Moved by the Love of Christ - serving the suffering Church


“Aid to Church in Need” becomes a Pontifical Foundation

The international Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) has been elevated by Pope Benedict XVI to the status of a Pontifical Foundation. The official seat of the foundation is the Vatican. This canonical act was enacted by a Chirograph, an official document in Latin personally signed by the Pope.

Mauro PiacenzaThe Pope assigned the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza as the President of the Foundation. He in turn has nominated Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck as Executive President, with immediate effect as of December 1st, 2011. The international headquarters of ACN will remain in Königstein, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. For the 30 years preceding his present appointment, Baron Heereman was Secretary-General, and later Executive President of the Knights of Malta in Germany. Concurrent to this nomination, Father Martin Barta was appointed the Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN. Father Barta is a member of the Clerical Association “Work of Jesus High Priest”.

Baron Johannes Heereman von ZuydtwyckThe initial impulse for the founding of ACN came from Pope Pius XII. Inspired by the Pope's plea just after the Second World War to reach out to the 14 million post-war refugees in Germany, the Norbertine priest Werenfried van Straaten launched an appeal for reconciliation through charitable deeds. As among other things he collected bacon, he soon became known as the "Bacon Priest".

Martin BartaToday ACN is a worldwide community of over 600,000 friends and benefactors which support approximately 5,000 aid projects every year in over 140 different countries. In 2010 the total amount of donations came to 85 million euros. The ACN benefactors are taken care of through 17 national offices in Europe, North and South America and Australia.

In the Chirograph signed by the Holy Father, he emphasises the decades-long services of ACN for the Church. Now a Pontifical Foundation, ACN will continue as before, in a spirit of active charity to help wherever the Church faces hardship or persecution. As a pastoral charity, acting in the name of the Church, it is committed to strengthening and deepening Catholic faith and moral life.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat is responsible for the operational day-to-day running of the charity.


Governing Statutes

Article 3: The purpose of the Association is the promotion of pastoral and religious activities and initiatives, especially in areas where the Church is persecuted or prevented by various obstacles from fulfilling her proper mission. The Association can support refugees from regions where the Church is persecuted.

Full text of the Statutes

Spiritual Guidelines of our Founder

§ 2. At the time I saw it as my priestly duty to preach reconciliation and restore love in the Church and in the world. Such love demanded a personal commitment to the hungry, the naked, the prisoners and all the others included by Christ in His description of the Last Judgement and in whom He Himself lies hidden. It demanded a readiness to recognise and love Christ in the least of His brethren - and not excluding our enemies. For love of our enemies is of the essence of Christianity. (Werenfried van Straaten o.praem)

Full text of the Spiritual Guidelines
Spiritual Guidelines

Important Church Documents

Deus Caritas Est

Caritas in Veritate

Historical Milestones of ACN

Historical Milestones

Annual Financial Report

Annual Report

Further Information

This International Head Office website has been designed mainly for projects partners living in countries where Internet connections are slow or intermittent. If you have a reliable and fast connection, you are invited to visit the more elaborate websites of our National Sections for further information.