Friday, 30 January 2015

AFRICA/NIGER - Anti-Christian violence: the Bishops reaffirm their friendship with the Muslim community

January 27, 2015

Niamey (Agenzia Fides) - "We want to renew our friendship and brotherhood to the entire Muslim community in our Country", write the Bishops of Niger in a message to the Muslim community, sent to Agenzia Fides, after the anti-Christian violence that have heavily affected the Church in recent days (see Fides 21 and 22 January 2015). The Bishops thank the Muslims who showed “gestures and acts of solidarity" during the attacks against the Christian community.
                "We are united in the pain that you share with us. Our places of worship, and most of our infrastructure have been destroyed but our faith is intact", write the Bishops. "We will build again what our common enemies have deliberately aimed to destroy". state the Bishops. (Source: Agenzia Fides 27/01/2015)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

King Abdullah II of Jordan praises the Pope: religions must not be offended

Amman (Agenzia Fides) - The views expressed by Pope Francis during his recent visit to Asia on the need to reconcile freedom of expression and respect for religions and religious symbols were praised and supported by King Abdullah II of Jordan, during a meeting with the leaders of the Bedouin tribe of Beni Sakhr. According to Archbishop Maroun Lahham, Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem "King Abdullah made explicit reference to the words expressed by the Pope on the fact that freedom of expression is a right, and in some cases even a duty, but at the same time it has limits, and cannot offend the religious beliefs of others. The monarch defined these considerations positive". Focusing on the issue of Islamic extremism, King Abdullah reiterated that extremists do not represent true Islam and that the reputation of Muslims must be protected and defended. The monarch of the Hashemite Kingdom explained his participation in the march in Paris with the intention of showing his solidarity towards a Country, where also "six million Muslims" live. King Abdullah, speaking with the Bedouin chiefs, also warned of a growing Islamophobia in Europe, stressing the need to protect the image of moderation and tolerance of authentic Islam and to involve all the Muslim communities in the condemnation of extremist groups and terrorists who exploit the Koran. (Agenzia Fides 22/01/2015)

Friday, 23 January 2015

Pope Francis pleads for peace in Niger: You can't wage war in the name of God
January 21, 2015
During his weekly general audience, Pope Francis made a plea for peace in Niger.  After the recent publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, violent protests have erupted against Christians in the country. At least 10 people have been killed and 45 churches destroyed. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I would like for us to pray together, for the victims of the protests that erupted these last few days in Niger.  Children and churches have been targets of brutal acts of violence. Let's ask the Lord for the gift of reconciliation and peace, so that religion is never used for violence or destruction. One cannot wage war in the name of God. I hope that an atmosphere of respect is reestablished as soon as possible, including a peaceful coexistence for the good of everyone. Let's pray to Our Lady for the people of Niger. (source:

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Church without frontiers, Mother to all
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Jesus is “the evangelizer par excellence and the Gospel in person” (Evangelii Gaudium, 209). His solicitude, particularly for the most vulnerable and marginalized, invites all of us to care for the frailest and to recognize his suffering countenance, especially in the victims of new forms of poverty and slavery. The Lord says: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me” (Mt 25:35-36).
The mission of the Church, herself a pilgrim in the world and the Mother of all, is thus to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned; among these are certainly migrants and refugees, who are trying to escape difficult living conditions and dangers of every kind. For this reason, the theme for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: Church without frontiers, Mother to all.
The Church opens her arms to welcome all people, without distinction or limits, in order to proclaim that “God is love” (1 Jn4:8,16). After his death and resurrection, Jesus entrusted to the disciples the mission of being his witnesses and proclaiming the Gospel of joy and mercy. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples left the Upper Room with courage and enthusiasm; the strength of the Holy Spirit overcame their doubts and uncertainties and enabled all to understand the disciples’ preaching in their own language. From the beginning, the Church has been a mother with a heart open to the whole world, and has been without borders. This mission has continued for two thousand years.
The Church without frontiers, Mother to all, spreads throughout the world a culture of acceptance and solidarity, in which no one is seen as useless, out of place or disposable. When living out this motherhood effectively, the Christian community nourishes, guides and indicates the way, accompanying all with patience, and drawing close to them through prayer and works of mercy.
It is necessary to respond to the globalization of migration with the globalization of charity and cooperation, in such a way as to make the conditions of migrants more humane. At the same time, greater efforts are needed to guarantee the easing of conditions, often brought about by war or famine, which compel whole peoples to leave their native countries.
Solidarity with migrants and refugees must be accompanied by the courage and creativity necessary to develop, on a world-wide level, a more just and equitable financial and economic order, as well as an increasing commitment to peace, the indispensable condition for all authentic progress.

Dear migrants and refugees! You have a special place in the heart of the Church, and you help her to enlarge her heart and to manifest her motherhood towards the entire human family. Do not lose your faith and hope! Let us think of the Holy Family during the flight in Egypt: Just as the maternal heart of the Blessed Virgin and the kind heart of Saint Joseph kept alive the confidence that God would never abandon them, so in you may the same hope in the Lord never be wanting. I entrust you to their protection and I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Our Lady Mother of the Good Shepherd Cathedral, Djibouti
Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. – Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World), November 24, 2013.
Prayer is one of the important sources which can sustain and foster interreligious relations. On 10th January, 2015 in the Cathedral of Djibouti an interreligious prayer was organized, to remember the recent terror attack in France and other parts of the world.
A few prayer intentions:
1) God our Father, We pray for the victims of terrorist attack in Paris; we also remember and pray for the victims of terrorism in Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Nigeria, Iraq and other nations; give them eternal rest and console the members of their family. Let us pray.
Lord, have mercy on us (3)
2) Lord our God, give everyone the heart to respect and love his brothers and sisters that every nation flourishes in justice and peace. Let us pray.
3) Almighty Father, give us also the grace, to understand and respect that everyone has a right to think freely, everyone has a right to express one’s views without any compulsion and develop a sense of one human family with all the differences. Let us pray.
4) Most merciful God we thank you for the gift of creation in which everything has a purpose. Today we pray in a special way for men and women of good will, that enlightened by your Word, we may learn to live in harmony with each other despite our differences. Let us pray.
5) O God our creator, we pray for our world and in a particular way for people enslaved by prejudice and hatred: transform them and us into brothers and sisters, so that we may live in a reconciled world of justice and peace. Let us pray.
The congregation also prayed the ‘Peace Prayer of St Francis of Assisi’
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

"It is my ardent hope that Muslim and Christian religious leaders and teachers will present our two great religious communities as communities in respectful dialogue, never more as communities in conflict."- Pope John Paul II, Meeting with Muslim Leaders in Omayyad Great Mosque, Damascus, May 6, 2001.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

"More and more young Nigeriens are being enlisted in the Boko Haram movement, especially in the region of Diffa" - Mgr. Michel Cartatéguy, The Archbishop of Niamey, Niger

            Niamey - More and more young Nigeriens are being enlisted in the Boko Haram movement. The alarm was launched, in his message at the beginning of the year, by His Exc. Mgr. Michel Cartatéguy, Archbishop of Niamey, capital of Niger. In the document, sent to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Cartatéguy reports the statements made by MPs of the region of Diffa in the far east of Niger on the border with Nigeria: "The MPs said they are concerned about the growing number of young Nigeriens, boys and girls, who swell the ranks of the Boko Haram sect.

            "According to MP Nassirou - underlines Mgr. Cartatéguy - our young people of Diffa are recruited every day, and these young people know Diffa better than members of Boko Haram and can show them where they have to carry out attacks".
            A fact that cannot be excluded, since Boko Haram has conquered the multinational basis of Baga, on the Nigerian bank of Lake Chad. The base, which in theory housed the military of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon, could now be used by the Islamist sect to hit not only in the north-east of Nigeria, but also in neighboring Countries, causing an extension of the conflict on a regional scale. .
            According to reports by Mgr. Cartatéguy, the widespread view in Niger is that most of the young Nigeriens join the ranks of Boko Haram for economic reasons and not for religious reasons. The Archbishop also estimates that in the region of Diffa there are now 150,000 refugees from Nigeria and internally displaced persons, caused by the violence of Boko Haram. The situation is aggravated by the recent cholera epidemic that hit the refugees. "Despite the poverty of the region, the local population continues to welcome refugees with fraternity and hospitality" says Mgr. Cartatéguy, and concludes with regret that "the international press speaks very little of the situation in Diffa". (Agenzia Fides 07/01/2015)

Friday, 9 January 2015

French Muslim leaders meet with Pope Francis, condemn deadly Paris attacks
Four Muslim leaders from the Union of Mosques in France, met with Pope Francis on 8th January. They all condemned the deadly attacks that took place on Wednesday January 7th, where gunmen stormed the offices of the 'Charlie Hebdo' weekly satirical magazine. It's an attack presumed to be linked to the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad. For years, these Muslim leaders have worked with Catholics to promote inter-religious dialogue. French Bishops also have condemned the attacks describing them as 'horrible.' 
Holy See's statement on terrorist attack in Paris
The Holy Father expresses the strongest condemnation for the horrific attack that afflicted the city of Paris with a high number of victims, sowing death, throwing the entire French society into consternation, and deeply upsetting all peace loving people, well beyond the borders of France.
Pope Francis joins in prayers for the suffering of the wounded and the families of the deceased and calls upon all to oppose by all means the spread of hatred and all forms of violence, both physical and moral, which destroys human life, violates the dignity of the person, radically undermines the fundamental good of peaceful coexistence between individuals and peoples, despite differences of nationality, religion and culture.
Whatever the motives may be, homicidal violence is abhorrent, it is never justifiable, the life and dignity of all are guaranteed and protected firmly, any incitement to hatred should be refused, respect must be cultivated.

The Pope expresses his closeness, his spiritual solidarity and support for all those who, according to their different responsibilities, continue to work consistently for peace, justice and the law, to heal the deep sources and the causes of hatred, in this painful and tragic moment, in France and around the world marked by tensions and violence. (source:

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Pope Speaks:
 At the beginning of this New Year, which we welcome as God’s gracious gift to all humanity, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to every man and woman, to all the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious leaders.
 In the Book of Genesis (cf. 1:27-28), we read that God made man male and female, and blessed them so that they could increase and multiply. He made Adam and Eve parents who, in response to God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, brought about the first fraternity, that of Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were brothers because they came forth from the same womb. Consequently they had the same origin, nature and dignity as their parents, who were created in the image and likeness of God.
But fraternity also embraces variety and differences between brothers and sisters, even though they are linked by birth and are of the same nature and dignity. As brothers and sisters, therefore, all people are in relation with others, from whom they differ, but with whom they share the same origin, nature and dignity. In this way, fraternity constitutes the network of relations essential for the building of the human family created by God. 

Today, slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person which allows him or her to be treated as an object. Alongside this deeper cause – the rejection of another person’s humanity – there are other causes which help to explain contemporary forms of slavery. Among these, I think in the first place of poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion, especially when combined with a lack of access to education or scarce, even non-existent, employment opportunities. Further causes of slavery include armed conflicts, violence, criminal activity and terrorism.
In recent years, the Holy See, attentive to the pain of the victims of trafficking and the voice of the religious congregations which assist them on their path to freedom, has increased its appeals to the international community for cooperation and collaboration between different agencies in putting an end to this scourge.

We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Kenya - Anti-Christian attacks: Christian leaders urge the faithful to forgiveness

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "What would Christ have said if there were terror attacks during his time?" ask Christian leaders of Kenya in a joint message on the occasion of Christmas to the faithful still shaken by the attacks that have targeted faithful other than Muslim in northern Kenya (see Fides 24/11/2014 and 02/12/2014).
                "He would have said: do not revenge…vengeance does not belong to you. This is our Christmas message to you", the message continues. "Whenever you face violence, counter it with peace, whenever you face hatred, counter it with love, be your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – no matter what faith they profess".
                "May God’s love touch our hearts this Christmas season. May it help us to appreciate the value of every human person, irrespective of their religion, age, race or tribe", the message concludes. (Agenzia Fides 03/01/2015)