Archbishop Mathieu is in Tehran
The Embassy of Iran to the Holy See sends a note to clarify an article in AsiaNews. The prelate “entered Iran on 12 November 2021” where he “now devotes himself to his activities.” Sister Giuseppina Berti’s “residence permit was renewed”.
Following the article "Catholics in Today’s Iran: the Testimony of a Chaldean bishop" published in AsiaNews on Sunday, 6 February, we received the following statement from the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See (translated from the original Italian):
Thomas Meram in the course of the said interview states that Mgr Dominique Mathieu, archbishop of Isfahan of the Latins, was not authorised to enter Iran and is still waiting. This is completely false and unfounded since Monsignor Mathieu, after receiving his visa, entered Iran on 12 November 2021, where he received his work permit and now devotes himself to his activities.
As for Sister Giuseppina Berti, we note that, contrary to what was stated in the interview, her residence permit was renewed and she continues to live in the house of her congregation without any difficulty.
With regard to concerns expressed by Monsignor Meram – who lives in Iran and whose own interview is evidence of an open atmosphere and freedom of expression – over a crackdown on Christians, who have been present in Iran since the beginning of Christianity, we note that they continue to enjoy the religious freedom to carry out their activities, worship in their churches and devote themselves to their programmes in accordance with the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran. They also have their own representatives in the Islamic parliament.
This delegation emphasises that the above statements, published by an information agency promoted by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, harm the good bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See expects this agency to publish this rebuttal to the false claims by Mgr Meram as soon as possible.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See
We take note of the clarification by the Embassy informing us that Mgr Mathieu, appointed by Pope Francis on 8 January 2021 as archbishop of Tehran-Isfahan of the Latins and ordained bishop in Rome on 16 February was able to enter Iran on 12 November 2021, and that the problems in renewing Sister Giuseppina Berti's visa have also been solved. We apologise to those concerned and to the readers for not duly updating (us, not Mgr Meram) the contextual information, which we have done now.
We are happy that Mgr Mathieu and Sister Berti are in Iran and able to carry out their ministry.
We are, however, surprised by the tone of the reaction to an article that – in its essential part and in its title – simply gave an account of the life of the Chaldean Catholic community in Iran, describing its activities and mentioning concerns that its small size makes evident to all. We dare to think that the fate of the good bilateral relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holy See has very little to do with an error in a paragraph of an article in AsiaNews.