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ACN Interview: “The Catholic Church does exist in Morocco. And it is a Samaritan!”

29.03.2019 in ACN International, AFRIQUE

MOROCCO
ACN INTERVIEW “THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOES EXIST IN MOROCCO. AND IT IS A SAMARITAN!”

Learn first-hand information about the country Pope Francis will be visiting in late March

María Lozano held an interview with Monsignor Cristóbal López Romero, the bishop of Rabat, for a television broadcast produced by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The Salesian of Don Bosco talked about what it means to live and work in this North African nation.

The universality of the Catholic Church becomes palpable in many places where Christianity is in the minority, including Morocco, a country with 37 million inhabitants, 99.9% of whom are Muslim and only 0.08% are Catholics.

A small, but great Church, carries out its pastoral work among the Catholic faithful of the country. It supports the most disadvantaged in the Moroccan population including the thousands of young people who cross the desert from sub-Saharan Africa looking for a future in their idealized Europe. Pope Francis is planning to travel to the region bordering Africa and Europe on March 30 and 31, in response to an invitation issued by King Mohammed VI and the bishops in the country, visit the cities of Rabat and Casablanca.

 “The Catholic Church does exist in Morocco,” the bishop proudly said at the beginning of the interview. “It is a vibrant and young church blessed with mercy and with a strong desire to bear witness.The North African country has two cathedrals, one in Tangier and a second in Rabat. The first was built during the time of the Spanish protectorate, the second during the time of the French protectorate. Bishop López Romero continued, “More young than old people come to our churches, more men than women, more black than white people.” The members of the Church in Morocco are mostly foreigners, faithful from more than 100 different countries. They generally work in companies that operate subsidiaries in Morocco. In addition, many of them come from countries south of the Sahara, such as the Congo, Senegal or the Ivory Coast. They move to Morocco to pursue their studies and find the “feeling of security” they are looking for with the Catholic Church. The Catholic religious who work in the country hail from more than 40 different countries. Bishop López explains, “Being Catholic means being universal, global.” This universality requires people to put aside that which makes them distinct and concentrate on what is shared. “We look for what is important, at the essential. The differences enrich us, we are open with one another and see the differences as an opportunity, not a problem.”

Church as a Samaritan

The Moroccan Church and the charities it works with take in and help who are weakest, irrespective of their background. Primarily, they are active within Moroccan society and for the immigrants coming from countries south of the Sahara, who are trying to reach Europe or remain in North Africa. “The Church takes in and cares for those in need, that is, it is a Samaritan Church,” the interviewee said. Through its Caritas organization, Morocco takes care of thousands of migrants who cross the Sahara and then, after having completed this difficult crossing, “remain stuck” in the country, without being able to continue on to Europe. “These people need care and a sympathetic ear. Most of them are sick when they arrive and many of the women are pregnant. The Church “takes them in. It protects, promotes and integrates them, just as Pope Francis has asked us to do.” The work of the Church in Morocco is so important that “even the Muslim authorities appreciate its efforts.”

When asked why young people are fleeing Africa, Bishop López explained that economic reasons are the key impetus for the majority of the young migrants. They are fleeing poverty and unemployment, but many of them are also fleeing war, hostilities, persecution or natural disasters. According to the bishop of Rabat, the migration problem in Africa will be impossible to solve as long as “30% of the food produced continues to be thrown out in Europe,” and people continue to live “in excess and grandeur” while at the same time expecting those “who live in wretched circumstances to passively accept their fate” and society remains unaware of its behaviour. “It is certainly not Christian and can even be called inhumane that Europe protects its borders so that it does not have to share what belongs to all and what Europe has appropriated,” the religious expressed his outrage. The bishop called to mind the words of Pope Francis: “Capitalism kills.” “Instead of providing aid, we should pay for the raw materials that we exploit. We should make sure that the multinational corporations pay the taxes that they owe.” He believes that Africa cannot be helped with “crumbs, but with justice and development plans. We are nothing without love, we are even less without justice.”

“The young Moroccan” – the bishop returned to the previous topic – “is imprisoned in his own country.” Morocco is suffering because of its geographical location, from the fact that there is no realistic way to leave the country. To the South lies the vast Saharan desert, to the West, the Atlantic, to the East, Algeria – and the border to this country is closed due to war – and to the North, Europe. “Many young people from Morocco point to Spain and ask, ‘Why are they able to come here, but I can’t go there?’”

Does religious freedom exist in Morocco?

An entirely different issue, which Pope Francis will surely be confronted with during his trip, is the status of religious freedom in the country. As the pontifical foundation ACN concluded in the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2018, according to its constitution, the Kingdom of Morocco is a sovereign Muslim state. Article 3 reads: “Islam is the religion of the state, which guarantees to all the free exercise of beliefs.” However, the constitution prohibits political parties, parliamentarians or constitutional amendments to infringe upon Islam. The European Parliament acknowledges that religious freedom is constitutionally enshrined in Morocco, but adds that “Christians and especially Muslims who converted to Christianity face numerous forms of discrimination and are not allowed to set foot in a church.” Under the Moroccan Penal Code, proselytism by non-Muslims, that is to “shake the faith” of the Muslim population, is illegal. The distribution of non-Islamic religious materials is also restricted by the government.

For more information about the situation in Morocco, please consult:
Religious freedom report – country Marocco

By Mónica Zorita and Maria Lozano, ACN International

Revised for Canada: Amanda Bridget Griffin, CAN Canada

March 29, 2019

 

A retreat house for religious sisters

20.03.2019 in AFRIQUE, Religieuses

Malawi

The Sisters of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus are a local African congregation founded in 1929 and today ministers to Malawi and Zambia in southern Africa. It comprises 168 fully professed religious and growing, as young African women continue to join the community.

In Malawi the congregation runs its own primary school and kindergarten. In Zambia they run a school for older children, offering education to girls who would otherwise have no chance of attending school. This is one important aspect of the sisters’ work. Others care for the sick and for expectant mothers in rural areas where there is no other form of health care and often not even clean water available. They sometimes have to travel long distances to reach these villages.
At the same time, they also care for people with albinism, who on account of their lack of skin pigmentation find themselves at the mercy of the fierce African sun. In fact, people with albinism not only suffer physically, but also socially as they are often discriminated against and even excluded from society. The sisters take them in and care for them, attending not only to their special medical problems but especially to their spiritual needs. The sisters care for all those in need and give special attention to malnourished children. Many work in the parishes, giving catechetical instruction and helping the priests in their pastoral work. The great majority receive no pay but simply work for the love of God, wherever their presence is needed.

ACN supports a new place for retreat

It is important, however, for the sisters themselves to be supported in their spiritual life and strengthened in their vocation. The congregation is aiming to give them the opportunity, at least once a year, to take part in a retreat and recharge their batteries with a time of quiet contemplation. They also need to have an opportunity for ongoing formation. Until now the novice house has been used for this purpose. However, the community is growing and the house is needed for its original purpose which is to be used by the novices and the new vocations. The remaining rooms still available are not suitable for the needs of holding such retreats.


Therefore, the congregation has decided to build a separate building, one specifically for retreats and ongoing formation sessions. The sisters have already baked their own bricks and carted sand for the building work, and in fact a considerable part of the building is already standing! Now, they need our help to finish the work.

ACN has promised 22,500 for doors and windows, sanitation facilities, corrugated sheeting for the roof and other necessary items to help complete the project.

MOZAMBIQUE: “The wounds of the civil war are still open”

01.03.2019 in Africa, AFRIQUE, Mozambique, Paolo Aido

Peace still has not come to Mozambique. For Bishop Adriano Langa of Inhambane, “the wounds left behind by war are not as easy to close as a tap.”

The traces and aftereffects of the many years of armed conflict are still visible throughout the African country. During a meeting held at the international headquarters of the Pontifical Charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Königstein, Germany, Bishop Langa explained that there is still quite a way to go before it will actually be possible to live in peace.

By Paulo Aido, ACN-International

“We say that the war continues to claim lives even though the guns have fallen silent,” he said. “We have yet to overcome the aftereffects of the war fought to gain independence from the colonial power, the civil war as well as the political tensions of 2014 to 2015 … and it will take a very long time for them to disappear. It is something that cannot be seen, but still exists.” The civil war in Mozambique, which lasted from 1977 to 1992, cost the lives of almost one million people. Moreover, an estimated five million people were forced to leave their homes and their homeland. In spite of the peace agreement signed in 1992 the spectre of war could never be banished completely.

“We say that the war continues to claim lives even though the guns have fallen silent,”

Jihadist attacks in the North?

As though this were not enough, a wave of violence was unleashed in October of 2017 in the northern part of the country, in the province of Cabo Delgado. Extremely violent attacks were carried out on villages, during which houses were destroyed and people killed. It is estimated that over one hundred and fifty Mozambicans lost their lives during these attacks, but none of the known groups have claimed responsibility for them. This has given rise to all sorts of speculation, including a direct link to radical Islamist groups. The bishop of Inhambane is aware of the problem. He gave voice to the concerns of the church, “People die. Or their lives are destroyed … When a house or a village is destroyed, life is also destroyed. The Church is concerned and we hope that the situation can be resolved. More than anything, we hope that this will all come to an end. We want the attacks to cease because there has been a great deal of violence and the situation is very difficult.” According to Bishop Adriano Langa, it is important “to offer signs that the Church is right there.”

Immense Poverty

The civil war has had a dramatic effect on Mozambique: in addition to the numbers of deceased, injured and displaced, the entire country was plunged into underdevelopment. In 1990, while the civil war still raged, Mozambique was considered the poorest country in the world. Today, the prevailing poverty is another sign that the “tap” of war has not been completely turned off yet. The Church is aware of the problem.

According to Bishop Alberto Vera, president of Caritas Mozambique and bishop of Nacala, the poverty rate primarily rose in rural areas this year and prosperity has only increased in the circles of the political and financial elite. This has only deepened the chasm between the country’s rich and poor.

Bishop Adriano Langa confirmed this assessment during the interview with the ACN Charity. “Of course there is poverty in Mozambique, that is indisputable.” For the bishop of Inhambane, the poverty is particularly evident in rural areas, one example being in his diocese, which has very poor infrastructure. “When there are no roads, communication becomes very poor and that is what is happening in Mozambique. The north produces a great deal; however, the products do not reach the south because of the lack of roads.”

ACN supports the church in Mozambique with subsistence support to priest and religious sisters as well as with financial aid for formation and building projects. The organization funded projects in 2017 with almost 975 000 dollars in grants.

March 1, 2019

Burkina Faso – Alarming situation for Christians – ACN-News

22.02.2019 in Africa, AFRIQUE, By Maria Lozano

Burkina Faso
Alarming situation for Christians in Burkina Faso

The murder of a missionary in Burkina Faso reflects the alarming situation into which the country is sliding

“Their vehicle was returning from a meeting in Togo when, just a few kilometres after the frontier, they were ambushed by terrorists who had just murdered four policemen and burned down a customs post. The armed men stopped the vehicle and forced passengers to disembark. Then they took the priest to one side and shot him in the head.” This was the account of Father Jacob Lompo, the bursar for the diocese of Fada N’Gourma, who was speaking to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) about the murder of the Spanish missionary Father Antonio Cesar Fernández.

By Maria Lozano, ACN-International

The attack took place on Friday 15 February when this 72-year-old Spanish priest was returning to Burkina Faso together with two other Salesian religious – both of whom escaped unharmed from the attack.

“It is the first time that something like this has happened in this area. They have never experienced anything of the kind before. But it is undoubtedly true that we have recently seen worrying activities by gangs of bandits and terrorists,” said a source close to ACN, which prefers to remain anonymous. “There are areas bordering on the diocese of Tenkodogo and Fada N’Gourma where it is no longer possible to celebrate Holy Mass, because in some of the villages there have been abductions and hostage-taking.”

The murder of this priest is just one more misfortune in the tragic chain of events that is afflicting the country. According to Father Lompo, in the diocese of Fada N’Gourma “a number of communities and churches have been forced to close down because jihadist groups have been going through the villages threatening the inhabitants and demanding that they convert to Islam.”

600 State Schools Have Had to Close Down On

“Many of the Christians are terrified and have fled. The parish priest has had to go looking for his catechists, who have been intimidated, and relocate them to other, safer places. A congregation of religious sisters has also had to move because of the danger,” he told ACN.

This climate of fear is affecting above all the north, the east and the Sahel zone where, according to Father Lompo, “600 state schools have had to close down on account of the terrorist threats.”

“The most alarming reports in recent months have come to us from the diocese of Fada N’Gourma and above all from the frontier region with Niger, where the insecurity is acute, especially in the forest region. So this recent attack and the murder of Father Antonio Cesar in the south of the country, closer to the border with Ghana and Togo, is really worrying”, says Rafael D’Aqui, ACN’s section head with responsibility for the projects in Burkina Faso.

“From a geographical point of view, the problem of insecurity and radicalization that initially existed on the border with Mali has then extended towards the east, to the border with Niger, and in the last year also to the southeast of the country – for example in the areas close to Pama, where we had already had reports in the past of radicalization, and of insecurity among the Christian community. But the murder of this Salesian priest on Friday the 15th took place some 130 km from there. It seems as though the terrorists and guerrilla fighters are trying to encircle the frontiers of Burkina Faso. This is something new and it is really alarming,” Mr D’Aqui explained.

“What is especially shocking is the fact that they should murder in this way a priest and religious who has given his life to bring about development and worked with the young people, a man who loved this country where the social work of the Catholic Church in education and healthcare has brought major benefits to everyone, and not just to the Christians. It saddens me greatly, for this attack is not simply on the life of a single person but in all the country,” added D’Aqui, who recently travelled to Burkina Faso to visit some of the projects supported by ACN. And concludes: “We have to pray for peace and for an end to this situation, which is creating a psychosis that is harmful to the country.”

ACN Interview – Emergency Aid for Cameroon

03.11.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AFRIQUE, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Cameroon, Emergency Aid

Cameroon

Terrorism and a forgotten Africa

Time and again, the northern part of Cameroon has become the scene of suicide attacks by Boko Haram terrorists.

 

The people in Maroua-Mokolo are afraid. Time and again, the dioceses located along the border to Nigeria have become the scene of attacks by Boko Haram. When Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo celebrates Holy Mass under a tree, the faithful often hold each other by the hand to form a human chain. The reason: to keep suicide bombers from mingling unnoticed among those in prayer.

 

Before Mass, volunteers check those attending services for weapons and explosives. It is forbidden to carry large handbags. “Many of the suicide attacks are carried out by very young people. Only one month ago, two young girls blew themselves up on the market of Mora. They were not even twenty years old,” the bishop told the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “The people live in constant fear of attacks. It has already become a psychosis.”

CAMEROON / MAROUA-MOKOLO 15/00094 Construction d'un hangar comme lieu de prière pour les 5.000 catholiques nigérians réfugiés dans le diocèse de Maroua-Mokolo

The danger is especially great at larger gatherings of people. However, the Catholic faithful are not letting this stop them from gathering to pray. “Prayer is our strength and our hope. We need prayer! We want to pray! Especially prayer in community is a sign of hope,” said Bishop Ateba.

When this past February two suicide bombers killed at least 20 people and injured dozens on the market in the village of Mémé, prayer even saved people. “At the time of the attack, many market women and other people from the village had just gone into the church to take part in the Stations of the Cross. They say, ‘We are still alive because we were in church. We would have died without the Stations of the Cross.’”

CAMEROON / MAROUA-MOKOLO 15/00094 Construction d'un hangar comme lieu de prière pour les 5.000 catholiques nigérians réfugiés dans le diocèse de Maroua-Mokolo

 

‘…only Africans…’

Bishop Ateba is disappointed that the dramatic situation in his diocese hardly ever receives attention from international media. “I would like to see greater attention being paid to that which is happening here in northern Cameroon. When something happens in Europe, the news immediately spreads around the entire world. It is like an earthquake. But if people die here in Cameroon or in other African countries, it is not a big issue. Some people probably think that the victims were ‘only Africans’. And yet, today it is also often said that the world is a village. The media should exert more pressure. They have power and strength. I would like to say to the media, ‘Take a close look, no matter where something bad has happened, and report on it!’”

 

In addition to the tensions caused by terrorist attacks, a humanitarian problem also looms. Almost 80,000 refugees from Nigeria are living in a huge refugee camp in the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo. “Many of the people would like to return to their homelands, but they need safety and prospects! Many have already been there for four or five years and cannot go home,” Bishop Ateba explained. The Catholic refugees are receiving pastoral care from a Nigerian priest who speaks their language. Aid to the Church in Need gave 21,750 CAN to help build a chapel, which the bishop is very grateful for as he tells us: “Almost 5,000 Catholics are living in this camp. Two Holy Masses are being celebrated there every Sunday. Having a place of prayer sets an important sign. Thank you for helping us!”

Cameroon 4 ACN-20150408-22670 (1)

 

In addition to the Nigerian refugees, there are also over 50,000 Cameroonians from villages situated directly at the border who have fled because the situation there is particularly dangerous. Most of them have found shelter with friends, acquaintances or relatives. They are only being supported by the Catholic church. For this reason, Aid to the Church in Need provided 109,500 euros in emergency relief last year to meet the needs of those who have become homeless. The bishop himself is also poor. He lives in a small room without a bathroom. He does not even have an episcopal church. His riches are the people in his diocese.

 

However, what makes him very happy is that there is no dearth of vocations. Thirty young men from the Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo are currently preparing for the priesthood. This year, Bishop Ateba has already ordained two to the priesthood, and on All Saints’ Day he will ordain three young students to the transitional diaconate.

 

Despite it all: a ‘wonderful dialogue’

And Bishop Atebe had even more welcome news to report: he is very pleased about the “wonderful dialogue” that has opened up with Muslims, despite the problems with Boko Haram. Many Muslim children –the sons and daughters of religious leaders included – are attending Catholic schools. “The average Muslim is also against Boko Haram,” he said.

 

Each day after Holy Mass, the Catholic faithful pray that God will grant them peace. The situation has already improved a little, because Boko Haram is not carrying out as many armed military attacks in the region as before. The terrorist organization has been weakened by the joint military campaigns of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad. “However, the hope of the people is primarily rooted in their belief in God,” the bishop repeatedly emphasised. “We trust in prayer. Prayer is our strength. We pray because we need peace. And, despite the attacks, we will not stop gathering and asking God for this peace together!”

 

Aid to the Church in Need spends approximately 2.9 million CAN on aid for Cameroon each year.

 

 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

 


 

ACN Feature: Malawi – Catholic Church observes growing Islamization with concern

27.05.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, AFRIQUE, By Eva-Maria Kolmann, Malawi, Uncategorized

Malawi

Catholic Church observes growing Islamization with concern

 ACN-20160212-36399Bishop Monfort Stima spoke about the growing trend toward Islamization in the Mangochi diocese of southern Malawi while visiting the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

He did say, however, that traditional Islam is rather moderate in Malawi and has always coexisted peacefully. Furthermore, in the Mangochi diocese, which has a predominantly Muslim population, communication between the religious leaders is good. The bishop talked about the establishment of a Christian-Muslim committee that meets when there are problems and searches for solutions. However, the bishop then regretfully said that a growing radicalization has recently become apparent in the Muslim population. According to the bishop, Muslim preachers are coming into the country more frequently from Sudan. What is being  preached,is a more radical form of Islam, one which is more difficult to control. He said  these preachers were “dissatisfied” with traditional Islam and wanted to bring “true Islam” to Malawi.

Over the last few years, this new trend has already led to attacks, mostly occurring after Friday prayers. Bishop Monfort said he had asked Islamic religious leaders why this was happening. They answered that the imams were inciting the people to violence. “They said to me, ‘You have to pray for the imams because they are poorly trained.’” The bishop emphasized that even the religious leaders themselves were finding it difficult to control the imams because “anyone who has the necessary funds may build a mosque. And the person who built the mosque is also the one who controls the imam. Some villages have four mosques: a traditional one that has always been there as well as other, newly built ones.”

ACN-20151022-30810

 

According to the bishop, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that a growing number of young people are receiving scholarships to study in Sudan or Saudi Arabia and returning home radicalized.  “Furthermore,” he continued, “many Muslims have several wives, which increases the number of their children and thus the proportion of Muslims in the population. These families often cannot provide that many children with regular schooling and can only send them to the Koranic schools, the madrasahs.”

In his experience, polygamy is also a factor for the followers of traditional African religions who want to join one of the large religious communities. While the Catholic church does not accept polygamy, the people may keep this family form when converting to Islam. The bishop believes that this makes them “easier to convert”. He also said that Muslim men were being called upon to marry Christian girls because even should the wife not convert to Islam, the children would automatically be Muslim.”

ACN-20160525-41190According to Bishop Monfort, the duty of the church is to deepen the faith. “We encourage priests to be close to the people and, as Pope Francis says, to leave the sacristy. For many faithful converting to Islam is very tempting – especially when the only school in the area is a Muslim institution. They need help and encouragement.”

While, at approximately 80 percent, Malawi itself is majority Christian with Muslims making up only 13 per cent of the population, the Mangochi diocese is between 50 and 90 per cent Muslim, depending on the region. On average, Muslims make up approximately 75 per cent of the total population.

 

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canadian Office

 

 

 

 

 


YEAR OF MERCY : A MESSAGE FROM ACN’S PRESIDENT

11.12.2015 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Adaptation Mario Bard, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, AFRIQUE, Aide à l’Église en détresse., Projets pastorale, Voyager avec l’AED
Mauro cardinal Piacenza, président d'Aide à l'Église en Détresse.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, President of Aid to the Church in Need

Year of Mercy

A message to ACN benefactors from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, President of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

The symbol of hope, in heraldry too, is the anchor; but there is also another image which in some sense seems to me to be still more significant. I am thinking of the sails. The anchor holds the boat securely in the ocean, whereas the sails serve to drive it forward and to cause it to run through the sea towards the dry land. Hope is the breeze which, filling these sails, propels us forward. It was hope which, at the beginning of the Church, gave to the Christian message that extraordinary power to expand which carried it very rapidly to the ends of the earth.

 

“Dear friends,

On December 8, under the protection of the Virgin Immaculate, and together with the Holy Father and the whole Church, we have spiritually crossed over the threshold of the Holy Door and thus entered into the Holy Jubilee, the Year of Mercy.

This open Holy Door is the Door of Hope, the Door of Trust in Divine Mercy. With our crossing, we are called to forget the past and to turn our hearts forward, towards a new adventure of Grace, towards the fullness of God’s Mercy. In order for this to happen in an authentic way, we ought to seek to pass through the Holy Door after a sincere and heartfelt sacramental confession, coupled with the lively desire to embark upon the road of holiness. This holiness is a vocation written into our Baptism, through which each one of us is called to holiness. It is holiness that represents the full realization of our personality. This holiness is achieved within the context of our own personal situation, in the family, in the workplace.

Holiness is something immensely glorious, yet something extremely simple and ordinary. It means living the particular details of each day, of every circumstance, as a “vocation,” with intense love. We need to reach the point where we can allow the Lord to act within us, through us; until we’re able to say along with St Paul: “No longer I, but Christ lives in me; to me life is Christ.”

To hope, to hope always, to begin again to hope after the umpteenth disappointment, to hope that tomorrow will be better, even after it has on so many occasions been worse, to absorb all the apparent denials, just as the earth absorbs the heavy rain – this is truly great and reveals the omnipotence of Divine Grace. The symbol of hope, in heraldry too, is the anchor; but there is also another image which in some sense seems to me to be still more significant. I am thinking of the sails. The anchor holds the boat securely in the ocean, whereas the sails serve to drive it forward and to cause it to run through the sea towards the dry land. Hope is the breeze which, filling these sails, propels us forward. It was hope which, at the beginning of the Church, gave to the Christian message that extraordinary power to expand which carried it very rapidly to the ends of the earth. Our charity also lives completely on hope. When, for example, many project applications arrive, we must hope that our benefactors will help us fulfill so many hopes.

This world is starved of hope and will listen to a message to the extent that it is capable of offering it genuine hope. We Christians are responsible for the hope that has been given to us; for this hope we must be ready to give reason and not merely lip service.

We must be heralds of hope, passing it on to others; just as the faithful do in their processions when they pass the blessed water from hand to hand, so too we must pass this divine hope from heart to heart. For indeed, there are many things we can live without, but we cannot live without hope.

Christian hope is an active hope, full of things to do while we wait: to watch, to grow in love towards all. For this reason it is like yeast and salt in the dough of this world. To the Christ who is coming we must go forward with good works, with works of mercy, with the lighted lamp of faith. In good works Christ has already come. Hence we must focus on Him, and on all the rest only in relation to Him, in view of Him!

Dearest Friends, I pray that through the intercession of Mary, the Beloved Mother of the Redeemer, you may be able to grow each day of this Jubilee year in trust in the infinite Mercy of God, and that we all overflow the whole world with joy, every person and environment that we know, because there’s more joy in giving than in receiving. And with this thought I’d like to send you my warmest greetings.

May God bless you and the Virgin protect you!

Goodbye!”

Share with your social network here.

 

 

Feature story – ACN rebuilds in Cameroon

27.11.2015 in Adaptation Mario Bard, AFRIQUE, Aide à l’Église en détresse., By Maria Lozano, Cameroon, Nigeria, Voyager avec l’AED

Cameroon/Nigeria

ACN rebuilds following the destruction of Boko Haram

In 2014 the Jihadist group, Boko Haram, came to worldwide attention when it kidnapped 276 female students, aged 16 to 18, in Nigeria. The hashtag trended globally, with 2.3 million tweets, including postings by leaders like First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

The kidnapping, as terrible as it was, was only one incident in Boko Haram’s long reign of terror. In the past six years Boko Haram’s raids on villages in Nigeria and neighbouring countries have displaced 2.1 million people from their homes; 1.4 million of these were children, according to UNICEF.  Many have fled from the northern Nigerian territories once controlled by Boko Haram into the interior of Cameroon.  Vast numbers of Cameroon’s own citizens, especially those along its frontier with Nigeria, have been displaced as well.

The group’s name, Boko Haram, means loosely “Western education is sinful.” The group’s targeting of schools, as in the case of the #BringBackOurGirls kidnapping, has been particularly devastating to Cameroon’s efforts to educate its children. Many schools in areas preyed upon by Boko Haram have simply been abandoned. In September of 2014, when students would normally be returning to school, 173 primary and secondary schools did not open their doors, leaving 25,000 students without a place to be educated.

Many of those students have moved into the Maroua-Mokolo diocese. This has created an enormous need for additional resources to be devoted to education.

 

Maroua Mokolo: Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo (Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo ) and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme (from the diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria) at a camp for refugees and displaced people

Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo (Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo ) and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme (from the diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria) at a camp for refugees and displaced people

Education is an expression of Christ’s love

Under the leadership of Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo, and his Vicar General, Monsignor Gilbert Damba, the Maroua-Mokolo diocese is responding. With support from the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), this year the Maroua-Mokolo diocese will pay school fees and provide school supplies for 1,000 displaced children. These children are being selected from among those in greatest need. Half of these scholarship students will be girls.

Other support will be extended as well, including the establishment for the children of official documents like birth certificates. Psychological counseling will be provided for those who have been most traumatized. These diocesan scholarship students will be spread over about fifty elementary and secondary schools, with each student attending the school closest to him or her.

The Maroua-Mokolo diocese will be enlarging facilities at its Catholic schools as well, building five new classrooms.  The displaced children’s program of the Maroua-Mokolo diocese is demonstrating that education is an expression of Christ’s love for each child, each person.  ACN has given $108,000 to help with the realization for this love.

 

By Harold Fickett / Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

François en Centrafrique : journée de prière

19.11.2015 in Adaptation Mario Bard, AED Canada, AFRIQUE, Aide à l’Église en détresse., Centrafrique, Communiqué, Pape François, Prière

République centrafricaine 

Ce serait un drame si le Pape ne pouvait pas venirCentral African Republic - Project trip November 2015

 

Aide à l’Église en Détresse (AED) appelle ses bienfaiteurs à prier,
ce dimanche 22 novembre, pour la venue du Pape et ce,
en dépit des dernières violences.

 

Les 29 et 30 novembre, le Pape François doit se rendre en Centrafrique mais la reprise des violences à Bangui depuis le 29 octobre dernier pourrait annuler son voyage. Pour les Centrafricains, ce serait un drame de plus. Consciente de cet enjeu, l’AED lance une journée mondiale de prière le dimanche 22 novembre à midi pour le rétablissement de la paix dans le pays et la venue du Pape.

 

Une délégation de l’AED, qui revient de Bangui, témoigne des violences qui se poursuivent à Bangui. « Nous avons assisté à un véritable exode, le jour où les violences reprenaient dans l’un des quartiers (Cattin). Les gens fuyaient avec tout ce qu’ils pouvaient, tandis que d’autres pillaient ce qu’il restait des maisons abandonnées. » Le jour de la Toussaint, le curé de la paroisse St Joseph de Mukassa a, quant à lui, vu son église se vider des trois quart de ses paroissiens.

 

Au milieu de ces violences, l’attente du Pape se fait de plus en plus grande, « les yeux du monde vont être enfin tournés vers la Centrafrique » expliquent les habitants.

 Voici quelques témoignages de ceux et celles qui attendent cette visite avec impatience. 

 

Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archevêque de Bangui. « C'est le pape des pauvres qui vient visiter les pauvres. »

Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archevêque de Bangui. « C’est le pape des pauvres qui vient visiter les pauvres. »

Pour Mgr Dieudonné Nzapalainga, archevêque de Bangui  : « Nous attendons de cette venue un message de paix, de réconciliation et surtout de miséricorde. C’est le Pape des pauvres qui vient visiter les pauvres. La Centrafrique est un pays pauvre, un pays oublié, un pays démuni, un pays abandonné.»

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soeur Prisca, paroisse Notre-Dame d'Afrique, Bangui. « La venue du pape peut nous apporter un témoignage de paix. »

Soeur Prisca, paroisse Notre-Dame d’Afrique, Bangui. « La venue du pape peut nous apporter un témoignage de paix. »

Sœur Prisca, religieuse de la paroisse Notre-Dame d’Afrique à Bangui, témoigne  : « Notre pays a beaucoup souffert ces trois dernières années. La venue du Pape François peut nous apporter un témoignage de paix, c’est ce que le peuple centrafricain attend. J’attends aussi qu’il nous invite, nous personnes consacrées, à aller davantage porter la bonne nouvelle à ceux qui massacrent leurs frères et sœurs, à aller parler de paix et de réconciliation. »

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian, président du comité paroissial St Sauveur : « Ce que nous attendons de la venue du Pape, c’est qu’il apporte une cohésion sociale entre chrétiens et musulmans. Nous aimerions nous, jeunes centrafricains, pouvoir accéder au développement de la République centrafricaine. »

 

Pour Christine du Coudray, responsable des projets de l’AED en Afrique, la visite du pape est d’une importance capitale. « Ce serait un drame si la visite du Pape François était annulée. Ce serait une humiliation pour le pays et pour son peuple. La République centrafricaine est un pays oublié. La population est en proie à la violence depuis des années. Il est capital que le Pape vienne et mette fin au cycle de violence. Le Pape représente pour les chrétiens et même les musulmans l’espoir d’un avenir meilleur.»

 

Pour Mgr Franco Coppola, le Nonce apostolique à Bangui : « Le Saint Père veut, à travers cette visite, rappeler au monde entier la difficulté dans laquelle se trouve la Centrafrique, qui essaie de toutes ses forces de s’en sortir.»

 

 L’Église catholique joue un rôle crucial auprès de la population chrétienne ( 66 %) mais aussi musulmane « Sans l’Église, la situation serait beaucoup moins stable. Mgr Nzapalainga est une figure d’autorité charismatique et respectée. Nous avons vu comment il parvient à calmer la situation dans les zones de conflit. », poursuit Christine du Coudray.  Les prêtres et les religieux sont aussi très appréciés des chrétiens comme des musulmans, car ils restent fidèles auprès de la population malgré le danger.

 

L’AED a versé plus de 2,9 millions de dollars canadiens en Centrafrique depuis 2013, notamment pour aider les déplacés (près du quart de la population du pays, soit 1 million).

 

Prière à Notre-Dame d'Afrique

Prière à Notre-Dame d’Afrique

À midi le 22 novembre prochain, les 600 000 bienfaiteurs et amis de l’AED sont appelés à se joindre
à la Journée mondiale de prière pour la venue du Pape en Centrafrique en lisant cette prière :

PRIÈRE POUR LA VISITE DU PAPE FRANÇOIS EN CENTRAFRIQUE

 

Seigneur notre Dieu, nous te rendons grâce,

Pour le Pape François qui viendra en Centrafrique.

Guide ses pas sur les chemins du monde et de notre pays.

Inspire toutes ses paroles et ses actions.

Pour qu’il annonce à toutes les nations ton amour et ta miséricorde.

Dieu de Miséricorde, dans toutes nos souffrances, tu as eu pitié de nous ;

Et tu envoies le Pape François pour nous manifester ton amour.

Aide-nous à suivre le chemin des vrais chrétiens qu’il nous enseigne.

Libère nos cœurs de l’orgueil et de la méchanceté,

Pour que nous suivions ensemble le chemin de la paix.

Dieu de Paix, toi qui protège tes serviteurs,

Fais que la visite du Pape François dans notre pays,

Donne une nouvelle vigueur aux Evêques et aux autorités de notre pays ;

Donne une nouvelle sagesse aux enfants, aux jeunes, aux hommes et aux femmes.

Pour que nous œuvrions ensemble pour l’épanouissement de notre Église et de notre pays.

Sainte Marie, toi qui est une bonne Mère de Famille ;

Prie pour les pères et les mères qui sont les chefs de familles :

Pour qu’ils donnent une bonne éducation à leurs enfants.

Nos familles deviendront alors des familles de paix ;

Et nous pourrons accueillir le pape François dans la joie et la paix.

Nous te le demandons,

Par ton Fils Jésus Christ, notre Seigneur !

Amen