AFRICA/NIGER - The cross completed eliminated, symbol of the parish of Fr. Maccalli

Niamey - The cross, symbol of the parish of Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, the missionary of the Society of African Missions kidnapped in September 2018 has been completely eliminated. "According to the testimonies gathered, the iron cross was fixed in 1995, the year of the creation of the parish. This is the same place where Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli was kidnapped in September 2018. Taking him away was also taking away the cross from the territory of Bomoanga, lost in the border savannah, in the middle of nowhere", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Mauro Armanino, Fr. Macalli’s confrere.
"They went on pilgrimage on the hill above all to ask for rain in the hard times of the drought season. It rained heavily every time, before the prayer even ended. Even the Muslims of the village invited Christians, given the "empirical" efficacy of prayer, to go to the hill of the cross a couple of miles from the village. The cross, high and made of iron, was seen from the village, up to two weeks ago", said Fr. Armanino.
"On Friday, May 15 unknown men climbed on the hill and tore down the cross, solidly screwed to the concrete with rust-proof bolts. They eliminated the cross from its place and then placed it on a stone not far away", says the missionary. "It is believed that it ws carried out by those whom the press and people call the 'jihadists', armed and sometimes hooded, who terrify Christians and the people of the villages in the region". "At the beginning of the month - the missionary continues - they or other affiliates visited the village chief remembering the guiding commandments of their strategy: avoid reporting them to government forces, not cutting trees, avoiding alcohol and above all refusing everything that is not Islam". "These are the precepts that accompany them and which, thanks to the weapons and abandonment of the Defense and Security Forces, keep the local farmers and in particular the Christians in a constant state of fear. The latter, for some time now, no longer meet in the church that Pierluigi had built for them and with them. Fear pushes them to pray in houses and church doors are closed. The torn cross is then the symbol of what we try to tear at any cost from the heart of the people: the faith lived in the Gospel that liberates. The farmers are patient and know well that the cross is written on the earth and no one will be able to take it away anymore", concludes Fr. Armanino.
ASIA/LAOS - Zero deaths from Covid-19, but a negative impact on economy and tourism

Vientiane - In the small and isolated Laos, a country with seven million inhabitants in the northern heart of Southeast Asia and with a socialist type government, with a single party in power, coronavirus numbers are so low as to arouse amazement: on May 27 only 19 people Covid-19 cases were registered and zero reported deaths. Meanwhile, two of the five patients with Covid-19 at the Mittaphab hospital in Vientiane were negative to the test and, if negative for the second time, they will be able to return home. The "primacy" of Laos, shared in Asia only with East Timor, Turkmenistan, Cambodia and Vietnam is being observed despite the geographical proximity to China and the huge coming and going of Chinese labor in Laos: thousands of Chinese workers are busy building the high-speed rail linking the South of the People's Republic to Singapore. The journey, which takes days today, can be carried out in a few hours within a few years.
Although Laos reacted promptly and effectively by isolating the virus before it could affect the fragile national health system, its effects will still be felt in the socio-economic field: according to the World Bank's six-monthly-annual report, in fact, the economic growth in 2020 is expected will decrease by at least 1% or 1.8% in the worst case scenario, and the pandemic will increase the fiscal deficit, with an increase in debt. The shock will also have consequences on the labor market and poverty given the sharp drop in the tourism sector which represents 11% of total employment and 22% in urban areas.
Laos has achieved a number of ambitious development goals thanks to the market liberalization reform plan introduced in 1986. Poverty levels have halved from 46.0% in 1993 to 23.3%. 2013 and GDP growth has averaged 7.8% over the past decade, with marked improvements in education and health. In 2018 the results of this growth, mainly driven by natural resources, energy sectors and tourism, allowed Laos to move from a low-income to a medium-low country. In 2024 the nation may be formally removed from the list of "least developed" countries. However, it remains a country with profound difficulties in isolated geographical areas and in areas that are still in the grip of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. The socially most vulnerable segments, such as the elderly, women and children, pay for belonging to poor families in remote rural areas which is particularly true for families of Vietnamese origin or belonging to mountain tribes, ethnic differences that have created problems with the majority of Lao ethnicity.
ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Confirmation of the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies, Fr. Leopold Kropfreiter, SJM

Vatican City - On February 13, 2020 the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, confirmed Fr. Leopold Kropfreiter, SJM as National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Kazakhstan, for another five year period .
VATICAN - The Secretary General of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith: Pauline Jaricot, a lay woman with a heart turned towards evangelization

Vatican City - "The Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decree by which the Church recognizes the miracle attributed to the intercession of our beloved and venerable Foundress, Pauline Marie Jaricot. This news has filled my heart and the heart of all the members of the Pontifical Mission Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the whole family of the Pontifical Mission Societies with great joy and thanksgiving. Pauline was not only inspired to create a worldwide network of prayer and charity in support of the Church in mission lands, but she dedicated her entire life and family heritage to this blessed commitment. She was a woman of profound Christian faith and virtue, with a particular love for Eucharistic adoration and prayer of the Rosary": with these words Father Tadeusz J. Nowak, OMI, Secretary General of the Pontifical Mission Society of the Propagation of the Faith, comments to Fides the promulgation of the Decree recognizing the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Paoline Marie Jaricot .
The Secretary General continues: "During her life, she endured a lot of suffering, both physical and spiritual. However, despite all her trials, she remained firm in her dedication and perseverance for the work that is now a worldwide network in support of solicitude of the Holy Father for missions and young Churches in mission territories. She remained a lay woman dedicated to the service of Christ and His Church, deeply committed to the evangelization of the world. Now she will intercede for the whole Church, but she will certainly have a special place in her heart for all the members of the world network of prayer and charity that she founded: while the world is in crisis caused by the pandemic, there is great hope and joy in the certainty of the communion of saints. Our beloved foundress, Pauline, who will soon be proclaimed blessed, continues to guide the marvelous work of the Pontifical Missionary Societies for the spreading of the Good News in the world".
Pauline Maria Jaricot, Foundress of the "Council of the Propagation of the Faith" and of the "Living Rosary", was born on July 22, 1799 in Lyon and died there on January 9, 1862, in misery and general indifference. Benedict XV raised the Society she founded to "Pontifical" and moved its headquarters from Lyon to Rome. Pope John XXIII declared her venerable on January 25, 1963. On May 26, 2020 Pope Francis authorized the promulgation of the Decree concerning the miracle attributed to her intercession.
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