Kabul (AsiaNews) - "In a
country that seems to have no way out, let us pray that after Calvary,
Resurrection will follow. Here, the Passion of Christ is represented by millions
of people who suffer every day the tragedy of war, hatred and poverty," said Fr
Giuseppe Moretti, a priest in charge of the parish church inside the Italian
Embassy (pictured). The tiny Christian
community, he told AsiaNews, is "a
catacomb Church, quiet, discreet, but industrious because it bears witness to Christ
amid the Afghan people through the example of their life and the daily presence
Despite difficulties, many
people are participating in Holy Week celebrations this year. The presence of soldiers,
including high-ranking officers, at Mass is a sign of hope. "The Church was
packed on Palm Sunday," the clergyman said. "Palm trees are a symbol of peace,
but here, everything reminds us of Afghanistan's terrible reality, which is dominated
Today, the small
community celebrated the liturgy of the Passion. This will be followed by Easter
vigil and a solemn mass. "We expect many people, especially during the
vigil, but those who come do so at their own risk," Father Moretti explained.
In a country that is 99
per cent Muslim, mentioning the Gospels is prohibited. Christians are not
allowed to display religious symbols and only a daily Mass can be performed. Processions
cannot even take place inside the embassy.
"This is not an obstacle,"
Fr Moretti noted. "We are approaching Easter with enthusiasm and the fullness [of
time], as we were inside a beautiful cathedral. The location makes no
difference, Christ's presence does."
Fr Moretti, the mission means first and foremost working
with the soldiers who have direct contact with the Muslim population. "The
values of the Gospel," he said, "are also passed on through them."
The six priests in the
country all serve as military chaplains stationed in the various NATO bases around
the country. Their task is to help Christians working in the country rediscover
Mass on 24 March, we saw that our presence made sense only if we lived as Pope
Francis put it, as true "shepherds living
with the smell of the sheep," bearing witness to the Gospel wherever the Lord sends us.
About 15 men and women religious
operate in Afghanistan, Father Moretti included. The Little Sisters of Jesus (four
in total) are the oldest group. They have been active in the country for 50
years and earned even the respect of the Taliban.
With the fall of the
Taliban regime in 2001, the Sisters of Mother Teresa were allowed into the
country. Since 2006, they have been working with the sick and poor.
recognised and appreciated by Kabul residents is a children's association that works
with orphans and the disabled. (S.C.)