November 1, 2014

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SUDAN: Bishop Plea End to ‘Bombing Campaign’


KHARTOUM,OCTOBER,28, 2014 (CISA)– Bishop Emeritus Macram Max Gassis, of the diocese of El Obeid, Sudan, has appealed to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to end a months-long bombing campaign in the Nuba Mountains.

Bishop Max made the appeal on October 25 nine days after seven people, including six children, were killed and dozens more injured in a raid on a crowded market and a home in Heiban in South Kordofan state.

“The gun will solve no problem and violence generates violence,” he said in condemning the Sudanese government’s attacks in the region.

Reports from the region indicate that more than 800 bombs have been dropped in the Nuba Mountains this year, reported Catholic News Service (CNS).

The prelate further appealed to President Bashir and the government to negotiate a just and peaceful solution to any grievances in order to assure the dignity of the Nuba Mountain people.

“Such discussion should be honest, free of mental restriction, bearing in mind the rights of the population,” he said.

The bishop was particularly critical of the Heiban bombing, which occurred on a market day in which many people converge on the town’s central square.

According to the bishop, witnesses reported that three bombs were dropped on the market and another on the home about 200 feet away.

“Any upright and morally living person cannot accept such injustice which in the final analysis is a crime similar to the killing of Abel by his brother Cain,” the bishop said.


VATICAN: Pope Meets Uganda’s President Museveni


VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER, 28, 2014 (CISA) – Pope Francis received President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the Republic of Uganda in the Vatican apostolic palace on Tuesday October 28.

According to a statement by the Vatican, “certain aspects of life in the country and the good relations existing between the Holy See and the Republic of Uganda were highlighted” during the “cordial discussions” reported CNA.

“Particular reference” the statement added, was placed on the “fundamental contribution of the Catholic Church and her collaboration with institutions in the educational, social and healthcare sectors.”

The Vatican also said that the importance of “peaceful co-existence between the various social and religious components of the country was underlined,” and that mention was made of “various questions of an international nature, with special attention to the conflicts affecting certain areas of Africa.”

President Museveni on his part highlighted to worshippers the extent to which Christian organizations have contributed to the Uganda’s social, health and education sectors noting that Christians make up 86 percent of Uganda’s population.

The President was accompanied by the First Lady, Janet Museveni, ministers and other dignitaries.

While exchanging gifts, President Museveni gave Pope Francis a copy of a book entitled ‘Sowing the Mustard Seed’ and a portrait of Crested Crane, Uganda’s symbol. The Pope gave President Museveni a medal of St. Martin.

President Museveni said on Monday October 27 that Pope Francis had “expressed willingness” to visit Uganda on the 50th anniversary of the canonization.

During his visit to Rome, the Ugandan head of state visited the Uganda Martyrs’ Catholic church in the city, where he was shown relics from some of the martyrs who were canonised on October 18, 1964 by Pope Paul VI.


EGYPT: Religious Leaders Draft Bill on Construction of Churches


CAIRO, OCTOBER 28, 2014 (CISA)– Representatives of the major Churches and Christian communities in Egypt have prepared and sent a draft bill on the construction of churches to the Egyptian government.

It is expected that the draft law is discussed at a parliamentary level during the first session of the new parliament.

“In all probability we will have to wait until the next election (scheduled for 2015) and the establishment of the new Parliament to see whether a new legislation on the construction of buildings for Christian worship on Egyptian territory is discussed and adopted,” said Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh.

“The underlying intention that inspires our proposal is to facilitate the implementation of streamlined and clear procedures that depend only on the law, and are excluded from any kind of arbitrary act,” he added.

The draft law was delivered to Justice and National Reconciliation acting minister, Judge Ibrahim al-Heneidi, and shall be reviewed by the office of the ministry.

The bureaucratic constraints that complicate the construction of new churches date back in part to the Ottoman period.

In 1934, the Interior Ministry said the so-called “ten rules” prohibited, inter alia, to build new churches near schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas.

In many cases, the strict application of those rules prevented building churches in cities and towns inhabited by Christians, especially in rural areas of Upper Egypt.


NIGERIA: Church Decry Boko Haram Attacks


MAIDUGURI, OCTOBER 28, 2014((CISA)-The Catholic Church in Nigeria has said that over 90, 000 of its members remained displaced amid terror in the country.

“As a church we are really going through a severe moment of persecution. Our ecclesiastical circumscription has faced a sharp disintegration. For now situation is still as before, no improvement whatsoever since our people are still displaced and have no much hope of getting home,”    Fr Gideon Obasogie, Director of Catholic Social Communication Information of Maiduguri Diocese.

The church said 14 parishes had been ransacked while about 20 priests displaced and some members are still searching for their loved ones in both Maiduguri and Yola dioceses.

“A good number of those trapped around the Cameroonian borders are gradually finding their way into Maiduguri,” said Fr Obasogie in a press statement on October 27 adding. “A group from Pulka community alone buried over 80 children who fell ill in the bush and died.”

He disclosed the church had spent more than N3 million (USD 18,149) to cater for the needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at different locations in Maiduguri in Borno State.

The priest called on the people not to lose faith, but to use this moment of trial and persecution as golden opportunity to express abundantly the faith they profess.


EGYPT: Christians Feel Safer, Catholic Official says


CAIRO, OCTOBER, 24, 2014(CISA) – Christians in Egypt feel “much safer” under the presidency of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, much as problems still exist, a Catholic official has said.

“Christians feel a lot safer. They are going to church without feeling threatened as they did under President Morsi… In all, a more peaceful atmosphere is being created,” Fr Rafik Greiche, press officer for the Egyptian Bishops’ Conference, told Aid to the Church in October 21, CNA reported.

“The mood has improved considerably. The security situation is getting better. There is greater stability,” he added.

President Fattah played a key role in the coup that ousted Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.

“The number of acts of aggression has fallen to a low level, a minimum,” Fr Greiche explained adding. “Sometimes there are still inter-religious tensions in some villages… But the situation has nevertheless improved considerably.”

He added, though, “That does not mean that there are no incidents whatsoever. There continue to be Muslim-Christian difficulties of the kind we have been familiar with for more than 30 or 40 years.”

Fr Greiche said that el-Sisi has received representatives from the Orthodox and Catholics, as well as Protestants: “He told them that Christians have every right to have their churches and to pray.”

El-Sisi’s government is working with Christians “to prepare a law governing the construction of churches,” the priest said. “This is one of our most urgent problems here in Egypt – to – date it has been very difficult to build a new church.”

On July 3, 2013, Egypt’s military ousted Morsi, and in August began a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Violence then spread across the country, with Islamists killing hundreds of people from August to October. Churches were vandalized, burned, and looted, as were the homes and businesses belonging to Christians.