Libyan Catholics hopeful

Catholics hope they will be able to continue to practice their faith in a rebel-led Libya.

Libyan Catholics were permitted to worship under Qaddafi’s leadership and there are reports from rebel-led areas that the Church is functioning without restriction, though some uncertainty remains.

“The future is very uncertain but the signs from the parts of the country that have been under rebel control since March is that Catholic priests and nuns are still being allowed to go about their business as usual. So we hope that’s a good sign for the future,” a senior local Church source, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told CNA.

There has been concern recently for the safety of a Franciscan community based in Tripoli’s sole Catholic Church.

However CNA reports that while their situation is not easy, they are well.

Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli to Fides, who is currently in Italy, told Fides he is keen to return to Tripoli but has been advised against it.

“I am anxious to return to Tripoli to be with the community and the priests. Unfortunately so far I have been recommended not to leave because the usual routes to return to Libya are blocked. The fact that several Libyans are returning home, however, gives me hope to go back soon.”

“In Libya there are wonderful, intelligent and well-prepared people, who can lead the country. There are elites able to take control of the situation and plan the future of the country, preserving its unity,” Martinelli said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, wants to see Libya become a country where human rights and religious liberty is respected.

“As Libya transitions to a new era after decades of oppression, it is our hope that its new leaders will develop a government that truly represents the aspirations of its people,” Tunnicliffe said.

“We believe that a commitment to seek reconciliation, to establish justice based upon internationally accepted legal principles, and to promote human rights and religious liberty for every citizen is in the best interests of all Libyans.”

There are an estimated 100,000 Catholics in Libya and around 25 Catholic priests working in the country, mainly based in Tripoli and the city of Benghazi. 60 religious women work in the country’s hospital system.


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