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ACN Canada

 

ACN Project of the Week: Formation for young sisters in Brazil

01.11.2018 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Brazil, FORMATION, South America

Brazil

Help for the formation of 50 young religious Sisters

 

It was only 30 years ago that the religious Institute the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà was founded in Argentina. Yet since then it has spread throughout the world, with 160 convents in 35 different countries on all five continents around the globe – such is the measure of its success to date. 

 

A particular feature of the Institute is its love for the Eucharist, the Mother of God and the Holy Father. The apostolate of the sisters covers a wide field – helping the priests in the parishes, giving retreats and catechetical instruction, teaching in schools, working in the youth apostolate. They also give selfless service in orphanages, homes, old people‘s homes for disabled children and hospitals. Some of the sisters also support expectant mothers in conflict situations, helping them to bring their children safely into the world. A number of them are also involved in the publication of theological books and literature.

The Institute continues to attract many new vocations, particularly in Brazil. Here, the birthplace of the samba, there are 50 young women currently in formation. They need our support so that they can receive a sound and solid training for the religious life and apostolate they will be engaged in. We have promised to help this year with a contribution of $17,145.

 

Thank you!

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN News – Asia Bibi is Free!

31.10.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN United Kingdom, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By John Newton and John Pontifex

 

Pakistan

Asia Bibi’s family thanks God for her acquittal

Asia daughter says “I can’t wait to hug my mother”

Asia Bibi’s husband and daughter have today described news of her acquittal as the “most wonderful moment” of their lives – and thanked God for answering their prayers.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court this morning (Wednesday, 31st October) overturned the death sentence hanging over the Catholic labourer from Punjab who in 2010 became the first woman in the country condemned to death for blasphemy.

Asia Bibi’s daughter, Eisham Ashiq, 18, “I am so happy. I want to thank God.”

Speaking within a few minutes of the announcement today, Asia Bibi’s daughter, Eisham Ashiq, 18, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need: “I am so happy. I want to thank God.

And, speaking through an interpreter, she told the charity for persecuted Christians: “This is the most wonderful moment. I can’t wait to hug my mother and then celebrate with my family. I am grateful to God for listening to our prayers.”

Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, said: “We are very happy. This is wonderful news.

“We thank God very much that he’s heard our prayers – and the prayers of so many people who have longed for Asia Bibi’s release over all these years of suffering and anguish.”

Close family friend Joseph Nadeem said that on hearing the news the family immediately “danced for joy”. He added: “There were many tears – tears of indescribable joy.”

National Director for the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need reacted with ” It is a very emotional day for me.  I am really very, very happy about her liberation.  It is a great day for justice and it gives us hope.” Now that she is free, her greatest concern is her exit from the country.  “She cannot stay in the country.  I hope that everything has been well planned for her security, and also that of the judges,” in acquitting Asia Bibi in the face of fierce opposition from Islamist protesters.

And Father Emmanuel Yousaf, National Director of Pakistan’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, which supports people accused of blasphemy with support from organizations including ACN, said: “I am glad that justice has finally been served.

“In the current developing situation and protests by extremist groups, May Our Lord bless and protect Asia and her family and keep all our Christian brothers and sisters safe here in Pakistan.”

The Supreme Court’s decision today overturns the 2010 sentence Asia Bibi received for insulting the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, a crime punishable by death according to Article 295C of Pakistan’s Penal code – part of the so-called Blasphemy Laws. The charge was brought against her following an altercation with Muslim co-workers who said that, as a Christian, she had contaminated a common water cup by drinking from it.

Throughout, Asia Bibi has protested her innocence and on 8th October the case had its final hearing at Pakistan’s Supreme Court in the capital, Islamabad.

“Thank you to all our benefactors who are have prayed for her over the years, this day remains one of the happy days for me!” concluded Mrs. Lalonde

 

For any information, please contact Amanda Griffin , 514-932-0552 ext. 221, or Mario Bard at ext. 224

National Director of ACN Canada, Marie-Claude Lalonde is available for interviews, please contact her at ext. 223.

 

ACN Interview: Bishop Oswaldo Azaje from Venezuela

25.10.2018 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Raquel Martín & Josué Villalón, Poverty, Refugees, Venezuela

Msgr. Oswaldo Azuaje, Bishop of Trujillo in Venezuela, during his visit at Aid to the Church in Need

Venezuela

A cry for help

According to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and other international organizations, more than two million people have left Venezuela in the last few years. This forced displacement reflects the severe economic, political and social crisis that has befallen the country. The church in Venezuela is dealing with this situation together with the people by initiating social projects to relieve shortages in food and medicines. But the Church’s own situation can only be described as precarious – the bishops and priests themselves have next to nothing at the moment.

 Interview with Bishop Oswaldo Azaje , conducted by Raquel Martín & Josué Villalón (ACN Spain)

Bishop Oswaldo Azuaje of Trujillo, which is located in the eastern part of Venezuela, responded to the questions of the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The charity has been supporting the Venezuelan church in its pastoral and social work. The interview focused on the recent ad limina visit of the Venezuelan episcopate to the pope in Rome as well as the church’s efforts to help those who have left the country and those in need who have remained.

 

In Venezuela, the diocese of Trujillo is one of the poorest regions in the country. How would you describe the situation at the moment?

Economically, Trujillo is one of the country’s poorest regions. It is located in the Andes, in a mountainous region that is predominantly rural. However, I would not describe the region as poor because it possesses great riches both in terms of culture and of the people living there. Daily life there is very similar to that in the rest of the country. We are suffering from shortages in food and medicines, many people have moved to other countries, the economy is stagnating. It could be that, when compared with the capital and a number of other larger cities in the country, the food shortage is more noticeable in the villages.

 

What message did Pope Francis give to the bishops and the Venezuelan people during the ad limina visit at the Vatican?

The pope was very open and friendly. We are quite fortunate that he comes from the same continent and we speak the same language. Pope Francis sat down right in our midst. We formed a circle around him and he said to us, “Tell me how you are doing.” We noticed that he knows a great deal about the church in Venezuela, what life is like in the country and the difficulties society is currently facing. He pointed out that we should be very close to the people, that we need to find answers to their needs. He reminded us, “Remain strong and close to the people. I know that you are already doing this, but I invite you to continue to do so.” He also invited us to offer resistance. This was the first time I have heard the term used in this context. Because it had nothing to do with politics, populism or with a military language. We are to offer resistance by remaining constant in our faith, in our hope and in our love.

 

 

How does the Church assist those people who are leaving the country?

I was able to visit the Columbian border in Táchira state. The diocese of San Cristóbal on the Venezuelan side and the diocese of Cúcuta on the Columbian side are making large-scale efforts. I mingled with the people who were crossing the border to Columbia. It is impressive: each day, thousands of people leave. Each day, the church feeds between 5,000 and 8,000 people, although these are just estimates of the numbers of people who are being taken care of by the church alone. Some do return, but not many. Those that return are people who, due to the shortages in Venezuela; were merely looking for something available only in Columbia. Once they have acquired it, they return home. Furthermore, the Church is also taking care of Venezuelan refugees in Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.

Border Venezuela-Colombia in 2018
Since the recent controversial presidential elections in Venezuela (in which President Maduro was re-elected in a manner deemed fraudulent by his opponents), the flood of migrants seeking better prospects in other nations has continued to grow, creating an emergency in which thousands of Venezuelans are in need of help as they attempt to cross the frontier between Venezuela and Colombia.

What are the consequences of this displacement?

In the parishes, there is a noticeable absence of young and middle-aged people. There is a growing incidence of Church attendance by older people accompanying their grandchildren. The parents have left in search of work. Several priests have told me that they no longer have a church choir because the young people have all left. They now have to find new choir members who can sing or play an instrument and train them. The people are being forced into leaving because of the extreme shortages in food and medicines. The people need them. However, they cannot find them in the country or buy them because money has devalued.

 

How is the Church responding to the needs of those people who have remained in the country?

In response to the food shortages, the parishes are preparing so-called “community stews” each day to ensure that those in need have something to eat. Signs of malnutrition are found among children, and also the elderly. My sister called me a few days ago. She is taking care of my mother and wanted to let me know that she could not find any chicken, eggs or meat. She did not know where else to go because she could not buy them in any store. Finding groceries is a very time-consuming process – if it is even possible at all. The daily search for food has become a Via Dolorosa.

 

How would you assess the aid that ACN is giving to the priests in your diocese?

I would first like to thank the Venezuelan people; all of those who have shared and continue to share the little that they have with us. Lately, however, we have become dependent upon help from outside. Life would be impossible without it. I would like to thank the church in Europe, particularly in Germany, Italy and Spain. It supports us so that we in turn can help our priests: Mass stipends allow them to live in a manner that is worthy of human beings. Moreover, this aid keeps us connected through prayer, and ensures that we do not lose hope. I pray to God for saintly priests, but also that these priests are able to support themselves in a worthy manner, so that they can serve the people of God and can live more in conformity with their calling.

Children waiting for food

A last message to the benefactors of ACN

Thanks to all of you, our parishes will be able to continue to offer consolation and shed light into the darkness that casts such a pall over Venezuela. The shortages in food and medicines, in water and electricity are a major source of stress, one that we need to fight against. Please pray for the bishops so that we do not succumb to temptation and throw in the towel. It is our responsibility to help the people by supporting the priests. Please continue to help us so that we in turn can ensure that our priests have a worthy means of subsistence, and thus be able to continue offering the community stews as well as medicines and other forms of aid.

 

 

 

ACN Project of the Week in Bangladesh

24.10.2018 in Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Project of the Week

Bangladesh

Success Story: a church and community centre for the parish

The Catholic faithful in the parish of Nayanagar are delighted with their new church and parish centre, which – thanks to the generous help of our benefactors – this project which Catholics have dreamt of for years, and also organized collections for, despite their great poverty has finally been completed! It was not much, of course, but it was like the “widows mite,” as their parish priest writes. With the help of our benefactors, we were able to give a total of $120,800 and so finally enable them to realize their dream.

Sunday Mass sees anywhere from 3,000 and 3,500 people attending, high celebrations and holy days such as Christmas and Easter draw many more and even the weekday Masses are always well attended as well as religious instruction courses and a range of different children‘s and youth groups.

Help to complete the church community hall at De Mazenod Parish, Nayanagar, Dhaka

Located right at the heart of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, the parish continues to grow and grow as more people move to the regional capital (already 8 to 9 million inhabitants) from the surrounding rural areas in the hope of finding a better future.

The priests of the not only provide pastoral support for the faithful but also help the new rural migrants to find their feet in the city, ensuring that their children can attend school by providing medical care and supporting them in all their many needs.

 

In Bangladesh, Catholics represent only a tiny minority in a population that is 90% Muslim.  The faithful of the parish of Nayanagar are 80% indigenous, a number that well represents the total Christian presence in Bangladesh who coming from an ethnic minority. It is from this demographic that most of the new vocations come.

 

Father Ajit Victor Costa, the provincial delegate of the Oblate Fathers, has written to ACN on behalf of his confreres and of the Catholic faithful generally. “We sincerely appreciate the value of your love, your friendship and your warm-hearted kindness. Your prayers, sacrifices and financial support have been an enormous help to us in fulfilling our dream. Through you and together with you we have been deeply touched by the presence of the loving hands of God and your own wonderful generosity. We pray for all your benefactors and for all who have contributed.”

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN Editorial: A Summit for Pope Francis and Kim Jong-Un?

19.10.2018 in ACN PRESS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Johannes Klausa, South Korea

Korea

Italy, Rome 29.09.2017 Johannes Klausa (Director of ACN South Korea)at St. Peter Square in Rome

A Summit for Pope Francis and Kim Jong-Un?

Editorial by Johannes Klausa, National Director of ACN Korea

Last year in October, US President Donald Trump tweeted out to the world: “being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it now?” Just months before he had called North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un “little rocket man” and threatened him with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

One year later, the tone on the Korean peninsula changed completely. The two Korean leaders have met three times after a peace- and charm offensive before and during the Olympic Winter Games paving the way for summits, family reunions, as well as a considerable amount of political and cultural exchange. Donald Trump also held a summit with Kim, now publicly praising his personality, calling him “very talented,” “a smart cookie,” and said he wants to see him again after the elections.

A rare glimpse of North Korea by a foreign delegation

The latest development in this almost theatrical performance: Kim Jong-Un reportedly would “enthusiastically” welcome the Holy Father, if he would be willing to visit Pyeongyang. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is en route to the Vatican next week, carrying in his briefcase an invitation for the Pontiff.

All this is a good reason to get excited, but not for everyone in Korea to applaud enthusiastically.
Although a majority of Koreans, especially the younger generation, seems euphoric about this prospect, there are voices heard, which would not welcome the Holy Father’s visit to the North. Many question the true motives and willingness of the “Young Marshal” to break with the politics of his father and grandfather. They doubt he would give up his nuclear arsenal and lead his country towards peace and reconciliation.

North Korea

For them, a Papal visit to Pyeongyang would look as if the Catholic Church would forgive crimes against humanity as well as the persecution of Christians even before the perpetrators have been brought to justice. Crimes have undoubtedly been committed by the brutal Kim dictatorship in the past. The Catholic Church, in the eyes of the critics, should be the advocate of the regime’s victims and denounce its crimes, rather than helping Kim to polish his negative image and offering a stepping-stone onto the world-stage and into the presidential palaces of the international community.
However, until now, nothing substantial has happened. The Vatican has not accepted the invitation. Neither is it the first time that Pyongyang called for a Papal visit. During the period of political rapprochement and the so-called “sunshine-policy” of former president Kim Dae-jung at the beginning of the new Millennium, Pope John Paul II was also invited to visit the DPRK. But the Holy Father did not accept.

Pope Francis at the Wednesday audience on St. Peter’s Place in Vatican City (Rome, Italy) during the ACN pilgrimage to Rome in Octobre 2013.

If Pope Francis should take the decision to travel to Pyeongyang, he would not do so naively. He could demand concessions, such as the acceptance of a permanent presence of priests in North Korea. Or, he could promise to come after “verifiable and irreversible” progress in other fields.
Should he accept the invitation, this would certainly not happen without a previous series of unofficial contacts and negotiations. The president of the Korean Bishop’s Conference and other religious leaders were also part of the delegation that personally met Kim Jong-un last month. Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong has already been to Pyeongyang with a delegation of South Korean bishops and priests a few years ago and was appointed presidential “special envoy to the Vatican” by South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who is himself a devout Catholic. Therefore, all critics can rest assured the Holy Father will take an elaborate and well-informed decision.

The Archbishop of Seoul and president of ACN Korea, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, who is also Apostolic Administrator of Pyeongyang, recently said he was “waiting for the day” when he could send missionaries, priests as well as monks and nuns to North Korea, so that he could celebrate the sacraments together with them. He continued: “I knew that Pope Francis has a lot of concern for peace on the Korea Peninsula and that he prayed several times for us. So, I want all these efforts to work like a trigger for a ‘self-priming pump’ for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

“When the groundwork is done, the Pope can go”, Bishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, another Korean bishop close to the Holy Father is quoted. The Holy Father’s visit would be a “gigantic step, a qualitative step for the Korean peninsula, for its pacification,” he said.

Catholics, regardless of their political views, should always trust that Our Lord will also watch carefully over these developments. Let us pray that – should Pope Francis make a historic journey to Pyongyang – will hold not only bilateral talks with Kim Jong-un but a trilateral summit led by the Holy Spirit. And that the Holy Spirit will guide the way to peace and stability in Korea and beyond.

ACN Project of the Week: Help for training young religious women in India

17.10.2018 in ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Asia, Catholic Religious Sisters, India

India

Help for training young religious women

In Northeast India, the Catholic Church is still, relatively, young. In 2016, she celebrated 120 years of ministry in the country. However, in many parts of this region Catholic missionaries were only able to enter the region during the second half of the 20th century.

An isolated and underdeveloped region, marked by political unrest and conflicts, deep poverty and many other problems. However, the Church here is very much alive and vital. By now, there are almost 2 million Catholics inhabiting the region and the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is growing.

Junior Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod of North-East Delegation, Guwahati (2015 – 2017 )

 

The Sisters of the Cross of Chavanod have been working in Northeast India for 37 years and recently established a new regional province for the congregation in the city of Guwahati, in the state of Assam. The congregation has 18 convents housing 96 professed Sisters who care in particular for physically and mentally disabled children and for the sick. They also help young girls from poor family backgrounds who are unable to stay in school, teaching them useful practical skills such as needlework, sewing and darning, or making handmade decorations, that may help them later on to support themselves financially.

Nursing Student Sisters. Borgaon, district in Assam.

 

They help families and women, giving encouragement, counselling – striving to convey the love of God for all through their lives. Because the Church in this region is still relatively young, there is a great deal still to be done.

At present, there are 28 religious Sisters still in formation. Like most of the Catholics in this region, they also come from poor families and from the ethnic minorities. This congregation needs financial help in order to be able to provide them with a solid spiritual and vocational formation. Some will even pursue university studies to help them better confront the many challenges they face.

ACN is proposing a contribution of $25,368 to help them plant the seeds of faith that they become deeply rooted in people’s hearts and souls.

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting religious Sisters? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate and select ‘Project of the Week’.

 

ACN Feature Story from Syria – The new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians

12.10.2018 in ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Josué Villalón

Syria

The new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians

 

Emergency support in the Valley of Christians, Marmarita, Governorate of Homs. Medication prescriptions and renting houses.December 2015 – May 2016

Working through the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, the international Catholic pastoral and pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), is helping thousands of displaced Syrians each month.

 

Nasra is one of the 20 or more villages belonging to the region known as the Valley of the Christians (Wadi Al-Nasara, in Arabic). The word Nasra literally means “Nazarene”, the word used throughout the Arab and Muslim world to refer to Christians. For several years now around a hundred refugee families have been living in this little village, having fled here from other parts of Syria to escape the war. The Mussa family is just one of these families, the new “Nazarenes” of the Valley of the Christians.

 

Marwan Mussa is the father of the family. “We were forced to flee from Homs, where we were living, because the bombing was getting closer and closer to our quarter of the city. The noise of the bombing and the shelling was shattering. We did not know whether from one day to the next we would die in these attacks, as had already happened to some of our neighbours,” he explains. And so, they decided to leave for the Valley of the Christians which was just an hour’s drive away and where things were safer. They managed to find a small apartment where they could live for the time being until the fighting ended.

 

Nahila, Gabi and Marwan Mussa

However, the war continued and the Mussa family have now been living in Nasra for over five years. “I used to work as a bricklayer, but now I am helping in a bakery, although I do not earn enough to support us all,” Marwan adds. His family is one of the more than 350 receiving support from the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in the Melkite Catholic parish of Saint Peter’s in the nearby village of Marmarita. “The Church has literally saved our lives, if it were not for the Church we wouldn’t be here.”

 

One day, nine months earlier, Marwan was working in an orchard near his house when he suddenly collapsed, unconscious. His son Gabi managed to pick him up and take him to the health centre in the village. From there they took him to the hospital in Tartus, on the coast, more than an hour away by car. “I felt an intense pain in my chest,” Marwan explains to a visiting group from ACN. The diagnosis was a serious one: he had had a severe heart attack. However, they were unable to treat him in the hospital in Tartus, so they sent him to a hospital in Homs, another two hours round trip.

 

“The doctors told me it was a miracle I had survived the operation, since my arteries were 90% obstructed. They inserted stents, and now I feel quite well, although I have to be careful not to over exert myself.”Marwan is continuing his treatment and regularly goes for checkups to Mzeina Hospital, also located in the Valley of the Christians.

 

“My wife, Nahila, is also undergoing treatment there for cancer,” says Marwan. All the medication and the medical care she receives are being supplied by ACN, via the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita. “We are extremely grateful for this help. We knew that many people from different countries were sending help for the centre here. We also want to thank the team of volunteers at Saint Peter’s for accompanying and helping us in our most urgent need,” he adds.

 

Syria, Marmarita, January 2016 In the pharmacy collecting the medicine and stamping the prescriptions of those in need.

Nahila Murad, his wife and the mother of their family, has a gaze of crystalline clarity. She nods in agreement with every word spoken by her husband. “I have bowel cancer. They are helping us to pay for my treatment. When the doctors discovered my tumor they didn’t hold out much hope for me. But I am a woman of strong faith and so I told them to go ahead and operate on me, and now I am feeling better.” They both assured us that they do not know how to thank ACN for the 130 dollars they receive each month to pay for their medication and consultations.

The faith of these true “Nazarenes” is apparent. Nahila tells us how the worst moment they experienced was when they told her that her other son Dani was missing. “We had to get through two years without hearing anything about him. We thought he must have been killed on the front. But then a month ago he came to see us and it was like a fresh miracle of God here in our house.” Dani told them that he had always kept a small Bible close by, from which he read a passage every day. “He never departed from the Word of God, and now we know that the Lord did not abandon him either,” she explains.

 

Through the intermediary of the Saint Peter’s Aid Centre in Marmarita, the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) provides monthly help to hundreds of displaced Christian families throughout the region of the Valley of the Christians in western Syria, close to the Lebanese border. The monthly aid of 50,000 dollars provided by the charity helps to cover the cost of surgical operations, medication and other forms of medical treatment and aid, including examinations, wheelchairs and spectacles.

 

Emergency Financial Support in the Valley of Christians: Health Care – July/December 2018 286.800 € ($433,068 CAN)

 

 

ACN Project of the Week – Bible for children in Tzeltal language

10.10.2018 in ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, ACN Publications, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Mexico

Success Story in Mexico!

 30,000 Child‘s Bibles in the indigenous Tzeltal language

For close to 30 years, this little red book has spread the Good News to every far-off corner of the world. The ACN Child‘s Bible, God Speaks to His Children has been published in nearly 190 different world languages making close to 51 million copies of the book in print.

ACN founder Father Werenfried van Straaten, understood well that “Children need something like a Child‘s Bible so that the image of Christ may become a living one in their hearts. And, they will be gripped by the Old Testament stories of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David. Yet for so many children in the Third World the Bible is something they can only dream of, for they are so poor that they cannot afford a book.” And so he decided to make a gift of a Child‘s Bible to children throughout the world.

Even in today’s world, the ACN Child‘s Bible is still the one and only book in print available for some of the less widely spoken languages.

Fr. Josè Avilés Arriola, SJ, visiting a community in his parish of Bachajon, where the Jesuit fathers established a mission in 1958.

Now, the Jesuit Fathers working in the diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas in southern Mexico have translated this little book into the local indigenous Tzeltal, a language spoken by half a million or so people in this region. For most of these people, Spanish is their first foreign language; some speak only their native tongue.

Thanks to our generous benefactors, we have been able to give $27,000 for the printing of 30,000 Child‘s Bibles in the Tzeltal language. Thanks to your help, the children in this region can become acquainted with the Word of God in their own mother tongue – an incalculable treasure for them. Many, many thanks to all who have helped!

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting the Child’s Bible? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click to donate.

ACN News – Pakistan: Acquittal could be close for Asia Bibi, says family

09.10.2018 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN NEWS, ACN PRESS, ACN United Kingdom, By John Newton, By John Pontifex and John Newton, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Pakistan, Persecution of Christians

Pakistan

Asia Bibi: acquittal could be close, says family

 

The family of a Christian woman fighting a death sentence in Pakistan believe the country’s Supreme Court may be on the verge of announcing her acquittal.

 

The court yesterday (Monday, 8th October) referred judgement in the final hearing in the case of Asia Bibi, whose conviction for blasphemy is on appeal.

Speaking on behalf of Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih and daughter, Eisham Ashiq, Father Emmanuel Yousaf said the Supreme Court’s decision could be announced within a few days.

Father Yousaf, who is with Eisham and Ashiq Masih in the UK for events organized by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, said: “Although the judges didn’t give a judgement, this has happened in many cases of this kind in the past – and they still ended positively.”We will have to wait a few days but we are confident that things will go well.”

Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother of five, in 2010 became the first woman in Pakistan to be sentenced to death for blasphemy. During yesterday’s final hearing of the case in the Supreme Court, there was a protest outside, calling for the death sentence to be upheld but proceedings ended with a verdict still pending.

Fr. Yousaf said: “There is no decision – we are hanging in the air – but God willing it will soon be over an

d [Asia Bibi] will be back home with the family.”

Throughout proceedings, Asia Bibi has insisted that she did not insult the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, which carries the death sentence under Section 295 C of Pakistan’s Penal Code.

Renewing calls for prayers for Asia Bibi’s release, Fr Yousaf said: “We have prayed 10 years now for our sister, Asia, and I am confident that our prayers will be heard, and the judgement will go in favour of Asia, her family and the entire Pakistani Christian community.”

He added: “[The judgement] may come tomorrow. It may come after two or three days but I am sure it will be favourable.”

“Everyone who believes that the Blasphemy Law has been misused time and time again should pray for Asia Bibi’s release, regardless of their faith.”

 

ACN Project of the Week – Help for seminarians in Congo

03.10.2018 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Africa, By ACN Project Services

Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)

Help for the training of 83 seminarians

The statistics reflecting the numbers of the Catholic Church in Africa represent something of a record holder. For one in every nine priests, one in every four seminarians and one in every six lay Catholics in the world hail from this continent!

 

Seminarians in training – Brazzaville, Congo

Many of the seminaries are bursting at the seams, and—in contrast with other parts of the world—the number of priests is actually growing year after year. However, in the Republic of the Congo—also known as Congo Brazzaville—the Catholic faith is only now experiencing a somewhat slow revival owing to the fact that from 1969 to 1991, the country was under a communist regime and the Church suffered widespread repression and reprisals as a result.

 

Today, approximately one third of the country’s 5 million inhabitants are Catholic. However, despite decades of oppression and the fact that the priests in this country must often live and work in conditions of extreme poverty—in many cases minister to vast territories—vocations are still plentiful. In the country’s only major seminary, situated in the capital Brazzaville, 83 young men are currently training for the priesthood. Last year six new priests were ordained and 11 seminarians were ordained to the diaconate.

 

 

In order to ensure these future priests receive a sound and solid formation, ACN is supporting the Brazzaville Seminary as it has done in previous years. This time though, we are proposing to give $22,650 so these 83 young men can continue serenely on their path to the priesthood.

Are you in inspired by this projects supporting seminarians? If you would like to help create more projects such as this, simply click above – to donate.