Argentina: Support for 38 religious sisters in the poorest diocese of the country

For Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), suffering and need were never an abstract problem. For him it was always about the individual, a person with a face and a name, a child of God. It is easy to feel no personal involvement with a statistic, and a mere number means little to us. But the fate of an individual person with a face and a name is not so easy to distance ourselves from, for it touches us inwardly, is a direct appeal to us personally. On his many travels around the world Father Werenfried encountered so many people living in poverty and destitution, in whom he saw God himself as weeping. They had names - Anna, Pablo and John, Maria and Miguel. He had looked them in the eyes, and what he had seen was for him a cry for help. He asked himself - and all of us - the question: “How is it that we are so comfortably situated? These people live beneath the same sun and the same stars as we do. God also created them on the sixth day, to be kings of creation. Where then is their kingdom? This trampling of their human dignity is a mortal sin against nature, a crying injustice. And we too will personally share in this injustice if we do not do everything in our power to banish it from the world - everything in our power!” 

Pakistan: Pastoral care for Christian couples and families in the diocese of Hyderabad

The diocese of Hyderabad is in the south of Pakistan and covers a vast area of over 130,000 km². Yet there are only around 50,000 Catholics here among a Muslim population of 28 million. Most of the Catholics in this region belong to the ethnic minorities, many of them formerly Hindus. They find themselves on the very bottom rung of society and are often condemned to work as day labourers in the fields of the big landowners or as brick makers in the brick furnaces. Generally speaking they are entirely at the mercy of their wealthy masters. They also perform such menial tasks as street sweepers or toilet cleaners in the towns. They are paid only irregularly, sometimes more, sometimes less, and entire families can quickly fall into debt. If a family member falls ill or is put out of work, or if his master fails to pay his wages, then the entire family is forced to borrow money, generally at extortionate interest rates. As a result the family falls ever deeper into debt and into a vicious spiral of poverty and dependency. Many families become trapped for generations in this cycle of debt slavery. It is a very heavy burden and crushes many people.

Ethiopia: Help for pastoral work in the underdeveloped Borana region

The Borana people live in the far south of Ethiopia, in a region bordering on Kenya. In many ways the Catholic Church is in her infancy here, since Catholic missionaries only arrived in the region for the first time 45 years ago. In that time, the Holy Spirit Fathers (Spiritans) who work in this area, have established three parishes and several schools. 

Nepal: A car for the only bishop in the country, so that he can visit and encourage his flock

For over 240 years, until it became a republic in the year 2008, Nepal was the one and only Hindu monarchy in the world. And while since 2006 Hinduism has no longer been the official state religion, Hindus nonetheless make up the overwhelming majority at over 80% of the population and the country is still is strongly characterised by Hinduism. The second largest group, at a little over 9%, are the Buddhists, while Christians account for just 1.4% of the population - and Catholics are a minority among them. Numbering just 8,000 or so Catholic faithful, they are in fact no more than a tiny minority of 0.1%. 

Madagascar: Help for the training of 69 future priests

The archdiocese of Antsiranana in the extreme north of the island of Madagascar has an area of 37,924 km2 - larger than Belgium and almost the size of Switzerland. Yet with just 1.6 million inhabitants, it is relatively thinly populated. A little over 40% of the population is Catholic, and the 65 diocesan priests and 42 religious priests in the archdiocese have to care for parishes that are in many cases as large as dioceses would be in other parts of the world. 

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