Archbishop of Tunisia: “I will not leave Libya as long as a single Christian is alive here”

Tripoli, March 10, 2015

Despite the alarming situation developing around the Christians living in North African countries, archpastors of the dioceses of Tunisia and Libya are continuing their ministry and refusing to abandon their flock, reports the MCN portal with the reference to the Vatican Radio.

ISIS militants in the vicinity of the Libyan town of Darnah, not far from the border with Egypt: photo by ISIS militants in the vicinity of the Libyan town of Darnah, not far from the border with Egypt: photo by

Ilario Antoniazzi, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tunis (capital of Tunisia), has described the present situation in his archdiocese in his interview with the journalists. According to the hierarch, the recent execution of 21 Copts in Libya was only one of the numerous examples of daily terror by islamists against Christians of this country where he has been serving since 2013.

“Today the situation in Libya is totally disastrous. Any day we and our brothers can be killed… However, I personally will not leave Libya as long as at least a single Christian is alive here (and all my church colleagues here take the same stand),” said the archbishop resolutely.

He has also stressed with optimism that the problems of Muslim extremism cannot impede the Christian mission in North Africa which does find active supporters among educated young people.

“Although Christians of Maghreb, Algeria and Tunisia are not allowed to express their religious feelings actively outside of churches, our doors are open for new people all the time, and the communities are increasing on account of new people. The majority of them are young specialists who came to these countries not long ago,” Antoniazzi noted.

Nevertheless, the archpastor believes that a comparative prosperity in Tunisia may be ruined by militant-takfirists very quickly as they have a permanent access to the Libyan border. “The most frightening prospect is the establishment of underground ISIS cells in the neighboring countries, which will wreck the future of this society completely,” the archbishop emphasized.

For him inter-religious dialogue helps counter fundamentalism because, first and foremost, this dialogue enables the parties “to know each other better.” “Glory be to God, the Muslim-Christian relationships in Tunisia are constantly being built: the Church as well as Islamic organizations often arrange polemical meetings… And that is why the Muslim environment respects Christians and their contribution to the common cultural building of the society,” said Antoniazzi in conclusion.


Gonzalo Diaz de Teran5/24/2016 5:18 am
It should be specified "the RC archbishop of Tunisia". Without specifying, we understand it to refer to an Orthodox Bishop.
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