Drama at Notre-Dame: watch, pray, do not be discouraged

by Pierre Macqueron

On Monday 15 April, the first day of Holy Week, the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was ravaged by a terrible fire. This was a drama which invited us to pray unceasingly, and without being discouraged.

Shortly before 8pm, the burning spire collapsed into the nave of the cathedral. The fire, which had broken out around 6.50pm in the timbers of the roof, was overcome by about 3.30am, according to the Paris firefighters. Two-thirds of the roof has been destroyed. Ravaged by flames in the night of 15-16 April, the building - the most visited in Europe, welcoming between 12 and 14 million visitors and pilgrims each year - had stood through history and survived countless events, from the French Revolution to the Second World War. An enquiry into ‘involuntary destruction by fire’ has been opened.

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A photograph inside Notre Dame Cathedral shows some of the damage after the fire. Copyright Phillippe Wojazer.  

“I get back a lot more than I give!” - Interview with Sister Medhin Tesfay (Ethiopia)

11.03.2019 by Eva-Maria Kolmann

Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state in East Africa; Christianity has been established there for almost 2000 years. At about 43 per cent, the majority of the population is Orthodox Christian, but Islam is on the rise at 34 per cent. The Catholic Church only arrived on the territory of what is today Ethiopia in the 19th century. Its members are only a minority at one per cent of the population. In spite of this, the Church plays a very important role in the educational system and is active in caring for the poor, which has given it an esteemed position in society.

Sister Medhin Tesfay (44) has belonged to the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul (Vincentians) for 26 years and works in the diocese of Adigrat in the northern part of Ethiopia. She talked about her work and her vocation with the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The interview was held by Eva-Maria Kolmann.

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Sister Tesfay Medhin. Photographer Ursula Walach Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

The Sisters of the Congregation Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) in Pakistan

  • Founded in 1914 in Italy by Fr. Giacomo Alberione
  • Fr. Alberione understood the ever increasing influence of the media and wanted to use the media as a means of evangelisation
  • The charism of the Daughters of St. Paul is the proclamation via the mass media. They have libraries, edit and print Christian books and use other means of mass communications (radio, magazines etc.)
  • There are about 2.500 sisters in 50 countries of the world.
  • Despite representing less than two percent in a country populated almost entirely by Muslims, there are at least 1.1 million Catholics in Pakistan, a figure comparable with the number of practising Catholics for example in Great Britain. Up to 85 percent of the Christian population live in villages, mostly as “bonded labour” entirely dependent on urban-based landlords often incited by militant forms of Islam. When job vacancies arise, preference automatically goes to Muslims. When the Christians do get jobs – mostly as farm labourers, domestic cooks and cleaners and road sweepers – pay is woefully poor. Child labour is commonplace – parents can’t afford education and daren’t spare them from the workplace for fear of the landlord docking their pay. Lacking identity cards and the right to vote, they have virtually no political representation. Nor do they have any legitimate access to health care.
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Daughters of Sant Paul Congregation in Pakistan: The sisters selling religious literature outside in the Diocese of Lahore. Photographer Bartek Zytkowiak. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need

Iraq longs for better times for his Church and his people

Archbishop Petros Mouche heads the Syriac-Catholic Archdiocese of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, which was captured by ISIS in the summer of 2014. Today, with ISIS ousted from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, Christian communities are slowly coming back to life. Thousands of Iraqi faithful, having spent upwards of three years in exile in Kurdistan, have resettled in their former homes, villages and towns. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Mouche—who also oversees the Syriac-Catholic Church in Kirkuk and Kurdistan—takes stock of the situation:

The positive change that has occurred in our region—no one can deny it. Things may not yet be at the required level, but there are very clear and concrete signs of progress. But no credit goes to the state: credit belongs to the faith-based and humanitarian organizations that rushed in to support us.

ACN 20170928 61767 Easy ResizeSyriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul in Iraq. Photographer/Author: Christian Gennari. Copyright Aid to the Church in Need.

Stand together for Religious Freedom: Symposium in Rome

On Wednesday (April 3) a symposium took place in Rome hosted by the Ambassador of the USA to the Holy See: It was titled: “Stand together to defend international religious freedom”.

The event was organized by the “Standtogether Project”. Speakers included: Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State and the USA Ambassador Gingrich.

ACN had been invited to be part of the symposium and was represented by Alessandro Monteduro, the National Director of the Italian office emphasized in his speech that “We cannot and don't want to be an accomplice of indifference toward persecuted Christians” Watch highlights of the symposium below:

Alessandro Monteduro


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