Articles related to Aid to the Church in Need
The cost of rebuilding Christian villages destroyed by Daesh (ISIS) in northern Iraq could exceed £160 million (US$200 million), according to a survey carried out by a Catholic charity. But, with some Christians already going back to the Nineveh Plains, the report revealed a growing appetite among the displaced communities to go home.
Religious Sisters are transforming communities across Latin America by travelling to isolated parishes that have not seen a priest for years. Mother Lorena told Aid to the Church in Need about the impact of the work being done by the Misioneras de Jesús Verbo y Víctima. When she started working in the parish of Virgen del Carmelo de Villa Ygatimy, Paraguay three years ago some of its chapels had not seen a priest since 2013. Mother Lorena said that the parish is made up of nearly 100 chapels for 20,000 faithful living in scattered rural communities.
The leader of Nigeria's Catholics has made an impassioned plea for peace and dialogue as the country faces violence, crippling economic crisis, and the threat of famine in the north-east, where militants continue to carry out attacks. The call comes at a time of heightened tension amid reports on Friday (3rd March) that three suicide bombers died after detonating explosives under a petrol tanker on the outskirts of the north-eastern city of Maiduguri. No other casualties were reported.
A team from Aid to the Church in Need braved the cold wind and rain yesterday (Sunday, 5th March) to complete a half marathon in Paris, raising money for suffering Christians in the Middle East. Taking part in the 'Fitbit Semi de Paris"' was a group from the charity drawn from around the world - including Mexico, Spain, France and the UK. Neville Kyrke-Smith, ACN UK National Director, led the charity's UK runners who included the charity's British Head of Press and Information
A Sister helping Christian families in war-torn Syria has revealed the severity of the on-going crisis across the country - despite the holding ceasefire. Speaking at Aid to the Church in Need's Area Secretary Conference 2017 at the Karios Centre, Roehampton yesterday (28 February) Sister Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary said: "No house in Syria has been unaffected by war.. In Aleppo there is a major shortage of electricity, sometimes we only have it on for one - two hours
Friend's and staff of a leading Catholic charity's UK office are running the Fitbit Semi de Paris this March, joining European and Latin American colleagues, raising funds for persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Aid to the Church in Need's UK runners of the half-marathon on the 5th March will include Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, John Pontifex, Head of Press and Information, Fr Dominic Robinson SJ, National Ecclesiastical Assistant and assistant priest at Farm Street Parish - as well as Sebastian Cichocki, Maintenance Manager at Farm Street.
The spread of violent jihadist fundamentalism is exposing a chasm between Christians in Africa and the West. Christians under attack in Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Kenya and elsewhere are bewildered that their co-religionists in the relatively prosperous and safe world are not more engaged on their behalf. They also point to deeper doctrinal divisions making them feel isolated, despite the financial generosity of many congregations in Europe and North America. The Reverend Canon Hassan John, director of media of the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Nigeria, and Vicar of St Christopher's Anglican Church,
A contemplative community of religious Sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who pray for persecuted Christians will have their future ensured by a new well - after a chronic shortage of water threatened their survival. "We didn't know how we were going to survive after the collapse of our old well a year ago," Sr Mahele Mwamini, the Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites at the Glorious Saint Joseph Convent, Kinshasa, told Aid to the Church in Need.
Vital help for Syrian mothers and children forced to flee violent extremism is one of nearly 100 new projects announced this month by the UK office of Aid to the Church in Need. The ACN projects include help for vulnerable refugee women being looked after by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Lebanon at their residential centre in Sehaile, Keserwan. The Sisters provide education and training classes as well as counselling to traumatised women who have experienced the violence of war and loss of family members.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil has unveiled plans to provide a future for Iraq's displaced Christians - despite fresh reports showing the extent of the destruction of their homes in the Nineveh Plains. Archbishop Warda said the Churches aim to rebuild "so that the IDPs are able to return to the villages of their forefathers with hope and security". The Chaldean archbishop stressed that reconstruction could not begin until Mosul is liberated and villages are cleared of bombs and booby traps.
Iraqi Christians returning to their homelands trashed by Daesh (ISIS) have described the horror of finding their houses burnt and their churches desecrated. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, eye witnesses reported the destruction caused by the jihadists and how church statues were beheaded and mannequins from a clothes shop were used for shooting practice. Manal Matti used to run a beauty salon near the now fire-damaged Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in the Nineveh Plains.
Aid to the Church in Need has received reports that extremist Islamists are carrying out daily atrocities against Christians - including kidnapping and murder. A source, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons said: "There are many extremists Muslims who commit horrific acts every day - every day we hear about another Christian being murdered... Every day we hear about a fight, a revenge... Al Saed is full of these extremists." Al Saed is a region in southern Egypt, covering the south of Cairo, the Suez Canal area and the Sinai Peninsula.
Extremists driven out of Iraq's the Nineveh Plains "riddled the region with land mines" and "put bombs in children's toys" according to a senior Catholic cleric.Father Luis Montes, Latin Episcopal Vicar for Kurdistan, told Aid to the Church in Need: "Approximately 60 percent 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." He said that members of Daesh (ISIS) had also "put bombs in with children's toys"
Catholic parents whose son was killed by a suicide bomber in the 2016 Easter Sunday attack at Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Pakistan have told Lahore's Archbishop that they have forgiven the man that killed their child. Speaking with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw said: "After celebrating Holy Mass I went up to a married couple to give them my blessing. "They told me that my homily on mercy and pardon had helped them greatly, since they had lost a son in the attack in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park on Easter Sunday and that they had forgiven the suicide bomber who
A Christian mother and son in Iraq have told their story of survival after two years of terror living under Daesh (ISIS). In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, widow Jandark Behnam Mansour Nassi, 55, and her son, 16-year-old Ismail, describe their experiences at the hands of Daesh extremists. Ismail, who the militants jailed, recounts seeing gun-wielding Jihadi children kill orange-clad Daesh prisoners and how he witnessed a woman bound hand and foot being stoned to death.
HRH The Prince of Wales has released a message today describing the "evil" of religious persecution today. The Prince's message - broadcast on BBC Radio 4's 'Thought for the Day'- was inspired by Aid to the Church in Need's recently released Religious Freedom in the World 2016 Report. HRH goes on to highlight the report's key finding that extremism is seeking to eliminate all types of religious diversity. Prince Charles speaks out against the persecution of Christians, Yazidis, Jews, Ahmadis, Baha'is and other groups and stresses how for some people religious freedom is a daily stark choice
HM the Queen sent a personal message, while Prince Charles was the guest of honour.... Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May, sent a letter to be read out to the congregation in which she spoke of how "the appalling violence that has afflicted so many areas of the Middle East reminds us how fortunate we are to live in a country where different religious beliefs are not only tolerated, but welcomed." Yet that welcome did not extend to Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, Archbishop of Mosul or to Timothius Mousa Shamani, Archbishop of St Matthew's...who were refused UK visas to attend the cathedral's consecration in
Religious fundamentalism - more lethal than ever seen before - is unleashing death, destruction, displacement and instability at unprecedented levels, according to a report launched in the House of Commons yesterday, attended by faith leaders and MPs. The Religious Freedom in the World 2016 report, produced by Aid to the Church in Need, warns of the global impact of "a new phenomenon of religiously-motivated violence", which it terms 'Islamist hyper-extremism'.
HRH Prince Charles was presented Aid to the Church in Need's Religious Freedom in the World 2014 Report at Clarence House yesterday. Present at the meeting were religious leaders who had spoken at the parliamentary launch event and senior ACN staff. The Prince met Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri, Chair of the Irish Muslim Peace and Integration Council, Jesuit Father Ziad Hilal from Aleppo, Syria, Dr Sarah Bernstein, Director-General of the Jerusalem Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations and Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK).
Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart of the Melkite Archdiocese of Aleppo will speak on the subject 'What hope for Syria?' in the Hall at Mount Street Jesuit Centre this Friday. All welcome. No charge. The talk, in cooperation with the Aid to the Church in Need UK and Aid to Eastern Christians (L'Oeuvre d'Orient), will address the real issues regarding the future of Syria's Christian community. With half of Syria's population displaced and more than 400,000 people killed due to ongoing civil war, Mgr Jeanbart is visiting London to convey a message of hope for the future of Syria
Funding to reconstruct church buildings destroyed by earthquakes in Ecuador and Nepal form part of a series of aid packages was announced this week by Aid to the Church in Need. Ecuador suffered its worst earthquake in 75 years - more than 500 people died and thousands were injured in the disaster last April. Aid to the Church in Need UK is helping to fund the reconstruction of Ecuador's María Auxiliadora del Cantón Pedernales Catholic Church, a coastal area in the west of the country where more than 95 percent of buildings collapsed.
Christian leaders serving in areas plagued by persecution, terrorist violence and war will speak at an event in Chester tomorrow. The Most Rev Sebastian Shaw, the Catholic Archbishop of Lahore, is coming to the North West to raise awareness of the persecution faced by the Christian minority of Pakistan. The archbishop will make his visit just months after 72 people were massacred on Easter Sunday by a suicide bomber who targeted a Lahore children's playground used by Christian families. He will be joined by Sister Annie Demerjian, who will give an eye-witness account of the plight of civilians caught in
More than one million children in Syria have been signing a petition calling for peace as part of a fresh appeal to political leaders to end the violence engulfing the country. At least 2,000 schools from many parts of Syria are taking part in the initiative in which youngsters have been drawing pictures and writing messages for the attention of the United Nations in Geneva and the European Union in Brussels. The Peace for Children scheme, organised with help from Aid to the Church in Need, involves children of all ages describing in words and pictures the impact of the five-year conflict
If Mosul is recaptured from Daesh (ISIS) it could pave the way for the return of Iraqi Christians to their ancient homelands in neighbouring Nineveh - according to bishops and other Church leaders who want to reach a deal with the government. A delegation to Iraq made up of MPs and clergy led by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, which has provided emergency help for displaced Iraqi Christians, found that Church leaders and other leading Church figures were developing proposals which would enable the faithful
A religious Sister from Syria is to come to the UK to give first-hand testimony about life in Aleppo as part of a series of events organised by Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity helping those suffering persecution. Sister Annie Demerjian and Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan will give personal witness accounts at ACN events both in England and Scotland. In her keynote addresses, Sister Annie is expected to describe her life-threatening work providing emergency aid and spiritual support to
The Church is continuing to provide help for those remaining in Aleppo - despite rebel forces pushing forward to seize the city - including feeding thousands every day. Jesuit priest Fr Ziad Hilal told Aid to the Church in Need: "It is a sad situation for everybody because of the fighting. I couldn't sleep well there because all the night we heard the bombardment and the fighting between the groups." In many cases people are relying on charity for their food, and the Church has stepped in to help feed those left in Aleppo
A project partner of Aid to the Church in Need has warned that the upsurge of fighting in South Sudan will see the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of civilians worsening. One of the charity's South Sudanese project partners, who cannot be named for security reasons, described how renewed violence in Juba has caused immense suffering and increased insecurity amongst its people. Referring to calls from the governments of neighbouring countries Uganda and Kenya for their citizens to leave South Sudan, he said:
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is a Catholic charity working in over 140 countries across the world, helping Christians who are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. An outline of this role and how to access a full job description and apply are below:
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is a Catholic charity working in over 140 countries across the world, helping Christians who are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. We are currently seeking to fill four vacancies, three based in UK National Office in Sutton, Surrey, and one working from home in the Birmingham Archdiocese. An outline of these roles and how to access a full job description and apply are below:
Press & Digital Media Officer - Fulfilling the aim of raising ACN's profile, the primary objective of this full-time role will be to deliver high-quality work for online and hard-copy usage, thereby meeting the growing demand for reliable, well-researched and accessible (audio-visual) aural and written materials.
Prayer, information and action for the suffering Church is the focus of a campaign being launched by a leading Catholic charity at World Youth Day in Poland later this month. Aid to the Church in Need will invite those taking part in the event in Krakow, Poland from 26th-31st July to show solidarity with oppressed and persecuted Christians. The ACN 'Let's be One' campaign is an opportunity for all young people to connect with others who share their faith in the presence of the Pope.
More than 1,000 young people from across Scotland took part in a youth rally on Thursday, 16th June, standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with those who are persecuted and oppressed for their religious faith. The event, involving 26 Catholic schools, was organised by the Scottish office of Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted and oppressed Christians. The focus of the day in Carfin Grotto, Motherwell, was to raise awareness, encourage prayer, and take action in support of the persecuted Church.
A video message by Pope Francis was released on Friday to highlight an awareness and fund-raising initiative by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). The charity's 'Be God's Mercy' initiative marking the Jubilee Year of Mercy was formally launched at a press conference in the offices of Vatican Radio. In his film, the Pope urged people to "carry out works of mercy together with ACN in every corner of the world, in order to meet the many, many needs of today."
Pope Francis is to give his personal support to an awareness and fund-raising campaign organised by a leading Catholic charity to mark the Year of Mercy. Aid to the Church in Need's "Be God's Mercy" initiative will be launched at a press conference on 17 June. The Pope is personally associating himself with the campaign through a video message to be released the same day in which he highlights ACN's work.
Generous Church of England parishioners have raised well over double their target in an ecumenical fund-raising project for suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria. The Anglican Diocese of London surpassed their 2016 Lent appeal's original target of £35,000, hitting the £90,000 mark thanks to a generous response by parishes across the capital. The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd Dr Richard Chartres commended parishioners' efforts to raise funds on behalf of Christian charities Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and Open Doors, with proceeds going to
A bishop in Syria has described desperate efforts 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 Antioine Chbeir stressed that Monday's 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.
A Franciscan priest in bomb-stricken Aleppo has called for the prayers of Christians worldwide, describing what he calls the worst violence since the Syrian conflict began more than five years ago. Fr Ibrahim Alsabagh told Aid to the Church in Need: "Never, since the beginning of this terrible war, were things as bad as they are now. I have no words to describe all the suffering I see on a daily basis." He described seeing rockets and bombs falling on churches, mosques, schools and hospitals. "So many houses have been
Aid to the Church in Need has called on the UK Parliament to support a motion calling on the Government to state that Christians, Yazidis and other minority groups in the Middle East are facing genocide. The charity, which is working closely with Church partners in the region, is asking members of the House of Commons to recognise that the ongoing attacks amount to genocide as defined by international law. ACN UK National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith said: "We strongly urge the Government to put its support behind this
On the eve of fresh peace negotiations in Geneva, the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church has expressed fears that opposition groups taking part include extremists - and have virtually no backing among the people. Talking to Aid to the Church in Need from Al Qaryatayn, which was liberated from Daesh (ISIS) on 3rd April, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II said that some of the Syrian opposition at Geneva III lacked popular support in the country. The Patriarch added: "Of course, I hope that the talks will be successful.
Christians will not be returning to Al Qaryatayn, according to Church sources, despite the Syrian army's success in driving Daesh (IS) from the town. Father Jihad Yousef, of the Syriac-Catholic Order of Mar Musa, told Aid to the Church in Need: "The residents who have fled - both Christians and Muslims - are afraid. They fear that IS may come back again." Although Daesh was driven out of Al Qaryatayn in central Syria early last week, Fr Yousef said it was unlikely life would return to normal soon.
Victims of the Easter Sunday Pakistan bomb blast recovering in hospital have received a personal message of sympathy from the Pope. Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described how he was going from bed to bed visiting the wounded when he received a call on his mobile phone from Vatican officials who said that they had received a message from Pope Francis who was anxious to send a greeting to those wounded and grieving. Latest reports say 72 people - 29 of them children - were killed and more than 340 were injured
Lord David Alton of Liverpool has called on the British Government to act without delay and follow the US by declaring Daesh (ISIS) atrocities a genocide against faith minorities. The Crossbench member of the British House of Lords and trustee of Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (UK) criticised David Cameron's government for being "in a state of complete denial" about the extremists' violence against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite Muslims. Lord Alton made his comments after US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday
Events highlighting the persecution of Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere around the world are being planned for later this month and into the spring. The programme, organised by Aid to the Church in Need, coincides with the launch of the Catholic charity's 'Persecuted Christians Need You' campaign aimed at encouraging prayer, information-sharing and support for those who suffer for their faith.
A bishop in Ethiopia has expressed his horror after the torching and looting of a church compound by the very people being helped by priests and sisters. In a message sent to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Abraham Desta, the Apostolic Vicar of Meki, described how Gighessa parish - "one of the oldest and biggest parishes of the Vicariate of Meki" - was attacked by "the people for whom, and with whom, we work very closely." Bishop Desta, described how villagers "including young and old, women and children...
Jihadists may be to blame for cutting off essential water and electricity supplies in Aleppo, according to a bishop in the city, who fears for the lives of those affected. Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, told Aid to the Church in Need that most of the city - which is undergoing persistent bombardment - have had no electricity for five months and at present have no water too. The bishop said these shortages were the result of targeted attacks and not just collateral damage as a result of the conflict.
Pope Francis' Year of Mercy can help refugees find the strength to forgive says a Sudanese bishop. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum said the Holy Father's Jubilee of Mercy could help those worst affected by the ongoing civil war in South Sudan find peace through forgiveness. During the Holy Year Christians are invited to focus on the merciful God and encouraged to reflect on their faith.
The persecution of Christians is the driving force behind the forthcoming historic meeting between the heads of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches according to a leading Catholic charity's Russian expert. Aid to the Church in Need's Peter Humeniuk said that the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in Cuba had come about "because we are witnessing a persecution of Christians, which... now threatens the survival of Christianity in parts of the world."
Iraqi Christians have expressed their heartache over news that Iraq's oldest Christian monastery has been destroyed by terrorist militia Daesh (ISIS). Father Dankha Issa, an Iraqi monk belonging to the Antonian Order of St Ormizda of the Chaldeans, told Aid to the Church in Need: "St Elijah's Monastery in Mosul was a symbol of the Christian presence in Iraq. The fact that it has been destroyed is terrible." Up to the conquest of Mosul by Daesh in June 2014 thousands of Christians had been living in the predominantly Sunni city in northern Iraq.
Food has become "the most deadly weapon of war" in Syria, according to a leading Catholic charity's Middle East projects coordinator, who says both government and rebel forces are blocking humanitarian aid to force entire communities on the brink of starvation to submit to their rule. Father Andrzej Halemba, from Aid to the Church in Need, says that many groups are preventing food aid from getting through in an attempt to weaken the resistance of opposition groups.
Christians in the Philippine island of Mindanao are suffering "exactly the same" violence and intimidation as in Iraq, according to a long-serving missionary in the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Father Sebastiano D'Ambra highlighted fears of radicalisation in parts of the Philippines after 14 people were killed during attacks on Christmas Day, which included a grenade being thrown at a chapel. Fr D'Ambra, from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) congregation, said: "In some areas of Mindanao we are experiencing exactly the same thing
Emergency aid has been rushed out to Ethiopia by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) amid reports that the famine crisis affecting millions of people has dramatically worsened. Father Haile Gabriel Meleku, deputy secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops' Conference, said he feared the number threatened by famine in the country could be much higher than the 10.2 million government estimate. Saying "the catastrophe can be felt everywhere", Fr Meleku warned of conflict in the desperate struggle for dwindling resources
Aid to the Church in Need has announced a series of extra emergency aid packages for people in Syria and Iraq escaping persecution and grappling with the onset of winter. The charity is rolling out 19 relief programmes in Syria and a further 11 in Iraq - providing food, medicine, shelter and pastoral support. The projects include extra support for families who fled ISIS in northern Iraq: For Christians who took refuge in Baghdad, Iraq, ACN is helping to provide a nursery school for 125 toddlers.
A Lebanese Archbishop has called on Europe to rethink the conflict in Syria following the attacks in Paris. Speaking to ACN, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Issam John Darwish of Zahle and Furzol said he believes the attacks in France were inevitable: "We have always known that ISIS is a danger to the whole world. But Europe hasn't taken it seriously." Archbishop Darwish called for greater action, adding: "It's time to fight Daesh (ISIS) together with the Syrian government.
On Tuesday, Dr Paul Bhatti, brother of the assassinated Pakistani government minister, Shahbaz Bhatti gave a moving account of his brother's life and work, in an address to Members of both Houses and supporters of Aid to the Church in Need, and led a discussion on persecution issues in Pakistan. The other main speakers were Lord Alton, who chaired the event, Dr John Newton, Wilson Chaudhry, Chair of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Rehman Chishti MP, and Revd Rana Khan,
Religious leaders in South Sudan warned that thousands of internal refugees could starve or fall dangerously ill unless a ceasefire stops heavy fighting in the country's Mundri region. Following a visit to the crisis-hit area, members of the Inter-Faith Council for Peace in Western Equatoria described how those who had fled the conflict were now living rough. A statement by the council read: "As we speak people are already dying, and in particular children and elderly people. During the past two months more than 80,000 people had been forced to live in the bush and the jungle
Thousands of Christians are fleeing the Syrian town of Sadad, according to a leading bishop, who has warned of advancing Daesh (ISIS) forces. Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh told Aid to the Church in Need that 15,000 people had already fled Sadad and nearby Al-Hafar since last Saturday when the Islamists begun assaults on nearby towns. With the jihadists seizing Maheen, a town less than five miles from Sadad, a vast exodus was underway to towns and cities including Homs, nearly 40 miles south, Zaidal and Fairouzeh.
The priest of a Syrian Church shelled by Islamist rebels has said that the lives of the congregation were saved by the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Out of 400 Massgoers, only six were injured when a bomb exploded after falling from the roof of St Francis Church in Aleppo, north-west Syria. The attack, which damaged the outside of the building, occurred during the 5pm Mass last Sunday. According to Father Ibrahim Alsabagh of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, who was saying Mass, the shell was probably fired from the old town - which is still under
More and more Christian refugees driven out of their towns and villages by terrorist militia Daesh (ISIS) are leaving Iraq - having lost all hope that they will be able to return home. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that, although the humanitarian situation of displaced Christians in Iraq had improved, the community was continuing to haemorrhage. Archbishop Warda said: "Last year we had 13,500 registered Christian refugee families in our archdiocese. Now there are only about 10,000 left. This means that more
...Masking itself in the cover of conflict, and no doubt fortified by the world's silence, in Syria and Iraq a genocide of Christians is underway. With its echoes of the genocide launched against Armenian Christians one hundred years ago, in 1915, other defenceless ethnic-religious minorities, such as the Yazidis, are also victims of this Islamist genocide. Deep rooted religious hatred, a hatred of difference, is driving on a systematic campaign of deportation and exodus, degrading treatment, including sexual violence, enslavement, barbaric executions, and attempts to
Christianity is being systematically wiped out in many part of the Middle East. In 20 countries around the world Christians face major discrimination, imprisonment and death for their faith - those are the findings of a new report launched this week by Aid to the Church in Need, at a reception in the House of Lords hosted by Lord Alton. Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-15, concludes that if the exodus of faithful from Iraq continues at existing levels, the Church could all but disappear within five years.
The impact of violence, persecution and exodus on Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere will be highlighted in a wide-ranging report due to be released by a leading Catholic charity. Aid to the Church in Need will next week publish Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-15, assessing the situation in 22 countries where there are grave violations of religious freedom including physical attacks, kidnappings and murders.
Offering amnesty to Boko Haram fighters could result in most of the terror group's forces laying down their weapons, according to one of Nigeria's most senior Church figures, who has renewed calls for a peaceful resolution to the insurgency. Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, said that up to 80 percent of Boko Haram fighters did not share the terror group's Islamist ideology and were therefore likely to respond to the chance to lay down their weapons and walk away.
A Nigerian bishop has claimed that more than 100,000 people have been driven out of their homes as a result of a rise in attacks on Christians by Islamist terror group Boko Haram. Bishop Bruno Ateba of Maroua-Mokolo Diocese told Aid to the Church in Need that about 50,000 Cameroonians have been made refugees within their own country. Sandwiched between Nigeria and the Central African Republic
One of Syria's most senior Catholic leaders has issued an impassioned plea to young people, describing a "tsunami" of youth emigration and begging them to stay. Referring to "an almost communal wave of youth emigration", Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III said the exodus was so severe it begged serious questions about the future of the Church in Syria. In an open letter to youth, the Damascus-based prelate said emigration of Christian youth was especially severe in Syria but was also of grave concern elsewhere in the Middle East.
In a strongly-worded statement addressed to the Iraqi government, the leader of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Raphael Louis Sako called on his country's leaders to do their utmost to defeat "extremist groups that wear religious habits [whose] use of violence to extend their control are a danger to all." The thinly veiled reference to Daesh (ISIS) came in a letter dated Thursday 6 August 2015, exactly one year after more than 120,000 Christians fled the Nineveh Plane after Daesh's capture of Qaraqosh, the last Christian majority town in Iraq.
One year on from the mass exodus of more than 120,000 Christians from Qaraqosh following an invasion by Daesh (ISIS), Aid to the Church in Need has announced new projects providing emergency aid and much needed pastoral support for displaced people in Iraq. The new help was announced exactly one year after Christians living in Qaraoshthe largest Christian city in Iraq were forced to flee as Kurdish troops withdrew and the terrorist organisation Daesh advanced.
Jihadist camps made up of nearly 1,500 children as young as nine have been uncovered in central Africa, according to reports received by a leading Catholic charity at work in the region. Sources close to Aid to the Church in Need - who cannot be named for security reasons - stated that poverty-stricken youngsters are being lured off the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo and taken to remote camps where they are being brutalised and indoctrinated by Islamist militia.
People from South Sudan are being driven to starvation as a result of ongoing conflict - according to a Catholic charity which carried out a fact-finding visit to Africa's youngest country. Aid to the Church in Need, describes in a report on South Sudan how displaced people in the north-east - have been so hungry they have had to scavenge for grass and berries. One of the nearly 20,000 registered civilians seeking protection in the United Nations Mission in Unity and Upper Nile states told the charity they felt they had been abandoned.
A priest who was killed in Syria while caring for his people trapped in a war zone should be considered for canonisation, according to a fellow Jesuit who was his friend and colleague. Father Francs van der Lugt was assassinated by an unknown sniper in April 2014 at his home in Homs. The Dutch Jesuit had lived in Syria for more than 40 years and was based in Homs, caring for the Christians trapped in the Old City during a siege that lasted three years. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Ziad Hilal said the Vatican "should consider making Fr Francs a saint".
AN arson attack on a church in Israel revered as the site of a miracle by Jesus Christ is part of a deepening cycle of violence against Christians, according to a Holy Land bishop who fears worse is to come. Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said the attack on Thursday, 18th June) on the Catholic Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves close to the Sea of Galilee increases his concerns that extremist Jews are out to target other faith communities, notably Christians. A Benedictine monk and a visitor to the site in Tabgha were treated for
India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has failed to keep his promise on action to protect Christians under increasing threat from extremist violence - according to one of the country's most respected Cardinals. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, highlighted the need for government action to protect Christians and vulnerable religious minorities in India amid a rise inattacks by Hindu radicals. Of the government, he said: "They have not come out to protect and defend. The Prime Minister has only once spoken in defence
Government should step up efforts in Iraq to "free" Mosul and neighbouring Nineveh from so-called Islamic State so Christians and others can fulfil their dream of returning home - according to a leading archbishop from the region. Marking the first anniversary of the fall of his city to the Islamist terror group, Syrian Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Mouche made an impassioned plea to the "people who have the responsibility" to remove IS and enable people forced out to return and rebuild their lives.
The total aid paid out by Aid to the Church in Need topped €100 million (£73 million) for the first time in 2014 - with persecution and upheaval placing increased demands on the Catholic charity for those who suffer for their faith. The record-breaking figure of €105 million (£76.7 million) - published in the charity's annual report - showed that last year the charity paid out €17 million (£12.4 million) more than in 2013.
Full-scale intervention by the West is urgently needed "to halt these monstrosities" being perpetrated in Syria and Iraq, according to the bishop whose diocese is at the epicentre of the conflict. In an impassioned plea sent to Aid to the Church in Need, Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart described how his archbishopric in Aleppo - already hit more than 20 times by mortar shells - had once again come under fire.
The bishop overseeing the needs of displaced Christian families in northern Iraq called on an ecumenical delegation to ensure Britain does not forget the plight of Iraq's suffering Christians. Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil made the plea to UK Christian leaders from the Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Anglican communities visiting northern Iraq. Archbishop Warda said: "The needs are huge - the Church has achieved a lot here, but there is such a lot to do. Please remember us and please keep telling the story in churches, in the media and to your politicians -
Another priest has been kidnapped in Syria. Local Christians fear Islamic extremists have seized him. Father Jacques Mourad was travelling in Qaryatayn with a co-worker on Thursday, when two motorcycles drew up alongside their car. The kidnappers seized the vehicle and abducted the priest. Qaryatayn is a small town around 65 miles (100 km) southwest of Palmyra, which was seized by IS/Daish on Wednesday, 20th May. For the past 12 years Fr Mourad had been ministering to Qaryatayn's Syriac Catholic community.
A Religious Sister in Syria helping people under bombardment has described how one family discovered their 18-year-old son hanging dead from a power cable, after he was flung from their house by a bomb which landed on their home. As well as losing their son Michel in the explosion, the Christian family from Aleppo are grieving his brother, Annor, who was in his early 20s, and their mother.
More than 5,000 Catholics in north-east Nigeria have been killed and at least 100,000 have been displaced, according to a fresh report which highlights the scale of atrocities against Christians in the heartland of Islamist terror group Boko Haram. The 'Situation Report on the activities of Boko Haram in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri' states that more than 350 churches in the diocese have been badly attacked, "a good number of them destroyed more than once."
People from across Manchester and beyond are to take part in an overnight vigil - the first of its kind - being held in support of persecuted Iraqi Christians and others who suffer oppression. ONE NIGHT for Religious Freedom will take place at Holy Name Church, Oxford Road, central Manchester this Saturday, 18th April, starting at 8pm. Organised by Aid to the Church in Need and hosted by the Jesuits at the Holy Name, ONE NIGHT has received support from large sections of the community in a city now home to 18,000 people with Iraqi origins.
Aid to the Church in Need has called on the Government to act to save persecuted Christians and other faith groups in Iraq and Syria after a UN human rights office report said recent atrocities there could be classed as 'genocide'. The report, based on interviews with more than 100 alleged victims and witnesses, called on the security council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court. While welcoming the report, ACN has demanded the UK Government take action to address the situation. The report highlights substantial human rights violations, including killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery, forced religious conversions
A petition calling for the release of a Christian woman sentenced to hang for blasphemy in Pakistan has topped half a million signatures. The online petition calls for the release of mother-of-five Asia Bibi, who was condemned to death in November 2010. She was convicted of blasphemy after a heated conversation with Muslim co-workers. The campaign received a surge in support last week, with the number of signatures rising to more than 570,000. The Change.org petition was organised by university student Emily Clarke, who was moved by the plight of Asia Bibi, the first woman to be
Following the gang rape of a 72-year-old religious Sister in eastern India, Aid to the Church in Need has demanded that Prime Minister Modi condemns growing Christian persecution. Police in eastern India are searching for a group of six men who gang-raped the elderly nun in West Bengal. The men ransacked the convent school of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat sometime before 7am on 14 March, and stole money before entering the convent itself. According to reports, the convent's 72-year-old religious superior was attacked and raped while trying to stop the intruders.
Terrorist group Islamic State has started killing hostages seized after it took Assyrian Christian villages in Syria’s Hassake governorate – with reports that around 15 are dead. In a message sent to Catholic agencies working in the region, including Aid to the Church in Need. Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana passed on news of the executions from a contact in Hassake city on Friday, and said the number still being held exceeds 350. Archimandrite Youkhana, who supports persecuted Christians in the Middle East, said: “Around 15 young Assyrians are martyred. Many of them were fighting to defend and protect the villages and families.”
The extremist group Islamic State has now released some of the Christian hostages it seized in north-east Syria last week. According to London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, today, 19 captives have been released – 18 were from the village of Tel Goran, one of the Assyrian Christian villages in Hassake governorate captured on 23 February, The other captive is not thought to have been seized during these attacks. All 19 were reported to have arrived safely at St Mary’s Church in the town of Hassake.
Extremist terror group Islamic State has attacked Christian villages in north-east Syria. The assault took place yesterday (Monday, 23rd February) targeting Assyrian villages in the Khabour region of Syria’s Hassake governorate. Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana spoke to a contact in Hassake city where around 400 families have fled following the advance of IS. “Bishop Mar Aprem Athniel… told me the church and community hall are overloaded with the people and they are now [sending] them to the families in Hassake city.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols welcomed Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq on Wednesday. Archbishop Bashar has been visiting the UK to ask for additional humanitarian help and protection for Iraqi Christians fleeing IS. The Archbishop was accompanied on this visit by a delegation that included Neville Kyrke-Smith, UK National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), ACN Head of Press and Information John Pontifex, Dr Suha Russam, Iraqi Christians in Need Trustee, and Fr Nadheer Dako, the Chaldean Catholic Chaplain in Westminster Diocese.
This weekend’s ‘Songs of Praise’ – tomorrow, 8 February 2015 at 5pm on BBC One – will feature a clip of HRH The Prince of Wales talking about his concern for Christians in the Middle East and about his visits, before Christmas, to Middle East Christian communities in London – including his meeting with ACN and the Chaldean community. BBC Radio 4’s ‘Sunday Programme’ beginning at 7.10am will also feature a clip of Archbishop Bashar Warda, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq commenting on Prince Charles’ fears for the survival of Christianity in the Middle East.
Increased Boko Haram violence in north-east Nigeria could derail the country’s forthcoming elections, according to a priest in the region. In a message sent to ACN, Fr Gideon Obasogie described how Borno State’s capital, Maiduguri, had been attacked repeatedly as the extremists seized and occupied nearby towns and villages. The priest said residents are concerned that the city – which the terrorists have tried to seize three times over the last week – will be overrun, but political leaders seem more concerned with the forthcoming elections.
An archbishop from Kurdish northern Iraq grappling with the influx of more than 120,000 Christians fleeing ISIS, is to come to London to plead their cause. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil is due to give an address in the Houses of Parliament on Monday, 9 February amid increasing concerns about the future of Christians who escaped from Mosul and Nineveh with no more than the clothes they were wearing. At the House of Lords event sponsored by human rights campaigner Lord David Alton of Liverpool,
MSP Clare Adamson has given her backing to a campaign of solidarity with persecuted Christians spearheaded by a leading Catholic charity in Scotland. The Scottish National Party member for Central Scotland stated her support for Aid to the Church in Need’s Solidarity Campaign – which at a time of increased Christian persecution is calling on Scots to stand up for religious freedom. In a statement to ACN, Clare Adamson MSP said: “The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 18
An archbishop from Kurdish northern Iraq grappling with the influx of more than 120,000 Christians fleeing ISIS, is to come to London to plead their cause. Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil is due to give an address in the Houses of Parliament on Monday, 9 February amid increasing concerns about the future of Christians who escaped from Mosul and Nineveh with no more than the clothes they were wearing. At the House of Lords event sponsored by human rights campaigner Lord David Alton of Liverpool,
Syrian university students in Homs were the target of a terror attack that left 15 people dead and at least 50 injured, according to a priest based in the city when the blast took place The car bomb exploded in a busy street in the centre of Homs – the third largest city in Syria – on Wednesday, 21 January around midday. Jesuit priest Father Ziad Hilal, who runs aid centres supported by Aid to the Church in Need, told the Catholic charity that Christians were among the victims even though al-Hadara Street, where the attack took place,
Pope Francis would be “100 percent” safe if he visited Iraq, according to the Patriarch of Baghdad, who has stressed the importance of such a trip to the country’s dwindling Christian community. In an interview apparently accusing Papal advisors of being overcautious, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako described any such visit as having “high pastoral and spiritual symbolism”. Outlining an itinerary for a possible one-day Papal visit to Iraq, the Patriarch
The Prince of Wales visited the Iraqi Chaldean Christian community in London on Tuesday, to hear about their first-hand experiences of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Speaking at a Catholic church service in west London, The Prince said that we have a "duty of care" towards the families of those who are being executed on camera by terrorist groups in the Middle East. "We hear much at present about the 'duty of care',"
Western politicians are ignoring suffering Christians in Iraq thinking they offer no “economic advantage” – according to the head of one of the most ancient Churches in the Middle East. Patriarch Joseph III Younan of Antioch and All the East said that the Western world had been largely silent about the situation facing Christians in northern Iraq... Patriarch Joseph said: “The international policy makers have other policies when it comes to minorities, who have neither the numbers, nor riches to make them attractive.. And we have no oil
China’s government has stepped up its persecution of the country’s Christians, according to a leading Chinese prelate. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, former bishop of Hong Kong, criticised the government’s recent actions towards members of the country’s growing Christian churches. He said: “The Chinese government has intensified the persecution recently. We have seen demolished churches, crosses taken away from the buildings, therefore there’s not much we can hope for immediately.
A Catholic bishop in Jerusalem has thanked pilgrims from Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need for going ahead with the trip in spite of increased tension in the Holy Land. Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said the pilgrimage led by ACN UK National Director Neville Kyrke-Smith had “strengthened” the local community. The visit came after Israeli police used stun grenades to disperse the crowds after Muslims tried last Wednesday
The head of Nigeria’s Catholic bishops has told senior politicians and representatives from faith groups in Scotland that for the cycle of religious violence to be overcome leaders must meet and “confront” issues openly and honestly. Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, addressed an audience at Edinburgh’s Gillis Centre for the Scottish launch of Aid to the Church in Need’s report on religious freedom. Hosting the event was Archbishop Leo Cushley
A senior Dominican in Pakistan condemned the murder of a man and his pregnant wife for blasphemy as the worst religiously motivated hate crime in the country’s history. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr James Channan OP said: “The barbaric act by fanatic Pakistani Muslims of burning alive a poor Christian couple is a crime against humanity. It is the worst crime in the history of Pakistan committed in the name of religion.” On Tuesday 4 November, a mob killed Shama Bibi, who was four months pregnant, and her husband Shahbaz Masih,
One of the most senior Christian leaders in Africa will visit Manchester tomorrow to deliver a lecture on religious freedom. The Most Rev Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos, is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, a country which this year witnessed the horrific abduction of 276 female students by the Boko Haram terrorist group and which was yesterday named as one of about 20 nations in the world where levels of religious persecution are “high”.
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has highlighted the need for action to uphold religious freedom in a video address given today (Tuesday) in the House of Lords. The Prince was speaking in a video address to Parliamentarians and faith leaders at the launch of the Religious Freedom in the World Report 2014 – a comprehensive study of the state of religious freedom for people of all faiths around the globe – published by the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
A Catholic bishop responsible for the area worst affected by Boko Haram has described the desperate needs of those who have fled the terrorist group – hitting out at the government for its failure to protect citizens. Responding to an urgent request from Bishop Oliver Doeme of Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has just approved £35,500 in aid for refugees who fled attacks by the Islamist terrorists in northern Nigeria. Following Boko Haram’s attacks on towns and villages in the northeast, thousands of Internal Displaced People (IDP) –
The necessity for UK Christians and non-Christians alike to stand in solidarity with persecuted and oppressed Christians throughout the world was emphasised at events in Motherwell, near Glasgow, and London, organised by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN). Each of the events – the first in Motherwell Cathedral last Thursday, and the other one two days later in Westminster – attracted about 250 people. The keynote speaker at both ACN events was Maronite Archbishop Elias Nassar of Saida, Lebanon.
The leaders of Iraq’s Christians have called on the United Nations to urgently address the growing refugee crisis before a freezing winter forces displaced Christians to leave the country. “We Christians in Iraq have a future if the international community gives us immediate assistance. Don’t forget us,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako told a conference at the UN in Geneva. The patriarch told the delegates that “People are disappointed how little help has been received to date.” He was addressing a conference
A Catholic charity is sending out nearly £300,000 in emergency aid to Syria to help persecuted Christians and other suffering communities amid stark warnings about the survival of the Church in key regions of the Middle East. Sister Annie Demerjian of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary told charity Aid to the Church in Need: “If we want the Christians to remain in the Middle East, then we must help them with what they need in order to survive.” In response to urgent appeals from those working in Syria,
HRH The Prince of Wales has made a personal donation to help Christians terrorised in northern Iraq and offered a heartfelt message of sympathy and support. The payment – which is being made through Aid to the Church in Need, the international charity for persecuted Christians – will go to provide food, shelter and medicine for Christians taking refuge in the Kurdish north of the country. In August alone, 120,000 Christians fled their ancient homelands in the Nineveh plains after the region was seized
The international head of Aid to the Church in Need has called on the world’s governments to act immediately to keep Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. “If we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq, the international community must respond decisively now,” said Baron Johannes Heereman. He made the statement after returning from Erbil, Iraq, where the charity is supporting the Church’s emergency aid for internal refugees.
The plight of thousands of displaced people suffering in soaring temperatures has been highlighted by a delegation from a charity for persecuted Christians now in northern Iraq. The team of three from Aid to the Church in Need, including the Executive President, Baron Johannes Heereman and Projects Director Regina Lynch have been visiting internal refugees desperate for sanctuary both in the Kurdish regional capital, Erbil, and towns and villages further north.
Iraqis fleeing persecution are to receive emergency help of nearly £80,000 (US$130,000) after a Catholic charity for suffering Christians announced an aid package amid desperate calls for help. In response to appeals for aid from Iraq’s most senior bishop, Aid to the Church in Need agreed a grant to help people desperate for food and shelter having fled advancing forces from the Islamic State (formerly ISIS). This latest grant comes on top of ACN emergency aid given in June soon after the Islamic State seized Mosul.
Bishop William Shomali, who has pastoral responsibility for Latin-Rite Catholics in Gaza, has made an urgent appeal to Aid to the Church in Need for support for victims of the Gaza bombardment. He said: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is very bad... We ask for your help for the poor and those injured by the war. Now, more than ever before, is the time to aid the people in Gaza.” In response to the bishop’s plea, Aid to the Church in Need sent out €50,000 in emergency aid and stands poised to provide further help.
The UK head of a Catholic charity has hit out at the British Government for helping “to lay the foundations” for the rise of extremists in Iraq who have flushed out the last remaining Christians from Mosul after 1,600 years. Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said the UK’s response to uprisings in the Middle East “has blown up in our face” and called on the Government to help form “an axis of moderation” in the region. He went on to warn that, unless action was taken, “before long” the UK could be in line
Up to 2,000 people from the Iraqi Christian community in the United Kingdom, together with British Christian and Muslim supporters, held a vigil near Parliament Square, Westminster on Saturday, 26 July, to protest at the persecution of Christians in Iraq. There were readings, prayers, hymns and chants, before a delegation walked down Whitehall to Number Ten Downing Street to present a petition. The vigil was led by Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Toma Dawood, Syrian Catholic Monsignor Nizar Semaan, Chaldean Catholic
Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need, issued an appeal for people to join UK Iraqi Christians in an act of solidarity at Parliament on Saturday (26 July) at 12 noon. The event, organised by Eastern-rite Church leaders in London, follows reports that over the past few days more than 1,500 people have fled Mosul city, northern Iraq. Their sudden departure comes after the Islamic state, formerly called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS),
A "brutal" attack on nuns in Bangladesh – said to be the first of its kind in the country – has been condemned by the bishop of the diocese. Following reports that Sisters from the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions were violently assaulted, Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur spoke to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need about the incident. The bishop reported that up to 60 armed men targeted the Catholic mission in Boldipukur on 7 July at 2am, attacking the presbytery, the convent and the hospital.
A bishop has warned that more Sudanese Christians could suffer severe violations of human rights – like Mariam Ibrahim – stating that their legal protection in the country has been taken away. Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, in neighbouring South Sudan, described the "worrying" legal situation of Christians since his country seceded from Sudan in July 2011. Stressing concerns for fellow clergy in particular, Bishop Hiiboro said: "In Sudan bishops and priests have been living de facto as illegals since
The London 10K run takes place this Sunday, 13 July. Thousands of participants will set off from Piccadilly, past The Ritz, St James's Palace, Trafalgar Square, St Paul's, across the River Thames, along the South Bank to the Palace of Westminster before finishing at Whitehall. Among the runners are father and son Gerry and James Teague (pictured) who are hoping to raise funds in order to take at least one child to Lourdes next Easter with the HCPT Chiswick Group 144. Gerry said: "It costs over £740 to take one child on the pilgrimage,
The Church in Iraq is on the brink of disappearing into obscurity, according to the country's leading bishop, who says the migration of Christians has shot up. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad described how the rate of Christians leaving Iraq was growing and went on to raise the spectre of Christianity in Iraq coming "to an end". In an interview with Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need given at the close of a Synod of Chaldean bishops held in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan,
...Bishop Sirop said: “We fear a civil war. If the various different opposing internal parties do not succeed in finding an agreement, then we must expect the worst. Another war would mean the end, especially for us Christians.”.. Echoing concerns about international military intervention made on Monday by Latin-rite Catholic Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad, Bishop Sirop called for diplomatic pressure – especially from the USA – to reach an accord between the leaders of Iraq, Sunni and Shi‘a in particular.
The international community should not intervene in the struggle against ISIS extremists in Iraq, according to the Archbishop of Baghdad, who says the priority is for Iraqi leaders to "work together" to overcome the crisis. In an interview yesterday, Archbishop Jean Sleiman stressed that political "consensus" within Iraq was critical in overcoming the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which last week pulled off a series of military take-overs of key northern cities including Mosul, the country's second city.
A graphic account of the Islamist takeover of Mosul and the people's desperate struggle to flee to safety has come from the city's Chaldean bishop. Speaking today (Wednesday 11 June) to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Amel Nona, said he thought Mosul's last remaining Christians had left now a city which until 2003 was home to 35,000 faithful. The Christians are among 500,000 thought to have fled Mosul whose overthrow yesterday is now followed by news today of militant attacks on the Iraqi city of Tikrit 95 miles north of the capital, Baghdad.
The leader of Roman Catholics in Egypt has spoken of how Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's victory in the presidential elections is a "cause for hope" both for Christians and Muslims in the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Adel Zaky, Vicar Apostolic of Alexandria and supreme head of Roman (Latin-rite) Catholic Christians in Egypt, welcomed last Thursday's news of success for the former commander-in-chief of the Egyptian armed forces.
The leader of the Christian community which suffered India's worst persecution in modern times has warned that the country's new government could spell disaster for minority groups – but not if it remains true to its promise to govern for all. Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, in Odisha (formerly called Orissa), eastern India, said he hoped new Prime Minister Narendra Modi would stick to his promise to govern for every community, irrespective of caste or creed, tackling widespread corruption and providing good governance.
The international community should stop posturing and start providing practical support in the struggle against extremist violence in Nigeria – according to one of the country's most senior Church leaders, whose city was rocked by attacks on 20 May which killed more than 100 people. Critical of the headline-grabbing displays of solidarity and statements of support by the United Nations and others, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama said the Nigerian government urgently needed more outside help to defeat Boko Haram.
A friend and colleague of murdered Jesuit priest Father Frans van der Lugt is helping disabled children and destitute families in Syria. Aid to the Church in Need is supporting a pastoral centre in the city of Homs headed by Fr Ziad Hilal SJ which is providing medical assistance for those with physical disabilities and education for youngsters with learning difficulties - as well as humanitarian aid. Fr Hilal started the centre's work in 2012 at the request of Fr Frans van der Lugt, who was killed last month while looking after Christian families trapped
Aid to the Church in Need seeks a Community Fundraising Officer. Aid to the Church in Need is a Catholic charity helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action; the charity is a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church.... This post will initially report to the PA to the National Director until the Community Fundraising Manager is appointed, and will provide key administrative support. The Officer will be administratively responsible for setting up and managing local and national ACN events across England, Scotland and Wales,
Tributes have been pouring in to Dutch Jesuit Fr Francs van der Lugt who was killed yesterday in the besieged city of Homs. Fr Francs was shot twice in the head by an unknown sniper while he tended his small garden. Speaking from Syria, fellow Jesuit Fr Ziad Hillal explained that Fr Francs had been looking after a group of Christians trapped in the Old City who were sheltering in an old monastery. Several had managed to leave during a truce but 20 or more were still left and he had remained to take care of those who could not leave.
Farm Street Jesuit Church in central London is hosting a new Syria Shrine at its Seven Dolours Altar to pray for peace in Syria, for its many refugees, and for Italian Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio SJ. Fr Dall’Oglio, who has been involved in reconciliation ministry in Syria for more than three decades, has been missing since July 2013. On Tuesday 8 April Farm Street is hosting a Lenten Evening of Reflection and Witness to raise awareness and funds for the Syrian refugee relief project through Aid to the Church in Need.
A Lenten Witness on behalf of Christians suffering the Way of the Cross in Syria will take place at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Mount Street, London, at 7pm on 8 April. There will be talks by Lord David Alton of Liverpool and John Pontifex from Aid to the Church in Need and a selection of classical Motets for the season of Lent from the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. The Musical Director for the evening with be Charles Cole.
More than 2,000 people in northern Nigeria risked their lives by turning out for Sunday Mass while their city was being bombed. Describing St Patrick’s Cathedral, Maiduguri, as “packed”, Father John Bakeni, the celebrant at the Mass, said people told him afterwards that if the attacks worsened they would prefer to die in church than anywhere else. Sunday’s Mass took place after suspected Boko Haram extremists launched one of their biggest armed campaigns of recent months, firing rocket-propelled grenades
Hundreds of Christian families determined to stay in Syria have moved to Homs, close to where some of the conflict’s worst violence has taken place. Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Jean Abdon Arbach of Homs said that significant parts of the city and the surrounding area are now “calm” but went on to warn of oppression of Christians in the rebel-held north of the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, which has prioritised emergency help for Syria’s faithful, the archbishop said 20,000 Christians now live in Homs
Rape, sexual assaults, looting and killings have taken place as rebel troops left the Central African Republic and withdrew to Chad – including the attempted rape of religious Sisters. Fr Aurelio Gazzera, Director of Caritas in Bouar Diocese, told Aid to the Church in Need that attacks had increased as members of the now disbanded Seleka militia group left the country. Seleka, which seized power in the Central African Republic in March 2013 and was dissolved last September, was the result of a merger of militia units including ones from Chad and Sudan.
A Christian human rights campaigner who left Pakistan has described how he received death threats while pursuing justice for his murdered brother. Dr Paul Bhatti gave an impassioned plea on behalf of suffering minority groups in Pakistan in interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, after news broke that he had left his country for Italy. Denying that he had fled the country for his own safety, the former Pakistani minister of national harmony and minority affairs said his visit to Italy was pre-arranged and added that he would soon return to his country
The brutal crackdown on demonstrators in Ukraine is acting as a recruiting sergeant for the protest movement, according to a bishop, who described the country as engaged "in a battle for dignity". Bishop Borys Gudziak, Eparch of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Eparchy of Paris, defended protestors on the streets coming under fire from government forces, but repeated calls that they do not take up arms.... Bishop Gudziak spoke out against the violent security response to the demonstrations, describing protestors as prayerful and non-violent.
Coptic Catholic Bishops in Egypt have hailed the result of the referendum on the country's new constitution which they say represents a crucial step towards religious freedom and other civil liberties. In interviews with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishops Kyrillos William of Assiut, Upper Egypt, Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza and Joannes Zakaria of Luxor all spoke of their delight at last week's vote, which officials say showed a 98 percent 'yes' vote for the new constitution, drafted under the country's interim regime.
Islamist groups have killed and beheaded a young Christian man, seriously wounding another. The incident, which occurred on 8 January, has just been reported to Fides by a priest in the diocese of Homs. The two, Firas Nader, 29, and Fadi Matanius Mattah, 34, were traveling by car from Homs to the Christian village of Marmarita. A group of five armed jihadists intercepted the vehicle and opened fire on the car. Upon reaching the car, militiamen, noting that Fadi was wearing a cross around his neck, beheaded him.
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Egypt's Coptic Christians had reason to be of good cheer this Christmas after early reports showed that their festive celebrations passed off without incident – unlike in previous years. Government security was tight at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, in Alexandria and other high-profile churches during the liturgies marking Christmas, which in the Coptic rite fell on Tuesday (7 January). Turnout was higher than normal at the liturgies which went ahead as normal in contrast to previous years,
Aid to the Church in Need has rushed through a series of new emergency aid packages as hunger and sub-zero temperatures threaten the lives of people across Syria and neighbouring countries. Increasingly alarmed by the deepening crisis engulfing the region, the charity has agreed aid – food, heating, shelter and medicine – for some of the worst-affected regions in Syria as well as for those seeking sanctuary over the border. Destitute communities in Homs, Marmarita and Sadad
Backbenchers reacted with anger, as a foreign office minister tried to play down the persecution of Christians during an "impassioned debate" on the subject in the House of Commons. During a debate in parliament yesterday (Tuesday 3 December) calling on the UK government "to do more both in its foreign policy and through its aid work to defend and support people of Christian faith", MPs accused front benchers of trying to widen it to a general discussion of human rights.
A leading Bosnian bishop has hit out against the government for preventing Catholic refugees from coming home. "Politicians from the West must put pressure on Bosnian politicians so that Catholic war refugees can also return to Bosnia at long last," said Bishop Franjo Komarica of Banja Luka Diocese, Bosnia-Herzegovina. Talking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Komarica, chair of the Bishop's Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina, called on politicians to make sure refugees' basic rights are respected.
Scotland's Catholics remembered the founder of Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, at a special Mass in the centenary year of his birth. The life and work of Dutch Norbertine priest, Fr Werenfried van Straaten, was celebrated at the eleventh Memorial Mass held at St Brides, Cambuslang on Monday (18 November) at 7pm. Aid to the Church in Need's Head of Operations in Scotland, Lorraine McMahon described this year's event as "a milestone", as 2013 marked the hundredth anniversary of Fr Werenfried's birth,
Warnings from Baroness Warsi that Christianity could be wiped out in the Middle East have been endorsed by the UK head of Aid to the Church in Need. Neville Kyrke-Smith, the national director of Aid to the Church in Need, praised the UK government minister for highlighting the persecution of Christians in her speech at Georgetown University, Washington, USA on 15 November and backed her conclusions. Baroness Warsi said: "A mass exodus is taking place, on a biblical scale.
Horrific details are emerging of atrocities carried out in a Christian town in Syria, where 1,500 families were held hostage and 45 were killed, including two teenage boys, their mother and three of their grandparents who were thrown down a well. Inhabitants of Sadad, near Homs, who fled the largely Syrian Orthodox town when rebels attacked last month, are now returning home to discover the scale of atrocities in what is being seen as the worst act of anti-Christian persecution since the war in Syria began.
Bombs, kidnapping and financial extortion are among the problems facing Syria's Christians, the leader of the country's Catholics told a meeting in Westminster Cathedral Hall. Speaking to more than 300 benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Gregorios III, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, said: "Syria is experiencing a lengthy, bloody way of the cross, stretching along all the country's roads."... "You may think it is safe here or unsafe there, but at any moment you may be killed by bomb, missile or bullet, not to mention being kidnapped
The situation in the Central African Republic is deteriorating dramatically – according to a Catholic missionary working in the country. Fr Aurelio Gazzera told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that “the situation is getting worse and worse” in the north-westerly Archdiocese of Bouar. The Italian Carmelite priest said: “Events have occurred thick and fast in recent days, and the aggressiveness of the rebels has increased.” Fr Gazzara reported that more than 3,500 houses have been burned down in Bohong and the bodies of those killed are still lying in the streets.
An urgent appeal opposing armed intervention in Syria, made by a Damascus-based Patriarch, was heard during a debate in the UK Houses of Parliament. Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, 29 August, Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury quoted Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III who said that armed intervention by the West in Syria would only "fuel" violence and unrest. The Patriarch had made his comments in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, stressing that, in spite of the growing conflict, reconciliation initiatives were still viable.
The UK head of Aid to the Church in Need is calling on people to pray for peace in Egypt after a sudden spike in attacks on Copts in the wake of President Mohammed Morsi’s dramatic downfall. Neville Kyrke-Smith, whose fact-finding trip to Egypt coincided with the demonstrations that preceded President Morsi’s fall from power, spoke of his concern about a “specific and targeted assault” on Christians across the country since the change of regime.
The UK director of Aid to the Church in Need has given a first-hand account of last weekend's mass protest in Egypt – in which at least three people died in a drive-by shooting near Assiut's Coptic Catholic Cathedral. Passing on appeals for prayers for peace from two senior clerics, Aid to the Church in Need's Neville Kyrke-Smith described being in Assiut, on the banks on the Nile in Upper Egypt, as the city was consumed by protests. Mr Kyrke-Smith said: "I left Assiut last night [Sunday 30 June] where there was a lot of violence in the streets and protests taking place.
The leader of Catholic Copts has called on the world to pray for peace in Egypt amid growing tensions as millions throng the streets in rival protests. Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Sidrak of Alexandria highlighted the growing crisis and unrest across the country in the build-up to a weekend of demonstrations marking one year since Mohammed Morsi became the country's first Islamist president. With protests already attracting nearly three million people and signs that the numbers will dwarf
rare chance to hear the renowned vocal ensemble Lyra, from St Petersburg, when they give a special performance of Russian Orthodox sacred chants, folk and classical music at St Thomas More's Church in Manor House, north London, on 9 June, to raise funds for Aid to the Church in Need's work in Syria. Aid to the Church in Need has strong historical links to the Church in Russia and Eastern Europe. The concert promises to be a privileged glimpse into Russian culture, as well as a wonderful gesture of solidarity with the Church in Syria.
Churches and mission stations are being looted, destroyed and pillaged by militia soldiers directly under the Central African Republic's new government. Sources in the country told Aid to the Church in Need that a number of Christians have been killed or wounded in attacks by Islamist rebel group Séléka which seized control of the country in March. Attacks include the pillaging of the Holy Ghost Fathers' motherhouse by armed gunmen on the night of 25 March and the abduction of Fr Dieu-Béni Banga, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Bangui, and Fr Francis
An Ascension Day concert for Syria uplifted people's faith as well as helping refugees fleeing persecution and conflict. Up to 200 people attended the Marilla Ness concert at St Francis Xavier's Church, Carfin which raised more than £700 for Aid to the Church in Need's Syria campaign. Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of Aid to the Church (UK), said: "On Ascension Day in Scotland, our faith was buoyed up by Marilla Ness, who helped us raise our hearts to the Lord." He added: "She has a really lovely voice, and her singing is very meditative
Nigeria's leading bishop has told the European Parliament and other politicians that his country is being jeopardised by "the twin monsters of corruption and insecurity". Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need invited Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, and Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto to meet with officers of the European Union to reveal the scale of the problems facing one of the EU's three priority countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Scotland's Catholics are showing their support for the suffering people of Syria with two key events organised by a Catholic charity helping the Middle East's oppressed Christians. Aid to the Church in Need will be holding a Mass for the country's beleaguered faithful and putting on a concert by Christian singer Marilla Ness to raise money for Church help for displaced people and refugees from Syria who have had to flee their homes because of the conflict. Support from the charity
An urgent appeal for the release of two archbishops kidnapped in Syria is being announced today (Tuesday) by a leading charity for persecuted Christians. Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi were seized yesterday (Monday, 22 April), while driving back to the city from the Turkish border. The prelates were kidnapped after trying to negotiate the release of abducted priests. Fathers Michel Kayyal (Armenian Catholic) and Maher Mahfouz (Greek Orthodox)
Iraq’s most senior Catholic leader has said that security is urgently needed to stem the tide of Christians continuing to flee the country. Assessing the situation for Christians in Iraq, Patriarch Raphael I Sako of the Chaldean Church told Aid to the Church in Need that Christians are continuing to leave for a number of reasons – but the key factor is the lack of security. The patriarch, who was elected on 31 January, said: “They are leaving the country because there is no stability. Another reason is the rise of fundamentalism.
A Bishop from Pakistan has called on his country’s government to catch the killers of Christian human rights campaigner Shahbaz Bhatti. Bishop Sebastian Shaw, Apostolic Administrator of Lahore, told Aid to the Church in Need that almost two years on no one had been tried for his murder – and gave his blessing to a 2 March event in London commemorating Mr Bhatti’s life and work. Bishop Shaw said: “Nothing has happened yet, but we ask the government of Pakistan that the killers be arrested and brought to justice.”
Since the news of Pope Benedict's resignation was released this morning, tributes have been pouring in from Church leaders and organisations. The Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool writes: During his visit to this country in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI clearly appreciated the gift of God of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Two phrases from Blessed John Henry Newman's hymn 'Praise to the Holiest' capture for me the Cardinal and then the Pope whom I have been blessed to know: '
The Catholic Church in Egypt has issued a stinging critique of the country’s president, accusing him of cynical manipulation of the people, and an act of gross incompetence which caused more than 50 deaths. Speaking as spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Egypt, Fr Antoine Rafic Greiche accused Mohammed Morsi of failing to foresee the need for significant security in protests that turned ugly last weekend. He went on to condemn the Islamist leader’s initiatives to dialogue with the people, indicating that the discussions’ primary purpose was to
Emergenciy food and medicine is being sent to hundreds of stricken families in Mali who have fled their homes to escape the fighting. Young children are already reported to be suffering from malnutrition. A grant, totalling £34,000 was announced by Aid to the Church in Need on Friday, is being administered by Mopti Catholic diocese, southern Mali, a region where thousands of people have been displaced by war in the land-locked west Saharan country.
People escaping violence and oppression in Syria are to receive urgent help from a leading Catholic charity which is making a series of grants across a region now gripped by a bitter winter. Aid to the Church in Need has approved an initial aid package of £130,500 (€155,000) to provide food, blankets and medicine for people struggling in below-freezing temperatures. The aid, bound for refugees and displaced people in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, will be distributed through parishes and dioceses, with the expectation of more help to come from the charity.
The difficulties facing Christians in Israel and Palestine have helped bind them together and break down divisions between the Churches – according to the new ambassador representing the Pope. Speaking at the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18 – 25 January), Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, described marked improvements in ecumenical relations over the past 30 years.
A missionary priest in Mali ministering to displaced people has described their desperate struggle to flee fighting and Islamist extremism as violence intensifies in key parts of the country. In a message sent over the weekend to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Zacharie Sorgho described the events that led to the liberation of the strategically important town of Diabaly on Thursday (18 January). Fr Sorgho, whose parish of Nioro du Sahel in north-west Mali has welcomed people fleeing the conflict, said:
A warning against self-centredness and a call to renew compassion for people who suffer has come from a senior Cardinal marking an important anniversary for a leading Catholic charity. In a letter to the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need, which helps persecuted and other suffering Christians, the organisation’s president, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, praises Fr Werenfried van Straaten, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this coming Thursday (17 January).
Only lasting peace will stop the exodus of Christians from the land where Jesus was born, according to a bishop in the region. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, described how peace was needed to stop the haemorrhaging of Christians from Israel and the Palestinian territories. Bishop Shomali said: “Peace creates a very positive atmosphere. Without it, there is insecurity and the economic situation becomes precarious. Then, work must be created.”
The Archbishop of Glasgow has told youngsters from schools in Scotland about the importance of standing up for religious freedom, saying that around the world Christians suffer the most persecution. Speaking last Monday at a memorial Mass for Aid to the Church in Need's founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia also paid tribute to the charity’s work for oppressed Christians. Taking part in the service at St Bride’s Catholic Church in Cambuslang, near Glasgow,
The international community stands accused of fuelling a humanitarian crisis engulfing the heart of Africa – according to a leading bishop. Bishop Bernard Kasanda of Mbuji-Mayi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) condemned the UN and world leaders, saying a failure to stop the advance of rebel militia group M23 is proving disastrous and apparent favouritism towards neighbouring Rwanda is proving highly divisive. Bishop Kasanda has criticised the international community for preventing M23 from capturing the eastern city of Goma – a move the UN says it was powerless to stop.
Bad government and grinding poverty in Zimbabweare continuing to drive people abroad at the very time political leaders want to woo them back to take part in elections – according to a report received by Aid to the Church in Need. The report describes how the regime’s repressive policies have prompted ongoing emigration from Zimbabwe which in turn has led to a severe shortage of qualified people, especially doctors and nurses. The Church report, whose authors cannot be revealed for security reasons, describes how “a good number of people survive” only because of relatives abroad
Aid to the Church in Need is launching an appeal for prayer for peace in the Holy Land and across the Middle East amid reports of escalating violence. Just back from a trip to the Holy Land, Neville Kyrke-Smith, UK director of the charity, described the situation as “tense” and reported on how Christians and their leaders in the region had highlighted their increasing concern about the growing conflict. Mr Kyrke-Smith was leading a pilgrimage in the Holy Land on Wednesday (14 November) when the top military commander in Gaza was killed,
Churches across Poland are holding a special day of solidarity with Christians in Egypt today, Mgr Tadeusz Kukla, former Rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales, writes. Egypt is one of 14 countries where most violations of human rights and religious freedom. Reminds the fourth Day of Solidarity with the persecuted Church. We celebrate it on 11 November under the theme "Peace with Egypt". The Pontifical Association of Aid to the Church in Need this year want Poles to realize that in Egypt, which is a popular beach holiday destination for Poles,
Egypt’s new Coptic Orthodox Pope should break with the past, take a lower political profile and allow the Coptic faithful to speak up for themselves in defence of their rights... Praising Pope-designate Tawadros II’s early statements favouring a spiritually-focused pontificate over a political one, Coptic Catholic Bishop Kyrillos William stressed the need for the new leader to “leave the lay people to represent themselves”.
Bishops in the Holy Land are rallying in defence of Christian families near Bethlehem who risk losing access to their olive groves and fruit farms if the Israeli government goes ahead with plans to extend its security wall. Plans to extend the West Bank Barrier – a security measure which separates the Palestinian territories from Israel – through the Cremisan Valley will affect the livelihoods of 58 families in the predominantly Christian village of Beit Jala. The barrier will also cut through the grounds of a Salesian monastery and convent, as well as preventing
Lay people in Zambia are taking the lead in protecting women and other vulnerable individuals who have been accused of witchcraft after sickness, death and other serious events afflicted their local communities. Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that increasing lay participation in Zambia included running social justice projects helping women accused of witchcraft. The prelate described how those accused of witchcraft can be beaten – often to obtain a confession of their crimes – and crops, animals and other possessions confiscated.
Senior Catholic Church leaders from Nigeria and Syria yesterday told a Parliamentary event of the growing level of violence in their countries and the particular threat to Christians. They condemned the use of religion to justify violence and call on all communities – secular and state – to work together for peace and human rights, in particular religious freedom. Bishop Antoine Audo from Aleppo in Syria and Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria,
The head of a UK charity has echoed calls by the leader of Nigeria’s Catholics for the country’s government to redouble efforts to crackdown on Islamist terrorists. Neville Kyrke-Smith,UK national director of Aid to the Church in Need, said: “The government of Nigeria needs to take urgent action to stop the spiralling violence aimed at Christians and other vulnerable groups in the country. “Christians around the world are shocked and sickened by the repeated attacks which – according to the Nigerian government’s own statistics – have claimed the lives of more than 1,500 Christians.”
There are signs that Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law could be relaxed, according to the Lahore-based president of the Catholic Church’s National Commission of Justice and Peace. Speaking during a visit to Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Emmanuel Yousaf said that while there was no prospect of the law being abolished, there was increasing discussion in the media about the need to modify it – even by Islamic clerics. Fr Yousaf, whose Commission for Justice and Peace supports those accused of blasphemy and their families,
Only a strong Christian presence in the Middle East can restore peace in the region, according to a priest from Lebanon speaking in Scotland. This was the message Maronite Fr Samer Nassif gave to the more than 180 people who gathered in the hall of St Mirin’s Cathedral, Paisley on the evening of Thursday 20 September. His message was echoed by Liz Leydon, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, and Aid to the Church in Need’s national director, Neville Kyrke-Smith, who were also speaking at the event organised by Catholic charity.
A bishop from Syria and the leader of the Catholic Church in Nigeria are to give first-hand testimonies at Aid to the Church in Need's annual Westminster Mass and Event on Saturday 20th October. Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo in Syria and Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, have accepted invitations to be keynote speakers at the event. The bishops’ visit to the UK will go ahead subject to security considerations. The day begins at 10.30am with
News from Pakistan that Rimsha Masih, the girl with learning difficulties accused of blasphemy, has been released on bail is a “big breakthrough” for justice, according to Catholic leaders in the country. Catholic bishops and human rights activists said the court’s decision to release the youngster on bail sent out a clear signal to the country’s judiciary system to execute justice and not be compromised by pressure from powerful forces in society. Her face covered by a green scarf and accompanied by a heavily-armed police escort,
The head of the Maronite Church has expressed his fears that the war in Syria will spread to neighbouring Lebanon. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai of the Maronite Church warned that the civil war in Syria could trigger a full-scale conflict between Lebanon’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Patriarch Rai said: “The civil war in Syria between the Sunni majority and the Alawite minority has already begun to have an impact on the Sunnis and Alawites in north Lebanon, in Tripoli and Akkar.”
The head of the Maronite Church has expressed his fears that the war in Syria will spread to neighbouring Lebanon. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai of the Maronite Church warned that the civil war in Syria could trigger a full-scale conflict between Lebanon’s Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Patriarch Rai said: “The civil war in Syria between the Sunni majority and the Alawite minority has already begun to have an impact on the Sunnis and Alawites in north Lebanon, in Tripoli and Akkar.”
A priest from Damascus has described his efforts to minister to people suffering “the depths of fear” amid gunfire and bombs in a city running short of bread, gas and electricity. Speaking by telephone in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, the priest told how he celebrated Mass on Sunday (22 July) to the sound of shooting and explosives and how afterwards people rushed forward to “embrace me with emotion”. Describing daily life as “very difficult”, the priest, who asked not to be named for safety reasons,
An urgent prayer appeal for the people of Syria is being made by senior figures from a leading Catholic charity amid reports that the crisis has dramatically worsened. Johannes Freiherr Heereman, Aid to the Church in Need's International Executive President and the organisation’s UK Director, Neville Kyrke-Smith, are calling on the charity’s supporters to pray for people of all faiths at a time of desperate need. T e messages of support come after news from Syria showed that the conflict had suddenly deepened, with reports of more than 300 people
The outgoing Apostolic Nuncio in the Holy Land has warned against unrealistic expectations for Pope Benedict XVI’s forthcoming Apostolic Exhortation on the Middle East. Archbishop Antonio Franco, who this month steps down as Apostolic Nuncio in the Holy Land, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation – a papal document following the Vatican’s October 2010 Middle East Synod – will be released during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Lebanon in September.
Christians in Egypt can expect a better future after years of being second-class citizens, according to the acting head of the country’s Coptic Catholic Church. Speaking at an Aid to the Church in Need press conference in Madrid, Spain, Bishop Kyrillos William, administrator of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria, expressed his hopes for Egypt’s Christians following the election of former Muslim Brotherhood member, Mohammed Mursi.
Islamist militants have claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 50 people in north-central Nigeria – and called on the country’s Christians to convert to Islam. Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa issued a statement that the Islamist group carried out the attacks on more than a dozen villages last weekend (30 June – 1 July) and said it will continue to attack the country’s Christians. According to the statement: “Christians in Nigeria should accept Islam, that is true religion, or they will never have peace.
News agencies have misrepresented the conflict in Syria – according to a Catholic charity’s Middle East expert. Fr Andrew Halemba, Aid to the Church in Need’s Middle East projects coordinator, said that media reports about the country should be treated critically and with great caution. He said: “The situation in Syria is much more complex and difficult to assess than the media in the West make it out to be. Many media outlets are simply turning in sloppy reporting.
Lay involvement is the life-blood of Zambia’s growing Church, according to a senior prelate in the country. During a visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need in Königstein, Germany, Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama praised lay participation in Zambia, describing how it was essential to the spread of the Church... He said catechists were crucial to the success of 'prayer centres' – parishes with no priests.
Calls for religious freedom and action to stamp out mob violence in Pakistan have been made by an inter-faith delegation meeting at the country’s embassy in London. Incident reports and analysis showing worsening intolerance towards religious minorities in Pakistan were outlined during the 30-minute discussion involving Nazim Khan Ghauri MBE of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association,
A senior Church leader in Egypt has expressed grave doubts about the prospects for Christians if the Muslim Brotherhood emerges victorious in the presidential elections. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Coptic Catholic Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Guizeh (Giza) said that while it was difficult to say which candidate would best guarantee liberty
The plight of Christians persecuted for their faith was the focus of prayer, song and reflection at the first-ever Night of Witness held at Westminster Cathedral. Bishops from the UK and overseas, led the event on 18 May, at which Christians from countries marked by persecution played central roles in raising awareness of ongoing acts of religious oppression.
Calls for action to uphold religious freedom will be made by leading bishops from the UK and overseas at an event – the first of its kind – involving music, dance, video and prayer. The Night of Witness, staged at Westminster Cathedral, is being organised by Aid to the Church in Need amid fears that persecution is threatening the survival of Christianity
Aid to the Church in Need has provided 250,000 rosaries for the faithful in Cuba to mark Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the island which begins today (Monday 26 March). ACN also gave 250,000 leaflets explaining how to pray the Rosary, 15,000 children's rosary booklets and 10,000 'prayer boxes' containing a rosary ring, a small bottle of holy water, a pocket crucifix and basic prayers.
Almost the entire Christian population of the Syrian city of Homs has fled violence and persecution – and Aid to the Church in Need is providing emergency aid to help them. The mass exodus of 50,000 or more people to villages and towns around the city comes amid reports that the homes of Christians in Homs have been attacked and seized by 'fanatics'.
...“In this time of change and trial in Egypt a figure such as Pope Shenouda will be hard to replace...“The country’s Christian communities have been destabilised by recent events and the prayer and support of Christians around the world will be essential at this time. Tens of thousands of Christians packed into St Mark’s Cathedral
The UK director of Aid to the Church in Need has warned Scottish parliamentarians that the Arab Spring is threatening to turn into a disaster for Christians in the Middle East – and Western indifference is making the problem worse. Neville Kyrke-Smith highlighted the plight of Christian communities especially in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt,
A church in the Ukraine, seized by communist authorities and used as a boxing club will at last be fully restored as a place of worship, following an ownership dispute dating back more than 20 years. St Joseph's, Dnipropetrovsk is now in Catholic hands and, in one of the last stages of its restoration, a neo-classical façade, added in 1949 to hide the fact that it was built as a
The Archdiocese of Lahore in Pakistan has denied reports that a 24-year-old Catholic burned pages of the Koran. Allegations that Khuram Masih destroyed part of the Muslim holy book are baseless – and many media reports of the case are inaccurate – a spokesman for the archdiocese told Aid to the Church in Need.
Young British soldiers serving in Afghanistan are finding out more about their Catholic faith – with a little help from Aid to the Church in Need. In response to a request from British Army chaplain Father David Smith, Aid to the Church in Need provided books about the Catholic faith and prayer cards to help with the pastoral care of 400 service personnel.
Christian communities in Iraq are preparing for a 'Christmas under siege', church authorities reported today. Traditions will be quietly kept in the privacy of family homes, while Christmas Masses will only is celebrated during the day, for safety reasons. "It will be a Christmas, between fear and sturdy faith", Aid to the Church in Need said, as they announced a campaign of solidarity and support for Iraqi Christians.
The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has been elevated by Pope Benedict XVI to the status of a Pontifical Foundation. The official seat of the foundation is the Vatican. This canonical act was enacted by a Chirograph, an official document in Latin personally signed by the Pope.
Ninety-five percent of prosecutions in Pakistan for insulting the Prophet Mohammed or the Koran are false, according to a high-profile Muslim lawyer in the country. The legal expert, who cannot be named for security reasons, said in most cases the law is abused by people bent on carrying out a personal vendetta.
Christian prisoners in the Pakistan's jails are suffering severe discrimination, according to Catholic lawyer, Moazzam Aslam Bhatti. Christians are marginalised and disadvantaged throughout Pakistani society, but the situation in prisons is "particularly precarious", he told Aid to the Church in Need representatives who are currently visiting the country.
The UK Director of Aid to the Church in Need has welcomed David Cameron's statement that British overseas aid decisions should take into account persecution against Christians. Responding to the Prime Minister's recent public statements concerning overseas aid and human rights issues, Neville Kyrke-Smith of Aid to the Church in Need described Mr Cameron's comments on the persecution of Christians as "a crucial step
A 19th century monastery in Lebanon has been transformed into a pastoral centre, playing a crucial role helping to stem the tide of Christians leaving the country. Carmelite priest Father Raymond Abdo told Aid to the Church in Need – which helped with the conversion of the monastery in Kobayat, northern Lebanon, into a pastoral centre – that the project was vital for the revival of a Christian community that has suffered from
Christians in one corner of Iraq have trebled in number over the past 15 years according to a leading bishop who is grappling with an influx of people escaping persecution and oppression. The Christian population in Ankawa, a suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, has increased from just over 8,500 in the mid-1990s to more than 25,500 today. Of those, up to 1,500 have arrived within the last year alone.
The situation in Gaza is “unbearable” – amid ongoing aerial bombardments – according to church sources there. Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Father George Hernández, parish priest of Gaza’s Holy Family Church, said: “The need of the people and the humiliations that they must endure daily are unbearable.” Fr Hernández told ACN staff visiting Gaza as part of a project assessment trip that people there had been “repeatedly subjected to low-level flyovers and even bombardments by the Israeli Air Force”.
World-renowned art historian Sister Wendy Beckett has personally selected the images for a range of Christmas cards for Aid to the Church in Need. Sister Wendy chose three images for the seasonal greetings cards which will be sold in support of the charity's work helping persecuted and other suffering Christians. She selected paintings
Despite a ceasefire, military strikes against civilians have continued in Sudan's disputed South Kordofan state. Sources in the Nuba Mountains told Aid to the Church in Need that the government in Khartoum have continued military operations – despite President Omer Al-Bashir's claims that a 23 August ceasefire has restored calm in the region.
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, has come out in support of Aid to the Church in Need's petition calling for a change to Pakistan's blasphemy laws which have been cited as the cause of 14 separate attacks on Christians over the last two months.
Warnings of a new genocide in Sudan have been issued by a Catholic bishop in the country. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid diocese warned of further problems in South Kordofan, on the border between north and south Sudan, where there has been fierce fighting since the beginning of June. He said: "After Darfur there is now a new impending genocide in Sudan."
Monks living at an important biblical site will be leaving their earthquake-prone monastery for a new home – thanks to help from Aid to the Church in Need. The charity, which is helping with the building of a new monastery in Tabgha, Israel, received a progress update on the construction work from Fr Jeremias Marseille OSB, a member of the German Benedictine community living there.
A Bishop in Egypt has spoken out against the country's security services and warned of anarchy after attacks against two churches in his diocese left 12 people dead and more than 180 others injured. Bishop Antonios Aziz Mina of Giza said the Egyptian police and army were "frightened" and "slow" to act as violence erupted on Saturday, 7th May in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba.
Aid to the Church in Need will be holding an event to remember persecuted and other suffering Christians at Scotland's national shrine to Our Lady. The charity's Pilgrimage of Hope – a day of prayer for the suffering church – will be held at Carfin Lourdes Grotto on Saturday, 30 April.
Outbreaks of violence in key regions of South Sudan will not block the path to independence, according to a Catholic leader who has called on the government to address the "root causes" of the conflict. Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur of Khartoum highlighted the "large amounts of violent incidents"
Ann Widdecombe is to be Aid to the Church in Need’s special envoy on religious freedom. The former Tory government minister will advise the charity on its work for persecuted and other suffering Christians, drawing on her wide media and political experience. The post has a global remit and Miss Widdecombe may travel to trouble spots where Christians are persecuted.
Aid to the Church in Need has published a new report which reveals that Christians suffer 75 per cent of religious persecution in the world. The Archbishop of Westminster, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, and Archbishop Bashar Warder of Erbil, Iraq launched: 'Persecuted and Forgotten? A report on Christians oppressed for their Faith' in London on Thursday.
Archbishop Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, will be in the UK next week, on a visit organised by Aid to the Church In Need. Archbishop Warda will be celebrating Mass and Westminster Cathedral on 17 March at 5.30pm.
The UK director of Aid to the Church in Need has hit out at the announcement that British aid to Pakistan will be increased – as killings linked to the blasphemy laws continue in the country. Neville Kyrke-Smith raised serious concerns about overseas aid packages that do not include assurances of respect for human rights and religious freedom.
There are now up to three candidates for every place at some seminaries in the Ukraine. Auxiliary Bishop Jaroslav Pryryz of the Greek-Catholic Eparchy of Sambir-Drohobych told Aid to the Church in Need that up to half of seminary candidates in parts of western Ukraine had to be turned away because of lack of space.
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark was principal celebrant and guest-of-honour at a memorial Mass to mark the life and work of Father Werenfried van Straaten, the founder of Aid to the Church in Need. The annual service, celebrated the legacy of the Dutch Norbertine priest who set up the charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians in 1947.
Christian and other minorities in Pakistan are being warned to be on their guard in the wake of the assassination of a leading politician and avoid doing anything that might incite violence. Auxiliary Bishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore described how across Pakistan people were “shocked and horrified” by the death of Salman Taseer, Governor of Pakistan’s Punjab Province.
MPs, peacemakers, singers and scripture scholars are among those speaking and performing at a weekend celebration in London, which aims to connect Christians in the Holy Land with the Churches in the UK. More than 20 organisations including Amnesty International, Olive Aid, the Jerusalem Eye Hospital and Bethlehem University
The last Burundian refugees in Tanzania are preparing to return home – ending an humanitarian crisis that began more than 30 years ago. Bishop Protase Rugambwa of Kigoma Diocese spoke of his hopes for the future after UN reports stated that Burundian refugees – who numbered half a million just a decade ago – have fallen to 36,000.