Persecuted Christians in 138 countries supported by Church charity last year

Persecuted Christians in 138 countries supported by Church charity last year A church destroyed by a Russian attack on the village of Bohorodychne in Ukraine’s Donetsk region is pictured Feb. 13, 2024. Photo: OSV/Vladyslav Musiienko, Reuters

International charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has revealed the agency spent €144.5 million over 5,000 projects in 138 countries in 2023, according to a recent report.

“Once again, this year, these numbers reflect a true miracle”, said the head of the organisation, Irishwoman Regina Lynch.

The international charity counts on “the generosity of some 360,000 benefactors in 23 countries, including, Ireland,” the organisation said in the statement. ACN helps Christians suffering around the world, including the war-torn Gaza Strip and Ukraine.

The headquarters of the organisation is in Königstein, Germany, and provides aid to Catholic communities in some 140 countries around the world. The roots of ACN go back to the years after WWII, “emphasising the urgent work of reconciliation and reconstruction in Europe.”

Ms Lynch explained that in 2024 the charity’s “focus is tending to shift towards the need of pastoral accompaniment and support for people in war zones or facing persecution, who have suffered deep trauma as a result. This is an area where we hope to further intensify our help.”


She also said their goal for this year is to “step up our help in the Sahel region, where jihadist terrorism is spreading and where Christians are facing increasing suffering from the violence.”

The organisation has national offices in 23 countries worldwide and the support of donors in those countries allows ACN to function without any financial support from governments or ecclesial bodies.

“The country that received the most aid from ACN in 2023 was Ukraine, for the second year in a row, with €7.5 million, at a time when the Catholic Church in Ukraine remains committed to healing the spiritual wounds of those traumatised by the war and continues, in this difficult situation, to accompany those who are suffering due to the ongoing conflict,” the organisation declared.

81.3% of the funds spent ‘went directly to mission-related expenses. Within this amount, 85.9% went to aid projects in 138 countries’”

The second country to receive the most aid in 2023 was Syria, “with €7.4 million, followed by Lebanon, with €6.9 million. In both these countries the Christian population is still dealing with the effects of a crippling economic crisis and, in the case of Syria, a long-lasting civil war and the terrible earthquake of 2023.”

81.3% of the funds spent “went directly to mission-related expenses. Within this amount, 85.9% went to aid projects in 138 countries, allowing the foundation to approve 5,573 projects for the world’s neediest communities.”

The remaining €16.6 million (14.1% of the total) was destined to “activities related to information work, proclaiming the faith and the defence of persecuted Christians, including the publishing of religious literature,” the announcement said, and added that funds were also directed to “prayer campaigns and advocacy for the rights and interests of persecuted and suffering Christians.”


The most support on a regional level was given to Africa. The continent received roughly a third of the resources (31.4%), while “the main beneficiary countries in this region are the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as Nigeria and Burkina Faso.”

Ms Lynch commented on those projects: “Africa is home to approximately one in every five Catholics, one in every eight priests, one in every seven female religious, and almost a third of seminarians in the world.

“Besides that, the spread of terrorism and Islamic extremism in some countries, especially in the Sahel region, are a cause of great suffering and pain for Christians in this continent.”

Being the region with the second highest amount of support, the Middle East received 19.1% of aid. In Syria, 61% of all funds received went to “emergency aid, including food and housing, medical assistance and microcredit support for businesses.”

The charity also declared that “In Lebanon, emergency aid accounted for 47% of total aid to the country. It was mainly used to maintain the operation of Christian schools, but a considerable amount was also allocated to food, housing and medical care.”

One in every ten seminarians in the world received support in their formation in 2023, which accounts a total of about 11,000 seminarians in total”

India is the country “where the foundation provides the largest number of scholarships to priests and religious,” with 17.3% of funds destined to the Asia-Oceania region. “Europe and Latin America received 15.4% and 15.3% of the total aid each. The remaining 1.5% went to other regions.”

40,767 priests received Mass stipends in 2023. The charity destined a total of almost 1.75 million to that cause. “Statistically, this means that one in every ten priests in the world received support from ACN and that every 18 seconds a Mass was celebrated somewhere around the world for the intentions of ACN benefactors.”

One in every ten seminarians in the world received support in their formation in 2023, which accounts a total of about 11,000 seminarians in total. Of these, 5,793 were in Africa, “which is now home to highest number of priestly vocations in the world.”


The region with the second largest number of religious vocations is Latin America, with 2,103 seminarians helped by ACN, followed by “Asia with 1,996, and Europe with 1,099, of which 600 are in Ukraine.”

“Support for the formation of priests, religious and laypeople represented 26.7% of all the support, whereas Mass stipends and subsistence aid for women religious amounted to 21.6%.”

Just over a quarter of the aid provided in 2023 (26.8%) was destined to construction projects, which put these projects at the top of the list. Almost a thousand construction projects were executed in 2023, of which one third involved churches and chapels.

“The remaining amount went to the renovations of convents, seminaries, parish houses and pastoral centres.” The region with the most construction projects was Africa, where 36.2% off all funds received went to that purpose.

Emergency aid accounted for around 11% of expenses, which in 2023, went to more countries than before, including to the Holy Land”

The organisation also directed aid to transportation. 10.4% of funds went to that purpose, “providing 1,041 vehicles to help pastoral agents carry out their missions”, over 10% of the 515 automobiles went to Ukraine. The charity also provided “340 motorcycles, 175 bicycles, six buses and five boats, as well as 21 projects for maintenance and repair” worldwide.

“Emergency aid accounted for around 11% of expenses, which in 2023, went to more countries than before, including to the Holy Land, where the recent conflict has had such a serious adverse effect on the Christian population.”

Each year, ACN funds over 5,000 projects helping to support the Church in its mission. “From building churches to providing catechetical books to emergency aid.”