Somalia: Small Christian community live their faith in secret

Source: Fides

A small community of Somali Christians lives in Mogadishu. There are about 30 elderly people. They live hidden for fear of the reprisals of Islamic fundamentalists. But, they consider their faith as the most precious gift. Fr Stefano Tollu, military Chaplain of the Italian contingent of EUTM Somalia, the formation and training mission financed by the European Union, managed tocontact one of them recently.

Father Tollu, a Salesian missionary now incardinated in the diocese of Faenza and serving in the Military Ordinariat for Italy told Fides:
"I had the opportunity to meet Moses ( not the person's real name) "He is a Christian who grew up in the reality of the Italian Protectorate and then in independent Somalia, and isstill very tied to our country. Many consider him the spokesman of the Somali Catholics. He defines his community as endangered."

In Somalia, a version of Sufi Islam has coexisted for centuries with other faiths. But for the past 20 years, an intolerant version of the Koranic faith has taken hold. Al Qaeda and its local branch al Shabaab are a continuing threat both for non-fundamentalist Muslims and Christians. In recent months IS/Daesh has also appeared in the country, Fr Tollu said.

Besides external dangers some elderly Christians face dangers in their own families. Fr Tollu sais: "Moses told me that 'those born in the' 90s, have become intolerant and do not understand their elders who profess Christianity. Therefore the elders flee away from their children and grandchildren."

Moses showed the Italian priest a list of Christians who died recently, some from natural causes, others violently. Some were killed by their own grandchildren.

Fr Tollu said he promised to pray for them during the Holy Mass.

The few faithful Somali Catholics don't have any priests to serve them "At the moment there are no security conditions for a priest to carry out his pastoral service in Mogadishu peacefully. I hope that in the future, once the country has been freed from terrorist infiltration, it will be possible to recreate the minimum conditions for the Christian presence in the city. At the moment I promised to pray for them during Mass. We are united in daily prayer, we are brothers in Christ even if today they are forced to hide their faith."

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