The Prince of Wales Christmas message for persecuted Christians

HRH The Prince of Wales has recorded a Christmas video message for Aid to the Church in Need specifically aimed at persecuted Christians, assuring them of his thoughts and prayers over the festive season. 

Mission Bethlehem (Misión Belén): Being family for those who have no family.

In the city of São Paulo there are over 25,000 people living on the streets. They are our “brothers and sisters of the streets”, to borrow the phrase used by the missionaries of the Bethlehem Mission (Misión Belén), a mission outreach founded in 2005 by Fr Gianpietro Carraro and Sister Cacilda da Silva Leste. The charism of the community consists in living out the reality of that first Christmas night and “becoming incarnate in the midst of the poor, so that God can reach them in a more profound manner”.

The members of the Bethlehem Mission originally began their work by actually living on the streets with the poor. But soon they realised that what was needed was to give these people shelter, and so began their work of welcome, rescuing the men and women, children and old people living on the streets… And this, in most cases, at the same time involved rescuing them from a life marked by drugs, violence and abuse.

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A former homeless shaving another homeless welcomed in Missão Belém. Photographer: Erica Viana. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Pakistan – Parents of Abducted Christian Girl, Huma Younas, Threatened by her Abductor.

“If you don’t stop trying to find your daughter, we will accuse you of blasphemy.” These are the threats made by the abductor, Abdul Jabbar, to the parents and the lawyer representing Huma Younas, the Christian girl he himself has abducted. Her case has been brought to the notice of ACN International by her family’s lawyer, Tabassum Yousaf.

This is the most recent development in the dramatic story of the 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted in Karachi, Pakistan on October 10 this year, forcibly converted to Islam and forced to marry her Muslim abductor, Abdul Jabbar.

Venezuela: “We priests also feel tempted to leave.”

Father Ángel Colmenares works in a very poor parish in Catia La Mar on the central coast of Venezuela. The crisis in Venezuela has many faces. Among them are the faces of a small part of the population that is hardly ever mentioned in the news and reports coming from the South American country, namely those of the priests and other members of the clergy. The Venezuelan Church, just like the rest of society, is suffering. However, it is hard to believe that people who give so much to others and in particular to those most in need should also be suffering from a lack of everything: food, medicine, etc.

“I teach at a school and have taken over the pastoral care at a hospital so that I at least have the bare necessities for survival. I also lecture at the seminary. This barely keeps me afloat,” said Fr Ángel Colmenares, a young priest from the diocese of La Guaira on the central coast of Venezuela. “In these critical times, temptation is everywhere. The worst temptation is to get used to these circumstances, to start believing that ‘times are bad, and so there is nothing I can do.’”

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Lebanese prelates are concerned about Christian emigration

—Doreen Abi Raad

AS ANTI-GOVERNMENT PROTESTS continue in Lebanon, the country’s economic crisis has worsened. Banks have imposed restrictions on withdrawals and transfers, the currency has devalued and many people are losing jobs. Financial despair has driven at least three Lebanese to commit suicide.

 A growing number of Christians are contemplating emigration, just as happened during Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), when thousands of Lebanese Christians left for the West.

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Rai said Dec. 6: “Some embassies, which I will not name now, are facilitating the issue of emigration, as if it is a second war to empty Lebanon of its people and Christians.” Aid to the Church in Need spoke about the situation in Lebanon with Melkite Archbishop Georges Bacouni of Beirut. He said:

“We are living like in an earthquake. We’re facing enormous economic problems, including a failing banking system. Since the protests begun, many more people have lost their jobs, and now some are getting only half of their salary. This has a huge impact on families.

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Archbishop Georges Bacouni of the Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Beirut and Jbeil in Lebanon

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