DJIBOUTI, JUNE 23, 2003 (ZENIT.org–Fides).- The bishop of Djibouti is urging the Catholics in this small African republic to offer the public witness of their faith — even if they aren’t here for long.
At the end of a recent Church meeting that focused on the Christian presence in this state in the Horn of Africa, Bishop Giorgio Bertin issued a pastoral letter to remind the small Catholic community of the value of its witness of the faith.
In the letter, entitled “You Shall Be My Witnesses in Djibouti,” Bishop Bertin writes: “After fifteen months of study, I would like to share with you the fruits of our work as a stimulus for reflection and commitment for all those Catholics who find themselves in Djibouti if only for a year or two.”
“In fact, it must be said that except for a small group of permanent residents, most of the Catholics called to offer a lifestyle of Christian witness in Djibouti, are only here temporarily for a few months or a couple of years,” he adds.
“What counts,” he continues, “is not the length of our presence, but the fact that we are conscious that whatever the reason for our being here, the Lord asks us to bear witness to God made man, God who manifests his divinity not in his almighty power, but in the humility of daily life, lived at the service of the truth and love for all men and women.”
Bishop Bertin urges Catholics in Djibouti, living side by side with non-Christians, to share in their daily life “with the local people the love which God has given us, the hope he has placed in our hearts, and the faith he has given us through no merit of our own.”
Djibouti has a population of 638,000 (though estimates vary), 97.5% Muslim. Christians comprise 2.31%, including Catholics at 2.25%. The Catholic Church is organized in one diocese, which has five parishes and three mission stations. There are two diocesan priests, four religious priests, five brothers, 19 sisters, 27 lay missionaries and 16 catechists.