While it has been a record year for donations to Aid to the Church in Need, the organization is concerned by the amount of assistant the Middle East has required. CNS photo/Courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need-USA

Record year of donations to Aid to the Church in Need due to Syrian, Iraqi conflicts

By 
  • July 14, 2016

MONTREAL – It was a record year for donations to Aid to the Church in Need, but it is not exactly something the organization is celebrating.

While the international Catholic aid organization drew more than $175 million from donors worldwide in 2015, that so much of the money came to help those affected by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq was disconcerting to ACN.

“Of course, we are happy to observe the great generosity of ACN benefactors and their response to various requests with as much vigour,” said Marie-Claude Lalonde, national director of the Canadian office of ACN. “But in quite another sense, it is also difficult to observe that this increase comes, in part, from the urgency created by the never-ending conflicts like those in Syria and in Iraq.”

Canadian donors contributed almost $3 million, a record amount, including almost $500,000 for the Syrian refugee crisis.

Aid to the Church in Need is a Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy Father with a mission to help suffering and persecuted faithful worldwide. It reaches out to assist projects in some 150 nations worldwide, the majority of them pastoral. In 2015, ACN supported 6,209 projects, an increase of almost 600 from the previous year. 

“Our role is to support local Catholic communities who themselves support people who are refugees or displaced with urgent aid,” said Lalonde.

“There are other projects which have as a goal to help Christians of the Middle East remain and stop the exodus, a phenomenon which many patriarchs have compared to a tsunami. Thus, we are supporting Msgr. Jean-Clément Jeanbart in Aleppo, Syria, with a project called Building to Stay. As the name suggests, it’s about rebuilding, in spite of the war, homes for the Christian population, so they will once more have a roof over their heads.” 

Other hot spots being watched closely are in Africa due to the uprising of Islamic fundamentalism, particularly in north Africa, as well as in China and the Indian subcontinent, according to the Canadian Activities Report released July 14.

“Reading the Activities Report is essential to grasp the extent of this task,” said Lalonde. “And it is only an overview of the thousands of partnerships with those who allow for the local churches to respond to the spiritual needs surrounding them, but also to the many material needs of the societies where they are evolving.”

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