Thursday, March 16, 2017

ACN News - In Syria, the absurdity, cruelty of war continue



By Maria Lozano


“Before the war, Syria was widely respected in the Middle East. Education and healthcare were free. Homs was developing very well; people were earning a reasonable salary, food was not expensive and many people could afford to buy a house or a car. I was studying to become a dentist.”

The speaker is Majd J. and she is a volunteer for a project funded by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need to help families in need in the city of Homs. The eyes of this young Syrian woman shine brightly as she sits in her overcoat to protect herself from the cold—there is no heating in people’s homes. The windows in many of the houses are smashed because of the impact of missiles.

Majd relates how one family lost their son, who died of his illness for lack of medication, and how they now have another who has been diagnosed with cancer. Another family has just lost its father, who died of a heart attack as a result of the stress and suffering of the last few years. With tears in her eyes, she looks straight at me and says, very slowly: “I understand nothing of this conflict. Nothing.”

Many miles away from Homs, in the region of Zaleh, in Lebanon, where many thousands of Syrians have taken refuge—Christians and Muslims alike—the father of a family comments: “The cure has been worse than the sickness. There were problems with Assad, but what has befallen us since then with the Islamic State has been simply inhuman.”

“In the town of Rakkah we weren’t allowed to smoke in the street, and girls of six had to cover up completely before going outside. We were living in fear every day.”

Syrians continue to suffer, even though the media seem to have fallen silent since the conclusion of the battle for Aleppo. However, the situation in that city continues to be precarious. Electricity is scarce, and there is no steady supply of water—weeks can go by without; and there is a grave shortage of fuel for heating and cooking.

Wearing a scarf bearing the Arabic word for “Syria,” a pregnant woman is weeping. In her womb, two babies are fighting each other. The mother is holding a dagger, threatening to stab herself. This is one of hundreds of drawings sent to ACN by both Muslim and Christian Syrian children, who were asked to express their feelings about the country’s civil war. This drawing’s stark message is all too clear: Syria is continuing to kill its own.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, ACN has committed more than $15M in aid to the suffering Christians of Syria, helping countless Muslims in the process.


With picture of drawing by a Syrian child sent to ACN (© 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, March 02, 2017

WAY OF THE CROSS



by Brother John Samaha, S.A.


Christians have never been required to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem as Muslims have been required to visit Mecca to commemorate Muhammad's hegira or flight.  Rather Christian holy places have been transported to churches  across the world in the form of the stations of the cross.  "Making the stations" requires only moving from one station to the next.  The stations themselves, although often accompanied by elaborate artistic depictions, are simply small wooden crosses.

        A tradition holds that the Virgin Mary daily retraced the steps of the way of the cross.  However, only in the Middle Ages did this devotion flourish.  In the earliest centuries of Christianity the focus was on the risen Christ.  Medieval Christians emphasized the passion and death of Jesus and wished to tread in his very footsteps.  Those who could afford to do so made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   Others had the Holy Land brought to them in the form of the stations of the cross, reproductions of the holy places of Jerusalem erected in their locales. 

        When the Franciscans were given custody of the holy places of Jerusalem in 1343,  they aroused in the faithful an active interest in the passion of Christ.  In the eighteenth century the Franciscan St. Leonard of Port Maurice, "preacher of the way of the cross," spread the devotion widely, making it possible for non-Franciscan churches t0 have the stations.  Previously this was not allowed. 


        Originally fourteen stations were the norm.  In 1975 Pope Paul VI approved a fifteenth station, the resurrection.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A Lenten Reflection - The Story of a Prince



"There was once a king, lord of many kingdoms, who had one only son, so beautiful, so holy, so amiable, that he was the delight of his father, who loved him as much as himself. This young prince had a great affection for one of his slaves; so much so that, the slave having committed a crime for which he had been condemned to death, the prince offered himself to die for the slave; the father, being jealous of justice, was satisfied to condemn his beloved son to death, in order that the slave might remain free from the punishment that he deserved: and thus the son died a malefactor's death, and the slave was freed from punishment."

- Saint Alphonsus di Liguori, The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

ACN News - South Sudan’s bishops cry out for aid, protection for civilians

By Esther Gaitan-Fuertes


The “people live in fear.” That was the thrust of an urgent pastoral appeal issued by South Sudan’s seven bishops, who charged both government troops and the armed opposition with using force against civilians as part of an ongoing civil war in the country.

A copy of the bishops’ pastoral letter was obtained by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The prelates wrote: “Some towns have become ‘ghost towns’, empty except for security forces and perhaps members of one faction or tribe. Even when they have fled to our churches or to UN camps for protection, they are still harassed by security forces.”

The bishops insisted that the humanitarian crisis that grips South Sudan is mostly due to insecurity and poor economic management: “Millions of our people are affected, with large numbers displaced from their homes and many fleeing to neighboring countries, where they are facing appalling hardships in refugee camps.”

The bishops have called on Caritas South Sudan and its international partners to act urgently to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan; they also called on the international to intervene.

The Church leaders, expressing concern that “some elements within the government appear to be suspicious of the Church,” affirmed that the Church does not take sides in the conflict.

The wrote: “We are FOR all good things - peace, justice, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, dialogue, the rule of law, good governance – and we are AGAINST evil - violence, killing, rape, torture, looting, corruption, arbitrary detention, tribalism, discrimination, oppression.”

The bishops expressed their readiness to meet with any party “who we believe has the power to change our country for the better.”

The bishops called on Catholics in South Sudan to “work for justice and peace; reject violence and revenge.” They also asked for prayers that Pope Francis’ intention to visit the nation later this year will become a reality.


With picture of displaced children in South Sudan (© 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, February 02, 2017

Meatless Recipes in time for Lent - Corn Chowder and Vietnamese Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwich

Corn Chowder

Kernels from four fresh ears of corn (or 2 cups frozen)
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 celery stalk, minced
1 large potato, diced
2 Tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 can evaporated milk (or 2 cups half and half)
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or soup pot.  Add the onions, garlic and celery and cook until wilted.  Add the corn and potatoes.  Stir and add the brother.  Bring to a boil and then lower to simmer.  Adjust seasonings.  When potatoes are cooked, add the milk and bring to a boil.  If the soup needs further thickening, mix together 1 to 2 tablespoons flour with 1/2 cup broth or water until smooth and add this to the chowder.  Heat until soup thickens.







Vietnamese Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwich

Mini French Bread
Cilantro leaves
Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickles
Watercress leaves (optional)
Jicama slices (optional


Carrot and Daikon Pickles

2 large carrots
1 medium sized daikon (white radish)
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 large teaspoon Hawaiian rock salt (or Kosher)
1/4 cup Rice wine vinegar

Julienne the carrots and daikon uniformly.  In a large bowl add the rest of the ingredients and let the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add the julienned carrots and daikon and let rest until liquid from the vegetables are released.  NOTE:  if eating in the sandwich, make sure to drain the pickles otherwise the sandwich will be soggy.

To assemble, place the bread in the oven and turn on the oven until it pre-heats.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Slice open the bread but be careful not to cut all the way through.  Remove the inside of the bread if needed.

Place a layer of the pickles inside each roll, layer with cilantro, watercress and Jicama slices.

Serve immediately.


Bishop Larry Silva's Pastoral Letter Regarding the Threat of Physician Assisted Suicide

To the Parishioners of the Diocese of Honolulu regarding Assisted Suicide Dear Sisters and Brothers

Peace be with you! 

At this time our beloved State of Hawaii is considering going the way of other states in making physician assisted suicide acceptable and legal. We need your prayers and your involvement to assure that this does not happen.

We presume that those who are proponents are acting out of what they believe to be very noble intentions. However, assisted suicide is yet another manifestation of what St. John Paul II referred to as the “culture of death,” while we are always committed to a culture of life. 

Proponents do not refer to this as “suicide,” since suicide always implies a tragic choice, but rather as compassion in choices. Can anyone be opposed to compassion? And does not God himself give us freedom to make choices in our lives? As your pastor it is my obligation to expose what seems to be an act of goodness and caring as just the opposite, as a wolf in sheep’s clothing appears to be what it is not. 

Proponents speak of the autonomy of the individual to make his or her own choice about when to die when faced with a painful or debilitating terminal illness. What strikes me as ironic, however, is that people have been committing suicide quite autonomously for thousands of years; yet now, in the name of “autonomy” one must have the permission of one’s doctor, lawyer, and legislature. Seeking such societal approval betrays full autonomy and exposes the fact that, deep down, people know this is not something good. The authority of others is being sought to give permission for what is against our human nature.

Another reality involved is our “disposable culture” as Pope Francis calls it in his critiques. In this worldview, human beings who are unproductive, weak, and vulnerable lose their “value,” and this diminishes their true humanity. It cannot be denied that terminally ill people have burdens to bear that are very heavy, and their caretakers also have many hardships. It costs a tremendous amount of time and money to care for someone who is very sick. Yet true compassion means “suffering with” someone – or allowing others to suffer with us – and while it is very humbling, the most intimate bonds of human caring can be nurtured in just such circumstances. I recall a friend who was dying of AIDS who told me he began to consider the disease a blessing – not for the suffering and ultimate death it would bring, but because he learned how many people truly cared for him. By allowing himself to be vulnerable to them, he learned that compassion is a form of love that binds us together quite intimately.

We often hear the Scriptures say, “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10). This means that we are wisest when we recognize that we are not gods ourselves, making all our own choices and creating our own realities, and when we realize that God’s law is not burdensome but the way that guides us to true human freedom. Although God always gives us freedom to choose whether to worship and obey God or not, he also makes it clear that there are consequences to our choices. While we know that God is merciful and compassionate beyond our imaginations, he also has taught us that we can choose to reject him, and such a choice leads to our eternal detriment. Wisdom dictates that if one decides to take to him- or herself the decision about when life should end, rather than leaving that decision to God, one should be aware of the real possibility that such a choice could backfire. If a person is suffering tremendously in this life and takes the decision to escape by ending one’s life, there should be no surprise if on the other side of this life, there is suffering that cannot compare to any earthly suffering. And there is no medication that will allow one to escape from this eternal suffering! God wants to give us eternal life and joy, but the wisdom that takes us there is fear of the Lord.

We are talking here, of course, of those who, with clear mind and will, decide to end their lives. We know that most suicides are committed by people who do not have clear minds and wills, whose depression has locked them into such darkness that they do not think there is any other escape besides suicide. Just as we view this as a tragedy, but still feel real mercy toward the person, I am sure God’s mercy also goes out to these tortured souls. But the proposed law that allows physician assisted suicide usually stipulates that the person must be terminally ill and make a full and conscious choice to request the “medication.” Perhaps in some way, this is even more tragic for the person who ends life in this way, perhaps for the loved ones, and certainly for society itself, which actually fails in its compassion and mercy.

 A bishop in a state that already allows physician assisted suicide spoke of his mother in a care home, and how she was so readily offered the choice of ending her life with medication. It was an indicator that once the door is open to embracing death so easily, the slope to euthanasia – or a culture of euthanasia – is not far behind. It is certainly cheaper and easier to end a life than to care for it in the midst of suffering. Will decisions be made on economic expediency? Will others around the patient, such as heirs, be more motivated to aid in the rapid demise of the patient for their own benefit? Will this be another weapon in the hands of those who already abuse the elders they care for, a problem that has become quite serious?

In light of all I have said, however, I do want to speak of the Church’s desire to care for the sick and to alleviate as much pain as possible. Physicians have told me that these days palliative care is so well developed that no one need suffer the tremendous pain that often comes with a terminal illness. While there is a sense in which suffering can be redemptive, united to the sufferings that Christ himself endured on the cross, the control of pain is certainly advisable and available. Nor does the Catholic Church teach that a terminally ill patient must exhaust all extraordinary means of medical care until the very end. Dying is a natural part of life, and it is meant to be the gateway to eternal happiness with God. But such is only possible when a person recognizes God’s sovereignty and does not give such sovereignty to any person or any institution, including oneself.

As faithful citizens of Hawaii and stewards of the Gospel, I ask you all to:  Pray fervently that physician assisted suicide will not be permitted in our state;  Sign the petition that is being distributed by the Hawaii Catholic Conference and encourage your family and friends to do the same;  Contact your legislators and to ask them not to allow physician assisted suicide in our state, no matter with what euphemistic name it is cloaked. Visit https://www.hawaiifamilyforum.org/action-center/ to find out who your legislator is, send an email to your legislator and to sign an online petition. By signing up online, you will find out exactly when the bills are being heard and any call to action.

 The suffering of others is a call to us all, not to end life by offering a lethal “medication,” but to care for them in love, even when it is most difficult to do so. It is the way of love and true compassion that will lead to eternal joy in the presence of the One who is Love!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Larry Silva Bishop of Honolulu


Monday, January 23, 2017

ACN News - In South Sudan, survival is daily struggle for ordinary citizens



In South Sudan, survival is daily struggle for ordinary citizens



South Sudan, located in the heart of Africa, is the youngest nation in the world; it gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. Two years later, a civil war broke out, pitting the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against the opposition; the conflict has since become a brutal tribal war.

The UN estimates that there are 1.7 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the country, 75 percent of whom are struggling to survive in the three states hardest-hit by conflict, Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), an international Catholic charity, recently spoke with a pastoral worker in South Sudan who asked to remain anonymous.

By Maria Lozano


What role does tribal culture play in the conflict?

There is the mentality that holds that the tribe is the most important social unit, and that individual lives have to serve the tribes, as directed by councils of elders, even today.

Many tribes coexist in South Sudan, fighting for cows as symbols of power and wealth. Conflict has never been rooted in hate or genocide; the pursuit of wealth was the cause of any fighting.

In short, the people of South Sudan lack a sense of national identity. Their allegiance to their tribe comes first—and that often leads to conflict.

What is happening today, however, is that the leaders of different tribes fight, not for cows, but for political power and money (e.g. oil, timber, minerals). These elites care more for their own advantage than for the well-being of the people, many of whom are starving; inflation in the country has hit 800 percent!

Perhaps the worst aspect of the conflict is that tribal leaders present their struggle for political and economic power as an ethnic conflict—which it is definitely not.

What is the impact of the conflict on ordinary citizens?

They have to leave their lands when conflict erupts; they lose all their possessions—cattle, homes, land. They become IDPs or they flee the country to become refugees. In either case, they are forced to live in camps where there is lack of food and water; where there are no schools—where, in short, there is no future.

Most of the families have lost loved ones in the fighting; some have been recruited by force, even children; women suffer rape and violence, and then are stigmatized because of being violated.

There is a grave shortage of medical care, in particular, and there are growing number of deaths among the elderly, women and children. International aid falls far short.

What is the work you are doing in the country?

We work with the local Catholic Church—training teachers, nurses, midwives, and agricultural workers. We are also training pastoral agents, to prepare them for the work of evangelization, as well as peace-building and reconciliation efforts.

We also operate student centers. Students come from different tribes and they live and study together, peacefully—building a mentality of unity among themselves as a bulwark against ethnic hatred.

The result is a living witness that unity and fraternity are possible in South Sudan.


Since its independence, ACN has supported projects in South Sudan for more than $4.2M. The help went to pastoral aid, Mass stipends, the building of Church infrastructure, as well as humanitarian supplies.


With picture of displaced children in South Sudan (© 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

Friday, January 06, 2017

ACN - Mother & son survived two years under the thumb of the Islamic State



By Jaco Klamer


Late last year, Ismail fled Mosul with his mother Jandark Behnam Mansour Nassi (55), the two having survived ISIS’ reign of terror for two years. From the safety of Erbil, Kurdistan, the Iraqi Christians, former residents of the town of Bartella, on the Nineveh plain, told their story to international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).


“I was put in the prison of Bartella,” confirms Ismail. “One day a Shiite was shot dead right in front of me. The terrorists told me: ‘If you do not convert to Islam, we will shoot you as well.’ That is when I converted to Islam. From that time on, we concealed that we were Christians.”

“We received a document from ISIS stating that we were Muslims,” continues Ismail. “That way, I could go out on the street in Mosul, though you could not be sure of your life. Once, I was beaten up because my trousers were too long.”

“Another time, when I was going to the mosque with the jihadists, our path was blocked. Suddenly we were passed by men in orange suits, held at gunpoint by a group of ISIS children. The children executed them with pleasure.”

“Another time I ran into a big crowd on the street. There was a woman; her hands and feet were tied. The ISIS terrorists drew a circle around her. If she got out of the circle, she would live, but that was impossible because she was tied up. While her relatives were crying and begging for a pardon, the jihadists threw stones at her until she died.”

Ismael’s story continues: “ISIS put me in a correctional camp. I had to grow out my hair and grow my beard. My mother got a black, all-concealing robe, but she was not allowed to go outside. ISIS warriors wanted me to marry, so I would be one of them. I objected, stating that I was too young: just 15. But even boys as young as 13 were getting married.”

“My son was forced by ISIS to practice Islam and I was tortured for not knowing anything about Islam and the Koran,” says his mother. “I am embarrassed for having had to profess Islam,” says Ismail.

He adds: “Men were forced to pray in the mosque on Friday. Anyone who would walk the streets during Friday prayers would be beaten. Preachers proclaimed that Assyrians were evil and that Christians did not believe in the right way.”

“Then the ISIS warriors discovered my necklace with a cross. They beat me and I had to study the Koran for a month. I was hit whenever I could not answer their questions the way they wanted me to, and my mother was stung with long needles because she had not studied anything from the Koran.”

Then the battle for the liberation of Mosul began in the fall of 2016. “When the terrorists grew too busy with the battle, they abandoned us,” says Ismael, continuing: “We took a taxi to the front, heading towards our freedom, but ISIS snipers tried to shoot us. We ran for cover into a house.”

“After hours of fighting, my mother and I were able to leave the house, waving a white flag. Soldiers of the Iraqi army welcomed us. We were free!”

        ​
Ismael and his mother (© ACN, photo by Jaco Klamer)


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, December 22, 2016

CHRISTIAN GENOCIDE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.


          We are lulled into thinking that a disaster like the Holocaust will never again happen.  But that is not the reality.  Since 1940 there have been a number of genocides.  And one is happening at this very moment.

          In the Middle East Christians are being eliminated wholesale.  In 2003 Christians were one of the largest minorities in Iraq numbering about 1.5 million.  By 2014 that number had diminished to about a half million because many fled violence or were forced to leave.  ISIS targeted them.  Now only 200,000 remain in Iraq, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.  That means about 87 per cent have gone in only 13 years.  

          However, the Iraqi Christians are not the only people suffering persecution.  In Iran more than 550 Christians have been arrested and detained arbitrarily since
2010.  In Syria churches are being closed or destroyed by ISIS.  Christians are attacked and kidnapped.  In Turkey Christians continue to struggle against inequality.

          What is being done to correct this shameful abuse of our brothers and sisters in the faith?   Seemingly very little.  Today mention of the Middle East brings to mind war and constant conflict, inequality, and cities reduced to rubble. 

          The Middle East is the cradle of Christianity.  It is home to a devout Christian faith that is long-standing, that has nurtured many beautiful churches and loving communities, and that has undergone many trials.

          Just because this holocaust is not front page news does not mean it is not happening.  It is time to raise our voices and to martial forces to correct this crisis; to pray, to appeal to our legislators and government officials to take action.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

ACN News - Aleppo is burning—three days in the life of a city under siege

The following report is written by an Aleppo-based Jesuit priest, who preferred to remain anonymous.


Dec. 8, 2016

In the last few days the news has come in thick and fast. The government forces have been retaking the zones that it has lost control of ever since 2012. The people here are hoping this military action will finally eject the rebels and that we will no longer have their shells falling on us.

The Jesuit Center at the Church of St. Vartan has also been hit, as the photo below shows. The translation of the caption is: “The walls are charred and blackened, our crucified Lord riddled with bullet holes, mutilated… But for five years He has remained like that on the cross, in solidarity with our suffering and isolation. He is still there, disfigured, like our city, revealing to us the suffering of God, faced with the savagery of men.”

Civilians from the eastern zones are beginning to flood in. Sadly, many associations, and indeed even humanitarian organizations, are jumping at the opportunity to make money. Everybody is trying to provide psychological support. It is easy to do and very profitable. You put on a bit of music, you dance around the place; it doesn’t matter if the children who take part are cold or not; it doesn’t matter if they take part in your party or not; it doesn’t matter if this is their most overriding need, or if they are in a psychological state that allows people to actually benefit from this so-called “psychological support;” all that matters is to do the work and get money.

But there are worse things – like the organizations that turn up in great numbers when there is a television camera filming, but then disappear again as soon as the filming stops. Other people are going in with food and distributing it by throwing it to people as if they were wild animals and not human beings. 

In Jibrine (west of the airport), where they are assembling and giving shelter to the refugees, we have got to know the Palestinian Red Crescent. This organization is trying to really do something, but doesn’t have the resources.

December 9, 2016

Apparently a thousand refugees have arrived in Jibrine. They are hungry and they urgently need immediate assistance. 
December 11, 2016

It was yesterday evening around 5.45 pm. Every Saturday the people come to the residence for half an hour of meditation, followed by Holy Mass at 6 pm. Suddenly, there was a violent explosion, followed by a second. I threw myself on the ground and a third explosion followed. After a few moments of calm, I emerged from my office to see devastation everywhere. Then there was a fourth explosion and I threw myself on the ground again on the debris of the broken glass. Four grenades did their damage

Sometimes, in the face of disaster, people think that God should not have allowed it to happen. But we, who live with death—by choice, for we could avoid it by moving out of the city—can see that God is always there; His providence alleviates the evil to the extent that man’s free will “permits” it. 

        ​
With picture from 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