ACN Australia Launches National Emergency Appeal for Lebanon

ACN Australia has launched a national emergency appeal for Lebanon, requesting prayers for victims and their families, and raising funds in the wake of the deadly explosion in Beirut on the 4th of August, which has killed at least 135 people, injured 5000 and decimated the capital city. The funds raised will be used to support the most urgent needs in Lebanon (such as emergency food packages) but they will also respond to the physical and spiritual needs that arise in the coming weeks, months and years.

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The funds will target poor families worst affected by the blast which devastated the port area of the Lebanese capital when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse exploded. An emergency help of AUD $412,000 is being rushed to Beirut from ACN International in order to immediately support the people.

Speaking from Beirut, ACN project partner Father Raymond Abdo told the charity: “The explosion felt like an atomic bomb with red smoke everywhere and huge damage.”

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Huge clouds of red smoke engulfed the sky in Beirut when 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Statement by the Catholic charity ACN International on the Turkish government's decision to allow Hagia Sophia to be reconverted into a mosque

The executive president of ACN International, Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, has issued the following statement concerning the Turkish government‘s decision to allow Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to be used as a mosque:

"ACN views the proposed reconversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque with grave concern. Once again a religious issue is being exploited for the purpose of consolidating internal political power. Turkish President Erdogan is apparently attempting to improve his personal popularity ratings by means of this measure, which has been widely criticised around the world, while at the same time diverting attention from the internal problems of his own country.

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Executive President of Aid to the Church in Need International, Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern. Photographer: Irmina Nockiewicz. Copyright Author.

Turkey: nationalism is behind the Hagia Sophia affair

On 10 July, in a speech to the nation, President Erdoğan announced that the ancient Basilica of Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, would be reopened for Muslim worship on 24 July. In his address, he stressed that Turkey had the “sovereign right” to convert the monumental complex into a mosque. Turkey’s Council of State, which had been asked to rule on Erdoğan’s request, overturned a decree issued on 24 November 1934 by then-president, Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), who had ordered that Hagia Sophia be turned into a museum. In 1453, after Constantinople’s fall to the Ottomans, the basilica had been turned into a mosque.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) once more spoke with Étienne Copeaux, a historian specialising in modern-day Turkey, to get his thoughts about this decision. A former resident researcher at the French Institute of Anatolian Studies (l’Institut français d’études anatoliennes) in Istanbul, and a former researcher at the National Scientific Research Centre (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in Paris, he runs the Susam-Sosak blog, focused on Turkey. The interview was conducted by Christophe Lafontaine.

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Hagia Sofia - Interior pictures. Photographer: Maria Lozano. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Rest in Peace - Archbishop Moses Costa - Bangladesh

Dear friends in Christ,

You may remember a short time ago we asked you for prayers for Archbishop Moses Costa from Chittagong, Bangladesh, who was in a critical health situation in a hospital in Dhaka, suffering from COVID-19. At the beginning of July Veronique Vogel, head of ACN projects for Bangladesh, was told that Archbishop. Moses Costa was keeping well. He was out of intensive care for more than a week. However, on Friday, 10th July, he developed complications. He had to be put on ventilation and he passed away on July 13 at 9:20 at the Square Hospital.

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Bishop Moses M. Costa C.S.C. (born 17 Nov 1950) Bishop of Chittagong in Bangladesh, 2015. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Syria: the worsening plight of the poorest Christian families in Damascus

by Christophe Lafontaine

“Here in Damascus, everything has become so expensive!” says Sister Joseph-Marie Chanaa. “The worsening plight of the people has forced me to get involved in the social sphere in order to help the poor and the suffering”, she adds – for originally she worked as a catechist.

A member of the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Besançon in France, Sister Joseph-Marie has been working ever since the war in Syria, heading a group of 16 people engaged in helping the poorest Christian families in Damascus – thanks not least to the support from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).

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Help for 105 university students. Sisters of Charity of Besançon: Sister Joseph Marie Chanaa with a group of university students receiving assistance by ACN. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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