Sunday, 22 February 2015

Massacre of Copts: now, whoever funds these jihadists must be made to beg for pardon - Hassan Rohani, Iran President

The Islamic Republic of Iran “strongly condemns” the “inhuman and savage" murder of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya by jihadists affiliated with the so-called Islamic State (IS). The outrage and disgust of the entire Iranian nation for the massacre documented by the video shown on jihadist web sites, was voiced by the President, Mr Hassan Rohani, speaking on 17th February during a meeting convoked in Teheran by the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution. 
            In his address, the Iranian leader expressed his sympathy with the families of the victims and added forceful remarks regarding the responsibility of those who support and fund jihadist groups and such bloodthirsty ferocity. "Regrettably - President Rohani said – these acts are perpetrated in the name of Islam and Muslims, but the inhuman terroristic deeds committed by these killers are contrary to Islam”.

            Iran’s Foreign Ministry had already condemned the massacre on Monday, stressing the need for vigilance and united action against terrorist strategies and factors which feed extremism. Also the Iranian legislature made a statement condemning the brutal killing in Libya, “the US and western governments and the regional sheikhdoms … which have created and strengthened the killer group should account for such a genocide”, read the statement issued by the cleric members of Teheran’s parliamentary assembly insisting that “international human rights organizations must launch an investigation with regard to those governments which have played a role in the creation of these terrorists” and then take proper action against them. (Source: Agenzia Fides 18/2/21015).

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lenten Message 2015 - Pope Francis
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
            Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a "time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. "We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. 
Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure … Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.
When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians.
Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. 
The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded. God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.
 1. "If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26)
2. "Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9)
3. "Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8)

As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas  Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

CENTRAL AFRICA - "The conflict is political not religious"

Bangui (Agenzia Fides) - "If you see us together, it means that religious coexistence among Central Africans is possible. The conflict in our Country is not religious, but is the result of political manipulation which exploits religion", say to Agenzia Fides, the three collaborators of religious leaders (the Archbishop of Bangui Mgr. Nzapalainga, the imam Kobin Layana and pastor Nguerekoyame Gbangou) founders of the interreligious Platform for peace in the Central African Republic (see Fides 20/11/2014), who took part, in Rome, in a formation course to support peace and coexistence of religious communities organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio.
            "Unfortunately, there are several people in Central Africa that are not fully aware of this situation, and enrolled in the various militias that fight thinking of defending their communities", say members of the religious platform for peace. "Our religious leaders have agreed to defuse this spiral that manipulates religion for political purposes. We must be the first Central Africans to say 'no' to this crisis, trying to resolve it with international help".
            The collaborators of the three religious leaders describe some concrete examples of aid among the different communities. In Bangui, for example, in a neighborhood with a Muslim majority, several Christians were protected by Muslims from violence or protected their homes while Christians fled, just like Muslim citizens were protected by Christians. (Source: Agenzia Fides 08/02/2015)

Friday, 13 February 2015

Interfaith harmony, a journey towards peace in the world

Zamboanga (Agenzia Fides) - World interfaith harmony week, announced by the UN and scheduled in the first week of February each year, is being celebrated with various initiatives: Muslim-Christian dialogue and with the participation of institutions, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
                As reported to Fides by "Silsilah" interfaith forum, in one of the events held in Zamboanga, in the presence of 300 faithful Christians and Muslims, His Exc. Mgr. Pablo Virgilio S. David, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, defined interfaith harmony "a journey towards peace in the world" by using, to define the concept of harmony, the language of music, alluding to the "mixture of notes".
                The Bishop said that "interfaith harmony is built when the encounter between people of different religions becomes a meeting of faith, hope and love". "Where and when interfaith dialogue is carried out, we celebrate a journey towards peace in the world", he said. "No matter how far you go and how long it takes, the important thing is to begin the first steps".
                According to the Bishop, good relations between religions "are expressed and advocated in the various Scriptures considered sacred by  Jews, Christians, Muslims and other religions". And "all religions appreciate values such as faith, hope and love". Mgr. David then recalled that "the 'neighbor', as stated in the Bible and in the Qur'an, is the one who shows mercy and compassion for those in need". (Agenzia Fides 05/02/2015)

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Malnutrition and armed conflicts threaten the lives of thousands of children in Somalia

Mogadishu (Agenzia Fides) - More than 38 000 Somali children are at serious risk of starvation in the Country which continues to be battered by war. Statistics, based on the latest UN figures, reveals that after three years of severe drought and armed conflict, more than a quarter of a million of the population have died due to the consequences of famine in the Horn of Africa.
In total, more than 731 000 people, including 203 000 severely malnourished children, live in conditions of acute food insecurity, according to a joint study carried out by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the United Nations (FSNAU) and the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET). 
Approximately 202,600 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, including 38,200 who are severely malnourished and face a high risk of morbidity and death. Malnutrition rates remain consistently high and the prospects for 2015 are worrying. More than 250 000 people, half of them children, have died because of the devastating famine in 2011. (Agenzia Fides 31/01/2015)

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Christian-Muslim dialogue: Saying 'yes' to everything is a way of deceiving – Pope Francis
When it comes to dialogue between Christians and Muslims, there are still challenges that need to be overcome. Progress has been made said the Pope, but more work needs get done. This was the Pope's message as he addressed the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies on 24th January, 2015. The meeting was a way to promote dialogue between both faiths. 

"We must try to avoid conciliatory connections that are empty. We must avoid the comfortable approach of saying yes to everything, to merely avoid confrontation. This is just a way of deceiving one another.”
The Pope also stressed that peaceful coexistence takes for granted understanding the differences of each group. He explained: that is one of the main reasons why experts on Islam are so needed.  "Because of this, there's a great need for a complete formation so that, firm in our identity, we can grow in our mutual understanding.” As he concluded, the Pope added that the best way to counter-act violence and hate is through education and respect. (Source: