Aid to the Church in Need supports Christians worldwide: Our Story
The roots of Aid to the Church in Need go back to the post-war era of the Second World War. Europe was in ruins; millions of people were displaced or in flight, often without shelter and plagued by hunger – with refugees from eastern Germany particularly affected.
In 1947, the welfare organization “Ostpriesterhilfe” was founded, from which the charity Iron Curtain Church Relief, today’s Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), arose. The association organized food and clothing for millions of eastern German refugees, also providing spiritual care during this time of crisis. Initially the task seemed nearly impossible – especially considering that those from whom he sought donations were themselves victims of the German war occupation in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Charity as concretely lived faith
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need was repeatedly successful in getting unique aid projects off the ground. For instance, priests with backpacks were sent on motorcycles and in VW Beetles to remote provinces, and chapel trucks were sent as mobile churches to displaced persons. When the Cold War began in the 1950s, the charity launched an unprecedented campaign to lend support to the persecuted Catholic Church in countries behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1960s, aid programs were extended to Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Thanks to hundreds of thousands of Aid to the Church in Need benefactors, annual donations now total over 165 million dollars for this organization now active throughout the world. This success story proves once again how practical charity grows out of a lived faith.
A Pontifical Charity with worldwide reach
Following our inclusion under the Vatican’s umbrella as a Pontifical Charity, our General Secretariat in Germany and our 23 National Sections have been successful in building a unique bridge between benefactors and those in need.