AFRICA/NIGERIA - The Apostolic Vicariate of Bomadi erected to Diocese and appointment of the first Bishop
22/09/2017

Vatican City - Today, the Holy Father erected the Apostolic Vicariate of Bomadi to Diocese, with the same denomination and territorial configuration, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan seat of Benin City. The Pope appointed His Exc. Mgr. Hayacinth Oroko Egbebo, M.S.P, Vicar Apostolic of the same seat, as the first Bishop of the Diocese of Bomadi,.
The diocese of Bomadi covers an area of 13,140 sq. Km. It has a population of 2,994,321, of whom 37,682 Catholics. There are 24 parishes and 2 churches, 23 diocesan priests and 11 religious priests, 63 religious women and 51 major seminarians.
ASIA/JAPAN - Cardinal Filoni in Osaka: The Church is not a 'service agency'
22/09/2017

Osaka - The opportunity to recover momentum in the proclamation of the Gospel, in Japan and elsewhere, "does not rest in the methodologies put in place by ecclesial apparatus but in returning to experience Christ's charity". Only by re-drawing from this source that the people involved in the apostolic mission can escape the danger of falling back on their own activism, to the point of forgetting that their "primary mission, like that of Jesus, is to proclaim to the poor a message of grace and proclaim the liberation to mankind, victim of so much oppression". These are some of the cues of reflection that Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, wanted to suggest with the words first addressed to the bishops and then priests, religious men and women and lay Catholics of the region of Osaka, on the fifth day of his visit to Japan.
The Cardinal, who met the bishops of the region of Osaka in the early afternoon, recalled the danger of making the Church seem a 'service agency'. Church-inspired works in the field of education, social and health care in collaboration with civil authorities have been for decades "a concrete sign of encouragement and support for the entire Japanese people, who lived very difficult moments after the Second World War". But in the present situation - Cardinal Filoni noted - "we cannot ignore the risk that the apostolic personnel becomes a "bureaucrat" of the educational or social situation, supported by the Government, from the moment one risks falling into the dynamic of competitiveness". Not so often - recalled the Cardinal, offering a concrete picture of such possible involution "parish related activities, for example, the functioning of kindergartens and schools, or frequent meetings end up taking a lot of time, limiting that for pastoral care with regards to faith and the catechesis of the faithful". To put a stop on these drifts - Cardinal Filoni suggested - in some situations it is appropriate to "rethink our role in the various sectors of social service". And if the services that the Church makes in the various fields "are not adequate" said the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, "then the Bishops must have the courage to rethink how to give priority to this missionary purpose". Cardinal Filoni also encouraged the representatives of the Japanese episcopate to intensify the already initiated pastoral care of Catholic immigrants, that "will be able to integrate in culture and become a promising resource for the evangelization of this Earth".
On the afternoon of Thursday, September 21, during the meeting with priests, religious and lay people in the ecclesiastical region of Osaka, Cardinal Filoni reiterated the factors that can renew a genuine missionary impetus also in Japanese land, in the light of what is constantly suggested by the magisterium of Pope Francis. Japan - said the Prefect - "is not immune from the evils that afflict our century: secularization, religious indifference, ethical subjectivism, loss of the sense of the sacred, that afflict many ancient Western Christian communities". Four and a half centuries have passed since the Gospel was announced for the first time in the Japanese archipelago, and Christians account for a small percentage of the population, while most of the Japanese people still regard Christianity as an "unknown" element to their own culture. In the face of this situation - Cardinal Filoni added - one can think of finding shelter in a pastoral "of conservation", which focuses on the care of structures and the few faithful, perhaps by placing their trust in pastoral methodologies presented as more 'modern'. "Yet", noted the Prefect of Propaganda Fide, "the Pope has often repeated that the mission does not rest in the methodologies put in place by the ecclesial apparatus, but in returning to experience Christ's charity. The problem is faith; there is no intimate relationship with Him in prayer; when this is lacking the face of the Church is blurry, the mission loses strength and conversion goes backwards". Instead, in the current Japanese society, also marked by the solitude of the elders, the reduction of birth rate, the high rate of suicide, the Church can return to offer comforting words to all if it returns to propose the message of salvation in Christ. Cardinal Filoni proposed again in this regard the model of St. Theresa of Calcutta: "Do not worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person closest to you", said Mother Teresa. It is the same evangelistic way of Jesus: to announce the good news of the Kingdom of God by looking into the eyes of individual people, in parishes, as in hospitals, in schools, in workplaces or in the streets, anywhere".

Link correlati :Cardinal Filoni's speech to the Bishops of the region of Osaka Cardinal Filoni's speech to the priests and faithful of the region of Osaka
ASIA/INDIA - "Anti-conversion law" in Jharkhand: will give rise to violence and religious polarization
22/09/2017

Ranchi - "Anti-conversion" laws, which in fact are instruments to restrict religious freedom, continue to exacerbate and polarise Indian society: says Jesuit Fr. Michael Kerketta, Indian theologian and professor in Ranchi, capital of the Indian state of Jharkhand, northern India.
Jharkhand recently became the ninth state of India to approve and enforce an "anti-religious conversion" measure when its governor, Draupadi Murmu, signed a bill on September 5, "Freedom of Religion Bill" .
"The measure affects non-Hindu religious communities like Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and other local communities. It is our duty to denounce an injustice that violates the freedom of conscience and religion and is against the Constitution. This is why on Saturday, September 23, we will gather in a public meeting in Ranchi, as members of various religious communities, including the Hindus, to peacefully demonstrate our dissent", informs the Jesuit.
"The government of Jharkhand is in the hands of the Baratya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party that also governs the national executive, with Premier Narendra Modi. Hindu extremist groups in the state of Jharkhand are strong and have ample space in society. In past days anti-Christian demonstrations in Ranchi and violent militants shook the city. Some Christians are in prison for false accusations of having promoted conversions", notes Fr. Kerketta.
The Jesuit recalls and supports the open letter written in past days by Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the Indian Bishops' Conference to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in which the hatred and hostility campaign towards religious minorities, promoted by the First Minister of Jharkhand, Raghubar Das, and his executive are highlighted. "If it is not immediately brought under control, it could lead the state and its population to a path of violence and hatred", the Bishop warned. The letter recalls that "the Catholic Church strongly opposes forced conversions. But at the same time it affirms its right to preach, practice and spread the faith". Christians, though victims of violence, notes the letter, "will not respond with violence" but will continue to work for the poor and marginalized with "education, medical care and other social activities".
"There is no social or religious violence in Ranchi at the moment, but the social climate remains tense and as a minority community we are worried about the aggression of radical Hindu groups", concludes Fr. Kerketta
Since 2000, an “anti-conversion” legislation has been adopted by six Indian states: in Chhattisgarh in 2000; in Tamil Nadu in 2002 ; in Gujarat in 2003; and in Rajasthan in 2006 ; in Himachal Pradesh in 2007, Jharkhand in 2017. In the past, the first measures of this kind were adopted in Odisha in 1967, Madhya Pradesh in 1968 and Arunachal Pradesh in 1978 . Currently an anti-conversion law is therefore in force and is enforced in six states out of nine . In Gujarat, a written permit is required before an individual can convert to a new religious faith, while in other cases a "notification" is required to the civil authorities or the judiciary.
AMERICA/MEXICO - More than 200 dead after powerful earthquake hits Mexico, one word and a gesture among Christians: solidarity
22/09/2017

Puebla - Civil society organizations, solidarity groups, Catholic communities are contributing to promptly reporting the areas most affected by the violent earthquake that hit the country on 19 September and at the same time have mobilized to bring solidarity and the necessary assistance to victims and displaced persons. Until last night there were 43 dead in Puebla alone, 163 churches have suffered structural damage and 1,700 houses have been destroyed. These are figures released by the authorities of this area after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico, in particular Puebla.
At least 217 people have been killed, and the toll is still provisional.
The Mexican Church has mobilized to bring comfort to the victims and give them the necessary assistance. The Bishop of Puebla, Mgr. Felipe Pozos Lorenzini, yesterday celebrated a Mass for the 12 victims of the town of Atzala before their burial. In this community, the name of Arizbeth Escamilla will be remembered because he was only two months old and was the first to die buried under the rubble of the church roof of Santiago Apostol of Aztala, a 17th century church, about 170 km southeast of Mexico City, where he was supposed to be baptized. The local parish priest is
among the survivors of the tragedy that marked this community. Yesterday, during the general audience, the Pontiff addressed his thought to the Latin American Country shocked by the earthquake: "In this moment of pain I manifest my closeness to all the Mexican population", he said, inviting the present to raise a prayer to God "to welcome to his breast all those who have lost their lives, and comfort the wounded, their families and all victims".
The earthquake occurred after two weeks when the country was hit by its most powerful earthquake 8.2 magnitude, which left at least 98 people dead. The epicenter, this time, was recorded 12 km southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos, about 160 kilometers from the capital. It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City: from 3,200 as the official figure to some 10,000 according to other sources.
The Secretary of the Mexican Episcopal Conference , Mgr. Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, sent to Fides a statement by the Bishops of Mexico calling on "the people of God to join in solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are suffering from the various natural disasters that have hit our country. "Many religious institutions had recognized the effectiveness of the Caritas Mexican and Episcopal Conference's network of aid and solidarity, which worked at full speed to support the brothers who were affected by the earthquake of September 7, particularly in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. This network is revealing to be precious even in this new disaster.

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