Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation of the Catholic Church, supporting the Catholic faithful and other Christians where they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need.
In the UK, the charity’s national office is in Sutton, Surrey. It also has a North West office in Lancaster and a Scottish office in Motherwell.
As set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Charitable Company the objects of Aid to the Church in Need’s mission are:
- to advance the Christian religion by supporting and promoting the Church, especially in countries where Christians are suffering persecution or discrimination;
- to further the other charitable work of the Church by providing practical assistance and pastoral care for persons in need, especially those who are living in, or are refugees from, such countries.
Our work around the world
Each year Aid to the Church in Need makes grants to help fund around 5,000 projects, primarily in the following areas:
- provision of catechetical material and books
- broadcasting the Faith
- help with church buildings
- support for the training of seminarians
- grants for the formation of religious and catechists
- subsidies for priests through grants and Mass stipends
- emergency aid to refugees
- provision of transport for those involved in the Church’s mission.
Aid to the Church in Need as an international organisation
At the instigation of Pope Pius XII, the international organisation Aid to the Church in Need was founded by the Norbertine priest Father Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, when, that Christmas, he wrote an open letter, ‘No room at the inn’ highlighting the appalling situation facing post-war refugees.
The secretariat of Aid to the Church in Need International (also known as Kirche in Not/Ostpriesterhilfe) is based in Königstein, Germany, where annually around 5,000 projects throughout the world are coordinated and information material produced.
Father Werenfried’s charism
Father Werenfried’s inspirational and powerful charism is reflected in the Spiritual Guidelines which he wrote to guide the charity’s work. These are still one of the foundations our work.
Aid to the Church in Need’s mission is to make known the pastoral and spiritual needs of the faithful to Catholics and other Christians in the UK and around the world.
As well as supporting Christians who suffer for the Faith and are in pastoral need, we also encourage our benefactors to keep the Faith in an increasingly secularised and materialist world. Through Aid to the Church in Need we are linked together heart to heart, in a chain of faith, hope and charity across the world.
Our Founding Vision
Father Werenfried van Straaten, the late Founder of Aid to the Church in Need, once said that our organisation was established to help the Church “wherever she is persecuted, threatened, undermined or destroyed and suffers need as a result”.
In his day the biggest challenge was the oppression of the Church behind the Iron Curtain, where communism tried to eradicate religious belief and replace it with atheism. In the USSR countless Christians were sent to the gulags and according to one estimate more than 20 million Christians died for refusing to renounce their faith.
With Christians suffering at the hands of anti-religious regimes, Fr Werenfried said that Aid to the Church in Need helps “through prayer, sacrifice, conversion, information and active charity to heal the wounds inflicted by atheism”. This work continues today in communist countries such as China, Vietnam and elsewhere.
Our Core Values
Faith and Christian Love
The foundation of all our activities is Christian faith and love. This includes our fidelity to the Holy Father and adherence to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.
In the fulfilment of this task Our Lady of Fatima is our Model, Mother, Advocate and Sign of Hope.
Our aim is a pastoral service in faithfulness to Aid to the Church in Need’s historical charism. Our way of evangelisation reaches out to the whole human person: body and soul. One might say we provide food for both hungry souls and empty stomachs. We strive to proclaim the Gospel “welcome or unwelcome” (2 Timothy 4:2).
We are committed to helping our beneficiaries through financing pastoral projects, and our benefactors through publications, talks and media work.
Regular prayer, personal and common, animates our daily work and strengthens our missionary spirit.
It moves us to offer spiritual assistance to those who are suffering because of their loyalty to Christ and His Church.
Faithful to our historical roots, we serve to promote unity and reconciliation.
In line with the vision of the Holy Father, we support initiatives in building unity with the Orthodox Church. We strive for a deeper unity with our benefactors by praying for their intentions, providing information and expressing gratitude on behalf of those they help.
As a bridge between benefactor and beneficiary, we fulfil our mission through humble and selfless service.
Human life is a sacred gift from God. We therefore sustain and defend the Culture of Life in all its dimensions. We promote the understanding of sexuality in the beauty of chaste human love and uphold married and family life as the basic cell of society.
Aid to the Church in Need believes in the sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end.
In Christian fellowship, we will animate and strengthen fruitful communication and dialogue among races, nations and communities.
Within the organisation, we will build up and sustain solidarity through transparency and creative responsibility.
Our unshakeable trust in Divine Providence guiding us into the future fills us with hope and confidence and enables us to place trust in others and, in turn, to be trusted by them.
Aid to the Church in Need as a Pontifical Foundation
In December 2011, it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had elevated the international organisation Aid to the Church in Need, of which the British section is a part, to the status of Pontifical Foundation. Previously the organisation had been a Universal Public Association, whose revised decrees were approved by the Congregation of the Clergy on 10 December 1997 (Decree No.97003166, Vatican City).
At the same time, the Holy Father appointed the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, to the position of President of the Foundation.