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Africa Receives Bulk of Funding as More Donate Towards Catholic Charity Despite Pandemic

Chart showing Aid allocated per region in 2020 by Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need. Credit: Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)

Roughly one third of the total project aid that was supplied by Catholic Charity Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International in the year 2020, went to Africa, the leadership of the organization has reported.

In the report launched on Friday, June 18, the leadership of the Catholic entity also indicated that more funds had been raised last year despite the global economic plunge that was attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the 122.7m Euros that the Pontifical charity raised through its benefactors, 36 percent went to Africa to alleviate suffering of the people in a number of countries on the continent that reported a spike in terrorist attacks.

“Roughly one third (32.6 percent) of the total project aid supplied by ACN International in 2020 went to Africa,” the charity organization reported.

Dr. Thomas Heine-Geldern, the executive president of ACN International noted that attacks in the Sahel Region that comprises ten African countries aggravated the suffering of those who were displaced in the violence.

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“We are greatly concerned, particularly for the countries of the Sahel region, where there has been an explosion of terrorism. The pandemic has made the situation of the uprooted refugees yet more difficult, and in many cases the Church is the only institution still remaining to support the people,” Dr. Heine-Geldern said.

The organization reported that the amount raised in 2020 was 16.4m Euros more than what was raised in the previous year by the charity via its 23 national offices. This, according to the report, represented more than 15 percent growth.

In his address at the virtual launch of the report, Dr. Heine-Geldern noted that the donations brought relief to many people who lost their sources of livelihood during the pandemic.

Also affected were Priests and Religious Sisters who were unable to make ends meet when public worship was suspended in many countries, the ACN official said.

“Not only did the pandemic turn our own work upside down, but it also dramatically worsened the plight of Christians in many regions of the world, who found themselves literally, almost overnight, without work, pay or food,” Dr. Heine-Geldern said, and added, “Many Priests and Religious were also left not knowing how to make ends meet.”

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He further said that in the face of the global economic plunge, however, ACN’s benefactors remained true to the charity, with the Pontifical entity welcoming new benefactors on board.

“This great generosity leaves us feeling profoundly grateful”, Dr. Heine-Geldern said, and added, “It was quite unforeseen, especially since the crisis has inflicted profound economic insecurity and difficulties on us all. We were particularly pleased to note that the number of our benefactors has also increased worldwide.”

The Pontifical charity that supports the Church in regions experiencing persecution of Christians reported that it supported 4,758 projects in 138 different countries.

“Thanks to the donations received, the charity was able to support a range of activities to a total value of 102.1 million Euros,” the organization reports and explains that a chunk of its projects also stalled owing to the pandemic.

The organization reported that 79 percent of the funds in 2020 was spent on project work, information, media support and prayer campaigns. In this way, a total of 4,758 individual projects were supported in various countries.

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Around 8 percent of funds were spent on administration while 12.5 percent on awareness raising and finding new benefactors.

The leadership of ACN clarifies that the organization is funded exclusively by private donations and receives no public monies either from Church or secular sources.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the charity has supported no fewer than 401 coronavirus-related projects to a total value of over 6.2m Euros, in order to alleviate the most pressing needs. This included, among other things, supplying Priests and Religious with essential PPE, helping them to continue their pastoral work and bridging the most urgent financial shortfalls resulting from the pandemic.

In terms of allocations to various continents, Africa received the bulk of funding followed by Asia at 18 percent. Asia also received huge funding to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization reported that funding for the Middle East, and in particular Syria and Iraq, plunged to 14 percent owing to the pandemic during which most construction projects supported by ACN stalled.

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“Many structural rebuilding projects came to a standstill because it was simply impossible to deliver the necessary building materials. But this region nevertheless remains profoundly important to us”, ACN‘s executive president explained of the Middle East situation.

“Above all during the coronavirus crisis Mass stipends were a sign of our solidarity in prayer and for many Priests their sole means of survival financially. Altogether we were able to send them 1.7 million Mass offerings”, said Dr. Heine-Geldern.

The leadership of ACN reported that worldwide, one in every nine Priests was able to benefit from direct financial and spiritual support.

In the case of Seminarians, one in every eight worldwide received support from ACN for their studies and living costs within the seminary, the organization reported, and added, “In this way ACN last year helped 14,000 of tomorrow’s priests.”

The leadership of ACN notes that the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the sources of income for Catholic Sisters in many regions of the world adding that it was able to support over 18,000 such Religious Sisters with basic subsistence for livelihood, training aid and help for the spiritual apostolate.

Another vital area supported by ACN is, and continues to be, that of pastoral transport, by means of which Priests and Catechists are able to reach the faithful even in remote and inaccessible areas.

The list of vehicles supplied with the help of ACN included 783 bicycles, 280 cars, 166 motorcycles, 11 boats, two buses and one lorry.

Dr. Heine-Geldern noted that the situation on the African continent, where he observed that terrorism and violence are spreading ever further, will continue to be a matter of great concern to the International charity organization.