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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Nigeria: “The attacks on Christians are becoming more flagrant”

by Roman Kris (youth magazine f1rstlife) Nigeria

The turmoil continues in Nigeria. Reports of the defeat of the terrorist group “Boko Haram” contradict what the priest John Bakeni experiences every day. The priest is responsible for coordinating aid for survivors of terrorist attacks and displaced persons in his native diocese of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria. The international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has been working closely together with him for many years.

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Father John Bakeni - Photographer/Author: Johannes Klausa. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.

While the threat of terrorist attacks is omnipresent in the north, in Central Nigeria, attacks on Christian farmers by the predominantly Muslim nomads from the tribe of the Fulani are becoming ever more frequent. According to the project partners of ACN, anti-religious sentiments can also be found behind disputes over land.

Roman Kris from the youth magazine “f1rstlife” talked with John Bakeni about the current situation.

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