Australian Cathedrals were first around the World to light up for #RedWednesday

Yesterday evening (Wednesday 20 November) several Australian Cathedrals were the first in the world (thanks to Australia’s time zone difference) to launch Red Wednesday 2019, by lighting up their facades in red light. They will be joined throughout the week by thousands of other Cathedrals, Church buildings and monuments around the world (in London, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Prague and Washington D.C. to name just a few) who will also participate in the Aid to the Church in Need initiative.

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Red Wednesday at St Mary's Cathedral 2019. Photograph by Patrick J Lee. Copyright: The Catholic Weekly.

Murdered as they visited a Church - Armenian Priest and his Father gunned down in Qamishli
Today we received the sad news that Father Hovsep Bidoyan of the Armenian Catholic Church in Qamishli was killed on the morning of the 11th of November. His biological father was accompanying him to visit the Armenian Catholic Church in Deir Ezzor. Both were killed by gunmen at the entrance of the Church. The gunmen came by motorcycle. The murder took place in Al-Shaheel area on the road between Al-Hassake and Deir Alzor.
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Murdered priest: Father Hovsep Bidoyan of the Armenian Catholic Church with Syrian Children at a prayer day to pray for peace in Syria. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

SOUTH SUDAN: “I was ready for this new mission”

The Catholic Church is currently observing an Extraordinary Missionary Month. The missionary work of the Church is often performed under difficult conditions: in the midst of persecution, poverty and war.

This is especially true for South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of casualties, millions of refugees – the country has been left in a desolate state by the civil war that broke out in 2013, at a time when the African country of South Sudan was only in its second year, and lasted until the cease-fire last year. This is how the situation was described by Father Boniface Isenge from the centrally located diocese of Rumbek during a visit to the headquarters of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need.

According to Father Boniface, about 38 per cent of the approximately 13 million South Sudanese are Christians. About 180,000 Catholics live in his diocese. He said that many even consider the Catholic Church to be the only functioning institution in the country. As a young priest, the Spiritan first lived in neighbouring Ethiopia for eight years before he decided to go to South Sudan in 2013. “After the country gained independence, my order was urgently looking for priests and missionaries to work here. I wanted to do something new and was ready for this new mission,” Father Boniface recalled. He sees it as his calling to bring peace to this war-torn region.

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Father Boniface Isenge from South Sudan speaks to ACN in October 2019. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

The crisis in Nicaragua is posing a threat to vocations to the priesthood

by Josué Villalón

The inter-diocesan seminary of Our Lady of Fatima in Managua has had to be reorganised as a result of the conflict that is shaking the country.

Nicaragua is going through a grave social and political crisis which has left hundreds of people dead, as a result of the harsh repression by police and paramilitary groups close to President Daniel Ortega. The crisis is slowly creating a climate of economic instability that is growing steadily worse, month by month. The Catholic Church in Nicaragua is a crucial factor in achieving a peaceful solution to the conflict, but this has not left her immune to threats and violent attacks or from suffering, along with her people, as a result of the economic crisis.

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Ordination in Matagalpa November 2018. Photographer Marisol Castañeda. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

PAKISTAN: Human traffickers prey on Christian girls drawn by false promises

by Sanawar Salam

In Pakistan, arranged marriage is a common practice. Human trafficking groups regularly take advantage of the custom to pose as "matchmakers" for Chinese men. They entrap Christian girls-and their often very poor families-with the promise of a secure future and a husband who supposedly will provide every luxury. But once the girls are married and moved to China, they face severe, repeated abuse and the loss of personal autonomy. For a time this is how Mehak Parvez lived, but she managed to escape. She agreed to tell her story to Aid to the Church in Need:

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Portrait of Mehak Pervaz who was trafficked to China.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

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