With creativity and trust in God against the crisis

ACN supports Church work during the Coronavirus pandemic

COVID-19 is not only a medical, social and economic problem but also a pastoral one. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the international pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need has received many statements of solidarity from project partners all over the world, but also learned of growing hardships and the heroic efforts of priests and religious in the battle against Coronavirus. In response, the aid organisation has initiated a special programme to promote these efforts. Tobias Lehner spoke with Regina Lynch, project director at ACN, about current relief initiatives and the efforts of the Church during the COVID-19 crisis.

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Regina Lynch, Project Director at Aid to the Church in Need.
Photographer: Ilona Budzbon.

Christian girl, 14, abducted during lockdown

Maira forced to wed kidnapper and renounce her faith

by John Pontifex.

A mother in Pakistan has spoken of her distress after a man struck while the country was in lockdown, abducting the woman’s 14-year-old daughter, forcing her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith.

100th anniversary of the birth of Pope Saint John Paul II – ACN remains faithful to his legacy to this day.

Pope John Paul II made history during his lifetime and became one of the giants of the 20th century – both in the history of the Church and of the wider world. In his early years he was a media star, and in the subsequent and final years a veritable martyr, when it became clear that he would defend the truth without compromise, yet with love. Likewise unwavering, profoundly committed and historic in their dimensions were the projects he promoted and which on so many occasions the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) has made its own.

“Pope John Paul II is a friend of our charity”, wrote Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of ACN. “We know him as a man of great courage, unwavering in his faith and with a filial love for the Virgin Mary. God willing, under his guidance may the resurrection of the Lord become a resurrection of the Church.” The 18th of May this year will mark the 100th anniversary of his birth. Today ACN continues to commend its activities to the intercession of Saint John Paul II.

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Pope John Paul II. with Fr. Werenfried, June 1985
Photo credit: LIDO SANTONI (Italy/Rome).

Ricardo’s dream - The church in Havana, dedicated to Saint John Paul II, is now in its final phase

As Ricardo Mínguez speaks, his eyes start to fill with tears as he recalls the hardships and sufferings they have been through in the past. They have been waiting for over 25 years for this, and many of those who embarked on this venture “have left the country or are already no longer with us”, says this elderly Cuban gentleman, marked by the years and the wrinkles on his face that speak of a lifetime filled with sufferings. Ricardo is speaking about the Catholic community in the suburb of Antonio Guiteras, a community of around one hundred individuals that was first formed in 1993 in the back yard of a private home in this suburb on the outskirts of Havana, one of the most rapidly growing suburbs since the Cuban revolution and which today numbers around 30,000 inhabitants.

Conquered hate with love: 70 years of the “Miracle of Vinkt”

On 27 May 1940, the village of Vinkt, located near the Belgian city of Ghent, was the scene of one of the great crimes committed on the Western front during World War II. Eighty-six civilians were executed during a massacre carried out by German troops. Dutch Premonstratensian Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of the charity Aid to the Church in Need, recognised the dangers of a Europe divided by hate and dedicated his life to restoring love. Also in Vinkt, where ten years after the disastrous events, something worth remembering happened.

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 Father Werenfried during one of his homilies. Historical picture. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

World War II had come to an end. As agreed upon by the victorious powers at the Yalta Conference and in the Potsdam Agreement, fourteen million Germans were driven out of the eastern provinces beginning in 1945. In western Germany, the majority of the displaced persons, among them six million Catholics, lived under inhumane conditions in bunkers or camps. The suffering of the millions of displaced persons reminded Father Werenfried van Straaten, a Premonstratensian priest born in 1913 in Mijdrecht in the Netherlands, of the story of the Nativity, when there was no room at the inn for the Holy Family because “their people” had no love.

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