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Card. Filoni urges Thai Catholics to be “missionary disciples”



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Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, marked 350 years of the Church in Thailand with a Mass in Sampran on May 18.

A top Vatican official has urged the Catholic Church of Thailand to embrace the Lord’s invitation of remaining in His love so they can bear much fruit. 

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made the remark on Saturday as he led a concelebrated Mass in Sampran,  30km west of the Thai capital Bangkok, to mark 350 years of the Catholic Church in the country.

“This event is a moment of grace. This celebration bears witness to the positive results of the three hundred and fifty years of work of evangelization in this Nation. This solemn and joyful celebration is, therefore, a moment of commitment to be ‘missionary disciples’”, he said in his homily.

The establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam in 1669, formally marked the beginning of the local Church in the country.  Through the past 350 years it has grown into 11 dioceses today with about 300,000 Catholics.

Pope’s message

During the Mass, Card. Filoni also read out a message from Pope Francis to Thailand’s Catholics expressing his closeness with them as they thank “God for the many graces received over these 350 years”.  

“I pray that you may grow in holiness and continue to work in the spread of Christ’s kingdom by fostering solidarity, fraternity and the desire for goodness, truth and justice in your beloved country,” the pope wrote. 

Remain in me

In his homily, Card. Filoni commented on the day’s readings, saying the risen Lord invites them to remain in Him so as to bear much fruit.  He explained that the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Gospel in Thailand “is a call for all of us to remain in Jesus just as the Apostles did”.

He acknowledged the pioneering work by members of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris (MEP).  They were followed by other missionaries and religious men and women of various congregations whose apostolic zeal and dedication helped the Church take roots in the nation.

The cardinal noted that there is a great need for the work of evangelization in Thailand.  “To carry out the task of the proclamation of the Gospel one must be close to Jesus”, must grow in familiarity with Jesus and be a friend and disciple of Christ.

Every baptized person, he pointed out, has a responsibility in this regard, just as martyred priest Father Nicholas Bunkerd Nitbamrung, beatified in the year 2000.

The Thai priest, who died of tuberculosis in 1944 in prison accused of espionage, had dedicated his entire life to Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel.

Evangelization in Asia

The head of the Vatican’s missionary dicastery noted that the most striking feature of Asia was the variety of its people who are inheritors to ancient cultures, religions and spiritual traditions.  However, he pointed out that Christianity is the least widespread religion on the continent.                                               

He invited Catholics to live the 350th anniversary event in thanksgiving to God and in the renewed commitment to evangelization begun by the pioneers.  He noted that “work of bringing the Gospel and salvation to all peoples started by Jesus and entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion.”

“An overall view shows that this mission is still in the beginning and therefore all of us should commit whole-heartedly to the mission of evangelizing,” Card. Filoni said.      

The cardinal visited Thailand, May 16-28, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the Thai Church.  On the last day, Tuesday, he visited Ayutthaya,  the then capital of the Kingdom of Siam, considered the birthplace of the Vicariate of Siam. 


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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes



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



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”



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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