ASIA/PAKISTAN - Archbishop Shaw: "A Ramadan of Dialogue and Peace"
24/06/2017

Lahore - "We lived an interreligious peace campaign during Ramadan, where we planted olive trees in front of Christian churches, mosques, madrassas, Catholic schools and Islamic institutes. It was a significant and visible initiative where Christian and Muslim religious people and leaders showed that they want to work together for coexistence and peace in Pakistan. We are happy that the holy month of Ramadan was characterized by this common effort and desire for peace", said Archbishop Sebastian Shaw, who is at the head of the archdiocese of Lahore and is president of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue and Ecumenism, within the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan. The Archbishop notes to Fides that "interreligious dialogue is a path that we will continue, despite the difficulties and the existence of radical or violent groups who intend to sow interreligious hatred".
At the end of Ramadan, the feast of Id-al Fitr will be characterized by convivial moments organized by Pakistani Islamic leaders, in the various dioceses of Pakistan, to which the Christians will participate, as a sign of solidarity, sharing and "good neighborhood".
Such meetings during Ramadan have represented the opportunity to show that "the Gospel teaches to respond to evil with good", notes the Archbishop, as evidenced by a recent episode: after the tragic death of Christian worker Irfan Masih , who died because a Muslim doctor refused to touch and take care of him and said that he was "impure", the association that brings together ecologist operators in Pakistan has organized an Iftar dinner in a church in Lahore, in a sign of friendship and solidarity with the Muslim faithful: "A sign to show the will to be in harmony, despite some painful and negative episodes", notes the Archbishop. "In the name of our brother Irfan Masih, we invite all religious communities to gather in the name of common humanity. We are men and women created by God in our beloved homeland. Our religions teach us to love. We walk together", said the Christian leaders, organizers of the event.
Similar initiatives were also held in the diocese of Faisalabad, where the Diocesan Commission for Interreligious Dialogue organized a "iftar dinner" in recent days hosting numerous Muslim religious leaders to strengthen the relations of peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians". On this occasion, Fr. Nisar Barkat read Pope Francis's wishes for Ramadan.
ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch: "sadness and concern" for the issue of Iraqi Christians whom the US government wants to expel
24/06/2017

Baghdad - The Chaldean Church closely follows, with sadness and concern, the developments in the judicial proceedings with which the United States of America is preparing to expel 114 Iraqis, largely Chaldean Christians, arrested and affected by the expulsion measure, due to new measures taken by Trump’s administration to counter migratory flows from Middle Eastern Countries, considered at risk of terrorist infiltration. In a letter sent to Chaldean Bishop Frank Kalabat, at the head of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Detroit, the Patriarch expresses solidarity and closeness to Iraqi families affected by expulsion orders and hopes that the US government finds adequate solutions to the humanitarian emergency caused by the expulsion measures, also directed against familes with young children, who live and work in the US. The Patriarch notes that many of the Iraqi refugees have lived in the US for a long time, and cannot be suspected of representing a danger to US national security. In the patriarchal letter, it also refers that the government of Baghdad has declared its impossibility to interfere with what represents a "sovereign decision" of another Country. The issue - the Patriarch adds in his letter - can still help everyone to understand the importance of having legal documents that guarantee their status from a legal point of view.
Iraqi Chaldean Christians affected by expulsion measures were arrested in Detroit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement policemen on June 12th. Most of them are men who have resided in the States for decades. The operation follows the agreement between the United States and Iraq, with which the government of Baghdad agreed to host a number of Iraqi citizens subjected to the expulsion measure, in order to be be removed from the blacklist of nations affected by the so-called " Muslim ban", the ban President Donald Trump wanted to prevent access to the US regarding citizens from six Countries with a Muslim majority considered as potential "exporters" of terrorists. Some of the Christians arrested had in the past had problems with justice, an element which according to the police would justify the decision to subject them to the measure of forced repatriation in Iraq. On Thursday, June 22, district court judge Mark Goldsmith suspended the expulsion proceedings for 14 days, during which he will have to decide whether his court has jurisdiction to rule on the whole affair.
AMERICA/ANTILLE - Appointment of the Bishop of St. George's in Grenada
24/06/2017

Vatican City – Today the Holy Father appointed Rev. Clyde Martin Harvey, of the clergy of Port of Spain, Parish priest and Episcopal Vicar of the clergy, as Bishop of the diocese of St. George's in Grenada.
Rev. Clyde Martin Harvey was born in Trinidad and Tobago in the Antilles on November 9, 1948. He attended primary and secondary schools in Belmont district. After discovering priesthood vocation, he followed the philosophical and theological formation course at the Regional Seminary of St. John Maria Vianney and Uganda Martyrs in Trinidad and Tobago. He was ordained a priest on June 27, 1976.
Since his priestly ordination he has served the following academic and pastoral roles: since 1976: Professor of Philosophy, Archdiocese of Port of Spain; 1976-1979: Formator and Vice-Rector of the Regional Seminary of St. John Maria Vianney and Uganda Martyrs; 1979-1985: Parish priest in Morvant and Laventille; 1985: Brief Specialization Course at Lancaster University, England; 1985-1988: Higher Studies at the Graduate School of Theology at the University of Berkeley, California; 1988-1996: Parish priest in Maloney; 1997-2007: Parish priest in San Fernando; 2007-2016: Parish priest at Gonzales and Holy Rosary; Since 2011: Episcopal Vicar for the Clergy.
St. George's Diocese, erected in 1956, covers the entire territory of Grenada and the Grenadines . It now has a population of 104,000, almost entirely of African-Caribbean ethnicity. 40,000 are Catholics , but they are declining. The Diocese is divided into 21 parishes, 5 of which are administered by a permanent Deacon or layman. There are 25 priests, 14 of whom are religious, 7 permanent deacons, 5 religious brothers and 34 religious sisters.
AFRICA/CENTRAL AFRICA - Violent clashes in Bria, in the east of the Country
24/06/2017

Bangui - "Unfortunately, the situation in Central Africa is deteriorating despite the peace agreements signed on June 19 in Rome", say Missionary sources to Agenzia Fides, from Bangui, the capital of the Central Africa Republic. "In Bangui, the situation is calm. What is causing concern are the clashes in other areas of the country. In particular in Bria, where 40 have died, maybe even 100".
Bria, in the east of the Country, is a strategic city for controlling the mining resources of the area, especially diamonds. According to agency news, clashes arise from an internal division of the Front Populaire for the Renaissance de la Centrafrique , one of the various armed groups born out of the former rebel Seleka alliance. However, FPRC denied that it had been implicated and accused the anti-balaka of attacking the city where several people sought shelter in the Catholic parish.
On 19 June, thanks to the mediation of Sant'Egidio Community, 13 Central African rebels and Bangui government signed an agreement for the immediate ceasefire. The UN Mission in Central Africa , which has deployed 10,000 men in the Country, cannot control the whole territory. MINUSCA is also plagued by scandals such as those of violence and sexual abuse by some of its members. All this has caused the local population to lose confidence in the "Blue Helmets", making the path to the Country's pacification more difficult.
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