ASIA/KAZAKHSTAN - Nazarbayev resigns: "Religious freedom one of his flagships"

Astana - "I do not believe that the sudden resignation of Nursultan Nazarbayev can bring great upheaval in the situation of religious freedom in Kazakhstan: outgoing president considered the freedom of churches and religions as one of his flagships. It is, however, a freedom of worship placed under strict control, for fear of the growth of Islamic fundamentalist groups. Probably, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nazarbayev's successor will continue on the same path: I do not believe that religious politics changes because the new leader is of Chinese formation and the Chinese approach is that of a control of religions ". This is what Fr. Edoardo Canetta, a missionary in Kazakhstan in the role of priest and university professor for 20 years, now a professor at the Ambrosiana Academy in Milan, commenting on the sudden resignation of the role of President of Kazakhstan by Nursultan Nazarbayev, at the head of the country since 1990.
"Takaev studied in Beijing. I got to know him personally and I consider him a very skilled person. He was deeply hurt in 2001, following the attack of the Twin Towers, because, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, he had opened a dialogue with the Taliban, who at the time ruled Afghanistan, starting negotiations for their diplomatic recognition. This choice cost him a price after the attack", recalls Fr. Canetta, who adds: "I always thought that Takaev could be the new leader of the country, because on the one hand he is a president's man; on the other he has his own visibility: he is the person who signed a very important and famous treaty for the Kazakhs, that of the borders with China".
Speaking of the outgoing leader, Fr. Canetta notes: "On Nazarbayev, I can say that he made this intelligent choice on the basis of what happened in Uzbekistan: when Karimov died, his family was impeached. The problem is that at the moment in Kazakhstan there continues to be no real opposition in the government", says Fr. Canetta.
Meanwhile, while the Kazakh parliament has approved the change of the capital's name from Astana to Nursultan, in honor of the outgoing president, the country is going through a phase of economic crisis due to the fall in oil prices.
In Kazakhstan there are many communities of different nationalities and religious denominations: according to official data provided by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, out of 17 million inhabitants, 70% are Muslims, about 26% are Christians, 1% of whom belong to the Catholic faith.

AMERICA/COLOMBIA - Demonstrations to respect the terms of 2016 peace agreements, the country is divided, violence continues

Bogotà - Thousands of people took to the streets in several cities of Colombia, on March 18 and 19, to demonstrate in favor of the "Special Justice for Peace" , asking President Iván Duque to respect the terms of the agreement signed in 2016 between the then president Juan Manuel Santos and FARC . Duque calls for the law applied by the JEP to include severe prison sentences and compensation for victims of war crimes and human rights violations, which was not foreseen in the original agreement, following which some 13,000 FARC members had abandoned weapons and formed a political party. However, President Duque does not have a solid majority in the Senate or the House of Representatives, so his intention to change the agreement, one of the main issues of the election campaign, could be rejected.
Colombia is still divided among those who approve the entry of FARC as a political group, after the signing of the peace agreement, and the more conservative sectors, which instead demand the detention of former combatants, for participating in the violent confrontation that caused the death of 260,000 people in over 50 years.
While in the capital the main topic of discussion is this, in other places in Colombia the violence of armed groups continues, to the point of forcing Archbishop César Alcides Balbín Tamayo, Bishop of the Diocese of Caldas en Antioquia, to order the immediate transfer of a priest, Fr Raúl Mejía Valencia, of the parish of San Antonio de Padua, in the municipality of Armenia Mantequilla. In the statement of the diocese sent to Fides, it is confirmed that the threats to the priest were also verified by the local authorities. Mgr. Balbín Tamayo "condemns the threats against life, integrity and property, not only of the priest, but of all the inhabitants of that area of Antioquia, who live under this scourge". The statement ends with the request to the authorities for an effective presence in this area.
In 2016, under the terms of the peace agreement, some 13,000 members of the rebel group, including nearly 7,000 ex-FARC fighters, abandoned their arms and started a political party as part of their reintegration into society.

AFRICA/NIGERIA - Found dead body of a priest kidnapped a week ago; the bishop denounces the lack of interest on behalf of the police

Abuja - Reverend Father Clement Rapuluchukwu Ugwu, the Catholic Priest of St. Mark Catholic Church, Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State was found dead yesterday, March, 20. He was reportedly abducted on March 13, 2019, in his parish. It was gathered that the gunmen suspected to be kidnappers, had shot him before they took him away.
His Exc. Mgr. Callistus Onaga, Bishop of Enugu, decried the spate of violent killings around the country, advising that Christians should intensify their prayers for the survival of the Country.
Mgr. Onaga regretted that security agencies could not rescue Fr. Ugwu despite their assurances that they were closing on the kidnappers, while the abductors were making withdrawals from his account through his Automated Teller Machine card.
"We reported it to the police and since then I have visited police station three times, yet they kept telling me ‘we are closing in on the kidnappers’. I doubt they were doing anything because where the deceased body of Father Ugwu was found is not up to 20 kilometres from his house", denounced Mgr. Onaga.

AFRICA/CAMEROON - Central African Capuchin father assassinated in Chad

Yaoundé - Capuchin Father Toussaint Zoumalde was killed in Ngaoundere, Cameroon as he was returning to his Baibokoum fraternity in Chad. According to a statement sent to Agenzia Fides by the General Custody of the Capuchins for Chad and the Central African Republic, Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé had gone to the diocese of Bouar, in the western part of Central Africa, from which he hails in order to conduct training for local priests. In the night between 19 and 20 March unknown people attacked him and killed him in Ngaoundéré where he stopped to rest. At the moment his killers are nowhere to be found.
Fr. Toussaint had worked extensively as a journalist for Radio Siriri, of the diocese of Bouar, and composed several religious songs.
The tragic death of Fr. Toussaint Zoumaldé took place at the same time of the discovery of the body of Don Clement Rapuluchukwu Ugwu, a Nigerian priest kidnapped a week ago in the State of Enugu, and of the disappearance in Burkina Faso of Fr. Joël Yougbaré, parish priest of Djibo .

Useful links
First name*
Last name*
Official Email*
Personal Email
Postal Code


...the heart of missionary action
and cooperation
... Promotes the spread of the Gospel at the service
of the Kingdom of God throughout the whole world
...collaborates in encouraging the growth of Young Churches
by helping to build and support seminaries and by assisting
in the formation of indigenous candidates for ordained ministry and consecrated life
...Helps to promote a missionary spirit in children and encourages
them to support children their own age throughout the world
through prayer and sacrifice
... An association of Priests, Religious, and Laity dedicated
to awakening in all the baptized a passion for Mission
and encouraging Christian communities to actively cooperate
and participate in the task of evangelization
The Propagation of the Faith's commitment is to arouse in the people of God an authentically universal spirit in order to make grow in the local Churches a missionary awareness in accordance with the Church's natural outreach.
The Society of Saint Peter collaborates in the growth of the young churches through financial support for building new seminaries and formation programs for the new local priests, religious and sisters.
POSI in brief, the Society of Missionary Childhood or of the Holy Childhood, leads children to discover the missionary spirit and teaches them to help children of their same age around the world through prayer and small material sacrifices.
The Missionary Union, the soul of the other Mission Societies, is an association of the clergy, men and women religious and laypersons which proposes to arouse the passion for the mission in the Church, contribute to missionary formation, and encourage the Christian communities to cooperate and take active part in evangelization.

At the service of the Central Government of the Pontifical Mission Societies, there is one common Administration Office for the administrative and financial aspects of the service that the four International Secretariats give to the Pontifical Mission Societies in the world. (Statute, art. 46)

International Secretariates