ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - “The future for the Church in Afghanistan is promising”, says Papal Nuncio on a pastoral visit to Kabul

Tuesday, 18 October 2005

Islamabad (Fides Service) - “I have been delighted by what I saw and heard. The future for the Church in Afghanistan is promising” said Archbishop Alessandro D’ Errico, papal nuncio in Pakistan, at the end of a pastoral visit to Catholics in Afghanistan 9 to12 October. The small Catholic community in Kabul includes missionaries, embassy staff, personnel of international organisations and members of armed forces.
.The Archbishop arrived on 9 October and stayed with the Italian army contingent Italfor 11 at Camp Invicta, where he celebrated Mass for the troops and other high ranking military and civil authorities. He was accompanied to visit children at a school in the village of Kamarì, a few kilometres from Kabul. The school is supported and assisted by the Italian peacekeepers.
The Archbishop said he noticed a great improvement, social, economic and spiritual since his previous visit two years ago. Expressing his appreciation to Fr. Giuseppe Moretti, Superior of the Catholic Missio in Afghanistan the Nuncio said: “I am happy to see the seed planted by the grace of God producing fruit and I encourage you in your service and witness”. The Catholic community in Afghanistan is entrusted to the care of the Barnabite Fathers who came her 70 years ago. The Nuncio assured the priests of the Holy See’s appreciation for their valuable service. He also paid tribute to the Italian Embassy in Kabul, the only embassy with a chapel and a chaplain officially recognised by the government.
The Archbishop recalled that basic priorities for the Catholic mission and other Christians in Afghanistan in the context of the reconstruction of the country is charity work, humanitarian aid, social services for children, development projects. The Nuncio said among elements for hope was a desire of the Missionaries of Charity, Sisters of Mother Teresa to open a centre in Kabul.
The second priority is ecumenical activity with other Christians and inter-religious dialogue with Muslims to build good Muslim-Christian relations based on the values of reciprocal respect, solidarity and peace and the dignity of every human person.
The Nuncio concluded voicing appreciation for the presence of Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai at the funeral of Pope John Paul in April this year and reiterating the Holy See’s wish to establish full diplomatic relations with the Republic of Afghanistan.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/10/2005 righe 30 parole 321)