PRESS RELEASE : Ukraine – The Catholic Church is trying to aid the people

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Koenigstein , 21 February, 2013 Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, ArchbishopMontreal/Königstein – March Monday 2nd – 2015 – The Catholic Church in Ukraine is trying to aid the people regardless of their confession. The Archbishop of Lviv, Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, drew attention to this during a visit to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). “We look after refugees, provide pastoral as well as material care for the families of soldiers, operate soup kitchens, and we are now also distributing food and medicines to other needy people,” said Archbishop Mokrzycki while looking in briefly after an ad limina visit to Rome.

“Pope Francis listened very carefully to us, the bishops from Ukraine, and he promised to speak out for peace in Ukraine to those in positions of political responsibility and to the international institutions. He also agreed to give us material assistance for our work on behalf of Ukraine,” the Archbishop of Lviv emphasised.

UKRAINE / NATIONAL 14/02434 Support of the Ukrainian Caritas for

The Catholic Church’s aid activities are directed to refugees from the conflict regions in the east of the country as well as to the needy in West Ukraine. The conflict has been made more acute by the critical economic situation in the country. Archbishop Mokrzycki said: “The Mayor of Lviv, for example, addresses himself directly to the Churches again and again, asking if we can help to accommodate such-and-such a number of refugees.

There is great solidarity; Christians of different confessions are coming closer together. Although the people do not have very much, they help one another.” In order to house the refugees, according to the Archbishop, makeshift shanties have now been erected in both East and West Ukraine. ACN supports the Church’s aid activities in numerous Ukrainian dioceses. In recent months, a sum of more than 182 300 dollars has been provided for this purpose.

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Press Release – New ACN Website

MCL National Director

Praying, Informing and Giving

By Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

Montreal, Friday February 2015 – “ Concerned with better serving our generous benefactors, of providing better communications tools to the public and engaged with encouraging people to PRAY, INFORM and GIVE to help poor and persecuted Christians in the world, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada is proud to present its new website which will be operational as of this coming Monday, March 2nd,” declared with enthusiasm Marie-Claude Lalonde, the National Director of ACN Canada.

“More than ever before,” continued the director,” the situation of Christians in too many countries merits recognition on a large scale.  We hope that the news stories we disseminate through our website will touch our visitors’ hearts, and persuade them to help their so often forgotten brothers and sisters.”

The site which can be visited at www.acn-aed-ca.org is abundantly illustrated with striking pictures, poignant firsthand accounts and content also often exclusive to Aid to the Church in Need.

ACN which is today an international organization numbering over 600,000 friends and benefactors who support each and every year close to 5,000 projects in over 150 countries.  Now operating as a foundation of pontifical right, ACN and its benefactors offer concrete help, through a spirit of love, everywhere where the Church needs them.

 

PRESS RELEASE – Syria

Growing fears for the safety of Syrians

By John Newton, ACN United Kingdom

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada 

Iraq, June 2010Father Emanuel Youkhana in his officePhoto: CAACN, Montreal – Wednesday, February 25, 2015 – Fears are growing for the safety of more than 100 people taken captive yesterday (Tuesday, February 24) as the extremist group Islamic State (IS) seized Christian villages in Hassake governorate, north-east Syria.

Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, who works in support of persecuted Christians in the region, received a telephone update on the situation from a contact in Hassake city around midnight last night and relayed the latest information in a message sent to Catholic agencies, including Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), early this morning.

He wrote: “The 24 families from Tel Gouran, 34 families from Tel Jazira, and 14 fighters (12 male and 2 females) from Tel Hormizd are captured and taken to the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier.” Up to now, the number of people making up the abducted families, has not been confirmed.

“They are alive so far, but the men are separated from women and children.”

An urgent need of action

Commenting on how some local Sunni Arabs had assisted IS, he said: “Um Al-Masamier is another Syrian example of what we witnessed in Iraq on how the Arab Sunni joining and supporting IS to attack their long years Christian and Yezedian neighbours.”

Archimandrite Youkhana went on to describe the latest situation in the various villages: “The 50+ families in Tel Shamiran are still surrounded. It is unclear if IS will attack the village? Can PYD [Democratic Union Kurdish Party] fighters change the situation before the village been taken by IS?”

He reported that in Tel Tamar a car bomb exploded, but no casualties were reported. Three mortar shells were fired into Tel Nasri from the other side of Khabour River. Again no casualties were reported.

PYD fighters have retaken Toma Yelda hill, which is of strategic importance. Archimandrite Youkhana wrote: “By now, only around 200 families are still in Khabour region, more than 100 [are] in Tel Tamar and others [are] in different villages not controlled by IS. Around 1,000 families from Khabour are displaced in Hassake and Qamishli.“

“His Grace Bishop Mar Aprem Athniel [of the Assyrian Church of the East] who resides in Hassake and hasn’t left it despite all difficulties, is doing his best to host and support the displaced. However, due to the lack of resources and the long years of the disaster, there is an urgent need of action to support the displaced families through the Church.“

Archimandrite Youkhana added: “Our thoughts are with the suffering people. We pray for an end to this long history of persecution in our countries.”

SYRIA / NATIONAL 15/00138 Emergency help for 1200 families from

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE – Pakistan

Pakistan

“The Taliban will stop at nothing now”

 Archbishop Coutts warns of increased threat to innocent people – 

Prelate asks schools to hold one-minute silence for Peshawar victims

by John Pontifex, ACN United Kingdom

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

UK/Montreal, Wednesday, 17th December 2014 – INNOCENT people in Pakistan – young and old alike – are now at increased risk of terrorist attack, according to the leader of the country’s Catholics, who has called on the government to step up security in the wake of the Peshawar school massacre.

Pakistan-1Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi said yesterday’s terrorist incident at the Army Public School was a “revenge attack” against the Pakistan military and that the Taliban “will stop at nothing now” to harm people.

Speaking today (Wednesday, 17th December) from Karachi, Archbishop Joseph Coutts, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that the threat to schools, hospitals, churches, mosques and other public places had grown and that tighter security was crucial.

“The [security services] should be increasing security in public places.”

In his ACN interview, Archbishop Coutts said: “What happened yesterday was a sign of desperation.  The Taliban are prepared to carry out brutal attacks, killing school children, shooting them in the head. “They will stop at nothing now. The [security services] should be increasing security in public places. We are dealing here with people who have no conscience. It is just blind hatred.”

Stressing that the attack on Peshawar was the Taliban’s response to Pakistan military offences in the Khyber region and North Waziristan, regions close to the Afghan border, Archbishop Coutts said: “The Taliban want to show [the military] that they can hit the [army’s] children and all their families. Their message is: ‘We can get you in your own territory’.”

But the archbishop said that the Peshawar massacre was not a sign of the Taliban’s growing military might.  “I don’t think it was a show of strength. It is more likely to be a last ditch attempt to show what they can do,” he said.

20121011_002In his statement, the archbishop calls on church communities to “celebrate Christmas in a sober manner as a mark of respect for all victim[s] of terror attacks.” The statement goes on: “On the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, all Christians must pray fervently for peace. “It is the duty of every Christian to be a promoter of peace, reconciliation, harmony and unity … work[ing] together with fellow citizens [so] that Pakistan may be free from the scourge of violence and terrorism.”

In a statement issued today strongly condemning the attack, the prelate calls on Pakistan’s 300 or more Catholic schools and colleges to hold prayers and a one-minute silence to remember the 141 people who died.  Archbishop Coutts appealed to his faithful to pray not only for those killed yesterday but also for other Taliban victims including vaccinators against polio as well as the 127 people killed during the September 2013 attack on All Saints’ Church, Peshawar. He also urged people to pray for brick kiln workers Shama Bibi, 24, and Sajjad Maseeh, 27, the young Christian couple burned to death earlier this month for alleged blasphemy.

PAKISTAN-2

A call to “join hands to end this menace of terrorism”

In his ACN interview, Archbishop Coutts called on friends and benefactors to pray for Christians and others suffering violence in Pakistan. “It is very important for us to know that there are others praying for us, wanting to help us, wanting to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in faith. In spite of all our difficulties, we find a lot of strength in the prayers of all those who are concerned for us and I thank everybody who is remembering us, especially at this time of great tragedy and sadness.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s National Commission for Justice & Peace, an advocacy agency of the Catholic bishops’ conference which supports the victims of persecution, also condemned the Peshawar massacre.

PAKISTAN-3

In a message signed by Fr Emmanuel Mani, NCJP director, and Cecil Chaudhry, executive director, the agency stated: “We are running out of demands for human rights and now plead to the governments, all political parties, religious leaders, civil society organizations and the judiciary to set aside all their personal and political differences and join hands to end this menace of terrorism collectively. “The government, both federal and provincial, along with the intelligence agencies should take serious and effective measures to prevent such an atrocity and also demand to increase security and ensure [the] safety of all children and citizens of Pakistan.”

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

Pakistan is a priority country for Aid to the Church in Need, which in this country of 3 million faithful helps Christians escaping persecution, and provides Child’s Bibles, religious buildings and supports Sisters, seminarians and catechists as well as media projects.

PRESS RELEASE – Bosnia-Herzegovina

Instability plays into the hands of the extremists

Reinhard Backes, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

Bosnie-1ACN, Montreal/Königstein October 7, 2014 – Bosnia-Herzegovina urgently needs reforms and a rapprochement with the European Union. The Bishop of Banja Luka, Franjo Komarica, explained this while talking to staff of the international Catholic pastoral charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) on October 2.

 

October 12, people will be going to the polls in the two parts of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the ten cantons and on a federal level to re-elect the parliaments and the three-member presidency. In the view of observers the economic and the political situation of the country is extremely critical.

Unemployment is more than 50 per cent; nearly three quarters of young adults are unable to find work. Dissatisfaction in the population, comprising three ethnic groups – Bosnians, Croats and Serbs – has grown enormously. The majority reject their own country. Corruption, clientelism and nepotism are widespread

Bishop Komarica is deeply concerned: “We are living in an absurd situation. Bosnia-Herzegovina is not moving forward, either politically or economically. The country has a number of constitutions which obstruct one another. The number of ministers is astronomical, an indulgence which no other allows itself. The people are longing for a new organization of the state.”

Because of the political backlog, lack of legal certainty and growing dissatisfaction, there is the danger. Bishop Komarica believes that parts of the country will become radicalized: “There are people here who could exploit the instability. And we mustn’t ignore the dark clouds arising in the south-east. This region is a region where destructive, radical forces from the Arab world can flourish and they can very easily settle here.”

 

Bosnie-2

 

Context

Before the last Balkan war the people in Bosnia-Herzegovina lived peacefully with one another regardless of their religion or denomination. This fundamental consensus was destroyed by war and violence and has to be reconstructed.

In order to overcome the persistent state of instability, Bishop Komarica believes that a greater commitment on the part of the international community, and specifically the European Union, is absolutely essential.

In his words, the Catholic Church is making a positive contribution in Bosnia-Herzegovina: “We need more justice, reconciliation and willingness to work together. We bishops have therefore invited everyone to go to the polls to cast their vote for law and justice and to make sure the country does not get stuck in this disastrous situation.”

Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting the efforts of the Catholic Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina for years. Between 2008 and 2013, 7.46 million dollars was spent, for the reconstruction of churches and church institutions in particular.

 


 

 

 

Iraq “Silence and passivity will encourage IS to commit more tragedies”

By Eva-Maria Kolmann, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada

 

0807Iraq_Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of BaghdadBaghdad/Montreal, August 25, 2014 – The Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako has warned of the spreading violence of Islamic State (IS). “Silence and passivity will encourage IS fundamentalists to commit more tragedies.” The question must be asked, “Who will be next?” to be affected.  In a letter of mass appeal which reached the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), he urgently calls for “effective international support.” 

Also in his letter to “The Conscience of the World,”  the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church states that since August 6,   “an immediate concrete solution for the crisis we are facing,” has not come to pass,  while “on the other hand the flow of funds, arms and fighters continues to the IS.”  The actions taken up till now have produced “no real change,” and “the fate of the affected people is still at stake, as if these people are not part of the human race.”

He emphasizes the importance that the international community, principally the United States and European Union, “due to their moral and historic responsibility towards Iraq, cannot be indifferent.” In his view, “the world conscience is not fully awake to the gravity of the situation.”

The Patriarch pointed out that now, with the emigration of Christian refugee families, the “second phase of the calamity” has begun. In his words: “Iraq is losing an irreplaceable component of its society. (…) We do respect the decision of those who wish to migrate, but for those who wish to remain, we underline our long history and deeply rooted heritage in this land. God has his own plan for our presence in this land and invites us to carry the message of love, brotherhood, dignity, and harmonious co-existence.”

However, according to him, safety of the people in this region can only be guaranteed with the cooperation of the international community along with the Central Government of Iraq and the Regional Government of Kurdistan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE : Iraq – Additional Emergency Help of $146,000 Granted by Aid to the Church in Need

ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada

AIDE-1

Montreal, Friday August 8, 2014 – Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is giving an additional emergency aid of $146,000 to support Iraqi Christians who had to flee to Erbil after new attacks during the night of the 6th to the 7th of August in the Christian capital of Iraq – Quaracosh – and in the Nineveh plains.

This sum, added to the first grant sent a few days ago, makes ACN one of the most important donors with help totaling near $300,000.  We call upon all people of good will to enable us to continue our help to Christians in Iraq and in the Middle-East. They will continue to need your help and they are counting on you. You can donate by phone at 514 932-0552, est. 222 or online by following the link.

Speaking over the phone from Erbil, the source, asking to remain anonymous for security reasons told ACN that, following the recent capture by ISIS of the Niniveh Plains, some tens of thousands Christians fled to Duhok and Erbil. “Those who lived between Alqosh and Tall Kayf moved towards Duhok, while the ones staying in the villages between Qaraqosh and Bashiqa reached Erbil,” the source said. In the Kurdistan capital the Church shelters refugees in the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph, located in the Christian section of Ankawa, and in the other churches of the city. “The Church has been doing all it can, but the resources are not sufficient to help so many people, among them women and children, who were forced to leave it all behind: homes and all their personal possessions.” In the past two months about 2000 Christian families have fled to Lebanon, while another 2000 have found refuge in Turkey.

FOUAD TWAL-1

On foot and with their pyjamas

Thousands of people left their homes quickly, unable to carry anything with them. Many of them arrived in Erbil on foot, wearing just their pyjamas. The refugees recounted tragic stories: in Qaraqosh a woman was killed along with her mother and her two children, while in Tall Keyf a young man died from wounds caused by shelling. Besides the plight of the refugees, there is great pain and fear affecting the 100,000 Kurdistan Christians, living mainly Erbil, Duhok, Zahko, Sulaymaniyah and Amadiya.

According to ACN’s source, chances of an ISIS attack on Kurdistan are low, as the area is well protected militarily. Even so, Kurdistan Christians are frightened by what happened to their fellow believers in Mosul and on the Nineveh Plane and fear for the future of their country. “Many families have been here for decades and no one ever thought about leaving before the latest developments. Unlike what happened in other areas of Iraq, in Kurdistan Christians benefited from considerable safety, security and wealth.”

“Many of them have money and can afford to leave and probably they will because they are tired of suffering. They think of their children’s future and they’ve been told by relatives who have emigrated that abroad they will find peace,” the source added.

In his opinion, the current situation and the likely ongoing fighting could lead to the elimination of Christianity from Iraq: “An intervention might mean waiting another 10 years for a better future. There will be only ruins and rebuilding will take time and cause much suffering. Iraqis are exhausted and they wonder whether they’d better wait in another country for the situation to change.”