The African continent continued to face major challenges in 2023. For example, Jihadists were able to further consolidate their presence in the subSaharan region. These include splinter groups afiliated with IS and Al-Qaeda, propagating violence and terror. Millions of people have already fled the conflict regions. ACN therefore supports the Church in Africa, not only in its pastoral activities within parishes but also in assisting refugees.

There are valid reasons why Africa remains a priority region for ACN: of all the continents, Africa once again sufered the highest number of murdered priests, religious and church workers during the reporting year. In many African countries, kidnappings of priests and religious have become a daily occurrence and a perfidious means of exerting pressure. Nigeria, in particular, experienced another year of horror, with at least 28 priests, religious and seminarians kidnapped. However, in November 2023, a glimmer of hope emerged with the release of Fr Hans-Joachim Lohre. The German missionary had been abducted in Mali a year earlier and was a long-standing project collaborator with ACN.

Seminarians at the Mayidi Seminary, Democratic Republic of Congo
Seminarians at the Mayidi Seminary, Democratic Republic of Congo

Africa remains a continent of hope for the Catholic Church.

Despite the huge challenges, Africa remains a continent of hope, as the Church is young and growing. Almost one in five Catholics around the globe, more than one in eight priests, almost one in seven religious sisters and almost a third of all seminarians worldwide live on the continent. It is also the Church that stands by the population in the face of hunger, violence and political instability and assists wherever states fail.

In Africa, ACN focusses on the training and further education of priests, religious and lay people, helps with the purchase of of-road vehicles for pastoral care, provides financial aid for the construction of churches and chapels and promotes initiatives to strengthen the family. Our aid organisation also supports the Church in areas afected by terrorism, by caring for internally displaced persons.