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  • First Black Priest in US Moves Closer to Sainthood

    Crux || By Associated Press || 13 December 2016

    first black priest in us closer to sainthoodA priest and former slave who served in Chicago and western Illinois in the late 1800s is a step closer to becoming a saint as his body is being exhumed and subject to scientific examination as part of the sainthood review process.

    A priest and former slave who served in Chicago and western Illinois in the late 1800s is a step closer to becoming a saint.

    Father Augustus Tolton was the first Catholic priest in the U.S. publicly known to be black in 1886. Born a slave in Missouri, his family eventually reached the free state of Illinois.

    When he wished to pursue studies for the priesthood, Tolton was rejected by every American seminary to which he applied and eventually enrolled in Rome’s Pontifical Urban University.

    Expecting to be sent to an African mission, Tolton returned to the Chicago area to serve the area’s African-American population. He died in 1897, amid an infamous Chicago heat wave.

    WGEM-TV reports his remains were exhumed from St. Peter’s Cemetery in Quincy on Saturday. They will be examined for historical verification purposes.

    Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese was at the cemetery Saturday. He says having someone from the local area become a saint and show others how to be Christian is “a great thing.”

    The late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago submitted Tolton as a candidate for sainthood in 2010. A formal report documenting his life, known as a “postitio,” was submitted to the Vatican in 2014, and is awaiting a ruling from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

    Source: Crux… 

  • Malawi’s Catholic Women Reach Out to Patients, Prisoners

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson || 13 December 2016

    catholic women in malawi to needy dec 2016Catholic Women from Mtima Woyera and Maula Deaneries in the Archdiocese of Lilongwe on Saturday and Sunday last week respectively donated assorted items including sugar, soap and salt to inmates at Maula Prison and Patients admitted at Kamuzu Central Hospital as part of their activity to celebrate with the sick and those in prison during this festive season.

    Speaking after making the donation, Chairlady for Lilongwe Archdiocese’s Catholic Women under the banner, Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), Anita Kaliu said the gesture is their normal practice as they do the same every year during the same period.

    She said as women who care for their Children and family need to demonstrate some sense of love to those suffering hence the initiative.

    “As women, we need to demonstrate love and share with others. As we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, we ought to celebrate along with the needy and those that need our love. God loves them all and need to love them as well and the only way to show them love is by visiting them at some point,” said Kaliu.

    Kaliu said through their unity as Catholic Women, each member in all the two deaneries contributed a little something towards the initiative.

    “Like for instance, Maula Deanery has eight Parishes and each member each member under CWO contributed such that our contributions reached up to over a Million Kwacha and we were able to buy all these items you have seen. Mtima Woyera also did the same and they donated to Maula Prison,” she said.

    One member, Clara Gadi said through CWO gatherings, women are able to share brilliant ideas which are crucial to the socio-economic growth of the country and the Church as a whole.

    Another member, Dr. Mary Shaba hinted on the need for those that are blessed with a little something to share with the poor and vulnerable.

    “All what we must realise is that God is the one who put us into various position. Our positions or responsibilities are nothing before God because he is the one who blessed us, therefore it is important as Christians to thank God by sharing with others. You may recall that this was the Year of Mercy as we are called upon to be Merciful to others hence the gesture,” said Dr. Shaba who is also the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.

    On their visit to Maula Prison, Chairlady for Mtima Woyera Deanery, Prudence Kadiwa said it was interesting to note that inmates were happy to see their mothers who were in happy faces taking their time off to share gifts with them.

    “We are very excited actually to see that Catholic Women have spared their time to visit us. Here in Prison we face a lot of problems and for one outside this Prison to come and cheers us, it’s something commendable. We don’t take this gesture for granted,” said one inmate who asked for an anonymity.

    Spokesperson for Kamuzu Central Hospital, Mable Chinkhata also commended Catholic Women for considering the patients with their donation.

    “You may wish to know that as a hospital we do provide food only to patients but sometimes it happens that a patient travels all the way from Salima which is far away from Lilongwe and when coming, they do come with a guardian or guardians. Therefore, the items given by well-wishers help a lot to cover the gap,” she said.

    Chinkhata challenged other well-wishers to emulate the gesture as demonstrated by the Catholic Women Organisation.

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi… 

  • International Organization Urges World Leaders to Reject Same-sex Marriage: Cape Town Declaration

    CANAA || By Peter Dada || 15 December 2016

    cape town declaration dec 2016The International Organization for the Family (IOF) has urged religious, political, social, and civic leaders across the world not to yield to external pressures on same-sex marriage.

    This appeal is contained in a statement issued by participants at the just concluded meeting of the organization held in Cape Town, South Africa, and made available to the press on Monday, December 12.

    Mr Brian Brown, President of (IOF), Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Nigeria, and hundreds of other religious, political, social and civic leaders from other continents appended their signatures to the document.

    The statement tagged “Cape Town Declaration” reaffirmed the critical role of traditional man-woman marriage as the bedrock of civilization.

    According to the statement, the family is the “first and primordial community” and that marriage is “the conjugal bond of man and woman.”

    “This definition is not a matter of preference or temperament or taste,” the signers declared, but “the heart of any just social order.”

    “Throwing down the gauntlet to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) lobby, a thriving culture will firmly resist every push to redefine marriage to include: same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones,’’ says the statement.

     The document also declared that the nature of marriage as between one man and one woman is “a truth that no government can change,”

    It said that the declaration was a historic step in the global fight to preserve the truth about marriage.

    It said that forcing the agenda of same-sex marriage on nations by manipulation of foreign aid or the likes was a deplorable practice.

    Those that signed the declaration had pledged to work toward recovering the true understanding of marriage in places where governments had imposed an unwanted and unwarranted distortion of marriage upon society, it said.

    Beyond affixing their names to the document, signers also pledged to resist the rising cultural imperialism of western powers whose governments seek nothing less than the ideological colonization of the family.

    “Bowing to no earthly power, using every just measure, we shall not falter or flag until the truth about marriage is embraced in our laws and honoured in our lands,’’ the document states.

    The new text is reminiscent of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which garnered some 440,000 signatures in its first year.

    While the Manhattan Declaration targeted three points: the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage and freedom of religion, the Cape-Town Declaration chose to focus specifically on marriage and the family.

    “Our goal is to gain 2 million signatures on the Cape-Town Declaration within a year from today: December 11, the Universal Day of Human Rights,” the statement said.

    NAN reports that this statement was released on Dec.10, the International Human Rights Day to mark the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly held in Paris on Dec. 10, 1948.

  • Catholic Schools in Ethiopia Urged to Contribute to FGM Eradication

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopia || 15 December 2016

    catholic schools in ethiopia to fight fgm 2016Catholic Schools in Ethiopia have been asked to integrate the issue of reproductive health in their education curriculum.

    The Ethiopian Catholic Church Social and Development Commission (ECC SDCO) Education team in collaboration with Women and Family Affairs team organized a 3 day workshop for School Directors and teachers in Addis Ababa from December 12 - 14, 2016 on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices.

    FGM is one of the main challenges of girls and women in some parts of Ethiopia mainly in rural areas.

    During the workshop, it was stated that girls and women are at risk of FGM because of various social pressures.

    Mainly fear of stigmatization and being unfit for marriage are the causes that lead parents and even women themselves to the practice of FGM despite them being aware of its danger.

    According to Mr. Solomon Abebe, ECC SDCO Education Team Leader, lack of awareness and society’s misguided attitude towards FGM is the main challenge in the fight against such harmful practices.

    He said people who are even aware of the dangers are practicing because of social pressure and it is important to address the issue in every sector especially education.

    “Teachers and education workers have direct contact with student every day and they meet parents a minimum of 3 times a year. They know the challenges in the everyday life of student thus if they are committed they can influence change in attitude towards traditional stereotypes, that is why we brought them here today to update them on the realities of FGM nationwide and discuss on how they can collaborate in its eradication,” Mr. Abebe said.

    It can be recalled that in February 2013, the Catholic Bishops of Ethiopia declared a stand against the act of FGM strictly forbidding all members of the Church from practicing it, affirming that it has no religious base.

    The Ethiopian Catholic Church has been working to create awareness about the physical and psychological harm FGM causes to girls and women based on this document.

    The workshop urged Catholic Schools to consider integrating the issue of fighting FGM into their systems since schools are closer to the society through students and parents.

    Participants of the workshop were mainly from selected Dioceses namely Apostolic Vicariate of Hossana, Apostolic Vicariate of Soddo and Eparchy of Emdibir where prevalence of FGM is higher.

    At the end of the workshop the participants were asked to be well familiar with the declaration issue by the Bishops and committee themselves to contribute to the ongoing effort to eradicate FGM in Ethiopia.

    The workshop was organized with the support of Norwegian Church Aid, a partner organization that has been collaborating with the Ethiopian Catholic Church in her effort to fight FGM and other harmful practices against girls and women.

    FGM is an illegal act in Ethiopia and is therefore punishable by law.

  • Zimbabwe’s Catholic Choirs Battle It Out in Honor of St. Cecilia

    CANAA || By Br. Alfonce Kugwa || 01 December 2016

    zimbabwe catholic choirs competition 2016Catholic choirs in Zimbabwe thronged Chinhoyi show grounds in Mashonaland West Province last weekend to battle it out in honor of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.

    The Saturday, November 26 event attracted some 57 Catholic choirs including one of Zimbabweans based in South Africa.

    Organized by the Zimbabwe Catholic Association for Sacred Music (ZICASAM) and hosted by Chinhoyi diocese, the lively event gave different choirs from the country’s eight dioceses an opportunity to showcase their musical talent.

    The competitions that are held annually have become a platform for Catholic Christians to share their faith, to make new friends and express their unity in diversity.

    Priests and religious also participated in the competitions with their respective choirs. The set piece was “Hlala Lathi Nkosi,” a Ndebele hymn meaning stay with us Lord and “Madii Magara nesu” in Shona.

    Despite heavy rains, choirs continued with their pace and gave their best.

    South West 2 Deanery of the Archdiocese of Harare, comprising of parishes such as Kuwadzana, Rugare, Kambuzuma and Mufakose, emerged number one, scooping the 2017 St. Cecilia Trophy.

    Second position went to Gweru Urban while Bulawayo Eastern Deanery took third position.

  • Ghana’s Catholic University Gets New Vice Chancellor, Promises to Rebrand Institution

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 01 December 2016

    new vc for catholic uni of ghana 2016The Catholic University College of Ghana (CUCG) last Saturday, November 26, received a new Vice Chancellor (VC) who has promised to rebrand the institution in order to compete favorably with other institutions of higher learning in the country.

    Speaking in Fiapre in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana during his official installation, the new VC, Prof. Daniel Kwabena Obeng-Ofori, made known his intention to revitalize and reposition CUCG “to take its rightful place as the leading private University in Ghana and beyond.”

    “I have taken up the mantle of leadership of the CUCG at a time of stiff competition in the higher education landscape and weak financial health of most private Universities in Ghana including CUCG,” he said.

    Prof. Obeng-Ofori spelled out his vision at his investiture ceremony at CUCG Campus saying, “It is my conviction that for the imperative convenience of its global clientele, CUCG must aspire to be global in its offerings, structuring of programmes and manner of doing business.”

    Prof. Obeng-Ofori had been appointed in July 2016.

    He thanked the Chancellor of the CUCG, His Eminence Peter cardinal Appiah Turkson, the Ghana catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Governing Council and the Staff, for the confidence and responsibility reposed in him to lead the Catholic University.

    The investiture, which coincided with the 14th Congregation and 22nd matriculation ceremonies, was presided over by Bishop John Bonaventure Kwofie, Chairman of the Governing Council of the University and Bishop of Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese,.

    Seven Bishops from various dioceses in Ghana were part of the congregation numbering over 2,000 who turned up to witness the ceremonies.

    Prof. Obeng-Ofori noted that the overall goals of CUCG were to generate knowledge, disseminate information universally and provide community service through teaching, research and socio-cultural engagements with the community at large for public good.

    “To achieve our universal mandate, CUCG like other higher educational institutions must uphold its enabling instruments, including the law establishing the institution, statutes and other regulations and conventions that guide its operations,” the Prof. said.

    He pledged to harness the collective talents and expertise of faculty, students and non-academic Staff to generate and disseminate knowledge to students and society and supervise the development of appropriate curricula and their mode of delivery.

    Administering the oath of office, Bishop Kwofie thanked the new VC for exhibiting courage when his wife Rosaline died just a month to his investiture and assured him of prayerful support.

    Archbishop Naameh, who led a special prayer for the new VC, prayed that he would use his office to the good of CUCG and promote ethical and moral values according to the virtues of the Church.

    He prayed that his life would be an example to all while the staff and students cooperate with him to raise CUCG’s standard.

  • Ethiopia’s Eparchy of Bahirdar-Dessie Receives 300 New Members

    CANAA || By Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopia Catholic Secretariat || 01 December 2016

    eparchy of bahirdar-dessie new members 2016The Ethiopian Catholic Eparchy of Bahir dar-Dessie, baptised 300 Catechumens among the people of Gumuz, in Banshagul Gumuz Regional State, this week, on the Feast of the Miraculous Medal. Many of the newly baptized converted from local traditional religions to Catholicism. Most of the Catechumens are from a place known as Banush, a very remote area located 600 km from the capital, Addis Ababa. 

    At the request of the people’s request, Bishop Lesanu-Christos, the Eparch of  Bahirdar-Dessie, blessed and erected a cross and a bell on the future site of a Church. Another cross was placed at the community’s cemetery as a sign of a new Christian community. The Bishop with the help of 6 priests then baptised the 300 new Christians who comprised old, young, men and women as well as some infants.

    In his homily, Bishop Lesanu-Christos said that the day was a joyous one for the Church. 

    “God is Great, and God is a Father to all of us; we say the Our Father Prayer here and throughout the world and this proves that we are all children of one God who he created everyone equally and with the same human dignity. Today when you receive this great Sacrament of Baptism you become sons and daughters of God, people of God and members of the Church, this brings great joy in heaven and great joy on earth for the entire Church,” said Bishop Lesanu-Christos congratulating the new followers of Christ.

    The Bishop of Bahirdar-Dessie also noted that the community was evangelised by a local, young man named Takel. It was Takel who first brought the request of the village to the Church’s attention asking the Church authorities to bring the light of Christ to his community in the remote area of Banush.

    The Bishop stressed the importance of continued evangelization in the area saying there still many people who have not been as lucky as the Baptised Banush community.

    “The testimony of one young believer and the diligent efforts of the pastoral agents of the Catholic Church have brought 300 more children of God home. However, there are still more of our brothers and sisters who have not yet received the Good News of the Lord, and with God’s Grace we shall continue to shine the light of Our Lord and spread the Good News,” the Bishop said.

    The newly baptised Christians celebrated by wearing and lighting candles as a sign of the light of Christ shining in them. They sang in the local language: “We know what we trust in.” The ceremony was attended by families of the baptised, the clergy, religious men and women, Catechists and the faithful from different parishes of Diocese.

    The Eparch of Bahirdar-Dessie is the youngest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Ethiopian Catholic Church. Currently, there are more than 500 Catechumens in neighbouring villages who are eagerly waiting to be baptised. The Catholic Church first went to the Gumuz people 15 years ago. Three Comboni sisters planted the first seed of faith: Sr. Jamilety, Tilda, and Bertila. The sisters first arrived in Mandura district and begun the work of evangelisation.

  • Environmental Destruction a Concern of IMBISA Bishops, Call for Responsible Attitude

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 01 December 2016

    imbisa bishops declaration on laudato si 2016Catholic Bishops under the Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops in Southern Africa (IMBISA) have expressed their concern for environmental destruction within their territories and called for “responsible attitude towards the gift of creation” in the light the second encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ - "On Care For Our Common Home".

    The concern and call were expressed in the declaration at the conclusion of their five-day plenary assembly, which concluded on Monday, November 26.

    “Planet earth, which is God’s gift and common home to all creatures, is gradually being destroyed by us human beings,” the Bishops lamented, welcoming the Pope’s call to conversion interpreted as “changing attitudes and behaviours that harm the earth, diminish human dignity, impoverish quality of life and create inequality in society.”

    The Bishops met under the theme: “Empowering the laity for effective engagement in socio political and environmental issues: ‘Laudato Si’ as a point of reference.” 

    In their declaration, the Church leaders mandated the Secretariat and staff of IMBISA “to gather and disseminate information informed by ‘Laudato Si’.

    In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis criticizes irresponsible development and consumerism and decries global warming and different forms of environmental degredation and challenges all the inhabitants of the planet earth to take “swift and unified global action."

    Below is the full statement of IMBISA Bishops’ declaration at the end of their 11th Plenary Assembly.

    DECLARATION OF THE 11th IMBISA PLENARY ASSEMBLY

    22 - 26 November 2016: Maseru (Lesotho)

    We, the Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops in Southern Africa, (IMBISA) in our 11th plenary meeting held in Maseru, Lesotho, considered thoroughly the theme “Empowering the laity for effective engagement in socio political and environmental issues: ‘Laudato Si’ as a point of reference.” 

    Having reflected on the major points of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on environment ‘Laudato Si’, we identified issues in our region relating to it. We analyzed the capacity and limitations of our Church and explored ways and means of implementing ‘Laudato Si’. 

    Planet earth, which is God’s gift and common home to all creatures, is gradually being destroyed by us human beings. We therefore welcome the invitation of the Pope to conversion, which means changing attitudes and behaviours that harm the earth, diminish human dignity, impoverish quality of life and create inequality in society. 

    We gave attention to those manifestations of environmental destruction that are of immediate concern in our region and conference areas. These include pollution of the environment, harmful byproducts in the production of some sources of energy, water pollution and wastage. The consequences frequently result in diseases, corruption, consumerism, unemployment and inequality.

    We identified practical ways and means of informing ourselves and our lay people to adopt a caring and responsible attitude towards the gift of creation which includes a celebration of creation around the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.

    We mandate the secretariat and the staff of IMBISA to gather and disseminate information informed by ‘Laudato Si’ with suggested specific concrete targets to enhance the awareness and implementation of our goals, keeping in mind that there are presently programmes addressing some of these issues at conference levels. We recommend that each conference continues to address these issues. 

    We commit ourselves to the care of [our] common home and we appeal to all women and men of goodwill to take the issue of environment seriously.

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