Thursday, July 30, 2015

ACN News - Lebanese Christians come to aid of former enemies—Syrian Muslims



By Oliver Maksan


From the Christian town of Deir al Ahmar, it's only a few miles to the Syrian border. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have sought refuge in this area, camping in tents on the vast, fertile plain. Bumpy dirt tracks lead to one of the ten camps which have been set up around Deir Al Ahmar.

The families who live here are all Sunni Muslims. They come from Raqqa, the East Syrian city that now serves as the capital of the ISIS caliphate.

"We lived under ISIS," a man says, agitatedly. "They're not Muslims. They're criminals. Our women had to completely veil themselves. We men were no longer allowed to smoke. They control everything."

A woman adds, "We knew God before ISIS. They don't need to explain anything to us."

These refugees literally came only with the clothes on their backs. Some 800 Syrian Muslim families are now in the care of a group of Catholic nuns, who are running a local aid center that provides food and medicine.

Each day, the Sisters run a school that serves 350 Syrian children, who are assured of a hot meal as well. Local Christians are also pitching in.

"God bless Sister Micheline," says one woman. Sister Micheline makes a gesture of dismissal, saying, "What was I supposed to do?”

“In the middle of winter 2011, I suddenly had more than 150 people, some wearing only sandals, standing in the deep snow at my door. As a member of the Order of the Good Shepherd, I couldn't possibly send them away."

Sister Micheline explains the historical context, "This area suffered considerably as a result of the Lebanese civil war [1975-1990] and the Syrian occupation. There were tensions both with the Shiites and with the Syrian army of occupation.”

“Many Christians therefore left. Whole Christian villages were abandoned. To improve life a little, my order decided in 2005 to open up a center to support native Christians here, and especially the children.”

“We offer not only catechetical instruction, but also homework courses and leisure activities. People have responded enthusiastically.”

“It's important that the children get out of their houses. Throughout the winter, which is very long here, they all sit in one room and get on one another's nerves.”

“Then the Syrians suddenly came. The people again thought someone was going to take something away from them."

During the civil war and up to the withdrawal of the Syrians from Lebanon in 2005, 300 adolescents and young men from Deir Al Ahmar were killed in battles with the Syrians.

Not surprisingly, local Christians were very reluctant to come to the aid of the Syrian refugees at first, but they have come around, the Sister explains, even as building up mutual respect and trust between the communities is a slow process.

"We offer manicure courses to enable the women to earn a little extra. This means that Christian women from the village are meeting with Syrian refugee women. This also helps to break down prejudices,” says Sister Micheline.


With picture of Syrian refugee children near Deir Al Ahmar, Lebanon (© 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, July 24, 2015

ACN News - In the heart of Africa, a sudden upsurge of radical Islam



By John Pontifex


Jihadist training camps housing up to 1,500 children as young as nine have been discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to research by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

Sources close to the organization—which requested anonymity for security reasons—have reported that poverty-stricken youngsters are being lured off the streets of the impoverished and war-torn country and taken to remote camps where they are brutalized and indoctrinated by Islamist militia.

In at least three camps in the Ruwenzori Mountains of eastern DRC, young boys have been observed dressed in camouflage clothing and doing military exercises watched over by soldiers with guns. There are also reports of dozens of girls, wearing burkas, huddled together in the camps and being readied for marriage to Islamic fighters.

Maria Lozano, a communications official for ACN, said, “We have been given access to a variety of materials that shows the nature of these camps. The reports show soldiers wielding rifles, watching over children ages nine to 15 in military outfits carrying out military exercises. The images we have seen are very disturbing.”

Ms. Lozano said, “We are very concerned for the children as they have been lured off the streets with the promise of an escape from poverty.”

“Some of the children are orphans but others have left their families after being deceived by recruiters who build up their hopes by offering them the chance to study in the Middle East, Europe or Canada.”

“The information we have is that the girls are being forced into marriages in which they will be treated as sex slaves.”

The apparently sudden emergence of the jihadist camps is being linked by some to UN peace keeping forces, with some alleging that the troops that they are complicit in operating the camps and that they are intentionally failing to take action against them. 

There have been allegations that some members of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are fundamentalist Muslims from Pakistan who in their spare time are setting up Quranic schools and working on mosque construction sites.

The ACN sources have charged the mosques have been built in areas where virtually no Muslims were living.

Ms. Lozano said, “People don’t feel protected by the UN soldiers; the information we have received suggests that they are supporting the jihadist camps or at least they are not taking action against the indoctrination of children and the barbaric treatment of them.”

According to the 2014 Journal of International Organizations Studies, 28 of the 44 mosques in the Medina region of DRC were built between 2005 and 2012. According to some reports, the Muslim share of the population of eastern DRC has grown from 1 to 10 percent in just a few years.

The Catholic bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bukavu, in eastern DRC, last May sent a sent an open letter to the country’s political leadership, the UN and international governments, denouncing an upsurge of jihadist fundamentalism in a region traditionally dominated by Christianity.

“It has already been [over] one month since the bishops sent their urgent appeal to the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other leaders, but nobody has acted,” said Ms. Lozano.


With picture of UN troop activity in DRC (© 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

Saturday, July 18, 2015

ACN News - Niger – ‘They set fire to our churches, but our hearts are still ablaze with love for them.’



By Antonia von Alten


Six months after extremist Muslims attacked Christians and burned down a number of churches, the local faithful remain fearful—but a local bishop reported that Catholic life in Niger continues to flourish.

In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Ambroise Ou├ędraogo of Maradi recalled the events of Jan. 7, 2015, when Muslims—goaded on by the deadly attack on the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo—rioted in the capital city of Niger and the town of Zinder.

In the end, save for the cathedral in Niamey and a single church outside the city, every single church in the country was attacked, looted and set on fire.

The violence came as a big shock in a country where Muslims and Christians had lived together in relative harmony.

"Why did they attack us, especially since we have had such a good mutual understanding?” the bishop asked, while speculating that "they mixed up 'Charlie Hebdo' with Christianity,” as if Christians had drawn the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that the Paris weekly was known for.

The bishop said, "Freedom of the press in Europe is fine. But you have to handle this freedom with caution and be aware of the impact it will have in other countries. The sensibilities in Africa are different from those in Europe."

Fearing further attacks, some 200 Christians from Zinder fled to the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and even Nigeria. Most have since returned.

The local community now celebrates Mass in the open or in halls decorated for the occasion. Yet, the people’s faith is strong, said the bishop: "Living communities have emerged and I believe that is a blessing."

Still, today, Muslims don't know how they should conduct themselves towards Christians after the attacks.

"They're out of their depth," said Bishop Ou├ędraogo. “They are sorry for what happened, but they can't say it officially." So far, no one has been charged in the violence.

Many Muslims were amazed that Niger’s Catholic bishops quickly proclaimed forgiveness of the perpetrators. "They set fire to our churches, but our hearts are still ablaze with love for them.”

“Christian or Muslim—God wishes good fortune for all people,” the prelate said.

Through an interreligious commission, Niger’s Catholics and Muslims collaborate in the area of education and charitable work, as both communities help build up one of the poorest countries in the world, which is regularly plagued by drought and famine.

Of the population of 17 million, 98 percent are Muslims; there are just 21,000 Catholics in Niger, comprising the Archdiocese of Niamey and the Diocese of Maradi.


With picture of Mass in an improvised setting in Niger (© 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, July 16, 2015

ACN News - Egypt’s Christians face discrimination, harassment and violence



By Joop Koopman


Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has made significant gestures that signal a commitment to the interests of the country’s Christian minority. His efforts appear sincere, but at the grassroots level the country’s Copts continue to suffer discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of Muslims—with local authorities regularly turning a blind eye on abuses.

Two incidents that took place in last month—reported by MidEast Christian News (MCN)—offer fresh evidence:

In the early morning hours of June 24, 2015, 17 year-old Coptic teenager Mariam Youssef was abducted by four young men right in front of her house where she lives with her widowed father, Maher Youssef, in the village of Beni Suef, in Upper Egypt.

Soon afterward, the distraught elder Youssef was informed by several Muslim men of the abductors’ identity. One of the men turned out to be a neighbor, the other three having criminal records.

Still, Mr. Youssef could not bring local police to let him file a complaint to formally open an investigation. Authorities instead sought to blame the matter on the girl’s upset state of mind, because she had quarreled with her father the night before her disappearance.

Police did question the families of the suspects, but they denied all knowledge and were not pressed to prevail upon their relatives to release Mariam.

MCN reporter Erin Moussa, who interviewed Mr. Youssef, reported that such intransigence on the part of police is quite common in the case of kidnappings that have the aim of forcing young women to convert to Islam—and that such cases are numerous.

One of Mariam’s relatives commented: “Our village has only 10 Coptic families and all of them are simple people. There is no church and Copts don’t stir up any trouble that would prompt someone to kidnap the girl.”

Then, more ominously, there was the mysterious death—sometime during the week of June 22, 2015—of Coptic army conscript Bahaa Gamal Mikhail, a 24 year-old from the village of Rizqa, near the city of Assiut.

His family—informed by military authorities to collect his body from a Cairo morgue—indirectly learned of the official account that the young man, who was the only Christian in his battalion, had supposedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart.

The family, upon inspecting the body, found traces of two bullets and an injury to this forehead. The morgue handed over the body in what MCN reported was “suspicious haste.”

Mikhail’s parish priest, Father Youannis Saad rejected rumors—which he claimed had been spread by the battalion—that the conscript was depressed. His mother, too, confirmed that he had been in good spirits; he also was considering joining a monastery.

Just before his death, Mikhail played music in front of the battalion commander. Father Saad spoked of his strong suspicion that Mikhail was murdered.

A similar case was reported in August of 2013, involving the alleged suicide of another Coptic recruit, Abu al-Khair Atta. Apparently, shortly before his death, a fellow soldier had invited him to embrace Islam. Military officials refused to perform an autopsy.


Photos courtesy of MCNdirect.com: Mariam Youssef & Bahaa Gamal Mikhail


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, July 10, 2015

AN IMPORTANT ANNIVERSARY OVERLOOKED

by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.

The 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan came and went with hardly a notice.

         A most important event in Church history, promulgated February 3, 313, the Edict of Milan granted Christians freedom from three centuries of persecution.  Thereafter the Christian faithful, for the first time, enjoyed the same religious liberties that other religious groups had.  The Christians gained legal protections that allowed them to build houses of worship and had their confiscated possessions restored.

        The signing of the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine heralded the official recognition of Western Christian civilization and the free societies we enjoy today.

        The extent and severity of the persecution suffered by the early Christians are practically incomprehensible to the modern mind.  Countless Christians were tortured and killed under the emperors Nero (who had Peter crucified in 64), Domitian, Marcus Aurelius, and Septimus Severus.  The atrocities abated under Severus Alexander (208-235) who was sympathetic to Christians, only to flare up again under the emperors Maximus Thracian, Decius, and Valerian (253-260).

        With Diocletian (299-311) and his contemporaries, Galerius and Maximian, the persecutions peaked.  Under Diocletian alone an estimated half million Christians were killed.  The last persecution occurred under Licinius (308-324), but the move toward greater liberty had begun.  In 311 an Edict of Tolerance was issued. Although property was being confiscated, this was corrected by Licinius and Constantine, then Roman emperors of East and West respectively, with the Edict of Milan in 313.


        Diocletian's intent was to transform society following years of ineffective leaders, wars, foreign attacks, and deep-seated economic problems.  However, he was criticized by the Christian author Lactantius for assuming monarchical powers not granted him by the Roman constitution.

        Diocletian's persecution of Christians began after his pagan priests blamed Christian court officials for making the Sign of the Cross in a court ceremony.  Then the emperor ordered all Christians in government and military service to sacrifice to pagan gods or be dismissed.  Ordinary civilians were excluded.

        Eventually the death penalty was inflicted against Christian bishops and priests.  Churches and Bibles were confiscated and burned.  Then ordinary citizens were forced to violate their Christian beliefs or suffer martyrdom. 

        Life in the post-Constantine Church was not all smooth sailing. but it was not subject to the corruption myths that emerged during the Renaissance and Reformation and Enlightenment.

        Questions about whether the Roman Empire surrendered to Christianity, or whether Christianity prostituted itself to the empire have long been disregarded by competent historians, except in fictitious potboilers like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

        Constantine was far from perfect, but neither was he a corrupter of the Church nor an intolerant zealot who obliterated all worship that was not Catholic.  Paganism was not rapidly stamped out by state repression, but gradually disappeared as people abandoned the pagan temples in response to the superior appeal of Christianity. 

        Constantine conferred secular powers and privileges on bishops, but this was in the interests of justice and liberty.  The bishops had reputations for honesty and resistance to bribery.
        In later times close involvement between State and senior Church officials led to abuses, but the blame for this can hardly be laid on Constantine.

        Constantine is to be remembered for being the protagonist in fostering the advent of Christian civilization in the West.  The path for Christians was never smooth.  Persecutions continued.  But the liberty Constantine won allowed the Church to flourish for centuries to come.  Actually the Christians were the first to develop the notion of religious liberty.
        As society becomes increasingly secular, will future 
anniversaries of the Edict of Milan -- and similar important events -- be so blithely overlooked?

        

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Marriage


Picture source

The world continues to cry out in victory.  Man's laws have made homosexual marriage the law of the land.  God's laws have been altered to suit misguided people.  It is a triumphant day for the world because they believe marriage equality has been achieved.

Is God weeping or is He seething in anger?  One wonders what is in store for us.  Will God punish such a personal attack?  God is the only one who knows but one thing is certain, He is still in control.

Those of us who follow Him are troubled and trying hard to make sense of this chaotic world turned upside down.  The warning signs were ignored by the majority it seems.  Civil unions were never enough to satiate a lust for control.  It was marriage that was the intended target.

It does appears the world has gone mad or drunk with power.

Christians, especially Catholics are now being targeted.  The world will not rest until the Christians are punished or wiped out.  Christians will continue to be intimidated, falsely accused of intolerance, bigotry and hate.  Ironically, that is exactly how the world reacts to those who do not agree with them or who do not blindly follow like lemmings. The world is very intolerant of those who oppose their wicked ways.  God help you if  one has deep held beliefs or try to defend God's laws.

This persecution has begun.

Churches are in danger of losing their tax-exempt status.  Pastors are being forced to perform so-called "same-sex marriages" or be punished by fines or lawsuits.  Marriage will become a free-for-all for those who want to marry as they please such as multiple spouses, marriage to animals or even inanimate objects.  And, it is frightening to think of the consequence that it will have on children.

Something good may come out of this darkness.  This mockery of marriage may make Christians  appreciate their own marriage vows.   We will see how precious this sacrament that we share with our spouse really is.  How many of us have foolishly taken our marriage for granted!  How many of us go through the motions of every day life without really working on strengthening our marriage?  Why is it that we start appreciate something when it is threatened?

Christians,  and all people of good-will, continue to fight for the sanctity of marriage with prayer, especially as a couple or as a family, by sharing inspirational quotes when emailing or on social networks, and by speaking out respectfully when needed, to defend what God has created and which the world cannot change, no matter what dubious laws they pass.

"We must never forge that only when love between human beings is put to the test can it's true value be seen." - St. John Paul II


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Guide to Holiness



The following was written by Father Michael Muller, CSSR in his Book:  The Blessed Sacrament:  Our Greatest Treasure.

- make war against venial sins.

-  wean your heart from creatures.

-  endeavor to mortify your attachment to honors, riches and pleasures.

-  spare no trouble for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

-  practice little but frequent acts of self-denial.

-  keep yourself always in the fear of God.

- adorn yourself with virtues which Jesus loves:  humility, meekness, patience, prayer, charity, faith, peace and recollection.


ACN News - In Egypt, nuns’ work of mercy rebuilds troubled lives



By Oliver Maksan


When Egyptian young Christian women get into serious trouble, society is harshly unforgiving. But in Upper Egypt, a group of Catholic nuns operates a home that provides a safe environment and tools to make a new start.

 “The girls and young women who come to us have big problems,” the nun who heads the home—whose name and location cannot be revealed for security reasons—told international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Sister Mariam (not her real name) explained that her charges have been rejected by their families anxious to protect their reputation.

“Some have taken drugs or had an affair with a man. Some have even spent some time in prison. It is our job to steer their young lives back on the right track.”

Twelve girls ages 15 and up are currently full-time residents of the home, while 13 girls attend programs during the day. How long help is provided varies; it may be for several months, but it can sometimes even stretch out for years.

Sister Mariam explained, “The girls learn an occupation, such as hairdresser or seamstress. This ensures that the time they are with us is well spent. It also gives them a certain degree of independence later on.”

“We also try to deepen their relationship with God. In our opinion, this is critical for the girls to regain control over their lives. Most of them held only superficial religious beliefs before.”

The nuns also help the girls understand their social and family background better. “A problem within the family is usually hidden behind the girls’ behavior.”

“We not only work with psychologists, but also have the parents get involved. We tell them, for example: ‘Your daughter may not have felt loved enough and this is why she went looking for a relationship or started using drugs,’” Sister Mariam said.

The prerequisite for reconciliation with the family is that the cases of premarital intercourse, for example, have not become generally known. “When it becomes public that a girl has had intercourse before marriage, she is dishonored. And then her family will no longer be able to keep her at home.”

“In many cases this even results in honor killings—even within Christian families. This is not a rare occurrence in rural areas,” the nun said.

Things get worse, Sister Mariam said, “when a Christian girl sleeps with a Muslim and even gets pregnant; it ends up becoming a major conflict with a religious dimension.”

The nun explained that interfaith marriages “are not accepted socially. The woman must convert.”

Then there are cases of blackmail. “Every year there are cases when a young Muslim sleeps with a Christian girl and records it on his mobile phone. He then threatens to release the video unless the girl converts,” said Sister Mariam.

A local priest said, “Over the last ten years, in our province alone, there were 70 cases in which a Christian girl was being blackmailed into converting. And these are just the ones we know about. The number of unrecorded cases is probably a lot higher.” 


With picture of Egyptian young women at Mass (© 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, June 19, 2015

ACN News - On June 21, ACN invites everyone to pray for Father Mourad and the Syrian People



"From the bottom of our hearts we thank the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need for the solidarity they have shown towards the suffering Syrian people, and to those in our region in particular. And we beg you to continue praying for us."

This was one of the last messages sent to ACN by Father Jacques Mourad, the Catholic priest who was abducted in Qaryatayn in Syria on the 21st of May this year.

The pontifical foundation ACN had been supporting the work of this priest and monk ever since 2004, and especially since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

Now – on 21 June, exactly one month from the day he was abducted – ACN is inviting all people to pray for Father Mourad, and for the entire Syrian population.

The 21 national offices of ACN are launching a combined international media campaign, via the news media and social media, using the hashtag: #PrayingForFatherMourad.

The monastic community in Deir Mar Musa, the monastery founded in Syria, to the north of Damascus, by the Italian priest Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, has welcomed this initiative of ACN with joy.

"Your prayers are so important," Father Jihad Youssef told ACN, "not only for the Christians of Syria but also for the many, many Muslims who are in fact the first victims of fundamentalism.”

“In terms of sheer numbers, they are the ones who are suffering most, at the hands of their own coreligionists."

Father Youssef, also a monk in Deir Mar Musa, recalled how in the area of Qaryatayn Father Jacques had become a point of reference not only for Christians but also for the Islamic community in the area.

"He was greatly respected, even by the imams and sheiks," he told ACN. "In the monastery of Mar Elias, where he lived, he took in more than 50 Muslim families, with over 100 children."

Father Jacques also helped these families to rebuild their own ruined homes and gave them food and medicine with the support of ACN.

The head of the Middle East department of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Andrzej Halemba, commented: "Father Jacques always helped all people, be they Christians or Muslims. He helped everyone, but never took sides. Why should such a man be abducted?”

“We can see once again how the war is claiming the best people. Father Jacques is a spiritual leader of Christians and Muslims. People of both religions look up to him and trust him."

As Father Mourad himself had earlier written to ACN, "Our work on behalf of the Muslims is a simple expression of the Church, which is called to help all people – whether the poor, the sick, criminals, sinners or the persecuted."

Also kidnapped along with Father Mourad was a lay co-worker, Boutros Hanna Dekermenjian, an Armenian Christian, aged 38, who had attempted to prevent his abduction.

As Father Youssef has confirmed to ACN, there is no news at present, either as to the fate of the two hostages or as to the identity of their abductors.

Father Youssef, in inviting us all to unite together in prayer, sees the current situation of the Christians in the Middle East as "a true trial of faith. If we truly love the crucified Christ, then we will be willing to offer ourselves for others."


With picture of Father Jaques Mourad (© 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, June 18, 2015

ACN News - Mosul prelate calls for liberation of city, Nineveh Plain – or mass asylum in the West



By John Pontifex


A leading Iraqi prelate has called on world government to increase their efforts to defeat ISIS and restore land and property to some 120,000 exiled Iraqi Christians.

Marking the first anniversary of ISIS’s capture of Mosul, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Mouche called on “people who have the responsibility” to come to the rescue of the ousted Christian communities, whose people, he added, long to go home.

In an interview with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the archbishop said that military action is the “best solution.”

“We ask everyone to put pressure on the people who have the responsibility to free the [towns and villages] as soon as possible so the people can come back and live in peace in their homes and continue their lives there,” he said.

The archbishop’s comments reflect ongoing frustration felt by a number of senior Middle East clergy about what they perceive as the West’s reluctance to commit to a full-scale intervention to confront and overcome extremism in the region—a move many Church leaders opposed until very recently.

Archbishop Mouche also said that if the West is unable to redouble its efforts in the fight against ISIS, it should open its doors to Christians and other minorities seeking asylum.

“I am calling on the international community: if they cannot protect us, then they must open their doors and help us start a new life elsewhere,” he said, adding, however that “we would prefer to remain in Iraq and be protected here.”

Speaking of his own hardship, the prelate said, “I am like someone who is dreaming or drunk. I can’t understand what is going on around me. It is a nightmare.”

Asked about widespread reports of destruction of religious artefacts and Church buildings in Mosul, he said his contacts with the city had been severed. But he confirmed that “all our heritage is in Mosul, and in Qaraqosh,” on the Nineveh Plain.

He singled out the monastery of St. Behnam, which dates back to the fourth century AD. The monastery is rumored to have been partially destroyed by ISIS.

“We have no news about our churches and monasteries, because we have no-one left in Mosul to report on it,” the archbishop concluded.


With picture of Archbishop Mouche (© 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