Königstein/Montreal, August 2, 2022 –
Five months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has taken stock of the support sent to the country. A total of over 7.5 million dollars has been provided in emergency aid and other initiatives to assist the Catholic Church in its unwavering support of its people.
Following initial immediate aid packages, the international charity had pledged an additional 3.75 million dollars over the past three months to help the Church in Ukraine. And with the recent approval in July of 34 new projects, support provided by ACN has surpassed 7.5 million dollars in 2022.
“The worst consequences of the war will not be felt in the short-term; the psychological, physical, and humanitarian effects will only become apparent later. Only God can heal the deeper wounds, but we can try to soften the more immediate needs and support the local Church so that it can remain on the ground,” says Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International.
“Thanks to ACN benefactors, priests and religious can offset shortages of food and basic hygiene and medical products felt by many of the internally displaced people. Furthermore, they can provide psychological and spiritual support to all those who are traumatised from losing their homes or loved ones,” explains Heine-Geldern.
“We are in daily contact with the whole country,” adds Magda Kaczmarek, who has served as ACN’s head of section for Ukraine for the past 14 years. “In this way we can identify the projects that the local Church considers to be a priority and be flexible in our monthly aid.”
An overwhelmed population
“There is tremendous pain,” continues Kaczmarek, who visited Ukraine in April. “It was a very emotional experience. We met with refugees who did nothing but cry. It was important just to hug them. But there were also refugees who were completely dumbstruck. I remember one young man, who must have been around 30, who had not said one word since the war started.”
“The Church is the anchor that keeps the boat steady through the changing tides,” says Kaczmarek. “The main concern and fear that everybody feels has to do with the coming of winter, but now they are also worried that by the end of August, the shortage of food and fuel will have become even more serious,” she explains.
Thanks to the generosity of ACN benefactors from all over the world, the financial assistance of over 7.5 million dollars provided by the international charity has helped covered the following projects carried out during the first five months of the war:
• 4.8 million dollars in emergency and subsistence aid, divided as follows:
- 1.95 million dollars sent to the ecclesiastical districts in Ukraine, right after the outbreak of the war, to offset the most urgent needs in each of them
- 1.2 million dollars in aid to Ukrainian priests, in the form of mass offerings to cover, for example, costs related to basic needs, travel, and their pastoral and social work
- $975,000 towards a total of 14 projects, to enable dioceses and religious orders to host internally displaced people in parishes, convents, seminaries, etc.
- $675,000 for subsistence aid, through 17 projects, notably for the male and female religious and to support older or sick nuns
• 1.65 million dollars, through a total of 23 projects, towards construction, restoration and refurbishing of buildings—for example, the repairs to the seminary in Vorzel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was looted in the first phase of the war—or towards the purchase of 17 generators.
• $900,000 to purchase 29 vehicles—a priority at this time, as humanitarian aid must be transported over long distances, on roads that are in poor condition or destroyed.
Magda Kaczmarek explains that the Church acts as a refuge, literally and figuratively. “The churches have opened their doors to everyone and now host thousands of internally displaced people in all dioceses. However, this represents a financial challenge. The lion’s share of the money is covering the basics, such as electricity, water, heating, and so on,” Kaczmarek explains. “During these five months, we have been able to give plenty of help, and we will continue to do so. We need to provide our people with hope,” Kaczmarek concludes.
In Canada, donations can be made online by visiting https://acn-canada.org/donate/ and selecting Help for Ukraine, or by phoning 1-800-585-6333 ext. 225.
With offices in 23 countries, ACN approves an average of 6,000 projects every year in around 150 countries, all thanks to private donations, as the charity is not publicly funded.
Founded in 1947 as a Catholic organisation to aid war refugees and recognised as a Pontifical Charity in 2011, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is dedicated to the service of Christians all over the world, wherever they suffer from persecution, discrimination or a lack of material needs, through prayer, information, and charity.