Through its 23 national offices, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) raised over AUD $175M in donations in 2018. The organisation’s more than 330,000 donors enabled ACN to fund over 5,000 pastoral projects to support the persecuted and suffering Church in 139 countries.
READ: The ACN 2018 Annual Report here.
“We are deeply moved by the generosity of our benefactors all over the world,” commented Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International, at the formal presentation of the charity’s Annual Report. “Once again, their sacrifices and their faith have moved mountains!”
Bernard Toutounji, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need Australia added: “I can only offer my sincere and heartfelt thanks to every benefactor; those who sent $5 and those who sent $5000. This work of ours, in support of the suffering Church, is not (and never has been) just about raising money. ACN brings into one spiritual family, those who support the projects and those who receive the help. We pray every day for our benefactors, and we give thanks especially for the way they have responded and continue to respond. Together we are keeping the faith alive.”
As has been the case in recent years, a major proportion of these donations went to support projects inAfrica (27%) and in the Middle East (25%). In the last few years the region of the Middle East has witnessed a substantial increase in aid from ACN. Since the beginning of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011, the Pontifical Foundation has given over AUD $156 million, of which over 28 million was in 2018 alone. The charity’s emergency support for the thousands of uprooted Christian refugees in this region accounted for over 12% of the total aid granted last year. What should be underlined as particularly significant was the huge project of rebuilding the houses and homes of the Christian refugees in Syria and Iraq that was made possible by the support of ACN International. In fact no fewer than 1,479 Christian homes were rebuilt in these areas of the Middle East, thanks to the involvement of Aid to the Church in Need.
Not surprisingly, the country which saw the largest single amount of aid from ACN during 2018 was also in the Middle East, namely Syria, where the support given by the charity was almost AUD $13.6 million, 4.6 million more than given by ACN in 2017. In second place in terms of the aid given was Iraq, also in the Middle East, where last year ACN funded projects to a total value of more than 10.3 million. These two countries were followed by India (8.2m), Ukraine (5.2m) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (close to 4.6m).
In terms of the types of projects supported, as in recent years, the first place was that of construction or reconstruction, with over 36.6 million (31.9% of the total) attributed for 2,470 buildings, including private homes, chapels, churches, convents, seminaries and pastoral centres.
In second place were Mass Offerings (16.4%). During 2018 this particular form of support – absolutely crucial in the poorest parts of the world where priests have virtually no other form of support – brought help to no fewer than 40,569 priests, or roughly one in every 10 worldwide. In this way, last year, no fewer than 1,421,001 Holy Masses were celebrated for the intentions of the benefactors, or approximately one Holy Mass every 22 seconds.
Tied in third place in terms of the types of aid given were emergency aid projects and those providing support for the formation of priests and religious (12.4%). During 2018 ACN supported the formation of 11,817 seminarians, or approximately one in every 10 worldwide. They also assisted the ongoing studies of 4,370 priests and the Mass Offerings given by benefactors were able to support the life and work of 1,383 priests teaching in the major seminaries.
Also extremely important for ACN was the education of the lay faithful, which took fifth place in terms of the percentage (11.2%) of the total aid given. In this way the charity was able to support the formation of some 14,169 catechists and lay leaders last year.
In sixth place was the aid given for the means of pastoral transport (6.8%), with a total of 907 vehicles funded – 370 cars, 189 motorcycles, 342 bicycles, two trucks, two coaches and two boats. This was followed by support for the Catholic media and the publication of Bibles and other religious literature (4.6%). Including sacred texts and its own publications, the Foundation ACN was able to fund the publication and dissemination of some 1,103,484 volumes.
These figures illustrate a fundamental reality of ACN’s support for the Church throughout the world. It is a support given in a spirit of closeness to the oppressed and persecuted Church, with the capacity to react promptly and in practical terms to the attacks to which the Christian communities are ever-increasingly subject to around the world. In the event of such tragic attacks such as the recent bomb attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, or the frequent attacks in countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria, ACN has always been able to react promptly and appropriately to help the wounded communities get back on their feet again and reaffirm their presence, even and especially in those countries where Christians are a small and oppressed minority. It does so by helping to rebuild their damaged churches, supporting the families of the victims, and helping the priests and religious to continue in their pastoral mission. And thereby, ultimately, demonstrating that faith has the power to overcome hatred.
To donate to the projects of Aid to the Church in Need, visit www.aidtochurch.org or call 1800 101 201.
*Please note that figures have been converted from Euro to AUD at the average exchange rate of 2018 that was 1 Euro = $1.5797 AUD
With thanks to Aid to the Church in Need Australia.