Thursday, January 23, 2020

ACN-USA News - Bishop Venezuelans are being denied ‘the basics of life’

IT WAS THE DAY of the pilgrimage in honor of the Virgin Mary as the ‘Divina Pastora’ (Divine Shepherdess), which takes place annually in the Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto. Bishop Victor Hugo Basabe of San Felipe, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Barquisimeto, used the Jan. 14 occasion to reflect on the ongoing plight of the Venezuelan people.

Touching on despair and disappointment as well as on hope and faith, the bishop’s homily that day held a message of encouragement addressed to the Venezuelan people. Bishop Basabe compared the country’s current situation to the persecution of the inhabitants of the biblical city of Bethulia, as recorded in the Book of Judith, which was featured in the reading of the day. Venezuelans, too, he said, are “a besieged people, a people that someone wants to debase, and deny the basics of life.”

The bishop condemned the “institutional violence that persecutes and banishes those who disagree with the status quo and want [the ousting] of the country’s leaders, as the latter force many of our loved ones to find new ways and search for new horizons to ensure their survival.” He praised health-care professionals who work "acts of magic" in a country which does not allow them “to exercise their profession, even with the necessary bare minimum.”

The prelate referred to the “international and geopolitical situation” currently affecting Venezuela. He spoke of “shadowy interests, hypocritically uninterested in the lives of millions of human beings, who are pushed into the most abject poverty.” The country is the victim of a system led by people who care only about “what they can get out of Venezuela and not what they can do for it.”

Bishop Basabe stressed how important it is for the people to be governed by politicians who truly love the country, who hold “sufficient ethical principles of reference,” in contrast with “self-centered and partisan interests.” The Venezuelan people, “eager for change,” has been betrayed, he said, by “those merchants of politics in whom it placed its trust [in the Dec. 6, 2015 parliamentary elections], because they aspired to change.” In the end, the people “sold themselves for a pittance.”

This people “are thus the victim of the new Holofernes—[the Assyrian general who besieged] Bethulia. They took control of the country, which they can hold only through force. And despite the oath they took to defend the country and its citizens, today they are politically biased and cowardly turned against the same people when it demands its rights and cries out for justice.”

Mindful of the reason for the pilgrimage and rooted in the love for Mary ‘Divina Pastora,’ the Bishop compared the Virgin’s suffering over the death of Jesus to the suffering of millions of Venezuelan mothers faced with “the death of their children from hunger and malnutrition and from [their children’s] physical absence due to their forced migration.” Bishop Basabe asked Mary for her intercession to see that “Venezuela moves along the paths of true peace, democracy and freedom.”

The expansive and dynamic homily met with loud applause from the congregation after the bishop concluded with a message of hope, faith and unity for the Venezuelan people. “It is time for trust and unity so that we, as a people, can set ourselves up as a wall of peaceful resistance against those who want to besiege us and make us lose trust in God and in a better destiny, through the intimidating use of power and might.” He urged all Venezuelans to reject and combat “improper behavior” that allows “evil” to choke off “goodness.”

— Mónica Zorita


With picture of the Virgin Mary as Divina Pastora (© 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, January 17, 2020

ACN News -Nigeria – ‘Darkness has thrived, but it has never won’



HE ISLAMIC STATE West Africa Province (ISWAP) on Dec. 26, 2019 released a video of its fighters beheading 10 blindfolded Christian hostages and shooting an eleventh on Christmas Day. The victims’ names have not been released, but an earlier ISWAP video revealed that they’d been taken from the Nigerian states of Borno and Yobe. The terror perpetrated by ISWAP and Boko Haram has deeply scarred Nigerians, particularly the country’s Christians, who suffered a further shock from news of the Dec. 26 beheading of a bridal party of seven of in Gwoza, Borno State.

Aid to the Church in Need spoke about the killings with Father Panachy Longinus Ogbede, the pastor of the Church of the Visitation in Lagos, Nigeria. Father Panachy said:

“We must never accept violence. It is not a part of our culture. Traditional Nigerians are known to have discussions; our forefathers taught us that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves everyone blind and toothless. There will always be better and more productive ways to express our grievances.

“But many people feel otherwise. They would benefit from a stronger relationship with God, which leads to more positive relationships with other human beings; it’s how the human being becomes sacred in our eyes.

“We are quickly losing our sense of the sacred, as well as our sense of community. Egotism and relativism have crept in everywhere, and we have forgotten that there are still objective truths. It is not right to kill your brothers and sisters. It is not right to behave cruelly. I implore Boko Haram and ISWAP to reconsider their ways.

“The truth is that Christians cannot leave their homelands. Where would we emigrate to? And for how long? We are aliens everywhere we go. We must learn tolerance and fortitude; we must persist and live freely.

“The Scriptures predicted hard times for us, but hard times don’t last. Tough people do. Life is filled with ups and downs, which are often the results of human selfishness. And there will always be a Judas among the disciples. There will always be a child who strays, who goes left, when everyone else goes right. And when they do, they see that it rarely works out. 

“It’s when things fluctuate that we find opportunities for growth. And in order to achieve that growth, we must accept instability, imperfection, and uncertainty. Life is a mystery and requires our ongoing formation. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must walk through that tunnel before we reach it, or even see it.

“The early apostles faced persecution, too. But Christ has never abandoned His Church. Without Him, all of us would be gone. Darkness has thrived, but it has never won.”

—Tobore Ovuorie


With picture of Father Panachy (© 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, January 14, 2020

ACN-USA News - Four seminarians abducted – Nigeria risks becoming a failed state



Armed intruders broke their way into a seminary in Nigeria and abducted four seminarians. The incident happened on Jan. 8, 2020, at the Major Seminary of the Good Shepherd in the city of Kaduna in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.

The kidnapped seminarians are Pius Kanwai (19), Peter Umenukor, (23), Stephen Amos (23) and Michael Nnadi (18). They come from various Catholic dioceses of northern Nigeria and had only recently begun to study for the priesthood. At this writing (Jan. 13), there has as yet been no news of them since their abduction and no information as to their whereabouts. And so far nothing is known of the identity or background of their abductors. There has been no indication that the kidnapping had a religion-based motivation; nor has there been news of a ransom demand.

The security situation across the Middle Belt region is extremely precarious, owing to the numerous attacks on mainly Christian villages by mainly Muslim Fulani herdsmen. Thousands have been killed and many thousands saw their homes destroyed. Meanwhile, in the northeast of Nigeria, Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa are continuing their terror campaigns.

Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of Aid to the Church in Need International, commented: “The security situation in Nigeria is appalling. Criminal gangs are further exploiting the chaotic situation and making matters still worse.”

He said that the Nigerian government must take urgent action to protect the lives and property of its citizens—otherwise Nigeria would run the risk of becoming a “failed state.”

Said Heine-Geldern: “The murders and abductions remind me of the situation in Iraq before the invasion of ISIS. Already at that stage, Christians were being abducted, robbed and murdered because there was no protection by the state.”

“This must not be allowed to happen to the Christians of Nigeria. The government must act now, before it is too late.”

Speaking of the families of the abducted seminarians, Heine-Geldern said: “They must be going through a terrible time,” he said, adding: “For years now Nigeria’s Christians have been going through hell, but their faith remains unshaken.”

He called for prayers for the safe return of the seminarians.

—Maria Lozano

With picture of Gate of Good Shepherd Major Seminary (© 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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Book Review -The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted - Author Anthony DeStefano

The following book review was written by Rosa Sautner, a Catholic homeschooling mom of two.

A very charming rhyming book illustrated with touching images of a frightened little seed.  The story of the seed who is afraid to be put into the ground and planted contains many truths about our life.  It offers pleasant rhyme to help children learn about dying to oneself in order to live in Christ.  The story can also be used to help explain why we are afraid to die in this life.  We don't know what joy the next life contains, we only know the "now" of our existence.  If we trust the Divine Gardener and let him do as He wills with us, we will see all the joy that He has planned for us in the next life .  These are profound truths that can be told in simple story form for children.  A lovely book that would be a very appropriate gift for Lent or Easter.

Video

Monday, December 16, 2019

EWTN Tolkien Documentary Receives First Place Prize in Rome



EWTN Original Documentary Receives First Place Prize
Second Award This Year For ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: An Unexpected Friend’

Irondale, AL (EWTN) – The English language version of the EWTN Original Film “J.R.R. Tolkien – An Unexpected Friend,” a co-production of EWTN and Diego Blanco Albarova, won top honors in the Best Documentary category at the 2019 Mirabile Dictu International Catholic Film Festival in Rome. The four-day festival was founded in 2010 by Liana Marabini under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
“This award is one of only five given – out of more than 1,500 total entries,” said EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw. “The Spanish language version of this same EWTN Original Documentary was honored earlier this year with a First Place Gabriel Award by the Catholic Press Association.”
John Elson, Director of EWTN Co-Productions, said this documentary is a journey to the Christian meaning of the “Lord of the Rings.”
“Tolkien, who was a practicing Catholic, hid the Gospel in his most famous story. This documentary answers questions such as: Is this epic fantasy adventure a parable? Do orcs, elves and hobbits hide the precious pearl of the Gospel? What does the ring mean and why is it necessary to destroy it? Who is the enemy?”
The documentary airs on EWTN television at various times throughout the year (www.ewtn.com/channelfinder), and can be purchased on a single CD containing both the English and Spanish language versions from EWTN Religious Catalogue at http://bit.ly/ERCHDUF.
The Mirabile Dictu International Catholic Film Festival was launched to honor producers, filmmakers, documentaries, docu-fiction, TV series, short films and programs “that promote universal moral values and positive models.” The competition honors entries in five categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Short Film, Best Documentary, and the Capax Dei Foundation Special Prize for Evangelization.
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 38th 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.
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Photo Caption: EWTN’s Original Film “J.R.R. Tolkien – An Unexpected Friend,” a co-production of EWTN and Diego Blanco Albarova, won top honors in the Best Documentary category at the 2019 Mirabile Dictu International Catholic Film Festival in Rome. Accepting the award for EWTN are Anthony Johnson (l) and Alexey Gotovsky (r) from EWTN’s Rome Bureau with English Actor Rupert Wynne-James, one of the Festival judges. The documentary airs on EWTN television at various times throughout the year (www.ewtn.com/channelfinder), and can be purchased on a single CD containing both the English and Spanish language versions from EWTN Religious Catalogue at http://bit.ly/ERCHDUF.


 

ACN NewsAs Venezuela’s crisis continues, “We priests also feel tempted to leave”



THE CRISIS IN VENEZUELA has many faces. Among them are the faces of a small part of the population that is hardly ever mentioned in the news: priests. The Venezuelan Church, just like the rest of society, is suffering—and priests share the deprivations of the population, a shortage of food, medicine, etc.

“I teach at a school and have taken over the pastoral care at a hospital so that I at least have the bare necessities for survival. I also lecture at the seminary. This barely keeps me afloat,” said Father Ángel Colmenares.

He added: “In these critical times, temptation is everywhere. The worst temptation is to get used to these circumstances, to start believing that ‘times are bad, and so there is nothing I can do.’”

According to the United Nations, more than four million people have emigrated from Venezuela in the last few years. “We priests also feel tempted to leave the country. After all, clergy are needed elsewhere as well. When the family falls upon hard times, or parents or siblings can no longer earn a living, leaving becomes one way to help them,” said Father Colmenaras.

Last year, about ten priests had to leave the country to get medical treatment and at least four priests died because of a lack of basic medicines for cancer or diabetes. Robberies and violence are another problem: Father Irailuis García from Barquisimeto was killed in a July 2018 robbery.

Father Colmenaras ministry includes simply walks down the streets, paths and stairs of the city district of Ezequiel Zamora, a very poor section in Catia La Mar. As he walks the neighborhood, locals are very happy to see him.

He said: “Many cannot believe that anyone would come here to this conflict-ridden district. But I want to be close to all and bring them the Gospel with joy and without being stingy with my time and help.”

The priest has become a lifeline for the community, a father and a brother, and even a builder: He said: “We are tearing down the wall that was built around the church. This is supposed to be an outward sign that the Church wants to be close to the people. We had to repair the roof and set up several rooms for catechesis.”

“The families here have almost nothing, but they still help out with the work that needs doing in the church. I contribute the same amount from the Mass stipends that I receive. Little by little, we are getting things done. We want the best for Our Lord,” the priest explained, adding: “I encourage everyone to always be happy and prepared to spread the message throughout the entire neighborhood that the Lord is here, that there is a truth here.”

“The Lord wants us to be joyful and we have to show everyone our joy in the risen Lord, despite all the difficulties.”

“In addition to the economic crisis, society as a whole is going through a profound moral crisis. Theft, alcohol abuse and prostitution are on the rise. The people who want to survive do not have a problem with stooping to these things. This engenders distrust and uncertainty and makes it impossible to live side by side with one another,” Father Colmenares said.


Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is an important source of support for the Venezuelan Church. Father Colmenares receives aid in the form of Mass stipends. ACN also gave him the money for a bed, a washing machine and a refrigerator to keep fresh the food that the diocese gives to the poor.

—Josué Villalón


With picture of Father Angel Colmenares (© 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, November 13, 2019

ACN News Catholic priest is murdered in Syria—“We continue to feel the presence of ISIS”



“THE WAR IN SYRIA IS NOT OVER YET. We continue to feel the presence of ISIS.” These are the words of Armenian Catholic Archbishop Boutros Marayati of Aleppo. He spoke by telephone with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) following the Nov. 11 murder of Father Hovsep Bedoyan, parish priest of the Armenian Catholic parish of Saint Joseph in Qamishli in northeastern Syria

The archbishop said that Father Hovsep had been on his way to Deir ez-Zor to supervise the re-building work on the Church of the Martyrs there. “We are trying to rebuild the church and the houses of the Christians who used to live there, so that they can return to the city,” he said.

Father Bedoyan (43) was traveling by car together with three other people: his father, Ibrahim Bedoyan, a deacon and another layperson. The archbishop continued: “Shortly before they arrived at Deir ez-Zor, two armed men on a motorcycle overtook their car and opened fire.”

“The father of the priest was killed instantly, while Father Hovsep Hanna died later outside the hospital in Hasaka.” The deacon was also wounded, while the other layman was able to escape uninjured.

The incident is still being investigated. “So far we don’t know who killed him, although it appears that ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.”

“What we do know is that Father Hovsep was dressed in his priestly attire and was consequently identifiable as a priest, in addition to the fact that his car was clearly marked, in large letters, with the words ‘Armenian Catholic Church,’” said the archbishop. Hence it is entirely plausible that Father Hovsep was murdered because he was a priest and because of his efforts to re-establish the Christian presence in Deir ez-Zor.

“This is a very important town for us,” Archbishop Marayati stressed, “because it is there that many of our martyrs were killed as they fled the Turkish genocide of 1915. Today there are no Armenian Catholics left there. Undoubtedly, the Turks don’t want us to return, because our presence would be a reminder of the Armenian genocide.”

At midday local time Nov. 12, the funeral Mass for Father Hovsep Hanna was celebrated in Qamishli. The entire community was present, including many Muslims, with everyone wishing to demonstrate the unity and solidarity of the entire town.

It is a town that is now threatened by severe tensions, owing to the clashes between Turks and Kurds. The archbishop said: “The situation is chaotic. There are Turks, Kurds, Americans and Russians. Just yesterday there were three explosions.”

“The Christians are afraid; with every new outbreak of violence, many families are deciding to emigrate.” Before the war, there were some 5,000 Armenian Catholics and five churches in the region. Today, there are just 2,000 faithful and only two churches remain open.

Archbishop Marayati appealed to the international community: “All we are asking is that this war should end, but that will not be possible if people continue to help the terrorists and send arms to Syria.”

The archbishop also addressed Christians all over the world: “I beg you to pray for us and for our people, because at present we are living through extremely difficult times.”

—Marta Petrosillo


With pictures of Father-Hovseb-Bedoyan (© 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 17, 2019

ACN-USA News - Pope blesses Marian icon in support of campaign to console Christians in Syria


ON THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION, Pope Francis blessed 6,000 rosaries earmarked for suffering Syrian Christians; on Sept. 15, 2019, these rosaries were distributed in Catholic and Orthodox churches throughout Syria. That same day, the Pope blessed a Marian icon that will travel the country.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) commissioned the icon of the “Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Consolatrix of the Syrian People” as part of the “Console my People” campaign of prayer for Syrian Christians sponsored by ACN alongside the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Syria. The campaign seeks to comfort those families who had loved ones abducted or killed during the eight years of the Syrian civil war.

The 6000 rosaries, commissioned by ACN and produced by Christian craftsmen in Bethlehem and Damascus, were distributed in parishes across the country’s 34 Christian dioceses in commemoration of the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

At Mass and during processions, the faithful’s prayers went out to those who were killed or abducted during the war and to their families. Some 2000 Christian families in Syria have lost one or more loved ones during the conflict and 800 families had a family member abducted.

Along with the rosaries, Bibles in Arabic—donated by ACN—were distributed, along with crosses made in the Holy Land of olive wood and blessed by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ephraim III.

Following the Pope’s Sept. 15 meeting with an ACN delegation, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, ACN president, expressed gratitude to the Holy Father for “his affectionate closeness, as always, wherever there are tears to be dried, a sign of just how much the world needs compassion.”

He added that the feast of the Sorrowful Mother “offers us a lesson of true and profound compassion and maternal tenderness. Mary suffers for Jesus, but at the same time she also suffers with Jesus, and the passion of Christ is a sharing in the whole of human suffering.”

—Marta Petrosillo                 


With picture of Our Lady of Sorrows, Consoler of Christians (© 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

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pope Francis blesses 6,000 rosaries for Syrian families—ACN sponsors initiative



ON THE FEAST of the Assumption, August 15, Pope Francis, during the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, blessed 6,000 rosaries destined for Syria. They will be given to Christians in Syria who have had relatives or family members abducted or murdered during the civil war. This is part of an ecumenical initiative by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in partnership with Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Syria.

"The rosaries, made at the initiative of ACN, are a sign of my closeness to our brothers and sisters in Syria," Pope Francis said as part of his Angelus address, adding: "We continue to pray the Rosary for peace in the Middle East and around the world."

ACN arranged for the production of the rosaries in Bethlehem and Damascus.

The plan is to distribute the rosaries among a number of different Christian communities in Syria on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. The motto of the initiative is “Comfort my people;” the project aims to commemorate the victims of war and offer spiritual support and comfort to the bereaved.

Speaking earlier to an ACN delegation headed by the organization’s Executive President Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, Pope Francis praised the work of ACN and the ecumenical initiative: "I thank ACN for everything you do. When we pray with the people in Syria, we become close to them."

“The Holy Father has on several occasions expressed his support and approval for our commitment in Syria and the Middle East,” said Dr. Heine-Geldern, “and he has done so again today. For the families of the war victims, these blessed rosaries are a sign that the Pope and the entire Church are with them, praying for them and standing beside them.”

Since the start of Syrian civil war in 2011, support for suffering and persecuted Christians in Syria has been a priority for ACN. During this period, reported Dr. Heine-Geldern, ACN has funded 850 projects totaling almost $40M.

The work has enabled numerous Christian families to stay in the country, rather than emigrating. However, “money is not enough,” he said, adding: “Alongside material aid, the people in Syria need spiritual and moral support, for they are in a desperate situation. Together with our donors around the world, ACN is committed to helping them.”

On September 15, the “Comfort my People” initiative will take place in a number of cities in Syria. In each location there will be commemorative prayers and procession, to remember the dead and for the consolation and support of their families. That day, Pope Francis will again associate himself with the initiative by blessing an icon of Our Lady of Sorrows, Comforter of the Syrians.

—Tobias Lehner


With picture Dr. Heine-Geldern presenting a rosary to Pope Francis (© Servicio Fotografico-Vatican Media)


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

Friday, July 26, 2019

ACN-USA News - In Sri Lanka & the Philippines, a church and a cathedral re-open after deadly terror strikes



THREE MONTHS after a suicide bomber killed almost 100 worshippers at St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcom Ranjith of Colombo presided at the first Mass at the church since the Easter Sunday bomb attack on April 21, 2019.

With the front pews reserved for survivors of the attack, more than 1,000 people attended the Mass held July21 under tight security.

In front of the church, in a glass encasement, now stands a statue of Christ still splattered with the blood of worshipers who died in the church on Easter Sunday.

In his homily, Cardinal Ranjith repeated his charge that various government agencies and officials had failed to prevent the terror strikes, which altogether killed more than 250 at three churches—including St. Antony’s Shrine in Colombo—and three luxury hotels.

As he has done numerous times since the bombing, the cardinal called on Christians not to retaliate against the country’s Muslims. The perpetrators of the attacks, he stressed, were caught up in an international terrorist conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in Jolo, the Philippines, Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, papal nuncio to the Philippines, on July 16 presided over the re-dedication of Our Lady of Mount Cathedral, six months after two improvised explosive devices killed 21 worshipers and injured almost 100 others.

One of the bombs was detonated inside the cathedral during Mass January 27, the other device exploded outside the building. Since 2000, the cathedral and its vicinity had been targeted by bomb attacks nine times.

Archbishop Caccia, at the conclusion of the re-dedication Mass assured survivors of the blasts and those who lost loved ones in the attack that ‘”they are not forgotten or neglected.”

He added: “this is not only manifested with financial assistance, but through the solidarity of prayer all over the world.”

Jolo is the capital of Susu Province, which is largely Muslim. The local Church has been strongly committed to fostering Muslim-Christian dialogue as a bulwark against radicalism.

The perpetrators of the bombing are suspected to be associated with Islamist terror group Abu Sayyaf, which occupied the center of Marawi City in the Mindanao region for five months in 2017.

                                
With picture of re-dedication Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (© 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.

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