Korea branch of aid group aims to help more persecuted Christians
SEOUL — The Korean branch of the pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has pledged to support churches suffering persecution and distress in Africa while seeking more help from local Catholics to get it done.
For African church communities suffering deadly diseases, poverty, war and persecution, ACN Korea has released a booklet with prayers based on the Way of Cross. ACN Korea has urged Korean Catholics to pray the Way of Cross for African churches during Lent and make use of collected funds during the period to support missionaries working in Africa.
Cardinal Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul, board president of ACN Korea, said he hoped more Korean Catholics would assist the foundation in its work. “The Korean Catholic Church has experienced both persecution and war, so its natural we should show solidarity to suffering Christians,” said Cardinal Yeom.
ACN Korea held its first plenary on March 8 at the Catholic Youth Center in Seoul and announced its fundraising results from its foundation in October 2015. Over the years ACN Korea has collected some US$625,000.
Almost half of the collection came from Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine. The shrine held a campaign helping persecuted churches in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Byeongin Persecution, the largest and last persecution during the Joseon dynasty (1392-1910).
Johannes Klausa, director of ACN Korea, said the organization’s activities would focus on spreading news of what it is doing and more fund raising efforts.
Iraq and Syria
Following the direction of ACN International, ACN Korea has supported churches in the Middle East, especially those in conflict-stricken Iraq and Syria.
Prior to the plenary, ACN Korea exhibited paintings drawn by Syrian children depicting scenes of war and devastation.
“Children draw pictures of what they see. The drawings show that they are exposed to tanks, bullets, and injured people in their daily lives,” said Cardinal Yeom. “We should help them dream of peace.”
According to its website ACN funds around 5,000 projects each year in more than 130 countries. It has over 60 years of service as an international charity of and for the Catholic Church rendering relief to Catholics persecuted and oppressed for their faith. “ACN helps the church so that the church can help others,” according to its website.
ANC is a pontifical foundation dependent on the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome and works in conformity with provisions of canon law. It was founded by Dutch Norbertine Father Werenfried van Straaten whom Pope John Paul II called “an outstanding apostle of charity.”