After about 100 years, the presence of the Catholic Church in Afghanistan ended, as the Taliban seized power. The ANSA news agency reported Thursday that the only Italian priest Barnaby Giovanni Scalizzi left the country.
A priest evacuated to Rome on a military plane with five nuns
Since 2014, Father Scalese has been the head of the Catholic mission in Afghanistan and at the same time chaplain of the Italian Embassy in Kabul. He was evacuated to Rome on a military plane with five nuns. They arrived with 14 disabled children, under the care of the sisters, as well as Afghans, Italian diplomatic and contingent collaborators, activists and their families.
We thank God for the successful outcome of the operation
Bernabet wrote on social media. He also resumed:
Keep praying for Afghanistan and its people.
The end of a hundred years of the presence of the Catholic Church in Afghanistan?
As emphasized, the departure of the only Catholic priest from Afghanistan marks the end of the Catholic Church’s century-old presence in this country.
Ansa recalls that in 1919 Italy was the first Western country to recognize the independence of Afghanistan, and as a token of gratitude, was granted the right two years later to establish a chapel for foreign Catholics in its embassy in Kabul. It was the only Catholic place of worship in the Afghan capital.
The first priest came to Afghanistan in 1931 when Pope Pius XI entrusted this task to the Barnabit. John Paul II elevated their attendance rank in 2002, making the first essential step to establishing a local church. The Polish pope created there a “special mission”, that is, a message, which is the first stage of the Church’s existence in regions where there are few Catholics or where the political status of the region is uncertain.
But, as mentioned, serious difficulties persisted. Successive Afghan governments have allowed this presence only as a point of reference for Catholic foreigners, that is, diplomatic officials and soldiers. At the same time, they banned all proselytizing activities among Afghans.
„Approaching the capital’s airport was extremely dangerous.”
Father Scalese, 66, said upon his return to Italy: “Throughout our stay in Kabul, we did not feel lonely while waiting for our departure; both the church was close to us, because I was in contact with the Vatican State Secretariat, and Italian institutions.”
The Pope was interested in this and followed him
The Italian priest admitted that it was very difficult for the nuns and for himself to leave Kabul.
We made our first attempt a few days ago, to no avail. Approaching the capital airport was a very dangerous matter
kpc / PAP
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