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In a Rio Favela, 12-year-old Girl has Bullet-Proof Faith

Brazil, Rio LAÍS MARIA PEREIRA da Silva, 12, was born and raised in a part of Rio de Janeiro called Complexo da Maré, which comprises one of the biggest set of favelas—or shanty towns—in this Brazilian mega-city: Lais in front of home ©Aid to the Church in Need

LAÍS MARIA PEREIRA da Silva, 12, was born and raised in a part of Rio de Janeiro called Complexo da Maré , which comprises one of the biggest set of favelas—or shanty towns—in this Brazilian mega-city. Despite her youth, this girl is already well acquainted with violence, despair, and death. Her part of town is home to 17 separate communities with a total of 130,000 inhabitants. In addition to horrible living conditions—where a piece of bread often makes up a meal—the people live under the constant threat of violence. The favelas of Rio are controlled by various criminal factions that each run drugs through the alleys that make up the neighborhood infrastructures that serve as closely-guarded transportation networks. Complexo da Maré is among the most dangerous areas in the city because it is run by two major criminal groups, Comando Vermelho (“Red Command”) and Terceiro Comando Puro (“Pure Third Command”), with each dominating opposite sides of the area. They are engaged in a constant battle in efforts to expand their respective territory. Laĺs lives in a favela called Baixa do Sapateiro, on a street called Divisa Street, which means border—and the street got its name precisely because it marks the border between the territories controlled by the two criminal organizations. "They stay in the alleys, exchanging gun fire. We have to lay down on the floor in our homes because no room is secure. The shots come from the front and from behind,” says Viviane Pereira, another resident of Complexo da Maré.

“Bishop Romero was a student of Paul VI. It is significant that they are being canonised together”

Trip to El Salvador of Rafael D´Aqui and Jaques Berset March 2014 Sister Ana of the Community Communio Sanctorum and Mgr. Miguel Angel Moran Aquino (Bishop of San Miguel) in front of the Statue of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Mozote © Aid to the Church in Need

“Bishop Romero was a student of Paul VI. It is significant that they are being canonised together,” says Cardinal Rosa Chávez In order to properly understand the miraculous significance of the canonisation of the Blessed Paul VI and the Blessed Bishop Romero, it helps to go back in time several decades. A young seminarian from El Salvador by the name of Oscar Arnulfo Romero came to Rome in 1937 to continue his theological studies in the Italian capital. He received his licentiate degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1943. He was also ordained to the priesthood in Rome. During his years in Rome, Romero met Giovanni Batista Montini, then a monsignor, who was one of his professors. One of Montini’s primary concerns was helping the poor. At the time, no one would have thought that 30 years later, Montini, then Pope Paul VI, would appoint Oscar Romero Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador and in 1977 Archbishop of the same diocese. And no one could have known that several decades later, they were destined to be united once more – and for nothing less than their inclusion in the canon of saints. Pope Francis signed the decree for both canonisations in March.

"My Mother Was Killed By a Terrorist When She Was Helping Him"

Egypt, Cairo 2018 Nesma (13) and her sister Karen (8). They lost her mother during an attack in December 2017 © Aid to the Church in Need

Testimony of the daughter of one of the victims of the attacks in Cairo last December. Gunmen attacked worshippers leaving a Coptic Orthodox church on the southern outskirts of Cairo on Dec. 29, 2017. Subsequently claimed by ISIS, the assault—which took place some 10 minutes after the conclusion of Mass at St. Mina Church—killed nine people. One of the victims was a young mother, Nermeen Sadiq. Her 13-year-old daughter Nesma Wael was at her side when she was shot. Nesma gave the following account of the ordeal to the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need.

Bishops: President Should Resign for Inaction over Nigeria’s ‘Killing Fields and Mass Graveyard’

Nigeria, April 2018. Mrs Blessing Stephen (left) with Goodwin, Emmanuelle, Miracle, Father Alexander Yeyock, Mrs Evelyn Martins and son, Humble, Asso village. © Aid to the Church in Need

Bishops: President should resign for inaction over Nigeria’s ‘killing fields and mass graveyard’

Nigeria’s bishops have issued a formal statement calling on the President to “consider stepping aside” and accusing the government of security failures which they blame for the murder of 17 Christians including two priests.

Father Joseph Gor, Father Felix Tyolaha and 15 parishioners were killed during a funeral Mass in Mbalom, Benue State by gunmen, with reports that about 30 Fulani militants waited for the faithful to gather at the church before attacking. They also burned down about 50 homes in the area. Condemning the “rampaging and murderous terrorists”, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) issued a formal statement, asking: “…how can the federal government stand back while its security agencies deliberately turn a blind eye to the cries and wails of helpless and armless citizens who remain sitting ducks in their homes, farms, highway and now, even in their sacred places of worship?”

The Eleven of Marmarita: Young Volunteers Coordinate Aid for 2,000 Families

Syria March 2018 The group of volunteers with Father Walid Iskandafy in Marmarita, Valley of the Christians © Aid to the Church in Need

The eleven of Marmarita: young volunteers coordinate aid for 2,000 families displaced by the war in Syria Several of the volunteers are themselves displaced persons, but do not hesitate to help others: “What motivates us is Jesus” ACN (Josué Villalón, Marmarita). Eleven young people make up the team of volunteers of the parish centre of St. Peter, the Greek Catholic church in Marmarita, which is located in the heart of the Valley of Christians, a region in Syria close to the Lebanese border. Many of the people in this region were displaced by the war and came here from all over Syria: Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, etc. This team of volunteer workers coordinates the distribution of the aid that is donated to about 2,000 families each month by the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

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