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  • Zambia Bishops Call for Peaceful and Transparent Elections

    Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB): Pastoral Letter on the August 2016 General Elections

    "NO LONGER WILL VIOLENCE BE HEARD IN YOUR LAND" (Isaiah 60:18)

    A CALL TO PEACEFUL, CREDIBLE AND TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS

    bishops in zambia for transparent elections 2016PREAMBLE

    1. To all members of the Catholic Church and all people of good will. We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in the words of St. Paul:" Now, may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all" (2 Th. 3:16).

    2. As we are near the election day of 11th August 2016, we are compelled by the love of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14)to once again speak to the nation on matters relating to the electoral process. For us, every election is a moment of grace and an opportunity for self-appraisal as a nation. It is not only about the election of political leaders but as we have said before, it is an opportune time to review our past performance in order to prepare for better political choices for the future. It is also a time to celebrate our democratic independence as opposed to anxiety.

    THE IMPORTANCE OF ELECTIONS IN THE LIGHT OF THE SOCIAL TEACHING OF THE CHURCH

    3. We write this pastoral letter to you Catholics and people of goodwill in Zambia to remind you of your duty to elect leaders and of the need to maintain peace before, during and after the polling day. While each individual Catholic has the God-given right and freedom to decide on who to vote for and how to answer the referendum question, the teaching of the Church can offer you some valuable guidance in an attempt to reach an informed judgement that advances the common good as it noted by The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its Doctrinal note Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life which states that "the primary function of the Church is to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those involved in political life, so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good" (#1).

    4. The Church believes that once people maintain and strengthen their democracy, they stand a better chance of actively participating and shaping the development of their country (Cf. ZEC Pastoral Letter - Building for Peace, 1996).In addition, St. John Paul II taught in his encyclical that: "The Church values the democratic system in as much as it ensures active participation of citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate" (Cf. St. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus -'One Hundred Years,' 1991,#46). Further, Pope Benedict XVI notes that: "... elections represent a platform for the expression of people's decisions, and they are a sign of legitimacy for the exercise of power... [Free and Fair] elections provide a privileged opportunity for healthy and serene public debate, marked by respect for different opinions and different political grouping... " (Cf. Africae Munus, #81).

    5. Therefore, as we move towards the 11thAugust 2016 general elections, we call upon all people who mean well for Zambia to vigorously fight the many vices that have a potential to undermine our democracy and subsequently distort our electoral process and rob our people of their free will.

    CONDITIONS FOR PEACEFUL, CREDIBLE AND TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS

    6. As we have often noted, the free will of the people is the hallmark of any credible election. We must therefore pay particular attention to key aspects that can enhance or reduce and even negate the credibility of the forthcoming elections. Some of the key conditions for any elections to be peaceful, credible and transparent include:

    a) Peaceful Atmosphere

    6.1 Democracy requires in the first place that all citizens exercise their right to vote in a free and peaceful environment. Much as we are proudly acclaimed for being a peaceful country, we should never take things for granted. Given the increasing incidents of politically motivated violence and continued tension between members of political parties, our record of being peaceful is increasingly being threatened.

    6.2 We are deeply saddened by the increasing number of cases of political violence in the run-up to the August 2016 Elections. We are extremely disappointed because the current trend is contrary to the commitment that was made to the nation by the 19 Heads of Political Parties at an Indaba held on 29th March 2016 and facilitated by the three Church Mother Bodies (namely the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ). The Zambian people were expectant and hopeful that the signing of the communiqué by the leaders of political parties would yield positive results.

    6.3 We have noted that the senior leaders of political parties themselves are the ones to be blamed for this violence because they know who the perpetuators of this violence are. The habit of finger pointing and blame shifting is making violence to escalate because of individual political leaders not taking responsibility when things go wrong. While some have announced abhorrence of violence at some political rallies of late, the condemnatory voices have not been strong enough to deter various political cadres who have continued to fan violence in different parts of the country. We lament the fact that the current spate of violence may have a serious impact on the voter turnout as many eligible voters might fear going to vote due to security concerns.

    6.4 We therefore urge all the politicians across the political divide to make every effort in ensuring an effective way of cadre management and to immediately tone down their confrontational rhetoric. What Zambians are expecting is for them to focus on key governance and developmental issues that will help the electorate to make informed decisions.

    b) Impartial Media

    6.5 The role of the media in the electoral process cannot be over emphasised. All players in the electoral process need access to the mass media to propagate their agendas and programmes in a more efficient way. An impartial media that will treat every player equally is therefore cardinal. Having said this, we believe that both public and private media should adhere to the principle and ethics of fairness and truth.

    6.6 The Public Media bears more responsibility given that it is sustained on public funds. All tax payers, regardless of their political inclinations, are therefore shareholders in the public media bodies. Any leverage given to a political party or candidate facilitates undue advantage for that political party or candidate and therefore manipulates the playing field. We urge the public media to be professional, ensure full and fair coverage of all political parties.

    6.7 We also want to see a private and community based media that remain professional, accommodative and inclusive in its covering of issues. We also want a responsible use and reception of social media. Further we urge all the consumers of the media outlets to be critical of the messages they receive from various media because it is not everything that they read, hear or watch contain the truth especially the information they get from the social media.

    6.8 All in all, we want to see a media that is "professional by reporting truthfully, objectively and factually as they inform the public. We want to see a media landscape that is not polarized where the public media is pro-ruling party while the private media is pro-opposition parties. Whichever media platform one uses, should not fuel hate speech or insults in the name of the right to freely express oneself." (Let there be Peace Among Us - A ZEC Pastoral Statement issued on 23rd January, 2016, #s 27 & 28).

    c) Professional Enforcement of law and order by the Police

    6.9 We know that it is the duty of the police to protect life and property and above all to maintain law and order. We call upon the Zambia Police Service to perform their duties of maintaining law and order professionally and effectively without undue pressure from partisan influence. They should be impartial and apply the law fairly to anyone who breaks the laws of this country. There have also been concerns on the implementation of the Public Order Act and we have made calls in the past that the police should implement the Public Order Act in the most appropriate manner by ensuring that they do not exercise any inconsistencies or biases when dealing with different groups of people for any alleged offences or when political parties have provided notices for the holding of their public meetings and political rallies. Above all, the Zambia Police should be seen to be serving and protecting the Zambian people fairly and equally.

    d) The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)

    6.10 The ECZ is the legally constituted body mandated to manage our elections in such a manner that the right of the people to choose their leaders is unfettered. Given the many pressures exerted on the ECZ by various interest groups during election time, there is need for high levels of integrity by ECZ officers. ECZ should not be seen to be an institution that is being manipulated to suit the interest of one group or political party. The legitimacy of its work will depend on how much the ECZ is seen to be independent in the eyes of the public. We therefore urge the honourable Commissioners and ECZ staff to remain resolute and professionally conduct their business in providing the necessary mechanisms in the electoral process that will guarantee free and fair elections. The ECZ officers must remember that "The Lord demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standards" (Prov. 16:11). Of course, we acknowledge that this is not an easy task. At the same time, we know that the task is possible. The ECZ also needs to work closely with other relevant actors to ensure adherence to the Electoral Code of Conduct by all during the upcoming elections. In most of our elections, the code of conduct has been observed more in breach than in compliance. We hope that this trend shall be reversed henceforth.

    WHO SHOULD WE VOTE FOR

    7. Many times questions are asked for the Church to name a specific party or candidate whom all Christians should rally behind. Some mischievous politicians have even accused the Church of supporting one political party or another. On the other hand, some politicians have used the name of the Church to gain political mileage. The Church does not and will not support or prop up a particular political party or candidate. That is the free choice it leaves to its flock. The Church embraces members from diverse political persuasions and jealously protects their freedom of association. Nonetheless, based on our Christian principles, the Church can provide some guidance that could help its members make informed choices among the many candidates and political parties that present themselves for election.

    8. Drawing from the Social Teaching of Church, the qualities that candidates for political office should have are following: professional competence on political, economic and social programmes, courage to speak out the truth, concern for social justice, desire to work for the common good instead of self-enrichment, disposition to use power for service, especially service of the poor and under-privileged, openness to dialogue, good moral standing, transparency and accountability to the electorate(Cf. Building for Peace, # 11). Above all Christians should realise that they have a moral responsibility to vote for candidates who follow the example of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and who emptied himself for the good of all (Cf. Mk 10:41-45). We must also call to mind the valuable advice given by Jethro to Moses: "But choose from the people at large some capable and God-fearing men, trustworthy and incorruptible, and appoint them as leaders of the people ... " (Ex 18:21). Therefore, Christians should not vote for candidates who are arrogant with a propensity to use violence, people with questionable moral standing, those with proven record of corruption and abuse of power and public resources and those who put narrow sectarian or ethnic interest before national interest and the common good.

    REFERENDUM ON THE REVISED BILL OF RIGHTS

    9. We share the anxiety of many citizens in Zambia on the issue of referendum even as we are near our August elections this year. Little has been done by concerned government bodies to popularise the new and expanded draft Bill of Rights. Again, time seems to be against us in terms of making our people truly and objectively understand the contents of the said Bill and what they will be voting for or against in the proposed Referendum Question: Do you agree to the amendment to the Constitution of Zambia and to repeal and replace Article 79 of the Zambian Constitution? We are aware that some critical concerns have been raised in terms of the complexity of the Referendum Question itself as well as the symbols attached to it. On the other hand, it is our considered view that many of the constitutional changes we need to make that could improve the people's quality of life and dignity hinge on reforming the current Bill of Rights. It is therefore imperative that more effort is made by both government and non-governmental actors, including the Church, to educate the people on the forthcoming elections and counsel them to vote wisely without coercing them to vote either yes or no.

    OUR APPEAL

    10. We call upon all Zambians who registered as voters to turn up and cast their votes during the voting day. Voting is not only a right but also a duty to the country to help identify and put in place credible people who will make the state function in the promotion of the common good. Never get tired of voting, as your apathy will only give greater chance to opportunists to carry the day. Take interest in voter education conducted by non-partisan Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), attend rallies of various political parties and candidates and listen to what they have to say. This will help enrich your knowledge when deciding which candidate or party to vote for.

    11. To you our dear political leaders, we hereby present the following advice from the Lord: "But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10: 43-45).We appeal to all of you political parties to respect the views of others. If you truly want to be chosen for national governance, then you should show commitment to the common good that transcends partisan interests. If elected, you will have a duty to all, including those who are not your members or did not vote for you and your party.

    12. Further we call upon all Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to play an important role in educating, organising and mobilising the public. We call upon them to redouble their efforts in facilitating citizens to make meaningful participation in our electoral process. They should promote voter literacy, organise people against apathy and challenge all actors in the electoral process to behave in an objective manner that respects the rights of other players in the process.

    13. Wecall upon organisations intending to monitor the elections to be adequately prepared for this task. Monitors and observers should be fully trained to understand our electoral system and procedures and also to acquire skills on how they can critically track, systematically analyse and objectively report on election events without causing unnecessary alarm and anxiety. They owe it to the public to do a good job. They should be equally independent and free from manipulation and give the public truthful information about the proceedings of the elections.

    14. To our most esteemed members of the clergy, we exhort you to continue playing the God-given mandate of being a prophetic voice in our society. However, do it in a non-partisan manner and without sacrificing your objectivity. Never tire of proclaiming the message of truth, justice, peace, love, unity, forgiveness and reconciliation. As St. Paul exhorts us: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Gal. 6:9).

    15. Further, we again appeal particularly to our own Catholic priests to remain non-partisan. As we clearly stated in our statement at the beginning of the year: "The Church law is very clear on this (Cf. Canon Law 285 and Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2442). It is morally wrong for the Catholic priest to use the pulpit to campaign for, or de-campaign any political party or parties. In as much as we welcome Catholic politicians to celebrate Mass with us, they must not be given any platform to speak during liturgical celebrations" (Cf. Let there be Peace Among Us, #31).

    16. To our dear lay faithful, we call upon you to get involved in the electoral process. Politics are not dirty; they are contaminated by us people. It is our Christian duty to participate in the civic life of our society. After all, the Gospel challenges you to be "the salt of the earth ... and ... the light of the world... " (Mt 5: 13-14).Use opportunities availed by your structures and programmes to educate yourselves on election issues and urge your members to get involved as voters, and monitors. Finally, use the remaining days to dedicate prayers for the success of the elections but also offer ourselves to God to be his instruments in transforming the society into a better world. As already pointed out, you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Politics must therefore taste differently where you have been involved. This indeed should be your footprint.

    17. We make a special appeal to you, the youth, with the conviction that you have a greater stake in the future of this nation. We challenge you to be architects of a better Zambia by being agents of peace and reconciliation. We appeal to our youth to "refuse to be used as mere tools of violence by politicians" (Let there be peace among us,# 26)

    CONCLUSION

    18. In conclusion, we appeal to all Zambians to realise that voting is one of their fundamental rights and duties. It is also a Christian duty. It is a means through which citizens peacefully and freely choose their leaders. We thus pray that all citizens enter the August 11 general elections with a spirit of honesty, avoiding bribes and cheating. We also pray that all voters, political party leaders and their cadres may have at heart, the needed passion and commitment to build for peace and avoid all forms of violence. As St. Paul exhorts us, "Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody"(Romans 12:18).We also call to mind the inspiring Word of God:" For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). These words from prophet Jeremiah are a clear testimony of what God desires for all His people. God wants nothing more than to see his people enjoy the fullness of life. However, God needs our cooperation as his people to ensure that this hope for a better future becomes a reality. The coming elections offer us an opportunity to elect leaders with the necessary attributes and vision that can bring about this better future. May God bless our nation!

    Issued at Kapingila House, Lusaka, on 17th July, 2016 and signed by:

    + Most Rev. Telesphore-George Mpundu -Archbishop of Lusaka and ZEC President

    + Rt. Rev. Dr. Alick Banda - Bishop of Ndola and ZEC Vice-President

    + Most Rev. Ignatius Chama -Archbishop of Kasama

    + Rt. Rev. Raymond Mpezele - Apostolic Administrator of Livingstone

    + Rt. Rev. George Cosmas Zumaile Lungu - Bishop of Chipata

    + Rt. Rev. Charles Kasonde -Bishop of Solwezi

    + Rt. Rev. Evans ChinyamaChinyemba, OMI - Bishop of Mongu

    + Rt. Rev. Clement Mulenga, SDB - Bishop of Kabwe

    + Rt. Rev. Patrick Chilekwa Chisanga, OFM Conv -Bishop of Mansa

    + Rt. Rev. Moses Hamungole -Bishop of Monze

    + Rt. Rev. Justin Mulenga - Bishop of Mpika

    + Rt. Rev. Benjamin S. Phiri - Auxiliary Bishop of Chipata

    + Rt. Rev. Aaron Chisha - Bishop Emeritus of Mansa

    + Mons. Valentine Kalumba, OMI - Bishop Elect of Livingstone

  • Bishops in Southern Africa Plead for End to Political Killings

    The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) || 21 July 2016

    sacbc no to political killingsBishop Gabuza, the chair person for the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission, has made a desperate plea for an end to the rise in political assassinations ahead of next month's municipal polls, calling the trend “one of the biggest threats to South Africa’s hard-won democracy.”

    “We are saddened to see that, after 22 years into democracy, political killings, which are sad reminders of our painful past, are still happening,” He said.

    This followed the latest spate of shootings in KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed the lives of two ANC candidates within a few hours of each other.

    Those two incidents took the number of seemingly politically motivated killings to at least 12, since the start of the elections period. The province of KwaZulu-Natal has borne the brunt of violence, with police stats showing that some 90% of presumed political killings took place there.

    The growing violence, particularly in KZN, is reminiscent of the low-level civil war that raged in the province ahead of the first democratic elections in 1994.

    “We should make sure that we do not develop into a country where assassinations of candidates before elections are considered normal. Given the sacredness of human life, even a death of one candidate during an election should be considered as one too many,” Bishop Gabuza said.

    Bishop Gabuza also called on the criminal justice system to deal effectively deal with the spate of killings, regardless of the “party political affiliation” of those involved.

    With the number of political killings rising ahead of the upcoming local government elections, concerns have been raised over the low conviction rate.

    “High conviction rates could serve as a strong deterrent against political killings,” He said.

    For further information or interviews please contact:

    Bishop Abel Gabuza, Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission for

    the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference,

    Tel. 053 831 1861 or 053 831 1862. Email: dagabuza@gmail.com

    Website: http://sacbcjusticeandpeace.org/

    Source: The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference…

  • Partner Organizations Promise Continued Solidarity with Church in Africa

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

    partner organizations to support church in africaSome of the Catholic funding organizations that have over the years partnered with the Catholic Church in Africa to implement programs have pledged to continue this partnership despite the economic hardships they are experiencing.

    Representatives from the organizations confirmed continued partnerships while addressing delegates and participants in Luanda, Angola, at the official opening of the weeklong Plenary Assembly of Bishops in Africa under the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

    Despite the Brexit, the possible resultant financial challenges, and particularly the impact on the African trade, the representative of the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), assured the African Bishops of continued partnership.

    “Whatever the scenario, please be assured that the bishops of England and Wales and its agency CAFOD is committed to continue supporting the Church in Africa and will do so regardless of stormy horizons,” CAFOD’s Chris Bain said Tuesday in his good will message to the African Bishops gathering in Luanda, Angola.

    Referring to a Global Fund review on organizations’ performance in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic during its early days, Sean Callaham of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) noted that the Catholic Church “was so far superior to other organizations.”

    “There were many factors, but the principal factor was trust,” Callaham said and added, “The interventions promoted by the Church respected human dignity, the family, and the sacredness of human life, and it ensured that the family unit was maintained by insuring parents lived to care for their children.”

    He looked forward to the discussions of the African Bishop delegates on the theme of the family in Africa in view of responding “to the challenges ahead through communion/solidarity, inspiration and courage, and by responding to the opportunities that the future holds.”

    Markus Buker of Misereor, the German Bishops’ funding agency, confirmed his organization’s keen interest on the issue of family and the plan to roll out projects in this regard.

    He promised their continued partnership with the Church in Africa saying Misereor has “enjoyed a strong partnership with the Catholic Church in Africa and Madagascar” from it’s very inception in 1958, especially the shared principle of “the preferential option for the poor.”

    Klaus Kramer of Missio Aachen revealed that in the last three years, his organization has supported the Church in Africa “with more than 34million Euros and we will continue to do so.”

    Meanwhile, Angola’s Vice-President, Manuel Vicente, who was the guest of honor at the official opening of the Bishops’ Plenary Assembly acknowledged the role of the Church in the building of a just society and advocated for continued collaboration and cooperation with governments on the continent.

    He particularly underlined the need for joint efforts in condemning violence, child abuse, immorality, among other vices in society and the family. He also lauded the African Bishops for having obtained the Observer Status with the African Union (AU) through its umbrella body, SECAM.

    ‘We live in world of complexities and ideologies so much so that what happens in one part of the world has direct or indirect effect on the family and society in general in other parts of it,’ Angola’s Vice-President said.

    The Bishop delegates will elect SECAM officials on Saturday and conclude the 17th Plenary Assembly with a common message to the people of God on the continent and the celebration of the Eucharist, open to the public, on Sunday, July 24.

  • Bishops in Africa Encouraged to “Revolutionize Church media Presence”

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

    african bishops to revolutionize digital media aCatholic Bishops in Africa have been encouraged to engage the modern digital media and ensure presence on the various social and networking forums considering that these platforms are “the new pulpits of our time.”

    Bishop Emmanuel Badejo of Oyo diocese, Nigeria, made the encouragement Wednesday, to the delegates and participants at the ongoing meeting of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Angola’s capital city, Luanda.

    “The Church must absolutely be more present on the digital media in a deliberate and informed manner,” Bishop Badejo said and called on Church leaders on the continent to “create new apostles, make allies of young people themselves who are natives of the digital world and entrust them with the gospel values.”

    He went on to call on Church leaders to invest in modern digital media saying, “It is beyond contestation that billions of people today turn to the social media for their source of information yet there is too little investment in media programmes for evangelization in Africa.”

    Bishop Badejo who was facilitating a workshop titled “Influence of modern media and new ideologies on the family in Africa today” urged Church leaders to “develop and engage families in media education or educational awareness programs on the benefits and dangers of the new media.”

    “Parents who are not familiar with how the Internet works are more likely to ignore the dangers,” he noted and added, “This is truer in Africa.”

    He proposed the organization of “diocesan and parish seminars that target parents and children,” which need to be facilitated by experts in the modern media field.

    african bishops to revolutionize digital media bHe also challenged “Church leaders (bishops, clergy and religious)” to become familiar “with the knowledge of current social, moral and religious issues in order to provide informed answers to people's questions.”

    “There is no gainsaying that we all live in an era of technology take over which will only increase in the future,” Bishop Badejo who also heads the Pan African Committee of Bishops for Social Communications (CEPAS) said.

    There is a negative use of modern digital media in some situations, he acknowledged. However, he said, the Church must “keep believing that the benefits of the new media far outweigh their demerits even with respect to pastoral possibilities and spiritual engagement.”

    Gathering under the theme of the family in Africa in the light of the Gospel, the delegates representing Catholic Bishops in Africa, among them seven Cardinals, are expected to propose specific pastoral guidelines for family apostolate, reaffirming marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

  • Bishop in Malawi to Lead Youth Delegates to WYD 2016

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By Prince Henderson, ECM Communications || 18 July 2016

    malawi bishop accompanies youth to wyd 2016Bishop Peter Musikuwa, Chairman for the youth apostolate under Pastoral Directorate of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, is set to lead Fifteen Malawian youths who will be travelling to Poland to attend a one-week World Youth Day celebrations in which Pope Francis is expected to participate.

    The delegates who will be setting off on Monday 18, July; have been drawn from secondary schools and colleges and will also be accompanied by two priests.

    His Lordship Bishop Peter Musikuwa
    In a communication, His Lordship Musikuwa, who is also the Bishop of Chikwawa Diocese, said, “This is a special time that God has set aside for the youth in the Church to wholly increase their faith amidst all sorts of disturbances encountered every passing day.”

    He said that this year’s World Youth Day whose theme is: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy, as taken from Mathew 5:7, will give Malawi’s Catholic Youths an opportunity to learn and share their faith with other Catholic Youths worldwide.

    “This year’s World Youth Day is so significant to the Polish Church as it is attributed to the Founder of the World Youth Day, St John Paul II-Pope,” he said.

    Excited about the trip to Poland, Alinafe Kondwani, a student in journalism at Malawi Polytechnic College said she feels proud to be part of the Malawian youths going for the World Youth Day.

    “This is a rare moment to actually meet the Pope and interact with other youths from other countries. As a student, I am going to learn a lot from this World Youth Day. I feel proud to be a Catholic honestly,” she said.

    World Youth Day is an international Catholic event (festival) focused on faith and youth. This is the second time that Poland is hosting the World Youth Day as it hosted it in 1991.

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi… 

  • Church Leaders’ Statement on National Crisis in Zimbabwe

    For Press Release    

    church leaders on zimbabwe crisis july 2016We, as Church leaders in Zimbabwe (see the names in the footnotes), concerned and alarmed by the unfortunate unfolding events in our beloved country, saddened by the political, social and economic meltdown, which has caused untold suffering of the masses and the resultant civic unrest and violence that has erupted across the land and the failure by our Government and almost all political leaders to be responsive to the cries of our people.

    Concerned by the apparent disregard of the Constitution of Zimbabwe by the police and Government through selective application of the law, failure to decisively deal with corruption, exclusion of citizens in determining their destiny and the politicization of people’s genuine complaints and pains; We are concerned about intra- party conflicts that are distracting Government from dealing with real economic and social issues that are affecting the country.

    We are inspired by our call and mandate given to us by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to prophetically declare the Word of God and work for the common good for our communities; “…loose the chains of injustice and the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free” (Isaiah 58:6) and “Let justice run down like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).

    We call upon our Government to listen to the cries of citizens whose cries and sufferings are loud and clear. There is need to act justly and mercifully on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged in our nation.

    As Church and community leaders, we condemn brutality by the law enforcement agencies on citizens. We implore the Government to redirect the law enforcement agencies to uphold their constitutional role of protecting citizens instead of brutalizing them. The citizens’ constitutional right to demonstrate and protest must be protected. In exercising this right, we implore citizens to always remain peaceful in their demonstrations.

    These are the issues people have raised that need to be addressed urgently:

    • High unemployment rate of over 80%  
    • Need to account for the US$15 billion diamond revenue that is reported to be missing by His Excellency the President,
    • Moves to impose Bond Notes despite clear resistance from the economic sector and citizens,
    • Loss of trust in Government’s ability to pay its workforce as evidenced by the Stay Away on the 6th of July 2016 and continued threats of industrial action by civil servants,
    • Collapsed parastatals caused by rampant corruption and high levels of unaccountability and impunity,
    • Lack of consultation when implementing policies like the National School Pledge that has led to resistance and constitutional challenges from citizens,
    • Imposition of restrictions on imports thus crippling cross border business and destroying livelihoods for thousands of Zimbabweans,
    • Burden of unnecessary police roadblocks which are fueling corruption,

    Given all this, citizens have lost confidence and trust in our Government. Therefore, there is urgent need for National Dialogue between the Government and different national stakeholders, towards finding a lasting solution than to ignore, politicize people’s genuine grievances and label them as opposition or demonize and harass the Church and her leaders.  

    We raise concern on growing harassment and arrests of religious leaders, such as the recent arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire, and also the intimidation to other pastors speaking on behalf of powerless people. These grievances must be viewed as the early warning signs which indicate underlying and simmering tensions that will soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed. We call upon the Government to immediately investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents   that are alleged to have brutalized people. The Government should also urgently act and address these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid   total collapse of the State.

    We call upon the Church, which is the salt and light of this nation, to continue to pray and also to speak out prophetically against any unjust system, until we have a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe in which every citizen’s God given and constitutional rights are respected.

    The Zimbabwe We Want is a nation that respects the rights of all its citizens regardless of creed, gender, age, race and ethnicity; a nation where all citizens enjoy equal protection of the law; a nation that is God-fearing evidenced by the love for justice, righteousness, peace and loving one’s neighbour as oneself. May God grant us Zimbabweans, the courage, faith and hope to face our challenges.

    God Bless Zimbabwe and her people.

  • Indian Archdiocese Makes African Nationals Feel at Home

    Matters India || By Adolf Washington || 17 July 2016

    indian archdiocese hospitable to africansA Catholic archdiocese in southern India is trying to reach out to migrants from various African nations in the backdrop of increasing attacks on people from the world’s second-largest continent.

    “You are precious before God and are dear to all of us. We welcome you without any reservation,” Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore told more than 100 African nationals on July 17.

    He was addressing aspecial program organized by the archdiocese for African nationals at St. Josephs Boys School in the capital city of Karnataka state.

    The prelate said the Church feels “blessed to have peoples from different cultures as they enrich us to grow in our understanding of Global cultures and expand our spiritual horizons.”

    The archbishop had created the Bangalore Archdiocesan Commission for Migrants in October 2015 to make people hailing from different countries and other Indian states “feel accepted and at home” in Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of India.

    The archdiocesan initiative comes in the backdrop of a few incidents of attacks on African nationals in some Indian cities such as New Delhi. Local people in these cities tend to look at these immigrants with suspicion after a few incidents of crime involving them.

    With increasing job prospects, Bengaluru is witnessing a steady influx of people from various countries and Indian states.

    A five-day India-Africa Summit held in New Delhi in October 2015 has helped improved relationship between India and countries in Africa. Subsequently, New Delhi announced a doubling of India’s assistance to African states, through a US$10 billion loan concession and US$600 million in terms of grant assistance.

    Viewed as the cementing of long standing friendships between the two continents, an attempt to take this forward crystallized in the form of the May 2016 Africa Day Celebrations in New Delhi with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

    However, 42 countries threatened to boycott the event in the wake of attacks against African nationals in the country and the murder of Masonga Kitanda Olivier, a 23-year-old Congolese French teacher.

    In March 2015, men from Ivory Coast were targeted in northeast Bengaluru where locals reportedly found the African community to be a “nuisance.” A mob of over 20 people threw stones and beer bottles at African students on passing vehicles. There were also the assault of a man on a motorbike as well as of four students in a car, which passed the location of the previous attack soon after.

    “Given the pervading climate of fear and insecurity in Delhi, the African heads of mission are left with little option than to consider recommending to their governments not to send new students to India, unless and until their safety can be guaranteed,” said Alem Tsehage Woldemariam, ambassador of Eritrea, when asked about the death.

    A strong letter demanding improved safety measures was sent to the Indian Government by envoys. The Association of African Students of India and scores of individual African students had intended to hold an anti-racism rally to condemn the act and bring to light the issue of discrimination that they faced, though the rally was put on hold subsequently.

    Several participants of the archdiocesan program applauded the initiative.

    The archdiocesan commission regularly organizes spiritual and cultural programs in various parts of the city to make the migrants feel accepted and cared for by the Church.

    The Sunday program was exclusively organized for Africans working and studying in and around Bengaluru

    Odo Amos Ikechukwu, a youth from Nigeria, told the gathering “It feels so good that we have a home away from home. Ever since I realized that Bangalore Archdiocese has a commission for the likes of us, I never felt lost or lonely. We feel it is a spiritual treat for us.”

    William Kengne Gatchuessi Guillaume from Cameroon applauded the archbishop “for initiating a commission that helps people feel a sense of belonging to the Catholic Church and the love and watchful care of God while we build our careers here.”

    Fr. Shaju Kalappurakkal, executive secretary for the Commission, told Matters India that it was the first time the commission organized something special for the African community in the archdiocese.

    “It is very uplifting to see their zeal, vibrant participation and thirst for spiritual services. We are gradually expanding the scope of activities and trying to bring many more migrants together. With Bengaluru being so vast a city, it is indeed a herculean task. But we are thankful for the co-operation we are receiving,” he added.

    Jesuit Father Martin Puthussery, general secretary for the commission, steered the gathering into discussions on pertinent subjects related to the life of migrants the world over.

    The participants included Fr. Joseph Antony, rector of Jesuit Nivas, and priests and religious associated with the commission’s activities.

    Source: Matters India… 

  • SECAM Plenary Set to Officially Open Tuesday in Angola

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 18 July 2016

    angola secam plenary preparedThe 17th Plenary Assembly of Catholic Bishops in Africa under the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) is set to officially open Tuesday, July 19, in Angola’s capital city, Luanda, with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Holy Family Parish.

    Most of the expected 150 delegates, among them Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Secretaries General of Regional and National Bishops’ Conferences in Africa, resource persons, as well as representatives of other continental Bishops’ conferences and partner agencies, arrived in Luanda Monday, July 18.

    Members of SECAM Standing Committee who had arrived in Luanda by Monday afternoon held their last preparatory meeting ahead of the official opening of the Plenary Assembly.

    The agenda of the Plenary Assembly, the visit by Angola’s top government officials, the assigning of functions and logistical matters were among the issues this committee, charged with the function “to direct the affairs of SECAM between Plenary Assemblies” discussed Monday afternoon.

    “There was a happy mood among the members who are all looking forward to this meeting where all Africa is represented,” Archbishop Thomas Msusa of Blantyre, Malawi, a member of SECAM Standing Committee representing the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) told CANAA at the venue of the meeting.

    The meeting is being held at Diamante Hotel in Angola’s capital city, Luanda.

    “As Africa, we want to be more united. We are looking forward to having a common voice to common issues and to be prophetic in the face of injustices on our continent, defending the poor and the rights of Christian families against evils,” Archbishop Msusa told CANAA, making reference to the theme of the Plenary Assembly.

    The theme of this 17th Plenary Assembly is, “The family in Africa, yesterday, today, and tomorrow: in the light of the gospel”

    “During this assembly, we shall also be seeking ways of strengthening SECAM to grow against challenges such as financial,” Archbishop Msusa went on to say and added, “We hope to have a common stand on fundraising for SECAM including the annual statutory contributions, and to see ways of strengthening the work of eight regional bodies that make up SECAM.”

    SECAM will turn 50 in 2019, having been officially launched in 1969 by Pope Paul VI in Uganda during the first-ever visit of a Pope to Africa.

    The 16th Plenary Assembly of SECAM was held in Kinshasa, DR Congo, from July 8 to 15, 2013, under the theme, “The Church in Africa at the service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.”

  • Malawi’s Justice and Peace Commission Advocates for Corporate Social Responsibility

    Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) || By ECM Communications || 12 July 2016

    malawi cjp for corporate social responsibilityThe Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has expressed the need for stakeholders working in the mining sector who include Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), government and companies to deepen their understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

    Acting National Coordinator for CCJP, Martin Chiphwanya said this in Lilongwe during a one-day workshop for Civil Society Organizations aimed at reflect their role in ensuring Corporate Social Responsibility.

    “Corporate Social Responsibility is a component which has become trendy in the business world. However, it still remains a concept which is not properly understood by many stakeholders. Social Responsibilities arise in the context of corporate-stakeholder relationship. It is of utmost importance that corporate should have responsibilities and obligations to their stakeholders because businesses do not operate in a vacuum,” said Chiphwanya.

    Chiphwanya said the training workshop would therefore equip participants with a better understanding of what CSR entails.

    “It is important that companies should attend to the interests and issues of the wider community by taking into account issues of CSR. The role of uplifting poor masses is beyond government alone. As CSOs, it is our role to engage firms more especially those whose activities impact on the environment such as mining firms to view CSR as an important component of maintaining good rapport in communities,” he said.

    According to Chiphwanya, in Malawi, CSR is part and parcel of the daily talk of companies and communities including government. However, CSR in Malawi is not regulated by any policy or legal document as such it is an idle talk hence it’s a mere interest topic for many stakeholders with both positive and negative ramifications.

    The facilitator of the workshop, Daniel Kamanga said that with the booming of the extractives industries, if CSR has no legal and policy framework to regulate it, specifically, the mining sector will operate at its own provisions.

    He said that the challenge so far is that there are no legal provisions and policy provisions to regulate companies CSR activities and as such most companies CSR activities are seldom done in consultation with communities as such some CSR concrete interventions are not reflecting the needs of the people.

    “There is limited, if not non existing citizens or community participation in the choices of CSR activities of various investors in Malawi as such there is no community ownership of such developmental activities,” said Kamanga.

    According to Kamanga, taking advantage of the absence of the laws and policies regulating CSR interventions, Investors are more into marketing activities through dominant media coverage- yet this is supposed to be a mandatory, as the global experiences are indicating. Meanwhile, Extractive Industries Desk Officer for CCJP, Success Joel Sikwese says as CSOs, they are now demanding for a renewed zeal from government to incorporate in the anticipate new legislations in mining CRS pieces of legislation.

    He also said an overarching CSR policy for all investors is needed in Malawi to regulate and guide the implementation of CSR interventions with possible monitoring and compliance reinforcement mechanisms.

    The training was organized by CCJP as one of the activities in the Tonse Tipindule mining governance project which is being implemented with support from Tilitonse Fund through Norwegian Church Aid. Among the participants to the training workshop included; Citizen for justice, Church & Society, Focus, OXFAM, Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi and Evangelical Association of Malawi, Mining and Trade Review, Norwegian Church Aid

    Source: Episcopal Conference of Malawi… 

  • Zimbabwe's Church Leaders Warn of Unrest if Citizens' Protests Not Heard

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Bronwen Dachs || 14 July 2016

    zimbabwe church leaders warn of unrestZimbabwe's church leaders called on the government to listen to the cries of its suffering citizens, warning that their grievances could "soon explode into civil unrest if not addressed."

    Church groups -- including the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Student Christian Movement of Zimbabwe -- criticized the politicizing of "people's genuine grievances" and the harassment of churches and their leaders.

    In a July 14 statement, they condemned the brutality of police officers' treatment of protesters in demonstrations against grim economic conditions and noted their concern at the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire and the intimidation of other church leaders "speaking on behalf of powerless people."

    On July 13, a Harare court freed Pastor Mawarire, who organized the largest national stay-away strike in nearly a decade; the court ruled that police violated his rights.

    The church leaders said among problems that need urgent attention are the collapse of companies -- partially or wholly owned by the government -- because of "rampant corruption and high levels of unaccountability and impunity." They also warned of the "imposition of restrictions on imports, thus crippling cross-border business and destroying livelihoods for thousands of Zimbabweans."

    Massive unemployment, "moves to impose bond notes despite clear resistance" and the "loss of trust in the government's ability to pay its workforce" are other severe problems, they said.

    President Robert Mugabe's administration, which spends more than 80 percent of its revenue on wages for state workers, faces a worsening cash shortage. In a bid to end hyperinflation, it abandoned its own currency in 2009 and uses mainly U.S. dollars.

    Most people in Zimbabwe, with a population of close to 16 million, survive on $1 a day. They eke out a living in small-scale informal trade, mostly selling goods bought in South Africa.

    The church leaders said they are alarmed and saddened by the "political, social and economic meltdown, which has caused untold suffering of the masses and the resultant civic unrest and violence that has erupted across the land, and the failure by our government and almost all political leaders to be responsive to the cries of our people."

    Conflicts within 92-year-old Mugabe's ruling party "are distracting the government from dealing with real economic and social issues that are affecting the country," they said.

    The government should address "these genuine concerns of the citizens to avoid the total collapse of the state," the church leaders said, noting the "need to act justly and mercifully on behalf of the poor."

    Noting that Zimbabweans' constitutional right to protest must be protected, the church leaders called on the government to prosecute law enforcement agents found to have brutalized protesters.

    Because Zimbabweans "have lost confidence and trust in our government," there is an urgent need for a national dialogue between the government and others to find a lasting solution to the crisis, they said.

  • South Sudan Archbishop Makes Wrenching Appeal for Help to Save Lives

    Vatican Radio || By Linda Bordoni || 12 July 2016

    wrenching appeal for help in s sudanAs tens of thousands of people are displaced by violence in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, the Catholic Church and other faith-based groups are doing their best to offer protection and aid despite a total lack of means.

    Fighting erupted four days ago in Juba between followers of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.

    Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni just moments after meeting with South Sudan’s Vice President and other top government officials, the Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro said the humanitarian situation is so desperate “this is the moment, for anyone that can, to step in and save lives”.

    Archbishop Lukudu also said that on a political level the cessation of hostilities agreed on Monday evening seems to be holding, and that now the government needs to recompose and take decisions for the good of the nation which risks sliding back into all-out war

    Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro says the Vice-President had just informed him of the situation confirming the cessation of hostilities across the nation and that all military personnel have been ordered to report back to their own garrisons.

    The Archbishop confirmed that there has been no fighting since 6pm on Monday evening and he said the government will now have to re-gather, recompose and talk.

    However he talks of a dramatic humanitarian situation in Juba where the UN has said there are some 36,000 people displaced by violence.

    “In our Catholic Churches and communities we have more than 16,000 displaced people with many more in Mosques and in other faith based communities” he said.

    Archbishop Lukudu said the people being sheltered are calm “but they are not going back home because they are not sure the decision taken will hold.”

    Many, he pointed out, cannot go home because their houses have been shelled and looted and they are afraid to leave the Churches or places of displacement.

    “The situation is calm, but on the ground the humanitarian situation is one of misery” and support is urgently needed, he said.

    The Archbishop said he has no first hand evidence but he has heard the Red Cross is delivering some aid. The Church itself – he said – has no means.

    “I do not know how I can make myself understood and comprehended very well, but our situation is very difficult” he said. 

    And with a heartfelt appeal he continued: “if there is anyone at all that can help us, this is the moment to save lives”.

    If the people of Juba and of South Sudan do not receive assistance “a lot of us will die”.

    His appeal, the Archbishop said, is “to the whole world, to our own brothers and sisters in faith in our humanity, if they can at all help us in this particular moment” which has been imposed on us “we shall be very grateful and thankful to them that they will save lives”.

    The Archbishop says the UN is present in Juba running refugee camps but UN personnel is  not able to travel freely in the city to help all the people sheltered in Churches, in Mosques and in other communities.

    Archbishop Lukudu says all the faith-based organizations in the country are engaged in dialogue with the leaders. 

    And he points out that the desperate people fleeing violence turn to faith-based groups without fear “and so we are doing our best, sharing what we have”.

    Archbishop Lukudu concludes: “I know there are many sufferings in the world but ours – in this moment – was not expected and if we can be rescued and helped, we would be very grateful, and I want to thank anybody who will do that”.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • A Nairobi-based Catholic College in Search for Vice and Deputy Vice-Chancellors Ahead of University Charter

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

    tangaza searching vc dvcsNairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC) has started the process of getting a Vice-Chancellor (VC), a Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Administration and Finances, and a DVC for Academic and Student Affairs as the tertiary institute awaits its University Charter.

    Details about the three vacancies, which include summaries of responsibilities and functions, qualifications, and how to apply, were uploaded on TUC website on Tuesday, July 12, indicating 12 August 2016 deadline.

    Applications are to be addressed to TUC Principal.

    “We have applied to the Kenya Commission for University Education to receive a university charter, and the process is far advanced,” TUC Principal, Father Steven Payne, OCD, told CANAA Thursday.

    He said that the search for the VC and the two DVCs was continuing the preparatory process for TUC to become a fully-fledged University and that successful applicants would “step into the job when the charter is granted -- hopefully within a few months.”

    In April 2012, officials from Kenya’s Commission for University Education (CUE) inspected TUC, which is jointly owned by the member religious congregations, and expressed their general satisfaction on the progress the institute has made to fulfil the elaborate conditions set out by Kenya’s Universities Act 2012.

    “We are also working on a merger with Marist International University College,” Father Payne also told CANAA, referring to the Memorandum of Understanding Tangaza College signed with the Nairobi-based Marist International University College (MIUC) in April 2016 to merge into a single institution, expected to become “Tangaza University."

    Both TUC and MIUC are constituent colleges of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA).

    All the prepared adverts for the three positions conclude with the note: “Tangaza University College is an equal opportunity employer. Women, marginalized and persons living with disability are encouraged to apply.”

    The VC who will be “the Chief Executive Officer responsible for academic and administrative matters of the University” is expected to have “a minimum of 7 years’ experience in a senior educational leadership/management position or at least served as a Dean or a college/campus principal for at least 5 years,” among other qualifications.

    Candidates applying for the position of DVC for Academic and Student Affairs are expected to have “demonstrable ability in the management of academic planning and programs, and management of the same at an institution of higher learning, and the capacity to motivate and counsel faculty and students,” among other qualifications.

    The person to be appointed DVC for Administration and Finances is expected to have “a doctorate degree in a relevant field and preferably ranked an associate professor from a recognized University,” as well as “a minimum of 7 years’ experience in a senior administrative or financial management position or served as a Dean or college/campus principal for at least 3 years,” among other qualifications.

    Having taken as its slogan, “Teaching Minds, Touching Hearts, Transforming Lives,” TUC is a diverse tertiary institution with students from over 50 countries and 100 religious congregations as well as a growing number of lay students from all over Africa.

  • Annual Formation Program for Communication and Media Skills for Youth and Social Work Ongoing in Nairobi

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 11 July 2016

    communication and media skills for youth 2016An annual formation program in “Communication and Media Skills for youth and Social Work” began last week in Nairobi with 23 participants from Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda in attendance.

    The five-week program, which kicked off on Monday, July 4, is being offered by Bosco Eastern Africa Multimedia Services (BEAMS) and the Department of Social Communication of the Salesian Province of East Africa.

    This is the second successive year that the training has been organized.

    “The overall goal of the Certificate Programme is to equip social workers, particularly those dealing with youth in church and secular contexts, with knowledge and skills in the use of modern means of communication,” The Director of BEAMS, Salesian Father Sebastian Koladiyil told CANAA over the weekend.

    The participants who include priests, religious men and women, and lay people are beneficiaries of the Catholic Scholarship Program studying in the following Institutions of Higher learning: Tangaza College, CUEA, Regina Pacis, University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Marisht College and Hekima College.

    “Since they are sponsored by the Catholic scholarship program during the holiday they have to take various formation programs. The two options given to them this year are Counselling and Communication. This group chose communication,” Father Koladiyil told CANAA.

    Asked if the participants have to pay for the formation program, Father Koladiyil said, “They are fully sponsored but they have to contribute only the consumables such as writing materials, come with laptop, camera etc.”

    Father Koladiyil further said that the “intense program” is divided into five modules running daily from Monday through Friday and that each module takes 30 hours.

    He also revealed the expected learning outcome of the program saying, “the participant will be able to have a broad understanding of the important theories in communication, analyse critically the social issues involved in the use of modern means of communication, consume critically modern means of communication in their own personal life and for their study and work, apply some skills in the use of the means of communication for improved intervention in social transformation, particularly in youth work, in the context of the church and society and finally exhibit enthusiasm towards acquiring more skills in the use of media.”

    The learning methods of the program include lectures, group discussions, practical (hands-on) sessions, role-plays, Power Point presentations, videos, individual and group projects. The participants will be evaluated by means of a personal and group project.

    Those facilitating the program are resource persons drawn from various media houses around Nairobi and other experts in the field of Communication, Youth work and Catechesis.

    Some of the topics being addressed include: Models of Communication, Photography and Photojournalism, Audio editing skills, Proof reading and publication process and skills, Submission and processing of Manuscripts for publication and all related legal, technical and marketing challenges, Film Critique, Effective power point presentation, Introduction to web-design / Blog, Effective use of on-line resources, Introduction to Video shooting and editing, Introduction to basic electricity and sound, Social concern in Music / Pop stars and popular culture, Songs and vulgarity / Guidelines for liturgical music/Drama in Liturgy, Notice board-an effective means of communication/Preparing posters, Analysis of advertisement/ Advertising: Issues and Ethics, Newspaper analysis, Use of media for social change / mass media and persuasion, Alternative Media, Public Speaking, Writing Skills…  

    “The participants expressed their enthusiasm in learning and equipping themselves with media skills during the first session,” Father Koladiyil told CANAA and added, “Every participant will be given two training manuals as course material at the end of the training.”

    The participants will also be awarded certificates.

    The formation program is taking place at the Don Bosco Youth Educational Services (DBYES) in Karen, Nairobi and will conclude on August 5, 2016.

  • Let Integrity Be Your Hallmark in Poland, Catholic Youths in Nigeria Told

    Catholic News Service of Nigeria (CNSN) || 06 July 2016

    integrity call on nigerians at wyd 2016Catholic youths going for the World Youth Day celebration in Krakaw, Poland, this month, have been called upon to portray the Nigerian nation and Church in good light with a view of correcting the negative representation of the country by the Western media.

    This however can only be done if the pilgrims comport themselves, and uphold their integrity as good ambassadors of the country and the Nigerian church.

    This admonition was contained in a presentation titled: The Integrity of the Nigerian Youth, delivered by Rev. Fr. Zacharia Samjumi, at a preparatory seminar organized for the over 170 pilgrims attending the celebration in Krakaw, Poland.

    The programme was organized by the Youth Committee unit of the department of Pastoral Agents of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN). The programme took place at the Daughters of Divine Love Retreat and Conference Centre (DRACC), Lugbe, Abuja.

    Fr Samjumi who spoke extensively on: integrity, the traits that determine integrity and the need to emphasize the virtue; and integrity in the context of the World Youth Day Pilgrimage; outlined the qualities expected of the pilgrims while in Poland.

    His words: “Our reasons are to strengthen our faith, build communion, share cultural experiences, pray with young people from other countries and by so doing, widen our horizons. We must also state, we will go not only as simple pilgrims, but also as ambassadors representing both the Catholic Church in Nigeria and Nigeria as a nation.”

    He continued: “It is by our presence that others will get to know more about the Church in Nigeria and Nigeria as a nation. Let other people not condemn us or hold us in disdain simply because we are Nigerians, we must allow others to judge us by the content of our characters. Thus, we will necessarily need to horn our integrity so as to represent our country very well.”

    Emphasizing the need for the delegates to build and uphold their integrity, Fr Samjumi rolled out the dos and donts’ of the journey, the CSN Deputy Secretary General reminded them to take cognizance of the challenges the country is experiencing, one of which ( the Boko Haram) insurgency has put the nation in bad light among the comity of nations.

    Stressing the importance of discipline and impeccable integrity in the course of the pilgrimage, Fr. Samjumi declared: “Discipline not in the sense of punishment, but in the sense of controlling one’s appetites, to order them in the course of good, not only for oneself, but also for others.”

    He continued: “Living with constrain in itself is a training in building integrity. “... integrity is importantly connected to acting morally, conforming to principles that bear universal value.” He gave the traits that determine integrity to include; conscience, honesty, compassion and empathy as well equality, among others.

    Source: Catholic News Service of Nigeria...

  • Africa to be Consecrated to the Divine Mercy on 14 September

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 11 July 2016

    consecration of africa to divine mercy 2016The Holy Father, Pope Francis Monday appointed Cardinal Pasinya Laurent Monsengwo, the Archbishop of Kinshasa (DRC), as his special envoy to the Third Congress for Africa and Madagascar on Divine Mercy (AMACOM), which will be held in Kigali (Rwanda) from 9 September to 15 September 2016.

    Speaking about the Apostolic Congress on Mercy, Father Stanislas Filipek, the AMACOM Coordinator says the Congress has a continental scope to offer inner healing and reconciliation rooted in mercy. 

    “We are currently living a Jubilee Year of Mercy. A Congress, which has a continental scope, on Divine Mercy to be held in Rwanda from 9 to 15 September 2016, is to be considered as one of the pastoral events of the Universal Church of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of mercy. The Congress, through its general theme, ‘Divine Mercy source of hope for the New Evangelization in Africa’ would like to meet men and women of Africa in the evil that hurts them, often causing hatred and offer them a process of inner healing and reconciliation rooted in mercy through their own experience of the Divine mercy. We hope that this Congress offers participants a time of prayer and encounter with the merciful Lord; a time of reflection and deepening of faith in God, rich in mercy, but also an opportunity to be in fellowship in their diversity,” Said Fr.  Filipek.

    Fr. Filipek says that during the Apostolic Congress on Mercy two special events will be key.

    “During the Congress, two special events are reserved: The act of consecration of the African continent to the Divine Mercy, on 14 September, at the closing of this Congress. Then second, the pilgrimage of all participants at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows in Kibeho on 15 September,” the AMACOM coordinator announced. 

    Rwanda says it is ready to welcome pilgrims to the Congress that will be held at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Kabuga in the Archdiocese of Kigali, Rwanda. 

    A Novena is available on the internet page: http://sanctuary.kabuga.com

    Source: Vatican Radio… 

  • Church Leaders in South Sudan Join Voices Condemning Resumption of Violence

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 11 July 2016

    church leaders on resumption of s sudan violenceChurch leaders in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, have joined voices condemning renewed violence in the country’s capital Juba, which began last Thursday, July 7.

    For the last four days, there have been reports of “heavy fighting” between forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to First Vice President, Riek Machar.

    “We, the leaders of the Church in South Sudan, are extremely disturbed about the fatal shootings which occurred in Juba on the evenings of 7th and 8th July 2016 and the morning of 10th July,” the leaders said in a press statement released on Sunday, July 10.

    “We make no judgement as to how or why they occurred, nor who is to blame, but we note with concern that there have been a number of incidents recently, and that tension is increasing,” the Church leaders went on to state.

    The Church leaders’ condemnation joins that of various international bodies and individuals, among them the United Nations (UN) Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), among others.

    In a statement on Sunday, July 10, the UN Security council condemned the violence "in the strongest terms," expressing "particular shock and outrage" at attacks on UN sites.

    The Council further called for additional peacekeepers for the South Sudan mission.

    The council joined the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in calling for an end to the violent conflict.

    IGAD has voiced similar sentiments of outrage over the fighting and has urged the two parties in conflict to exercise maximum restraint.

    In their statement, the Church leaders urged “soldiers and civilians to refrain from provocative words and actions, and to do everything in their power to avoid escalating the situation.”

    On Monday, July 11, President Salva Kiir and first Vice-President Riek Machar ordered a ceasefire.

    “We also note with concern that such killings are not confined to Juba,” the Church leaders stated, adding, “A team from SSCC has just returned from Wau after a pastoral visit to show solidarity with the people there, and we cannot forget the recent killing of our missionary Sister Dr Veronika in Yei only two months ago, as well as many other cases which are so common that they pass almost unnoticed.”

    Below is the full text of the statement by Church leaders in South Sudan

     SOUTH SUDAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES: 10TH JULY 2016

    STATEMENT OF CONCERN REGARDING INSECURITY

    Yahweh puts an end to wars over the whole wide world, he breaks the bow, he snaps the spear, shields he burns in the fire. Be still and acknowledge that I am God, supreme over nations, supreme over the world. (Psalm 46: 9-10)

    We, the leaders of the Church in South Sudan, are extremely disturbed about the fatal shootings which occurred in Juba on the evenings of 7th and 8th July 2016 and the morning of 10th July. We make no judgement as to how or why they occurred, nor who is to blame, but we note with concern that there have been a number of incidents recently, and that tension is increasing.

    We condemn all acts of violence without exception. The time for carrying and using weapons has ended; now is the time to build a peaceful nation.

    We pray for those who have been killed, and for their families, and we ask God's forgiveness for those who have done the killing. However we also urge repentance and a firm commitment from all armed individuals, forces and communities, and from their leaders, to create an atmosphere where violence is not an option.

    We are encouraged by the statements from both President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar calling for calm. We add our voices to theirs, and urge soldiers and civilians to refrain from provocative words and actions, and to do everything in their power to avoid escalating the situation.

    We also note with concern that such killings are not confined to Juba. A team from SSCC has just returned from Wau after a pastoral visit to show solidarity with the people there, and we cannot forget the recent killing of our missionary Sister Dr Veronika in Yei only two months ago, as well as many other cases which are so common that they pass almost unnoticed.

    We assure you of our prayers during these difficult times, and once again call for calm and hope.

    May God bless you.

    [THIS MESSAGE WAS READ ON THE RADIO TODAY 10TH JULY 2016 BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL OF SOUTH SUDAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES WITH THE APPROVAL OF CHURCH LEADERS BUT DUE TO INSECURITY IT HAS NOT BEEN POSSIBLE TO PRINT IT ON SSCC LETTERHEAD NOR TO GET PHYSICAL SIGNATURES OF CHURCH LEADERS]

  • Ethiopia’s Cardinal Souraphiel Celebrates 40th Priestly Anniversary

    Vatican Radio || By Makeda Yohannes, Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat || 05 July 2016

    cardinal souraphiel celebrates 40 priesthood yearsEthiopia’s Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel, C.M., celebrated his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination Monday 4 July 2016. He used the occasion to recall the harsh reality of time in Ethiopia when citizens professing religious belief were persecuted. As a young priest, the Cardinal was himself arrested and isolated in a dark room for one month. On this 40th anniversary, the Cardinal says he thanks God for the protection bestowed on him.

    Cardinal Berhaneyesus has urged young priests to take advantage of opportunities available to them today and spread the Good News tirelessly. He says the Church is now thinking about the next generation and is working on preparing people who can follow their call and become good pastoral agents.

    “Family is the base for everything. In our Church, we are encouraging young Catholics to start families and raise their children according to the teachings of the Church,” he said.

    The Cardinal also said that currently he is very concerned about the issue of illegal migration and stated that Africa needs to work as a united front to fight human trafficking and protect young boys and girls from being victims of this horrific act.

     “Pope Francis has assigned me to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, this is very critical for our country at this time as in Ethiopia and in the Horn of Africa, illegal migration is a burning issue,” he said.

    Cardinal Berhaneyesus further expressed his hope and wish to see the Holy Father, Pope Francis visit Ethiopia.

    “I dream to witness Pope Francis becoming the first Pontiff to visit Ethiopia.” He says that the government of Ethiopia and the African Union (AU) have already extended an invitation to the Holy Father to visit Ethiopia. The Cardinal is encouraging the faithful to pray for the realisation of this wish.

    The prelate of Addis Ababa thanked the Lord for granting him 40 years of service as a priest and said that priests are never alone in their service as God is always with them.

    “Priesthood is a life of service; we must always remember that our life is about serving Christ our Lord, and he is always with us. If we put him first and follow his calling then we can be successful in strengthening the dioceses, the parishes and the faithful and in turn we will strengthen our Church,” Cardinal Berhaneyesus said.

    Source: Vatican Radio...

  • Kenyan Archbishop Cautions Students against Drug Abuse

    CANAA || By Bro. Michael Otieno, Fsc, Nairobi || 07 July 2016

    archbishop kairo cautions drug abuse for studentsArchbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri in Kenya last weekend cautioned Secondary School students against the use of drugs, which can hinder the fulfilment of their future dreams.

    He was officially opening the St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle Catholic School, Karemeno, Nyeri, on Saturday, July 2.

    “Keep off from drugs and substance abuse which may hinder your from attaining your full potential in life,” the Archbishop told the students who were at the ceremony.

    He said that the use of drugs and substance has the potentiality of making the students miss to attain their heart desires and future inspirations.

    He further reminded the student that they are the future transformers of their own lives, that of their respective communities and the society at large, encouraging them to be on the lookout for those who may lead them astray.

    A 2012 countrywide survey by the Rapid Assessment Drug and Substance Abuse in Kenya revealed that one in three students reported using one or more drugs.

    The survey indicated that alcohol was the most commonly abused substance, with 36.3 per cent of students reporting a lifetime use.

    Cigarettes were used by 20.2 per cent, bhang by 9.8 per cent, kuber (5.5 per cent), heroin (3.1 per cent), inhalants 2.7 (per cent), amphetamines/mandrax (2.6 per cent) and cocaine was used by 2.2 per cent.

    At the same occasion, Archbishop Kairo called on the clergy, women and men religious as well as the laity with “a special Charism of teaching” to engage the young people and guide them to embrace good behavior.

    He would like that those ministering among pupils and students are truly involved and have the best interests of those entrusted under their care at heart.

    The Kenyan Archbishop congratulated Brothers of the Christian Schools for the enormous contributions they have made in the field of education in his Archdiocese and beyond.

    He cited St. Mary’s Boys and Child Rescue program in Nyeri, institutions run by the Brothers, as some of the success stories of the religious congregation.

    “Touching hearts and teaching minds are the greatest miracles any educator can ever perform and one that God can never forget or let it pass unrewarded,” Archbishop Kairo said, quoting St. John Baptist De La Salle, the Patron Saint of Christian Educator and the Founder of Brothers of the Christian schools.

  • Bishops in Ghana Concerned about Hate Speech on Call-in Radio Programs

    CANAA || By Damian Avevor, Ghana || 07 July 2016

    bishops in ghana caution hate speechBishops in Ghana under the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), have expressed their concerns about hate speech through call-in radio shows and are calling on Ghanaians to take steps to bring down the political temperature as the nation prepares for general elections due on 7 November 2016.

    In a Press Statement on Tuesday, July 5, signed by GCBC President, the Bishops state, “We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have received media reports on the threat of attack on members of the Judiciary allegedly made by two panelists during a radio discussion on an Accra-based Muntie FM with a lot of worry and anxiety, and we wish to join individuals and groups which have already condemned this act.”

    Terming the threats on the Judiciary “a very serious matter,” the Bishops want “the Bureau of National Investigations” to arrest and investigate the two alleged panelists at the radio program.

    In their considered view, “Any attack on the Judiciary, the custodians of Law in our country, is an attack on our freedom and security as a nation.”

    “We are hopeful that the right course of action will be taken in this and other instances,” the Bishops say.

    The concern of the Bishop goes beyond the specified call-in show.

    “It is becoming increasingly worrying to us that, on a daily basis, some panelists on radio programmes and callers to these programmes continue to make unguarded comments and contributions instead of discussing issues that will benefit the development of Ghana,” the Bishops’ statement continues.

    They are concerned about “the rising political temperature in the country” ahead of the November general elections and call on “all Ghanaians to take steps to bring down the political temperature.”

    The Bishops specifically urge “newspaper editors and producers of FM radio programmes” to be cautious when selecting individuals to discuss political issues.

    “All Ghanaians, especially those who seek political office in our land should learn to speak words which bring harmony and peace,” the Bishops add.

    Meanwhile, on 30 June, the Bishops called on Ghanaians to think of Ghana first and work hard to promote the nation’s well-being and image wherever they found themselves.

    They invited all Ghanaians to reflect soberly on their individual and collective contribution to the development of the country saying, “We can make our nation great and strong, peaceful and prosperous only when we THINK GHANA FIRST and work hard to promote its well-being and image wherever we find ourselves. We can do it and so let us rise up and build our country again.”

    The Bishops joined numerous individuals and groups who have already condemned the unwarranted verbal attack on the person and office of the Electoral Commission Chair made by Mr. Kennedy Agyepong, MP for Assin Central.

    They called on him to apologize unreservedly to Mrs. Charlotte Osei.

    “People in high offices such as Parliamentarians are expected to be decorous and measured in their public utterances to give good example to the youth and so when such persons betray the confidence and responsibility reposed in them by Ghanaians in this manner, it becomes very sad and worrying,” the Bishops said.

    Below is the full text of the Catholic Bishops in Ghana on hate speech leveled against the judiciary

    PRESS STATEMENT FROM THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE CONDEMNING ALLEGED THREAT OF ATTACK ON THE JUDICIARY

    We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have received media reports on the threat of attack on members of the Judiciary allegedly made by two panelists during a radio discussion on an Accra-based Muntie FM with a lot of worry and anxiety, and we wish to join individuals and groups which have already condemned this act.

    We are of the view that this alleged threat is a very serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Any attack on the Judiciary, the custodians of Law in our country, is an attack on our freedom and security as a nation.

    We think that as matter of urgency, the Bureau of National Investigations should take action in picking up the two alleged culprits, if it has not done so already, for the necessary investigations and proceedings to begin. We are hopeful that the right course of action will be taken in this and other instances.

    We are gratified by the assurances of government that it will take steps to ensure that all citizens, including members of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary will enjoy personal and institutional protection.

    It is becoming increasingly worrying to us that, on a daily basis, some panelists on radio programmes and callers to these programmes continue to make unguarded comments and contributions instead of discussing issues that will benefit the development of Ghana. All these and more in this period of the run up to the 2016 elections are contributing immensely to the rising political temperature in the country. We encourage all Ghanaians to take steps to bring down the political temperature.

    We pray that in the days leading to the elections later this year, newspaper editors and producers of FM radio programmes will be circumspect in their selection of those who are invited to discuss issues on their various radio programmes, while all Ghanaians, especially those who seek political office in our land should learn to speak words which bring harmony and peace.

    We continue to urge all Ghanaians to preach peace and unity for without peace and unity, our country cannot move forward in the right direction.

    SIGNED

    MOST REV. JOSEPH OSEI-BONSU

    BISHOP OF KONONGO-MAMPONG &

    PRESIDENT, GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE

  • AU Commission Chairperson Part of Prayer Initiative for 27th Summit Success, End of Mandate

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

    auc chair zuma part of novenaThe Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma who is expected to end her mandate at the 54-nation continental Secretariat, is taking part in a prayer initiative for the success of the 27th AU Summit.

    The AU Executive Council elects AUC Chairperson who is then appointed by the AU Assembly for a four-year term, renewable once.

    After four years of service, Dr. Zuma, the first woman ever to lead the Commission, decided not to seek a second term. Therefore, the election of her successor is expected to dominate the agenda of the Summit slated for July 10-18 in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

    The nine-day prayer initiative, which started last Friday, July 1, is spearheaded by the AU Catholic Community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the auspices of the AU Chaplaincy.

    “The Chairperson of AUC Dr. Zuma herself is participating,” Father Dennis Bukenya, one of those involved in organizing the Novena, told CANAA Monday.

    “Tuesday we have one hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the AU commission praying for the success of the Summit,” Father Bukenya who is also the Provincial Superior of the Spiritans in Ethiopia further said.

    The initiative is guided by a special prayer, which has peace and prosperity on the African continent among the various intentions ahead of the Kigali Summit.

    “She is part of the praying community and a committed Christian,” Father Bukenya told CANAA in reference to Dr. Zuma and added, “The Novena prayers have been distributed to the faithful to pray in their respective families.”

    On Thursday July 7, Father Bukenya told CANAA, “All the staff of AU commission including the Chairperson are very much appreciative of this new initiative of making a special prayer before the Summit including non-Catholics and Muslims.”

    “Next year we hope to have the Amharic translation then we can give chance to more faithful to participate especially upcountry,” Father Bukenya went on to say.

    Ethiopia’s Berhaneyesus D. Cardinal Souraphiel who is also the Chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) intended that the prayer initiative for the success of the 27th AU Summit extends beyond Ethiopia to all AMECEA countries.

    In a letter to the Nairobi-based AMECEA Secretariat on 8 June 2016, Cardinal Souraphiel expressed his intention of engaging the Church within the AMECEA region asking, “Shall AMECEA countries be requested to pray for the up-coming summit? What about encouraging our Catholic faithful to participate actively?”

    Cardinal Souraphiel described the 27th AU Summit as “a critical summit because they shall choose a new Chairperson, as the present Dr. Dlamini Zuma does not want to be reelected, and all the other Commissioners.”

    The theme of the Summit is: African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women.

    A native of South Africa, Dr. Zuma has been steering the Commission in taking pro-active steps to support member states and regional bodies in their efforts to promote, consolidate and expand citizen centered, developmental and democratic governance, in line with AU vision.

    AU has the vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.”

    When she was being sworn in as AUC Chairperson in October 2012, Dr. Zuma outlined the Commission’s priority areas she was to focus on as “peace, security and stability in Africa, food security, exploitation of natural resources, health and education, gender equality, youth development, development of infrastructure, promotion of intra African trade, building the African Union’s capacity to deliver efficiently and effectively and consolidating relationships with key partners.”

    According to a report, candidates whose names have been circulated to AU member States to succeed Dr. Zuma, three months before the elections, include, “Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi of Botswana, Dr Specioza Naigaga Wandira Kazibwe of Uganda and Agapito Mba Mokuy” of Equatorial Guinea.

    Morocco is the only African State that is not AU member though a United Nations member.

  • Nigeria’s Enugu, Awgu and Nsukka Catholics Protest Killings

    Vatican Radio || 04 July 2016

    catholics in nigeria protest killings 2016Over the weekend, Catholic communities in Nigeria’s Enugu, Awgu and Nsukka Dioceses have held simultaneous peaceful processions and prayers to protest growing violent activities and killings attributed to Fulani herdsmen in their areas.

    Nigerian media quoted the Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Callistus Valentine Onaga calling upon the federal and state governments to put in place adequate security measures and protect innocent lives.

    Nigeria’s Sun news online reports that the Catholic faithful in Enugu braved morning rains to join the procession which culminated in prayers at the Holy Ghost Cathedral. At the Cathedral, Bishop Onaga read a pastoral statement co-authored with his two brother-Bishops of Awgu and Nsukka Dioceses.

    “For decades our people here in Enugu State – a peaceful and God-fearing population of predominantly peasant farmers, traders and civil servants – have played hosts, not without some difficulties, to a succession of Fulani herdsmen and their Cattle in various parts of the state,” Bishop Onaga said. He added, “In the past few years, however, this relationship has become increasingly problematic as the herdsmen turned aggressive, disrespectful and destructive in their activities,” the Bishop said as he read from the pastoral statement.

    In attendance, at the Cathedral of the Holy Ghost was the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi together with all the state’ security chiefs.

    The Governor called on the faithful gathered to remain law abiding, assuring that government was doing all it can to ensure a climate of peaceful co-existence among the people of the state.

    In Awgu Diocese, the faithful numbering over 10,000 marched from the St Michaels Catholic Cathedral, Awgu to the headquarters of Awgu Local Government Council where they were addressed by political and Church leaders.

    In Nsukka Diocese, the faithful began their peaceful procession from St. Theresa’s Cathedral to the local government headquarters with many onlookers joining them. Most shops and public buildings were closed.

    Early last month, Nigerian media reported that as many as 50 residents of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani local Government Area, Enugu State were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen. A March 2016 attack in Agatu, Benue State left more than 100 people dead.

    Nigeria still reeling from the Boko Haram insurgency is watching nervously if the attacks signal the emergence of yet another militia group with an Islamist ideology.  

    Increased desertification of the common nomadic grazing lands of the nomadic Fulani tribes in the north of Nigeria are leading them southwards. As the Fulani herdsmen push farther south in search of new pasture and water for their cattle, they have become increasingly violent towards local communities encountered. The use of sophisticated military weapons by the herdsmen is escalating the conflict with deadly consequences.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Theme at the Angola Meeting of Bishops in Africa Relates to Synod on the Family

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 04 July 2016

    father komakoma on secam plenary theme 2016The theme of the 17th Assembly of the Bishops in Africa under the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) set to begin in a fortnight in Angola relates to the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

    “The family in Africa, yesterday, today, and tomorrow: in the light of the gospel” is the theme of the 17th Plenary Assembly of SECAM, scheduled to take place from July 18 – 25, 2016 in Luanda, Angola.

    According to SECAM Secretary General Father Joseph Komakoma, the reasoning behind the choice of this theme by SECAM Standing Committee “was to keep the pastoral issue of the Family in anticipation of both the Synod on the Family and the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, which has now come out as well.”

    On 8 April 2016, Pope Francis released the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which is the result of the Pope’s prayerful reflection on the discussions and outcomes of the Synods of Bishops on the Family held in 2014 and 2015.

    Father Komakoma told CANAA Thursday that the 17th SECAM Plenary theme was a result of consultations with Bishops’ conferences in Africa and that “a number of those who responded wanted something to do with the Family as the theme.”

    “The Standing Committee meeting held in Luanda in February 2014 finally decided that indeed the Family theme should be maintained,” Father Komakoma told CANAA and added, “After a few variations, the current theme was finally adopted in their October 2014 meeting held in Accra.”

    The theme will guide workshop sessions planned for the first days of the Plenary Assembly on various topics.

    Father Komakoma further clarified that the workshop precedes the “Business Session” and “deals with the theme for that Plenary since this covers the Pastoral Dimension of the work of SECAM.”

    “As per tradition, at the end of the workshop, the Bishops will propose possible pastoral orientations and guidelines and other recommendations for the Church in Africa in the coming three years,” he went on to explain.

    Meanwhile, in Angola, plans are underway to host the over 100 delegates who will be part of this 17th SECAM Plenary.

    Over the weekend, the Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome (CEAST) who is also the Local Ordinary of Caxito Diocese, Bishop Francisco Jaka briefed the media in Luanda on the readiness of the country to host the meeting.

    According to a report by Vatican Radio’s Portuguese correspondent, Anastacio Sasembele, the Press briefing “was also fronted by Fr. Apolonio Graciano, who said that the over 100 Bishops expected from the continent of Africa would find that Angolans are a hospitable people with a confident and thriving Church.”

    Father Graciano has been quoted as saying that the theme of the forthcoming Plenary is one that is dear to the African Church particularly after the Synod on the Family and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis - “Amoris Laetitia,” on love in the family.

    Several journalists and media practitioners, as well as students of the John XXIII School, attended the media briefing event, which took place at the Aníbal de Melo Centre, Luanda.

  • South Sudanese Catholic Bishop Warns Against Hate Speech

    Sudan Tribune || 03 July 2016

    bishop of south sudan warns hate speechA top South Sudanese religious leader has criticized the hate speech employed by high ranking officials and their supporters to polarize the country, calling for solidarity among those victimized by the “smear campaign.”

    Bishop Edward Hiboro of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura based in Yambio said one of the triggers of violence in the country is the manner in which people chose the language and words to communicate their messages.

    “Language is doing much more violence, sometimes even much more harm than the gun,” said Bishop Edward while speaking to a United Nations sponsored Miraya FM radio on Thursday.

    The religious leader appealed to South Sudanese to avoid “harsh and divisive” language and instead develop a language that can build the country.”

    “Take off too much negativity, take out provocative language, the anger needs to give way to the language of peaceful communication, non-violent communication to help the country wake up from the current situation,” he further advised.

    He said there is need to develop a new language and a conscience to prevent crime and consolidate the country’s peace process.

    His remarks come amid growing concerns about the growing insecurity in Wau. He said the violence in Wau, while regrettable, stems from lack of dialogue, adding “when dialogue is missing immediately people resort to violence and fighting.”

    “South Sudanese need to learn to talk. It is talking that brought us South Sudan. It is not cowardice to speak to your brother and sister and say look we have gone wrong here, how do we go about this.”

    While acknowledging the problems in the country, he said there is huge mistrust, and people are afraid to speak to each other. Instruments such as the church, civil society, international NGOs, he added, have the power to engage in Dialogue.

    “But how can they do it?” he asked. He stressed that every leader, individual and family in South Sudan should find time for a retreat and use this time to reflect on the kind of South Sudan they want.

    He urged the government to find ways to reach people “with the power and closeness of peace.

    “If there could be a general ceasefire, no more shooting, no more fighting, the rest of things would fall in place. We prepare people in the church, we pacify them, we need the government to step in and reinforce the messages spread by the church to pave way for a peaceful stable nation,” he added.

    Source: Sudan Tribune…

  • Bishops in Malawi Appeal for Help to Avert Food Insecurity Affecting Millions

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 04 July 2016

    bishops in malawi on food insecurity 2016The Catholic Bishops in Malawi are appealing to local, national, and international bodies as well as individuals to come to the aid of over six million Malawians affected by food insecurity, a challenge requiring hundreds of millions of dollars to address.

    In a statement dated July 1st and signed by the Chairman of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa, the Bishops site Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC, 2016) report, which has given the figure of 6.5 million Malawians in need of humanitarian assistance.

    The Bishops also quote US$ 307.5million as the amount the country requires “to support the affected population.”

    “We, therefore, wish to join the State President in calling upon National and International stakeholders, institutions, Bodies, men and women of good will to come to the fore and help avert the situation,” the Bishops say and thank those who have already pledged support.

    In April 2016, President Mutharika declared a state of national disaster over food shortages attributed to erratic climate conditions.

    At the time, Southern Africa spokesman for the United Nation's World Food Program (WFP), David Orr, was quoted as saying that the situation was “quite dire” and that the worst was still to come.

    True to Orr’s warning, the Bishops stated, “Our hospitals are already reporting higher rates of malnutrition cases with the situation feared to worsen as we approach what we normally call the lean period.”

    “The current food insecurity reports in our country are in discord to the Gospel teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ: I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).”

    The Bishops describe the hunger situation in their country as a “paradox in the land of plenty” and challenge the government to particularly implement the “National Resilience Plan, which is aimed at breaking the cycle of food insecurity.”

    “Our plea is that we should not just have mouthful and beautiful policies that translate into nothing,” the Bishops state and call on the government to “consider reforming the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) to ensure support for rural farmers.

    The Bishops also express the need for the government to restore the dilapidated agricultural infrastructure, prioritize water harvesting mechanism for irrigation, revive the agriculture extension services delivery, and improve the Green Belt Initiative.

    “We call upon the Government to be committed to food security in Malawi by enacting the Right to Food Bill,” the Bishops add.

    They expressed their closeness to the affected Malawians saying, “We are in solidarity with the affected population and keep them in our prayers.”

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