Catholic priest helps 14 disabled children flee Afghanistan

disabled children flee Afghanistan

A Catholic priest managed to flee Afghanistan with a group of disabled children and nuns as the Taliban took control of the country during the US withdrawal.

Barnabite Father Giovanni Scalese, head of the Catholic mission in Afghanistan, along with five Missionaries of Charity nuns and 14 orphans in their care, landed in Rome on Aug 25.

The orphans are between the ages of 6 and 20, and some of them are in wheelchairs, which created a challenge for Scalese and the sisters in transporting them safely to the airport.

“We thank the Lord for the success of the operation,” Father Giovanni Scalese, 66, said in a Facebook post soon after his arrival in Rome .

“I said it and I have done it,” Scalese told Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “I would have never returned to Italy without these children. We couldn’t leave them there.”

“I thank all of you who in these days have raised incessant prayers to Him on our behalf. Those prayers were obviously fulfilled,” Scalese wrote in the post. “Continue to pray for Afghanistan and for its people.”

Scalese told SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops’ conference, that although he “felt concerned” after the Taliban took over the capital, he felt safe being inside the embassy.

“Outside the gates of our embassy were Taliban who, if they had wanted to harm us, could have done so. But absolutely nothing happened,” he recalled. “I was more worried about the (Missionaries) of Charity. They had remained in their homes and were, therefore, more exposed and afraid.”

Nevertheless, Scalese said that while waiting to board the next available flight, “we never felt alone,” and both church and state authorities were in constant contact with them.

Pope Francis “was interested in the matter and followed it,” he said.

The Italian priest was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 as the superior of the Catholic Church’s mission in Afghanistan. St. John Paul II established the mission in Afghanistan in 2002, led by the Clerics Regular of St Paul, known as the Barnabites.

“Our center is no longer open. It is closed and we are destroyed,” a Missionary of Charity nun from Madagascar told La Repubblica. “It is done, there is no hope in Kabul.”

“We continue to pray for Afghanistan. But, we cannot abandon this country and its suffering people,” Scalese told SIR.



Washington Post

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