National Catholic Register

News

Aid to the Church in Need in Action

BY Jim Cosgrove

Oct 13, 1996 Issue | Posted 10/13/96 at 2:00 PM

 

AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED (ACN) receives 9,000-10,000 requests a year for help. While most international aid organizations are socio-charitable development projects, ACN limits itself to pastoral projects.

In post-Communist Russia, the organization is supporting the Orthodox Church's burgeoning seminaries and theological schools. Eleven of the 30 theological schools in the Russian Federation receive regular support from ACN for teaching materials, text books, heating, building restoration and other needs. The organization contributed $50,000 for running costs to the seminary in St. Petersburg last year. The ACN also subsidizes the studies of male and female novices, in accordance with the priorities set out by Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow.

In the interest of improving ecumenical relations, another ACN project supports publishing books for laymen by Orthodox and Catholic theologians to help eradicate prejudices between the two confessions.

A children's Bible tailored to the Orthodox is another ACN-funded project in Russia. Finally, the organization's support of The Christian Channel in Moscow has allowed the radio-broadcast to be extended to 16 hours a day. The Christian Channel and a number of other media projects received $1.2 million in 1996.

In Cuba, the Church is experiencing phenomenal growth as it did in Eastern Europe in the years immediately following the fall of Communism. Despite restrictions from authorities, ACN is helping defray the cost of repairing dilapidated chapels and retreat centers to accommodate newcomers. Each of the 65 seminarians in Havana's major seminary received $400 in 1996. ACN also is helping with lay formation by supplying a catechetical center with books from Spain and sponsoring guest professors from outside Cuba. Other aid efforts have been obstructed. The attempt to provide photocopiers to the Church to undercut the shortage of available teaching materials has been frowned upon by the government; one international photocopier company was recently banned from doing business in Cuba for selling a machine to the Church. To provide basic necessities such as liturgical books, Mass wine, and vestments to Cuba, the ACN has arranged for them to be sent from Spain. Finally, the organization has distributed 60,000 Children's Bibles in Cuba this year. For children indoctrinated in the youth camps of Castro's regime, the thin illustrated volumes provide what the ACN calls “manna from heaven."

For more information about Aid to the Church in Need or to support the organization, call (800) 628-6333 or write: P.O. Box 576, Deer Park, N.Y., 11729-0576.

—Larry Montali