Message modified by board administrator 7/8/2008, 1:53 pm
Cardinal Schönborn Archbishop of Vienna reflects on the legacy of Father Werenfried
Speaking to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, remarked that Father Werenfried, the Dutch Norbetine priest and founder of ACN, was a unique man of reconciliation and helped in many kinds of need." He added that the beloved "Bacon Priest" needs "only to be compared with Saint Paul and with Don Bosco."
Cardinal Schonborn emphasized that Father Werenfried, who died in 2003, had been a great inspiration to him personally, since he had shown "how one should properly beg in order to help Christians and others in need." This was occasionally his own task, too, the cardinal said, since he also had to collect money for various needs.
The Cardinal was especially touched when the founder of ACN spoke to him, upon their meeting on two occasions, about his help for the Russian Orthodox Church. "This impressed me deeply," he said. "This was the spirit in which he helped in Germany after the war." Despite the fact that, as a Dutchman, Father Werenfried came from a country that suffered at the hands of Germany, he sought reconciliation still. "Now, a few years ago, this effort to help the Russian Orthodox Church - again in a situation that was difficult. I consider this idea to be very, very precious," the cardinal continued.
Cardinal Schonborn concluded by saying that the fact that ACN is still so active is a "powerful sign of hope," and wished ACN every blessing for the years ahead, especially on its 60th anniversary.
The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is directly answerable to the Vatican. It was founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, a Dutch Norbertine priest. Right after the Second World War, he began a campaign in Holland and Belgium for their former enemies, the Germans, in a spirit of reconciliation. In those days he used to collect gifts in kind and foodstuffs, especially bacon, which earned him the worldwide nickname of "Bacon Priest". In the course of time this post-war initiative developed into a worldwide charity which now provides pastoral aid wherever the Church faces discrimination or persecution or is too poor to fulfil her pastoral mission. Currently the charity sponsors projects in some 140 countries around the world.
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