By editor - 10 June, 2015
Courtesy: Independent Catholic News http://www.indcatholicnews.com
The total aid paid out by Aid to the Church in Need topped €100 million for the first time last year 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, published in the charity’s annual report, showed that last year the charity paid out €17 million more than in 2013.
ACN, which now has fund-raising and awareness-raising operations in 20 countries, including Mexico, Colombia and Malta, supported 5,614 projects in 145 countries worldwide.
Central to the increase in aid was the Middle East – notably Iraq and Syria – where the charity has been helping thousands who have escaped violence, persecution and poverty.
ACN paid out nearly €1.95 million to Syria and €4.7 million to Iraq – providing for projects such as food, shelter and medicine for communities fleeing bombardment and oppression.
The charity provided eight schools – pre-fab structures – in Dohuk and Erbil, in Kurdish northern Iraq, to where 120,000 Christians fled last summer after attacks by so-called Islamic State.
Commenting on the international figures for the charity, Neville Kyrke-Smith said that in 2014, ACN UK, of which he is National Director, paid out €1.5 million more than the year before.
“The attacks on Christian communities in the Middle East have moved the friends and benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need to extraordinary kindness. Last year was a record year for ACN. Sadly, the critical situation particularly in the Middle East continues, as I witnessed on a recent trip to northern Iraq.”
A breakdown of the Aid to the Church in Need international figures for 2014 showed funding for:
1,219,063 Mass stipends – meaning that on average every 26 seconds a Mass is said for ACN benefactors
9,669 seminarians – meaning that ACN help goes to one in 12 students for the priesthood
1,508 churches and other religious structures – presbyteries, convents and parish halls
1.4 million Christian education books – Child’s Bibles, catechisms and other Christian education literature as well as radio, television and internet-based initiatives promoting the Catholic faith.
Almost a third of ACN’s aid budget last year went to Africa, with significant support for countries such as Nigeria where towns and villages in the north-east lie empty with Christians fleeing Islamist terror group Boko Haram.
Eastern Europe received 18 percent of aid in 2014, with requests for emergency and pastoral aid coming in following the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine in early 2014.
In Asia, a key country for support was the Philippines which received nearly €1.9 million to help with pastoral and emergency work following the typhoon in November 2013.
Mr Kyrke-Smith said, “The transforming love of faithful supporters sustains faith and enkindles hope. Thanks to all who are committed to helping the suffering body of Christ today – the Church in need. We are united in prayer and compassion.”
For more information and to support the work of ACN see: http://www.acnuk.org/