Church leaders in North Africa says no to war

Church leaders across North Africa have welcomed Pope Benedict's appeal for peace in the region and reaffirmed their opposition to violence and war.

“The Bishops of Northern Africa, who are faced with the processes of historical development concerning Arab countries and especially the Maghreb, wish to reaffirm our urgent appeal to find a just and dignified end to this painful conflict," they said, welcoming Pope Benedict message delivered on Sunday. (see: ICN today - Pope appeals for truce in Libya

In a statement signed by Archbishop Vincent Landel of Rabat (Morocco), President of CERNA - the Episcopal Conférence des régions de l'Afrique du Nord - (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), they said:  "The Bishops of CERNA recognise that during the recent events in the Maghreb countries, there has been a “legitimate claim for freedom, justice and dignity, particularly by the younger generations. This demand translates into a desire to be recognised as responsible citizens with the opportunity to find a job that allows them to live decently, excluding all forms of corruption and cronyism.”

“Today, this wind of change passes through Libya. And we especially unite with our brother Bishops in Tripoli and Benghazi, and with all communities in the Country.”

The Bishops of Northern Africa said: “We know that war solves nothing, and when it breaks out, it is just as uncontrollable as the explosion of a nuclear reactor! The first victims are always the poorest and most disadvantaged. Moreover, whether we like it or not, the war in the Near East, and now in the Maghreb, will always be interpreted as 'a crusade'.

"This will have inevitable consequences on the friendly relations that Christians and Muslims have woven and continue to weave...”

The Bishops call for a diplomatic mediation, and appeal for humanitarian aid.

“We pray to the Almighty to inspire the leaders of nations to find the path that leads to Justice and Peace,” the statement concludes.

Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli welcomed Pope Benedict's appeal for peace on Sunday. He told Fides: “The Holy Father's appeal was wonderful news and gives us great comfort. The Pope spoke words that affirm the need for reconciliation, peace and dialogue,”

He said: “We have translated today's appeal by the Holy Father into Arabic and we will send it as a voice message to the Libyan Foreign Ministry, for their information,” said Bishop Martinelli.

The Apostolic Vicar said he did not participate in Saturday's demonstration. He told  Fides, he would join in only if it had been a peace rally.

Archbishop Martinelli also announced that  “from yesterday, police have been stationed in front of our church, officially charged with protecting us." He said there were shortages of food and petrol in Tripoli.

He said there have been civilian casualties. "I know of at least one person who died of a splinter in the skull, perhaps produced by an attack on the anti-aircraft missile exploding at a very low altitude," concluded Bishop Martinelli.

Source: Fides

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