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Monday, April 2, 2012

MISSION / Afghanistan: Small seed of Christian witness

Parish priest of Kabul: small seed of Christian witnesses of the resurrection of Christ
Few faithful attend Easter Mass because of the danger of attacks. Prayer and help the poor only way to communicate the Gospel in a 99% Muslim country

Kabul (AsiaNews) - "We are a small seed in a country hostile to any religion other than Islam. But we are still a reality willed by God and at the service of God. Our mission in Afghanistan is primarily a personal testimony of our faith and the resurrection of Jesus",  Fr. Giuseppe Moretti, parish priest of the church in Afghanistan, the chapel inside the Italian Embassy in Kabul tells AsiaNews. Each Easter, the Barnabite priest speaks of the work of the small Catholic community and the important presence of the Church in a place where it is forbidden to show themselves as Christians.

"As a catacomb church - said Fr. Moretti - we live Lent and Easter in a discreet manner, but with great faith and trust in our work here in Afghanistan. However, our community is affected by the climate of tension and violence that the country is going through ". The priest confesses that the turnout at Sunday Mass is much diminished. "Over the past few months- he continues - only 15 people have participated, compared to over 50 last year. The danger of attacks, the checkpoints and the security measures imposed on the diplomatic staff hinder the participation of the faithful." The priest, however, specifies that all the celebrations of Holy Week will take place in a solemn manner as required by the Catholic tradition. "To see such few people in church is depressing - he says - but this also makes our mission in this country even more important".

The parish of Kabul is composed of a few dozen people, mostly staff of foreign embassies. P. Moretti says "that in recent years there has been a shift away from religion, fewer people participate in the Mass, except for Christmas. Even on Easter Sunday is considered by many an ordinary day. No one explains to the few Afghans who work in embassies the importance of this feast. This diminishes the sense of the parish of Kabul, which despite its simplicity does a great job of testimony and charity among the people. "

Including Fr. Moretti, there are 15 religious [priests, nuns, brothers] operating in Afghanistan. The most established presence in the country is that of the Little Sisters of Jesus who are also respected by the Taliban, these sisters (four in all) have worked for 50 years in Kabul. The fall of the Taliban in 2001, allowed the entry of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, who since 2006 have worked with the sick and poor. Another reality that is recognized and respected estimated population is pro-Kabul Children Association which assists orphans and disabled.

"Christ - says the priest - has risen for all, especially for the people of this country, that is 99% Muslim, battered by war and suffering. Communicating the values of peace, love and nonviolence, through diplomacy and small charities is a way to make known to the Afghans, through a different approach, the life and a way to let Jesus into their hearts. " (SC)