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Press release : Holy Land = Between hope and scepticism

27.08.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

20110915_024

©AED/ACN

When it comes to the current peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians the Jerusalem Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali feels torn between hope and scepticism. Talking to the international Catholic pastoral charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Shomali, who is responsible in the Latin Patriarchate for the Palestinian areas, said (last Friday): “My heart, filled with hope and faith, tells me negotiations will succeed. My sceptical mind, bringing to the surface the past rounds of negotiations – Madrid, Oslo, Camp David, River Plantation, Sharm El-Sheikh, Amman etc. – and how they failed, tells the opposite. “

“In the meantime, I feel the need not to dress up as a prophet but to continue praying and inviting others to do the same.” Should the talks fail, Bishop Shomali expressed his wish that there will not be a third Palestinian intifada.” The experience of the two last ones was destructive. Fighting should continue on the political level.”

“Their moderating role can be of great help”

Bishop Shomali described the role of Israel’s and Palestine’s Christians in the conflict as a moderating one. “They pray and believe that peace remains possible. They are moderate actors in their respective country. Some Palestinian Christians are present in the negotiations, in a direct or indirect way. Their moderating role can be of great help.”

20121207_004When asked what the Church’s position was on what status East Jerusalem should be accorded as part of a final status solution, Shomali expressed the view: “Jerusalem should be a city for two peoples and three religions, which should have equal rights and dignity.” Bishop Shomali, a Palestinian by birth, went on to stress that Jerusalem should remain an open city enjoying a particular status and international guarantees. “For the details of the implementation of such vision, we need creative negotiators, open to new solutions in order to deal with all the obstacles such as the settlements and how to keep open Jerusalem and all its holy Places,” Shomali stated.

Concerning the position of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, according to whom the conflict was not fundamentally about Jewish settlements on the West Bank, but about the Palestinians’ refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, Bishop Shomali said: “I believe that Palestinians should recognize Israel as a State, with full rights and secure borders. It is up to Israelis, not Palestinians, to decide what character this state should have; in the same way it is up to Israelis and not to others to decide who is a ‘Jew’ and who is not. In a reciprocal way, it will be requested of Israel that they recognize an Arab country as such without specifying whether this Arab country should be secular or ‘Islamic’.”

In conclusion Bishop Shomali stressed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was no longer the only conflict which threatened the stability of the Middle East today. “Since the so called ‘Arab spring’ there are new realities on the ground. But this conflict remains an important factor.”

Ukraine – “This place will be the heart of our Church!”

27.08.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, CONSTRUCTION, Ukraine

Major Archbishop Shevchuk dedicates the Greek Catholic Cathedral in Kiev

Maria Lozano, AED International

Adaptation Robert Lalonde, AED CanadaACN-20130823-00248

On the invitation of Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevczuk – Head of the Ukrainian Church which is in full communion with the Holy See – a delegation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) attended the dedication of the newly-built Greek Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev. The dedication took place on 18 August on the occasion of the 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Prince Vladimir in Kievan Rus, the precursor of today’s states of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

“We have built it together!”

More than 25,000 faithful attended the three-hour liturgy, including pilgrims from Ukraine, Eastern and Western Europe as well as Canada, Australia, the USA and Scandinavia among others. The Papal Legate Cardinal Audrys Bačkis, Apostolic Nuncio Mons. Thomas Edward Gullikson, and more than 40 bishops from Ukraine as well as from the aforementioned diaspora regions also celebrated the Mass together with more than 500 priests. Only a small proportion were able to attend the celebrations inside the Cathedral. The great majority of the faithful watched the liturgy on screens outside. The liturgy was broadcast live on Ukrainian television.

ACN-20130823-00243The sermon by Major Archbishop Shevchuk was aimed in particular at the Ukrainian youth, who represent the future of this Church: “Jesus Christ be praised! 1025 years ago, our people became a part of God’s people. We are the people of God! And so the city of Kiev has become the centre of our Christianity…Father! You are our God! Happy is the people whose Father is the Lord!” Again and again, Shevchuk emphasised the significance of the “Sobor”, which in the Slavic language means “the assembly” but also “the cathedral”: “Our ‘Sobor’ is in Kiev. This ‘place’ will be the heart of our Church! We have built it together! It is our house! I thank you for your aid from Ukraine, from Western and Eastern Europe, and from the other continents!”

Our building project : a spiritual dimension

ACN has also given its support to the building of the “Sobor Voskresinnya Khrystovoho” Cathedral to the tune of $548 000 in recent years. Magda Kaczmarek, head of the charity’s Ukraine country section, was especially pleased to be able to be present for the project’s completion: “I am delighted to be able to be here, because I can feel how young and flourishing the Catholic Church in Ukraine is. When I see so many children and young people here, I notice once again that our building projects not only have a material dimension but also a spiritual one. We are not only erecting a building, we are also helping to build the future of our Church.”

An especially moving part of the liturgy was the renewal of the baptismal promise and the Blessing of the Waters at the Dnieper River by Major Archbishop Shevchuk. The Papal Letter, read by Cardinal Audrys Bački, further indicated the significance of the event. The 1025th anniversary of the baptism of Kievan Rus by Saint Vladimir was an occasion of hope for the full unity of all Christians among the Ukrainian people, it said.ACN-20130823-00247

Relics of the three Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew are preserved and honoured in the Cathedral together with those of two popes who died on Ukrainian territory – Clement I and Martin I – as well as the Ukrainian martyrs Jozafat Kuncewicz, Mykola Czarneckyj and Josaphat Kocylovskyj.

The largest Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine in full communion with Rome has a congregation of approximately 4.2 million, at least half of whom are living abroad. At the end of the 1990s, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar decided to transfer the seat of the Head of the Church in Ukraine from Lviv to Kiev, and with that move the construction of the Cathedral in Kiev began.

Egypt – Stop the terrorists

19.08.2013 in ACN Canada, egypt, EU, European Union, Persecution of Christians

Bishop hits out at West amid reports of nearly 80 church buildings attacked

By John Pontifex – ACN United-Kingdom
Adaptation – Marie-Claude Lalonde – ACN Canada

Damages following the fire, church of St. Teresa, Assiut

Damages following the fire, church of St. Teresa, Assiut

GOVERNMENTS in the West have come under fire from a leading Egyptian bishop who has called on them to work with the country’s new regime in defeating extremists responsible for a wave of terrorism directed against nearly 80 churches and other Coptic centres.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William of Assiut said that many Christians, especially in the worst affected area of Minya province, Upper Egypt, were now too afraid to leave their homes after last week’s 48-hour anti-Christian rampage by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

It comes as reports from Coptic Catholic Bishop Joannes Zakaria described how he was “saved” by police who stopped Islamists from setting fire to his home in Luxor during a spate of violence that has grounded the region’s Christian community – including the bishop, priests, Sisters and laity – and prevented them from leaving their homes.

Fire at the Association of Jesuit brothers in Minia

Fire at the Association of Jesuit brothers in Minia

Describing how, since Tuesday (13th August), almost 80 churches, convents, Church-run schools, clinics and other centres were hit, Bishop William criticised the West for failing to acknowledge the scale of unprovoked attacks on innocent communities by Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop William said: “The Western governments are speaking about human rights; yes, these groups have a right to demonstrate but not with arms. The Western governments do not see the reality of what is going on here. “A group of terrorists have used arms against us. [Western governments] should not be supporting this.”

Speaking from Assiut, Bishop William added: “The [Muslim Brothers] think that the Christians were the cause of Morsi being ousted. But the Christians were not alone – there were 35 million who went on the streets against Morsi. “Christians are being punished. We have been scape-goated.”

He stressed that, in spite of repeated efforts – including those by European Union governments – to encourage the Muslim Brotherhood to engage in dialogue, the Islamist movement had responded with violence.

Catholic Coptic Patriarch Ibrahim Sidrak

Catholic Coptic Patriarch Ibrahim Sidrak

His comments come as Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Sidrak of Alexandria issued a statement today (Monday, 19

August) in which he declared “our free, strong and conscious support for all state institutions, particularly the Armed Forces and the police for all their efforts in protecting our homeland.”

Both he and Bishop William stressed how many Muslims had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Christians in defending churches and other Coptic buildings from attack. Bishop William said: “Our people are close to normal Muslims, moderate Muslims. When the fundamentalists came for the Christians in [Assiut’s] Old Town, the Muslims sent them away using arms. “In other cities, Christians and Muslims came to protect churches and they stayed next to the churches all day.”

He said that many Muslims shared the Christians’ view that there should be a clear separation between religion and the state.

Many bishops underlined how the attacks of last week came as a surprise. Bishop William said: “We had expected some response [from the Muslim Brothers] but not to this degree of brutality”.

In Luxor, Bishop Joannes Zakaria told ACN how on Friday (16th August), an Islamic protest turned ugly when the extremists tried to break into the bishop’s house and set fire to it but armed forces intervened “and saved us, thanks be to God”. He said that all the churches were now closed, adding: “I, the bishop, the priests, the Sisters and the people cannot move [about]. We keep staying in our homes to be saved from any kind of violence.”

The bishop said that both in Luxor, and the villages outside, “some” churches and Christians’ homes were set on fire and that some Christian-run shops were destroyed. He added that in Dabbiah, a village close to Luxor, five Christians and one Muslim had been killed.

Fire at the Franciscan's school in Beni Suef

Fire at the Franciscan’s school in Beni Suef

All the bishops appealed for prayers.

In a message to the National Director of ACN in the United Kingdom, Bishop Zakaria said: “We are happy to be suffering and to be victims and to lose our churches and our homes and our livelihood to save Egypt for the Christians and the Muslims. We need the prayer of everybody to solve our problems. It is the future of our children that we are concerned about so that good Christians and Muslims can live alongside each other.”

Nigeria: Comforting the afflicted

15.08.2013 in ACN Canada, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

REPORTAGE - JEUDIComforting the afflicted

The community of St Theresa’s, Madalla, will be forever scarred by the attack during Mass on Christmas morning 2011 when 45 died and 81 were injured.

Nearly 18 months on from the explosion, we visited victims of the atrocity.

Chioma Dike described how she lost her husband, Williams Dike, and three of her children, including four-year-old Emmanuel, whose story you can read at www.acnuk.org/nigeria

Only two of Mrs Dike’s children survived, and both were injured. She herself was unharmed, having stayed at home preparing a Christmas meal for herreportage-jeudi-2-resized.jpg family.

She told me: “I have a broken heart – only God can help me. I will never lose faith in God.”

I told her that ACN benefactors had prayed for her and her family and she said:  “Thank you. Please pray for our protection.”

Bishop Martin Igwe Uzoukwu of Minna told us: “ACN has helped those of us who have suffered so much. I pray that God will reward your generosity.”

• To watch a video of John Pontifex’s interview with Mrs Chioma Dike and Bishop Igwe at St Theresa’s, Madalla visit www.acnuk.org/nigeria

Pioneering women of faith

REPORTAGE - JEUDI 3Full of smiles, they are pioneers going where no woman has gone before.

At a time of social change, the 20 committed Catholics have begun training to become the first female catechists in northern Nigeria.

When they complete their two-year training, they will go out to parishes, holding prayer services and preparing people for the Sacraments.

They will look after mission stations and churches scattered far and wide.

In so doing, they will overturn a tradition whereby the Nigerian catechist, in his high-visibility purple cassock, has always been male.

The women come from all walks of life. One is a grandmother, another has

children now at school and a third has retired after 35 years as a civil servant.

Trainee catechist Margaret said: “As a woman, I feel I can do a lot more for the Church so this is a wonderful opportunity to evangelise, to help people taste God. I want to bring peace to a world that has no peace.”

As well as helping to build the new women catechists’ centre, ACN is sponsoring the women’s formation in moral theology, Scripture and inter-religious dialogue.

This completes our series of articles about the situation prevailing in Nigeria.  We hope these stories have touched your heart and have encouraged you to pray for your Nigerian brothers and sisters living in poverty and persecution.

Press release : Egypt : Christians are as hopeful as they are anxious

14.08.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, egypt

By Oliver Maksan for ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN CanadaÉGYPTE 14 AOUT 1

Montreal, August 14, 2013 – “The Islamists are taking revenge on us Christians!” These words were the commentary of Coptic-Catholic Bishop of Assiut, Kyrillos William Samaan,  with regard to the latest Islamist attacks on Christians and Christian institutions in Egypt  while in conversation on Monday (August 12) with the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN).

The Bishop was referring among other things to events in the towns of Sohag, Fayum and Beni Suef and on the Sinai Peninsula. There, churches were attacked by Islamists, Christians threatened and in some cases resulting in fatalities. In the town of Sohag it was said that Islamic extremists raised the black Al-Qaida flag over a church. Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had accused Egypt’s Christians of being jointly responsible with the military and the forces of the Mubarak regime for toppling the Islamist head of state Mohamed Mursi on July 3 of this year. “This is absurd, of course. 33 million Egyptians had demanded his resignation. We Christians were not the only ones to demonstrate against Mursi,” Bishop Kyrillos said. In view of the current security situation he was worried, but he did not wish to reproach law enforcement. “The police and the other organs of the state are at present busy keeping the Islamists under control.”

ÉGYPTE 14 AOUT 2The Bishop stressed, however, that the climate had changed considerably for Egypt’s Christians since the fall of Mursi. “We feel at home again in Egypt,” Kyrillos explained. He went on to emphasize that non-Christian publicists would now speak up for Christians by stressing that Christians should not be expected to pay the price of democratization.

Optimism for the future constitution

The Bishop also saw it as a positive sign that in Sohag or Assiut, for example, moderate Muslims had defended Christian churches against demonstrating Islamists. “This is the true Egypt: Christians and Muslims are united,” Bishop Kyrillos continued. According to him, this year’s message from Pope Francis at the end of the Islamic fast of Ramadan was received very positively. For the first time the Pope had used the opportunity to address Muslims worldwide personally. In previous years the letter had been published by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on the Pope’s behalf.

The Bishop criticized the deposed Muslim brothers for refusing to accept the new government’s offers of reconciliation. “The problem is that they still want to have an Islamic state. The majority of Egyptians are happy, however, that this has not come about. They want a liberal state,” Bishop Kyrillos claimed. He said he was optimistic therefore with regard to the future constitution. A 50-strong committee would soon be revising the constitution drawn up under the Islamist Mursi and adopted by referendum. Representatives of Egyptian Christians would also be collaborating in this effort. “All social forces will work on it. I am confident that state and religion will be separated. After all, mixing them is the source of much evil.”ÉGYPTE 14 AOUT 3

The Coptic-Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, the head of the largest Church in Egypt, made a plea on Monday for the avoidance of further bloodshed in the face of denominational tensions. According to media reports the Patriarch has suspended the weekly audiences in his Cairo cathedral for fear of attacks. Previously 16 Egyptian human rights groups had accused the Islamists of stirring up feelings against Egypt’s Christians since June 30, the day of the mass protests against Mursi. At the same time they criticized the state for not doing enough to protect Christian institutions and individuals.

Nigeria: “Were it not for your prayers, it would have been much worse.”

14.08.2013 in ACN Canada, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

“Were it not for your prayers, it would have been much worse.”

[Picture captions: Young people at a roadside in northern Nigeria; Persecuted but not forgotten: Fr John Bakeni]REPORTAGE - MERCREDI

A climate of fear has spread across northern Nigeria amid continuing attacks which have threatened to make parts of the region ungovernable.

Attacks on government structures, market places and religious communities – both Muslim and Christian – have prompted widespread anxiety. Thousands have fled.

Many violent groups have been operating in northern Nigeria but the most feared is Islamist extremist movement Boko Haram, who have struck at the heart of government and have “declared a war on Christians”, attacking them in their homes, in their places of work and in their churches.

Some reports say that in 2012, more than 900 Christians were killed in Nigeria in religious hatred attacks.

President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has responded by declaring a state of emergency in the north-east.

The epicentre of the crisis is Maiduguri, not far from where Fr John Bakeni is parish priest, close to the border with Niger.

ACN sponsored Fr John’s training and provides Mass stipends for priests like him.

REPORTAGE - MERCREDI 2Fr John told us about life in his parish: “For the first three months at the church, I could not sleep. Shooting and killing go on outside my church. They throw stones into my churchyard and fling dead animals over the church wall.”

In spite of the challenges, Fr John continues to serve his parishioners: “Many people have fled but those who are able to stay are encouraged that I am with them, saying Mass and carrying out home visits.”

Fr John said: “The Church has always been a persecuted Church. I feel that if persecution comes and I have to give my life, let it be.

“We really feel your prayers. If not for your prayers, it would have been much worse.”

5,000 seminarians REPORTAGE - MERCREDI 3

“When you go back home, tell the people that there are many of us who want to be priests. Extremists in Nigeria follow the way of violence but we want to follow the way of the Lord.”

Just months away from ordination to the priesthood, Deacon Hezekiah Kovona is one of 327 young men at St Augustine’s Seminary, Jos.

St Augustine’s has suffered repeated threats from extremists.

Once Islamists set fire to a monastery next to the seminary and threatened to overrun St Augustine’s but the students rushed out and the mob ran away.

Now, seminarians take it in turns to patrol the site’s perimeter wall, making use of a hotline to Jos police headquarters if trouble arises.

One seminarian, named Genesis, said: “We attribute our survival to God. People – even our families – sometimes ask why we want to risk our lives as priests, but we are not afraid.”

Genesis is one of more than 5,000 seminarians in Nigeria – the highest number in all of Africa.

ACN is committed to helping students at St Augustine’s and others preparing for the priesthood.

Since 2010, ACN has provided ongoing help for 56 seminarians from the Archdiocese of Jos and provided Mass stipends for 19 priests working at St Augustine’s.

• To watch a video of seminarians from St Augustine in Jos, visit www.acnuk.org/nigeria

TOMORROW 

 

Comforting the afflicted

 

 

Excerpt:          I have a broken heart – only God can help me. I will never lose faith in God.”

 

AND

Pioneers of faith

 

Excerpt:          “As a woman, I feel I can do a lot more for the Church so this is a wonderful opportunity to evangelize, to help people taste God. I want to bring peace to a world that has no peace.”

To make a donation to Aid to the Church in Need, please call:

(514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585 6333

Nigeria: A miracle – John’s story

13.08.2013 in ACN Canada, Bible apostolate, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians

 By John Pontifex, ACN United KingdomREPORTAGE - MARDI

Adapted by ACN Canada

“We were kneeling down. The priest was about to raise the host and say ‘This is the Lamb of God’ when we heard a car smash through the wall outside the church. Then there was a huge explosion, and I lost consciousness.”

John Abba describes the moment in October 2012 when a suicide bomber targeted his church of St Rita’s, north Kaduna.John is in the church choir, and I interviewed him in the precise spot where he was kneeling when the explosion took place.I met John alongside seven others in the choir maimed for life by the attack. Some had lost an eye, others had shrapnel wounds.

John said: “People thought I was dead. I was lying in a pool of blood. They shouted my name and thought it was a miracle when I responded.

“I could not see at all. The doctors told me mine was a hopeless case. But I never stopped trusting in God. For two months and 10 days, I was blind and then – after many operations – my sight began to return in one eye. When people hear my story, they often look at me and say yes, there is a God.”

As well as supporting priests who offer pastoral support for the victims, ACN has sponsored inter-faith dialogue initiatives aimed at quelling unrest in the wake of atrocities.

• On 22nd March 2013, people praying at St Martin’s Church, Ganye, eastern Nigeria, ran for their lives when militants attacked their church. For a full report with video, interviews and photos, visit www.acnuk.org/nigeria

REPORTAGE - MARDI 2Esther ’s Bible

This is three-year-old Esther Dowda from Zaria, northern Nigeria.She is holding ACN’s Child’s Bible in Hausa, a major language in northern Nigeria.

We met Esther in the bombed-out remains of her church, St Stephen’s, where her father, Ibrahim, was reading her the Child’s Bible.

Thanks to you, ACN has printed and distributed 100,000 Child’s Bibles in Hausa and similar numbers have been provided in Yoruba and Tiv languages.

Another 200,000 have been despatched in Igbo language.

Across the country, English language copies top 250,000.

Ibrahim, said: “Esther really enjoys the stories I read to her and she loves the colourful pictures.”

TOMORROW 

 

 

“Were it not for your prayers, it would have been much worse.”

 

Excerpt:     “For the first three months at the church, I could not sleep. Shooting and killing go on outside my church. They throw stones into my churchyard and fling dead animals over the church wall.”

 

 

AND

5,000 seminarians in Nigeria 

 

Excerpt:        “People – even our families – sometimes ask why we want to risk our lives as priests but we are not afraid.”

 

 

To make a donation to Aid to the Church in Need, please call:

(514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585 6333

Brazil “Come on in … it takes less than 15 minutes…”

07.08.2013 in ACN Brazil, ACN Canada, ACN International

 15,000 young people visit ACN’s exhibition at WYD Rio 2013

By ACN International

Adapted by ACN Canada

“Come on in … it takes less than 15 minutes…” This inviting phrase displayed on a two-metre-high screen was seen by the approx. 15,000 young people who came to the exhibition in Rio de Janeiro organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) during World Youth Day.

The exhibition was set up to receive ten visitors every three minutes, but on the first day this number was increased to 15 visitors. On the final day, so many people wanted to see the exhibition – which was part of the official cultural program of WYD Rio 2013 – that it was even necessary to take groups of up to 25 persons. The national and international team of ACN staff was supplemented by 40 voluntary WYD helpers to welcome the young people who came to the exhibition venue at Largo da Carioca.

“What impressed me most was that neither the rain nor the cold nor the adversities could diminish the success of the exhibition or the young people’s interest,” said Father Evaristo Debiasi, ACN’s ecclesiastical assistant in Brazil. “The youth is really looking for something very profound, and they see that it is Christ alone who can give – in the very depths of their heart – the answer to what they most desire in life: love and happiness. I could hardly have imagined that, with its short videos, ACN’s exhibition could be so capable of touching the hearts of thousands of people.”

A desire to join in Church action 

The majority of visitors were Brazilians aged between 19 and 25 years who had travelled with groups from the various cities of the country. But the attendance of people working nearby was also noticeable because the ACN exhibition was held at a very central location,and many people were able to take the opportunity to visit it during their lunch break. Among the foreign visitors, people from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico were represented particularly strongly. The latter were especially moved by the film of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

JMJ - 2The exhibition comprised six darkened tents in which short videos were shown displaying the missionary work of the Church. These made a particular impact on the hearts of the young people. At the end of their tour through the tents, they found the Most Blessed Sacrament set out in a very brightly lit chapel with a translucent roof within the last tent. On encountering the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, they knelt or sat on the floor to meditate – for much longer than the 15 minutes foreseen by the exhibition’s organizers – thus demonstrating that the new generation, which calls itself “the youth of the Pope,” thirsts after God and is also prepared to make sacrifices for what is worthwhile.

Bruno Pires is a 23-year-old Brazilian. He grew up in a Catholic family, but later became alienated from his faith. He found his way back to the Church when, as he put it in his own dramatic formulation, he felt himself to be “a piece of junk that was no longer worthy of life.” He earned the fare for the journey by selling cakes and pizzas: “I was not aware of ACN before, but you are showing what the Church is and what it has done, and this exhibition definitely arouses the desire in young people to join in; perhaps not in a faraway missionary station, but certainly in their own everyday life.” The young man declared: “The exhibition was very dark. One could see the work of the Church, but one could also see sad and dramatic situations. At the end of the show, one entered a totally brightly-lit room in which the Eucharist was displayed, and there one saw Jesus Christ, the light that can change all of that.”

After passing through the chapel, the young people entered the International Pavilion. This held the booths, not only of various national offices of ACN from all round the world, but also of various religious orders and missionary movements that came into dialogue with the young people and opened new horizons for them.

“The exhibition was a great help to me in considering what I can do to help the Church and to help people,” said Malgorzata Szwed, a young woman from Poland who worked as a voluntary helper in the exhibition. “This work of raising people’s awareness of the various possibilities for giving aid throughout the world is very important.”

15,000 young people now carry the name of “Aid to the Church in Need” in their hearts

The exhibition was also visited by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who took the opportunity to address a word of thanks to ACN’s benefactors: “I am very pleased to express my greetings to the benefactors of ACN. I was born in the former Czechoslovakia. Our country received much aid from Father Werenfried, as did many other countries of Eastern Europe during the Communist period. This work has now been expanded to cover the whole world, and the support given by the many donations in all countries, also here in Brazil, is a great help for the many needs of the Church. I would like to express my most sincere thanks to ACN’s benefactors: ‘Muito obrigado!’”

JMJ - 3Now, 15,000 young people carry the name of “Aid to the Church in Need” in theirhearts. In order not to lose sight of the charity’s mission, the exhibition showed not only what the Church is doing now but also what still remains to be done. “We believe it is very important for the young people to see that faith is not just a festival. It is necessary for us to do something to make the world around us a better place. And this depends on every one of us,” concluded José Corrêa, the Director of ACN in Brazil.

The exhibition was open from 22 until 26 July. It took place at a central location in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. To the astonishment of the visitors, the Popemobile drove past carrying the Holy Father, who greeted and blessed the young people.

Press release / Northern Nigeria – “Boko Haram is a product of corruption”

02.08.2013 in ACN Canada, Nigeria

NIGERIAEva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

In spite of the permanent threat of acts of terrorism by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, the faithful in the Northern Nigerian diocese of Maiduguri “are very brave and have no fear,” the Bishop of Maiduguri, Oliver Dashe Doeme, declared to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Although his diocese is severely affected by the attacks on Christians, he said, the faithful nevertheless “very courageously give open witness to their faith.” Even shortly after terror attacks on churches, the people still came “in great numbers” to attend the religious services.

The loyalty of his priests is also “of great encouragement” to him, the Bishop said. “Despite constant mortal danger and threats, our priests stay in their parishes and continue to perform their service,” he explained. The number of people taking up the vocation is also gratifying. In the seminary of Maiduguri there are currently 30 seminarians. Just recently, eight priests were ordained in his diocese.

The Bishop described Boko Haram as “a product of corruption.” In order to achieve peace it was therefore necessary to combat the corruption that is prevalent in the country and to provide perspectives for the youth. Certain groups, in his view, can manipulate those young people who lack a perspective, whereas young people with a place in society are not so easy to misuse for the ends of others. “If I told someone to ‘go and kill,’ those young people who have a place in society would not do it,” the Bishop said. He pointed out that Nigeria is a country rich in resources, yet the corruption as well as the one-sided concentration of the economy on oil extraction while other sectors of the economy, especially agriculture, are not fostered, represent serious disadvantages for the West African country. There is great need for action here.

Major challenges for the Church in Northern Nigeria, according to Bishop Doeme, lie in the rebuilding of churches and ecclesiastical buildings after terror attacks as well as in the pastoral care of widows and orphans.

Bolivia – Thanks for the Bibles

01.08.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Bolivia, Pastoral aid, Uncategorized

By ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Bolivia is regarded as the poorest country of Latin America, and two thirds of its almost 11 million inhabitants, the majority of indigenous descent, currently live in poverty – many, 40%, live in extreme poverty. Poverty is not the only problem that plagues these people for in the last few years, in a similar to Venezuela, the situation in Bolivia has grown increasingly alarming in regard to freedom of religion and freedom of opinion.

Consequently it is all the more important to strengthen Catholics in their faith. The parish of Cuerpo de Cristo in the city of El Alto (population 900,000-plus in the high altitude of the Andes some 13,000 feet (4000 m) above sea level, is working intensively with the Sacred Scriptures.

On Sunday parishioners bring a Bible with them to Holy Mass and afterwards read the texts from the day’s liturgy together, followed with a time of reflection and then they endeavour to answer the questions that the parish priest has prepared for each session. This is a very fruitful form of catechesis.

Similarly, the 41 religious education teachers are showing their pupils how to better get to know the Word of God. Bishop Jesús Juárez Párraga fully supports this initiative initiated by his parish priest and would like as many of the faithful as possible to benefit from it. But the people in El Alto are extremely poor and few of them can afford to purchase a copy of the Bible.

And so, Father Sebastian, the parish priest has turned to ACN for help in purchasing 700 copies of the Scriptures. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to provide the 6,785 dollars requested and help insure the parish continues with this valuable Bible study initiative.