Can you tell me, Father Viktor, how the civil war affects the daily life of the people in Angola?
In this tropical country, many people lived in the bush before the war. Political and racial persecutions brought people into the cities in search of security. Thousands were victims of guerilla warfare by UNITA and reprisals by government troops. Thirty-seven missionaries were killed, most of them native Angolans, and sixty-eight others were abducted.
After independence from Portugal, the Church, which had worked closely with the colonials, was greatly criticized by the new Marxist leaders. Possessions of all kinds, even schools and churches, were confiscated by the government. But during the war, the Church, siding with the common people, denounced the government's actions and championed the cause of human rights, peace and justice.
From what you say, the Church seems to be an important reality in this country.
That's right. 55% of the people are Catholic, 12% are Protestant. There is a real inter-faith solidarity, particularly in the area of charitable help.
Despite the years of persecution, there are 15 dioceses, 247 parishes and 3,486 mission posts. 18 Bishops are helped by 322 priests,1,025 sisters, and 93 brothers. There are over 135,000 catechists.