Friday, October 23, 2009

Synod for Africa nears conclusion

With just a few hours to the conclusion of the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, the delegates have released a message to the PEOPLE OF GOD prior to the final document to be read and voted for tomorrow morning in the Synod hall.

In their detailed message covering areas that featured iduring the three-weeks Synod, the delegates have reiterated their call for true healing., justice, peace and reconciliation in Africa, calling it "no longer a ‘dark’ continent but a continent of hope'.

The statement was presented to the international press at the Vatican by Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja Nigeria, bishop Youssef Ibrahim Sarraf Caldean bishop of Egypt and bishop Francisco Joao Silota of Chimoio, Mozambique together with Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican Press office.

The messages contains 7 distinct parts.

Acknowledging that Africa forms part of the global Church, the message urges the global church to continue its solidarity with Africa, all as members of the Family of God.

The message challenges the African bishops to prioritize on issues of reconciliation, justice and peace and making them a pastoral agenda of each diocese.

Terming the priests as necessary and close collaborators of the bishops, the Synod Fathers have urged them in this year dedicated to them to renew their commitments and be true signs of reconciliation and peace by harmoniously living together regardless of their tribal differences.

To the public leaders, the Synod encourages them to participate in church work through promoting common good even while in those public offices.

The synod fathers have also described the Christian families, Catholic Women, Catholic Men, youth and Children as agents of evangelization.

On HIV/AIDS, the Bishops, through the 'Synodal' message, highlight how the church has been involved in this ministry with love and care and applauds many people who take care of the infected and the affected in our land.

Stating that it is now time for Africa to rise up, the message recognizes the efforts to liberate Africa of any kind of bondage or alienation. It however regrets sad crises in Somalia and the Great Lakes region.

The Synod fathers have also expressed great concern on the poor leadership in Africa that has led to destruction of our environment, arms dealing, human and drug trafficking, among other evils bedeviling Africa, calamities that have led to immense poverty, misery and diseases; influx of internally and externally displaced persons, brain-drain to the developed world, wars and bloodshed, et cetera.

In total, the Synod fathers' message has 43 points and ends with a prayer

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Comboni Missionaries elect new superior

Fr. Rodrigue Enrique Sanchez was last evening elected the new superior general of the Comboni Missionaries replacing Fr. Terresino Serra who has served in that same capacity since 2003.

During the ongoing chapter of the congregation taking place at the Generate in EUR, Rome, Fr Rodrigue was elected by the delegates to head the over 1700 member-strong congregation that is spread in all continents of the world.

Until his appointment, Fr. Rodrigue was working as head of Costa Rica and Guatemala in Latin America.

Born in 1958 in Mexico, Fr Enrique has worked in Chad, and has lectured in Peru. His term takes effect immediately and will run for six years.

The Congregation started by St. Daniel Comboni in 1867 has strong roots in Africa for which it was founded under the founders motto 'AFRICA OR DEATH'

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bishops' Solidarity with the suffering in great lakes

As the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops draws to its close, issues that prompted the convocation of the Synod still continue to affect the church in the region.

This was demonstrated when the Synod Fathers together with the Holy Father sent a message of solidarity to the Bishops of the Great Lakes region and expressed sorrow at the persistent wars in the region and the great suffering of the people there. The Synod Fathers expressed their great concerns over the plight of the child-soldiers, orphans and refugees in general.

In their letter, the fathers hoped that at the intercessions of the African saints, Africa would once again experience a lasting peace and that justice would come in those areas and that hearts might be open to the grace of reconciliation with God and neighbour.

The letter was sent to the Episcopal Conferences of Sudan, Uganda, Chad, DRC and the Central African Republic.

Meanwhile, the Synod Fathers are making the final touches to the document that will finally be presented to the Synod Secretariat for Holy Father to finally adopt and later exalt.

The Synod ends on Sunday October 25, 2009.

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Pope opens door for Anglican fraternity

Pope Benedict XVI has given a nod to the realization of a full communion with the Anglican Church by accepting an Apostolic Constitution that allows for Anglicans to easily become Catholics.

In a statement released on Tuesday Oct. 20, 2009 by Cardinal William Joseph Levanda, President of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican, (formerly headed by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI) many groups of the Anglican clergy and faithful have written to the Holy See, requesting to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Levanda said that the Catholic Church in the forthcoming document provides for the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests. However, the Cardinal clarified that historical and ecumenical reasons precluded the ordination of married men as bishops.

The document that is yet to be released to the public is said to seek to balance ‘on one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church’.

The Cardinal however, clarified that ‘the unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity…’

He said that in the Constitution that is now in the final phase, contains proposals to form Personal Ordinaries (dioceses) with structures similar to that of the Military Ordinariates to take care of the brethren who formerly were of the Anglican faith and have since joined the Catholic Church.

In a statement jointly released in London to coincide with the announcement in Rome by Archbishop Vincent Gerald Nichols of Westminister and Dr. Rowan William, archbishop of Cantebury, the two Anglican leaders, confirmed the announcement and said the announcement brought to an end a period of uncertainty for groups that had requested to enter into full communion with the catholic church. The two leaders went on to appreciate dialogue that has gone on for over 40 years between the Catholic church on one hand and the Anglican on the other.

The schism (split) that led to formation of Anglican church (church of England) away from mother Catholic Church came in the sixteenth century when King Henry VIII declared the Church of England independent of Papal authority. However, it was only in the mid-nineteenth century that the interest to enter into dialogue developed.

In 1982, the Anglican Diocese of Amritsar of India and some parishes in the United States maintained the Anglican identity but entered into the Catholic Church under some guidelines approved by Pope John Paul II.

This latest development does not however change the Catholic opposition to ordination of women or the ordination of gay priests.

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Malindi Diocese celebrates life of their late Bishop

Following the death of Rt. Rev. Francis Baldacchino, the Bishop of Malindi and the subsequent burial in Malta, His Lordship Philip Anyolo, the acting Chairman of Kenya Episcopal Conference, presided over Holy Mass at the newly renovated Cathedral of Malindi on Sunday 18 October, 2009.

The solemn Holy Mass was attended by a large number of the faithful of the diocese who, since they didn’t have the opportunity to go to Malta,(where the late was buried on October 14, 2009) came to celebrate the life of the late Bishop Baldacchino.

The liturgy was organized very well. At the end of the Mass there was a great joy as the sadness that had clouded the faithful was lifted up. It was for them like the funeral Mass they never attended and at the end of it all they commended their late Bishop into the Hands of the Lord.

On behalf of all the bishops in Kenya, Bishop Anyolo, who was accompanied by Fr. Dominic Kimengich, the acting Secretary General Kenya Episcopal Conference, encouraged the faithful to be firm in their faith and to cherish the time the late Bishop shared with them as their shepherd.

“The motto of Bishop Baldacchino was: they may be closer together and therefore it becomes an incentive for them to remain united as one family of Christ,” he said.

He exhorted the clergy, the faithful and the religious in the diocese to continue the good work that Bishop Baldaccchino had left behind.

“Also, pray so that the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, may give you another shepherd when the time comes who will carry on with the mission of the Church in the Diocese of Malindi,” said Bishop Anyolo.

The faithful of Malindi are now anxiously waiting for the shepherd who will be their administrator during this time of “Sede Vacante”, since even the office of the Vicar General ceased with the death of the Bishop.

Bishop Anyolo assured them that the Church will take care of that concern as soon as possible.

The late Bishop Baldacchino is well remembered for many spiritual, pastoral and social development developments he initiated, since he became the Shepherd of the newly established diocese of Malindi in 2000.

From the seven parishes that were there when he took over as the Bishop of Malindi, now there are seventeen parishes that make up the diocese. From the one local clergy that was there, now there are ten diocesan priests together with missionary priests ministering in the diocese.

A very modern pastoral center and the diocesan secretariat bear testimony to the legacy of a hard working bishop that had great vision for the diocese of Malindi.

Vicar General Rev. Fr. Albert Buijs, Fr. Ambrose Muli and Fr. Peter Karanja, the assistant Parish priest of the Cathedral have continued to work tirelessly to ensure normalcy of things following the untimely death of the Bishop.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pope Benedict marks World Mission Sunday

The Church exists to proclaim the message of hope to all of humanity, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI said on World Mission Sunday October 18, 2009, at St Peter's Square, Vatican, after leading pilgrims in the Angelus prayer.

The Holy Father called on the Church through-out the month of October to rediscover her mission and led by the Holy Spirit to continue proclaiming a message of justice, peace and joy to all.

In the church calendar, October is dedicated as the month of missionary outreach/work.

The pontiff paid tribute to agents of evangelization who have given their lives to the missionary work but continually face hardships, even persecutions.

He said he is looking forward to the outcome of the Synod of Bishops for Africa being held in Vatican, terming the emerging issues so far discussed as a manifestation of extreme sacrifice and love for Christ and His Church.

The Holy Father, who has been attending the proceedings of the meeting, called on the visiting pilgrims to join in special prayer for the Synod and Synod Fathers.

Meanwhile, the Synod entered its third and final week today. The Holy Father is scheduled to celebrate the concluding mass of the Synod on Sunday 25th October at the St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

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KEC-CS Press Statement: Religious Dress in Catholic Schools

"On 13th August 2009, His Eminence John cardinal Njue, Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference and all the Catholic Bishops in Kenya wrote a letter to all Catholic public Sponsored and private schools informing them that the issues of HIJAB in schools needs consultation. Consequently, they asked that the STATUS QUO – BEFORE the issuance of the circular from the ministry of education – BE MAINTAINED in these schools until an agreement is reached amicably. Thus, they instructed that the code of dressing, as per the admission requirements be adhered to in all Catholic schools.

"Earlier Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley, Bishop Chairman, Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for Education and Religious Education, had written a letter dated July 15th, 2009 to the permanent secretary, ministry of Education, questioning the directive that the permanent secretary had issued regarding religious dressing on July 14th, 2009 and called for dialogue and consultation before implementation. He also recommended strongly that the directive and implementation be withdrawn.

"The need for consultation and dialogue arises from the fact the Catholic Church has her own religious traditions, discipline and philosophy of education that is cherished and held in all catholic schools. This is what has made Catholic schools what they are. For that reason, the Church has to be involved in any decision that might affect her directly or indirectly. In addition the directive was issued without taking into consideration the views and concerns of the Catholic Church and other Christian churches.

"It is a well known fact that Catholic schools all over the country are open to all children regardless of their social status or religious affiliation. This is why the Church is careful to maintain a certain degree of uniformity in her schools for the good and interest of all as she endeavours to build one people and one nation.

"Therefore, the recognition of any religious emblem is and should be subject to consultation with sponsors of the respective schools. Otherwise, it means that the sponsor’s role is no longer recognized by the ministry of Education and this is against the 1968 Education ACT (Revised 1980) which has not been repealed. In this matter of the religious dressing, therefore, the Catholic Church is requesting that her rights and concerns be respected and the issue be subjected to consultation and dialogue by all stakeholders in education with the aim of reaching an amicable agreement.

"We wish to point out that any concern as to why the Catholic Church has not implemented the circular of the permanent Secretary – Ministry of Education – in her public sponsored and private schools should only be addressed to the chairman of Kenya Episcopal Conference and not the heads of the respective institutions.

"In conclusion, we pray that this matter of the Hijab he handled with reason and respect, avoiding confrontation and threats, for harmonious co-existence – taking into account that our children are about to sit for the National and end of the year examinations."


Rt. Rev. Phillip Anyolo
Ag. Chairman; Kenya Episcopal Conference
17th October, 2009

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