SOUTH SUDAN: “I was ready for this new mission”
The Catholic Church is currently observing an Extraordinary Missionary Month. The missionary work of the Church is often performed under difficult conditions: in the midst of persecution, poverty and war.
This is especially true for South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of casualties, millions of refugees – the country has been left in a desolate state by the civil war that broke out in 2013, at a time when the African country of South Sudan was only in its second year, and lasted until the cease-fire last year. This is how the situation was described by Father Boniface Isenge from the centrally located diocese of Rumbek during a visit to the headquarters of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need.
According to Father Boniface, about 38 per cent of the approximately 13 million South Sudanese are Christians. About 180,000 Catholics live in his diocese. He said that many even consider the Catholic Church to be the only functioning institution in the country. As a young priest, the Spiritan first lived in neighbouring Ethiopia for eight years before he decided to go to South Sudan in 2013. “After the country gained independence, my order was urgently looking for priests and missionaries to work here. I wanted to do something new and was ready for this new mission,” Father Boniface recalled. He sees it as his calling to bring peace to this war-torn region.
Father Boniface Isenge from South Sudan speaks to ACN in October 2019. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
The crisis in Nicaragua is posing a threat to vocations to the priesthood
by Josué Villalón
The inter-diocesan seminary of Our Lady of Fatima in Managua has had to be reorganised as a result of the conflict that is shaking the country.
Nicaragua is going through a grave social and political crisis which has left hundreds of people dead, as a result of the harsh repression by police and paramilitary groups close to President Daniel Ortega. The crisis is slowly creating a climate of economic instability that is growing steadily worse, month by month. The Catholic Church in Nicaragua is a crucial factor in achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict, but this has not left her immune to threats and violent attacks or from suffering, along with her people, as a result of the economic crisis.
Ordination in Matagalpa November 2018. Photographer Marisol Castañeda. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
PAKISTAN: Human traffickers prey on Christian girls drawn by false promises
by Sanawar Salam
In Pakistan, arranged marriage is a common practice. Human trafficking groups regularly take advantage of the custom to pose as "matchmakers" for Chinese men. They entrap Christian girls-and their often very poor families-with the promise of a secure future and a husband who supposedly will provide every luxury. But once the girls are married and moved to China, they face severe, repeated abuse and the loss of personal autonomy. For a time this is how Mehak Parvez lived, but she managed to escape. She agreed to tell her story to Aid to the Church in Need:
Portrait of Mehak Pervaz who was trafficked to China.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.
Fresh conflict threatens new exodus of Christians from Syria• Bishop slams Western powers as violence spirals:
“The Kurds will lose because of the lack of support from the USA”
“I fear a new exodus of Christians”
WARNINGS that the fresh violence in north-east Syria could unleash a renewed – and potentially fatal – exodus of Christians from the region have come from a bishop who has accused the US and the international community of inflicting huge damage on the country.
Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo said he feared a massive exodus of Christians in Hassaké – where half of Catholics and Orthodox have left since 2010 – as well as Qamishli, in north-east Syria.
Image: Father Francois Mourad and Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo celebrating Holy Mass in 2012.
Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.
Speaking in an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Emeritus Archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi highlighted his concerns for the region amid reports of thousands of Daesh (ISIS) fighters and their families on the run following a strike on Chirkin prison, Qamishli.
The Syriac Catholic archbishop warned that the Daesh fighters could infiltrate Europe via Turkey.