Friday, September 4, 2009

SW2S: Perspectives: Fides Service Dispatch 04 / 09 | September / 2009

(See What We See News And Archive)

Perspectives article by Marc Aupiais

Fides Sevice also known as Agenzia Fides is one of the best news sources on Africa, and humanitarian issues: often seeing signs months in advance of headlines breaking elsewhere: due to close connections to those working on the ground. See our disclaimer for this article (click this sentence).


As we did not post their dispatch yesterday, we have included both dispatches in this posting:




04th 09 | September 2009:

VATICAN - The Holy Father Benedict XVI's Message to the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium: “Build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith.”

EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN - President of Bishops' Conference to preside Mass in honor of new name adopted by Pontifical Mission Societies in England and Wales, “Missio”

EUROPE/POLAND - “The Spirit of Assisi in Krakow”: September 6-8, International Encounter of Religions for Peace promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II

ASIA/HONG KONG - Altar Boys' Association promotes spiritual formation for Year of Priestly Vocations

AMERICA - This past August, 2 Redemptorist priests killed in an accident in Bolivia, on their way to the funeral of their confrere; in El Salvador, remains discovered of another Redemptorist perhaps victim of murder

VATICAN - WORDS OF DOCTRINE - Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello - Peace and Creation cannot prescind from the Creator

VATICAN - The Holy Father's comments after viewing the film “Saint Augustine”: “We cannot find truth on our own, but Truth, which is a Person, finds us."

AFRICA/SUDAN - “We cannot say that the war in Darfur has ended,” says Apostolic Administrator of El Obeid, following declarations made by former commander of international peace-keeping force

AFRICA/GABON - Ali Bongo, son of deceased President, wins elections; clashes break out between police and demonstrators

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - This Sunday marks opening of 16th Week for Peace: “I live for life...do you?” to reach peace through pardon, social justice, solidarity, and reconciliation

SCIENCE AND MEDICINE - EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - Insecticide-treated nets and microbial larvicides could help fight malaria in Kenya

AFRICA/EGYPT - Several activities of the Catholic Church in Egypt: youth gathering, women's retreat


[...]


03rd 09 | September 2009:

VATICAN - At the General Audience, the Holy Father speaks on the Abbot of Cluny, Saint Odo: “nourished with incisive action in the monks, as well as in the faithful of his time, the intention to advance with diligent step on the way of Christian perfection”

EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN - Bishop of Lourdes visits Scottish Marian shrine at Carfin, for annual pilgrimage

ASIA/CHINA - Catholic youth association begins in rural part of the Diocese of Jin Zhong, to encourage youth to be “salt of the earth and light of the world”

AMERICA/CANADA - Pontifical Missions Societies in Canada launch World Mission TV

AMERICA/ECUADOR - 6th Ecuador Mission: “Missionary of Christ, You are the Hope of Ecuador!”

VATICAN - Ave Maria: Mgr Luciano Alimandi - Jesus takes nothing and gives all

EUROPE/ITALY - “Putting God and the Mission First”: 17th General Chapter of the Combonian Missionaries

AFRICA/GABON - This evening, presidential election results expected

ASIA/TAIWAN - Dominican Missionary Center in Taiwan celebrates 10th anniversary

AMERICA/CHILE - In preparation for Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Bishop ask that “the political vocation be held in high consideration” to reestablish credibility in citizens

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - National Secretariat for Pastoral and Social Ministry organizes “Colombia-Ecuador Seminar” and a Congress on social integration

SCIENCE AND MEDICINE - VATICAN - “Ephphata! The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church”: Program for the 24th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care

CEP APPOINTMENTS - EUROPE/GERMANY - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Germany/Monaco confirmed

CEP APPOINTMENTS - EUROPE/BELGIUM - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies appointed

MISSIONARY PRAYER INTENTION - MISSIONARY INTENTION - Holy Father's Missionary Prayer Intention for September 2009: “That Christians in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, who often meet with great difficulties, may not be discouraged from announcing the Gospel to their brothers, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit.” Commentary.

AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Priests of South Africa issue a report on their status and prepare to collaborate during the World Cup 2010

AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Work begins on Saint Giuseppe Moscati Hospital, supported by John Paul II, near the Basilica of “Notre Dame de la Paix”

SCIENCE AND MEDICINE - ASIA/ISRAEL - New health center opened in Aboud



[...]




04th 09 | September 2009:


VATICAN - The Holy Father Benedict XVI's Message to the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium: “Build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith.”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - “Hence, to know with historical objectivity and fraternal cordiality the doctrinal and spiritual riches that make up the patrimony of the Christian East and West, is indispensable not only to appreciate them, but also to promote better reciprocal appreciation among all Christians. Therefore, I express cordial wishes that your Symposium is fruitful in that it discovers doctrinal and spiritual convergences that are useful to build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith.” These were the words of the Holy Father Benedict XVI in addressing participants in the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum and the Orthodox Theology Department of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, which is taking place in Rome September 3-5, in his Message sent to the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper.
Benedict XVI sent “a warm and auspicious greeting to the organizers and participants,” taking delight in this initiative of “fraternal encounter and exchange on the common aspects of spirituality, which is beneficial for a closer relationship between Catholics and Orthodox.” Begun in 1992, the Symposium addresses “important and constructive topics for reciprocal understanding and unity of intention” the Pope recalled, highlighting that this year the Symposium is taking place in Rome, “a city that offers all Christians indelible testimonies of history, archaeology, iconography, hagiography and spirituality, strong stimulus to advance toward full communion and above all, the memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul, Protothroni, and of so many martyrs, ancient witnesses of the faith.” 
Recalling the theme: “St. Augustine in the Western and Eastern Tradition,” Benedict XVI highlighted that it “is most interesting to reflect further on Christian theology and spirituality in the West and in the East, and its development. The Saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church, is, in fact, of fundamental importance for theology and for the West's very culture, whereas the reception of his thought in Orthodox theology has revealed itself to be rather problematic.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2009)

Links: 
Complete text of the Holy Father's Message, in Italian
http://www.fides.org/ita/documents/MessaggioSimpIntercr.doc

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EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN - President of Bishops' Conference to preside Mass in honor of new name adopted by Pontifical Mission Societies in England and Wales, “Missio”

London (Agenzia Fides) – On Wednesday, September 9, at the Westminster Cathedral, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, will preside a Mass in honor of the Pontifical Mission Societies' official adoption of their new name: “Missio” (see Fides 9/6/2009).
According to information sent to Fides from the National Office of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in England and Wales, the event will be attended by representatives of the hundreds of thousands of people who have given so generously to the PMS over the course of several lifetimes. There are many occasions when the generosity of the Catholics of England and Wales, through the PMS, now Missio, touches the lives of people they will never see. 
Across the world and especially in the rapidly-expanding Church in Africa and Asia, young churches, which often face extreme difficulties, urgently need support. Through priests, religious and laity, Missio helps support 194,855 schools, 5,246 hospitals, 17,530 dispensaries, 577 leprosy centers and 80,560 social and pastoral projects. It is the only Church organization that supports all of the 1,069 Mission dioceses throughout the world to grow and develop. 
Monsignor John Dale, the National Director of Missio in England & Wales, commented on the name change: “Missio, from the Latin ‘sending out’, is a simple, easily recognizable word that expresses commitment to the God-given mission of the Church. This change of name...has been welcomed by the Bishops of England and Wales. Its logo shows the Cross at the center of its service to the Gospel. The new motto - Sharing faith, giving life - expresses Missio’s vital commitment to serving the Church, especially where that Church is young or poor.” (AR) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2009)

Links: 
For more information
http://www.missio.org.uk/

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EUROPE/POLAND - “The Spirit of Assisi in Krakow”: September 6-8, International Encounter of Religions for Peace promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II

Krakow (Agenzia Fides) – The leaders of the great world religions, leaders of countries, as well as men and women of the world of culture will meet in Krakow, September 6-8, upon the invitation of the Community of Sant'Egidio and the city's Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, for the international encounter, which will be entitled: “The Spirit of Assisi in Krakow” The native city of John Paul II, where the great Pope received his cultural, humanistic and spiritual training, will be attract leaders of the great religions, on the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II, to seek means to peace and reconciliation. One important event will be a pilgrimage, unprecedented in size and representation, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which will take place on September 8. This will serve as a sign of reconciliation and peace and a symbol of a radical rejection of violence and war as a way of solving international conflicts.
The program for the encounter begins with its inauguration on September 6, with a Mass presided by Cardinal Dziwisz at the Divine Mercy Shrine. In the afternoon, there will be an Inaugural Assembly in the Auditorium “Maximum” of Krakow. On September 7, there will be 22 round-table discussions in various parts of the city, which will address various themes including: Do Not Forget Auschwitz; the Legacy of John Paul II; Latin America in a Globalized World; Religions and the Challenge of Materialism; Dialogue of Faith and Culture; Faiths in Asia: Building a World Without Violence; Africa, Land of Opportunity; Religions and Global Health of the World: the Rebirth of Africa; The Power of Prayer Over History; Faith and Science.” The final day, September 8, in the morning there will be a Silent March to the gas chambers of the concentration camp at Birkenau and a Memorial Ceremony at the International Monument to the Victims of Nazi-fascism. In the afternoon, following the prayer encounters at various sites, the various religious communities will meet for a “Peace Procession” that will make its way to “Market Square,” where the Closing Ceremony will be held. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2009)

Links: 
Further information and Program of Events
http://www.santegidio.org

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ASIA/HONG KONG - Altar Boys' Association promotes spiritual formation for Year of Priestly Vocations

Hong Kong (Agenzia Fides) - “Altar Boys are given a special opportunity to respond to the Lord's call, as they serve on the altar, right there with the Most Holy Eucharist. In addition to the priests' encouragement and accompaniment, they are offered a greater possibility to discern the Lord's will.” This is what the President of the Altar Boys' Association of the Diocese of Hong Kong said in explaining the great efforts being made during this Year for Priestly Vocations. According to the Kong Ko Bao (Chinese version of the Diocesan bulletin), in order to live this special Year declared by the diocese, coinciding with the Year for Priests of the Universal Church, the Association has organized various initiatives in terms of spiritual formation, to promote priestly vocations among Altar Boys.
“We are working in collaboration with the Association for Catholic Formation, to organize courses that help Altar Boys understand the importance of the priestly vocation, especially in this Year for Priestly Vocations,” the Association's President added.
In its 22 years of existence, the Association has always tried to help its members respond to the Lord's call. Today, the Association is present in some 30 group parishes, offering a growing contribution for the formation and guidance of young Catholics. Several priests and spiritual directors accompany the members in their vocational discernment, as well as in the deepening in their Christian life. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2009)

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AMERICA - This past August, 2 Redemptorist priests killed in an accident in Bolivia, on their way to the funeral of their confrere; in El Salvador, remains discovered of another Redemptorist perhaps victim of murder

La Paz (Agenzia Fides) – The month of August has been a month of mourning for the community of Redemptorists in Latin America. Two Redemptorist priests from Colombia – Fr. Laureano Diaz and Fr. Francisco Perez – were killed in a car accident that occurred in the early hours of August 11, in the Department of Beni, in northern Bolivia, on the border with Brazil, at the Beni River. According to a statement issued by the Bolivian Bishops' Conference, the two Redemptorists, along with other priests and religious of the Apostolic Vicariate of Reyes (Bolivia) were traveling to the city of Tumuphasa, for the funeral of their confrere, Fr. Diego Shurman, who had worked many years in the area. The brakes malfunctioned and their car went off the road, falling off the bridge and into the river. Fr. Laureano, although rescued, died shortly after. The remains of Fr. Francisco have still not been found.
Another tragic death was that of Fr. Leopoldo Cruz, a Redemptorist from El Salvador, who had been missing since the middle of August. His body was found on August 24, in a canal in a rural part of El Salvador. The remains had begun decomposing, so it was difficult to determine immediately the cause of death. However, just days later, a juvenile was arrested driving Fr. Cruz's car. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 4/9/2009)

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VATICAN - WORDS OF DOCTRINE - Rev. Nicola Bux and Rev. Salvatore Vitiello - Peace and Creation cannot prescind from the Creator

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, dedicated his Angelus reflection on the last Sunday of August to the necessity to protect creation, a theme, - he said - which, like the theme of peace, brings together many different Christians ecumenically. These issues in recent times have risen to the rank of “primary", almost absolute, values, literally detached from any objective reference or hierarchy value.

For example, the issue of Creation - unless considered as such, that is, ‘made by the Creator’ - is in danger of being understood as an indistinct whole of environment, animals and humans; a whole in which the latter have no particular importance, indeed they are even considered enemies of nature. On the other hand, peace, notoriously reduced and detached from justice, frequently becomes Irenism, dragging with it a Saint such as Francis who loved and saw peace and Creation only in reference to God: “ubi Deus ibi pax”, “where there is God, there is peace”, we read over the entrance to the 'Carceri' Hermitage. 

We need therefore to ask ourselves what permitted this deviation, which in Italy has even brought certain Catholic groups to adopt the ambiguous so-called 'rainbow flag', even as an altar cloth! The always possible separation from Revelation of the values born therein, which survive positively only if therein they remain, might be one remote root of such a misunderstanding. And “the end of the modern epoch ”, predicted by Romano Guardini in 1950, has reached its consummation.

The non-Christian culture which too often is also anti-Christian, initiated with the end of the modern epoch, has led to “a Christianity without Christ”, an inconceivable experience for the very history of Christianity and aggravated by the fact that at times even those whose duty it is to announce “Christ, the one Saviour”, become “preachers of values”, siding, perhaps unintentionally, with those who embrace certain human values, and, at the same time, leading a fierce battle against Christ and above all against His Church, the only way to really attack Christ.
“They defended –Guardini writes– the fruits brought by Christ, separating them from their "origin" that is, from Him.

Too often from this point of view, man and creation are considered naturally good in themselves, exempt from any sort of “original defect”, therefore creation needs to be “safeguarded” not “from sin” but from man; whereas instead Creation “groans with birth pangs”, as St Paul writes, until it is set free by the only One who can free it.

This is the time of disenchantment, secularisation is advanced and touches even the Church; everything is clearer and at the same time cruder: the play which had separated "Jesus of history" from "Christ of the faith" has ended, because it produced neither “more Christianity”, nor more humanism or morality. This is masse relativism and nihilism in full swing. The sole sentinel, as always all through history, the Holy Father, in the footsteps of Pope Gregory the Great, exhorts men and women non believers but persons of reason, to take religion seriously and to live “as if God does exist”. And Grace will continue to foster experiences of conversion to the Lord: the only root which produces peace and salvation within and around the human person. (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009; righe 39, parole 509)

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VATICAN - The Holy Father's comments after viewing the film “Saint Augustine”: “We cannot find truth on our own, but Truth, which is a Person, finds us."

Castel Gandolfo (Agenzia Fides) – On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 2, in the "Sala degli Svizzeri" of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father Benedict XVI attended the screening of an abbreviated version of the film "St. Augustine", an Italian, German, Polish co-production. The film was made by Lux Vide/Rai Fiction, Bayerischer Rundfunk/Tellux Film, Eos Entertainment Rai Trade and Grupa Filmova Baltmedia. It was directed by Christian Duguay. At the end of the screening, the Holy Father pronounced some brief remarks. 
"Dear friends, at the end of this great spiritual journey, which has taken place in the film we just saw, I feel I ought to thank all those who have worked to make this viewing possible. Thank you to Bavarian Television for their great effort – it is a great joy to see that a rather casually made observation made three years ago has become the start of a journey that has led to this great representation of the life of Saint Augustine. Thanks to Lux Vide and thanks to the RAI for this production. I feel this film to be a spiritual journey in a spiritual continent, far distant from us yet at the same time very near because the human drama remains the same. We have seen how, in a context far removed from our own, the reality of human life is represented with all its problems, sadness and failures, just as we have seen how, in the end, Truth is stronger than any obstacle and seeks out man. This is the great hope that remains at the end: we cannot find truth on our own, but Truth, which is a Person, finds us. Seen from the outside, the life of St. Augustine seems to finish tragically as the world for which and in which he lived comes to an end. But as was made clear in this film, his message remains and, even as the world changes, it endures because it comes from Truth and guides us to Charity, which is our shared destination. Thank you to you all. I hope that many, in seeing this human drama, may be found by the Truth and discover Charity.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

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AFRICA/SUDAN - “We cannot say that the war in Darfur has ended,” says Apostolic Administrator of El Obeid, following declarations made by former commander of international peace-keeping force

Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) – There has been great surprise and hesitation in response to declarations made by General Martin Luther Agwai, outgoing commander of the United Nations-African Union peace-keeping force in Darfur (MINUAD), in which he claimed that the war in Darfur had virtually ended. “As of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur. Militarily there is not much. What you have is security issues more now. Banditry ... people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that,” the Nigerian general said, shortly before handing over powers to his successor, Rwandan General Patrick Nyamvumba.
Various humanitarian aid associations working in the western region of Sudan have, however, criticized the general's position, highlighting that the humanitarian situation in Darfur remains extremely serious, especially due to attacks on the aid convoys sent by the international community.
Bishop Antonio Menegazzo, Apostolic Administrator of El-Obeid, the Sudan diocese includes Darfur, confessed his surprise at the former MINUAD Commander's comments. “The parties in conflict are still trying to reach a ceasefire agreement. We cannot say that the war has ended. I was truly surprised to hear General Agwai's declarations,” Bishop Memegazzo told the Agency ENI. 
“It is true that the situation in the region has improved from what it was and there is hardly any combat taking place at the moment, however the war could break out again at any moment,” the Apostolic Administrator of El-Obeid added, pointing out that the Janjaweed (the militia formation of government sympathizers responsible for the atrocities committed against civilians) “are still there and no one is working to stop them.”
There are still 2,700,000 inhabitants of Darfur living in refugee camps (out of a population of nearly 5 million). The international humanitarian aid organizations denounce the serious insecurity that has led to the spread of vandalism, which impedes the aid convoys from reaching various parts of the region.
On a political level, the local rebellion has divided into at least some 20 groups and has lost a good part of its military strength. The United States is participating in a diplomatic initiative along with Libya and Egypt, to unify the 9 most important guerrilla groups, with the goal of establishing a credible interlocutor with whom the Sudanese government can negotiate for peace. The negotiation with the Khartoum government, however, is under the influence of the arrest warrant issued by the International Crime Court for Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity committed in Darfur. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

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AFRICA/GABON - Ali Bongo, son of deceased President, wins elections; clashes break out between police and demonstrators

Libreville (Agenzia Fides) – Serious conflict has broken out between police and demonstrators in Gabon, where Ali Bongo, son of former President Omar Bongo, has been declared winner of the presidential elections with 41.73% of the vote which was held on August 30 (see Fides 31/8/2009 and 2/9/2009).
The vote count was planned to take place yesterday evening (September 2), however it was postponed until today. The former Internal Affairs Minister Andre Mbe Obame came in second, while long-time rival Pierre Mamboundou came in third. All three candidates immediately claimed victory, just hours after the closing of the polls.
Tension in the country is on the rise since the postponement of the declaration of the results, approved by the Electoral Commission due to the “misunderstandings” among its members and the delayed presentation of the records from the 2,800 polling stations throughout the country and outside its borders.
Supporters of the two main candidates running against Ali Bongo, Pierre Mamboundou and Andre Mba Obame, took to the streets of the capital city of Libreville, upon the declaration of the voting results. The national authorities for telecommunications imposed a ban on SMS messaging on telephone operators, due to the dozens of false messages being sent out to various political figures and journalists. This morning, the police sprayed tear gas on demonstrators who had declared a “sit-in” in front of the Electoral Commission's headquarters.
As the television began airing the electoral results that confirmed Bongo's victory, tensions accompanied the news. According to source from the “Agence France Presse” in Port-Gentil, an important stronghold for the opposition party, Mamboundou's supporters have attacked the prison and freed an imprecise number of prisoners. In the city streets, the demonstrators have erected barricades and burned tires. There have been outbreaks in at least two of the neighborhoods of the capital city. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

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AMERICA/COLOMBIA - This Sunday marks opening of 16th Week for Peace: “I live for life...do you?” to reach peace through pardon, social justice, solidarity, and reconciliation

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) – Reach peace through “pardon, social justice, solidarity, and reconciliation” is the main goal of the 16th Week for Peace, which will be held on a national level in Colombia beginning this Sunday, September 6 and lasts until the following Sunday. The initiative, which is sponsored by the National Secretariat of Pastoral and Social Ministry (SNPS/Caritas Colombia), will be entitled: “I live for life...do you?” and will focus on “the defense and protection of life,” as is read in the document sent out by the Communications Department of the Colombian Bishops' Conference (CEC). 
It is a “proposal for the education and movilization of Colombian society, so that citizens may contribute in a responsible manner, through their life and work, in the struggle for peace.” As is the custom every year, it is suggested that “ecclesiastical jurisdictions, parishes, and groups organize Masses, conventions, educational days, cultural events, marches, and other initiatives for reflecting on the theme that has been chosen.” 
In his address during the press conference presenting the Week, the Secretary General of the CEC, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota, affirmed that “there is no peace and there can be no progress towards peace without justice.” The Director of SNPS/Caritas Colombia, Monsignor Hector Fabio Henao Gaviria, also touched upon this same theme, saying that true peace is only possible through care, promotion, and defense of life: “peace should be the highest estimation of life.” (GT) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

Links: 
Information on the Week for Peace
http://www.arquibogota.org.co/?idcategoria=21324

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SCIENCE AND MEDICINE
EUROPE/SWITZERLAND - Insecticide-treated nets and microbial larvicides could help fight malaria in Kenya

Geneva (Agenzia Fides) – A child's risk of getting malaria in Kenya could be greatly reduced thanks to a new combination of remedies aimed at destroying mosquito larvae that cause the infection and using insecticide-treated nets (ITN). This is what has been revealed in the most recent edition of the bulletin published by the World Health Organization, one of the main periodicals on public health mainly concentrated on developing nations. It has been proven that with this combined anti-larva effort and distribution of ITN could favor a significant reduction in the spread of malaria in western Kenya. In the last 50 years, in tropical Africa, the control of the carrier has been mainly concentrated in the adult mosquito. With this new study, there will be an effort to control the mosquito beginning at its larval stage, with the goal of reducing malaria in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

Links: 
Complete text of the document (in English)
http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/08-055632.pdf

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AFRICA/EGYPT - Several activities of the Catholic Church in Egypt: youth gathering, women's retreat

Cairo (Agenzia Fides) – This August, the Catholic Church in Egypt did not go on vacations, but instead offered its faithful several activities oriented towards spirituality and reflection.
In mid-August, there was a large youth gathering held at Moukatam Hill in Cairo. The event was attended by some 300 young Catholics, who came together to pray, meditate, and listen to the catechism, as well as attend Mass. The event was presided by Bishop Makarios Tawfik of Ismaelia, Director of the Youth Committee, who took great efforts in making this event known to all the Catholic youth. 
The Coptic Catholic Ladies Committee attended a 2-day retreat at Saint Catherine's Chuch in Alexandria, on the theme: “You are the light of the world!” Women from various Egyptian eparchies attended. The event was presided by Monsignor Hanna Kolta, Vicar of His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church.
Among the events scheduled for September is Marian prayer and reflection organized by the Focolare Movement in Egypt. This will be held September 17-21 at Villa San Marco in Borg El Arab (30 km west of Alexandria), where families will be able to enjoy a spiritual and social gathering. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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03rd 09 | September 2009:

VATICAN - At the General Audience, the Holy Father speaks on the Abbot of Cluny, Saint Odo: “nourished with incisive action in the monks, as well as in the faithful of his time, the intention to advance with diligent step on the way of Christian perfection”

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Once again speaking on the great Writers of the Church from the East and West, who lived in Medieval era, “because, as though in a mirror, in their lives and writings we see what it means to be Christians,” the Holy Father Benedict XVI dedicated the General Audience on September 2 to the “luminous figure of Saint Odo, abbot of Cluny.” The audience was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican, where the Pope arrived from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where he returned following the encounter with faithful and pilgrims.
Saint Odo is situated in the monastic Middle Ages that saw in Europe the amazing spread of life and spirituality inspired in St. Benedict's Rule, with the start of numerous monasteries on the continent, which contributed “largely to the spread of the Christian spirit and sensibility.” Saint Odo was the second abbot of the Monastery of Cluny, “which was one of the most illustrious and celebrated.” Born around 880, on the border between Maine and Touraine, in France. Odo was still an adolescent, when one Christmas Eve he sensed how a prayer to the Virgin, “Mother of Mercy,” came spontaneously to his lips. He would later continue using this invocation to address Her. Around that time he began to reflect more profoundly on the Rule of St. Benedict and to observe some of its mandates. He then entered the Benedictine Abbey of Baume, later passing on to that of Cluny, of which he became the Abbot in 927.
“From that center of spiritual life, he was able to exert great influence on other monasteries of the continent. Benefiting from his guidance and reform were also several monasteries in Italy.” Being in Rome in the summer of 942, Odo fell ill and, sensing that his end was near, wished to return to San Martino, to whom his father had consecrated him as a child, in Tours, where he later died on November 18, 942. 
Benedict XVI recalled that: “Underlining Odo's 'virtue of patience,' his biographer gives a long list of his other virtues, such as contempt for the world, zeal for souls, commitment to peace for the Churches. Abbot Odo greatly aspired to concord between the king and princes, the observance of the Commandments, care of the poor, correction of youth, and respect for the elderly...he did not fail to exercise as 'superabundant source' the ministry of the word and of example.” 
Odo's idea of the monastic life was inspired by the disposition of Mary Magdalen who, “seated at the Lord's feet, with an attentive spirit listened to his word.” In his writings there appears “love for the interior life, his idea that the world is a fragile and precarious reality from which one must be uprooted, a constant inclination to detachment from things regarded as sources of unrest, an acute sensitivity to the presence of evil in the different classes of people, a profound eschatological aspiration.” In addition, the Holy Father highlighted the saint's particular “devotion” to the Body and Blood of Christ “that Odo, always cultivated with conviction, in face of widespread neglect which he sharply deplored.”
The Pontiff recalled that “Saint Odo was a real spiritual guide both for monks and for the faithful of his time. In face of the 'vastness of vices' in society, the remedy he proposed with determination was a radical change of life, based on humility, austerity, detachment from ephemeral things and adherence to the eternal. Despite the realism of his time, Odo did not yield to pessimism...the abbot of Cluny loved to reflect on the contemplation of the mercy of Christ, the Savior who...has taken upon himself the scourges that correspond to us -- he observes -- thus to save the creature who is his work and whom he loves.” 
The final characteristic the Pope reflected on, in Saint Odo, was his profound goodness: “He was austere, but above all he was good, a man of great goodness, a goodness that comes from contact with divine goodness. Odo, his contemporaries say, spread all around the joy with which he was filled...the vigorous and, at the same time, amiable Medieval abbot, passionate about reform, nourished with incisive action in the monks, as well as in the faithful of his time, the intention to advance with diligent step on the way of Christian perfection.” Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis, saying: “May his goodness, the joy that comes from faith, united to austerity and opposition to the vices of the world, also touch our heart, so that we too will be able to find the source of joy that springs from the goodness of God.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

Links: 
Complete text of the Holy Father's address
http://www.fides.org/ita/documents/Udienza_gener_02092009.doc

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EUROPE/GREAT BRITAIN - Bishop of Lourdes visits Scottish Marian shrine at Carfin, for annual pilgrimage

Carfin (Agenzia Fides) - Bishop Jacques Perrier, Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, will make a three day
visit to Carfin, the main Marian shrine in Scotland, Friday 4 to Sunday 6 September 2009.
Bishop Perrier, who is 73 years old, will be the first Bishop from Lourdes to visit the Scottish shrine and it is hoped this visit will cement links between Lourdes and Carfin.
Commenting on the visit, Rev. Thomas Millar, Parish Priest at St. Francis Xavier, said: “We are delighted to welcome Bishop Perrier to Carfin Grotto this weekend. We had hoped he could visit in 2008, during the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes, but, because of the many events in Lourdes to celebrate the anniversary, he wasn't able to do so.”
Bishop Perrier will lead the Marian Torchlight Procession on Friday evening. On Saturday, he will celebrate Mass, following which he will lead the Blessed Sacrament Procession, and on Sunday there will be a Marian Rosary Procession to the Lourdes Shrine (in Carfin) where Bishop Perrier will give a reflection on the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes (France).
Carfin Lourdes Grotto is part of the parish of St. Francis Xavier in Carfin and was built in the 1920s by the then parish priest, Monsignor Taylor. The shrine was built by the local parishioners, who were mainly miners. It was opened in late 1922 and soon became a pilgrimage site for Catholics from Scotland and other parts of the world. In the following years, there was a chapel, Stations of the Cross, and other statues of saints added on to the grotto. The sacred place is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, as well as to Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose statue was situated near that of the Virgin Mary in honor of her beatification in Rome, April 28, 1923. (SL) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

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ASIA/CHINA - Catholic youth association begins in rural part of the Diocese of Jin Zhong, to encourage youth to be “salt of the earth and light of the world”

Yu Ci (Agenzia Fides) – The Catholic youth association “Salt of the Earth and Light of the World,” which is open to Catholic youth in the Qi Xian district of the Diocese of Jin Zhong (today Yu Ci) of the Province of Shan Xi, was officially begun on August 23, with a solemn Mass, “to enrich the faith life of the youth,” says Parish Pastor Fr. Zhu Tuan Cheng, along with the lay assistants who are promoting the new association. In accord with the principle of “to love the Lord and neighbor, support the needy,” the local Catholics hope to “strengthen the sense of responsibility towards the Church's and society's future, deepening the faith of the young people, promoting their collaboration, and encouraging their participation in parish life.” This is how to contribute to the Church's future.
According to the program that has been published, the association will organize two main events each year, in the summer and in the winter, to help meet school needs. In addition, each small group may organize other activities according to their own needs and possibilities, and welcome even non-Catholic youth who wish to take part in the activities.
The Diocese of Yu Ci (today Jin Zhong) was created from part of the Archdiocese of Tai Yuan (capital of the Province of Shan Xi) on June 7, 1931 and became an Apostolic Prefecture in 1932, Apostolic Vicariate in 1944, and Diocese in 1946 (with the first Bishop being Italian Domenican Ermenegildo Focaccia), the year of the establishment of the Hierarchy in China. Today, the Diocese has over 20,000 faithful, 30 priests, 29 seminarians, and some 30 religious from the Diocesan Congregation of the Assumption. The Diocese also runs a clinic that offers both modern and traditional Chinese treatment. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

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AMERICA/CANADA - Pontifical Missions Societies in Canada launch World Mission TV

Toronto (Agenzia Fides) – Missions Today, the magazine published by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Toronto (Canada), that focuses on the universal mission of the Catholic Church, recently dedicated one of its issues to the importance of Evangelization and the contemporary media. A statement sent to Agenzia Fides from the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Canada, Marie Deans, says that in continuation with this theme, the Toronto office has recently launched World Mission TV. The National Director explained that the initiative will form a part of the PMS refreshed website in September, although it can currently be viewed on the Internet on YouTube.
World Mission TV was developed to heighten awareness of the importance of World Mission Sunday, the third Sunday in October when all Catholics throughout the world are called to unite in prayer and support of the missionary Church. Each video journal presents a realistic look into the world of the missionary. Challenges and set-backs are mixed with moments of inspiration and progress as the viewer follows each mission story deeply rooted in faith. Mission stories from Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Malawi, Peru, and Nigeria are preceded by two introductory episodes that provide background of the missionary work in Canada and the universal Church. Study guides for each of the episodes will be available soon for teachers who wish to utilize these mission stories with and for their students. (AR) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

Links: 
Website for PMS Canada 
www.missionsocieties.ca 
World Mission TV on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldMissionTV.

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AMERICA/ECUADOR - 6th Ecuador Mission: “Missionary of Christ, You are the Hope of Ecuador!”

Loja (Agenzia Fides) - “Missionary of Christ, You are the Hope of Ecuador!” will be the theme of the “Ecuador Mission 2009” scheduled to take place September 4 – 13, as Agenzia Fides has been informed by a statement sent from the Technical University of Loja (UTPC). 
The initiative, which is supported by the President of the Ecuadorian Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza, is now taking place for the 6th time and follows two main objectives: “evangelization and service.” The main aim is that of reaching out to “the communities most in need in Ecuador.” On a practical level, hundreds of university students will participate in human and professional workshops” in “generous Christian enthusiasm,” “sharing their life experience with people in these missionary territories, bringing the joy of the Gospel to them and placing their knowledge at the service of their brethren most in need, for their human and spiritual development.”
The organizers also explain that the long-term goal of the mission is that “through the service of evangelization and social commitment over the course of several years, the nation may see spiritual, social, human, and economic progress.” There have been impressive testimonies of “great change and impact” in the lives of those who have participated in the previous Missions. In particular, there are several “youth missionaries” who tell of the opportunity they had “to meet their own people, make new friends, and learn to be concerned for those around us, leaving an impression that will allow them to change their lives and give new meaning to our own.”
The text issued by the UTPC concludes with the hope that they will be able to “continue this great dream, thanks to the collaboration and participation of many who have generously offered donations on an economic level, as well as through their professional training,” and encourage all to start looking ahead to the next Mission of 2010. (GT) (Agenzia Fides 3/9/2009)

Links: 
For more information
http://www.utpl.edu.ec/misionecuador/

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VATICAN - Ave Maria: Mgr Luciano Alimandi - Jesus takes nothing and gives all

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - "‘'Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!' When he had gone into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, 'Even you -- don't you understand? Can't you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean, because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer? And he went on, 'It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean. For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.' " (Mk 7, 14-23). 
In this teaching which re-echoed in our churches last Sunday, once again Jesus underlines the importance of the inner life of the human person, in other words the dimension of the heart, since it is in the heart that we live our human life made of joys and sorrows, hopes and anxieties. It is from within that a person makes the decisions of life, small or great, amidst tragedies and successes. 
How deep is the solitude of a heart which is closed to God, how unequal is the struggle against selfishness which can never be conquered unless we turn to Him! Only God who created the human heart, can calm fear and give serenity and rest, as St Augustine writes. However God will only “enter” a heart which is open, which is prepared for His coming with all its sweetness and gentleness. 
The Lord Jesus came to save “hearts” and restore them to the original innocence which man had lost forever, when he let himself be contaminated by his own pride and by the deceitfulness of the Evil One. In order to exercise His living sovereignty over our passions and egoism, Jesus needs to “enter” our heart. In fact His redemption is not merely superficial, He is not content with worship which is exteriorly ordered but empty of content. Jesus desires our heart. If He wins it with his love, our whole life will have meaning and will stand firm: our house will be solid since it is built on rock (cfr. Mt 7, 24-25). 
Jesus comes, as a beggar for Love, he stands at the door of our human freedom and never tires of saying those captivating words: “Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person's side.” (Rev. 3, 20). To open the door of our heart to welcome Jesus it takes just one movement involving the higher faculties of our soul, a movement which starts from deep inside us and moves unhesitatingly towards Him. This act is called faith! 
The greater the act of faith, the more the human heart opens to God. If we turn with faith to the Lord, the divine bursts into the human and step by step our life is transformed, because wherever God enters He makes everything new! Selfishness turns to love, foolishness becomes wisdom. Evil, in all its many forms, gives way to goodness and the bad odour of vice is overpowered by the perfume of virtue. 
The Lord desires to reveal the almighty power of his love which converts and conquers our heart. The heart of a saint is the scene of God's greatest conquest, the great human adventure: Jesus enters the life of a poor sinner and transforms it, he works wonders for all to see; think of the life of St Francis, or St Dominic, or before them, the life of St Monica and St Augustine… Innumerable “hearts” have allowed themselves to be conquered by God's love thus becoming living magnets drawing many more hearts to realise the immensity of God love for us.
This is why the Church, first of all through the Supreme Pontiffs, calls all men and women to open to the Lord Jesus, to convert their hearts Him! In the wake of John Paul II, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, with extraordinary clarity, has repeated this call, ever since the inauguration of his Pontificate: “At this point, my mind goes back to 22 October 1978, when Pope John Paul II began his ministry here in Saint Peter’s Square. His words on that occasion constantly echo in my ears: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ!” The Pope was addressing the mighty, the powerful of this world, who feared that Christ might take away something of their power if they were to let him in, if they were to allow the faith to be free. Yes, he would certainly have taken something away from them: the dominion of corruption, the manipulation of law and the freedom to do as they pleased. But he would not have taken away anything that pertains to human freedom or dignity, or to the building of a just society. The Pope was also speaking to everyone, especially the young. Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” (Benedict XVI, homily at the beginning of his Pontificate, 24 April, 2005). (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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EUROPE/ITALY - “Putting God and the Mission First”: 17th General Chapter of the Combonian Missionaries

Rome (Agenzia Fides) – The Combonian Missionaries' 17th General Chapter will officially begin with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration this coming Sunday, September 6. Already, since August 31, the 72 chapter members and 11 observers who will take part have been arriving in Rome from all over the world for this week of gathering and praying together. This 17th General Chapter will be attended by 72 chapter members. There are 23 Provincial or Delegation Superiors and 5 members of the General Council, along with 44 other delegates, 35 priests, and 9 brothers.
He talks will include Rector Major of the Salesian Order, Fr. Pascial Chavez Villanueva, on “Spirituality and Mission”; Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolas; Archbishop Agostino Gardin, Secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; and Mother Adele Brambilla, Superior General of the Combonian Missionaries. The week of preparation will conclude with encounters with the last three Superior Generals of the Combonian Missionaries (Fr. Francesco Pierli, Fr. David Glenday, Fr. Augusto Ferriera), and with two experts (Bolivian Fr. Marcos Recolons de Arguer and Fr. Jean Roger Ndomi of Chad, members of the General Council of the Jesuits and coordinators for Latin America and Africa, respectively). 
Founded in 1867 by St. Daniel Comboni (1831-1881), canonized by John Paul II on October 5, 2003, at the close of the previous General Chapter, the Combonian Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus (MCCI) are today a total of 1,702 (18 Bishops, 1,252 priests, 266 religious brothers, and 173 students in the last phase of formation) and are present in 182 dioceses in 42 nations of Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and North America. They work on a varied number of missions: primary evangelization, inner-city slums, formation of pastoral workers, promotion of Indians and African Americans, vocational work, as well as a strong presence in the area of the mass media.
The present Superior General, Fr. Teresino Serra, concluded the official letter for the Chapter with these words: “The General Chapter will be a grace if it is a 'pentecostal' event. We should, therefore, give the Spirit full reign so He can illumine us, speak to us, and guide us.” The themes and questions that the Chapter Members will address are, in fact, centered on two main questions: What does it mean to be a missionary today? What contribution does the Missionary Church expect from the Comboniana and their specific charism? Society today is not only religiously pluralistic, indecisive, and confused, but it also lives out its religion amidst war, violence, migration, and social, economic, and political tensions. “Our preparatory prayer before the Chapter will open the door to the Spirit of God, which first inspired, illumined, and confirmed the mission of Daniel Comboni,” the letter from Fr. Teresino concluded. “Filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4), just like the Apostles at Pentecost, may we always place God and the mission first.” (SL) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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AFRICA/GABON - This evening, presidential election results expected

Libreville (Agenzia Fides) – This evening, September 2, the results of the presidential election that began on August 30 in Gabon (see Fides 31/08/2009), are expected to appear. The capital, Libreville, is awaiting the results in a state of relative calm, with the main streets being patrolled by the army.
At the close of the vote, the three main candidates for Presidency claimed to have won, increasing tensions for fear of vote-rigging, denounced by the opposition. The three candidates are the son of former President Omar Bong, Ali Bongo; Andre Mba Obame, former Internal Affairs Minister; and Pierre Mamboundou. The see of the electoral committee of Mba Obame and Mamboundou are being surrounded by hundreds of their supporters. Copies of reports from the 3,000 polling stations have been sent to the two centers for an independent verification of the official data.
Yesterday, September 1, the head of the observer's commission from the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), Congolese Catholic priest Father Malu Malu (who has been President of the Independent Electoral Commission of the Democratic Republic of Congo) asked the government in Gabon and the Autonomous and Permanent National and Electoral Commission (CENAP) to be careful in their tallying of the votes and proclamation of the results.
Father Malu Malu gave credit to local authorities for having made a considerable effort in organizing the elections in such a short amount of time, nearly 2 months after the death of President Omar Bongo.
The head of the observers' mission from the Central African nations noted that there have been “difficulties on the level of organization, from the late start of the voting operations in the majority of the polling stations and the problems of orientation and control of voters at the stations.”
The mission of observers from the CEEAC will present a report to the local authorities on the various phases of the elections this year – before, during, and after voting. Among the recommendations that will be contained in the report are that of making sure the National Autonomous and Permanent Electoral Commission “uses the period in which elections are not being held in order to form the scrutators and compose an accurate voting list.” On the eve of the vote, there was controversy over the composition of the list of voters and the opposition accused the government of “exaggerating” the numbers and adding invented names.
Fr. Malu Malu lastly asked that “the people of Gabon may accept the results in calm and respect for democratic laws, as is the case in all constitutional states.”
The 35 observers sent by the African Union have affirmed that the vote “took place in calm and in conformity with legal guidelines,” although there have been some “irregularities” and “deficiencies.” (LM) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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ASIA/TAIWAN - Dominican Missionary Center in Taiwan celebrates 10th anniversary

Tai Pei (Agenzia Fides) – A puppet show on stories from the Bible was the main attraction at the celebrations held for the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Dominican Missionary Center. With the collaboration of the Dominican parish, the celebration was presided by Archbishop Hong Shan Chuan, President of the Taiwan Regional Bishops' Conference, and also formed a part of the celebrations being held for the 150th anniversary of the evangelization of Taiwan, coinciding with the opening of the Dominican mission on the island, as they were the first to evangelize Taiwan.
The puppet show was divided into 3 parts: Genesis, Moses, and the birth of Jesus. Given the presence of so many non-Christians, it has become a new opportunity for evangelization.
According to the Center's website, 10 years ago, the Dominicans were inspired by a deep desire to spread the Gospel and bring Jesus' love to all people and began the construction of this large 7-story building, on August 8, 1997, feast of St. Dominic, and inaugurated it 2 years later, also on the Saint's feast. Today, the Center serves as the headquarters for 11 associations that work to coordinate various aspects of the Dominican mission. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

Links: 
Missionary Center's website
http://www.catholic.org.tw/dominican/

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AMERICA/CHILE - In preparation for Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Bishop ask that “the political vocation be held in high consideration” to reestablish credibility in citizens

Santiago de Chile (Agenzia Fides) – In light of the upcoming Presidential and Parliamentary elections scheduled for late this year, the Permanent Committee of the Chilean Bishops' Conference (CEC), through its President Bishop Alejandro Goic of Rancagua, has issued a declaration entitled: “Public Friendship During Elections.” The main appeal of the Bishops is that “the political vocation be held in high consideration in order to reestablish credibility in citizens.”
The text says that the Church “does not identify herself with any particular political party and does not have its own candidates or representatives.” The Bishops' sole intention is that of “collaborating in the discernment of the faithful, in respect of their freedom of conscience and their rights and duties as citizens, offering the light of the Gospel and the Church's Social Doctrine.”
Addressing politicians, the Permanent Committee of the CEC encourages them to conduct “a serene campaign, in which friendship among themselves” and with the people “may work as an antidote against the culture of offenses, which tries to pervade public debate at all costs.”
Thus, they should avoid all “hateful words, false promises, personal offenses, and discussions that do not benefit the people, as well as all that leads to corruption of power. “Humility, honesty, and the capacity to listen are all indispensable attitudes for those who seek to serve the nation, recuperating the realism and beauty of the electoral campaigns and their projects,” they added.
Thus, considering the reality of the economic crisis, the Bishops of Chile encourage all to make an effort to make the campaign austere and simple, and to place particular attention “to the poor, their problems, needs, and hopes.” In light of the bicentennial of the country's independence, the Permanent Committee of the CEC hopes that this time may be one for recuperating “the great values that form our identity,” among which should be “the support of the family and respect for life from conception until natural death; the fight against misery and unemployment; access to a free, integral, and quality education (especially for the poor); health policies that respect the dignity of the person; and work to overcome the serious consequences of the drug problem.”
The declaration concludes with the hope that voting day in December will be reached following “a fruitful dialogue of ideas” and “the beginning of a new time of stability for Chile.” (GT) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

Links: 
Complete text of the Declaration
http://www.fides.org/spa/documents/Amistad_c_vica_en_tiempo_electoral.doc

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AMERICA/COLOMBIA - National Secretariat for Pastoral and Social Ministry organizes “Colombia-Ecuador Seminar” and a Congress on social integration

Bogota (Agenzia Fides) - “To generate a high-profile debate in order to confront, from a binational perspective, the political and humanitarian situations and the institutional and social responses to these factors...” This is the objective behind the Seminar entitled: “Colombia-Ecuador: Immigration, Border, and Social Policies,” which will take place September 3 and 4 at the National University of Colombia in Bogota. 
As the Department for Social Communications of the Colombian Bishops' Conference says, the Seminar will be attended by over 20 speakers from the two countries. Special emphasis will be placed on the “analysis of the Colombia-Ecuador border,” without failing to address “the area of international relations and national politics in matters of security and immigration.” The initiative was prepared by the National Secretary of Social and Pastoral Ministry (SNPS) through the Human Mobility Section which, together with other organisms, forms a part of the Group for Border Concerns (GTF).
The SNPS of the Colombian Bishops' Conference has also organized a National Congress entiteld “Social Integration from a Psychological-Social Perspective” on September 11-12, during the Week for Peace. The meeting will be attended by Bishops from various dioceses, Directors of Pastoral and Social Ministry, priests, professionals, pastoral workers, and people working in the area of forced migration and victims of armed conflict in Colombia. The objective of the Congress, the organizers say, is that of “providing an opportunity for encounter, analysis, and reflection as a strategy for promoting proposals and policies of intervention on a psychological-social level,” also allowing for the “establishment of new social structures that could help serve victims of social-political violence in Colombia.” The Bishops' Conference's initiative forms a part of the Program for Social Integration with psychological-social perspective (ISEP), which is led by the Ministry for Social Protection and another 30 territorial organizations in the country. (GT) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

Links: 
Information on the Colombia-Ecuador Seminar 
http://www.fides.org/spa/documents/Seminario_Colombia-Ecuador.doc 
Information on the National Congress
http://www.fides.org/spa/documents/Congreso_nacional.doc

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SCIENCE AND MEDICINE
VATICAN - “Ephphata! The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church”: Program for the 24th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – On November 19-21, the Vatican will host the 24th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, which this year will be dedicated to “The Deaf Person in the Life of the Church.”
At the presentation of the Program, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, commented that: “The objective in choosing this theme is to offer an opportunity to the Church to appreciate the contribution of deaf people in the various areas of apostolate, thus giving full recognition to their relevance in all they do...The talks will offer a sociological, psychological, medical, familial, and above all personal approach to the conditions of deaf persons, in order to create awareness in the entire community and promote concrete and efficacious action on a social and ecclesial level, to alleviate the difficulties suffered by deaf persons.”
Preparation for the official publication of the Conference has been especially entrusted to the International Catholic Foundation for the Service of Deaf Persons and the Religious Congregation “Little Mission for the Deaf and Dumb.” (AP) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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CEP APPOINTMENTS
EUROPE/GERMANY - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Germany/Monaco confirmed

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on May 5, 2009, confirmed the appointment of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Germany/Monaco, Fr. Eric Englert, OSA, for another five-year term (2009-2013). (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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CEP APPOINTMENTS
EUROPE/BELGIUM - National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies appointed

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on June 26, 2009, appointed Fr. Michel Coppin, SDS, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Belgium for one five-year term (2009-2014). 
The new National Director was born on February 6, 1958 in Courtrai. After completing his primary and secondary school studies, on September 5, 1976 he entered the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians) for the novitiate and made his first vows on September 18, 1977. He was ordained a priest on September 8, 1991. He took several courses in Philosophy and Theology at the University of Passau (1976-77); he earned a Licentiate in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain (1977-82); he also took several courses in teaching and psychology, and medicine at Louvain (1982-1983). He specialized in youth ministry in the heart of Latin America, at the Javeriana University in Bogota (1983-84); he earned a licentiate in Theology at the Catholic University of Louvain (1985-1991); and began doctoral studies in Philosophy at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome (2000-01). During his time of formation he worked (1983-85) on a project of catechetical formation for rural populations in Columbia and youth ministry in Venezuela. For ten years (1991-2001), he carried out pastoral ministry as assistant pastor in the poorer neighborhoods on the outskirts of Caracas. From 1992-2001, he taught Philosophy at the Theological Institute for Religious at the Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas; from 1993 to 1997, he taught Philosophy and History of the Church at the Center for Religious Studies in Caracas; from 1996-2001 he taught fundamental theology at the Interdiocesan Seminary in Caracas. He has also served in various posts at the Theological Institute for Religious at the Andres Bello Catholic University in Caracas (academic secretary, bursar, Vice-Rector, Dean...); within his own religious Congregation (member of the Regional Council and the Directive Committee of the Commission for the Renewal of the Congregation, Rector and Superior of the Salvatorian Seminary in Caracas); in the ecclesiastical province of Venezuela. In Belgium, since 2001 he has been the Director of the Latin America sector of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Belgium; since 2003, he has been the Diocesan Director of the PMS in Bruges; since 2004, he has been the Course Director for Religious Studies in Malines-Brussels; since 2005, he has served as the Provincial Superior of the Salvatorians in Belgium. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 2/9/2009)

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MISSIONARY PRAYER INTENTION
MISSIONARY INTENTION - Holy Father's Missionary Prayer Intention for September 2009: “That Christians in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, who often meet with great difficulties, may not be discouraged from announcing the Gospel to their brothers, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit.” Commentary.

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – Over the course of the Church's 20 centuries of history, it has been calculated that an estimated 43 million Christians have died as martyrs. Half of them have died in the past century, precisely in a period of time that has often claimed to be characterized by tolerance. Still now, even in our own time, in various parts of the world Christians continue to encounter great difficulty in living and bearing witness to their faith, suffering oppression, abuse, restrictions, etc. to the point of shedding their blood for Christ's name.
The Missionary Intention for this month invites us to especially recall three nations of the great Asian continent: Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, where although certain signs of freedom are being seen, the Church continues to suffer the effects of the religious persecution of the past century and is more discriminated against than other religions.
When we hear that our brethren suffer every day for being Catholic, we find it hard to believe. Yet, the facts show that this is so. These brethren offer a priceless remedy for our faith, oftentimes lukewarm and indifferent. It is so true that one truly loves when he is willing to suffer for that which he loves. This is why persecution and martyrdom continue to be a witness to the heroic love of members of Christ's Body. John Paul II, in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, affirms: “I urge our brothers and sisters of these Churches in difficult circumstances to join their sufferings to those of the crucified Lord, for we and they know that the Cross alone, when borne in faith and love, is the path to resurrection and new life for humanity” (Ecclesia in Asia, 28). 
The pouring out of the Holy Spirit is a fruit of Christ's Cross, and the Spirit is also the One who leads us to the Cross. With His life-giving presence, He offers strength and fortitude to the will of men who love God and spend their lives trying to please Him in everything.
We should pray intensely for this gift of fortitude for our brethren. This gift is a supernatural force that gives strength to the soul not only in dramatic moments like those of martyrdom, but also amidst the constant situations of difficulty: in the struggle to be coherent with one's own principles; in resisting the unjust offenses and attacks; in persevering, even in the midst of misunderstanding and hostility, on the way of truth and honesty. In these conditions, it is not easy to bear witness to the Christian message. There is a subtle temptation to give in to a treacherous silence that would avoid all this suffering. And yet, love always conquers fear.
We should pray for our brethren, that the words of Saint Paul may hold true for them: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). This strength that comes from suffering is a gift of Christ, from His Spirit. This testimony of courage and fidelity in the midst of persecutions has an immense apostolic force.
Pope Benedict XVI has also mentioned that “with special spiritual closeness, I also think of those Catholics who maintain their fidelity to the See of Peter without ceding to compromises, sometimes at the price of grave sufferings. The whole Church admires their example and prays that they have the strength to persevere, knowing that their tribulations are the font of victory, even if at that moment they can seem a failure” (Angelus, December 26, 2006). 
We can be certain, based on Jesus' word, that if we ask from our hearts, we will receive. Thus, we pray to the Holy Spirit for our brethren, that He may sustain them in their suffering, in the difficulties, and in persecution, so that they may be witnesses of God's love and His peace. (Agenzia Fides 1/9/2009)

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AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Priests of South Africa issue a report on their status and prepare to collaborate during the World Cup 2010

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) – The serious acts of violence committed against Catholic priests have been denounced by representatives of the priests in the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (South Africa, Botswana, and Swaziland), which held its General Assembly at the Mariannhill Monastery in Kwa Zulu Natal (South Africa), August 17-21.
“Priests lamented the violence experienced by many confreres,” the final statement sent to Agenzia Fides said. “In the last year, three priests have been murdered. Many others have been attacked and hijacked. This is a cause of grave concern as it is symptomatic of the levels of violence that pervade our society.”
The participants in the Assembly also recalled Fr. Onia Maropola, a priest from the Diocese of Pietersburg (South Africa), who has been missing since 2007: “we remain concerned for [his] welfare and safety.”
During the meeting, the priests expressed their gratitude to Pope Benedict XVI for having declared the Year for Priests. Many dioceses say that this initiative has caused great enthusiasm among the priests and laity.
Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban, in speaking in the Opening Mass for the Assembly, recalled that the priest is not a priest for himself, but a priest for the Church and for the “heart” of God.
During the sessions, they discussed “The Attitudinal Survey of Priests,” approved in the Plenary Session of the SACBC in August. The priests have been invited to participate in the most complete manner, in order to offer a more in-depth survey, guaranteeing confidentiality.
Many speakers asked the priests to take up their own responsibility in intellectual development, with permanent formation courses, reading, self-examination, and mutual support.
The priests were encouraged to volunteer to work with the visitors who will come for the FIFA 2010 World Cup, defined as an “opportunity to showcase the dynamism of African Catholicism.” The SACBC has started a website (www.churchontheball.com), “the central contact point for information, ideas and celebration both for the local church and for international visitors.” In the light of the World Cup, Sr Melanie O’Connor HF of the SACBC/LCCL SA counter trafficking in persons desk highlighted the challenge of human trafficking and how the Catholic community and the priests could play a vital role in exposing trafficking rings and providing assistance to victims, who are often times under-aged and suffer serious offenses. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 01/09/2009)

Links: 
Final Statement
http://www.fides.org/eng/documents/Southern_African_Council_Of_Priests.rtf

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AFRICA/IVORY COAST - Work begins on Saint Giuseppe Moscati Hospital, supported by John Paul II, near the Basilica of “Notre Dame de la Paix”

Yamoussoukro (Agenzia Fides) – The Apostolic Nuncio in Ivory Coast, Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, Ms. Therese Marie-Therese Houphouet-Boigny (widow of the first President of Ivory Coast), and Archbishop Paul-Simeon Ahouanan-Djro, OFM, President of the International Foundation “Notre Dame de la Paix,” all signed their names for the opening of construction work on the future Saint Giuseppe Moscati Hospital in Yamoussoukro (the country's capital). The hospital will be built near the Basilica “Notre Dame de la Paix.”
The ceremony took place on August 23, following the ordination of three Bishops (see Fides 31/8/2009), and was attended by the nation's bishops, many priests and sisters, country and city authorities, and family members of the deceased President Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Before the opening prayer, the Pontifical Representative asked all to take a moment of silence to honor the memory of Servant of God Pope John Paul II, who in 1992, along with President Houphouet-Boigny, drew up the plans for the construction of the hospital. In his address, the Nuncio stressed the missionary character of the Church and its special charitable quality, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI highlighted in the encyclical “Deus Caritas est.” After having expressed his gratitude to the deceased President and his family for their generous donation that has helped the project become a reality, Archbishop Madtha expressed his great gratitude as well to the Vice-Province of the Camillian Fathers, which has undertaken the management of the hospital.
Cardinal Bernard Agre, Archbishop Emeritus of Abidjan, presided the blessing ceremony. The hospital has 100 beds, in addition to the residence for the Camillian Fathers and the Daughters of Saint Camillus. The health center plans to be up and running by the end of 2011. (LM) (Agenzia Fides 1/9/2009)

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SCIENCE AND MEDICINE
ASIA/ISRAEL - New health center opened in Aboud

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) – A new Caritas health center in the Jerusalem area has been opened in Aboud. In the past 19 years, thanks to the high quality service offered by various health sectors and laboratory services, the town has seen an increase in the number of its patients. For the community of Aboud and the neighboring villages, having this center nearby has been a great advancement, as they no longer have to pass blockades to reach the clinic, which is fairly spacious, offers basic health services, holistic medicine, and orthodontal treatment. The new center is open 6 days/week and can attend an average of 40 patients per day. The urology, dermatology, and gynecology departments are available to all those in need and are not to be found in other clinics. Aboud is a small village of neraly 2500 inhabitants, located west of Ramallah. Half of the population is Christian, the other half being Muslim. The village is known for its underground springs which offer 20% of the West Bank's water supply. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 1/9/2009)

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