India: Religious minorities worried about election results

The parliamentary elections in India ended a few days ago. The nationalist ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprisingly won the world's largest democratic election - nearly 900 million voters. According to a source close to the Church, “the victory of Modi is a source of frustration and fear to the minorities in India.”

“The five years with Narendra Modi in power have brought many concerns and been extremely difficult for us. We are fearful that the next five years to come will be still worse.” This was the reaction of one source who spoke to the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation ACN, but who prefers to remain anonymous for reasons of security.

Modi

Above - Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

“The fact that the Hindu nationalist BJP party has won so overwhelmingly is a warning signal for us, since it shows that Hindu nationalism is growing and the minorities – both the Christians and the Muslims – often find ourselves abandoned in the face of social injustice and discriminated against even quite openly for religious reasons. But also because the Indian economy has been going downhill in recent years and the poor are now even poorer than before. The poorest classes are being overlooked and the rich are the only ones who have benefited”, the same source explained.

Tunisia: Our mission here is to bear witness

The ancient city of Carthage, in the era of the Phoenicians – where modern Tunis stands today – was the city that saw the greatest number of martyrs of the Church after Rome. Now, in the 21st century, it has become a “very fragile” Church, according to Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi of Tunis. He was speaking in an interview with Maria Lozano, during a visit to the international headquarters of the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International).

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Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi from Tunisia during his visit at ACN in Königstein 10.05.2019
Photographer: Maria Lozano. Copyright Status: Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Year in Review: ACN raises over $175M to Help Persecuted, Suffering Church around the World

THROUGH ITS 23 national offices, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) raised over AUD $175M in donations in 2018. The organization’s more than 330,000 donors enabled ACN to fund more than 5,000 pastoral projects to support the persecuted and suffering Church in 139 countries.

The resources raised, thanks to the generous donations of its more than 330,000 private benefactors around the world, have enabled the charity to fund no fewer than 5,019 pastoral projects in some 139 different countries.

“We are deeply moved by the generosity of our benefactors all over the world”, commented Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International, at the formal presentation of the charity’s Annual Report. “Once again their sacrifices and their faith have moved mountains!”

Bernard Toutounji, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Australia added: "I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to every benefactor; those who sent $5 and those who sent $5000. This work of ours, in support of the suffering Church, is not (and never has been) just about raising money. ACN brings into one spiritual family, those who support the projects and those who receive the help. We pray every day for our benefactors, and we give thanks especially for the way they have responded and continue to respond. Together we are keeping the faith alive."

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Children from the parish of Preketé in Benin had been baptised by Mgr Paul K. Vieira during his last visit. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

DRC: “What ACN offers, no other organization does”

An interview with Christine du Coudray by Maria Lozano.

On her return from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she visited the Catholic dioceses of the Kasai region, Christine du Coudray, ACN’s section heads for this country, reported on the situation in the region and gave her impressions.

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Christine du Coudray with Bishop Emery Kibal, Photographer/Author: Emeric Fohlen. Copyright Status: Copyright: Author/Aid to the Church in Need

Can you give us a description of the overall situation in the country?

This was the first time I had visited the Kasai region of this immense country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, four times the size of France in area. You’re walking on land rich in mineral wealth of every kind – diamonds, gold, minerals of all kinds, petroleum and so forth, yet the infrastructure is wrecked. This particular region, which I spent two weeks travelling, is particularly isolated, and some areas are isolated enclaves. In the country as a whole, the state of the roads, where they exist at all, is catastrophic, but I really found this particular region to be in a state of complete desolation...

Religious Persecution: “Our silence is our shame”

Interview with Mark Riedemann, 03.06.2019 UN Commemoration Religious Persecution by Maria Lozano.

On May 28, 2019 the UN General Assembly passed a resolution establishing August 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief. The proposed observance was tabled by Poland with the support the United States, Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need, serving the suffering and persecuted Christians for over 70 years, welcomes this resolution as a first step towards drawing greater attention to the as yet under recognized tragedy of religious persecution – particularly that of violence against Christians, to date the largest faith group experiencing persecution for religious belief. Maria Lozano interviewed Mark Riedemann, Aid to the Church in Need’s Director of Public Affairs and Religious Freedom.

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