Ukraine – priests among those most at risk of infection needing protection against Coronavirus

Fresh aid package from ACN for priests and religious in Ukraine

Although the initial wave of alarm has faded, the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away. In the countries of Central and Eastern Europe official figures for the number of people infected are relatively low; however the real numbers are much higher, given that these countries do not have access to reliable testing methods. In Ukraine the healthcare system is altogether inadequate, and most of the patients themselves have to bring in their own medicines, bandage material and basic medical equipment when they go into hospital.

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Ukraine 2020 - Father Mikolay Leskiv celebrating Holy Mass during COVID-19 in a nearly empty church (due to quarantine) which started on 16 March. He wrote to ACN: “All protective measures, starting with masks and gloves and ending with liquids, have been increased tenfold since the beginning of quarantine...I have also purchased masks for church services and for the faithful who could not buy them."
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Family of abducted girl, 14, take case to High Court

A Christian family in Pakistan have gone to the High Court in their fight to win back their 14-year-old girl, who they say was abducted by a man who forced her to marry him and demanded she abandon her faith.

Lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu confirmed to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) that on Tuesday, 2nd June he submitted a petition to Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan to appeal the case of Maira Shahbaz.

The family want to overturn the ruling of Faisalabad Magistrates’ Court which on 5th May declared that Catholic girl Maira is 19 and, as such, is validly wedded to Muslim man Mohamad Nakash, who is already married and with two young children.

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Maira Shahbaz (14), Catholic girl from Faisalabad. She has been abducted by Mohamad Nakash and two accomplices – all bearing arms.
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

RIP - Msgr. Willem De Smet, OSB, former president of ACN

A former president of ACn International, Mgr. Willem De Smet, OSB, passed away on Saturday 30th May 2020 in a London retirement home. He was 88 years old.

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Mgr. De Smet was a member of the Benedictine Congregation of Monte Oliveto and a Chorbishop of the Syriac Catholic Church. He joined ACN in 1989 as a head of section for the Middle East projects and became our President in 1993. He left Königstein in 2002. He led a remarkable life living in countries such as Lebanon, Thailand and Haiti and was an expert on Islam. He will be sadly missed. Please, pray for the repose of his soul. 

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Please stay at home - Patriarch in urgent appeal as COVID-19 cases top 5,000

The leader of Iraq’s largest Christian community has issued an urgent plea for people to stay at home amid growing fears that the country cannot cope with a spiralling number of COVID-19 cases.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako said the country’s medical services, still shattered after the 2003 collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime, are already in crisis, with cases topping 5,000, according to Iraq’s federal authorities.

In an interview yesterday (Thursday, 28th May) with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Patriarch states: “The situation with the virus is getting worse – it is not possible to control it.”

He said lack of infrastructure and social care provision, especially in towns and cities, with poor job creation and corruption, meant people had limited protection against the virus. Patriarch Sako added: “There are many problems – no money, not enough hospitals, doctors or equipment – and the lockdown is against the culture here, especially for the men. The people must stay at home. This is the only way to stay safe. The government are telling people what to do but people are not listening.”

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His Beatitude Louis Raphaël I Sako(Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church from Iraq).
Photographer: Christian Gennari. 
Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Over 5000 Christian families in Pakistan facing lockdown and hunger

The Covid-19 pandemic is driving many into poverty, affecting our project partners and those they serve. It has reached many countries where ACN is presently supporting the Church and vulnerable Christians as they adapt to the changing needs. In the current context, our strategy is to focus on the subsistence of our core partners: priests and sisters as they care for the most vulnerable communities around the world. Answering their call, we have committed to responding to the urgent need of the Christian communities whose suffering is exacerbating by the pandemic.

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PAKISTAN: Prayer in front of the church. Photographer; Magdalena Wolnik. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

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