Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli: "Even If Only One Christian Remains, I Will Stay Here"

Official Speaks on Deteriorating Situation Facing Libya's Christian Community

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) Staff Reporter | 1468 hits

The Apostolic Vicar of Libya says his nation's future is in God’s hands.

"The Christian community in Libya is now reduced to a minimum, but I intend to stay here, even if only one Christian remains," Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, told Fides.

Airport facilities in the nation's capital of Tripoli have been seriously damaged due to bloody clashes between various militias seeking control of the airport, reported Vatican Radio. Even more confusing is the situation in Cyrenaica due to the presence of different militias fighting for the control of the territory.

Since the fall of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, the country’s former ruler for more than 40 years, Libya has been going through an increasingly difficult period. Just three years ago, the U.S. and NATO helped liberate this African nation from his dictatorship.

Presently in the nation, heavily armed militias are battling for control of Tripoli, Benghazi, and the international airport. The nation's attempts to establish a democracy have been crushed.

Reflecting on the Christian community in the African nation, the vicar said: "In Cyrenaica, there are no nuns while the majority of Filipinos are leaving the region, who are the heart of the Christian community in Libya."

“In Tripoli," he noted, “there is still a good presence of Filipinos but even here many of them are leaving." He added, “The Church lives in relationship with this presence of lay people who work in the health sector and given the situation this is really a time of strong ordeal. I do not know where we will end up but I am confident that a group of people will be here to serve the Church."

Although “fighting seems to have ended,” Bishop Martinelli said, “the situation remains precarious. The airport is closed and people start boarding ships. Even the journey overland to the Tunisian border has become impossible."

“I still have confidence in the future of Libya, but we are in God's hands," added Bishop Martinelli. He said, "I cannot leave the few remaining Christians".

The Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli launched an appeal for prayers, as “prayer alone can solve difficult situations like the one in Libya today."