    The sisters allowed the girls in grade 5 attending school in town to finish in their new school. Enrollment that first year was 69, and each year since, enrollment has increased with boarders and day students. Already, in 2011, the students who were recruited as sixth-graders passed with a success rate of 88 percent. The success rate of passing continues.

    Sister Marguerite is now the head of this flourishing school. But in spite of many successes, Sister Marguerite still faces challenges. Just in December, heavy rains destroyed one of the girls' hostels, leaving the sister with the question of how to repair or rebuild.

    Unfortunately, financial assistance to the sisters ended after a Jan. 16, 2016, al-Qaida attack on a hotel in Ouagadougou in which six Canadians were killed. This lack of consistent funding will set the sisters' work back as well as Burkina Faso's achievement of the fifth U.N. sustainable development goal: to "achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls" by 2030.

    [Joyce Meyer is a member of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and GSR's liaison to women religious outside of the United States.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report…

  • Clean Poll the Solution to Nation’s Divisions, Kenyan Jesuit Reflects

    Daily Nation || By Elias Mokua, SJ || 06 June 2018

    The 14-member task force translating the Uhuru-Raila handshake into actionable bridge-mending initiatives has its work cut out.

    Upfront, the handshake is, undoubtedly, a positive move at the highest level towards national unity.

    But, as the sage would say, let us not exaggerate the much it can achieve. It has its limits. The handshake is a foundation; it is up to us to build on it. We can build a Kitisuru or a Kibera with a Nyali or Budalang’i bridge on it. The kind of contractor we engage will determine our use of the bridge.

    This is actually the first cautionary point: The handshake is corruptible.

    Anyway, several past commissions and task forces finalised and presented their reports to the appointing authorities. Somehow, we implemented bits of the report and “moved on” — classical Kenyan way of avoiding responsibility to get under the bed and clean it up for a healthier living.

    LEGACIES

    What, then, does the task force have to do?

    If the spirit of the moment is on legacies of President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, it is imperative that they realise the future of the country, away from the ‘Big Four’ agenda, squarely lies on two things: The willingness of the people to voluntarily follow their leaders, and the freedom of people to manifest a sense of belonging in whatever they do and wherever they are. For the latter, simply don’t suffocate freedoms for the civil society, including the media.

    Unlike its critics on the basis of age, I see great potential in the task force. Take courage from Pope John XXIII, who was elected to the Papacy at a very advanced age. As it turned out, it is this ageing Pope who caused one of the greatest turn-arounds in the Catholic Church through the Vatican II Council.

    The church is still implementing the 1962 recommendations. 

    GREAT KNOWLEDGE

    Being wise men and women of great knowledge and experience, therefore, the task force should consider that a country where corruption and electoral confusion reigns every time we run election campaigns means the social moral fabric is extremely weak. We face a moral, not legal, crisis.

    Now that we have the handshake foundation to build a moral bridge on, help the two leaders to publicly talk about what went wrong in the last elections that we did not have a conclusive presidential outcome, resulting in a legitimacy deficit for the man who was sworn in.

    The tension that the handshake diffused was fuelled by the inconclusiveness of the poll, which led to the swearing in of the ‘people’s president’.

    If it is too much to ask of the two leaders, can the task force take moral responsibility and plainly help us to understand what went wrong, so that future elections can better be planned and avoid the perennial confusion? Please stick to the truth!

    CONTRADICTIONS

    The legacy of any leader depends on the willingness of the people to be followers voluntarily — through the ballot. The many contradictions in last year’s elections will taint the legacy of the ‘Big Two’ if people are coerced into followership.

    Most of our elected leaders are, arguably, thoroughly corrupt because they corrupt their way into office. Their main task once in office is to recoup their ‘investment’. Besides, getting jobs and promotions in our many governments (county and national) depends on whom you elect. How can corruption, ethnicity and deadly fights not thrive using this bridge?

    FIGHT CORRUPTION

    To systematically fight corruption, start by holding a clean election in which every vote counts and every vote is counted. The day we hold a conclusive election — not just for the presidency but all seats, from the ward level — we will meaningfully and realistically start building founded bridges on healing, reconciliation and economic prosperity.

    The handshake task force should simply focus on electoral grievances and electoral systems to achieve its goal.

    Dr Mokua is the director, Jesuit Hakimani Centre. hakimanidirector@gmail.com

    Source: Daily Nation…

  • Church in Congo Suspends Sacraments as Ebola Spreads

    Religion News Service (RNS) || By Fredrick Nzwili || 04 June 2018

    An Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month has led Roman Catholics to stop administering several sacraments temporarily in an attempt to keep the deadly disease from spreading.

    Catholics will not be baptized, confirmed, ordained or anointed until further notice in the country’s northwestern regions hardest hit by the outbreak, which has claimed at least 25 lives since May 8, when the outbreak was first confirmed. The new regulations cover the Archdiocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, which spans about 59,000 miles. Some 650,000 of the region’s 1.2 million residents are Catholics, according to church statistics.

    Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, apostolic administrator for the archdiocese, announced the order suspending the use of sacraments that require physical contact to administer. A May 30 diocesan statement said the purpose is to prevent the spread of Ebola virus disease, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever. The disease has infected one priest so far, but he has recovered, according to Besungu.

    “This is to prevent the spread of Ebola haemorrhagic fever,” Besungu said. A government tally found at least 54 people have been infected over the past month.

    In parishes where new regulations take effect, bishops and priests will administer Communion to the hand, not the mouth. The sign of peace, which typically involves handshakes and hugs, will be given verbally instead.

    Ebola can spread when openings in the skin, such as a small cut or open sore, come into contact with an infected person’s fluids including saliva, sweat and semen. Cases in Mbandaka, a riverside city of more than one million, have raised fears that the disease could spread widely via river transport.

    The virus can spread from wild animals, such as monkeys and bats, to humans. Some church officials have feared that some traditional beliefs, which deem the disease to be a curse, have led to misunderstandings and hurdles to prevention.

    The church is now trying to raise awareness of high-risk behaviors that are to be avoided. For instance, Besungu noted the disease can spread when family members handle Ebola victims’ corpses, including those recently seen being carried on motorcycles for burial.

    Many locals in the area believe the disease resulted from a curse after victims ate stolen meat of a wild animal in the countryside, according to church officials. Church leaders aim to help locals understand that Ebola can spread from one species to another.

    “The people are very poor and hunt wild animals for food. This has put many of them at risk. We are speaking strongly against (eating meat from wildlife),” said the Rev. Josue’ Bulambo Lembe–Lembe of the Church of Christ in Congo in Bukavu in a telephone interview with Religion News Service.

    His church has put water cans and soap at entrances for visitors to wash hands as a preventative measure.

    For Caritas, a Catholic relief organization, the focus is on prevention through proper hygiene, sanitation, community mobilization and communication.

    “We are counting on the involvement of priests, men and women religious, teachers and health care workers,” said Jeanne Marie Abanda, Caritas coordinator for the Mbandaka region, in a statement posted on the organization’s website.

    The DRC government and World Health Organization, working with church-based aid organizations and others, have mounted a massive effort to contain the virus. For the first time WHO has used a vaccine to prevent the disease.

    In one of the worst cases in history, Ebola struck three West African countries from 2013 to 2016, killing 11,300 people out of 28,600 cases. The current outbreak marks the third in the DRC in the past five years and the seventh since discovery of the disease in 1976.

    Source: Religion News Service…

  • East Congo Bishops on Spiraling Violence: “We refuse to die”

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 04 June 2018

    Bishops in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo have warned that ongoing violence could lead to the “institutionalization of a spirit of tribalism, division and exclusion, based on the same logic as that of secession.”

    The bishops issued the warning at the end of the Ordinary Session of the Provincial Episcopal Conference of Bukavu (ASSEPB) held in Goma in the DRC May 14-20.

    “In North Kivu, a certain political tendency is pushing towards fragmentation and the splitting of the province, on the basis of particular interests, disregarding the will of the population hoping for the unity of North Kivu,” the bishops of the Bukavu ecclesiastical province said.

    For decades, North Kivu has been embroiled in insecurity as dozens of armed groups jostle for control over the region’s enormous mineral resources, and, in so doing, have been attempting to wrest the territory from the rest of the country.

    The bishops worry that the fighting could degenerate into ethnic divides, a scenario that could transform the DR Congo into another South Sudan.

    “There is a danger of provoking inter-ethnic rivalry: violence, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity,” they said.

    “This dynamic could also bring us to the threshold of violence and atrocities that we recently experienced here and elsewhere: in the territory of Beni, in lturi, in northern Katanga, in Kasai, as still today, in South Sudan,” they wrote.

    The bishops said the fighting over mineral wealth is worsened by the absence of state authority.

    “The deficit in state authority has been known for decades, and it is worsening: the country is badly governed, creating an economic, social and political climate that favors the balkanization of the country,” the bishops said.

    An institutional crisis at the helm of the state, the bishops warned, creates “insecurity, which ranges from the theft of the common good for selfish ends to programmed political violence.” In turn, that violence engenders the recruitment of young people into the myriad militia groups.

    The “institutional crisis” to which the bishops refer stems from DRC President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down when his term of office expired in December 2016.

    The bishops complained that insecurity offers the perfect recipe for the entrenchment of poverty and drives a rural exodus, leading to “unplanned urbanization that comes along with pauperization and promiscuity,” in the words of the president of the Episcopal Conference of Bukavu, Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy.

    Poor economic management

    The bishops said the country’s economy is organized in a way that ends up benefiting foreign companies. Saying the country’s mineral wealth is simply stolen, they also took issue with rising taxes on home-produced goods.

    “Surcharges on homemade products discourage local firms and asphyxiate the national economy to the benefit of foreign companies,” they said. “Meanwhile, road infrastructure is degrading everywhere, leading to a hike in prices, and rising poverty levels in the population.”

    They lashed out at the country’s leaders for using poorly-drafted laws to sell off Congo’s minerals to foreign companies, thereby “auctioning” the country’s resources.

    A call for more political engagement

    The DRC is supposed to go to the polls on December 23 to choose a new leader. The bishops expressed doubt about the likelihood of keeping that deadline, in view of the worsening situation in the country. Nevertheless, they called on the population to get actively involved in the political process, saying it’s what good Christians are called to do.

    Noting that the country was face to face with its destiny in “this decisive moment of general elections,” the bishops said the people are faced with a political class predisposed to “steal our resources, and mismanage our common heritage through compromises with foreign predators who deprive and asphyxiate us. Let’s stay vigilant and bar the way to their obscure plans.”

    “We call on you to engage in constructive democratic dialogue and efficient political engagement,” the bishops said.

    They called on the Justice and Peace Commission of the country’s dioceses to help “our Christian and local communities in the ongoing electoral process in the areas of a democratic culture as well as in the analysis, management and resolution of local conflicts.”

    ‘We refuse to die’

    In apparent reference to rising animosity between Church and state in the DRC, the bishops said they will continue to articulate the views they believe are right and just in the eyes of God and the Congolese people.

    “We refuse to die,” they said. “We must free ourselves from the fear of death, because Christ conquered death. Let us foster the Christian values of freedom and sacrifice and remain vigilant in prayer.”

    They said they were ready to pay even the supreme sacrifice, if need be, citing some of their peers who had fallen in pursuit of the truth in the DRC, namely Archbishops Christophe Munzihirwa and Emmanuel Kataliko, as well as Floribert Bwana Chui of the Community of Sant’Egidio.

    Source: Crux…

  • Nigerian Bishop Urges Active Participation in Nation Building

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 04 June 2018

    Bishop Charles Hammawa of the Catholic diocese of Jalingo in Nigeria last Saturday, June 2, called on members of society to make every effort to bring their personal contributions toward the growth and progress of the nation rather passively sitting back and waiting on institutions.

    “No matter how little our contribution may seem to be, it will contribute to the growth of the society,” Bishop Hammawa told members who gathered for the blessing of the classroom block and Chapel at the Spiritan Youth Resource Centre in Chonku, Taraba State, Nigeria.

    “Rather than stand aside and ask: what is the government, church or chief doing?” the Local Ordinary posed, “All members (of society) need to contribute to the building of the nation.”

    The chief of Chonku, Yusuf Bako expressed his appreciation for the Church’s contribution in realizing the building of the classrooms saying “our children will use (the classrooms) to acquire quality education.”

    “This will make the people of God to come and pray here,” local chief Bako said in reference to the Chapel of Adoration, which Bishop Hammawa also blessed.

    The Bishop thanked the local chief for welcoming Catholics in his territory even if he himself does not profess the Catholic faith saying the chief’s positive disposition to the church was a sense of unity of purpose and togetherness.

    At the Saturday event, the Spiritan Superior of the Province of Nigeria North-East, Father James Akpagher compared the Spiritan Youth Resource Centre, Chonku, with the seed of a tree one can scoop in his hands, but once the seed is planted and it germinates and becomes a big tree, no one can any longer scoop it in his hands.

    The construction of the Adoration Chapel, which is dedicated to Daniel Bertoia, was sponsored by Daniel Bertoia Family, Canada.

    According to the Director of Spiritans in Integral Development Foundation, Father Kuha Indyer, “Daniel (Bertoia) was a devoted Catholic who died of brain tumour at the tender age of 18. While alive he was passionate about his catholic faith and he loved the youth and even in death, converted some people to the Catholic faith.”

    Meanwhile, World Mercy Fund/Barmherkeigzeit, Austria/Germany sponsored the building of the classroom block.

    Father Kuha Indyer, CSSp. The Director of Spiritans in Integral Development Foundation contributed content of this news report.

  • Uganda President Pledges to Build Anglican Shrine to Match Catholic One

    Daily Monitor || By Misairi Thembo Kahungu || 04 June 2018

    President Museveni yesterday pledged funding to upgrade the Anglican martyrs shrine at Namugongo to a sparkling status to match the Catholic one in the same vicinity.

    The President made the pledge while addressing thousands of pilgrims during the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations at the Anglican Shrine in respect to the 23 Anglican converts who were executed in 1885 by the then king of Buganda, Kabaka Mwanga.

    “We are going to build this place. We have done a lot at the museum and we will continue. Here, the place is slippery and people may fall. We have to build here as we did there at your friends’ (Catholics) place,” Mr Museveni told the congregation.

    He said his commitment towards upgrading the Anglican site has been motivated by the way the Anglicans are beginning to embrace pilgrimage at their shrine.

    “For a long time, the Church of Uganda has not embraced this day. You had slept but now you are waking up. When we declared June 3 as a public holiday,...I would go to the Catholics [Catholics’ shrine] and it would be full but there would be a handful of pilgrims here. Since I have come here and enjoyed, I will give more because for the Catholics, the place is now good,” Mr Museveni said.

    Martyrs Day was declared a public holiday by Parliament under the Public Holidays Act 1965.

    Mr Museveni said government spent about Shs90b to develop the Catholic Martyrs Shrine at Namugongo.
    He said half of the money was used to buy the land while the other part was given to the Catholic Church in grants to develop the place.

    Reacting to reports in some media, which indicated the Church House under Church of Uganda was facing auction over loans, President Museveni pledged to clear the debt to save the multi-floor building on Kampala Road.

    He did not specify the amount he will contribute, but said he will meet with the Church of Uganda leadership to find a solution.

    The Church House was started during the reign of Archbishop Luke Orombi who headed Church of Uganda from January 2004 to December 2012 when he retired.

    “The issue of the Church House debt which I read in the newspapers today; we are going to see that it is not taken. God has put me here through you, we suffered with that work with Orombi, and it will not be easy for business people to take it,” Mr Museveni said.

    However, Church of Uganda Archbishop Stanley Ntagali said claims that the Church House is about to be taken away by creditors are lies.

    “What you read in the papers are lies. On June 14, Equity Bank will move from Katwe to this house. Your Excellence, we will invite you to come and open this building officially. Let us forgive New Vision [newspaper] for the propaganda,” Archbishop Ntagali said.

    He appealed to Christians to contribute towards completion of the museum and the Anglican shrine complex. President Museveni surprised the congregation when he arrived during the service and shook hands with his political rival and four-time presidential contender, Dr Kizza Besigye.

    Since their fallout in 2000, the duo had not shaken hands in public until Pope Francis’ visit at Catholic Martyrs Shrine on November 28, 2015.

    Moments later, when the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, introduced Dr Besigye among the political leaders present, the congregation burst into a loud applause.

    While preaching to the pilgrims, Bishop David Grant Williams of Basingstoke, UK, asked the Christians to emulate the Uganda martyrs who did not relent on their faith in the face of death.

    “On this day, 45 young men refused to renounce Jesus Christ. As pilgrims and visitors, are we ready to say the same that until the last breath we cannot renounce Jesus? We all came here because we need to rediscover the anchor of the Christian church,” he said. Bishop Williams, 57, born in Reading, UK, spent his childhood and youth time in Uganda.

    He attended Nakasero Primary School in Kampala before moving to Kigezi High School when his father was transferred from Mulago hospital to then Kigezi District as a medical officer.

    Bishop Williams, who occasionally spoke in Luganda, commended President Museveni for good leadership.
    Other officials at the celebrations included Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, cabinet ministers and MPs.

    Source: Daily Monitor…

  • SECAM and German Bishops Share Evangelization Insights from Week-long Meeting in Madagascar

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 04 June 2018

    Representatives of the German Bishops’ Conference and those of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have shared insights from their week-long meeting (May 22-27, 2018), which took place in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

    In a message at the end of their meeting, the Church leaders shared how, during their meeting, they had “learned more about development in modern times and most especially what the Catholic Social Doctrine teaches about Integral Human Development,” emphasizing the theme of their meeting.

    “We shared personal experiences and understanding of integral human development and, especially, its inseparable relevance to the Church’s mission of evangelization,” the Bishops continued in their collective message sent to CANAA.

    “In our discussions, we could not but agree that as Church, both in Africa and in Germany, the Holy Spirit is opening our eyes to the fact that we still have a lot to do in our mission of evangelization,” the Church leaders stated.

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ collective message, which includes seven resolutions.

    MESSAGE FROM THE EIGHTH GERMAN-AFRICAN BISHOPS’ MEETING.

    (Antananarivo, May 22-27, 2018.)

    Greeting: The grace and peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you all.  Dearly beloved brothers and sisters and all of you men and women of goodwill, from May 22 to 27, 2018, we, representatives of the German Bishops’ Conference and of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) have met in Antananarivo, the sprawling capital of the Republic of Madagascar.  This is the eighth meeting of this organ in search of greater communion and collaboration within our local Churches, which was started in the 1980s in order to share knowledge and experiences and to better serve the mission of Evangelization entrusted to the Church by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (see Mt. 28:18-20).

    The theme for this meeting was “Integral Human Development”, necessitated by the socio-cultural developments (some positive and others negative) of secularisation and globalization that the world is traversing these days, and also inspired by the Catholic Social Doctrine of our Popes in the last fifty years, especially Populorum Progressio of 1967 by Blessed Pope Paul VI, in which he gave a critical definition of development, through Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in veritate of 2009 and the recent Encyclical Laudato Si’ of 2015 by Pope Francis.

    As Bishops, we took time to pray and to solicit divine grace from daily celebrating the Holy Eucharist, a memorable one of which was the Opening Holy Mass with the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar at the Parish of St. Francis Xavier, Antananarivo, and the participation of the People of God.  We take this opportunity once again to congratulate His Eminence Desire TSARAHAZANA, Archbishop of Toamasina, for his elevation as Cardinal.

    During our meeting, we the participants were especially privileged to have audience with the President of the Republic of Madagascar, His Excellency Hery RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA at the Presidency, and to inform him of our presence and purpose in Madagascar.  He in turn shared with us some views with reference to our theme and his country.  We also took time to visit some sites in the country to see the beauty of God’s creation and to acquaint ourselves with some of the challenges of development of the people.

    In our meeting, we learned more about development in modern times and most especially what the Catholic Social Doctrine teaches about “Integral Human Development”.  We shared personal experiences and understanding of integral human development and, especially, its inseparable relevance to the Church’s mission of evangelization.  Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came that humanity may have life and have it to the full (see Jn. 10:10).  We are grateful to God for this moment of grace, and we hereby share some of our deliberations, reflections and resolutions with you, dear People of God in our local Churches of Germany and Africa, and with all men and women of goodwill all over the world.

    Integral Human Development in the Evangelization Mission of the Church:  In the Church’s Social Doctrine, Blessed Paul VI, in Populorum Progressio taught that: “Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth alone.  In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person”.

    In order to be complete and integral, human development must ensure the total well-being of the person, of every person and of every human society.  It must involve the sustained growth of every one, ensuring that he/she enjoys just and peaceful relationships in a thriving environment of cultural, political, economic, social and spiritual wholeness among others.  This wholeness should also include the wellbeing of his/her family, society and nature.  In fact, it must also guarantee respect for the sacredness of human life, the dignity of every person and the integrity of creation, which Pope Francis calls “our common home” in Laudato Si’.  

    We are very convinced that as Bishops of Germany and Africa sent by Christ to bring the Good News of salvation to all peoples until the end of the earth (see Mt. 28:18-20), we must renew our missionary zeal working for integral human development as an indispensable part of our mandate, and so we invite you all our clergy and religious, lay women and men, youth and children, professionals in all sectors of human endeavor and socio-political and traditional leadership to contribute to this work of bringing to all persons the fullness of life that Christ came to accomplish.

    In our discussions, we could not but agree that as Church, both in Africa and in Germany, the Holy Spirit is opening our eyes to the fact that we still have a lot to do in our mission of evangelization.  Just a casual look at the situation in Africa and what stares us in the face is poverty and misery and disease and despair in the midst of God’s plentiful gifts of human and natural resources; these are ills caused by human greed and corruption, injustices of all kinds and violence and fratricidal wars, etc.  The situation of Europe also leaves us also worried at the dearth of spiritual values, excessive materialism and consumerism, individualism, little or no of respect for the life and rights of the unborn, of the aged and the infirm, etc.  All of these evils, be they in Africa or in Europe, all point to the fact that as Church we still have a lot to do in our evangelization mission.

    It is not simply the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ to all, but also the work of deepening our Christian formation and the formation of consciences of our political and socio-economic leaders, as well as the offering of true witness of our faith in Christ Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of all men and women, believers or otherwise.

    Evangelization should lead all to understand and develop their lives of relationships with God, with their fellow women and men, and with creation.  This work of building relationship demands that we work with all women and men of good will in order to create a new and better world for all to have the chance to develop their talents to the best of their capabilities, and to bring these to serve every body, living and even yet unborn.

    Resolutions: The following aspects for the promotion of integral human development are of particular relevance to our resolutions:

    1.         We renew our commitment to work for a more just world together with all women and men of good will. All human beings have the right to live a decent life. Their basic needs must be ensured, such as access to adequate nutrition, drinking water, education and medical support. All have a right to equal access to markets, humane working conditions and basic social services as well as the opportunity to participate in political decision-making and implementation.

    2.         This social and economical path of development of humanity needs to respect the ecological limitations of our planet earth, our common home. Without an effective control of the climate change, the opportunities for the poor and poor countries in particular would be drastically reduced.  Pope Francis is calling on us urgently to hear the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (LS 48)!

    3.         Obstacles to integral development can be found within individual countries as well as on the international scene. We speak up for a more just global order especially regarding international trade that offers the same opportunities to all countries and peoples.

    4.         Integral development can only be successful when discrimination of people, especially of women is eradicated. The empowerment of all women worldwide and in all fields of society is a necessary pre-condition for the development of every single person and of the whole of humanity.

    5.         As the Church in Africa and in Europe, we commit ourselves to ensure that our evangelization mission and work are inseparably tied to the demands of integral human development: No evangelization without efforts of development! The aims of integral human development should resonate within all aspect of Church life – in liturgical issues, in our catechism, education, welfare and social work. In our universities, faculties of theology and philosophy, seminaries and Catholic schools, we will promote the teaching of Catholic Social Doctrine in order to enable the priests, religious and lay people to promote integral human development of all persons, always and everywhere.

    6.         We resolve to be advocates of integral human development in our own countries as well as on the international scene even more effectively and more convincingly than before. The Church is a global institution, a global player, offering opportunities that need to be used resolutely – with priority to the well being of the poor and the integrity of creation.

    7.      We undertake to continue this dialogue and cooperation and communion between the Church in Africa and in Germany.  SECAM and the German Bishops’ Conference will elaborate a follow-up programme to our Antananarivo encounter in order to realize our common vision and our concrete proposals in the Church and society. The Church agencies in Germany and their counterparts in Africa (SECAM) will be involved in this process and will engage the necesary scientific and professional capacities on both sides.  Moreover, we are looking forward to the next meeting of the African and German Bishops for still more fruitful dialogue and exchange towards greater ecclesial collaboration and communion.

    We are thankful for the fraternal communion and greater understanding with each other and as representatives of our local Churches.  At this meeting in Antananarivo, we have become more aware of the unique wealth and unique opportunities that characterize our Church, universal and global.  We are a global community and communion of learning, prayer and solidarity, sent to be witnesses of faith, hope and love to the whole world.  By so doing, we are serving the integral development of every person and of the whole human person.

    While entrusting this our messge to the maternal solicitude of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, we say: “To God be the glory, great things he has done!  Greater things he will do for all his children!”

    Signed:

    His Excellency Archbishop Gabriel MBILINGI

    Archbishop of Lubango, Angola

    President of SECAM.

     

    His Eminence Reinhard Cardinal MARX 

    Archbishop of Munich-Freising, Germany                         

    President of the German Bishops’ Conference.                    

     

    Sunday, May 27, 2018.

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