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1 July 2019 - The Extraordinary Missionary Month, which will be celebrated in October 2019, will be preceded by the celebration of the Jubilee of the Bishops' Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), born in 1969: "It is a special occasion to resound once again the prophetic appeal that Pope Paul VI addressed to Africans in Kampala in July 1969: Africans should be missionaries towards themselves", explains the Ivorian theologian, Father Donald Zagore, of the Society for African Missions, to Agenzia Fides.

"If in the past thousands of Europeans came to Africa to evangelize - continues the missionary - today the Africans themselves should take on the responsibility of evangelizing the African continent. Africans have increased, the Church of Africa is now mature. Nobody, in the name of the mission, it will be able to speak and act for the Africans better than themselves".

"We have the duty and the task to carry on our shoulders the evangelical destiny of our continent. In fact, if in the past, in July 1969, this responsibility was presented to us by Pope Paul VI in the form of an appeal, today for us Africans it is an essential requirement. Yesterday's exhortation has become a requirement for today", emphasizes Zagore.

"The fundamental missionary conscience, at all levels, remains essential to give a completely different dynamic to missionary activity in Africa", explains Fr. Donald. And he concludes: "50 years later, we can say that the time of succession has really arrived. May this reality be concretized by a prophetic missionary commitment of the Christians of Africa". (DZ/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 1/7/2019)

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5 June 2019 - "One of the great existential orientations of our world today is to want to 'anesthetize' everything. Many Christians in Africa dream of a peaceful life, devoid of all suffering and sacrifices. In practice, we dream of a Christianity insensitive to pain", explains Father Donald Zagore, Ivorian theologian of the Society for African Missions (SMA). "We dream of a human life without affliction, pain and suffering. This existential approach, purified from all anxieties and penances, also takes shape in the reality of religious experience.

And yet - continues Zagore - living an anesthetized Christianity leads the individual to become a prisoner of an illusory reality. It is a true spiritual mirage. What the African Church has to show is that there is no true Christianity without the strength and power of the cross, the way to redemption".

The missionary continues: "All of Christ's missionary activity, as the Gospels emphasize, from which the Church's missionary activity flows, embraces the cross. In suffering, in pain, in tears, in disappointments, in misunderstandings, in contradictions the power of the Gospel of Christ is manifested. This is the existential reality of faith and missionary activity to which every Christian, a missionary since baptism, cannot escape. Since there is no missionary activity without a cross, there is no Christian mission without a cross".

Fr. Zagore concludes: "Anesthetized Christianity that is sold off in the streets, in Africa and other parts of the world, and attracts the masses, does not come from Jesus Christ, but rather from a purely human enterprise, built in an essentially economic dynamic that wants to be a 'market product' to meet consumer demand. For this reason anesthetized Christianity can in no way lead to authentic and prophetic faith and missionary activity". (DZ/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 4/6/2019)

 

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17 April 2019 - “South Sudanese were left positively stunned as they witnessed Papa Francesco plead on his knees and kiss the feet of politicians of South Sudan. The video and images of the event are circulating television networks, social media and mobile devices of the general public” says Agenzia Fides Sister Elena Balatti, a Combonian missionary, who is in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Yesterday, 11 April, at the conclusion of the South Sudan political leaders’ spiritual retreat, lead by Domus Sanctae Marthae in Vatican City , Papa Francesco kneeled before them imploring consideration for the future of the new State, to be established 12 May, while kissing the feet of President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardi, and of the Vice Presidents elected, among whom Reik Machar and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior.

“The people recognize and immensely appreciate the efforts of the Holy Father, the Bishop and the local Church for everything that they are doing to promote peace in South Sudan” says Sister Elena Balatti. “We were all moved by the Pope’s insistence in reminding the politicians of their duty to the people that are suffering dearly, that have experienced numerous losses, without mentioning those who have had to leave the country. This was the meaning behind the kneeling, he did it in the name of the people of South Sudan. It is a gesture much appreciated by the people here in South Sudan” concludes the missionary (LM) (Agenzia Fides 12/4/2019)

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1° febbraio 2019 - “Oggi in Africa, di fronte al fallimento della politica, si fa sempre più pressante l’esigenza di un intervento della Chiesa per ristabilire pace e riconciliazione. Nella maggior parte dei paesi africani, dove sono in corso processi elettorali spesso intrisi di tensioni che portano a crisi politiche, il dibattito sull'impegno socio-politico della Chiesa d'Africa è in grande ripresa. Molti ritengono che la Chiesa sia chiamata a svolgere un preciso impegno socio-politico”, lo afferma a Fides padre Donald Zagore, missionario e teologo della Società per le Missioni Africane (SMA), alla luce dei recenti avvenimenti sociali e politici in corso in paesi come Togo e RD Congo.

Si chiede il missionario: “Fino a dove la Chiesa africana può interagire? Che ruolo deve giocare concretamente? L’impegno socio-politico della Chiesa d'Africa è talvolta messo in discussione dall'intransigenza e dalla malafede della politica africana. Tuttavia, la Chiesa non deve perdere di vista l'essenza della sua lotta che consiste fondamentalmente in una dinamica profetica che indica la strada da seguire e sostiene costantemente la speranza dei popoli”.

P. Zagore conclude: “Difendere la verità e la giustizia è un atto divino. Il rischio che si annida continuamente nella Chiesa d'Africa è quello di trasformarsi, in nome della verità o della giustizia, in un potere che potrebbe perfino essere strumento di oppressione. La missione della Chiesa in questa prospettiva è certamente molto delicata: deve promuovere la verità ma sempre andando avanti nel dialogo, per la pace e l'unità dei popoli”. (DZ/AP) (1/2/2019 Agenzia

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Tuesday, 22 January 2019 22:56

ITALY "An adventure of solidarity"

22 January 2019 - Fifty years ago, in 1969, ACSE, Comboni Association Service for Migrants and Refugees, was born in Rome thanks to Father Renato Bresciani, a Comboni missionary who had worked in South Sudan where he was expelled. According to information sent to Agenzia Fides, the Comboni Missionary and lay people association at the beginning carried out activities especially for Sudanese students, later it became a service for migrants and refugees from all over the world.

Father Bresciani involved religious institutes, the local Church and also the political world in this service, with some good results. Later Caritas, the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Astalli Center were born in Rome.

Repeating a sentence dear to Paul VI, who said that "it is the mission that comes to us". It welcomed all migrants, individuals and families. In the 1980s, 10 to 13,000 people from around 100 different countries went to ACSE center. ASCE offered many of its services, carried out by volunteers, in the early days: health care, bureaucratic assistance and translations, housing, meal vouchers, offer of travel and repatriation subsidies, luggage and documents, postal address ...

Subsequently, the activity in support of migrants, always under the sign of volunteering, continued, enriching itself over time with services offered with increasing professionalism. ACSE was the first to start a computer school for migrants in Italy. Since 1997 it manages a dental clinic for migrants, holds Italian language courses, differentiated by levels. It also offers English language courses. It provides services for job search, legal assistance, assisted voluntary return, food distribution, support for university students with scholarships and ensures pastoral service. Today, the Association assists a total of over 1,500 migrants a year.

To celebrate the jubilee of the association, some initiatives have been planned, the first of which is a meeting on the theme: "An adventure of solidarity", to be held on January 23rd at 4 pm in Palazzo Poli (Rome). (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 22/1/2019)

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Tuesday, 13 November 2018 22:04

AFRICA The role of university education

13 November 2018 - "Our projects aim to strengthen the level of training of students in sub-Saharan Africa in various sectors", said Rossella Miranda, Communication Coordinator of Harambee Africa International, in presenting on November 10 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, the report "The Role of Tertiary Education in Economic and Social Rise of the Sub-Saharan Africa - A Perspective on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and South Africa".

"Alongside this primary mission, Harambee Africa International wishes to contribute to the dissemination of correct and less stereotyped information concerning Africa. And the report we present is part of this commitment", said Rossella Miranda.

The report was drawn up thanks to the contribution of some members of the cultural committee of the association which was asked to reflect on the role that tertiary education can play in the economic and social growth of sub-Saharan African states.

From the report, related to South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, some problems emerge (low expenditure on education, quality and quantity of teachers, lack of infrastructure) that contribute to explain the low rates of education of the population and education at various levels in these Countries.

Another problem is "brain drain" that leads the most motivated and capable students to find work outside the continent. So that, for example, companies engaged in the electrification of Africa, are forced to pay expensive European and Asian engineers and technicians for a work mission of several months on the continent, without their knowledge being transmitted to local people.

The testimony of two African engineer women, Ada Eloka, Nigerian, oil engineer, and Teddy Nalubega, Ugandan, electrical engineer specialized in solar energy exploitation, was particularly significant. The two professionals emphasized the need to narrate the different development experiences undertaken by young people in Africa, which represent the hope for the future.

Harambee Africa International promotes development projects, designed and implemented by African organizations, in the education sector, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of training for the sustainable development of the Continent. Harambee was born on the occasion of the canonization of St. Josemaria Escrivà, founder of Opus Dei. (L. M.) (Agenzia Fides, 13/11/2018)

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Wednesday, 10 October 2018 20:15

AFRICA The Nobel Peace Prize

8 October 2018 – The 16th Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Congolese physician Denis Mukwege. In a list of 331 candidates he was chosen for the commitment of being a man of Africa against the use of sexual violence as a weapon in wars and armed conflicts. Mukwege, gynecologist, treats victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. So far he has managed to save over 50 thousand. "Mukwege is the symbol of an honest Africa that refuses to be overwhelmed by the cruelty of barbaric acts perpetrated by warlords, whose only vocation is to kill, loot and rape", comments Father Donald Zagore, an Ivorian priest of the Society for African Missions.

The missionary continues: "Until there are men like Dr. Mukwege, death will never have the last word on the African continent. To forge an African conscience of the heroes of peace, who with their daily actions build a better Africa, must become not only a political project for all the main leaders of the African, religious and political continent, but also and above all the raison d'être of every African citizen".

"Africa - he argues - can and must become a better continent. This will be possible only through the struggle for the birth of an African political culture that promotes man without gender discrimination and remains tireless supporter of life. A life that requires full dedication to the cause of one’s neighbor, especially the poorest, sacrificing themselves and their personal interests. We must be able to treat others as we would like to be treated. The other must never be an object of our property or our interests", concludes Zagore.

Denis Mukwege said he dedicated the Nobel Peace Prize to women "killed in conflict and hit by violence every day". Mukwege has spent most of his life helping victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At Panzi hospital, founded in Bukavu in 2008, together with his staff, he treated thousands of patients who were victims of assaults. Most of the abuses were committed in the context of a long civil war that claimed more than six million Congolese lives. Denis Mukwege is the most important and unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflict. (DZ/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 8/10/2018)

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3 June 2018 - The foreign debt that Sub-Saharan African Countries have accumulated over the past few years is an unresolved issue. After the great abolitionist campaign, promoted on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of 2000, there is still a situation of emergency, which could have a devastating impact on the lives of millions of people.

The Catholic world is weaving a wide network of diplomatic and international alliances starting from Italy so as to prevent that the debt of structurally poor countries or which have been further impoverished by these years of economic crisis, become an unsustainable huge weight for populations, and also to curb development, to limit the freedom of nations, to determine violations of fundamental human rights. (...)

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24 May 2018 - “The celebrations of the feast of Pentecost have just ended and the dream of communion, fraternity, love is increasingly felt on the continent. The tribal, clan and ethnic divisions, even within the Church, which constantly feed our daily lives, remind us that the separatist spirit of Babel always remains strong", says to Agenzia Fides Ivorian theologian Fr. Donald Zagore.

"To become a Christian - he explains - means to nurture communion and therefore to enter into the Holy Spirit's way of being which is the force of communion, the unique and ultimate mediator that makes first of all communication between God and men possible and then among men themselves. One cannot think of living a Christian life separated from others. The feast of Pentecost constantly reminds us of the essence of our mission as a church in Africa, which is to work for reconciliation, the unification of our religious communities and our countries".

Pope Francis, in his homily on Sunday, May 20, invoked the Holy Spirit saying: "Blow upon the Church and impel her to the ends of the earth, so that, brought by you, she may bring nothing other than you. Blow upon our world the soothing warmth of peace and the refreshing cool of hope".

This invitation resounds among the baptized in Africa: "There is not a greater scandal than seeing the divided Churches, especially for tribal, ethnic and clan issues", continues Father Zagore. "Tribalization and clanization of our communities remain a serious distortion to the action of the Holy Spirit and to the very nature of the Church, since the Church herself is the work of the Holy Spirit. Tribalization and clanization of our churches are essentially a sin against the Holy Spirit. Where the Spirit of Christ reigns, there is no division, rather there is unity and reconciliation", he notes.

The theologian concludes: "The Holy Spirit offers itself to the community of those who support one another through Christ. Pentecost is, first of all, the feast of unity and communion of the Church and of all humanity. Through Pentecost, the whole Church, all of humanity speaks the same language: that of love. Only a love stronger than all personal interests is able to build and make fertile a community of united and reconciled men. It must be said strongly, the unity of the Church is impregnated with the only love of Christ who died and rose again for the salvation of all".  (DZ/AP) (23/05/2018 Agenzia Fides)

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Thursday, 22 March 2018 15:27

AFRICA The meaning of the imminent Easter

21 March 2018 - An Easter of life and freedom, for a reconciled Africa. Easter, the central mystery of Christian faith, has a meaning and brings special auspices on the African continent: "In essence, Easter is the transition from death to life", explains to Agenzia Fides Father Donald Zagore, Ivorian theologian of the Society of African Missions (SMA), commenting on the meaning of the imminent Easter on the continent. "How many times have we desired our condition on the continent marked by calamity, servitude, misery, death, is transformed into life, in order to become a continent where life is not only celebrated, but preferred to death, love to hatred, and peace to war? On our continent we are really hungry and thirsty for life", continues the missionary.

"Beyond the liturgical temporal dimension, Easter must permanently become for Africa a mental state, an operating way of thinking, a channel of action, an ethic in which the being of African man develops and is realized. The Easter ethics, which is an ethic that promotes freedom and life in freedom, must become the foundation on which the daily life of the African man is constantly built. It must become part of the socio-cultural and spiritual heritage of African man", notes Fr. Zagore.

The missionary says he is convinced that "in order to carry out this project, it will be necessary to deepen the paschal mystery in order to find the necessary strengths, graces and arguments. The mystery of Easter begins with the mystery of the Incarnation. What is celebrated during the Incarnation is first of all the reconciliation of what was previously opposed: the reconciliation between God and man. It is this same reconciliation that ends at Easter in the extreme sacrifice of Christ".

Fr. Donald concludes: "Africa needs to rediscover this divine experience of reconciliation. Pope Benedict XVI, in Africae Munus, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in Africa at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace, says that mission today in Africa can be understood only in terms of reconciliation. The sacrifice of Christ, who reconciled everything with his blood, must not be reduced to an illusion. This is why living reconciliation, rather than a challenge, is an imperative for post-Easter Africa. The life offered by the African Easter ethics of reconciliation will only make sense in an Africa reconciled with itself and making reconciliation its raison d'etre". (DZ/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 20/3/2018)

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