Press Release

 

ACN Press Release – Christian Churches unite to rebuild on the Nineveh Plains

31.03.2017 in By Daniele Piccini, Press Release

Nineveh Plains  

Christian churches unite to rebuild

 

In Iraqi Kurdistan, the Syriac Catholic Bishop, the Chaldean Catholic Bishop and two Syriac Orthodox bishops signed an agreement in Erbil to help Christians from the Nineveh Plains rebuild their homes, destroyed by ISIS in 2014.

 

Hope has returned to the hearts of Christians who were forced to flee the devastating advance of troops from the terror organization, Islamic State.  Two and half years later, a seeming eternity for the displaced peoples, the return of the Christians to the Nineveh Plain to their villages and homes is finally foreseeable.

 

On March 27 at the offices of the archdiocese of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, a signing ceremony took place reflecting the agreement reached between three Christian churches in Iraq: the Syriac Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church.  The agreement formally establishes the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee (NRC) tasked with planning and supervising a program of rebuilding Christian houses. The Committee is composed of six members chosen from the above three churches (two representatives each) and of three external experts suggested by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The international pontifical charity will concern itself with advocacy and fundraising.

From left to right: Msgr. Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany,Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and prior of the Monastery of Saint Matthew, Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul, Father Halemba, Head of the Middle East section for ACN,  Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan, Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mikha Pola Maqdassi of Alqosh.

So that Christians can “go home”

According to assessments more, than 12,000 homes need rebuilding – those burned, destroyed or partially damaged by ISIS – the organization is estimating the cost of this operation will be in excess of 290 million dollars. The funds gathered will be allocated to each Church in proportion to the number of damaged houses within their own faith community.

Iraq Batnaya: more than 12,000 homes will be rebuilt to insure the return of Christians to their homeland.

After the signing ceremony, Msgr. Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany, Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and prior of the Monastery of Saint Matthew emphasized the initiative’s double historical importance. On the one hand the ecumenical spirit that made this possible and on the other, the real possibility for thousands of Christians to return to their ancestral roots and to a life in dignity.

“We would like to thank ACN, which has helped us so much in the past, by providing help and food. Now this charity is playing a crucial role in the rebuilding of our houses.”

“Today,” he said, “we are truly a united Church – Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean and Syriac Catholic – united in the work of rebuilding these houses on the Nineveh Plains and in restoring hope to the hearts of the inhabitants of these villages and inviting those who have left them to return.” The archbishop then went on to thank for the important role of ACN in developing this initiative: “We would like to thank ACN, which has helped us so much in the past, by providing help and food. Now this charity is playing a crucial role in the rebuilding of our houses.”

 

The fact that this principle of unity and of speaking with “one voice” has prevailed is a source of great satisfaction for Father Andrzej Halemba, responsible for the pontifical foundation’s Middle East section. ACN will closely follow the committee’s work, though solely in the start-up phase. In subsequent phases, the organization will limit itself to seeking the possible sources of funding, mainly from among major international benefactors. “What we have done to support this initiative,” said Father Halemba, visibly gratified at the signing of the accord, “We have not this done for money. We have done it to ensure that the Christians can remain in Iraq. We are working for God.”

Speaking about unity between the Christian churches, Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul also emphasized: “I would like to invite the Christians of the Nineveh Plains to return to their homes and resume living in their villages, in order to bear witness to Christianity. Today we join together to demonstrate that we are united in our wish to accelerate this operation as rapidly as possible, and that it must start as soon as possible.”

 

Father Salim, a Chaldean Jesuit, beside the remains of his family home.

The courage of the three Christian churches in taking this step responds to the courage of the Christians who have decided to stay on in Iraq. This sentiment was expressed by Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mikha Pola Maqdassi of Alqosh who stated, “Today we have given our agreement to the rebuilding of the houses in our ruined villages. This is a brave step forward which gives us great joy and encourages the Christians to remain in their villages and in their own country.”

 

Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan addressed an appeal to all international benefactors: “We are the roots of Christianity. We must remain in our country. We must remain as witnesses to Jesus Christ in this country, in Iraq and especially in the Nineveh Plains. This task of rebuilding all the houses in those villages where ISIS has destroyed everything is truly an enormous challenge. Thank you in advance to all those who will help us.”

 

By Daniele Piccini, Aid to the Church in Need International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin


 

Press Release : ACN’s urgent request for children in Aleppo

13.03.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, By Maria Lozano, Communiqué, Journey with ACN, Middle East, Press Release, Syria

A Drop of Milk program

An urgent request to support the children of Aleppo

 

Aid to the Church in Need continues the work done since the start of the war in Syria: to support the Christian families of Aleppo, along with local partners, such as Canadian-Syrian gastroenterologist Nabil Antaki. Our immediate concern is to continue the distribution of milk to the children.

Drop of milk: special milk for the infants

 

The aim of the project—named A Drop of Milk—is to provide to Christian children of Aleppo under the age of ten a certain amount of milk every month. In these times of scarcity, this “white gold” is essential for the proper growth and well-being of children. The Drop of Milk program has been ongoing since May 2015.

The project is most appreciated by all the Christian Churches in Aleppo since it is the ONLY program, which helps all Christians regardless of their particular denomination.  It is an ecumenical program. However, the financing of this life-giving project is waning.  Dr. Nabil Antaki, the Syrian doctor who is coordinating the project has approached ACN for support to be able to keep running the milk program, which is essential for the Christian children in Aleppo.

“We distribute milk every month to about 2,850 children: 2,600 receive powdered milk and 250 receive special milk for infants. Babies, not breastfed by their mother, also receive a special infant’s milk. The total number of beneficiaries varies every month depending on the number of births and emigration of the families,” explains Dr. Nabil Antaki.

 The situation is dire…

The relative calm since the retaking of Eastern Aleppo has seen families returning to their homes.   But with the vast amount of destruction and lack of usable structures, their needs are huge.   Basics like food baskets, fuel for heating their houses and electricity are the essentials needed to begin again. Since the start of the conflict, the pontifical charity ACN (Aid to the Church in Need) has been channeling urgent help to those Christian families in Syria.

ACN will help for a year with the program Drop of milk, a total more 326 000 dollars.

Despite the end of the conflict in that region, these staggering numbers tell a story of ongoing despair:  80% of the population of Aleppo is displaced; 70% live below the poverty line.  Food parcels are desperately needed to fend-off the starvation that comes with such devastation.

Georgina, a mother of three children, explains to ACN how important the Drop of Milk project is for her and her family: “Myriam is ten years old; Pamela is six. We are one of the beneficiaries of ‘A Drop of Milk’ project. Both Myriam and Pamela get one kilogram of milk powder every month. Pamela’s health is critical after being hit by bomb which left shrapnel in her back.   Now that she is recovering, she needs milk to become healthier and stronger. This project is very important for me and my family and I’d really like it to continue.”

The children of Aleppo, already deprived of a normal and peaceful childhood, should not be deprived of milk needed for their growth and health. ACN has therefore assured Dr. Antaki of our help for the children of Aleppo.

Aid to the Church in Need will give $27,188 each month during this year whole year – 2017 – for a total of $326,256.

 

Will you partner with us and show the children of Aleppo that there is hope? There are many ways to give to the children of Aleppo:

 

By phone: 514-932-0552 or toll free at 1-800-585-6333, ext. 227
Via our web site: http://secure.acn-aed-ca.org or https://www.facebook.com/AidChurch/

 

By mail:

Aid to the Church in Need
A Drop of Milk program
P.O. Box 670, Station H
Montreal, QC    H3G 2M6

 

In the name of Aleppo’s children: We thank you!

 

 

Text: Maria Lozano, ACN international Adapted by  Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 

 


 

Press Release – Episcopacy denounces violence against civilians in South-Sudan

28.02.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Journey with ACN, Press Release, South Sudan

South Sudan

Episcopacy denounces violence against civilians

 

United together from February 21 to 23, the Catholics bishops of South Sudan resolutely denounced the violence perpetrated against civilians, as “war crimes” inflicted by both the opposition and the government who are accused of killing, raping, burning, beating, looting, harassing and detaining civilians, even keeping entire villages from harvesting their crops resulting in some regions facing famine.  Aid to the Church in Need has obtained a copy of this declaration; here are some of the highlights.

 

“We, the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan, have frequently written pastoral messages urging change in our nation, but it seems they have had little effect,” they write in their address with a title taken from the prophet Isaiah, also quoted by the evangelists Matthew and Mark, “A Voice Cries in the Wilderness.”

 

“Our country is not at peace. People live in fear. The civil war, which we have frequently described as having no moral justification whatsoever, continues. Despite our calls to all parties, factions and individuals to STOP THE WAR*, nevertheless killing, raping, looting, displacement, attacks on churches and destruction of property continue all over the country,” they write.

Displaced children in Riimenze, South Sudan

 

The bishops also remind us that the people cannot go to do their harvest because they fear the armed forces, whether they are from the government or the opposition. “Some towns have become “ghost towns,” they write.  “While the authorities may claim that they are free to return to their homes, in practice they fear to do so. In places, the destruction has been described to us as “scorched earth,” they tell us. “All of this is a form of ‘collective punishment,’ which is outlawed as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.”

 

 

Undermining faith in the Church

 

The South Sudan Episcopacy give us an example of these crimes with the story of “Sister Veronica, a doctor who was gunned down by soldiers while driving a clearly-marked ambulance on 16th May 2016. Her killers were arrested, but we have heard no more and we await justice.”

 

Otherwise, the bishops remained “concerned” that “some elements within the government appear to be suspicious of the Church. In some areas, the Church has been able to mediate local peace deals,” but according to the bishops, “easily undermined if government officials are removed and replaced with hardliners who do not welcome Church efforts for peace. Priests, sisters and other personnel have been harassed. Some of the programmes on our radio network have been removed. Churches have been burned down,” say the bishops.

 

On Valentine’s Day, security officers tempted to close their Catholic bookstores.  “They harassed our personnel and confiscated several books.” The ecumenical church leaders’ delegation which visited Pope Francis in Rome and Archbishop Justin Welby in London has been trying,” in vain, they say “to obtain a meeting with President Salva Kiir since December 2016.”

 

The bishops recall that they are not against anyone, “but AGAINST* evil – violence, killing, rape, torture, looting, corruption, arbitrary detention, tribalism, discrimination, oppression – regardless of where they are and who is practising them. We are ready,” they write, “to dialogue with and between the government and the opposition at any time.”

 

They conclude by addressing particularly the faithful while affirming: “We will continue to be “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness”. We wish to give you hope that you are not abandoned and that we are working to resolve the situation at many different levels.

 

Finally, with great joy, we wish to inform you that the Holy Father Pope Francis hopes to visit South Sudan later this year. The Holy Father is deeply concerned about the sufferings of the people of South Sudan.”

 

* Capitalized in the original letter. 

Displaced People in Riimenze, South Sudan

Press Release – Hope in Erbil

10.01.2017 in ACN International, ACN International, ACN Interview, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, by Mónica Zorita, Christmas in the Middle East, Iraq, Press Release, [email protected], SUBSISTENCE

Christmas Celebration in Erbil – Community of Father Luis Montes IVE

Iraq

After the liberation of villages in the Nineveh Plains

Christmas celebrations filled with hope in Erbil

“There is still a long way to go before the refugees can return to their homes. The region is riddled with bombs,” Father Luis Montes reports. In fact, the area he says has been “riddled with land mines.”

Iraq: the remnants of a statue of Our Lady in the Mar Quryaqus (Qeryaqos) in Batnaya destroyed by  Daesh  (Picture – December 2016)

“The refugees in the northern part of Iraq know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive,” Father Luis Montes, episcopal vicar of the Latin bishop for Kurdistan who has lived in Iraq since 2010, reported to Aid to the Church in Need. This year, Christian refugees in the northern part of Iraq are twice as excited to celebrate the birth of Christ. This is because the vast majority of the villages on the Nineveh plains, which have been under occupation by the “Islamic State” (IS) since the summer of 2014, have now been liberated. At the time, 120,000 people fled the advancing jihadist threat, leaving their homes in great haste.

“When we received the news that IS was retreating, a spontaneous celebration broke out in the refugee camps. The people went out into the streets to dance and sing, as though they did not have any other problems in their lives,” said Father Luis.

In an interview with the international pontifical charity   Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Argentine priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word explained that despite this initial joy, very difficult steps must first be taken before the refugees can return to their homes.

According to some estimates, “approximately 60% of the homes on the Nineveh plains were burned down. The terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the region with land mines.” They even “put bombs in with children’s toys” so that they would explode when the people returned home.

According to some estimates, “approximately 60% of the homes on the Nineveh plains were burned down.”

 

“It is true that some people were able to return to their houses. However, they were only able to determine that they still exist. Because it is impossible to live there,” Father Montes said gravely. “The mines first need to be cleared out of the entire region. Only then can the villages be restored, and that from the ground up. Everything still needs to be done, the people have nothing left.”

 

December 2016 – seen here, a partially destroyed village of Batnaya in the Niniveh Plain.   

Meanwhile, the refugees are living in Erbil, the capital city of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, in what is practically a dream state. Most of the country’s Christians are living there at the moment. “They have not lost the hope of being able to return to their homes. They envision themselves living back in their houses, receiving friends and relatives there. Because hospitality is very important to them. Despite everything, Iraqis have lost neither their smiles nor their hope.” Father Luis Montes described them as a model of willpower. They held out all through these horrible years “not only in peace, but also with joy. It is easy being a pastor here because they really live what they say. To talk about forgiveness with them is easy because they forgive without bearing a grudge. They are what gives us strength.”

 

Christmas with blankets and chocolate

Christmas 2016 in Erbil, Iraq. “I find it quite impressive to look into the faces of the children when they see the presents. Not only because of the things in and of themselves, but because people who live very far away were thinking of them.” Father Luis Montes

The Christmas holiday is celebrated very intensely in the northern part of Iraq. The houses and streets are decorated with Christmas trees and lights. A very special atmosphere pervades. During Advent, believers prepare themselves by going to confession and Masses are highlights of the celebration during these days.

The Argentinian priest describes how chocolate is passed out in the refugee camps after Holy Mass as a sign of joy and brotherhood. If an aid organization has donated gifts, they are also distributed. “I find it quite impressive to look into the faces of the children when they see the presents. Not only because of the things in and of themselves, but because people who live very far away were thinking of them.”

 

These days, the average temperature is minus three degrees Celsius. A great contrast to the sweltering 50 degrees that the country experiences in the summer. The solution is “blankets and more blankets,” because the walls of the prefabricated barracks in the refugee camps are very thin. “Because they had to be built very quickly to accommodate the large masses of people, many of these barracks have construction defects. These are gradually being repaired. Sometimes the families live in flats that they share with other families and that have been rented by the diocese of Erbil.”

Finally a little hope for Iraq!  Shown here, a  Christmas celebration in Erbil.

“They know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive.”

For several years now, Aid to the Church in Need has been providing aid to Iraq.  In Erbil alone, the help given by the international organization has risen to – since 2014 – more than 17 million dollars representing 43% of the local support to displaced Christians and refugees in the Archdiocese of Erbil. This support becomes concrete through various projects throughout the country such as the building of schools, renting flats for refugee families, Mass offerings for priests, and the distribution of Christmas presents or covering the cost of the maintenance for various Christian refugee camps.

Father Luis Montes expressed how deeply he appreciates the charities’ work. He affirmed that the refugees “know that Christians from other countries have kept them alive. They always pray for their benefactors.” Nevertheless, the priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word asked that the international community not forget Iraq once the Islamic State has been defeated. “This country needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. The people have lost everything.”

 

Mónica Zorita, Aid to the Church in Need International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 


 

International Prayer! 1 Million Children Praying the Rosary

05.10.2016 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, Children, Children, Pastoral work, Peace, Prayer, Press Release

PRESS RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Children Praying the Rosary

More than ever: Pray for Peace and Unity

Montreal, Wednesday October 5 – Again this year, Aid to the Church in Need is supporting the One Million Children Pray the Rosary* campaign, an international event with participation also across Canada taking place Tuesday, October 18.


Since the inception of this initiative born in Venezuela in 2005, the international organization has been attracted to the idea of uniting children together to pray for peace in the world.  In Canada, several pastoral services, dioceses and parishes, will participate in the nearing event.  “We want to share this initiative which represents our mission so well, year after year,” explains Marie-Claude Lalonde, the pontifical charities’ national director. “Even more so given what is happening in Syria at the moment, in Iraq and in the Democratic Republic of Congo making praying for peace and for unity in the world an essential part of Christian life.”

 

Christians also have a few more reasons to be touched by this call to prayer, particularly because it is a question of religious persecution, as the upcoming Report on Religious Freedom will demonstrate when it is launched this November. “In many countries, Christians are a minority and experience persecution.  It is our duty to do what we can to help them, if only to pray for them,” explains Mrs Lalonde.

 

This prayer initiative connects to one of the goals Aid to the Church in Need has – which is to pray for Christians who are poor, isolated and persecuted throughout the world, as well as to stay informed about their situation and act on their behalf.

 

Material available!

In order to support our parishes, schools and Catholic spiritual centres, or other organizations who wish to participate in this pastoral initiative; the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need has material made for children and their guides: a leaflet and a letter for children, a poster and decade Rosaries among others.

We invite anyone interested to contact us, at 1 (800) 585- 6333 or (514) 932-0552 or send an email to [email protected] to request the free material.

 

*Witnessing children praying the Rosary before the Virgin Mary in Caracas (the capital of Venezuela) a few women felt the strong presence of the Holy Mother and became aware of the power of the children’s prayer.  What followed was the launch of this great prayer initiative.

 

1er Juin: les enfants réunis dans les ruines de la cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix à Homs, prient pour la paix en Syrie.

June 1st, 2016:  Children at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Homs, Syria – Praying together for Peace. 

 

By Mario Bard, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

 

 


 

 

ACN Press: Syria – More bombings in Aleppo

19.07.2016 in ACN Canada, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Press Release, [email protected]

Syria

A “consternating” situation leaving Christians “exasperated”

Aid to the Church in Need recently received information coming from its partners in Syria from the village of Aleppo.  For many days, the inhabitants have suffered through many more bombings.   “Aleppo has known a veritable war for the third consecutive day,” writes Father Fadi. 

“The terrorists bomb the neighbourhoods of the city with hundreds of rockets and explosives.  All the people in the city are hiding and no one dares to go and see what has happened.”

According to what he wrote to the international catholic charity, “the Syrian army has made a great offensive lasting 5 hours.” He adds, “What language are we speaking?  In the name of what religion are we addressing you? We have lost our work, our security and our homes but not our humanity and or our Faith in God,” he indicates before adding:  “Please share.”

Syria, 11.July 2016 Old Syriak in Aleppo after the bomb attack on the weekend. Only that very small file quality available

Syria, 11.  July 2016  Aleppo after the bomb attack on the weekend.

Another project partner, Sister Annie, asks for prayers and tells how “enormous attacks” are directed against the Christians, who are “a targeted group.”  She considers the situation to be a “consternating” one.

 

Exasperated, they no longer know where to go to find refuge

Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo, has written a new letter in which he reports on attacks last July 2. “Thanks to Divine Providence, none of the 25 souls gathered suffered a scratch!” he writes as two rockets are shot down only a few meters form a school yard – adjacent to Saint Dimitrios parish church – where parishioners were gathered after Saturday evening Mass.

He indicates that once again,” fire and destruction once again ravaged the poor parish which already had seen its buildings bombarded and destroyed four times since the beginning of this detestable war.”

“What a sad ending to the week. Once more, residents of the city had to suffer greatly the terror that has not stopped menacing them day and night.”

Alep, Syrie, 11 juillet 2016. Des enfants regardent les dommages causés par des bombardements.

Aleppo, Syria – July 11 2016. Children examine the devastation caused by the bombings.

In this letter available on Aid to the Church in Need Canada’s website in PDF, he recalls that “many [Christians] are leaving the country” and he estimates that “many of them are fleeing the country and there is talk that Aleppo will lose all its Christians. What unhappiness, as our 2000-year-old is confronted with such a fateful time in its history,” he writes and adding, “Yet, despite everything, we will not let ourselves be defeated.”

“May our friends who wish us well accompany us with their prayers, may they be at our sides to defend our cause, strengthen our resistance and help us stay put,” he requests.

For over five years, Aid to the Church in Need has supported projects in Syria – with among others, in partnership with Msgr Jeanbart.  In 20145 alone, over 8 million Canadian dollars were essential for emergency projects in Syria.  Whether it was for food aid, shelter or for help with education.  This precious support has continued through this year.

(Read Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart’s letter ( translation courtesy of Joop Coopman of ACN USA)

 

By Mario Bard, Aid to the Church in Need Canada

Adapted and translated by Amanda Bridget Griffin


 

Press Release – Activities Report 2015

13.07.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Activities Report, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Press Release, World

Activities Report 2015 –
Aid to the Church in Need

A record year in a world in crisis

 It is a new record year for the international Catholic organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  In fact, thanks to 22 national offices established around the world, a little over 175 million dollars were collected in order to support 6,209 projects – a majority pastoral – a total of 595 more than in 2014; an exceptional year which also saw a multiplication of the world’s crises.

“Of course, we are happy to observe the great generosity of ACN benefactors and their response to various requests with as much vigour,” declares Marie-Claude Lalonde, the Canadian office’s national director. “But in quite another sense, it is also difficult to observe that this increase comes – in part – from the urgency created by the never-ending conflicts like those in Syria and in Iraq.”

In Canada alone, the Syrian refugee crisis allowed the Canadian office to collect $460,000, a significant amount for the Canadian office who finished their year with donations totaling close to three million dollars – also a record number.  “Our role is to support local Catholic communities who themselves support people who are refugees or displaced, with urgent aid,” says Mrs. Lalonde

SYRIA / NATIONAL 15/00180 ID: 1506021 Emergency help for the displaced families from Alqariatin moved to live in Homs city, Fairouzah, Zaidal, Maskanah, Alfuhaila - October, November, December 2015 6 people from Alqaryatain (Mrs. Widad Aziz and her sons Wasim , Nasim and Azoz Khazal, Mr. George Algharib and Mr. William Alkhori) have been killed by ISIS at the beginning of December 2015. the rest of  Widad's family lives in Zaidal and the family consists of her husband who suffered from a disease in his throat that prevents him from talking so he talks through a special device, two deaf- mute daughters and two sons who work to spend on all the family. One of the sons risked his life to go to Alqaryatain to bring the bodies of the martyrs, he arrived there not knowing what to do: to cry on his dead family or bring the bodies quickly fearing the tyranny of ISIS. He found all the bodies except that of William, he put the martyrs in his car and headed to Homs city where they live, and there weeping sound was louder than bullets and all the people of Alqaryatain cried on this good family's loss. Alqaryatain that has gone through calamities several times for this is not the first time that Alqaryatain people are displaced. The funeral for 5 of the martyrs was held in Zaidal Church and during the ceremony the news came that two more young men were killed (Ibrahim  and Georges Algharib) brothers of George Algharib and the missing body was found, but unfortunately it was impossible to bring the bodies because they were in hot spot near ISIS territory. Photo: The people from Alqaryatain are mourning about their martyrs - funeral at Zaidal Church

SYRIA: The people from Alqaryatain are mourning their martyrs – funeral at Zaidal Church

“There are also other projects which have as a goal to help Christians of the Middle East remain and stop the exodus, a phenomenon which many Patriarchs have compared to a tsunami!  Thus, we are supporting Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart in Aleppo, Syria, with a project called Building to Stay. As the name suggests, it’s about rebuilding – in spite of the war! – homes for the Christian population, so they will once more have a roof over their heads.

 

cover page

Other hot spots: North Africa, China, India

In the Canadian Activities Report 2015 set for launch this coming Thursday (July 14), other hot spots are being watched closely.  Such as in Africa, it is not so much the poverty which has drawn attention to this region. But the uprising of a more fundamentalist Islam in countries who have known for hundreds of years, a more moderate very integrated into society and living with Animists and Christians, Islam.  At this stage, there is also much concern about Christian minorities in North Africa who are worried about the rise in terrorist groups particularly in Libya.

In China, Christians are again subject to new periods of more significant persecution – imprisonment, house arrest and a campaign of destruction of crosses and places of worship.  This hasn’t stopped the relatively high rate of conversions to Christianity.  “The power of attraction of Catholic parishes is undeniable, especially among the young and educated,” reads the text.

'Bethlehem' is a new village created by Holy Ghost Fathers in Mirpur Khas for Christian converts from Hinduism

Bethlehem’ is a new village created by Holy Ghost Fathers in Mirpur Khas for Christian converts from Hinduism

In the Indian sub-continent, the subject of religious freedom is deeply worrying.  The ruling political party, the BJP, holds to the hope of the creation a ‘pure nation’, uniquely guided by the values of Hinduism.  And if, in certain regions its influence is relative, in others it is marked by acts of violence, red tape and injustices. In 2015, two religious Sisters were raped in the state of Bengal.  “And these are not isolated incidents,” says Véronique Vogel, head of projects for India.

“Reading the Activities Report is essential to grasp the extent of this task,” concludes Marie-Claude Lalonde.  “And it is only an overview of the thousands of partnerships with those who allow for the local Churches to respond to the spiritual needs surrounding them, but also to the many material needs of the societies where they are evolving.”

The annual Activities Report 2015 can be downloaded on the Aid to the Church in Need Canada website:   Activities Report 2015

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis: Support of an “exceptional kind!”

17.06.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Intl, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Journey with ACN, Pope, Pope Francis, Press Release

 

Pope Francis and Aid to the Church in Need

Support of an “exceptional kind!”

Montreal, Friday, June 17, 2016 During a press conference which took place in Rome, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis is supporting the charity organization’s work. “I trust Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Pontifical Charity, to do works of Mercy all over the world,” said the Pope in a video* message recorded April 3rd, Sunday of Divine Mercy.

In Centrafrica Republic, Mgrs. Dieudonné Nzapalainga works for reconciliation, and receives the support of ACN.

In Centrafrica Republic, Mgrs. Dieudonné Nzapalainga works for reconciliation, and receives the support of ACN.

“It is an exceptional act of support in which we rejoice!” declared Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).  “The Pope has entrusted us with a mission, to be bearers of Mercy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What it means for our work, is to be present for our project partners in over 140 countries.  For those who are developing pastoral projects; processes of reconciliation in Central African Republic, for example. Or to give support to religious communities who, along with nourishing the homeless, accompany these people simply by being present, as some do in Columbia.”

 

These last few years, local Churches are also called to respond to the most urgent needs in war torn situations and conflicts around the world. Whether in South-Sudan or in Lebanon, “Over there, the refugees are supported by Catholic religious communities.  The number of projects in this area has been explosive for a few years now,” said Ms. Lalonde

 

Being “God’s caress” 

 

The 22 ACN national offices around the world are participating in Pope Francis’ call. “I invite all of you, along with Aid the Church in Need, to do acts of Mercy, but work which will remain, a work of Mercy which is permanent,” said Pope Francis.

 

“Here in Canada, we will broadcast visual clips on Salt and Light Television as well as capsules on Radio VM.  We hope that people will respond in great numbers!” indicated Marie-Claude Lalonde. “Moreover, people can refer to the website made for the occasion www.acnmercy.org, where you can view the Pope’s message and become better acquainted with the work supported by ACN around the world.’’

 

Refugee children from Syria in Lebanon are helped already by the local Church, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need.

Refugee children from Syria in Lebanon are helped already by the local Church, thanks to Aid to the Church in Need.

As he concludes his message, the Pope surprisingly asserts the following : “Thank you for all that you do.  And do not be afraid of Mercy: Mercy, is God’s caress.”

 

A phrase which “inspires” considers the National Director. “Giving as way to become “God’s caress” in the world, some might find this pretentious. On the contrary, I think that this speaks to the adage which says that we must be the hands of God on earth.”

 

In 2015, 6,209 projects were supported in 146 countries for a total of over 159 million Canadian dollars.

 

 

Aid to the Church in Need Canada is already open to receiving donations for this special campaign, destined among others for projects in Central African Republic, Lebanon, India and Columbia.

To give, please call: 514-932-0552, toll free 1-800-585-6333, Extension 222.
On the web our secure website:
secure.acn-aed-ca.org

For more information: acn-aed-ca.org

 acnmercy.org, facebook.com/AidChurch,

*View the video: bit.ly/1XtNacu

Photo: Pope Francis in Philadelphia, September 2015
Grezgorz Galazka/ACN

 

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ACN Press – Syria: A Bishop’s plea

26.05.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN PRESS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By John Pontifex, Press Release, [email protected], Religious freedom, Syria

Cover picture – Bishop Antioine Chbeir, Maronite Bishop in Syria with Head of Middle East Projects for ACN – Father Halemba

Syria

A Bishop’s plea as blasts cause carnage 

A diocese rallies in support of wounded and the grieving

Bishop warns of exodus following bomb blasts

 

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, a Maronite Bishop in Syria has described the desperate efforts made to tend to the injured and the dying following multiple Daesh (ISIS) attacks in Tartous and Jableh, which left more than 200 dead and nearly 650 injured.

 

Bishop Antoine Chbeir stressed that Monday’s (May 23) attacks in his diocese were the first of their kind in an area where displaced Syrians had gathered in their hundreds of thousands, believing it to be one of the last remaining safe areas of the country.

 

Tartous_Maronite Cathedral_Maronite Bishop Geroges Chbier

Tartous_Maronite Cathedral_Maronite Bishop  Chbier

 

The Maronite Bishop of Latakia described the desperate efforts of clergy and others from the diocese helping the wounded and the dying, saying that Tuesday, (May 24) his priests had begun burying the dead.

 

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need by telephone, Bishop Chbeir said: “We are trying to help the people and are taking care of the wounded. It is a very dramatic situation and when the disaster struck we wondered if we could cope.

“Right now, our priests and people are on the scene. They are visiting the people – many of them have broken legs and deep wounds, not to mention the psychological effects.”

 

Near to a another exodus?

 

In a government-controlled area which has escaped almost completely unscathed in spite of five years of war, the bishop warned that the attacks on the two coastal cities, said to be perpetrated by Daesh (ISIS), may prompt a surge in people fleeing Syria.  According to the bishop, there were five explosions in Jableh killing 110 people and wounding 340 while on the same day at around 9.30am in Tartous, four blasts went off leaving more than 100 dead and 300 injured.

 

1 Syria ChbeirThe bishop, who recalled hearing the attacks in Tartous which took place less than two miles from his home, said: “These attacks are the first we have had here during this time of war and they will have dramatic consequences. If you do not have safe areas in Syria, they will leave the country – probably for good… Many of them will go by sea.”The bishop spoke of the desperate need to rebuild hope. “Today, we are more determined than ever to stay in Syria. Every time we have a bombing, we will do whatever it takes to stay in the country where we are living.”

 

The bishop, who is a leading project partner for Aid to the Church in Need in the region, said that his response to the crisis builds on the foundations of existing ACN help for thousands of displaced people in the region, providing them with food, shelter and medicine. “First of all, we need physical and material help, just to help those affected to have something to eat and to help them take care of those who are suffering the most,” he emphasized.

 

Aid to the Church in Need Canada is continuing to accept donations for the displaced refugees in Syria. To make a donation: Please call: 514.932-0552, extension 221 or visit the website at secure.acn-aed-ca.org.

 

“We care for people not because of their particular religion but because they are human beings” adding that the people’s needs had increased because the Syrian economy was failing with food and other basic items in short supply.

 

“Tartous is in [a desperate state]. In the last two weeks, the Syrian currency has lost 40 percent of its value. The Syrian state has no income. It is always spending. The economic sanctions against Syria are really affecting the people,”the Bishop continued. “In this month of May, we are praying to Our Lady to help us. Thank you to Aid to the Church in Need for standing by us.”

 

Turning criminals into human beings

 

The bishop denounced the attack, confirming reports that it was perpetrated by Daesh (ISIS): “ISIS are barbaric people. The worst thing about it is that they are doing these awful things in the name of God. In the name of God, they are killing people everywhere.” But the bishop said retaliation was not the answer. “We must call for peace’” he said. “We must not kill these criminals. We must turn the criminal into a human being who cares for human life.”

 

Reports from the region state that Daesh’s apparent aim was to strike the Assad regime in its core stronghold, which is backed by the nearby Russian fleet.

 

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By John Pontifex, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Canadian office

 


 

ACN Press Release – Msgr Jeanbart from Aleppo speaks

11.05.2016 in ACN Canada, ACN Feature, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, By Mario Bard, Persecution of Christians, Prayer, Press Release, Syria

At the center, Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart, Greek Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo,
Mrs Sylvie Soulard, President of the ACN Canada Board of Directors
and Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Canada

 

 

Aid to the Church in Need, Montreal

Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart brings his message to Canada

 

“The situation is very bad and people are suffering,” said Msgr Jean-Clément Jeanbart about the situation in Aleppo where the war has raged for more than 5 years, during his visit to the Canadian office of Aid to the Church in Need in Montreal on  April 26,  just before the rupture of a hopeful cease-fire agreement in Syria.

Speaking about the people of Aleppo who now “have nothing,” Archbishop Jeanbart said lamentably, “they do not have what they need to live, to feed their children; they feel that the entire world has forgotten them.”

In a ten minute long filmed interview now available on the international charity’s Canadian Youtube channel, the Archbishop of Melkite Greek Catholic Archeparchy Aleppo indicated in two separate interviews (English and French) that the inhabitants of the city – the ancient economic lung of Syria – are terrorized by “unexpected” bombings in the zones populated by civilians, “innocent victims” of this ongoing conflict.

“Now, everyone is on social assistance, in survival mode,” said the archbishop. “We try to offer them provisions, food baskets, and help with their basic expenses,” related to their household.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, the Church in Syria has stood beside those who could not or would not leave and supports them as best as they can, thanks to organizations among others like Aid to the Church in Need.

 

 

The Church in Syria: a first in the story of Christianity

If the humanitarian aspect is essential and that the Church responds to the best of its ability, the historical aspect is equally as important.  After all, the Church in Syria is the first of the Christian Churches in the world! “The most important thing for me as pastor, as bishop, as successor to the apostles… is my faith.  The Church in Syria is the first of all the Churches.  The first Christians were the Christians from Syria,” explains the archbishop.

“Christian life began with the Jews who became Nazarenes. Later in Antioch they would be called ‘Christian’.  But here […] Christian life began in Aleppo, in Tyr, in Sidon, all the cities in Syria and in Lebanon.  It is also “the Church of Syria healed Paul of his blindness, it was the Church of Damascus which baptized him, confirmed him and sent him out to preach the Gospel.”  For Msgr Jeanbart, it is “very important to keep this extraordinary legacy.”

Finally, the Christian presence is also a carrier of Islamic-Christian conviviality, “which can help the Muslims to know the Christians and to help them to not consider them to be people from another planet.”

 

Donating for Syria

The international Catholic charity is still supporting numerous projects this year close to the Syrian Church:  food baskets, milk and diapers, support and lodging, access to medication. Since 2011, Aid to the Church in Need benefactors supported the Syrian population with an amount of 14 million dollars.

 

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To make a donation:  https://secure.acn-aed-ca.org

 

 

 

 

By Mario Bard and Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada