By John Pontifex
POPE Francis is to give his personal support to an awareness and fund-raising campaign organised by a leading Catholic charity to mark the Pontiff’s Year of Mercy.
Aid to the Church in Need’s “Be God’s Mercy” initiative will be launched on Friday (17th June) at 1pm at a press conference in the offices of Vatican Radio in Rome.
The Pope is personally associating himself with the campaign through a video message to be released on Friday (17th June), in which he highlights ACN’s work.
In his message, the Pope will call on people to “carry out works of mercy together with ACN in every corner of the world, in order to meet the many, many needs of today”.
ACN projects supported during the four-month “Be God’s Mercy” campaign include prison ministry, drug rehabilitation centres, support groups for women who have suffered violence
In his video message, the Pope says: “I am entrusting these works to Aid to the Church in Need.”
For Christians and others who fled Islamist terror group Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq, the Pope has supported an ACN project providing medicine for St Joseph’s Clinic, Erbil, in the Kurdish north of the country, which serves 2,800 displaced people.
The Pope’s financial support was sent via Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi to ACN project partner Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil.
Father Imad Gargees, a Catholic priest working with Iraqi refugees, will give a description of the project at Friday’s press conference.
He will also show a short video about the clinic with a message of thanks to the Pope from Archbishop Warda.
Also speaking at the press conference will be Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, who will give an account of the atrocity on Sunday, 27th March in Lahore where suicide bombers killed 76 people in a park, many of them Christians celebrating on Easter Day.
Pakistan is the focus of three “Be God’s Mercy” projects – support for victims of the March 2015 suicide bomb blasts on two churches in Yohannabad, outside Lahore, as well as increased security both for St John’s, one of the two churches in question, and the nearby St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
Further details about the “Be God’s Mercy” will be given to the Pope at a private audience on Friday, ahead of the press conference, at which the Pope will meet Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the international President of ACN, Johannes Heereman, Executive President – ACN International, and the charity’s General Secretary, Philipp Ozores.
The initiative, which ends on 4th October, the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, a saint close to the Pope’s heart, has the support of ACN’s network of fund-raising and awareness-raising offices in 22 countries around the world, from South Korea to Colombia, USA to Australia as well as networks all over Europe.
Good relations between Pope Francis and ACN go back a long way.
While still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio carried out a number of projects with the help of ACN.
In a letter written to mark the 60th anniversary of the charity in 2007, the future Pope described the charity as a “symbol of communion and fraternity with the suffering Church”.
For more information about the ACN ‘Be God’s Mercy’ campaign and the Press Conference in the Vatican on Friday, 17th June, contact John Pontifex, Head of Press & Information, ACN UK, on 020 8661 5161 or 0781 559 1427 or John Newton, ACN UK Press Officer, 020 8661 5167.
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.