Nigeria, April 2018. Mrs Blessing Stephen (left) with Goodwin, Emmanuelle, Miracle, Father Alexander Yeyock, Mrs Evelyn Martins and son, Humble, Asso village. © Aid to the Church in Need

Bishops: President should resign for inaction over Nigeria’s ‘killing fields and mass graveyard’

Nigeria’s bishops have issued a formal statement calling on the President to “consider stepping aside” and accusing the government of security failures which they blame for the murder of 17 Christians including two priests.

Father Joseph Gor, Father Felix Tyolaha and 15 parishioners were killed during a funeral Mass in Mbalom, Benue State by gunmen, with reports that about 30 Fulani militants waited for the faithful to gather at the church before attacking. They also burned down about 50 homes in the area. Condemning the “rampaging and murderous terrorists”, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issued a formal statement, asking: “…how can the federal government stand back while its security agencies deliberately turn a blind eye to the cries and wails of helpless and armless citizens who remain sitting ducks in their homes, farms, highway and now, even in their sacred places of worship?”

Syria March 2018 The group of volunteers with Father Walid Iskandafy in Marmarita, Valley of the Christians © Aid to the Church in Need

The eleven of Marmarita: young volunteers coordinate aid for 2,000 families displaced by the war in Syria Several of the volunteers are themselves displaced persons, but do not hesitate to help others: “What motivates us is Jesus” ACN (Josué Villalón, Marmarita). Eleven young people make up the team of volunteers of the parish centre of St. Peter, the Greek Catholic church in Marmarita, which is located in the heart of the Valley of Christians, a region in Syria close to the Lebanese border. Many of the people in this region were displaced by the war and came here from all over Syria: Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, etc. This team of volunteer workers coordinates the distribution of the aid that is donated to about 2,000 families each month by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Bosnia And Herzegowina, June 2011 40 Youth Day of the Archidiocese of Sarajevo in Kondzaj/Komusina Project trip of Sanja Krsnik and Magda Kaczmarek© Aid to the Church in Need

Bosnia and Herzegovina: “Open war against the Catholic church” The guns have been silent in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 23 years. However, according to Bishop Franjo Komarica, the country is like a powder keg. Head of the diocese of Banja Luka in the northern part of the country, the 72-year-old does not believe in beating about the bush, particularly when the discussion turns to the Catholic Croat minority. He believes that Catholic Croats are still being kept from returning and that they are disadvantaged economically, socially and religiously. He is making serious charges against the governments of Europe: they are turning a blind eye to the religious discrimination. In an interview with Tobias Lehner during a visit to the headquarters of the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Germany, Bishop Komarica discusses why a growing number of Catholics are leaving the country, but how, in spite of everything, the church is living reconciliation.

Germany, Könistein 17.04.2018 Blessing and inauguration of ACN's refurbished headquarters by Mauro Cardinal Piacenza (International Aid to the Church in Need President): Cardinal Mauro Piacenza - prayer before the blessing of the refurbished headquarters © Aid to the Church in Need

The new Executive President of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Thomas Heine-Geldern, said he intends to continue his predecessor’s approach –including trusting in God for the success of the charity’s work.

The appointment of Mr Heine-Geldern, who previously served as president of the board of ACN’s Austrian office, was publicly announced during a ceremony held at the charity’s International Headquarters in Königstein, near Frankfurt, Germany. Paying tribute to outgoing Executive President Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck, Mr Heine-Geldern said his predecessor’s “faith, drive, cheerful equanimity and trust in God” will be a model for his leadership of the charity. In his short address, Mr Heine-Geldern spoke about the “role of ACN as a bridge of love and prayer”, describing how the charity unites the worldwide community of benefactors and its project partners in more than 140 countries. Mr Heine-Geldern added that this means each benefactor can be a partner in evangelisation while continuing to live their everyday life. He said that faith and professionalism are the tools the charity must use to pursue its objective: “to act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God”. He described the the charity as a family, when speaking about how the 23 national offices work together with the International headquarters in Königstein.

Devastation in Syria March 2018 © Aid to the Church in Need

“We want and we need peace. Please pray for us!”, an appeal from Syria by Archbishop Jean-Abdo Arbach.

The Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Homs, Mons. Jean-Arbach, has issued a message tinged with weariness and sadness at the current situation in Syria, after seven years of war and the most recent events. “People cannot take any more”, he says. “They simply want to live an ordinary life, to sleep peacefully in their beds and wake and go to work, and not to the sound of falling bombs. It is enough, it is too much.” Speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), he asked the charity to pray for them. “We need prayers, prayers and more prayers. It is the only thing that can bring us unity in this country”, he repeated, recalling that Pope Francis has also called for us to pray for the situation in Syria which – as he himself explained – is not simply about this country, but has now crossed international frontiers, so that the whole world needs peace. “What was the point of this war?”, he asked. "Everything has been destroyed, there are millions of refugees… If only the politicians of the world would work for peace and not for war” he repeated despairingly.

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