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October 28, 2007

Mass of the minority ..

Last Tuesday night I had the deeply moving privilege of joining a small congregation of some forty Christians, Catholic and Protestant, who meet together for a Catholic Mass celebrated by a little Bishop from Benghazi. Bishop Silvester is a gentle little Franciscan who celebrated a wonderful eucharist for us all, and though many chose not to take communion, he gave to all who did, of his flock or not.

Talking to him has been an education and certainly made me feel very humble. Christians here are a minorioty, and some thirty five years ago all Christian Chuirch buildings were confiscated and closed. Officially they are still allowed to meet and worship, but under no circumstances are they allowed to demonstrate any public sigfn of their faith, or to attempt to speak of it to any Muslim. There is also a very "low grade' campaign of harassment, ranging from the man with the keys to the school hall they are allowed to use for their once per month public service being "away" and the keys with him, to the local youth gathering outside to noisily "play" while the service is held, and then follow the congregation home as they disperse.

Bishop Silvester was staying in the "Guest House" with me, so I took the opportunity to walk with him and provide a larger presence refusing to the be intimidated when some of the youths deliberately blocked our way by simply moving to stand across the pavement. I suggested that they might like to move, got a filthy look for my pains and a "no spik English" rather belied by the fact that only minutes before they had been loudly discussing Manchester United - in English. The little Bishop has had his church burned down twice and was recently informed that he can buy back his cathedral now, but must restore it to its original condition himself. Having been closed for thirty years it is now in a ruinous state and the congregation is unable to raise the sort of money needed. There is also the fact that any donations to them must be declared and all mail addressed to them is opened and confiscated if it contains anything deemed to be proscribed by the state.

We in Britain and the West should take note of this, particularly as, if our politicians are permitted to continue their campaign of subversion of Christianity in our own countries and, particularly in Britain, to promote Islam, allowing a separate "Parliament' in Bradford for "Muslim Affairs" then we will shortly be changing our religion in a big way.

I am humbled by the experience of sharing worship with these people. I am huimbled and shamed because we in Europe do not know the damger our politicians and civil servants have placed us in. I am humbled and ashamed that we care so little for our brothers and sisters in their hardship. I may never pass this way again, but I will never forget this little congregation of saints in my prayers either.

Posted by The Gray Monk at October 28, 2007 04:53 PM

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