Press Release – For Immediate Release
One in three dioceses and one in eight priests in the world have benefitted from ACN assistance
During the 2021 fiscal year, the international Catholic charity and Pontifical Charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) received over 197.4 million dollars in donations (187.7 in 2020) to support persecuted and suffering Christians around the world. “In Canada, we raised just over 2.2 million dollars in 2021,” says Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of ACN Canada. “Our work is gaining more and more recognition. Red Wednesday and the One Million Children Pray the Rosary campaigns are also very popular with benefactors and other supporters of ACN. We thank benefactors who believe in both the charity’s pastoral mission and need to support dioceses suffering from poverty or persecution around the world.”
ACN’s annual figures, which were approved by the Supervisory Board on June 15 in Rome, show the support for poor or persecuted Christian communities by the Pontifical Charity around the world. “In 2021, the generosity of our benefactors in more than 23 countries made it possible for ACN to support programs totalling 157 million dollars. We can only thank them on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters for this exceptional support during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are confident that God will richly reward them for their help,” said Executive President Thomas Heine-Geldern.
Of this total amount, 137.6 million dollars (87.6%) went towards the funding of 5,298 projects in 132 countries around the world in which the Church suffers from persecution or extreme poverty. A further 19.4 million dollars (12.4%) were used to fulfil ACN’s information, advocacy, and prayer mission, for example during 2021’s annual Red Week—an international week to raise awareness of the persecution of Christians around the world—or the production and distribution of the Religious Freedom Report. Additionally, a surplus of 6.8 million dollars from 2021 was carried over to fund projects in 2022.
Of the 190.6 million dollars in expenses, 12.7 million dollars (6.7%) were dedicated to administration costs and 20.9 million dollars (10.9%) towards donor relations and fundraising.
Africa, Asia, and the Middle East in the lead
The devastating effects of the pandemic in many developing countries demanded a robust response from ACN, with COVID-19-related projects accounting for 14.3 million dollars of the 2021 budget. India, which was especially hard-hit by the virus, tops the list in terms of total amount dispensed for projects, with over 17.2 million dollars. The Asian state was followed by Ukraine, Lebanon, Syria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In terms of regions, Africa stands out, having received 30.7% of the project aid, with Asia and Oceania placing second (22.3%). In the Middle East (16.9%), ACN pursued its commitment, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, where the charity invested in projects aimed at helping Christians stay in their homelands despite persecution, war, and economic crises.
In line with ACN’s pastoral mission, the funding includes the formation of priests and religious, means of transportation, for example all-terrain vehicles or boats for remote parishes, and the construction and renovation of churches. In 2021, ACN supported the procurement of 1,338 vehicles and contributed to the building of 307 churches, 157 monasteries and novitiates, 295 pastoral centres, and 52 seminaries.
One in eight priests supported by ACN
Another significant means of support is the distribution of financial aid to priests serving in poor communities. A total of 52,879 priests in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East received support in the form of mass offerings. These numbers mean that approximately one in eight priests in the world benefitted from this aid, but also that every 15 seconds, a mass is celebrated somewhere in the world for the intentions of ACN benefactors who make this work possible.
Formation remains a cornerstone of the charity’s support. In 2021, ACN funded the training of 13,381—or one in eight—seminarians in the world. Since 2004, it has supported 237,353 seminarians.
One in every three dioceses
In 2021, ACN ran projects in a total of 1,181 dioceses. Considering that the Church recognises 3,026 ecclesiastical territories, this means that the pontifical charity directly helped one in every three Catholic dioceses in the world.
“From Albania to Zimbabwe, ACN continues to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of Christians all over the world. These communities are a source of inspiration for us, in the way they live out their faith, despite the poverty, difficulties and often the outright persecution they suffer. Thanks to the enormous generosity and help of our benefactors, we can support and sustain them materially,” says Mr. Heine-Geldern.
“In our work last year, we were profoundly conscious of the workings of Divine Providence which, in the midst of growing global uncertainty, opened the hearts of our benefactors ever wider.”
“In 2021, as in previous years, Ukraine was one of the countries that benefitted most from ACN funding. The fact that we had so many projects and partners on the ground allowed us to respond immediately with aid in 2022, when the war started. ACN will continue to work, wherever it can, to help Christians who need assistance, so long as our benefactors continue to trust us with their donations and support,” he added.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), founded in the wake of World War II to help Christian refugees from Eastern Europe, now has offices in 23 countries and serves persecuted and other suffering Christians all over the world.