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  • Seafarers’ Charity Supports Unpaid and Stranded Seafarers in Kenya’s Mombasa Port

    Apostleship of the Sea || By John Green || 31 August 2017

    charity of seafarers support stranded in mombasa 2017A port chaplain in Mombasa, Kenya, has spoken about how the crew of a fishing vessel were not paid their wages, denied shore leave and had to endure poor living conditions on board ever since their ship was detained at the port more than two years ago.

    The Taiwanese-owned ship, MV Lean Fong Tsai, first arrived at Mombasa with an Indonesian crew in December 2014. It was detained by Kenya Maritime Authority when port state control officers found the ship to be unseaworthy.

    Repairs were still not done by 2015, so the crew were repatriated and a new crew comprising 11 Filipinos, and a Taiwanese engineer and master, were subsequently brought in to take over without the authorities’ knowledge, said George Sunguh from the seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea (AoS).

    “The captain repeatedly told the men ‘we will sail next month’, but it never happened. The crew were only provided with rice and chicken, with no vegetables and fruit, and limited drinking water,” said George who is the AoS Coordinator in Mombasa, adding that living conditions on board were dismal.

    George added, “The ship owner decided to repatriate the crew without the authorities’ knowledge but one of the seafarers was able to contact police overseas. It was at this point that AoS and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) intervened to assist the men.”

    While they were stranded, AoS provided pastoral and practical support to the seafarers; listening to their concerns and helping them keep in contact their families back home. AoS also supported their faith needs by organising Holy Mass for them at the seafarers’ centre in Mombasa, following requests by the crew. The Mass was said by Rev Fr. Willybard Lagho, the AoS Chaplain and the Vicar General of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa.

    The ship owner is currently in Mombasa and arrangements have been made for them to be repatriated. Negotiations are also being held to ensure the crew receive their wages.

    AoS has also contacted its network of port chaplains based in the Philippines so that the Filipino crew can continue to be supported when they return home.

    Additional information

    The Apostleship of the Sea, AoS, is a registered charity and agency of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland. It is wholly reliant on voluntary donations and legacies to continue its work.

    90% of world trade is transported by ship, and more than 100,000 ships visit British ports each year. However, the life of a modern seafarer can be dangerous and lonely. They may spend up to a year at a time away from home, separated from their family and loved ones, often working in harsh conditions.

    AoS chaplains and ship visitors welcome seafarers to our shores - regardless of their colour, race or creed and provide them with pastoral and practical assistance. They recognise them as brothers with an intrinsic human dignity which can be overlooked in the modern globalised maritime industry.

    For more information contact John Green, Director of Development on 020 7901 1931 or 07505653801 or email johngreen@apostleshipofthesea.org.uk

    www.apostleshipofthesea.org.uk

    facebook.com/AoS.GB

    @Apostleshipsea

    Flickr.com/photos/apostleshipofthesea

  • Nigerian Clergy Demand Compensation for Churches Destroyed by Boko Haram

    Religion News Service || By Fredrick Nzwili || 30 August 2017

    clergy in nigeria want state to compensate destroyed churchesReligious leaders in Nigeria are renewing and amplifying their call for the government to pay compensation for the destruction of churches by Boko Haram, even as the Islamist militants escalate attacks in the country’s northern states.

    Nigerian clergy say at least 1,000 churches have been destroyed in the six-year insurgency, which the government declared crushed last year.

    Human rights groups say thousands more churches have been abandoned or closed in the conflict — in which schools, mosques, markets and military installations have also been targeted.

    Clergy say the attacks on churches have compromised freedom of religion in the nation, as well as Nigerians’ right to live in peace. And while Boko Haram is the agent of the attacks, religious leaders also assign blame to the government.

    “The church … is demanding compensation from the government for lives lost and properties destroyed by the (Boko Haram) criminals,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese. “We believe the government should have provided security for lives and property.”

    The Rev. Felix Omobude, national president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, described the destruction of the churches as a breach of the freedom of worship guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution. He also considers compensation a government responsibility.

    “Churches that have been destroyed should be rebuilt by the state governments … and appropriate compensation paid to the victims,” Omobude said in a recent statement.

    Two religions predominate in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation: Christians in the south and Muslims in the north.

    In 2015, President Mahammadu Buhari promised to reconstruct churches and mosques destroyed in the conflict, and he later urged federal officials to help reconstruct schools and places of worship destroyed by the militants.

    Some reconstruction work started in 2016 in the northern majority-Muslim state of Borno, with its governor, Kashim Shettima, ordering the rehabilitation of the biggest church in Lassa, which was destroyed by Boko Haram.

    Though pleased with the commencement of reconstruction work on churches in Borno state, Bakeni expressed dismay at what he described as the small number of churches in the north undergoing reconstruction compared with the number of mosques there that have been restored.

    He praised Shettima, though.

    “This is a bold decision by a governor in northeastern Nigeria to listen to the Christians and render justice, against all odds and opposition,” said Bakeni.

    Boko Haram — whose name translates to “Western education is sin” — aims to create an Islamic state in the north. It has carried out a campaign of terror, attacking churches, schools and security installations. Its first attack on Christian minorities there occurred in 2010.

    The United Nations estimates that 20,000 people have died in the violence, which has also displaced 2 million people in the northern states of Yobe, Adamawa and Borno.

    The terrorist group has abducted women and girls and forced its victims, especially young women, to act as suicide bombers. In 2014, the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Chibok town. The kidnapping sparked the solidarity campaign #BringBackOurGirls.

    Source: Religion News Service… 

  • Catholic Bishop Protects 2,000 Muslim Refugees in Central African Republic

    BBC News Africa || 31 August 2017

    bishop in car protecting 2000 muslimsA Catholic bishop in the Central African Republic (CAR) has given refuge to 2,000 Muslims who are living in fear of attacks from a mainly Christian militia.

    Juan José Aguirre Munoz says that the refugees cannot leave the seminary's compound in the south-eastern city of Bangassou.

    He told the BBC that the refugees "risk death" from anti-balaka militias.

    The UN's humanitarian chief warned last week of possible genocide.

    Stephen O'Brien said that violence in CAR was escalating and the situation was becoming dire.

    "Violence is intensifying, risking a repeat of the devastating destructive crisis that gripped the country four years ago," he said.

    Mr O'Brien added: "The early warning signs of genocide are there. We must act now."

    CAR has experienced sectarian violence since 2013, when the largely Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, and were accused of killing non-Muslim civilians.

    The anti-balaka "self-defence" groups were then formed but have also been accused of atrocities.

    Balaka is a street name which means bullets and the militia's name therefore translates to "those who stop bullets". Seleka, on the other hand, means "coalition" in the widely-spoken Sango language.

    According to the UN, thousands have been killed and at least a million people have been displaced in CAR since 2013.

    It also says that at least half of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid.

    A tenuous peace deal signed in June saw 13 out of 14 armed groups operating in the country agree with the government to end fighting in exchange for political representation and the integration of armed militias into the military.

    Bishop Munoz says that the refugees sought help at the seminary after fighting broke out in May, and have since been under the care of the church and aid organisations.

    "Nearby, there are anti-Balaka militias who prevent them from going out to search for food, water or firewood," he said. "So they are completely confined inside the seminary. They would risk death if they venture out," he told the BBC's Newsday programme.

    Protecting the vulnerable

    A 10-year-old boy who was caught up in the violent clashes told a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid worker that he was shot at.

    "People fired shots. One of my brothers received a bullet in his heart. Another brother got a bullet in his chest. I also received one in my testicle," he said.

    A doctor with MSF, Ernest Lualuali Ibongu, told the BBC that there are other people in the seminary who need medical care but who cannot leave the compound to get to a hospital.

    Bishop Munoz said that the refugees needed to be relocated because many aid organisations have stopped working in the area.

    He said that attempts to appeal to the militia to allow aid workers in had failed.

    "The anti-Balaka are armed and very violent and capable of killing children," he said. "It is very difficult to reason with [them]."

    He says that both anti-Balaka and Seleka militias have attacked the church's properties, but adds that it is determined to protect vulnerable people from both sides.

    "For us, there's no such thing as a Muslim person or a Christian person, everyone is a human being. We need to protect those who are vulnerable."

    Source: BBC News Africa… 

  • Small Christian Communities Changing Lives in South Sudan: Testimony from a Missionary at St. Joseph’s Parish, Narus

    CANAA || By Father Emmanuel Obi, SPS, South Sudan || 31 August 2017

    narus scc for hopeLooking back at the simple beginning of the formation of Small Christian Communities in Narus in the Catholic diocese of Torit, South Sudan, I cannot but affirm with conviction the popular saying that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

    After mass on my first Sunday in Narus two years ago, my predecessor, Father Tom Gilolly had gathered some members of the church council to introduce me to them. After the general introduction, one of the members in his speech tried to explain to me that I must have noticed that at mass the majority of the congregation were students because of the presence of the three schools within the parish.

    “However,” he said, “you will come to know as you spend more time with us that, most of the adult population in this community will say they are Catholics but they hardly attend church activities”.

    After a few more people had spoken on the same subject, we all decided that the Parish Council chairperson and two of the youth members should accompany me some days in the evenings during the week to go round the community to visit some of the members, so that I can be introduced to them as their new priest.

    By 5 p.m. on Wednesday of that week, the chairperson of the Church Council Zeiko Zacharia, one of the volunteer Catechists Stephen Aletea and three members of the youth came to the parish house to take me out for the home visitation. That became our mission. Most evenings, for the next two weeks, we were out knocking from door to door, and being introduced to the local people.

    On my part I would offer an invitation to the members of each of the homes we visited to come and join us for worship at the church. Surprisingly, most of them would answer positively, that they would come. After the first week of the visitations, four Toposa women who had not been coming to church regularly, turned up for mass the following Sunday. But before turning up for that Sunday mass, they came on Saturday evening to join the youth for the choir practice in preparation for the following day’s Eucharistic celebration.

    Towards the end of the second week of the visitations, one of the youth suggested to us that instead of just moving from house to house chatting with members of the families, we spend time in prayer in each of the homes that we have identified lapsed Catholics. We felt that it was a very good idea and decided to do as he had suggested.

    We started praying the Rosary and sharing the Gospel Readings for the following Sunday mass in each of the homes we visited. Before leaving, we would always invite them to join us at prayers in the next home we were to visit the following day. Surprisingly, we discovered that people were very excited to welcome us to pray in their homes and some of those we had visited and prayed in their homes started coming for Sunday Eucharistic celebrations, making it a point of duty to attend prayers at the other homes we visited during the week.

    As other activities like teaching of catechism to the school children and choir practices were also calling for our attention, we decided to officially make Wednesday evenings weekly the time for home visitation and prayer. The home to be visited and prayed in that week was to be announced during the announcements at the end of our Sunday masses.

    While we were doing the rounds of visitations, we were equally registering the names and addresses of each of our members in the different areas of Narus. After about six months, the number of people attending the weekly prayer meetings had increased so significantly that it was becoming difficult to make the rounds.

    Co-incidentally, while we were still thinking of what to do, an invitation letter came from the Pastoral Office of the Diocese of Torit that we should send two members from our parish to attend a workshop on the formation of Small Christian Communities in Torit. The workshop was organized by members of Solidarity for South Sudan, a group whose members are drawn from different Religious Congregations all over the world to help the Church in South Sudan in Pastoral Formation of the Laity and Capacity Building.

    We interpreted the invitation as the proverbial ‘handwriting of the Holy Spirit’ leading us in the right direction, at a time when we were still wondering what we would do with our increasing number in the weekly prayer meeting group. We decided to send two of our active members, Maria Lokonoe and the Late Emmanuel Lopeyok (God rest his soul in peace) to attend the workshop.

    When the two returned from the workshop, they shared their experiences with the group, particularly how they were encouraged to start the formation of Small Christian Communities within the Parish.

    Since we had registered members earlier according to the areas they were living in, we decided that it would be good to implement their learning from the workshop. However, we observed some reservations among some of the members who questioned the need for sub-dividing the large group saying, “Father, you had brought us together as a prayer group, why do you want to divide us again?”

    I was particularly touched by this question and upon reflecting further, I came to the realization that not everyone had understood the idea of Small Christian Communities, which we were trying to sell to them. Perhaps we needed more time to bring everyone on board. We decided instead to embark on proper education of the whole group on why we needed Small Christian Communities for a better Pastoral care of all the members of the Church.

    While this formation was going on, we selected six members, two from the three designated areas in Narus to give them training on leadership of Small Christian Communities.

    Three months later, when we presented the need for sub-dividing the larger prayer group to form three distinct Small Christian Communities, the trained leaders were able to convince all members present and they all agreed that we needed the three groups according to the designated areas.

    Since then, precisely, from June 2016, we have been blessed with three Small Christian Communities namely, St. Theresa, St Mary and St. Monica. Members meet every Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. As they gather in the homes of their respective members, they pray the Rosary, and share the Word of God meditatively together.

    At the end of their prayers, the owner of the home introduces his or her family to everyone present; telling all present about some significant and recent events in the family, to enable the members present to share in their joys, struggles and hopes. Sometimes they also share with the group whatever they have like a glass of water or a cup of tea.

    The experience of the Small Christian Communities in Narus, growing from a simple beginning to become a beacon of hope to the community can be compared to the parable of the mustard seed; something insignificant turning out to become an anchor of hope.

    In a Country where majority of people are traumatized and pushed to the verge of despair as a result of the effects of a protracted civil conflict, insecurity, violence, hunger and economic hardship, the Small Christian Communities are offering an avenue through which communal solidarity is experienced in an environment where there has been mutual suspicion.

    Narus as a border town came into existence as a refugee settlement during the Southern Sudan Wars with the Khartoum Government. It has a cosmopolitan characteristic as every tribal group in South Sudan can be found within Narus. However, most people live together according to their tribal units, thereby causing some kind of mutual suspicion.

    When we started moving from one home to the other to pray, sometimes the owners of the homes moved with joy would express their gratitude that people from other tribes were visiting them and even sharing a meal with them, something that was uncommon to them before. Sometimes, others shed tears of joy as they could no longer control their emotions to have people visit them and share their home and even share a meal with them. On one occasion, a woman told me she was surprised to see me eat in her home, for she did not know that priests can eat in other peoples’ home.

    The Small Christian Communities in Narus have become not only tools for evangelization as they have drawn more adults to participate in church activities, but have also offered psychological and social support to the members of the Christian community. They have become rallying points of support during funerals as well as weddings.

    Whenever a member of any of the Small Christian Communities loses a loved one, it is very common now to have their leaders gather the members together to ensure they make some contributions to support the grieving member. Most of all, they find time to arrange for prayers and visitations to console the grieving member.

    At other social events like marriages and birthdays in the families of their members, the members of their Small Christian Communities are equally there to support such members, sharing in their joy too. Whenever any member has exercised an unusually prolonged absence from Church activities, other members tend to make sure they find time to pay such a member a visit. Recently, members of the Small Christian Communities have asked the parish leadership to organize a retreat for all the adult members of the parish to help in their renewal of faith.

    If anyone had told me two years ago when we started the home to home visitations, knocking from door to door, being introduced as the new priest in Narus, that that singular activity will grow to become three distinct groups of Small Christian Communities, offering spiritual, psychological and social support to the community, I doubt that I would have believed the person.

    Looking back now, I have learned that every single step in a race counts, same as the popular saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step”. To God be the glory!

    Father Emmanuel Obi, a native of Nigeria, is a member of St. Patrick's Missionary Society (SPS). Before beginning his pastoral ministry as St. Joseph's Parish, Narus (Catholic Diocese of Torit) in South Sudan, he worked in Kenya’s diocese of Lodwar.

  • African-American Couple Demands Apology from Priest for Past Ku Klux Klan Actions

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || 25 August 2017

    african american couple demand apology from former kkk priestA Catholic priest in the Arlington Diocese who wrote a column asking forgiveness for the time he spent as a member of the Ku Klux Klan 40 years ago when he was "an impressionable young man" has never paid court-ordered restitution for cross-burning and other racist actions he pleaded guilty of doing at that time.

    "As a young adult I was Catholic, but in no way practicing my faith," Father William Aitcheson, now 62, wrote in an Aug. 21 op-ed posted on the website of the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper. "The irony that I left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy."

    "While 40 years have passed, I must say this: I'm sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me," he wrote.

    The Washington Post reported Aug. 24 that when Father Aitcheson was in his early 20s and a student at the University of Maryland, he was the leader of a KKK lodge in Maryland and was arrested and charged with making bomb threats, manufacturing bombs and burning a cross on the front lawn at the house of an African-American couple, Barbara and Phillip Butler, in Prince George's County, Maryland, in 1977.

    At the time he pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay restitution to the couple of $20,000 but never did so, the Butlers, who are themselves Catholic, said at a news conference Aug. 23. Some news reports put the amount he owed at $26,000, which included other fines. The priest is not giving interviews.

    Reading the priest's Aug. 21 account brought back the horror of it all, said the couple, who were newlyweds at the time. More than paying restitution to them, the couple wants a sincere apology from the priest, they said.

    "'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,'" Barbara Butler said, quoting Scripture. "But you did know what you did. ... You changed our lives a lot."

    "Father Aitcheson fully acknowledges that the Butler family deserved and deserves an apology," the diocese said in a statement. "Father Aitcheson is open to meeting with the Butlers privately to address some of their rightly held concerns and questions."

    Arlington Bishop Michael J. Burbidge "has offered to be present for that meeting," the statement said. "In the press conference, Mr. Butler said that he and his wife want closure. Our hope is that we can assist them in finding that closure."

    The diocese also "is encouraging Father Aitcheson "to fulfill his legal and moral obligations to the Butler family."

    "The Butler family asked for the disclosure of names of any others who cooperated in the cross burning at their home," the statement said. "Father Aitcheson agrees to fully cooperate with law enforcement addressing details of this case that were not gathered previously."

    The Washington Post said the priest only came forward with his account of those years after a freelance reporter who had been a parishioner of his years ago approached the diocese with information about his past.

    The journalist "stated that she learned that Father Aitcheson's legal name matched that of a man arrested in the 1970s," the diocese said in a statement. "Father Aitcheson was approached about this, he acknowledged his past and saw the opportunity to tell his story in the hopes that others would see the possibility of conversion and repentance, especially given the context of what occurred in Charlottesville. The diocese agreed to publish his account."

    Father Aitcheson's request to take a temporary leave from active ministry was granted by the diocese. He had been parochial vicar at St. Leo the Great Parish in Fairfax City since June 2014.

    Ordained in 1988 for what was then the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas, Nevada, Father Aitcheson returned to the East Coast in 1993, and began ministering in the Arlington Diocese. He was incardinated into the diocese in 1998, becoming a priest of the Northern Virginia diocese. He has had various pastoral assignments since then.

  • Networking is the New Approach to Mission: Testimonies from Ethiopia and Nigeria

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By The Life Panelists || 28 August 2017

    Collaboration against trafficking. Speaking out on national issues. Sharing formation resources and promoting vocations.

    networking the new approach to missionDinknesh Amanuel is a member of the Maids of the Poor, a secular institute in Ethiopia. She teaches Patristics and is executive secretary for the Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) in Ethiopia.

    One of the challenges we religious face in promoting vocations and doing other ministries is that sometimes we communicate very little. Communication is the best way to address any issue and look for solutions. As consecrated women we need to communicate, cooperate and work together in order to be effective in our apostolate and life.

    We as the Conference of Major Religious Superiors in Ethiopia try to work together, especially in the field of vocation promotion and initial formation. We have a group of sisters from various congregations for this ministry. Their main activity is to help the youth learn how to discern about their future life. The sisters give them a common understanding of vocation and teach about the love of God and preciousness of the vocation. Working in collaboration with parish priests and the pastoral coordinators of different dioceses, they create links between congregations, dioceses and parishes. Their main aim is to create awareness of a vocation as a gift of God, to help young people make proper decisions for their future, and to have love and concern for their own life and the church at large. This group is effective because the members always try to work in collaboration with the bishops and parish priests.

    Networking is one of the best ways to promote vocations and other activities in the church. It makes people work together to seek the common goal. We need to work, pray and grow together.

    Florence Nwaonuma is a member of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has served as president of the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious.

    Networking or collaboration is working together with others. In my work with victims of human trafficking, I had wonderful networking experiences with sisters in my religious congregation as well as with sisters from other religious congregations both inside and outside of my country. But here I will focus on my networking experiences with sisters in Nigeria.

    The issue we worked on was providing support, care and services for girls and women who were victims of trafficking. When a victim would come home, the sisters in Lagos received her through collaboration with immigration officials, who would hand her over to them. The sisters then send the woman to us in Benin City. The networking has been very effective, for several reasons.

    It is important to note that the sisters in the network are professionals in their own disciplines. In a way we had inter-disciplinary or inter-professional collaboration among us. The sisters brought their expertise and experiences into the network. Besides that, we were very effective because we understood our goals — and because there was adequate communication among all of us involved in the process. The focus of our networking was on the women on whose behalf we networked and not on the "egos" of the sisters.

    Another factor that helped us achieve success was the provision of training programs for women religious in the country prior to our networking. The training helped the sisters who knew nothing about human trafficking to become acquainted with the issues involved. Such "capacity building" helped us to avoid conflicts and dilemmas which could occur in inter-professional collaboration of this sort.

    As part of our network activities, we had time to meet and discuss our work. For instance, we had cases of women who came back but decided to stay in Lagos rather than in Benin City. We looked into what was involved, and the sisters in Lagos had to add the extra job of full reintegration to their work.

    On a final note, the major reason our networking was a huge success is due to our formation as religious. Our prayer life and commitment propelled us, and networking helped us to achieve social change for the victims.

    Read More: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Jesuit North-West Africa Province Fundraises for Sierra Leone

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 28 August 2017

    jesuits fundraising for sierra leone after mudslideThe Jesuit North-West Africa Province (whose territory includes Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia) has launched a fundraising drive to help in the long-term reconstruction of areas devastated by the Regent mudslide and flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

    Over the weekend, a local leader and a Methodist Bishop put the figure of the dead at more than 1,000. They insisted that an accurate count was necessary for accountability. The government had earlier put the death toll from the 14 August mudslide at 500 dead and 600 missing.

    The North-West Africa Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Chukwuyenum Afiawari, announced the fundraising drive in a Statement of Appeal to Jesuit communities, institutions, collaborators and friends.

    “The flooding and mudslides in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which took place in the early hours of Monday, August 14, 2017…causing enormous destruction of property, can only be a source of deep sadness and agony for us all. This is one tragedy too many for a country still recovering from the disaster of the deadly Ebola outbreak. Our prayers, as Jesuits of the North-West Africa Province of the Society of Jesus (whose territory includes Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia) are with the entire population of Sierra Leone, especially those who have suffered the loss of loved ones,“ Fr. Afiawari said.

    The Provincial commended the work of organisations that are working to alleviate the suffering in Sierra Leone. He said the Jesuits in the North-West Province also want to participate by partnering with those already on the ground.

    “While responding to the immediate needs, we also have to keep an eye on and begin to plan for long term reconstruction efforts. We offer to serve as a conduit for any help that may be offered. We appeal to all our Jesuit companions, communities and institutions throughout the Society, our collaborators-in-mission, friends and benefactors and all people of goodwill everywhere to join in this noble cause as we collaborate with others to care for the suffering Body of Christ in Sierra Leone,” said the Provincial.

    The Province has since opened various bank accounts to which well-wishers can make contributions.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Pope Francis Expresses Confidence in Women Religious in Eastern and Central Africa

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 28 August 2017

    pope confident with acweca plenary 2017Pope Francis has expressed confidence in women religious in Eastern and Central Africa under the umbrella body of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA), as they meet in the East African country of Tanzania.

    The Pope’s confidence is contained in his message to the ongoing ACWECA 17th Plenary meeting, in which he has said the women religious’ assembly is “an opportunity to rediscover the freshness of the Gospel, from which new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world.”

    Signed by Monsignor Paolo Borgia who is the Assessor for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State at the Vatican, Pope Francis’ message was addressed to ACWECA President, Sr. Prisca Mantenga and delivered by the Vatican Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, João Cardinal Braz de Aviz, AMECEA Online Newsletter has reported.

    In the message, Pope Francis has encouraged religious women in Eastern and Central Africa to establish and maintain bonds of communion among themselves as they reach out to the marginalized in society, including the sick and the poor, AMECEA Online Newsletter has reported.

    The weeklong 17th Plenary Assembly of ACWECA, whose theme is “Revitalize Our Solidarity for Deeper Evangelization in Today's Complex Reality within the Region” kicked off Saturday, August 26 and will conclude Saturday, September 2.

    On his own part, Cardinal Bráz de Aviz has cautioned religious women in Eastern and Central Africa against the temptation to focus on money over the service of God and neighbour.

    “Money commands everything today, money commands power, money creates the poor, money creates death, it creates arms, and it creates fear,” the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has been quoted as saying and advised, “We do not want to serve money, we want to serve God and put the money at the service of God and our brothers and sisters.”

    “How often do Bishops and religious fight over money issues? Is it not true? That is how it is, we know it because we receive news of this fights; we therefore have to change,” AMECEA Online Newsletter has reported.

    Meanwhile, in their solidarity message with ACWECA, the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) acknowledged with appreciation the contribution of religious women in Eastern and Central Africa particularly “in the formation and education of children and youth, in alleviating the pain and suffering of many people and especially in the most rural areas” including their “contribution to the promotion of Gospel values (and) touching the lives of many.”

    The plenary is being hosted by the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) at its Kurasini Centre in Dar es Salaam.

    “The decision to hold the 17th ACWECA Plenary in Tanzania has been a blessing to this country,” TEC’s President has been quoted as saying through a speech read on his behalf by the Chairman of the Religious and consecrated persons in Tanzania, Bishop Renatus Nkwande.

    In the speech, TEC Chairman has acknowledged the value of consecrated women globally, describing them as “precious in the Church and in the world.”

    On its part, the government of the United Republic of Tanzania has recognized the positive impact of religious women in society “through their services to the community in schools, hospitals, social life etc. … bringing integral development of our people both spiritually and physically.” AMECEA Online Newsletter has reported.

    The over 150 participants at the Plenary have come from nine member countries within the ACWECA region, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

    ACWECA partners, among them, representatives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the International Union of Superiors General, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, are in attendance.

     

  • More than 3000 Youth Attend National Congress in Zimbabwe

    Jesuits Zimbabwe-Mozambique || 24 August 2017

    zimbabwe youth national congress 2017Bishop Xavier Munyongani, responsible for Zimbabwe’s National Catholic Youth Council, challenged over three thousand youths gathered at Kutama College in Chinhoyi Dioceses for the second National Catholic Youth Congress to act justly, be benevolent and humble. 

    Addressing the multitude, the prelate expressed his joy for seeing the young people stressing his hope for a better church tomorrow. 

    The congress, held once in 4 years, is the second from the one hosted by Hwange Diocese in 2013. 

    It was ran from the 17th to the 20th of August under the theme, “The mighty one has done great things for me and Holy is his name.”

    In a music filled homily, Bishop Munyongani encouraged the young people to practice Catholic faith with respect and decency.   

    He challenged the young people to act justly, love goodness and walk humbly with your God.

    “You have to work together to get closer to God and to get closer to each other,” said Bishop Munyongani.

    The National Youth Chairperson, Tendai Karombo encouraged the entire youth body to lie a reflected life and look in gratitude of the good things the Lord has done in their lives.

    “Like Mary we have to look at all the things that the Lord has done and praise his name. We also wanted shift our focus and look at Mary the Mother of God, as she was entrusted to us by Jesus.” Said Karombo 

    During this year’s congress, participants engaged in various discussions and activities which include sporting activities, talks, presentations on youth participation in national issues, and young people’s challenges in today’s world.

    Source: Jesuits Zimbabwe-Mozambique…

  • Take Notice of News about African Famine

    National Catholic Reporter (NCR) || By Maureen Fiedler || 24 August 2017

    take notice of famine in africaDid you know that there is a severe famine in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria? I did not know that either until I read a column by Jackson Diehl in this morning's Washington Post. We likely have not heard about this growing human tragedy because that news has been overshadowed by the incessant coverage of Donald Trump. As Diehl puts it, "The continuing Trump circus sucks up so much media oxygen that issues that otherwise would be urgent — such as millions of people starving — are asphyxiated."

    And according to Nadifa Mohamed in the June 12 New York Times, "Six million people are at risk of starvation in Somalia, and another fourteen million in South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen. It is the gravest emergency since the Second World War, according to the United Nations."

    Much of this is due to climate change. What looks to us like a slight rise in temperature can have devastating effects in an already hot, tropical climate. Mohamed reports that "Temperatures have risen in already arid parts of the continent, by one Celsius in Kenya and 1.3 Celsius in Ethiopia between 1960-2006. Communities across the region report droughts occurring every one to two years rather than the previous every six to eight years." These, of course, are average temperatures, not just reports of a hot afternoon somewhere.

    Trump administration officials who still refuse to believe in climate change might not just study this data, but visit the region and "feel the heat." Most important, it is critical that the U.S. government support United Nations efforts to bring relief to the starving people of that region. Many groups are reaching out to help, including UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision and Catholic Relief Services.

    Catholic Relief Services relates the story from Somalia succinctly: "Some 260,000 Somalis died in 2010 and 2011 because of a drought-induced famine. It's expected that the current drought will be much worse. Water sources are dry and communities say they've never seen anything like it. Humanitarian experts say the situation could turn into a catastrophe endangering hundreds of thousands of lives —again. Approximately 1.4 million children are at immediate risk of death."

    You won't likely hear that on the nightly news, but it's time to notice … and take action. To learn more about how you can help, you can visit the website of Catholic Relief Services.

    Source: National Catholic Reporter… 

  • Central African Priests Use Facebook to Express Outrage, Appeal for Help

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || 23 August 2017

    car clergy engage facebookCatholic priests whose villages have been attacked have taken to Facebook to express outrage and appeal for help.

    One priest accused U.N. peacekeepers of "deliberately abandoning" his town and leaving parishioners to be murdered by rebels.

    "You were warned, but you deliberately decided to abandon this town," said Father Jean-Alain Zembi, rector of Zemio, on the nation's border with Congo.

    "This community is being sacrificed, and I will hold you responsible for all those dead and preparing to die."

    In an Aug. 20 Facebook message, the priest said at least 30 townspeople had been killed when armed groups attacked the police headquarters and hospital, burning houses and stealing valuables.

    He added that Moroccan troops from the U.N.-backed military mission, MINUSCA, had initially tried to protect local civilians, but had been unable to prevent "innocent women and children being left to their sad fate."

    Meanwhile, another Catholic priest, Father Desire Kpangou, said the attackers wore turbans and spoke neither French nor the local language, Sango, suggesting they had come from nearby Sudan.

    "If you don't come soon to disarm these people, we will have to organize confessions and a final Mass and viaticum" -- giving Communion to and anointing of someone approaching death -- "and prepare ourselves and the rest of the displaced people here for the worst," Father Kpangou told U.N. forces on Facebook.

    Aid organizations have reported worsening violence throughout 2017 in the Central African Republic, one of the world's poorest countries. Violence is mainly between armed remnants of Seleka, a Muslim-dominated rebel movement that briefly seized power in 2013, and a mainly Christian militia, Anti-Balaka.

    In an Aug. 19 statement, U.N. officials announced a new humanitarian program, after dozens of civilians died in attacks in four cities.

    France's Le Monde daily reported Aug. 21 that 80 percent of the country was believed to be under control of armed gangs, including "a myriad of local militias and mercenaries from neighboring states."

    Father Zembi told Agence France-Presse Aug. 10 that his town, 625 miles from the capital, Bangui, had been "ablaze" since June 28, when armed gangs overran it, cutting telephone lines and forcing half of Zemio's 50,000 inhabitants to flee.

    He added that bodies had been left on the street outside his rectory, while food, water and medicines had now run out. He told AFP humanitarian organizations had pulled out and MINUSCA forces were barred "by clauses in their contract" from intervening.

    Catholics make up a third of the Central African Republic's 4.5 million inhabitants and have been widely praised for sheltering displaced people around the country. President Faustin-Archange Touadera took office in March 2016 on a pledge of stability and reconstruction.

    The 12,870-strong MINUSCA force, deployed under a 2014 U.N. resolution, is tasked with "facilitating humanitarian assistance; promotion and protection of human rights; support for justice and the rule of law; and disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation processes," according its website, but also lists protecting civilians as its "utmost priority."

    In an Aug. 7 statement, Stephen O'Brien, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said he saw "early warning signs of genocide" in the CAR.

  • BBC is Determined to Undermine Christian Values: Cardinal Napier of South Africa

    Catholic Herald Staff Reporter || 23 August 2017

    cardinal napier on bbc undermining xn valuesThe cardinal accused the BBC of broadcasting 'propaganda' that says 'evil is good'

    Cardinal Wilfrid Napier has accused the BBC of trying to undermine Christian moral values through “propaganda” that tells people “evil is good”.

    In a series of tweets, the cardinal said: “Hardly a day passes without [the BBC] promoting abortion, homosexuality, etc. Usual tactic is to identify a particular country, then isolate it as abnormal for outlawing xy or z.”

    When told that, as a South African, he at least did not have to fund it through the licence fee, Cardinal Napier responded: “But I do have to pay! Each time the propaganda is repeated I know more people are corrupted, myself included, by being told “evil is good!”

    Cardinal Napier did not give any specific examples, but his tweets came as the BBC reported Chilean constitutional court’s approval of the abortion bill with a picture of a joyous woman celebrating the decision.

    The BBC declined to comment on Cardinal Napier’s accusation.

    Source: Catholic Herald… 

  • On Recent Protestant and Catholic Academicians’ Nairobi Meeting

    Radio Vatican || Fr. Paul Samasumo and Rose Achiego || 20 August 2017

    protestant and catholic academicians meeting 2017Encounters between Catholics and Protestants in Africa was the theme of an Ecumenical Conference held in Nairobi recently. The conference was organised by the Nairobi-based Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa (JHIA).

    The Ecumenical dialogue brought together over twenty Protestant and Catholic academicians and an audience of over sixty participants.

    The week-long conference was designed as part of the larger commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther.

    Organiser of the conference, Jesuit priest and Director of the JHIA, Fr. Festo Mkenda told Vatican Radio that although the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther was a mostly European affair, it has had wider and far-reaching implications on Christianity in Africa.

    “It occurred to me that nothing much was being done in Africa (to commemorate the Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther). People felt, ‘well, the Protestant Reformation in 1517 was really a European affair.’ For me that was wrong. It was wrong because the Protestant Reformation shaped Christianity in ways that will never be reversed. Christianity, today, whether Catholicism or of any other form, has been shaped by the Protestant Reformation. .. so we Christians in Africa are actually heirs of what happened in 1517. The third wave of Evangelisation in Africa started in the 19th Century with Protestant missionaries who came to Africa. Quickly Catholics warmed to the idea and also came to Africa. With that, there was that competition that has continued to mark African Christianity,” said Fr. Festo who is an expert in African Political history. 

    He says Africans have always known Christianity in its varied form because of the Protestant Reformation. The Nairobi conference was thus an opportunity for Protestants and Catholics to reflect on that experience of encountering one another over the centuries on the African continent. 

    Fr. Festo emphasised that the meeting was an appreciation of the history of Christianity on the continent encompassing both successes and challenges. The papers presented examined encounters from various perspectives in a cordial spirit of Ecumenism. He expressed satisfaction with the quality of papers presented as well as the discussions that ensued after every paper. The papers presented will be published in book form in order to make them available to a wider audience.

    Set up in 2009, at the instigation of the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, the Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa is fast becoming an important centre and a required port of call for researchers of history in Africa. From initially being Jesuit-centred, the vision and centre have since expanded. 

    “Our vision had to become broader to embrace not just Jesuit history and Christian history in Africa … Actually, we now embrace African history, cultures and traditions, African religions and that includes Islam because Islam is part and parcel of African culture,” said Fr. Festo.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • School Kids in CAR Get ‘guns instead of pens,’ Cardinal Laments

    Crux || By Ngala Kilian Chimtom, Africa Correspondent || 21 August 2017

    car cardinal for pens not guns to childrenSpeaking exclusively to Crux on a visit to neighboring Cameroon, Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, described the youth of his country as “a lost generation, because they are born into violence," and also insisted that the root causes of the carnage are political rather than religious.

    Lamenting that child soldiers who should be in school in the Central African Republic “have been given guns instead of pens,” Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui, the national capital, said that violence in the country has “sacrificed” a whole generation of promising youth.

    Speaking exclusively to Crux in Yaounde in neighboring Cameroon, Nzapalainga spoke of a “lost generation” in his war-torn nation.

    “Children should not be carrying arms. They should be in school,” he said, before describing the youths as “a lost generation, because they are born into violence.”

    Frequently drugged, Central Africa’s young people are manipulated by politicians to take up arms against segments of the society, thereby “creating tensions between Christians and Muslims,” the cardinal explained, in attempts to dispel the perception that the conflict in the CAR is a conflict of religions.

    The cardinal drew parallels with what the Boko Haram insurgents are doing in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

    “They force children to wear bombs and explode,” he said. “That is not the face of religion in these countries.”

    Stressing the non-religious nature of the conflict, Nzapalainga told Crux that “those who give out weapons are not imams, pastors or priests … people do not fight for the Koran or the Bible. They fight for diamond, gold, cows, to make money; they fight for political positioning, but in doing so, they use young people as sacrificial lambs.”

    He said politicians give young people money and tell them to attack their opponents, and, in the face of excruciating poverty, many lack the moral strength to reject such offers.

    According to the United Nations, armed groups have recruited an estimated 10,000 orphaned children as fighters in the CAR.

    A spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Marixie Mercado, told a news conference in Geneva that recruitment is happening on all sides, with reasons including poverty, despair, desire for revenge, and the general lack of options for children.

    There have been multiple reports of girls being used as sex slaves.

    Violence as a means of acquiring political power has long been a part of the culture in the CAR. But the current crisis escalated in 2013 when a mainly Muslim coalition, called the Séléka, overthrew then-President François Bozizé, accusing the government of failing to abide by a 2007 peace deal.

    The rebel leader, Michel Djotodia, then declared himself president. A predominantly Christian local defiance group known as the anti-Balaka rose up in defiance of his rule, and what became widely perceived as an inter-religious conflict followed.

    Fighting between the two groups intensified, and, in September 2013, Djotodia disbanded the Séléka coalition that brought him to power because the movement had become too divided. Djotodia himself resigned in January 2014, giving power to the then Mayor of Bangui, Catherine Samba-Panza.

    A cease-fire agreed by the two camps in Brazzaville in July in 2014 didn’t last. By the end of the year, the predominantly Christian anti-Balaka were controlling the South and West of the country, and the mostly Muslim ex-Seleka controlled the north and east. The central government thus had little real control.

    “Outside the capital Bangui, power rests in the hands of armed groups,” Nzapalainga said. “They control the transport infrastructure, they control the tax system, and they control everything. Government has soldiers, but they are badly trained and ill-equipped.”

    Over a dozen armed groups control large parts of the country, exercising authority in various sectors, generally including economic activity.

    The CAR has known several conflicts since independence in 1960 and multiple attempts at peace, but reconciliation has remained elusive. The latest effort came in June, when a peace deal between the government and 13 armed groups was signed. That happened in the confines of an ancient gilded room in Rome belonging to the Community of Sant’Egidio, a movement known for its active role in conflict resolution.

    The signatories said the document was a “road map” towards a solution to the crisis that was meant to open “the path to pacification in the Central African Republic.” But the accord lasted only 24 hours, with fighting then erupting in areas such as Bangassou, Alindao, and Bria regions.

    Nzapalainga was reported to have initialed the peace agreement, but later denied any involvement, criticizing it for leaving “the door open to impunity for the perpetrators of violence.”

    However, he welcomed all initiatives intended to bring peace to the troubled country.

    “The Church has always stood for non-violence,” he told Crux. “Christ tells us that he who kills is in darkness, and if I succeed to tell someone to drop their gun, then I have won a soul.”

    He said the Church has done enormous work to bring hope to the afflicted. It opens church doors to those fleeing the violence, and has mobilized the international community to come and help.

    “People have donated food, clothes, and some charities have contributed funds so we continue providing for those who have lost everything,” he said.

    Remarkably young for a cardinal at 50, when Nzapalainga was named a Prince of the Church by Pope Francis in November 2016, he was the very first born after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65.)

    Source: Crux… 

  • Bishops of Sierra Leone Console Nation in Pain

    Radio Vatican || 21 August 2017

    sierra leone bishops console nationAs the death toll keeps rising, in the wake of Sierra Leone’s devastating Regent mudslide, the Catholic Bishops of the country have reached out to console a nation which has had more than its fair share of tragedy.

    The latest death toll now stands at more than 500. It is bound to rise as there are still hundreds of missing persons. The mudslide took place in the mountain town of Regent, on the outskirts of Freetown. Entire informal settlements were wiped out overnight. There is now urgent need of food, shelter, clean water, sanitation and healthcare.

    “The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been praying for Sierra Leone and has assured us of his spiritual closeness at this time of terrible natural disaster. Our hearts and prayers go out to the bereaved families, and all those who have been made homeless, as well as those who have been thrown into abject poverty by this disaster,” the Bishops’ Message of Hope reads.

    There is also the painful recognition that perhaps this ecological disaster could have been avoided.

    “The encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si', compels our collective consciences to foster true ecological conversion and to live at peace with nature. Sierra Leoneans have the responsibility to care for 'our common home.’ We cannot waver; now is the time to take this road!” the Bishops say.

    On Sunday, 20 August, the Sierra Leone Inter-Religious Council held special prayer services in memory of those killed in the mudslide and flooding.  The Council also organised special prayers and recitals in Mosques on Friday 18 August.

    Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Koroma has declared seven days of mourning in the country and appealed for help.

    Below is the full Message of Hope, from the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone.

    A MESSAGE OF HOPE IN THE WAKE OF THE RECENT  FLOODS, LANDSLIDES AND  MUDSLIDES IN FREETOWN

    To our beloved Brothers and Sisters and People of Goodwill.

    We, the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone, wish to add our voice in extending heartfelt and sincere condolences to President Ernest Bai Koroma, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and his Government, the People and Citizens of a nation in mourning, and to families and relatives who have lost their loved ones during these days of flooding, landslide and mudslides in Freetown. We express our sentiments of consolation and hope to all during this challenging period in our nation's history.

    The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been praying for Sierra Leone and has assured us of his spiritual closeness at this time of terrible natural disaster. Our hearts and prayers go out to the bereaved families, and all those who have been made homeless, as well as those who have been thrown into abject poverty by this disaster.

    The encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Sì, compels our collective consciences to foster true ecological conversion and to live at peace with nature. Sierra Leoneans have the responsibility to care for 'our common home". We cannot waver; now is the time to take this road!

    We urge charity organizations and all competent authorities to be proactive in responding to the needs our compatriots who are now at the mercy of "good will" and cheerful givers.

    The Catholic Church, through her charity arm, Caritas, in collaboration with the Catholic Development Agencies, will collaborate and support Government in her efforts to curtail the sufferings of our compatriots.

    We continue to pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of all victims.

    For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops of Sierra Leone

    Most Rev. Charles A.M. Campbell

    Bishop of Bo and President of the Conference

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • South Sudan's Government is 'orchestrator' of Civil War, Says Catholic Bishop

    National Catholic Reporter (NCR) || By Chris Herlinger || 21 August 2017

    south sudan government behind civil warBishop Santo Loku Pio Doggale is not a man to mince words and he didn't mince words earlier this year when he discussed South Sudan's descent into a worsening, seemingly never-ending civil war.

    "The government is the orchestrator of the war, and the people are suffering as a result," he told NCR from his office in the capital of Juba in late May, citing numerous examples of the afflictions South Sudanese are experiencing: rape, looting and displacement.

    "They are being brutally mistreated," the auxiliary bishop of the capital of Juba said of those who are the victims of violence — victims who have, at the moment, "no resource to justice. It's a big mess."

    He acknowledges that his critics — in the government and even some, privately, within the church — wonder if his criticisms are fair, smart or wise.

    But Doggale brushes aside those criticisms, saying, "I'm not afraid."

    "My life doesn't matter. I've suffered, too. I've lost members of my family. But when brutality is the order of the day, someone has to speak up, especially when you see that the flock is living in fear. This makes me angry."

    Doggale's outspoken stance represents one wing of the church — a faction that believes that the church needs to be firm in its prophetic stance not only for the larger cause of peace in South Sudan but also in calling out the current government for policies and actions some believe are the cause of the current war.

    But in a predominately impoverished, Christian nation where the church has an outsized role in providing education, social services and even basic necessities like food, the church's place in society also has a practical side.

    "The Catholic Church has a strong, strong footprint here," said Fr. Pau Vidal, a Jesuit priest and a project director for Jesuit Refugee Service in the northern city of Maban. Another humanitarian agrees. "The churches have credibility here in South Sudan," said Jerry Farrell, the country representative in South Sudan for Catholic Relief Services. "In fact, they're the only institutions that do have credibility, as they touch on so many parts of life: spirituality, health care, housing, education, food."

    Financial figures about the church's role are hard to come by, but Catholic Relief Services alone has provided assistance of some sort to more than 1 million South Sudanese, the agency said, and works in partnership with local dioceses, parishes and religious congregations of both women and men.

    Read more: National Catholic Reporter...

  • Archbishop Wants Cathedral in Chad to Symbolize the Country’s New Peace

    Crux || By Ngala Killian Chimtom || 16 August 2017

    cathedral in chad to symbolize new peaceThe Archdiocese of N'Djamena, Chad, is seeking thirteen million dollars to reconstruct their cathedral, which was damaged nearly 40 years ago during the country's civil war. The archbishop first made the appeal at the end of June, when he went to the Vatican to receive his pallium on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

    Archbishop Edmond Goethbe Djitangar of N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, is hoping to be able to rebuild his cathedral, which was damaged in 1980 during the country’s 1979-1985 civil war.

    Notre Dame de la Paix [Our Lady of Peace] Cathedral was originally dedicated under the title of “Our Lady of the Assumption.”

    The 1979-1985 conflict followed Chad’s first civil war, which lasted from 1965 until the beginning of 1979. The short-lived peace was shattered when Transitional Government of National Unity failed to extend its authority throughout the country.

    Like many nations along Africa’s Sahel region, Chad is predominantly Arab Muslim in the north, and Christian sub-Saharan African in the south, creating hard-to-resolve tensions. Muslims slightly outnumber Christians in the country, and neighboring nations - especially Libya - have often tried to interfere in its internal affairs.

    The cathedral was bombed in 1980, but renovated and re-opened in 1986 under its new title, considered fitting after the end of hostilities.

    However, the renovations had only papered-over the damage to the building, and soon the structure was considered unfit to host services.

    In a letter sent to the “friends and partners of the Ndjamena Archdiocese,” Djitangar wondered “For how long will I be an archbishop without a cathedral?”

    “Only God knows,” he answers, in apparent exasperation.

    The archdiocese is seeking thirteen million dollars to reconstruct the building, and first made his appeal at the end of June, when he went to the Vatican to receive his pallium on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

    The Chadian government had pledged to provide the funds - as it promised to repair most of the damage of the decades-old conflict - but the global financial crisis, drop in the price of oil, and yet another civil war taking place from 2005-2010 drained the treasury coffers.

    Knowing rebuilding a Catholic cathedral is not the government’s priority, Djitangar began seeking funds elsewhere.

    “We have started explaining to the different Christian communities that it is not the role of the state to construct a cathedral, because we are in a secular state,” the archbishop wrote in his letter.

    “The state, by its goodwill, or by the obligation to repair the damage caused by the war, decided to help us rehabilitate our cathedral. We cannot cross our arms to wait for the finishing of a hypothetical cathedral,” Djitangar continued.

    He said a commission has already been put in place to study the formalities of raising funds for the project, concentrating on local Christians and Chadian Christians living in the diaspora. He is also seeking help from religious communities working in the country.

    However, given the poverty of the inhabitants, that will not be enough.

    “The Archbishop will take upon himself the responsibility of using Roman Catholic institutions to contact all Catholic churches in Europe, America, Asia and Africa as well as institutions of the Universal Church to see how they can help us reconstruct our Cathedral,” he wrote.

    Situated just a few yards away from the Malik Fayçal Mosque, the archbishop believes the cathedral symbolizes a secular state “in which all religions can co-exist peacefully.” He says the history of the cathedral itself is symbolic of the socio-political and social evolution of Chad.

    Djitangar said the initial cathedral had integrated a modern version of the Massai and Musgum huts of the continent, “because Chad is a melting pot of nations, cultures and religions.”

    Even the changing nomenclature of the cathedral is symbolic of the evolution of the Catholic Church in Chad.

    At the beginning, Fort-Lamy (now N’djamena) was a “central mission” in a territory that was still to be evangelized. But in 1942, a group of French officers led by then-Colonel Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque decided it was time to construct a church dedicated to “Our Lady of Victories.” Djitangar said the name signified “the state of belligerence at the time.”

    But with the Second World War, Leclerc (who had become General and then Marshall) went back to France, along with his contingent, and the project was suspended.

    A local committee was then formed to build a church in Fort-Lamy, but this effort, too, failed to get off the ground.

    In 1951, Jesuit Father Joseph Joseph du Bouchet (then the Apostolic Prefect of Fort-Lamy), would re-launch the project to construct a Cathedral to be called “Our Lady of the Assumption,” but he died just a few years later.

    In 1958, the archdiocese of Fort Lamy was created with another Jesuit, Paul-Pierre-Yves Dalmais, being appointed the first archbishop.

    He finally built the cathedral, which was consecrated on March 28, 1965, under the title, Our Lady of the Assumption. Djitangar said that name signified “the crowning of evangelization in the country.”

    But then Chad descended into 20 years of nearly constant civil war. The bombing of the cathedral in 1980 brought down its timber and tile roof.

    At the end of the civil war, the new archbishop of N’djamena, Charles Vandame, started collecting funds to restore the cathedral, and it was re-dedicated on December 6, 1986, under its present title “Our Lady of Peace.”

    Although the restorations were insufficient, Djitangar said this new name is still symbolic.

    “It is highly significant in a region battered by bloody conflict,” the current archbishop said. “The main facade of the Cathedral invokes an image of two hands put together in prayer to implore God to bring peace to Chad.”

    Djitangar said if this restoration project is accomplished, it will mean a page has been turned on the painful memories of war, and it would symbolize a new era of peace; “consolidating it through the fervent prayers that will rise from this place of worship towards The Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother; our Mother.”

    Source: Crux… 

  • “Enough of this drum beat of war”: Catholic Bishops in Nigeria

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 17 August 2017

    bishops caution drums of war in nigeriaThe Catholic Bishops in Nigeria are unhappy with those expressing their grievances through hate speech saying such behavior threatens the unity of the citizens.

    The Bishops are “saddened to see and hear some persons now fanning the embers of disunity and war, no matter how genuine their grievances may be.”

    These sentiments are part of the most recent statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria on the state of their nation, which the Secretary General, Father Ralph Madu, emailed CANAA Wednesday, August 16.

    “Enough of this drum beat of war,” the Bishops have stated and added, “War is an ill wind that blows no one any good. We must engage in more constructive forms of communication and dialogue within a democratic framework that rejects prejudice, intolerance or the exhibition of a sense of superiority over others.”

    While acknowledging their country’s challenges including “the monumental scale of greed and corruption among our elders, elite or political class which continues to anger the youths” and the fact that “the grievances of the youths are not totally misplaced,” the Bishops have advised that just and fair means be used.

    “We therefore condemn whatever threatens our unity as one people while calling for just and fair means of attending to various demands and agitations,” the Bishops have said and added, “Individuals and groups who feel marginalized or oppressed should not take undue advantage of the freedom of expression by making inflammatory statements that could threaten the very unity and survival of the country.”

    The Bishops called for accountability and urged the Federal Government “to take decisive action to contain the excesses of those making these hate speeches and threats from the different parts of the country.”

    They also condemned the killing of worshippers, which occurred on Sunday, August 6 at St. Catholic Church Ozubulu, Anambra State in the Diocese of Nnewi, terming the incident as “heinous, unfortunate and tragic.”

    Pope Francis extended his “heartfelt condolences” to the faithful of Nnewi Diocese following the incident in which 11 worshippers were killed and another 18 critically wounded when a group of gunmen attacked the church while mass was being celebrated.

    “While we pray for the repose of the souls of those who have met their untimely death, we call on the federal and state governments to ensure that these criminals are identified, arrested and punished,” the Bishops said.

    Below is the full text of the Bishops’ statement.

    Enough of this Drum Beat of War!

    Statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) on the State of the Nation.

    Since the return of democracy in the last 18 years, Nigeria has made some progress towards national integration and social development. Even with all the problems and challenges, the ardent hope and concern of every Nigerian or group is to reap the good fruits of democracy. We are, however, saddened to see and hear some persons now fanning the embers of disunity and war, no matter how genuine their grievances may be.

    There seems to be a demonstration of deep-seated anger by some ethnic, regional and religious groups over various issues in our nation, which are provoking these unhelpful solutions. This is indeed unfortunate and regrettable.  We should learn from our past experience of the very tragic civil war which ended about fifty years ago, with the destruction of a huge number of lives and property and the effects of which can still be seen around until this day.

    Without doubt, the last two years of Nigeria’s national life has seen an upsurge of ethnic and regional agitations which have added to the political, religious, ethnic and social tension already being experienced in the nation. The murderous aggression of various groups, the agitations and denunciations and the fierce arguments in favour or against restructuring Nigeria, etc., portray Nigeria as a troubled nation in which many segments of the population feel excluded or marginalized. Clearly, all is not well.

    Every responsible citizen of this country must be concerned that this fire that is gathering momentum be not allowed to spread. It must be quenched before it consumes all of us in one way or another. We therefore condemn whatever threatens our unity as one people while calling for just and fair means of attending to various demands and agitations.

    It is not secret to anyone that the present Nigerian situation does not appear to hold great promise for the young generation.  This is caused by the monumental scale of greed and corruption among our elders, elite or political class which continues to anger the youths. The grievances of the youths are not totally misplaced. Democracy is strengthened when the political class, the elite and elders can negotiate and achieve a consensus that guarantees national cohesion and a sense of belonging for all.  

    However, individuals and groups who feel marginalized or oppressed should not take undue advantage of the freedom of expression by making inflammatory statements that could threaten the very unity and survival of the country.  It must also be noted that freedom of expression includes respect for those who do not agree with us just as no one has the right to infringe on the rights of others. Thus, while making their legitimate demands, aggrieved citizens should have respect for constituted authorities and the laws of the land.  

    It must be noted that all Nigerians are equal before the law. The Nigerian Constitution does not concede to any individual or group the right or the power to determine where any Nigerian may live or work or acquire property.

    We, again admit that not all is well with our country, politically, economically and socially. Hunger and anger, religious bigotry and ethnic hate have indeed created a climate of fear and anxiety.  The solution however is not to be found in aggravating the already tense situation by making uncontrolled or imprudent statements that could plunge the country into war or a very serious crisis. 

    We call on the Federal Government, on its part to take decisive action to contain the excesses of those making these hate speeches and threats from the different parts of the country. Those who undermine our peaceful coexistence should be held accountable and our security agencies must not be indifferent to the actions and utterances of such persons.

    The call to restructure Nigeria for more efficient economic and political governance is in order. This will make it easier for geo-political units to determine their economic and political interests or priorities according to their peculiar situations, of course, under a truly Federal system of government. Nigeria as a country belongs to all of us. It is not the property of some powerful individuals or any ethnic group. It is very sad that after having come this far in our democratic experience, one group or association would threaten to expel another group from a section of the country or another group threatens to forcefully leave a nation that we are all struggling to build together. Building a nation takes time, collective hard work, dedication and patience.

    Government at the State, Federal and Local Government levels must take responsibility for the lapses caused by self-centered attitudes and practices in governance by political officials. This is a real threat to our cherished values of justice and equity and creates a spirit of great disillusionment among the citizens. Those political leaders, tribal war mongers, religious extremists, etc., who continue to manipulate Nigeria’s destiny to suit their own purposes should desist forthwith. They should know that the failure of the Nigerian State is also their collective failure and history will hold them responsible for their roles.

    Enough of this drum beat of war. War is an ill wind that blows no one any good. We must engage in more constructive forms of communication and dialogue within a democratic framework that rejects prejudice, intolerance or the exhibition of a sense of superiority over others. Our collective efforts must henceforth inspire hope and build trust and confidence among our people. We are aware that there can never be a perfect country, but trusting God, and blessed with millions of people who practise religion, everyone must make the needed sacrifices, based on the love for our dear country and all Nigerians.

    Finally, we condemn the heinous, unfortunate and tragic incident of the massacre of worshippers at St Philip’s Catholic Church Ozubulu, Anambra State by some criminal persons. While we pray for the repose of the souls of those who have met their untimely death, we call on the federal and state governments to ensure that these criminals are identified, arrested and punished. 

    We wish our country well; and we pray that all citizens, whether in low or high offices, in private or public work, will always judiciously, prudently and honestly use the abundant blessings God has bestowed on us for the good of all - the young, the old, the sick, the poor, the jobless, the distressed, the frustrated, etc. We pray for the conversion of the evil-minded Nigerians who deliberately cause pain either by hoarding resources meant for all or by violently inflicting physical pain and agony on fellow Nigerians. All this can be avoided if there is good governance, free from corruption, nepotism, and if we entrench a culture of the equitable distribution of all our God-given abundant resources, transcending the narrow confines of partisan religious, ethnic or political considerations.

    Signed:

    Most Rev Ignatius Ayau Kaigama    

    President, CBCN

    Most Rev William Avenya

    Secretary, CBCN

  • Wau Cathedral in South Sudan Becomes Refuge of Last Resort for Displaced

    IRIN || By Stefanie Glinski || 15 August 2017

    wau cathedral last resort refuge for displacedThe Catholic cathedral in Wau, South Sudan’s second largest city, is now a sanctuary for more than 10,000 people who have fled the country’s vicious civil war, but with insecurity rife and markets collapsed, help is scarce and food in short supply.

    Saint Mary’s Cathedral, a solid red-brick building, soars above the many crowded makeshift shelters, pitched on whatever available ground can be found. Space is at such a premium that some people even sleep next to the church’s altar.

    The official UN camp on the other side of the city is the most congested protection of civilians site in the country – almost 40,000 people shelter on 200,000 square metres of land (roughly the area of 25 football/soccer pitches).

    Maria is disabled and elderly. Saint Mary’s, the largest church in South Sudan, has been home to her for longer than a year.

    Shot in the hip during a cattle raid when she was six years old, her family was able to care for her until last year, when all were killed in an attack on their village. Maria was the sole survivor. 

    "Soldiers burned our houses, took our cattle, and almost murdered my whole village,” she told IRIN. “I don't know why I was spared, but I was left alone and helpless.”

    New front

    Wau, in the country’s northwest, had initially been spared the violence when civil war broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his former deputy, Riek Machar.

    That is no longer the case.

    In April this year, at least 16 civilians were killed by rampaging government soldiers in the city following an ambush that killed two of their commanders, allegedly committed by rebels belonging to the region’s Fertit ethnic group.

    Three thousand people, mostly women and children, fled to Saint Mary’s.

    Wau was again purged in June by the army and allied militia in terrible scenes of violence. As many as 400 people may have been killed.

    "Those who flee believe that even rebels still fear God and would not slaughter civilians in the backyard of a church," said the priest at Saint Mary’s, Moses Peter. "Many other churches have also taken in hundreds of people.”

    Hunger

    Saint Mary’s feels like a proper IDP camp, albeit with Christian murals on its walls.

    International aid agencies have installed water pumps and latrines. There are classrooms, health facilities, even small shops and businesses in the compound.

    What is lacking, though, is food aid.

    “Collaboration between aid agencies, the church, and the local government works well here, but IDPs have become increasingly frustrated,” said Oxfam's Christina Corbett. “They receive non-food items such as soap and blankets, but they keep asking for food.”

    It has been four months since the last food distribution by the World Food Programme. Deliveries were suspended after the death of three WFP porters in the April violence in the city, although rations are provided at the UN site.

    Security at Saint Mary's is almost non-existent. There is a simple metal gate and a lone police officer for its protection.

    "With the government’s full assurance of safety for our staff, we will ensure that people will receive food again," WFP's George Fominyen told IRIN. 

    Father Peter referenced a climate of growing tensions that has seen increased threats to relief workers.

    "This puts an extra level of stress on aid staff and makes their work increasingly difficult – and unsafe," he said. "Between hunger and insecurity, people face a lot of pressure here.”

    Settling in

    The frontline in the civil war is close – less than 30 kilometres from the city's outskirts. And given that some six million people in the countryside are also in need of food aid, nobody at Saint Mary’s will be going home anytime soon.

    Hasan is a Sudanese trader who grew up in Wau. He said the food shortages were also a result of the collapse of the local economy, in what should be a highly fertile region.

    "A lot of food is brought in from Sudan and there could be enough for all," he told IRIN, standing in his small shop, which was filled with more laundry detergent than food items. 

    "Inflation and conflict are the real issues,” Hasan said. “If people had money, food would be available to them. But with the ongoing war and most people having fled lootings, they are left with nothing." 

    In the meantime, the 61-year-old cathedral provides what succour it can.

    Juda, an elderly man sitting in front of murals of African saints, has gone blind over the past year. 

    "I have nothing to return to, so I will wait here in the church,” he told IRIN. “I'm confident that food will come again soon, but I'm not confident about peace. If it doesn't come, I don't know if I'll ever have a place to call home again besides this church."

    Source: IRIN… 

  • “To lose even one life because of elections is abominable”: Catholic Bishops in Kenya

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 17 August 2017

    loss of single life in kenya elections an abominationThe Catholic Bishops in Kenya have described as “sad and painful” the protests and violence that followed the announcement of the Presidential results on Friday, August 11 and recalled, “It reminded us of the post-election violence of 2007/2008 that we, as a Nation, had vowed never again to experience.”

    “Dear Kenyans, to lose even one life because of elections is abominable,” the Bishops have stated in their August 17 collective message and added, “To injure and maim anybody is unacceptable. This must never be allowed in any civilized society like Kenya.”

    There have been conflicting reports about the number of deaths, with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) claiming it had evidence of 24 deaths, the Multi-Sectoral Forum, a grouping of religious leaders drawn from various faiths, putting the figure of the dead at 18, and the Cabinet Secretary for Interior, Fred Matiang’i denying any deaths of protestors, claiming that those shot by police could have been criminals who were taking advantage of the situation.

    “As a church we have our own network of people on the ground who have given us the information. People have called us whenever it has happened to inform us. We got this number from our people on the ground and some in the human rights movement,” Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit has been quoted as saying at a press conference at Nairobi’s Ufungamano House.

    “We are concerned about the use of excessive force and we ask the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions to investigate these killings with a view to bringing the culprits to book,” KNCHR chairperson, Kagwiria Mbogori, has been quoted as saying at a press conference Saturday, August 12.

    Among the dead is a six-month old baby, Samantha Pendo, who died of severe head injury due to a bang on her scull that caused a fracture on the right side of her head. The baby’s attacker is suspected to be an anti-riot police during Friday night demonstrations in the Western town of Kisumu.

    "We confirm that the baby suffered severe head injury due to a bang on the head, and we have shared the results with the family," Consultant Pathologist Dixon Mchana has been quoted as telling the press Thursday, August 17.

    "It was sad that a baby of this age had to die such a cruel death. We hope the authorities will get to the bottom of this matter, and bring those culpable to book as well as hand the family justice," Family representative Amos Pambo told the press Thursday, August 17, promising to do all in their power as a family to secure justice for baby Pendo, whose name means love.

    Also killed during the post-election protests was a 10-year-old girl, who was hit by a stray bullet while playing with other children outside her parents’ house in Nairobi’s Mathare area.

    The bullet, which hit her chest and exited through the back, could have been fired by one of the anti-riot police officers who had moved in to quell protests that had been staged by perceived opposition supporters who were against the announced re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

    The Catholic Bishops have castigated the security officers who brutally confronted protesters when they were expected to protect them, a move that resulted in “painful loss of life, the barricading of roads and the destruction of property.”

    Meanwhile, the Bishops have thanked Kenyans for turning out in large numbers to vote terming the action a “sense of patriotism and love for our nation.”

    They have also applauded the opposition coalition, NASA, for deciding to channel their grievances regarding the election through Kenya’s Supreme Court.

    “It is only by respecting and having recourse to the established Constitutional institutions that we, as Kenyans, are able to enhance and strengthen the rule of law and the democratic process in our country,” the Catholic Prelates in Kenya have stated in their message titled, “Truth will set you free.”

    “As we await the determination of the disputed Presidential elections by the Supreme Court, we call upon our Government leaders, beginning with the President to take the lead in uniting the country,” the Bishops have gone on to say and have urged “all Kenyans to avoid anything that incites others to violent protests.”

    “We commend this country to prayer for peace, justice and prosperity,” the Bishops have concluded their message signed by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishops Philip Anyolo of Homabay diocese.

  • Catholic Schools are a Pillar of Church in Sudan

    Aid to Church in Need (ACN) || By Oliver Maksan || 28 July 2017

    catholic schools in sudan a pillarDUST and mud brick houses everywhere—as far as the eye can see. The houses are indistinguishable in color from the ground on which they stand. Trees are few and far between. The road leading northwards from the Sudanese capital of Khartoum shimmers in the burning heat. The temperature is tops 110 degrees, according to the thermometer. At a certain point the car turns off into an unpaved road with deep potholes, entering a residential suburb.

    “Welcome to the St. Kizito School of Dar es Salaam,” says our host, Father Daniele, as we stand in the courtyard of the school, which is named after the youngest of the Ugandan martyrs. This Italian priest is a member of the clergy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum. His fluent Arabic enables him to communicate with the people of his parish in their own language.

    “I belong to the Neo-Catechumenal Way and I studied at our seminary in Beirut. I‘ve been living in Sudan now for more than 10 years”—a move he has never regretted, ever, he tells his visitor from international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

    “But it is an extremely difficult pastoral challenge for priests here,” he adds. This has to do more than anything with the life circumstances of his parishioners. Father Daniele explains: “They are totally uprooted people. The parishioners here are for the most part come from the Nuba mountains in the south of Sudan. Their lives there were marked by the customs and traditions of their villages. But here, far from their homeland, they are completely lost.”

    Many of the people many years ago came to the Khartoum area, in search of work or in order to escape the fighting in their homeland. But most of them can only survive as day laborers, and this eats away at the men‘s sense of self-worth.

    “Many of them simply drift around idly when they don‘t have any work,” says Father Daniele, and many have no work at all. “In their traditional view of themselves, they are herders and warriors. But since there is no fighting no herding to be done here, all the work falls on the shoulders of the women, he adds.

    Unlike 90 percent of the Sudanese people who are Sunni Muslims, the people of the Nuba Mountains are Christians. Owing to the fact that the Christian faith did not arrive in Sudan until the 19th century and is not deeply rooted, there are often syncretic tendencies, with belief in magic rubbing shoulders with the Christian faith. For this reason Father Daniele attaches great importance to helping people grow in their faith. He says: “I want to show people above all that, despite their poverty, God loves them—and each of them individually.”

    This is not always easy to understand for people imbued with a tribal way of thinking, he explains. But at least he has no concerns about church attendance. “The people come in large numbers to church. On Sundays our church is full,” tells us. ACN helped to pay for its construction.

    “It is extremely important that the church be a beautiful and worthy place,” Father Daniele stresses, “as it is undoubtedly the most beautiful place in the lives of these people, who otherwise know only their own poverty stricken huts and homes.”

    Father Daniele has a particular concern for the children and he parish school is his most important resource in this respect. “Many of the children would spend the whole day roaming around the streets if they didn‘t come to us in school. Their parents show little concern for them. Attention, and even tenderness, is something most of them have never experienced, and above all not from their fathers.”

    Father Daniele works hard to convey to the children a sense of their own self-worth. He says: “We want to show them that they are respected, precious people, loved by God. We do so by listening to each one of them and showing them respect.”

    Precisely because the circumstances of the children are so difficult and their families so large and so poor—eight children or more is by no means unusual—the priest places great hope in the schools, saying that, “however modest our means are here, without education the children will have no chance of a better life.”

    Indeed, the Catholic school system is one of the pillars of small Catholic Church in Sudan. For one Church official– who requested that his name not be used – the Church educational system is crucially important. The official explains: “Our schools gain us acceptance among the majority Muslim community, and above all with the state.

    "The state is strongly Islamic, but—because of the rapid population growth, the number of people moving into cities and limited public resources--its budget is overstretched and insufficient to provide enough schools. Hence, the government is happy to see the Church involved. As a Church we maintain almost 20 public schools in the city of Khartoum alone, and permission to build schools—unlike permission to construct churches—is something that is always granted to us.”

    The schools are attended both by Christians and by Muslims. The Church official acknowledges that the quality of the schools is not the best. He says: “after all, we hardly have money for teachers and books, and nor do our students.” But no pupil is refused admittance, even if he or she cannot afford the school fees. “For the children of the poorest families the school is the only possibility of bringing a little order into their lives,” the official stresses.

    ACN is committed to support the Catholic schools in Sudan. “The Church in Sudan has asked us for help,” says Christine du Coudray-Wiehe, who oversees projects in Sudan. She adds: “It is an urgent necessity to respond, as the majority of the pupils are from Catholic families from southern Sudan. It is vital for these families that their children be able to attend a Christian school—for this is the only way we can prevent them from being Catholics at home and Muslims at school.”

    Source: Aid to Church in Need…

  • Archbishop of Canterbury Declares Sudan New Anglican Province

    Daily Nation || By AFP || 31 July 2017

    sudan declared new anglican provinceArchbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Sunday declared Sudan the 39th province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, six years after the predominantly Christian south gained independence from the north.

    The Anglican Church in Sudan, a majority Muslim country, has been administered from South Sudan since the 2011 split which followed a civil war that left more than two million people dead.

    Sunday's ceremony in Khartoum added Sudan to the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion’s 38 member churches — known as provinces — and six other branches known as extra provincials.

    Welby said that creating a 39th Anglican province with its own Khartoum-based archbishop was a "new beginning" for Christians in Sudan.

    FIRST ARCHBISHOP

    He installed Ezekiel Kondo Kumir Kuku as the country's first archbishop and primate at a ceremony in the capital's All Saints Cathedral attended by American, European and African diplomats as well as hundreds of worshippers.

    "We welcome the new primate with jubilation," Welby announced to a cheering crowd as he handed a cross to Kuku.

    Welby, spiritual head of the Church of England and of the global Anglican Communion, said it was a rare opportunity for an archbishop to declare a new primate.

    "It is a responsibility for Christians to make this province work, and for those outside (Sudan) to support, to pray and to love this province," he said.

    "The church must learn to be sustainable financially, to develop the skills of its people, and to bless this country as the Christians here already do."

    SOUTH'S SECESSION

    The idea of a separate Anglican province in Sudan was first discussed in 2009 as it became clear that the south would secede.

    Previously, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan administered the region, Reverend Francis Clement of All Saints Cathedral told AFP.

    "But after the split it was decided to have a separate, autonomous Episcopal Church of Sudan," he said.

    "Today, we inaugurated that. It will have its own autonomous administration to take its own decisions."

    There is no central Anglican authority such as a pope, with each member church making its own decision in its own ways guided by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    PERSECUTION

    Human rights and Christian campaign groups have regularly accused the Sudanese authorities of persecuting Christians and even destroying churches in the capital since the north-south split.

    About three years ago two South Sudanese pastors, Yat Michael and Peter Yen, were arrested in Sudan on charges including spying and crimes against the state.

    The two, arrested by agents of Sudan's powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), were released by a Khartoum court in August last year.

    Since the 1989 coup that brought Islamist backed President Omar al-Bashir to power, authorities in Khartoum have pursued Arabising and Islamising policies in a bid to unify the country.

    This has stirred resentment and helped trigger a devastating civil war that ended with the secession of the mainly Christian south.

    WELBY MEETS BASHIR

    Later on Sunday, Welby met Bashir with whom he discussed issues concerning "protection" of Christians and churches in Sudan.

    "We talked of how in England we seek to help mosques in ensuring that they are able to function well and freely," Welby said.

    "In England, the Church of England often seeks to protect Muslims when they are under pressure," he said, indicating that he expected the same in Sudan when it came to protecting Christians.

    Christian communities in Sudan today are mostly found in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan state. Experts say that between three and five percent of Sudan's about 25 million population are Christian.

    US President Donald Trump is to decide on October 12 whether to permanently lift sanctions imposed in 1997 over Khartoum's alleged backing for Islamist militant groups.

    Several campaign groups have urged Washington to maintain the sanctions or formulate new ones to address concerns over human rights violations, including alleged religious repression.

    Source: Daily Nation…

  • Kenyans Praying for Peaceful Elections, Catholic Bishops Announce Novena

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 03 August 2017

    kenyans praying for peaceful elections 2017There is a mood of prayer in Kenya as the country nears the much anticipated and seemingly competitive general elections slated for next Tuesday, August 8, 2017.

    Prayer rallies have been organized by various groups in different parts of the country, all with one running theme: peaceful elections.

    On Friday, July 28, the Catholic Bishops announced a novena for all the faithful in Kenya.

    “We invite all the faithful in our Dioceses and all people of good will, to join together in praying for our Country,” the Bishops said in a letter signed by Bishop Anyolo and added, “We propose to start the Prayer of the Novena for Peaceful Elections from 30th July to the 7th of August 2017.”

    On Sunday, July 30, hundreds of Kenyans from all walks of life gathered at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park for a prayer rally organized by Tuombe Kenya Peace Movement and spearheaded by Rachel Ruto, the wife of the Deputy President William Ruto.

    This countrywide prayer initiative has been so far to 40 counties. The Sunday Uhuru Park prayers were presided over by the Christian clergy as ‘a time of thanksgiving, repentance and supplication’ ahead of the slated for August 8.

    The poll involves the election of six leaders, who include a President, County Governor, Senator, Member of Parliament, Woman Representative, and a Member of County Assembly.

    The most recent opinion polls have indicated that it is a neck and neck between the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance (NASA) Presidential candidate, Raila Odinga who is vying for the fourth time.

    The prayers for peaceful elections have intensified after the mysterious disappearance and shocking murder of Chris Msando, who was serving as the systems development manager at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body responsible for delivering Kenya’s elections.

    Msando is said to have played a significant role in the installation and management of digital technology, which will be used in voting and tallying election results. He was scheduled to oversee the testing of this results transmission system on Monday, July 31, the day his body was identified at Nairobi’s city mortuary, where it had been brought by police on Saturday, August 1.

    A postmortem report on Wednesday, August 2, has revealed that the late ICT professional was tortured and strangled by his killers who also hit him with a blunt object in the head and inflicted a deep cut before dumping him in a forest in the outskirts of Nairobi city.

    Msando’s back had also deep scratches, which seem to indicate that he was either dragged on a rough surface or scratched. His right hand also has deep cuts, an indication of some torture by a sharp object.

    The United States and United Kingdom governments have indicated a willingness to provide a team of investigators to help in the probe of Msando’s death, a move strongly supported by Kenya’s opposition, NASA.

    The Catholic Bishops have described Msando’s killing as a “barbaric action” and condoled the family and IEBC.

    “This barbaric action has taken place when we as Catholic bishops and other religious leaders as well as our faithful have been dedicating this country to prayers to ensure there will be just, free, fair, credible and peaceful elections,” Bishop Philip Anyolo who heads Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has been quoted as saying on behalf of the Catholic Bishops in Kenya.

    “Life is sacred and only God who gives it freely should take it away when He so desires,” said Bishop Anyolo.

    In their July 28 letter, the Catholic Bishops called on “all Kenyans to seize this opportunity to exercise our constitutional right and give ourselves Leaders of integrity.”

    Below is the full text of the letter by the Catholic Bishops in Kenya.

    “SEEK PEACE AND PROSPERITY” ……… (JEREMIAH 29:7)

    We the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Nairobi, wish to address all Kenyans as we prepare to exercise our democratic rights by casting votes to elect our Leaders.  We wish to note that the moment we have been waiting for is here. We are calling upon all Kenyans to seize this opportunity to exercise our constitutional right and give ourselves Leaders of integrity. The clarion call has been to have Just, Fair, Peaceful and Credible Elections. We need to create a peaceful environment, to demonstrate our patriotism for our wonderful Country, and ensure that all parts of Kenya are in peace.

    We note with appreciation, the relatively peaceful manner in which campaigns have been conducted. We urge all the candidates to continue conducting themselves with decorum and sobriety in the remaining stretch of the campaigns, in order to achieve cohesion and National integration.

    We appeal to the Youth to restrain themselves from violence and instead be the agents of peace. We exhort them to uphold to the culture of peace and engage in activities of peace-building.

    As Catholic Bishops, we recognize the achievements so far made by the IEBC under the circumstances. We appeal to the entire Country to accord IEBC all the support it needs to discharge its constitutional mandate. On their part, we ask the IEBC to see to it that they secure Just, Fair, Transparent, Credible and Peaceful Elections.

    We shall work closely with all the election observation groups, and all Agencies and non-State actors involved in the electoral process.

    We recognize that the Media is a very crucial actor in the entire electoral process. It is the media that packages and relays information to the public. It is, therefore, important for the Media to remain objective in helping to create a peaceful environment and promote the culture of Justice, Peace and Reconciliation.

    As we draw closer to the elections we urge the Security Agencies to intensify their preparedness in helping IEBC to secure Just, Transparent and Peaceful elections.

    We recognize the manner in which the Judiciary has discharged their duties so far. We encourage it to continue upholding its professionalism and commitment to this Country in fulfilling its mandate without fear or favour.

    In conclusion, we invite all the faithful in our Dioceses and all people of good will, to join together in praying for our Country. We propose to start the Prayer of the Novena for Peaceful Elections from 30th July to the 7th of August 2017.

    We beseech God to take charge of the whole process of Elections.  “May the God of Peace be with you all, (Rom. 15:33).

    PEACE ………………..   PEACE ………………..   PEACE ………………..

    God bless you all.   God bless our Country Kenya.

    Friday, 28th July 2017

    Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo

    Chairman, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • African-born Clergy, Religious Ministering in U.S. Gather in New Orleans

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By By Beth Donze || 01 August 2017

    african clergy religious in us meeting 2017The growing numbers of African-born clergy and religious ministering in the United States are at the vanguard of an important moment in both the U.S. and worldwide Catholic Church, said Jesuit Father Allan Deck.

    He addressed about 80 members of this rapidly emerging demographic of church leaders gathered in New Orleans for the 18th annual convention of the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States.

    "The church is growing in Asia, in Latin America and most especially in Africa," said Father Deck, a teacher of theology and Latino studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, delivering the conference's keynote address July 27.

    "So at this moment in time and as we move into the future, the life of the universal church, the leadership of the universal church -- and all the hard work that we need to do to evangelize -- more and more has to be assumed by up-and-coming groups, and one of those groups is the Catholic faithful of the various countries of Africa," he said.

    Father Deck served from 2008 to 2012 as the first executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church; the secretariat was established in November 2007 by the bishops.

    The priest called the influx of foreign-born ministers "a globalized priesthood, a globalized religious." These priests and sisters, like their American counterparts, are more likely than ever to find themselves in parishes where there are multiple native languages, desired styles of worship and even clashing beliefs on how a parish meeting should be conducted, he said.

    Father Deck noted that African-born clergy and religious serving in the United States already are a step ahead of their American counterparts when it comes to answering Pope Francis' call for church ministers to leave the security of their geographical parishes to find and serve those living in the margins.

    "All of you, because you're here in this country, have moved out of your comfort zone, but you know what? You must continue to do (that)!" Father Deck told the assembly, which included priests, men and women religious and seminarians.

    "People are mingling and encountering each other in numbers and in ways that they never have in all the history of the human race," he said, recalling a recent trip to a mission church in New Mexico where he came upon the pastor: a priest from Nigeria who spoke "beautiful Spanish" and whose flock was predominantly Mexican-American.

    "We have priests and religious from all types of backgrounds working with people of all different kinds of backgrounds everywhere," Father Deck said.

    The conventioneers learned a few surprising statistics on their adopted home of America. Currently, half of all Catholics in the United States trace their roots not to Europe, but to Latin America. Of those Hispanic Catholics, 65 percent are Mexican-Americans. In Father Deck's home Archdiocese of Los Angeles, more than half of the clergy are international, he said.

    Ministering in this "globalizing church" challenges church leaders and laity to bring unity to parishes that are increasingly multicultural, intercultural, diverse and pluralistic, the priest said.

    The "national parish" model that was effective for more than a century -- with each European group having its own church, priests and religious -- no longer exists, Father Deck said. More recent immigration trends are asking, for example, formerly all-Latino churches to readjust their programming when Vietnamese Catholics move into the neighborhood; and churches in major cities to welcome newly arrived faithful from Africa. In dioceses such as Atlanta and Houston, African Catholics now outnumber African-American Catholics.

    "The subject is no longer multiculturalism as much as it is interculturalism -- how the groups mutually relate -- not how much they are respected each in their own silo, each in their own compartment," Father Deck said, noting that a parish's overarching goal must always be to foster unity while doing its main work of evangelization, rather than trying to get people to conform and assimilate.

    "It's important to acknowledge and to recognize each and every group -- everybody wants to be recognized; every group wants to be respected," he said. "We are not going to get anywhere in the encounter with other cultures if the first step is not even simply to acknowledge and show respect and give as much dignity as possible to the other group."

    Father Deck said that if any organization can do it, "the Catholic Church ought to be able to do it," calling on American Catholics of all origins to be more patient -- and curious -- about what diverse groups can contribute to parish life.

    "The Catholic Church proves that it's possible to have unity across the lines of culture and race, the things that divide people," he said.

    Much soul-searching needs to be done by all American Catholics if such "intercultural competency" is to be built, Father Deck said. A litany of obstacles divide us: stereotypes, prejudice, ethnocentrism, racism, bias, classism, sexism, ignorance, fear and guilt.

    Deacon Martin Ahiaba, a Nigerian-born seminarian anticipating his ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, said he must steel himself against the hurt that comes when Americans question the authenticity of his vocational calling.

    "One of the biggest misconceptions is that all priests coming from Africa are coming (to the United States) to make a living; they're coming to look for money," said Deacon Ahiaba, 44, noting that African seminaries, ironically, require their students to spend 10 to 12 years in formation, compared to the requisite four to six years in American seminaries.

    "Still, after ordination, you are sometimes not treated as though you are equal to (the American) priest," Deacon Ahiaba told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese.

    Despite such prejudice, Deacon Ahiaba remains impressed by the scope and quality of Catholic Charities' outreach, including to refugees fleeing war-torn countries.

    "Generally, the church here is very, very welcoming," he said.

    In other convention news, attendees said the appointment of more African-born bishops and cardinals, as well as enhanced intercultural training of future priests at the seminary level, would create a more nurturing ecclesial environment for African-born priests, religious and laity residing in the United States.

    Father Henry Atem, national president of the conference of African clergy and religious, known as ACCCRUS, reported that the organization was in the midst of relocating to new permanent headquarters in Houston.

    "Your presence and participation signal a new level of cooperation and integration which black Catholics across the United States so desperately need," Father Atem said. "May God bless Mother Africa. May God bless America. May God bless the Holy Church of Rome. May God bless us all."

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