ASIA/AFGHANISTAN - Fr. Scalese: "We pray for the nation, but the Catholic community gets smaller and smaller"

Thursday, 15 February 2018 violence   terrorism   peace   local churches   christianity   lent  

Knights of Columbus

Kabul (Agenzia Fides) - "We hope for a Lent rich in spiritual fruits. Let us pray so that Afghanistan may regain some peace and resume its path of human, political, social and economic growth", says Fr. Giovanni Scalese, a Barnabite priest, titular of the Missio sui iuris of Afghanistan, to Agenzia Fides. The priest’s words of hope arrive just on the day when UMANA, the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan, published its annual report that shows impressive figures: in 2017 alone, civilian casualties in the Asian country were 10.453 (of whom 3,438 killed and 7,015 wounded). The responsibility is mainly attributed to terrorist attacks by the Taliban (that caused 42% of the victims) and those by ISIS (10%).
Fr. Scalese, who lives his mission within the Italian Embassy in Kabul, began the season of Lent with the celebration of Ash Wednesday: "There was a fair presence of the faithful, especially considering the moment". In recent weeks, in fact, the Afghan land was devastated by a series of attacks: among others that of last January 20, when four armed men, one of whom a kamikaze, attacked the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul, causing 43 victims.
"The situation seems calmer these days. But we have no expectations: we have learned that these periods of apparent peace can be used to prepare for the next attack", observes the Barnabite.
"In coming days, one of the sisters will return to her country, Pakistan. The community continues to get smaller and smaller. We hope for the arrival of some other members. It is clear that security problems have led many to leave Afghanistan. The few left are often unable or at least discouraged to reach the church for Mass, but whoever does so demonstrates an admirable faith and courage!", concludes the priest. The Catholic presence in the capital Kabul is guaranteed not only by the Barnabite, but also by the nuns of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the "Pro Bambini of Kabul" intercongregational Association. (LF) (Agenzia Fides, 15/2/2018)