AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Today national strike; violence in Cauca and Chocò does not stop

Cauca - The so-called "Paro Civico" takes place today, 21 November in Colombia: Colombian trade unions, natives, students and social sectors have called a day of protest. The national strike and the national citizen march want to show rejection on various issues on the government's agenda, such as labor reform, pension reform, the increase of energy rates, tax reductions for large multinationals, claiming the dignity of wages and the fight against corruption.
While government sectors point out that the reasons for the protest are based on false news, the organizers accuse the government of criminalizing the mobilization. Precisely because of this climate of tension that has been going on for a few weeks, the Colombian Episcopal Conference had proposed 6 themes for reflection . On Sunday, November 17, the Bishops also invited "all Catholics and people of good will to pray for our homeland", providing each parish with the text of a "Prayer for Colombia" to be recited at the conclusion of the prayer of the faithful.
The Colombian Catholic Church has argued in favor of peaceful protest and called for the construction of a reconciled and peaceful nation: "the path to overcoming social problems and for the integral development of our country, passes through listening and dialogue, with the participation of all the protagonists of society. The solution depends on everyone, it is necessary to build, without delay, a common project of country, a common house in peace", repeated several times Mgr. Elkin Fernando Álvarez Botero, Auxiliary Bishop of Medellín and General Secretary of the Episcopal Conference.
Unfortunately, there are still episodes of violence in different areas in Colombia. In less than 30 days there have been real massacres of indigenous people and the civilian population in the department of Cauca, which is still experiencing the tension of the drug trafficking wars of past years, without being able to verify whether they are now dissidents of FARC or new armed groups . However, the dispatch of 2,500 soldiers to the area was announced.
Diego Jaramillo, from Cauca's Human Rights Network, explained to the international press that they are worried about the consequences of the increase in the government's military presence: "The fear of the communities is that the military increase, as announced, radicalizes the reaction of armed organizations against the population". Then he added: "it has already been seen many times that the army enters the area without respecting the indigenous jurisdiction, nor the indigenous authority".
But the popular tension in this regard is not recorded only in Cauca, but also in Chocò, in the municipality of Bojayà, a very similar situation is experienced. "While these days the communities of Afro-Colombians and the indigenous communities in the municipality of Bojayá remembered those massacred on 2 May 2002, we come to know of new threats and displacements, imprisonments, massacres, torture, disappearances and blackmail" said Fr. Sterling Londoño, of the diocese of Quibdó.
Father Londoño said this presenting a letter signed by the diocese of Quibdó, together with the Inter-ethnic Solidarity Forum of Chocó, the Community Council of the integral peasant Association of Atrato, the Federation of Associations of the Indigenous Councils of Chocó and the Chocó Indigenous Office.
In this letter, the communities reported that after the peace agreement was signed in November 2016, the space left by FARC was occupied by the guerrilla war of the National Liberation Army , which "strengthened militarily and increased its attacks on the civilian population". This is why they asked President Duque to implement the Peace Agreements in a "timely and global manner, especially with regard to the ethnic chapter, and to provide constitutional guarantees to the Afro-Colombians and the indigenous people of Bojayá".
ASIA/PHILIPPINES - Proclaiming the Gospel in a "creative way" on social networks

Manila - Proclaiming the Gospel in a "creative way", also on social networks: is the appeal of Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, at the head of the diocese of Pasig, President of the Commission for social communications and mass media of the Church who invited the faithful to "spread the Good News with dynamism and new approaches". "The fundamental message of God's love must be communicated in a creative way, in a new way every day".
As Agenzia Fides learns, the Bishop spoke of "effective communication of the Gospel" during a gathering of all those who deal with Catholic social media, as an instrument of pastoral care. More than 200 delegates took part in the gathering, promoted by "YouthPinoy", an organization that calls itself "online missionaries", on November 16 in the city of Mandaluyong, near Manila, in collaboration with "Areopagus Communications Inc" and with the Media Commission of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.
The Bishop stressed that "it is urgent to communicate the central message of God's mercy and love. I think this is the first principle". "Presenting the central message of Jesus, his saving love, something we experience here and now, which is the paschal mystery: this is our task", he added.
The contact with all people - he recalled, echoing Pope Francis' message for this year's World Communications Day - must have the style of "a compassionate communion".
"That message makes it clear that the community of users in social networks should contribute to a fraternal and supportive human community, fleeing enmity and hostility", he concluded.
AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - The Christian community awaits the visit of Pope Francis to relaunch reconciliation

Juba - "I believe that the visit of Pope Francis to South Sudan will be a joint mission, a joint visit together with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland", says to Agenzia Fides, Mgr. Edwardo Hiiboro Kussala, Bishop of Tombura Yambo, after the announcement that Pope Francis made regarding his desire to travel to South Sudan in 2020.
According to Bishop Hiiboro, who until October was President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of South Sudan, the visit of Pope Francis and other Christian leaders will be "a special occasion because it will bring together all the Christian communities in the Country".
"In April, Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leader of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, met with our political leaders in the Vatican and promised to accompany the people of South Sudan until the nation achieved a lasting peace. The Holy Father has repeatedly expressed his desire to come to our country - highlights the Bishop - and this means that he really wants it. To welcome this desire, as a local Church and as a Country, we need an inclusive Church of the entire AMECEA region ", notes Mgr. Hiiboro.
On behalf of the Catholic Church in South Sudan, the Bishop thanked Pope Francis for being "father, pastor, leader and Vicar of Christ and being so close to the people of South Sudan. Our people have dispersed in conflicts, in the world of war, of division, of poverty".
At the end of the Angelus on 10 November 2019, Pope Francis expressed his desire to visit South Sudan. The date has not yet been defined. Francis, in his appeal for reconciliation, invited everyone to pray together with these words: "The South Sudanese people have suffered too much in recent years and look forward with great hope to a better future, especially the definitive end of conflicts and lasting peace", said Pope Bergoglio. "I therefore urge those responsible to continue, tirelessly, with their commitment to an inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the nation", he concluded.
AFRICA/BURKINA FASO - The Congress of Africa and Madagascar on Divine Mercy is "a blessing for the Country"

Ouagadougou - "Your Congress is a divine mercy for our time", said Siméon Sawadogo, Minister of Territorial Administration, Decentralization and Social Cohesion of Burkina Faso, who represents the Head of State at the 4th Congress of Africa and Madagascar on Divine Mercy held in Ouagadougou . The words of the Minister reflect the serious situation in which Burkina Faso lives, due to the action of jihadist groups that devastate large parts of the Country. Yesterday, the authorities announced the death of at least 18 jihadists, killed in the assault on a police post in the north of the Country.
The presence of 900 delegates at the Congress of Divine Mercy is felt as a testimony of the closeness of the universal Church to Burkina Faso. Delegates come from Burkina Faso, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, Belgium, Italy, Vatican and Poland.
Pope Francis appointed His Eminence Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, as his representative at the Congress. "Divine mercy refers to love, to peace", said the Cardinal, adding however that "we are prisoners of evil and the Word of God says that where sin abounds, grace abounds. This is why we say that the last word does not belong to evil, to death or to violence. The last word belongs to love, to life, to reconciliation and to forgiveness".
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