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Catholic aid group raises millions

VATICAN (CNS): Aid to the Church in Need raised over €111 million euros ($973.6 million) in 2018 to help support persecuted Christians, particularly in the Middle East where tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes due to ongoing war and conflicts over the last decade.
Releasing its 2018 annual report June 20, the Vatican-recognised foundation that assists minority Christian communities and people persecuted for their faith, said the donations funded “no fewer than 5,019 pastoral projects in some 139 different countries” with 27 per cent of the donations going to Africa and 25 per cent to the Middle East.
Projects in the Middle East have increased since the 2011 Arab Spring, the foundation said. In the past seven years, it said the foundation has devoted “a total of €99 million euros ($868.4 million), of which over €18 million euros ($157.8 million) were in 2018 alone” to the region.
Over 12 per cent of the total aid, the report said, went to assisting thousands of Christians in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, and funded the rebuilding of nearly 1,500 Christian homes.
The other nations in the top five for foundation-supported projects were India, Ukraine and Congo.
Among the projects supported by the funds collected by the Catholic aid group were €23.2 million euros ($203.5 million) for construction or reconstruction of homes, chapels, churches, convents, seminaries and pastoral centres.
Donations also funded the formation of candidates for the priesthood and religious life, education initiatives, transportation as well as the purchase and distribution of Bibles and other religious literature.
In a statement released by Aid to the Church in Need, the foundation said the annual report’s figures testified to its support, “in a spirit of closeness, to the oppressed and persecuted Church” as well as its ability to “react promptly” in areas where Christians are attacked.
The donations, the statement said, demonstrate “that faith has the power to overcome hatred.”

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