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Malta: Four Years of Help to Persecuted Christians

Aid to the Church in Need (Malta) is preparing to celebrate its fourth anniversary on May 13.

ACN was founded in Belgium by a Dutch priest, Fr Werenfried van Straaten (1913-2003) in 1947, when Pius XII was Pope and Europe was recovering from World War II and Eastern Europe was being overtaken by the communists, which is probably why Aid to the Church in Need concentrates on aid to persecuted Christians (now to be found throughout the world).

In 1964, during the pontificate of John XXIII, ACN was recognised by the Holy See, while on November 4, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI raised it to a pontifical foundation.

ACN is a charitable institution which has a mandate by the Church to assist Christians wherever they are persecuted. With its 400,000 benefactors from 24 countries, including Malta, it helps the Church – through 6,000 projects yearly in 140 countries – in its evangelisation to make Christ known through prayer, information and action.

The main values of ACN are faith, Christian love, prayer, solidarity and holiness of life

Every two years ACN carries out scientific research to find out the exact state of religious freedom and persecution of Christians in the world.

ACN cannot perform its mission by giving out food, clothing, medicines, providing shelter and meeting other needs of persecuted Christians. Instead it builds clinics, children’s homes and churches. It also helps priests for their livelihood and for the formation of seminarians and religious (male and female), especially where the Church is poor or persecuted.

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Moreover, it provides transport (which can include mules in mountainous regions) for priests, religious and lay people, as well as trucks and containers to be used as mobile churches.

Out of Christian solidarity, ACN gives emergency aid to displaced persons in case of war, violence and natural disasters.

Aid to the Church in Need has also published many books, including Youcat (Catechism of the Catholic Church for Youth), Docat (Social teaching of the Catholic Church for young people) and a Bible for children. It also does its best to provide radio and TV programmes to spread Christian values and help with evangelisation.

ACN (Malta) also helps Maltese/Gozitan missionaries – priests, religious and lay people with their projects in several countries.

At present there are 16 million refugees throughout the world, 15.4 million of them in the Middle East. In Iraq and Syria there are about one million Christians. At the moment ACN is focused mainly on Syria as the Syrian people have been living through unimaginable pain and suffering. For the past seven years the conflict there caused terrible devastation. In fact, Pope Francis has described the situation in Syria as “the biggest humanitarian catastrophe after World War II”.

The main values of ACN are faith, Christian love, prayer, solidarity and holiness of life. We are all asked to remember our persecuted Christians in our prayers.

While ACN (Malta) needs prayer, fasting and offerings for Masses, it also needs donations and legacies. ACN is registered in Malta Reg. No. LPF-212, as a foundation regulated by the second schedule of the Civil Code Chapter (16) of the Laws of Malta.

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It is very ably led by its national director, Stephen Axisa, and board members, as well as Mgr Hector Scerri, ecclesiastical assistant, together with a small team of office staff and volunteers.

Times of Malta

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