NauMai September 2021
Pope Francis has called for dialogue to end the conflict in Afghanistan so that locals can live in peace, safety, and with mutual respect.
‘I join in the unanimous worry about the situation in Afghanistan. I ask you to pray along with me to the God of peace so that the clamour of weapons ends and that solutions can be found around a table of dialogue,’ Francis said to the thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square.
‘Only this way can the martyred population of that country – men, women, elderly and children – return to their homes and live in peace and security in full reciprocal respect,’ he said.
Francis’ words came at the end of his Sunday Angelus prayer, 15 August 2021, as news broke of the Taliban entering Kabul.
The Jesuits, who have been in Afghanistan since 2004, have suspended their mission in the country indefinitely. Two Jesuit priests were among many Indian nationals in Afghanistan waiting for their government’s evacuation flights. Four Missionaries of Charity nuns were also awaiting evacuation from the country.
Caritas Italiana, a Catholic charitable organisation working in Afghanistan said it fears for the safety of Christians in the country, and that the group may need to suspend its activities as instability increases. Caritas Italiana’s current focus in Afghanistan is helping vulnerable minors.
‘But the instability of the situation will lead to the suspension of all activities,’ a statement released by Caritas said, adding that ‘fears are growing about the possibility of maintaining a presence even in the future, as well as for the safety of the few Afghans of Christian belief.’
Caritas Italiana also said the few Catholic priests and religious in Afghanistan are also being left with no choice but to leave.
According to The Associated Press, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the hundreds of billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces.
The Taliban swiftly defeated, co-opted, or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swaths of the country, even though they had some air support from the US military.