Iraq: 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 the jihadist IS forces (Islamic State formerly known as ISIS). Now a city which had up to 60,000 Christians ten 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 to seek refuge in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq (Ankawa, Dohuk & Erbil). For the first time in 1600 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.
Louis Raphael Sako - Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq is co-ordinating the relief campaign to provide emergency help for the Christian and other minorities expelled from their homelands. In a recent plea for help he wrote:
"There are seventy thousand displaced Christians in Ankawa along with the other minorities in this city that has a population of more than twenty-five thousand Christians. The families who found shelter inside the churches or schools are in a rather good condition while those who are still sleeping in the streets and public parks are in a deplorable situation ...”
"In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees amount to more than 60,000 and their situation is worse than those in Erbil... the human needs are escalating: housing, water, medicine and funds... The Churches are offering everything within their capacity."
The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need is helping Patriarch Sako lend support to the work of the Church, 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.
You can also call the ACN office on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone or send it via the post.
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 9,000 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 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 will be sent a complimentary Vatican Rosary blessed by Pope Francis. The Papal rosary features the crucifix from the crozier of Pope John Paul II and a centre medal of Pope Francis and his coat of arms.
To send your online donation please click on this link and select the donation you would like to give. If you would like to receive the complimentary Papal rosary please simply write in the optional Comments box when prompted "For Religious Sisters and Rosary". You can also call the ACN office on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone.
"Persecuted and Forgotten?" 2013 Edition - ACN Report on Christians oppressed for their faith
In many countries the situation of Christians has sharply deteriorated. This is the finding of Persecuted and Forgotten? the 2013 report on Christians oppressed for their Faith. The report examines the situation of Christians in 30 different countries, including Afghanistan, China, Laos, Pakistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. In particular it analyses the situation in a number of majority Islamic countries and in those states whose political systems have a pronounced authoritarian character.
For Christians the so-called "Arab spring" has in many cases become what the report calls a "Christian winter". Although the political upheavals have brought suffering to people of all faith communities, nonetheless it is above all the Christian confessions that have experienced the most open hostility and violence. They have become victims of every kind of political, economic, social and religious conflict - for example the conflicts between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. As a result, a great many Christians have been forced to flee. The report describes the exodus as reaching "almost biblical proportions".
According to the information presented in Persecuted and Forgotten? the influence of fundamentalist Islamist groups has increased markedly in the past two-and-a-half years. They represent possibly the greatest threat to religious freedom in the world today. Their goal is the elimination, or at the very least the subjugation, of Christians. In communist countries to the efforts have increased to exert control over the Christian population. However, in these countries Christians tend to be persecuted above all on account of their contacts with dissidents and with the West, and not so much on account of their faith alone. In North Korea there is no official recognition of any religious activities, while those that are tolerated are strictly controlled. China continues to insist on asserting its authority over all Christian groups, especially over those not registered with the State.
Drawing on the latest Christian persecution reports available and first-hand testimony, Persecuted and Forgotten? describes the struggles faced by Christian communities who are prevented from practicing their faith and living normal lives. It is for these people that Catholic charities like Aid to the Church in Need exist.
Religious liberty as a fundamental human right is being neglected by world public opinion, above all by politicians and the media. And yet religious liberty is one of the most vital preconditions for democracy. You will find no better summary about your fellow Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are persecuted for their faith. Please pray for them.
To read the whole report click HERE (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report)
To read a short one page summary of the report click HERE
Persecution mapped out. To view a world map of where persecution is worsening for Christians click HERE
The report, published every two years, examines the degree of religious freedom in 196 countries worldwide and covers the year 2011 and the major events of the year 2012. Country by country, the study not only covers the Christian faith but all religious minorities suffering persecution or oppression. As a Catholic charity we believe that religious liberty should apply equally to all religious groups who wish to practise their faith without fear or discrimination.
Overall the report finds that the threats to religious freedom are not diminishing. Even if some improvements seem to have emerged at a legislative level, in reality there have been no significant improvements. Countries that once enjoyed relative calm, such as Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria, are now cause for serious concern. Furthermore, the pressure of Islamic extremism on African countries such as Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and Chad, has increased and threatens to destabilize an entire and important area of Africa.
In Pakistan, the anti-blasphemy laws and the hostility towards Christianity within society continue to cause grave damage, both to the legal process and in terms of outright violence (notably, the murder of the Governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer and that of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities and a Catholic). In neighbouring India, so-called 'anti-conversion laws' and the abuses of power that derive from them, now appear to be spreading at a local level in a number of states despite the fact that the national Constitution acknowledges the right to religious freedom.
While the Report concerns all suffering or oppressed religious minorities there is no doubt that Christians are the group most exposed to persecution. This finding is also confirmed by other reports on the subject, including those provided by international organisations. Although the number of Christians of different confessions in difficulty because of legal or cultural structures around the world is not known for sure, last year Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States, estimated these to be more than 200 million.
Egypt: Kidnapped brides
It is a phenomenon that is scarcely known in the West: the kidnapping and rape of Christian women and girls and their forced conversion to Islam. "Before 2011 it affected perhaps six or seven girls in the whole of Egypt. But now the numbers have grown into the thousands," emphasised Said Fayez, a Coptic lawyer and human rights activist, during an interview with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Very young girls are a particular target for radical Muslims. Such as the 14-year-old Nadia Makram. In 2011 she was kidnapped during a church service. Since then, her family have had no contact with her anymore. Although the family know who did it, the police do not help them. "They even warned us not to pursue the matter any further. I must accept that my daughter has been kidnapped," says Nadia's mother, filled with pain. (Pictured is Nadia’s mother holding a photo of her kidnapped daughter)
Kidnapping, forced conversion, female circumcision, social discrimination: Christian women in Egypt face many problems. But the Catholic Church is working on their behalf.
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.
Tunisia: A car for the congregation of the Handmaids of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà
The congregation of the Handmaids of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà is still quite young, having been founded only in 1988 in Argentina. Yet nonetheless it already has 1040 sisters, working in 27 different countries. Since August 2005 the congregation has also been present in Tunisia. Already in the year 100 A.D. this country of northern Africa was an important centre of early Christianity. It was from here, for example, that the two holy martyrs Felicity and Perpetua originated, and also the early Christian writer Tertullian who lived from approximately 150-220 A.D. He is in fact the author of the famous statement: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church".
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