The pilgrimage also marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of ACN and the 50 years since the charity was first consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.
Cardinal Piacenza, who is also the International President of ACN, was at pains to point out just how much “Fátima and ACN have in common”.
The Cardinal noted how “Fatima is a light of supernatural charity that supports us whenever we fall”, while ACN was a “light of fraternal charity for those most in need”.
And among those who most need this help, it was important to remember above all the persecuted Christians, especially those living in the “biblical lands”.
He went on to single out the need to preserve the Christian presence in the Middle East, and especially in Iraq and Syria, as one of the overriding priorities in the current work of the charity.
Cardinal Piacenza went on to describe some aspects of this work, which is already being undertaken in the form of direct support for these Christian communities, and notably in the “reconstruction of homes and churches” which, he also emphasised, was an “ecumenical effort”.
Also present at the press conference were Philipp Ozores, the international general secretary of ACN, and Catarina Martins, the director of the Portuguese national office of ACN.
Philipp Ozores pointed out that the Foundation ACN currently supports projects in 150 different countries, and he also referred to the close bonds between the international charity and the message given by Our Lady to the shepherds children 100 years ago. “Fátima is the key to the understanding of our existence”, he stated.
Catarina Martins also spoke of the “importance” of this pilgrimage and of the “inspiration that Our Lady has been for us throughout all these years”.
The Portuguese national director of ACN concluded by remembering “Bishop Antonio of Porto, who departed from us so suddenly this Monday”.
The bishop, who “was a generous friend of ACN”, she added, “will always be remembered for his kindness, generosity and sympathy, especially for the poorest, most needy and the most lonely”. She concluded her remarks by promising that ACN would “continue every day to pray for peace in the world, just as Our Lady asked us to do in this place”.