With almost 500 million Catholics, Latin America remains the most “Catholic” continent. Nevertheless, the Church also suffers from pervasive violence in many regions. In recent years, there has been increasing social and political unrest in many Latin American countries. This has had disastrous consequences for the economy. More than 30% of South Americans live below the poverty line – and the pandemic has further exacerbated impoverishment. The Church is also in existential distress in many places due to the coronavirus crisis. ACN stands by the local churches and was frequently able to alleviate the greatest need in the reporting year with a total volume of 9.7 million euros.
In 2020, Latin America became an epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first half of the year the number of cases exploded and Latin America quickly became one of the worst affected regions. Despite lockdowns and other measures, health services were overburdened in many places. Images of graves dug on a massive scale in the Brazilian city of Manaus reached a global audience. Indigenous peoples were particularly hard hit.
The pandemic has further exacerbated poverty in many countries with already weak economies. Particularly in the informal sector – from which around 50% of families in Latin America make a living – where many have lost their income. This further accelerates the spread of the virus, because the poor cannot build up food supplies and work at home. Often the Church is the only support for these people. But many local churches suffer from violence. Sadly, in 2020, Latin America again ranked first in the statistics of murdered priests, religious and lay workers.
Latin America is one of the epicentres of the pandemic.
ACN helps the Church to ease suffering in local communities and offer hope to the faithful. Even in times of the coronavirus, priests and religious want to continue to care for the faithful. ACN has provided them with extensive protective material for this purpose. In addition, we have been able to focus on supporting religious sisters and priests with material support and seminarians with training assistance.