The San Silvestro’s agreement was mediated by Congolese Bishops. According to a statement by CENCO sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops asked Nikki Haley to “help the Congolese people complete the electoral process within a reasonable deadline and accepted by all parties involved; to obtain the effective observance of the Constitution and the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 from the politicians; to recommend the Electoral Commission the rapid publication of a realistic and accurate electoral calendar, which will allow for credible, transparent and peaceful elections; to ask the Head of State an explicit commitment not to present himself for the next elections; to obtain from the high authorities of the State, civil and military, the cessation of the repression of peaceful demonstrations and of serious violations of human rights, as well as respect of democratic principles; to encourage the government to continue to pursue the implementation of the political refor
Kinshasa – Outgoing President Joseph Kabila has received some important international awards as the expiration of his mandate, as envisaged by the San Silvestro Agreement, signed on December 31, 2016, is due to expire. According to the agreements, Kabila was to step down by the end of 2017, the year in which the presidential elections were to be held which initially were scheduled in December 2016.
The new presidential elections will take place on December 23, 2018 as declared on November 5 by the Independent National Election Commission . The announcement of CENI in Kinshasa took place shortly after the visit of US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who had imposed an ultimatum on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo: elections by 2018, otherwise financial support to the DRC would be cut.
“By proposing the expiration of 2018, Nikki Haley offered the Congolese authorities what they were expecting: a second year of power to President Kabila, whose second and last presidential mandate ended on 19 December 2016”, says a note sent to Agenzia Fides by the Peace Network for Congo. “If the 31 December 2016 agreement had already officially confirmed a first postponement of the elections in December 2017, Nikki Haley approved their second postponement to 2018. The US ambassador seems to have satisfied a part, the presidential majority, ignoring the second part, the opposition, who has asked Joseph Kabila to resign”.
The San Silvestro’s agreement was mediated by Congolese Bishops. According to a statement by CENCO sent to Agenzia Fides, the Bishops asked Nikki Haley to “help the Congolese people complete the electoral process within a reasonable deadline and accepted by all parties involved; to obtain the effective observance of the Constitution and the full implementation of the agreement of 31 December 2016 from the politicians; to recommend the Electoral Commission the rapid publication of a realistic and accurate electoral calendar, which will allow for credible, transparent and peaceful elections; to ask the Head of State an explicit commitment not to present himself for the next elections; to obtain from the high authorities of the State, civil and military, the cessation of the repression of peaceful demonstrations and of serious violations of human rights, as well as respect of democratic principles; to encourage the government to continue to pursue the implementation of the political reforms envisaged in the December 31, 2016 agreement, as they are an essential prerequisite for launching a peaceful electoral process; to make every effort to ensure that the panel of experts nominated at the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations has an operational power within the Electoral Commission”.
The extension, of more than two years, of Kabila’s presidential mandate has expired, creating strong tensions in the Country. Opposition and civil society have threatened to organize demonstrations to force the President to resign.
Washington – The US Episcopal Conference quickly responded to the Trump administration’s decision to put an end to a program implemented under President Barack Obama which aimed at protecting the so-called young “dreamers” from expulsion, defining the move as “reprehensible” and “heartbreaking”.
The program called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – DACA” had created a temporary shield for nearly 800,000 undocumented youngsters and young adults who had come to the United States as a child and who, thanks to the DACA program, managed to complete higher education and work legally.
Responding to the decision to put an end to the program, the Bishops wrote: “Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country”.
The statement was signed by Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, USCCB vice president; Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, Washington, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers.
The Bishops said that the decision by the Trump administration announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a “heartbreaking moment in our history that shows the absence of mercy and goodwill, and a short-sighted vision for the future”.
Bethlehem – Lourdes and Bethlehem share a “common destiny”, because “without pilgrimages, Bethlehem, like Lourdes, would be a small forgotten village”. With these words charged with realism the mayoress of Lourdes, Madame Josette Bourdeu, connoted the special bond which unites the town where Jesus was born with the French village-shrine in the Pyrenees. Madame Bourdeu said this recently when she led a French delegation to visit the Holy Land and to sign a partnership between the two French and Palestinian municipalities, establishing concrete and active cooperation between the towns.
The agreement – according to the Official Communications media of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – was completed on 1 March this year and aims particularly to create jobs in the field of tourism also through commerce of religious articles made by Palestinian Christian artisans. This form collaboration will help launch projects in the field of social economy, promoting the sale of Palestinian handicraft through the network of places of pilgrimage most visited by Christians all over the world including the shrines of Fatima, Czestochowa, Guadalupe and Aparecida. In 2012 the Marian Shrine of Lourdes adopted as its “official Rosary” beads carved from olive wood by a family in Bethlehem, and about 25,000 of them are sold every year. .
San José – “Mercy or Violence?” is the title of a message issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica, at the end of a recent assembly: “With deep sorrow we present information supplied by the national Judicial Research Office – we read in the first lines of the report sent to Fides -: In 2015 our country registered 560 murders, the highest number in recent years according to the United Nations Organisation “. Although lower compared with neighbouring countries, ithe figure is nevertheless a cause of concern also because “a quarter of these crimes are connected with episodes of drug trafficking ” say the Bishops.
“Profoundly shocking, the numbers of acts violence on children, which have doubled in less than a decade . In 2014 the National Children’s Hospital assisted 2,400 children victims of violence, in 2015 the number rose to 3,100 “. The bishops denounce widespread domestic violence and gang bullying and aggression.
In this situation the Bishops’ Conference complains of scarce control regarding violence, recalling that the country chose to do without commitment by the army in order release more resources for social policies. They add: “Every form of injustice is an act of violence. In our country ihunger, lack of decent homes and medical care etc….are acts of violence on 317,660 families, over one million men women and children live in poverty, and for another 374,185 poverty is extreme”.
Prompted by Pope Francis’ call to give central place to mercy and reconciliation, the Bishops conclude : “We have in our hands the possibility of restoring to Costa Rica a society shining with peace and full respect for human life”.
Cairo – Karim Kamal, founder of the Union General of Copts for the Motherland, has asked the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al Sisi to intervene regarding the case of a group of Copt youths recently accused of verbally offending Islam and sentenced to five years in prison. Kamal urges Egypt’s Head of State to grant amnesty to the young men in question. But the request, made public in the Egyptian media, also expresses harsh criticism of the law on blasphemy and offence to religion, misused to persecute innocent people, while extremists and fomenters of religious hatred go unpunished.
The case in question in the appeal addressed to al Sisi involves four Copt students charged with offending the Islamic religion, by sharing in the Spring of 2015 a video-clip of a few seconds, recorded on a mobile phone, in which they mime the scene of the slitting of the throat of a Muslim in prayer, imitating the horrendous executions carried out by Jihadists of the self-proclaimed Islamic State . At the end of February the Egyptian court in Minya issued a heavy sentence to the young men: three will serve five years in prison, and the fourth, not yet eighteen years old, will be sent to a guarded residence for minor offenders. .
Caracas – The World Health Organization has launched a global alert on the spread of the zika virus. Currently, America is the most affected continent . In Venezuela, there are between 6 and 10 thousand symptomatic cases of the disease, to which are added 30 to 40% of asymptomatic cases. The Minister of Health has confirmed the state of alert and the monitoring of 4700 suspected cases.
Posadas – The outbreak of dengue fever, that was proliferating in the Country, has been declared an epidemic and there is a greater spread of cases in various provinces. The infections started from Misiones province, where 36 cases were confirmed and about 800 considered suspect cases. Health services in Misiones are responding well, through actions of rapid rehydration for patients who have symptoms. According to the Ministry of Health, there are outbreaks of dengue in six locations in the province of Misiones and a total of 173 positive cases, plus others scattered in different cities for a total of 379 cases.
The Ministry has sent economic aid in the provinces where carriers of the virus have been identified and has strengthened the prevention campaign. In areas affected by dengue the health office is providing the distribution of insecticides and repellents for fumigation.