Even thirty years after the political changes in Eastern Europe, the effects of atheistic communism are still evident. The population and the Church are affected by economic hardships in many places. In addition, many local churches still have to bear the burdens of their expropriation. ACN has been supporting the Church of Eastern Europe in its spiritual and material reconstruction work for many years with numerous aid projects. In Western Europe, on the other hand, the problem of refugees continues to pose a great challenge to the Church – ACN’s main focus here is on pastoral care for Christian refugees.
To this day, local churches in Eastern Europe are still fighting for the restitution of property taken from them as a result of expropriation during the communist era. But in many Eastern European countries, the Church is also under financial pressure due to the economic crisis, and monasteries and seminaries are also affected. Many local churches are still dependent on aid from abroad to maintain pastoral care.
» There is still much work to be done – spiritually as well as materially.«
The areas overseen by priests in Eastern European countries are frequently very large. And the need for pastoral workers who understand people’s needs and are able to spiritually support them is immense. This is why the formation of priests, religious and the laity is so important and is at the top of ACN’s list of priorities.
But there are also encouraging developments, especially in Russia. Although the Catholic Church is in the minority here, its voice receives more and more attention in society. For more than 25 years, ACN has been promoting dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This dialogue was also revived by the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in February 2016. New constructive forms of cooperation have emerged, in which ACN is also actively involved.