Aid to the Church in Need: 75 years at the side of communities threatened by their faith

Next year, Aid to the Church in Need will be 75 years old. It is currently developing more than 5,000 pastoral projects around the world.

Maria José Atienza-December 29, 2021-Reading time: 4 minutes
help church in need

Your campaigns remind us that, today, more than half of the world's population lives in countries where religious freedom is not respected. They also remind us of those priests, nuns, lay people, children and the elderly who are persecuted and sometimes killed for the simple reason of being Christians.

Thanks to the contributions channeled by Aid to the Church in Need, many Christians are able to survive in these countries under these adverse conditions.

This Pontifical Foundation was founded Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, to help the Catholic Church in countries of real need, the thousands of refugees and Christians persecuted in the world because of their faith.

In Spain, Omnes spoke with its director, Javier Menéndez Ros, who also highlights the advance of aggressive secularism in nations with a Christian tradition and the total absence of public aid for their projects.

- Aid to the Church in Need reminds us that the difficulty of living the faith remains a topical issue. How is ACN structured to provide this help?

In Spain we have our main office in Madrid and more than 25 delegations throughout Spain with 29 employees and more than 210 volunteers in total.

In the world our head office is in Konigstein, Germany and we have 23 international offices, which carry out the awareness, prayer and charity campaigns in which we raise funds for the nearly 5,500 pastoral projects we cover each year in 145 countries around the world.

 - What are the main needs of these communities?

In the pastoral field, which is the one we attend to, Catholic dioceses in countries with few resources need practically everything: support for priests, nuns and lay people committed to catechesis, means of transportation, help with means of communication for evangelization, reconstruction of churches and religious houses, etc.

Let us not forget that Covid has only worsened the situation of poverty and need already suffered by these communities.

- In this regard, has the assistance you provide changed?Aid to the Church in Need to the various Christian communities with the Covid pandemic? 

In most cases our type of aid is the same, but in emergency situations and at risk of survival of Christians, the needs, worsened by the pandemic, have been for health products and basic commodities.

- How are projects born? What are the projects in which you collaborate?Aid to the Church in Need currently?

The pastoral projects that are requested from us arise from the need of a priest, religious or lay person who needs anything from a bicycle, to a bible or a Youcat, or a radio station for catechesis, or who cannot support themselves as priests and we send them mass stipends. With the approval of their respective bishop, they send their project requests to our headquarters and they are processed there.

We are currently engaged in 145 countries with all these types of pastoral projects, paying special attention to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, in that order.

- How and who collaborates withAid to the Church in Need?

ACN, or ACN by its international acronym, has more than 345,000 benefactors in the world. Most of them are individuals who, in the 23 countries where we have offices, give us the gift of their prayers and donations. We do not receive any support from government agencies.

-Aid to the Church in Need publishes every year a report on religious freedom in the world, what is the evolution of this religious freedom? 

In our last report on Religious freedom 2021 we conclude that the situation of religious freedom in the world is in a very dangerous decline. No less than 67% of the world's population (5.2 billion people live in countries where religious freedom is not respected.

- At present, what dangers do the most threatened Christian communities face?

The most threatened Christian communities, as they are suffering in sub-Saharan Africa with the tremendous advance of jihadism, in the Middle East with the traces of wars, Daesh and the wave of refugees, or in Asian countries such as Pakistan, India or China, face even more persecution, which leads to massive emigration to safer areas and the possible decline and even disappearance of some of these communities.

- Speaking of this freedom in nations of Christian history, do you think it is on the decline? 

Clearly Christian humanism, with which the history and culture of Europe and America is steeped, is in clear decline and is being replaced by an aggressive secularism that is increasingly virulently attacking the most sacred principles and symbols of our faith and morals.

Recent examples such as the burning of Catholic churches in France or Chile have gone unnoticed by public opinion and are nothing but very worrying signs of this anti-Christian aggressiveness.

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