The Philippines is the only majority Christian country in Asia. More than 80% of the archipelago’s 109 million inhabitants are Catholic. In 2021, the Church in the Philippines celebrated the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Gospel. For its part, the local Church is very concerned about social inequality and human rights violations in the country, as well as Islamist violence on the Mindanao archipelago – grievances against which it regularly raises its voice. ACN supports the Church to the best of its ability, and in 2021 especially in the family apostolate.
The Mindanao archipelago, where many Muslims live, takes on a special position in the island state. For years, various Islamist terrorist groups have been active here in efforts to establish an Islamic state. There have repeatedly been attacks. Radicalisation and violence are increasing noticeably. The Church seeks above all dialogue with “moderate” Muslims.
»The Philippine Church raises its voice against social grievances.«
In addition, the Church continues to raise its voice in the Philippine public sphere on issues that bring it into conflict with the government, for example, when it comes to respect for human rights and human dignity, including for prisoners, drug addicts and drug dealers. The latter are frequently executed without trial on the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Philippine bishops have published a prayer for the upcoming national and local elections in 2022. In addition, the Church calls on the faithful to exercise their right to vote responsibly and to follow their own conscience. It warns against vote buying and also spoke out against the reintroduction of the death penalty in 2021.
Social inequality and increasing materialism necessitate a deepening of faith. For this reason, ACN increasingly supported the family apostolate in the year under review. In the poorer dioceses of the country, ACN also promotes priestly formation, supports priests with Mass stipends and provides vehicles for pastoral care.
ACN supports inter-religious training centre
The Emmaus college of theology was founded by Father Sebastiano D’Ambra in Zamboanga on the island of Mindanao. Catholic leaders and religious teachers are trained in this state-recognised institution. In the future, they will work primarily for dialogue between Christians and Muslims. ACN regularly supports the work of the centre, where thousands have already been trained for inter-religious dialogue.