143.7 million euro in donations to help Christians in need in 138 countries during 2023

ACN’s accounts for 2023 once again reflect the generosity of the foundation’s benefactors from all over the world, to help suffering Christians and the Church in Need. Ukraine, Syria and Lebanon were the countries that received most aid in 2023, while Africa was the continent which received the most support.

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) maintained the level of revenue from previous years, with 143.7 million euro of donations and legacies received during 2023. This value, along with 0.8 million euro of reserves from the previous year, allowed the foundation to fund activities worth 144.5 million euro.

The generosity of almost 360,000 benefactors in the 23 countries where ACN has national offices, among others, continue to allow ACN to function without any financial support from governments or ecclesial bodies.

Regina Lynch, Executive President of ACN International
Regina Lynch, Executive President of ACN International

In a message to benefactors, the executive president of ACN International, Regina Lynch, states that: “Once again, this year, these numbers reflect a true miracle. From a purely human perspective, one cannot commit to helping without having first secured funds, but since we believe in Divine Providence, we have been doing so since 1947. Therefore, this yearly activity report is, above all, an opportunity to give thanks to God.”

A total of 81.3% of these funds went directly to mission-related expenses. Within this amount, 85.9% went to aid projects in 138 countries, allowing the foundation to approve 5,573 projects out of the 7,689 requests received from all over the world. The remaining 14.1%, or 16.6 million euro, went to activities related to information work, proclaiming the faith and the defence of persecuted Christians, including the publishing of religious literature, as well as prayer campaigns and advocacy for the rights and interests of persecuted and suffering Christians. Essential administrative expenditure accounted for 7.3% and advertising a further 11.4%.

Aid with a global reach

The country that received the most aid from ACN in 2023 was Ukraine, for the second year in a row, with 7.5 million euro, at a time when the Catholic Church in Ukraine remains committed to healing the spiritual wounds of those traumatised by the war and continues, in this difficult situation, to accompany those who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict. Syria came next, with 7.4 million euro, followed by Lebanon, with 6.9 million. In both these countries the Christian population is still dealing with the effects of a crippling economic crisis and, in the case of Syria, a long-lasting civil war and the terrible earthquake of 2023.

At the regional level, Africa received the most support, with almost a third of resources, or 31.4%, set aside for projects in the continent. Among the main beneficiary countries in this region are the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Nigeria and Burkina Faso. “Africa is home to approximately one in every five Catholics, one in every eight priests, one in every seven female religious, and almost a third of seminarians in the world. Besides that, the spread of terrorism and Islamic extremism in some countries, especially in the Sahel region, are a cause of great suffering and pain for Christians in this continent”, Lynch explains.

115 Bicycles for catechists in the Diocese of Mpika, Zambia
115 Bicycles for catechists in the Diocese of Mpika, Zambia

The Middle East, with 19.1% of aid, was the region which received the second highest amount of support. 61% of the funds sent to Syria went to emergency aid, including food and housing, medical assistance and microcredit support for businesses. In Lebanon, emergency aid accounted for 47% of total aid to the country. It was mainly used to maintain the operation of Christian schools, but a considerable amount was also allocated to food, housing and medical care.

A further 17.3% of ACN funds in 2023 went to Asia-Oceania, especially to India, which is also the country where the foundation provides the largest number of scholarships to priests and religious. Europe and Latin America received 15.4% and 15.3% of the total aid each. The remaining 1.5% went to other regions.

Close to 6,000 projects approved

The charity provided almost 1.75 million Mass stipends to 40,767 priests in 2023. Statistically, this means that one in every 10 priests in the world received support from ACN and that every 18 seconds a Mass was celebrated somewhere around the world for the intentions of ACN benefactors.

ACN also supported the formation of almost 11,000 seminarians during 2023, which accounts for one in every 10 seminarians in the world. Most of these, 5,793 were in Africa, which is now home to highest number of priestly vocations in the world, followed by Latin America with 2,103 seminarians helped by ACN, Asia with 1,996, and Europe with 1,099, of which 600 are in Ukraine.

Support for the formation of priests, religious and laypeople represented 26.7% of all the support, whereas Mass stipends and subsistence aid for women religious amounted to 21.6%.

Microcredit programme for vulnerable Christians in Damascus, Syria
Microcredit programme for vulnerable Christians in Damascus, Syria

Given the high costs of construction projects, this type of aid is at the top of the list, with a little over a quarter of the aid provided (26.8%). In 2023, there were almost one thousand construction projects, one third of which involved churches and chapels. The remaining amount went to the renovations of convents, seminaries, parish houses and pastoral centres. Africa was the region with the most construction projects, with 36.2% of all funds going to this purpose.

ACN also directed 10.4% of its aid to transportation, providing 1,041 vehicles to help pastoral agents carry out their missions, including 515 automobiles – over 10% of them for Ukraine –, 340 motorcycles, 175 bicycles, six buses and five boats, as well as 21 projects for maintenance and repair.

Emergency aid accounted for around 11% of expenses, which in 2023, went to more countries than before, including to the Holy Land, where the recent conflict has had such a serious adverse effect on the Christian population.

Looking to the future, Regina Lynch explains that “in 2024 our focus is tending to shift towards the need of pastoral accompaniment and support for people in war zones or facing persecution, who have suffered deep trauma as a result. This is an area where we hope to further intensify our help.”

“We also want to step up our help in the Sahel region, where jihadist terrorism is spreading and where Christians are facing increasing suffering from the violence.”, she concludes.

 

By Maria Lozano.

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