Friday, 29 May 2015

We Have to Fight Those Extremists Murdering People Under the Pretext of Religion - Dr. Ismail Omar Guelleh, Djibouti’s President

Djibouti's President Dr. Ismail Omar Guelleh said that the extremists use the religion erroneously and murder innocent people that everyone has to fight against them. In his opening remarks at the 3rd Forum of the East African Religious Leaders meeting in Djibouti on May 18, the president said that all people in the region should exert consolidated efforts to correct such wrong beliefs. The president also disclosed that Djibouti is ready to teach the right path of religion to every one in the region.
The conference is focusing on the role of Imam Shafe'i and strengthening the ritual unity and coexistence among people of the region, the president added. He also said that the world should unite for the thriving of peace.
Djibouti committed to hold such an annual meeting every year and let religious discuss so that there will be understanding among people in the region matters related to religion, he said.
Djibouti's Minister for Islamic Religion and Culture Mr. Aden Hassan Aden in his welcoming speech also said that Ethiopia received the first Islamic Hijra 'Immigrants' well during the reign of Negash. He added that now Djibouti is trying its best to be the center of pride and model not only for the region but also the world through  peaceful, coexistence and mutual understanding of religions. Minister Aden Hassan Aden described President Ismail Omar as a New Negash and a real leader who is paying all his efforts to make people live peacefully together.
Over 300 Ulema religious leaders from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Egypt and Turkey have participated in the conference. (Source:, 19/05/15)

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The evil of capital punishment

            "With the many countries that have abolished the death penalty as an extreme act of violence performed in the name of the people and with the teaching of the Catholic Church, we the bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands strongly oppose the use of the death penalty. It has no place in a Christian country where true justice and mercy should prevail. Where executions are performed by the State, the people develop the attitude that it is acceptable to respond to violence with violence. We pray that the rejection of this form of public violence will set an example and lead to a rejection of domestic violence and all other forms of violence in our society and open the way to a lasting peace", say the Bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in a new Pastoral Letter on the issue of the death penalty.
            In 1991 the Papua New Guinea Parliament reintroduced the death penalty. In 2013 the Criminal Code was changed to set out the acceptable ways to do it: to hang, suffocate, electrocute, shoot or poison someone with a deadly injection. The government argued that "this is the best way to protect society from the repetition of terrible crimes". 
            It is in response to this political legislation and this popular reaction that we, the bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, are addressing this letter in defence of life, highlighting several main reasons to say "no" to the death penalty.
            One reason given for punishing people is to help them change their behaviour, to rehabilitate them, to restore a just relationship with the others so that they can return to the community. The death penalty clearly does not do this. It kills them. Secondly, it "violates the sanctity and dignity of human life", which is "at the heart of the Gospel teaching". It is said that the death penalty will stop serious crime but it does not even pretend to correct the injustices in society that lead people to commit crimes. Finally, it "can lead to wrongful conviction and execution" in the case of judicial errors. The bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands strongly oppose the use of the death penalty. It has no place in a Christian country where true justice and mercy should prevail. (Agenzia Fides)

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The role of Caritas amid poverty and persecution

More than 300 people from all over the world traveled to Rome to take part in the general assembly of Caritas. It's the main charity arm of the Catholic Church and this meeting takes place every four years. 

Caritas International deals with all types of issues. From helping out with food and housing to education. Recently helping a growing number of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and victims of war is also on the list. 
GULZAR AMJAD, Caritas Pakistan
"I would say generally in Pakistan the situation is very bad, particularly with respect to the Christian minority; I would say that  the fear of the persecution and of discrimination that is being observed. Lately we have experienced in Pakistan two bombers who attacked the Church before Sunday Mass.”
ROSA INÉS FLORIANO, Caritas Colombia
"The meeting has highlighted a very important point about the identity, mission and the spirituality of Caritas. It's something we cannot lose sight of. At its very core, we have to have Jesus and His mercy. Our goal is to be God's caress to the poor and the most vulnerable.” 
Even non Catholic leaders like the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon submitted a message to show support. Throughout the five day meeting, delegates from different countries have shared their own experiences of working for Caritas out on the ground. The meeting started with a Papal Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on 12th May and ended on 17th May. (Source:

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Muslim leaders and Christians together for religious harmony in Youhanabad, Pakistan

            To re-create harmony, security and confidence among the Christians of Youhanabad, the district of Lahore hit by the two recent attacks on Christian churches: is the aim of the meeting organized in recent days by the "Council for Interreligious Dialogue" in Lahore and the "Interfaith conference of peace", both organizations present in the city, working for interreligious dialogue. As Fides learned, the coordinator of the Council, Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, together with Edward Qaisar, organizers of the meeting, brought together leading Muslim and Christian leaders, scholars, intellectuals, civil society representatives and local residents of Youhanabad.
            The participants discussed in depth the social and religious situation in Pakistan. All agreed that "there is an ongoing effort to increase conflicts and misunderstandings among Christian and Muslim citizens in the country", says Fr. Nadeem, who is the provincial superior of the Capuchin Friars of Pakistan. "The efforts carried out by forums and organizations like ours - he continues - have produced fruitful results and have been able to develop religious harmony in the country. We strongly condemned the acts of terrorism and the killing of innocent people in Pakistan and other countries of the Middle East". 
            The participants also lit candles as a symbol of peace, launching an appeal to the government and political leaders so that they adopt initiatives for harmonious and peaceful development in Pakistan. (Source: Agenzia Fides)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Chaldean Patriarch opens discussion on the draft Constitution for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region

            In view of the parliamentary debate on the adoption of the Constitution of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I intends to open a free and serene debate on the formulas which in the constitutional text will indicate members of the various Christian communities as full citizens, with the same rights and duties enjoyed by other members of the local people. The Chaldean patriarch - said in a note sent to Agenzia Fides - is planning to discuss this topic with other primates of the Eastern Churches, such as the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syrian Orthodox Church and the Syrian Catholic Church.
The draft constitutional bill, which will be submitted shortly to the regional parliament for approval, states that the citizens of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region is composed of "Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Armenians and others". The Patriarch in his message, published on the website of the Chaldean Patriarchate, has raised the question whether this formula ends up identifying the local Christian communities exclusively with ethnically defined groups.
            Already in the past, the Chaldean Patriarch had invoked the danger of reducing the belonging of the various Christian churches as a mere "religious" corollary of ethnic and national identity. According to the Primate of the Chaldean Church, in the current phase of history, Christians are likely to be infected with the sectarianism that poisons the coexistence between the peoples of the Middle East: "Now, unfortunately", said Patriarch Louis Raphael I in an interview with Agency Fides "you hear someone who says: I am more Armenian than Christian, more Assyrian than Christian" (see Fides 06/02/2013). 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Imams and priests promote the "culture of encounter" preaching together in schools in Minya

            The collective "mission" of a large group of imam linked to al Azhar – the biggest theological center of Sunni Islam - and Coptic priests, who for a few days together visited the schools in the Egyptian province of Minya to meet the students and promote the culture of encounter and of peace during conferences and debates, enhancing it as the basis of peaceful social and religious coexistence.                                                                              The initiative, supported by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb and Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, aims to strengthen the fabric of national solidarity and to promote mutual tolerance based on shared values, starting with compassion and solidarity towards fellow citizens in need. "The meetings in schools - says to Agenzia Fides Anba Botros Fahim Awad Hanna, Coptic Catholic Archbishop of Minya - was held under the auspices of the "House of the Egyptian family", the inter-religious body created years ago by the Great Imam of Al Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch and revitalized in recent times as a tool to prevent and mitigate sectarian conflicts, in a time when the upsurge of sectarianism fundamentalist seemed to endanger national unity; there are 40 Imams and priests, and all serve for unity and peace. A similar initiative already took place a few weeks ago in some schools in Cairo". The program gradually involves schools in other areas of the Country affected – such as the province of Minya - by sectarian conflicts. (Agenzia Fides)

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Muslims collect money to build a church in the Egyptian province of Al Manufiyya

            A Coptic church will rise thanks to monetary donations from Muslims in the Governorate of Al Manufiyya, located in the north of Cairo, in the region of the Nile Delta. This is reported by Coptic sources. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the concrete solidarity manifested by Muslim believers is also considered as a result of the wave of emotion registered in the Country after the massacre of Copts in Libya committed by jihadists affiliated to the Islamic State.
            When Coptic Orthodox Bishop Benyamin opened the collection of donations intended for the church, the suggestion of some leading Muslim members in the area to offer a contribution, was taken seriously especially by young people and children. Bishop Benyamin stressed that the initiative developed in the Governorate is a message addressed to the whole world.
Analysts and commentators have called for the recurrence of similar initiatives in other areas of the country.
            The Governorate of Al Manufiyya is also known for being the birthplace of Egyptian Presidents Anwar Sadat (killed in 1981 in an attack attributed to the group of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad) and Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to resign due to the riots in February 2011. (Agenzia Fides)