Pope Francis blesses 6,000 rosaries for Syria

As part of a spiritual initiative by ACN to comfort the grieving.

On 15 August, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Francis, during the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square, blessed 6,000 rosaries destined for Syria. They will be given to people in Syria who have had relatives or family members abducted or murdered during the civil war. This is part of an ecumenical initiative of the international Catholic charity and pontifical foundation "Aid to the Church in Need" (ACN) together with Catholic and Orthodox churches in the country. "The rosaries, made on the initiative of ACN, are a sign of my closeness to our brothers and sisters in Syria," Pope Francis said. "We continue to pray the Rosary for peace in the Middle East and around the world."

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Executive President of Aid to the Church in Need Thomas Heine-Geldern showing Pope Francis a pair of rosary beads that will be sent to Syria to comfort the Christians there who have lost loved ones due to the civil war.
Credit: Servizio Fotographico - Vatican Media

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In some parts of the world going to Sunday Mass requires great faith – as it can cost you your life.

For Catherine Ibrahim from northern Nigeria, one trip to the church resulted in tragedy for her family. The Islamist militants Boko Haram attacked her village during Sunday Mass, killing dozens of people and torching houses and the church. Her husband was brutally murdered in front of her and her children captured. Thankfully, she survived and was eventually reunited with her children. Shockingly, this is becoming the norm for so many Christians living in the region. The violence has left more than 15,000 orphans, 5,000 widows and 2 million internal refugees.

Hundreds march in Solidarity for Bishops amidst Sedition Complaint

On July 31, the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan organized a Mass and a candle-lighting ceremony to express solidarity for the faithful leaders accused of inciting sedition, cyber libel, libel, and obstruction of justice. Involved in the sedition charge are the Vice President of the Philippines and 35 others, including four bishops and several priests. The bishops cited include Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of ACN Philippines and Member of the Supervisory Board of the International Foundation and retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani,  Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao and Bishop Pablo David of Caloocan.

Held at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Dagupan, hundreds of people marched in prayer after Mass on Wednesday in support of Archbishop Villegas and the other three bishops innocently charged.

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Solidarity march for the Filipino bishops charged with sedition complaints by the Philippine national police:
Archbishop Socrates Villegas (ACN Philippines President) with people during the march. They are demanding "Justice for Father Soc!"
Photographer: ACN Philippines. 
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

“Religious fundamentalism places Christians on the fringes of society”

Archbishop reports on the current situation in the Holy Land

Pierbattista Pizzaballa has already spent more than three decades of his life in the Holy Land. In 2016, the Franciscan was made Archbishop and Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In an interview with Daniele Piccini while visiting ACN Germany, the archbishop recently explained why current international political decisions exacerbate the conflict in the Holy Land and why the Church is relying on the power of small steps.

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Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land) during Abu Dhabi conference on human fraternity. 
Photographer: Oliver Maksan. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Bishop in Central African Republic: violence is not driven by Muslim-Christian conflict

Various media reports suggest that the ongoing crisis in Central African Republic (CAR) is caused by a Muslim-Christian conflict or even Islamist efforts to subdue Christians. That is not the case, said one of the country’s prominent Catholic leaders. The ongoing bloodshed, said Bishop Nestor Nongo-Aziagba of Bossangoa, president of the CAR bishops’ conference, is the result of economic exploitation—the pursuit by both state and non-state actors of the country’s rich diamond and gold deposits. “Let us not use religion to cover up exploitation,” he said speaking  with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) during a recent visit to Washington, D.C, where he attended the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom which brought together some 1,000 religious leaders  and representatives of government and non-governmental organizations, including ACN.

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Bishop Nestor Nongo-Aziagba of Bossangoa in CAR for priestly and diaconate ordinations in Ibadan, Nigeria (July 2014)
Photographer: Diocese of Bossangoa, CAR. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

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