Pope Francis calls on the Catholic faithful to support the work of Aid to the Church in Need
Pope Francis gave his personal support to an awareness and fund-raising campaign organised by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to mark the Pontiff's Year of Mercy. ACN's "Be God's Mercy" was launched on 17th June in Rome 2016. The Pope personally associated himself with the campaign through a video message, highlighting the work of ACN.
In his timeless message, the Pope called on people to "carry out works of mercy together with ACN in every corner of the world, in order to meet the many, many needs of today". ACN projects supported during the Be God's Mercy" campaign included prison ministry, drug rehabilitation centres, support groups for women and help for refugees. In his video message, the Pope said: "I am entrusting these works to Aid to the Church in Need."
The very first benefactor of the campaign was Pope Francis himself who entrusted a donation to ACN to assist the Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, when IS forces invaded Mosul and the surrounding villages of the Nineveh Plains in June 2014. The gift of the Pope went to assist the work of the St Joseph's Clinic in Erbil, which offers free medical care to around 2,800 refugees of all religions who fled from IS in Iraq.
The Pope asks all of us to follow his call for works of mercy. At ACN we seek to support those who give their lives at the service of mercy: the men and women of the Church - priests, sisters, either active or contemplative, and laity - those who dedicate their energy to serve others to overcome their needs. Often reaching out to those who cannot or will not be reached by others, they feed the poor, heal the sick and console the sorrowful, keeping them in their prayers and carrying them by sharing the Good News.
Help Religious Sisters - the unsung heroines in the Church!
They smile, they heal, they teach, they comfort. Around the globe Catholic religious sisters quietly perform their dedicated and heroic service without remuneration and barely even noticed by the wider world. But in order to help others, they themselves also need to be helped, for although they are ministering angels to so many, they themselves still need their daily bread and a roof over their heads.
Each year the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) supports over 10,000 religious sisters in every corner of the globe. Many religious congregations turn to the charity for help, not least for the formation of their precious new vocations. While many congregations in the Western world have few or no new vocations and even seem to be dying out, in other parts of the world the religious communities are filled with young and smiling faces.
It is vital that the indispensable work of religious sisters in Christ's Holy Catholic Church and throughout the missions worldwide continues. Religious sisters, like Sr Annie Demerjian pictured right, are the unsung heroines in the Church. ACN is therefore proud to help them in their efforts to make the world a better place. The average grant ACN gives to support a religious sister or novice is $300 - but whatever you can afford will be enormously appreciated. ACN forwards the donations directly to the religious superiors in charge of the religious communities and congregations.
Anyone able to help this cause with a $20 donation or more will be sent a set of complimentary Vatican rosary blessed by Pope Francis.
To support this cause and to receive the complimentary Pope Francis rosary please click on this link. You can also call the office of Aid to the Church in Need on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone.
"Their Faith Is Our Hope" - Please help the work of the Church in Africa where the number of believers in the African church has quadrupled over the last 35 years
Africa is a continent with about 1.112 billion inhabitants, 215 million of which are Catholics. The average age of the population is 19. True to the charism of solidarity with the persecuted church Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) would like to draw attention to the suffering of Christians in several African countries that are directly affected by Islamic terrorism. These include Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad. At the same time, ACN would like to highlight one of the most serious problems for the continent's future: the hidden, but constant infiltration of Islamic fundamentalism into other African countries where, up until now, Christians and Muslims have been coexisting in peace and harmony. This alarming news is being conveyed to ACN by missionaries and local clergy from various African countries.
The peaceful coexistence of the religions in Sub-Saharan Africa lies in the balance. Without the reconciliation and forgiveness work the church carries out in countries such as Nigeria, the Central African Republic or Tanzania, the spiral of violence and hate would have had unthinkable, devastating consequences. For this reason, ACN is supporting projects that focus on interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding. However, ACN believes that the Gospel itself still bears the most powerful message of peace. To establish peace in Africa, the best investment is ensuring the unfaltering presence of Eucharist and Gospel through the work of priests, religious sisters and catechists. It is also important to note that the violence and suffering of the African people is not only rooted in Islamic fundamentalism. Corruption, oppressive regimes, ethnic conflicts and power struggles as well as natural catastrophes have time and again required that the Catholic church take on a fundamental, often heroic role in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite all difficulties, the number of believers in the African church has quadrupled over the last 35 years, growing from 55 to 214 million. According to the latest statistics of the Catholic church, Africa ranks first in the world in terms of growth in the number of Catholics (46%). It is also a very young church. After all, the church only became established in many countries as recently as 200 years ago. Together with Asia, Africa is the only continent to report an annual growth in vocations to the priesthood.
To learn more about the work of Aid to the Church in Need in Africa and to donate to help this cause please click HERE
Please help Christians being Persecuted for their Faith
Imagine having your house daubed with a Cross or a big 'C' for Christian, knowing that your house was about to be targeted and taken. This is what happened in Mosul - and the Arabic letter 'N' equating to Nazarene was daubed on Christian properties by Islamist terrorists of the Islamic State. Now a city which had up to 60,000 Christians eleven years ago has no Christians - they have had to flee, after being told to convert or face the sword. It is estimated that 100,000 Christians have since fled Mosul and the surrounding villages of the Nineveh Plains to seek refuge in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq (Ankawa, Dohuk & Erbil). For the first time in 1,600 years no Mass or any Christian service has been celebrated in Mosul since the IS militants forced the Christians to flee. Churches have been detonated and set ablaze, converted to Mosques and all crosses torn down - with ancient tombs desecrated and destroyed.
Thanks to the generosity of the benefactors of the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), these uprooted Iraqi Christians now have access to food, lodging and even schooling. These families have at last been able to leave their makeshift shelters, in camps, public buildings, and especially schools, where they were crowded together, sometimes 20 people to a room.
Fr Halemba, the head of the ACN projects section for this region, explains: "This ancient Christian community, which dates back to biblical times, is in danger of disappearing for ever. They have already suffered so much. Now we have a unique opportunity to help them with what they need to get through these difficult times" The Chaldean archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has thanked all the benefactors of ACN.
Archbishop Nona, who was among the 500,000 people forced to flee in June 2014 from the forces of ISIS, was in charge of the bishops' emergency committee for coordinating the aid relief effort. He wrote at the time: "I am personally grateful to ACN - you have given us new hope". The archbishop, who is now the Eparch of the Chaldean Diocese in Sydney, has called on all people to pray for Iraq. "Please pray for the safety of our people and that no one else will be murdered by the terrorists. And we must also pray for those who are persecuting us and for an end to the evil that seems so strong at this moment".
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has in place an ongoing campaign to support to the work of the Church for the Christians of Iraq and Syria, helping tens of thousands of displaced people fleeing persecution from IS militants.
A donation of whatever you can afford will make a difference to our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering persecution in Iraq and Syria.
You can also call the ACN office on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone or send it via the post.
Persecuted & Forgotten? - A Report on Christians Oppressed for their Faith 2015-2017
The persecution of Christians is worse than at any time in history - but it is being largely ignored by the UN and the international community, according to ACN’s latest report. The new Persecuted and Forgotten? report, concludes that the persecution of Christians reached a high water mark in 2015-17 - with growing attacks on the faithful by Daesh (ISIS), Boko Haram, and other fundamentalist groups. According to the Aid to the Church in Need report, the international community has failed to adequately respond to the needs of Christians attacked by militant extremists.
Persecuted and Forgotten? states: “Governments in the West and the UN failed to offer Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria the emergency help they needed as genocide got underway. If Christian organisations and other institutions had not filled the gap, the Christian presence could already have disappeared in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East." The report also identified growing problems in certain majority Islamic countries and authoritarian states such as Eritrea and North Korea. Report editor John Pontifex said: “In terms of the numbers of people involved, the gravity of the crimes committed and their impact, it is clear that the persecution of Christians is today worse than at any time in history. Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution."
Although the report found in the countries under examination that many faith communities have suffered at the hands of extremists and authoritarian regimes, it concluded Christians have experienced the most hostility and violence. The report supports this claim with a series of examples showing the extent of the problems facing Christians in each of the 13 core countries it assesses in depth - as well as providing an overview of the state of religious freedom for the country’s various denominations. For instance, the report found that members of China’s 127 million-strong Christian population have suffered increased persecution following new attempts to bring Christianity in line with Communist ideals. More than 2,000 churches and crosses have been pulled down in China’s coastal Province of Zhejiang - and clergy are still being routinely detained by authorities.
During the campaign of genocide by Daesh and other Islamist militant groups in the Middle East, Christians were disproportionately affected by the extremists. In Iraq, more than half of the country’s Christian population became internal refugees and Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which until 2011 was home to the largest Christian community, saw numbers dropping from 150,000 to barely 35,000 by spring 2017 - a fall of more than 75 percent. Despite national governments and international organisations having determined that a genocide has taken place, local Church leaders in the Middle East have repeatedly said that they feel forgotten by the international community. A number of bishops in the region have accused the UN of overlooking the needs of displaced Christians, despite pledging to deliver aid “neutrally and impartially".
At a time in the West when there is increasing media focus on the rights of people regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexuality, it is ironic that in much of the secular media there should be such limited coverage of the massive persecution experienced by so many Christians. The pervasive nature of persecution and evidence implicating regimes with whom the West has close trading and strategic links mean that it behoves our governments to use their influence to stand up for minorities, especially Christians. No longer should Christians be sacrificed on the altar of strategic expediency and economic advantage.
To read the Executive Summary of the report click HERE
To view a video about the report click HERE
Religious Freedom in the World - Report 2016
The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report, produced by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, warns of the global impact of "a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence", which it terms "Islamist hyper-extremism".
The full report - complete with continent analysis - is available only on the web.
To view a short video about the report click HERE
The help ACN provides for religious sisters around the world
For many people, women religious are the visible face of the Catholic Church. Around the world they are responsible for a whole range of vital pastoral and social initiatives. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the service they render. Frequently they work, without remuneration, in places where no one else wishes to go or help. They belong to many different religious communities and congregations - charitable, contemplative and missionary. Around the world these women care, quite literally, for everyone and everything - for children and adults, for orphans, the sick and the dying, for those who are lost and for those who seek, for the victims, the violated, the traumatised.
Despite the numerous challenges and difficult conditions, the number of callings in Africa has grown by 28% and in Asia by 18% over the last years. This extraordinary growth of professed sisters has given rise to increasing requests from novitiates world-wide to ACN in support of formation and professional training.
ACN over the last ten years, has provided over $16.6 million for contemplative sisters, $71 million to active sisters and $3 million for the formation of novices.
Pakistan: A security wall for the minor seminary in the diocese of Islamabad
Attacks against Christians are a regular occurrence in Pakistan today. Almost every priest in the country has at some time received anonymous threatening phone calls or letters. Even the bishops of the country receive threatening letters, demanding that they convert to Islam. Attacks on churches and Church properties are frequent and increasing - and sometimes they are much more serious than simply stone throwing. There have also been suicide attacks, bomb attacks, armed attacks, arson attacks and assaults by angry mobs. The danger of such attacks is a constant one. Many churches are under police protection, and the government has required the Church to take increased security measures.
In 1995 the diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi opened a minor seminary in Lalazar, where young men who are contemplating a vocation to the priesthood undergo a preliminary three years of training, before entering the major seminary. At present there are 22 young seminarians living and studying at Our Lady of Lourdes Minor Seminary” and being introduced to the spiritual life.
The seminary is already surrounded by a wall, which has however collapsed in places, so that unauthorieed persons can easily gain access to the grounds. In a country like Pakistan, where terrorism and violence are everywhere, this is a great danger, particularly for the members of the embattled Christian minority. And so the wall needs to be repaired and rebuilt and made higher and stronger, so that it can protect those within. But unfortunately the seminary itself, which has been standing for over 20 years now, has also had to have some essential repair and renovation work done in recent years. And so the diocese has turned to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for help to rebuild and reinforce the seminary enclosure wall. ACN has promised a grant of $27,000 to help this cause.
The vital work of Catholic charities like Aid to the Church In Need provide a lifeline to the Church wherever she is poor, persecuted or threatened. Please help our work by donating online or send your donation to Aid to the Church in Need, PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153. Ph: (02) 9679-1929
Click here for past weeks' featured projects
Catholic News: Reports for you to read about the work of Aid to the Church in NeedPlease note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (AAR) to view these reports. You can download AAR free of charge from the net by going to the Adobe website. To open a report simple click on the cover of the report you are interested in.
ACN is unique from other Catholic Charities as it offers pastoral assistance and Catholic news to the Church wherever she is poor or suffering under Christian persecution.
Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153 ABN: 62 418 911 594
Ph/Fax (02) 9679-1929 e-mail: email@example.com web: www.aidtochurch.org