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Guinea leaving ‘slavery’ for ‘promised land’ of democracy, says prelate

CWN - October 19, 2010

A largely Muslim nation with a tortured history of Church-state relations is “on the path of liberation from the shackles of slavery,” its leading prelate said in a pre-election message.

After gaining independence from France in 1958, Guinea nationalized Catholic schools, outlawed Catholic youth organizations, and expelled foreign missionaries. From 1971 to 1979, Archbishop Raymond-Maria Tchidimbo, now 90, was imprisoned on charges of attempting to overthrow the military regime.

“We have become a conglomerate of ethnic groups each claiming its legitimacy to rule the others by appropriation, using all means of political and economic power,” lamented Conakry Archbishop Vincent Coulibaly, the west African nation’s leading prelate since 2003. “Where are we headed, proclaiming slogans in the name of democracy? Are we sincerely willing to break with the old man who lives in us, with the 'mafia' practices of the past? Are we ready to be reborn again, to submit to the demands of transparency, the constraints of the law?”

3% of the nation’s 9.0 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics; some 5% are Protestant, and 85% are Muslim.

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