fbpx

AED Canada

 

Cameroon – The Church is threatened – ACN-Interview

15.02.2019 in ACN International, ACN International, ACN Interview, ACN Intl, AED Canada, Africa, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Cameroon, Journey with ACN, Thomas Oswald, War

Cameroon


“The truth we speak is not welcome in this fratricidal conflict.”

At present the Anglophone areas of Cameroon are constantly being shaken by a conflict between Anglophone separatist groups and the Francophone central government. In this context of fratricidal conflict, the Church is attempting to rekindle dialogue between the two parties. Bishop Emmanuel Abbo of Ngaoundéré, in the Francophone area, who is 49, and Auxiliary Bishop Michael Bibi of Bamenda, in the Anglophone area, talk about the situation in their country. Aid to the Church in Need spoke with them (By Thomas Oswald).

 

***

 

Mgrs. Emmanuel Abbo: ”I am not on the spot, but the news that reaches us is not reassuring. ”

ACN: “Are we talking about ‘civil war’ in the Anglophone areas?

Bishop Michael Bibi: The Elections in October 2018 should have enabled the people of this region to express themselves democratically via the ballot box. But in reality the situation is more complicated than that, since there are a great many internally displaced people and very few Cameronians were able to vote in practice. Unfortunately, the conditions for a peaceful exercise in democracy are not established. And yet it is only through a candid and inclusive dialogue that we will be able to emerge from this crisis. But for the time being, the only voices urging this are the religious leaders!

Bishop Emmanuel Abbo: I am not on the spot, but the news that reaches us is not reassuring. We receive widely differing information, so it is difficult to speak objectively.

 

ACN: On several occasions the Church in Cameroon has sounded the alarm, alerting us to the situation of the priests and religious living in the Anglophone areas. What kind of role is the Church able to play?

Bishop Michael Bibi: The Church is on the front line. A priest and a seminarian have both been murdered in the Anglophone region. In the case of the latter it was a deliberate execution, staged in front of his church in the presence of the parishioners. And sadly, these two are not simply isolated cases. I receive alarming news from many priests and religious who have been shot at, or kidnapped and ransomed. I myself have been arrested, but they let me go again after a few hours.

I can bear witness to the fact that the clergy who stay on in the Anglophone area is particularly under threat. We speak the truth. We tell the young people to stay in school and not join the militias that it will lead to nothing – and so the militias accuse us of playing the government’s game for them. But we also denounce the actions of the government army and call for the region to be demilitarized – and so all of a sudden we are accused by the authorities of siding with the rebels! The truth we speak is not welcome in the midst of this fratricidal conflict. The truth is that both sides are involved in the killing and are only adding violence to violence.

Bishop Emmanuel Abbo: The Church is playing her part in resolving conflicts and upholding the peace. The bishops’ conference is taking initiatives, but we prefer the path of quiet diplomacy, talking directly to the parties in the conflict, since too much media attention risks undermining the success of these initiatives.

 

ACN: How is the Church faring in your country?

Mgrs. Michael Bibi: ”I receive alarming news from many priests and religious who have been shot at, or kidnapped and ransomed. I myself have been arrested, but they let me go again after a few hours.”

Bishop Michael Bibi: Thanks be to God, the Cameroonian people have a strong faith. They attend Sunday Mass with real fervour, and we have a number of priestly vocations. What is needed now is for our political leaders to be likewise illuminated by this faith.

Bishop Emmanuel Abbo: My diocese was evangelized barely 60 years ago. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a congregation of French origin, arrived here in the 1950s. There are three factors that give me hope: I have a cohort of priests in my diocese who are very young, very dynamic and with whom I enjoy an excellent collaboration; then we have the presence of the religious congregations, who share our pastoral concerns; and finally, despite the widespread poverty, we have the Catholic faithful who are willing to do whatever they can to help our Church move forward.

We are facing enormous challenges. On the pastoral level, the diocese does not have enough priests – that is why I have appealed for fidei donum priests to come – nor does it have enough of human and material resources. In the social sphere, we would like to be able to rebuild our schools and health centres in solid materials. And in the development field we would like to be able to support our people, who are extremely poor, in organizing associations or cooperatives. And one of our priorities in the pastoral field is the construction of a diocesan pastoral centre where we can hold our formation sessions which we would like to organize for our 343 catechists and 57 priests.

 

ACN: Would you like to say something to our benefactors?

Bishop Michael Bibi: We need the prayers of ACN. And we also need practical help for the victims of the conflict in the Anglophone region, in line with the words of Jesus: “I was hungry, and you fed me, naked, and you clothed me.”

Bishop Emmanuel Abbo: I would like to thank them all for their generosity. They have been a huge support for us in our dioceses, and especially here in Cameroon, because ACN helps us greatly with our pastoral projects. And please redouble your generosity, because our problems and our concerns are continuing to grow.

 

***

Good news came from Aid to the Church for Mgr George Nkuo.

 

Just now arrived an email from Kumbo. After they got a message announcing grants to various projects for the diocese. Please find the thank you message of Bishop George Nkuo:

“You have allotted grants for our 110 major seminarians, for the NFP in our family life office, for the novices of the Tertiary Sisters, and for the Brothers of St Martin de Porres.  I wish to sincerely thank you for your very kind consideration.

These grants come at a time when the church in our Ecclesiastical Province is going through a very difficult time and our local income has been seriously affected because of the war going on in our regions so you can imagine the relief it has brought to our various communities. I hasten to write on their behalf to say Thank You. Once more thank you and may God continue to bless you and our benefactors. +George.’’


 

ACN Project of the Week – Renovation of the Carmelites Sisters Church – Haïfa

14.02.2019 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, AED Canada, By ACN Project Services, Carmelites, CONSTRUCTION, Contemplative Sisters, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Israel, Journey with ACN

Israel – Haïfa 

Success Story: Repairs to the convent chapel of the Carmelite Sisters in Haifa

 

Carmelite Sisters praying in their newly renovated church in Haïfa. Photo:  during Holy Mass.

The Carmelite Sisters in Haifa are very happy now. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, ACN was able to give them 45 000 dollars so that they could finally repair their convent chapel. This church, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was first built in 1937 and has barely been maintained properly since then, owing to the shortage of money. Leaking rain and penetrating damp had resulted in extensive damage to the fabric of the building. In fact the situation had become so bad that it was becoming a growing health hazard for the sisters themselves, for the local community and also for the pilgrims coming to visit the place.

 

The 17 sisters now living in the convent come from 11 different countries. Their door is always open to anyone who wishes to visit. The local people often come to see the sisters with their prayers, and pilgrims from all over the world who come to visit the Holy Land also often come to the sisters, many with deep questions problems about their faith. The Carmelite convent where the sisters now live stands on the north slope of Mount Carmel, traditionally the birthplace of the Carmelite Order. It was in the year 1150 when the first group of hermits first settled here on Mount Carmel where, according to the Bible, the Prophet Elijah confronted the priests of Baal and proved to them that the God of Israel was the true God and their own ‘gods’ merely false idols (cf. 1 Kings 18:16-46).

 

The Carmelite Order soon spread to other countries, at the same time changing, however. But in the 16th century, in Spain, it was reformed by St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross and returned to something closer to its original spirit.

 

The sisters in Haifa bake hosts, or altar breads, and make small souvenirs for the visiting pilgrims as a means of supporting themselves and their apostolate. But without outside help they could never have found the money to repair their convent chapel. So it is thanks to the help of you, our generous benefactors, that they were finally able to re-consecrate this chapel on 15 October last year, the feast of St Teresa of Avila herself.

 

In the name of the Sisters, Mother Maira of the Infant Jesus, the prioress, thanks all those who have helped: “We hope that this is the beginning of a renewal of the life of prayer, both for our local church and for pilgrims who cross the Holy Land and who are praying the Lord in our chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It is with joy that we express our gratitude and renew our prayers and sacrifices for the Church and the whole world.”

A true blessing send to pilgrims, parishioners of Haïfa and also to ACN Benefactors!

 

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


 

The Philippines: The Church in Jolo fighting the “forces of evil” – ACN

11.02.2019 in ACN International, AED Canada, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Julie Bourbeau, The Philippines

The Philippines:

The Church in Jolo fighting the “forces of evil”

“We will not allow this tragedy to divide and isolate us from the rest of the country.”

Jolo, province of Sulu – A small city in a military lockdown, an all-out war in the adjacent municipality against violent extremists, families in mourning after burying their dead, injured patients recovering in various hospitals, and some having to be amputated. Amidst all this, a local Church of the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo is doing its best to provide hope for the Christian minority while their Muslim partners rally their members to show a force of unity amidst the fear and pain, which this impoverished city in the province of Sulu is suffering.

The ceiling of the cathedral was damaged by the explosion.

 

This was the scene when the Aid to the Church in Need delegation visited the capital of the island of Jolo to express its solidarity with the victims just nine days after the fatal double bomb attack on the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on 27th January. This attack caused the death of 23 people, leaving 112 injured.

Discouraging Situation

News of arrests and surrender of suspected perpetrators has failed to lift the spirit of the residents. Even with the assurance of tight security, a well-organized ‘Tribute to the Victims’ managed to draw only a fraction of the expected audience. Many opted to stay at home. A few of the families are seriously thinking of leaving Jolo for good. The bombing was the last straw, breaking their resilience in the face of years of threats, kidnapping, assassinations and harassment by what they call “the forces of evil.”

The “forces of evil” are the Muslim extremists, mostly Abu Sayyaf supporters, who have been terrorizing Christian minorities for years. Among their crimes are the killing of Bishop Benjamin (Ben) of Jesus in February 1997 in the Cathedral and two other priests, Claretian Father Roel Gallardo kidnapped, tortured and murdered in 2002 and Father Rey Roda, Oblate of Mary Immaculate, in 2008. The victims of violence are not only Christians, because terrorists also kidnap Muslims with the intention of obtaining ransom to finance their actions.

Sources consulted by ACN name members of Ajang Ajang – a faction of Abu Sayyaf composed of drug traffickers and criminals, as the perpetrators of the latest attack at the headquarters of the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo.

However, the messages from military, local government, traditional leaders, lay partners visited by ACN are constant: the persecution was not done by Muslims but a small minority of violent extremists.

A call to stay united

“No bullet or bomb can destroy the harmonious relationship between Muslims and Christians in Jolo,” states Fr. Romeo Saniel, OMI. He has lived on the island for 18 years and was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo just a few weeks ago. As the pastor of a small minority (one percent of the whole population of 120,000), he is revered and admired by the people for his commitment to provide quality education and opportunities to the younger generation of Tausug (Sulu’s indigenous ethnic group), as well as his courage and determination to reach out to the former fighters of the Moravian Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“The only way for peace to be lasting is for both Muslims and Christians to stand together. We will not allow this tragedy to divide us and isolate us from the rest of the country,” remarks Datu Sakul Tan. As the patriarch of a powerful political clan, he is considered the most influential man in the whole of Sulu, and he strongly believes in the relevance of quality education provided by the Catholic Church for the locals.

Fr. Saniel, Administrator Apostolic of Jolo and ACN-Philippines Diirector, Jonathan Luciano.

The needs are clearly articulated by the clergy and lay people. Even as the armed forces of the Philippines aim to eliminate the Abu Sayaf Group, everyone agrees that it doesn’t guarantee peace. Those who die will simply be replaced by the younger generation.

To Find Solutions Against Extremism

Fr. Saniel and Datu Sakul Tan both concur that a long-term need is to provide young people with programmes to prevent violent extremism through formal education, awareness campaigns, the creation of productive work for young people to provide them with livelihoods, and the development of sport.

On the other hand, Fr. Jeff Nadua, OMI, Rector of the Cathedral, points to the need to rebuild the Christian community first and then rehabilitate the cathedral. “We need to help our Christians recover from this trauma and see all this in the eyes of faith. Then we can focus our energies on rebuilding the structure which is heavily damaged by the twin bombing.”

The National Director of ACN Philippines, Jonathan Luciano, paid a solidarity visit to the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo on 4 and 5 February 2019. He visited the seriously damaged Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and spoke with the Apostolic Administrator, Fr. Romeo Saniel, OMI, as well as some relatives of the victims. 

 


 

 

ACN Press Release – Visit to Canada Postponed

20.10.2017 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, AED Canada, Nigeria, Persecution of Christians, Press Release, Priests

Archbishop Msgr Ignatius Kaigama, of Jos in Nigeria

Visit to Canada Postponed

 

Nigeria, March 2017
Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Archbishop of Jos

Montreal, Friday, October 20, 2017—Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is announcing that the visit of Msgr Ignatius Kaigama, archbishop of Jos in Nigeria has been postponed due to delays in the visa acquisition process. The visit, initially scheduled for October 31 through to November 3 with a series of conferences in between, will be rescheduled to the week of June 5 through to June 8, 2018.

“We are maintaining contact with Msgr Kaigama who regrets this situation and who is also very excited to be able to come and speak about his work of dialogue and about the situation of Christians in Nigeria,” explains Marie-Claude Lalonde, the National Director of ACN Canada. Our partners who have supported the organization in various dioceses where conferences were planned, have been informed and have expressed their support and readiness to welcome Msgr. Kaimaga this coming June.

 

November 3rd Mass: Remains on the Schedule

Otherwise, the Mass which will be celebrated for persecuted Christians and presided over by Msgr Christian Lépine, the Archbishop of Montreal, and to which Msgr Kaigama was due to participate, will go ahead on Friday, November 3, at 7:30 pm, at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal. The popular author/singer/songwriter Robert Lebel will be at the celebration to provide the music for the liturgy and will be accompanied by l’Espace Benoit-Lacroix. Mrs Chantal Roussety, a musician and friend of ACN, will be at the organ with musical meditations before and during the liturgy.

For more information about this event, plus call 514-932-0552, or contact ACN via email at info@acn-canada.org.

 

 


 

Feature Story – EU reps Skype with Syrian Children

06.12.2016 in ACN Feature, ACN International, ACN Intl, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, European Union, Syria

Aid to the Church in Need

Initiative at the European Parliament with Syrian Children

European parliamentarians will be speaking directly to school-children from Aleppo, Syria via Skype this Tuesday December 6, also, Saint Nicolas day. In cooperation with the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), European Parliament Vice-President Mr. Antonio Tajani along with EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom and Belief Mr. Jan Figel.  The event is intended to allow these children – both Muslim and Christian –  to tell their stories.

 

Syria, Aleppo, 05. October 2016 In addition, Syrian schoolchildren – also including many Muslims – are writing messages to the global community on white balloons. These include such messages as “We want peace!”, “Give us our childhood!”, “We don’t want any more war!” and “We want to go to school!” These days, children at more than 2000 schools all over Syria are drawing and writing messages to the political decision makers of the European Union and United Nations under the motto “Peace for Children”. More than one million children are also signing a petition. This appeal for peace is a joint campaign being carried out by Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Syria, and members of all religious communities have been invited to take part.

Syria, Aleppo, 05. October 2016  – In addition, Syrian schoolchildren – also including many Muslims – are writing messages to the global community on white balloons. These include such messages as “We want peace!”, “Give us our childhood!”, “We don’t want any more war!” and “We want to go to school!”

They will also answer questions about their lives in a war that has lasted 5 years, claimed the lives of over 400,000 people, destroyed 2,960 schools and where, of the approximately 2.9 million school aged children, almost 2 million cannot attend class. The appeal for peace seeks to draw attention to the fact that, unlike in Iraq, despite the divisions of war in Syria, Christians and Muslims are still united.

 

Syrian children speak to Westerners

ACN’s Middle East expert, Fr. Andrew Halemba, who conceived of the idea after several visits to the region stated: “The video link between Syrian children and the European politicians builds on an initial concept of ‘Drawings for Peace for Syria’ where ACN together with the local churches in Syria, representing about 95% of all Syrian Christians, gathered over one million drawings and letters from children of all religions between the ages of 3 and 16 from over 2,000 schools in Aleppo, Homs, Tartus, Yabroud and Damascus. These messages and drawings are a vibrant, innocent call for peace by the Syrian children to the West.”

Among the letters collected is that from Razan in Grade 5: “I haven´t seen anything of my childhood. My home was destroyed. My life changed. I am afraid whenever I hear the sound of the explosions. A lot of sounds; I feel very sad when I see the kids dying. I hope that God will bring everything back to its condition before and that God saves our country Syria.” Another short message comes from Shifa in Grade 6: “Father, I miss you but you will still be in my heart.” A poem from 12-year-old Shan in Aleppo describes the suffering in war:

 

Mark von Riedemann took some pictures of the thousands of drawings that the Syrian children have made asking for peace. Note that this is only a selection.

 

Baptized with blood

“I am praying, God my country is suffering
Cold, sadness and darkness, no electricity nor candles.
A mother is calling with her unheard voice
to the father who left that morning and unsure if he will come back.
Please, God, do not abandon us to sorrow and hunger
God, keep your hands with us, our country is suffering.
Children, like the sunrise, study in the darkness;
we are waiting for good news covered by mercy,
hoping to meet in the neighborhood beautiful smiles,
but they find black hearts even darker than the carbon.
They are baptized with blood and we do not even have tears.
God, don´t abandon our suffering country!”

 

Festivities in Damascus (provinceTouma), 05 October 2016 Peace for the children in Syria 2016 at the Greek-Melkite Patriarchate. In addition, Syrian schoolchildren – also including many Muslims – are writing messages to the global community on white balloons. These include such messages as “We want peace!”, “Give us our childhood!”, “We don’t want any more war!” and “We want to go to school!” These days, children at more than 2000 schools all over Syria are drawing and writing messages to the political decision makers of the European Union and United Nations under the motto “Peace for Children”. More than one million children are also signing a petition. This appeal for peace is a joint campaign being carried out by Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Syria, and members of all religious communities have been invited to take part.

Festivities in Damascus (province Touma), 05 October 2016 Peace for the children in Syria 2016 at the Greek-Melkite Patriarchate.

 

These letters and drawings were presented from October 10 to 13 to political decision makers at the EU and UN institutions in Brussels and Geneva by the “Ambassadors of the Children,” Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, the head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan George Abou Zakhem of Homs, and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Selwanos Boutros Al Nemeh of Homs.

Among others, the Church representatives met with the Jean-Claude Juncker President of the European Commission, Martin Schulz President of the European Parliament and Federica Mogherini High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. In Geneva, the children’s messages were presented to Dr. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The December 6th video-conversation between the political leaders in Brussels and the children in Aleppo will be followed by an exhibition of the original children’s drawings in a main hall at the European Parliament. Simultaneously European Commission President Juncker has offered the drawings he received during the Patriarch’s visit to be integrated in an overall exhibition organized together with UNICEF titled, “Standing Strong: The Human Faces of the Syrian Crisis” to be held from December 5 to 15 at the Berlaymont Building of the European Commission. Here 18 drawings, alongside ACN photos of the Syrian children, will be exhibited after which these will then travel to other EU venues during the first three months of 2017.

 

 

 

Project of the Week – reconstruction of a presbytery in Chile

23.11.2016 in Adaptation Mario Bard, AED Canada

Chile

Rebuilding after an earthquake

acn-20160906-45626-1-chileIn the 19th century Sotaquí, lived an elderly and very holy woman. Her name was Antonia Pizarro. She had a profound knowledge of herbal remedies, and thus was able to help many sick people. One day, as she was on her way to visit a sick person who lived close to the river Hurtado, she spotted two children in the distance, herding goats.

As she drew closer, she saw that they were playing with another child, who seemed to be almost naked. It was in fact, a statue of the Child Jesus. This holy woman took this image of the Divine Child back to her home in order to pay fitting homage to it. It quickly became the focus of miracles, and in 1873  was enshrined in the parish church of Sotaquí.

Devotion to this image became increasingly widespread and more and more people came seeking help through this miraculous “Little Jesus” image. Eventually, in 1898, a new church was built in honour of the Divine Child. Devotion to this image remains very strong today, and in January, around the time of the Epiphany, there is a great four-day festival with processions and traditional dances in honour of the Divine Child. The feast is preceded by a Novena prayed in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Part of the shrine area includes the old presbytery, which was built in the year 1800. In 1997 it was damaged by an earthquake, but the severe earthquake of September 2015 rendered it completely uninhabitable with the roof timbers, ceiling, and several of the walls having collapsed, while doors and windows were destroyed. The parish priest is living in some discomfort in a single room adjoining the church, for the time being.

 

acn-20160906-45660-chile-1

 

The diocese of La Serena, to which Sotaquí belongs, is still facing the massive challenge of repairing and rebuilding 60 churches, chapels and presbyteries that were similarly destroyed or damaged to a greater or lesser extent by the same earthquake.

ACN has promised 43,800 CAD, to help rebuild the parish house in Sotaquí.

 

donate

 

Would you like to support a project such as this one? 

Call us to find out more! Or, click “Donate” to make your secure online donation.

 

 


 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT 2016

15.11.2016 in ACN International, Adaptation Mario Bard, AED Canada, liberté religieuse, MONDE

World

ACN Report on Religious Freedom Rapport 2016 

“Hyper-extremism” : a threat to World Peace

"I cannot go on living here", laments the father of David, one of the boys killed by the Isis bomb in Qaraqosh. "This country is drenched with blood". The mother, a young woman clothed completely in mourning, buries her head in her hands, weeping. (This was the hardest moment in the trip, please pray for her and for the whole family)

Religious Fundamentalism – more lethal than ever seen before – is unleashing death, destruction, displacement and instability at unprecedented levels, according to a report out today.  This is at least what is concluded in the report published today – online in Canada – by the international pontifical charity, Aid to the Church in Need.

“The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report, produced by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, warns of the global impact of “a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence,” which it terms “Islamist hyper-extremism.”

In defining this new ultra-extremism, the report highlights distinguishing features which are described as evidence of the radicals’ threat to world peace, stability and social harmony in the West.

Iraq, December 2014 A woman with a child at the “Werenfried” centre at the129 District of Ankawa. IRAQ / NATIONAL 14/00247, 150 PVC caravans in Ankawa district for use as emergency accommodation for IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) forced from their homes by IS

In fact, key characteristics of “Islamist hyper-extremism” include systematic attempts to drive out all dissenting groups – including moderates, unprecedented levels of cruelty, global reach and the effective use of social media, often used to glamorize violence.

Adding its voice to calls for Daesh (ISIS) persecution to be recognized as genocide, the report’s authors warn of a widespread attempt to replace pluralism with a religious mono-culture.

 

 

Extremism threatens diversity

The report, which assesses the situation regarding religious freedom in each of the world’s 196 countries, concludes: “In parts of the Middle East including Iraq and Syria, this hyper-extremism is eliminating all forms of religious diversity and is threatening to do so in parts of African and the Asian Sub-Continent.”

 

(From left to right) Bishop Joseph Arshad, Father Emmanuel Pervez, footballer Salim Bad and Sumundri Football Club Manager Mohammed Shafiq.

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

Father Mourad during the press conferece in Rome

This is echoed in the report’s foreword by Father Jacques Mourad, a Christian monk who was held by Daesh in Syria for five months before escaping in October 2015.

Fr Mourad writes: “Our world teeters on the brink of complete catastrophe as extremism threatens to wipe out all trace of diversity in society.”

This 13th biennial report, which draws on research by journalists, academics and clergy, records that in the two-year period under review from June 2014 to June 2016, attacks linked to “hyper-extremism” had taken place in one out of five countries worldwide (or 20%) – from Australia to Sweden as well as 17 African countries.

Countering the popular view that governments are mostly to blame for persecution, the report puts the blame on non-state militants in 12 of the 23 worst-offending countries. With refugee numbers at a new high of 65.3 million according to the United Nations, the report describes extremist Islamism as a “key driver” in the massive displacement of people fleeing countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.

http://bit.ly/RFR2016

 

Some slight improvement

Refugee centre for Yazidi families who had to leave their villages in Northern Iraq because of approaching ISIS fighters. Yazidis are located in several centres around Kurdistan, majority of them being in Zakhu and Dohuk regions.The Aid to the Church in Need report goes on to highlight the ‘domino effect’ on countries in the West whose socio-religious fabric is being destabilized by the arrival of unprecedented numbers of refugees.

Such problems are, according to the report, compounded by the West falling victim to a sudden increase in fundamentalist Islamist attacks.

According to the report, however, not all problems regarding religious freedom are to do with militant Islam – with a “renewed crackdown” on religious groups reported in China and Turkmenistan and an ongoing denial of human rights for people of faith in worst-offending North Korea and Eritrea where human-rights are practically non-existent.

 

©Photopin

©Photopin

Nor is the outlook universally bleak – looking at Bhutan, Egypt and Qatar, countries notorious for religious freedom violations, the report found that the situation had improved for faith minorities during the period under review.

This is the 13th edition of this report produced by Aid to the Church in Need. The charity provides emergency aid and help for persecuted and other suffering Christians in 140 countries around the world.

The ‘Religious Freedom in the World’ 2016 report’

is available at  www.acn-aed-ca.org/religious-freedom-report

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

ACN PRESS RELEASE – iRAQ

27.09.2016 in ACN International, ACN UK, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, Aide à l’Église en détresse., By Mario Bard, Chaldean Catholic, Communiqué, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Irak, Iraq, John Pontifex, Mgr Louis Sako, Moyen-Orient, Persecution of Christians, Refugees, Voyager avec l’AED

 

Iraq

Is hope reborn?

Montreal/Surrey, September 27, 2016  – If the town of Mosul is taken back from the hands of Daesh (ISIS), the event might pave the way for Christians of Iraq to return home to the Nineveh Plains, to their ancestral home.  It is at least the hope of the leading bishops and other lay organizers in the local Church who wish to establish an agreement with the Iraqi government on the subject.

Mgr Louis Sako 1er, Patriarche chaldéen de Bagdad. Selon lui, « fournir une protection légale » est essentielle pour les chrétiens qui reviendraient à Mossoul.

Msgr Louis Sako Chaldean Patriarch of  Baghdad. 

A delegation led by Aid to the Church in Need arrived in early September to the North of Iraqi Kurdistan – where half of the country’s 250,000 Christians live in present day Iraq.  The delegation met with many people displaced from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains who had fled the Islamic State in August 2014.

Along with providing emergency help, the delegation found that the local Church is in the process of developing proposals which will enable Christians to return to their towns and villages which were previously taken from them.

The delegation had the opportunity to speak with Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Msgr Louis Raphael I Sako, the spiritual leader of the largest Christian community in Iraq.  According to him, it is essential that, in the case of the now imminent liberation of Mosul – Christians may return to their village where at one time, they made up a strong minority.

“Freeing Mosul and Nineveh from ISIS might be a glimmer of hope for native residents to return home with the condition of providing legal protection for them, and also granting them the necessary time to rebuild trust with their neighbours.

“Otherwise, the “hemorrhage” outflow of migration [of Christians] will continue, even from safe areas, which is a very serious sign,” said the Patriarch.

The Christian population of Iraq numbered over one million inhabitants prior to the fall of Iraq’s former president, Saddam Hussein.

 

A real sense of hope returning

“I sensed much more hope among Church leaders and faithful than I did on my visit last year,” declared Neville Kirke-Smith, director of the UK office of Aid to the Church in Need and member of the delegation which brought with them aid for at least 100,000 people. “It is clear that the Church is making a strong case to reclaim its place in a region where – until 2014 – there had been an unbroken Christian presence stretching back almost to the start of Christianity.”
“This is indeed really good news reported to us by our colleagues!” said Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of the Canadian office of the international organization. « To be frank, I was beginning to lose hope, especially because few government bodies around the world are prepared to recognize the tragedy underway in Iraq where Christians are living.  Massive waves of immigration are progressively emptying the country of an inestimable inheritance, and Christianity is in danger of losing the first Christian community in its history.  Aid to the Church in Need will stand by the Church in Iraq as long as they will need us to help them rebuild. ““This is a commitment that we made long ago. Hopefully, more Canadians will help us achieve this goal that we have to strengthen the Church in Iraq. “

” The delegation also went to Alqosh,” reported Mrs Lalonde.

“Our colleagues had the opportunity to visit this ancient which is completely Christian and situated about 10 minutes from the front with ISIS.  The people have displayed their determination to stay where they are and to save their village and the Church.”

Une dame déplacées âgées de 89 ans.

An 89 year old woman.

For his part, Mr. Kyrke-Smith had the opportunity to meet Msgr. Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Bishop of Erbil.  Msgr Warda has partnered with Aid to the Church in Need to help distribute emergency aid.  “For nearly 2,000 years we Christians have been present on the Nineveh Plains and to return we need international protection,” he said.

According to the bishop, “The Iraqi army needs to be a united force and the Peshmerga [Kurdish military] will help, with outside support. Military action as reconciliation work needs to be done. As Christians we have no involvement in violence – we have suffered – so we can help rebuild.”

Des dames déplacées au camp d'Ankawa, dans la région d'Erbil.

Women displaced to a refugee camp in Ankawa, in the Erbil area.

 

Since August 2014, Aid to the Church in Need has supported 100,000 Christians displaced by the advances of the Islamic State.  Over 9 million dollars were given in emergency aid and for the construction of infrastructure for schools so that the children will not be a generation lost to war.  The Catholic organization also provided support for the spiritual lives of the population – by helping priests, Sisters, supporting the training of seminarians and the construction of a chapel in the refugee camp.

 

By Mario Bard and John Pontifex,
Aid to the Church in Need Canada/ ACN international

Translation and adaptation, Amanda Bridget Griffin ACN Canada


 

Project of the Week – 5,000 Child’s Bibles for Pakistan!

04.05.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, Pakistan, Projets pastorale

20120109_010 PAKISTAN KARACHIPakistan

5,000 copies of Child’s Bibles in the Urdu language

 

Christians in Pakistan face all kinds of discrimination, harassment and oppression. Most of these Christians are from the poorest and lowliest sections of society and they must stand up to all sorts of difficulties standing in the way of their social advancement.

 

Usually  Christians perform the most menial tasks.  They are the road sweepers or domestic helpers. Most of them would like to see their children have better lives, but their hopes are often frustrated by the fact that Muslims generally receive more favourable treatment and have better opportunities than they, even with the same level of education. While for the poorer Christian families, even sending their children to school in the first place involves great deal of financial sacrifice. Often their mothers and older sisters have to go to work, in order to be able to cover the school fees.

 

Most families have many children, and these children are seen as a gift from God and a sign of hope for the future. The parents are proud to see their children get a good education, though most cannot read or write themselves, and so they can do little to help their children.

 

When Christian children are sent to a state school, they often find themselves pressured to renounce their faith. And so, in order to root them more deeply in their own faith, most attend school first in their own parishes, in one of the many Sunday schools where they can grow in their faith. They pray and sing together and come to better know the Good News of the Gospel.

 

With great enthusiasm, they re-enact some of the Bible stories as theater performances. In this way they not only enhance the beauty of the great feasts but also help their parents, who for the most part cannot read the Bible themselves, to better know and understand the Bible stories.

 

The Sisters of Saint Paul, a congregation very much involved in the media apostolate, have been active in Pakistan since 1965 and have produced a wide range of religious and catechetical literature. Now they would like to produce a little Bible for children that will contain not only Bible stories but also short prayers. The idea is to use this book in the Sunday schools and in the religious education classes of the Catholic schools.

 

“Once the children are well grounded in their faith, the parents are less afraid of sending them to the state schools,”the Sisters report. For then there is less danger that they will Child's Biblebe deflected from their faith.

ACN has promised a contribution of $9,425 CAN towards the cost of printing 5,000 copies of this book.


 

donate

To donate to this or to a similar project – please do so on-line on our new secure donation page. If you would prefer to call us, or write to us – our contact information can be found here

 


 

 

Press Release – Upcoming symposium in Montreal : “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?”

19.04.2016 in ACN Canada, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AED Canada, By Mario Bard, Persecution of Christians, Religious freedom, Uncategorized, Voyager avec l’AED

 

Canada                
Symposium on Christians victimized by genocide

With participation from Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Montreal, April 19 2016 – “ We estimate from our point of view that Christians in Syria and in Iraq are suffering a slow, but certain, genocide,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde the national director of the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) who will take part in a panel this weekend at the invitation of the organization ‘Solidarité International Trinitaire’. 

 

 

Also on the panel, Sami Aoun, a geopolitical specialist and Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Catholic Melkite Archbishop of Syria and Aleppo. The panel will be led by journalist, Pierre Maisonneuve.  The theme tabled for discussion: “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?”

The panel, which will take place Saturday April 23 at 9am, will officially open the Symposium of the same name which will be held from the 22 to the 24th at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal, 2065 Sherbrooke West.

“The question is a broad,” considers the director who has held the position for 15 years.  “When we speak of genocide, we must be extremely cautious as to the type of situation we wish to qualify.  If we are talking about what is happening in Iraq or in Syria, it is clear the Islamic State (IS) is doing everything to eliminate the presence of Christians and other religious minorities.”

Partie de l'affiche annonçant le Colloque.

From the poster made by (S.I.T.)

Canada: Still in waiting

“When speaking about genocide, we always refer back to the definition given by international law,” says the director.  “In other words: as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.“ The Islamic State (IS) is guilty of genocide, according to the European Parliament and the American Secretary of State.

Now, the question remains: When will there be acknowledgement on the part of the Government of Canada?”

This past February, Mrs. Lalonde sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, asking that the Canadian government recognize that what is happening in Syria and in Iraq is a genocide against Christians and other religious minorities.

Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity, has been working for over 60 years to bring awareness to the world of the fate of persecuted Christians and the situation of religious freedom throughout the world.  Every two years, a report called Persecuted and Forgotten? Addresses the situation of Christians throughout the world – whereas, also published every two years, the report on Religious Freedom in the world encompasses all religious traditions.

The Symposium: “Are Christians in the world victims of genocide?” will be held from Friday April 22 beginning at 4pm, through to Sunday April 24 at noon.  Simultaneous translations will be offered and voluntary contributions will be gratefully accepted.  The Grand Séminaire of Montreal is located at: 2065 Sherbrooke Street west, near Guy-Concordia Métro.

 

By Mario Bard, ACN Canada

Translated and adapted by, Amanda Bridget Griffin