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Talitha Kum: Women Religious Against Modern Slavery




The International Union of Superiors General (UISG) hosted a panel discussion on Monday regarding the efforts women religious are making against modern forms of slavery and human trafficking in Sub Saharan Africa.

By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp

Talitha Kum in Africa: Women Religious Leaders Against Modern Slavery was the theme of a panel discussion hosted by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) on Monday morning in Rome. Sr Gabriella Bottani, International Coordinator of Talitha Kum, was joined by Dr Flaminia Vola, of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, and by the Ambassadors of Ireland and Great Britain to the Holy See.

Talitha Kum

For the millions who are trapped in human trafficking and modern forms of slavery, we are reminded of a modern form of waiting as the season of Advent begins. Thus was the panel discussion introduced by Sr Sally Hodgdon, CSJ, the Vice President of the UISG. Talitha Kum, a network of 22 networks of women religious in 76 countries is making a difference, she said. These Sisters offer the Advent spirit of hope – the hope of liberation to the victims of human trafficking and slavery. The Middle East and Africa are two areas of the world in which Talitha Kum concentrates the majority of its efforts.

The Holy See

Representing the Holy See, Dr Flaminia Vola gave an outline of pastoral guidelines currently in development within the Dicastery for Integral Human Development. She highlighted Pope Francis’ commitment to human trafficking, especially its connection with organized crime. It is not only a crime, she said, it is also a grave sin, one which exploits the human person and strips him or her of identity. To eliminate trafficking, society must change because it exists due to a market responding to consumer demand. Dr Vola continued saying there is a reluctance to recognize the phenomenon. This goes hand in hand with a general ignorance regarding its nature and how vast it is. Lastly, she noted that collaboration among national and international organizations is necessary to bring human trafficking to an end.

Trafficking in Sub Saharan Africa

Sr Gabriella Bottani, has been the International Coordinator of Talitha Kum for 4 years. She spent the month of November visiting various Talitha Kum networks in Cameroon and Burkino Faso. There she learned firsthand from the sisters about their efforts helping victims of various forms of trafficking: forced labor (manual and domestic), sexual exploitation, forced marriage, child soldiers, forced begging and organ removal. She said that Sisters are working directly with victims who want to return home once they have been released from traffickers in Libya. Many of them, she said, still bear the wounds from the torture they endured. The benefit Talitha Kum offers is that it operates as a network with sisters familiar with how things operate at the local level. Talitha Kum’s priorities focus on education, professional training (which includes scholarships for survivors of trafficking), social reintegration (including shelter), and networking with other governmental, public and religious organizations.

Praise for Talitha Kum from the international community

Ireland’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Derek Hannon, said that Talitha’s Kum work is “excellent” and “largely unsung”. He said it is necessary to “bring to public attention this vital and occasionally dangerous work”, one which he said the Irish government supports both morally and financially (€ 36,000 since 2016). Mr Hannon also stated that “only through collaboration at international, regional, bi-lateral, and national levels will progress be made in combatting human trafficking, something that Talitha Kum has long understood”.

Sally Axworthy, Great Britain’s Ambassador to the Holy See, is grateful to Pope Francis who, she said, keeps the issue of human trafficking “on the front pages”. She too praised the work of the Sisters, especially in their work of providing care and reintegration to victims. “We know that they do that in a very different way, in a way that as governments we can’t do. And we pay tribute to that. It’s difficult work and we know that you do it very well.” The Ambassador ended her presentation saying that since the issue is a global one, the Catholic Church has a global presence particularly suitable to “reach people in a way that governments really can’t”.


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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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