In 2020, 17 African countries celebrated the 60th anniversary of their independence. But despite enormous progress, the continent faces major challenges in many places. The same holds true for the Catholic Church. Political instability, Islamist terror and the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have left many Church institutions in dire straits. Therefore, for ACN, Africa remains a high-priority region, which we were able to support in the reporting year with a total volume of 21.3 million euros.
The Church in Africa is young and growing. Today, almost every fifth Catholic in the world lives here. This includes one in nine priests, one in eight religious sisters and more than a quarter of all seminarians. Although the local Church draws a good deal of hope from this, the situation in many regions is daunting.
The coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates the existential plight of the African Church.
For example, more and more people, including Church representatives and employees, suffer from increasing violence and persecution. The situation is particularly worrying in the countries of the Sahel and in Mozambique, where Islamist extremism threatens the peaceful coexistence of Christians and Muslims. Hundreds of thousands have already been displaced or have fled.
In addition, the plight of the Church has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the numbers of infections and deaths on the continent are comparatively low, the consequences for the economy and the Church are severe. The pandemic has increased poverty through unemployment and led to a drastic decline in material and financial support for the Church from the faithful. ACN has particularly helped priests and religious by providing material support and Mass stipends, and has also increased its funding for education.