By Clare Creegan
THE Secretary General of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops performed a classical piano recital to raise funds for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
His Eminence Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri also celebrated the Solemn Mass at the London Oratory on Sunday 10th July before the performance later in the evening in St Wilfrid’s Hall.
Proceeds from the Mass’ collection and from the sale of tickets for the event were raised for Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s work in Iraq and Syria.
At the evening hosted by Gloria, Princess of Thurn and Taxis, His Eminence performed in the presence of more than 150 guests including His Excellency The Most Reverend Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio to the Court of St James and His Eminence Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor.
Speaking at the event on Sunday, Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director of ACN UK thanked organiser Father Julian Large and the parishioners of the London Oratory who have raised about £60,000 for the work of ACN since July 2015.
Mr Kyrke-Smith also highlighted the desperate situation in Iraq and Syria.
He said: “The needs are immense throughout the Middle East and we only reach out in faith and charity thanks to our individual donors, parishes and a few private foundations.
“We are called to do all that we can to continue this support for our brothers and sisters in our homeland of faith – and many in the Middle East tell me that there can be no peace without the Christians who are bridge builders.
“Please continue to pray, inform others and sustain faith and hope through charity.”
Since 2003, up to 2,000 Christians have died in anti-Christian violence in Iraq and one million having left the country.
Neighbouring Syria has also seen more than 700,000 Christians flee abroad to escape worsening persecution at the hands of Islamic extremist groups such as Daesh (ISIS).
Following a meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis in Rome last month, ACN launched its Be God’s Mercy campaign and has approved aid to provide food for 11,800 suffering families from Mosul and the Nineveh Plains.
The charity is also supporting an additional 1,800 people displaced in northern Iraq with help for rental accommodation for six months, providing shelter for 641 households.
Directly under the Holy See, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity – helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in more than 140 countries throughout the world.
The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 176 languages and more than 51 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow.
For more information, contact John Pontifex, ACN UK Head of Press & Information, 020 8661 5161 or Clare Creegan, Digital Media and Press Officer on 020 8661 5175.