$182 Million raised for the suffering and persecuted
Over the past year, the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need maintained a high level of donations which has been documented in the organisation’s 2017 Annual Report released following attestation by the auditing firm KPMG.
The report shows that the total sum of donations, legacies and other income was over AUD$182 million ($182,736,571 to be exact). The largest part of the donated funds (82.5%) was used to finance mission related expenses. The main share served to fund 5,357 projects in 149 countries. Of the mission-related expenses, 16% served to raise awareness for the cause of the suffering church, media work and advocacy work with political institutions.
Another 7.0% of the funds was used for administrative services while 10.5% was used for fundraising, advertisements and communications reaching the 368,000 benefactors supporting the organisation. The pontifical charity now has national offices in 23 countries.
Specific items included in the annual report: 1,212 construction projects, co-funded by donations which included chapels, churches, cathedrals and seminaries, many of them in regions devastated by natural disasters. A third of the funding in this area went to church-building projects. Every tenth priest in the world (a total of 40,383) received help in the form of Mass Offerings, particularly in Africa (15,440) and in Asia (10,748).
Aid was also approved for a larger number than ever before of 13,643 seminarians, a part of which was again granted in the form of Mass Offerings. This is equivalent to supporting one in every nine seminarians around the world, most living in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Subsistence aid was granted to 12,801 religious Sisters (mostly members of contemplative orders) as was funding for their training. Donations were also made for cars, motorcycles and bicycles as well as three boats, four trucks and three buses to assist with pastoral works. Approximately 2,000 aid requests did not receive approval, as they did not meet the strict criteria for funding.
Protecting Christians in Situations of Suffering and Persecution
Last year, a large portion of aid once again went to the Middle East – Iraq and Syria. Second only to Africa, this region is the focus of many relief measures. Since 2011, the year of the “Arab Spring”, around AUD$110.5 million dollars have been directed towards conflict areas in and near the Middle East, more than 25 million in the past year alone.
Measures taken with this funding ranged from emergency aid and pastoral expenses (e.g. the printing of Bibles) to church building projects. Thanks to this aid, thousands of Christians were able to return to their homes. One major project was—and still is—the rebuilding of Christian settlements on the Nineveh Plains in Iraq after their devastation by the “Islamic State”. With around AUD$13.7 million dollars, Iraq is at the very top of the list of countries that received aid from Aid to the Church in Need in 2017. India ranked second on the list of recipient countries with 8.63 million, followed in third place by Syria (8.5 million), in fourth by Ukraine (6.9 million), in fifth by Brazil (5.72 million) and in sixth by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5 million).
“In all of our project work, the dialogue with the local church is particularly important. After all, the local bishops and religious know best where the need is greatest and which relief measures need to be taken. We believe that our job is primarily to support the church in those places where it does not have the material resources to carry out its pastoral activities or where Christians are suffering from suppression, persecution and violence,” Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of the pontifical charity, explained.
Further information from other sources can be found on the following websites:
About Aid to the Church in Need
Founded by Fr Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is a Pontifical Foundation and the only international Catholic organisation that focuses on the pastoral and spiritual support of persecuted and suffering Christians.
ACN projects include 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, ACN’s Child’s Bible, ‘God Speaks to his Children’ has been translated into 172 languages and 50 million copies have been distributed all over the world, making it the Catholic Church’s most successful child’s bible ever.
- Story courtesy Aid to the Church in Need