Dear friends, 

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a devastating affect on the Church in Need who have been made even more vulnerable by the virus and the restrictions that have had to be put in place as a result. Here are three messages speaking about the situation of the priests in poor diocese around the world. Poor priests and their Bishops are asking for Mass stipends to ensure they can continue their ministry.

A letter from the Diocese of Tenkodogo, BURKINA FASO

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: “We thought it would be necessary to ask you if it would be possible to obtain Mass stipends. As you know everywhere, masses are suspended, which means that Christians no longer ask for Masses while the priests live on stipends. Currently, in the parishes of the diocese Christians no longer ask for Masses since Christians are confined to their homes to prevent the spread of the disease. We are trying with the cathedral parish to broadcast Sunday Mass but despite our advertisements to ask Christians to ask for masses, the people are not responding. Without forgetting that the diocese does not have a radio station and retransmissions on local radios are expensive.” 

Coronavirus: Christians in the Holy Land paying a heavy price

by Christophe Lafontaine.

Because of the COVID-19 epidemic and confinement measures, pilgrims are staying away from the Holy Land. The streets of Jerusalem will certainly be quite empty at Easter. ACN International looks at the situation and relays the calls to pray for local Christians. The cancellation of pilgrimages will have serious repercussions on the tourism industry on which many Christian families in Israel and the Palestinian Territories depend.

Iraq: Batnaya is back

Catholic charity to help rebuild flattened Christian village

by John Pontifex.

A massive programme has just received the go-ahead to help revive a Christian village in Iraq, which was almost completely razed to the ground after being seized by Daesh (ISIS).

The plan for Batnaya devised by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will involve restoring the Chaldean Catholic village’s parish church of St Kyriakos, repairing the nearby Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the parish hall, library and parish house (presbytery), as well rebuilding the flattened St Oraha’s Dominican Convent and the kindergarten, which the Sisters will run, caring for 125 children.

ACN 20200212 97001 Easy Resize

Reconstruction of St Kiryakos Church in Batnaya. Photos showing the destruction and damage of the Church after ISIS attacks and liberation.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

ASIA BIBI: Encounter with an icon

While in France, Asia Bibi has requested political asylum. This Pakistani Christian woman, whose fate ACN has followed closely since she was first sentenced in 2010, recently gave an interview with the French national office of ACN.

Quite obviously, Asia Bibi is tired. Interviews and official meetings have taken up the few days she has spent in France. Nonetheless, she manages to smile for the photographers with their constantly clicking cameras and valiantly consents to the long succession of interviews. “It is thanks to the media that I am still alive”, she insists.

ACN 20200226 97604 Easy ResizeAsia Bibi in Paris, February 26 2020.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Burkina Faso - Armed Group Massacre 24 People including Catholic catechist

This is a brief news update with information that we have received from our local partners regarding the attack in Pansi in Yagha province (Burkina Faso). The news reports have been quite confusing with some incorrect information being published however, we can confirm the following:

On Sunday, February 16th, around 6 am, a big number of armed individuals (around 30 people) burst into Pansi, surrounded the village and began to search house after house, taking money and clothes.

After that, they grouped the men in lots of 10 and made them lie down on the floor. In an attempt to survive, some of them began to run. This limited the number of those killed to 24, including one Catholic catechist.

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