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  • Intentionality Will Connect our Goals across the World: Revisiting Nairobi and Aberdeen Meeting of Catholic Nuns

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Joyce Meyer || 22 November 2016

    revisiting nairobi and aberdeen meeting of nunsOne of my favorite songs is the Sustainable Development Goals' You-tube: "We love the SDGs". It makes me want to get up and dance because I am passionate about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs for short.

    So it was very exciting for me to attend an international meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, at the end of October: Catholic Sisters, Champions of Sustainable Development. Sisters from east, central and west Africa gathered — 140 women — to learn about the SDGs and their potential roles in helping to implement them. The day after I returned from Kenya, I participated in another meeting on the SDGs with my own congregation in South Dakota. Most people would not think of connecting Nairobi and Aberdeen, South Dakota, but it was fascinating that the two meetings focused on similar SDG concerns: environment, education, and rights of indigenous peoples, each part of the 17 goals adopted by 193 countries last year to eliminate poverty, hunger and to promote good health, gender equality, clean energy and more by 2030.

    It is not always easy to consider similarities between Global North and Global South issues, but in these two meetings, similarities converged. The most current issue in our minds at the South Dakota meeting was the conflict of our neighbors in North Dakota over a multi-national oil pipeline being planted under the Missouri River, the main source of water on the Standing Rock Reservation, without adequate consultation with the Indian people. The pipeline will also disturb cultural burial grounds sacred to the community. For the Indian community, this intrusion is not only a human rights issue, but involves environmental and land grabbing issues as well. From many countries of Africa we frequently hear similar stories about multi-national land grabbing that disregards indigenous farmers' rights and destroys natural environments, most recently in Cameroon and Ghana.

    Experiencing the Nairobi group's surprise and joy in learning about the SDGs and recognizing how their congregations are already addressing many of the 17 issues was thrilling. The sisters' amazement was an example of how often we do not recognize that local actions can have significant global implications and impact. There was much discussion about how nurturing a global consciousness requires constant attentiveness and perseverance, not only regarding the SDGs but even about ourselves as women religious. We are sisters from nearly every nation of the world who share a common life as women vowed to live out the Gospel in the service of others. We are one global community of commitment.

    This commitment makes it imperative that we sometimes set aside individual congregational concerns enough to partner with others for the good of the whole national and global community. Yes, we can find other congregations with whom we might partner, but we also need to seek out non-governmental organizations or groups working on issues similar to the SDGs to make regional impact stronger. Collaboration and building coalitions brings together many voices, a powerful strategy for impact. Single voices are rarely given enough time, space or consideration, and ideas are thus ignored or lost. Single voices can also become weary and stop speaking. It is sometimes good to remember the image of migrating geese, who as they travel together in a "V" formation, relieve the one in front by taking the lead in turns. The support gained from others is worth the hard work as is letting go of control of leadership for the common good.

    No one who has entered into collaboration denies the challenges of negotiating new relationships. Foremost, it takes conviction in shared values and then great commitment of time to intentionally to seek and deeply listen for areas where there is already synchronicity to find a common focus or intention and then set up structures for communication, sharing and leadership. But undergirding it all is the determination to keep it going. Collaborative relationships do not happen overnight. They take time to develop, so even a year or two is not unusual, particularly if there is great diversity of goals, organizational structures and personalities. These were some of the issues we addressed at the meeting, and the sisters were given opportunities to learn some techniques to help them in doing the necessary work.

    A panel of representatives from government ministries, United Nations desks, civil societies, church hierarchy leaders, and philanthropy each gave examples of positive relationships and experiences they had working with sisters and pledged future collaborative efforts. All the panelists noted the great potential sisters have as a group to influence public action and policy along with the services they provide.

    One sister I spoke with later said she was pleased to hear what the panelists shared but that at the same time she found it hard not to feel cynical recalling a number of prior negative experiences with some such organizations. I thought a lot about this later, remembering my own times of disenchantment with attempts at collaboration. It is a learning experience that takes a lot of patience, reflection and letting go of assumptions to find the right opportunities and dynamics to help develop these relationships.

    Another lesson for the sisters in the Nairobi gathering and some of my own community in South Dakota was the value of intentionally connecting our local work with the goals of our regions and countries, in our thinking, in our discussions and in our actions. Intentionality helps nurture a consciousness of being one global community and keeps us mindful of our responsibility as citizens to recognize that our work is truly in the service of our own national development. Yes, we are serving individuals, but this service has national and global impact as well. We are all one. We need to keep remembering to help one another become the conscience of our government officials who will be responsible to report in 2030 on how the Sustainable Development Goals have been implemented in our particular countries.

    Sisters left both meetings buoyed up with new energy and excitement about the potential they have in being the "Champions of Sustainable Development". I came away from both more convinced of the importance of finding ways to keep connecting and supporting our Global North and Global South activities.

    Hearing about one another's creative efforts and struggles can spur us on to new creativity. Singing and dancing, "We love the SDGs," will help too. Close to 200 sisters have now signed on to the Global Sisters Report Africa Connect WhatsApp group. WhatsApp is a free mobile application that functions like a private message board. This can be a great way for us to communicate our successes, efforts, questions and dreams to support these next 15 years of work to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.

    Editor's note to sisters working in Africa: To request to be added to the GSR WhatsApp group, please email us at sisters@globalsistersreport.org and include your mobile phone number and a brief description of your location, community and work.

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

    Source: Global Sisters Report…

  • Dozens of Clergy and Faithful in Ghana Trained in News Writing

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 24 November 2016

    ho diocese trains news writing skills 2016Over 40 Priests, Religious and lay faithful from selected Parishes and Societies ministering in the Catholic diocese of Ho, Ghana, recently received training in news writing during Seminar at the Bishop Holland’s Memorial and Pastoral Centre at Sokode-Gbogame.

    The two-day training from November 3 to 4, was organized by the Ho Diocesan Communication Directorate, to equip the participants with the skills and techniques in writing stories for the Ho Diocesan Website and the national Catholic daily, The Catholic Standard Newspaper.

    Funded by the World Catholic Association for Communications (SIGNIS), it was also to school the participants in the fundamentals of good writing, news packaging, storytelling techniques, news media ethics and the house style of Ghana’s weekly newspaper, The Catholic Standard.

    The Seminar first of its kind by a Diocesan Communication Office, was facilitated by Mr. Damian Avevor, News Editor of The Catholic Standard and Father Dieu Donne Davor, Executive Secretary of the Department of Social Communications (DEPSOCOM) at the National Catholic Secretariat and the Director of Communications of the Ho Diocese.

    Welcoming the participants, Father Davor said the main purpose of the Training was to learn how to tell the Catholic stories in the Diocese through the Church Media, and how to report activities in the various Parishes, Societies and the Diocese as a whole.

    He extended the felicitations of Most Rev. Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, Bishop of Ho, to the participants, saying that it was the expectation of the diocese that, after the training, they would have the desire and skills to write regularly on activities in their parishes and societies.

    On his part, Mr. Avevor took the participants through the fundamentals of good writing, basics in news writing, types of news, news values, factors that determine newsworthiness, structure of a news story, crafting of news leads, and ethical issues in news writing.

    He urged them to always keep their stories short, sweet and straight to the point and ensure that they conveyed as much information and in fewer as possible.

    He reminded them that as trainees they were to be the eyes, ears and guide to their parishes, societies and activities of their dioceses, saying, “It is through publications in The Catholic Standard that the Holy Father gets to know activities being embarked by dioceses.”

    He encouraged the participants to take a leadership role in the family of contributors to The Catholic Standard and keep alive the diocesan website.

  • World Youngest Cardinal Nzapalainga of Central African Republic Visits Rome’s Mosque

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 24 November 2016

    world youngest cardinal visits mosque in rome 2016The new Cardinal of the Central African Republic (CAR), Dieudonné Nzapalainga has visited Rome’s Mosque Tuesday in a gesture intended to promote interreligious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

    The Archbishop of Bangui was welcomed at the Mosque, by the Italian Islamic Federation Vice President Sekekh Taib and Abdellah Redouane, the Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy.

    Accompanying the Cardinal were Imam Kobine Layama and the Evangelical Pastor, Philippe Sing-Na, both of the Central African Republic. The latter were in Rome to escort Cardinal Nzapalainga for the consistory where Pope Francis created him Cardinal. 

    The visit to Rome’s Mosque, by the Cardinal of CAR, is a sign of the three religious leaders' ongoing commitment to peace and interreligious dialogue.

    As a result of their efforts, the trio has received various awards commending them for their commitment to reconciliation, dialogue and peace in CAR.

    Earlier in the week, Cardinal Nzapalainga outlined that as religious leaders in CAR, their motivation for working together was rooted in their faith and belief in the power of dialogue over guns. 

    "Our strength is speech, not weapons. We want to use it to empower consciences and create a climate of trust,” the Cardinal said. 

    Last year in November 2015, Cardinal Nzapalainga welcomed Pope Francis, to Bangui for the Holy Father’s Apostolic Visit and the opening of the first Holy Door of Mercy.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Road in Nairobi Named after Cardinal Otunda

    CANAA || By Rose Achiego, Waumini Communications || 24 November 2016

    cardinal otunga road launched in nairobi 2016The Government of Kenya through the Nairobi County has named one of the capital city’s roads after the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga, in cognisant of virtues that he stood for.

    Speaking during the unveiling of Cardinal Otunga Road near the Holy Family Minor Basilica adjacent to City Hall Annex, John Cardinal Njue thanked the County Government of Nairobi under the leadership of the Governor, Dr. Evans Kidero for naming a section of the street after the Servant of God, saying he is a moral icon worth of the honour.

    “May the street prompt us to emulate Cardinal Otunga’s exemplary life of prayerfulness and humility; may his intercession merit the city of Nairobi and the entire country, God’s protection and abundant blessing. Cardinal Otunga will continue to speak to the people of Nairobi and all Kenyans through his great virtues of courage, good cheer, care and concern for others,” Cardinal Njue Said.

    Cardinal Njue prayed for all Kenyan leaders to shun tribalism and racism and urged them to strive to bring unity to the country so that they can leave a meaningful heritage for generations to come just as Cardinal Otunga who stood for honesty, simplicity and care for the less fortunate in the society had done.

    On his part, the Governor of Nairobi County, Dr Evans Kidero, said his office recognised the Servant of God as a spiritual hero since he left the world a better place than he found it and the least they could do were to name a street after him.

    Kidero called on leaders to be as caring and just as Cardinal Otunga was, adding that, such deeds would bring prosperity for the nation. He condemned acts of bribery and corruption among some leaders whom he said destroy the Country.

    Echoing Cardinal Njues sentiments, the Governor called on Kenyans to be united before and after next general elections of August 2017.

    “We are Kenyans after an election, but before, we retreat into tribal cocoons. Do not let elections divide us. Be one.” He appealed.

    Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga died on 6 September 2003 at the age of 80 having served the Catholic Church for over fifty years. The cause of the beatification of Cardinal Otunga started in 2009 and documents have been lodged with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

  • The Catholic Cultural Centre in Tanzania: An Overview

    CANAA || By Rose Achiego, Waumini Communications || 20 November 2016

    catholic cultural centre in tanzaniaSituated in the Suburbs of Dar es Salaam City in Tanzania along the Indian Ocean port area and 15 Km from Julius Nyerere International Airport, Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) - Kurasini Centre aond Conference Centre  hosts TEC offices which comprises of  seven Directorates and Nine Commissions with 121 employees.

    With accommodation capacity of up to 120 guests, well equipped conference halls for workshops and seminars coupled with a restaurant, Kurasini hosts all the Bishops Permanent Council and Plenary meetings, besides attracting continental groups, civil society organizations and other faith based organizations.

    Within the Centre is also a chapel and a prayer garden for spiritual nourishment, a dispensary in case one falls sick, an archive with Church related history, a gas station, a shipping unit for clearing and forwarding of goods from other countries through Indian Ocean and a TV/Audio recording studio for recording religious programs and other commercial events.

    Informed by Pope Benedict XVI’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, The Bishops of Tanzania strive to provide a conducive environment for retreats, meetings and other activities that require reflections and deliberations at Kurasini Center.

     “Catholic cultural centres offer to the Church the possibility of presence and action in the field of cultural exchange. They constitute in effect public forums which allow the Church to make widely known, in creative dialogue, Christian convictions about man, woman, family, work, economy, society, politics, international life, the environment. Thus they are places of listening, respect and tolerance.”

    TEC consists of the Plenary Assembly, the Permanent Council and the Secretariat whose main role is to coordinate pastoral, social and development programs initiated and implemented by the secretariat, facilitate diocesan pastoral, development and social programs to coordinate meetings of the members and maintain minutes of the same, implement pertinent resolutions of the Plenary Assembly and the Permanent Council as well as render different services to member Bishops.

    TEC which has six metropolitans and 34 diocese, was founded in 1956 and was officially registered with the government of Tanzania in 1957. It is a member-based organization that includes all Catholic Bishops of Tanzania.

    As a corporate body the TEC is a member of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) and Symposium and Episcopal Conference of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

  • Nigeria’s Catholic Biblical Association Wants Mercy in Relationships, Not Revenge

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 21 November 2016

    caban want mercy in relationships 2016The Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) has called for the practice of mercy in relationships rather than “punishment or revenge.”

    This was contained in a communiqué at the end of their recent four-day annual convention, whose theme was “Mercy and Justice in the Bible.”

    “We encourage all to ensure that mercy, not punishment or revenge, has a primary place in our relationships,” reads the communiqué in part, and continues, “We urge all to welcome and celebrate with gratitude God’s disposition to show mercy to others and to rejoice with those who have been shown mercy.”

    Addressed to “the people of God and to all men and women of goodwill,” the communiqué goes on to appreciate the immensity of God’s mercy and that “in whatever condition we find ourselves, we should make it a duty to show profound gratitude for the mercy of God.”

    “All who are suffering and who feel that God is distant should have recourse to the mercy of God who forgives and who cannot abandon his children,” the convention communicated, adding, “God does not give up on anyone; and we should not give up on God.”

    The convention took inspiration from the theme of the Extra-ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which concluded Sunday, November 20, on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

    Below is the full text of the communiqué

    A Communiqué: Issued by the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) at the End of its Ninth Annual Convention Held at Bishop Patrick Kelly Pastoral Centre, Benin City, from 25th to 28th October 2016

    Preamble

    The Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria held its 9th Annual Convention at the Bishop Patrick Kelly Pastoral Centre in Benin City from 25th to 28th October 2016. The theme of the conference, “Mercy and Justice in the Bible”, took its inspiration from the theme of the Extra-ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, 8 December 2015, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to 20 November 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King. The convention was graced by the presence of His Lordship, Most Rev. Martin Olorunmolu, Bishop of Lokoja, while the chief host was His Grace, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze, the Archbishop of Benin City. After prayerful discussions and deliberations, we issue the following communiqué to the people of God and to all men and women of goodwill:

    1. Appreciating the Immensity of God’s Mercy

    We are grateful to God for his unfathomable mercy which supersedes all we could know of him. Like Mary of Nazareth in her Magnificat, our duty, as community and individuals, is to always sing the praise of God whose mercy for us endures forever. His mercy is unconditional. It is available to all, no matter the magnitude of our sin. In whatever condition we find ourselves, we should make it a duty to show profound gratitude for the mercy of God.

    2. Mercy and Justice as Attributes of God

    In revealing himself, God entered into a long history of relationship with his people throughout which he has shown that mercy and justice are essential attributes of his nature. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne (Ps 89:14; 97:2). To Moses, he revealed that he is “a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exod 34:6-7). Justice is specifically God’s action in favour of his people, and through mercy God expresses his untiring fidelity and completely gratuitous and unmerited motherly affection for us. The entire salvation history is an expression of God’s justice and mercy on behalf of sinful human beings. This mercy of God is revealed in a climactic manner in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has revealed that in his justice, he does not condone sin and unfaithfulness, but it belongs to his nature to temper justice with mercy.

    3. Human Response to God’s Mercy and Justice

    God’s actions of mercy and justice demand our response, which is to accept his mercy and be instruments of his mercy in the world. We are also invited to learn from God in his dealings with human beings, especially the weak and the unworthy. Our response to God’s mercy also includes our effort to acknowledge our sins and to return to the merciful Father in genuine repentance. We are called to believe that God’s grace precedes every effort at repentance. All who are suffering and who feel that God is distant should have recourse to the mercy of God who forgives and who cannot abandon his children. God does not give up on anyone; and we should not give up on God.

    4. Implications for Christian and Social Life

    We encourage all to ensure that mercy, not punishment or revenge, has a primary place in our relationships. We should be known by our readiness to embrace others through forgiveness and to share our home with them without placing any conditions. We urge all to welcome and celebrate with gratitude God’s disposition to show mercy to others and to rejoice with those who have been shown mercy. Our attitude to “sinners” must include the consciousness of our limitedness in understanding the mystery of salvation. God retains the prerogative of the last verdict.

    5. Conclusion

    The demands which the mercy of God makes on us imply that at the end of this Jubilee Year, after the closure of the door of mercy, mercy will continue to be an open door in our hearts and hold its place and bear its fruit in our lives. We pray that the fruits of mercy will become more concrete in our lives as we make better efforts to imitate Jesus Christ, the visible face of the Father who “is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4). May the Spirit of God incline our hearts and inspire our actions to become merciful like the heavenly Father.

    Signed

    Rev. Fr. Dr. Luke Ijezie                                                          Sr. Prof Teresa Okure, SHCJ

    Secretary                                                                                 President

  • Lesotho’s New Cardinal Absent at Consistory in Rome

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 20 November 2016

    lesotho new cardinal not in consistoryLesotho’s first Cardinal and Bishop emeritus of Mohale’s Hoek, Koto Sabastian Khoarai, OMI, elevated to the office of Cardinal Saturday was not able to make the trip to Rome for the consistory due to advanced age and infirmity. He will receive the insignia of his new office by a Papal emissary. Cardinal Khoarai has also been appointed Cardinal-Priest of San Leonardo da Porto Maurizio ad Acilia

    Earlier Cardinal Khoarai, who is 87, years old told Lesotho Times reporter Lekhetho Ntsukunyane, “The Lord will help me carry out this task.” He also told Lesotho Times that his appointment as Cardinal came as a surprise,

    “I was actually caught by surprise. I was not expecting anything like this,” the new Cardinal said. As congratulatory messages kept coming through, it was only after Mgr Kevin Randall, the counsellor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Pretoria wrote to congratulate him that he knew for certain about his appointment.

    At the time of the interview with Lesotho Times, in October, the Cardinal was looking forward to travelling to Rome for the consistory, but this has not been possible due to ill health.

    Cardinal Khoarai had served as Bishop for 36 years when he retired in 2014. Notwithstanding his advanced age, the new Cardinal maintains a fairly active pastoral life. At the time of his appointment as Cardinal, he says he was contemplating to take charge of the stalled construction of St. Patrick’s Church in Mohale’s Hoek

    “The construction of the Church had already started during my tenure, but it stopped due to resource constraints three years ago. It bothers me a lot that I didn’t finish what I started, and now there is even a new assignment for me. Even though I am now retired as the Mohale’s Hoek Bishop, I still wanted to complete the construction of St Patrick’s Church building because I started it,” the Cardinal indicated.

    The College of Cardinals is divided into three ranks: Cardinal Bishops, Cardinal Priests and Cardinal Deacons. Most of the Cardinals are Bishops even if they are referred to as Cardinal Priests or Cardinal Deacons. The Cardinal Bishops and Cardinal Deacons are members of the Roman Curia, heading departments of the Holy See.

    Cardinal Priests are mostly the senior Archbishops of the world who reside in dioceses. Each has the title of an ancient Diocese in Rome. The senior Cardinal Bishop is the ‘Dean’ or head of the College. The current Dean is the retired Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Dean presides at the election of a new Pope. The senior Cardinal Deacon is the Cardinal who announces the newly elected Pope to the world.

    Source: Vatican Radio… 

  • Bishops Apologize for Church’s Role in Rwandan Genocide

    Catholic Herald || By Associated Press || 21 November 2016

    bishops in rwanda apologize for genocideThe Church acknowledged that members planned and took part in the genocide, in which more than 800,000 people were killed

    The Catholic Church in Rwanda apologised on Sunday for the Church’s role in the 1994 genocide, saying it regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres.

    “We apologise for all the wrongs the Church committed. We apologise on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that Church members violated their oath of allegiance to God’s commandments,” said the statement by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was read out in parishes across the country.

    The statement acknowledged that Church members planned, aided and executed the genocide, in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists.

    In the years since the genocide — which was sparked by a contentious plane crash that killed the then-president, a Hutu — the local Church had resisted efforts by the government and groups of survivors to acknowledge the Church’s complicity in mass murder, saying those Church officials who committed crimes acted individually.

    Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns, according to some accounts by survivors, and the Rwandan government says many died in the churches where they had sought refuge.

    The bishops’ statement is seen as a positive development in Rwanda’s efforts at reconciliation.

    “Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other,” the statement said.

    The statement was timed to coincide with the formal end Sunday of the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis to encourage greater reconciliation and forgiveness in his Church and in the world, said Bishop Phillipe Rukamba, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

    Tom Ndahiro, a Rwandan genocide researcher, said he hoped the Church’s statement will encourage unity among Rwandans.

    “I am also happy to learn that in their statement, bishops apologize for not having been able to avert the genocide,” he said.

    Source: Catholic Herald… 

  • Malawi’s Young Christian Workers Celebrate Diamond Jubilee

    Vatican Radio || By Prince Henderson in Malawi || 17 November 2016

    ycw in malawi mark diamond jubiliee 2016Young Christian Workers (YCW) Malawi, a religious movement within the Catholic Church comprising young Christians from the age of between 15 to 40 years at the weekend celebrated their 60-year anniversary at Mua Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Dedza.

    As part of the celebration, Malawi YCW members from all the eight dioceses of Malawi celebrated with the Holy Mass led by the Bishop of Chikwawa Diocese, Peter Musikuwa. The Bishop is also the Episcopal Conference of Malawi Bishop-Chair for the Pastoral Commission. YCW used the occasion to donate Mattresses to nearby Mua School for the Deaf.

    During the Holy Mass, Bishop Musikuwa challenged young people to be agents of change in the Church and the country at large.

    “Let us utilize the strength that we have as young people to contribute positively to our society. We should not be the ones causing problems in the country rather we should be agents of change by ensuring that we do the right thing at all times,” said Bishop Musikuwa.

    The Bishop made a passionate appeal to young people in Malawi to refrain from corrupt practices, mismanagement of public resources and the perpetration of politically instigated violence.

    Bishop Musikuwa also called for more stable marriages among the adult youth of Malawi. He praised YCW for their generous donation to Mua School.

     “Let me thank you for thinking about the students who are facing various challenges here at Mua School for the Deaf. Such generosity is what is needed from productive young people in Malawi. Being the year of Mercy, it is right and just to share our love with the needy,” said Bishop Musikuwa.

    Malawi’s National President for YCW, Augustine Mulomole said the donation was the start of an ongoing process of several donations the movement intends to make. The organisation intends to donate at least 2,000 Mattresses in Malawi by the end of this year.

    “It is our mission that we assist the school which has been facing a lot of problems especially when it comes to the issue of Mattresses. We managed to raise funds through fundraising activities and of course, other well-wishers, both individuals and institutions came in to assist us,” said Mulomole.

    Mulomole said the YCW in Malawi would strive to go out and preach the word of God through actions and as such they plan to build a strong financial base for member associations starting at the parish, deanery and diocesan levels.

    Fr. Sam Safroy established the YCW movement in Malawi at Mua Parish in 1956. YCW Malawi is a member of the International Coordination of Young Christian Workers (ICYCW), an international body which comprises some YCW National Movements across the globe. Every four years ICYCW has an International Council, and YCW Malawi sends its representatives to the gathering.

    Source: Vatican Radio...

  • Zimbabwe’s Gokwe Diocese Celebrates Silver Jubilee

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa || 17 November 2016

    gokwe diocese in zimbabwe marks silver jubileeThe Catholic Diocese of Gokwe in Zimbabwe recently celebrated its silver jubilee amid pomp and funfair with hundreds of people from all over the country joining the local Church to mark the historic event.

    Held at St. John Cathedral, the celebrations were meant to commemorate the diocese’s achievements in twenty five years of its existence.

    The Papal Nuncio to Zimbabwe, Archbishop Marek Zalewski, in the company of bishops and priests celebrated holy mass to bless the diocese and to thank God for the realistic milestones the diocese has accomplished so far in different sectors of life.

    “From two primary schools, the diocese now has 20 primary, secondary and high schools and the diocese run some hospitals and clinics,” said the local ordinary of Gokwe, Bishop Angel Floro, during the occasion.

    Bishop Floro thanked Bishop Bhasera for laying the foundation of the diocese from humble beginnings.

    He narrated, “Apart from the four missions and two more created in 1991, there was nothing else except people. He did not have even a house to live in. I was privileged to work with him since 1992. I accompanied him when I doubled as Vicar General and Financial Administrator during those years, so I know pretty well the hardships and challenges he encountered and his enthusiasm and commitment to develop the diocese, to open new missions and put up infrastructure required for the diocese to operate properly.”

    Bishop Floro went on to say, “It was not only about physical infrastructure but also to shape and strengthen the local community of Gokwe Diocese with the creation of the Presbyteral and Diocesan pastoral Council, the Pastoral Plan and Annual Pastoral Priorities. To me, working with him was a marvelous school where I learned how to run the diocese.”

    At the moment, Gokwe Diocese is home to a plethora of home grown vocations with over 150 vocations to religious and priestly life.

    The Diocese was created at the request of the late Rt. Rev Ignatius Prieto on 19 October 1991 by Pope St. John Paul II and Bishop Michael Bhasera was the first bishop to govern the diocese before he was appointed to take charge of Mavingo Diocese in 1999.

    The first mission in the diocese was Kana, which was opened in 1954. It was followed by Chireya Mission opened in 1962. Nembudziya and Uganda Martyrs were opened in 1966 and 1970 respectively.

    Since 1970, Gokwe was one of Hwange Diocese’s deaneries with four missions run by 8 priests, some brothers and a group of sisters as the bishop of Gokwe, Angel Floro puts it. At the creation of the diocese 10 priests, 15 sisters and 3 brothers were working in the then deanery.

    Gokwe diocese has tremendously grown since 1991 from six to seventeen missions in a period of 25 years, from ten to thirty six priests and from two diocesan priests in 1991 to thirty. The diocese has immensely contributed to people’s right to education and health.

    At its creation, Gokwe diocese was typically rural with little hope of growth but now the place has become into probably the fastest growing diocese in the country, a growth that is pointing to a city with hopes of industrial expansion and economic boom.

  • Several African Nuns Graduate in Leadership and Development from Zambia’s Kalundu Study Centre

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 17 November 2016

    nuns graduate at kalundu in zambia 2016Some 26 religious sisters drawn from Angola, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia have graduated from Zambia’s Kalundu Study Centre after successfully completing their course in leadership and development. 

    Kalundu Study Centre is an international centre that caters for training religious women from all over Africa.

    Speaking at the graduation event, which took place last weekend, Father Leonard Namuhumba, a Zambian, particularly called on African religious women to embrace hospitality and to open their hearts to fellow community members and the people they serve.

    Father Namuhumba lamented the fact that hospitality for which Africans are known is slowly being replaced by individualism and self-centeredness.

    “Hospitality is a spoken message, given out in gestures and signs. And when this gesture or sign is given out, the words are very clear: I care about you and your destiny,” Father Namuhumba has been quoted as saying in a news report published by Vatican Radio.

    He explained that when people do not feel welcome, they become isolated, rejected and depressed.

    “Those who help others, even in a small way are already participating in the missionary work of the Church. When your heart is open to those spreading the Word of God, you are already taking part in the mission of our Lord,” Father Namuhumba who is Lusaka Archdiocese’s Cathedral Administrator said has been quoted as saying, lamenting that the society is gradually becoming closed in itself.

    Fr. Namuhumba further encouraged the Sisters to be women of prayer saying that prayer leads to faith, love and service.

    Zambia’s Kalundu Study Centre, situated in Lusaka, offers a one-year Leadership and Development course tailored for religious women. The course equips the nuns with skills needed in their religious congregations.

    In her vote of thanks, Sr. Josepha Twapita, MSSHS, spoke on behalf of other graduating students.

    She gave credit to all those that supported them during their training. She said the graduands were especially indebted to the various spiritual directors, priests, sisters, visiting lecturers and the administrators of Kalundu Study Centre.

    The programme at Kalundu Study Centre “is directed toward providing a human, cultural, spiritual and pastoral preparation which pays special attention to the harmonious integration of all it’s various aspects.”

  • U.S. Bishops Make Subcommittee on Church in Africa Permanent

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || 15 November 2016

    us bishops make permanent african committeeThe U.S. bishops approved making permanent their Subcommittee on the Church in Africa and the hiring of two people to assist the subcommittee in carrying out its work.

    The actions, in separate votes, came Nov. 15, the second day of their fall general assembly in Baltimore.

    The bishops in a later vote also approved another 10-year extension for its most popular national collection, the Retirement Fund for Religious collection, which is taken up in most U.S. dioceses in early December.

    Regarding the Africa subcommittee, the bishops in 2004 had formed an ad hoc subcommittee to determine the needs of the Catholic Church on the continent of Africa. In 2007, they created a temporary subcommittee as part of a restructuring of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That temporary status was extended in 2010, but was expiring this year.

    The subcommittee works as part of the Committee on National Collections and oversees the voluntary Solidarity Fund for the Church in Africa. From the fund the U.S. bishops give grants to support pastoral projects in Africa that support the growth of the church, such as leadership training, church administration, evangelization, communications, and justice and peace.

    As the subcommittee's chairman, Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin, the Indianapolis archbishop recently named archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, said $20 million had been distributed to bishops' conferences in Africa thanks to the Solidarity Fund. To date, 69 U.S. dioceses contribute to that fund, either through a collection or some other means.

    The fund, Cardinal-designate Tobin said, came about when now-retired Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, was chairman of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development fund. During his visits to Africa, "he was asked for support for the pastoral structures needed to help the church. CRS cannot offer that kind of help," he added.

    Bishop Ricard himself has said, "Africa, for centuries, has been a dark continent ... except for a tragic relationship between Africa and the United States," a reference to slavery.

    "Bishop Ricard knew it was important for the U.S bishops to recognize our history and our current relationships with Africa to partner with this fast-growing part of the church," Cardinal-designate Tobin said.

    Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, retired archbishop of Washington, who called Bishop Ricard "a hero," drew an analogy to the USCCB's relationship with bishops' conferences in other parts of the world.

    "I looked at what happened in Eastern Europe where we have a whole group of ecclesiastical entities. … They were not working. Nothing was getting together. We tried everything and it wasn't happening," said Cardinal McCarrick, a former chairman of the Africa subcommittee. "Once we began to focus on the church in Eastern Europe, they began to respond to it. They came to see what we did. They valued getting together, working together with us, and it made an enormous difference."

    He added, "What a great opportunity. We've seen it happen in Latin America, we've seen it happen in Eastern Europe, and we'll see it happen here."

    The vote was overwhelmingly in favor, with 94 percent of bishops approving making the subcommittee permanent.

    Approval of the two staff positions was a bit closer, with only 81 percent approval, as concerns were raised that the salaries, paid for by the Solidarity Fund, would deplete the amount available to distribute to African bishops' conferences.

    At present, the fund pays for two part-time consultants. Mary Mencarini Campbell, executive director of the USCCB Office of National Collections, said the Africa initiative would follow the model established for other regions of interest to the USCCB, with one office director and one grants coordinator.

    As the bishops have been loath in recent years to fund new staff positions from their own general fund, they were told by Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, that the two staff positions would generate about $80,000 to an "administrative overhead allotment" that does not occur with the part-time consultants.

    With a vote of 155-8 and one abstention, the bishops also OK'd another 10-year extension for the Retirement Fund for Religious collection. Along with approving the collection's extension, the vote called for a professional actuarial report to be provided to the bishops every five years.

    Despite the outpouring of generosity by Catholics to the collection, many challenges remain, according to Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations:

    "The longer life span of men and women religious, the decline in vocations and the cost of care" have all played a part, said Bishop Burbidge, who was recently named bishop of Arlington, Virginia. "The cost of care has tripled since the collection was launched" in 1988, he said.

    The annual appeal regularly collects more than $25 million from Catholics in parishes around the country.

    In 2015, the last year for which data was available, the National Religious Retirement Office at the USCCB distributed $25 million in direct-care assistance to 401 eligible religious institutes, said Bishop Burbidge, who was recently named bishop of Arlington, Virginia. The office combines financial assistance with extensive consultative support to help religious orders increase their capacity to care for their retired members.

    Bishop Burbidge said the retirement office is "also making a concentrated effort to make younger women's institutes plan for future retirement needs," with 11 such congregations with a median age of their members under 55 participating.

    The need is growing more acute, as trends will show that by 2026, the number of religious over 70 years of age will outnumber those under age 70 by a 4-to-1 ratio, Bishop Burbidge noted.

  • Church in Ethiopia Hosts Consultative Meeting on Child Protection

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopia Catholic Secretariat || 14 November 2016

    Child Protection is a Ministry Entrusted to All by God

    consultative meeting on child protection in ethiopia 2016The Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission (ECC SDCO) has brought together those working with children, elderly and people with disability in various Church projects in different parts of the country.

    The two-day consultative meeting, which took place in Addis Ababa last Thursday and Friday, November 10-11 mainly aimed at enhancing child protection and sharing of experiences among implementers from different Dioceses.

    In his opening remark Mr. Bekele Moges, ECC SDCO Executive Director said that social rehabilitation is one of the priorities of the Church. He said the work of social rehabilitation extends to children, elderly, the people with disability and the marginalized for whom the Church has always been a voice.

    “Gathering here together from different Dioceses for a discussion allows us to identify the needs of the vulnerable and evaluate our ways of responding to the needs, it also shows us a path to how we can proceed in the future,” he underlined encouraging the participants of the workshop to share their experiences in detail.

    The executive director stressed that working with children and with the elderly is not an easy task as many of the challenges come from within the society due to pessimist attitude towards some of the vulnerable children being served.

    “Social reintegration is our priority, working with the society and families is vital to reintegrating the children we work with to their community,” said Mr. Bekele.

    He added that the Church has so far been successful in engaging families and the community to be part of the lives of the beneficiary children and the vulnerable being supported by different projects and asked the social workers to move forward keeping in mind the importance of making the children they work with feel like they are part and parcel of the society.

    Sr. Senait Mengesha, MMS, ECC SDCO Women and Family Affairs Team Leader said that children are entrusted to us by God.

    “Children, people with disabilities and the elderly cannot care for themselves but we are given the responsibility to care for them. This is not just a job for us but a Ministry given to us by Our Lord, thus we must serve them with faithfully” said Sr. Senait.

    She explained in addition to directly working with children, the Church’s Child protection policy is considered for every social project run by ECC SDCO to ensure the safeguarding of children.

    Tens of thousands of children in Ethiopia have gone through the Church’s social rehabilitation programmes and have become outstanding citizens throughout the years. Currently the Church runs 41 social rehabilitation centers mainly by religious congregations in different Dioceses working with children, elders and the vulnerable.

  • Bishops in Southern Africa Reach Out to Hurricane Matthew Victims in Haiti

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 14 November 2016

    sacbc appeals for haiti harricane victims 2016Catholic Bishops in Southern Africa are appealing to the faithful in their parishes to “hold prayers and organise collections” for the Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew “for the period of three Sundays of November 2016.”

    The Catholic Bishops under the umbrella body of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) want to build on the efforts that the United Nations and other charitable organizations are making to help Haitians, explaining that the situation in Haiti is dire and “that there is still a need for more.”

    The Bishops request that the “once off special collections … be made for the period of three Sundays of November.”

    The appeal has been made through the SACBC Vice President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, who formally requested that “all the collected donations reach Khanya House before the end of the month of November 2016, so that they can be forwarded to Haiti Catholic Bishops’ Conference.”

    Below is the full statement of the Southern African Bishops’ appeal for charity toward those affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

    In response to the situation of Haiti, His Lordship Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, Vice President of SACBC, on behalf of the SACBC Bishops said that Hurricane Matthew recently has dealt a devastating blow to the Country of Haiti.

    He said that the damage it has caused is the worst in the History of Haiti, and according to the reports it has turned some towns into a mix of mud and debris, destroying 90% of the crops.  

    Bishop Sithembele said that many Haitians have died as the result of Hurricane Mathew and many thousands were left homeless, suffering want of food, clean water and health care.

    He continued saying that the prevailing effects of Hurricane Mathew’s disaster are bad, and the aftermaths in the form of hunger and disease will continue to be felt for a while by Haitians; therefore the magnitude of this disaster calls for an immediate response of assistance to alleviate the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

    Bishop Sithembele again said that United Nations and other charity organisations have already started giving a relief to the affected people.

    He insisted that there is still a need for more; therefore he appealed that all SACBC parishes should hold prayers and organise collections specially for those affected by Hurricane Matthew, while this crisis is still fresh in the memory of the faithful.  

    As a way forward, Bishop Sithembele requested that once off special collections should be made for the period of three Sundays of November.

    He has urged that all the collected donations reach Khanya House before the end of the month of November 2016, so that they can be forwarded to Haiti Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

    He concluded that some donations that may arrive after the set date they will be also forwarded to Haiti at the later date, but he insisted that people should do their best to meet the deadline.  

    All donations should be deposited in the following account:  

    Bank: Nedbank

    Name of A/C: Project Caritas

    Account No.: 160 4750 693

    Branch Code: 160 445

    Reference: Haiti  

    For more information Contact Bishop Sithembele: 0475326301/0475322914

  • South Sudanese Diocese Closes Year of Mercy, Priest Resumes Active Ministry

    CANAA || By Father Bazia Boro Elario Zambakari, South Sudan || 14 November 2016

    yambio closes year of mercy 2016In a symbolic celebration of closing the door of mercy, the clergy, religious, and the Christians faithful of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) in South Sudan gathered Sunday, November 13, at St. Mary Yambio Cathedral parish, in a solemn event that saw Fr. Venasio Zukpa resume active ministry after 23 years.

    Thousands of Christians, priests, Religious Sisters and Brothers across the Diocese assembled for the event, which was presided over by CDTY local Ordinary, Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala.

    Addressing his message to the congregation and the people of South Sudan, Bishop Hiiboro said, “To think about the mercy of God, people need to practice it towards each other so that peace may prevail in our society.”

    The Bishop and the entire congregation were happy to welcome back to active ministry a diocesan Catholic Priest, Father Venasio Zukpa, who has not been in active ministry for a period of 23 years.

    CDTY is one of the seven Catholic dioceses within the territory of South Sudan, the world youngest nation.

    The country has been experiencing violent civil conflict, which started in December 2013.

    According to reports, the recent attack in Yambio on Thursday, November 10, 2016 left at least four people dead, thousands of civilians internally displaced, some crossing to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic for their safety.

  • Mega Corruption, Politics in Places of Worship, Negative Ethnicity, among Major Concerns of Bishops in Kenya ahead of 2017 Elections

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 14 November 2016

    kenyan bishops on state of nation in kakamega 2016The resurgence of mega corruption in government institutions, the using of Churches and Church functions as political campaign platforms, and the tendency of politicians to use tribe and sectional factors in their election bid are among the key concerns of Catholic Bishops in Kenya ahead of the 2017 general elections.

    The Bishops expressed these concerns in a Press Statement on Friday, November 11 during their meeting at Bishop Stam Pastoral and Animation Centre in the Western Kenya town of Kakamega.

    The Bishops’ eleven point statement, which was widely reported in the local media in Kenya, is titled: “For Love of our country, work for peace and unity.”

    Describing corruption in Kenya as a “disease,” the Bishops have lamented that the “evil seems to be perpetrated without shame or fear.”

    They have cited the allegations of mismanagement of at the Ministry of Health, expressing the fear that the financial corruption might be linked to the general elections.

    “We are left wondering what is exactly going on. Is this happening even when other cases have not been dealt with? Or are we being treated to propaganda as a campaign tool for 2017? Is it possible that all have become helpless in the face of this growing monster?” the Bishops have asked in their collective Press Statement and added, “Tolerating corruption and letting those considered “untouchable” free to loot the taxpayers money for the sake of political expediency shows weak leadership in the fight against corruption.”

    Addressing the challenge of politics in places of worship, the Church leaders cautioned the clergy against promoting political candidates in Churches and pulpits and politicians against using Churches and Church functions for their political campaigns.

    “As much as politicians and those aspiring to elective positions are free to worship and pray where they want, they should not use such opportunities to make their campaign statements.”

    The Prelates decried negative ethnicity, citing the tendency of politicians to engage in “political realignments based on tribal and sectional considerations” through the “mentality of having “one of our own” at the expense of other communities.”

    “We wish to caution, again and again, our politicians to avoid inflammatory language, and the tendency to set one community against the other,” the Bishops stated, further condemning what seems to be perpetual fighting among elected leaders in counties, which has turned physical in some cases.

    “We note with concern the resurgence of violence, confrontational languages and hate speeches that can plunge us again, as a country, into the situation we were in, in the year 2007-2008 that almost deteriorated into a civil conflict,” the Bishops have said in their Press Statement.

    Below is the full Press Statement by the Catholic Bishops in Kenya

    PRESS STATEMENT: “For Love of our country, work for peace and unity”

    1. INTRODUCTION

    We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, meeting at the Bishop Stam Pastoral and Animation Centre, Kakamega, greet you dear Kenyans and all people of goodwill. We feel the need to address you on the issues that concern all of us, for a peaceful and God loving Nation. Aware that in the past press releases we have addressed you on a range of issues that affect us directly, we still feel the obligation to raise our voice and call to your attention on those that are of immediate concern. Grateful of the efforts that have been made so far and aware of the progress achieved in several areas, we are however fully conscious of the enormous task still ahead and the call for individual, collective and committed responsibility on the part of each Kenyan to join hands together and build a peaceful Kenya. Kenya is a country that is blessed in so many ways. Despite the challenges the country has faced since independence, we are grateful that we have come this far. It is only fair that we pause to think of where we have come from and where we are going.

    2. JOURNEY TOWARDS PEACEFUL ELECTIONS

    One area that has always been a challenge to us Kenyans is that of general elections. It seems our worst behavior as a nation comes out before, during and after elections. As we prepare ourselves for the general elections of 2017, we note with concern the resurgence of violence, confrontational languages and hate speeches that can plunge us again, as a country, into the situation we were in, in the year 2007-2008 that almost deteriorated into a civil conflict. It is now clear that the election fever is increasingly gaining momentum and many are positioning themselves to be elected. This means that already the country has been put on campaign mood at the expense of service delivery and development. We note with concern that leaders are abandoning their responsibilities and shuttling from one corner to another seeking to secure a place for 2017 elections. Politicians are tearing into one another and making dangerous statements capable of whipping up ethnic tensions, clashes and violent political rivalry. Accusations and counter accusations are being traded at the expense of the truth. It is evident that politicians and aspirants are already set for 2017 elections. Where does this leave Kenya? It has now become a pattern that every time we approach the election year violence erupts in many parts of the country. Already lives have been lost in the conflict between the Pokots and the Marakwets. There are ongoing clashes between Kisii, Masai and Kipsigis communities. Recently violence was reported in Turkana County following the byelection for the Member of County Assembly (MCA) of Kalokol Ward. A shooting spree between rival Jubilee and Cord supporters left two children with gunshot wounds. The people of Kalokol Ward witnessed an election related fracas never seen in that area before. This surge in violence in this country, especially those related to politicians jostling for power in 2017 is reaching levels that should worry all of us. The lives of Kenyans are very precious and anybody threatening or attacking them has no place in any decent and civilized society. We condemn these acts of violence in the strongest terms and we call for the arrest of any person inflicting violence and continuous suffering to others.

    It is now clear that if strong action is not taken, there is real concern that the Government might not be able to control the violence that may erupt during election time. Dear Kenyans, elections come and go. We must never allow ourselves to be used for political expediency every election period, only to be left wounded, maimed, hopeless and divided more than ever before. Who is benefitting from these conflicts? Why must political opportunists always take advantage of us and use us to destroy our great country? We must persistently reject any attempt to take us back to the dark days of election related violence. We call upon everybody to be conscious of the obligation to work towards a peaceful process of elections. We are hopeful that the institutions created for this purpose will be credible and ensure transparent processes that will lead to free and fair elections.

    3. PERPETUAL INFIGHTING AMONG ELECTED LEADERS

    We have noted with concern the infighting among the elected leaders in some of our counties. It is very painful that these leaders, obviously because of greed, are continuously impeaching one another, trading accusations and counter accusations and even physically fighting to the detriment of development and well being of the citizens who elected them. There are counties where service delivery has stopped and all activities paralyzed, yet these leaders continue earning their fat salaries, awarding themselves, their relatives and cronies, lucrative contracts, while some are looting the coffers of the county.   All those committing economic crimes should not only be brought to face the law, but their ill-gotten wealth must be confiscated and returned to where it belongs.   The kind of leadership we are witnessing is no longer about service and the effort to bring development to counties and the country, but it is all about which position has more money and power so as to access the resources for it will be their turn “to eat”. These elected leaders are ready to protect their positions with all means, including violence. We particularly appeal to all political leaders, aspirants and supporters, civil servants to mind the good of our country, and to conduct themselves peacefully, to restrain their supporters from any form of violence and conflict. We call upon each one of you to endeavor to identify honest and credible candidates, and to vote on the basis of credibility and integrity rather than handouts and empty political rhetoric. We call upon these leaders to stop the incessant infighting and commit themselves to the work which they have been elected to do.

    4. POLITICAL REALIGNMENTS

    Political realignments based on tribal and sectional considerations should not be the criteria of 2017 election campaigns in the counties and in our country. We must eradicate this mentality of having “one of our own” at the expense of other communities. This will threaten the peace in areas where there are many communities living together.

    5. HATE SPEECH

    We wish to caution, again and again, our politicians to avoid inflammatory language, and the tendency to set one community against the other. There are those politicians known for uttering what amounts to hate speech. As election period is around the corner let them promote peace and harmony among all communities.

    6. POLITICS IN PLACES OF WORSHIP

    The Church is called to be the conscience of the society. Consequently those working in the Church must be seen to be above party politics. They cannot be seen to favor this or that political camp. We call upon the clergy not to use the Church or the pulpit to promote any political candidate. It is important to note that Church law forbids priests from engaging in politics or presenting themselves for elections to political positions. The nature of their calling makes them signs of unity to the people living in their jurisdiction. We have further stated in our earlier statements that as Catholic bishops we are not going to allow our Churches and Church functions to be used as campaign platforms and forum of hate speech. As much as politicians and those aspiring to elective positions are free to worship and pray where they want, they should not use such opportunities to make their campaign statements. Consequently politicians should not be allowed to address the congregations in our houses of worship. Let them be respected.

    7. RESURGENCE OF MEGA CORRUPTION

    We the Catholic bishops in our April press release addressed the disease of corruption in Kenya. It is unfortunate that this evil seems to be perpetrated without shame or fear. That now there are allegations of mismanagement of funds meant for health services yet again brings the country to another low. We are left wondering what is exactly going on. Is this happening even when other cases have not been dealt with? Or are we being treated to propaganda as a campaign tool for 2017? Is it possible that all have become helpless in the face of this growing monster? We have insisted again and again that those who have been entrusted to govern this country must be people free from corruption, who hate corruption and are willing to fight corruption to the end. Half hearted actions will not do; tolerating corruption and letting those considered “untouchable” free to loot the taxpayers money for the sake of political expediency shows weak leadership in the fight against corruption. The time to act is now if we want this country to be a place of “plenty and prosperity” as we sing in our national anthem. We don’t want to be counted among the generation that lost the dream our ancestors had when they fought for the independence and prosperity of Kenya. We as religious leaders are willing to facilitate a forum to address the issues of corruption with sobriety, away from political rhetoric. We seek to reason together to see how we can strategically address this vice. As a point of departure all those implicated, with credible evidence should step aside.

    8. VALUE BASED EDUCATION CURRICULUM REVIEW

    We wish to note with a lot of appreciation the positive measures that have been taken with regards to the credibility of our national examinations. The fact that KCPE started and proceeded without major incidences is a sign that it is possible to have untainted examinations in Kenya. As the KCSE exams are underway, signs are that some form of sanity and integrity is slowly being restored, and it is hoped that this process will go on to completion and be reflected in the results. As we commend the Cabinet Secretary for Education, the TSC and the Examinations Council, and indeed all who have been actively involved, we would note that if everybody was serious about fighting corruption and impunity, it would be possible to eradicate it once and for all. This kind of spirit should be extended to all other sectors and emulated by other ministries. The recognition that chaplaincies are very key aspects of formation of the youth in our educational institutions is a laudable move should be encouraged. We join and support such efforts to promote quality and formative education. We, however,would like to point out a danger that is looming in regard to the formation of our children in the schools. The ongoing curriculum review has to be value based which takes into account our religious and cherished African values. Our children ought to be given religious education right from the time they join school. These children need such a formation at an early age so as to grow to be respectful, God-fearing, hardworking, honest and orderly people. We, as a nation, are in a position to map out our own destiny and know our own sets of values that are good to our children without depending on outside people who don’t share our values and have their own agenda to propagate. We must reject outside interference from those who are bent to derail our young people from our God given values that are at the heart of our moral fabric. We therefore as bishops reject a curriculum which excludes religious education at all levels of education, and where sexuality is not within a context of good values.

    9. TERRORISM

    It is very painful to note the frequent loss of lives due to terrorists in those areas of our country that border Somalia. We deplore all attacks to Kenyans and other innocent persons. It depends on each of us, not to give space to those recruiting or radicalizing our youth. As we urge the government to do more, we appeal to all that terrorism does not solve anything. The intention of these evil people is clear – to create animosity between Christians and Muslims in this country. We should never succumb to this temptation for evil can only be overcome by good. What unites us as human beings is more than where we come from or the religion that we adhere to. Let us always work for what unites us as human beings.

    10. SOUTH SUDAN

    The situation of endless strife in South Sudan is worrying. There are many refugees entering Kakuma camp from South Sudan. We call upon the Kenyan Government to work with other nations for a lasting solution to the problems facing South Sudan. Kenya has to take her traditional role of brokering peace in South Sudan.

    11. CONCLUSION

    The well being and prosperity of our Country depends on all of us. This is the only Kenya we have and we must guard our liberties jealously so that those who come after us will find a country where there is peace and harmony. We should never allow few individuals to spoil the peace in Kenya and interfere with our inheritance. We have to learn to choose what is good and reject what is evil and all that is bedeviling our country as we strive to improve the lives of our people. Together we can build a country that is just and free from corruption, a country that is orderly and respects the rule of law and a country where the dignity of every person is respected and valued. We call upon all our Catholics and all people of good will to pray for Kenya so that we can have peace and build a one united nation. GOD BLESS KENYA

    Signed:

    Date: 11th November 2016

    Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo, Chairman, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)

    Bishop of Homabay Diocese

  • Preparations Begin for Uganda Martyrs’ Day 2017

    Vatican Radio || By Jucinta W. Odongo || New Contact Publication || 10 November 2016

    preparations for uganda martyrs 2017An organising committee for the next Uganda Martyrs Day on 3 June, 2017 has been appointed by Bishop Vincent Kirabo of Hoima, the Diocese that will lead the celebrations.

    The annual day commemorates the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs Catholic and Anglican who were burnt to death on the orders of the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. The twenty-two Catholic Martyrs among them were beatified on 6 June, 1920 by Pope Benedict XV. They were declared saints on 18 October 1964 by Pope Paul VI.

    Below is an article by Jacinta W. Odongo from the New Contact, a publication of the Uganda Episcopla Conference.

    Bishop of Hoima appoints committees to spearhead the 2017 Martyrs Day celebration

    With exactly seven months to the 2017 Uganda Martyrs day celebrations, Rt. Rev. Vincent Kirabo, the Bishop of Hoima Diocese has appointed an organizing committee at Diocesan level to spearhead the June 3 celebration which will be held at Namugongo Catholic Shrine.

    Bishop Kirabo, who was installed in February this year in a colorful celebration, commissioned nine organizing committees and leaders on Friday October 14, 2016 in Hoima Diocese. The diocese of

    Hoima will animate the 2017 Uganda Martyrs celebration on behalf of Mbarara Ecclesiastical province.

    The nine organizing committees which have been allocated tasks include Liturgy, Security and Ushering, Finance, Publicity, Research and Documentation, Pilgrims, Transport and Accommodation, Catering and Welfare, Health, Decoration, beautifiation and sanitation.

    The bishop appointed Msgr. Matthias Nyakatura as the overall overseer of all the nine committees, Rev. Fr. Robert Mugisa, who is the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinator, as the Overall Coordinator and Dr. Emmanuel Kiiza Aliba, the Executive Secretary of the Justice and Peace Department of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, as the chairperson.

    Dr. Aliba said that the newly set up committees plan to handle the preparations of the 2017 Martyrs celebration in the most effective and efficient way.

    “This isn’t our first time to lead the Martyrs day celebration. From our past experience, we did a good job and we believe we can handle this even much better,” he said adding that they sent a team of 10 people to Kiyinda-Mityana Diocese to study how they conducted their preparations for the 2016 celebration so as to borrow a leaf.

    He noted that the preparations and actual celebrations have been estimated to a budget of at least shs500m. “During our first meeting we decided that all the work of fundraising should be done in three vicariates of the diocese which includes Hoima, Kibale and Masindi,” he explained.

    He added, “Our system of fundraising is going to be very simple. We have over 800,000 Catholic faithful in our diocese and we plan to ask each Christian to contribute only shs1000.We also plan to involve school children whereby each child will be asked to bring an egg. We believe this plan is going to work out because each vicariate will involve all their parishes.”

    The committees will be holding their meetings every third Friday of the month.

    The Diocese of Hoima last presided over the Martyrs Day celebrations in 2001. The annual celebration commemorates the heroic faith of the 45 Martyrs, both Catholic and Anglican, who were burnt to death on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga II, the then king of Buganda between 1885 and 1887. Twenty two Catholic Martyrs were beatified on June 6, 1920, by Pope Benedict XV, and on October 18 1964, Pope Paul VI canonized them as Saints.

    Of the 22 Martyrs who were canonized, two of them, St. Andrew Kaggwa and St. Anatoli Kiriggwajjo came from Hoima Diocese. In addition to the 22 Catholic Martyrs, there are two Catechists from Paimol: Blessed Daudi Okelo and Blessed Jildo Irwa who were killed in 1918.

    The two Catechists were beatified by St. Pope John Paul II on October 20, 2002.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Papal Envoy to Malawi and Zambia Decry Baby Dumping Menace

    CANAA || By Prince Henderson, Malawi Episcopal Conference || 10 November 2016

    filoni decries baby dumping menace in malawiThe Papal envoy to Malawi and Zambia, Fernando Cardinal Filoni last Monday, November 7, expressed concern over irresponsible parenthood, decrying the practice of some mothers dumping their babies soon after delivery.

    Cardinal Filoni was speaking at Mother Teresa Orphanage Centre in Kawale in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.

    “These are just innocent souls and need to be loved and cared [for],” the Papal envoy said, adding, “They are the future leaders.”

    The Cardinal who was visibly touched encouraged the orphans to be prayerful and emulate Jesus.

    Sister Mira of Mother Teresa of Calcutta Congregation said the center has 53 orphans under their care, usually brought there by either officials from the District Social Welfare or the Police.

    “As a community we would like to thank His Eminence for paying us a visit. His coming is a blessing to us and we are very grateful to the Holy Father who sent with him some gifts for the children,” Sister Mira said.

    She added that as a congregation they believe that life is a gift from God, so too the children at the center are a gift from God.

    “We would want to discourage the tendency of aborting innocent children as well, therefore, let those that feel wouldn’t manage to take care for their children, bring them to this Centre rather than aborting or abandoning the innocent souls,” said sister Mira.

    National Police Spokesperson James Kadadzera said cases of baby dumping are mostly unreported to the Police hence it is difficult to measure how many babies are dumped within a specific period of time.

    Cardinal Filoni arrived in Malawi Thursday, November 3 and proceeded to Zambia Monday, November 7 to be part of the celebrations marking 125 years of the Catholic Church there.

    He is expected to conclude his two-country mission Thursday, November 10.

  • Bishops Call for Forgiveness among Sudanese Factions to Heal Differences

    Catholic Philly.com || 08 November 2016

    bishops call for forgiveness for sudansThe bishops of two African nations wracked by years of war and cycles of violence called for forgiveness among the sparring factions so that the countries can move forward for the betterment of their people.

    The Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which includes the bishops of Sudan and South Sudan, said “there is nothing more needed than forgiveness” to heal the differences both countries have experienced for decades.

    “If we do not forgive and reconcile with one another, there may be no end to our ills in sight,” the bishops said in a late October statement issued as they concluded their regular plenary meeting.

    The statement comes as Sudan continues its national dialogue to resolve differences among its political factions. The bishops urged South Sudanese officials to undertake a similar dialogue to achieve peace.

    South Sudan became independent in 2011, but within three years, fighting broke out between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy, Riek Machar. The violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes in the African country.

    Citing the conclusion of the Year of Mercy on the feast of Christ the King Nov. 20, the bishops said that during the last year of reflection, they have discovered “that mercy is inseparable from justice and mission.”

    However, the bishops acknowledged, hardships such as hunger, instability, insecurity, mass displacement and economic challenges, have made life difficult for people of both nations.

    “As pastors, we are greatly concerned and afflicted by these man-made hardships. How dare we wish the political leaderships of both countries take pity on the situation of their suffering people,” the bishops said.

    They also acknowledged the work of church personnel, including priests, and the hardships and sacrifices they have experienced.

    Meanwhile, the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference urged church workers in South Sudan not to lose hope despite the difficulties they face in ministering to people affected by the violence.

    “What saddens us most is that the present situation has caused unnecessary death of innocent people, displacement, and the general disruption of normal life,” said a statement issued Nov. 4 by the conference and signed by Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town, South Africa.

    “We, the bishops’ conference and Catholics of Southern Africa, are convinced, despite the distressing South Sudanese situation, that hope, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is something which we can’t afford to lose,” the statement said.

    Source: Catholic Philly.com… 

  • Kenya’s Central Bank Governor Fears Youth Lacking Role Models

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 10 November 2016

    cbk governor youth lacking role modelsThe Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, early this week expressed the fear that the youth are lacking role models and challenged all those with leadership roles to lead with integrity.

    He was addressing participants at the Tangaza University College (TUC) Leaders Guild conference Monday, November 7, where he was the keynote speaker.

    “Are we giving our youth a vision that frees us from this chain of corruption and poverty?” Dr. Njoroge questioned, wondering how the society can start to bank on young people.

    “When they look for role models, they are confused how the leaders carry themselves,” the CBK Governor who is also a member of the Opus Dei said with regard to the youth in Kenya.

    The Leaders Guild conference brought together 182 participants drawn from different organizations, colleges, universities, and individual entrepreneurs under the theme: leading with integrity.

     In recent weeks, there have been alleged misappropriation of public funds amounting to hundreds of millions of US Dollars in a section of government ministries in Kenya, in addition to ongoing probe in other sectors of government.

     “The only version we can give to the youth is through showing them leadership of integrity in every aspect of their lives,” Dr. Njoroge whose Opus Dei faith has shaped his daily life and work ethic advised and urged those in leadership to be their best selves at all times as to be role models to the youth.

     He advocated for servant leadership saying, “Discovering your leadership potential is not a discovery of opportunity for possession or accumulation of material wealth but a disposition to service.”

     “Leadership is all about the enhancement of values and enriching the lives of others,” Dr. Njoroge went on to say and added, “Showing true leadership is not just earning, but giving, respect and loyalty, fostering an undying commitment to doing right by the people you lead, and incredible kindness and empathy that only grows throughout your lifespan.”

     He urged the conference participants to make ethical leadership their priority saying, “being an ethical leader means going beyond being a good person. Ethical leaders make ethics a clear and consistent part of their agendas, set standards, model appropriate behavior, and hold everyone accountable.”

     Speaking at the same occasion, the Chief Executive Officer of Uchumi Supermarkets Limited, Dr. Julius Kipng’etich, emphasized the value of a legacy on the part of leaders.

     “All said and done, the highest and most enduring value that you will ever be able to give as a leader is the value of what you leave behind,” Dr. Kipng’etich said and explained, “Your legacy to the generations that follow will be seen in how much value you have added to your community, organization or where you serve and how many lives [have] improved.”

    Among the objectives of the conference were:

    • To inspire participants to uphold integrity as a key value despite the challenges the nation is facing.
    • To explore various ways in which leaders can handle corruption challenges as they strive to lead with integrity
    • To reflect and gain insight on disparities between what is taught and practiced for positive transformation from the inside out
    • To propose recommendations for key stake holders on how to address corruption effectively.

    Matara Patrick of the Leaders Guild, Center for Leadership and Management, Tangaza University College, contributed to this article.

  • Church in Malawi against Abortion Bill

    CANAA || By Prince Henderson, Episcopal Conference of Malawi || 07 November 2016

    malawi bishops against abortion billThe Chairman for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, Saturday, November 5, condemned the Termination of Pregnancy Bill being proposed in Malawi, saying the Catholic Church is not in support of the idea.

    Archbishop Msusa was speaking in Karonga on the occasion of the consecration and inauguration of St. Joseph the worker Cathedral.

    The Papal envoy to the event of the consecration, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, who is the Prefect for the Congregation of the Evangelization of the Peoples, presided over the ceremony.

    Archbishop Msusa linked his message of condemnation to the event of the day saying the Patron of the Cathedral, St Joseph the Worker, bravely accepted the responsibility to take care of, defend and protect the baby Jesus from all harm and called on all Malawians to understand the stand of the Catholic Church on the matter.

    “The Catechism of the Catholic Church, number 2258 says, human life is sacred because from its beginning until end, no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy a innocent human being,” he said adding that the same Catechism, number 2270 says, human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception and from the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having rights of a person.

    He particularly called on the Catholic faithful to stand against those advocating for the abortion bill in the country.

    At the same occasion, Cardinal Filoni congratulated Bishop Martin Mtumbuka and the faithful of Karonga diocese for successfully coming up with a Cathedral.

    He said he will invite Pope Francis on behalf of the people of Malawi to visit the country saying, “Í will tell the Pope to go to Africa and Malawi in particular if he wants to see how much people love him.”

    Vice President Saulosi Chilima commended the Catholic Church in Malawi for complementing government’s efforts in supporting its citizenry.

    He also commended politicians who despite their political differences united at the function saying it is through such unity that the country can develop.

  • South African Clerics Urge South Sudan Priests Not to Lose Hope

    Christian Times || By Moses Wasamu || 04 November 2016

    south african bishops in solidarity with south sudan bishopsCatholic Church leaders from South Africa have urged their counterparts in South Sudan not to lose hope despite the challenges they face as they carry out their pastoral duties.

    In a statement of solidarity from the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, they said that they were concerned and saddened by recent happenings in South Sudan, where discord between political players led to conflicts that have claimed many people’s lives.

    “What saddens us most is that the present situation has caused unnecessary death of innocent people, displacement, [of many civilians] , and the general disruption of normal life,” said  statement issued at the conference, which was signed by the President Archbishop Stephen Brislin.

    They added that it was disheartening to think that some people were born during the series of wars, lived through war and even married while war raged in their country.

    “We, the Bishops Conference and Catholics of Southern Africa are convinced, despite the distressing South Sudanese situation, that hope, which is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, is something which we can’t afford to lose,” they said.

    They noted that many priests and bishops worked in a potentially dangerous environment while trying to meet the needs of those who have been displaced and must seek refuge in their churches.

    One such example of this occurred in July, when Pope Francis sent Cardinal Peter Turkson as a special envoy to South Sudan to appeal for an end to the violence in the country, and to help establish dialogue and trust between the warring parties.

    Another example was when Cardinal Turkson, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, visited South Sudan to deliver a letter from the Pope to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar before fleeing the country.

    South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by political rivalry between the Vice President and the President.  Violent clashes across the city in July left tens of thousands of people dead or injured, with others displaced and in humanitarian crisis.

    The South African leaders noted that every time violence broke out a lot of women, and children  have sought refuge in churches and in schools. That is where they live – and the priests and brothers and nuns try to take care of them as best as they can. They said that the people of South Sudan deserve a more peaceful and prosperous country, adding that there are many good and peace loving church leaders who are working towards peace.

    “We would like to express our solidarity with you at this moment of need for the people of South Sudan. Please take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in this sad moment in the history of your country,” said the statement.

    Source: Christian Times…

  • Ugandan-Born Apostolic Nuncio Leaves Nigeria for Belgium

    Vatican Radio || 04 November 2016

    ugandan born nuncio from nigeria to belgium 2016The new Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, Archbishop Augustine Kassujja, who hails from Uganda, is an experienced diplomat who has served the Holy See for many years. Born in 1946, Archbishop Kasujja is the first non-European Nuncio to Belgium.

    According to the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Archbishop Kasujja leaves Nigeria for Belgium, “after six years of meritorious service as the representative of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in Nigeria. During the time of Archbishop Kasujja, at the Apostolic Nunciature, the Catholic Church in Nigeria witnessed tremendous growth in both spiritual and pastoral activities,” reads the Catholic Secretariat statement.

    Archbishop Kassujja was ordained priest on 3 January 1973 and was appointed Archbishop of the titular see of Cesarea in Numidia in 1998. He arrived to serve as Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria in 2011.

    Apostolic Nuncio Kasujja is a career diplomat who has served as papal envoy in different parts of the world since he entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See in 1979.

    He has served in the Apostolic Nunciatures of Argentina, Haiti, Bangladesh, Portugal, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago. He was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Algeria and Tunisia in 1998.

    Later, he was transferred in the same capacity to Madagascar, the Seychelles and as Apostolic Delegate to the Comoros and La Reunion. In 2004 he became the Apostolic Nuncio to Mauritius.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • New Bishop Appointed for Shendam Diocese in Nigeria

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 07 November 2016

    new bishop for shendam diocese in nigeriaPope Francis Saturday, November 5, appointed Msgr Philip Davou Dung as the new Catholic Bishop of Shendam diocese within the ecclesiastical province of Jos in Nigeria.

    58-year old Bishop-elect will be succeeding Bishop James Naanman Daman who was called to the Lord in January 2015 at the age of 58.

    Founded by members of the Society of African Missions (SMA), Shendam is known to be the first Roman Catholic Mission foundation north of the rivers Niger and Benue in Nigeria.

    The diocese was erected on June 2, 2007.

    Below is the Press Statement about the appointment of Msgr. Philip Davou Dung sent to CANAA by the Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, Rev. Father Ralph Madu

    PRESS RELEASE

    Msgr. Philip Davou DUNG Appointed Bishop of Shendam Diocese

    His Holiness Pope Francis has today, Saturday November 5, 2016, appointed as bishop of Shendam diocese, Rev Fr Philip Davou DUNG.

    He is at present parish priest of St Joseph’s parish, Du, Archdiocese of Jos, was born on 19th August 1958 at Kuru Station Wereng Riyon Local Government, Plateau State.

    He did his primary education at R.C.M Primary School Kuru Station, Wereng (1965-1972) and he completed religious formation at St John Vianney Minor Seminary, Barkin Ladi,(1973-1977). He studied Philosophy and Theology at St Augustine’s Major Seminary, Jos. He was ordained priest on 24th November 1984 and incardinated into Jos Archdiocese. He did his higher studies in Moral Theology at the Pontifical Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome (1992-1994) and obtained a Master’s degree in Moral Theology.

    Besides having been Parish Priest in several parishes in the Archdiocese of Jos, he was also;

    Vocations Director, Jos Archdiocese (1991-1992, 1994-1997);

    Dean of Studies, St Augustine’s Seminary (1999-2002);

    Chairman, Archdiocesan Priests Council (2003-2010);

    Member, Consultors (2007 to date);

    Financial Administrator Jos Archdiocese, (2010-to date);

    The date for the ordination of the Bishop-elect is yet to be announced.      

    Rev Fr Ralph Madu

    Secretary General,

    Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria

  • Spirit Bandwagon, Visionaries, Healers and What Else in Africa?

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Caroline Mbonu || 01 November 2016

    new religious movement in africaThe New Religious Movement in Africa continues to define and redefine traditional Christian practices through its various methods of prayer and worship. The new movement adheres to beliefs and practices that are not in line with orthodoxy within a particular society and time. Among these methods, spirit possession — a belief that extraterrestrials take control of the human body — leads the chart.

    This new movement is taking place across Christian traditions; a significant number of Catholics have also joined the spirit bandwagon. Adherents see spirits, most often malevolent ones, everywhere as ever ready to proclaim a divine message, some form of vision, to a willing listener. Even some priests as well as religious are caught up in this spirit frenzy.

    It is difficult to pinpoint the reason for these new forms of religious faith expression sweeping across the African continent. In Nigeria, for example, there is a "church" and/or a prayer ministry or a prayer house, depending on the nomenclature the pastor or priest chooses, at almost every street corner in towns and cities throughout the land. The motivation for membership varies; some persons go to these places because they are disillusioned with the mainline Christian churches, others go out of fear of the unknown, insecurity, poverty or the promise of prosperity and better social standing. These ideas did not mushroom overnight. Christian evangelization, inadvertently, played a major role in this turn of events, but we leave that discussion for another day. Suffice to say that Christian missionary evangelization in Africa appeared to have ignored the established religious traditions, and vestiges of these in Christianity becomes part of the contemporary dilemma.

    We may credit the New Religious Movement with the current trend of spirit-chasing, forms of worship that are aimed at getting rid of malevolent spirits. But I agree with African scholars of religion that the seed of the movement was sown more than 300 years ago in the Kongo (The kingdom of Kongo in that era comprised a much wider territory than the present Congo) by Kimpa Vita (c1684-1706).

    Kimpa Vita, baptized Beatrice, is one of the most known religious figures in modern Africa. In an earlier work — Handmaid: The Power of Names in Theology and Society — I discussed Dona Beatrice, a young woman of noble ancestry, who has been identified as a precursor of the prophetic figure of African Independent Churches. Kimpa Vita, who claimed she was possessed by the spirit of St. Anthony of Padua, formed a socioreligious group, an African movement inspired by biblical teaching. Her movement was a blend of Christianity and African religious traditions, a form of syncretism that enjoyed strong support from many peasants of her day.

    The Anthonian movement she founded, however, was declared heretical. Instigated by the Italian Capuchin missionaries in the Kongo, Beatrice Kimpa Vita was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake in 1706. Her movement was disbanded, or rather, went underground and continued to survive quietly for about two centuries.

    Scholars trace the roots of African Independent Churches to the vision of Kimpa Vita. One can see that the spirit-chasing churches, which feature revitalized traditional cultural roots alongside Christian symbols in contemporary Nigeria, are not far removed from the vision of Kimpa Vita. Because of the receptivity and popularity of these forms of worship, traditional shrines in many villages have been converted to one form of "church" or prayer house, and the shrine priest, or Onye isi agbara, becomes its "prophet." The modus operandi remains the same except that the prophet now dons a white, long, flowing gown.

    But the Catholic expression of the spirit bandwagon resides in prayer ministries. Dressed in his flowing white cassock, the Catholic priest engages in various forms of revivals and healing ministries mostly within the church premises. The priest is perceived as one fully in possession of spiritual powers, so adherents flock to him for prayer, healing and prophecy. I still wonder how this priest reconciles his priestly ministry of preaching the word and administering the sacraments with the spirit bandwagon that is characterized by shouts, screams and blustering music instruments sometimes for hours on end.  

    Catholic involvement in the spirit bandwagon in Nigeria became noticeable in the 1980s. Since then, the number of prayer ministries has grown tremendously with the increase in the number of priests. On the other hand, the increased hardship and insecurity in the country also translates into higher numbers of persons seeking solace at the prayer ministry houses. Interestingly, religious sisters also patronize prayer ministries. I have watched with dismay as the numbers of women religious who patronize these ministries grow year after year until recently, when the authorities of some communities banned their sisters from taking part in these exercises. I applaud the decision of the superiors who discouraged their members from joining the spirit bandwagon because I could not locate a vowed religious in the chaotic atmosphere of spirit chasing that tends to leave one exhausted and, in a way, empty because the Lord is not in the wind and neither is the Lord in the earthquake nor in the fire. (1 Kings 19:11-12a)

    For all its glamour and glory, the fire-spitting, spirit-chasing worship has a dark side. This form of spirituality does not go deep enough to elicit faith. Neither does it strengthen faith. A popular Igbo saying is "anaghi eji anya oma ekpe Cherubim," meaning, "no one joins the African Independent Church, Cherubim and Seraphim intentionally." This expression articulates the frustration that can lead someone into such prayer houses. That is to say, a person who joins a spirit-chasing church or takes to prayer ministry is desperate for something. She is anxious either to ward off evil spirits or looming dangers — real or imaged — receive healing for a physical or spiritual ailment, become financially secure or receive visions. I must also acknowledge that some persons walk into these prayer houses genuinely seeking God in spirit and in truth.  

    Nevertheless, the spirit bandwagon is undermining the Christian message and hurting African Christianity as a whole. The few captivating leaders among the movement exploit the ignorance of the poor masses who flock to them in droves seeking liberation from their anxiety. I must not even go into the monetary aspect of the ministries that has produced multi-millionaires among their pastors and prophets as well as Catholic priests.

    In the final analysis, however, it is only the formation of a Christian character that is grounded in the Gospel and the Christian traditions that can save Christianity in Nigeria and the African continent as a whole.

    [Caroline Mbonu is a member of Congregation of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus and holds a doctoral degree from the Graduate Theological Union. She is senior lecturer in the department of Religious and Cultural Studies at University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report…

  • Sisters Run Semi-orphanages after Ethiopia Cuts Back International Adoptions

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Melanie Lidman || 03 November 2016

    sisters in ethiopia run semi orphanagesThough Catholics make up less than 1 percent of the population in Ethiopia, Catholic sisters have always had a strong presence in the country, especially in the area of children's orphanages. The Missionaries of Charity sisters alone had 19 orphanages, including hundreds of children in their central orphanage in the capital of Addis Ababa. Many other congregations, including the Daughters of Charity, the largest congregation in Ethiopia, also had dozens of orphanages.

    From 2003 to 2011, 1 in 13 children adopted internationally was from Ethiopia. During that period, only Russia and China had more international adoptions. In 2009, Ethiopia's peak year for international adoptions, 1 in 7 children adopted internationally was from Ethiopia.

    According to UNICEF, Ethiopia has more than 4.5 million orphans under the age of 18 in a country of 90 million people — half of them children. UNICEF counts children with just one parent as "orphans" and children with no parents as "double orphans." The fact that 10 percent of the under-18 population is orphaned is due to a variety of circumstances, including the HIV/AIDS crisis, drought, war and poverty. The high number of orphans, and the state's inability to provide care for them, meant that Ethiopia was a popular place for international adoptions.

    But in 2011, Ethiopia did an abrupt about-face. It announced it would be cutting international adoptions by 90 percent, as well as closing orphanages. Part of this was due to concerns of "baby buying." International adoption fees in Ethiopia are usually around $25,000, and this has conversely created a market of rural villagers in dire economic straights giving up their children, either willingly or unwillingly, in hopes of cash payments from the adoption agencies or middlemen. This is unfortunately a common issue for developing, rural countries around the world. It's one of the reasons why the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption tries to create accountability that the children put up for adoption are truly orphans. Ethiopia has not signed on to the Hague Adoption Convention.

    Later in 2011, a freak case captured the headlines, further decreasing Ethiopian international adoption. Thirteen-year-old Hana Williams, who had been adopted from Ethiopia three years earlier, was beaten and starved to death in Washington state by her fundamentalist adoptive family. While the case was not indicative of the thousands of successful adoptions that take place each year from Ethiopia, the issue embarrassed the Ethiopian government. Two months after Williams' death, the government started announcing orphanage closures, especially orphanages geared towards international adoption.

    Before the severe cut in adoptions, "We used to have 400 kids in Addis Ababa," said one Missionary of Charity sister who refused to give her name, citing a congregational policy not to seek media attention.

    "If we stopped, it means everyone stopped," she said. "Lots of organizations, as they were closing, brought their kids to us, because we were the last ones to close." She said that was because the Missionaries of Charity had a good reputation in Ethiopia, and especially with the government.

    "The government wants to close all the private orphanages so they can run them [themselves]," the sister added. "They claim people were making money selling kids. There were 'chickachick' — illegal things going on — but not at Missionaries of Charity orphanages," she said, using common Amharic slang.

    "Now we are not taking any more kids," she added. They still have a number of children in their care, but it is temporary. "We are trying, at least, to find their relatives, siblings or aunts or uncles that can care for them," she said.

    Ethiopia's move away from institutional orphanages and international adoption is part of a global trend that places greater emphasis on keeping the child close to home. Mini Bhaskar, a social welfare specialist with UNICEF Ethiopia, said her agency has adopted the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, which the U.N. released in 2009. "Among the core principles of alternative care, [it] notes the need to keep the child as close as possible to his/her community of origin and recognizes that formal care and informal care by relatives or others are valuable care options," she said.

    One such measure the government promotes is guddifecha, Bhaskar said, a term in the Oromia region for informal adoption by other family members, though it is practiced widely elsewhere under different names. In guddifecha, a relative or neighbor will take in an orphaned child, either on a temporary or permanent basis. The practice only works when the strong social networks of the community are intact. Families scattered over large distances, as is increasingly happening due to globalization, weakens the ability of communities to find their own local solutions for orphans through kinship care.

    Besides promoting guddifecha, the government is employing other options, including a small but growing foster care system. Ethiopian foster families, screened by the government's social services branch, can end up adopting orphaned children.

    While guddifecha is a good solution for some orphans, other children simply do not have the support or social network to stay in their home communities. In an effort to minister to these most vulnerable children, sisters in Ethiopia are now running what they call "semi-orphanages." Semi-orphanages are temporary group homes for children. The child lives at the semi-orphanage, generally for a period of less than two years, while social workers or religious leaders locate family or community members who will agree to care for the child. 

    Since the relatives or neighbors are often impoverished, they may need extra support as a way to mitigate the costs of caring for an additional child. Some sisters in other countries are pioneering projects whereby these adoptive families are folded into economic empowerment programs.

    In Adigrat, in the northern part of Ethiopia, the Sisters of St. Lucy Filippini, known as the Filippini Sisters, care for 22 children at a semi-orphanage. On a recent spring day, the children were excitedly running to their rooms after coming back from spending Easter holidays in their villages. Part of the semi-orphanage approach is having the children return to their families or communities on holidays to ensure they stay integrated with their roots.

    "They have relatives, perhaps one parent, but they are unable to care for them at this time," explained Sr. Letteselassie Alemayohu, the regional superior. In Adigrat, the children at the semi-orphanage live in two big rooms and study at the school the sisters operate next door. In the evenings, they have activities, such as embroidering scarves and pillowcases.

    Since the semi-orphanages program is new, it's hard to judge the long-term effects compared with international adoption. The concern is that some children may fall through the cracks of the system, forced to return prematurely to situations in their home communities that are not stable enough. Social welfare services, both governmental and non-governmental, are already strained and cannot adequately follow up with every child to ensure they are safe and healthy.

    Bhaskar, of UNICEF Ethiopia, stressed that the most important thing is that all children can find "appropriate and stable family-based solutions … to enable the child to grow up in a loving, caring and supporting environment."

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

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Most Organ Trafficking in Mozambique Due to Witchcraft, Nun Says

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 02 November 2016

    witchcraft in mozambiqueMozambique is plagued by trafficking in human organs and witchcraft is to blame, said a religious sister working in the country.

    Efforts to help refugees who are targeted in attempts to harvest organs are hampered due to cultural fears of confronting those who engage in such practices, said Scalabrinian Sister Marines Biasibetti, secretary general of the Commission for Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Mozambique bishops' conference.

    "Even in the church, religious men and women, priests and local bishops do not speak about it out of fear of what may happen to them," Sister Biasibetti told Catholic News Service.  

    Sister Biasibetti, who hails from Brazil and has worked in Mozambique for more than two years, attended a conference at the Vatican Oct. 26-27 sponsored by the Santa Marta Group, an initiative supported by Pope Francis to help the victims of human trafficking.

    While the problem of human and organ trafficking has existed for many years in Mozambique, the Scalabrinian sister said, it is only "now through the church that we are beginning to speak about this issue."

    "This problem has always existed but now it is being discussed, especially regarding the trafficking of organs because it is related to magic and cultural beliefs. People are very afraid to speak on the issue: both victims and the general public," she said.

    Mozambique's worsening socio-political situation, she explained, is driving people toward healers who practice witchcraft; they believe the healers not only can restore people to health, but they can help people get basic necessities or even "riches and easy money."

    "The sorcerer performs his rituals and tells them that in order to have better living conditions or to obtain what he or she is asking for, he will ask him or her to bring a person's head, hand or tongue. And if people believe this, they will go, kill someone and that's the end of it," Sister Biasibetti told CNS.

    The unfortunate victims of these attacks, she added, are often migrants coming in from South Africa who are regarded as a "disfavored class."

    Those involved in sorcery and witchcraft are also very well organized and leave little evidence for investigators to follow, she said.

    "Ninety-five percent of the organs trafficked are for sorcerers and healers due to cultural beliefs that are still very much ingrained in the people," Sister Biasibetti told CNS.

    While local and government authorities have been hesitant or shown little interest in tackling the problem, Sister Biasibetti said her office is trying to educate people and prevent organ trafficking.

    The trafficking and commercialization of organs and body parts "is a sad, unfortunate phenomenon that continues to grow in Mozambique," she said, but cooperation between religious and local authorities can help save lives and souls.

    "We will promote human rights and, above all, the value of life through our witness and evangelization in order to be a sign of solidarity and love," Sister Biasibetti said.

  • Vatican Cardinal Filoni Arrives in Malawi, to Proceed to Zambia Monday

    CANAA || By Prince Henderson, Episcopal Conference of Malawi || 03 November 2016

    cardinal filoni arrives malawiVatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Fernando Cardinal Filoni arrived in Malawi Thursday, November 3, ahead of the consecration of St Joseph the Worker Catholic Cathedral in Karonga Diocese on Saturday, November 5.

    In September, Pope Francis named Cardinal Filoni as his special envoy at the consecration of Karonga’s Cathedral, situated in the Northern part of Malawi bordering Tanzania and Zambia.

    Cardinal Filoni was welcomed in the warm heart of Africa by Archbishop Julio Murat, Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and Zambia, Archbishops Tarcizious Ziyaye and Thomas Luke Msusa of Lilongwe and Blantyre Archdioceses respectively, Bishop Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese and Secretary General for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Father Henry Saindi.

    Clad in black suit and a clerical shirt, Cardinal Filoni looked excited to be in Malawi and was visibly seen smiling while thanking the Bishops for the warm welcome.

    “Thank you for your warm welcome to Malawi,” said Cardinal Filoni when passing by ECM Communications team.

    “On Friday, he will interact with the Laity (akhristu eni ake) including children at St. Mary's Parish in the Diocese of Karonga whereas on Saturday he will consecrate on behalf of Pope Francis Saint Joseph the Worker Cathedral of the Diocese of Karonga,” reads part of the program available at the Episcopal Conference of Malawi.

    Malawi’s Vice President, Saulosi Chilima, is expected to represent President Arthur Peter Mutharika at the consecration ceremony.

    According to the program, the Cardinal is expected to preside over the Eucharistic celebration at St. Patrick's Parish in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe on Sunday evening and on Monday morning, lead the clergy, religious and faithful in the Eucharistic Celebration at the Monastery of the Poor Clares before visiting Children at Missionary Sisters of Charity in Kawale.

    The Cardinal is expected to proceed to Zambia that Monday, November 7, where he will be part of the celebrations marking 125 years of the Catholic Church there.

    Created in July 2010 and officially inaugurated in November 2010 under the leadership of Bishop Martin Anwel Mtumbuka, Karonga is one of the eight dioceses in Malawi.

    The diocese is divided into two deaneries, which are subdivided into six parishes. It covers the geographical districts of Karonga and Chitipa including the northern part of Rumphi.

    It has an area of 12 000 Square Kilometres with a population of 467,000 of whom about 65,000 are Catholics. 

    The area under the diocese is the remotest and poorest part of Malawi. The territory is mostly hilly and mountainous making the movement of both goods and people difficult. The region has been prone to a series of disasters such as earth tremors, floods and droughts.

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