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Press Release: Silsilah Dialogue Movement honoured with Goi Peace Award in Tokyo

06.11.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Peace, Philippines

 By Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Philippines-1Montreal, November 5 2013 – The Silsilah Dialogue Movement has won the renowned Goi Peace Award from the Japanese foundation which strives for peace throughout the world carrying the same name. The Silsilah Dialogue Movement, founded by Sebastiano D’Ambra, an Italian missionary, in Zamboanga City in the west of the island of Mindanao, was given the award for its long-standing involvement among both Muslims and Christians.

The award recognizes the movement’s efforts to promote peace and solidarity between the different peoples and religions through dialogue. Father D’Ambra will officially receive the award in Tokyo on November 27.

The peace initiative has always remained true to its aims

The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has supported the Silsilah Dialogue Movement for many years. The name Silsilah comes from Arabic and means “chain” or “link”. Father D’Ambra established the Dialogue Movement in 1984 together with Muslim and Christian friends. Despite the murders of members of the movement, which included missionaries, the peace initiative has always remained true to its aims. On many occasions the Dialogue Movement has played a decisive part in peace negotiations between the government and Muslim rebel groups.

PRESS RELEASE: Syria – Death and destruction in a Christian town

05.11.2013 in ACN Canada, Persecution of Christians, Syria

Suffering in Sadad: Bodies of family discovered in a well

By John Pontifex, ACN United-Kingdom
Adaptation, Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal, November 5th, 2013 – Horrific details are emerging of atrocities carried out in a Christian town in Syria, where 1,500 families were held hostage and 45 were killed, including two teenage boys, their mother and three of their grandparents who were thrown down a well.ACN-20130926-01125

Inhabitants of Sadad, near Homs, who fled the largely Syrian Orthodox town when rebels attacked last month, are now returning home to discover the scale of atrocities in what is being seen as the worst act of anti-Christian persecution since the war in Syria began.

1,500 families as “human shields”

The reports, sent by Church leaders to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, describe how, in this ancient Christian town mentioned in the Bible (Ezekiel), vulnerable people unable to escape – including the elderly, disabled, women and children – were subjected to torture, such as strangulation. Church sources say 30 bodies were found in two separate mass graves.

Discovered dead in a well in Sadad were the remains of six members of one family including Matanios El Sheikh, 85, his wife, Habsah, 75, their daughter, Njala, 45, and grandsons Ranim, aged 18, a first-year university student, and his 16-year-old brother Fadi, in class XI at school. Reports state they were thrown down a well on 26th October along with the boys’ paternal grandmother, 90-year-old Mariam. Their funerals, which took place yesterday (Monday, 4th November), came as a community, whose town dates back to 2000BC, begins to grieve the loss of those being described as “martyrs” by Church leaders.

The atrocities took place during a week-long occupation of Sadad by the Al-Nusra Front and Daash, rebel forces who, according to Church leaders, held 1,500 families as “human shields” in a bid to stop Government troops retaking the village. The tragedy in Sadad began on 21st October when rebel forces invaded the town and carried out what Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Homs and Hama, called the “most serious and biggest massacre of Christians” since the conflict began in Syria in March 2011 (Fides – 31/10/13). At least 2,500 families fled with no more than the clothes they were wearing to the likes of Homs, 60 km away, and further afield to Damascus, Al-Fhayle, Maskane, Fayrouza, Zzaydal and elsewhere. Some who escaped travelled 8 km by foot to find shelter.

Those unable to flee Sadad were quickly rounded up by the rebels as part of a bid to fend off counter-attack by forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.

End to the transfer of arms

PatriarcheIn the days that followed at least 30 were wounded and 10 are reported still missing. Accounts from Archbishop Alnemeh and other Church leaders described widespread looting and destruction of shops, homes and government buildings as well as the state hospital, clinic, post office and schools. According to reports, youngsters described receiving taunts and insults against their Christian faith and obscene words were written on church artefacts.

Sadad, where Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ is spoken, has up to 14 churches, one of which, the Syriac Orthodox Church of St. Theodore, which was used by the rebels, who desecrated it. In an interview yesterday (Monday, 4th November) with Aid to the Church in Need, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III (photo)of Damascus described the atrocities in Sadad as “bestial”. Highlighting the murder of the family thrown down the well, Patriarch Gregorios said: “How can somebody do such inhumane and bestial things to an elderly couple and their family? “I do not understand why the world does not raise its voice against such acts of brutality.”

Reiterating his call for an end to the transfer of arms to Syria, especially extremist rebel groups, Patriarch Gregorios said that already the atrocity had instigated another wave of emigration of Christians from Syria. He said that, until now, the faithful had seen Sadad as a safe haven, compared to the likes of Homs where Christian communities had come under attack. Describing the atrocity as “a sign of the rise of fundamentalism and extremism” in the country, he said: “What happened in Sadad is very significant in that it is frightening the Christians into leaving the country.” “I have heard from the parish priest [of Sadad] and the [local] bishop that a number of the people are leaving Syria.”

Journey with ACN – Burkina Faso

01.11.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Burkina Faso, Journey with ACN, TRAINING

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.  This weekly newsletter will an opportunity for us to acquaint you with the needs of the Church and the projects we have realized together in countries around the world.

This week: Burkina Faso

Training of 14 novices

 ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

 

In Burkina Faso – as in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa – the Church is still comparatively young. The first Catholic missionaries came here in the year 1900. This country of Western Africa whose name, translated, means “Land of honourable people” has a population of roughly 16 million, of whom something over 20% are Christians (12% of them Catholics). Roughly half the population are Muslims, while nearly one third still belongs to traditional African religions.

As in many other African countries, there are plenty of new vocations. The women’s congregations in particular enjoy a regular influx of new applicants. Currently there are over 1,400 Catholic religious women serving God and their fellow men in this country, in a variety of different situations. Since Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world, they need a great deal of our help,

Burkina 2 - CopyOne of the congregations that attracts many new vocations is the local community of the Annunciation Sisters (Soeurs de l’Annonciation) found in the second largest city of the country in the southwest,  Bobo-Dioulasso.   Currently there are 14 novices and 15 postulants preparing to take their vows with the congregation and to work serving the Church and their fellow men, above all through catechesis and youth work. The formation house where these young women will spend three years in training is situated nearly 9 kilometers from the city of Bobo-Dioulasso, which is also the centre of the diocese of the same name.

ACN would like to help this young congregation with the training of its 14 novices as it has in previous years – this time with a contribution of $9,000.

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

Think Again: 10 Myths about Egypt’s Second Revolution

30.10.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, Aid to refugees, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Uncategorized

Introduction by Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by AG Griffin, ACN Canada

Copyright Status: Copyright: free with credit to Photographer Copyright notice: © Council of the EU Credit: No commercial use."The Council of the European Union"

Copyright Status:
Copyright: free with credit to Photographer
Copyright notice:
© Council of the EU
Credit:
No commercial use.”The Council of the European Union”

The following is a reference document following  Bishop Kyrillos William Samaan’s visit to the EU institutions in Brussels, a visit supported and organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) (September 17- 19, 2013).

ACN recently received this document from Bishop Kyrillos which he prepared in response to the more common questions posed around the nature of the situation in Egypt, and what could reasonably be expected from the situation.

The following answers he offered to the EU policy-makers  over a month ago, and they have not lost their pertinence.  The bishop referred to these questions as “myths” because he noticed the power and presence they hold in the imaginations of the people he met.  The bishop is now looking forward to dispelling these ‘myths’ and says:  “We must give the Egyptian constitution and the Egyptian people the chance they have been fighting for.”


Msgr Kyrillos William

مطران الكاثوليك الأقباط                                                                                                                    Bishop Coptic Catholic

A reference document following our visit to the EU institutions in Brussels  

1. The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) represents the majority of Egyptians. In Europe we have Christian Democrats – are not the Muslim Brotherhood ‘Muslim Democrats’?

No. The MB, in its political party form, obtained only 12 out of a possible 50 million votes in the elections of 2011. Their rate of support fell sharply to as little as 5% when the Morsi government eliminated a pluralist Parliament and replaced it with one in which they were the absolute majority, was stopped short from replacing 3500 judges by people they knew would uphold Sharia law over the existing more secular laws, and declared illegal the work of foreign-funded pro-democracy and human rights NGOs. The MB, however, has an important detachment of press officers abroad still propagating a message of massive support with little or no bearing on reality in Egypt.

The above short list of exactions bears no comparison to any form of Christian Democracy as known in the West.

2. There are massive, peaceful pro-Morsi demonstrations still taking place and being suppressed.

They are an illusion fuelled by the lack of presence of foreign correspondents outside Cairo. A few hundred supporters still gather intermittently but they have worked with broadcast media owned by well-known Sunni Sheiks, even using images of the anti-Morsi demonstrations labeling them as pro-Morsi.

The demonstrations are not peaceful. Extremists have attacked police stations with rocket-propelled grenades (Kerdasa, Aswan, Menya) killing many policemen. Many MB members are on camera threatening Christians of genocide and raising Al-Qaeda flags in the sit-in areas. Dr. Morsi himself is recorded on video calling the Shia “filth worth only of extermination”. Protestors have also paid families to resist the calls of the police to clear the area or face being expelled.

3. There was a coup and there is now a military government.

It was not a coup, but the military supporting the will of 33+ million Egyptians demonstrating in the streets under the slogan “Food, Freedom, Social Justice and Human Dignity”.

The MB international spokespeople have insisted on isolating two events as if they were disconnected: the elections that brought Morsi to power and his removal from office. There is little mention of what happened in between: the dissolution of the nascent democratic structures such as the pluralist Parliament in favor of the Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly and the single-handed appointment of 13 MB regional leaders (out of 27).

The interim government is not military. It is a civilian government and the army has no intention of taking up power. In February 2011, when Mubarak listened to the people and stood down, he surrendered the government to a military council who proceeded to organize elections and a civilian government was installed. The lesson learnt then is replicated now and the interim government is promising to have a new full government in 9 months, shorter again than the previous transfer of 15 months following Mubarak.  

4. The Tamarod was organized by the military and pressured citizens to sign the petition.

No. Tamarod is a youth movement, which started in May 2013 and the timeline of events demonstrates that the collection of the 22 million signatures (with full identification) started well before the army decided to ask Morsi to listen to the people. The Tamarod set a 30 June deadline for Dr. Morsi to respond to the demands, which included calling for early presidential elections.

5. Egypt had bad elections and a bad Constitution. There is no sign this time that things will be better.

Yes and No. Yes, the elections could have been better; Morsi came to power with 12 million votes in an election with approximately 43% turnout of the 50 million registered voters. Moreover, the multiple claims of fraud taking place outside Cairo had no electoral tribunal for recourse (pre-filled ballots, repeated voter names, etc.). Elections can only be improved with a truly independent electoral body and tribunal. In addition, a controversial move of the MB was to first hold the presidential elections and only afterward address the Constitution. This effectively prevented the majority of Egyptians, not members of the winning political party, to participate in the Constitutional process.

Lessons have been learnt. The new Constitution is now being drafted before elections, the Committee has a clear deadline in November, and it includes 50 Egyptians from all backgrounds, including Salafists and one former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, committed to “the creation of a constitutional Nation State, democratic and modern, founded upon a text approved by the nation supporting the separation of powers. Its current Article 3 defines “citizenship as the sole criterion of responsibility within society” (Source: interview of Mahmoud Azab, counselor for Dialogue to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University,  La Croix 16sept2013).

6. There are waves of arrests against the MB; news media are being harassed.

Most MB members are free to live and participate fully in civil society. Judiciary mandates have been issued against individuals who have incited hatred and violence: committing murder (such as those caught on camera throwing youngsters off a roof in Alexandria), as well as perpetrating acts of violence against Egyptians, victimizing not only Christians but also the majority of Muslims. At the same time, the sources of funding used to buy weapons and explosives are also being investigated – and many lead to the MB. This is the origin of the order to banish the MB’s activities, as the investigation continues. The MB is constituted of several operating arms: political party, NGO, social services providers, etc. making the investigation difficult.

As to the alleged media harassment, the broadcasting and social media units that were closed (seen abroad as news media), are rarely more than the medium of expression of well-known foreign Sheiks financing their own objectives. Al-Jazeera is Qatar-funded, largely like the MB, and in Egypt Al-Jazeera has never pretended to be impartial. Most of these broadcasters have little to do with what the West considers as free and responsible media, necessary to a democratic society. (These are facts and are proved with relative ease). Meanwhile, language barriers also play an important part in the misunderstanding abroad of what goes on in Egypt. Multiplying information sources is still the only way to overcome this challenge.

7. Egyptian society is divided, the process of reconciliation is necessary.

No. There is a small minority of Egyptians, approximately 5%, who might be open supporters of the MB. The other 95% want a modern democratic state with a rule of law based on citizenship not on religious background, gender, age or other potentially discriminating measurements. The MB has declared that the only option for consideration is the reinstatement of Dr. Morsi to power. Contrary to the situation in Libya or Syria, the fabric of Egyptian society remains unified; the present desire is to integrate all parties in a peaceful and inclusive manner without a tyranny of the minority.

8. If it were true the people only wanted change, there was no need for a military coup. We do not do that in the West.

With a simple review on the sequence of events it is evident that it was not a coup but an answer to the voice of 33+ million Egyptians who, disillusioned with the Muslim Brotherhood, again sought democratic change by going to the streets.

Since their narrow win in May 2012, the Morsi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood made a rapid power-grab, eliminating the possibility of participation in political life to Egyptians from other political affiliations. The Islamist-dominated Constitutional Assembly quickly issued new laws voiding existing rules protecting the rights of children and women (pushing to make the legal age for marriage as low as 9 years) and freedom of expression and education (going as far as arresting comedians and teachers expressing opinions contrary to the Sharia). With neither political means nor free media to address their government, Egyptians took to the streets demanding Dr. Morsi to meet with them and discuss the changes they thought urgent. Morsi never opened the door, with the consequences we now know.

Lady Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, informed the European Parliament that she had met with Dr. Morsi before the demonstrations and made it known to him that she “…could feel the antipathy to the Brotherhood and could see the growing numbers of people on the streets…” (Source: EU’s Ashton ready to return to Egypt to ‘support’ not ‘interfere’, Ahram Online, 12sept13) and urged him on behalf of the EU to accept dialogue with the population, but he refused to negotiate.

9. Egypt has no tradition of democracy; this will happen again soon.

Egypt may not as yet have a “tradition of democracy” as we understand in the West, but the interim government and the civil society are giving themselves the means to establish its foundations. As reflected by the popular will and the progress of the interim government, Egypt seeks to be a modern, democratic society based on citizenship as the sole source of rights and responsibilities. Transitions are the same the world over, where the economic situation is oppressive and people are tired, unemployed and hungry. The roadmap of 9 months must succeed, and for this Egypt needs every help it can get, particularly to offer its citizens a ray of hope in both material and educational terms. If the West wants to help us, support the interim government in its hopes to establish a new secular Constitution and to implement the roadmap to Parliamentary and Presidential elections. The greatest challenge to this process, especially with the onset of winter, is a revolution deriving from greater economic hardship and hunger. Where possible, help also in civic education programs led by the civil society organizations such as a one meal per day program for school-going children.

10. But Muslims and Christians will continue their sectarian strife.

No. There is no sectarian strife in Egypt. In some communities Christians have suffered more attacks than in others because they are peaceful and a relatively easy target. The tensions grew out of the beginning of the Morsi regime, but the 14 August violence against Christians, police, firemen, museums, schools, hospitals, etc. in fact created a greater solidarity from the side of the moderate Muslims toward the Christians. Many Muslims in Upper Egypt are now protecting the Christian buildings assuring them of their protection from extremists. The exemplary relationship between Al Azhar – the institution representing the highest Sunni authority in the Islamic world, known also for its university and library – and the Coptic Churches has been described as “the two wings carrying Egypt towards its future” (Source: interview of Mahmoud Azab, counselor for Dialogue to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University,  La Croix 16sept2013).

Copyright Status: Copyright: free with credit to Photographer Copyright notice: © Council of the EU Credit: No commercial use."The Council of the European Union"

Copyright Status:
Copyright: free with credit to Photographer
Copyright notice:
© Council of the EU
Credit:
No commercial use.”The Council of the European Union”

Additional Background

Summer is never a good moment for big news, but it was the moment Egyptian society decided they had enough of the Morsi regime and took to the streets by the millions. Egyptians of all backgrounds had seen the democratic illusion dissolve and their rights wither as soon as the results of the elections were confirmed. Morsi had been elected to office by 12 million people, out of 50 million registered voters, which gave him a clear majority over the other candidates. Egyptians celebrated the advent of the first ever elected government.

Over one year, however, the methodical elimination of normal – albeit incipient – avenues of popular expression such as Parliamentary and Judiciary review, as well as NGO action left citizens without a voice unless they showed their number in the open. A youth movement called Tamarod (Rebellion) collected 22 million signatures from identified signatories in early June 2013 asking the Morsi regime for crucial changes in his administration. As they were ignored, Tamarod called for demonstrations in Cairo and other cities on 30 June, to which an estimated 33 million Egyptians responded. After two days of massive and peaceful demonstrations, the military gave notice to the President of the need to respond within an established deadline. Mr Morsi and his Freedom and Justice Party refused, leading to his arrest and the immediate establishment of an interim, civilian government.

On 3 July 2013 a Roadmap to the next elections was set. Within the next 9 months, a new Constitution would be drafted by a new Constitutional Committee as inclusive as possible, where also the Muslim Brotherhood as such (not as political party) were invited. The MB rejected both the Roadmap and the invitation, calling as a condition the return of Mr Morsi to the Presidency.

The new Constitution would pave the way for the election of the new Parliament and then of a new President. Meanwhile, some supporters of the deposed government took to the streets as well, and organized sit-ins in squares.

The sit-ins were tolerated for several weeks until the security forces informed them that there would soon be a clearing of the area, inviting them to leave, using loudspeakers and walking through the crowds. Many did, but others defied the orders. On 14 August in the morning, the security forces entered the squares, and they were met with sniper fire from the nearby buildings, which unleashed a violent confrontation leaving and estimated 638 dead, 43 of them policemen.

Simultaneously, however, in several cities in Egypt, far from the eyes of the diplomatic and foreign media corps, a coordinated armed attack on government, cultural and Christian buildings was deployed. Museums were ransacked; police and fire stations were set ablaze, as well as churches, hospitals and schools. Muslim populations moved to protect the Christians forming human chains around their houses and churches, thus in fact unifying the moderate Muslim majority and the Christian community in their desire for a stable society worthy of the sacrifices made for democratic change.

PRESS RELEASE: Egypt – “It isn’t a religious conflict”

28.10.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, egypt

 Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

Montreal, October 28, 2013 – After an attack on Christians in Cairo Father Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, secretary to the Coptic-Catholic Patriarch, rejected the view that Egypt was experiencing a religious conflict. “The idea that this involves a conflict between Muslims and Christians simply isn’t borne out by the reality. It’s not only Christians who are being attacked, but also state institutions,” the cleric stressed to the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need”. On Sunday, 20 October, unknown persons had fired at Coptic wedding guests and killed four people.

ACN-20131016-01802In Father Hani’s own words: “The attackers want to provoke us Christians into calling for western intervention, for instance from the USA or European countries. This would internationalize the conflict and disrupt national unity. On the other hand, their goal is to embroil the Christians in a civil war. But this tactic won’t work. We Christians have shown that we are genuine Egyptians.” The root of the problem, he continued, was that fundamentalists had no intention of respecting the wish of the majority of Egyptians for a civil and democratic state.

Three stages for overcoming the crisis

After the latest attack the Muslim Brotherhood had expressed their sympathy. Father Hani couldn’t judge whether this was honestly meant, “but I can say that during the rule of the Muslim Brothers many terrorists entered the country. We are now suffering from the consequences of their government.”

He went on to say that Sinai was full of terrorists. They were now active throughout the country. When asked whether the security forces were doing enough to protect the Christians, Father Hani said: “Police are stationed in front of many churches. But the terrorists mostly strike completely unexpectedly. This is a terrorist problem that affects all Egyptians equally, not only the Christians. Egypt is conducting a war on terrorism.”

According to Father Hani, Egypt can only overcome the present crisis following the deposition of President Morsi in three stages: “Firstly we need a new constitution and elections for the presidency and parliament. Secondly, the terrorist elements destabilising the country must be eliminated, and criminals must be punished. And thirdly there must be a genuine conciliation between all groups in Egypt. For this purpose the Muslim Brothers must put the interests of Egypt before their own. Only in this way will we be able to achieve a genuinely democratic and civil state.

Press Release : A hindered return of child soldiers to Uganda

22.10.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Central Africa, Uganda

© ACN

By Eva-Maria Kollman, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

The situation in Central African Republic hinders the return of Ugandan child soldiers

Montreal, October 22, 2013 – Following the coup in the Central African Republic, it has become more difficult for Ugandan child soldiers abducted to that country to return to their homes. Msgr Cosmas Alule, rector of the national seminary of Alokolum (Northern Uganda), spoke of this deplorable situation to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

In the past, child soldiers who were abducted by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during the civil war in Uganda and taken to the Central African Republic and held there were able to flee to the Ugandan soldiers who were stationed there, Msgr. Alule explained. But now the new government of the Central African Republic, which emerged from the Séléka rebel alliance and came to power through a coup on 24 March of this year, has “much sympathy for the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony,” and has expelled the Ugandan troops, he said. The situation in Uganda itself has improved and “the people there no longer live in fear,” but the LRA is still “very active” in the Central African Republic and Sudan, and causes problems there, according to Alule. The seminary of which he is rector is situated in a region of the country that was badly affected by the civil war between 1988 and 2008.

20100715_021

On May 11, 2003, the minor seminary in the Diocese of Gulu, where the seminary of Alokolum is also located, was attacked by LRA rebels and 41 seminarians were taken away. There is still no trace of twelve of the young men who were abducted. But “there is still hope that some of the former child soldiers will return,” Alule declared.

 

During the 20-year civil war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government, more than 30,000 children and young people in Northern Uganda were abducted by the LRA rebels. The LRA, which was founded in Uganda in 1987 under the leadership of Joseph Kony and has now been largely driven out of that country, is active today especially in Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

 

 

 

 

One Million Children Praying the Rosary

18.10.2013 in ACN Canada, Rosary, Uncategorized

New Picture (4)Montreal, Friday, October 18, 2013 – In 2005, an idea was born in Caracas to invite one million children around the world to unite in prayer on behalf of Unity, and of Peace through the intercession and protection of Mary, the Mother of God.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada is uniting with the National Council of Laity (Venezuela) in inviting everyone to realize this dream of gathering one million children to pray.  The intention is to inspire children in their very hearts to understand the need for prayers for peace within everyone, as well as prayers for unity and peace in families, countries and prayers for the whole world.

New Picture (5)To fulfill this dream, no one needs to move around, or incur any cost whatsoever.  To fulfill this dream consists simply of praying the rosary on October 18 at  9 a.m., wherever children may be:  home, school, kindergarten, paediatric hospitals… or elsewhere.

 Imagine then…

Have you ever listened to the rustling of the leaves in a forest populated by thousands of trees on a windy day… listened to a river running down a mountain side on summer’s eve… or have you listened to the silence in the middle of a crowd in contemplation during the wake of someone dear?

New Picture (3)                      Imagine then…

Imagine hearing…

                       One Million Children

                                              …  Praying all at once.

From Cuba to Sri Lanka    From Mali to ’Australia

From Congo to Monaco      From Lebanon to Pakistan

Imagine again…               Imagine hearing           

 A million children           

Praying all at once         For Jesus and for Mary

In their classes or fast asleep

without moving and without a fee

For Love and for Peace 

     

New Picture (2) Listen then…                    And listen again   …        

These, One Million Children

Praying all at once…      

Innumerable testimonials received after the prayer campaign in early years have shown, in Venezuela and elsewhere, the great joy with which thousands of children have accepted this invitation.  Join with us and bring a child by the hand…

 

Journey with ACN – Pakistan

11.10.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Pakistan, Persecution of Christians, Rosary, Shahbaz Bhatti, Uncategorized

Shahbaz Bhatti« If in the struggle to defend the rights of minorities and justice for oppressed people –if Jesus Christ wishes me to shed my blood, I will do it!  I am ready to go until the last drop to fight injustice. And I’m not frightened.”  

Shahbaz Bhatti was the former Minister for Religious Minorities in Pakistan; he was assassinated at the age of 42,on March 2, 2011. 

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.  This weekly newsletter will an opportunity for us to acquaint you with the needs of the Church and the projects we have realized together in countries around the world.

This week: Pakistan

 

Help for the printing of 30,000 copies of a booklet on the Rosary in Urdu 

pakistan1There are over 1.2 million Catholics living in Pakistan today. Compared with a Muslim population of over 180 million, they are no more than a tiny minority, however, and into the bargain they are socially marginalised, oppressed, and often the victims of violent assaults. But despite this, the people’s faith is strong.

A crucial aspect of this faith is the veneration of Our Lady, the Mother of God. Almost every church in the country has a chapel or grotto dedicated to Mary, where many of the faithful go to pray after Holy Mass. Indeed, Mary is also venerated by many Muslims. Although women in Pakistan can undoubtedly be seen as oppressed in many ways, within the home environment the mother figure is still highly regarded. As one Pakistani proverb has it, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of the mother”. Or, as Father Emmanuel Parvez, of Pansara in the diocese of Faisalabad puts it, “Mary, as a mother figure, is nurturing, caring, loving.” He continues: “Everyone comes to Our Lady, especially those who are sad or sick, or who have problems. Many childless women come to her, asking to be able at last to become mothers. Others bring their little children and lay them at Mary’s feet, asking her: “Care for my child, just as you cared for the Child Jesus!”

pakistan2Now, in the Year of Faith, the bishops of Pakistan wants to strengthen the prayer of the Rosary in every diocese of the country. As a result,they have asked ACN to help for the printing of 30,000 copies of an illustrated prayer booklet – simply entitled “The Rosary” – in Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. They are confident that this will help and encourage the Catholic faithful to pray the Rosary in their parishes and in their homes. ACN is helping with $12,026 towards the cost of printing this booklet.

 

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free
1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

Press Release: 600 ACN benefactors, friends and staff make pilgrimage to Rome

30.09.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Father Werenfried van Straaten
© ACN

© ACN

ACN, Montreal, September 30, 2013 –  On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth year of Father Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international Catholic pastoral charity has organized a pilgrimage to Rome. Six hundred benefactors, friends and staff from around the world will travel to Italy’s capital city from October 1st to the 5th.

On October 2nd, Pope Francis will welcome the participants in a General Audience. Meetings with Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and with Mons. Hon Tai-Fai Savio, Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, are also planned.

Father Werenfried van Straaten was born on  January 17, 1913, in Mijdrecht near Amsterdam (Netherlands). In 1934 he entered the Flemish Norbertine abbey of Tongerlo (Belgium). At Christmas 1947, concerned about the suffering of the 14 million refugees in post-war Germany, including some six million Catholics, he wrote in his abbey’s magazine calling for help for the Germans expelled from the East. This set a wave of aid in motion that led to the founding of “Kirche in Not/Ostpriesterhilfe”. In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI granted the charity the status of a Pontifical Foundation.

Syrian refugees – “The prospects for Lebanon are somber”

27.09.2013 in ACN Canada, Aid to refugees, Syria

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

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The American threats to attack Syria have led temporarily to a rise in the numbers of refugees in Lebanon, as the President of the Lebanese organisation Caritas, Monsignore Simon Faddoul, explained to the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need”. He said on Friday: “Now that the military strike has not materialized after all, the number of refugees has returned to its original level.”

The Lebanese government, Faddoul continued, estimated the number of Syrians in Lebanon as about 1.4 million. Of these, 1.1 million were refugees, and the rest had already been in the country when hostilities broke out. “If it comes to the decisive battle for Damascus there will be a refugee disaster,” is Faddoul’s great concern.

The large number of refugees in Lebanon were already having a destabilizing effect in the country. “The latest report of the World Bank showed what a disastrous effect the Syrian war was having on Lebanese society, security and economy,” the Caritas head stressed. According to the most recent estimates by the World Bank, the loss suffered by the Lebanese economy due to the conflict will amount to 7.5 billion US dollars by the end of the coming year. On top of this, Faddoul lamented, there were the social and security problems. “In this respect the future is a somber one.”

This priest of the Maronite Church stressed, however, that the number of those refugees who refused to register with the United Nations had fallen “considerably”. “Many have recognized that registration is the only way to obtain medical aid. Whereas previously 40 per cent failed to register, the figure is now 20 per cent”, according to Faddoul.

Women and children forced to beg or into prostitution

His organisation had to date been caring for about 125,000 refugees in the whole country with the support of “Aid to the Church in Need”. About 10,000 of these were Christians and the remainder Muslims. Faddoul was worried about the approach of winter. “We need everything: blankets, heating oil, clothing, food, hygiene articles, financial assistance for housing and so on. Our resources are never enough. But we are doing our best with what we can get.”

Sister Georgette Tannoury from the Community of the Good Shepherd (Bon Pasteur) also expressed her concern to “Aid to the Church in Need” in view of the destabilising effects of the Syrian conflict. She heads a walk-in clinic for refugees in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. The clinic looks after more than 150 Syrians daily, mostly women and children. “Aid to the Church in Need” supports her humanitarian work.

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“The number of Syrians is very large,” according to Sister Georgette. “Children fill the streets and run between the cars begging. We’ve never experienced so many robberies and other crimes in the country as in the present year. The result is increasing frustration in Lebanon in the face of the many refugees. One lady reported to me that she was afraid of sending her daughter out onto the street to do the shopping.”

Unlike in Jordan, for example, Lebanon has no reception camps and so the refugees are spread throughout the country. “They often live in garages. Families who lived in large houses in Syria suddenly find themselves in a room with 15 other people. Their children reject this and prefer to live on the streets.”

The hardship, according to Sister Georgette, often forces people to take desperate measures.  “One woman told me that her husband had forced her into prostitution to feed the family. Another father had sold his 13-year-old daughter to a 60-year-old man to get money. I hear stories like these all day long. May God take pity on his people. I thank “Aid to the Church in Need” for their support. We will continue to help the poorest of the poor.”