“It is like amputating one of the Church’s arms” says Catholic priest, in response to the forced occupation and closure of Catholic-run health facilities by the Eritrean military

by Tobias Lehner.

“The purpose of the brutal actions of the Eritrean government was to divest the Church of all services in the areas of education and health. Our work is to be restricted only to our places of worship,” the Catholic priest Mussie Zerai explained to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Father Zerai lives in Rome and coordinates the pastoral work for Eritrea and communities in Europe. Which are on the rise: thousands of people are leaving their homeland each year.

Their numbers may grow even larger now after the brutal actions carried out by the government of the northeast African country against Christian facilities: in mid-June, the Eritrean military forcibly occupied and closed 21 hospitals and medical facilities run by the Church. The patients were more or less thrown out of their beds. The military smashed windows and doors and pressured the staff, Father Zerai said. He reported that the director of a hospital in northern Eritrea, a Franciscan sister, was even arrested when she resisted the closure.

A Message from National Director Mr Bernard Toutounji

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Dear friends,

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Greetings. Thank you to those of you who were able to offer support in our last mailing. Many benefactors made a gift in return for a set of the beautiful commemorative rosary beads, inspired by Notre Dame in Paris. This Mirror makes numerous mentions of that tragic fire, and so we have made available again those same beads for those who missed out and are able to make an offering. 

We are now half way through the year and requests for pastoral help from the suffering Church continue to come in from around the world; if you have not been able to do so yet this year, could I be so bold as to beg from you an offering, any offering, in the coming weeks?

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Anyone giving a donation of $25.00 or more can opt in to receive this moving tribute, a set of rosary beads featuring the Notre Dame Cathedral in France. The Rosary beads have been blessed by Pope Francis.
Call 1800 101 201 to make a donation and to receive your gift. Two colours are available blue and white. While stocks last.

India: Religious minorities worried about election results

The parliamentary elections in India ended a few days ago. The nationalist ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprisingly won the world's largest democratic election - nearly 900 million voters. According to a source close to the Church, “the victory of Modi is a source of frustration and fear to the minorities in India.”

“The five years with Narendra Modi in power have brought many concerns and been extremely difficult for us. We are fearful that the next five years to come will be still worse.” This was the reaction of one source who spoke to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation ACN, but who prefers to remain anonymous for reasons of security.

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Above - Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

“The fact that the Hindu nationalist BJP party has won so overwhelmingly is a warning signal for us, since it shows that Hindu nationalism is growing and the minorities – both the Christians and the Muslims – often find ourselves abandoned in the face of social injustice and discriminated against even quite openly for religious reasons. But also because the Indian economy has been going downhill in recent years and the poor are now even poorer than before. The poorest classes are being overlooked and the rich are the only ones who have benefited”, the same source explained.

Tunisia: Our mission here is to bear witness

The ancient city of Carthage, in the era of the Phoenicians – where modern Tunis stands today – was the city that saw the greatest number of martyrs of the Church after Rome. Now, in the 21st century, it has become a “very fragile” Church, according to Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis. He was speaking in an interview with Maria Lozano, during a visit to the international headquarters of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).

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Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi from Tunisia during his visit at ACN in Königstein 10.05.2019
Photographer: Maria Lozano. Copyright Status: Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Year in Review: ACN raises over $175M to Help Persecuted, Suffering Church around the World

THROUGH ITS 23 national offices, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) raised over AUD $175M in donations in 2018. The organization’s more than 330,000 donors enabled ACN to fund more than 5,000 pastoral projects to support the persecuted and suffering Church in 139 countries.

The resources raised, thanks to the generous donations of its more than 330,000 private benefactors around the world, have enabled the charity to fund no fewer than 5,019 pastoral projects in some 139 different countries.

“We are deeply moved by the generosity of our benefactors all over the world”, commented Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International, at the formal presentation of the charity’s Annual Report. “Once again their sacrifices and their faith have moved mountains!”

Bernard Toutounji, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Australia added: "I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to every benefactor; those who sent $5 and those who sent $5000. This work of ours, in support of the suffering Church, is not (and never has been) just about raising money. ACN brings into one spiritual family, those who support the projects and those who receive the help. We pray every day for our benefactors, and we give thanks especially for the way they have responded and continue to respond. Together we are keeping the faith alive."

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Children from the parish of Preketé in Benin had been baptised by Mgr Paul K. Vieira during his last visit. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

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