Aid to the Church in Need focuses on Africa with Lent & Easter campaign
Boosting Church's pastoral strength, fighting Islamist extremism
By ACN staff
AIMING to strengthen Catholics in the face of a rise in religiously
motivated fundamentalism and to support pastoral care on the continent with the
largest growing number of believers, international
Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is putting the spotlight on
Africa with its 2017 Lent and Easter campaign.
Under the motto
“Their Faith Is Our Hope,” proceeds from the campaign will benefit an African
Church with 215 million faithful, in a population of more than 1.1 billion
people whose average age is just 19. ACN already supports more than 1,800
projects each year in 45 African nations.
will draw attention to the suffering of Christians in several African countries
that are directly affected by Islamic terrorism, Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central
African Republic and Chad.
will also reflect the hidden, but constant infiltration of Islamic
fundamentalism into other African countries where, up until recently,
Christians and Muslims have been living side-by-side in peace and harmony. Countries
targeted include Tanzania, Kenya, Benin, Senegal and Uganda.
have confirmed the agenda of extremist Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia,
Sudan, Yemen and Iran, which recruit young, ambitious Africans through
scholarships. Following their studies, these young people are then sent home
with a mission to break apart the prevailing order of peaceful Christian-Muslim
instances, extremist Muslim groups give children and adolescents money or
arrange work for them. In return, the youth are expected to convert to Islam
and scorn those who remain Christian.
In order to
strengthen local Churches as agents of forgiveness and reconciliation, ACN will
support projects that focus on interfaith dialogue and peace-building. Ultimately,
ACN officials believe that the best way to establish peace in Africa is ensuring
the unfaltering presence of the Eucharist and Gospel through the work of
well-educated priests and catechists.
In addition to
the impact of Islamic fundamentalism, widespread corruption, oppressive
regimes, ethnic conflicts and power struggles—as well as natural catastrophes
and climate change—have time and again called on the Catholic Church take on a
fundamental, often heroic role in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a story seldom told
in the international secular media.
One of the
goals of the campaign is to draw attention to the courage and readiness of
priests, as well as men and women religious, to give their all to help and
protect the faithful—risking injury and death taking care of refugees in South
Sudan, fighting unlawful land grabs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or
providing for those stricken with the Ebola virus Sierra Leone.
the 25 countries with the lowest rate human development are all located in
Africa. In addition, Sub-Saharan Africa provides shelter to 18 million
refugees, more than a quarter of all refugees worldwide.
difficulties, the number of Catholics has quadrupled over the last 35 years,
growing from 55 to 214 million. Besides Asia, Africa—the fastest-growing Church
in the world—is the only other continent to report an annual growth in
vocations to the priesthood.
formally launched on Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017. For more information, please
Turkana shepherd in Kenya; ACN photo/IsmaelMartinezSanchez