Agenzia Fides – Algiers.
This “complete and definitive” closure was announced in a communiqué from the Archdiocese of Algiers, signed by the Archbishop Emeritus of Alger, Archbishop Paul Jacques Marie Desfarges, President of the Algerian Diocesan Association.
The Church has a charitable mission
According to the communiqué, the measure was taken at the request of Algerian authorities. “Of course,” the text says, “the Catholic Church remains true to its charitable mission at the service of society and in connection with all people of goodwill.”
According to Archbishop Desfarges’ statement, “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God … believers are called to express human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need,” reads in part the statement announcing the closure of Caritas Algiers.
Service to the most vulnerable
“The Catholic Church,” concludes the communiqué, “would like to thank all those who, over the years and in different ways, contributed to the realisation of the humanitarian service to the most vulnerable among the Algerian people”.
The Algerian government decided to stop activities of Caritas Algeria without giving a detailed official justification to the Bishops of the Catholic Church in Algeria. Local sources told Agenzia Fides that Caritas was probably the subject of restrictive measures because it is considered a foreign non-governmental organisation.
Restrictions on NGOs
Representatives of the local Catholic community also see a connection with the general policy of restrictions recently imposed on foreign and multinational NGOs working in Algeria. The local Church was of the opinion that Algerian authorities did not consider the uniqueness of Caritas as the charitable arm of the Catholic Church, a uniqueness that distinguishes it intrinsically and “by law” from non-governmental organisations, including those working in the field of humanitarian aid.
Caritas Algeria’s initiatives were designed and implemented to benefit the most vulnerable sections of the Algerian population, ninety-seven per cent of whom profess Islam.