Five months after the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) takes stock of the support sent to the country: over five million euros in emergency aid and other initiatives in total to help the Catholic Church of both rites in its gargantuan effort to remain with its people.
Following initial immediate aid packages, the foundation has pledged a further 2.5 million euros over the past three months, from May to July to help the Church in Ukraine. With the approval in July of 34 new projects, support provided by ACN has reached five million euros in 2022.
“The worst consequences of the war will not be felt in the short-term: the psychological, physical and humanitarian effects will only become apparent later. Only God can heal the deeper wounds, but we can try to soften the more immediate needs and support the local Church so that it can remain on the ground”, says Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN International.
“Thanks to the help of ACN benefactors, priests and religious can offset shortages of food, and basic hygiene and medical products felt by many of the internally displaced people. Furthermore, they can provide psychological and spiritual support to all those who are traumatised from losing their homes or loved ones”, explains Heine-Geldern.
“We are in daily contact with the whole country”, adds Magda Kaczmarek, who has headed the foundation’s Projects in Ukraine for the past 14 years. “In this way we can identify the projects that the local Church considers to be a priority and be flexible in our monthly aid”.
“There is tremendous pain”, continues Kaczmarek, who visited Ukraine in April. “It was a very emotional experience. We met with refugees who did nothing but cry. It was important just to hug them. But there were also refugees who were completely dumbstruck. I remember one young man, who must have been around 30, who had not said one word since the war started.”
“The Church is the anchor that keeps the boat steady through the changing tides”, says Kaczmarek. “The main concern and fear that everybody feels has to do with the coming of winter, but now they are also worried that by the end of August the shortage of food and fuel will have become even more serious”, she explains.
Thanks to the generosity of ACN benefactors from all over the world, the foundation has provided five million euros worth of aid, approved in various stages. The projects carried out during the first five months of the war include:
- 3,2 million euros in emergency and subsistence aid, divided as follows:
- 3 million euros sent to the ecclesiastical districts in Ukraine, right after the outbreak of the war, to offset the most urgent needs in each and every one of them
- 800,000 € in aid to Ukrainian priests, in the form of mass stipends to cover, for example, subsistence costs, travel and their pastoral and social work
- 650,000 € towards a total of 14 projects, to enable dioceses and religious orders to host internally displaced people in parishes, convents, seminaries, etc.
- 450,000 € for subsistence aid, in 17 projects, especially for the male and female religious and to support elderly or sick nuns
- 1.1 million euros, in a total of 23 projects, towards construction, restoration and refurbishing of buildings, such as the repairs to the seminary in Vorzel, on the outskirts of Kyiv, which was looted in the first phase of the war, or the purchase of 17 generators.
- 600,000 € to purchase 29 vehicles, a priority at this time, since humanitarian aid has to be transported long distances over roads that are in poor condition or destroyed.
- 100,000 € for 21 small pastoral projects, for example 60 mass cases for liturgical celebrations, and training and media projects.
“The churches have opened their doors to everyone and host now thousands of internally displaced people in all dioceses. However, this represents a financial challenge The lion’s share of the money is, the basic costs, such as electricity, water, heating, and so on.”, Kaczmarek explains. “During these five months we have been able to give plenty of help, and we will continue to do so. We need to provide our people with hope”, Kaczmarek concludes.
Founded in 1947 as a Catholic organisation to aid war refugees, and recognised as a Pontifical charity in 2011, ACN is dedicated to the service of Christians all over the world, wherever they suffer from persecution, discrimination or material needs, through prayer, information, and charity.
With delegations in 23 countries, ACN approves an average of 6,000 projects every year in around 150 countries, all thanks to private donations since the organisation does not receive any state help.