Letter reveals Pope's prayer for ACN
A letter now released in English reveals how, when he became a Cardinal, the new Pope pledged his prayers for a Catholic charity that aids persecuted Christians.
In a letter to Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio asked for prayers and promised to pray for the charity’s staff and benefactors.
Cardinal Bergoglio wrote: “I promise you that I shall pray for the workers and benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need.”
He went on to add a personal message to Fr. Werenfried, “I shall also pray for you, whom I hold in pleasant memory (I have not forgotten the conversation we had more than 20 years ago).”
“Thank you also for everything you do for the Church. Please also pray for me.”
The Argentinian prelate’s letter, dated February 27th, 2001, came in response to a message from Fr. Werenfried congratulating him on being made a Cardinal.
Fr. Werenfried expanded Aid to the Church in Need’s work to Latin America in 1962 at the personal request of Blessed Pope John XXIII, and the charity continues to support projects across the continent.
The then Cardinal Bergoglio’s words to ACN’s founder also reveal his concern for evangelization.
He wrote: “I share your thoughts with respect to the Holy Father’s [Blessed Pope John Paul II] desire for the growth and deepening of Catholic faith in my country.”
“In the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires we have been conducting the ‘Archdiocesan Mission’ for three years now, i.e. we visit every house, every person until the message of the Gospel has reached all the different pastoral domains, children, young people, the family, the world of work, those with political responsibility, the sick, prisoners etc.”
“This involves hard work borne by the whole Archdiocese, work that was started by my predecessor, Antonio Cardinal Quarraciso of blessed memory. I ask you to pray for this missionary work within the metropolis.”
Speaking in the Salla Clementia on Friday, March 15th, Pope Francis urged the cardinals gathered there “to find new ways to bring evangelization to the ends of the earth.”
Pope Francis has also asked the faithful in Argentina not to travel to Rome for his installation Mass, but to give the money they would have spent on travel to the poor.