The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.
In 2016, international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has once again raised a record total in donations. Last year, ACN brought in close to $(US)148M, topping the 2015 total by $(US)5.7M. This was the highest total ever raised in a year. The funds helped finance 5,303 projects in 148 countries.
More than a quarter of the grants were awarded for projects located in Africa, where the Church continues to grow. The African continent accounts for more than a third of all grant applications.
Countries located in the Saharan zone receive particular attention, as do northern Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, all of which are countries where an aggressive form of Islam has been spreading.
Just behind funding for Africa came emergency and subsistence aid for Church communities in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity. This support is vital for ensuring the survival of Christianity in the region. In the Middle East, Iraq and Syria received the most aid in 2016 due to the volatile political situation in these two nations.
(Seminarians of The Good Shepherd Major Seminary in Kaduna, Nigeria who receive support from ACN © Aid to the Church in Need)
More than $(US)66M have flowed into the crisis areas in the Middle East since 2011. This aid is expected to continue to grow exponentially in 2017 as ACN has launched a multi-million campaign to help displaced Christians return to their homes in areas newly liberated from the grip of ISIS.
As in the preceding years, the majority of the total aid was earmarked for rebuilding projects, which accounted for 30 percent of all spending; next came emergency aid for the Middle East and subsistence aid for women religious, as well as support for pastoral formation: some 30,000 catechists and pastoral agents around the world were among recipients of support.
In Central and Eastern Europe, the focus of the aid is shifting from building projects to training and ongoing education for religious men and women. The Balkan countries have moved to the centre of attention in this part of the world, due to the rise of radical forms of Islam in this region. Construction and repair of 1,200 chapels, churches, cathedrals and seminaries all over the world were financed in part by ACN, mostly in regions hard hit by natural disasters. One third of the building projects were in Africa.
Every ninth priest (or 43,015 priests in total) received help in the form of Mass offerings, especially in Africa (14,403) and Asia (11,293). That meant that every 22 seconds Mass was celebrated somewhere in the world for the intentions of ACN donors. Aid was approved for 10,760 seminarians, a number equivalent to every eleventh seminarian worldwide. Most of them were preparing for the priesthood in Africa (4,667), Latin America (2,900) and Eastern Europe (1,577).
Training and/or subsistence aid was granted to 11,080 women religious, or every 62nd sister worldwide. In 2015, only every 67th sister received aid. In most cases, the help was in the form of subsistence aid for members of contemplative orders for women. Further funding was granted for the purchase of 375 cars, 149 motorcycles and 239 bicycles as well as two boats.
Aid to the Church in Need conducts fundraising through a network of national offices in 23 countries worldwide.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
While ACN gives full permission for the media to freely make use of the charity’s press releases, please acknowledge ACN as the source of stories when using the material.
For more information or to make a donation to help the work of Aid to the Church in Need, please contact the Australian office of ACN on (02) 9679-1929. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Aid to the Church in Need PO Box 7246 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153.
On Line donations can be made at www.aidtochurch.org