Wednesday, October 22, 2014

ACN News - Egypt – Christians feel safer even as jihadism still looms



The Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government has been unseated and Egyptian Christians are breathing easier. At the time of the fall of that government in the summer of 2013, Father Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said, “The ousting of President Morsi is a joyous day for Christians.” Nonetheless, Christian-Muslim tensions persist. Father Greiche spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.


In August 2013 churches were burning in Egypt when Islamists took revenge for the overthrow of President Morsi. What is the situation of Christians under the leadership of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi?

The mood has improved considerably. The security situation is getting better. There is greater stability. All Egyptians are enthusiastic about economic projects such as the extension of the Suez Canal. Christians feel a lot safer. They are going to church without feeling threatened as they did under President Morsi. Under the Muslim Brotherhood, Molotov cocktails were hurled at churches or graffiti was sprayed on the walls. In all, a more peaceful atmosphere is being created.

Are there no more Islamist attacks against Christians?

The number of acts of aggression has fallen to a low level, a minimum. Sometimes there are still inter-religious tensions in some villages. It still happens that jihadists abduct Christian girls. But the situation has nevertheless improved considerably. The problems that exist are only a fraction of those that Christians experienced under Morsi. That does not mean that there are no incidents whatsoever. There continue to be Muslim-Christian difficulties of the kind we have been familiar with for more than 30 or 40 years.

Is President Sisi receptive to the problems of Christians?

He has received all the bishops and leaders from the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Churches. He told them that Christians have every right to have their churches and to pray. His government is working with the Churches to prepare a law governing the construction of churches. This is one of our most urgent problems here in Egypt—to-date it has been very difficult to build a new church. This draft envisages that Christian symbols such as crucifixes and bells may be mounted visibly on the exterior.

The proposed law will also stipulate that the construction of new places of worship is no longer subject to the approval of state security authorities.

The President himself will no longer himself have to grant permission to build a new church; instead this will be the responsibility of the provincial governor. If the latter has no objections after a period of 60 days after a proposal is submitted, the work can proceed. However, this new legislation is in limbo, as the country currently has no Parliament that could pass such a law. Elections are due to take place at year’s end.

Will Islamists again play a major role in the new Parliament?

Yes, I'm afraid so. The problem is that the civilian parties are very weak and lacking direction. They also don't have much backing. The Islamists will probably not have a majority, but they could form a substantial minority that is capable of upholding or delaying the passing of legislation.

In Syria and Iraq Christians face the horrors of ISIS. Do Egyptian Christians also feel threatened by Islamic extremists from abroad?

We also feel under threat, if obviously not in the same way as the Christians in Iraq and Syria. We are afraid of the jihadists based in neighboring Libya, who are sending weaponry into Egypt. There are also jihadists on the Sinai Peninsula.

Are Muslim authorities in Egypt forceful enough in their condemnation of groups like ISIS?

When ISIS started to drive Christians out of Mosul last summer, not a word was heard initially from the Sunni Al-Azhar University, for example. The Copts then gathered in front of the Vatican Embassy here in Cairo and appealed to Al-Azhar University to condemn the violence. Shortly afterward, the school actually did publish a statement. But that's not the only issue at hand.

Unfortunately, the curriculum of the university and that of the schools managed by Al-Azhar feature many aspects that are pretty much in line with ISIS transgressions. Fundamental changes must be made because such teachings have a big effect on people’s thinking.


With photo of Father Rafik Greiche, head of the press office of the Egyptian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:


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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ACN News - ACN aid for Iraq



Thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians are to receive food, shelter, schooling and gifts for children in a concerted emergency relief program by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) before the onset of winter.

The $5million plan announced by Aid to the Church in Need, one of the largest in the charity’s 67-year history, also includes pastoral support for priests and Sisters displaced by the crisis that has swept the country.

The projects, a number of them agreed on Tuesday, October 14th, come amid new reports from Iraq that the crisis facing up to 120,000 displaced Christians is on the verge of worsening drastically.

There is huge pressure to move thousands of families out of tents before winter comes and the weather is expected to deteriorate sharply in the next few weeks.

Other families have just days to leave public buildings such as schools which have been converted into displacement centers where they have been sleeping up to 20 to a room.

The Christian communities are entirely dependent on outside help and have been supported by the Church since they arrived in Kurdish northern Iraq. Many of them have found refuge in Ankawa, close to the regional capital, Erbil, and further north in the region of Dohuk, close to the Turkish border.

It is now nearly four months since they left their homes with little more than the clothes they were wearing when Islamic State fighters advanced on Mosul city and towns and villages in the neighboring Nineveh plains.

Amid growing concerns for their future as winter approaches, ACN’s emergency projects’ package includes:

Eight schools,  four in Ankawa, Erbil, and the rest in Dohuk: pre-fabricated PVC structures providing for 15,000 children ($2.5 million)

Food for displaced people totally reliant on outside help ($801,600)

Rented accommodation in Ankawa and Dohuk for displaced people ($509,000)

150 PVC porta-cabins in Ankawa for use as accommodation ($598,000)

Christmas gifts for 15,000 children including warm clothes (coats and socks), pencils, coloring books and devotional items and ACN Child’s Bibles ($375,400)

Mass stipends for more than 100 priests, both Chaldean and Syrian Catholic, from Iraq, most of them displaced by violence and other unrest ($112,227)

Help for 28 seminarians at St. Peter’s Seminary, Ankawa ($49,600)

Additional grants include $24,175 emergency aid for Sacred Heart Sisters displaced from Mosul, $99,200 support for Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Ankawa and $48,400 help for Christian education (catechism) in 20 parishes across Baghdad.

Taken together, the aid builds significantly on the $254,500 given as emergency aid to Christians fleeing Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in the immediate aftermath of the IS attacks.

The projects were drawn up during an ACN fact-finding and project assessment trip organized at short notice and completed a little over a week ago.

The charity’s head of Middle East projects Father Andrzej Halemba said, “This ancient community, which dates back to Biblical times, is on the verge of disappearing forever.”

“They have suffered so much and this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help them and give them what they need to get through the winter.”

Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said, “I would like to thank Aid to the Church in Need for acting so quickly to help the people especially as we get close to winter.”

Chaldean Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul, who was among the 500,000 who fled the city in June when it was seized by Islamic State, is chair of the Emergency Committee of Bishops formed to coordinate relief efforts, also thanked ACN.

He said: “I am personally so grateful to ACN. You are giving us new hope.”

The archbishop also called on ACN and all people of goodwill to pray for Iraq. He told ACN, “Please pray for the safety of our people, that none are killed by terrorists; we should also pray for those who have persecuted us and we should also pray for an end to evil which is now so great in the world.”

Aid to the Church in Need, which has offices around the world, is launching an international campaign to raise awareness and raise money for suffering Christians in Iraq.


With picture of Iraq children being helped by Aid to the Church in Need holding an ACN sign (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:


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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Thursday, October 16, 2014

ACN News - In northern Iraq, Christian refugees are preparing for winter


Earlier this month, Karin Maria Fenbert, an official of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need travelled to Erbil, capital of Kurdish Iraq, to assess the needs of more than 100,000 Iraq Chaldean Christians, who had fled their homes in Mosul and surrounding communities on the Nineveh Plane in the wake of the violent take-over of the area by forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the spring and summer. She reported on her findings in this Oct. 14, 2014 interview.


How are the refugees in northern Iraq doing?

In Erbil, the situation is hard for the refugees. The school year has begun again and the refugees who had taken shelter in the school buildings have to vacate the premises as soon as possible—to avoid tensions with the local Christian population.

Moreover winter is not far away and many refugees are still living in tents that are not waterproof, some of which are set up on the bare ground. The Church is pretty much alone in caring for them; so far the Iraqi government has not done anything for them. The tents of the refugees are set up on parish properties. The Church in Iraq is urgently in need of financial support from abroad—and it has to arrive very quickly.

What is Aid to the Church in Need doing to help?

After weeks of intense communication with local Church leaders, this fact-finding mission allowed us to put the final touches on projects that we will be funding in the weeks and months ahead. To put in broad strokes, we will help the refugees get through the winter; they should have a permanent roof over their heads, and the refugee children should be able to go to school.

For example, later this month we will complete building a village featuring houses made out of residential container modules. This settlement is already under construction and will be named “Father Werenfried Town,” after the founder of Aid to the Church in Need. It will provide some 4,000 people with shelter for the winter.

Likewise, starting in December, lodgings for the refugees in the vicinity of Erbil will be rented. In order to give parents hope for the future of their children in their own country, we will support the construction of four schools in Erbil and four additional schools in Dohuk. These buildings, too, will be made out of weatherproof residential container modules. We were able to tour a model school of this type that is under construction and are convinced that this is a workable concept.

There are also priests and nuns among the refugees—and they too will get a roof over their heads. In addition we will support the one major seminary in Iraq, which now has 28 seminarians, as well as Babel College, currently the only institute in Iraq where theology and philosophy are taught. There are nuns in Erbil, too, to whom we have promised basic assistance, among other things.

In the Dohuk region we will distribute food packages to approximately around 8,000 families. In addition, we are preparing 15,000 Christmas packages for children. To pull off all these projects, of course, we are counting on the generous support of all our benefactors

What specific impressions were you able to get about the current conditions of the refugees?

We visited a refugee camp made out of tents. One parish made its property available for this purpose. The local pastor rewards the refugee children for good deeds, for example collecting trash. Therefore it is spanking clean in this tent camp, even though the people there have had to endure the most primitive conditions since early August. For example, eight persons live together in a tent that is only about 10 by 13 foot. Bathing and hygiene are taken care of outside, with the help of a bucket. The nearest showers are far away.

We also visited a school in which many refugees are housed. I deliberately use the expression “are housed,” because you can’t call that living. For instance, 22 people are staying in one classroom that measured perhaps 16.5 by 20 foot. During the day the thin mattresses are stacked up to the ceiling against one wall. We also saw people lying on their mattresses and sleeping throughout the day in that room. Under such conditions there is no privacy. And the sanitary conditions are very poor. A person who comes from the outside to get a look at the degrading situation feels anything but well—the refugees must feel that they are trapped in a zoo.

You spoke with the local bishops and the nuncio to Iraq. What future do they see for Iraq?

The bishops are only reporting what they hear hundreds of people say: the Christians feel betrayed: betrayed by their central government in Baghdad; betrayed by their former Muslim neighbors; and betrayed also by the international community. They feel that they are being perceived merely as collateral damage in geopolitical power plays. Add it all up, and the bishops feel quite helpless and powerless.

Their main focus is on the needs of the moment, namely, to do everything they can to make sure that the refugees can survive the winter—and, as far as possible, with some dignity, although under these conditions it is difficult to give the refugees any kind of privacy.

At the moment more than one third of the Christians in Iraq are living as refugees in their own country. They see a future for themselves only if a certain degree of security can be guaranteed. How that might happen, if it ever will, is far from obvious.  Also fathers of families must be able to get a job; and the young must be able to complete their education. Surely, lack of education is one of the main causes of Islamic extremism.

Right now, most of the refugees remain in limbo, which keeps them—for now—from being able to make a free decision as to whether they want to remain in Iraq or would like to pursue s a chance at happiness abroad instead.


Editor’s Notes:



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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ACN News - 'The Christian minority in India is under serious threat'




"Especially under threat is the Christian minority because it is rejected by extremists as alien and because the Christian message is threat to the caste system."

With the election of Narendra Modi of the Hindu "Bharatiya Janata Party” (BJP) as prime minister of India the country's secular constitution has come under threat, charged an Indian Catholic priest.

Father Ajay Kumar Singh, a human rights activist in Kandhamal District in the East Indian state of Odisha (formerly Orissa), warned of the growing influence of radical Hindu forces on the Indian subcontinent.

"Especially under threat is the Christian minority because it is rejected by extremists as alien and because the Christian message is threat to the caste system," the priest said in an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  

According to Father Kumar Singh—who is associated with the “Odisha Forum for Social Action"—the BJP aims to establish a state religion which excludes the lower castes and all minorities.

"They even want to impose only one language, Sanskrit, even though hundreds of languages are spoken in India," he continued, adding that the strength of party and the movement it represents has become the strongest political force in India, taking many observers, including Church leaders and their flock, by surprise.

"It is important for us to understand what is happening. As a Church we must think way beyond the bounds of the individual dioceses; we must act regionally and nationally in order to find responses to this challenge,” the priest said.

“Otherwise Orissa 2008 will be repeated, even worse than then because we learned no lessons from it,” the priest said, referring to August 2008, when Hindu nationalists attacked villages of Christian dalits or “untouchables,” belonging to the lowest caste in the Hindu social hierarchy.

The violence left more than 100 dead, according to the "National People’s Tribunal” (NPT), an association of human rights activists in Odisha.

According to the NPT, the attacks had been prepared well in advance: more than 600 villages were looted, the organization has reported, with 5,600 houses, 295 churches and 13 schools destroyed.

More than 54,000 people were made homeless and of this number 30,000 have not been able to return to their villages. Around 10,000 children were robbed of the possibility to attend school because they were forced to flee and were displaced.  Some 2,000 Christians were compelled to deny their faith. Numerous women were raped.

Many of the perpetrators of the violence—though they are known to authorities—have never been charged. 

Father Kumar Singh is afraid history might repeat itself.


With picture of Father Kumar Singh (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:



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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Lady of Akita's Third Message on October 13, 1973

Our Lady of Fatima at the 8th annual Rosary in the Park, Honolulu

The message of Our Lady of Akita to Sister Agnes Sasagawa is very similar to the Fatima message.

The following is particularly timely as our bishops are gathered together at the Synod to discuss marriage and the family as well as the ongoing worldwide persecution of Christians and threats to religious freedom in the United States.
"As I told you, if men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity.  It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before.  Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful.  The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead.  The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son.  Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary.  With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and the priests.
The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, and bishops against bishops.  The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres.  The Church and altars will be vandalized.  The Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demons will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.  The demon will rage especially against souls consecrated to God.  The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness.  If sins increase in number and gravity there will no longer be pardon for them."


Friday, October 10, 2014

ACN News - Christians struggle to rebuild their lives in Aleppo, Syria





Sister Maria of Nazareth has committed herself to an extraordinary mission. The Argentinian nun from the Institute of the Incarnate Word has been living in Aleppo, Syria, for the past two months, ministering to a traumatized Christian community in the former million-strong metropolis in the north of the country, which has suffered some of the worst violence of the three year-old civil war.

Previously based in the Gaza Strip, Sister Maria has seen her share of violence. "Our task in this country is very special. We are constantly confronted with people's suffering.”

“The war is having a profoundly deleterious effect on human dignity. People are losing their loved ones, their freedom and their rights due to the violence.”

“On top of this there is poverty and a lack of the most basic things, such as electricity and water," the young nun reports.

She lives in the compound of Apostolic Vicariate of the Latin Rite in Aleppo, together with some fellow nuns. All of Syria’s Roman Catholics in Syria fall under the Vicariate.

Reports Sister Maria, "We work in a hostel for female students at the local university, which is operated by the Vicariate. We also take care of the sacristy and the liturgy in the cathedral.”

“On top of that, we look after the faithful who visit the cathedral. Our main task is to listen to the people who are suffering, offer them words of hope, and help them best we can to meet their most basic needs.”

“Certainly only the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ can bring about the miracle of sowing the seed of hope in these souls. But war is a terrible and cruel thing.”

Archbishop Jean Abdo Arbach of Aleppo knows this all too well. The Melkite spiritual leader is coping with huge damage in his diocese, whose history goes back to the 4th century.

Dozens of churches, some dating back to the local Church’s very beginnings, have been damaged or destroyed.

"Last February, an armed gang broke into the Church of Our Lady of Yabroud, a 4th century church. They destroyed the fittings in the church, smashed the crucifix, threw the icons on the floor and tore the pages out of the Gospel. Then the gang burned the altar," the archbishop recounts.

However, some churches were destroyed not by the rebels, but by the Syrian army, such as the Church of St. George in nearby Nabek, which crumbled under an army bombardment in November 2013.

Not only the infrastructure of the diocese is in terrible shape—it's mainly the people of the region.  "To date our archdiocese has counted 96 martyrs. The fate of 26 people is uncertain," the archbishop notes.

More than 1800 families from his diocese have left their houses to seek safety elsewhere in Syria or have fled to Lebanon.

"From my visits to the houses of the families and from the reports by my priests, it is clear that everyone has been hurt by the tragic events. We have begun to support about 600 families with monthly assistance,” says the prelate, explaining that Syria’s high inflation rate is causing the local community great difficulty.

"The prices are shooting up while wages are stagnating."

Despite all the hardships, however, the archbishop affirms that there are no signs that people’s spiritual life is collapsing, however. On the contrary, he insists: "the crisis has triggered a major return to faith and prayer among those who have not left their villages.”

“Though having to deal with fear and the constant threat of bombs, families are remaining loyal to their religious convictions."

The local Church is doing what it can to continue its catechetical work to ensure that the faith is passed on to children and youth. "About 3300 young people take part in our catechetical classes. Some 350 teachers are looking after them,” the archbishop reports.

Still, a number of Church facilities were those classes are held have been damaged in the fighting and Archbishop Arbach relies on help from Catholic charities to find the means for repair and rebuilding initiatives.

"Our Church needs help of all kinds: spiritual, material, medical and psychological. The Church in this part of Syria will be in real danger if we don't react quickly,” he warns.


With picture of Sister Maria Nazareth and Archbishop Jean Abdo Arbach of Aleppo (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:



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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Thursday, October 09, 2014

ACN News - Bosnia-Herzegovina – Instability plays into the hands of extremists




“Destructive, radical forces from the Arab world can very easily settle and flourish here." These were the words of a local Catholic leader in Bosnia-Herzegovina as he warned of the dangers of instability in the country.

Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the eve of elections slated for Oct. 12 that will elect Members of Parliament and the three-member presidency.

Bosnia-Herzegovina urgently needs political reform and significant support from the European Union, according to the bishop.

The country is in poor shape, with unemployment at more than 50 percent and nearly three quarters of young adults unable to find work.

Dissatisfaction among the population, which comprises three ethnic groups – Bosnians, Croats and Serbs – has grown enormously. Corruption, cronyism and nepotism are widespread.

Bishop Komarica is deeply concerned: "We are living in an absurd situation. Bosnia-Herzegovina is not moving forward, either politically or economically.”

“The country has a number of constitutions which obstruct one another. The number of ministers is astronomical, an indulgence which no other nation allows itself.”

“The people are longing for a new organization of the state."

The political logjam and lack of legal certainty might radicalize groups and factions in society, the bishop worries: "There are people here who could exploit the instability.”

“And we mustn't ignore the dark clouds arising to the south east. Destructive, radical forces from the Arab world can very easily settle and flourish here."

Before the last Balkan war, various ethnic and religious communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina lived in harmony. However, this fundamental consensus was destroyed by war and violence and now has to be built up again, the prelate said.

Bishop Komarica argued that the current instability demands a greater involvement on the part of the international community, and specifically the European Union.

The Catholic Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina is doing its part, he said: "We need more justice, reconciliation and willingness to work together.”

“We bishops have therefore invited everyone to go to the polls to cast their vote for law and justice and to make sure the country does not get stuck in this disastrous situation."


With picture of Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:



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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

ACN News - Iraq – ‘Our people have been abandoned’



The Government of Iraq is guilty of not helping Christians desperate to flee Islamic State militia, according to a leading Catholic bishop from the country.

Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said Iraq’s national government in Baghdad “has done nothing, absolutely nothing” for 120,000 Christians seeking sanctuary away from areas terrorized by the extremists.

Archbishop Warda said displaced Christians in his diocese and the nearby Dohuk region were becoming increasingly concerned for the future two months after leaving their homes in Mosul and the Niniveh Plains.

As IS forces advanced, they fled at a moment’s notice leaving all their belongings behind.

The archbishop went on to state that Muslim leaders had failed to give an unequivocal condemnation of the violence carried out in the name of Islam which had resulted in the ejection of all Christians from their ancient Biblical homeland.

Noting instances of long-time Muslims neighbors looting the homes of Christians who had fled their homes, Archbishop Warda said many of his faithful felt “betrayed” and were now more likely to flee the country.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Bashar Warda said, “The reality is that Christians have received no support from the central government. They have done nothing for them, absolutely nothing.”

“Usually, the central government is the first to take responsibility for helping people forced to leave their homes.”

 “The central government is to blame,” he said, adding: “It has not fulfilled its commitment to the people.”

He also said: “The government in Baghdad received a lot of help from the international community for the displaced people from Mosul and Nineveh but there has been no sign of it here.”

He said Baghdad was helping Muslim displaced people but not Christians.

The archbishop said the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil had made it clear from the start of the crisis that it could offer no financial assistance because since January 1st, 2014 it had stopped receiving subsidies from Baghdad.

Archbishop Warda, who alongside other bishops has coordinated a relief program of food and emergency housing for the displaced people, said the task of aiding Christians had fallen almost exclusively to the Church.

The archbishop said, “We will never forget the voices of solidarity that we received from day one of this tragedy.”

“Church agencies have been here helping us since day one and they remain with the people long after the headlines have moved on to something different.”

He praised organizations such as Aid to the Church in Need which is providing emergency food, accommodation and other basic help for displaced Christians.

Archbishop Warda added, “The crisis concerning Christians in Mosul and Nineveh is not just a shock. It is for us a genocide. All voices have acknowledged that it was a crime against humanity.”

Referring to the response of Muslim leaders to the IS attacks on minority communities, Archbishop Warda said, “We have not had a clear denunciation of [IS] from Muslim leaders.”

He said Muslim leaders seemed concerned only with how the attacks had undermined Islam’s international reputation.

In a further criticism of the Muslim community, he cited examples of Muslims in Mosul who had committed atrocities against their Christian neighbors.

He said one Catholic from Mosul had described watching video footage of a man he recognized as his friend and neighbor pulling down the cross of a church rendered empty by the evacuation of Christians.

Archbishop Warda also said a Christian man displaced from Mosul had been phoned by a neighbor who told him he had entered his house and without permission had taken his cash and given half to IS and kept the rest for himself. 

“We visit the tents every day and speak to the people we are helping and they say they would like to go back to their homes immediately but how can you live among the people who were your neighbors when they have betrayed you?”


With picture of Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil (© ACN)


Editor’s Notes:




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 fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Feast of the Holy Rosary

"St. Dominic Receiving the Rosary from the Virgin Mary" - Artist unknown
Picture source

Today the Church honors the Blessed Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

In honor of this day and of the momentous victory of Lepanto, let us offer our prayer of the Holy Rosary for our Christian brothers and sisters being persecuted by Islamic terrorists, especially in Iraq and Syria.

The following is a little history of the rosary written by Msgr. Charles Dollen.  It is taken from his book Listen, Mother of God!: Reflections on the Litany of Loreto.

The Rosary devotion...was introduced by Blessed Alan de la Roche, a Domincan who lived...in the fifteenth century.  He piously referred it to his founder, St. Dominic, and while it is true to the spirit of Dominic and has roots in other, older Marian forms, Blessed Alan deserves the credit.

...it soon earned the name 'The Psalter of the Poor,' or 'The Poor Man's Breviary.'  The monks and nuns gathered together in their chapels to chant or recite the Divine Office, which, at heart, has the 150 Psalms to center its liturgical piety...

The 150 Aves of the Rosary imitated the 150 Psalms, and the divisions by tens into decades make counting them on the fingers quite easy and effortless.

But the great power of the Rosary comes from the fifteen meditations or mysteries [Note: this was written prior to Saint John Paul the Great adding the Luminous mysteries]...

The clients of Our Lady of the Rosary find great joy and comfort in its history.  Among the great events associated with this devotion is the great naval victory of the Christians over the Moslems at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.  Pope St. Pius V urged Christians to fast and pray to save Christendom from the hands of the infidels.  Their record of pillaging and enslaving Christians was notorious.  The prayer that this saintly pontiff, who was a Dominican, decreed was the Rosary.

After the victory was announced, he proclaimed that day the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and he said, 'By the Rosary the darkness of heresy has been dispelled and the light of the Catholic Faith shines out in all its brilliancy..."

At Fatima, the Blessed Mother again approved the Rosary, as she has at most private revelations in recent centuries....

Pope Leo XIII was the great modern devotee of the Rosary and it was he who designated October as the Month of the Rosary.  He published many works on the Rosary and never ceased to urge it on others.

"To appease the might of an outraged God, " he states in Octobri Mense, 'and to bring the health of sul so needed by those who are sorely afflicted, there is nothing better than devout prayer and persevering prayers, provided that it be joined with a love and practice of Christian life.  And both of these, the spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life, are best attained through the devotion of the Rosary of Mary..."


Among the various supplications with which we successfully appeal to the Virgin Mother of God, the Holy Rosary without doubt occupies a special and distinct place.  - Pope Pius XI

"This prayer is well-suited to the People of God, most pleasing to the Mother of God and most effective in gaining heaven's blessings." - Pope Paul VI

"Before we being reciting the Hours, or the Rosary, we should consider whom we are going to address, and who we are that are addressing Him, so that we may do so in the way we should.  I assure you that if you give all due attention to a consideration of these two points before beginning vocal prayers which you are about to say, you would be engaging in mental prayer for a very long time." - St. Teresa of Avila

"The Rosary is strength, it is power, it is a chain of gold which links us to Mary."  John Cardinal Carberry



Thursday, October 02, 2014

Padre Pio and His Guardian Angel

Picture source

Guardian Angel - "The companion of my infancy." - Saint Padre Pio


We are all in the presence of a celestial companion who
"does not abandon us, even when we disgust God." - Padre Pio

Padre Pio, according to Father Alessio Parente, OFM Cap, in his book Send Me Your Guardian Angel", had a extremely close relationship to his guardian angel.  He also had ecstasies and during these ecstasies, Padre Pio's guardian angel would speak to him, laugh with him and Padre Pio in return would tease him.

The following is the transcript of one such ecstasy which occurred on November 29, 1911:

"...Angel of God, my Angel...are you not taking care of me?...Are you a creature of God?...Either you're a creature of God or a creator... You're a creator?  No. Therefore you are God's creature and you have laws which you must obey... You must stay beside me whether you want to or not...He laughs..what is there to laugh about?  Tell me one thing... you must tell me..who was here yesterday morning? ...and he laughs...you must tell me...who was it?...Either Father Agostino or the Superior... tell me then... was it perhaps their secretaries?  Answer me now...If you don't answer me I will say it was one of those four...He laughs,...and Angel laughs!...Tell me then...I won't leave you until you tell me..

"If not, I will ask Jesus...and then you'll catch it!... Anyway, I won't ask that little Mother, that Lady...who looks at me so grimly...She's thee in a bad humour...Jesus isn't it true that your Mother is in a bad humour?...She laughs!...

"Now then, little man (his Guardian Angel), tell me who it was... No answer...he's there...like a fixture...I want to know one thing I asked you and I'm here a long time...Jesus, you tell me.. (It is assumed that there his Angel answers)...

What an intimate relationship Padre Pio had not only with his own angel but also with Jesus and Mary!

In the last part of the transcript is the following: "Jesus, will the evil one come tonight?...Well, help those two who assist me, protect and defend them... I know, you are there...but... Angel of mine, stay with me! Jesus, one last thing...let me kiss you...Fine!... how sweet are these wounds!... they bleed... but this blood is sweet... is sweet... Jesus, sweetness... Holy Host...Love, Love that sustains me...Love... until we met again! (a rivederci).."


Prayer to the Guardian Angel

O Holy Angel, whom God, by the effect of
His goodness and tender regard for my welfare,
has charged with the care of my conduct, who supports me when I am discouraged and continually
obtains for me new favors, I return thee profound thanks and conjure thee,
most amiable protector, to continue thy charitable care
and defense of me against the malignant attacks of all my enemies.
Keep me at a distance from all occasions of sin.
Obtain for me the grace of hearkening attentively
tot he holy inspirations and of faithfully
reducing them to practice.
Protect me in all the temptations and trials of this life,
but more especially at the hour of my death, and
do not leve me until you have conducted me into the presence of my Creator,
in the mansions of everlasting happiness.
Amen.