Pope Francis calls on the Catholic faithful to support Aid to the Church in Need's Year of Mercy appeal
Pope Francis has given 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. The Pope personally associated himself with the campaign through a video message, highlighting the work of ACN.
In his message, the Pope calls 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 four-month "Be God's Mercy" campaign include prison ministry, drug rehabilitation centres, support groups for women and help for refugees. In his video message, the Pope says: "I am entrusting these works to Aid to the Church in Need."
The very first benefactor of the campaign was Pope Francis himself who, prior to a recent visit by an Italian delegation of ACN to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, entrusted a donation to the charity for Iraqi Christians via Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi. The gift of the Pope will 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 the Islamist terror group Islamic State (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.
For more information about the Be God's Mercy Campaign, please consult the multi-language website www.acnmercy.org
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.
Help Religious Sisters - the unsung heroines in the Church!
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 Mother Teresa Rosary Beads. This beautiful rosary carries the following inscriptions on reverse side of the crucifix and central medal: A little pencil in the hand of God and It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do. The colours of the rosary beads represent the simple white sari worn by Mother Teresa and the blue, her devotion to the Virgin Mary.
To receive the complimentary Mother Teresa rosary and to support this cause, please click on this link. You can also call the ACN office on 02 9679-1929 and give your donation over the phone.
"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
Religious Freedom in the World - Report 2016
The Religious Freedom in theWorld 2016 report, produced by 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.
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.
Bangladesh: Success Story: We helped to build a new parish house
There was great joy among the Catholics of Bangladesh when, on 9th October Pope Francis announced the name of Archbishop Patrick D'Rozario of Dhaka among the list of new cardinals in the Church. In this overwhelmingly Muslim country, Catholics make up only a tiny minority of just 0.2%, and in recent months and years Christians and members of other religious minorities have increasingly been the target of attacks by extremists. For example, in November 2015 the Italian missionary Father Piero Parolari only narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. In July 2016 some 20 foreigners were murdered by Islamist terrorists who took them hostage in a restaurant in the capital Dhaka. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamist terror group "Islamic State" and there are a growing number of similar attacks on Christians Hindus and Buddhists.
But despite this, the Catholic faithful will not allow themselves to be intimidated and in this Year of Mercy especially, they have taken the opportunity to confront the violence and terrorism with pardon and forgiveness.
During this Holy Year the Catholic Church in Bangladesh has opened three Holy Doors. One of them is in the church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Hashnabad, within the Archdiocese of Dhaka. There are around 3,000 Catholics in this parish; their faith is strong and they play an active part in the life of the Church. The parish church was built in the 1770's by Portuguese missionaries and is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the country. It was renovated not long ago in 2002. However, the adjoining presbytery, which was built 150 years ago, was in a very dilapidated state - so poor that it was at risk of collapsing at any moment. It was too dangerous to live in and so the only thing to do was to demolish it. Thanks to the generosity of the benefactors of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a grant of $21,000 was given towards the cost of building a new parish house. This new centre, a two-storey building, provides living and working accommodation for the priests, offices for the parish secretariat, guestrooms, a meeting room for various purposes and a kitchen and refectory as well. To the joy of the priests and parishioners, this new building has now already been blessed and commissioned. They all want to express their heartfelt thanks to all who helped them, and promise their prayers for all our benefactors.
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