Syria: "Our Lady of Sorrows, Consoler of the Syrian people" continues its peregrination

ACN 20200318 98637 Easy ResizeFather Charbel Eid Rizkallah of the mission of the Lebanese Maronite Order is set to accompany the Icon of Our Lady of Sorrows, Consoler of the Syrians. The Holy Father gave his blessing to the prayer campaign for Syrian Christians "Console my people", promoted by the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Pontifical Foundation as well as the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of Syria. This campaign seeks to perpetuate the memory of the victims of the war in Syria and to provide spiritual support to the families of the deceased.

This icon was written by a Greek Orthodox priest in Homs (Syria) on the initiative of the ACN foundation. A pilgrimage of the icon began after the blessing on 15th of September 2019 by Pope Francis in the Vatican, and will follow a tight schedule of presentations across Syria until 31st of May.

Father Charbel Eid Rizkallah of the mission of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

MADAGASCAR : “They are paying women to wear the Burka”

Mgr Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara is Bishop of Port-Bergé, in the North of Madagascar. In an interview with ACN on 20 February this year he spoke about the challenges facing the Church, including the Islamisation of the island and the major problem of sorcery. He was speaking to Amélie de La Hougue.
ACN: Christians are a majority in the country as a whole, but are they present in every part of the island?

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Photo of Bishop Georges Varkey Puthiyakulangara of Port-Bergé diocese in Madagascar during his visit at ACN headquarters in Königstein, Germany on February 20 2020. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Bishop Georges Varkey : Their presence varies greatly according to the diocese. Catholicism is very much present in the plateau region, which was evangelised 160 years ago, but in my diocese that is not the case. Out of around 800,000 inhabitants there are only 25,000 - 30,000 Catholics, and some believers of other Christian denominations, but 95% of the population are animists.

INDIA: Christian released on bail after 11 years in jail on false accusation

ACN 20200224 97486 Easy ResizeBHASKAR SUNAMAJHI (43) is one of seven Christians falsely accused and convicted of the August 2008 murder of a Hindu leader in the Kandhamal district of India’s Odisha State. The killing triggered the worst eruption of Christian persecution in modern Indian history. Almost 100 Christians were killed, while 300 churches and 6,000 homes were destroyed. In December 2019, after 11 years in jail, Bhaskar, along with six fellow Christian defendants, was released on bail.

Bhaskar, who belongs to a Pentecostal Church, gave this account to Aid to the Church in Need:

“I was playing cards with my friends in Kutiguda village when the police came to my mud-thatched house around noontime on December 13, 2008. I was not surprised. Being a gram rakhi (village protector), I was used to police dropping in even at odd hours to fetch me to accompany them for crime investigation and sundry works.

Photo of Bhsakar Sunamajhi (43)with his son Daud.
He is one of seven Christians falsely accused and convicted of the August 2008 murder of a Hindu leader in the Kandhamal district of India’s Odisha State. The killing triggered the worst eruption of Christian persecution in modern Indian history. In December 2019, after 11 years in jail, Bhaskar, along with six fellow Christian defendants, was released on bail. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

Jihadist groups raise the black flag in Mozambique

ACN 20200217 97148 Easy Resize“What is happening is a disgrace", the Bishop of Pemba laments, following the most recent attack in his diocese.

On  Monday, 23 March, for several hours an armed group of terrorists attacked and occupied the port of Mocímboa da Praia, a town of around 20,000 inhabitants and the capital of the district of the same name within the province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of Mozambique.

According to local sources, the attackers burned public buildings, released prisoners from the local prison and even patrolled the streets freely. As a sign of this demonstration of strength, the insurgents even raised the black flag, identifying themselves as members of the Islamic jihadist groups.

Luiz Fernando Lisboa, bishop from the Diocese of Pemba, Mozambique. Copyright: free with credit to Photographer. Credit: Leandro Martins.

From Syria with love, prayers and solidarity

ACN project partner’s heart-felt coronavirus message

An intrepid nun, who coordinates emergency relief in Syria, has responded to the coronavirus pandemic by sending a message of prayer and solidarity to friends and benefactors of a leading Catholic charity.

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In an audio message (see https://bit.ly/2Uz57JG) sent on Friday, 27th March, Sister Annie Demerjian, a leading Syria project partner of Aid to the Church in Need, tells the charity’s supporters: “do not panic” and “follow the instructions about healthcare”.

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