Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ACN-USA News - Nigeria - ‘Our land is now a pool of blood’

 

n an October 1 message marking the 60th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from British rule, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto was harshly critical of the country’s President Mohammadu Buhari, faulting him for failing to rein in ongoing violence, much of it targeting Christians.

 

“Where are the Chibok daughters? Where is Leah Sharibu? Who are the sponsored murderers who have overrun our land? Our land is now a pool of blood. Mr. President, please reset the clock before it is too late.”

 

“I pray for you that God will touch your heart so that you embrace the ideals of those who came before you. This is not the Nigeria they dreamt of,” said the bishop in the statement sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

 

Against the backdrop of the killing of Christian farmers by largely Muslim Fulani herdsmen, the prelate added that in violation of the Constitution, “nepotism has become the new ideology of this government. In following this ideology it is estimated that the President has handed over 85 percent of the key positions to northern Muslims and has ensured that men of his faith hold tight to the reins of power in the most critical areas of our national life; the National Assembly and Security Agencies!”

 

Bishop Kukah charged that the “President has been quite diligent and focused in the pursuit of an agenda that is clearly alien to the aspirations and hopes of our people across religious lines. Nigeria was nothing like this before he came. How long will this lie last before it melts in our faces? We are living a lie and we know it.”

 

“In Nigeria, governance is a criminal enterprise, not a call to service,” the bishop said.

 

Full message received by ACN in English can be read here:

 

—Joop Koopman

 

 

With picture of Bishop Kukah (© J. Nicholls/ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Watch: ‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing II – The Gender Agenda’

 


The Long-Awaited Sequel to the Highly-Acclaimed “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”

 

Irondale, AL (EWTN) – EWTN’s new film, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing II – The Gender Agenda,” examines the origins and depravity of the so-called Sexual Revolution, with its current emphasis on gender dysphoria and homosexuality, and explains how the battle over marriage and family will be won.

 

The film airs at 10 p.m. ET Thursday, Oct. 15; and Saturday, Oct. 17. The Oct. 17 airing will be preceded at 8:30 p.m. ET by the original “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” documentary, which explores the rise of Marxism in the U.S.

 

The new film begins with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, whose existential philosophy started a dumbing-down of the culture. But the two-hour program really shines in its exposure of Alfred Kinsey’s fake science and child abuse, which kicked off the Sexual Revolution, and its corresponding assault on marriage and family.

 

It was Kinsey – with his “research” involving 200 sexual psychopaths, 1400 sex offenders and more – who birthed a man like Hugh Hefner and a woman like Kate Millet, co-founder of the National Organization of Women. It fact, it is Millet’s sister Mallory, Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, who tells viewers that every meeting of NOW opened with a call to destroy the American family. She reveals that their plan was to destroy both the American Patriarch and the ethic of monogamy by promoting promiscuity, eroticism, prostitution, abortion and homosexuality.

 

We also learn it was Kinsey’s sex therapists, and Communists such as Bella Dodd (who told Dietrich and Alice von Hildebrand that she helped infiltrate U.S. seminaries with 1,100 Communists), who helped usher in the sex abuse crisis which has roiled the Catholic Church in modern times.

 

“[Current revolutionaries understand] “what earlier radical movements such as the Communist movement understood, which is that you’ve got to take down God…because religion gets in your way,” says Dr. Paul Kengor, Author and Professor of Political Science at Grove City College.

 

Fortunately, the film does not leave viewers without hope. The final third of the program transitions to calls from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, Fatima Visionary Sister Lucia and others who not only predict what will happen, but show viewers that the way out is actually the way up.

 

In the film, Archbishop Sheen decries those who, even in the 50s, were tearing down schools, tearing down churches, tearing down teachers, tearing down the government, and tearing down the police. He said: “Can you build anything down?” He says it’s time for our nation to change the words we use. “Let’s begin now to use the word up. Up from all this filth, up from the violence, up from the indifference of course, up, up to God!”

 

De Montfort says the time will come – or perhaps is already here – when the Lord will raise up saints, devoted to the Blessed Virgin, who will surpass in holiness all the other saints, a word that is meant to both challenge and comfort us.

 

The current assault is nothing more than “a house of cards,” says Brian Camenker, founder and director of Mass Resistance, a leading nonprofit that provides information and guidance to people who confront the assault on traditional family, school children, and the moral foundation of society. “[And while] it is not permanent…it’s not going to go away by itself. It’s going to take a push and it can either happen now or it can happen in 80 years like the Soviet Union. It’s up to us.”

 

Pre-order your copy of “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing II-The Gender Agenda” here: http://bit.ly/ERCHDWGA.

 

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 39th year, is the largest religious media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 300 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; one of the largest Catholic websites in the U.S.; electronic and print news services, including Catholic News Agency, “The National Catholic Register” newspaper, and several global news wire services; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing division.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Book Review - The TimeOut Papers, by Sally E. Follett, Sophia Institute Press, 2020

 Reviewed by Rosa M. Sautner - Catholic homeschooling mom of two.

When I first read the title of The TimeOut Papers, I thought, what an interesting title for a book!  Now that I have read it, I thought, what an inspired idea, why didn't I think of that!

    Sally E. Follett, has done us all a favor and has put together a spiral bound book filled with copywork "papers"  that address each particular fault or infraction a child may commit. 

    The first section of the book is entitled, TimeOut to Teach and it addresses the faults committed by younger children.  Some of the pages include, Pouting, Whining, Calling Names, Slamming the Door, Feeling Mad or Bitter, Gossiping, Being Late, Being Lazy, Boasting, Lacking Gratitude, and many more.  On each "paper" that focuses on a fault, there is a gentle lesson on the correction of that fault, a short heart-felt prayer, and a Scripture quote.  These are to be read to very young children, with them repeating each line, or given to a good reader to read for himself.  Sally states that if an older child who knows better commits one of these faults, they are to copy the whole page, except for the Scripture quote.

    The second part of the book, TimeOut to Write, deals with sins or faults committed by older children.  Some of TimeOut Papers for the older children include, Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Teasing, Bullying, Swearing, Not Keeping My Word, and many others.  Since these are faults usually committed by older children, they are to write out the Paper to help the lesson sink in more effectively.

    A fault that is quite common in the best of homes is complaining about going to Church.  Sally's TimeOut Paper for this fault is:  "We must keep holy the Lord's Day; that is one of God's commandments.  We go to God's house on earth to worship Him and receive the life of Jesus in the breaking of the bread."  The TimeOut copywork concludes with this short and encouraging prayer:  "Dear God, I want to stay in communion with you!  Help me go to church joyfully, to show you that I'm happy to be Your child." 

    When raising children we often wonder, "Why can't they just obey, why can't they learn from their mistakes!"  As Sally says in the Note from the Author, "In speaking of the Gentiles in his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul explains why mercy and gentleness are encouraged in using the The TimeOut Papers, for he teaches, '...For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.' (11:30-31)"

    This is really a very practical way of raising virtuous children.  The habit of identifying the fault committed, repeating out loud the reason it is wrong and how to do better, and a prayer for help in improving, as well as writing out these papers will surely instill in a child a willingness to do better.  This is a highly recommended resource for all parents.


Friday, October 02, 2020

ACN-USA News - One million children praying the rosary can change the world


 

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) once again invites parishes, nurseries, schools, and families to participate in the initiative “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” on Oct. 18 or 19. The focus of the prayer campaign is worldwide unity and peace. This year provides a special context, because never before has there been such a worldwide healthcare crisis and worldwide anxiety.

 

“A crisis in which the entire world has been and continues to be exposed to an invisible virus that has brought death to hundreds of thousands of people and devastating, and as yet unforeseeable, economic and social consequences.”

 

“Our world is no longer the same world, and what was taken for granted until now will no longer be so,” said Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, president of ACN International.

 

In a letter to children he said that in difficult situations it is especially important to work together and help one another. “But we must also not forget that the biggest help of all comes from God.”

 

That is why ACN again has issued the invitation to take part in the worldwide prayer initiative “A Million Children Praying the Rosary,” on Oct. 18—or, alternatively, to pray the rosary with children in schools or kindergartens on Monday Oct. 19 (since Oct. 18 falls on a Sunday this year).

 

“Our materials for the prayer campaign are available in 23 languages, including, for example, Arabic and several African languages. Children from around 80 countries and on all continents will be participating, from Ghana to Syria to Papua New Guinea.”

 

“May this joint worldwide rosary prayer initiative fill us all with new courage and confidence in God‘s loving protection, which He wishes to bestow on us through His Holy Mother,” Father Martin Barta, the ecclesiastical assistant of ACN International said.

 

The children’s rosary campaign was initiated in 2005 in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas.

 

While several children were praying the rosary at a roadside shrine, some of the people present recalled that Saint Padre Pio had said: “When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change.”

 

The campaign quickly spread across the world. ACN has supported the campaign since 2008 and took over the organization of the entire global event two years ago.

 

The organization provides a free prayer leaflet for parishes, children's groups, or families. It contains instructions on how to pray the rosary, child-friendly reflections on the mysteries of the rosary, and a child consecration to the Mother of God. Posters for the prayer campaign are also available as well coloring pages.

 

For more information and to order the materials, please click here.

 

 

With picture of 2020 poster (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

ACN-USA News - In Pakistan, the struggle for justice for kidnapped girl

 

14-YEAR-OLD PAKISTANI GIRL’S struggle to be free of the man who raped her—and blackmailed her into marriage and religious conversion—has taken an unexpected turn after the defendant failed to appear in court.

 

The court, in Rawalpindi, requested fresh evidence, including medical reports, as well as documentary material, including police records and birth and marriage certificates in the case of Maira Shahbaz, a Catholic girl from Madina Town, near Faisalabad.

 

Mohamad Nakash Tariq did not appear at the court, which heard a petition to cancel his marriage to Maira on grounds that she is underage and that it took place against her will.  The court’s request to review the evidence followed an earlier court decision, which sanctioned the former altar server’s marriage to Mr. Nakash on grounds that she had “embraced” Islam.

 

But, barely two weeks later, August 18, Maira went to police, saying she had escaped Mr. Nakash’s home in Faisalabad. She filed a series of complaints against him, accusing him of kidnapping her at gunpoint, drugging her, forcing her to marry him and convert to Islam.

 

Maira said he raped her and blackmailed her and threatened to release a video, understood to show her being gang raped. She also accused him of forcing her into prostitution. Maira said that Mr. Nakash had said he would kill both her and her family if she were to return to them.

 

Her defense centers on a birth certificate and other official documentation showing she was 13 at the time of her marriage to Mr. Nakash, which her abductor claims took place last October. The Muslim cleric, whose signature appears on the marriage certificate, has since dismissed the document as a fake.

 

The court, which met Sept. 23, requested Maira undergo medical tests to check for sexual abuse but there are concerns that such evidence may be weak given that the incidents in question took place at least six weeks ago.

 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Maira’s lawyer, Sumera Shafique, said: “Maira’s family is concerned that Mr. Nakash wants to re-kidnap her and kill both her and her family.”

 

Ms. Shafique said that, overall, the evidence was clearly in Maira’s favor but that, even if she wins the case, she will not be safe. She added: “By leaving Mr. Nakash and returning to her family, Maira will always be considered an apostate from Islam in the eyes of Mr. Nakash and mob groups, and they will continue to demand that she be killed.”

 

Ms. Shafique said that the girl and her family continue to receive death threats and that, even though they are in hiding and have 24-hour police protection as ordered by the court, their safety could not be guaranteed.

 

She said that in recent days neighbors have reported being approached by suspicious people asking for the family’s whereabouts. Ms. Shafique added: “The family is very afraid.”

 

—John Pontifex

 

 

With picture of Maira (l) and Ms. Shafique (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

 

Sunday, September 27, 2020

EWTN to Hold Special Novena for the Nation Ahead of U.S. Elections

EWTN to Hold Special Novena 

for the Nation Ahead of U.S. Elections

 

The ‘Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation’ begins September 29th

 

(Irondale, AL) – EWTN Global Catholic Network will hold a special novena to pray for the nation ahead of the upcoming U.S. elections. The special “Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation” begins on Tuesday, September 29.

 

“As Catholics, we turn instinctively to our Blessed Mother in times of need,” said EWTN Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “America’s first bishop, John Carroll of Baltimore, chose Our Lady as the patroness of the United States. And throughout our country’s history, we have always entrusted our nation to Mary’s motherly protection.

 

“In this present moment, when there is so much division and unrest in our country, and when many of the values that formed our nation seem to be at risk, we again need to turn to our Blessed Mother. We need to pray for her intercession that leaders and all who seek public office will follow the path of Truth, guarantee religious liberty, and ensure that all human life is valued and protected, most especially the unborn.”

 

The Novena begins Sept. 29, immediately following the daily televised Mass at 9 a.m. ET, with encores at 9:30 p.m. ET and 2:30 a.m. ET. The novena will continue through Oct. 7, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary. 

 

EWTN also has created a special eBook to help individuals as well as their family and friends to participate in this important devotion. The free eBook, “Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation,” is available in English at www.ewtn.com/novena, and in Spanish at www.ewtn.com/novenaesp

 

EWTN collaborated with one of the pre-eminent Marian theologians in the U.S. on the creation of this beautiful novena. Fr. Frederick Miller, a frequent EWTN guest and the Spiritual Director of the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at Seton Hall University, composed the meditations and prayers which invoke Mary’s intercession for our nation.

 

“In this critical moment, I hope that everyone will join in this powerful prayer for the nation and its leaders,” Warsaw said. “May God bless you during these days, and may God bless our nation.”

 

ABOUT EWTN

 

EWTN Global Catholic Network, founded in 1980, is the largest Catholic media network in the world. EWTN’s 11 global TV channels are broadcast in multiple languages 24 hours a day, seven days a week to over 350 million television households in more than 145 countries and territories. EWTN platforms also include radio services transmitted through SIRIUS/XM, Sky satellite radio, iHeart Radio, and over 500 domestic and international AM & FM radio affiliates; a worldwide shortwave radio service; several of the most visited Catholic web, digital and social media outlets in the world; EWTN News, its global news division; as well as EWTN Publishing, its book publishing group.

 

Friday, September 18, 2020

ACN-USA News - Nigeria - ‘It is like we have been left to perish because of our faith’

 

FOR THE PAST SEVEN MONTHS in southern Kaduna State, in north-central Nigeria, there have been incessant attacks on Christian communities, killing 178 people. In a statement by the Catholic bishops of Kaduna Province sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the bishops said that “dark clouds of violence have enveloped our land. Our country is in the firm grip of the grim reaper. In the last few years, the purveyors of this violence have taken over the land and placed our security forces on the defensive.” 

 

Nigerian’s main challenge in the last ten years was how to contain the terrorist group Boko Haram; two years ago, the military announced that it had degraded it. “But our joy was short lived as the story has progressively gotten far worse.”

 

“Today, almost the entire northern states are in the grip of these purveyors of violence and death. In the last three years, we have witnessed the relentless attacks and ransacking of entire communities by bandits in states like Benue, Kebbi, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Zamfara.”

 

“Thousands of lives have been lost to these bandits who have operated with relentless abandon,” the bishops charged, adding: “The ravages of Boko Haram, the herdsmen, kidnappers and the bandits have turned everyone into a victim.”

 

Father Sam Ebute is based in Kagoro, one of the affected communities, where he works as the Director of Promotion and Vocations for the Society of African Missions (SMA). He had to bury 21 of his parishioners who were killed in one of the most recent attacks.

 

“It happened at about 11:20 pm on July 21 in Kukum Daji village, about 10 minutes’ drive from Kagoro. The community had a gathering of youths when they suddenly heard gunshots and noises of men screaming. For them it was an all too familiar scenario playing out again as they had seen happen in Agwala, Doka, Kaura and Zangon Kataf,” Father Ebute told ACN.

 

“In less than two hours, the bandits left 17 youths dead, mostly girls, while four died either on their way to the hospital or at the hospital, making it a total number of 21. There were about 30 others who were severely injured, and they had to receive treatment in hospitals in Kafanchan and Kaduna.”

 

It was not the first time he has seen such attacks and had to participate in burying faithful. “For four years, since I became a priest in 2016, I have been burying my parishioners. In 2017, I had to bury a woman who had been killed along with her four children at night, in Tachira. In 2018, in Tsonje, the parish had to also bury four people who were killed. In 2019, in Zunruk, seven youths were killed in broad day light while playing soccer.”

 

The latest attack was in Kukum Daji. All these communities are in the areas where the missionaries carry out their ministry. They all fall under the main parish of St Joseph's in Kagoro, in the Diocese of Kafanchan.

 

“For the past seven weeks, we have been burying our parishioners with no end in sight. These last attacks have left us all in fear and especially the fear of the unknown because we do not know when the next round of attacks will happen and what will trigger it. We cannot worship in peace. We have no confidence in the safety of our homes,” said the missionary.

 

The situation affects daily life: “Our movements are limited, our faithful cannot freely go about their activities. It is farming season now, but they dare not go to their farms for fear of being attacked there. They have left their crops to perish. It is like we have been left to perish because of our faith.”

 

Asked about his task as priest and missionary, Father Ebute says: “when you shepherd people and such attacks occur, it is as hard for you as it is for them. But you must be available to them, to comfort them, pray for them and encourage them to keep their faith in God and to stand firm. We offer spiritual, moral, and material support the best that we can.”

 

“The people of Southern Kaduna feel abandoned by their governor in their grief,” said the bishops’ statement. Father Ebute agrees: “What makes all of this even more difficult is the fact that the government doesn't take decisive measures to curb the menace. This is the most devastating and frustrating thing to fathom.”

 

“Another thing that is difficult to deal with is to preach forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and love to people whose means of livelihood has been snatched away from them, their prosperity ebbing away and destroyed as a result of these attacks.”

 

Despite the killings, the indescribable violence, all the pain and suffering, the missionary puts his confidence in God:  “In all of it, I am consoled by the fact that God is not dead and that He is watching. His time will come. He has told us in Psalm 46:10 to trust in Him.”

 

“The blood of these martyrs will not be in vain.”

 

—Adie Vanessa Offiong & Maria Lozano

 

 

With picture of Father Etube praying over a mass grave (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

 

Friday, September 11, 2020

ACN-USA News - Lebanon in crisis - 'We need a miracle’

 


QUIETLY AND POLITELY, they form a line in the hot sun outside the Socio-Medical Intercommunity Dispensary in the poor Beirut neighborhood of Nabaa.  Some are elderly and live alone.  Others have families to feed.  In order to eat, all have put aside any embarrassment in accepting a handout.

 

The dispensary has been run by the Assembly of Female Religious Congregations since 1973. It was originally founded in 1968 by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary to serve those in need.

 

As Lebanon’s economy worsened, the dispensary expanded its medical and social mission to the needy to include distribution of hot meals in 2017, serving 250 portions per day. Now, as Lebanon teeters near economic collapse, the program has reached 1,200 portions a day.

 

“We’ve come to a situation in Lebanon where the middle class have become poor and the poor have gotten poorer,” says Sister Marie Justine el Osta, from the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family, who serves as director of the dispensary.  “This is a disaster.”

 

Despite the increasing misery she encounters, the petite, energetic 72-year-old sister continues to offer a warm, encouraging smile to all those she serves.

 

“My strength comes from God, only,” Sister Marie Justine says. “Our mission is to stand by the people, to lift them up and give them a dosage of positivity and hope. To tell them that God is with us, that better days are coming.”

 

However, Sister Marie Justine admits, “what is really very painful for me is when you see people asking for the least of their rights—asking for food.  They feel they have lost their dignity.  It hurts me to see this.”

 

Maguy, a mother of four children, ranging from seven to-16 years old, began coming to the dispensary for the hot meal program a few weeks ago.  

 

“It’s something I never thought I would do,” she said of being on the receiving end for food assistance.  “But I got to the point that I didn’t want to see my children starving.  I will do anything for them.”

 

“The Sisters and everyone here make me feel so welcome. God bless them for all they are doing.”

 

Hot meals are prepared off site and beneficiaries bring their own containers so they can eat at home.  Due to coronavirus precautionary measures, distribution takes place outdoors at the entrance to the dispensary. 

 

The meal program was not disrupted by Beirut’s catastrophic blast that rocked the capital city August 4, which killed almost 200 people, injured another 6,000, and displaced more than 300,000 people.

 

Although it is located 2.5 miles from the blast site, the dispensary still suffered considerable damage, totaling nearly $40,000 in repairs. Sister is thankful that no one was injured at the dispensary, as it was closed at the time of the early evening blast.

 

“In this country, we live day by day.  We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.  We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” says Sister Marie Justine. 

 

“I always say that God always helps us.  Thank God, He sends us helpers,” she said, such as Aid to the Church in Need.  “We are so grateful.” 

 

Yet the needs keep increasing, she points out. The possibility of a famine in Lebanon is very real. “We are getting closer (to famine), because goods are getting very expensive and people will not have enough money to buy anything from the supermarket,” Sister Marie Justine warns.  “We need a miracle.”

 

A recent United Nations report shows that more than 55 percent of Lebanon’s population is now in poverty and struggling to meet their basic needs, nearly double the percentage from a year ago.  The Lebanese currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value in less than a year and prices of food staples have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled.

 

Aid to the Church in Need has funded a program that is about to distribute food packages to more than 5,800 needy families affected by the Aug. 4 explosion. Sister Marie Justine will oversee part of the distribution.

 

—Doreen Abi Raad

 

 

With picture of Sister Marie Justine (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

ACN-USA News - Asia Bibi calls on Pakistan’s prime minister to protect minorities

 


Asia Bibi calls on Pakistan’s prime minister to protect minorities

 

 

IN A VIDEO INTERVIEW she granted Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Asia Bibi appealed to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on behalf of the religious minorities in Pakistan, citing in particular the plight of the many underage Pakistani girls abducted, forcibly converted and forcibly married.

 

The Pakistani Christian wife and mother, who has become a symbol of the suffering inflicted by anti-Christian persecution around the world, spoke from her current home in Canada to Alessandro Monteduro, the director of ACN’s Italian national office.

 

In their conversation, Monteduro mentions two young Christian girls, Huma Younus and Maira Shahbaz, both victims of such abuse, whose cases are being fought with help from ACN, not least by a constant campaign to raise awareness in the media.

 

Asia Bibi responded: “I know that these girls are being persecuted and I appeal to Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, please help our young girls, because none of them should have to suffer like this!”

 

Another particularly delicate issue concerns Pakistan’s so-called anti-blasphemy laws. As ACN’s own regular report on Religious Freedom Worldwide explains, these so-called “Blasphemy laws,” which were incorporated in 1986 into Pakistan’s Penal Code. They represent a severe restriction on freedom of religion and expression. Defiling of the Koran and making derogatory remarks about Mohammed are crimes punishable with life imprisonment and the death penalty, respectively.

 

In practice, these laws are frequently used in daily life as a means of persecuting religious minorities. Falsely accused, Asia Bibi herself, a mother of five, was imprisoned on death row for almost 10 years, until October 2018, when her sentence was finally vacated on appeal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.

 

“At the moment of the founding of Pakistan and its separation from India, our founder Ali Jinnah, in his opening proclamation, guaranteed freedom of religion and thought to all citizens,” said Asia Bibi. “But today there are some groups which are using the existing laws, and so I appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan—especially for the victims of the blasphemy laws and the girls who have been forcibly converted—to safeguard and protect the minorities, who are also Pakistani citizens.”

 

“As a victim myself, I am speaking from my own experience. I suffered terribly and lived through so many difficulties, but now I am free and I hope that these laws can be changed in such a way as to prevent any abuse of them.”

 

Asia Bibi also spoke about Pope Francis. “I have two sets of rosary beads given to me by the Holy Father,” she said. “One was left behind in Pakistan and the other I still have with me and with it I pray the Rosary every day for the gift of faith and for those who are persecuted in Pakistan.”

 

“I thank the Holy Father Francis, and also Pope Benedict who interceded for me as well, and I thank ACN and all the other people who prayed for me.”

 

Monteduro, speaking on behalf of ACN, invited Asia Bibi and her family to come to Rome, an invitation she was delighted to accept. “I have a deep desire to come to Rome and, if possible, to meet with the Holy Father,” she replied, adding: “I pray for Pope Francis, that he may sustain us in our faith.”

 

Asia Bibi concluded with some words of thanks to ACN donors: “I am grateful to ACN and to all your benefactors, in Italy and all over the world, for supporting people like me who are persecuted on account of their faith.”

 

In an Aug. 31, 2020 interview with Voice of America, Asia Bibi appeared to disassociate herself from her forthcoming autobiography. But sources who spoke with her suggested to ACN that the interview, as presented, likely not accurately presented her views. Asia Bibi “believes that the heavily edited interview may have been misinterpreted and gave a false and confused picture of what she actually said,” one source said.

 

—Massimiliano Tubani

 

 

With picture of Asia Bibi (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

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Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

 

 

Friday, September 04, 2020

ACN-USA News - Burkina Faso - First Communion against backdrop of terrorism and COVID-19

 

THEIR FACES RADIANT WITH JOY, children dressed in white dance and sing, clap their hands and pray to God. In Kaya, a provincial capital in Burkina Faso, nothing can overshadow the joy of celebrating First Communion. For a brief moment, the children can forget the horrors they have experienced and the difficulties they face day after day.

 

“The children are originally from Dablo. They came here fleeing from terrorism. But it was COVID-19 that forced us to postpone all of the celebrations that had been planned for the reception of the Sacrament of the First Eucharist,” the priest in charge, Father Gabriel Bamogo, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which provides aid to Christians in Burkina Faso.

 

“Now everyone is giving thanks to the Lord for the joy and the mercy that He gave to them through the Sacrament.”

 

First terrorism, then COVID-19: Burkina Faso, a country located in the western part of Africa, has taken a beating. Once an oasis of stability and internal peace, since 2015 the country has been drifting ever further into chaos. Jihadists and criminal gangs are inflicting violence upon large parts of the predominantly Muslim country.

 

The motives behind this are manifold: in the multi-ethnic state, rancor arising from the neglect of entire regions by the government has dovetailed with ethnic rivalries and Islamic fanaticism. Jihadists would like to establish a new caliphate. Criminals are taking advantage of the chaos to serve their own purposes. The drug and arms trade is flourishing.

 

Despite support from France, the former colonial power, the government has so far failed to gain control of the situation. Almost one million people have become refugees in their own country—bleak prospects for the people living in one of the poorest countries in the world.

 

Christians, who make up about 30 percent of the population, are also targeted by terrorism. Tens of thousands have fled from the regions that are under attack by terrorists. Many have sought refuge in the Diocese of Kaya.

 

One example is young Elizabeth Bamogo. She was born in 2007 and came to Kaya in May 2019. She and her parents fled to safety following a terrorist attack on Christians in the village of Dablo. In May last year, jihadists on motorcycles carrying machine guns attacked the Catholic church during Sunday mass. Father Simeon, the village priest, was killed, along with five men in the congregation. Before fleeing and setting fire to the church, the murderers threatened the people, “Convert to Islam. If you don’t, you will face the death penalty when we return.”

 

The girl looks back on these events on the day of her First Communion. “We could no longer stay in our home. It was intolerable. We felt threatened there every day,” she said. “Those who are searching for us have no mercy. They may not kill children, but they will kill our parents. We would have become orphans.”

 

After the horrors she experienced in her village, Elizabeth is even more grateful that she was able to receive the First Communion. “Today is a special day for me. I thank God for this. Because the situation is so difficult, I no longer believed that I would be able to receive the Sacrament.” During the catechesis to prepare for First Communion, she learned that Jesus comes to her in the Eucharist. “I believe in this.”

 

Etienne Sawadogo is also grateful for the day of his First Communion. Born in 2006, the boy grew up in a small village near Dablo, where the deadly attack on the church took place. Shortly afterwards, he also fled with his parents to Kaya. “I had to flee so that I would survive and be able to go to school. We saw how mercilessly they killed. That could have happened to us as well. That is why we fled.”

 

Etienne should have received the Sacrament of the First Eucharist last year in Dablo. However, the precarious security situation made this impossible—and the boy is all the happier now. “I have received the Body and Blood of Christ. This has strengthened my faith.”

 

The chaos in the country is not expected to end soon and no one knows when they will be able to return to their villages. On the contrary. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently assessed the situation in the country as critical and declared most of the country a high-risk zone.

 

French citizens are advised to avoid travelling to these regions. These include both Elizabeth’s and Etienne’s villages, as well as Kaya where they have taken refuge. However, at least on the day of her First Communion, Elizabeth still has hope.

 

“In the difficult situation my parents and I are currently facing, I count on Jesus. I have faith in Him.” Etienne feels the same way. “In spite of everything, we are happy because we hope in Him to whom we pray each day.”

 

In 2019 and 2020, ACN approved almost 100 projects in Burkina Faso. In the Diocese of Kaya, the Catholic charity supports priests through Mass stipends and provides funding for the training of seminarians.

 

—Oliver Maksan

 

 

With picture of First Communion in the Diocese of Kaya (© ACN)

 

 

Editor’s Notes:

 

kin-logo red 10mm rgb

 

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.  ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

 

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

 

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

 

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org