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Spreading the Word among the Church in Need
The Sower profiles the catechetical work of one of the key catechetical charities working in the Church today. In his motu proprio Ubiqumque et semper Pope Benedict XVI stresses that “[i]t is the duty of the Church to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need has always supported the work of evangelisation and catechesis in a number of countries. Its mission helping Christians who are suffering, persecuted or in serious pastoral need has always included a spiritual dimension alongside the practical. Fr Werenfried van Straaten founded the charity more than 60 years ago when he responded to the needs of those who had entered West Germany fleeing the advance of communism. Among the help he provided for the people was rucksack priests, who visited the refugee camps to celebrate the Sacraments. More than 60 years on, support for people’s spiritual needs, including catechesis, remains a key part of the charity’s work. ACN’s help for catechetical work is broad and diverse. In Iraq, many Christians have fled from the south of the country as Islamists target them. The bombing of Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Cathedral in October 2010, which left at least 52 people dead, and a series of attacks that followed, added to the haemorrhaging of Christians from the south. Now most of the Christians remaining in the country have settled in the north. The Church is seeking to help those in the north lay down roots there and among the projects are two catechetical centres in Aqra and Zebur diocese, which ACN is helping with. The charity is supporting other projects around the world: in Malawi the charity recently provided 69 bicycles to help catechists travel to far flung parishes, bringing with them the knowledge of the Faith; in Tanzania ACN supported a five-day Christian education workshop for more than 300 catechists and teachers; and in Eastern Europe, where the charity started its work, it continues to help out, and is supporting the Basilian Fathers’ catechetical work.