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In Somalia, bishop travels incognito

July 23, 2014

Bishop Giorgio Bertin, who serves the tiny Catholic community in Somalia, reveals that he hides his identity when he visits the troubled African country.

“When I go there, I don’t put any external sign that I am a Catholic bishop or a Christian because it is too dangerous,” the bishop said. Bishop Giorgio Bertin, whose own diocese is in Djibouti, also serves as apostolic administrator of the Mogadishu diocese, which has not had its own bishop since Archbishop Pietro Colombo was killed in July 1989.

The Catholic population of Somalia has virtually disappeared after 25 years of civil warfare. Today the country lacks an effective national government, with rival warlords and Islamic rebels controlling much of the territory. “My intention is to renew a permanent presence of the Church in Somalia,” Bishop Bertin said. “But unless there is a governing state and security, it is not possible for us to return in a permanent way.”


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