The Church in Africa once again faced major challenges in 2022: in particular, increasing violence caused by jihadists, who have been able to further consolidate their presence in the Sahel, is a cause for concern. For years, more and more priests have been abducted and even murdered by extremists. Millions of people have already fled the conflict regions. It goes without saying that ACN supports the local churches in their distress. But there is also cause to rejoice: one in five Catholics in the world now lives in Africa, and the number of believers continues to grow. For ACN, the African continent continues to be a priority region.
Due to the precarious situation in many countries, the Sahel has become a hotspot for more than two dozen radical Islamic groups that are active in 14 countries and becoming increasingly networked. Among them are offshoots of IS and al-Qaeda. The consequences for the population are catastrophic. The Church has also suffered greatly. In the year under review, Africa once again set a sad record as the continent with the highest number of murdered priests, religious and church workers worldwide. In many African countries, kidnappings of priests and religious have recently become a means of pressure used by armed groups and criminals to advance their interests.
Africa remains a continent of hope for the Catholic Church.
Despite all the challenges, Africa remains a continent of hope for the Church. The Church is young and growing. Today, almost one in eight priests, more than one in eight religious sisters and almost a quarter of all seminarians worldwide live on this continent. But for the future of the Church, the sound, high-quality training of its pastoral workers is more important than ever. Our aid organisation therefore focuses on supporting the training and further education of priests, religious and lay people, as well as training the trainers. Furthermore, we support the construction of churches and chapels and help to purchase off-road vehicles for pastoral care in remote villages. And we also provide financial support for church initiatives to strengthen the family and for the care and support of internally displaced persons in terror-stricken areas.