Bishop Zammit launches Lent appeal for Aleppo
Bishop of Gibraltar Carmel Zammit is to launch a Lent campaign on behalf of persecuted Christians in Aleppo. This year Lent starts on March 1, Ash Wednesday, and the official launch of the Diocese of Gibraltar ACN Lent Appeal for Aleppo begins with a presentation at St Theresa’s Church, on Monday 27 of the month, with a talk by the ACN’s John Pontifex who is coming to Gibraltar following a fact-finding visit to the Syrian city barely two weeks after the pre-Christmas ceasefire.
ACN - Aid to the Church in Need - is a Catholic charity which today provides emergency aid – food, heating fuel, electricity, medicine and pastoral help in Aleppo. It works for persecuted and other suffering Christians in more than 140 countries.
In a Pastoral Letter Bishop Zammit says that that as Christians move into the 40 days of Lent in preparation of the celebration of Easter he would like to encourage the people of Gibraltar to give their support and show their solidarity with those in various countries “who are being persecuted, who suffer injustices and who are even martyred for the simple reason that they are Christians”.
“Many thousands of Christians have been forced to leave their native countries to avoid persecution,” he writes in the letter.
“We have often seen news reports and troubling images of human suffering coming from countries where Christians are specifically targeted, with Churches being burnt or ransacked and congregations in churches attacked.”
The ACN, he points out, has and continues to help thousands of persecuted Christians through material and human support.
John Pontifex from ACN will be visiting Gibraltar from Friday 24 to Tuesday 28 of this month and will address various congregations at Sunday Mass. The Lent appeal is part of a four-day programme of events with Masses and talks beginning on the Friday itself. Bishop Zammit’s ACN campaign will get underway with Sunday Mass appeals at churches across the diocese at the weekend.
On the Monday evening the campaign will be officially launched and Mr Pontifex will give a talk at St Theresa’s Church at 9pm which will also see the presentation of a short film of his recent visit to Aleppo showing the work of Sister Annie Demerjian who is ACN’s project partner in Aleppo and together with her volunteers help more than 650 families.
Bishop Zammit says that the Gibraltar appeal and contribution will be split 50/50 between the work by Sister Annie in Aleppo and ACN projects in Aleppo and Syria.
“I would like the self- denial that we are asked to practice during Lent and your consequent charitable contributions to be offered to this organisation. Through your contributions you be alleviating the hardships that others are enduring due to their faith. The generosity of Gibraltarians has never been put into question and I am confident that your support to ACN will help in supporting their invaluable work to alleviate the suffering people of Syria,” says the Bishop.
To donate to the Diocese of Gibraltar ACN Lent Appeal for Aleppo, people can visit their parish Church where Collection Boxes will be placed or Deposit donations at the International Bank of Gibraltar Account Name ‘Trustees RCC/ACN’, Account number: 00812022, Sort code 60-83-14.