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.
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
"Persecuted and Forgotten?" 2015 Edition - ACN Report on Christians oppressed for their faith
CHRISTIANITY looks set to disappear from key parts of the Middle East, according to the latest report compiled the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) which highlights a worsening cycle of persecution. Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-15,concludes that if the exodus of faithful from Iraq continues at existing levels, the faithful could all but disappear within five years and that a faster rate of attrition is noted in Syria whose faithful have reportedly plummeted from 1.25 million in 2011 to as few as 500,000 today. The report states that the loss of Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere represents a blow to community relations as the faithful have acted as bridge-builders in increasingly fragmented societies.
Assessing 20 countries where persecution is severe, ACN's Persecuted and Forgotten? report describes what it calls a "religiously motivated ethnic cleansing" of Christians by Islamist terror groups especially in Iraq and Syria but also in parts of Africa. Examining countries of core concern in the Middle East and elsewhere such as China, Egypt, Eritrea, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Sudan, and Vietnam, Persecuted and Forgotten? draws on eye-witness reports and testimonies. The report concludes that since 2013 the situation for Christians has worsened in 15 of the 19 core countries under review. In 10 countries - more than half - the persecution is ranked "extreme" - up four from the last edition of Persecuted and Forgotten? report which covered 2011-13.
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.
Ranking Islamism as the greatest threat, the 2015 Persecuted and Forgotten? report also highlights growing problems caused by other extremist religious groups - militant forms of Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism - with attacks increasing in number and ferocity. Totalitarian regimes, notably China, have put increasing pressure on the Church, according to the report, with severe threats facing Christians in Eritrea and Vietnam. The report notes that in many cases Christians are persecuted not so much because of their faith but because of their perceived links with the West and a view associating the faithful with colonialism.
In the report's foreword, Archbishop Jeanbart from Syria writes: "We are confronting one of the most important challenges of our 2,000 year history. Despite our problems here in the Middle East, we are doing everything we can to help those who lack food, clothes, or other essentials. By God's grace, and with the continuing help of organisations including Aid to the Church in Need, we have been able to respond to the urgent needs of our people."
Religious liberty as a fundamental human right is often neglected by world public opinion, 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 support and pray for them.
To read the whole report click HERE (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report)
To read the Executive Summary of the report click HERE
Persecution mapped out. To view a world map of where persecution is worsening for Christians click HERE
To view a 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.
Brazil: Help for the training of 16 seminarians in the Brazilian Amazon region
Perhaps the best-known figure in the Catholic Church in this region was until recently the Italian missionary Father Paolino Baldassarri, who worked for almost 70 years in Brazil, most of this time in the Amazon region. He died on 8th April 2016 at the age of 90, already acclaimed as a saint by the people. Even at the age of almost 90 he continued to travel long journeys deep into the rainforest in his simple boat, in order to minister to the people. He always wore a life jacket and motorcycle helmet on these journeys, for he could not even swim. Even at this advanced age he also continued to practise as a doctor, treating and helping innumerable people.
When he first arrived in the region, almost half a century ago, he almost succumbed to malaria in his very first week. But miraculously he survived and soon began visiting the riverside settlements in the rainforest in a simple wooden canoe. Owing to the shortage of priests, many families had more or less abandoned their Catholic faith, and Father Paolino brought them back to it. By the time he died, the people in his parish were 100% Catholics. In one of his letters he wrote that in these isolated jungle communities “the seed of the Kingdom of God is real, which in the towns is concealed by our notions of enlightenment and progress and our dominant and all-powerful television.”
His example shows just how vital is the presence of priests among the people and what good fruits their ministry can produce. And yet it is becoming harder and harder to find missionaries from abroad. For one thing, most of the religious communities in the Western nations are experiencing fewer and fewer vocations, but on the other, Dom Joaquín Pertíñez Fernández, the Bishop of Rio Branco is also very conscious that what is needed is native Brazilian priests, who are accustomed to the challenging conditions of the rainforest regions.
At the present time there are 16 young men from his diocese who are training for the priesthood. The diocese is poor and so Bishop Joaquín has turned to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) for help. ACN have promised to assist Bishop Joaquín with a grant of $9,600.
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