The challenges facing the Catholic Church in Asia and Oceania are many and vary greatly from region to region. In most countries of this vast region, Christians are in the minority and thus often suffer from discrimination. In addition, poverty, natural disasters and, since 2020, the coronavirus pandemic have made life difficult for the population and thus also for the Church. ACN responded to many applications and supported the Church in Asia and Oceania in 2020 with a total of 11.8 millioneuros. One focus was our coronavirus emergency relief.
Christianity has always had a difficult time in Asian countries. Christians are often seen as a harmful influence from abroad, threatening the respective government and the supposed religious unity of the nation. Thus, nationalist movements, authoritarian government systems, but also other religious communities make both life and the free practice of their faith difficult for many Christians.
In Asia, the Church has witnessed hope and compassion in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
In some countries, social discrimination against Christians intensified even further during the pandemic, e.g. in Pakistan, where the Christian minority was excluded from aid by the government or local NGOs. ACN provided emergency aid here, particularly in the form of protective material and funds to secure the livelihoods of priests and religious, so that they can continue their ministry to those in need.
But there are also encouraging developments. Apart from Africa, Asia and Oceania are the only regions where the number of priestly and religious vocations is increasing. Asia alone, for example, has about 30% of the world’s seminarians. ACN is doing all it can to promote their formation.