Oct 28, 2016

Somaliland: Catholic Church Re-Opens in Hargeisa

Photo courtesy of Somalilandpress

The bishop responsible for the region has announced that a Catholic church has been re-consecrated in Hargeisa. What would be impossible in Mogadishu, Somalia, has now become reality in Somaliland’s capital. Although there are not many Catholics in the country, Bishop Giorgio Bertin underlined the importance of this tolerant decision that allows them to freely express their faith.

Below an article published by Somalilandpress

Bishop Giorgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu, told Aid to the Church in Need that he had re-consecrated the church of St. Anthony of Padua, which had been shut down for years because of the danger Christians face in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. “Not many people come to Mass—ten at most,” the bishop said; “but nonetheless it is important.”

Bishop Bertin said that he spoke to local officials in Hargeisa last year about re-opening the church. Hargeisa is located in Somaliland, a region that has declared its independence. Although neither the Somali government nor the international community has recognized Somaliland as an independent state, in practice the region is fairly free from control by the provisional government in Mogadishu.

Bishop Bertin reports that “there is no possible way of having a presence in Mogadishu.” Although there are a few Catholics still living in Somalia, their lives are in danger if they are identified. All pastoral work is done secretly, the bishop explains, saying: “Even if it has to be silently, it is better to be there than not to be there.”