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ACN remembers and honors victims of religious persecution worldwide


In 2019, the United Nations designated Aug. 22 as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.

THOMAS HEINE-GELDERN
Executive President, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
“We are convinced that this is a milestone in the right direction. However, we have to acknowledge that the worldwide situation since then has not improved. We can't close our eyes on the fact that, since then, the number of hate crimes and acts of violence based on religion have increased.”

CARD. MAURO PIACENZA
President, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
“Religious freedom is the founding core of all freedom, of all freedoms, because it touches conscience. Freedom of conscience is the freedom inherently linked to the dignity of every human being. It cannot be trampled upon for any reason, nor by any government, political philosophy or particular platform.”

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) highlights the precarious situation in Africa, which has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist militant groups. On Aug. 12, for example, Islamist insurgents captured the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique, a country where violence has displaced over 200,000 people.

ACN's executive president, Thomas Heine-Geldern, draws attention to another alarming trend, that of using religion-based attacks to draw attention to other causes. In Chile, for instance, more than 57 Christian churches were attacked at the end of 2019. The underlying fight was for social justice. In the United States, over 60 attacks against Catholic churches, caused by protests against racial discrimination, have been registered.

ACN says Aug. 22 is also a day to honor forgotten victims of religious persecution. Among those being remembered this year are Michael Nnadi, a seminarian murdered in Nigeria on Feb. 1, and Leah Sharibu, a young girl who was kidnapped in Nigeria and is still being held captive.

ACN will continue its mission to help persecuted Christians by providing both physical and spiritual support to victims who have seen their lives upended by religious persecution.