MADAGASCAR : Pope Francis to visit this large island nation, teetering on the edge of the abyss

In a country ravaged by poverty, corruption and entrenched attitudes, the visit of the Holy Father is good news for its people, 58% of whom are Christians.

by Thomas Oswald.

In the diocesan grounds of  Soamandrakizay, in Androhibe on the southern fringes of the capital Antananarivo, the authorities are preparing a vast 60-hectare site for the great outdoor Mass which will be celebrated by Pope Francis on Sunday, 8 September 2019. This will be the first visit to the island by a Pope since the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1989.

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Completion of a parish church completed with support from Aid to the Church in Need. Blessed by Victoire Rasomana. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need. Photographer Razouka R.

MAURITIUS: "The Pope will unifiy the mosaic of people that make up our island"

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On September 9, 2019 Pope Francis will be the second Pope to set foot on the soil of Mauritius, 30 years after Saint John Paul II. During this papal journey, in the course of his visit to the churches of the Indian Ocean, the Pope will meet not only with Christians, but with Hindus and Muslims as well, who also make up part of Mauritian society.

The island of Mauritius is a tiny country of some 730 square miles (18 65 km²) – around a quarter the size of the island of Corsica, yet with four times the number of inhabitants. It is unusual in that it has no endemic population, but is inhabited today by Africans, Europeans and Indians. The religious makeup of the country also reflects this ethnic diversity, including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. It is a mixture of different characteristics which makes it a remarkable place where the local communities generally live in harmony, to the evident delight of Father Alexis Wiehe, a native of the island who is currently in charge of the cathedral parish in the city of Toulon, in France, but will be back on the island in September. “There are some tensions at times, certainly, but generally we get along well”, he says with evident satisfaction. “Our little island society could even be cited as an example of amicable relations between the different communities”, he adds.

Image caption: Father Alexis Wiehe with Bishop Dominique Rey (Toulon, France) in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegowina. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

This Fathers Day Navy

ACN 20180524 71711 Mass3

It is a beautiful and ancient Catholic tradition to have a Mass said for a loved one, especially on an occasion like Father's Day. Your Mass offering will support a poor priest overseas and 100% of the Mass stipend is forwarded to the priest (no administration costs are taken). The priest will then say Mass for your intentions. 

 Christians in Pakistan living between hope and fear

by Matthias Böhnke

The Catholic Church in Pakistan is important for the country, says Reinhard Backes. He recently visited Pakistan for the fourth time as permanent section leader of the Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), in order to inform himself about the situation of the Christians and the projects that ACN supports. “With more than 200 million inhabitants, Pakistan is in sixth place on the list of the most populous countries,” he explained on his return. “Although the overwhelming majority of the population are Muslims and only some two per cent are Christians, they still amount to at least three million people in the country.”

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A visit to St. John Paul II Parish in Zia Mosque area Pakistan. Photographer: Reinhard Backes
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

In Pakistan, a Catholic widow cries out for justice in wake of husband’s murder

by Sanawar Salam

Lubna Safdar is a young Catholic widow in Sarghoda, in the Punjab province of Pakistan. She is the mother of a two-year-old son, Sharon. She told Aid to the Church in Need about her suffering in the wake of the murder of her husband, Safdar Masih, and the failure of authorities to launch a timely investigation of the crime—evidence of the second-class status of Christians in the country. Christians in Pakistan are mostly very poor and have few opportunities to advance economically; their needs and rights are routinely ignored by authorities, while textbooks in state-run schools denigrate their faith. This is Lubna’s story:

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Failure of authorities to launch a timely investigation of the crime is evidence of the second-class status Christians face in the country.
Image copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.


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