The coronavirus pandemic hit Brazil with full force last year. Even though President Bolsonaro repeatedly played down the dangers of the virus, the statistics reflect a catastrophic development: At the end of the year, the country recorded 7.6 million infections and more than 192,000 deaths. The Amazon region was particularly affected. Priests and religious had a hard time continuing people’s pastoral care, given the risk of infection. ACN helped with protective material and continued to support the local Church with priestly formation and by providing vehicles for transport.
Of Brazil’s 210 million inhabitants, 64% are Catholics. However, 20 years ago, Catholics still accounted for 75% of the population here. The Church is finding it increasingly difficult to survive in this crisis-ridden country. Corruption, unemployment, economic crisis and environmental destruction are making many people receptive to deceptive promises of salvation made by sects. These are now active almost everywhere in Brazil and, unlike many parishes, usually have a good deal of money at their disposal.
The pandemic has made the situation even worse. Thus in 2020, the local Church faced the particular challenge of providing pastoral care to its faithful despite the pandemic, while at the same time protecting its priests and staff from infection as much as possible. The situation was particularly threatening in the Amazon region. In Manaus, the capital of the state of Amazonas, three quarters of the city of almost 2 million inhabitants are said to have already been infected. The pictures of graves dug on a massive scale horrified the world public. ACN therefore helped several dioceses with protective material.
In 2020, as in previous years, we continued to support the local Church in the training of future priests, religious and lay workers. Catechetical material was also provided for evangelisation. Since many priests were forced to do without collections as a result of the pandemic, we increasingly helped with Mass stipends. To ensure mobility in the huge parishes, ACN also helped to purchase vehicles for pastoral care. In the Amazon region, where a large number of the villages can only be reached by river, we were able to finance the purchase of a boat.
We thank God for your generous heart, which you share with those who need it most.Dilma Franca dos Santos, Shalom Catholic Community
Necessity is the mother of invention – the Shalom Catholic Community
During the pandemic, charitable and pastoral care is needed more than ever. For example, the Shalom Catholic Community is helping the population on the difficult-to-reach island of Marajó in the Amazon estuary. Here, due to the coronavirus crisis, the missionaries have taken unconventional paths in pastoral care – e.g. a telephone counselling service for people who feel lonely during the pandemic. In addition, the community set up online prayer groups via video calls. Their valuable work is supported by ACN.