Africa is a continent with about 1.112 billion inhabitants, 215 million of which are Catholics. The average age of the population is 19. True to the charism of solidarity with the persecuted church Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) would like to draw attention to the suffering of Christians in several African countries that are directly affected by Islamic terrorism. These include Nigeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Chad. At the same time, ACN would like to highlight one of the most serious problems for the continent’s future: the hidden, but constant infiltration of Islamic fundamentalism into other African countries where, up until now, Christians and Muslims have been coexisting in peace and harmony. This alarming news is being conveyed to ACN by missionaries and local clergy from various African countries.
The peaceful coexistence of the religions in Sub-Saharan Africa lies in the balance. Without the reconciliation and forgiveness work the church carries out in countries such as Nigeria, the Central African Republic or Tanzania, the spiral of violence and hate would have had unthinkable, devastating consequences. For this reason, ACN is supporting projects that focus on interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding. However, ACN believes that the Gospel itself still bears the most powerful message of peace. To establish peace in Africa, the best investment is ensuring the unfaltering presence of Eucharist and Gospel through the work of priests, religious sisters and catechists. It is also important to note that the violence and suffering of the African people is not only rooted in Islamic fundamentalism. Corruption, oppressive regimes, ethnic conflicts and power struggles as well as natural catastrophes have time and again required that the Catholic church take on a fundamental, often heroic role in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite all difficulties, the number of believers in the African church has quadrupled over the last 35 years, growing from 55 to 214 million. According to the latest statistics of the Catholic church, Africa ranks first in the world in terms of growth in the number of Catholics (46%). It is also a very young church. After all, the church only became established in many countries as recently as 200 years ago. Together with Asia, Africa is the only continent to report an annual growth in vocations to the priesthood.
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