News 08 Jan 2024

ACN to focus on Middle East, Sahel and Latin America in 2024

Regina Lynch, the Executive President of Aid to the Church in Need, emphasises the concerning rise in religious freedom violations globally. However, she also highlights the positive response to ACN campaigns, such as Red Wednesday and One Million Children Praying the Rosary.

Assuming the role of Executive President in April 2023, Lynch expresses gratitude for ACN's development since its establishment in 1947. Over the years, the organisation has evolved into a formidable advocate for persecuted Christians worldwide. Lynch aims for continued growth, strengthening their voice and support for those facing persecution or suffering, particularly in regions where the Church is oppressed. This involves a commitment to various campaigns, ranging from awareness-raising to advocacy.

The Religious Freedom Report published by ACN in 2023 reveals alarming findings after surveying 196 countries. Lynch notes a worldwide increase in religious discrimination and persecution, with 47 countries experiencing a worsening situation. Notable countries affected include India, China, Pakistan, and several in Africa. The report indicates that 62% of the global population resides in countries where religious freedom is restricted or violated.

Turning attention to the Middle East, Lynch acknowledges the critical situation in the Holy Land, especially the impact of the ongoing conflict on Christians in the West Bank and Gaza. ACN strives to provide aid in the region, recognizing the potential for the conflict to spill over into Lebanon, a country with a significant Christian population.

Discussing Asia, Lynch expresses concerns, particularly focusing on China and India. She notes the decline in religious freedom in India, citing anti-conversion laws in 12 states and increased incidents of attacks and false accusations against religious minorities.

In Europe, Lynch addresses the challenges faced by the Church in Ukraine amid ongoing conflict. ACN collaborates with local churches to assist priests and sisters working with internally displaced persons (IDPs) and emphasizes the importance of trauma healing for the affected population.

The Sahel region emerges as a growing concern for ACN in 2024, with a focus on countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where Christian persecution is on the rise. Lynch highlights the need to aid displaced populations and address security concerns, particularly in Nigeria.

Lynch expresses worries about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where political instability and violence threaten the local population. ACN remains vigilant and calls for prayers for stability and peace.

Looking ahead to 2024, ACN will maintain a strong focus on the Middle East, Ukraine, Myanmar, and the Sahel region. Latin America, especially Nicaragua, is also a concern due to escalating anti-Church sentiments.

Lynch underscores the importance of spiritual aid through prayer, considering it a central aspect of ACN's mission. She acknowledges the challenging circumstances in some regions but emphasizes the significance of activating a dedicated group of benefactors to pray for the persecuted and needy Church.

Amid the challenges, Lynch highlights positive developments in 2023, including the generous support for 5,500 to 6,000 projects worldwide and the successful growth of initiatives like the Religious Freedom Report, Red Wednesday, and One Million Children Praying the Rosary. Notably, the latter surpassed its goal, with over one million children worldwide praying for peace on a designated day.

The Mass is the most effective prayer that could be said on behalf of those who have died. ACN can arrange recurring annual Masses for your dearly departed loved ones.

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