Since the establishment of the Federal Government last year, Somalia and particularly the nation’s capital of Mogadishu, has made historic steps forward in terms of peace, stability and economic development. While no one denies that Somalia still has a long way to go, and that the present hard earned peace is still very fragile, it must be said that the current situation is more hopeful than any period since the start of the civil war in 1991.
Given this situation, and that there is an official and somewhat stable government authority to deal with, the Catholic Church seeks to officially reestablish her presence in Somalia, and particularly in Mogadishu. To this end, H.E. Msg. Giorgio Bertin OFM, the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu, has approached the Somali government, explaining the Church’s desires.
In a letter to the Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs, Msg. Bertin expresses in point form a number of requests for the Church in Somalia. The letter mentions how the Church has been present in Somalia for the past 22 years of turmoil, mainly through humanitarian projects worked often in conjunction with local Somali partners; as well as through public interventions of the Pope on the situation in Somalia.
Among the requests the letter makes, the desire for a ‘physical and permanent presence’ comes to the fore. This presence will be expressed in the reopening of a place of worship for Christians, particularly among the expatriate community, as well as an office for CARITAS Somalia, the Church’s humanitarian branch.
Among other things, the letter makes reference to Church property and buildings that have been destroyed and, in many cases, have been inhabited by displaced persons. The letter also mentions the possibility of a visit by the Papal Nuncio which could lead to obtaining full diplomatic ties between the Holy See and the Federal Republic of Somalia.
As such, there remains much to pray for. The acceptance of these points by the Somali government would be a huge step forward for the Catholic Church in Somalia, who for the present is severely hampered in her mission of peace and justice among the afflicted peoples of Somalia.
Our Lady of Africa, pray for Somalia and for the Church in this land. Amen.