Tuesday, June 09, 2020

ACN-USA News - In hard-hit Brazil, help for priests aiding the most vulnerable caught up in the coronavirus pandemic

AS PART OF ITS CAMPAIGN to support priests and religious working with the weak and vulnerable in areas affected by COVID-19, Aid to the Church in Need has approved 11 new projects in Brazil, one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Combined, the projects they will benefit 169 priests, 31 seminarians, 141 women religious and 56 lay missionaries working in their local communities.

Among these are priests in the state of Ceará, in northeast Brazil, where the coronavirus is very much present in the city of Itapipoca, in the north of the state, around 80 miles from the state capital of Fortaleza. The Church there is working hard to maintain a spirit of solidarity and provide support to the local Christians who depend upon the aid.

The region is experiencing a constant increase in the number coronavirus cases. As of June 5, there were 4,258 confirmed cases and 203 deaths. As of June 8, there were more than 690,000 cases, with 36,455 recorded deaths in all of Brazil.  As part of the lockdown, local churches remain closed and Masses are live streamed on social media. With the aid of a handful of people, priests are continuing to celebrate Mass in empty churches.

Father Francisco Danízio Silva, finance director for the Diocese of Itapipoca, spoke of the importance of “maintaining contact with our people. Our people need us very much, they need our prayers, our companionship, our advice; however, as a result of the pandemic it is difficult to maintain physical contact.”

He also said that the local Church’s income “is greatly reduced, since the offerings of the faithful have fallen by around 60 percent. There are no collections as there are no public Masses—the resources we did have are now being exhausted.”

“At the present time, it’s not possible to speak face-to-face with our people, who are very upset and anxious. We are helping them as best we can via social media such as WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube,” said Father Francisco explained. When they have to provide help in emergency situations, priests use protective face masks.

In some of parishes, priests have succeeded since the beginning of the pandemic in organizing a campaign to collect supplies and make up baskets of basic necessities for distribution among the most needy. “Recently we have made great efforts to raise funds, but it is now getting very difficult, since the people themselves have next to nothing,” said Father Francisco.

Some parishes, as part of their family outreach program, distribute a daily dinner to the most needy. However, the money is running out for this campaign also.

Father Francisco is counting on the kindness of the ordinary people. He said: “During these times we are going through, the support of every individual is very important. With the little that we have we can still help many people.”

“Our Church is poor and in need, but it is rich in the grace of God and in kind and generous people.”

Father Francisco thanked ACN donors directly. He said: “You have helped us greatly. Your support is directly linked to the help we can give to these brothers and sisters of ours who need so much of us, who need our compassion, our attention and our loving support.”

“I pray to God, through the intercession of his most holy Mother Mary, that he may bless each and every one of you, and that your generosity will be the source of your salvation. May we never forget that helping our neighbor is one of the most effective ways of imitating our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.”

“Our grateful thanks to all those who are helping us to evangelize through charity, throughout the world.”

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, ACN has been providing emergency financial support to hundreds of priests, religious and lay pastoral workers, so that they can continue helping the most needy during the crisis.

—Daniela Almeida


With picture of priest ministering with social distancing in Brazil (© 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

 

Thursday, June 04, 2020

ACN-USA News - For Christians in Pakistan, pandemic lockdown spells hunger, hardship

STRUGGLING CHRISTIAN FAMILIES in Pakistan, facing hardship and hunger as a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdown in the country, will be the beneficiaries of emergency aid provided by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The measures taken by Pakistan to contain the coronavirus pandemic have further exacerbated the social hardship already facing the Christian minority in the country. The bishops of the Dioceses of Faisalabad, Islamabad Rawalpindi and Lahore appealed to ACN for help.

The prelates have proposed a broad emergency program to provide food packages to more than 5000 of the poorest families, families that were already living below the poverty threshold before the pandemic, and who are now facing a desperate situation.

ACN will support this program with an initial aid package totaling $165,000.

According to official figures, as of May 27, more than 59,000 Pakistanis have been infected by the virus and 1,225 have died. The two hardest-hit regions are the provinces of Sindh and Punjab.

"Christians, who make up around 2 percent of the population of the country, are among the poorest members of society in Pakistan. They have been particularly hard hit by the economic consequences of the coronavirus lockdown and the other restrictions imposed since the end of March this year."

"The coronavirus and the lockdown have deprived them of their already meager livelihoods, and forced them to live through the crisis in extremely cramped and overcrowded conditions with a minimum of resources. We simply cannot leave them to face a cruel choice between hunger and infection," explained the executive president of ACN International, Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern. 

According to local reports, and as ACN recently reported, certain NGOs in Pakistan and certain Muslim leaders have refused to help Christians and other religious minorities under existing COVID-19 emergency aid programs-even though these minorities are among those hardest hit by the consequences of the pandemic.

"The state-sponsored aid programs for the most part exclude the religious minorities, who are de facto second-class citizens and only rarely able to access state aid. Religious discrimination is sadly nothing new in Pakistan. What is deeply concerning, however, is that even during this global crisis such minorities are being clearly disadvantaged," Heine-Geldern said.

Many Christians work as day laborers, domestic servants, cleaners or kitchen staff, or sometimes as street traders or laborers in the brickworks. They earn the lowest wages and are dependent on their daily wage to feed their families.

"All these areas of employment are precisely the ones that have been most impacted by the economic shutdown, and many Christian employees have been simply dismissed without notice by families for whom they have worked for years, because these families are afraid that the poor may bring infection into their homes," ACN's executive president added.

In Faisalabad the emergency aid program supported by ACN not only involves the distribution of food parcels but also includes an awareness-raising campaign, aimed at informing families via radio and digital media as to how to protect themselves against the virus.

According to Heine-Geldern, there is also a plan to distribute face masks to the faithful in the churches and equip priests, catechists, diocesan staff and other volunteers with personal protection equipment as they continue to carry out their pastoral and social aid work.

"A major priority of our organization involves helping Christians who are suffering discrimination and persecution, and this is clearly the case in Pakistan. We have already provided emergency aid in the form of Mass stipends for the support of priests and their pastoral mission, but this is clearly not enough."

"Of course, we simply do not have the resources to meet all the needs, but we think it is important to make this gesture of solidarity, and we are hoping that other organizations and many people of goodwill will join with us in our efforts."

"Otherwise, Christians in Pakistan will be facing the threat of extinction," Heine-Geldern warned.

-Maria Lozano


With picture of Khushpur, an almost entirely Christian village in the Diocese of Faisalabad (© 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 fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.  www.churchinneed.org

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

ACN launches new emergency aid program for Syrian Christians


THE CONTINUING EMERGENCY facing Christians in Syria has been further exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. To mitigate its impact, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has launched a new $550,000 aid program to support 20,550 Syrian Christian families in grave need.

The emergency plan will benefit various denominations—Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. Help is sorely needed as lockdown measures have plunged many families into a crisis, while straining the financial capacities of the local churches in Syria to the very limit.

“Each family will receive a one-off subsidy of some $28 so that they can purchase essential foodstuffs and articles of hygiene to protect themselves against the coronavirus. This may not seem much, but it represents approximately half the monthly income of an average Syrian family today and is thereby a lifesaver.”

“This emergency support will reach many people. However, it must be implemented without delay, before the pandemic spreads throughout the entire country,” explains Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International.

The aid program covers seven separate projects and reaches various locations. Those supported by the program include many people from bombed-out cities that were heavily damaged during the civil war—for example, 6,190 families from Aleppo and 7,680 from Homs; but it will also help some 400 families from the towns of Al-Hassakeh and Al-Qamishli in northeastern Syria, where fighting continues.

“We are still supporting more than a hundred other projects, both small and large, in Syria,” said Heine-Geldern, adding: “Some have had to be cut back on because of the pandemic, but many are continuing, for example our project Drop of Milk, which supplies hundreds of babies and small children with vital milk rations.”

“We believe that this new aid program will be an important signal of encouragement for our brothers and sisters in this country, giving them spiritual comfort as well as financial support.”

Many people in Syria have already reached the end of their strength, as a result of the war and the ongoing economic sanctions. But now they have to face a new enemy, the coronavirus. “We are not going to abandon the Christians in Syria now,” insists Heine-Geldern.

During the nine years of the civil war, the Syrian Christians have suffered greatly. Prior to 2011 discrimination of Christians was rare, and there was only a limited number of Christian families choosing emigration. However, today Christians feel they have become second-class citizens, abandoned by the government and discriminated against by other Syrians.

During the war, Christians’ properties and possessions were destroyed, looted or sold off cheaply. Many have lost their jobs. On account of sanctions and closure of borders, it is difficult to get outside aid into the country. There is runaway inflation in Syria. On top of this, the banking system in neighboring Lebanon, which to some degree kept the system going in Syria, has collapsed because of that country’s own political and social crisis.

Then the pandemic hit.

—Maria Lozano


With picture of Syrians fighting the pandemic in Homs (© 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

Friday, May 22, 2020

ACN-USA News - ACN supports the Church in the time of the pandemic

COVID-19 is not only a medical, social and economic problem, but also a pastoral one. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Aid to the Church in Need has learned of growing hardships and the heroic efforts of priests and religious in the battle against coronavirus. In response, the organization has initiated a special program to promote these efforts.

Regina Lynch, project director at ACN, spoke recently about current relief initiatives and the efforts of the Church during the COVID-19 crisis.


What are we currently hearing from our project partners regarding the greatest needs in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic?

From our project partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe, we are not so much hearing about medical needs but rather about the effects of the restrictions on the daily life of the Church. In most countries where Aid to the Church in Need supports the local Church, governments have applied the same restrictions as in our donor countries. That means no public Masses, no public gatherings, schools are closed and more and more people have difficulty in earning a living. And these in countries where, for the most part, Christians are a minority—sometimes persecuted—and belong to the lower social strata.

The Church itself is hardest hit by the fact that there are no public Masses or the possibility to carry out the normal pastoral and social programs in the parishes. In many of our partner countries, the collection at Sunday Mass ensures the survival of the parish. The money from the collection—or often instead it can be chickens, vegetables, rice etc.—guarantees that the priest can eat, pay the Sisters serving the parish, buy petrol for his motorcycle for visiting the sick or even have a small sum to help the poorest of the parishioners.

What is the focus of ACN’s aid in response to the COVID-19 crisis?

As a pastoral charity, ACN wants to help the local Church carry out its primary mission of bringing God’s Love and Word to people and ensure that it is not hindered in this mission by a lack of financial resources. That means that we are providing subsistence aid to priests and to Sisters, both active and contemplative. We have continued to help the seminaries, as in many cases the seminarians are in confinement and the rector has no means to look after them.

For example, in the major seminary in Goma, Dem. Rep. Congo, the rector sent us an SOS, as he could no longer rely on the local population to help feed the seminarians. We are providing funds for masks and other protective clothing to priests, Sisters and seminarians, for example in Chile or in Ukraine, where they continue to visit their parishioners, particularly the sick or the dying.
And in order to bring Mass and the Gospel message to the faithful at home via television or radio, we have funded the necessary technical equipment.

For the Christians in Syria, who were already struggling to survive after nine years of war, we are launching a special program enabling each family to buy food and some form of protection against the pandemic. In Pakistan, another country where Christians face discrimination and sometimes persecution because of their faith, we are working on a program to come to provide aid because we heard from the Church that the Christians were not receiving emergency aid from the government.

ACN started an emergency program in order that the priests and Sisters could face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you done so far and what are the next steps?

Thanks to the generosity of our donors since March, we have managed to send out more than 385,000 Mass stipends (more than $3.4M) to more than 10,500 priests. More than half of these went to the Church in Africa, the continent where the Church and priestly vocations continue to grow but where the Church faces the challenge of an increasingly aggressive form of Islam, conflicts and natural disasters.

So far, we have made promises of some $880,000 as subsistence help to Sisters in all parts of the world and more requests are coming in. This has always been a strong focus of our help for Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America in particular, where the Sisters not only teach catechism or prepare the faithful for the sacraments in isolated regions in Siberia or in the Andes, but where the Sisters also care for orphans, for the abandoned elderly or for girls forced into prostitution.

One of the effects of the COVID-19 crisis is that we are being asked to help for the first time in dioceses where until now they have managed without our help. One example is the Diocese of Kamyanets-Podilsk in Ukraine, where normally the parish pays the Sisters. With the absence of Sunday Mass and the growing poverty of the faithful, the bishop no longer can give the Sisters what they need to survive.

What about aid to Asia, where the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged?

The Archbishop of Chittagong in Bangladesh sent us an urgent appeal for the Sisters working in his archdiocese. With the schools, hostels and dispensaries closed, there is no income to pay the Sisters. Even before the crisis, the little amount that the faithful could contribute to the upkeep of the Sisters was not enough but now the situation has become dramatic. In Mymensingh, also in Bangladesh, the Holy Cross Sisters together with the bishop are putting all the money available into helping the people, who are suffering, but the Sisters need to survive and that is where ACN can help. In normal times the Holy Cross Sisters, like many Sisters in the developing world, teach the Gospel and also teach the people the skills they need to leave behind their poverty.

From the very beginning, ACN has been dedicated to helping not only the active, but also the contemplative orders. How are they faring?

We should also not forget the contemplative nuns, who responded enthusiastically to our prayer campaign at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic but who also depend on the generosity of the faithful and their own small income-generating initiatives for their survival. The Carmelite Monastery in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, has difficulty surviving at the best of times by the production of hosts for Mass, but with the current restrictions there is no demand for the hosts and so the Archdiocese of Santa Cruz has appealed to generous donors of ACN to help the nuns through this difficult time.

We expect to continue these projects of support for priests and Sisters for the next few months, because even if in some countries public Mases are beginning to recommence, the economic situation will worsen and our help will be needed more than ever. In other countries the pandemic is still raging.

Which project, where priests and Sisters respond to the COVID-19 crisis, has particularly impressed you?

It is very difficult to pick out one project. There are the priests in the Diocese of Dolisie, Congo, who share the stipend from our Mass intentions with their poor parishioners. I am also impressed by the devotion of so many Sisters, who at risk to themselves continue their work.

One example are the Hermanas Sociales in Cuba. While respecting the restrictions put in place, they still find a way to continue their pastoral work and their care of the elderly, who live alone, and their outreach to the homeless.

There are the seminarians in the major seminary of St. Peter and St. Paul in Burkina Faso, whose families have become IDPs because of terrorist attacks. Now they have lost one of their formators due to the virus and four of their fellow students are ill. We have helped them and their families and are now also sponsoring a program to protect the rest of them from COVID-19.

And we have to recognize the creativity of the Church. Quite early on in the crisis, Bishop Dode Gjergji of Kosovo realized that he had to try to reach his faithful despite the ban on public Masses and asked us to sponsor equipment for broadcasting Sunday Mass from the Mother Teresa co-cathedral in Pristina. We gladly provided him support and just recently he has told us that during one Mass broadcast online in Albanian there were more than 50,000 people logged on.

This is where we should not underestimate the power of the media. In Africa, where we support different initiatives of Radio Maria, the Church is encouraging the Catholic families to become a “domestic Church” during this time of COVID-19 and to pray even more intensively together.

ACN is a pastoral charity: in public life the focus is on the humanitarian and medical sectors. How do we reconcile ACN’s response with these needs?

While a medical, and in many countries, humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis is absolutely necessary, this is first and foremost the responsibility of the local civil authorities. We know that in many countries where ACN helps, this does not happen and that NGOs and the Church do this work instead.  However, while the ministry of charity or diakonia is one of the ministries of the Church, the pastoral mission, the care of the soul precedes it and in this time of crisis the people need the Church more than ever.

They are afraid and unsure of the future. The Church comforts and brings both spiritual and material help to not only its own flock but to all God’s people. We have just granted subsistence help to four elderly and sick Dominican Sisters in Subotica, Serbia.

Their superior wrote to us, “The people of Subotica are grateful for the presence of the Sisters, because they are the sign of God’s love for the people, the sign of everlasting life.”

—Tobias Lehner


With picture of displaced family in the Diocese of Dori (© 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, May 18, 2020

ACN rejoices on 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope Saint John Paul II


POPE Saint JOHN PAUL II made history and became one of the giants of the 20th century, both in the history of the Church and that of the wider world. Likewise unwavering and often historic were the projects he promoted and which on so many occasions Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) made its own.


“Pope John Paul II is a friend of our charity,” wrote Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of ACN. “We know him as a man of great courage, unwavering in his faith and with a filial love for the Virgin Mary. God willing, under his guidance may the resurrection of the Lord become a resurrection of the Church.”

May 18, 2020 marks 100th anniversary of his birth. Today ACN continues to commend its activities to the intercession of Saint John Paul II.

ACN’s earliest contacts with Karol Wojtyla go back to even before he was appointed archbishop of Cracow in 1964. For many years, as the representative of the Polish bishops’ conference, the man who would be elected Pope in 1978 had been in frequent contact with the charity to discuss projects for the support of the Church in Poland, which was then under Communist rule.

The first time ACN teamed up with him was in 1967 when the Communists built a satellite city on the outskirts of Cracow for steelworkers at a large smelting plant. Their plan was to build a “city without God” for up to 200,000 people and, in line with their imposition of an atheist ideology, they included no plans for a church of any description. In spite of this, in the new town of Nowa Huta, on Sunday after Sunday, thousands of Polish Catholics gathered around a large cross to join in the celebration of Mass.

Despite all the efforts the Communists to try and deter them, they finally managed, with the financial support of ACN, to build a church there, big enough to accommodate 5,000 worshippers. In 1977, Archbishop Wojtyla was finally able to consecrate this church. This victory against the Communist government also sent a powerful signal to neighboring countries similarly oppressed by Soviet Communist rule.

In 1978, ACN immediately placed itself unconditionally at the service of the pontificate of the future Saint John Paul II. One of his profound desires was for reconciliation, and thus it was that, following the collapse of Communism, he entrusted to ACN the work of reconciliation with the Russian Orthodox Church. To this end, and despite his advanced age, Father Werenfried traveled twice to Russia to meet with Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II and many of the other Orthodox bishops.

Pope John Paul II was Pope for 27 years, writing 14 encyclicals and close to a hundred apostolic exhortations, as well as innumerable letters and homilies. In more than a hundred different apostolic journeys, he visited more than 130 countries and was seen in person by some 400 million people. He brought together and inspired millions of young people. In Manila, in the Philippines. He celebrated Holy Mass in front of 4 million people—the largest human gathering of all time.

Saint John Paul II was able to personally witness the fruits of ACN’s work. During his first visit to Kazakhstan in 2001, a little boy proudly presented him with a copy of the ACN Child’s Bible, published in his own Kazakh language. The Pope was delighted to see this little book, because it was he who had first inspired its publication.

In January 1979 in the city of Puebla, Mexico, when during his first foreign visit as the newly elected Pope, he presided at the Plenary Assembly of the Latin American bishops. It was at this assembly that Father Werenfried suggested to him that children needed something like a little Bible “so that the image of Jesus could become a living one in their hearts.” From this encounter was born the famous ACN Child’s Bible series, “God speaks to His Children,” one of the largest projects ever supported by ACN.

“The last time the Holy Father and Father Werenfried concelebrated the Eucharist together was in springtime. It was in April 2002; John Paul II’s breathing was already becoming very labored. At the end of the Mass he was barely able to speak. They smiled at each other; they embraced.”

“In a gesture that said everything, the Holy Father gave Werenfried his own Paschal Candle, together with an icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. It was their last earthly farewell.” That was how their last meeting was described by the Italian journalist Orazio Petrosillo, who himself died in 2007 and who personally witnessed their encounter.

A century after his birth, he has left behind an immense legacy, and one to which ACN has striven to remain faithful up to the present day. So many of the projects supported by the organization now bear the name of this holy Pope, who was canonized in 2014. For example, the diocesan seminary in Tombura Yambio in South Sudan; the catechists’ center in Itigi in Tanzania; the pastoral center for young people in Sarajevo, in Bosnia; and the Pope John Paul II Institute for the Family in Cotonou, Benin.

Numerous other projects today reflect the devotion of the countless Catholic faithful who wish to place their churches and chapels under the protection of Saint John Paul II, in every corner of the world—in a suburban satellite town of Havana, the Cuban capital; in a suburb of the Nicaraguan city of Boaco; in Belarus, in the university city of Baranovichi; and in the small town of Mutoko in Zimbabwe, home to simple peasant farmers and manual workers.

On Nov. 16, 1981 the Pope welcomed in audience the participants of the General Assembly of ACN, who were meeting in Rome, and said to them: “In the two millennia of the history of Christian love for neighbor, you have made an efficient and moving contribution, as expressed in the name of your association, ‘Aid to the Church in Need.’ I address myself to our beloved Father Werenfried van Straaten to express my gratitude, together with that of so many bishops, thousands of priests, religious brothers and sisters, novices, seminarians and millions of the Catholic faithful.”

“To all of you diligent collaborators in this beautiful work of ecclesial solidarity, I renew my words of encouragement and impart to you my particular apostolic blessing.” It is a blessing that the foundation still draws on today.

—Maria Lozano


With picture of Father van Straaten and St. John Paul II (© 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

Thursday, May 14, 2020

ACN-USA News - Pakistan Christians, other religious minorities are denied COVID-19 aid

NGOs AND MUSLIM LEADERS in Pakistan stand accused of refusing to give COVID-19 emergency aid to Christians and other religious minorities—even though they are among those worst affected by the pandemic.

Cecil Shane Chaudhry, Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a Catholic-run human rights organization, described reports of religious organizations and mosques making announcements telling Christians not to come forward for food and other emergency handouts. 

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Mr. Chaudhry said Christians and other religious minorities were particularly in need of help as many are in the lowest paid jobs, dependent on daily wages, and on the breadline, with work drying up because of the lockdown. Stressing how minority women were especially at risk, he called on the Pakistan government to provide masks, gloves and other COVID-19 protective equipment for sanitary workers and domestic workers—many of whom are Christians.

With Pakistan’s government now easing the lockdown, Mr. Chaudhry said he feared a spike in COVID-19 cases especially among Christians and other minorities, whose jobs, he said, put them particularly at risk of infection. Mr. Chaudhry gave reports of how Christians in a village near Lahore on Raiwind Road had been denied food aid and how, in a separate incident, about 100 Christian families were excluded from food distribution in Sandha Kalan village, in the Punjab’s Kasur district.

He said there were reports of COVID-19 emergency aid staff on the ground refusing to give help to non-Muslims as the donations had come in as Zakat charitable offerings, in accordance with Islamic Shari‘a law. 

Mr. Chaudhry said: “COVID-19 knows no boundaries—everyone is at risk, irrespective of their religion so how can it be fair to deny food and other emergency help to Christians and other minorities, especially when they are among those suffering the most at this time?”

The NCJP chief quoted an imam from a mosque in Lahore’s Model Town who, he said, had announced in a recent sermon: “There will be a ration distribution tomorrow morning for needy people but only for Muslims.”

Pakistan has 32,819 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, according to latest reports, with 733 deaths, although Mr. Chaudhry stressed that many cases were going unreported. 

The NCJP chief called on the government to consult with minority groups about COVID-19 response initiatives and to make better use of census data to target aid for the most vulnerable. He said: “Although plans are being worked on, for now we do not know of [any initiatives to include] religious minority members to ensure their needs are not ignored.”

Aid to the Church in Need has in place a $5.5M  COVID-19 emergency aid program to support the work of the local Churches worldwide.

—John Pontifex


With picture of a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan (© 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
 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

ACN-USA News - Conquering hate with love—70th anniversary of the ‘Miracle of Vinkt’




ON MAY 27, 1940, in the village of Vinkt, near the Belgian city of Ghent, German troops massacred 86 civilians. Thanks to Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the location of this war crime became a scene of Christian love ten years later. That was 70 years ago this month. The Norbertine priest recognized the dangers of a Europe divided by hate and dedicated his life to restoring love.

World War II had come to an end. As agreed upon by the victorious powers at the Yalta Conference and in the Potsdam Agreement, 14 million Germans were driven out of the eastern provinces beginning in 1945. In western Germany, the majority of the displaced persons, among them six million Catholics, lived under inhumane conditions in bunkers or camps. The suffering of the millions of displaced persons reminded Father van Straaten of the story of the Nativity, when there was no room at the inn for the Holy Family.

The young priest appealed to the conscience of his fellow Christians in Belgium and the Netherlands, calling upon them to love their enemies and neighbors. In a famous article entitled “No room at the inn,” written for the 1947 Christmas edition of the magazine of Tongerlo Abbey in Belgium, he called upon locals, many of whom were still mourning relatives killed by the Germans, to make a gesture of reconciliation. Something incredible happened: the response to the article was overwhelming, unleashing a wave of giving among the Flemish people.

The name “Werenfried” means “warrior for peace” and this soon became the priest’s mission. In 1948, Father Werenfried collected donations of bacon from Flemish farmers, an initiative that was hugely successful and gave him the nickname of the “Bacon Priest.” Then, in 1950, exactly ten years after the massacre at Vinkt, he travelled to the village to preach.

In his memoirs, Father Werenfried wrote that he was apprehensive about preaching this sermon. “I was never quick to feel fear, but at the time I was afraid.” He certainly had cause, considering that resentment and hatred in the hearts of the people had yet to be vanquished. The oldest of the victims had been 89 years old, the youngest 13. Almost all of the families had suffered a loss.

He wrote: “I drove to Vinkt a day earlier to take stock of the situation. I arrived at the parish house on Saturday evening. Distraught, the priest raised his hands and exclaimed, ‘It will not work, Father, the people do not want it. They are saying, ‘What? This priest is coming to ask for help for the Germans? For those despicable people who shot our men and boys? Never! Not one living soul will come to hear his speech. He can preach to empty chairs, if he feels like it. And he should consider himself lucky that he is a priest. Otherwise he would be in for a beating!’

“What was I supposed to do? After discussing it with the priest, I decided to prepare for that evening’s speech by giving the sermon at all of the divine services held that Sunday. And so, to everyone’s surprise, I was the one standing in the pulpit the next morning, for fifteen whole minutes, preaching about love. It was the most difficult sermon I gave in my whole life. But it worked.

“And once I had spoken the Thanksgiving prayer after Holy Mass and the church had completely emptied—because the people are ashamed to show how good they really are!—a woman shyly came forward. She did not say anything, but gave me one thousand francs and then left before I could ask her anything. Fortunately, the priest had just come out of the sacristy and saw her leave. He told me that she was an ordinary farmer’s wife and that her husband, her son and her brother were all murdered by the Germans in 1940. And she was the first,” he continued.

“That evening, the meeting hall was full. For two hours, I talked about the desperate situation of the rucksack priests and the desolation of their faithful. I did not beg them for bacon, money or clothing. I only begged for love and at the very end I asked whether they would join me in praying for their suffering brothers in Germany.”

“They prayed with tears in their eyes. And late that evening, at eleven o’clock, when it was dark and no one would recognize them, they came, one after the other, to the parish house to deliver envelopes with one hundred francs, with five hundred francs, with an accompanying letter. And early the next morning, before I left, they came again to the parish house (…) I was given seventeen envelopes with money. They transferred money to my postal giro account. They collected bacon. They adopted a German priest. That was Vinkt! Human beings are better than we think!”

Werenfried van Straaten realized that peace and reconciliation would never return to the world while hatred lived on in the hearts of the people. He wrote: “We are all sailing on a ship and that ship is called Europe! […] When this ship springs a leak, everything else becomes irrelevant. And Europe’s Ship of State is taking water. So now we all have to pull up our sleeves and start pumping, or else we will all go under, no matter what side we are on.”

He continued, “Neither the atomic bomb nor the Marshall Plan will save us, only a true Christian life. Only through love, the mark of a Christian, can order be restored.”

—Volker Niggewöhner


With picture of Father Werenfried van Straaten (© 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, May 12, 2020

ACN News - Nigeria: Michael Nnadi & Bolanle Ataga—martyrs walking toward the barking dogs




HE FOLLOWING are reflections by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, in northwestern Nigeria. One of his seminarians, Michael Nnadi, was kidnapped and murdered earlier this year. Three of his fellow seminarians were also kidnapped but were released alive. A copy of this text was obtained by Aid to the Church in Need:


News of the capture of the kidnappers of the four seminarians has been received with ecstasy and a sense of divine vindication both within and beyond the Catholic and Christian circles here in Nigeria.

One of the kidnappers [is] Mustapha Mohammed, a 26 year old man and a member of the 45-man gang of kidnappers and bandits that has recklessly robbed, kidnapped, tortured and killed many people along the 110-mile stretch of road between Kaduna and Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, for the last four or so years.

According to Muhammad, they had killed Michael because he kept asking them to repent and turn their lives around from their evil ways. He said that what most annoyed them was that although Michael knew that they were Muslims, he continued to insist that they repent and abandon their way of life. Young Michael’s courage represents a page out of the book of the martyrs of old.
Also murdered with Michael by the same criminals was Mrs. Bolanle Ataga who had been kidnapped along with her two daughters. According to Muhammad, Bolanle was killed by their leader of the gang because she refused to be raped by him.
The story of Michael and Bolanle is a metaphor for understanding the deep scars that have been left behind by British colonialism, scars that have disfigured the face of religion in Nigeria and continue to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims.
British colonialism was established after the British had conquered the extant one-hundred-year-old Caliphate established by Usman dan Fodio (1804-1903). Although northern Muslim historiography would continue to project Lugard as a Christian missionary of sorts and hold his colonial project responsible for the institutionalization of Christianity in the region, the colonial project, led by Lord Lugard at the beginning of the 20th century, saw Christian missionaries as obstacles to their adventure.
What an irony!  The truth is that missionaries preceded the colonial state in Nigeria by many years. Their mission of education and the conversion of local people to Christianity very often set them against the colonial state, and particularly so in Northern Nigeria, so much so that they were not permitted by the British to enter there until the 1930s.  Thus, Christians in northern Nigeria have been left with a legacy by which they have suffered a double jeopardy.
Firstly, missionary work in Northern Nigeria was seen by the colonialists as an intrusion into the sacred space of Islam while the educated Christians were seen as irritants, challenging the racism and injustice embedded in colonialism, and slowing down their exploitation and trade. In Southern Nigeria, educated Christians were seen as more serious troublemakers because they constituted the trigger for the independence struggle. 
The weak muscles of northern hegemony were strengthened when the British introduced indirect rule and imposed feudal Muslim leadership that oversaw taxation of the non-Muslim populations across the Middle Belt.
Secondly, in post-colonial Nigeria, the northern Muslim elite, using religion as a basis for social integration and power sharing, have continued to see Christians as outsiders.  Today, it is popular myth in Northern Nigeria that whereas Muslims continue to marry young Christian girls and accept them and their cousins as converts to Islam, Muslim girls are warned that marrying a Christian or any Muslim converting to Christianity amounts to embracing a death sentence.
Other forms of discrimination include the denial of places of worship for the building of churches in most parts of northern Nigeria, the constant harassment and targeting of Christian places of worship for destruction by mobs of Muslim youth or by overzealous public servants of the state, the exclusion of Christians from public employment in the state civil service and limited opportunities for cultural self-expression. Christians remain outside the loop of power in most states despite their high levels of educational qualifications.
I have provided this backdrop to place the martyrdom of Michael and Bolanle in proper context, to appreciate the Sisyphean struggle that Christians are daily up against.
Against this backdrop, let me now turn to the metaphor of the barking dog and why it is significant for our analysis. A barking dog announces a possible disturbance of the environment by a new arrival. It could be a friend or a foe, depending on the reaction of the intruder. In response to the barking dog, it is better to walk towards it, facing it as a sign of possible friendship or willingness to dialogue on your side. If you turn your back or attempt to run, the dog will consider your strategy as a declaration of war and it will hurt you.
The British left a legacy of a feudal architecture of power that has been exploited by Nigeria’s corrupt and incompetent ruling elite across the country. In the north, the Muslim elite has continued to exploit the deep religiosity of its members by presenting themselves as defenders of the faith, a strategy that has been exploited for political mobilization. In ignorance, their people have continued to see education as a Western ploy to corrode their religion and culture.
This culture has bred ignorance, destitution, poverty, leading to a generation today across the northern states of over 13 million young people who have no meaningful survival skills. It is from this cesspool that Muhammad and his colleagues have emerged and are taking their revenge on a state that has failed them.
To be sure, there are kidnappers roaming across Nigeria, but none have been as brutal, murderous, cold-blooded, monstrous and brutish as those in the northern pool. They have slaughtered their fathers and mothers, irrespective of religion, status or gender. The challenging question before us in the north is, from where did they drink this poison?
Years of negative stereotypes against Christianity and its adherents have fed the anger of people like Muhammad who have come to believe that to be asked to repent is a call to war. True, by calling themselves Muslims while still carrying out acts of theft, banditry, rape and murder, these barking human dogs had lost the right to be called Muslims. However, there is no doubt that Muslim leaders and teachers in northern Nigeria must address the historical distortions and interpretations of the faith that have brought us to this cul de sac.
Else, why did Michael’s appeal for a change of heart become a death sentence? It was borne out of the belief that Michael did not possess the moral credentials to call them to repentance. Why should a woman’s protection from sexual violence constitute a death sentence?
Inspired by their faith, Michael and Bolanle, the brave martyrs, looked at the horde of barking dogs and were not afraid to walk towards them. For us as Christians, while we greatly mourn their passing, their deaths are gains, not losses. It was after the blood of Jesus dropped on the ground that the seeds of our redemption were sown.
Today, Michael’s grave stands as guard and witness at the entrance of his seminary where he was a student. His colleagues can walk through the gates knowing they have a guardian angel. When we buried him (Feb 11th, 2020), we prayed that his killers will not go free. He has interceded for us. He now stands as a metaphor, a rallying point for us to walk towards the barking dogs of our time.
Both he and Bolanle, as well as Leah Sharibu, who refused to renounce her Christian faith and remains in captivity, are metaphors for the suffering Church in Africa. Their testimony and witness represent the spiritual oxygen that our lungs so badly needed today. Together with the Ugandan martyrs, St. Bakhita, Blessed Isidore Bakanja and many others marked with the scars of torture for their faith, they are the bearers of promise and hope for the Church in our continent. Their example should serve as a rallying point for our young men and women in Africa.
Hopefully, they will inspire a new generation of defenders of the Gospel in a sick and troubled continent. With them ahead of us, let us rise and walk with courage towards the barking dogs to uphold Christ’s Gospel of Love.

With picture of Michael Nnadi (© 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, April 27, 2020

In Response to Pandemic, EWTN To Air Re-Consecration Of The United States And Canada To Our Lady

Join Us After Daily Mass This Week for Special Meditations
 Irondale, AL (EWTN) – Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), announced April 23 that the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to renew the consecration of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother. EWTN Global Catholic Network will air the brief liturgy and prayer of re-consecration at 3 p.m. ET, Friday, May 1, live from Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles with Archbishop Gomez celebrating. The event will also be aired live on EWTN’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ewtnonline

On the day of the Re-Consecration, Birmingham Bishop Robert J. Baker will celebrate the 8 a.m. ET Daily Mass and the Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word will conduct a Rosary Holy Hour at 2 p.m. ET. 

In addition, as a lead up in the week of the Re-Consecration, the Friars will lead a series of short meditations on the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. The meditations will immediately follow the 8 a.m. ET Mass on EWTN and will air in place of a recessional hymn. These meditations will also be aired live on EWTN’s Facebook page, along with a post containing the words to each day’s meditation. (Note: Dioceses interested in setting up a cross-posting relationship on Facebook are invited to contact dcowden@ewtn.com.)

In a letter to the U.S. Bishops regarding the Re-Consecration, Archbishop Gomez said: “This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.” Each year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. “This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic.”

EWTN Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw said: “EWTN is honored to be airing this important Re-Consecration of the United States and Canada to Our Lady. As the bishops’ leadership demonstrates, the road out of this pandemic is through the intercession of our Heavenly Mother. May the Lord bless and protect us in these challenging times.”

Photo caption: A replica of the mosaic of Mary, Mother of the Church at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at EWTN in Irondale, Ala. The original can be seen at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
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 350 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.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review -A Year with Fr. Rutler, Volume II: Lent, Easter, and Spring




Sophia Institute Press, 2019 

This is the first book by Fr. George Rutler that I have read.  It has been a wonderful experience to read such beautifully written meditations from such a well-educated and faithful priest.  Fr. Rutler is a convert to Catholicism from the Episcopalian priesthood and a graduate of Dartmouth College who also holds degrees from the Gregorian and Angelicum Universities in Rome.

A Year with Fr. Rutler, Volume II,  is a collection of more than ninety meditations for Lent, Easter and the Ascension of our Lord.  Father has a broad world-view,  a vast knowledge of contemporary issues, and a great love of the Catholic faith.  Each mediation will encourage you to think deeply on current issues as well as learn more about the Scriptures and Catholic faith issues.

This volume is greatly uplifting in its encouraging reflections, but it also brings the reader back down to earth with clear and perceptive interpretations of current events in the Church and in the world.  This is a recommended read for Lent, Easter or anytime of the year.

Reviewed by Rosa Sautner, Catholic homeschooling mother of two in New Jersey.

Friday, April 17, 2020

ACN-USA News - Aid group commits $5.5M to support priests and nuns serving communities most vulnerable to COVID-19


TO HELP MITIGATE the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international pontifical charity serving the persecuted and suffering Church around the world, is providing $5.5 M in emergency funding to priests and nuns caring for the most vulnerable communities around the world.

In the face of increased social distress worldwide due to COVID-19, this vital initiative will assist priests and nuns who lost their basic means of subsistence, so that they are able to continue carrying out their spiritual and social ministries, such as administering the sacraments, teaching the faith, caring for the sick and elderly, helping the poor and visiting prisoners.

ACN’s funding will be a broad-spectrum intervention, targeting the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa, through project support.

“As a rising tide of human suffering related to COVID-19 makes itself felt around the world, the demand for social and spiritual care is soaring,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, ACN’s Executive President.

“It is our wish that this aid, made possible thanks to our donors, will help ease the burden on our courageous priests and nuns, who stand on the front lines, bringing God’s love and compassion to our suffering brothers and sisters. Now more than ever, the light and hope of the Lord is needed.”

While the entire world is coping with the ravages of the pandemic, countless communities in developing countries – already impoverished and with limited resources – are particularly vulnerable in this crisis; often they are dependent on the local Church for social services, including health care.

“We are united in prayer with the brave and dedicated priests and nuns who give their all to serve the world’s most vulnerable communities, and with all who are suffering around the world,” Heine-Geldern continued.

“This is a drop in the bucket in terms of what is and will be needed, but the Church plays a particularly vital spiritual and pastoral role in the day-to-day life of the world’s poorest Christian communities, and we must help strengthen the safety net it provides.”

“I am so thankful to our donors, who, often despite their own pain and hardship, are reaching out to their fellow faithful. It is a beautiful gesture, one that is helping to keep the faith alive.”


With picture of a Sister serving the poor in Rwanda (© 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