ERITREA: Bishops Criticize Nationalization of Catholic Institutions


ASMARA, JUNE 11, 2021 (CISA)-Catholic bishops in Eritrea have called out the Government for forcefully taking over educational and health institutions that belong to the Church.

In a letter to the Eritrean Minister of Education, Mr Semere Reesom, the bishops said they are at a loss and do not understand the real purpose of the continued seizures of Church property.

“The schools and clinics confiscated or closed, or about to be confiscated or closed, are the legitimate property of the Catholic Church, built, established and organised in the supreme and exclusive interest of serving our people. We declare again that she will never cease to demand the return of the social institutions forcibly taken from her and the right to perform all the services of which she has been deprived. It is also of no small importance that, while some of these institutions are outside the perimeter of religious houses, others are located within the walls of those houses,” the letter reads in part.

According to Vatican News on June 10, the bishops affirmed that they are not in competition with the State by running health and educational services. The bishops disclosed that the new measures are subjecting them to a loss and that they do not understand the real purpose of the continued seizures of Church property.

“It is well known how in 2018 secondary schools belonging to this Church were confiscated. Recently, procedures have begun for the confiscation or, perhaps, closure of our remaining educational institutions. These range from kindergartens to primary and secondary schools,” said the Bishops.

The Bishops reminded the Eritrean Government that the Church is not in competition with the state but have only one desire: To serve all Eritreans. They have decried the continued take-overs of Church property as unjust.

“Just as in the past some members of the Eritrean government forcibly closed down some and nationalised other health centres, which served the people with exemplary dedication and without any distinction of religion, ethnicity or group, so too today the authorities continue to try to make the people believe that the health and educational institutions belong to the people, and not to the Church,” the prelates said while denouncing the measures.

In 2019, hospitals and clinics belonging to the Catholic Church and other faiths were shut down and seized by the government after the Church refused to hand over the facilities to the government.