Traduzione inglese della lettera della Conferenza episcopale dell’Eritrea al ministro della sanità Amna Nurhussein, inviata il 13 giugno dopo la chiusura da parte del governo di tutti i centri di assistenza sanitaria e ospedali di proprietà della Chiesa cattolica (cf. SettimanaNews).
God’s Peace Be Upon You.
It is to be recalled that since 1995 the Catholic Church of Eritrea has notified the Government of Eritrea of its mission in providing health services. Because this Church’s life is linked to providing services, it has never stopped serving the public. It has an obligation to provide material and spiritual support. To provide labor of love, to make humanity whole, to contribute in the development and nation building is its obligation and its right. It is clear, that all its services are people-focused and not against the government and the country, neither designed to compete with nor replace it.
History recalls that in 1982, the Derg [Ethiopian] government, based on its hostility to religion and spiritualism, confiscated the properties owned by the Catholic Church. Because the Derg regime was a foreign power, we didn’t anticipate any better behavior from it. Although what it did was very saddening, because we had our own children and brothers fighting for our independence, we did not lose hope.
Since independence, the history of our church witnesses that we have repeatedly requested that the properties unjustly confiscated be returned to us.
What is most saddening is the directive issued yesterday, Wednesday June 12, by the government through its soldiers, police and doctors ordering us to surrender Catholic health-facilities. Its [the directive’s] abrupt content and spirit is unclear to us. In some areas, they bullied those in our service and ordered them to evict the patients receiving health services and to close down the buildings and stand guard on our monasteries. How can this happen in a country with law and order? How can health services provided by the Catholic Church, services that were being provided in coordination with the government, be abruptly stopped without any compensation?
For the government to say, “I don’t need the services offered by the Catholic Church”, is one thing. But to confiscate the Church’s property is not right.
Most of the health centres are inside our monasteries. It is impossible to pester our health centres without intruding into our monasteries. To confiscate our properties is to affect the continuity of the Church: it puts in jeopardy the mission of the Church, that is, that of its monasteries and those who serve in it.
We are saddened by what is happening to the health centres in our monasteries these days; we hereby put on notice that we are not happily and willingly giving up our properties. If such steps continue, we consider it as violation of the rights of the Church. And any initiative using the logic of force will have severe ramification and the Church will not be taking any responsibility for it.
In conclusion, even now, the Catholic Church is, as usual, ready for discussions and reaching understanding. We advise that everything follows law and order, proceed in a dignified manner and does not disturb the properties of the Church.
May the Almighty God Bless our country
His Holiness Fr Mengesteab Tesfamariam, Archbishop of Metropolitan Asmara Archeparchy
His Holiness Fr Tomas Osman, Bishop of Barentu Eparchy,
His Holiness Fr. Kidane Yebio, Bishop of Keren Eparchy
His Holiness Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, Bishop of Segheneity Eparchy