The 9 Catholic radio journalists of the province of Cabo Delgado, in the diocese of Pemba in Mozambique, who were forced to take shelter in the bush after rebels of the Islamic State had raided the headquarters of the station are safe. “The National Forum of Community Radio (FORCOM) reports that the nine journalists of the editorial office of the Saint Francis of Assisi Community Radio, located in the district of Muidumbe, province of Cabo Delgado, are in a safe area, after having survived for 15 days in the forest”, reports a post on the FORCOM Facebook page, according to Fides News Agency.
The Community Radio Forum “was able to provide logistical support to all journalists in order to reach the relatively safe areas of Namialo, Montepuez, and Pemba”.
The last two journalists of the group arrived in safety on November 16 and “are already meeting their relatives in the district of Montepuez”, FORCOM states.
However, the situation of journalists remains precarious due to the lack of sufficient food “to guarantee the livelihood of journalists and their families”, and the fear that “the rebels will attack the entire province of Cabo Delgado”. On October 31, the entire editorial team of the Saint Francis of Assisi Community Radio evacuated the radio facilities after the rebels attacked the parish church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the Muidumbe district where the station is located, forcing the nine journalists, together with their families, to escape and take refuge in the forest. In an attempt to block the jihadist violence which is currently spreading in southern Tanzania, the police chiefs of Tanzania and Mozambique have decided to launch joint operations against fighters linked to the so-called “Islamic State”.
Tanzanian Police Inspector General Simon Sirro and his Mozambican counterpart Bernardino Rafael met on November 20 in the southern Tanzanian border town of Mtwara. The meeting came a month after some 300 suspected Islamist militants from Mozambique attacked the Kitaya village of Mtwara, killing an unknown number of people. In the Province of Cabo Delgado, jihadists have killed more than 2,300 people since the beginning of the insurgency, forcing 500,000 inhabitants to evacuate.
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“Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future” is the first book written by a pope in response to a major crisis, and offers unique, practical guidance from the world’s pre-eminent spiritual leader on how to reflect on the pandemic as an opportunity to make a better world, a task which involves all of us. Pope Francis gives us hope—and a plan.
This is how papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh, presented this book today, one composed of many exchanges between him and Pope Francis the summer following the coronavirus lockdown. Today, Ivereigh presented the book via Zoom.
Simon & Schuster will be publishing the work on December 1, 2020, in dual English and Spanish editions simultaneously. It will also be published by the publisher’s audio division and Simon & Schuster’s international companies in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom.
Written simultaneously in both languages, in it Pope Francis addresses humanity the great questions facing the world at this time, drawing on episodes from his own life and a lifetime of leadership.
While noting that the conversations due to the pandemic couldn’t take place physically together, Austen welcomed a “new modus operandi” where he would often address the Pope in Spanish in emails and the Holy Father would often leave him long voice messages, sometimes hours long. Austen praised the great trust and humility of the Pope in their exchanges.
The author describes the work as Francis’ “spiritual guidance for a world in crisis, a personal manifesto for profound social change, and a summons to each person to choose a better future.”
In a press release, the text is said to address: the anti-racist protests over the death of George Floyd, and the toppling of statues and attempts at “purifying” history; Why Pope Francis thinks women in the crisis have proved better leaders, and why female economists offer a blueprint for the new kind of economy the crisis shows we need; the origins of the abuse crisis in the Church – and the parallels with the #MeToo movement.
Moreover, it discusses: “why change can only come from the margins of society – and a politics centered on fraternity and solidarity; polarization in Church and society, and how differences can be made fruitful; Why the Pope favors a Universal Basic Income, and strong curbs on a neo-liberal market; economy to enable access to work and greater equality, and ecological recovery; the need for a new kind of politics beyond managerialism and populism rooted in service of society and the common good; and the origins of the environmental crisis.
In addition, the conversation will share Francis’s personal “Covids,” “periods of crisis in his life that profoundly changed him.”
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The Sindh high court has ordered the teenage Catholic child bride Arzoo Raja – kidnapped, converted to Islam, and subjected to forced marriage – to remain in a state-run shelter home. During today’s hearing, November 23, the judge did not allow the girl to return to her family of origin and that she will have to stay in the aforementioned structure.
If on the one hand the decision definitely tears her away from the one who kidnapped her, the fact that she does not return to the house where she was born causes disappointment among Catholics. Arzoo Raja’s family, in agreement with their defenders, will appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan to obtain custody of their daughter.
Muslim lawyer Jibran Nasir, who is following Arzoo Raja’s case, explains to Fides News Agency: “Today the Sindh High Court has disposed of the case, which was primarily filed by Arzoo’s abductors in her name. The court denied all their prayers regarding Arzoo’s custody, the legality of the marriage and cancellation of the case filed by her parents”.
The lawyer Nasir continues: “On the other hand, an FIR [first information report] by her father has not been quashed and instead Section 375(5) for statutory rape of a minor, under the age of 16, has been added, a crime that can be punished with life imprisonment or death sentence”.
The lawyer adds: “The Court confirmed that Arzoo will remain in the shelter home and directed the home secretary to assign an officer from the Social Welfare Department to ensure Arzoo’s well-being and to facilitate her path of education. It is a step forward because Arzoo is safe. We will now do our best and we will present an appeal to the Supreme Court for the girl to return to live with her loved ones”.
Fr. Saleh Diego, Vicar General and director of the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Archdiocese of Karachi, after the sentence of the Sindh High Court, told Fides: “We expected her to be left with her family. In the past, in some cases, minors had been returned to their families. The judge has ordered Arzoo to stay in the shelter home where she is currently living as long as she wishes. We still ask the judiciary to entrust custody of the minor to her parents”.
Fr. Saleh Diego also states: “The court should consider that she is a minor, who has suffered a violent trauma and is under pressure after her kidnapping, forced conversion, and marriage to the man who raped her. We ask for full respect of our rights as Pakistani citizens”.
On November 9, an agreement was signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia with the aim of bringing to an end the military conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, many Armenians feel betrayed by the conditions of the armistice, under which Azerbaijan would retain control of the territories it has won during the war and Russian troops would be installed in Nagorno-Karabakh for a period of five years, to maintain the peace. The international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation ACN International spoke recently with Father Bernardo de Nardo, an Argentinian priest of the Catholic Church of Latin rite, who has been ministering in Armenia for the past three years, in order to better understand the reasons behind the conflict.
He was interviewed by Maria Lozano.
What will be the consequences of the fact that Azerbaijan will retain control of these areas for the Armenian population living in them?
The consequence will be that they will be living in a permanent climate of fear at the threat of genocide, so consequently, the majority of these people will leave their homes and come to Armenia. The cultural and religious patrimony of the area is therefore in danger, and the churches could be destroyed or converted into mosques. Azerbaijan has already been denounced by Armenia for having destroyed a Christian seminary in Naxichevan, an action proved by videos showing tombs with their stone crosses being smashed and destroyed. It is very likely the same thing will happen in Karabakh.
The conditions of the Armistice have not been well received in Armenia. What consequences is this likely to have for the country?
The people are very unhappy with the armistice. They see it as a betrayal of the thousands who have been killed and a complete abandonment of those Armenians living in Karabakh. The consequence for the country itself, at the present moment, is a very grave political crisis, with the opposition parties calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister. It is likely that in the weeks to come there will be more protests and demonstrations in the streets. This will generate a climate of instability and still greater crisis.
What are the underlying roots of this conflict, which already saw an earlier phase in the 1990s?
The underlying roots of the conflict go back to the time of the Soviet Union, when after the war Stalin divided up the various territories, favoring what he called ethnic mixing. And so he allocated the historically Armenian region of Karabakh to Azerbaijan, as an autonomous region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union an anti-Armenian nationalism emerged within Azerbaijan. There were massacres of Armenians in a number of cities, including Baku, the capital. In the face of this extremely fragile situation, Karabakh proclaimed its independence as an autonomous and majority Armenian region, but this was not recognized by Azerbaijan, and so war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which supported the independence of Karabakh. It resulted in the victory of Armenia and the declaration of independence of Karabakh, which was merely recognized by Armenia but which in practice meant the tacit annexation of Karabakh to Armenia.
You have spent three years living in Armenia. In Europe, this country is always remembered in connection with the genocide of 1915. Would you say that the genocide has left scars on the population?
The genocide has left many scars on the population, the greatest of them being the horrible sense of injustice, of suffering such an atrocity and at the same time one that is completely denied by its perpetrators. You can see the constant clamor for justice, in daily conversations and in the annual commemorations of the event.
How are Armenians affected by the present conflict?
The current conflict is affecting all Armenians and in many different ways, the first being the devastation of those families who have lost family members in the war or had them return mutilated. The poverty has been exacerbated, owing to the priority given to military expenditure and the number of refugees who have flooded in from Karabakh to many towns and cities. The local families are taking in relatives, friends, and others as best they can, and this, too, is adding to the suffering. And all this has come on top of the already existing unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic and above all due to the lack of the usual income from tourism.
I suppose the Catholic Church in Armenia, although very small, is also helping to tend the wounds caused by the war. How is it doing so?
The relationship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church is one of mutual respect and collaboration in areas of common interest. We are helping those affected by the war, first of all by visiting the families, praying with them, consoling them, but also helping them materially to the extent of our possibilities. We are doing so through the Legion of Mary and the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
What about the geopolitical dimensions of this war? Is there a religious dimension to this conflict, or is it purely a political one?
I think this war is exposing the hypocrisy of many governments, who, while promoting peace by their words, are selling arms. Moreover, it shows that they are far more interested in the petroleum and natural gas in these countries than in the lives of human beings. One can see a clear Islamic expansionism, supported by many states and by the desire to see the disappearance of ancient Christian populations in Asia, such as the Armenians.
Do the Armenians feel forgotten by the international community?
The Armenians feel forgotten and betrayed by the international community, which as always is more interested in geopolitical games than in truth, justice, and peace. But I’d like to conclude with a message of hope: The Armenian people have always come back again from the midst of indescribable calamities, and they have done so in peace, without vengeance or bitterness, simply demanding justice and always from the hand of the merciful love of Jesus and Mary. And they will do so again this time, and it will once again be an example to the world.
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The Catholic Church’s humanitarian arm will begin to rebuild homes and livelihood destroyed by the world’s most powerful typhoon this year, reported CBCP News.
Caritas Philippines said recovery efforts are underway in Catanduanes and Albay provinces that were hit hardest by super typhoon “Rolly” in early November.
According to Fr. Antonio Labiao, the agency’s executive director, one of the most immediate priorities is rebuilding or repairing homes for thousands of families.
He said a technical team is going back to Catanduanes this week “to signal the start of the early recovery program”.
“We call it the inception program, which includes shelter and livelihood projects,” Fr. Labiao said.
In Catanduanes alone, more than 37,200 houses were completely destroyed, with another 23,783 damaged, according to the government.
Fr. Labiao said that reestablishing a means of livelihood is an equally urgent task, with thousands of farmers and fishermen having lost their sources of income.
About 27,000-hectares of abaca plantation in the province were heavily damaged due to landslides and flooding.
According to the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority, this amounts to around P1.3 billion worth of damages to the abaca industry in Catanduanes.
Local officials said that around 13,000 abaca farmers will need to find other sources of livelihoods while trying to recover.
The coconut industry also sustained big losses because of the recent typhoon, and officials said at least three years is needed to revive the agriculture sector.
Several fishing boats were also damaged by the strong winds and storm surges that hit the coastlines.
Caritas has yet to announce the recovery and rehabilitation cost, but Fr. Labiao said the responses to their appeal were “very moving”.
Last week, Fr. Labiao and his team also made a solidarity visit to various communities in Isabela and Cagayan provinces affected by recent flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses.
An initial assessment made by the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao showed that more than 43,000 families have been evacuated at the height of the massive flooding.
Caritas and various dioceses have been mobilizing their resources to respond to the immediate needs of the affected communities.
Fr. Labiao said recovery works must start immediately in areas heavily affected by Ulysses.
By Gabriel Sales Triguero
The international event Economy of Francis having closed, in which over 2,000 young businessmen and economists took part, Zenit had the opportunity to talk with Diego Perez on his family’s participation in the events held from November 19-22, 2020.
The young Mexican family, of the diocese of Nezahualcoyoti, is made up of Diego, his wife Betty Garcia, and his three children: Emilio, Tayde and Regina. The interviewee was in charge of coordinating a Mexican villa and a Hub for the meeting.
Organization of the Event
Before understanding the work done by Diego for the Economy of Francis, it’s necessary to explain what a Hub is: it is an entrepreneurship center created to connect persons who, through workshops, chats and other activities, work in a team to generate synergies in order to project their results in a specific reality.
An International Committee organized the event that defined, first of all, the 12 themes to develop. Adapting for the situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided that the events should be virtual; therefore, the organization requested the formation of a sub-group of national advice that would organize the treatment of their topics.
With the mission to foster an adequate participation in the topics, the organizers of each country created villas for the specific diffusion of the Economy of Francis and also regional identity Hubs and their groups.
Preparation of the Hub
Diego Perez was the coordinator of the Energy and Poverty villa for the whole of Mexico and of a Hub in the ecclesiastical province of Tlalnepantla, which includes eight diocese as well as almost 50% of the state’s municipalities.
Seeking the greatest possible participation of people in the concrete realities of his region, the objective of Diego’s work was to start a real process of economic conversion. To this end, he said, “I got in touch with the Bishop, Monsignor Hector Luis Morales, and I explained the initiative to him, to which he responded favourably.”
“My wife Beatriz helped me in its diffusion and in adding important personalities of the Mexican and Latin American Church,” he continued, such as Rodrigo Guerra Lopez, Ph.D. in Philosophy; historian Maria Luisa Aspe; Archbishop Carlos Garfia, and writer and theologian Emilee Cuda. “We were able to organize with them a parallel program of conferences to respond to the international proposal of the Economy of Francis but with the local vision of Latin America and Mexico.”
From his Mexican Hub, made up of 33 people, Diego focused on three objectives: encounter and participation in the event, consolidation of a community to contribute stability to the solid construction of a regional structure, and the proposal and implementation of initiatives to generate a better economy from institutions and the State. This way responds, he said, to the method of seeing, judging and acting.
Management of the Villa
As coordinator at the national level of the Energy and Poverty Villa, I had the task to coordinate the relative topics, join efforts with other members of the Committee and seek investments for the need of clean energies and poverty that so afflicts our Mexico,” he explained.
He also said that the Villa had a “special task in the project of the Economy of Francis, because the pandemic has made the problem of poverty in our country more acute.” It’s true that Mexico has a “minimal business and entrepreneurship reality,” and the true reality is “more of workers, employees with low salaries, of the evil called informal commerce and especially of the excluded from the labor, financial and social security system,” he explained.
In Pope Francis’ words, “it is the poor and the excluded who are the real protagonists of this Pact for a more just economy and that it’s a great challenge to coordinate this villa,” he concluded.
Family Participation in the Meeting
All the Perez family was involved in the Economy of Francis, but the participation of Emilio, the eldest son, calls attention, as the only person younger than 18 (14) of all Latin America who intervened actively in the event. Initially, only his parents were going to go, but Betty was pregnant and couldn’t travel by plane, so finally, it was the son who went with Diego on this adventure.
“It has been a great experience. It was a joy to know that many adolescents of other nationalities would be representing Latin America,” he said. In this line, he points out that “as parents, this was providential, because we have always been in different areas of service in the Church, but for my son to have the opportunity to share this unique experience and at the same time advance in his Christian commitment in the social realm is an inestimable gift.”
Emilio’s participation consisted in “hearing talks, interacting one-to-one in conversations and intervening in the Hub program. “He was able to be part of it and add <his thoughts>.” His reaction to the news was very moving because since Emilio was small he has had formation in subjects related to the Church “ and vocational and pastoral movements.” “To know that he had been accepted made him enthusiastic, to be able to share with young people from all over and build a better world.”
Undoubtedly, however, “as a family, the most important participation was to support one another to attend the three days of the event with cooperation at home, at work and in tasks, to be able to be part, together, of this great experience, so that all the additional activities could flow adequately.” Although, “unfortunately,” the family couldn’t go to Assisi, prevented by COVID-19, ”next year we will participate, and especially Emilio,<who will be> more mature in age and have a different view of the scenario that the pandemic leaves in the subject of the economy.
Experience of the Meeting
Diego recounted how the Economy of Francis implied for them a “great experience in every human dimension.” It was “incredible to coordinate everything with people you didn’t know and that the intimacy of the participation, although virtual, during 12 hours a day, led us to create a united group committed to seek a more influential economy.
“The most concluding proof that the culture of encounter is fundamental is to see how we have met with unknowns, presenting ourselves as ‘we are,” and we have ended saying ‘we exist,’” he stressed.
He also said that the experience was good thanks to the talks of the expert speakers, which were “enriching in the intellectual <dimension> and in our realizing that changes in the social economy are not a utopia but a reality to which we must add ourselves and visualize, that it’s more important to act than to theorize.”
In the spiritual <dimension>, “encountering the figure of Saint Francis was providential,“ especially, “as reference of a new lifestyle that leads us to better economic practices and not so much of consumerism and the search for usefulness, but a true expression of integral humanism and of commitment to our common home.”
Vision of the Future
Making known the sensations that remain after the event, Diego said that he takes from the meeting “the hope that we can walk together and build a better future, and a humanity with hope, if kept alive in man, can achieve great things.”
However, he warns, “we will have to travel “a road full of challenges. As human beings we are exposed to great temptations; we will have to fight a very culturally rooted individualism, including in the youngest, given that we tend to form elite groups, and there will be a great temptation to look to the circles of power to carry out the proposals, given that the poor and excluded must be at the center, and never the throwaway culture or speedy results.”
He also recalled that, in face of this, the Pope has called on young people, “because of their capacity to dream, willingness to build a more just and more beautiful world,” and for “those of us more advanced in years, we share this dream and will accompany <young people> in the process so that the flame of hope is not extinguished in their hearts and that they attain the very yearned for celebration of universal fraternity.”
The Holy Father’s Attitude
Diego Perez believes that Pope Francis’ economic vision is “prophetic and is based on a perception of the realities of a world full of inequalities, but especially of the excluded, people that have been considered not apt for the economic model of some of the privileged.”
The Pontiff’s proposal, he clarified, is “to reflect on the question we must pose ourselves: “Is our heart a closed area in which no one can enter, which it closed in indifference, in comfort and that doesn’t let others enter?”
This is why Pope Francis did not want to “postpone any longer the Pact of Assisi, which commits us not to isolate ourselves from people’s suffering but to seek models that foster integral human development, aimed at the common good and at the service of human life in reciprocity with nature,” he added.
“Virus that comes from a Sick Economy”
Analyzing the words pronounced by the Bishop of Rome last August, Diego said that the Economy of Francis has invited all to reflect on “a sick economy by the virus of indifference that attempts against every form of life.”
Supporting this thesis, Diego gave the example that “not only is it for pro-life to be concerned about abortion but even more to understand that there are millions of children aborted annually and thousands that die of hunger every year,” and these deaths, “beyond the statistics, must make us indignant, as well as those caused by the phenomenon of abortion.”
“In the same way,” he argues, “education has become a bargaining chip and tool of exclusion. It’s only a few privileged ones that have the right to a quality education.” According to UNESCO, there are about 263 million unschooled children and young people in the world. “This is a reality that challenges us to keep alive the flame for the Global Educational Pact, and an educational transformation that will enable more children to have access to a quality education that gives them the possibility to develop integrally and guarantees fitting work, land and roof to every person in the world,” he concluded.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester
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Pope Francis on November 23, 2020, received a delegation from the National Basketball Players Association, the union representing players in the US-based professional basketball league. Players who attended were:
- Marco Belinelli, a shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs
- Sterling Brown, a shooting guard with the Milwaukee Bucks
- Kyle Korver, a shooting guard with the Milwaukee Bucks
- Jonathan Isaac, a power forward with the Orlando Magic
- Anthony Tolliver, a 13-year veteran power forward who is currently a free agent in the NBA
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In a statement from Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, he confirmed that on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, at 4 pm, the Ordinary Public Consistory, announced by Pope Francis, for the creation of 13 new cardinals will be celebrated.
He clarified that Cardinals-elect Cornelius Sim, Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, and Jose F. Advincula, Archbishop of Capiz, Philippines, will not be able to be present due to the contingent health situation, but still “will be created Cardinals in the Consistory.”
“A representative of the Holy Father, at another time to be determined, will give them the hat, the ring and the bull with the title,” he said.
“The members of the College of Cardinals unable to reach Rome,” the Vatican spokesman also clarified, “will be able to join the Celebration, participating remotely from their headquarters, through a digital platform that will allow them to connect with the Vatican Basilica.”
The program will be as follows:
On Saturday, November 28 at 4:00 pm, the Holy Father Francis will hold the Public Ordinary Consistory, at the Altar of the Chair in the Vatican Basilica, to create nine new Cardinals, for the imposition of the biretta, the delivery of the ring and the assignment of the Title or Diakonia.
On Sunday, November 29 at 10:00 am, the Holy Father Frances will celebrate Holy Mass at the Altar of the Chair in the Vatican Basilica.
Only the newly created Cardinals will be able to concelebrate with the Holy Father.
“In consideration of the health dispositions in force at present, given the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Vatican statements explained, “the usual courtesy visits will not take place.”
“The Consistory’s celebrations,” it added, “will not have the shape of the Papal Chapel” and “will have a very limited participation of the people (lay faithful, consecrated persons, presbyters and Bishops).” In this regard, it noted, the tickets issued by the Prefecture of the Papal Household, will be reserved only for those that will accompany the newly created Cardinals.
The Vatican explained how the Rite of the Consistory would be carried out, starting with the chair of the Holy Father being placed in front of the Altar, and the gathering place of the new Cardinals, being at the Altar of Saint Leo.
In the presbytery, the newly created Cardinals, it noted, are placed in two rows, on the sides of the Altar, to the right and left of the Holy Father. Together with their secretaries, and accompanied by the Masters of Ceremonies in charge, they go in procession to the presbytery, along the street on the side of the Chapel of Saint Joseph.
Some 100 faithful, accompanying the new cardinals, will take part in the celebration, in addition to the Cardinals of new and old creation. These faithful will take their place behind the Cardinals of old creation. Parish priests and rectors of the titular churches entrusted to the new cardinals by the Pope will also be present.
At the beginning of the celebration, the first of the new Cardinals, Cardinal Mario Grech, will greet the Holy Father.
While reminding the celebration will be carried out as usual, the Vatican did point out a change.
“Only the embrace of peace between the Cardinals,” they said, “is omitted.” Consequently, after the rite of creation, the new Cardinals return to their place in the presbytery.
For the rites of the imposition of the biretta, delivery of the ring and assignment of the Title, the newly created Cardinals come before the Holy Father, moving alternatively from left to right, looking at the Altar.
At the end of the celebration, the Holy Father — together with the new Cardinals and their secretaries –, will leave in procession passing by the Chapel of Saint Joseph, and returning to the sacristy.
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