The plight of Christians in the Middle East was a particular focus for aid from ACN in 2015
Again last year, the pontifical foundation ACN recorded a higher income from donations than ever before. It amounted to 124.1 million euros. In 2014 it was 105.6 million euros. This corresponds to an increase of some 15 percent. The pontifical foundation received the most donations in France (36.5 million euros), followed by Great Britain (13.8 million euros) and Spain (13.2 million euros). Overall, the international pastoral charity operates national offices in 21 countries.
From this 124.1 million euros, 6,209 projects – 600 more than in 2014 – were supported in more than 140 countries. The costs for these totalled 112.6 million euros. The remaining 12 million went into administration and fundraising. As in the previous year, administration accounted for 6.5 percent of the budget. 1,110 projects had to be rejected. The figures and statistics were audited and certified by the international accounting firm KPMG.
As in the previous year, the focus of our aid in 2015 was Africa and the Middle East. Half of our support funds flowed into these regions, 29 percent to Africa and 22 percent to the Middle East. Often, support is needed in regions and countries where Christians are being persecuted, oppressed and driven away. In particular the plight of Christians in the Middle East was the focus for ACN’s aid projects in 2015. The cost of emergency aid and structural projects here more than doubled in comparison to the previous year. Aid for Syria alone tripled. Since the start of the “Arab Spring” in 2011, 47.6 million euros (as at 28.06.2016) have flowed into this region. Worldwide, i.e. in all regions where the pontifical foundation is active, increases in aid in absolute figures are recorded, with the highest growth in the Middle East and the lowest in Eastern Europe. As in the previous year, the largest number of requests came from Africa, accounting for one third of the total. Although Latin America is still the “Catholic continent”, in particular the sects as well as social changes and lack of resources give rise to problems for the Church there.
Looking at the individual details, we were able to help one priest in every nine (a total of 43,203) worldwide through Mass stipends as well as supporting one seminarian in every ten (a total of 11,075) in their training. The majority of these are preparing for the priesthood in Africa (3,775), Latin America (2,900) and Eastern Europe (2,883). 10,240 religious sisters received subsistence aid and support for their education. The basic and ongoing formation of novices, seminarians, religious and sisters was funded with a total of 8.3 million euros. Financial contributions went to 1,674 construction projects (building or renovation of chapels, churches, convents, parish houses, cathedrals and seminaries) around the world in regions where the faithful were unable to do this from their own resources. This year, construction aid – creating space for religious life and practice –once again made up the largest item in our total budget, at 34.5 million euros. Requests for help with means of transport increased sharply and accounted for a total of almost ten percent of the projects. 524 cars, 714 motorcycles and bicycles as well as 17 boats were funded. Most of the vehicles in 2015 were for use in remote and widely distributed communities in Africa and Asia.
Despite the gratifying increase in donation income, a significant growth in need is also observed overall. Costs for refugees and emergency aid increased dramatically. This trend is also to be seen in the current year. The dramatic scenes with refugees in the Mediterranean and on various routes in the direction of Europe speak for themselves. This underlines the urgent need to support the Church in the crisis regions as a factor for stability and for living together in solidarity, so that people can see a perspective for the future in their homeland or are given the possibility to return there.