Djibouti (Fides Service) – “You shall be my witnesses in Djibouti” is the title of a Pastoral Letter issued by Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti at the end of special Church Meeting of reflection on the presence of Christians in this small country in the Horn of Africa.
“After fifteen months of study – the Bishop writes – I would like to share with you the fruits of our work as a stimulus for reflection and commitment for all those Catholics who find themselves in Djibouti if only for a year or two”.
“In fact, it must be said that except for a small group of permanent residents, most of the Catholics called to offer a life-style of Christian witness in Djibouti, are only here temporarily for a few months or a couple of years. What counts is not the length of our presence, but the fact that we are conscious that whatever the reason for our being here, the Lord asks us to bear witness to God made man, God who manifests his divinity not in his almighty power, but in the humility of daily life, lived at the service of the truth and love for all men and women”.
Bishop Bertin urges Catholics in Djibouti living side by side with non Christians, “in your daily life, share with the local people the Love which God has given us, the hope he has placed in our hearts, and the faith he has given us through no merit of our own”.
Djibouti has a population of 638,000, 97.5% Muslim. Christians are 2.31% - Catholics 2.25%, Orthodox Christians 0.5% other Christians 0.1%. The Catholic Church is organised in one diocese, which has 5 parishes and 3 mission stations. Bishop Bertin is assisted in his ministry by 2 diocesan priests, 4 religious priests, 5 Brothers, 19 Sisters, 27 lay missionaries and 16 catechists. LM (Fides Service 12/6/2003 EM lines 29 Words: 334)