More than 80% of the 100 million inhabitants of the Philippines are Catholic. This makes the archipelagic country in the Pacific Ocean the only predominantly Christian country in Asia. Social inequality, human rights ciolations and Islamist terror on the Mindanao archipelago repeatedly pose great challenges to society. Here the Church is often the only authority that dares to raise its voice against the political leadership. ACN supports the local Church in this endeavour, for it not only gives believers a spiritual home, but also the courage and hope for a better future.
Time and again, the Filipino Church has come into conflict with the government. For example, by demanding that human rights and human dignity be respected, including for prisoners, drug addicts and drug dealers. The latter are often executed without trial on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The priests and bishops agree: in order to overcome social inequality and increasing materialism, and to properly deal with the challenges of the modern world, a new inner compass of values and a deepening of faith are needed. In this undertaking, the Church also relies on the youth. For example, at the YOUCAT Congress, which was held in November 2019 in Iloilo City and was sponsored by ACN. We enabled 300 young people from poor parishes to participate in the congress.
A flash point in the Philippines is the southern archipelago of Mindanao, where many Muslims live and where Islamist terrorist groups would like to establish an Islamic state. Time and again there are attacks – including on Christian institutions. In January 2019, a bomb attack took place in Jolo Cathedral during Sunday Mass, in which 20 people died and over 100 worshippers were injured. ACN funded the restoration of the cathedral roof with 35,000 euros. We also support the interfaith initiative “Youth for Peace”, in which Christian and Muslim students work together to help refugees who fled the city of Marawi in 2017 after major attacks by Islamists.