Asmara (Agenzia Fides) - "We are deeply saddened and hurt by the measures that the government is adopting by force, or has already done so, taking away from us the educational and health institutions that legitimately belong to us", the prelates bemoan in a letter addressed to the Minister of Education Hon. Mr. Semere Reesom, in which they denounce the closure and nationalization of Catholic schools by the government.
The Bishops recall the governments seizure of Catholic clinics in the recent past which severely restricts the services of the Church in the country
and complain that Church-owned secondary schools were confiscated earlier in 2018. And recently, "procedures have begun for the confiscation or, alternatively, the closure of our remaining educational institutions, from pre-schools to intermediate primary schools, scattered throughout the Country".
In addition, the already confiscated educational institutes, the State intends yet to nationalize or close other Catholic-owned primary schools in various parts of the country including one in the Eparchy of Barentù; 16 in the Eparchy of Cheren and two in the Archeparchy of Asmara.
The Bishops clarify that the services offered by the Catholic Church to the people "are not, meant to be competitive with or substitute for what the State does in the same areas", but "to offer the population greater opportunities of choice and fruition".
"These measures - the Bishops affirm - violate in principle her rights and is explicitly detrimental to the most elementary principles of justice", "denying families the opportunity to send their children to a school of their own free choice".
The closure of some health facilities and the nationalization of other health centers "which serve the people with exemplary dedication and without any distinction of religion, ethnicity or group", was justified by the government with the excuse that the confiscated facilities "belong to the people, and not to the Church". "This is an open distortion of the truth, designed to confuse the people. And it is right and fitting that we, the Catholic Bishops of Eritrea, promptly denounce the indisputable falsehood of the above misrepresentation. The schools and clinics confiscated or closed, or due to undergo the same fate, are the legitimate property of the Catholic Church, built, established and organized in the supreme and exclusive interest of serving the people". The Bishops conclude by reaffirming "that the Catholic Church in Eritrea, will continue to uphold and defend, as its inspiring principles, the paths of dialogue, mutual understanding, peace and mutual". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/6/2021)