Pope Francis calls on Catholics worldwide to perform Works of Mercy with the help of ACN
On Friday 17 June at 1 p.m., at a press conference in the Sala Marconi in the offices of Vatican Radio, the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will launch its international fundraising campaign “Be God’s Mercy”– a four month effort running from 17 June to 4 October geared to the funding of a whole series of “works” of mercy throughout the world.
It is an initiative with which Pope Francis wishes to personally associate himself by inviting everyone through a video message to be shown during the conference 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”.
From the pastoral ministry in the prisons, to drug rehabilitation centres, support groups for women who have suffered violence and help for refugees – these are just some of the kinds of projects that will be supported. The campaign will be promoted by all of the 22 national fundraising offices of the foundation throughout the world. It will conclude in Rome on 4 October, the feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, when ACN will present the Pope with the “first fruits” of its campaign.
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 charity for Iraqi Christians via Italian Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi.
The gift of the Pope will be handed over to the St Joseph’s Clinic in Erbil, which offers free medical care to around 2800 refugees of all religions. A description of this project will be given at the press conference on Friday 17 June by Father Imad Gargees, a Catholic priest working with the Iraqi refugees. He will also show a short video about the clinic with a message of thanks to the Pope from Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda.
Among those present at the press conference will be the international President of ACN, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, and the General Secretary, Philipp Ozores. These will be received in a private audience with the Pope together with other members of the international ACN delegation one hour before the press conference.
Among those addressing the conference, moderated by the Vatican’s own press spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, will be the compelling and authoritative witness, Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore, Pakistan who, for the first time in Italy will describe how the Christian communities are reacting to the tragic attack on 27 March this year when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a public park where Christians were celebrating the feast of Easter killing 76 people of which 30 were children. Three projects in the “Be God’s Mercy” campaign will in fact be focused on Lahore, partly in the support of the victims of an earlier March 2015 attack on two churches in the Christian quarter of Youhannabad and partly to improve security measures for one of these churches, the Church of St John, and for the nearby diocesan seminary of St Francis Xavier
The good relations between Pope Francis and ACN go back a long way. For while still Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the 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”. This is another reason why he wanted to associate himself with the ACN campaign of mercy. As he explains in his video message, “I am entrusting these works to Aid to the Church in Need.”
For more information about the Be God’s Mercy Campaign, please consult the multi-language website www.acnmercy.org