“I get back a lot more than I give!” - Interview with Sister Medhin Tesfay (Ethiopia)

11.03.2019 by Eva-Maria Kolmann

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state in East Africa; Christianity has been established there for almost 2000 years. At about 43 per cent, the majority of the population is Orthodox Christian, but Islam is on the rise at 34 per cent. The Catholic Church only arrived on the territory of what is today Ethiopia in the 19th century. Its members are only a minority at one per cent of the population. In spite of this, the Church plays a very important role in the educational system and is active in caring for the poor, which has given it an esteemed position in society.

Sister Medhin Tesfay (44) has belonged to the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul (Vincentians) for 26 years and works in the diocese of Adigrat in the northern part of Ethiopia. She talked about her work and her vocation with the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The interview was held by Eva-Maria Kolmann.

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Sister Tesfay Medhin. Photographer Ursula Walach Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

The Sisters of the Congregation Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) in Pakistan

  • Founded in 1914 in Italy by Fr. Giacomo Alberione
  • Fr. Alberione understood the ever increasing influence of the media and wanted to use the media as a means of evangelisation
  • The charism of the Daughters of St. Paul is the proclamation via the mass media. They have libraries, edit and print Christian books and use other means of mass communications (radio, magazines etc.)
  • There are about 2.500 sisters in 50 countries of the world.
  • Despite representing less than two percent in a country populated almost entirely by Muslims, there are at least 1.1 million Catholics in Pakistan, a figure comparable with the number of practising Catholics for example in Great Britain. Up to 85 percent of the Christian population live in villages, mostly as “bonded labour” entirely dependent on urban-based landlords often incited by militant forms of Islam. When job vacancies arise, preference automatically goes to Muslims. When the Christians do get jobs – mostly as farm labourers, domestic cooks and cleaners and road sweepers – pay is woefully poor. Child labour is commonplace – parents can’t afford education and daren’t spare them from the workplace for fear of the landlord docking their pay. Lacking identity cards and the right to vote, they have virtually no political representation. Nor do they have any legitimate access to health care.
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Daughters of Sant Paul Congregation in Pakistan: The sisters selling religious literature outside in the Diocese of Lahore. Photographer Bartek Zytkowiak. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Iraq longs for better times for his Church and his people

Archbishop Petros Mouche heads the Syriac-Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which was captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014. Today, with ISIS ousted from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, Christian communities are slowly coming back to life. Thousands of Iraqi faithful, having spent upwards of three years in exile in Kurdistan, have resettled in their former homes, villages and towns. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Mouche—who also oversees the Syriac-Catholic Church in Kirkuk and Kurdistan—takes stock of the situation:

The positive change that has occurred in our region—no one can deny it. Things may not yet be at the required level, but there are very clear and concrete signs of progress. But no credit goes to the state: credit belongs to the faith-based and humanitarian organizations that rushed in to support us.

ACN 20170928 61767 Easy ResizeSyriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul in Iraq. Photographer/Author: Christian Gennari. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

Stand together for Religious Freedom: Symposium in Rome

On Wednesday (April 3) a symposium took place in Rome hosted by the Ambassador of the USA to the Holy See: It was titled: “Stand together to defend international religious freedom”.

The event was organized by the “Standtogether Project”. Speakers included: Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State and the USA Ambassador Gingrich.

ACN had been invited to be part of the symposium and was represented by Alessandro Monteduro, the National Director of the Italian office emphasized in his speech that “We cannot and don't want to be an accomplice of indifference toward persecuted Christians” Watch highlights of the symposium below:

Alessandro Monteduro


INDIA: Increase in violent attacks against Christian minorities

Interview with Mons. Theodore Mascarenhas, 12.04.2019
by Maria Lozano

India has just begun its electoral process, which will take place in seven separate stages between 11 April and 19 May this year. Fears that this, the most populous democracy in the world, might end up becoming a theocratic Hindu nation have strengthened recently, in light of the fact that the Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata (BJP) and its president Narendra Modi are seeking a second mandate. During its present term in office there has been an increase in interreligious violence, according to the report on Religious Freedom Worldwide by the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International). The figures speak for themselves: in 2016 a total of 86 people were killed and 2371 injured in 703 separate incidents of sectarian (Hindu fundamentalist) violence; in 2017 the figures were 111 killed and 2384 wounded in 822 separate reported incidents.

The most recent attack - on March 26 - took place in Tamil Nadu against a Catholic school, the Little Flower Higher Secondary School in Chinnasalem, when a crowd of Hindu fundamentalists smashed up the school and even attempted to strangle the religious sisters who were running the school. ACN journalist Maria Lozano interviewed Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Auxiliary Bishop of Ranchi and Secretary General of the Indian Bishops’ Conference and asked him about the elections and the gravity of this recent incident.

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A picture from The Night of Witnesses organized by ACN France (23-29 March) Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of INDIA (CBCI)  with Bishop Fridolin Ambongo, bishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the CONGO. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need. Photographer: François-Régis Salefran.

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