Statement of the International Aid Agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on the article “Gut und Böse” in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt” on 10.02.2021

Königstein im Taunus, 10.02.2021

 ACN International Executive President Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern explains:

“ACN is dismayed by the serious accusations published in the ZEIT supplement “Christ&Welt” on 10.02.2021 in connection with the founder of the organisation, Father Werenfried van Straaten. The organisation completely condemns the kind of behaviour of which Father van Straaten is accused in the article. In its commitment to an open and complete clarification ACN states the following, relying on all information to hand:


  • In 2010, a woman made an accusation of sexual assault against Father van Straaten, which allegedly took place in 1973. The person was 23 years old at the time. Father van Straaten had already died in 2003.
  • The account was pausible, even if the question of guilt remains open as by the time the allegation was made the accused was deceased.
  • Those responsible at ACN followed the procedure recommended for the ecclesiastical sector in Germany regarding cases of abuse. In line with these protocols, the affected person was awarded financial aid of 16,000 EUR in recognition of the suffering.
  • Those responsible at ACN immediately informed the proper ecclesiastical authorities.
  • The filing of civil action, which had been considered at the same time, proved to be impossible because the accused had already died.
  • The woman concerned expressed the wish for confidentiality. ACN respected this wish.
  • The charity is unaware of any other allegations of sexual violence involving Father van Straaten.


In 2011, ACN was re-founded as a Pontifical Foundation. The charity’s internal structures and operating procedures underwent a thorough-going overhaul. A new management structure was put in place. Safeguarding guidelines for the prevention of sexual abuse were also implemented and established as indispensable funding criteria necessary for all ACN projects.

At the heart of the work of ACN remains the service for persecuted and suffering Christians. This mission can only be carried out thanks to the trust of numerous benefactors on all continents. ACN will do everything in its power not to disappoint the trust of its benefactors in order to continue its service to Christians worldwide. “

Detailed answers to the article can be found at:




ACN is an international Catholic relief agency and a papal foundation that supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need. Today, the work helps through information, prayer and aid projects in more than 140 countries where the Church is persecuted or lacks sufficient resources for its pastoral tasks.

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