Fratricidal struggle in Central Africa
Religion is manipulated for political ends, according to Bishop Nestor Nongo-Aziagba SMA, Bishop of Bossangoa, the town in the west of the Central African Republic, where despite the presence of French troops, looting continues, houses are burnt and violence against civilians continue.
"Two armed groups are fighting each other", said the Bishop. "On the one hand the Seleka and on the other, the anti Balaka. Although the characteristic of these movements may suggest a religious conflict between Muslims and Christians, it is first of all a fratricidal struggle among Central Africans".
Bishop Nongo-Aziagba insists "on the restoration of State authority throughout the territory", and the end of impunity in order to get Central Africa out of the worst crisis in its history. Finally, one should highlight the competition for the control of the natural resources in Central Africa, such as diamonds and uranium, carried out by external actors that fuel the ongoing conflict, by supporting the various warring factions.
With thanks to FIDES, the Vatican News Agency
Miso de Gallo... Filipinos prepare...
Fr Gus O'Driscoll SMA reports on the start of the pre-dawn Novena of Masses leading up to Christmas which began on Monday, 16 December. He also gives an update on the situation in Tacloban / Leyte following the Typhoon.
December 16 marks a significant date each year for the church in the Philippines, with the beginning of the pre-dawn Novena of Masses – ‘Misa de Gallo’ / ‘Simbang Gabi’. We continue with this tradition, and so this morning, with the assistance of priests from our House of Formation, we celebrated 6 masses in our parish church and chapels – two at 4am, two at 4.30am and two more at 5.15am. Delivering a homily at that hour of the morning is pretty challenging, but the packed attendance and great singing, gives one energy for the liturgy. We hope we can sustain these levels of energy for the coming 9 days!!
Update on the aftermath of the typhoon
Fr. German returned from his home-town on Saturday night, having spent the week with his family and neighbours for the relief operation (another truck with relief goods left our parish yesterday).
He said the place is coming back to life. When he first reached home 4 weeks ago, he met an eerie silence and total shock. Now people are laughing again, and there is noise, especially from the jeepneys plying the roads with passengers, now mostly cleared of debris. And chain-saws are in great demand, cutting up the thousands of trees knocked in the storm, and using the timber as building material, albeit of a temporary nature until more durable materials become available in the new year.
He spoke of the grief and sadness that some families suffered. One afternoon, he went with his mother to visit her younger sister. Normally very jovial, she was still traumatized, having lost two daughters, a son-in-law, and 6 grandchildren. He met people he went to school with, who lost many members of their families. One former classmate, now a doctor, was on duty in the hospital when the typhoon struck.
When she got back to her home, now destroyed, she did not find her family; up to 15 members of family and extended family perished. How does one pick up life again?
But he says he now feels more at peace with the situation, and sees new hope among the people.
Let us continue to keep them all in prayer, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Our Saviour.
To help our work in Leyte click here and then choose Philippines Disaster Fund. 100% of your donation will go to buy food, water, tents etc for people in the Holy Family and Our Lady, Queen of Angels parishes. Thank You!
Mandela: in his own words
Fr Hugh Lagan, from Maghera, Co Derry, is a missionary in South Africa. He is involved in training seminarians and running courses for clergy and religious throughout southern Africa. Here he gives a brief selection from the late Nelson Mandela which are food for thought...
“No one is born hating another person. Because of the colour of their skin, of their background or their religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
“I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”
“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. I have said, the first thing to be is honest with yourself… As I walked out the door to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. We owe our children a life free from violence and fear.”
“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not, and could not, give myself up to despair. That way lies defeat and death.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies. I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. You will achieve more in this world through acts of mercy than you will through acts of retribution.”
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918 - 2013)