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The Democratic Republic of the Congo: The people are well and truly on the Via Dolorosa

During Holy Week, ACN specifically call for prayers for the inhabitants of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as for the Church that works for the Congolese people and is being persecuted for this reason. © Aid to the Church in Need

 Since the mid-1990s, entire areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and particularly the eastern parts of the country, have been caught up in a never-ending nightmare: the people are well and truly on the Via Dolorosa! Just like Jesus on the Cross, the deeply devout people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have every reason to call out to God in desperation: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

 

“Yes, in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one can really speak of a Via Dolorosa,” a contact person from the diocese of Butembo-Beni, who remains anonymous out of safety concerns, said to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “A climate of terror reigns in the diocese, which is maintained by the armed groups that have moved into the region since 1995.” The source emphasised that the situation is even worse in a number of parishes that are located in the region that journalists call the “triangle of death”. This concerns four parishes, “namely Eringeti, Mbau, Oicha and Buisegha in the commune of Beni. The parishes Kipese, Kagheri, Bingi and Luofu are located in the territory of Lubero. A number of residents of these parishes have spent more than twenty years constantly fleeing from one place to the next!”

Central African Republic: Way of the Cross - Farewell letter by Fr.Yovane Cox

Central African Republic, diocese of Bangassou Fr. Yovane Cox celebrating the Way of the Cross © Aid to the Church in Need

Dear friends of ACN,

For Christians, Holy Week is the foundational event of our faith, and for this reason, we should meditate on the meaning of the example of Jesus Christ for our own lives. I have been living for 12 years now in the Central African Republic, the poorest country in the world, according to the United Nations. Since 2012 this country has been suffering from an internal war between “pseudo-religious” groups – on the one hand the non-Muslim groups supposedly Christian in tendency and known as the Anti-balaka, and on the other hand the Muslim groups known as the Seleka, who are indeed Muslims, although not all practising and who have been manipulated politically. All these groups are sowing terror, grief and suffering in this country. For me, contemplating the Via Crucis – the Way of the Cross – includes meditating on what the people of this country are living through.

Coptic Pope: ‘Help our faithful to stay’

Egypt, 22. March 2018 Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II (© Aid to the Church in Need), during a visit to Egypt. © Aid to the Church in Need

The head of the Coptic Orthodox Church has called on a Catholic charity to redouble its efforts to help Christians stay in the Middle East.

Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II made the plea at a meeting with Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), during a visit to Egypt. Pope Tawadros said: “I would ask you please to support the presence of Christians in this land and in the Middle East. Christians are a vital presence – and a buffer in the Middle East between Sunnis and Shi‘as. Please do not help the Christians to leave but help them to stay. Everyone needs the stability which comes with the presence of Christians.”

“The End of the War in Syria is in the Hands of the International Community”

Mons. Antoine Chbeir bishop of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Latakia and Tartus Picture from the trip to Lebanon of Communication Department © Aid to the Church in Need

Having just recently completed seven years of conflict, the situation in Syria is starting to deteriorate again, according to Maronite Bishop Antoine Chbeir of Tartus

ACN (Josué Villalón, Tartus).- The day-to-day life of a Syrian family in Tartus, a region controlled by the government and far from the bombing in Damascus, continues to be very difficult. The duration of the conflict has recently reached seven years, the situation is now critical. This was the view expressed by Maronite Bishop Antoine Chbeir, who spoke to a visiting team from the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) who are currently visiting Syria and evaluating various pastoral and emergency aid projects.

Lithuania and Syria United in Memory of Persecuted Christians in the Middle-East

"Cavlvary of Christians:Persecuted Christians Testify" Conference at the Lithuanian Parliament in Vilnius, Luthuania on 26th of March 2018 © Aid to the Church in Need

Red lights to illuminate cathedrals in Lithuania and Syria for the modern martyrs following Conference “Calvary of Christians: Persecuted Christians testify” at the Lithuanian Parliament

On Monday 26 March at 20:00 (19:00 CET) the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) together with the Lithuanian government and Catholic Bishops’ Conference will light in red the Cathedral of Vilnius, the Basilica of the Resurrection in Kaunas and the historical Three Crosses statue overlooking Vilnius, in union with the Greek Melkite Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Syrian Orthodox Cathedral of Our Lady of the Belt in Homs, Syria.

“Lithuania has a painful experience and recent memory of repression and persecution; we want to give our support to the victims of fundamentalism with prayer and public action”, states Dr. Laima Andrikiené, Member of the European Parliament for Vilnius.

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