In an address to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and ACN President, described ACN’s pastoral natural and how as a charity it is at the heart of the Church.
Cardinal Piacenza emphasized the difference made by supporting pastoral initiatives carried out in the name of the worldwide Church.
He declared, “ACN is by its nature, and hence by its character, truly ecclesial. So it is not just a humanitarian relief organization, although relief work is certainly important, but truly a work of the Church.”
And he pointed to the real mission of the organization: “I would remind you above all of what was very close to the hearts of the previous Popes and of the present Holy Father… to esteem aid that is defined by its pastoral character.”
Among the charity’s priorities he singled out “the formation of the formators.”
The meeting with the management of the international headquarters of ACN and the Directors of the foundation’s 17 National Offices was held in the Vatican on the 18th of April.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who is also the President of the Foundation, added, “Our charity is the charity of the heart of the Lord. ACN should be always at the very heart of the Church, at the heart of the concerns of the Church.”
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza described the special tasks of the charity, “When it was born, your charity addressed an immediate emergency for the Church in a part of the world characterized by communist ideology.”
“Today, there are new challenges to be met where the Church is oppressed by ideologies and in circumstances that inhibit the faithful or make it impossible at a concrete level to freely live their faith and to practice the Church’s mission.”
“There is also persecution of the Church on other and more subtle levels: denigration of her teaching, disregard for the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, and of the natural law; and the propagation of secularism within education,” the Cardinal continued.
“In these circumstances the Church must respond in a manner that corresponds to her very nature: peacefully, tenaciously and with courage; otherwise we would not authentically show her to be the Church of Christ.”
At the end the cardinal remarked, “The benefactors of ACN have a strong faith that cannot help but express itself in deeds.”
In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI elevated ACN to the status of a Pontifical Foundation.
The official seat of the foundation is the Vatican. The international headquarters of ACN are in Königstein and there are 17 national offices around the world.
With images of Fr. Martin Barta ( Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN), Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Fr. Waldemar Cislo, Director of ACN Poland (© ACN).
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.