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Asia Bibi worried about her daughters’ safety

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Joseph Nadeem, who has been taking care of Asia Bibi’s family since her 2010 death sentence for blasphemy, spoke to Aid to the Church in Need, about their ordeal since her acquittal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Oct. 31.

By Robin Gomes

Asia Bibi who hasn’t embraced her children as yet is deeply worried about the safety of her family.  Joseph Nadeem, the man who has been taking care of her family since her death sentence by a Pakistani court in 2010 for blasphemy, spoke about the family’s ordeal to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic charity and foundation that helps persecuted Christians worldwide.

“We’re afraid. In recent days, the Islamists have fired at the gate of our home.  We are constantly receiving threats and on more than one occasion we have been followed,” Nadeem said. 

As Asia Bibi and her husband Ashiq are practically illiterate, Nadeem went out to help them with lawyers and accompanied Ashiq and their younger daughter Eisham on their travels abroad, giving testimony of their suffering and raising support for Asia.

In a landmark ruling on Oct. 31, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared Asia Bibi innocent and ordered her release. 

Two families targeted

Today, Nadeem’s family that is sheltering Asia Bibi’s children, are also in danger.  “As soon as Asia was acquitted, we had to flee,” Nadeem said, adding that the wife and husband are in a safe place, protected by the government, but his family could not be with them.

Since then, Nadeem’s family and Asia’s two daughters have had to change houses four times. “The Islamists hunt us down and every time we realize that we are in danger we immediately run away. We can’t even go and buy food. I only go out at night with my face covered,” Nadeem said.

Nadeem said he met Asia Bibi once soon after her release but they talk on the phone every day.   He said Asia is aware of the difficult situation and is very worried about her daughters.  

Nadeem expressed admiration for the resilience of Asia Bibi after all she went through.  “She is an incredible woman! She has kept an unshakable faith and an infinite trust in the Lord,” he said. “It may seem strange but it is she who supports us in these difficult times. She invites us not to be discouraged and says that compared to what she has been through so far, this is only a brief moment that will pass.”

Hoping to reunite

Esha and Eisham have not yet embraced their mother, Nadeem said, but they are able to regain a bit of their family life on the phone. He recalled the first phone call the two daughters had with their mother.  The two sisters cried for hours for joy. Asia is looking forward to meeting them and hopes to leave the country soon with her family, he said.

Raising support

Nadeem and the two girls have informed their mother about the media interest aroused worldwide around her case.  “International attention and solidarity comfort us,” Nadeem said, adding  Eisham was moved when she saw her video message projected during the Nov. 20 #RedVenice event in Venice, Italy, that drew attention to persecuted Christians worldwide.   “All of us, including Asia, are grateful to those who raise their voices to denounce our situation,” Nadeem said.

Nadeem said they are waiting to leave Pakistan for a safe place. Aid to the Church, he said, was the first to come to offer them hospitality and they hope the two families will be able to spend Christmas together in Rome.   (Source: ACN)

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CATHOLIC WORLD

Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes

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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump - CAN fumes

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.

President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.

Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.

He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.

He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.

“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’

“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.

“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.

“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.

“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.

“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”

However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.

He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.

“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

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Nuncio tasks clergy, laity on good stewardship

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has urged the clergy, religious and lay faithful to be trustworthy, transparent, selfless and generous stewards in the discharge of their duties in the Church, following the way of Jesus.

Archbishop Filipazzi made the call during the opening ceremony of the maiden General Assembly of the Abuja Archdiocese, which was held on at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Friday September 4.

The General Assembly, with the theme “Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja: Together in Evangelization,” saw Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and the laity gathered together to discuss means of strengthening the faith of God’s people amid the ongoing Covid-19 health crisis.

Addressing participants, Archbishop Filipazzi said that “an administrator is neither a master nor a slave who cannot decide anything, but one who is given a responsibility by the Master.” In this light, the faithful are called to be “true administrators of divine mystery” entrusted to them by Our Lord, according to their varying roles in the Church.

The Apostolic Nuncio also said “differences must not lead to division,” as everyone, though different, must strive for unity since there is no room for divisions in the body of Christ.

Archbishop Filipazzi, speaking on the upsurge in violence in northern Nigeria in a Vatican News interview on 29 August, had also called for shunning divisions along religious and ethnic lines.

Rather, he appealed for “general respect of the law and general intervention of the government” in the violent attacks which have claimed many lives and caused massive material damage.

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St Joseph’s Hall of Faith”

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Assumpta CMO raises fund to roof “St. Joseph's Hall of Faith”

The Catholic Men Organization, CMO, Maria Assumpta Cathedral Parish Owerri, joined their counterparts in the Archdiocese to celebrate Father’s Day on Sunday, August 30.

The celebration earlier scheduled for May 10 this year was differed because of Covid-19 pandemic.

The occasion began with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna, Archbishop of Owerri cum Parish Priest of the Cathedral Parish.

In his homily, Archbishop Obinna called on Christians to live a life of witnessing to Christ at all times. He said that the zeal to preach the word of God is like a fire that burns inside the heart of a Christian and will not abate until one bears witness to Christ. This, he said, must be done in the course of our daily lives, in our places of work, in our families, among our friends, through living life that is Christ-like.

He congratulated the Christian fathers on the occasion and appealed for support to enable them complete their building project in no distant time. His Grace also appreciated the performance of the CMO choir during the Mass.

The theme for the parish celebration is: “Catholic Men As Spiritual Heads of the Domestic Church: Implications in the Family.”

The parish CMO used the celebration to raise fund for the roofing of their building project named: “St. Joseph’s Hall of Faith.”

In his brief remark at the occasion, the Parish CMO President, Arc. Anthony Emeka Ozoude said, “We have been able to complete the block work,” adding that, “the task before us now is to put a roof on the building.”

He therefore made a passionate appeal for generous donations from members and well wishers, assuring donors that every kobo donated will be prudently applied for the purpose.

Arc. Ozoude recalled that early this year, the parish CMO executive identified a three-prong programme of focus, namely: Membership revalidation, Debt recovery and Fund raising for the roofing.

He advised members not to sit on the fence anymore as there is so much to gain spiritually, morally and even intellectually from participating in the CMO activities both at the parish, stations and prayer groups levels.

“The committed members who attend our programmes regularly have discovered this and have remained resolute in their participation,” he said.

Activities marking this year’s celebration included Retreat, visit to ailing members in their homes, thanksgiving Mass blessing of the mini altars for the 5 prayer groups of CMO etc.

Arc. Ozoude thanked in a special way, Archbishop Obinna, the Cathedral Administrator and priests working in the Cathedral for their support. He also commended the various stations and prayer groups for their cooperation.

The CMO president acknowledged the good work and sacrifice of the Planning Committee, headed by Dr. Uche Ukozor and thanked them for a job well done.

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