KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, MAY 4, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The founder of Aid to the Church in Need is gone, but the work of the international charity is as crucial as ever, says a Vatican official.
Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, said the recent war in Iraq pointed up the ongoing necessity for the German-based charity founded by Father Werenfried van Straaten.
The cardinal praised ACN’s efficiency in handling situations involving poverty and persecution — and even evangelization.
Father van Straaten, a Dutch-born Norbertine, died Jan. 31 at age 90. Last week, Cardinal Castrillón visited the priest’s tomb.
The occasion was a two-day meeting which marked the first time since the death of the famed “bacon priest” that the General Council of the charity convened at ACN headquarters in Koenigstein, near Frankfurt.
A central issue at the meeting was the future of the charity. Cardinal Castrillón’s presence underlined the Holy See’s interest in ACN at this point in the organization’s history.
The meeting culminated in a ceremony at the grave of Father van Straaten, led by key figures from the 16 donor countries of the charity.
Cardinal Castrillón, the Vatican’s representative to the charity, said earlier: “The Holy See is confident that the benefactors of ACN will continue to give as generously as before, so that the poorest in the world can be effectively helped in their corporal and spiritual needs. Continue to accompany this charity with your generosity!”
At the graveside ceremony in the cemetery of Koenigstein, the members of the General Council renewed the consecration of the charity to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which Father Werenfried himself had made four years earlier in Rome.
They prayed: “Mother of the Church, help us to live in creative fidelity to the founding charism of our charity.”