International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has launched a worldwide campaign that calls on the faithful to help the sick and suffering around the world with acts of charity.
The “Be God’s Mercy” campaign has the Church’s most important backing—that of Pope Francis, who personally endorses the four-month-long initiative that will conclude Oct. 4, 2016. On that day, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, ACN officials will present the Pope with the “first fruits” of the campaign.
At a press conference formally launching the campaign today, the Pope—in a video message—called on Catholics around the world to “carry out works of mercy together with ACN, in every part of the world, in order to meet the many, many needs of today.”
See the one-minute video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=475tyHQV1aQ
Projects that will benefit from the unprecedented fundraising effort—driven by all of the 22 national offices of ACN—will include pastoral ministry in prisons, drug rehabilitation centers, support groups for battered women; and aid for refugees.
The very first benefactor of the campaign is Pope Francis himself who—prior to a recent visit by an Italian delegation of ACN to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan—entrusted a donation to the organization earmarked for Iraqi Christians. The papal gift will be presented to St. Joseph’s Clinic in Erbil, which offers free medical care to around 2,800 refugees of various religious backgrounds.
Present at the press conference were: ACN’s international President Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, and General Secretary Philipp Ozores. Along with other members of the ACN delegation, the officials were received in private audience by the Pope just prior to the press conference.
The press conference—which was moderated by the Vatican’ media spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi—featured an account by Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan, on how local Christian communities have reacted to the Easter bomb attack on a local park that killed 76 Christians, including 30 children.
Three projects in the “Be God’s Mercy” campaign will support the Church in Lahore, partly to aid victims of an earlier March 2015 attack on two churches in the city’s Christian; and partly to improve security measures for one of these churches, the Church of St John, as well as for the nearby diocesan seminary of St Francis Xavier.
The relationship between Pope Francis and ACN goes back a long way. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio carried out a number of projects with the help of ACN, which he described, in a letter written to mark the 60th anniversary of the charity, as a “symbol of communion and fraternity with the suffering Church.”
For more information about the Be God’s Mercy Campaign, please consult the multi-lingual website www.acnmercy.org
Full English translation of the Pope’s video message on behalf of the charity, ACN:
“I want to appeal to all men and women of good will all around the world for a work of mercy to be done in each town, in each diocese, in each association. We, men and women, need God’s mercy, but we also need each other’s mercy. We need to take each other’s hand, caress each other, take care of each other and not make so many wars. I am looking here at the dossier prepared by Kirche in Not, a papal foundation, to carry out works of mercy in the whole world. I trust Kirche in Not with this work… I also entrust them to carry on the spirit they have inherited from Father Werenfried van Straaten who had the vision at the right time to carry out in the world these gestures of closeness, of proximity, of goodness, of love and of mercy. So I invite all of you, together with Kirche in Not, to do, everywhere in the world, a work of mercy but one that stays, a permanent work of mercy; a structure for so many needs that there are today in the world. I thank you for everything you do. And do not be afraid of mercy: mercy is God’s caress.”
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)