Colombia                                                                                                                                                                                                                       03.12.2014



Bogota/Königstein, 03.12.2014.- Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) – or Ayuda a la Iglesia que Sufre, to give it its Spanish title, now has a new national office in Colombia, in the capital Bogotá. Aid to the Church in Need, a foundation of pontifical right, officially inaugurated its new office with a solemn Holy Mass on Thursday 27 November in the Parish of Cristo Rey (Christ the King). The chief celebrant was Bishop José Daniel Falla Robles, the secretary of the Colombian bishops’ conference, together with Father Martin Barta, the international ecclesiastical assistant of ACN, and the Palestinian priest Father Khalil Carlos Jaar.

Also present were the international executive president of ACN, Baron Johannes Heereman, and Diego Rodríguez Lizcano, the new national director for Colombia.

In accordance with the charism of the foundation – which includes inspiring a sense of solidarity with the Church in need throughout the world, and especially with those Christians persecuted for their faith or deprived of religious freedom – the celebration of the Mass witnessed the participation of some 400 people, who united together in prayer, above all for the Christians of Iraq and Syria. Father Carlos Khalil currently lives in Jordan and receives help from ACN for his work on behalf of hundreds of refugees who have fled there from these two countries as a result of the persecution and the war, especially with the fighters of IS, the Islamic State. He witnessed to the terrible plight facing these refugees and called for the solidarity of the Colombian people, at the same time emphasising the importance of the gift of being able to practise one’s faith without restrictions

Referring to the situation in the Middle East, Bishop Falla Robles recalled the fact that, although every country and every conflict has its own distinctive causes, it was nonetheless possible to establish some similarities with the situation at home. “What is clear is that on account of the armed conflict currently being suffered in Colombia, many Catholics are prevented from participation in the liturgy and in pastoral activities”, he said. Bishop Falla Robles expressed the gratitude of the Church in Colombia, not least for the presence of ACN in the country, saying that “supporting it will help to alleviate the suffering of so many Colombians who are daily struck by the scourge of violence”. In his homily Bishop Falla likewise referred to the persecuted Christians and recalled that life is not always an easy journey, but rather a cross that we do well to acknowledge and walk. “Jesus is this way, and walks it in pilgrimage with us”, he stated.

Colombia is now the fourth ACN national office in Latin America, after Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Altogether, Aid to the Church in Need, a charity born in 1947 on the initiative of the Dutch priest Werenfried van Straaten, to help the refugees in post-war Germany, now has 21 national offices around the world. To find out more about ACN’s work in Colombia, please go to

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Maria Lozano