Bishops Calls for Support of Democracy Movement

Tunisia's tiny Catholic community prays for the country's transition to democracy and hopes that the nation will embrace full religious freedom, said Archbishop Maroun Lahham of Tunis. "We are certainly for the separation of 'mosque and state,' but we say clearly that a healthy democratic society must have as its foundation values that, whatever anyone says, have a religious root: freedom, respect, peace, equality, the preferential option for the poor, solidarity," the archbishop said. The archbishop wrote a pastoral letter on the attitude that Tunisia's 22,000 Catholics—all of whom are foreigners—should have toward the North African country's political and social changes. Tunisia's authoritative government was overthrown in January and a process of democratization began. For Christians, Archbishop Lahham said, the first wish "is to see the country finally arrive at a democratic regime. It is clear that a revolution is one thing, and a successful democratic transition is another." As part of a religious community that makes up less than 1 percent of Tunisia's population and is composed of noncitizens, Catholics in the country are called to be prayerful, supportive and humble witnesses of how God's spirit is at work, he said. "The vocation of the church is to love the world as God loves it, to see the world as God sees it," he said.

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