Catholics Asked to Leave Libya

libyan flagDue to a lack of security and the government’s refusal to intervene, authorities are urging all Catholic religious communities to leave the country.

AsiaNews is reporting that armed Islamist gangs have turned the country of Libya into a lawless land which has become especially dangerous for the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations. However, instead of stepping in and trying to restore order, the government is simply asking those who work for the Church, and in Catholic hospitals and schools, to leave the country.

Because of “The lack of security [. . .] most religious communities that came to work in public health at the request of the Libyan authorities have been asked to leave the country,” said Monsignor Vincent Landel, archbishop of Rabat (Morocco) and President of the Episcopal Conference of North Africa, to Asia News.

According to Landel, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli told him, “I did not think Libya would one day experience such a situation and would ask us to leave … It is for me a terrible suffering. Even if I do not understand the design of God through it all, with my brothers and sisters who are still there, I try to hold onto hope.’”

Attacks on Christians in Libya have increased since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the nation from 1969 to 2011.

As a result of this new development, nuns, doctors and nurses, who served in the only hospitals that operated during the war leading up to Gaddafi’s ouster, are now being forced out of the country.

Anonymous sources told AsiaNews that the country of Libya is now split in two. “In Benghazi, the Church is under constant threats and it is now almost impossible to work. The situation is very risky.”

The only place where a Catholic can still work is Tripoli – but even that has risks.

“The city is safe for the moment,” they noted. “This allows [health] operators and the Sisters of Charity to help the hundreds of migrants who come to the city every day, waiting to find the money to flee to Europe. Yet, we need to tread very carefully because even in the capital, armed gangs roam the streets and no one can be trusted. Migrants are hiding in convents and private homes to avoid being robbed or killed.”

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